Thoughts.

Hey, friends. Long time no post! Therefore, long post.

This semester totally caught me off guard–it couldn’t be any more different than last semester. I’m a fan of change, so it’s not all bad, but my priorities have been tested big time and I’ve had to reevaluate A TON. One of those mega reevaluations was my major–I am so excited to say that I am now an English major (Editing, Writing, and Media to be specific)!!! It was a decision that took a lot of prayer and consideration and tears and worry and uncertainty, but I took the leap and I haven’t felt a bit of regret. Nutrition is GREAT, but writing has been a passion of mine since I was a kid, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to see how God uses me through it.

So anyway, after a crazy couple of days this week (aka an exam and a huge draft for a project due within a 24 hour period that left me sleepless in Tallahassee), I had the whole rest of the week to decompress. I logged on to WordPress for the first time in ages *sigh of relief* and found a little new year’s post that never made it up on the blog. Well, here you have it, 3 months later (hehe…).

I’ll preface this by saying not all of my quiet times with the Lord are like this; I long for it, but I’m a human. I can’t make a quiet time life-changing–I don’t have that much power. Only the God who set the stars in place can alter something as stubborn as the human mind.

The past couple of days I’ve been thinking. Thinking about 2017, thinking about the new semester, thinking about my thoughts. Yep, I do that sometimes. My mind was so energized today that I actually had to ask myself, “have I had a single conversation with anyone today?” Well, ya know, some days you just need a little introspection.

Anyways, I was thinking a few days ago about my “word of the year.” I was trying to brainstorm ideas, but nothing seemed to fit. “Faith” and “love” just didn’t feel right. So I prayed about it. I prayed that God would open my eyes to what He wanted me to see. And about a day later, I found my “word.”

VULNERABLE.

When you really break it down, “vulnerable” carries A LOT of weight. It requires a degree of courage that I would argue nothing else in this world demands. It means all shame, hurt, sorrow, joy, emotion must be laid out on the table. It’s showing the deepest parts of your flawed heart and mind to other equally flawed humans that have the capability say words that can cut deep. It means holding nothing back–to bring the shameful, ugly parts of your heart to the surface. It’s putting alcohol on that gaping wound that required stitches from a doctor, but you thought you could heal it yourself with just a bandaid. You just keep putting a new bandaid on it, thinking it’s getting better, but in reality it’s festering and needs to heal. Vulnerability is ripping that bandaid off and admitting that you can’t do it alone. Your wound cannot heal without the help of someone experienced, who knows just what will bring healing to that pain. Whew. Alrighty, now that we’ve gone 0 to 100% heavy, cue the happy music.

That night, I read the intro to my Jesus Calling devotional, and one line really hit me. “God guides our minds as we think things out in His Presence.” So I poured my thoughts out onto the pages of my journal. And right now I’m gonna share it because God is so good and utterly amazing. So, here goes.

“Lord, you’re speaking straight into my heart! Before I opened Jesus Calling, I prayed that You would give me a teachable spirit to absorb what you’re teaching me, and the very first line is ‘Come to Me with a teachable spirit.’ Aghh! After that, You say, ‘eager to be changed.’

That’s what I long for right now, Lord. To be changed. Not a new set of circumstances, or the way I look, or new friends, but the transformation of my mind. Sin is insanely exhausting. It makes me into a person that I don’t want to be around. Fear holds me back from loving people and letting myself be loved. Vulnerability is my biggest fear I think, Lord. I’ve heard a bunch of people talking about their “words” for the year. I feel You’re telling me “vulnerable.””

This is where the most mind-blowing thing happened. Remember “God guides our minds as we think things out in His presence? As I was writing my prayer out on the page, I felt God speaking straight into my heart, right where I was at in my thought process.

Be vulnerable. I bared everything before man and took the punishment for failure.

“WOW. Jesus, I broke down at that. I am SO INCREDIBLY FREE! Whom then shall I fear? You see the deepest and most broken places of my heart. I am a perfectionist–failure is one of my BIGGEST FEARS. I fear messing things up–like one wrong move and it’s all gonna come crashing down on me. I live my life like I’m setting up a house of cards–the slightest wrong move and it caves.”

