Would you like some transparency?
I have a box of snotty tissues full for you.
I’m breaking. Breaking in a snot won’t stop, “God what is wrong with me?!” – breaking kind of way.
We don’t talk about breaking. We especially don’t talk about breaking for those leading. Leaders don’t break, right? Well, if that is a title or role or responsibility assigned to me, I’m going to be real and open and authentic and raw, we break – and I won’t pretend or fake.
There is a heavy on my heart and mind, coming from all sides. I’m grateful for the rest I found in January, because if I weren’t nestled into the heart of the Father right now, oh it would be worse.
My heart is breaking for the church.
My heart is breaking for what goes on between brothers and sister in the church.
My heart is breaking for the deceived.
My heart is breaking for the truth to be seen, heard and to reign.
My heart is breaking for the soul comfortable with malicious behavior and acts towards others.
My heart is breaking for the children who will never get to take a breath and live their calling for the pleasure of our King.
My heart is breaking.
My heart is breaking for wives whose husbands are unable or unwilling to love them the way Christ would.
My heart is breaking for men unable to receive FULLY the love of God and be led, to lead.
My heart is breaking for every child whose burden became so big; they chose to end their lives.
My heart is breaking for all the parents who miss their children so badly words are ununtterable and tears are the soft whispers many won’t hear, except the Father.
My heart is breaking for the families whose presence is taken for granted and screens and scrolling and schedules replace genuine time together.
My heart is breaking.
My heart is breaking for the woman, young and old, desperately trying to cover up the open wounds or scars of emotional and physical abuse, deception, ridicule; being called stupid or fat or dumb; rejection or promiscuity; addiction to food or binging or starving, approval, drugs, alcohol; and decisions made from lack of trust fueled by self-reliance, that led or is leading only to heartache. I have the same scars.
My heart is breaking for every woman living with the pain and disappointment of divorce.
My heart is breaking for every woman living with the loss of a husband passed too soon.
My heart is breaking for every woman living with the loss of a parent or loved one.
My heart is breaking for every woman fighting some debilitating disease – seen and unseen.
My heart is breaking for every woman feeling alone, lost, unseen, unheard and uncared for – I care.
My heart is breaking for every woman sleeping in a jail cell – physical or mental – I’ve slept there too; freedom can be had.
My heart is breaking.
My heart is breaking because there are folks around the world living without clean water and food.
My heart is breaking because there are people living without health care for their wounds.
My heart is breaking because there are souls without much who will give richly out of their poverty.
My heart is breaking because I have touched the faces of babies and elderly in the worst of places, left to be unloved, waiting to die.
My heart is breaking.
My heart is breaking because my oldest will be leaving soon, and the youngest will follow not long after.
My heart is breaking because the days were long, but the years were shorter, and now here we are – asking, “Where did the time go?”
My heart is breaking because I know, and I can’t get them back.
My heart is breaking because I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT I KNOW NOW! God I wish I would have known – twenty years ago! I wish I would have been equipped with the knowledge of what only learning the “hard way” in the wilderness and fire has taught me.
My heart is breaking because many a child will grow up knowing and choose to toss the truth aside.
My heart is breaking because many a parent will teach with their lips, but not live a life aligned.
My heart is breaking because families fall apart seemingly without desire to reconcile.
My heart is breaking because this is only a glimpse of what God sees.
And it breaks me.
My heart is breaking, because there is a gift, an answer, many won’t receive.
Holy Spirit – Healer, Comforter, Teacher, Truth, Life and LOVE.
My heart, while breaking, KNOWS there is healing; healing coming from the anointed ointment of the presence of the Spirit of the living God, welcomed and free to come in and mend, heal and sooth like a cool salve.
And I am hopeful. I am hopeful because like with Nehemiah, the weeping and breaking leads to burden which leads to fasting and prayer which leads to building – building as He leads and provides and makes so.
Weeping endures for a moment (or maybe days), but joy is sure to come in the morning! Such joy will lead to Holy Spirit building in a way where no enemy from hell can stop the plans of a living God fixed on saving every soul through the blood of Jesus Christ.
I pray Holy Spirit in all His manifestations is welcome in our lives, healing is received on the other side of breaking, and joy unspeakable is manifested in a way only Jesus can create!
I love the people in my community – especially women who have wrestled, or are wrestling, with worth and feeling discouraged or unsupported. Trust me when I say – YOU ARE WORTH BEING LOVED BY GOD – and He finds your love worthy. You are also worth being supported and encouraged by others, regardless of where you are on your journey.
Now that you know who I am, here’s a little about what I do.
In day job one, I do orthopedic product design and have for nearly nineteen years. That is so weird to type! I honestly don’t feel like it’s possible for that much time to have gone by. Before that, I was a graphic designer for a sign company. Before that, I loved creating art, school and learning – I still love art and learning.
