Posted on 3 Comments

Verdant Valley ҉ Faith Challenges

Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace is available in print, Kindle and Nook formats. Purchase your copy at or today.

Posted on Leave a comment

ACAD – Rejection: Psalm 66

Praise for God’s Goodness to Israel

To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you;
    they sing praises to you,
    sing praises to your name.”Selah

Come and see what God has done:
    he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land;
    they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
     who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
    let the rebellious not exalt themselves.Selah

Bless our God, O peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
    and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
    you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
    you laid burdens on our backs;
 you let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.[a]

 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
    I will pay you my vows,
 those that my lips uttered
    and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,
    with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.Selah

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him,
    and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
    he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God,
    because he has not rejected my prayer
    or removed his steadfast love from me.


  1. Psalm 66:12 Cn Compare Gk Syr Jerome Tg: Heb to a saturation

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted on Leave a comment


By Pastor Teresa Conlon

Click here to listen:

Key verses (NCV):

Ezra 3:10-11

The builders finished laying the foundation of the Temple of the Lord. Then the priests, dressed in their robes, stood with their trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, stood with their cymbals. They all took their places and praised the Lord just as David king of Israel had said to do. With praise and thanksgiving, they sang to the Lord:

“He is good; his love for Israel continues forever.”

And then all the people shouted loudly, “Praise the Lord! The foundation of his Temple has been laid.”

Ezra 4:1-7

When the enemies of the people of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned captives were building a Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families. The enemies said, “Let us help you build, because we are like you and want to worship your God. We have been offering sacrifices to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”

But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the leaders of Israel answered, “You will not help us build a Temple to our God. We will build it ourselves for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to do.”

Then the people around them tried to discourage the people of Judah by making them afraid to build. Their enemies hired others to delay the building plans during the time Cyrus was king of Persia. And it continued to the time Darius was king of Persia.

When Xerxes first became king, those enemies wrote a letter against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

When Artaxerxes became king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and those with them wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. It was written in the Aramaic language and translated.

Read the letter here and the response: Ezra 4:11-24

Galatians 2:20-21

I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me. By saying these things I am not going against God’s grace. Just the opposite, if the law could make us right with God, then Christ’s death would be useless.

Posted on 1 Comment

Thank You, Father God

If you’ve followed my blog or read any of my books, you have no doubt encountered some musings that may appear “too personal” to share. Surprisingly, I have no reservations about sharing the processes God puts me through in life. I consider it my duty, actually, to be truthful and honest about the work He is doing in me and through me. That being said, there are some things that I consider extremely personal. My journal is one such thing. My journal is basically an ongoing conversation with God. He is the person I am writing to in every entry. And He is the person who answers me through my writing as well. It’s been on my heart to share a recent entry and I’ve been debating and dragging my feet. But Thanksgiving Day seems an appropriate day to share such a personal “Thank You.”

from LaShawnda’s Journal

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Father God, thank You so much for holding me, keeping me and maintaining me. Thank You for communicating to me and with me. Thank You for comforting me, soothing me, calming me. Thank You for walking me through my hurt, anger, confusion, jealously, rejection, sense of inferiority and feeling unwanted by people. Thank You for holding me through my loneliness. Thank You for seeing my tears and letting me cry; thank You, Father for listening to my anguish and my sorrow as I weep. Thank You, Father for loving me enough to create me, redeem me and sustain me. Thank You, Father, for keeping me on Your path, for keeping me in Your will and for teaching me Your Word and for revealing my life to me step by step. Thank You for preparing me for all You have in store for me. Thank You for building me up and connecting me to You in a way that has me continually seeking You and checking that our connection has not loosened. Thank You for repeatedly humbling me and repeatedly raising me up again. Thank You, Father, for the seed of glory and faith I come from and thank You for the many seeds You’ve planted in me.

I thank You, Abba, for the woman You are cultivating me to be. I thank You for the ears that hear You, the eyes that see You, the heart that loves You and Yours, the mind that thinks beyond what it’s exposed to and the spirit that’s diving deeper and deeper into You. Thank You, Father, for Your Grace and Mercy, for Your Love and Patience. Thank You for Your Good Thoughts toward me and Your Diligent Plans for me. Thank You for all You have placed in my heart and set me to work nurturing. Thank You. Thank You. THANK YOU!

