A Closer Look at the Book: The Cows Came Running and the Horses Did Too!

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I’ll be sharing a closer look at all my books over the next couple of weeks, as I prepare for the Kansas Book Festival in Topeka, Kansas. The Cows Came Running and the Horses Did Too! was my very first book, released in 2011. The story is based on a 1970s childhood memory that takes place on our humble family farm in Wilsey, Kansas.

I love this story because of its strong connection to just about everyone! It is a story of a dad who says no. His daughters, however, do not listen.

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Ouch! It’s true. I disobeyed my father when I was growing up!

Who doesn’t relate to that?

The best part about this memory is what I got to keep from it over all these years. I gained a rich learning experience of honesty, respect, and responsibility.

And let’s not forget about those natural consequences!

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Find out more about this story at http://www.shellysimoneaustories.com and then share you own story of how you learned that big lesson as a child.

Always Learning,

Shelly Simoneau

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. – Eph. 6:1

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The Last First Day!

When we were very young, Mother greeted us with warm cookies as we arrived home after the first day of school. Sister and I were still brimming with energy, even after a long day of school work and new routine. Fresh cookies were the perfect invitation to sit for a bit and share together pieces of our day apart from one another. I remember the sweet memory of feeling full.

Not just full from Mother’s delicious cookies.

Full of joy. Full of happiness. Full of love.

It has been many years since my own children were little. They too were welcomed home with a plate of warm cookies after those delightful first days. They recall the excitement of our simple tradition and the joy of sharing. They too were filled.

Filled with conversation. Filled with laughter. Filled with love.

There was plenty of time.

Today our youngest began his first day of his last year of high school. The last little one all grown up. The moment is already a memory.

And that time for the simplest joys? Where has it gone?

He’s looking ahead now. He’s preparing to move on. He’s not always in a hurry to come home and share his day.

But today, this last first day, I’ll have this plate of cookies waiting.

An invitation.

Come home.

Let’s sit for a bit.

Let’s share some time.

Let’s be filled.

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Peanut Butter 1-1-1 Cookies

Mix 1 egg, 1 cup peanut butter,  and 1 cup sugar together. Use a small cookie scoop to drop dough onto a baking pan. Press with a fork. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350. Cool and Enjoy!

Please Share the Caprese!

One of my favorite summer flavors is sweet basil. Every year I explore new ways to freshen up a dish with this sweet wonder to enjoy with my family, or friends, or both!

20150718_142439-1As you can see, my basil patch is just starting to shoot up. It has been an unusually wet summer in Kansas. The excessive rainfall and flooding has wreaked havoc on my garden! I am delighted to see the basil has survived and is starting to thrive.

Just in time, actually! I thinned the young plants recently and prepared a delicious caprese pasta salad to share with my Monday night ladies’ Bible study group. Several of the ladies asked for the recipe, so here it is!

pasta_120811I started with 2 cups of cooked pasta. My children always loved the bow tie variety when they were littles, so I kept with that nostalgia. After draining the excess water, I coated the pasta lightly with olive oil and stirred in a bit of salt and pepper. Next, I prepared a creamy dressing, stirring together about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. You can use more or less of either ingredient to your own liking. I then stirred the dressing and pasta together and let it chill in the fridge while I prepared the key caprese ingredients: basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella!

sun-dried_121351I love to use fresh cherry tomato halves for this salad, but my tomato plants have struggled through this soggy Kansas season. I opted instead for a handful of tangy sun-dried tomatoes. These are handy to have in your pantry for quick substitutes. I just slivered them up and they were ready to go in the dish!

basil_120533I picked a handful of young basil to thin out my row in the garden and allow the other plants to grow bigger. These young plants are still packed with great flavor and I never let them go to waste. I tore the leaves into smaller pieces for this salad.

mozz_121933Of course fresh and creamy mozzarella is a must! I like to chop mine a little chunky. I folded the tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella into the pasta salad and packed it for the church potluck.

The flavors had plenty of time to blend as we greeted each other with fellowship and prayer. This caprese pasta salad tasted delicious alongside other summer favorites, but could also stand alone as a quick and easy summer meal. Enjoy!

Always Look Back

Someone I hold very dear in my heart has gone home to be with the Lord. I loved her. She never knew my name, but she knew my heart. And though I never heard her speak the tender words, I know she loved me too.

