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Harvest Update – Book Release – Desert of Solitude

Harvest Update
Book Release

April 21, 2018
Volume 3, Issue 1


This book is a must read.

Desert of Solitude really helped me understand some things in life that I struggled with. It’s very refreshing to see someone overcome so many obstacles I’ve struggled with. Thank you, sincerely.

~ Kayla, April 10, 2018

Amazon Verified Purchase 5.0 out of 5 stars


Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace

One month ago, I published my fifth book and seventh overall print project. One would think by this time, the process would be smooth and effortless. Unfortunately, that was not the case for this project. Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace developed into a painfully personal devotional exploration of all the ways I felt like an abject failure in life. It began as a video log with the intention of providing in-the-moment face-to-face commentary on topics in the book. The videos remain a tough editing task. Even knowing what I said, wrote and how things worked out, the first few videos are filled with so much sorrow my heart still aches when I watch them. Fortunately, I know I needed to experience the full range of my emotions in order to move through that space fully and honestly. On the other side was a deep well of joy waiting for me to dive in.

Thank God a good woman can’t stay down for long! My story has evolved into a testimonial of God’s everlasting grace and love for those who depend on Him. Refreshment. Renewal. Rejuvenation. It’s all possible. It’s all within reach. It’s life altering in an wonderfully amazing way.

I invite you to journey with me to where I am now: At peace within my purpose and fully open to what comes next.

Peace, light and love to you!

LaShawnda


“Desert of Solitude is totally different from LaShawnda’s other books. It’s really a good read; a different read because now you see the maturity that has come with all the other books, why they were [written]. If you put them all together, there’s a line that led to this. That’s what I see: all of that led to this and this is where I’m at right now. I can see the maturity, the growth as a person and as a writer. And reading it, I was like whoa! Whoa! Whoa! To me it’s one of the better reads to be honest. It kinda gets you.”

~ Carmen, March 17, 2018



From worn and torn to whole and sufficient

We all want what we want when we want it. What happens when we don’t get what we’ve been hoping and praying for by a certain age in life?

Desert of Solitude is for those of us who have achieved nothing, something or a great deal but are no closer to that “one thing” we most desire. What do you think you’re missing? What do you believe will complete your existence?

Whatever “it” is doesn’t matter. You are enough for your life.

Desert of Solitude follows the journey of  a forty-something year old woman as she shakes herself loose of youthful ideals, and releases herself from expectations formed by family, culture and society. It’s an exploration of her determination to view her life from a position of abundant grace rather than disappointed hopes. Desert of Solitude is about finding satisfaction in God’s grace and provision in the valleys of life.

Available in Kindle, Nook and Print.

Purchase on BN.com


Excerpts from Desert of Solitude

Preface: A Note About Desert of Solitude

Introduction: Wonder-Filled Living

Verdant Valley/Faith Challenges

Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest

Set Fire to the Rain…

Supporting Multimedia Links

Contents & Themes

Soundtrack & Sermons

Referenced Bible Verses

Video Messages


Author Bio

LaShawnda Jones is a simple woman who is content with her Creator’s design choices for her. She is a woman who eagerly embraces the process of her personal evolution and the results of her choices.

LaShawnda Jones is the independent author and publisher of Spirit Harvest Publishing Company. She maintains several blogs which focus on spiritual growth, social justice and photography. She speaks nationally on self-image, self-esteem, and identity in Christ and living the life you envision for yourself. Prior publications are Love & ForgivenessMy God and Me(Jazzy Media), Cliches: A Life in Verse (Jazzy Media) and Go, Tell Michelle (State University of New York Press). She holds degrees in marketing management (MATC) and political science (UW-Milwaukee) as well as a Master of Arts in International Affairs (The New School).


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Jesse Williams: Freedom Now

On Sunday, June 26, Jesse Williams won the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award. He gave a powerful acceptance speech that is an on-point statement highlighting racial inequality in America today. It’s ironic that is was given before a room full of entertainers, one of which was posturing with pointing to the brand on his shirt right before Jesse called out the culture of selling ourselves for brands when we prayed and worked for centuries to escape being branded.

