Monday, May 18, 2015

Forget God's Will for Your Life

Great... Another big decision. What should I do? How do I know what God's Will is for my life? Should I move? Take this new job? Parent this way or that way?

Like me, I'm sure you have asked these questions. I used to get so stressed about making the wrong choice and being outside of God's Will. However, during my current study, the Holy Spirit is teaching me that this way of thinking simply isn't true.

I think a lot of us need to forget about God's Will for our life. God cares more about our responses to His Spirit's leading today, in the moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today's decisions.  It's easy to use the phrase "God's will for my life" as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next 10 minutes.  (Francis Chan, Forgotten God)

This study has revealed so much clarity on how the Holy Spirit guides me in everyday decisions that I felt compelled to share it with you. The big decisions in life don't scare me anymore because it's not about the big decisions at all! It's about being faithful in the little daily decisions that are preparing me for the future.

The Holy Spirit preaches to me everyday as I seek his counsel through scripture. As a guide, here are 4 ways I use to make sure I'm continually walking in God's will.  They are found in 1 Thessalonians, chapters 4 and 5.
  1. Am I sanctified? Being sanctified means to be set apart. So in a sense, do I look different than the world? Am I more patient? Self-controlled? More loving? 
  2. Am I smiling?  Can people tell that the joy of the Lord is my strength even when circumstances are tough. 
  3. Am I praying? Praying expectantly and waiting for Him to answer brings joy to the heart of the Father. He loves us and wants to give us good gifts. Talking with him daily will bring peace to any situation and give you confidence to believe His promises.  
  4. Am I thankful? Do I give thanks in all circumstances? When times are tough, do I thank Him for building perseverance and adding wisdom in my life? Gratitude is the defining characteristic of being a Christ-follower. It all started with the cross and that thankfulness should carry throughout every aspect of our lives! 

As you continue your walk with the Lord, forget about asking the question "is this God's will for my life" and embrace His will for your day. Then you will know that whatever you do will succeed and bring Him glory. 

Until the whole world hears, 

Thursday, April 16, 2015


There is no worse feeling, than that of being "stuck."  It feels like your world comes to a complete halt, and out of the mundane you start to feel yourself spinning in a directionless circle. It's like you're running as fast as you can, but not getting anywhere because of this huge gust of wind that pushes against your efforts. It's exhausting!  You find yourself living joyless, maybe burnt-out, and also a little hopeless. 
 I know...I've been there...
So,  what's the secret of becoming "un-stuck?" While there is no secret formula,  I think it first comes with realizing that we were not created to live mediocre, boring or dare I say, "safe" lives.   If we are created in the image and likeness of God, how can our lives be boring?!  God tells us in His Word; "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9  Not everyday, with every breath, will be exciting or adventurous. There will be mundane days; this simply means we won't allow the dry seasons to dictate our attitudes and/or our thoughts.   Second, I've learned that I needed to tell somebody what was going on in my heart.  After I confess to God what's going on, I told my husband; because I know my husband truly knows how to pray for me better than anyone else! James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I highly recommend, that you get a champion for Christ in your corner, don't just tell anyone! Tell someone who knows the Word and will speak it over you!

Third, and probably the most important point I'll make;  You find your JOY and PURPOSE in serving alongside others!  There was a long period of time where I went through my "Stuck" season.  I felt that I was barely getting through the day. I was so caught up in my own chaos, that I tasted the bitter tears of lost opportunities; A teachable moment with my children, a coffee date with a girlfriend who was struggling, a listening ear for my husband, or someone who just needed a helping hand. I had to realize if there was a need that I could meet, I should obey and do so joyfully.  Galatians 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

If I'm being honest, this wasn't always easy to do. Sure, there were days where I was just too tired or would rationalize why I couldn't.  But when I did, I had some of the most joyous, rewarding and purpose-filled moments I knew I would've missed, had I not stepped out of my comfort zone. This has also lead me to some amazing new adventures! I challenge you today, to step out in faith and see what God can and will do in and  through you!

Where are you at on this journey? how can I pray for you?

