Dear Holly: You Read Me Bible Stories While I Cooked Dinner

3 years, 10 months.

Yesterday evening after work, your brother chose to tag along with Mommy as she visited the chiropractor. To my surprise, you were totally okay with staying home with me as I prepared dinner.

So as I had a pot of water going for you and your brother’s Annie’ s mac and cheese, a pot of water for brown rice pasta for Mommy and me, and a skillet of hamburger meat I was cooking for the sauce, you remained the whole time on the living room chair with your children’s bible.

You were “reading” aloud through dozens of Bible stories, back to back:

“Then Jonah was in the big fish for 3 days and then Daniel saw the lions but they didn’t eat them, then David threw rocks at the big man, and then Jesus was in the cave…”

You specifically kept inserting “Judah” into many of the stories. I take it he was the go-to name to use when you didn’t recognize the character in the picture.

I am also assuming Judah is the name of one of your classmates.

You did a great job reading Bible stories to me while I cooked dinner. I am very proud of you.



Dear Jack: Baby Moses, as Portrayed by a Sour Patch Kid, Floating on a River of Jell-O

5 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Baby Moses, as Portrayed by a Sour Patch Kid

Mommy and I have noticed how exceptional the children’s program is at our church, The Church at Station Hill. As part of your class curriculum each Sunday morning, you all get to walk over to the craft room after the lesson, where I am always impressed by what new craft you make.

I love it that our church has a room set aside just for kids’ crafts; most of which are edible. It’s always interesting to walk by that room and peek in to see what you’ll be making each morning as we take you to your classroom.

This past Sunday as we were walking back to the car after church ended, you showed Mommy and me the newest one.

It was baby Moses floating down the river.

What made this craft a lot of fun, especially on a Sunday morning as I was now buckling you into your car seat, was that baby Moses was actually a Sour Patch Kid, floating on a river of Blue Jell-O.

As I drove home, with you and Mommy in the back seat, I could hear you enjoying eating your Sunday School craft:

“Mmm… baby Moses tastes good, he’s crunchy!”

I’m just glad that it was Moses floating down the river in a basket, and not baby Jesus in the manger. Because that would really seem weird. It would take the concept of Holy Communion to a different level.

An edible gingerbread house is fine, as his baby Moses floating down the river, but I think an edible manger scene might be a little too crafty.

But as for baby Moses, he floated down the river of your digestive track and you were happy I was letting you get away with eating candy so early in the day.

Needless to say, you definitely now know the story of baby Moses floating down the river.



I’m Not “A Pretty Good Person”

I'm Not "A Pretty Good Person"

Last Sunday morning, while on family vacation in Sacramento, I decided to get up “early” and go to the little old Presbyterian church there in my mother-in-law’s neighborhood.

For the 8 years I’ve been coming here each summer, I was always curious about that place. So I showed up in shorts, loafers, and a checkered button down shirt.

I appreciate how I can just arrive at a church filled with strangers, yet we all have an understanding of what we have in common; even though they’ve never seen me before.

Something I’ve gained a better understanding of over the years is that my current place in life typically illustrates the words of the Bible and the pastor’s sermon.

While he spoke about Jesus’s parable of the Prodigal Son, the main theme I took away was this:

We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We are not good enough on our own.

This is actually a boldly countercultural statement. I’ve learned that most people who are not Christians will typically and quickly summarize why they don’t need to believe in Jesus as the Son of God:

“I’m a pretty good person. I’m not an ax murderer or anything.”

But Christianity teaches the opposite:

I am not a pretty good person. My pride and selfish thoughts alone are enough to keep me from being a “good person”, as they serve as evidence I was born with a sinful nature. Therefore, I need God’s salvation from myself, if nothing else; because my nature creates spiritual distance between God and myself.

But “the church of mainstream secular America”, by default, believes that if you’re a “pretty good person” then you don’t really need God.

So for a person to quickly and openly admit they’re not a “pretty good person,” it’s definitely countercultural.

The irony is that a stereotype of Christians is that they are “holier than though”; in other words, self-righteous and judgmental.

For the record, let me be clear. I am completely aware that I am not perfect. I am corrupted.

How can I judge anyone else when I am too distracted with the plank in my own eye?

I am not better than anyone; and if I ever think I am, then I am living in open rebellion against everything Jesus taught His followers.

Christianity is definitely offensive, though. If for no other reason, because it casts all of us in the same boat:

None of us are “pretty good people”. It’s only by setting aside our prideful thoughts of “I’m a pretty good person” that we can begin to learn what Jesus came to teach us.


What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD- Family Friendly Review

Last night I stayed up late (which means 9:23 PM) to finish watching the What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD. Yes, as a grown man of age 33, I found myself intrigued by the words of the puppets on the TV screen as they explained the miracles it took to lead up the birth of Jesus to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament.

What's in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD

This DVD does a great job of explaining the importance of the New Testament, and its relevance to the Old Testament, to a family audience.