I met my friend in a memory care unit. We visited weekly, sharing stories and laughter and tears. Our relationship grew from acquaintance to friendship to love.

While I spoke with words, she spoke mostly with her loving eyes, her warm smile, and the grasp of her hand.

So how do I know she loved me?

She always looked back.

Let me explain.

As a young child, growing up on the farm, my parents always reminded me of how fragile life can be. They taught me never to take for granted the time we have to spend with each other. We don’t know when our time here is complete, and we should take every opportunity to show our love for one another. One way to practice this was to simply remember to always look back.

Look back when you are leaving.

Look back and say I love you.

Look back and wave goodbye.

Look back with hugs and kisses.

Just look back.

I still practice this today. When I am leaving home I remember. When I am leaving my parents’ farm I remember. When I am leaving the memory ward I remember.

That’s how I know my friend loved me.

You see. We always found each other looking back.

Happy New Year Class of 1989!

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2014 Council Grove High School Class of 1989 Reunion.

I missed it!

Here’s why.

I didn’t make any other plans. I didn’t blow it off. I even thought about going. I also thought about dieting, buying a new outfit, upgrading my website, liposuction, chemical peels… okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit.

25 years ago I said goodbye and good luck to many gifted and talented high school friends. We all committed to new journeys. I have never doubted these friends are out there in the world making a difference as God has purposed for them.

Some of these friendships have remained. Our generation has been blessed with a technology that sees and knows as much as we want to be seen and be known. With social media, it sometimes feels like we’re all still right there.

Amazingly, I have had the pleasure of running into old classmates in random locations. Spontaneous moments like these are the more authentic reunions of friendship that I have cherished over the years. These moments don’t come with practiced rehearsals of success, covering of age marks and wrinkles, or sucking anything in to get the button done. These moments are simple truths and honest reflections of the real me. As it should be.

So after 25 years, here is what is most important to me, what I want you all to know.

I love God. I love people.

This world out here is not easy. Just like they said twenty-five years ago, it really is full of blood, sweat, and tears. But I have a Savior who gives me joy and hope for every tomorrow. And I pray you have found Him, too.

I have a thankful heart for every blessing I have received. I am blessed through family and friends. You all have been a part of that. You’re a blessing! I am thankful to have shared a little piece of my life with each of you and I encourage each of you, and I pray for you, too, as you all continue on the path God has marked uniquely for you.

I’m hopeful many of our paths do cross again, Council Grove High School Class of 1989. Until then…

Happy New Year!

Change of Season

I haven’t spent time here for a while.

Life has been gritty.

Uncomfortable.

Pressing.

Changing.

It has been like the coming of Autumn.

I’ve held the hand of the dying. Gripping every gifted moment tightly. Releasing encouragement. Saying you can make it, when I knew they would not. Not here.

I’ve gathered every brilliant moment of time and celebrated every breath of living.

Like harvest. We spend our time in the fields. We gather and preserve every blessing, knowing as we enjoy the Fall death still comes.

I’ve been looking into faces of dignity.

They are the forgetful ones.

They are the diseased.

They are the widowed.

They are the homeless.

It’s uncomfortable yet satisfying. Like trying to laugh through crying. Like the blasts of cool air readying you for the winter, and then warming again as the day wears. We just add a sweater on those cool mornings. If only it could be this simple.

Spending time with those longing for a memory.

Enjoying the same conversation again and again.

Asking for mercy in the middle of the storm.

Sometimes the colors of Fall are beautiful. Sometimes we have to look past the gray that withers away.

They all have something in common. Their eyes all search for the same thing.

Hope.

Seasons like this move us. We are their hope. We can change and be changed.

I am changed.

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It’s a new season.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him. -Ecclesiastes 3:1,1

Pick the Apples!

What do you do when you discover a fully loaded apple tree in your neighborhood has fallen to the ground in the middle of the apple season? You pick apples!

Lots of them.

 

We rescued three heaping bags full,

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sacrificed just a bit of time (about 7 hours),IMG_20140804_100611_966

threw in a good amount of sugar and spice (for good measure, as Grandma would always say),

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and followed through to the finish with a little toil (blisters and steam burns are true trophies).

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The reward? We’ll enjoy the blessing of this impromptu harvest throughout the long winter to come!

