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.







Friday, May 15, 2015

Forgiveness is like a Shoelace


Have you experienced the withholding of forgiveness?

When truly repentant, the lack of forgiveness is painful. It makes one feel like a human yo-yo ... loved one minute and hated the next.

I love you.

I hate you.

When we withhold forgiveness, we might look prettily flowered on the outside, but on the inside, we are an unraveling hazard.

Unlaced.

If we withhold forgiveness, we will flip-flop between love and hate. Without it, we are unable to walk in freedom, continually tripping and hurting ourselves and the ones we truly, deniably love.

Unnecessary tears.

Withholding forgiveness creates prison bars of tear tracks.

If we withhold forgiveness, we aren't securely fastened, and we'll forfeit walking in cleanness to drag ourselves and others through dirt and mud continuously and unnecessarily.

But if we give our grievances, our pains, our wrongs to God, He will lace them up and we'll be walking in freedom.
 
Forgiveness laces the good in our lives with the bad in our lives, allowing God to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
 
Do we trust Him?





Forgiveness is the sweetest bow we could place on the gift of freedoma gift worth keepingto offer others and ourselves.
























Wednesday, May 6, 2015

You Get What You Get


When I was a little girl, I wanted a horse more than anything. But because we didn't live in the country, owning a horse just wasn't a possibility. My grandmother who lived two hours away had a horse, Charlie Horse, and I think to ease my heart, she'd tell me that the horse was mine.

But I didn't let that stop me from riding. No. I took advantage of the opportunities surrounding me ... and my ride turned into a gallop around the entire yard. 

Barefoot.

Completely content. Joyous. Unashamed.



A good friend always told her boys, "You get what you get." That meant ... you'll eat your supper. You'll wear that shirt. You'll play that game. You get what you get.

That so applies to life. We don't always get what we want, do we?

What do you want?

What do I want? What are my heart's desires?

Peace, love, purpose, life.

~And a wealth of adjectives, behind and before, to accompany every one of those nouns, some that only God knows.

Sometimes, we just ... get what we get. It's up to us to evaluate the surrounding opportunities and decide what we'll pass on to our children, family, friends. In this short time we have. 

Our sweet baby at 18 months, after six months of chemotherapy ... her hair finally coming in. And she can finally walk!


What are the surrounding opportunities?

A child's tiny hand to hold.
A baby's dress to fold.
A teenager turning bold.
A kid's self-esteem to mold.
A pup needing aid from cold.
A spouse to value as gold.
A story waiting to be told.

Take it and ride. Gallop around the yard. Gallop around the pasture.

Gallop with abandon.



Completely content. Joyous. Unashamed.

Barefoot.

Feel God's loving breath in your face.
Feel His hands hem you in behind ... and before.
Feel His hand laid upon you.

You get what you get.

Yeah, I'll take that.




~This song has blessed me all week long.
May it bless you,
beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Who Do You "Star" on Facebook?


Do you star people on Facebook?

I do.

I star my closest family, my dearest friends ... anyone I want to hear from. Those I absolutely don't want to miss a post from, an update from, a prayer request from.

Those in China, the Philippines, Malta, Brazil, Canada.

Obviously, we can't star everyone, but we definitely can those closest to us. Those of utmost importance to us.

If I "like" your posts often, you can assume that you are starred. You can assume that you are very special to me.



Recently, my hubs had been googling. Sometimes he'll search all our names to see what pops up.
 
He asked, "Do you know what the LPM Blog is?"

"Yes, that's Beth Moore's blog," I said.

"Did you know that Karalee won a book? So Long Insecurity, Teen Edition."

"No. I didn't."

"She won it in 2013."

I ran to the computer, and sure enough, there was the post announcing the winner's circle. And there was Karalee's name in bold, along with this statement:

"If the winners could email me as soon as you get a chance, I will get your book to you as fast as possible. Go ahead and send me your name and mailing address! We can’t wait for you to have this book in your hands!"



