Posted by: Beth | May 19, 2022

Content?

I’ve been angry.

A LOT!

There.  I said it.

I’ve confessed my anger.

“Angry about what?” you may wonder.

It’s very simple.  I’m angry because I can’t do as many things as I used to do. I need more rest. I bet most folks over 40 or 50 can empathize with me.  Meanwhile, my friends who are 80 or so are chuckling to themselves and thinking, “Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Just wait. I hope you live long enough to see how good you have it right now.” Some folks my age who have serious health issues are thinking about the same thing. 

I am trying to learn to be content.  I’m better at it than I used to be.  My brain knows (mostly) what I need to do to take care of myself.  But, my silly want-tos sometimes don’t listen.  Fortunately, the take-care-of-yourself part of my brain is winning more of the time than it did twenty or so years ago.  Yes, I have been stretched too thin (energy-wise, not my body; it’s never been too thin) for most of my life.

Recently, my evening devotional ended with Ecclesiastes 3, the chapter about there being a time for everything: to be born, to die, to love, to hate, for peace, for war, to build up, to tear down, and a lot of others.  The VERY next morning the verse of the day that popped up was Ecclesiastes 3:1.  Well, well.  I wondered what opportunity was about to pop up in front of me that I really needed to evaluate before I opened my mouth.  That very week, two opportunities were literally in my face.  Things that I have done – or something very similar.  Things that I CAN do.  But SHOULD I? 

The prayerful, thoughtful answer was a quick “No” to both.  Could I enjoy those ministry opportunities?  Most likely.  Do I have the skills needed?  I think so.  Would my other responsibilities suffer?  Yes, they would, because every day has only 24 hours and I cannot work twelve or fourteen of them.  Maybe if I hadn’t in my thirties and forties I could now, but that’s water under the bridge and we’ll never know.

Maybe, just maybe, I am learning to be content.

I still wanted a garden this summer!  Oh well … maybe next year.

#bgwww22

Posted by: Beth | May 15, 2022

Wouldn’t it be nice?

Oh, that would be so nice!

I watched as children splashed, swam, and played around in the pool.  Their parents sat at a nearby table, dressed NOT in swimwear but as if they are headed to dinner at a sit-down restaurant.  HOW in the world can you DO that? Well, I’m sure it helps that your children are confident and secure being in the water twenty or forty feet away from you.  Meanwhile, we have one grandson, aka fishmonkey, who happily swam away and started conversations with others, and one who clung to me like white – or brown- on rice.   There I stood in three feet of blissfully cool water, encouraging him to put at least a little space between us.  “I’ve got you.  I’m not going to turn loose.  You have on a life jacket.  You are fine.”  I sighed deeply as I thought, “This is not a restful vacation.  This is work in a different place.”

Across the street at the ocean, a similar scene played out. Fishmonkey needed someone very near him because he is fearless and would go out too far.  Honestly, you can’t hear well over the sound of waves.  And clingy one would barely get into the water, and only if I was with him.

Fast-forward just one year.

I sat beside the pool, dressed in shorts and a shirt and watched BOTH boys playing in the water.  Fishmonkey splashed everywhere and talked with people.  Little clingy one, secure in a floatie, clung not to me but to the edge of the pool, venturing toward the middle from time to time.  He contentedly played by himself until time to get ready for bed.

At the ocean, they both played in the edge of the water. The threat of rip tides was high, so none of us ventured out past our knees.  Okay, fishmonkey went out waist deep on the days the ocean was calm.  They built sand forts and dug for treasure. Sometimes I was out in the water, too.  BUT I was able at other times to wear my shorts and shirt or a summer dress, sit nearby, and watch them.  It was nice.  Very nice.

Parents and caregivers of young children — yes, they will grow up.  No, they will not be permanently attached to your hip.  It will seem like it. For some children it is a very long and sometimes painful process moving away from clingy. However, time passes and things change.  Let us attempt to find contentment wherever we are.

#bgwww22

Posted by: Beth | May 5, 2022

Surprised by a Book

Surprised by a Book

Hard work with a cheerful attitude, death of a parent, courtship, honoring commitments, friends acting weird — not exactly the topics I expected to interest our grandsons, ages 5 and 9.  A story about dragons or a shoot-out in the Old West or a young boy who constantly gets into trouble — those I expect the boys to find interesting.  But seriously, a slowly moving story of commitment to faith and family?  After a few chapters, I put the book aside to hear, “But Nanny, what happened next?!  You can’t just stop reading it!”  And so, we continued reading one or two chapters a night until we finished Like a Green Tree by Edith S Witmer (Rod and Staff Publishers, 2017) .

