Birthday chats


Celebrations / Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Today is my birthday!

I’m turning thirty-eight, which is such an uncomfy number. Thirty-seven at least had a little witchiness in it, and thirty-nine has the sense of near arrival, but thirty-eight is devoid of all personality. I bet you never met anybody who said, “Ooh! Thirty-eight! That’s a number that always meant something to me.”

Snow was falling when I woke this morning, and it’s snowing still – only the second fall of the season, and it’s magic out there. My children made me breakfast. My sister brought me scones and tea. More fun-and-tiny gatherings spatter my week. But my husband is gone morning and evening today, so that’s a bummer and it makes me want to have some fun here, with you guys. I tried hard to think of some jazzy get-to-know-you fest we could have. Or a game we could play. But the ideas are not coming.

Today: A quiet moment

So we’re just going to have a chat. I’m going to tell you a few things that you probably don’t know about me, and I’m going to ask you to return the favor and tell me a few things about yourself – whether I know you or not. If I already love you, it’s your chance to say hi. If I don’t know you, it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself. And if I know you but don’t love you… wait. That’s not a good direction. Delete that.

I rarely offer this, but this time I will respond personally to each comment, so it’s more communicative.

(And yes, I know I immediately lost some of you – because {sniff} you don’t need my reply if you haven’t earned it in your own right, or {snoot} what kind of deity do I think I am [answer: a really messed up one: see also the state of the world in 2020], or {snork} who wants to join a crowd? But if you do, I promise it will be fun.)

Today: My kids at breakfast. This picture is blurry for reasons that are concrete but hard to explain. I still like it.

Some things you probably don’t know about me:

  1. I had seizures as a baby, and took phenobarbital for about three years to deal with that. I still remember the taste of that horrid medicine – I hated applesauce for years because my mom had to smoosh the pill up in sauce and I’d eat it that way. (I couldn’t swallow pills, and apparently liquid hadn’t been invented yet? How old AM I?) To this day, I prefer pink applesauce, because the texture and color are different from the green I grew up with, still linked to that bitter phenobarb.
  2. I wanted to be a writer since the day I was born. And from little up, I read like I was starving. I learned to write before I went to school, but there were so many words I didn’t know how to spell that I’d write the beginning consonant followed by a line, and the reader had to guess the word. “Dere Dad, H—– B——-. I hope its gud.” When I was eight, I made my first book. The cover was the most important part, made from cardboard, with a tantalizing excerpt penciled on the back. Like so many things from that time of my life, I never finished it.
  3. My favorite foods in the world are rich but plain. Crusty bread with butter, shrimp no breading, original potato chips, untoppinged New York cheesecake.
  4. I dream of having two homes, one right here where I am happiest, and another in some sunny spot far away. Like Spain or Italy. I imagine it would be a simpler place, where I’d sit and soak up the warmth, and the air would smell of grapes and the sea.
Yesterday: Making a marbled cake

Now it’s your turn. Join me? It will be my birthday gift. 😊 If you can’t think of anything to say, here are some questions to get you thinking. Pick a couple if you want.

  • What do you and I have in common? What connects you here?
  • What kind of house do you live in, and what do you see around you right now?
  • How do your childhood dreams tie into who you’ve become and what you do?
  • What’s a memory we share?
  • What would you like to see me blog about next? (No promises, but I love ideas. You guys gave me such great suggestions a summer or so ago, on a survey, and guess what – we lost them all. I am so mad. So tell me again. I personally would like to blog about polygamy, as soon as I figure out what in the world God and the universe were thinking about that little love fest. Any volunteers to tackle that one? Anyone?)
  • What are you cooking for supper?
  • What’s one big regret you have? (This is probably too personal. I regret that I asked.)
  • Who are your favorite authors?
  • What’s a goal you have for the next five years of your life?
  • When you think of my writing in the past, what’s the one thing you always remember? (I’m worried about this one, because if you are like my kids you remember the most outrageous ones. “Hey mom, remember when you said my guitar teacher was a wanna-be hippie born in the wrong decade?” No dear, I’ve completely forgotten it.)
  • Do you think about what your life will be like when you are old? What do you wish for?
  • If you could have a chat with any four people from history at the same time, who would they be?
  • Or just ask me a question. Something you want to know.
Yesterday: Puppy snuggles.

I’d love to get to know you a little better. And I will answer. 😊

I hope it is not too selfish of me to ask.

Cheers on my birthday,

Shari

182 Replies to “Birthday chats”

    1. Oops! He got the age mixed up. And isn’t it just our luck if we would be planning a trip that there would be travel bans, quarantines and other such things happening. 😉

      #egyptsomeday 😂

  1. I didn’t want to get up when my alarm rang at 5:50 AM.

    “What do you have planned for breakfast?” Andy asked.

    “Eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns,” I replied.

    “Just stay in bed,” he said. “I can make breakfast.”

    So I stayed in bed an extra half hour while the loft warmed up from the stove and the smell of bacon and coffee made me hungry. What a luxurious way to wake up! What an awesome husband!

    I came down the steps at 6:30 to find him setting the table and putting cream in the coffee. I woke the children, and we all had breakfast together before he left for work at 7.

    *

    This was my morning in our little cabin in Alaska, and it made me so thankful for my blessings.

  2. Plain ripple chips are delightful, dipped in a sour cream and onion dip.
    Happy birthday from an MBS friend. I’ve had great times reconnecting with you (and your dear sis) here 😊

  3. Happy Birthday! We met at Rejuvenate a few years ago but I’d love to meet again n chat as we share some similar experiences. I love reading your blog, especially your marriage and family posts. May God bless you today and in the coming year as you continue on your healing journey!

    1. Oh I remember you. Face slime situation. 🙂 Hopefully next year Rejuvenate can happen again – there are some friends I kinda meet only there, and I look forward to those chats. Thanks for your kind words. In whatever all experiences we share, may the Lord pour out grace on you. ❤

  4. Hi Shari, Happy birthday! I don’t think I have ever had the privilege of meeting you, but I thoroughly enjoy your writing and feel like I know you a vicariously through your blog. I love your honesty in your writing. What do we have in common… not a lot but we do share a love of reading and books. A little bit about me I am a registered nurse working as a supervisor in a long term care facility, and am also enrolled at Cairn University working on my masters in counseling. In my free time I love a bike ride on a wooded trail. What am I reading right now not a lot outside required reading for my classes. I recently listened on Audible to the book Before We were Yours it was excellent but a tear jerker sorry don’t remember who wrote it. This is the first time I have risked commenting on a blog. I wish you a happy birthday and redemptive 38th year.

    1. Hi Lonita, and thank you for being brave and introducing yourself! I’m honored to get your first comment. 😉 Your career sounds fascinating – the kind of alternate life I’d love to lead. ❤ Good job on meeting/working on those huge goals!

  5. I don’t know you, and we have never met. We do have this in common: My birthday was two days ago and I have always loved words and stories.

    1. Happy, happy, birthday 🎉 Sheri! A Comment seems like a small token to give for all the enjoyment I get out of reading your posts all year long! 😀 I love your insights, inspirations, and ideals that include a strong dose of reality and humor all wrapped up in pretty pictures! Any future posts will be read with great delight, as always, but anything along the line of flowers or books or disciplining foster children or cultivating friends or church relations or restoring damaged relationships or intercessory prayers (including when God doesn’t answer when or how we think he should) would be of special interest. Oh yes, and definitely the poligomy one.
      We’ve never met, but there are a few things we have in common. Like a Nov birthday, and a love of reading and words, and prayers for a brother who has made unwise choices. I would love to meet in person some day, but there’s many miles that separate us.
      Blessings to you! 💗

      1. Good ideas, Beth! Thanks for those. Your words highlight a lot of experiences and interests we share. I would love to meet you – if you are ever nearby, don’t be afraid to say so. ❤ Happy birthday month to you as well!

  6. Umm… Did you want me start listing memories? Narnia, same benches, late nights; ok. I will stop. 😂 Thankfully there have been more recent ones too.

    Happiest of birthdays!

    Love you!

    Wendy

  7. Happy birthday! I’ve been following you admiringly for some time now. Your blog is refreshing in its simple, profound honesty. I’m going to take the initiative to ask you a question. What helped you the most in learning to write well? Reading books? Writers’ groups? Lots of practice? Something else?I want to be as cool as you by the time I’m 38.😊

    1. Oh dear. Great question, but this one might take some thought. I haven’t yet arrived with my writing – I’m always working to improve. Reading books of the kind I’d like to write has helped me most, even though that sets the standard incredibly high. I did a writers’ group for a short time when I was starting out, and it got me out of the closet 😉 but I found that less helpful than simply asking a skilled friend to cast her eye over my work and give me input. And like you said – just writing and writing and writing. And sharing and sharing and sharing. Because that’s the only way to get the feedback that will help me grow. I try to take advice to heart – whenever I hear someone give a good writing tip, to tuck it in my mind and use it. And finally, most truly, to find my own voice instead of trying to copy anyone else’s, and use that as fearlessly as I can (quaking a good deal, to be honest). I can see clearly that this is not a good course prescription I am giving you here, but it’s the best I can do on short notice. 😉

      Thank you for asking. Your words made me laugh – thank you for your affirmation. ❤

  8. Happy Birthday. 38 is a lovely age. Been there. Done that.
    My connection to you has been forever. I knew your parents before they were an item. So happy their families were friends with my family.
    MBS is where most of my memories of you are. I loved standing beside you in chorus.
    Did you know I like coffee and chocolate…and being ‘the boss for a month”?

