Message in a Bottle…of Baby Shampoo

When I was a young mother, I thought I’d always be changing diapers, folding socks, or helping someone with homework. Now that our three are 30, 27, and 20, I catch myself staring at mamas and children everywhere, wishing I could go back.

In September, I roomed with DiAnn Mills at a writers’ conference. As we washed our faces one night she said, “Try baby shampoo. It takes off eye makeup and doesn’t sting.” She squirted a dab in my hand.

Oh, how the sweet scent took me back. Suddenly I was a young mother again bathing my children. In my mind, I saw myself holding my girls in their pajamas, reading bedtime stories. I remembered giving my son his first bath.



After conference, feeling foolish, I traipsed down the baby aisle at the grocery store and bought Johnson’s baby shampoo. Every night now, washing myself, I feel the pinch of nostalgia. I’ve even dreamed my three are toddlers.

Yesterday, I jotted two words in my prayer journal:


“God, I’m not ready for it to be over.”

Praise Me for the memories, He seemed to say. And praise Me for today.

I made a second pot of coffee and got a whiff of the enticing smell. “Okay, it’s not baby shampoo, but thank You for the aroma of Sumatra brewing.” I filled my cup and took it on the porch. “Thank You for the scent of the gardenia bushes.” Back inside, smiling, I made the bed. “Thank You for the sunshiney sheets. For lavender bubble bath.”

Maybe every day is a memory maker, and maybe, just maybe, my praise is a sweet aroma to God.

I thank my God every time I remember you.” Phil 1:3 (NIV)




  1. Wonderful J…I’m breathing deep and jotting down thanks in my head…thank you. xo

  2. Julie, I can so relate. With a daughter who is a senior this year, I’ve been terribly nostagalic lately, and how often I’ve been screaming, “I’m not ready for it to be over yet!” on the inside. Thank you for the reminder to praise Him for the memories.

    • Julie says:

      Believe me, Lorna. I’m there. I get it. Completely. The only way “out” is to keep praising. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  3. Great examples of what a beautiful aroma our prayers and praise must offer up to God in the small, daily, and often overlooked blessings. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’m going to try that baby shampoo idea! I can imagine how it would take you back. It’s so interesting how different scents will do that. Every now and then, maybe when I’m in a store, I catch the scent of my grandma’s favorite face powder that someone must be wearing. Suddenly it feels like Grandma is right there! At one of my jobs in a government office I always loved when the building inspector would drop in because he smoked a pipe. Every time I smelled that pipe tobacco on him, Grandpa was there. I was young when he died but I remembered how he smoked a pipe and how wonderful the smell was!

    My kids are also grown now — 23, 24 & 32! One day I was browsing through an Amtrak book and was suddenly overwhelmed by memories of train trips we had taken when the kids were little. Oh how I wanted to go back. It brought tears to my eyes, the wonderful memories and the knowing those days were over forever. But the saving grace is the grandchildren I now have. It seems when we have children, we get to relive a little of our own childhood. When we have grandchildren, we get to relive that SECOND childhood and make new memories.

    Thanks for sharing, Julie!

    • Julie says:

      Oh, Julie. Such a kindred spirit in deed. You totally get it!! You’re children are close to my children’s ages. 🙂 I love that. Yes, sometimes I’ll pass someone wearing my grandmother’s Estee Lauder perfume. Makes me miss her big time. Thank you for walking down memory land with me and for understanding. 🙂

  5. Oh this is so sweet, Julie! Goodness, what precious memories pop back thinking about baby shampoo. Interesting how smells trigger so many emotions. I’m praising God for sweet smells and wonderful memories!

    • Julie says:

      Hey, friend Lisa. Smell is huge for me–good smells. 🙂 Glad you’re praising right along with me today. It means so much.

  6. Aaaahhhhhh…thankfulness. What sweet thoughts Baby Shampoo brought back to you and how wonderful that you can see the fruits of your labor with your 20, 27 and 30-year-olds. Isn’t it remarkable how they grow from squirming babies in the tubs to the centered and self-confident young adults of today? Give yourself a soapy pat on the back, Mom. And thanks for sharing. Hugs to you.

    • Julie says:

      Hugs right back to you, B.J. And to my grown-up babies and yours too. xoxo

  7. Pat Garczynski says:

    Hi Julie,
    Your “Message in a Bottle” beats Nicholas Sparks in my book! I like “Praise Me for today” as we remember the past.
    Speaking of books, while at the airport in Detroit while waiting to depart for Denver, I browsed Joel Osteen’s new book Every Day a Friday. At first, I thought it was going to be “pie in the sky,” but then purchased the book as several pages/chapters (like “Put on the garment of praise”) just jumped out and ministered to me. How I have struggled for years with the principle/sacrifice of praise!
    Love from cold/rainy Michigan where I am having my porch party on the couch after going for a walk with my raincoat (trying to walk in all kinds of weather).

    • Julie says:

      Hey, Pat! I’m so glad you “get it”–the whole praise me for today thing. It’s huge, isn’t it! And I guess you can even praise Him for your raincoat. 🙂 I wore my rainboots today in Georgia. It was really cool (for us) and drizzy. Much love to you.

      • Pat Garczynski says:

        Reflecting some more – I think the “Praise Me for the memories” coupled with “Praise Me for today” helps me not to turn into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife looking back! Even though I love my new place, you can tell I’m still dealing with moving out of my home of 40 years…… well as remembering/missing grown children and grandchildren who live out of state.
        I loved your use of “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

        • Julie says:

          Ooooh, that’s so deep, Pat. I’m sure you are having a lot of feelins about leaving what had been your home for so long. I know I would. Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, and for understanding. Much love to you. I sure wish your family lived closer, even though we know to keep praising Him for today.

  8. Sharon Mangas says:

    Very nice, Julie.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you, Sharon, for reading and commenting! xoxo

  9. Hey Jewels. This speaks to me because Nicholas left on Wednesday for technical school in Wyoming. Lots of tears for both Haley and I that day (she adores her brother). When he was six he once asked me, “Mom, when will I leave you?” We’d just spent a warm summer day at the pool and I was holding his small hand. I can still remember his wet hair, the freckles standing out on his nose, and how suprised I was at the question. It seemed impossible that he would actually leave me one day. But that day came, anyway. Praising God for the time I’ve had with Nic, and the new chapter we’re entering. But its still hard…

    • Julie says:

      I feel for you. Believe me. What beautiful words, Cath. How well I remember those sweet days with Thomas. And Nic said, “Mom, when will I leave you?” Like was getting ready–he knew there’d come a day. Saying a prayer for you and your family. I’m so glad I’ve “met” them through you and Mark. So much love.

  10. Wonderful what feelings smells can generate. That is also a reminder to us writers to use sense of smell in our works. Baby shampoo definitely brings back that sweet memory…as does Ivory Snow. Did you use that? For some reason, I felt I had to use that on all my baby laundry. I haven’t smelled it since, but I’m sure if I did it would make me all teary-eyed!

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