Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Costly Assumptions

A little over a year ago I realized a condition I was in that would need to be addressed. I remember it like it was yesterday when a lovely young couple was at our home visiting and I was in the kitchen making dinner. (Story of our lives am I right ladies). And I don't know another way to say this, but their joy was... irritating. The sounds of laughter made me squint my eyes as if it gave me a headache. The feeling I was experiencing and the actual thought that went through my head was "I cant wait for them to leave. Their joy is irritating me." And its as if the Holy spirit poked me in my side as if to say wow,um excuse me, say that again? Their joy irritated me. Something was terribly wrong. My heart was sick.

I sat in bed that night ashamed of myself. Of course I didn't project that message to my guests I don't think but on the inside were all these honest feelings of being annoyed, irritated, like no one knew just how hard things were at times, and busy! Oh Lord so busy. That one word," busy", the one I used to use to describe almost every season of our lives in ministry, now hearing it gives me aversions. I laid their asking the great physician why my heart was so sick? How did it get so bad?  And the answer in a nut shell was this. I was in fact so busy, busy with "good" things that were totally unfruitful. And if I'm learning anything as I get older, its that God never told us to be busy, but only to be fruitful.

I realized that evening in my kitchen as the sounds of joy and laughter from dear friends and my daughter floated through the air that I was trying to give my "best" to God and the scraps that remained went to my husband, my daughter, and whatever friendships I had. I was doing it all so backwards. Somehow I'd made such assumptions that being busy in so many areas was what was good to God, and if I'm being honest, looked better for me. I mean isn't it expected that a pastors wife volunteer with the children and sign up to bring stuff and do XY & Z? God isn't that what you want me to do? And after my talk with the Lord his answer was no. And so you see "good"  is like my enemy now, now that I've learned a way that is better.

Let me read you this story.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to them. She had a sister named Mary who sat at Jesus's feet and listened to him teach, but Martha was distracted by all the preparation's that had to be made. She came to Jesus and asked "Lord don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!

But the Lord answered "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset at many things but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." This is from Luke 10:38-41

When I read this not long ago I saw so clearly this was me. I'd made so many assumptions in the same way Martha had made the assumption that Jesus was actually even hungry. I'm so confident that if Jesus had wanted or needed food Mary would have quickly rushed to do whatever he asked. Obviously she was a huge fan which was why she sat attentively at his feet while he taught. And in John it says Mary ran to meet him when she had heard he was close by, but Martha was too distracted, making assumptions of what she needed to do, worrying and full of stress when Jesus never asked those things of her and actually mentioned that "only one thing was needed" and that was to be in his presence. How easily we often think so much is required for life, or to be happy, when Jesus often taught the opposite of this.

Its like our culture thrives on busyness. That more is best. But scripture encourages us to do only what is beneficial. So not only could Martha not stay still, she actually got upset when others didn't feel the same frustrations or the same burden of work as she did. But I think this, that it takes courage to be still while others are running around like crazy busy doing things that seem important or good. Its taken me a while to get comfortable with knowing others around me are so busy working while I have chosen to stay still at his feet unless given instructions to do anything else. I'm not saying others are running around fruitless. I believe once God has given you a task, and when you're with him long enough he absolutely will no doubt, you should go for it 100%. And I know people who certainly are, but for the most part unfortunately, in my opinion most people are not doing that. They're actually just staying busy, running away or too distracted from a lot of what God would like to deal with and transform inside of them. They follow this chase of the American dream or what should be done in ministry and when they think they've finally gotten it, they find themselves still unfulfilled, so the chase continues.We should all be at the feet of Jesus, listening, learning, not telling him all our issues and giving him our long list of must haves, needs and wants, but like Mary, listening attentively and refusing to leave to do anything else unless asked.  Father help us all to learn.

I say all this to ask you to just be mindful of what's in your heart and to spend time with God to help you evaluate your fruitfulness. Once I went through the check list asking God what was expecting from me, I was amazed at how little was required. Not that God wants us to be a bunch of lazy bums and stop doing good, what I mean is I was giving quantity and not quality out, and once I edited things I realized I could give my best to what God truly was giving me to do. I could now give more to what mattered most to him, and right now in this season for me that's attention and affection to my husband and daughters and more time to read and write. Everything I do now is not busy, its fruitful.

If a friendship does not bare good fruit, I don't give it the time I would have previously if I give it any at all. Its not personal. You can be my brother or sister in Christ but I do chose my friends carefully just as you should. Consider doing inventory of your life on where your time and energy is spent and what are some of the results of those things. Also before I say yes to anything even when the idea or deed is good I'm learning to take time to pray and ask God first. In order to say yes to the plans God has for me, learning to say no to a lot of other things is needed.And now I find I never feel busy, I feel productive. I feel fruitful. God said to be fruitful and multiply. This isn't just a literal instruction to repopulate and have babies but to multiply yourself. Spend time with God, listen to his teachings as Mary did, read his Word and you will be fruitful, not busy, but fruitful, receiving and giving life in all that you do, not stressed or worried about many things.

You know those jokes that go "you might be a redneck if," well I think to myself, "you might be a Martha if, you find yourself at a diner party you planned and you suddenly wanna punch your sister in the face." Their could possibly be a narrow market for Hallmark with church goers here lol. But seriously. If you find your emotions being irritable when you look at what is happening in others lives around you, you might be a Martha, or simply coveting. If just by reading this you think of 100 reasons why this message wouldn't possibly apply to you, you might be a Martha. Or if you feel so busy and find yourself just telling people often just how busy you are, maybe you should stop what your doing long enough to sit at the feet of Jesus and ask him if what you're doing is good, or if their is something better. His rearranging of my life was not a quick process, nor was it easy, but I'm now so sure I'm doing exactly what he wants me to be doing, and its the best feeling. So freeing and liberating. I no longer feel like I need to explain my no's to others, actually just learning to say no was huge!  I feel free from a lot of icky stuff that I didn't know I needed to be free from.