  9. Well, you have officially pronounced me a ding dong, because, ooh la la, I’m eagerly looking forward to 38, and I DO like that number so there! Here’s a small and inconsequential fact about your old friend:
    She loves to be even numbers, or multiples of 5, but the 1,3,7, and 9 make her jumpy every time

    1. I know you’re waiting for Shari’s reply and not mine, but your comment caught me… I never, but never let the volume level in our van be an uneven number unless it’s divisible by 5. And my washcloths need to be alternating colors. Are you a fellow OCDr?

    2. This cracked me right up. I will refrain from commenting on the ding-dong, but you and I are complete opposites here – I much prefer odd numbers to even. Evens make me feel fat and complacent. But your juxtaposed “jumpy” is hilarious. I did not know that about you. Huge hugs. Come see me.

  10. Happy birthday! “If you could have a chat with any four people from history at the same time, who would they be?” Wow. That’s hard because there are so many! But maybe, Anita Dittman, the Apostle John (post revelation), J.O. Fraser, and Mary of Bethany.

  11. I’ve followed your blog a number of years and I’ve tried several of your book recommendations. One I enjoyed recently was One for the Murphy’s and enjoyed it so much. I enjoy your sense of humor and admire your honesty. I too have wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but unlike you my book ideas are still just that. Happy birthday!

    1. Hi Crystal – and thank you for your kind words. My book ideas were all shelved until two years ago, so you still have lots of time. 😉 Go for it! I’m glad you liked One for the Murphys. I love it too.

  12. A few weeks ago I stumbled across your blog. What a find! Your writing is lively, warm and well-constructed, so I’m glad I found you. Could you tell me… is that A Diary of Private Prayer that I see beside the candle in your second photo? By John Baillie? Can I share with you that I love that title? In college a friend brought me a box of ratty, used books and told me to grab any that I wanted – I found A Diary of Private Prayer at the bottom and for the next twenty years, each time I felt too overwhelmed to come up with my own words, I prayed ones from this little book.

    1. Hi Holly. I’m so glad you introduced yourself – your work looks beautiful, and I’m glad I got a chance to peek at it. Your upcoming second book title especially caught my eye. My sister survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and the toll it took on her body and her faith was something painful (and eventually, beautifully redemptive) to watch.

      And yes, I’m glad you caught the book title. 🙂 You are exactly right. My bestie gave it to me several years ago – It is not too strong a statement to say that Baillie’s book changed my whole prayer life. I clung to those words through one of the darkest seasons of my life – winter 2018, when I gave up three kids in six weeks time. I didn’t know what to say to God, so I used someone else’s words, and they helped bring me to peace. I’m so glad you love it too. ❤ Thank you for your very kind words.

  13. I am cooking sweet potatoes, sausage, and stuffing for supper. Want me to bring you the leftovers?
    And I love that you are sitting around in your house on your 38th birthday, responding to ALL our comments. :). Happy birthday, dear girl!

  14. Happy Birthday, Shari! I love creative ideas and yours here is a winner. I hope you get an explosion of comments. I’ve known you for awhile – probably the first meeting goes way back to MBS days when you were a little girl in pigtails bouncing through the dorms and halls. Only in recent years do I feel like I’ve begun to know you better and that’s through your blog. I am drawn to your posts because you can write so meaningfully about the hard things, and you have such a gift for communicating well on many different topics and in a variety of styles. I’m not sure if you and I would be super close friends if we lived next door or next pew to each other, not because I don’t think you are good friend material, but because I don’t think all the wonderful friends that a person has through blogging and connections on social media could possibly turn out to be bosom buddies in reality. What do you think? I consider our connection through your writing a lovely gift and I look forward to interacting with you more in coming years, whether that’s through me reading your blog or us occasionally meeting up with each other in person. Thank you for showing me through your writing what it looks like to live life with Jesus, for Jesus, and in Jesus.
    PS. Right now I am jealous of you. You get to go to church with my daughter Kayleen! I thank God that she has dear ladies like you to take her under wing.

    1. Hi Danette. Well, the feeling is mutual – I feel like I know you better than I have any right to 😉 between connecting with your parents and your daughter, who are all very dear to me. I truly know what you mean about connections via blogging/ social media not quite reflecting connections in real life. I completely agree, though I think there is a real spark of kindred spirit to this one. Maybe because my dad praised your writing to me many years ago, and I always kept that tucked in my mind as a standard to strive for! 🙂 I’m excited that I’ll be seeing more of your family with Kayleen in the area. Thanks for your kindness and blessings. Here’s a hug.

  15. I never met you either but your blog has ministered to me and many others . Your authenticity and openness is so refreshing and helpful to many .
    What you don’t know about me is that I was unusually tall as a adolescent and it was just a terrible trial for me!( 5 ft 8 ” or so in the 7th grade )
    Now at 5’9 or 10 ” I rarely think of it !
    Parents , help your children accept how God made them 😊❤️
    Mary Yoder

    1. Hi Mary, thanks for your words here. You and Merle have been good for me, offering affirmation and pushback in the right quantities at times I really needed it. 🙂 I didn’t know you are tall! Hoping we can meet someday.

  16. Happy Birthday, Shari!

    Because my husband is able to come home over the noon break, we have pushed dinner time closer to 1 and are enjoying that as our largest meal of the day. I am LOVING the change. It makes my morning feel so much more productive and my evening feel delightfully relaxed. We had fried rice and Honey Curry Chicken for dinner. The Honey Curry Chicken is a recipe from Mary Ellen’s recipe book. I can’t find a picture or link to the book, but I am certain you would like the beautiful book filled with delicious recipes.

    Our evening suppers are now lighter meals which largely consist of soup and salad this time of year. Tonight it is leftover Broccoli Soup and a lettuce/tomato/egg/gouda cheese/bacon salad topped with homemade French dressing.

    And because I am currently pregnant with a stomach that is getting squished aside by a growing boy, the lighter fare in the evening helps me not to feel quite so large. 😉

    Wishing you a special day and wonderful year, Kendra

    1. Thank you! A nice cozy comment and it makes me hungry… 🙂 especially for that salad! I love cookbooks so much, but don’t recognize the one you’re referring to. Yummy. I just got two new ones – Me, Myself, and Pie given to me by my friend Tina, and The Pepperidge Farms cookbook, an oldie-goldie with antique recipes, good for reading when bored.

      When I look at your face on your website, I feel like I’ve met you, but I can’t think where. Thanks for saying hi – you are doing good work, and it’s cool to see we’re both contributors to The Dock. Blessings in your busy mommy season!

  17. Happy Birthday! I do not believe we have ever met. I am thinking that 38 is a great age.. at least you are not 43 like I am!!😉 I so enjoy your way with words, even though reading is not a huge love for me! I always look forward to what you have to say and the way you say it. I also appreciate your honesty and heart in your writings. Know that there are prayers ascending for you and your family. I am also in love with the daily planner and have used it for years even though I never imagined that I would be a “planner momma”!

  18. Happy Birthday!

    I love birthdays. Celebrating, presents, special food, cards and lovely words from friends, its the best.

    What I have in common with you is that we both write (this is, however, like saying that German Shepherds and teacup poodles are both dogs) and also that I wrote my first story when I was ten and proudly read it to a whole kitchen full of people with the kind of confidence I would kill for, now. I read desperately, constantly, I always have, much to my mom’s distress when I was young and probably to my kids distress now.

    Also, a house is Spain sounds heavenly. Actually, a short trip to Spain would do. Actually, a short trip to any dry, warm, foreign locale would do.

    I had a ladies day at my house today and for supper tonight, my one SIL left me cheesy ham soup, and my other SIL left me half a blueberry cheesecake. My sister-in-laws, they are beautiful, beautiful people.

    A lovely rest of your birthday to you.

    Ps. 38 is the sum of the squares of the first three prime numbers, also it is the largest even number which cannot be written as the sum of two odd composite numbers. Don’t ask me what that means. Do I look like a math genius? I totally googled it.

    1. Hi again Amy! Your dog comment is hysterical and also misguided but I’ll forgive you. Thank you for the compliment. I know from experience that you’re quite good with words. ❤ Wouldn’t childish confidence come in handy these days?

      I have some pretty impressive sisters-in-law myself but I plan to hire yours for all my food provision needs. I basically have no idea about your postscript because I am the Worst Person in the World With Math but it sounds great – I’ll go with that for sure. 😉 Thank you for this lovely comment.

  19. Hey Shari! I have been enjoying your blog for a number of years… your writing resonates with me because I enjoy your truthfulness about life… finding humor in the irony of life… and being raw about tough issues! Thanks for being brave and sharing your heart with us! Please keep writing!
    When I grow up and get to be a big girl (50 perhaps?🤣, 40 is on the horizon), I’m hoping I outgrow the urge to laugh at all the wrong times! I wish I would possess enough saintly chagrin, to hold in the giggles when my small daughter emitts not just one but three smelly fluffs,( with the sound effects included)… on the bench beside me at communion!
    By the way, next time you hang out at Rio Thompson, Stratford ON… I’d love to introduce you to lots more fun things in my home stompin’ grounds!
    Happy birthday, Shari,
    Blessings, Anita

    1. This is hilarious. I am TERRIBLE at keeping giggles in when I most need to. And tears, which unfortunately have been nearer the surface at recent communions. Would your daughter please come sit on my lap for a few church services? That would be a great blessing.

