Monday, May 12, 2014

Opportunities Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Thank you all so much for coming out and supporting Blossoms by Bev at my little roadside stand on HWY 53 for Mother's Day. It was a trying 3 days at times. The wind almost beat me and my flowers to death. The sales were slow for the three days, but in the end, that didn't matter at all. The lessons learned and the people that crossed my path at that little roadside stand made it all worthwhile. In particular, there was an older man whose tired face had been darkened by the sun. He was driving a small work truck with a lawn mower in the back when he pulled up to my stand, walked over and pulled some change out of his pocket. It wasn't a lot of change. But he just needed to get his wife some flowers for Mother's Day. "I don't have a lot, Mam, but I just need to get my wife some flowers. It's Mother's Day. Here, it's not much. What can I get for this?"

He selected a single stem carnation and reached his hand out, palm open, to pay for it. I told him to keep his money, walked around the table, picked up a bouquet, and handed it to him. Tears welled up in his eyes and began to roll down his cheeks as he repeatedly said, "Thank you. Thank you so much. They're for my wife. Thank you so much."

I am convinced that opportunities come into our lives often and we make the choice of what to do with them. I haven't always done well in that aspect. But this few minutes showed me clearly that it wasn't about the flowers, the business, or the little bit of money that I paid for that bouquet of flowers. It wasn't about Blossoms by Bev at all. It never has been and I pray that it never will be. It's about doing what we can do to serve our God - whether at school, at work, at home, or at a little roadside stand selling flowers. There's always opportunities. I am grateful for that opportunity Saturday as the wind continued to howl and sales continued to be slow.

Opportunities... Find yours this week. Then take advantage of them.

Ya'll have a great week. -bev ((Hugs))

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Calling All Moms

It's the time of the year when the birds are chirping louder, the temperature has warmed enough for azaleas and dogwoods to bloom,  and that last hint of winter has left...hopefully.  The official day when Mom's are flowered, gifted, and banned from the kitchen is approaching.  It's a time when many of us take the opportunity to say "thanks, Mom".

Celebrations are abundant.  But the time surrounding the day when we celebrate our Moms can be both a time of joy and a time of sadness. If you are mourning the passing of your mom; perhaps a physical passing or an emotional passing by choice, it's difficult to welcome the day with open arms.  Just a glimpse around me makes me realize that there are women who ache to be a mom and hold a sweet babe in their arms; yet their arms remain empty.  There are those who have lost a child to death, possibly their only child. This day can be a difficult one for so many.

Mother's Day, May, 2006 was the first Mother's Day that I spent without my mom. Patsy Owens Sutton, Mom, died February 6 of that year. It was a hard, hard time for me. I so dreaded that day coming. It wasn't that I wanted to take the celebrations away from those who were enjoying them; I just wanted it too. The hole that her unexpected death left was still very large in my heart.  If the calendar could have somehow miraculously  skip that day, I would have welcomed it.

Having a keen awareness of others and their difficulties in life, a friend of mine, Ann,  knew that I would be struggling with that day in particular. Because of that, she encouraged me to take that Mother's Day and not dwell on what I didn't have but think about all of the women past and present who have played a positive role in my life. So, not because it was easy, but because I thought it was really good advice on how "to get through it", I made it my goal,  that first Mother's Day without my mom, to focus on being thankful for all of those women who had positively impacted me for so many years.

 And there were so many.

 So many that I didn't know where to begin. There were my grandmothers whose love never stopped whether it was in the form of praise or correction. There was the lady who was the "sweet, elderly lady" in the church where I attended as a little girl in Illinois. She was the other half  the candy man at church  (I think most churches must have them - sweet, usually elderly men who pass out gum or candy to the little kids after church.) There was the wife of an older man that we knew, who although she was long past young children days, she never forgot what it was like to have those little people under foot. She encouraged me religiously and I so needed it and appreciated it.   There were the women who opened up their homes and hearts to me as a young mom - the ones who let me know that sometimes, being a mom was a battle - but in Mary Joe's words..."You must remember, you have to win."  That advice was given to me over 25 years ago, and I've never forgotten it.  I knew that. I also knew that I would survive, but it surely did help to know that others  had walked down the same road that I was currently on and that if I would just hang in there, I would eventually reach the end of that road successfully. Their wisdom was valuable to me. There are young moms who allow me to love on their babies. That sweet, innocent love never grows old.  And the list goes on and on.