Also from a practical stand point and I've been wanting to explain this for a while, when I say I "heard from God" just to clarify I don't have an audible  unmistakable voice I hear. Its more like, I have this thought in my head of what I should or should not do and it just simply doesn't go away, and I've learned that its often God's way of speaking to me. So when I'd ask God to show me what to change, a specific idea or thought would come to mind that just never went away until I did it. Don't let the devil lie to you and make you believe I'm more spiritual or capable of hearing God than you are. It takes time. It takes being quiet and still. It takes being obedient. I've totally gotten things wrong before but this is why God expresses over and over the importance of reading the Word and renewing the mind. Because the mind is where God dwells. Heart, mind, same thing. The more Word you fill your mind with the more easily you can discern if the thoughts happening in your mind are of God or not of God. The Word filters everything. Too many Christians are led by their "senses and feelings" and to them God is this mystical thing in need of searching for to "discover his will for them." His will for your life is found inside his Word and he places the blueprint in your mind.God dwells in our minds. He speaks in our minds. He builds in our minds and it must continually be renewed by the Word of God.  So please, don't ever read someone's blog or posts or sermons and think to yourself that only they hear from God. What they mean is simply, they had an idea or thought, an impression that just wouldn't go away. If you want to know his voice and his will for your life read the bible as frequent as possible. Listen to Jesus teach like Mary did by reading Matthew, Mark, Luke or John if you're new and need a place to begin. YouTube people like, Robert Morris, Andrew Wommack, Jonathan & Adalis Shuttlesworth, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Hagin, Francis Chan or Myles Munroe to name a few and feed yourself daily! The knowledge of who God is, is limitless!

So to all the Martha's out there reading I pray you find the courage to stop long enough to listen to the Lords voice in your life. For in him and his instructions is exactly what you've been searching for. He has more for you. Receive from him. And to all the Mary's, good for you. Get excited, and like Mary may each of us see with our own eyes Christ bringing all that was once dead back to life again.

Love,
Sharon




Monday, April 16, 2018

Confessions

About a year ago the Lord asked me a very interesting question. "Sharon, tell me the one thing you desire most for your daughter."  I spent the most part of a day trying to decide my answer. First I thought about a successful career. How cool it would be to have my daughter be the first to do, accomplish, establish or see some new thing. With a successful career perhaps she'd feel fulfilled, maybe so many people would know who she was. Maybe she'd earn enough finically to do or have whatever she desired. Then I thought about her being an amazing wife and mother. If she married an amazing godly man who loved her like mine does, she'd experience the joys and adventure having a family can bring. Hmmm maybe I should say health. What if she remained vibrant and healthy her whole life. Just imagine the pain and challenges she could avoid. And in between those answers and thoughts were a thousand other ideas. But I came to my decision and I'll admit, it was a totally selfish one. I was upstairs in her bedroom hanging cloths in her closet when I told the Lord I was ready with my answer. "Lord, I want so many incredible things for her, but what I truly want most is selfish. More than anything my heart wants her to always want a relationship with me. As her life is unfolding and with every changing season I want her to know how much I love her, and to stay in touch. I want the thought of being near me or hearing my voice to always brings her heart great joy and comfort." I hoped I hadn't just wasted an incredible opportunity with the Lord regarding Finley's future when I heard him say this back to me. "That's exactly what I want for all my kids too."  I sat down in her yellow rocker and smiled as I let this beautiful realization flood my heart like a river. wow.

You see, so many of us are still living our lives in an old covenant, and perhaps we prefer it that way.  In the old testament people wanted to please God because of what he could do for them or to them. The old covenant was based on obedience and rules equaling blessing and prosperity. Men and woman encountered God at that time through literal visitations. The presence of God was a dwelling place limited to a single location. No one could really know God, but then Christ came. His kingdom was not to be established literally as the disciples had hoped for, but he came that the very presence of God could now dwell personally in the hearts of every man. The laws that had to be obeyed or else, would now become principals for the heart to live by. God would come now, because of Christ's death, and through the holy spirit dwell among us. Our lives could now be exchanged for a new life. Not just for an eternal one but one here and now! Gods presence could now dwell in the hearts of man and the Word and understanding of his kingdom could be understood finally. But, I feel like not many believers want that. We want the God who would give us rewards for following "rules" but not the God who wants to be with us. We prefer to go to church 1 day a week at best so we can live a descent life and go to heaven instead of giving of our lives daily that we may know him and his will. The salvation I experienced was an exchange, my life, my plans my future was surrendered and I began the slow process of dying to myself in order that he might live in me and through me. Is this not what Christ did? Did he not lay down his own position seated with is father to accept the humble  task of being used for his fathers purpose?  In every way Christ showed us how to die and how to live. How sad it makes me to see that so many simply want to live their own lives, independent of God, and if He should happen to bless them or they have any extra room, so be it, when this is not the picture of following Christ I've read at all. Such a high price was paid to make the very presence of God possible, and how few of us find any value in it or find it necessary at all for our own daily lives.


