Monday, January 31, 2011


I've settled in at my favorite coffee shop on two different occasions to write this post.  I have started writing probably more than 10 times.  Chai latte at my hand and Derek Webb's Feeback in my ears.  It's the perfect combination of no lyrics and upbeat driving rhythms--perfect for keeping this girl engaged and on task, but not distracted with another set of words in my head.  Regardless of my seemingly ideal conditions for writing, half of my attempts failed because I had ideas that fell flat once I began typing.  They began falling so flat, in fact, that I gave up and decided to try it again another day.  So here I am.  Round 2 with another cup of Chai and Mr. Webb serenading me once again.  Round 2 has provided the second half of failed attempts due to interruptions from Facebook chat.  Seriously.  Every time I turned on the first track to Feedback and pulled up the blank window, I'd hear that intrusive ding.  Yeah, yeah, I know.   Turn it off, right?  That's what I did after time number 5.  I'm a slow learner.  My nights aren't usually so eventful, I promise you.  So here I am.  Uninterrupted and without distraction...except, of course, by my delicious warm beverage on this snowy night...trying to write.  All that to say, this preamble to my entry only affirms what I'm about to write.

We are flooded.  Flailing, drowning even, in the amount of audio, visual, technological, emotional, and every other kind of -al stimuli you can think of.  We are flooded.  I have been trying to do a lot of creative planning and thinking for work since I've returned from Nicaragua and it has been grueling.  I LOVE doing this kind of work, mind you.  It's just been such a struggle to focus on the task at hand and stick with it.  Going from a place where I didn't have my phone or computer for 2 weeks and the only things I had to read were my Bible and an extra book for fun.  I didn't have a hundred tasks at hand that needed to be juggled, but just a few things each day that had to be done and would be.  My mind was a million miles from anything here.  It was attentive to the time and space that I inhabited and I felt simple.  A good simple.  No worries to muck up my mind.  I wasn't overthinking anything.  We ate 3 times a day, played with kids, rode in a truck, played some games.  As we were making our final descent back into MSP, I lamented to my friend about getting my phone back once we landed and once again being plugged in.  I went on about how nice it was to talk to people in person have that simplicity that Nica had to offer us.  He simply said, "you don't have to leave it there."

He was right.  So I come back struggling for simplicity and realize that I'm the one allowing complexity.  Yes, there are some complexities we have in order to function within our society.  It's the way it works.  However, me feeling invaded by the complexity of culture, technology, and social stimuli is because I've allowed them to do just that.

Proverbs 4 says: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

Maybe I'm taking this too far, but I think we (mostly speaking to me) need to be aware of and proactive about the things we're exposing our hearts to.  When my computer screen has taken the place of my Bible as the first thing that greets me in the morning and the thing that tucks me in at night, my heart isn't guarded.  When I allow and partake in talking about others in a way that's not uplifting, I'm not guarding my heart.  When I allow myself to go on another shopping spree for new clothes because I'm bored or think it'll make me look and feel better, I'm not guarding my heart.  What's the hole in your fence?  Where do you need a shield?  I need lots of them at the moment.

It's funny, I am a notorious wall builder when it comes to most things.  I'm one who likes to keep people at an arms' length.  I have walls that atomic bombs could only dent.  However, something about the world can become so appealing and before I know it, I'm overcome.  It's too late to simply "unplug" or tell the world to back off.  I'm sinking.

That's so like us, right?  Trying hard to hold it together and show the world that we're strong and really, the world sees that we're full of it and drowning.  But Jesus.  He's close at hand.  Scripture calls God our refuge, our fortress (Ps. 46), our light, our salvation, our stronghold (Ps. 27), our rescue, One who is Mighty to Save (Zeph. 3).

When we haven't guarded in our own hearts, when we haven't turned our ears only to what God is saying to us, when we haven't been attuned to where God is guiding us next, when we are perishing in the noise that surrounds us in our earthly wait, HE becomes our guard.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Thank you, Jesus, for doing things we can't do in ways we can't understand.  Forgive us for handing our hearts over to this world.  Fill us with Your truth.  Wrap us in Your promises.  Guard us as we wait on earth.  Guard us as we wait for You.  Amen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord.

Well folks, I'm back in the good 'ol US of A. It's taken me a bit to get back into the swing of life here. This process has not been helped by the fact that I came back with a pretty good cold and sore throat and my system is taking its dear, sweet time readjusting to being back state side. Part of my "catch up" process the last couple of days has been working through a text for a chapel message next week. Psalm 27. It's a doozey.

The first 6 verses are David proclaiming the strength and goodness of God. He is our light, our salvation, our fortress. We don't have to fear even when we are surrounded. He will keep us safe, hide us in His shelter, and set us high upon a rock. David is spitting truth about the promises of God. It makes you wonder about the next 6 or 7 verses.

After David has made such a strong and confident confession about the goodness of God for us, he lets us in on the struggle. He asks God to hear him. He takes up seeking God in prayer about what troubles him. He pleads for God to not leave him or hand him over to his enemies.

