A Crown-Of-Thorns Moment

Trying to hold my heart and stomach in place where they belong, I take the long walk from the dining room to the stairwell. “Honey?”

“Yes, Mom.”

My hand grips the stair rail, and I lean hard against the wall. “I waited too late to get the tickets. They’re all sold out. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”

“It’s okay, Mom.” That’s all. She seemed genuine in her forgiveness. There’s nothing more I can say or do. If I could have an outer body experience and get behind myself, I’d kick myself. My hands drop to my sides in the quiet, and I walk away. How could I have been so …? She’d been asking for weeks about going to see her friend in the Fiddler on the Roof play, a high school play. She wanted to go for support. And she’d been in the same play a few years back. And I’d let her down.

I pull out a chair and sit down at the dining room table. Footsteps speed down the stairs. The garage door opens. “I’m going walking.” Her voice … something unpleasant in her voice.

“I thought you forgave me,” I say. I’m sensing other feelings have begun to emerge. She’d had a few moments to think. The door shuts. I thought you forgave me.

I wait all I can. I walk out the door and see no sign of her. She’s on the trail, I figure. The sheep aren’t in the pen, so she must have let them out. I cut through the middle of the back property. The fabric of her white capris summons me through the forest of trees, the greenery. She’s sitting on the swing.

I feel like a fallen tree, humbled to my knee.

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The two sheep stand there, staring at me, accusing me, almost daring my approach. Like she’d poured out her very soul, her feelings, to the sheep … and now, everyone knows.

Her eyes are red-rimmed and swollen.

My stomach and heart plunge. I wipe off a spot on the swing and sit down. “I’m really sorry. I feel awful. I didn’t want to go to the play without dad, and once I found out he was going with us, there were so many seats still available … I got busy with work. And I just can’t believe they sold out so fast. I can’t believe I did that.” I twist my hands. “Maybe it’s dad’s fault.” We both laugh.

“It’s really okay, Mom.” She smiles at me. We talk it through. “Think we could do pizza and  a movie tonight? Something fun?”

“Sure.”

We head back through the trail, toward the barn. “Look, Mom. This is a mesquite tree. We had these in San Angelo.” She points across the path. “And another one.”

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“It sure is.” I can’t believe it. I’d never noticed them before. Two mesquite trees amongst all the oak and cedar. “We had these in Wichita Falls, too.”

“Look at the long thorns,” she says in cautious admiration. She feels over the leaves on top, the groups of tiny leaves covering the thorns all the way down the limb. “But the leaves are so soft. Like roses, something so soft and pretty needs protecting.” One sheep stands tall, trying to eat the leaves, and fearful that she’ll poke out her eye, we manage to maneuver her front legs back to the ground. “Do you think this is like Jesus’ crown of thorns?”

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“It probably is.” I wind the long limb into a circle. “It’s beautiful though, isn’t it?” We stand there, imaging what it must have felt like to have those long thorns pierce through our foreheads, one by one, all the way around. Or maybe all at once. Gratitude fills my heart for the punishment He took for me.

“Be careful, Mom. Don’t let that pop back on you.”

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“I will.” I release it gently, moving back away and examining the events more closely.

We begin our journey toward the house, sheep following. Peace links our hands together, our hearts together. The capacity of love–nailed to a tree, to be given away, free. A love so soft and pretty, it needs protecting. And I realize that she could have driven the thorns into my head, but she placed the soft side on me instead. 


Have you had a moment of forgiveness that you can share about?

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Making Bible Stories Come Alive

“The girls and I walked into the small, empty chapel. ‘Let’s sit up front,’ I said. I led the way, and we took our seats. I smiled, taking in my surroundings—my teenage daughters were with me at a women’s retreat. I’d just signed them up, without their permission, and they hadn’t given me any flack over it.”

I hope you’ll join me at WMU’s website for more of the story

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Have you had a moment where a Bible story just came alive to you? Maybe you’d heard or read it a thousand times. But suddenly … Want to share?

The Things A Mother Didn’t Do

It’s uncovered … once again.

I open the drawer to my daughter’s chest-of-drawers, shuffling a few items around to make room for the new. Beside me, my daughter’s sweet hands work, shifting and folding.

Ooh, what’s that? My hand glides over the shiny, smooth surface–the object lining the drawer. Stashed away. Purple. Paint. Prints. “Oh.” We carefully reveal and pull it out. It’s the baby, when she was a baby … her tiny handprints. Made in Sunday school.

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Frustration and disappointment sink to my lower tummy. My heart follows, weighing down a little heavier. “I never did hang this,” I admit. I look to my daughter. “I meant to frame this.” I stumble for words. “I just kept forgetting.”

How many times have I said that over the years? How many times have I stumbled across the thing I never did? How many times have I failed to make a change, make a difference? And now, it seems really too late.

“It’s okay, Mom.” She smiles, always assuring. Always forgiving.

We read over the words together, smiling, laughing, remembering how artistic and messy she could be. Oh, the stories there to share.

