No More Empty Cups.

 PC: Emma York Photography 

PC: Emma York Photography 

Isaiah 30:1-18

For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said: "You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence. But you are not willing." 

You say, "No! We will escape on horses" -- therefore you will escape! -- and, "We will ride on fast horses" -- but those who pursue you will be faster.  One thousand will flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you will flee, until you remain like a solitary pole on a mountain top or a banner on a hill. 

Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy.

//

Raise of hands to those of us who are on the run? Maybe it’s been a long weary run for miles upon miles now. Fleeing from emotions, past sin, mistakes, guilt, shame. Or maybe, perhaps, it’s been an intense full-out sprint? Something so treacherous, so deep that you, yourself, don’t even want to face, let alone bring it to others around you, or even worse Your Heavenly Creator, so you’re fleeing as fast as you possibly can.

We have all been on the run from something: darkness, fear, denial, sin…

We can all empathize with one another in this area if we’re truly being honest with our real selves. 

And we’re running.. Running because that's what the darkness tells us to do. That's what we've always known, since the very first fall of Adam and Eve. Running, because we’re afraid of this imagined, dreamed up, false vision of God, Our Heavenly Creator. Running, because we've started to believe this intense vision of Him sitting upon His Heavenly throne just waiting to spite us.

Maybe He’ll spite us, we fear, with a form of karma: what goes around, comes around. Right? Maybe He’ll spite us, we fear, with silence and a sense of immense darkness.. Why would He desire to love me anymore with this platter of filth that I've indulged myself in… Maybe He’ll spite us, we fear, by taking something precious to our very souls far, far away from our very presence: family, friends, passions, desires, locations, hobbies, happiness, joy… Because in reality, we deserve that, right?? Lightning bolts, thunder, shattering earth quakes, gut wrenching pain.. That’s what I see.. That’s what I fear. That's what, sadly, I've begun to believe..

And then I am humbled, shaken, re-evaluating everything that I’ve been taught, raised up with, and commanded to do.. And it appears that I have it all backwards..? 

Reading through Isaiah 30:15-18, the Lord God softly beckons us to come back to Him. He expresses His deepest earnings for us to walk into His welcoming, loving arms to a place where rest, freedom and rejuvenation belong.. And yet?? Yet, He knows that we will flee. That we will continue to escape with fear with every effort to flee far away from our sin. We run on the fastest carriers possible. Believing that if we can just out run this filth, this inequity, this shame then we, our broken selves, will one day be able to forget, move on and remove ourselves from our past…

.. But the Lord God says no, they’ll find you. You'll try the fastest get away possible, but those who pursue you will always be one step faster, one step quicker than you could ever imagine.

And the Lord God, pleads.. Please, come back., child Please, child, just be still with Me. I am not sitting in spite upon my throne. No, I am sitting in endless grace, compassion and mercy. Yes, I want to give you Mercy. Yes, I want to shower you with compassion.. an endless form of love. Please, come back and wait. Please come back and rest. Come, let your soul be restored. This requires nothing of your own effort, but by everything of my very own Power. Come back, child. Come back.

Can you hear Him now?? Beckoning us to come back and simply sit still and present at His feet. Come and fill up your cup, come and grab some rest. No shame here. All sin, wiped clean. All inequities, now forgotten. 

Come back, child, and I will restore that quiet confidence, and I.. I will give you that eternal, beautiful Hope. 

With Love,


Shelby Liana

 PC: Robyn Kejr & Emma York Photography

PC: Robyn Kejr & Emma York Photography

Life as We Know It.

We aren’t doing life in the typical manner of what we’ve always seen or grown up watching on television. We do not have fancy things. We do not own a house, nor will we for some time to come. Josh did not receive a 4-year college education, and I left the hospital as a new nurse after just a quick 9 months. We do not have it all together. We are not perfect. We are not trendy. We make mistakes all too often.

What life looks like for each one of us does not and will never resemble the same exact formula as the individual standing next to us in line or as the brave missionary traveling far across seas to adventure out on an unbeaten path. And yet? His plans for us are still 100% Valuable, 100% Intentional. And that? That little aspect of life, in itself, is absolutely so beautiful beyond belief, so radiant beyond description, and so grand beyond measure. Can we rejoice in that for a split moment of today? That we, although together make up one Body, each provide different compositions, contain different parts to allow it to function properly – from missionaries to business men - from researchers to coffee shop workers – from doctors to pastors, we all belong here together. Can I just get an Amen for that?! Maybe an Alleluia?! A Bwana Asifiwe?! Can we just be glad in His unwavering, unique design shone out fiercely amongst us all in so many different, intricate ways?? Can we simply rejoice in His sovereign, yet so beautiful Creations laid out right before us?

He has a vision for each one of us to further His Kingdom right where we currently are. Nothing in your past has been a mistake or road bump in His sight. Nothing in your current He does not already know, and not one thing in your future will ever surprise Him. He has given us each talents, joys and creations, in so many different ways. And this means no judgment shall be casted. No scoffing shall be heard, and no abuse shall be done. 