After that conversation or realization I should say, I made it a point to truly try to keep God first. I mean, really. I'd say I "loved the Lord" but my life was set up in a way that I cant even say that was true. If the time I truly dedicated to him daily was the evidence of that then their was little to none. I'll confess I was definitely one of those people that wanted the perks of the old testament but still couldn't understand how much better the new one was. I filled my life with all the "doing good" things but, my heart wasn't often in any of it. Let me just do what's good and let the Lord accept my sacrifice so that he'll continue to bless me. It was Matthew 15:8 when God said "They honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me." I told him I loved him for 45 minutes once a week in service but my heart desired so many other things first. Even when I did want to spend time with him their wasn't any time left in the day, or if their was I wanted it for myself. Many of those things that consumed my time were good, but it wasn't God himself, just a bunch of stuff I did to try and show him I loved him. I understood his longing for me in a new way after that. I rearranged my whole life to do this very thing for him. I cleared the roster and hit reset. If Loving the Lord with all my heart mind and soul was truly the greatest instruction of my whole life, and I believed that the Word was true then I had to give it a serious chance of ever happening. Perhaps at points in my life it had once been this way, but life kept piling on thing after thing. I became terrible at guarding my time and having boundaries and before I knew it days and almost years belonged to everyone and everything else except me, and certainly not God. I say this ashamedly because my husband and I are in ministry. Somehow in giving our whole life to serving God, somehow we got consumed in serving only people. How backwards of an example is that? So like I said I hit reset. I finished every obligation I had made and declined every request or opportunity beyond that. I stopped watching tv and entertaining myself, I said goodbye to a few relationships that were a lot of work and bearing little to no fruit. I actually felt the Lord leading me to quite my job! I know this sounds extreme but, if it cost the Son of God his life how minor is a mere $100 a week job if it would allow me 8 more hours a week to have time to spend with him? And so with my husbands blessing, I'm telling you I really went for it. I became devoted to him first and I committed a minimum of an hour a day to his Word and before long 1 hour became for like 3-4. And do you know what happened? I started to fall in love again.

Now I'm a pretty non emotional person, ask anyone who knows me well. I am a thinker not a feeler, so I'll be terribly honest with you and say I wasn't sure the emotion of love for Christ seemed realistic to me. I would often read the Commandment about love and be like "skip. I'll be devoted but I'm not sure about having love the way I know it. Take me to the part about loving my neighbor, that one seems more reasonable" but I'm telling you something began to happen. I would sit into the night and read the bible and just start crying. The reality of Gods love was so tangible I'd fall asleep with tears in my eyes and wake up bathed in the same powerful reality of it. And then another wild thing happened. The more I pursued God, the more he gave me the things I'd always wanted. The things I tried to make happen with effort before, began to take place with no effort at all unexpectedly. Its that verse in Psalms that says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." As I put God first and fell in love with him again, as I continued to find great delight in being in his presence, so many things around me changed. Deep in my heart I desired to travel more and suddenly we were being asked to go places and teach. I hoped for more space to live in and God brought us a bigger home! Literally, the owners called us and asked US to move into their home and we pay less now than we were paying in rent before! I wanted to raise another child and God made that possible! The money I was no longer making began to show up effortlessly in other ways. I'm telling you when you set your heart to know God it is the most powerful fulfilling experience ever. I enjoy and appreciate the amazing things God has given me, but it all now pales in comparison to encountering him and he is now establishing in me a real kingdom like the one Christ died for. I just want to challenge you, maybe you need a new lease on life. Maybe you once felt a passion and devotion that has dwindled down to almost nothing. Its time to clear the roster and hit reset. Maybe you're like me and have filled your life with so many good things that theirs no room left at the end of the day to enjoy God or even know what he's up too in your life. Its time to place God first. Or maybe you're trying so hard seeking things, but nothing is happening. Seek God, find JOY in Him FIRST and just you wait and see what he does for you. The time is now friends to put all things under him. Because more than anything else he just wants to come close to you. You can have so many things in this life, but if you don't have love, you have nothing (1 Cor. 13:2) I'm challenging you to take a look at your daily life and ask yourself if God is truly first. And if the answer is no, then its time to fall in love again.

xoxo Sharon









Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Unspecials

I woke up this morning wanting to tell you a story, but more importantly wanting to expose a pattern that not only has happened in my own life, but I believe perhaps your life as well. My hope is that after you read this, your eyes and mind would be open to some truths and that you would walk in more freedom than you do even now. Because Jesus Christ died, that we might be free.

I wanted to talk to you about the misery of feeling unspecial, about the price you pay for believing this lie. In a world saturated with social media its like everyone's in a universal competition. Comparing gifts and beauty and in this game their is always a winner and a loser. How many times have you exited out of your app with this foggy since of, wow.... and somehow our souls have picked up a funny interpretation of believing we are perhaps not as special as someone else. These devices have become both a tool and a weapon. But more often I believe they slowly erode us of truth about ourselves. Luckily I was born in the 80's, before smart phones and apps. But even then the enemy was on the move to deceive us, those who would call themselves children of God. If he couldn't rob us from our families, or from our sincere love for God, then another plan would need to be executed. One where we would be free to love God and enter his kingdom, but the concept of reaching our full potential or believing we had a purpose and irrevocable gifts would need to be aborted. I call that plan, "the un-specials."

Now the seed of believing you are unspecial or not important can come from anywhere and anyone but its important to remember that it isn't really them, or that thing as much as it was an opportunity for the devil to lie to you. Mine didn't come from facebook or Instagram but actually from moments and conversations with my parents, whom love me and also serve the Lord. I'll share with you one of my earliest memories of this.