“This award is not for me. This is for the real organizers across the country: the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. Right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.”

“There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There’s no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free – they keep telling us. But… she…she would have been alive had she not acted so… free. Freedom is always coming in the hereafter. But, you know what though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.”

“The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance… for our resistance, then you better have an establish record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for Black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.”

“The thing is though, just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

~ Jesse Williams

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Study: Courage to Seek God, Follow Jesus and Receive the Holy Spirit

“Be strong and brave [courageous]. Don’t be afraid of them and don’t be frightened, because the Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.”  ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

It takes courage to seek God

Deuteronomy 4:27-31 The Lord will scatter you among the other nations. Only a few of you will be left alive, and those few will be in other nations where the Lord will send you.28 There you will worship gods made by people, gods made of wood and stone, that cannot see, hear, eat, or smell.29 But even there you can look for the Lord your God, and you will find him if you look for him with your whole being.30 It will be hard when all these things happen to you. But after that you will come back to the Lord your God and obey him,31 because the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you. He will not forget the Agreement with your ancestors, which he swore to them.

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying your word. 10 With all my heart I try to obey you. Don’t let me break your commands. 11 I have taken your words to heart so I would not sin against you. 12 Lord, you should be praised. Teach me your demands.

Jeremiah 29:11  I will give you hope and a good future.12 Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!14 I will let you find me,” says the Lord. “And I will bring you back from your captivity.

Matthew 6:30-33 Don’t have so little faith!31 Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’32 The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. 33 Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.

It takes courage to follow Jesus

Psalm 119:1  Happy are those who live pure lives, who follow the Lord’s teachings. 2 Happy are those who keep his rules, who try to obey him with their whole heart. 3 They don’t do what is wrong; they follow his ways.

Ruth 1:16  But Ruth said, “Don’t beg me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.17 And where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. I ask the Lord to punish me terribly if I do not keep this promise: Not even death will separate us.”

Matthew 10:34  “Don’t think that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I have come so that ‘a son will be against his father, a daughter will be against her mother, a daughter-in-law will be against her mother-in-law. 36 A person’s enemies will be members of his own family.’ — Micah 7:6

37 “Those who love their father or mother more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers. Those who love their son or daughter more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers. 38 Whoever is not willing to carry the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life.40 Whoever accepts you also accepts me, and whoever accepts me also accepts the One who sent me

Luke 9:23  Jesus said to all of them, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. 24 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life. 25 It is worthless to have the whole world if they themselves are destroyed or lost. 26 If people are ashamed of me and my teaching, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and with the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some people standing here will see the kingdom of God before they die.”

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower. 27 Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower. 28 If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job.

John 14:19 Because I live, you will live, too.20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and that you are in me and I am in you. 21 Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.”

It takes courage to receive the Holy Spirit

Luke 11:13 Even though you are bad, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Acts 2:2 Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there.4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening.45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given even to the nations.46 These believers heard them speaking in different languages and praising God. Then Peter said,47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we did!”48 So Peter ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey my commands. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you.

1 Corinthians 3:15 But if the building is burned up, the builder will suffer loss. The builder will be saved, but it will be as one who escaped from a fire. 16 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, because God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.

It takes courage to work

1 Chronicles 28:20 David also said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and brave, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or leave you until all the work for the Temple of the Lord is finished.

Haggai 2:4 But the Lord says, “Zerubbabel, be brave. Also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, be brave. And all you people who live in the land, be brave,” says the Lord. “Work, because I am with you,” says the Lord All-Powerful.5 “I made a promise to you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit is still with you. So don’t be afraid.”

1 Corinthians 3:5  Is Apollos important? No! Is Paul important? No! We are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do.6 I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow.7 So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important.8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work.9 We are God’s workers, working together; you are like God’s farm, God’s house.

