Dear Peanut-Girl, What I’ve Learned Through the Fantastic Fours

You’re five. Just pressing my fingertips to those nine computer keys hurts. You’re five. How did this happen? My baby. Now five.



Yet those words make me happy, too. You’re different – different good. I like it. I like you. You’re not at all who I expected you to be. You’re better.

You’re crazy. You’re precious. You’re precocious. You’re your daddy’s girl and your mama’s shadow. You’re your grandmama’s angel and your grandpa’s delight. And you’re your very own person.


I’ve learned a lot through this past year – this year I’ve called the Fantastic Fours. Here’s what I’ve learned…

I’ve learned that every year, just about three weeks after your birthday, you test me. You push me, you push the limits, you push yourself, and you prove what you’re made of.

I’ve learned that consistent discipline and persistent love bring us both to the place of experiencing God’s best.

I’ve learned that mutual respect works with more than just jobs and marriages. It works with kids, too.

I’ve learned that you crave affection and long for words of affirmation – and it’s my joy to give you both.


I’ve learned that what makes you happy is being loved, and for you, that means spending time together.

I’ve learned that you can shoulder responsibility beyond your years – with grace and joy.

I’ve learned that four-year-old silliness isn’t my “thing”. (Sorry, just isn’t.)

I’ve learned that you love your friends, Go Fish, and Dinosaurs.


I’ve learned that you love to learn and homeschooling is definitely for us.

I’ve learned that I must allow you to teach me so I may teach you.

I’ve learned that children are good pray-ers, good forgivers, good peacemakers.

I’ve learned that you want a Tinkerbell guitar, Tinkerbell motorcycle, Tinkerbell baseball bat, Tinkerbell socks, and Tinkerbell clock. Ariel used to be your favorite. Tinkerbell won out this year.

I’ve learned that you’re a challenge, and I’m up for it.

I’ve learned that I really like you. A lot. I think you’re cool. (Yes, “cool”. It’s a word that was rad or down or hot or sick or whatever back when your mom was young…but still a lot older than you are now.)




I’ve learned that the “Wiggle Game” is by far the best way to help you learn anything – really, anything.

I’ve learned that it hurts me when other little kids hurt you.

I’ve learned that God really does lead me in how to lead you as long as I stay close enough to hear Him.

I’ve learned that you’re learning to love Jesus, and I have no greater joy than to hear that my child is walking in the truth.

I’ve learned that you make a good partner, a good team-mate. And team mates we are – you, Daddy, and me. Team Greene.

I’ve learned that when school just isn’t working for this day or this week or this month, we’re good! We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re us. And we’re good.

I’ve learned that when school IS working, we can’t allow others to discourage us. We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re not “pushing” anything. We’re us. And we’re good together.

I’ve learned that the sound of your laughter is the best sound in the world and your smile makes me happier than almost anything else.

I’ve learned that for all my days, all my life, I’ll love you – but then again, I already knew that. Happy fifth birthday, Peanut-Girl. I’m so very thankful you’re my daughter.

Until Then…

It’s December. Where has the time gone? I remember bits and pieces, and have many more scribbled in my Thanksgiving journal. Remember that one? It’s the one we went through together, every Thursday, for over a year. That was a while ago, though, wasn’t it? As I look back at the posts on this blog for 2014, I see that there have only been two others. It’s been neglected for a while, and now wears a gray cover of dust in which one could scrawl the letters, “Write on me.


You see, as a content writer, I’ve gained some paying clients, and I’ve taken on some editing and writing on the side, ever trying to add to my portfolio. My little Peanut-Girl is now three-and-a-half, and she knows everything – or at least she wants to. Believe it or not, she needs more attention than ever – that is, even though she’s physically able to meet more of her own needs, she needs increasing amounts of intellectual stimulation for her little brain to grow strong and smart. And, happily, that’s what I’m here for – though part of helping her grow is teaching her that the world is her school room and she can learn on her own, too. But that’s why I’ve chosen to stay home and raise her: To teach her these things and much more.


