Friday, October 31, 2008

Lousy Cousins

Lynda at On The Write Track is hosting Fiction Fridays today, so follow the write track :) over there for more great fiction.

Eleven more dayyyyys. Only three days had passed since my brother and his wife left their kids with us while they cruised the Caribbean for their anniversary. It felt like they'd been gone a month.

Kylie had been less than enthused when I told her that her cousins were coming to stay for two weeks. “Mom, I don’t want them to come. Mark’s always picking on me, and Liz is a bully. They’re brats, Mom!”

“You’re exaggerating, Kylie—and no name calling. Just let me know if anything gets out of hand, okay? Start praying. Remember, they are your cousins, and cousins are supposed to love each other.”

Though I hated to admit it, Kylie was right. Her cousins acted like brats. Mark, at nine years old, had been name-calling Kylie from the moment his parents left. And Liz, who would be eight the month after Kylie, ganged up with Mark when she thought I wasn’t listening.

“Hey Guy-lie, you color like a baby,” Mark mocked, hovering over Kylie as she lay on the floor minding her own business. “Are those cooties in your hair?”

Kylie’s coloring turned to scribbling. “Shut up, Mark!”

I wanted to high-five Kylie, but I restrained myself. “Mark, stop picking on Kylie. And Kylie, don’t say ‘shut up’.”

Liz turned her back toward me and muttered, “Yeah, we wouldn’t want to hurt Kywie’s feewings, would we?”

I gritted my teeth.
Father—please show me how to get through to these br—children. Help us to love them Your way instead of our own.

“MOM!” Kylie shrieked from her bedroom the next morning. “Liz has bugs in her hair!”

I discovered Liz sitting in a puddle of dark brown speckles on Kylie’s bed scratching her head frantically. “Her bed has bugs in it!”

Mark came running as well. “Ewwww—are those fleas?”

Liz pointed her finger at Kylie and shrilled, “Her bed gave me bugs!”

“Told you she had cooties.” Mark stuck his tongue out at Kylie.

I was outwardly calm, but my heart was racing. “Liz, run to the bathroom. We’ve gotta get the lice outta your hair.”

“LICE!” All three kids shouted in unison.

“I need to check all of your heads. GO.”

Mark was teasing both of the girls as I examined their hair. My nerves in a wad, I decided that some tough love was in order. “Mark, go sit over on the side of the tub and stop the meanness. While I’m checking the girls’ hair, I don’t want to hear so much as a PEEP out of you.”

Shocked, Mark obeyed.

“Okay, Kylie, you’re all clear. Liz, it looks like you’ve had this for some time without realizing it. I need to check your brother.”

Twenty minutes later, I was soaking Liz’s and Mark’s scalps in mayonnaise. Neither of them was happy about the odor or the ugly shower cap they had to wear while I attempted to smother the remaining bugs from their heads. In the meantime, I ran around washing all the sheets, clothes and blankets in the house while Kylie vacuumed the floors.

After three days of trying to chase Mark down with the dreaded wire comb for nit-picking, I suggested shaving his head.

Mark put his baseball cap on his head and held it tightly. “No way!”

Liz chimed in. “Do it, Mark. I would if I were a boy. Think about what a pain this is. Ouch!” Kylie was patiently combing through her cousin’s hair one section at a time, removing tiny white eggs by the dozens.

“Liz is right, Mark,” Kylie added. You’ll look cool with a shaved head. Like a biker dude.”

“Quit teasing me!”

“I’m not teasing. I really think you’ll look cool. Honest.”

Mark put his head down in surrender, shutting his eyes tightly. “Okay, Aunt Vickie. Just do it.”

“Good decision, Mark—no more lousy lunching for those lice.”

Mark half-smiled and then looked up at his aunt. “First, I need to ask a question.”


“Why are you guys being so nice to us? We haven’t been very nice back.”

I shot a look at Kylie, giving her the cue to answer. “Because we’re cousins, and cousins are supposed to love each other.”

Thank You, Lord, for helping them see Your love through us.

Liz looked up at her cousin with a tear in her eye. “Thanks for not making fun of me.”

“Yeah—and I’m sorry. I guess we’ve been pretty
LOUSE-ey cousins to you, Kylie, haven’t we?” Mark joked.

Kylie laughed. “The louse-iest!”


Luke 6:28 (NLT)
Bless those who curse you.
Pray for those who hurt you.

John 13:35 (NIV)
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Does it truly make a difference?

Does it truly make a difference when...

...I talk to the person at the drive-thru about the weather?
...I let a car in front of me that seems to be in a hurry?
...I listen to the grocery clerk talk about how much her back hurts?
...I hold the door open for someone else?
...I put the grocery cart in the spot it belongs?
...I refuse to talk or text on my cell phone when I'm in someone else's company?
...I take the time to tell someone thank-you?
...I get off the computer and play on the floor with my kids?
...I occasionally serve somewhere I'm needed instead of somewhere I love?
...I pray for someone's cat or neighbor or house to sale?
...I choose silence instead of a comeback or opinion?
...I applaud someone else who is in the spotlight I'd like to be in myself?
...I tell someone "You did a great job today"?
...I tell someone the truth in love?
...I examine my priorities and my choices?
...I say "you" in a conversation more than I say "I"?

What do you think makes a difference? Or not?

James 3:13-18 (NIV)
"Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let him show it by his good life,
by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

But if you harbor bitter envy
and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven
but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition,
there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace
raise a harvest of righteousness."

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jesus: The REAL Thing

Here's a short little Bible Study Devotion that I had posted awhile back for my church's devotional website. I needed to repeat it today, ask myself the tough questions...I would love for you to join me.

“He saw through their duplicity and said to them…”
Luke 20:23

When I was a little girl, I began to get chosen for parts in school plays. The talent God gave me flourished all the way through high school. In my small town, I was a pretty big hit! When I moved to Dallas on a college music scholarship, it didn’t take long to realize that I was a small fish in a much larger pond. I began to learn more about performing and “getting into character.” At times I would get so into a role that I would have a difficult time finding the “real me” again.

Luke 20 shows us a parallel. The religious leaders had done a great job of convincing their small towns that they were a big hit. Now that the crowds were following Jesus, they were becoming small fishies in a much larger pond. In this text, they came out in full character, trying to make Jesus and the people believe that they are the real thing. After building their entire lives around the O.T. Law, it had become their identity in a false way. They had grown so comfortable living the list of dos and don’ts in the Word, that they had hardened their hearts to the Living Word standing right in front of them! This was duplicity in the purest form (pun intended).

