The Stupid Virus Has an Antidote!

Several weeks ago, I brought y’all some interesting news that confirmed something I’ve long suspected: Stupid is contagious. At least these were the findings being released from John Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska whose scientists claimed to have discovered a virus that makes people stupid. I had a lot of fun opining on who I thought should cover their mouths when they coughed, as well as the need for all of us to band together and race for the cure.

KC_IMG_5128

Today, I’m back with an update on that virus and this time it’s from an unquestionably reliable source. Proverbs 15:7 tells us, “The lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the heart of fools.” Did you hear that? Stupid people may be contagious, but wise people carry the antidote! And for the record, the Bible is clear that wisdom begins with the fear of God and grows through the pursuit of Him. That means these wise ones would be believers and believers make up the body of Christ.

Let me tell you why that’s important. There is much to be learned in studying our physical bodies and our spiritual lives sides by side. God has written evidence of Himself all around us, and it’s waiting to be discovered and applied. Consider the healthy cells of our physical bodies. When a virus attacks, these healthy cells join together to defend the body and promote healing. For those who will see it, that’s a beautiful picture of the body of Christ joining together and presenting a unified front against the spiritual onslaught of the enemy.

Friend, if you’re a believer who thinks you can go it alone, that you don’t need to be part of a church body, I want to respectfully warn you to rethink that position for you are dangerously deceived. I pray you’ll unite with a body of believers and protect yourselves against the stupid virus! I want to see you prosper, body, soul, and spirit.

Hugs, Shellie

Exhale and breathe in 2015 with Jesus

Exhale, ye merry gentlemen and gentlewomen, by the time you read these words of mine the lovely chaos of Christmas will have come and gone. None of us can know what the next day will bring, but if the established order of Christmases past prevails, I can project a few things with a degree of certainty. There’s a solid good chance my man will be on a deer stand and I’ll be attempting to recover some semblance of order here in the old homestead after the departure of our grown kids and their precious wee ones. That would be five grands under the age of six and let me tell you, those little people know how to rock around a Christmas tree!

I also feel confident projecting a couple of other things that will be happening. One, I’ll have my face on because Mama trained me to put it on first thing every morning. If you weren’t raised by a Southern Mama you might be confused by that phrasing, but southern women will know that I’m talking about having my makeup on, even if it’s just light mascara and lipstick. I don’t like to start the day without it.

Quiet Humans at Restjpeg

I can also tell you that, if at all possible, I’ll have found a quiet block of time to train my eyes on God. Having my face on before I start the day is big to this southern belle, but the Spirit of God has taught me that seeking Him first thing every morning is a more precious, more valuable habit, and it’s of far greater consequence for me and for those around me.

If you don’t have this practice, my friend, 2015 looms as an empty slate offering fresh opportunities to embark upon a life-saving, life-transforming relationship with God through the sweet gift of His son Jesus. Blessed be our amazing Savior, Immanuel, God with us. Won’t you join me?

Let’s be ill content to start a day without having our face turned towards Him.

Live Intentionally

My older sisters and I grew up in rural Louisiana. We were blessed with free time to amuse ourselves and plenty of wide open countryside to act out whatever our imaginations could invent. Papa’s fuel tanks became our inexhaustible horses. We cowgirls saddled them up to fight and prevail over bands of warring Indians. Cane poles lining our ditches were stripped and used as building materials in the construction of what we considered to be elaborate forts, worthy of overnight stays. Sadly, Mama was the building inspector. Our efforts fell short of her required code for adequate lodging.

We were also fond of any and all activities requiring a good sense of balance. Pony-tailed dare devils, we graduated from climbing trees to exploring the roof of Papa’s tractor shed and walking the rails of the bridge by our house.

Last month I watched a fellow tight roping between two tall buildings in Chicago. Oh, sure, his audience was a tad larger, and the danger he faced was far graver, but I still identified with his slow and steady movements. Focus is everything for us high-wire performers.

balance

All joking aside, as I watched Nik Wallenda walking very intentionally, with his eyes straight ahead I thought of a passage from the fourth chapter of Proverbs. In it we’re instructed to give our attention to God’s words and not let them drift from our sight, for from them flows life itself! We’re told to let our eyes look directly ahead and our gaze be fixed straight in front of us, to watch the path of our feet so that all of our ways will be established. Eyes fixed, gazed focused, it sounds serious because it is. The dangers of not living intentionally are even graver than the consequences of ambling aimlessly across a high-wire, far above the city streets.

My friend, Advent has begun. There’s no better time than this present moment to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Word of God who took on flesh. To be apart from Him is death but in Him is life itself.

Hugs, Shellie

Home Sweet Home

Dorothy murmured of it in her sleep as she dreamed of returning. Accolades to it have been stitched, painted, and printed on everything imaginable and recording artists have sung its praises all over the world. And yes, with Thanksgiving close behind us and Christmas being right around the corner, it seems fitting to acknowledge one of the most well-known and beloved tunes of them all. That would be the late Perry Como’s 1954 classic, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”

Of course, I’m talking about our homes today and the odes we give them.

Yours truly has been on the road more than I’ve been off of lately, so home is feeling especially wonderful and cozy to me right now as I sit beside the fire penning these thoughts. Home is where we feel the safest and rest the best. Be it castle or cottage, there’s no place like home.

file0001013755186

They say you can never go home again. I get that. I realize they’re saying we can never really return home because we aren’t the same people who lived there, that even if home hasn’t changed, we have. If our early homes were happy, like my own, that can fill us with nostalgia, a familiar blend of joyful memories tinged with sadness because we can’t go back. For others, whose childhood homes were filled with more pain than pleasure, I would imagine knowing you can’t go home suits you fine. If that’s you, dear reader, I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry about what was, but I hope to encourage you today in what can be.

You and I have a perfect home, one made without hands. Deuteronomy 33.27 teaches us that the eternal God is our dwelling place, and underneath us are His everlasting arms. Regardless of how we started this life, we’re invited to spend eternity in the sweet refuge of God’s embrace.

And here’s the news I most love to share about our dwelling pace: In Christ Jesus, we can be both already there and looking forward to the day when we never have to leave. Home Sweet Home, indeed.

Hugs, Shellie

Falling Out of Touch

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Houston, TX. I was watching my favorite soccer player compete while his little brother sat in my lap and played with an animated dog on my iPhone. My daughter was standing at my immediate right, enjoying a pleasant conversation with her friend, Lilane. Jessica had introduced me to Lilane several nights earlier after I spoke at their church and before the game began, Lilane and I had been talking all things Jesus. But that was then. Now I was only half-listening to the girls’ conversation because I didn’t want said soccer player to do something extraordinary when I wasn’t looking. To be sure, Grant’s mere presence on the field was extraordinary enough for Keggie here, but seeing as he was taking every opportunity to look my way, I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t all in!

grantsoccer

I was vaguely aware the young women were talking about a mutual friend who had recently moved out of the area. Jessica’s friend had asked if she and the other girl were staying in touch.

“We’re trying,” Jessica said. “We text and try to talk on the phone, but it’s hard with her so far away and both of us being so busy with kids and all.”

I could see Lilane in my peripheral vision nodding in agreement before she responded. “I hear you. If you don’t do daily life together, you just grow apart.”

Wow. Truth spoken there.

I turned and told Lilane she’d just said something very profound. She looked like she thought I was kidding at first, but I wasn’t. I went on to explain that what Lilane said about falling out of touch when you don’t do daily life together is deeply analogous to our life in Christ. Our relationship begins when we embrace His grace and it is meant to grow from there. And it will– if we spend time together. However, if we neglect to do daily life together, we will most assuredly grow apart.

You can thank a gorgeous young Texan named Lilane for that warning. It’s truth worth heeding.

Hugs, Shellie

Riding Coat Tails and Red Letter Days

For someone who loves stories, family, history, and worshipping Jesus with like-minded believers, it was a red letter day!

hsprings

I got to travel back in time once again, to that small country church I’ve told y’all about, where five generations of my family members before me have worshipped. Only this time my son and his family were with us, so you can make that seven! If you’re thinking the day probably makes me emotional, you would be correct. Although regular services are no longer held at Hickory Springs, the small church building that was constructed in the 1800’s far back in the woods of north Louisiana is well kept by loyal descendants of the May family. Once a year friends and family alike make their return trip to those hallowed grounds for a combination family reunion/worship service. Present are May family descendants, honorary May family members and ornery May family members, that last distinction was given to me by someone who freely identified himself more with the ornery.

As it has before, this past Sunday yielded particulars on family stories that I’ve never heard, like those I learned about my great-grandfather Harvey’s fall from a deer stand at the age of 83. Alone in the woods, unable to get to his feet from the resulting internal injuries, Harvey May summoned the strength to use his rifle like a cane. He even managed to pull himself through a creek bed before help came. That is tough stock right there!

And once again, I was introduced to people who seemed to love me on sight all because I was “Ruth’s granddaughter and Charlotte’s girl.” No doubt, you’ve experienced that sort of thing. Meeting someone who loves your people is to enjoy favor that’s long been established. You simply get to ride their coat tails.

That, friends, is a beautiful picture of the grace of Christ. As believers, we get to enjoy the favor Father God has for Jesus, His Son. Anyone who desires to know God can come in the name of His Son and be welcomed with open arms. Talk about a red letter day!

