DNA does not lie. 

Curiosity won and I did an Ancestry.comDNA test. After several weeks, I got the results yesterday and I’m trying to make sense of what make no sense to me. 

Some of the results were no big surprise. I knew I had Irish ancestors on my paternal side and Scottish ancestors on on my maternal side. But I had always been told and believed I had significant Native American blood. I have genealogies with names!

Anyway, as I keep reminding myself, DNA does not lie.  Well, it may not lie, but it sure can surprise you and challenge what you thought you knew about yourself. Mercy. 

So, first to the two big surprises. 

Shocked and greatly pleased that I am 5% European Jewish. I have visited a Messianic synagogue over the years. I have studied and celebrated Biblical Feasts many times, such as Passover. I can sing the Shabbat blessing in Jewish and own shofars. I loved all of this, but had absolutely no inkling that it was an actual part of my DNA. 

Yesterday morning before I received my results, I told three of my teens that I wanted to attend Rosh Hashanah this Wednesday night. And then I get these results. I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled with this surprise. The photo below is me at Passover this year. 


The other shocker is a big disappointment. All of my life I have believed that I had significant Native American blood. I have names of Native American ancestors listed firmly in my family genealogy. And yet, zero. The DNA results said ZERO. I am trying to process and understand how this could be. 

My initial and simplified answer is that the Native American DNA is just too far back and too insignificant to register. This makes me sad. I have always taken pride in having both Cherokee and Creek ancestors. Ugh. 

This is a rendering of a Creek Indian princess, Sehoy McGillivray, who is ‘supposed’ to be one of my ancesstresses. She married Lachlan McGillivray from Scotland and the line keeps going directly to my great-grandfather, Lovid Busby Smith, then to my grandmother, my mother, and to me. Or so I thought. 


Among the non-surprises was that my ‘genetic community’ was from the early settlers of Mississippi and Louisiana. I was born in Louisiana and graduated highschool in Mississippi. So, this is perfectly expected. I’ve got cousins all over the Southeastern United States. 

The Scandinavia part was puzzling. This, I had no clue of and it makes up nearly a third of my DNA. Viking? Who me? Couldn’t be!  I honestly know very little of the Scandinavian people. I understand some iconic beauties are from that region. For instance, Ingrid Bergman, Ann-Margret, and Greta Garbo were actresses with such bloodlines. Perhaps I’ll find out more as I take this very interesting DNA journey. 

As I said from the beginning, I wasn’t surprised at all of my Celtic background. Not only was I aware of my strong Scottish and Irish lineage, I am proud of it. The music! The lilt! The dances! The short-tempers too! (I’ve relied on this excuse many times). 

Well, as with most things in life, one answered question leads to dozens of more questions. We live, we learn, we discover, we adjust. That’s my real heritage. I’m a human being, crated in the image of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, being consistently transformed into the best me possible by the Holy Spirit. 

I find it interesting that just this week, I quoted a Danish philosopher and will share with my small group tomorrow morning. I’ll share it with you now. 

Advertisements

Less of Me – Literally 

For fifteen years I have been on a weight-reducing, healthy-choosing, activity-increasing, life-extending journey. 

My wake-up call began with a visit to my doctor and the diagnosis of diabetes. I reacted with denial first, resentment second and finally fear. I was astounded by my weight. 

I was in a terrible state of mind, let me tell you. And for the record, I was not a person who fantasized about food. I did however find comfort in food. Mostly, I just didn’t have time to think about it, or so I thought. 

I was physically and emotionally tired. By that time we had been fostering for over a decade. I had experienced more heart-ache and loss than I like to admit to even now. I had been traumatized and I was worn out. So, I ate what was easy and inexpensive and convenient. That’s the simple truth. 

Besides the diabetes I also had developed an enlarged liver (the non-alcoholic sort) and various other ailments that seemed to declare that any efforts to change now would be too little and too late. Still, I determine in my heart to try. 

I would seem to do really well for a while and then fall back into old habits or hit a plateau with the weight loss that would discourage me. But today, I stopped to consider where I was and how far I have come. I have certainly not arrived, I have many more pounds to lose and many more health issues to address. But I’ve come a long way baby! 

