Friday, January 23, 2015

More of the Story--Keeping God's Appointments

"Girls loaded into van. All doors securely closed. Arriving at the nursing home and raring to go, we girls piled out of the van, hymnals in hand. Walking inside, we met 2 precious women at the dining table. 'May we sing for you?'

One eagerly smiled. The other voiced, 'I have a headache. No.' "

Please join me over at WMU's site for more of the story.

Blessed by you,
Shelli

Monday, January 19, 2015

Highlights

The Christmas I received my first Bible is very special. It was a Blue leather Bible, with my name engraved in goldShelli Ann Fomby.  My father presented it to me. I adored it. I still have it.



A good friend highlighted in her Bible, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I must have been seven or eight. I thought it looked pretty, so I began highlighting. Not special verses ... just verses. Any verse, just to add color. And I used pink, blue, orange, yellow highlighters. I wanted it to be pretty.

I'm not the quickest learner. After a while, I noticed that the highlighter had bled through my Bible's thin, satiny pages. The colors were too bright, too dark. The Scripture it had bled over to on the following page wasn't marked neatly. I had ruined my Bible.



I remember sitting in church by my friend.

"Turn to chapter so and so, verse so and so," the pastor would say.

I'd barely crack open my Bible, so afraid that someone would see how stu ... I won't use the "S" word. But I had been it. Covered with shame and embarrassment, I didn't want anyone to see.

*****

My church gave me a Bible when I accepted Christ. My mother made the sweet cover.



I came to love this Bible. It's funny looking at it now, because it has pictures of teenagers in it. They're all hippies. Bell bottoms. That'll date me. But this Bible was great because at the back, it contained a collection of directions. Spiritual directions.

"When you're feeling lonely, left out: Luke 6."

"When you've said something you shouldn't: James 3."

"When you're struggling to do right, and can't quite make it: Romans 7-8."

"When you want to find out what true love is: 1 Corinthians 13."

And I loved that new Bible because it covered my mistakes. No one could see my mistakes.

The new covered the old.

*****

Y'all, I made some costly mistakes as a teendefinitely not the highlight of my lifethat bled over into many other areas of my life. I felt so ugly. I thought I had ruined my life.

I don't go into detail, I'm a concealer, because I might possibly shatter if I did. But I have no doubt God will have me sharing it one day ... because I know Him and well, because He knows me. And well, because He knows we're at our best when we've been completely shattered, completely broken.

As I grew closer to God, I realized that I hadn't ruined my life. I also realized that I hadn't ruined my Bible. God's Word is still there. Jesus' words in red are still there. It's just different.

Areas of my life had simply been highlighted, turned more colorful, changed ... for the sole purpose of ministry. It's a testimony.


No, sin is not good. But God is. And He delivers Romans 8:28, just as He promises.

*****

The Bible I use today, why, it's nearly thirty years old.




When someone sits near me, I shamefully turn the Bible over to hide the front cover. My name wasn't engraved properly. And I don't want people to think I spell my name with a "y" instead of an "i." They'll think they've been spelling my name wrong, all along.

But that Bible is so torn up, y'all. Pages are worn. Maps falling out. And I wouldn't have it any other way. It's a testimony of the tearing of my life, the falling apart, the rebuilding, the begging, the clinging, the seeking, the tears, the laughter. All my Bibles boast it. It's not vanity, it's sentimentality.


How I ruined my life and my Bible led me to the highlight of my lifethis amazing journey with God. And He bleeds over into every area of life, making me new.


And I have to askhow on earth could I have it any other way?


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rolo Challenge


"Did you get Rolos?" Asked He who will not be named.

"No."

"Why not?"

"Oh, I don't want the girls to eat junk. So I better be good."

From that day on, everywhere I looked, it seemed, there was a package of Rolos. 

In my toothpaste drawer.



In my nightstand drawer.



There on the window ledge, behind my choice book of the week.



