When The Yoke Seems A Little Runny

I take the bread, cupping my fingers over it and guarding it with my life. I glance down the pew at God’s sweet provision. With my head bowed, I take a long look inside …

Life can be excruciating. It can.

My grandfather answers the phone. “Yellow” … (his version of “hello”)

With excruciating fear, I say, “Pa-Paw, we’re thinking about adopting a baby …” I hadn’t been able to sleep. My gut churned. All the “what ifs” …

“I kindly adopted you, didn’t I.” My grandfather’s words wrap peace around me, like an old familiar song. If I could love this man like I do, who took me as his very own, maybe just maybe a child could love me, too.

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I play and replay that scene over in my mind when life is hard. I remember all the ways God came through for me, through fear, how my two daughters resemble me in the seen and unseen. From the perfectly placed freckles to the seemingly imperfectly placed …

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Because I go to my knees with fear these days. I tell my doctor that I’m not handling things well. Is this coping? She assures me that she’s there to help me, should I need it. Medication, she surely means.

The unease in my heart has kept me up many a night. My insides are doing abnormal things. “Or is this my new normal?” I ask myself. When my pulse races away, I count to ten over and over throughout the night. I pray continually. I chastise myself constantly. The Lord offers the light and steady yoke, and time after time, it seems I take on the weight of the heavy yoke and allow it to run away with me, spinning me around and solidifying my impending disaster, allowing the weight of it to press me to my knees.

And the guilt drives me deeper into the mud and mire.

Why? Where is the peace?

And just this morning, I beg God for answers. God, why? Why can’t I have peace in the midst of the storm? The storms that pummel me, one after another. Why can’t I sleep?

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“I kindly adopted you, didn’t I.” That’s what I hear spoken over my heart. And I think of that night after the Passover, in the garden, before Jesus went to the cross, the excruciating pain.

An angel from heaven appeared to him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22: 43-46

“Do you really think you are so different from me?” I hear spoken over me. “You love. Your heart is soft, not hard. You’re in pain, Shelli. You’re scared. You’re sweatin’ it out. But you keep kneeling and praying … kneeling and praying …. You are not crippled. You keep getting out of bed each morning, you keep taking step after step, you keep going a little further … with me.”

And as I sit in the midst of the flood, the guilt of how I should be handling things rolls in waves away from me, back out to the ocean.

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And relief, full of peace, splashes over me like new rain. Like Heaven sent.

“This is my body given for you …” I swallow hard and take the cup, wrapping my fingers securely around it, guarding the lifeblood with my life.

“Do this in remembrance of me …”

Do you ever feel like you are handling things all wrong? Does Jesus’ example comfort you, too? 

Much love and Happy Easter, y’all. 

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When You Are Losing Your Vision

I fuss in the car. “No one can check to see if they have $7 to loan me?” I huff and puff. The girls remain quiet. “I’m going to have to stop for money. Where can I stop? Time is short. I should’ve done this earlier today …” I pull into the gas station, use the ATM machine, and hit the road again.

Arriving at the church, I’m greeted and hugged by my cousin, and I hand over the ticket money.

And I just feel …

I’m trying to make peace.

All 7 of us girls pile into a row of chairs.

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And the Lord waylays me.

Anthony Evans … front and center. “Come, Lord, like a rushing wind. We are desperate for your presence. Revive us by your Spirit within. We want to see you again … We remember all the great things you have done. We believe that greater things are yet to come. We remember all the great things you have done. We believe that greater things are yet to come.”

My hand lifts into the air. I remember, Lord.

Priscilla Shirer joins in singing with her brother. And then she begins praying over everyone. “Are you going through this …? Raise your hand.”

Fear presses into my wildly pumping heart. I don’t have a choice. I know. My loved ones know. My hand lifts into the air again. Hands reach for me, and prayers cover me. Tears flood my face and drip down to my heart.

“Are you going through this …?” My daughter looks straight at me. Afraid to raise her sweet hand, she sits there, vulnerable, begging and pleading with her eyes …

There is no greater honor than to pray over your child. I reach across my other daughter, take hold of my oldest daughter’s hand, and I present her unspoken requests to God …

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Priscilla asks us to get out our Bibles. I flip open the pages. I can’t see. I don’t have my cheaters.

I remember my daily Bible reading from earlier in the week …

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’  They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts.” –Mark 11:1-11

The 3 things that stood out to me were … Go, Find, Untie

Priscilla says, “We all want others to think our lives are perfect. It’s all over Instagram … white couches, white carpet. Who lives like that?” She pauses. “Who fussed at their kids?”

The girls look at me. I look at them. Busted. Busted at the door. We laugh.

“We are dealing with our own leprosy,” she says. “But this is a place to be real. You weren’t cheated; you were chosen.”

My Bible lay open on my lap …. I’m blind to you, Lord. I’d left my broken cheaters at home. A nose-piece is missing, and they sit lopsided on my face. I look at my cousin beside me. Her eyesight is diminishing, as well. And she’d forgotten her Bible in the car. I pull out my phone, opening the large print before me … God’s beautiful Word before me, no matter the form …. I nudge my cousin’s arm.

We will remember.

Oh, Lord, I’m desperate for you.

I’ve come, Lord. I’ve found you. Untie me.

I’m throwing my cloak down for you. You are welcome in this place.

