Posted by: Beth | July 14, 2021

Same Message

Oh dear Lord, why do I have to keep taking all these vitamins and medicines? Yeah, yeah. I know.  One is for blood pressure and another is for thyroid.  Because of a genetic thing my body doesn’t methylate B12 so to have any energy at all I need that. My brain won’t slow down at night so it’s magnesium and calcium to the rescue.  Hey!  How about I just eat a banana split every night? Huh, huh, huh?  I love a banana split. Banana has magnesium; ice cream has calcium.  Oh, yeah.  Just a touch too much sugar too late. Oh, whatever.

Yes, whatever.  Can you at least be grateful you have access to those supplements and medicines and professionals who know more than you do about figuring out which ones to take? You do have a choice, you know.  You could just stop taking any of them.

WAIT RIGHT THERE!  I don’t think so.  If I miss them a few days I feel awful.  And there’s a few I dare not miss a dose.  It’s just not a good thing for me nor anyone around me.

You were just complaining about taking them.  And now you’re justifying why you should.  You’re confusing – or confused – or both.

Oh I don’t know!  I know I need them but I just get tired.  Tired of taking them.  Tired of going to the doctor. Tired of paying for them.  I’ve tried eating right and I still needed some of them.

Why can’t you just wave a magic wand or let me wake up one day and all is well with my body and soul?

You don’t need magic?  LOL. I’m sure you don’t!  And all will be well?  I like that idea!  I won’t need vitamins and medicines and a heating pad.  AND people will get along and not be fussing? And I can visit with my friends instead of working opposite shifts? Really?!

Uh, wait a minute.  I’m not so sure I’m ready to check out of this world, if that’s what you have in mind. 

So I better suck it up buttercup and deal with all this mess?

SIGH.

Okay, let me be sure I’ve got this right.  Spend some time with you IN THE QUIET.  (yeah, because quiet and calm are so easy to find … not). Listen for you even in the noisy times.  Write out some scriptures and put them where I’ll see them with little effort (that would be beside the coffee pot). Let you fill me with your peace. (I like that idea.) Focus on your words instead of the storms around me.  Yep … sounds like what I’ve heard for years.

It is what you’ve heard for years.  The message is the same.  You forget it.  You get distracted by arguments and illness and busyness. But I am here. I love you. I will help you.  I will be with you – when the routines are tiring, when the sunsets are breath-taking, when people can’t get along, when children hug you, when people talk terribly about you, when you can’t see the sunrise for the fog, when the walls are closing in, and when celebrations abound.  Breathe.  Let my love and grace fill you, and then share it with others.

(Perhaps one day I will look up the scriptures that support the encouragement above, but it will not be this morning.)

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | June 17, 2021

Escaping Grief?

Escaping Grief?

My daddy died unexpectedly in 2015. There was a bit of a legal ordeal afterwards. That adds to the grief.

About three years later our 29-year-old son died in 2018.

I had been wanting for a couple years or so to attend a music conference again. I LOVED going to Choral Fest “back in the day.” I decided to go ahead and attend the Lifeway Worship Conference in Gatlinburg, TN in June, 2019. I knew no one else who was going and that would be fine. I would be away and for a few days could pretend that mess was a bad dream and just revel in the music and worship. I would go to bed early if I wanted and sleep late if I needed to. I would just not think about the grief but instead be rejuvenated. It was an excellent plan.

Much of it went as planned. I was able to sleep when I wanted and needed to. I enjoyed the presentations of new music. I had my toes stepped on a few times during the messages. I cried during worship, but that’s normal for me.

What I didn’t plan on …. was … the first afternoon I saw someone I knew. A friend from another state who knew of our son’s struggles while living and that he had died. It was comforting to have someone who knew but didn’t expect me to talk. Then during the lunch break of the first full day, I joined three ladies I did not know. They were dear friends to each other and welcomed me into their circle. We introduced ourselves, talked, laughed, and shared a bit of our stories. I kinda “crashed their party” and joined them for other meals and sat with them during some listening sessions. And what did I do one evening at supper? I told them about our son’s death. They were very supportive. The last afternoon I was looking at some devotional books. When the author asked if I needed some help choosing one, what did I do? I blurted out that our son would have turned 30 that day and boo-hooed and boo-hooed. I sorta got myself together and chose one. Bless her, the next morning she was packing up her table as I walked by and she told me that she and her husband had prayed for me that morning.

We canNOT outrun God’s mercy and comforts. Even when all we want to do is run and hide and forget it, the grief is still there.  And God will send someone to walk beside you.

