Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Recent appendicitis afforded me a glorious trip ...
in an ambulance.
The two EMTs were delightful,
handled me with care,
and transferred me from hospital bed to stretcher
as though I weighed no more than a mere leaf.
I wasn't in tremendous pain on the trip
from one hospital ER location to the main hospital.
No major bumps in the road.
The ride was smooth.
The trip was peaceful.
Arriving at the hospital, the red carpet rolled out ...
medical people came from every location to meet me at the door ...
to offer aid ...
to care for me.
I felt so important.
I couldn't offer thanks enough.
Weeks later ...
my husband said,
"I had a hard time keeping up with the ambulance."
I said, "What? Really? The sirens weren't on."
He said, "The lights were on."
I had no idea.
I didn't feel I was an extreme emergency.
I didn't realize they were treating me that way.
In my mind, they were simply driving me to the other location.
Little did I know that the lights were on.
Thinking back,
I realized I never felt us stop at an intersection ...
We didn't stop.
We sailed smoothly through every intersection
and didn't stop until we safely reached the main hospital.
It all made sense.

At Easter ...
we should realize we are important to God.
Much is going on behind the scenes ...
that we may or may never realize.
It may be years before we realize
something God has done on our behalf ...
to offer aid
to keep us safe
to handle us with care
to offer peace
to show His love
to make a way
to accomplish His purpose in us
to accomplish His purpose

Have you ever been given a gift you didn't realize?
You didn't understand?
A dear friend once gave me a gift ...
a bracelet.
And it's one of the sweetest presents
I've ever received ...
handmade and presented, in love, by a dear friend.
However, when I first evaluated it, I didn't realize it ...
I didn't understand it.
She quickly explained it to me.
She helped me realize it.
It all made sense.
And she included instructions in the bracelet package ...
to help me always remember.

Start on the left to realize the meaning with me ...
There were 3 wise men
who saw a star in the East.
They took 3 gifts to ...
 the King.
He was a Carpenter
and a Fisherman.
He had 12 Disciples that He taught
the Truth.
He shed His blood
on the Cross
and died for our sins.
In 3 days He rose from the dead
and ascended to the Heavens
and now sits at the right hand of God.
And He did all of this for LOVE.
This is what Jesus did for you and me.
The Father had the plan ...
The Son carried out the plan ...
It all makes sense ...
We were an emergency
and the light was turned on ...
 for us ...
to offer aid
to keep us safe
to handle us with care
to offer peace
to show His love
to make a way
to accomplish His purpose in us
to accomplish His purpose
Jesus is a beautiful present.
Jesus is the light.
Instructions were left, God's Word,
handmade and presented
by the One
who yearns to be our dearest friend
to help us realize what He did for us and why ...
Accept Him.
Seek Him.
Love Him.
Meet with Him.
Sail with Him.
Work with Him.
Roll out the red carpet for Him.
Thank Him.
It only makes sense.
Celebrate Easter!
He is Risen!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


God spoke this over my heart recently.
When we give something, someone, or a situation our total focus ...
we are taking our focus off God.
It's a straight ticket ...
a straight spiral down to ...
And since it does not sound like a tropical location,
I, for one, do not want to go there.
My recent appendectomy left me too sick to be there for my cat, Lucy's death.
From lack of strength,
I could barely hold her when she was on her last breath.
But life went on.
The world didn't stand still.
A few days later,
I was stronger,
and I got to thinking about her ...
the whole situation.
I started bawling.
I wanted to.
I wanted to dive right into the situation.
I wanted to give it my total focus.
And get out of my way.
Don't dare hold me back.
I looked at myself in the mirror and said:
"Shelli, WHAT are you doing?
What ARE you doing?"
I realized.
You see, it starts out so innocent.
I began to ask,
"Why couldn't she have lived until I was stronger?"
"Why couldn't I have had just one more good day with her?"
"Why couldn't I have been there for her passing?"
(And this can be applied to my grandmother's passing a year ago, as well) 
And it goes from an innocent
 - to -
with a stiff hand ...
and ...

a glare in our eye and a grit in our teeth.

