Tag Archives: Family

“My Kingdom for a Real Recipe!”

“My kingdom for a real recipe!” I finally boiled over.

I’d Googled it, YouTubed it, searched it, researched it, boggled my mind about it—a process I’ve often used with moderate success.

Give me a good Wikipedia article, a few good hits from Google, a nicely done YouTube video, and I’d be tempted to try anything from building a jet-powered go-cart to performing a “simple” appendectomy.

Using this procedure, I’ve more or less successfully done all sorts of household fix-it jobs plus some fun stuff. I’ve concocted beeswax furniture polish (beeswax, turpentine, carnauba wax, and a homemade Bunsen burner), made a few Celtic flutes with PVC pipe, fashioned some simple tools to help “whip” some tree swing ropes in sailmaker’s style, and learned how to French braid my granddaughters’ hair. I even built a snow-making machine by attaching plumbing fittings to a water hose, an air compressor, and freezing my toes off outside at 28 degrees in a blizzard. My wife blew a fuse over that last adventure when my machine blew more sand back into our washing machine than it blew snow out into the atmosphere.

Last Saturday, it was back to the lab. A grandkid adventure weekend at the house is on the horizon, so I was looking for the perfect recipe for . . . slime!

Slime’s a big deal right now for kids and thus for grandparents. I found myself imagining how much fun my younger brother and I could’ve had if, back when we were furthering our education by conducting experiments in the family garage, slime had been available. Back then kids could get really cool stuff in chemistry sets which could be supplemented nicely by a trip to the local pharmacy. If slime research had been as far along as it is now, well, I’m pretty sure Jim and I could’ve chemically engineered some slime with gratifying pyrotechnic properties.

Honestly, I’m more careful now. It’d suit me fine if my grandkids didn’t play with fireworks. But I do want for them the best slime available. Unfortunately, I hit a snag.

Various lists of ingredients are easily found, along with scary Internet warnings about some ingredients (which I’m not too worried about but won’t use). Watching videos, you’ll see the ingredients as they’re dumped into a bowl: slime! But I wanted a good old-fashioned slime recipe listing tablespoons, cups, numbers of squirts, etc. Lacking such, my goo misfired until I found a real recipe complete with amounts. It works!

To a couple of slime connoisseur grandkids, I sent a pic of myself with some gratifyingly gooey purple slime dripping from my face and beard. Fine. Except that a pretty serious 5:00 purple beard shadow remained after the slime slid off. And, yes, it was Saturday. Research shows that preachers who look like purple smurfs on Sundays do hold folks’ attention, but it’s not the kind of attention most pastors want. To my relief, I found some soap that also worked.

One of the best recipes you’ll ever find is God’s, given in 1 Corinthians 13:13. It simply includes large amounts of faith, hope, and love, with a heaping load of the latter.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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An Old Picture Inspires Some Timely Thoughts

 

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C.S. Lewis writes that the very fact that time itself seems so strange and surprising to us is proof that we were not originally created to live in it as our natural habitat. Presumably, fish don’t feel wet in water, but we fight with time continually.

Within just a few days I’ve officiated at the funeral of a dear friend, helped bear the caskets of my uncle and his dear wife to the open graves in the family cemetery I’ll be mentioning, and held in my arms my newest granddaughter, Ella Vernell Shelburne. Time seems to stand still as I gaze into that beautiful face. I could hold her forever. But standing still is exactly what time never really does here.

My oldest brother once scanned and shared some great family photos he’d borrowed from our Uncle David (who I just mentioned). My favorite is a wonderful picture of my maternal grandfather, Granddaddy Key,  who died back in 1975.

I never remember Granddaddy as having anything but a full head of the thick, cottony white hair. But in this old picture, my dark-headed grandfather is wearing a big cowboy hat and is dressed in a white shirt with a vest and ribbon tie. Maybe 12 years old, he sits beside his two daintily-dressed and lady-like young sisters who are wearing lacy white dresses complete with white bows and white ribbons in their hair. The three siblings are perched on a small dock jutting out into a little pond. Aunt Vida and Aunt Grace, looking pretty and pristine, each have an arm gently extended and are gazing down at the little white ducks feasting on the bread crumbs my great-aunts are dropping.

Granddaddy is looking calmly down into the water, and he’s feeding the pond populace, too, but with a different goal. He’s holding a cane pole with line and hook attached, and he’s waiting for the tug that will mean the end of the worm on the hook below.

