whether you change or not

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“Jesus the risen Christ is with us this moment. Right here, right now loves you and accepts you just as you are.

You do not have to change to get his love. You do not have to give up your sin. You do not have to have a conversion experience. Obviously, Jesus wants you to change and yes he wants you to give up your sin and your selfishness… be converted and live, experience the freedom of the children of God but you don’t have to do that to get his love and acceptance. You have that already, before you decide to change and whether you decide to change or not.

Do you believe this?”

(part of a talk that I was watching given by Brennan Manning)

How absolutely scarily beautiful is that?!!

Love running into our days

River_Running_by_jjuuhhaa

“Over the mountains and the sea Your river runs with love for me, And I will open up my heart and let the Healer set me free.”

Words to an old Delirious song. I was singing it this morning. Haven’t thought of the song in ages, but the words were in my heart. Patrik had already left for work and Eli was still asleep so really that only left Jane the dog to look at me like I was a freak while I was singing away and getting ready for work.  Then I just started thinking about how the words are beautiful but how do they fit in to what I’m in – God and Shannon?

So I started singing (for real, I did): “Over the co-workers and attorney Your river runs with love for me”

That is SO where I need His love to run into during my days.

“Over the clients and the pain And even over my weight gain I will open up my heart and let my Healer set me free!”

Haha! I made it personal. My days, my silly and not so silly struggles. I needed it to be my prayer and my song about God’s love running into today. It lifted me out of the dread of the work day and there He was, as He always is. A guy I’m friends with on facebook recently posted:  “In the Psalms David didn’t write, ‘Where can I go to find Your Presence?’ He wrote ‘Where can I go to escape it?”  You don’t even know how many sermons or teachings I’ve heard in my life about how it is hard to come into God’s presence or how he hides from us… but that’s NOT what David said in the Psalms!!  Beautiful!!

Psalm 139 v. 7-12:

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are? If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, 10 even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me. 11 If I say, “For sure the darkness will cover me and the light around me will be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to You. And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to You.

Just so great. How beautiful and strong is God? He will never leave you or me, not even if we are making our bed in the place of the dead. He loves us.

Beautiful, beautiful love!!

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“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us……

…..So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!”

(Romans 8)

Memories for a friend

My friend died on Saturday. I found out on Sunday morning and I think I’ve been in shock since that phone call. Her name was Ronnell. She was beautiful and funny. She struggled with many things and she loved well. I’ve known her for over half my life.

Coping with her death today has been full of tears, conversations with friends (who have been and always will be more like family), and memories. Here are some of mine…

Sitting in my parents kitchen and Ronnell asking me to cut her hair. I didn’t know how to cut hair and told her so. She said I’d do fine, just go for it. I went for it, all right. And Ronnell’s mom had to take her to get her hair fixed at the salon. Ha!

All of us making that stupid Amy Grant video at Ronnell’s house!! Also the Eternity commercial and the rapture video… those special effects were amazing. I’m not sure what we were thinking, but that day, as always, there was so much laughter. Always laughter.

Whenever I think about her room I think about the Reading is Fun poster she had on the wall featuring R.E.M. and our endless conversations about Michael Stipe. Where did you even get that poster??

Other memories just keep on coming.

-Newts.
-The word “ergo”.
-Peaceful Valley.
-Prank calls late at night when everyone was camped out at Matt and Les’s house. We’d call some random person and immediately begin boisterously singing “Happy Birthday” to them, pretending we knew them. Not one person ever got mad at us for those calls. I think we made their day.

It will never be right that she isn’t here to share the rest of our days with us, however many days we may have. She will always be loved and honored and deeply missed. We’re not the same without her.

Tonight I hold her momma and her sister in my prayers.

Love you, Ronnell. Thank you for your friendship. I grieve for you with true hope. We will meet again.

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Creating

I LOVE CREATIVITY!!!!

I recently watched Flea’s induction speech into the rock and roll hall of fame. For some reason I’ve always liked him. When I heard the passion, love and heart that he has it moved me deeply. He said he prays every night to uplift the people he plays for, to love them and to give them the best that he has. That it’s his life’s mission. And music… It’s a burning desire in him. He said he is lost in it when they are playing, he is one with everything, and in that moment he is truly free.

