Christian Living, Finding Peace, Grieving, Healing Season, Surrender, Uncategorized

You’re Not That Strong (and why that’s good)

“You’re gonna be so strong after this thing, honey,” her eyes were locked on mine. Her heavy hands giving my shoulder an affirming shake.

“How strong does someone need to be?” I asked. I don’t think I want…sob…I don’t think I want to be…sob…that…sob…strong.

I was young.

I was wise!

You should not be as strong as I am.

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I’m not talking about gains in the gym, I’m talking about lifting the crushing weight of hopelessness.

20 years ago today my parents, Lee and Jacque Cook were killed by an F7 tornado in Montgomery, Ohio.

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I know. Ouch. So ouch.

At the time I received a LOT of help, so help people with their “ouches” now.

My friend was right, I became “so strong through this” but I’m still no convinced that is a good thing. It’s been suggested that my strength is often detrimental and creates imbalances in life. I bet that’s true.

Guess why?

It’s fake news.

I’m not strong. I am carried by the King and He strengthens me.

If all of a sudden you’re like…ope…I’m out.

Peace.

And speaking of peace…Jesus…He gets a crummy wrap sometimes, but He is actually known as the Prince of Peace. 20 years ago today, I became a witness. I know that heaven fell on me like honey from a comb and once I get a taste, I was like freaking Pooh Bear.

20 years ago, I was walking around the wreckage where my family and house used to be.

And I was looking to two things a)treasures-anything that proved we existed and b)answers-like why?

At the time, I believed in reincarnation. I thought that in each life we had a lesson to learn in order to progress forward and eventually attain Nirvana. I don’t really know what combination the “all you can eat buffet of faith”, I’d stacked on my plate to think that way. But…there it is. I wandered the ground asking “why, God” and “what are you trying to teach me” as my born-again brother was on the t.v. news saying stuff like “God is so faithful. He’s so good. He took them together. They would not have wanted it any other way.”

I was entirely carried by friends, civic and church people who I didn’t know. You can read the whole story in my book The Healing Season: How a Deadly Tornado Wrecked and Reshaped My Faith. It’s everywhere books are sold (and there’s a small group DVD and audio book, too)

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I was not strong. I was carried. I was weak. The community was strong and carried me.

I “have  some “strength”. I may even be strong.Or, maybe I’m weak and trying to keep you at arms length by flexing mine. I’m in therapy for my “strong ” because like I said, it’s fake news. I am needy. I need my friends, family, church, counselor. I need my workouts (but to burn off the crazy as much as build muscle).

For at least 20 years I wore I black pleather jacket. It was bad to the bone and looked killer on me.

But but God is doing a new thing. Think about it: do the words “bad to the bone and killer” best describe who I am and who I want to be?

I threw the jacket away. It does not make anyone think I’m tough. It’s not going to stop someone from mugging me (or worse).

I am covered by the King and clothed in His mercy and grace.

I know…so much Christianeese.

But, dude, it’s Him. He’s my strength. He carried me then and now and always. And that’s enough for me. My God strength is my good strength. Not my real strength. Not my black pleather jacket. My Jesus.

So, 20 years now.

20-years with a yucky title, I didn’t pick “orphan”or want “tornado girl.”

We all have those, right? “Divorced guy” “Cancer mom” “Unemployed boy”.

Is there anyone in your life saying, “this is going to make you so strong”…sure.

It is.

But I really hope it also makes you weak. Weak enough that you need someone and reach out and feel them clutch your hand.

We can’t do it alone.

We are not made to.

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Plus those titles, “orphan” “looser” “failure” are also lies. I’m calling them out.

You are not those names. You are a God-breathed and divinely inspired movement of heaven on earth. Put that on your next job application! Right next to “emergency contact: Christ”.  Like the t-shirt says, we need a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. But we also need people. Not just our tribes either.

Part of my “so strong problem” is this lie: I don’t need anyone. I can do it myself.

Again, so much fake news.

We need each other and we are needed.

Taken to it’s natural extreme for this tornado girl looks like isolation that is justified by introversion, which is probably instigated by a scary freaking world where tornadoes kill parents and kids get shot at schools, and planes fly into buildings sometimes. Not always. Not usually. But sometimes. At the mall. Or movies. So maybe I’ll stay home.

But there’s a problem there.

It was not ME who held me up back then, it was YOU. It was them.

It was God (of course) and the community. I worry about the unity in commUNITY.

Today, 20 years later that worry is wasted energy.

I was not worried a tornado would come. And most of the “tornado” we worry about only swirl in our minds. But there is one who calms the storm and in our weakness, He is very strong.

Plus…biggest bonus prize ever, because of Him I know I for sure get to see Mom and Dad again. It’s a done deal and it’s makes me so bold in the soul I could trash talk a tornado: what you got windbag? It only LOOKS like you won.