Matthew 6: 19-21, 24 says:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.
No one can serve two masters.
Either he will hate the one and love the other,
or he will be devoted to one and despise the other."
If our thoughts and our talk are consumed with
our problems,
leaving God out of the equation,
we've been robbed.

God's Word says we can't love both.

If we give our hardships total focus
- the love -
more than likely, we will despise God for them.
 And though our total focus on our hardships
may not be intentional love;
we are undeniably showing them,
by total focus,
the love.
We must have proper balance ...
for sanity ...
for peace of mind ...
for obedience ...
for protection ...
for trust ...
for love ...

We must focus on God

and purpose to see our hardships
... in His light
... in His hand.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


"Hobbies?" asked our daughter.
"Yes, many older people get a hobby of some sort when they retire."
(And we mull over a list of assorted hobbies and
examples our older friends have displayed.)
"Dad already has a hobby," she exclaimed.
"Pick up sticks."
We laughed ourselves silly!
Five ... Six ... Pick up sticks.
(Go ahead and sing!)
She was so cute and accurate.
We have many trees on our property.

Limbs are continually falling ... big ones ...
and small ones ...
And it's not uncommon to see my husband walking with a stick,
an armful of wood,
or driving the lawn mower with the trailer full of wood.
Sometimes my daughter drives the mower
and points out sticks for my husband to pick up.
And they have a glorious time doing that!
Picking up the big sticks - logs - can hurt.
They hurt the back.
They hurt the gut.
And there are ones called "widow-makers" ...
if they fall on you,
they kill you.
And gloves are necessity because of snakes.
Yes, walking the property takes alertness and caution.

They take all the sticks - wood - to a burn pile.
Huge ones that lap over the pit ...
and small ones.
And when that pile gets really big, we burn it.
That is a great time for S'mores!
And that is a great time to call friends over.

But it reminded me of all the sticks we pick up ...
All the sticks we carry and never lay down ...
Sticks of fear ...
Sticks of regret ...
Sticks of failure ...
Sticks of ugliness ...
Sticks of resentment ...
Sticks of abandonment ...
Sticks of discouragement ...

“Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11: 28-29
Seven ... Eight ... Lay them straight.
What sticks have we unintentionally picked up?
What sticks are we carrying?
What sticks need to be laid down?
We must lay them straight.
Take those sticks to the burn pile.
Refuse to let them hurt your gut.
Don't let them kill you.
Lay them straight down.
Burn them.
Take them to God.
Call Family-in-Christ and celebrate.

Nine ... Ten ... Begin Again.

Thank you, Father God, for new beginnings.

(Caution: Picking them up again will only cause burn. Resist.)


Friday, March 28, 2014


"The cupboard under the stairs was full of them,"
I heard my daughter reading from Harry Potter.
(hear the British accent there)
Then ...
"Mom! Harry had to sleep with spiders!"
She laughed and had the heebie jeebies simultaneously.
I grinned, then said:
"We all do!
We just don't always see them.
We don't always realize they're there."
(and her daddy just killed a spider in her room the previous day)

