Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Your Masterpiece-Ashmont Hill

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This is another song I listen to in the morning to prepare me for the day. I hope it inspires you like it inspires me. God Bless!

One of My Favorites

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If you realize that God brought you out of something you could have never gotten out of on your own, than you will probably enjoy this.  I have been there, and I am grateful for His deliverance.

You are more than you see in the mirror

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(This is a work  of fiction inspired by a close friend)

I examined myself in the full length mirror, my eyes moving like dusk across a fading horizon.  My husband had left me earlier that year, and my twin boys were away at college.  For the first time in my adult life, I had time alone, and I honestly did not want it-not with that body and that face in front of a mirror of images closing in on me like midnight darkness.

I decided to take a shower and shampoo my hair-a ritual that had always made me feel better.  I massaged my thick fro under the hard stream and used the unopened shower gel someone had given me the Christmas before.  I got out slowly, determined to give each second new meaning.  I brushed my teeth, flossed, gargled, moisturized my skin, and put on a white terrycloth robe.  I sat in front of the fireplace, put clear polish on the nails of my fingers and toes, and sat comfortably in front of a burgundy flame.  I was really trying not to feel sorry for myself, but it was difficult because I had never felt so lonely.  My mind searched anxiously for meaning, switching from one random thought to the next.  I couldn’t decide if I should prepare for my husband’s possible return or change the locks and move forward with my life.  Then, I thought of my boys.  They were going to be home in a few months.  Yet, it was only autumn and much too soon to plan a holiday dinner for them or rewash their sheets.  Finally, I thought I would call someone, but I had cut my close friends off decades ago.  I couldn’t possibly call them now and ask them to pick up where we left off-where I left off.  I conjured up feelings of worthlessness and regret, asking myself who I was and by whose standard I should define myself, by myself, alone.


After thirty-five years of marriage and nineteen years of motherhood, I had become my family.  I was my husband and my sons.  When I looked at them, I saw myself, and when they weren’t there, I saw nothing.  Suddenly, I realized I had not completed anything that would have given me a personal sense of accomplishment.  I had unused gym memberships, twelve more credits to earn my college degree, a failing courier business, and a collection of items I had planned to put to good use some day.  Now, that it was someday, I had lost all motivation.  I felt I had grown too old, too unattractive, and too unintelligent to accomplish anything.  Yet, in a deep and almost unreachable part of me, I felt there was a purpose that remained unexplored all my life.

Well, that night, in front of the fire, a voice spoke to me with more feeling than sound. It moved through my body like an approaching storm and loved me more than I had ever been loved before.  It told me to stand up and reexamine myself.  I moved from the fire and stood in front of the full length mirror again, remembering a phrase my grandmother had told me years before: “We all gotta a job to do, and if we don’t know what it is, we better talk to God about it.”  My grandmother was never fancy with the way she said things, and she was uneducated and full of southern slang, but she was the most wise and most virtuous woman I had ever known and undeniably the most  beautiful-no frills, pure virtue.

I held both sides of the mirror, dropped my head and prayed.  I talked to God incessantly in a voice that reminded me of my grandmother’s.  When I opened my eyes, I discovered I was so much more than who and what I saw.  I was a representation of past, present, and future generations.  I was my mother’s laugh and father’s smile.  I was my Aunt Betty’s song and dance, my Uncle Ray’s sense of adventure, and my grandfather’s strength and keeper of stories.  I was the family stabilizer and teacher who would be a warm lap, soft arms, and wisdom to my grandchildren.  As for my grandmother, I was her voice and her Amen.

As a family, we had endured centuries of dysfunction and adversity. Yet, we were all fine miracles of genealogy, wonderfully and divinely made, given specific duties to help others and reflect God’s glory.  We did not always reflect His glory, and some of us died before we completed our duties.  However, I knew there were still generations to save.  With that revelation in mind, I prayed and studied myself for an hour in front of the full length mirror with my reflection like day, breaking before me.

