Monday, December 29, 2008

Stop! Say What?

We were watching a movie with a heavy script. The music in the background was booming, but the words were muffled. “What did they just say?” We clicked backwards so that we could listen to it again. This happened several times throughout the movie, but we kept rewinding. After all, it wouldn’t be a complete movie experience if we couldn’t process the words….

While reading Psalm 143 the next morning, I had a similar occurrence.

(vs 5 & 6) “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done. I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” Selah

STOP! SAY WHAT? Selah….“

“Pause,” “Reflect….think about it,” “Selah”—Say what? Say-lah! STOP! REWIND! Listen again. Soak it in!

“You won’t have an effective personal experience with Me today if you don’t process My words,” the Lord reminded me in my spirit.

The word “Selah” is found over 70 times in Psalms, and most commentators believe that the songwriters placed it there to pause in the singing and bring in the instruments, thus giving “sink in time” to the words previously uttered. This comes to mind when a musical interlude comes in the middle of a worship song. I think, “Selah. Stop! What did I just sing? Did I really mean the compliment I just gave to Jesus? What commitment did I make? Wait! Which sins did I just confess?” The same attitude can be applied when we’re asked to push the pause button of our minds while reading the Word.

Let’s take a Selah right now and meditate on the Scripture above: “I remember the days of long ago;” Reflect on the “God stuff” in those days instead of the circumstantial things. What did the Lord do in your life? What were you like before you were saved?

“I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done.” Remember times of protection, instruments of change, people who were Jesus to you. If you could roll back the tapes in the spiritual world, how many times could you see God’s hand at work?

”I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” As you take the time to do what the Psalm writer intended for you to do, your parched soul, your tired self will begin to thirst again for the Lord to have His way with you today. Selah.

Continue on….(vs 8-10)

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in You.
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God;
may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

This is the beginning of a complete experience with the Lord, friends: A Selah moment of pausing, then reflecting—then committing to go the rest of the way for an ongoing personal relationship with our Lord through the presence of the Spirit, praising Him as the “play” button of our lives continues, sometimes even in fast forward mode.

Stop! Take a Selah.
To be continued….

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Word-Filled, Light-Filled Christmas Eve!!!!

Merry Word-Filled Christmas Eve! May all who see and know us find His light shining brightly through us!

Lord, I am so humbled by your gift of life and light this Christmas. You constantly pierce through the deepest and darkest corners of my heart and expose what I've tried to hide there. May Your light in me reveal Your love and Truth to others, dear Lord. This Christmas, may no darkness be found in me. Thank You for Jesus. I worship, admire and awe over Him today. In His name I pray, Amen.

For more Word-Filled Wednesday and for visual inspiration from Scripture, hike on over to:

In the Key of HE,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fragrant Gifts

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany…
Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor…
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume;
she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
John 12:1-3

Talk about your extravagant gift. How I would love to be in Mary’s skin during this act of worship to Jesus, to be able to express my love for Him in person so elaborately. I can only daydream!

I wonder, though. Would I really have traded places with her? She poured a perfume worth a year’s wages on His head. Then she proceeded to coat His feet with it in front of all those people...with her hair! Would I have shown Jesus I adore Him with that much abandon?

The most precious thing I have to offer Him is myself. The gifts that came first from His hand--my spiritual gifts--are as valuable as that fine perfume if they are offered from a pure and humble heart. After all, using them is my “spiritual act of worship.”

Yet I miss the point of this more often than not. I’ve been guilty of leaving my “bottle of perfume” on the shelf, afraid of what others will think of its scent. Fear, Insecurity and Laziness are familiar culprits of my flesh that work to give my gifts a long shelf life.

Of course, I am also guilty sometimes of spraying it on only when I can assure it will smell good to others. In the name of peace, I don’t want to offend anyone. Or worse, I might be ridiculed.

The worst mistake of all is when I use my spiritual gifts to my own benefit. I saturate myself in them so that others cannot help but be attracted to the “Good Smell Contest Winner"—ME! “Hi, Mom!”

Each day, I have opportunities to use the gifts God has given me, and each day, I make a choice. When I turn to the Word, it stirs my soul to live the Mary way.

I have no excuse to be lazy when I read, “Do not neglect your gift,” and “fan into flame the gift of God.” Clearly, I am to exercise my spiritual gift muscles in order to strengthen the Body of Christ as a whole.

And how can I use my gifts only when it feels good, knowing that God did not give me “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”? Did Mary run away when Judas rebuked her?

Furthermore, when I scream out “Look at me! See how great I am with my precious gift,” have I forgotten Who gave it to me in the first place? Even if I replace the exclamation point with a period or a question mark, I am totally missing the mark that Mary left behind as an example. She showed that gifts are given so that Jesus will smell good to others.

Am I alone in my struggle, or can you relate? The admonishments in Scripture are for each of us as believers. “The end of all things is near,” we are reminded. Shouldn’t that lead us to use our spiritual giftedness for the glory of Jesus Christ?

If the Holy Spirit has gifted us with hospitality, we should do so without prejudice and "without grumbling." Our wide open doors will hopefully lead to wide open hearts for Christ.

If we are led to encourage, instead of crossing the line to flattery, we should do it as “one speaking the very words of God.” Our deliberate words will hopefully lead toward decisions for Christ.

If and when any of us serve with WHATEVER gift He has given us, we “should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

Let’s break open our valuable jars today and fill the room with His aroma--in humility, in authenticity—with no duplicity of heart or mind, fully knowing that it is “Christ in us” who can accomplish great and mighty things according to His will.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”
2 Corinthians 2:14

To HIM be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

NIV Scripture references: Romans 12, 1st Timothy 4, 2nd Timothy 1, 1st Peter 4

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Sharlyn Guthrie

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.

