Pushing in Chairs

It is not uncommon, in my job as a school librarian, to have a class land in the library for me to supervise. Often times, it is the last 25 minutes of the day during the class advisory if their teacher has a meeting or responsibility elsewhere during that time.

Recently, I had a group land with me, who having nothing to do, asked if they could play cards. It was fine with me, I said, as long as they put back the chairs they had pulled away from the other tables.

After about 20 minutes into their game, I realized that the end of the day bell was soon going to ring, so I reminded them, once again, to please put the chairs back.

When the bell rang and I was wiping tables, I turned to notice that they had run out the door without doing the one simple thing I had asked.

I must admit that I was more than just a tad bit annoyed. I started mumbling to myself about how I had been nice and kind to them by letting them play a game, and instead of being grateful, they couldn’t even take the time to be considerate and push the chairs back where they belonged.

As I stewed in what I felt was very justified annoyance, it dawned on me that this is exactly what I do to the Lord.

How many times do I see His kindness towards me in the day, and stop to thank him for it or respond obediently to something I know He wants me to do?

How often am I in too much of a hurry to acknowledge him or what He has done for me?

In what ways do I take advantage of His goodness, His mercy and His gifts?

When I feel dismissed, ignored or disrespected, do I ever think I may make God feel the same way?

What regretful thoughts flooded my mind as I wiped down the tables and pushed in the chairs, thinking of all the times that the Lord has been generous to me, cleaning up my messes, as I run on to the next thing.

So it seems the imperfect students reminded imperfect me that I do the same things to a perfect God . Nonetheless, his long suffering, patience and loving kindness continue to sustain me day in and day out despite my many shortcomings.

I wonder how many chairs in my life over the years, has God pushed back to the table?

I hear He doesn’t keep track of those things.

And neither should I.

Regrets

They say hindsight is always 20/20 and I can testify that from my own experience, this is true!

Unfortunately, my 20/20 left when I hit somewhere around 40 and everything else has followed suit as well!

Maybe like me, you have a “wish list” or maybe a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” one. Sometimes I pull it out and remind myself of what I might have done differently, if I knew then what I know now.

I wish I would have listened to my very light skinned friend who used to warn me about laying out to get a suntan as soon as warm weather hit. “You’ll get cancer!” she would chide as I happily slathered myself with another layer of “Coppertone”.

Her words come back to haunt me now, when I put on my morning makeup and see how hard it is to conceal the sun damage of my youth and the spots I need to keep an eye on.

I wish I would have taken my studies much more serious than I did. I wasn’t the worst student in the school but I do think a bit less ‘socializing’ with my friends and more application to the books could have served me much better in the long run.

What scholarships could I have gotten and what degree might have helped us out when finances were especially tight?

I wish I would have taken voice lessons. I love to sing but never learned correctly, so I don’t have the vocal control now that I had when I was younger.

How much I would enjoy having the depth and richness that my husband’s full voice still has due to the excellent instruction he received at Friends University as a Singing Quaker!

Yes, those regrets tend to sneak up on me at times until I remind myself of the flip side of that coin.

There are many decisions in my life however, that I don’t regret.

I came to trust in Jesus as my Savior in my early teens right as I was at a crossroad with what choices of friends and influences I was going to listen to. My love for Him and desire to know him more, set me on a trajectory that totally transformed my life with purpose and a love for others that I hadn’t experienced before.

Beauty, talent and intellect could not have filled the empty places that I felt deep inside of me that only Jesus could fill. The freedom, peace and wisdom for life He gives are all a product of His immeasurable love that can’t compare with anything this world has to offer.

I have never once, regretted that I am a Christ follower. The abundant riches of His love and faithfulness are a wellspring of living water that never runs dry. It is not always easy and I am far from perfect, but He always makes a way. He is my purpose in life.

I don’t regret marrying my husband and serving in ministry with him. He is a good man and I know God brought me exactly who I needed to balance me out.

