I Found My Oatmeal in the Closet!

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I found my oatmeal in the closet. Right next to the scarves I needed to hang while eating my breakfast. We’ve all done this before right? Well, maybe it didn’t sound exactly like this.

I can’t find my…

Where did I put my…

Now how did those get there!

Does that sound more like it?

On days like these when I start the day busy, go hard, and end the day hungry, I would do well to remind myself to take the time to EAT.

Enjoy each new morning,

Attend to every task in due time,

Take the time to do even the simplest things well.

 

After all, who wants to settle for cold oatmeal?

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Just Imagine…

 

It has been very cold lately. Most of us have been spending our time indoors, only venturing out for work and necessity.

 

Last night however, as I worked in front of the warm oven to prepare dinner, I heard a clatter and commotion that drew my attention outside. What I observed out there, as the sun was setting in the zero degree weather, made me smile and giggle as if I were watching an entertaining movie.

 

What was the source of this intrigue outdoors on such a cold winter evening?

 

It was the neighbor kids. Bundled beyond recognition, they had gathered together a variety of items to build a drum set in their backyard.

 

A big blue barrel sounded like the base. A couple of old propane canisters looked like cymbals. An overturned sled became a snare. A worn tricycle served as the drum seat. Broken sticks banged out the beats.

 

Never mind the frigid cold. Never mind the hodgepodge of materials. Never mind the lack of an audience. These kids had created a splendid concert in less than favorable working conditions, pounding out an example of creative imagination and entertaining ingenuity.

 

As the concert came to a finale, I stood at my kitchen window applauding.

Bravo creativity. Well done ingenuity. Encore imagination.

 

I guess they did have an audience after all.

As for me, this free concert event was a priceless reminder of all that is possible with just a little imagination!

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Enjoy the Sparkles

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I like snow because it sparkles.

This is what a second grader recently wrote about the snow during this latest blast of arctic air that chilled almost the entire United States.

Simple. I like it. It sparkles.

I used to think like that, too, a long time ago. As a young child I can remember rough winters on the farm, snowed in for days at a time.

No furnace. Yes! We get to camp in front of the fireplace.

No lights. Awesome! We get to light those special candles Momma keeps in the cupboard for times like this.

No electricity. Cool! We’ll read and play games and use our imaginations together to pass the time.

Funny how time changes us over the years. The prospects of snow once sparkling with ideas of snow forts, snow angels, and snow cones are replaced with the heavier burdens of snow removal, snow make-up days, and snow repairs.

But what if we remember to think like that child of long ago. It’s really just perspective, isn’t it?

Daunting driveway. Yes! I get a free workout today.

Lost days at work. Awesome! I can work on that project I’ve wanted to finish at home.

Power out. Yay! We can have conversation aside from all things plugged in.

The burdens of winter will pass, as spring has proven to come year after year.

In the meantime enjoy like a child. Enjoy time. Enjoy people. Enjoy snow. After all, it sparkles.

Looking forward, where stories are never left behind!

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2013 has been an exciting year for Shelly Simoneau Stories, with 5 published children’s BOOKS and eBooks now available through any online retailer all around the world! My stories have a REACH as far as London, Haiti, and Africa!

Shelly Simoneau Stories loves to CONNECT to EDUCATION. As an educator over the past 20 years, I have developed my stories for enjoyment in the home as well as for use in the classroom setting. Each story is a unique learning experience that kids and adults can easily relate to. I am so thankful to have been able to use my personal stories to promote character education and curriculum connections in Kansas schools in 2013!

Shelly Simoneau Stories loves to TRAVEL and SHARE the stories. I am delighted that I was able to travel over 5,000 miles this year, sharing my books and many other stories at schools, libraries, conventions, and public events across Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma! The journey has been amazing, as well as the many people I have encountered along the way.

Shelly Simoneau Stories loves to LEARN about TECHNOLOGY. I skyped 1250 miles across the country this year for Read Across America, connecting Elmont Elementary students in Topeka, KS to Kennedy Elementary students in Roxbury, NJ! What an amazing experience for everyone involved! I also highlighted my current iPad apps at the Logan Elementary Summer Enrichment Program in Topeka, KS this past summer.

So what’s new in 2014?

I’ll be kicking off the New Year with Lowman Hills Elementary in Topeka, KS for a Kansas Day celebration reading night in January. In 2014 I will also be delivering the keynote storytelling presentation at the Barton County Community College Education Fair. Look for more iPad apps, as well as Tinker in the Tanker, my next book focusing on patience and courage, to be published in late fall!

