Beautifully Scarred

Psalm 66 is the praise of a scarred man.  You should read it. And be prepared to hear from other scarred people at CONFERENCE  this year!

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Scars are storytelling things. They have stories that remind us who we were, where we were, and leaves us forever changed. I have a scar above one eye from a swing set mishap when I was 10 or 12. I have a scar on my finger from a glass breaking as I was washing the dishes during my first year of marriage. Another scar on my leg from a rock at the shore. That small bump on my chest where my heart procedure took place….

Scars that take me back to specific moments in time and make otherwise normal and obscure details become clear as day and unforgettable. They don’t heal and grow to be invisible over time. They are harder skin, raised up and a different colour or pressed down and dark. You can’t ignore them. They draw the eye away from the normal, mundane skin all around and call for attention. They call up questions in other people. There are stories to tell and sometimes laugher and amazement from crazy times, sometimes pain and sadness because they are the stories that didn’t end well.

My dad’s large scar on his head every time I cut his hair takes me right back to  the first night after surgery and walking past the nurses station to enter his room. Things were bleak in that moment. That scar has seconds that have turned into years attached to it.

We all have scars. Some deeper and more obvious, others smaller and less dramatic.

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So what about your other scars? What about the scarred dreams, scarred purity, scarred and wasted time? Every once in a while (or constant maybe?) a picture or circumstance or conversation makes that emotional scar ache or itch a little. They can’t be forever forgotten. Forgiven? Yes! Forgotten? No.

Scars are our moments of the faithfulness of God standing tall and showing a different shade in our lives. They are God’s graces pressed down and dark with remembrance. People with scars connect well with other scarred people. Women sharing birth stories, kids sharing swing set mishaps, chemo patients seeing the bald head and immediately connect on a deeper level.  Scars bring intimacy. I see your scars. I carry them too. We are none of us perfect, we all are carriers of God’s amazing grace bringing us through each trial in accordance with his perfect plan.

My scars may look ugly to you, but I learned valuable lessons from each place I got them. Every year my anniversary is a scarred reminder of the hard years and how God miraculously brought us through. Every time a picture of a certain place we lived comes across my path I’m reminded of God’s heavy hand of teaching and training that was on me while there. He brought me through.

Each place I was brought through stands taller and is shaded lighter and shows itself more. ‘Remember God’s faithfulness’ is what those scars tell me to do. If He brought me through once He can do it again.

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The Israelites have life scars, too. A bunch of them are written down and passed on to me  in Scripture so that I can see God’s hand of faithfulness in other lives in big ways. It builds my trust and patience in my own circumstance to see the way He worked in other messy lives. Remember Noah and the flood… Abraham and Sarah waiting so long for God’s promise… Pharaoh killing all the Hebrew babies… 40 years of wandering in the wilderness… during the time of the judges constantly being overpowered by their enemies…

Scars are not about us. My jagged marks in life aren’t about me. They are the marks of grace given to a sinner from a merciful God who has every right to do away with me right now and not allow for anymore remembrances. What is Shannon that thou art mindful of her? Why do you patiently keep working and healing and creating a scar-filled highway from her life? I’m not proud of my scars. They aren’t feathers in my cap. If I focus on my part in those scars it brings me down. If I’m the key player in those stories I become defeated. My part is so depressing. But God who is rich in mercy and that amazing love wherewith he loved me is the highlight in those moments along my life’s highway. Grace stands taller, stronger, calling for my attention. It aches with the deep humble gratefulness when reminders come. It has built compassion for those in the middle of being wounded right now. It’s built trust that the same God who healed me and made things stronger somehow in my life is working the same miracles in the lives of those around me.

A sign of a surrendered heart is the willingness to bear the marks of the Lord Jesus. Do you have the mind of Christ or do you have your own? How you suffer and heal changes when you lay your life down the way Christ did. He laid it down to the death. I can ‘seek my own’, and instead of healing stronger and God being raised up brighter in my weakness, the wound festers and gets infected. And the tell-tale sign of bigger problems are those red streaks that start travelling up the skin straight toward the heart. Wounds not dealt with properly eventually attack your main source of life.