I don’t regret having made the decision to be a stay at home mom. Every sacrifice involved economically, emotionally and physically to invest in our five children has been worth it in immeasurable ways. Each one of them is a gift and the opportunity to pour into their lives and watch them grow into the wonderful individuals they are has been a joy and I am grateful to be called their “mom”.

I have no regrets about the hard times and trials that I have faced in life. They have shaped and strengthened me into the person I am today, which would not have been the case had my life been cushioned from sorrow and struggles. Romans 8:28 has played out in my life in amazing ways.

The regrets in life keep me humble. They remind me that I am human and I don’t know everything nor will I, this side of eternity. Nonetheless, they have purpose and meaning if for no other reason than to give me a retrospect of wisdom for future decisions, or to pass on to someone else.

At the end of the day, whether I have regrets or not, really doesn’t matter when I consider that all of these things have served a purpose, not just in shaping me into the person I am today but also in the one I will be tomorrow.

“For we know that all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Just a Little Taste of Heaven

Easter was different for me this year.

With my parents and single daughter in Branson, and not having been there since Christmas, I knew I needed to head that way.

This would mean leaving my husband to preach in Kansas, missing the celebration with our church family, but only having a 3 day weekend occasionally available, it was now or wait until June.

I left after work on Thursday and as I drove, I reminisced about the times when as a family, we were usually together. With four of our five adult children married now and spread apart, it was happening much less often.

None of them are in the same vicinity of each other. Branson, Idaho, North Eastern Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas have called all of them in different directions, making it a stretch to get together more than once a year.

I must admit that this causes me to envy my friends who live within a reasonable range of all their families, where they will fill a weekend with multiple family gatherings, enjoying the food, worship, Easter egg hunts and building memories.

It isn’t that I regret my life or choices. Ultimately, I know that all of them are about God’s sovereign lead and call. He has a plan for each of us and it is not always the same. Nonetheless, at times, I must admit, I miss my whole tribe being together!

So, with my parents staying put, my daughter and I headed to an outdoor Good Friday service with her church that was being held at a ranch. Many people were there and it was a treat to sit with some of her friends and share in the service.

After some worship and prayer, the girls and I made our way to the barn area and as I was waiting for them to return, someone grabbed me for a big hug and I realized it was a friend of my daughter’s who happened to notice me standing alone. I hadn’t seen Nathan for awhile and it was such a surprise to have him find me in the crowd.

As a part of the service, we were asked to find our way to a table of twelve where a host and hostess would serve us communion. It would be a reminder of the last supper when the intimate group of Christ followers shared in the breaking of bread and drinking of the cup before the crucifixion that was to come. It was to be a family feel in a small intimate setting as we reflected on these last hours leading up to the cross. I hadn’t thought about the table we were sitting at until I realized that I was being served communion by two friend’s of my kids, who were on staff at the church. Out of all of the tables that were there, and we sat at the one where they knew our names!

It was a special time as another friend joined us and our table was full with familiar faces. Call it an epiphany or what have you, but the Lord seemed to be opening my eyes to realize that someday, in his kingdom, every face will be familiar and everyone will be family.

There will be a day when we are no longer separated, lonely or missing our loved ones, but all who are in eternity with us, will be a loved one because they loved “the One”. They will know our name, we will know theirs and we will have a familiarity with one another because of the spirit of Christ who unifies all believers.

We will be one big, happy family, under one roof, sharing a banquet table that will seat us all.

Until that day, when I am finally home, it is a comfort to know that God is able to meet my every need right here and right now, even if it means providing a family in the absence of my own.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

MY OWN HAPPY, MEDIOCRE LIFE

Simply Shelli

My life now, in some ways, does not look like I thought it would when I was young.

After reading this great blog that a friend posted titled, “What if All I Want Is a Mediocre Life?”, I stopped to ponder that this is pretty much the life that I live but not the life that I thought I wanted, but have found now that it is exactly where I want to be!

There was a time when I thought I would do something more with my singing, my speaking, my writing, my impacting the lives of others. After all, we are always told to dream big, right?

Somewhere along the line, life got full of little people, household responsibilities, being a pastors wife and trying to keep daily life moving forward as sanely as possible.