In day job two, I do internal digital communication efforts for medical missions within the organization I also design and develop product for. It is such a blessing to connect with patients, write their stories, and communicate testimonies of the underserved in a variety of ways. This role is a direct result of my obedience in the ministry God has raised up in my life the past four years.
In addition to my marriage and children, God has called me to the Rise Up ministry: to meet women where they are on their faith journey to becoming whole (spirit, soul, body), teach, encourage and facilitate healing along the way. I take great joy in meeting with our local community of gals in person on a weekly basis. I have also been blessed by the recent interest for monthly gatherings. Of course, I am grateful for where both began, online via blog and social media.
With the online portion of the ministry you, and women like you around the world, can be encouraged, equipped and empowered with a variety of resources. You may enjoy the Shanon Roberts Podcast, both on Stitcher and iTunes. You may also enjoy or prefer the YouTube channel. Or, you might like to complete one of the two online devotions found on YouVersion’s Bible App: Courageous Humility and 12 Days of Thanksgiving. I have also been honored to share as a Christian speaker at a few events. Finally, you might like a copy of one of the eight self-published books made available via hardcopy or Kindle, on Amazon.
Heads up! I know my weaknesses and you might appreciate knowing them too. My grammar is not the best. I talk fast, stammer and use my hands A LOT when I’m REALLY fired up with God’s thoughts and heart. I have had a pretty intense walk with God, but I haven’t been to seminary and have no degree (although I am now an ordained minister – TOTALLY a God thing!). I sometimes have to cease an activity I thought was God, in order to do what He actually needs me to. Because I’m human, I continue to learn to discern His voice. When it is Him, He provides the way – when it isn’t Him, I stress and strive.
I pray you are blessed in some way by the ministry and content here (regardless of comma placement and the occasional misspellings ;) ) and I look forward to meeting you where you are. God is SO GOOD. Always!
PS – if you are great at grammar and are led to help a sister out, I would love to hear from you :D
January 21st. We are already twenty-one days into the new year. I pray it has been an abundant blessing to you already!
The first few weeks of the year for me has been blessings mixed with expected challenges.
January 1st was set aside to embark on the year with prayer, thanksgiving and a unity in spirit of where God would like to go this year.
January 3rd my health made its way to the front line – again. However, resolve to walk with God closely wherever He leads moved me to not become distracted.
January 4th joined in unity with others to pray for our community and future opportunities to unite around the purpose of prayer and worship. God reinforced He is MOVING!
January 5th I was caught in the whirlwind of a battle not mine to fight, a place where healing was prayed to be the outcome. It became a moment for Him to step in, I to intercede, for the sake of health in His Body.
January 6th I could not ignore it any longer. God needed me to have a conversation; a difficult, but necessary heart to heart. My voice trembled, the tears flowed, but so did compassion and healing! Oh give praises to the King of My Heart!
January 7th God surprises me with an opportunity to hang out with a dear Sister in Christ AND connect with other creative, like-minded women! What a GOOD GOD WE LOVE!
January 9th I find myself on the bathroom floor during my break at work, crying to God for others. Arrested hearts know no place unacceptable to intercede when He calls them to it.
January 11th Travel to Tennessee with a new friend, better said Sister in Christ – God’s presence accompanying us the entire way; my how time flies when Jesus is at the center. The Lord continued to speak to my heart and share His vision for what’s to come. It. Is. Exciting.
January 14th & 15th Knocked on my butt. Just like the enemy, he seemed to sweep in and ATTEMPT to steal from me the deposits of God in my soul. No doubt, sabotage was on his mind, as the January Beyond event was just a couple days away. BUT GOD! He shared very clearly with me the heart of the message for the gathering, one that stopped me in my tracks and reinforced the necessity for each and every one of us to ENSURE we are reading and hearing the Word of God.
January 16th it’s time to GO. I had this sense before the beginning of the year. However, a meeting at work confirmed, I will in fact be going. Serving others, sharing stories, and engaging many for the purpose of providing care to the underserved all around the world. That evening? Confirmation among others His vision in our “corner” of the world. Woot woot! Go God!
January 17th Plans and preparation for a medical mission meeting coupled with plans and preparation for the January Beyond gathering? God, thank You for moving through and entrusting with what matters to YOU!
January 18th God near instantly provided answered prayer to the concerns of several. Clearly pointing to His Word the TRUTH and heart of the matter. Again, PRAYER, attention and sensitivity to His Spirit the components to ensuring moving forward would be honoring to Him and loving towards others.
