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  • by Barb Edtl Shelton

Handling the Stingers of Life

When I was five years old, I undertook a mission! I had heard that a bee has only one stinger, therefore, once it stings something, it's unable to sting again. Excited to save the world from future bee stings, I took on a noble, ​​though foolish and futile, cause: To destingerize all the bees I could!!!​​

(I may have also thought this was fun. Not sure. Don't want to know.)

To that end, I found two clothespins and went out to our backyard where we had lots of clover, and therefore lots of bees.

2 clothespins ~ from "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

At this point in my young life, I must not have ​​ever been stung by a bee because I had no fear of bees; I only knew they were capable of ​​stinging.

So, fearlessly, this seemingly sweet little girl (aka me at age 5)...

Barbara Edtl at age 5 / "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

...settled herself down on the clover-laden grass near an unsuspecting bee and began working...

With one clothespin opened up like a jaw, I slowly snuck ​up on a bee, just minding its own pollen-gathering business upon a clover, and stealthily entrapped it in the hole in the clothespin: ​​

1 Clothespin ~ from "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

See the stockade in the lower right corner? I'd never even heard of one of these at this age! (And if you haven't either, Google it. NOT pretty. So maybe don't Google it!) However, the similarity is noteworthy.

I'm sorry, but I don't have any photos of a bee in my clothespinian stockade. But remember that this was 60 years ago! Photos of daily life were seldom taken; mostly just of groups smiling ~ which was a huge improvement from two decades before, when most pictures were of similar groups, but with no one smiling.

Plus, had Mom known what I was doing in the back yard, photographing it would not have been her priority!

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​​So... with the bee somewhat immobilized in my mini-stockade, I began my stingerectomy. This was no easy task, and you can be sure that the bee was not exactly holding still for this procedure!!!

Clothespin tweezer ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

Imagine the challenge my pudgy fingers encountered trying to extract a stinger from a wiggling bee-hiney using a fat-tipped clothespin!

I did manage a few extractions, but my mini-stockade didn't always keep the bees secure, so they sometimes wiggle-buzzed their way out into freedom! Why they didn't sting me upon escaping, I don't know. They were probably traumatized.

A few years later I got my first bee sting, which I'm pretty sure was the culmination of a years-in-the-making "sting ​​operation" by bees aware of my past deeds who wanted revenge. (They evidently hadn't heard ​​​about vengeance being in the hands of the Lord.)

Upon learning that, once a bee loses its stinger, it will DIE shortly thereafter, I felt horrible and halted my bee de-stingering mission.




As in ~ take all the stingers out of anything causing distress: irritations, heartaches, pain, anguish, and feelings of inferiority and overwhelmedness.

But, alas, it's a stinger-filled world, so that won't happen this side of Eternity!

Maria in The Sound of Music even sang about it: "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad..." And her solution was: "I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feeeeeeel soooooo bad!"

I'm glad that thinking about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens worked for Maria, and for the von Trapp kids in that thunderstorm scene, but I needed more...

Because how we handle the stingers we encounter in Life is the difference between life and death for us, in a spiritual way.



Which reminds of the time I went ~ correction, tried to go ~ water skiing, for the first and last time...

My husband, Dave, was an amazing water skier, and on this particular day I decided I should at least attempt to water ski. He was right there in the water with me, encouraging and instructing me step-by-step.

He showed me how to get my arms and legs into the right position... hold onto the handle of the tow rope... pull up my knees at the correct angle to my body... get the skis in proper position.

Water skier  ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

(Just for the record, this is

NOT me. It was just the goal!)

I was ready ~ floating in position just beneath the surface of the water, waiting for the boat to take-off.

Not breathing, I might add.

At Dave's signal ~ which I garble-heard through the water ~ the boat took off at a speed intended to pull me up out of the water without pulling my arms out of their sockets.

The boat driver did his part, and I hung on to said rope for dear life, water power-pelting against my face and body, expecting to pop up onto the surface of the water, as Dave promised, any second now, and resume breathing...

But do you think that my body ~ and therefore my nose ~ ever got up out of the water? EVER?!? ... NOPE!!! ... Not. even. ONCE!!!

After being drug through the water for what felt like miles and hours, I finally had to give up and let go of the rope, and then bobbed up to the surface gasping for air.

In essence, I went from holding on for dear life to letting GO for dear life!!!



Any way we look at it... There's no avoiding it... And NO one on this planet gets out of this...


IS going

to sting!

Life will have stingers and zingers... pain and rain... temptations and frustrations... tears and fears... ickiness and sickliness... We can do everything in our power to avoid or prevent them, but "stingers" will happen.

  • Even people who eat healthy and exercise get sick.

  • You can drive as carefully as possible and follow all traffic laws, yet still be the victim of an accident caused by someone else who didn't and wasn't.

  • We can diligently work to keep our home fire-hazard-free, and install smoke alarms, but still have a house fire consume everything.

The list is endless of things that can possibly go wrong. "The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike." It's just Life.

But here's where the water skiing analogy comes in...

We will get pulled through the deep waters of life. But how we choose to view and respond to it will make the difference between our nose being just below, or just above the surface of the water...

below = drowning


above = LIFE

And only a few inches

make the difference!


Here are a few

"stingerish" situations I'm

currently "handling":


Heat vent + hairspray  ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


My bathroom heater ~ which has a vent right by where I fix my hair ~ often kicks on right after I've sprayed my hair with my fast-drying styling spray. I used to groan at the inconvenience, but then I got to thinking...


How many millions of people in the world would love to have enough money to buy a heater, or even hairspray, for that matter? So now, whenever the heater turns on right after I've sprayed my hair to style it, I thank God that I have a heater, a home, and electricity, (and hair for my hairspray to go on,) and pray for those who don't.

