Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thank you for stopping by! I have suffered a hard drive failure and will be out of commission until I can get everything fixed. I'm praying that it won't take too long--you're welcome to pray too :). Let this be a lesson to always back up your computer--I'm so glad I did!! In His Grip, Shaunie

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To My Valentine

--
"That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying 'As you wish', what he meant was, 'I love you.'" Quote from the movie The Princess Bride
My Valentine is not the sentimental type. Our connection has never been about mushy nicknames or characterized by pink hearts and chubby cherubs. Not sentimental, no, but Hero Husband is very sensitive in his own way--he puts his feelings into action and I am SO thankful. To my Valentine, my Hero Husband, on Valentine's Day: You are the one who . . . . . . doesn't throw away my boxes of sentimental keepsakes ONLY because you love me . . . . . . secretly goes and washes my car because you heard me say I wished I could . . . . . . bought steaks for our Valentine dinner because I love them (you'd prefer chicken) . . . . . . makes an effort to understand me, even when you're sure I'm making no sense . . . . . . hands me the remote control so I can watch my bull riding . . . . . . didn't get mad when I called to say I had caused a "small" car accident . . . . . . helps me stay calm when, left to myself, I would worry . . . . . . calls me to find out what I think about the Bible passage you're studying . . . . . . sends me text messages at work to say "I'm proud of you!" . . . . . . works so hard to take care of our family . . . . . . keeps encouraging me to pursue my dreams . . . . . . who chooses to persevere and who refuses to live "under the circumstances" . . . . . . who stays at the wheel of our relationship to keep us from drifting off course . . . . . . takes leadership at home even more seriously than in your work (which is saying a lot!) . . . . . . makes it easy to "follow you as you follow Jesus" . . . Sweetheart, your love may not be the gooey, sentimental variety, but it is rock solid and you demonstrate it in ways that far outlast any box of Valentine chocolate. You love me better because you love Jesus most. You are still God's gift to me and I love you more every day!
"His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me." Song of Solomon 8:3 NIV

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Extreme Love

-- His name is synonymous with BETRAYAL, his life an emblem of greed, ambition, and cold-hearted, self-serving treachery. Unwilling to adjust his expectations of how life should be, he chose bitterness in response to disappointment. Ultimately, when faced with his own wickedness, he chose to take his own life rather than to bow at the foot of the cross he so despised.
JUDAS.
"As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night." John 13:30 NIV
It was as dark as night within the heart of Judas too. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HIS name is Love. HIS name is Way, and Truth, and Life. HIS name is I AM, Word, Lamb, Light! His life is the the exact representation of God. Despite all that, rather than to cling to the privilege of Deity that was rightfully His, in humility, He gave up all His expectations and chose love in the face of betrayal. Humankind had betrayed Him, first in the Garden, then all down through history, to the very moment when Judas betrayed with a deadly kiss and beyond to our every day. Ultimately, when faced with the choice to save Himself or die for betrayers, He chose the via crucis, the way of the cross.
Jesus.
"In him was life, and that life was the light of men." John 1:4 NIV There is no darkness in Jesus . . . at all.
Wonder of wonders, when Jesus had all the knowledge of the ugly raging thoughts of evil swirling in the heart of His follower-turned-traitor, Judas, Jesus just loved him. Time after time Jesus gave Judas opportunities to respond in faith and love. That is about as extreme as love gets! Jesus walked a line that we find so very hard to follow. With only the smallest of slights, real or imagined, we feel so entitled to our indignation and our right to react, to stand up for ourselves, to make sure no one gets over on us!
That. is not. like Jesus.
If we want to be like Him, (and I do, don't you?!), then we have to be as gracious in the face of these moments as Jesus was. If He could love dark-hearted Judas, how much more should we be patient and kind and loving and forgiving of the people in our lives, most of whom don't even mean us any harm? A lot more!! When we love like Jesus wants us to, waves of His grace wash away every trace of the offense and leave relationships whole and healthy and alive.
Thank you to Hero Husband for reminding me of this truth this week. I love you!!
How can you give grace to people when they slight you in some way? How does Jesus example inspire you?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Three Strikes and I Win?