Yours in the Journey,
Shannon :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Naked Truth

What can we learn from the Song of Solomon?

1.       Men are body focused and women are relationship focused. Women have a desire to be chased, cared for and loved. While, men are attracted to our look and want us. Our bodies don't have to be a perfect 10 in order for this to happen because God has created us to connect on all the levels of intimacy (spiritual and emotional), not just the physical.  It's interesting that God created men and women so differently in regards to sex. As with everything God does, it's purposeful. The purpose is for us to focus on how to meet the needs of the other person. For women to get our deepest relational needs met, we need to focus on our husband's need for sex. For men to get their deepest needs for sex met, they need to focus on our need for relationship!

2.     Sex starts in our heads. We get distracted easily. As queens of multi-tasking, the bedroom isn't the place for this. We actually need to try hard to stay focused. We see this demonstrated in the Song of Solomon when she keeps focused by talking about him, his body, his work, his reputation, and reflecting our their dating days because for her, it was now she kept her head in the game!

3.      Invite God into your bedroom. Pray and read scripture as part of the experience. (On a side note, I've tried this and it hasn't failed me yet!) Making love is a journey toward intimacy. It's learning together, laughing about the mistakes and awkwardness and enjoying the uniqueness that you've created together. Remember that God created marriage to express his love through a human relationship. Love, to be expressed through bringing total union of the physical, emotional, and spiritual. 

Until the whole world hears, 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Practicing Real Love

The beautiful décor!

This past Saturday, over 100 women gathered together at our church for the  annual GEM Conference.  This year's speaker was Bianca Olthoff and our special music guest was Moriah Peters.  This year's theme was entitled "Authentic."
"Authentic" was the vision from a group of courageous, and bold women who felt an overwhelming response from last year's conference, that there was a desperate need for authenticity. As a team, we each committed to memorizing (I challenge you to do the same!) 1 Chron. 29:17 which says: "I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface, you want us, our true selves, and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily." This verse became our hearts, it became the backbone for this year's conference theme, and then we became INSPIRED!
fun group selfie!
The truth is sisters, we all crave authenticity in our relationships.  There is something in our spiritual DNA that has a longing to be real with ourselves and others. We also want to know that we're not alone in our struggles! But know this, your story matters! Bianca shared with us, that when we are free, we have the obligation to free others. The way we free others, is to share our stories! The very cool thing about this, is scripture encourages us to do so! Here is one verse my dear friend, Kris, Shared with our team; that stuck out most to me:
1 John 3:18-20: "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality.  It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it."
(L. to R.) Kris, Bianca, and Tiffany
I LOVE THIS!!  How many of us have dealt with the evil, debilitating self-criticism? The antidote is found in practicing REAL love; or  AUTHENTIC love! Ladies, I encourage you to practice the authentic love, share your story and see before your eyes, how God uses that to free others....and yourself!
Yours in the journey,
Shannon :)

girlfriend selfie!
Moriah Peters rockin' out!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Authentic Faith Leads to GEM

The definition of faith is clear. It's confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. More than that though, it's our identity. Our is faith is who we are. Everyone puts their faith in something and it's that faith in something that defines you. Of all things, I could put my faith in, I'm glad it's in the One who is always faithful. 

I've been studying the book of Hebrews, which is one faith-filled book! As the Lord's Word always does, it got me thinking about the strength of my faith. Some have called chapter 11, the "hall of fame" of the Bible. Rightly so, I guess, but I would venture to call it the "hall of God's faithfulness". It's the story of what God did through normal people, like you and me. I often wonder if my name would be among those listed in this famous chapter. Not so that I would receive glory, rather that my life would be a life lived in surrendering obedience to God. As I read the names, I am captured by their legacy.  They are not remembered for their mistakes or misjudgments, but by their actions toward the one in whom their identity comes from. 

