Tag Archives: learning to live

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

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?

Autumn Flowers and Happy Dances

autumn2All I did was wash my hands after vacuuming the living room carpet, glance at the vase of beautiful autumn flowers sitting on my hutch, and now I’m caught up in tears of joy as I thank God over and over for the small things that mean so much to me.

I can distinctly remember the days of gazing at houses twinkling in the darkness, beckoning to me as we would drive from motel to hotel during our days of music ministry. My heart ached for a home to call my own; to have lamps softly lighting the family room, the kitchen teeming with delicious smells, delightful sounds,and of course, laughter. To welcome, to nurture, to relax, to love. I wanted it all.

Now I do. I have it. My space may be small, and I may not have a husband to enjoy it with anymore, but my children want to be here with me, and I am completely grateful. It actually caught me off guard last night as I looked into the living room from my kitchen and noticed the way the light was casting a warm glow over the room… and my heart remembered what I had longed for so many years ago. SO many bridges have been crossed since then; so much learning and hurting and stretching. And now, not only do I have a space to call my own, but I also have a simple luxury like autumn flowers bought from the grocery store to add to my Thankfulness Picture.

See, today I also experienced the incredible satisfaction of being able to catch up on my rent. Years of always being behind on bills, countless moments of anxiety, hyperventilation-sessions, and stolen tears in the shower are all behind me now. Not because I’ve won the lottery or hit the business-big-time, but because I am in process of learning the valuable art of Rest.

What a glorious word. What a coveted concept. We all want it, but often don’t have a hot clue how to attain it. But my Lord is teaching me, and I am a slobbery-wet-mess-of-thank-you’s for it.

I had a deadline to come up with what I owed in rent by November, and I wasn’t exactly sure how I would pull it off without having my utilities shut off or go without gas & food. My paycheck as a care-giver to the elderly is adequate to just get things taken care of by the skin of my teeth each month, but when the unexpected happens (which it did), and I fall behind (which I did), I’m screwed. But in my time with God that I selfishly crave each day, He has been teaching me to trust Him completely. That my life matters to Him, and no matter what happens, I am not alone, and I matter. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll have unicorns flying around my head pooping rainbows with pots of gold at the end, but that there is Someone who gives a damn about me, and He calls me Beloved.

He makes me cry.

Good tears. Happy ones.

He sees me. He gives a rip.

I know that what He is doing is cultivating a die-hard trust in Him, because life will always have its yucky stuff to throw at and around me. But knowing that I am seen, that I matter, that there is purpose and goodness here too — well, that makes a big difference to me. There seems to be such an endless amount of pain in this world, so much dark stuff that overwhelms and chokes and disheartens, leaving us to feel helpless or hopeless or both.

The thing is: He Is Our Hope. That’s why He came. To help.

To bring us Hope.

And Faith.

And Love. Lots of strong, blow-your-mind kind of love.

So I chuckle at my silly tears (I’m still getting used to the ease with which they burst forth since I went for nearly 10 years without letting any slide), and let loose a gushing million thanks to the Lover of my soul. For the small things that make me feel so big. For being able to do a happy dance with the apartment property manager and celebrate a victory only God could win.

geez, where’s the kleenex?

xo

Sheavaun

Blessing Prayer

Have you ever prayed a blessing prayer? Pray it over yourself, your friends, and your family.

 

Blessing Prayer by Michael W. Smith

In the name of Jesus Christ, I bless you with the promises of God which are “yes” and “amen.”

May the Holy Spirit make you healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit to move in faith and expectancy.

May God’s angels be with you to protect and keep you.

Be blessed with supernatural strength to turn your eyes from foolish, worthless, and evil things, and to shut out the demeaning and the negative.

Instead, may you behold the beauty of things that God has planned for you as you obey His Word.

May God bless your ears to hear the lovely, the uplifting, and the encouraging.

May your mind be strong, disciplined, balanced, and faith-filled.

May your feet walk in holiness and your steps be ordered by the Lord.

May your hands be tender and helping, blessing those in need.

May your heart be humble and receptive to one another and to the things of God, not to the world.

God’s grace be upon your home, that it may be a sanctuary of rest and renewal, a haven of peace where sounds of joy and laughter grace its walls, where love and unconditional acceptance of one another is the constant rule.

May God give you the spiritual strength to overcome the evil one and avoid temptation.

May God’s grace be upon you to fulfill your dreams and visions.

May goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your long life.

Amen.

Hand in the Water

We Are Never Alone

beautiful scenerySo here I am.

Again.

Between a rock and a hard spot.

No escape.

No negotiating.

My choices are: hard or harder.

I crumble.

…at least this time I know where to turn.

This time I’m not alone.

Unable to foresee the exact outcome of these circumstances is enough to make me melt into a puddle and slip down the drain into oblivion.

As I cry out and ask, “why?” and, “I thought You were doing something here?”, I recall a conversation the week before with one of my closest friends.

As she pulled some teeth to get me to open up, I stated that I was trying desperately to keep my head above water. Her reply was, in essence, “What for? God will be there even under the water. You just have to look for His hand.” Huh.

In other words, stop trying so hard.

I shift my focus to begging for mercy.

For deliverance.

To be pulled onto His lap and comforted.

I let myself cry and feel sorry for myself. I let myself beg the God of the Beginning and the End to hear me and not leave me.

I begged for His hand. “Where is Your Hand? Where is Your Hand?”

