Monday, February 25, 2013


Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

Here goes the *back story* on it.

I was talking to a good friend the other day, and telling her about my life. I was catching her up on the new things going on.

And, as part of my saga, I told her how God had nudged me (pushed, prodded) into something lately.

You see, many months ago I was asked by someone in my new church to join the AWANA ministry.  (In case some of you don't know – AWANA stands for "Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed" - from 2 Timothy 2:15.  It's a Bible memorization program for elementary school children).

She invited me to come to registration night in September.  It was an interesting evening.  I had forgotten how much I am drawn to kids.
So, I was thinking that I was very close to signing up to help.

But then I was informed that our church has a policy that you must attend for at least six months before joining any ministry.  It made sense to me, and I respected their position on commitment.  So, I told everyone to remember me in January, when my "probation period" would expire.

Well, in the interim, I've got to be honest.  I've gotten rather complacent. Gotten used to doing a lot of sitting around, doing my own thing.  Gotten really comfortable with my rather empty calendar.

Figured that I would just let this opportunity with AWANA 
pass me by.

Well, that didn't seem to work.

Shortly after the first of the year, I "happened" (God) to run into a woman that I rarely see at church (we go to different services).  As we were passing in the parking lot, she said, "Oh, don't forget AWANA.  Hope to see you there!"

I think I mumbled something really *pious* like, "Yeah, I'm praying about it…"

Two days later, while I was out of town, I got a call from "The Hub."  Turns out that the woman who's the Children's Ministry Director had called.  She wanted to ask me to join the AWANA ministry.

Uh, yeah.

God nudge (push, prod).

Sometimes He's not subtle.

I figured that this was coming directly from Him.  Because no one had forgotten about my "probation period."  No one had forgotten about me. They even told me that they had been essentially *counting the days* until I was available…and that several things had changed, and they were losing many volunteers.

The timing was perfect.

(First little fist is raised at this point…)

So, I attended the monthly meeting of leaders after church.  Now, given my druthers, I would have picked working with the little guys – the kindergartners, or the 1st or 2nd graders.  Turns out that the *need* is with the T & T group (3rd-6th graders).

I listened while one leader bemoaned her *smart* but evidently very "rambunctious" group of kids.  She said how hard it was to *keep them on task* and how she was constantly working to keep everyone "sitting still."

That's when the Children's Ministry Director introduced me as the latest volunteer.

This other woman turned around and looked at me like I was a life preserver.  "You're going to be in my group, right?" she said with barely-disguised hope (desperation?) pouring out of her eyes.

Yup, I am.

(Little fist raised again…)

So, later that week I showed up for my first official AWANA night.  It was a madhouse! Kids everywhere.  Now, I am acquainted with working with kids before.  I spent many years volunteering in elementary school classrooms – with my own boys, and many years following.

It's just that it's been a long time since I've done that.

And I learned a new definition of AWANA in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:

A ged
W oman
A lot of
N oise
A hhhhhhh!!!

After two hours, I was exhausted.  Rattled, run ragged, frazzled, fatigued – left with a rather huge need for an Advil (or two or five).

As I walked to the car, I looked up at the sky and said, "Lord, I don't think I want to be here…"

To which He said, "But I want you here."

(Another little fist shaking at the sky…)

Then I said, "But I don't want to work with the older kids."

To which He said, "But that is where I need you."

(Oooo…the little fist gets raised again…)

Again, I spoke: "Lord, I don't want to do what You want me to do."

To which He said, "Do it anyway."

Ah, I am learning more about Him.

He has a way of taking your word when you say you want to serve Him. He has a way of telling you what He wants you to do and the where and when of it, too.  He has a way of nudging (pushing, prodding) you into His purposes.

And then I think He waits to see if you'll obey.

Does He chuckle at the little fist I raise to Him?

I think perhaps He does.  Because I know that HE knows I don't mean it in defiance.  I know HE knows that I'm raising it to Him, not at Him.  

He knows that what I'm really saying is this: "Oooh, Lord.  I know I'm going to do what You want, but I just wish I didn't have to.  (Sigh…) But I know I will because I love You."

And I know that He's going to say to me (with a smile):  "I know.  I love You, too.  That's why I push you out of that comfort zone of yours.  I want You to be MY servant."

That's the keybecoming HIS servant, not choosing how to serve Him. Doing what HE wants me to do, not doing what I want to do "for" Him. Learning how to obey Him when HE calls, not just showing up when I feel like it.

So, I climbed into my car, after a crazy *baptism* into the AWANA world, and cried.  And in that moment, my little fist shaking turned into a hand held over my heart.

"Here I am, Lord.  Use me."

To which He said:  "I AM."