Shelly Simoneau Stories is looking forward, where stories are never left behind!

Thank you for your continued support! I hope to see you in 2014!

 

JOY

Our 20-year-old daughter came home yesterday for a quick visit. She was battling the winter sniffles and not feeling her best. However, my birthday is coming up and she did not want to miss seeing me before my “big day”.

 

When she arrived in town she took her younger brother lunch at the high school, and made sure to let her favorite principal know how much she appreciated her while she was there.

 

When I arrived home she greeted me with tight hugs and sincere kisses, before paying her phone bill with a giggle and a smile.

 

We enjoyed an evening of dinner, “catching up”, and planning for our Christmas time together before it was time for her to go. She had one more stop to make. She had painted a picture for a friend’s young daughter and wanted to deliver it with hugs before the little one’s bedtime.

 

On the way out I commented on how happy and cheerful she seemed, even with the runny nose and nagging cough.

 

Her response, “Oh yeah, someone reminded me what JOY means!”

 

Jesus first.

Others second.

You last.

 

I am so thankful for every little example that serves as a reminder of the reason for our JOY in every season.

 

Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas filled with the JOYous celebration of our Savior’s birth.

 

 

Heart of a Giver

I recently spent time witnessing the sincere generosity of giving hearts. It was an experience that filled my own heart with joy in this tender season of giving.

 It began with a young child. Someone’s vibrant friend. Someone’s smiling neighbor. Someone’s beautiful daughter. Berkeley’s diagnosis was Leukemia.

 Enter Adrienne, a talented hair stylist at Moxy Hair Studio. Adrienne shared a connection to this child in need and offered her gift of cutting hair to make a wig with the help of Locks of Love.

 And so a quest began. A simple search for givers.

 Word of mouth. Phone calls. Social media.

 Enter Trisha, a typical young college student living fifty-seven miles away with very long, healthy hair. She had been growing it for many years. A beautiful treasure. Trisha heard of the search and an appointment was made.

 Sounds like the end of the story, right? Actually this is where I enter in as a witness. I met Trisha at Moxy Hair Studio, where we met Adrienne, who gave 80 minutes of her own time and talents that day for free, to donate Trisha’s hair, along with the hair of other givers, for the precious child in need.

 What did I witness?  Joyful giving. Priceless and selfless. And so it continues.

 There was smiling, and laughter, and joyful conversation. You see the giving was so much more than the hair, so much more than time and talent and treasure, because the hearts of the givers were filled with the joy of the giving.

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 Look closely in the mirror. Joy can be found anywhere.

When is the last time you shared in it?

Be joyful always. – 1 Thes. 5:16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to You!

Today is my daughter’s 20th birthday! I’ve spent the last week asking myself the familiar questions.

 

How could this be?

Where has all the time gone?

Is she really all grown up?

 

Then I got to thinking about all the kids. I realized they have all experienced socially significant birthdays this year.

 

In April the oldest turned 21. He “came of age”, no longer a minor, magically transformed into an adult, with adult rights and responsibilities.

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 He has certainly proven himself capable of making adult decisions, carrying a job, and making the grades as a college student. He has also discovered it takes a little more than pixie dust to fly out there in the real world!

 

This young adult is growing more confident of God’s plan and purpose for him day by day. Such confidence will be rewarded through his perseverance – Heb. 10:35-36, Rom. 5:4.

 

 

The youngest child just turned “Sweet 16” in October.

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 FREEDOM was his first word that day. TETHERED was ours!

 

Yes, that sweet age has its’ freedoms. He can drive on his own, be responsible for his own clock and calendar, and participate in more activities.

 

Wait a minute. Did I mention responsibility? Oh yes! He must learn about putting gas in his own car, managing his time, and continuing to follow rules (called laws now), among other things.

 

And he is doing it! He is growing in knowledge. He’s stretching, reaching, and gathering fruit, learning what is pleasing to the Lord – Eph. 5:8-9.

 

 

This brings us to the Birthday Girl! The middle one. Our only daughter. 20 years young today!

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 I just have to say it one more time, with tears and giggles all mixed up together. Where have the all the years gone?

 

20 years! Good-bye teens. Good-bye adolescence. Hello young adult!

 

I have watched her grow, encouraging her in her struggles and cheering on her successes. Growing into an adult is certainly not easy. And she is just leaving the shallow end!