I Am in complete control. What the world deems failure is such success in the heavenly realm. The times you feel you’ve failed and everything’s gone wrong–I am mightily at work in your heart. I give and take away for My glory. Some people are put in your path for only a short time–don’t feel you’ve messed the relationship up. Listen to My voice, My Spirit within you; if I mean for the relationship to continue, then it will be so. But you, My beloved, do not mess anything up. If you had the power to alter My plans, then I would not be who I say I am, the God of the Universe. You, My dear, do not hold that much weight and power. I want you to know that all the earthly pain, struggles and failure you face are not in vain. I will strengthen and uplift you; I will give you joy in your darkest hours. Because Love, I’ve been there. I took on the weight and pain and struggles and failures of ALL PEOPLE of ALL TIMES when I hung on that cross. Believe Me when I say I know EXACTLY what you feel. I chose to do that for you, so that you could choose to be free. Before I came into your life, you didn’t have that choice. You were a slave to the world and the thoughts of your captive mind. But My Love, I bring you Peace. You have the choice to be utterly free in Me. That doesn’t mean troubles will not happen anymore, but rather, you can feel My presence and peace and strength in the midst of troubles. Your light and momentary afflictions are bringing about something insurmountable in heaven. The pain and suffering you face now is FAR outweighed by the indescribable JOY and PEACE and PERFECTION that awaits you in heaven. But for now, I will fight for you; you need only be still.

“Oh Lord. Such sweet truth. You fill me with such joy! For a second, the thought crossed my mind, ‘what if I’m just talking to myself? What if I’m making an imaginary friend?’ Oh but Jesus, thank you for understanding my neediness and brokenness. There’s just no way. I could never dream up a friend so perfectly understanding. My mind is a war zone. When I’m alone for too long, I get trapped in isolation, which then leads to comparison and bitterness, leading to frustration and impatience that I end up taking people, especially those I’m closest to. I become fearful and anxious and doubtful. I feel suffocated by my own thoughts and insecurities. I don’t like who I become when I’m alone. But Lord, when I’m with You, I love who I am because You love who I am. You’ve intentionally and purposefully created my mind and my heart, and when I spend time with You, I feel Your light shining into the darkness of my heart and You bring healing to hurting parts. Parts where I feel insignificant or defective in the eyes of the world, Your light uncovers purpose. I used to dislike my introversion, but You are lovingly teaching me that You meant for me to be that way. It’s all part of Your grander plan. Since I’ve gone to college, I’ve met so many others who share that introversion, and it’s beautiful to see that Your glory exists and shines through both introverts and extraverts. You’ve set different challenges in our paths and are using us each for different parts of bringing Your glory, but ultimately all of our purposes are to love You, love each other, and be loved by the One who made us worthy of love.

Romans 12:3–Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

“The closer I grow to You, Lord, the sharper my awareness of my need for You is. I need You every hour. Without You, I would be consumed by the sin that so dang easily entangles me and would be utterly trapped. But by Your grace, You’ve provided me a way out; You’ve clothed me with Your perfection so that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to measure up. I don’t have to have all the right answers and words to say. Any good thing I do is You at work within me, Lord. Hallelujah! I’m not a slave to sin any longer!”

So there you have it. I’ll admit, that perfectionist part of me kept thinking “crap, I know there’s a better word for that,” or “ok stop using the word is,” or I’d think “no, I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying that on the internet.” But like I said, vulnerability is laying it bare, holding nothing back.

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This was the last page of that journal entry. It’s not fancy. I used a plain old pen and messy lines and it’s not strategic and straight. It’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. And that’s ok.

Because my God is, and He says to my weary, perfectionist self, “Be still, my power is made PERFECT through your weakness. You’ve got no one to impress, because I love you and all your quirks. I made you just the way I wanted to, and when I hung on that cross, I set you free. You, My love, are completely and utterly free.”

I am free.

 

 

No Meal Plan, No Problem: My go-to dorm-friendly meals

When the word “college” is thrown out there, my guess is that one of the many images that comes to mind is the dining hall, where friends congregate and eat as much food as their little hearts desire. Now that could sound like total bliss to some (looking at you, folks with a hollow leg), or to some, it could sound like the nightmare of the dreaded “Freshman 15.” One of my biggest questions my senior year of high school–is a meal plan really necessary freshman year of college? 

From what I’ve picked up these past 5 months of college, you can not only survive without one, but you can thrive.

Last summer, I found out I had an intestinal condition called “leaky gut,” which essentially meant that toxins that were meant to make their way out of my body through my intestines ended up escaping into my bloodstream through some holes in my gut and created a whole host of other health issues throughout my body. But that’s a story for another time. Bottom line: I realized that in order for my insanely weakened gut to heal, I had to be super mindful of everything I put in my body. So coming into college, I wasn’t eating gluten or dairy. As the months progressed, I realized that that wasn’t quite cutting it; after lots of research and trial and error, I also eliminated soy, peanuts, and corn from my diet.

I know that sounds intense. And I’m not saying that every person has to eat that way to be healthy. Health is a pretty relative thing–what’s healthy for one person could be a total no-go for another (allergies, etc.).

BUT, what I am here to tell you is that without a meal plan, I’ve had the freedom to get creative with my grocery shopping and cooking, and make meals that will fuel my body well. Not to mention, I’ve been able to save A TON; grocery shopping can be a whole lot cheaper.

So, to follow that {probably too} long intro, here are a few of my go-to meals!

