“The Stuff That Dreams are Made of”

I can remember sitting in the Jr. High lunch room with  a bunch of friends as we all reflected on who we were going to marry.

Oh of course, we were very idealistic in our Jr. High imaginations as we dreamed up pictures in our minds eye of what Mr. Wonderful would be like.

He would have that rugged, outdoorsy, woodsy sort of look, ride up on a white horse and take us galloping off into the sunset, even though we currently didn’t know any guys with white horses, nor knew when or even where the sun was setting at any given time.(This is a true statement, about the sunset I mean, since one of my friends once actually asked my mother if the sun always set in the west!)

Yes, we had it all figured out and as each girl shared, they came to me and asked what sort of man I thought I would marry.

“I am going to marry a pastor!”

This was not exactly the response that most of them were expecting since we had always liked the same group of boys for the past couple of years and none of them seemed necessarily to be very ‘pastoral’, if you know what I mean.

Neither were any of them proud owners of white horses or any horse for that matter, but they still were in the running because we had an incredible ability to create scenarios in our minds that we were pretty sure could actually come to pass.

My friends obviously wanted an explanation from me on this whole pastor idea since I was breaking out of the group think and venturing into un-chartered territory.

No doubt, they were concerned that I was dooming my future to a life filled with boredom and poverty, stuck playing hymns on the piano week in and week out, despite the fact that I had only taken less than a year of piano lessons in my entire existence!

But for whatever reason, they wanted John Wayne and I wanted Billy Graham.

I could’t really put my finger on it other than the fact that I adored my evangelistic pastor who had so clearly made the Bible come alive and was instrumental in me coming to faith in Christ.

He was no boring pastor, who would lull you into the doldrums with monotonous monologues. I wasn’t the sort of kid that easily bought the bunny farm and I loved his passion for what he believed and his commitment to give his life to it.

I could see myself married to a man who was also passionate about telling others about Jesus and together, as a team, we would go share the gospel and help people grow in their faith.

As the years went by, I dated some guys in various positions of Christian ministry and a few times I actually thought that maybe one of them would be “the one” but the relationships never developed into anything more than friends.

I tried to make some of them work but there is a difference between going to the altar and trying to “alter” another person to fit the picture in your mind. This approach is never fair to anyone and is best to be left alone.

People often say that you just know when it is the right person.

That was how it was when my future husband finally arrived.

We spent hours talking as friends involved in a ministry together and discovered we both were headed in the same direction. Our goals, our dreams, our shared values and convictions were so perfectly matched that I knew if he ever asked me out, we would become partners for life.

He did and we are!

Our personalities compliment each other well, although, they are not without conflict.

He is an otter, lion and I am a retriever, beaver. He is a guy that isn’t afraid to take on a new task or challenge but hates a new move. I am the gal that loves a new adventure and meeting new people but gets overwhelmed when facing a project that I have no experience with.

I think my Jr. High friends would agree it has worked out fairly well for me these past 38 years of marriage and life has been anything but boring.

They might even smile to know that when my Billy Graham is out of the pulpit, it is not uncommon to find him stretched out on the couch in front of a favorite old movie starring John Wayne.

Looking back on these years of marriage, I realize that our youthful dreams are often a picture of things to come, if but only in part.

The reality is what you create together in this commitment to love, cherish and remain faithful to each other through thick and thin.

It will hold a little bit of all that we envisioned and more.

It won’t be so much the expectations and qualifications of the “one”, but the “oneness’ that becomes of the “two”.

Of course, there may not be a horse to ride off into the sunset on either, but instead a hand to hold as you watch one set.

And that is the stuff that true dreams are made of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship Matters

I recently enjoyed reading this memory in  the autobiography of Billy Graham, which gives a positive picture about his relationship with a black man who worked for his father on his southern dairy farm in the 1920’s and 30’s, by the name of Reese Brown.

He says, and I quote:

“I especially loved to watch Reese Brown work.  He was the foreman on our place for 15 years, perhaps the highest paid farmhand in Mecklenburg County (at $3 to $4 a day, which made a few other farmers critical of my father).

Reese was one of Daddy’s best personal friends.

A black man who had served with distinction as an army Sergeant during World War 1, he had great intelligence. Physically, he was one of the strongest men I ever knew, with a tremendous capacity for working hard. Everyone respected him, and I thought there was nothing Reese did not know or could not do.

If I did something he thought was wrong, he did not mind correcting me. He also taught me to respect my father and was almost like another uncle to me.

What a beautiful picture of a friendship where race was not an issue.

There are many of these stories throughout our history that encourage me to know that things are not as bad as some would like us to think.

