Trash or Treasure

treasure-My sisters and I like going to flea markets and antique markets. We all have different interests and different things catch our eyes. We don’t do it as often now but it used to be a source of great enjoyment.

My older sister, Sara, and I liked dolls. We liked composition baby dolls from the “40’s and ‘50’s. We liked the ones dressed up really cute. We liked them because they are all different and unique.

I think I liked them because I didn’t get to keep any from my childhood because of moving so often and leaving things behind. That might be the reason Sara liked them, too.

I liked some drinking glasses and pitchers and glassware.

My younger sisters, Katrina and Sissy, liked household items from the past.

It always interested me as to what each of us was drawn to.

Katrina and Sissy might admire something like an old cookie jar with the top partially rusted. They looked at these old, imperfect items and envisioned what they could do with them and how they could make them beautiful and functional.

I was always astounded because when I looked at the same items, all I saw was old, broken down, rusted things that should have been thrown away.

As I pondered this, I thought how Katrina and Sissy were like the Lord in seeing what the items could become.

The Lord doesn’t see you as you are but, instead, He sees you as you can and will become.

He does not see you as others see you. He sees the worth and potential in you.

He does not see you as something that cannot be fixed or turned around or improved. Or something that is useless and worthy only of the trash.

Regardless of what you have done or have become, it is never too late to let the Lord change you from within. When you are changed within, it effects what you do on the outside – your actions.

You may feel you are like that old cookie jar with a rusted lid fit only for the trash. But you are wrong in thinking that.

Do not ever feel you are worthless! You have great value and worth. You are a treasure.

Your past actions do not have to define who and what you are.

Let this thought get into your being. Believe it. You are of value.

Each day is a gift. Remember, God sees you as someone to be treasured.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Being Thankful

The Bible talks often about being thankful. One verse is I Thessalonians 5:18 which states “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (NKJV).”

Maybe you think there is no way you can give thanks for everything or for certain instances. This verse states “In” everything give thanks, not necessarily “for” all things.

Regardless what happens to you, there is always something in it to be thankful for. If you are not in the habit of doing this, it might take a conscientious effort on your part to start finding things to be thankful for.

This verse says it is the will of God for you to be thankful in all things. If you’re a

Christian, that alone should make you desire to start thanking God.

I had a harrowing experience on a cruise a couple years ago.

About 10:30 on the third evening of a seven-day cruise, while at sea, I started experiencing chest pains. When the pains became intense, I finally went to the sick bay.

I had a minor heart attack two years before this so knew the pains were nothing to mess around with. Besides I wanted something to relieve the pain.

The medical staff there quickly started an IV in which they gave me medicine to reduce the pain. They ran blood tests and later took chest X-rays.

Early the next morning, the doctor informed me I had a heart attack. The cruise director came and informed my husband and me we were going to have to leave the ship. We had a scheduled stop at a port in Mexico and was just pulling into dock.

The cruise director told my husband he had 20 minutes to go get everything packed and ready to get off the ship.

I went by ambulance to the hospital. My husband came shortly thereafter.

I was in the hospital in Mexico for three days until they released me to fly home. While there I had a heart catheterization done. I had to lay flat on my back for at least 24 hours afterward.

It was frightening to have such a serious procedure done at a Mexican hospital and stay there where Spanish was spoken. It was traumatic to have a heart attack on a ship in the ocean and then be told to vacate the ship in a matter of minutes.

But in all that, I was thankful.open bible

I was thankful that we pulled into port early the next morning so I could be taken by ambulance to the hospital and not have to be life-flighted from the ship in the middle of the ocean. I was thankful we had purchased the travel insurance to help pay the medical expenses. I was thankful I could communicate with my family through texts while I was in the hospital. I was thankful my husband could stay in the room with me.

Most of all, I was thankful the Lord was with me the whole time and heard my prayers.

This is just one example of a opportunity I had to give thanks.

Sometimes it takes a while for us to remember to be thankful, and then to think of things we are thankful for.

However, you can become thankful in any situation, and this pleases the Lord.

Each day is a gift.  Think of things to be thankful for today.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Forming Bonds

little-girls-walking-jpgWhen I was in first grade we moved again. R.J. went to the school for the Deaf but Katrina was too young to. My school was only a block away so I walked to and from. Of course, we were all home during the summer which is when these stories happened.

We moved where we didn’t have friends nearby, so Katrina and R.J. continued to be my constant companions.

The bathroom in that house was in the basement. One memory I have was Mama taking us to the bathroom and showing us not to use over four sheets of toilet paper when we went to the bathroom. I can see her pointing to the squares and showing 1-2-3-4 to R.J., Katrina and me. We all got the message. I guess as kids we were pretty generous with the toilet paper, and Mama felt we needed to have direction.

Daddy built a window fan. For those of you who are too young to know what that is, it is a big fan placed in the window to draw the warm air in the house out and bring the cooler air from outside in, thus cooling down the house. Air conditioning was uncommon in homes during that time. I don’t know of anyone who had it.

The fan worked fine except Daddy neglected to saw the axle off the motor. When the blades turned, the axle turned.

Mama rarely worked outside the home but at this time she did. Sara babysat us.

One time as I was calling Sara, I was standing close enough to the fan to hear my voice quiver as I was yelling. All of a sudden, my head jerked back as my long hair was pulled into the fan and wrapped around the axle. I screamed for all I was worth.

The axle on the motor yanked out a chunk of  hair at the back of my head out by the roots. The spot was significant, about two inches by three inches.

We kids were horrified and did not know what to do since Mama was at work.