And all this doesn’t leave much time for personal blogging. Yet you can still find me on the blogosphere. I blog over at Jeep with Kids, and God has given me a new twice-a-month outlet for writing what He puts on my heart: My church’s women’s ministry blog! You can find that blog, Woman to Woman, here.


I plan to begin re-blogging many of the posts I write for Woman to Woman here on Philosophies of Strawberry Short Cake, but I’d love if you popped over to check out the site and follow along! I am partnered with two other Jesus-lovin’ ladies: One is a long-time friend, and the other is my lovely mama! I know you will encounter the Spirit of the Lord there as you read what He lays on our hearts each week.


This blog, at Short Cake Writes, will always have my heart, and there are some things I can only say here first. Parts of my soul just can’t be shared anywhere else. And someday soon I will uncover some hidden moments, brew up some tea, and spend some time writing here again. Until then, come on over and visit me at Woman to Woman, won’t you?

Our Loss, Heaven’s Gain

Virginia Gilstrap Tweedy Durr, Born December 19, 1930, went home to her Lord May 14, 2014.


Some called her Sister Tweedy. Some called her Sister Durr. Some called her Mom. I called her Grandma. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t know and love her – my memories of her extend back to when I was a tiny tot.

I can still hear her gentle and genuine laughter as my brother and I tumbled across the floor in wrestle-play. She would say, “Well, goodness, doesn’t that hurt, honey?” then shake her head and laugh again when I went back for more. Her legacy of laughter is my rich heritage.

I can still see her soft and radiant face full of reverent affection as she opened her heart to Jesus in loving worship and confident petition. I would keep my eyes open and watch in fascination as she spoke to God like she was talking to a friend. Her legacy of prayer is my rich heritage.

I can still envision her small and slender frame as she walked next to the love of her life, her soft hand tucked into his strong arm. Her deep joy, abiding love, and genuine respect for Grandpa were evident in all she did. Her legacy of holy matrimony is my rich heritage.

Grandma was a unique blend and balance of all the finest character traits and qualities, which found their roots in her soul day by day as she followed her Savior. A story told by author Elizabeth George finds its personification in my grandmother:

Elizabeth relates the content of an article she once read, titled The Bell Sheep. The piece explained that when a shepherd noticed a certain sheep that willingly followed and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep. The flock would then follow the “bell sheep”, and thus they stayed near the shepherd.

Grandma loved the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, and strength. The words which He commanded her were in her heart, and she taught them diligently to her children, grandchildren, and everyone around her. She talked about them when she sat in her house, when she walked by the way, when she lay down, and when she rose up (Deut. 6:5-7). She was, indeed, a bell sheep. Her legacy of following the Shepherd is my rich heritage.

Not long after we had our first child, my husband and I took her to meet my grandma. Our baby girl was only six months old, but I wanted her to know the woman who was weaving a godly legacy that is now her rich heritage.

Grandma & Shelby

Grandma, Peanut, & Me

The classiest of ladies, she was the epitome of dignity and grace. She had the boldness of a lion, the gentleness of a dove, and the face of an angel. I will endeavor always by the grace of God to honor her legacy. Some called her Sister Tweedy. Some called her Sister Durr. Some called her Mom. But I was blessed to call her Grandma.

A Year in the Life of a Bookworm

New Year’s Resolutions have been criticized, scorned, and denounced by many, but others continue to take part in this time-honored tradition of making promises of self improvement.

Postcards2CardsNewYearsResolution1915  photo credit

 One goal I’ve had for a few years now is to read at least 12 books throughout the year. In 2012 I fell short by five, but I did complete seven wonderful books. Twenty-thirteen was the first year I met – and exceeded! – my goal: Completing 14 books and falling one chapter’s length short of 15. In my mind, I include that book anyway, because I was so close! 

It took intentional effort to read as much as I did, and I was able to do it by capturing the moments available: Turning pages until two in the morning when I needed to be up at 7:30 the next, lounging long in a hot bath with a riveting book, and taking in a few pages while my husband played with our kiddo.

