Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Creative

Well, well. I learned a little secret last night from modern eve. She's so cute, and one of those people that I look at and think, "I bet she has good advice for that." Sure enough. We were talking about Blogs (aka: B***). I was telling her about how I enjoy blogging, but don't have time at work, and quite frankly feel guilty for B***ging at work. She told me about "scheduling" a blog. I'm sure most of you knew about this option, but I never really put much thought to it. There are some days where I have more than one thing to blog about, but I want to spread it out over a couple days, but then I don't find the time to blog about it the next day. So... now I can write my blogs and schedule them to be posted on different days. (To do this, click "Post Option" as you are writing your post... simply choose the date and time you want it posted!)

Sounds so simple, and I hope I'm not letting out her secret... but I'm pretty excited about this. Hopefully I will be (seem like) a better blogger than I really am!
Thanks, modern eve!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Quiz of Fours

I was tagged by my sweet friend, The Lavender Lily to fill out these fun facts...

Four wishes:

1) That I lived closer to my family... They are so far away in Ohio! But if I moved to Ohio, then I would miss Sean's family, so I need either my family to move to Texas, or Sean's fam to move to Ohio. I'd be happy either way, but I'm not sure Sean would. ;)
2) That I was in a better mood more often than I am. (I'll leave it at that.)
3) That I was changing more lives and impacting more people in an amazing way; showing more grace and compassion and leading others to Christ by my actions. (Could you imagine? People "seeing your good works and glorifying your Father in Heaven" simply because of your holy lifestyle!?) I want to be better at this.
4) That I was living in my "Sweet Spot".

Four places I want to travel to:

1) Italy - I've heard it's "ah-mazing". Plus, I'd love to taste their wine.
2) Israel, Bethlehem (other Bible places) - I would love to walk the same streets Jesus did!!
3) Maui - We were on the island of O'ahu for our honeymoon and loved it so much. We have always wanted to check out Maui to see all the beautiful waterfalls!
4) New York - yes, I know I was just there, but I want to go back. I miss it already. I was going through my NY pics the other day and I really miss it.

Four careers I would like to be involved in:

1) Self-employed, entrepreneur doing something that I'm passionate about. Somewhere inside of me lives a person who loves to be her own boss and own her own company.
2) Real estate - well, I do have my real estate license, so I guess technically, I am "involved" in it. But, I wish I had time to be more involved. I really LOVED it and MISS it.
3) Some type of hospital or clinic where I can minister to people with cancer or other diseases. Somewhere where I can have hope for people who have lost theirs.
4) "Sweet Spot" career- (If you're not sure what I mean by this, then this must be the first time you've read my blog). I'm not sure what God has planned for me down the road, but I really want to be doing something that I feel is changing the lives of others.

Four things I would like God to say to me at the gates of Heaven:

1) Well done, my good and faithful servant.
2) Come, I have someone for you to see (my mommy)
3) I'm proud of you!
4) Look at all the lives that were saved and changed because of you.

Four people I tag to complete this quiz:
1) Living in His Arms
2) Journey Josh
3) Living in the "nutt" House
4) The Purple Pea

(Wow. that was hard thinking of 4 people to tag - I only have 3 readers!)

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Leading Ladies

Ok, so I like this… Thanks Penny Lane Designs for helping me think of a continuing theme to blog about. I like blogging, but usually need a pretty good theme (or book) to keep me blogging on a regular basis. (Oh, yes. And the time to blog!)

So, in continuation of What I’m Thankful For, I am blogging about 2 leading ladies in my life.

My first Leading Lady is my Grandma Gloria. It’s hard to put her in to words. She is crazy, fun-loving, compassionate, strong-willed, and silly (Yes, silly. She used to get on the floor and leg-wrestle with me!). When I was younger, I thought of her almost like a guardian angel. She tried to protect us grandkids from a lot of unnecessary things, and often she succeeded. The things that she wasn’t able to protect us from are the things that have made us stronger and more able to relate to those who have been through the same things. But, my grandma is one of those extra-special people in my life that I have seriously asked God to let her live forever. My mom was the only girl with three brothers, and I was the only girl with two brothers. So, my mom, grandma, and I were the “girls” in the family. The Three Generations. Now, with my mom gone, I feel like my grandma is such a part of her too, and we have this special bond because we have those memories of my mom and her life. We both carry the Toni-genes and are so close because of it. I can call my grandma and tell her anything, and she always has the right words to say - I can't explain it, but I guess it's just grandma-wisdom. I can’t imagine not having her and I am so thankful for her love. She has been through so, so much, and yet she is still the strongest, most loving, witty person that I know!

Leading Lady #2…. Sundy (Mana) Simmons. I met Sundy and her husband, Mike, when I was 12. (The picture below is the first pic of us together - I was 12 and shy and dorky - and barely knew Sundy). At the time I first met them, they were my youth pastors at a new church that my mom and I were attending. Over the course of 3 years – God would take our relationship to a level that we never would have imagined, or that any “man” would have been able to orchestrate. Sundy was one of my mom’s prayer warriors while she was battling cancer. Not only was she a spiritual warrior for my mom, but I know that many times, she was a warrior for me. At the age of 15, I was often confused, and immature, about the way I handled my mom’s sickness. You don’t receive a manual at birth called, “Read This When you’re 15 and Your Mom is Diagnosed with Cancer”, so many times, I reacted in the way that any typical 15 year old would; selfishly and stupid. During all this, Sundy was there for me – praying for me, believing with me for my mom’s healing, praying that mine and my mom’s relationship would grow during this time instead of dissipate. For several months my mom was in and out of the hospital, and I stayed with Mike and Sundy during this time. While my mom’s time in the hospital or Hospice became longer and longer, I found that more of my clothes and personal items ended up at Mike and Sundy’s house. Finally, there was a point where it became evident that this was not just a hospitable, “we’ll take care of Shanen while her mom’s in the hospital” type action. When you go through such an agonizing experience with people you care about and are so deeply, spiritually invested, it can only bring you closer. I mean, Mike and Sundy were the 2 people who KNEW and FELT my pain in a unique way. They drove me home from Hospice in Columbus every night while I laid in the backseat crying because my mom was dying! They saw me question God’s goodness and rebel against my authorities.

Finally, my mom was at a point where she felt like God was leading her to find a place for me to live if she passed away. She still believed for a healing, but also felt it would be diligent of her to find a place for me if she were to pass. At the same time, God had spoken to Mike and Sundy’s heart and they knew that I had already become a part of their family. Long story short, there was a phone call made, and the words weren’t even there to explain what either party was asking for – it was just the Holy Spirit and three people walking in obedience and being blessed with indescribable peace. My mom’s desire was that I would become a part of someone’s family since my brothers were both grown and had moved away. I can’t even tell you how true that is today (but their family is for another blog!) So, Sundy has been my “mana” (not manna), now for over 13 years. God has done a beautiful work in our relationship and I am so thankful for that. Most of all, I am so thankful that Sundy opened her house to a 15 year old – at first out of love for a teenager in her youth group, but then opened her family to me, out of love for her new daughter.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

What I'm Thankful For... continued

Tada!! The continuation of What I'm Thankful For.

Ok, so after God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I am so very thankful for my family!! I have so much family that I can't name them all... but I want to mention 1 person in particular that I'm exceptionally thankful for. For those of you who know me, this will be of no surprise. I'm starting with Momma Toni (which is what I find myself referring to her as now that she's gone, but never when she was alive... not sure why.) Anyway - about her... She was amazing! There was a time in her life, when she was not walking with the Lord... and those are the times that I tend not to focus on too much. Instead, I choose to dwell on the happy, joyful, and loving mother that most importantly loved Jesus! (Although, she was always loving and happy, I think the true joy in her life was fulfilled in walking closely with Christ.) So - the JOYFUL, crazy-about-Jesus-Toni is who I want to remember her as, and who I long to be like. Even though she passed away 13 years ago when I was 15 - it seems like yesterday I was sitting next to her, talking with her, laughing with her. There aren't too many days that go by that I don't think of her. It's not a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling like it was when she first passed away. Instead, it's more of a slight smile and warmth that I get when a memory of her crosses my mind, or when I hear or see something that makes me think of her. I often wonder what she would be doing with her life if she were still alive. I think part of the reason I am such a stickler about being passionate about what you do in life, is because I saw my mom pass away without having fulfilled many of her dreams. She was so incredible and so creative, and I just wonder what she would have done had she had more time, resources, and faith to believe in herself. Don't get me wrong... she was a hard-worker and a strong woman of faith, but now that I'm "grown up" I often wonder what she would be now. I could see her as a model (yes, I'm bias), or a fashion designer (she loved clothes and accessories - yes, that's where I get it!), maybe an interior designer (she LOVED moving the furniture around all the time!!) Anyway, it's hard to go day-to-day and not think of someone who made such an impact on your life. I hear my friends talk about their moms, and how they call each other every day or once a week, how they went shopping with their moms, they stayed at their mom's house, etc. Yes, part of me is jealous - but not in a mean-spirited way. I'm SO glad that they have their moms, and I rejoice with them that they do. But I always think to myself, "I hope they know how blessed they are to be able to do that. I hope they cherish every single second that they have with their sweet mothers."

So, anyway, Momma Toni's faith was amazing. From the first moment she heard that she had cancer, she knew from that point, that Christ was her only hope - not just for healing, but for any hope! Through that 3-year battle, she became crazy about Jesus. I could go on and on about moments of faith that this woman displayed, but it would clog the blogger world! Let's just say that the biggest thing she instilled in me was to believe in our God for BIG things! When she first found out she had cancer, they said she had had it for 8-10 years (which would have made her 28-30 when she first got it) and they only gave her 6 months to live. She was basically covered in cancer; breast, leg, ribs, every vertebrae of her back! But you know what? She believed God for a healing. She believed, trusted, and hoped! After many months of chemotherapy and radiation, she had a check-up cat-scan and the doctors were astound to find that she had NO cancer in her body! None! They couldn't believe their eyes... they did another cat scan because they didn't believe the first one - they had NEVER seen anything like it before. The only answer for it was God! She KNEW that He had healed her completely! After about 2 years of being cancer-free, she went in for a routine check up, only to find out that the cancer was back. And in all the same places, except this time she also had a brain tumor. (Which made the experience so much different from the first, and so much worse.) So once again, she started her chemo, but continued to believe, hope, and trust God for healing. Her battle lasted for about 10 months, and then she did finally go home to be with her Jesus. But, I am confident in saying that during those 3 years (from when she found out she had cancer, to the time of her passing), she changed many lives and stretched many people to believe God for bigger things than they had ever seen. Because of this, I am changed. She has instilled in me the desire to pray for the sick and to believe God for healing. I feel so blessed, and I am so THANKFUL! Some people ask me why I think God healed her the first time she had cancer, but not the second. And, I can't speak for God - but I DO know that I had 3 more awesome, memory-filled years with my mom. She touched many more lives in 3 years with her testimony than she did with 1 year with cancer. My pastor, Matt Chandler, read a Scripture about 2 years ago (and even though I don't remember the exact sermon, this verse made me cry because it was God answering the question that so many people ask me.) He read from Hebrews 11 - the "Men and Women of Faith" chapter. Most people read the first 3/4 of that chapter and then stop. They read about all these men and women who believed God for miracles and they saw them come to pass. But, most people stop there. They don't read the last part of that chapter that talks about those who were beaten and persecuted, and never received the promise from God. This is where I pick it up:

Hebrews 11:39-40 (AMP): "And all of these, though they won divine approval by
means of their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was
promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater
in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not
come to perfection apart from us..."

When I heard these words I almost fell out of my chair! God doesn't promise a life without pain or cancer... but I felt like when I read this, that God was reminding me that my mom’s faith was not in vain. My mom did not receive the "fulfillment of what was promised" because God had ME in mind. I feel like my mom's faith was imparted to me - the promise is for ME, for my kids, for THEIR kids. How amazing is that??!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What I'm Thankful For

So... I was checking out my friends Blog, Penny Lane Designs... and she was reminding us that it is good to give thanks! (Although, we should always be mindful to give thanks, this is definitely the season that people stop to actually think about it.)

So, in honor of her "thankful" spirit, I thought I would make a little mini-series of the things that I am thankful for (also because I am hard-pressed for finding something to Blog about). So, I'm not trying to be cliche in choosing this first thing to be thankful for - but as I started thinking... that's what I thought of first!

So.. foremost, I am so thankful for God... and thankful that He has always been so faithful to me. Faithful has always been my one word to describe God in my life. I've always thought that my childhood story could be a Lifetime movie. The kind where you laugh, cry, cringe, and walk away thinking, "that surely didn't happen." I often look back on it and think the same thing! But, it's not because I'm so emotionally mighty or because I have super powers to forget what I've been through, or because I have the sad ability to surpress my feelings... it's because despite what I've been through - I've always served a faithful God. One who held me often, cried with me, and mourned with me many times. He was also one to send others to hold me, cry with me, and mourn with me when He knew that I longed for the comfort of someone's physical touch. He's been my daddy when I didn't have one, my best friend when I felt like mine had betrayed me, and my all-in-all when I looked to other things to fulfill me. He is so kind in reminding me that He is the One who has always been there and never let me down. Looking back now, I see where God had His handprint in my life... all the time... in every situation. Anytime I've been at the brink of a meltdown - there He is. Reminding me that He is still "Him". The "Him" that I have grown to love more and more. The "Him" that is good, that is loving, that is caring, and that is faithful. And that is why I'm so thankful for Him!!

I could go on and on about the people in my life that I am thankful for, but I feel like for now - I just want to give my shout out to my Father. (Friends, family, co-workers... keep your eyes on the look out as I attempt to write about the different things I am thankful for!)

Oh, and be sure to check it out... Penny Lane Desings is giving away an awesome Blog Makeover!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

No More Dilema

I am happy to report that I have FINALLY adjusted to my new Bible... if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can view my previous post, Bible Dilema.

I have on numerous occasions, happily, (but ever so carelfully), underlined passages and made notes on a few Scriptures. Right now I am studying something specific which I have enjoyed researching in my Bible... all the additional references and notes in this Bible are amazing!

Just wanted to let you all know, that I am now the proud owner of an amazing "Shanen Bible". :)

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Bible Dilema

This one’s kind of long, but I need some advice…

Well, I got a new Bible. It’s really kind of weird, because I’ve had it for 3 days, and after spending 3 hours (literally) picking out the “perfect Shanen Bible”, I am still not sure how I feel about it. This is why… In college I discovered the joy and intimacy with God that comes from digging in to His Word. I had an awesome Max Lucado Study Bible (my favorite author, as you can tell from looking at my Blog), that I literally tore to pieces from reading it so much. But now, it looks so sad; Isaiah is randomly placed in Psalms, Exodus lies between Obadiah and Jonah, Matthew follows the Book of Revelation – you get the point. So… as much as I love this Bible, I retired it when my parents blessed and surprised me with an Amplified Bible in 1999. Oh, how I’ve enjoyed this Bible too! I love how “amplified” it is; digging deeper into Scriptures to uncover the Greek or Hebrew meanings of specific words. So obviously, over the last 9 year, this became the new “Shanen Bible”… but once again I have torn it up (I promise I don’t do this on purpose.) Although each Chapter is still placed in the correct order as it should (unlike the other Bible), this one has still gone through the ringer; the paper binding has fallen off and is completely messed up. It looks like it was involved in a tug-of-war or run over by a car!

So, being a good steward of my favorite Bible, I did what I had to do - I took it to the Christian bookstore to have it re-bound… a nice pretty, leather-bound Bible with my name imprinted. I thought this would be perfect. Until, they called to let me know it would be over $100 to have this done. At first I thought, “I’ll pay any price. It’s my favorite Shanen Bible.” Then, I guess I realized that I could buy a new Bible (or a couple new ones!) for that same price, and I felt a little guilty for spending that much, even though it’s my favorite Bible, with all my favorite notes and references… So, while it’s been away at the Christian Bookstore I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. While I love the Amplified version, I realize also that it’s hard to follow along with in church, or with anyone who is reading Scripture. If you haven’t read anything from the Amplified version, it’s spectacular… but take this verse for instance, and imagine trying to read along with someone…

In a New King James Bible, Philippians 3:8 reads as this:

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”

My Amplified version reads like this:

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)”

From this verse, I hope you can see why I LOVE the Amplified so much (this is one of my favorite verses in that translation b/c that is so often how I feel, that knowing Jesus is a priceless privilege of surpassing worth, etc. etc.) But, you can probably also see how hard it would be to follow along with someone who is reading from the NKJ version, or almost any other version. (Many times when Erin and I are having our Bible study, I will read aloud, and I think it’s a distraction while I mentally skip over the brackets and parentheses.)

Anyway, this is how I found my self at an unexpected crossroad. Do I continue on and spend over $100 to have the Amplified Bible re-bound (I looked in to having the Max Lucado Bible rebound and it was even more than that because the entire spine needed re-threaded!), or do I find a new Bible for a new Chapter in my life? It was hard. Both of the other Bibles I have are filled with highlights, notes, quotes, and rhema from God. I love reading through them and seeing something that God spoke to me 4, 6, even 12 years ago!! I love thinking back to the exact moment that God spoke it to me – I can remember where I was, what I was doing, what was going on in my life. My Max Lucado Bible is over 12 years old and unfortunately the ink is bleeding through on some of the pages. So, while both of those Bibles hold unforgettable memories for me – I realized it was time for a [sturdy] Bible that I will have for a very, very long time. The others will always be there for me to refer back to and I hope to even pass them along to my children someday. (Of course, I would pay to have them fixed at that point.)

So, I gave myself a long pep-talk, I prayed, and the sweet employees at the Christian bookstore helped me look for 3 hours (no joke – I think I looked at EVERY Bible)... I mean, do you know how many different Bibles there are??! I looked at every Study, Inspirational, Devotional, and Worship Bible. Everyone’s Bible needs are different, but I’m definitely a Study Bible person; I love referencing things and connecting similar verses to each other, stuff like that. So, after so much pressure of finding the “Shanen Bible”, I finally walked away with a new one. It’s a nice, black leather one with a pretty design on it… but... it’s been an awkward transition for me. as I read this really amazing Study Bible, I catch myself thinking of my other Bibles, and I wonder if I have made the right decision. I haven’t been able to talk myself in to writing in it or making a note in it, because I still think, “What if this isn’t the perfect ‘Shanen Bible’ and I need to take it back?” Am I over-reacting??? This Bible has everything I was looking for; Scripture references, lots of study notes, Chronologies, (even online study material), etc., so why am I having such a hard time accepting this as my new Bible? Maybe it’s just that I’m not used to it yet?? It still seems so foreign, like I’m borrowing someone else’s Bible.

Let me know your thoughts… am I crazy?

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