With all my life’s messy, I know I’m not cheated. I’m chosen.

And I want to fuss over you. I want to see you again.

The Day I Ran Away from Home

You take my hand. And one hand guides me. 

“Dear Jesus,” I whisper …

Do you remember that time I ran away from home? You do. I know you do. I was just an itty bitty thing, only in elementary school. I can’t believe I still remember it. But I do.

You take one step forward, and I follow.

My sister and I decided to run away from home. We didn’t have a good reason. My older sister thought it was a brainy idea, to the best of my recollection, and I followed.

We collected our baby stroller, our baby dolls, a little food and drink, and walked out the door as the sky was dusking. Mama even helped us pack, gave us hugs, and watched as we headed down our quiet neighborhood street pushing our baby strollermy sister’s hands on one side of the handle, mine on the other. 


As we neared the end of our street, we realized we had nowhere to go. We found ourselves surrounded by darkness and loneliness. Would we turn the street corner and continue on or head straight into the forest facing us? Neither choice seemed like a good option. Desperate, we looked behind us to see Mama, with the porch light on, up on the hill, watching us, beckoning us to come home.



We immediately turned around, with all our baggage, and ran back as fast as our little legs could carry us. 

You twirl me away from you.
Thank you for Mama. Because she taught us a valuable lesson that day. Oh, she wouldn’t have let us go far. She was waiting for us to see that we had no place to run but to her arms, where we were loved and safe.

You twirl me back in to you.

Jesus, the same incomparably comparable thing happened to you. Didn’t it? I’ve heard your stories. And I believe every one. 

You step to the side, and I follow.

Your Father let you go down the road for a while, as you carried your cross to the hill. And the light was turned off for three days. 

Three days.

I can’t even begin to imagine.



Your Father watched. He never lost sight of you. 

And then something beautiful happened. Something miraculous. Your Father turned on the porch light. He beckoned you home. And you rose from the grave. Nothing could keep you from home, from your Father, from me.



You take a step back, and I follow.

That day Ia little fair-skinned, blond-headed girlwalked down the street, on 1524 Milam Drive in Tyler, Texas, I’m so glad my sister turned around to go home, so that I could follow. But one thing I’ve learnedthere comes a time when we have to make our own decisions. Our own decisionto go home.

You step to the side, and I follow.

I haven’t always followed you the way I should have. My bucket of regrets from my youth is deep. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking. I followed after things and people I knew were wrong. They weren’t you. It felt like I died a slow death, and some days it feels like I’m still trying to dig and scrape my way out of the dirt, out of the open grave.

You step forward, and I follow.

But you, Jesus. Thank you for being the Light, my light. Thank you for your outstretched arms. For being my safe place. For giving me a place called home, a place to call home, a place to run to. For braving the dark and lonely for me. For loving me. Thank you for your testimony and for giving me one. 

You dip me, and I laugh. Your grip on me is strong. You lift me back steady on my feet.

You place your face to mine, and I whisper, “Dear Jesus” …

You are one decision I’ll never forget, one I’ll never regret.

Through the good and the hard, thank you for this beautiful dance.





















Happy Easter. What are you most thankful for this Easter? Did you ever see the movie The Passion of the Christ? I remember the first time I saw it, I walked away thinkingwhat can I do for you, Jesus? Do you remember what played through your mind?

Plastic vs. Real and My Problem with Easter Eggs


Year after year, I hover disappointedly over the stovetop, grasping the silver handle and peering into my non-stick saucepan with bewilderment. What is my problem with Easter eggs? Why do they faithfully crack when I boil them? And why am I always shy of vinegar?

A few days ago, I asked my 15 year old daughter if she wants to color eggs again this year. Just for the fun. I was sort of hoping she’d say no, but with a beautiful smile, she said yes. For old times sake. I think I may have cringed a tiny bit in secret.

Because you wouldn’t believe how often I resort to my Betty Crocker cookbook, on simply how to boil the perfect egg. And you wouldn’t believe how many eggs I juggle, trying to manage a crate full of unbroken boiled eggs. All for an unbroken Easter egg hunt.

I suppose the water is too hot, and the cracks appear. I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing wrong.

Sometimes I resort to plastic eggs. Mix in a little plastic with the real.

And when I finally give up, I realize that even a slightly cracked egg looks pretty with a little color. The fracture lines take on a darker shade, a different hue, giving beautiful diversity to the egg. And like a fingerprint or snowflake, it’s different from all the rest. And add a little sticker to it, and you have something that can be used. Something worth keeping. Something that can be hidden and found.

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I used to be ashamed of the fractures in my life. I wanted to hide them, hide them from others. I wanted to appear perfect. Add a little plastic to the real, and maybe no one would notice.

But here’s the beautiful deal …

God uses the real. 

God refines us intentionally. What good are we if we remain the same? Those fractures are living proof of change and a great source of ministry. They make us unique like a fingerprint or snowflake.
 
The plastic is artificial. But the real is nourishment.


Do I wish I could erase some of those life’s fractures? Oh, you bet I do. But choices are choices; and consequences are consequences; and circumstances are circumstances. But those are the very things God can take and make good. Because He promised He would.

The nail scarred hands and feet prove this

The broken uses the broken.

The fractured uses the fractured.

If we simply give up, come out of hiding, to be found. Remove the plastic. To be real. To be used.