I love clouds and sunlight photos. That's how God's love makes my heart feel.
I love clouds and sunlight photos. That’s how God’s love makes my heart feel.

My Trifecta writing challenge post on Friday, about a demon led to a church sanctuary by the poor mapmaking skills of an intern demon, was meant to be a funny tale about a beast outside the “comfort zone.”

I think some read more into it than what I intended, which is fine.  Great, in fact.  I want others to relate to my words.  Even more so, I want my words to promote thinking.  What I don’t want is for my words to be made into something they aren’t and then attributed as my thoughts.  So, more fully than I could explain in a comment reply, I’m going to clarify (I hope) my views on religion.

I believe that Jesus died for our sins.  I go to church, but I’m reserved and stay on the outer fringes of the mass.  I enjoy going there to learn with others who are supposed to be of like beliefs.  I grew up in Baptist churches, but in adulthood, I’ve chosen non-denominational churches.  I don’t want my belief in God to be firmly attached to a sect of Christianity; I want it attached to the Bible.

I don’t like the clique feeling of some congregations.  I don’t like when worthiness is based on whether or not you wear a fancy church dress.  I don’t like the looking down perfectly powdered noses to cast judgment on strangers.  I don’t like the insulation from community, whether from non-believers or those in need of a helping hand.  Not every church is like this, but I’ve seen enough to know they are out there.

God’s intent of believers congregating:  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:24-25

I heard a quote on the radio that expressed what I felt more eloquently than I could.  I found the following on Lysa TerKeurst’s blog:

God doesn’t want us to have a religion. A religion is where we follow rules hoping to do life right, and we serve God out of duty because we think we have to.

God wants us to have a relationship. A relationship where we follow Him. And we serve God not out of duty but out of delight because of the realization of who we are in Him.

Biblical reference:  The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”—Isaiah 29:13

When we live with the purpose of strengthening our relationship with God, love just happens.  We have compassion for those ignored by society.  We follow Jesus’ lead and embrace those who have been scarred by sin. (That’s all of us, by the way.  No matter what Christians want others to believe, none of us are free from sin.)

I stumble.  A lot.  Perfection isn’t even on my horizon.  But I find comfort in knowing that God doesn’t expect it.  He expects me to follow not by sight, but by faith.

That, I’m learning to do, every day.

I want to be amazed by the ordinary.
I want to be amazed by the ordinary.

Thank you for stopping by and taking time to read this.  If you have any thoughts/opinions, please share by leaving a comment.  Have a beautiful Sunday!


Shotgun Wedding

I sat at the dressing table in the changing room of the church where Daddy delivered his Sunday morning fire-and-brimstone sermons.  I swore the flames of Hell nipped at my toes right then.

Perspiration glistened along my hairline.  The lace around the high-neck collar of my wedding dress mocked me.  The beaded bodice squeezed my waist like a spent tube of toothpaste.

A brushfire of rumors had swept through town.  Some figured I asked for trouble and got it.  Others whispered that I should lie in my made bed.  They didn’t see a seventeen-year-old girl whose ‘no’ was ignored by the police chief’s son.  No one pitied the girl whose wicked heart would surely lead her to eternal damnation.

I wouldn’t have chosen mid-July for a wedding in rural Missouri (some pronounce it ‘misery’ for a reason,) but I surrendered my right to choose after I sneaked out to the party in old man Sherman’s barn on Memorial Day.

“Hey, it’s almost time.  Nervous?” Deanna’s hands rested on my shoulders.

Deanna’s my best friend.  She had to know, but seemed oblivious to the scandal.

“Gramma says butterflies are normal,” Deanna said.

“I need to see Bradley,” I blurted.

She gasped.  “Sweetie, it’s bad luck to see the groom before the wedding.”

It’s worse luck not to.  “Please.  It’s important.”

Deanna sighed.  “Fine.”

Several minutes later, the heavy click of footsteps grew louder.  In the mirror, I relished the moment when Bradley’s stupid grin faded and his steps halted.

“Y-you have a handgun?”  He stared at the piece on the dressing table.

“So I do.”

“Are you expecting trouble?”  He raised his hands.

I shrugged.  “If I were, I’d use a shotgun.”

I palmed the Bobcat and swiveled the chair to face him.  I didn’t know what to say.  Daddy always said actions speak louder than words, anyway.

I couldn’t tell Bradley my idea of a shotgun wedding differed from his.  I placed my finger on the trigger.

He’d figure it out soon enough.


This story was written for the Trifecta writing challenge.  This week, we were asked to write a 33 to 333 word response (mine barely makes the cut at 333 words) using the third definition of “heart” as noted below:

HEART (noun) – (3)  personality, disposition <a cold heart>

If you want to submit your own entry, check out Trifecta’s site for the guidelines by clicking on the Tricycle picture.

A second note about this piece:  Thanks to my writing class friend, Tim, who supplied the shotgun idea by giving me the following lines to use:

“Why are you carrying a handgun? Are you expecting trouble?”

“Nope. If I were EXPECTING trouble, I’d be carrying a rifle or shotgun.”

Change of Plans

Last week, it finally rained.  Normally, I am excited when Mother Nature waters the desert, but I’ve been out of sorts (mostly due to recently becoming a single-income family.)  When I saw this one morning:

Proof of rain

My first thought was, “Great.  It rained last night and the roof still isn’t fixed from a storm in July.”  (We’ve had trouble finding replacement tile because it’s not made anymore.)

Broken roof tiles

My second thought was, “Nice breeding ground for mosquitoes.  West Nile virus, anyone?”

I am usually a glass-half-full kind of girl.  I have an annoying ability to see the bright side of the darkest situations (except, apparently, if they star me.)  As of late, my outlook makes Eeyore look like Pollyanna.  I don’t like it one bit.

My glass may be half full, but it’s been sitting out for six hours…

Enough of that!  Today, I decided to actively focus on good things in my life.

  1. I am healthy, and so is the rest of my family
  2. We have a roof over our head (even it if is missing a few tiles :)) and it isn’t immediately threatened by our single-income status
  3. I have the support of friends and family who give me strength when I don’t think I have any left.
  4. My older son recently had a birthday.  He didn’t complain about a scaled-down birthday, but was grateful for what he did receive.  Ten years ago, I became his mother, and he’s been teaching me ever since.

Even though life isn’t what I thought it would be right now, I am grateful for the blessings that are easy to take for granted- like family and friendships.  I have to trust that God is my shelter.  My reaction to our circumstances is me mourning the loss of the plans I made.  These scriptures ease the burden of that loss:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Soon, I will see the world like this again…I just know it!

Lead Me (Journey in Photos)

Sometimes I feel alone; like I could be swallowed by the great expanse of our world.
I look for signs – What is my gift? Where should I be? How do I live a life that leads? The answers lurk in the shadows, camouflaged from sight.
If I open my heart and my eyes long enough, I often find the guidance I needed; friends who leave an imprint on my life while showing me the way.
I have times of clarity, where I feel I know exactly where I am and where I should be going.
The repeated process of feeling lost, then found again, nourishes my soul and encourages my spiritual self to grow.

Pleas to God:

Psalm 25:5 – Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 143:10 – Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground

God’s Response:

Psalm 32:8 – I [The Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.


Since I know I’m going to be lazy playing with my kids on Monday, I’d like to acknowledge Memorial Day here:

My cousin is back on U.S. soil, and for that, I am thankful.  My prayers don’t stop, though because there are thousands of other men and women who are not at home with their families.  Last Memorial Day, I wrote a post titled “In the Absence of Peace, I Have Faith.”  I still feel it, so I’m not going to reinvent the Memorial Day blog post.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.  For readers not in the U.S., have a glorious Monday 🙂

Ellie’s New Reality

The rooster finally crows.  I beat him by over two hours today.

Slippers shuffle across the wood floor downstairs.  Mama.  I don’t know if I can face her.  Last night’s words squeeze everything else out of my brain.  Ellie, sweetie.  You’re fourteen.  You should know that the elders have placed you with Derek.  You’ll be married in one year.

Just like that, I’m “placed”- like a dog from the pound.  I still can’t believe she stole my life with such ease, with no more emotion than if she’d announced supper time.  I’ll never let her know, but that hurts more than my fate.

Metal frying pans clang.  On cue, my stomach clenches and rumbles.  I turn my attention back to the Bible in my lap.  For the last hour, I’ve waited for God’s words to speak to me.  I forget the words the moment I read them.  Married…364 days.  I can’t get the reality out of my head.

Psalms.  Those verses are short.  Maybe my mind can handle that much.  I find Psalms and mindlessly flip a few more crinkly pages.

The aroma of frying bacon slips up the stairs and under my closed door, taunting my stomach.  I decide I won’t eat.  If I don’t eat long enough, I won’t have to get married.  Married.  My gut twists again, but I don’t know if it’s hunger or dread.

I look down.  At first, my eyes see blurs of black on white pages.  Then, in the middle of the left page, two lines come into focus:  The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

My heart pumps an extra beat.  Is this a sign?  I note the verse:  Psalm 9:9.

“Ellie, breakfast is ready!” Mom calls from the bottom of the stairs.

I hear my brothers and sisters chattering at the table.  I want to refuse, but my stomach overrules and my feet betray my will.

I’ll start not eating after breakfast.


This my entry for the Trifecta challenge this week.  It is a continuation of my Dear Diary entry from last week.  If you missed it, click here to view it in a new window.

Here is this week’s word:  trou-ble (noun) – an instance of trouble <used to disguise her frustrations and despair by making light of her troubles>.  The response must be betwen 33 and 333 words (mine is 328 words).  If you want to submit your own entry, check out Trifecta’s site for complete guidelines.