Tag Archives: grandparents

“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

 

Kendall-2 Court 021916

“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.


“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.


Notes from the Coke County Pastors’ Conference

Robert Lee-JLS

As I write this column, I’m attending the Biannual Coke County Pastors’ Conference.

“Biannual” is not one of my mother tongue’s brightest children. Wishy-washy, and depending on which authorities you consult, it can mean either “occurring twice a year” or “occurring every two years.” “Semi-annual” and “biennial” already handle “every two years.” I need “biannual” to pay for its keep, quit playing it both ways, fully adopt the best verdict, and mean “occurring twice a year.”

The Coke County Pastors’ Conference occurs twice a year. Biannual.

But if you call Coke County to inquire about the conference, most folks—county, clergy, Chamber of Commerce, and the smartest yard dogs—won’t know anything about it, even though it’s been happening biannually for well nigh 30 years.

That’s probably because the conference leaders, four of them, billed on all advertising as having accumulated collectively 175-200 years of ministry experience, are all my brothers, sons of G. B. and Wilma Shelburne. And we are the full roster of planners, speakers, attendees, and target audience members.

Oh, and I exaggerated a bit about the advertising; honestly, there is none, though we do send each other notices about the upcoming event each time around, including inquiries as to whether any one of us has a pending funeral (we’ve accumulated two since we’ve been here this time), wedding, church meeting, etc. Anything that might affect conference attendance. (And it better be a very good reason!)

The conference is held at the lovely and historic Key Place in Robert Lee, Texas. Well, we think it’s lovely, though our wives would pay good money not to stay here. (They’d likely engage in pernicious behavior, vacuuming and such). But it is certainly historic, our Granddaddy and Grandmother Key’s old home here.

Some sessions are held at the old kitchen table. Same table as a thousand years ago when we were kids except now we’ve got a light fixture on the ceiling above the table, not just old wires holding a socket and bulb with moths and other flying insects in continual orbit.

The best sessions are night meetings around the fire pit in the back “patch.” (“Yard” would be far too pretentious.) On one side is the pecan orchard. One tree is hardly an orchard, but this sole survivor is grandfathered in. On the other side is a densely-brushed creek, surely home to some interesting neighbors we never see.

In the midst of other serious business at the conference, we manage to confer some on, well, pretty much everything.

Granddaddy Key was a wise man. When he planned and built this humble Key Place in 1928 he blessed far more folks than he could imagine.

I wonder. What might the Father of us all have in mind even for this little place when “the heavens and earth” are all made new? And when our Lord says he has gone to prepare a “place” for us, that sounds exciting to me. All God’s family together.

I doubt we’ll need to do much conferring. Just some amazing praising!

 

    You’re invited–yea, verily, encouraged–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.


“Do It Again, PawPaw! Do It Again!”

Gkids-trampoline

“Do it again, PawPaw! Do it again!”

It could have been any of a jillion fun things grandkids and grandparents like to do, but it happened to be a trampoline game we call “Crack the Egg.”

I think there’s a real game with real rules, but we cut straight to the fun. One young little brave giggly person sits cross-legged in the middle of the trampoline, and then one heavier older person (that would be me), stands near the middle of the mat, and . . .

One quick little semi-jump sends the trampoline mat and little person down a bit. Then a more serious jump timed for just the right moment powers the launch. Little person goes giggling up into the air; PawPaw person catches little person in a bear hug on the way down. (The trampoline mat serves as a safety net, but I’ve not missed a little person catch yet.)

Don’t tell the little folks, but I’m beginning to see a couple of problems. First, the little folks are, at an alarming rate, turning into bigger little folks. Second, for a couple of days after the trampoline fun, let’s just say that from my lower back’s perspective, the game is not “Crack the Egg,” it’s “Compress the Vertebrae.” (I’ve had to slow down on “seat drops.”)

But a little pain is worth it if it produces such delightful giggles and that wonderful affirmation: “Do it again, PawPaw!”