I’ve sneaked in a chapter or two when I was supposed to be updating this blog, taken a book with me on errands just in case I needed to wait in line at the bank or drive through, and I always take a book with me on Jeeping trips and Dr.’s visits. I’m rarely without a book somewhere within reach. 

One thing I didn’t do was allow my love for reading to disallow my family to come to me at any time and receive my undivided attention. I also did not sacrifice my daily Bible reading for another book. If we only read one book this year, friends, let’s make it the holy, inspired Word of God, for only in it will we find the Way, Truth, and Life. Still, if you’re looking for other good books to add to your reading list, I highly recommend the ones below! Here’s a brief description of the 15 titles I read in 2013.



On Prayer


51aqvys3ffl_ss500_The Hour That Changes the World by Dick Eastman

Challenging us to spend one hour in prayer a day, Eastman offers a step-by-step plan to accomplish this by dividing the hour into twelve five-minute focused prayer points. Inspired by Jesus’ poignant question to the disciples on the night He was to be crucified: “Could you not watch with me one hour (Matthew 26:40)?” Eastman invites us to wait on the precious presence of God for one hour each day.


shoppingThe Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

Batterson brings to life Honi, the legendary Jewish savant, the original circle maker, whose dauntless prayers brought an end to a drought, and saved a generation. Batterson admonishes us to pray in a new way, by drawing circles, praying boldly and unwaveringly for our family, our troubles, our dreams, and our missions. “God honors bold prayers and bold prayers honor God.”


ThjmTQiMX5sCPraying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson

A small book containing much of the same content as The Circle Maker. I enjoyed it, and found some quality ideas for praying specifically for children, but overall, it was too much like reading the Circle Maker.


LUKecQVQxwYCPray Big For Your Child by Will Davis Jr.

This book is a formidable weapon in a parent’s arsenal, and illuminates“the power of praying God’s promises for your child’s life”. Including a generation-changing prayer guide of scriptures and promises to use in intercession, this book will inspire you to pray “Big, Hairy, Audacious Prayers” for your children!


On Parenting


QodoFSwrvE8CThe Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

Perhaps the most touching book of the year for me, Clarkson gives specific examples of “following Christ’s example in reaching the hearts of our children”. With a heart of grace and warmth, a spirit of truth and dignity, and power-packed use of biblical wisdom and common-sense teaching, she shows how to embrace the calling of motherhood by adhering to the patterns that Jesus set with His disciples. Thankfully, Clarkson made the chapters intentionally short for busy moms – a trait I adore in authors!


04649x_w185Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman

A hand-in-hand ally to Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Plowman offers practical insight and down-to-earth tips for “heart-oriented discipline”. The title is a bit misleading, as Plowman describes “counting to three” as a way to show your child that you have no expectation of compliance, and no intention of leading them in obedience. I agree. This book inspired and convicted me, though, and led me to make some adjustments in training my own two-and-a-half year old.


On Writing


MOt7wj5WV9MCErnest Hemingway on Writing edited by Larry W. Philips

A book of Hemmingway’s reflections on the nature and craft of writing. This is my least favorite of the two books on writing, but I still found nuggets of wisdom.


ufthJ-LMPoQCWriting Tools by Roy Peter Clark

50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer”, Clark equips writers with a workbench of useful, practical, and effective writing tools. Easy to read and bursting with “aha” moments, it’s a must-read for every writer.



On Christian Living


333876Undaunted by Christine Caine

This book challenged and convicted me, and I loved it! Christine Caine is an advocate for those who are suffering, and she invites and inspires us to go into all the dark and hurting world and rescue them, offering the light and healing of Jesus Christ.



9987482_w185Intimacy With the Almighty by Charles Swindoll

This small book takes us on a journey to push past the busyness of life, and enter into intimacy with Almighty God.



520653_w185The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn

Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness and crushing legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception and moral compromise.” A must-read for anyone searching to understand or needing a resource to explain the paradox of grace and love and truth and justice within God’s Word.