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My son broke his leg a couple of years ago. After it should have healed in that one spot after surgery we didn’t know infection was brewing under that cast. His symptoms were being blamed on the flu. But then I happened to see that sore spot. Red, hot, and lines spreading up his leg showing it’s goal was reaching the heart and, unless we dealt with the actual problem, infection would win. But with some proper treatment of the infection things improved quickly and now we just have a scar instead of death. Yet another reminder both physically and spiritually that a problem not dealt with turns into more. If it doesn’t turn into Christ it turns into more of us…. something that is never pretty and always leads to death.

2 Corinthians 11:30 ” If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.” That means I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses… I will boast about my scars that shout out about my mess and all God has done to heal and show His power, not mine.

With that thought in mind, read this:

2 Corinthians 12:8- “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

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Take a look at your scars. They are beautiful. They shout out of Christ’s work and faithfulness in your life. Do not be discouraged in your pain today, for God is being raised up in your life for tomorrow. Live to that end!

~Shannon

Spiritual Anorexia

 Is your Bible woven intricately into every area of your life? Does it consume you? Do you understand the thoughts of the Psalmist saying ‘As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you’?

That phrase used to confuse me. I’d think to myself, “I’m not desperate for my quiet time with God like a thirsty deer hunting for a stream.’ I figured the Bible teachers I’d heard mention it must be faking that feeling….

At that same time the thought confused me I was starving for help and life was getting to be way more than I could handle. I hadn’t realized yet where my nourishment came from and I was bordering on spiritual anorexia.

As my hubby says, if you’re not going to eat your spiritual food don’t complain about your hunger pains!

When was the last time you devoured your Bible? Not a Bible study book…. not a commentary… not a Christian living or devotional book… but the tried and true Word of God all on its own? … for more than 5 or 10 minutes???

We are pretty big on getting people into Scripture in these parts because many of us have experienced the awesome consequences time after time in our own lives, and we are so excited to pass on the simple advice that will change other’s lives, too!

We’ve watched as prison walls have been torn down in lives over and over. We’ve also had to watch the consequences of many who don’t love on their Bibles, too… and it ain’t pretty. Hard to witness such things, but praise God for the many who He teaches to ‘pant for the living water’ and those that are washed by the Word daily!

As you pick up your Bible today, and every day, think of these words I found in my bible study notes from a couple of years ago (I preach to myself CONSTANTLY 😅) because maybe you need this reminder, too?

Always be willing to revisit the word of God. He is constantly revealing more of himself to the christian through it. Always ask Scripture good hard questions, it can handle it. Whether you will bear it or not may be a different story. Ask God to help you handle it.

Prepare yourself to be cut and maimed and destroyed every time you open the Word. God uses it to cut away every bit of self government and reason humanly speaking, and works to bring you under the subjection of the One who holds the sword, no matter what He may say.

Always be humble enough to hear other men’s views on what those inspired pages say but wise enough to honestly sift them through the whole of Scripture to see if they are in keeping with the Word – not necessarily in keeping with what you have always understood the Word to say.

Jump into your Bible today! Expect BIG THINGS!

Haven’t heard about the Bible Challenge? Here it is in a nutshell… It’s an awesome addiction.

~Shannon

But then Jesus…

Thought I’d share some encouragement from my Bible Challenge notes a few weeks ago.

Do you know despair? Do you know shame? Do you know regret? Do you know what it’s like to say, “God, I did what you asked! I begged you for help! Why didn’t you show up?!! It all could have been so different!!”

If you are in that place right now, this is for you. Keep on keeping on.

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The stench of the death of your hopes and dreams dying away is not a forever aroma. Don’t keep facing what you thought were your perfect ideas, struggling to breathe in the midst of the smoke of what God asks you to leave on the altar smoldering as an offering to him. Turn away and face Jesus again. There’s going to be more to your story. Trust him with the grave of all you hold dear. He is worthy… and He is still at work.

You already know this story, but read it again before I tell you how it hit me.

