I choose not too, sometimes.

My devoutions don’t always look like this.

I sat down today to do my devoutions. With the honest and good intention of actually doing them. Here we are an hour later and you have guessed it. They are not done. Today I spent most of my day eating four portions of lasagne and watching Ed Sheeran carpool caroke – because when you have an exam in two days, procrastination has to be your middle name.

Anyway I sat down. Opened my laptop to put on some super spiritual music so that I was you know – in the zone. I ended up writing an article for the sschool magazine and organising things for an upcoming event – my bible sat closed on my bed. I’m in the process of learning that I can meet God anywhere and in anything. I believe so strongly that secular and christian culture shouldn’t exist. That the entire earth should be cultivated to become a culture solely fixed on him. That doesn’t mean no make-up, scientific discoveries or Ed sheeran ( because that would be a third world disaster ). It simply means that God is so evidently and intricately inside each one of those things. Our God is a creative God, He desinged the world – He knows what Hess’s law is, because he gave someone the wisdom created it, He gifted Ed with his angelic voice. God is in the midst of it all. Everything.

For a while now I have been reading Romans. I love Roman’s don’t get me wrong but I want to be reading 2 kings because that is what I need to be reading in order to fulfil my reading schedule. ( I know – avid planner much). But seriously. My bookmark is in 2nd Kings, mentally, I am in 2nd kings and every day I have a conversation with God that goes like this.

 

Me: 2nd kings?

God: silent

Me: Please

God: you know that in this season I want you to know the truth about who you are, I want you to read my word to from a deeper relationship with me, not just to study and understand it.

Me: sorry God, Romans it is.

I do this everyday – you would think I would learn.

How often in our lives are we like this. How often do we mentally be in one place but physically in another. God is teaching me how to honour him better. I’m still learning. I love that we get to learn together. Be encouraged if your devotions don’t look instagram perfect. Mine rarley do. 

God knew in that season I didn’t have the mental capacity to study the Old Testemenet. He knew that I needed to hear truth, not striving. He met me in that moment and He longed for me to read His word in order to rest. Not to work harder.

I think we are all learning about rest, especially through this exam season. We need to learn to honour our body and minds capacity.  It is a truly beautiful thing that God loves us so deeply despite all of our failings. He loves to spend time with me even though often I choose not to spend time with Him.

All my love, shannon x

Posted in him

May 23rd

It has been three weeks since I came to this corner of the world. And how I have missed it. As we finish up digging deeper into what MERCY actually is and what it means for us -I want to tell you a story. A really honest story – one that really doesn’t make me seem like a good person or christ-like at all. The next hour is going to be honesty hour. From one tired and burnt out soul – to hopefully not, but probobally, another.

I’m extremely self-absorbed. Like really into myself – which is weird because honestly the world is full of so many more intresting people than myself. But even though that is true, I’m still self obsessed. If I’m honest. Which is a rule in honesty hour.

It was a Tuesday – the 23rd of May 2017. To be honest on the 23rd of May I couldn’t have told you it was actually that date. I was that far gone. I had a week full of exams and was truly feeling very sorry for myself. I had entered survival mode. Which soemtimes we can’t help but enter. But it is important to remeber survival mode isn’t what you were created for. It doesn’t exist in the kingdom of God – God created a world for us to thrive. But like many things when it comes to God I often forget and go my own way.

I was walking down the street thinking about Bali or Austria or some holiday that I was going to take really soon. With all the non-existing money I was earning from my non-existant job. I saw some rubbish on the ground. I have a rule. A rule that I don’t always stick to but still a rule. It is to pick up rubbish when I see it on the street. Yes I am that person & Yes I do care about the environment. Plus it is really good for testing how prideful you are. But that’s not the point. God said – clear as I have heard Him in a LONG time.

“Will you pick up my children who think they are trash (yes in my head God is American) and let me recycle them.”

I thought “oh that’s a nice thought, now back to my head clearing walk”. As I crossed the street, there she sat. I wish I could call her something other than she but I never got her name. She was sitting, in the cold on her coat – clutching a photograph. She was crying and blood was pouring out of her wound. Obviously at first I didn’t notice this – I was to absorbed in my head-clearing-poor-me-I-have-exams-walk.

