every hour

every hour I need Thee.

We always need Jesus, but it doesn’t always feel like we need him every hour. Not until we take some things out of our hours do we see how desperately we need to fill them with Jesus and his words.

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When our hours are empty, we become vulnerable and our flesh starts crying out (sometimes literally) for the familiar and the comfortable. Sometimes when we empty our hours things start going wrong and cars break down and the internet goes out and sicknesses seem more unbearable than ever and the heater quits working and the pipes freeze and there’s no water in the kitchen and you’re always cold. It seems to happen that when you need Jesus in every hour, the hours are dark and it’s hard to see him.

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but then. at just the right moment He says, “I’m ready to heal you.” And because you’re close to him, needing Him every hour, you hear the promise. The promise becomes your rock and the hour brightens with new light and you learn that blind trust is more comfortable than you ever imagined it could be.

Still though, there’s another hour to be lived. And it could get dark again.

draw close to me and I will draw close to you.

Take the light from the hour of promise and let it guide you in the dark hours that may come. Let it lead you along the path of everlasting and let it be your beacon as you walk safely into your Jesus’ arms.

He will be there because you need him every hour– and he resides in the places where you need him most.

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like now

there’s never a time like the present- isn’t that what they say?


there’s a moment when we come to jesus for the very first time- it’s a new moment. its a nice to meet you type of scenario and it changes your life in ways you never thought possible. but after that, it’s how have you been? because you can’t meet someone for the first time twice. but we don’t always like this because how have you been? gets old and dingy and we feel we need new and exciting at every turn.

so we’re given now and now is a special gift given directly by the savior to satisfy this hunger for fresh starts and do overs. but it’s a gift wrapped so inconspicuously that it rarely gets opened and used. Rarely do we wake up on a thursday and declare it to be the day that everything changes. we like to wait for monday for that sort of excitement.


but i think now is a sanctifying moment. i think it pulls us close to the Father’s heart and makes us holy because it’s exactly where we are in that moment- no mask, no hiding, no cover up, no shifting things about. we have been justified with nice to meet you, but sanctification comes when we say how have you been? would you like to sit and chat for a while? sanctification decides to let herself be molded and shaped- allows all the pretenses and assumptions to fall away so that all there is is her and her savior. sanctification is clothed in righteousness, but sometimes acts like a child in need of reprimand and that is why we come to now. now is when we are in need of a teacher and friend and someone to pull us out of our mess and lead us back to the savior we’ve already met. how have you been?


now is a moment that let’s us have a fresh start without being too pushy. now is here and now is later. now is always– this is grace.

there’s never a time like the present- isn’t that what they say? and if it’s true, lets take our now and let it be a sanctifying moment on the brink of 2018 to say now is where we begin.

 

 

 

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day two

My fingers feel so unfamiliar with these keys as I begin typing for the first time in months.But, I’ve had a thought on my heart for a while now, and today, the day before Easter, is a good day to share it.

I’ve been working on being still. Not letting my hopes and dreams get too far in front of me that when I reach for them I lose my balance here in the present. I fail and fall quite a bit, but I’m making progress. Baby steps.

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Yesterday was Good Friday, the anniversary of the death of our Jesus. On Friday we say, “Sunday is coming!” and we celebrate the implications of the sacrifice he made on that day. On Sunday we celebrate and rejoice in his resurrection because death could not hold him and sin has been defeated. This is incredible.

But today is Saturday. Not Friday, nor Sunday. It’s day two of three and why is this significant?

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I don’t think Jesus needed three days. I think he could’ve probably solved the issue of sin in a few seconds if he wanted to. No, I don’t think he even needed a full 24 hours. So, why three days? Why wait till Sunday?

I think maybe the three days were for us because we needed Saturday.

“You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations.”

There’s something about silence that the Lord loves. Something about stillness and quiet that resonates with his character. Time after time he says to slow down, still our hearts, and listen for him in the quiet.

I think of what that Saturday might’ve been like, 2,000 years ago. I think of how it might’ve sounded like the eery calm after a thunderstorm or the soft crashing waves just before daybreak. I think of the void so unmistakable in that town among Jesus’s followers that would’ve left them speechless and numb. I think of the soft cries and tears rolling down cheeks as they began to get used to their “new normal”. I think of them burying themselves deep in the memories of when Jesus was living and asking themselves, “What else could I have done?”