January 19th School of His Presence conference enthralls me with the Lord’s heart. Confirmation after confirmation of what the Lord has placed on my heart to share with others, and encourage them to pursue in THEIR lives. Sheer giddiness at the thought of a GREAT AND MIGHTY GOD.
January 20th Nearing the end of a committed season of fasting, God calls me into the Secret Place. The place where He shares His heart, after confirming – AGAIN – through my pastor at Times Square Church, His presence is where we can be with Him, and He makes us like Him. The place He desires each and every one of us long to be.
Today? Today I continue to be amazed at how He pours out His love and somehow causes us to only see His vision on the horizon. Though there may be mountains and challenges designed to distract us, He prepares us to move beyond them, call them to move, RISE above them, and GO. He is a way maker to the soul willing to make a way for Him – in all places, seasons and circumstances.
Friend, if this is just the first twenty-one days of the year, can you imagine what the next 344 will be like?! I can try, but I have a sense what He is going to do is FAR BEYOND ANYTHING I CAN IMAGINE OR THINK POSSIBLE! My prayer is you see He has this for YOU as well.
I was obsessed with being thinner because I had so many folks telling me how big I was, fat, my stretch marks disgusting and if I could get paid to eat I would, because I loved food.
Words spoken led to my mental illness?
Who knows? I don't care.
I stand here today, seven months from forty, knowing WHY I see who I see, although in my mind I'm not her.
In my mind, I'm someone strong. I've chosen to not fixate and obsess on a number, be it weight, BMI, body fat percentage or the like. I've chosen not to measure my worth by the size of my pants. I've chosen not to ground my identity in my appearance.
Rather, I've chosen God. I chose to fixate on the countless number of Scripture telling me I am God's and who HE says I am. I have chosen to measure my worth according to what His written and spoken word says about me. I have decided my only identity is found in Him.
According to Him, I am His beloved. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a teacher of His Word. I am an encourager to others. I am a facilitator of healing that flows from Him. In Him, I am light and love. My weight, size and shape do not impact who He says I am.
166 lbs 8 oz. The heaviest I have been in years. My weight had to be captured when today's four month post surgery lumpectomy (which resulted in an ever present hematoma needing follow-up) revealed a couple more spots in need of assessment. Gosh!! Did it HAVE to be right after Christmas break?! I'm fluffy people ;)
Have I let myself go? No, I've let God. I have allowed Him to firmly root me in love, His Word, and His truths.
Do I advocate being at an unhealthy, disease fostering, weight? No. I advocate holistic health in spirit, soul and body. I advocate being a physically healthy vessel of God, able to serve, go and minister wherever He may call one to go, at any capacity He may call to do so.
Conversations with the Lord lately have revealed a release to again become more healthy (beyond my weight and these lumps, I am fit as a fiddle!), build muscle again, lean down again, return to an optimal BMI and body fat percentage (for me), again.
He has spoken to my heart, experimenting with Beyond and allowing others to witness my transformation will support the theory: balancing the seven areas DOES reflect Christ - causing others to SEE His transformative power, be amazed and place their trust in Him as well! Also, with a couple medical mission trips on the horizon, He needs me to be physically well and fit, in order to serve others well.
For now? One day, one step at a time. The next step is ensuring my body is healthy and without disease. After that, the Lord will continue to lead me in the areas of nutrition, fitness and rest, while maintaining my relationship with Him and His call on my life as first priority.
Ladies, you are WHO GOD SAYS YOU ARE. Be encouraged to get into His Word and see what He has to say about you and His love for you. Let your self go and LET GOD.
I keep hearing this and similar phrases…
I know you’re busy… I know you have so much going on… I don’t want to take your time… I don’t want to overwhelm you… I know you have a lot… Coming from people I love and care for deeply.
I want you to know my heart. Whenever I share ALL that God is doing, it is NEVER to communicate that I am busy. It is simply to communicate what He CAN do through a willing vessel.
Have I been battling and fighting? Yes. I have. The enemy has his knickers in a knot and I sense him breathing down my back more than I like. But guess what? That is exactly where he belongs, behind me!
I recently went through an intense several days; thoughts and comments coming at me from all directions, tempting me to throw in the towel – in more ways than one. But it wasn’t because I am too “busy”. It is because powers and principalities in the unseen realm were raging, and I was the target.
My tribe, whom I love dearly, prayed for me. Some, God tapped directly on the shoulder, and they called others to intercede. I needed it. I needed to be fought for, because I was weak and stumbling. This isn’t new. This happens. Simply read Nehemiah 4:18-20 for a great example.
As one called by God to lead, there is a wrestling and discerning on what to share, and what not to share, when it comes to personal challenges. My conviction? I have to communicate my weaknesses. I have to communicate my struggles – past and present. Otherwise, you and any other woman reading this, might inaccurately conclude I am sharing from an “ivory tower”. A tower where I couldn’t possibly relate to the depths of your pain, places of shame, wore torn battle fields, and struggles.
