Written in Red

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

How in the world do you unpack the most well known, most loved verses in the whole Bible?  John 3:16 is the gospel in it’s simplest form.

If the whole of scripture were to some how disappear except for this one beloved verse, there is enough contained in it to lead “whosoever” to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Writers, preachers, and speakers alike often neglect this verse because it has become common and overused. Anybody remember the guy that wore the rainbow wig and John 3:16 t-shirt at major sporting events in the 70’s and 80’s?

More recently Tim Tebow wore eye black with John 3:16 inscribed in it during the 2009 BCS championship game. Google got millions of hits when fans googled the reference.  Amazingly, 3 years to date later when Tebow played in his first NFL game, ESPN reported Tebow threw for 316 yards and averaged 31.6 yards per completion!

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Dark Night of the Soul

I’ve often heard it called the dark night of the soul – a season of life where God seems to fall silent and uncaring. 

We really don’t like to talk about it because it sounds sacrilegious. So instead of dealing with the darkness, we stuff the reality of our walk through the dark night until we become numb. How do we handle the feeling that God is being cruel?

Have you been there my friend? Are you there at this very moment? Do you feel your heart’s cry for deliverance has stopped at the ceiling? Or maybe you have stepped outside and screamed at the top of your lungs, but your cry dissipates into thin air without reaching the ear of God?

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Record the Vision

Did 2016 leave you scarred and battered? A full revolution around the sun can leave us dizzied and confused.

But there is something exciting about sitting on the edge of one year, ready to leap into a fresh new one. We are filled with hope that this time, our trip around the sun will be better than the last.

I love to use this time of year to reflect and do some long range planning. This is the second year I have used Lara Casey’s Powersheets to launch a new year. It is a great tool to help keep me on track and motivated toward my goals.

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It’s Your Turn

Many people have written about waiting on God.

And honestly, I am a little tired of hearing about it. Umm, did I say that out loud? Before you click away from this page, let me explain.

We bemoan how difficult it is to wait on God and ask “How long O Lord?”  When we talk to people about our wait, we remind them how we shouldn’t get ahead of God and give examples like Sarah’s plan with Hagar to get a son. No, we mustn’t get ahead of God lest we get the same kind of result.

Yep – been there, done that.

But what if we changed our paradigm?

Could it be, at times, God is waiting on us to take our turn? Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we must “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7). However, we might get stuck in the waiting if we are not truly listening to God.

Yes patience is a virtue, but stepping out in faith into what God has promised is too.  I think we often use “God has me waiting” as a way of not taking our turn.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I never make claims without backing them up with scripture – so here we go. Get your Bible and go to Joshua 18. The book of Joshua is all about taking possession of the promised land. In chapter 18, we see seven tribes who had still not possessed their inheritance. 

This scripture leaped off the page and into my heart!

So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” Joshua 18:3

Boom – there it is! HOW LONG? God was waiting on them to take their turn. And I wonder if this happens to us  more often then we realize.

If you feel like you are in the “waiting zone”, take a small step of faith toward the promises of God. In Joshua 18, their step of faith was to send three men from each tribe to go survey the land and write down a description of their inheritance. It was their turn!

I am not advocating that you pull a “Sarah” and suggest to your husband he have a baby with a handmaid because you are tired of waiting. That is foolishness. But what if Sarah had just prepared the baby’s nursery? What if she had just started taking prenatal vitamins? Steps of faith are steps of faith – big or small – they get you closer to the promised land.

Here is the truth about God’s promises…

“Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” Joshua 21:45

BUT…the children of Israel had to “take possession” of the land and drive out any enemies that were in their way. Yep, they had to take their turn.

If God is giving us a turn to step step out on faith, why aren’t we taking it? Could it be the pain of failure? Well, truth is we might fail and it might be painful. But remember, it is not necessarily the result of taking our turn that pleases God – it is the act of faith.

Without faith it is impossible to please God…Hebrews 11:6

God does require us, at times, to take our turn. One of the themes of Joshua’s book is “be strong and courageous”. Yes, it takes strength and courage to step across the threshold of the promised land. Yes, it takes strength and courage to take our turn and attempt the impossible.

