Thursday, October 23, 2014


It was an extra early morning.

I actually got to hug my husband goodbye before he left for work. He leaves early-early for his drive into Dallas in order to avoid traffic on the way there and back home and have more time to spend with the family in the evenings. Going in early means coming home early.

As he walked out the door, he cautioned, "Don't let the closet scare you. Your clothes rack fell."

Oh, great, I think to myself. Really? What else can go wrong?

"Thanks for letting me know." I closed the garage door behind him.

As I walked into the closet, it boasted disaster. And four days later, my clothes still remained sprawled out on the floor. Still attached to hangers.

On his way home from work, my husband called to say that he had stopped at Lowe's to purchase items to repair the closet rack.

The evening went as usual. Dinner. Walks. Property Brothers. Good movie.

Near bedtime, I said, "We aren't going to fix the closet tonight, are we? I'm so tired." Please say no.

"Yes! It won't take long."

Trudging back to the bedroom closet, I noticed he was raring to go. Drill. Screws. He said, "This rack was held up by mere plastic and one screw. We'll go through and replace them all." You sure are enthusiastic. I'm not.

But upon investigation, I noticed that one shelf was the only one with plastic ... the rest were strong and stable, metal holders. I showed my husband. "How odd," I said.

The shelf was fixed. Metal holders. Three screws. My clothes won't fall now.

The clothes that I choose to return.

"I'm not putting these clothes on the rack just yet. By the looks of it, I've got some weeding out to do." I scolded myself.

Sometimes areas in our lives need weeding out. There are areas that need hanging up.

My grandmother hanging clothes on the line to dry reeled through my mind. If the weight was too heavy for the clothespin, the fabric would fall. She'd have to brush off the debris. Oh, how I wish I had a picture of her hanging out clothes. Priceless.

The breakdown in our lives often reveals that some area needs to be turned over to God for security and strength. Entirely.

We place too much weight on ourselves to find that we can't maintain enduring strength alone. We need help.

Sometimes we have to change the angle of our lens to realize that something is wrong. To see the truth. The color is different. This is too much.

When everything seems to fall apart and it seems we are continually brushing off our knees, the hope remains that we are still attached to the One.

It's really a quick fix. We don't even need an early start. And God already paid the price.

Oh yes, Jesus came down to offer repair.

When the fabric of our lives seems to fall apart, there is One who enables us to hang in there.

The One found hanging on a cross.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Things change.

Right in the midst of life.

How dare it?

Stretching the legs, I walked out to the property line to meet my neighbor, who was waiting there.

"Everything okay? What's wrong?" I ask.

"Have you seen the baby goat? It's been missing since this morning."

"No, we just got home from church." I pause. "Oh, no." My heart sank.

"There are huge claw marks on the fence-line. Panther, coyote ... something probably got it."

Stranger. I hope the girls and I will be safe out walking. It was only a baby, but it was a big, chunky baby.

"No trace?"

"No trace."

Yeah, it was "just a goat" ... but it was a sweet one. And we enjoyed his presence on our walks. He always met us at the fence. My heart hurt. My girls' hearts hurt. We felt uneasy knowing something was out there ... that strong, that dangerous.

It's hard to see clearly through pain.

I woke up this morning with a severe headache. Stumbling through the darkness, I fumbled my way into the kitchen to put a bite of sustenance on my stomach followed by Excedrin.

Crawling back under the warm covers, in the darkness, I thought about the pain. With no apparent choice, I grabbed my head. The simple compression, simple touch, seemed to relieve it through blurred vision. Tears pooled.

Pain ... makes you appreciate the times of ease. When every nerve is relaxed, when life feels good. When life doesn't throb.

But it also makes you realize how easily passing over to Jesus would be. Just to be pain-free. To grab the hand offering aid.

I lay there thinking about the Ebola scare. We are so near Dallas. We have several being watched in the county. Two schools are closed in our city because a nurse who aided the infected patient had kids that went to those schools. She informed the school, and now the school is taking precaution.

The evening prior while watching the news, I told my husband, "If I contracted that disease, I wouldn't last a week." Why, I barely survived the intestinal symptoms of appendicitis back in March. And three weeks after my surgery, I thought extreme intestinal distress from an apparent antibiotic reaction would surely kill me. I'd never been so weak. He agreed. He always tells me I need more meat on my bones.

