Welcome to SneAdventure!

Jesus said, "I have come so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (John 10:10)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

the jealousy of God

Exodus 34:14
“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

So, I was sitting in a small discussion group during Bible Study this morning when God decided to give me an amazing picture of how I could apply this verse to my own life…

Across the circle from me sat a mom with a new-born baby girl snuggled up to her chest, held in one of those new-fangled-hands-free-snuggly-wrap-type things.  (I’m sure there’s a shorter name for them, but alas, they did not exist when my 2 bio kids were babies…)  Anyway, because she was held safely and securely against her mama’s chest, mom was able to use one hand to hold her Bible Lesson, and with the other, she continually rubbed the baby’s back and gently patted her cute little tushee. (the baby’s….just clarifyin’)…

Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice how peacefully the baby rested next to the heart-beat of the one who loved her most passionately, under the affectionate touch of the one who could meet her every need for comfort and serenity.  And then I felt a strange sense of jealousy…

NOT BECAUSE I WANTED A BABY…. (again, just felt the need to clarify!)  but because I know that my 2 adopted kids would not be experiencing the challenges and struggles they have now if they had had that kind of security, affection and love their first 3-4 years of life.  But they didn’t.  They were abandoned, neglected and left to live by their own sheer will.  (Note:  this is not a criticism of their birth-mommas, who I am so thankful chose LIFE for these babies to start with…just stating the facts of their life, pre-family).  My heart ached for what they missed out on, and the COST it continues to have on their little lives.   And I was jealous for what could have – SHOULD have - been theirs…
Rwanda 2009

And that’s when God spoke.  (Cause He’s not content to just “leave well enough alone”J) 

“Shelly, now maybe you get it.  That’s why I am a jealous God for my own.  I KNOW what can be yours when you stay nestled to my breast, abiding in me, trusting in me, looking to me ALONE for your affection.  And I ACHE for what you miss out on when you DON’T.  I would rather do WHATEVER IT TAKES to keep you close to my heart than for you to experience the HIGH COST of straying from my presence and my will.  My jealousy does not come from a place of ego, but from a heart of deep and sacrificial love.   I want the BEST for you, and I know too well the struggles and challenges you will face when you are not fully RESTING in my perfect love.”

My thoughts, choices and attitudes so many times of late have been keeping me from the safety and security of resting in Him.  Leading me away from his best.  And there is always a cost.  He loves me too much to sit by idly and be “okay” with it.  His name is JEALOUS.  And He is jealous for ME.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life Lessons from the Karate Kid

As I was listening to a fabulous song this week, “ Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes,   I was reminded of a recent family night where the hubs and I showed our kiddos a small snippet from the 1984 underdog-kicks-butt movie, “The Karate Kid”.  We have been trying to teach them that in spite of the frustrations they experience with each other on a daily basis, our home is actually God’s handpicked training center for them, and every familial relationship they’re in was God-ordained for a purpose.  To help them take advantage of this thought, we told them the basic story of the karate kid.  But I realized today the application penetrates much deeper….

So the story goes:

Daniel (Ralph Macchio), a new kid in town keeps getting beaten up by a gang of karate-trained peers.  One night, his landlord, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) comes to his rescue, and with his own incredibly-honed karate skills, pretty much takes down the entire crew.  He makes a deal with them to keep their hands off of Daniel until the upcoming Karate tournament.   The next morning, Daniel begs Mr. Miyagi to train him in karate so that he has a chance of surviving the tournament.  Miyagi finally agrees and tells him to show up in the morning to begin training.

However, much to Daniel’s dismay, when he arrives, instead of an actual “karate lesson”, he is given the assignment of waxing every single car in Miyagi’s parking lot.  And the movements must be specific and intentional as shown by Miyagi, putting the wax on with a left hand counter-clockwise motion, and wiping it off with a right hand clockwise motion - emphasizing the phrase made famous by this movie, “wax on, wax off”.

Daniel goes home tired, sore, and slightly frustrated by this first unusual day of “training”.  When he arrives the following day, Miyagi has a new task ready – “sand the floor”….  Again, specific movements, and a lot of work sanding Mr. Miyagi’s very large deck.    The following day is no different, but this time Miyagi doesn’t even show up.  Rather, he leaves supplies and instructions in a note...”paint the fence”….