But there I go, being strong again. Today, I’m being gentle with myself.

I’ll sit with a coffee, and blanket and dog. I choose the little way to remember: plant a flower, read devotions.

Maybe I’ll bake a cake (angel food, of course.) and share it with someone.

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Shannyn Caldwell is a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor and Founder of The Healing Season: Holistic Wellness Community.

 

 

 

Christian Living, Family, Finding Peace, Forgiveness, Grieving, Marriage, Syria, Uncategorized

My Big Fat Catholic Annulment

My new book, Raised Catholic was scheduled to come out this Christmas, but the Lord said, “Wait.” I waited and edited until I felt like the book was ready for other editors and polish it up for an Easter release, but the Lord said, “Not yet. It isn’t time.”

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 I was waiting further instruction from my Big Daddy in Heaven and getting nothing. I was cool with that thinking, maybe this one was just for me. For my family. Who knows? When in a single day I received messages from three separate people asking me, when Raised Catholic was coming out. That they had been praying and the Lord asked them to ask me. So, I took that to mean that the Lord does in fact desire for the book to be released to a wider audience. “Thanks for relaying the question and please let me know if the Father tells YOU because I have no idea and I’m waiting on Him.”

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I opened up the book and pressed in again. This time, rather than reading as author, I read as a reader and I honestly, wholeheartedly love…this…book…so…much. I also had one big question, “If this author cares so much about taking Holy Communion in the Catholic Church then why doesn’t she do what she needs to do?” The means Annulment of both my previous marriages. I prayed about that and I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt the it’s the Lord’s desire that I at least step out onto that path and see what He has to teach and show me there. I think He wants me to have even a deeper healing. So, cover me, I’m going in!

And I mean that, please lift up a covering of prayer. I have no idea why the Lord has me doing this and am pursuing this out of obedience.

I will probably want to include some of this experience in Raised Catholic and so again, I have no idea when the book will be released. They say the Annulment process is between 6-9 Months. Maybe less. “Like” Facebook.com/RaisedCatholic if you want to see it all pray/play out. Release info will surely be posted there, or just follow this blog, or (my favorite option..BOTH!)

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I’m excited. I’m scared. To me…that’s a good place to be. I trust that the Lord is behind this and so even though I’m afraid, I also know I don’t need to be because if God is good all the time. If this is Him (and it is) whom shall I fear?

I’ll be blogging my way through this, so if you have friends who could benefit, please feel free to share. This is what I know so far: This process is meant for grace. It’s meant for healing.

That will come of this, one way or another and so, I rejoice.

mecatholic

http://www.shannyncaldwell.com

http://www.thehealingseason.com

 

 

Christian Living, Finding Peace, Social Justice, Syria

#iamachristian #prayforsyria

I cried a lot today.

My friend, Michael, who just 6 months ago said, “I’ll never leave Syria. As long as there is any chance of news getting out of Syria, I will stay and translate it.” left Syria today.

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Today, I went to church.

Today I sang worship songs again and again to help me remember who God is.

That He continues to be a God of wonders and miracles, who works all things together for good.

Even this. Even this.

He won’t stop. He hasn’t stopped.

Our lives are not our own.

God is patient. He’s patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

He’s waiting for a repentant heart.

When I can’t even see a photo of ISIS, our Father sees one lost soul, and another lost soul. He see’s evil all over someone He made in His image and He wants that boy He made to repent. And He is patient.

Today we serve a God who has defeated the enemy.

And I know it doesn’t look that way.  I know.

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Today we watch cities and nations collapsing by the weight to hatred,violence and fear.

Shootings…in schools.

And we wait.

We wait for our loving, kind, patient God to move.

We say our prayers and wait for God to move.

And Michael gets on his knees and faces Mecca and prays for God to give him safe passage.

We wait for God to move.

And I hold hands with church-ladies and pray for God to give Michael safe passage and for salvation…so He could know our God, our Savior the comforter of our souls.

And we place our trust in Him.

And we burn in our bones till it hurts because He lives in us and justice screams and wails for satisfaction.

And Michael sends a message on IM “It is well, lady. God goes with me. Pray for me.”

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Are we know that He is moving even now.

And we know His ways are not our ways. And we know His ways are higher.

And we dare to reach out and reach out again until the one who is moaning for shelter connects with the open door and in that time we meet the face of God and look Him in the eyes.

Filthy face.

Dirt under our nails.

We see the kingdom.

We do not disrepair.

We. Believe.

#iamachristian

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To donate to boarder camps: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/disaster/refugee-crisis-in-europe

To open your home to a Syrian refugee contact Lutheran Social Services International Foster Program or on twitter #wewelcomerefugees