Bending my will to follow Him

"Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, 'This is the way you should go,' whether to the right or to the left.'" (Isaiah 30:21, NLT)

Has God ever called you to serve in a place or a way that really stretched you?  Did you obey His call?

Linked today with:


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, February 22, 2013


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: commit

What does the word commit mean?

What does it mean to commit yourself to the Lord?

What is the most difficult thing for you to commit to Him?

Let me know what you think!!

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3, NIV)

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, February 18, 2013


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your life story was a book in the Bible?

I never have, really.  Until I read something today in one of my devotional books.

So, the thought struck me – what if my story was in the Bible?

My initial reaction was, "Heaven forbid!"  (Literally!  LOL…)

You see, my story is a bit *checkered*.

My story includes events that I am terribly embarrassed and ashamed about.  Circumstances in which I often did the unthinkable.  I caved in to temptation, I sinned willingly, I walked a far way away from God.

There are lies and betrayals – big sins and little sins – and often, a woeful lack of faith.  There are weak moments and ugly moments.

Yes, some moments of spiritual soaring.

Some really, really boring parts.

But, in the end, it is a story full of reality.

Just like the Bible.


And that is what struck me today.

My devotional was talking about the life of Jacob.

And here's what it said:

"As we look at the panorama of Jacob's life…we see again that his story is really about God, not him.  Looming in the background…we see a God who has higher purposes, who works out his plan despite Jacob's insistence on doing it himself…we see God in the shadows before him and surrounding him…reminding Jacob of the promises God still intends to keep…we see God filling in the gaps...

God doesn't need perfect people to do the things he has planned…Each believer is chosen by God [and] nothing can change God's love for us."

(From "Meet the Bible" by Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn, c. 2000, Zondervan Publishers)

Jacob's story wasn't always very pretty.  He was deceitful and selfish.  He often tried to take matters into his own hands.  He wrestled with God.

And yet, in all of it, God was weaving HIS story.


What is He saying in my story?

Would the book of Sharon be an inspiring story?

Would it be convicting?

So, as I find myself in my 5th decade (chapter) and my 8th year (verse) of that decade (I'm 58 - 5:8 - get it?!)what is my book saying about God?

Would people read about my childhood, when I loved the Lord as my best friend?

Would they see how I was a good girl, a church-going Christian – involved in so many serving things?

Would they see a marriage and children?

Would they then see the "detour" I took in life?

Would I be pitied, or chastised, or condemned?

Would they turn the page and see the prodigal return to the loving arms of the Father?

Would they see that my story is really HIS story?

Because it is, you know.

A grand story of His faithfulness, His guidance, His love.

Just another installment in the overarching Saga of Mankind.  Another installment in God's epic and exciting story of redemptive Love.

So, I've wondered...

Would I be anything like Job or Abraham or David?

Well, yes.

For I am just another of God's chosen *misfits* – loved by a perfect God.

It would be wonderful if, at the end of the day, my book included something like this:

"In the land of California, there lived a woman whose name was Sharon.  This woman was blameless and upright; she feared God and shunned evil." (original reference, Job 1:1)

"Sharon believed God, and God counted her righteous because of her faith. She was even called the friend of God."  (original reference, James 2:23)

"Sharon, a woman about whom God said, 'I have found Sharon, a woman after my own heart.  She did everything I wanted her to do.'"
(original reference, Acts 13:22)

What if my story was in the Bible?

It would be like every other story in the Bible.  It would be like your story. Because it's about a real person, trying to live real lifefull of ups and downs, successes and failures, moments of glory and abject shamea story in which God is looming in the shadows.

Behind me, beside me, before me.

And this is how I would like it to end:

"And in the end, God welcomed Sharon home.  And as He embraced her, with a twinkle in His eye He said, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"


I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

If your life was a book in the Bible, what would it say?  How would you like it to end?

Linked today with:


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, February 15, 2013


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: endurance

How would you define the word endurance?

What does it mean to have spiritual endurance?

What requires the most endurance in your life?

How do you think God rewards (or will reward) endurance in our faith journey?

Let me know what you think!!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."  (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, February 11, 2013


Well, it will be Valentine's Day in a couple of days.

A day when we celebrate love.

It makes me think of cards, and flowers, and candy.  I'm sorta particular about my candy.  I'm not a *See's box of chocolates* kind of girl.  I'm more like Hershey's chocolate kisses, and M & M's – and if you want to throw in a couple of Milky Ways or Crunch Bars – I will accept that.

So, it's a day for sweethearts.

But, this year, I'm also thinking about my *heart* condition.

Not my physical heart, but my spiritual heart.

How's my faith pumping lately?