Sometimes we just need to turn off the news and read a good book to get a different perspective.

Maybe we will discover that friendship matters more than skin.

 

 

ALL BECAUSE OF COPELAND

Simply Shelli

Probably, It had to do with Copeland, KS.

Or at least, it started there. The story-telling, risk-taking, adventure-seeking sort of personality that began to take place in the life of my dad. There has to be some explanation for why he is the way he is, so I suppose it has to do with Copeland.

Copeland is in western Kansas about an hour southwest of Dodge City. It has a population of around 300 or so now but back in the 1930’s and 40’s when my dad was growing up, it probably was smaller.

It was a boring little dust bowl town with very little to do but watch the tumbleweeds blow through main street. Maybe a couple of cats would get in a yowling match or there might be a brawl down at the pool hall. Certainly there was not enough to entertain a little boy with a vivid…

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A Sentimental Saturday

I had never been to the Copper Shed before.

However, after a friend recently mentioned it and since I was free this afternoon, I decided today was a great opportunity to see it for myself.

What a fine and beautiful day it was, with the sun shining and the Kansas prairie so vibrantly green from the recent rains.

The blue sky was perfect in it’s brilliance, opening wide it’s invitation for me to gaze at it as I  basked in the goodness and simplicity of God’s greatest gifts.

“What could make this day any better?” I thought to myself.

As I pulled into the country property and began to peruse all of the great finds lined up outside, displaying a vast array of rusty baskets and old metal chairs, I felt a bit of nostalgia.

It seems that something was missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Wandering inside, I realized I was the only person in the store.

And my what a store it was! 

Every nook and cranny was filled with the sort of things that keep women shopping for hours.

There was an area with vintage Christmas displays of Santa’s and knick -knacks that would have been a part of my mother’s childhood decor and even some of mine as well.

Oh how I wish she was here with me like so many Saturday’s in my youth when we enjoyed these sort of outings together!

I entered another room that was full of things my daughters would have loved.

The old Coke bottles reminded me of Lindsay’s collection and her love for soda pop out of a glass bottle.

Nicki would have commented on the little hand braided rugs and sweet home accessories that were accented in every room.

Wouldn’t the four of us had made a wonderful day of this and how fun if my daughter-in-laws could have joined us too!

It was soon becoming very clear to me that what I was missing was an opportunity to enjoy a special place with some of my favorite people.

How many Saturdays growing up had mom and I found ourselves on some grand adventure as we were going to conquer a new project of redecorating my room or buying material for that outfit I had been wanting?

When mom and I were on a Saturday mission, we could always count on something out of the ordinary happening.

I can still see us trying to reach the basket on the highest shelf in the store and my little mother accidentally knocking them all down as I fled to another aisle leaving her all alone to explain herself !

I think of us shopping one Saturday and stopping for gas only to see our attendant disappear when he came to the window and slipped on the ice.  Puzzled, I asked mom, “where did he go?” “I think he fell on the ice”, she replied. He recovered, but we never did!

One Saturday, when cowboy boots were all the rage, we ventured to the western store to try some on. Mom thought they looked great on me except I had them on the wrong feet!

What about all the visits when I had children and we would grab strollers, car seats and sippy cups to take a Saturday trip to the zoo or park?

So many memories, so many laughs!

Oh, the Saturday memories I have of my girls as we hunted for that perfect outfit or clothes for camp, with Lindsay bailing on us every time if she could find a bookstore that would relieve her of the endless trying on of clothes.

How many times did we search for just the right jewelry for that special occasion or look for that one-of-a-kind birthday gift for a friend?

Of course, I will cherish forever the wedding dress hunt when mom and sister knew the bride had chosen the perfect one for her!

Did I mention that no outing would be complete if we didn’t top it off with lunching at a favorite spot!

Happy times they were!

Now with my mother and both daughters living in Missouri, these Saturday outings seem to be happening far less frequently.

Suddenly, the loud slamming of a door abruptly snapped me out of my sentimental journey as I wondered if I may have gotten locked in for the night!

Hurrying to the entryway, I realized that the owner must have come inside, not realizing I was in the back room and left.

Thankfully, I wasn’t locked in.

Nice to know I wasn’t alone in the store, or in my thoughts.

Good memories can often make good company when no one is around to create a new one.

Walking to my car, I made a note to myself that the next time the girls or mom came, I would have to bring them here.

Reminiscing is great, but better still is a  memory to make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I don’t know about you, but overcast, cloudy days can sure weigh heavily on my soul.

They especially seemed ominous and overwhelming recently, when this  pandemic found us quarantined at home with no end in sight.

