All summer I have been really busy, and I don’t know why and I don’t see anything that I’ve really accomplished. When I was a kid, summer was spent swimming in the river, making mud/sand castles, and catching lightening bugs. You know, doing important summer things.

This summer, I feel kind of gypped; something must be done. So, therefore, I declare the time from Labor Day to Halloween the Summer of Beth!. During the Summer of Beth! many fabulous non-planned activities will be taking place. I’ll be finishing up the book on Rwanda that I borrowed from Mike along with a few other books, I’ll be hopefully getting to spend some time at Kim’s pool and finally be brave enough to go down the slide, and I’ll spend some time at Sonic slurping a Lemon-Berry slush. The rest of the activities are TBD on a TBA last-minute basis.

Since Houston really doesn’t allow for much of a Fall anyway, I’m just naturally extending summer. Feel free to join me if you’d like, but no plans are really allowed. If we’re tired, we just rest and don’t go out. If we’re bored, we go for a walk or dance around to hip-hop. Somebody get me a freezer pop and some flip-flops because the Summer of Beth! is here!!

I think I must be a magician. Because I can have something in my hand and then when I look for it again, it’s completely disappeared. And it finally reappears in a place that I didn’t even expect. I just have to figure out the magic word so I can control it better. It can be frustrating living with secret magic skills that are so good you even trick yourself.

One of my friends is going through a hard time today. And even though this might very well be one of the worst days of her life, I am very proud of her. Over the last several years, there have been circumstances and choices made in her life, that have pretty much taken her down to the bottom where the rocks hang out. She doesn’t live near me, so it’s been really hard to communicate with her during this time. Sometimes it’s not the easiest thing in the world to pick up the phone or answer a call when you’re not having your best day now.

During my last visit her, I wanted to cry the entire time we talked. Not because I was sad for her, but because I was so happy. I have prayed for her for years to really know Christ—to experience the peace that passes understanding, and to finally be free to be the beautiful, amazingly intelligent and gifted woman God has created her to be.

Her grandmother was a very precious woman who glowed the love of God, and after she died, I felt like I needed to make an extra effort to pray for her, since her grandmother wouldn’t be around to intercede for her. I have to admit, I haven’t always done the best job of being her prayer intercessor. Sometimes I get consumed with my own life, and neglect to lift up her needs. Thank goodness God’s time keeping is different than mine!

On that last visit, my friend shared with me her love of the Lord, her extreme dependence on the Lord, and how she finally felt like the hole inside of her had been filled. Since I’ve known her since I was very small, I’ve seen the good days in her life, and I’ve seen very hard times in her life. Today might be one of those days, but I praise God that she won’t have to turn to any person, substance, or anything, because she has the great comforter soothing all those formerly anxious places.

My eyes were drawn to a sign today on a map that was a large red circle that had the words, “YOU ARE HERE” written inside. It’s kind of comforting to know where you are. Sometimes it would be nice to know where exactly I was going to, “YOU ARE GOING HERE.”

That’s where the trust factor has to come in. No matter how much we plan or study or tinker with life or circumstances, the plan is in God’s hands. Our brains are so itty bitty that what we see as our world, is our world, when there’s so much that we cannot see or even imagine. Our lives can drone on at the same speed and tempo for years, or it can change in the blink of an eye.

When I really think about it, the mystery is far more exciting than always seeing the sign of where I’m going. The uncertainty of life is one of the ways God romances us.

Like taking a leap into your daddy’s arms for him to catch you.
Like diving off the high-dive for the first time.
Like telling someone you love them.

It’s all butterflies, and nervousness at first, and then it’s the milliseconds that are later suspended into slow, replaying memories, and then the finish—the great sigh of relief.

The father’s safe embrace.
The shock of being briefly surrounded by the heavy sound of water to find safety at the oxygen-filled surface.
The unbelievable feeling of knowing you finally got the words out whether they came out right or not.

The best thing about it all is that God’s red circle says, “I AM HERE” everywhere I go. Thanks, God. I need you.

