Why???

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why meWhy???? It seems to be the word that I have uttered more than anything this year. Why? Why me? Why now? Why here? Why am I still here? Why has this not ended? Why, why, why?!?!?

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has felt this way. But his year has been one of the most difficult times in my life in a long time. From serious family illnesses to financial distress to fear of losing income to the infertility journey continuing to my own personal sickness to feeling alone, thinking no one could possibly understand what I’m going through, it seems to never end. Every time I turn around, it seems there is yet another thing to add to the plate of my trials, tragedies and sadness.

I have been crying all the time, unable to shut the tears off. I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. I haven’t wanted to pray or here about Him. I haven’t wanted to hear the typical “God has a plan” or “it will happen in His timing” christianese words that so many recite. I have never felt so stuck and alone in my pain as I do now.

I’m told the only way to get through this is to do the one thing I don’t want to do. Talk to Him, pray, tell Him how I really feel. Tell Him? How do I tell Him, when I’m not even sure I can collect my own thoughts or even find the words? How do I tell the creator of the universe that this sucks?!? It’s hard to break through the barrier of feeling like I can’t truly be honest with Him because of who He is. But break through I must, somehow….

If you don’t know this about me, I am not a big reader. I occasionally will read a few chapters in a book and then put the book down, never to return to it. However, tonight I felt led by the Lord to pick up the book, The Shack, by William P Young and read where I left off at chapter 6. This is the only book that I have ever cried while reading. The author so perfectly expresses the feelings, love, sadness and more that I get drawn in to what’s being conveyed. So there are a few things that really ministered to me, that I thought I would share.

But first, a little explanation of this fictional book…Mack’s very young daughter has died. And this is his journey to discovering who he is, who God is and how he could possibly go on from here. It’s the conversations between Mack and the different aspects of the Trinity. This particular conversations I’ll share are between Mack and Father God.

“if you couldn’t take care of Missy, how can I trust you to take care of me?” There, he’d said it–the question that had tormented him every day of The Great Sadness. Mack felt his face flush angry red as he stared at what he now considered to be some odd characterization of God, and he realized his hands were knotted into fists.

“Mack, I’m so sorry.” Tears began to trail down her cheeks. “I know what a great gulf this has put between us. I know you don’t understand this yet, but I am especially fond of Missy, and you too.”

…He wanted to believe her and slowly some of his rage began to subside.

“That’s why you’re here, Mack,” she continued. “I want to heal the wound that has grown inside of you, and between us.”

…”I think I’d like that,” he admitted, “but I don’t see how…”

The Shack, William P Young, Chapter 6

I understand exactly how Mack is feeling at this point. Where have you been, God? I’ve been over here drowning. Where were you when A & B happened? If you really cared, would this have happened?

But then, when you look closely at this passage, you see that Father God was tearing up/crying at the pain that Mack is going through. Could this be true? Does God truly care? Does He cry when I’m hurting? Does He feel my pain? It’s something I had never considered before.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a Pastor at my church last year as I shared my infertility journey and my heartbreak over it. The Lord spoke to her and told her to tell me: I am for you. Not only that, but I am for you having a child. I had never considered that he was for me having a child. After all,i am for you He’s allowed this to be such a long and hard journey. So surely, if he’s allowing it, I’m not supposed to have a child, and He doesn’t really care. I began to doubt what He had told me and shown me several times, the child I KNOW I will have. I have to allow myself to remember He is for me.

I also totally relate to “I’m not sure how…” statement. I have to remember that my tears mean that I will be comforted. He will comfort me, He will meet me where I am. I amy not understand the why or the when, but I know that He will.

He. is. for. me.

He. cares. about. my. pain.

“Mackenzie, I know that your heart is full of pain and anger and a lot of confusion. Together, you and I, we’ll get around to some of that while you’re here. But I also want you to know that there is more going on than you could imagine or understand, even if I told you. As much as you are able, rest in what trust you have in me, no matter how small, okay?

– The Shack, William P Young, Chapter 6

So God is not only for me and cares about my pain, but he knows my pain. He can sense and feel my pain. His heart is breaking to witness my heart breaking. He wants to help me deal with my pain and get through it. He hasn’t left me in the midst of it. He wants to deliver me through the pain.

I’m reminded of a passage of scripture:

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  – Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)I-am-not-alone

He’s showing us that there’s so much more going on that we can’t see. He can see it. And He knows that He can deliver me through it so that what I’m praying for will be event bigger than I’ve imagined. He’ll do way more than I’m expecting. He’s taking our paper and crayons into a masterpiece, because He only knows to create bigger and better!

