Thursday, October 31, 2013

Broken Hallelujah

He gives beauty for ashes...
for ashes.
Sometimes the ashes come first. Sometimes the mourning strips us bare...then the beauty comes, making something precious out of the pain. 
Sometimes our posture is changed, 
changed by circumstances,
bringing us to our knees, heads bowed - hung -
souls positioned for prayer. 

A few days ago as I was dropping my daughter off at school,
circumstances had changed her posture. 
She wasn't feeling well, was tired, and then on top of that, remembered that she'd forgotten to get to school early to lead a club she helps head up. 
As we pulled closer to the school, she dropped her head and began to sob - asking, no begging, me to let her go home.
I had to make a quick decision. I decided to take her home. On the way home, we talked about how life doesn't always allow us to run away from the day, even when we feel badly or things are going crummy. I warned her that next time, I would probably remind her of that and lead her to take on the day with God's grace. Sometimes we need to be totally dependent on his strength. 

Sometimes we need a different kind of grace. 

A rest. 

So, I took her home and put her to bed.
Her eleven - almost twelve - year old, worn soul.
Not cancer worn.
Not grief worn, and probably not worn enough for the world, or her school, to acknowledge her need for reprieve.
Just pre-teen, hormonal, under the weather worn. Legit in its own right. 
So, I took her home and joined her in her bed, breathing in her youth, her fleeting innocence. 
I drank her up and didn't care that she had other places she should have been, because she's mine and I had her to myself. 

I read to her from One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. And though the elegant, poetic wording is not fully appreciated by her young mind, she understood. 

She understood the need to give thanks in all things. 

She listened to words of war torn souls grasping at an invisible God, needing a tangible touch. 
And it brought her perspective. It healed her heart -
and her mother’s heart.
My depression worn,
grief worn,
thirty-two year old, hormonal, under the weather heart. 
A heart that has seen death and suffering and grasped at an invisible God, needing his tangible touch. 
It healed me, whole, and I was grateful for the quick decision of mercy that I’d made minutes earlier. 
For now I was being shown mercy.
For that I was thankful as well. 

I thanked God for my child who was alive and well, lying next to me.
I thanked him for my two other children, and my family. 
I thanked him for my brother, who against my plan is gone now.
I thanked him that His plan was better,
and that all things from him are good - and that all things are from Him.
That He is in control,
and I can trust him - even in the pain. 
Even in this life where sorrow is inevitable. 
Those of us who have submitted our lives to God are commanded to give thanks in all things.
Obedience to that command brings about such sweet reward.
It is cathartic, soothing and reviving. 
My daughter voiced that she would like to journal her thanksgiving,
and I think it’s good, 
To list our blessings , whether by pen or mouth or song,
and send them up as a praise offering to the giver of all things good - to the giver of all things!  

Thanks for stopping by! With Love -Shara

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

With You In Mind... In Honor of Shane Foley and Amberle Woodard

This evening I joined my daughter and many other people in our community as we crossed the street from LJI - police escorted - to gather at the memorial of a young girl who tragically lost her life at that very place, on this day last year.  I put my arm around my daughter, consoling her as she grieved her friend, and then watched her proudly as she went to pay her respects to the family.

It was a precious sight to see...

such a large group of people, taking time out in their day to remember a sweet life taken, in our eyes, too soon.

As the memorial time concluded and we walked back to our car, I held her hand and watched all the young children walking and talking, each impacted in some way by Amberle's life...and her death. I felt my daughters sweet, 11 yr. old hand and felt sad that she learned so young the sting that death brings.

The void that it leaves...

Moments earlier when she'd approached me, at the last minute, about going to the memorial gathering, I was conflicted about whether to go. I had supper to think about, and it was getting late. I closed my eyes to gather my thoughts as she begged me, saying how important it was to her because Amberle was her friend, and I knew then that we must go.

Because I, too, know the pain that death inflicts...

I also mourn today.

On this day twenty-two years ago we lost my brother to cancer. I know how it feels to watch other people's worlds carry on, while your world is forever changed, halted - at best moving in slow you push through the painful fog that is determined to suffocate you. You watch other people move and breathe and talk so easily, and wonder how they're doing it...with such ease. People, unknowingly, tell you time will heal all wounds. And though it does not,

time does cause the fog to disperse and the breaths to come more easily.

I have looked at pictures and read many kind words today - honoring the life of my brother. And though people cannot take your grief and shoulder it for you, there's healing in those kind words that remember the one you long to see. There's healing in knowing they are not forgotten. That is why I knew we must go tonight and cross that street -

 life should be remembered.

Because in my pain, in my need for Shane to be remembered, I could offer the same to them - remembrance. As we stood near the family, my eyes locked on Amberle's siblings - of course - because
I have been there. And though I can't tell them that the pain will eventually go away, I can tell them that

the pain is a testimony to the love...

and that's ok. It's ok to feel that pain. Because it reminds us to respect this time we are given on earth - to live it well.

