Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The First Time I Fell in Love

It's me again.

I know you know it's me ... but it's nice to tell you anyway.

I was only about "this big" ... about "yay high" when I met you. Do you hear my squeaky voice when I say that? You do. I know you do.

What was I? Seven? Do you remember that? Yeah, you remember. The snaggletooth trust in my heart for you was immediate. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

I greatly admired you. And I thought you so handsome. Puppy love of the sweetest kind. You saw me at my worst, yet you still hung aroundfoam rollers in my hair ... that time I hit my sister in the nose with a softball .... Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

Then so much happened in my life. Well, my life just pretty much fell apart. I know you remember. My dad left home. He remarried. My mother remarried. I got all these step-siblingsfive from my dad's new wife, three from my mom's new husband. I wasn't quite sure where I fit in, where I belonged. We moved to another city, away from my dad. I had to say good-bye to my dearest childhood neighborhood friend. I left all my school and church friends. Loss abounded. My foundation seemed to buckle and fall like a house of cards. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

But I kept my eye on you. And you grew more handsome each day. Though slightly distant now, I continued to read about all the things you were doing and had done. I'd hear about you. I could still feel that kiss you placed on my cheek. And I wrote about you in my diary. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

But then, I took my eyes off you. I'm not sure why. The distance stretched by miles. Life got busy, hectic, boys. Problems fell on me, and I created my own. Yeah, you remember. I know you remember.

The years quickly passed and my mind and actions tossed to and fro in desperation like the windblown pages of a novel left abandoned in a field.

This main character felt lost. Who am I? Where am I going? How would I even get there? This main character seemed to have lost sight of her intended life's plot.

Where would I turn?

I delved into a Bible study. The Bible teacher quickly became my favorite. She set my heart in awe. I couldn't learn enough. But she did more than teach me. She knew you. She just happened to know you! I couldn't believe she knew you, too. She helped me remember you. I remembered. And she took my hand and placed it gently in yoursmy groom. My hero.

You took my hand because you thought me beautiful and clearly you believed there was hope for me ... me and you.

"But I've been so unfaithful to you. I'm so sorry," I said. "What? You don't remember?"

You reached out and dried my tears. You lifted my chin. And you became more than my very best friend.

You purchased the most beautiful white gown for me, and I immediately slipped it on. I was covered in white from my head to my toes. And my smile arose. My eyes glowed.

I didn't really need my Bible teacher the way I did.

Because I have you.

And now, youmy groomteach me. I've come so far, for you yourself have taught me. You set me in your presence daily.

Yeah, that was the first time I fell in love.

I had never fallen so hard or so far for anyone. And I never shall again.

From everlasting to everlasting, I love you.

God, I love you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made in Hawaii

Yeah, I remember that, O Soul within.

When I was in high school, our whole drill team went to Hawaii. I was part of that drill team. I enjoyed dancing, but my kicking lacked horribly. Splits launched right into my worst nightmares. There wasn't a limber bone in my body except for my double jointed toes. Why they let me on the team, I'll never know. I, Shelli Ann Fomby, was initially an "alternate" with grace bestowed. There ... I said it. O Soul within, why didn't you try horseback riding?

But nevertheless, this girl held airline tickets in her youthful hands, bound for Hawaii. The one and only. Excitement filled my every fiber because my grandmother had always talked about Hawaii. "I'm going to Hawaii before I die," she'd always say. The only problem with that was she'd never get on an airplane. But I went instead.

Money was tight in our family, so I left Texas with little spending money. I'd have to budget well. I was disciplined, as my mama always said ... I could handle this. O Soul within, you thought you knew so much.

For being so young, we girls clinched the free rein given to us on that island of Oahu. Definitely more freedom than I'd want to offer my teenagers today. And several friends and I found our way to market, where tourists could purchase souvenirs--T-shirts, hats ... pearls.

There before me was a tank full of mollusks. And you could pay to have the attendant crack open so many shells to see if you could find a pearl. Boy howdy, as my Pa-Paw would say--I paid to search for a pearl.