What a contrast we find in Jesus! He was authentic in every way as He focused on His purpose. When His parents found him in the Temple as a young boy, He was fully determined to teach the Word. When Satan tempted Him in the desert, He resisted the challenge by speaking the Word. Now, as He was interrogated by these rulers, He answered them as THE Word. Their deception became transparent. And the crowd which stood there hanging on His teachings--He saw through them, too: their doubts, their lies, their sensationalism, their need to identify with someone popular—the way they would turn on Him in the next few days. It amazes me to think that even at the point of the cross, He kept His focus. The pain could’ve gotten to Him, the need to take care of His mom could’ve compelled Him, but NOTHING divided Him from His purpose. Thank goodness for us, He was the real thing!

Here we are on the journey, over 2000 years later, and Jesus sees through our duplicity as well. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” He, the Word Himself, sees and knows us—“Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13

Today, let’s step out of any bogus character we’ve grown comfortable with and uncover ourselves before Him. As we willingly lay off any deception or falsehood, we will see that our true identity is found in Him—THE Word--our Redeemer, Savior and Friend.

Discussion Questions:
1. What does the word “duplicity” mean? How does the Hebrews verse, “it (the Word) judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” tie in to Jesus’ statement about duplicity?
2. Read John 1:1 to learn more about Jesus as the Word.
3. Am I “for real” before the Lord and others? Commit to pray for this daily.
4. When I read the Bible, are my attitudes consistent with it? Or, like the Pharisees, do I have any comfortable areas I’ve built into my identity that I need to give over to God to replace or remove?

Oh, Lord God, thank You for being the real thing. Thank you for being the Way, the Truth and the Life for my sake. Help me to be like You in this way. I confess my two-faced thoughts, attitudes and actions, Lord. Please forgive me and help me to overcome this way of living. I truly long to be like You, the real thing. In Jesus' name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rising To Finish

I LOVE the topic at the well today:
"Arise and shine - being an exceptional Mother in the midst of the ordinary."

Lisa, from A Second Generation of Homeschooling is leading us at the well, and throwing out questions that are sure to keep us talking for awhile:

1. What daily tasks seem mundane or monotonous to you?
2. How can we change our outlook when completing these tasks?
3. What impact do these tasks have on our husband and children? How does it make a difference in their lives?
4. Is it okay to focus on earthly recognition when completing these tasks for our loved ones, or is receiving an eternal reward sufficient? What does Jesus think is more important? Should that be our focus, as well?

If you want to get just a glimpse of the very heart of God, go by Lisa's blog and read what she has to say while introducing this topic. It will get your brain juices flowing in the right direction. And by all means, sign up and give us your thoughts on the subject, even if you've never done so before. You'll enjoy the conversation that follows as a result.


When I saw this topic, I was intrigued by the phrase “Arise and Shine.” I had never thought of it in terms with tasks around the house before, but oh, what a lovely thought. An insightful and anointed one, for sure.

If I could truly approach each task in my day, even the boring ones, with that kind of attitude, how different my home would be—how different my faith would be.

A song popped into my head immediately that I used to teach to my preschool kids’ choir years ago. I think the Lord knew I needed a little bit of that song to light the fire under me in regard to this topic:

"Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,

To shine for Him each day;

In every way try to please Him,

At home, at school, at play.


A sunbeam, a sunbeam,

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;

A sunbeam, a sunbeam,

I’ll be a sunbeam for Him."

I don’t think it matters if I'm 5 or 50—Jesus wants me to shine for Him. So I’ll level with you now…where hasn’t the sun been beamin’ so brightly lately in my home as it pertains to this probe?

One word: Completion.

Don’t mind cooking, but I hate the cleaning up. I’ll wash your clothes, I’ll dry your clothes…I’ll even fold ‘em, but do I have to put ‘em away? I’ll buy the groceries, but it sure is tough to move it from countertop to cabinet. Oh, and the receipt for those groceries? Do I really have to tell you they’re stuffed in a wad in my purse?

This is getting way too personal…

But how has the Lord changed my outlook regarding these tasks?

One thought at a time.
One scripture at a time.
One piece of Godly advice at a time.
One call to the Lord for help at a time.

AS the Lord transforms me in my weaknesses, His strength clearly shines through.

Judges 5:31b
“But may they who love you be like the sun,
when it rises in its strength."

And when He beams through me, breaking through my humanness and weakness, it brings light to the whole family. It gives them hope. It gives them a standard. It gives them an example to follow.

So finishing what I start may seem mundane when I’m muddling through the everyday stuff, but really, it is just the opposite. It reaps eternal consequences. Can you imagine if Jesus had not finished the work the Lord gave Him to start?

No, putting my laundry away will not save a dying world from their sins, that is a fact. But it will demonstrate the Lord’s character in a way I’ve been chosen to do so—with the work He’s given me to do.

Colossians 3:17 (the Message) says:
"Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—
be done in the name of the Master, Jesus,
thanking God the Father every step of the way."

"I will ask Jesus to help me

To keep my heart from sin;

Ever reflecting His goodness,

And always shine for Him.


A sunbeam, a sunbeam,

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;

A sunbeam, a sunbeam,

I’ll be a sunbeam for Him."

Thank You Lord, for finishing the work You were given to do,
and the love You showed when You did so.
May I never see the everyday as ordinary in light of this extraordinary sacrifice of Yours.
Remind me, Lord, that I should have Your very attitude in all that I do,
and that you will light the fire of completion under my hands and feet
as I submit myself to Your will.
Forgive me for whining, Lord.
Reflect Your goodness and strength through me, Lord, I pray.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Reference: I'll Be a Sunbeam
Nellie Talbot
Copyright: Public Domain

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Chely Roach

I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith. Well, people submitted, and I was moved. That's where "Lifesong In the Limelight" on Saturdays was born:

This is where I introduce you to Chely, a friend of mine from She is a phenomenal writer, a passionate person and just all-around wonderful. She's started a new blogspot blog called Blissful Torture, and I know it is going to be AMAzing. Anyway, I'll get on with today's


Hard Pew, Hard Heart
By Michelle Roach

Before that February morning, I heard a thousand hymns, but never listened to a one. I held hymnals and programs in my hand, but never felt one devour my heart. I noticed the hardness of the pew under my rump, and the fervor of the preaching, but never noticed the hardness of my heart, or the passion of the Spirit in the preacher. The latter was the key to my deaf, dumb and blinded existence. Those first thousand hymns fell on the deaf ears of a lost soul.

In the summer of 2001, I finally fell on my face before Jesus. I truly believe that it’s harder to reach people like me for Christ; the ones that so firmly believe that we are already Christians—as if I inherited my faith like my freckles. I received an Easter basket every spring, and opened Christmas presents every winter…those were the "fruitful" signs I showed and observed to categorize faith. Sad.

Before my rebirth, I had searched out spirituality at a couple different churches; neither yielding relationships with Christ nor His followers. The music was lame, the preaching was lame, and the fellowship was the lamest. I went back to sleeping in on Sundays.

I wish I could say they after I was saved by grace, I fell right in line with how I should’ve been behaving. I didn’t. I was über-skeptical about “organized religion”, and continued to smoke acres of pot, among other less obvious sins.

