A Weird Place for Panties

As I rounded the corner from the living room into the kitchen, there she stood in front of the stove wearing her nightgown, a grin, and a pair of panties on her head. I think I might have been five or six years old. I wondered the purpose for the panties on her head then, and I still wonder now. Maybe, she used them as a type of hairnet. Anytime she cooked or cleaned, you could count on those panties being on her head. And, that is the beginning of my fond memories of my crazy Auntie Joyce. She was my daddy’s older sister. All four of the siblings were similar in their ability to make you laugh until you cried.

We would travel to see her in Jackson, Mississippi and I couldn’t wait to get there. On one memorable visit, the rain was pouring down in buckets and her back yard was sloped downward. The rain had been steady for sometime, making her yard slippery. Despite the downpour, she headed out to feed the puppies in the doghouse. The minute her foot left the porch and touched the mud, the rest of her body joined her foot. She slid and rolled all the way down the sloped yard. My daddy ran out the sliding glass door to help her. Evidently, he didn’t learn by example. He, too, stepped off the porch to find himself rolling down the muddy backyard. Uncle Joe stood on the porch yelling “Joy, are you alright, honey?” Now, he had the good sense to stay on the porch and not join them in the mud hole. When they came back into the house, they were slicked up in mud and laughing hysterically. I don’t recall ever turning on a TV when we visited there. The live entertainment was better than anything you could find on television.

Auntie and my Momma loved a big southern breakfast. When she made her visits back to Arkansas, they would cook up bacon, eggs, gravy and biscuits and sliced fresh tomatoes. Yum, I can almost taste it. They would eat and tell stories until we realized it was lunchtime and we were still at the table. I could listen to her crazy antics for hours. Oh that sweet laughter that I would long to hear again.

Recently, I mailed Auntie some of my blogs and a CD of some of my Bible lessons that I’ve taught. Wow, the encouragement! She said, “Little Bethie” (She has called me that all of my life.) “Little Bethie, God has a call on your life. You keep writing and speaking and follow His Will. I am just so proud of you and Brad.” Her encouragement was just what I needed, and it was her gift. God blessed her and all who knew her with her gift of encouragement. I never received a card from her that she didn’t write a scripture on the outside of the envelope. She wanted to bless everyone including the mailman.

Today, this crazy, funny, encouraging, panty-on-her-head-wearing woman got to meet her Jesus face to face. If I had to narrow her life down to one word, it would be “faithful.” She prayed. She read the Bible and she sought to know Jesus more and more. My extremely selfish side already misses her and misses her prayers that I know she prayed for me. I can’t recall talking to her that she didn’t express her love for the Lord. She was a walking testimony of His goodness and grace. If there was one thing she wanted more than anything, it was for all her family and friends to accept Jesus as their Savior. Nothing brought her joy like telling me about Jesus and how much she loved Him.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 The Great Commission. She lived it. Sharing Jesus was a joy. Some folks were offended and thought she was too religious. However, her zeal for Jesus was one of her special gifts; one I will not forget. Being in her presence just made me feel better. That’s just a small taste of the love of the Lord.

Dear Lord, grant me a heart like Auntie’s. Fill my heart with the zeal and courage she had for sharing the gospel no matter the cost. Give me the love for family as well as strangers that she showed. Thank you Lord for sharing her with us. I know she heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when she entered your presence. Amen.

Beth

#proofgodcanuseanybody

This is the last card that I received from Auntie. Notice the “In God we trust” on the envelope and the scripture on the card.

“The New Year will be the best yet for the Whole World.” She sent this Christmas 2019. Will this be the year that people finally return to God?

Just One Cup

“I start each day with a cup of coffee…”

“How much coffee do you drink each day Mr. Browning?” the nurse asked. Daddy smiled and replied, “I start each day with a cup of coffee.” As the nurse wrote his response, daddy said, “Then, I finish the pot.” He was so proud of himself. Daddy was a heart patient that didn’t believe that he should have been deprived of coffee. Humor was his way of getting around the doctor’s orders. When he found this coffee cup inspired flower pot, he brought it to my house for us to take his picture for his doctor. After being a heart patient for 16 years, Daddy had developed quite the relationships with his cardiologist and nurses.