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Sometimes a season comes early. Sometimes unexpected. What do you do with it? Go ahead and pick those apples.

To Be Remembered

So many of my stories share the examples of a father’s love and leadership witnessed during my own childhood. Some of these memories are tough life lessons. Others are the most splendid father and daughter moments. This Father’s Day I am so thankful to have been blessed by the love and guidance of my Daddy.

At a recent storytelling event at Burlington Elementary School, I entered the audience with a question.

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“What would Daddy do?”

The kids had some great ideas.
Many shared their own wonderful reflections.
They all really wanted to know what Daddy DID do!

Imagine their surprise when I told them Daddy was in the audience that day! The crowd came to a stand, clapping and cheering expectantly for Daddy.

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Now keep in mind this was a father they did not know. My Daddy. Connected only to the audience through the story told that day.

Yet, they desired to know. What DID Daddy do?

The lessons and the love we receive from our fathers and our father figures are desired. They are gifts in time. They are to be remembered. They are to be passed on.

Happy Father’s Day and thank you to all the Dads who are leading by example. The eyes of many are upon you. What will you do?

And Then Suddenly…

Lately I have been suffering from the “and then suddenlies”. You know those kinds of moments that you know are coming and then suddenly they are here and then gone. And then suddenly moments are the bittersweets. The hang-on-just-a-little-bit-longer moments. They are a true blend of wanting to keep, but must let go.

Momma always told me time has a way of speeding up as you get older. I am beginning to see what she meant. This past month has been a whirlwind of the “and then suddenlies” of life and of death.

Near the beginning of April my oldest son turned 22. Our children’s birthdays always bring about a sentimental case of the “and then suddenlies”, don’t they?

Do you remember watching them teeter and toddle, and then suddenly they were walking?

How about watching them pretend as they looked through books, and then suddenly they were reading?

I’m sure, like me, you sent them into a Kindergarten classroom years ago, and then suddenly they walked out as a high school graduate!

No more training wheels. Remember that day? Well, that oldest son just removed his training wheels, landing his first full time job with all the benefits. He bought his own car and purchased his own insurance. Suddenly he became independent. And then suddenly he was truly riding along without me.

It was a bittersweet moment watching him drive away. I wanted to say wait, there must be something I need to tell you. But he just looked back. And then suddenly he was gone.

As I was growing up, my parents reminded me to always look back when I left the ones I loved. They taught me this because “you never know what life ahead of you holds”. You should take the time to look back because suddenly…

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to a dear friend. We met just a short time ago. We shared time and stories together on Wednesdays. We didn’t know each other long, before suddenly we had known each other forever. She was never able to remember my name, but it didn’t matter. We started talking and then suddenly she smiled and we began to remember. Most days my sweet friend looked up and smiled at me knowingly. Every day, as I was leaving, I looked back. There she was, smiling after me.

It seems like yesterday we just laughed together, we just held hands, and we just said I love you.

And then suddenly she’s gone.

I’m so glad I took the time to look back.

 

 

 

The plans of our hearts are many…

We’ve had a little visitor,  a toddler, in the house for almost two weeks now. He has been with us since the beginning of Spring Break. With grown children of our own, and only one still living at home, I thought it would be a fun little addition to our days.

I say addition because our plans over the break included a long list of odds and ends like needy projects, worthwhile aspirations, and well-meaning improvements.

By the end of the first day the only plans we had were with this baby.

How could we have ever forgotten the constant needs of little ones this age?

Did we really think we would be able to keep up with his constant pace?

What were we going to do with this little guy for two weeks?

Addition was definitely not the right frame of mind as we welcomed this little house guest! Remember that to-do list? Well, we quickly decided everything on it could wait.

Many days have passed since that little revelation. We have found a good routine, practiced our creativity, and simply played. We are also exhausted, lethargic, and recognizing muscles we had long forgotten.

Our time together is quickly coming to an end. We smile when we think of his little giggles, his animal sounds, and his wiggle dances. We are every bit as pooped as we were when we started. However, I feel confident this practice will make me an okay Grandma some day! Most importantly, our big question has changed.

Tonight we’re asking ourselves what we are going to do without the baby.

Oh, and about that list we still haven’t conquered? I guess what we did not do is still there. There will be time for it later or it no longer matters.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21

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