While young children may only understand certain parts of what’s going on, this DVD serves as a great invitation to who Jesus is; not simply to church goers, but just as naturally to those who are skeptical or unfamiliar with the real life man, Jesus of Nazareth.

And now I get to give away a copy of this DVD to one of my readers…

Just be the first person to post on the Facebook wall for Family Friendly Daddy Blog (not a private message), asking me, “Did I just win the What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD?

If you’re the first person to do so, I will respond by saying yes… After that, I will follow up by getting your family’s name and address to get you all set up with DVD!

Update: There is a winner so the giveaway is complete!

Did I just win the What’s in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD?
1Like ·

About the movie:
Volume 10: Jesus Is the Good News! / Run time: Approx 66 min
What's in the Bible? Volume 10: Jesus is the Good News DVD
Includes two 25 minute episodes: God’s Perfect Timing – Buck Denver and crew learn about the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments and how Jesus arrives at just the perfect time & The Messiah Has Come! – Learn about the life and ministry of Jesus-how He died for us and rose again to launch the kingdom of God in the world and in us.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

I’m Not Sure St. Peter’s Pickup Truck Was In The Bible…

October 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm , by 

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

This evening while Mommy was buying groceries, you and I played with the Dollar General version of Play-Doh, called Craft Dough.

With your 5 pack of Craft Dough came a very rare color… black.

You decided to make a camper for your Dodge Ram pickup truck, so you began stuffing the bed with black dough.

In the process, you picked up your St. Peter action figure and his boat, and stuck them in the back of the truck, then stood Jesus on top of a couple containers of Craft Dough nearby.

You ended up nixing the whole camper idea altogether and I got to hear the dialogue of the new plot line:

“Jesus, I gotta drive my truck and take my boat. Do you want to go?” Peter asked.

“No, I’ll just stay here today,” Jesus replied, in your falsetto voice.

I immediately began imagining a new kids’ show which featured favorite Bible characters in a modern day setting.

Yeah, that wouldn’t go over well at all…

But just the thought of Jesus and Peter as buddies who drive pickup trucks and take the boat for a spin out on the lake, instead of the familiar “walk on the water” story everyone knows, it’s pretty much hilarious to me!

In the process of trying to find Biblical action figures last Christmas, which you asked for by the way, I noticed there weren’t a lot of toy companies that made them.

Not only is there probably not an abundance of toy companies who are willing to make religious action figures, but there’s also the fact that those toys may very well end up in random activities which are more likely to show up in the lyrics of a Country song than they are in a sermon.

To be honest, I’m suprised it’s actually taken you this long to crack me up with your inevitable and accidentally humorous (and somehow seemingly inappropriate?) use of Jesus and St. Peter action figures during playtime.

What would Jesus do? I’m not sure sometimes…





My Toddler’s Self-Taught Bedtime Bible Stories

October 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm , by 

23 months.

“I want John! I want Paul!” my son Jack whines.

You’d think he was just a big Beatles fan like his dad, until he continues:

“Martha- where’s Martha? Jesus! There’s Jesus. Jesus sleepy.”

For the past 23 months, Jack has been exposed to a children’s story Bible for bedtime. But now that he can piece sentences together and recall names of different characters, his children’s story Bible has never been more relevant.

His Bible is officially his favorite book. Why wouldn’t it be?

Plenty of camels, horses, sheep, and bearded men in robes to keep the attention of a 23-month-old little boy.

I think it’s hilarious/awesome that Jack has memorized the cartoon representations of at least a dozen men of the Bible. The only real distinction between them is the color of their beards and robes.

Tonight during story time as he sat in my lap and read to me, he made it his mission to find Mark. The problem is, even I couldn’t find Mark.

So I turned to a page where Jesus was feeding the multitudes from a little boy’s bread and fish. I figured with all the bearded men surrounding Jesus on that page, Jack would think he saw Mark somewhere in the crowd.

Not so much.

As I put Jack to bed tonight, it was kind a struggle for me to get him in sleep mode.

“I want Jesus! Jesus!” he cried, literally.

What he wanted was for me to let him take his children’s story Bible to bed with him, like he would his Elmo doll.

I just didn’t see that being a very comfortable situation in the middle of the night.

So Jack did settle for Percy the Train instead.

What’s interesting is that today during my lunch break, I mountain biked across town to the LifeWay store. I was just curious…

Do they sell a Jesus action figure, or even a plush doll?

They don’t.

But I sort of have a feeling by the time this story really ends, I’ll find one for him.

The Shell Diet (Remember 4 Things: Fiber, Fresh, Kosher, Active)

It’s as easy/difficult as converting your religion.

This is the time of year when I hear people talking the most about getting back into shape and losing weight, as one of their New Year’s Resolutions.  I personally don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions for my own weird reasons, but coincidentally it was a year ago this week when I officially began a new diet that I accidently discovered/invented in an attempt to get rid of my eczema.  By Spring 2009, people started asking me if I had lost weight and I would reply, “Not that I know of”.  By summer, I got on the scale and realized I weighed (my still current weight of) 153.  This was a major surprise to me because since getting married, I had weighed around 178.  Without trying whatsoever to lose any weight, I had accidently lost 25 pounds.  And more importantly to me, I finally got rid of my eczema, acne breakouts, and regularly occurring headaches.

