Monthly Archives: May 2011

“Show Me Your Ways….”

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One of my very favorite things to do is watch my friends’ sheep farm whenever they go out of town. When I tell someone that, I usually get a raised eyebrow. I love taking care of the sheep… It never fails, the Lord always teaches me something when I’m with them. Because I am one of His sheep…

And He is a mighty, loving, and gentle Shepherd.

This past New Year’s Eve, I was watching “the countdown” on television at the farm and I heard the Lord say to turn the tv off and pray in the New Year. I turned it off, and sat in silence. A peace came over me. Sitting on the bed, I was shocked at myself….that I was so “cultural”….all I knew was to bring in the New Year with noise. Not this time.

He had a different plan.

Right before the clock struck midnight, I began to pray. I prayed for everything I could think of…and I loved it. I asked the Lord for a verse for 2011, and He told me this…

“Psalm 25:4”

I opened my Bible and read,

Show me Your ways, LORD, teach me Your paths.”

I wrote it down in my journal. I must admit that I was disappointed. I wanted a BIG verse! I felt like He had given me something easy, like, “Jesus wept.”

The next morning, I walked out to feed the sheep. I continued to think on that verse. Why something so simple? And then the Lord revealed to me that verse is one of the biggest, most life-changing verses in the Bible.

It is a verse about denying yourself.

It is a verse about deep submission to God….

It says, “I am Yours. Nothing is mine. I surrender everything I have and everything I am.”

It is the verse of a missionary’s life.

Its a hard verse to live by.

Its another leg of the lonely road, or narrow path.

For how many of us can say that we do everything His way and on His path? Far too often we can’t “wait” any longer for what we feel He has promised. We end up taking things into our own hands….or on our own paths.

I looked at one of the sheep that morning. It had been very cold the night before. He had stayed outside all night….icicles were hanging all over his fur.

“You are SO stupid,” I said to this sheep. He kept looking right at me.
“Why didn’t you go in the nice warm barn last night?” I pointed at the barn just 50 feet away.

He just kept staring at me.

Then it hit me….when I go My way, or on My path…..I am like this sheep with icicles, fighting the cold, trying to stay warm, wearing myself out…..all the while my Master had a warm place for me to lay my head. A place He had prepared for me. I just had to take His path….and not my own.

So, here it is….the end of May. The Lord has brought this verse to mind over and over again. With things brought before me, I’ve had to continually say, “let me pray about it.” Its been with advice from friends. Its been saying, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, I just know I have to obey because He told me to.” I have laid hands on someone and the Lord has even told me to “change hands”….not because one hand is better than the next, but because He is quickening me to immediate obedience.

I’m doing my best to walk on His path.

For His path brings reward.

Here is one of the biggest blessings to walking in this verse. On May 2, I had my first deadline to meet for the Cure Go Team to Uganda. My total funds to raise were $4060. I felt very ambitious when I also asked people to believe with me for additional $1000 to pay for a surgery. So, my total was $5060. I believed that I could have $2500 raised by May 2.

During the month of April, I had enough money to meet Cure’s first goal for me of $930. I had done everything I could think of to raise funds. I’ve even sold icees and talked to football players….who cried over the babies when I told them the fate of some Ugandan babies with hydrocephalus.

Since the beginning, I’ve said, “I believe that a stranger could walk up to me and give me $1000, because God told him to.” That was my faith, and I thought it was big.

I had written “1000 Hills” on a bottle of wrinkle releaser and believed God would move.

I prayed about my situation and told the Lord, “I’m going to be like Hezekiah here and lay all of “this” before you. I don’t know what else to do. Help me raise the funds.”

I surrendered it…..and chose His path….and His ways.

On May 4, just 2 days after my first deadline, God breathed on someone and that person paid for my trip. All of it. “Your ministry is great. You are to focus on ministering and no longer worry about bringing in the money. You are to go to Uganda and minister to women.”

Wow. Even as I type this, I have no vocabulary to describe what this person’s words and belief in me, did for me.

After that, I decided that I would now try to raise funds for the additional surgery. I even typed a post up about it….but didn’t publish it….I just didn’t have ‘completeness’ to it.

Last week, I got a message from an anonymous donor….”I just donated a surgery in honor of Ward, the baby on your blog. He’s touched my heart. The Lord told me to do it.”

WOW!! What I thought was hard for God, it was just a crumb for Him. All of my supporters have allowed me to share this testimony with people face to face, and it is awesome to see their faces. I know many were shocked by the amount I had to raise. When I tell them this story, their jaws drop.

I am living in a recession. Times are hard. But that didn’t stop God. He did the unbelievable!

