About Simply Shelli

I am a pastor's wife, mother of 5 adult children. I love reading, writing, hiking, outings with friends, fun times with family, deep conversations, singing on worship teams, attending concerts, enjoying beautiful scenery, decorating and landscaping. I love meeting new people and visiting new places. Anything gooey and full of cream cheese and whipped cream will always grab my attention!

FALLING

Before I had my babies, I would listen to these horrific first born birthing experiences where women were in labor for like, 3 days of excruciating pain and trauma and I would wonder, “good night, why did they ever go on to have another one?”

Then I had my first born in the midst of a lengthy, heavy back labor accompanied with a forceps delivery only to turn around and do it again less than two years later. And again. And again. And again.

I finally understood what the experienced mamma’s were talking about. They didn’t dwell on the pain because of the joy that was theirs as the end result.

The fleeting pain of contractions and trauma of birth cannot compare with all the hopes and dreams that  are wrapped up in that tiny bundle of new life.

So, I reflected on this as I watched a movie recently on the life of Billy Graham and his friend and fellow evangelist, Charles Templeton.

Templeton was thought to be the rising evangelist who would surpass Graham’s ministry back in the 40’s.

There came a point in Templeton’s life that he looked at the suffering people in the world and he began to doubt his faith and wonder if maybe God was not loving or maybe he didn’t exist at all.

He came to a place that he decided he would walk away from the whole faith thing. He fell into intellectualism and rationalism that led him to make plans to attend Princeton and leave this Christian philosophy behind. (Interesting that Princeton was founded as a Christian college.)

Billy Graham on the other hand was being challenged by his friend to come with him and unlearn these archaic notions of faith that only an ignorant people would follow. Come and be enlightened with me, he pleaded.

Billy stood strong and boldly on the fact that Christ’s death and resurrection could be proven, validated and trusted and that he was banking all of his faith on that and to this day at 99 years of age, he has not moved off of that position.

Two men, two paths and two decisions.

Templeton was not wrong to ponder suffering in the world. One would have to be cold hearted to overlook the fact that pain and loss are a part of life and we must all face it at many turns and seasons, even experiencing it personally in various levels and forms.

However, he stopped examining too soon. He stopped at the contractions and never got to the birth.

As humans, we are left with this fallen state. We had paradise and traded it in for the temptation of that which we were told not to taste.

This opened a Pandora’s box of consequence upon consequence and horror upon horror as sin was ‘hell-bent’ on destroying God’s greatest creation, man.

Sickness, suffering, death, hatred, all came flooding over mankind like a tsunami threatening to wipe out all that God had intended for good.

To stop and look at the fall is wise. To linger there is dangerous. To anchor there is fatal to our faith.

God wasn’t finished at the fall because He had the plan of redemption and resurrection of a new life through the atoning work of his son, Jesus Christ.

He knew we would fall and he had a plan all along to raise us up!

A baby was born. God came to earth. A Savior was hung on a cross to die for our sins and was raised up on the third day, offering us the same resurrected life if we believe in him.

This is “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey used to say.

Templeton went on to write the book “Farewell to God” and then died in 2001.

Graham went on to preach the gospel with an unwavering faith upholding the power of a resurrected Christ who can change the lives of all who believe, seeing thousands upon thousands profess faith in Christ over the years.

Templeton said of Graham:

“There is no feigning in him: he believes what he believes with an invincible innocence. He is the only mass evangelist I would trust” (Anecdotal Memoir).

 

 

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SO YOU WANT TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?

I am always blown away by how rich some people are.

When we lived in New Jersey, we meandered down a beautiful back road that was near us and discovered ‘millionaire row’.

Picture gated castle entrances and sprawling mansions that could easily house a family of 50.

Once a week, Rick played basketball with a guy in our town who owned a business in the city. A couple of years ago, he invited us to his annual Christmas party. When we arrived at his house, I must confess that I was so overwhelmed by his beautiful abode that I struggled to even get out of the car!

