Letting Go

ShellyLife

When my son Ethan was little he loved to eat. (He still does.) But just one of whatever he wanted—let’s say Oreos—was never enough. So, he’d grab a chocolate and creamy wonder in each of his little palms and hold on tightly. He would not give them up! Then, when I poured a sippy cup full of milk for him, his mind was blown with a hard decision. He wanted the milk bad, but he DID NOT want to set down his cookies to take a drink. He needed both of his hands to properly operate that sippy cup. But what about those precious Oreos? “Ethan,” I’d say. “Just put them here for a minute and take a drink.” The soft curls on his head shook from the force of his repeated and adamant “no.” “Well, Ethan, you have to let go of one thing to get the other.” Wow. Isn’t that the truth of it all? At the time, I didn’t realize the wisdom of the argument. We have to let go of some things to get other things. Sometimes that’s hard. Real hard. Friends move . . . little ones go off to school . . . jobs change . . . children graduate . . . loved ones are gone too quickly . . . it seems we are always letting go. I must admit: I hate change. Just like Ethan, I don’t want to let go! Then I remember Ethan’s solution. He stared at that sippy cup for a minute with brows furrowed. Looked at his two fistfuls of cookies. And without another thought, he shoved both cookies in his mouth and grabbed the cup. Problem solved! The little booger trotted off to his room, cheeks bulging, cup in hand with a smile on his face. He devoured those cookies lickety split, took a long satisfying drink of milk and went back to his Lincoln log adventure. Hmmmm. I guess it wasn’t that tough of a decision after all. I remembered this moment the other day as I lamented life’s changes. Ethan was right. Yes, what I hold in my clenched fist may be precious. But if I hold on too tightly, I’ll miss out. I need to devour it, savor it, let it become a part of me and keep reaching out for that next stage of life God has poured for me. It’ll be good … Read More

Old Wives’ Guide to Birthin’ Babies

ShellyLife

Psssst! Guess what? I recently learned my sweet niece and her husband are having a baby. Woohoo! Now, I would not be a proper Southern auntie without sharing a few tidbits of valuable info. Who needs doctors and modern medicine? Long, long ago when I became a mom, I had the benefit of expert advice from women who had been there and done that. With a wink and a knowing eye, they gave me the scoop on my baby’s sex, hair, and future without the help of ultrasounds, blood tests or bothersome modern technology. Nope. They had a better system—old wives’ tales developed from generations of . . . well, old wives. Now I’m the old wife. So, it is only fitting that I pass on the wisdom. Here ya go . . . no charge. How many children will you have? Boy or girl? The number of bows you break while opening gifts during your wedding shower determine the number of children you have. Watch it! Pluck out a strand of your hair. (Ouch! No one said seeing into the future was painless.) Tie it around your wedding ring and hold it above your palm. The ring will begin to mysteriously swing on its own. If the ring swings in an oval or circular motion that means you will have a girl. If it swings back and forth in a straight line, you will have a boy. Cut an apple in half and count the seeds to determine how many kids you will have. (An apple is so sufficient. You can also determine the letter that begins the first name of your husband by saying the ABCs and twisting the stem until it breaks off at a certain letter.) If your right eye twitches, there will soon be a birth in your family. Conceive on a full moon for a girl, and a quarter moon for a boy. If you carry the baby out front, you are having a girl. If the baby is mostly around your hips and bottom, it is a boy. If the baby rides high, it’s a girl. If it rides low, it’s a boy. Pay attention to those cravings. If you have an appetite for the cheesy or sweet, watch out for a little girl. Salty means a boy controls your taste buds. Acne problems? Are you moody? Get ready for a girl. If … Read More