I took my shame before Him….I had put a limit on how big I thought He was with my “$1000 stranger miracle story”. I prayed for Him to show me new ways to pray for His bigness.

If you could see me right now….I have the biggest smile on my face! I have a testimony that began on New Year’s Day with an icicled sheep and a simple verse with a deep act of submission….

“Show me Your ways, LORD, teach me Your paths.” Psalm 25:4

I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings. 😀

(For those of you who are still wanting to donate, please contact me directly….and we’ll seek His ways.)

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“She Prayed for You”

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After working in Atlanta on Saturday, I went to see Kim and Ward at Egleston Childrens’ Hospital in Atlanta. Kim was released on Thursday and finally got to hold him.

Kim met me and brought me into the NICU to her room. There in front of me was a little miracle. He had a little cord or wire coming from all parts of his tiny body. Kim showed me his little incision for where the neurosurgeon inserted the tube into his head. I took my finger and traced the tubing down his head onto his body. My heart just ached…

I walked to the other side of his little bed to which his head was turned. As I talked to Kim, he opened his right eye only….like he was looking for who was talking. I giggled and told Kim that he looked like he was wondering if this person was worthy enough to open two eyes for.

Then his sweet mom looked at him and said this,
“you know that voice…she’s prayed for you.”

And he opened his beautiful eyes.

With all of his contraptions of wires, she placed him in my arms and let me hold him. I looked into his eyes for a long time. He put his fingers around my thumb.

This is what it feels like to hold a miracle….

In my arms, I held a child that was suggested by doctors to be aborted.

I held a healed body.

I held a boy that will become a man with a powerful testimony.

I held someone that I have knelt down before, prayed for and wept over.

Somehow, I felt like he said “thank you” that day.

When I held him, I thought of the babies I will hold in Uganda very soon. I thought how their little eyes will say “thank you”….for they weren’t up for abortion, but their destiny could have been death in a river. Ward’s little fingers represented each little hand that I will hold. I pray that I feel like the touch of Jesus to them. I pray that they see hope in my eyes.

I pray that these Ugandan babies have moms that lean over and whisper to their child, “you know that voice, she’s been praying for you.”

To me, Ward isn’t just another baby born with hydrocephalus….Ward has been used by God to deepen my call to another nation. Ward’s touch and warmth and eyes represent every baby that cries out for hope. Kim stands for each Ugandan woman that I will minister to. Kim has shown me the strength that a woman recieves when she cries out to God. She has connected me to these mothers’ hearts.

Thank you, Kim, for opening your heart up wide enough to allow me to walk alongside of you. Thank you for placing your baby in my arms….and allowing me to hold a miracle.

I have to end this with one of Kim’s favorite verses…
” As for me, I call to God,
and the LORD saves me.
Evening, morning and noon,
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.” Ps 55:16-17

“A Miracle…Baby Ward”

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a verse going through my head….

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but its the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I learned it early in life, but the older I get, the more this verse reveals.

On Tuesday afternoon, I got a text from Kim who was at the hospital. She had gone to Piedmont for a routine exam and the doctor told her she was in labor with Ward….FIVE WEEKS EARLY!

He sent her directly to labor and delivery. Alone.

“Please pray,” her text read, “having contractions, we may have baby today.”

“THIS ISN’T THE PLAN!!!” I said out loud. There was no way I could get to Piedmont that day. Kim was supposed to have an amnio next week and then a steroid shot to develop his lungs. The doctor was supposed to take Ward 3 weeks early on Memorial Day weekend!! I was supposed to be there. This is too early for him to come….

But the Lord had a different plan.

Within 3 hours of Kim’s text, I got a picture of a miracle.

Ward arrived right on time, the Lord’s timing.

The miracle is this….he weighs 6 lbs. 11 oz.

He breathes on his own.

His color is perfect.

He is absolutely healthy.

He looks like a full term baby.

This morning Ward had the fluid removed from his head…and now look at him.

Healed. Beautiful. Perfect.

I sat with Kim at the hospital this afternoon and met some of her friends. Kim talked about how the Lord must have sent an angel to meet her in the elevator and then walk her to labor and delivery. She talked about how the kids’ school gathered all the teachers together at 3:30 in the afternoon to pray while Ward was being delivered. She talked about the “angels” from Egleston who looked her in the eyes and took Ward away to the childrens’ hospital, promising her that he was in good hands. She talked about the peace she had, even though she has never held him.

Then, one of her friends said this, “Ward coming yesterday reminds me of a verse….how does it go….

‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but its the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ “

I smiled.

“I know,” I said to myself, “I know.”

Welcome to the world, Ward. The Lord has BIG plans for you!