I bless You, Father God. I praise You, Father. I honor You with all that I am. I glorify You with my life. Having said all this, I know I haven’t said enough. So continue to search me, Father, and cleanse me. Continue to renew my mind and spirit and keep me in right relationship with You. This is my prayer this morning – this day. By all that is Holy, by You, Father, in the most precious name of Your Dear Son, Jesus, and by Your most amazing indwelling Spirit, I say YES and AMEN to ALL You will have me do and receive and wherever You will have me go. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.

Posted on 2 Comments

Just do it – Walk in Faith & Praise God along the Way!

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”  ~ Luke 17:11-19

Get this Word!

Ten lepers cried out to Jesus from a distance. Jesus simply looked at them and spoke a statement – from that same distance. He didn’t offer any promises or elaborate speeches. He just told them where to go and what to do. In the PROCESS of them following Jesus’s instruction, the ten lepers were cleansed of their disease.

That’s power! Pure power in the Word!

As he continued to walk in Jesus’s instruction, one of the lepers noticed he was clean of his disease and rushed back to Jesus and thanked Him for what He had done. He praised God for his healing.

Jesus can’t be shocked by human nature, but He points out that He cleaned ten lepers and only one (a foreigner, at that) returned to thank Him and give glory to God. He continues and says because of that man’s expression of faith, he is now healed.

What I hear in what is not said is the other nine were not permanently healed. They were indeed cleansed in the process, but without faith they did not stay that way.

Now apply this story to any situation in your life. How have you believed God for a manifestation and when you received it, you considered it your due? Perhaps you didn’t offer God thanksgiving. Or perhaps you attributed your gratitude to outside sources that seemed to come through for you.

Keep thinking of that situation.  Now consider how you regressed. Regression happened didn’t it? Perhaps you got the house you prayed for, but then you weren’t able to afford the payments. Perhaps you got the job you prayed for, but then you didn’t have time for your spouse and children. God will always support and increase what He provides when we give Him His due – praise and thanksgiving.

In all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). The most important element of life is to understand we were created to praise God (Isaiah 43:21).

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress.

He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.   ~ Psalm 107:1-9

Posted on 1 Comment

Pop Culture vs. The Bible: For the Sake of His Praise

Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name, I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out. I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering. I will rescue you for my sake — yes, for my own sake! I will not let my reputation be tarnished, and I will not share my glory with idols!  ~ Isaiah 48:9-11 NLT

For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. ~ Isaiah 48:9-11 NIV

For My name’s sake I defer My anger, and for the sake of My praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it [I refrain and do not utterly destroy you]; for why should I permit My name to be polluted and profaned [which it would be if the Lord completely destroyed His chosen people]? And I will not give My glory to another [by permitting the worshipers of idols to triumph over you].  ~ Isaiah 48:9-11 AMP

One of the questions that rotated in my mind while I was putting together my manuscript for My God and Me was, “What is the purpose of anything when nothing is permanent?” Without permanence, nothing seems to matter. The only constant in life is change. You’re fighting against a rising tide when you try to keep life the same as it has always been.

Pop Culture

At the end of summer, I watched Up in the Air with George Clooney. Someone who had read my book suggested I might enjoy the movie. I did. The theme that emerged was the purpose of relationships. George Clooney’s character, Ryan, was a devout and confirmed bachelor who saw no value in any type of emotional attachments. He lived on the road, in the air and hotels most of the year, spending only 80 days annually in his apartment, which was across the country from his family. As the storyline develops, we learn his younger sister is getting married. Not only does she want him to show up, she asks for his help with preparations leading up to the wedding. Ryan expresses some irritation but valiantly attempts to satisfy the requests. The more he does for his sister, the more he realizes that his self-absorbed and remote life may not be the best way to live.

