Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Adoption Brings a Dozen Bundles of Joy

mess_logoPublished November 2006 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese

 The telephone rings, and the front door slams as a teenager enters from school. An 8-year old runs through the kitchen with a superhero costume, complete with a cape. Mom opens her planner to discuss this week’s upcoming schedule. A cell phone rings, and dad asks one of the 12 children to remove a bookbag from the table. It may sound like chaos, but Ken and Mary Besse said it’s more like “organized chaos.”

Though recent movies like “Cheaper By the Dozen” and “Yours, Mine, and Ours” portray fictional families acting out everyday chaos with 12 or more children, the action within this Millstadt, Ill. family’s household is very real. Continue reading


July 15, 2009 Posted by | Feature Stories, Newspaper Writing | , , | Leave a comment

Single Parenting With F-A-I-T-H

mess_logoColumn Published December 2005 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese


From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am in demand. I rush around after a mere six hours of sleep to pack bookbags, lunches – not just for my two children, but also for myself. After a frenzied breakfast of dry cereal in a plastic bag (the breakfast of choice for my son and daughter), I drop each one at school and rush to school myself where I stand on my feet teaching college students how to write for four hours.

Next, I’m off to work at the newspaper – a whirlwind in itself with relentless deadlines and ever-changing story lists. Then, I’m back in the car, picking the kids up from school, thinking about how or where I’m going to get dinner before dance lessons or PSR. Our evenings consist of homework, laundry and baths. Once the kids are tucked in bed, I rush to grade papers, write stories and clean the house. By the time I get in bed, I’m exhausted, and at times, beaten from the stress of daily life.

As a single mother, it is sometimes difficult to see faith within my daily routine, much less life. I’ve been through the stress of separation and divorce. It would be much easier to delve into what is wrong in life, rather than let faith adjust my focus to what is right in life.

Faith doesn’t change my experiences, but it changes the meaning of my experiences. It’s difficult to see it and live it amid the routines that leave us breathless, overwhelmed and beaten. Ironically though, no matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I know that I’m not really beaten because I have faith.

  • Family and friends who love and support me
  • Appreciation for the gifts I have been given
  • Ingenuity and strength to endure life’s challenges
  • Time for laughter and tears
  • Hope, for the present and the future

Faith supports me through the hectic schedule I keep. Faith doesn’t allow me the time to dwell on what is not right in my life. Rather, it strengthens me to focus on what is right, allowing me to see the good in what I strive to do. It is in the eyes of my students when they understand a concept in class or in the kind words of a reader who enjoyed one of my stories.

photo16Faith lets me see the beauty in my children. It’s clear in my daughter’s voice as she tells me, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” It’s clear in my son’s eyes when he says “I love you” out of the blue. It’s evident in our “good night” songs and our morning cuddles. It’s in the silly songs we sing in the car and the knock-knock jokes we tell on the way to school.

Faith supports me through the challenges of single parenting – financially, emotionally and spiritually. It helps me cope when the children leave to spend time with their father, when I have to kiss them goodbye for the weekend, but even more so, it’s there when they return on a Sunday evening with open arms and adventurous stories to share.

Without faith, I would just be going through the motions of life oblivious to the precious moments that surround me and God’s gifts that are present in every minute of every day – at home, in the car, at school, even at the office when I’m looking for inspiration to write a story, or a column just like this one.

– Shannon Philpott

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Newspaper Writing, Opinion | , , | Leave a comment

Okawville Farmer: A Mentor For the Poor, Hungry in Times of Need


Published October 2003 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese


Norbert Zinck has already begun to travel in later life as most retired folks do; but the 69-year-old Okawville farmer has yet to retire.

In between manning more than 300 acres on his family farm, Zinck, a member of St. Barbara’s in Okawville, travels near and far to give of himself.

As a volunteer for the United States Agency for Development, Zinck’s missions have led him to Mexico, Armenia, Macedonia, Azerbaijan and Rwanda to educate farmers in these underdeveloped countries. Continue reading

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Feature Stories, Newspaper Writing | , , , | Leave a comment