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,
Shelli

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.

Ugh.

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.

Gold.

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.




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Take the Bad with the Good!


It was the worst sunburn I ever had. I don't have a picture of it, and you can thank me for that. You see, I had on capris. I had my leg crossed over the other, sitting prim and proper on that bleacher for the air show. Uh-huh, Southern belle style. It was April. The weather was neither hot nor cold, and it was a little cloudy. All perfect conditions for a sunburn. And I never once thought my lower leg or foot would need something like sunscreen.

After returning home, my left leg, just above my ankle, was beet red, as well as my foot. It swelled up like a red balloon. There was no way I was going to the doctor for a sunburn. No degree of sunburn on my lower leg could drag me there. I used Aloe Vera on the sunburned area all night long ... because I woke up in a sweat every hour on the hour.

After days of swelling, I remembered I had medication for swelling from my broken tailbone. This was another injury phase of my life, I suppose. I took that medication, and the swelling went down immediately.

But through the pain of that sunburn, my smile never departed. And I'm going to tell you why.

First off, my baby girl is a cancer survivor. That is cause for pause and reason to smile. Glory hallelujah! Not only that ... that baby girl is adopted ... thought I'd never have a #2 baby. So I'm doubly blessed.

Secondly, she had received a Make-A-Wish for being a cancer survivor. It wasn't enough that we spent a whole week at Disney World and Universal Studios, her being treated like the princess that she is ... but ...

These amazing kids raised the funds for Katelyn's Make-A-Wish trip. What a sweet mission!





thirdly, we were invited to an air show with the Thunderbirds. Yes, you read that right. Our very own air show ... just for Make-A-Wish children. What a precious ministry for hurt children!



Now you know why I'm smiling about that sunburn.

As the pilots taxied the runway, they waved at the kids who were sitting on the bleachers.

Do you see him waving here? Precious.


And when they returned, one of the pilots gave our daughter the flag that he took in flight with him. Is that beautiful, or what?

Karalee holding the flag at this point. And Katelyn still had the sweet gap between her front teeth! And I'm taking the picture.
 
The bad with the good. The sunburn with the air show. The cancer with my beautiful daughter.

It's just part of earthly life, isn't it?

They link shoulder to shoulder, arm and arm, leg and leg. We live and we die. Go on and smile about the things deemed bad, the parts of life that scare us, that cause us to shudder, because it has to remind you of the good.

Were we prepared for cancer? No way. But God was with us in the flight. And with Him, we came through this side of heaven on more than a wing and a prayer.




























Thursday, June 4, 2015

What Am I Fishing For?

Katelyn was a sleeper, a napper. Place her in the baby bed, and like me, she was out like a light in 60 seconds. And with her being a cancer survivor, she needed that trait more than ever. She needed sleep and rest through the toughest of times.

Karalee wasn't. She stayed up late. Her crib was the best playground in the world, converting into monkey bars, balance beams, rock climbing, when mom stepped out of sight. Well, you get the picture. And naps? Have mercy.

On those nights that she struggled to fall asleep, when she'd advanced to a big girl bed, I'd snuggle beside her in bed and cast out the heavenly lure. For that was my most important job as a mother. I'd share about our Savior till she fell asleep. We'd talk about the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. We'd talk about the Holy Spirit's role in our lives. How God guides and instructs and cautions us through the Spirit, our amazing Counselor.

Well, one afternoon, after she'd grown older and had already accepted Christ as her Savior, I had sent her in to her bedroom to take a nap. The restful nap was more for Katelyn and me than her. In a matter of minutes, it seemed, she was back out the door.

"You didn't take a nap, did you?" I half accusingly asked.
 
"My Holy Spirit told me I did," she declared, with the nod of her sweet head.

I laughed so hard. What can you say to that?

I'd invested years, much time, baiting her precious heart for Christ that fishing her heart for a lie felt so wrong. After years of teaching her trust and truth, I had to ask myself, "What kind of fish are you aiming to fry?" Something stirred inside my heart. I'd say the Holy Spirit. I didn't fish for more. I didn't keep fishing to catch her in a lie, baiting a tall tale.

I chose to trust.

Radiance emitted from her precious eyes.

When times are tough, waters rough, we need to take it easy on ourselves and others. Choose to believe the best of others, begging God to transform our hearts into a 1 Corinthians 13 vessel of love.

And hang on to trust and love.




"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's Time to See

I held the prescription bottle at a distance. Oh, so frustrating. I could see this just yesterday.

I'm losing my nearsightedness. Or maybe it's the lighting. Those blasted energy-saving light bulbs.

Admitting defeat, I ask for help.

"Baby, is that a 5?"

"Yes, Mama, that's a 5."

It happens so gradually. We see the distance, but we lose sight of what's near. The things close to us slip away. Slowly slipping. And it's hard to admit it. It's hard to acknowledge those glasses are needed.

We get so busy doing ... just doing.

What do we lose sight of?

Our children.
Our family.
The love of our life.
Our first love.



The tiny critter hopping down the path.


The seashell on the shore.



And the question we need a crystal clear answer to is this:

Do we want to see?

If we are weary of blindness, there comes a time to admit. Time to put on the glasses. Time to see.

Really see.