Crisis: The sister’s fiancé, Jim, got cold feet and called off the wedding hours before the ceremony. Ryan was called upon again, for a far more urgent matter than before, to assist his sister by speaking to the terrified groom. Throughout the whole movie, Ryan talked about how marriage and other attachments were a waste of time. Before he could even attempt to speak with Jim, he had to dig deeper into himself for something worthy to share with Jim. He didn’t want to be dishonest and speak against his beliefs, however, for his sister’s sake, he did as he was asked.

When Ryan approached, the groom had this to say (paraphrased, transcript below): “I couldn’t sleep last night. I stayed up thinking about my life. I saw myself getting married to your sister. I saw us having children. I saw the children growing up and all the things we would have to buy for them. I saw them heading off to college. I saw your sister and me growing old. And I saw us dying. Then I thought, what’s the purpose of any of this? We’re going to die anyway; why get married?”

{As a woman, I was impressed that he actually saw the span of his life with this woman. Brownie points!}

George asked where his sister was while these thoughts were going through Jim’s head. She was in another room. “So you were in bed alone and lonely?”


“Well that’s the problem. There’s no purpose for any of it. We are going to die. What matters is how you live and who you share your life with. That’s it.”

The Bible

That sounds so sweet and romantic! Wrapped with a Hollywood bow, you couldn’t ask for a warmer, feel-good moment. But according to Isaiah 48, there is a purpose for everything. We go through a life of affliction – pain, distress, grief; misery, sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution – for the sake of God’s glory. To overcome. Our purpose is to praise Him. Our trials are not to be an exception; they are to be the rule. However, when we give God His due, His praise – He ministers to us and make our circumstances of no effect on our ability to enjoy our life. Believers are to be visible examples to non-believers that the God we serve is a mighty God, able transform the most painful and dire of situations to our benefit. If our lives were completely rosy all the time, how then would God’s mercy, power and faithfulness be exhibited for others to see? We prove that He is most deserving of praise when we praise Him in our affliction. We are to praise him for His works. We are to simply give God honor for who He is.

God is not interested in sharing His glory with others. That means you – He is not interested in sharing His glory with you. Believers cannot allow others to think God is not the benefactor of our abundance, knowledge, success, and power. If people watching our lives think that we have achieved and succeeded on our own, then God is not receiving His Praise. We are not giving Him the glory.

The next time you’re tested, praise God. Whatever it is, you will overcome it. The God of Abraham is within you! He will not allow those who do not worship Him to triumph over those who do. Remember that.

Other Pop Culture vs. The Bible Posts

Whitney Houston & The Greatest Love of All
Amy Winehouse: When did she live?
Things Charlie Sheen Has Taught Me
Pop Culture Messiah (Michael Jackson)
Posted on 3 Comments


Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  ~Romans 12:21

Two Sundays ago, I participated in my first event as a RAINN representative. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is an organization dedicated to assisting survivors of sexual assault. As a member of the RAINN Speakers Bureau I receive notices from organizations looking for people to speak about sexual violence, preferably, but not necessarily, from their own experience.

I offered to participate in the V-Day presentation of Vagina Monologues at the State University of New York – Purchase on that early March Sunday.

I don’t know if I had any expectations of the event, but I became somewhat emotionally overwhelmed by the experience (see Tell the Devil to Flee!). Quite honestly, I couldn’t read my emotions over the weekend. Saturday I was cranky and realized days later my mood was caused by anxiety. And Sunday, before I stepped on stage before the program started to speak about RAINN, the beneficiary of the event proceeds, I actually got nervous – sweaty palms and shaky legs – the whole bit. I couldn’t figure out why I was so nervous, because I talk about me so often. Again, the analysis came days later: I’ve been talking about my story in a vacuum. Only in the context of my book, my projects… in the context of the island I imagine myself to be. Representing RAINN was like making contact with something so much bigger and grander than myself. I became part of a human tapestry of similar stories and common struggles. I had never represented myself as only a survivor of sexual abuse before. I had been a victim and supporter of other victims, but standing before an audience as a survivor for no other reason than to offer the light of hope to someone else’s darkness, well, that centered me, humbled me and shook me.