I would love to say I stopped. That my initial thought was to help her, that I had some innate drive to sacv this woman. To atleast pray or soemthing that makes me sound like I actually want to live my life for Jesus. But I didn’t. I walked straight past her.

Afterall this night was about me. I deserved the walk – first off it was a walk, it was nothing special. I wasn’t treating to an incredible spa day. It was a walk people. Second I had worked hard all day. I justified all the reasons inside my head why I shouldn’t go check if she was ok. Afterall it was 10:30pm, I was in a dark park where people do drugs. Like real drugs, and ofcourse I know nothing of that because of my christian bubble, (but that is a post for another day). Plus she could have had a weapon, afterall leaving her there was the wise choice. Stranger danger is a real thing people.

God took control of my body in that moment and marched me – literally, to the woman. I sheepishly said are you ok.  In my head I was like she obviously isn’t shannon – wise up. But no other words would come out. I asked if there was anything I could do. I sat down. I told her I would be back in a minute. Then I got up. Fear took hold of me and I walked away. I went home. Got my mum (obviously) and then came back. There’s more to the story but that is not for today. In the end an ambulance came to take her away and heal her physical wounds.

First off I am not belittleing the fact that it is dangerous to talk to a stranger sitting alone in the park. I get that. I do. That’s why I got my mum.

However this story inheritely shows Gods heart. He asked me right before  if iI would do the very thing He knew I wouldn’t do. In that moment I felt like such a Peter. The bible is so relevant today.nThat morning I prayed the prayer, I pray every morning – “Dear Lord I thank you for this day and devote it back to you, let me not be lying when I say that I love you for today I could betray you”. (Its the shannon adaption of St Francis of Assisi’s prayer). That morning God knew that I would go a walk at 10:30pm and that I would come across a soul in need of comfort. He knew I would walk away. He knew I would be afraid.

The world that God intended us to live in may seem so far away. Huge mountains of pride, selfishness, pain, loss, busyness – stand in the way of us living life to the full. Bringing the reality of heaven on earth. All we can do is daily fall on our face, aware of the incredible things christ bought for us with His love. Know we do life with God not for God. His mercy is tangible, it is alive, it is present, it is yours – if you want it.

Becasue of His divine love and beautiful mercy he descended from a heritage of messy people to be born literally into animal mess. Why? To save the mess that is you and I. So often we make it all so complicated. Theology  can be complicated. But Jesus is perfect theology. He loved and continues to love the mess that I am. He continues to show me undeserving mercy. Even though I fail Him daily. I pay no price for this love or mercy. I simply get to live in it. And you do to. (Which is often hard to understnad). He chooses my mess and I hope that I will continue to partner with people who feel like a mess. I hope I will do it afraid but do it anyway. I hope that if I walk away 100  hundred times, I will still turn around and walk back.

From one girl living out heaven on earth afraid, to another,

Love Shannon x

Mercy, We need You

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:8-9

What a passage! The religiosity and moralistic part of me is called out and convicted here, because if we are truly honest a lot of the time we distract ourselves from our own sin by looking at the sin in others and seeing ourselves as clean. But realistically we too are so full of sin. I have been really challenged this week to humbly read God’s word, allowing myself to be convicted by what it says and I pray that you too will have this conviction as you read the verses above.

But on to the topic of mercy, I think these verses perfectly encapsulate just how great God’s mercy is for us. Not only does it tell us of God’s merciful character, but encourages us to confess our sinful nature knowing that with a repenting heart we will be made clean. By truly acknowledging the depth of our brokenness the fullness of God’s mercy is revealed to us.

The thing is we will never get everything right, as Paul writes we “all fall short of the glory of God”, therefore we are always in desperate need of His mercy. Despite the amount of times we run the opposite direction, when we return with a humble heart asking for forgiveness he mercifully embraces us. He never gets fed up or says “do I really have to give you more mercy”, instead in his immeasurable love and generosity he forgives us time and time again. However, this doesn’t give us permission to do whatever we want, but allows us to rest in the knowledge that no matter how many times we mess up “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38) because of God’s mercy.

In light of this I challenge you to take some time this week to prayerfully examine your heart,and to acknowledge your brokenness. However doing so in the knowledge that if you repent on this you will be covered in His mercy.  Remember that the Father doesn’t see us as objects of condemnation, but of praise as Paul tells the Romans in chapter 2:29, ” a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” that is the amazing, intangible, fullness of his mercy.

