One Awesome Way to Start Your Day

Beth Morrison

Each morning Beth Morrison starts her day with a cup of coffee and her Bible.  She thought the Bible was hard to read, but she found doing a little bit each day made it easy. Each morning, with her coffee, she draws deeper into her relationship with God and His word.  Morrison shares her love of God, the Bible and coffee in her daily devotion, Honest Reflections: A Quiet Moment with God. This daily devotional will help you draw closer to God.  You will learn to apply His word to your life, all while enjoying a morning cup of coffee.

Honest Reflections was started in 2017 as a way for fledgling writer Morrison to share her love of God.  As her boldness in sharing her faith increased, she began to write a daily devotion.  “Talking about God with someone while having a cup of coffee is my favorite thing to do.”, she says.  Honest Reflections is her way of sharing that love of rich conversation and coffee with others.

 In 2019 the devotions focused on different topics.  Each month explored a theme in the daily writings, helping followers learn more about themselves and God.  In 2020, Morrison is taking her devotions in a new direction, as she pursues God’s leading into a new adventure.  Following God’s prompting in her life, she’s incorporating more scripture-based content in her writing.

Each day will start with a Scripture that comes from the “Further Reading” section found at the bottom of the devotional.  Daily readings will include an Old Testament reading, New Testament reading, Psalms and Proverbs.  From those readings, the author will explore how to apply scripture to your life.  A “Question of the Day,” will allow readers to focus their thoughts on one aspect of God’s love for them.  Group discussions can be facilitated through the comments, either via the Facebook page or blog post.  The devotions are designed as a simple way to connect with God, and others.

Morrison is committed to her life verses: “ ‘And you must love the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NIV.  She condenses the verses into a four-word mantra for her life, “Love God, love others.”  “My prayer is that through my writings, I will help others come to know and love God as I have, completely and wholly.”, she says.

Make 2020 your year to grow closer to God.  Don’t be intimidated by Scripture any longer.  Begin each day with your favorite cup of coffee, God’s word and fresh inspiration from Honest Reflections.  Whether you read it once a week, a couple of times a week or every day, you are sure to find something to help grow you closer to God.  You can have the devotional delivered to your email, find it on Facebook or read the blog.  Let Honest Reflections daily devotionals help you grow deeper in your faith than ever.  Don’t wait, sign up today. 

2 Coaches Love of Tennis Have Made a Valuable Difference

Morrison and Cuevas Receiving Nielsen Award

By: Beth Morrison

Two award winning coaches have breathed life into kids tennis in the Hampton Road’s area over the past five years with their program.  Hampton Roads Tennis Academy (HRTA), a partnership between two women, is the reason once empty tennis courts are now being used.

            Martha Cuevas, a retired teaching assistant from Coventry elementary school in Yorktown, VA, asked Beth Morrison to take a coaching class with her. That invitation was the seed that eventually grew into HRTA.  In Cuevas’s words, “I started coaching because of my love of tennis. I want to help grow the sport.”  Harvey Robbins, tennis pro at Huntington Park Tennis Center, gave Cuevas her first taste of coaching.  “I started helping Harvey with his red ball class.  This motivated me to take the USTA training for 10 and under.”  This is the training she invited Morrison to attend, that is how their partnership started.

Cuevas Teaching Red Ball Class

            The partner’s have just completed their fifth year of coaching together.  Cuevas said they realized early on the need for the program in their community. “As we started coaching different age groups, especially the older kids, it really became apparent that if we could get the kids interested at an early age, the skill level of kids going into high school and beyond would be so much better.”  In their first year they taught only 10 and Under kids, by year two they had expanded to middle school kids as well. Cuevas said, “Additional training through PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) has also helped us feel more confident in teaching children and adults.”  As of today, HRTA offers classes to all ages, from 5 to adult.

            In addition, the duo has formed a partnership with York County Parks and Recreation Department.  Classes are available January thru February for school age children on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The coaches transform Dare elementary school’s basketball court into indoor tennis courts with the use of volleyball nets, allowing students to continue working on skills throughout the winter months.  Cuevas and Morrison teach weekly summer camps for the county during the summer.

Cuevas said, when asked why she loves coaching; “I really feel proud when our students master skills and you can see their excitement.  They continue lessons with us or improve enough that they move on to more advanced instructions.”  The partners work with other tennis coaches in the area to promote all opportunities available to the kids, not just what HRTA offers.  The company’s mission as stated on their website explains why: “Our mission is to grow youth tennis on the Peninsula and beyond.”

