top of page
  • By Barb (Edtl) Shelton

8 Sayings That Have Helped Shape My Life

At mile post 66 on my journey through life, I can look back and see several sayings that have been significant road signs along the way. They’ve been instrumental in defining my values, honing my perspectives, and impacting how I relate to people.

It will become obvious shortly that I have more to say about some of the sayings than I do about others. Just one reason for this:  I had more to say about some of the sayings than I did about others. 😁

Embarking on the scenic route...


“The fragrance lingers

in the hand of the one who

gives the rose.”


I messaged a gal asking if she planned to be at church the next morning, hoping to connect with her there. She responded that she wasn’t feeling good, so she wouldn’t be going. I wrote that I would pray for her, and hit send, but then thought “Why not pray now?” So I wrote a quick prayer… 

“Lord I lift my dear sister to You and ask that You would draw her close to You, under the warm and gentle “shadow of Your wing” where there is no darkness, but only soft light, healing, peace, rest, and refreshment. Lord, whatever is ailing her, would You wash it away? Renew her spirit, her mind, her soul, and her body, and let her feel Your love and presence! In Your name I pray, amen!” 

Guess who was blessed, refreshed, encouraged, and more at peace after praying that? ... Yep! ME! Hopefully she was, too!

I've found that when I encourage people, I get a double blessing – I myself am encouraged by the words I just gave out, and by the mere fact that I encouraged them.


“Wherever you are,

be all there.”

Jim Elliot

If ever there was a generation in need of this advice, it is this one. We have amazing technology that in some ways connects us better. But it can come with much-diminished in-person disconnect.

Case in point: How often have we seen people at a restaurant table connecting with their devices, but not with each other?

There's much more I could say about this, but I will save it for an article I'm writing called "The Diminishing Art of Conversation." For now, I’ll just let those words – "Wherever you are, be all there" – sink in.


He drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle that took him in!

From the poem "Outwitted”

by Edwin Markham

Time-travel with me a few decades back...  First stop: Christ the King Catholic School, fourth grade. 

“Wanna spend the night tonight?” Cindy (name changed to protect the guilty) asked me. I was thrilled as getting invited to do anything was a rare occurrence for me. She went on, “I already asked Judy, and Sandy, but neither of them could come, so that’s why I’m asking you." Gut-punch to my heart.

The senior prom was no different. I was actually the Prom Chairman, but that didn’t make it any more likely that I would get asked to go. I was really hoping that “Tom“ would ask me, but he ended up asking “Sue.“ Sue is who Stan wanted to ask, but she was already being taken by Tom. So guess who Stan asked... I was always "#2" – or 3, or 4...  And always knew it! 

By the time I graduated from high school, our family had moved eleven times. Dad kept getting more education (college via night school) which enabled him to get better jobs – to better support his growing family, which maxed out at 7 kids.

So every time I went to a new school, I was “the outsider.” It was hard cracking into twosomes – they’d be called “BFFs” today – and into long-established groups or cliques.

My obnoxious personality, along with my low social skill set as a first grader...  a fourth grader...  an eighth grader...  a high school senior...  a freshman at junior college...  made it hard for me to make friends.

My impression of myself as being "unworthy to be included" did not fade as I got older. 

There were many different meetings and groups through the years that I felt a keen sense of not being included in. Jealousy wasn’t a problem for me; it was the pain and grief of being left out. As many of you know, this pain is awful! 

And people often did not take care to not mention parties or meetings they were going to that I wasn’t included in.

But God used all this to get me to a place where I became sensitive to the feelings of others in the same lonely boat I was in. I decided that I would not let this happen to others so far as I could help it. *I* would be the one to do the inviting; to have meetings that included people.

I may never be as cool as the kids in high school,😉😁😄😃 but I at least share my home and my skills and crafts, and invite people over. Making them feel valued and included is huge group me.


“Give a man a fish,

he eats for a day;

teach a man to fish,

he eats for a lifetime.”

Old Indian Proverb

If you’ve known me for very long, you know that if you want me to do something for you because you don’t know how to do it, I will very likely end up teaching you how to do it!

This is partly because I want you to know how to do it yourself and to have the joy of tackling a new skill. But it’s also partly because I don’t want to do it for you! – at least not on an ongoing basis. 😁


“Not to decide

IS to decide.”

Harvey Cox

Dave to me in the car:  "So where do you want to go for dinner?" 

Me: I don't know, where do you want to go?"  

Dave: "I don't know; I decided last time; it's your turn." 

Me: "I just don't know." 

So if I stay on that track, guess what! Dave will decide, and it may or may not be a place I really want to eat at.

But either way, even though I supposedly didn't make a decision, I actually did make not just one, but two decisions:  1) I decided 

that Dave would decide where we would eat, and 2) that I would not make that decision.

I’ve always had a hard time making decisions. That's why I like buffets, Captain's Plates, and sampler appetizers – they all offer several different options. 

Wikiquotes had something interesting to say about this:

"Somewhere deep down we know that in the final analysis we do decide things and that even our decisions to let someone else decide are really our decisions, however pusillanimous.”

I had to look up pusillanimous, and it means: "Destitute of that strength and firmness of mind which constitute courage, bravery and fortitude; being of weak courage; mean spirited; cowardly"

Hmmm... Okay, well, I never thought of being unable to make a decision about dinner as being cowardly or weak...  but perhaps that’s one advantage of being so pusillanimous! Perhaps “ignorance really is bliss”? Ooooh nooooo!!! Another saying!!!)


“All it takes 

for evil to prevail is

for enough good men

to do nothing.”

Edmond Burke

This saying to be scorchingly true for me. There's soooooo much that could be said about this, especially in our current culture, but I would just challenge you – as I challenge myself – to become more attuned to standing up for good, less attuned to those who would berate you for doing so.

Because remaining silent and inactive is actually as wrong as the wrong itself. 

This dovetails with another saying: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." 

Much is going on – and going downhill – in our world. It’s time to do what we can, as the Lord moves and leads, to get it moving in the right direction instead of just bemoaning it. What a different world we would live in if fewer people did nothing And more did something.


“When you were born,

you cried

and the world rejoiced.

Live your life

in such a way that,

when you die,

the world will cry

and you will rejoice.”

Cherokee Proverb

Throughout my life I have attended the memorial services of numerous people. If they have a sharing time at the service, it becomes clear that the dearly-departed one is – and will be – very missed. 

But I have also known of a handful of not-so-dearly-departed ones who will not be missed. They may have been abusive or just not a kind or “other-focused” person, taking more from the world than what they gave it, messing up and disturbing their corner of it. 

My intent is to live my life in a way that, when I go, all tears will be from missing me, no tears of relief mixed in!  


“Life is a journey,

 not a destination.”

Lynn H. Hough

Being the list-checker-offer that I am, this saying reminds me that life is not all about getting my to-do list done. Although, truth be known, checking off lists is actually a pleasurable activity on said journey for me! 

But opportunities abound to do more good than just check-off to-do's. Even in the midst of all the busyness, we need to “take time to smell the flowers”!

Woops! Looks like you get a BONUS saying! A perfect one to end on...


Share a favorite saying of

yours in a comment!


75 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page