I was dressed fairly decent but began to fear that I was probably way underdressed. I am typically not an insecure person socially, but I started to wonder what on earth would I talk about with people who ran in circles of such high places that I would look like a speck of dust floating into the abyss of nothingness in comparison.

So, today as I read an article about the super rich and their interests, it most definitely spiked mine.

It seems that the richest people on the planet are not satisfied to own the latest car model, but rather to own a submarine or a rocket. They don’t just want to buy an island, they want to own a planet and hire researchers and scientists who will find a way to set up colonies and communities there.

Most interesting of all is the fact that some of them have spent millions to try to extend life.  Google founder, Sergey Bin has sunk more than 1 billion into a “longevity lab”. He has scientists working feverishly to find a way to defeat death or at least extend life. (“Secrets of the super rich: Forget the toys, what the wealthy really crave is power” Financial Post).

Evidently Silicon Valley tech geeks are buying up abandoned farm land in New Zealand because of their fear of a nuclear attack.

All of this sounds wonderful until we realize that death more than likely cannot be stopped or prevented no matter how hard we try to control it.

Rather than spending millions to postpone or prevent death, why not acknowledge that it will happen and prepare for it?

This is where Jesus comes in and just another reason I love Him so much!

You don’t have to be a millionaire to gain access to an eternity of paradise.

We hear of pearly gates and streets of gold beyond the crystal sea, but that isn’t even what seals the deal for most of us.

As beautiful as it will be, nothing will compare to an eternal life in the presence of all that is good, all that is love and a world free of sin, suffering and sorrow.

The gift of eternal life is freely given to all who will receive by faith Christ’s work for them on the cross. Because he plays no favorites, the millionaires and destitute together, have the opportunity to the free gift of salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)(John 3:16)

When Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”, I can land on the fact that he has all the riches I need.

So, who wants to be a millionaire?

Only those who don’t understand what it truly means to be rich.

 

 

 

 

 

WHY I CAN STILL HONOR OUR VETERANS AND OUR COUNTRY

When I was a little girl, I loved Halloween.

I loved Halloween because I could dress up and run around town and get candy.

I was afraid of witches and nasty monsters, but I wanted to be a princess or a ballerina or even a cowgirl, depending on my mood.

However, as the years went by, there became more and more hoopla about the evils of Halloween and how demonic it was and I had to decide where I would land with the whole thing.

My kids loved the Ninja Turtles and I have no idea why. We didn’t watch them nor did I buy them. There were warnings about the rat mentor in the cartoon who taught transcendental meditation, so I was not on board.

However, every time a Ninja Turtle character was present at a garage sale, my kids were hollering for one.

I finally realized that they neither knew nor cared about the rat or his TM belief system, they just wanted to play with those cool characters that had great ninja moves!

I caved in and for years bought them Ninja Turtles and have yet to see any of my adult kids trade in their faith to sit on a mountain in the wilderness, emptying their brains while chanting, “ommmm”.

I can remember a couple meeting with us one time and telling us how satanic Christmas trees were. When I asked them why they would think so, they responded that ancient druids or celts or whoever, danced around them as some ritualistic pagan ceremony.

O.k.? I told them that I actually put one up because they are beautiful, traditional and full of light and since Jesus was the light of the world, maybe this could be a good thing to remind us of Him.

The bottom line is that I have had to learn and continue to learn how to live in this world and not be of it. How to redeem that which is good and leave behind the bad.

What is the heart issue behind our actions, our spending, our celebrations? Isn’t that what Jesus told us mattered?

All that being said, I move on to Veterans Day, the American flag and America itself.

I get that there have been slaves in America and so the land of the ‘free’ was not all inclusive for some.

However, not every founding father was a slave owner and not every American stood for owning them. Many fought hard and long to set slaves free. Some of my ancestors included.

This however, did not discredit the words “all men are created equal” no matter who wasn’t upholding them.

I acknowledge that there are those who would disallow and persecute those who want freedom to worship in their own way.

This doesn’t undo the fact at all that our country was founded by those who came here to have the freedom from a tyrannical king and those who opposed their right to freedom to worship in their own way.