Fancy M&S Paper 

As exam season rolls on up in its beat up 1980s beetle I feel my faith starting to dwindle. If I’m totally honest. Balancing exams & the rest of life can be such a pain. Most of the time I forget I was put on the earth for a higher purpose than to pass my exams. (all the Christian moma’s are going to be mad). 
Working hard and diligently is so important – but that’s a post for another day. I so easily entangle my worth with a letter on a piece of paper. I think of God as the examiner circling the times I get life right and putting a disgusting red line through most of my attempts. At the end of most days; if I’m honest – I’d be sitting on a U when it comes to living for Jesus. If we are honest all of us would. But God (my favourite two words) in His beauty and wonder chose and continually chooses not to treat us like that. 

As I write these words it’s 8 am – I’ve had 4 hours sleep and I’m sitting in the darkness. Sometimes we treat our lives like this. We sit in the darkness thinking that God wants to keep us there, knowing we are unworthy of His light. Believing that if we sit here a little longer it will make Him forgive us – that the darkness will hide our darkness. But in fact the darkness simply makes the light shine brighter. The light of Jesus that is within you can never be dwindled out unless you let it & even still His truth shines out of everything He touches. 

“The lights shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

– John 1 v 15

Period. This is the truth. 

 

Mercy comes from a whole bunch of Latin words. Google it. It’s actually quite interesting but at the heart of the English word mercy is derived from misericors which means merciful. The word is derived from who God is. Merciful. If that’s not the most beautiful thing I don’t know what is! God created the word, to be understood in our language – out of a word that describes exactly who He is. 

He has never been afraid of your mess. He never will be afraid of your mess. God’s love & mercy is not a prize to be won but a gift to be shared. It’s not packaged in M&S fancy paper or got a big pink ribbon on it. It’s exposed, open, given freely always. it’s yours for the taking. All you have to do is receive. You might not deserve mercy. That’s not the point. God’s gifts aren’t based on your behaviour but on His character. I for one am so glad. 
Be blessed today. Walk knowing He is merciful. Google the word if you don’t even know what it means & begin to unpack His truths. 

He is merciful & because of this you are seen, loved and forgiven for all of eternity. 
Bundles & Bundles of love,

Shannon X

Welcome Home

Sweet One. Stop striving. You know that feeling when you are simply so tired. When the world isn’t in colours because your brain doesn’t actually have enough energy to compute them. When you feel empty and lifeless and full of regret. When you believe you are the sum of; the words you have said and those that have been said about you. It is so easy to get bogged down in the ideas of others, the pressures of who people want you to be and what they want you to do. And you know the worst bit about it – sometimes you don’t even realise the pressure you are under and how it shapes who you are becoming.

There’s a quote that says only diamonds are created under pressure. Yes that’s true – but I don’t believe we were created to be lifeless rocks that are admired and sold for a fortune. Things crack under pressure too – they break. Most of the time when something is under too much pressure it breaks and causes a disaster. So tonight I’m not going to write about some flowery, cliché quote in the hope that you will find truth and motivation. We are going to delve into the deep grit of the bible. The ugly parts, the parts we don’t understand – the whole thing. Why? Because all scripture is fundamentally written by the hands of men but the heart of God.

That means that what is written and what the bible says – is the truth. It’s the truth. Even if we don’t understand it, even if our culture screams something else at us, even if our hearts really struggle to believe it – it is truth. God has written this beautiful book for us – for you. For you to open it and be inspired, to get creative, to be encouraged, built up, corrected – because he loves us. The depth of God could never be more beautifully expressed that the harrowing image of the cross. So for all of you tonight who feel beat up and spat out this is for you. For you – who feels like you are crumbling under the pressure. Know there is a way out and his name is Jesus. His arms are always open to welcome you home.

The underlying theme of Hosea is that you are valuable. Value isn’t something that you have. It’s something that you are. God so divinely knit you together to be you. Because you have something locked inside of you that only he can unlock. Something that the whole world needs. Something beautiful. Value is part of your character – things that you touch become valuable simply because you are there. The people around you are so valuable.

Gomer was valuable, Israel was and is valuable. That’s why this book was written. To fundamentally reveal to Gods people that they’re chosen, that they’re valuable. That therefore what He has for them is greater than how they are currently living.