Romans 16:3 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, who work together with me in Christ Jesus4 and who risked their own lives to save my life.

Ephesians 2:10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.

Philippians 1:21 To me the only important thing about living is Christ, and dying would be profit for me. 22 If I continue living in my body, I will be able to work for the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:12  Now, brothers and sisters, we ask you to appreciate those who work hard among you, who lead you in the Lord and teach you.13 Respect them with a very special love because of the work they do.

It takes courage to serve

Joshua 24:14  Then Joshua said to the people, “Now respect the Lord and serve him fully and sincerely. Throw away the gods that your ancestors worshiped on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord.15 But if you don’t want to serve the Lord, you must choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. You may serve the gods that your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, or you may serve the gods of the Amorites who lived in this land. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with joy; come before him with singing.

Philippians 1:18  So I am happy, and I will continue to be happy.19 Because you are praying for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ is helping me, I know this trouble will bring my freedom.20 I expect and hope that I will not fail Christ in anything but that I will have the courage now, as always, to show the greatness of Christ in my life here on earth, whether I live or die.

Romans 12:1  So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.

Romans 12:9  Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good.10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart.

1 Timothy 6:3  Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God.4 This person is full of pride and understands nothing, but is sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words. …5… They think that serving God is a way to get rich.

6 Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.7 We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out.8 But, if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that.

It takes courage to stand

Exodus 14:13  “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and you will see the Lord save you today. You will never see these Egyptians again after today.14 You only need to remain calm; the Lord will fight for you.”

Matthew 10:32 “All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they belong to me. 33 But all who stand before others and say they do not believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they do not belong to me.

Ephesians 6:13  That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.14 So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest.15 On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.        

I Corinthians 10:13 The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be alert. Continue strong in the faith. Have courage, and be strong.14 Do everything in love.

James 4:7  So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.8 Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You sinners, clean sin out of your lives. You who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.

Philippians 1:27 Only one thing concerns me: Be sure that you live in a way that brings honor to the Good News of Christ. Then whether I come and visit you or am away from you, I will hear that you are standing strong with one purpose, that you work together as one for the faith of the Good News,28 and that you are not afraid of those who are against you. All of this is proof that your enemies will be destroyed but that you will be saved by God.29 God gave you the honor not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him, both of which bring glory to Christ.

Galatians 5:1 We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law. 

It takes courage to defend God

Philippians 1:15 It is true that some preach about Christ because they are jealous and ambitious, but others preach about Christ because they want to help.16 They preach because they have love, and they know that God gave me the work of defending the Good News.17 But the others preach about Christ for selfish and wrong reasons, wanting to make trouble for me in prison. 18 But it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that in every way, whether for right or wrong reasons, they are preaching about Christ.

1 Peter 3:15 But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, 16 but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed.17 It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong if that is what God wants.18 Christ himself suffered for sins once. He was not guilty, but he suffered for those who are guilty to bring you to God.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes—to save the Jews first, and then to save non-Jews. 17 The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself—that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, “But those who are right with God will live by faith.”

It takes courage to fight

Jude 1:3 Dear friends, I wanted very much to write you about the salvation we all share. But I felt the need to write you about something else: I want to encourage you to fight hard for the faith that was given the holy people of God once and for all time.

1 Timothy 6:10 The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have left the faith, because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow. 11 But you, man of God, run away from all those things. Instead, live in the right way, serve God, have faith, love, patience, and gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of faith, grabbing hold of the life that continues forever. You were called to have that life when you confessed the good confession before many witnesses.

2 Timothy 4:6 My life is being given as an offering to God, and the time has come for me to leave this life.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

It takes courage to live in peace

Philippians 4:4   Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy. 5 Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. 6 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.7 And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:17  If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right.18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone.

Hebrews 12:14  Try to live in peace with all people, and try to live free from sin. Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord.15 Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace and begins to cause trouble among you. A person like that can ruin many of you.

