Monday, May 3, 2010

Scrape and Stretch

I am a dentist chicken.

And I just re-read that line and am now picturing my dentist in a chicken suit, but I'm leaving it, because it's funny.

You get the point, I'm a big 'fraidy-cat when it comes to The Scraper. And then there's the whole Calvity issue, which has only further compounded my jitters.

I had to go for my check-up today and I had myself convinced that I had a mouthful of cavities. I was already repeating the line in my head, "There must be something in the water around here..." I mean, it sounds so silly. It is so silly. I had worried myself to the point of believing that I needed to prepare for the looming disappointment. I visualized my reaction to "the news". I was mentally lining up sitters for drill day.

For the love of Pete, I'm not prone to dental woes. I had nothing to base all of this on. I was cooking up a plate of trouble with tableservice for one.


Oh, I really don't have a clue.

All I can tell you is this - I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around the meaning of life, these days.

I'm pondering the meaning of it all. I can't escape it. It follows me to bed and, come morning, to the shower, where it knows it has my undivided attention.

I used to think of life as one big gift, with a lush, high-quality, grosgrain ribbon tied around it, just so, in the color of my choosing.

And I still do think life is a gift. I know life is a gift. But maybe it's more than that pretty package.

Maybe there's more than the idea that God breathed life in us only to ensure that we are happy and carefree and wealthy and spoiled and protected and blah blah blah. Maybe those things fall more toward the bottom of His agenda. I'm second-guessing the notion that God is primarily here to serve our needs on earth - snapping His fingers and poofing away all of our problems. What has ever rooted within us the idea that His big job is mostly to lavish "blessings" (aka "things") upon us? I'm thinking that might be the very opposite of the Truth. What would be the big story behind that headline?

Sitting fixed beneath the lead vest, my mind murmured one last prayer for no cavities. And still, I worried that this might just be one more lesson, stapled to the bottom of the list. Maybe I'm too prideful about my dadgum teeth. Maybe that lesson learned vicariously through Calvin wasn't enough. Maybe we could use one more unexpected bill. Maybe-maybe-probably.

Then, the verdict. No cavities. Keep up the good work! It all looks great.

So, it seems, that life is one big gift. And today I choose this color for my bow. Make it double-width, if you please. I will unwrap this gift today and find clean, whole teeth. But I will also find a soul-stretching so real that it feels a little like the flu. I will find no promise that Cory's job will survive tomorrow's election. I will find my baby sister, boarding a plane for Africa, not to return for a year. I will find the tugging/pulling/yanking from God to lay down my pride, my smart ideas, my selfishness. I will find a home that extends far beyond these four walls. I will find compassion. I will find redemption. I will find sorrow. And joy that spills over the edges. I will find love undeserving. Faithfulness big enough to steady me against the hairpin turns of this world.

This life is the grandest gift. But only if I'm willing to take it all and only if I give it back.

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong."
Ephesians 3:17

holy experience


  1. Okay, I've been contemplating the same kind of stuff ever since my pastor asked us on Sunday, "Why didn't God take you home last night?" It's really making me re-evaluate my to-do list for the week.

  2. beautiful words and so comfortable for me to read...the same thoughts make their way into my mind as well...

  3. I'm praying!!!! God is still in control!

    : )

    Julie M.

  4. At first I read your opening line as you clean the teeth of your chickens. Then I realized that I don't recall you writing about owning chickens. Then I thought that maybe you go off and clean the teeth of other people's chickens and wondered when you had the time to do that. Then I realized that chickens don't even have teeth. Then I also remembered the rules of grammar ~ being possessives. But I am sticking with my original thought because when I think about it all day I will laugh out loud and make people wonder what I am thinking that is so funny :)
    Lovely Post, Shannan. And the photos of the tree are beautiful. They show, for certain, the miracle of life.
    ~Andrea in NH

  5. Thank you for these promises. I can feel my roots growing down into His Love! Your photos are a perfect illustration. Your words and insight are such an encouragement!

  6. What a beautiful post! First of all, I love the progression of the tree from winter to spring. So Pretty!
    Secondly, I love it that God gives us all kinds of differnet experiences, good and bad, to stretch and grow our faith in Him and to increase our love for Him.
    He has never promised us happiness, but Oh the Joy that He brings, even in the middle of something really hard, is so miraculous!
    Thank you for sharing you heart with all of this morning. You are not alone with these thoughts.


  7. Pondering and discovering some of the same things as you right now in my life. I guess this all comes as we seek God with all our hearts. When we ask for wisdom, He gives it. Maybe it is just wrapped up a little, or a lot, differently than what we anticipated. Live suddenly becomes about so much more than just me...

  8. This actually made me cry. I have faith, but I also have doubts. My grandpa was a Methodist minister and I used to be able to talk to him about everything, but since he passed, I haven't had someone I could really talk to. I envy people who can really BELIEVE.
    This post was beautiful, thank-you. :-)

  9. I'm discovering more and more that the gift of life is not the stuff of life, rather it's the days compiled together that account for my life. Realizing that, it becomes ever more pressing that I account for that which is the "gift."

    Our attitude plays such a vital role in how we view the world around us and whether or not we see the vast array of gifts strewn before us.

  10. Darlin', nothing is born without pain and struggle, and it seems that God is birthing some things in you. Breathe. Push.

    Love you.

  11. Beautiful post Shannan. Girl you are getting deep as of late. But it gets me thinking and that's a good thing...even in the morning when I'm not quite awake yet.