We were blessed to have a wonderful neighbor. Sara, R.J., Katrina and I marched over to her house to show her my bald spot. We were all concerned my hair would not grow back.

“Ah, yeah,” she said with a smile. “It will grow back.” And it did. We were much relieved.

Another day Katrina and I went missing. Mama and Daddy and my siblings searched everywhere in the house and around the yard for us. With a sinking feeling they realized we were nowhere to be found.

Daddy got in the car and drove around looking for us. When he found us, we were a few blocks from home, walking along the sidewalk holding hands. We were headed in the opposite direction of home.

Mama was the disciplinarian in the family. “Did you spank them?” she asked Daddy when he brought us home. Mama would have spanked us for wandering off.

“Aw, honey, I didn’t have the heart to spank them,” Daddy replied. “They looked so cute and innocent walking along holding hands. I just couldn’t spank them.”

As you can see, R.J., Katrina and I formed bonds at an early age. Even as a child in first grade, I felt it was my responsibility to look after Katrina. I was always protective of her. I still am.

Each day is a gift. Take care of those you love.

 

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Compliments

peach-rose-complimentsAre you a person who freely gives compliments? Or are they hard for you to give? Is it easier to compliment some people more than others?

There may be several reasons why you find it hard to pay people compliments.

You might feel that complimenting a person takes away some of your worth. If they are good at something and you compliment them, it might feel like you are lacking in that area.

Sometimes it is hard to compliment a person you feel does not deserve complimenting. In your eyes, they seem unworthy. There are so many things you do not like or respect about the person it’s hard for you to even find something to compliment them on.

Or it may be just the opposite – you feel they already think highly enough of themselves and complimenting them would only make them more prideful or arrogant. You might feel they get enough accolades regarding a particular feature you admire.

It could be something that goes way back to your childhood. Maybe you were not raised with compliments. You might feel artificial giving them. And awkward receiving them.

Regardless of the reason, may I encourage you to make an effort to compliment people? Even those you feel are not worthy or are too arrogant.

When you compliment someone, it takes nothing from your personal worth. In my opinion, it actually adds to it.

It used to be extremely difficult for me to compliment people. One reason was, I was bashful and felt awkward. I know that’s hard to believe but I was. I had a huge inferiority complex.

My cousin helped me learn how to sincerely compliment. We were visiting a friend’s home and he noticed things in the home he admired. He was quick to compliment the parents on them. I could see the ice around the folks breaking.

I learned from this.

I believe in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. My love language is words of affirmation. When someone sincerely compliments me, it builds me up and makes me feel worthwhile. So I try to compliment people as often as I can.

I’m not talking about false compliments or just flattery. I’m talking about sincerely complimenting someone.

If this is something you are not used to doing, at first it might make you feel awkward. It will take practice.

A compliment can be something as simple as telling someone you like their hair or shoes or shirt. It might be something deeper like telling them you like the way they make others feel at ease, or how they tell a story, or how talented they are. Or how much they bless you.

Remember complimenting someone takes nothing away from you, and it can mean the world to them. You never know how your words touch them. It might be the only positive thing they’ve heard that day, or week or month.

Each day is a gift. Make an effort to compliment someone today.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Unconditional Love

canary-unconditional loveMy canary lost his song because of molting. I knew this was a transitional thing and that it would not go on forever. However for a while, it seemed I was wrong.

The average time for birds to molt is six – twelve weeks. Six weeks passed – I wasn’t too concerned. As the weeks turned into months, I became a little more concerned.

Three then four then five months passed with no song from my bird. I went from expectation to concern to aggravation.

I enjoy chirps, peeps and cheeps from any bird, even those that do not have what is considered a beautiful song. During this period, my canary barely made any sounds. Just the occasional peep when I was talking to him. Silence reigned in my home. It was like I had no bird at all.

I found myself thinking and actually saying to him, “What good are you? I got you so I could listen to your chirping and beautiful song, and now you don’t make any sound at all.”

How could I even think that, you say? I was looking for a specific performance from him. I bought him for a specific – albeit selfish – reason, and he wasn’t fulfilling his part of the deal.

One day as I approached my silent bird, the same thoughts came. “What good is this bird?”

I felt the Lord speak clearly to my spirit. “What if I felt that way about you?” He said. “What if my love was conditional based on your performance and what you did or did not do?”

I stopped short.

I quickly thanked Him that His love is unconditional. It is not based on what we do or don’t do. His love is based on Him because He is love. Not on our performance. He does not snatch His love away if we don’t please Him.

This is a hard concept for some people to actually believe and receive. Maybe you are one of those people. Maybe all your life, you have felt like you have to work to earn someone’s love – especially God’s love.

I am not saying we should not try to do what is right. And that the Lord is pleased with everything we say or do. We should try to do what the Lord wants us to do and what we feel is right. But whether we do or don’t, His love for us never changes.

After the Lord spoke to me so clearly about this, I became concerned rather than irritated with my little bird. I looked up what might be causing him to have such a lengthy molting season.

I read that he might need more protein in his diet. Also that he might need to be covered at night so he wasn’t exposed to too much sunlight.

I provided these things for him.

Finally, a couple weeks ago after five long months, I heard a faint trill from him. I was thrilled! It was like he was “whisper” singing. As time has gone by, his song has gotten stronger and louder.

Needless to say, I am delighted.

But whether or not he ever sings again, he will have a place in my home. I will take care of him to the best of my ability. I will love him regardless of how he performs. I will try to be with him as Christ is with us.

