Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Soccer and what it has to do with my cooking mishaps

The opposite side of stadium is a big window, therefore the glare.
As my husband, son, and I watched the Atlanta United soccer team play at Mercedes Benz stadium, I thought of a discussion I had a few days ago at VBS with my class.



For fun, during our sports-themed VBS, I gave my kindergarten and early elementary class several true false questions about sports.

"The first basketball game was played with a boxed nailed to a pole for the basket,” I declared.

“False,” my student Austin said. “It was played with peach baskets on poles.”

Awed at this first grader’s knowledge, I asked, “How do you know that?”

“My coach,” he said with a grin. I was impressed his coach even knew that trivia tidbit.

I tried again. “The most popular sport in the world is football.”

In unison, they chorused, “True.”

I had them this time.“False.”

“No,” they cried shaking their heads, eyes wide. They couldn’t believe it. It just had to be football.

“It’s soccer.” I explained how football is mostly played in North America and soccer (also called football elsewhere) is played all over the world.

They still didn’t see how that could be true, I guess because we live in a football-saturated culture here in the South.

But as I watched the Atlanta United game, the players on the field proved my point. Their birthplaces were Costa Rica, Argentina, Germany, Liberia, Paraguay, and Venezuela to name a few as well as the American born players.

Each year as my sister, Tammy,  and I pack our Operation Christmas Child boxes, we include a soccer ball in at least half of our boxes. Perhaps in some isolated village in Africa or South America, we hope kids that have been playing soccer with rags, tree bark, or plastic bags they’ve molded into balls secured with twine will find a real ball in their boxes. It will be a gift for the whole village, because one shared ball is an incredible luxury in that circumstance.

I don’t know if any of our Atlanta United players started life in such difficulty, but many professional soccer players did.
Today, I’m kicking this post into cyberspace to remind us all we can send the love of Jesus into remote places through our Operation Christmas Child boxes and really, really, really change a child’s life forever. For every box we send, the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared with that child by Samaritan’s Purse. It's not too early to start accumulating what you'll include in your box. I already have a big storage container full for our twenty-five boxes and school supply sales are just around the corner.

And speaking of Samaritan's Purse, a piece I wrote is included in a just released Grace Publishing anthology, Cool-inary Moments; Culinary memories, mishaps, and masterpieces. All the proceeds from this anthology go to Samaritan’s Purse. No one, including me, receives a penny from its sale. You can be sure my article is more mishap than masterpiece. It’s about a very unusual recipe I once shared with my friend Sandy. I never dreamed it would appear in a book.  So check out this new collection and support Samaritan’s Purse. You may not know how to play soccer, but you can still win big-time by supporting this ministry.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:18-20).

Cool-inary Moments; Culinary memories, mishaps, and masterpieces HERE.

Samaritan's Purse HERE. 
HERE'S an article about twenty professional soccer players who began life in extreme poverty.                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dream Summer: Crossing the Badlands

With VBS this week and a book edit due on Wednesday, I'm pulling from the archives this week. It was about this time in the summer years ago when we set off for our family's big 7,000 mile cross country adventure in a borrowed RV. When I read the  posts about that trip again, I see the handprints of God all over our journey. I was just beginning to feel called by God to write and now this year, I have two books releasing. I stand in awe of all God did that summer in setting the course for our lives. We couldn’t have known at the outset that in just a few short weeks on September 11, our world would change forever, and that we were seeing this country through a lens in which it would never be seen again. We embarked with a joyous abandon and freedom, which would soon be challenged when four aeronautical spears pierced the heart of America.
In this post, we're dropping in as we reach South Dakota on our trip to Montana.World Radio asked us to record a segment about our trip for their Summer Vacations and Destinations series. You may listen to it HERE.
After several hours on the western side of the Missouri in South Dakota, I began to understand why people see mirages in the desert. I kept seeing one that looked like a Cracker Barrel.
Where were we going to stop, eat lunch, and stretch our legs? After miles of desolate sameness, we finally spotted some signs about an 1880’s replica town in Murdo. 
“Let’s stop,” I said to Jerry.
 “Probably a tourist trap,” he said.
I gave him my nonnegotiable look. He stopped.
Turned out to be a good idea, if I do say so myself. The kids played checkers while they drank their sodas, and Bethany dressed up as an 1880’s belle. The owners had gone to some lengths to make the place as authentic as possible and still have it be a fun attraction for kids.
It was so much fun, we had a little trouble leaving, but we were close to the Badlands Entrance—a destination we had long anticipated.
Driving through the Badlands National Park is like driving on to another planet. The windswept terrain is unlike anything else on earth according to many who’ve circled the globe. The short loop through the park begins on I-90 and makes a forty mile circle back to Wall, South Dakota. There is a desolate beauty about the Badlands. But because of its unpredictable landscape, the French trappers and Native Dakota Americans found this part of the country a “bad land” to cross over.

