…but it hurts, Lord.

With our Bibles and journals open and a hot cup of tea in my hand, I shared a lovely conversation today with one of my dearest friends. We talked about God’s Word, about being single, about our college days and how we’d like to go back and are ok with not going back at the same time, about our value in Jesus, about ministry, purpose and hopes for the future. While we’re aware that the Lord takes us through seasons, we both definitely attested to how hard these seasons are sometimes. While tough times produce growth and maturity there’s something in them that is often hard to shake and wrestle with: HURT.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve been back home and I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had over these last 11 months about the way my world has been shaken. A lot of the time I just want to throw up my hands and say I’m fine. I want to package up my disappointments, frustrations and questions in sparkly wrapping paper and tie it in a pretty pink bow. I want to say, “Yes, it’s hard, BUT it’s all good.” It’s so tempting to rush pain and get to the being “ok” part. This, however, isn’t truly walking though grief. While I’m no counselor and no expert on grief, I can say that healing comes in stages and through the touch of the Lord.

A week ago I had meltdown. Like the weep fest of the century. I cried so hard. I told God that it hurt. I told Him I didn’t understand a lot of things. I went to bed feeling defeated, like I took a step back in the grieving process. It wasn’t until a few days later that I really saw some clarity in it all. A few days later I was journaling and, in God’s perfect timing, had a pretty big breakthrough in an area where I needed to experience some healing. Isn’t God so good and creative in how He works? Nights before I thought I was taking a step back, but it was really the releasing of those emotions that pushed me to some healing.

As I was sitting with my friend today, I was looking through my journal from this past year. Back in November I was doing a She Reads Truth Bible study, (if you haven’t checked out their app, see it here!) and I ran across this exercise that I did. It’s very simple, but very powerful. In hard things, it’s difficult to be thankful. Here’s a great list to fill out to be thankful in a rough season:

I WILL GIVE THANKS IN:

  1. This joyful thing: ______________
  2. This suffering: ________________
  3. This certainty: ________________
  4. This stress: __________________
  5. This injustice: ________________
  6. This sorrow: _________________
  7. This plenty: _________________
  8. This want: __________________
  9. This wandering: ______________
  10. This waiting: ________________

“Rejoice always! Pray constantly! Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In the hurt, hang in there but admit that it hurts. God can take the truth. In time and with His help, you can choose to move forward!tree

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How Working Out Has Helped My Mind and Body: Confessions of a Girl Who Used to Walk Everywhere.

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I’m happy to say that this last year I joined the gym and (fairly!) consistently go. I go to Crunch Fitness. It’s a great price, the staff is friendly, and it has just what I need to get a good workout.

It’s not an understatement to say that when I lived in both Slovenia and the UK, I walked all the time. It was just a part of life there and it’s probably one of the things I miss most living back in the States. I’d walk to the store, to meet students, to hike and just to do life. Here, if I want to walk, I make a conscience decision to go on a walk. Anyone want to guess how often that happens?!

So, the gym has been a great place to get the exercise in that I don’t naturally work in to my day-to-day life. Working out has really helped my transition back home both physically and mentally in a number of ways.

1. I work in an office and do a lot of sitting. I’m guessing it’s a combination of getting a little older and  that I’ve never had a job with so much sitting. Whatever it is caused by, my body doesn’t love it. Working out helps my body loosen up after 7ish hours at a desk! It also helps my energy for the next day of work. I feel such a difference when I get a good elliptical run in!

2. Working out helps me start and accomplish a goal under 2 hours. It feels good to push myself a little harder than I think my body can handle.

3. My time at the gym is great for processing or choosing not to process! If I have things to think about, great. If I want to just go and listen to music and sweat a little, great.

4. I seem to have some of my greatest epiphanies at the gym! Endorphins are released and BOOM, I have some great thoughts. Sometimes they’re sweet whispers from the Lord the confirm my identity in Him. Sometimes they’re mapping out my blog posts content and catchy titles!