I won't pretend that the women who give birth to us play only a small role in our lives.  Because their role is so large, losing them is devastating or at least it was for me. Certain days of the year tend to make that sadness come to the surface more easily. But that year, 2006, I began to look at Mother's Day in a totally different light.

 You may not be a mom physically but you can still choose to celebrate those who fill that role. Your mom may not be with you for whatever reason, but you can still choose to allow your children and your husband to celebrate you and you as well can choose to celebrate those who fill that role well.

I am blessed that my mom was the kind that clothed herself with strength and dignity.  She absolutely was the glue for our family.  She spoke with wisdom. She instructed us whether we wanted to hear it or not! Her example to me of loving others by serving them is firmly imprinted in my mind.

I am also thankful for the many, many women  who were not related to me physically but have played a positive role in my life. There is no shortness of mothers in God's family. They have loved me.  They have cared for me.  They have grieved with me and hurt for me.

It has been that during those times, I have better understood and appreciated God's wisdom in providing us with a spiritual family.

So, as Mother's Day approaches, if your relationship with your mom isn't what you would choose for it to be, or if you mom is no longer here for you to spend time with,  let me encourage you to think about all of the women who have been a source of encouragement and love to you. Then,  you take what has been done for you and pass it on. Think about that single mom who never gets out by herself. Fix a meal for her. Take her kids to the park and give her a gift certificate to get a pedicure. Help that mom whose children live far away. Have her over for Mother's Day lunch.  Help that mom of little ones who hasn't slept for days because her babies are sick.  Help that woman whose mom is no longer present in her life. You get the idea. But don't be surprised if you are the one who reaps the benefits. That's just how it usually works.

To my mom...A day rarely goes by that I don't think about you. I wish that you could see my life for the last 8 years as well as Nate's, Aaron's, Katie's and Mikaylas. So much has happened. 

I miss you.

To the many, many other moms that have influenced my life, thank you for your example and your love. I have taken much of it to heart and valued all of it.  

And to Ann...thank you for caring enough to encourage me to see past my grief. I pray that 
I have used your example and passed it on.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Golf Ball and Divine Intervention

About 20 or so years ago, our oldest son, Nathan, proudly purchase a new golf club. Well, at least it was new to him.  I think it actually cost him around a dollar at the local, used, sporting goods store but he couldn't have been any happier with his bargain.  To him, it was a dollar well spent. And to that 9 year old a hard earned dollar wasn't chump change.
When Nathan arrived home with his club, Tim gave him instructions concerning how and where he could use the new toy as most parents would. Nate was basically given 3 rules concerning the golf club. 
First of all, Nathan was to use the golf club only in the back yard toward the back of the back yard.  We have a rather large backyard, and Tim felt that this was a relatively safe area for Nathan to swing the club. He wouldn't be close to the house or anything else for that matter, so nothing would be in the path of  a flying golf ball.  Secondly, Nathan was to use only "wiffle" type golf balls. You know, the plastic kind that have holes in them.

Tim knew that those balls would be much safer since they couldn't travel the distance that a normal golf ball could travel. They also weren't hard like a normal golf ball. So, if Nate happen to get lucky and really get a good hit on one, there wouldn't be any damage done. At the same time, Tim also realized that the chances of Nathan hitting the ball with any distance and with any accuracy were slim to none. The third and final rule for Nate was that he could not direct his aim toward the house. He was to aim the ball away from the house.

So with those rules firmly planted into his 9 year old brain, Nate proceeded to eagerly make his way to the back yard, golf club and wiffle golf ball in hand.

Katie, our 3rd child, who would have been about 4 at the time, and I were sitting in the den floor going through a newly received box of hand-me-down clothes. When our kids were young, we were blessed to have large group of friends who also had children close to the age of ours, so the clothes made the rounds among us.  When my kids outgrew them, we would pass them on to the next group who were a bit younger than mine. What a blessing that was!   

As my 4 year old and I were going through the latest box of clothes that we had received to see if she would be able to any of use them,  all of the sudden and out of nowhere, a loud, crashing noise echoed across the room and Katie's hands immediately went to her face. Milliseconds later, one of the loudest screams that I've ever heard, came from lungs and mouth of my 4 year old with a cry following. My first thought was,  "Oh my goodness! Someone has shot into my house!" I'm not exactly sure why I thought that. We have never had any reason to think that we would be victims of a drive-by-shooting. At the same time, I couldn't imagine what on earth had hit Katie in the face! After calming Katie, and calling for Tim, we together set out to determine the cause of the injury. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the glass storm door in our den, the one that leads to the back yard, was shattered also?