So …. In your grief you will wonder what to do and what not to do.  You will want to keep traditions.  Other days you will want everything to be different so you don’t miss your loved one so much. My unasked-for two cents worth is to plan your usual family gatherings When the day arrives if you do not feel like celebrating, don’t. Cry. Eat good food. Hug each other. Cry some more. Maybe the tears will, that day, turn into laughter as someone remembers funny things your loved one did.  And someone else will remember something sweet. And you will find yourself creating new, precious memories in spite of the grief.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | June 17, 2021

UGH

Ugh!

Sigh

NoooooOOOOOOOOO

What?!!
Uh, no, you did not just say that.


Silence
Screams

Whimpers
Sobs

Silence

Pain in the guts
The heart
The whole body

New events
Ongoing struggles

The quiet ones
The chatty ones
The great-vocabulary ones

There will be a time when there are no words.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.. – Romans 8:26 ESV

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | June 5, 2021

Be careful little ears


      Recently our pre-teen boys were briefly in the presence of some young males whose conversation was saturated with variations of the f-word.  Maybe not every second or third word but more than once per sentence (or sentence fragment). We exited the situation as quickly as possible.  Perhaps I should have said something to those folks but we chose to simply leave.

      Within a few days I was on the phone complaining about that language.  Of course, the boys were nearby and heard me.  Then they were trying to figure out what the f-word was.

     I know they’ve heard it.  I’ve been around when it was screamed in their presence – at least the older one.  Sadly, I’ve said it a few times.  They have both said it. They’ve both been talked to about the need to use appropriate words and that one isn’t.  They’ve even been swatted on the hiney to help them remember not to use it.

     But today …. The only f-words they could come up with were “frickin” (which is close enough and not allowed either) and “Frankenstein.”  I loved it.  I laughed to myself.  I thought, “Whew!  They didn’t hear nearly as much as I did.”


      And then I wondered ……


      As we sincerely confess our sins,


      As we more often make choices to use language that is kind,


      As we pray for our young ones to grow closer to Jesus,


      As they themselves desire to be more like Jesus,

      Is it possible that the Creator of the Universe puts a little bit of a filter on their ears?    

    Whether it was a spiritual filter or the boys were simply paying attention to other things, I don’t really care.   I do care that God used this to remind me that no matter what is going on around me, I can choose not to be submerged in it nor saturated by it nor suffocated by it.  The God who cleanses us from sin can also protect us from it.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me – Psalm 3:3 ESV

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | May 14, 2021

Prayer Changes ????

Oh dear God!  How can a few people cause such a stinkin mess? I really just don’t get it.  They’ve hurt so many people – some of my friends, family members, people at church, people at work, neighbors.  It’s like a bomb of pain explodes sending shrapnel into everyone in their path.  You gotta do something, God.  We can’t keep living like this.  Maybe they shouldn’t keep living! At least then they couldn’t keep on spreading hate and discontent and pain. Eh, I suppose that’s not a nice prayer.  But God, please do something with them!  Send them across the ocean or something!

Well, God, the sermon was about heaping burning coals of the heads of our enemies.  I think that’s an excellent idea!  Do you think I can do that these days and not go to jail?  I’d sure like to try!  What?  I didn’t hear the first part of that?  Be kind to them?!  You have got to be kidding!!  And burning coals were a good thing?  Surely you jest.  No? It was to keep them warm?  Well, I’ll be.  I thought it was always a comfortable seventy degrees in that part of the world. Oh God, you CANNOT mean for me to do anything nice and helpful for these people I’ve been praying about.  I have tried that.  And every time, every single solitary time, they either throw it back in my face or waste it or twist the story around when they tell it so it sounds like I’m the bad guy.

Yes, God, it’s me again.  If you’re so all-knowing and all-powerful, just exactly why aren’t those people locked up under the jail with the keys thrown away? That’s not my problem?  What do you mean that’s not my problem?  Of course it’s my problem!!  It’s MY family they hurt!!  To the core!!  They don’t deserve to be using up good air.  Decent people need to be breathing that air.

Oh Lord, I am so achy.  My back hurts, my heart hurts, my bones ache, my muscles are sore, and my emotions are worn out. Will you please, please heal me?  You know I’ve been to church when I can and even sent my tithes when I couldn’t go.  I’ve at least read the verse of the day every day.  Well, most days.  I have prayed for those people until I can’t pray any more.  They’re still out and about creating chaos.  And here I am, too sick to get out of bed.  It’s not fair, God.  It is NOT fair.