Each day is a gift. Remember, God loves you unconditionally.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Rarely the Same Way Twice

praying hands The Bible in I Chronicles 14:9-14 tells the story of when the Philistines came against King David. David was unsure if he should go out to battle against them or not. He wanted to be victorious. As was his custom, David asked the Lord what he should do.

The Lord told David to go up after them and He would deliver them into David’s hand. Meaning David would win the battle. Sure enough, David won the battle.

Not much later, the Philistines made a raid on another one of David’s lands. David once again inquired of the Lord as to what he should do.

This time, the Lord told him not to go after the Philistines. Instead, he and his army should circle around the Philistine army and attack them from the front.

David obeyed the Lord and pushed the Philistine army back thus winning that battle, too.

Sometimes, when we are praying about something, we expect the Lord to answer us in the same way He answered in the past.

It has been my experience (and I’ve been serving the Lord over 50 years) that the Lord seldom – and in fact, rarely, answers our needs the same way twice.

Back in the late ‘90’s, my shoulder became frozen. I could only lift my arm so far in front of me and out to the side. I could not put my hand all the way around to put it in my front pocket without tremendous pain. It was frozen.

I had trouble sleeping. I could only lay in one position for about 20 minutes before the pain in my shoulder woke me up. So all night I went from my right side, to my back, to my left side, to my back, to the right side, and so on.

For a short time, my doctor had me put my arm in a sling.

I was at church when one of the men noticed the sling. He came up to me and said, “What’s this?” pointing to the sling.

I said, “Oh, I’m having trouble with my shoulder.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “In the name of Jesus, I command this shoulder to align with the word of God.”

When he said that, I felt warmth go all through my shoulder. That night I slept through the night for the first time since my shoulder became frozen. Within days I was able to move that arm freely with full range of motion.

About eight years later, my other shoulder did the same thing. I had everyone I knew of pray for my healing. It did not get any better.

I eventually had surgery followed by several weeks of painful physical therapy before my arm was able to have full range of motion again.

Here is my point: Regardless of one shoulder being miraculously healed and having to go through surgery on the other one, the result was the same – I got full range of motion in both shoulders.

Same with David, whether he went after the army or came around and faced the army, the result was the same – the battle was won.

Don’t be so focused on the way the Lord answered your prayer in the past that you overlook the way He may want to answer your prayer this time.

As I said, the Lord rarely answers or moves in the same way twice.

Each day is a gift. Be open to how the Lord wants to move or answer your prayers today.
©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Why Including them was Important

I love you signYou may be wondering why I put so much emphasis on R.J. and Katrina being included with our family. There are several reasons I do.

Back when R.J. and Katrina were born, people often did not bother trying to communicate with a family member who was deaf. The deaf child did not know what was going on and was even left out.

It was not uncommon for parents to drop a child off at the state residential school and leave them there until school was let out and closed for the summer. At that time the parents were required to pick the child up from school to spend the summer at home.

The school closed over Christmas break. If the parents did not plan on picking the child up for Christmas, the staff tried to find a family who would be willing to let that child stay with them over the two-week break.

Sometimes, a child would come home with R.J. or Katrina to visit over the weekend before going back to school on Monday. Kids loved to come to our house because every member of our family could and would communicate with them to one degree or another.

Imagine the isolation the child felt within his or her own family.

This is why so many Deaf people consider the people they went to the residential school with more like family than their own family. They were with each other nine months out of the year. At the school for the Deaf, communication flowed easily. Everyone was included.

Just as with any school, some kids were not as popular as others, but at least they could understand what was going on.

R.J. sucked his thumb up until the time he started school. He sometimes played with my older brother, Buddy’s, hair while he sucked his thumb. The first time he came home from the school for the Deaf, Mama and Daddy noticed he didn’t suck his thumb anymore. They had a feeling he probably got made fun of by the other kids, so he decided to put an end to his thumb sucking.

The superintendent of one of the residential schools R.J. and Katrina attended told Mama and Daddy, “I wish all my parents were like you.”

They did not understand what he meant. To them, including R.J. and Katrina in our family’s life, and being involved in their lives was normal and natural. It wasn’t until later that Mama and Daddy realized not all families felt this way.

When R.J. and Katrina got a little older, we moved to the town where the school for the deaf was located. We moved there so they could come home every day and we could see them more often. They went from being residential students to day students.

Our home became a hub for the Deaf. Mama had limited sign vocabulary but could fingerspell like a whip. The rest of us could also communicate with our visitors. I was the most fluent since I had grown up between R.J. and Katrina.

Most of our Deaf friends used the sign for “mother” when referring to Mama. She became a mother figure to many of them. They spoke of her with respect and affection.

Over the years, I have had so many Deaf people tell me they wish their family could sign to them like our family can sign to R.J. and Katrina. This always touched my heart.

Remember, each day is a gift. Communicate with those you love.
©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Sara and the Drive-in

movie reelsAs I mentioned before, I come from rather large family. My older sister, Sara, was five years older than I. Regardless of the age difference, we were close. She had such a giving heart, and, as soon as she started working, bought clothes for me.

Sara never did much like to drive and usually only drove when she had to.

I don’t know how, but one Saturday my best friend, Leigh, and I convinced her to take us to the drive-in movies that evening. Drive-in movies were quite popular back then.

I think there are a couple drive-ins still around but not many. Just in case you’ve never been, I will try to describe one to you.

Drive-ins had a huge screen outside. People drove their cars through the gates where the entrance fee was paid. Sometimes, you paid per person, but sometimes a whole car load of people could get in for one fixed price.