One lesson from this experience is that while as parents we know what books our children have enjoyed reading or listening to us read, we need to try different topics and authors.  Reading a wide variety of materials is the only way to discover how varied their interests really are. 

We all know that values are caught more so than taught.  Our behaviors and behaviors we vocally admire in others make a much deeper, longer-lasting impact on children than anything we tell them.  In Like a Green Tree, Leroy Miller experiences spiritual growing pains during his twenties. He questions his faith when some of his friends act strangely. He wonders why the young woman he was so sure that God had chosen for his wife told him, “No, I will not allow you to court me.”

This book is marketed for young teens, and I hope to read it again as our boys get older.  Yes, the farm life is different from our everyday lives and no, we do not share exactly the same faith.  Still, the acts of how to get along with others and question your faith are valuable. 

Happy Reading!

You may not find this at the big box stores or online suppliers. You can find it at http://www.milestonebooks.com. 

#bgwww22

Posted by: Beth | March 26, 2022

Regrets?

It can be hard to say that final good-bye.

Even with a heart full of love and wonderful memories, the process is difficult.

Regrets cause the process to be more painful and take longer.  At least, that’s what it looks like to me.

So?

So this.

Love someone?  Tell them.

Angry and bitter?  Attempt to sort it out.

Appreciate someone?  Tell them. Be specific.

Sorry for something?  Apologize.

Have a precious memory?  Share it!  Some of the best conversation start with, “Do you remember when we ….?”

Guideline for fewer regrets:
1. Love God.
2. Love each other.

#bgwww22

Posted by: Beth | March 12, 2022

Rest = Shabbat? Nope


I have a long-time friend who practices Shabbat. My opinion of that has ranged from “Must be nice!” through “I wish I could do that,” to “No, I just can’t.” I’ve thought she was crazy.  I’ve been envious. 

Observing Shabbat is basically resting from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.  (I thought. More on that later.) A Jewish custom, church leaders have added to the scriptures until it can be a major chore to follow all the rules.  I’ve even seen a kosher gas oven!  It automatically lights the oven before sundown on Friday, so that you can cook without lighting a fire. 

On the topic of rest — there are different kinds of rest: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.  Most of us know when we need physical rest.  And if you don’t take care to get enough, eventually your body will take over your will to do things and you will rest when your body just stops.  Watching an active child plop on the floor and be asleep in five seconds can be entertaining.  Adults tend to push through those kinds of tired and it takes an illness to force the person to rest.

The need for mental and emotional rest can be a little more difficult to see, especially in ourselves.  It seems easier to detect in a friend when we can say, “You really need to take a break from ___(whatever the stress is)__.” Most of us tend to think we can deal with the cause of the stress later. Dealing with mental and emotional tiredness may involve more sleep, counseling, physical exercise, being outdoors, and better nutrition. 

Spiritual rest … well, let’s just say I had not thought much about spiritual rest. I have experienced physical exhaustion from trying to do too many church activities, including ministries.  I have experienced doing more physically and being less tired when I was doing what *I* was supposed to be doing. I have been exhausted in every way after spiritual battles.

I have had opportunities over the years to create some margin – some Sabbath rest. When our children were becoming teenagers, activities like church twice a week, karate, dance, and baseball filled our schedules.  And school – can’t forget that, even when you educate at home. One year I had had enough.  I declared that NOTHING would be scheduled on Thursday afternoon/evening.  That would leave a little time to visit family, watch a movie on the spur of the moment, catch up on laundry, or just do nothing. It was not always easy to stick to, and we did make a few exceptions, but overall the plan worked well.  As the years passed and activities changed, so did the day we “took off.” 

Then, in my late 40s, I was told by my doctor that if I expected to get well, I had to sleep eight hours a night.  Well, since I got up at 5:30 to get to work, that meant getting to sleep by 9:30.  I need at least a couple hours at home to do things and chill out before I can sleep.  So there I was, not a teenager but the parent of teenagers, with a self-imposed curfew around 7pm. What a life!

As time passed, of course things changed again.  I don’t always get eight hours of sleep, but I try for at least seven.  And I’ve had to learn to snatch rest when I can.  I have learned to sit in the summer-time shade and chill – physically, emotionally, and mentally – even when there is a list a mile long of things that I need to do.  Most days I’m up before anyone else so that I have at least half an hour of quiet time. 