Ok, God. I listened to the sermon online today because I am too weak to go anywhere.  Is that stuff really true?  I mean, I learned early that you came to bring everybody into a good relationship with you, but a lot of folks simply want nothing to do with you, so just let ‘em go, let ‘em go. And I’ve heard that story of the lost sheep at least ninety-nine times – really sweet, but it doesn’t make good business sense to me, to leave most of your flock at risk to go get one stubborn little lamb.  The part of the sermon that was absolutely ridiculous is when the preacher said that you will have mercy on whom you will have mercy. That sounds like it makes no difference at all how good anybody is.  Do you really forgive and welcome THOSE people who have created such chaos and spread such pain?  I may have to look that up myself.  I know that preacher read that wrong.

Oh, Lord. Oh, God.  That preacher did not make all that up.  I’ve got to think about this.  I’m not so sure I want much to do with a god that accepts people who spread that much meanness.

MY attitude?  MY mean words?  MY inconsiderate actions? Well, I never!  Mmmm, maybe once or twice.  That’s why my friends aren’t checking on me anymore?  Have I become so sour and bitter no one wants to listen to me?  A little prideful, too?  I don’t think so.  Y’all need a reality check.

Well, God, there’s been no electricity for a couple days.  Good thing it’s not freezing nor too hot.  Sure is quiet around here.  You’ve been trying to tell me something?  Maybe I can hear you now?   Ok …. I’ll find that Bible and open it up.  Might as well.  Can’t watch TV or check anything on the internet.  All the batteries around here are at 2% or less.

Oh, dear Lord.  I may not have created all the chaos those folks do, but I am still lacking when it comes to living for you. It’s been another two days without electricity.  I sure am glad I can eat poptarts and beanie weenies and have a good supply of bottled water.  You gave up so much.  I am sometimes inconsiderate and impatient and … well ….. there’s just a lot of attitudes I have that don’t line up with your spirit.  I am so sorry.  And all those things about being gracious to others …. It’s right there in black and white.   Maybe those folks will hear you, too.  I hope so.  Either way, I leave them in your hands and I’ll stop telling you how to fix it.  And, I do believe that as I realize how forgiving and gracious you have been to me, it will be easier to be gracious to others.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | May 11, 2021

String of Prayers

God, I love you so much!  Thank you so much for bringing me to you!  I want to live just the way you want me to.  I want to share this joy with everybody I know! You are so wonderful! Thank you for getting me on a better path for my life.  Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for rescuing me from that mess I was in.  Amen.

Dear God, I love you.  I am so glad you loved me first and you sent some of your children to tell me about you and your strength. Thank you for guiding me.  Thank you for the Bible so I can learn how to live the way you want me to.  My friends need you, too, God.  I don’t understand why they don’t want this joy, but you can rescue them, too.  Please, God. Please bring my friends to you, too.  Amen.

Dear God, You are so awesome and I love you.  But my friends don’t want to be around me anymore.  They say I’m too happy and I act like I’m better than they are. I just want to share the story like others did with me. Why won’t they just listen to me?! In the meantime, help me find some new friends. Thank you. Amen.

Dear God, Thank you so much for my new friends!  We get together and read the Bible and pray and share meals.  It’s so much fun!  I didn’t know I could enjoy being with people this much.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Amen.

Oh dear God!  My old friends are texting me ALL the time.  They have so many problems!  Will I pray for this?  Will I help with that? Give me the words to tell them about you.  Send someone to help them with their craziness. You know I’m too busy teaching about you to go help with their stuff.  Thank you for taking care of all that!  Amen.

God!! What’s up with all this?!?!!  Why aren’t you bringing my old friends to you so they’ll live right?  They just keep getting into trouble and fussing and fighting!  Oh, dear God I am SO glad you brought me out of that. So very glad.  Thank you for my new friends.  Amen.

God.  Are you there? Hello?! Where are you?!  Where WERE you?? My old friends …. They’re in the hospital with hypothermia and malnutrition and you SAID you would answer all our prayers!! I asked for you to send somebody to help them! Anyway, thank you for getting me out of that mess or I’d be there with them.

Yes, God, I’m still here.  My new friends and I are over here teaching kids about you.  You should know all the good things we’re doing for you.  You know everything.  Aren’t you proud of us for sharing the good news?  What?  I need to check my attitude?  What are you talking about?  I’m doing all the stuff my new friends say I should.  I read my Bible, I pray, I go to all the church meetings, I tithe, and I even give some extra money to the outreach program.  I think I’m doing pretty well.