We learn from our parents, the good and the bad. My sense of humor and story-telling came from Daddy. He was born in the south when times were hard. Picking cotton was a way of life for everyone. Granny Grace always said they didn’t have much but they were clean. His childhood had some hard twists and turns that would make for an intense Lifetime movie. In the 1960’s, he was drafted and served in Korea during the Vietnam war. After his return, he moved to Chicago as there were better jobs and opportunities. Hard work, determination, and great sense of humor moved him through this life.

We all have stuff. Hard childhoods, poverty, broken families are fairly common for most folks. We can let it keep us there in misery or drive us from it. Daddy was determined to move forward. Despite all of his “stuff”, he loved to laugh and make others laugh. I think I may have inherited a touch of that from him.

I was digging through some of his paperwork yesterday as I was finally selling his truck. It’s been over two years since he went to Glory. In the paperwork, I found the coffee cup picture. It’s weird how grief works. I wanted to sell the truck. We didn’t need the truck. However, I choked up after it was gone. Guilt seems to go hand in hand with grief for me. I felt like I was getting rid of a piece of him…again. All night, I wrestled with all the memories.

As I am writing this, I can hear him. He would listen when I had a problem. He let me talk it all out and sympathized with me. Then, he would tell me not to let it keep me down and to move on past it. Typically, he would then bust up into one of his crazy antics that he and his animals had done and have me laughing.

I am glad I haven’t forgotten the stories and the laughter that he shared. Humor has been my way of getting through hard days. What’s the old saying, “you can either laugh or cry.” Laughing feels better. I call “crying” “snotting”. Because, seriously, my snot runs before my tears. It’s never pretty. I am an ugly “snotter.” Laughter most definitely looks better on me.

Today, I will choose laughter and joy. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 Today, I will remind myself that Daddy is hanging out with the Father to the fatherless. His legacy is living on. I have his humor and his joy for teaching Sunday School. My daughter, Shelby has started a plant business. Anyone that knew him, knew he was the ultimate gardener. And his truck just went to a young Christian college student that’s in the military. I know he would be proud.

If there is coffee in Heaven, Daddy is sipping it overlooking his garden. I am sure his smile is bigger there than it was here.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

Back in Time

Beth, age 7

“Sometimes I just want to go back in time.”  These words have flowed from my husband’s tongue several times in the last months.  Depending on my mood, I am either in complete agreement or somewhat offended by his statement.  (Obviously, if he went back in time, we wouldn’t be married.  Thereby, I felt offended.)

My mind started swirling this morning on the thought of going back in time. I don’t know if it is all the old episodes of the Waltons or the 80’s music that I play while I mop that have me reflecting on more simple times.  My husband and I enjoy re-watching old movies, especially if the plot includes time travel.  (Insert Back to the Future movie night here.)  If such an opportunity was available, to which time would I return?  Hmmm.  Have you ever really considered it?  What is it that we really want to re-live?

If I transported back to childhood, I would be without real life stresses; but, I would have to go through all the struggles of my life all over.  My teen years are probably best left in the past.  The only thing of that time that I would like to re-visit would be my grandmas. I do think that I would like to peek into the times when my daughter was a little girl; again though, I would have to walk the path of single parenting again.  Of course, I would love to go back and spend time with my daddy.  He’s been gone over two years now.

So, why do we want to go backwards instead of forwards sometimes?  I believe it’s the state of the world and the mindset of the people.  I think a trip back to September 12, 2001 would serve us all well.  If you weren’t born or were too young to remember, this was the day after the Twin Towers were destroyed.  The shock and pain of what had happened to our citizens was the topic of every conversation.  We all mourned together and then we all came together.  It was a time of more unity than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.  American flags were in every yard, on storefronts, t-shirts and cars.  Shirts  displayed “These colors don’t run.” and we were proud to wear them.

Now, look at this country.  It’s painfully sad.  There is no unity.  Our fellow citizens are destroying each other’s property and promoting division.  What happened to our unity in the last nineteen years?  Did everyone forget?  I don’t recall anyone being worried about words like “democrat” or “republican.”  No “white privilege” or “systemic racism.”  Nope.  We were all AMERICANS.  As our police ran into buildings that were exploding and full of smoke and flames, they pulled out Americans.  They were proud to serve and we were proud that they were willing to serve.

