eyes wide open

They’ve suggested taking Benadryl as soon as I get on the plane, in case I experience nausea, headaches, ear-popping, or some other “I’ve-never-flown-before” side effect. 

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 




My stomach’s flipping like a gymnast and my thoughts are all over the place trying to imagine what it will be like, who I will meet, how the Lord will use me in another country.

I look at the highschool girls on Monday nights and hear their prayer needs and personal concerns: grades are failing, temptations rising, independence is surfacing and adulthood is just over the hill. 



Just take a Benadryl.

How easy it would be to sleep through all the unpleasant things. All the things unknown and uncovered. We would bypass the nausea, the headaches, the ear-popping. 



But, in your sleeping, what if you miss the free peanuts the plane hostess brings to your row? 

What if you miss the sunset or sunrise or lone cloud  claiming the horizon of some country you’ve never seen before?

What if you miss the hurting one in the seat behind you, stifling sobs and shaking shoulders?





Don’t close your eyes. 

Don’t ignore the hardships and struggles and frustrations.

Don’t keep your head in the sand forever because you can’t breathe down there, my friend.  





But I get it, I do. It’s scary. I’ve never flown before. 

I haven’t seen tomorrow’s blueprints and I don’t know what’s waiting for me when my eyes open to morning light coming through my window. 

But don’t be afraid. We have One who fights for us. All he asks is that we stay still, stand firm, and keep our eyes wide open. 

You will see deliverance.  

p.s. – the next time I write, I’ll have come back from my trip to Nicaragua! I can’t wait to share testimonies and stories and adventures with you. I appreciate prayers for our team. Thank you to all who gave, prayed, and supported. 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

proclaim the mystery

Must I understand it all?

Must I reach around books on shelves, lift edges of carpet rugs, and crane my neck to see high above in order to find what I’m looking for?
What am I looking for?

IMG_4507

It is mysterious how I can want something so badly but not hold it within my hands. Why not?
It is mysterious how I can be in one spot, yet desire to be in another that I’ve never been, can’t see, don’t even know about yet. How?
It is mysterious how the darkest days are the ones that actually shed light on the current state of your heart. Why?

IMG_4493

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

It’s a mystery. So much of life with no answers, no roadmaps, no neon arrows pointing in a certain direction.

It’s beautiful, though– the mystery. It’s exciting and compelling and liberating.

It’s a mystery that puzzles and satisfies. Causes hunger and contentment. Makes eyes wide and mouths drop. Hands fold and heads bow. All because of the mystery.

IMG_4644

It’s the mystery of love and grace and hope and glory.
It’s a thing we think we have a good grasp on, but when the miracles start we realize we have so much more to learn. Much more faith to grow. Much more mystery to uncover.

The greatness is that there’s always more. The well never runs dry. The manna never stops falling. The oil jar never empties. There’s always more.

IMG_4649

Proclaiming the mystery isn’t saying, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Or, “This is how you get your life together.”
Proclaiming the mystery says, “Let’s go on this journey of uncovering, unwrapping, and seeking together.” “Come learn forgiveness and freedom with me.”

That’s what proclaiming the mystery looks like.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

it’s like losing your balance

2015/01/img_4251.jpg

Maybe you forgot there was one more step in the staircase and you stumble forward, hands reaching for structure, feet running to stability.

Maybe there’s a big rain puddle and you’re wearing your favorite pair of shoes so you hop, skip, and wave your arms in circles to keep your soaking frame in a vertical position.

Maybe you’re sitting and day dreaming and leaning ever-so-slightly toward the sun shouting at you from outside your window and you have to catch yourself before you hit the ground and the dream goes away.

2015/01/img_4268.jpg

It’s that limbo state where you have no control. It’s that place where your body doesn’t cooperate with your mind in enough time to keep equilibrium intact. It’s a funny feeling, losing your balance.

You didn’t build the staircase and you didn’t make it rain and day-dreaming isn’t a fault for you to lay upon your conscience.

Losing your balance wasn’t your fault, but you’re still falling. Or maybe you’ve already hit the ground.

2015/01/img_4287.jpg

I hit the ground once. I didn’t have any control and I lost my balance and my mind was yelling at my body, “what are you doing?!”
I hit the ground so hard I’ve been walking gingerly ever since. I’ve taken baby steps, made a plan for if I ever were to lose my balance again, and cried because of how bad it hurt to hit the ground. The ground was really hard.

The funny thing is that even if I were to lock myself up in a room where there were no rain puddles, no stairs, nor windows, I might still lose my balance. It happens. And sometimes it happens for a reason.

2015/01/img_4285.jpg

Just last week, I lost my balance yet again. I didn’t hit the ground quite as hard; just got scraped up, no massive bruises. It still hurt though.

And it still hurts.

What if I fall again?
What if I can’t catch myself?
What if I hit the ground and don’t get back up?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

“And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.”

Losing your balance might not be the worst place to find yourself, you know. God heals broken people, not whole ones. God wants to fulfill his dreams for you, not yours. God wants to show you that even on the ground, bruised and bleeding and weeping, He is still your wall of fire and you shouldn’t be afraid.

The real question to ask ourselves is this:

If God ever allowed me to fall so hard that I lost the ability to stand again, would I still say He is good? Would I still sing Hallelujah? Would I still fight with all my might to kneel, at the very least, because He is worth it?

He is worth it. He’s worth it all. He’s worth every dream, every goal, every aspiration, every success, every fortune, every piece of my heart.