I get that there are racists and some are in positions of power. Some are even cops.

However, we still have due process and checks and balances in place to prosecute those who treat others unjustly.

But despite the fact that there will always be those who abuse power, those who will oppress others, etc., we still have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence that stands for freedom and equal rights for all humans.

People misusing or refusing to abide by either one, is not a reflection on the principles that were laid out in them but on the people who do not abide by them.

I can love and follow the Bible despite the fact that there are those who will use it to control, hate and abuse others all the while doing it in the “name of the Lord.”

That doesn’t make the Bible wrong, but the people who misuse it.

So, what is good and what can I honor about our country and the veterans who have defended it?

Why can I stand for the flag that represents them?

In America this is what I have:

I have freedom to worship and meet with fellow believers without fear of being thrown in jail.

I have freedom to vote.

I have freedom to a fair trial and am not guilty until it is proven.

I have worked alongside and under people of all races because of equal opportunity.

I have had a president who was half black and his wife who was fully black. I have seen a woman run for president and almost get elected.

I have seen minorities in sports, entertainment and careers that make more money than I will ever see in my lifetime.

I have seen people in poverty be given the chance for an education and rise to the top in fields that few of us will ever see.

I have seen our military defend our freedoms throughout our history.

I have seen our military defend other countries as well.

I lived in the east for a time and saw the encampments of our soldiers in the Revolutionary war. Imagine in the dead of winter, marching until your worn boots fell off in brutal cold and the frostbite froze your feet so bad they turned black? Bloody, starving and sick, they marched so that you and I would not be controlled by  a king who was going to tax us into poverty and force us to go to his church.

We all may gripe about presidents we have or have had but let me tell you, being subject to the rule of Hitler, Hirohito or Mussolini would have been no walk in the park for any of us.

Think about boys barely out of high school, signing on to take on those monsters when most of them had been raised in rural America minding the family farm. They went to foreign countries to fight an enemy that not only wanted total control of them and their families but would delight in torturing them as well.

I live in a community that took in prisoners of war and they were fed, clothed and treated with dignity. If you want to know how our soldiers who defended us were treated, read “Unbroken” about Olympic competitor and soldier, Louis Zamperini and you will get a small taste.

We can thank our soldiers for having our back on those and many other fronts.

It is funny that many complain about America but people still want to come here and few want to leave despite their threats.

I was a student at KSU, when Iran had taken American hostages and was parading them nightly on television to humiliate them and terrorize us.

During my time there, Iranians on campus were getting an education in our school as they set up booths in our student union decrying their hatred against cruel America.

Because we are America, they had the freedom to do that.

My room mate at the time was half Iranian and her father had come to America to get educated as a brain surgeon. She was embarrassed and offended by the actions of her father’s people since her family was so grateful to be in this land of opportunity.

So, all this to say, I am a Christian first and I will always stand for Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel, the cross and my Savior. He alone is faultless and flawless.

I will stand for my national anthem and the flag, not because it is flawless but out of respect for those things which it stands for and has stood for that are good, right and just.

Happy Veterans Day and inasmuch as we honor Him, may God bless America and any other nations that choose to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

OPINIONS, BILLY GRAHAM AND MUST WE DIE ON EVERY HILL?

When did the world get so crazy and when did everyone think their opinion must be aired? (Says the woman beginning to venture in on some of her own!)

I used to tell my kids, “not everything you think needs to come out of your mouth”.

In other words, don’t speak unless you know what you are talking about or have something worthwhile to say.

That may sound rude and snarkity, (is that a even a word?) but in our age of instant news, blogs and twitter, there is no ‘safe’ place to hide from everyone’s expressed ‘individuality’.

I miss the days when I shopped at a store and I had no idea what the owner believed or didn’t believe. I didn’t know who or what he or she slept with, I just liked their product and wanted to purchase it.

What happened to entertainers who performed and we all left feeling good without having to wade through a myriad of  political opinions or off handed remarks? We didn’t know who they voted for or what political party they were with. Nor did we care! We just came to enjoy the music!