Posted on November 23rd, 2011 by

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain,

Judge Not

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Judge Not

By Shawn R. Jones

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Matthew 7:1

A cashier at our neighborhood market had such an unwelcoming disposition that I would avoid her checkout line. Sometimes she would be the only cashier working and I, of course, would have to get in her line. I would smile and say good morning as pleasantly as I knew how without breaking into song and dance. She would respond with a mumbled hi. After that, she would work in silence, and I would bag my groceries and pay in silence.

One day my husband and I were shopping in that same neighborhood grocery store. I told him not to go to the “evil cashier.” Of course he carefully angled the cart between the candy bar and magazine racks of her aisle. He asked her about her holiday and talked about the weather. Meanwhile, I was thinking, He is so corny, and this is so unnecessary. He called her by the name displayed on her nametag. She mumbled and grumbled for a while, but he kept on talking to her.

Then she held up my frozen macaroni and cheese and said, “You should make it from scratch.” I looked at her strangely. Then she gave me advice on how to prepare the best macaroni and cheese. “You gotta use that cheese from behind the meat counter. Tell them it’s for mac and cheese. They’ll know what you’re talkin’ about.”

My husband said, “How about we just come to your house and eat?”

She smiled and said, “Anytime. I haven’t had much company since my son passed away last year.”

My husband and I did not go to her home, but every time we saw her in the market, she smiled, talked, and laughed as she ran our items across the scanner.


Dear Lord, I am sorry for judging others. Please remind me that everyone has a story that I may not know or understand. Please forgive me and fill my heart with compassion for everyone I meet. Amen.

Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames

(Ambassador International, 2011)


Move on Despite Tragedy

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Move on Despite Tragedy

By Shawn R. Jones

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:54

My grandmother held three jobs. She worked fulltime at a nursing home in Atlantic City, part-time as a waitress at a local restaurant, and part-time as a home health aide. Although my grandmother was in her early forties, she had just become fully independent. She had enrolled in evening classes to obtain her G.E.D., got her driver’s license, and purchased a used car. Unfortunately, she and my grandfather were legally separated, and with five older children, she was finally able to concentrate on herself.

My grandmother started dating Jerry, a bellhop who worked at the restaurant’s adjoining hotel. He was twenty years her senior and claimed that he too was separated from his spouse. When my grandmother discovered he was still living with his wife, she ended their relationship. Jerry threatened and stalked my grandmother for days. However, no one took his actions seriously, until my mother received a phone call from the restaurant.

“Jerry just shot your mother up!” It was the voice of the sixteen-year-old waitress who worked at the restaurant with my grandmother. The young waitress later told police that Jerry came in the back door of the establishment and shot my grandmother three times before shooting himself. Later, my mother had to identify her mother’s body at the Atlantic CityMedicalCenter. The residual effects of that tragedy affected our family for a couple generations. When I would complain about small things, my mother would say, “Look, my mother was murdered! Save your energy for the big stuff.” As much as I wanted to ask what that had to do with anything, I knew better, and I later learned that it had a lot to do with everything.

As I got older, some of that “big stuff” came just as my mother had promised. Sometimes I felt like I was hit coming and going, but I knew I had to keep going. “Big stuff” will come your way too, but you have to move past it all just like my grandmother’s five children did. From watching them, I learned that death and tragedy are not excuses to give up on life and certainly not excuses to give up on God. All five of them were survivors, and no matter what comes your way, you have to be a survivor too.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your divine strength that helps me cope in a world that can be frightening and unpredictable. During times of mourning, thank You for reminding me of Your gift of everlasting life. It is this gift that keeps me hopeful in the face of death. Amen.


Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames

(Ambassador International, 2011)

Let Love Be Your Goal

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Let Love Be Your Goal

By Shawn R. Jones

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3


When most people think of the word love, a slew of thoughts comes to mind, but most people never come up with their own definition for it. People often say “I love you” too soon, too seldom, or too late. Before you say “I love you,” know what you mean. For me, love was  selfless and unadulterated concern for others. Before I read God’s meaning of love, that was my definition based on more than twenty years’ experience as a wife and mother. I love my husband and children purely, unconditionally, and sacrificially.