I thought I was doing pretty well at resting.  And isn’t that what Sabbath (Shabbat) is all about?  Well, no, it isn’t.  I am sure there is still a lot I don’t understand, but while we’re working through Breathe by Priscilla Shirer, I am learning some things. The most significant (so far) is this:  Shabbat does not mean just resting your body. It does not mean just resting your mind and emotions.  It is resting in the peace of God, looking back at what he’s done, and looking forward to what he will do.  That may not seem much different from just being quiet in the mornings, reading a scripture and whispering a prayer.  But, for me, it IS different.  The Jewish greeting “Shabbat Shalom” has a deeper meaning for me now. Rest.  Trust in God’s provision.  Celebrate what God has done and will do.

#bgwww22

Posted by: Beth | March 6, 2022

What if?

What if _____?

If only I had ____?

We’ve all had those thoughts.  The blanks hold different words, but we’ve all felt it.  The pangs of wishing we had done something differently or not done it at all or had just done something instead of nothing.  The encouraging words we wish we had spoken and the hurtful words we spat out in a burst of anger or the cold, calculated words that tore into someone’s soul drift into our minds, building regret and increasing guilt.

The question causes anxiety about the future, too.  What happens if I go to school far away?  What will people think if I don’t go to college?

 What if I keep financially helping my adult child?  What if I don’t?

What if my child screams one more time in the grocery store?

What if we have lasagna for supper?

 What if I pick up a few items from work to use at home?

 What if I don’t read the latest novel by my favorite author?

What if I fail a class?

 What if I go out with friends instead of helping family?

 What if I paint my nails green instead of pink?

What if we go on vacation instead of repairing the sagging bathroom floor?

 What if I paint the den walls orange?

Many “What if”s are, in the grand scheme of life, inconsequential.  Some are not.  In the moment of decision, we may not know which ones are important and which aren’t.   Hindsight, it is said, is 20/20.  I’m not so sure that even that is true.  It does seem a lot easier to tell what WAS important than what WILL be important.

When the “What If”s begin to stifle my breath and paralyze my limbs, I remember my dear Mama’s words:  Make the best decision you can with the information you have at the time.  Then go on and don’t look back. You’ve done the best you can.

#bgwww22

Posted by: Beth | January 30, 2022

Grumpy to Content

               It was a grumpy day.  Oh, such a grumpy day.  I awakened to a child holding a carton of ice cream, smiling broadly, and proclaiming, “This, cookies, and gummies are what’s for breakfast.”  I am typically the first person in the house to awake.  Usually, by an hour or more. Not this day!  UGH! Sugar high and crash on the way and I have had no quiet time to start my day. 

            Fast forward through the day.  A very pleasant lunch with family.  Productive time outside doing a few chores.  Yes!  A reset and an enjoyable afternoon.

            Then BAM!  Back to the grumpies for NO apparent reason.  Thankfully there was very little time left in the day.  My husband, amazingly given my attitude, lead me through a reasonable conversation about the cause of my grumpiness.  As it turned out, I was worried about more than I was consciously thinking about. And most – no all – of it was outside my control.

            AH!  A good night’s rest.

            Some quiet in the morning.  Scripture and prayer.  My lap filled with wriggling love as my prayer partner and I finished up.  As soon as I hung up the phone, the older started reading aloud to the younger child.  I sat there and reflected on how life unfolds so differently than we expect or plan.   It’s up to us to choose what we focus on.  I can be grumpy over things I can’t control or I can rest in the knowledge that God will carry us through.  He always has.

            Cuddle time doesn’t last forever.  As I arose to prepare breakfast, I noticed the title of a study we are beginning soon.  It’s by Priscilla Shirer and entitled Breathe  making room for Sabbath.  Sabbath – a blessed time of resting with God.  For many years I tried to escape for a few days all by myself – to rest.  I would sleep, eat, read, and rest.  That hasn’t been a viable option recently.  I have had to re-learn how to rest in moments instead of weekends.  It is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks.  It takes effort.  But it can be done.  In those moments of prayer and cuddling, I had experienced Sabbath.  I was resting in God’s presence even while my responsibilities were right with me. 

            May we all learn to grasp and cherish those moments of rest and refreshing.

#bgwww22

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

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