 It didn't take long for Tim to discover that the deliverer of the "shot into the house" was Nate, our 9 year old, the owner of the used golf club. It became apparent, rather quickly that he had not followed the basic laws that we had laid down for him when he became the proud owner of the used golf club.   
You see, the regular golf ball didn't just come sailing through the glass storm door. It came with a force hard enough to travel from the back of our back yard through the railing on the deck, through the glass storm door, ricocheting off of the glass pane back door and landing precisely in the face of Katie who was sitting in the den floor.  

Now, you may be asking yourself..."future golf pro?". I would say, probably not so much. But you might also ask, "What are the chances of a 9 year old hitting a golf ball with such force that it sails through the back yard, through the deck railing, shattering the glass storm door, ricocheting off of another door and landing smack dab on the cheek of  a 4 year old who is sitting in the den floor? I would say probably 600 billion to one. Not impossible but definitely not probable. That ball could have veered just a bit to the left and sailed past our house and we would have never known. But it didn't. Happenstance? I doubt it. Instead, I choose to think of this little episode as one of divine intervention.  I really don't think it happened by chance.  I believe God was absolutely trying to get a valuable point across to Nate. The point? That willful disobedience, in particular, at this specific time in regard to this specific thing was not okay. And of course when he was "found out", he reaped the consequences of his willful disobedience.
And what are the applications from this experience for us?  There are many, but I want to concentrate on a couple.  The first one is to parents of little people.  Our little people have to be taught that actions have consequences. A 9 year old doesn't always look down the road to see the connection between those two... actions and consequences. That is our job as parents.  And I have to say that I think we're sorely lacking in that area. We talk the talk - "If you do such and such, I will do such and such." but we don't walk the walk. So many times, we fail to follow through with whatever consequences we've laid out for specific actions. Let me encourage you to follow through parents.  It is so important! Teach your little people that obedience is crucial  for in this, you are laying the groundwork for them that obedience to authority in general is important. And who is their ultimate authority? God! 
Secondly, complete obedience is vital- not half-hearted obedience or obeying only if it works for us. We knew what was best for Nathan and advised him accordingly.  But as a 9 year old,  he chose to do otherwise. In the same light, God absolutely knows what's best for us. He created us! But how often do we say both in word or in action - "I'm gonna do it my way!"? I know I've been guilty of this.  But even though it may be painful at the time, I'm incredibly grateful for the ability of our Father to open our eyes and help us see. And I'm eternally grateful that when my heart is in the right place, God will help me to refocus my life so that my actions will follow.
I'm happy to say that Nathan survived that life lesson with a greater appreciation for the concept that actions have consequences. Now, if only we as adults could learn that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

With Just A Little Love and Paint

I've taken up kind of a new hobby in the last few months. Not that I really have the extra time to add anything else in my schedule, but this was one of those "wants to" kind of things.  I had seen a lot about chalk paint, the ease of using it and the fact that very little prep to the furniture is needed. That last little phrase grabbed my attention - very little prep to the furniture is needed.  I had (and still do have) some things that really need to be painted but I detest the sanding that I always thought was necessary before painting. Well...along comes this new kind of paint called chalk paint. I think it was originally discovered or put together by a lady named Annie Sloan. She actually has her own line of the paint, now. It peaked my interest. I did some research and I was hooked. It is very easy to use and hardly any prep to the furniture is necessary. I particularly like the old or distressed look that it can take on with just a little bit of sanding.