5. Caring about my body this way actually makes me feel better about myself. I know it isn’t all about what we look like, but it’s really helped my self esteem knowing I’m taking care of myself.

Some things I’ve learned while making this more of a habit:

  • Drink lots of water during the day before you work out.
  • Push yourself and your body will thank you after.
  • Don’t be ashamed if your body hurts after! Sore muscles are a sign that you’re doing something  good for your body.
  • Throw in a worship song every once in awhile. I need to do this more, but worship music is seriously so great to work out to!
  • Speaking of music, have a go-to song that’s YOUR JAM. When you feel like calling it quits, throw on this song and it may just push you to finish.
  • And above all else and most importantly, DO NOT go to the store after a hard workout when you’re hungry and feeling accomplished. You’ll end up buying a bag of Fritos and eating them while you’re writing this blog post. Just saying.

To my friends that are hurting and the people that surround them.

ineverything

This is the start to the blog post I’ve wanted to write, thought about writing, practiced saying out loud, and have never wanted to write. This is the start to the blog post of a season that I’ve cried about, prayed though, sought council for, discovered new things about myself in, questioned God’s goodness in, and have experienced some of the hardest and sweetest things in my life with the Lord in. Yes, all these feelings can be about the same thing. And if you know me, you know they often do all go together.

Break ups suck. Can we start there? There’s nothing Hollywood romantic-like about them. The grief in them is so unpredictable. One day I’m great and the next I’m crying because of a SONG LYRIC. The routine of having someone to talk with all the time is now an emptiness that can make you super needy for communication. The loss of a dream is just that: a loss. And losses take time to get over.

I read a very honest blog post called I thought I would marry him by Hanna Seymour and it really encouraged me to write my own.

I’m incredibly confident that at different points in our lives, we all experience brokenness. Right now, I’m feeling broken due to a dream that was lost. Next year I may be broken over something else. It’s part of life and a reality of living in a fallen world. BUT THERE IS HOPE. Hope that goes beyond the hurt that I, and I’m sure some of you, am experiencing now. I’m also equally confident that you know someone that’s experiencing brokenness. Let’s love each other and encourage one another in our pain. Here are some practical ways we can be loving each other:

  • Send a card. My goodness I can’t explain how special cards have been for me this year. It doesn’t take so long, but it means the world to someone that’s hurting, especially when they’ve gone through a major life transition. Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
  • Accomplish a project. Whether it’s going to Ikea to pick out a new pillow for the couch, using a new recipe and going to the store to get the ingredients, picking out a paint color, or crossing something off a bucket list, do it and do it together. When someone is going through heart ache, starting and finishing a project feels incredibly satisfying. It also takes your mind off the hurt!
  • Say you’ll pray for them and actually pray for them. Something that helps me remember to pray for others is having specific prayer days. Monday is Slovenia, Tuesday is Family, etc. Have a friend day and pray for your friends that are going through a rough season. Also, send them a text that lets them know you’re praying.
  •  Be a good listener. My best friend Kristin got married to her Matthew this last June, about 2 months after my relationship ended. She was (AND IS!) the most beautiful example of how to rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15) We used this phrase a lot when I came home. She was mourning with my loss, but we were rejoicing in her marriage. In these last 10 months of me being home, she has been such a good listener. She lets me talk and cry about the same thing 17 times in a row. Then she speaks truth into my craziness. It’s a beautiful thing.
  • Carry your friends to Jesus. Mark 2 tells the story of the friends who literally carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed. Verse 2 says: When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

     When Jesus saw THEIR faith. Oh man, what a beautiful picture of community. Sometimes hurting people can’t make sense of what they’re thinking or believing about themselves or their situation. Carry them to Jesus. Cry with them. Pray with them. Rejoice and Mourn. 

I am so thankful to say that I’ve had many people in my life do all these things with me. It has been SUCH a painful season, but a huge thing is that I’ve had people walk with me. May we be these type of people to our friends and family that are hurting.

