“Hello…there you are!!” – Featuring Captain Shanais Strissel


Look at this picture of thorny weeds; imagine living in it- right there in the middle of that ugly, painful nest of flesh tearing barbs.  Imagine yourself moving around in there and trying to lay down at night, attempting to get comfortable enough to sleep.

Nope, not going to happen, right? There is no way to move without drawing blood, ripping flesh, crying out in pain- so you remain still, immobile, stagnant…stuck.

Now imagine this:
prune 2

And we clear away all of the thorns and weeds and we find this

flower 3

or this
seed 4

We find freedom from entrapment, a cool soft breeze, sunlight shining on our face, weight lifted, pain relieved and cool, soothing water running along our roots.

Space to breathe

Space to stretch our long achy limbs

Space to let the wounds heal

So what do thorns and weeds and flowers and seeds and space have to do with – anything?

LIFE, they have to do with life and the representation of struggle, pain, agony and victory.

So, imagine with me for a moment that we all start out as a


This little seed has been gifted with potential…potential to thrive and grow and stretch into what God has encoded into its DNA to be, whether it’s a rose or an great oak tree…the potential to be


To be beautiful,

To be unique…

And we are all born into families; families of other unique seeds that have already grown… but the problem comes when someone has come along and planted a bunch of weeds into the mix.

Parents are tasked with the immense responsibility of nurturing their children, their little seeds of great potential, right?

They are there to tend the soil, remove weeds, cut back unwanted growth, provide food and water and a safe environment for constant focused growth into the mighty image that we are meant to embrace- to find joy and strength and endurance alongside capable hands.


But what happens when our parents plant


What happens when your parents only know what life among the thorns is like because that is all they have known and now they are planting weeds in yours?

What about if you go back generations and you see nothing but acres of weeds in your family lineage?

Years of abuse, neglect, bad habits, addictions and on and on and on…all of this baggage serves to cover and hide our identity, our potential to reflect the image of God in our own unique way.

What happens now?

Well, we can’t weed the garden ourselves- it would simply turn us into a bloody, pulpy mess- we simply can’t see where we are going in the midst of that mess.

We could just sit and do nothing, which would leave us to become more sad, angry and embittered to our world and leaving us to pass on our own brand of thorns.


We could desire

Any change starts with a desire to be different, to see things different, to want more out of life than we have been handed, to be more AWARE of the world around us.

It is to recognize that the weeds aren’t good for us and to desire to get the hell out of there, literally speaking to get the Hell out of our lives – that’s the noun not the verb.

When we acknowledge the thorns are there, and desire to see them gone – that’s when real life starts.  God starts clearing the thorns and weeds for us.  He takes on our pain, our agony, our bloody wounds and gives us peace in place of pain.

Does this mean it will be an easy journey? No. Sorry to say it but getting rid of the thorns and weeds forces us to face our own truths and it’s painful but that is the only road to freedom.  The amazing thing is that we don’t walk a solitary journey; God clears the correct path and leads us to freedom and on the road to revelation.

Our true selves are discovered on that journey one root, one branch, one flower, one petal one leaf at a time until the entire beautiful, magnificent, amazingly unique plant is revealed. Well hello, there you are…

by SLS

3 thoughts on ““Hello…there you are!!” – Featuring Captain Shanais Strissel

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  1. Beautiful blog post, Scott. Like you said, “Any change starts with a desire to be different, to see things different . . .” I love how you challenge us in The Salvation Army to see things differently. And fresh, creative ways of seeing are coming forth in the Army. “The Southern Spirit” magazine of The Southern Territory USA just did a book review on fresh, new ways of seeing church. Check it out at: https://stevesimms.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/the-salvation-armys-southern-spirit-reviewed-beyond-church/

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