Well, I found a pearl. Imagine that. It was large and blue. And it hadn't cost me much. O Soul within, do you remember how beautiful you thought that pearl?

You can probably imagine the next question asked to me:

"Do you want to purchase a 10k gold ring for your pearl? We'll fix it right here. $149 or so. You can have it today. It will look so pretty on you."

You know right where I'm going with this, don't you?

Don't do it. Don't do it. "I'll take it!"

I spent all my extra spending money on that pearl ring. I missed the luau. I missed the surfing lessons. I missed everything because I spent my money. I went home with merely a pearl ring, a lei, and a second degree sunburn. I didn't use enough sunscreen. O Soul within, clearly, you needed your mother.

The sunburn caused me misery, and I missed all the fun memories with my friends--stuck at the hotel room--because I was low of money.

I'm on the right, and my dear friend is with me. Must be 1984. This was one event that was included with the trip ... thank goodness. It was affordable. Do you see my sunburn? I had blisters on my chest--painful. My face didn't get sunburned too badly because of my thick make-up, I'm sure.

I never liked that ring. It was a large pearl and towered over my little fingers. It felt gaudy. It boasted the bad choice I had made ... all the good memories that I had missed. My stupidity. It laughed in my face. O Soul within, how could you ...?

I still have that ring. It's tucked away in my jewelry box. And all these years later, my girls love to search through my jewelry box ... dig through all the old jewelry that I never wear. And guess what piece of jewelry they love the most?

You know right where I'm going with this, don't you?

They love that pearl ring.

And you know right where I'm going with this, don't you?

All those wrong choices made ... the gut-wrenching memories ... the ugly ... the loss ... the choices that cost us dearly. O Soul within, when you learn the hard way, you never forget ...

O Soul within, never forget.

When we love God, He turns our bad choices into pearls--pearls of greatest price. No alternate. The real deal--with grace bestowed. Glory!

Because He knows right where He's going with this.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." --Romans 8:28

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

"Mama, Netflix is down again!" my daughter--the lovely queen of the remote--exclaims. "Mama?"

"I heard you." Feel free to imagine any facial expression or tone of voice, as I'm sure I've displayed them all.

We recently added Netflix to our home entertainment. Almost every time the phone rang, Netflix would shut off ... right in the midst of your perfect movie ... right in the midst of Cedar Cove. Therefore, the internet would shut off, too.


What was wrong with our service? We had all the right filters.

"We need a new home phone," my husband said. In the meanwhile, he disconnected the house phone to cut down on the entertainment interruptions.

I have to admit, it was nice and quiet with the phone down--no Toll Free calling several times a day. I never miss Toll Free. Who exactly is Toll Free anyway? But many important people in my life couldn't reach me. They'd finally discover my cell phone number, only to say, "Can you hear me now?" Rural Texas forces me to find the one spot in the house that might maintain a decent connection and plant myself there throughout the duration of the phone call.

We purchased a new home phone and plugged it in, hoping that would correct the problem. The digital display on the brand new phone stated: "no line." What?

Our phone company sent a man out to check our line. He came to our front door to say that he had fixed the problem--there were two lines connecting our service, and one had been broken.

As soon as the repairman left our home, the phone began ringing off the wall. Toll Free. Sigh. But now, we have our important 9-1-1 connections, in case of emergency--rural Texas, remember. I can now talk to the important people in my life without dealing with the bad connections of my cell phone in rural Texas. And Netflix hasn't gone down ... yet. The queen of the remote claps her hands. 

Life is fine when the communication lines are in tact.

My grandmother possibly dealing with her party-line--complete distractions. And I'm in the fourth picture to the right of her--my two siblings and me, with me in the middle.  My dad is in the picture to the left of me, and my uncle beside him. This house burned, and I miss it so much. Do you see the far bar with bar stools behind it? I spent many a day pretending to drive with those bar stools. And that's where I ate most every meal visiting there, as a kid.


