Thursday, February 24, 2022

Guest Author, Angela D Shelton


Oh, you’ve gotta love them doggies! Thank you, Angela for sharing with us.


Covered in Mud

By Angela D Shelton


We love our furry children. Ricky and Lucy are always up to something. One of my favorite “bad dog” stories is when we’d first purchased the farm and were out working on fences. We brought the dogs with us, but since they are both runners, they had to be contained. It was too hot to leave them in the truck while we worked, so we set up a dog run between two trees.

            Each of them had their own lead, so they could freely run about eighty feet, in the shade of the trees, or out in the sun to bask if they preferred. They often played together, so there was also the ability for them to be together or move apart. They had plenty of room to entertain themselves while we slaved away in the scorching sun, repairing wires and clearing the fence lines.

            After the workday ended, we checked back on the two hooligans under the trees. I honestly expected to see them taking a nap. Yes, I was na├»ve then. I know better now.

            As soon as they saw us coming, they ran to the front of the trees from where they’d been busy working, covered in mud. Apparently, their job for the day was to dig a tunnel to China, or so they thought. They were so excited they weren’t even ashamed of the fact that they were filthy with red Georgia clay. Stains covered their paws, snouts, bellies, and tails.

            The hole was deep, so it was obvious they’d teamed up and devoted their day to accomplish the goal. You should have seen their faces, huge doggie smiles, happy with all they’d accomplished.

            Unfortunately, we didn’t need a gigantic hole dug under our tree. We also didn’t want filthy pets to bring into our vehicle or our clean home. They didn’t get rewarded for their efforts. What a disappointment to them, I’m sure.

            It made me think back to some of my previous work efforts. I’d work for hours at a project and couldn’t wait to share how much I’d accomplished. I’d have a grin a mile wide on my face, ready to have praise heaped upon me.

            How frustrating when I’d find out the project wasn’t what someone needed, or the method used was flawed, or any of a zillion other reasons that I don’t get positive feedback. As a younger professional, I’ll admit I didn’t handle this type of rejection well.

Most of us go through a growing phase of learning how to deal with constructive criticism. As you mature, you learn to take in those minor blows to the ego and grow from them. Some who’ve been around long enough can take it one level above that—how to learn from criticism that isn’t constructive.

Let me share a life lesson with you, my precious reader. If you want to move in a positive direction in life, you need to learn how to deal with your mistakes positively. Not all people, even those who end up in authority, can provide feedback in a way that builds up instead of tearing down. Accept the concepts they are sharing and evaluate whether there is a basis for improvement. Use any nuggets you can find to improve your end product.

Never stop growing. As soon as you do, you’re dead in the water. And that isn’t where any of us want to be.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV


My upcoming novel, Collapse: The Death of Friendship is on presale with Amazon with a release date of March 25th. It’s the perfect gift for the young adult in your life. A brief synopsis:

On the verge of losing friendships forever, sixteen-year-old Jan Worthington decides never to trust people again. But when she rejects all strangers in a collapsing society, she must learn to be smart about outsiders before her family has to fight off the marauders headed their way.


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Collapse: The Death of Honor on Amazon Now

Friday, February 18, 2022

Sweet Memories, Funny and Sad

November 30, 1998: Sarah walked away from the table one morning, after hearing the cat meow. "I need to see if she's in trouble or just talking."


Sarah was talking about a story with a greedy pig in it. She said they made that pig wait to eat until the other pigs got “their fillings.”


December 7, 1998: Rebecca was seeing her doctor today. "How much do you weigh, Rebecca?" "I don't know... Yesterday, I weighed 51 pounds."


Murray got a haircut the other day. When he came home, Ping-Hwei came to me and said, "Why Baba cut hair?" “Did he?” I asked. "Yeah. Maybe bald," he told me.


December 15, 1998: Murray called for Kathy, and Caleb answered the phone.  "Hi. Is Momma there?" Caleb answered, "Yes, she is, but I want to talk to you for a minute," and proceeded to tell Murray about his day.


December 16, 1998: Rebecca is accompanying Kathy on the piano for a Christmas special at church this Sunday. It's hard and Rebecca's never been enthusiastic about it. Yesterday she said, "I'm still planning to get out of doing this."


This morning I told the kids that some friends had bought some Gideon's Bibles, maybe to put in hotels, that would have written in them "In Memory of Weaver McKinsey." (This was Murray’s father, who died earlier that month.) Caleb said, "But it says in Revelations that we're not supposed to write anything else in the Bible."


December 19, 1998: Last week one day I told Sarah to take a shower. She said she wanted to finish coloring a picture from school first; she said she was almost done. I said, no, to take a shower first. Later, she came to talk to me in the kitchen.  I was hurrying to finish supper and didn't pay much attention to her at first; I kept telling her to scoot. Finally I heard what she was telling me, very seriously. "Mommy, I know you feel better when you tell the truth. When I said I was almost finished coloring the picture, I lied. I just wanted to color it so bad. I'm sorry."


December 25, 1998: Last night we were getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at Church. Sarah asked me to help her find a dress to wear. She said, "Daddy said I only have five minutes, and you know how fast Daddy makes minutes."