In the distance, sitting cross-legged, relaxing and lost in thought, gazing across the pond from the other bank, is my great-grandfather Alf Key who was born in the same week Abraham Lincoln died. Alf has a big hat, too, and, if you already know to look for it, you can just maybe make out the tips of his big wide moustache.

I can’t see the eyes of any of them. They’re all looking calmly down or across the pond, just feeding the ducks, or the fish, or just thinking.

But they make me think.

Real people, their blood runs in my veins and in Ella’s. Three of them were, in that picture, far younger than I am now. All have long since gone on, their bodies at rest in the little country cemetery that sits just across a mesquite-filled pasture from the old windmill and the ruins of the old house where my mother was born. All of this, along with the tombstones, are quiet reminders that, as colleague Bert Mercer reminds me, “once there lived here a race of people a little lower than the angels.”

The human race. And in that old photo a little group of my ancestors eking out a living when life was truly hard, just taking some time to relax. To sit. To think. I never entered their mind. But they certainly have entered mine.

So much has changed, but what is truly important is exactly the same. You and I will pass on the values, the faith, the love that is the real legacy we are building today for generations yet unborn. Sooner than we think.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


In Court with “Lions and Tigers and Bears” and a Promised Forever

 

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“I’m all in, Kendall Briley.”

Even when I said it, I was sure she already knew. She’s had my heart since I first held her and was privileged to take her sweet big sister to the hospital to meet her just hours after her birth.

Just six months old, she’s captured the hearts of her little family, and her larger family complete with doting grandparents, giggling cousins, and more, from the very first. But Friday, after we’d made the trip to the district court in Fort Worth to have the judge make the adoption official, seemed like a good time to tell her again.

I’ve been to some other courtrooms, of course. Thus far, none that I was dragged into. But no matter why you’re there, they’re pretty serious places. Impressive old stately buildings. Lots of stairs. Dark wood. Rails. Sombre benches. Bailiffs. Black-robed judges. Gavels pounding out life-changing verdicts and decrees.

And then there’s this. I’m an English major. I think that’s good for the soul; it has been for mine. But most English majors realize at some point that one of the only ways the major could ever be remotely lucrative (for whatever that’s really worth) is if it launches you into post-graduate studies and a career in law. Since I’ve never been interested in anything lucrative, I opted as a post-graduate for more English. Couple that with a “career” in ministry and, there you have it. But sometimes I wonder . . .

For lots of reasons, courtrooms fascinate me, even as they tend to be pretty grave, serious, daunting places. They’re also places outside of which people do a lot of waiting. So on Friday we were inside a courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, waiting outside a courtroom.

Even the waiting was unusual that day. We cooled our heels with about nine other extended families, each gathered with and focused on some wee mostly six-month-old folks dressed in their best, cutest little outfits, being addressed in wide-smiled baby talk in turn by each of the adoring members of their court entourage.

I’d been enjoying pacing around with our own little princess in my arms when I snuck a look into “our” particular courtroom and saw, of all things, a bailiff placing thirty or forty stuffed animals on the wooden rails at the front. Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!—all around the judge’s bench! (Mostly bears.)

Ninth in line, we watched eight other families called up to the front as the parents “testified” by answering the same questions. The word “forever” came up a lot. Verbal assents by the parents. Smiles. Some tears. Then the judge held each baby surrounded by the families and smiles and love and sweet tears. Lots of pictures. But the best will always be in my memory.

I don’t know how much you’ll remember about that day, little Kendall. But we’ll tell you about it many, many times, I’m sure. God has known who you are forever and always loved you. Now the court has pronounced, “This is your name.”

And may I say once more for your folks, for your family, for your family in Christ, and all who love you, “We’re all in, girl. Forever.”

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

  

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Christians Can Celebrate Christmas with Deep and Genuine Joy

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I hope Christmas is a wonderful, “wonder-filled,” time for you. If our hearts are prepared and ready for it, it can be. Hence (and this is fodder for another column), the very good sense of having a time of real preparation before Christmas. (Look up “Advent” if the word jingles no bells.)

I know. A lot about the way our society “celebrates” Christmas is nothing to celebrate. In fact, as Andrew Greeley writes, some aspects of the sometimes-not-so-holy “holy-day” might make us tempted to run from the whole thing: “It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmastime. Then we would have a holy Christmas.”

He warns, though: “But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Christ do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas. . . . And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush.”

By George, I think he’s got it!

C. S. Lewis wrote similarly, observing that a small child cannot really separate “the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter.” Lewis appreciated both the poetry and the piety of the little boy reported to have gone about on Easter morning muttering a poem he’d made up about “chocolate eggs and Jesus risen.”