After having already unraveled and inhaled at least two packages singlehandedly, I didn't quite long for a Rolo fix.

"Are you getting filled up on Rolos?" Asked He who will not be named.

"Yeah, a bit. I don't think I'll need anymore for a bit." I chuckled.

"Oh, man. I bought a whole case."
 
*****
 
A giving heart sees a need and ensures there is plenty. To fill the need up so full, the need no longer exists.
 
I had the honor of speaking to the most adorable, beautiful group of women this week. They were older than me and had been through much harder times than me. Being the youngest in the room, I'll admit, I didn't have much to give. What could I offer?

But I felt the Lord say to my heart—
 
You can offer encouragement.

And there birthed my first words to them. "I'm simply here to encourage you on this journey."
 
And from their precious comments ... loss of husband, a spouse dying of cancer, one dealing with surgery after surgery and pain ... I knew God placed me there for that very reason.
 
When we realize another's need, it's a wise one to unravel what we have and pass it along. Even if we don't have much. Share our hearts and lives with others—lessons, love, language, longings—whatever we've been given from God.

It's a challenge.
 
Will we unravel lessons, love, language, longings and allow them to roll over to a friend? To one in need?

And pass them along until the need is filled and overflowing?
 
Lessons, love, language, longings ...
 
Where will people find these treasures?
 
Quite possibly in you.
 
Jesus in you.

More of the Story ... Motivation Through Remembrance

"Not getting back into the swing of things after Christmas is mind-boggling. For those of us who are active or have active children involved in functions, we seemingly have no choice.

But we can choose our attitude."

*****

Please join me over at WMU for more of the story.

Blessed by you,
Shelli

Saturday, January 10, 2015

More of the Story - Relinquishing Your Rights

" 'Maybe we shouldn’t memorize so much lengthy Scripture this year,' I reluctantly suggested at the leader meeting."

*****

Please join me over at Woman's Missionary Union's blog for more of the story.

Blessed by you,
Shelli


Monday, January 5, 2015

Ready


The little lights were burning. Christmas Day had arrived, and even though my girls are teens now, we have a small birthday party for Jesus to start the morning. We want to ready our hearts for Him.

In simplicity, refrigerated Ding Dongs for cake, able to withstand the candle's heat.

Having gotten up extra early, I was ready. Hair done. Make-up on. A person who loves to take photos and make photo albums continually thinks of these things. Since the girls were small, they never belted out into the living room Christmas morning. No, I went to them, woke them up, got them ready ... for pictures.

That could be a Texas thing, a photographer's thing, an uptight person's thing, a problematic thing ... don't look too deeply into that thing.

But those photo albums have to be nice. Memories, you know! We must be ready.

Camera ready. Batteries charged.

Waiting. Everyone ready?

No. Waiting on Dad now. The girls are waiting on the stairs. The candles are burning lower and lower, refusing to wait.


I'm going to have to blow them out.

Out.

The end of Christmas always leaves me a little down and out. It always means my girls will be a year older in the following months. And you know I'm grateful for that, grateful for each blessed year with them. I had the risk of losing one, I know gratitude. But they are growing up. They aren't little anymore. Time doesn't wait. 

And you get that gut-wrenching, questioning feeling ... what will I do with myself? I don't even know my next steps, Lord.

And you shuffle through the piles, the paper, the options, the questions, the mess, the fire ...


And you beg God for your future direction. How to handle this game of Life?



And we best be ready.

On.

Because Jesus' light never goes out. In His faithfulness, He always delivers. For today.

That's a glory and a hallelujah!



~A thank you to Wendy Mac for her "little light" inspiration.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scarlet Reminders

As we take that thirty minute drive that begins on our bumpy county road and ends at the Lord's House, I investigate my dress boots.


I really need black shoe polish. Or do I?


That scuff mark, boot scar, brings back a painful memory, a fond memory, a hilarious memory. Yeah, a memory can comprise all those feelings. The bad can be good if we look through the right lens.