--
I had struck out for the third time. In some games, that means you're out, but this time it meant I won! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A couple of weeks ago, I had hit a low spot, wondering if God was hearing me at all. My friend and Bible study leader had called me that Sunday afternoon and hearing the need in my heart, she prayed with me. It was such a comfort and uplift to hear someone else passionately, enthusiastically asking God to help us--I was tired of only hearing my own voice all the time! I went into the week, eager to see how God was going to work. Three times I had put in my application and been interviewed for posted positions in my office. On that Thursday, I got the word that for the third time I had not been selected. This time my friend (who is already in a position like the one I had applied for) came to talk to me as soon as she heard I had not received the sought-after promotion. "I'm so sorry!" she said, "I just heard." Her eyes searched mine, concerned for how I must be feeling in the face of the disappointment. "Thank you," I said with a smile, "but it's really okay. God knows what He's doing, and He'll work everything out." It wasn't just something I thought I was supposed to say, I really meant it and my smile came from genuine joy. Somehow, at that moment, I was filled with confidence that if God had thought it best for me to get this job (or the two before it), I would have, and since I didn't, God must have a better idea.
"As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'" Rom 10:11 NIV
I kept praying, kept working hard, kept caring for the people in my office. On Thursday, out of the blue, I got a call from our regional office in Seattle, offering me the same kind of position I had applied for and asking if I was still interested. Interested??? Absolutely I was interested!! HERE WAS GOD'S ANSWER!! I was so surprised though--how had this happened? When I met with the office manager, she explained that they had rather boldly asked for permission to do something that required an alteration to the normal sequence of the hiring process, and to their pleased surprise (and mine!), they were cleared to go ahead and offer me the position! On top of that, it was in the department I'm already working in, where I wanted to stay!! I was so excited! The promotion and the extra money that comes with it are a direct answer to prayer! Not only that, but I was excited that now I got to tell my friend in the office, "See?!! I KNEW God knew what He was doing!!" It was SUCH a great moment to know that my bold confidence in God, in front of the people in my workplace, was not going to come to naught! He did NOT let me be put to shame! I was even more excited about that than I was about the money--at this point, that's really sayin' somethin'!! :) I share this story so it might bring courage to anyone feeling like their reasons to hope are fading. I share it to give God the glory for the way He is smoothing the way and providing for our needs. I share it to express gratitude to all the people who have been praying, and who continue to pray for me and my family, and to the God who listens to those prayers and who comes through in His own stylish way to answer them!
Can you share a time when God turned an apparent defeat to victory? Who do you know who needs to hear your voice praying passionately to God on their behalf?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"But If It Dies . . . "

-- A surprise text message broke up the monotone of the workday. Drummer Boy was 4 stories below asking me to meet him there for lunch in an hour. Delighted, I shared the fun surprise with coworkers who "ooohed and aaaahed" over the marvel of an 18 year old son choosing to come hang out with his mother! I beamed. We filled up the 30 minutes of my lunch break with talk of many things. We laughed and shared and caught up on things we haven't had as much time to talk about since I've been working--after all, for all his 18 years, I have been a stay-at-home-mom, ALWAYS there, ALWAYS available. It's not easy to adjust when things have changed from how they've been your whole life! As we got ready to go our separate ways for the afternoon, he spoke very grown up words of gratitude for the sacrifice I'm making to help the family--his description, not mine. He knows that this is a job for the purpose of a paycheck, and that there is no passion inspired by the work itself to make it come from the inside out. He, with his creative spirit, knows how against my grain it goes to do something just for the money and sees that this is work I MUST do "as unto the Lord." He blessed my heart with his recognition that my going to do this job every day is a sacrifice of love. I've been learning about following Jesus' example as a kernel of wheat and His willingness to die in order to produce many seeds.
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24 NIV
This job, a gift from God, (no matter how many secret tears I cried in the car with Him on the way to work the first week), is an opportunity to be a kernel of wheat, to die to myself in order to live love for my family. What I am doing is helping to meet a need, and if I am to be like Jesus, I must choose to love sacrificially. I can never do as much as He did, but I can certainly follow Him in the path of laying my life down in sacrificial love for others. Jesus set the example for me . . . I am living in the middle of a chance to set the example for my son and daughter . . . I wonder who will be inspired by the examples they will set as God gives them opportunities? On my way up the elevator, back to the monotone (and the dear people I work with--they are the part of the job I truly enjoy!), I had a lightness of heart that stayed with me the rest of the day. My love for my family and my love for my Jesus is finding its mark. In dying, I most truly live as Christ lives through me! "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galations 2:20 NIV
How are you learning to live by dying? As a kernel of wheat, are you willing to go down into death in order to spring up with seed-producing resurrection life?
P.S. Just in case you're wondering:
  1. The picture of Drummer Boy and I was taken by my fabulous photographer friend, Sara Goetz! Thank you Sara!!
  2. The cross in the 2nd picture was designed and hand-crafted by my brother, Chad Allen. So proud of you little brother!! You can contact him through his website for purchase information.

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