“I wished I could go back in time” or “I pray eyes will be opened to the truth.”  Which is it?  The enemy comes like a lion on the prowl looking for whom he may desire.  The enemy uses the tools of confusion, distraction, discouragement, and division to attempt to devour mankind.  Have you ever seen this much division?  Even some churches and church leaders have been swayed by the confusion and have started following the voices of the world instead of the Voice of Truth.

I miss living in an America that honored God and treated each other as a neighbor.  I need to be praying more and complaining less.  Will you join me?  Matthew 18:19 “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

Let’s all agree to pray every time we are about to complain about the world and just see what God does.  Pray for eyes to be open to God’s truth.  Pray for the evil to be revealed instead of hidden.  Pray that we will each seek to know and serve God.  Pray that God will reveal what we each need to correct instead of focusing on what others need to correct.

We can’t go back in time, but we could start living by the Bible like the old folks used to.  “The greatest commandment is love the Lord your God with all you heart, your soul, your mind and your strength and the second is love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

A Seed of Hope

Audrey benjamin

Over the last six years, I have prayed for God’s protection over my grandchildren.  Audrey is six and Benjamin is two.  My heart has ached for the state of our world and what my grands will witness in their lifetimes.  In just the last 10 years, we have seen a massive increase in technology.  Although, that has wonderful benefits, it has also had a hand in spreading information very quickly and making the abnormal seem normal.  The world has gotten so far from the Lord.  So, I have prayed that they would know Jesus and even their future spouses would know Jesus.

Now, our world is in the midst of a health storm.  We are watching as basic essentials are no longer available the way we have been accustomed.  A new flood of prayers have been leaving my heart to Jesus.  I am no financial expert, but we could be closing in on a Depression Era way of life.

My husband and I watch the old show “The Waltons”.  It was set in the depression and has opened my eyes to what life was like for the amazing people of the “Greatest Generation.”  Ration stamps to buy sugar and other limited items, extreme poverty for many people, a war and a lack of jobs were just a few things that they experienced.  However, look at who they became.  They are affectionately called the “Greatest Generation” for all they did for their country.  They were born from 1901-1927.  This was back when folks were still God fearing people.  God and country.  They were proud of both and would protect both.

Little by little, the generations to follow have gotten further and further from that awesome mindset.  Quite frankly, it has been a cause of concern for many of us; which is why I feared for my grandchildren.

However, last week I kept my grandchildren due to the school closings.  In an attempt to stay out of the grocery stores for a while, we have been trying to be conservative in not wasting food.  Our nation has been so plentiful, that we have become somewhat wasteful.  Little kids have a tendency to want food, then not want food.  Then, they want a snack.  I heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth several times while the grands were here.  Things like “There are people without food.”  “We don’t have anymore milk.”  “Let’s be sure to eat what we have.”  It hurt me to think that I couldn’t just let them have anything they want.  Zsa Zsa’s (my fancy name for grandmother) are supposed to spoil their grands.

These children are about to live through some similar events as the “The Greatest Generation” did.  This virus is a war, just a different kind.  What if this young generation named the “Alpha Generation” turns out to be the next “Great Generation”?  What if they are the ones to get us back to God and Country because they are learning things through a very difficult history making time?  The Alpha Generation represents children born from 2011-2025.  They are the beginning of the century just like the Greatest Generation was.

In the Judges 2:10  “After the whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  That sounds like the description of some of our generations after the “Greatest Generation.”  We started following the world’s idols just as the Israelite people did in these scriptures.  God has been on the back burner for too long.  God will get our attention, but it is only to get us to come back to Him.  He loves us and wants a relationship with us.

Are we seeing a seed of hope for our future with this “Alpha Generation”?  Will their experiences during these uncertain times mold them into the Godly people that God wants them to be?  We are seeing more and more people calling on God in their distress.  God works all things to the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  Maybe just maybe, the “Alpha Generation” will lead more people to the “Alpha and Omega.”

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

“Time Heals All Wounds”

Beth and Daddy

Grief.  It sneaks up on me.  Things seem to be somewhat normal and smack!  Big, ugly tears are rolling down my face.  As my heart is racing from the anguish of loss, my mind tries to analyze the why and the when.  Why does this still hurt?  When will the pain subside?  “Time heals all wounds.”  Who said that?  I don’t think they had buried a parent.  Some days, the wound is trying to scab over and other days salt is poured into the open sore.  The sting of the salt is so strong that I can taste it.

