Let God Shatter the Silence

Isn't he handsome?
He's been counting down the days for months and frankly we have too. My nephew, Dylan, is coming for his annual week-long visit. While he's here we'll go to "Bible Land" as he calls it. You might refer to it as VBS but Dylan has a unique way of naming things.

Dylan was diagnosed with autism 14 years ago. Maybe your son, grandson or good friend's child has just received the same and you're wondering if there's hope. I'm a guest today at Encouragement Cafe. I'd like to invite you to visit there and read a bit of Dylan's story

Let God shatter the silence.

Does Fear Have a Finger on You?

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4

The summer of 1980, Fish might have been a more appropriate name for me than Shannon. In fact, my family of origin calls my Shanny, which happens to be a type of fish so perhaps I was destined for the water. 

Me at 10 -
Please take note of my
super foxy Dr. Seuss suit!
Long days were spent at my town's public swimming pool. I thought my mom was the coolest because we had a membership, a snack bar account and she would drop me off unsupervised. I could swim, tan and chat with friends for as many hours as I wanted. To my ten year old brain, I'd landed in heaven. 

One ordinary afternoon as I plunged to the bottom of the pool, my jaw locked in the mouth open position. A tsunami of terror flooded my water logged heart. Putting my face in the water lost much of its allure that day.

Fish became a Fraidy Cat.

A year in high school of the oh-so-attractive head gear corrected my jaw alignment. I still didn't put my face in the water.

In college, I was placed in the lowest swimming group. I still didn't put my face in the water.

Just last Sunday I swam laps for an hour in our community pool. I used the back stroke and side stroke exclusively so I didn't have to put my face in the water.

No fear remains in my heart but I have allowed fear's fingers to shape my behavior.

Does fear have a finger on you?

It's possible to overcome a fear of commitment and yet remain non-committal.

It's feasible to conquer a fear of abandonment and still tend toward isolation.

It's likely to beat a fear of the unknown and continue to avoid new places and people.

Fear can finger us long after we think we've grown beyond its' reach. Next Sunday I'll return to our community pool for another hour's swim. I've already decided to live beyond fear's reach. I will rely on Him as I swim. In His strength I will swim with my face in the water. I will swim because as I pass through the water, He will be with me. (Isaiah 43:2)

Does fear have a finger on you? How could His hand free you from fear's finger?

When my Heart Calls Speak Different Languages

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Genesis 11:1-9

The girls in 2010 as Construction Workers.
"Mommy, I want to be fire fighter girl, a hair cutter girl and a swimming helper girl. I'll just do a different job every day of the week. That will work, right?"

If only life were that simple. My life as a wife, mom, house keeper, lover, cook, speaker, chauffeur, organizer, runner, party planner, writer, technology guru... feels like a jumbled mess of competing priorities some days. Just as Carynne hears the whispers of her heart to a variety of interests, I long to fill my various roles with enthusiasm and excellence. 

Life is complicated.

My desire to spend time with my husband wars with my need to live in a relatively straight house.

My longing to be physically intimate with him battles with my need to sleep. 

My hope to pour laughter and life into my daughters' days takes up arms against my need for the quiet necessary to exercise my gift of writing.

Sometimes I feel like the calls of my heart speak a hundred different languages. It reminds of the Old Testament account of the Tower of Babel. What a surprise it must have been to Babel's occupants when suddenly they could no longer understand each other.

As I child I missed the importance of why God intervened in their linguistics. Without it, they had no need of Him.

If my days were all easy, organized and check list perfect, I would have no need of Him. My heart speaks different languages so I will seek the One who interprets every emotion and encounter. 

In Babel, He may have scattered the people across the earth. But in my language confusion He gathers my heart to His. This moment I may be a writer. The next I might be counselor, comforter or cook. My life is complicated. My heart calls speak different languages but the Interpreter is always with me. My heart has no need for confusion.

What priority friction causes you the most angst? How could God interpret your priorities today and allow your heart to speak one language - love?

Compassion Conquers Comparisons

Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.
Psalm 103:4

Handsome didn't begin to describe my youth group crush. All sense and strength drained from my body any time he entered the room. I tried to play it cool as my stomach played hockey. He was crossing the room with a bead on me.

"Do you want to go driving after?" 