Along the ground facing the screen, posts with speakers on them stood in rows. There was enough space in between the posts for a car to park. The car would park next to the post on the driver’s side. Then the speaker, about nine inches long by five inches wide by two inches deep, was lifted off the post and hung on the inside the window. Everyone in the car could hear the movie from that speaker.

Three movies were usually shown. So, for the price of one movie, a person could enjoy watching three movies in the privacy and comfort of their car. The movies were shown in the evenings. They started at twilight and went on into the night.

That Saturday evening, Sara drove us to the drive-in. She was not in the best of moods to begin with. As she was trying to maneuver between two of the posts, she backed up to get a better place closer to the speaker post.

As she did, she inadvertently backed over one of the posts behind us. The back bumper caught the speaker part of the post. She was unable to pull forward. The speaker post was stuck.

Leigh and I thought this was hilarious. Sara sure didn’t. Leigh and I got out, cracking up as we did. One of us held the post down, and the other one lifted up on the bumper of the car – just enough so Sara could get the car unstuck and pull forward

Leigh and I were weak from laughing so hard.

It was an unpleasant, and I’m sure embarrassing, experience for Sara. However, Leigh and I still laugh when we think about it.

Needless to say, we could never convince Sara to take us to the drive-in again.

Sara lost her battle with cancer over two years ago. I still miss her and the wonderful times we shared. I rest in the knowledge we will meet again someday. I’m sure we will share a good laugh over our experience at the drive-in.

Remember a merry heart does good like a medicine. I hope this post made you chuckle as it did me when I was writing it.

Each day is a gift. Treasure the times you have with your loved ones.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Sharing Too Much

sharing too muchDo you know how much information is too much to share? Do you tend to want to tell or show everything to just anyone? Do you tend to divulge too much information?

There is a valuable lesson to be learned from the story of King Hezekiah of Judah. II Kings 20 tells this story.

The King had just gotten over being deathly ill. A king from another country – a country with which Judah had a tenuous relationship – heard about it and sent envoys to King Hezekiah with gifts and good wishes.

Hezekiah welcomed the envoys into his palace. He took them around and showed them everything in his palace, his armory, and the treasures in the temple. Even though he had never met these men before, he let them in the innermost rooms.

After the envoys went back home, Isaiah came to the king and said, “What did you show them?”

The king responded with, “I showed them everything. There was nothing they did not see.”

Isaiah said, “The time is coming when everything will be taken from here and your sons will be taken captive to serve that king and some will even become eunichs.”

All of this came to pass just as prophesied.

The king was very unwise in sharing all the information about everything he owned.
I have to admit, I could not believe he showed everything he owned to these men he did not know.

We need to use wisdom and discretion regarding how much and what we share with people. Sometimes we share too much and it can ultimately hurt us.

It is unwise to tell too much to people in general. Unless it is a dear friend who has earned your trust.

The Bible says “Don’t cast your pearls before swine or they will turn and rent you.”

If we tell too much to the wrong person or persons, they can use the information against us.

Bringing people in your home and showing them your valuable collections can turn on you.

Becoming paranoid about what you share is not my intent. My point is to use wisdom and discretion in all you say and do. Look back over your life and reflect on the things you’ve shared that you wish you hadn’t – for whatever reason. Learn from these.

Think about what you are saying. Are you giving too much information? Listen to that little voice in your head that is telling you that you should not be telling what you are.

All of us have said more than we should have for whatever reason. I just want to make us – me included – more aware.

Each day is a gift. Be aware of what you say and guard your tongue from sharing too much.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

They Just Can’t Hear

They just can't hearR.J. clung to the dorm supervisor, shyly peeking around her skirt to look at Mama and Daddy. He made no move to go to them. This was the first time he had seen them in over a month, and he was unsure what to do.

“Mama, didn’t that break your heart?” I asked when she told me the story.

“It did in one way, Bev, but in another way it made me feel good because I figured if he clung to her like that, it meant they were being good to him.”

Mama had a unique way of seeing the big picture. She had wisdom beyond her years. She and Daddy both did. So instead of taking offense and being hurt, they took solace in the fact R.J. was fond of the dorm supervisor.

Their outlook always amazed me especially considering how young they were when they married. She was fifteen and he was eighteen.

I think this common sense approach was how she – and consequently all of us – dealt so well with having Deaf children.

I have already mentioned how she made up home signs to use with R.J. and Katrina. We all did.

We learned other ways to compensate for R.J.’s and Katrina’s deafness. If they were across the room, we learned to stomp on the floor to get their attention. Mama knew they would feel the vibration through the floor and look around.

We also learned to flash the lights to get their attention. Or wave our arms. If they were close enough, a gentle tap on the shoulder for them to look at us was all it took. We knew they had to be looking at us for communication to take place. Calling them, regardless of how loudly, was useless.

As R.J. learned signs, so did Mama and the rest of us. Mama was a whiz at finger-spelling. All of us learned to sign to one degree or another.

R.J. and Katrina were included in everything we did as a family. No difference was made between them and the rest of us kids. They were expected to follow the same rules as we were.

I think this contributed to R.J.’s and Katrina’s self-esteem and overall success.

In later years, when I was in the Interpreter Training Program, I learned that many parents feel guilty when their child is born deaf. I never sensed this in Mama but thought I would ask her just to be sure.

“Mama, did you ever feel guilty because R.J. and Katrina were born deaf?”

“I’d like to know what the dickens I had to feel guilty about,” she quipped. “I didn’t do anything to make them deaf!”

I chuckled to myself. What a truly healthy response. That was one reason why no overcompensating was done with them. They were just normal kids who happened not to be able to hear. And we treated them as such.