But, in your heart of hearts, have you ever just felt speechless? Wordless? Like your lines of communication are down? Or perhaps like they are barely hanging in there--frayed and receiving little connection ... hit or miss?

Yeah, I know that feeling. I've been somewhat under the weather--my excuse--but I always know when my heart feels that way, I need to check my communication lines with my heavenly Father. Because that quiet feeling is never nice.

O Soul, there are definitely two lines of communication--His and mine. And they cannot be broken when you spend time on Him. With Him.

"Why do they seem broken at times?" I invariably ask myself. And I sit down, feeling defeated, and evaluate--

Am I talking to Him enough? Am I starting my day with Him? Am I ending my day with Him? Am I meditating on His Word the way I should?

Life is not fine when the communication lines are broken or frayed.

My grandmother would get a switch after me if she knew I was posting her picture on the internet. But she'd only tap my leg gently with it as I ran from her ... and she'd laugh ... because she loved me. She was definitely one of the most influential people in my life, if not the most, because we kept our lines of communication open. Oh, I loved/love her.


O, heart of hearts, God can't be replaced. And nothing is toll free.

Shelli, a great price was paid for those communication lines. The wooden poles dug down deep to cross the gap for you and me.

Over and over--farther than the eye can see or the mind can conceive--it's only Jesus.

But, as in any relationship, it takes effort on my part. I know that deep in my heart of hearts.

Shelli, use them. Use those communication lines. Find that sweet spot and plant yourself there.
When I'm in constant communication with Him, He keeps ringing into my heart and mind with His love notes just to me, filling me with questions to ponder, words to say, words to write--to change my heart. "He sends from heaven and saves me," helping me filter out life's distractions and keeping me functioning properly. Helping me. Keeping me. Only He knows the way that I should take, and being the love of my life, He keeps me on His path for me.

He won't let me miss His important call.

He won't let me miss His calling on my life.

Thank you, Father.

*Do you ever need repair on your lines of communication? Any stories to share? You know I love to hear from you.

(And it's amazing how many words I got out for someone who is feeling a bit speechless. Amen?!)

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Ruined Everything ... Or Did I?

In the middle of the night, my youngest taps me lightly on the arm. "Mama, Karalee's sick." Oh, no. They won't be able to go to church camp. They wanted to go so badly. I never should have let her go into Wal-Mart. She must have picked up a germ. I've ruined everything.

I rush to the girls' bathroom to greet Karalee resting on the floor. "I've been sick once, Mom. I think I made myself sick." Yes, she has a nervous stomach like me.

She's feeling a bit better. No fever. I place her on a living room couch, opposite me, and I cover her and give her the pink bowl ... just in case. I start praying. Not only will the girls miss camp, but my husband and I will never make our two-day Disney vacation. We didn't purchase insurance. We'll lose everything. I've ruined everything.

We wake the next morning. My daughter feels so much better and had never became sick again.

"Mom, it was just my nerves. And Mom, I prayed, and I went through all the Bible stories that I know while trying to fall asleep, stopping and falling asleep at Jesus telling the little children to come to Him."

I didn't ruin everything.

We place the girls on the bus to Colorado.

We start packing for Disney. We board the plane to Florida. I've been fighting a headache with Excedrin for a few days. My face feels flushed the whole flight there, and I'm feeling like I can't get enough cool air.

Our first day in the park, I'm still fighting a headache with Excedrin--just trying to cope. It's hot out, but we manage fairly well, moving from one air conditioned attraction to another. At 5pm, a huge thunderstorm rolls in, and we make our way back to the resort. After supper, I stay in bed with my head booming through the thunderstorm.

I awake the next morning feeling slight head pain but feeling very weak. We eat breakfast, arrive at Epcot. I'm hiding my condition fairly well, hoping to overcome--not wanting to ruin everything. While waiting for the park to open amongst the thousands of surrounding feet, I start feeling like I'd better sit down ... on the ground. What choice did I have? Sit or fall. The park opens ... wobbly standing, I get my husband's attention--I tug at his arm ... "I can't ... I'm not feeling good ... I need to sit down again." My heart breaks as I watch all those feet pass me by, beating us to the rides. I've ruined everything.