We live it well with them in mind.

Amberle - Tonight, we crossed the street with you in mind. We loved your family with you in mind. We live out the rest of this day with you in mind.

Shane - Today I spent time with Lanna, with you in mind. I looked at your picture and I read stories...with you in mind. I held your niece's hand and took her to honor her friend's life, with you in mind.

I live...with you in mind.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Thankful Project

The Bible tells us to be grateful in ALL things - this includes our more difficult times of life. I truly believe there is healing and hope in offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God in our pain. Have you experienced something recently or even in the past that was difficult? Were you able to find a way to be thankful in those circumstances? Maybe you are in a challenging season right now and learning to have a thankful heart in the midst of your hurt or frustration. If so, your story would be a great addition to The Thankful Project!

If you would like to participate in The Thankful Project, please follow these guidelines:

Write a unique, non published, post describing your past or present circumstance and how you learned or are learning to give thanks through it. If you are a blogger and would like to put a teaser for your post (along with a referring link) on your blog, that would be great!

Word count suggestion: 500-100 - It is your story, though, so word count is flexible. 

One picture is welcome and will be posted with your story.

Please include only one link. You may attach a bio and link to your personal blog which will be posted to your story.

By submitting a story, you are giving me permission to post it to my Blog site as well as use it for linking to my site. 

Submit posts to:

Thank you so much for sharing your story! Stories will begin posting to The Thankful Project page on the 1st of November - posts submitted after that date will still be used. 

Be sure to subscribe to my blog to stay updated on The Thankful Project!
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

So Many Words.

I have often wondered what macabre scene must take place inside of a cocoon. Sheltered privately inside the chrysalis, the butterfly undergoes such a transformation. Though the process is undoubtedly a bit messy, what emerges is beautiful! Much like the butterfly, we spend our lives being transformed. However, much unlike the butterfly,  we are not hidden away during this process.

Life is messy, and rightly so. When you take something and turn it into a completely different 
something, it is bound to be a strenuous journey.

Blood, sweat, and tears

Joy, sorrow and pain

laughter, victories and defeat

all play their part in the molding.

When I look over my life and think of all the descriptive words that tell my story, I feel the emotion tied to each.











So many more words could be named, and I start to wonder if the butterfly feels the change as it takes place. Does it kick and scream or cry out in agony?

Or does it succomb because it knows it is necessary?

It's necessary in order to be what it was destined to be. It was destined to fly. It was not destined to be trapped on the ground , but to soar above - to see things the eye cannot see on the ground.

And to do this, it must grow wings.

And growth is painful.

So many many adjectives and verbs fill the pages of my life's story.

As I write this, my Uncle is lying in a hospital bed that he will not get out of again. His eyes closed to this world, lungs breathing weary breaths - a soul about to ascend.


hospital bed

grieving family

memories told

so many many letters and vowels filling the last moments of his life's story. Each one necessary. Eighty-six years of metamorphosis coming to an end. Soon he will emerge - perfect.

And I wonder, does the butterfly anticipate the accent? Does it long for the breaking through?

So many words...what are yours?

"The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness." — Pope Benedict XVI

Thanks for stopping by! With Love - Shara

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice!

I am slightly embarrassed to say that after taking an overview of my blog and noticing that everything I write about is slightly controversial and/or tough to swallow, I actually considered purposely writing a post on something much more subdued - an easy to read, feel good piece. From the name of my post today -"Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice" - it would appear that I was successful in this endeavor, but don't be fooled, for when I pondered on a delightful subject matter, all I heard was the sound of crickets. The truth is,  as the subtitle of my Blog "My Heart in Text" tells you, what makes it into my blog is what is resounding in my heart at that moment, and my heart is generally not a 24/7 party, y'all.  It is full of hard questions, concerns, passions, etc. and the things that bubble up the most are what make it into writing. Today's post can be blamed on David Platt, as his book Follow Me: A Call to Die.  A Call to Live. is stabbing at my heart, furrowing my brow and just all around causing me conviction. goes!

Sugar and spice and everything nice - those words do NOT encompass Christianity. Have we watered down the gospel? Is the church responsible for creating designer christians that wear the faith when it is popular, but toss it just as soon as someone snubs their taste? Has the gospel been turned into a feel good movement that has people thinking their commitment (I use this word loosely) will never be tested? Even more scary, when Christ divides the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:32), will we the Church, be standing there feeling responsible for their false security? Will some of them point their fingers at me while screaming, "She told me this is all I had to do to go to heaven?" I cringe. Literally - I just shivered inside. How do we share a faith that offers more hope than humanly possible, yet requires a life sacrificed? 