“Of course,” Lewis writes, “the time will come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity.” One day, Lewis says, the child will realize that the spiritual aspects of Easter are different from the festive aspects, and he will have to put one or the other aspect first and choose what is most important. We all get to that point. Do we major on egg-hunting or on the Resurrection? Or, for us at Christmastide, do we major on Santa Claus or on God in the flesh at Bethlehem?

In making the choice, people tend to make two mistakes.

One serious mistake is to choose rightly to major on the real reason for the season but to decide that necessitates also adopting a dour pseudo-piety that says, “Out with lights and Christmas trees and all the other festive trappings of the holiday. Humbug!”

But the other mistake is even worse—to refuse to celebrate such days as religious holidays at all and focus only on egg hunts and Rudolph.

As Lewis writes, “If the child puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They will have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.”

Christians who know the real meaning of the holy days should celebrate everything that is good about them with more joy than other people and not less. If we truly love Christ more than Christmas, then we’re free to love Christmas with a freedom and genuine joy we could never have otherwise. God is so good!

It’s nonsense to thank Santa for God. It may be very good sense indeed to thank God for Santa!

 

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“He Was Gathered to His People, Old and Full of Years”

 

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What my wife had in mind, a long time ago now, was simply to collect and display some old family photographs. Specifically, she wanted me to scan an old photograph of my maternal grandparents, a little picture that has long sat on a shelf in my study at the church. So I did.

I knew I’d had that little framed photo for a very long time, but I’d forgotten just how long. When I carefully pulled it out of its frame to place it on the scanner, I noticed the handwritten inscription on the back of the picture. I recognized the distinctive hand immediately. It was Grandmother Key’s writing, for sure.

“To Curtis Kline, 1965. Granddaddy and Grandmother Key.”

One look at that script launched me on a trip down Memory Lane. I remembered my little grandmother’s gentle but raspy voice and how she always called me “Curtis Kline.”

You know how names work. They morph a bit. To a couple of brothers and a few friends, I’m “Curt.” To some of my larger family, I’m “C. K.” And I come to “Curtis” just fine.

But to Grandmother Key, I was always “Curtis Kline.” And, as I saw that fountain-penned script, I could almost hear Grandmother saying to my mother, “This is for Curtis Kline for Christmas, and here’s one for Jimmy.”

You see, I’m pretty sure my younger brother Jim got one, too. And I’m sure his would be inscribed to “Jimmy.”

Looking closely at that picture, I was also struck by the fact that, though I’ve always looked something like Granddaddy Key, the resemblance is definitely increasing. The mouth. The eyes. Well, the whole face.

And, yes, increasingly, the white hair! I never knew his hair to be any other color. He had all of his hair, thick and full, but he ran out of pigment early. For as long as I remember, Granddaddy’s hair was snowy white cotton.

Granddaddy ranched and trucked all of his life. He died in 1975. Six years later, in 1981, Grandmother followed. But Grandmother and Granddaddy don’t seem that long gone. They’re still a big part of who I am every day.

I’ve always sort of liked the way the writers of some books of the Old Testament, after they’ve told the story of someone’s life, will say something like this: “And he was gathered to his people.” Sometimes they add this further description: “old and full of years.”

I don’t think I’m all that old yet. I will admit that claiming to be “middle-aged” is becoming a little tougher than it once was. I’m 58 now. It could be the middle, I suppose, but I very much doubt I’ll make it to 116. At least, with all of my heart, I hope not. Enough really is enough, and I’m looking forward to something much better.

I’ll admit it! I’m in the process of filling up with years, but I don’t think I’m quite full just yet.

But, you know, being “gathered to my people,” in God’s good time, strikes me as not at all a bad thing.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Happy 100th Birthday to an Amazing Mom!

 

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On August 15, 2015, Wilma Jean (Key) Shelburne, my mother, would have been 100 years old.

Now this gets dangerous. As an English major, I’m delving into what for me is higher math. But Mom passed away in 1992, over 23 years ago. Amazing that it’s been that long! She was 77.

The grandson born on her birthday, my son, just turned 32 on their birthday. He was 7 when Mom passed away. If some of my math won’t fly, I’ll not be surprised, but time surely does. And, no surprise, I still miss my amazing mom.

I suppose that in one way or another most of us “play to our mothers” all of our lives. Whenever cameras pan across cheering crowds, the signs folks hold and the words they mouth are, more often than not, “Hi, Mom!”

It’s no accident, on a much more poignant note, that many survivors of bloody battles tell of hearing the wounded and dying lying between the battle lines in “No Man’s Land” crying out for their mothers.