God, it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep.  I keep thinking of my old friends. Why haven’t you sent them help?  The help they need is a friend?  Well they have each other!  They need a friend who knows you?  Well, send somebody for Pete’s sake!  Me? Are you serious? After all the lies they put on social media about me? I started living the way you say to and then they exaggerated everything I ever did wrong.  I just don’t think I can be nice to them.

Reread the story?  What are you saying God?  I’ve read that book all the way through!  Oh, well, I skipped some boring parts here and there.  Read it like haven’t seen it before, when I’ve been teaching it to others? I don’t have time for that. Read it to see what Jesus gave up so I could have this joy?  I know you can see my eyes rolling in disbelief.  Maybe I can squeeze this into my schedule.

Oh dear God.  I have become so comfortable with being forgiven, with being your child. I take it too lightly.  You are so right (of course you are). Now that I am beginning to understand how much grace you have given to me, how can I not extend that same grace to others?  It is not easy, God, to forgive their meanness.  I don’t want to fall back into that mess and muck and mire.  Can I take someone with me?  Someone else who understands that not one of us is worthy to judge another?   You are right, too, God, that I need a checkup from the heart up … to check the motives behind my ministries, whether my words are seasoned with your wisdom, and if my actions are guided by an attitude of love and grace. Amen.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | May 9, 2021

“nuther Mama”

To my “nuther mama”:  Thank you!

For piles of shredded Kleenex and a worn-out Floyd Cramer 45 when I was a toddler.

For loving us so much and making us “toe the line” so well as children that my cousin and I could get along at your house even when we fought everywhere else.

For trusting me to drive you everywhere while you recovered from surgery – when I was all of sixteen years old.

For pretending I didn’t wake you when I came in late from a date during that summer.

For letting me invade your home and drink your coffee while I went to college.

For being such a devoted caregiver to many – my mama, your mama, your husband, and us your children by birth and otherwise.

For beating Mama at Scrabble because I rarely could.

To you and your daughter for trips to the beach and the mountains.

For lunch out.

For shopping at K-Mart, even during thunderstorms.

For listening.

For sharing.

For caring.

For saying, “I have no idea what I would do” (in that situation).

For being you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | May 8, 2021

LESSONS FROM MAMA

     I sit here typing on Mother’s Day Eve.  My emotions have been all over the place the last couple weeks. Wonderful things have happened in my circles of friends and family.  Not so great things have happened.  Memories, more emotions than events, have flooded my brain.  I’ve struggled with how to do things differently so we create more happy memories than ones we would rather forget. Then, in one instant, all these stories flashed through my mind.  My mama, my teacher. Yes! I can write something this Mother’s Day weekend!   

     Yes, Mama was a teacher. As a young woman, she did not go to college. She had no formal training in education.  But she was one of those natural-born teachers. Perhaps there is something in our blood, in our DNA, that carries that knack of communicating skills and ideas to others. There can be an intuitive side to knowing how to do a task, then figure out enough ways to explain it and demonstrate it so that others can understand and do it, too.
    I don’t remember learning to read. I don’t know how much I knew when I started school, but academics were mostly easy for me all the way through.  We had books.  Even when books were not cheap, we owned books.  We met the book mobile at the old schoolhouse every week during the summer and used the school library during the school year.  Mama made sure I had little math workbooks to do over the summer.  Now I know the educational value of that.  When I was eight, I just thought it was fun to play school. 

     Mama played games with us.  We had house rules for Monopoly and Scrabble decades before “house rules” were an acceptable thing. (I was shocked when I saw space to write house rules in some games we purchased last year.)  She helped us learn to count the Monopoly money.  She gave hints about words that could be made from our seven letters in Scrabble.  As adults, we would all help each other.  None of us became champion Scrabble players, but we had a good time and learned new words.

     Our daughter remembers Granny walking through the yard and woods, showing her which plants could be used for what things.  Years later during graduate school, she reviewed some of those facts. Either Mama was too busy taking care of three children for she and I to do that, or I simply didn’t pay attention.  I was that kind of child.

     Without saying “The arts are important” to overall education, Mama taught us that.  I started piano lessons when we could take them during the school day.  She drove to a friend’s house or our grandmother’s so I could practice that first year.  When during-the-school-day lessons were no longer an option, Mama made sure we got to piano lessons in the community.  During high school my sister played flute and bass drum in the marching band and participated in school plays.

     Mama taught me how to cook and freeze and can. I used to think everybody knew the difference in the consistency of cornbread, biscuits, and cake just before it goes into the pan.

