Posted by: Beth | November 27, 2021

Some Things That Make Life a Bit Easier

I’m not always right. Neither is anyone else.

A degree means you’ve studied and passed tests, not that you are wise.

Empathy goes a long way.

We can disagree on politics, child-rearing, religion, and what to have for dinner, and still be friends because we respect each other.

Most of us are hurting about something. Some hide it well. Be easy on folks.

Most of my troubles have at least one root in a misunderstanding.

Pride makes a stoic face, a hard heart, and few friends.

Walking with a young child either frustrates you because you can’t get anywhere or opens your eyes to the wonders around you that you usually ignore because they are are so common.

Grace gives others room to make mistakes and grow from them.

Forgiveness means I leave the consequences of your actions in God’s hands rather than plotting revenge. It does not mean I’ll let you continue to beat me up physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.

Happiness is light and fluffy and often accompanied by smiles and laughter.

Joy is knowing in the deepest part of my being that God is with me and will provide what I need. Joy skips along with happiness. Joy gives strength as our boots trudge through muck that tries to lock us in misery.

Thankfulness- gratitude- is easy to have when life is good. It is more helpful when life is rough and counting our blessings takes our eyes, if just for a few moments, off the current circumstances and to the bigger picture of our lives.

Have a blessed holiday season.

Cherish the good memories.

Let go of the pain.

Breathe.

#bgwww21
I first posted this on Facebook 20191127

Posted by: Beth | November 7, 2021

Learn to Pause


Thanksgiving – November 7

Do you remember life before the pause button?

As a child, I had one chance a year at seeing The Wizard of Oz, Rudolf, or A Charlie Brown Christmas. By the time my sister came along, we had VHS (if you’re under 30, just don’t even ask).  Then along came DVD, internet videos, DVR (What? You can pause “live” TV?), and probably other things I know nothing about.

We would run to the bathroom or to get a drink during commercials so we wouldn’t miss anything during a favorite show. Now, all you do is hit “pause” and start right where you left off.  I often tell the grandchildren, “just hit pause and come on.”  Entertainment is oh so convenient. 

Yesterday was a different kind of pause.

In the space of a few hours, this is part of what happened, probably not in this order.

Arrive home from helping with a family project
Scarf down leftovers for a very late lunch
Child care helper brings boys home from a fall festival (read CANDY).
Boys bored from two cold days spent mostly indoors (bored and generally very active, put those two together in your imagination)
Go to bathroom to see sand poured over the tile.
Ask “Where is the broom that is NOT hanging where it’s supposed to?”
While looking for broom see birdseed on the floor
“Never mind Nannie. You don’t need it. I made a path through the sand to the sink.”
Talk about whether I had ordered something for a repair at the house
Arguing over which pages to look at in a toy catalogue
Trying to look up some information online
Phone calls and texts
Husband (finally!) leaving for the store honks the horn
I figure it’s an accident.
Child runs in saying, “Nannie, Nannie!  Bebe said come look at the sunset!”

So I put on a sweater, grabbed my phone, went outside, and looked westward.

It was gorgeous.

The air was cold. The neighborhood, quiet. As another day came to an end, most of what worried me was not really a big deal.  The sun will come up tomorrow.  We have another chance to get chores done and hopefully teach little boys how to become gentlemen.

I did find a broom.  I prefer to feel like  I’m walking on a beach when I am really there 😊

#bgwww21  @bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 6, 2021

Perspective and Gratitude

Thanksgiving – November 6

I’ve written about two incidents that radically changed the way I view the world around me.  There have been many more; some just as dramatic and others very subtle.

Awareness – Perspective – Gratitude

My first thought along this line was that becoming aware of different cultures – both in a foreign country and in my own town – prodded me toward being grateful.  Awareness of others leading to a deeper sense of gratitude.  I like that idea. Within seconds many counter examples came to mind.  How often do we want a particular car or phone or game or toy or app or pair of shoes or jacket right when we see it?  There is nothing wrong with wanting something different or better than what you already own.  BUT, when that kind of desire becomes constant, it is a serious problem.  When I figure out how to overcome it, I’ll let you know.  I’m still working on myself with books and crochet yarn and stretchy pants, and two young boys with Legos, Nerf guns, and toys in general.