John 11:37-46

“And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave cloths: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. ”

Think about that. All the people there along with Mary and Martha were believers in the fact that Jesus was a miracle worker. Of course He could maintain things and keep things going that were already good. No one disputed that Lazarus wouldn’t have died had Jesus come. Healing would have been certain if Jesus had been there. But surely even he could do nothing after a body has been buried and decomposing for a couple of days. All that could be done now is to give up and wait for that final promise and rest in that…. but as for now, things could ever be good again. Never.

I’ve felt that way so many times. I’m sure you have too. Many of you feeling it at a far deeper level than I have had to so far. When it would seem that all is lost and nothing is left but death and despair. Nothing but pain and heartache. Messy, fetal position on the bathroom floor, kind of pain.

But then Jesus

Jesus reminds Mary, Martha, and all those present that he holds the key to resurrection. No restraints. Nothing  is out of his capabilities… Never give up, just refocus. Not only can the situation still change even after all is lost according to all human reasoning, but if Jesus chooses to call life out it will be bigger, better, and more powerful than before.

Lazarus came out with all the evidence still attached of his previous circumstance. He didn’t walk out all cleaned up and in a new suit. He walked out of that tomb with evidence of the mess he was just in. Everyone knew what his state had been… then the focus was on the amazing thing Jesus did with his mess… not how Lazarus pulled up his bootstraps and got his act together and cleaned up the grave and got himself out of there looking better than before without anyone realizing how bad it really was. And Lazarus wasn’t the only one benefiting from how Jesus worked.  All eyes were on the proceedings and many were changed from the one life Jesus allowed to be taken and buried. What a glorious witness of what Jesus is capable of! When all human hope is gone, never give up hope!

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Many times things are just hard and life gets messy and stinky. We bury all the hard things and call them done deals. It’s over. There’s nothing anyone can do with decomposition and stench and lack of oxygen and blood for 4 days! And usually they stay buried and decomposing. But God gave us just enough examples of miracles throughout Scripture that He chose to perform that it makes me say, “Yeah, this looks super hopeless… but what about Lazarus? What if I wait patiently for God to show up and He calls life back into this tomorrow?! What if my situation is the next ‘lazarus’?” ……. It kind of makes me want to charge hell with a squirt gun!

Bring. It. On.

So you’re in a mess right now? Sin and stench, brokenness and strife is all your story right now??? What if God is just waiting 4 days before amazing everyone? If there is any hope given to the broken hearted and ungodly in Scripture, it is Lazarus’ resurrection. Somebody say THANK YOU JESUS!!!

We can ask in the midst of the hardship, how can this possibly bring glory to God? How can grave clothes and embalming, tombs and weeping possibly be the best choice to bring God glory??? But doesn’t Lazarus’ grave clothes and stink from death make the end result so much more glorious?! Can there be any doubt that this was a far more powerful story than the simple healing of a sick man?!

Wait patiently, friend…. God is still at work. All hope is not lost. He is good. He is worthy.

~Shannon

Learning Quietness

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”

Psalm 91 – I’ve memorized this chapter to help with my word for 2019. It was medicinal. It reminds me how much power I really have. Go read Psalm 91!! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

It has helped me as I have had my involvement taken away in a number of situations lately . When I can’t do what I’ve always done I am forced to learn to be quiet and trust the God that I read about in Scripture and live like I believe he is omniscient and omnipotent. I say I believe it. Now I have to live it.

It helps me remember my rightful place is being quiet and watching God work. I’m hiding under that wing, in a little nook while I watch through the feathers as God takes care of the situation. No input or help from me. He is God, He can handle it!

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” Psalm 91:4

I am being forced to learn to be quiet and trust that the same God that works in me and has tethered me to himself, can tether those I’m concerned about to himself as well. None of it is dependant on me.

“ A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at they right hand. But it shall not come nigh thee.” (Verse 7)

That’s a big deal that verse is proclaiming! That is a huge attribute of God being spoken of right there. We are nothing. God does it all. My job is to choose wisely where to hide and whose strength, wisdom, and ability to trust in. I watch ‘inactively’ and see what God does. No input from me. No action from me.

God calls his people to action. We are to obey… but sometimes we get thinking he’s accomplishing so much because of how good we are doing. We all have circumstances that God brings into our lives to show us where He is not looked to as sovereign God.