It was at this point of the story we showed the kidz the clip from the movie:
When Miyagi returns that evening, Daniel has had enough, and explodes with an eruption of frustrated expletives (which we did NOT show the kiddos…)  where he accuses Mr. Miyagi of giving him menial chores that make him Miyagi’s slave rather than taking the time to train him.  Thus commences Mr. Miyagi’s first demonstration of all that Daniel has learned, as he begins to attack Daniel, while calling out the motions of the past few days “Show me wax on!”  “Show me sand floor!”  “Show me paint the fence!”  Daniel is awed by how these actions have helped him learn Miyarn defensive blocks through muscle memory.  It is one of those moving cinema moments that make you wanna shake your fist in the air and yell “YEAH!  THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!!”   

Our point was to teach our kids that they had a choice to see each frustrating situation in our home as an opportunity to allow God to train them to be their best (displaying patience, compassion, self-control, etc.)  but God had some more to teach me through Daniel and Miyagi…

Many times, we are asking God for help, wisdom, change, strength and other things to enable us to rise above our circumstances.  But he seems to be absent.  Quiet.  Uncaring.  Uninvolved.  Unmoved by our outpourings of desperate cries.  But that’s just not his character.  We see how he worked in the lives of Abraham, Job, Joseph, Mary, Lazarus, Paul, and JESUS.  And if we look closely enough, we will understand that sometimes the trial IS the answer.

I’ll never forget a time in my life about a year after adopting our youngest two children from Rwanda, when I was literally “drowning” in failure, frustration and a total lack of what I felt I needed from God to do all that he had called me to do (a big part of which was homeschooling 4 kids, 3 of which had differing special needs ranging from medical to severe behavioral).  I went to Bible Study one evening with an extremely heavy heart, the weight of all I couldn’t do resting on my shoulders.  We started with the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, and as we began to sing the words “all I have needed, thy hand hath provided”, I just had to stop and practically laugh out loud (more like sneer)…And right there I raised my heart to heaven and said, “God, I get that you’re trying to remind me you’re faithful.  But I’ve been begging you to meet these needs and change these circumstances so that I can succeed and thrive – heck, so that I can just keep my head above the water!  When are you gonna provide ‘all I have needed’?!?”

I was overwhelmed at the still small voice that whispered immediately to my heart…”Child, what if this trial is the VERY THING that you need?”    1 Peter 1:3 says that God, in his divine power, has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED for life and godliness.  But sometimes, we forget to trust in the fact that God knows what we need so much more than we do.  (If you’re a parent, you can totally grasp this concept!  My kiddos have all kinds of distorted conceptions of what they think they “need”, which are in total contrast to what I know is the reality of their needs!)

So then, we must come to a decision.  (And sometimes, we have to make it a daily, hourly choice!)  Are we gonna trust that God’s training program is going to produce more fruit than could ever be harvested in our own wisdom? (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)  Are we gonna trust that even when he seems “absent”, he is working for our good? (1 Kings 19:11-13)  Are we gonna trust that HIS GLORY is of far greater worth than OUR COMFORT?  (Romans 8:18)

“God is a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1), but He permits trouble to pursue us, as though He were indifferent to its overwhelming pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves and led to discover the treasure of darkness, the immeasurable gains of tribulation  We may be sure that He who PERMITS the suffering is with us IN IT.  It may be that we shall see him only when the trial is passing; but we must DARE TO BELIEVE that He never leaves the crucible.”  (Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Streams in the Desert)

And one day we’ll get it.  We’ll hear “SHOW ME WAX ON!”  And be amazed at the godly response instilled in us during the darkest of days we had to endure.  We’ll hear “SHOW ME PAINT THE FENCE” and stand back in awe as our service to him has produced fruit we could never have imagined.  We’ll hear “SHOW ME SAND FLOOR!” and bow, overwhelmed at a compassionate God, now glorified in us, who never for one moment forgot us, but spent every moment, unbeknownst to us turning to good what the enemy meant for evil.

