God Uses The Broken Teacups


Company would be arriving soon.

I evaluated the dishes through the dirty glass. Evaluating my options, I saw the good, and I saw the broken. Through my distorted lens.


I opened the door and reached inside the cabinet.

My fingertip circled the the porcelain edges, settling and lodging into the chipped surface, and I thought not to use that piece. Another dish had been pieced and glued back together. No good.

Cracks and lines showing. Stained.

They weren’t good enough to use. They weren’t presentable. I’d been told that all my life. Someone could get injured. Someone would be embarrassed.

Use the good. Use the best. Act as though you’re serving the King.






















My heart sank low. What if God never used the broken? What if we embarrassed him? What if He kept the damaged hidden away? Because of the way that it looked or the way that it felt.

What if He had the mind of man? My heart sank lower.

I’ve felt it all my lifeI’m fake. I’m not whole, not good enough, not proper enough. I’m not deserving. I’m an embarrassment. 

To those who aren’t broken.

Don’t pick me. Don’t use me. Don’t raise your hand. Don’t share your faith. Don’t put her on display. She’s broken. You’re broken. 

Shelli, you’re broken.

Your family can’t be this or can’t be that because … you’re broken.

She might hurt others. Being rough around the edges could hurt someone, inflict slight injury. They might think it’s okay to be broken.


But He has the mind of God. Glory. My heart began to rise. And He whispered to my heartI’m the glue that binds you. I’ll break you, but I’ll bind you. I’m the glue sealing you together. I’ve settled and lodged into you. Because I’m your all. Does that not make you special? Valuable? User-worthy and user-friendly? 

Like me.

Fractures and chips chisel character into your life, like a vintage home’s crown molding.

And If the cracks cause others to bleed, maybe they need my broken and binding, too. You leave that to me. God whisperedmaybe I know what I’m doing.

O Soul Within, who are you to judge who can and can’t be used? Don’t judge yourself, Shelli. Don’t bully yourself.

God sees all. The glass is never too dirty for Him to see. He’s sees the broken and unbroken. 

And He reaches for you.


He sees you from a distance, and He sees you magnified. God sees the whole picture.





















He sees the lines, He feels the cracks, and He still takes you by the hand. 

Because what is real? Real is what you have to give. What I feel … what I see … me.

When the brokenness causes a resemblance to Himbroken like Jesusplace out the fractured, chipped, and the glued. Set the table.

His is the company we seek to please. We’re serving the King.

Gratefulness in my heart had awoken.

We serve a God who uses the broken.



Scraping Certain Memories Out The Back Door


My grandmother never wasted anything, not a plastic butter container, not a milk jug, not a scrap of fabric. What didn’t clutter her kitchen counters, cluttered her storage spaces. She didn’t throw away anything, not even leftover scraps from a meal. Surely a sheer reflection of the Depression. Because a scrap of fabric could be used to make a quilt, a milk jug could store water for electrical outages.

Watching her scrape off the plates, all extra food going into a tin plate, is a sweet memory. “I’ll throw it out to the dogs,” she’d say, and wipe her hands on the front of her flour-covered blouse. When all the plates had been cleared and washed, the counters and tables all cleaned, we’d take the tin plate, heaped with food scraps, and head to the back door. The screen door would screech open, and the dogs would come running. There was no disguising or mistaking her scrap-pile… the dogs ran to it and so did the swarming flies. Stomach-turning remnants covered the ground.



Memoriesit’s what we bring into the storehouse of our hearts and minds. It’s a precious commodity, something we keep. Something we hope to hang onto all our lives, until our last breath.

But we have good, and well, we have bad.

And sometimes it seems like the bad just grows and grows, like yeast has been added to the disagreeable ingredients. Just gets fatter and fatter, busting and bursting out the doors and windows of our minds and hearts. The guest overstays his welcome and takes up too much space. The guest gets bossy and decides who’ll eat where, who’ll sit where, who’ll sleep where, and who’ll need to make accommodations for the night. He pushes out all the good.