      Oooh – We actually wanted to return to Stratford this summer, but Covid put an end to those thoughts. Maybe next year. I have good friends up that way. And the chocolates were magnificent! Thanks for the standing invite. 😉 Best to you and yours.

    2. Anita, I hope you never grow up! Your ability to laugh is a gift. Don’t squash it. “Saintly chagrin” can very easily turn into a pickled saint, if there is such a thing…

  20. Happy Birthday, Shari! Two things that we have in common – we both love books and we both attended MBS.
    Tonight for supper we’re having grilled chicken and leftover rice.
    One of my favorite authors currently is Angela Hunt.
    When I think about something I remember from your blog, its the blog in which you wrote about getting married when you’re young, and why that isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I’ve looked and looked through old blog posts to find that one, and I’ve never been able to find it again… But I’m pretty sure you were the one who wrote it 🙂
    A question for you – is it possible to rock your babies to sleep for naps and at nighttime, but still have babies who sleep through the night before they’re a year old?

    1. Hi Marlese, I’ve enjoyed your comments over the years. I don’t remember you from MBS – maybe our paths didn’t cross there? But what good memories. It was such a huge part of my life that I dreamed about it for years afterward, every fall and winter as the right time approached.

      Hm. I would have to think about that blog post. I feel like I read it too, but I’m not sure if I wrote it – ha. The closest one I can find at first glance is this one about in-laws. But I don’t think that’s right. Let us pray the Lord reveals it to us.

      I have lots of thoughts and questions about rocking/ not rocking. 😉 I loved rocking my later babies (not as much my first ones). And I loved a good night’s sleep even more. For me, the best route to both rocking and sleeping soundly was to keep the child accustomed to going to sleep both with and without me. Sometimes one, sometimes the other. In my experience, it seemed important mine were ABLE to go to sleep by themselves – otherwise when they inevitably woke in the middle of the night, they needed me to soothe every time. I loved best having a baby who could go to sleep either way. Some mamas might be able to pull off the always-rocking and still-sleeping-well. I couldn’t manage it… You? 🙂

      1. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to rock and still get a full night’s sleep. My first baby is 9 months old right now, and I love to rock (so I do), but he doesn’t sleep all night. 🙁 And I don’t know how to teach him to fall asleep on his own without lots of crying involved.

        I’m 10.5 years younger than you, so I’m sure we never met at MBS, but it was still a great place when I went, and I’d still love to go back, even though I’m married and a mom now. 😉

        And an interesting fact, my mother-in-law shares your birthday.

        1. Ah. The 10 years younger would explain it. 😉 I loved MBS too.

          I don’t know if you want a tip about baby sleep or not – your “first baby” and “I don’t know how” made me consider this question. If you and your baby are happy with how things are, don’t feel any pressure from me. ❤ Sleep training has become this big jazzy modern conversation, with lots of thoughts on all sides. It doesn’t have to be a big production, and it doesn’t have to happen now, but it can trade short-term unhappiness for long-term gain for both baby and mommy. Here’s a link to some overview ideas. Again, what works for you. ❤ I love that you love time with your little munchkin.

  21. I’ve never met you but love your blog! You have a great writing style. So often your words say my exact feelings better than I could. I also have some likes/interests in common with you including reading and writing. Your last post about the planner you bought came at exactly the right time as I’ve been searching for the perfect one. I’m anxious to receive mine this week. 😊 If you want to learn more about me here’s a link to my blog:
    https://wanderingsbywendy.blogspot.com/?m=1
    Have a wonderful birthday!

    1. Thank you for introducing yourself and sharing your blog, Wendy! God bless you for your work in the medical field during an extremely taxing time – I pray He gives you strength for each new day. I’m glad you got a planner – hope you love it!

  22. Happy Birthday! I remember being 38 and having two small daughters before our third came two years later.
    So about me:
    1. I have this naughty habit of starting a book and then starting another before the first one is done.

    2. I never drink hot tea from a disposable cup. I’m weird that way.

    3. I originally refused to get a smartphone several years back but when Tracfone changed their services and told us they were replacing our old phones with smartphones how could I refuse?

    4. I’m teaching myself to sew which hasn’t been easy.

    5. I had my very first BLT ever in August of this year.

    6.Four people from history I would love to talk to at the same time : Laura Ingalls Wilder, Fanny Crosby, Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Sattler (make that five people) Dirk Willems

    7. My favorite authors are Dorcas Smucker, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Becky McGurrin just to name a few.

    8. At almost 60 years of age I consider myself old. I never saw myself at this age as having three young adult daughters.

    9. I found your blog ( if memory serves me right) from the blog tour of Dorcas Smucker’s book Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

    10. Seeing the the seeds of cantaloupe, honeydew half etc, gives me the willies watermelon does not. I have no idea why I’m just weird that way.

    1. Hi Regina. You always sound like a person with a fascinating life, with your fingers in a lot of good things. I’d like to meet you sometime. 🙂 Number 10 makes me laugh at “the willies.” That’s how I feel about seeing chewed gum. Shudder.

      If number 1 is naughty then I am in BIG trouble because I’m usually reading several simultaneously, so I can pick up the one that matches my state of mind at the moment. The intellectually challenging one, the light one for when I’m tired and needing amusement, or the classic that I’ve read several times before, but that does it for me every time. ❤ Thank you for sharing about yourself! 🙂

  23. Happy birthday, Shari! I had to comment because..we’ll, my birthday’s today too! Only thing is, I’m 3 years older than you at the whopping age of 41.😊 I had a lovely day, my husband took me out for lunch and then we spent more than $200 at Aldi.🙄

    I’ve been loving to follow along on your posts for a few years already. I often read them aloud to my family. You definitely have a talent with words! 🙌🏻

    So HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hope your day was special and blessed!

  24. I see that you are going to be busy for quite some time! 😉 A memory from your blog? That picture of you dressed in full firefighter gear… Something you don’t know about me? Quite a lot. In another life, I would be a woman who loves to cook, loves to host guests and can actually think of things to say when I’m around people.

    1. Ya, I have my work cut out for me. 😉 I’m glad to meet someone who has a bucket list for another life. Me too. In another life I would be a super patient woman, effortlessly self-disciplined, who doesn’t tie herself up in knots over controversy. Okay, so that is not going to happen. But from what I hear you saying, I can imagine a gentle introvert who does a lot of work inside her own mind. ❤ Glad you remember the fire fighter gear. I’d forgotten. Hahaha what a day that was!

  25. Well. For starters, if I had known you were spending your birthday evening alone I may have wisked you away but then you wouldn’t be be getting all these lovely comments…………so………..

    I did not know that you had seizures as a baby.

    The most significant thing that I think we really connect on is our mutual love for pink applesauce.

    One (of the many) things that I really like about you is how well you are able to drive and talk at the same time. Road tripping with you is one of my favorite and best things to do.

    I also really, really love the care and attention you give to the fine details of life.

    Enjoy 38 because so far 39 has not been any more majestic or noteworthy for me than 38. Just say’in.

    My life is richer and fuller and more beautiful because of you!! xoxox

    1. I love you so much. I’m glad pink applesauce brought us together. And the road trips? I want another. Huge hug, dearest lady (virtual because of Covid). Thank you for being in my life – I don’t know what I’d do without you. xo

  26. Time and again, your posts have resonated deep within me as i see shared experiences…. Sometimes its the gut wrenching pain and why’s of the foster care journey, other times the many facets of walking the path of a son at camp, or the learning to trust when trust has been broken, the reevaluating and rebuilding in the wake of messed up relationships, the ability to ask hard questions and dig deep for answers… All this and more senses a kindred spirit in you, even though I have your 38 yrs beaten by 14 more! (when did that happen???)

    1. Wow. We do have a lot in common. I’m sorry – it sounds like the hardest parts. I’m glad you find connection here. I wish for a face to face chat, which would be better. Praying that the Lord brings redemption and healing to the dark parts of your story. Thank you for saying this. Lots of care, empathy, love. – Shari

      1. Happy birthday to one of my favourite writers! We’ve only met once, so there’s lots we don’t know about each other. I hope one day we can remedy that. Thank you for sharing your words, along with the pains and joys of your life, so bravely and articulately these last few (nine?) years. Your writing has blessed me many times. Much love. ❤️

        1. Oh my, I am creeping up on nine, aren’t I? Thank you, Jenn. I love feeling like I’ve gotten to know you a little online, but I loved meeting you more, and I knew we could have talked a lot longer. Love you too. I hope that day will come. ❤

  27. Happy birthday Shari! Two things I love about your blog: one, your honesty and articulation, and two, the wide range of subjects you address, from fun Laura Ingalls parties to heartbreaking requiems, practical hair care to heavy, difficult marriage struggles. I still like the lint shaver you recommended. 😄 God bless you for being a voice for relevant issues. And a connection, I think we both got married on October 25, 2003, a beautiful day to get married. 😄

  28. Hope you’re having a wonderful relaxing Birthday evening! I love when you post pictures of your favorite people! In my next 5 years I want to invest time in helping young mothers with food, babysitting or doing random housework for them.
    I like lots of books and authors galore! Blessings as you keep pressing onward.