I really wanted to go home right after work yesterday, but I knew that I also wanted to visit with Cody in the hospital. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go visit him, so I went, and I was very glad.

When I first got there, neither his mom nor dad was in the room, so I felt a bit uncomfortable visiting while he was sleeping. I looked at his vitals on the screen which looked good from what I could tell, sat in a chair by his bed, and waited watching the cash cab show where people get money for answering trivia.

Then, he suddenly opened his eyes, so I explained who I was the best I could, and then his dad came in telling me that some people from Kentucky were just on the cash cab show—and lost.

His dad and I talked to Cody, and his dad showed me his new progress of the day. Cody can wink his left eye now. And he yawns. It’s like seeing a baby grow up before your eyes in a teenager body. The small things he does are just as exciting. Because it’s one more step of him becoming the outgoing teenager that he was before surgery.

The rest of the time, Cody lies in his bed not moving or sleeping, and it’s made him pretty weak. He has a feeding tube in his nose, and a trach. He’s starting to have more and more time off the breathing machine, which is good. He is still fighting a bit of infection in his lungs.

His dad was talking about how he felt like they were soldiers through this. They’ve left their home, and now they’re fighting. So I looked at Cody and said, “Cody, you’re a soldier!” And his mouth frowned and he looked up with tears in his eyes. Thank God his dad was there and said, “Aw, come on, Cody!” Because if not, I would have felt really, really bad for making him cry, and I don’t think I would have been able to stop crying myself.

Cody had squeezed my hand super-tight, and he can point, so I asked him if he could make the sign language symbol “b” for my name with his hand, and he did it. Then, I showed him “a”, “b”, “c” for Cody, and “d” for Dad, and “m” for Mom, and he did them all. It was some small form of communication, but touched my heart so much. It’s comforting to know that he hears, and he knows. I prayed with him before I left, and he squeezed my hand super-tight again.

His dad said that Cody’s hope was that his experience would draw someone closer to Christ—that God would work through him in this situation. They’ve already heard from some of Cody’s friends from home that are praying for Cody, and actually praying for the first time in a long time. And let me tell you, this boy who had never spoken a word to me, has touched my heart in huge ways. God bless him. God heal him.

--Note: the pic above is Cody and his girlfriend, Jamey, not me. :) She has red hair, too.

My friend’s mom has a secret recipe she will not disclose (and I’ve begged!) for a special dessert bar that is so delicious, you’ll instantly eat five of them and say you only had three. They’re peanut butter and topped with a layer of chocolate. My friend used these bars to raise money at a bake sale (which was for my dad) and raised about $700-$800. These bars are so delicious.

She had a great idea of passing them out to clients last week, but was having a tough time not eating all of them herself. She had some leftovers and was left with a dilemma.

The story I’m telling today was part of a very recent phone conversation. I’ll warn you, it’s not pretty. Please do not read during your lunch hour. Names will not be disclosed in this story (except for mine). The story has been edited for content:

Friend: “Beth, remember those chocolate and peanut butter special bars I made to hand out to clients last week? Well, on Friday we had some left over, so I filled a Styrofoam cooler with ice, and laid them on top, so they wouldn’t melt. I asked Stacy, my assistant manager, if she thought they’d be okay even though it was so hot, and she said they’d be fine because I had them in GLAD baggies. I guess I should have taken in account that I got those baggies at the dollar store.”

Me: “Wait a minute. Did you use GLAD’s name in vain? You really didn’t have GLAD baggies?”

Friend: “Well, the GLAD had a double D.
I just opened up the cooler, and it looked like the Titanic.”

Me: “Oh my gosh. They died a sailor’s death.”

Friend: “Some of the little baggies must have had a tiny hole, or maybe they weren’t sealed right, but it was horrible. I have never seen anything look closer to diarrhea in my life. It was like bags of diarrhea. And the bags that leaked out had turned the water a strange color. I really want to throw up.”

Me: “Oh dear. Well, maybe now you won’t be as addicted to them. It’s like a curse or something. Wonderful and peanut buttery delicious on Friday, and if they sit and you don’t eat them, they turn into diarrhea.”

