turtle shell
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“Like a Turtle Shell . . . ” [and a book on Kindle]

turtle shellA story in a story.

This story is part of a larger story about facing death and having fun on the journey. The book Aren’t We Having Fun Dying?! was first printed in 2005. Folks are still buying this book, and I think it’s because it’s so real and authentic. I also think it is because it’s a true story about a family who courageously took care of their mama even when they disagreed on how to do it. You can get a copy on Kindle, and the link is below. But for now, here’s the story within the story.

A turtle shell

The subject of a turtle shell never came up in our conversations, but that’s how our son described the body of his grandma after her death. Benji (6) was standing next to his younger brother Timmy (4 1/2) while Dave held Jason (3) so he could see the body of their grandma. While having lunch across the street at McDonalds, the boys remembered that the funeral home was where their grandma’s body was.

They trudged across the street together, dirty, dusty, and tired. For Dave, taking his boys to see the body of his mother was part of our journey. Ever since her diagnosis, we talked about the fact that if God chose not to heal her, she would soon be arriving in Heaven.

They stood together in the funeral home peering into the casket. Dave held Jason while the boys stood on tiptoes to look at their grandma’s body.

That was when Benji explained to Timmy, “That’s not really Grandma there. It’s just like an old turtle shell you’d find in the woods somewhere.”

Dave smiled through his tears.

A broken shell and a broken world

God did not choose to heal her physical body, but He brought healing to her soul – and to ours. As best we could, we prepared our kids for the inevitable.

This is what we did.

turtle shellExplaining the turtle and the shell

  • We answered questions when asked. There was no need to wax  theological; we just answered the questions.
  • We cried. They saw us cry. Every weekend when we pulled out of the driveway to head back to our home in another county, I pulled tissues out of my pocket because I was crying, again. They knew I was sad because I was going to miss Grandma, but it was okay because she was going to be with Jesus.
  • We explained. This was new to us and to them, so we explained what was happening. When they noticed her skin was yellow, we told them why. When she was too weak to read to them, we explained why. We explained the reason for her distended abdomen and her loss of appetite.
  • We had them participate. When there was an anointing service, we took our kids with us. We allowed them to “help” Grandma, even if it was just to bring a pillow to her or help tuck her covers up over her shoulder. They “helped” by being quiet so Grandma could rest. They “helped” by staying out of the room when visitors were there.
  • We hid conflicts to achieve a goal. The Slabach family did not agree on everything when it came to Mom’s care. Our kids never knew. Discussions were held behind closed doors. The adults supported each other in front of the grandkids because our goal was to give Mom our best.
  • We lived our faith.  This not only included Heaven in our future, but trust in an all-knowing, all-powerful God Who could bring Grandma healing or Home. Family devotions included praying for the doctors taking care of her. We prayed for all of Mom’s family out loud where they heard.
  • We explained death. One day Dave put his hand into a glove and asked the kids what that was. They identified the “glove” as his hand. When Dave removed his hand, the glove was still there. Was that his hand? No, it was the “shell” of what covered his hand. So it was with the body they recognized as Grandma.

The best is yet to come

When Dave heard Benji explain his Grandma’s still, cold body as an old turtle shell, he knew our kids understood.  From the description of a hand in a glove, our son came up with his own definition of death and the resurrection. We could not give our kids our faith, but we helped them develop their own. Share on X

When we help our kids develop their own faith, we have achieved the greatest goal a parent can have. There truly is no greater joy than to know that you children walk in Truth.

Pinterest Turtle Shell


The book Aren’t We Having Fun Dying?! tells the story of Mom Slabach’s journey to Heaven. You can purchase it through Masthof Press at the link here.  Or you can order it through this blog if you’d like an autographed copy. Local folks can pick it up at the Windmill Farm Bake Shop in town.

Now you can purchase this book on Kindle. To get your copy, click here.




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