We will suffer pain either way. If we take our turn in faith, we experience pain from growth, change, and the fear of the unknown. However, the worse pain is that of inaction, not trying, and settling. Choose your pain friends.

When we do take our turn, God patiently and graciously meets us at the border.

God may be giving you a turn. Will you take it? Are you waiting on God or is He waiting on you?

Let this new year be the year you take possession of all God has for you!

When Love Came Down

“When Love Came Down”. Check out Tricia Robinson Art at www.triciarobinsonart.com

The love of God came down on the day Jesus was born. This beautiful expression of God’s love for each of us was not a last minute decision.

As soon as Satan struck with the incurable wound of sin in the garden, God provided a remedy. God knew His love would be sent down in His son, Jesus.

I’ve had this head knowledge for a long time, but this Christmas, it became much more real in my heart.

Honestly, Bible study had become a bit like studying a text book rather than looking into the Living Word. In January, I earnestly started looking for and creating graphics that could express the correct interpretation of scripture AND it’s beauty.

This search led me into the “Bible journaling” world where scripture is turned into illustrations. Not being very “artsy”, I needed a lot of inspiration and practice. My illustrations are not perfect, but that is not point. The point is to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16). If you want some inspiration, check out Blessings By Me, by Mary Esther Elam.

As I clumsily try to illustrate biblical truths, the Word is becoming more real and is making it’s home in my heart, which is what dwell really means.  I think that is why the painting, When Love Came Down, from Tricia Robinson, has been so dear to me this Christmas season. I actually won an original painting in a FB contest she had. Isn’t God sweet to give me a little wink to affirm my meager illustrating efforts?

God told us in Deuteronomy 6 (and repeated by Jesus in Matthew 22:37) to love the LORD God with ALL your heart, soul, and mind. By using a combination of inductive study and Bible journaling, I am studying God’s Word with my WHOLE mind. And the bonus is this – it has truly brought my heart and soul back into the beauty of the Bible, not just the facts.

During the Advent season (the four weeks leading up to Christmas), I challenged myself to journal/illustrate each day. This practice has kept me focused on the deep meaning of Christmas and I realized how each and every prophecy of His life has been fulfilled. 

Now we are in a second season of Advent as we anticipate the second coming of Christ. This advent will not begin in a lowly manger, but rather in the clouds of glory. Jesus will not be a sweet baby, but will be crowned King of Kings with honor and glory. There will not be any doubt about His true claim to the throne, for every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord of Lords. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

We all so busily prepare for the events of Christmas. We fill our time with baking, buying and wrapping gifts, and decorating. But have you prepared your heart, first of all, by accepting Jesus for who He is and what He has done to save your soul? If so, have you prepared your heart and mind for His next advent?

This video is a compilation of my Advent Bible Journaling. I pray I have strung the images and scriptures together in such a way as to tell the whole story. When Love Came Down all those years ago, it was a game changer for all of us!

Merry Christmas – may love come down in your heart and home today. 

Thanksgiving – Don’t Hide Your Crazy


And all over America this Thanksgiving week, families will be gathering their “crazies” all in one place! It can make for a very interesting (or insert whatever word describes your situation) day!

Dysfunction and family problems can make for stressful gatherings. Families consist of people and people inevitably have problems – problems that don’t disappear just because it is Thanksgiving. 

My sweet Sunday School class has been studying the book of Genesis. We have all found a lot of comfort and humor in knowing that family dysfunction did not start with our generation. Consider stories such as Rebekah and Isaac…the Bible clearly tells us “Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Gen. 25:28.  Parental favoritism in this family led to mounds of dysfunction and feuds.

So how can we not only survive our family gatherings this holiday season, but actually enjoy them?

 Here are some practical tips:

  1. When someone “bumps into your happy”, don’t react like a shaken soda and go off on them. Hit the pause button on your mouth before you respond.

    He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.     Prov. 21:23

  2. If someone begins to stir things up a bit, instead of getting into a shouting match with them, try a little reflective listening. For example, “So you are angry that your green bean casserole was put at the back of the buffet?” LOL – I know it sounds stupid, but it totally works to defuse anger.

    A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.            Prov. 15:1

  3. Choose to “carry your own weather”. In other words, choose your attitude ahead of time. Set your mind on enjoying the day and don’t let other people’s attitudes suck you into a bad place.

    Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…Phil. 2:14-15

  4. And finally, be full of grace and forgiveness toward all of the craziness gathered together in one place.

    Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Eph. 4:32

 So this week, as you gather around the roast “beast” of your family’s choosing…consider each person’s quirks and craziness as just another patch in your family quilt. And remember, we each bring our own brand of crazy to the Thanksgiving table :)! <Tweet This

A Brief Moment of Grace

As I type this post, the second Clinton-Trump debate is on TV – I. Can’t. Even.

The only way I will see any of that debate is vicariously through peoples’ FB posts or tweets. I know it is sad, but that is just the truth.

Almost everyone is in agreement about the “basket of deplorable” candidates we have ended up with this year, but should we honestly be surprised?

We live in a country where a few states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, bought millions of copies of soft porn (Shades of Grey), proudly shout our abortions, redefined marriage, and advocate for any kind of life style imaginable.  Honestly, I don’t even know what the “Q” is for in LBGTQ.

So we shouldn’t be shocked now that we have ended up with two presidential candidates that make us want to hold our noses in the polls.

We are a nation that doesn’t blush at anything anymore.

Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush…” Jeremiah 6:15

Ezra is one of my favorite Old Testament books. I seriously want a grandson named after him someday. He not only took personal responsibility in calling the nation of Israel to repentance because of their national sin, but he modeled true repentance –  facedown on the ground in torn clothes.

Oh my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God,  for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens.       Ezra 9:6

Ezra was not personally guilty of any of the sins mentioned in this chapter, but he knew the key to revival would be desperately calling out to God on behalf of the nation.  Look at how many times he used “our” in that prayer of desperation. img_7622

My friends, we can post and retweet unflattering memes about these candidates right up to election day. We can mindlessly defend these candidates tooth and nail even when their words, actions, or behaviors are clearly horrendous.  But that will not do one thing to bring about change.

A president cannot change a nation. Only a people can change a nation. God, before I ask you to change our nation, I ask you to change me.

Voting is a sacred privilege in our country, hard-fought for by many men and women. But intercessory prayer is an even more sacred privilege.

Before we vote our conscience, could we be Ezra-like and cry out to God for “a brief moment of grace” that He may “grant us a little reviving in our bondage” (Ezra 9:8).

His Banner Over Me is Love…Anniversary Edition

Back in the mid 80’s (the most awesome decade of all)…

I attended a very simple Christian teen youth camp. No modern worship band, no big name speakers, and no AC.

The camp, located in Yampertown, AL, is now known as Trinity camp. It was here, around one of those camp fires where the Spirit was moving like crazy, that I first remember hearing the simple chorus, “His Banner Over Me is Love”.

I remember thinking that was such an awesome thing to visualize…God’s love is like a flag unfurling over my head. It represented security, protection, identity, and an unfailing love.

In the mid East during Old Testament times, a nation’s flag meant much the same thing. Imagine  war-weary soldiers looking up and seeing their national flag flying. It provided a focal point for hope and re-energized their purpose in the midst of the battle. IMG_7100

So this weekend is my wedding anniversary…29 years.

Can I call all 29 years blissful, amazing, perfect. Nope, not with a straight face anyway.

designBut what I can say is that through all 29 years, my man’s banner over me has been love. And when you take the verse from Song of Solomon 2:4 in context, it was the Shulamite bride describing her beloved, Solomon.

The Shulamite bride describes her groom as an apple tree, providing shade and nourishment. And then, he did something that absolutely made this  young lady swoon!

Solomon brought his love into a banqueting hall, a very public proclamation that she was his love. It wasn’t meant to be a sign of “ownership”, but rather, a sign of delight in his bride. He was proud of her.

And then…are you ready for this ladies…

Solomon displayed his banner over her. He did this for all the same reasons I stated above: identity, security, protection, and hope. Oh my, my, my…she plum got the vapors after this public proclamation of love.

When husbands do “husbanding” right, there is an invisible banner over his wife’s head that declares: She’s mine, I love her, I’m proud of her, and I promise to do everything in my power to protect her. Now that is some authority I can get in line with. It makes that submitting thing so much easier when his banner over me is love (see Ephesians 5:22).