Almost anything can stir up the hurt and tears, from good news to bad news.  Recently, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration.  According to the doctor, I am not as old as most people who receive this diagnosis. Ugh.  As my mind swirled with thoughts of possible blindness and wondering if I could learn braille, I wanted to call my daddy.  Next month marks 2 years since he went to glory.  When do I stop wanting to call him?  I haven’t even deleted his name and number from my phone.  I can’t.

Funerals.  I am southern.  In the south, we show respect with a covered dish and sitting with the family that has suffered loss.  Since I am a southerner, a singer and a pianist, I could never begin to count how many funerals that I have attended.  Now, funerals are harder than before.  It is as if I am reliving Daddy’s funeral at every funeral.  When will this stop?  I have lost my ability to hold my emotions together to sing anymore,  When will this improve?  “Time heals all wounds.”  Nope.

Tonight’s meltdown came after hearing of the passing of a young person’s mother.  I am not proud of this, but I oftentimes find myself angry or jealous of people who still have their parents well into their 90’s. I lost my daddy at 73.  I feel cheated.  Then, I am reminded that others have it even harder than I do.  My heart aches for these young ones that have lost their mom.  Life is short; shorter the older you get.

Today’s pain is nothing compared to the joy and happiness that we are offered through Jesus in eternity.  When the heartache hits me as it so often does, I am reminded that God is the Father to the fatherless.  He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.  Those daily talks I had with my daddy are being replaced with daily talks with the Lord.  I don’t get it right most of the time, but I am improving.  Thankfully, God is listening and prompting me to listen.  The Holy Spirit is interceding when all I have are groans and tears.  Tonight, I have the tears.  Tonight, I want to dial the phone and hear daddy say, “Well, hello Bethie.” God knows.  He sees and hears my hurt.  He sees and hears your hurt.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior, He is still waiting for you.  Nothing is too big for Him to forgive.  The payment was made for those sins on the cross for you.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13  I pray you will seek Him today.  “Time heals all wounds.”  Nope.  Jesus does.

#proofgodcanuseanybody

Beth

 

 

Influencer or Influenced?

Bible

In the late 1970’s, our pastor yanked the TV from their home after his daughter walked through the house singing the beer commercial jingle. Some thought it was funny.  The pastor did not.  There was a movement within the churches to limit TV as well as all “that sinful music” being played.  Parents had serious debates over whether TV and music were actually influencing people’s behavior. Our church even had an evangelist come that encouraged us to go home and gather all of our records (For you young people, that’s the vinyl that’s now making a comeback.) and bring them back to church and burn them!  I thought my mom’s heart would break as she was encouraged to throw her Kenny Rogers “Lady” album into the fire.  My daddy seemed conflicted with it all.  He was glad to be rid of mom’s crush on Kenny Rogers but also saw money being thrown into the fire.  All of it made a big impact on me, and I questioned that impact as an adult looking back.

It seemed all a bit over the top to me.  The pastor eventually put the TV back in his house and everyone went out and bought more records.  I had a great love for all music and played my 45 of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 until my family made me stop.  So, I have looked back at that 1970’s “over the top” church moment as “too religious.”  I was in agreement with many people that didn’t believe that TV or music could really influence my behavior.

This past month, we cancelled our subscription to an online streaming TV service due to their horrible depiction of Jesus in a movie. We found a service that streams what I consider more wholesome shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons.”  I know I am showing my age here, but stay with me.  As I have watched “Little House,” Ma spoke with a calm spirit.  She held her tongue, but still was able to convey her point of view.  Pa loved her more for it.  As I watched, I wanted to be more like Ma. Her kindness and love always showed. I, personally, have a quick wit and a sharp tongue and could stand some lessons in calm, kind words.

Yesterday, as I was cooking supper, I had on some music.  I typically listen to Christian radio, but happened to have it on a different station.  Love songs.  Awe, don’t we love a good love song?  But, I noticed the lyrics depict the girlfriend/boyfriend as “their everything”, “all I live for” and other similar lyrics.  No wonder relationships struggle.  We listen to all that and think that love is just rainbows and unicorns.  Marriage and relationships are hard.  They require work and “our everything” is God, not our spouse.  I quickly switched back to Christian radio.