My daughter smiled. "At least I know where I'll go when I die," she declared.

"You surely do." I returned the smile.

Change. Pain. We can't avoid it. But it's nothing new to God. Jesus is no stranger to pain. 

God is in control. If life were easy here, what would we have to look forward to? Why would we long for a heavenly home? Why would we long for the arms of Jesus?

God knows the enemy who claws the ground ... looking for us ... desiring to devour us. Why, He allowed it. He is in control. God in us gives us the power to be joyful, to see differentlythrough blurred visionto see in full color in the journey ... in the throbbing pain ... in the change ... in the midst.

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! —Revelation 5:12

Friday, October 10, 2014

Twitter and Pornography?

That's certainly not a one word title, is it?

Pornography. I can't believe I'm even using that word in a title. Pornography?

I may never live this one down.

I confess. I must be a hypocrite. I have a Twitter account. As a writer, I understand I need one. I need a social media presence.

And to this point, I've not had reason to fear or be cautious.

But recently, I had two new followers on Twitter. I always look at a new follower's page to see if this is someone I should respectfully reciprocate the follow. Is this another writer? Is this someone who follows God?

Pornography. Both Twitter pages were pornographic. Outright. No other description exists. The movie Fireproof scrolled through my mind. I refused to scroll ... I blocked them.

I suppose I'm just naïve enough to be the only person who didn't realize Twitter allowed that. And do they allow it? Was this something that simply fell through the cracks? Does Facebook allow this?

Obviously, there are no internet restrictions. I realized that the first time I googled "Whitehouse" and a graphic picture popped up coupled by my McAfee virus protection warning:

"Whoa! Are you sure you want to go there?"

No, I didn't want to go there.

And please know I don't mean to slander Twitter or anyone else. There is much good there. And I'm not comparing them to a spider. I do compare the enemy to a spider.

This is a dilemma that I'm not certain how to handle. I've always written to help others or pass on knowledge that I've learned, the easy or hard way. But this is one of those times where I need knowledge.

So I'm asking.

There is such a difference between seeking the bad and it seeking you. Pop-ups can be blocked on computers. But can you block those kind of followers on Twitter from ever following you? Is there protection available? Can you protect your eyes? Your heart?

I don't know.

But my first thought was ... children are on Twitter. What if these pornographic sites "follow" children ... and the kids look at their site, like I did?

And that may never happen to me again ... I may never get "followed" by something like that again ... but it did happen.

As a kid, I'd be so excited to go buy the next issue of Seventeen magazine. I'd run up to that store's magazine shelf to see a picture of Scott Baio or Shaun Cassidy or Andy Gibb ... and glance over, down the rack, to see the enemy glaring right at me. Magazines so distasteful there in full view ... being the tempter. Ready to ensnare. I'd look at the poor fellow standing there, and my young heart would sink for him. He'd clearly been entrapped. I'd get what I came for and get out of there. 

I wish I could say my childhood was without mistakes. Oh, a different set of mistakes. But I wish I had been a Pollyanna. Oh, I was so close. But my mistakes caused me to feel just enough discipline from my heavenly Father to know that I don't want to go down any outright, brazen disobedient road again.

Obedience is the path to take. But we must be on guard.

In this world, we can be following on the path so innocently ... only to discover ourselves entrapped in a web.

The enemy is intentional.

The enemy is there, in the dark, waiting for someone to devour.

God is there, in the light, waiting for someone to reward.

Guard your hearts.

Parents, guard your hearts.

Parents, guard your children's hearts.


Thursday, October 2, 2014


My eyes crafted a special uniqueness and painted an undying beauty regarding my grandmother from the moment I could stretch out my once tiny hands and arms to her. So naturally, and so naturally, her wedding band was equally special. Equally beautiful. It only made sense ... and with such ease. In my mind's eye, I still visualize her twisting her band with a nervous hand when she felt lost for words.

Was it her first marriage? No.

That little band represented much in this world today ... the imperfections. The imperfections in this world. The imperfections in our worlds. The imperfections that seek to slay. And oh, how they can slay. Just given the chance.

That silver band graced with diamonds was missing two stones.

One on this upper corner

And one on the opposite bottom corner

Was my grandmother happy about that? You be the judge. She had taken it to the jeweler on more than one occasion to replace the stones. The stones just wouldn't stay. And though perfection seeking, one by one, they would fall again and again.