So what’s the difference?  We see something nicer, then we want it.  We see something pitiful or undesirable, and we want to stay away from it.  Nothing intrinsically wrong with that.  But. How can we become satisfied with what we have instead of constantly yearning for more and bigger and better?  How can we reach out to those with “less” (when they may be richer is much more important ways), to connect with each other and grow our faith together?

Perspective.

Whether we want to admit it or not, our perspective of everything around us is shaped by our past.  Whatever we have learned and experienced effects how we see the world.  A landscaper looks at dandelions in an otherwise perfectly manicured lawn and sees weeds.  A young child sees the same plants and is in awe of the beautiful yellow flowers and that fluffy white stuff you can blow across the yard.

So how is our perspective about gratitude?

Are we thankful only when we have everything we want?  That’s never going to happen.  Most of us will always want more or different.

Can we be thankful for what we have and plan a reasonable way to get that something bigger, better, nicer that our heart so wants?

Can we … can I? … possibly be grateful for what I have without wanting more?  At least for some period of time?  The idea of fasting is generally applied to food.  I wonder …. What if we … what if I …. Fasted from purchasing anything other than what is absolutely necessary for a month?  Even a week?  Would it help us learn to be more grateful? 

I’ll be honest.  I once told myself that I was going to purchase NO books for a month.  You know what happened?  I had a stack of them in an online cart, just waiting for the end of the month.  And I didn’t even wait the full month.  I bought them.

Our actions are not the main part of the problem.  The problem is our hearts.  Jesus’ longest recorded sermon boils down to “get your heart right and the rest of life will fall into place.”  Falling into place includes an attitude of gratitude, an ability to be thankful for what we have, the condition of being content.

How aware am I of what is deep in my heart?  How do I see the world around me and far away?  What is the condition of my attitude toward others?  About things?  How does it affect my daily decisions – to better my community or just myself? Am I grateful for what I have? Or am I grateful I am able to get more, bigger, better things?

If we are ever going to live with an attitude of gratitude, it must spring forth from the heart.  Are we cultivating the soil of our hearts to grow gratitude?

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 5, 2021

How Many?


Thanksgiving – November 5

c. 2000

our house, rural area of SC

We were part of a group hosting a weekly meeting with children at a local apartment complex. We would tell a Bible story, play some games, complete a craft, and eat a snack – standard weekly children’s activities.

Our house and yard are not huge, but when you’re used to living on concrete and asphalt, two acres of grass and trees might be a different experience.  So, we invited a number of the children to come over for an afternoon.  As I remember, we all had a good time.  

When we first arrived (yes, I provided transportation), one of the children said, “WOW! You have a BIG yard!”  I grew up really out in the country, out past the sticks and into the twigs. So, I think this lot is small. Perspective.

Once we were in the back yard, one of the little boys looked around (You could see a few homes from our yard.) and asked, “How many people have you seen shot here?”

He didn’t ask “HAVE you seen anyone shot?”  He asked “HOW MANY have you seen shot?”

Uh, none. 

Many of us like to think that in a rural area or a small town, that children grow up feeling safe.  Not so. In the midst of a happy, fun-filled afternoon of crafts and food, that one question changed my perspective of life in our county.  While I live here in a bit of (blessed, to be honest) ignorance, just a few miles away preschool children know the reality of gunshots literally in their yard.  Perspective. Awareness of what is around us. Mine changed that day.

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 4, 2021

Music and a Mango

Thanksgiving – November 4

1999

El Salvador

My husband and I first traveled outside the US – a mission trip to assist in building homes.