York county Tennis Camp Participants

            The kid’s favorite question according to Cuevas, “When can a I play a match?”  Cuevas said HRTA is accomplishing their mission; “The most important thing we want our kids to have is fun!  Tennis is a fun sport that can be played a lifetime, but if kids aren’t having fun, they won’t come back.”  At the end of class,  back.”  At the end of class, Cuevas said she often hears the kids say, “The lesson is over already!”  Cuevas continued, “This confirms we’ve done our job for the day, the kids had fun.”

            In 2015 Cuevas and Morrison received the “Dr. Herman N. Nielsen Award,” the first women to receive it.  The award is given by the Peninsula Tennis Patrons Association (PTPA), a non-profit organization that runs tennis tournaments in the Hampton Roads Area. The Neilson award is given annually to those who help promote tennis on the peninsula. Cuevas and Morrison received the award for their work with 10 and Under kids in their second year of coaching.


One Way Brides-to-Be Plan Their Special Day


Staff Writer

Brides-to-be were disappointed when they attended the Virginia Bridal and Wedding Expo at the Virginia Beach Pavilion on Sunday.  The show was short on Bridal shops but had a long list of realtors and other vendors available.

Karen Bradley, a realtor for Coldwell Banker, was a first-time vendor – but she has also attended as a bride in the past.  Bradley said, “I’m surprised they allow realtor booths, when I attended as a bride I don’t remember any being here.”  Vendors ranged from photographers, hair salons, wedding venues and wellness centers.  Kaity Collins, a licensed master esthetician was also a first-time vendor. Collins said, “We’ve had a steady stream of traffic up until the Bridal show started.”  KKWellness, a weight loss and nutrition center, were also in attendance with hopes to help brides-to-be fit into their dress when their day arrived.

Copper Coupe & Company Mobile Bar  was the only mobile bar in attendance.  Stephanie Rook, a bride-to-be at their booth, liked the idea.  Rook said, “This would be fantastic if I was doing an outdoor wedding.” The company has converted a 1987 bumper pool horse trailer into a mobile bar.  If hired, the fully stocked bar, comes with “only the best bartenders in the business,” according to the company website.  Their bar had a constant stream of people asking the representatives for more information.  To complement Cooper Coupe and Company’s bar, Signature DJs was an adjacent vendor ready to provide musical needs for an outdoor wedding.

At 3 p.m., midway through the expo the fashion show by McCellis Brides began.  Brides in all styles of gowns paraded before a packed crowd, standing room only.   Their ensembles included no jewelry and accessories as noted by one bride.  People began to wander in and out as the show continued.  Lasting less than an hour, the place began to empty once it was over. A brief video of the show can be found below.

The show did have a plethora of design ideas.  Fluttering Flowers provided a centerpiece and table pavilion for floral ideas.  They offer everything from bouquets, centerpieces and boutonnieres. Their motto, “Let us flutter your flowers on your favorite day,” describes their desire to make weddings perfect.   Dream Cake Bakery offered samplings of their cakes, 3 of the flavors are free, all others come at an extra cost.  And to help pull it all together, event planners like Events by Beckie were on hand to offer assistance.

Rook, a bride planning for a June 2020 wedding was highly disappointed.  Her quest to find the perfect accessories were not helped with the meager offerings of the show.  In Rook’s words, “Be prepared with pre-printed bride information, all I’ve done is fill out forms.”  Ultimately, her goal of finally finding the perfect pair of shoes was denied.  Rook said, “It’s just an information gathering convention for bridal vendors.”  Rook did appreciate the realtors she met.  She said, “This really helps get the ball rolling on buying a house.”  Her fiancée and her are first time home buyers, just beginning the search for a new home.  She made realtor contacts and her email will be full of wedding promotions for the next 6 months as she finalizes her special day.

She Laughs Without Fear of the Future

To sit down and have coffee with Shanda Piggott is like a breath of fresh air.  Her genuine love of God and people are evident in everything she does.  Her smile makes you want to know what she is thinking.  I found out what is behind the smile, it’s her love of God.  Raised in Williamsburg, VA she didn’t have a typical church upbringing, in fact she only went to church when her grandmother took her.  A grandmother she now cares for on her days off from Camp Peary, where she is a police officer.  Those Sunday’s were the only seeds God needed to plant to grow the warrior for Him she has become.

Shanda during her time a Children’s Leader

 Shanda was 11 when she accepted Jesus into her life and was baptized.  In her words, she “knew what that meant but didn’t understand it.”  Her true knowledge of the Lord started later in life.  Her belief in God was solid, but she didn’t follow His leading until after college.  Her journey led her to working at a juvenile detention center where she found a Bible.

 King David is her favorite hero. He was the one that would draw her back to the stories of him found within the pages of the historic text.  Those stories led to a simple prayer, “God love me like you loved King David.”  God answered.  First, she noticed her friendships changing, growing more distant.  She felt God telling her He would develop “new friendships” for her.  The relationship she was in fell apart. Approximately six months after praying that prayer, she was introduced to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  Her journey was just beginning.

            Shanda’s spiritual mentor, the pastor’s wife of her church is who invited her to BSF, an international women’s comprehensive Bible study.  They were studying Genesis that first study 8 years ago, God confirmed, this was her new beginning.  Another 6 months goes by, she is asked to lead in the children’s ministry.  She accepts God’s call and serves faithfully for the next five years, the picture above is from this time period.  Just at the point when she is thinking of taking a break from ministry, this single mom of 2 incredible boys, gets another call.  This time she is asked to consider being a Substitute Teaching Leader to the 400 women who attend the Wednesday morning Sunday.  She once again accepts God’s call on her life, and steps into her new role.  A role she continues to hold after 2 years.  The role in which I met her.  My first day at BSF she was the speaker, her talk was on Acts.  Her passion was evident as she taught us the lessons learned in the early church. 

                       Her leadership impacts others as well, part of her role as STL is helping grow other leaders.  Her passion for what she does was evidenced when I asked my group leader about Shanda.  Marybeth Antcliff told me she is “amazed at how effortless she makes it look.  She’s a natural, but also very prepared and very professional.  She is a great listener and is good at making the people around her feel important.”  When I asked Bebe Dove, Teaching Leader of BSF for one word to describe Shanda, without hesitation she said, “Authentic.”  Caroline Mellen, a BSF member, enjoys Shanda’s speaking.  In her words, Shanda is “Confident.  She speaks not through her notes, she speaks with her heart.”

            Our time together was short, but our conversation was rich.  Her love of the Lord, her passion for following Him are contagious.  One can’t help but feel His presence when you sit with Shanda for a few minutes.  She sees Him in all of life’s events.  She watches closely for signs of His works in her life.  She understands, He’s in the small things as well as the big things.  She devotes her two days off a week to BSF and her role as leader.  When I asked her for an interview, she willingly agreed, even though she had no idea who I was.  She has a heart for the Lord that is rare to find.  The Lord is continuing to love her like He loved King David, the evidence is in her life.

Brief History of Me

I was privileged to be born in the small village of Tidal, PA in the last year of the 60’s decade. My life began shortly after man first walked on the moon. I ran the hills of that small village, dreaming of one day being Laura Ingalls Wilder, the writer. But life took me on a different path when my father moved the family to Dubois, PA to give my brothers and I more opportunity in life. We were able to be involved in school activities and experience things we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. Up until this point in life, I had a child like faith, believing God was a superhero; when my father passed away shortly before my 17th birthday, that faith wavered.

I spent the next ten years of my life battling with a God who had let me down. I struggled in life as I grieved the loss of not only my earthly father, but my heavenly Father as well. My God had let me down, I no longer believed in Him.

After seven long years, I finally received my undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Shortly thereafter I became a Flight Attendant for US Airways, where God showed me, even though I had turned my back on Him, He had never left me. As I began my new found journey with God, I wanted a more settled life which led to a career shift into retail. I spent the next 23 years enjoying my career choice, spending most of that time working for Nautica International as a Merchandise Coordinator. For 16 years I traveled the roads of Virginia and North Carolina, as well as the East Coast, selling their product.

On Oct. 21, 2010, God yet again changed my path when he brought my husband into my life. I had resigned myself to a life of singleness. I was content in my relationship with God, He was all I needed. God knew better, He gave me icing on the cake for this life. My husband and I were married less than two years later. I’ve since left Nautica, and run two small businesses while working on my Masters in Strategic Communications. We recently celebrated my 50th birthday with a three week RV trip to Colorado. I don’t know where I will go next, I’m just enjoying the journey. For now I am here until God intervenes and takes me elsewhere.