I DO relate. I relate because those are the places I come from. Those are the places I find myself somedays now, as well.
I recently saw a post that suggested busy is an acronym for “Being Under Satan’s Yoke”. Woah. That will stop you and challenge your thoughts. Won’t it? Doesn’t that seem a little dramatic and excessive?
It might be. However, consider what Hebrews 4:11 states, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Our striving should be to enter the REST IN JESUS.
Does this mean I was striving outside Jesus? I don’t believe so. Matthew 28:19-20 instructs us to Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
What then does this rest mean, then? With where I find myself today, I take it to mean rest in Jesus Christ, allowing His Holy Spirit to flow through our mind, will and emotions, so God’s will comes to pass on earth as in Heaven, and Matthew 28:19-20 is lived out.
When I felt heavy, when I felt burdened, when I was struggling, it was not because I was stressed, overwhelmed or because I had too much going on. It was no doubt because of what God was ABOUT to do the week ahead…
RESTING IN JESUS, LIVING OUT THE GREAT COMMISSION, AS HOLY SPIRIT LEADS. You can bet the enemy was throwing a tantrum.
The Lord’s yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give is light, we read in Matthew 11:30 – and this is exactly how I felt resting in His promises and divine appointments – AFTER the battle – a battle and spirit of heaviness that could never come from God.
You, my friend, are in my life for a reason. You will never be viewed as a burden, stressor or distraction. As I shared with a sweet friend on the phone last night just before our weekly gathering, whomever is right before me, is right where God needs me to be.
He will cause us to rest and balance, when we ask Him to. He will also fight our battles when the war is raging.
Praise God, He is good and His faithful love and mercies endure FOREVER! Where do I even begin? This morning I am rejoicing!
I couldn’t go to sleep last night. I tossed and turned. The faces in the room, the voices in unison around the reckless love of God, I standing deeply rooted in who I am and who God has made ME to be – it’s nothing short of a miracle, one that has been progressive and began six years ago today.
Six years ago today, I found myself on the bathroom floor in my place of employment – convinced it was my time to die. Convinced I would never see my then eleven and eight year old daughters again. I was convinced I had failed them and was not leaving behind the best for them.
My shirt was up and off, men and women gathered around me hooking things up to my body, while I lay on the floor asking for my brother to come in and pray with me before I left. Remember, I was at work. It was quite possibly the most horrific experience in my life. But it was a wake-up call.
The emergency room staff assured me I was fine. I was possibly stressed from the holidays, although it was noticed my heart rate was erratic and my potassium levels extremely low. The anti-convulsion medicine the emergency responders had given me seemed to calm me on the way to the ER. However, in the hospital it began again. My husband by my side, I begged him to call my former Pastor’s wife – my spiritual mother – SHE could pray me through this! Instead, I received another drug, rolled out to the car in a wheel chair, and crashed until late evening.
These episodes continued on for DAYS after. Christmas came and I wondered if I would get through. I was grateful to have another Christmas with my family, and grateful God seemed to be giving me more time. I was told I was anxious and needed to relax, quit worrying. I believe I was even diagnosed with panic disorder. Huh? I had a lot going on in my life, but how in the world can your mind cause your body to respond in such an intensely terrifying way? I wasn’t convinced, but what followed was text book.
Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere, and without warning. You may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes.
This is exactly what happened. I couldn’t work for months. I didn’t go anywhere without my husband. I rarely drove my kiddos anywhere. I rarely did a thing. Once I returned to work, I had to take medication just to get there and back. This lasted the entire year. However, regardless of what I may have thought at the time, my circumstances were not indicative of the future before me. Here’s a little rundown of what has come to fruition since…
All of 2013 All I could seem to do was sit on the couch and watch the world through Facebook and Pinterest, growing a little angry with God, wondering if this was what my life was going to end like.
By 2014 the episodes had dwindled to one a month or so, anxiety medication, and other prescriptions seemed to make things worse. I kept sensing I needed to quit all medications and focus on Scripture, clean eating, and exercise. With my doctor’s approval, I did. Live Eat Sweat was born in the fall.
2015 I focused on fitness and my marriage. We had separated twice over the course of a couple years. Yes, as a Christian, Jesus loving, woman. God had to make it clear to me divorce was not to be in my vocabulary. We completed two Spartan races together, the sprint and super, he completed the Beast. That fall, I hosted the first LES 45 challenge, where we focused on Scripture, Whole30 foods, and exercise.
2016 I hosted a second and third challenge, became connected with medical missions at work, and began to think about LEGACY – and the imprint I sensed God was calling me to leave with my family and community. Rise Up! Devotions was composed; initially for our daughters and then for other women with the same stirring in their heart.
