Our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary

The sterling silver cross necklace gift Ray gave me for our 25th "silver" wedding anniversary
The sterling silver cross necklace gift Ray gave me for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary

This week, April 11, 2017, Ray and I had our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary. It seems like just two years, and then it also seems like it’s been forever. It has sure been HELL.

But as I pointed out in my Facebook comment, never a dull moment!

Despite our LOUD, INTENSE arguments for 25 years (yes, the WHOLE marriage; we had one tonight!), we’ve been married longer than many of our family members and friends, watching in grief as they divorced…while we have determined to fulfill our covenant with God and each other. It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve had to look to the Cross for help.

Jesus on the cross
Jesus on the cross

We’ve survived unfaithfulness to each other (both of us), bankruptcy, foreclosure of our home, stepfamily conflicts, financial crisis after crisis, multiple moves to new homes/cities, health issues, ministry failures, and much more. 

What is our greatest strength, though? We’ve never quit. Like runners in a sprint or a marathon, you keep moving forward, no matter how tired you are.

sprinters

We’ve never thrown in the towel, although we have both wanted to  many times through the years.

Ray has actually been to divorce attorneys three times because he was so fed up with our marriage! (And I’ve thought about going to one many times!)

Ray & me Holding our "faith" stone, as we wait for final approval of the VA loan for the home we're buying this year
Ray & me
Holding our “faith” stone, as we wait for final approval of the VA loan for the home we’re buying this year

By God’s grace, we’re still together, hopefully until death do us part.

  • Ray can still make me laugh more than anyone else;
  • Every time he prays over me and holds my hand, saying, “It’s going to be okay,” I know it is going to be;
  • He still turns me on;
  • He still cooks the best Cajun grilled chicken I’ve ever tasted;
  • He still loves me–which is quite a feat, considering how I am!

25 years and still going…please pray for us. 

Here’s what we did for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary. It was a fun date!

Ray bought me a very funny card. It features a married male and female dog couple and says “It’s our anniversary.” The card seemed hand-picked by God, and made me laugh because it was so much like us.

anniversary card
anniversary card

For example, it showed the couple wanting to watch a movie together. The husband dog asked, “How about science fiction?” and the wife dog asked, “How about a love story?” Ray is a sci-fi fan, and of course I love chick flicks! 

Another hilarious thing about the card was that it read, “We still like to write each other little notes…although the subject matter isn’t always love.” It showed a cartoon of the wife posting sticky notes to her husband on a cork board with notes like, “Call the dentist,” “Grocery List,” and “Toilet keeps running.” The husband dog has stooped shoulders, and is looking at the sticky notes with an exasperated , tired expression. (Ray feels this way about my sticky notes!)

Ray said the card “nailed the notes.” (I’m addicted to sticky notes and often leave Ray little notes around the house for his “honey-do’s.”)

sticky note
sticky note

On the card, they were at a drive-through restaurant, with the husband getting the wife some food. He is asking her, “No fries, honey?” and she is saying, “No, just a cheeseburger.” Ironically, a couple of nights before Ray gave me the card, I’d asked him to go get me a Sonic cheeseburger. The card amused us both. 

Ray also gave me a beautiful, sterling silver cross necklace as my gift. Silver for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary, and a cross as he said it is the foundation of our marriage. Amen! Ray did so good on my card and gift!

necklace
sterling silver cross necklace gift

For part of his present, I bought Ray a straight razor soap cup, that he had been requesting to go with his straight razor I’d bought him.  You put soap in the cup, and whip it to make a  good lather, then apply the soap to the face before shaving. When Ray was a little boy, he used to watch his granddaddy Hutchins shave at the bathroom mirror with a straight razor.

Recently Ray said he wanted a straight razor, from the good memories of his granddad, plus straight razors are supposed to give men a better shave. I didn’t really “get” it, but it’s a guy thing, so I bought him the straight razor, the black strop to sharpen the razor, and the soap cup.

I also have something special to give him for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary party, which I will blog about soon!

straight razor and brush
straight razor and brush
soap cup
soap cup

For our “silver” wedding anniversary, I bought pretty silver heels for our anniversary date. Love them!

my silver shoes
my silver shoes

Ray wore a silver shirt with a silver pattern tie, black slacks, and his cowboy boots for our anniversary date. Looking good!

