Tag Archives: Christian living

You Are a Masterpiece. – What?

absolutelyMasterpiece: a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship.

You are a complex being.

You are a masterpiece.

Your thought life, your experiences, your physical well-being, your perceptions, who you think you are, are all vital components that help make up the quality of your existence.

I want to encourage you to not just accept what is o.k. or passable, but to challenge yourself to live fully. But I would remiss if I did not touch on the importance of recognizing the God of the universe and how much He digs you.

It is not about what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you.

It’s about who you are, and what He’s done for you.

There is no shame in who He created you to be. You are a masterpiece, though you may have had a few mishaps or tragedies along your way. You’re still a work of art, and He is the artist.

I used to think that God had to love me because it was just how it worked… I didn’t see His love as a deep, all-encompassing, knock-your-socks-off kind of love, because well, that was kinda weird. I was just one of the gazillion people ever to walk the earth and therefore not very important.

Funny thing is, when I slammed to the bottom of my pit of hell and finally reached out to God, begging for mercy, you know what happened? He gave me more than I ever dreamed.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot of work to do, skewed perceptions to right, and responsibility to take; but not once have I been alone. Because I took the risk to ask Him to walk with me, He has never left my side.

It’s been hard.

It’s been painful. But it’s also been full of joy. And now, as I continue this journey of becoming all that I was created to be, I recognize His smile. His beckoning. His direction.

Friend, it all comes down to this: His love and mercy is free. It cost Him immensely, so that you and I could benefit. He gave us the ability to choose. (Why do you think the world can be so messed up, and yet so good? Because He gave us the freedom to make choices and we regularly exercise that.)

When we choose to do life with Him, and when we choose to let Him love us completely as He so longs to do, that is when transformation happens.

God’s love isn’t some wishy-washy-fruity-kinda-icky-sweet-mumbo-jumbo for the weak and flighty. It is a powerful force that completes.

It is the gas in the car, the food in the system, the reason for all that is good. It makes life happen.

And it comes from one source. Jehovah.

He is Absolute, and He loves you. Absolutely.

He desires for you to become all that He intended for you to be. And He will be right there with you if you ask.

I hope you ask.

Be you. Absolutely.

Tell me, what are some of the things holding you back?
I can’t wait to read your answers.
– love,
Shev

Fear, Anger, and Dying a Slow Death

angerIt feels wrong to complain. With all the horrific things going on in the world, I am really and truly grateful, way down deep.

But times like this tend to transport me to days in the not so distant past where I was existing on the dregs of yesterday’s coffee and whatever sugary treat I had baked for “the kids”. Juggling three children along with the denial of my pent up anger, my feelings of never-quite-doing-it-all-good-enough, and my fear of the unknown was wreaking havoc on me.  I was exhausted.

Rolling out of bed in the morning was an act of sheer will.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to complain. To rock the boat. My marriage was not ideal, but I said vows, and I didn’t believe in quitting, so tough luck. My middle daughter had special needs that I was continually struggling to understand, but I had suffered the loss of her older brother, so I would suck this up too.

The result was a slow death of who I was because I could not reconcile the pain I endured, building walls around it to try protect myself from further damage.

Desperately afraid of the next wallop that I could not predict or control.

Maybe it would be an accident involving either my oldest or youngest daughter.

Maybe a freak natural disaster, like a tornado, would flatten our house and we’d be left homeless.

Maybe there’d be a fire and I would survive, but barely.

Or an intruder, or a stalker, or a drunk driver, or a wild cat prowling too close to our home, or, or, or…

Fear is debilitating. It sucks the very life out of you, leaving no room for anything else. And it got free reign in my little world because I couldn’t trust that God was good. To me.  You know, beyond sending Jesus to die and give me a ticket to eternity if I wanted it.

As a result, anger was the go-to emotion for years, fueled by my fear of … everything.

What a way to live.

I was completely at a loss as to how to stop the continual anger until I was able to reconcile that fear was at the root of it all. Fear was the reason I was dying a slow, uncomfortable death.

So what now?

Well, interestingly enough, it’s right around this particular time of enlightenment when God began to woo me. Began to teach me that He is good, and that He can bring good out of my pain. I would have preferred no pain at all, but since we were past that point I found myself drawn to know more. And as I drew closer to Him, He came closer to me, just like He promises. He taught me to trust Him in various ways, and spoke to my heart so softly, so firmly, that I slowly learned to live again. To breathe again.

Rediscovering who Sheavaun is has been a bit of an adventure, but I am grateful that I did not remain in a charred heap, never to experience the full life I was promised.

