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


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!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014


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, I noticed 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


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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I tighten her expander for the very last time. "You ready to get this enforcer ... enhancer ... expander off?" I chuckle through a grin.

"You finally got it right, Mom. After all these weeks, you finally said it right." She laughs with the tool still in her mouth.

For the last month, I've been teasing the precious thing about the horrible expander in her mouth. I never call it the right thing. Exterminator. Ex-anything. Whatever I can come up with on the spur of the moment. It's all part of her braces plan, but I feel like I'm torturing her each time I make an adjustment. It breaks my heart to adjust it.

And it actually broke part of her mouth ... in order to allow more space for her teeth. I don't understand it all, I just know it was like a wishing bone ... more force placed on it a little each day until it breaks. And when it broke, her face flushed, she could barely swallow, and her mouth went numb.

This morning ...

"Mom, what time is it?" She reads to pass the time.

"What time do we leave?"
"9:20." She's ready to go. She's ready to be relieved.
"Are you ready to go?" I ask.

"Are you ready to get that thing off?"
"Yes, Ma'am."

We arrive at the orthodontist. They take a good look at it.

"We are getting it off today, right?" I ask. So sure.


I sit stunned. "I'm sorry, Katelyn," I blurt out. "I told her it would come off today," I say to the technician.

"No, it needs to remain longer. If we took it off now, the teeth would revert back to their original locations, and all that movement, all that pain, would have been for nothing." She pauses. "Don't listen to Mom," she teases.

After the technician walks out, I look at my oldest daughter—"Why did I think we were getting it off today?"

"When they said it wouldn't need more adjusting, we just assumed ..." We assumed.

On the way home, I couldn't help but think how this applies to life. God allows that little strain, that little pain in our lives to mold and shape us. To press us. Until we break.
Until our faces flush, until we can barely swallow, until we feel numb.

It'll feel like torture.

We assume that life will go right back to normal. We'll get that expander off, and we'll go right back to normal. Come on, normal.
But if we went right back to normal, there would be no lasting change. We don't need that kind of normal.
And it's often a shocking realization to have a new normal.
We don't understand it all. We won't understand it all. But we must trust our Father. Trust that He knows best. How could we possibly know best?
We need change. Friend, we need change. O Soul within, you need change.
And everyone experiences it, in one way or another. We may assume others are pain-free, but they aren't. No one is exempt. If we don't have physical pain, we surely have heart pain. A broken, bleeding heart doesn't always show through a crisp, starched white shirt.

The pain reforms and reshapes ... until we break.


Because we need more room for growth. New growth.

Because we need to be formed and shaped like Jesus.

Because we won't love Him like we should, like we could, until we need His healing, His revealing, His concealing tenderness for the broken. Thank you, Father, that my broken heart is all your own.

Because we need to beautifully get it straight.

Because it's in the straightening that we ...

"enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise."—Psalm 100

Friday, October 31, 2014


Fragrances, colors, glances, foods, expressionsthe assortment of life's unexpected occurrences that jog our memories.

Jog my memory. Don't jog my memory. It can be bittersweet, can't it?

That's what I've been juggling in my mind all afternoon, since I picked up my daughter from her volunteer job. She greeted me at the car with a handful of candy from our church's trunk or treat.

As I looked at the candy, I said, "She always made sure I had plenty of tootsie rolls." The tears pooled and fell.

"You miss her, don't you, Momma?"


While I spend my days writing, she spends her days across the globe in language learning.

Memories are a precious thing. People are a precious thing. We don't always realize it until we can't reach them. Until we can no longer see them.

The ones who we can only see in thoughts and dreams.

Filter your pain through God's pane.

And grab the ones near and love them.

The ones that

don't put the toilet paper on correctly
mess up too many dishes
track in leaves all over the clean floor
leave their belongings strewn about
don't do and say the things we wish they did
don't get the job done to satisfaction

Choose to love. Demand less. Expect less. Make memories.

Don't be too tired to play.

Don't say, "Another day."

Monday, October 27, 2014


This post is about me. I'm sorry! But the sweetest lady and writer friend, Cynthia Herron, tagged me last week to share 20 random things about myself. Bear with me!
And by the way, Cynthia's list is fun and sweet, so I'm linking it here, "The 25 Tidbit Challenge."