    It's a little unnerving to think that every thing is not always perfect, but that's just the facts. Those little fears you were thinking became a fact when Honey's dad got diagnosed with lung cancer. That was something that happened to other people. But when the bad things do finally touch you it really does change how you view everything. You realize even more how every second of bliss is a complete gift and that in an instant it can change things forever. But despite the good and the bad...knowing HE is in control and that there is a bigger plan that is where the trust and peace comes in:) Sorry to babble so long.

  12. Lovely post. You are a wise little chick.

  13. Beautiful post, as usual. :)

  14. You my friend are a VERY talented writer!!! Just beautiful! And your lovely photos matched your post so well!!

    Life is a gift!

    Hugs ~

    :) T

  15. Once again, you've been in my brain. If you haven't read Crazy Love by Francis Chan... pick it up this summer. I thought of it as I read your words.

    Loved, loved seeing Spring arrive through your photos, too.

  16. I can only thank you... this was a wonderful post.

  17. Great post today...loved it! I believe in God but sometimes have trouble believing God , you know where you say you trust then you try to steal back those troubles and try to fix it all yourself. I'm still a work in progress but oh how he loves me and blesses me! Have a great day. P>S> i have started saying swoon and all versions real and made-up of it ( swoony, swoonish, swoontastic) You have been an influence and I give you full credit for all my swoonalicious adjectives!!

  18. i'm learning (maybe) to appreciate the bad news, because there can't be bad news without good news...and
    I've been in love with many things, but mostly I've been in love with me. I really want to get over myself too...but I'm just so awesome!
    I love this post. LOVE THIS POST.
    it smacked me upside the head and I'll be chewing on it for a while now. hhhhmmmmm meaning of life,

  19. Amen sister...wonderfully written post...!

  20. Wonderful words, I think this post will linger in my mind quite a bit today :)

  21. This post is one of my favorites :) It was much needed for the day I have had

  22. I used to get pretty upset at my brothers for bringing tears to my eyes, but I'm thanking you. The last couple days have each one been "one of those days". Not terrible, just wearying. Thank you for the promises of life, challenges, and joy. I have loved following your blog. Keep up the wonderful blogging and encouraging faith.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Oh my gosh! I've been thinking about you today. Maddie is volunteering at one of the polls around here today and every time she calls me out of boredom I wonder how things are going for you guys. Yay on the no cavities. May that be the beginning of a new chapter!

  25. preach it girl! I have given myself a panic attack in the dentist chair, that's how much I hate the dentist. If I get any numbing shots at all it starts a parade of gagging I cannot control.
    I think you are right about God granting our wishes, we are here as servants of the Most High God, bringing souls to Jesus however we can, thanks for reminding me.

  26. I found your blot via my precious daughter in law's blog, lullaby lubbock. Your writing is an inspiration and is one of those reminders that we all need everyday of our iives. I can tell that God is at work in your life and I know you are a blessing to many! Thanks!

  27. I love your thoughts, and truly believe that it is the Holy Spirit talking to you and getting your gears turning! :) I don't think we were put here only to enjoy His blessings, or only to undergo persecution. Like in all things, I believe God has created balance.

    "Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. " Gen. 2:15 The words "cultivate and keep it", translated, are always in corolation with priesthood throughtout the bible. In other words, cultivate and keep it, is simply WORSHIP. That is all we were to do. But after sin, I truly believe that our life here is simply to acknoledge our SAVIOR and bring glory to Him until we are gracefully introduced to Him face to face. :)

    Even as undeserving as we all are, God has continued to bless us every day. It is awesome that while we're here (on earth), we get to experience all of His blessings as well. Here's to living life "different" and here's to continuous "soul searching" to find Truth and understanding all that God truly is! :)

  28. I like, I love it actually.

    And I'm so glad you didn't have any cavities :) The dentist is actually the one type of doctor I really like to see.

  29. it's all about him. i do struggle with this.

  30. So true! I appreciate your humility...and thoughtfulness. It's easy to want to take the easy road...much harder to learn something from this gifted life of ours...and the hardest to give back...but so worth it in the end. Thank you for your perspective. And thanks for visiting my little blog. :o) Oh, and loved the seasons through the trees. Such beauty.

  31. Ok, maybe you should read my post today. We seem to be living parallel lives right now.

  32. Beautiful post, my friend...the "tree in seasons" pictures were so perfect to go with it.

    I think you are doing amazing things with your life, Shannan...making loveliness out of all you touch....starting with that darn dentist in a chicken suit (congrats on your clean bill of health on the chompers, btw).

    Have you ever heard "Every Season" by Nichole Nordeman? She wrote it for a friend's funeral and I can barely get through it when I sing it at church, b/c it has so much impact for me....give it a listen..I believe it's on the "This Mystery" album. Seems appropriate for your state of mind right now.
    big hugs comin' at ya-

  33. Yep... I ponder those thoughts a fair amount too these days! God is diggin deep lately! and so many of you fabulous ladies I have met through blogging are (not helping) encouraging me to let God dig deeper!! walls. I have uncovered walls. Your posts inspire! and make me giggle... but I shouldn't really like you all that much given you have NO cavities!! I don't want to talk about it! =) oh ~ love love the verse! perfect ending to this post!
    Jenn ~ aka ~ crown queen ~ (dental crown queen that is)!!

  34. Wow...this post got me thinking. I wonder about some of those same things myself sometimes. Great writing!

  35. What a treat to find your blog too! Thank you for sharing your words with me. I am so grateful for one more cherished new friend.

    May you enjoy the Lord's grace today: more of himself.... far greater than any other "blessings" eh?

    Keep posting this beauty. Thank you friend.

  36. Have you ever read anything by Francis Chan?...Sounds up your ally...