  29. Something I ‘hear’ around me? Children practicing piano. I don’t have a lot of dreams but do still want to learn. I always admired moms in stories that played at bedtime. But I have read many chapter books. And that broadens the childrens world. Check out the Sonlight homeschool curriculum for book ideas. It really opened up our reading reporitore.
    1regret: that personal change is so scary.
    Puppy pic got me… We have 9 Pyredoodle pups right now!!!! 4 weeks TOO cute!!!
    We have a daughter in your area and just came to see her on Saturday.
    I come here to read because you are as eloquent as I am bumbling with words and the ability to put thoughts down.
    We still share our home with others…you know part of our story. Right now we could use prayer as we relate to a birth mother. It looks totally overwhelming to me.
    Well happy birthday to you!

    1. Prayers about your relationship with birth mom. That can be so so hard. I know from experience that the Lord gives supernatural grace to reach out with love when we need it most, and feel most unable to do it on our own. Your puppies sound darling. I like dogs so much. God bless you, Marilyn!

  30. I like stopping by here, because your writing is conversational without annoying typos and grammatical errors. (Teacher snob, I know.) I also find it a delectable blend of the ideals and the real. I chatted with you briefly here and there when I lived in your community doing TAP. I helped out with your church’s kids’ club and girls’ club the next year. I think the most memorable chat I had with you was when I watched your Oreo threesome at a school function, and I shared my own family’s experience with fostering and adoption. In other news, I cooked stir fry for supper. (Definitely start the chicken raw, dip it in seasonings, and fry in piping hot skillet for best results.) I binge read L.M. Montgomery every winter, but I also love J.R. Tolkien and Elizabeth Goudge. You could write about the journey you went through to develop your style of décor, wardrobe, etc. Did you know your own mind at twelve? Do you feel secure in it now? 🙂

    1. I remember that chat with you too, though the most impacting-to-me conversation we had was a brief one at REACH, after your music led me to tears. Your authors are delightful. And I like this writing suggestion very much. 🙂 Thank you, Yolanda. I appreciate what you brought to my life while you were here – and since, online. ❤ Bless you.

  31. Happy birthday, Shari! I first started reading your entries because of the connection I had with your parents. I was in the youth group with them ‘way back in the ’60s, but usually only at the annual youth retreat in northern MN. They were definitely the elite couple there among the northern hicks, although your mom grew up in the bush, too! I watch for pictures and comments about and from them here! We also have connections to the Zooks. Now I continue reading here for your honest sharing and your rollicking writing style!
    I would love to be in the presence of these four ladies from the past: Corrie ten Boom, Granny Brand, Carol Richardson, and Elizabeth Elliott. Some of the greatest role models of sacrifice and strength!

    1. Your comment means a lot to me, because it reaches way back into my past and ties several worlds together. That is amazing you knew my parents back then – “northern hicks” is one of the proudest parts of my heritage, so no bursting my bubble there. 🙂 🙂 Wow – thanks for introducing yourself. Lots of respect.

  32. Hi Shari! Happy birthday!
    I started following your blog after my highschool participated in your “What We’d Like Our Teachers To Hear” survey. I am exactly half as old as you😉 I too love reading and writing, especially poetry, but it’s hard to make time for them. Any ideas on how to prioritize?
    God bless you as you keep writing!

    1. Oh my goodness! Delighted scream. 🙂 I didn’t know I gained any ongoing reader from that project, but it was one of the best things I ever did, for my sake if for no one else’s. Thank you so much for commenting. You’re right – it is hard to prioritize. I tend to feel lazy if I’m reading or writing when there’s “work” to do – even when those things are my assigned work. And your life as a young person is full I’m sure… I like to set regular times for it. This doesn’t always work if you need a particular mood or inspiration to get going, but your mind can adjust to set times – For example, I always write in the silence on Sunday afternoons. Or, Thursday nights are my poetry night. Treat it as an appointment – if something comes up and you have to bump to another time, reschedule it for another concrete space. Sometimes knowing it’s coming gets you ready, and becomes a sacred place in your week. ❤ I love when I hear people starting down the writing path. Best to you!

  33. Happy Birthday Shari, I appreciate your blogposts and I’m waiting to read your book. Our home is a cape cod style house which on some days just isn’t big enough for all the noise. But on cleaning day… it’s enormous! My son is on the other end of the sofa looking at a towing magazine and explaining exactly how this new chain works, and why we should get this truck or that one. The problem is that he really wanted to go with his Dad tonight to tow a motorhome, but fourth graders need their sleep. My daughter made “Ranch Potato Casserole” for our supper tonight. Oh and I hope to be a sweet lady when I’m old. But I need to keep working on it. At this rate I’ll be old before I’m sweet!

  34. Hi, Shari. Happy birthday! I’ve never met you and I forget how I found your blog, but I enjoy what you have to say. Your posts encourage me and bring a welcome sense of calm. I live in a smaller old fashioned house which, though containing a frustratingly small amount of electrical outlets, is very homey. My favorite authors include Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald. Thanks for sharing some of your life with me; I hope this gives you a small glimpse into mine!

    1. Aw, you can tell a lot about someone based on what authors they love, and I hear quiet, deep thoughts, and meaning-making in yours. 🙂 Your word “calm” is a very high compliment to me, and I treasure it. Thank you.

  35. Happy 38th birthday, Shari! I was introduced to your blog by our mutual friend Lisa. You haven’t disappointed me. Your blogs are well-written, concise, and profound. I appreciate your candid look at life–your honesty about hard stuff and raw emotions, as well as your joy in the simple pleasures.
    We seem to share a love for parties. My husband tells me I’d make a good Jewess because Jews love to celebrate. 🙂 Perhaps that’s why you & I think 38 is bland. But 30 and 40? Ah, those were good reasons to celebrate big with friends and sisters! For my 40th, my sisters & I celebrated in Saint Augustine, FL. That was also the year I got married, which forever changed my life.
    For dinner, I made Black Bean Fajita Pasta with a cauliflower & feta salad, plus baked sweet potatoes slathered with cinnamon butter. Dessert was French Silk Pie and coffee. [Can you tell that my husband has an amazing metabolism? :)]
    Favorite authors? I hardly know where to start because I have been a bookworm since the day my aunt taught me to read when I was but a 5-year-old. For starters, L.M. Montgomery and Dorcas Smucker. 🙂
    Cheers to you for finding a fun way to celebrate! My 2020 birthday came right on the heels of the PA governor’s mandate for a 2-week lockdown. I had planned to bake a cake and set it on the sidewalk for neighbors to enjoy; but even that didn’t happen because our neighbors all holed up inside and didn’t want anything unless the cook wore gloves. So my brainy ideas dissolved into brainless tears that day as I sat at home alone. But, happy day, the lockdown was no longer in place when my husband turned 40 so I got to use many fun ideas to celebrate him.
    God bless you with a wonderful year as you anticipate 39! 🙂

    1. What an interesting, quirky, delightful life you live. I love your idea about cake on the sidewalk. Maybe next year! Parties are one of the joys of life – never too many reasons to celebrate. ❤ I love Lisa and I’m glad she brought you here. Thanks for your super kind words.

  36. I am an unknown follower. 😉 As far as anything in common; I love to read and have enjoyed your reading lists. Some of my favorite authors are Harold Bell Wright, Gene Stratton Porter, and George McDonald. Your writing style of “call it like it is” resonates with me. Your candid stories about life have given me a window into the struggles some of my friends face. Such as, high maintenance children, foster children, and marriage struggles. As a single lady living alone, I am always blessed and inspired by observing working relationships; be it marriage or parent/child. Happy Birthday!

    1. Yay! This is one of my goals in communicating – and in listening – is to give and receive a glimpse into worlds we’ve never experienced, that our friends live in daily. Thank you for giving me a little window into yours as well. I love that you want to observe and understand and bless what you don’t experience personally – but also to bring your own personhood and life. Joy to you! Thanks for saying hi.

  37. The most memorable blog post of yours was about stewing, let the wife do something constructive while husband is in his nothing box. I thought it was hilarious, probably because it resonated with me. I always enjoy your posts. My brain is too tired for a second thing. Happy birthday anyway, another year is worth celebrating!

  38. Dearest Shari,

    Happiest of birthdays to you! I almost didn’t comment because it’s going to be overwhelming to answer all these comments. You’ll be busy for daaaaayssss. But aren’t they lovely?

    I just love you. And I want to write like you.

    For supper we are having baked chicken, oven fried potatoes, and steamed broccoli.

    I love Philip Yancey, Torey Hayden, Alexander McCall Smith, and C.S. Lewis.

    Thank you for writing such good words. ❤️❤️❤️

  39. Happy Birthday! From another reader who loves birthdays but has celebrated almost a decade less than you have. Last month I turned 29 years young. I was introduced to your posts by a friend a couple years ago and have loved them ever since. I love reading and writing and photography and taking care of my husband and 3 children. I like the honesty and realness of your words.
    A book I am reading now is a trilogy by George MacDonald, The Curate’s Awakening, The Lady’s Confession, and The Apprenticeship of the Baron. Very interesting and makes you really think!
    Keep on writing! And thanks for sharing your birthday with us!😊

    1. Thank you, Deb! Your hobbies sound super, and I like how they play together. The children are there to be photographed in all their charmingness, and the husband is there to bounce reading and writing ideas off of. At least, that is how it has always worked in my neck of the woods. 😉 Thanks for commenting. Have a great day!

