~Quilt of My Life~

by Barb Shelton








Here's a "collage" of me in written-and-graphic form.

There's so much I do that is so serious (see the Article Chart) and structured, that I

wanted to share the more personal side of myself somewhere. And so, this is it!


There's much more here than you'd ever want to know about me,

but hey, it's here if anyone ever does! This actually started out as a speech I did for

Toastmasters, and then, well, it just sort of "developed"!


If you don't have time to read all of this (and I don't

blame you), at least read the very last one, in the "My Foundation" section!  (It's

actually the only item in that section!)


Several of the graphics below are links; if your pointer (cursor)

doesn't turn to a hand when you pass over a graphic, it's just a cute graphic!

Some will take you to other websites; some to pictures and pages

here at my site.  If it does, check it out!






I was born on July 26th, 1952 to Lee (Leland) and Mary Edtl.  I feel very privileged to have the two best parents in the world. They both have a deep faith in God and gave us a solid religious foundation. My Dad, Lee Edtl, is a hard working man of integrity, a skilled carpenter and gardener, and was Director of Utilities for Longview for 20 years before retiring. If you knew him, you would know he is also very good at talking, a trait passed down to me that eventually became very handy in two of my occupations!  (see below)  I love to listen to his stories, and as a deacon in the Catholic church, he also gives sermons (which they call homilies), which Mom has printed out for all of us kids; I keep my copies in a special notebook. He has been invited three times to give the opening prayer for legislative sessions of the Washington State Legislature, which I have included here for you. (Invocation) My Mom, Mary Edtl, has been a dedicated Mama to her 7 children since, well, since the day I, the firstborn, entered the world! She is known for her exceptional organizational giftings, including but not limited to: job charts, color coded socks and undies, toothbrushes with initials, labeled laundry bins, and notebooks that organize everything in her life from camping to magazine articles. I used to bring friends over and give them a tour of all her organized areas, and they were always awestruck. A woman of few words, she signs her birthday cards "Love, Mom and Dad" ~ but we know she means every word of it, and demonstrates her love for and to all of us in countless ways. She has knitted hundreds of baby booties for all of her children and her 22 grandchildren, and now her first great-grandchild!  In the colors of our choosing!  ...  There are two other people I call "Mom" and "Dad" ~ and those are Dave's parents, Carolyn and Frank Shelton. They are wonderful parents-in-law and loving grandparents to our children. They are both Christians, making all four of our children's grandparents Christians! What a precious and rich inheritance for our children! (and us!)  Here's a photo of Dave and me, Sharnessa and Sam, and Grandma and Grandpa Shelton.  (The bear family link takes you to two pictures of me with my parents: one when I was 6 months old, the other just recently!)




I was born the oldest of 7 children, and still am.   ;-)   Although, several years ago I decided I didn’t like the job and switched places with my sister, Pat, who is fifth in line and 8 years younger than me. She’s much better at letting stuff slide off her back than I am, and so was much better suited for the position. But after a few years she tired of the job and gave it back to me. 6 of the 7 kids were girls, meaning, yes, one was a boy, John. Lest you were about to join the ranks of the thousands who have expressed their sympathy for him being the only boy, let me hasten to tell you that he was the only one who ever got his own room!  He is now enjoying his room ~ his whole mansion ~ in Heaven.  (See Reunited - Now and Forever.)  Back to the girls...  I still remember the day when my dad called us from the hospital to tell us that Mom had just had the 7th baby: yet "ANOTHER GIRL."  He always liked to say that Mom got stuck on the Girl Button.  ...  I am pleased to tell you that I was the only baby of the seven that was born on its due date. However that was pretty much the last time I can remember being on time.   ;-)



25 years ago as of July 19, 2000, I became Mrs. David Shelton.  Our marriage did not start off as a storybook romance, though. We went through some very difficult and painful years, including a separation. But several years ago, on the verge of divorce, God got hold of our marriage ~ and us personally ~ and got us onto a path that totally turned us and our marriage and our lives around!  (I'm greatly condensing; but someday I will write a book on it.)  God has since helped us both completely heal and bond, and we are more in love today than we were ~ or ever dreamed possible ~ the day we got married!  Dave is now my "Knight in Shining Armor"!  We are living proof that God is in the business of saving marriages and healing broken hearts!!! And is VERY GOOD at it!