What do you mean when you say you love someone? Do you love your boss, coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends in the same way? I wish I could say that I do, but only God can love all people so evenly and unreservedly. However, I still welcome you to add love to your list of lifetime goals. To help you in your quest to love, here is the biblical description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”


Now that you know God’s meaning of love, read it a few times with a few people in mind and ask yourself if you love each of them according to the above description. If you do not love them as described by this definition, you may want to reassess your feelings.


Dear Lord, teach me how to love according to Your description. Please help me truly love others unconditionally, purely, and profoundly. Amen.


Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames

(Ambassador International, 2011)


Restore My Mind

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    For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

     Have you ever been afraid of what the day might bring? I have, and to be honest, it was more of a moment to moment struggle. My mind would not stop creating visions of unforeseen tragedies, and my fears increasingly turned into panic. It got so bad that I would get light-headed as soon as I walked into what I believed was a potentially dangerous situation.  The major problem was that everything had become a potentially dangerous situation to me. My house was the only place I felt safe. Then one day, while driving, I lost control of my body.  I gripped the steering wheel several times, trying to find a position to calm me. I grabbed my neck and hair repeatedly, alternating between the two with my mouth twitching, hands and arms shaking.  I looked over at a group of boys selling drugs on the corner, and at that moment, I understood the tremendous struggle within every drug addict, alcoholic, and crazy person I had ever seen in my life.  I even thought of pulling my car over to the curb where the boys stood and buying something, anything, to make me feel better.

That day, I realized I couldn’t get well on my own.  I couldn’t beat the invisible power that had a hold on me. My mind had folded in on itself. In six months, I had become both depressed and paranoid, and I knew I could no longer think my way back to reality. All the cliché prayers I had learned went right out the window.  Instead, I cried a deep cry, gargling Jesus’ name through my tears.

In the days that followed, God gave me deep human insight and overwhelming compassion for people I had once casually dismissed, like prostitutes and the neighborhood “crackhead.”  Whenever I encountered them, I talked to each of them about God.  I discovered they had a story that was not too different from my own.  Life, with its magnitude of cruelty, had brought each of them down to the place where I met them on the street.   Instantly, I understood that God put them in my path, so I could look beyond their plight and connect with their humanity…

Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames

(Ambassador International, 2011)

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PIGF cover

Why Maria? (An excerpt from my next devotional book)

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Why Maria?

By Shawn R. Jones

 Eighth grade was emotionally difficult.  I thought surgery was going to be the most challenging problem my daughter would face that school year. At the time, I could not imagine anything more traumatic.The alarming possibilities of what could happen before and after surgery frightened me whenever I thought about them, but they were not debilitating or long lasting thoughts.  I was grateful that I had matured spiritually since her last surgery, but I was still fumbling with my faith from time to time.  Well, you know there is always something else, and I was not quite prepared for a new challenge…

I am not sure if it was fall, spring, or a mild winter day.  I just remember the sky was clear, and I was driving my daughter and her friend, Tanya, to middle school. My daughter and I were talking and laughing in the front seat.  Tanya was quieter than usual in the back.  She never talked that much around me anyway, but with this quiet came an eeriness.   The air was unsettled by news my daughter and I were not yet aware of.

When we pulled up to the side of the school, Tanya asked, “Didn’t you hear about Maria?”

“No…” my daughter and I answered in unison.

“She killed herself over the weekend.  She hung herself.”

“What?”  I gasped as Tanya gave the rumored details.

“You mean, when I walk into homeroom she’s not going to be there?” My daughter asked.

I asked my daughter if she wanted to stay home from school that day.  She decided to go, knowing she could call me anytime to pick her.  I think she needed to be with her friends. I  watched her lug her book bag to the side doors of the school.  Her steps seemed heavier and devoid of innocence.