What girl could resist such romance? I tried to offer a non-committal, "Sure," but knew my eyes likely betrayed my excitement. I must have counted to sixty a thousand times before he headed for the door. I sheepishly followed after.

He was one of those cool guys with a cool car built for two but with a minuscule back seat in which one could squeeze on an emergency basis only. Another girl was already standing by my car. What in the world was this? He asked me out.

When Mr. Dreamy arrived at his stud-mobile, he offered the cramped back seat to me and the prime real estate to Miss Moving-in-on-my-Man. A short drive later we were at the Alabama equivalent to Happy Days' Inspiration Point.

I was ordered out of the car. I sat on the back bumper as the windows fogged and the bumper began a rhythmic, albeit short-lived dance.

Humiliation seeped out and shrouded me in shame. 

I was nothing but a cover for Mr. Dreamy to pursue the girl he found worthy. I wasn't her. I was passed over. Unnoticed. Tossed aside.

I immediately drew comparisons between myself and Miss Shannon-You-Never-Had-a-Chance. She was well endowed; I wore two deflated balloons. She was flirtatious and fun; I was studious and serious. 

Do you ever draw comparisons between yourself and others?

When you see a mom with well-behaved children do you secretly wish you were less fun and more of a disciplinarian?

When you see a man who advanced quickly in his career do you try to guess the recipe of his success?

Comparisons are a losing proposition. We see the finish line not the pit stops along the way.

The woman with so-called perfect children may have pit stops such as kids who lack confidence, assertiveness and decision-making skills.

The man with the fast track may have pit stops such as compromising his values or ignoring his wife and kids.

Miss Chesty had many pit stops along the route of her life. They weren't pretty. They weren't desirable. They were tragic. 

A moment I thought of as humiliation was actually a crown of God's compassion and love. My purity was saved for another day. Eventually I would learn I didn't need a man to certify my beauty. I allowed the One who still inspires me to pull my life from the pit. He shrouded me in love and compassion. He compared me to no one and loved me exactly as He designed. His compassion conquered my comparisons. 

Have you ever been in the pit of comparison? How could God's love and compassion pull you out today?

This Weekend is One to Remember

A righteous (woman) will be remembered forever.
Psalm 112:6

It sits in the back of my closet as stoic as Buckingham's guard. Armored in plastic. Dressed in ordinary. Dutiful always. But it beckons tears, laughter and sighs. Its' formal name is Memory Bin but you can just call him Morrie. 

This weekend we remember. 

Some of Morrie's Treasures:
1. Carynne's Pirate Hand - Age 3
2. Clara's Button Cross - Age 3
3. Hayleigh's self-portrait - Age 7
4. Hannah as a Snowman - Age 7
We recall the sacrifice of boys who didn't play enough football and saw far too much tragedy.

We recount the smell of Grandma's cookies and Grandpa's tough, quiet demeanor.

Inside Morrie lie treasures that hold no meaning for you but spell delight for me. They are unique, personal valuables. Some treasures, though, can not be held in any thing. They are tucked in the folds of our hearts.

The burst of a raspberry on my tongue ushers me away to the magical spaces of my grandparent's kitchen. 

The sound of an organ floats me to the top of their stairs.

A glimpse of a Scrabble board implores me to join them in the parlor.

Someday I will be gone. Nothing can alter that reality. What remains may get tucked into a box named Morrie or Mary but the real treasure takes no space in the attic. It's home is in the heart.

As I celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I want to stitch some more ordinary into the fabric of my home. I want to exchange knowing looks with my husband, laugh with my children and drink in the weekend one hour at the time. 

This weekend will be one to remember.

A Ride of Reckless Abandon

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:7

Me with Hayleigh, February 2012
Last February, I visited Disney World with my second of four daughters for the National Cheerleading Championship. The competition is thrilling. The time spent one on one with my daughter is far more precious.

As we boarded the roller coaster, Space Mountain, Hayleigh asked if could ride together. Could we? That’s like asking if a mom of four has too much laundry to do. You bet!

Space Mountain is a favorite for me. There’s something about speeding through the dark to destination unknown that calls to the adventurer living in my heart. Why then does that same heart bristle when situation unknown lies around the corner of my life?

