A Toast from the Mother of the Groom

When my son asked me to give a toast at his wedding reception I knew it would be emotional. After all, I had been battling random tears and joyful sobs since my baby became engaged.

How did he get here?

Grown up.


It goes way back actually. I think it started about the time of potty training!

Oh yes. I remember that moment when he decided to go in the potty like a big boy. So proud of him. Learning and growing and making good choices is hard work!

Some days were more difficult than others. Because learning to choose is so hard, from time to time we offered a reward.

His favorite? Matchbox Cars.

How proud he was to stand in front of that great big toy aisle. His little eyes scanned the huge selection. His tiny finger pointed as he said, “Mommy, I want that one!”

And my baby boy continued to grow.

Ready for Kindergarten now. How could it be? So proud of him. Learning and growing and ready to make good choices with the help of other teachers.

This was a big step. He would need a backpack.

He was so proud to stand in the Back-to-School aisle. His nervous eyes examined the display. He knew how important this moment was. This one choice would carry everything he needed between school and home every day! And as his finger pointed he said, ” Mommy, I want that one!”

And my little boy continued to grow.

Those school years passed by so fast. He did such a fine job, my son. We were so proud that he found a job and learned to be responsible.

One day  he announced he had found  a car he wanted to buy. He had saved his own money. He wanted to buy it himself.  As we drove into the lot, his eyes beamed with pride. His finger pointed as he said, “Mom, I want that one!”

Oh. How he did grow, my boy.

And the time? It continued to pass. He came home one day with a girl. She was lovely and sweet. I watched them grow closer together. I could see them learning about each other. I could see love grow in their eyes.

In time, my son looked at this girl with eyes filled with deep love.

He knew.

And I knew.

He proudly said, “Mom, I want that one!”

And so here we are. My little boy has become a man. And after a lifetime of learning to choose, we are so proud!

Here’s to “the one”!

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Cor. 13:11-13

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 4.57.03 PM







The View is Free

Highway 56 is my familiar road home. I’ve traveled it many occasions. I ‘ve grown used to the traffic, the landscape, and the rural acquaintances. However, on my latest trip back, something magnificent caught my attention. Magnificent in a free and simple kind of way. Hay bales.

That’s right. The simple beauty of hay bales.

At EXIT 147 take a left. Travel through historic Council Grove heading west. Pass the goats. Pass the ostrich. Look for the “stop tree” (my young babes named this recognizable tree so many years ago). Turn left. First right. Home.

Ohhh… but not this last visit!

At EXIT 147 take a left. Travel through historic Council Grove heading west. Pass the goats. Pass the ostrich. Look for the … oh my!

There, just beyond the “stop tree”, this beautiful display of hay bales.

I had to stop the car. I had to get out. I had to breathe in. And breathe out. This is splendor for all to see.

It is simple, yet complex. It is breathtaking, yet life giving. It represents labor, yet rests as leisure.

It stunned me. It stopped me. It moved me.

Oh and believe me, I have seen a few hay bales growing up!

Why THIS reaction?

Because it matters.

My little ones, back in the day, knew to look for the “stop tree”. They knew how to look out the window. They didn’t bypass the beauty for the distractions inside the car.

Anticipation, expectation, and hopefulness are forward thoughts.

This is what I have taught my own children. This is what I want for every child. This is future.

Are you looking ahead? Are you teaching your children to look out the window?

Are you stopping to take a look at the beautiful? Breathing in? Breathing out?

It’s a free view. And it is right outside your window.Image

What To Read, What To Read?

Don’t know what to read?

Try everything.


book collage

I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on. Grandma’s collection of Nancy Drew books, Grandpa’s stack of newspapers (he never threw any away), Uncle Jon’s collection of the Hardy Boys, Momma’s Sears catalog, Daddy’s Farmer’s Almanac, big sister’s schoolbooks, little sister’s picture books (revisiting the favorites), and as much of the World Book Encyclopedia set I could absorb in a day.

I read the piano books, the hymnals, the cookbooks, the cereal boxes, and as many magazines as possible before my name was called at the doctor or the dentist.

I loved listening to Disney Read Along Records on my little red record player.

Oh, and then there was the summer I discovered the mail order library. Heaven! Just fill out the order form and wait patiently by the mailbox until a big bag of bliss arrived with my name on it. Wow! What a discovery.

Today our children have access to more reading material than ever imagined through our reliable libraries, audio books, e-books, apps, Book Mobiles, and much more. Endless possibilities are within reach 24/7.

Still, there are many who don’t know what to read. Some have not found what they like. Others just can’t decide, so they don’t.

I have a suggestion for them… try everything, but start here:

  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
  • Just the Way You Are by Max Lucado
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
  • The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf

Have a favorite? What are some other books you would suggest?

Character Takes Courage


When I was very young Momma took us to town to run errands. When we returned home she gasped loudly just as we turned into the driveway. There on the front steps of the house was a rattlesnake, coiled and cooling on the smooth cement.

We must have sat in that car just watching it forever, before Momma looked over the seat at us sisters in the back and said, “Stay here. I’m gonna take care of this and then we’ll go in the house.”

Just like that. Then she got out of the car and went into the garage. She came out with a spade and walked boldly toward the snake. I closed my eyes. Tight.

When I opened them the snake was limp over the blade of the spade. Momma nodded to us, letting us know without words that we could get out of the car.

I wanted to be just like Momma when I grew up…

This was a choice of courage on display, an unintended contribution to the building of character in the three young girls watching. This event and others, the moments in life when I decided (I want to…), or pondered (Someone once told me…), or questioned (Have you seen…?) are reflections of impressionable circumstances that have carried my own character forward.

If we courageously choose to continue the display of good character, it has a ripple effect, making a difference in not just one life, but in many. Even a small stone, when thrown into the water, will create a ripple.

This is the purpose of my books, my stories. This, for me, is reason to share. Every good story, no matter how big or small, is the beginning of a ripple. Ripples can carry hope, encouragement, and inspiration. They can share values, lessons, and wisdom. Just a tiny drop of courage to share is all it takes.

Let’s take time to observe and reflect. Let’s challenge each other to continue to share positive, encouraging books and stories. Let’s start a ripple.

Visit the News and Reviews page at www.shellysimoneaustories.com to see specific character lessons for books and stories I share with children and adults of all ages.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— Hebrews 10:24-25