Three precious women who work for Epcot surround me. "Are you okay?"

I tell them how I'm feeling. "You're dehydrated," they say. A wheelchair pulls up. "This little girl wants you to know she's praying for you. Isn't that sweet." I turn around to see a precious child and her mother standing there, with looks of concern, assuring me they are praying. I thank them. My heart is overwhelmed.

"God bless you," I say. We serve a good Father ... our amazing God. Thank you, Father. You never abandon me.

I'm wheeled to the bathroom ... the three women never leave my side. I walk into the bathroom ... and instantly have to lie down on the floor. My husband expresses his concern about me lying on the very public bathroom floor and its condition.

"If I stand, I'll hit the floor," I say. It seems clean. Who cares? Lord, let me survive.

"The bathroom floor was cleaned very good last night," the Epcot lady says. She takes my feet and elevates them. "The color is coming back into your face." One lady gets me a sugary drink. Another lady takes my husband out in the hallway and talks his head off, trying to distract him. But after an hour has passed, I'm still not able. "Do you need the nurse?" one lady asks.

"I need the nurse," I say in defeat.

Miserable at Epcot

At the nurses' station, the nurse feels with the combination of the heat and the effects of caffeinated Excedrin that I was quickly dehydrating. She says she will take my blood pressure. "It'll probably be very low," she says. "Dehydration causes low pressure." I nod in agreement. She takes it. "It's very high," she says with a look of dismay. "Since you are thin, and fairly young, and high blood pressure isn't your normal, I think you need to go to the hospital." Oh, I've ruined everything.

A young Nicolas Cage inserts my IV into my left arm throughout the bumpy ambulance ride. "You're using the best arm. My right arm is near impossible to use when I'm dehydrated. And you look just like Nicolas Cage." I couldn't resist.

"Everyone tells me that," he laughs. I try to laugh. I've ruined everything. "Don't worry. I'll get your IV on the first try." And thankfully, he painfully does.

The doctor greets me. "You're blood pressure is very high. No rides at the park for you. See your doctor immediately when you get home and be monitoring your blood pressure." I've ruined everything. I'm hydrated now, but I didn't even receive anything for my high blood pressure--the very reason I came to the ER. All afternoon in the ER, and no solution for my problem. I've ruined everything.

"My flight home is in the morning. Can I fly home?" I ask.

"Yes, you can fly home," the doctor says with a grin.

I arrive home, see my doctor, and she puts me on blood pressure medication. That's the second time in just a little over a year where I feel the Lord has used dehydration to alert me to a greater problem within my body ... a little over a year ago, dehydration sent me into the hospital where I discovered my appendix was about to rupture. If it weren't for dehydration, I would have been sent back home to face disaster. And now ... dehydration alerted me to high blood pressure. My top number's been up to 184, while my bottom number's been up to 106. Without dehydration, I would have been spinning wildly on Epcot's Mission Space ride--a ride that someone has no business on with high blood pressure.

The girls are due to arrive home from camp that afternoon, and I'm still fighting a terrible headache. I take another dose of Excedrin and find relief. I make it to that bus to greet and welcome home the girls. Thank you, Father.

"We had the best time, Mom." They chat all the way home, never ceasing. Karalee said, "Mom, they played the best song at worship. It made me cry. I felt so close to God."

"What's the song called?" I ask.

"Good, Good Father," she says.

I smile.

I didn't ruin everything.

**I've been on high blood pressure medication for a week now. It's up and down, no stability yet. I've continued to fight headaches. My doctor gave me a better medication for headaches that is working, and it doesn't contain caffeine (which works against high blood pressure). I'm refraining from caffeine. But things are improving. Lower pressure, fewer headaches. But I ask for your prayers. I want off this medication, if possible. And this is the first day in over a week that I've awaken without a headache--I'm praising our good, good Father for that.