Hugs, Shellie

They Want to Brand Her!

 

“They want to brand me,” my friend said.

Be at peace, y’all. It’s not as ominous as it sounds. My friend Joneal and I were talking business and all things Jesus when the conversation turned to branding. Dr. Joneal Kirby is the creator and director of a mentoring ministry for women called, Heart to Home. I’ll be mentioning her name more in the coming months as I have the privilege of speaking at her really big, extremely fun Heart to Home conference early 2015, along with a few ladies you may know from a little show called Duck Dynasty. Yes, girls. Y’all will need to get thy-selves to Monroe, LA for this one.

heartohome
Because of her Heart to Home ministry, Joneal has been using The Heart Mom title for some time, but the promotional people were saying they needed her given name to be synonymous with her life’s work. When folks hear The Heart Mom, they should think of Joneal, and vice versa. It sounded familiar. That’s what my publishing house told me several years ago, that they needed to personalize the All Things Southern brand and identify it with yours truly. Trust me, I shot down a number of their suggestions before we agreed on The Belle of All Things Southern. Imagine my using “The Dixie Diva”. My family and friends would’ve laughed me straight out of this small town!

Friends, I mention all of this branding talk to tell you of a goal that is dearer to me than any professional title and I know The Heart Mom feels the same way.

I want to be branded with the name of my Jesus. When you hear me, I may you think of Him, and when you think of Him, may you linger and listen for His voice. For as He Himself said in John 6:63, it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words He speaks are spirit and they are life.”

Hugs, Shellie

Beware the Stealthy Fog

A light fog blanketing the landscape can be calming to the soul. Sitting on my back porch, for instance, talking to the Good Lord while the early morning is trying to slip out of its thin pale robe. That’s a nice prescription for peace.

There are other times when fog is less appreciated, say when you’re driving, or how about when it begins to roll up from the floorboards of an airplane cabin as you’re flying through the friendly skies with a group of polite strangers? That’s not so relaxing. But, that’s exactly where I found myself a couple years ago.

I remember how uncomfortable my fellow travelers and I were at the onset of the mist and I remember how our pilot’s cheerful announcement over the PA did little to alleviate our growing apprehension, not when he told us it was “nothing to be concerned about”, not when he explained the small “incidental wiring issue” behind it. We were eager to settle down, just as soon as we got our feet on the ground. In the end, the fog of smoke dissipated as slowly as it had arrived and we landed without incident.

01010394

“Don’t worry, be happy” may have worked that day but you and I would be foolhardy to adopt it as a blanket prescription against all early warning signs and especially not the internal God-given monitor of our conscience. The snare that trips us up in the walk of faith is rarely the obvious one.

Sin is stealthy and apathy, why, apathy rolls in as silently and insidiously as a fog. Our inner warning system goes off when we first start choosing other activities over church, when we quit praying quite as often and open our Bibles even less. But it grows fainter over time. The less attention we pay to the growing fog of apathy, the more it builds until we can’t see the forest for the trees and we can’t find the way back home to Jesus if our lives depended on it. And they do.

Hugs, Shellie

Refusing to Choose is a Choice

As I type these words to you our country is either in a war or we aren’t, depending on who you are talking to and what day of the week it is. For those who say we are in a war, it’s against ISI, or ISIS, or ISIL. The latest faces of evil have changed their name more often than that rapper Snoop Doggy Dog, who became Snoop Dog, and then Snoop Lion and is currently calling himself Todd. I could probably find some humor in that any other time, but not right now. I’m deadly serious about what I want to say today.

By any name, the terrorists behind the execution of two of our American journalists, a British aid worker, and ten thousands of other men, women, and children in the middle east are heinous murderers. They may be divided on their designated title but they are stone cold clear and united to a thug on their mission: to kill anyone who gets in their way of establishing a global Islamic caliphate ruled by sharia law. That may sound like a preposterous goal to our western ears, but our opinion doesn’t faze their focus.

I hear many of my fellow Americans protesting that they are weary of war. I’m with them. If only war would grow weary of us. Amen? You and I can distance ourselves from the news and the numbers and it won’t change the reality. The killers aren’t at all tired of killing.

Frankly, the whole thing reminds me of the times I’ve talked to people who claim they aren’t religious, as if they can choose not to engage and that be the end of it. If that’s you, friend, I hope you’ll hear me out today. Refusing to acknowledge that you have an enemy of your soul, doesn’t negate the devil’s existence– it just provides him and his legions cover to advance.

I’ll close with the words of the prophet Elijah, “How long will you hesitate between two sides? If the Lord is God, follow Him.”