 I eyed the gorgeous layers of sediment and rock banding the buttes. Out west, it was always tempting to do what Lucille Ball did in the movie, The Long, Long Trailer. She picked up a rock from every place she and Desi’s character went when they’d toured the country. Those rocks nearly sent their trailer plunging over a cliff when they crossed the Rockies. Aside from the similar danger of adding more weight to our already full van, I knew the National Park service would not be happy. We tried to leave as invisible a footprint as possible. 

 “Everybody put on your shoes, we’re getting out,” I said as I scanned the park service brochure. “We’re coming up to Journey Overlook.”

 I turned around in my seat to see if the kids were ready and discovered Bethany had put on her flip-flops.
“Why do I have to put on shoes?” she cried clutching flip-flops to her feet.
I pointed to the rocks. “Look, you might slip trying to climb in flip-flops,” I explained. “This is for your own safety.” 
“I won’t slip,” she said.
“Just put on the tennis shoes,” I insisted. Why were we always struggling over shoes?
A scowl spread across her face. She put them on, but she was not happy, and made no secret of it.


We explored a few of the overlooks, took pictures and returned to the van. There was a deafening silence coming from the back seat. Sometimes the silent treatment could be a blessing. As we neared dinner, stomachs began to growl, which only added to the shoe debacle. I was beginning to get what the Native Americans meant when they said this was a bad land to cross over.
It took about thirty minutes to get to Wall, South Dakota, our next stop. Just before we arrived, I turned around and saw my daughter drawing on a tablet.
“What are you doing?” I asked.

Without speaking, she handed over the tablet. What I saw stunned me. She’d captured in colored pencil the rainbow layers of fossilized sediment that appeared in the rock formations—a masterpiece from a six year old and probably one of the best drawings she’d ever done.
“It’s what I did with my madness.”
“This is beautiful,” I told her. She let go a smile. 
For years, we’d encouraged our children to do something constructive with their anger like run laps or kick a ball. Amazingly, she’d gotten it this time. Oh, how I wished I’d always created beauty from my anger.
As surprising as this painting was, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. When we finally got to Wall, we felt like we’d crossed the Sahara. Thirsty and hungry, we went where all tourists go—Wall Drugs. We sat down at a table in their dining room and studied the menu. I couldn’t believe it when Bethany, the queen of all finicky eaters. ordered a buffalo burger.
Drop my jaw.
I never dreamed she’d actually eat it. But she did, the whole thing.
Aaron, the critter aficionado, had his picture made with a mechanical dinosaur.
The story of Wall Drugs captured our interest. In 1931,Ted and Dorothy Hustead were considering buying a drug store in Wall, South Dakota. Their families were not encouraging. “That town is in the middle of nowhere,” a cousin said, “and furthermore, everybody there is flat broke busted.” The depression had not been kind to the people of Wall. 
But after much prayer, the Husteads decided to go ahead with their purchase. In 1936, after five discouraging years they were nearing the end of their resources trying to establish a viable business. Then in July of that year, Dorothy had the idea to draw in the hot thirsty tourists traveling on 16A by offering them free ice water. They put signs on the highway and the rest is history. At the time of our trip, about twenty thousand people a day came during the summer.
The Husteads believed, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters..." (Isaiah 55:1). There's a chapel for travelers at Wall Drugs, as the owners have never forgotten how it all started.
With prayer, it’s amazing what God can do in the middle of nowhere.
On a recent business trip, Aaron met and spent time with one of the Hustead's grandson's. When I found out who he was with, I sent him the picture of him with the mechanical dinosaur. They had a big laugh. Bethany is now a vegetarian.

Remember Faith in the Fashion District is now available for presale at many online retailers and at Amazon.

“As a Ford model during the 1980’s, the New York fashion world was my world. Beverly’s encouraging stories of how God moved in that sphere help us realize that no matter where we are— even on Seventh Avenue—God wants to use us for His glory.”
Nancy Stafford
Actress (“Matlock”), Speaker, and Author  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Thirty Years and Thirty Reasons

My friend, Sandy, and I sat outside on the church steps talking one evening after choir practice. A man came out of church and walked by us, then stopped and pivoted. “What are y’all talking about?” he asked.

I recognized him as an attorney who had given his dramatic testimony in church a few months earlier. He lost his eight-year-old daughter, his best friend, and his marriage within a two-year period and then had a “Damascus Road” type experience with God.

“Sharing what God is doing in our lives this week,” Sandy said.

A big smile spread across his face.

I honestly don’t remember anything after that, except that on the way home that night, I was so thrown off by those minutes we spent talking, I took a wrong turn and got lost.

Jerry and I a couple of months after our first date. We're at the top of a 14,000 foot mountain we'd just climbed with friends while adult guests at a Young Life Camp in Colorado.
This week, that man, Jerry, and I will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary.