And he just eats and eats away at your nerves, your confidence, your faith, even your memory of good.

And we look around and see that our counters are covered and cluttered with leftovers, dirt and grime, and a stench that can’t be described, unworthy of description. Even the cow-trails remaining are threatened. Leftovers needing to be thrown out to the dogs and the flies.

We can’t always choose what comes in and out of our lives, but we can choose what stays, what stays inside. We can choose what needs to be thrown out.



Like standing at my front living room window, at only eight years old, watching my daddy drive away … away forever from my family. Tears pouring out my eyes, I cried, “Daddy, Daddy, I love you.” Oh, my daddy.

Like feeling the sting of rejection. The 8th grade boy who walked by my middle-school desk and said with a scowl, “You have long, skinny fingers. And your hair looks like Medusa.”


Like grieving over a huge mistake. Only a kid and ruining my life.


Those are leftovers, throw-out memories. Not throw-away, just throw-out. We’ll never be entirely free of them. But our good memories don’t deserve to be pushed out the door. Our good memories deserve the guest of honor place at our table.


And O Soul Within, some ground-breaking news, that’s what we’ll make up our mind to do. We have to be intentional in this life, tend to the memories, because another has unhealthy intentions for us.

O Soul Within, gather those leftovers, one by one. The ones that stink and destroy. Scrape them into the tin scrap bowl of honor. Because that tin bowl deserves a place of honor, too. It’s the temporary storage that keeps our countersour hearts and mindsfree and clean. Free of all the dirt and grime, leaving room for all the cleanthe China, the teacups, faith, Christ-esteem, space, lovely space.



Take those steps, one by one.

Open that back door and bask in the beautiful sounds of the screechy screenthe gatekeeper to our hearts, the one that stays closed and only opens when you choose. Only opens when the bad needs to be thrown out or used … blessedly used for good. Not used for bad. And that’s why they aren’t throw-aways because sometimes God uses our throw-outs. 

Scrape it out, sweep it out, let it drop, let it fly. Toss it to the bottom-land, like nobody’s business. Let it stay. Let the dogs come, let the flies swarm. Because that’s the back door. The scrap pile. No one else needs to go there, because it’s nobody’s business. Only your selected few come through there.



And then you smile, walk back into your clean kitchen, take a deep breath, and bask in the wonderful sights and smells of the new, the apple pie scent wafting, the fresh bread baking, the sun shining in through the front window, rays so vivid and beautiful you could reach out and touch them

Like knowing your daddy loves you with all his heart and remembering how he tells you often, how you’ll always be his little angel no matter how old you get.

Like being named Homecoming Queen your senior year, and the one who called you all those names wants to escort you.


Like feeling the tiny fingers and toes of your newborn, 18 years ago, and counting them one by one. And knowing your mistake may very well have led you here, to this child, to this beautiful place.



  


Like knowing with all your heart that God knows what’s best and directs your steps, and even uses your past.

Prop open the front door, and hang the welcome sign. Bring out the white, clean tablecloth, unfold it a tad, and thrust it out. Open wide. Spread it out over the dining room table in your spacious heart, and place the best China because … well … it’s time for a new meal, for a real meal, for a feast. A beautiful, clean, new feast. With guests of our choosing. Only guests of our choosing. Welcomed guests.