Gomer made huge mistakes everyday – she ran, she betrayed, she hurt others and hurt herself. Sound familiar? She got lost admits what she thought she deserved because she didn’t realise that she was made worthy of something so much more.

She didn’t realise that every dream that goes to waste finds new life before his face – he gives all you could desire and so much more. – K.DiMarco

 

In our first blog post about Gomer’s story we saw how she never believed her life could end up the way it did. God wrote this book about a whole nation not one individual – Gods power can redeem a whole a nation for he plans our rescue before we even want him. He is able to rescue you. When we let him in, we see we have value beyond anything that could compare.

So Hosea and Gomer. I hope you have enjoyed it. Words can’t express how much of a privilege it is to create something that I love for a community of people I love. Live knowing your name is value, that God doesn’t create anything to be wasted. You are always welcome home no matter how many times you wander.

Hosea 14 –
O Israel, come back! Return to your God!
You’re down but you’re not out.
Prepare your confession
and come back to God.
Pray to him, “Take away our sin,
and accept our confession.
Receive as restitution
our repentant prayers.
Assyria won’t save us;
horses won’t get us where we want to go
We’ll never again say ‘our god’
to something we’ve made or made up.
You’re our last hope. Is it not true
that in you the orphan finds mercy?”
4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
Everything you need is to be found in me.”
9 If you want to live well,
make sure you understand all of this.
If you know what’s good for you,
you’ll learn this inside and out.
God’s paths get you where you want to go.
Right-living people walk them easily;
wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

Filling the void

20170418_182214Most of us have a period of time when we’re journeying through life with Jesus, that we feel distant and feel unloved. No matter how much faith I have and no matter how much love I have for  Jesus, there is always that one patch, that week or month or however long, where you still love Jesus and you still have so much faith, but there’s something wrong, there’s something that is stopping the love of Jesus from filling you up and you start to feel unloved and abandoned. I remember when I first became a Christian, I loved it, I was so filled with joy and felt so incredibly loved, but not so long after, it disappeared, it was almost like Jesus just left me in the middle of the night with a note to say He doesn’t love me anymore.

I found things to fill the void that I thought Jesus had left. Going back to things that were so evident that I wasn’t okay and I wasn’t happy. Some days are harder than others and that’s okay, making mistakes are okay because his grace is so good and He has an undeniable mercy for each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean that we should go and do these things out of anger or hatred or because we’re feeling unloved, and we shouldn’t keep going back to these things because they might fill the void, but they won’t give you the joy that Jesus gave you before.

***

Dear Hosea,

I’ve left.

Don’t come looking for me. I don’t love you anymore. I’m exhausted with you, I’m sick and tired of the kids and changing nappies and cleaning up puke in the middle of the night. I’m sick of you loving your God more than me, and giving him more attention than you ever gave me. I’ve left the children with the neighbours and left.

Bye.

-Gomer”

That’s the letter I left to Hosea. My husband, the man I thought loved me.  I mean he did love me, I think he did. He saved me from the utter mess of my life, he said the vows “till death do us apart.” I don’t really know what love is, but it felt like love, until recently. I didn’t feel loved. I was completely exhausted and tired of him, his preaching, how could I be a preacher’s wife if I didn’t even know God if I don’t love him and he didn’t love me? Hosea loved to preach and loved to give his audience more attention than me and his kids. I don’t understand how he could name his children “unloved” and “not my people”, how heartless could you be? Yeah, maybe I did cheat, maybe I was unfaithful to him but I don’t understand how he could know that, so surely it wasn’t that.

Hosea left for work one evening. I got the chance, and I took it. I left the kids next door, wrote a note and left. I went back to my old life. I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to see everyone again and be welcomed with open arms and smiles. I thought I was the easy way out. I thought this would be the way it would be. I thought the paths would be straight and flat, with no obstacles in the way, but they weren’t, not like usual. The paths I knew so well became paths that felt like I never traveled before. I was completely and totally lost. I didn’t know where to go. I couldn’t go back to Hosea. He would never forgive me. So I was homeless. Left completely alone on the streets. No shelter, no clean clothes, no money. Nothing.

“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’”

Hosea 2:6-7

Then something amazing and unbelievable happened…

~Gomer.

***

You see, we are more like Gomer than you would ever believe. If we said that Gomer was us and Hosea was God, would you relate? Definitely. Gomer felt distant, she felt unloved, she felt exhausted. Gomer Felt these things. She wasn’t these things.