I almost didn’t write this blog for several reasons. For one thing, I didn’t want to sound bragadocious (a word of my own invention). For another, I still have so far to go. And finally because it’s personal to me, a private matter. You know?

But anyway, I decided to go ahead and write this because I am SO THANKFUL and maybe I could encourage another struggling soul. 

If you feel like it’s just too little and too late to change your lifestyle, let me assure you, it is NOT. You can start fresh today and again tomorrow if need be. 

This morning when I weighed I had broken a plateau that had roadblocked me for several years. I just never seemed to be able to get past that point. I’d give up. I’d try again. I’d gain a few pounds back. I’d try again. I’d get frustrated. I’d try again. 

And so, today, I can celebrate that 68 lbs of unnecessary weight is gone. It took a long time and I’m still losing more, but hey, 68lbs is worth mentioning and celebrating. 

I wore size 22/24 and now I’m fitting into size 14. I’ve been able to come off blood pressure meds and have greatly reduced my diabetes meds and my liver has returned to normal size. I am healthier than I’ve been in decades. 

I hope you’re taking good care of yourself, eating right, exercising properly, resting enough. But if you aren’t, you CAN change that. It may not be instant results, but the results will come. #takecourage 

This I Know


I want to encourage some hearts today! Here is a simple truth for you to consider. It is okay if you don’t understand it all, have all the answers or have it all figured out. 

I reminded myself this very morning of this same simple truth. I have been known to over-think matters. What about you? Not only that, I often grow frustrated with others who appear to be thinking too little. 

This morning I read in John chapter nine of a young man who had an encounter with Jesus. As is always the case after such an encounter the result was drastic change, miraculous even. People noticed. 

They did not instantly rejoice with him. Instead the people around him were suspicious, questioning, doubtful. They wanted answers, demanded answers. The young man did not know. He did not understand it all. He could not explain exactly what had happened, at least not to their satisfaction. 

Finally, he declared that he did not know the answers that they demanded but, he DID know one thing. I want to encourage you this morning to stop fretting over what you do not understand and rejoice in what you do know! What you do know is enough to celebrate, to embrace and to find hope in. 

What that young man said was “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!””

John 9:25 NLT



So, this morning I have a few things to declare myself and would invite you to do the same! 

I don’t know it ALL but this I know…

I was blind but now I can see! 

I was lost but now I am found!

I was empty but now I am filled!

I was hesitant but now I am sure!

I was without hope and now I hope again!

I was weak but now I’m strong!

I was without music in my soul and now it is filled with song!

I was hurt and unable to forgive but now I can walk in grace!

I was weary but now I am strengthened for this race!

Distractions & Reactions

I’m pretty sure I’m one of the most distractible humans alive. Well, perhaps that’s stretching it a bit. I know this, distractions are an inevitable part of life and it’s our reactions to them that impact our lives. 

What is a distraction exactly?

Well, simply put, it is anything that keeps you from giving your full attention to another thing. 

The thing is, we’ve grown so accustomed to multi-tasking, that we may have lost the art of undivided attention. I know I’m very guilty of the inability to focus on one thing and that thing only. 

As a #momofmany, presently homeschooling five teens, actively involved in our church and outreach ministry, entrepreneur and writer extraordinaire, I feel hard pressed to juggle as many balls as I can at once. 


Here’s the thing that I’m pondering today. If distractions are inevitable and a sure part of life, what can we do about them?

Now, you may be expecting me to tell you to clear your calendar and learn to say no more often! Maybe even stop trying to do it all and remind you to take some deep relaxing breaths. 

While those are good thoughts, that’s not what I want to tell you at all. What I want to discuss is not the distractions but our reactions to them. That’s the crux of the matter. 

You know what my greatest distraction is? People! Whether they are calling, texting, pulling on my sleeve or bickering between themselves, people distract me. Whether I’m reading FB posts, scheduling appointments, answering an e-mail, stopping to pray for them, giving them a ride or listening to their woes, people distract me. 