Do you hear it? It’s pure unadulterated passion. Its something inside him that he must do. It brings out beauty and life and vibes and those great, great Chili Pepper tunes. It courses through him, and when I heard him giving the speech I felt it coursing through me.

I think that living out of passion and purpose enables others to begin to desire and live in theirs.

As many of you know, I love Vincent van Gogh. Passion and purpose coursed through him… And let loose on the world through his hands, his paints and his heart. He was a missionary before he was a painter, but he was always an artist. He once wrote, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” He was made to love people. His eyes translated what he saw into works that still move us all these years later. I think it was in a letter to his brother Theo that he said, “Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painters soul.”

In his words I hear it again. The echo of the eternal being expressed through someone’s purpose, through their passion.

I am searching to find out what my purpose is. What am I made to do?What ignites me inside more than anything else?

I believe I will find it. I believe we will find it. I don’t know how, but I am searching to engage with the passions that have been put into me from the moment of my creation.

I see my generation seeking and finding. Not buying in to how it is supposed to be or “how it has to be”. The “that’s life” kind of attitude. It is no wonder, in these times, that we deal with such depression. Depression, for me, always comes when I feel I am without direction, all alone in my struggling and suffering, without purpose and void of a way to give my love away and receive love in turn.

We’ve got to reset our sights on what God really made us for. He made us to live! Not just to exist!

Dang! It feels good to get that all out!

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three deaths

My Uncle Bob died this week. So did a cousin of mine, and this morning my cousin Beverly’s husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

Three deaths. One family. One week.

Uncle Bob’s name was Robert Hair. He was a full blooded Cherokee Indian. When he was little his great-grandma told him stories about the trail of tears. She could tell him the stories because she remembered it. For the first years of his life (until he was 6, 7, 8??) he lived on a reservation and only knew how to speak Cherokee. When he married my dad’s sister Joyce, I was young. He was a policeman where we lived in California, in a small county, in a very small town, in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The first party I went to in high school went something like this. Me, thinking I’m a badass at 16 years old holding a wine cooler (Ha! A wine cooler! What a nerd), talking to a cute guy in the kitchen of… well, to be honest I don’t even remember whose house it was. All of a sudden someone starts pounding in the door. Everyone in the party house froze. “Open up kids. This is the police!” Yep. You guessed it. I immediately recognized my Uncle Bob’s voice. Classic. We laughed hard about it years later.

He wasn’t perfect. He could be quite mean. He and my aunt had some tough battles and some wicked fights.

Fifteen or twenty years ago he had a heart attack. He died for a matter of minutes before they revived him. When he came back to life, he told everyone who would listen that he’d seen Jesus when he died. Jesus had told him that he was the way. From that day on Bob couldn’t shut up about Jesus. Some people in my family got really annoyed with him. It was awesome and never deterred him. The joy of Jesus was like fire in him.

I didn’t know my distant cousin very well. He was actually my Grandaddy’s first cousin. I saw him at family reunions. What I do know is that he had a family who loved him and that at 70 years old he finally got the grand kids he’d been looking forward to for years.

Bev’s husband woke up at 1:00 in the morning last night with pain in his chest. He didn’t want to wake Bev, so he sat up all night until 8:00 this morning when she found him outside on the porch swing. She rushed him to the hospital. He passed away about two hours later. They loved each other a lot and tonight her grief must be at its peak, and that fact hurts my heart so deeply for her.

So death has visited us too many times these past few days. Yet, life still flows on for us. I know that the coming week will hold my huge and wonderful family coming together and being there for each other like we always are. There will be lots of tears and a lot of hugs and laughter.

My cousin Pam and I talked on the phone tonight. We cried and laughed with each other. She has yet another cousin on her father’s side of the family that I am not related to, who is in hospice. His name is Ted and hospice told the family today that it will most likely be tonight or tomorrow for him.

She told me a story about her 97 year old grandma who once said to her, “We’ve got it all backwards. We should mourn for someone when they’re born and rejoice for them when they die.”

Maybe she’s right. We mourn when we lose people because we miss them. But we also celebrate because they are free.

I just wanted to remember them here tonight to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, because I loved them, I love those who they’ve left behind, and because they mattered.