It all started the day I fell in McDonald's parking lot on the way to church ... Lottie Moon offering day, a year ago. We had just received a good ice storm, and more than wallets and pancakes were flipped that day. After landing on my stomach, 0 to 60, I arrived at church with a busted and bleeding chin, a cut knee, a bruised body, torn jeans, teary eyes.

"Did you inform the restaurant owners?" someone asked. 

"No, I love McDonald's." I smiled. "I don't blame them. It wasn't their fault." 

And every Sunday morning as we arrive there to eat pancakes before church, we all point to the place by the curb where I fell and proclaim, "And there ... there I fell." We smile. We laugh. The girls roll their eyes over our silliness. Relief overcomes. Gratefulness overcomes. 

My beloved, scarred jeans hang in the closet. They were my favorite pair.



I don't pull them out too much these days because I'm from that generation that doesn't purposely wear holes in their clothes ... and that's an issue hard to overcome.



It wasn't long after the fall that my appendix had to be removed (and three more minor organs due to the appendix infection). And regardless of what any doctor says, I'll always wonder if the two incidents were connected. If one caused the other. So when I see my boot and denim scars, not only do I remember the fall, but I remember the surgery scars, as well. They were so closely together.

And with those scars, I don't remember only the bad. I remember the healing. And why, when I was in that hospital, my big-as-a-grizzly-bear, soft-hearted-as-a-Teddy-bear uncle drove three hours to visit and bring me flowers. He still calls me "baby" and uses a voice with me like he's talking to a small child. Tender. Caring. He came all that way because he loved me.

*****

Another man came all that way because He loved me, too. Because He loved you. Not just any man. A God-man. Jesus. "For God so loved the world" began in Heaven and descended to a manger scene.

He hung "there" scarred in both hands and both feet. Damaged. Torn. His scars remain. No, they are not covered over. Jesus' scars are scarlet reminders forever covering our wrongs made right.

A mixture of feelings co-exist. Heart pain for His journey, but gratefulness for my journey. Why, there'd be no John 3:16 without Him.

Do you wonder how He feels about it? When He sees the scars, does He think of you and me? Would He take the fall for our fall again? Does He look, point to the spot, and say, "And there ... there I fell"? Does He look through His eternal lens and say, "It wasn't their fault. I don't blame them. Why, I love them"? And then smile.



Father, thank you for the manger scene. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for hope.

Happy Holy-Day!



Friday, December 12, 2014

Saved

How many times does God speak to our hearts, and we simply don't listen? We turn away. We ignore His nudging, the Spirit within's guidance.

How many times have bad things happened, our house ransacked, and we thought ... something told me not to do this or that ... I just had a feeling ... but I didn't listen.



Since we had our one sheep killed a few weeks ago, we've finally been allowing our two sheep out into the back area a little more now, only giving them access to it during the light of day.














We are still fearful. Seeing something you hold precious eaten away is a mental picture that never leaves. The tears still come. The pain still pierces. I should have ...

But even giving them access, our sheep, Sandy, and the newest necessity, Ginny, remain near the barn though because the baby sheep won't venture far from it. She's new here and still nervous. Though she is so loving and not fearful of human hands like our other sheep was as a baby. She actually lets me rub her chin, her tummy, and I can even pick her up without a squabble. She would let me kiss her forehead if I wanted, but of course, I wouldn't do that. Wink.

 

This morning, I went to let them out of the barn. The morning light was awake, but a little foggy covering lingered. I just felt like I shouldn't let them out. Fogginess ... eeriness. I just couldn't shake it. I made a decision to only let them go into the small pen off the barn that comes up near the house.


Couldn't quite put my finger on it. Just got a strange feeling. Came back inside.

As I sat down at the computer, my oldest daughter woke up and came to me very distraught. She said, "Mom, I had a bad dream. Don't let the sheep out today."