Two years into our marriage, 22 years ago, our first daughter, Sharnessa, was born. Then 1½ years after her came Tory, our only son, who is now almost 21. And then 7 years later came Carlianne, our "little caboose" who turned 13 in September of 1999. We are very proud of all three of our children and have wonderful relationships with each of them, and each of them with each other.  ...  I have learned many things as a parent, but I would have to say that the most shocking thing I learned was how quickly, completely, and permanently a tiny bundle of boy or girl can change your lifestyle, your purpose in life, the stores you shop at and find exciting, and the amount of sleep you (no longer) get.  Little did I know what a life-changing blessing motherhood would be, and how enriched and blessed I would become in the process!  ...  Clicking on "Sharnessa," the girl in blue, will take you to something Sharnessa wrote to me; clicking on "Tory" or "Carlianne" will take you to a photo of the three kids and me.



God has blessed our family with some wonderful friends who are like family to us. They have been a tremendous source of comfort, strength, help, and encouragement to us over the years. We are soooo thankful for all of them, for the reflection of Jesus each one is, each in their own unique ways.  (See my article An Analogy of the Body of Christ for more on that concept!)  I would love to mention many names here, but I would end up leaving someone out!  So those of you who are my (our) friends, please just know how much we love and appreciate you!  By the way, clicking on the graphic directly above will take you to a Valentine poem I wrote (such as it is) for my dear friends!  It may not be Valentine's Day, but it's never "out of season" to send a note of love!




They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, for many years I just admired tole painting from afar, certain that I was doomed to be able to only purchase it in craft stores, certain that it was one of those things I ~ "old dog" that I was ~ could never do...  You see, I have dealt all my life with a very deep fear of trying anything new or hard because of fear of failure. I call it "Fail-a-phobia." Actually I have had enough experiences with failure to know that was a real possibility, not just a figment of my imagination.  Even just trying tole painting was a real hurdle for me.  But God blessed me with a wonderful teacher ~ Dianne, a sister at church ~ who, with enthusiasm and encouragement, lovingly pushed me to try my hand at it, literally!  Several projects later ~ that I'm even very proud of! ~ I have living proof that, indeed, an old dog can be taught new tricks ~ and that, indeed, there is hope for "fail-a-phobiacs"!



I'm not sure whether I enjoy tole painting because it's a lot like web design (at least the way I do it), or if I enjoy web design because it's a lot like tole painting! Getting information out to people ~ homeschoolers in particular ~ has been a JOY, but time-consuming and expensive. So that's what motivated me to learn how to do web pages ~ where people can look for what they need online much faster and less expensively than any other method!  However, no matter how good the idea and motivation, attempting web page creation was yet another "Fail-a-phobia" hurdle for me! But I have now had enough experience of God helping me with very practical things that I had a feeling it wouldn’t really be as hard as I thought. And it hasn't! Over the past few months I've been on a very steep learning curve, but I’m actually thoroughly enjoying it!  What you see here at this site ~ all these 205+ web pages ~ is what I've done!  ...  I don't do this as a business (for obvious reasons) but I know someone who does!  Oscar Myre! (That's really his name!)  Click on the little webpage graphic above ~ actually a sample of one of the pages he's done ~ to get to his website!


(Clicking on this picture will take you to the page at our online catalog

about my Homeschool Mom Stamp 'n' Chats!)


       This has proved to be a wonderful opportunity for Carlianne and I to do something together!!!  This is much more than just "stamping" and cards! We are learning how to make cute gift bags out of paper sacks, beautiful envelopes out of calendars, and how to emboss, make bookmarkers, napkin holders, handkerchiefs, stationery portfolios, a prayer journal, gift boxes and kits, and all sorts of fun stuff!!! (Oh, yes, and neat CARDS!) The skills and techniques we're learning can be applied to ANY stamps you have, so it's not like you have to get all the stamps in order to do them! I had NO idea it was this broad!!!!  In fact, as one example, I created a web page with all my "Gift Box Ideas"!  At our workshops I teach how to make a cool square box out of index stock paper ~ by folding it (origami) and then decorate it for the occasion at my classes!  But you can make a gift box out of *any* box or basket!) 