I may have been about 12 when my family was leaving a Walmart about 25 miles from where we lived. My mom, dad, older brother and younger sister were all walking out to our car bags in tow and I remember feeling tense from the chilly air as we made the long walk to where we had parked. The mood was light and playful and it wasn't often this happened or that we were all together. My dad worked 40-60 hrs a week as a school bus driver and in the evenings was working on his degree to give us a better life. At some point one of us kids asked, "tell us about when you decided to have kids!" All 3 of us slightly giddy to hear the mystery of our parents life before us. My mom said "Well, when we got married I was already in my 30's and we had tried a few years without becoming pregnant, when an evangelist came to our church and said I would have a son, a few weeks later we were pregnant. Now your sister (who's younger than me by 3 years) your father and I had decided to give it another shot, we wanted just one more child and this would be it. He was so set and sure of having another boy that when you were born, and a girl, he still gave you the name Timothie. (that's right people, my younger sisters first name is Timothie, but we called her by her middle name Daniel or Danni most times.) My story was next, and although she giggled when she told it, little did she know that the devil would take these words and often retell me this story for most of my life and remind me of my place in the world and how I had got here. She said " and you, you were the result of your father being cheap.  I told him we needed protection but he didn't buy any, and then you were born." I played that statement over in my head the whole drive home.And although I knew I was a person who was enjoyed, I took on the identity of being unimportant. My brother was basically prophesied into existence and my sister was so ordained to be a woman that although they thought she would be a boy she is in fact female and would make our family "complete" But me, I wasn't that. And I started to see the beauty in other peoples lives and not in the potential of my own.

Another time I was about 16. My dad was out back in our yard working and we'd had the summer Olympics' playing in our house most evenings. It really got me dreaming. Could I be a swimmer? A gymnast? I loved movies with ice-skater's in it. Could I become a beautiful dancer or figure skater one day? I went out to the yard to ask my dad what was possible. And to each of my hopes of the future he replied with a no. I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the whole Midwest. Our town had 197 people in it and I graduated with maybe 40 people in my class, most of which I grew up with since kindergarten. The closest real town was 8-12 miles away, the nearest city was almost 2 hours and hope was not something that grew here. As an adult I know this wasn't said with the intention to take away dreams. It just wasn't realistic or doable, but unfortunately nothing else took its place. I don't believe you should tell someone they can become and do anything, but I do believe in telling someone to be the best at what they are naturally good at and to excel at their gifts. But I simply stopped asking and hoping about my future. I accepted my situation. I once again took on the identity of having an unimportant future. That is until one day I sat on my front porch and I listened to God. I truly lived in the middle of nowhere. No resources, no potential I knew of, very little hope of a life any more than maybe becoming a teacher. My only other options were selling drugs, farming or to shack up with someone, get pregnant, live in a trailer someplace and receive assistance from the government. Seriously! So I decided teacher. And as I was telling God my sad story feeling truly hopeless he began to tell me a different story. About a future full of hope. About a life of adventure, without limits. That I was his daughter, he was a rich King and how I would never lack any good thing. "I will show you some of the most beautiful places in the world!" He said. I had never even left my state before. It was unimaginable. How God? What do I need to do to live like this? And the same reply Jesus gave his disciples still remains for me and for you. He said, "Follow me."

Now after saying all that, I was in no way an insecure person. I never have been. Its not that I think I'm better than anyone else although some might accuse me of that. I've just always enjoyed myself. I like me. I like my personality. I like my humor. I like how I think, and I like the way I look. Now this may seem strange. I think it might be more typical for people to love their gifts and talents but not love themselves. My feelings were opposite. I love myself but have a hard time acknowledging that I have a purpose and that my gifts are of any value. So you can see how much potential can be wasted, should a believer continue to believe the lies that what God has given them is not good, is not valuable, is not important. How many gifts have died along with a person I wonder? How many children of God have lived a "happy" typical life and died only to read in heaven the story of their lives and the potential God had placed inside of them. How many cemeteries are full of the wisdom the world needed, the books for shaping our children or the leadership that went completely untapped. How many pictures went unpainted,business's and buildings undeveloped and children were never adopted not because of bad events or evil things, but because you couldn't accept that you were capable, that your gift was needed, that you were important. So as followers of Christ we believed a lie from hell over Gods truth. Because as a man thinks, so he is.  I don't know about you but when I die, I want to die empty. Not full of all my untouched potential.

You need to know God does not make mistakes. You are here for a reason, to know Gods Crazy love for you, accept it and his Word as absolute truth for your life and to use the gift he's given you. Many people are afraid to die, but a true believer does not fear death for to be absent from this earth means we are with the one we love finally, face to face. But for every believer reading this you should be afraid of living a typical life, being wasted never knowing who God is, who you are, and what he created you to accomplish. For each of us has a work to finish. Life is not determined to be complete or full simply because of your age, particularly being of old age. It is determined by its fullness. Jesus finished his work and was only 33. Remember him saying to the Father as he died "It is finished." what was finished? The work the father sent him to do. But then you have Abraham, whos work didn't even begin until he was of old age. So then what is our work? I believe it is to represent and establish the Kingdom of God on earth by using your gift. Now what is your gift? well... what is that thing you're good at that no one needed to teach you how to do? Take a fish for instance. No other fish teaches a fish how to swim. It just does. No horse attends a seminar on how to run, they just can. No one has ever taught me how to write or tell stories, and yet I started journaling when I was in the second grade. No one taught me to do that. It was just natural. Its my gift. In my home growing up we never had people over, never had anyone stay with us, never had company for dinner, EVER! And yet I am excellent at hosting and being hospitable. It is very natural. It is a gift. I use these two gifts particularly for the kingdom by being available to lend and host really whenever and I am using my gift to write now by sharing with you what God is revealing to me. So what is your gift? Not your plan to be good at or desire to do well but your gift? The bible says "many are the plans of man, but it is His purposes that will prevail." Your gift has purpose. So you can choose to pick a career and waste tones of time and money on something that is not your gift, but your gift will give you meaning. It will give you life and your job most likely will not. By all means work, but don't neglect your gift, Because when you use your gift you activate a part of God inside of you that will be life giving. I've never been paid to write, yet i've been working on this happily since about 8am this morning and when I step away to warm up a drink my spirit is alive, because I have activated my gift. Is this making any sense? Now is the time, for Christ followers to reject the lies of the enemy, to stop being entangled in his traps and call yourself and your gifts good! When people would tell me I had a gift to write I would reject that. "No, not me. I'm not that special, my brother is special and my husband is certainly special but no, not be." and this would work because I thought I was being "humble" but it was really deception once again. It is possible to be humble, like Christ was, and yet totally own your identity, your calling, your purpose, your position as sons and daughters of a king! As heirs to a kingdom!