My Disney experience is relatively safe. I know it will end in 2 ½ minutes and I’ll be greeted by a friendly ride operator who sends me off with wishes for a magical day. The ride offers an identical thrill to thousands day after day.

The life planned by my Creator is individual with twists and turns unique to me. It has periods of indeterminate length in which I’m totally in the dark. What can I do when I’m tempted to scream and ask to be removed from His ride?

 Be still – Worry seeds in my heart and sprouts into fear and doubt. I have seen many a parent soothe the fears of a questioning child in line for an amusement park ride. Reassurance comes most easily when the child stops voicing their fears and listens to the parent’s guidance. When I stop, He quiets my fear and whispers words of encouragement.

 Before the Lord – The same parents who console their children, often stoop down to get eye level with their kids or sweep them into their embrace. When I struggle, I need to get eye to eye with God, press close to His heart and remember He’s looking out for my best interests. When I am before Him, He is what matters, not the unknown factors of my life.

Wait patiently – Like a never-ending queue line, the answers to my questions or uncertainties don’t always come quickly. However, when I’m trapped in a line and take the time to look around me, I notice interesting objects right where I stand. It’s easier to wait patiently when we stop looking at the end of the line and focus on the next step to take instead.

I have no idea if the ride of my life will last another 2 ½ days or decades. What I do know is I want to sit firmly gripped by His grace, belted by His love and ride to the end with my arms thrown up in reckless abandon. 

What thrill could  you experience with God today if You threw your arms up to Him in reckless abandon?

Renumbering Your Life

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:30

What do you think of when you see the word numbers? Do you ponder the scale that mocks you each morning? Does your mind wander to your bank account? All to often we live our life by the numbers. 

What would happen if we transformed our thinking about numbers and began to live by a new standard?

I'm a guest today at Let's Get Real, the blog of Carey Scott. Carey is shaping the landscape of women's lives with authentic transformation, communication and dedication. Join me there today and come back often to visit Carey and experience life lived real with yourself, others and God.

The Name for My Emotions

For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weakness.
Hebrews 4:15

The "Graduate"
I blinked. That's how long it took my youngest to finish preschool. Today is her last day. 

My heart is tumbled with emotions - excitement, nostalgia and sadness. It's like a multi-colored ball of yarn with one wrapped around the others. It's a mixture for which there is no name.

Do you ever feel like you need a cipher to decode the complication of your inner thoughts and feelings? If I could summon Nancy Drew, I would. Something tells me she can't help. There is One who can sympathize with our every weakness. 

Think of the mixture of emotions Jesus felt as He prayed before His betrayal.

Imagine the multitude of thoughts running through His mind as He left heaven for a humble stable.

He knows what it feels like to be conflicted, uncertain and scared. When we need a cipher, we just need to call on His name.

His name calms.

His name revives.

His name is the Name for my every emotion.

Do you have a yarn of emotion within today? How could calling on His name alter the course of your emotions?

Need a Mentor? Get Platform!

Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishing, is one of my mentors. And he has no idea. When I started this daunting journey of life as a speaker and writer, a mentor was one of my constant prayers. God took me by surprise when he filled that need with a number of people, some of whom I've never even met. Michael Hyatt is one of those.

I started reading his blog Intentional Leadership about a year ago. I have made leaps in leadership and productivity as a result. When someone impacts your life is such a significant way, how do find a way to thank them?

Words and even actions aren't adequate, because the well of information Michael has to give is near bottomless. Today is the kickoff for his newest book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. As a part of his launch team, I was given an advance reading copy. This book is the resource I wish I'd had three years ago when I first began writing my blog.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
  • No amount of marketing savvy can overcome a weak product.
  • Write down your dream. This is the act that transforms a dream into a goal.
  • You can either accept reality as it is, or create it is as you wish it to be.
  • Social Media only works well if the communication is personal, authentic and near immediate.
  • Marketing is no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace, it is about participating in a dialogue with fellow travelers.
Perhaps God is growing a dream in you to start a home based business, to make an impact as a speaker, writer or artist or to grow a ministry at your church. Platform will give you step by step instructions to create a wow product and the how to make it successful.