When we know who we are and where we come from, we behave differently. There is a new found purpose and passion. It's the hope that sets us apart. And because we are confident about who our Creator is; we can approach his throne boldly! When our faith in God becomes who are we, there is no longer a separation of identities. You can't be one way here and another way there. You're all in! That's what pleases God. Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) Additionally, faith without action is dead. (James 2:17)

Having authentic faith isn't about having it all together, quite the opposite in fact! It's about letting others see God's faithfulness in our imperfections. He chooses you time and time again to work out His Will. That's why our lives are a testimony to his greatness. We need each other because our faith is built stronger when we see other people's actions of faith. That's why chapter 11 exists, to strengthen our faith with the legacy of others. As our faith grows, our identity grows and our confidence grows. As our confidence grows, our actions become more pleasing to God! That's a cycle I want to be a part of! Come with me! 

Finally, let me encourage you to attend the GEM Conference at First Assembly on March 21st. GEM stands for God Enriching Moments and it will deliver one of those, for this I am sure. As you continue to walk in faith, discovering your true identity, I pray that you would savor the God Enriching Moments in your life. And as you do, your faith with grow!

Until the whole world hears, 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I drive a soccer mom van. I proudly own this fact about my life.  But I remember a time…a time before kids…a time when my life selfishly consisted of Saturday mornings sleeping in, backseats void of cheerios, and peaceful dinners out when the words “30 minute wait” didn’t strike fear in our hearts. My husband and I talked about the minivan. And we were quite certain we would never be minivan owners. However, three kids later, practicality once again overruled style. And guess what? I have come to love that minivan. We bought it used, knowing that it was a practical, economical choice that would get us through these years with little ones. “I will drive it until it dies,” I’ve said to my husband, proud of my frugal ways.

Until yesterday. You see, yesterday I had to drop the van off at the repair shop. Realizing they would have it a few days, I asked to borrow a replacement vehicle from my parents’ family owned car lot. No big deal, right? That is until my Dad drove up with my replacement vehicle for the week: a shiny, clean, newer, brighter, and more modern SUV. And now, well, my frugal minivan is not looking so great. 

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I have found this to be true in many areas of my life. Have you ever been to a friend’s bigger and more beautiful home, only to return back to yours feeling unsatisfied and discontent? Or maybe you’ve observed the romantic actions of a friend’s spouse, and then found yourself unhappy and irritated with yours? It’s amazing how easily the enemy can steal our joy and use jealousy to get the best of us.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Sometimes we just need a little perspective to help us choose contentment. And for me? Well, the SUV goes back tomorrow, when I pick up the minivan. And I’m OK with that.

Still Driving,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leadership Expectations

Leadership Expectations 
Guest Blogger, Amy Lyrenmann

Have you ever noticed how much of your life is shaped by expectation? In certain instances it is your own expectation that determines your action or response. For instance you selected and then trained for your identified career based upon life style and contribution expectations.  So much of the time, however, it truly is the many expectations others have of you that influence your choices. How did you choose your current home, car, wardrobe…  Let’s face it ladies, as much as we believe ourselves to be independent; so much of what we choose is motivated by outside influences.

Our expectations and the expectations of others are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many of our professed personal expectations have been formed out of the expectations of those around us: family, mentors, friends and colleagues. Expectations are unavoidable in a life of productivity and responsibility. My question is this, “What does God expect?” After all, He is your creator, so shouldn’t His expectation outweigh those of yourself or any other person?

Remember the simple catch phrase of the early 2000’s, “What would Jesus do?” I am sure I still have a bracelet with the letters “WWJD”.  This is the question every Christian Leader must ask at every intersection, turn, or detour. I would argue, however, that the most critical time for leaders to ask the question is when the road is clear and straight. You know, those times when you are thinking, “I’ve got this. I know how to navigate this terrain.”

The best leader of all time gave us a road map for leadership:
  • Expect failure
  • Provide a clear vision for a desired future
  • Clarify the path to success
  •  Install a support system  

God knew we would sin and need a Savior. God provided us that Savior in His Son, Jesus. Jesus is most importantly our Redeemer, our connect point back to God, our Creator. Jesus, as our Savior is also the best example of leadership known to man. He is compassionate, committed and constant.  Jesus knew his life’s purpose and fulfilled that purpose to the extreme of a sacrificial death.