2017 Self-published five books (with the help of an amazing assistant), supported three mission trips in Dominican Republic and Guatemala, prayed for our community weekly for six weeks leading up to October 9th where I hosted a prayer event, became a Bible app contributor, invited to be a part of an art exhibit with Jesus at the center, and formulated the Rise Up Commitment. All of which were steps of faith and saying YES to the Lord’s leading.
2018 This year I have hosted two Rise Up Commitments (where thirty-six women’s lives have been impacted), launched a podcast, self-published three more books, and have been given opportunities to apply the skill set learned in this ministry, in my career in orthopedics and medical missions. Medical missions that will next year likely take me to Guatemala, Honduras and possibly Ecuador.
Last night, I stood in a room with thirty-seven women, twenty-six of which I had never met or connected with before. We worshiped in a coffee house in our community, and belted Reckless Love like we just didn’t care – and we didn’t – there was a sense God was there with us!
I will share with you what I shared with the amazing group of women last night. This post and testimony is NOT a way to pat myself on my back – at all. This testimony serves a few purposes:
1. Give GOD ALL THE GLORY for taking this apparently panic riddled woman whose only future appeared to be rotating sides of the couch, to where He has me today – firmly rooted in Jesus Christ, focusing less on self, sharing with you, and ministering to others. Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
AND PLACE YOUR TRUST IN THE LORD! This is my prayer; this is my heart’s desire! To be a conduit that connects YOU to every last ounce of God’s goodness, so you too can live freely in His love for you, going beyond where you find yourself today.
If fear, anxiety, panic, worry, or apprehension has taken over your life - there is FREEDOM to be found in Jesus! His perfect love CASTS OUT ALL FEAR and will send you places you never knew you were meant to go!!
If at this very moment, you find yourself without Jesus Christ in your life – will you consider reaching out and allowing me to pray with you? I know God has an amazing future for you if you will simply take one step towards Him, and allow Jesus in.
If you’re reading this and you have been wandering, feeling lost, hurt and broken with Jesus as Savior, will you also reach out and allow me to pray for you? I know God is eager to rush right to you, give you direction, purpose and hope, while healing your wounds and broken heart, all to lead you into ALL the promises He has for you.
If you’re reading this and Jesus is both your Savior AND Lord, but you’re feeling drained and dry due to religion, will you reach out? I know Jesus desires to restore love and life to your relationship with Him.
If you’re reading this and you’re GOOD, praise God! I want to encourage you to continue to press in and press on to an EVEN GREATER MEASURE of the Lord’s goodness! There are STILL promises He has for you that far surpass what your natural mind is able to imagine.
Finally, if you are not connected with a community where you are challenged and encouraged to grow and be transformed, I pray God lead you right where you need to be so YOU can go BEYOND in YOUR faith journey to becoming whole in spirit, soul and body – all to reflect JESUS to the world around you.
A community of other women is priceless in this world. A community of PRAYING, SUPPORTIVE, ENCOURAGING WOMEN with Christ at the center, is divine – and necessary to walk out our faith in this life.
It was a Sunday evening just over two years ago when I received the call.
“Could you please pray? It has been reported one of the students at the middle school took his life.”
He was a middle schooler in our community. Bright eyed, enjoyed sports and loved going to his youth group.
I committed to prayer. My daughters joined me on the bed in my bedroom and we began to pray. I began to weep. I couldn’t imagine.
As Monday rolled around, I was still in shock. If I was in shock, how was Payton’s mother, Ann, feeling? I cannot imagine. She began to lay heavy on my heart. I continued to pray.
Wednesday morning, I made my way to the middle school for the weekly Campus Life meeting. The atmosphere was somber as class and team mates rolled in, heavy with the weight of their emotions, questions and feelings. The young men seemed softer, the young girls in disbelief.
We broke out into our small groups. The girls cried. I asked the grace of God to help me comfort.
As the day went on I had Owen, Payton’s younger brother, Ann, the middle schoolers, and our entire community on my mind. I was led to go to the heart of our county and lift everyone up in prayer. A couple girlfriends, their kiddos, my kiddos and myself joined on the lawn and prayed for Ann, Owen and our community. We prayed for comfort for all wrestling with the pain and hurt.
As the viewing rolled around, my heart was tugged to go and give Ann a hug. Even though I didn’t know her all that well, this mamma had to put her arms around another mamma experiencing the unthinkable. I went. I sat with other women pouring into her. We left.
Life went on. People found their new “normal”. The kids and community healed. The report seemed to change. But it didn’t matter. A young man full of light and love had lost his life and there was a mother and younger brother, as well as a father and others experiencing the void of his presence.