Was it time for a new band?

Not on your life. She loved that band. She never took it off. Was she crazy in love with my Pa-Paw? Sometimes. Sometimes not. I remember her teasing to hit him over the head with a cast iron skillet. And he stopped smoking the day an ash set her dress on fire. Yeah, that story was repeated over and over. They always teased. They often got on each other's very last remaining nerve.

But my grandmother had experienced a very turbulent first marriage. Most of her stories died with her due to shame. After surviving that, I believe she just wanted stability. And I think she had discovered, as we all who have gone astray, the importance of obedience to God. And I don't mean to blast her first husband, who I have been led to believe was my biological grandfather, and whom I never met. In all fairness, I only heard her side. And he never came around to offer a second. I was okay with that, too. I had a Pa-Paw, and he didn't have to be flesh and blood. We belonged to each other because we loved each other. Plain and simple. We were there for each other. And yeah, his history before my grandmother died with him. I wish they hadn't been ashamed of their pasts. They had so much to teach me. And repentant hearts should never feel shame.

After my grandmother's passing, while her spirit went missing in soaring freedom and while her precious body was being prepared to be transferred to the funeral home, out in the hospital parking lot, my uncle made it clear that he wanted her wedding ring to be mine. Melted my exhausted heart.

"I'll take it," I said, my mind still reminiscing my hands touching her hair, her cheeks, her hands for the very last time. 

And since that time, I've been trying to determine what to do with the beautiful thing, the beautiful thing tucked away in my heart's closet.

Do I get it fitted to wear? Do I try once again to have the stones replaced?

The beautiful thing that reminds me of her. Of her beautiful life. Of her imperfect life. Of the things that were missing in her life. Of the things that went missing in her life. Of the things she just couldn't quite get right in her life. Of the things that sought to slay her life. And oh, I know they secretly slayed her.

And yeah, that ultimately lead us straight to Jesus, the repairer of the broken.

Because Jesus is the only one who makes us beautiful. He's the only one who perfects us. He's the only one we are missing in life. He's the only one we should never be without. He's the only one who can take our fallen lives and help us mend unashamed. He's the only one who can help us get this life right. He's the only one who can roll away the stones in this life that are sheer barriers to Him.

We can't replace the void—the empty holes—with children, with hopes deferred, with a new spouse, with a parent, with prescription medicines, or with a new jewel.

When every corner of our lives seems to fall apart, again and again, when the band tightening our world threatens to kill, when the temptation comes to just go missing ...

Jesus is the only Stone—the Cornerstone—who remains.

Dear Lord, let me live and die imitating her imperfect faith. Can I? May I? The faith that trickled down to me. Down to my girls. Let it continue to trickle. And may the course of action, the missing pieces, continue to perfect to resemble you more.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dayspring's (in)courage! - The Precious Hem


“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5, NIV

While luggage was being toted from outside to inside the hotel, Momma and Daddy were trying hard to hold it together, trying not to unravel. And how does one keep from falling apart when their youngest, only thirteen months old, had been diagnosed with kidney cancer?

“May I walk upstairs?” asked Little Bit, the oldest, nearly three.

“Yes, but please be careful.”


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

The story weaves in and out a bit ... so hang on!

Blessings, Shelli


Friday, September 19, 2014


Bracing for good ol' braces, both girls get x-rays taken. Facial skeletons revealed. One daughter's chin appears thin and pointy. We laugh. Yeah, we never knew that little skeleton was in her closet. One daughter can't quite seem to master the x-ray technique. We laugh more. Molds are made, and their eyes bulge from the daunting task. I cover my face with my new financial payment plan. Lord, please don't let me laugh out loud. Don't let me make them laugh. Don't let me be the cause of them moving and messing up yet another x-ray. 

After arriving home, one daughter says, "Mom, he really wants me to go to Homecoming with him." She smiles. You really like him, don't you?

"Sure, sweetie, you can go." He's a sweet boy. He loves Jesus. He's been a good friend. I trust him with a valuable possession.

She smiles. She's so thrilled.

"What do we need to buy?" I ask.

"He says I'll need a dress." She beams.

I walk upstairs and rummage through her closet. Just as suspected. We need something new.

With homeschooling, I've been out of the typical school scene for quite some time. I begin my Google search for: "Homecoming Dresses" ... I ask a few friends.