A faithwriters friend of mine submitted a testimony that pulled my heart right out of my chest. Sharlyn is not only a talented writer who has won several awards, but also someone with a passionate heart for Christ. Though I don't know her personally, I wish I did. She is the type of person, through the power of the Holy Spirit's pen, who knows how to inspire people to look up, even in the midst of horrid pain. That is exactly why I waited until now to bring you her testimony. At a time when many suffer with loneliness and loss, her message is sure to comfort. I'm so humbled to present her as today's


My Heart Will Choose To Say
by Sharlyn Guthrie

I can think of many times throughout my life when music has spoken to me in a special way. The most recent, however, was after I received a call informing me that my daughter-in-law, Sarah, had miscarried.

Any miscarriage is painful and hard to understand, but Sarah had been unable to conceive for seven years. Her pregnancy seemed miraculous--an answer to all the prayers I had prayed for them. In fact, many had been praying for Tyson and Sarah, and the prayers only increased when we learned they were expecting.

They passed the first milestone of hearing the heartbeat. Next, they passed the second milestone, moving safely from the first into the second trimester. Sarah was feeling good, and beginning to look and feel pregnant. We all became pretty confident that this pregnancy would indeed result in a child for Tyson and Sarah. But on a regular doctor visit, the heartbeat couldn't be detected, and an ultrasound confirmed that the baby had died.

I must admit that my first response was, "How could you let this happen, God?" But my heart had been prepared through my times with the Lord earlier in the week. I had even written a blog post stating that some days are very good days, but God is always good, regardless of the kind of day I'm experiencing. Very soon the words of Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman began playing in my mind. It remained in my heart and on my lips the rest of the day. The lyrics are as follows:

Blessed Be Your Name
by Matt Redman
- - -
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

We are all still grieving the loss of this precious child. I don't know why Sarah's pregnancy failed, or why my son and daughter-in-law had to experience such heartache, but I do know that God is good and worthy of my praise. Blessed be His glorious name!

Sharlyn Guthrie is a preschool teacher who loves the Lord and loves to write. She also leads a ladies' Sunday school class and participates in music ministry. She and her husband serve the Lord together as marriage mentors and wedding coordinators. They have three grown sons, three beautiful daughters-in-law, and two adorable grandchildren. Her fiction pieces can be found at, and her blog can be found at Godlinked.

In the Key of HE,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Memories

Today, Patterings Fiction Friday is being hosted by RC Writer at Beach Reads. I can't think of a better place to be than the beach right now, so I'll meet you over there for more great fiction.

Merry Memories
A FICTION piece by LauraLee Shaw

"I can't believe it's for sale," I told my husband as we stood outside the doorstep of my childhood home the late wintry December afternoon. It had been five years since I had last seen it. And now, here we were, cold and shivering outside the white, A-framed, thousand-square-foot house in which I had experienced the majority of my childhood memories.

I'd thought I could always come back to visit the house, but that luxury had been denied when the government reclaimed it after Mama passed away. They said it was theirs since it was given to her by public aid.

"I guess the government's decided to cash it in now," my husband analyzed. He put his arm around me as we walked up the snow-covered concrete steps to the front door.

"Sis and I always loved making snow angels right over there," I reminisced while pointing at the front lawn. Then, with a twinge of resentment I continued, "Of course, we always had to shovel the snow off the driveway first."

Dave gave me a comforting smile.

"And there," I perked up, "Right there, is where the carolers from the church would come to sing to Mama and us kids every Christmas."

"We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!" they sang joyfully, though I'm sure they thought there was absolutely no hope for Mama to be happy with the handicaps that plagued her.

My husband's outside perspective warmed me. "You know, she was happy, Janice. As happy as she could be."

As we opened the lockbox to the front door, it took a firm shake or two to get the door unstuck from its frame. "Oh, it is musty in here. Dave, could you get those windows?" I remarked while gagging slightly.

Before long, a chilly breeze was flowing through the open, unfurnished rooms, but at least we could breathe.

We meandered from room to room, remembering it the way it was the last time we came to visit Mama. It was difficult to walk through her room without imagining her pulling herself out of her wheelchair to get down on her knees to pray.

Dusk was approaching quickly, and Dave reminded me, "Sweetheart, you know we need to go before it gets dark. I'll shut the windows."

As he moved off through the house to close the heavy, creaking wood-framed windows, I found myself sitting on the only piece of furniture that had been left behind--a lone rocking chair in the corner of the living room.

Rocking back and forth, the lulling sound of creaking wooden floorboards brought back memories of Mama, sitting in a chair much like this one every Christmas Eve. She would choose songs for us to play on the piano as she rocked. Jingle Bell Rock and Joy to the World were her favorites, as she enjoyed stringing popcorn to their rhythms. I know she would have danced if she could have.

"Ok, hon, the windows are all closed now, you ready?"

He noticed the dazed look in my eyes and tenderly squeezed my shoulder.

I chuckled. "You wanna know something?"

"Inquiring minds wanna know, sweetie," he said as he sat beside me on the floor. He breathed a little sigh and tried to look genuinely interested.

"Sis and I could be so crazy!" I laughed out loud. "We both got matching knit scarves from our auntie one Christmas. Sis was about twelve. I was eight, I think. Along with them came these rainbow-colored knee length knit socks, but they had toes in them--did you ever see socks like that?"

Now Dave laughed. "Can't say that I did. You mean, like gloves for feet?"

"Um-huh. Yep."

I giggled. "Well, we put the scarves on...then the rainbow glove socks..."

"Then," I continued, "after that Mama handed us a package from our weird, dog-loving Uncle Carl, which had these furry, dog ear muffs in them. We put those on, too, and then posed like dogs for her. Mama was just in stitches, and we were, too."

"Ah, now, I've got to see a picture of that one--you two panting and begging for more presents," Dave teased.

"Well, I know there's a picture somewhere, though you'd have to pay me a pretty penny to get a look!"

He winked at me affectionately.