Like everyone else, our life together has been filled with all kinds of challenges―serious health diagnoses, loss of loved ones, financial stress, family issues, and other strains. I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes we get caught in petty disagreements like what’s the best way to get to the home improvement store and other meaningless rifts.

But the joy we've experienced in our lives far outweighs anything else. Still, after all this time, I sure do love the guy.

So, Jerry, after thirty years, here are thirty reasons I’m so very glad I’m married to you.

These are in the most random order and certainly not a complete list, but it’s a start.

1.       Your dimples.

2.       You played football at the University of Georgia on that SEC championship team and all the wonderful things I’ve gotten to be part of because you did.

3.       You are a wonderful cook.

4.       You don’t mind when I move furniture around.

5.       You let me have all these cats even though you have to do bad jobs because of itthe three p’s as you would say.

6.       Your smile can light up a room.

7.       You’re great in a crisis.

8.       You’re the best preacher I know.

9.       You wear starched white shirts and you send them to the laundry instead of expecting me to starch and iron them.

10.   You’re a good whistler.

11.   You’re a deep thinker.

12.   You can use a sewing machine. Who would guess?

13.   You have survival skills.

14.   You let me drag you to all the art and music events I like even though I know you’re sometimes bored silly. You even act interested.

15.   You’re a good proofreader.

16.   You’re unpretentious.

17.   I could probably paint the house zebra striped and you wouldn’t say anything.

18.   You have always been a big encourager to me in my writing and painting pursuits.

19.   You’re willing to take the small closet. Thank you very much.

20.   You don’t carry a grudge . . . towards anybody, about anything.

21.   Your Biblical knowledge astounds me.

22.   You can build things.

23.   You overlook my infinite list of shortcomings.

24.   You look past my wrinkles and tell me I’m beautiful.

25.   You sing Victory in Jesus on key.

26.   You’re so sweet with that brown dog, Lucy.

27.   You love kids and all their noisiness.

28.   You’re a fabulous grandfather to Walker and Sara Alden.

29.   You’re an amazing father to our two miracle children, Aaron and Bethany, and Mari, the daughter whose life I was blessed to be part of because I married you.

30.   You love God more than you love me or anyone else. I suppose that’s what drew me to you in the beginning.  

Jerry,  when we have our anniversary dinner later in the week, I'll be the one wearing the same dress we wore on our first date. We are not wealthy by worldly standards. Our possessions do not amount to much in monetary value, but we are rich in so many other ways. Thank you for these amazing, challenging, exciting, surprising, blessed thirty years. It has been my privilege and honor to spend them with you. I love you more!!!
"And now to Him who can keep you (us) on your (our) feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating--to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes."  (Jude 24-25  The Message).

 Remember Faith in the Fashion District is now available for presale at many online retailers and at Amazon.

“As a Ford model during the 1980’s, the New York fashion world was my world. Beverly’s encouraging stories of how God moved in that sphere help us realize that no matter where we are— even on Seventh Avenue—God wants to use us for His glory.”
Nancy Stafford
Actress (“Matlock”), Speaker, and Author  


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Twilight and Twinkles

One recent evening, Jerry and I walked a bit later than we usually do. As we approached an area where we know deer hang out, we were watchful because we didn’t want to be caught between a doe and her fawns.

But that evening, we didn’t see any deer, but something else, instead.

“Oh, wow, look at that,” I said. Jerry stopped and turned. I pointed to a field. “Fireflies.”

In the twilight, hundreds of them twinkled randomly. It had been a long time since I saw so many. A smile eased across my face.

We stood in the street for a while and watched, both of us remembering with joy catching them in mason jars when we were kids.

Later, I discovered a few random facts while reading about fireflies.

If a field where fireflies live is paved over, they don’t go to another field. They simply fade away. That may be one reason why firefly populations are in decline.

They are unique. No other insect has light producing structures in their abdomen. This fact reminded me of a sign a friend gave me which bears a snippet of a children’s song.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine . . .”

It’s a reminder that we also are unique and have special light producing structures.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” and “. . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

God wants to use us to bring his light in dark places, and as Jerry has said, we let our lights shine; we don’t shine our lights. There’s a difference. Others are drawn to us as they see God at work in our lives and we share out of that well, but the opposite usually happens if we’re constantly blinding them with just our talk.

We all have to think about where we go, what we do, and how those actions might bring glory to God and how they might not. We may try to explain away certain things, but in the end, what we may be doing is making excuses.

To allow God to use us in bringing light, we may have to alter our actions. Believe me; I have had to alter mine. In fact, it is an ongoing, sometimes daily, process.

I wonder when God sees us, it’s a little like how Jerry and I saw the fireflies in that field that evening.

All over the world, He sees us twinkling in the darkness bringing joy to the Father’s heart.

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