Keeping it real and Keeping it positive.

My Story and Doris Shell……

on December 21, 2017

I was in 8th grade. I was a young teenager who was pretty mixed up and on many levels very sad and confused. At that time  my home life was not good. Lots of problems and lots of hard times so I made many bad choices. I had met a new girl at my middle school who moved to Toronto from Indiana. She was different that my other friends, but that difference made me curious about her. She did something no one else had ever done…she invited me to her church.

I didn’t go to church. I would go with my grandparents when I visited and  that was it. I don’t remember being angry at God, and I always believed, but church just wasn’t on my radar.

So that one Sunday I woke up early…that alone must have been GOD….and I found myself walking the several blocks to this little, nondescript church where my friend attended. When I got there the ‘adults’ greeted me warmly and acted like they cared, but I ‘knew it wasn’t sincere’. You see in my world back then I believed everyone had an ‘angle’ and I didn’t trust ANYONE. The service ended and as I tried to ‘escape’ I realized there was only one way out..and you HAD to go by the minister and his wife at the door. Oh my…that was not going to be good…or so I thought.

When it was my turn they greeted me, asked my name than then invited me to ‘step in to the office if I had time, so they could get to know me better.’ TRUST ME…I had not ever met a minister AND his wife and so you can imagine I had NOT been TRAPPED in an office with both of them!!! For some reason I agreed…and after the other folks filed out, they came in. I had decided that this was NOT going to go well. I had decided that they would likely ‘beat me over the head’ with a Bible and worst of all, they might actually know what kind of person I was.

Well it didn’t turn out that way at all. They were SO nice and of all things…THEY INVITED ME TO THEIR HOME FOR LUNCH!!! Who does that? I’m this mixed up kid and they didn’t even know me and yet they invited me to their HOME…for LUNCH!!!! I found myself accepting this invitation…and that was the beginning of the ‘rest of my life’ and a total change in it’s direction.

Les and Doris Shell entered my world and it was never going to be the same. Today I want to share a few things about Doris. My biggest challenge will be to keep this short enough for you to keep reading……

Doris was not your stereotypical minister’s wife in that generation. She had a really impressive job at a local bank. She always dressed classy and she could make you laugh in one moment and shudder in your boots the next. BUT she did play the piano…I always thought every minister’s wife played the piano…

Doris had the gift of hospitality. Even with her work schedule and many volunteer obligations, there were people at their home all the time…and now most of the time that included ME! Remember I was 14…but I decided that these people must want me over a LOT if they invited me over ONCE…plus they were southern and they always said..’Y’all come over’ …so I DID.

It was through the love and acceptance of Les and Doris that I saw Jesus in the flesh. They loved me…and so many others…with total honesty. They saw in me the potential that I didn’t see. They made me trust again and they led me to understand that the Lord also loved me unconditionally …and JUST THE WAY I WAS. It was their teaching and influence that led me to accept Jesus as my personal Savior.

I learn from Doris what it meant to ‘give sacrificially’. We were collecting clothes for the needy and I will never for get her telling me that it’s okay to donate what didn’t fit or I didn’t like…but to NOT call that a sacrifice. Sacrificial giving is when you donate your FAVORITE pair of shoes or clothes. OUCH…. But I was young and eager to learn life lessons from this amazing lady…so in years to come, when her words rang in my ears, I would take a deep breath and donate my favorite things.

When I was leaving for college Les and Doris joined my family at the Greyhound Bus Station as I headed off to Illinois, on a bus, all by myself at 17! I was crying and hugging and trying to find the words to thank this dear, dear lady. She stopped me in my tracks….pointed her finger in my tear streaked face and said, ” there’s nothing you can do to thank Lester and I , but you remember this…someday, somewhere, someone will knock on YOUR door…and YOU BE THERE…just BE THERE’. That ‘charge’, to this day, has shaped how I live when it comes to hospitality. When I worked in inner city NY her words would ring in my ears when troubled teenagers knocked on my door. When I did youth ministry over the years, it rang true and when we did campus ministry at West Point again, it shaped me.

Doris Shell went to be with her Lord on December 10th at 93 years old. She died peacefully with her family close by and her grandson holding her hand. I’m guessing she had pointed that finger in his face a few times too. 🙂

The imprint Doris Shell has on my life is impossible to quantify in words. I can close my eyes and see her standing there…big smile..contagious laugh…dressed to the ‘nines’ and always, always believing in me. I wish I could give her a hug right now.

Even in her later years she still had that wonderful smile.


I love you, Doris Shell…and I know you are singing with the Angels this Christmas. See you later…..



3 responses to “My Story and Doris Shell……

  1. Sandy Oujiri says:

    Oh Barb! Another wonderful, positive, uplifting, tear-jerking post! Thank you! Merry Christmas dear friend!


  2. Peggy Albury says:

    Thank you for “being there” for me!!!


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