"I loved Christmas in this house, Dave." I couldn't hold back the tears now.

"Mama struggled so much to provide for us, and every day was such a battle."

"She was one tough cookie, though, sweetie," Dave encouraged, "one tough cookie."

"But at Christmastime..." I continued, " Christmas, it was almost like the battle was over, at least for that moment in time, you know? People were giving and gracious and good-hearted to us, even though we weren't like the rest of them. In that season, it finally felt like we were the same as them."

A huge mixture of emotions waved over my heart, soul and mind. As Dave tenderly stroked my hand I wanted to cry, but I couldn't.

"Joy to the World, the Lord is come,
Let earth receive her King."

The melody bellowed from out on the front walkway.

"Let every heart, prepare Him room."

Tears suddenly flowed freely, but moments later were replaced by healing laughter that flowed just as freely. It was the same carolers from my hometown church! The same ones as from my childhood, though with a few new faces of course.

"Dave, pinch me!"

He cried out with joyful exuberance, "It's real, Jan. Your favorite memory has been reborn!"

"We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,"

"Oh no, sweetheart, you haven't seen my favorite memory yet," I warned him.

I skipped down the steps and ran through the lawn, and with the candlelight of the carolers illuminating my way, I lay down in the cold, wet sheet of white and designed my snow angel.

"Now THIS is my favorite memory of all!"

Dave finally caught up to me and drew a halo in the snow with his fingers right above my head. Then he took his place beside me--right where my big sister used to fly. I imagined our spirits lifted high as if on wings of angels.

"We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a happy New Year."

In that moment, I never would have imagined those wings landing us smack dab into our new, white, A-Framed, thousand-square-foot house that next year. Well, it would not be new to me, but it would be new to us. Moving here was not what we had planned, but it just felt like the right thing to do. And hopefully, Merry Memories would continue for a good many years to come.

"Welcome home, sweetheart," Dave whispered in my ear. He leaned down, patted my tummy and gave another whisper, "Welcome home, Baby."

Copyright 2007 Laura L. Shaw

For more great fiction, visit Beach Reads.

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Out of Order

Recently, I began to feel pretty flat spiritually. Okay, really flat. With little inspiration to write, to read or even to pray, it was all I could do to keep from sinking into depression. When the Lord led me to search my soul about it, an unsuspecting thought surfaced.

No, THAT is not the problem. Next thought, Lord.

No matter how much I tried to deny it, the Holy Spirit kept bringing the same subject up in my heart and mind--through devotions I would read, sermons I would hear, songs that left a thick lump in my throat, and through conversations with my friends and family.

You haven’t been putting Me first.

That’s the thought that kept coming. I asked Him to show me what I was doing out of order, and He began the process of revealing it to me. I feel led to share one moment in particular with you...

I would love for you to read the rest at the Internet Cafe today by clicking here: Out of Order at the Cafe This is very new and close to my heart, so I hope it ministers to you in some way...

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blind Service

Happy Word-filled Wednesday!

The Lord brought a thought to my heart and mind recently:

Why do I sometimes serve Him without first acknowledging Him?

Then the Holy Spirit brought up a Word hid in my heart (Hosea 6:6):
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

The Message says it this way:
"I'm after love that lasts, not more religion.
I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings."

Why do I sometimes serve Him without wholly acknowledging Him?

I have no idea.

How many times does He come to me, and I miss Him entirely?

Praise the Lord for convicting me of this, and praise Him even more for His mercy when I've failed.

He is good! He is God!!!

Father God, You are holy and perfect and the one thing that's fully right in my life. Help me to see You, to thirst for You, to worship You with no duplicity of heart or mind. Forgive me for sometimes serving You or writing about You or counseling others in You without first spending time with You myself. When You appear, Lord, I want to know You and recognize Your voice. I pray You would make my heart long for that more than it longs to serve. I know in doing so, I can serve You in the way You have planned for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

For more Word-Filled Wednesday and for visual inspiration from Scripture, hike on over to:

And if you have time tomorrow, I'd love for you to hear something close to my heart. I'll be over at the Internet Cafe to share. It was so important to me, I changed my original devo which was going to be on overspending at Christmas. God must have a special purpose for it...

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Women Of Passions Receives Third Place!


We just received word that our book has placed in The Christian Choice Book Awards. What an honor!

The Christian Choice Book Awards contest awarded certificates and prize money to 66 Christian authors for outstanding literary achievement in 22 categories. The contest, which was open to those who released a Christian book in 2007-2008, featured a variety of categories that ranged from Christian living to poetry.

As the first contest of its kind in the Christian publishing arena, the Christian Choice Book Awards represents a unique opportunity for self-published Christian authors to make their voices heard.

In the DEVOTIONAL category, Women of Passions placed THIRD. In a competition of this kind, with 22 categories and hundreds of authors, a third place is GREAT! We're thrilled!

Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God is a remarkable collection of stories and inspirational prose providing the reader with a powerful connection to the Heart of God. Women from various backgrounds and walks of life open their hearts revealing life as it really fluff but pure honesty and transparency, sharing pain and victories, concerns and passions, strivings and worries and disappointments, all with a personal revelation of God's intervention leading to an unparalleled peace.

Whether you're a mother, a wife, an empty-nester, a single mom, unmarried, a career woman, a widow, a mother of a emotionally or physically challenged child, a non-custodial mom...whether you're just begining your adult life or a seasoned saint, you'll identify with the treasure of realness captured in this book.

One thing we learned in writing and compiling these stories is that no two women are exactly alike but there is a profoundly common thread in every life--We all find ourselves reckoning with life's circumstances at the foot of the Cross of Calvary. We've learned there is no victory apart from Jesus Christ yet none of us have found the path to surrender to be an easy road. God's absolute faithfulness has made life possible--He's made it possible for us to carry on, move forward, and know that "all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes" (Romans 8:28).