With remnants of love, blessing, and honor.


~~~

Do you have difficult, painful memories? Have you struggled with letting them keep a prominent place in your mind and heart? Do you have any thing you need to toss out?



Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

“Mama?” The one word that changed everything for me.

“Yes.”

“Mama, I heard that women pilots in our nation’s air force have really struggled with this issue. They can’t fly in this condition, so some choose this course.” 

Oh, Daughter.

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President


I had just been in church, the pastor’s words on freedom had taken my heart and mind soaring straight to this topic without him ever mentioning a single word about it. 

Why? I don’t know. God in me, it had to be.

Because I have no personal experience with this topic. I bear many regretful choices from my teenage life, and I’m thankful this isn’t on my list of regrets. But it could have been. Easily. So easily. 

Oh, Daughters.

I felt a whisper over my heart, “You better be brave, and bold, and obedient.”

I’ve hemmed and hawed around ever since, in a feeble attempt to be brave, bold, and obedient. Weeks have passed. Writing and talking it out turns my legs to jello, my insides to mush, tears me apart, rips my heart apart. So please know I’m not judging, but breaking. 

I thought over it all.

Oh, Daughters, I need to tell you something. Because some things one never forgets.

That picture that sits in my bathroom, on the side of the tub? You know the one. The sole purpose of that picture was decoration. Me, the amateur photographer, imagine that. Some fifteen years ago. It seems like yesterday. The day I sat you girls in a bucket for a picture. The dog’s water bucket, no less. You were in your pink swim suits, in the bathroom. Watermelon and polka dots. Cutest things. 

One goes in the bucket, then the other. Big sister’s legs are getting long. Just drape them over the side. I position those tiny legs and feet. “Smile for me. Say ‘cheese’ …” 

Big sister, make sure little sister …

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Some time after, my friend who owned an adoption agency wrote to me. “Shelli, watch this video.”

Most people recycle plasticmilk jugs, sacks. Buckets, buckets, and more buckets.

I bend over, peering into the plastic to see something precious …

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President


Beautiful eyes, beautiful skin.

Little tiny baby legs, feet, arms, hands …

And then my eyes become so clouded with tears I can no longer see.

My heart gasps and the sound spills out with my breath. My living breath. 

Oh, Daughters.

What could he have been? What could she have been? 

Google “baby in a bucket” … then Google aborted baby in a bucket” … one tiny word changes everything.

And just allow those images to sink in, into the marrow of your bone, your soul.

One baby is sitting joyfully with a smile, covered in feathers or covered in a ballerina tu-tu, tulle ruffles, all pink. Happy. In the other picture, the baby is doubled over. Pale. Legs displaced. Organs displaced, delicate and private parts that should be covered. Crimson paints the body. The baby in a bucket, like something you’d only see in a prison encampment. In a horror film. That baby never had the chance to know happy on Earth, to be snuggled, to wear a onesie, to be burrito-wrapped in softness.

In a bucket. Some things deserve a beautiful burial.

Oh, Daughters.

That young woman thinks she’s ejecting to safety, freedom, normalcy. And maybe she doesn’t realize that though she’ll be free of a live baby, she’ll be placing herself in enemy territory. I won’t pretend to know, but I hear it, read about it constantlythe pain, the torment, the regret.

No, don’t Google. Don’t allow those images to sink in. Because we get so accustomed to seeing the bad … and then it means nothing to us. The images don’t stir our heart, don’t make us sick, don’t break us, don’t make us gasp, don’t tear us apart.

The images should place our minds in a prison encampment forever. Maybe they do. Maybe they will.

Oh, Daughters, your sweet baby faces come to mind. 

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President




And I thank God that two women gave you girls life. That they placed you girls’ tiny infant feet and tiny chunky legs on the side of life. These two precious women, who weren’t ready to be mothers, allowed someone else to be a mother. 

Me.

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President


Because that baby in the bucket could have completed someone’s family, someone’s life, made a family of three, given a sibling … could have changed everything for someone sunken low in the pit of infertility. 