I've got to be honest.  I've been all over the map with this move to the mountains.  In the beginning, I really struggled.  Then things got better.  I thought that I had finally "arrived" up here.  But then the holidays came, and some winter challengessome boredom and some frustration – and boom.  I hit the *pits* again.

Recently, I was driving back "up the hill" from a visit to my family.  

I told God out loud that I needed to hear from Him.  I wasn't exactly sure that I wanted to hear from Him.  Because I knew the words would probably be stern.  I have not been a pillar of longsuffering lately.  Mrs. Crabby has taken up residence.

So, though I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to hear from Him, I needed to hear from Him.

I waited a couple of minutes.  Nothing.  So, I decided to call a friend and yak for a while to make the trip go faster.  Yes, I realize that I was putting God "on hold."  Sometimes (almost always) He waits for me to quiet myself before He speaks.   I've been having trouble with *quiet* lately.

Anyway, after about an hour, I had to get off the phone.  I was heading toward that last 30-minute stretch of winding mountain road into town. And there is no cell phone signal on that stretch.

So, here's the scenario – me, a dark and winding road, no sound but the hum of the car – until He spoke:

"Do you trust Me?"

OK, that caught me off guard.

I answered without thinking…

"No, I guess not."  (At least not in a practical *down-deep-where-the-peace-is-and-I-live-like-I-believe-it* kind of way)

He said it again:

"Do you TRUST Me?"

I answered, a little more quietly...

"I want to, Lord."

Once more, He said it again – a patient third chance, just like He gave Peter:

"Do you trust ME?"

And I spoke the most honest thing I could think of to say to Him…

"I trust You, Lord.  But I just don't trust You to do the painless thing."

And this is what He said to that:

"Then trust Me to do the right thing."

I was rather floored by that.

I spent the rest of the drive really pondering.  What is trust?  And why do I have this latent "mis-trust" of God?  

I absolutely DO trust that He is ABLE to do all thingsevery thing – the impossible things.  I know that He is omnipotent.  Fully capable of any supernatural feat that He desires to accomplish.

I also absolutely know that BAD things often happen.  Things don't always work out.  Sometimes people aren't prevented from a terrible accident, sometimes the diagnosis is cancer, sometimes a child wanders away, sometimes a job is lost, sometimes marriages aren't saved…

Sometimes life does not work out.

And that's where I have trouble.

I know God CAN – I just don't know if He WILL.

That's where my reply came from – from having misgivings about God's responses to my prayers –  because I want to avoid pain.  And sometimes, He allows pain to happen.

But, His last reply to me was powerful.

Stern, but caring.  Firm, but comforting.

Can I trust Him to do the RIGHT thing?

Yes, I can.

I absolutely believe that He loves me, and loves my family and friends.  I do believe that He is perfectly good.  I do believe that He has a plan and a purpose that cannot be thwarted by circumstances.

God is not controlled by the inconsistencies of life.

The *ups and downs* do not dictate His wishes.  He is the One unchanging Presence in the entire Universe.

Therefore, pain does not rule.

Death and disease – the remnants of the Fall – are not God's final answer.

This is the ultimate secret to learning how to trust.  This is where faith's "rubber hits the road."  This is the core of my *heart* condition.

Do I trust GOD'S ways of accomplishing the right thing – the greatest thing – in my life?

Even if it's painful?

Evidently for me, trust is a very big CONTROL issue.

I want to avoid anxiety, to never experience pain, to have a steady and happy life…

God wants me to look like His Son.

So, my faith is pumping – yes it is.

But it needs to strengthen that pulse!  

Just as my physical heart is strengthened by exercise, so my faith heart is strengthened by trials, by struggles – and yes, by pain sometimes.

Not easy…

But I need it.

I need to learn the invaluable lesson that pain and peace are not mutually exclusive.

I need to learn that I am not in control – (evidently on this one, I'm still in elementary school…just sayin’)

I need to believe in my heart of hearts that God is truly good – all the time.

I need to trust God to always, unerringly, lovingly do the right thing.

And yes, at the end of the day, I really do trust Him for that.

After all, I do want to look like His Son…

"And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God's Word and the right of their necessity]." (Psalm 9:10, AMP)

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD.  'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" 
(Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

How's your *heart* condition?  Is your faith beating strong?

Linked today with:


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, February 8, 2013

"FAN THE FLAME" FRIDAY - Righteousness

Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: righteousness

What do you think the word righteousness means?

How would you define God's righteousness?

What does it mean to you to be able to *put on* the righteousness of Jesus?

Let me know what you think!!

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.  I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.  For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith." (Philippians 3:8-9, NLT)

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, February 4, 2013


So, the other day it was Spa Day for Marty.

Truth be told, there isn't too much spa treatment involved.

A beagle does not need to be groomed, trimmed, or styled.