 

Lent Season Reflections

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 9.42.34 PMWell HELLOOOOOO, blog world! It’s been a bit since my last blog, so I thought I’d get back on it.

Today I’m thinking about Lent. I’ve practiced Lent on and off for the past 5 years or so. I’ve given up things like coffee, dessert and even wearing eye makeup. To be honest, sometimes there is a lot of pride associated with Lent inside of me. Instead of sharing with you what I’m giving up this year, I’d like to point to my Savior instead.

I had the amazing gift of getting to spend this last weekend in Spokane, Washington with dear friends! My friend from Slovenia, Tilen, flew to the West Coast and we drove up to see our friends Mateja (who’s also from Slovenia) and Travis (who’s boring and from America like me!). Needless to say, my heart was filled up in so many ways! I heard the Slovene language being spoken, got to speak a little of it myself, went to the Brad Paisley concert, visited beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (if you’ve never been, please go now), did some country line dancing, played games and laughed with friends. Besides all of the good conversation, one of the best things for my soul was the church service at Soma Spokane I got to attend on Sunday.

We dropped off Tilen for his flight back to Slovenia early Sunday morning, Travis had to work, Mateja was up leading the kids’ ministry, and so I got to go to the service by myself. Worship with Soma was so sweet and the message was beautiful as well. They started a new series on Jesus’ final days before He died for us on the cross. I just HAVE to share their message on Lent that is printed on the back of their bulletin. It’s how I want my attitude to be about Lent this season. Enjoy!

Jesus’ Final Days

The season of Lent spans the 7 weeks leading up to Easter, and is historically a time of self-reflection and confession in anticipation of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Lent is a time to remember that we are dust; to be honest about our frailty, to reflect on our position of dependence, and to come face to face with our spiritual need. But Lent is also a time to remember Jesus: to come to a new awareness of who He really is, see the ways we’ve coopted Him for our own purposes, and surrender our lives again before the true King of the world.

As a season of self-reflection, Lent invites us to a new level of honesty: we are all more comfortable with the Jesus in our minds that the Jesus displayed in the Gospel stories and who lives in resurrected power. Ever since Jesus began his 3 short years of ministry, culminating in a week of spectacular collision with the religious leaders, every one of us has resisted surrender tot he King of the cross and empty tomb.

As a season of Jesus-awareness, Lent invites us to a new level of awe: He is more wonderful that we’re yet aware. The Jesus we see in this final week of earthly life is a lightening rod, a man on a self-sacrificing mission, undermining the religious political status quo in favor of a new kind of faith and a new kind of freedom for all the wrong kind of people. The real Jesus is really good news for sinners, liars, losers, and freaks.

And all of this means we’re in the sweetest trouble ever. Lent invites us to new lows of humility and self awareness, but it invites us to greater highs of awe and glory, as we answer the most important question of all time: Who is this? 

May you find yourself in sweet trouble this Lent season.

20 Years of Best Friendship (and I crossed a bucket list item off too!)

Saturday my best friend, Kristin, and I celebrated being best friends for 20 years. Care to take a trip down memory lane with me?

Kristin and Shauna’s Friendship Over the Years:

2nd Grade:

  • We meet in Mrs. Carrol’s class.
  • Most vivid story I remember is that our class lizard climbed up my sleeve and it came out with it’s tail shed off. Kristin knows this story and she’s still friends with me. 🙂

3rd Grade:

  • Our friendship continues to grow in Mrs. Hanes’ class.
  • Field trips, birthday parties and lots of class events and pictures!
  • We went to Trout Creek Bible Camp!

Kristin1

4th Grade:

  • A rough year for us as Kristin went to public school for half of a year and left me at Eastside Christian School!

5th Grade:

  • Kristin returns to Eastside with a blonde streak in her hair and fake blue crocodile print pants.
  • I’m rockin the HUGE bangs that continue to run the show through sophmore year of high school.

