What I learned

Oh my word.

There are a LOT of SCARED PEOPLE out there.

This is probably the most flattering selfie I’ve ever taken, so I thought I would share it with you.

One of my regrets with this experiment is that it veered toward “What do you like about my blog and why haven’t you been commenting, hmmmm?” Please know that as I have peace with God and my fellowman I was not trying to solicit compliments or scold you for not appearing sooner. Please.

I was hoping for two comments on that post, and preparing myself for none.


Now listen, here’s a little story.

Once upon a time, I sat in a Bible school class taught by my father. He was talking about how people view other people, and the various inaccuracies and pitholes into which we fall in our assessments of each other.

(Wait, is the word pitfalls? Okay, whatever. ‘Pitfalls into which we hole’ does not. sound. right. Of that I am sure.)

He said, “On a scale of 1-5, where would you rate ME for talkativeness? One is withdrawn, five is gregarious.” The students voted right in class, and every one of them picked four or five. He turned to me. “Shari, how about you?”

I said, “Um. One? maybe two?”

The other students burst out laughing. They knew him only as their professor, and he talked all the time.


What I heard in the past few days very clearly, whether you meant to say it or not, is that

  1. I have been taking you too much for granted. Thank you again for reading and responding to me. I am blessed by your kindness.
  2. We all have fears with putting stuff out there for everyone to see. This was an excellent point and one that I had failed to feel the full weight of. Which takes me back to a) again.
  3. You like it when I reply to your comments. When I do, it relieves some of the pressure you feel from b).

So I hear these things and I’m willing to learn and work with you.

But I also have a few problems. One being that I am that professor’s daughter. I’m actually not a schmoozing kind of person who enjoys working the crowd and being the belle and scattering largess to the populace. I am deeply uncomfortable in that role. At the worst level I feel like I’m – actually, there is no inoffensive word for kissing up to people so that they will like you and flock around you and give you stuff.

I have to live with myself, folks.

I also, sometime, have to spend time living the life that I am blogging about.

It would be an unbearable burden if I needed to comment on all your comments. You do see that, don’t you? Just as if you needed to comment on all my posts. And then if I comment on some, others feel they are being overlooked and what’s wrong with what they said…? I stayed up until midnight last night determined for this once to reply to Every Comment and finally I went to bed in tears because THEY JUST KEPT COMING. It is funny now, but then it was like a panicky game of Whack-a-Mole: reply to one and receive three more. You peoples had a lot to say.

(Please don’t take that wrong. I do not actually see you as moles, and I am quite sure I would like most of you very much. Individually.)

I have to live with myself, folks.

I also have a sense of humor, and when I offer too many replies too kindly I can hear my local people, who are very smart, thinking (not saying, just thinking) “Dude, get over yourself already! What is this, a touch-the-hem-of-your-garment meeting?”

The more I care what you think and say about me, the harder it is to keep my heart fixed on what is true: I am the small and rather foolish property of the Lord Jesus, safe and beloved in Him. How the crowd views me matters very little, and meanwhile my house needs cleaning. If I am going to receive your stars I must also receive your dots: But where I really stand is before the Lord Jesus and my own dearest people, and a few of them are watching anxiously to make sure I am not ruined by admiring strangers.

I am really grateful for your courage in commenting. You sound like lovely people. I will try to show up more, but if I do not reply personally to your comment, can you assume the best? Which is that you spoke like the valuable person you are and I am grateful for your contribution. Thank you.

In the grand scheme of things, it matters very little whether or not you comment on my blog. What does matter is if you are the kind of person who has resolved (by default or by choice) not to open your mouth – to be a consumer and not a producer, to avoid the beauty for fear of the burns, and to admire honesty that you would never imitate.

I am trying to shake you out of silence for that reason.

You are brave kids, now get out there and act like it.



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6 years ago

Haven’t even read it yet but wanted to post quick to make you relax. I’m sure it is a wonderful post.

6 years ago

Comment two; you can relax now. Tears at midnight produced a funny memory from bible school! Sleep good tonight and post again tomorrow(or at least soon). ?

6 years ago

and I am quite sure I would like most of you very much. Individually.

Ok now I read the whole thing. And that part just reminded me a little too much of Bilbo Baggins when he is giving his farewell speech at his birthday party. I feel a little like all the hobbits in attendance and trying to make it come out as a compliment.

6 years ago

That picture…whew! Glad you don’t always look that scary. 🙂 I never comment but I do love reading your blogs and, no, you do not have to reply to this comment- unless you want to tell me what I really wanted to know- what the offensive words are for kissing up to people.
I’m discovering that is much less stressful to leave a scary comment on a blog than what it is to do a character analysis for Mrs. Turpin (Revelation, Flannery O’Connor).