But the Lord of Lords was still on His throne. And still whispering to me. He led me to Christian radio…not musical radio, but authentic, Biblically sound teaching radio. Every moment solidified my ever growing faith, and my ever growing conviction that I was a hopeless sinner. Worse yet, I was sinning on purpose. In parenting terms, I was being willfully disobedient, and quite deserving of some type of corporal discipline.

The whispers became shouts.

I began to research denominations and local churches. If I was going to re-immerse myself into a church, I had some criteria they had to meet. They had to be Biblically sound, not touchy-feely, have a balance of liturgy and contemporary, and be pro-life in word and deed. After months of inner debate, God led me to my church home.

But I didn’t go. I drove past it frequently, and browsed their website…but on Sunday I remained home.

The shouts became screams.

On a Tuesday morning in mid February, 2003, I prayed in the shower as I sobbed. I wanted to be obedient. But I needed His help. It was as if He replied, “I have been waiting two years for you to ask, my daughter.”

I permanently put down the drugs, and that Sunday, I went to church.

During the worship service, the congregation sang a hymn I had never heard. I didn’t know then that it was a relatively new song, written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend titled, In Christ Alone. Never in my life have four stanzas spoken more clearly to me, and to this day, I cannot think of a more eloquent or succinct description of the essence of the Gospel, set to music.

I remember a sensation of fullness swelling in my chest during the crescendo of each verse, stifling my lungs…making me gasp for air. The lyrics pummeled me, and then soothed me. For years as a nominal Christian, I would look sideways, almost doubting the charisma of people that would raise their hands in worship as they sang. I thought they were fakers or plain wackadoos. But that morning, as the climax of the song mounted—the resolution enraptured my soul, and I raised my hands to the stained glass rose window above the chancel, embracing the Holy Spirit. For the first time, I sang out praises to the Savior, in public, unashamed. “For I am His and He is mine—Bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

One hundred and ninety four words—sung with faith and fervor by about the same number of mouths—opened my eyes to the love that God has not just for me, but for His Church…His Bride.

And by His grace, those hard pews have softened at the same rate as my heart.

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Michele is a married women of ten years, who has recently been blessed with twin girls. When she is conscious and coherent, she loves to play with her toddlers, write whatever God puts on her heart, and volunteer at her local crisis pregnancy center in her hometown of St. Louis. You can read more of Michele's writings at her newest of several blogs, Blissful Torture, or at

In the Key of HE,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Home's Familiar Song

***Posted for Patty Wysong's Fiction Fridays meme. For more great fiction or to post your own fiction piece, click here:

Home's Familiar Song

As Meg climbed the concrete steps to the front porch, Loneliness dragged behind her. She’d buried her emotions throughout her entire first semester of college, but they had suddenly shot to the surface. A familiar melody calmed her demeanor, though, welcoming her home. Oh, how I’ve missed the sound of the wind chimes.

Meg’s mom hugged her at the door, then began chattering as usual. “Hi, Sweetheart. You okay? You look worn out. Let your brother take your bag. Are ya tired, Meg dear? Nathan, get her bag. Come inside and sit down, Sweetheart.”

“Mom—I’ve been driving for six hours. I’d rather stretch for a minute.”

After a big bear hug, Nathan grabbed her bag and ushered her into the family room. “Speaking of driving, Sis—read it—and weep.” Snapping a white slip of paper about an inch from Meg’s eyes, Nathan held his chin high in the air.

“My baby brother’s allowed to drive?” Meg grabbed it. “Oh, this is a problem…” she teased. “They misspelled your name.”

Nathan stripped the sheet from her hands. “Wha?”

Grinning, Meg took cover behind her mom.

“Now that deserves a thump from the—“ Nathan deepened his voice and bellowed, “—the FLICK MEISTER!” Reaching over his mother, he flicked a cherry on Meg’s forehead.

Meg shrieked like a schoolgirl.

“Okay, you two…” His face gleaming with pride, Meg’s dad limped as fast as he could to embrace her. “Oh, how I’ve missed you, Honey.”

“Me too, Daddy.”

“Come on to the table, Meg dear. Are you hungry? Been eatin’ okay? Yer awful skinny. Isn’t she skin-n-bones, George?”

“Mom—I’m eating fine. Just busy studying. And I walk to all my classes, so…”

Pulling out ‘her chair’ at the kitchen table, Meg’s dad led her by the arm to sit down. “Your mother made your favorite.”

Meg drank in the delicious smell of her mother’s chicken potpie. Ohhh—I’m gonna cry. Keep it together, Meg. The muffled tune of the wind chimes reached her just in time to calm her spirits. “It smells heavenly, Mom. You shouldn’t have done all this.”

She grabbed the potholder that Meg had knit for her in the fifth grade. “Now, Sweetie, what kind of homecomin’ would it be without some potpie? Besides, your brother said he’d do the dishes, didn’cha, Nathan? Kids today need more responsibility if you ask me, don’cha think, Meg dear?”

Egging it on, Meg shot Nathan a wink. “Definitely, Mom—uh huh. More responsibility.”

“It’s a conspiracy, Dad. She’s back home for like—two seconds, and already they’re gangin’ up on me.” Nathan flopped down in ‘his chair’ just to the right of Meg’s. “Nice to see nothin’s changed.”

“What’s a man gonna do, Son? We’re up against brains and beauty.”

Nathan leaned his elbow on Meg’s shoulder. “So, Miss Brains-n-Beauty, how many hearts you broken at your fancy schmanzy music college?”

Dripping with sarcasm, Meg said, “As many as you’ve broken with your bright red crayon in art class, Little Brother.”

“Touché,” Her dad said, giving Nathan a look to drop the subject.

Stomachs full, the family of four retreated to their usual conversation spot on the front porch. As was the custom, Meg and her dad sat together in the wooden swing, her mom in the rocking chair, and Nathan on the top step leaning against the iron railing. The wind chimes hanging above her head rang a soft, familiar tune. This feels so right. I’m home.

“So…you happy, Meg?” Her dad always had a way of surpassing small talk.

“Of course she’s happy, George. You’re doin’ whatcha love, right, Meg dear? It makes us happy just knowin’ you’re happy, doesn’t it, George? ” Her mom smiled nervously and nodded her head up and down while she rocked.

Loneliness could not stay quiet any longer. “Actually? I’m miserable…I miss my family.” Meg’s confession released her tears, and her daddy scooped her wet cheek to his shoulder.

Nathan swallowed hard. “We miss you too, Sis.”

Her mom’s rocking chair ceased its dancing. “Yes, Dear. It’s been awful quiet without you singin’ and playin’ the piano. Don’t we miss her singin’, George?”

Stroking Meg’s hair, her dad sighed. “This is what I miss. Us—as a family, right here on the porch. Talkin'. Laughin’. Prayin’.”