Rebecca was playing a bunch of songs from a book this morning, and she said, "I can play Johnny rowed the boat ashore."


December 26, 1998: Yesterday when we were getting ready for supper, Caleb mentioned disappointedly that Christmas day had gone by so fast. Rebecca said, "Let's pretend we're bored, and it will go by slower."


December 30, 1998: Murray and Kathy were in the car and Murray rubbed his eyes. Sarah asked what was wrong, and Murray said that it was a hard, hard world. Sarah said, "Especially for little girls who get sooo bored. And for parents, who tell their little children not to say 'bored' and 'not fair' and not to beg and beg when they say no. I'm lucky, because I still have a daddy to snuggle up with."


January 4, 1999: Sarah's friend Karianne stayed over Saturday night to celebrate Sarah's birthday. She forgot to bring a hairbrush. When they were getting ready for church yesterday, Sarah told me matter-of-factly, "Karianne didn't bring a brush so she needs to borrow ours; she doesn't have lice." Amazed, I said, "Did you ask her?" "Yes," Sarah replied.


January 12, 1999: Murray and the kids were in the car, with 3helium balloons. Caleb asked, "What if these didn't just have helium, what if they also had air?" Rebecca said that helium WAS air. Caleb answered quietly, "Actually, it's a gas. A very, very light gas."


Later, Rebecca was working on some math problems such as "3.8minus 2.5", and she told Kathy, "These are all dismals." 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Psalm 4, A Prayer From David

    For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

Answer me when I call to you,

    my righteous God.

Give me relief from my distress;

    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?

    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;

    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;

    when you are on your beds,

    search your hearts and be silent.

Offer the sacrifices of the righteous

    and trust in the Lord.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”

    Let the light of your face shine on us.

Fill my heart with joy

    when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

    for you alone, Lord,

    make me dwell in safety.


Father God, thank you for this example to show, it’s okay to cry to you when we hurt and need your mercy. I do not want to shame you. Lord God, I long to be set apart for your service. Help me cleanse my heart, to find the peace and safety you offer. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Writing a Memoir

I’ve started working on writing a memoir. A story about our family, especially when the kids were small. We have about twenty years of lists written down of funny, sweet, amazing things the kids said, which we call “Kids’ Lists.” We’ve shared these with our families, and I’ve posted some on my blog.


We’ve talked for years about me writing our story, since we have an unusual family. I am blind, and I was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. We have five kids, four disabled, three adopted from Taiwan.


Everybody’s grown and on their own now, so this seemed like a good time. I have a heap of old journals and letters and emails to read through. I’ve barely begun.


I’ve been looking through old emails and some of the spotty journals I’ve kept over the years. It’s been interesting, sometimes sad, sometimes funny reading.


The journal I’ve read so far was from the middle 90s, when most of the kids were pretty small. I wrote very honestly about my thoughts, some sad things, my insecurities with my disability, my doubts about myself as a wife and mother and Christian.


I know most families struggle, but I cringe at some of the things I wrote about Murray and me arguing, mean things I said to the kids. Reading through my journal makes me feel teary, seeing some of the times when I struggled with depression, some of the stress and strain we were under in our marriage with a bunch of small children.


I worried if this is the kind of memories the kids have of their childhood, when what I remember is how much I loved staying with them at home.


I mentioned to my daughters about the sad things I found in the journal, and Sarah said it was probably okay that I had that hard stuff written down, that I was maybe using the journal as a way to deal with the sad thoughts I had, an outlet.


Rebecca said with a journal, a person might write mostly during hard times, using it to vent. She said during good times, we’re just busy being involved with what we’re doing. Some good advice from my adult daughters.


I did find so many wonderful memories. There were times when the kids showed their great faith in Jesus, even when they were so young. I’ve found sweet notes Murray and I wrote to each other, and other fun stories that weren’t written in those kids’ lists we’ve read a lot over the years. I read cute and hilarious things the kids did, great questions they asked.


I mentioned in my journal about my hopes to be a writer. I’d wanted to write since I was a teenager, but didn’t have time to do it when I worked and raised the kids. I said I’d write again when I retired. But this shows how in the really busy years when I was staying at home to take care of little children, I was still thinking about it, including some fiction pieces I wrote right in my journal.


A possible title for our story I’ve talked about with my kids for years is “Seven Around the Dinner Table.” Other titles: “No Family Like Ours,” “Memories of Grace,” and “Showers of Beauty.”


Recently, I’ve considered “A Big Ol’ Goofy Family.” This is an idea I got from “It’s a Big Old Goofy World” by John Prine. Murray and I picked this as “our song” after almost 34 years of marriage.


In the memoir, I want to focus on the good, funny, fun things. The truth is, we were not perfect parents. But the good things I’ve recorded are also true.


I can’t change any bad memories the kids have of their childhood, but I want to offer this book as a gift for all of us, good memories. The truth is, we loved the kids so much, and we wanted to help them grow up to be kind and capable people who love Jesus.


I still have many old documents to go through. I’m finding fun things I didn’t remember, information about the adoptions, and I have so much more to go through. What a sweet, eye-opening journey this is proving to be.