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

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

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