Fast forward one year and a couple months later, to December 2017. Ann wanted to be a part of a small group I was encouraging. You know that moment where you KNOW that you KNOW God simply needs you to say "yes"? I had that moment. There was no doubt, no question. God had moved others and myself to pray and intercede on her behalf. He was moving others and myself to minister and encourage her.
Throughout the first few months of this year, our small women’s group witnessed Ann transform right before our very eyes. She went from a woman sometimes unable to do anything but cry and lament the loss of her son, to, in her own words, “Have HOPE again.” I share this not to pat anyone on the back, but to GIVE GOD THE GLORY for the deep healing work He did in her life through a loving and praying community.
Just around the corner was an enemy ready to steal, kill and destroy the hope she had laid hold of. Bit by bit, life became overwhelming again, the memories of Payton she would never create were vivid, the sadness paralyzing. Slowly she began to disconnect and things began to slip.
One evening in late summer, she and I went for a walk around the high school. She shared she was tired of being under the dark cloud again, and ready for change. With the fall women’s group just ahead, I invited her to once again connect with us. She did.
She came the first night with a restored joy and glimmer in her eye. She was not the same woman who sat before me earlier this year. SHE had become a conduit of hope to others, finding herself one evening going between hospital rooms of two friends in need. God had TRULY transformed her mourning into JOY. She continued, week after week, sharing, opening up – expressing the deep wounds and pains related to the loss of Payton. She shared her hope of being able to minister to others.
This evening, the dark cloud is back and appears darker, blacker, thicker and heavier than ever. She will tell you the truth, she let things slip and she feels horrible for it. She saw, even experienced, hope again. But the enemy was very crafty at causing her to believe things will never be better - she shouldn't have hoped. Hope is again gone.
For those of you reading, I ask you two things. First, please pray fervently for Ann and Owen’s future. I believe God has a glory on the other side of this unthinkable pain and heartache. Second, consider donating to help bring financial relief during the Christmas season – A SEASON TO LOVE even more those around us than we do all year long.
You can can donate via Go Fund Me, by CLICKING HERE.
Words shared from the “Celebrating Payton” event, October 2, 2018:
Payton found join in Christ's love, giving to others and making people smile. We all remember him for his generosity, kindness, and love for Christ. His life made an impact and spread a ripple that can still be seen. Payton's true legacy will come from the ripples of our lives and the choices to serve. The effects of your simple acts will provide a light and positive impact in our world.
This blog and related fundraiser have been created with permission from Ann. If you would like to send your love, prayers, and good vibes, feel free to comment.
“What would you like for Christmas?”
The question my husband asks me every year. Every year I respond with something along the lines of, “World peace, an end to hunger, perfect family nights, and the kiddos to be little again.”
A girl can dream. Right?
I wanted to give him something solid, but I have never been one to focus on material items (although I DO appreciate them!) as my love language. I prefer quality time, notes, experiences and a nice massage. Easy. Right? For him, it’s just easier if he can buy me something. You see the struggle?
A couple rocky weeks together and a few challenging discussions, I knew we really needed to be focused on one another, our marriage and our family. It’s not that we had completely let things slip off the rails, but we were honest enough to acknowledge our personal directions had been diverging. My focus? Kiddos, ministry and work. His focus? Kiddos and successfully growing in his new role in his new career. Some converging needed to be at the heart of our lives for a season.
Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart about balance. Balance in my relationship with Him, living His high calling, taking care of His temple, my relationship with my Hubby, kiddos and the gals He’s called me to encourage and support.
Balance. Something that can seem so elusive and hard to obtain, but God continues to speak to my heart is not only possible, but necessary.
Focus on relationship with Him, the calling and being there for the gals certainly became my top priorities. Hubby and kiddos were right in parallel. His temple? My challenges with complications from surgery and then being sick for several weeks, snuffed my reignited desire to focus on this temple. Then I just fizzled completely. Ugh…
Help me see what needs to be pieced together here, Holy Spirit. Eureka!
I text my husband my Christmas list…
“That sounds like a great idea!!!! Until the last word…” Ha! The excessive use of exclamation points indicated I had requested something we would BOTH enjoy. When we made it home from work, he was excited. We talked about the night we would have for date night, and agreed to hang up a calendar in our bedroom we could cross off each day for keeping our commitment. I would red line one half of an X, he would blue line the other half, and seal it with a heart. Awe……
I’m grateful Holy Spirit did some highlighting for us and we are able and willing to respond. I’m looking forward to the deep work He is about to do. I’m looking forward to lasting transformation in our minds, relationship and bodies. I’m looking forward to the foundation that will be laid as I approach forty and look beyond to half-time in our lives together. We’re looking forward to being intentional and sharing the journey…
If you’ve been thinking about balance and allowing God to make it so, please let me know. I believe I can fervently pray for you from a place of understanding and trust God will piece together His plan for your life as well.