Every hard circumstance, every anxious feeling, every terrifying thought is a place to give God the preeminence there.

Colossians 1:18 “and he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

He already is preeminent. That’s not up for discussion. He just takes time here and there to bring us back to that reality.

Where there is a struggle to allow God to work on his own, without any interference from me, He most certainly does not have the preeminence yet.

Feelings of fear or anxiousness are not the issue. Those feelings may not go away after our humbling and submission for the simple reason that God is not safe. He may allow the hardest and lowest of circumstances. Have you read the Bible?! The possibility of horrible things happening is not promised away by submitting ourselves, therefore the sweat is still abundant. But the attempted control over which way it will go has been released.

Being troubled over what God calls you to is something that even Christ himself went through.

Matt 26:37 “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death;…”

That word ‘troubled’ is the strongest of 3 forms of depressed, anguished, and distressed, used in the Greek language. Jesus was heavily troubled and prayed to be delivered from his circumstance. He sweat blood. It was bad.

My point is that you are able to be distressed, even unto death, and not be in sin…. If you are not attempting to be in control of the hardship.

Jesus handled his troubling time exactly as he instructed his disciples in the gospels and the further direction we get from 1 Peter.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:6-11 “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care (anxieties) upon him, for he careth for you.”

‘Humble yourselves’ means to give God preeminence. Let him do whatever he wants and trust him with it. 

I notice a big difference in how anxiety and fear are handled by Jesus than other issues with us humans. Even if you want to call it a sin (which is only a sin if you are trying to control it from what I’ve seen and understood so far), Jesus clearly gives different instructions for being troubled or depressed. It’s not a ‘stop sinning!’ command he gives, but a comforting reminder to bring our fears to Him and trust Him with the results.

Christ took it to the Father and he knew he still needed to die. The stress of all he was going to endure didn’t disappear because he gained a godly perspective. All the difficulty was still there waiting for him. It was just a humbling moment where it was modelled for us how we will wrestle with God’s will vs. my will.

You know the humbling has taken place when you lay all your tools down and let God call the shots.

Think about this thought taken from Exodus when the Ten Commandments had just been given along with instructions from God how he wants sacrifices to take place…

Exodus 20:23-25 “And the Lord said…An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

Every place of my humbling is a place God ‘causes his name to be remembered. It’s a place you lay yourself down as the sacrifice on the altar and the only one that walks away is God. Your tools stay on the ground and the stones of that sacrifice stay raw with God’s perfect beauty. I don’t get to chisel the altar and make the stones fit like I want anymore. When I’m okay with how God’s going to have this end up looking I am done wrestling with God. I may still be piling the stones for that place of remembrance and preparing myself to climb on the altar so my will dies, but the chisels are profane to me. They call for MY control and MY glory – sickening to a truly repentant heart, arrogant to a humble soul disgusting to a willing servant.

Humbling. Sacrifice. Repentance. He shall be preeminent!

~Shannon

(Photos snatched from my daughter’s phone 😉)

Cinnamon Rolls: A recipe for their hearts

I was asked for our cinnamon roll recipe and I thought I’d share it here on the blog. But first, some food for thought from a lady who doesn’t enjoy cooking/baking.

Even if I dislike chopping, stirring, and mixing… even if I hate creating messes in what was once my tidy kitchen… even if moms throughout the world see the endless needy tummies as a source of never-ending tiredness, our attitude toward it all does a flip when we understand the significance of our labour.

Anne’s (my sister) Valentine’s Day Cinnamon Buns

Food.

It’s our chance to show care and offer comfort without using any words. Food creates an environment that lends itself to communication. When there is food ready in the kitchen there will be bodies relaxing and getting filled up. There will be smiles, laughing, and confidence built up in those people you’re raising.

If we keep our ministry of motherhood first and foremost in our minds we can use treats and comfort food to put our families at ease and find their souls relaxing too. Sure, I could open a pack of cheetos and throw it on the counter and call it a day. But I dare you to go all out make something (cheaper!!!) like muffins, put them in a basket while they’re warm and stick them on the counter or table with a butter dish beside it, and napkins. Your house will evolve into the best of hygge, and your kids will love life. When they ask if they can have 2 or 3, let them. Do it and take note of what happens.