Up to ten minutes prior to going on stage, I had no idea what I would say. I had information, but no thoughts on delivery. I decided I wouldn’t talk about me; there was no need to get personal. I would just share the statistics. I sat down and started writing an outline of rape statistics I felt people should be aware of. As I wrote the statistics down, it became clear I had beaten the odds. I was an outlier. At that point, I decided I would share a bit of my story.

This is what I said before the V-Day Vagina Monologues audience at SUNY Purchase:

One of the most difficult things for a victim of sexual assault to do is to talk about an attack. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, I urge you to speak out about it. Talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to family or friends, please call RAINN’s National Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE. The Hotline has trained counselors that will listen to your story with no requirement of your name or location. The Hotline operates with complete confidentiality. You can share identifying information only if you want to. At any given moment over 1100 volunteers are on duty. You can also receive 24/7 assistance via the Online Hotline. Please visit for more information.

I want to share some statistics with you:

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  • Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
  • 73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim
  • 60% of rapes go unreported, resulting in 15 out of 16 rapists walking free.
  • Only a projected 6% of rapists actually do prison time – alarming!

Talking about your sexual assault is the hardest thing. But your healing begins when you speak. Healing is a process, it’s not immediate, but that process only begins when you talk about what’s been done to you. Don’t hold that in. If your assailant is a family member, it will be even harder to speak out. I know, my whole family turned against me when I spoke against their two darling sons.

My father sexually abused me from age seven to eleven. And his brother abused me from age ten to eleven. One day, when I was eleven, I got fed up. I walked out the house and to the police station. I knocked on a door and asked the police officer who answered, “What can I do to get rid of my molesters.” Even as they took my statement they sent cars to my house and my uncles’ house to arrest them both. And I have never since had to be around either of them involuntarily. They were tried and sentenced to ten to twelve years each and completed all of their time.

I’m now thirty-four years old and it took me well into my twenties to fully recover from the trauma. But I stand before you today completely healed and whole.

However, I had to speak first.

Thank you.

I don’t have much problem writing about my pain and sharing with innumerable strangers online, but standing in front of an auditorium of strangers and sharing my deepest darkness (even just a snippet)… well, that was more emotionally taxing than anything I’ve experienced in years. However, I walked off stage to a validating applause that let me know the sharing was appreciated.

I found a seat to watch the program. I hadn’t seen the Vagina Monologues performed in about a decade. If you haven’t seen, heard or read them, attend a program the next time it’s near you or go pick up the book. They represent amazingly universal stories of womanhood – of appreciation, exploration, suppression, torment and violation of our femininity by ourselves and others.

As I was leaving the auditorium after the performance, an older white woman stopped me at the door. “Can I give you a hug,” she asked.

“Of course,” I said with a big smile, “I love hugs!”

She embraced me tightly and warmly. As she pulled back, she gripped my hand and would not let go. Looking into my eyes, as hers welled with tears, she said this to me, “Thank you for sharing your story. And the way you shared it….,” she paused with a slight shake of her head. “I’m sixty-two years old. Women of my generation didn’t speak out like this. Like you. Like the young ladies on stage. God bless you all for speaking. It gives me hope. It gives me hope that my grandchildren and your children will not suffer the way we did, because they will know how to speak.”

“That is my hope as well,” I said quietly.

I was officially and completely shaken to my core. At the end of the day that woman (and all she represents) is the reason why I bare my soul every time I write a post. If I can positively impact just one person with the testimony of my experiences and my overcoming, the pain of the baring is so worth it.

My wobbly legs carried me down the stairs and into the ladies room where I locked myself into a stall and praised God.

Revelation 12:11

We OVERCOME by the POWER of the BLOOD and our TESTIMONY!

Our people defeated Satan because of the blood of the Lamb and the message of God. They were willing to give up their lives. (Contemporary English Version)

And our brothers and sisters defeated him by the blood of the Lamb’s death and by the message they preached. They did not love their lives so much that they were afraid of death. (New Century Version)

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (New International Version)

They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness. They weren’t in love with themselves; they were willing to die for Christ. (Message)

And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]. (Amplified)

RAINN PSA: Speak Out!