He’ll. do. more. than. I. can. imagine.

I don’t have this all figured out, and I’m still dealing with a lot of pain and sadness. I know that He’s only beginning to scratch at the surface of my heart. But I can’t wait to see how He’ll amaze me through it. He truly is faithful and loves us more than we can fathom.

To close this out, I got a glimpse of a post I wrote four years ago, as I was struggling with some big trials. So I’d like to share it with you.

As I think about it…that’s not the only aspect of how His timing is perfect. I had probably had one of the worst years of my life. My grandmother passed away, my husband lost his job, my mom had surgery, my stepmother passed away, and my husband had neck surgery. I seriously was at the point…what else could Satan possibly throw at me?? Really??? Come on!!!! I was beginning to doubt myself, and I thought God had stopped intervening in my life? You’re a healer? Really? Look at all that had happened over the past year…so much related to healing. I know you are God, I know you heal…but why was no one in my circle getting that advantage of you? Why was all this happening? I can totally say that I don’t understand all of it. But I do know, He was always there waiting with open arms for me, no matter what the enemy threw at me. He allowed me to go through it all, and it only made me stronger, it didn’t matter what was thrown at me, My God is so much bigger! And his timing is perfect! Because after that horribly rotten year, he delivered us from our bondage!!! Why? Because He’s God, and He loves me! And apparently, He has bigger plans for me than I had for myself.

So are you doubting why He hasn’t answered you yet? We prayed for 7 years. But His timing was much more than perfect! Trust in His timing, He knows way better than we do!!!

Then this was in another post from Beth Moore’s study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman:

“He who delivered you from drugs can deliver you from distraction. He who delivered you from bankruptcy can deliver you from bingeing. He who delivered you from infertility can deliver you from inconsistency. He who delivered you from the fire can deliver you from fear. Sometimes God uses the winds of a new threat to blow the dust off a past miracle that has moved from our active files into the archives. Remember, Beloved! Remember what God has done for you!”

Friend, I pray that God can use what the enemy meant to destroy me, to bring you some encouragement and understanding. Never forget: He is for you.

Blessings, Shannon

Continued Provision

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The way God has continually provided for us in the last two and a half years has totally amazed me.

No matter how much He has provided for us, I always have seemed to doubt his provision, doubt Him. And every time, I feel like He’s nudging me, saying, “Why do you doubt Me? Haven’t I shown you my goodness, my faithfulness?”

And the truth is, yes, He has shown me His faithfulness, numerous times.

It first started with my husband losing his job over 2 years ago, which took with it 75% of our income, with us having over $40,000 in debt. I had not idea how we would make it through with out his income & the debt piling over us. God provided us over and over through that time. He got unemployment for most of it. Also during that time God miraculously provided a way for us to pay off all of our debt. I even mean our car debt. We owe no money on all of our cars. Truly a gift.

Then after him being unemployed for a year and a half , i got a promotion at work, that came along with benefits and all. This was something I had been praying for for over 2 years. God had come through!!!!

Shortly thereafter, Carl lost his unemployment, and I got scared. But then, he got a temporary job. I thought this would finally be the end of the unemployment streak. The very exhausting streak. But then that didn’t last either.

Panic seemed to sink in more now than ever before. What were we gonna do? Our savings was almost depleted and the few credit cards we had were maxed out. How were we going to pull through this? Would God really provide like he had in the past? As much as I tried to believe and have the faith, and believe in His promises…it was such a struggle.

However, he proved his faithfulness all over again. Carl got a job almost immediately. We only went one pay period with out him having a check after the temp job. I was beside myself with excitement, I couldn’t contain the happy tears.

He is truly Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. How can I ever doubt that, again??

 

What Satan Intended for Evil…

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So I am currently doing this amazing study on the Book of Esther by Beth Moore called Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. It’s absolutely amazing!!

I was blown away by a certain part of this study. Beth Moore was talking about when Haman had gotten King Xerxes permission to put in the order to have all the Jews killed. Within 1 day of getting the okay from the King, he sent out what we would call telegrams, to all Jews to let him know that their most certain death was coming. In the scripture it gives the timeline: 12th year, 13th day of the 1st month, which was when the order was made. The next day the Jews were notified. And the connection that she makes is amazing. In Leviticus 23, it talks about this timeline. This timeline was the Passover. This was such a significant time for the Jews.

She talks about how the Jews must have been thinking why today of all days? And Haman must have been thinking so highly of himself, thinking that he had ruined this occasion for them. He must have been thinking: “Perfect timing!”