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I think Saturday served a very significant purpose. I think Saturday stilled them just long enough for them to realize who they had lost and what that truly meant. I think Saturday was the day they reevaluated everything. I think Saturday was the day they understood Jesus had been telling the truth.

“You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”

I think hearts were softened on Saturday and seeds began growing. I think the stillness of a day of mourning ultimately brought more joy in the resurrection than what might’ve resulted had Jesus not taken three days.

In my own life, I need to have more Saturdays. More times when I still myself and reevaluate and realize what’s going on right now. Moments where I stop and look at the faces around me and ask, “What more can I do for you, Jesus?” I need to remember the miracles and reminisce the struggles so I can never forget who Jesus was, is, and is to come.

I don’t think Saturday was an accident. I think it was intentional. And I think our Saturdays should be intentional too.

 

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another splendid adventure

2015.

I can honestly say that I saw none, absolutely none, of what 2015 would hold as 2014 danced away and I sipped champagne while the clock struck midnight.

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I cried more in 2015 than I thought I could bear. I’ve laughed more in 2015 than I thought was possible. I fell deeper in love with life, living, and people who saw me for who I was and decided to stick around– decided I was worth it. I also just plain fell in love.

A year ago, as we rang in 2015 with confetti and too many bottle-rockets, I gave myself a few life rules. I said that mistakes need not be fatal– hardships teach you things. I said that people were more important than achievements or possessions could ever be. I said I would learn to use a semi colon, but I actually already knew how to do that so, instead, I taught someone else. And finally, I said that I would find love.

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Each of these was fulfilled in their own interesting way. Mistakes I made a year ago were finally reconciled and I put one foot in front of the other and carried on with what I knew I should be doing.

I went through much pain and heartache to ensure a future of babies on my hips, wiping little bottoms, kissing boo-boos, and hearing “mommy” in squeaky, little voices. Those babies will be my greatest achievements– they will be what I hold dear.

I watched kids bursting with personality think hard and long and get better at things that didn’t come naturally and I celebrated with them when they passed a hard test and, yes, finally mastered the oxford comma. It was a proud moment.

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And love.

It came. It had always been here, actually, but it grew exponentially, in ways and directions I never knew love could grow. At my lowest, there was love that pulled me up and said, “It’s not over yet. Don’t give up.” At the most painful, there was love that said, “Just remember that it’s worth it. It’s all worth it.” At the most apprehensive moments, there was love that whispered, “Follow your dream. You can do it.” And in my most unsuspecting moment, love came and said, “Can we do life together, me and you?”

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All of these moments, coming together like beautiful pieces of some divine puzzle, are what my 2015 was composed of. Would I ask for all of it again? Probably not. Would I give any of it back? Not a chance.

2015 meant I saw the baby take her first steps. It meant I played tic-tac-toe with a precious Nicaraguan school girl. It meant I taught the little one his colors, shapes, and alphabet. 2015 meant I reconnected with old friends, met new ones, and dove further into relationships with others. It meant I experienced healing from the great Healer and victory because my God never fails. 2015 meant fulfillment and answers to prayers.

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2015 left me wanting more– more life, more love, more surprises, more children, more joy, more relationships, more worship, more prayer– just more. More of whatever He wants to give me. Nothing from His hand will disappoint me. He’s a giver of good gifts, a good Father.

So, if 2016 is anything like this year– and also if you’ve read this far– I say bring it on. It’s another adventure.

A splendid adventure.

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i call myself

me llamo

I desire to be known by several names.   

First, Shelby Grace– the name my momma gave me. Next, daughter of the greatest momma and daddy I could ever ask for. Then, sister to three incredible humans that I get to call siblings (and in-law!). Also, friend to whomever I am blessed to laugh, live, and love alongside of. Most recently, girlfriend, which gives me butterflies and nervous anxiety all at the same time. 

One day, I hope to be called beloved by the one with whom I’ll spend the rest of my days here on earth. I hope to hear momma as a child runs in my direction, needing a kiss on a boo-boo or praise for conquering a childish fear. I hope in about three years to be called nurse by the hurting and the sick and the wounded. Eventually, I’ll hear aunt and grandmother and sister-in-law. Maybe I’ll hear more names that I can’t even imagine yet. 

To what- or whom- do I owe this honor?

  

To be given a title, to be known and recognized- it’s all we really want. We want to be known, deep down in the marrow of our bone and cellar of our hearts.  

“Before you were formed, I knew you.”