I am not a particularly “special” project for God. It’s not just for me, this change from a slow death to new life. It’s for you too. All it takes is a first step, and the willingness to hear Him, to rant and rave in His presence, and allow Him to persuade your heart to trust Him.

I hope you do.

So on days like today where I feel frustrated with my circumstances, and feel tired of waiting for things to turn around, I know I can lay it all out with this God who loves me and has made an unnecessary effort to convince me that He is trustworthy. And I can rest.

Living life is good.

– love,

Shev

Is God Personal?

churchThere was a time in my life when God was merely someone to be respected, revered, and even somewhat afraid of. I learned about Him when I was 11, then sailed through the rest of my school years attending churches and youth groups learning about Him, but somehow never actually caught on that I could know Him personally.

By the time I hit my twenties, I wasn’t ok with going to church just to follow a bunch of rules that seemed more geared to please people than to please God… if there was more, I wanted to know about it. I asked questions, I got aggravated with the answers because they seemed out of my reach, and I felt myself spinning my wheels while reaching out to try to grasp something — anything-– that would give me a taste of what I seemed to be craving.

Then life rolled off-kilter for me, and I got down to the task of barely surviving each time my heart was broken.

  • Deaths of two loved ones
  • raising a child with special needs
  • feeling alone in my marriage

I didn’t know how to process the disappointment I felt with how my life was turning out. This wasn’t what I had dreamed of.

When the only thing left for me to do was cry, I knew I was at the end of everything in my power. I did not give up readily, but this was it. The straw that broke my camel’s back was when my husband moved out, stating “it” just wasn’t working. I had nothing left in my survival arsenal to help me cope with this last blow, and I collapsed in a bedraggled heap.

It was there, in that heap, where I first experienced the presence of God. Something outside of myself covered me with a feeling of comfort, of rest, and calm.

I decided to investigate. I was hungry for more of this. Thirsty for it. Ached for it. Craved it.

And He made Himself known to me.

I have had many storms since, but God has faithfully walked with me through them. When the hopelessness weighed so heavily that I could not even raise my head, He came in and lifted it.

Time and time again.

Is God personal?

Yes.

Is God worth getting to know?

Yes.

I believe it with all I am.

– Shev

 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

“Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.” – Jeremiah 33:3

 

Knowing Jesus

 

IMG_2091As a little girl, I can remember hearing my dad make disparaging remarks about Christians, and little tidbits here and there about why evolution was the only explanation necessary; but when a couple of my school friends managed to talk me into attending a kids’ Bible study with them where I first heard about Jesus and God, I was hooked.

Funny thing is, my dad decided to trust Jesus as well within a couple of years after I did, due to a Christian friend at work. My whole family was baptized together when I was in 7th grade. I’ll never forget it.

Yet, my learning filter was a little ‘off’ due to the lies I had been hearing in my head since a young age. Maybe you’ve had a few rolling around your consciousness too; you know: There’s something wrong with me, or I’m not good enough… They affected my perspective of myself,and how I believed God saw me. Throughout my remaining school years, my belief system was wrought with rules, rules, and more rules, without much grace. Hence, I wasn’t the kind of person that attracted good attention to the Name above all names.

So, when my safe, protected young life began to unravel as a 20-something, the church scene got pretty old for me. My husband and I had a singing career and traveled the country from church to church, but the adventure wore off, and my damaged heart got sick of church politics, the do’s and don’ts of what to wear, how to speak and act… I was turned off of Christians and of church.

But somewhere buried deep I recall there being a tiny flicker of hope that there was more to this God that I had been so enamored with as a child.

Every once in awhile I would come across some genuine people that believed in this same God, who seemed to know Him in a more personal way than I did; dare I say intimately. There was a trust I didn’t understand, but knew I wanted.

So when the other shoe dropped, and my life completely fell apart and I found myself curled up in a ball, completely at the end of myself, the God who loves me and was waiting for me met me where I was.

This propelled me to start asking more and different questions, to look for Him in everything around me, to learn as much as I could, despite my aching heart. He met me and blew my mind.

All those years ago as a child, He was whispering to my heart, calling me to come closer, to let Him into my personal space, but I got caught up in the useless dressing of performance, and how I repeatedly seemed to fall short. So I’d try again, not recognizing that that’s not how it works with Jesus:

  • God became a man.
  • Paid a horrific price so we could always have access to Him, always walk with Him, and always know how loved we are.