       Carlianne and I became a mother-daughter demonstrator-team just recently!  We're not going to do a TON of workshops or go for the sales awards and such. What we *mostly* want to do is something we're designing called a "Stampin' Oasis"!  We would do one of these every season. This will be an all-day event at our house where we have a dozen or so gals up here for the day, and they make things (that we'll teach and give supplies for) for the upcoming season. Like in March we'll make things for Mother's and Father's Day, graduations, and weddings. In the fall we'll make things for Thanksgiving and Christmas. (etc.)  This will be a great homeschool opportunity for Carlianne to learn a variety of skills, as she is part of the whole process, and will learn business, teaching, and craft skills in the process! 
       For some reason, I always thought, growing up and raising my dollies, that my someday-daughters would be little "carbon copies" of me, and would love to do all the things *I* love to do. I have found, much to my dismay, that my kids all ended up very unique, with tastes and interests of their very own! So it has been SO much fun to find something that Carlianne and I both enjoy doing ~ even though our artistic styles are very different. She loves metallic silver and fairies and embossing; I love "country" and "cutesy" stuff!  But our diversity will only enhance the diversity of what we present at our workshops!  



Dancin' is in my blood!  Back in the early 70's I earned my way through two years of community college by teaching P.E. ~ a drill and dance team that I choreographed and taught ~ at a private grade school. Then in the early 80's I co-created aerobic dance classes to Christian music, one season of which we named "Fit For Our King" and a later one "Praiser-cize." It was a blast.  Now, preferring to not have to go away from my home to exercise, (like at a fitness club) I enjoy getting out my aerobic step (mine looks just like the one above, minus the two bottom steps!), turning on a favorite CD (like Sharnessa's V*Enna songs, and doing my own step aerobics to that!  Whenever I find out that a wedding reception is going to have dancing, I make sure I take along my dancin’ shoes ~ which are really just comfy shoes that won’t leave me crippled for a week.



Organizing STUFF comes naturally to me from my parents. In fact, I believe that if you were to do brain surgery on me, you’d be in for a little surprise...  I was walking down the clipboard aisle of Office Max one day when my eyes lit upon something that I immediately felt kindred spirits with: A clear pink clipboard with lines and sections all over it!!! I instinctively knew that this was no ordinary clipboard, it’s the blue-print (okay, PINK-print) of the surface of my brain! This immediately explained my affinity for graphs and charts, as well as why I like quilts which, if you think about it, are really nothing more than fabric charts! In fact, many years ago I organized the making of a "pillow mini-quilt" of all the girls in the family for our Mom. Each one of us made our own square that represented "us" and our interests.  ...  However, to be truthful, I have to confess that I’d much rather organize something ~ my office, a new job chart, anything ~ than actually keep it that way...  My brains are IN my daily planner, which, like our color-coded socks and undies from years ago, is color-coded.



I love rhythm!  I play the tambourine and the "shaker" on our church’s worship team band, and can really get going on those!  I started taking drum lessons a couple of years ago, but didn’t have enough time to really pursue it. With drums, you either get serious about them, or you don’t. (And I didn't.) ...  I also love doing harmony vocals on the worship team. In fact, I barely know the melodies of most songs! When the kids were little, I loved to make up my own words to familiar songs for them.  I’d always wanted to get them recorded onto a tape, along with the words in an accompanying book, and finally got to do that when Carlianne was one year old. I called it "Love Lullabyes and Jesus Songs" and enlisted the help of several vocalists, musicians and sound technicians at our church to produce it. 



