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!

WHEN YOU MISS THE MEMO

For the past couple of months I have been filling in at our middle/high School library.

It has been quite an experience but nothing has yet to top the event that took place during this past week!

I was at my desk and there were about six students in various places in the library when the school counselor came on the intercom and announced, “secure rooms now. No one may leave to go anywhere until further notice.”

Since the library has many windows, I stepped over to one and observed two police officers with a dog checking the hallways.

I began thinking to myself that I have no idea what I am supposed to do in the event we might have an active shooter!

Somewhere in the process of learning several new things, I missed that memo!

So, I sneak over to both doors leading to the hallway, open them and lock them so no one can get in.

Of course, the students observe the police and the dogs and they find this quite exciting and wonder what we will do.

We have two exits that lead directly outside, so I tell them that if anyone starts shooting, they are to run immediately out of those two doors to safety far from the school.

I told them to continue working on their assignments, etc. and we would probably be fine because the police would have it all under control

Meanwhile, I shoot up a prayer and text my husband who would soon be coming to the school to coach track, not to come because they wouldn’t let him in anyway.

The bell rang and no one was allowed to proceed on to their next class.

We stayed “secured” until finally, the counselor came on the intercom and told us that we could continue on as normal.

Can anybody say, “phew”?!

I found out later that there is a difference between an announcement to “secure in class” and “there is an active shooter, go into lockdown.”

My “bad” as my kids would say.

We never were in danger it was just a safety precaution that is practiced periodically!

However, the principal validated that my idea to run out of the library exit doors was exactly what I should do, if the situation ever did happen.

Hopefully it never will.

But at least for now, I’ve got the memo!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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 herself and tried to get the dog off of me.

She succeeded in removing him, only to have him begin lunging at her throat and mauling her as she attempted to protect herself.

Fortunately, my father came to her aid after seeing what was happening and he was able to put the dog in a headlock and subdue him.

I will never forget my mother’s bravery and her display of sacrificial love.

SCRIPTURE:

That was one of many times that I saw her model the scripture: “Greater love has no man than this that He lay down His life for his friends.” John 15:13.

I never fully understood that sort of love that my mother had until my own daughter became extremely ill and had to be put on a ventilator and flown to KU med center. I remember the social worker having me fill out papers and asking me if there was anything I wanted.

My response? “Can I please just take her place?”

LESSON 2: OBEDIENCE

Mom may have been small on the outside but she was big on the inside and I knew better than to cross her.

I wouldn’t have dreamed of sassing my mom or rolling my eyes at her in disgust.

I can remember being around five years old and riding my tricycle down our back alley to explore some things.

After a while, my mom hollered for me to find out where I was. I heard her but I wasn’t in any hurry to get back home.

Slowly, in my own time, I came cruising back up the alley towards home only to find her halfway to me with a switch in her hand!

I got switched on my little legs all the way home for not answering her when she called.

She wasn’t angry near as much as she was scared because when I hadn’t answered her, she thought something had happened to me.

I learned after that to respond to her when she called and that meant immediately!

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 6:1 “Children obey your parents in the lord for this is right”

LESSON 3: RESPECT!

Respect was huge in my home!

Both of my parents were sure to teach us to respect God, others and self.

In my house, you were not allowed to curse and especially not to say any “G” words unless you were praying!  That meant, no “Jeez”, “gosh darn it’s” or even “ga’ll”. We were expected to respect God and his name.

I also learned at a young age to respect others.

I can remember being around five or six and daily watching a man in an electric wheelchair motoring down the street past our house.

I thought this was a great novelty and would run a long side him laughing as he went.

That is until my mother observed my actions and pulled me aside to ‘school’ me on a few things.

She told me that this man was handicapped and that my running alongside him laughing at him was disrespectful and would be seen as making fun of him.

From that day on, I made it a point to just smile and wave as he went by.

Respecting others property was a life lesson that I learned at a young age as well.

My mother was shocked to learn from our neighbors that someone was getting in his garage and taking his Avon bottle collection.

It wasn’t too long after that, that my mother noticed a strong scent coming from the bush fort that my friend and I had been mixing a ‘witches’ brew in.

My friend and I were immediately marched to the neighbor’s house to confess that we had taken the Avon bottles.

So much for our witches brew!

Mom taught self -respect as well.

On my very first date, a boy asked me to go with him and some friends to a drive-in. When I asked my mom for permission, she replied that she expected me to know how to conduct myself and given her trust and expectation, that is exactly what I did!

SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the law and the prophets.”

1 Peter 2:17 “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the King.”

LESSON 4: GUARD YOUR TONGUE

My mom was very wise when it came to the tongue.

She was leery of gossips and busy-bodies and didn’t want her daughter to be one!