But what Haman had really done was remind the Jews who they were, and what God had done for them. He only reminded them that the God that delivered them from the Egyptians, could now also deliver them from the Persians!!!

What I saw in this that absolutely amazed me, is the concept of What Satan intends for Evil, God intends for Good. Satan intended to destroy the Jews and ruin a day that reminds the Jews of what God had done for them. However, instead God took this evil intention & used it for His glory. In the end He will always be glorified!!! He will deliver us!!!

Here’s a portion of the study:

“He who delivered you from drugs can deliver you from distraction. He who delivered you from bankruptcy can deliver you from bingeing. He who delivered you from infertility can deliver you from inconsistency. He who deliver you from the fire can deliver you from fear. Sometimes God uses the winds of a new threat to blow the dust off a past miracle that has moved from our active files into the archives. Remember, Beloved! Remember what God has done for you!”

S2S – Day Three

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On Day 3 we were scheduled to go to Rescue Atlanta. Another homeless outreach that fed people. This one was where we went to where they were and set up tables and fed them. Dzerassa had to meet us there, so she was following Avery most of the way.

On the way there when we were getting off the exit, a red car cut us off while we were going like 70 mph. Avery had to brake and swerve into the emergency lane. We were incredibly close to hitting that car. It was pretty scary. I am convinced that all the praying/covering we had been doing, had caused angels to surround us and protect us during that time…cuz we seriously should have hit that car.

The location we were supposed to go to with Rescue Atlanta ended up having 30 14 year olds volunteer, so we were redirected to another location.

The location we were redirected to was a lot smaller with less people. I helped hand people their food with silverware. The people were very nice and grateful.

When we were finished serving them we just ended up talking to the different people that hadn’t left yet. Melody, Ginger, Dia, Elsy & I were talking to a couple. The man is a cook, and cooks amazing food. We ended up talking about different foods he makes. We also ended up in a conversation about baseball. Then he was talking about that him and his girlfriend will get married. I really enjoyed talking to them.

Right before we left Heather introduced me to a person, that actually knows a college friend of ours, Mary Ellen Freeman Fiddler. I thought that was funny. What a small world! So we talked for a few minutes about Mary Ellen. It was very cool.

We then went back to the Rescue Atlanta Center. We prayed in a huge circle. We prayed against spiritual attacks. We prayed for covering. And we also prayed for supernatural rest. It was very nice. We then ate our dinner. Then we took group pictures in front of the wall that said Rescue Atlanta on it.

We then headed home. We debriefed as normal and they gave out the 100 Grands. Joshua and Elsy were the ones to receive them that evening.

And that wraps up day 3…

S2S – Day Two

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Day 2…

We met at VWC and prepared our dinners for the night. That night we were missing 2 members of our team. One was just unable to make it and the other, was because his pregnant wife had to be taken to the ER. She ended up being okay, though.

We had two events planned for this night. The night was called Operation Jamie & Operation Welcome Home.

The first one…Operation Jamie. We went to the Marta station at the airport. We had 2 teams each on a stair way. We had 5 signs. Jamie wants…to give you…a high five!…Get Ready!…Here’s Jamie (with an arrow pointed at Jamie, and Jamie holding her hand out to give high fives.) It was really cool. It was neat seeing everyones reactions. People were really surprised and had smiles on their faces. One guy was on his cell phone telling someone about it “There’s 5 people on the stairway at the marta station, they are holding signs that say Jamie wants to give you a high five! Get Ready! Here’s Jamie. It’s like an episode of Jacka**!) It was hilarious! I almost busted out laughing.

The second one…Operation Welcome Home. We went inside the airport, and held a welcome home banner. We had 30 welcome back balloons and 30 sets of flowers. We just picked random people went up to them and welcomed them home. Then when some people would walk by we would start screaming and saying welcome home. People were very appreciative and surprised! It was awesome!

We again debriefed when we got back to the church. And they gave out the 100 Grand Bars to two people. But I only remember one of the people that received it. It was Kelly Baker!!! Woop woop!

And that ends Day 2!!

S2S – Day One

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This was the first official day of s2s (Sunday to Sunday). I had been so excited about this all week. I knew I wanted to be a part of this because I had never done a missions trip before, and this was the closest I would get to it, so far. We all went to the 10:30 am service together, and then met up at the V2 building. There we had pizza for lunch, and went through a short orientation. After that we made our dinner for the evening.

We then went to The Furnace, where we had corporate intercessory prayer. We just prayed over our trip. We prayed for protection and a great time of ministering to others.

We then departed in the shuttle, which had no air…we felt like we were suffocating. I ended up with a horrible migraine, ugh! We arrived at the Safehouse Center.