He just needs to be cleaned.

But, we like to call it Spa Day because…well, because it makes Marty feel special.

Many dogs – (most dogs??) – are terrified of the vet.  The dog that I grew up with, Bo, a dachshund, started shaking the minute he got into the car.

Not Marty.

He LOVES the vet.

Which is surprising to me, considering the experiences he's had there.  When he was just two months old, before he was ours, he spent about 10 days there battling the deadly Parvo disease.  That involved all sorts of *sick*, and lots of needles and IV treatments.  Then, shortly after that, he was back for treatment for parasites.

Then, of course, there was that whole neutering escapade.

You'd think that THAT would have made him never want to go to the vet's office again…not EVER.  But no, not so.  Marty still loves going to the vet's because…

…well, because he's Marty.

One of the friendliest, sweetest, most gregarious animals I have ever known in my life.

Marty is a people person.

And the vet's office has lots of people lots of people that know and love him.

It's pretty funny.  I've had to take him to Spa Day a few times myself.  The vet's office is about 10 minutes away from where my son lives.  At first, Marty is just pretty excited about going on a car ride.

But as we begin to approach the parking lot for the vet's office, Marty becomes more and more concentrated on our surroundings.  He often sits up in the passenger seat.  And, as soon as I get into the left-hand turn lane, he KNOWS where we are.

And he can hardly contain himself.

The moment I put my car into "park," that dog is beside himself with glee.  (Maybe it's more accurate to say he's beside ME with glee…like in my lap).

Once inside, he pulls on his leash, he jumps up to say hello, he sniffs and chuffles every square inch of the waiting room.  Occasionally, though we have thoughtfully pre-peed him in the bushes outside, he does a little *marking* on the desk or floor.

Hey, he's a dog, and it's always fun to let other dogs know you've...ahem...
"been there."


With barely a nod to my presence, scarcely a sniff good-bye, Marty is off. Around the corner – see ya later!

So, after a long day, the time comes to go pick him up.

I love this part.

I pay the bill, and they go get him.  I can hear him coming long before I see him.  No, he isn't barking or anything – remember, Marty is a "silent" beagle.  He's only barked like 10 times in his life…

But, I can hear his newly-trimmed toenails (and fingernails) clicking on the tiles.  And then, the best moment of all, Marty appears around the corner.

He rushes over to greet me.

Marty might not be too good at good-bye, but he's a superstar champ at HELLO!

Boy, does he smell good.  And his little beagle hair is all fluffy.  Well, perhaps fuzzy is a better way to describe it.

But the best thing of all?

Marty is wearing a bandanna.

Sometime last year, the vet's office started giving their dogs bandannas after their baths (this last Spa Day, Marty's was red).  I think it's an adorable idea.

I'm sure that Marty knows he's got that thing on.  And he's proud of it.  He has a certain bounce in his step, a certain joy in his trot that he didn't have when he first came in.

Yup, Marty knows he's special – and he knows he's clean.

I'm thinking about this tonight.

Marty teaches me a great many things about God, and this is no exception.

What does it feel like to be clean?

I think sometimes I take for granted the great work, the impossible work that Jesus did for me on the cross.  He took every single filthy thing I've ever done, or that I ever will do, and He crucified it.  He washed it clean.

The dirt and grime and stain of sin – the blot that I could not remove – He bore it all.

And washed me clean.

Honestly, I think that should change how I live every single day.  It should give me a certain bounce in my step, a certain joy in my trot.

It should make me feel beside myself – I should be barely able to contain my glee.

I know I. AM. CLEAN.

Once and for all clean.  Eternally clean.  Deep down where it counts clean.  

You know, maybe today I'll wear my red bandanna – and I'll wear it proud.

Because yes, indeed, I am special to the Master of the Universe!

"Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin." (Psalm 51:2, NLT)

"For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins."  (Leviticus 16:30, ESV)

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7, NIV)

"I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion." (Jeremiah 33:8, NLT)

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses..." (Ezekiel 36:25, ESV)

"When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?'  Jesus replied, 'You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.'  'No,' Peter protested, 'you will never ever wash my feet!'  Jesus replied, 'Unless I wash you, you won't belong to me.' Simon Peter exclaimed, 'Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!'" (John 13:6-9, NLT)

Are We There Yet??? 

I Am Special 

What does it feel like to you to be *deep-down Jesus* clean?

Linked today with:


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, February 1, 2013


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: longing

What is your definition of the word - longing?

Do you think there's a difference between wanting something and longing for it?

Spiritually speaking, what fills your heart with longing?

Let me know what you think!!

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven's Armies.  I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God...How happy are those who can live in your house, always singing your praises."  
(Psalm 84:1-2, 4, NLT)

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"