Tag Archives: grandchildren

“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.

“Come Quick, PawPaw! It’s an Emergency!”


“Come quick, PawPaw! Come quick!” came the plea from the back door. As I recall, it was one of the times that week when the sweet almost-six-year-old voice intoned again, “It’s an emergency!”

Well, come I did. Out into the back yard, pulled by Brenley straight to the pool.

“The pool” is a plastic “blow-up” wading pool, maybe a foot deep. I admit we’d drowned the “fill point” line marked on it by the same folks who scribbled lawyer-litter on the hose we used to fill said pool, sternly warning me not to put the hose in my mouth and turn the faucet on.

Back to the emergency.

Bodies were floating in the pool. It didn’t take CSI Muleshoe to identify them. Bug bodies. Brenley had already done the initial investigation. As I made my way to the microcosmic ocean, she reported, “Five, PawPaw!”

There they lay. Or floated. In a kind of bug-eyed insect rigor mortis. Past all human help and grotesquely out of place in that decadent resort pool surrounded by lush palm trees, white-clad waiters, and paparazzi hoping to cadge photos of the rich and famous.

Okay, for real. Plastic pool. Elm trees. No waiters or paparazzi, just a little brindle-colored dog hoping to stay out of the line of fire of anything wet. No CSI techs.
But the bodies were there, and out of place. It was July, and they were still recognizable as June bugs, grub worm kamikazes issued wings, buzzed up, launched way short of flight training. They’d ditched at sea. And why not? All June bugs do is mindlessly crash, hazards to prudent navigation. These had paid the ultimate price.

Bren was obviously not comfortable with burying them at sea. A quick bucket dip-out, an over-the-shoulder fling-out, and . . .

I wish all the emergencies my grandkids will experience were so easily handled. The little folks are growing too fast, and the thought of a time when spending time with PawPaw and MawMaw in the back yard, all smiles and giggles because they’ve found a cool rock with a hole in it, or one that glitters, made stew by stirring leaves and water and dirt in a colored bucket with a stick, and shared stories and held royal court in the magic castle shed—well, the thought of a day when those delights fade breaks my heart. Right now, the little people know what’s really important. They know who really loves them, and the amount they care about what anybody else thinks is about the right amount: not much at all.

Grownups are incredibly dreary and short-sighted, and I can’t imagine these amazing folks with imaginations gone dull and dormant. I pray they never lose the seeds of what is in full flower in them right now. I suppose the flowers must fade some with the years, but one day these folks I adore will be old enough that the seeds will sprout again, probably watered by their own grandchildren. And they’ll be young again together.

No wonder our Creator delighted in spending time with children. I love that about him. However he arranges it will be fine, but I hope to spend an eternity doing that same thing myself where bugs aren’t any kind of emergency, and genuine joy—and giggles aplenty—are the King’s orders for the eternal day.


          You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! (It’s been updated recently.)

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.

The Best Father of All Is the Father of All

Shelburne Portrait-small

Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’ve found myself thinking of Dad more than usual. That’s saying something because I already think of him every day.

My father was the finest man I’ve ever known, and being his son is undoubtedly the second finest blessing of my life, which has been filled with blessing.

The most noteworthy thing about our best blessings is this: They are undeserved. They are gifts of God’s grace.

Of the many conclusions that can be drawn from this grace-truth, two are obvious.

1) What did I do to be born my father’s son? Not a thing.  So . . .

2) Why should I ever allow myself to be even remotely prideful about being his son? Refer to #1.

I have never drawn a breath of this world’s air at a moment when I had to wonder if my father loved me with all of his heart. I wonder what life on this globe would be like if all sons, all daughters, could, with deep gratitude, say the same thing? It would be infinitely better! It would almost be heaven.

If, like so many, you didn’t have that blessing, I’m sorry. Neither you nor I can change that now. But we can do two things that will make a world of wonderful difference, change both the present and the future, and have beautiful and eternal consequences.

First, whatever relationship we fathers have had with our own dads, we can be very sure that our sons and daughters (and grandsons and granddaughters), of whatever age, know we love them deeply.

I know that’s not always as easy as it sounds. The fathers we had are, well, the fathers we had. For good or ill, in ways that are delightful or daunting and depressing, and maybe all of those things at once, we fathers tend to be fathers like our own fathers were fathers. No surprise.

But a second truth can change everything. Refer to the second paragraph of this column. Being the son of the finest man I’ve ever known is, I’m sure, the second finest blessing of my life. But the best blessing of my life is one that you and I share: We are the children of the finest Father of all.

That means each of us has a Father who loves us completely and whose love we can share with our children and their children.

As children of our Father who is love, we are loved. Always.

As children of the best Father of all, we are accepted. Always.

The wounds so many people bear because of deeply flawed fathers find healing through the best Father’s sacrificial love and the wounds his Son willingly bore on a cross so that through faith we could truly be children of our Father.