    2. Happy birthday, dear lady!
      So…another lifetime ago there was green trucks stuffed to the gills with teenage kids, and pop up campers. There was slug bugs and punches. There was the good girl oaths and button smile outfits. There was chasing coons at midnight and campfires. There was Starbucks and max n erma’s. There was celebrations and drama. 😉
      So much goodness and sadness packed into a few short years…sometimes I wouldn’t mind going back for a just a teeny bit! So we could laugh and make fun of those that are 38 and up. Life was simpler back then! Or maybe we could just chat over a cup of coffee and biscotti in a more mature manner and celebrate the wisdom we’ve gained?
      Can NOT wait to get my hands on your book!

      1. What are the chances of sisters commenting back to back?! Did you guys plan that?

        So good to hear from you. Those memories make me want to cry as well as laugh – a simpler time for sure, and one I treasure. I really doubt we could do a mature-mannered chat. Do you think? Surely thoughts of those smiley vests would keep breaking in? 😉 Thank you, dear friend. ❤

  40. Happy Birthday, Shari! I’ve been 39 for a few weeks and it’s really not been anything too exciting, ya know? Uneven numbers are less reassuring somehow (I don’t even know how that makes any sense.) I love your writing. I love how you’re willing to be vulnerable. When I get big, I want to be like that. And no, I don’t know what I’m waiting on to get started…

    I spent my birthday evening at the office with my computer and numbers. I would’ve felt sorry for myself except that the next evening some lovely friends had a spa night, complete with candles, music, foot soaks, massages, facial masks, and food. And presents! Who could ask for more? Did I mention that they are lovely women? I hope your birthday brings blessings and friendship.

    I love books though I’m not sure I can name any certain author as an all-time favorite. Lately, I’ve been enjoying P G Wodehouse. He’s so corny, if corny is the word I want 🙂. Children’s books are high on my favorites list.

    I’m sure you don’t know me and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in person, though I’ve been in your community several times. I recognized your daughter on a school picture (sent by her teacher) and felt a small connection. God bless your ministry of writing!

    1. Hi Rhonda! Ooh, we have a lot in common. I love P.G. Wodehouse – my friend Amy introduced me to him and he was the best light reading, worth lots of laughter. I bought a Jeeves collection secondhand when I found it, later. And children’s books – oh yes! And Marilyn, apparently. 😉 I love her too.

      What a delightful day-after-birthday you had. Friends like that are gold. Something tells me that you are probably well on your way in the vulnerability journey – isn’t it always more charming in others than in ourselves? but so worth reaching for. Take care, and thanks for writing!

  41. Happiest Birthday, Shari!
    I have quite a few memories from young pre-teen and teenage days with you in it. Driving to your house for our first Christmas in MN but it was -60*, and the van would barely stay running. I remember your move to OH, and how we went along to help. I think we sat up in a certain barn loft and sang mournful songs until we couldn’t stop giggling.

    Some things about me … I just left off being 38, and am 39 as of April. It hasn’t been bad at all. Just after my birthday I pulled up my big girl panties and sent off my resume’ to a list of local midwives. I was accepted by a pair of midwives, and I am now working my way through an apprenticeship while delivering babies and I could not be any happier! I actually caught one all by myself when the other midwives didn’t make it in time. Best moment ever. 😉 Another fact: I enjoy public speaking, especially if it is on a topic that I am passionate about, or very experienced in.

    For supper tonight I made pancakes and eggs. Not my best meal. But tomorrow night might be chicken tikki masala, which my family adores. I buy my Indian spices online through myspicesage(dot)com, and they are absolutely amazing.

    My current reads are mostly midwifery manuals, but I’m part of a delightful book club, and last month our assignment was to read the teeny tiny red book called How to Be a Good Wife. You can find it on eBay for $4. It is written circa the 1930’s, and it will have you rolling with giggles.

    1. Now I have to check out this little red book. 😉 It sounds right up my alley. I’m so proud of you about the midwifery! That seems like a long-term dream come true. ❤ My best births were with a very capable midwife who also happens to be my friend. It’s an unsurpassed way to minister to women, and I hope my daughter takes it up someday – she has the right skill set. Good for you!

      I have so many wonderful memories with you and Rach and Audrey. We were so innocent – the mournful songs and trying hard to maintain that melancholy feeling – lol! But I was truly so sorry to lose you guys. You were an amazing support for our family and I love that we stayed somewhat connected, but it’s never the same a thousand miles away. SO happy to hear from you. Lots of love.

  42. Birthday wishes from my corner also! I have never met you and not sure how I was introduced to your blog but I enjoy your writing . I have also been a foster mom, taking in a sibling group of three , though we haven’t gone thru the pain of saying goodbye since ours were adopted. Something you don’t know about me is that I hate mice with a fierce passion, we don’t function well in the same house! I love a nice hot latte or cup of coffee and books in my reading stack currently are In My Father’s House by Darletta Martin, The Tender Herb by Clara Miller, Etched In Sand by Regina Calcaterra, and Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter.

    1. Ooh – Three Little Words was a good read for me this year, though I like the sequel Three More Words better. She grew into her writing voice – it’s a better book – but also, she writes that one from the perspective of a former-foster-child-turned-foster-mother. Really neat perspective. Bless you for your leap of faith in taking a sibling group of three! ❤ I pray God blesses them and you abundantly through this union of two families into one.

  43. Hi Shari,

    A big happy birthday to you!! 😉

    I chanced to come upon your blog a while back, and you were writing about a child you needed to send away?! I discovered you are a foster mom (I think), and that clicked with me. We have fostered for a number of years, which resulted in us adopting a sibling group of 5.

    Somewhere along the way, I discovered who you really are. You see, back in 1987 and 1988, when you were 5 or 6?, I met you at Maranatha. I was there as a very insecure 17 or 18 yr old farm girl. Somehow we connected (I think God knew I needed you), and you would come running to stand by me every chance you got. Specifically when we were gathered in the hall (for prayer b4 meals, etc). It warmed my heart, and helped me to feel like I belonged. It is a fond memory. 😊

    I kind of knew some of your extended family through meetings at our church in Iowa, or them reaching out to my newly widowed sister when she was at Bible School. And your dad taught several of my classes.

    I have wanted to identify myself, but was too chicken. So thought this might be a good chance. 😉

    Thank-you for loving me all those years ago! ❤ I don’t always read your blogs, but have really enjoyed the ones I read. You have a beautiful heart….just like I remember. Blessings to you and yours! ❤

    ~Jean Zook 😊

    1. Oh my goodness. I have no memory of this shared experience, but it warms my heart. I’m sure I was trying to belong too.
      I’m so glad you were brave enough to say hi and tell this story. What a wonderful thing. ❤ Thank you!!

  44. Happiest of birthdays to you, Shari! I share your feelings on the complacent even number – I loved being 27, 28- not so much.

    Tonight I was helping my foster girl with her reading and she came across these words, “what’s heavy as a full pail of water, but still empty, empty, empty? Give up? It’s my heart.” (Excerpt from Meet Addy, An American Girl) She looked up at me and said “that’s so sad”. And she read the words again. My heart broke a little right then. She is the bravest, most beautiful soul ever. She deserves medals yet has gotten the short end of the stick over and over in her very young life.

    And now it’s that magical time of night with the little people in bed, the house dark and cozy, the wind howling outside. Also about the time I feel too exhausted to enjoy it much.

    I hope your day was filled with good things ⚘

    1. 🙂 Such a familiar scenario – some busy days of mothering, I survived by fantasizing about what I’d do once they were all in bed. Perhaps a night drive with the cool wind on my skin, perhaps a decadent cup of hot cocoa, perhaps two hours of silence with a book or a movie or a good playlist. Then, once they were in bed, nothing sounded more comforting than my own couch, my own bed, and REST. God bless you as you walk with a child who has lost so much. Your heart breaking alongside hers brings healing. I do not know how this works, but it is true. ❤

  45. I’m not even sure where I was introduced to your blog, but I’ve always been thankful for the exposure. At the beginning, I loved your vulnerable, chatty style of writing because my heart connected with it, as well as the fostering aspect as I know what it means to parent in this way.

    Those things have only increased, especially your willingness to write vulnerably, and realizing with a heavy heart that we’ve both faced pain from our beloved husbands, pain that shouldn’t be there but is. That’s only made me admire your vulnerability more and wish I had the guts to write more openly.

    We live in East Africa, Tanzania. We were married four years the 8th of October and we are privileged to fill parent roles in the lives of 8 precious Tanzanian children. We wanted to adopt, but laws make it painfully hard here, so we are content to simply make this country home and raise the littles here. We deal with a lot of (undiagnosed, but very real) trauma, FASD, and lots of various attachment issues in all their young but painful lives. We are also trying, by the grace of God, to build a church here for our children to be a part of, and are grateful to have fellow missionaries living only an hour and a quarter away.

    A lot of life feels very heavy and sometimes I’m afraid I cry more then I laugh. I’ve been challenged lately to smile and laugh more with my children and husband. I don’t always know how to lay aside the burdens of this broken world and relax, but I am grateful for His grace and mercy. 🤍 It’s my daily challenge to choose joy even when I’m surrounded by pain.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration to me. You’ll never know what kind of encouragement your words are.
    🤍kim

    1. I feel at a loss for words. You are living a life that many admire and even idealize, but few of us have the courage to attempt. My heart reaches to bless, affirm, and strengthen yours. Your family is on holy ground. May the Lord sustain you! ❤

  46. Hey, Happy Birthday! What’s your secret to raising children awesome enough to make breakfast? 👍😉 I’m a few years behind you, but you set the standard for 38th birthdays pretty high! Lol

    I’m actually a cynic of the blogging craze. Yours is one of two that made it through my merciless filter to “Subscribe”. Though some variation of this has been said dozens of times, you are real and funny and that’s what keeps me coming back. Your skill with words sure doesn’t hurt anything either!