Water-splashed faucet ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

Stinger: I'll have the kitchen counter and sink all dried and shined, and then Dave comes and washes his hands, splashing water everywhere. I teasingly (yet honestly) tell him he's very "water unaware."


At my request, he is improving, but we have different definitions of what "cleaned up" means. So I am now using these splashes as sweet reminders that:

A) I have a husband to mess up my sink! (and a wonderful husband at that!) I know a few gals who would love to have a (wonderful) husband to mess up their sink!

B) I not only have water, but water IN my house! As in, I don't have to hike down to a river to fetch it! And it's clean water, at that!

Wooden toy with back pain ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


I'm always achy and sore when I get up in the morning. (I'm sparing you an actual picture of that!) It takes some moving and some time before I can work out the soreness.


I am, nonetheless, able to get up and out of bed! No stroke, no MS, no paralysis, nor any of a plethora of other diseases that would keep me in said bed, wishing I could get out, soreness and all! (And one other thought: I've heard that ballerinas are also sore getting out of bed every morning! Okay! Yeah!)

Finger pointing to watch on wrist ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


There are more demands and requests on my time than I would sometimes like there to be. And they often come at inconvenient times.


This reminds me that people must still be wanting what I have to give, and that, aches and all, I am still physically and mentally able to give it. As for the inconvenience, I need to take my flesh (selfishness) to the Lord ~ each time ~ and allow Him to deal it a death blow.

Items in kitchen cupboard ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


I have a very small kitchen that's bursting at the seams! Many items have to go into a cupboard or drawer in certain way, or it won't all fit!

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#1: I have a kitchen!

#2: The reason it's bursting at the seams is because I have so much stuff! And I had enough money to buy said stuff!

#3: This has forced me to learn how to be more organized!

Worn kitchen table ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


Our dining room table top is very old and worn-out. Scratches, stains, much of the varnish is worn off. And refinishing it is not something I have the time, skill, or desire to do.


As I was setting up this very table for a group of gals coming later that morning to make cards, (a class I taught), I noticed how worn the table was, and at first felt sad and a bit embarrassed. But then the Lord showed me how that table top got so worn...

We homeschooled our kids, and now our grandpunkins around this table... We've served thousands of dinners here to family and friends... ministered, over countless cups of coffee and tea, to countless people... Dave has cut and wrapped the meat of many a deer and elk that he's harvested... I've cut out clothes that I've made for our kids, and many foot warmers for friends...

We have SO much to be thankful for that has happened around this table!

Really, our table is just keeping with the saying at the top of my Honeycomb Oasis Bio, about how "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body..."! Same for my kitchen table!

Rain on foggy day ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


There's not a lot of sun where I live. We average 150 days of rain, 225 cloudy days, and only 58 days of sun. That's a lot of cloudiness!


It's the perfect climate to produce a lush green landscape! Plus, I love "cozy" and being inside! And, when I have to be outside, I have an umbrella that works and a nice warm, dry car!

Molehills ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


We have tons of ugly molehills in our yard. And these moles are relentless! You get rid of one molehill, and five more spring up!!! (And I'm not making a mountain out of a molehill!)


We have a yard! Five acres of yard, in fact! And it's not war-torn. And a whole lot of fun and sweet memories happen here!

Failure words ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /


I am a slow learner and have dealt with what I call "failaphobia" most of my life. Fear of failing. ... I feared speaking in front of people, writing a book, doing the tasks required for both, homeschooling my kids, hospitality (big-time!), hosting events in my home or elsewhere, having people over to our home, and even taking a simple meal to a family.


The Lord has brought me 99% of the way out of this ailment*, and has taught me much in the process! (That last 1% is my own resistance!) By the mighty power of the Spirit of the Lord at work within me," I have:

  • written 8 books​

  • spoken in front of thousands of people (not all at once ~ my record is only 800 at once!)

  • organized things that were too overwhelming to even know where to start!

  • created a 400+ page website

  • had hundreds of people in to our home

  • hosted hundreds of events

  • taken hundreds of meals to people

  • and now started a (this) blog! ~ which was a huge challenge for me!

And I even enjoy doing "all the above"!!! Seriously!!! These are now my life passions!!! Things I thought I could never ever do, and didn't even want to!!! What a BLAST!!!

I'm not bragging! Just letting you see what God can do in and through a person with NO confidence or skills, who's willing to lay down my own fears and let God what He wanted in me!

A major theme of my life is this verse: "My power shows up best in weak people"! God gets all the glory! But I had to let Him get a hold of my heart and my fears first!



The recurring theme throughout my "De-stingers" can be boiled down to thankfulness and/or surrender are what create contentment. And it starts with a heart that's ready to recognize and lay down any "heaviness" that's acting as a lead weight to keep joy submerged.

Selfishness, ungratefulness, and fear only pull us down and make us feel like we're drowning in our sorrows ~ only because, in a very real way ~ we are!!!

The very moment you become aware that your mood is sinking, your focus is getting negative, or you're sinking into fear, overwhelmedness, or depression, cast that care onto God! Right then!

"When you pass

through the waters,

I will be with you; and

when you pass through

the rivers, they will not

sweep over you."

(Isaiah 43:2)

God wants to help us live a buoyant life, one that lifts us in the opposite direction of drowning, which is UP! And which is "rising above" the heaviness, toward Heaven, and bringing bits of it to Earth wherever God has planted us!

We'll bloom where

we're planted when we're

planted in the soil of

God's marvelous love!

Daisies and old chair in field ~ in "Handling the Stingers of Life" by Barb Shelton /

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