I thought to myself, “this is just a season, someday, it will look different…

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Rick and the Battle of Rats

“What on earth was that?” I asked out loud as I sat upright in our loft bed, almost hitting my head on the ceiling.

We had our newborn baby daughter in the crib below us, and I knew that although she made all kinds of little infant sounds, she didn’t make one that sounded like a high pitched squeak!

Hubby, Rick, had heard it too and having worked on farm settings and familiar with all kinds of critters, he knew instantly that there were rats in our small apartment!

Having moved into tiny, seminary housing in downtown Dallas, it wasn’t uncommon to find ourselves beseiged by cockroaches but this rat visitation was a whole new level of horror as far as I was concerned.

Hadn’t I read that they would gnaw on babies toes, and run across people’s beds as well as carry all kinds of diseases?

Count me out, I am taking my baby and we are going to a hotel!

Knowing he would probably never get his wife back to the apartment again, Rick announced that he would take care of it right then and there.

I grabbed the baby and sheltered high up on our loft bed as the battle between Rick and the rats began.

First of all, hearing Rick banging about, the rats went scurrying under the kitchen stove where they decided it was safe to hunker down for the night.

Rick, determined that there were two of them, grabbed my butcher knife, turned the oven on high and prepared to “smoke” them out.

Smoke indeed! It didn’t take long before I began to smell singed hair and hear more of the squeaking sounds, although they were albeit a bit more frantic.

The battle of the rats was in full swing!

The first rat made a run for safety, away from the heat and was immediately stabbed.

The second one, waited a bit longer, weighing out his options; “let’s see…shall I burn at the stake or die by the sword?”

Risk taker that he was, he didn’t learn from his friends’ demise and making a run for it, the knife found him as well.

Rick, the warrior, proud of his victory, triumphantly marched into the bedroom to show his distressed damsel, his prized trophy, only to find I wanted nothing to do with the sight or smell of the tragic, dead rats!

Rick, the warrior, proudly walked into the bedroom with two singed smelling, dead rats to brag on his victory, only to find me loudly proclaiming that I did not want to see them, smell them or have anything to do with them!

Having conquered the enemy, his battle over, Rick decided to dispose of them in the alley dumpster behind our apartment complex.

He no sooner got there, opened the lid to toss them in, before a cat sprang out of the trash, grabbed the rats and had the finest cat BBQ in the neighborhood that night!

Rick came in and found the hole that they had entered through, which led to the run down apartments next door.

The hole was plugged, the baby put back to bed and the battle weary warrior and I went to sleep.

I must have eventually recovered from the trauma because my son and daughter-in-law currently have 4 domestic pet rats and somehow I haven’t disowned them yet!

Run With the Finish Line in Sight!

I never knew exactly when it would happen but I always knew it would.

We called it “the Seth kick” and it made every track meet an exciting one!

When our kids were in high school, four out of our five ran but two of them loved it and stayed with it until they graduated.

Our son’s Seth and Luke each had their own style of running and both of them excelled in distance.

They came by it naturally, given their dad was a runner and loved to give them pointers and encourage them to give it their best (unbelievably, he still holds the record for the mile at his high school!)

Luke typically ran a consistent pace that I dubbed “the putt putt”. He would find his stride and keep it, giving it all he had until he crossed the finish line. He would usually have no more and no less than the pace that he found about mid race but it served him well and I can’t remember a time that he didn’t come home without a medal.

Seth was a different story altogether. He would start with the gun and take off, often with a group of boys breaking away and taking the lead.

Seth would stay a ways behind them, find his stride and run his pace as the boys ahead of him would continue in the front.

At some point, towards the last two laps, we could see Seth start to get a second wind, mustering every ounce of energy and determination he had, digging into the track as he began to gain ground on the runners in the lead.

We would go wild with excitement, cheering and screaming for him as the gap between them narrowed, closing the distance.

Sometimes I would think he had waited too long to get that kick but then it would come just in time.

