My 2018 Emancipation Proclamation

I enjoy numerology, the study of numbers and their meanings. It intrigues me. Sometimes it inspires me. So as 2018 approached, I began to investigate the numeral 18.

I was not excited about what I read. It seemed every article referred to one negative word – bondage. That doesn’t give you any warm fuzzy feelings. That makes you think of coercion, slavery, chains, exploitation, persecution. Not exactly what we hope for as we begin a new year.

And then I continued to research and I came to an understanding of what I believe 2018 will mean for me. I’ve decided to become an abolitionist. I have decided to invest my time, my energy and my resources into helping people I know and love break chains of bondage in their lives. I’ve decided to confront any issue in my own life that demands servitude from my soul and distracts me from spiritual growth. I’ve decided this will be the year of bondage busting, freedom gaining, chain breaking, persecution confronting, and slavery abolishing!

That’s a mighty big declaration, but I serve a mighty big God! My faith is stirred up! I want in on the revolution! I have located my courage. I want to help lead folks to freedom! I want to hand them the keys they need to let their souls soar! I want to be the candlelight in the darkness. I want to offer hope and healing!

Who do I think I am? How do I dare make such a claim? Why do I think people really can change? Because they can! And it doesn’t matter ‘who I am’. What matters is ‘whose I am’! I dare because I have seen the faithfulness of my God. I have witnessed the power of love. I can testify on behalf of hope!

I believe! I choose to believe! I’m determined to believe! What about you?

https://g.co/kgs/nKDfhQ

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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. 

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!

The Hope of Easter

Today is Easter and we’ve celebrated with egg hunts and even a Passover Seder. Today we will gather with family and friends at an Easter Service to celebrate once more. Why all the celebrating? 

Well, let me assure you, it is much more than colored eggs and bunnies. We are celebrating the miracle of life. 


A precious ‘son of my heart’ posted the following words a few days ago. He blessed my hear with his words. 

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Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
I am living proof, that if you invest Jesus into someone, as little or mundane as you might think it is, that seed will grow. That flower may only need to break through loose, fertile soil. Or in my case, it might have to break through red Georgia clay that’s under a foot of concrete. But be patient and continue to water it, and oh how sweet and beautiful it is once it blooms. 
To all of those that invested in me, I say thank you. And now I pay it forward, investing Jesus into other people, planting my own seeds.

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This is the miracle of new life, eternal life that we celebrate. This hope was made possible by the most important moment in history. That moment was when Jesus Christ, Yeshua, our Redeemer, defeated death, and gave us hope of new beginnings, fresh starts and forgiveness. 


If I told you more of my what Gary had faced, experienced and been through you would be amazed that just before Easter he was baptized as public proclamation of his faith. If I told you about his life, some of his choices, some of his struggles you would rejoice with me that he has come home spiritually. If I told you of the hundreds of prayers and years of waiting, you would take courage as you pray and wait for your own prodigals. 

So, yes, today we celebrate the hope of Easter! And today as Gary posted this picture of his wife and precious daughters, I know the miracle will continue. The hope will grow in the lives of his children. The hope of Easter changes everything. 


So, from my family to yours, I wish you a blessed day and the hope of Easter! 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So Loved 

Yesterday my five youngest children and I made a one-day, out-of-town road trip and I was the driver. It was a very beautiful and happy day spent with lots of folks we love. 


Naturally, on the drive home I was doing a lot of thinking and pondering. Things like, never ever give up on the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish. His love is the most powerful force on earth and can change situations, people’s hearts and the direction of a person’s life. I needed that reminder. Maybe you did too. 

Another truth that is stamped on my heart was verified yesterday. There’s an old adage that says you can’t pick your family. I’d like to firmly disagree. Yes you can. Marriage is a perfect example. A choice to be family is made. Adoption is another example. A choice to become family is made. But there are other examples as well when no judge declares anything at all. Instead hearts declare belonging to one another because we so love them. 

You may not can choose who you are related to by blood, but you do get to choose your family. I’ve chosen well. Not only by marriage and adoption, but also by relationship. By caring and loving and praying and connecting and communicating and hoping and helping and sometimes the biding of time, by so loving them. 


During the next few weeks I will be in four different states visiting family. I will see two dozen family members. I am blood related to less than half of those, only nine to be exact. And yet, they are all my family. 

How can that be? I’ll tell you clearly how. Because love trumps blood, love trumps hate, love trumps differences,  love trumps distances, love trumps circumstances and love even trumps the law of the land sometimes. Relationships are formed when commitment is made, time is invested and choices are lived out. I so love them. 

Today I am loving the beauty of love. The choices we make, the lives we live, the paths we walk and yes, oh yes, the families we have!

Below is a photo of a few of my most beloved family members. I don’t share a single drop of blood with any of them. What we do share is love and let me assure you I so love them!


Below is another photo. This one is a photo of my mother and sister with whom I share blood. Guess what? We are family, not because of blood but because of relationship, precious memories, laughter and the bonds of love! I so love them. 


I can’t conclude my thoughts without adding this. The MOST important family decision you can ever make will be to become a part of the family of God. Choosing to be adopted into His family, as His child, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ will be the most life-altering decision you ever make. You know why? Because of love, once again, because of love. He so loves us. 

The Cost of Christmas

I’ll admit that I’m starting this day a bit exhausted, physically that is. The majority of mommas could probably say the same thing about this time on Christmas Day. My day will require a lot of me. My attention, my energy, even my patience will be in high demand. It will cost me. 
Mommas stretch themselves on days like today. We’ve planned and worked and wrapped and labeled and cooked and organized until we’ve just about come to the end of our reserve tank of energy. Even so, once again, we have managed to pull it off and pull it together. 


I’ll tell you one thing, if I could only tell you only one thing, about this Christmas. It will be good for my soul. My children gathered together under one roof at the same time, healthy, happy, whole. Y’all know it is my favorite place to be, together that is. It will be worth the cost. 
This year has been chaotic and challenging, breathtaking and beautiful in so many ways. There have been some heart-rending moments, some tears, some struggles, some unexpected changes. There have been some victories, some precious memories made and lots of opportunity for spiritual growth.  But here at the end of this sometimes tumultuous 2016 love has shown up, shown out and made my heart glad. 

No extravagant gifts, no expensive trips nor even any impressive decorations to speak of. But, oh the wealth we are blessed with. The wealth of seeing my children smile and hold them close when it was time to weep. The wealth of cheering them on at their best moments and reaching for their hand when they’ve stumbled and helping them to their feet. Such wealth. 

So, while this day will require a lot of me, it will give me so much in return. I’m so thankful that another momma 2,000 years ago, gave her all, more she she imagined she could as she delivered the greatest gift the world would ever receive. She was the first momma to pay  the cost of Christmas, the very first Christmas. 

Stranger Danger

As an adoptive mom of several older children, which means they weren’t infants or toddlers when we adopted them, I had no control over the first years of their lives. By the time they legally became ours, there were some deep seated attitudes, beliefs and hurts. 

I could say to them that they were beautiful, valuable and cherished. I could say to them that they were safe and would not be rejected or abandoned. I could say to them that they could trust us. But, they didn’t recognize my voice. In the beginning, I was just another stranger and that meant danger. 

Now, the voices that were familiar to them were the ones that reminded them to trust no one, to keep a safe distance, to manipulate and lie, to be afraid, to be cautious and on guard. 

When you adopt an older child, there is often a lot that needs undoing before they are even able to hear what you are trying to say, certainly before they learn to recognize your voice. There can be frustrating times, times when you wonder if they will ever hear you, believe you, trust you. 

To tell you the truth, it would just be too much for me to face alone. I wouldn’t attempt it without a strong support structure in place. And as a Christian, Jesus is the strong foundation that I rely first and foremost upon. 

You see, He understands fully what it means to accept into your family those who have been battered and bruised. He knows all about what it means to reach out to those who don’t yet easily recognize your voice, trust you, obey you or appreciate you. He understands all about the other voices that haunt and taunt. He can love those who haven’t found their courage to love Him back in like manner. He is the Good Shepherd and He is an expert when it comes to shepherding broken hearts. 

Chances are, you are standing in one of these two places today if not both. Perhaps, like me, you are an apprentice shepherd, reaching out to the broken people in your life, your community and your world. Perhaps you are one of the broken-hearted and you’re struggling with the voices that have been destructive and loud, preventing you from hearing the voice of Jesus, your Good Shepherd. Perhaps the loudest and most destructive voice is that of your own. 

In either case, take courage. Listen as often and as intently to the voice of the Shepherd until His voice is raised above the din and then run to him, no longer afraid.