Let us rejoice. Let us rejoice in the simple Gospel. Let us laugh. Let us laugh in the little, frustrating moments of our day to day life, and let us fight. Let us fight on to press fiercely into what He has in store for us next. Even when that next step appears to be bone shaking and chilling, frightening and unappealing, and perceiving to be a high mountain top absolutely incapable of conquering over. We no longer have to work hard to earn this sweet Reward in life. We are no longer slaves to law holding us down. We simply just have to live one day - one step - one foothill at a time. We have to take the time to dwell in His Grace and understand His Presence. We have to be able to accept and believe that the essence of being imperfect is truly okay. We have to believe that we are worthy of His Value, Love and Belonging. And we have to kick false, religious check lists in order start living a life full of Intent and capability in Prosperity while living out the Simple Gospel:

Loving the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. (Mark 12)

Never taking a single breath for granted and bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth – even if that end is where your seed is currently planted.

You have life within you. Do not let that life be robbed by the devil of doubt creating false beliefs in your mind that you simply “cannot” – that you are not qualified enough, good enough, smart enough or fit enough for a certain task laid out ahead.

His seed is already planted. Let us allow it to grow deep within us, and let us allow it to shine.

love always,

Shelby Liana (Liana Moments) and Joshua Dean

A Real Kind of Happiness. A Real Kind of Love.

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: ..

.. if serving, in our serving; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness..

           ...Let love be genuine."

(Romans 12:6-9)

jamaicablog-8.jpg

I don't have the words to curate exactly the love I felt back then amongst the Jamaicans' warming and inviting presence, so I am going to let these photos below speak for themselves.

A small description provided with each photo below to show the impactful, constant reminding love that these people shared with us in just three quick days.

Not only did they serve us, they served us well with cheerfulness and acts of grace even when we didn't deserve it. Many of these individuals do not come from multimillion dollar families; the money doesn't make them happy. Many of these individuals do not have the means to provide an extravagant Christmas Day dinner course; an extravagant meal on earth isn't what makes them happy. Many of these individuals do not receive smile after smile when it comes to their work amidst the resort -- consistent smiling faces isn't what makes them happy. So what does? How are these individuals SO genuinely happy? All that I could think of of when it comes to their love is a simple term, but a strong Being, "Jesus."

Their love is an exact replica of how I imagine Jesus' love was on earth: humble, genuine, and pure. Bringing light to even the darkest of beings.

Dive in below and witness the pure happiness that was shared with us on these Jamaican days.

 

 Not a moment went by where their smiles didn't shine.

Not a moment went by where their smiles didn't shine.

 Photobombs happen. This might be the best one yet. She's the resort's wedding planner, and she completely rocked.

Photobombs happen. This might be the best one yet. She's the resort's wedding planner, and she completely rocked.

 Nickesha, the woman behind the desk. Graciously coordinating our visit to the beach to meet up with Robin's Nest Orphanage crew! She hooked us up with the best driver around.

Nickesha, the woman behind the desk. Graciously coordinating our visit to the beach to meet up with Robin's Nest Orphanage crew! She hooked us up with the best driver around.

 And of course, what's a grand image without another photo bomb??

And of course, what's a grand image without another photo bomb??

 The man behind the wheel. Thanks again Nickesha for the ride!

The man behind the wheel. Thanks again Nickesha for the ride!

 Hands down, happiest cab ride we've ever taken part of. 

Hands down, happiest cab ride we've ever taken part of. 

jamaicablog-16.jpg
 A look inside of what Jamaica actually looks like off of the resort.

A look inside of what Jamaica actually looks like off of the resort.

 Wouldn't be livin without a little bit coffee.

Wouldn't be livin without a little bit coffee.

 Jodie Ann, you brightened my day more than you know. Thank you for your soft smiles and welcoming personality.

Jodie Ann, you brightened my day more than you know. Thank you for your soft smiles and welcoming personality.

 Damart, the most stylish bell hop to date. Am I right??

Damart, the most stylish bell hop to date. Am I right??

 Tamoya - the woman who consistently recognized my curly hair and Joshua's big smile. She greeted us with warmth wherever she saw us. What's the key to her happiness?? ....

Tamoya - the woman who consistently recognized my curly hair and Joshua's big smile. She greeted us with warmth wherever she saw us. What's the key to her happiness?? ....

 ..She gently laughed at my question and said "Oh. you  justhave to come back to and find out. Ya mon?"

..She gently laughed at my question and said "Oh. you  justhave to come back to and find out. Ya mon?"

 Creativity sparks a light. His happiness? All in the calmness that accompanies his work.

Creativity sparks a light. His happiness? All in the calmness that accompanies his work.

 He cleans on a daily basis. His happiness? "Comes from the heart. It's rooted in the love."

He cleans on a daily basis. His happiness? "Comes from the heart. It's rooted in the love."

So as I sit reminiscing with photos at hand, I'm not only reminded of the oh so fitting tune, "Be happy. Don't worry.", but I am also reminded that happiness stems into joy - and joy is a mere choice. A choice we get the chance to make on a daily basis. Despite not having our dream job, or thousands of dollars in a savings account, or meeting the most perfect significant other of our dreams - we still get the pure option to choose Joy and seek Hope. Joy runs deeper than surface level happiness; for happiness can be rooted in materialistic, worldly items. No, joy as we now know is "rooted deep within the heart." - far beyond the soul. So let me ask you, are you choosing joy today? And if so, are you spreading it for all others to see?