When I was 14 I got my first butterflies. Not monarch or swallowtail, but the internal variety. A high school friend's family was hosting one of their family friend's sons from Alaska for the school year. He was athletic, a wrestler. He liked me, or at least he made me think so. I was enamored.
Ruth and I became good friends in high school. Here we are in 1985 on a spring training trip to Florida with the Southfield Christian School women's softball team. Ruth and I are the fourth and fifth in from the right, my hand on her shoulder. Legendary SCS Coach Ken Brown is on the far right. Great perm!
My parents were not very happy about this situation, understandably. He was 19. And he had issues. Like, my friend's dad learned that this guy was banging a co-worker at Kmart. So, he told my dad this which quickly led to my dad informing me of it and insisting that my acquaintance with this man was over. I had recently turned 15 and my romantic hopes were dashed.
I remember this conversation happening with my dad in our family’s conversion van (the kind with the sweet mini-blinds in the back windows) after a softball game. I thought my dad was so insensitive and careless, when in fact, I now realize how incredibly loving he was being to ban me from this relationship.
Until this point in my life, I really had never felt such intense feelings. That night, I cried for hours and snuck a bottle of syrupy green NyQuil into my bedroom. It was the only logical choice for medicating sorrows in the Shellnut family’s dry home. Seriously, I thought I might drink the whole bottle and be done with the pain. I fell asleep to the intoxicating voice of Alan Almond, the Detroit FM-radio “Pillowtalk” soft rock station host.
I remember thinking, “How will I ever not feel this pain?!” It was so real and awful.
Thank you, Lord, for such good parents, who wouldn’t let their daughter be prey, who protected me from my own ignorance. Thank you for healing the broken-hearted.
To all you parents of teenagers out there—double fist pump on the chest. We get you. Keep it up. Parenting teens is not for the squeamish or weak-at-heart. Take courage, this too shall pass. Stay on your knees. Be consistent. As James Dobson liked to say, "Dare to discipline." Don’t try to be friends first with your child, be the parent they need. One day, they may thank you.
We had a great season in 1985, winning Districts. My high school sports provided excellent character-building experiences, due in great part to the stellar coaches, teammates and parents. I'm standing on the left next to Coach Brown, who was also my high school math teacher. Ruth is at the bottom right.
Softball trinity: left, my awesome dad, Bennie (my biggest fan and personal coach) shaking hands with Coach Ken Brown who's holding our District trophy and Roger Swartz, Ruth's father, who was our first base coach and is an all-around great guy. These men were Messiah-loving husbands and fathers who had a competitive spirit and pushed us to play smarter and harder.
Ruth and I over the Cumberland River in November `21. We have only seen each other a few times since she moved to Nashville a decade ago, but each time we just pick right up where we left off. I'm so thankful for her because I know she will tell me just like it is and we have the best belly laughs together.
Coach Brown and me on 2/11/22 at an SCS alumni dinner. He was inducted into the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008. He recorded 620 career wins in 33 years!
Scott, Bella and I are about to embark on an exciting new adventure! We three are absolutely smitten by this adorable new adventure. His name is Buck. And we are truly in (sigh) puppy love.
Scott meets Buck for the very first time...need I say more?
Last year I learned that one of my 37 paternal cousins has been a breeder of Brittanys for more than 30 years. Scott did not know it yet, but he wanted a puppy. I mean, he knew he wanted one, but I just had to remind him. So for his 55th birthday, I gave him the promise of a Brittany, to train up as a bird dog—a hunting companion.
Fast forward nine months and Buck has been born, just in time for Scott’s 56th. Buck is one of four whelps from his momma Bella’s litter (so sorry, daughter Bella, people just happen to like naming their dogs after both yours and your sister’s name). Our son and his wife are the recipients of the only female of the lot. Buck and Lady will go home with each of us next week.
Bella holds Lady, Jacob and Hailey's liver and white Brittany. We're so excited that we can raise siblings!
Bella and Buck, love at first smooch
So after months of anticipation, we met Buck and Lady in person on January 29. Melt. Puppies are the absolute best. (I love kittens, but I think I love puppies more because they don’t have sharp claws.)
We “oooed” and “aaaahed” over an hour as we got to meet and hold these precious pups. They were just four weeks old and just the absolute sweetest. Instead of trying to describe this meeting, you can watch it. We have decided to document this joyful addition and have created a YouTube channel. Watch for yourself at “The Adventures of Buck the Brittany”. We plan on sharing new content often. Subscribe!
All Creatures Great and Small
As we bask in the joy of getting our first puppy, I think of our Creator and his concern for all creatures, great and small. When I began to study Torah more closely, I realized just how much God cares about their welfare. Here are some of the texts that stand out to me:
“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it." - Genesis 9:4
“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it. ~ Exodus 23:4-5
"If you see your fellow Israelite’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help the owner get it to its feet." If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life. - Deuteronomy 22:4, 6 - 7
Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. - Deuteronomy 25:4
The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. - Proverbs 12:10
Clearly, that we care for animals matters to God. I also want to keep them in proper perspective. On the sixth day, when God made all land animals (aviary and aquatic animals were on day five), he also made humans. After making animals, God saw that they were "good", but after making us male and female (Genesis 1:27) he said that we are "very good". (Genesis 1:25, 31)
He tells us we are made in his image "so that [we] may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Then he blessed us and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, 28)
But in a sin-sick culture, people devalue the things God says are most important, like marriage and family. So it is no wonder that we are not being fruitful and increasing in number. In fact, over the past 50 years, the global fertility rate has halved and half of the world’s countries have fertility rates below replacement level. By 2050 this rate is expected to rise to two-thirds.
In his 2017 article Fewer Babies, More Pets? Parenthood, Marriage, and Pet Ownership in America Lyman Stone says, "Rising pet ownership may be replacing single-motherhood to some extent, but more prominently, young people are pushed by many factors to delay marriage, and so spend more years in singleness, without reliable companionship. As a result, they invest—often expensively so—in a truly reliable companion: a pet."
Stone's use of "truly reliable" in referring to pets reveals a bias. The following two videos reflect a similar attitude. Though irreverent, the interviewer exposes ideas that contradict common sense and good ethics. Note, these are not appropriate for children:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:29 - 31
"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being." - Genesis 9:5
Congratulations, Hailey Spry!
Saturday, February 12, was a milestone day in the life of our daughter-in-law. Hailey has reached the end of her academic training to become a physician assistant. The next phase will be clinical rotations. Marking this transition is a special event called the "White Coat Ceremony". As with many events nowadays, it happened virtually. Our son, Jacob, had the honor of donning her with her white coat before she took the physician assistant oath. Way to go Hailey! And you "coated her" well, Jacob! These two make a great team, supporting each other in their goals and being great encouragers! Hailey is well on her way to becoming a compassionate and knowledgable caregiver.
Scott and I took video as we watched the live-streamed event. We couldn't contain ourselves but the loud exclamations could only be heard in our living room.