In the midst of Holy Spirit deep dive study, it was shared we may no longer pursue or rely on the leadership of Holy Spirit in our lives for a variety of reasons… theology, distraction, untaught, weird, distance, fear, lazy, no urgency, busy schedules, unprioritized, judgment, and comparison.
It’s apparent the enemy has done a good job at devaluing and dare it be said “demonizing” Holy Spirit influence in the lives of believers.
This is where true POWER resides and is the ONLY way believers will be able to radiate Jesus Christ to the world around us. Perhaps we can become unified around this prayer…
Lord, move our systematic view and thought to be that of the 120 in the upper room, trusting You desire to move today, in such a way. Cause our FULL attention to be given to Your Holy Spirit speaking to us, rather than the voices we find in our feeds. Holy Spirit, TEACH us as the Word says You do in John 14:26; provide men and women YOU trust to remain true to Your Spirit and Word, to teach from human mouths.
Help our thoughts and emotions to align with Your Word, when we think Holy Spirit “weird”. Psalm 25:8 GOOD AND UPRIGHT is the Lord + John 4:24 God is Spirit = Holy Spirit is good and upright as well! Not whack-a-mole weird. Where we allow a chasm to grow between our awareness of Your ever presence in our lives, quickly call us back to remembrance You are there waiting to fellowship, and will not go anywhere. Where we are fearful of what may be asked of us or how You may choose to move through us, remind us perfect love casts out all fear (see 1 John 4:18) , God Who is Spirit, IS LOVE – no fear, here!
Quicken our hearts to gladly call out to You in prayer, Word and worship, rather than remain lackadaisical in our search for more sensitivity to Your Spirit and connection with You. Where no sense of urgency exists to be led by Your Spirit-filled influence? Cause the faces of our children, spouse, family, youth of our communities and struggling in our communities to come to mind. The harvest is plentiful the workers are few (Matthew 9:35-38). Where busy schedules govern lives, remind us of the banquet we may miss out by not pursuing Your Holy Spirit presence, just as in Luke 14:18.
Quicken within us a desire to seek YOU FIRST AND FOREMOST in ALL we do, not just bits and portions. Where we are over concerned and preoccupied with how others may view Your manifest presence in our lives, allow the Words of Proverbs 29:25 to enter our thoughts: It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe. Where we compare Your movement in our lives to Your movement in others, help us embrace the command to NOT COMPARE OURSELVES, from Galatians 6:4.
God, You ARE GOOD! Move us to reclaim ground the enemy may think he has a stronghold on with relation to Your Holy Spirit, and be a people living out loud through Love, and the empowerment of Your Holy Spirit! Thank You Jesus, amen.
They had been on my mind for over a week. The imprisoned, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Our weekly gathering gravitated towards meeting a need. Help the addicted. Reach out to the recently incarcerated. Intercede for the youth being exposed to the unimaginable.
The text message came the very next day. Conversations pointing to similar needs right here in our community. A neighborhood demonstrating anger and animosity. Youth expressing thoughts creating cause for concern. Correctional facilities bursting at the seams due to overabundance of delinquents.
God, what does this mean?
Another conversation with a sister on the same page. Another the following week with a sister whose heart had been stirring. Another during our gathering just one week later, sharing their might be a program coming to our area with a heart for reaching the very same souls seemingly on our hearts and minds.
Why do we need a program from across the country, when we have the Person of Holy Spirit living within each of us? Right here, right now.
I woke up feeling horrible on Saturday. I was growing familiar with this tactic. Go after my health – my physical ability to go, reach out, follow through, complete what He had started. Hot and cold, up and down, dizzy and solid. I kept going back and forth all day and finally crashed.
I woke up this morning, completely rested. Had it really been close to over ten months since I had slept so solid? Had I not known a solid night’s rest in so long? It felt like forever since I had slept so well.
The message came. There was a thirsty woman in a community. There was a woman hungry for MORE. More than the menu religion offered. More than the constraints imposed by the culture. This woman was THIRSTY for more and encountered the only One able to provide her with a drink that would satisfy for an eternity.
I saw them in my mind again. The neighborhood just miles outside of town, I had never been to. The gals recently released or still sleeping on the cots in their 6x6 spaces. I knew that space, too. The kiddos subjected to so many things, the best hope they could conclude for themselves was to harm themselves, or worse…those feelings are relentless and often feel unshakable without Jesus.
And then I read the words, “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, k“Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, l“Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, m“My food is nto do the will of him who sent me and oto accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that pthe fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that qsower and rreaper smay rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, t‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap uthat for which you did not labor. Others have labored, vand you have entered into their labor.”