(For those of you new to Mighty River, Ward is a precious baby that was diagnosed inutero with hydrocephalus, a condition in which excess fluid is on the baby’s brain. The Lord crossed my path with his sweet mother, Kim, and has given me the privilege to pray for Ward’s healing and walk alongside her. You can read Kim and Ward’s amazing journey in previous posts. I travel this summer to Uganda with Cure International to minister to moms just like Kim and babies just like Ward. I have been blessed to start my mission here in Atlanta early….because His plans and purposes are greater than mine.)

“On the Map”

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Today I went to the travel clinic for my typhoid and yellow fever vaccines. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways with every step of this journey. One thing I’ve learned is that when I follow His path, He makes my way easy.

I met the nicest man who sat and talked to me about going to Uganda and traveling with the Cure team. He could see the excitement on my face as I told him about the trip. I know I couldn’t quit smiling. He asked me lots of questions. It is so neat for me to see people connect to this trip. And he felt like he was doing his part educating me…

And then he gave me the shots.

But you know what blessed me today? He told me to get a push pin out of the box and put it on the map for where I was going. I loved looking at that map. He had touched and helped to get so many people around the world. I lightly brushed the pins as I went across the map, knowing that each pin represented a person.

He watched me as I pushed the pin in.

My pin was the third one in Uganda, but the first one in Mbarara. When I put that pin on the map, I stepped back and smiled.

“I’m the first one here,” I said.

“Yes you are,” he nodded.

I’m going. I really am going. 😀

(thanks to Ellie for the picture)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 61:1

“Elephants”

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Two years ago, the Lord specifically called me to Uganda. I didn’t even know where Uganda was. I never enjoyed Geography class. Never.

I asked a friend at church, and he said, “I think its in Africa.”

It is. And so the journey began.

I was fasting when the Lord released this call. I wrote it down in my prayer journal. Along with these words, “the darkest place in the world.” In looking at Uganda, I can find many other places in the world darker than this.

But I know what the Lord meant by that….

The darkest place in the world is where His children die. To loose a baby into a river to kill it….is the darkest place in the world. To believe in false gods is the darkest place in the world.

Yet He called me to bring light.

My first step of faith in this call was to buy a pair of hiking shoes. The Lord told me to “buy the shoes”. I went to local sporting goods store and told the clerk what I needed.

“I’m going to Africa. I need some shoes that can get wet. I’ll be walking a lot too, ” I said.

“When are you leaving?” he asked.

“I have no idea,” I replied. Honestly, I didn’t. I had never even heard of Cure. Besides, I had just found where Uganda was on the map.

He was puzzled. He handed me two different pairs. “These are the best,” he said. One had blue laces, one had pink.

Have you ever priced hiking shoes???? I began to argue with the Lord. There were so many other things that I needed to buy at the time. Besides that, I didn’t even know when I was going.

“Buy the shoes,” the Lord said it again. In fact, it was so audible that He could have been on the loud speaker by then.

“I’ll take the pink,” I told him.

I purchased the shoes and the clerk checked the sizes and put them in the box. Something caught my attention on the side of the box. It was the style name for the shoes….

“Elephants”

I smiled.

And the Lord said, “you only find elephants in Africa.”

So, here I am, two years later, with a pair of elephants ready to go to Uganda. Let me encourage you to take every step of obedience. Never question if you are crazy. Just do it. Buy the shoes….for the path is being laid before you. Do you have the courage to take the first step?

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and make you a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah 42:6,7

“Happy Mother’s Day”

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These past weeks, the Lord kept baby Ward on my heart. I prayed for him and let Kim know that I was being prompted by the Lord to pray for him. Ward is scheduled to arrive in just 3 weeks!

The doctors say that Ward still has fluid on his brain. I went this past week to visit with her and once again knelt down to ask for his healing.

I believe that the Lord will heal Ward.

Every time I pray for this little baby, I feel as if he will be the mightiest man of God one day. Like he is a warrior. His testimony is just starting early.

When I finished praying for him, Kim stood in front of me and began to cry. She said the most beautiful words ever, “Shannon, I know why God has given Ward to me. Because of you. God has used you to minister to me here, to prepare you for what you will do for mothers like me with children like Ward.”

So, Kim, Happy Mother’s Day. This song is for you. Whenever I hear it, I think of you and our Father’s great love. Its a great big love that says,

“I’ve got this. I am Ward’s Creator. I am his Healer. And I will give you peace.”

Kim knows what it is like to try to focus on the eyes of Jesus while the waves are crashing all around. She knows how to cry out to a loving God. She knows He hears her. And despite confusion from the world and doctors, she has peace. Her body holds a marvelous creation. She is chosen to be Ward’s mom. And she is a great choice!