By the way, once we realize that we’ve already got a perfect Father, it’s probably good to realize that earthly fathers can be far from perfect and still be amazingly fine gifts from the Father of us all. I’ve known some dads who I thought should be horse-whipped. I’ve known more who could use a little slack. It’s cheaper than a tie but better even if it’s harder to give.


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


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.


“Mom Knew That Love’s Growing Season Is Forever”

planting 01

Mother’s Day is just a few days away, but my memories of my mother don’t need any calendar or greeting card company’s prompting.

Memories rushed in yesterday with particular power because I was doing something Mom would have dearly loved, something she taught me to do, with someone she never met but who she would love with incredible love, someone I can hardly wait for her to meet.

I was planting flowers with our little five-year-old granddaughter Brenley.

We were taking a chance. I know this. To plant anything in our country before Mother’s Day is to walk on the wild side and live dangerously.

But plant we did. Out in the back yard. We dug down into the soil of two whiskey barrel planters, set in our plants, and watered them with water from our rain barrels.

We were standing there, our hands covered with mud, Bren holding the “loppers” as I showed her where to separate our “cuttings.” And we had time to talk.

That’s one of the best things about planting stuff together. You’re working for a common goal, looking forward to what God will do to make the world and your little corner of it more beautiful, and you get to talk while you’re doing it. We dull grownups need to spend all the time we can talking with little people. They know what’s really important.

And that’s when it hit me: “Bren, your MawMaw Shelburne, my mom, would have loved this! She loved to plant things and watch them grow, and she’d REALLY have loved doing this with you!”

Memories flooded in, countless times in my childhood when Mom would take my brother and me out to the back yard, and we’d dig, and plant, and water—and talk. Mom was Rembrandt and her yard was her canvas. I think the only things she loved more than her growing plants were her growing kids and grandkids. So she just grew them all together.

A lot of what Mom knew about growing things, she learned from her parents.  Grandmother Key was always on the lookout for rocks with hollows in them, perfect planters for her little cacti. For larger planting projects, the instrument of choice, both for Mom and Granddaddy Key was a grubbing hoe. I remember setting the plants out and then “grubbing” little dams around them to hold the water in. I remember playing with plastic Army men around those dams, earthen barricades prone to frequent flooding. Drowning was far more a danger to my troops than any enemy action.

Granddaddy was much more rancher than farmer, but he certainly knew how to grow things. And I’m not sure who loved those rare and precious collaborative gardening times more, the father or the daughter. One thing was clear: they loved the time together.

Mom knew that Paradise was a garden, a place to grow love. And love grows forever.


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


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.


Too Old? Only If Your Imagination Has Withered



I turned 57 the other day. No big deal, even though 57 is widely recognized as a serious milestone.

I’m sure if you “Google” it, you’ll find all sorts of articles and blogs where “Baby Boomer” folks like me wax philosophic about the big 57. My generation has always been gifted when it comes to navel-gazing about things that don’t matter.

Truth be told, I seemed to skid right on past the big event with barely a bump in the road. That may have been because my math skills are nonexistent. I spent a good bit of last year sitting on the fence between 56 and 57, literally and figuratively. I was fairly confident that I was one or the other.

But just to set my mind at ease and to stay razor sharp mentally, from the top of the fence I stopped a couple or three times to do a little math (the only kind I ever do). Since I suspected that I was already 57, it was nice to discover that I was younger than I thought.

Yes, I did that several times. You’re right, of course. I should have just written it down—scrawled “56” in big letters on a Post It note and then stuck the sticky in the stacked up “leaning tower” stack of those notes I collect to keep me right on top of important events.

It’s a pleasure to dig down through that sticky pile just often enough to get to throw away the half of the notes connected to monumental events that have already happened that I can now forget about. And it’s gratifying to know that I’ve saved time and been ahead of the game by forgetting about them already, long before a less gifted forgetter could have been expected to forget about them. A guy who can’t remember if he is 56 or 57 is world-class talented in the “forgetting” category.

I guess I also forgot to be alarmed by the fact that I kept forgetting the result of my math. I’ve been too busy living life and aging to worry much about aging.

But two things—make that three—cause me a little anxiety.

First, I’ve lived long enough to see styles returning that I thought had mercifully expired at the end of the seventies. Once around was more than enough, thank you. (I’m immensely thankful that our styles weren’t tattooed on.)

Second, I’m hoping that maybe a shaky season or two during my forties will count as a “mid-life” crisis. It’s not only too late to go through one now—I can’t spare the time—the math worries me. If I had one now, at 57, would “mid-life” indicate that I’d have to hang around until I’m 114? I’ve got far better things to do and a much better place to be.

Third, though there is no doubt at all that the best thing about being 57 is getting to jump into a second childhood with your grandchildren, those little grandfolks are starting to grow too tall. I’m afraid my heart will break if the magic fairy princess castle out in our back yard ever turns back into just a shed.

What’s “too old”? It’s when your imagination withers and your heart starts to calcify. No wonder the Eternal One hugged children and said that the way to be saved is to be like them. At any age.


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

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.

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