Three stories: #payitforward

Well, I won’t lie – it’s been a hard week, for reasons I don’t want to explain to you. Would you like to be entertained? Here are three snippets that made me laugh.


Dear Stranger in the Thrift Store:

I do not usually bum a diaper off someone I do not know. Thank you for being gracious.

You see, I had moved all of my baby’s diapers and wipes to a different purse, to give to the babysitter on the night I had a date—and I forgot to return them to my shopping purse. So that day in the store when I was smelling whiffs of diaper trouble, and whisked my girl off to the bathroom for a change, I got as far as unfastening everything and assessing the damages when I realized I was completely, entirely, 100% fresh out of options.

Several ideas flashed through my mind, none of them pretty.

Then I remembered you and your little girl playing by the toy section, and how we’d smiled at each other. Thank you for letting me come beg from you, and for refusing my money, and for offering me your wipes too as I turned away. I’m sorry that I smiled and clung to my pride and said I was okay, I’d use the paper towels in the bathroom. They were not as helpful as I’d hoped.

But I will remember you and your kindness. If you ever need one, you know where to come.



I’ve been trying to find new coping strategies for worry.

The other day when something was eating at me I thought I would text it to The Boss, but suddenly wished I could text it to Jesus instead – as a way of forgetting about it and letting it go. So just for the kick of it I typed Jesus into the address line (53787) and wrote my little worries and hit send. I knew the message would bounce right back to me, but I didn’t care. What I didn’t anticipate was what my phone said – in large letters on the left side, JESUS, and on the right side, FAILED.

Not quite the sensation I was going for, but it cracked me straight up.

Since then my husband outfitted me with an extra number by which I can text to Jesus, that only he will ever see. I have been keeping it hot.


I do not usually write here about my speaking engagements, for two reasons. First, it feels like showing off, and second, I don’t have many of them. So if you come here hoping for my opinion of your event, I’m sorry – you’re logging up the wrong tree.


Last year about this time I was preparing to speak at an unusually stressful venue, for me. It was going to be a large audience, both men and women, in a Christian setting so conservative-minded that I figured if I mis-dressed or mis-spoke I might as well build my own coffin and go lie down in it, cuz it was all over.

While packing to go, I dithered about what shoes to wear. I’m not a big shoe person, so it came down to a choice of two pairs: snappy black dress shoes with inordinately high heels, which I had not worn for months – having a faint memory of discomfort associated with them – or black flats with big cream fabric flowers on the toes. I thought with a long skirt, the heels would be the less offensive of the two, so I picked them.

All went well, and I wore those shoes for two long days without mishap, until a week or so after the event when I developed shooting pains in my big toes. Both sides.


So, if you were at the event or if you come from a church that has Opinions on such matters, I thought it would comfort you to learn that I lost two toenails to that wretched experience, and everything your pastor tells you about high heels is true. They are from the devil.

I can’t remember just now if I threw them vindictively into the trash can, or donated them to the thrift store to ensnare a new owner.

Like I said,


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Heather Nicodemus
7 years ago

The 3rd story caused me to laugh out loud ?

7 years ago

Oh Shari, my heart is full of tears and something — encouragement?
My brother in law is dying of cancer. I love the texting idea !!!!
and the shoes! I am so sorry!!!
Do you know that I said I would not work at ‘said conservative’ place because of the ‘stuffy Mennonites’ !!
I hope your toe nails grew back!

7 years ago
Reply to  Brenda W

I know that place too. They’re not as stuffy as they look, are they? And WE definitely weren’t stuffy when we were there together!! I see your comments on here n would love to connect again!

7 years ago

I just laughed n laughed n laughed……

7 years ago

You are the best.blogger.ever.

Rosanna King
7 years ago

it was all good, but the last was the best, and yes, I laughed.

7 years ago

I loved all these stories, but the last one made me laugh extra much because I *might* have been to a *similar* event and *maybe* stressed and worried far more than normal about what to wear.

7 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

But I did feel sorry for your toes! Yikes!

7 years ago

Sister, thank you for your honest confession of wearing those worldly heels. Truly they are not appropriate footwear. Your story confirms my conviction of many years. May I use your story as a sermon illustration?

7 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

I shall be discretion itself.

Me, in 2023, reading old posts ????
1 year ago
Reply to  The Boss

Hysterical! ????

7 years ago

Hilarious this!

7 years ago

So much to love here! Paper towels not as helpful as hoped, Jesus failed!!, but “logging up the wrong tree” is especially exquisite. And now it sounds like the Boss may challenge some inroads the devil has made into the ladies’ footwear at his church! Thanks for the laugh.

7 years ago

Lol…always saving the best laugh for last so we have a grand finish!

7 years ago

Oh, I loved this! Quick question (as my oldest son is always saying)- Who is the only “he” that sees the texts? Jesus or The Boss? Of course Jesus sees everything but is that Who you meant? So curious how a number can be used that won’t say “failed”. But then I’m on the lower end of techie.

7 years ago

Enjoyed hugely, and here’s hoping your next week will have a few happy things…

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