She used to tell me not to say anything behind someone’s back that I wasn’t willing to say to their face.

I found out the hard way the wisdom of her words!

I had a friend who had been especially annoying one particular day and so I decided to share that information with another little girl, who promptly went and told her what I had said!

The friend I was annoyed with confronted me by asking if I had told such and so that she was a ‘spoiled brat’. Knowing I had been caught in my own trap, I had to admit, that yes indeed I had!

I learned a quick lesson that day that if you talk about somebody, good or bad, it just might come back to you!

She also taught me how to ignore gossips and slanderers who would try to spread rumors about me. I can remember a girl saying something very hurtful and untrue about me one day at school. When I told my mother, she replied that the people who are truly my friends and know my character wouldn’t believe it anyway, and the ones who would believe false rumors about me probably weren’t the sort of friends I would want.

SCRIPTURE:

James 3:6 “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life and is set on fire by hell.”

This ties right in with lesson 5 from my mom:

LESSON 5: HUMILITY

My mother was not impressed with self-righteous attitudes at all.

I remember back in the 70’s when Christian entertainer, Anita Bryant was in the news because she was getting divorced.

I made some statement to my mother about how wrong this was and I was rebuked quickly for judging a situation that I knew nothing about.

My mother did not think that I could make any judgments about Anita Bryant and her marriage based on hearsay from newspapers. Who was I to know what all had gone on in her personal life.

To this day, I am reminded that I will hear and read a lot of things about people but if it doesn’t directly involve me, it is none of my business and better left to them and God to sort out.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned”

LESSON 6: DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY!

When adolescence brought the moody blues to my doorstep, my mother had a way of making me laugh right out of my grumpy attitude!

She would begin by over-exaggerating all the woes of the world and pretty soon, I would be laughing. She had a way of putting life in perspective.

I remember being a teenager and going with mom to try on a pair of boots that I liked. I put them on and walked around in them asking them what she thought. She mentioned that she would like them better if they were on the right feet!

I looked down only to discover that she was right! We got the giggles so bad that we almost didn’t recover and to this day, still laugh about that incident.

I have seen her weather many of life’s storms and choose to find some laughter along the way despite the circumstances

SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”

CLOSING:

These are only six of the many lessons I learned from Mom. There isn’t enough time to share all of the many lessons and to this day, I still continue to learn from her wisdom!

The hand that rocked my cradle helped to form how I affect my world, and hopefully, the lessons I have learned will contribute to making it a better place!

Happy Mother’s Day!

WITHOUT THE TWO “R’S”, WE ARE HANDICAPPED

I was thinking the other day about a scenario that took place at a house we had bought several years ago.

We awoke on a Sunday morning to find a car that wasn’t ours, parked in our driveway.  Wondering what was up with that and limited on time, we decided that after church, we would deal with it.

After arriving back at our house, observing that the car was still there, we called the police who promptly arrived to investigate.

It didn’t take long for the police to check things out and discover that the guy who owned it had been arrested the night before in a drug bust.

Before we had bought the house, some shady dealings had gone on in it and evidently the car owner had thought the same people still lived there and wouldn’t mind him parking there while he negotiated some shady dealings of his own.

The police informed us that we could have the car towed at our expense if we liked.

I announced that I didn’t like that idea and that I guess we just owned a new car since it happened to be in our driveway!

The police did acknowledge, however, that if they put a flag on it, the city would tow it and the owner would be charged instead.

Even a better idea!

However, the owner had a deadline to retrieve the car before it was towed.

I was finding the whole scene very interesting since the owner was in jail and wondered how he would accomplish this?

Fast forward to around 10:00 p.m. when another car creeps up our drive and out pops a “mom” looking sort of person to retrieve the car and drive it away.

Mom to the rescue to bail out the son who was doing the drug deal.

I had to wonder how many times in this young man’s life, did this sort of scenario take place?

Did anyone ever try to teach this guy respect and responsibility?

I can remember vividly when I was a teen in the 70’s and experiential drugs were on the rise.

My Dad told my brother and I that if we ever broke the law by being involved with drugs or anything else, he would not bail us out. We would sit in jail.

This was no threat. He sincerely meant it.

He wanted us to learn to respect the law, respect ourselves and if we couldn’t seem to do that then we would have to suffer the consequences and not him.

Why should he pay money to bail us out of trouble that we got ourselves into?

He was teaching us personal responsibility.

Respect and responsibility are taught when kids are young.

If you steal, you have to pay back what you stole.

If you lie, you must confess.

I fear that too many parents are making excuses for their kids and they are handicapping them for life.

If they are rude and disrespectful, we say, “oh they are tired or having a bad day”.