Rosanna King
6 years ago
Reply to  Janice

hint: the name of an animal some preachers refuse to pronounce correctly in church.

6 years ago
Reply to  Rosanna King


6 years ago

Hi Shari. …I can’t remember if I’m a first timer or not…so since I’m horribly honest I didn’t comment on first timers….I really enjoy your blog! Please keep writing….most of the time I just don’t comment for the same reasons you don’t reply to comments….please keep writing….. I live in Canada. .way up north where we have to drive dog sled to the border and rent a car to go to the US…I hope you don’t believe everything you hear…I am very honest tho. .we don’t have dogsleds. .. (you knew I was teasing ) we don’t even have any snow. ..the daffodils are pushing through….anyhow please don’t sit up til midnight anymore ..too stressful. .just write. From your heart. It’s the way we all love to read it. …I don’t even know you. Forgive me for being such a bold second timer… my point is I am real as are most people who read your blog…..it’s OK. Please keep writing! !!?

6 years ago

Preach it, sister!!!!!

Joanna embry
6 years ago

All right. I’m shaken. I’ve been reading the other comments with interest and am just now getting up the nerve to do it myself, for the first ever on any blog.
I discovered your blog approx. two years ago and loved it. One dark time when my children had flu and were puking the night away, I read back to your very first post between bouts. It kept me mostly sane.
We share an anniversary, if I remember right from one of your older posts. My husband and I were married on October 25, 2003. Also I’m a cousin to your sister-in-law, April.
What I love about your blog is your way with words and your refreshing honesty.

Kimberly Glenn
6 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

October is an awesome month for weddings. When we still lived there, we started a yearly tradition (which lasted a year for us) of going out to eat with the October Anniversary bunch. It was Wilbur’s , Ryan L and us. I wish we could still do that and it would be fun to get to know you better.
I enjoy your blog so.much…but rarely comment,because, you know….shyness, etc..:)

6 years ago

Please DONT feel you have to answer every comment every time you post. I understand your desire to do that to encourage the two first-timers you thought would respond, but I personally find blogs that do that– um, where’s my nice word? Can’t find it–nauseating or annoying. Oh, how about laborious or tedious to read? There, those were a little more nice. 😛
Maybe a blogger answers or does not answer every comment according to the purpose of the blog. If it is solely to connect with people, answer away. 🙂
Anyway, wishing you a good night’s sleep without the tears!

6 years ago

After reading this….now I must go back and find the post of which you speak of!?

6 years ago

Your comment-replies are delightful, but there’s no WAY we (or I, at least) expect to you always, or even usually reply! There is, after all, only one of you.

Lovina Baer
6 years ago

Here’s a hug… and please take a nap today! 🙂

6 years ago

Ahahaha! Thanks for a great laugh on this gray morning. The selfie, the whack-a-mole image, and the kissing-up. I might have howled.

6 years ago

Well I’ll put my vote in for liking it when bloggers don’t reply to comments without a good reason — makes the comments sections nicer to read : ) You can’t please everyone so I’m sure you’ll give us readers the benefit of the doubt, that we can well understand you having much better things to do with your 24 hours!

I really like your writing style! Personally I’m often more interested in style than content (authors like Oscar Wilde, Annie Dillard, Swinburne, Thackery, and so on) and you have both. And none of the above write about modern everyday life.

6 years ago

Hey, I might need to try that face. Ha. I don’t even try selfies. Ok. I did once and it scared me off forever. (Maybe. I don’t think I’ll ever try it again. ) I try to reply to all comments on my blog. Because maybe one of my many readers will comment. But I never promise as some bloggers do, to reply to every comment. Horrifying! I don’t doubt you were in tears. The Boss was probably equally distressed, eh? Take care. I love your confessions.

6 years ago

This made me giggle. I enjoy your sense of humor! But please, don’t obligate yourself to answer each comment! And yes, I needed to be shaken.

jeanie martin
6 years ago

So funny. I hate taking selfies. Love writing. Trying to get up the courage to blog. I’m just afraid I’ll go back to the stars and dots thing that I did for the first half of my life….

6 years ago

I think I commented once before, making the connection of being an Oregonian and knowing your wonderful in-laws! ?
I sat here reading through all the first time “commenters”, my heart going out to the ladies who are hurting, hiding, or are overwhelmed with mommying. I’ve been there. Since a major accident four years ago, God has been teaching me SO MUCH about grace! Look beyond what people are doing or saying — what circumstances are they reacting to? My prayer for all of us is that we would daily realize His grace and mercy and that we would then pass it on to ourselves and the people around us!

