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

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A Closer Look at the Book: Daddy Was A Carpenter

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Sometime the middle of the night, at some point in the Spring of 1977, Mother woke us.

She was hurried.

She was serious.

Something was wrong.

I learned about loss that night. I would get to know the feelings of hardship. It would be the first time I had ever seen my daddy cry.

Prior to that night, our family had been enjoying a season of splendor. Days were filled with much laughter. Much joy. Even as a very young child I could see the value of hard work. I witnessed a community, working together, building the Wilsey Lumber Yard strong. It was a time of rejoicing. Of giving thanks.

And then suddenly, in the dark of night, began a season of sorrow. Daddy’s business became a smoldering heap of ash.

This new moment? Confusion. Disbelief. An abrupt introduction to mourning.

These are the devastations we could choose to stash away and forget.

Forget the tears.

Forget the loss.

Forget the ashes.

But what if we choose to remember? What if we choose to share the disappointments that make us cry? What if we choose to share those memories that we would rather forget?

That moment, the memory, becomes truly significant.

And we can be changed.

And those ashes? They can become a song of hope. Yes. In their own way, they can become beautiful.

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

I would love to hear from you. Until then…

Always Hope,

Shelly Simoneau

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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!

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

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?

Plum Crazy

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It’s canning season again, my very favorite time of year. I love everything about it.  I love the harvest, the preparation, the processing, and the filling of the pantry shelves. I love the taste of freshness, the smell of goodness, and the popping sound the lids make when they are officially “sealed”. I love the anticipation. I love the exhaustion. I love the satisfaction.  Yes!

 

Where does this love come from? Why do I enjoy ridiculous hours spent picking, seeding, cooking, filling, sealing, and putting up? Why do I welcome steam burns and broken nails and earth stained hands?

 

I must be plum crazy, or maybe pear crazy, or apple crazy, or zucchini crazy!

 

Whatever kind of crazy, it comes from somewhere. My mother was crazy too, and my grandmother, and…

 

This is the type of crazy that is carried through time by tradition.  This crazy joyful knowledge is passed on through the seasons. Tradition stretches. It expands from the wild plum thickets near the childhood farm to the backyard plum tree near the capital city.

 

This is an art form, handed down. It is a skill, passed along. It is a gift, shared. It is a love, continued.

 

I have observed. I have helped. I have been trained. I have been given the gift of experience. I have been released.

 

And now, I long to pick plums from the tree.

 

How about you? What traditions are you plum crazy about?

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