The endless rainy days coupled with the uncertainties of COVID-19, would be enough in and of themselves if it weren’t for the fact that my own health had come into question at the same time!

Why shortness of breath had to become an issue for me at a time when one of the first symptoms of the virus was that very thing, is something I can’t explain.

But it did, and for a bit, had me quite concerned that I might be the first person in Marion County to be diagnosed with Corona.

Calling my doctor and being reassured that without a fever being present, it was probably a rare appearance of my childhood asthma, she prescribed an inhaler.

I was good with that and happy to move on to finishing up responsibilities with my school job, at the same time trying to find out exactly where I could purchase toilet paper and hand sanitizer, both of which were quickly becoming a scarcity.

The dreary days came more often than they went, and found me one morning waking up to chest pain that left me fleeing to the medicine cabinet to find an aspirin for relief.

Being an avid walker, within normal weight for my size and eating a consistently healthy diet, I refused to accept that I could be having any trouble with my heart.

That is until a month later, when I once again struggled with oxygen deprivation.

As Winnie the Pooh is so fond of saying, “oh bother”, I thought.

Pain doesn’t typically send me running to the doctor, but the need to breathe certainly will, and so it did.

The doctor ordered lung x-rays, stress test, echo-cardiogram and enough blood draws to shut the Red Cross drive down for a good month!

All of these tests took place on rainy dreary days, matching my mood and reflecting the concerns of our culture at large.

As our world was struggling with conflicting information and unanswered questions, so was I.

Nothing showed up in the first few tests and I had to wait a week or so for the rest.

Before the results were all back, chest pain again found me, on the one sunny day we had in a while, being sent to the emergency room after a call to my doctor.

With my husband having to remain in the waiting room, I lay alone in the E.R. pondering my predicament.

Pondering turned to praying, as the  heavy  cloud in my soul seemed to resonate with the pressure in my chest.

More blood tests, EKG and waiting.

“Lord, please bring some answers”, became my mantra as the minutes ticked away.

After what seemed like hours, a doctor swooped in and asked several questions. Specifically, where exactly was my pain, since the EKG looked normal?

After another half hour, the nurse came in and gave me what they call, a G.I. cocktail. Let’s just say it was something like Milk of Magnesia.

It began to dawn on me that I had been treated for ulcers in the past and also had developed a hiatal hernia in recent years. Both of which can mimic symptoms of heart issues.

Returning to the room, the doctor asked how I was feeling and casually mentioned that hernia and ulcer could be a possibility, recommending that my doctor pursue testing for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

How do you spell relief?!

I texted my husband, who despite being the future recipient of massive medical bills, was ecstatic that this was all the more issue we were probably looking at.

In a most gracious response, he texted back: “totally worth it.”

The heaviness in my heart began to lift, as did my hope.

This too shall pass, along with the virus and the gloomy weather.

As we walked to the car, we couldn’t help but notice the sun peeking through the clouds, almost as if to remind us that it doesn’t stay cloudy forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of a Beautiful Spot

I sit quietly in a little corner nook off of my kitchen and delight at the sight of a hummingbird at my feeder.

Earlier, a small finch stopped to nibble a sunflower from the little dispenser that hangs from an old porch swing support, right outside the newly inserted french doors.

As we enter year four of a house remodel and have had no time to even think of landscaping, I can’t let that hold me back from creating a beautiful spot.

My husband and I are often involved in a renovation project, so to wait for things to be finished before I pull it all together, might find me depleted and depressed as I long for something to offer some cheer.

I have learned over the years that even if all around me is in disarray, I can create something in a little corner somewhere,that  brings beauty to my eyes.

On the prairies of Nebraska, I moved a rocker over by a window in an unfinished room that had a bit of a view of the sandhills to the southwest of us.

I put a little rug at my feet, a table with a small lamp, a cozy blanket throw on the chair, and would sit by that window in the mornings, sipping coffee, reading my Bible and pretend the hills were mountains in the distance.

In Salina, KS. I had an old wrap-around front porch on our 1884 house that I painted and hauled some much used wicker furniture out to sit on. I loved sipping tea there and reflecting on who might have sat on this porch before me and what conversations might they have had?

Before the kitchen nook was created, I found myself in the unfinished living room, this past December, putting up my Christmas tree anyway.

I wasn’t going to let unpainted walls or ceilings keep me from enjoying the beauty of bulbs, the glow of lights or the joy of the season, as I celebrated the birth of my savior.

I truly believe that as people created in the image of God, we are wired for beauty.

When I see the majesty of the mountains, the brilliance of a sunset, the fabulous patterns painted with precision on birds and butterflies, I am reminded that there is a divine creator and he has imprinted himself on us.

