Monday, June 21, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I'm not very good at good byes. I usually come across as cold and distant so that I don't let others see the "ugly cry." I can't help it. I don't like good byes. I understand their purpose and I would never want to leave without saying one but I've always had the feeling that a good bye is never really a good bye. I always leave feeling like I'll see that person again. Someday.

Perhaps its just part of my faith. I believe in an after life and hope that I'll see most of my friends and family there at some point. Eternal life is really one of the big sells for Christianity. I think I'd be miserable and despondent otherwise.

This weekend I say good-bye to Lighthouse. I've been in ministry here for five years. It's been a place where old friends from way back have come to work and worship with me and a place where I've met some new friends that will be a part of my life forever.

Other than a heart felt thank you and a good-bye "ya'll" I don't feel like I have much to say. What I leave behind has been what I've done over the past five years. I've been there for births, deaths, Baptisms, confirmations, celebrations, and various other memory makers. I've got enough lighthouse trinkets to open a shop and enough pictures to fill up a hard drive.

So until my book comes out with all the details of the things I've loved about Lighthouse, here's a top ten list of the things I'll remember most. I'm sure I've forgotten something, but ten things is too short for such a wonderful experience. Some of this is in Lighthouse private joke language so if you don't understand it, ask someone who attends there as its intended for them anyway:

1) Big Al - RIP
2) Every single VBS. The songs are still on my iPod and despite the heat of the barn I loved each one! especially Dori as baby Jesus
3) The tag team sermon I did with Mark. Which is also the moment Akeelah and the Bee became my favorite movie.
4) Ms. Effie signing
5) The many adults and youth who dedicated or re-dedicated their lives to Christ
6) A new crop of cheek-sistas
7) AOKs - especially the Murphy Family and the soup kitchen
8) Mark's "Game On" sermon
9) Centri-Kid - especially OMC
10) Filtering during all the youth retreats I went on.

I just thought of 5 more but I'll stop at 10 so as to tease you to buy my book. The following song really says it all and is by my favorite movie stars - The Muppets. Please read or listen to the words and remember to keep serving and sharing and shining.

Saying Goodbye from The Muppets Take Manhattan

"Saying goodbye, going away
Seems like goodbye's such a hard thing to say
Touching a hand, wondering why
It's time for saying goodbye

Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It's time for saying goodbye

Dont want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes it's better to go
Somehow I know we'll meet again
Not sure quite where, and I dont know just when
You're in my heart, so until then
Wanna smile, wanna cry
Saying goodbye

La la la la la la la la
It's time for saying goodbye"

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, June 13, 2010


One of my favorite movies is Akeelah and the Bee. Against some major odds, Akeelah ends up going to the National Spelling Bee. The movies' themes center around love, support and coaching others, and overcoming loss. It is only through the help of others that Akeelah makes it as far as she does.

I'm having a very Akeelah and the Bee moment this week. I'm going to be ordained as a deacon in full-connection in the United Methodist Church. It is like many other milestones in my life in that it is both an ending of a long journey but also a beginning or continuation of another journey or calling.

In 1998, God told me to go and preach the gospel. It turned out He wasn't kidding. After 12 years of trying to convince Him otherwise, He's finally taught me that I'm in this for good. He's prepared me. He's equipped me. He's sustained me.

But it hasn't been just God but God working through others. So many people have been there along the way and I'd like to take this time to thank them all. So here goes...

Thanks to:

1) The people who said I couldn't do it. That's right. Every time someone said that I couldn't do this I began to doubt too. I told God - no. And each time, He showed me I could do this and made me even more determined to reach my goal.

2) The people who said I shouldn't do it. You know who you are. Thank you for helping research what I was getting myself into. It hasn't been and won't always be easy. I understand why you said that. But please understand that I'm following God's call and have been through a very thorough discerning process. I'm a big girl and I'm ready to roll.

3) To those who love me no matter what crazy thing I do. You are the ones that love me as God does - bad hair days and all. You helped watch my kids when I needed to study in seminary. You proofed papers for me knowing that I'm a spell checking nightmare. You sent me a message telling me to hang in there. You took me out to have fun to get away from things that were often too serious. You hugged me and cried with me when I needed to heal. You laughed with me so hard that I thought I might do bodily damage. I can't thank you enough.

"You know that feeling where everything feels right? Where you don't have to worry about tomorrow or yesterday, where you feel safe and know you're doing the best you can? There's a word for that, it's called love. L-O-V-E."