I was getting ready to leave to grab groceries for my family for the week. It seemed as though the Lord had a couple extra errands for me to run.
Go pray at the jail.
Go walk and pray in the apartment complex.
Go pray in the trailer court.
GO and PRAY. But I can’t find the frankincense… I’m still not feeling well… My daughter will be with me… What if folks see me and wonder what I’m doing… What if they are so bitter they get angry with me being there?
Go and pray.
I didn’t let my daughter know we would be making a few stops before gathering our meat and bread for the week. I simply drove and parked to the spot closest to the jail. Walk and pray.
Strumming my hand along the course, brick walls, I prayed as Spirit led. I prayed loud, with hopes the folks just on the other side of the teeny window could hear. Down and back. Then around. There were more teeny windows on the west side of the building. Oh, cameras. What if the jailers are watching right now, wondering what on earth I am doing? Lord be with me.
Back towards the front, waiting to cross the road, what appeared to be three inmates and a deputy sat on the picnic table. Well that was fast! But really, my intercessory heart was focused on the women. There were some looks and remarks. Lord, bless them with revelation. Cross the street, in the car, my daughter waiting, we drove off.
Pulling into the apartment complex, my daughter remained quiet. I could tell she wondered what I was going to do. Where was I going to go? Invited to come along, she declined.
I’ve never been here, where do I go. Just walk and pray. Okie dokie. Walking through the buildings 801, 601, and around to the back. Who lives behind these walls? What are their lives like? Are the kids doing alright? Spirit, lead my prayers. A few residents caught me – intrigued. Lord give me words if they ask what I’m doing. Up and around and back, I continued on. A couple had been watching, lingering as they entered their apartment’s entry way. I walked and prayed. Back at the car.
My daughter remained silent. I sang the song streaming through my bluetooth’s connection…
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen
I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS
I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you
I pulled out onto the road. One more stop. I drove out into the country. Why had I never heard of the neighborhood out here? The houses were gorgeous. The road reflected a picture perfect fall depiction, and then we reached the second community. The signage for the park read, “Peace unto you”, if I recall correctly.
Pulling in, am I supposed to walk around here, too? Now I spoke out loud, my daughter not responding. Nope. Ok, just drive around. Another song came to mind to switch to – The Upper Room’s Break Every Chain. I turned it up, began praying again, waiting for the route. This way, then that way. My prayers were growing more fervent, believing for chains to be broken because THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS! Spirit led prayers and fervency. My daughter looked around, in somewhat of disbelief. She seemed to ask herself what I had earlier, “Why had we not known this community was here?”
We saw a couple out and about, making eye contact and nodding a head. An older gentleman looked over somewhat exasperated. A little girl sat by the road in a rainbow tutu, appearing as happy as could be. She watched as we drove to the end of the road, turned around, and then drove back past. Intrigued, I’m sure.
My heart was arrested just before leaving the souls we had just prayed for. The song coming to an end. Seven minutes. Ha! God you are GOOD. So good I was overwhelmed and began to cry. My daughter only looked at me. We headed off to grab groceries.
As we walked through placing items in the cart, the thoughts began to creep in.
Do you really think that did any good? Pray isn’t enough. The need is greater than prayer.
Then the previous faithfulness of God, countered.
Remember praying for Ann? Just over a year later and the Lord brought the two of you together, I ministered through you, and now she has hope.
Remember praying for Missy? Again, just over a year later and the two of you were connected and I was ministering through you.
Remember circling the courthouse, praying as God led, trusting He was going to do something with the prayers of one woman who chose to rise and pray at the dawn of each Sunday morning for weeks? Now what is the result?
You are connected to the Mayor through his wife, prayers continue to go up. The weekly gatherings are taking place on the square you walked around. One business owner just off the square is now connected and beginning to grow in understanding.
Prayer initiates the process, making the request known. Remaining faithful and connected to the process is where God reveals even more tangible steps of faith to answer the prayer of those who may never know they were prayed for.
Prayer avails MUCH!
I had no idea this would be the way my day would unfold. I had no idea the posts scheduled and shared on social media were actually priming me for follow through rather than a “lip service” only. I have no idea what will come next. I do, however, have an idea regardless of the awkward looks, the suspicious glances and emptiness - I was right where I needed to be praying and God has begun to do a good work.
And I do know, God is crazy about those He loves and is determined to set free. I know He has compassion for the captives, the wounded and abused, the angry and afraid. I know His love for others is just as strong as His love for you and I.
Who are we to keep that from them if from these prayers He will be given an opportunity to make Himself known? Who am I but a woman thirsty and hungry for more? Do you know what thirst and hunger I mean? More and every last ounce of what He has, this side of heaven.