These shows and songs were either increasing my desire to be calm and kind or to question if I really know what love is.  I felt a bit conflicted between my wholesome TV show and music’s opinion of love.  Were they influencing my mood?

“Influencer” is a fairly new term used in the online social media platforms where companies pay an individual for generating traffic and income on their sites.  People can earn quite an income as an influencer, if they have a large social media following.  They post videos or pictures of themselves using a particular product in hopes that others will want to do the same.  And, it works!  Look at all the things you are tempted to purchase because some cute girl posted a video of herself loving it.

Isn’t it funny how back in the 70’s and 80’s, many folks were convinced that TV and music were not influencing our behavior and now, people are being paid to be influencers?  Hmmm.  Maybe those “overly religious” evangelists had more discernment than the naysayers.  Are you an influencer or are you being influenced?  Are you sharing information that could better a person’s life or lead them astray.  What are you allowing into your heart and mind as you scroll social media, watch TV and listen to music? 1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Don’t think for a minute that the enemy isn’t working overtime through social media, TV, and music to influence your behavior.  Choose wisely what you and your family watch and hear.  We were warned back when I was a child and thought we knew better.  What’s influencing you today?

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

As always, I welcome your comments.

Beth

What’s Blocking Your View?

window

The view was beautiful as I looked out the window.  Coffee in hand, leaves changing colors, and the sun was shining.  I grabbed my phone to capture the moment, only to notice how my camera didn’t capture the beauty that I saw.  The blinds were blocking the view.

Seeing with your own eyes is always better than a picture.  Maybe, it’s because I could smell the coffee and feel the coolness of the fall air.  Maybe, it’s because technology is still not as good as the eyes that God created.

What’s blocking your view today?  Are you experiencing God through your own eyes or someone else’s lens?  Social media posts about God, a random scripture meme, a quick devotional book may give you a peek into God, but is that all you want to experience?  Reading God’s Word yourself and having daily prayer time with Him will lead you to a relationship that only your eyes can see.

I love to hear other people’s experiences and how God has shown them His will or answered their prayers.  It lifts my spirits and increases my faith.  However, having a personal relationship with Jesus and seeing Him work in my own life has a much larger impact.

We are all here to share our blessings and teach others to know God.  It’s through our eyes, that others begin to see a glimpse of who God is. But, we can’t experience Him the way we should if we let things block our view.

 

 

Who Do You Want to Be?

Guilty confession over here.  They say confession is good for the soul.  So, let’s get it all out in the open.  I believed some lies that were wrapped in truth and taught it to others.  Dear Lord forgive me for not stopping it sooner.

growth grind

Let’s start with how negatively the people in your life are being portrayed in this pic. Isn’t it interesting how the very people teaching positive thinking also teach to have such a negative idea of people in your life?  “The five people with whom you spend the most time is who you become.”  That is a common quoted school of thought, and there’s much truth to it.  However, today’s strive, reach, achieve, get-more thinking implies that we shouldn’t spend time with others that aren’t striving for all of that.  There’s a fear that “those people” will hold you back as this cartoon suggests.

My grandma grew up picking cotton, chopping cotton, and raising babies.  She was 14 when she married and only completed third grade in school.  By some people’s thinking she would not be the right type of person with whom to spend time as she didn’t have a side hustle and didn’t strive for wealth.  Granny read her Bible every day and would ask me to help her read some of the more difficult words in it.  She was funny, wise, plain-spoken and showed me love.  I never really heard her complain about finances although I know she was on an extremely fixed income.  She was content.

So, according to the cartoon pic at the top “Be happy with what you have” is negative statement.  Wait.  What?  Being happy with what you have is the definition of contentment.

In many business circles today, we are being taught that we must surround ourselves with like-minded success seekers or we will be held back by the poverty mentality folks.  You know, the folks that tell you to be content as if contentment is a dirty word.  Ouch, seriously this hurts, because I heard all that and taught it.  But, God has convicted my heart.  Conviction hurts, but if it causes you to turn away from the worldly concept of “enough is never enough”, then amen.