In other news, I think blogging looks like fun and once I overcome some technical difficulties, I plan to start one! I haven’t thought as far the whole comment thing yet!! ? We have 9 children, with five married, and 11 grands!! And, btw, I don’t like coffee or cats! ?
May your blessings be multiplied and your troubles diminished! ?

6 years ago

Oh Shari, thanks for your words! I am miserable with strep throat and unable to sleep. After getting up to gargle, I remembered a friend saying you had blogged lately, and decided maybe reading would be something I could successfully accomplish if sleeping was not happening. Your last few posts and the comments have me laughing till I cry. That’s all good, but I’m trying not to touch my face, so the tears just have to run.
I forget if it was in a post or comment that you said two children was the hardest for you. For me, last winter with one child was MILES tougher than this winter with two. The personality of the baby makes a big difference.
I am not offended if you don’t reply. I don’t check back to see if you do.

6 years ago

I have enjoyed much mirth as memes have practically leapt to mind, inspired by your picture.

“The men want strings BACK on the coverings???”
“When did that sale end??”
“That moment at Bible study when you realize you forgot your veiling.”
And on.

I’m laughing now…. if Mennonite memes ever become a “thing”, you’ll be a star!!


6 years ago

Fragmented thoughts/possible comments have been running through my mind since your last few posts, though busyness (and fear) kept me from acting on it. 

One was: When this “mole” (me) poked her head out and saw your “most flattering selfie ever,” she rolled over laughing (insert mental picture of mole in this act) and decided that that person was not to be feared.  If anything conquers my fear in relationships, it’s sharing real, genuine, original, catch-you-off-guard humor together.   (Redundant, I know.)

Another fragment was:  It’s beautiful how her posts created a sense of safe community (albeit, via internet) where many “strangers” felt safe enough to respond to her invitation to honesty.  Her responses were warm, encouraging, and unique to each person, not manufactured or gushy.

Fragment the third: She made a nice comment about me!  I blushed when my sister Rhoda Mae mentioned my name, and I blushed even more when she commented back!  And I began to think. Again. Of how absolutely binding shame is.  And fear.  Thinking of the comments I just read on here. And thinkin of my own life. I thought of pursuing a friendship with her many times while I was at FB. But. No. I was absolutely too full of shame.  Especially to initiate it.  That would be a sure way to get rejected. 

Fragment the fourth (building on the third): “Relationship casualties” if it can be called that.  They were the “stillborn” kind of casualty.  Barely had the seeds of friendship been sewn when shame froze it and killed it.  I see these “casualties” dotting my life story.  But I do see little blooms here and there along the way, becoming more frequent and beautiful as the story goes on. 

I didn’t answer your questions directly or entirely…I trust that is ok…  🙂


6 years ago

I’m a reader of your blog. Please keep posting.

6 years ago

I read, and comment occasionally…. I really enjoy your honesty. But please don’t feel like you need to reply back to comments all the time. That would make me feel bad, like I was making extra work for you!! 🙂

6 years ago

Im not scared…I don’t think 🙂 Only not enough time to peck out a msg on a cell phone all the time. But I did want to tell you my little girl liked your video on making bread (because your little girl was then about her age) and begged to watch it many times. That was about a yr ago and I’ve been making that bread recipe ever since. I liked your blog so well I went back to the beginning and read through it about 3or4 post a day. I was sad when I got through it. 🙂 oh and also the T-shirt dresses idea was so incredibly helpful. And the poem God is the keeper of the seasons…I wrote it on a board in my kitchen and when my summer was so crazy with a very fussy baby and four other children under eight and so much work I couldn’t keep up and I’d be biting my hand trying not to cry (weird thing to do I know!) I’d stop and read the poem and take a deep breath and feel better. So thanks for that too. And no I don’t know you but I loved MBS too 04 and 05. Didn’t go with any of your siblings either but I remember your younger brother some. Anyway yup keep writing! You have truckloads of followers. I love to write but I’m afraid no one would read if I blogged. Lol there I AM one of those scared pple 🙂 -Marj

6 years ago

Opps actually your brother John was dean one term I was there but I didn’t take any of his classes and hardly remember him. To be precise 🙂

6 years ago

Oh, how you made me laugh! I absolutely love you, Shari! I like your blog; i’ll keep reading, and if i feel the need, i’ll comment. You may answer, or not. You DO have a life. 🙂

6 years ago

Shari you seem to have created a perpetual energy machine. It’s like the perfect blog storm. You can now give up blogging and sit back and enjoy the comments. Resting on your laurels or your lawn chair while you drink from this seemingly endless ambrosia or iced tea.

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