The best part is that if you purchase Platform by Friday you get seven bonus gifts totaling $375.98:
  1. The Platform Video Jumpstart Series (a $179.00 value)
  2. Why Now is the Best Time Ever to be an Author (a $47.00 value)
  3. How to Write a Winning Book Proposal (a $47.00 value)
  4. Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal eBook (a $19.95 value)
  5. Writing a Winning Fiction Book Proposal eBook (a $19.95 value) 
  6. Digital Editions of Platform (a $38.05 value)
  7. Audio Edition of Platform (a $24.99 value)
To claim your free gifts, just purchase your copy from your favorite retailer, email your receipt to gifts@michaelhyatt.com, and confirm your email address.

I am so thankful for Michael's mentorship to me through his writing. He is definitely leaving a lasting imprint on the world. 

If you could leave an imprint on your world, what would want it to say?

The Run to Deep Friendship

Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24

I bought a new pair of running shoes this morning for my distance training run in the morning. New running shoes thrill me because they cushion, propel and intensify my run. New running shoes are like old friends.

It is in the worn tread of life's journeys that friendships grow deep, strong and true. Instead of wearing out your sole, they invigorate your soul. But what if you're like me and you've moved frequently? What if life's circumstances have kept you busy? Is it too late to make old friends?

Anyone can deepen a new friendship into the comfort of years. We just need some new running shoes:


Cushion the blows of life with the pillow of an understanding heart and a listening ear. Be the soft landing place when life knocks your friend off her feet. The security she will feel in your presence will nurture authenticity in your friendship.


Propel your friend to bigger dreams. Envision your friend crossing the finish line of her heart's unspoken desires. Be her biggest cheerleader. Move her forward with encouragement. The inspiration she will capture in your attitude will foster excitement in your relationship.


Intensify your position as giver of grace. Allow your friend to fail without failing your friendship. Fertilize your relationship with a fresh dose of daily grace. The comfort she will experience in your mercy will grow sincerity in your friendship.

Today let's run to get the prize of friendship. The run may be long. We may experience some pain or thirst in the process but as we cushion, propel and intensify we will capture the satisfaction of deep friendship on our run.

Why Worry Isn't Always Wrong

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Matthew 6:27

"I worry about our kids more than I used to." I made this confession to my husband yesterday. I felt like a spiritual failure. Isn't worry in opposition to faith? Shouldn't my faith ever increase?

As God deposited His goodness into my life, my faith increased:

He delivered us from a lengthy legal battle.
He eradicated cancer from my husband's body.
He navigated Scott's career into the ministry.

Am I a spiritual "wimp" because I worry? Not if I worry enough to pray but not enough to paralyze.

When my worry leads me to the feet of Jesus, it centers me.
When my concern causes me to cast my cares on Him, it frees me.
When my anxiety aims me closer to His heart, it fills me with a better thing.

I may worry more about my kids, than I once did but I allow my worry to take me to the One who conquers my cares. Maybe my worry isn't always wrong after all.

Find Your Keys; Lose the Stress

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33

Where are my keys? I was sure I'd placed them in their home base of my purse but in my hurry I couldn't feel them in there. A trip into the house and a bit of stress later, I realized they'd been in my purse all along.

In that moment, I blurted out to God to expand my time. "Maybe it's not more time but more order," was the gentle return in my heart. I was reminded of a book I just read, The Get Yourself Organized Project by Kathi Lipp. Before you run screaming for the door, let me confess I don't typically care for organizational books. I need no extra guilt in my life and those type of publications usually leave me feeling less than in every possible way.

If you're like me and your heart longs for organization not to win the Martha Stewart Homemaker of the Year award but because you desire more time to invest in your family, Kathi wrote this book for you. It's written for mere mortals who need quick, easy ways to declutter and destress.

To celebrate her new book, she's hosting a challenge today called the National Clean Out Your Purse Day.

Interestingly, my purse is one of the places for me that pretty much stays cleaned up, so I provided my personal purse contents for you here:

1. My Coupon Organizer - No I'm not an extreme couponer but I do keep some restaurant, grocery and other coupons handy that I know I'll use.
2. My Slimline New Testament - I'm a bit old fashioned. Even though I know I can read the Bible on my phone sometimes I like to hold the actual thing. Of course reading required use of #5.
3. My Keys
4. My Hand Lotion (Clara gave me a new bottle for Mother's Day)
5. My Reading Glasses
6. My Pen Pouch - I keep pens and pencils handy for check writing, homework, taking notes in church or anything else that comes up.
7. My Sunglasses
8. My Brush
9. My Lipgloss - A girl can never have too many!