DSCN8976

Idol on a Rampage

I happened across the neatest story of Abraham, the man the Bible designates as God’s friend and the father of all who believe.

Our scriptures first introduce him to us as Abram. Jewish records hold that Abram’s father made a living selling idols. According to their tradition, Abram was a mere child when he first began questioning the legitimacy of the idols his family and the surrounding culture worshiped as gods. The story is told of young Abram taking a hammer while his father was away and smashing all of the idols, except for the largest one. He positioned the hammer in this idol’s hand. When his father returned and discovered the chaos, Abram explained that the large idol had smashed all the others.

Indignant, the older man told his son that they both knew the idol could do no such thing.

DCF 1.0

The story goes that young Abram said, “Why then, do we worship them?”

Why, indeed. Why would anyone worship the things around them and neglect the Creator behind it all? Oh. You have a point.

Those Jewish records say Abram came to believe there was One God over all instead of worshiping the many gods of his people. Exactly how Abram came to this belief isn’t mentioned in their historical accounts, nor is it detailed in Abram’s biblical introduction. We’re not treated to Abram’s “how I came to faith” story. We simply see God’s word coming to this man and telling him to leave everything familiar and strike out for the unknown.

As sketchy as that introduction sounds, it has God’s signature move all over it.

God never debates His existence with anyone. He simply states that He is, that He has given evidence of Himself in the world around us and in our individual heart of hearts. The only thing expected of any of us is to acknowledge His authority and follow him in what promises to be a need to know type of relationship.

Abraham’s heavenly invitation is the same as yours and mine. It’s our response that makes us, or breaks us.

A Tale Worth Tattling

From my earliest childhood memories I heard it said that no one likes a tattletale. And from my earliest childhood memories I noted that this warning did little to dissuade my peers and I from doing the telling, especially if we had the goods on an enemy.

file000834482034

I also noticed that adults were exempt from the label. They were never tattling. They were well-meaning informants doing us kids a “favor.” I get that now. I dreaded it back then when I knew someone was headed to my parents with less than stellar news about my conduct.

“I’m telling,” struck fear in my grade school heart on more than one occasion, especially when adults featured it in the choice that really wasn’t a choice at all. “Either you tell your parents what you’ve done, or I’ll tell them.” Unfortunately, there was never a door number three.

Missing the mark was painful then, and it’s painful now, although it’s no longer my parents that I aim to please and end up disappointing despite the best of intentions. These days, I’m addicted to the sweet fellowship of heaven and nothing in me wants to disrupt that precious relationship, and yet I still do.

Maybe you can relate.

If so, let me give you the encouragement that buoys me. My enemy might beat me to the throne of God but he can’t ever outrun my Jesus. No power of heaven, no source on earth, and no demon in hell can outrun the grace of Christ.

It’s impossible for you and I to take our repentant selves to the throne without finding Jesus is already there. And glory hallelujah, He’s not there to rub it in. Jesus is there to intercede on our behalf, to remind His Father and ours that the punishment for our sins has been met through the Cross.

When we fall short, let’s be quick to take our confession to God’s throne, resting in the assurance that our Redeemer is waiting there to restore our souls.

Now, there’s a tale worth tattling!

How Telling is Your Transformation?

The news alert came across my car radio. A huge bolt of lightning had struck a California beach out of the blue in the middle of a beautifully sunny day, leaving one person dead and more than a dozen injured, one critically.

lightening

I listened as the desk anchor cut to the scene where a field reporter was waiting to interview an eye witness.  I’m still shaking my head over what happened next.  Apparently, the guy being interviewed saw the whole thing as an opportunity to grab his 15 seconds of fame for he opened his eye witness account with a joke. Yes, he did. He stuttered and stammered as if he’d been struck by lightning himself. As you might imagine, his joke fell flat.  I couldn’t see the reporter’s face, but the dead air was a big clue. The wannabe comedian chuckled self-consciously and said something about how you just have to laugh to get through things. To his credit, the reporter continued the interview as if it hadn’t even happened, only it got worse. Within seconds the fellow was actually plugging a movie he was producing. I couldn’t believe my ears.

Grasping now, the reporter opined on the life-altering experience it must have been for all involved. The guy’s response said it all, “Oh, absolutely,” he said. “I know it changed me– for a minute.”

That’s what he said. It changed him for a minute. Telling isn’t it? Whatever else impact the near death experience had on him it was temporary. Once you sit with that a while, the truth of it settles in. We’ve all had experiences that we think will change us forever–and now I’m thinking about our first encounter with Jesus– only to discover that it was temporary, a moment, a season. I can’t count the number of times that happened to me. Today, I remember eternally grateful that Father God taught me how to stay in His pursuit because it is His abiding Presence that changes us forever!