As I pick my chin up off the floor, I wonder, will my daughter even be able to attend?

This Homecoming Queen did not realize what Homecoming had turned into ... until now. Something has gone awry ...

Things change. I'm not as young as I used to be.

And yeah, I'm probably more protective than most. Want a reason? Yeah, this girl has a few pointy heart-stabbing skeletons in her closet. But sadly, I know every one of them. They are uncovered in my heart, covering me in shame.

Friend to friend, I would never want you to know. Details are gut-wrenching to my heart. Who was I?

It all begins with ... what are we willing to compromise? Do we know God's requirements? Do we care? Do we know where God stands? Do we make His stand our stand?

The dresses girls are being requested to wear this Homecoming 2014? Baring nearly all or barely covering all.

Modest dresses are few and far between. The bare bones, barely covering all, will cost some $100-$400 today.

But my girl ... we found her dress. Yeah, first store, first and only one tried on.

God with us. He is Emmanuel.

The dress is elegant ... classic ... it's not revealing ... the length comes down nearly to her knees ... it swooshes like a bell ... she won't be top-tugging all evening. Yeah, I've seen that with other girls.


We found the sweetest sparkly, diamond type shoes with a small heel. More than $50.

And we found the cutest elegant, black thigh-length shorts to wear underneath so she can rock it, should she so choose, without rocking others. Without shattering her reputation. Without shattering God's.


I've talked to my daughter, God's daughter, about dressing modest. Our way of life all these years. And friend to friend, I am doing my best to pass down the hard lessons I have learned to my girls. Lord, don't let the mistakes, the lessons learnedthe awful skeletons in my closetbe in vain. And thank you for letting me be your daughter.

Because she loves children, I remind her that every young man is some mother's baby. If you had a baby son, daughter ... dress like you would want a young woman to dress for your son, your treasured possession. She gets that.

Coming out into the world doesn't mean we have to compromise or blend with the world. God says you don't have to follow. Yeah, it's a daunting task. But daughter, we need more leaders in our world.

Young daughter, do you know that you possess something sacred? Something sacred that only awaits your future husband.

Young daughter, you don't want skeletons in your closet. Trust me. You don't want to have to search for peace or wait to see how God will work all things together for good. When all purity has been stripped away, you don't want to have to witness God fashion skin over the bony skeleton. But thank you, God, for fashioning skin over me.

You don't want years of tears. Trust me.

Obey Him. The One True God. Master that x-ray technique by spending time with the Master. When you cover your heart and head with the plans He has laid out for you, young daughter. When you care more about Him than you do for others, or what you wear, or what others see.

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.
If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces"
(Matthew 7:6).

No matter how far we've strayed or how many skeletons we have in our closet, God pleads, "Come home." Come home to Him. Dress for Him. Be God's Daughter. If we dress for Him, we won't have to wonder if we're appropriate. We won't be covered in shame. We won't take part in creating skeletons or more skeletons in our closets.

Our lives can be open books.

Come Home, daughters. God's Home.

You are a valuable possession, God's Daughter. A diamond. A precious jewel. Something new. You can be made new.

Don't tarnish that.

Remember you are made and molded in the image of the One who made you. Things like that don't change over time.

You only get this one chance in life. Regardless of your age, young daughter, be intentional how you live it. I wish I had been intentional.

Come Home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


What do I know about cancer? Not much and a whole bunch. Yeah, my daughter had kidney cancer at only thirteen months old.

What do I know about mesothelioma? Not much and a whole bunch. Yeah.

I recently had a message on my blog, asking me to contact this particular family. My first thoughtoh, no, is this stranger trying to break into my computer system? Will my email be used for harm? Yeah, I thought that. People hurt people. It's hard to understand. It's hard not to have your guard up in a world where intentional computer virusesdiseasesgo down.

The family asked, "Will you share our story? It's a messy story ... a diseased story ... a mesothelioma story. And Mesothelioma Awareness Day is coming up ... September 26, 2014. Will you be our voice?"

I thought immediately about my dad. Coming back from Disney one year, I got a phone call sharing that he was in the hospital. He was critical. And he was. He has extreme damage to his lungs due to asbestos. Nothing was intentionally done to harm him, but he worked in a pipe factory all his life. He went to work there probably at the age of 19 ... and he retired there. He gave his life there. He gave his days there. I don't actually know the extent of his lung damage. You see, he didn't even tell us he had prostate cancer until he had completed his radiation therapy and was well on the way to recovery. He's a private man. Even to his girl. But his trouble breathing is obvious. And I know he's under doctor's care.