1. How tall are you?

I'm 5'5" and praying I stay that way. After 46 years, I found out earlier this year that I have scoliosis ... slight curvature of the spine at the top and bottom.

2. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

Brace yourself.

Do you remember "Froggy" from The Little Rascals? I can talk just like him. It hurts my throat though.

This is so non-feminine, but I can burp any time I want to. You simply swallow air. And I can make that noise under my arm. I'll leave it at that. These talents were appreciated in my youth. Close friends requested my talented demonstrations!

(I don't like the word "burp" and am completely embarrassed that I wrote it here ... and when my daughters were little, I taught them to avoid that word and instead to say "I had 'air'" ... yes, I did.)

3. What is your biggest blog-related pet-peeve?

Spam comments

4. What is your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?

When people smack their food. It has bothered me since I was a kid. It gives me chills. I'm sorry!

5. What's your favorite song?

The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe ... but I love any song that makes me soar.

6. What's your favorite Etsy shop that isn't yours?

What is Esty?

7. What's your favorite way to spend free time when you're alone?

Reading, writing, and arithmetic ... just kidding!

But I do love to read, write, and watch Property Brothers on HGTV ... the girls are begging me to find a way to be on "the brother's" show. They really just miss our granite countertops! And well, they may have a slight crush on the brothers. :)

8. What's your favorite junk food?

Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream ... Blue Bell or Baskin Robbins ... I've loved it since I was a child. The first cone I ever got had mint chocolate chip ... I took the first lick, and my ice cream scoop fell on Baskin Robbins's floor right there in the Tyler, Texas, mall. They gave me a new scoop.

9. Do you have a pet or pet(s)? If so, what kind and what are their names?

Yes, I now have three cats and two sheep.

Sandy, the beige sheep, and Bindi, the black sheep of the family

Shelli with Sandy

Aslan with the two kittens we found back in the summer, Blue and Hermione.
For those of you who remember when we found them, they are really getting big, aren't they?!
And they are the sweetest things. Aslan still isn't crazy about them.
10. What is your #1 favorite fiction and non-fiction books?

This question is so unfair. Out of order, non-fiction has to go to Beth Moore ... she helped me fall in love with God. Any of her works make me love Him more.

Shelli and Karalee with Beth 2010 at Life Today taping

Beth hugging on Karalee and Katelyn ... one of the sweetest moments of my life.
I began her Bible studies before the girls were born ...
using them to help seek God's direction in my life.
Fiction? I loved Savannah by Eugenia Price. And believe it or not, Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With The Wind. I really don't have favorites though.

11. What is your favorite beauty product?

I clean my face with Cetaphil every night.

12. When were you last embarrassed?

A few weeks ago, at a high school football game, I accidentally walked into the men's restroom.

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Diet grape soda

14. What's your favorite movie?

Peter Pan (Disney version) ... I laugh so much through this movie. When Nana the dog waves ... hilarious. The girls and I often wave like that ... we know where "the wave" came from!

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

In high school, though I had many friends, I was a bit of a loner at times. My parents divorced right before middle school, and when my mother remarried, we had to move to another city. We moved from Tyler, Texas, to Terrell, Texas. So, I was trying to find my way in life. However, I was in the drill team, honor society, voted "Homecoming Queen," "Most Beautiful," and "Class Favorite."

I don't know how that happened. Only God can do something with seemingly nothing. I was truly a disaster on the inside. My family falling apart was tragic to my heart.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I love Texas. I can't imagine living anywhere else except in a little cottage with two mice at Disney World! But where my husband goes, I go; and where God leads, I hope to follow.

17. PC or Mac?

PC, but I have never used a Mac ... so I can't really say I have a preference.

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

When I was fishing ... the day after, my husband said that he loved watching me fish and was reminded of our early days. We have been married for nearly 28 years.

19. Favorite celebrity?

Mickey Mouse

Karalee and Katelyn with Mickey ... on Katelyn's Make-A-Wish trip.
Katelyn is our cancer survivor.
Oh, I like Johnny Depp, too.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

My blogger friends are becoming my very dearest friends. I've only met one in person.

Donna Pyle and me at Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Gathering 2010 ...
my hair and the humidity=lovely

However, I would like my best friends to blog, too. :)

Your turn! If you are up to it, tell me one random thing about yourself!