Cutting Both Ways

This past Christmas our number one son and his wife gave the beloved hubby and I a set of very nice kitchen knives, extremely sharp knives. The jokers around here entertained themselves discussing the wisdom of putting such knives in the hands of someone as easily distracted as yours truly. I couldn’t help but laugh at their routine, even if it came at my own expense.

If we were a betting family, and we aren’t, I have no doubt that they would’ve also laid down some friendly wagers as to how long it might be before I cut myself. And you know what bothers me the most about that, right? Some clown would’ve collected already. Dad gummit.

I tried to be careful. I took my very healthy fear of those sharp new knives and I tried to avoid losing a finger. I made it about a week before the first accident. It wasn’t bad, and I didn’t sacrifice a digit, but blood was let and bandages were required.

Those super sharp knives remind me of some familiar words from Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

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Sharper than any two edged sword, if we present ourselves before God’s Word, the truth found there can cut away the dead tissue of our hearts to reveal brand new pink flesh that beats for Him and pulses with the promise of eternal life. However, the same razor sharp Word will one day lay every heart open and bare before the eyes of a Holy God, bringing judgment to those who chose not to heed it. Anyone expecting to out maneuver this sharp two-edged Sword on that day will find they’ve made a costly mistake, and there will be no room for repentance.

Come friend. If we’ll cultivate a healthy fear of God’s Word, we can enjoy the unsurpassed pleasure of the Author’s company in this life, as well as the next.

Show Up at the Starting Line

Many of y’all have been faithful to listen to these morning segments of mine for years and I’m so grateful for y’all tuning in! But, for the next few minutes, I’d like to talk to you about my LIVE talk show? You can find show details at allthingssouthern.com/connect.

I’m having fun with the live show… now. Who wouldn’t have fun interviewing Kori Robertson and her mom, Chrys Howard, anyway? These two lovelies just released “Duck Commander Devotions for Kids“. I highly recommend it!

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However, it must be said. The earlier shows were painful. I’m not being self-deprecating when I say it was bad radio. I’d come away mortified every time I took to the airwaves. “It wasn’t that bad,” my darling hubby and true-blue supporter would say. “Really?” I’d argue. “Well, if I wasn’t hosting it, I wouldn’t listen!”

In my naiveté I had gone into live radio with the false assumption that my years of experience doing taped segments for radio and TV would give me a decent head start. I’m sorry. Please excuse the background noise. That’d be the laughter of all those who’ve gone before me, the brave men and women who work in live radio. For the record, I did attempt to get some advice from a few of those pros before I began. The problem is everyone seems to forget how they found their way. I’ve decided it’s a lot like childbirth. Once it’s over, you know you did it, you’re just not sure how.

A lot of things in life are like that, I suppose, and most of what I’ve learned the hard way is best left in the recesses of my slightly twisted head. However, there are other valuable life lessons I wish I could give you— like the joy I’ve found in prayer. It didn’t come easy, either. There were countless days when I’d nod off trying to pray and other times when I couldn’t help wondering if I was putting the Almighty Himself to sleep. But the payoff, friends, has literally been life changing. If you want to know Him, start by showing up and don’t quit until you can say with Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am His and He is mine.”

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll be better than I am at showing others the way.

Hugs,
Shellie

Baby Steps

Weston’s walking! Watching grandchild number five loose his vise grip on one parent’s fingers long enough to venture towards the other is both heartwarming and bittersweet for this Keggie.

Granted, he’s still pretty shaky, but baby steps, y’all. A few days ago, Weston would drop to his knees every time we stood him on his feet. Weston clearly considered crawling to be a sure mode of transport while walking was a scarier proposition. He just wasn’t ready to risk it.

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I saw myself in Weston’s hesitancy.

There have been times when I’ve sensed God calling me to walk into a deeper level of maturity with Him and the unknown has made me want to cling to the familiar. I’ll give you an example, but first, some back story.

I spent some time dreaming with God in the weeks before the New Year. Afterwards, I lay my requests for 2015 before Him. One of them was my desire to hear Him more clearly. Another was my desire to give more this year than I ever have before, more of my money, more of my time, more of my heart, more of me.

Yesterday, the Lord called on me in both areas. I’ll go light on details, to protect the dear person’s privacy should he happen upon this, but I’ll tell you it was out of my comfort zone. I wanted to move on what I thought God was asking, but not moving sure felt more comfortable. And get this, it also felt more reasonable– at least to my human way of thinking.

Do you see it now? Those of us who love sweet Weston wanted him to learn to walk, despite his apprehension, because we know it’s a natural stage of his development and we know he’d be limited if he insisted on crawling forever. God wants something similar for us, that we would move in the direction of His voice and trust the results to Him.

So, that’s what I did. Am I convinced I heard Him clearly and did it exactly as I should? Heavens no. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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