Thursday, September 25, 2014

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


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

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

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

“Yes, but please be careful.”


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

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

Blessings, Shelli


Friday, September 19, 2014


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

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

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

She smiles. She's so thrilled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God with us. He is Emmanuel.

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our lives can be open books.

Come Home, daughters. God's Home.

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

Don't tarnish that.

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

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

Come Home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please be in prayer for Heather and her family.

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


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

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

Monday, September 8, 2014


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

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

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

My strength and arms began to feel a bit battered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I'm sorry," I say.

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

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

Yeah, what happens when life feels messy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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