    I comment here under another name with varying frequency. And no, I won’t be beguiled into disclosing it. It is my “Precious” that gives me that necessary state of invisibility. #LordoftheRings

    What do you and I have in common? Lacking a real life friendship this has some guesswork in it… We overthink EVERYTHING. That also fits as one of my regrets. How often I have wished for a mind that was stimulated by growing peas, and recipes, and community news. For some reason I tend toward deep and broody and controversial to the point that I get tired of my own thoughts. 🤷‍♀️ (If that makes sense, you’re as messed up as me.. Ha!)

    My house is a Cape Cod nestled among trees at the base of a mountain. No doubt that stirred cozy images that are edited of all real life. We really like it here, but we have as many unfinished projects and family messes as anybody else.

    This has to set a record for the number of “birthday gifts” you’ve ever received… 😂

    1. “Awesome enough to make breakfast…” Haha. This blesses my socks off. You are right. My big secret – which I don’t share with many people – is: Give a child a hot breakfast, he’ll eat for a day (and show up hungry the next). Teach a child to cook, and he’ll feed the world. I love when my bad mothering comes back to bless me where I don’t deserve it. I always wanted to be one of those five star mothers who cook for the family every morning, and though I certainly have my mornings (enough for the kids to look back on with fondness someday), I can never pull off a winning streak for long. On the upside, they make a mean omelette and a good bowl of oatmeal and some killer breakfast wraps from leftovers. #loseraward

      I’m overthinking again. Hehee. Believe me, I am at LEAST as messed up as you – it all made perfect sense and sounded like home. Thank you for giving me the giggles. Bless you.

  47. One series of blogs that I always remember is the series about SAD and depression. That and “When I had bronchitis and he had pneumonia.” 😃 Which kind of describes why I like your blog.

    I’m glad you are 38 and I hope you live to be at least twice that age. I personally am shooting for 100, so maybe you should live a little longer than twice 38, just so I have good reading material till closer to the end. Yeah, definitely.

    May your 38th year be a year of deep connection and rest as a daughter of your Heavenly Father!

    1. Too funny, Julie. I am still waiting to see if the bronchitis and pneumonia epic makes the cut for my upcoming book. 🙂 And “closer to the end?” Bwahahaha. Can you and I try to end up in the same nursing home someday? I would greatly enjoy raising cain there with you.

      Thank you for your lovely blessing. ❤

  48. A house in Spain or Italy sounds lovely, but I’d love to backpack through Europe and see the storied historical churches. And the craters in France from WWI. And Venice and Florence and the Vatican. It would probably take 5 years to travel everywhere I want to go.

    I always look forward to reading what you have to say because I love who you are. God gave you a gift of insight and gentleness and humor. ^^I was going to start with one gift and now the sentence doesn’t work. But I’d rather keep writing than press the little x button on my phone.

    ❤️❤️❤️

  49. Happy birthday, Shari.
    I don’t recall meeting you, but my daughter has I believe, your sister being her godmother. ☺️Abbey often talks about the year she went to OH to a lodge that sat beside a lake for a family reunion with lots of people she didn’t know.

    I have enjoyed your blog for some while, probably my husband would have more in common with you in respect to words and writing, he also has a blog.

    Your blog has been a bright spot this past year with all the COVID-19 upheaval. We are in Peru and have had no visitors here since January and no English speaking, church family here since March. So we have had ample opportunity to grow our relationships with the local people.

    I hope number 38 can be a blessed year. God is so wonderfully good to us, even when we don’t act like it sometimes. Keep writing and keep hanging on to God’s promises.

    Also, chocolate is the answer to most of a woman’s troubles. ☺️

    Stephanie

    1. Aw, I don’t think either that we’ve ever met in person, but I definitely know who you are! ❤ I’ve loved the time I got to spend with Abbey, and collaborating with Shawn while he worked at CLP was a great gift. One thing I always think about regarding you as a couple is your tradition of celebrating month-anniversaries. So awesome. I greatly admire your choice to move to Peru – I can only imagine how Covid shook things up. I wish you courage and joy and divine companionship as you carry out your calling there.

  50. Happy belated birthday! I’ve been a silent reader for several years & thought now is a good time to comment. I enjoy your blog & love to read & have read quite a few of the books you’ve recommended over the years. I have many favorite authors -Lisa Genova is probably at the top though. I am a 42 yr old Mom of 6, our oldest has a disability, that is a childhood dream in a way… I wanted to work with people with disabilities, ya know like a 9-5 job, God has a sense of humor & allowed me to do it 24/7.😅 There’s many blessings with the trials! God is good. We live in an old 2 story home that was built in the 1800’s. I am hosting a brunch today & hoping there will be leftovers for supper.😉

    1. God’s sense of humor has gotten me in trouble a few times too. 😉 But all for the good. Thank you for this snapshot of your life. I’m proud of you for working in great reading material in the middle of what I’m sure must be a busy life, with many demands on your time and attention. Blessings to your family, and especially to your oldest child!

  51. Happy Birthday, Shari! I remember when you were born. We have a son who is 38, born October 1, 1982. I remember comparing birth experiences with your aunt Lois, who also has a son born that fall of ’82. It has been so much fun to read your blog – either I laugh until I cry or else I am crying because you’re writing about real life that is very hard sometimes. I am reading Life in a Jar The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer. I would like to talk to Irena Sendler, Anne Frank and Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom. I love your lists of books for children and adults. Have a beautiful Birthday! Thank you for writing. – Dawn Harshbarger

    1. I remember playing with that son when I was a child, and my mother telling me I would have had his name if I had been a boy! 🙂 It’s been a long time since I saw your family though. Thank you for writing this to me… I like to “see” you laughing and crying – I hope God brings you great joy and comfort in all the places you need it most. ❤

  52. Happy birthday Shari, I really enjoy your writing. The things we share are the state and county of the US. I feel so privileged to actually know this blogger who so many people say they have never met. What a blessing! Something you don’t know about me is I love bookwork, the number kind, not the word kind. And I miss my mothers so much since I have retired. Gladys

    1. Dear Gladys – I am equally privileged to know you. ❤ I’m so happy that if you HAD to give up delivering babies, you chose to do it at the same time that I gave up conceiving them, so that we are even. I wouldn’t want to deliver without you. Haha. Love you lots.

      1. Now it’s my turn to come out of the woodwork. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for several years, not sure when I was introduced to it. I love your candid way of writing about life, the good times and the hard times. Your way with words is a gift, thank you for using it to bless others! There’s a few things I would love to ask you/ talk to you about, but not on a public platform such as this. A conversation over a cup of coffee would be wonderful!
        A long time ago (maybe 05 or 06, not sure which year) Faith Builders Chorale gave a program at our church (Greene County Mennonite) in TN and you and Ryan stayed at our house for the night. 😊 I don’t remember much about it and I don’t blame you if you don’t remember at all 😂 o, random remembrance, you needed to plug your computer into a phone jack for dial up to check email!!
        We share the same birthday and anniversary months. My birthday is the 12th and I’ve got 9 years on you… (38 seems young, really 😉) our anniversary is the 23rd.
        God bless you with a wonderful year!

  53. Happy birthday! I have been reading your blog for some time! I think I’m related to your husband somehow, if, indeed, his grandma was a Stoll. I don’t often plan for supper. I live alone and when I get hungry I think, hmmmm what is in the fridge that sounds good. 🙂 Actually I do cook for myself and often have leftovers for days on end. I appreciate what you share!

    1. That would be exactly my style if I lived alone! On the rare meals when I’m the only one here, I love the simplicity of two fried eggs and an apple with peanut butter – or a bowl of leftover soup – or a cup of great yogurt. So easy.

      You are right! Ryan’s grandmother was Dorothy Stoll Zook. That’s fun that you’re related to him. Thank you for commenting.

  54. Happiest of birthdays to you! We don’t know each other but I love following along on your blog and I love your sense of humor and you encourage me often! Keep the posts coming! Oh and I live in mexico, in case you ever need another idea of where to go for your next adventure trip. 😉

  55. Happy Birthday! My baby is turning one today too, so there were banana nut muffins for breakfast, with more festivities to follow. 🙂 I hope yours is full of wonder and light.

    I’ve known who you are for ages, but I really remember you best from hearing your story of depression and hope in your dad’s class at FB, winter term ‘13. Your eyes danced and your boots were adorable and your picture of your son at the end of the culvert caught me in the solar plexus. That picture was a material vision of faith for me in a very black time.

    I’ve followed your blog since then, and it’s fascinating and beautiful to watch you walk and evolve and talk through all the Stuff. Grace is real, and your words of humor, struggle, and ordinary days are deeply satisfying. ❤️

    1. This melts me. I like you so much. Thank you for following along for so long, and having such delicious things to say. Pretty sure you’re a kindred soul, but I did not remember that we were actually in the same room once upon a time. I hope that time will come again. Love – ❤

  56. Happy Birthday!

    A memory we both share are running around Maranatha Bible school as little girls.

    A random fact about me. I live in the heart of NYC with my husband and little son and couldn’t be happier. City life brings me so much joy!! I love all the different cultures, food, smells etc.