Regardless of your age, vocation, personal interests or level of spiritual maturity, the stories in this book will lead you to your knees in prayer, to your feet in thanksgiving, or to the phone to share with your closest friend. You're guaranteed to find at least one story that you will quickly identify with, one chapter that will give you hope no matter your given circumstances in life.

Used as a devotional, shared in a small group setting for discussion, or picked up when there are only a few free minutes in your busy day, you are invited to press beyond your comfort zone to experience the unexplainably passionate love shared between a woman and her God.

Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God can be ordered here for a special price.

I'm so honored to be a part of this project, and I pray the Lord would continue to reach the hearts of women all over the world with its contents.

Lord Jesus, thank You for this award on Women of Passions. Thank You for using it to spread the ministry of the gospel. I pray that You would continue to use it as You see fit, and that You would lead me and each of the authors to live out our ministry to the fullest. Thank You for Jan and for Jeanice and the love they have for women all over the world. I pray that you would bless the "Heart of God International Ministries" and that You would provide support for them in the way of prayer and finances so that they can continue to further Your name. It's in that matchless name I pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Remembering Bob

Today, our family remembers Bob, my father-in-law. What a wonderful man to remember, one that taught my husband so many good things, and one that loved to laugh and be sensible at the same time. I learned so much from him and enjoyed analytical and logical conversations about all kinds of things.

One year ago today, December 14th, 2007, Bob passed away after a fight with terminal brain cancer.

"Bob, I truly miss you. I miss the kids saying your name and spending time with you, I miss our conversations about marketing and commercials, about faith things, about life in general. I was blessed to call you father-in-law. I can't wait to see you again in Heaven."

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Debra from Clothed With Scarlet

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.

Debra from Clothed With Scarlet has become a friend of mine in the world of blogging. Her writings are authentic, purposeful and Christ-filled. I've cried at some of her posts, and laughed at others. She is a blessing to so many in the blogging community with her God-given gift of encouragement. I couldn't be more excited to share her heartfelt testimony today as this Saturday's


Just As I Am
by Debra Kaye

The song that deeply changed my life was the hymn Just as I Am by Charlotte Elliott. I was 9 years old and standing in a small Baptist church on 27th Avenue in Vero Beach, Florida. The choir stood at the front of the church up by the baptismal tank in their long flowing robes. The pastor would come down from his standing place and stand at the front aisle and the choir would begin to sing each Sunday morning.

This particular Sunday they began to sing Just as I Am. I had sung it many times with them but this Sunday I heard the Lord speak to my heart. The pastor was standing at the front praying and interceding and the Lord said "Come...Just as you are."

My heart raced and I did not want to step out of my seat and walk forward, but the pull was so great. Not knowing how I was at the front of the church in front of everybody and why my face was soaked with tears, I stood there looking at the pastor and he took my hands and began to ask me the questions about Jesus.

Did I want to accept Him? "YES," I cried. Did I know and recognize my need as a sinner? OH YES!! I couldn't imagine why He would forgive me but I was assured...Just as I was, He would. The pastor prayed with me and I will never forget and typing this brings back that wonderful feeling of a clean slate...forgiveness. No longer carrying around a burden. Knowing love. And what had I to offer Him? Only me....Just as I was...It's still hard to comprehend!!

There is never a time that I hear this song that I do not recognize the impact it had on my life. The reassurance that Jesus would accept me and forgive me. I am eternally grateful!! I have written the words for you below.

Just as I am

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, tho tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears, within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Debra Kaye is a humble servant of her Lord, Jesus Christ. She is the devoted wife to Jason, whom she considers her true gift from God. She is also the mother of Krystle and Joshua.

It is her desire to reflect Christ in her life in all areas and loves the blog community that God has plugged her into. She can be found at her blog, Clothed With Scarlet.

In the Key of HE,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winner of Internet Cafe Holiday Expo

"To Know Him" from is my winner. I had my sister who is in town visiting me draw a name from the list, and after a drumroll from the kids, she drew you! Congratulations!!!!

In the Key of HE,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Taking Time to Hear His Tune

My heart is in need of some tuning by the Master Musician. I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, my priorities are out of whack. I prayed, and the Lord laid on my heart to take a blog break. Could be a few days, could be a week...dunno.

So faithful readers, I'll be back, and hopefully more in tune with Him when I do. Those blogs I faithfully read, I'll be taking a break there too, with the rare exception of a few as the Lord gives me a few moments here and there. Please feel free to check in by emailing me, or PLEASE let me know if an urgent prayer request arises. I'll be praying a bunch, so I'd love to add you to the list if you feel led to contact me.

If you are prompted to pray for me, here's a handful of requests: 

1. My house has been under renovation, and it's a mess. TONS of cleaning up to do, and that's before I can even set up my Christmas tree or anything. 
2. My big sister is coming for a visit this Wednesday thru Sunday, and I at least want to have the dust cleared enough to enjoy her company. Pray for good memories and for her to feel comfortable in our home. 
3. I'm under the weather with a cold/cough thing. 
4. My kids' homework and projects are piled high, not to mention the laundry. Pray that I would have supernatural joy and pleasure in my home duties. 
5. For rest and restoration for my numb and tired and scattered soul.

On a side note, I will be announcing the winner of my giveaway sometime this week, and will contact them too...just gotta figure out when to do it!  :D
Father God, I praise You for Your sovereignty and Your goodness. I exalt Your holy name. Thank You for leading me and guiding me in Your way, and for helping me to obey. I truly long to please You with this decision to take a break from numerous things--things that are in the way of my hearing Your voice as clearly as I need to right now. Things that slide into first and second place when they have no business being there.  For my brothers and sisters in Christ, Lord, I pray that You would lead and guide them to stillness in You in whatever way You see fit. Lead us and guide us to the deeper life, Lord. One that can only be found in You. As you call upon us to keep Your name in Christmas, help us first to keep You at the center of our hearts and minds each moment of every day. May it begin today, dear Father. And may it begin with me. For Your name's sake, In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Betsy Markman

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.