Anything we do, whatever we accomplish, no matter how sweet the success, is for most of us sweeter when we know our moms know about it. Moms are, after all, our biggest fans. They are the leaders of our cheering sections, the un-elected but unimpeachable presidents of our fan clubs.

I’m no exception. In a couple of weeks, my third recorded album, a music CD entitled “For Sentimental Reasons” will be in my hands, and I’m pleased and thankful about that. (I hope some other folks want it in their hands, too!) But it would be an even sweeter experience for even more “sentimental reasons” if I could play the record for Mom. She’d like it. A lot.

Mom was, to borrow author Joyce Landorf Heatherley’s term, one of my very top tier “balcony people.” Always encouraging, supporting, cheering, inspiring, motivating. Always loving.

I know she loved the rest of her kids, too. Fiercely. But let’s be honest here. My surviving siblings just need to face the fact that Mom & Dad’s first three kids were basically a practice group, and that when, seventeen years after the birth of the third, #5 came along, it was clear that he was brought on board primarily just to be a companion and playmate for #4 who was, may I humbly say, sort of the culmination, sweet spot, and focal point of the whole process. Even if I did show up as a “Now, dear husband, don’t forget to breathe when I tell you this” surprise.

My little mama was amazing. Smart. Spunky. Faith-filled. Articulate and great with words. She laughed easily when the time was right, which was often. Sometimes she laughed when the time wasn’t “right” but some wise and wry soul needed to laugh to clear the air of nonsense. She was the defender of the underdog and the scourge of the sanctimonious. She taught us not just to know the Bible but to know the Savior.

I don’t know what other amazing blessings God bestowed on August 15 way back in 1915. But the one I know about was enough to make it a really, really fine day.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!  By the way, click “Play” on the bottom of the Home Page for a song sample from the new album! 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Ready or Not, Here Come the Holidays

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A fine old gentleman and member of the first church I served “solo” was pushing 80 years old pretty hard when he pointed his amazing mane of thick white hair my direction and intoned, “Curtis, at this point in my life, it seems like Christmases roll around about once a week.” With my own head of mostly gray hair turning snowy, I’m beginning to see what he meant.

For a four-year-old, waiting a fourth of his life for Santa’s sleigh to slide back seems like waiting for an eternity. For older folks, well, let’s just say it’s getting a lot easier for me to imagine that for an 80-year-old the holidays seem to fly by like telephone poles past a car window.

But I still look forward to them, and, not least, their food!

I rarely get tired of turkey, and I almost never get tired of dressing loaded up with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce. (I love my wife’s family, but you have to watch those folks. A day or two after Thanksgiving, they get tired of turkey you can chew. Somebody cranks up the food processor, and what’s left of the turkey-bird becomes “salad” which, mercifully, no turkey would recognize as kin. I like turkey better before it hits the fan.)

And Christmas foods? Ah, what’s not to like? I cooked for most of the holiday one year and made a Christmas meal I think Charles Dickens would have approved of complete with a stuffed goose, a plum pudding, and loads of trimmings. (Cheesecake, too. That doesn’t figure much into a Dickens Christmas, but it always figures into mine.) Chase dinner with a good hot cup of Earl Grey tea or dark coffee, a nice fire, a comfortable chair, a great old movie or a better old book, and, well, I love it!

It’s great to be with family again for a few days—even if your family has grown, the house hasn’t, and you’re stacked like firewood. And speaking of wood, most family trees have a few nuts, but even us nuts like to be with folks from the same tree for a bit.

I’m partial to the occasions when most folks come healthy and you have a fair chance of making it through the long weekend without the uncommonly prevalent common cold or a 24-hour stomach virus (that you’d swear lasts for a month) exploding through the family like a four-alarm fire at a fireworks factory. Having tried that, I can testify that “healthy” is more fun.

Our family clusters over jigsaw puzzles (nothing less than 1000 pieces, thanks) and games. I like word games. When I was growing up my family of English majors played Scrabble as blood sport. Little kids (and PawPaws) romp and wrestle and drive the parents crazy. Little kids (and PawPaws) make up their own games since they get bored trying to sit through entire TV football games.

I’m thankful for families, for food, for fun, and for the Giver of all good gifts who has so graciously given these. Yes, the holidays seem to be rolling around more quickly than ever, but I’m glad they still come.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! While I don’t wish to rush the turkey in the least, you’ll find a free download there of one of my favorite Christmas songs. Just go to the “Store” and my album “One Christmas Night.” The free song is “Mary Sweet Mary.”