Maybe the sole purpose of the situation is to keep another from loneliness, to bring life to the dead, to decorate someone’s life. Only God knows. But know this

One’s desperation could end another’s desperation. 

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

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I know life is messy, complicated, but it’s worth it. The situation can’t be kept a secret, but all secrets come out eventually. The closed always becomes disclosed. 

Oh, Daughters, I pray you never have to choose. I pray you always make wise choices. I pray you never hold a list of regrets.

But placing a baby is a critical choice. Fill arms, Daughters of this world, Daughters of the KingFill empty arms. Place that living, breathing child in living, loving arms, not plastic. That bucket—I pray you never allow to be on your list of regrets. 

I pray you recognize there is no choice.

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President


Because some things should never be recycled.

Oh, Daughters, freedom of choice is not free. It’s never free to the one whose life was taken. The one who couldn’t choose. Life or death. The one who can’t speak “Mama” yet certainly can’t speak “life” yet. 

What could that child have been? The bucket child. Could that tiny, beautiful baby have filled the position of our nation’s first woman president? Just think of it. Can you imagine it?

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Oh, Daughters. Where would I be without you?

And I know you. But what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t say

Choose life. Choose adoption. Choose family. 

Always. For Life.

Choose … 

One tiny word changes everything.

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President

Oh, Daughters—She Could Have Been Our First Woman President




When Your Heart Longs for a 5-Star



The book starts slow. Not what I’d expected. My lips stretch with a yawn. Maybe this book is a 3-star.

In a world that craves action, I close my eyes, slip down into the covers, and sleep overcomes me.

Rejection.



For the moment.

The next night, I see the book on the bedside table. The simple glance begins to grow my heart’s curiosity. Maybe I should give it another chance. I reach out and take hold. 

The speed increases slowly, along with my heart-rate. The characters and hope spring alive. I can’t put the book down. It has my heart wrapped around its shortest page. My heart is so happy as I read “The End” … I can’t wait to rate it a 5-star and tell the author how wonderful it is. 

That bookthose wordswill remain in my heart forevermore, and I’ll share it with others. I want everyone to know how much it meant to me, what it did for me, how it helped me, how it grew me, maybe how much it made me laugh or cry. It ends up being the best book I’ve ever read. 



O Soul Within, do you see the reflection of your life in that mirror? Not everyone has a Pollyanna beginning. And yeah, it’s okay to mourn the lossthe loss of sound mind, good judgement, wisdom, blessing. 

But just because you started out a 3-star doesn’t mean you are destined to end there. God will never reject you for that slow start. Don’t give up on yourself. The expanse of sky is immeasurable. Because our God is brilliant. Those stars are right before you. Sometimes you have to wait for the clouds to part. But they’re there. Dangling there. Reach out and take hold of the remainder. Pluck them right out, claim them, and cling to them. The 5-star belongs to you. 

God has plans for you to end well. Even after despair, in the midst of despair, you will remember. He’s taught you well. You can be the best He has to use. The best He has to offer. You can spring alive with hope.

Be the one your Heavenly Father just can’t put down. Be the one wrapped around His tiniest finger. Be the one that makes His chest puff with heavenly pride. Be the one that He can’t wait to use, can’t wait to share … His prize pupil. Be the one He can count on to help others, to show others we can rise above. 

Your Heavenly Father has faith in you. He’s the God of second chances. The God of heavenly glances. And He uses our 3-star as a heavenly staircase to reach our 5. He uses it. He wastes not so you can want not. Can you envision the climb? One step after another … put one foot in front of the other … higher and higher … stepping through the darkness of the 3 and into the bright light of the 5, where you can see … really see …

See what He’s done for you, through you, in spite of you.

For this new year, new you.

Reach out and take hold of His gentle fingers, beckoning you …

Be the one.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

***


Do you ever feel stuck as a 3-star? Does it loom over you? Do you receive daily reminders? What helps you reach that 5-star? And aren’t you thankful God sticks it out with us?