And it goes for me too - that's what I feel for all my friends, for all my family, for all my coaches. Thank you. Thank God. And celebrate this accomplishment with me. You deserve it!

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What'd you call me???!!??

When I was in the third grade, I began to get teased on the play ground. There was a group of about four boys that decided to call me "greedy green guts." I'm really not sure what the thought behind this nickname was. I would have loved to been in on this brainstorming session. I'm not sure if they thought I was greedy or if I looked particularly ill that day but whatever the reason - it got a reaction. Every time they called me that I chased them and tried to "get" them. I'm not quite sure what I thought I'd do if I actually "got" them but I wasn't very fast so it really didn't matter.

After a while it began to upset me. I tried to run harder. I called them names as well. I had my friends tell them to stop. nothing... worked. So I finally decided to go to the highest authority on all matters. My mom. She said that they probably just "liked" me and had a funny way of showing it (I'm not sure why she thought I'd believe that bull). But she also said that they keep doing it because it gets a reaction out of me and if I just ignored them, they would stop. I had a hard time believing that one too but I was desperate.

The next day at recess, one of the guys came up and shouted "Greedy Green Guts!" in my face and then started to run. I just sat there. When he saw that I wasn't chasing him, he ran a bit closer and yelled louder, "Greedy Green Guts!". He waited. Nothing. I guess he wondered if it was just him because he called one of his buddies over to see if he could get a reaction out of me. I didn't give in. Finally one of the brave ones of the group came forward and said, "Shannon, didn't you hear us? We called you Greedy Green Guts!" I looked at him and said, "I don't really like that and I'm not going to chase you anymore."

Utter shock that I didn't play their game. And that was the last time I was ever called "Greed Green Guts." (at least in third grade)

Be careful how you use your words. They determine the type of reaction that comes back to you.

"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour fourth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?" James 3: 10-11

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who's afraid of the dark?

This weekend I celebrated 16 years of wedded bliss. The only advice our minister gave us for premarital counseling was this: "Never stop dating." It was fun advice to follow. Not always easy as demands of children and jobs take up more time, but fun to shoot for this goal none-the-less. At this point, we aim for a monthly date night. I hate to clarify the fact that our kids aren't with us but for some people I sadly must explain that any kids on the date night does not qualify as a date night.

So the kids went off to Grandma and Grandpas on Saturday and we went off to Atlantic Station in the Atl to shop, eat, and explore. While we were there we went through "the coolest exhibit we'd never see" - Dialog in the Dark. This is exhibit is in total darkness and simulates part of what life is like for a blind person. We had canes to aid us and a guide so that we could follow his voice. We went over grassy, mulchy, rocky terrain. We went on a boat ride, visited a grocery store, ordered a coke at the bar, and walked through city streets.

Along the way here are the things I discovered:

1) I have no excuses. Life is really hard and I often find myself making excuses for why I can't do something. But when I think of the amazing things that others accomplish that are at a disadvantage (ie no sight, no legs, no family etc) - my excuses are very weak. I'm blessed even with all my growing edges so I have no excuse to not accomplish my goals.

2) The world is very loud. It is true that our other senses become more alert when one of them is not working. I was amazed at how much noise there was in each room. And most of it was coming from the eight other people in the room with me. The clicking of the canes, the giggling when we ran into each other, the "what is that?" people would ask when they felt something new. It put a new perspective on "quiet time" for me. From now on I'm going to be more conscience of how quiet my "quiet time" really is.

3) There is Light in the Darkness. I mean this of course in the figurative sense. This exhibit was literally dark. No light. You honestly couldn't see ANYTHING. And yet even though we were all scared of the unknown of the dark, I did experience sources of "light" around me. I followed the light of our guide's voice between each room. He made sure no one was left behind and also that we experienced as much of each room as we could. I felt the light in the touch of a neighbor who was making sure they didn't bump into me. I felt the light in the collective sense that our group finally understood a fraction of what a blind person goes through. It is difficult. I honestly can't describe it. You'll have to do it on your own.

By then end of the journey, I had an amazing appreciation of our guide George - who was actually blind. I kept wondering what the rooms actually looked like but then realized that what I knew of those rooms is all that George knows. He'll never see what color those apples were in the grocery store. He'll never see the water as the boat moves through it. But he appreciates the smell of the apples and the salty air much more than I do. And he has an amazing awareness of his physical surroundings that I'll never understand.

God can "see" so much more than we can. I think that this journey helped me to remember to listen to His voice. He's guiding me into places I cannot see. And hopefully I won't let that unknown keep me away.

Until Everyone Hears,

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