Meg felt a tear warm her scalp. “Me too, Dad.”

“Well…” George stood up and motioned for everyone to gather together. “Let’s do some of that prayin’ right now then.”

The wind chimes hummed in the background as they prayed.

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can I Borrow A Minute of Your Time?

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (The Message)
Love God, your God, with your whole heart:
love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!
Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts.
Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.
Talk about them wherever you are,
sitting at home or walking in the street;
talk about them from the time you get up in the morning
to when you fall into bed at night.
Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder;
inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

My friend Tim from sent this to me via email yesterday, and I thought the message was worth sharing. I googled it to see if an author existed and found the story plastered all over the internet. So obviously, not new, but it bears repeating. Also, I think Tim "cleaned it up" a bit from its original version, so I thought that was cool too. Whatcha think?

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, only to find his 6-year-old son waiting for him at the door.

“Daddy, may I please ask you a question?”

“Okay… yeah, sure, what is it?” replied the man.

“Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”

“That's NONE of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.

“I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”

“If you must know, I make $50 an hour.”

“Oh,” the little boy replied, with his head down, then looked back up.

“Daddy, may I please borrow…ummm… $25?”

The father was furious, “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you’re being so selfish. I don't work hard every day for such childish frivolities.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. His father sat down and started to get even angrier about his little son's questions.

How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down , and started to think: maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $25.00--and he really didn't ask for money very often--The man went to the little boy's room and opened the door. “Are you asleep, son?” he asked.

“No daddy, I'm awake,” replied the boy.

“I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man. “It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the $25 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling. “Oh, thank you Daddy!” he yelled with delight. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled-up bills.

The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again.

The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

“Why do you want more money if you already have some?” the father grumbled.

“Because I didn't have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied. “Daddy, I have $50 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness. 

It's just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts.

If we die tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of hours. But the family & friends we leave behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives.

Do remember to share that $50 worth of your time with someone you love.

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Quick Wit and A Stiff Neck

Hey all, as you know I've been rather busy lately. Tis the season in my life! ;) Anyway, many of you probably don't even know that I have a totally separate devotional ministry where I send out devotionals and fiction stories from my regular ministry website , so I thought I would post one of them from awhile back. I hope it ministers to you today.

God has gifted me with a quick, dry wit. Constantly, I hear catch phrases that ring in my mind and cause it to answer. It’s a blessing and a curse. Some people are drawn to it; others probably run the other direction as soon as they see me just to avoid it. If you could be inside my mind for one day, I guarantee you would either be greatly entertained or incredibly concerned. Anyway, I’ll get to the point of why I’m mentioning it.

One day recently, I woke up with excruciating pain in my neck. While issues with my neck are common, this day was worse than normal, as it wouldn’t even relent to the pain medicine. Halfway through the day, Wit spoke up: “What a pain in the neck!” I chuckled in my mind. Later in the day, she spoke up again: “You stiff-necked woman!” That one wasn’t quite as funny to me, of course, as it reminded me of the stubborn Israelites.

As I awoke that next morning, the pain woke with me. I couldn’t even move my neck from side to side without a wince. I was thankful for Mrs. Wit’s humor to keep me amused along the way.

What amazes me is that God often uses these little illustrations in life to strike me and remind me of Himself. As I spent time in prayer, the Holy Spirit reminded me of some unconfessed sin in my life. I was quick to deal with it.

Then He brought to my mind some areas of complacency and unbelief. I gave those over.

Then a tucked away verse woke up my memory: “Do not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” That sent me on a trail of trying to figure out what this means to a Christian, and more importantly, to me:
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’”
Hebrews 3:12-15

Though I’ve read this verse many times before, the Lord showed me this time that it is possible as a mature believer to turn away from Him with sin or unbelief.

Before, when I’ve envisioned “turning away from the living God,” I’ve thought of a BIG turning away, kind of like the prodigal son. I picture a monumental decision to leave the Christian life to seek my own pleasure.

While that is certainly a possibility here, I don’t believe it is the only one. It says, “BUT encourage one another DAILY.” Wow---I can actually deal with a sinful, unbelieving heart on a daily basis?!?!?

One of the things about sin is that it can tiptoe up on is deceitful. It wants to make us believe that we will be unaffected from the repercussions of a wishy-washy lifestyle, but read on: “We have come to share in Christ IF WE HOLD FIRMLY TILL THE END the confidence we had at first.”

We want to share in Christ, don’t we? Do we still have the confidence IN Him to live rightly BEFORE Him? Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

To walk humbly requires a daily giving over of ourselves. If we’re not careful, sneaky sin can convince us that we don’t have time to do this or that it’s not necessary....we can become a “stiff-necked” people, if you will. So what is the answer for us?

The answer is found in Psalm 95:2-8a:
“Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods; In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. COME—let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. TODAY, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts....”

Let’s stretch our necks out for Him today, noticing His creation on the left, His blessings on the right, and His provision right in front of us. As He shares this with us, may it cause us to look UP, renewing in us the confidence to hold on firmly all the way to the end.

© Copyright 2007 Laura L. Shaw
All scripture references are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

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In the Key of HE,

Monday, October 20, 2008

For My Friend In Pain

I was looking for a way to comfort a friend of mine in tremendous pain right my search, I came across one of my favorite comfort songs of all time. It was also one of my mom's favorites. Don Moen's worship songs are always so incredibly anointed and relevant.

So for you, Laury, I am praying. And for anyone else hurting, please consider allowing this song recorded live minister to your soul:

In the Key of HE,

Maybe We Should Hang Out At The Well Longer...

Natalie at I am (not) is hosting At the Well today, and wow, is her place beautiful!!! What a perfect person to host this week's topic: Our homes. She says, "Our home is an extension of who we are. How does your home reflect who you are?"

This is an incredible subject, so well, why don't we hang out a little longer at the well? Sure, it would be more comfy to sit in my cafe style living room sipping a freshly brewed latte from my espresso machine, but my laundry is stacked a mile high, dirty dishes line my counter and sink, and well, my kids may or may not be out of their pajamas yet. No, I'm thinkin' we better just stay here. It's easier than having to admit that I'm a classified, certified "Messy." Thank goodness I don't live in a glass house. I'm thinkin' a stained glass one is more in order. Catch my drift?

This would've been my exact thoughts a few years ago, but God has set me free from them. First of all, He's helped me to develop the discipline to at least keep things picked up, AND to make my kids responsible to help around the house. Secondly, He's helped me to accept the way I'm wired. Not everyone is built to be a Domestic Diva, and that's okay. The Lord wants us to be good stewards of what He's given us, so we must develop the discipline to do so. But He also wants us to be good stewards of our gifts, our talents and our salvation. It's a constant balancing act, but I believe my home reflects that balance most of the time.