Hmmm…maybe this story could be paralleled to manna from heaven.
I keep trying to decide if I would have still eaten the bars or not. They are really good bars.

I just booked a ticket to Vegas--to go to a Vegas wedding. I don't plan on having one of my own while I'm there, but I'm excited. My best friend Amy is supposed to come, too. We're trying to see if we can make it into a reality mini-series.

Oh goodness, I got the yawnies, today.

Hopefully I won’t get the John Tesh’s, too.

Or the Kenny G’s.

I keep having some things rotate through my mind. It’s my mind, so if you don’t understand it, it’s okay:


-“If God Were a DJ…”

-“Lord Have Mercy…”

-John Frieda clear glaze or colored?

-Fuzzy kittens.

-Don’t forget to feed all the cats, the dog, and make sure everyone is awake for school.

-Pray for friend’s travel, families that are hurting, open hearts and minds to Christ, and healing for Cody.

-Thank God I found my one year bible and my shuffle.

-P.F. Chang’s or Pei Wei?

-Fish tacos or chicken fajitas?

-Oh, dear, today is Thursday! And not Friday!

Why do I always circle back to food? :)

Something that made me laugh:

Something that was strange:
I woke up to the song “Stairway to Heaven,” and laid in bed and listened to the whole song.

Something that touched my heart:
A text from my friend, Beth in CA, that said, “Don’t be sad. God’s plan is beautiful.”

Something that surprised me:
I reached my Susan Komen Fundraising Goal with one donation!

Something I might dream about as I feed my friend’s cats this weekend:
Cat Woman Video

Something that I read that made me think:

Our Times are in His Hands
At the end of each year, a calendar is like an album containing little snapshots of what we've done and where we've been. At home, our family has one simple rule, "Write everything down in pencil." One important lesson a calendar teaches us is that plans can change. Doctor's appointments get canceled, dinner dates get rescheduled, and anticipated events don't work out. Thankfully, that doesn't mean that our lives are out of control, that nothing is certain, and that there's nothing we can trust in.
God wants you to move through this day with a quiet heart, an inward assurance that He is in control, a peaceful certainty that your life is in His hands, a deep trust in His plan and purposes, and a thankful disposition toward all that He allows. He wants you to put your faith in Him, not in a timetable. He wants you to wait on Him and wait for Him. In His perfect way He will put everything together... see to every detail... arrange every circumstance... and order every step to bring to pass what He has for you.
Roy Lessin, co-founder of DaySpring

Every week, I get an e-mail from my church greeting me with the phrase: “Hello Runners.” Somehow I signed up for a running group several years ago, and never actually attended any meetings. Usually, when I attempt to run, I always have a random injury or something that happens where I’m not able to finish the task.

Yesterday, I decided to commit to running a 5K on October 6th. Right now, I can probably run a mile. I’ve never been really into running. Sometimes it’s kind of boring, and I’m not into having sweat pour into my eyes. But I know running is a great cardio workout. And it’s been a goal to complete a 5K.

I’m taking it slow and have an entire plan for how I will train. I also have a very good training advisor. I want to finish the race. I want to run the whole time during the race.

I don’t picture myself ever being one of the tight-muscled and tan people who stride through Memorial Park with shirts that say “RUNNING IS MY LIFE,” but it would be cool to be like the guy in Chariots of Fire (true story):

Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Eric Liddell: You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you're dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job. So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.

Okay, so I’m only running a 5K, but this is inspiring stuff!

Please pray for Cody. He's 19 and healing from brain surgery in which he had a tumor removed. This is a link to his Caring Bridge website.

I've been getting to visit with his family. They are such great people, and are doing a tremendous job of loving their son during this time.

I can't wait to get to know Cody as he starts to talk again. I checked out his myspace page over the weekend. His slogan is "Kill It and Grill It." (He likes to hunt.) That makes me laugh.

Watching Cody, makes me remember, that nothing is impossible with God. God can heal Cody. God can work beyond any and every circumstance in our lives, beyond what my little eyes can see or what my little mind may plan.