With all that in mind, I knew I had to share Heather Von St. James's story. I don't know her, but I know she has endured much. She was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in 2005 at only 36 years old, after her daughter's birth.

She's had a long road of surgery and chemotherapy. That's a long, tough road for anyone. For any child, for any adult. And she's a survivor.
And I am honored to help raise awareness in this month of September.
With 3,000 people being diagnosed yearly, mesothelioma is "an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen." It is caused by asbestos, whether you worked in it, or you contracted it from the substance being brought home by another (second hand exposure).
There is no cure. But the pain can be reduced and one's life prolonged. Early awareness, early diagnosis is critical, as in all cancers, all diseases.

Please be in prayer for Heather and her family.

And Heather, thank you for sharing your life and story with so many. Your voice outshines the rest.
And from one surviving family to another
God, please bless and keep them.


"Symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, chronic cough, effusions of the chest and abdomen, and the presence of blood in lung fluid."

"About 60% of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma experience lower back pain or side chest pain, and there are frequent reports of shortness of breath. Lower numbers of people may experience difficulty swallowing, or have a persistent cough, fever, weight loss or fatigue. Additional symptoms that some patients experience are muscle weakness, loss of sensory capability, coughing up blood, facial and arm swelling, and hoarseness" (

Monday, September 8, 2014


So yeah, what happens when your life feels like a muddle mess? I ask myself, lying on that table in the doctor's office.

Giving blood had not totally buckled my knees since my 20s. What happened?

I try to make sense of it all. My right arm hasn't been the same since after my surgery, when I became so dehydrated. I had cautioned the nurse to use my other arm. But she felt sure all would be fine. "The vein looks great," she said. She dug around a bit trying to get the vein to work before heading over to my left arm. I was the wrong person to dig.

My strength and arms began to feel a bit battered.

I couldn't stand up. My vision blurred, my hearing muffled. I scrambled for consciousness.

I'm escorted to a room across the hall to lie down.

So yeah, what happens when your life feels like a muddle mess?

I look across the room at my daughter sitting there with me.

I feel ridiculous. I'm looking straight into the eyes of a fourteen year old cancer survivor ... one who has to give her blood yearly to evaluate her body's progress, ensuring no signs of cancer ... one who smiles through it all. She really smiles. She giggles. She amazes me. I've never been that strong.

And I've been blessed to have had her sit on my lap through every single vial of blood drawn. That baby girl will never be too big or too old to sit on my lap. Yeah, that comment came from my grandmother.

The nurse walks in and gives me a sugar tablet. She places a cool cloth on my forehead. She fetches water. You know, I need ... a teaspoon of this, a teaspoon of that .... She marks in my chart that blood is never to be drawn from me unless I'm lying down. Bless her sweet heart.

My daughter waits patiently for my strength to return ... so we can leave. I, the pitiful mess I am, look her way ...

"I'm sorry," I say.

"It's okay, Mom," she replies. She smiles.

Seeing her endure cancer treatments throughout the years took my weakness and threw it into the waste basket. She made me stronger. Or so I thought. Lord, what has happened to me? Why am I so weak? Is this due to my recent health issues/surgery?

Yeah, what happens when life feels messy?

It wasn't always easy for her, you know. In those early days, we were never more thankful for bubbles and baby M&M's candies. And her favorite pink baby blanket named "Blanka." And prayer.

In those early days, there were tears. Being poked and prodded was scary to a tiny tot. And to me - for her and for me.

Being an eye witness - to the mess that crumbled our plans for her life, for her baby days - singed this heart.

Yeah, when life seems messy, it's tempting to wonder if there is purpose. God, what are you doing with me? What are you doing with my life? What are you doing with her life?

When the heat's turned up, we must trust that the Lord, who made the universe and sustains all things, is capable of sustaining us.

We must trust that there is a plan for change. The kind of change that turns us inside out ... that disrupts our lives ... that takes us to our knees ... that mixes us up ... that forms us ... that shapes us ... that makes us whole ... that makes us more like Jesus. Father, thank for not abandoning us to ourselves.