"I won't," I said. "Did you dream the sheep got killed?"

"I dreamed Ginny, the baby, got killed."

"I had a bad feeling this morning. I didn't let them out." My eyes widened like silver dollars, and I knew full well the Lord was speaking to me.

We hugged. Took a deep breath. Like we'd been saved within an inch of our lives.

This event was major. And I believe my eldest will always remember this. I told her, "You know ... maybe we were just paranoid. And maybe absolutely nothing would have come to harm them this morning. But because we heeded the warning, we'll never have to find out."

As of this moment, our sheep are safe and sound.



Oh, how thankful we are that Jesus came to this earth as the one and only God-man. Bitty baby. Born in a manger. Maybe a sheep even kissed and nibbled His precious, holy cheek.

He lived and died for us ... and left us with an incredible gift ... the Holy Spirit.

We haven't been abandoned. We've been saved. Within an inch of our lives. Yeah, you've been saved, Ol' Soul.

If we'll simply yield, listen, quiet ourselves, wait ... He'll guide.

We are privileged to hear that still small saving voice within.

Happy Holy-Day, Beloved Friends.



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More of the Story ...

" 'God had a radically different plan that would change our lives,' Lucy Tyler* shared.

The Tylers had a comfortable life in the States. But in 2011, God began speaking to them about those who have never heard the truth. The burden couldn’t be ignored."

*****

For more of the storyLucy's storyplease join me at WMU's Missions Mosaic website.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

More of the Story ...

" 'Mom shed tears every time I returned to Colombia,' Kay Brown shared. 'But I loved my job there. I could share every day with someone about Jesus’ great love for them.' "

*****

If you'd like to hear more of the storyKay's storyplease join me over at WMU's Missions Mosaic website ...







Thursday, November 27, 2014

Stocking Stuffer Tween Devotional Review and Giveaway

 
Congratulations to the winners ... Becky Bray and Karen Morris!!


The girls and I snuggled under the covers with their precious devotionals. Tiny fingers, tiny toes, little baby button nose. Not only was it a time to teach them about Jesus, their Savior, but I was blessed with lots of sugars and giggles.



Yes, my girls are teenagers now, but when they were small, we'd always read their children's devotionals together and talk about God, their friends, our family, about the goings on in their sweet worlds. Special heart-savoring memories.

And because of that special time together, learning about Jesus, my girls came to know Jesus as their Savior at a very early age.

So I'm thrilled to review a devotional book for a friend, Carol McAdams Moore. I've grown to know and love Carol over this last year. She loves God and is passionate about sharing Jesus' love with kids.

Carol has released two tween devotionals with Zonderkidz. 

***** [5 star rating]

These devos are intended for kids 8-12 but definitely the youngers [5-7] would enjoy if they can already read or with a parent's help.

One for boysDare U 2 Open This Book ...


Dare U 2 Open This Book



 And one for girlsJust Sayin' ...


 Just Sayin


And this is why Carol wrote them:

"I wanted to create devotionals that would encourage tweens to engage with God's Word and really think about what the Bible means to them. I pray the tweens who read them will discover that following Jesus is the best. idea. ever." Carol McAdams Moore

The devotionals are not real wordy like some. The devotionals my girls had when they were small had almost too much to read. If there is too much reading either done by the child or parent, I think the child tends to lose interest. ZZZZ. But these keep the writing/reading short, with one Scripture focus. If the child wants to read more, longer Scripture passages are referenced.


All 90 devotions are different and action packed. Some contain pictures to color, fill in the blanks, uniquely crafted drawing spaces for certain topics, questions asked to answer and think on ... basically, a chance to doodle and meditate on God. Kids love to color ... never seem to outgrow it ... and I think this is a sweet way to combine learning about God with one of their favorite activitiescoloring/drawing.

Just Sayin' for girls

Dare U 2 Open This Book for boys

And when the book is complete, a sweet keepsake will remain to store away for your child, filled with special memories regarding their walk with God ... and possibly their time with you, if you help them.