If our home is an extension of who the Shaws are, then what you will see is a family who is seeking to follow the Lord's priorities for us. Sometimes, the homefront is messy and unstructured while our service to others is in full force. Every now and then, the smell of pine cleaner mixed with coffee will seep through the screen windows, hopefully with a melody of loud praise songs bursting from my daughters and me (and no, I don't let them drink the coffee...that's so I can keep up with them). My teenage son does his share of chores as well, but his tune is more of a grunt and a few deep groans. ;)

I think...maybe...I hope that if our family lived in a glass house, that people would instantly want to come in. I hope they could see past the occasionally messiness and lack of structure and see our hearts instead. I pray that they would want to join in with our devotion times and prayer times. I have a feeling they would enjoy being entertained by my two highly imaginative daughters. Maybe they would even enjoy playing some basketball in the backyard or playing a game of the Wii with my son. Hey, I wouldn't mind a little help with the homeschool work, either. ;) They might want to skip meal time, but snack time is pretty nice... They would see a lot of laughter and just as many tears. Hopefully, our realness and lack of pretense would draw them in and not scare them away. We often pray that we would be a home undivided with hearts that serve the Lord. We've got a ways to go there, though. ;)

So that's my story. Have I made you want to come for a visit or have I scared you away? Regardless, you're welcome anytime, but you miiiiiiiiight want to leave your expectations for perfection at the door. Purty please? ;)

Joshua 24:15b
" for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Laurie Ann

I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith. Well, people submitted, and I was moved. That's where "Lifesong In the Limelight" on Saturdays was born:

So allow me to share Laurie Ann's song testimony that she posted on her blog: A Magnolia's Heart Beats. I hope her authenticity and passion move you as much as it did me...


The song, I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb, deeply changed my life. Instaneously. I heard it sung in church by a friend who sang it 10x better than the original author/recorder, and this southern baptist girl was on her feet by the time the song ended - a huge step for reserved Laurie Ann, who almost jumped up and fled out of fear the first time she heard applause in a new church at the age of 14. Grew up in the same church all my life till then, and when we changed, even though it was still southern baptist, they clapped after a song was sung and it scared the fool out of me. But this is not about that. This is about how this song moved me so much that I was standing on my feet by the song's end.

I was deeply moved in spirit by God asking me three distinct questions. During the song! (No, not out loud. I would have left the building for sure if He spoke to me audibly, although I think I have heard Him whisper before, but that's another post.)

1) Do you pledge your whole allegiance to Me? (Yes, God.)
2) Would you die for Me? (Yes, God.)
3) Are you really ready to reject the world and embrace the Cross no matter what? (Huh? Yes, God, but I'm scared.)

Because I chose to reject the world and embrace His Cross in total and complete obedience to Him, I immediately knew it was going to cost me a friend. A dear friend. She had referred to my God as the Sky Fairy, and I had been praying about how to respond to her post. Was I to try to back off from sharing my faith with her, perhaps pushing her farther away? Was I to respond to her post in love and with forgiveness? No, God is not to be mocked, and I knew I had to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb. In losing my friendship with her, I lost connection with about 9 other women with whom I felt inseparable at the time. Only one friend remained, and she emailed me the other day and told me she had found God. It was worth it to reject the world and embrace the Cross, pledging my total allegiance to God, and being willing to die for Him (my life was not threatened as this "friend" posted this offense from a gazillion states away and I only saw her once a year). But the question was asked, "Are you willing...?" Yes, God.

I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb as sung by Ray Boltz (no endorsement of Mr. Boltz, but he does have a great voice.)

I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb

as sung by Ray Boltz

CHORUS: I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength
With all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

I have heard how Christians long ago
Were brought before a tyrant’s throne
They were told that he
Would spare their lives
If they would renounce
The name of Christ
But one by one they chose to die
The Son of God, they would not deny
Like a great angelic choir sings
I can almost hear their voices ring

CHORUS I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength
With all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

Now the years have come
And the years have gone
And the cause of Jesus still goes on
Now our time has come
To count the cost
To reject this world
To embrace the Cross

And one by one let us live our lives
For the One who died to give us life
Till the trumpet sounds on the final day
Let us proudly stand and boldly say
©1994 Word Music/ASCAP (a div. of Word, Inc.) and Shepherd Boy Music/ASCAP (adm. by Word, Inc.).

Laurie Ann loves her family, her friends and sweet tea. She married her best friend 17 years ago and falls in love with him again each day. The nest is empty but fills up again and again with frequent visits from her bonus daughter, son-in-law and grandsons. Her heart beats to serve her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please join her at her blog: A Magnolia's Heart Beats where her heart shines with humor, depth, authenticity and Truth in each and every post.

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dueling Duo

Dee at My Heart's Dee-light is hosting Fiction Fridays today, so hop on over there for more great fiction.

Dueling Duo

Jan jerked the slippery strap of her purse back onto her shoulder for the umpteenth time. She could feel her frustration rising with each strained step.

“I SO do not need this today,” she grumbled. “Stupid school. This’d better be important.”

She flipped her overgrown bangs from her face as she approached her son’s fifth grade classroom. Opening the door, her purse slid down to her wrist yet again. She grumbled and then looked up to see that Mrs. Kern was not alone.

“Helen?” Jan grimaced at the sight of her mother-in-law sitting in front of Mrs. Kern’s desk. Just add to my nightmare.

Helen smirked, looking at her watch. “Yes, Jan, at least one of us was here on time.”

“Well, some of us have a full-time-job,” Jan snipped.

“I had a job, too, remember? It was called Full-Time Mom.”

Mrs. Kern cleared her throat. “Hello, Mrs. Jacobs. The other Mrs. Jacobs and I have already become acquainted.”

Reaching out to shake Mrs. Kern’s hand, Jan was suddenly aware of the pitiful scene her son’s teacher had just witnessed. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Kern. I’m sorry, Helen. I’ve just had a tough day.”

“And I’m sorry, too. That was disrespectful of us to carry on in front of you, Lois.”

Did she just call Mrs. Kern “Lois”? Talk about disrespectful.

“It’s okay.” Mrs. Kern forced a semi-smile on her face and continued. “The reason I called you both in here today is to discuss Justin with you.”

Helen gasped. “Justin’s not in trouble, is he?”

“No,” Mrs. Kern reassured her. “He’s a good kid. But—um—he’s been rather—sad lately.”

“Sad? What on earth makes you think he’s sad?” Helen squawked.

“Helen, just let her talk, for goodness’ sake.”

Mrs. Kern squirmed in her chair. “Well, he hasn’t been participating much, and he’s been doodling and daydreaming during the time that he’s supposed to be learning.”

“You called us here about some doodling and daydreaming?” Jan complained.

“Well,” Helen chastised, “some people would call that a problem.”

Jan deliberately ignored Helen’s remarks. “So, Mrs. Kern, if you don’t mind my asking, why did you choose to involve Justin’s grandmother with this?”