Remember, each day is a gift. Sometimes accepting people as they are is the best thing you can do for them.

©2019 Bev Brown – All rights reserved.

Your Pants Dropped Where?

smiley-shockedI have a friend whom I shall affectionately call George. George is a large man – rotund around the middle. However, he has a relatively slender bottom and legs.

A few years ago, he was roughing in a room in the basement since a child was moving back home. When it was time to buy the door, he made a trip to Home Depot, dressed in a t-shirt and pair of shorts.

George wanted to be the door to be the largest size available so it would be easier to move furniture in the room, once completed.

After finding the door he wanted, he loaded it on one of the large flat-bed carts. It was, of course, too large to put in a regular cart. He purchased the door and headed to his car.

George pushed the large cart to his truck but every time he let go of the cart to lift the door into the truck, the cart started rolling down the parking lot. A nice lady saw his dilemma and politely asked, “Would you like me to hold the cart for you so it won’t roll away?”

“Yes, that would be great,” was his ready answer.

As he lifted the door up above his head to put it in the truck, he unwittingly took a breath making his stomach draw in. When he did, his shorts dropped to his ankles.

Embarrassed and humiliated, he glanced around at the woman helping him. She had her head turned the other way.

He had no choice but to go ahead and put the door in the truck, leaving his shorts around his ankles for the short time it took to load the door.

As soon as the door was put in the truck bed, George quickly bent over, grabbed his shorts, and yanked them up as fast as he could. He peeked to see what the woman was doing. She was long gone. No trace of her anywhere.

George brought the door home and successfully put it in.

When he told me of the incident, I thought I was going to split a side laughing. I loved his transparency in telling me. He certainly did not have to.

The next day, George needed to make another trip to Home Depot. His wife noticed he was wearing long pants and a button-down shirt. She knew his usual attire was the t-shirt and shorts he had worn the day before.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“I have to go Home Depot and I don’t want anyone to recognize me.”

From that time on for several years, friends and family would laughingly point out the Home Depot where he went as the one where “George made his debut.”

I hope you got a chuckle from my story. I know I laughed several times while writing it.

The Bible says a merry heart does good like a medicine. Hopefully, this story gave you your dose of laughter today.

Remember, each day is a gift. Try to find things to make you chuckle today.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Captive Canary

captive canaryI mentioned before that I like animals.

I recently purchased a male singer canary. I love his song. When he really cuts loose, it sounds like there are several birds in the cage with him.

As soon as I uncover his cage in the morning, he blesses me with the peeps, trills and whistles of his song. He sings with all the joy that is within him. He sings off and on all day long. He even sings around 8 or 8:30 in the evening.

His song is so loud and long it can interfere with phone calls or listening to the television or the radio.

I don’t mind. I love it.

Several things have spoken to me as I have observed my bird.

One is he is stuck in the cage all the time, 24/7. He can only flit from perch to perch, food to water and back. He cannot truly set his wings free to fly as he is meant to do.

However, this does not affect his singing at all. He sings like he is totally liberated. He doesn’t let his circumstances get him down.

Oh, that we could be like my canary. That we could learn to sing and be happy regardless of our circumstances.

We can, you know. We can make the decision to, regardless of our situation, find joy in our life and celebrate that joy. Look for the things to be thankful for. There is always something we can be thankful for and rejoice over.

Another thing I thought about is how he is totally dependent on me to provide his needs—his food, water, shelter and health care. He doesn’t even give it a thought I’m sure. He just trusts he is going to be fed and watered.

That is how we should be with the Lord. Look to Him to provide what we need—food, water and shelter. Trust the Lord to provide for you. It may not be exactly what you want but He will provide.

The last thing I want to talk about regarding reflections on my canary, is more about me than about him.

The main reason I got him is because of his song. When I first got him, I was thrilled each time I heard him burst forth in song. It tickled me and I would actually laugh out loud from delight.

But as time has gone on, I find myself so used to his singing that I actually block it out. He can be singing away and I don’t even notice until someone or something brings it to my attention.

Here is my point. We can get so used to blessings in our life that we take them for granted. We don’t even think about them. Things like having a roof over our heads. Or having enough to eat. Or getting clean water just by going to the faucet and turning it on. Even having someone who loves us.

In conclusion, having a bird is not all fun and games. It’s not just about the beautiful song. There are work and effort involved.

Seeds get all over the floor. I have to sweep at least once a day to keep from being overtaken by the seeds he flings out when he eats. I have to feed and water him on a daily basis. His cage needs cleaning once a week.

Here’s the thing—anything worth having requires some effort on your part. Whether it is a pet, or a home. or a car, or even a relationship. Things don’t just maintain themselves.

I hope my reflections encouraged or challenged you today.

Remember each day is a gift. Look for things to sing about regardless of your situation and circumstance.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Who or What are You Seeking?

 

 

iced-coffee I love it when the Lord gives us life lessons, don’t you? It truly inspires me when He can take an experience we’re having and show us spiritual significance in it. Here is an example of one of the most recent ones I’ve had.

I like the bottled Starbucks Mocha Lite Frappicinos. The reason I drink them is because there are only 12 grams of carbohydrates in a bottle. This is the amount of carbs I can have for a snack. Drinking these satisfies my sweet tooth and helps keep me from eating things I shouldn’t.

Some years ago, I had a bout of sickness for the majority of seven weeksl. While I was sick, I drank the last of the bottled frappicinos I had here at the house. Shortly after that I went to buy some more. I went to two or three different stores and, while they had a good supply of the other kinds of bottled frappicinos, none of the stores had any of the Mocha Lite.