One by one, he would begin picking off his competitors until he would cross the finish line, more often than not, in first or second place, depending on the team.

I could get so excited watching my boys run that I had to work out my jitters down by the track fence.

It wasn’t uncommon to hear a coach yell at his team in the lead, “Rehmert is gaining on you, go, go, go!”

This mamma loved it!

The most important thing for a runner to know is that he wants that finish line and he will give it 100% until he crosses it, no matter the cost.

“No pain, no gain” as the saying goes and distance runners feel that one deep.

I have never seen a runner get close to the finish line and decide to slow down unless he/she had an insurmountable injury (I actually saw a kid pull a ligament in his leg once and still finish strong!)

They see the goal, they smell that medal and even if they are in last place, everything within them says, “I started this race and I am going to finish it.”

Their coaches train them to have grit, perseverance, drive and desire to win. They are drilled day in and day out to increase their stamina, discipline their bodies and finish the race.

I can’t help but think of how much we need the encouragement to do the same.

Life is much like a distance race. Sometimes we can’t find our stride. Other times we see the finish line but it seems so far away and we are already feeling depleted of our energy. Maybe we see others that seem much further ahead and we wonder why we should bother.

The worst thing we can do, when we see the finish line in sight, is to take our eyes off of it and slow down or quit the race.

Whether we run with consistency or get a kick at the end, the goal is to finish strong.

For those who follow Christ, there is a crowd watching and cheering you on, so you can do just that!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Whatever your stride, find it and keep running that race!

I can’t wait to see you at the finish line!

I can’t wait to see you at the finish line!

He’s Got This!

Simply Shelli

It was a morning like so many others as I lay in bed praying about the day ahead, bringing all of my requests and concerns before the throne of God.

I don’t know why at this particular moment that I was struck with this amazing thought about what it means to be a follower of Christ and have access to the Holy of Holies, but I was.

Many a Christian has memorized Romans 8:28 but even before that, verses 26 & 27 are powerful ones about what actually takes place when we pray.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will…

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Nicki’s Story

Simply Shelli

February represents many things to people. Valentines day, cold blustery weather and anticipation of spring.

It is a month that is moving beyond the holidays and well into the swing of a new year.

For most of my life that is what February always was to me anyway, until one particular February in 1993.

I guess I will need to go back a month to the end of January.

We lived in Salina, Ks. and were very busy with church planting, renovating an old house and raising four children, with one being a newborn.

On top of the church plant, hubby Rick was working a night shift job at a juvenile delinquent center. We were juggling many balls and had a very full plate of activity.

On this particular day at the end of January, our oldest child, Nicki had come home from first grade to play with friends who…

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Embracing the Wind

Simply Shelli

True confession right here. I hate wind. I just do.

I have lived most of my life in the Midwest, trying to work with it. I fix my hair and it gets all undone, landing like a mop on my face. If I wear a skirt or dress, I am desperately grabbing it to prevent the whole Marilyn Monroe repeat.

My grandmother lived in dusty, windy western Kansas all of her life and escaped to her typewriter for consolation, creating imaginary worlds with her gift of words. She hated the wind too but worked at being a cheerful, positive person anyway.

I guess that is not a bad thing. Adversity can make us bitter or better. We can shake our fists and curse the darkness so to speak, or light a candle.

If we can’t change it, we can fight it or embrace it, work with it, or tolerate it…

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HAVE WE LOST OUR WAY?

Simply Shelli

If you watch the news for very long, you see that some of our problems might possibly stem from us demanding rights that we want for ourselves and sadly, much at the expense of others.

I wrote recently about simpler times and as I have been perusing family stories and articles of late, I observe that there were also many hardships, heartaches and tons of self sacrifice.

One family member was born in the late 1800’s and raised in the Appalachian mountains. His memories of his mother cooking everything over an open fire, his father dying slowly of a malignant tumor, pushed him into being a responsible young man at a very early age.

When he watched his mother raise her family with the barest of necessities, he was determined that he would try to earn enough money to help her life be a bit more comfortable.

He took jobs as…

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