Oh, spiders are definitely there,
especially when you live in Texas.
They are in every corner, in the garage, dangling out of trees ...
What would we do without the exterminator?
Before submitting my book to the publisher,
I was working hard in our office.
I edited until my eyes were literally bruised.
Barefoot in summer,
I had one leg propped up on the chair I was sitting in.
As soon as I put my foot down on the hardwood floor ...
tinge of pain.
I looked down to see the culprit,
but my reading glasses made for minimal visibility.
My first thought: scorpion?
I yanked my glasses off, looked down ...
and there was a squashed spider.
It was a suicide biter ...
it chose to bite me and take a foot on the way down over life.
In that whole room ...
the spider had to be right under where my foot would touch down ...
are you kidding me?
What are the odds?
Chills went up and down my spine.
I grabbed the squashed spider up in a napkin
and walked limping out the house to the back property to show my husband,
milking out the injury for all it was worth.
Tingles went all over my foot and lower leg.
We googled it and found it named: "Rabid Wolf Spider."
And it was poisonous.
I had just had an encounter with an eerie computer virus
while trying to get my book to the publisher ...
heard an eerie laugh come across my computer speaker
sounding like what I would envision - the devil himself.
That incident led me to pen "his viral voice" in my book when mentioning the enemy.
And now, a spider bite.
The enemy is so there.
 He'll bite you and take a foot on the way down over life.
We may not see him,
but he's there to whisper into our ears with his viral voice ...
Poison -
Our failures
Our shortcomings
Our past
You should have ...
You should have been ...
You can't do this ...
You don't deserve this ...
You will not do this ...
Oh, the critter's there ...
he's there ...
hiding under the bed ...
hiding in the corners ...
brazen enough to be right under our feet,
at our fingertips,
and crawling over us in our sleep.
When you give that spider your total focus,
when you sit down beside him,
you'll be looking straight at arachnophobia.
You'll be fearful.
Peace will be absent.
Tangled ...
Ensnared ...
We can't give the enemy our total focus.
God deserves our total focus,
and we'd better not lend it to anything or anyone else ...
especially not the spider.
Oh, the spider is there all right.
But more importantly ...
God is there.
Focus on God.
Replace the enemy's lies with God's Word - the truth.
When God offers so much wonderful ...
(Yes, I'm using "wonderful" as a noun ... wink!)
Basket of assorted cat toys.

Why would we focus on that one?

Mind what you see, what you read, what you hear, what you touch ...
Oh, be careful.
Focus on God.
That is the Raid - the exterminator - that will knock out
that spider, that prowler, that intruder
and squash him like the bug he is. 
Don't leave your intentions hollow
When temptation comes to wallow
Focus on the ONE to FOLLOW 


Monday, March 24, 2014


Forgive me.
It's unexpectedly been a while since I've written.
I unexpectedly found myself in the ER for an emergency appendectomy.
My appendix was spreading infection throughout my abdomen,
and it hadn't even ruptured.
That was totally unexpected.
I was unaware an appendix could do that.
Going in, all I knew was that there was a "soft mass" visible,
and something was blocking the view of my appendix.
Well, you know where my mind went.
But my precious surgeon put my mind at ease by stating,
"Shelli, this is not cancer;
this is your appendix spreading infection."
Praising the Lord she was right.
And what do you do when your anesthesiologist tells you to
think of the best dream ever? ...
Waking to hear an infection from my appendix
was blocking the view of my appendix and
displacing minor organs was truly good news.
I've always heard people say:
it's harder to recover from surgery the older you get ...
They are right.
About to enter an ambulance to be transferred to the main hospital ...
an unexpectedly pleasant ride.

Arriving home from the hospital,
I was unexpectedly greeted at the mailbox by a copy of my cover story in
WMU's Mission Mosaic magazine.
It had escaped my memory due to sickness.
My article is titled Cultivating Faithfulness: WMU in the Philippines.
If you'd like a copy, it is the April 2014 edition.
Go here to order.

After arriving home from the hospital,
our beloved cat, Lucy, unexpectedly took a turn for the worse.
Oh, her health had been steadily declining,
but the timing seemed so horrid.
I was sick several days prior to surgery,
and I could tell she wasn't feeling well either.
Her eyes squinted. She was probably in pain.
She followed me everywhere, and she always wanted in my lap.
It got to the point if I went to another room,
I'd carry her with me.
She would just follow anyway.
I knew her strength was diminishing.
I was too weak to go to the vet with my family to have her put to sleep;
and I couldn't even walk out for her funeral that day.
My heart was broken.
I did not expect to love her so much.
But she had really grown on me.
I feel her brother, Aslan, is lost without her for the time being.
But I am so thankful to God for our precious eight years with her.