They are now seeing fully what we only know in part. what we blog about and talk about and experience pieces and moments of… They know. It’s fantastic and it gives my heart a lot of peace.

blessed are the honest, for they shall see God.

Over the past several months I have often attended a Wednesday lunchtime bible study with a few ladies from work at a restaurant called Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Now, on a normal evening you could easily spend a coupla hundred bucks on dinner if you ordered the good stuff and had a few drinks. They provide a free lunch for the Bible study… so… I go. Yep. I have mainly gone for the food. The pastor guy who teaches while we munch is a good guy and full of excitement about what he has to say.  A few times I’ve walked out of there feeling like God taught and confirmed some things to me that He had already been speaking into my heart.  A lot of times I get all Shannon on the guy and just tune out when I hear him saying things that he thinks are “cutting edge” (but are really just regurgitated law dressed to look like freedom) or when I hear things that don’t sound any different than what I grew up learning in what I call the machine that is usually what we are familiar with and call church. However, I think it’s a minor miracle that God has helped me not grow all bitter like I used to when I hear that stuff.  For the first time in ages I’ve been able to stay pretty healthy and love the person and not get hung up on the religion/doctrine/mantra/crap.

So a few weeks ago I was feeling particularly burned out, exhausted and overwhelmed during one of these lunchtime bible studies. Mainly, I was checking out my facebook news feed on my iPod.  I was fading in and out, listening to him teach about Matthew 13, the parable about the sower:

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

When the dude got to verse 22 and read it I felt shocked with the realization that I am that person.  I really am.  It was a moment when God speaks to you and you hear it.  You hear it, you chew it up, you swallow it, you digest it and you get nourishment from it.  I didn’t just feel surprised, I felt relieved.

Then the pastor guy read verse 23 and followed it up with, “I hope everyone in this whole room is the person in verse 23!” 

The grace of God came into my heart right then. I knew it was grace because I wasn’t bitter against him and didn’t get angry.  I did want to say, “Why do we want to be that person? Why put that on everyone in this room?” but I wasn’t raging at him while wanting to say that.

I have to explain something… Grace.  I felt so loved the moment that I began knowing that now in my life I am the one whose thorns of worry and wanting and fear have choked out the word of the kingdom of God. It was such a freeing revelation to me. Why do I want to be anyone else? Grace has met me HERE.  If we could just teach and live in this Grace, no one would walk away dejected and down on themselves, they might actually believe that God is love and total mercy. I cannot be better and I do not know how Jesus will make me someone who has soil in my heart that is good and understands the word of the kingdom, someone who bears fruit again. I cannot make myself bear fruit again. Damn the trying!!!!!!!  I am free, do you see?

This is why I titled this post “blessed are the honest, for they shall see God.”  Honest acceptance of of God’s revelation is holy, no matter what tangled up place in life you and I are in.  The revelation wasn’t a lesson for me to learn. The revelation was Jesus himself standing there with me and showing me who HE is in this place with me. Isn’t that the point? Jesus Himself. Enough.

I love Him and I am so thankful to Him.  The tiredness is still in my body, my emotions, my soul, but I lift myself up to Him and thankfully smile and soak in His tenderness, healing and love.

We teach one thing and live another. I have been guilty of this too.  The truth is, I don’t have to do anything to be loved through and through. I don’t have to do anything to be transformed. I open up my arms to Him. I honesty accept His words and life. He does it all. It’s beautiful. I feel amazed and drunk by His love for me.

Tonight, reading Psalm 139 is like drinking a rich, fiery, rare wine that is love. And I’ll end it here with that.

You’re Everywhere

 

 Like the line in the movie* says, “God is in the rain”.  And He’s in the crisp, clean air outside, in my baby’s face when I said goodbye to him this morning while he was sleeping, in my heart as it’s beating while I sit in my cubicle writing bankruptcy motions, in Patrik’s smile to me last night, and he’s in the invisible place right beside me.

Show me more of you.  Help me not be so sarcastic and mean.  I want to let you live so fully inside me that you spill over to the people I love and the people I can hardly tolerate.  I love you!!!  And my life is full!!!  And I long to trust you with my money and my heart and my family and my day.  AMEN.

(*the film is V for Vendetta)