Sometimes my life has a theme, and it really feels like everyday somehow fits into the chapter title of that theme, or at least flirts with a subject. I try to figure out if God is trying to make me think about something more deeply to see the connection, or if it is just purely coincidental. (I think not.)

A few weeks ago, I kept seeing snails everywhere. They were crawling on my car window as I drove to the Galleria. Or I would see stickers with pictures of snails. This picture of this little snail makes me happy.

Apparently this is a case of "Boy chasing girl."

It’s storming today. A tropical storm that is now depressed decided to visit us here in H-town. Everyone here gets a wee bit nervous at the approaching of a storm. But in a way, it’s kind of like a bonding moment. During these times, Houston storm veterans can tell stories about the big storm in ’83 reminiscing like it was an old battle. Others get proud and scoff at the Houston newbies that get frightened by a few feet of water over the road.

Whatever the case, my own opinion is that I will pack up and leave if there’s a big storm. I might not take my jeep this time—maybe a Segway, bicycle, or a riding lawnmower, which could prove to be faster modes of transportation. But I’ll gather up some granola bars, a little cash (if available), and some t.p. and make like a baby and head out. And if I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll get another press release of my adventure. (scroll down after connecting link for the amazing story)

We got a new cafeteria at work. It’s got shiny new signs and new food bars including the trendy pasta bar. I was excited when I saw Catalina dressing on the salad bar. I love that stuff.

Yesterday, I got my food, and then found myself feeling like it was my first day of high school as I gazed around the room for a table. Every table was filled. I finally found a lonely table in the corner. And sat alone. And ate my food. Alone.

I eat alone quite a lot. I honestly like having time to be alone during lunch at work. Then I can eat really fast, and read the rest of the time. But I know there’s a huge stigma about eating alone. And I felt really weird yesterday eating alone. I didn’t have a book, and the advertising display on the table only contained about 10 words and an uninteresting picture.

Sometimes being alone is something that is really good. It gives you time to listen to something beyond yourself. It is a very calming experience. Othertimes it’s--well, just lonely.

In college, I had a good friend named Ernie who is from Malaysia. The first time he met me, he thought I was very annoying, and honestly, I probably was. I had just gotten back from a summer in NY State, and I was a little bit off kilter. While trying to get away from me, Ernie fell into a hole, and twisted his ankle, but didn’t want me to help him because he just wanted to get away.

Seconds later, I was asked by a campus policeman to drive some guy’s truck who was suspected of drunk driving. Since I had just learned to drive a stick shift, I jumped at the chance to practice. Wow. A day in my life can sometimes be strange.


Afterwards, Ernie and I wound up meeting in circles again, and became great friends. Ernie is one of the most unique individuals you’ll ever meet. He’s got a great personality, so great that he became the king of our campus of over 12,000. Now Ernie is back in Malaysia, and we keep in touch from time to time. He never ceases to amaze me with his business and personal endeavors. He’s an amazing person. I miss Ernie, and hope I can go visit him in Malaysia one day.

His latest project is being part of a TV show called The Firm. It’s Malaysia’s version of The Apprentice. I looked it up on google and this is what I found: click here.

I have another Malaysian friend who is coming to visit this weekend. She’s now a D.C. resident, but her family is still in Malaysia. I can’t wait to ask her if they know about Ernie’s show. I love crossed-connections.

My dad was a cancer patient at MD Anderson about 7 years ago. That’s why I originally moved to Texas. Then, I fell in love with HFBC as they encouraged and loved me, and decided that this needed to be my home. Since that time, my heart has been softened to people hurting because of cancer. I’ve been a volunteer at MD Anderson for years, and have waned from my duties because of other issues in my life overtaking my time. Lately, I’ve been missing my time with cancer patients and their families.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from one of my dad’s old high school friends from Kentucky telling me his wife was diagnosed with leukemia. They came to visit MD Anderson while I was visiting Kentucky, so I missed seeing them. I got an e-mail from them asking me to please visit a patient and his family if I had time. I made time, and I was blessed. This family let me do my favorite thing while ministering to them: we went to Target. The highest price this ministry had on my life was the cost of my merchandise.