The Gentle Nudging for a Thanksgiving Blessing and a Dance



I hadn’t been in over a year. Goodness, that’s hard to believe. 

My dad goes up there sometimes, and he always assures me that I’m welcome. But I’ve been so busy–same ol’ song and dance, you know. And well, it’s just not the same since my grandmother passed away. 

When my grandmother was living, I’d go visit her as often as possible. And well, with my uncle living down the road, he was a package deal. My dad might come up sometimes, and I’d see him, too. 

When my grandmother was ill, we three spent much time together, on her behalf. And well, I just got to missing those two something awful. I’d heard my uncle had been sick with pneumonia recently. 

My uncle on the left, who spent all morning cooking for us,
and my dad on the right who’d spend all morning doing 
Elvis impersonations if a knee weren’t bothering him. 
He’s good, too. 

I’ve learned to listen to that gentle nudging. I always know the Lord is speaking to my heart.

My dad tells me a date that’s good for him. We’ll all go out to eat, we plan. Make a day of it. My heart’s already leaping.

The day arrives, and we leave fairly early … the girls and I venture out to go the distance–2-1/2 hours there. 

I call my dad when I’m an hour away, and he sounds like a little kid. He’s so excited to see us. “I can’t wait for y’all to get here,” he says.

I miss her road. Her Texas county road. I chastise myself for letting a year go by. How could I miss her road? I pull off and turn around, heading the right direction now.

My grandmother’s house is near this little city of Antioch, Texas. Antioch … the first recorded place in the Bible that I’ve been taught where the word “Christian” was used … it meant “Little Christs” … it was often used in a derogatory way. Am I living my life in a way that others would call me “Christian”?






And there’s her driveway. The long windy, sandy driveway trimmed with pines. Yeah. I played on that road a ton when I was a kid. My toes burrowed through that sand.

My heart pumps with ingrained excitement, as I turn onto her drive. In my younger days, that’s when I’d bring out the hairbrush and dab on a little make-up–prepare to see my family. Like I’d looked that way all along. Just my casual self. 

Before I even get to the house, my dad is outside waiting, pacing. Just like my grandmother used to do. He’s holding a camera. The minute we step out, he says, “I want to get a picture of y’all.” I’ve never danced with my dad, but this moment was right up there. O Soul Within, he loves you.

We hug. He says my uncle is making dinner for us. 

“But he’s been so sick,” I say.

“He really wanted to cook for you,” my dad says. O Soul Within, he loves you, too.

Noon finally arrives, and we head over to his Texas country house. I climb the steps and knock.

“Come in.”





He’s cooking. Doing the shuffle throughout his kitchen, he’s made a Thanksgiving feast–a whole turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, some casserole, rolls, cherry pie. Like my grandmother used to do. Evidence covers the front of his shirt–flour, splotches of grease. He looks exhausted. He’s sweaty. Clearly, his strength hasn’t returned and may never. Other health issues. 

I start sweating too because his blood is thinner now, and he keeps his house warm. And I’m having power-surges (ABS!). And I’m imagining cracking open a window for fresh air. 

My mouth gapes open, with a smile. He’s twirled my heart right in. I know my eyes are glowing with a slight hint of confusion. “What have you done?” I ask. “You’ve been sick.”

“I wanted to do this for my baby.”








My uncle put me first, grateful that I’d come the distance. For him. For my dad. Regardless of how he felt.


***


O Soul Within, it’s not easy to honor the One who went the distance for us when you are sick, hurting, struggling … 

To put Him first … to treat Him like the love of your life …

It’s tempting to settle for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the quick and easy.

But you’ll always be blessed for the effort. Allow the evidence to cover you and others. Don’t let too much time go by. Don’t miss the road. Take His hand and do the dance … waltz the floor …

one, two, three, one two, three …

Because He loves you.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.



When you’re tired and struggling, is it tempting to push the very One Who can strengthen you to the back burner? How do you ensure God comes first?

Uh-oh! My Red Lipstick Got on Your Red Cup


It’s raining, flooding actually. I’ve been known to hydroplane even in my tennis shoes with all the rain we’ve received. And I thought one could only hydroplane in a car. What did I know?