When that truth began to seep into my weary, shattered heart – well, I can tell you that I haven’t been the same since. He has healed my brokenness, and blown a fresh breath of life into my soul.

It was not overnight, and it is not over, either. But it’s in HIM that I have learned to trust, to rest, to listen to and follow. When I get off track, he reminds me and helps me to reroute.

I am not alone.

I no longer care about the scarring scrutiny of closed-minded church-goers, because I now know that God’s grace has taken care of all that gets in the way of Him and me, and that’s all that really matters. And His love, man, His love! Fills me till I can’t help but overflow.

That’s the difference that knowing the actual person of Jesus Christ has made in my life, rather than knowing “of” Him.

He rocks my world.

Tell me: have you ever felt yourself wanting more, wondering if there was more to this whole God-church-thing?

I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment in the section below if you feel so inclined.

– love love

Shev

 

Nothing Will Be Wasted

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I am learning first hand that nothing in our lives will be wasted. That our burdens will be lifted, literally. 

Chains broken.

Our ashes will fertilize new growth.

Beauty will abound.

Come! Sing to the One who calls you by a new name! 

Come! Dance before the Maker of the stars, who smiles in adoration at your face.

Sing a new song of hope. Sing of His love!

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and watch Heaven touch the earth.

You are blessed! 

Called! 

New!

Holy Believer.

Most. Loved. Child.

Friend.

Royalty.

A priest.

You are adored.

Come.

I find myself in awe of God. Again.

I am marveling at how He calls us all, yet uses our different gifts and talents to blend and harmonize like a symphony, all to the same end: to glorify Him. To point to Him.

I shake my head as I think about how long I have known about this end result of glorifying Him, but have missed the joy, the fulfillment, the hope, and the saturation of love in the hard work of it all.

And I feel my brow furrow as I recall how as a child I would sit on my favorite rock on the lakeshore of our cabin and drink in the sunset, unaware of this great Love I would soon meet, feeling peacefully full. How as a teen I was eager to embark on the adventures of adulthood, basking in the proclamations from people I trusted that I was leadership material. (Probably because I was so bossy!)IMG_1790

– He knew me then, and the choices I would make that would lead me to where I am now, and to where He will continue to take me.

I was fortunate, I know, to grow up in a loving, middle class family; I found Jesus through friends, and hungered for adventure. But what I know now is that in order to lead well… you must serve well. And more often than not, in order to serve well, its important to know who you’re serving. And it appears that experiential knowledge is a powerful component in this.

I had no idea that the dissatisfaction I felt as a young woman regarding church and the do’s and don’t’s expected would lead me to discovering the God who loves me most through personal pain. Heartbreak. Near-poverty. Hopelessness. All to find the key to Life itself.

Leadership-shmeadership.

IMG_1243

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of my life is to learn to be loved and to walk with God so undauntingly that His love overflows into the lives of all those around me. To serve the “least of these” (Jesus’ words, not mine – loosely meaning those that are in need) with words, with actions, with time, with love. And however else He leads.

The sacrifice He calls me to will be different in size, shape and color from the person next to me because we are all so different. But the end is the same: Him. The sacrifice will be one of delight, rather than anguish, because He is my source.

May I let Him fill me so completely, so fully, that I have no doubts of His love, His power, His desire to bring His wholeness, so that now that I’ve been broken, He can be spilled out.

-Shev

Why the New Thing Doesn’t Have to Scare Your Pants Off

IMG_1538I turned to my daughter sitting in the passenger seat and said, “guess what I just realized?”

“What?”

“It was 10 years ago this month that your Dad left me.”

Her teasing smirk began to fade as she turned her body toward me a little more.

“Honey, I just filed our divorce papers this month, not even considering that it’s been 10 years in the making.”

“Holy cow. How do you feel?”

“Good. Really good.”

“I’m happy for you, Mom. I really am.”

 

Can I just tell you that there is no way on God’s green earth that you would EVER have heard me 10 years ago saying that I felt good about divorce. Ever

Forget 10 years ago, how about 2? 

It was wrong.

It was horrible.

God didn’t like it.

Christians flog you for it.

It was scary. No, terrifying.

But here I am… and am pretty ok with it.

No, I’m not numb or jaded. Or hardened.

Because I tried to save my marriage, and found myself the one who was saved instead.

All the broken pieces – He helped me pick them up.

All the wounds – He healed.

All the insecurities – He spoke to and banished.

All the holes – He filled.

All the fears – He replaced.

It’s not what I prayed for exactly, 10 years ago. But God met me in a very real, very not-what-I-was-looking-for way, and I’ll be grateful til the end of forever.