Scrambled egg/sweet potato/kale/avocado bowl

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  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1-2 eggs (I usually do one egg if I add avocado)
  • handful or two of raw kale
  • 1/4-1/2 hass avocado
  • dried thyme, sea salt, and this delicious spice blend to taste

Microwave the sweet potato for about 6 mins or until soft. While potato cooks, whip up your eggs in a microwave-safe bowl and add in the kale. I usually end up with more kale than egg, but if you only want a little green, you can adjust. Once the potato’s done cooking, swap the potato with the egg bowl and microwave the egg/kale mix for about 2 mins (depends on the microwave). Once the eggs are done, peel the sweet potato and chop it up, then add in your avocado and spices, and viola. Nutrient-packed deliciousness in minutes. This is pretty much my go-to of all go-to’s; about 90% of the time when I call my mom around lunch or dinner time and she asks what I’m having, my response is, “the usual.” It’s just so easy and delish!

Chicken/kale/quinoa/chestnuts

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  • 1 piece of frozen chicken breast (I use the Trader Joe’s boneless frying pieces because they’re the perfect size and easy to store in a dorm freezer, plus you get a lot for the price)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • handful or two raw kale
  • 3-4 chestnuts (this recipe is the first time I’d ever eaten chestnuts, but they quickly became a fav)
  • chicken broth for cooking chicken (I use Pacific Organic chicken broth because it has few ingredients)
  • Italian seasoning, sea salt, tarragon (you can play around with the seasonings–I like to try different combos with every meal)

To cook my chicken, if I’m not in the mood to go down to the kitchen at the end of the hall (pretty much always), I’ll throw about 4-5 pieces of chicken into my little mini crockpot (here’s a similar one) in the morning with enough chicken broth to cover about half the chicken and let that cook during the day while I’m at class or out and about. To cook my quinoa, I use my little rice cooker to cook a cup and a half of quinoa. This way, I have chicken and quinoa cooked and ready for the rest of the week. To cook the kale, I just microwave it on a plate with a little chicken broth so it wilts a bit. Then, just put it all together on a plate, drizzle on some of the chicken broth that the chicken cooked in and top it with chestnuts and seasonings!

Breakfast Sweet Potato

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  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp. raw almond butter (I used maple almond butter in this picture)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 or so of blueberries (TIP: buy frozen blueberries and microwave them when you want to use them!)
  • cinnamon to taste

Sweet potatoes are basically my favorite food on the planet, and I love that they work for any meal of the day! They go so well with so many different flavors. For this one, I just microwaved the sweet potato for about 6 or so minutes, cut it in half, measured out 1 tbsp. of almond butter and smeared it on, added some banana slices, blueberries, and a little cinnamon to add some extra flavor and BONUS: cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and helps stabilize blood sugar!

Acai Bowl+My Morning Cup O’ Joe

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This isn’t one that I go to super regularly during the wintertime, but I bought some acai puree packets from Trader Joe’s a couple weeks ago so I decided to make a bowl. It’s super refreshing and tasty! Smoothie bowls are the bomb because you can customize it with whatever fruit you like best. For this one, I used:

  • 1 pack of frozen acai puree
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 or so of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. raw almond butter
  • 1/4 cup or so frozen raspberries and 1/4 of frozen blueberries (which I thawed in the microwave)
  • 2 tbsp. or so unsweetened shredded coconut

I threw the first four ingredients into my NutriBullet and blended till thick and creamy consistency. (TIP: using frozen banana vs. fresh makes for a thicker smoothie bowl! When bananas go brown, peel and freeze them!) Then, I poured the mixture in a bowl and topped it with the other goodies. Super energizing!

For my everyday coffee:

  • 1 kcup (I do the 10 oz. setting)
  • 2-4 tbsp. canned coconut milk (Trader Joe’s organic canned coconut milk is my favorite because it has no sneaky ingredients–just coconut and water!)
  • 4-6 drops of liquid stevia
  • cinnamon (I do about 5-6 shakes of ground cinnamon)

I used to be a black coffee drinker until I tried canned coconut milk in it. It’s heavenly. Boxed kind does not have the same effect, though. The canned kind is so much creamier and richer. Plus, it adds some healthy fats to your morning to get you energized and help keep the mid-morning munchies away. Stevia is a zero-calorie, plant based sweetener that has also transformed my coffee drinking habits. Warning: a little bit goes a long way! All together, this is one of my favorite parts of my mornings. I just really, really love a good cup of coffee. (PSA Santa’s White Christmas coffee by Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen with all these ingredients will change your life. It tastes like the hot version of the limited edition Santa’s White Christmas ice cream from Publix.)

Hope this helped/inspired someone out there! It’s definitely possible to super well without a meal plan. Just a little creativity can make “healthy food” decadent!

Love always,

Shannon

 

 

Wise Men, Wisdom Teeth, etc.