“She obviously doesn’t think his mother will take care of it on her own,” Helen mumbled, tucking her chin in her neck.

Clearing her throat a second time, Mrs. Kern brought out some papers from her top desk drawer. “I want you to see the poem Justin wrote for English class. Since both of you are subjects of the content, I thought it wise to invite both of you to come in and read it. But before I show it to you, I’d like to tell you one more thing: After class on the same day he turned in the poem, Justin asked if he could have it back. Now I had already read it, but he didn’t know that. I thought maybe he was embarrassed and wanted to re-write it. However, when he returned it to me, he had added the last stanza. That last stanza is the reason I asked you here today. Please take your time reading it and discussing what Justin felt compelled to share. Thank you for coming.”

At that, Mrs. Kern handed them a copy of the poem and made a deliberate exit, shutting the door behind her.

Unsettling silence hung over them as they each read Justin’s poem.
Dueling Voices
by Justin H. Jacobs

Mom tucks me in and reads me a story.
Grandma gives me hugs and tells me not to worry.
Mom sings me songs and helps me with my math.
Grandma tells me jokes and always makes me laugh.

But I’m sick of them both just acting like kids!
Don’t they know what it’s like when they blow their lids?
I wonder why they can’t just try to get along.
The Bible says that their attitudes are wrong.

As my teacher, can you please give them both a detention?
Then—maybe then—it will get their attention.
“Gramma, love my mom. She’s your son’s loving wife.”
“Mom, respect Gramma. She’s lived a long, wise life.”

They looked up at each other, stunned.

Helen’s face was as white as a blank sheet of paper. Jan shifted awkwardly in her seat, pinching the temple of her throbbing forehead. The sound of the school bell shattered their silence.

“Well, well, well,” Helen declared, “I do believe that Mrs. Kern has given us an after-school detention.”

“Yes, Helen—And Justin’s definitely managed to get our attention.”

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Oh, how Amy Carmichael has ministered to my soul this morning, and I pray she does for you as well. The trials come, my friends, and when they do, we must put our wading boots on and grab the Lord's hand. Here's how Amy puts it:

"I want to give you a word that helped me all yesterday and will help me today. It is the "through" of Psalm 84:6 and of Isaiah 43:2, taken with Song of Songs 8:5.*

We are never staying in the valley or the rough waters; we are only passing through them, just as the bride in the Song of Songs is seen coming up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved.

So whatever the valley is, or however rough the waters are, we won't fear. Leaning upon our Beloved, we shall come up from the wilderness and, as Psalm 84:6 says, even use the valley as a well, make it a well. We shall find the living waters there and drink of them."

Psalm 84:6 (ASV): "Passing through the valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs."
Isaiah 43:2 (KJV): "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee."
Song of Songs 8:5 (KJV): "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?"

~Excerpt taken from Candles In The Dark by Amy Carmichael

Friends, when we wade through the valley of weeping, may we drink from the Living Water. And when we come out dripping, may we also be leaning securely upon our Beloved Father. This is what I want. It is my heart's desire. Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Catrina Bradley

I'm trying something new on Saturdays. I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith. Well, people submitted, and I was moved.

This is where I introduce you to Catrina Bradley. I loved the testimony she submitted, and well, she is a woman of many talents. She is a phenomenal writer with a HUGE heart for the Lord. That's why I chose her for my very first...


Sit back and allow Cat to minister to you today...Thank you, Catrina, for livin' your lifesong outloud! ;)

The Change
by Catrina Bradley

One song got me onto that infamous straight and narrow path. One song turned my life around, and truly changed the way I live.

Before I started listening to Christian music, I was a die-hard rock & roll fan. Classic rock, new rock, oldie rock – just rock me. I especially like to sing in the shower. I’m all alone, and the acoustics are awesome. The radio in our bathroom at that time used a dial to set the station. One day, I dialed in the classic rock station and jumped in the shower. It wasn’t until I was sudsy and dripping that the commercial ended and the next song came on. Instead of Z93, I had landed on that Christian station right next door. (Not the first time they’re only .4 mHz away.) The music was ok, but I was lamenting.

As I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, another song came on. This one actually had a pretty cool sound. I started listening. I might be able to get into this. I even had a bunch of that stuff he's singing about. Yah, I do that! I'm good

Wait. What did he just say?

I actually stuck my head out of the shower door, then turned the water off so I could hear better.

The singer was asking a question. “What about the change? What about the difference? …What about a life that’s showing I’m undergoing the change?”

Now, I’d been a believer all my life, but was seriously lapsed in the following part. I’d recently joined a Bible study group at work, and had become enamoured with studying and learning more about Jesus.

I kept listening to the lyrics. I was enthralled.

“If God’s Spirit lives inside of me, I’m going to live life differently.”


I made sure I listened at the end so I could hear the artist’s name. That was the first time I’d ever heard of Steven Curtis Chapman. From then on, I started checking the station when I sent station surfing in the car, hoping to hear that song again. (It was only one tap of the search button from the classic station.)

Now days, I listen to Christian music pretty much exclusively. I have the CD and can listen to The Change anytime I want to. And my life IS showing the change.

Steven Curtis Chapman

Well I got myself a t shirt that says what I believe
I got letters on my bracelet to serve as my id
I got the necklace and the key chain
And almost everything a good christian needs yeah
I got the little Bible magnets on my refrigerator door
And a welcome mat to bless you before you walk across my floor
I got a jesus bumper sticker
And the outline of a fish stuck on my car
And even though this stuffs all well and good yeah
I cannot help but ask myself

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
What about a life thats showing
I’m undergoing the change yeah
I’m undergoing the change

Well Ive got this way of thinking that comes so naturally
Where I believe the whole world is revolving around me
And I got this way of living that I have to die to every single day
cause if gods spirit lives inside of me yeah
I’m gonna live life differently

I’m gonna have the change
I’m gonna have the difference
I’m gonna have the grace
I’m gonna have forgiveness
I’m gonna live a life thats showing
I’m undergoing the change

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
I want to live a life thats showing
I’m undergoing the change

Catrina Bradley grew up in Iowa, but now calls Georgia home. She is happily married to her much better half, has a wonderful 23 year-old daughter, and a precious, long-haired dachshund named Lady. You can find more of Catrina's writings at her blog, A Work In Progress and at

In the Key of HE,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tangled Reflections

Yvonne at My Back Door is hosting Fiction Fridays today, so hop on over there for more great fiction.

The bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day. Nancy’s grim face was lined with frustration, and her eight-year-old daughter was shrieking with anger.

“Moooooom, You’re hurrrrrrrrting my head! STOP!” Splotchy patches of pink covered Melissa’s tear-stained face.

“I’ve told you a hundred times to comb your hair every day, Missy.” Nancy’s biting continued. “These are your consequences. When you don’t comb your hair out, it gets tangles. Then when you do try to comb your hair out, it hurts. It’s as simple as that.” She couldn’t help patterning the strokes of the hairbrush after the rhythm of her nagging tone.