He is faithful.  He is Sovereign.  He is present.  And He is good.  Let the training begin in me.

Your plans are still to prosper,
You have not forgotten us
You're with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love

You are sovereign over us.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

For any parent who's ever messed up...

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for including such a long line of screw-ups in your genealogy:  liars, adulterers, illegitimate children, prostitutes, murderers, law-breakers, home-wreckers and outcasts, to name a few.  I’m finding some serious grace in that list of names today, and feeling right at home among them.

Today, I showed up at Samuel’s 1st grade school field trip (upon his request, mind you) only to have him completely ignore me – I’m talking wouldn’t even say “hi”, clinging to his friends.  (I know what you’re thinking, “what’s so atypical about that?”)  Probably nothing, but coming off the heels of my 3rd grader-slash-momma’s boy’s field trip where the child HELD MY HAND the entire day, it was a little hard for me to swallow.  (see momma's boy pictured on right...)

And there’s also the fact that this is Samuel’s first year not being homeschooled by me, and not a day goes by that he doesn’t let me know how much he loves it, hated school BEFORE this year, wants to live at his school, etc.   So I continued on the first 30 minutes, taking photos of all the kids/teachers, helping when I could, etc.  During a brief lapse of judgment, I decided to take a quick photo of me and Sam (just like I had with my momma’s boy), I held out the camera and said “hey, let me take a picture of us real quick” – to which he rudely, emphatically protested, to the point of groaning and putting his hands over his face.   I put the camera away and whispered in his ear what any …. 3 year old… might say, “Fine, I don’t want a picture with you anyway, you’ve been rude to me since I got here”.  Yep.  I did.  Not proud of that, btw…

I know you’re out there thinking, “get over it”, but I’m just being real with you, I COULDN’T.  See, my love for this kid has come at great personal cost.  He’s got so many issues, you’ll want to be on meds just to READ the list.  And I spend a lot of emotional, physical, spiritual and mental (not to mention financial) energy to try and help him cope with his early abandonment,  perpetual fear of, well, EVERYTHING, adoptive insecurities, lack of empathy, hyperactivity and extreme insecurity.  (And yes, I’m well aware of the fact that my giving you that list only made you more sympathetic to HIM, and less to ME…. that’s ok.  Apparently, I’m the grown-up).

So I did the natural thing that any … 2 year old… would do.  I told him goodbye (very solemnly, and sadly so he’d know how hurt I was) and LEFT.  Yep.  Walked right of of the store.  Began to cry.  Resisted the urge to text my sweet hubby who I KNEW would NOT have my back on this one (since, again, I’m apparently the grown-up), and began the short drive home.

A drive which began with me to declaring to God how hard that incident was for me.  I know Sam won’t have any regrets about it. Because while it very well could have just been typical behavior among peers, it also was a potentially good indicator of what I’ve already been thinking lately:  this kid is not experiencing healthy and whole attachment with us yet.  My adopted 6yo (the one who was suspended TWICE…in KINDERGARTEN….really?) at least knows when she’s crossed the line with the people in her family and has remorse, even tears at the eventual knowledge she has alienated or hurt them.  That’s an indicator of attachment – empathy.  But after 3 ½ LONG years, we’re not there yet with Sam.

What should I have done?  Stayed there, avoided Samuel, been thankful that I was dealing with attachment and not drug rehab or juvenile incarceration, and said to Sam (by my actions alone) loudly and clearly:



Wasn’t that beautiful?.... You have no idea how I wish that had been my response, darn you, 20-20 hindsight!

So the rest of the drive included  (1) confession – God, I’m an idiot who is completely selfish and not fit to be this kid’s mom, forgive me for choosing the toddler response,  (2) repentance – God, help me not make this mistake again!  Help me see beyond the here and now to what WILL BE by your grace and power as I continue to love him UNCONDITIONALLY, and (3) thankfulness – God, thank you that the end of my story (and his!) is not dependent on my non-existent perfection, but on the finished work of the cross where you died for today’s bout of stupidity and rose again to LEAVE IT THERE!, and (4) resolve – God, this afternoon when he asks me why I left early (because as I mentioned earlier, he will be COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS), help me to say with love and compassion, “I thought maybe you were embarrassed that I was there.  I’m sorry I left, sweetie – I promise I will never do that again.  I love you, and I want you to feel secure, safe, and happy.”  End of discussion.