It’s Christmastime in the city again, folks. It’s that time of year where Christmas carols and lights and wrapping paper and ornaments and trees and Christmas cards and cookies *takes big huge gasp for air* surround us. This is usually my favorite time of the year. But even when the Christmas music began to play (in um, October I think?), I just wasn’t feeling festive. And I was completely floored.

First off, I wasn’t feelin’ the Christmas music about Santa and reindeer and mushy-love songs. WHAT. I thought to myself, “why the heck am I grinching??? I usually love this stuff. What x 10.”

Then, when people asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I could think of absolutely nothing. I then thought to myself, “ok so am I just too lazy to think of something? Or is my brain just freezing up? Brain, come on man.” But it wasn’t my brain. And it wasn’t me being lazy. I felt a nudge in my heart, a longing for something more.

So at 6:30 pm on December 14th, I finished my final final exam for the semester and I packed up {practically all} my stuff and headed home for break. The next day I had my wisdom teeth consult and I was scheduled to get them yanked the following Monday. Some people (@pre-surgery me)  wonder why do we have wisdom teeth if they just end up getting ripped out anyway. Lemme tell ya, they serve a purpose. And for me, that purpose had nothing to do with teeth.

I never realized until those suckers got pulled that I am an obnoxiously busy person. The doctor told me to literally sit and do nothing for the first few days, and to really take it easy for a week. First thought that crossed my mind–SHOOT. What in the heck. I’ve got stuff to do, Christmas is almost here and I’m not ready. AGHHHH.

So the next day, I sat on the couch. I watched Netflix. I napped. I did my quiet time. And much to my surprise, I was at peace. I felt at rest.

Then the anesthesia wore off. My soul was on the battlefield. By the third day, my gut had started acting up, my jaw felt like it had been socked multiple times by pre-Terminator Arnold, and I was uncomfortable. I was sick of sitting, sick of feeling sick, sick of eating blended sweet potato/avocado mush. The night of day three, I sat down on the floor and sobbed. “Why?” I uttered. I thought my gut problems were a thing of the past. Why is all this happening NOW? I decided sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor wasn’t prime location for a meltdown, so I trudged into my dark room.

“God, I know You’re good. I know that there’s a reason that I’m going through this. I’m just really having a hard time trusting You right now. Really hard. Please, Lord, help me to see You and trust You right now.”

That night, I cracked open my Bible. I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant to. Actually, little is an understatement. I was in a MOOD and I just wanted to wallow in my own self-pity. But God had other plans. I felt like a little kid that didn’t want to eat the brussels sprouts–with a Father that loved me too much to not feed me the healthy stuff He knew my body needed, even when I wasn’t in the mood.

Hey you, quit your moping. Eat up, kiddo. Trust me.”

So I picked up my fork. And I realized that God had orchestrated this perfectly.

It was no coincidence that I was forced to un-busy myself for days. It wasn’t by chance that I’m back to square one with my gut. And it was no accident that I became unraveled days before Christmas.

“…they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” -Matthew 2:9-11

In my struggle, I had nowhere to look but up. And when I did, I saw the star–and I saw Christmas in a whole new light.

Shannon, this is My Star. A promise to you. A gift.

The dots connected. This Christmas, I’m seeing Christmas for what it truly is. The twinkle lights don’t satisfy like the shining star the wise men followed. Now I’m not against twinkle lights–they’re a fun and wintery and festive. But a strand of twinkle lights ends with a cord. At the end of the other Twinkling Light is a precious gift, life everlasting, a Wonderful Savior and Friend.

And thanks be to God, that’s really and truly all I want for Christmas this year.

So, friends, don’t fear your difficulties. Your struggles are not in vain. I know it’s not easy to see it in the thick of things, but I can promise you that those very struggles are God’s avenue of Grace.

My prayer is that this Christmas, you’d see that star and follow it with joy. Because God has given us the greatest gift of all.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

Love always,

Shannon   

 

Thankful: 25 reasons for my heart to sing

Happy (day after) thanksgiving! What a wonderful day filled with great food, family and sunshine. I sometimes catch myself complaining about having 80 degree Thanksgivings, but then I remember 1) I love sunshine and 2) life is just too dang beautiful to complain. 🙂 The homemade turkey and mashed potatoes on real china was certainly an upgrade from my typical chips and salsa on a Dixie plate in my dorm room. Even better than the food, though, was the company I shared it with. Being away from home makes me appreciate my family so much more than ever. I relished all the laughter that filled the dining room last night, whether it was in response to one of my grandma’s stories of Alaska, or because of our traditional card game of 31, or just reminiscing on fond memories. Ahh, sweet day.