No doubt, today's featured writer will strike a chord within many of my readers. She certainly did with me. Betsy Markman from Just Another Clay Pot is someone who writes with the Lord's power behind her words. She's not into fluff writing--it's the deeper things with her. And I love it! Anyway, I'll let you see this for yourself in this Saturday's...


Why The Old Hymns Bring Tears

I had a precious time in the Scriptures with my two youngest children one Sunday morning. It was a divine appointment. We were supposed to be at the first hour of church/Sunday School, but we just weren't able to get it together in time. My hubby took our oldest to youth group, but the two youngest stayed home with me and got ready late.

And somehow I just knew that God wanted to meet with us.

When the kids were ready, we sat down in the Living Room and opened the book, "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper. I read to them from it, and some good conversation came out of that.

Then I got out the old hymnal and went looking for a song that would fit what we'd been discussing. I came upon "Jesus is All the World to Me," and I knew I'd found what I was looking for. I knew I wouldn't be able to sing it. I get too choked up. But I figured I could at least read the words to the children.


I got partway through, and suddenly the tears came. It worried the kids a bit, until I helped them understand that these were caused by joy, by beauty. In the end, those tears added a great deal to the sweetness of our time together.

Why can't I sing hymns any more? Why the huge lump in my throat, and the streams from my eyes?

Partly its the joy of seeing old friends. The songs themselves, I mean. So many precious friends rest hidden in between the covers of that old hymnal...friends that filled my mouth not just on Sunday mornings, but throughout the week. Friends that visited me over the radio. Friends that I sang next to my dear Nana in the choir loft, where she taught me to sing harmony. So many friends that I haven't seen in far too long. They've been replaced in church services by the new songs on the block.

I miss them. And when I get to sing them again, it's too sweet to bear, especially when we slow down and sing them at a pace that lets me savor the words.

Sometimes the tears come because of old associations. Faces of those long gone, who once stood beside me and sang those sacred words with me. That's true of all the old familiar hymns, because I sang them all with my loved ones so many times. But there's one hymn in particular that slays me because of a very strong tie to particular people. I had never even heard "Be Thou My Vision" until my uncle and aunt chose that as their "life song." They had lived far from the Lord for decades, but had repented and turned to Him, and then felt called to the mission field in Ireland. "Be Thou My Vision" was sung at their dedication service, and in my heart it is forever linked with them.

My uncle was killed in a motorcycle accident several years ago. I can't help but weep when I sing that song now. Or rather, when I mouth it. I can't actually sing it around the lump in my throat.

Partly hymns make me weep because of the deep meaning of their words. Modern songs sometimes can match their earlier counterparts for depth and richness. "In Christ Alone" is an exceptional example of a song almost too good to be new. I'm thankful for those types of songs, and glad that we sing them in our church. Some of them bring tears, too.

But there's a slightly different taste to the tears that come from the old hymns, and I've recently realized what it is.

It's fulfillment.

Think of a movie that has made you weep because of its happy ending. Think how the fulfillment of the promise of joy at the end felt so moving, especially contrasted with whatever hardships had to be overcome to get there.

That's what I feel from the old hymns. When I sang them as a child, they were unproven theories. Untested promises. Unfelt praise to an as-yet unknown God. I enjoyed them then, but they were only implanted seeds. I could not yet taste the fruit of promises kept.

Now I taste it.

Oh, the hardships I've known on my way here! The grief, the heartache, the overwhelmedness... and all of that only makes today's joys sweeter. Jesus is becoming "all the world to me." I've spent time "In the Garden," and I know there really is delight in His presence there. I've truly come to cherish "The Old Rugged Cross." Jesus is becoming my vision. "Trust and Obey" is starting to take root and blossom.

And all of the old associations become more precious. It's not just that I used to sing that song with Nana. It's that Nana now enjoys, with unveiled face, the God about whom we sang. And call me corny, but I feel a growing kinship with people I've never met, people perhaps in long prairie skirts and bonnets, singing the same words a hundred years ago. I feel as if my voice joins in a chorus that stretches back through time, all affirming the eternal goodness of our mighty God.

And when you boil it all down to its main point, it's really Him. The greatest sweetness of all is not just that promises were fulfilled, but that He fulfilled them. I feel no kinship with anyone who sings hymns only out of religious duty. I sing in chorus with those who love Him, who cherish Him, who praise Him, many of whom now see Him face-to-face. He is the promise of the hymns, and the fulfillment of them. He is their melody, and their harmony. He is their heartbeat.

Why do the old hymns bring tears? Because they touch me with the music of the One I love.

Betsy is a wife, mother, and homemaker whose life is enriched by family, by a love of writing, and most of all by a wonderful, loving, holy God. Her husband is John. Her sons are Nathanael (born 1995), Phillip (born 1997) and Andrew (born 2000). Her hope is that, with her blog, Jesus would shine through, and "that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us." Visit her blog, Just Another Clay Pot or see some of her other writings at

On another note, my friend Yvonne, from My Back Door keeps the hymns and great songs of the faith alive by sending out a "Morning Song" to your email each morning. Head on over there to sign up if you're interested. I find that when I read them each morning, I am singing them all day long.

In the Key of HE,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Static

Today's Fiction FRiday meme is being hosted by Yvonne at My Back Door. Please head on over there for a bunch of great fiction today! And by the way, if you've never visited this blog, you're missing out. For INcredible parenting and marriage advice, on top of great Scriptural teachings, head over there each day for what "Dear Vonnie" has to say:

Christmas Static

Static—it was the only thing coming out of Lorna Miller’s television set. After adjusting the antenna lodged on top of the unit three different times, she was exhausted. “Cotton pickin’ rabbit ears,” she moaned. She’d hoped to catch some holiday spirit from the TV, but there would be no such luck for her tonight.

