Monday, August 17, 2015

Wait! That Wasn't MY $10 Bill!

Sunday was a really long day.
I had church production in the morning and then had to work thereafter.
But when I finished my day and was walking out of the building, I realized I forgot something and went to go back inside only to look down and see a purple $10 Canadian bill on the ground.
Unsure what to do, I grabbed it and walked inside and promptly asked around if anyone had dropped it. With no result from that, I went back to my car and put it in my car cupholder.

I recently said something I want to start living by.

I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in Jesus.

I believe because God says that he knows the number of hairs on our head, and that not even a sparrow will fall to the ground without his authority, that He knows every moment and has authority over everything. The fact that I found that $10 on the ground, with no owner to claim, I will assume that was a blessing from God in some way. That I would be there in that moment, at that time to see it and pick it up. There was a purpose to that moment.

Recently I've been very anxious about my finances. Going back to school and having to pay rent has caused a surge of emotions that has left me in tears some nights - just worried.
Often I have to turn it over to God knowing that it was HIM who opened this door, and it will be Him who provides over the next 2 1/2 years.

When I saw that $10, I thought "Is it possible this God blessing me with lunch money?"... but I wasn't sure. I was kind of confused because usually God does these things when I ask. I will ask him "Show me how you love me today" or "show me a sign you will provide today"... But I hadn't asked him those things.

Today when I went to lunch with friends I had forgotten the $10 in the car. With no desire to go get it, I payed with debit instead. The $10 remained in my cupholder.

I did something the other week I am not proud of.

I was late to a class at the gym and in a rush. As I pulled up to a stop light, there was a man with a cardboard sign and his dog asking for money. As I came to a stop, I rolled up my window up.
I know. Jerk move. I was already in a rush and was in no mood to give this guy attention. I tried to convince myself that he probably was scamming people anyway but... I couldn't shake it. I was shocked and felt awful that I did that. It completely threw my day off that I would do that. I asked for God's forgiveness that I would reject someone like that whom He created with a purpose. Sure, the guy got off track or was put into bad circumstances, but I had outright rejected him by putting my window up like that. I didn't need to give him money, but I could of at least smiled.

I recently started going to zumba class and I'm loving it! I went today and took the same route to class. Pulling up to the light there was another opportunity... the same man with the same cardboard sign and his dog were standing at the lights where I came to a stop. This was only the second time I had seen him. I immediately understood why I still had that $10 in my cupholder. God had stopped me at that light, at that moment, with the $10 still in my copholder for a reason. This was not a coincidence, this was Jesus.

That money was never mine. It was his.
But here's the problem. I handed the man the money and he was very grateful, but once I got to class I realized that I should have told him the truth about that money. The $10 was never mine. God put it in my hands the day before for that precise moment. It was from God, not me.

I had improved from the "rolling up the window" situation, but I still had a lot to learn.

I want to start giving credit where credit is due. 
God blesses us so abundantly day to day but we are far too busy complaining about what we don't have that we don't even thank him for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies or even our beating hearts. I want to start being more aware of the situations God puts me in and asking Him how He can use me. I want to cultivate a heart of gratitude and show people that I am where I am, and I am who I am because of His saving grace. When people see or hear me, I want them to see Jesus. That is what God asks of us... God is Love and He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. He is love on display and he wants us to do the same. That is the message of the bible, and whether you believe in God or not, you believe in love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Warning: Facebook is a Liar

Recently I have felt social media to be a distraction in my life. Unfortunately, I run the social media accounts at work so I cannot completely get away. But in regards to my personal account, I started to ask myself the intention behind every post, and I didn't like the answers.

So... I deactivated Facebook.

Life went on as normal, but I had more time.

I was more intentional with the first moments of my mornings and got out the door at a decent time. I was able to connect more with my friends. I started calling them (what a concept!) and writing snail mail (which deemed to be a challenge for a millennial who is used to writing short blurbs to hold a 'digital conversation'). The result? I ended up feeling far more blessed in those moments than Facebook could offer. A friend replied via mail and gifted me an iTunes gift card because my mail to her ended up arriving at the perfect time when she came home from a difficult day at work. It's amazing how God can move when we challenge ourselves, step out of our day-to-day and work on ourselves.

I used this time to also meditate and pray about a big decision I was considering. I applied for my Masters Degree and after I got accepted and made a decision about attending or not, I reactivated my Facebook account. I have friends and family that I am not exactly close with that needed to know I had made this huge life choice... right?