    1. Hi Misty! My best memory with you is of hanging onto your arm for dear life while your father took us for my first airplane ride. I was TERRIFIED. And thrilled. I’m so happy you are living in the city! That feels like the right fit. Whenever I visit one, I want to put down roots and stay.

  57. I haven’t had a birthday yet this year-it’s kind of close to Christmas. One year my friends threw a mini birthday celebration for me in the summer 😁 I recommend you do that for a “December birthday friend!”💞 Birthday blessings 🌸

    1. My daughter has a December birthday, and she would love a midsummer celebration! She thinks it takes sooooo long for her birthday to come around, partly because there’s not another gifts time to break up the year – she gets it all together in December. 🙂

  58. Happy late birthday!

    I have enjoyed reading your blog for several years. Several things stick out to me including winter and its effects on your mental state- I can relate!
    Another thing I appreciate is the way you share respectfully and yet honestly about marriage. What a wonderful hard blessing it is and it is ok to say so?!!
    We are at a similar place in life, I think, as I will be 38 in February, married 15 years tomorrow and have children just slightly younger than yours.
    I hope you had a great day

  59. Happy birthday, Shari! I miss you. I stalk your blog, but I’d rather have a chat with you in your kitchen. Or in mine. Will you come to Lancaster soon?

    1. Hey hey! So good to hear from you – Thank you, Kristin. Was it just last year that we sang that so-lovely music side by side? I would love to catch up with you again. My husband doesn’t want to travel at Christmas because of Covid. 🙁 But I would love to reach out the next time we come your way. ❤

  60. I’m actually going to comment which is just so strange! I’m one of those creepy people that lurk in the shadows, only coming out to read new posts, then slink silently back into the darkness. Hmm. Maybe now you can see why I never comment. 😏 I live in the great white north with the neighbor boy, whom I have married (after much heated words about the lack of creativity in doing exactly that) and our two rascally children. I am never ever bored. Our little house is tucked in for the winter under an incredible blanket of glittering white snow. We have big windows to welcome the sunshine in, lots of white walls (ha, does any mother have white walls? Mottled would be more accurate.) Anyway it’s bright and light in here, with lamps in the windows and candles burning. I have a regret to share! We were kind of late for our wedding. Like who even does this without having a calamity or second thoughts? Us apparently. I always feel like I missed out on part of our wedding by sliding in there late and quickly having a wardrobe malfunction yet. Anyway, happy birthday to you for yesterday. I’ll slink back into the snowy darkness now.

    1. Creepy and slinking, huh? 😉 Well, I’m so glad you popped out of your burrow to say hi. Your home sounds incredibly cozy and homey – probably because I called northern Minnesota home for the first 11 years of my life. I loved snow then. Not so much now. Sunshine? Always. And part of my heart always longs for the North. But maybe I am longing for the incredibly sweet days of childhood, the joyful faith and the carefree innocence.

      Your wedding story is hilarious – I would love to see a bloopers movie including those scenes. Thanks again for introducing yourself.

  61. Happy Belated Birthday! And I hope the year ahead is one of the best yet!! I also have a November birthday and am loving the 40’s. Once we were privileged to host your dad overnight while he was speaking at our church and he spoke so fondly of you all. Another time we had the privilege to hear both of your parents share at Minister’s Week at SMBI. I hope our paths cross someday!.

    1. Thank you, Sylvia! My husband and I were talking this fall about the good things of moving toward 40 – a sense of purpose and identity and peace that you can’t get to at 20. At least we couldn’t…

      And I like hearing about connections to my parents. Thanks for saying hi!

  62. Hi Shari. You have me wondering why I don’t comment occasionally – probably because if I want to comment, I overthink what I want to say and then choose silence, rather than diminish the thought or feeling. You are one of very few bloggers that I subscribe to and I am often challenged, encouraged or amused. Thank you for honoring your husband and calling us to that. I turned 40 in January and have seven living children, both of which still surprise me. Through a writing challenge, a few good friends, and a series of events that still has me shaking my head, I recently signed a publishing agreement with CLP for a children’s story. I could write a mini chapter about how insecure I feel about the general public reading something that I wrote and how I admire you courageous bloggers. But a chapter might require a title which is my least favorite part of writing. Cheers to you on the upcoming book and that splendid title. May 38 surprise you with much joy. I think it was very generous of you to share your birthday time with your readers.

    1. Congrats on the book contract! How exciting! Titles are one of my favorite parts of writing. 😉 But you made me laugh about the mini chapter. Insecurity, overthinking, and silence are familiar opponents for me – I fight them daily, and I often lose.

      Thank you for your lovely words. Best to you!

  63. Happy birthday Shari! I too have a great love for words. Both reading and writing. I am 56, and I very recently started my own blog, southerngardencottage.com. Writing – this is the fulfillment of a life long dream.

    I admire the honesty in your blogs – the raw, the real, the good times and the hard times. Wishing you and yours a great year ahead!

    1. I just popped by your blog – it’s very pretty! and loved your porch story especially. What a beautiful makeover! I’m happy you have found your dream of writing. So therapeutic. Thanks for stopping by!

  64. I really like Baillie’s book, too. Generally I am not a fan of “manufactured” prayers, but Baillie inspires you to pray your own.
    Our son was on phenobarbital for a short time when a small baby thirty-six years ago and it was liquid. Just squirted it in with a syringe. Too bad they didn’t do that for you. Green applesauce day after day would not be fun. (For child or mom.)
    May you have a lovely year with no green applesauce!

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean – until this book, I would have said I didn’t find it easy to connect with written prayers. Maybe I just hadn’t found the right ones.

      I am quite unhappy to realize that all my childhood griefs related to medicine could have been simplified after all. Hehee. Well – Hoping it built character, if not a love for squashed apples.

  65. Happy Birthday, Shari! Here’s hoping the next year is one of warmth, love, and many good memories being created.

    I’m another of those silent blog stalkers who lurks in the shadows–enjoying, but never commenting. I think two of my favorites were a series to/about older singles. My older single friends and I had numerous lively discussions based on those posts. 🙂

    I live in an old trailer that used to be two old trailers until some resourceful fella joined the two of them up to make a double wide of sorts. It looks rather “redneckish” from the outside, but is nice and spacious on the inside. My two babies are sweetly sleeping, the heat pump is running and running, and my clock is ticking in a cozy sort of way. This is one of my favorite parts of the day.

    1. I am getting creeped out by all these stalkers. 😉 Just kidding. Thanks so much for saying hello. I loved the moment in your cozy home, and I wish you bundles of warmth and happiness as you care for those you love.

  66. Happy birthday! You share the day with my sweet 3 year old who God so lovingly dropped in our lap. I love your blog but am a silent stalker..
    Many a day I have wished I could visit with you.. I knew your husband growing up. A few things in common: foster care, a son who experienced boys camp, miscarriage, and church leadership. Blessings on 38,

    1. We don’t have any connection that I’m aware of except that you know my husband Tom from MBS days!

      It is a long-standing tradition among the Schrocks to play the Boss game, but I haven’t caught on very well so I’m Not the Boss 98% of the time. Once, early in marriage, I set an alarm for an unearthly hour so that I could win, but now I value sleep over Boss status. Besides, of all the bosses I could choose, Tom is a very good one. 😊

      One of my favorite hobbies is doing home renovations, preferably without spending much… which is another reason I love having Tom around!

      I’ve enjoyed your blog for many years now, so thanks!

      And a happy belated birthday to you!

      1. Oh yes – Tom was a great kiddo. Haven’t seen him for years, and I’m sure while I wasn’t looking he turned into a great man. 😉 His family is very dear to me. What I always think of with you as a couple was your adorable pregnancy announcement, with the bikes if I remember right…? So beautiful and creative. And I can never be Boss often enough either. Too many other things percolating in that brain… at least, that’s my excuse. Could just be that I like sleeping in and forgetting things.

        Thanks for commenting. I’m so glad you’re here. ❤

    2. Ryan remembers you and your husband! How sweet that I get to share a birthday with your daughter.

      Those are huge things that we share, Jean – very painful things, and I would love a chat someday. Let me know. 😉 May the Lord pour out peace and healing – unless He already has long ago – in which case, may He break open a ministry opportunity that allows your history to give grace and hope to others. ❤

  67. Wait, weren’t we going to write a children’s book together back in our teenage years? You write, me illustrate?! 🤣 So excited that you went on to put your dream to practice and are writing your book. I eagerly wait to read it. Your wit and artistic use of words has always been one of my favorite things about your writings. That and how deeply I can often connect with your wrestlings. Now that we’ve both lived some life past those (dark 🤔) teenage years I would sure love to sit with you and talk.
    Happiest of birthdays to you! May it be anything but plain and boring. 💚

    1. Happy birthday, Shari! I know I’m a few days late on this reply, so I wouldn’t blame you if you choose not to reply. 🙂 You don’t know me and I’m one of those “non-commenters” on blogs. (Maybe I should comment more. 🤔) I really enjoy your blog posts, tho… the brutal honesty, vulnerability… thank you for sharing yourself in that way, rather than presenting a polished exterior.

      About me: I attended FB teacher’s events about five years and loved being in the area, so I know a wee, wee bit about northwest PA. I am a PA girl turned Ohioan, after marrying my Ben two years ago. I have one charming little girl, who had a febrile seizure about a month ago… I can only vaguely imagine how terrified your mother must have been over repeated seizures. I love to read; my current favorite author is Jamie Langston Turner. I also love works by C.S. Lewis, Lois Lowry, and…. many others. Supper tonight was toasted cheese sandwiches for the road, so nothing amazing… but I love making my husband curry chicken and naan bread… and Saturday evenings are always for soft pretzels.