Anne’s Cozy Tablescape

I’ve discovered it’s amazing the roll a plate of bacon, or a cheese tray, or a simple cinnamon bun can have in a day. I’ve been pondering it awhile now… and pondering it more as I prepare to share a little bit about it at our next homeschool monthly meeting. There is so much more to this idea! God is teaching me lots.

On that note, here is my mother’s awesome cinnamon roll recipe that has filled my and my sister’s tummies, and now our families, for many years.

Mrs.D’s Cinnamon Rolls

Mix 1 tsp Sugar in 1/2 Cup warm Water.
Add 1 Tbsp Yeast.
Let rise 10 minutes.

Meanwhile scald 1 1/2 Cups Milk
Add the following to milk and let butter melt:
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Butter

Add yeast mixture.
Add 5-7 Cups Flour, kneading after each addition.
Let Rise 1 hour.
Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick.
Butter dough all over and sprinkle generously with brown sugar.
Sprinkle cinnamon over brown sugar.
Roll up and slice 1/2-3/4 inch slices.
Let rise 1 hour
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
When cool pour glaze over.

Glaze:
2 Cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
Mix in enough milk to make runny icing.
(I like to add 1/4 Cup softened butter to icing and make it thick to spread on!)

Enjoy!

~Shannon

Some Favourites & My 2019 Word

So my Word for 2019 is Quiet.

I told my husband not to get too excited. Not the kind of quiet that keeps me from sharing my opinion, asking questions, or generally talking up a storm. That would take a super miraculous, end of times, kind of act of God 😅.

No, the ‘quiet’ I’m talking about is what Psalm 91 talks about. Be quiet and trust God to take care of things…. he is able. I need this word to be active and full force right now. So I’m working at memorizing this amazingly comforting chapter.

In December I had been thinking about how I wanted to jump out of the boat like Peter did and learn by doing. He headed into the crazy-hard, life threatening experience with just Jesus to look to and learned how capable God is of handling his storms and bringing quiet to a troubled soul…. then Nikki surprised me with the AMAZING piece of art by one of my favourite painters in the world!!! Gasp!

I now have a constant beautiful reminder of Gods sovereignty in my troubled waters, right here in my living room. I sneak a peek at it often each day. Glory.

I do not have Facebook but here is Holly’s Art page for you to check out. Let me know if the link doesn’t work! I’ll have to console myself if you buy all my favourites. 😉

What’s your word for 2019? Leave it in the comments!

Another new year kind of habit you can start is to become a bookworm. So often I meet up with a lady who says she’s not much of a reader. It makes me sad…. and frustrated for them. If you aren’t reading you are missing out! Be a reader! Be teachable! There are so many ideas to mull over and stretch your brain!

Fit To Burst is my latest read. FANTASTIC! My sister gave it to me for Christmas and it is a must read! 🙌🏻 Praise hands all around🙌🏻! You could finish it in an afternoon. Not a big book, but it is PACKED with goodness.

To help you on your way to become a lover of books here’s a link Charmin sent me just this morning that my husband and I are going to give a try.

2019 BOOK CHALLENGE

I’m following the directions and beginning with the light list and see how far I can get. 2018 was a challenging year for me and I only got through 13 books. 😔😔😔 But maybe this year will be different.

And last but not least. Please check out this AWESOME SERMON . I laughed out loud, wanted to wave some hankies, and contend for the faith a lot more by the time all 28 min of this message were complete!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share some favourite things like in this post every couple of weeks. So if you enjoy these links make sure you ‘follow’ this site to know when more are posted!

~Shannon

Christmas Hope, by Mrs.Dorey

(I asked my mom if I could encourage you all with a devotional she shared a number of years ago. Everyone LOVED her sessions at the conference and I wanted to pass on some more of the goodness from our very own Lois Dorey!)