That may very well be but if we don’t teach them that having a bad day isn’t a free ticket to lash out at others, what will happen when they show up at work someday and the boss asks them to do something they don’t feel like doing because they are ‘having a bad day’?

What of a child who refuses to take responsibility for their chores or schoolwork?

I am aware of parents who actually do their children’s school work for them if they are behind. Others who call and yell at the teacher if their darling is failing.

Many kudos to the parent who cares enough to let their child actually get a well deserved “F” if he/she has failed to put in the effort.

That parent is giving their child a lesson in responsibility that is a life skill that will empower rather than handicap them.

No one else in life is going to pick up the slack for someone who isn’t pulling their own weight unless they are totally co-dependent.

When I see students cussing out teachers, law breakers cursing the police, an employee telling off the employer who pays him, I am looking at a person who not only disrespects the authority figure but himself as well.

Talk about self sabotage!

It makes no sense to me that a student would rage against a teacher who is trying to help him succeed.

Or a police officer who is trying to hold a person accountable to follow laws that are there for his/her own personal protection as well as societies at large.

A teacher commented to me the other day that students now demand that they get respect before they will give it. She wondered how any respect is going to happen if everyone is feeling entitled to get it before they have earned it anyway?

Most of us find that if we are respectful to others, they will be more than happy to treat us the same way.

Few teachers, employers or law enforcers tangle with a person who is respectful and responsible. Why would they?

It seems fitting here to remember the golden rule which basically says, “treat other’s the way you want to be treated.”

What if you were a teacher, a police officer, an employer?

Back in the day, when I attended parent/teacher conferences, I almost always asked, “is my child treating you with respect?” The teachers seemed surprised that a parent would actually care about how they were treated. That is very sad to me.

My childrens’ character honestly mattered far more to me than their grades ever did.

I fear that if we continue on this trajectory of blaming others for our own bad behavior, expecting others to bail us out of messes we get ourselves into, there will be too few who are respectful and responsible to carry the load for everyone else.

Hopefully, we can turn back the tide before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE MAY NOT BE A THIEF BUT WE EACH WILL IDENTIFY WITH ONE.

I sat quietly at the back of the small church with a few, mainly gray haired people, around me.

I have been at this place on and off over the years in various churches but it is often the same.

It is a Good Friday service.

Kids are out of school, families are planning a meal.

It was only a half hour community service to reflect on what happened on that day of crucifixion.

The message was straight out of scripture and talked about the thieves on the cross.

One thief who hung next to Jesus, mocked him.

The other thief actually believed in Him, declaring Himself a sinner yet Christ, sinless.

He asked Jesus to remember him and without hesitation, Christ told him, “today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Just like that, one man believed and was granted eternal life.

The other thief would rather go to his death mocking the only one who could save him for all eternity.

I marveled at the fact that we as a people go about our busyness and routines, often without a thought as to where we will spend eternity or who we will spend it with.

This work that Christ did on the cross for mankind should draw people into the streets, shouting in celebration.

We should be so grateful for what He has done that we want to give our very lives to live proclaiming his name for whatever number of days we may have breath.

Yet, we quietly come together in small, aging groups with very little sign that the next generation wants to follow suit.

For all of us young or old, we have to come to the place that we identify with either one thief or the other.

It isn’t about showing up for a service but rather about believing in the deepest level of our hearts, that there is a Savior who loved us enough to die in our place and we need him.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our []well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.” Is 53:4-6

What a Savior!

DON’T LEAVE US

I hate goodbyes and especially when someone is leaving and I know that I can’t go visit them.

In the past several years it seems between moves, changes and the death of dear friends, the goodbyes have become more frequent.

There is this sense of abandonment,  a blanket of loneliness that sets in when I know that separation is coming and I feel helpless to stop it.

I can remember a season when we had buried far too many of our church members.

I found myself turning to a friend standing next to me and saying with tears in my eyes, “they are leaving us”.

I guess that is why I found my recent study in the gospel of John 14, so very encouraging.

Jesus is speaking to his disciples as he prepares them for his crucifixion.

They have been following, learning and believing.

Their faith had grown and so had their love for Christ.

But now, they are being told that his time on earth was coming to an end.

They didn’t totally understand what he was trying to tell them but they definitely didn’t want to think about him leaving.

Jesus knew this would be hard.

It was going to be the hardest on him.

He encouraged them with the promise that He would send the Holy Spirit as a helper and that although he was going away, he would prepare a place for them and they would be joining him there eventually.

He left them with comfort and hope.

That same hope that he gave his disciples, he gives to us who believe.

We may part for awhile.

Some of us may leave earlier than others and we will have to say our goodbyes.