Stop comparing your gifts to others.God gave each child a gift that pleased him and said to us do what you wish with this gift, but I promise i'll never take it away from you. And most of us not only never use our gift, but when someone else is using theirs and blessed in doing so we actually despise them! Were so jealous! In our wicked hearts we hope they fail but really why we feel that way is because we know we want to do the same and succeed, but have lacked the courage to try. We comfort ourselves and our flesh when others don't succeed, because now their is no higher standard to call ourselves too.

So now what can you do? Start to think about what you're thinking about. Are you unhappy? Do you find your mind comparing your life to others or when you have a good idea your mind starts to list 100 reasons why it'll never work? Begin daily renewing your mind with the Word of God. You don't even have to understand everything and it'll still begin to change your way of thinking. Also i'd encourage you to present yourself to God and ask him, has their been a place in my life where I have accepted things about myself that are not true? If yes please show me. Then shut up and wait. He WILL bring to your mind moments and memories where a bad seed was sown. Say Father I reject this untruth about myself or about what I thought you were like. Heal this place in me that I might move forward in your truth. He will then give you the correct thought about who you are and who he is. If you've been reading his Word the Spirit inside you will find the truth you've read and present it to you. Believe that what he says about you is true! It so important that you change your mind about yourself. That was truly the only change that took place in my life. You can change jobs, relationships, houses and yet feel no real change in your life because your mind is no different. That's why the Egyptians wandered around for 40 years. The were set free from slavery but in their minds they were still slaves. Moses had a huge task. Not just the moment of deliverance but the commitment to helping these people begin to start thinking as free people and as Gods children. That's why we have the Holy Spirit. Because although in a moment Christ died and we went from death to life in him, our Father new the process would take time and be messy. Our helper, our counselor Holy Spirit is with us for that job, and, duh.... he left a book. "The owners manual" I like to call it. If you're serious about real change and real renewal you've got to read your bible. Bottom line. He is the creature, I am his product, who I am and how I'm meant to function is in that book and my job is to agree, let him fix me and then operate and see what happens.

Think about your thoughts. Ask God what your gifts are. Use them.Stop being jealous of others and own your own life! As an 18 year old on that front porch I could have never dreamed of the life Gods given me. Not just the opportunities and the earthly blessings but the continuous renewal of life and potential,but the vast freedom I live in. What joy and life would have been lost had I never listened. Had I never accepted and agreed.What potential would have wasted away in the "American dream" if I hadn't chose to believe you God.
Father I love you. I give you this gift you've given me and I ask that your truth would come into our hearts setting us free from all lies.

Be free in Jesus name.
Sharon

Photo by the always amazing www.rivkahfineart.com


Friday, December 1, 2017

God Gave Us Wisdom

Daniel 6:23
....."and when they had lifted Daniel from the den, they found no wound on him, for he had trusted the Lord"

Its been 5 weeks since our "interrupted adoption." That's what the paper work says when a placement is not completed or was unsuccessful. The weeks to follow consisted of a lot of quietness. My soul was wounded and even when I thought I was fine, displaced hurt and pain would slowly begin to leak from my heart and before its poison could escape my lips I would run. To my car, to Ferrill's office, to my house and I would pour out my sorrow at his feet. Laying down the "why", waiting, waiting, waiting... letting his peace wash over me. "I trust you Lord" was all I could ever say, and then start another day.

A night or two after the call about our "interrupted adoption" Finley climbed into our bed and laid on me like a tired child who had finally given up. "Mom, I just want to be a sister so bad." Her disappointed voice shattering my heart into a galaxy. With tears oozing from my eyes but with a steady sure voice I said "I know Finley, and you will be the best big sister ever one day." I said it because I knew it was the truth, but what I didn't know was when that would happen. When we started She wasn't even 2 yet, and here she laid fully stretched out no longer our baby at all and I just didn't have any answers. What I thought I knew had shifted and we'd decided after the holidays, after we closed the book to this year, we would find the courage to start again.  I carried her sad heart to bed and ached inside for many things and many reasons. I placed tiny boy things inside a rubber tub and slid them under our bed. I needed it out of immediate sight and yet not far away. My flesh was always ready to call it quits and yet my spirit remained pregnant with expectancy. Clean laundry now filled the crib in our bedroom and every morning in my closet when I dressed I'd see our packed diaper bag lifeless on the top shelf. "We're ready Lord. Whenever the time is right, we're ready." 

We'd made last minute changes to go to NC for Thanksgiving and It was just what our hearts needed. Family, joy and rest. I guess I could have done without the 11 hour drive back from all the holiday travelers. Finley learned how to signal truckers to honk on the interstate and the laughter it brought us unloaded much of our heaviness.

The next day at lunch time I missed a call from our agent here in town. 12:47 to be exact. Then a text to please call when I could. My heart dropped into my stomach having a flash back from these same sequence of events just a few short weeks before. I walked out onto the front  lawn to return her call. " Are you and Ferrill together?" Ugh- another flashback. "No-Its Monday. Why?" I cant even begin to explain just how unprepared I was for this next part. "I'm calling because I have a baby girl, in my arms now, who is ready for placement."