As I finished my quiet time this morning, my heart swelled with thankfulness. Not because life is perfect and I’m always happy, because that’s so far from the truth. Honestly, I went into my quiet time with a lot of doubt and anxiety. My soul had been going through a bit of a dry patch, and I was just feeling eh. I felt my mind racing and felt like my soul was being pulled in all different directions. I prayed, “God, I’m struggling right now. That spark in my heart for you feels like it’s being blown out. I know You’re good, You’ve proved it to me over and over again. I just want to be so secure in You again, and right now I’m struggling to trust You with it all.” Here’s where it gets good. Sometimes when I do my quiet time, I’ll turn on the “Praise and Worship” playlist on Spotify and just have that playing in the background. My eyes shifted to 1 Thessalonians 3:3, which reads, “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well you were destined for them.” It was then that I looked up, reflecting on those words, that I tuned into the music playing in the background.

Even when it hurts like hell, I’ll praise You.
Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder then I’ll sing Your praise.                                                        -Even When It Hurts, Hillsong United

Even when life gets tough and I feel dismayed, God has me in the palm of His hand and has intentionally set me on a unique path of life. He has gone before me, and He works in mighty ways. He is ever faithful, and the Prince of Peace meets me right in the midst of my struggles, and today was no exception.

Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war. -Prince of Peace, Hillsong United

My thoughts were waging war, being tugged in what seemed like a million directions, and He met me right there and enveloped me in a Peace that only comes from Him. And for that reason, my heart is so utterly full of thanksgiving for His patience, love, tenderness, and faithfulness towards me.

In this spirit of thanksgiving, I’ve decided to make a list of 25 things I am thankful for.

  1. Sunshine. The promise of new day. Also, vitamin D comes from the sun, and vitamin D makes you happy; therefore sunshine equals happiness 🙂
  2. Mom and Dad. I love you guys more than I could ever express.
  3. My brother. I can’t even imagine my life without you. You are and always will be my very best friend.
  4. Health. I look at where I was 6 months ago, and I praise the Lord that He put certain people and certain doctors in my path to help me recover from the gut issues that had plagued me for years.
  5. Legs. I can run. I can walk.
  6. The ability to read and write. I think that’s something I take for granted far too often. It’s a blessing.
  7. Dark chocolate.
  8. All my past and present teachers and professors. Thank you for introducing me to new knowledge and new ways of thinking.
  9. My roommate. I’m so thankful for our friendship–I can’t imagine my freshman year of college without you!
  10. Seven Rivers. You are family to me.
  11. The clearance rack.
  12. Florida State University. ‘Nole and proud.
  13. Humor. Laughter is the best.
  14. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It’s my favorite devotional at the moment and it has transformed my quiet times. The verses for each day always either are or lead me to exactly what my heart needs to hear.
  15. My Bible study. I never would have thought that I would make such close friends in such a short amount of time. I love you all and I’m so thankful for your friendships and your love and encouragement! You guys have made FSU home to me 🙂
  16. The USA. In all the craziness that’s been going on in this country, I am proud to live in America, and I am so thankful for the freedoms I have.
  17. A roof over my head and food in my stomach. Another thing I continually take for granted. Thank you, Lord, for providing.
  18. Music. It has a way of conveying emotion when words alone can’t.
  19. All of my family. Grandma H, Grandma T, aunts, uncles, and cousins, I’m so thankful that you are in my life. Though I don’t get to see you as often as I’d like, I think about you all the time and I love you all so very much.
  20. The FSU Navs. I can confidently say that you all have made such an incredible impact on my life in just the few months I’ve known you all. You are the most loving and welcoming community I think I’ve ever met, and I am so thankful that God placed you all in my life!
  21. Coffee. I really, really like my coffee.
  22. Creativity and uniqueness. I admire that every single person has a different way of looking at the world. It reflects a most artistic Creator.
  23. Reunion. The sweetness of reconnecting with someone I haven’t seen in a while is cheeks-hurt-smile worthy.
  24. Challenges. I would not be who I am today without those points in my life where I couldn’t see the end, where I felt hopeless and insecure. Coal does not become a diamond without pressure. “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” -Isaiah 48:10
  25. The Cross. My solace, my hope. What once was ugly and scorned, Jesus has made a beautiful promise of salvation and peace. He has paid the ransom for my sin, and has covered me in His righteousness. Not because of what I have done, but because out of His wonderful love He CHOSE to give me that gift. And for that I am eternally grateful.

I hope you all had a beautiful thanksgiving day! There is so much to be thankful for!

Love always,

Shannon

 

Love

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Life is so much more than just jumping through hoops to get to the next level. In my two months of college, I’ve realized that life is about stepping back and taking a look at the big picture. Sure, head knowledge comes from textbooks and lectures, and that’s a great thing. But heart knowledge comes from taking each day as it comes, trusting God to direct you in the way He has planned for you. Each day He has something to teach, but admittedly I get distracted by the chaos of life and I forget to just sit quietly and let Him show me something incredible. Over the past week or so, He’s opened my eyes to the vastness of this little thing called love.