Well, this became a quest for me. I looked at the Wal-Mart in Gardner, the Target in Overland Park, at one or two of the Price Choppers and no one had any. My husband joined in the search and looked at two or three other stores in Olathe, not to mention looking at the Super Center Wal-Mart in Wichita and Springfield.

No luck at any of them. I even called Starbuck’s customer service to make sure they were still manufacturing them. Then called Pepsi distribution customer service (because they are the ones who decide what and how much to take to stores to sell).

As I was thinking about this the other day, the Lord spoke to my heart and said He wished I would seek Him with the same intense diligence I had been seeking my Starbuck’s Mocha Lite Frappicinos.

This really struck me. I thought how frivolous it was for me to be so intent on finding my drink which has no eternal significance at all.

We really do need to be seeking His kingdom and His righteousness above anything else. The Word says to, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

To seek His kingdom means to seek the things of God. To seek is to spend time in prayer and His Word; to seek His will in our lives; to seek the things that are important to Him and of eternal significance. Seeking His righteousness means to do what is right in God’s sight. When we do this, then we find everything we need in life; the important things of life.

I pray for myself and for you that we will seek His kingdom and His righteousness above all others. That is where true happiness and contentment are found.

A post script to this message is that several weeks after my quest, my husband bought some Mocha Lite Frappicinos in Saint Louis. He bought quite a few cartons of them for me. I had already accepted the fact that I wouldn’t have any more to drink, so this was a special delight. I thought of how like the Lord this is–to give us our hearts desire even in the little insignificant things like my bottled drinks.

I now have no problem at all finding my frappicinos.
Remember each day is a gift. Be mindful of what and/or who you are seeking today.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

The Baby is Deaf

baby is deafHoney, don’t you think our baby’s deaf?” my father asked my mother after being home from the war only a few days. That was it! What had been nagging at the back of her mind.

Something had been bothering Mama about their youngest of three children,10 month old, R.J. Like many babies during this time, R.J. had been born while Daddy was overseas fighting in World War II, so Daddy didn’t see him until he got home. R.J. had a stocky build, curly light brown hair and brown eyes.

Mama couldn’t put her finger on exactly what had been bothering her. R.J. was such a bright, happy baby. Sometimes, when he rolled over on his tummy, his arm got caught under his ribs. He laughed and laughed because it tickled him so. His eyes would shine with intelligence especially when playing with his older brother and sister, Buddy and Sara.

But what was it that bothered Mama? She didn’t know. Maybe it was because he didn’t make the usual baby cooing and jabbering noises. Mama kept dismissing her feelings as making much ado about nothing. So when Daddy asked the poignant question, it was almost a relief to be able to identify what had been bothering her all along.

Daddy and Mama took R.J. to several doctors to determine what caused his deafness. Finally, one doctor said, “It’s obvious he is a happy, well-adjusted baby. Why don’t you not be so concerned about what caused his deafness. He was just born deaf.”

Years before, Mama and Daddy happened to pass a Deaf woman on the street who had a card with the manual alphabet on it. The card in exchange for a donation of any amount. They had never seen a Deaf person before but both had tremendous compassion for anyone less fortunate. They gave a nominal donation and took the card.

For some reason, Mama decided to keep the card and put it in the bottom of a drawer, never dreaming she would ever get it out, much less use it so she could communicate with one (and then later two) of her own children.

But that’s exactly what she did. Once they determined R.J. was deaf, Mama got the card out. She and Daddy began memorizing the manual alphabet which they taught to Ronnie.

Mama’s line of reasoning was, “I’ve got to communicate with him and if he can’t hear me, the only way to do that is to sign.”

Mama always felt it was a blessing she never consulted any “experts” who encouraged her to use Oralism—teach the child to lipread and speak. Allow no signs whatsoever. This was the trend back then.

I am the fourth child. I was born almost three years after R.J. Not quite two years after I was born, Katrina, was born. Katrina was also born deaf. Eight years later, Sissy was born and almost four years after that, Bryce came along. Bryce also had a hearing loss caused from a high fever when he was almost three.

Our family as a whole felt having Deaf siblings in the family was a huge blessing. We felt our lives were enriched by it. I honestly felt sorry for people who didn’t have a Deaf brother and sister.

Mama and Daddy never treated R.J. and Katrina any differently from the rest of us. They were included in whatever we did. They were also expected to follow the same rules as the rest of us kids. Even though Mama’s and Daddy’s signing was limited, they got their point across.

There was no place to learn Sign Language so we came up with home signs. Some Mama came up with and some R.J. and Katrina thought of.

I hope to post something about growing up with Deaf siblings the first Wednesday of the month. I hope you find it interesting.

Each day is a gift. Today realize that some of the things that might throw us off can end up being a blessing.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Pitfalls of Comparison

venus-fly-trap-2403031_960_720  I have a good friend who has been my friend since high school. We eventually married friends and our families hung out together. We often went over to their house and they came to ours.

I have never been the best housekeeper, especially when my kids were small. Toys would be in the family room, dishes in the sink, and dust wasn’t a stranger in our home.

And what in the world did people do with the socks taken out of the dryer that didn’t have a mate? My solution was to have a laundry basket filled with mismatched socks hoping to find a mate and miscellaneous items.

I picked up when company came over, trying to have a decent looking house. When company left, I was fine with doing the dishes and cleaning up the mess the next day.

When we went to my friend’s house, everything seemed to be in immaculate order—regardless of when we went over. Every towel in place and every toy in the toy box, exactly where they should be, and not a speck of dust to be found.