I noticed this week that Billy Graham turned 99 years old.

Here is a man who had strong beliefs, yet I can’t think of a time that if he was invited to pray at the White House, that he didn’t show up. He did not endorse or vote for every president, yet out of respect for the office and the belief that God would honor prayer and maybe he could make a difference by going, he went.

He had a strong faith and many forums to share it, yet he seemed to understand how to share that faith full of grace and hope without compromising truth and conviction.

He is a rare man in an age of ‘rugged’ individualism.

I don’t disagree that there are times to stand and stand alone if you will. There are times to find ones voice and speak up. However, remember that if every issue sets you off, no one will take you seriously about anything. Choose your battles and what hills to die on and know why you have gone there.

And by all means, speak from personal experience without creating straw men, or honest and extensive research based on actual truth, or you may find yourself eating crow at the hands of someone who has all the above mentioned in place and more.

If we don’t watch ourselves, we will find that we are becoming offended about everything and knowledgeable about nothing.

Too much reaction without reflection may not bring about a revolution that so many desire, but anarchy instead.

That is not a place where anyone wants to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY PICTURE PERFECT HOLIDAYS

If only life would cooperate with me.

I have a picture perfect holiday season ready to hang. It is already there, nailed securely in the corner of my mind.

Picture it with me, if you will.

Those serene farm scenes aren’t too far off base.

The carolers bundled in wraps, strolling the neighborhoods come close.

The blazing fireplace, spreading warmth, as snow quietly falls outside a paned glass window is present.

The tree is lit, candles aglow and the scent of cinnamon and pine mix together with sounds of Christmas music playing softly in the background.

But most of all, it would be a picture of peace. No rushing, no schedules. Just celebration and community.

Call it a Norman Rockwell or Currier and Ives scene if you like, but whatever it is, the sum of it would be that everything would stop from Thanksgiving until New Years Day ended.

No one would go to work.

We would snuggle into our homes as families and communities, sharing goodies and meals as we sang songs, played games and built memories.

No bills would be allowed to be sent until after New Years and bad or negative attitudes would be banished.

We would watch happy movies and read inspiring books.

I would get up in the morning and read my Bible in a cozy big chair by a blazing fire and a lit tree, taking all the time I wanted to let every thought sink in.

Good friends would stop by and share a hot mug as we sampled Christmas goodies and exchanged gifts and the joy of the season.

There would be an absence of stress. No conflict, sorrow or anxiety.

Total peace and serenity would reign in those weeks and just the thought of it would carry us through the year until it would come again.

I wonder if this isn’t a very small glimpse of heaven?

Oh to have a week, even a day of this scene would be exhilarating to say the least!

It is coming someday and so much more than we could ever imagine!

What a thought of an eternity of peaceful, joy-filled celebration every moment, filled with all that is good and all that is love!

We will have it someday, in that  beautiful, picture perfect world.

 

 

 

 

HAVE I ARRIVED YET?

I remember back to a season of life when I was single and majoring in Human Services in college. I had to do a research paper on marriage and read a plethora of books on it so as to be well armed and articulate when I dazzled my professor with the profound wisdom and insight I had gained.

Move over marriage counselors, here I come!

Then I got married and all of my great knowledge instantly derailed on the train tracks of real life experience and the difficulties of melding two individual lives into one.

I soon discovered that our marriage didn’t fit every textbook and counseling manual.

There was only one him and only one me. Despite the helps of general pragmatism and spiritual advice, the uniqueness of our individuality was a coupling that hadn’t been written yet and we were ultimately at the mercy and wisdom of our God who had custom designed us both for his purposes.

As marriage journeyed along, I began to observe the couples around me who had children.

I would watch them interact with their children and think things such as, “my child will never behave like that” or “if only they would handle things this way.”

In time, I had my own children and humbly gagged on those words as they slowly slid down my dry and much parched- from- parenting- throat.

Having had five kids of my own and manning myself with all kinds of parenting books and articles, I had to acknowledge that not a one of my offspring was exactly alike and each had their own unique personality and dynamic that they brought to the family.