1 Timothy 6:6-11 “But Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But, if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

CONVICTION!  Around this time last year, the Lord convicted my heart.  I was goal oriented, ambition driven, seeking the world’s definition of success.  I finally listened to the tug on my heart.  Today, we have less income but more peace.  Society would have you believe that I am not a “big thinker” anymore.  The world’s view is that I started listening to others that were trying to hold me back (like the cartoon above).   Some well-meaning success-seekers might even suggest that the enemy caused me to stop my pursuit of “financial success.”

The world’s view of success is money, recognition, fame; anything that is all about self.  God’s view of success is listed in that scripture above: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  God’s view is all that matters.  Some of the best people I know, the ones that make my heart happy, are the people like my cotton-picking granny. No earthly wealth, but Godly love.

Now, don’t misunderstand me.  We have to work in order to pay bills.  There are several scriptures that refer to working hard.  I am in no way condemning hard work.  It’s part of life.  Granny worked hard in the field.  However, our society has starting looking down it’s nose at the manual laborers and thinks that success is about dollars.  We are bombarded with messages to start a side-hustle, to leave this lowly job to have a fancier position, to leave anyone who doesn’t want fame and fortune behind.

Who do you want to be?  What do you want said at your funeral?  She/he was so wealthy.  They had fame and fortune and traveled to amazing places.  Or, She/he knew the Lord and introduced others to Jesus.  Her life was one of service and love.

God has shown me some examples of the service and love people in the last few days.  People with little income but extreme joy and love.  I want to be like them.  Lord, make me into a woman of love, faith, endurance, and godliness.  Thank you Lord for the examples that you have been showing me.  Thank you for a sense of contentment.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

 

When Did it Get Complicated?

tomato sandwich

Tomatoes, I love them; but, only the fresh garden ones.  Tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches….yum.  Somewhere, my childhood best-friend Alicia, is gagging.  Any-who, I love grilled cheese and tomato, sliced tomato with biscuits and gravy, anyway I can eat it.  I am the Bubba Gump of fresh tomatoes.  Now, why should you care?

It reminds me of a simpler time when a snack was a tomato and a salt shaker.  Anybody remember that?  Snacks didn’t come out of a box and dinner didn’t come through the window of your car.  We had gardens and never complained of being bored.

Just this past week, my sister was explaining the common phenomenon of binge watching Netflix to my brother.  He doesn’t own a TV (not because of a lack of income but because of an abundance of wisdom).  So, he was clearly blown away by society’s need to binge watch anything.  His words were, “A good job would correct that.  If you work all day, you’re too tired to do that.”  His job is fairly complicated, but that is a blog for another day.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a strong sense of nostalgia due to this season of life.  As I have sorted through old photographs and sifted through tear-filled memories, I long for that simpler time.  Work was hard, but the bills were paid.  Gardens were grown and families worked it together.  Family history was shared while shucking corn or shelling peas.  My granny shared hysterical antics of her crazy Aunt Zuler.  I never got to meet her but pretty sure her craziness runs through my veins.

Food was fresh so nobody reported an allergy to red dye.  Kids played after school, but homework was always completed.  Manners and respect were an important part of learning.  AND, families served God, attended church, with Sunday being treated as God’s Holy day.  We didn’t go to church to be entertained but to worship God.  It was about Him, not us.  Are you fortunate enough to remember this?

When did it get so complicated?  Now, parents are both working to make ends meet.  Family dinners don’t exist because there are too many extra curricular events to attend.  Gardens aren’t planted and kids eat food from a box filled with chemicals and sugar.  No one listens to their grandparents or knows their ancestry.  They have to send off for it from some genealogy site.  Google has replaced the family recipes and going to church is an occasional event for family entertainment instead of worship.  And, many people think I am crazy for eating a tomato sandwich.

So, when summer rolls around and fresh tomatoes are everywhere, I dive into those juicy red fruits and remember a simpler time.  As I am whipping up a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, I can still see my childhood kitchen.  I can hear the squabbling of my siblings and me.  Fresh vegetables are in milk crates and something is frying on the stove.  And, maybe, just maybe, our church family will invite us over for homemade ice cream.