I don’t think my daughter believed Maria was gone until she saw her empty seat in homeroom and later another empty chair in science lab.  I cannot imagine how she felt that day, walking in those classrooms, facing such a cruel truth at such a fragile age.

We try to prepare our children for life, but there are some things that never come to a parent’s mind, like the premature death of one of their friends.  Sure we think of death, and we talk to them about death, but at that age we are more likely to be consoling them over the death of a pet or ailing grandparent. It was a difficult time for my daughter and her friends.  However, it was more difficult than I imagined it would be.  My daughter could not sleep at night.  She had recurring nightmares of Maria hanging only to wake up to the same reality.  Every time she went to homeroom or science lab, she would be reminded.  And then there was the most difficult question I would have to try my best to answer, “Why did God let this happen?”  I wondered if my daughter’s perception of God would be forever changed.  I didn’t have an answer because, I too, was questioning God–questioning Him more often than I could have ever admitted to anyone during that time.


I Nutured a Relationship with Fear

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My daughter on top of Mt. Killin in Scotland

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  -Hebrews 2:14-15

My four -year-old daughter flopped over the nurse’s shoulder like a cloth doll.  Her plats dangled helplessly towards the floor.  I hated seeing her like that, loopy with medication.  She tried to point at the small tank, but as she slurred, “Fish…,” her brown arm flopped down.  Then her next slur was, “Mom…my.”

“Yes, Mommy’s here, and so is Daddy and Tumbles.”  Tumbles was her favorite doll.  They suggested she bring her favorite toy with her the day of surgery.  The nurse had even given Tumbles some medicine to make her loopy, too.  I was too worried to be amused, but the professionals were right;   Tumbles was a comfort to my daughter.

“Tell Mommy and Daddy you’ll see them later,” the nurse sang.

 This is her job, I thought.   She’s used to this, I observed.  She carries children to the operating room every day.

My husband and I followed the nurse down the hall as he massaged the back of my neck.  When the nurse walked through the double doors and my daughter waved and smiled weakly, I lost feeling in my knees, sank to the floor, and collapsed in my husband’s arms.  I wept like I had just buried my daughter because, since the day she was born, I had been afraid she would die.  It was my biggest and most debilitating fear.

DSCN2489My daughter at age 4

My daughter was born two months premature, and we had had so many scares since her birth.  Our very first scare came when a nurse called us from the neo-care unit.  She told us our daughter may not make it through the night because a few babies on the unit had died from a highly contagious respiratory infection.   That phone call disturbed me for years.  Many nights thereafter, I tormented myself with the thought, she may not make it through the night.  Instead of internalizing the nurse’s message, I should have quoted some scripture or at least said something positive back to her.  The Bible says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).   I don’t think I was familiar with that verse at the time.

I am sure you can imagine how grateful I was when I found out my daughter had made it through the night. I praised God for it all day long. Yet, I had subconsciously stored the nurse’s message in my mind, so when my baby came home from the hospital on a heart monitor, I replayed the nurse’s voice every time I put my daughter down to sleep.  Every time the heart monitor went off, I thought, she may not make it through the night. Most times it was gas, a cough, or a loose lead, but with each false alarm I became more nervous.  My mind was as jittery as my body, and most nights I stayed awake because I was afraid she would die in her sleep.

I lived with that fear for years, until I realized I could not fully enjoy anything with her hypothetical death prowling around.  For example, whenever my husband and I would be on a vacation, having a wonderful time, I would catch myself and think, I should be worried about my daughter, and then of course, I would worry even though she was safe at my mother’s house.   If my daughter even cleared her throat or coughed while I was on the phone with my mother, I would panic and ask my mother if she were okay.  As the years passed, my fear of her dying did not wane.  After pneumonia and a second surgery, I became even more fearful. Instead of realizing she was strong, resilient, and purposeful, I sometimes visualized her in a casket.  That was when I realized my fear had turned into something much more debilitating than I could have ever imagined it could be.

