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Within the Tree’s Glow

Aunt Margie’s tree

Love.

Looking at the glowing Christmas tree cut from glass, I couldn’t help but think of love.  Given to my mother decades ago by her sister, my Aunt Margie, the tinted green glass glistens with glitter.  Slowly, the sparkly pieces flow inside the triangular glass, up and down the foot-high tree, their journey never-ending.  The base, a sphere of white, coated in more glitter, begins the glow.  Red, circular gems highlight the angular cuts of glass forming the tree’s branches.  Sitting beside my favorite tree, its star, broken off years ago.  Each year when I unpack the precious object, I vow to perch the star once again in its appropriate place, but somehow, the days slip by without the project completed.

“Your aunt gave me that.” Mom said.

Instantly, my heart became attached to the inanimate object.  Chosen from my mother’s Christmas decorations at her death, Aunt Margie’s tree holds the most value.  Besides my mom, no one directed my path more than her.

Aunt Margie’s Senior Picture from high school.

Born Margaret Priscilla McNutt on Monday, October 20, 1924, it was Leap Year.  Calvin Coolidge was president. Although her entrance into life happened in Sugar Creek Township, located in Armstrong County, PA, the earthquake occurred in South Carolina.  My aunt entered the world the same day as the Southern Appalachian Earthquake, covering 56,000 square miles from South Carolina to Tennessee.  Learning the earth moved the day my aunt began her life journey seems appropriate.  Aunt Margie moved mountains one hug at a time.

Describing the warmth Aunt Margie generated when she wrapped her arms around me, challenging.  Her smell, a mixture of lotions and cooking spices, pepper her favorite one.  Melting into her generous figure never got old.  When she visited, I always sat close, she would sling her arm over my shoulders, nestling me into her side.  Many life-changing chats occurred when we assumed the position.  Always encouraging and uplifting, I miss the security of her arms most. 

Aunt Margie and my father. Her husband Meade is at the forefront. My little brother Ron is on the bike behind.

“God will never give you more than you can handle.” Aunt Margie said as we walked to the hospital room where my father lay.  She stood beside me as I said goodbye, watching dad take his last breaths.  Battling lung cancer, dad entered heaven surrounded by his family.  As he left our world, Aunt Margie gave me the strength to keep going.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, she knew pain more intimately than I was aware.

“I remember the night my dad told us that he was dying.  Dean and I were picking lima beans to can.  There were three long rows of beans.  My dad came out to us walking with a cane.  He told us to be good for our mother, and it wouldn’t be long before he would leave us.  It was very hard to digest because he had never left us.  He took his stroke on November 25, 1936.”

My mother was barely five years old when she lost her father, my aunt, almost twelve.  When I asked my mom about grandpa, her reply was the same. “He died when I was little.  I didn’t know him.” But my aunt did.

Example of 1936 Ford Model T

“My father drove a car (I think it was a Model T).  Anyway, I would watch for him coming home and would meet him in front of the house.  He would stop and pick me up, and I got to ride down the driveway with him.  He always brought something home in his lunch; I got to eat it.  It was wonderful!”

Aunt Margie’s experience with her father was like mine.  Each night Dad came home from his job as a truck driver repeated itself.  He paid me a quarter to sweep out the cab.  Then we went to my uncle’s store a mile from our house.  I could buy whatever I wanted with my hard-earned money.  Often, candy cigarettes were my choice.  Dad smoked, I imitated him.

My aunt understood me in ways no one else did.

Married to Harry Mead Boltz on June 20,1942 in the small town of Chicora, PA, they had five children.  Nancy Lea died in infancy, a cousin I never met.  In addition, both parents and her siblings, James, Alex (Dean), and Viola, were living in heaven.  On the day she walked me to my father’s deathbed, Aunt Margie understood my pain. What my aunt taught me to do, continue to live.