681721Gospel Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax

Written for small group leaders and Sunday School teachers, this small book guides and equips you into a Christ-centered approach of “continually reintroducing people” to Jesus. “Get the message right,” he says, “and God will work through a variety of methods.”


205349Jesus on Every Page by David Murray

A much needed book, Murray leads us in the search and discovery of the work and person of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. “The Scriptures testify of Me (John 5:39),” Jesus said, and we can find Him on every page of the His Word, from the opening words of Genesis to the final entry of Revelation.


On Christian Living for Women


457813Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere

The Word of God is a sword we often are more comfortable studying than wielding,” Lisa says. “It’s time for women to take up their swords and use them to connect heaven to earth.” Drawing from the imagery of a powerful sword and the skill of a swordsman, she inspires us to fight our battles armed with the truth of God’s Word.


457790Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere

Sketching a powerful depiction of a magnificent lioness’ passion, strength, care, and strategic protection of her cubs, Lisa challenges us to “wake up and change [our] world”. After all, she says, “Jesus is…the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And we are His Lioness [sic] Arising.” 




Drawn By Love, Kept By Grace – The Real Way to Keep Kids in the Faith


A staggering 78% of kids raised in Bible-believing homes leave the faith by the age of 18. In an effort to understand this phenomenon, there are blogs, articles, and books written on this subject, discussing all sorts of ideas, such as perhaps it’s because we shove biblical “heroes” at them, or it’s because they attend youth group far more than they actually attend church, or maybe it’s because we’re pushing them to learn too many Bible verses.


The weakest argument I’ve heard so far is that Christians who use “churchy” language, such as believer, unbeliever, and the Lord willing, are somehow destroying our kids’ desire to follow Jesus. While that one may be the most frail and humanistic of the explanations, I do believe each may have its part in this unprecedented youth exodus. They still, however, miss the point of the deeper issue.


The solutions offered to these ideas address the specific issue thought to be the problem. We’re told that we should show kids that biblical “heroes” were actually liars, fornicators, and drunks. We decide that the youth should attend services once a month. We are warned against using “Christianese”, even though we are, in fact, Christians. And we’re told that we absolutely must show kids that the whole point of Christianity is that God always chases people who run from Him, and He will never give up on them. And yet the youth are still leaving.


These solutions don’t work because they only deal with the surface problems – the ones that exhibit themselves. You don’t really think Satan is going to make it that easy, do you? If we are searching in the wrong places for what is driving people away from the faith, we’ll end up with the wrong results.


To be fair, I have read some very good articles on this subject. One in particular, Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave the Church, should not be missed. In it, the writer states what I believe is the reason we are losing our kids: “We have failed to deliver to them the faith ‘delivered once for all'(Jude 1:3).” We have fed those searching for God a flimsy and idolatrous idea of what grace is and does. A counterfeit faith is no faith at all.


Apart from the true message of the Gospel, everything becomes superficial and unsatisfactory. So first, let’s take this out of the context of kids alone, and realize that for anyone – young or old – to stay rooted in the faith, we must understand what the Gospel truly is.


The message of the Gospel begins not with us or our need, or even God’s meeting that need. It begins with God – a God who is ultimately concerned about His glory, and who created man in His image to reflect and bear that glory. But from even before He created man, God knew we would mar His image through sin, and deeply grieve and displease Him. So from before the foundation of the world, God set about the business of redeeming and restoring His broken images, showing us love, mercy, and grace throughout history, ultimately culminating in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His only Son.


The work of the cross only strikes us as awe-inspiring,” one author wrote, “after we have first been awed by the glory of God.” But a great many people have been led into the kingdom of God by Christians who teach a watered-down version of the Gospel. Many prefer to tell people how much God loves them and wants to be with them forever, but shy away from talking about the bloody price of sin. Jesus died a brutal death to defeat sin and unite us to the Father through Him.


J.C. Ryle Quote on Sin


Love is power. And a self-centered, counterfeit gospel always leads to sin’s dominion again exerting itself. The primary reason sin gains power over believers is because we love it. If sin did not attract us and was not pleasurable, it would have no power over us. So what drives love of sin from us and cuts it off at its root?