     Occasionally while I’m crocheting someone will ask when I learned how.  I do not know; I’ve just always known. Cross-stitch I remember learning – I was 18.  That’s one thing Mama didn’t teach me. But, she did teach me embroidery and sewing which are close relatives of cross-stitch.

     I could write an entire blog post – or more – of the lessons in these two statements she made.  Our children were young and it was hard to decide sometimes which activities to do and which to skip.  I asked her opinion.  She said, “I have always regretted that I didn’t teach your sister how to make biscuits and that you didn’t get to take dance.  You just have to do the best you can with the information you have at the time and then move on.”

     You are not too old to learn.  When I was born, Mama became a stay-at-home mother until sixteen years later when she went to work in a shirt factory.  When clothing manufacturing moved to China, her factory closed.  A government-funded program paid for her to go to college.  She earned her degree as a licensed practical nurse at the age of 47 and worked in that field until shortly before her death.  I learned that lesson well; I went back to college at the age of 49.

     Community is important.  She and a friend became the leaders of a local 4H chapter so that children would have a place to learn about agriculture, cooking, sewing, electricity, public speaking, and oh so much more.  They MADE us do our jobs as secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and president.  Being shy or rambunctious were replaced with orderly, confident speaking.

    Children are unique and you must bring them up differently.  Our brother had a time academically, and it resulted in some funny stories.  He is also a hard worker and helped financially with the farm when no one else knew about it.  We all knew he was out there with Daddy getting the chores done.

     Children do not need to know everything.  I knew as a child that we didn’t have as much stuff as some other families. Mama told us she had to make payments at the dentist office.  He was more expensive than some others, but he provided care at an orphanage for no cost to those children, and he allowed payment arrangements so she would pay a little more. That taught me that you can manage what you have well enough that you can share with others who are less fortunate. After Daddy died and I had access to some old records, I gained a better idea of how much they had scrimped and saved so they wouldn’t be burden on anyone if they grew very old.  I also appreciate more that as a child I never knew any of that.  I only knew I was loved and cared for and had all my needs and some of my wants.  No need to spill all our adult troubles on our children.  Let them be children.

    There is great value in being at peace with life and death.  The last day I saw her alive she was propped on pillows in a bed at Spartanburg Regional Hospital.  Little 6-month-old grandson cuddled next to her for a while.  At one point she said, “I’m going home tomorrow, one way (pointing out the door) or another (pointing up).”  She died that night.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | April 29, 2021

Random Ramblings

Manure moments are a part of every life.  Sometimes you wallow in it and wear the stench for all to see and smell.  Sometimes you mix it well with the rest of life so that it produces beautiful, sweet experiences for all around you.

That person who “has it all together” and handles the bumps and twists and turns of life so well has probably experienced more than you want to know.  Thank God for their perseverance.

Coffee, sunrise, and conversation with God are a great start to the day.  I am thankful for friends who encourage me to be consistent with reading the Word and praying intentionally.

Sunshine brightens the day, disinfects, and is essential for growth of plants and animals. The light of the Son brightens our days, cleanses our spirits, and is essential for our spiritual growth.

Gentle showers coax seeds to sprout and grow, bringing new life from the soil. Devasting deluges level landscapes. Both are rainwater.

A can opener leaves a sharp edge on the can.  If you are forgetful and careless, pain and blood remind you. It’s good to have bandages on hand.

A little sugar helps the medicine go down.  A lot of sugar can cause you to need medicine.

Fall football, early spring baseball, cold winter nights, watching TV, after playing in summer rains, not feeling well, reading a book — every life has a time of needing a fuzzy, warm blanket.

Those tree leaves almost hide the sunrise.  They also provide much-loved shade during the heat of the day.

See the mess.  Grieve the mess. Accept the blessings. Choose gratitude.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | April 28, 2021

LIFE

Life gets nasty.

God sends cleansing showers.

Sickness comes.

God sends insight to health care providers.

We grow weary.

A friend, who cares not one iota how our house looks, stops by for coffee.

Life gets messy.

God sends a breeze to blow away the litter.

Life gets lonely.

The phone rings. We chat. We cry. We laugh.

Life is hard.

God send a friend with a soft heart and a gentle hug.

Resources get scarce.

Food appears on the doorstep.  A utility bill is mysteriously paid.

Life is wonderful! Or not. Still,

Friend and foe alike forge our character into something better.

We ask why about so many things.

We hear no answers.

 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. – Ecclesiastes 13:12 NLT

The grass withers and the flowers fade,
    but the word of our God stands forever.
– Isaiah 40:8 NLT

Creation.

God’s Word.

Peace.

#bgwww21

Older Posts »

Categories