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Behind the Pages

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Not Good Enough, my contribution to THE ELI DIARIES series, is available now!

The brainchild of prolific author, Bill Myers, this series asks the question, “What if Jesus were in high school today?” With that question in mind, Bill asked a few of us to write stories from the perspective of one of the biblical characters: Mary Magdalene (Maggie), Judas (Jude), Thomas (Tommy), Martha, and Peter (Pete).

Jesus, in this series, is called Eli, and each character interacts with Him in different ways. And each character, at this point in the story, is still a seeker of Truth. None, as yet, are followers.

When Bill called me to discuss writing Martha’s stories, I laughed. He saw Martha, pre-salvation, as a hypocritical, holier-than-thou pharisee whose “goody two-shoes” mindset prevented her from truly seeing that Eli is God’s son. I laughed because I have been that girl. I am, in the words of a favorite writer, a recovering pharisee myself.

From there, the story fell into place. Martha has two younger siblings – Mary and Laz. I have three children: two girls and a boy. Friends and family who read this will recognize elements of my children in the dialogue between these siblings. Friends and family will see quite a bit of “real life” in several of the characters, as a matter of fact. Writers are told to “write what you know,” and so that is what I tried to do.

Those of us who know God’s word know that Martha ended up being a devoted follower of Jesus. This project has allowed me to consider how she got there. It has been an exciting experiment. It has also been enlightening – as I expose Martha’s hypocrisy, I see my own. I, too, struggle to ‘earn’ God’s favor. I struggle with equating being good with being righteous. I also am in desperate need of the Grace of God, even though I don’t always recognize that need.

This is the first of Martha’s stories. There will be more in the coming months. Please read this and the other stories in this series, as this “world” is intertwined. And, if you enjoy them, please consider leaving a review.


Remembering My Mom

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 25 comments

My mother passed away on October 6.

She was 62.

Eight months ago, her only health issue was recurring kidney stones. Eight months ago, she had so many plans for the future: She had her Retirement countdown clock going. She planned to return to the courtroom as a lawyer, once she finished her tenure as an elementary school principal. She had her art room ready so she could devote more time to that gift. She talked about traveling to Japan, where she was born, and to SE Asia, to visit my younger sister. She was going to come out to  Emma’s graduation in May and visit my youngest sister in Texas. She was going to live part-time in Tennessee, to be closer to family and friends there.

All those plans came to an abrupt halt when, on March 26, she was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer. We all had to look it up – no one had heard of that cancer before. It is rare. And it is lethal. She knew within hours of the diagnosis what doctors didn’t confirm until a few days later: this type of cancer leaves no survivors.

Mom fought it with everything she had – she endured heavy doses of chemo for three months. She continued working during those three months because that is who she was. And, when she began losing her hair, she bought pink, blonde, and red-headed wigs to match her fancy dresses for school. Because that, too, is who she was: Strong, capable, and fiercely independent.

She also had a great sense of humor. Days after her diagnosis, I  sat in the oncologist’s office with her. Several old ladies came in, wearing their loose flowerly dresses and thick white orthopaedic shoes. Mom pointed to one of them, nudged me said, “You know, I never wanted to be an old woman. At least now, I won’t have to be!”

I was able to return to Florida the last week of Mom’s life. And, as I told her best friend and caretaker, Susan, the woman I saw that week didn’t even look like my mom. Sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s really gone because of that. Cancer had robbed Mom of more than just her hair and weight. It trapped her in a body that, by the time I returned, prevented her from moving, from speaking, and ultimately, from breathing.

I am processing this loss. I don’t think I can fully express all the emotions I am experiencing – though all of them, at different times in different ways, come forward. More will come, I know, as time passes.

What I do know is that my mom is no longer trapped in a body that is betraying her. I know that even her best day here on this earth is nothing compared to that first breath she took in heaven. I know that her regrets, her mistakes, even her aspirations have been forgotten in the face of Jesus, in the reality of living daily in a body that is sin-free and a Home that is eternal…

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ””

-C.T. Studd

Adventures in SE Asia

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

My son, Thomas, and I spent an amazing two weeks on the other side of the world. Because of where many of the folks I saw there are working, I have to be careful how much I say. So forgive me if I seem vague. It is not because I want to be, but because that is necessary for these precious brothers and sisters.

Part I – Fun with Family

Our first stop was the country where my sister and her family lives. It is a beautiful, though humid, place filled with amazing people. There were also some strange sights. Like this:

That’s a toilet. ON THE FLOOR. And if you’ll look around, you’ll see there’s no toilet paper. Just a water hose and a floor drain. Thankfully, there were also “western” toilets. I am not ashamed to say that I waited until the latter were available.

There were also some really neat sights – markets and malls and rivers and so much more…

Thomas discovered that soccer is a universal language. Behind my sister’s house is a large field where neighborhood  boys play nightly. They have to dodge cow patties that are deposited throughout the week (and some of them play with no shoes. Yuck!!). But they play hard and they have fun. And they accepted Thomas right in. He became one of the gang in the week we were there. He even got up early on the weekend (Friday and Saturday there) to run.  And he rode on a motorbike – with 3 other boys! – to local food vendors where he tried foods that I did not have the stomach to try. Some of the boys spoke a little English, and between that and hand signals, they all got along just fine. Thomas was sad to leave these new friends.

Part II – Sisters in Singapore

My sister and I got away for a few days and visited the amazing city/country of Singapore. Wow. If Disney World and NYC had a baby, it would be Singapore. It is beautiful, clean, and so very modern. Like visiting the future.


Part III – Teaching in Thailand

Our last few days were spent in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My sister attended a Homeschool Conference with fellow workers. The folks there came from all over SE Asia. Some, like my sister, live far from any other American families, and so this time was refreshing on so many levels. My niece got to see friends from the states – she even got to have a sleepover! A rare treat for her.

Volunteers from all over the US came to teach the students, care for the babies, and speak to the parents. I spent most of my time with the older kids, and I loved getting to know them and hearing their stories! I enjoyed getting some time with their parents, as well – moms who have so many jobs, not the least of which is homeschooling, and who do it with such joy. I got to see the excitement on each student’s face – 200+ – when they received the books that so many from here helped provide. Books in English are hard to find where many of these folks are, so it was a blessing for them to get these.

Thomas got to ride an elephant while we were there, and we were able to get away one night to visit a market not far from where we were staying. I would have loved to see more of this beautiful country, but there just wasn’t time.

It was an amazing trip, filled with more stories and memories than I can possibly fit into one blog. I am so thankful to have been able to go. What a blessing to step into my sister’s world and get time with her and her precious family. And what a blessing to meet other members of the bigger Family, who, like my sister, are serving and shining in some dark, difficult places.

I was humbled and challenged and awed by all I saw and experienced. And I am SO thankful to have had the opportunity to go.

Oh, The Places We’ll Go!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Friends, I could use your prayers: My son, Thomas, and I leave tonight for a two-week trip to SE Asia! We are super excited and a little bit nervous. It’s a LONG way away!

Our primary reason for going is to visit my sister and her family. They serve in a closed country in that region. Alexis and I will take a short trip to Singapore, just for fun. Then we’ll all go to Thailand: My sister and niece will attend an educational conference there, and I will teach a few classes to high school students and parents on college prep writing skills.

We are excited to go, and amazed at all the provisions the Father lavished on us along the way. The Conference Director told me she would love to have a new book for each student at the conference. All 250 of them. I can tell you the Enemy worked hard to keep that from happening! But in the end, the Body came through in amazing ways. Every single child has a brand-new book coming to them!

We have been planning this trip for more than six months, and it is hard to believe it is finally time to go.

We have a few specific requests we’d love for you to remember as we head out:

Image result for california to thailand image

  • Pray we are a blessing to all we come in contact with – especially my sister and her family
  • Pray we stay healthy and safe throughout the trip
  • Pray all our luggage gets through customs without any problems
  • Pray all our luggage makes it to the final destination!
  • Pray for our family – my husband Dave, and daughters Emma and Ellie – who will be staying behind while Thomas and I travel
  • Pray we know the Savior better as a result of this trip
  • Pray we can be a Light in every place we go

Thanks for praying, friends! I will post pics on my social media accounts, and I’ll write a post about the trip when we return.


Eat the Broccoli

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Remember when you were a kid and you hated what your mom served for dinner, and she’d say something like this: “I know you hate broccoli, but there are starving children in Africa who would love this meal.”?

I hated that speech.


I know, Mom was right. But you know what else? I hated broccoli (still do – there’s not enough melted cheese in the world to make that veggie palatable*). I literally gagged it down. I would have gladly given every serving of broccoli I had to the starving children of Africa. But that wasn’t an option.

I don’t make my kids eat broccoli, but I do find myself saying things like that.  And not about food, but – worse – about life: “Sure, things are tough right now. But it could be worse: You could be in the path of a hurricane. Or have terminal cancer. You really shouldn’t complain.”

It is a terrible thing to do. When we are struggling, we need to deal with the struggle. We need to look at that nasty broccoli sitting on our plate and recognize we have to eat it. Mom’s not letting us up until we do. We can cry and whine and complain and fake gag, but when we’re done, the broccoli will still be sitting there. Getting even more slimy and bland. Might as well eat it while it’s hot so it’ll slide down faster.

Image result for trials in life

In life, sometimes things happen we just don’t like. Tough stuff. Pretending it’s not tough doesn’t make it easier. Recognizing other people have it worse doesn’t help either. Our tough stuff is still there, waiting to be dealt with.

So we need to deal with the “broccoli” in our lives. We need to cry out to God about these struggles. He’ll get you through whatever difficulty you are facing. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His purposes for us are great.

We don’t get a “pass” on trials. But we do have a gracious heavenly Father who will guide us through every step, making us stronger and more like Him in the process.

*I apologize to broccoli-lovers. I’m sure it’s a wonderful vegetable with great qualities and maybe you even have a recipe that is so good I can barely taste the broccoli…but I still hate it, and now that I’m an adult, I can refuse it any time I want. So no recipes, please! If you feel the need to send something, the name of a good counselor – one who deals in childhood vegetable trauma – would be most beneficial 😉


Posted by on Sep 2, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Book #2 in THE ELI DIARIES is available!

In case you missed the initial announcement, THE ELI DIARIES is a series of novellas that address the question, “What if Jesus were in high school today?” Bill Myers, best-selling author (and so much more!), created this world, where Jesus (Eli Shepherd) lives in Ventura, CA and attends Ventura High. His classmates include Maggie (Mary Magdalene), Jude (Judas Iscariot), Martha, Tommy (Thomas), and Pete (Peter).

The first book, The Battle Begins, written by Myers, is told from Satan’s perspective – the Enemy wants nothing more than to destroy Eli’s mission before it ever begins.

This second book, written by the amazing Melody Carlson, is from Maggie’s perspective. I got to read this a couple weeks ago and it is SO good. We all know Mary Magdalene after she surrendered her life to Christ. But what led her to that decision? Who was she before, and how did she leave that behind to follow Jesus? Melody Carlson begins to examine these questions in this first installment of Maggie’s story.

The third book in the series will release next month and will feature Jude. Mine, starring Martha, will be out in November. (Then Maggie comes back in December for the next chapter of her story!)

These books are short – easy weekend reads that will keep you thinking long after you put them down. I am excited to be part of the team writing them, and I hope you join our team of readers!

Hearing God

Posted by on Aug 26, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard of a lot of things done “In God’s name” – many of them are awful: Some of the white supremacists who attacked Charlottesville did so believing they were acting on God’s behalf. I know of husbands whoImage result for hearing from God pervert scriptures and mistreat their wives, believing they have God’s authority to do so. I know pastors who encourage their people, from the pulpit, to behave in ways that directly oppose the word of God. Daily, I see and hear people spewing hate and justifying it, saying they’re doing “God’s work.”

No wonder Christians are viewed as dangerous.

I vacillate between complete frustration over this and overwhelming heartache.

Followers of Christ – we must be VERY careful when we say we are hearing from God. We should not use that phrase lightly. We should be like the Bereans in Acts 17, who “searched scriptures daily” to determine what was true.

DImage result for God's will never contradicts his wordoes God speak to us? Yes! But His will is always consistent with His Word.

Sometimes it’s very clear: My daughter felt God telling her to share Christ with her co-workers last week. That was certainly from Him – we are clearly told to share the Good News with everyone.

Sometimes it’s not as clear: Two and half years ago, we made the decision to move to CA. There was no, “Hey, McGee’s, go to CA!” verse in the Bible. But there were principles we could rely on – We sought wise counsel from others (Prov. 11:14). We discussed who we were with the leadership of the church/school, and found that our gifts could be used to strengthen that body (I Cor. 14:12). And Dave and I were in agreement about the decision (Phil. 2:1-2). All solid evidences that this move was directed by God.

I urge you, sisters (and any brothers reading this), don’t use God’s name as a weapon, don’t sin and say you are doing it in God’s name. Don’t say you’re doing God’s will if it contradicts His word. And study for yourself to see if what others are saying is from God is truly from Him.

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Out of Control

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I am ashamed to admit it, but even after 30 years of walking with the Lord, I still doubt sometimes. I still look at situations and feel like I need to – or can – fix them. And, yet, because God is incredibly patient and kind, He still , after 30 years, graciously reminds me that He is in control, and He loves us.Image result for god at work

Here’s my most recent “Crisis”: My oldest daughter’s college choice. First, I need to tell you that I agonized ALL YEAR over the fact that Emma would be leaving home. I was stressed, my body was messed up, my emotions were all over the place. I was a wreck.

And then, when I finally worked through all that and was at peace with her leaving…everything fell apart. The financing we thought we had for her to attend college away from home fell through.

So then I was stressed because I felt badly for her – all her plans, all her friends…my poor girl!! Why can’t she leave home?

So we spent the summer trying to help her adjust to this new reality. (By “we”, I mean my husband) She cancelled her registration, room and board, and schedule for her out-of-state school, and registered for classes at the local community college.

I struggled with that, too, because Emma wants to be a Christian counselor. To best prepare for that career, Emma would most benefit from attending a Christian college. But the Lord didn’t seem to be allowing that.

Image result for god is in control

And then, less than a month before school was to start, God started blowing open the doors for Emma to attend a Christian college in our area. She got scholarships, a Grant, and gained entrance into the school’s Honor program, where she can major in Psychology, taught from a Christian worldview. And she can live at home!

God, of course, knew all of this. He knew this last year when I was having my meltdowns over Emma leaving home. He knew it when I was stressed out all this summer over her not  leaving home. He knew it when I chose to wallow in fear and worry instead of trusting in Him.

Now, as I look back over this incredibly unexpected turn of events, I realize I spent a miserable year, living in fear and worry and stress, when I didn’t need to. God had everything worked out for Emma’s good. He cares for her far more than I do, and He knows what is truly best for her.

I could have enjoyed last year more, I could have slept better this summer, I could have rested in the peace of knowing God is in control. But I didn’t.

Because God is a good Father, He isn’t done with me. He wants me to learn this lesson, to trust Him no matter what. So He has dropped another situation in my lap where I can either choose to fear or choose to trust. And I’ll be honest, my flesh wants to fear, to stress, to question…But the Spirit reminds me of who God is, what He has done. His Word reminds me that GOD IS IN CONTROL, and I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. God is at work. And He is good. I can – and should – place all my trust in Him.

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. ~Proverbs 29:25

Freedom from Legalism

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I always worry when I write about legalism. It’s like writing about humility – the minute you think you’ve got it, it’s gone.

But I feel the need because it’s just so easy to slip into a legalistic attitude. I know, because I fight that battle daily.

Image result for to do list


So what is legalism? Most simply put, it’s “pursuing good works with the intention of earning God’s favor.” Few Christians would say we believe that – obviously, we know the Bible says salvation is by grace through faith. But practically, it just “feels” like we should have to do more.

I, personally, like “checklists”. Right now, I have a long electronic Post-It note on my computer with a list of papers I need to grade, emails I need to send, people I need to contact. I love deleting each task as it’s completed. I feel so accomplished!!

But when that attitude worms its way into my Christian life, I’m in trouble. When reading my Bible, praying,  and going to church becomes a “checklist”, I am moving into legalism. When I feel like checking those “boxes” earns me ‘points’ with God, I am fully immersed in legalism. Once there, it’s an easy jump to look at others and judge them – they aren’t reading the “right” version of the Bible, they aren’t praying in the “right” way, not going to the “right” church. They, in short, aren’t serving God “my” way, so they are wrong.

What’s the cure for this? Jesus. Image result for jesus love me


Jesus didn’t come to bring us a “To-Do” list. The Old Testament believers tried that for  a couple thousand years. It didn’t work. Trying to earn salvation is like trying to dig a hole to get to the moon: with every move, we just get farther from our goal.

Jesus came to offer us the GIFT of salvation because He loves us. He loves us!! I sing and say that so much that I sometimes forget the amazing truth of it. Jesus loves ME!!

So the cure for trying to earn God’s favor is to accept God’s favor. And, once we accept it, we can love others because Jesus loves us. We can forgive others because Jesus forgives us. We can accept faults in others because Jesus accepts us, faults and all. Reading and praying and attending church isn’t a means to earn the favor of God, but a way to rejoice in the fact that we have it.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1

The Eli Diaries

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 comments

It has been a while since I’ve written anything new, and I am SUPER excited to tell you that I am back!! I am thrilled to tell you guys about the new project I am part of…

In this series of novellas, the question is asked:

What if Jesus were in high school today?
Who would he hang out with?
What would he say?
What would he do?

Authors Bill Myers, Melody Carlson, Jeff Gerke, Shawn Hopkins, Tim Shoemaker, and I will each be writing from the perspective of one of Eli’s fellow students:

  • Maggie: the all-school sleep-around
  • Judas: the super-rich friend always looking for an angle
  • Martha: the good, uber-religious girl
  • Tommy: the pessimistic downer
  • Pete: a hot-tempered jock with a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease

The first in the series is out today, and is told from Satan’s perspective. His goal, of course, is to destroy Eli’s mission before it ever begins.

Please check out this exciting series, and tell your friends.

Thanks, guys!! It’s good to be back 🙂