“Look how tiny your hands were.” She smiles and gives a little nod. It’s amazing how something so tiny can fill you so full … full of wonder and joy and love.

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We plop down for a game of Princess Uno. I marvel at how I manage to get my teenagers to play Princess Uno still. I never managed to shift to the older version. I guess I enjoy hanging onto all little all I can. And I laugh at the irony–that I played the older version when I was a kid, and now I play the princess version as an adult.

We eventually move to the bed, side by side, talking about her best bud, school, drawing, cats … The daughter who doesn’t love to dance jumps up and takes my hands in hers, and we waltz, laughing, tripping over each other. “You’re going to make me fall,” I say, with a frightened giggle.

Before I know it, best bud is joining us and sister, too. We’re looking and sorting through all the items stashed away in baskets on her bookshelf. And laughing. White wicker baskets, lined in pink-and-white polka-dotted fabric. It’s little items. Cherished items belonging to both of my daughters, from their childhood. Things I just couldn’t part with. Things I cherished too much to stash away in the attic. Because … what if we needed to see them, look at them, read them, breath them in … remember? Now.

I pull out tiny baby Bibles, framed baby pictures, tiny photo albums, and notice the dust covering the stuffed animals. A wave of embarrassment washes over me. I never did make my teenager a teenager room.

I mean … it’s cute, but it’s still a little girl room.

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“Do we need to change your room?” I ask. “Are you happy with the pink paint? It was named ‘Lauren’ … remember? After your best friend. Remember how we had moved away, and you were so glad the paint color had her same name?”

“Yeah. I think we should repaint and change things up some,” daughter says, with her cutest typical smirk–the smirk that tells me she loves me just the way I am, behind and all.

“What color would you possibly want? Other than this color?” I can’t think of one that would be better. Not a single one. Translation: do I have one more paint job in me?

She mulls over the idea.

“Can your room just stay little?” I ask. I know the answer to that. I love being a mama. I thought I’d never be one once. And I’ve loved every step along the way. But the uncovered truth is–I always seem to remain a world’s pace behind. What’s wrong with me?

I didn’t do this. I didn’t do that.

Days pass.

Daughter rushes toward me carrying something precious. She cups the tiny somethings in her hand, like she’s protecting it, guarding it, loving it.

Her eyebrows raise, eyes sparkling. Her smile grows. “Look, Mom. Look what I found in the basket on my bookshelf.” She beams, extending the treasured possessions to me, with her fresh prints anew.

It’s two tiny “A Little” Little Golden Books–The Poky Puppy, Little Golden Book Land. “I can’t believe I found these,” she says. “I didn’t know they were there. In my baskets. I loved these.”

One tee-tiny book, having been read so much, is bound by tape. Bound by love. Some things, some actions are just bound to be. Do you agree?

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And something is uncovered right at that moment. Embracing that second-in-time to my heart like a cherished friend, I’m so thankful I didn’t do what I never did. I’d never do what I never did again for another moment like that.


Happy Mother’s Day! Do you have a similar story to share?  Have you found a little favor through your failures? 

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




We Choose What We See


This is the first home I remember well. I lived there throughout elementary school.

Photo taken 1999


I loved this home in Tyler, Texas. 1524 Milam Drive. I have some of the best memories there. My mother had flowers planted around the mailbox. Back then, curtains lined our windows, not blinds. 

Our best friend lived at the end of the streetRedessa. I remember sitting in her boat in the garage and us three girls (my sister included) singing “Rock the Boat” … and her parents put on the best Halloween party, even great to a chicken like me. I practiced line dancing to “Le Freak” here because we were learning it and dancing to it for exercise in school. We had dune buggies that we rode down that street, and those were eventually replaced by our bikes. A gas station sat behind our house, and we’d walk, sometimes sneak, there to buy candy. Our neighbor to the left had emphysema, and we loved him. We had honeysuckle growing on our back yard fence.



But do you see that big picture window, to the left of the front door? 

Photo taken around 1976


That was our family room and that’s where I stood and cried when my daddy left our family. I watched him leave, and I’ll never forget that moment. I cried, “Daddy, Daddy … I love you.” Everything changed in that moment, my life spun out of control. And when I see pictures of this beloved house … sadly, that is the memory that overtakes my mind.

But do you see the window just to the right of the front door? That was my bedroom, and that is where I prayed with my mother to receive Jesus into my life. I was welcomed into my forever home, the body of Christ. And that is the memory I’m going to choose to overtake my mind.

I do have a choice.

I went back to that house when my oldest daughter was little, 16 years ago.


O Soul, do you see yourself? What will you choose to see?

To see only the bad is an irresistible temptation. The one who just couldn’t seem to get it right. The one who made so many mistakes. The one who couldn’t have children. The one …

But I’m going to choose to see the one who is blessed. The one blessed with life. The one blessed by adoption. The one given her mini-me of the heart. The one blessed with forgiveness. The one who doesn’t have to get it right.

Father, Father … I love you.

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Have you had to choose to see the good over bad? Did good prevail?