      Blessings on the year ahead… As you follow God first of all… And invest your marriage, your family, in so many others.

      May your next birthday party be in-person and mask-free.

      1. Hi Laura! Oh, I’m still here – a) I promised, b) I definitely know you a little now, 😉 and c) I truly want to. So. Thanks for writing. ❤

        One of my sons had a freak febrile seizure years ago – much more severe than mine were as a baby – Think thrashing for several minutes and then unresponsive. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen my child go through; I thought he was dying. But thank God, he had no lasting effects from it that we could see. And he never had another! I hope that will be true for your daughter as well.

        Your authors and meals sound scrumptious. And your blessing at the end brings me hope and joy. Amen!

    2. Eeek! I’m sitting on a children’s book manuscript too, done with my friend Lana who paints adorably, but no dice on a publisher yet. I’ll do my next one with you! 🙂 😛 I forgot about that dream!

      Thank you so much, Rachel. Your words are precious to me, and join many memories I treasure with you. I think too we’ve grown quite a lot since the old days, and I want to hear about that journey of grace in person someday. ❤ Love you.

  68. Years ago, my family visited Jim and Marj in MN (relatives of yours, I believe) and we children got to eat lots and lots of plain ripple potato chips (some kind of windmill brand?) I still love them!! 🙂 Happy Birthday, Shari! You’re one of my favorite bloggers! Although I I will confess I don’t read many. 🙂

    1. Yes! That’s my mom’s brother, my uncle Jim and his beautiful first wife. I have no memories of her – she passed when I was a toddler, but my sister is named after her. Thanks for your kind words, Doris! Take care and keep eating those plain ripples. Best of all.

  69. Shari, please pick me to be your neighbor in Italy, ok? Please please please and I’ll make you an espresso every day.
    You know all the things about me, and have been such a champ for me for so many years. Do you remember when you brought coffee and we talked a whole evening the first time I was here for Winter Term? You initiated that because I’d never have asked for it.
    I never knew you had seizures. Scary. But clearly it didn’t hurt your brain. Or your big heart. Love you so much!

    1. You’re on. ❤ I’ll learn how to make cheese, and between espresso and artisan bread and grapes and sunshine, we should have a recipe for a great life. I’d forgotten I brought coffee but I remember the talk. It’s always been so good. Thank you… I love you too, my dear.

  70. Happy Birthday, Shari! I’m amazed that I’m coming out of the woodwork to publicly comment. My style is to email you every year or two when I can’t keep my mouth shut (Tee-hee, I frequently have things to say, but timidity with cyberspace…well, the struggle is real).

    Two things stand out in my mind: mentoring group meetings in dear Sharon’s apartment years ago and the email found in my inbox February 2020. God sees–and often heals through His people. Thank you.

    May our God who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” bless your year.

    P.S. I came thiiiiiiiis close to emailing you instead of leaving a comment.😆

    1. Hello dear! If you had caved and emailed me instead of commenting publicly, let’s just say you wouldn’t have been the only one. Wink. But still – I’m SO glad you made yourself do it this way. I’m all about (other) people conquering the things that make them nervous. Your words are always lovely.

      I still have good memories of those mentoring days, though I was as green as the grass. All my thoughts of you are tinged with joy. ❤

  71. I started following your blog several years ago when yours was one of two blogs my wife – yes, I’m a man – suggested I follow. I have continued to follow them because I find them worthwhile reading. Also I am a friend of Ryan’s from FB days so this blog allows me to keep up with his family a bit. You and I were at MBS together, sort of. I was there as a student and you were an “instructor’s kid”. Not counting an email I sent Ryan several years ago about something you shared in your blog, I have been a silent follower until now. I thought this would be a good time to make my presence known. You folks are in my prayers. May you continue to sense God’s presence and goodness. -James Swartz, husband of Kathryn

    1. Hi James, I remember you from MBS days, and was later surprised to see you popping up as Ryan’s friend, though that was also long ago. Thanks for saying hello – I always enjoy Kathryn’s comments here too. We appreciate the blessings and kind words. “Worthwhile” is a word I will claim with pride (and a good dose of humility of course, of course). Thanks for reading. 🙂

  72. Happy birthday Shari!
    I have never met you, (though I once had a dream about you); we are not close to the same age, we have no history together, we are not in the same season of life – in short, we really have nothing in common. You even say you would live in the city over my absolute zeal and passion for country living and homesteading.
    But vulnerability has a way of drawing souls together and that is what keeps me coming back. I’m even one of those crazy people that has clicked my way through your whole blog, from front to back;) probably done it twice now. (I need something to read when I’m endlessly rocking babies at night lol but it’s not that bad;))
    When I think of you, I remember your extreme kindness to me at a time when I could hardly be kind to myself and was too entrenched in the season to talk about it much. You took the words that bubbled out of me in desperation one night and you gave me a safe space to share them. Then you gave me a kick where I needed it most.
    I know, I know, you’re going to say it wasn’t you but I’m still grateful!
    Blessings ❤

    1. It wasn’t me.
      Hahahaha just had to say that so I didn’t make you a liar.
      Aw, thanks for these words. I enjoyed connecting with you too, though somehow the thought of you clicking back through all those posts makes me feel APOLOGETIC for all those wordy-words. But if they helped you through a dark night, okay. 😉 Praying blessings, grace, joy, for you and your lovely family.

  73. Happy belated birthday, first of all! Hope it was wonderful, despite it being devoid of all personality. (So is 24, by the way!;)
    I will introduce myself by mentioning two things I can do that many people CAN’T do, and 2 things I can’t do that many people CAN do…
    1. I can flick some of my fingers backward.
    2. I can roll my tongue.

    1. I can’t snap my fingers.
    2. I can’t blow bubbles with bubblegum.

    Your turn!!:)

    1. One of my foster daughters was double-jointed in her index finger, so that she could touch its nail to the tip of the second finger and form the two into quite a nice circle. She was very proud to find I was impressed with this, and my other children quite put out to find they couldn’t manage it. It’s a good skill. 😉

      I wonder how many people in your life have said to you, “I’m SURE you can blow bubbles. Just TRY!” Which is kind of like telling an introvert to just GLOW a little more, CHAT and SCHMOOZE and LOOSEN UP in a crowd. Eeek.

      Thanks for commenting! Best to you in your learning and unlearning experiences. 😉

  74. Happy belated birthday! I never met you but we both had a son at a boys camp/ranch so that was something we had in common. 38 was the year I had my last baby! That was 11 years ago. Christmas Carol Kauffman and Laura Ingalls Wilder are some of my favorite authors. The book Vera’s Journey is a real inspiration to me how she beat the odds inspite of becoming deaf. etc. And how she untiringly served her family and church. I love your blogs & your humor and wit & would love to meet you in person some day! Love from Texas!

  75. Love this! I prefer ages ending in 0 and 5 so twice a decade I get to be happy. I do NOT like ages ending in 4s or 9s.
    Something unique about me? I love public speaking. =) It feels really unusual to be a Mennonite woman who loves it; I certainly haven’t met very many, although there are a few around.
    I have come through some pretty intense trauma therapy in the last few years, and it has really changed my perspective on life. Right now my goal is speading mental health awareness in informal ways, although I hope to be able to speak about it in more formal settings in the next 5 years. Yes, presenting at REACH is a dream of mine.
    Also…I want to make a book list to read for 2021. What are your top 5 reccommended reads for me? Okay, make it 10 if you can’t narrow it down that far. One of them should be one about trauma, mental health, depression, grief, etc. =)

    1. “Twice a decade I get to be happy” is really funny to me. Good line. I’m delighted to see the empowering that I hear you describing: learning about things you didn’t know before, educating others, speaking out, and getting passionate about bringing healthy change. This is awesome.

      Your book question is a good one! I was hoping to post about this soon, so I’ll save the long list, but in doing some hunting for resources I’ve found some AWESOME books on mental health and happiness issues. Top of my list right now are “Margin” by Dr. Richard Swenson, and “Lost Connections: why you’re depressed and how to find hope” by Johann Hari. Highly recommended! More soon, if all goes well…

  76. I know, I’m a full week late. Happy belated birthday!
    We have in common….your sister! Kind of. I had the privilege of working overseas with your sister for a few years, and we developed a friendship that I fully expect to last a lifetime! I got to meet some of your family over there, and I think you’ve met some of mine…and I read your blog because your words so often remind me of many fabulous conversations and memories with your sister. 😉 Maybe sometime we’ll actually meet, but for now I’ll just keep enjoying your words!

  77. I am late too, and do not need a comment in return. Happy birthday, despite the somewhat nondescript age. Your birth was important to your mother no matter how many years ago, and you are still noticed and important to all your family and friends, so those 38 years are all important. If they had been cut short, many would be grieving. I don’t remember how or when I found your blog. But I definitely keep coming back because of your honesty and vulnerability. Besides that we are not far apart in age, we’ve been married about the same length of time, (6-12-04) some of our children are near the same age, (14, 13, 11, 9, 6, 4, 9 months) I love your perspective (I am older {40} but you are more mature), and I like your energy. I don’t always agree with what you say, but I respect you and admire your heart for children and your fierce devotion to your own people, whether they are your family, friends, church people, etc.

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