I've done 5 small pieces so far and I'm thrilled with the results. I have a couple more pieces that I am currently working on plus several others in the future as well as my kitchen cabinets.  Can't wait to get started. Now, where's that time that I'm going to need?
# 1 - Before
#2 - Before

# 3 Don't have the before of this one but it was a dark wood finish.
My favorite piece so far...


Monday, January 6, 2014

Lost and Didn't Even Know It

It seems over the last couple of years, I have developed a frustrating habit of losing things. I can lay something down and 2 minutes later forget where I laid it or not be able to remember why I walked from one room into another!   I like to think that it's not because I'm getting a bit older but that it's because I have so many things on my mind regularly, so many things to process, that some things just fall by the way. I always thought that when my children grew up, left home and started their own lives, that mine would slow down. How wrong I was.  It seems that it has only gotten busier. I'm not complaining about that at all. Actually, I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful that I'm not one sitting around being bored with seemingly nothing to do, no one to help, no one to encourage.
Having said that, my cell phone is one of my best buddies and one of my worst nightmares. It keeps me connected in so many ways to those I love and can easily get me to where I'm going as long as I plug in the correct address. The information of the world on any given subject is at my fingertips as long as my fingertips type in the correct word when I ask it to search. So, you ask, how can it be a nightmare?  Well, I am probably one of the world's worst at keeping up with my cell phone, particularly when my mind is running in many different directions.  I'll lay it down somewhere and forget where I've laid it. I'll put it in my purse and not be able to find it in the bottomless pit of my purse. Time and time again, I've had to call my cell phone from my house phone so that I could follow the ring and find it! I've even had to have others do this for me when I've been out somewhere and misplaced it.
Recently, I was at a local store here in Huntsville, and the following announcement was made over the speaker, "If you've lost a cellphone, please come to the front." Well, my immediate thought was - "That poor soul. I know they're frantic. I'm so glad it was found and more thankful that the one who found it turned it in! There ARE honest people in this world!" So, I go on about my business, pushing my cart through the store searching for the ultimate bargain knowing that my cellphone is where I had put it - safely tucked away in the side pocket of my purse. After a couple of minutes, I opened the side pocket just to be sure my cell phone was where I was confident I had placed it. Hmmmm...not there. Well, I must have just laid it in the main, larger section of my purse - the bottomless pit. It's the place where things are difficult to find regularly. ( If you're a woman reading this, you understand.  If you're a man, you'll just have to trust me on this one.) It wouldn't be unusual for it to be there since I toss it in there sometimes. But after searching the bottomless pit and pulling most of the items out of it,  MY CELL PHONE WAS NOT THERE! Okay, I have to admit that I was  getting just a bit anxious at this point. At the same time, I was thinking - there's no way that could be my phone! I was sure that I hadn't used it in the store so I couldn't have laid it down anywhere!
Slowly but surely I turn my cart toward the direction of the front of the store. Reaching the area where the lonely, found cell phone was, the following conversation took place.
Me:  "I don't know if I've lost my cellphone or not, but I can't find it in my purse." 
Person with cell phone:  "What color is it?"
Me: "Pink"
Person with cell phone holds up pink cell phone. 
Me:  "Oh my! Where did you find it?"
Person with cell phone:  "In the parking lot."
Me: "Thank you so much!"
After thanking the kind, honest young woman, I gave her a small token of my appreciation to help pay her expenses at the store we were both shopping in. It was the very least that I could do to express my gratitude to her. It was then that I remembered having it in my lap while driving to the store. Once I had arrived at the store and stepped out of my van, my pink buddy slid out of my lap and onto the pavement of the parking lot.  I didn't even hear it hit the pavement because of the noise of the other cars around on the busy street. My pink buddy was lost and I didn't even know it.
That got me to thinking. How many people are lost and don't even know it -lost spiritually, that is. Well, God tells us a couple of things about that that I want to share briefly with you. He says in Matthew, chapter 7, verse 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter" It's not enough just to say...we must do, every day, the will of our Father to the best of our ability.
God also tells us in Matthew that few will find it. Matthew 7:13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." How many is few, you ask?  I don't know. I do know that when God destroyed the earth with a flood only 8 souls were saved. Yes, I would define 8 as a few! But you know, the actual number isn't the important thing. The important thing to me is that I want to be a part of that "few" regardless of the actual number.
I have a challenge for you - a good challenge. Read the Bible with me this year so you will know for yourself, from your study what God expects of you. Work as I do so that we can make it a part of who we are. I would love for you to join me in that endeavor. If you would like the reading schedule that I'm following shoot me a comment and I'll be happy to send it to you.  I'd love some encouragement, some accountability to help me stay on track. I think we all need that sometimes.

Lord help me to read and study your word with an open heart so that I can know and be confident in what you would have me do. Then, Father, help me to make it a part of my life...everyday in everything that I do.