He rocked me until I was calm. It took awhile, but I was calm. Then He flooded my mind with songs of deliverance. Songs of hope.

Songs of His faithfulness.

So I sang. And He lifted me above the mess to see His Hand, and I grabbed hold.

Is He God or not?

Yes. Yes He is.

And I am His Beloved.

He formed me in my mother’s womb. He knows when I sit and when I stand.

Hears my every thought and knows every hair on my head.

I hear the birds noisily chattering outside my window and remember that if He cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, how much more does He care for me? They have all they need: food, shelter, color, sun, and wind.

Beauty.

Wake up Sleeping Beauty! Your King has come and not only kissed you, He has died a bloody, gruesome, agonizing death, and 3 days after that darkest of days He arose.

For you.

For me.

He has overcome.

As these revelations seep into my weary heart, I know.

I am not alone.

I pick up The Book and read as James calls us to count it all joy as we face trials and tribulations. Hard stuff. Like this. My God cares for me as a father, a friend, a master, a lover. He loves my heart. He has given me the righteousness of Christ, and the seal of His Holy Spirit.

I do not have to do this alone. I can trust Him. He has been faithful. He has told me He has great things in store. That if I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart because He loves me.

And wants my love and trust in return.

So I say, “O.k., I trust You.

I reread His promises and thank Him for them.

I sing praises to Him, and I feel Him smile.

akianesjesus

 

 

 

 

Alone

No One Likes To Feel Alone

I hate feeling alone.

cryinggirlNot being alone, I love that. No, I hate the feeling of being all alone.

Helpless. Hopeless. Small. Invisible. Unable to fix whatever is wrong, and not knowing what to do. Loved ones console as best as they can, but are at a loss to truly help.

What a horrible feeling.

I’m pretty much a do-it-yourself-er, so the few times that I have felt utterly alone have been awful experiences for me, and it’s been an automatic reflex to vow I’d never be put in a position like that again.

Keep my emotions well concealed, careful not to take too much joy from any one thing in case it’s taken from me.

Close friends few and hard-won. Emotional intimacy a risk not relished because being alone by choice was far safer than feeling alone and helpless.

Interestingly enough I discovered that I couldn’t completely shield myself. I was alone, though I wasn’t meant to be. I realized this for the 1st time as I lay fully clothed heaving in emotional agony in a dry bathtub, listening to my mother pray for me over the phone. I can distinctly remember thinking that I was not finished sobbing, yet this foreign feeling of calm or peace just washed over me. I had never experienced anything like it, and I just relaxed and absorbed it. It made me think for days afterward that I should break out of my tightly bound world of control and do some exploring. That’s when I started reading the Bible, books about the Bible, books about God, books about me and God… I had to find out what I was missing.

I’m telling you, He met me there and has never left. If you know anything about me, you’re aware of my many faults and idiosyncrasies, never mind my pride, temper, and mouth. But He’s stayed with me, and you know why? Because its not about me and whether or not I’m good enough for Him. I am because of Jesus. So I’m free to discover Him, which in turn allows me to discover myself. Sure I have my slip ups but I’m learning that I can trust Him. The same God who spoke the universe into existence gets a kick out of me, and wants me around. Cool!

As far as life being easier because of it, I’d have to say nuh-uh. Sometimes I’m sure things are going to come completely undone and I’ll never survive, but then He shows up and flexes His muscles. I love it! The things He pulls out of His hat are sometimes crazy and backward to my way of thinking, but I trust Him.

Did you know this is the same God that told Abraham he and Sarah would have so many descendants they would outnumber the stars in the sky? He waited til they were both so old and pruney they couldn’t possibly conceive on their own, and then gave them their son Isaac. It’s the same God who protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo in the fiery furnace, and protected Daniel in the den of lions. The same God that David wrote and sang about in Psalms of how great His love and power was. The same God who rose Jesus from the dead.

It’s a relationship He’s looking for, not a rehearsed set of motions and words. God wants our heart and our trust and He promises to care for us as His own.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Its quite possible that many believers in the name of Jesus aren’t necessarily believers that His heart and intentions are good.

What about you?

What Side of the Tracks Are You Proud Of?

tracksI’ve noticed something. After caring for elderly wealthy people in their homes for a few years, I have realized that the amount of money in the bank account doesn’t necessarily change the quality of a person. Sure, the weight and scale with which life has been lived can be vastly different, but people are still people.

It doesn’t matter what side of the tracks you were born on when you come to the end of your life. Yes, money can buy more comfortable care and maybe medicine to ease some pain, but money doesn’t buy you affection. No matter how many homes I’ve worked in, I can’t help but be convinced again and again that money cannot buy you love. Powerful people now relegated to a wheelchair, unable to wine and dine peers to maintain status, are left with memories of fading accomplishments, and not enough affection. Tales of conquests, fame, and well-publicized charity work get rehashed, but no one comes to visit them without ulterior motives.

I know I sound harsh, but I’m frequently amazed at the shallowness of life when it is not lived fully. Frankly, I have been stunned that the conversations I have witnessed were not coming from a movie screen, but were right in front of me. I’ve gone home wondering: “Did I really just hear that?” The motivation of money and the power so many think it possesses is passed on so easily, and I’m so surprised every time it happens. Do you not see what it got them? Are you so different? Greed and selfishness knows no boundaries.

Wealth and privilege do not guarantee character. Nor do they guarantee a heart that is full.

Was it worth it?

Will I be different?