Our fondest memory is a spontaneous time of worship after the Wednesday service.  A young man who had never had a lesson could play the keyboard like nobody’s business.  (For those of you who ain’t from around here — that means he could play very, very well.) The locals sang in Spanish; we sang in English.  Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.  And some other songs.  Three languages – English, Spanish, and music.  One heart.  A glorious, tiny glimpse of heaven to come.

One morning while we were on the way to the worksite, we passed a man walking along the roadside.  He picked a mango off a tree and kept walking.  Our leader told us that is common.  The mango will be his lunch.  We saw a lot of other new-to-us sights.  A 55-gallon drum of water stood beside the door of a home. Rainwater collected in it to provide water for the family.  We saw a home with three wooden walls with gaps between the planks, plastic walls, one electric wire running to it, and a TV. We saw so many smiles.  Adults were happy to have a home.  Children were just happy – no toys, often no shoes, and smiling from ear to ear.

The leaders tried to prepare us for re-entry at home.  Just one week in a different culture and it was a shock to come back to life as we knew it. That story is for another day. 

Music and a mango changed the way I see life.  Awareness. We need to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to see what is.

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 3, 2021

What? No muffins?!?!!??!!

Thanksgiving Advent – November 3

What!!?!?!!? No muffins??!!!?!!!

But I have to have a muffin!  Toasted. With butter. With cheese on half and honey, cinnamon, and clove on the other half.  I just gotta.  It’s breakfast. But no muffins. Who ate the last one AND left the box in the freezer? My day is ruined.  Just shot, before it’s even started.

Okay, so there is other bread here.  And other breakfast food. Oatmeal. Grits. Rice. Bacon. There is PLENTY of food, breakfast food even.  BUT I WANT THAT MUFFIN that isn’t available.

That was not a child.  It was me.  A grown woman. A mother. A grandmother.  A caregiver who is trying to teach grandchildren to be grateful for what they have.   Do you see a bit of a problem here?

Before I can teach these young ones anything about character, I need to live it out myself.  I want them to be grateful.  We have so very many things, material things and the intangible ones that are really more important, for which to be thankful. 

To be grateful, we must see something for which we are thankful.  We must be aware of what we have and what we don’t have.  Before we can grow that attitude of gratitude, we need to see our circumstances clearly. We need to be in touch with reality.

My reality on no-gluten-free-English-muffin day was that I had lots of options and I needed to stop acting like a spoiled brat. 

So today, three weeks until Thanksgiving Eve, how is our attitude?  How is our connection with reality?


#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 2, 2021

Thanksgiving Advent – Nov 2, 2021


Grateful

Thankful

Appreciative

Content

Satisfied

Aren’t these things we want to be?  Content, satisfied – having all we need?  We especially want others to be appreciative and thankful for what we do for them.  Are we appreciative and thankful for what others do for us?  Are we grateful for what we do have?

Some days, honestly, isn’t it easier to be discontent and grumpy?  I have had days when I said, “I’m in a bad mood.  I’m grumpy and discomgaligumphilated and leave me alone.  I want to stay this way.”  I doubt you find that word in a dictionary.  It means all those grumpy, unsatisfied, out-of-sorts-with-the-world feelings that you just don’t know a word to use to describe them.  And I bet you’ve had some moments like that.  I’ve had days when I really wanted to wallow around in my sorrow and pity party rather than get out of the funk.

But.

There is life to live.  As long as we have a pulse.

Some of you are facing a holiday season for the first time without a loved one (or two or more).  Some of you are over-the-moon happy because after a year or more of not seeing family and friends, THIS is the year everyone gets together to eat and exchange gifts, and everyone is living to tell the tales of 2020.  Some of you are determined to have a great time with family in spite of sickness. Given the last two years, most of us are dealing with a mixture of despair and yearning for happiness.

This I have learned.  Happiness is fleeting.  Joy comes in the morning (ok, I admit it – I am a morning person not a night owl). Each day can bring a fresh start.  Taking a few moments to reflect on something pleasant and calming helps the rest of the day go better.