This weekend, I went home for the first time since I left for college. I got the chance to see my family and friends from back home, go to my high school’s football game, and attend my home church. It was a much needed weekend, and it was honestly just lovely in every sense of the word. I felt so loved and welcomed, and that love just encouraged me. Funny thing, the sermon on Saturday night just happened to be about love. God’s super cool, guys. Long story short (or short story short), I’ve had love on my mind for the past few days.

Sometimes, I’ll walk around campus here at FSU, and I’ll feel this connection with the people I pass. Nine times out of ten I don’t know a thing about the person, but still I feel it. It got me thinking, “Why is it that I feel this pull toward these people?”

Here was my “Aha!” moment. Yesterday, I cracked open my bottle of Cosmic Cranberry kombucha, and glanced at the “Words of Enlightenment” on the side of the glass bottle. Guys, lemme just preface this by saying God can speak to you literally ANYWHERE, even on the side of a bottle of fermented red liquid.

“I don’t know you, but I love you.”

Oh. My. Gosh. Right then I understood the connection I feel with these people walking around campus. How awesome is it that we can love others that WE DON’T EVEN KNOW because we have a God who KNOWS US down to our very core and loves us still, even in all our brokenness. Key word there is AND. He loves us in all our brokenness.

So, what does this love look like in action? God rocks, because like I’ve said before on this blog, He meets you right where you’re at. My bible study topic for this past week just so happened to be about witnessing/evangelism, aka telling people about Jesus. As I was going through it, a quote I remembered seeing in my senior year Apologetics class popped into my head:

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.” -Penn Jillette, magician in duo Penn & Teller, atheist

Ikesyay. That’s convicting. It’s also a huge insight into what love really looks like. Love isn’t about telling people what they want to hear. It’s not about clear skies and butterflies and holding hands and 24/7 smooth sailing. It’s about venturing out of your comfort zone, stepping into another person’s shoes, learning how they see the world, and sharing with them the truth that saves. Listen, y’all, Jesus literally bled and died for us BECAUSE HE LOVES US. Jesus’ priority wasn’t to win peoples’ favor. He told them what was true. Even if they didn’t accept it, He still CHOSE to pay for their sins, even though it caused Him pain unlike anything we’ve ever felt so we wouldn’t have to. Love is self-sacrificial.

Matthew 5:46-47 says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Love expects nothing in return.

You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
In jars of clay
So take this heart, Lord
I’ll be Your vessel
The world to see
Your love in me. Broken Vessels, Hillsong

Jesus stepped into our shoes. He left the perfection of heaven to live as a human on earth. He knows exactly what we may be going through. He knows our weakness and failure, and he loves us still. And He uses our brokenness and failure for his glory. We’re not perfect, but our God is, and it’s because of His grace that we can love others. Someone recently said, “I’m just way too blessed to NOT share this with the world.” And it’s true; He’s given me an incredible community, and has given me the opportunity to experience a peace and love that nothing in this world can give. How could I not want that for other people?

So, friends, let’s choose to love today.

Love always,

Shannon

Focus

As I’m moving along in this journey called life, I’m realizing that it’s all about perspective. It’s about the lens you see the world through, where you look to when things become blurry.

The past few weeks have been intense. Moving to a new city, being on my own, transitioning out of a class of twenty and into a class of forty thousand, meeting loads of new people who don’t necessarily have the same beliefs as I do. It’s been a challenge, but I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth in this short amount of time. It’s honestly kind of blowing my mind.

I think sometimes it’s a safe zone for me to just tell myself, “keep your eyes upward and everything will be ok. Don’t look outward to the world, just up.” The first couple of weeks after I moved in, I found myself praying this often, especially when I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. “God, keep my eyes always looking up. Keep me from being distracted by looking outward to the world.” I had this mindset that everything would be fine and dandy if I just kept my eyes up there.

Then, this past weekend, the pastor at the church I visited preached on Habakkuk. It’s that three-chapter-long book towards the end of the old testament…you know? To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what Habakkuk was even about. I walked in to church hoping that God would give me some direction in getting accustomed to this huge shift in my life, and being the broken person I am, I thought to myself, “this isn’t what I was looking for.”

BOY, WAS I WRONG. (Also, reality check to self–when has what you’ve been looking for ever worked out??)

You see, God has this incredible way of meeting you right where you’re at. After the pastor explained Habakkuk’s struggle of living in a time of immense injustice and violence, he finished the point with Habakkuk’s words, which basically said, “where are you, Lord? Are you just going to let all this happen without doing anything about it?”

The screen went blank. The next words that appeared literally gave me chills.

LOOK OUTWARD.

At that moment I felt God speaking to me clearer than ever.

