To Have and to Hold

They’ve spent 50 years together

as husband and as wife.

50 years to have and to hold

through every part of life.

50 years of hanging on

in good times and through bad.

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,

through happy times and sad.

50 years of sickness and health

until death shall they part.

50 years of holding these vows,

from this day forward, in their hearts.

Happy 50th Anniversary Blessings to my Parents, Dennis and JoLane Filkin

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. -Genesis 2:24

Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. -Matthew 19:6

 

 

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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.

Married.

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

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A Closer Look at the Book: Grasshopper Bubblegum

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Grandma and Grandpa lived on a dairy farm just a few miles from home. We were fortunate to spend many days on their farm throughout the 70s and early 80s. Playing on the farm was always an adventure. Working on the farm became a delightful chore.

Grandma was creative. With lots of grandkids running around she had to be on top of things. There was plenty to do to keep busy, but Grandma was a genius for encouraging us to be productive in our play. She had many clever incentives to inspire this productivity and keep us out of her hair!

Some of my favorites?

Climbing to the very top of the tree for the best mulberries. Sometimes we even took a sandwich and a jug or canteen of water up with us, just in case we wanted to gather berries through the lunch hour.

Filling buckets with thistle was a thrill. We got to cross the road (by ourselves) and hike out far from the house. We were sure we were even out of Grandma’s perfect sight! Grandma offered a penny per thistle in the bucket upon our return. No matter how long it took, our buckets were always full.

And of course I will never forget the garden chores as described in Grasshopper Bubblegum.  Filling our jar with grasshoppers. Trading grasshoppers for Grandma’s pennies. And walking into town to purchase bubblegum.

I wonder if she knew the true value of her pennies. I wonder if she knew these seeds she had planted would grow crops of wisdom, ingenuity, work ethic, problem solving, cooperation, patience, sharing…

These were her true gifts. They are priceless. And she shared them with me.

If you would like to know more about Grasshopper Bubblegum visit my website http://www.shellysimoneaustories.com

I would love to hear from you! Until then…

Keep up your good work,

Shelly Simoneau

A Closer Look at the Book: Tinker in the Tanker

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Daddy worked a new job in the winter of 1979. After losing his business in a devastating fire (Daddy Was A Carpenter) he and Mother had to take new jobs to make ends meet.

And so began an unexpected journey for our family.

It was adventurous.

It was unfamiliar.

It was hard.

But I thought my parents were heroes. I could see the struggle, yet I knew everything was going to be okay. Why? Because we believed.

Daddy drove a milk truck for Fairmont Creamery in Council Grove, Kansas. As we had done before, Sister and I took turns going to work with Daddy. This story is the memory of my turn.

I had seen my daddy work hard, putting in long hours.

I had seen my daddy finish the job he was responsible to do.

I had seen my daddy’s courage, even through the dark times.

On this trip? It would be my turn.

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If you would like to know more about this book visit http://www.shellysimoneaustories.com

I would love to hear from you! Until then remember…

You can do anything!

Shelly Simoneau

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Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

A Closer Look at the Book: Wash Creek

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Growing up on the farm meant spending a lot of time outdoors. A favorite place to explore and do the work of children was at the creek. Elm Creek runs just an easy walk down the gravel road from the house.

My sisters and I spent time there in every season.

Sometimes we would find the creek bed all dried up. We hunted for fossils and bones and looked for signs of creek life.

Sometimes the water was covered with ice and snow. We dug through the snow with sticks and broke the ice with rocks.

Sometimes the water flowed freely and the sound was so gentle and peaceful. We just stretched out on a big slab of rock and soaked up the sun and the silence.

Occasionally, after heavy rains, the water ran high and fast. I feared the creek on those days, and kept my distance.

Our friends loved the creek too, joining us on our hikes, enjoying the pampering of a picnic, wading in the cool water, and skipping rocks. If the water was low enough we leaped across, back and forth. (We would often return home with a muddy foot or two!)

The name of this special place changed for me after a very memorable father-daughter moment in the late 70s. On that rainy day, Daddy and I stood together in the rising creek. I was scared of the water. But Daddy beckoned me to trust him there. He gave me an opportunity to overcome a fear.

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He reached out and held my hand that day, and all my fear was washed away. In its place came joy and dancing and laughter.

In my heart this old familiar Elm Creek was a new place. I called it Wash Creek.

That day I believed I would be able to accomplish just about anything. Some of those things would be hard and feel dangerous. Some of those things I would not completely understand. But I would not have to be afraid to step out and try. That memorable day I was filled with confidence, joy, and trust.

You can find more information about this book and others on my website www.shellysimoneaustories.com and my page http://www.facebook.com/ShellySimoneauStories. I would love to hear from you!

Joy and Laughter,

Shelly Simoneau

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P.S. Many times over the course of my childhood I recall my parents turning around at the creek. Why? Because the water was not safe to cross. I was able to trust Daddy that day because he had proven his wisdom in his previous actions. Be safe. Turn around. Don’t drown.

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!

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.

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.

 

 

 

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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