My fear was affecting me and each member of my family.  Even though I did not verbally express my feelings to my daughter and son, they could sense my gloom. My husband, on the other hand, had the difficult job of trying to get me back to the fun-loving free-spirited woman he could only reminisce about– the wife who used to laugh and smile most of the day.  I tried to explain to him that I could never again be that woman, full of love, full of life.  I tried desperately to explain to him that harsh circumstances had changed all that. While I was giving multiple explanations for this new creature I had become, and while I tried to convince him that the old one was gone and would never return, I secretly missed her, too.

I couldn’t reach her because I didn’t know how to get help.  I tried to conquer my fears on my own because Satan had convinced me that I was alone.  See, Satan will make you think you have to handle all your problems single-handedly.  Even when you are in a room full of loving family and friends, he will make you feel like you are all by yourself.   He will have you thinking that no one, including God, cares or understands what you’re going through.  At the very moment you feel that way, beware.  Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), so he will certainly come for you (1 Peter 5:8).

Satan came for me, and I believed every negative thought he put in my mind.  I thought, no one cares about my daughter as much as I do.  My best friend doesn’t because she’s preoccupied with her own life. My husband doesn’t because he’s not a mother. My mother doesn’t because she has her own children to worry about, and God doesn’t because He sacrificed Hisown son, so death apparently isn’t that big of a deal to Him.

Yes, those were my thoughts, and for a long time I didn’t really want to talk to God about it because I didn’t want to talk to someone whose thoughts were higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  I wanted someone right there, feeling what I felt and thinking want I thought.  I felt that way for a long time until I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I had to try something different, so I decided to tell Satan the same thing Jesus told him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’ (Matthew 4:10).  With that, I stopped serving my fear.  I no longer gave it what it needed to survive.  Instead I gave myself what I needed to survive-God’s living word.

I prayed often and read my bible consistently.  I talked to Jesus, and He taught me how to encourage myself just as much as I had discouraged myself in the past.   I was becoming the woman I used to be, but better because I had learned to seek God in the midst of my adversity.

I spent hours reframing my thoughts by studying my faith more deeply and reading Christian books.  Not only did I read more, I began to write and dance more.  I started doing more of the things I enjoyed most—things that did not include my family. I know that may sound selfish, but I had to train myself to enjoy life away from my family.  I needed to know my life still had meaning without them.  We live in a world where people die all the time, children included.  We cannot stop living because people die, and we cannot worry ourselves to the grave.  Death is not going to change, but our perspective on death must change.  We cannot live our lives worried about something Christ has already given us victory over (1 John 5:11).

The multiple times I worried about my daughter when she was sick, she lived.  My worrying did not accomplish anything positive.  I was not allowing her to enjoy life because I was afraid something horrible would happen to her. I felt like she and I were both walking on a tightrope, she on one end and I at the other.  Now that I have overcome that fear, my daughter and I are both free to live.


Her Freshman Year at Princeton

Apparently, my mind was the only thing walking a tightrope.  I spent years consumed by thoughts of tragedies that never happened.  Today, my daughter is a wise, healthy and strong twenty year old junior at Princeton University.  She has studied abroad while I have remained in the states.  She was in Germany during the most deadly E-coli outbreak ever recorded, she drove through the flood waters of Hurricane Irene, helping restore the lives of those affected by the storm, and she climbed  up a mountain in Killin, Scotland, where she saw mountain sheep grazing on its summit. Yet, I worry about her less now than I did when she was younger, sleeping a few feet away from me.  Thank God I am free from that debilitating fear and have learned to focus on the beauty of life.

Dear Lord, I have already missed so much of life worrying about death.  Thank you for giving me peace “which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  I am grateful for Your word that has taught me to value the present and not be afraid of anything negative that may happen in the future (Psalm 112:7).  I trust you for today and tomorrow, and I am leaving the issues of my heart and mind in Your divine care.  Amen.