When we got there there was 25 or so people waiting outside. We walked up and immediately a woman walked up and saw Avery & Dede’s precious baby Ava. This woman, I believe her name was Crystal. She was just lovin on Baby Ava. She told us about her son, who is Ava’s age. She isn’t able to take care of her son, somebody else was taking care of her baby. All she had of him was a photo album and his pacifiers that she wore on her neck. It was very sad. I can’t imagine not being with my child.

We were then brought inside Safehouse where we prepared the food for all the people. While we were getting everything ready, they were being ministered to through a service. We prepared 190 meals. We were able to feed a lot of homeless people.

When we came out, I noticed a guy, that had followed me any my dad around when we were in Atlanta a month earlier.

It was very hard to see all these people that do not have homes, and have to rely on other people most times to get food.

Once all was said and done, we headed out and got the Unholy Tour. Unfortunately, the usual tour guides were unavailable. So in their place Avery & Dede gave us the tour. They actually remembered most of it from the last s2s trip.

There was 2 very memorable things that they shared during the tour.

First, we passed a building that they explained used to be an abortion clinic. Not only was it an abortion clinic, but it was one that terminated pregnancies in their 3rd trimester. That alone was heartbreaking. He said that you would see blood and human tissue on the stairs. Fortunately, the leader of Safe house, would walk up and down the street over and over praying that God would close the place down. And praise God, he did just that. They were closed down because of health code violations.

Second, we passed a building that from the outside had signs that said you could come there for counseling. But what it was was a Satanic House of Worship. They would get people in there under false pretenses and then start converting them little by little. They even had people bringing in infants for infant sacrifice. Eventually the leader from safehouse got one of the main guys that worked there converted to christianity. The head lady of this place, was very angry that he “ruined” her best guy. And eventually she was converted also, and the place was closed down. Amazing!!!

 After the tour was over we headed back to VWC where we debriefed and just went over what we all experienced. They Avery and Dede gave out 2 100 Grand bars, to recognize 2 people that either went above and beyond or were really brought out of their box. That night it was Dzerassa and Heather.

And that marks the end of day 1!

Ministry, Leadership & Showing Jesus

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So many things have happened as of late…

I graduated from VWMTC. Wow, and it was amazing! I think the best part of that was my dad coming! It was like the first time in almost 3 years that I had seen him! It was so great spending time with him. We even got to go out on the streets of Atlanta and do the street witnessing thing in Atlanta! It was so awesome actually witnessing him witness to other people! It was awesome seeing the conviction come upon peoples faces! But it was so hard for me when he had to leave, because I had such a great time, and was so not ready for our time to be up! But I was so grateful that he came and I had the opportunity to spend time with him!

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Then once I graduated from ministry school, I was promoted from apprentice to leader. I was then moved to the Something to Believe In group with Harold Levy. He had been leading the group on his own for a while now, and now I was there to contribute and help him out. He is a great leader and I have been learning so much from him. And just this past week we got an apprentice, Leah Lasley. She is absolutely amazing! And I am really going to enjoy having her as part of the leadership team!

Well then, at the end of May, Johnson Bowie, our Fusion Pastor, announced Fusion on Tour. Fusion was taking a break for the summer (well the months of June and July). But it wasn’t really a break. Fusion was/is taking it to the streets. Getting out into our communities, reaching out to people, and just being Jesus to those around us! Amazing! They were really pushing this through our small groups. I was so very excited about this! This is so totally my heart!

So that night that it was announced, the Fusion small groups took groups out that night to do their first outreach. Our group, Something to Believe In, went to the Gwinnett Braves stadium to give out waters to people for free. But, by the time we got there, the game was over and most of the people were gone. So we then went to the Walmart up the street and gave out waters up there! It was pretty cool to see the look on peoples faces! They were not expecting it at all. And it was really cool to see our whole group out there contributing!

Since then our group has done many outreaches…lent a hand at the Norcross Co-op, given out hotdogs for free at Lilburn City Park, had a BBQ for Neighbors in Neil’s neighborhood in an effort to try and get to know his neighbors, gave out waters at Shorty Howell Park and accompanied Fusion at the Atlanta Dream Center and adopted a block. It has been totally awesome getting out in our community and doing these things! I can’t wait to see what God does in July!
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Then I had an amazing opportunity to be a part of s2s! It stands for Sunday to Sunday. It is a missions trip that Avery & Dede Nesbitt came up with in our own back yard. It’s an inner-city missions trip after work every day. I was able to be on the team that did this in June, this past week! It was totally amazing 

Stay tuned…