IMG_5869                                                                (My sister Elaine & I)

December 25, 1995 was my sister Elaine’s first Christmas in heaven.  And I know it was the first time she was satisfied with the Christmas Season.  Unlike most of us, Elaine didn’t really like Christmas.  Not even after she had trusted Christ as her Saviour in her 50th year! She did not look forward to December.  Because Christmas brought pressure – choosing gifts for people, budgeting to buy those gifts, Christmas decorating and Christmas cooking to be worked into days already filled with everyday living and responsibilities, the pressure of other people’s expectations – real or imagined. And perhaps it had something to do with the guilt of not enjoying a time that the world AND the Church alike tell us is the “happiest time of the year”.

Most of us can relate to one degree or another with the pressures that my sister felt at Christmas. To most of us, yes, there are pressures, but they are tempered with great expectations of a warm, enjoyable, satisfying happy Christmas.

 We get that “Christmas feeling” and :
*Go Shopping!
*Decorate our mantles and Christmas tree
*Drape our garden shrubs with pretty lights
*Play our christmas CD’s
*We tell everyone “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”
*We look forward to a moving Candle light Service on Christmas Eve
*Enjoying the togetherness of family and friends
… Everything we need for a perfect Christmas.

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We are expected – and we want to – “emote” (my new word this year) – feel emotion at Christmas! And we know we’ll have the perfect Christmas when:
*We give just the right gift
*Get just the right gift
*Have that group hug feeling.
*And then crawl into bed Christmas night with our tummies full, and say Christmas was everything and more than we expected.  I am totally satisfied!!!
Really?  Is that True?

I had a light bulb moment this Fall. I have always followed what the world tells us Christmas should be and how it can satisfy us.  Do it right and you will be satisfied.  Like the commercial says – send or receive the right Hallmark card and you will make Christmas complete. I have found that is not true. And I suspect most people would agree.  Why is that not true!  Why do people look forward to and enjoy Christmas festivites each year expecting to be satisfied  and yet come away, not quite full.
Perhaps we search for and find that which we search for – namely satisfaction – has eluded us yet again because – Jesus – did  – not – come – to – SATISFY – US!  Jesus came to satisfy a holy, righteous, omnipotent God.

I was talking to a friend just last week who had recently returned from an Open Doors conference in Thailand.  While there she and her husband had an opportunity to spend a few hours with some Christians who were in hiding.  If they were discovered they would be executed.  If these men believed that Jesus had come to satisfy them– to give them contentment, safety,  festive times with family and friends, prosperity or at least a roof over their heads and decent food on the table, they would be most miserable Christians.  Because they have none of those things and cannot look forward to having them.

They, like thousands of Christians in many parts of the world,  have suffered intense persecution, been imprisoned for years, tortured and now live in hiding , unable to be at home, ever, with wives and children and family. They will not gather around a bright Christmas tree with family and friends.  They won’t exchange gifts or sit down to a sumptuous turkey dinner served on fine China. They won’t experience that vague feeling of dissatisfaction with the Season. Because they don’t expect it in the first place! They know that Jesus didn’t come to earth that first Christmas to give men satisfaction. He came to give men hope.

A holy, righteous God could not and would not allow even 1 man, 1 woman or 1 child to enter heaven because of sin – there is sin in everyone! God’s Word tells us “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “The wages of Sin is death…”
Mankind had no hope. The best we could do is:
*Live a few years on this earth
*Try to live a good life and
*Be a good person
*Try to obey the 10 Commandments
*Try our best
and reason that, compared to some others, I’m not that bad!
BUT that’s just not good enough.  Because the standard is not each other. The standard is God – Perfection  –  Of which we all fall short!!!!
Jesus Christ is the only one Who does not fall short.  He is perfect. Because He is God come to earth in the flesh.

When Jesus Christ was born that 1st Christmas He was fully God and fully Man. There was not a warm and fuzzy plan for His life.  The plan had been laid down before the foundation of the world that 33 years after that baby, Jesus Christ – God Himself -, was born He would die,  He would shed His perfect blood, He would sacrifice Himself, to satisfy, not us, but the righteous judgment and holy wrath of Almighty God. And, therefore,  give mankind hope– the divine promise of eternal life in heaven for all who put their faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Our sin had to be paid for – a debt no man could pay, so God paid it Himself. 1Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…”

Those Christians in Thailand knew that.  They don’t have satisfaction now nor do they expect it.  That’s OK.  They have something better for now.  They have HOPE.  The same hope that you have if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour and are born again by the Spirit of God.  The same hope that my sister had for the last 7 years of her life here on earth.  Colossians 1:5 “for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel”.