He whispers, “I was there. I was inscribing into your DNA who you would be and to whom you would be. I knew you before it all began. Before they named you, before you called yourself anything, I saw you. And I called you.”

And what has he called us? 

  

“I’m no longer a slave to fear,                   I am a child of God.” 

Child is what he calls you. Mine is how he thinks of you. Friend is what he sings over you. Redeemed is how he looks at you. 

Very simply, we are H I S. 

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“we write to taste life twice”

I cooked Asian food with the boy not long ago and as we read ingredients written in foreign languages and smelled smells our noses weren’t accustomed to, I doubted the success our meal. 

Once a giant mess had been made and everything was cooked and served steaming hot on porcelain plates, we took bites with chopsticks and tried to get more food in our mouths than out. 

Some bites were wonderful. Some were tolerable. Others were so bad I couldn’t swallow. Some bites I wanted more of- others I never wanted to taste again.

  
A year ago I was tasting bites I would have never wanted to taste again. I was fighting and chewing and squirming through deep valleys and thick pain and it was hard for me to remember a time when the bites weren’t bad. 

Six months ago the bites became tolerable- or maybe I decided to stop fighting so hard to spit them out. Either way, I started learning that in every bite, with each taste, He is unfolding mysteries around me and making them perfect in due time. 

One month ago, I took my last bite of the food I had been living off of for a year. I didn’t savor it- I swallowed hard and sang hallelujah when I saw that my plate was clear. Soon, a new plate was brought before me and, so far, I’ve enjoyed every bite. 

  

  
But I’ve come to a place where I’d like to re-taste some of the hard bites of the past year. I don’t miss the pain and the hurt and the doubt. I don’t miss the anger and the depression and the confusion. I don’t miss any of it. 

What I want to taste twice is the peace that held me together when I was sure I would break. What I want to experience again is the surge of hope I felt every morning when my heart awoke to new mercies. What I want to never forget is that in every moment, He was truly making everything work for my good, because He loves me. 

I write and retaste and my heart says, “oh, so that’s what He was doing!” 

He makes all things work for the good of those who love Him. The good works He begins in us, he will carry out to the day of completion. If even one sheep goes astray, will He not leave the ninety-nine and run after him? 

  

So I will say thank you. I will say thank you and I will retaste the moments I don’t understand and the moments I want to relive over and over again. I will cherish the moments where laughter is easy and love grows wild. I will search hard in the seasons of difficulty for the promises He has given me that the waters will not sweep over me and he will be to me a wall of fire in my midst. 
I will write and I will read and I will taste and retaste and see that He is good. 

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she’s a legacy 

Wrinkled skin. Bruised arms.

Gray, wiry hair pulled back behind a headband wrapping around her frail crown. 

Eyes peeking behind glasses that help her see- see her children, her grand-children, and me, one of her 14 great-grandchildren. 
Fourteen of us. I’m one of fourteen. One of fourteen who knows that sweet, wobbling voice she has. One of fourteen who has listened to her stories, has heard her struggles, and knows her heart. 
I know her smell. It’s like the CoverGirl brand of blush. I remember spending the night at her old house, admiring her giant pantry. I can hear her stories in my mind, the ones about growing up poor, falling in love, about taking in the baby with no home, and trusting Jesus with all her heart. 

“Is she your inspiration?” someone asks me. 
She’s a flawed old woman with years of life hanging plainly from her shoulders. No doubt she’s told some lies, broken hearts, and made a few wrong decisions. 
Haven’t we all? 

But I’ll bet she’s also saved a life or two, with her smile, a timely pat on the back, a kiss on the forehead, or an “it’s gonna be alright, sha.” I bet she’s been a shoulder to cry on and a friend to confide in. I bet she’s prayed a thousand prayers.

“Is she your inspiration?”
I don’t know if I would have thought to give her this title before I was asked the question, but as I sit and watch her hold the baby on her lap with the little bit of strength she has left, my answer is this:
She is quite the inspiration. 

Because of knowing her, I am inspired to love and love and love until there is no love left.

To love in the selfless way. 

To love and then love some more. 

To trust Eternal love even when earthly love lets you down. 

To hold on for as long as Jesus says to hold on, and not let go till he says it’s time. 
She has been, is, and will be remembered as inspiring. 

Her name is Evelyn. Evelyn loved hard. 

Here’s to you, Granny. You are my inspiration.  
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