These things she felt made her feel somewhat empty, so there she went and found something to fill that void. She left her world behind. Her husband, her children, her home, her new life. And she went back to her old life. The miserable, homeless, poor life where she spent her nights sleeping around just to get by and buy a meal. She filled the void by sleeping around and getting just enough money to eat.

Hosea loved Gomer incredibly and abundantly, just like God loves us undeniably. We often find things to fill the void whether it be alcohol, relationships, sex or drugs when we feel distant from God and when we feel he isn’t with us. It’s so important to know that when we feel like this, He is still with us and He does still love us and He wants you to be happy. We know that He will never leave us, so why do we allow the devil to make us believe it? He is always there and He will always love you. Stop looking for something to fill the void and start looking for Jesus. I Promise it will be completely fine!!

SSL. x

*It was an absolute privilege to carry on in Shannon’s Legacy for part 3 of the last 2 parts. I pray that I didn’t take anything away from her beautiful adaptation of the story, or indeed the Original story and I hope you enjoy part 3 as much as I enjoyed writing it and as much as you enjoyed Shannon’s posts.

– Katelyn.

 

 

Take Me Back

When I came to church for the first time – I hadn’t really grew up a church kid. One of my first experiences of a kid’s camp was leading one. Whoever was doing the memory verse used to say it in all different voices? Remember that? That’s where I’m going with this.

God is at work in your circumstances. (Normal)  GOD IS AT WORK IN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. (Shouting) God is at work in your circumstances. (In a whisper) God ooh eeh ahh – is – ooh – working – in – eeh ahh – your circumstances. (That’s a monkey – in case you didn’t catch that).

BUT SERIOUSLY. God is at work in your circumstances. Sometimes you just need to hear that. Timing cannot diminish His love or His power to work within your life. The next instalment of the story of Hosea and Gomer proves that. Our lives are living proof of it.

 

She ran away. I don’t really know if it was out of fear, shame, or pride that she did it. To be honest the reason for running from me is not the reason I pursued her. I didn’t chase after her because I wanted to know why she ran from me – why the life I had offered her wasn’t enough. I simply went after her because I loved her; I didn’t love her past and I didn’t know about her future. But I knew I loved her. I didn’t even go after her because of the kids or her responsibilities. I didn’t go after her because I wanted to control her like so often other church men paint a picture of. I wanted to go after her because I loved her with a love that felt like peeling of the layers of an onion and crying at the release of every layer. Because each layer revealed something even more beautiful about her. When onions do what onions are supposed to do they create an incredible flavour that nothing else can create. So could Gomer if she was only given the opportunity.

That’s the thing about Gomer. There is something inside of her that I am willing to fight for. What she believes she deserves is not what I have bought for her. The price I have paid for Gomer has led to sleep-less nights and empty pockets. It has led to me giving everything for her and the truth is I don’t hold it against her that she ran. All I want her to know is that in me she finds full safety, full protection, and the fullness of provision – because I know her better than anyone else.

Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife. Love her the way I, God, love the people, even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.” I did it. I paid good money to get her back. Then I told her, “From now on you’re living with me. No more whoring, no more sleeping around, you’re living with me and I’m living with you.” – Hosea 3 v 1-5 MSG

Hosea.

You see Gomer was never created to whore herself. She was bought with a price, she was cherished. Hosea was willing to give everything up for his wife. Just like God gave everything up for us. He created a world with you in mind. He sent his son with you in mind. He thought you worthy of His love, He thought you worthy of His son. He sees the inside you. Not the one plastered with a smile but the true darkness that goes on behind closed doors. He sees that part of you and says I love that part. I love the darkest, dirtiest, most shame filled parts of you and I am going to send my son to die for you so that I can love you back to full life.

God seeks us out just like Hosea sought out his wife. He seeks you out because you were never intended to live in shame. You were never intended to believe lies that you are worthless and unworthy of love. You were never created to be dictated to by your surroundings. For Hosea and Gomer it didn’t look like God was working in those circumstances. It looked like the world had won and that Hosea should just give up. But just like God he didn’t. He pursued Gomer. God pursues you. He is NEVER distant. He is NEVER bringing you shame. He is full of grace – waiting to love you back to life.

SSL Team x