It is my small act of worship to praise God by recreating, if only in a simple way, a bit of his goodness.

So, as I sit this morning, in my little nook, watching birds through the windows, gazing, as my flowers gently blow in the breeze, I find a lightness of heart and a gratefulness for the many blessings I have been given.

One of them being the simple joy, of reflecting on life in a beautiful spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Girls, Good Works and a Good God

As I look back at my life, I can see God’s hand on me all of the way! He is faithful and has never failed me. Not once. Not ever! 🙂

Simply Shelli

“Daddy if I die and go to heaven will I live forever and ever and never have an end?”  This was a thought I was pondering at 5 years old as my dad was tucking me in to bed.  It was a thought that had been bothering me since I had watched the Bugs Bunny cartoon.  It depicted an angel in a long white robe, floating around on a cloud, playing a harp.  Was this what heaven was like?

If so, it didn’t look very fun to me.  I liked my blue jeans, green grass and toys.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an angel because I kind of liked the way I looked now.  Besides, in my finite mind everything had a beginning and an end.  There were babies born and they got old and then they died.  Trying to grasp eternal life at the age of five…

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DISCOVERING MOM

Mom was wise and talented too!

Simply Shelli

I don’t remember when I first thought she was amazing.

Maybe it was when she dressed up as a clown in the town parade and did handsprings down the street.

Perhaps it was when she ran a studio out of our house as she taught tap, ballet, gymnastics and baton.

Was it when I scavenged through Grandma’s attic and found the picture of her as a drum majorette and learned she was an acrobatic baton twirler?

Or possibly when she took up painting, and I observed her creativity.

When did I marvel at her bravery?

Was it the time that a large dog attacked me and she put her 90 lb. body between the dog and I, literally risking her life for mine?

It may very well have been when she dove into the water to save me when I slid off of the dam.

It could have been when…

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THE HAND THAT ROCK’S THE CRADLE (SIX LIFE LESSONS FROM MOM)

Simply Shelli

It has been said that the “hand who rocks the cradle, rules the world”.

Given that a mother is the most influential person in a child’s formative years, that statement is probably very true!

Although my mother taught me many things, these are six lessons that I remember learning very well!

1. SACRIFICIAL LOVE

When I was five or six years old, I was playing with neighbor kids who lived next door to my grandparents in Copeland, Kansas.

There was a large dog who was running and playing with us and for whatever reason, this dog became agitated and attacked me as I was running.

I was terrified as he knocked me to the ground and stood over me snarling and baring his teeth.

My mother, who had just gotten out of the hospital and weighed less than 100 lbs. came flying out of the house with no thought for…

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An Unexpected Surprise

Do you ever have one of those moments where you could just burst with thankfulness and gratitude for the wonderful life that you have?

It can hit you out of nowhere, despite the circumstances and you find yourself having a private little worship service just between you and God.

Those times are what I call “joy moments” because they are an unexpected surprise.

Maybe bills are due, doctor appointments are pending, viruses are raging and all of the sudden you notice the beautiful green tree with the fabulous blue sky looming behind it, as the sun spreads a warmth against the cool breeze and you realize that there is so much to be thankful for.

I think of it as joy but I wonder if it isn’t a result of hope.

While hope “springs eternal”, it seems to spill over with those “showers” of blessings that water our soul with joy.

For those who are in Christ, we have this hope that life here is only a dim reflection of what lies ahead.

We look at the many trials and troubles around us, but because of the promises that we find written for those who believe, we are full of hope.

My friends who will say “goodbye” sometime in the near future to their daughter who has terminal cancer, are full of joy in this season of togetherness, as they count the blessings of God providing a temporary home near her and her family.  An added blessing is that their son is able to join them as well, since his job can be done online.

They cherish this extra time to enjoy relationships even as they ready to send her “home”, knowing that because of Jesus, they will all be joined together again.

Oh, it is not without moments of hardship and sadness, however, joy is never dependent on our negative or positive circumstances, but rather our eternal perspective.

It occurs when you are hugging a friend in a tearful moment and suddenly laugh at an old memory that you share.

It spontaneously erupts when you watch a toddler pick a dandelion and gleefully blow the seeds to the wind.

It overflows when you worship in beautiful harmony with the body of Christ, not necessarily because you sing well, but because you love well.

It takes our breath away when we see the harvest moon glisten against an evening sky or a horse running gallantly across an open prairie.

It delights our heart when we read a passage in scripture and know that God is speaking directly to “me”!

If we can capture it in those moments and seal it within our soul, it will become a familiar place that we will want to return to time and time again, until finally, we will rest with it in eternity, as not a moment but a way of life.

“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands, I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:4