Well, obviously, I had entered my daughter into a contest, and because I didn't star the eventBeth's wordsI never claimed the prize for my daughter. I missed it. I had forgotten about it and never checked back to see if she had won. The one time I win, and I missed it. How disappointing!

However, I laughed myself silly, after we hi-fived. And I wondered ... is it too late to claim the prize? Uh, I think so.

(But knowing Beth, I think not)

But, you know me. Nothing happens in my life that I don't stop and wonder what God is trying to teach me.

God asked my heart, "Do you have me starred, Shelli Ann? Are you listening for my every update, my every post, my voice, my love, my love notes, my kisses on your cheeks, my arms around you, my fingertips wiping away your tears, my warnings, my guidance, my comfort? Shelli Ann, am I of utmost importance to you?"

Are you listening and watching for ...

The One who laid the earth's foundation, marked off its dimensions.
The One who gives orders to the morning.
The One who enters the storehouses for the snow.
The One who knows the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed.
The One who raises His voice to the clouds.
The One who brings forth the constellations in their seasons.
The One who hears the morning stars sing.
The One who makes the desolate wasteland sprout with grass, the father of rain, the father of dew drops.



And one special thing about our beautiful Maker, the lover of our souls, our Savior ... it's never too late to claim the prize.

For He is the prize.

For His Daughter, His SonHis Child.
 

He is the bright Morning Star.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Living Life Beyond the Simple Sentence

 
Hey, Friends!
I just want to encourage you today to
live life beyond the simple sentence.
Yes, when it's tempting to keep the structure simple,
follow God's lead and add a phrase.
 
So blessed by you,
Shelli
 
 
 
 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Come to the Table


Seven miles from Jerusalem, they walked along the road with Jesus, and they didn't even recognize Him (Luke 24).

Oh, we are so guilty. Are we not?

Yesterday, our 5th grade Sunday school lesson was over the Emmaus walk. It's such a sweet story. It'll tingle excitement through your every nerve.

As I sat there at that table, with a precious 5th grader next to me, reading through the Word, I asked myselfwhy? Not only the question of why did they not recognize Him as they walked along, but they were able to recognize Him at the table, as He broke the bread? But also ... why did Jesus do that? Why did He keep them from recognizing Him for a bit? What was His purpose?

Lord, why did you do this?

I thought of the difference of walking vs. sitting. Could this somehow be a clue?

Walking offers distractions. We look at our own path, our own feet, trying not to stumble through our own strengths, and we often neglect to look into the face of Jesus—the very one walking alongside us.



When we come to the table, it's personal. We are invited. We can see the person in front of usJesus. If we reach across the table, we can touch his nail scarred hands. If we lean back in our chair just a tad, we can see his precious nail scarred feet and touch them with our own.

We can touch and see. We can taste and see.

We dine with Him, and He with us.



And I was doubly baffled by Luke 24:41, "... they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement ...." What? Why would joy and amazement keep them from believing? This is all scratching my threadbare comprehension, while the 5th grader next to me is scratching her head over her word search.

The question was asked to the kiddos, "Why? Why do you think Jesus did this?"

God's omniscience and omnipotence instantly flooded my mind.

I raised both my hands in utter enthusiasm, like a child ... "I know! I know the answer!"

I knowI either scared those 5th graders half to death or inadvertently passed on contagious love of Jesus into the very marrow of their bones. I pray it was the latter. 

I was called on to answer by my fellow teacher ...

"I wrote this a while back in a response to a blog post, and the answer couldn't be more simpler than this," I said

Will He harden a heart?  Will He part the sea? To move His people where they need to be?

Oh, yes, He will. For He is ... I am.

He knows our hearts—He knows when they need hardening and when they need softening—and knows what it takes to ensure His Word is still being discussed today as we come to the table ... with the elderly, with the babies, with 5th graders, with Him.

Glory!

Father, help us recognize you. Open our minds. Bring us to the table.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

True Reflectors

My baby girl got her drivers license!