“OUCH, not so hard, Mom. It hurrrts.”

Her shrill sobbing sent a twinge of pain through Nancy’s forehead. “Yeah, well it hurts me when you don’t obey me. Your room is a mess. The house is a mess. YOU’RE a mess.”

Having had enough of her mom’s condescending tone and painful grooming, Melissa shouted, “FINE, then give me the brush and I’LL fix it.” She yanked angrily away from her mother and grabbed the sweaty hairbrush from her.

“Go ahead, you do that!” Nancy slammed the bathroom door behind in a huff.

I’m so sick of the whining. Doesn’t she know how much that grates on my nerves? Nancy grabbed a wet towel off the floor and started up again. “Wrinkled wet towels get moldy, you know.”

As she stomped through Missy’s messy room, she stepped on a sharp Lego. “ow, Ow, OW!” She could still hear her daughter sobbing behind the closed door as she hopped on one foot through the hallway.

Why do I even bother? “NOBODY helps me around here, and I’m just so sick of all the mess. PLEASE STOP CRYING.”

“I hate it when you’re frustrated! Why can’t you just be patient?” Melissa lashed out at her mother loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.

Even through the walls, Melissa’s tantrum sent waves of frustration through Nancy’s body. She put her hands over her ears and proceeded to the kitchen. “Better start getting supper ready. Who even cares that I haven’t had a chance to clean up from lunch yet?” She slammed a pot down on the stove burner. “No ONE. That’s what I thought.”

She looked out her kitchen window and noticed a hummingbird outside as she washed her hands. Her stained-glass sun catcher reflected a convicting message: 'And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.'

All of a sudden, she noticed the house was totally silent. Oh, thank goodness, she’s finally quit crying. "I’m so sorry, Lord. Please help me to spread peace instead of anger.”

Nancy began to feel compassion for the small trauma that her daughter was experiencing and decided she would turn it into a teachable moment. I’m the mother. I’m supposed to be the calm one. Before she could get to her, the wailing had begun again.

“Ma-maaaaaa. Help!”

Nancy ran the rest of the way. When she opened the bathroom door and looked at her daughter in the mirror, she could not believe her eyes. Although her heart was racing, she kept a tender tone. “Sweetheart, what did you do?”

Little Melissa was standing in a pile of jet-black hair. She sniffled and whimpered in between words. “I—was--sooo—mad—at—you. I wanted to make you mad, but now…” She looked in the mirror again and started to yowl. “Now look at iiiiiit. I look like a weeeirrrrrdoooo.”

Scooping Melissa up in her arms, she overcame the horror she felt at the sight of her beautiful daughter’s hair. It was ruined beyond help. Melissa’s school scissors lay on the vanity surrounded by locks of tangled curly hair.

God, please help me work through this tangled mess I’ve made.

“Sweet Missy, I am so sorry for my anger,” Nancy whispered into her daughter’s hair-filled ears. As she noticed a near bald spot right above her ear, she kissed it tenderly. “Next time we’re mad at each other, Mommy will just stop and say a prayer, okay?”

Melissa whimpered. “I’m sorry, too. She dug her shagged hair into her mama’s neck. “I feel so ugly, Mama. Can we stop and pray now?”

Yes, the bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day. Nancy’s grim face was lined with regret, and her eight-year-old daughter was sobbing with sorrow. But the glorious reflection of God’s grace shone brightly through it all as they prayed.

*Scripture reference taken from the NIV.

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Get It While The Gettin's Good!

“The grabbing hands grab all they can. Everything counts in large amounts….” These were the lyrics ringing through our speaker system after my husband bought a CD remix of a popular group out of the ‘80s.1 It is amazing to me how true these words are in our culture and our world today. Allow me to share an example. A few months back I was watching a live concert on television, I can’t remember which channel. Anyway, it was a beautifully harmonized, robed choir singing another song out of the ‘80s (I’m showing my age, aren’t I?): ”We are the world, we are the children. We’re the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start givin’.”2 The extremely large crowd was swaying with every arm way up high in the air. Their eyes were closed, and it looked as if some sort of revival was about to take place.

As corny as this sounds, I actually got goose bumps. Those dissolved as quickly as they came, however, when the crowd began to roar over a popular celebrity who walked out on stage (the one who recorded the song). As the shining star took over the spotlight, he took off his leather jacket, lassoed it in the air and tossed it into the crowd. Well, the hands that were just surrendered in the declaration to “start giving” began fighting over that leather jacket. Thank goodness they didn’t have candles or the place would’ve been on fire! All the while, the robed choir moved forward to surround and sing with the celebrity, and you could actually see certain members nudging each other out of the way so they could be closest to him. Yup, we are the world, and sometimes we act like children….

As easy as the cynicism flows and the judgment follows, the Lord wants us to take these kinds of situations to search our own attitudes. Before we look at the speck of greed in the crowd, we need to look at the planks of selfishness in ourselves (Matthew 7:3 applied in this context). As Christians, what do we grab while the grabbin’s good? Some of the things that come to my mind are food (super-size me!), the last pair of shoes on the rack, the road (that lane is mine!), the front pew at church, the closest parking spot, as well as the remote control after a hard day’s work. Some of us even feel a need to rush to the spotlight for some well deserved attention or to fight over the open position at our jobs. The list goes on and on, and we can somehow force ourselves to believe this mentality is needed to get ahead in life, or at the very least, to survive this life.

Jesus’ way of thinking is the opposite; instead, He teaches in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first His righteousness,” and in 6:19 NOT “to store up for ourselves treasures on this earth.” Does this mean we can’t have possessions? No, but He wants us to come empty-handed, seeking Him before all else.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
1 Timothy 6:17-19

If we believe these words, then is it possible our entire mentality needs a makeover? It’s not just about grabbing things, as in possessions; it’s also about having an attitude of “I deserve this” or “It’s my turn now.” It's saying, "I serve a lot in this church, so they better listen to my opinions." Or "I've worked hard this week. I deserve a pat on the back now and then." And "I am entitled to this person, place or circumstance." You fill in the blank.

Jesus could’ve had anything He wanted, but He spent His life giving—He opened his hands and arms wide in His living AND in His death. He wants us to understand this message and get it while the gettin’s good, my friends. THIS is the thing we need to be quick to nab. So let’s “DO good, be rich in good deeds, being generous and willing to share,” grabbing hold of THE LIFE that is truly life—the one that seeks Jesus each and every day in every way in all that we do and say….with open hands, we pray. Amen.

1 Lyrics taken from the song Everything Counts by Depeche Mode
2 Lyrics taken from the song We Are The World by Michael Jackson

In the Key of HE,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Faith-Colored Glasses

Betsy at Just Another Clay Pot is hosting Fiction Fridays today, so hop on over there for more great fiction.