Housewife, the career listed for Aunt Margie in “Descendants of John McNutt” written by her daughter-in-law, Cinda, doesn’t quite capture the essence of Margaret.  She loved her family, always putting them first.  Walking into her home was one of the safest places on earth for me and so many people whose lives she impacted.  Always greeted with a hug, Aunt Margie’s robust shape enfolded you completely.  No one ever held me the way she did, no matter what my age.  Active in politics and church, she negotiated complex topics with grace.  Loving everyone, no matter which side of the aisle they chose.  Judge of Elections in Sugar Creek Township, Aunt Margie never did tell me how she voted.  But I do know the Lord came first, attending church with her often.

“You never know what will happen.”

Sitting on Aunt Margie’s front porch, I heard the words often from her lips. Life change occurred when I spent a vacation with her.  In my early thirties, life’s struggles were winning the battle. Every night, we sat on her porch and talked.  Her children came and went as we enjoyed our evenings together, just the two of us.  As I poured my heartache out to her, hopeless, she gave me hope.  And Aunt Margie always pointed upward when she did. My mother and she shared a favorite Psalm.  Both women requested the words read at their funerals:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.”

Psalm 121 NIV

“Well, I guess it’s time to go.” Aunt Margie said.

After their spouses moved to heaven, mom and Aunt Margie became closer than ever.  One of the jobs they shared, taking care of two elderly women with dementia.  Every night, one or the other would spend the night with them.  Aunt Margie, living over an hour away, would come to stay with mom and me during her shifts.  Some of our happiest moments together occurred in the hours before 9:00 p.m. when she slept elsewhere.  Florida Rummy and Phase 10 were the card games of choice.  Fans of “The Golden Girls,” the pair nicknamed me Blanche because I loved to talk about sex.  The topic wasn’t a favorite of theirs, which only made me talk about it more.  When I miss them, I think of them around the card table, playing one more hand.

“Ah, you’ll make it.  You find a way.”

I wonder if Aunt Margie ever tired of saying the same things to me.  When we play the next hand of cards in heaven, I’ll ask her.  In the meantime, as I continue my journey on earth, I understand a little bit more of what those eight words meant. 

Defining anxiety is new to me, more importantly, my anxiety and how it manifests.  Anxiety happens because I’m either focused on the possibility of a potential “nightmare” situation in the future or worried a past traumatic event will happen again.  Anxiety robs me of the present.  Aunt Margie’s eight-word statement was her way of bringing me back into the “here and now.” Her confidence in my ability to survive surprised me, but I’m beginning to understand.  When she said those words, I couldn’t imagine life without her.  But she was right, I’ve made it.  I did find a way.

Aunt Margie’s life inspires me.  Only after her death did I begin to understand how difficult her journey on earth was.  Sharing her birthday with an earthquake seems prophetic.  She experienced ground-shaking events time and again in her life.  Yet, she persevered, always finding a way.  From losing her father at an early age to experiencing the loss of a child to caring for the love of her life through Alzheimer’s, she never stopped finding a way.  Mom and Aunt Margie only talked of such things when asked.  Complaining wasn’t something they did.  No, they spent their lives loving the people God gave them, always and forever.

Glow, beautiful, luminous tree, glow.  From your lights shines the light of heaven as Aunt Margie’s spirit lives on in all who knew her.  The box is in mint condition, waiting to nestle my favorite Christmas tree in its midst.  Maybe next year, I’ll find glue to hold the fragile star in place. Underneath the warm hue, I’ll deal another hand of Florida Rummy, remembering the remarkable woman who taught me the most important lesson of all. Love

Pilot Pete

“Don’t think too much, Bethie, Ok.  Just don’t think too much,” Butch’s words from the driver’s seat of his Toyota as he pulled away from our father’s funeral.

Standing by the road, watching him through the car window, my sixteen-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend his message.  How could I not think too much?  Less than an hour ago, I watched my father laid to rest.  My hero was gone, my godlike worship of him destroyed.  The pedestal where I placed dad toppling with each passing minute.