God not only saved us, He also provided the Holy Spirit to empower us and teach us how to navigate the changing terrain. He prompts our obedience and trust when the path is straight and well lit. The Holy Spirit is living inside of us and is able to encourage us when our expectations are out of whack or others expectations are just too much for one person.  

The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit and also interprets God’s Word for us. The Word reveals the personal interactions with and the influences of our God in the history of mankind. We can know the leadership of Jesus and are able to know the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our spiritual forefathers because of The Word and the indwelling of our interceding Holy Spirit.

Finally, God created for us a family called The Church. The Church is a world-wide community that becomes family the moment we are adopted by Christ Himself as daughters. This family invites us to grow alongside and serve the various needs within the Church, while simultaneously emboldens us to meet needs of the dying world around us. In this family we live, and we expect. We expect to be challenged, we expect to be a vital part and most of all we expect our Savior to do what only He can do… heal, redeem and empower for His glory.

Expect God to lead you well. Expect the Holy Spirit to empower you. Expect the Holy Scripture to enlighten you, and expect the Church to enlist your gifts.

You have been called to live a life of purpose. Live Your Life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kiss Me

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

The GEM Conference at First Assembly of God, Joliet is quickly approaching. March 21st will be here before we know it and I would love for you to be there! Here is the link to register.

The theme of the conference is Authenticity. As part of the conference, I will be leading a class about God's authentic view on sex, after all, he created it. Today's post gives you a sneak peek on what to expect and is also dedicated to Valentine's day. 

My research on authentic sex led me to the only place it could, the Song of Solomon. This very book God himself inspired and created for us to learn about His design for sex. God invented it. Culture corrupted it. But it's ours to reclaim. We have got to tackle the lies that this culture accepts about sex, and replace it with God's Truth! God would be grieved to know that his children are not enjoying fulfilling sex lives in their marriages. 

Today we're going to talk about kissing! There is so much beauty in the verse above. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Just reading that makes my heart tingle! It's interesting that kissing is a lost art in a lot of marriages. And I am speaking from experience. As I looked at my own daily routine, I was shocked to find out that we only kiss twice! Good morning and goodnight. Little pecks at that! This cannot be and will not continue! So, we are initiating a challenge to kiss for at least 15 seconds every day. Some days are better than others, but we are trying. There are precursors of course, brushed teeth and fresh breath, but it has revolutionized how intimate we are during the day! On days when we "peck" kiss, it's difficult to be intimate in other ways (if you know what I mean). The connection just isn't there. We haven't been thinking about it and other things such work, kids, chores, etc... become more important than intimacy. However, on days that we take the opportunities to kiss deeply, we feel more connected to progress further once the house and kids are in order. 

I say all of this to say, that often we rush through the little things, like taking the time to kiss. In honor of Valentine's Day, as well as your marriage, I encourage you to establish your own 15 second kissing challenge and reap the benefits it will have on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Embrace your husband and delight in his love, because his love is more delightful than wine! 

Bringing sexy back, 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dreams to Passion

I have been in the habit lately of colliding with real and raw life. It seems there are demonstrations of courageous and authentic people all around me who are pursuing their dreams and making a difference in the world around them. This has me contemplating my life. Am I making a difference? How will people remember me? It is so easy to become seduced by my own little life bubble and be oblivious to life happening all around me. Romans 12:10 challenges me to pursue my dreams and make them my passions and I hope you will join me.

Romans 12:10-13 The Message (MSG)
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

First I have to discover what I’m passionate about. This is not as easy as it seems. I reflect on the things that I read, hear and see. What brings smarting tears to my eyes, or goose bumps, or even anger? These are the things that I’m passionate about. These are reactions of passion.

Now I can dig in and find out why I feel this way. Research it, read about it, write about it! Most importantly pray about it. Sometimes our passions stem from past experiences that have directly affected family, our close friends, or us. I think we’ve all heard countless stories of people that have overcome hurdles, disabilities and fears, and gone on to help and encourage others in similar situations.