6th Grade:

  • We both transfer to Good Shepherd School.
  • Carpooling, Mrs. Everett’s class, overalls, crushes on boys, lip smackers, and junior high youth group.

7th Grade:

  • Mrs. Starr and Mr. Fier’s class, Rockaway Beach trip, the Tunnel at Quest (Youth group).

8th Grade:

  • D.C. Trip, Kristin’s shirt that said: “I know I’m smart, tell me I’m beautiful,” my obsession with collecting keychains.

9th Grade:

  • We both start at Barlow High School. I played basketball, Kristin was a cheerleader. We remained friends. 😉
  • Kristin got her driver’s permit, I was a little behind in this area!
  • We both went with upperclass freshmen to Prom.

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10th Grade:

  • Summer right before we both went to Utah on a mission trip where we both started “dating” boys from the trip!
  • We didn’t know it at the time, but this trip was an inspiration for both of us to continue in missions.
  • Snowball, prom, football games, superfanning, and lots of youth group activities.
  • Kristin gets her license.

Kristin3

11th Grade:

  • Montana for 5 Day Clubs.
  • Upperclassmen!

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12th Grade:

  • Montana again
  • I finally get my license!
  • We both started working at Red Robin!
  • Senior Class Awards: Kristin gets “most loveable” and I get “most inspirational” (haha!)
  • We walk together at Graduation with hot pink sprayed shoes.

Kristin5

Kristin4

Fall 2006-Spring 2010:

  • I went off to Corvallis for school and this is the first time (since 4th grade) where we were in different places!
  • We started to realize how valuable time together is!
  • I started going to Slovenia on trips, Kristin started going to Czech on trips: both with Josiah Venture.Kristin6
  • Our best friend, Aleah, gets married to Matt!

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Summer 2010-June 2015:

  • Kristin goes to her first blazer game!
  • During this time, I get a little confused on all that we did, but I know that we were in so many different places, away from each other! Kristin went to Alaska for work for a bit, California for Bible school, and then started Aveda School. I moved to Slovenia and Wales.
  • Skype Sessions. 🙂

Kristin9

Kristin8

Spring 2015:

  • I moved home from Wales in April and got to be a part of all of Kristin’s pre-wedding festivities.
  • Kristin and Matt get married and I get to be in the wedding party! It was the MOST beautiful day celebrating these two. What a gift they are to each other! I’m so thankful I got to be home for all of this. I really love Matt and think he’s just the best for my best. 🙂

Kristin10

Kristin11

September 12, 2015:

  • Kristin and I celebrated 20 years of friendship with going to the Tillamook Cheese Factory (#12 on my Summer bucket list!), Lincoln City Beach, and out to dinner.

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Thank you, Father, for SUCH a good friend. Kristin, you are the best! I don’t know where I’d be without you in my life!

“OH, taste and see that the Lord is GOOD.” Psalm 34:8

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

15 Things to do in Summer ’15 Oregon Bucket List #10&11!

I’m did a two-for-one on my bucket list today: Go to Portland’s Saturday Market and Food Cart Tour! 

My parents and I headed ALL THE WAY (hey, from Gresham it’s quite a trip!) down to downtown Portland to look around at all the sites. 

It was a busy day downtown and we saw all the life and culture Portland has to offer! After walking around and looking at all the booths, we finished with a falafel sandwich from a food cart on the waterfront. So yummy! 

I just have a few items left on my list! Stay tuned! 

   
    
    
   

15 Things to do in Summer ’15 Oregon Bucket List #9!

  
Spoiler alert! I talk about the end of the movie, Big Hero 6 in this post.

I knocked off another bucket list item last night: See a movie in the park! 

I ventured down to Salem to hang out with friends and watch Big Hero 6 at the Riverfront park in West Salem. 

What a good movie and fun way to enjoy the last bit of summer. We had good snacks, watched the movie on a big screen while on blankets, and we’re in great company. 