Numbly, I turned and walked back to my uncle’s house where family and friends were feasting on food, telling stories of Ram Rod, a man who seemed larger than life.  But wasn’t.  How desperately I wished I could drive away too.   Instead, I must find a way to live without the one person I worshipped most.

Not only did I lose my father on June 14, 1986, I also lost my faith.  My childlike innocence was gone.  Experiencing pain so profoundly made me doubt my heavenly Father.  Why would a loving God allow His children to experience such heartache?  No thanks, God, I’m better off on my own. Or so I thought.

Over the next eight years, I strove passionately to “not think.” Alcohol became a welcome salve, pot its faithful companion.  Numbness came with the combination of my two favorite things.  After flunking out freshman year at SRU, my mother informed me, “I’m not paying for you to party!”

As if life wasn’t challenging enough, I was determined to make it harder.

Somewhere in my drunken haze, I promised my mother, “I’ll finish school. I’ll get my degree.”  Living up to those words became my life mission.  Working full-time to pay tuition, I managed to flunk out two more times before finally achieving my goal.

But once you accomplish your mission, then what?

“What about becoming a flight attendant?” Caroline, my Sales Director at Fort Magruder Inn, asked me.  Having spent the last two years of my college career working as a front desk clerk, she took me under her wing. “My daughter works for Piedmont Airlines; I can get you contact information.  I really don’t want to see you working in hotels and restaurants the rest of your life. It’s not the life you think it is.  Please, won’t you give it a try?”

And so, when she gave me the Vice-President’s address, I sent him my resume.  Within a week, I was scheduled for an interview.  Realizing I was entering the grown-up world, I knew I needed to give up weed.  Drug testing comes with adulthood.  On my last day of classes at Christopher Newport University, I threw away my one-hitter, determined to begin engaging in life fully cognizant.

“Yes, I think we can get you on this flight,” the ticket agent said when I checked in for my plane. 

“What do you mean, “think?” Piedmont sent me a ticket; doesn’t that mean I already have a seat?” I replied.

Smiling kindly, the ticket agent explained I was “Non-Rev,” short for non-revenue.  In the airline industry in the mid-’90s, you could fly free as long as a seat was open.  If paying customers booked the seat, you were out of luck.  Having never flown before, how was I to know?

Arriving safely in D.C., my anxiety level was high.  With time to kill between my connecting flight, I found myself emptying the contents of my stomach into the public restroom.  Dressed to the nines in a short skirt, jacket, and heels, not the most ladylike position to find oneself.  And then things got worse.

I wore the same dress to the Piedmont interview and my brother Dutch’s Wedding. The picture was taken at Williamsburg Country Club. L-R Ron (younger brother), Mom, Me, Matt (older brother)

“All flights are canceled” rang over the PA system of Reagan National.  Thunderstorms settling in over the city grounded all planes.  Panicked and broke, I called mom.

“Find a hotel. I’ll deposit money in your account to cover the cost. You’re going to be ok.” Easy for mom to say, she wasn’t the one stuck in the current murder capital of the country alone.  But what choice did I have?

How I found myself at the Marriott, I don’t recall.  But I remember the relief of closing the door of my room, locking the deadbolt, falling into bed exhausted.  Alone and scared, I opened the bedside drawer, finding a Gideon Bible.  Pulling the book from its hiding place, I randomly opened its pages, reading words I don’t remember, praying for peace.  Sleep came, although peace was far from me.

US Airways Dash-8 Dehavilland, my most flown aircraft. Traveling in and out of Charlotte, NC, was a regular part of my life.

“My flight was canceled; I can’t make the interview this morning.  Can I come back Monday?”  My words to my contact at Piedmont.