Within the first 15 minutes of reactivating my Facebook account, I immediately felt insecure about the following things:

  • That event I wasn't invited to (with the friends I'm not close with and wouldn't of otherwise cared)
  • I'm single and everyone is engaged or getting married (But no one posts about the problems they are facing, right?)
  • I don't own my house yet (because comparing myself to people who have been married for 5 years and may be facing debt is a reasonable comparison)
  • I don't have a baby (even though I don't want one right now)
  • I'm not currently travelling (I just got back from a solo backpack trip around Europe... less than 2 months ago)
  • My teeth aren't as white as that person I used to go to high school with (who probably uses filters or a special app to get them that way)
  • My hair isn't as perfect as that random person in my friend's photo (who probably spent hours getting it to look that way and is probably wearing extensions)
  • I'm not as fit as that girl (who gets up at 5am every morning to ensure she fits her workout in every day when I would much prefer the comfort of my bed. Truth.)
  • My home is not as clean as that person's photo indicated theirs was (They had the day off

Facebook was lying to me.
I had no reason to be insecure about those things because, well read my NOW response in italics above... they were ridiculous!
We did a series at church called "death to selfie" which taught me to stop comparing my behind the scenes to everyone else's high light reel. The point is, Facebook is just a collection of everyone's fabricated happy moments!

My father posted an image of my family at the cottage which said something along the lines of "Having a great time with family". My brother, sister in law, nephew, mother and father were all at the cottage and I was stuck at work. I immediately felt jipped! thanks for the invite!
It looked like they were having a blast! I messaged my mom and asked how the cottage was going. Her response: "The weather was great, but the weekend had been okay".

Facebook posts have been the cause of a surge of unwanted emotions in me. Feelings of loneliness, rejection, and just not measuring up. But it's a lie, and I know it is.
And here's the truth.

My life is exactly where it's supposed to be and I'm doing pretty fabulous for someone on their own. I have a beautiful apartment that screams my personality. I have a newer car that gets me everywhere I need to go. My family is only 20 minutes away if i need a (better) home cooked meal. My church is my second family and I wouldn't trade them for the world. My God is opening doors for me. My job puts food in my belly and a roof over my head. I have adventure in my life. I'm happy being single right now (I have more time to figure out what I want for my life). I'm not ready for the burden of owning a house or raising children. And as far as white teeth, perfect hair and getting more fit... I'd rather be more read in God's word than to put on a perfect front that will never hold.

I am not perfect, and I do not claim to be.
The problem is, we have messages pushing at us every day telling us what to be, what to buy, how to act, and what is considered "beautiful". I don't need one more avenue distracting me from this beautiful life I have been blessed with.

Needless to say... I will be deactivating my account again.

xo Shauna

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Dad Bought Me These Shoes

In my recent adventures in Europe (which feels like a distant memory or dream already) God revealed two major life lessons to me.

1. God is always with me
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6

2. You have not because you ask not.
Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. - James 4:2

I was in Paris and had been walking for over two hours with no corner store in sight. So I thought that since I was completely relying on Christ to be my guide this trip, I asked Him for some water. I look up and there is a man selling bottles of water out of a bucket for 1 euro.

It was the biggest travel day I had all trip. I asked God for favour on the flight that I would have no screaming babies around me and that it would be a relaxing trip. When the announcement came on that said "We are a full flight today" I looked beside me to realize the seat next to me was staying empty despite the announcement.

 "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:11

My Flamingo Shoes

Yesterday, I was at the mall looking for a new pair of shoes because mine are falling apart. Shoe shopping is always a nightmare for me. It's painful when you have to break them in, and it's rare to find a nice shoe in my size that's comfortable. I walked into winners and as I was walking down the shoe aisle, I asked God to have the perfect pair of shoes for me. I looked up and saw flamingo shoes... in my size... just sitting there. I tried them on and they fit perfectly.
I have a personal connection with Flamingos. I am obsessed with the colour pink for one, and two they are tall with long legs like me. I think God was thinking of people like me when He made flamingos. Anyway, I saw the price and they were around 25 dollars. I thought that was a lot so I walked away.
I walked away from something that I KNEW God had blessed me with because I THOUGHT they came with a price I wasn't willing to pay.
I spoke with my twin (BFF) on the phone and she told me that she noticed the shoes were Steve Madden which means they are good quality and $25 was actually cheap for that brand! I said "Okay, then it's worth it. If they are there after church tomorrow, I'll take it as a sign and get them"
I went back in today, sure enough they were there. I decided to asked God to please reduce the price a little bit (I was thinking more $13?). I got to the checkout counter and they came up as the price listed. 
oh well.
The woman asked me if i had a points card so I checked my wallet assuming little success because I had recently switched wallets and have most my cards at home. But I saw "nners" sticking out the side on one card... I gave it to the girl assuming that was the points card but she couldn't scan it.
"Oh this is a gift card" she said.
What? I didn't know I had a winners gift card!
My Godmother had given me a gift card to Homesense (same company) and the winners logo just happened to be on the side that was sticking out of my wallet. 
When she scanned the card to pay for the shoes, she handed it back to me and said "Your remaining balance is $28.50". Not only did God provide the perfect shoes, but He worked it out so I wouldn't have to pay a dime all along.