As my sister’s health deteriorated after having been diagnosed with cancer she became increasingly dissatisfied and disinterested with those things around her that had held her attention for so many years and she became increasingly expectant of the life that awaited her on the other side.  Her HOPE!

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Shortly after her 57th birthday, just weeks before her last Christmas here, we were sitting wrapped up in blankets talking about life, death and what she was looking forward to in heaven. I was reminded of a verse from the Psalms that I had shared with her a short time before. Psalm 17:15 -“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness;  I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness.”

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On January 16, 1995, my sister, Elaine, awoke – completely satisfied. Since then, Elaine has spent these many Christmases with her Saviour, the One who’s birth we are celebrating today!  Years of total satisfaction with an eternity to look forward to!!!  Now that’s a reason to celebrate!!!

So this year as I do all those special things that make the Season merry, it  may be my first Christmas that I will not be even a little disappointed at not being completely satisfied and fulfilled.   I know that’s coming later.

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This year,  more than ever, I will be rejoicing in the Hope that is mine because the baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago was God the Son coming to this earth to pay the price for my sin on the cross of Calvary. I have HOPE!!

I read a haunting poem many years ago that comes to mind when I think of our Christmas celebrations….

What was Mary dreaming
As the infant Jesus lay
Snuggled close beside her
In the warm and fragrant hay
Did she see her Son as Saviour
Pointing all men towards the Light
That would light the path for many
As the star did that dark night.

Could she hear the loud Hosannahs
As they hailed Him on His way
Was her young heart filled with rapture
at her vision Did she pray
As all Mothers will for blessings
On her tiny baby son
While cattle lowed and Joseph
Watched O’er this new born One.

Awe-struck visitors departed
Till the family was alone
Waiting out the night together
Did she see Him on a throne
King of Kings & Lord of Glory
Or did something warn of loss
Did she glimpse amid the shadows
The faint outline of a cross.
(author unknown)

The Manger was Hope’s beginning with a Baby’s cry.
The Cross was Hope’s completion with a Saviour’s cry “It is finished”.
“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corin. 9:15)

Have you received the Gift?
Do you have HOPE? – the divine promise of eternal life in Heaven when your life here has ended? The Gift is offered to everyone but not everyone will own it!
Only those men, women, boys and girls who put their faith and trust in the saving power of the shed blood of the crucified Saviour – the Christmas Baby – can receive the gift:  HOPE – an eternity of satisfaction in the presence of the living God!

~ Mrs.Dorey

One Word for 2019

It changed entire years when I started. It wasn’t like those New Year’s resolutions that you get depressed about because you fail almost as quickly as you start. This is totally different.

Some blog, somewhere long ago, gave the idea to choose a word/theme to work on for the new year in place of setting resolutions. You have a whole 365 days to learn, mull over, make progress in your word. It changed my life!

My first year with this idea I think I chose the word ‘Prepare’.  I was tired of always feeling under the gun, like I would be late, not have enough food, not have that gift ready, etc. So I began, day by day, focusing on preparation for the day ahead. I was learning to think of what would be expected of me in the next 24 hours and what I could do to best take control of my domain. I didn’t set a resolution of having every single thing prepared for every single day, or I would have felt defeated within a very short time. Instead I tweaked how I did things each day as I progressed a little at a time and created new habits both in thought and action that made my life go more smoothly as the year progressed. I learned so much without being overwhelmed! And many of the lessons I learned that year while caring for my home and family are now implemented to prepare for our conferences each fall!

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In other years the words I’ve chosen have been Simplify, Organize, Family, Surrender…. And every single one has been used by God to teach me much throughout the 12 months I’m focused on it.

My 2018 word has been Hearts. The word Hearts has been written on my little Dollar Store chalkboard sign in my kitchen since January 1st of this year. A constant reminder that all day every day I am preparing for, molding, feeding, reprimanding, cleaning for, spending time with, HEARTS.