So thankfull that the walk from my SIN to your HERO HALL OF FAITH is as short as THE CROSS.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”  Romans 8:1.  Hallelujah.  Movin’ on…

(the one photo I did manage of him - guess it wasn't a complete failure...
he's the happy black kid in the center...:-)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"So, when are you moving?"

“So, when are you moving?...”

This is the most-asked Snead question since our last post in February (only slightly more popular than other FAQ's like "Are you a day care?" And, "Do you need help out with these?"  ... Which always confuses me cause I'm not sure if they mean the groceries or the kids....course, the answer's the same for either....)

Anyway, after 6 months of not being quite sure ourselves, we can finally say "As soon as we find a house!"  Art began his new job as Director of Lifeway's Ridgecrest Conference Center and Summer Camps over a week ago, so we have hit the ground running preparing for a move to Asheville, NC!  As we said previously, we lived there from 1996-2006, so although we will miss our Nashville area friends soooo much, we are also excited about this opportunity as we begin this next leg on our family's faith adventure!

I (Shelly) have had a lot of time to think and reflect over our journey this far, and stand amazed at where God has taken us - individually and as a family - as we have begun to yield each area of our lives to him.  It hasn’t been an “all-at-once-surrender” but as we’ve given (and sometimes taken back, then “re-given”) Christ control (of what he already owns anyway), from agendas to finances, from fears to family, we’ve had the privilege of experiencing some pretty cool things!  Geographically we’ve been able to live in places where experiences have included Kayaking the rivers of Tennessee and North Carolina to exploring ancient ruins and snow skiing in New Mexico.  We've had the honor of meeting and serving some neat people, from orphans in Haiti and Uganda, to flood victims in Mississippi and Alabama.  We have been blessed by and allowed God to use us however he saw fit in our church families of Biltmore, Christ Church and Long Hollow.

We’ve seen our family grow physically and culturally as we were able to adopt two (quite active!) children from Rwanda, and be able to help others in small ways who were adopting as well.  Even the struggles along our journey have produced great opportunities, like the wonderful relationships with our son’s nurses over the 5 years that he required home health care, including a precious native American grandmother who read the Bible for the first time in our home while caring for Josiah.

We have waded the rougher waters of marriage and child-rearing among friends, family and mentors who have made our family so much richer, and taken risks that have deepened our faith in God and increased our awareness of his amazing love for us.

It really has been an endless “string” of adventures, which is why I look forward to this move with great expectancy.  His faithfulness and sovereignty in the life of our family leaves us no other response than gratitude and trust.  And we can say with the prophet, Habakkuk, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, HE ENABLES ME TO TREAD ON THE HEIGHTS.” (Hab. 3:18-19)

So now I’ll turn the question back on you!  When are you moving?....  Maybe He’s not calling you to pick up and move across the country.  But maybe it’s time to take a risk and go out of the comforts of your “safe zone”… this could be across the ocean or across the street.  It could be releasing your hold on some resources or releasing some spare time.  The result will be SO WORTH the RISK!  He will enable YOU to tread on the heights as you seek first HIS Kingdom!

Many Blessings, and thanks for stopping by!
The Snead Family 6
(Art and the 4 kids taking the plunge at Cummins Falls)

Friday, February 1, 2013

So, it's been a long time since our last blog post...well, at least when we post there's big news!