And I just dropped my oldest off at her volunteer job. I’ve got one other young lady who just hopped up front with me. And it’s turned cold. We push those seat-warmer buttons.

“Do you want to get a latte?” I ask, smiling.

Her smile greets mine. “Yeah.”

“Do you want to try the peppermint mocha?” 

“Yeah.” She’ll try anything. Any flavor, any color. She’s brave. I’m not. I stick to the same ol’, same ol’.

“One white chocolate mocha and one peppermint mocha, please.”

Just what we needed to warm our insides.

“Can I try your peppermint?” I ask.

“Sure.” She’s so giving. I’m surprised she didn’t ask me first.

“Oh, that’s a bit too minty for me.” I can’t believe I hear myself say that. I love mint. My young lady wipes my red lipstick off her cup. Now, I know quite possibly why she didn’t ask.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to get my lipstick on your cup.”


O Soul Within, I know you didn’t mean to infringe. Sometimes people don’t want your blood spilled on them. 

Back up. Hands off. Let them clean it off. Don’t touch their cup again. Unless you are invited.

It’s probably tempting to think it’s because they’re so white and clean. And clearly, you’re not. Never have been, never will be. Or maybe, quite possibly, there has been miscommunication, and they think you’re so white and clean, or claim to be.


Oh, don’t take offense, O Soul Within. 

Sometimes people don’t want to jump on your bandwagon. Because they have their own bandwagon. Maybe they’re comfortable with theirs. And maybe they’re not quite ready to shift. And sometimes folks ride stealth bandwagons–invisible to you and sometimes themselves.

And sometimes blood carries germs and diseases, and people have enough of their own germs and diseases … and they don’t need yours. Stop trying to share.

And well, sometimes people just need to warm up to you.

And don’t lose hope. Because O Soul Within, there are people who have your blood type. With your very same germs. They are just like you, and they don’t mind your blood spilled on them. Not one bit. Or maybe they like studying your type–the work in progress that you are. And they’ll open their very hearts to fit yours in. Come alongside you. They’ll join your bandwagon or motion for you to jump on theirs. What a hayride!


And don’t lose focus. O Soul Within, let it be a lesson to you. Don’t worry about spilled blood. Don’t worry about germs. Ditch the Germ-X. Let them pour down over you. 

Be brave. 

Don’t stick to the same ol’, same ol’. Ride out of your comfort zone. Hydroplane into others’ lives. Because you were made for community, for fellowship, to share one another’s burdens. Why, if you worried about that, you’d have missed out on the Lamb of God, the ultimate offering … 

the One who took the cup upon Himself, who spilled His blood, letting it trickle down on you …

so that you could be new …

so that you could be clean.

***


Have you ever expected others to understand your situation and felt disappointed when they didn’t? Or have you ever been afraid of someone different from you? Maybe someone suffering differently than you? Maybe you didn’t know how to help or quite what to say, so you turned the other way? How can we love others when we struggle with fear? Any advice?

When You Don’t Know How to Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes


It’s a beautiful day, and we are in comfort mode. I’m all slumped down in the comfy chair, relaxed and calm, delving into a really good book. When out of the blue, my toes take on a mind of their own and begin to curl inward, sending me running around the house like a crazy woman. Have you ever seen someone talk to their toes? Begging and pleading?

Dr. Pepper goes down, popcorn suspends in mid-air, TV pauses, and everyone looks at me like I’m a crazy woman. Eyebrows raise. “What are you doing, Mom?”

I want to say, “Don’t you know by now?”

I laugh and want to cry all at the same time. 

It’s hard for anyone else to understand. Unless you’ve experienced it.

“My toes are cramping again.” I can’t stop walking, running, dancing around until they relax. It’s the silly sandals I’ve been wearing. That’s my assumption. They’re just as darling as can be, but they are too wide for my feet. And I have to scrunch my toes with each step to keep them on, or else I’ll walk right out of them in public. And I’ve been known to do that. I smile, when others see my mishap, misstep. 

I shouldn’t wear them, and I have been wearing tennis shoes more often, but the sandals … well, they are really cute. 






















Everyone thinks so.



We get in the car, my girl and me, heading to the store. We’re on this old windy county road with bumps and bruises. A trailer hauling horses or cows leads the way, oh some quarter mile ahead. My daughter says, “What on earth are they doing? They are driving drunk.” Swerving in and out. Looked a bit dangerous for that trailer.