Everyday Heroes

ShellyLife

You see some strange sites in the airport, but this one caught my attention right away. I spotted a young man carrying quite a burden. Not one, but two bags hung from his shoulders. One hand held up a car seat—home to a floppy-eared stuffed rabbit and a pink and purple sippy cup. The other half-dragged, half-carried a collapsed stroller behind him. Here and there a toy peeked out from the folds as it shook and bumped its way down the hall. Occasionally, the heavy-laden man glanced back with a smile and a wink at a woman who followed closely and the giggling cherub she carried. He didn’t seem the least bit concerned that he was juggling an impossible load that looked like it would crash down around him any moment. They continued on in search of gate who-knows-what and I smiled and looked back down at my newsfeed. “What a hero,” I chuckled to myself. Wait a minute. Hero. Absolutely! That’s exactly what he was . . . an everyday kind of hero to his wife and little girl. Here I was reading the latest about men behaving badly when right before my eyes was a man at his best. Enough of the news! Bored and stuck at the airport for a couple of hours, I decided to look for other everyday heroes. Here are a few observations: When I stepped onto the Sky Rail, a tram that speeds around the airport as you hang on for dear life, most of the men automatically stood up, leaving the few seats available for women. Heroes. When a card slipped out of my magazine to the floor, a young man wearing the latest technology on his ears noticed, grabbed it, and returned it to me before I hardly realized it fell. (And he had twice as far to bend down he was so tall!) “Thank you,” I said. “Yes, ma’am.” Yes, ma’am . . . how wonderfully polite! Hero. Two rows up from me on the flight, an elderly man sneezed. A teen nearby with a very suspicious haircut said, “God bless you.” Manners are always a great idea! Hero. As we were preparing to exit the plane, a petite woman struggled to find her carry-on bag in the overhead bins. She wasn’t tall enough to see. However, she didn’t have to wait long before a fellow traveler came to her assistance. … Read More

Oh. My. Word

ShellyLife

Well, 2018 is almost a week old and I don’t have my “word” yet. I’m freaking out a little. As we drew near the end of 2017, friends and wise people I heard on the radio began declaring their word for the year . . . a word they would strive toward, keep in mind when dealing with life issues, and be encouraged by over the next 12 months. What a good idea! I especially liked that it replaces New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always stunk at that. I could never find just the right Resolution to make my life better. And, when I do, I don’t even make it through 24 hours. I’m weak. Maybe “strength” should be my word! No, that sounds like I might have to lift weights or something. Anyway . . . a word. A single, amazing word. Just one. It needs to be all-encompassing, inspiring, fulfilling. One word huh. Really? Committing to one word is pretty daunting. Ooooh . . . maybe “commitment” should be it! Nah, sounds a little confining. I mean thinking about one word the whole year? A lot of pressure. Meanwhile, others have chosen such great words like “grace,” “joy,” “contentment,” “forgiveness,” and so many more. Should I take one of those? Ugh. I feel like that would be cheating. I must make it my own. (You can’t hear it, but crickets are doing their thing right now.) Three cups of coffee later . . . Why can’t I think of an amazing word? I’m a writer for heaven’s sake! How hard can it be to produce a single, life-changing word? Please understand, I’m not trying to be irreverent. I really have a problem here. My husband always tells me that I’m the most indecisive person in the world. Could he be right about me? Sometimes I think he is . . . sometimes not. Well, he could be. But I don’t think so. Hmmmm. I’ll show him! “Decisiveness” will be my word! Wait. Is that really the best word possible? I might have to make more decisions. I’m getting a headache. As I write this, words and thoughts are popping into my head. Suddenly, an idea that sticks! Why not choose the Word . . . you know, like the Bible? As I ponder it, I’m thinking about the verse “the Word was made flesh” . . . Now that’s … Read More

Well, bless your house!

ShellyLife

As a child, one of my favorite houses to visit was right next door . . . my grandparents’. When my sisters and I saw grandpa sitting on the porch, it was our cue to run down the hill to share a sleeve of saltine crackers and a can of Vienna sausages. (Don’t judge . . . anything is a treat when you share it with grandpa.) The house was a fascinating dichotomy—a garage crammed with tools and truck parts that smelled of oil and gasoline next to immaculate flower beds teeming with pristine, sweet-smelling roses . . . grandpa in his coveralls smudged head to toe in oil and grandma with her neatly coiffed hair and manicured nails. When I think of that home, memories flood in of summer evenings on the porch with my family, Christmas Eve parties, and Easter egg hunts. One constant ingredient in every visit to that cozy house, however, was laughter. I loved to hear my parents chuckling at grandpa’s latest joke, my great aunts and uncles howling with laughter as they shared stories from childhood, and grandma giggling at all of our silly antics. That house was blessed! Recently, I attended a house blessing for a new home. It was so cool! And it reminded me of what makes a house blessed—faith, family and laughter. My grandparents’ house wasn’t very big or extravagant, but it was full of those essentials. I’m hoping yours is, too! Here’s my prayer and blessing for your home: I pray your home is built on a foundation of love and faith that stands firm in life’s storms. (Matthew 7:24-26) I pray your family is sheltered, provided for and safe always. (Philippians 4:19) I pray your door opens to those you love often. (Hebrews 10:24-25) I pray your rooms are filled with the sounds of pattering feet. (Psalm 127:3-5) I pray your walls echo with much laughter. (Psalm 126:2)  

Punishment stinks!

ShellyLife

When you got in trouble as a child, did you ever hear this phrase before the boom was lowered? “This hurts me more than you.” Ummm, I don’t think so. Whose behind is stinging right now? As a parent, I understand it’s not as simple as that. Discipline is no fun for the one who has messed up, but it’s no cakewalk for the one handing down consequences either. For example, when my kids were in elementary, playground time after school was a reward for good behavior. I loved chatting with other moms while they played. On days when they didn’t hit the behavior mark, I was just as sad as they were when we walked past those giggling children and cackling moms on our way to the car. Why did I have to be punished, too? Fast forward a few years and my daughter recently got a speeding ticket. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with an extra driver around. So I was just as bummed as she was to take her keys away for a bit. Now I have to drive her to work and her siblings to a myriad of sports workouts and practices. Good grief . . . how inconvenient! On top of it all, the moment you deliver the consequences you see the “face.” You know the one . . . that you-just-stuck-a-knife-in-my-heart face. No matter how disappointed or even angry you are, when your children hurt—even as a result of their own actions—it matters. Parenting is already pretty difficult. Is discipline really so important? In the midst of my whining, I got an image of God walking through a pristine garden in the cool of the evening . . . alone. Remember in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve made their big boo-boo? Prior to then, God hung out with them in an incredibly beautiful place he created. It looks to me like he really enjoyed their company. But when they disobeyed, there were consequences. God had to look them in the face and tell them how they would suffer as a result. I can only imagine their heartbroken, frightened expressions. God created them . . . of course their pain mattered to Him. But I think, most of all, God was saddened that he could no longer be in their presence. I believe he missed them. If God didn’t take the easy way out and let his … Read More

Look what I made for you . . .

ShellyLife

My daughter Katie was driving home the other evening and saw something that made her happy. She was so inspired that she sped into the driveway and ran into the house at full speed. “Where’s your sister?” I asked wondering what was wrong. “She’s in the car. I need to grab the camera before it’s gone,” she called out as she whizzed by me camera in hand. “Beautiful sunset. We’re gonna take some pics.” And with that, she was gone again. Wow. Some sunset, I thought. And it was. They came back with several shots of stunning colors as the sun made its exit for the evening. You’ve probably experienced a sunset, sunrise or spectacular view of nature that made you stop and smile. Maybe you even said, “Now, that’s a work of art.” I’m not much of an artist myself, but I know a few. Creating art is not just a skill for them . . . it is a love language to be shared. In fact, from the time children are small, they share their art. Like me, you probably have a box, drawer or wall full of drawings and colorings from the children you love. Don’t you love their sweet faces, beaming with love and pride, as they proclaim, “Look what I made for you!” and present you with their best creation? Art is a love language for God, too. His palette is just a little bigger. I’m fascinated and amazed by the glint of sunbeams dancing through pine trees, the delicate layers of soft red rose petals, or a sunset that fills the sky with fiery hues. Every time I see something special like that, I can almost hear God saying, “Look what I made for you.” It makes me happy. How about you? “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1 NIV)              

60 Days of Summer Fun

ShellyLife

Yesterday was the last day of the school year for my kiddos and they celebrated in very different ways. One came home, fell in the bed and took a nap that lasted . . . well, it is still going as I type this. (She’s OK and breathing. I’ve checked several times.) The other two came home dancing, went for ice cream and jumped in the lake (which was very, very cold). I suppose everyone has their own idea of relaxation and fun. When my babies were younger, I thought we needed a packed summer of activities to make the most of the time. It was busy and exciting, but just hanging out and letting them crawl all over me was fun, too. There are lists galore with summer ideas to be googled. Here are 60 of my favorites that don’t take you far from home. Whatever you do this summer, make sure you get plenty of hugs, kisses and snuggle time! (And a nap or two doesn’t hurt.) Declare a coloring day – dig out all your coloring books and colors Explore history Go fishing – for real or pretend Learn about other places/cultures Have a scavenger hunt – in the house, in the yard or beyond Plan a circus at home – dress up like clowns, enlist the family dog to do “tricks”, tumble, etc. Make a homemade piñata – Google it, some are pretty easy to make Write a silly story or poem and read it at supper Craft day – find simple crafts online like making tissue paper flowers, pinecone bird feeders, etc. Have a Nerf gun battle Play hide-and-seek Go camping at a state park or in the back yard Play hopscotch Learn about stars during the day and count them at night Make a fort with pillows Look up how to make some simple musical instruments (like paper rolls and rice) Laughing day — see how many jokes you can write or look up and share them at lunch or dinner Hunt for bugs Get dirty (play in the sand or dirt) Run through sprinklers Go to the zoo Paint something Play kickball Go to a flea market (make a craft with what you find) Take cards to a retirement home Balloon day, including a water balloon fight Have a picnic Dress up like . . . Go to a museum Sculpt with clay … Read More