This makes me wonder how many times I've had a blessing staring me right in the face, but I turn away from it because I felt the "price I would have to pay" would not be worth it.

I turned down the blessing, but when I changed my mind to go back and receive it, God still had it waiting there for me. Isn't that just the true nature of God? We can turn him down so many times, but the moment we change our hearts and turn back to Him, He is right there. Waiting to take us in. Waiting to bless us. Waiting to show us more of His love.

The true reason I went back, and changed how I felt about the price of the shoes was because my friend reminded me of it's quality of the shoe.
A blessing from God is of the highest quality and therefore the price we may have to pay is ALWAYS worth what he is calling us to. Because in the end, the price we think we are paying, the "sacrifice" we may need to make, was actually already paid for. By Him. On the cross.

xox sc

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Just One Prayer

I have had major milestones, circumstances, valleys and mountains happen to me that resulted out of extremely honest prayers.

These prayers were ones that reached up to God, desiring his will over mine, giving him complete control over my life. But what resulted wasn't what I expected nor thought.

An important question to ask yourself before you pray a big prayer like these is "what condition is my heart in?". If you are asking God for something, for your own benefit, then you may not be in the right place.

Three things come to mind:
1. Do you trust Him?
2. Are you willing?
3. Will you sacrifice?

I have had to sacrifice many things with no promise of something better right away. But in the long run, looking back, I can see God's hand in all of it. I trusted him with my life, and it hurt alot, but because I was willing to go through it all with Him by my side... I have come out a better person because of it.

Honest Prayers:

1. God, do you exist?
I prayed that MANY times and got no answer. In fact, it seemed even more silent around me than usual. I was so concentrated on hearing his vocal voice tell me "I AM REAL NOW BELIEVE" but it didn't work that way for me. I got to the point where I finally prayed an honest prayer from my heart, no longer testing God but rather reaching to him with my entire heart

"God, if there is something that is keeping me from knowing you, show me what that is. Please. I want to know you and feel you and hear you, but I just don't. Show me what I have to change to have this relationship with You"

It was through what resulted next that gave me clarity. I was listening to the Pastor preach and it became evident God was telling me that my relationship with my boyfriend was standing in the way of my relationship with Him. How could I possibly find my true identity in Christ if I was relying in my boyfriend for my identity? I laughed and said to Him "I understand, but you are going to have to take him out of my life yourself because I'm not strong enough to do that".

Within the hour... the HOUR... we were broken up. I had called him later that evening and by the end of the conversation he had broken up with me. God could have appeared to me in a vision, or audibly said "I exist" but instead he worked in the way He does best... through the heart. I had to get to a position of surrender before He could do anything. But once I did, I was able to enter into a relationship with Christ that FULLY depended on Him.

2. God, if this is not pleasing to you, put a brick wall in front of me.

I was in a Christian relationship that I felt God provided as a result of probably annoying prayers. I had been praying for a good man that loved God and asked that I meet him within the week. I met someone, we started dating right away and it was great. But then it started to not feel right, and my friends were telling me to be careful. I started feeling lack of peace and my relationship with Christ was suffering. I remember exactly where i was in my car when I was bending God's ear towards me. I asked him "If this is not pleasing to you, just put a brick wall in front of me so I know". The next day (or it could have been the same day!) I met with a friend who told me our mutual friend saw his profile on an online dating website. Now THAT was a brick wall - and i had a choice. I confronted him about it, and he denied it, but believing him or not believing him was NOT the point. I quickly forgave and decided ending the relationship was the best decision. We ended on good terms and to this day I thank God for responding to my prayer. I have grown so much as an individual since that day. Now, it's important to say that I believe if I had decided to stay with that guy, I believe God would have been able to work through our relationship and I could have led a fulfilling life. BUT. I also know that surrendering to God's way is far better than Him blessing my way.

(You can read my reflections on this prayer in my blog "Pursue Christ, Don't Chase After Boys")

3. God, please provide _____ for me.

I have been in a lot of situations where I had to completely rely on God to work in order to move forward. I really wanted to go on vacation, to lay on a beach and relax, but I didn't want to go alone. In the midst of complaining about my unfortunate situation to a co-worker/mentor, they in turn challenged me to ask God for someone to go on vacation with. Why didn't I think of that? I asked and guess what? The next bible study I attended a girl in the group was saying how she wants to go on vacation but had no one to go with... um yea... we ended up booking a vacation within the next couple of weeks and we are now best friends. In fact, we call one another "Twin" because we understand one another in a way that no new friends should. We are convinced we have been cut from the same mould and that potentially, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit high fived when we met. Yea. That is the power of prayer.

Our prayers have power. They can tear down a mountain that is in front of us, or they can build a city. I have experienced the weight of my prayers (both good and painful - please refer to "Be Careful What You Pray For" blog) but in the end, I know that there is extreme importance on examining one's heart behind the prayer.