Today, take five minutes.  Set an alarm if you’re crunched for time.  Take just five minutes.  Breathe.  Make a list on paper or mentally of a few things you have for which you are grateful.  If sadness is weighing you down, cry during these moments.  Sing or listen to a song that brings a smile to your face.  You are on your way to a grateful November.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. – Paul’s letter to the Philippians

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 1, 2021

Thanksgiving Advent


Ok, so there’s really no generally recognized thing “Thanksgiving Advent.”  There’s the Thanksgiving holiday.  There is the Christian season of Advent, which begins on Thanksgiving or the following Sunday and ends on Christmas.  I like the idea of celebrating Epiphany, if for no other reason it stretches the holiday season another twelve days. It also gives me a good reason to leave the tree up until January 6.  Lest you think I’m overly into Christmas decorations, we tend to put the tree up the Saturday before Christmas.  But I have digressed …. Again … imagine that.

As I sit here in the morning quiet, knowing I will soon hear “How much candy can I have today?” (which really means “I’m going to eat as much as I can before breakfast.”), I think ahead.  We had a very busy October.  I had to write teeny-tiny to get everything on the calendar. I have resolved to make very few appointments during November.  We need to get some things done around the house and we need some time to just be.  And then will come December.  Decades ago when we first home schooled our children, I thought, “Whew!  Now the calendar won’t be so packed in May and December.”  I was wrong.  Where the children are educated has only a small impact on the overall number of activities available.

I have scrolled a little through social media.  People are putting up Christmas trees.  Others are in a camp I was in for much of my life: Can we PLEASE get past Thanksgiving before we dive into Christmas?  Then I was in a business that necessitated planning for Christmas in July and putting it out for customers in November and … you get the idea … I had to get over waiting until December to think about Christmas. 

I have again digressed.  Or maybe not.

Because this kind of thing happens to many of us.  We want to take time to be grateful.  Yet so many things call (or scream) for our attention. 

Many books and online resources are available to assist Christians in preparing their hearts for Christmas.  To encourage taking time to think about more than the gifts we get and the activities we are doing.  For most people, observing Advent ends up being one more thing to check off the list in a season that is already too busy.

So what if we start today?  What if, instead of packing our calendars full for the next two months, we start today?  What if today we do one thing to help us focus on the eternal?  Or if you happen not to believe in the eternal, to focus on the universe and all those in it?

That’s the one thing for today.  Think about that.  Will it make any difference in my life, or anyone else’s, if I take a few moments today to focus on others?   I may run an errand for someone.  I may make a phone call. I may pray with someone. I may answer a call I would otherwise ignore.  Will I take time to stop and really listen to my spouse, my friend, my child, my parent? 

Activities.  Gratitude.  Anticipating a holiday.  They’re all entangled.  May we balance them well.

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | October 31, 2021

Hope – and an empty bucket

Hope. An empty Trick or Treat bucket.  They go together?  How in the world?!

On this day, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, they go together WONDERFULLY!

The day began with the end-of-season celebration at Miracle League.  Since it’s the day before Halloween, of course there is a trunk or treat to end the festivities. An “ingrafted” family member (one of those not born into the family but we treat her as such) walked around with the boys as they collected candy and other treats, while I gave away candy and books. Amazing fact 1 of the day: both boys were very agreeable to leaving their candy buckets in the back of the Jeep on the way home.

 I’m thankful they realize how badly red40 food coloring affects their behavior. The older child had told people he couldn’t have red40 and most folks gave him something else. But they are still children, and sometimes having to give up half your loot can be an ordeal.  Amazing fact #2: They didn’t complain about getting rid of a good bit of the candy.  Yes, they still had enough to keep several dentists in business.