7 places a busy mom can pray for her kids

ShellyLife

As a mom, I mess up . . . a lot. Dirty laundry. Drive-thru suppers. Pit-eeeeee-ful birthday planning. The list goes on. (Can I get an Amen?) But one thing I know I can ALWAYS do right is pray for my kiddos. I’ve looked it up and prayer is a good idea. Period. Any prayer. Any time. Any place. Talking to God about your kids doesn’t have to be long or formal. It just needs to be consistent. That’s hard when you’re doing the mom thing from the time you wake up in the morn until you crash at night. In fact, when I actually try to spend time on my knees in a quiet place, I wake up groggy, facedown, forehead on arms with drool on my “prayer bench” . . . sad, but true! So, here are a few unconventional times and places I talk to God about my children throughout the day that might help you, too. –In bed before the snooze goes off. You know you do it! We ALL hit the snooze when that annoying morning alarm goes off. Why not whisper a quick prayer for your kids as your first act of the day while snuggling under the covers for that last 10 minutes? “God thank you for this day and for my children. Please bless them, protect them and guide me as their mom today.” It’s as simple as that . . . and you can even keep your eyes closed! –During morning coffee. If you steal a few minutes for a steaming cup of coffee in your favorite chair or on the patio before waking the house up, why not share it with God? Have a chat about your loved ones. That’s what friends do! –In the car. I’ve spent a lot of time in the car—school pick-up lines, sports practice shuttles, forgotten lunch drop-offs. I’m sure you do, too. Don’t just sing along with the radio. It’s a great time to pray. –On a walk. I’m not a fan of exercise. But when I do go for a walk, talking to God about my family makes the time more pleasant. Try it! –While doing housework. There is just something about praying for your child as you fold their undies that gets real. No lie! Laundry, dishes, vacuuming . . . talk to God while you work. He’ll listen. –In the shower. … Read More

Wrong Earrings? Really?

ShellyLife

Did you ever wear two different earrings . . . not on purpose? I did. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things, considering the morning craziness. I was running late, of course.  It was one of those mad scrambles out the door . . . kind of like I imagine soldiers under attack who are running to their foxholes near the frontline of battle. I’m tearing through the house waving the kids on like a sergeant.  Go, go, GO . . . save yourself, get to the van! An errant lunch bag falls out of a backpack.  Don’t stop for that!  Are you crazy?  Just go.  No time!  NO TIME! Sound familiar?  Come on, you can admit it to me.  No judging here. It wasn’t until that evening when I took my earrings out that I even noticed. Wait a minute!  No one else noticed either. Now I wear pretty big ear hardware.  I’m stuck in the 80s, I admit. I gave my husband a hug and kiss goodbye, chatted with several moms at the school, and spent all afternoon and evening with my family.  No one noticed. At first I was glad.  Then offended. Are you kidding me? Am I that insignificant that such a fashion flub never raised an eyebrow? Am I invisible? Good grief! Maybe there are days when you feel the same. You get up, get everyone out the door, do your thing, get your crew back home, feed all, work on homework, tuck ‘em in, fall into bed and start over. Perhaps you feel that no one notices what you do. I have good news. God does! “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go . . .” (Genesis 28:15). If you are feeling invisible, I understand. But please know that God notices your sacrifices, your pain, your exhaustion. And he loves you, mismatched earrings and all. P.S.     If you have young children, just wait. When they become teens, you’ll WISH they don’t notice so much. “Mom, are you really wearing those earrings today?!” Good grief!