 

At the age of 20, this young woman is now peering through a different lens. One ready for deeper water. It’s that place where God has purposed her to search out and find. The promise for her in this deep water? When she seeks her place, in truth, she will find it – Mt. 6:33.

 

I say Happy Birthday today with joy and thanksgiving! I have been so graciously blessed to share in all of these years, and pray God’s continued blessing upon each and every significant year to come. 

 

Happy Birthday Josey!

 

 

 

 

 

That Most Special Place

This cold, rainy day reminded me of an interesting conversation I had with Elizabeth, a lady I met at an event where I was selling and signing my books this past weekend.

 Elizabeth has several grandchildren and purchased one of my books to read together in their “special place”. This special place is a cozy recliner next to their warm fireplace. Her grandchildren climb up in the chair with her and settle in to read, be read to, and talk about stories. Elizabeth even has a special Tinker Bell blanket to snuggle under at her grandchildren’s request.

 We should all have a place like this.

 That most special place under the magical spell of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust. That most special place where we can relax and let go of the world. That most special place where we can dream the dreams that always seem reachable.

 I know I do!

 My old wingback chair in the bedroom is the snuggle spot. It is nestled in a quiet corner, dressed with blankets, and ready for occupancy. I can stretch out in it, using the footstool, or I can curl up in it with one of the sleepy bassets. It is that tranquil place of escape. It’s that certain place of comfort. It is familiar yet new over and over again.

 I do not have grandchildren yet, but I look forward to that day, like Elizabeth, when I will scoop up my little ones and enjoy together a good story, a close time, a most special place.

Flag on the Play

It is football season and everyone is talking. Everyone is watching. Everyone is anticipating.

 Well, maybe not everyone. I seem to be one of the few during this season that prefers a calmer atmosphere!

 I decided to be present in the excitement this past Sunday afternoon, however, as my own family settled into the easy chairs in the living room to watch multiple games.

 It was not long before the continuous whistles and announcements of this success or that strategy or another penalty interrupted my reading. I found myself constantly looking up to see what was happening.  The penalties held my attention.

 Every penalty brought the flailing yellow flag thrown by the referee. Accusation.

 Every penalty brought the zoom of a camera lens onto the boldly printed name and number on the back of a jersey. Trial.

 Every penalty brought the announcement of wrongdoing in front of thousands of jeering fans. Conviction.

 Every penalty brought a consequence. Sentencing.

 Every penalty was reviewed, replayed, and could be rehashed over and over again on sports news for days, or perhaps even longer. Unforgotten.

 Whoa. Talk about pressure! And this was just a game!

 I’m so thankful our penalties, our mistakes, and our failures in the real world are not treated entirely the same as they are on the big game day.

 I’ve told my daughter she is a great example. She is still recovering from three, yes three, speeding tickets from a careless high school summer. The flags were thrown. She plopped each ticket on the counter. She threw her hands up. She lost some privileges. Time out. Sound familiar?

 Accused, tried, sentenced and still paying the price of costly insurance; what’s the difference you wonder?

 She is forgiven. There are no repeating whistles. There is no nightly review. No camera zooming in on her back. No jeers from the crowd. No lasting pressure to make up for inadequacy. She does not have to carry this penalty through her entire game of life.

 Quick huddle. New play. Back in the game.

 Isn’t this a great lesson for our children? For all of us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got Nature?

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Children are outside all the time. They are accustomed to it. It is just natural.

 

But recently, when I took Elmont Elementary 2nd grade students outside for a nature walk to prepare our minds for Fall poetry, they came alive with excitement about simply being outdoors.

 

This was not the normal excitement you see when kids play together outside. It was different from the everyday. It did not look or feel the same. These kids were welcoming their familiar environment with a fresh, new outlook.  They were responding to a reason to explore, a reason to participate with nature.

 

I love that about the change of the seasons. It has the power to stir joy and renewed energy into the hearts of young and old. It can pull you in and captivate you, releasing you from the norm for that magical moment in time.

 

I love how the change of season makes everything we’ve always known new once again. This change stirs up all of our senses and renews our attitudes and our actions.

 

Familiar becomes quaint.

 

Natural becomes supernatural.

 

Normal becomes magnificent.

 

Kids in these everyday normal spaces say things like,

 

“This is so awesome!” and,

 

“I feel like a park ranger!” and

 

“Hey, I found some nature over here!”

 

How about you? Are you alive with this change of season in your familiar place? Has your usual been replaced with phenomenal?

 

Got nature?