“Interesting,” was the response, “So-and-so made it.  She took the train when the flights were canceled.” Seriously, lady, I barely know how to fly.  How the hell was I supposed to know to take the train? Gratefully, she relented, “Alright, I’ll send you another ticket for Sunday.  You can interview first thing Monday morning.”

Dash-7 Dehavilland, one of the airplanes I flew when I worked for US Airways Express. Also, the type of plane Pilot Pete captained.

Non-revving back home, relief began to flood my senses.  However, my anxiety remained at a high level.  All weekend I was unable to eat, realizing I was at a pivotal moment in life.  A “golden opportunity,” as my brother Dutch described it.  My chance out of the status quo into something more vital and larger than me.

When the ticket didn’t arrive for Sunday, mom yet again saved the day.  Wiser, she gave me her Discover card to use.  Purchasing a ticket, I arrived safely to my destination, now having flown four times.  I was becoming a pro.

Arriving for my 9:00 appointment, I surprised the recruiter.  She knew she hadn’t sent the ticket; impressed by my tenacity, she pulled out my file and put me back in the line-up. 

“Ms. Minick, this way for your drug test.” What?  I never thought I would get drug tested.  Great, after all this, how would I explain to my family that I didn’t get the job because I couldn’t pass the drug test?  Wonderful!

God was with me, even though I wasn’t with Him.  My weekend of anxiety, not eating, and fasting cleaned out my body.  I had no worries, but I didn’t know that at the time.   This turn of events caused me to relax for the day-long worth of interviews, making a good impression on the interviewers, landing me the job.

No longer able to use drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of my father’s loss, I began to face reality.  Feelings began to surface I had long ago suppressed.  Watching as friends married, their fathers walking them down the aisle angered me.

“I’m not getting married; I don’t have anyone to walk me down the aisle.  Besides, who needs it?  They leave you anyways.”  Words to a fellow Flight Attendant in the middle of an aircraft swap.  Often, during trips, we switched planes with other crews.  On this day, I handed my craft over to a bride-to-be, gushing about her upcoming nuptials. 

Pain isolates, as does grief.  No one can understand the hole created in your life but you.  While everyone carried on living, I was struggling to make it through my days.  Dad died.  God abandoned me.  No one understood.  I was all alone.

But then Pete.

A man of God, Pilot Pete had a reputation in the industry.  While other men were cheating on their wives, Pete was sharing God’s love with all he met.  Quiet, Pete never imposed his beliefs on others.  Instead, he did the best he could to accept others as they were.  Grace and kindness were his calling cards, not once seeing him angered.  I hated flying with Pete.  But as a rookie Flight Attendant, I had no choice.

Landing in Philadelphia late one night, the crew made its way to baggage claim for hotel pick-up.  Me in front, Pete, and the First Officer behind me as we made our way down the escalator.  Standing beside the tall panes of glass, looking into the dark night for our limo, Pete asked me a simple question.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m mad at my family.” Was my brusque reply.

“Why?” Pete asked.

“My dad died,” I replied gruffly.  Why of all things, I said these words I do not know.  Pete represented God to me, and I wasn’t a fan.

Ever so quietly, Pete replied, “So did mine, when I was seven.”

In an instant, life changed.  This man of God knew my pain.  And, from my perspective, his was even worse.  At least I had my dad until I was 16; he barely knew his.  But he still loved God?  How?

“God never promised us a rose garden.” Pete said, “He promised us life everlasting, free from condemnation through the death of His Son. God knows your pain.  He has never left you; He is always with you.  God wants you to turn back to Him and let Him be your comforter.”

“But how?”

“One day at a time.  You don’t have to solve the world’s problems or change who you are.  God loves you, just as you are.  Let Him.”

Our ride to the hotel was silent.  Lost in thought, Pete gave me something to think about that night.  When we reached the hotel, tucked in my room, I opened the nightstand drawer.  Just like the night in D.C., a Gideon Bible was nestled in its midst.  Opening its pages, I began to read.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 NIV)

Life didn’t change overnight, but one day at a time, I found my way back to God.  What I realized, even though I turned my back on God, he never turned His back on me.  In my pain, I found someone who understood it.  Because of Pete, I found my way back to God and His promises.