If our kids played a board game, no one could leave until every piece had been found and put back in the box. The dishes were immediately loaded in the dishwasher before we moved on to do anything else.

If necessary, my friend would stay up until two o’clock in the morning putting things back where they belonged and her house back in order. This just wasn’t that important to me.

I so admired her ability to keep everything in order. But not only did I admire her, I was intimidated and felt vastly inferior to her. I felt like I never measured up in every area, not just in the area of keeping a clean and tidy house.

We were dear friends but I always felt she was better than I was. I panicked any time they wanted to drop by before I had enough time to get everything just right.
I felt that way for years and years.

I recently wrote a book, and it was only after writing it I realized I actually had talents and abilities that she might not have. I had opportunities she never had.

My point is this–I wasted many years–decades in fact–feeling inferior every time I was around her. This is what comparison does to a person. She and I differed on things we valued. It didn’t make one of us wrong and the other one right—just different.

You might feel inferior to another person because you might not be able to do something as well as they can. Because of this, you might overlook and not appreciate the talents you do have. If the truth was known, you more than likely have talents they wish they had.

One of the pitfalls of comparison is this–if you feel you don’t measure up, you can overlook and not appreciate the abilities you do have. You may constantly feel you are lacking when in fact you are not.

There is another way comparison can be a pitfall. You might have the opposite reaction and feel you are vastly superior to someone. And, actually,  you might be better in a certain area. But not in all areas.

Each of us has things we excel at doing, and things we could do a little better.

Comparison is a waste of time, energy and emotions.

Each day is a gift. Don’t waste the happiness of today by comparing yourself to someone else.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Unexpected Incident

shockedMama died almost 13 years ago. Her visitation and funeral were lovely and pretty standard except for one incident that will probably be talked about for years to come by the people who attended the visitation.

I must admit, it’s a story that still makes me chuckle. I’m fully convinced if Mama was alive, it would make her chuckle too.

All of Mama’s children, grandchildren and extended family loved her very much. She was loving and kind.

About three months before Mama passed, my niece, Bridget, had a baby three months premature. The baby weighed only one pound nine ounces. Consequently, he had to stay in the hospital until he was big and strong enough to make it on his own.

While Mama lay dying at the nursing home, Bridget and her husband, Bill, came to visit her. By that time, Mama was unresponsive.

Within a day or two, the baby, B.T., was finally released from a three-month stay in the hospital. The first place Bridget and Bill went after picking up that precious little baby was straight to the nursing home to show him to Mama.

They brought the baby in and put him on the bed with Mama. They told her, “Grandma, here is B.T. He just got out of the hospital and we brought him right here to show you.” Of course, Mama didn’t respond.

Mama passed away within a day or two.

At the funeral home, we had set up posters with pictures of Mama and all her kids and grandkids.

As Bill looked at all the pictures, he kept saying, “There are no pictures of Grandma and B.T.”

Later, as people were sitting around after viewing Mama in the casket, Bill decided there needed to be a picture of B.T. and Grandma.

Bill’s mother-in-law agreed to take the picture. She had no idea what was about to happen.

Before we knew it, Bill had placed the baby in the casket with Mama.

The color drained from his mother-in-law’s face.

Audible gasps were heard around the room.

I frantically thought, “What do I do? What do I do?”

It seemed like an eternity passed but it was actually only a matter of seconds. I reached over to gently take the baby out of the casket while saying to Bill, “Bill, this is upsetting people. Why don’t you hold the baby in front of Grandma and get a picture that way?”

Bill said, “Oh. Okay.” He then held the baby in front of the casket so a picture could be taken of them and Mama.

You may be wondering why I told this story. The main reason was to hopefully give you a chuckle.

Another reason is to hopefully help you see there is humor and deeper significance in most situations.

The Bible says that the Lord looks on the heart and not the outward appearance.

It would have been easy for us to have become upset with Bill for daring to place the baby in the casket with Mama’s body and disrupting what should have been a sober, meaningful time. However, I knew Bill meant no disrespect by placing him there. Bill just wanted make sure he had a picture of B.T. and his great grandma.

I knew Mama would have totally understood his heart. And that made everything all right.

But it was still a shock for those in attendance.

Each day is a gift. Today try to find humor and deeper significance in unexpected situations.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Personal Examples of Forgiveness

dog with roseWe all have examples in our lives of times we have or should have forgiven someone.
I will give you an example of forgiveness from my own life.

I have been a Christian since I was eleven. After I was married there was a situation where I felt extremely jealous of how my in-laws were preferring other kids in the family over mine. My kids were being left out.

This jealousy, bitterness and resentment consumed me. So much so that I started experiencing stomach pains.

One day as I was thinking about it, the Lord spoke to my spirit. “Look at them,” He said.
I envisioned them. They were going about their merry lives, happy as ever.

“Now look at you,” He said.

I was miserable. “Who has your jealousy and bitterness hurt?”

I realized it had hurt me, not them. I determined right then to forgive them. In my heart and mind, I let it go.

The situation did not change. They still spent more time with the other kids than with mine. However, I had peace instead of experiencing all the emotions I had felt before. I had no more stomach pains.

Let me just add one thought here–One way to obtain happiness is learning to deal with and accept things you cannot change. I had no control over how they treated my kids.

As time went on, occasionally, something would happen to cause those old feelings of jealousy to come back. And I had to decide to let it go and forgive them once again.

One day, one of these same in-laws told my then six-year-old son to leave their home and not come back. This was devastating to me. I had never experienced anything like this before. I loved my son and was, of course, very protective of him.

I also loved the person who did that. I could not stand the thought of there being a rift within the family.

I wept about it for weeks.

They eventually sent a letter of apology, saying they had been under a lot of stress and so on and so forth.

I had a decision to make. I could accept the apology at face value and forgive them. Or I could remain angry with them–cut off all ties. And continue to be miserable.

I decided to forgive them and go back to their house. I do not regret the decision. My kids and I benefitted from the restored relationship.

For years, I didn’t think about the incident except in passing. When I did think of it, I didn’t have the feeling of bitterness and resentment. And I didn’t think of it every time I saw the relative.

I thought all the feelings regarding this incident were completely resolved. However, years later, when that son was in high school, the same relative made a critical remark about him which caused all those wounded emotions to come rushing back—feelings of anger and bitterness.

I had to work through the process of forgiveness all over again. Which I did.

I know the incidences I’ve mentioned are nothing compared to what you might have experienced. Things beyond your control – often for years.

But you can forgive them. I promise. The first step is being willing to. You will be so much happier and at peace when you do.

Do it for yourself. And for those you love.

Remember, forgiveness is a process, and you might have to release things again and again until you are completely free. And forgiveness has truly taken place.

Each day is a gift. Decide today to let go of the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.

©2019 Bev Brown – All Rights Reserved

Achieving Forgiveness

peaceThe first step in forgiveness is being willing to forgive. Sounds easy, right? It’s not easy but it IS powerful, and you can do it.

You have to determine in your heart, “I will forgive so and so for what they’ve done.”

You might have to do this many times. Every time something comes up to bring back the hurt, resentment, or bitterness, decide–once again–to forgive.

Release it. This more than likely will be a process. The deeper the hurt or offense, the longer the process may take. Don’t be embarrassed if it does take some time. The most important thing is to be willing to forgive.

This might be a foreign concept to some of you. Some people just tend to forgive more easily than others.

Then there’s the fact that some hurts are deeper than others. For example, not getting invited to a party is on a whole different level than being abused.

They both involve getting hurt and require forgiveness but one might take more time and determination to forgive.

I discussed some of the benefits of forgiving in my previous post, so I won’t go over them again.

So, how will you know you have truly forgiven?

Think of the person who you feel has wronged you. What kind of emotions does this bring up? This helps you determine if you have forgiven that person or not.

I’ve heard people say if you have truly forgiven you’ve forgotten. I do not agree with this. I do not think we can ever totally forget something that has really wounded or hurt us. Those emotions run deep.

However, you can forget to the point where you don’t think of the hurtful thing they did every time you think of that person. You can forgive to the point that you are impervious to them.

You may never have intimate interaction or fellowship with the person again, and that’s okay. Sometimes you should not.

Boundaries are healthy. Forgiveness does not mean you have no boundaries. Nor does it mean you have to embrace that person into your personal life again.

But you can get to the point where you have no feelings one way or the other. You can remember the incident without all the anger and emotions roiling inside.

That’s also not to say there will never be triggers. Depending on what has happened, there certainly might be triggers.

However, if you do constantly think of what they have done to you and feel resentful or bitter anytime you see them, or talk to them or they to you or can’t stand the sight of them, then you haven’t truly forgiven them.

I want to stress again that forgiving someone does not mean you condone what they did. It simply means you are ready to be released from the hold of bitterness and anger.

Remember, forgiveness frees you and benefits you.

Next week, I will give you some examples of how I had to forgive and how it benefitted me.

Each day is a gift—you determine what you will do with it.

Why Forgive

Let’s talk about something we hear preached and talked about so much it often becomes tedious to hear again. It has almost become mundane and its importance seemingly lessened. why

But I assure you it is as important today as ever. I’m talking about forgiveness.

You might even think, “I don’t need to read this because I don’t have anyone I haven’t forgiven.”

Hopefully, what I say will be thought provoking for you.

Forgiveness is important for both Christians and non-Christians, because the principle is the same for both.

So why forgive?

The most important reason is how it affects you.

Unforgiveness leads to resentment. Resentment leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to hatred. Hatred ends up destroying us. It eats us up inside.

It can become your whole focus in life. When you hold unforgiveness toward someone, it can affect how you deal with everything in life.

It colors every thought and action, often causing you to miss out on the happiness and blessings around us. Even things not related to the person or incident. It filters responses.

Someone might ask a simple question or make an innocent remark, and you find yourself lashing out at them because there is an underlying sense of anger caused by unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness, bitterness and hatred can and does manifest in your physically.

In contrast, forgiveness gives you peace, while improving your spiritual, emotional and, many times, physical well-being. When you forgive, a weight feels as if it’s been lifted off your shoulders.

It releases you from the hold that person and their actions have over you. It benefits not only you, but those you love as well.

If forgiveness is so beneficial then what are some reasons people don’t or won’t forgive?

One reason is you may think the person does not deserve to be forgiven. And in the natural sense, that may be true.

Sometimes you have the idea that to forgive them means condoning what they did. In your mind, it feels like you excuse whatever it was. This is not the case.

Remember, forgiving them benefits you more than it does them. Because you forgive them does not mean you accept or condone what they did. It just means you are not going to let them and whatever they did control you and your thoughts and emotions anymore.

As a Christian I could throw in here that we didn’t deserve for Christ to forgive us but He did.

But even if you don’t claim to be a Christian, forgiveness benefits you just the same.

How does one achieve forgiveness? Check in next week to find the answer to this question.

 

Each day is a gift. Don’t waste today with unforgiveness and bitterness.