I also enjoy gardening; flowers, not food. Well, to be more accurate, I’m actually much more interested in the finished product of the garden than I am in the process of gardening. It’s back-aching and tedious, and I can always think of a lot of other things I’d rather be doing. But I so enjoy the delightful, peaceful, colorful beauty of my growing flowers.  ...  And God has taught me many good lessons in those times of digging, planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, and pruning ~ all of which pretty much describe the work God has done in my life. There really is, as I’ve heard, something therapeutic about working with your hands in the dirt. (However, I'm not quite sure if the therapy my soul gains outweighs the pain my back gains.)  One of my favorite verses is: 


"For they are transplanted into the Lord's own garden

and are under His personal care." (Psalm 92)

My  Occupations



It took me quite some time to find my niche in life. I tried many jobs in my teen and early 20's...  Waitress, motel maid, switchboard operator, bank teller, and salad maker at a nursing home. These were all jobs that required, of all things, speed and accuracy! I was low on both. In reality I was fired from all of these jobs, but at least, because they liked me, they’d always let me save face for my résumé and offered to let me quit first. Nonetheless, this did not do much for my self image. So here's a little on my progression through several jobs to finally find the niche God had prepared for me...



There was one job I could do, and that was tutor English ~ which I actually enjoyed. It might even be a sickness, but diagramming a sentence and figuring out prepositional adverbial phrases is a sheer delight to me. In fact, as I was reading a Psalm one day, I noticed it was brimming with prepositional phrases! I realized ~ hey! This would make a great grammar lesson for homeschool, so I made it up into a worksheet called "Identifying Prepositional Phrases" (click on chalkboard above to get to it) for students to do, and moms who enjoy or just want to learn this kind of stuff. ...  Anyway, when I was attending our local community college, they had a special tutoring program for war vets. I was paid $3 an hour ~ very good pay at that time ~ to tutor vets in English grammar. The only drawback to this job was that these vets had more of an interest in pretty much anything besides English Grammar, soooo, frustrated, I didn’t continue with that for too long. 



I did not get into homeschooling because I wanted to. In fact, when I first heard of it, I thought it was about the dumbest idea I’d ever heard of. One of my sisters who was homeschooling her children kept hinting (pushing!) that I read this book called Home Grown Kids, but I had no interest in doing so.  Cut-backs at Dave’s job eventually forced me to read it ~ since the cut-backs meant we could no longer afford preschool. I had to do something to ensure that my poor children would not be behind. Within the three days it took me to read the book, my opinions were turned up-side-down, in-side-out, and completely around, 180 degrees! That was in 1982, and we have been homeschooling ever since, having graduated our two oldest in 1998 and 1996.








As I mentioned earlier, one of the things I inherited from my Dad was the gift of gab, as both of my parents will testify. My mom was known to say: "Barbara, what you’re saying is very interesting, but...  Mommy needs to think her own thoughts for a while."  ...  But this skill came in very handy later in my life.  ...  If you had told me 15 years ago that I’d be a national homeschool speaker, I wouldn’t have known whether I should laugh or cry first. I wasn’t a "speaker" and didn’t think anyone would pay to come hear me. Plus I had NO confidence to get up in front of a group! But as people started asking what I did with my own kids, and how I did it, I really had no choice but to start speaking! I typically speak for three to six hours at a time, doing a few workshops that have become my specialty, including "Choosing Your Own Sr. High Framework and Filling It With Good Stuff" and "Out of Fear and Burn-out; Into Focus, Freedom and Refreshment." (Click on the pink heart above for "About Barb Speaking.")  Tapes greatly multiply my ability to reach more people. But people seem to like the personal touch too, and I have now been invited and flown to speak at conventions and seminars at many places around the country, as well as in Washington State and Oregon. (Click on any of the other five hearts above for my "speaking résumé.")  I don't seek out speaking engagements; I consider requests and accept them if I and the inviting party feel it's a "right fit" as well as the right timing for their group. I'm not a "front line" or "inspirational" speaker; I'm more what I'd call a "medic" and am there for those who are ready for "something else" other than what they thought "education" was, but are now burning out on. That's not to say people don't enjoy my seminars; they're fun, enlightening, and packed with practical take-home-and-DO-it information. But my heart is to "set captives free," not to encourage people to push on in their attempt to "school" their children rather than truly educate them. (This is why I'm not a good choice for your September or October "shot-in-the-arm" meeting.)  I want people to discover and walk in ~ be freed  to walk in ~ all that God has in store for them!