I held my breath as I listened to all the information. Premature, born at 25 weeks, survived and released after 2 months, skin like Finley's etc. etc. etc....you can come now and meet her if you want." I called Ferrill in the offices just like I had 4 years ago, "Lets go met our daughter!" And off we went. Our future was only 8 miles away, and with every minute that passed it was like weights were being unloaded from our hearts. Today was THE day and their wasn't a fear or a worry anywhere in sight.

When we met her, it felt like shed been ours forever. It was this instant feeling of "this is right" In a moment I knew I now had 2 daughters and my mind could never go back to seeing things before this. Before her.  If joy could have fueled a rocket we could have ridden one to the moon and back.  As a legal precaution we didn't take her home with us right then but that day, Monday November 27th was the day we peeked behind the vail and Gods perfect plan was made known to us. Even now it doesn't feel real. Our case worker said "I don't know anyone else who has ever had 2 babies come suddenly like yours have." I cant believe it. Even now as I write this I cant comprehend what has happened. Consider our hearts and our minds blown into pieces. A million beautiful, perfect, redeeming pieces.

Finley came home from school the following day. I could hear her voice asking grandma "what is the surprise?" the sound of her soft gasp as she walked into our room and saw me holding her. "Mom... is this my sister?' and finally, after 22 months I muttered to her one of the greatest words a heart could ever hear, and the sweetest gift God could ever give. Yes.

Paper work has been signed but we do have a few loose ends.  Unfortunately some funds were lost in the previous "interrupted adoption" We have a short grace period to recover about $5,000. But seriously, the waiting is over and we know that money is the least of these things in the kingdom. For those who has sown may your cup overflow! And for those who are looking for the right place to give, I have no shame in saying let it be in us.

I leave with you the same words my dad left with me a few weeks ago. Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up. This is who we are.

2 Corinthians 1:20 "All his promises are yes and amen."

All our love
Ferrill, Sharon, Finley & Quinn (which means wisdom)

To Give:
www.nlcf.org Click "giving" sign in and specify "adoption fund" OR find us under Gallaway adoption on www.gofundme.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Shipwrecked

On Friday morning I got a text from our agent. "When you and Ferrill are together, please give me a call" Ferrill was on a day trip hunting, no doubt out until after dark and most likely without reception.  I decided to call her myself, too eager to hear the news that it was time! She had delivered and we were now only awaiting our invitation to move forward with all our arrangement's. Months of visits, emails, deep heart to heart conversations about the future and hundreds of pieces of paperwork had led us to this point. I was so ready. Not an ounce of fear resided in my heart, hope and joy had fully disarmed me. So you can only imagine how I felt as she apologized over and over as she expressed that nothing quit to this extreme had every happened to them before, not since the establishment of their agency, or in her "63 years of life or career as a social worker" for some reason that phrase stuck with me, but so much of the rest is now a blur. I hung up the phone sitting in my bedroom floor, my back leaning up against the crib we'd set up only a week or so ago. I felt completely numb and my body began to lightly tremble as shock began coursing through my veins. This was my greatest concern, this moment happening to me now. I started to worry for my husband, knowing this bomb was about to hit him next. "Lord don't leave me" was all I could muster as I began to cry. I cant believe this is happening again, and I feel that familiar presence of grief and sorrow lay its heavy coat on my back.

Ferrill did have reception and rushed home, texting me often, "I'm 30 minutes away... I'm on Hodges now.... 10 minutes from you...." and I stood in the kitchen starring out our back window slowly sipping a glass of something. I think it was water. He walked through the front door and we met each others eyes as if to say "Ahhh, I remember you, my friend. The one I did this with almost 5 years ago." These are the moments known by God when you repeat for better or for worse. It felt familiar and sad, as we held each other close and cried, and said I'm sorry, accepting our loses together. I'm thankful Finley was in school, we'd have about 45 min now to put our brave faces on. I had such an urgency to be with her, as if suddenly someone was trying to hurt us and I needed only for us all to be together. I needed to feel safe and comforted. I needed to be with my family. I needed to hear the joy of her voice and all the innocence she possesses. I needed something familiar since our futures had now shifted.

The rest of the day was so simple. Hours in sunshine park playing, building a teepee out of sticks, Smash Burger and then the fatigue from it all came over us. Ferrill fell asleep on our bed and I sat on the back porch writing. I wanted to remember this moment, because I know it wont be forever and I want to be able to look back and be encouraged at all God has done when he redeems us once again. I don't remember how Finley got to bed that night. Did I taker her? Did she dress herself? Where had I been. I honestly don't even know, I just remember seeing the clock say 3:48am when grief came into my room again and I started to weep uncontrollably. It was the same kind of sorrow as when my mom had her stroke almost 2 years ago. That realization that your identity is changing, things will never be again as they once were and the dread of dealing with it all. Ferrill rolled over putting his hands on my side. We never said a word. We just waited for it to pass. We waited for it to let me go. I guess around 7am I fell back to sleep.