Giveaway Time!

Because these devos will make great stocking stuffers and because freebies are awesome, Carol's publisher is giving away one boy's devotional and one girl's devotional (U.S. only). If you'd like to have one for your child, grandchild, a special kid in your life, please ...

leave a comment with your name and contact information [email] here on my blog or on my Facebook page, and specify if you would like the "boy" or the "girl" devotional. If you would like either/or, specify that, and I'll put your name into both categories for the drawing. But to share the love, you can only win in one category.

I will draw and notify two winnersone boy devo winner and one girl devo winneron December 3rd at noon, Central Standard Time, and immediately ship the books out in order for them to arrive before Christmas.  

I hope you enjoy this review/giveaway and may your Christmas be special as we celebrate Jesus' birth!

Shelli








Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Necessity

Destruction often comes in the middle of the night. While we are absent minded. While we sleep in peace.

Going out that next morning to feed the two sheep, one sheep is without the other. That is unusual. They are always together.

The one is distraught. She stands at the trail-head bleating.

Her heart bleeding.

We know she is signaling trouble. We walk down the trail she has led us to ... and we see the other baby lifeless on the ground. Devoured.

My heart and soul fall to the ground in pain. Heart pain. I feel myself collapse into the arms of God, through fear's temptation of what may lurk.

They had always remained in the barn throughout the night. It was necessity for safety, and it was pure God-Giving instinct. But our neighbors recently acquired a few animalsgoats, donkeyand walking out of safety's shelter had been tempting. They had no idea the danger that awaited.

We can only assume that a panther, or big cat, took her down [rumors of panther sightings]. There were no prints. The cat may have jumped down from a tree to attack, immediately dragging her into the leaves where we found her. And a few weeks ago, our neighbor's 50 lb. young goat totally disappeared without a trace. The predator had to be strong to jump their fence with a 50 lb. goat.

Sheep were not made to go it alone. They were made for God-Giving camaraderie. Sandy has been so needy, distraught, distressed, afraid. When I leave her to return to the house, she runs to the fencehopped over it onceruns back and forth looking for someone, anyone, bleats. Her heart is still bleeding. She absolutely can not go it alone. She misses her sister. We miss our Bindi girl, the black sheep of our family.










We seemed to be left with two choices: (1) find her a home with other sheep, or (2) get a new sheep, a new addition to our family. A new sister for her. And that's what we did.

Meet our newest necessity, Ginny [named after Ginny Weasley].



 
 
We weren't made to go solo. We weren't meant to go it alone in this world.
Karalee and Katelyn

Shelli (1 year old) and her sister (3 years old)
 
Freckles and Snowy
 
Hermione and Blue
We were made for God-Giving camaraderie. Sheer necessity. The Lord is our Shepherd, our shelter, our safety. Without Him, we are running to and fro, tossing to and fro, crying, mouths bleating, hearts bleeding ... and we are often oblivious. We need Him.

Only devastation awaits outside His safety, His protection. It only takes one foot out to feel the heat of the predator, the breath of death.

Jesus is our shawl of life, wrapping us securely with His love and intention, enabling us to walk out into this life wilderness with an enduring, withstanding heart comfort. No fear. Enabling us to see with eyes wide open amidst the flakes that graze our faces.

The Shepherd searches for us, longs for us, extends Himself to us. Will we enter His gatesHis God Giving, Spirit Giving, Savior Giving, Shelter Giving, Peace Giving, Trust Giving, Faith Giving, Love Giving, Word Giving, Life Giving gatesthis Thanks-Giving?

*****

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Slow

The teenage daughter is driving on the old two lane highway. It's a difficult road to maneuver for numerous reasons, but ...

(1) it's hard to pass when you get behind someone slow (2) it seems driven by impatient drivers. And (3) unfortunately, it's not the road less traveled.