Eight years, many tears and self-destructive days later, I found comfort in the arms of my Father. 

What We Learned from Kirk

Kirk taught us to spread the positive. Here’s the backstory:

First, we weren’t even supposed to be in Hilton Head. We were supposed to be in Asheville, NC. We booked the trip before COVID. Ron took the trailer for its annual inspection. The brakes didn’t pass. In fact, the inspector said they were paper thin. He said we could take it anywhere if it was flat, but definitely not in the mountains. Asheville is in the mountains. We didn’t want to go anywhere flat either, not until the brakes are fixed.

We found this fact out Thursday around noon. Things weren’t looking good for a weekend getaway, so desperately needed. Determination pays off. We found one of the last rooms in Hilton Head that took pets, Red Roof Inn. Great place if you have dogs and want to travel. No frills, and I mean no frills. But has the necessities and is cheap for Hilton Head. One and a half miles to Palmetto Dunes, can ride your bike everywhere from there. Here’s a clip from our Friday night ride:

Our first protest, live music and a little prayer at the end.

Secondly, in none of our conversations did we consider spending Saturday afternoon at the hotel pool. We played Pickleball in the morning, didn’t really have a plan for the afternoon. Possible tennis, possible golf, possible nothing. Ron wanted to take a shower, I wanted to work. Being a Minick, work is how you get through life’s heartaches. Our weekend get-a-way had a lot to do with how hard the anniversary of Cody’s death is for me. Trust me, it doesn’t get easier. So I headed to the pool around noon with laptop, phone and water, to work.

You know what happened?

When I got to the pool, I decided to dip my feet in the water before getting to work. That’s when our new friends, Kirk and Edith asked me if I wanted a beer. I said I’m more wine than beer. Edith said, “I have wine.”

I took that as a sign I was to take the day off.

Kirk’s mother passed away 6 weeks ago, nine days before her 101st birthday. She went to sleep Friday night, didn’t wake up Saturday morning. Cause of death was listed as COVID, although she had no symptoms, and was not ill. In Kirk’s words, “She was done. She lived her life, and it was time to go.”

He has two siblings, a brother and sister. They thought about hiring a lawyer to have “COVID” removed from the death certificate. The cost is $3000-$5000. They didn’t pursue the issue. Why? The statistic is already recorded, what difference would it make at this point.

Edith was napping.

Tee wandered in at some point. Kirk was quick to introduce himself. Another friend made. She was a young COVID tester, getting away for the night. She has an artists heart and a sweet smile.

Miss T

Ron joined us after about an hour. He was leery at first. I could tell from his body language he didn’t trust what was happening. I’m not sure how long it took Kirk to get him to start relaxing. Kirk is a beer and wine salesman. He knows how to make people relax. And I know the moment he broke down Ron’s defenses.

I was mid-story when Kirk interrupts me and says this to us:

“You know, 98% of the time when someone says something good about someone they don’t know it. The reason being because they say it to someone else. I make it a point of telling people when someone says something nice about them.

“Son, this here girl loves you. The way she talks about you when you’re not around makes that very clear. I just wanted you to know that.”

Kirk is right. Can you imagine how much better the world could be if we told people the nice things other people said about them? Ron and I have talked about this moment ever since. It’s impacted both of our lives. The more you think of the possibilities, the more exciting the thought becomes.

We are so quick to tell the negative. We need to be quicker and more intentional to tell the positive.

That’s what we learned from Kirk.

Labor Day HHI 2020

By the way, Kirk and Edith are from Boone, NC, right outside of Asheville. All four of us booked the room the day before. None of us planned the trip to HHI in advance. If we went to Asheville we wouldn’t have met.