I spent most of day 2 hearing all the voices speak, trying to cast their wicked seeds of pain and destruction. "Give up. You aren't meant to be a mom. If you were a good mom why would God make it so hard for you? Why do you try so hard to stay devoted to God when this keeps happening. Why does he skip you over and over again? You may have come back from the loss once before, but you'll never come back from this one. Be joyful in hope... what a sick joke. What a cruel God to deliver you from caution and wisdom and hand you over to disappointment like this. You cant really hear him you know. I wonder what you did wrong. Don't trust. Be angry. Look at all the hurt you've caused your friends and family to feel and deal with now." But with each stone thrown at me, a rock greater was thrown back. Since June I have faithfully been reading an hour a day in the Word and 1-3 hours of teaching. I was ready to cast off this heavy burden, and so I returned fire, "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at just the right time we will reap a reward if we do not give up! No one who's hope is in the Lord will be put to shame! To the faithful He is faithful!" And it wasn't just phrases I had memorized... it was absolute truth I felt at the core of who I am. Suddenly a great harvest was taking over and I labored most of the day until my own contractions had subsided and perfect peace became mine. Not only did I feel peace, I actually started to feel joy. Not a "I'm unstable and having an emotional break down" kind of thing, but a real joy and true stability. "This isn't real" The voices made one last hurdle. "Deep prolonged Sorrow is inevitable. The road will be treacherous and awful!" But I only needed to say one last thing. "Even though my sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning." And with that one last push it was finished. I will deal with the practical stuff as it comes, but I will not deal with this or tolerate being lied too. I am loved. I will never give up on this or turn my affections from him. My faith will not be shipwrecked. I choose to trust him, and I choose joy.

So last night I took a 2 hour bath washing away the pain, ate chocolate cake and I laughed a lot before sleeping like a baby.The only dread I face now is sharing all this with you, your own sadness for us, your own process, and keeping at bay your questions and pity. I'm not trying to be tough here, I'm not denying myself of the real loss or trying to be some fake hero, but I am choosing something greater. May we all learn to tighten our belts of truth a little tighter and not grow weary. Let us lift up our eyes to the One who is greater and make this declaration. Onward.

His peace I leave with you
Sharon


Friday, September 22, 2017

Waiting On Baby

I'm sorry to say I have fallen way way behind on my updates. So much began to happen, so much suspense that I almost couldn't figure out where or how to even begin. If you follow us on Facebook you already know, but in case you missed it, about 6 weeks ago Ferrill and I were matched with an expectant birth-mother! A little boy, due in October.

We believed we were the most unlikely choice in the world for her to make, and yet we were chosen. We were somewhere between Atlanta and Memphis headed to my grandpas funeral, when I took the call from our agency. We were getting pretty used to phone calls and emails of let downs, that when they called and I offered to put it on speaker phone Ferrill said not to even bother. So the look of shock and awe on his face was priceless when I covered the bottom on my phone while she spoke and mumbled quietly to Ferrill, "She picked us!" We hung up the phone and cried tears of joy, and relief that something was finally happening. Although it had been 18 months since we started the process again, the past 9 had been totally quiet, but then suddenly. The story of our lives.

At first I felt very hesitant in sharing our news. We had made arrangement's to meet the birth-mother in person the Tuesday we returned back to town, since it was a local Jacksonville agency that had matched us. One thing I can 100% tell you was the Lord was putting a supernatural love for the woman in my heart just as much as he had for a new child. My friend Brittany and I were driving over the inter-coastal when she told me that she was expecting her second. And when we pulled into town center later that evening for a surprise party I remember standing in the parking lot telling her that God was doing something unique in my heart. I knew this time I wouldn't just be adopting a baby but a family.(remember that Britt?)  So it was no surprise to us when Tuesday she expressed her hope to have a very open adoption with her son. Our hearts were already totally on board.

So that brings us to now. Six weeks ago we were still in need of $13,000 for funding and now we only need about $3,000! We moved into a new house only about 4 weeks ago, and of course hurricane IRMA also made a flashy appearance. Other than a few trees and some shingles we're fine, but the weeks to follow we have been focused on meeting the needs of dear friends and our community. The birth-mother and I email weekly, we visit bi-weekly and we feel very strongly she is utilizing the resources provided to her by the agency. It is a VERY VERY good situation and both she and her child are healthy and doing well as we begin our countdown to D-day. During the past few weeks I've had to process many emotions, mostly stemming from old hurts, fears and disappointments. I listen to her express her sureness of her decision to place, I look at ultrasounds of this baby, and I'm asked so often if we'll be having a baby shower, what his name will be and a voice in my mind always says to me "I've been here before, with a boy, and she did not place. I've looked at ultrasounds, fallen in love and not received him. I've had a room full of blue baby things that I gave away when it didn't happen." And you know what.... I've just had to accept the reality that yes that could happen again.But how can I possibly remember the bad without also remembering the good! Yes, over 4 years ago my heart was broken, but it was also one of the most beautiful times I've ever experienced with the Lord. I would not have my daughter now if that loss never took place.And as nervous as I rightfully am I'm also wildly reminded of Gods faithfulness and his perfect timing! His care and kindness for me remains unmatched and I have decided to try my hardest to move forward, joyful in hope! God says whoever puts their trust in him will not be disappointed. God has never once disappointed us when our hope has remained in him, that he sees and knows, and will make things work out for our good. So we hope and trust in his plans, and his goodness! Amen!



My dad a few weeks ago said something so beautiful to me that really impacted my heart. He said "You know I've had a lot of disappointments in my life over the years, but some of the things I regret the most was not hoping for things, when their was good reason to hope.That time meant for joy and expectation was lost to worry or fear. Parenting isn't just about receiving your child, its also in the anticipation of the unknown. Sharon I know you're nervous. We've all lost things hoped for. I'm not saying you should share all the details of whats going on, but cling to every word of God, that he will do everything he has shared with you he will do. If you believe in your heart this is from him, that this is it, guard that hope at all cost, and trust in him." 

So that's were I'm at.  Nothing in adoption is done until 24-48 hours after birth and she signs paperwork transferring his custody and care over. But I'm doing my best to not be afraid. I'm choosing to have hope that this boy will become our son and in a few short weeks, maybe sooner, we will all know.

Thank you to everyone who has given to make this possible! What a joy it is to work through many details of this process without also needing to dwell too much on money. You all have continued to love our growing family so well, and we are forever in debt to your love. We just got a notification from go fund me that they have turned away some giving due to some errors on our end. We apologize for this and ask that should you still wish to bless us, that you try again.