In the last two verses, David wraps up with this:
"I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. "

In his seeking and pleading with God, he still clings to the promises he professed in the first 6 verses. He trusts that the promises will come to pass for him and so he continues to seek and wait. Wow.


A pastor from the states was down in Nicaragua with a team while we were there. He led a devotion one day about several things, but two of the key concepts was abiding and abounding. Abiding in God's Word and in prayer, so that we can abound in service and ministry for Him. Another woman challenged us with unplugging and taking time to listen to God's leading.

I was thinking on this for the rest of the trip. It seems like so much of my life at the moment is open-ended. I'm wondering what do to about this or that, wondering where God is leading me next, needing peace over any number of issues. Even still, I do not seek His Word or make time to wait on Him in prayer.

Honestly, coming home from Nicaragua sent me into a mental tailspin. I was completely bombarded with thoughts of serving in overseas ministry, being torn between supporting ministry in Latin America or Western Africa, my heart for orphans, my heart for leading worship, my fear of being sent out alone. Such turmoil! Even after hearing such a great message from the pastor while in Nica, I was still stirring so greatly.

Spending time in Psalm 27 brought me back to ground level. Verse 8 in the NLT puts it like this:
"My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.'
And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming.'"

Once again, I hear God saying, "Shelly, calm down. If you're worried about this, come talk to me about it. Seek me. Be confident in my goodness. Wait patiently for me."

So I'm taking time to wait on the Lord. But to be perfectly honest, I don't know how long this will last. I tend to fall to the same things over and over, especially when it comes to thinking I can do things on my own. But Psalm 27 says our call is to seek Him, trust in His goodness, and wait for it patiently.

I don't know what God has in store for me, but I'm committing to seeking Him in it and waiting for Him to reveal what He has in store. I know it will be great.

Monday, January 10, 2011

you have a purpose.

Hola, mi amigos!

I'm coming to you from just outside of Leon, Nicaragua right now. It's sunny, hot, and wonderful. We've been in the country for a week now and God has blessed us so hugely during our stay here. Our first several days, we stayed with a man named Pastor Manolo and his wife, Tonya. He is an amazing man of God who is working in his community to proclaim the Gospel and encourage people to live it out in their everyday lives.

One of the main things that he shares with his people and shared with us while we were with him was that God has a purpose for each of us. God is using us and working in each of our lives. His words full of wisdom blessed each of us. As we hiked up a mountain, he shared with us how our faith journey is much like a hike. Sometimes you're moving quickly. Sometimes you need to stop and take a break. No matter the pace, you overcome and make it to the top because of Christ. We walk together up the mountain as a family, as a Church. We learn and experience and are different because of each step. Christ comes and invades who we are and we can't be the same.

This is one of the many amazing things he shared with us.

I saw this analogy play out first hand with a young woman I talked to from the orphanage named Francis. She is 18 and has been at the orphanage for about 10 years. She told me how the orphanage was good to her, but she'd waited and waited for God to send her a family. Two or three times families tried to adopt her and it fell through. She said, though, that she prayed for years and knew that God was good and had good things for her. He has His purpose in mind. Three months ago, one of the women that runs the orphanage adopted her, her sister, and her brother. She couldn't be more thrilled because she didn't want to leave Jinotega and her new mom. She said her mom was never married or had her own children, but she has become a great mother to many. I thank God for Francis, for her story, for people who love orphans, and for God's purposes that are always unfolding even when we have to wait for them.



Monday, January 3, 2011

get it, girl, get it.

Get it, girl, get it! (For the gentlemen reading this, please feel free to insert "boy" or "dude" to replace "girl" anytime this phrase is repeated.)

I'm not quite sure how this phrase made it's way into my vocabulary, but it's a staple at the moment. It's often used as encouragement when someone isn't feeling especially confident about the task ahead of them. I also tend to use it instead of "good luck" before someone goes on stage, speaks, sings, etc. I might yell it out if someone busts out a sweet dance move or if our point guard is racing down the court ahead of the pack for a lay up. It's my way of basically saying "jump in, give it your all, and do great."

This phrase comes to mind as think of the next 2 weeks of my life. I'm serving as a staff adviser on university service trip to Nicaragua. We're going to be serving with Newsong Mission and other places. This is my first time going to Central America that isn't Mexico and my first time being a leader of an abroad trip. There are several students who haven't been there before or on an abroad service trip. We will all be leaping out of our comfort zones and asking God to lead and comfort with His rod and staff (Psalm 25). And so to us I say, "Get it, girl, get it."

Get it, girl, get it. I think this qualifies as part of meantime living mentality. We're free, people. Free to jump in, give it our all, and do great. That's what we're praying for this trip--have a great time, experience new things, rely on God, and watch Him use us. God has made us more than conquerors by Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). Even conquerors over our fears because He didn't give us a spirit of timidity or fear, but one of power.

What are you waiting for? Get it, girl, get it!

Note: Because of limited access, blog posts may be sparse during the next 2 weeks.