What worked with one child, did not work with the others.

I would have to gain wisdom from those books and advice where it applied to each child, but be ever mindful that there are no exact formulas when it comes to a people who are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.

As well, I would go to church and observe so many of the things that I felt the older people were getting wrong with the faith.

They didn’t seem ‘authentic’ and ‘real’ like the younger generation was. Were their prayers and spiritual disciplines just going through the motions of tradition or were they sincere?

Wasn’t it time to replace the outdated with the fresh and the new?

Then I began to open my eyes to the many trials that older people deal with. The countless losses they experience with health, death and finances. Watching their hardships began to make me wonder if there might be some things in life that they could teach me about faith.

It became evident to me that as much as I thought I knew, I still had a whole lot more to learn.

With age comes wisdom and life experience teaches one much.

Fast forward to those years where I now look back and have learned from my own many trials and errors coupled with the ebb and flow of lifes circumstances.

It is easy on this end to think once again, I have arrived and have the answers. After all, have I not added some grey hair and wrinkles to the mix?

Then I hold a conversation with a person in their 20’s or 30’s, maybe a teen and I realize that lo and behold, I have learned something from them and gained some wisdom.

The biggest revelation in all of this is that whether young or old, the temptation to be wise in our owns eyes is a struggle that is real!

It is beyond easy for us to judge the generation above or below and miss the fact that every age has something to bring to the table.

I need the vibrancy, vision, fresh ideas and perspective of youth as well as the life experience of the elderly who have been tried and tested in the fire of trial.

Youth may be naive but the aged can become cyncial.

Youth may offer vision but the aged can offer experience.

Since none of us have life totally figured out yet, maybe we should continue on this path together and help each other grow.

As for myself, I still have a lot to learn.

 

 

 

 

IF YOU SAY IT, PRAY IT!

In our age of social media and actually even before, we find ourselves grappling with life’s tragedies or trials with such flippant responses don’t we? Although we might not say something as trite as “sending happy thoughts your way” in the case of a huge catastrophe, it gets thrown out there nonetheless.

I have to wonder what on earth gets accomplished by sending happy thoughts and how would I do that anyway? It sounds very much like “beam me up Scotty” but for those of us who don’t live in a perpetual episode of Star Trek, it just rings kind of shallow.

So maybe we don’t send ‘happy thoughts’ but we announce we are praying for this or that person or situation.

Wonderful if we really truly are doing that. But are we really? Truly?

At some point in my life I became convicted that to tell someone I was praying for them and not do it was not being honest. They had a need, I gave my word to do something about it by praying for them and to not do so was to let them down.

I also had to consider that if I couldn’t take time to pray for them, maybe I didn’t believe in the power of prayer like I said I did? If I couldn’t act on my faith to pour out a heartfelt prayer for God to help this person in their time of need, did I somewhere surmise that He wouldn’t hear or help even if asked? Did I have faith in him at all?

Many years ago we had dear friends who experienced an incredible loss in the murder of a beloved sister. Not only was the sister killed but it was at the hands of her own husband. I don’t know if I have ever been with a family in a time of such deep anguish and grief that we were concerned for their very health.

We could do nothing to relieve their desperate heartache except to fall on our faces before our God and cry out to him for comfort and relief. It was so overwhelming there were just no words to express other than “dear Lord Jesus please, please bring the comfort of your presence into this situation.”

In all honesty, there were practical ways that people could help them but in the depths of their need, they were in a level of soul pain that only the Savior could reach and we literally all had to carry them in prayer.

God heard our prayers and He was faithful to comfort them in the way only He could.

Prayer is an amazing and powerful tool in the hands of a faith filled people and in the calloused knees of a battle weary warrior.

It puts feet to our help and wisdom for the needs at hand. It moves the heart of a sovereign God in a way nothing else can if it is honest, sincere and bathed in humility.

Prayer provides comfort, peace and hope.

So, if you say it! Pray it!

You are offering a tangible gift to someone in their time of need.

“But truly God has listened;
  he has attended to the voice of my prayer” Psalm 66:19