 

2 Corinthians 13:11  Live in harmony. Do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:13  Live in peace with each other.14 We ask you, brothers and sisters, to warn those who do not work. Encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.15 Be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to do what is good for each other and for all people.

16 Always be joyful.17 Pray continually,18 and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit.20 Do not treat prophecy as if it were unimportant.21 But test everything. Keep what is good,22 and stay away from everything that is evil. 

“Be strong. Don’t be afraid. Look, your God will come, and he will punish your enemies. He will make them pay for the wrongs they did, but he will save you.”  ~ Isaiah 35:4

“You are my servants. I have chosen you and have not turned against you. So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.”  ~ Isaiah 41:9-10

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Duality of Man: Strength and Vulnerability

From The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness (Available January 2011)

And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lords strength, in the majesty (power) of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed (securely), for he will be highly honored around the world.   ~ Micah 5:4 (NLT)

The week of Thanksgiving brought several personal revelations to me through the resurfacing of a dormant family relationship. Then over Thanksgiving weekend, I had a series of dreams that expanded on those revelations.

The most vivid dream in the series involved a man (not a relative). In each  scene the man appeared in, he was standing tall with firmly planted feet and a broad welcoming smile. Perched on his left hip, like an attachment, was a big baby boy who looked to be three or four years old. He was a beautiful boy with bright alert eyes – piercing, really – and a much older mischievous expression. Physically, the toddler didn’t resemble the man at all, yet there was an element of sameness and familiarity.

The man greeted me and indicated in the conversation that the toddler was one and a half years old. I commented that the baby boy was more than twice the size of the average toddler his age. Even as I said that, I was reaching over to hug and kiss the baby/toddler. The man’s face was glowing with joy when I stepped back to face him. He then embraced me. End dream sequence.

Upon waking, I was confused about elements of the dream. Primarily, who was the big baby/toddler boy? As I mentally walked back through the dream, I discarded the thought of the boy being the man’s son or other relative, and concluded the baby/toddler was the man himself, representing a part of the man that was less mature in some areas, even though he looked over-developed. Mostly, the baby/toddler seemed to represent a part of the man that was extremely vulnerable, even though he appeared to ooze mischief, knowledge, awareness and confidence.

What happened in the dream to inspire this retelling?

The man presented his vulnerabilities to me and I embraced them (symbolized by me hugging and kissing the baby/toddler). The joy the man received from that acceptance lead to his willingness to accept me (symbolized by him embracing me).

The focus scripture in service this week came from Micah 5:1-6. Verse 4 (He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD) stood out to me for two reasons: 1) The man’s solid stance in my dream brought to mind security and strength 2) I’ve been listening to Santus Real’s song, Lead Me. The lyrics are a beautiful blend of a man’s strength and vulnerability through his multiple roles and responsibilities. The refrain is written from a wife and child’s perspective:

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

The song is a prayer for God to lead the man – the husband, the father – to be the strength of his family – the provider, comforter and defender – through God’s grace and power. It’s a moving prayer of a man laying bare his uncertainties and asking for the strength to love his family through his presence and with the best offerings of his life.

It’s such a vulnerable plea, but there’s so much power in it.

The convergence of all these elements had me analyzing aspects of my life. Specifically, the lack of strong hands in my life and the fact that there has never been anyone (father or other) standing or fighting for me. And I marveled that my hunger for love had turned into such a state of starvation that I’ve ceased to feel. Wonder of wonders… how different would my life be had I been blessed with a father who lead rather than destroyed?

It all rolls up to love. The best expression, the most lasting impression of love that we will receive in this life is through our father, mother, and spouse (husband or wife). If they aren’t led by the spirit of God, His love for us will not be experienced through them and we could remain hungry for love, chasing useless things in a lonely life because we have no idea how to be love or how to receive love.

Fortunately, these sad, lonely low points of neglect and uncertainty puts us in a special space for grace. I thank God for my vulnerabilities and my willingness to accept and embrace them. The more vulnerable I am, the stronger God’s presence in my life becomes.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10