Her old, feeble legs were tired from standing too long, so they surrendered to the only chair in the room. The recliner, looking as old as she felt, creaked as she squirmed to find a spot that didn’t poke her with springs.

Defeated, Lorna threw her neck back into the cushion, whining a song of pain. “Oooooooh, my back.” Since she didn’t care to look through the filthy lenses of her glasses, she shut her stinging eyes instead. Relieved to escape the view of trash all around her, she wished her hearing could take a break too. Then I wouldn’t hafta listen to this static. “Cotton pickin’ rabbit ears.”

Lorna reached for the afghan jammed in the side of the cushion and wrapped it over her shivering lap. As she closed her eyes, she exchanged her grumpy thoughts for happy memories of many yesterdays ago. They were all she had to keep her company. Or so she thought.

The doorbell chimed, and a chorus of voices followed.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come...”

It was her favorite carol, and they were singing it just right—nice and slow, acapella and rich with harmony.

“Let every heart, prepare Him room…”

She began to mumble along, “And heaven and nature sing...” A peaceful smile came over her pruned face, and she thought she musta died and gone to Heaven.

Three loud knocks echoed through the room. Her eyes shot open, and she listened. Nothing but static. Lorna, you’re jus hearin’ things again, she thought. No, she knew she heard people talkin’ outside. “That’s it…I’m gonna figure out what in the dickens is goin’ on!”

With new determination, Lorna pressed on the arms of both sides of the recliner to help her up. As she hobbled forward, the afghan, earlier wrapped around her legs, now dropped to the floor, causing her to trip and fall.

A banging on the door interrupted her sobbing. “Ma’am, we’re from Christ Community Church.”

She lifted her chin up, looking to see if there was something, anything around her to help her up.

“Your neighbor told us that you’re a shut-in. We brought you some food and wanted to sing some carols.”

“Just a minute,” Lorna croaked, though she doubted they heard her. She crawled with all her might to the yellow tennis balls that stood just inches in front of her, knowing they were attached to the walker she was supposed to use to help her get around.

“Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king…”

Lorna grabbed the side of the walker with one arm and a footstool with the other.

“Peace on earth and mercy mild…”

She scooted her knees forward and leaned with all her strength.

“Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph…”

Triumphantly, she pressed her bottom side onto the footstool, and with renewed energy, she rose to grab her walker. This’ll have to do.

As the voices continued in the background, she scooted to the entryway, unlocked the deadbolt, turned the key to the lock, and opened the door to a multitude of voices.

“Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!”

A couple greeted her and asked if they could bring a basket of goodies inside. Behind them followed others with buckets of cleaning supplies. Adults and kids alike began scrubbing and sorting through the piles of clutter.

Awe-struck, Lorna said, “Well, I’ll be. I ain’t ever seen cleaning carolers before—are ya elves?"

The leader chuckled, “No, ma’am, we’re just regular folks who love Jesus. We saw a light through the window and thought you’d enjoy some company.”

“Well,” Lorna replied, “I’sa tryin’ to watch TV…but it’s nothin’ other than cotton pickin’ static, see?” She looked over to notice a young man adjusting the antenna. “Well, I’ll be! That picture’s clear as midnight!”

Before the cleaning carolers left that night, they carefully placed a small Christmas tree plant next to the perfectly-adjusted rabbit ears on Mrs. Miller’s television. Then they sang one more tune…

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth,
good-will to men!”

*Joy to the World lyrics by Isaac Watts
* Hark, the Herald Angels Sing lyrics by Charles Wesley
* I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Internet Cafe's Blog Carnival/A Passionate Package

The Internet Cafe is holding a Holiday Expo Blog Carnival. Head on over there to link to TONS of blogs giving gifts in the spirit of the season!

I'm so excited about my contribution. I'm calling it my 
"Internet Cafe Passionate Giveaway Package."

The first in the package is "Passionate About Planning." It's a "2009 Mom's Plan It Calendar" with a bunch of helpful tips and quotes for each day of the year. Keep it for yourself or give it to a Mom you know that has a passion for planning!

Secondly, it's an extraordinary book called Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving An Extraordinary God by Janet Ross and Jeanice McDade. It is a collection of remarkable true stories and inspirational writings by twenty-six unique authors from various backgrounds and walks of life. It is a truly phenomenal read, especially if you're passionate about reading testimonies and stories that will lead you to the Throne of God.

And maybe most important package item of all, it's "Passionate About Chocolate." If an honest-to-goodness passionate woman is going to plan passionately and read a book about passion for God, she MUST HAVE CHOCOLATE by her howza 'bout a pack of M&Ms and maybe a few other little chocolate goodies...who knows? Depends on how much you convince me you like chocolate! ;D

Sooooo, if you are a Passionate kind of gal, then all you have to do to be a contender for the package is the following:

Leave a comment on this post (cannot be anonymous, as I need an email address for the winner) and tell me ONE thing (at least) that you are passionate about. I will choose a winner (randomly) by Friday, December 12th, and the winners (of ALL the blog giveaways) will be posted publicly at the Internet Cafe! Cool, eh?

And if you live out of the USA, no biggie...I'll ship it anywhere, okay?

Passionate about seeing a picture of what you have the potential of receiving? Okay, then...

I really hope you're as excited as I am about this package, and I also hope you'll go on over to the Internet Cafe Holiday Expo to click on other blogs who are participating in the Christmas carnival!

In the Key of HE (not me),

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just Sing...Word-Filled Wednesday

Sing to God.

Even if the tune is slow.
Even if the melody is in a minor key.
Even if you can't hear the harmony.

Sing to God.

In our joys, we can make His salvation known.
In our trials, we can show His salvation faithful.
In our sin struggles, we can prove His salvation necessary.

Sing to God, everyone & everything.

