Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Gentle Nudging for a Thanksgiving Blessing and a Dance

I hadn't been in over a year. Goodness, that's hard to believe. 

My dad goes up there sometimes, and he always assures me that I'm welcome. But I've been so busy--same ol' song and dance, you know. And well, it's just not the same since my grandmother passed away. 

When my grandmother was living, I'd go visit her as often as possible. And well, with my uncle living down the road, he was a package deal. My dad might come up sometimes, and I'd see him, too. 

When my grandmother was ill, we three spent much time together, on her behalf. And well, I just got to missing those two something awful. I'd heard my uncle had been sick with pneumonia recently. 

My uncle on the left, who spent all morning cooking for us,
and my dad on the right who'd spend all morning doing 
Elvis impersonations if a knee weren't bothering him. 
He's good, too. 
I've learned to listen to that gentle nudging. I always know the Lord is speaking to my heart.

My dad tells me a date that's good for him. We'll all go out to eat, we plan. Make a day of it. My heart's already leaping.

The day arrives, and we leave fairly early ... the girls and I venture out to go the distance--2-1/2 hours there. 

I call my dad when I'm an hour away, and he sounds like a little kid. He's so excited to see us. "I can't wait for y'all to get here," he says.

I miss her road. Her Texas county road. I chastise myself for letting a year go by. How could I miss her road? I pull off and turn around, heading the right direction now.

My grandmother's house is near this little city of Antioch, Texas. Antioch ... the first recorded place in the Bible that I've been taught where the word "Christian" was used ... it meant "Little Christs" ... it was often used in a derogatory way. Am I living my life in a way that others would call me "Christian"?

And there's her driveway. The long windy, sandy driveway trimmed with pines. Yeah. I played on that road a ton when I was a kid. My toes burrowed through that sand.

My heart pumps with ingrained excitement, as I turn onto her drive. In my younger days, that's when I'd bring out the hairbrush and dab on a little make-up--prepare to see my family. Like I'd looked that way all along. Just my casual self. 

Before I even get to the house, my dad is outside waiting, pacing. Just like my grandmother used to do. He's holding a camera. The minute we step out, he says, "I want to get a picture of y'all." I've never danced with my dad, but this moment was right up there. O Soul Within, he loves you.

We hug. He says my uncle is making dinner for us. 

"But he's been so sick," I say.

"He really wanted to cook for you," my dad says. O Soul Within, he loves you, too.

Noon finally arrives, and we head over to his Texas country house. I climb the steps and knock.

"Come in."

He's cooking. Doing the shuffle throughout his kitchen, he's made a Thanksgiving feast--a whole turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, some casserole, rolls, cherry pie. Like my grandmother used to do. Evidence covers the front of his shirt--flour, splotches of grease. He looks exhausted. He's sweaty. Clearly, his strength hasn't returned and may never. Other health issues. 

I start sweating too because his blood is thinner now, and he keeps his house warm. And I'm having power-surges (ABS!). And I'm imagining cracking open a window for fresh air. 

My mouth gapes open, with a smile. He's twirled my heart right in. I know my eyes are glowing with a slight hint of confusion. "What have you done?" I ask. "You've been sick."

"I wanted to do this for my baby."

My uncle put me first, grateful that I'd come the distance. For him. For my dad. Regardless of how he felt.


O Soul Within, it's not easy to honor the One who went the distance for us when you are sick, hurting, struggling ... 

To put Him first ... to treat Him like the love of your life ...

It's tempting to settle for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the quick and easy.

But you'll always be blessed for the effort. Allow the evidence to cover you and others. Don't let too much time go by. Don't miss the road. Take His hand and do the dance ... waltz the floor ...

one, two, three, one two, three ...

Because He loves you.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

When you're tired and struggling, is it tempting to push the very One Who can strengthen you to the back burner? How do you ensure God comes first?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Uh-oh! My Red Lipstick Got on Your Red Cup

It's raining, flooding actually. I've been known to hydroplane even in my tennis shoes with all the rain we've received. And I thought one could only hydroplane in a car. What did I know?

And I just dropped my oldest off at her volunteer job. I've got one other young lady who just hopped up front with me. And it's turned cold. We push those seat-warmer buttons.

"Do you want to get a latte?" I ask, smiling.

Her smile greets mine. "Yeah."

"Do you want to try the peppermint mocha?" 

"Yeah." She'll try anything. Any flavor, any color. She's brave. I'm not. I stick to the same ol', same ol'.

"One white chocolate mocha and one peppermint mocha, please."

Just what we needed to warm our insides.

"Can I try your peppermint?" I ask.

"Sure." She's so giving. I'm surprised she didn't ask me first.

"Oh, that's a bit too minty for me." I can't believe I hear myself say that. I love mint. My young lady wipes my red lipstick off her cup. Now, I know quite possibly why she didn't ask.

"I'm sorry," I say. "I didn't mean to get my lipstick on your cup."

O Soul Within, I know you didn't mean to infringe. Sometimes people don't want your blood spilled on them. 

Back up. Hands off. Let them clean it off. Don't touch their cup again. Unless you are invited.

It's probably tempting to think it's because they're so white and clean. And clearly, you're not. Never have been, never will be. Or maybe, quite possibly, there has been miscommunication, and they think you're so white and clean, or claim to be.

Oh, don't take offense, O Soul Within. 

Sometimes people don't want to jump on your bandwagon. Because they have their own bandwagon. Maybe they're comfortable with theirs. And maybe they're not quite ready to shift. And sometimes folks ride stealth bandwagons--invisible to you and sometimes themselves.

And sometimes blood carries germs and diseases, and people have enough of their own germs and diseases ... and they don't need yours. Stop trying to share.

And well, sometimes people just need to warm up to you.

And don't lose hope. Because O Soul Within, there are people who have your blood type. With your very same germs. They are just like you, and they don't mind your blood spilled on them. Not one bit. Or maybe they like studying your type--the work in progress that you are. And they'll open their very hearts to fit yours in. Come alongside you. They'll join your bandwagon or motion for you to jump on theirs. What a hayride!

And don't lose focus. O Soul Within, let it be a lesson to you. Don't worry about spilled blood. Don't worry about germs. Ditch the Germ-X. Let them pour down over you. 

Be brave. 

Don't stick to the same ol', same ol'. Ride out of your comfort zone. Hydroplane into others' lives. Because you were made for community, for fellowship, to share one another's burdens. Why, if you worried about that, you'd have missed out on the Lamb of God, the ultimate offering ... 

the One who took the cup upon Himself, who spilled His blood, letting it trickle down on you ...

so that you could be new ...

so that you could be clean.


Have you ever expected others to understand your situation and felt disappointed when they didn't? Or have you ever been afraid of someone different from you? Maybe someone suffering differently than you? Maybe you didn't know how to help or quite what to say, so you turned the other way? How can we love others when we struggle with fear? Any advice?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When You Don't Know How to Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

It's a beautiful day, and we are in comfort mode. I'm all slumped down in the comfy chair, relaxed and calm, delving into a really good book. When out of the blue, my toes take on a mind of their own and begin to curl inward, sending me running around the house like a crazy woman. Have you ever seen someone talk to their toes? Begging and pleading?

Dr. Pepper goes down, popcorn suspends in mid-air, TV pauses, and everyone looks at me like I'm a crazy woman. Eyebrows raise. "What are you doing, Mom?"

I want to say, "Don't you know by now?"

I laugh and want to cry all at the same time. 

It's hard for anyone else to understand. Unless you've experienced it.

"My toes are cramping again." I can't stop walking, running, dancing around until they relax. It's the silly sandals I've been wearing. That's my assumption. They're just as darling as can be, but they are too wide for my feet. And I have to scrunch my toes with each step to keep them on, or else I'll walk right out of them in public. And I've been known to do that. I smile, when others see my mishap, misstep. 

I shouldn't wear them, and I have been wearing tennis shoes more often, but the sandals ... well, they are really cute. 

Everyone thinks so.

We get in the car, my girl and me, heading to the store. We're on this old windy county road with bumps and bruises. A trailer hauling horses or cows leads the way, oh some quarter mile ahead. My daughter says, "What on earth are they doing? They are driving drunk." Swerving in and out. Looked a bit dangerous for that trailer.

I say, "Well,"and I milk this out a bit, southern style"they might just be avoiding ..."we swerve to the left"that big hole"we swerve to the right"and this big hole." Yeah. Our road is full of holes. If you don't avoid them as best you can, your tire alignment will never be the same and neither will your insides. 

We laugh. My girl says, "I spoke too soon. I shouldn't have judged them. I had no idea."

I say, "Yeah, it's hard to understand until you walk in someone else's shoes."

We sit there silent for a few moments, soaking in that truth.

And I remember just a few weeks ago when I stood before this beautiful group of women. I was there to share my heart. And I know some of their stories, and some of their stories, I don't know. But there are stories. That I know. We all have them. 

Because we live in a world full of bumps, bruises, holes .... One minute we're slumped cozy on the couch, and the next, we are in crisis mode. Swerving to the left. Swerving to the right. 

Deer on the left. Deer on the right.

And I ask the Lord, "How? How do I stand before these beautiful women and even attempt to open my mouth? You know me."

You see, I've not walked in their shoes. Who am I? What can I do? What can I say? I don't even want to walk in my own shoes. Because sometimes these shoes are painful. They hurt, they cramp, and sometimes I want to walk right out of them.

How on earth can I walk in someone else's shoes until I fling my own painful shoes off my feet?

I hear my Lord softly say ...

O Soul Within, you just share your heart. It's a beautiful thing called a testimony. It's yours, unique, and distinct, like you. You allow those knees to softly cap the ground, glide your hands forward, letting that dirty-blond-hair-turning-gray, that I made, touch the ground, right alongside your face. 

When your heart is cramping right alongside everyone else's ... when you can't stand on your own two feet ... you slide prostrate until your heart hits the ground, level with your face, and you lift your eyes, with those tears that continually pool, to see my feet ... the feet of Jesus.

The feet that were punctured, scarred, cramped, and bruised.

And then something beautiful happens, O Soul Within, you pour out your heart, only to find that others are filling yours. 

At the foot of the cross.

Have you ever had a hard time walking in someone else's shoes? Did God show you how to walk forward?

And I want to thank the sweet Cornerstone ladies for loving on me, setting up all my equipment and all theirs, lugging in my boxes and bags before I could even blink, and for sharing their champion stories with me on this bumpy road called life. I'll love you forever.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Heart of the Sanctuary

Maybe you have chairs. We have pews. In the sanctuary.

Maybe your rows are wide allowing easy access, to enter or leave.

Our rows are narrow. Once you get inside, you might as well get comfortable.

O Soul Within, where do you sit? I see you, you know. You sit in the far back like a good back-row Baptist. And you grasp the pew's edge like your life depends on it. Beads of perspiration overtake you when you have to release your good grip. I see you. And your heart feels a little put-out when you have to bend your legs for others to move past you, to the inside. I know, you had gotten comfortable, seat warmed, you didn't want your pants to twist. I know it. I see you. 

O Soul Within, are you in the way?

And as I became self-aware, from my outside seat on the back row, in the balcony, I saw all the edges filled and the middle left sparsely occupied.

The heart of the sanctuary seemed empty.

My thoughts hovered over it for a time.

It's easier to sit on the outside, isn't it, O Soul Within? It calls us to bend a bit, for others to pass through, and sometimes our toes get stepped on. But we can come and go as we please. With ease. We can slip out to the bathroom. We can bolt. We don't get trapped.

If some can't sit on the outside, they'll get up and go. And that could possibly require you to bend again. O Soul Within, you feel conviction, don't you?

Moving into the heart of the sanctuary is a bit inconvenient. We have to step over people, be cautious not to step on toes. We accept the risk of getting trapped there.

Why are we afraid to move in? To move close? Are we afraid to come alongside other Believers? Are we afraid for others to know us too well? Really know us. Are we afraid for others to know when we're absent? Or present? Are we afraid of what it might demand of us?

How close are you willing to get, O Soul Within?

Are we outsiders or insiders?

O Soul Within, Sunday morning is often a reflection of youwho you are. Yeah, your very soul. It stings, doesn't it? Just let it sting.

Because if you'd just move insit in the seat prepared for you, live the life God called you toyou wouldn't be called to bend, or move, or feel the press of your toes, and there'd be room for others to conveniently move in, too. 

When you move, your children move.

The heart of the sanctuary would be overflowing. Because where two or more or gathered, the Lord is doubly attractive. And visitors or late-arrivals would always have a place, enough space.

Yeah, it's sweet to see that those on the pew rose to the occasion. And it's doubly sweeter to see the rows become endless, without edges, the growth so exponential that no one can fall off and hit the ground. Can you just see it? 

And the view will always be perfect. Because the view is Jesus.

The inside more crowded than the outsidewhat a concept.

O Soul Within, peel away from the edge. Don't be afraid to move into the heart of the sanctuary, to come alongside fellow Believers, because that's where you'll meet God. On the inside. In the heart. The inner circle. 

Have you ever felt God calling you to more? Relinquishing your very self? Have you had to push past fear, like me?

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Okay to Cry

“A CT scan is scheduled for Monday.”
When our pediatrician discovered an abnormality in our 13-month-old daughter’s abdomen, I drifted home in a state of shock. After walking through the front door, I locked myself in the bathroom and ran water in the tub as hot as I could stand it. I sought a safe place to cry, where only God could see.

Y'all, I'm a guest blogger with my dear friend, Norma Brumbaugh Wieland. 

If you'd like to read more of my story, please head over to her website
Blessed by you,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

From Broken to Mended

It's been pressing on her for a year. Painfully.

That metal piece of whatever you want to call it--expander, though I've called it every name in the book that starts with an "e" and ends with an "er"--served its useful purpose. It broke her. It really broke her. Even her allergies improved.

But boy, it was painful. The piece of metal made it hard to eat. She couldn't feel the roof of her mouth. Did she have any space left in her mouth at all?

It weighed on her heavily for a whole year. A whole year.

"It'll come off next month."

"No, it'll come off next month."

She sat down ... lay back. Hands of relief surround her.

"It's coming off today. It's really coming off," they say.

Feet up.

Relief at last.

Little girl smiles. She feels around in her mouth ... space she forgot she had.

"We won't do anything else today. We'll give it time to heal--see what movement takes place."

Little girl jumps up, leaving all behind, to brush her teeth ... brush all that was broken ... the roof of her mouth ... and rinse. Cleansed. 

She feels the cuts--where metal bore down into flesh, impressing, changing. But she can feel. She can feel once again.

Sometimes we have to be broken before we can mend.

Necessary change. And we wonder when we'll find relief.

And then we hear spoken, "Today's the day."

Sometimes we have to fall back into the hands that are capable.

We leave all behind ... all behind that hinders, binds, hurts, cuts.

We feel the impressions, the change.

But we can feel. Really feel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just Be You

Hello! I've had the sweetest blog interruption by the name of Jennifer Major. She's my dear Canadian friend who came to Texas for a writer's conference and stayed with me a few days in the name of research. 

I met Jennifer two years ago and love every invitation to Skype with her. So spending time with her in real life was such a blessing. Why? She's Jennifer. She's real. She doesn't try to be someone she isn't ... she's the real deal. She makes me laugh. She tells it like it is. She loves to tease me about my accent (don't tell her, but I love the attention). She loves God. She treated my girls like they were her very own. She's been a huge encouragement to me on my writing journey. And I'm just so thankful to God for her. She even went to church with me ... and I almost had to pinch myself ... Jennifer sitting in church with me. 

This video is just us being flat out silly. But I hope you enjoy it anyway. I can't watch it without giggling. 

Our expressions here are priceless.

On her first night at our home, she was braiding my daughters' hair when we heard fire trucks pass by. We live out in the country, so we knew something was wrong. Our neighbor's home burned completely to the ground. We were all in shock and can only imagine how that precious family is feeling. Please keep the Rogers family in your prayers. And pray for our family as we seek to approach them, serve them, and pray for them through this time.

Then, we went to Mexia, Texas, for Jennifer's research at Fort Parker State Park ...

We played Scrabble, and hands down, Jennifer is the queen of Scrabble ...

We met our dear writer friend, Becky Wade, at a book-signing and had dinner with her. She is amazing, and I just finished reading her book, My Stubborn Heart ... I read it and then re-read it ... it was so good. So good! I can tell that she'll be one of my favorite authors.

Lastly, the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference was everything I ever imagined. I have so many great photos, but here are pictures of two of my writer friends, who are sharing this journey with me. They encourage me every single day. Meeting them in person was the highlight of my year, no doubt. 



So, I've had a busy last three weeks. And it's been glorious. 

What did I learn? That God always shows up to meet you right where you are. You don't have to be a best selling author for writers to love on you or help you. 

You just be you. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wearing Imperfections Well

He came home from a week long trip to Hawaii. Business-related. Oh, the life. He came home the day I spoke in public for the first real time to a group of some 125 beautiful women. He eased into the church foyer on the last tidbit of my talk. I saw him. I smiled. 

I had been so nervous about him hearing me. About me seeing him. My husband knows me so well ... all my weaknesses, all my imperfections. He knows all ... all that I wish others didn't have to see. Would seeing him make me freeze? Would I forget everything I intended to say?

But I carried on. God was with me. He put the words in my heart and eased them out of my mouth. Just like He'd promised. I didn't have to be someone I'm not. I could be the broken, imperfect person that I am. I could be real.

After arriving home, he carried in his luggage and said he had something for us girls. Souvenirs. Souvenirs from Hawaii. The excitement in my heart bubbled over.


"What? Pearls. Really?" O Soul, did you hear that? Real pearls.

"They're imperfect. But they're real. I could afford them."

I opened the little delicate white bag held secure by the white satin ribbon and pulled out the string of pearls--a necklace and a bracelet. Real pearls.

They were beautiful. They weren't circular shaped like most I've seen. They were different. Thin. Long. Scarred. And they wore the name "pearl" perfectly with the pearly texture.

I put the necklace around my neck and tightened the clasp securely. The bracelet slid over my hand and onto my wrist. Perfectly imperfect.

Do you ever feel different? Imperfect?

Do you ever want to stay hidden in the drawer, in the closet, because of your imperfections?

O Soul, I know you do. You know you do.

It's okay to be imperfect because it's okay to be real. 

Put it on. Latch the clasp securely. Wear it proudly. Wear your imperfections perfectly. O Soul, you can't afford to be anything different. Because we live in a world of imperfection. And O Soul, people need to see real.


Have you ever been afraid to reveal your imperfections? Do you know that's what makes you beautiful? That's what makes you unique.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We Choose What We See

This is the first home I remember well. I lived there throughout elementary school.

Photo taken 1999

I loved this home in Tyler, Texas. 1524 Milam Drive. I have some of the best memories there. My mother had flowers planted around the mailbox. Back then, curtains lined our windows, not blinds. 

Our best friend lived at the end of the streetRedessa. I remember sitting in her boat in the garage and us three girls (my sister included) singing "Rock the Boat" ... and her parents put on the best Halloween party, even great to a chicken like me. I practiced line dancing to "Le Freak" here because we were learning it and dancing to it for exercise in school. We had dune buggies that we rode down that street, and those were eventually replaced by our bikes. A gas station sat behind our house, and we'd walk, sometimes sneak, there to buy candy. Our neighbor to the left had emphysema, and we loved him. We had honeysuckle growing on our back yard fence.

But do you see that big picture window, to the left of the front door? 

Photo taken around 1976

That was our family room and that's where I stood and cried when my daddy left our family. I watched him leave, and I'll never forget that moment. I cried, "Daddy, Daddy ... I love you." Everything changed in that moment, my life spun out of control. And when I see pictures of this beloved house ... sadly, that is the memory that overtakes my mind.

But do you see the window just to the right of the front door? That was my bedroom, and that is where I prayed with my mother to receive Jesus into my life. I was welcomed into my forever home, the body of Christ. And that is the memory I'm going to choose to overtake my mind.

I do have a choice.

I went back to that house when my oldest daughter was little, 16 years ago.

O Soul, do you see yourself? What will you choose to see?

To see only the bad is an irresistible temptation. The one who just couldn't seem to get it right. The one who made so many mistakes. The one who couldn't have children. The one ...

But I'm going to choose to see the one who is blessed. The one blessed with life. The one blessed by adoption. The one given her mini-me of the heart. The one blessed with forgiveness. The one who doesn't have to get it right.

Father, Father ... I love you.


Have you had to choose to see the good over bad? Did good prevail?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Finding the Cactus Flower

Her little feet hit the narrow, windy trail. Her little hand went straight in mine. Hand in hand had become a habit for us due to her ankle weakness. The chemotherapy that had helped save her life had injured her ankles. Holding her hand kept her from falling. She'd trip and then she'd soar by my arm's strength till she landed firmly on her sweet feet again.

Smiles. Eyes widened. Another close one. 

But today, everyone had new walking sticks, and she had every right like every normal kid to be excited about hiking with her walking stick. Like a big girl.

Trailing behind her, my hands lined and traced the edges of my thighs. Empty.

These trails were lined with cacti. Those who rode bikes often bragged about how they could fall off their bike and roll just so ... to miss the cacti. But one trip from that baby girl could land her right in the spindly needles. She'd been through so much already.

"Look, baby girl. Do you see those needles? Those can hurt you so badly. You've got to walk very carefully." But you know more than any child should about needles. I know that. 

Her sweet knees lowered and capped the ground. "Mama, look. There's a flower."

Oh, she loved flowers. She'd kiss flowers. Flower child, if there ever was one. We'd give her continual reminders that you can't pick flowers in the state park. She was a sneaky picker or brave, in spite of the fear of getting caught. It's truly the quiet ones you always have to watch out for.

"There sure is a flower. Amidst all that prickly bad ... there's something good."


Amidst all that bad ... stumbling, falling, injury, pain, brokenness, all the hard ... 

O Soul, there is room for something good to grow. There really is.

Allow your knees to lower and cap the ground.

Look for it. 

Find it. 

Like a needle in a hay stack. 

Grasp hold of it without fear. 

And give it with abandon.

Have you found something good in the midst of bad?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reflecting the Light from Above

Her fingernails and toenails had all been soaked and clipped, and the pink on her toenails reflected the light from above. Satisfaction seeped from my soul.

"Ma-Maw, it's time to wash your hair." I smiled, encouragingly nodded. The long, frayed ends of gray hair were not her normal. No, she'd kept her hair short and tidy for as long as I could remember. I have one picture of her with longer hair, when she was 26.

"No. I don't need it washed," she said emphatically.  

"Please," I pleaded.

"Okay." The defeat in her voice broke my heart.

I had already set the kitchen table with my necessitieswarm water, shampoo, towels. I'd have to work quickly. 

I walked her fragile self over to the kitchen slowly and carefully, and she sat down in the wooden chair. Though I counted it a privilege, I felt overwhelmed. I had been assigned a task by family and didn't quite know if I could pull it off. But I'd said I'd do it. And I'd do it. I'd try.

I had to think outside the box because she was too frail to get into the bathtub. Her back was too frail and painful to lean over into the sink. She could barely make it into the car to go to her doctor appointments. Going to a hair dresser deemed out of the question.

Why did I feel like the one deemed useless? I was scared. And I couldn't have her slipping on that floor. I couldn't risk another bone in her precious back broken.

I wrapped towels around her soft pink nighty and around the chair. Warm water gently poured from the pitcher in my hand's grasp over her precious hair. In the middle of the kitchen.

"It's cold." She began to pout and cry like a little child. But getting a glimpse of her as a child was precious. A smile grew across my face. It would be over so soon.

With the shampoo rinsed out, I wrapped her in warm towels, slipped a baby blue clean nighty over her sweet head, and led her back to her chair in the living room. Fresh and clean.

"Ma-Maw, it's time to trim your hair," I said as I combed her beautiful tangles. The first time I had ever cut her hair. Little did I know, it would be the last.

Every now and then, she'd utter, "That's good enough." Her patience was growing thin.

As I dried her hair, I couldn't wait to curl it, to mask the uneven layers by my imperfect hands.

"Ma-Maw, this is the last curl. Let me just spray it with hair spray, and we'll be done." In her weak condition, this was a traumatic experience for her. 

"There. All done, Ma-Maw." I smiled, relief seeping from my weary soul.

"I want to see it." She stood to her sweet feet like a spring chicken and walked with renewed energy down the hallway and into the bathroom. She looked into the mirror and smiled. "Thank you, Baby. That's real pretty. I appreciate you for doing that."

I couldn't refrain the giggles dispensing from my heart and lips ... her attitude had completely changed. It was the best idea she'd ever had.

When I look in the mirror, what will I see? Lord God Almighty, when you are done with me ... what will I see? Will I be pretty, like you? With all the bad trimmed away, will I be a reflection of you?

When you snip away the attitude, the self-righteousness, the holier than thou, the stubbornness, the hatefulness, the bitterness, the grudges, the anger, the feelings of uselessness, unworthiness, the feelings that you'll never get it right, the worry, the fear, the impatience, the unloveliness ... all the frayed, scraggly dead ends that don't belong on your creationme.

Do you get frustrated at me? Do you giggle at me? Do you count it a privilege?

I do want to make you proud. You know I do.

Help me to work with you. Help me not to fight you all the way. Help me to get excited over change, no matter how traumatic. And trust that you'll do what you say. For it's one of the best ideas you've ever had.

Help me to reflect the Light from above.


Is there something particular you need trimmed from your life? Right now, I need fear and worry trimmed ... that's what I can see at the moment. How may I pray for you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When you Long for a Margin on your Life's Paper

I don't go that way anymore. It scares me. It really scares me.

There are daily reports of horrid accidents. Mile long automobile back-ups due to tragic accidents. The fire truck pulled in that day to block the accident, and an elderly couple almost slammed into the fire truck. I saw it. Daily.

As I approach the walls, my chest tightens. My stomach tightens. My breath feels caught right up in the middle. It's probably one of my worst fears.

I had to go this way today.

As I enter, I tell myself, breathe. I tell myself, it's all for a good cause. I tell myself, you are going to get through this. The clearing is just up ahead.

I try not to focus on the wall.

Go slow and steady.

18-wheelers fly by me, in that tight space.

My arms tremble.

No one says a word.

When this road construction is finished, we'll have a new Walmart nearby and better highway access. All these walls will come down. Freedom. Life.

"Why do you hate the walls, Shelli?" I ask myself.

Well, O Soul, the walls are fixed. They don't budge or bend. They're too close. They trap me in. I feel squashed. I feel crammed. I feel fragile. I'm afraid I'll hit them. I'm afraid another will hit me.

I want space. I want space for error. I want a margin. A margin with no holes. I don't want to be hurt. I don't want to be the next one hurt. I don't want to feel pain. I don't want to die today.

O Soul, that sounds an awful lot like life. Wouldn't you agree?

We want a margin on our life's paper. One without holes.

But another friend has cancer. One is going through chemo. One just had a brain tumor removed and fears the fragments remaining will destroy her. One's son died in an auto accident on the way to Disney World. One hurts every time he eats. One's back pain is unbearable. One lives with daily unbearable dying pain and wonders when his last day will be.

And the path we take is often not our choice. We have to go that way ... today. The walls are fixed. And as we approach, our chests tighten, our stomachs tighten, our arms tremble, our breath catches.

We maintain our focus. We go slow and steady.

We cling to our Jesus marginthe beautiful spacious One with holes and only One to make us whole.

We are going to get through this.

The clearing is just up ahead.

Real freedom. Real life.

What frightens you? How do you press through the fear? Do you have a favorite Scripture of encouragement?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Embarassing Display

“Shelli, you have about a 50% chance of conception,” my doctor said, leaning over my hospital bed. I can’t begin to relay the pain I felt or the tears I cried. For you see, having a family had been my childhood dream.


I'm blessed to be guest posting over at my good friend, Jeanne Takenaka's blog this week. Please join me over there for more of the story.

Blessed by you,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Receiving your Child's Love can be as Simple as Making Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm not a great cook. My husband might whisper that to you behind closed doors. But there are a few things I make really well, like homemade potato rolls, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy.

However, I love to bake. Baking doesn't get an eye-roll from me, it gets a smile. I can make an apple pie with a homemade crust, I tell you. And I love to make cookies because I love cookies, but there are just so many ingredients ... it's tedious, messy, and none of us really need the extra calories, so I don't make them often.

But imagine my surprise to see a recipe from writer Kathi Macias for peanut butter cookies requiring three, I repeat three, simple ingredients. I thought, no way ... too good to be true.

Some believe that receiving a child's love/a teen's love is too good to be true. It's too time consuming. Too many ingredients required. It's tedious, messy. Well, we can't be good at everything, but we can be just good enough in a few areas to make a batch of homemade love.

So, I put this recipe to the test.

The ingredients are—

1 Cup of Peanut ButterButter up your child. Say what's in your heart. My 17 year old daughter looked so sweet on Sunday, so beautiful. In my eyes. Not only on the outside but on the inside, too. She approached me when I was getting ready for church and asked to take a selfie with me. My heart swooned. After church, I said to her, "You are beautiful." With her chin lowered beneath a bashful grin, she said, "Thank you, Mama." She knew I meant it, and the compliment made her day. She might even remember that moment forever. I certainly will.

1 Cup of SugarGive your kids sugars (In Texas, "sugars" means "kisses"). Last night, my youngest daughter was resting beside me before bedtime. My mind flashed back to the moment after she had endured kidney cancer surgery. She had just been wheeled into her hospital room, only 13 months old, and the nurse placed her on her tummy. My first thought was if I had just had surgery, I wouldn't want to lie on my tummy, on my incision. My baby girl raised up on her knees and hands, crying. It's a moment I hate. She was scared and confused and in pain, I'm sure. We quickly had her placed on her back.

Returning to reality and unable to contain the tears, I looked at my 15 year old and kissed her forehead at least ten times and told her how grateful I was for her ... for her life. As I laid my head back down, a moment passed, and she kissed my cheek.

Katelyn 2001 enduring chemotherapy

1 EggBe the egg-xample. Spend time with them, and they'll spend time with you. After sharing my novel's plot with my oldest daughter and seeking ideas from her, she wants me to help plot her novel. 

And after years of singing songs together, my youngest shares listening to One Direction songs with me. She's taught me every word of the sweet songs. "Half a Heart" is my favorite. You should give it a listen. It's sweet.

Mix well. Roll into one-inch balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet, and make crisscross pattern with a fork.

My youngest daughter helped me. We both love these peanut butter cookies so much so that as soon as we run out, we make another batch.

Bake at 350 degrees for 9-1/2 minutes.

A perfect batch of homemade love.

Do you like to bake? Do you have a yummy simple recipe that you'd like to share? What advice do you have for garnering true love from your kids, family, and friends or showing love to them?