Well everyone- I believe this is it. When you hear from us again, we hope to be a family of 4. (Oh did I mention our son would be interracial? Your welcome for that little sneak peek of information. Please excuse me while I squeal. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!) Oh Jesus, you're just the best! Lets do this crazy thing.

Love
Sharon

https://www.gofundme.com/gallaway-adoption

Monday, August 14, 2017

It came -It Passed

June 26th 2017 I had this dream.

In the dream I was crying. A family member had passed away, hope was still being deferred and I was at such a point of despair and discouragement. And an angel of the Lord whom I could not see but only heard said to me " And then it came to pass. It came-and it passed. Just as all things will, but their is a greater thing to learn and receive than what you hope for now. Set your heart and your faith on the giver of these things, that in whatever may come to pass, you know truth."

This dream would become the center of my focus even until right now. I thought so much about that phrase "come to pass" how wonderful and yet, disappointing that the "thing" whatever it may be at the time placed in my heart, how it will come, so that it can also pass. This phrase is mentioned 396 times in the bible, and 453 times if you remove the word AND. I think back at so many moments when my heart was fixed on the anticipation and hope of moments, and the joy of their delivery, and the strangeness of there passing, just to have another new "thing" come along. Like even now. The hope I had for my daughter, the great joy at her arrival, and now the new season of life that has changed and begun. Today is her first day of Pre-K. Lord their must be more to life than just moments. And their is.

The last 6 weeks have been the richest season I have ever had with the Lord. After the dream I set my heart to know the giver. "But how God? How can I know you more?" And my personal instructions were this. "When you speak to me, do not ask me to do anything, and do not complain." Easy. I assumed. Turns out I didn't speak to God for 3 days! I had no clue just how much of my "relationship" with God consisted of me complaining, and asking. And slowly a new conversation began to take shape. With this instruction came another to commit to reading and studying the Word at least 1 hour a day, with additional time of listening to the Word through teaching. Now I love that we do not serve a religious God, but one of relationship, and so I'm not sharing this to tell you some formula, but to express that I asked and he told me what I could do differently to know him more. It didn't take much discipline to do it, rather it took a shift in my priorities. A serious pursuit to feed my very hungry soul. And in doing so I have never felt more alive. So full. I'm telling you their have been nights I have gone to bed pondering a revelation of his love that had me in tears, and when I woke up it was still their, that tangible wonder of him, his love, his plan for us as his. I say this because I hear this word "destiny" everywhere I go. Everyone is searching. Looking. Empty. Hoping for things to come-that will pass, and searching again. Your destiny is to know God. Not know of him, but to KNOW him, and to be known by him. It. Is. Possible.

When God created the universe for your pleasure he would meet with Adam and Eve in the garden. Their was no discussing the work week. No expression of lack or talk of need. God created us as human "beings" and yet we find our identity in being doers. Out of that relationship comes tasks and yes, things to be accomplishing through him, BUT it should always be from that place of overflow with him, that we do good. When I was reading that verse in Revelations (3 vs 20) that says "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." I had always thought of that verse as being the opportunity for salvation, but then the Lord showed me that this was an invitation for us all, each day. That often he visits the heart of his children giving opportunity for us to respond to him. To invite him in to partake of more. I want the more- I want the daily intimacy of him. I want to know what it means to really love him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind (Matthew 22:37)

I have no real goal of why I'm sharing this blog post today, other than to express the opportunity that's available to have a life that feels alive, and full. Adventurous and never dull. Father provoke our hearts once again, that we may respond to your unfailing love.

Id like to just share with you briefly that our friend Stephanie has returned full time to work! (read the past 2 posts to know what happened) Her body continues to heal but it is my great joy to tell you she is well and full of the goodness of God. If you pass her in the hall ways at church, you should ask her to show you the side by side images of her eyesight before and after surgery. It is incredible to see what God did!

ALSO... both our trips to India are fully paid for! The morning we were going to be buying our tickets a woman called me and shared," I feel like this is the amount God told me to sow into your trip." It was the exact cost of our tickets. 5 others gave to me personally to fund the rest, and if you are reading this (you know who you are) please let me express how thankful I am for your generosity, and kindness. Surely the Lord has a reward for those who give to his kingdom and his servants, a principle I'm sure you know well since your hearts were so eager to give.

In the last 4-6 weeks Ferrill and I have driven almost 5,000 miles. I know this because of that cute tiny sticker they put on your windshield after an oil change. We have traveled to The Dominican Republic and Alabama for outreach. To Miami twice to meet the consulate for visas for Brazil, to Georgia and Saturday we returned home from driving 16 hours each way to Missouri for my grandfathers funeral. I was reminded of 2 things while I stood on that hilltop overlooking the cemetery, a gentle breeze soothing my soul. That ALL of Gods words, which are his promises are yes & amen. When my grandpa (who passed at 87) was in his early 20's he needed to have both kidneys removed,they had calcified after being kicked by a horse, injuring him terribly. Before surgery he told me, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said not to worry, that he would live to see his grandchildren. Turns out he was born with a 3rd kidney that would last him his lifetime, and not only would it be 30 years before that promise would be fulfilled, but the Lord would even exceed that goodness, and grant him the joy of 2 great grandchildren.

I also thought of how salvation came to my family through adoption. My grandpa, adopted as an infant, came to know Christ after his parents 10 years later accepted Christ. And I sat there by his side, hearing my own daughters laughter as she played about. Taking in the reality of an eternal life, full of Gods promises, and thankful, considering it our privilege that the Lord has called us to adopt.


I am a prisoner of hope. Trapped in a mighty fortress.
Eager to share with you again soon, a new story.

Sharon