5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

All this time I had been like a little kid hiding under a blanket, thinking that if I just cover my eyes up, all the bad stuff would disappear. That’s what I would think every time I’d pray “keep my eyes upward.” But God lovingly told me otherwise. “Do not worry, My child, I know what I am doing. Did you ever stop to think…perhaps I am using you for My greater purpose in this phase of your life? Have faith. Not faith you can muster up, but the faith I have given you in Christ. That faith will give you the courage to look out into the world I have placed you in. Trust that I am in control.”

Later on that week, I met with my Bible study for the first time. I flipped open my packet to page 1 and saw this image.

wheel
The Wheel

LOOK UPWARD in conversation with Me. LOOK OUTWARD in fellowship with the Christ community I’ve given you, but also go out and share My love with others. LOOK INWARD. Let My Word be your Guide. Do not be afraid, for it is not your strength that will accomplish these things. I am at the center, and it’s My faith that I’ve gifted to you, beloved.

God speaks. He is not silent. And He is mightily at work in the world.

And it’s in Him alone we find the confidence to look outward.

“You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God.” -A.W. Tozer

Love always,

Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

Some Senior Year Tips

imageAll you high school seniors, this one’s for you. Or if you’re just feeling nostalgic, this one could also be for you. Either way works for me. I wish I could’ve gotten this up earlier since you’re almost a month into school already…better late than never? We’ll go with that.

Senior year. It’s both incredibly exciting and slightly insane. There’s so much to look forward to! There’s also a whole lot that has to get done in a 180(ish) day timeframe. It can be a little daunting! But no worries, it’ll all come together and it will be AWESOME. Being the first one out of the nest in my family meant that I didn’t really have a path to follow from older siblings, so it was most definitely a learning process for me. I did pick up a few nuggets of (hopefully) gold that can help save your precious time and money. As I’m sitting here writing this, my roommate Virginia and I are brainstorming even more!

Here we go:

  1. Make a list of all the schools in your state that offer your major. I say “in your state” because generally, in-state tuition is A LOT more affordable than out of state. Early on in my senior year, I had all these dreams of going to school in Chicago, or Michigan, or basically anywhere BUT Florida. When I looked at the price tag, though, Florida quickly became my new best friend. (And honestly, I’m so glad I did stay in-state!)
  2. Narrow that list down to about 3-5. If there are some schools that you just aren’t feeling, don’t waste the money on the application. At thirty bucks a pop PLUS the cost to send SAT/ACT scores, it’s not worth it.
  3. Senioritis is only as real as you make it. Trust me on this one. You’re only going to cause more stress by telling yourself you’re plagued with it. Honestly guys, I used it as an excuse to be lazy. Laziness makes you procrastinate, procrastination makes you stress, and stress makes you just wanna curl up into a ball and wish you could trade lives with your cat. It’s a vicious cycle.
  4. Use a planner/Google Calendar. This goes for anyone, really, but I say this to seniors especially because THERE ARE SO MANY DEADLINES. Not only do you have to keep track of homework and tests for your classes, you also have to stay on top of college application deadlines, ACT/SAT dates, scholarship deadlines, etc. Side note, I just discovered the magic of Google Calendar, and I WISH I had known about it senior year. I tend to be a hardcore struggler when it comes to time management, and Google Calendar has helped me finally learn that a lot can get done in a 24 hour timeframe if you just plan it right.
  5. Schedule senior pictures EARLY. If you choose to have casual model-y type senior pictures done, I would highly recommend getting those done between October-February. I waited to get mine done in April. Let me just say to you that April is by far the craziest month of the school year, especially for seniors. I had something going on every single weekend, so I kinda had to just squeeze my picture session in wherever I could fit it. That time ended up being the day after Grad Bash (a senior-only night at Universal, lasting until 2am), and I had gotten approximately 5.5 hours of sleep the night before. So, if you want to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for your pictures, schedule them while you still have plenty of time. Also, since I waited so long to get my pictures, I ended up sending out my graduation announcements on the actual day of graduation. Oops.
  6. Keep a folder on your computer of all your college/scholarship application essays. Most application essay prompts tend to be along the same lines, so you’ll probably be able to recycle your essays multiple times. I basically used the same essay for all of my college applications, and I’d just tweak it here and there to fully answer the prompt.
  7. Make your application essay YOU. College admissions officers know your GPA, test scores, and classes you’ve taken, club involvement etc. You don’t need to include a list of everything you’ve accomplished–that’s what the application’s for. The essay is your voice in the admissions process, so be yourself! Most of the prompts will be something like “Tell us your story/about yourself/why you think _____ University is right for you,” etc. Personally, I’d say focus in on a specific area of your high school career in which you felt the most growth. I chose to write about the first time I acted on stage, and how that experience helped me to overcome my shyness and helped me become the person I am today (well, the person I was my senior year, technically). Make sure whatever you choose to write about is something you’re passionate about. (Rule of thumb: if you cry/laugh/feel emotional while writing, chances are it’s something that you care about.)
  8. Don’t let the price tag of a school scare you off. I applied to a couple of private schools thinking I’d never be able to afford them, but financial aid officers are very willing to work with you! Private schools give a lot of scholarship money, so it doesn’t hurt to apply if it’s one you’re interested in.
  9. Don’t feel pressured to go to a big university right away. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a community college first! I felt like I would be missing out on the college experience by going to a community college, but I’m noticing community colleges nearby large universities are able to be involved in all the clubs and organizations that the big school offers. Plus, it’s a smart move financially. I’m beginning to realize that now…
  10. Take advantage of all your school has to offer. Go to homecoming, date or not. Attend all the games and cheer at the top of your lungs for your team. Be involved your senior year; though you won’t have as many classes that require you to be on campus, I’d encourage you to resist the urge to go home and watch Netflix. Do an elective not because you need the credit, but to develop relationships with teachers and simply to learn something new. Make your senior year a memorable one.
  11. Push yourself. I’d also encourage you to not take the bare minimum when it comes to classes your senior year. Colleges want to see that you haven’t checked out and that you’re still working hard. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t. You will survive your AP classes, and THEY REALLY WILL HELP YOU ONCE YOU GET TO COLLEGE. I am by no means a math person, but I took AP Calculus and I’m still here, so…
  12. Spend time with friends and family, and get to know your hometown. In a matter of months, you’ll be surrounded by a whole new group of people, and you won’t have the luxury of sitting down to dinner with your parents and siblings, adventuring with friends, or even just seeing each and every one of them everyday. This is the last year that you’ll be living at home permanently, and I’m sure a lot of you are itching for independence (homegirl can relate), but soak up every minute you have with your parents and siblings. I promise you, you will miss them.
  13. Finally, cherish each moment, because time goes by so fast. I’m sure a million people have already told you this, but senior year FLIES. Seriously, it’s like you blink and then it’s over. It’ll be busy and wild and chaotic, but it’s going to be one of those years that you’ll look back on and think to yourself, “wow, that year was freaking fantastic.” So make the most of each minute!