 

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


Some Father’s Day Reflections on Fathers

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Well, here comes Father’s Day. Honestly, I don’t much need a calendar, a card company, and a proclamation or a few for me to wax reflective about fathers and fatherhood.

I’m a fellow who thinks that perhaps the most poignant verse in all of Scripture is the heart-rending cry of the great king who was also a father and would have cast aside a thousand crowns to save his son: “O Absalom! My son, my son!”

For that matter, I’ll even admit to leaking a quiet tear or two toward the end of more than a few episodes of my favorite TV show Blue Bloods. Why? Because this “police show” actually centers on family, is bold enough to portray a family’s Christian faith respectfully, and, most of all, focuses on a father’s relationship with his kids. That’ll get me every time. Besides that, Tom Selleck and I are obviously peas in a pod.

The special day for fathers is fine, but I rarely take a breath on any day without realizing that way up high on the short list of the best blessings the Father put into my life is my father. That I would be the son of the finest man I have ever known is a gift of pure grace. I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t, and don’t, and couldn’t, deserve it in the least.

If you’ve had that same kind of blessing, and I hope you have, then you know the proper response for that kind of father is humility and eternal gratitude to the Father of us all. You had a giant step forward from the moment of your birth in experiencing and learning about the love of your heavenly Father. No small blessing, that.

But I hope you know that you DO have the best Father of all, no matter the quality of your earthly one. And, if you’re part of Christ’s Body, the church, the blessing is multiplied as he has promised “fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters” far beyond our merely human allotment! What an amazing family! All because of our amazing Father.

Fathers, and all of us, hear a lot these days about teaching kids to believe in themselves. I know what folks mean, and, yes, low self-esteem can cause a wad of problems. But I wonder if we’re not coming at this, as usual, from the wrong way around.

G. K. Chesterton was right when he said that if you want to find someone who completely and absolutely believes in himself, all you have to do is find the craziest inmate in the asylum. Truly sane people believe in Someone much bigger than themselves.

My father took care of my “self-esteem” issues by getting the focus right himself. It would never have occurred to Dad to waste time navel-gazing, agonizing about whether or not he believed in himself. My father was far too busy helping his family, and many others, believe in the Father of us all, the One who absolutely loves, values, and counts each child as precious. “Self” esteem is pretty thin stuff compared to knowing for sure that your Father esteems and delights in you.

 

  You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“I See God’s Light in This Family Every Day”

I learned long ago to be careful about recommending movies or television shows to anyone. Either they’ll hate the show and wonder about you, or they’ll love the show and tell other people you recommended it. Then, chances are, a good many of those people will wonder about both of you. But I’ll take the chance.

I really like the “Blue Bloods” television series. I like it even though it punches my buttons so seriously that more than once I’ve found myself misty-eyed at the end of the show. (I’m not embarrassed about that, but it’s not a reaction I go looking for when I turn on the tube.)

The show features Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan, the police commissioner of New York City. Selleck is a bit like Sean Connery: he just gets better with age. Probably I also like him because of the obvious resemblance between us. (Yeah. Two legs. Two arms.)

I like the action of the series. I like a good “police show.” I like the cast in general. But most of all, I can sum up what I like in two words. Family and faith.

The Reagans in the series are from a long line of Irish-Catholic New York City police officers. Selleck plays Frank Reagan, the present police commissioner. His wife has died. One of his sons was a young police officer killed by crooked cops. His two surviving sons are police officers, one of them married with two young sons. His daughter is a deputy district attorney, divorced with a teenage daughter. His father, the patriarch of the family, retired as police commissioner himself.

Each week the Reagans have “family dinner” where everyone from Grandpa Henry to the youngest grandchild has a chair and a voice. They laugh together, cry together, support each other, challenge each other, love each other, and share life together. And I like that. A lot.

In a recent episode, Frank, usually the strong and loving father, has confessed to his own father the deep (survivor’s) guilt he feels. Frank and a fellow chief and friend were in the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the South Tower came down, and his friend is dying, years later, because of what he inhaled that day.

Henry listens and then says, “Son, I don’t know why Chief McKenna got sick from the air down there and you didn’t. Just like I don’t know why He [God] took Mary and Joe from us too soon, but I see God’s light in this family every day. And though I may not understand it, I trust in His plan for us all.”

I never care for “God took” words at times of grief, but it surely seems to me there is much to like in Grandpa’s wisdom, words you’re not likely to hear much on television these days.

I like what he says. I understand it better than I once did. And it’s no small blessing if you and your family can say the same thing.

 

Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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