The next stage in our SneAdventure will involve moving from our TN home back to the Asheville, NC area!  God has opened some doors and we feel this is where He's leading us next.  As far as timing goes, that's not finalized at this point, but we anticipate making the move sometime this summer (due to school year, selling our home, finding our next home, and all of the other craziness of our lives right now).  Art will still be with LifeWay and will work even more closely with the conference center and camps there in a CFO role.  Several of his co-workers in LifeWay's Camps and Conference Centers Department will also be making the move over the next year or so.

the "twins" 
                               family b-ball in the back yard...

silly Savanna 

How do we feel?  Having lived in (and loved) the Asheville area for 10+ years prior to moving to NM, it feels like we're going home to an area and friends we miss and love, and we're excited about that.  However, the hard (very hard) part is that we feel like we're leaving home to go there.  We've been in TN for less than 3 years, but we have been blessed beyond measure by our friends, Long Hollow Baptist church, small group, and so many other people and things in the Nashville area.  Even with a great opportunity available in Western NC, our love for our friends and church here made the decision to go very, very difficult.
Some other things you might want to know:
- Josiah has visited the Asheville area recently and his health handled it very well...obviously this was a key consideration!
- While our kids are all handling it well, the news was harder for Silas, who has had so many great opportunities and friends here.  He's o.k now, but please pray for all of us through the transition! 
- Where in Asheville area will we live?  Probably east or south, but we don't yet know for sure.

Silas with some Long Hollow buds

Well, that's it for now!  As we go through the transition, we'll try to do a better job keeping you updated on this blog.  However, as parents with 4 kids we often find it easier to provide Twitter (@artsnead and @shellysnead) and Facebook updates more often than the blog, so you might want to follow us on those networks.  Thanks!

Art Snead
2 Timothy 1:7

Monday, June 18, 2012

Uganda trip, chapter one...

Well, this will be the first of several blogs about our recent mission trip to Uganda, because this one has a "time-crunch"!   Needless to say, as always when you go on a mission to serve others, you end up getting blown away by the blessing you receive in return. This journey was no exception! Today I want to focus on a special "muzungu" (white person in Africa) we met at the Mbira orphan village. And I'm hoping you'll participate in a special opportunity to help her ministry after I share it with you.

 Her name is April. She is a 20 year old believer (with eleven brothers and sisters back home!) who has given up several years of her life to serve missionary families in several foreign countries. Currently she is serving the Applegate family at the orphan village in Mbira. She lives with them, helps to take care of their 4 children (ages 1-7, and one with substantial physical, special needs), rises early to start washing clothes (no running water while we were there), helps prepare family meals and wash dishes (did I mention no running water?), and helps homeschool the children.

 And if that weren't enough, she also teaches the orphan girls' devotions every night. And we're not talking a little "kum ba ya" and basic Bible stories. These girls scripture memory put ours to SHAME! And she teaches them the whole scripture, tackling hard subjects that resonate with these girls, like why bad things happen if God is good...and the singing they do at the start of these devotions is one of the most beautiful sounds we encountered in Uganda.

 But there's more.... On Sunday's, the children leave the service after the singing and go with April to the schoolroom for Sunday school (shown above...with baby on hip!). This could last for an hour or more, depending on how long pastor J.J. preaches. She sings lots of sings with the 50 or so kids there, teaches them a lesson from scripture (the week we were there it was the story of Noah, and I was just as glued to her as the kids!), plays a game with them to review the scripture and then sings some more. All this teaching is done with an interpreter (one of the older orphan girls) for the kids who come from the village and don't speak much English, and with no power (I.e. no videos, "canned music, etc") and very few supplies. The week I participated, she drew a game board on the wall with chalk for the review. We asked April if she could use any other supplies, and her eyes lit up as she asked for a few basic things. Upon our urging, she went into the other room and wrote out a list. Nothing on her list included things for herself, but all things to help her more creatively teach God's word to these precious kids.

 So, we have another group going back to Uganda in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping to fill a bag with everything on the list! YOU can help! See the list below and go out and buy something from it (or you may even have an extra one at home). Get it to me by this weekend if possible. If you live far away and want to send me money to get a particular item on the list, I'll be glad to do that too! Thanks for serving with me!

 April's list 
Magnetic alphabet letters
 Magnetic boards (the small dry-erase kind)
Dry-erase marker sets
Box of paper clips
Rubber duckies
Food coloring
 Bean bags
 Indoor bowling ball/pins set (there are some wooden ones at target I think)
 Flash cards for teaching Bible (biblical pictures sets, etc)
 Tennis balls
Construction paper
 Brown paper bags
 100 pair of kids scissors

 Many blessings, and more posts to come,