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. The main character of the movie is a boy named Hero who, after his brother’s death, partners up with his brother’s friends and robot, BayMax, to track down the villain who stole his robots and is responsible for the fire his brother died in. Through the journey, BayMax acts as the care giver and is constantly asking if his patients are satisfied with their care. At the very end of the movie, BayMax sacrifices himself in order to save Hero. In order for this to happen, Hero has to tell BayMax that he is satisfied with his care. Hero, hesitating at first, eventually tells him that he is and BayMax then sacrifices himself. Isn’t this a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us? The difference, though, is that Jesus died for us knowing that many of us would not accept his care. BUT He did it anyway. John 15:13 says: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You see, God’s care for us is there. It’s offered to us. All we need to do is take it. Accept it. Trust me, it will be the best choice you make. If you have questions about a relationship with God, I’d LOVE to talk to you about it. 

His care WILL satisfy you. 

15 Things To Do in Summer ’15 Oregon Bucket List #8!

Oh me, oh my. This bucket list item may have been one of my favorites so far: Go See Wicked! 

The music. The acting. The singing. The drama! It was all so amazing!  

 My good friend, Taylor, and got all dressed up and caught the 7:30 show this last Wednesday at Keller Auditorium. 

  
If you’ve never seen any Broadway, I highly recommend it! My next hope is to go and see Beauty and the Beast this December! Maybe I need to come up with a Broadway bucket list?! Ooo, I like the sound of that. 

A Great Piece From A.W. Tozer and Randy Alcorn

I just started working for Eternal Perspective Ministries, a nonprofit founded and headed up by author Randy Alcorn. I’m really enjoying it so far and am learning so much. I ran across this blog by Randy, quoting one of his favorite authors, A.W. Tozer. Have a read, it’s good stuff! 

When I’m asked what writers had the most profound influence on me as a young Christian, I always say there were three, and they continue to influence me today: C. S. Lewis, A. W. Tozer and Francis Schaeffer. In past months I’ve written about the subject of desire and longing in Augustine, Pascal and C. S. Lewis. Today I want to share from Tozer.
Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, a fabulous book on the attributes of God, is my favorite nonfiction book of all time. I’ll talk about it another time. The following two quotes comes from another of his classics, The Pursuit of God:

Every one of us has had experiences which we have not been able to explain: a sudden sense of loneliness, or a feeling of wonder or awe in the face of the universal vastness. Or we have had a fleeting visitation of light like an illumination from some other sun, giving us in a quick flash an assurance that we are from another world, that our origins are divine. What we saw there, or felt, or heard, may have been contrary to all that we had been taught in the schools and at wide variance with all our former beliefs and opinions. We were forced to suspend our acquired doubts while, for a moment, the clouds were rolled back and we saw and heard for ourselves.

Explain such things as we will, I think we have not been fair to the facts until we allow at least the possibility that such experiences may arise from the Presence of God in the world and His persistent effort to communicate with mankind. 

The Pursuit of GodIt is my own belief (and here I shall not feel bad if no one follows me) that every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin-blocked response to the creative Voice sounding over the earth. The moral philosophers who dreamed their high dreams of virtue, the religious thinkers who speculated about God and immortality, the poets and artists who created out of common stuff pure and lasting beauty: how can we explain them? It is not enough to say simply, “It was genius.” What then is genius? Could it be that a genius is a man haunted by the speaking Voice, laboring and striving like one possessed to achieve ends which he only vaguely understands?

….The Voice of God is a friendly Voice. No one need fear to listen to it unless he has already made up his mind to resist it… Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. We are at the opposite end of the pole. Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart.

To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.

I hope you’ll join me today in turning off the constant noise that presses upon us. Let’s enter the silence to the extent that we can, and carve out time to listen to God’s Voice, in His Word first, but also in His creation. May we look for Him in our family and friends and neighbors and co-workers, who are created in His image.

Let’s be still and know that He is God. What could be better than that?