I say, “Well,”and I milk this out a bit, southern style“they might just be avoiding …”we swerve to the left“that big hole”we swerve to the right“and this big hole.” Yeah. Our road is full of holes. If you don’t avoid them as best you can, your tire alignment will never be the same and neither will your insides. 

We laugh. My girl says, “I spoke too soon. I shouldn’t have judged them. I had no idea.”

I say, “Yeah, it’s hard to understand until you walk in someone else’s shoes.”

We sit there silent for a few moments, soaking in that truth.

And I remember just a few weeks ago when I stood before this beautiful group of women. I was there to share my heart. And I know some of their stories, and some of their stories, I don’t know. But there are stories. That I know. We all have them. 

Because we live in a world full of bumps, bruises, holes …. One minute we’re slumped cozy on the couch, and the next, we are in crisis mode. Swerving to the left. Swerving to the right. 

Deer on the left. Deer on the right.

And I ask the Lord, “How? How do I stand before these beautiful women and even attempt to open my mouth? You know me.”

You see, I’ve not walked in their shoes. Who am I? What can I do? What can I say? I don’t even want to walk in my own shoes. Because sometimes these shoes are painful. They hurt, they cramp, and sometimes I want to walk right out of them.

How on earth can I walk in someone else’s shoes until I fling my own painful shoes off my feet?

I hear my Lord softly say …

O Soul Within, you just share your heart. It’s a beautiful thing called a testimony. It’s yours, unique, and distinct, like you. You allow those knees to softly cap the ground, glide your hands forward, letting that dirty-blond-hair-turning-gray, that I made, touch the ground, right alongside your face. 

When your heart is cramping right alongside everyone else’s … when you can’t stand on your own two feet … you slide prostrate until your heart hits the ground, level with your face, and you lift your eyes, with those tears that continually pool, to see my feet … the feet of Jesus.

The feet that were punctured, scarred, cramped, and bruised.

And then something beautiful happens, O Soul Within, you pour out your heart, only to find that others are filling yours. 

At the foot of the cross.

Have you ever had a hard time walking in someone else’s shoes? Did God show you how to walk forward?

And I want to thank the sweet Cornerstone ladies for loving on me, setting up all my equipment and all theirs, lugging in my boxes and bags before I could even blink, and for sharing their champion stories with me on this bumpy road called life. I’ll love you forever.

The Heart of the Sanctuary


Maybe you have chairs. We have pews. In the sanctuary.

Maybe your rows are wide allowing easy access, to enter or leave.

Our rows are narrow. Once you get inside, you might as well get comfortable.

O Soul Within, where do you sit? I see you, you know. You sit in the far back like a good back-row Baptist. And you grasp the pew’s edge like your life depends on it. Beads of perspiration overtake you when you have to release your good grip. I see you. And your heart feels a little put-out when you have to bend your legs for others to move past you, to the inside. I know, you had gotten comfortable, seat warmed, you didn’t want your pants to twist. I know it. I see you. 


O Soul Within, are you in the way?

And as I became self-aware, from my outside seat on the back row, in the balcony, I saw all the edges filled and the middle left sparsely occupied.

The heart of the sanctuary seemed empty.

My thoughts hovered over it for a time.

It’s easier to sit on the outside, isn’t it, O Soul Within? It calls us to bend a bit, for others to pass through, and sometimes our toes get stepped on. But we can come and go as we please. With ease. We can slip out to the bathroom. We can bolt. We don’t get trapped.

If some can’t sit on the outside, they’ll get up and go. And that could possibly require you to bend again. O Soul Within, you feel conviction, don’t you?

Moving into the heart of the sanctuary is a bit inconvenient. We have to step over people, be cautious not to step on toes. We accept the risk of getting trapped there.

Why are we afraid to move in? To move close? Are we afraid to come alongside other Believers? Are we afraid for others to know us too well? Really know us. Are we afraid for others to know when we’re absent? Or present? Are we afraid of what it might demand of us?



How close are you willing to get, O Soul Within?

Are we outsiders or insiders?

O Soul Within, Sunday morning is often a reflection of youwho you are. Yeah, your very soul. It stings, doesn’t it? Just let it sting.