But the parallel parking strained to trip us up. We had been going to the Department of Public Safety every single day and practicing parallel parking on their poles. A good 30 minute drive from my home. And my girl ... she was parking so good. We'd drive right up to that pole, getting as close to it as possible, lining it up with the far end of the back seat door, and she nailed the parking every time.

But then ... someone moved the poles. What? The poles were our marker, our indicator. How could they be moved? Why would they be moved? They were still there but in a new position. I got a little upset. Because we were counting on those poles. Yeah, I had to eat a little crow. And I did so graciously.

But the lesson learned? We had to find an indicator that was immoveable. And we had to use the right side mirror. Using the immoveable indicator and using the mirror, there was no way to go wrong. She'd back up, using that mirror ... and I'd say, I think you can back up a bit more, but she'd say, "I don't want to risk it, Mom." She didn't want to risk hitting the curb and failing.



 
In life, we can't count on external, moveable factors to dictate our place in this world/life.

spouse
children
beauty
wealth
health

They can all be moved. They can all be lost.

God has shown me that I need to keep my eyes steadily on Him because He's immoveable, and He will always give me an accurate reflection.

We must count on God.

Setting our sites on anything else is a prescription for disappointment, failure.

Setting our sites on any other indicator is a risk we can't afford to take.

"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing ithe will be blessed in what he does." James 1:23-25

Monday, March 30, 2015

Plastic vs. Real and My Problem with Easter Eggs


Year after year, I hover disappointedly over the stovetop, grasping the silver handle and peering into my non-stick saucepan with bewilderment. What is my problem with Easter eggs? Why do they faithfully crack when I boil them? And why am I always shy of vinegar?

A few days ago, I asked my 15 year old daughter if she wants to color eggs again this year. Just for the fun. I was sort of hoping she'd say no, but with a beautiful smile, she said yes. For old times sake. I think I may have cringed a tiny bit in secret.

Because you wouldn't believe how often I resort to my Betty Crocker cookbook, on simply how to boil the perfect egg. And you wouldn't believe how many eggs I juggle, trying to manage a crate full of unbroken boiled eggs. All for an unbroken Easter egg hunt.

I suppose the water is too hot, and the cracks appear. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing wrong.

Sometimes I resort to plastic eggs. Mix in a little plastic with the real.


And when I finally give up, I realize that even a slightly cracked egg looks pretty with a little color. The fracture lines take on a darker shade, a different hue, giving beautiful diversity to the egg. And like a fingerprint or snowflake, it's different from all the rest. And add a little sticker to it, and you have something that can be used. Something worth keeping. Something that can be hidden and found.

** 

I used to be ashamed of the fractures in my life. I wanted to hide them, hide them from others. I wanted to appear perfect. Add a little plastic to the real, and maybe no one would notice.

But here's the beautiful deal ...

God uses the real. 
God refines us intentionally. What good are we if we remain the same? Those fractures are living proof of change and a great source of ministry. They make us unique like a fingerprint or snowflake.
 
The plastic is artificial. But the real is nourishment.

Do I wish I could erase some of those life's fractures? Oh, you bet I do. But choices are choices; and consequences are consequences; and circumstances are circumstances. But those are the very things God can take and make good. Because He promised He would.

The nail scarred hands and feet prove this

The broken uses the broken.

The fractured uses the fractured.

If we simply give up, come out of hiding, to be found. Remove the plastic. To be real. To be used.



Friday, March 27, 2015

Learning to Ride

It ain't like it used to be.

When my grandmother taught me to drive on her old country county roadthat old one lane asphalt road ... the road that if you met an oncoming car, as a courteous driver, you had to pull completely off the road to let others passwell, let's just say that automobiles were different then.

My grandmother had a Buick with a bench seat in front. Three people could ride up front. When she first began teaching me to drive, I sat in her lap. When I got old and tall enough to start really practicing and she sat me in the driver's seatwhen my feet could reach the pedalsshe sat right next to me, in the middle of the bench. She was the most patient teacher. Because if I made the least wrong move, her foot could be on that brake pedal in a flash.