How often?
Every day.

Every day?
Yes, every hour of every day.

Sing with your mouth or sing in your mind,
cry songs from your soul or let them beam from your eyes.

Just sing.
Somehow, someway.
Every minute of every hour of every day.

"Sing to God,
Everyone & everything.
Get out His salvation news every day."

1 Chronicles 16:23, The Message

Father God, Thank You for Your salvation. Thank You for sending Your Son in human form, as a precious baby to order to die just for me. I pray that I would be faithful to make Your salvation known, no matter what circumstances come. And Lord God, may YOU receive all the glory and the renown and the praise in the process. I love You, Lord. In Your name I pray, Amen.

For more Word-Filled Wednesday and for visual inspiration from Scripture, hike on over to:

OHHHHHHH, I almost forgot!!!! Don't forget to come on over here tomorrow and see what I'm giving away as part of the Internet Cafe's Holiday Expo (button on my sidebar). You may wanna win it!

In the Key of HE,

Monday, December 1, 2008

Having a Mary Christmas

Our host for "At the Well" this week is Tracy from Thirsty for Him. She has chosen the topic of: Having a "Mary" Christmas: Keeping "Christ" in Christmas with Practical Ideas.

She asks us the following questions:
Do you find yourself stressed each Christmas, trying to "DO" all of the activities of the holiday, only finding yourself depleted and wondering if your family celebrated the true meaning of Christmas? What are practical tips and ideas you can share that celebrate Christ and simplifies Christmas?

It has taken me many years, but I can honestly say that I have been set free from being overly stressed at Christmas. Well, as far as the busyness of Christmas is concerned anyway. Certain things in life go on no matter what the season, and my stress load with life in general is a whole 'nother subject. ;)

Two insights I have to participate in this subject, because I'm terrible at traditions. Wish I weren't, but I really am. (sigh)

The first is to take time to worship God alone.
Mark 1:35 (New International Version)
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

This may mean turning off the music or walking away from the computer or other distractions...and getting alone with God--focusing on His character, His Word. It's so difficult for moms with little children and little to no support from their spouses, but it can be done. (Just not for long unfortunately).
Honestly, I don't know how anyone keeps the Christ in Christmas without taking the time to focus on the Christ OF Christmas.
I simply cannot. After you've done this, then you can take the time to meditate on the Word and pray with the rest of your family. This, I promise, will make a significant difference in your attitude this's more than listening to Christmas sermons and reading other's's TRULY spending time in magnificent wonder and awe of your Savior King. Listening. Telling. Turning. Living.

Second, be intentional about living worship.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (New International Version)
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

It sounds so simple and so basic, but the small things speak Christ into others in the midst of a hectic, complicated, frustrating time for many. We try to tip extra when we can, put coins in the Salvation Army bucket. The kids and I not only put our grocery cart away, but we look for stray ones to put away too. We are friendly in lines at the checkout counter and try not to honk at the person who switches three lanes. Imagine a honk-free wouldn't that be something? (Bear in mind I live in the city).

I always pray that our family would not be out to impress the Santa who knows when you've been bad or good, but that we would be about giving our all to the Savior who knows our thoughts and motives. When I choose to turn a conversation from gossip to praise at a Christmas party, it makes a difference. When I seek out someone who looks left out and sit with them at the Christmas program, it makes a difference.

I could go on and on, but TRULY, the way we live out our faith during this time, demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in us, the more peace that comes at Christmas, the internal kind anyway. Together, let's reflect on Him and live as though He is our "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6b)

Mary Christmas! Sooooooo many other thoughts, practical insights and sweet conversation await at Tracy's place. I hope you'll head on over.

In the Key of HE,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Servin' Spaghetti at the Surrendered Scribe

I'm in a spaghetti kind of mood a guest blogger over at The Surrendered Scribe. Thanks for having me, Julie!!!

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Beckie Stewart

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.

Beckie's testimony is about healing, and I hope someone who needs to read it does so today. With her vulnerability and humility, I'm excited for her to be featured as this Saturday's...


On the Journey to Healing
By Beckie Stewart

Without all the gory details, I wish to tell you about the journey the Lord has me on from bondage and brokenness to freedom and wholesomeness. I’m not fully healed and complete right now, but I’m definitely on my way.

I’ve been a Christian for thirty years, but I’ve been living in the wilderness. Like the Israelites who were in bondage in Egypt, it took them forty years to let go of what they knew and embrace the freedom the Lord had for them in the Promised Land. The Lord allowed my present day difficulties to reveal to me my slavery mentality. The Promise Land is around the corner for me now. I know it.

After an awful run-in with a friend of mine, I called a counselor. As a wife of a pastor, this was a difficult step for me. The first several months focused on coming to grips with my present day problems. As I finally learned to lay them daily at the feet of Jesus, I found myself ready to deal with who I had become due to my past.

I’m in the midst of working with a Christian counselor leading me through a therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). It basically helps you understand your belief system caused by trauma in your life. You are guided through beliefs and incidents to a true understanding of who you really are in Christ.

My drive to my counseling session is forty-five minutes each way, and so on the way, I always listen to our local Christian station. They’re pretty repetitive in their song selection, and so after a while you realize you are listening to a lot of the same music. Do you ever really hear any of it?

However, this last week as I left my intense session and turned on the radio a song came on that said, “Listen closely. This is for you. It’s to give you a hope for your future.”

As I listened to my journey of healing being sung, I realized that the week before, the Lord played this song for me as well. I just didn’t hear it like I did that day.

I know the group Sanctus Real didn’t write this song for me. In fact until I got home to search for the words and author, I never heard of Sanctus Real. However, I know that the Lord had them write this song for me for this time in my life.

The song speaks the rest of my story. Healing is indeed coming.

Whatever You’re Doing
By Sanctus Real

It's time for healing, time to move on.
It's time to fix whats been broken too long.
Time to make right, what has been wrong.
It's time to find my way to where I belong.