Because if you’d just move insit in the seat prepared for you, live the life God called you toyou wouldn’t be called to bend, or move, or feel the press of your toes, and there’d be room for others to conveniently move in, too. 

When you move, your children move.

The heart of the sanctuary would be overflowing. Because where two or more or gathered, the Lord is doubly attractive. And visitors or late-arrivals would always have a place, enough space.

Yeah, it’s sweet to see that those on the pew rose to the occasion. And it’s doubly sweeter to see the rows become endless, without edges, the growth so exponential that no one can fall off and hit the ground. Can you just see it? 

And the view will always be perfect. Because the view is Jesus.



The inside more crowded than the outsidewhat a concept.

O Soul Within, peel away from the edge. Don’t be afraid to move into the heart of the sanctuary, to come alongside fellow Believers, because that’s where you’ll meet God. On the inside. In the heart. The inner circle. 







Have you ever felt God calling you to more? Relinquishing your very self? Have you had to push past fear, like me?

From Broken to Mended


It’s been pressing on her for a year. Painfully.

That metal piece of whatever you want to call it–expander, though I’ve called it every name in the book that starts with an “e” and ends with an “er”–served its useful purpose. It broke her. It really broke her. Even her allergies improved.

But boy, it was painful. The piece of metal made it hard to eat. She couldn’t feel the roof of her mouth. Did she have any space left in her mouth at all?

It weighed on her heavily for a whole year. A whole year.

“It’ll come off next month.”

“No, it’ll come off next month.”

She sat down … lay back. Hands of relief surround her.




“It’s coming off today. It’s really coming off,” they say.

Feet up.



Relief at last.

Little girl smiles. She feels around in her mouth … space she forgot she had.

“We won’t do anything else today. We’ll give it time to heal–see what movement takes place.”

Little girl jumps up, leaving all behind, to brush her teeth … brush all that was broken … the roof of her mouth … and rinse. Cleansed. 

She feels the cuts–where metal bore down into flesh, impressing, changing. But she can feel. She can feel once again.



Sometimes we have to be broken before we can mend.

Necessary change. And we wonder when we’ll find relief.

And then we hear spoken, “Today’s the day.”

Sometimes we have to fall back into the hands that are capable.

We leave all behind … all behind that hinders, binds, hurts, cuts.

We feel the impressions, the change.

But we can feel. Really feel.


Wearing Imperfections Well


He came home from a week long trip to Hawaii. Business-related. Oh, the life. He came home the day I spoke in public for the first real time to a group of some 125 beautiful women. He eased into the church foyer on the last tidbit of my talk. I saw him. I smiled. 

I had been so nervous about him hearing me. About me seeing him. My husband knows me so well … all my weaknesses, all my imperfections. He knows all … all that I wish others didn’t have to see. Would seeing him make me freeze? Would I forget everything I intended to say?

But I carried on. God was with me. He put the words in my heart and eased them out of my mouth. Just like He’d promised. I didn’t have to be someone I’m not. I could be the broken, imperfect person that I am. I could be real.

After arriving home, he carried in his luggage and said he had something for us girls. Souvenirs. Souvenirs from Hawaii. The excitement in my heart bubbled over.

Pearls.



“What? Pearls. Really?” O Soul, did you hear that? Real pearls.

“They’re imperfect. But they’re real. I could afford them.”

I opened the little delicate white bag held secure by the white satin ribbon and pulled out the string of pearls–a necklace and a bracelet. Real pearls.

They were beautiful. They weren’t circular shaped like most I’ve seen. They were different. Thin. Long. Scarred. And they wore the name “pearl” perfectly with the pearly texture.

I put the necklace around my neck and tightened the clasp securely. The bracelet slid over my hand and onto my wrist. Perfectly imperfect.



Do you ever feel different? Imperfect?

Do you ever want to stay hidden in the drawer, in the closet, because of your imperfections?

O Soul, I know you do. You know you do.

It’s okay to be imperfect because it’s okay to be real. 

Put it on. Latch the clasp securely. Wear it proudly. Wear your imperfections perfectly. O Soul, you can’t afford to be anything different. Because we live in a world of imperfection. And O Soul, people need to see real.

**

Have you ever been afraid to reveal your imperfections? Do you know that’s what makes you beautiful? That’s what makes you unique.