I want to invite you to slow down a bit.  Savor the simple pleasures of homegrown veggies and the sound of a turtle dove.  Take a few extra minutes to spend with family.  Get back to your Bible, prayer and worship with God’s children.  Be grateful for what you have and thank God daily for it.  Find your joy in the Lord because the material world will only bring more dissatisfaction.  Embrace contentment in God.  He has blessed us with way more than we notice.  Take your focus off of self and turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Thank you Lord for juicy tomatoes.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

What is that Song?

piano keys

“I have a song in my heart.”  I have heard people say that, maybe even said it myself.  Today, the meaning became more clear.  As I stood on the back  porch watching the rain splatter on the patio furniture, I noticed there was a song playing in my head.  At first, I disregarded it.  Have you ever gotten a song in your head and you only know a few lines of it, so it’s like it’s on repeat?  I normally get frustrated and want to make my mind shut it off.

But, today, my heart is heavy.  My mind has been swirling with fear, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness.  I was thinking about all of these things while looking at the rain.  Then, I heard that song in my head again.  What is that song?  I could hear the tune, but I was struggling to hear the words.  “Remember the lilies” is that a song?  I grabbed my phone to search for it.  No, not “remember the lilies” but “Consider the Lilies.”  The only parts that I could recall were, “We have a Heavenly Father above…” and “Consider the lilies.”  Hmmm.  Why is that in my head?  It’s an old song that I haven’t heard in a long time.

Sometimes, I think I am slow on the uptake.  I have been praying about a lot of things that have me troubled, things out of my control, things that have kept me up at night.  “Lord, please give me peace.”  “Lord, please let me know that you are hearing me.”  Have you ever been there?  I believe God still speaks to us through His Word, His people, a whisper and even through a song in my heart.  “We have a Heavenly Father above….”  Hmmm the song is still on repeat.

So, I found the lyrics to the song.

Consider the lilies, they don’t toil nor spin
But there’s not a king with more splendor than them
Consider the sparrows, they don’t plant nor sow
But they’re fed by the Master
Who watches them grow

We have a heavenly Father above
With eyes full of mercy
And a heart full of love
He really cares when your head is bowed low
Consider the lilies and then you will know

May I introduce you
To this Friend of mine
Who hangs out the stars
And tells the sun when to shine
And kisses the flowers 
Each morning with dew
But He’s not too busy to care about you!

We have a heavenly Father above
With eyes full of mercy
And a heart full of love
He really cares when your head is bowed low
Consider the lilies and then you will know

God loves us.  God loves me.  God loves me.  Say that outloud.  God loves me.  He knows me.  He created me and part of His creating me was giving me a love of music.  Today, He spoke to me by putting an old song in my heart.  He only let me remember a few lines so that I would go and look it up.  God knew in His infinite wisdom that I needed a reminder that He loves me.  Me.  In spite of my flaws, in spite of my sin, He loves me and is with me even when I feel alone. As the song says, “He really cares when your head is bowed low.”  Mine has been bowed low a lot lately.

I have a strong tendency to reach for the phone to combat loneliness, depression, or anxiety.  Reaching for the Father is the only real solution to those feelings.  God sent His son here to experience all the feelings, trials, and troubles that we feel.  He knows.  The Bible says in Luke 9:58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  There is no person here on this earth that can give you the peace that passes all understanding.  The only real peace (another fabulous song that my sweet Sister in Christ Mary Heffner sings at our church) is in the Lord.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  It is so easy to get caught up in the world.  We put our faith in our jobs, in our spouses, our family, our friends.  Our faith has to be in Jesus.  Life and people will disappoint you.  There’s nothing like needing a friend and your “friend” only wants to be there for the happy times and not the sad times.  God wants to hear from us constantly, happy or sad.  He never tires of us calling on Him.  Yet, we still reach for some earthly thing to try and solve our problems.  In His graciousness this morning, He slipped a song in my heart.  I believe He does these things more often than we notice.  We are too busy to listen.  The busyness creates more stress and we creep further from Him.

Today, I am listening.  Today, I am singing “Consider the Lilies”.  Today, I am grateful that He spoke through an old song.  Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to have a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  Today, I will praise him in this storm.

If you want to listen to this old song, here’s the version that I loved this morning. https://youtu.be/GEHMS-rFLzs

Beth

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody