Monday, August 31, 2009

Yay for the New Shanen! :)

So, I imagine, for those of you who don't know me (who only read about me via my blog), you think of me as an extremely emotional, serious, logical person. I am that ~ sorta. But, there's also a really fun side to me that unfortunately does not come out often enough. (except for random decisions like skydiving, which was a sport I thought only idiots would do!) But I'm working on that... and this weekend I took one step closer to coming out of my carefree, "I don't care what the world thinks of me" shell!

I did something that I have actually been planning for quite awhile. I finally went for it. And I am so glad I did... I didn't tell my family until it was OVER so that they couldn't try to talk me out of it. Then my parents asked me if I was drunk when I did it! haha. (ok, is the suspense killing you?!) I got a tattoo!!!

The thought of it started before my recent Africa trip. A couple friends and I had decided we would get tattoos when we returned from the trip, and I decided back in February that I was going to get an African Symbol, but I didn't know which one. There are so many African symbols, so I wanted to wait until after my trip to see what word stood out to me and summed up my experience the most.

I thought the word would be something like "HOPE", after all, I was going with The Village of HOPE! But, I waited to see. (And I'm glad I waited because the symbol for hope was a little too X-Rated - not sure I would be seen with that tattoo!)

Here his is part of an email I wrote to a friend that explains the words I chose for my tattoo:

"The whole time I was in Gulu, God had me reading II Sam. 22, and He assured me that He is the ultimate protector and defense and fortress for these kids. But there was such a sense of the need for safety and security in Uganda! The kids at Village of Hope have a large wall around the orphanage with glass shards at the top of the wall to keep the rebels out, should they return. The windows have bars on them, and then every night the kids lock every door in the house and let out a guard dog to roam the perimeter."

So - during and after my trip, I knew exactly what word stuck out to me the most. It was Safety, or Security. In Gulu especially, there is an eery feeling of "what if the rebels come back" and just a sense of wanting to move the kids to a safer place. I wanted to pack up the entire town of Gulu and move them somewhere safer!! (Thank God for Village of Hope, who is building new homes in a SAFER place for hundreds of children!)

So, I found an African symbol that means "Safety and Security" for a "House/Compound". Wow! Pretty much perfect, considering we call the Village of Hope a "safe house"!! So, I decided that's what I would get. I went back and forth on where I would get it and finally decided shoulder blade. My feet are ugly, so I didn't want it there. I hate shaving my legs, so I bypassed the ankle idea. I didn't want it anywhere where it would be noticeably visible at work. So, shoulder blade (hidden in a sleeveless shirt, but partially showing in a tank-top), was the perfect solution. Instead of the typical black/green tattoo, I knew I wanted one with color, but didn't know what. I thought maybe teal or a fun, cute color like that, but I wasn't sure. Plus, this tattoo wasn't necessarily for "fun" or "cuteness". I really wanted it to symbolize something dear to my heart that changed my life and so I just kept thinking about what color it would be. The night before I was going, I emailed my friend Trish (who is a fellow-tattooee) and told her what I was doing. After she screamed with excitement, she randomly threw out the color RED and said that she pictured it being red, and this is before I even told her that I was debating color choices! Well, I thought about it for a whole 2 seconds!!!... then decided that was perfect. To me, Red symbolizes the blood shed in Africa due to the 20 year war, and reminds me even more how much I need to pray for safety and protection over those people!

So, here's a couple blurry pics from my Blackberry. When Angel gets her pics sent to me, I'll post better ones. This is half-way through and then a close-up of the completed design!

...Yes, I LOVE AFRICA!!!

Click here to read 2 Samuel 22. I wanted to post it on here but it's really long, and I didn't want to chop it up. The entire chapter was really the inspiration behind the tattoo. While in Uganda, anytime I would start to fear for the children and people I grew to love, God would send me back to 2 Samuel 22. It's like he kept reminding me that He is God (not me!)! Nothing I can do will save them. And more importantly, He loves them more than I do. And He is their protector!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Not much new to blog about... except to say, I am in the middle of a PEACE storm! I'm so used to all other storms (stress storms, grumpy storms, angry-at-life-and-circumstances storms, etc.), that this seems so strange to me!

I haven't even blogged about my feelings (which is unusual for me), because I don't know how to put it all in to words. All I can say, is that I feel peace and I feel content - even though I have no idea what the future holds.

I went to the Women of Faith conference this weekend and it was great! The nugget I left with was this verse:

PSalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

A speaker at the conference pointed out that "Be still" in Hebrew means "Let Go". So, that verse can also be written like this:

"LET GO and know that I am God!"

I love that so much! God is truly teaching me to let go! I have let go of so much already and am full of anticipation to see what God will have for my future!

Monday, August 17, 2009

No words to describe it...

I’m having trouble finding the appropriate words to describe where I am in life right now. I’d throw out the words “bizarre, strange, or crazy”, but your first thought might be something negative. So, I will try these, “calm, joyous, relaxed.” These might not sound like anything exciting to you, but if you know me, or have read more than a few posts on my blog, then you understand that these particular words and I, have not had a meeting of the minds in quite awhile! If anything, I have been “fazzled, stressed and overwhelmed!” So, this is why I find it hard to explain the place I’m in – because I haven’t been here in quite awhile – and I haven’t felt this peaceful in many, many years.

All I know, is that everything I thought I had planned for myself – is no longer my plan. Sounds crazy.... but, all the thoughts I had about my life right now, what I’d be doing, when I’d have a baby, etc. have all changed. Don’t get me wrong, the dreams, desires and hopes around those particular things are still there, but the idea that it’s all about ME and MY timing has been crumbled. I’ve given EVERYTHING over to God and it has been so freeing!!!! I am so OKAY with whatever God has. Seriously. I had all these plans for myself and now, I have no idea what’s going to happen, or where I’m going to go, or when I might have a baby, and I have no problems with that.

I wish I could share more, but I am not at liberty to right now. (But, trust me – I can’t wait to blog about it when the timing is right). But – I know that the peace I have, and the things that God is starting to do, are amazing and can only be His doing. I’m so excited! I see God doing a work, and even though I don’t know much right now, I do know that that’s where I want to be. Right in the middle of His work!

"...clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ..." Rom. 13:14

Friday, August 7, 2009

Still Standing Here...

So, I know it's been a week since I've written anything. I wish I had more time to write, but I just haven't, so sorry! But, the good news is, alot and yet, not much, has happened in the last week. I don't have anything to report on what direction I've taken or that God has given me some great sign, but I can gladly say, that for a full week, God has been revealing to me (in so many ways), that He has me where He wants me.

Pertaining to my last blog, I mentioned that God has me in a place of waiting. Not knowing what's ahead, but teaching me to be ok with that for once. For so long, I have grasped and grasped and hoped and hoped and I was so sure that I knew what I wanted (and what I assumed God was going to bless). And while that may still be the right direction, God has called a time-out. He has asked me to put all these things in His hands. So often, I see something I want, or that I want to do, and unless I feel God stopping me, I step out and do it. However, this has been a much different journey.

I see now, that all along, my focus on these things has been wrong. The journey was all about me. Even as my Blog heading explains, we were created for a purpose and we bring ultimate glory to God when we are walking in our gifts. However, in searching my heart, I realized that I wanted to pursue those gifts and talents for my own benefit. (Yes, there was a desire to want to bless others too, but I just kept looking to those things for my own happiness.)

My heart is changing. Slowly, but surely. For the last week or so, God has continued to confirm that this is where I need to be; my pastor spoke about how we feel God telling us something, and instead of obeying, we decide to do more righteous things to make up for our disobedience. For instance, I didn't want to lay everything down for an unknown amount of time, so I thought that if I read my Bible more, or prayed more, that God would overlook my disobedience to laying it all down! In a paraphrase, our pastor spoke about this: "God cares more about our hearts and our obedience, than He does our righteous acts." He also said something else I love: that we have this distorted view of God and we want to believe that His whole existence is to make us happy and for us to live out our wonderful lives in Joy. He so "gently" reminded us that in fact, that is not God's desire. His desire is for our hearts to be in the right place with Him. And ultimately, if our hearts are right, then the happiness will follow, regardless of the other circumstances. (For instance, Paul! He was imprisoned and tortured, yet he was happy, because his heart was in the right place with God.) I think most of all, God is bringing me to a place where NOTHING shakes me. Nothing wavers my faith. Nothing breaks me. I feel so far from this place, but I know God's grace will continue to lead me there.

While I'm not going to go into alot of details, I can say this - that I have put everything down! Everything I wanted, everything I am pursuing, is down. And I'm not holding back or picking it up until He tells me to. All the dreams, all the desires, all the things I wanted - I've given to Him. Because even though these are things that I want to use for God's glory, I am understanding that I am so far from God in my heart. So, even if God did redeem it all, and allow me to minister to others through disobedience in my life, He still wants my heart to be right too.

So, I totally feel like none of that made since. It's kind of a compilation of several, random thoughts in my head, so I hope you managed to follow-along.