Fast forward to the evening.  Hayrides Through Trunks of Treats at our church.  This time the five-year-old stayed with me and gave out candy (and books, until we gave out, which sadly was long before the line of children ended). Our ingrafted daughter also gave out candy and the older child hung out with friends after collecting his treats during a hayride. We had many more people come through than we anticipated.  We ran out of candy several times, and a “candy runner” came by with more. The younger child had made a ride through the event and collected candy.  At one point, I went through his candy, got out what he couldn’t have, and put it in the give-away bowl.  Later, we were almost out again.  That child dumped his bucket into the give-away bowl.  I asked, “Why did you do that?  That was all of your candy.  You didn’t have to.” 

He replied, “I have more at home and I want to share.”  A five-year-old did that. 

And when we were all together again and the older child heard the story, he said, “I’ll share mine with you.”  And he did.

And that is how hope and an empty trick or treat bucket go together.  Bringing up children can be overwhelming.  Tonight, I see hope.  I see character traits I like. And in the future, possibly as soon as tomorrow, when they are fussing and claiming “Mine!” and “He has to give that back!” and even slinging things at each other, I will remember this evening.  Somewhere in their hearts and souls are the seeds of compassion and sharing, and seeds can grow.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | October 5, 2021

Healing

I whine, moan, and complain so much that I thought I’d share some good news.  Of course, it has some whining and complaining involved.

Yesterday was not a stellar day.  I’m not sure I’d rank it anywhere above so-so.  However, it had a sweet ending.  A not-little-anymore boy wanted to be snuggled into my side with my arm around him as he drifted off to sleep.  That’s sweetness.  That’s trust. That’s peaceful.  I like that.

My first few minutes of being awake yesterday were glorious!

More whining and moaning are in the background information for the glorious to make sense.  For weeks, months, (years, maybe?), when I first get out of bed – or out of a car or any seat where I’ve been for an hour or more – I hobble.  It’s like the bottoms of my feet and my legs and joints have forgotten how to move smoothly.  I move around a few minutes and I’m okay.   A few weeks ago I stepped on an L-shaped piece of metal.  It hit my lower left shin.  It didn’t break or tear anything (yes, I had it checked) but it was sore for days!  Over the next few weeks, the pain moved into my foot, my right knee hurt from compensating, and I have been generally grumpy.  I’ve been taking some supplements to fight off a low-grade (not enough to cause a fever) infection and some anti-inflammatory ones.  (Yes, under the direction of a health care professional.)  I’ve also been unusually whiney and weepy for a few days. 

So, night before last the situation ramped up a bit.  The pain was not just in my shin.  It was in the top of my foot, and in my ankle, and my right knee felt like it may need a doctor’s attention. Then my left elbow felt like tendonitis. Then the bottom of my foot hurt, and my right hip, and my shoulders.  I’m a wimp when it comes to pain.  I admit it.  I was crying quiet tears and took something for the pain.  My back hurt.  I made myself read to the boys anyway.  The medicine kicked in and I slept.

And I awoke.  And I lay there a moment.  No pain.  None.  Not my back, not my hip (which is an off-and-on thing), not my foot, not my sinuses, not nothing. I gently moved to get out of bed. No hobbling.  Was this real? I continued to move gently to the bathroom and then the kitchen.  Wow!  Really, no pain.  Not sure what happened.  Tried to figure out if I did anything different.  I don’t think so.  I didn’t even pray differently.  A little later as I was reading a morning devotional, I realized my neck wasn’t stiff at all. That’s odd, too, first thing in the morning.  So, okay, I didn’t do anything.  This is ALL good.  I’ll put it in the miracle column, say thank you to God, and go on about my day.

I could end this here, but I will add two things.  I did have a couple aches this morning when I arose, but really nothing worth mentioning.  I am SO, SO much better than a week ago. When I saw my NP yesterday, she said it could have been that whatever infection I was fighting gave its last hoorah the night I was hurting and crying.  I’m familiar with the principle. When using homeopathic and herbal remedies, there is often a healing crisis just before you get well.   

I close this with a grateful heart and prayers for a God-lead day.

#bgwww21

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