When someone is turning left and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before turning, it never fails that impatient drivers will go around, passing on the right roadside. When they do this, their vehicle throws up dust, dirt, and rocks. And they pass rather rapidly because their impatience seems to be rushing them, holding a fire to them. Even pulling a trailer, they seem to think they are zipping by in a Mercedes.

This clearly seemed against the law. But after a little research, apparently, there is a Texas law "545.058. DRIVING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER"  that allows for this if one is passing on an "improved" shoulder and the person turning left is completely stopped or slowing. But it doesn't seem safe and the debris flies. [And at one part of the highway, there are five signs stating: "No passing on shoulder. $180 fine.]

Just yesterday, a large truck was in front of me as we were cruising along at 60. Apparently, a car in front of them stopped to turn. The truck's height and width made seeing ahead difficult. The large truck waited till the last minute to pass the car on the shoulder at full speed. They didn't slow down at all. I was instantly facing a stopped car, flying debris, forcing me to either hit the brakes or take the shoulder.

Once, a car was turning left in front of me. They were not waiting on another car, they just simply slowed to turn. So I waited for them mere seconds, then proceeded after they turned. There was absolutely no need to pass. The car behind me, trying to pass us both on the right, began driving alongside me on that road. Me on the lane, them on the shoulder. Side by side. Dust and rock hitting my car from their impatience. Their determination to get ahead left me fearful to proceed until the dust settled.
 
And that'll make a Southern belle's blood pressure rise. That right there. Because the last thing I need is another crack in my windshield. And they put my girls and me in danger.

It made no sense. Why couldn't they have waited mere seconds?

Slowing down to wait on others is a matter of trust. Trust in God's protection.  Trust in His path and plan. Trust to learn something new. Trust to see something new.

 


On this old two lane highway of life which is definitely not the road less traveled, we are continually surrounded by the slow, the impatient. With the holidays quickly approaching, it's important to slow down. O Soul within, slow.

The lines will be busy. The pressure will arise to beat that person in line or to the next intersection.


But it's common knowledge that if we rush ahead, more than likely, dirt, dust, and rocks are being thrown back on the ones behind. On our beloveds. And more than likely, precious arms are being held up to prevent the blinding. O Soul within, take notice.

What will those few minutes cost? What will it cost loved ones?

What is God trying to reveal in the slow-down?

Once upon a time, I cost a loved one greatly. Oh, years and years ago, but precious arms remain held up from the needless dust and debris that continues to fly. Oh, how I'd give anything to turn back the clock. There is no turning back the clock. There is no turning back the clock on my youth or the haphazard danger.

Danger. Danger. Why? Because I didn't proceed with caution. I turned a blind eye to the warning sign. Without thinking, I plowed right over. God was not the center of my life, and as much as it hurts to say—oh, how it hurts to say—obviously, I didn't care. O Soul within, one plus one does make two.

And regardless of seemingly haphazard effort, the situation may never mend. Why? Because precious arms are still covering eyes, fearful of dust and rock remembered flying. It's safe now, but the realization will never comeheart rate still speeding, blood pressure still rising, anger still fumingbecause fear to uncover eyes persists. And rightly so.

Yeah. We each have been the wrecked and the reckless.

When those are stopped on this old two lane highway of life, slow.

Just slow. 

Observe caution signs. Trust that God has great reasoning for the slow-down. Remember and determine the driving force. Injuring others haphazardly will forever haunt. The injury to another soul and the one within—that quite possibly may last a lifetime—will never be worth it. Yeah, O Soul, it does hurt the one within.

 

The season of debris is difficult. If in that season of rocks flying ... don't take the hit singlehandedly, holding up the arm for protection. Lower the arm in a vulnerable spirit of forgiveness. When the rocks are flying, and they will fly, allow the Rock of Ages to cover, to protect. He is our shield. He is dependable and trustworthy. Every single time. O Soul within, lower the arm.


"Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” —Deuteronomy 3:22