There's a wave that's crashing over me,
and all I can do is surrender.

Whatever you're doing inside of me,
it feels like chaos but somehow theres peace.
And it's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
but I'm giving into something heavenly.

time for a milestone, time to begin again,
re-evaluate who I really am.
Am I doing everything to follow your will?
I'm just climbing aimlessly over these hills.

So show me what it is you want from me,
I'd give everything, I surrender to...

Whatever you're doing inside of me.
It feels like chaos but somehow theres peace.
And though it's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
I'm giving into something heavenly.
Something heavenly...

Time to face up, clean this old house.
Time to breathe in, and let everything out,
that I've wanted to say, for so many years.
Time to release some of held back tears.

Whatever you're doing inside of me,
it feels like chaos but I believe...

You're up to something bigger than me,
larger than life, something heavenly.

Whatever you're doing inside of me,
it feels like chaos but now I can see...
This is something bigger than me,
larger than life, something heavenly.
Something heavenly...

It's time to face up, clean this old house.
Time to breathe in, and let everything out.

Here is the song for you to listen to:

Beckie Stewart is a mom of 5 who loves Jesus with all her heart, soul, and mind. She would tell you her greatest joy is loving and serving Him and then my family and friends.

She enjoys writing devotions, articles on adoption, and articles to encourage daily Godly living. Visit her devotional website, God's Gracious Gems, for practical spiritual lessons that glorify Jesus Christ.

In the Key of HE,

Friday, November 28, 2008

All The Right Stuff

Today's Fiction FRiday meme is being hosted by Hoomi at Pod Tales and Ponderings. Please head on over there for a bunch of great fiction today!

All The Right Stuff

While unpacking the groceries on the counter, I checked the ingredients against the recipe from my new cookbook. Yup, I had all the right stuff. Daydreaming, I couldn’t help but picture the look of pure elation on Keith’s face when he would taste his favorite Christmas Eve dessert—only this time baked by me instead of his grandmother. I’d invited her to come over as well, so I would surprise ‘em both.

I can’t believe Vivian put this recipe in her cookbook. After keeping it a secret for years, she’d finally decided to pass it on to her grandchildren before she got too old or too sick to do so. What a blessing, I thought.

I preheated the oven to 350, just as the recipe said. I already had the mixing bowls and loaf pans ready to go. Even though I’d never baked anything that wasn’t from a box before, I felt prepared, thanks to Vivan’s specific and thorough instructions.

“Okay. ‘Cream the butter and sugar.’ I think I know what that means…” I put the two sticks of butter and the two cups of sugar together, mixing them until they looked creamy.

“That’ll do. Now, ‘Add eggs—one at a time.’” I continued to follow the recipe, line by line. After sifting the flour, I folded in the remaining ingredients. I spread a layer of the nut mixture on the bottom of the pan, added the dough, then the nut mixture again. It was ready to go.

My husband walked in just as I was putting the two loaf pans in the oven. “Whatcha doin’, Punkin?”

“Making you a Christmas present you’ll never forget,” I flirted, winking to add to the mystery.

Keith looked around the kitchen for clues, and I slammed the cookbook shut just in the nick of time.

“Oooooo, something from Grandmother’s cookbook, eh?” he teased back.

“Yes, Dear, now scoot before you spoil your surprise.” I chased him out of the kitchen with a wooden spoon in hand. “Shoo!”

An hour later, Keith entered the kitchen to find me sitting in the middle of the floor in tears. As he ran to comfort me, I saw him do a horrified double take at the mystery creation on the counter. “Oh sweetie, it’s okay.”

“I—was—trying—to—make—your—grandmother’s—sour—cream—coffee—cake—for—you—for—Christmas. But it’s a big meeeeeeeessss!” A basketcase, I sobbed a puddle onto Keith’s shoulders.

“Oh, Punkin, that is so sweet. That is the most loving thing you've ever done. Please don’t cry.”

When the doorbell rang, Keith helped me off of the floor as I quickly regained my composure.

“Merry Christmas!” Vivian said. “I brought my sweeties a surprise.”

My tears began again as I glared at the perfectly baked loaf of sour cream coffee cake in Vivian’s grasp. She handed it to Keith and immediately came to comfort me.

“What’s wrong, Darling? It smells wonderful in here, and your tree is so beautiful. And most of all, you look beautiful.”

I led her to the kitchen and pointed to the loaves of burned pecans on top of baked brown goo. “I wanted to surprise you both and make your recipe from the Christmas cookbook you gave me, and I messed it all up. I’m the worst cook ever!”

Vivan looked down at the open book and over at Keith, then sighed. “Sweet Leah—no, Sweetheart—your cooking is just fine, Dear.”

“No, it’s not, look at it!”

Grabbing Keith’s arm in one hand and the cookbook in the other, Vivian scolded, “Keith, Dear. Do you remember my asking you to relay a particular message to your wife about this recipe?”

“Huh?” Keith mumbled, looking dumbfounded. “A message?”

“You don’t remember the error you made when you typed this recipe for me?”

Keith’s face flushed through the shades of the candy cane—red, white, then red again. He put his hand over his face. “Oh no.”

I crossed my arms. “’Oh no’ what, Keith?”

“He forgot to tell you that he accidentally omitted the baking powder from the recipe, so where it says to mix the remaining ingredients, you didn’t know you were supposed to add it,” Vivian said, laying the open cookbook in front of her grandson.

We looked over at the perfect loaf of sour cream coffee cake in Keith’s hands. He tiptoed to me as if on eggshells, then extended the gift to me. “Um,” he gulped, “Merry Christmas…?”

The smell of Vivian’s coffee cake and echoes of laughter surrounded the room, filling this Christmas Eve with all the right stuff.

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy…”
Psalm 126:2a

In the Key of HE,