Over the last several months, friends and coworkers have observed and referenced my strange dietary habits with comments like this, “I wish I could be cool and do the [Nick] Shell Diet”.  Well, thanks to this post, now that will be a possibility for anyone.  Of course, “diet” is a tricky word.  When we hear it, we often associate it with losing weight, or associate it with a temporary change in our eating habits.  But if losing weight is the purpose of the diet, I say the diet is destined for failure.

According to the recently aired special on ABC, Celebrity Weight Loss- What Really Happens, 50 million people every year go on a diet but only 5% of them keep the weight off once they lose it.  Something else I learned from watching was that the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry.  So not only do the majority of people going on diets each year not lose enough weight or keep off the weight they do lose, but they waste money doing so.  With the Shell Diet, there’s no profit to be made.  I can’t make money off of sharing my experiences on becoming a healthier person.  There is no product to endorse here.  Can you afford to eat fresh vegetables and fruits every day? If so, good.  But I’m not making any money off of this thing.

Therefore, I interpret the word diet as “healthy lifestyle strategy”, and that’s precisely what the Shell Diet is all about.  Because if you truly begin living a consistently healthy lifestyle, losing weight is an unavoidable side effect.  The problem with most with other diet programs is that they focus on counting calories.  But it’s not about the quantity (number) of calories; it’s about the quality (fiber and whole grains) of calories.  I know a guy who every three years, goes on the Atkins Diet to lose his potbelly (45 pounds), then once he does lose the weight after a few weeks, goes back to what ever he wants for the next three years.  His focus is not on being healthy- since actual nutrition (fruits and vegetables) is seen as a bad thing (because they count them as bad carbs) in that diet.  Not cool, Zeus.

One of the major discouraging things about other “diets” is that at the end of the day, if you’re hungry but have reached your calorie count for the day, you’re just out of luck. With the Shell Diet, it is a sin to let yourself go hungry, ever. With the Shell Diet, you are encouraged to eat (but never overeat) as you’re hungry, granted that you’re eating high fiber snacks and meals.  If you really are hungry, and not just bored, you will eat an orange or a banana, or a whole grain cereal that does not have a charming cartoon character on the box.  Sorry, Count Chocula.

There are four main keys that the Shell Diet is based on:

Fiber, Fresh, Kosher, Active.

Now it’s time to break those down.  This is like a table of contents.  Individually click on each mini-post below, then after reading it, click back to this page.

FIBER: “Build your meals” on fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains, not meat or carbohydrates.

FRESH: Cut out all processed foods.

KOSHER Eat like the Old Testament Jews did.

ACTIVE: Find a practical way to be physically active every day.

That’s it.  Everything I have described in the Shell Diet, I literally live by on a daily basis.  I admit, The Shell Diet isn’t truly introducing any new ideas.  Subconsciously, we already know this stuff.  But the Shell Diet breaks it all down into cut-and-dry rules to make it more practical and easier for people to keep themselves accountable.  Sure, if I’m at someone’s house and they made chocolate cake for dessert, I will eat a decently sized slice with no hesitation.  I just won’t pay for it with my own money.  By only eating sweets when they are free (like some Halloween candy), it keeps eating sweets down to irregular occasions.  But I refuse to break my Kosher lifestyle.  Even if it means hurting people’s feelings.  (You’d be amazed how offensive in can be here in the South to turn down BBQ pork, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, shrimp, etc.)

How has the Shell Diet changed my life personally?  Well, since officially converting to the Shell Diet about a year ago, as I mentioned in the beginning, I no longer suffer from eczema, shortness of breath, regular occurring headaches, or acne breakouts.  Not to mention, clothes fit more comfortably now; maybe too comfortably.  But most importantly, I have the assurance of knowing that I am much healthier at age 29 then I was at 27.

If you are brave enough to go “Jesus style” and do the Shell Diet, please grant yourself grace.  It literally took me a year to discover the Shell Diet then another year to begin living by it without cheating.  For me, it ended up being an accidental New Year’s Resolution that actually worked.  Yes, living by the Shell Diet will make you a little bit weird.  People will question you and give you a hard time occasionally.  They even may think you converted to Judaism.

Just ask yourself, "W.W.N.S.E.?" (What would Nick Shell eat?)

By living the Shell way, you’re living like people have lived for thousands of years, back before Coca-Cola and KFC were household names, and before cancer and Diabetes were common.  Sometimes it’s just better to be old school- even as old school as Moses, the Jewish guy who sort of started this whole “healthy lifestyle” thing thousands of years ago when he wrote what we now often think of as that outdated book in the Bible called Leviticus.

I guess no diet strategy is complete without before and after pictures, so here you go:

Before the Shell Diet, around 178 pounds.

And now, after the Shell Diet, around 153 pounds.