I can’t do anything about all the well-meaning people who feel obliged to email or call me and ask if I’m really sure I’ve given the whole matter over to God, and done all I can, except say: “yes, and yes.” And now I am looking into my God’s face, trusting Him to lead me even when the people He’s putting me in front of may want to shun me…

But the divorce isn’t even what I’m writing about today, it’s about the fear.

That circumstance that has dumped itself in front of you and is trying to stare you into a coma.

That new thing that is trying to scare the pants off you? Don’t let it.

You know why?

Because God is good and you are loved.

There is no one kinder than God. No one as good. No one who IS love, never mind loves like God. No one more faithful.

And YOU! You are important to Him. He made you. He designed you. He dreamed of you, and called you into being.

Sure you’ve screwed up, but you are not a screw up. Sure you’ve failed, but you’re not a failure. Sure, you may feel like a nobody, or worthless, or not able to measure up… but He sees you differently.

He sees you as you can be, and wants to love you into it.

It’s possible.

I’m proof. Of course, there’s still a reeaallllyyy long way for me to go yet, but I’m not the same woman I was.

So, don’t let the new thing scare your pants off. Because He says YOU are new, and He’s got this.

Take the first step, and let Him love on you awhile. That’s where it all begins.

-Shev

 

The Secret About Bad News and God

despairWhat do you do when you receive bad news?

I can’t answer for anyone else but myself, but I will tell you that I distinctly remember that when my Dad informed me of his prostate cancer diagnosis in 1993, the thought echoed through my mind: “This can’t be happening. This happens to other people… this can’t really be happening.” Each negative event that has occurred in my life has been met with the same disbelief; that is, until I finally became numb to the onslaught.

Horrible things like death, like illness, like abuse, separation and divorce, addiction, negligence, poverty, – these things are hard. They hit us with such a force that we find ourselves curled up on the floor in the fetal position, wondering how we will ever get up again.

We are not meant to live like this. This is not in the Original Design, and we are not wired to expect this torment, or to simply live with it.

So, what then? What do we do when we receive the news that our friend is faced with the return of her dreaded adversary, MS?

What do we do when we read that the family we’ve been praying for may have just heard the worst report possible?

When you are reminded that life and it’s heavy sledgehammer is still wreaking havoc around you, and you can do nothing to stop it?

Well… first you cry. At least, I do.

I weep for the pain I know they are enduring.

For the questions they are asking.

For the hole ripped through their heart, and the anguish that accompanies it.

The sorrow that settles in.

The disbelief. The sick feeling of being alone. Of feeling like they have lost.

The anger.

—–

And then I pray. First for myself, because I am recalling all the moments of torment that I have had to walk through.

And then I pray for my friends that are facing it right now.

You see, I have learned first-hand that despite the fact that I cannot fix things for them, as much as I long to, I know Someone who is keenly aware of what they are facing, and weeps for them as well.

Not because He is powerless.

Not because He slipped up, and the sh** hit the fan when He wasn’t looking…

But because He understands.

He knows that our lives are filled with unknowns, with pain, with unanswered questions, with despair. It is the nature of this life we live.

But can I tell you a secret?

His hands are not tied.

Now, before you get your panties in a knot, there is no way I’d go prancing up to anyone facing these dire circumstances and spout off a bunch of platitudes about God. I’m not an idiot. I’ve been where they are, though the details may vary, and it is just mean to talk about goodness in the midst of the heaviness weighing on them.

This is just between you, me, and the fence-post, OK?

I may not be able to tell you why the awful stuff happens to us, which may tick certain people off. I get it.

I can share with you that when I wasn’t looking, God showed up and covered me with that Peace that I couldn’t figure out. I cried out to Him and He answered. Not the way I wanted Him to initially, but He did answer, and you know what?

It. Has. Been Amazing.

Those promises in Scripture where God says that if we come close to Him, He’ll come even closer? They’re true.

The wide-open wounds gushing my life-blood have been tenderly and expertly tended to and are healing as we speak. Gentle words of love and devotion have been whispered to my vulnerable heart, and breezes of hope have ushered in new life.

New life that is growing out of the ashes of anguish. Of defeat. Of despair. Of loneliness. And pain.

I don’t know how He does it, exactly, but He does. And it is good… eventually.

There can be beauty again. Even if our lives have been turned inside out, upside down, and burned to the ground.

Life may be hard, but His heart is not. He is Good. And His heart is for you.

You are His Beloved, and He died to show you.

That, my dear, is my secret. Isn’t it good?