Picture this scenario: lady is sitting on her couch, wringing her hands, needing hope in the worst way. Just then, a salesperson knocks on her door. When she opens it, the salesperson asks her if she is in the market for hope. She can barely contain herself, "Why yes I am!", she says with delight! The salesperson tells her that this is her lucky day, as he has the solution to her problem. He pulls out a large metal contraption then lights it on fire. All she has to do is lay down on the fire and then she'll have more hope than she could ever ask for! The lady gasps, "But I'll surely die!" "Well, yes...", says the salesman, "but you will also surely have hope!" 

Door is slam shut. 

I do not blame this lady, I would slam the door, too. However, this is the Christian faith. Christ says, "Take up your cross and follow me."( Luke 9:23 ) We must be "crucified with Christ"( Galations 2:20 ) so that we may live. So, how do we encourage those seeking ultimate hope to trust Christ with their lives? What could the salesperson have done differently? For starters, he could have laid down on the fire himself. Awkward? Yes. Uncomfortable? Definitely. Would it have shown the lady that hope is possible? For sure!

We are called to make disciples. However, if we want others to follow Christ, we must follow him first - truly follow him.  We must follow his example and follow his lead. If we want others to trust Christ, we must trust him first. If we expect to make disciples, then we must first be true disciples ourselves. We need to pick up our crosses. We need to live out our lives for others to see - yes, even the struggles. If the Church is producing watered down Christianity - the result is watered down Christians. It is our responsibility to be a tree that produces good fruit!

To get Follow Me by David Platt, follow the link below - Enjoy!

Managing Your Blessings

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Knowing God's Wrath is Important

I thought about what to title this post and after a little bit of debate in my mind, I just typed out the blunt truth of what I am writing about. I know that in the blogging/writing world many choose to title their work with catchy, even sometimes seemingly scandalous wording, in order to attract readers. It's publicity - I get that - and I have done it. However, though this title may sound like just that - it isn't. I truly believe that without having felt God's wrath over our sin - we can never fully understand his love. We can never fully understand who He is.

It Breeds Salvation

After all, what is salvation? Isn't it understanding that you should die because of your sin and responding to that? Isn't it knowing that in and of ourselves we deserve God's punishment but don't have to experience it in full - eternity in Hell? Is a supposed wrath enough to make one understand the gift of sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf? Is it necessary to really feel this offense down in our soul; to experience the dread and shame it produces in order to then be relieved by the saving grace? I believe it is.  Because the truth is, He hates sin. 

It Gives perspective 

But, Shara, there is no condemnation is Christ - remember? Here is my response to that: how would we ever realize the amazing gift that is no condemnation if we'd never felt the weight of it? How would we appreciate love if we never knew hate? Would we truly give thanks for our health if we'd never been sick? When I lived at home and would get sick, my dad would say to me, "Sure makes you appreciate the days you feel good, doesn't it?" He was right - it did, and it is the same with sin. When you feel the sting that sin brings, you welcome and praise the salve of redemption. So, yes, I believe that there is "NOW no condemnation for those in Christ."- Romans 8:1 Remember who Paul was speaking to, though. He was speaking to men and women to had already experienced the law. He was saying to them - (my paraphrase) you've known God's law, now you will discover his love. The Romans had felt the sting of their sin. They'd known his wrath and understood the importance of this precursor!

It allows Confidence

Not only does having felt this power give us perspective of our otherwise fate, it gives us the knowledge of our fierce savior. We see firsthand how magnificent He is. We do not fear the enemy, for "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." - 1 John 4:4 We know what an amazing defender he is, because we've seen His wrath - and have been saved from it.

It Cultivates Intimacy

Philippians 3: 10 describes intimacy with Christ this way: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." This verse makes my head spin and my heart leap into my throat. I want to read this and think to myself, you're a better man than I, Paul, then carry on with my life. But I can't, because then I read verse 11: "That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]." (Amplified Bible) And then I understand, that in order to have the latter, I must do the first. 

What does knowing Christ in his suffering have to do with God's wrath? We cannot truly appreciate the sacrifice that he made on our behalf if we do not know God's wrath, for Christ experienced it in full as he died upon the cross. 

Experiencing God's anger can be a bit scary, but that is ok, for "The fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The commitment of being a Christian is not all rainbows and butterflies. It is dirty sometimes, but it amazing. I want to end this post with a poem that I wrote a few years ago. I hope you enjoy. 

Your wrath is like a book, though I have only read a page.
Your fury a fire, and I have only felt one flame.
Your anger, rushing waters, I've been tossed but by one wave. 
Tis not because I've caught myself, before being consumed, 
but because of your love that watches over, 
your love that ever looms.
For your love- 
the same as your wrath.
It pushes me away,
it snatches me back. 
It's a love affair, 
a seeming game, 
because one lover, 
wanders where she may. 

Oh! If she would just make up her mind!
Then the tide would pull back, the flame would die. 

But battle draws.

She roams.

Wrath thunders.
Love groans.

And it is He!
It is He that keeps bringing her back.
The tide that sweeps her in, 
the beach her lovers lap. 

A love she'd never known 
had she never known the wrath!