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When my door bell rings I am meeting another heart that has just as many emotions and worldly cares as I do. When my child comes down the stairs in the morning and sits at the counter with bedhead and asks what’s for breakfast, I am looking at a fragile being that I can make or break with how I respond and speak. I’m interacting with hearts all day, every day.

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A number of times I’d catch a glimpse of my Heart sign and have immediate twinges of guilt because I had forgotten my important word and knew I had failed much. I was also thankful for the visual right there to remind me before I lost too much time. God is gracious and I have learned much this year about myself and God has been kind and not allowed me to lose my mind as I waited up many late nights for my ‘hearts’ to return home after evenings of hockey games, campfires, and random fun times with friends. This past weekend I automatically thought of all the Hearts involved as I waded through the mounds of boots and jackets and toys and food scraps from my house full of family and friends saying goodbye to some special people who will be moving soon.

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Hearts… I’ve been given a new focus for the people in my world this year. I see them differently. I have been humbled, given courage from, learned to care deeply for, and connected on a whole new level with the hearts in my world.

As you can tell from our pictures we often have a houseful. We love having our family and friends around us. I have had to let my dreams of a Pinterest style home go, and enjoy the relationships with all my people. The words that I’ve chosen over the years have all lended themselves to this same conviction that our life is about relationships. When I chose ‘Simplify’, I realized I was simplifying so that we could enjoy the right things, not the extras that weren’t eternal. When I chose ‘Organize’, life for all my people became easier and more enjoyable and we were able to include more relationships into our days. When the word was ‘Family’, I learned to focus more on my innermost circle because its super easy for me to get caught up in all the action going on around me. The ‘Surrender’ year taught me that I was selfish and need to let go of a lot of my own wishes because there were others I live with all day every day that had wishes, needs, and dreams too.

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I can’t even hope to pretend that I’ve mastered any of those areas. But since that wasn’t the point, learning was, I can walk away from those years thankful and know that I’ve grown and made some progress.

So, since this simple practice has changed my life in a bigger way than I ever expected, I want to share the idea with you. Take the month of December to think about your word for 2019. Ask God if He’s got a word already picked out for you. 😉

I’d love to know what word you decide to conquer!!!

~Shannon

A Giveaway!!

During my mother’s session, Keeper of My Heart: How God Transformed My Home, she mentioned a book that helped her tremendously as a brand new christian and homemaker. The session is needed very much in today’s world and is worth another listen! Somehow the book that was going to be a prize, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund, was lost in all the conference busyness. I decided it would be fun to have a blog giveaway so that you still have a chance to win a copy.IMG_5252

There are two copies to win and I’ll mail them (or hand deliver if you live close enough) to each winner. Contest opens today, Tuesday, November 13th and closes Wednesday, November 21st at midnight. I’ll be picking the winning names out of a hat here at home, all fancy-like. Watch for the winners to be announced on November 22nd!

 HOW TO ENTER TO WIN:
Just write a comment on this post about this year’s  2018 Home & Vision Conference, whether you were there in person or listened in online afterward! If you haven’t listened in yet, check out the 2018 Sessions here and then you can try for the prize. 

~Shannon

2018 Printable Downloads

Very pleased to finally be able to share the art prints that were mentioned at the conference. Sarah Meadows created both of them for me and I am so thankful for her talent and willingness to help her poor aunt out! She said to share them with you all free of charge.

Our theme verse this year for conference helps us to remember constantly to reevaluate where each choice is taking us every day. Ponder the path of your feet and make sure you aren’t losing focus! Let this  beautiful printable be an encouragement to you through your days.

Click HERE to download  Psalm 119:59 art print!

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And another somewhat sarcastic printable for those kindred spirits out there who like to say it like it is. In my first conference session I shared about how important it was to create a Bible addiction and that Sarah had made me a pretty little print for Christmas last year. Now it’s all yours, too!                                                                                                    We say it jokingly around here, but there is truth in jest. 😉

Click HERE to download Read Your Bible art print!

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~Shannon