That is everything in my purse except a couple items in the inner pockets - my business card holder, my pics of my kids, items for "that" time, gum, mints and my phone, my ear buds and of course my wallet. It makes finding what I need super easy! None of these are hard and fast rules, just a suggestion of what works for me.

I'm also posting a picture of my new purse (it's so cute I couldn't resist.) I only carry one so it matches my hair color. A great tip I got from Shari Braendel

Want to join in the fun? Kathi has tons of great prizes for participants on her webpage. With her easy organizational tips you'll find your keys and lose the stress!

Learning to Fight Well

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:18

My husband pursues conflict. I avoid it. His style is straight forward and direct. Mine is evasive.

I knew early on in our marriage, we would struggle if I didn't learn how to effectively have conflict with my spouse. I had to acknowledge that peacemaking wasn't the absence of conflict it was the ability to work through conflict to a resolution. Committed to the process, I adopted three strategies to aid in the conflict process.


I wake first thing in the morning ready to engage. My hubby drinks the morning in slowly over coffee. If I chose the first moments of my day for discussion, it would be poorly timed. The timing of a talk needs to happen when you are both alert and engaged. For us that's often when we are alone on a walk just after dinner or perhaps while running mid-morning. 


Much of the time I have an even, pleasant tone when interacting with my family. However, conflict tends to make me silent or overly combative. My hubby wants to interact with his spouse - the usual one. I need to select a tone that matches my love and commitment to him. So silence or anger are out.


If I'm feeling grouchy it's not a good time to having a serious discussion. Scott and I adhere to the HALTS principle. If we're hungry, angry, lonely, tired or sick, our temperament is not suited to conflict. Our time will be more effective if we wait until we are on the even keel.

What are some conflict management techniques that have worked for you? Share yours in a comment below!

In honor of my man, I am posting today about the "Man Cave Filler" $600 Cash Giveaway. Enter by clicking the icon below: 

Celebrating You...His Dwelling Place

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,    remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:46-55

How could you not fall in love with that face?
I remember that moment. It was the first moment my heart was truly swept away. I looked into her eyes and fell deeply, madly in love. I called her Hannah in honor of all the women who long for a child. I named her Hannah because I wanted to daily give her back to God. I deemed her Hannah because I knew God had favored me as He would her.

Once a squiggly little one is placed in your arms, they are forever carried in your heart. Today I want to celebrate you. You may be a single father, a childless widow or a mother of six but you should be honored.

As Mother's Day approaches let's look at Mary's words spoken at the news of her pregnancy. God has encouragement for us all through the wisdom of the one chosen to bear His son.

Glorify - "My soul glorifies the Lord." One version says magnifies the Lord. If Jesus lives in you, His presence magnifies His message and brings Him glory. Your heart is a picture of God's love made concrete. Today I celebrate your heart.

Rejoices - "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior." Your spirit is dwelling place for joy. He has removed your spirit of despair and clothed you in a garment of praise. (Isaiah 61:3) You are literally engulfed by His joy. Today I celebrate your spirit.

Humility - "For He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant." Your mind is the castle of the Lord. He sets His thoughts in yours. He births humility within. Today I celebrate your mind.

Thank you for allowing me to celebrate you this Mother's Day. 

I Love You 0-0-1

I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

A picture really can communicate more than words. Something about seeing my littlest girl act out her love makes it real, concrete, substantial. As many parents do, we've modified our "I Love You" motions into a game. Once Carynne starts, I respond with a like pattern adding two fingers at the end (I love you too).

She subsequently holds up three fingers and on we go until we run out of fingers. One day in an attempt to trump me with the volume of her love she held up two zeroes followed by a one (her way of saying 100). My insides melted with the warmth of her love.

Just like Carynne, my love is made real, concrete, substantial when I act it out.

When I'm tired at the end of a long day, do I love 0-0-1 or 1-0-0?

When I'm mired down in the endless jobs of cooking, straightening and washing, do I love 0-0-1 or 1-0-0?

I want to love my family with abundance. Abundance is supplied from the One who loves me first and most. Abundance is given one day at a time. Abundance spills from His heart into mine. Abundance from the One whose love can not be numbered.