A surpassing, transforming love.


And what fills us with this powerful, sin-displacing love?


Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me.”*


He loved us before we knew Him, He died while we were yet His enemy. He holds us when we fail, He keeps us when we fall. He forgives us when we sin, He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. He fills our hearts with surpassing love, He empowers us to keep every commandment.




Without love for sin, the world has no dominion over our us, for grace leads to godliness. A preeminent love for God, based on His love for us, makes doing His will and pleasing Him the believer’s greatest joy, and in this joy lies the strength to remain in Him (Neh. 8:10). And this joy lies only in this refrain:


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!**


The power of grace, the power of the true Gospel, is the power of all-conquering love. This alone can keep our kids – can keep us all – in the faith. 


Christ Alone

* Amazing Grace by John Newton

**It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford

photo credit

Constant Conversations with the Creator

I love reminders. Lists in my purse keep me from forgetting to pick up cheese and milk at the store, the warning chime in my Jeep lets me know when the lift gate is open or the oil needs changed, and inspirational quotes, comics, and pictures posted on my fridge, computer, and dresser caution me to be kind, prompt me to be patient, and fan the flames of my faith.



1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. At first, this seems a daunting task, perhaps even impossible. But once we realize what prayer truly is – simple yet deliberate communication with God – we can begin to see that it’s not only doable, but enjoyable. After all, we do it with friends and family. We post to Facebook about the great cup of coffee we’re enjoying and what our kids are doing, text our spouse about what we need him to pick up and our friends about a yard sale they should go to, and Instagram a great party we’re attending. Simple yet deliberate communication.


When an ambulance races past and my two-year-old exclaims, “Siren truck!” I pray for everyone affected, that healing would be granted, souls would have one last chance to seek Him, and His comfort would be felt. When my husband heads to a business appointment I pray for favor with those he’s meeting with and for safety during his travels. Throughout the day, just breathing a heartfelt prayer over whatever I face makes me more familiar with hearing and communicating with the Lover of my soul.


One way I make prayer a constant conversation is by keeping prayer reminders around my home. Just as I have lists and quotes and pictures to motivate me to do my best and remember what to buy, I have prayer prompts in strategic places.


I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased attractive boxes and some river rock, then wrote scripture verses on some and put them on our bathroom counter. When I brush my teeth or fluff my hair, I take out a rock, read the scripture, and pray it back to the Lord.




Another box of river rocks contains names of people I love, nations of the world, vocations, families, and ministries and is placed on a table near our front door. Whenever I walk past it, I pick up a rock and pray for the missionary, pastor, lost loved one, family member, or ministry printed on the rock.




Pinterest can be a helpful tool, but can also become a place to waste time if you let it. So to keep my time in check, Pinterest is another place I keep prayer reminders. I started a board titled Prayer and I begin my time there, praying for others and myself. From there I can search Pinterest having begun in the Spirit, with His guiding eye on my time. I also keep a sharp eye out for prayers to pin, so my prayers continue throughout my time spent on the site.





Novelist and fellow blogger, Amy A. Corrin, took spiral bound note cards and wrote scriptures on them to pray for her children. Each day, Amy took one note card and prayed that scripture over her little ones. Her children are grown now, but she still treasures those cards, and re-reads them often. Her story inspired me, and now, as I read through the Bible, I pick scriptures that I want to pray over my daughter. I’m compiling a list to do just as Amy did.


Over the years I have collected many excellent books on prayer. Some of them are in-depth studies on the methods and elements of prayer, or the vitality of it in a believer’s life. Some of them are books of prayers that you can read each day, or by subject. I keep these lying around the house in places where I can pick them up throughout the day to unclutter my mind and re-focus on seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).




Jesus calls us His friends, and confides in us all that the Father has told Him (John 15:15). Friends talk with one another anytime about anything, and our friendship with God is no different. Today, let’s commit to constant conversations with our Creator!