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

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Travis
10 months ago

Two more years. How is the savings coming. #Giza

Wendy Zook
10 months ago
Reply to  Travis

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 ????

10 months ago

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.

Blessedabundantly
10 months ago

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 ????

Rose Brubacher
10 months ago

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!

Rose Brubacher
10 months ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

I forgot about the face slime! ???? Yes, another Rejuvenate Retreat would be fun!

Lonita
10 months ago

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.

Janet Rodes
10 months ago

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.

Wendy
10 months ago

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

Emily Miller
10 months ago

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.????

Ruthie Schrock
10 months ago

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”?

Becca
10 months ago

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

RAH
10 months ago
Reply to  Becca

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?

Rae
10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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!

10 months ago

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.

Janelle
10 months ago

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!

Danette Martin
10 months ago

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.

cabincreeklogging
10 months ago

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

10 months ago

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

Julie Martin
10 months ago

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”!

Amy Engbretson
10 months ago

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.

10 months ago
Reply to  Amy Engbretson

Ok, Shari is supposed to reply to the comments but your comment about dogs and the PS totally made me laugh out loud! ????

Anita
10 months ago

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

K George
10 months ago
Reply to  Anita

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…

Marlese Anderson
10 months ago

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?

Marlese Anderson
10 months ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

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.

Wendy Smith
10 months ago

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!

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago
Reply to  Regina

I need to add an oops and a shame on me! I mentioned that my youngest came two years later but I failed to mention that she was born on November 17th!

Maryann
10 months ago

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!

10 months ago
Reply to  Maryann

Happy birthday Maryann!

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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

Doris Martin
10 months ago

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???)

Ruthie Fisher
10 months ago

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. ????

Ina
10 months ago

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.

Marilyn Eby
10 months ago

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!

10 months ago

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? 🙂

Marlene K Graber
10 months ago

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!

Jewel
10 months ago

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!

Jane Weaver
10 months ago

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!

Emma
10 months ago

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!

Susan Fisher
10 months ago

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! 🙂

Emily
10 months ago

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!

Maribeth
10 months ago

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!

10 months ago

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. ❤️❤️❤️

Deb
10 months ago

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!????

Rhonda
10 months ago

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!

Louise Zook
10 months ago

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.

Faith
10 months ago

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.

Jean Zook
10 months ago

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 ????

Jean Zook
10 months ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

You’re so welcome! ❤????

Bethany
10 months ago

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 ⚘

Beth
10 months ago

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! ????

Kim
10 months ago

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

Lucy Halteman
10 months ago

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… ????

Julie Glick
10 months ago

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!

Rebekah
10 months ago

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.

❤️❤️❤️