So during these 29 years, there have been times I have disagreed with my beloved, maybe I wanted to pinch his head off, or just couldn’t hardly stay in a room with him for whatever reason (and I guess maybe he has felt this way at times too). But because I knew I had the invisible banner of his love over me, I stayed. Not only stayed, but I have grown to trust his banner more and more. He has my best interest at heart.

We have to fight for our marriages.

Friends, we must fight for our marriages. Don’t wave the white flag of surrender. Rather, look to see God’s banner over all of us is love. And if we are in line with His authority, then the home is also in line with the biblical plan of authority. Husbands will love their wives as Christ loves the church. When this happens, we can trust our husband’s banner of love.



Just Be Held

“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong.”

And with that one line, the song “Just Be Held” had my attention.

That is me in a nutshell. Shelly…wife, mom, grandma, leader, teacher, education professional. Hold it together girl – you can’t let anybody see your mess. So many times I have put on the expected facade to conceal the true, crumbling mess I can often be in private.

Yes, the mess.

I am a girl who struggles with insecurities, anxieties, and at times, faith issues.  It is so strange how those kid-like feelings of “being left out”, not being good enough, or worrying about what people think of me can crop up in an instant.

Sometimes I remind myself of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4. When Elisha asked “What is to be done for you?” she basically said – I’m good. After all, if she admitted she had a need, that would open up one of the most vulnerable, raw parts of her life. No, she’d rather say, “I’m fine” and move along so as to not open up that hurt again.

The “I’m fine” mentality is my go-to move. In reality, I simply want to be held by God. There, in His arms, I am free to utter all the things I would not dare speak to anyone else. When I am held by Him, I can lose control with complete confidence that He has not.

Sweet Hannah had the need to just be held in her moments of despair. This is a woman who desperately wanted a child – and had prayed and prayed and prayed. As she was in the temple praying, the priest accused of her of being drunk because she was in such intense prayer.design[1]

15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 1 Samuel 1

And there you have it…Hannah in her great trouble and anxiety and vexation, was being held by her great, gentle God as she poured out her soul. It goes on to tell us in this passage that she went her way, ate, and her face was no longer sad.

Hannah had come to the God-realization which the song “Just Be Held” beautifully expresses: I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.design[4]

So take a look at your hands friends. What are you clutching  so tightly that your knuckles are turning white? What is it you are trying to control in your own human will that can only be controlled by God Almighty?

Let’s do ourselves a favor…stop holding on, crawl up in Abba Father’s lap and just be held.

And yes – I am an imperfect mess loved and held by a perfect God!

If you haven’t heard the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns, take a listen.


Chewbacca, the Internet-Webs, & Jesus

“I’m such a happy Chewbacca.”

And with that, Candace Payne broke the internet-webs.

In case you are the only person on the planet who has not seen it…


….your welcome!

I normally don’t go for click bait, but there was just something about seeing Chewbacca busting a gut laughing that got me! Laughter is contagious.

So why did that video go instantly viral?

At the time of this writing, it has been viewed over 100 million times on Facebook and over a 1 million times on youtube.

I believe this authentic video touched a part of our hearts that maybe has calloused over a bit – the part that allows us to feel unadulterated, child-like joy. As Candace says, “it’s the simple joys”.

For me, this crazy political season, the hub-bub about bathrooms, and other life issues…have dampened my joy a bit. Candace’s video reminds us it is ok to throw our head back in abandon and enthusiastically enjoy life.

My sweet grandson, Leeland, has learned Proverbs 17:22 as a memory verse in his Mommy’s Day Out program. He goes around singing this version of it all the time…pretty cute little guy!


It is a simple truth, right? A happy heart is like a medicine…you know it is true! Don’t you feel better after a good gut-busting laugh?

Satan loves to steal things from us, including our joy. He is a thief who has come to kill, steal, and destroy. But Jesus came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). David asked God to restore to him the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12). Don’t be shy in asking God to restore your joy. He wants us to have it. Nehemiah even said “The joy of the LORD is your strength”. (Neh. 8:10)

We were meant to feel joy deeply and often. What has sneaked into your life and is stealing your joy? Jesus wants our joy to be FULL (John 15:11).

Candace – thanks for sharing your contagious spirit with the world on the internet-webs. You are the planet’s new best friend.