And if we stick with God, we'll see over time that we are better. We are stronger. Maybe not physically but spiritually. We've been refined. We can rise and walk. And we become something beautiful. We become something worth holding onto ... something worth keeping ... something worth displaying ... something to make God proud ... something He can use.

When our muddle mess becomes something worth keeping, it's only then that we have something worthy of ourselves to give away.

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3).

Thursday, August 28, 2014


And my soul cries, thank you, thank you, Father, for another beautiful year. I don't deserve it. Sometimes I wonder when my time to be called home will come. Is it today? Tomorrow? Will I live to be an old lady sitting on a front porch, rocking in a chair? Does that question ever cross your mind? It's bittersweet, isn't it? We'll miss so many but rejoin so many. Our heavenly birthday.
Going through a rather dry season in my life, I don't feel like I have much to offer. Not much to offer anyone.

Though so thankful for my healing thus far  thank you, Father my mother and I agreed that I've always been on the frail side. We look each other straight in the eye, nodding our heads. Strong in mind and determination, but weak in physical strength. I find it ridiculous to say that my surgery in March has crippled my strength to this day, and I'm scrambling to gain it back. Lord, let me gain it back.
And the person who called me every birthday is with Jesus. I'll always love you, Ma-Maw.
My girls spend the day before my birthday working hard. For me. Baking, blowing up balloons. They love me. They know me.

I am led by a precious hand, eyes shut tight, barely peeking not to stub a toe, into a room with streamers to view this

"Open your eyes, Momma ..."

My eyes go immediately to the work they've created, spent hours creating, and my heart smiles. Why, it's a book. It's a cake book. For me. They do know their momma. God, thank you for my girlsnot of my body but of all my heart. Oh, God, my heart aches with love for them. I pray I show it like I should.

I open cards from my dad and uncle with joyful expectation over reading the words. You see, they don't just pick any card. They spend time searching for that one perfect card that says that one perfect line. They are cancer survivors who rarely take life for granted. Thank you, God, for their love.

We agree to call my beautiful momma to see if she'll go to the zoo with us another cancer survivor who rarely takes life for granted. 

When it's tempting to keep celebrations just the four of us, I remember how short time is. Life is to be celebrated with those we love. And in spite of her foot's injured tendon, she comes along with us anyway, bearing gifts as always ... she gives her time, because she feels the same. Is our time today? Is it tomorrow?

Though I walk that zoo lagging behind all, I'm grateful to have my momma at my side. With her a little older and limping on a testy tendon, we keep in perfect step. Together. Her weakness and mine.

The zoo's misters refresh our weary selves from the heat. I'm way past caring about my appearance, and I bask in it. Wet my hair. Throw out my arms to greet it. My hubby reminds me it's not wet t-shirt day. I laugh. Yeah, me, right.

The mist fans remind me of my mother's daddy the box fan he had in the wall by his bed. It really was built into the wall. You could see clear outside when it wasn't turned on. Momma said when she was a little girl, after taking a shower, she'd go lie down on his bed ... soak in that huge fan. Relief. Relief from Texas style heat. I loved my momma's daddy, who was not a cancer survivor. I miss him.

I mention her mother.

"She died in her mid-fifties," Momma says.

"Too young," I say.

Rosie, second from left, holding her bitty baby. My momma's grandmother Rose first on left.

Her heart. Rough life she had ... bad health, one of her babies died. I was little when she died, only eight, but I remember her. Sweet memories. God, thank you for memories. Her passing is dated in my children's Bible. I dated it.

Momma can't mention her without tears welling up. She catches her broken breath. She misses her terribly. God, thank you for Momma.

And with the Texas day's heat up to 98 degrees, one little girl places ice cubes in her hat to keep herself cool. At only fourteen, she's another cancer survivor who rarely takes life for granted. She laughs. Her laughter is contagious.

We wet our faces in the bathroom with cool water and allow ourselves to drip dry. We push aside the temptation to complain. Because, well, it's my birthday, and well, that's a slippery slope. That's a definite floor that's slippery when wet.

And we just soak in the day, the time, the sun, the shade, the two baby elephants, each other ... all we can. Soak in the celebration, in the thoughtfulness of others, and watch to see ... how God will allow the giving back.

Because life really does get hectic and sometimes we need a shoulder. And sometimes we need to give it.

Celebrating is in the giving. For that's when we really receive.