The good news is that in Christ, these goodbyes are not forever.

He is not a parent who abandons his children. He always delivers on his promises.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1,2

 

 

SELF BLAME AND THE GUILT TRAP

I had a conversation today with a man who lost his wife recently at only 46 years of age.

That is young in our day.

She often struggled with migraines but who could have known that there was an aneurism present that would take her life?

Many people have aches and pains of various kinds and migraines are fairly common, so because MRI’s are expensive and insurance hard to deal with, far too often, we just live with the issues.

One can imagine the second guessing this husband struggles with because we have all been there to one degree or another.

My concern in my prayers for him is the guilt that he will be tempted to heap upon himself over something that neither he nor his wife could have foreseen.

It is the “if only I had known” syndrome.

I have been there myself.

I can remember a time when we bought a fixer upper house that had pigeons roosting on it.

I loved the house, we prayed about it and lo and behold, if the seller didn’t accept our very low price!

We shooed pigeons away and began renovations.

We didn’t worry too much about one that was in a cage in the room that would become our daughters’. We just turned him loose and let him fly.

In less than a year of living there, our daughter contracted viral encephalitis and it almost took her life.

Did the pigeon issue cause this? Lead paint maybe, from the walls? Anything at all that we had stirred up in that over 100 year old home?

Oh the guilt that I heaped upon myself for wanting that house!

What a bad mother I was!

Then, if I couldn’t blame myself, I wondered about my sovereign God who knows all things?

Why didn’t He prevent us from this house rather than provide for it?

Of course, the doctors said there was no way of knowing how our daughter contracted the illness, but I went down the lane and back trying to figure it out.

Who is guilty here, Lord? Me or you?

Somebody, somewhere had to have screwed up!

If I had to wager on whether it was a perfect, loving God or imperfect me, guess who I landed on?

As time went on, I began to see the reality of my thinking.

I was treating myself as if I had sinned and was paying the price for it.

When I asked myself whether or not I would have bought that house if I knew it would possibly make my child seriously ill, I knew the answer was “no”. Of course not!

I would have lived in a shack for the rest of my life rather than sign on for that.

Did God answer our prayers and graciously give us that house?

Yes!

Did He know that this trial would come our way?

Yes!

Does He love us?

Yes!

Did He get us through to the other side?

Yes.

Did He answer all of my “why did this happen?” questions?

No!

He just carried and led my family and I in the faithful way that He promised He would in so many, many scriptures.

There are deliberate choices that we make in life to do wrong, to sin and for those, we need to confess to our graciously forgiving God.

There are other circumstances in this life that are a result of our humanity, God’s sovereignty and a million unanswered questions that will remain this side of eternity.

May God give us the wisdom to own what is ours, let go of what is not and to find the ‘release’ button on the guilt trap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU REALLY SHOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE BECOMING A PARENT!

You really should think twice before becoming a parent.

Trust me on this because I have had five children and I did so without a clue as to what I was signing on for.

First of all, they are expensive.

They need doctors, dentists, clothes, food and frequent trips to Walmart.

They get sick at all hours of the night and day, refusing to cooperate with your own schedule and needs.

As infants, they strategically plan to spit up on you right after you get ready for church, or better yet, orchestrate a serious diaper blowout in the middle of the service.

As soon as they can walk, they will stand by your bed declaring their stomach hurts and before the words “get to the toilet!!” can escape your lips, they throw up all over you, the bedding and the floor.

They do heartbreaking things like graduate from story hour or pre-school and cause their mothers to cry as they accept their certificates and march across the stage, ready to pass on to the next season of life.

So, see, you really should think twice before becoming a parent.

When they enter adolescence, the hormones kick in and moods swing with the unpredictability of a Midwestern thunder storm.

This adds more expense as you have to double your intake of caffeine and Ibuprofen, not to mention the very real possibility you may have to add an extra bathroom on to the back of the house!

Before the hormones are fully under control, they begin to notice the opposite sex and also the family car which adds an overwhelming amount of extra stress and sleepless nights to already exhausted parents.

You really should think twice before becoming a parent.

Finally, they reach high school age and you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of activities that keep you wishing you lived in an R.V. instead of a house.

As you race from one event to another, snapping pictures, cheering their successes and standing beside them through many a teary failure, you suddenly see it is all coming to an end.

This brutal blow should definitely cause you to think twice before becoming a parent.

Somewhere in the midst of all the craziness you realize that there was laughter, joy, love and family.

There were friends, memories, milestones and growth that didn’t take place in just your kids but yourself as well.

You look back over the years, reflecting on each season and the epiphany comes:

YOU ARE GOING TO MISS THIS.

Just remember, I warned you.

You really should think twice before becoming a parent.