Because we must hang on to the promise that at just the right time He will look at us lying helpless on the ground and say, “Stand up and walk.”

And right then and there, you will be healed.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

365 opportunities for wonderful

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e39/47442178/files/2015/01/img_4257.jpg

life rules

1. the path is not straight.
2. mistakes need not be fatal.
3. people are more important than achievements or possessions.
4. be gentle with your parents.
5. never stop doing what you care most about.
6. learn to use a semicolon.
7. you will find love.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

middle ground

We are a wanting people. A people who hold one thing our hands but dream about receiving something else as soon as humanly possible.
We are a people who dream big and set goals and have ideas of what would make us happy, satisfied, content. And I don’t think we’ll ever stop. I don’t think we should ever stop.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e39/47442178/files/2014/12/img_4219.png

Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.

But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?”

The problem with our wanting is that it’s middle ground wanting. It’s the wanting within our realm, the natural realm, the only world we know.
There are two other kinds of wanting, however.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e39/47442178/files/2014/12/img_4218.jpg

You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.

There is the wanting that comes after the middle ground wanting when you’ve waited so long and you’re so thirsty that you’ll drink anything, even if it doesn’t quench your thirst or bring life to your bones. You’ve convinced yourself that you’ll never get what you wanted in the first place so you settle for second best. You settle for what kind of satisfies you but doesn’t really because you know it’s so much less than what you wanted.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e39/47442178/files/2014/12/img_4221-4.png

Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”

The wanting He wants us to have is the wanting for what He has to offer.

We can remain on our middle ground wanting, asking for what we think would be best. We can get disappointed when what we want doesn’t come to us within our allotted time table and settle for something second best, less than, and mediocre.

Or.
We can stop wanting on middle ground. We can go outside and lie on our backs and attempt to count the stars, and when we can’t count them all we can remember that the lord has so much more in store for us than what we’re wanting.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e39/47442178/files/2014/12/img_4220-1.png

He could’ve just given Abram a son. One son. But instead, he gave him millions. Millions. And because of that, we now get to claim the promise of God to Abram:

So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.

Let us not stay on middle ground wanting for one second longer.
Let us not let time and circumstances discourage us from holding on to what we know God wants for us.
Let us not settle.
Let us not reign ourselves in.

Let us let ourselves go wild and tell ourselves over and over again in a day that “greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” and “His thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways.”

Let us hold unswervingly to this Hope we profess.

Let us keep wanting and keep dreaming, but never think for a moment that this is the best we can accomplish, for with God, all things are possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

on blind love

I believe.

I believe in a God, a good God, with open arms and overflowing grace and compassion that knows no boundaries.

I believe in a God, except for when I don’t.

IMG_9898.JPG

I can’t tell you when it happened exactly, but I can tell you I found myself one day with a blank stare, pounding heart, and gripping fear.
Is there an eternity?

I have no reason to be questioning, but that is the nature of my flesh after all. So I wrestled. I prayed. I believe, yet heal my unbelief.

IMG_9938.JPG

If death comes knocking at the cost of my faith, will I stand firm on the Rock of Ages knowing my spirit will go home forevermore? Or will I stutter, stumble, and submit to a master that has never loved me, never died for me, never moved heaven and earth for me?

Will my spirit even go anywhere, or will it die and go back to the ground from which it came? And then everything is over?

IMG_9980-0.JPG

Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

IMG_0062.JPG

He knows it when we press into him– he wants us to.
He knows it when his power leaves him– he wants us to take it.

What heals unbelief?
Prayer.

Prayer that presses in deep and relies not on the words we speak or the sentences we choose, but the power that comes from the One to whom we are praying.

The bleeding woman reached blindly for his robe, knowing she’d be healed.

Reach blindly and confidently, and be healed of your unbelief.

Sometimes love really is blind.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

come with me!

UPDATE:
Only $470 more to raise! I would be so grateful for any donation, big or small. Thank you all for the support you’ve shown me!

Sweet friends and family,

I’m headed to Nicaragua! Specifically, I’m headed to Nicaragua in the spring with a missions team from Church of the Highlands, Tuscaloosa. I and about fifteen others have the incredible opportunity to go and serve the people of Nicaragua and show them the incredible Love that has changed our own lives.
For quite a while, I’ve been asking The Lord to show me what my next steps are for the coming year, and the doors have opened wide for this trip. So, I’m walking through those doors!

This trip costs $1700 total, per person, and this is where I want to bring you with me! I humbly ask that you prayerfully consider helping me fund this trip as The Lord leads you to do so. It would be an honor to go to Nicaragua on your behalf and love on the people we will meet.

This isn’t about one person (or fifteen) going on a missions trip. This is about the Church bringing Jesus to people who don’t know Him. And I want you to be a part of that!
If you would like to give, you can do so at churchofthehighlands.com/missions/give. Select “Nicaragua- 03/14/2015” as the trip to which to give and “Shelby Merriam” as the attendee to whom to donate.
You can also send a check if you would prefer. Email me at shelby.merriam@yahoo.com to work out details!

My greatest request is that you pray. Pray for our impact and influence on the people we will meet on this journey. Pray for our health and safety. Pray for soft hearts to hear the Word of God and be forever changed, just as we have been. Pray that above all, God’s will would be done and He would be exalted.
Believe with us that great things will happen- all for the glory of God!

On this splendid adventure, with all of my heart,
Shelby Grace

IMG_9840.JPG

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized