A Gift of Hope

Julie's Cross2

Recently while on my way to work, I noticed a new memorial cross on the side of the road. It was where someone’s loved one had died from a car accident. I remember the aftermath of that one. I remember most of them.

I notice them because almost every day for the last five and a half years, I’ve driven by the place where my daughter Julie wrecked. Not by choice, but because it’s not far from my house and to get anywhere, I have to go that way.

Not long after Julie’s death, my son built a beautiful wooden cross and placed it where his sister wrecked. It stayed there for a long while. It was a precious gift of love in her memory.

So when I passed by that new memorial crosses I mentioned earlier, I had a thought. Whenever I come upon one of those memorials, what if I leave one of my devotion books for the family of the loved ones? I have plenty of books. I could leave one as a gift. It’s not much, but it’s something I can do.

I think I’ll put a stash of them in my car, along with some zip top plastic bags so the books don’t get wet in the rain. Maybe the gesture will give the family another memory to hold onto when they pass by the place where their loved one died.

Maybe instead of the claws of grief, they will feel the warm rays of hope.

Maybe the book will remind them that their Heavenly Father knows how much they are hurting, and that He wants to comfort them. Maybe it will help them heal, knowing they are not alone. Maybe, they will receive the love the Lord Jesus wants to give them.

Maybe they will feel the Lord’s strong arms upholding them like He has done for me all these years. Maybe, just maybe, they will get to see a glimpse of how beautiful their loved one is now, in the presence of the King of Kings. And maybe that will turn their mourning into joy.

I hope so. I most definitely hope so.

Phyllis Keels

A Beloved Herd


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I will get to see some horses this weekend! (A belated birthday present from my dear best friend)

I’m so excited! Thinking about horses reminded me of this post about the beautiful Lipizzaner horses – the Legendary White Stallions.

They really are magnificent, and a beautiful picture of how our relationship with the Good Shepherd can be. I hope this blesses you, dear reader.


I don’t often watch documentaries about animals. If you know me, you might be thinking, “Why not? She loves animals!”

Yes, I do. Very much. But, I can’t bring myself to watch anything where they get eaten by a predator, or they are being hunted, or they go through hardship.

Even if nothing bad happens to them, I’ll find that the show is about how tenderly a mother cares for her baby or something sweet like that, and I’ll end up crying my eyes out.

That pretty much limits my options.

Still, when the PBS special called “Legendary White Stallions” came on, I couldn’t resist. It was about the world famous Lipizzaner horses, after all.

Despite weeping through almost the whole show, I stuck it out. Most of the draw for me was just seeing those breathtakingly beautiful stallions, but part of it was something else.

I had forgotten how much like horses we are. The longer the show went on, the more I realized how important it is to know the Master.

Lipizzaner are raised to do what they do. Throughout their lives, they never know a time when they are not being cared for, tended to, and loved by their masters. Because of this, they are never afraid of what their masters ask them to do.

Because they have been under the loving, consistent hand of the trainers, these beautiful horses will do maneuvers that most horses would never attempt to do. All because these horses trust their masters.

Why? Because they know they are loved. It’s as simple as that.

You think animals don’t know when they are loved? Oh, they know. And they know when they are not loved.

My dog trusts me because she knows me. She knows that I would never intentionally harm her. She knows that she is loved – greatly loved. Because she knows, she does what I ask, even when she doesn’t understand why I’m asking.

When I thought of how these magnificent horses (and my dog) relax in the love they are given, I could see so clearly how happy they are. This is such a lovely picture of allowing the Lord Jesus to “handle” us.

Whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, we were made by the Master. My friend, I can tell you from a lifetime of being “handled” by the Lord that we understand only a fraction of that love. His love for us is beyond comprehension.

While He may ask us to go through things we don’t understand, things that are uncomfortable, or even painful, they are for good. Not so that He can put on a show, like with the Lipizzaner, but so that we will know how greatly we are loved.

All of this is so that we will know Him.

If you haven’t felt like you’ve been in the beloved herd all your life, do not fear. Whether you’ve been aware of it or not, you have been cared for, cherished, and valued all your life – by the Master who gave His life for you, because He loves you.

Yes, you. Jesus really does love you, friend. Let Him be the Master, and then relax under His loving hand.

Phyllis Keels

Another Holiday Faire

I’m sure there is no shortage of fun stuff to do this fall, but I have to tell you about a really great thing. This November 5th, First Baptist Church of Salisbury will have their annual Holiday Faire. I hope you will come by and visit the table where Sandra Ardoin and I will have all of our books for sale.

Until then, here is a post I wrote after last year’s event. I’m already praying that the Lord will bring another “one” we can minister to.


(Written November 18, 2015)

On November 7th, I was at my church’s Holiday Faire. A dear friend (who is a fine author and has been a mentor to me for many years) and I rented a space together to sell our books.

During these types of events, I know by now that the Lord brings one person to me – the one I’m there to bless, encourage, comfort. Sometimes He brings many people, but there will always be “the one” who needs His touch more than all the others.

Please understand this is not about me. The Lord can minister to anyone without having to go through us. He graciously allows me to be present when He does this, and that is a great joy to me. It is like a sweet fragrance to my broken heart and I am always grateful for His kindness to me in this.

I kept looking for “the one” throughout that day. Then, just about the time I remembered that sometimes I don’t know who “the one” is, (but He knows) she showed up.

Ten minutes before closing that day, a young woman came our table. She picked up my children’s book “Emma and the Paper” and asked if it had anything about Jesus in it.

It was all I could do not to jump out of my chair. There she is, I thought. After I answered her question and told her about the book, she pointed to the children’s book Kimberly Rae wrote, the one I illustrated for her: “When I’m With Jesus,” written for children who have suffered the loss of a loved one.

That’s when this young mother shared with me that her 3-month-old son had died in a car accident earlier this year. That’s when the last shred of wondering whether she was “the one” disappeared like a mist in a summer breeze.

The brokenness was all over her. The terrible, consuming, terrifying grief… I wanted to wrap her in a warm blanket of God’s love and let her sleep peacefully until she can breathe again.

I shared with her that my daughter also died from her injuries in a car accident, so she would really understand that I cared about her grief. I was able to give her a devotion book for her, and the “When I’m With Jesus” book for her 3-year-old daughter who is still grieving for her little brother.

I gave her my contact information and told her I would pray for her, and that she could call me or email me anytime. She may never want to, but often just knowing that you can is enough.

I left the Holiday Faire that day thanking my Heavenly Father for bringing “the one” near me – the wounded lamb who just needed to know that the Good Shepherd has not moved from her side, even though she can’t see Him.

That lamb is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but she is no longer alone, nor will she ever be again.

Soon I will be with my dear friend, sharing a book table at another church’s craft fair. I’ll be watching for the next “one.” I may not know who you are, but the Lord knows.

So come, whoever you are. Jesus will walk with you though it, friend. He will walk with you through it, because He is all about “the one.”

Phyllis Keels

Looking for Peace


When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was to pretend. I could imagine being on a raft in the middle of the ocean, riding a horse over an open plain, being a beautiful movie star, or being on a secluded island.

The island thing was my favorite. Maybe it was the “Gilligan’s Island” influence. To this day the thought still sparks all kinds of happy childhood memories.

I’m not sure what the attraction was or still is. Maybe it’s the thought of being away from civilization and away from all the danger and turmoil in the world. Finding a place of peace. To the mind of a child, being surrounded by water where no evil could come sounded a lot like paradise.

Now I know that the peace I was looking for is not a physical place. It is a person. It is the Lord Jesus.

Think about it. He is the Prince of Peace. That means He is the ruler of the “place” called peace. And in the Hebrew, peace (shalom) means so much more than the absence of strife. According to Strong’s Bible Concordance, it means: whole, sound, tranquil, secure, safe, healthy.

Somehow the English word “peace” doesn’t do justice to the full meaning of shalom.

My friend, don’t let anything rob you of what Jesus wants you to have. Don’t settle for less than what He died to give you. Don’t fall for any counterfeit that will only be temporary.

Go after the eternal, original, perfect peace. The peace you long for is not found in a place. It’s not on an island, or in any human relationship you could ever have. It is not found in the abundance of money or things or the best career.

It is found in the intimate, loving relationship with the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

So how do you get it? You get it when you get Him. He is peace. Simply tell Him that you want Him. He will bring the shalom with Him. Jesus wants you to have His peace even more than you want to have it.

Once you have it, you won’t be afraid of what is going on in the world. Not that you won’t care – it will not disturb your peace.

I know that the New Testament was written in Greek, but Jesus would have spoken the following words in Hebrew or Aramaic. So let me show you what He said to His disciples, and is saying to you today:

Shalom (wholeness, soundness, tranquility, safety, health) I leave with you, My shalom I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NKJV)

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have shalom. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV)

Phyllis Keels

Expect Good Things

May this revised, previously posted entry bless you, dear friend.


I saw a video clip that had me laughing until tears poured from my eyes. It was of some tiny bunny rabbits, each trying to sleep in a separate drinking glass.

One bunny never moved; he was sound asleep. Another used his two front teeth as leverage on the rim to keep from slipping down into the glass. One kept touching his nose to the two rabbits near him, and then trying to get comfortable. Those bunnies were the cutest things!

I can’t help it. I love animals so much – especially the cute furry ones. Just thinking of them makes me smile. If I had my way, I would be surrounded by them all the time.

We all know how different we are. God created each of us to be different, but it’s deeper than that. The things we are attracted to, the things that delight us, are special gifts from our Heavenly Father to show His lovely nature.

We bring Him joy, just by being who we are. The Lord is delighted with us in the same way we are delighted in our own children. We appreciate how even twins have different personalities.

You may not feel unique. You may not feel like there is anything about you that delights anyone. My friend, please understand that there will never be another you. Ever. There are qualities in you that bear the fingerprints of God.

Our dear brother Paul said that we are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10, from the Greek poiēma meaning a product, a fabric, a workmanship). In other words, we are something made by the Master Craftsman.

You have been woven together in such a way that you are truly priceless – above price, irreplaceable.

And my friend, He loves you! Your Heavenly Father has good for you. He wants good for you. He will do good for and to you. How do I know this? Because that is what He has done for me, and because I know Him.

As precious John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) said, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NKJV)

Do you know what that means to me? It means I can expect only light and goodness from my Heavenly Father in Christ Jesus. That is what it means.

And that is what it can mean to you too, dearly beloved of our Heavenly Father.

Phyllis Keels

Brighten the Corner


Photo by Kim Lance (Used by permission. Click image for more of Kim’s work)

The first time I heard the chorus of the old hymn titled “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” I thought the line was, “Right In the Corner Where You Are.”

I was just a kid, and I remember thinking, what? Right in the corner where you are, what? What happens?

That stuck with me over the years and I still think of it when something reminds me of that song.

The photo above reminded me of the song. The little flower, with its “arms” held wide is brightening the corner where it is. It looks like it is dancing in the sunshine. It made me smile and the day I saw it I really needed a smile.

Shortly before seeing this photo, I heard about a young person who was in an accident over the weekend. As I prayed for the family, imaging what they were going through, suddenly my mind was back in ICU watching my 28-year-old daughter take her last breath.

When tragedy strikes someone we know, we try not to make it about us. We try to be there for others, to pray, to comfort, to minister. Even so, we can’t help but feel what we felt when we went through the valley of the shadow of death.

Memories of that valley will sneak up on you. I was in a grocery store recently and saw a mother fussing at her teenage daughter. The mom was frustrated and said some hurtful things. I could see the daughter’s soul shrivel up. It broke my heart.

I wanted to tell the mom, “Please don’t – just enjoy every moment you have with her.” But I didn’t. Instead I prayed that the Lord would give them both what they needed in order to love one another.

If I’ve learned anything from the shattering pain that still pierces my heart each day it’s this: use everything in you to do good. Use your gifts, talents, weakness, strength, faith, and even your grief.

Take your stand and plant your feet, let your roots of faith grow a little deeper as you tell the Lord you need Him today. Trust His kind heart and know that all the riches in glory in Christ Jesus are at your disposal because of what Jesus has done for us.

Your corner may be dark today. It may be devastating to look at, but spread your arms and welcome the sunshine of your Heavenly Father’s love. There will be someone who sees and they will say that you’ve brightened the corner for them, dear friend.

Phyllis Keels

Taking the Long Way

This is a previously posted entry that I needed to read again. I pray it blesses you today.


The long way is the best way. That has been the theme running through my head the last few weeks. Take the long way – don’t rush through – don’t settle for quick and easy. Go for the genuine path – the one that requires you to show endurance and patience.

Quick and easy only gets you somewhere sooner. It doesn’t usually strengthen your faith or grow you character or bring you wisdom. It has only one benefit – it’s fast.

The long way gives you a lot of stuff you might not see right away. It gives you treasure you might not recognize now. It gives you strength you might not feel until you really need it to kick in. It gives you wisdom that increases exponentially with each new piece that is given to you.

I’m all about the real, the genuine, the original, and the pure (the undiluted). In other words, the best. And if the best takes longer, is more difficult, and is more uncomfortable, well, I have to be okay with that.

That is because the real is worth a great price. It is worth striving for. It’s worth straining to get to. It’s worth waiting for.

The Lord’s ways are usually the long way, and I think He does that because it’s the right way to do it. Think about it. If we rush through a class in school and just memorize the material so we can get a good grade, we don’t usually retain that material. That quick and easy way didn’t really do us any good.

I’m saying all this because sometimes the long way makes us tired. Sometimes it gets us discouraged. Sometimes, we feel like stopping and not getting back up for a long time, don’t we?

That’s when we need someone to come alongside us and lift us up. We need someone to encourage us, someone to make the long way a little easier.

The Lord often sends me help like this (so often, that I have lost count) and even if the help comes in another person, there is always a third person there to lift us both – the Holy Spirit.

Do you know that this is a huge part of His job? One of the words Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit is parakletos, and it means “one who comes alongside; called to one’s aid.”

Yes, the long way might be more difficult, it might be slow, it might be tiring, but it will not be lonely. I can assure you of that.

Just remember: He is always there, whether you feel His presence or not. All you need to do is ask Him to help you up. That’s it. Just ask.

This simple truth brings tears to my eyes, because the Lord makes things so easy for us. All we have to do is ask and allow Him to help us up. Simply give our consent to be helped.

Each time I do this, I find that I’m not plodding along anymore. I’m flying up high on the very breath of God. And somehow, from up here, the way doesn’t look so long after all.

Phyllis Keels

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31, NKJV

It Starts By Knowing


Some weeks I sit down to write a post for this blog and I’ve got nothin’. Today is one of those days.

So, I’ll just take this time to tell you that I care about you, dear reader. I may not know who you are, but your Heavenly Father does. And you are not reading this by accident or coincidence. You are here because the Holy Spirit drew you here.

You are here so the Lord can speak to your heart. He wants you to know how much He loves you. Yes, you. Right where you are.

You may be thinking, “But you don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know what I am. If you knew, you wouldn’t say that God loves me right where I am.”

Precious child of God, I do not need to know what you’ve done, because you don’t have to be good for God to love you. If that were true, He wouldn’t be able to love any of us. We’ve all been bad in our lives.

It’s not about us. It is about Him and His lovely Son Jesus.

You see if we could earn God’s love or His favor or His presence in our lives why did Jesus have to die in our place? Think about that for a while.

No, my friend. God loved you enough to let His Son take your place, and mine. He loved us enough to let His Son obey His commands on our behalf, and then die for sin that He never committed. All for us.

So what do we do with that information? Simple: be grateful. Yes. Be grateful and live freely in the sunshine of His love for you. Once you are there, He will explain everything else to you in His perfect timing.

But it starts with knowing you are loved. When you know how much you are loved, you respond out of love. That is the heart of God right there: to give to you His love. It is the heart of The Father for His beloved children.

Just rest in that thought today, dear reader. You are loved. You are so greatly loved!

Phyllis Keels

You’re Not Alone


Do you ever feel like you’re the only one? The only one who is lonely, sad, grieved, betrayed, etc.? Like no one even understands or much less cares about what you’re going through?

You know that’s a big fat lie from the devil, right? It’s a cruel tactic to get you isolated where he can torment you. Don’t fall for it.

I’ve been tempted by that lie for years. I used to withdraw from everyone, hide and wait until the feeling passed. Except it wouldn’t pass. The more I withdrew, the worse I felt.

One day someone asked me a question that revealed the enemy’s purpose in getting us isolated. The question was, “In the wild, which animal does a lion go after?” The answer is: the one who has separated itself from the herd. That animal is easy prey for the lion.

The Bible tells us that the devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) But notice it says AS a roaring lion. Not that he is a roaring lion.

The devil is a liar, and a murderer. Jesus said this in John 8:44. The devil wants you to think that he is a lion but he’s not.

There is only one Lion: the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah. And my friend, He is also the Good Shepherd.

Jesus came to lay down His life for His sheep, and He certainly has done it. Now He longs to have all of His sheep together in one fold so we can receive His love, and so we will not fear a defeated enemy.

Don’t listen to the false roar of lies from your enemy. Listen instead to the gentle call of the Good Shepherd. If you’re feeling alone, tell someone about it. Let your friends and family help you and show you kindness. There are people who long to comfort you and minister to you.

And most of all, tell the Lord how you feel. He wants you to come to Him so He can heal the wound in your heart. He knows how you feel, my friend, and He loves you more than His own life.

Place yourself in the strong embrace of the Lord Jesus who will never, ever leave you or forsake you.

Give Your Way Out


Photo by Kim Lance (Used by permission. Click image for more of Kim’s work)

The reason that spiritual things don’t seem to make sense to us is that they are backward from the natural/physical things we can see.

Think about it: we believe something is real when we can see it, yet Jesus said to Martha at the tomb of her brother Lazarus (after he had been dead four days), “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, NKJV) He said, “believe” and then “see.”

And indeed she did see! Her brother walked out of that tomb fully alive and well.

Another thing we do is to give whatever we get. When people are unkind to us, we are unkind back to them. When money is withheld from us, we tend to hold onto every cent we have left and withhold money from others.

My friend, the Lord’s ways are of grace, of giving, of loving. He allows us to love our way out of unkindness, to forgive our way out of hurt, and to give our way out of lack.

If you want to be loved, then love others. If you want to be free from financial lack, then give. If you want to be free from bitterness and anger, then forgive. Give your way out.

How do we do this? Realize that you are already deeply loved, completely forgiven, and abundantly, and richly blessed. Believe it, then you will see it – just like Martha saw Lazarus walk out of that tomb alive and restored.

Don’t look at what the natural/physical tells you. Simply agree that the Lord HAS already blessed you and provided everything you need. When? When Jesus hung on the cross in our place, suffered the punishment for sin, and paid for our glorious inheritance as children of our Heavenly Father!

When you know you are loved, when you know you have been forgiven, when you know you are rich then you freely love, forgive, and give to others.

Be free, dear friend. Just be free and give your way out of whatever is holding you back today.

Phyllis Keels