And to all the mothers reading this….He loves you and will give you the peace you need during the storm. He will be your anchor.

(If you are new to Mighty River: Kim and Ward’s amazing story is posted in previous posts. Ward has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, just like the children I will be serving in Uganda this summer with Cure International.)

Hello, Baby Ward….

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day passed. How precious are your thoughts towards me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalm 140:13-18 NLT

“No Words”

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This past Friday, I experienced the Lord touching someone’s life with no words.  I will never forget this moment in my entire life.  I was so moved and so shaken. 

I know it has forever changed me.

In order to tell this accurately, I have to give you some history.

On Mother’s Day week a year ago, I found a beautiful bible that I wanted. Many years ago, my friend Cheryl had a bible this size.  It is thick, but it would fit in a purse.  I remember her saying that it had belonged to Brad’s grandmother.  I loved the size of that bible. 

Now this bible that I had found was the same exact size.  It was brown leather with a cross embossed in the front formed by thorns.  I started carrying the bible to church and would underline some scripture in it.  Strange thing happened though….I never felt like it belonged to me.   I realized that I was to give the bible away.  I told the kids that I was to give it away and put it in my car.  Everyday on the way to school, we prayed that God would show us who’s bible this was.

Months went by.  In fact, the bible would sometimes slide across the floorboard while I was driving and one of the kids would say, “do you know who to give this to yet?”  I’d shake my head no, “not yet.”  I even wondered if I had heard the Lord correctly in this.

But I know that I did hear Him….on Friday morning at 7:50 am.  Almost one year exactly.

I was headed to the doctor and pulled through a CFA to get Ellie some breakfast.  As I made the turn, a man caught my eye.  He had a sign in his hand…..”FOOD”.

“Its him,” the Lord said.

Right away I knew the bible was for this man.  Wow.  A homeless man.  He was filthy.  I had to force myself to look at him.  I even asked God to give me a scripture to prove that it was for him.  But I was reminded that the Lord is training me in immediate obedience.  I knew to obey.  I couldn’t argue.

I ordered him a meal and a water.  I pulled out of the parking lot and stared at him.  I had not yet given him the food.  I turned around and pulled up behind him.  He was sitting on the curb with a crutch leaning against him.  I startled him as I approached him.

I knelt down and handed him a bag and the bible.  He immediately took the bible and not the bag.  I put the bag in front of him, he wasn’t as interested in the food as he was the bible.  What is so strange about this is what happened next…

He didn’t say a word.   

I looked closely at him.  His white beard was long and yellowed.  His body was filthy.  His clothes were rags.  He held the bible like it was the most precious gift he had even gotten.  His sad face smiled as he looked through the pages.  He opened it up and started touching each page with his dirty fingers and long, jagged nails.  I thought he was going to cry.  His aged fingers trembled as went up and down each page.

This man had a sign for FOOD.   And I had given him the BREAD OF LIFE.

“Sir,” I said, “God told me to stop and give this bible to you.  I’ve carried this bible with me for almost a year now.”  I paused and waited for a reply.  He was still looking at this bible.  “You see, I’ve prayed everyday for who I was to give this to.  And he told me its you.  He loves you.  He really loves you.  He knew a long time ago that this bible was for you.”

He had no words.

I went back to my car because I had left his water in there.  I handed it to him and he began to suck the water through the lid.  He was so thirsty.  He never put the bible down.  He never picked up the bag of food.

I told him that the straw was in the bag.  He didn’t say a word.  I waited for something.  He just kept looking at that bible.

As I drove off, I turned around and looked at him.  And this is what I will never forget….

His lifeless eyes now twinkled and he lit up.  He was smiling and waving at me like I was his best friend.  With the bible clutched to his chest, he waved and waved until I couldn’t see him anymore.  I got so tickled and choked up at him.  He had experienced the joy of the Lord.  He had been touched.  He was full of life.

When I left the doctor he was gone.  I wonder what the man’s story was.  Had he prayed and asked God to show him if He was real that day?  Was he at the end of his rope?  What had the man been crying out for?

I believe that he was crying out for FOOD.  Literally.  Food that comes from the word.

I thanked God for a lesson in patience and seeing the fruit of it that day.  I thanked Him that his sign said “FOOD”.   He affirmed what the man’s needs were.  I thanked Him for using me. 

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  John 6:51

He reminded me of this song.  I just can’t get it out of my head.

“Beautiful Things” by Gungor.  Help yourself….

https://www.youtube.com/embed/oyPBtExE4W0?rel=0&hd=1