 

If you made it this far, go you. I didn’t realize how long this was until I glanced at the word count, which is basically equivalent to a small research paper. 

To all you seniors, I hope you’re having an incredible year so far, and that it just keeps getting better! Work hard, be involved, and love every minute. You got this, Class of 2017.

Love always,

Shannon

Here Goes…

IMG_0302.JPGWell, hello there! This is a little surreal to me right now…starting a blog has been a dream of mine for several years now, and guys, it’s finally happening! Three cheers for 20 seconds of courage, amen? I guess now would be a great time to introduce myself. Like the home page says, I’m Shannon, though my family calls me Little She (hence my blog name). I’m a college student of one week, and guys, I’m thoroughly enjoying the collegiate life. The whole tiny room/ microwave meals/ 7+ mile daily walks/ kind of lifestyle’s really working out for me. Anyways, I’m a Chicago-born Florida girl who really, really loves sunshine. I’ve gotta say though, I do really miss my seasons around fall and winter. It definitely took some getting used to having green Christmases after a childhood of white ones! Florida in the springtime, though, is unbeatable.

So, like I mentioned in my bio, I’m majoring in dietetics (aka nutrition). I really have a passion for food and healthy living, so you’ll probably see a whole lot of food-related posts on here. In addition to that, I don’t have a meal plan here at college, so if any of y’all are in the same boat as me and need some dorm-friendly meal ideas, I gotchu. I’ve had a lot of health issues for the past few years, which has caused me to make some big changes in my diet. Currently, I’m eating a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and that can be TOUGH in college. So hopefully I can help some of you guys out!

I’m a big sister to my not-so-little brother, Connor, who is a senior in high school. I LOVE giving life advice to him and my “pro tips,” and I was planning to make him a senior year timeline and high school/college tips (because we big sis’s have the tendency to tell our sibs what to do…sorry bro, it’s inevitable), and then some other rising seniors asked me about it, and I realized, “why don’t I just put this on the internet for whoever could use it?” Plus, I’d really like to document my college experience and personal growth on here, so there will most definitely be college/school related posts up on here!

Though I’m passionate about all of this, the very most important thing in my life is my Savior. In the past few years, God has revealed so much of Himself to me and has shown me the worth and value I have in Him. I have experienced the peace that comes from trusting God, though it was nothing of my own choosing; out of His great love and mercy I can feel His presence. My hope is that each and every person who reads this blog will encounter His love. I will be sharing my story of His work in my life, as well as some verses  and bible study-type posts!

Thanks for stopping by and beginning this new venture with me! Cheers to new beginnings and simply living life!

Love always,

Shannon