They distract me because I care and because I believe that #peoplematter. They distract me from the plans I have made for myself. They rearrange my schedule, undo my calendar and sometimes delay my goal-reaching efforts. 

And the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m glad I’m distractible when it comes to the folks in my life. I’m glad to know that my children want to discuss their days, my friends feel free to ask for prayer, that a stranger on FB is encouraged by my posts and that my reactions to the distractions in my life can speak volumes. 

Reactions to the distractions of life say loud and clear, “You matter to me!”

You matter enough for me to stop and listen, you matter enough for me to delay my plans, you matter enough to merit a brief comment on your post, you matter enough that I will allow you to distract me. 

And you know what, I think the world might be a better place if we were all a little  more easily distracted, not from what matters but towards what really matters, people. People matter. 

A Love Like No Other – The Love of a Mother

Today isn’t Mother’s Day, but mothers are on my mind and I’d like to tell you why. 

Yesterday as we sat in a waiting room biding our time, my mom recounted to me what she had told my daughters. She told them about life. She told them about God and her faith in Him. She told them about me and the first time she saw me. 

As I watched her face as she repeated what I’ve heard many times before, her eyes shone with the memories of love and astonished wonder. 

“I just couldn’t believe it. How could a baby of mine be so beautiful, so perfect. I cried and cried. I counted your toes and fingers. You were perfect.”

As I listened I thought the real wonder of this story was the depth of a mother’s love. I also thought it was a great blessing to have been loved with such a love. 


Earlier this week, I told my soon-to-be daughter-in-law about the first time I saw my son whom she will wed. My tale was different. No one placed him in my arms as a newborn. But still, the wonder was just as well, wonderful, when he came into our life. I think she understood clearly the depth of my love for him. 

A few days ago I read a post by a young momma. “What was life before him?” She referred to her newborn son. I knew just what she meant. 


Two days ago my sister-in-law flew across the ‘big pond’ to see her baby and her grandbabies, one of whom is one-week old. That love and hope of brighter tomorrows has kept her moving forward lately through a difficult season. 

My FB feed is filled with new babies and the love in each of these little momma’s faces is apparent. They often use words like perfect. They’re all right of course. 


And then of course, there are the mommas who have adopted and have felt the flavor of wonderment that floods my own soul. I can’t help but rejoice with them as each milestone is poated and celebrated. There are the mommas who have fostered and there are mommas-in-waiting. Mommas are lovely, altogether lovely. 


And don’t even get me started on grand-mommas. My own grandmother was such a treasured and influential part of my childhood, I can’t put it into words. She absolutely helped form me into who I am today. No doubt. I grew to see myself through her eyes, eyes filled with love. 

My sister is experiencing the joys of being a grandmother. One born just weeks ago, another due in a few weeks. Her whole world has shifted in anticipation of this new season of wonder. 

It’s no surprise that I have enjoyed being Grandmommy to three little girls in Georgia who are just the sweetest princesses around! If you aren’t sure about that, just ask me and I’ll do my best to convince you. They aren’t my conventional grandchildren. I’m not the conventional sort. But I have claimed them and they have claimed me and love has sealed the deal. 


No matter how God gave us our children and grandchildren, the thing is, He gave them to us. They are gifts. The love we have for them just seeps out of our souls. 

“Wait a minute there, my experience wasn’t like this.” This may be what a few of you are thinking and I know it’s the truth. You know, as a foster-mom, I sometimes witnessed the worst examples of motherhood. Not every case, but many cases involved mothers who weren’t loving the way they should or maybe the way they truly wanted to. I know that plenty of mommas are selfish, bad-tempered, critical, and hurtful. That’s a shame. But those aren’t the mommas I’m thinking of this morning. 


I’m thinking of mommas who have influenced our lives for the good, been our personal cheerleader, gave us courage to do better and be better. I’m thinking about mommas who adjust their lives, postpone their dreams, set aside plans, and invest themselves into their children. I’m thinking about mommas who have prayed and are still praying. I’m thinking about mommas who have had to overcome adversity, struggle financially, and press on when they wanted to sit down. I’m thinking about mommas who have loved with great abandon and are ready to keep loving not only their children and their children’s children, but theirs great and great-great-grandchildren. 


This morning, mommas are on my mind and I just wanted to tell you why. 

Every Opportunity 

What opportunities are before you today, this week, this month, this summer? Which will you take advantage of and which will you miss? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about opportunities lately. And here’s what I’ve decided. Opportunities abound. They’re often around every corner. The problem is, we are often lacking the motivation to walk around the corner to meet them. 


This weekend I took action and positioned myself in a place to hear about opportunities to do what I like to do, write. I heard tips, made connections and took notes. Now, what will I do with what I gathered at the Southern Christian Writers Conference? That’s the question. 

One of the themes of this conference which focuses on Christians who are writing or dreaming of doing so, is to consider the impact of our printed words on the people who read them. We were reminded that even if we aren’t writing about Jesus, our words should reflect Him. 


Here are some scriptures that I think reinforce that truth. 

“But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.”‭‭ Luke‬ ‭21:13‬ ‭NLT‬
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.”  Colossians‬ ‭4:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The word opportunity may be defined by some as a ‘lucky chance’. I don’t agree. Of course as a Christian, I don’t believe in luck or coincidence. I believe in God-incidences. I believe He is ordering my steps. I believe he orchestrates the details of my life. 

With that in mind, I see clearly what I must do with the writing opportunities that were placed before me at the conference and the opportunities next week that will give me a chance to love, to forgive, to encourage, to grow spiritually. I will seize them, I will embrace them. I will make them my own. 

What about you? When opportunity comes knocking will you answer the door? Will you stand up and walk around that corner? Will you take the chance? Will you accept the challenge? Will you roll up your sleeves and do the work required?

Just Breathe

Today is my birthday and I expect to be spoiled profusely. Why? Well, because that’s what I’ve grown accustomed to. I have a husband who dotes on me and a family who makes me feel like a queen for the day and friends who lavish sweet sentiments upon my FB page. Social media is certainly at its best on your birthday. #birthdaygirl

I will be receiving some gifts today. Some are special simply because they will be given to me by one of my children. Some are special because of the obvious thought that went into choosing it. Some are special because, they were needed and will be well used (like my new mini-van, I really needed that). Then there are those gifts that are special today and will likely be special for years to come. I’d like to tell you about one of those. 


The photo truly doesn’t do it justice, you’ll have to take my word for it that it is even prettier in person. My friend is the artisan and you should check out her page. @palletcreationsbydarlene

My husband gifted this to me from him and ALL my kids. Let me tell you, that’s a whole lot of kids. #momofmany  So, it is special because my Henry bought it, my friend made it and my children are a part of it. But that isn’t the reason it brings tears to my eyes when I think of it. 

Two years ago today, on my birthday, I had an encounter with the Lord that changed my life. Now, if you’ve never had such an encounter, I hope you will one day. You will never forget it, just as I’ll never forget this one. 

It’s rather personal, so I won’t go into great detail. However, I have been eagerly anticipating writing today’s blog so that I can share a portion of it with you. 

Here’s what I need to tell you. In Ezekiel 37, there is a conversation between God and a prophet, Ezekiel. It’s a remarkable account of a valley of dry bones. 

Please, pause for a moment and HEAR me. No matter how disjointed, disconnected, hopeless, dried up, brittle or sun-bleached your hopes, dreams, health, relationships, finances and even spiritual condition is – there is HOPE! And here is why. 

“Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’””

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭37:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

That’s it. That’s the answer. That’s the source of our hope, our strength, our healing, our redemption. The breath of the Sovereign Lord! And when He breathes life into a situation, a heart, a relationship, a ministry – It WILL LIVE AGAIN!

Today, when your heart is gripped with fear or worry, when you feel overwhelmed and distressed, when you’re feeling out of options and depleted of hope – JUST BREATHE and then allow God to do what only He can! 

Now, that’s a great way to celebrate a birthday and every day for that matter.