In Kirk’s words, “Sometimes the Higher Power brings us together for a special purpose.”

I believe He does Kirk. I believe He does:-)!

News From Home

Dr. Keith Buck

Dr. Buck, the man who delivered me from my mother’s womb has passed. I learned of the news from my brother:

“The first person who ever saw you on this Earth died.” Matt Minick

He delivered 9,163 babies in his lifetime. My brothers and I are three of them. Cause of death is not stated. He will be missed.

In other news, 18 states partially re-opened last week. Virginia is not one of them. COVID continues.

We love “The Morning Show”

We received a free year of Apple TV when Ron transitioned to the Iphone SE. As a result we discovered “The Morning Show.” We were immediately hooked, already we’ve watched three episodes.

Adjustments were made to my puzzle area. The towel on the table made it impossible to put the pieces together. An investment in a folding table has helped immensely. Progress has occurred. Ron misses the coffee table, but is willing to adjust.

Since the semester ended, I’m focusing on improving my writing. Currently, understanding passive voice and applying it to my writing is top priority. My friend Johnny is helping Ron and I with this task. I’ve found a website to help further my mission. I’m beginning to understand, but the light isn’t completely on at the moment.

Passive Voice Detector

Dahlia’s continue to bring a smile to my face. My northern friends remind me how blessed it is to live in the south. I’m grateful I can work outside, as I’m doing now. Sunshine on my face makes social isolation bearable for me.

Another week is here. We’re grateful for our health and God’s provision in our lives. We pray for our nation daily. We’re trusting God to lead in all things.

Oops! I Accidentally Ordered a Phone

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

A few days ago I dropped my phone in the toilet. Gratefully, the phone still works. The decision was made to wait until the device quits working before ordering a replacement. While exploring new options for the phones replacement, I “accidentally” hit the “Confirm Purchase” button.

I immediately told my husband of my dire mistake. His response, “You’re a smart girl, I find it hard to believe you “accidentally” purchased a phone.”

Well, O.K., maybe it wasn’t an accident. I’m not admitting to anything. Yes, my husband spoils me. Yes, I’m grateful for the life God has given us together. And I’m thankful my new phone is arriving by May 15th:-).

Good Witch

I discovered a new show, “Good Witch.” Light, funny and easy to follow. The show pairs well with my efforts to complete a puzzle. So far during the pandemic, I’ve started two craft projects: chalk painting and crocheting. Both are back in the closet where they prefer to live a quiet, uninterrupted life. The puzzle lives in front of the T.V., waiting for me to work on it.

Be Still My Beating Heart

My favorite photo from May 1, 2020 is the one to the left. Sophia, our little princess Rat Terrier, is precious. Her and Rocco, a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix are photogenic. Taking photos of them is a pastime for me. Look at that face! She gets me every time:-).

Anti-climatic Ending

For the past 16 weeks I worked my butt off taking three Master level courses. Each class had a major project that spanned the semester. The weekly work load was overwhelming at times. On Saturday’s, sometime Sunday’s, I would breathe a sigh of relief when I crossed the final task of the week from the list. When COVID became a reality and social isolation a mandate, I was grateful for the extra time to study.

Spring 2020 Classes

Painstakingly, for the past two weeks, I’ve been diligent in my prayers. “Lord, help me finish well.” Yesterday, when I pushed “Save and Submit” on my final test, I held my breath. Finally, I was done. With the exception of responding to a couple of discussion boards, I have completed the most difficult semester of my Masters journey thus far. I earned an 80 on the test, giving me a final grade of 91.5. A low “A” is the reward for my work in all of my classes. Anti-climatic is the only way to describe the feeling.

And that is that! Now what?

I have books waiting in my kindle library to read. C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce” is at the top of my list. Yet yesterday afternoon, in the anti-climatic moment after finishing my final, the book was of no interest to me. Maybe I will start it today?

Or perhaps I will spend time with my girls, Grace and Frankie. Jane Fonda is 82 years old. She is more active and in better shape than I am. As my mother used to say, “I should feel ashamed of myself.” I do Mom:-). However, I never professed that I’m an aerobic guru like Jane. But I do admire her. And now I’ve learned she’s a blogger. A blog I may find myself visiting in my spare time.

Grace and Frankie are fun!

Gratefully, the weather is consistently warmer. The rain, hopefully will start to lessen. Perhaps now is the time to begin an new exercise regime? I could organize a step challenge, or possibly a Zoom book club. Or perhaps I will do nothing. That option is always available as well.

Blessed are the Flexible, For They Will Not Be Bent Out of Shape

Who knew taking a shower would be newsworthy?

Being flexible is not one of my strengths. Having been raised as a princess by my father, I want what I want, when I want it. I’m not someone who likes to be interrupted. My friend Pete posted the blog’s headline on his Facebook page yesterday. I believe it was my favorite post of the day.

Pete’s post gave me something to work on yesterday. I had the opportunity to be flexible just a couple hours later. Ron called to discuss a business situation. I wasn’t pleased because it wasn’t exactly how I wanted to handle the situation. But I thought of Pete’s post and made the decision to be flexible, and thus not get bent out of shape.

I took a shower and thought of Mom. Taking a shower is not a necessity during the pandemic. I’ve had more conversations with people, who like me, are taking less showers than they used too.

Something that may never happen again: toilet paper costs more than a gallon of gasoline.

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Ron worked. I Zoomed with two of my dearest friends over morning coffee. I studied for my final. I took a bike ride. Gratefully, I still have some work I get to do. And then I started a puzzle, lent to me by my friend Penney.

My Tuesday evenings have been filled with my “Paul Prayers.” A group of women who mean the world to me: Lori, Karen, Susan, Melissa, Heather, Wendy, and Crystal. I would never in a million years have thought I would be able to bring them all together.

I thank God for Zoom in the midst of this pandemic. Zoom allows me to spend my Tuesday evenings with women who don’t live in the same state, are from different parts of my life, and otherwise would never have met. I would not have thought of doing this if it wasn’t for social isolation. Our hourly meetings have become a highlight of my week. Who would have ever thought?

I finished watching Unbelievable. The story is truly Unbelievable:

Ron and I ended our evening with an adult beverage in the hot tub. Ron bought the hot tub for me because I couldn’t walk. I was in so much pain with my Achilles, he couldn’t stand it. We went on vacation a couple of years ago at Hilton Head Island when the pain was at its worst. I was doing an intensive tennis coach’s training week. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it. I had braces, wraps and numbing lotions to help me with the pain. The house we rented had a hot tub. Every day after training, I came home and got in the hot tub. I would massage my Achilles on the jet until the pain went away. By the end of the week, I was walking better than I had been in months. We came home from vacation, four days later, Ron bought the hot tub. We now consider it one of the best purchases we have ever made. Our old, aching bones are healed in its waters.

Unbelievable

“Here I am, send me!”

Those words captured my attention. A female detective is driving a rape victim to the hospital for testing after being victimized. The young college student sees those words taped to the dashboard of the SUV and asks what they mean. The detective tells her it comes from Isaiah. God asks who is willing to go and do what He wants done. Isaiah responds loudly, “Here I am, send me!” He didn’t even know what the job was, but he was willing to do whatever God wanted.

This dialogue created a powerful moment between these two women. Unknowingly, the detective had been vulnerable with this young girl who desperately needed someone to be vulnerable with her. She had just been violated in unspeakable ways. She was far from home, no family near. She was scared, isolated, alone. A long forgotten verse, scribbled on a post-it note, taped to a dash, created a moment of vulnerability the young girl needed.

Unbelievable is a limited six episode series on Netflix based on true events. A young at risk girl is raped and no one believes her. Fifteen years later, the rapist hasn’t stopped, he’s just moved around the country. The series tells the story. I’m on episode four, will probably finish it today.

Men will never know what it is like to be female, no matter how hard they try. Women have a vulnerability that men don’t have. We aren’t as strong as them physically. We can’t protect ourselves like they can. I’m not saying women are less than, they are not. I’m just saying, physically, men are stronger than women. I know there are exceptions to every rule. But if a man and woman are in a physical battle, the man is going to win that fight most of the time.

Unbelievable illustrates that point very well. The show is not easy to watch. This rapist had no “type,” one of his victims was a 72 year old woman. But it happened, to people whose lives were changed because of it. We can’t hide from the ugliness of this world if we’re going to love the people in it.

If you’re not in the mood for a heavy, thought provoking series, don’t watch this.

4 YEARS IN A ROW FOR MORRISONS

“Yes!” Jumping for joy, B. Morrison couldn’t believe her eyes as her husband’s ball rolled neatly into the cup. Reigning champions Ron and Beth Morrison defended their title successfully on Thanksgiving day, 2019, at Deer Run’s Champion course. The round was determined by one putt on the 18th hole.

With a 7:30 a.m. tee time, the weather was in the low 50’s and sunshine. Matt Minick, the first champion of the Minick Cup, set the rules.

“No strokes given, playing straight up. Have to put it in; if it’s on the edge, have to tap it in. If it lands in the fairway and can’t be found because of the leaves, no penalty. If it’s not on the fairway, have to take a penalty.”

Flipping the tee to determine lineup, R. Morrison was first to tee off; two drives allowed off the first tee, he only needed one. Minick teed off next. Bill Brantley, a founding player of the Cup, teed off last for the men. B. Morrison put one down the golf cart path for her first shot. Minick’s shot ended up in the leaves off the fairway, a man of his word; he took a penalty when he couldn’t find it.

Minick was on fire the first nine holes, birdieing the fourth hole with a long putt. The Morrisons couldn’t get their act together, finding themselves down five strokes at the end of the front nine.

The tide began to turn when Minick came to hole 11. “This hole gets me every time,” he said before teeing off.

“I’m playing it up the left.” B. Morrison said to her husband.

Unfortunately, teeing off into the woods, she landed beside Brantley’s yellow ball. Doglegging right around water, Minick and R. Morrison started off well, with their tee shot landing in the fairway. Minick’s second shot splashed in the water, R Morrison’s left, landing in the bunker. R. Morrison bogeyed the hole, Minick losing a stroke.

With each hole, the suspense grew. At the start of 16, Minick and Morrisons were even. Minick said, “Not for long.” And he was right, picking up a stroke when he bogeyed the hole. R. Morrison saved the Morrisons from losing more strokes with his double bogey. With the pressure on the Morrisons, the foursome headed to the seventeenth hole, where B. Morrison won it with a bogey.

Stepping onto the 18th tee box, Brantley wasn’t in the competition; Minick and Morrisons tied. No one spoke, as one by one, each player teed off. The three contenders’ tee shots landed in a row, each laying approximately 100 yards off the par-five green. B. Morrison chucked her second shot, choking under pressure, taking herself out of the competition.

R. Morrison landed 9 feet from the hole; Minick landed 11 feet back. Both had the same line on the putt. Minick, going first, missed the cup by mere feet. A hush fell as R. Morrison prepared for his shot, all the pressure on him. If he made it, the Morrisons would get to keep the Minick Cup for another year.

“Come on, Honey! You got this!”

“They’re going to start dropping in,” R. Morrison repeatedly said throughout the round. All day, his putts fell short. Pensive and uncertain, B. Morrison held her breath, praying silently.

R. Morrison’s words proved prophetic! Under intense pressure, his final put did indeed “drop-in.” By one stroke, R. Morrison won the Minick Cup.

Until next year, when the story continues.

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.