The Joy Of The Lord

A few months ago, I attended a workshop on leadership development. We were given this glossy page, filled with a 6×6 grid of boxes that had words in them like grit, thoughtfulness, and perspective. I wasn’t sure if it was a test or some terrible icebreaker. The man in charge told us that we had 60 seconds to remove 20 boxes that didn’t resonate with who we are as a person. I immediately started scanning the page, slashing ink through words like empathy, listening, and sharing. Time was called and a mild wave of relief spread across the room.

I began to think “What if we have to share the unmarked boxes? How will others perceive…” Too late. I heard the voice on the microphone say, “30 more seconds and you must remove ten more boxes that represent who you are the least”. With no time to dwell on the social and professional consequences of my answers, I dove back in and began crossing off words. I whittled the boxes down to six. Continue reading The Joy Of The Lord

The Great Suffering Joy

“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:29

I am the son of a former professional athlete. My dad played in the NFL as an offensive lineman for about 7 years. In my eyes, my dad was the epitome of strength and masculinity. Everything that I thought being a man consisted of, my father embodied. He had a way of commanding a room, yet making everyone feel like they’re the only person he’s talking to; he was impressive. My father retired from the NFL and became a deputy sheriff. He continued to live out his love for football by coaching a high school football team. My father really cared for young athletes, especially those who came from single-parent homes. He desired for them to have direction, discipline, and to know Jesus. I always wanted to be like my dad. He made so many people happy. The irony is that he and I were very different. I am not an athlete at all; I am an artist to the bone. My father was stoic and I’m extremely demonstrative. That being said, initially I found it hard to pinpoint similarities between my father and myself that weren’t merely physical.  That all changed in 2006… Continue reading The Great Suffering Joy

Ugly And Joyful

“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” Philippians 1:20

This past year has been one of the hardest of my life. In the past twelve months, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, struggled with infertility, dealt with depression, and was totally overwhelmed by my job. At times, I was so stressed that my jaw would go numb or I’d feel nauseous; my body was showing physical signs of that with which my mind had been wrestling. I was so sad that I cried every single day for weeks and I was so burdened that sometimes I could barely think or speak. Often our seasons are so hard that we can’t even dig ourselves out of them.  Continue reading Ugly And Joyful

Freedom In Surrender

The art of surrender is a crucial, lifelong practice. For me, the journey started a few years back when my life hit rock bottom. There was nothing I could do to fix what was happening yet I kept working hard to get things to go my way.  While anxiously sharing with a friend that I was at the end of my rope and that I didn’t know what to do next, he said, “Shantal, hold your life with your hand wide open. Give it to God to do with it as he pleases.” My strong-willed heart sunk. Why did his advice leave me paralyzed at my core? Surrendering is not second nature. Continue reading Freedom In Surrender