Well, I've been helping teach my daughter to drive. There is a center console between us. My hands can reach the steering wheel, but let me assure you, if I need the brake, I'm dreadfully out of luck. My brake access is blocked by a console for drinks and change, of all things, and a little thing called an automatic gear shift. And when you have a beginner driver, that's a scary position to be in. I am totally helpless. And the threat of death feels too imminent. Though my baby girl's a good driver, I'll admit that I've done a heap of praying from that passenger seat.



And I've had to help teach her to parallel park. Yes, let the girl who failed parallel parking, in her first car without power steering, teach you. The best uncle in the world was gracious to step in to help advise. Even I can parallel park now. Glory hallelujah!




But some things never change.

Walking this life with the Lord in the driver's seat can be daunting. It'll bring you to pray. And as confusing as it might be for some to understand, it's the only way to make it safely to our destination. It's the only way to be accomplished.

When you wonder 

Lord, how can you take me there?
Lord, how can we get there?
Lord, why would you take me there?
Lord, when will we get there?
Lord, are you sure you don't need me to take over?
Lord, are you sure you don't need the brake?
Lord, are you sure you don't need to speed up?
Lord, what are you doing?

We lean back against the trusty car in our trusty jeans and trusty T-shirts and trusty tennis shoes, with folded arms, and try to direct. Because we think we know best. We think we know where we should be going, how we should be going, why we should be going, and exactly when.

And we press our imaginary brake over and over. We wish we could reach that gas pedal. And we impolitely reach for the wheel, because bottom line, we don't trust Him. And He says, "No. I know the way. Because I am the truth and the life, but I'll use your assistance."

It's interesting that we learn at an early age to drive well, but we also need to learn at an early age to ride well.

We must learn to sit back, pray, and enjoy the journey at His pace, at His direction. Roll down the window on this ride of life, breathe in the fresh spring air, and admire the blooming irises.


 Wendy Macdonald, I think of you.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When the Vase is Broken

Making a tent in the living room with my sister and our good friend caused a major disaster. We three elementary grade school girls took a bedding sheet and used everything possible within the movable boundaries of the living room to maintain our tent. The coffee tables and end tables came into play. We even used my mom's ceramic wash bowl. The weight would surely hold the sheet in place.

The tent was wondrous until it shifted, and the wash bowl shattered. In quick and fast recovery mode, we knew what had to be done. In spite of my sister's leg bleeding from the broken pottery, we took Elmer's glue and pieced the vase back together. Surely my mother would never notice. She would never notice the traces of transparent, coupled with traces of white, glue that had seeped and dried through the cracks of the olive green pottery.

Of course, she noticed.

**

When my girls were tiny, and they'd get injured, I'd scoop them up and immediately rush them outside. There was something about the fresh air that dried their tears. I'd kiss them. They'd see the dog, and we'd playfully run after the dog. Anything to make those baby girls laugh.

I would sit down on the porch swing with the injured one in my lap, and I'd sing over her.

No more tears. A smile had emerged.

**

We just celebrated my daughter's 15th birthday.



Looking back in remembrance, our lives are like one broken vase all pieced back together. After experiencing the pains of infertility, the uncertainties of adoption, the frightening experience of our baby girl being diagnosed with a kidney tumor at only 13 months old ... we are the broken vase.

The Lord picked this broken child up, rocked me, and sang over me. The Lord—the one who rules brokenness—was the glue that pieced me and continues to piece me and the continually falling pieces back together.



If you've been broken and pieced back together, it's noticeable. The scars show through certain shirts, through certain night clothes, through certain bathing suits ...

The temptation settles in to hide in shame.

And we remind ourselves that those scars prove the miracle that we are. We were near death, and God mended our lives.

Others will notice. Others need to notice. Don't hide the scars. Smile. Because others are broken, too.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." —Zephaniah 3:17

What have you experienced? Abandonment, pain, fear? The scars prove the miracle that you are.