Please pray for Cody, 19, who is healing from surgery on a brain tumor. He’s in ICU with fluid in his lungs so he’s sedated in an effort to keep him calm while the machines get the fluid out. His family is still waiting for him to officially wake up.

When I went to pick them up, the family identified me to other people in the lobby by having red hair. Cody’s girlfriend also has red hair, and was glad to see another redhead in Houston. Who knew that God could work through red hair and a red target? God is good. All the time.

-I was just hit in the head by the toilet paper dispenser in the work bathroom stall. It clunked very loudly. The other two ladies in the restroom didn’t know what in the world I was doing in there. Apparently a faulty T.P. installation.

-I carried my bible openly through the med center when I went to lunch. I needed to read it, and didn’t have a purse large enough to conceal it. I felt really strange walking around carrying it and couldn’t figure out if I should hold it cradled to my side church-girl style, or let my arm hang down with a pinch grip on it like a freshman boy carrying an algebra book. It reminded me of the same feeling like when I’ve held a new boyfriend’s hand in public for the first time. You can feel every nerve in your hand tingling, and you feel like everyone is watching. The word is a powerful thing.

-God keeps speaking to me about being humble. I feel like a big life lesson is approaching, so I keep checking my zipper and my nose everyday.

-I miss my days-of-solitude. I used to have one once a month, and I haven’t had one in several months. I gotta carve out some time. On my last one, I went to Austin, and then got stuck on the side of the road with car trouble, but God took care of me, so I can’t let that be my excuse.

-My friend, Emily, has very cute kids and I got to take pics of them while I was home. W.H. has eyes just like her. It’s so bizarre to see a mini-me of your best friend. W.H. was taking swim lessons. He kept wanting me to get a shot of him underwater. A. is her baby girl who is into pointing, and really wanted to swim, too. She just turned two.

Last week, I got to go home to Dundee to say good-bye to our home and the town.

My mom put so much work into our 180+/- year old farmhouse, making it such a great home.
The town originally was called Hines Mill and Mr. Hines lived in our house. Through the years, the town built up around our house, so we were in the center in the exciting town of 100 (now 99 since Mom is leaving).

My mom loves flowers, and somehow became fascinated with lawn d├ęcor. The day I saw flowers growing out of my little red wagon, I thought she had gone too far.

My favorite place in Dundee was down the old creek road. My mom has recently become fond of the old railroad bed.

She and a friend would walk down the road in the middle of the corn fields. My mom drove me down there on Monday to see if we could see the corn maze. It’s the talk of the town. She said I probably couldn’t see it unless I was in a helicopter, so my picture is just of corn.

The maze is supposed to be in the shape of a goat—which is our town’s symbol because it sits on top of our Masonic building. And no, it’s not a Satanic town. We love Jesus there.

I have a strong affection to corn fields. I know it sounds strange, but I really like watching it grow. Thank goodness my experience working in corn ended in the 1980s when my granny moved from her house with a huge garden. The Dundee corn looks really good this year in spite of drought-like conditions.

I’ll miss walking around Dundee, but there were times when I was bit scared of running into a coyote, a copperhead, or a crazy redneck kicking up dust in his pickup and spitting chaw. I won’t miss those times.

This past weekend, I got to spend some time with old camp friends at Camp Hollymont's 25th reunion. There were lots of cute babies and husbands that kind of stood around in the shadows, and it was so great to see everyone there.

I have great memories of camp. It was one of the best experiences of my life. My old campers who came were now graduates of college, and not just middle school--which was really bizarre. They have grown up to be beautiful young women.

I had several girls come up to me and say, "I'll never forget when you wrestled with that blow-up alligator on stage." For some reason, I cannot recall this event, which kind of scares me about what else I'm blocking out of my memory.

Here's my Hollymont Posse:
Whoops! That was my Barbie collection that I cleared out of Mom's house! Here's the Hollymont Ladies: