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?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The First Time I Fell in Love

It's me again.

I know you know it's me ... but it's nice to tell you anyway.

I was only about "this big" ... about "yay high" when I met you. Do you hear my squeaky voice when I say that? You do. I know you do.

What was I? Seven? Do you remember that? Yeah, you remember. The snaggletooth trust in my heart for you was immediate. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

I greatly admired you. And I thought you so handsome. Puppy love of the sweetest kind. You saw me at my worst, yet you still hung aroundfoam rollers in my hair ... that time I hit my sister in the nose with a softball .... Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

Then so much happened in my life. Well, my life just pretty much fell apart. I know you remember. My dad left home. He remarried. My mother remarried. I got all these step-siblingsfive from my dad's new wife, three from my mom's new husband. I wasn't quite sure where I fit in, where I belonged. We moved to another city, away from my dad. I had to say good-bye to my dearest childhood neighborhood friend. I left all my school and church friends. Loss abounded. My foundation seemed to buckle and fall like a house of cards. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

But I kept my eye on you. And you grew more handsome each day. Though slightly distant now, I continued to read about all the things you were doing and had done. I'd hear about you. I could still feel that kiss you placed on my cheek. And I wrote about you in my diary. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

But then, I took my eyes off you. I'm not sure why. The distance stretched by miles. Life got busy, hectic, boys. Problems fell on me, and I created my own. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

The years quickly passed and my mind and actions tossed to and fro in desperation like the windblown pages of a novel left abandoned in a field.

This main character felt lost. Who am I? Where am I going? How would I even get there? This main character seemed to have lost sight of her intended life's plot.

Where would I turn?

I delved into a Bible study. The Bible teacher quickly became my favorite. She set my heart in awe. I couldn't learn enough. But she did more than teach me. She knew you. She just happened to know you! I couldn't believe she knew you, too. She helped me remember you. I remembered. And she took my hand and placed it gently in yoursmy groom. My hero.

You took my hand because you thought me beautiful and clearly you believed there was hope for me ... me and you.

"But I've been so unfaithful to you. I'm so sorry," I said. "What? You don't remember?"

You reached out and dried my tears. You lifted my chin. And you became more than my very best friend.

You purchased the most beautiful white gown for me, and I immediately slipped it on. I was covered in white from my head to my toes. And my smile arose. My eyes glowed.

I didn't really need my Bible teacher the way I did.

Because I have you.

And now, youmy groomteach me. I've come so far, for you yourself have taught me. You set me in your presence daily.

Yeah, that was the first time I fell in love.

I had never fallen so hard or so far for anyone. And I never shall again.

From everlasting to everlasting, I love you.

God, I love you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made in Hawaii

Yeah, I remember that, O Soul within.

When I was in high school, our whole drill team went to Hawaii. I was part of that drill team. I enjoyed dancing, but my kicking lacked horribly. Splits launched right into my worst nightmares. There wasn't a limber bone in my body except for my double jointed toes. Why they let me on the team, I'll never know. I, Shelli Ann Fomby, was initially an "alternate" with grace bestowed. There ... I said it. O Soul within, why didn't you try horseback riding?

But nevertheless, this girl held airline tickets in her youthful hands, bound for Hawaii. The one and only. Excitement filled my every fiber because my grandmother had always talked about Hawaii. "I'm going to Hawaii before I die," she'd always say. The only problem with that was she'd never get on an airplane. But I went instead.

Money was tight in our family, so I left Texas with little spending money. I'd have to budget well. I was disciplined, as my mama always said ... I could handle this. O Soul within, you thought you knew so much.

For being so young, we girls clinched the free rein given to us on that island of Oahu. Definitely more freedom than I'd want to offer my teenagers today. And several friends and I found our way to market, where tourists could purchase souvenirs--T-shirts, hats ... pearls.

There before me was a tank full of mollusks. And you could pay to have the attendant crack open so many shells to see if you could find a pearl. Boy howdy, as my Pa-Paw would say--I paid to search for a pearl.

Well, I found a pearl. Imagine that. It was large and blue. And it hadn't cost me much. O Soul within, do you remember how beautiful you thought that pearl?

You can probably imagine the next question asked to me:

"Do you want to purchase a 10k gold ring for your pearl? We'll fix it right here. $149 or so. You can have it today. It will look so pretty on you."

You know right where I'm going with this, don't you?

Don't do it. Don't do it. "I'll take it!"

I spent all my extra spending money on that pearl ring. I missed the luau. I missed the surfing lessons. I missed everything because I spent my money. I went home with merely a pearl ring, a lei, and a second degree sunburn. I didn't use enough sunscreen. O Soul within, clearly, you needed your mother.

The sunburn caused me misery, and I missed all the fun memories with my friends--stuck at the hotel room--because I was low of money.

I'm on the right, and my dear friend is with me. Must be 1984. This was one event that was included with the trip ... thank goodness. It was affordable. Do you see my sunburn? I had blisters on my chest--painful. My face didn't get sunburned too badly because of my thick make-up, I'm sure.

I never liked that ring. It was a large pearl and towered over my little fingers. It felt gaudy. It boasted the bad choice I had made ... all the good memories that I had missed. My stupidity. It laughed in my face. O Soul within, how could you ...?

I still have that ring. It's tucked away in my jewelry box. And all these years later, my girls love to search through my jewelry box ... dig through all the old jewelry that I never wear. And guess what piece of jewelry they love the most?

You know right where I'm going with this, don't you?

They love that pearl ring.

And you know right where I'm going with this, don't you?

All those wrong choices made ... the gut-wrenching memories ... the ugly ... the loss ... the choices that cost us dearly. O Soul within, when you learn the hard way, you never forget ...

O Soul within, never forget.

When we love God, He turns our bad choices into pearls--pearls of greatest price. No alternate. The real deal--with grace bestowed. Glory!

Because He knows right where He's going with this.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." --Romans 8:28

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

"Mama, Netflix is down again!" my daughter--the lovely queen of the remote--exclaims. "Mama?"

"I heard you." Feel free to imagine any facial expression or tone of voice, as I'm sure I've displayed them all.

We recently added Netflix to our home entertainment. Almost every time the phone rang, Netflix would shut off ... right in the midst of your perfect movie ... right in the midst of Cedar Cove. Therefore, the internet would shut off, too.


What was wrong with our service? We had all the right filters.

"We need a new home phone," my husband said. In the meanwhile, he disconnected the house phone to cut down on the entertainment interruptions.

I have to admit, it was nice and quiet with the phone down--no Toll Free calling several times a day. I never miss Toll Free. Who exactly is Toll Free anyway? But many important people in my life couldn't reach me. They'd finally discover my cell phone number, only to say, "Can you hear me now?" Rural Texas forces me to find the one spot in the house that might maintain a decent connection and plant myself there throughout the duration of the phone call.

We purchased a new home phone and plugged it in, hoping that would correct the problem. The digital display on the brand new phone stated: "no line." What?

Our phone company sent a man out to check our line. He came to our front door to say that he had fixed the problem--there were two lines connecting our service, and one had been broken.

As soon as the repairman left our home, the phone began ringing off the wall. Toll Free. Sigh. But now, we have our important 9-1-1 connections, in case of emergency--rural Texas, remember. I can now talk to the important people in my life without dealing with the bad connections of my cell phone in rural Texas. And Netflix hasn't gone down ... yet. The queen of the remote claps her hands. 

Life is fine when the communication lines are in tact.

My grandmother possibly dealing with her party-line--complete distractions. And I'm in the fourth picture to the right of her--my two siblings and me, with me in the middle.  My dad is in the picture to the left of me, and my uncle beside him. This house burned, and I miss it so much. Do you see the far bar with bar stools behind it? I spent many a day pretending to drive with those bar stools. And that's where I ate most every meal visiting there, as a kid.


But, in your heart of hearts, have you ever just felt speechless? Wordless? Like your lines of communication are down? Or perhaps like they are barely hanging in there--frayed and receiving little connection ... hit or miss?

Yeah, I know that feeling. I've been somewhat under the weather--my excuse--but I always know when my heart feels that way, I need to check my communication lines with my heavenly Father. Because that quiet feeling is never nice.

O Soul, there are definitely two lines of communication--His and mine. And they cannot be broken when you spend time on Him. With Him.

"Why do they seem broken at times?" I invariably ask myself. And I sit down, feeling defeated, and evaluate--

Am I talking to Him enough? Am I starting my day with Him? Am I ending my day with Him? Am I meditating on His Word the way I should?

Life is not fine when the communication lines are broken or frayed.

My grandmother would get a switch after me if she knew I was posting her picture on the internet. But she'd only tap my leg gently with it as I ran from her ... and she'd laugh ... because she loved me. She was definitely one of the most influential people in my life, if not the most, because we kept our lines of communication open. Oh, I loved/love her.


O, heart of hearts, God can't be replaced. And nothing is toll free.

Shelli, a great price was paid for those communication lines. The wooden poles dug down deep to cross the gap for you and me.

Over and over--farther than the eye can see or the mind can conceive--it's only Jesus.

But, as in any relationship, it takes effort on my part. I know that deep in my heart of hearts.

Shelli, use them. Use those communication lines. Find that sweet spot and plant yourself there.
When I'm in constant communication with Him, He keeps ringing into my heart and mind with His love notes just to me, filling me with questions to ponder, words to say, words to write--to change my heart. "He sends from heaven and saves me," helping me filter out life's distractions and keeping me functioning properly. Helping me. Keeping me. Only He knows the way that I should take, and being the love of my life, He keeps me on His path for me.

He won't let me miss His important call.

He won't let me miss His calling on my life.

Thank you, Father.

*Do you ever need repair on your lines of communication? Any stories to share? You know I love to hear from you.

(And it's amazing how many words I got out for someone who is feeling a bit speechless. Amen?!)

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Ruined Everything ... Or Did I?

In the middle of the night, my youngest taps me lightly on the arm. "Mama, Karalee's sick." Oh, no. They won't be able to go to church camp. They wanted to go so badly. I never should have let her go into Wal-Mart. She must have picked up a germ. I've ruined everything.

I rush to the girls' bathroom to greet Karalee resting on the floor. "I've been sick once, Mom. I think I made myself sick." Yes, she has a nervous stomach like me.

She's feeling a bit better. No fever. I place her on a living room couch, opposite me, and I cover her and give her the pink bowl ... just in case. I start praying. Not only will the girls miss camp, but my husband and I will never make our two-day Disney vacation. We didn't purchase insurance. We'll lose everything. I've ruined everything.

We wake the next morning. My daughter feels so much better and had never became sick again.

"Mom, it was just my nerves. And Mom, I prayed, and I went through all the Bible stories that I know while trying to fall asleep, stopping and falling asleep at Jesus telling the little children to come to Him."

I didn't ruin everything.

We place the girls on the bus to Colorado.

We start packing for Disney. We board the plane to Florida. I've been fighting a headache with Excedrin for a few days. My face feels flushed the whole flight there, and I'm feeling like I can't get enough cool air.

Our first day in the park, I'm still fighting a headache with Excedrin--just trying to cope. It's hot out, but we manage fairly well, moving from one air conditioned attraction to another. At 5pm, a huge thunderstorm rolls in, and we make our way back to the resort. After supper, I stay in bed with my head booming through the thunderstorm.

I awake the next morning feeling slight head pain but feeling very weak. We eat breakfast, arrive at Epcot. I'm hiding my condition fairly well, hoping to overcome--not wanting to ruin everything. While waiting for the park to open amongst the thousands of surrounding feet, I start feeling like I'd better sit down ... on the ground. What choice did I have? Sit or fall. The park opens ... wobbly standing, I get my husband's attention--I tug at his arm ... "I can't ... I'm not feeling good ... I need to sit down again." My heart breaks as I watch all those feet pass me by, beating us to the rides. I've ruined everything.

Three precious women who work for Epcot surround me. "Are you okay?"

I tell them how I'm feeling. "You're dehydrated," they say. A wheelchair pulls up. "This little girl wants you to know she's praying for you. Isn't that sweet." I turn around to see a precious child and her mother standing there, with looks of concern, assuring me they are praying. I thank them. My heart is overwhelmed.

"God bless you," I say. We serve a good Father ... our amazing God. Thank you, Father. You never abandon me.

I'm wheeled to the bathroom ... the three women never leave my side. I walk into the bathroom ... and instantly have to lie down on the floor. My husband expresses his concern about me lying on the very public bathroom floor and its condition.

"If I stand, I'll hit the floor," I say. It seems clean. Who cares? Lord, let me survive.

"The bathroom floor was cleaned very good last night," the Epcot lady says. She takes my feet and elevates them. "The color is coming back into your face." One lady gets me a sugary drink. Another lady takes my husband out in the hallway and talks his head off, trying to distract him. But after an hour has passed, I'm still not able. "Do you need the nurse?" one lady asks.

"I need the nurse," I say in defeat.

Miserable at Epcot

At the nurses' station, the nurse feels with the combination of the heat and the effects of caffeinated Excedrin that I was quickly dehydrating. She says she will take my blood pressure. "It'll probably be very low," she says. "Dehydration causes low pressure." I nod in agreement. She takes it. "It's very high," she says with a look of dismay. "Since you are thin, and fairly young, and high blood pressure isn't your normal, I think you need to go to the hospital." Oh, I've ruined everything.

A young Nicolas Cage inserts my IV into my left arm throughout the bumpy ambulance ride. "You're using the best arm. My right arm is near impossible to use when I'm dehydrated. And you look just like Nicolas Cage." I couldn't resist.

"Everyone tells me that," he laughs. I try to laugh. I've ruined everything. "Don't worry. I'll get your IV on the first try." And thankfully, he painfully does.

The doctor greets me. "You're blood pressure is very high. No rides at the park for you. See your doctor immediately when you get home and be monitoring your blood pressure." I've ruined everything. I'm hydrated now, but I didn't even receive anything for my high blood pressure--the very reason I came to the ER. All afternoon in the ER, and no solution for my problem. I've ruined everything.

"My flight home is in the morning. Can I fly home?" I ask.

"Yes, you can fly home," the doctor says with a grin.

I arrive home, see my doctor, and she puts me on blood pressure medication. That's the second time in just a little over a year where I feel the Lord has used dehydration to alert me to a greater problem within my body ... a little over a year ago, dehydration sent me into the hospital where I discovered my appendix was about to rupture. If it weren't for dehydration, I would have been sent back home to face disaster. And now ... dehydration alerted me to high blood pressure. My top number's been up to 184, while my bottom number's been up to 106. Without dehydration, I would have been spinning wildly on Epcot's Mission Space ride--a ride that someone has no business on with high blood pressure.

The girls are due to arrive home from camp that afternoon, and I'm still fighting a terrible headache. I take another dose of Excedrin and find relief. I make it to that bus to greet and welcome home the girls. Thank you, Father.

"We had the best time, Mom." They chat all the way home, never ceasing. Karalee said, "Mom, they played the best song at worship. It made me cry. I felt so close to God."

"What's the song called?" I ask.

"Good, Good Father," she says.

I smile.

I didn't ruin everything.

**I've been on high blood pressure medication for a week now. It's up and down, no stability yet. I've continued to fight headaches. My doctor gave me a better medication for headaches that is working, and it doesn't contain caffeine (which works against high blood pressure). I'm refraining from caffeine. But things are improving. Lower pressure, fewer headaches. But I ask for your prayers. I want off this medication, if possible. And this is the first day in over a week that I've awaken without a headache--I'm praising our good, good Father for that.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why Do I Love You?

Have you ever wondered why you love? Why you love another?

I loved my grandmother dearly. But why?

She loved me first.
She spent time with me.
I belonged to her, and she claimed me. 
She told me bedtime stories.
She rubbed my feet till I fell asleep.
I always had an open invitation to her home. I knew it. She made sure I knew it.
I'd always be her baby, no matter how big I got. She told me so.
She wanted to know my favorite foods so she could make them for me.
She'd sacrifice for me without grudge (that last piece of cherry cheesecake).
She'd forgive me for anything.

Oh, as kids, my sister and I played to our hearts' content at my grandparents' country place outside of Atlanta, Texas. We played in the sand. There was a huge sand pile by her house. We'd spend hours there. Then, we'd wander barefoot down her sandy driveway and spend a few more hours, in the shade of the hovering pine trees that lined her drive. We'd write in the sand, draw, play games in it, build castles, cover our feet in it, dig our toes through it. It was so cool, even in extreme heat. We'd find broken rocks in the sand that looked like puzzles and we'd admire them, admire how they fit together, and we'd  piece them back together. My grandmother watched us from her kitchen window as she did the dishes and worked.

My girls playing in the sand at my grandmother's home.

My grandmother would let us sit in her wheelbarrow, and she'd push us around the yard, while we giggled ourselves silly.

She kept us in the latest fashions. Luv-It Jeans and Yo-Yo shoes. She sewed for us, too.

She was the first one all the grandkids ran to with news of any kind. If something special happened or something bad happened, she was the first we wanted to tell. Because she cared.

She'd defend her loved ones in a heartbeat. She'd fight for you.

I could go on and on ...

But bottom line, my grandmother, Leola, extended a gift of love ... lid wide open ... one that was continually replenished, continually full, continually new ... and I reached out and took it.


Have you ever wondered why you love God? Why you should?

I can only tell you why I love Him.

He loved me first.
He spends time with me.
I belong to Him, and He claims me. I'm His.
He tells me stories.
He comforts me.
I always have an open invitation.
I'll always be His baby.
He knows me.
He provides for me.
He sacrificed for me.
He's the first one I run to when important things happen.
He cares.
He pieced me together.
He'll forgive me for anything.

But the dearest reason I love Him is because ... He'll defend me in a heartbeat. He'll fight for me.

He wrote in the sand for me.


Bottom line, He extended a gift of love, wrapped in deity gold ... lid wide open ... one that is continually replenished, continually full, continually new ... and I reached out and took it.

Father, I want your qualities. Let me be a person who loves like you and worth loving in return. Amen.