Thank the Lord indeed, “delight” and “joy” are drinks from God’s well that will never run dry.

The “delight-full” G. K. Chesterton, in his book Orthodoxy (1908), wrote that it’s because of their “abounding vitality” and spirits that are “fierce and free,” that children will cry, “Do it again!” until the adult under their command almost drops dead.

Why? Because of their backs! No, we’re talking about the kids here, and why they keep pleading, “Do it again!”

Because, Chesterton postulates, the kids are strong in a way that God himself is strong and grown-ups are not. God and children are “strong enough to exult in monotony.” They find genuine joy in delightful repetition, and joy is never boring.

So Chesterton says, “It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.”

All daisies seem pretty much alike to most of us, but the God who makes “every daisy separately,” has “never got tired of making them.”

“It may be,” Chesterton writes, “that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

My kids all say that I’ve grown a lot more childlike since the grandkids have been coming. (They actually said “childish” and something about Dad’s “losing his mind.”) I just think their arrival has made me a lot younger, except for my back.

What a delightful thought: Our Father, the source of all Joy and Delight, is younger than us all. I plan to be among those one eternal day giggling and begging, “Abba, do it again!”

 

      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.


“I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

Robert Lee-JLS

“Place” matters.

When God created humans, he did not fashion us as disembodied spirits; he gave us bodies formed of matter, and a place in which to live. In fact, we do well to remember that Christianity is the only world religion that teaches the resurrection not just of the spirit, but of the body—an amazing “spiritual” body, yes, but a body nonetheless (see 1 Corinthians 15).

Our Creator gives wonderful hints in Scripture not just of a glorious future, but of an amazing place: “new heavens and new earth.”

Perhaps it was author and pastor Eugene Peterson whose words about this first hit home with me. Each one of us is born not just into this world but into a place in this world, a “locating” of ourselves that affects us deeply.

Just the tip of the iceberg is another author’s contention that even politically, folks living in cities and crowded places tend to focus more on law/regulation and folks living in wide open spaces focus more on freedom. “Place” shapes us and our perceptions and values.

Most folks who know me and my extended family very well know that my brothers and I, all four of us pastors, have for many years met twice a year at our maternal grandparents old homeplace. That small town (Hey, small towns, thank the Lord, remain the biggest and best parts of our nation!) and the little house there are precious to us. I promise you, though, most folks with no ties to that place would take one look at the house and drive on down the road to a motel.

For over 20 years, twice a year (over 40 “meetings,”) we’ve gathered at that place, come together for strength, rest, counsel, and fun, to recharge so as to have something to give back in our daily ministries and vocations.

It’s been rather amazing that for four guys, the nature of whose work means being always “on call,” the times when funerals, pastoral needs and crises, etc., have torpedoed the Robert Lee gathering have been fairly rare.

Last week’s Robert Lee gathering was, sadly, an exception. Two of us, the young troublemakers, just couldn’t pull it off this spring. I managed to get over to the old place for a few precious hours one day. Even more than usual, I found myself thinking of the blessing that place with my brothers has been, and of some lessons time has taught.

When I step through that old gate, I’m setting foot onto the place where my Key grandparents lived almost all of their lives. Joys. Sorrows. Times of great happiness. Times of deep and agonizing perplexity. Life. With God’s help, they made it through.

I see still piled by the wire fence around the “patch,” Grandmother’s collection of little rocks with hollows in them to be filled with her little cacti. Her life, and Granddaddy’s life, in this place affect me every day in many ways that I know and more that I do not. The place that molded them still shapes me.

I look back over the “brothers’ gatherings” there. We always bring laughter. We’ve also brought tears. Carefree times. Careworn times. Great times. Difficult times. But all times together. All those times in that place, more than enough to make it for us holy.

I remember Dad being there with us. And I thank his Father and ours for that place.

I’m so thankful we serve a Lord who has promised, “I go to prepare a place for you.”

The perfect place.

 

      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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