Lucy is the calico. Her brother, Aslan, is the orange tabby.

My baby girl also turned 14 after I came home from the hospital.
This was not unexpected,
but I had expected to plan a party for her.
I had to release my expectations
and allow my other daughter and my husband to take over all birthday preparations!
 That was not easy.
But I had no choice.
And she was a darling.

I spoke at a ladies' retreat this last weekend on surviving hardships.
After surgery, I didn't do much of anything or go hardly anywhere until the retreat ...
except for doctor appointments.
I knew I had to save my energy and be well.
God showed up as expected, but the degree of His love is always a little unexpected.
And then you smile and remember His faithfulness.

My mother and my oldest daughter went with me to help me out.
My daughter unexpectedly won the grand door prize of ...
a night for two at the hotel I spoke at!
She says she is taking me with her ...
a night out for mom and daughter
when I am better.

I could never have made it through this time without God's love,
my beloved family, and the body of Christ.
You never expect to have to depend on people this much,
but what a blessing when they come through in such an amazing way.
And I'm so grateful.
Anything unexpected in your life?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The girls and I have been studying active and passive voice today.
I love teaching them because the truth is ...
I have much to learn.
Active voice is when the subject is doing the action.
Passive voice is when the subject is receiving the action.

The cat bit Shelli. (active)
Shelli was bit by the cat. (passive)
Whether the subject or object, Shelli has been injured.
Sometimes it feels like life is spinning out of control.
Sometimes it feels like we can only take what comes.
Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in a passive world.
Sometimes it feels like we have no voice.
When your household remains sick for a lengthy time ...
When a pet begins losing weight and a reason never seems to come ...
When the household chores never seem to end ...
When you keep forgetting that one grocery item ...
When you wish you could see your loved one who is moving just once more ...
When necessity takes over and the things you desire to do are set aside ...
When you just can't seem to catch up ....
But one thing I've learned through the years ...
We can't look through our own eyes.
We must see through eternal eyes.
So when life feels rough ...
You feel lowly ...
You don't know which way to turn ...
You feel like you are just inches from drowning ...
And that time is slipping like sand through your hands ...
Remember Someone has your back.
When God is on your heart's throne ...
Because God is active.
He is not passive.
God is ...
God is good ... to you.
God is loving ... to you.
God is caring ... to you.
God is forgiving ... to you.
God is teaching ... you.
God is working all things together for good ... for you.
God is a mighty warrior ... for you.
God is a shield ... for you.
God is a voice ... for you.
God is ...
And that list and action never ends.
That goodness seems to encapsulate everything that
God is.
God loves you.
You are loved by God.
You are the active subject and object of God's affection.

And use your precious voice to ...
Praise Him
Thank Him
Brag on Him
Voice, "I love you."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed
I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.
Jonah 2:9 
When our daughter Karalee was tiny, we met my husband for a lunch date.
Outside his workplace in the car, we waited for his grand arrival.
Since he was active duty in the U.S. Air Force, he proudly sported his military camouflage uniform. Karalee couldn’t wait for her daddy to walk out.
The problem was … she was looking to identify him by his uniform.
I couldn’t help but get tickled and even a tiny bit embarrassed because
every man who came out wearing a uniform was
her daddy!
A man would walk out of the building, and she’d shout, “Daddy!” Not “daddy.”
The next man would walk out, and again she would shout, “Daddy!” Not “daddy.”
Only one of those men walking out was her daddy,
but she was so easily, unintentionally deceived.
Notice in this verse Jonah adds, “Salvation comes from the Lord.”
God spoke hugely to me on this aspect. I suddenly realized:
We often look to idols to save us.
Like Eve, we are deceived.
We exchange God’s salvation for hopes of an idol’s salvation.
The sad part is an idol can never save; only God can save.
We elevate things or people to a position only God deserves and look to those things to somehow save us.
In turn, we place our faith and trust in them.
            God certainly gained my attention through this,
and maybe He gained yours, as well.
Is there anything you unintentionally place above God for salvation?
Is there something you are clinging too tightly in your hand?

There are many possibilities–family, relationships, desire to be married, money, higher education, new job, success, affirmation, weight loss, physical healing;
the list is endless.
Remember, these things are not bad.
They are all good things; but never look to them for salvation.
Remove them from your heart’s pedestal;
keep them in proper perspective.
Hold them loosely.
An idol is really Satan’s lie.
We unintentionally step on that spiral down
when we buy into the lie that anything other than God can save.
We soon realize we’ve been robbed by Satan. Deceived.
But make no mistake–Satan is intentional.
Never forget there is only one Savior.  
And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:21-22
Do not be deceived.
Turn to God; He promises to grant strength and comfort. He will save.
He will change us from the inside out and give us
a glimpse of what it is like to know
 true love, loyalty, and faithfulness.
Put Him above all else, and we will be miraculously transformed.
Let us take ourselves and our problems out of our own mental spotlight.
Let’s hop right out of the equation.
Let us give God His deserving place–first place. 
Paraphrased excerpt taken from: A Gift Worth Keeping: It Goes with my Décor!
By Shelli Littleton
Copyright 2013

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


The heat is intolerable.
Her face is flushed.
Her little cheeks look like lollipops, white with red centers.
And the little stick supporting that lollipop is nearly collapsing from over use.  
Layer after layer has been peeled away.
That baby girl is a cancer survivor.
Our baby girl.

I am a guest writer on Dayspring's (in)courage website today.
Be blessed! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Our dear friends are moving.
I am heart-broken.
Yet, I'm so excited for them (I can't quite use an exclamation point yet).
They aren't moving to another city or another state.
They are moving overseas.
They are brave.
And they take the truth:
"I can do all things through Christ"
And clasp it in their precious, moldable hands.
We had one last weekend together.
We possibly won't see them for two to three years.
Our kids have grown up together.
She has three boys; I have two girls
But they love each other with a love I have yet to see among most kids.
Our girls cry their hearts out when they have to be separated.
And my friend ...
I was determined I didn't need a friend when God brought her into my life.
I determined I only needed Jesus.
And He blessed me with her ...
Just because He can.
This post is to say a temporary goodbye
To the most precious family I never tire of ...
To the ones who love me when I say ridiculous things ...
To the ones who love me when I don't know what I think about anything ...
To the ones who love me unconditionally in spite of me.
To the ones who love me even when I spit on their French fries.
Because ...
They have a Jesus kind of love.
Their path won't be easy.
But God will bless them in the journey ...
Just because He can.
Trust God's path to victory!
Run like the champions you are through Christ.
And meet Him at the throne to receive the victor's crown.
My precious friends. They are like my little brother and little sister. Aren't they gorgeous?! 

Me with my "little sister" ... she is ten years younger than I am, but that didn't phase her one bit!

Our kids ... my girls, her boys.

Good friends.

Our whole gang!

Our whole silly gang!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


When pain pierces into your heart and your head
And sadly, you see where your choices have led
And undoubtedly, you have made your own bed
And you wonder about shelter or will you be fed
And you're tired of a hand out and begging for bread
And you grow weary of tears from living with dread
And being surrounded by the living dead
And you're tired of happiness dependent on meds
And you're tired of finances forever written in red
And you're tired of two steps backwards, only one step ahead
And you're tired of being tired, no strength, not a shred
And you're tired of hanging on by a very thin thread
And you're contemplating relief from a cartridge of lead
Choose Jesus instead
Born in a lowly manger bed
The disciples He led
5,000 He fed
A price on His head
Sweat drops of red
Up to Calvary was led
Suffered and bled
His blood freely shed
Punished for sin in our stead
Rose 3 days from the dead
The Bridegroom to wed
Our daily bread
Who hates sin, every shred
Who loves you, every thread
Will judge the living and dead
Jesus ...

No more tears, no more dread
You will not be mislead
And everybody said?


By Shelli Littleton Copyright 2014

Friday, December 20, 2013



It's been a tough and good year.

And we are blessed to have a home

Favorite picture from Christmas 2012

And a place to hang our coats
(and purses and scarves and ball caps)

And extraordinary places to hang our hat

 And we are thankful for the warmer weather and a reason to
Momentarily hang up our hats and coats
And we inspect the damage from the recent ice storm
The tall oak tree fell and broke the fence
The fence now needs mending

And only half of the oak still stands.

  And the tiniest tree remains still standing undamaged

And I am reminded

We don't have to be tall to take it
We don't have to be big to be strong
We don't have to be strong to stand

And I remember the tough

My grandmother went to Heaven this 2013 year
And the earth didn't stand still

As a child, I would lie down on the floor, plop my feet in her lap,
And she would rub my feet
And I remember her cozy lap
She would always tease me about my tail bone being too sharp
And I remember getting too big to sit in her cozy lap but I still did
Because she would say, "You will always be my baby"

No Christmas card from her this year
No smallest gift from her heart this year
And I hold on to every single memory with her.
Her life was a gift to me.
She was not perfect
But she perfected me.

I barely had strength to take her loss
But with wobbly, weak knees, I stood broken and spoke at her funeral
One of my life's sweetest memories

And I am reminded

We don't have to be tall to take it
We don't have to be big to be strong
We don't have to be strong to stand
And I wish I could have shared with her the good
After her passing, I published my book
It's about surviving hardships
Weathering life's storms

When others break us
When we break ourselves
When God breaks us

The hard.
It's about hardships being gifts
Gifts are not always easy
But gifts are life-changing
And I refer to an eagle my husband gave me
That seemed like a bad gift
That didn't go with my décor

But that turned out to be a great gift
A keepsake
Just like hardships
And I can't imagine life without it

And it goes with my décor
And it fits perfectly right where God placed it
And the book is not perfect
And it will never be a best seller
And the earth didn't stand still
But God used the writing to perfect me

And revealing my faults and failures and weaknesses
My weak knees wobbled placing it out there for the world
And I am reminded
We don't have to be tall to take it
We don't have to be big to be strong
We don't have to be strong to stand

And as I watch my precious daughter read about Jesus' birth

I am reminded of the smallest gift
And the smallest gift that Christmas morn was the greatest gift.
And the best wrapped gift in the tiniest package was
A baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
The God-man
The best gift I ever received.

And I am reminded

Jesus didn't have to be tall to take it
Jesus didn't have to be big to be strong
Jesus didn't have to be strong to stand

The tough ...
With weak and wobbly knees
He stood upright hanging and nailed upon a cross
He gave up His life
For you and me

And the earth didn't stand still
The earth trembled

And life ... home ... will never be the same without my grandmother
Because I am not home yet
And I am reminded
The tough and the good ...
My real home is where the greatest gift is.

And the good ...
The greatest gift forever lives today to perfect this broken me
On this road called life
With the tough and the good.

And as I write this on my 27th wedding anniversary
I am reminded
It's been tough and good.
And though the earth didn't stand still for the occasion
And though my marriage isn't perfect
God is using my marriage to perfect me.
And through the greatest gift ...

We don't have to be tall to take it
We don't have to be big to be strong
We don't have to be strong to stand

 Remembering your birthday, Jesus.
Thank you for helping us take it, for being our strength, and helping us stand.

Before the tough has a chance to kill you
Give God a good chance to heal you.

 Merry Christmas, All


Monday, December 16, 2013


Because God is so good ...
A Savior was born in Bethlehem.
Because God is so good ...
A Savior born in Bethlehem
Bore our sin.
Because God is so good ...
A Savior born in Bethlehem bore our sin in dying
So that we could bear living.
Because God is so good ...
A Savior born in Bethlehem
Is the one we desperately need to grab by the hem.

Because God is so good ...
Hardships have not helped me sink
They have helped me sail
Right over and through every tear ever shed.
Because God is so good ...
In spite of infertility
I have a Karalee
Because God is so good ...
I have a Katelyn
And in spite of cancer,
I still have a Katelyn.

What a gift!
Because God is so good ...
Hardships can be beautiful gifts
How far
How high
How wide
How straight
How balanced
We can sail
When a Savior born in Bethlehem is our captain.
When a Savior born in Bethlehem walks on water.
When a Savior born in Bethlehem turns water into wine.
When a Savior born in Bethlehem is a miracle of miracles.
"Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
James 1:3

Because God is so good ...
What hardships can you kick thru Christ?
Don't fear
Because God is so good ...
He has given the ultimate gift ...
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born
He is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11
Grab the Savior born in Bethlehem
By the hem. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013


This blog post was written for Blooming with Joy's website
as a guest writer.
The "gift-a-way" is expired but ...
Re-posting it for anyone who may have missed it.
Blessed by you,
Heart Confessions of a Missions Writer
By Shelli Littleton
Typhoon Haiyan pummeled my heart along with the Philippines. Why? I have had the privilege of interviewing missionaries there and sharing their stories with the world. A missionary friend wrote to assure me that she was back in the U.S. for a visit; she was safe from destruction. But where was her heart? Yes; she longed to return to the Philippines to help.
Yes, writing for Woman’s Missionary Union’s magazine, Missions Mosaic, keeps my heart feeling a broad spectrum of emotions. My most embarrassing moment, you might ask? I couldn’t retrieve an email from Melissa Moore … Beth Moore’s daughter! I couldn’t believe God had opened this sweet door for me to write on her Compassion International India trip, and I can’t get her email. My husband had set up “outlook” for my email. I had to actually go on-line to view her email, and it took me a while and my husband to figure this out. She was so gracious. Me? H-u-m-i-l-i-a-t-e-d! I no longer use “outlook.”
My funniest moment happened while interviewing a young Brazilian missionary on mission in Africa. We spoke on the phone. Wow! She could speak a little English; I could speak no Portuguese. We laughed ourselves silly. Ending our conversation, I said, “I’ll let you go”; Texas translation: I would hang up the phone. And she laughed out loud. I realized she was thinking, “You’ll let me go … where?”
My heart’s greatest overjoy was derived from Ron Hall, author of Same Kind of Different As Me. I had read the book, and Ron said he would do an interview. Thrilled! I couldn’t believe when my caller ID declared: Ron Hall. I told him his book made me want to give him and Denver Moore big hugs. During that same time, he came to my church to speak. Sheer God-thing. I had the opportunity to write yet another article on him for our church newsletter. When I walked into the Visitor’s Center where Ron was autographing books, he greeted me with a big hug. I was overjoyed and couldn’t function properly the entire day! He had not forgotten my request for a hug.
When did my heart cry most? Challenged to write an article about a child forced into marriage and giving birth at ten years old brought me to tears. This precious child, who should have been chasing butterflies and dancing on her daddy’s toes, was living in a Nigerian, Muslim, lower-class society. Because her body was not ready for childbirth, she was left with a permanent limp and a chronic leakage of human waste. This is common. Their babies often die as they die to society. They are divorced … outcasts; but there is hope through Christ. One child said, “Rayuwu ba tare da Isa ba, ban’zane, na gan Isa, na taba shi, nakuma zama da shi,” which translates: “Life without Jesus is a miserable life. I have seen, touched, and even leave with your Jesus.”
My most heart-humbling moments writing for WMU are when I am blessed to share my own personal hardships of infertility, miscarriage, daughter’s cancer battle at one year old, parents’ divorce, and adoption stories. I thank God for taking the very things Satan would have loved to have used to destroy me and using them for ministry.
My future heart confession? My heart is breaking and overjoyed that my dearest friend is leaving on a jet plane this coming year for Asia. Though she will be missed terribly here, what I wouldn’t give to write an article on her work there!
Please, God?!