Saturday, June 21, 2014

All for Love

Driving to church, on the way to Vacation Bible School, she saw something odd on that old county roadside. It wasn't a rabbit. It wasn't a squirrel--the usual sightings. Her mind scrolled like a computer through the assortment of possibilities, crossing off each one.

He said, "It's a kitten."

She said, "It was! Turn around!"

He whipped that car around, pulled over on the roadside, and hollered, "Hurry! A car's coming."

She and her two girls bolted out of that car, and three tiny kittens came crying to them, seeking help. Hands outstretched with love, those babies were picked up, one by one. Ensuring she wasn't leaving anyone behind or there wasn't a momma cat, she searched the nearby brush.

Out of the brush, a tiny black baby came crying. With outstretched hands, she caught hold of it.

Three boys and a girl

The black one is the strongest and most active.

The calico is the weakest, most needy.

And the gray ones are just right. They snuggle.

We have nourished and cleaned them. Thankfully, we've taken fleas off them and haven't taken fleas for them yet.

Loving and comforting them came so easily.

A tiny salsa bowl.

Shades vary. Strengths vary. Different, but they all have purpose. They are all beautiful. They have all taken our hearts. We have known them for mere days, and ...

our hearts are wrapped around their tiny paws with claws.

Unable to keep them, we'll begin looking for good homes. And already, tears flow at the mere mention of the parting.


Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt turning his back, in a sense, on John (the Baptist)? If He wept over the temporary death of Lazarus, how His God-man heart must have ripped over John. There John sat in prison, and Jesus could have rescued him, just as he could have saved Himself on that cross. But the plan. There was a greater plan.

God saw our desperate need, whipped around, and with outstretched arms, Jesus embraced the cross. And we'd be fools not to run to Him. John was definitely part of that plan.

To aid us on this journey, nourish and clean us up, God often brings a variety of folks into our lives with outstretched arms to--encourage, offer advice, give direction. Valuable ones come into our lives, by no mere coincidence, leave their mark, and sometimes exit--the plan.


Last week, I voiced a concern on a middle grade novel I'm working on. I often wonder if I'm wasting my time. Will it ever leave my computer desktop? Should it? God brought a dear friend into my life to relay this to me:

"Shouldn’t you trust us--the people who appreciate your skill and faith--to like what you do?

In team-building exercises, there’s the famous ‘falling backwards’ exercise, in which you trust the people you’re teamed with to catch you before you crack your head.

We’ll catch you, Shelli. We love you."

There is no way to express what those words meant. They are now forever etched on my heart. They brought courage.

There are those who bless our lives more than we could ever relay. We never know how long they'll grace our lives--here today, out tomorrow.

But we take the painful risk over and over again.

All for love.

Friday, June 13, 2014


They had just moved in, shelves still bare. But it was time to downsize further. Stuffed animals were the first to go. 

A celebration was called and invitations sent out for a final farewell. Everyone was summoned.

Upon receiving the news, stuffed animals arrived from every location.

All colors of the rainbow were accounted for. It was a beautiful gathering, for these animals had been down a very long road together. They had been there for two little girls to enjoy and love.

Purchased, given, won - each was special in its own way.

Some were stained, some torn, some worn, some slightly rejected. 

Once assembled, a tea party was the order of the day.

After the party, everyone gathered and said their final goodbyes. The parting was sweet sorrow.

Tears. "They are mine. We'll never see them again."

A few months later, while in the process of donating more items to a local donation store, those two little girls had a brilliant plan:

"Mom, we want to walk into the store and see what they have for sale."

"No," said Mom, heartbroken by their pleas and her own love for what was lost. "I know you will go find those stuffed animals and buy them back. You will save them. You will take back what is yours."

"Aw, Mom!" exclaimed disappointed faces.
Similarly, God did what it took to buy us back, to redeem us. He sent His Son to the cross to make a way for us.

We are that special to Him.

No matter what we have done, where we have been, the huge mess we think we have made -

some stained, some torn, some worn, some slightly rejected -

God will take back what the enemy tried to take from Him.
We never have to say good-bye. We never have to experience the sorrow of perishing, being eternally separated from Him.
He loves us that much.
We are His joy. We are His.

With a life given to Christ, the shelves never need be bare.

For when we pass through the threadbare waters of abandonment, fear, rejection, loss, and the like, He is there. 

In spite of the temptation to deem ourselves unworthy in our hearts and in our heads, we have been redeemed.
We have been purchased, given eternal life ... we have won! And our future celebration won't be for parting, but for eternal.

Together forever.

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mineWhen you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior ...."
- Isaiah 43:1-3

** The girls still have a closet full of stuffed animals.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


If you got your hands on June's issue of WMU's Missions Mosaic magazine, on the precious missionary couple in Malta, you might want to read this update on the family.

Robin Pinkston shares more of the octopus story ...!


She had come so far to see Him.
So much had changed in her life.
Though she knew He was aware,
she couldn't wait to sit down and share the details with Him -
the main.

But she found herself busy.
Busyness ... writing, visiting, working,
making and meeting appointments, volunteering.
She had her life to maintain.

Pony saddled, wagon loaded, and one last brush through its mane,
it occurred to her - she came all that way.
She hadn't really spent time with Him.
All that way ...
for what?
Why did she go?
What was her purpose?
Why didn't she show Him how special He was?
Why did she let the precious time slip away?
He was her Mainstay.

She had squandered her time.
That wasn't the plan.
What would remain?

It was time to pull up a chair.


Going down Main Street can be tough.
Dreams cut down.

Injuries occur.

What remains?


We can't go it alone
And we must be careful who we follow,
who we lend our valuable time.
God has a wonderful, meticulous plan for our lives.
We must remain in our Mainstay -
the main.
If we do, He makes this promise -
"I am the vine; you are the branches."

"If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5