Before too long I realized that speaking was not an efficient enough means of getting out my developing message to increasing numbers of homeschoolers. I couldn’t speak as "far and wide" or as often as needed because I was ~ and still am ~ a mom at home. And I can only touch a very small segment of the population in one speaking engagement. But additionally, people needed to be able to photocopy many of my (or should I say my many) forms, and have my complete message available to them to read and let it soak in. Many moms have told me they have taken my book with them everywhere they go, especially on long trips, and others have said they will not let it out of their sight to loan it to anyone. One mom told me "I think it has actually become attached to my right hip."  ...  So this is how I started using my "gift of gab."  I had to learn computer ~ another "Fail-a-phobia" hurdle ~ to be able to write books which involved learning the programs and learning how to self-publish. None of it came naturally. But with Dave’s help ~ and with him holding down the fort during my writing marathons ~ we have done it!  ...  I love writing, both the word crafting aspect of it and the fact that God is using my writing to change the lives of homeschoolers. I receive many letters like this one: "After homeschooling for many years and trying different materials, your books make me finally feel like I can actually start somewhere, have a plan and an actual purpose... In fact, I’m now excited about the prospect of homeschooling my oldest through high school, with energy left for the younger ones." For another mom, it went even deeper; she said: "You and [another author] are personally responsible for showing me the way out of a deep depression and onto the path of pursuing God with all my heart. My life has been revived ~ spiritually first, then emotionally, and now I'm beginning to be physically restored." I get several such letters a week from homeschooling moms all over the country. And no, I didn’t solicit any of them. My message is a combination of "spiritual" and "practical." In fact, I believe that for something to truly be "spiritual" it has to be totally practical. That’s just how God is. The monetary compensation for our work is very nice, and enables us to keep doing what we do, but I have to tell you that the joy of having an impact on lives and knowing I am walking in at least part of the purpose for which God put me here on earth is far more satisfying the money!



Managing "all the above" necessitated creating a home business. We have around 50 retail companies that wholesale my books through us, as we are sole publisher and distributor of them. Dave does almost all the handling of wholesale and private orders. He also makes ~ as in copies and comb-binds ~ all of my books that are not softbound. I deal with the writing, editing, and publishing end, as well as responding to email, taking orders, and handling calls, some of which Dave handles too. We have produced a Homeschool Info Line that people listen to and then tell us what it is they need. I have to say that I couldn’t begin to do what I do without Dave. He is truly the "wind beneath my wings." And we are truly a team, not just as a married couple and parents, but also as business partners. Instead of dividing, as it could easily do, it has actually had the effect of drawing us together. (There are links to several different aspects of our business in each of the graphics above. I'll just let you try each one out. If you've stuck with me this long, you must not have anything better to do right now.   ;-D )

My Foundation

(Clicking on this tiara will take you to the

beautiful website I got this picture from: Tiara Town!)




Last but not least is my relationship with God. I was having a hard time figuring out where this would fit into the quilt of my life!  I thought, hmmm, it could go under "My roles" ... or under "Interests" ... or under "Occupations."  But all of those seemed too confining and minimal for what it really feels like to me...  I finally figured out that my relationship with God fulfills two aspects of my quilt, even aside from "Roles," "Interests," and "Occupations"! And without these two things, my quilt ~ my life ~ would literally fall apart...  God is both the back of my quilt ~ the foundational base ~ and the stitching that holds together all the pieces in the quilt of my life.




To the Shelton Family Scrapbook





I got the...


Rosebuds, Homeschool Oasis Oval Banner, Pink-striped background, 2 Friends, Birdhouse, Planter,

Flowery Paintbrush,  White House with Heart on Roof, Computer, & Chalkboard at:

Helena's Graphic Garden  


Book Stack, Couple with Heart, Rag Dolls, Aerobic Step, Mini Garden, & Patchwork Hearts at:

A Touch of Country 


Bear Family, Pink Plaid Background, 5 Birdhouses on fence, Baby Buggy, & Tiny Pencil at:

Original Country Clipart by Lisa


Spinning Dollar Bill, Blue Spinning Notes, and the Animated Bar of Music Notes at:

Animation Factory


and the Animated Appointment Book at:


I made the screenshot of my Main Lobby using:

MGI Photo Suite




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