Finally, get involved. Make this a priority in life! Involvement can happen in a variety of ways such as volunteering in the community, church or in your family. Investing time, energy and financial support can hugely impact our own lives and that of others. Going back to our scripture, I love how the Message admonishes us in Romans to “love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it” and to “be inventive in hospitality.” We are charged to help others, but are given license and encouraged to be true to ourselves. This is how we authentically turn dreams into passion! Live your passion!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mirror Mirror

There is one thing in my house that always tells me the truth. It's brutally honest to the core because it can't be anything different. It was specifically created for one purpose and one purpose only. My reflection stares back at me as I glaze into the mirror. There's no hiding, no denying... that's me. There's a great sense of authenticity in our nakedness. As in my case, it's usually the authenticity that I'm trying to avoid. I instantly start picking apart my "authentic" self. My eyes focus on the things I don't like rather than the things I do.  

So this is where  a necessary perspective change comes in handy. As we journey through the idea of what it means to be an authentic woman, we pause to take a look in the mirror. We look past the insecurities that try to sabotage our confidence, and we discover the authenticity in nakedness. 

In the Song of Solomon, we are invited on the honeymoon of Solomon and his new bride. Upon seeing each other for the first time, Solomon expresses a powerful statement that redefines beauty.  "You are altogether beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you." (Song of Solomon 4:7) 

As I've been studying the Song of Solomon, this verse continues to resonant in my mind. At first glance, it's hard to believe. No flaws. Really? But if you give it further study and let it sink in, you will find that Solomon isn't telling her that she has the perfect body, but rather that her imperfections make her beautiful! He's appreciating her uniqueness! Everybody has flaws, but what Solomon is saying to his wife is, "Baby, you are my wife and I love everything about you!" And that my friends, is the definition of authentic nakedness. 

Now when I look in the mirror, I remember the power of God's Word and I embrace my uniqueness. I see the "flaws," but my perspective is different. Often this takes several reminders because this world portrays a very different image of beauty, but with God's Word in my mind, I have the power to overcome the worldly thoughts. And you do too! Authenticity looks at those stretch marks and sees them as a sign of your sacrifice! Authenticity looks at the extra layers as a soft pillow for your children's heads. Authenticity looks at the drooping skin as wisdom that comes with age. Authenticity looks at the wrinkles as many smiles that brightened the days of others. 

Nakedness is not something to be shamed off, but something to be embraced. You are altogether beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you! 

Embracing the skin I'm in, 

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Ephesians 4:23 “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self…” (NIV)
Beginnings are thrilling, don’t you agree?  They are filled with anticipation, with hope and excitement.  With a new beginning we can put things behind us and move forward.  And let’s be honest, some things are better left behind.   
There are times that new beginnings can be more horrifying than thrilling I agree, and I have been in those places as well.  But with a new year upon us it brings the hope of new adventures to experience, new joys to delight us and even new trials to walk.  They await us in 2015.
As I look to the future and ponder the journeys yet to be taken and milestones that are yet to come my way, one thing burns in my heart.  I want to face them all, these terrific and even tragic and beautiful things, as a new me. 
I want new eyes that perceive what God is doing, to see how He is working everything out for His glory and my good (Rom 8, Ps 119:18, 1 Cor 2:9, Eph 1:18).  I want to experience every terrific moment with a new heart that is tender to His promptings (Ez 36:26).  I want new ears to know and hear His voice (Jn 10:3).  Wouldn’t it be cool to hear the sound of Angels’ wings?  I want new feet to walk out of my comfort zone (Isa 52:7-8). 
I want a new me!  I like me so I don’t want to get rid of me, I just want a new awareness, a fresh awakening.  2 Cor 5:17 tells us, “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” and Ecc 3:11, “He makes everything beautiful in its time.” 
I’ll be made new by being in His word.  When I am in His word I’m being transformed (Rom 12).  I want to consume it, I want to live it, breathe it, speak it, EAT IT!! 
1 Chr 29:17 says God cares nothing for the surface – He desires our true selves .  This is the pursuit of Authenticity and this is what I want to frame EVERY new thing that is yet to be.