This is my fiction piece based loosely on some of my own circumstances growing up. Fiction with some truth sprinkled in...

Faith-Colored Glasses

FOUR EYES, your mom walks funny!”

I was the only one who wore glasses in the third grade. “My name’s BECKY! And your mom would walk funny, too, if her car had been run over by a semi-truck.”

Their relentless teasing continued. “Oh yeah? Well, maybe if she’d had
BIG, THICK glasses like yours, she wouldn’t have crashed!” They stuck their noses in the air, snickering their way into the school.

I hate my life.


Dad was in his typical after-work reclined position.

“Becky, just shut up for two seconds, you little brat. I’m tryin’ to watch TV.”

Yuck—his breath stinks.

“Hey Lynn, bring me another beer.”

Get it yourself, you lazy bum. Mom has a headache.

He glared at me. “What are you lookin’ at, Stupid? GET-OUTTA-HERE!”

I hate my life.


My choir director had bought me a brand new dress for the occasion--the most exciting dance in the 8th grade--assuring me that I should go.

“Hey, Becky, where’s your dad? This is a
DADDY/Daughter dance.”

“He doesn’t live with us anymore.”

“Thaaat’s right. He lives at that—
(finger snap)—that—(finger snap)—oh yeah, that tavern on the west side of town…orrrr is it the one on the east side?”

My face caught on fire, and I bolted out of there in tears.

I hate my life.


“Mrs. Connor? Hi, it’s Becky. Um, I’m going to have to miss the senior concert tonight. Mom’s in the hospital again. I’m so sorry, they’re not sure what’s wrong with her…”

They’re never sure what’s wrong with her.

“…Yeah, well, I have to get to the hospital. She’s asking for me.”

Like I can do anything.

I was ashamed of my tears. “So much for my solo.”

I hate my life.


“Wow, Becky—I can’t believe the way you just put a smile on that little girl’s face. No one else has been able to do that. How do you get inside these troubled kids’ heads?”

It felt so good to have someone compliment me for once. “Well, I guess you could say I understand them.”

Maybe there’s a purpose for my life.


I can’t believe I’m here singing in front of the whole college.

“When we walk with the Lord,
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way.”

Thank You for shedding Your light on my way, Lord.

“When we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
Even more when we trust and obey.” *

Lord, I accepted You as my Savior when I was six. "Now I want to obey You through ALL my circumstances."

I trust You with my life, God.


“Whatcha’ thinkin’ about? Earth to Mom,” asked my daughter.

I scooped her in my arms, then pushed her glasses back onto her nose. “Hi, ‘Lil Dumplin,’ I was just taking a trip down memory lane.”

“Thinkin’ about Gramma again?”

“Yeah, her, among other things.”


“Like the day I began to trust Jesus with my life. I hated my life before then.”

“Daddy says you had an icky childhood.”

“Yeah, it was pretty icky, Punkin’, but you know what? After I said, ‘Okay, Lord, here’s my
ick in all its ickiness. Will you please make something of it?’—after I did that, He gave me a special gift.”

Her eyes twinkled with excitement. “What was it, Mommy?”

“A thick pair of faith-colored glasses. And I wore them from that day forward.”

“Faith-colored glasses? Cooooool! What did Gramma look like after you put ‘em on?”

“Different. She still walked crooked…She still had a rough time of it with her brain damage from the car wreck, but…all of a sudden, I noticed
new things about her.”


“Like how she loved her Bible. How she desperately depended on God for strength. How often she prayed.”

“Wow! That sounds just like
you, Mommy.” She pushed up my glasses with her index finger.

I held her close to me. “It does, huh?”

“You know, I think I got a pair of faith-colored glasses, too--at Gramma’s funeral.”


She sat up on her knees. “Welllll, I was lookin’ at Gramma’s picture, and I imagined her dancing in Heaven with Jesus. Brand new legs and everything.”

“Yes, honey, those are the same glasses.” She wiped the tear from my cheek.

“I thought so.” She decided it was time to go play.

“Bye, sweetie. Thanks for givin’ Mama sugar.”

“Sure, no problem…FOUR EYES!” Giggles.

“Hey, YOU, look who’s talkin’?”

I love my life.


Ephesians 1:18-19a, NIV
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints,
and His incomparably great power for us who believe…”

* Trust and Obey—Words: John H. Sammis, 1887. Music: Daniel B. Towner

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

LauraLee's Lifesong 100th Post Giveaway


It's time to announce the winner of:

WEll, it's my 100th post, and I'm so excited to spend it giving stuff away. Thanks so much to all who not only entered the contest, but took the time to share their lifesongs with me and others. In all, fourteen people entered. Cool!

If you'll recall I mentioned that anyone who would post a testimony about a song that had greatly impacted their lives and how, would be qualified to enter. Whoever posted it on a website, blog or other public forum got his or her name in the hat twice. Whoever posted it as a comment or by way of email, once. So in all, there were 26 names in the hat--not bad, eh?

Here's my son Austin after mixing up the names in the hat before the drawing:

He mixed the names around really well and held the hat up high while I chose the name. I would've taken a picture of it except that he was holding the hat, and I was drawing. Besides that, I'm not picture-worthy today. LOL.

Soooooo, without further ado, here is Austin after I drew the name, literally chomping on the results:

Let me introduce you to Leah Orcutt. She is a fellow Faithwriter with an incredible gift for writing, and though I don't know her personally, her beautiful heart is quite evident in everything she writes. You can see her Lifesong Testimony by clicking here:

Walk By Faith

Congratulations, Leah. I'll tell you what you've won in JUuuuuust a minute.

To the rest of you who posted your testimony, I would like to offer you an opportunity to have it included in something new I'm going to try out on Saturdays called "Lifesong in the Limelight." I will have a guest blogger in a post that day sharing a testimony of some kind, either about a song or music, or even just a way that the Lord worked in his or her life recently.
Would you consider letting me post it here and refer back to your blog or webpage? If so, reply to me on this post and let me know. I truly believe there are fewer tools more powerful for evangelism and teaching than someone's testimony. Thank you for participating and for considering this!

Okay, I'm hearing the game show voice: "TELL HER WHAT SHE'S WON, BOB! er um LauraLee!" So are you ready?

First, I wanted to give Leah a copy of a book that is very dear to my heart (although I was going to come up with a different one if a guy won, LOL). I contributed six pieces to this book, and there are 25 other contributing authors. It is Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving An Extraordinary God by Jan Ross and Jeanice McDade. It is rich with testimonies and stories...women sharing their Lifesongs. I hope you'll enjoy it, Leah.

Also, I promised some music, so I want to offer Leah the choice between these CDs:

Hillsong's "This is Our God"

Bart Millard's "Hymned Again"

or Casting Crown's "The Altar and The Door Live"

Again, I am so thankful for all of you. You've blessed my week with your testimonies. Thank you!!!!

In the Key of HE,