Ray in his silver shirt & tie for our "silver" wedding anniversary
Ray in his silver shirt & tie for our “silver” wedding anniversary

Here I am in my black dress, black wrap, the silver shoes, and wearing the sterling silver cross necklace Ray gave me.

me in black dress, black wrap, silver shoes & silver cross necklace for our "silver" anniversary
me in black dress, black wrap, silver shoes & silver cross necklace for our “silver” anniversary

For our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary date, we ate lamb gyro sandwiches with tzatziki sauce (made with cucumber), pita bread with hummus, and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves with rice and beef). Ray also had a Greek salad. It was DELICIOUS!

lamb gyros
lamb gyros
pita bread & hummus
pita bread & hummus
dolmades
dolmades

After our date, we came home and prayed together for our marriage, our children, and our grandchildren, asking God to bless us and our family and for us to walk in obedience to Jesus, and that the latter days would be greater than the former. (Haggai 2:9) It was a great 25th wedding anniversary!

*******

This book In PRINT at: https://www.createspace.com/6099550
This book In PRINT at: https://www.createspace.com/6099550

If  you are hurting in your marriage and you’d like to read about the 25 difficult years of Ray’s and my marriage, but how with God nothing is impossible,click here.

 

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Your Memorial Day

Memorial Day Vets thank you. Image source: Pinterest
Image source: Pinterest

Today is Memorial Day, the day we commemorate veterans and all those serving in the US military.

Thank you to my husband Ray Jones who served 14 years in the U.S. Navy, his father Charles Jones, his stepdad Leonard Smyth, and all those who have made sacrifices for our nation.

You are truly our nation’s heroes.

my husband Ray Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy over 14 years as a combat medic
my husband Ray Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy over 14 years as a combat medic

Today has me thinking: what is your (and my) Memorial Day going to look like?

  • What legacy will you leave when you die?
  • What sacrifices have you made for God and others?
  • What will others remember about you?
  • What impact are you leaving?
  • What are you bringing to the world–your gifts, talents, skills, difference in others’ lives, and contribution to leave this world a better place?

This past week there was a terrible tragedy in our small community. Twelve year old Kalee Chandler was tragically and suddenly killed at the end of a barrel racing run, when her horse Sarrley had a heart attack, slammed into the fence, rolled on top of Kalee, pinning her underneath him. 

“If we were dilly-dallying, she’d sure tell you, ‘Focus and get back on task.’”–Morgan Bradley, friend of Kalee Chandler

When I went to church on Sunday, Pastor Jeff’s sermon, drawn in part by Kalee’s death, was simply entitled, “Why?” Why do bad things like this happen?

His answer: he doesn’t know. No one does. What we do know is that we can make a difference in others’ lives and that Kalee’s life and death definitely left an impact on this rural community.

At the candlelight vigil for her at the Butler, MO fair grounds, there were hundreds–with estimates to over 1,000-people who came, according to the Kansas City Star.

Kalee Chandler
Kalee Chandler

Three quotes about Kalee in the paper stood out to me:

“She was given that gift from God to ride, And she’d go so fast and furious. She wasn’t there to take second.”–Tracy Murray, who took on Kalee as a barrel racing student when she was 7.

She was small but mighty. Always a smile on her face and not afraid of anything.”–Tracey Rapp, who went through school in Butler with Kalee’s parents and had known her since she was a baby.

“…she was a true cowgirl. I mean, she didn’t sit around the house and play video games. … She was a goer.”– auctioneer Jim Hertzog

woman stretching arms

I believe we’re all given gifts by God—spiritual gifts and natural talents, like Kalee’s on a horse.

I believe that as believers, we’re to have a smile on our faces–showing the world that even in the face of trials and hard times, the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) He wants us to love Him, love others, and love our lives and what we do every day.

I also believe that we’re to be “goers,” making disciples of all nations as Jesus commanded us (Matthew 28:19)–fulfilling our purpose from God, doing what He’s called us to do.

To live fully, no holding back, no excuses, no fears. 

To leave a godly legacy for God and others, to make an impact on others in the limited time we have here.

What will others say about you on your own Memorial Day–your funeral? 

Rest in peace, veterans and Kalee. 

 

 

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Leaving a Godly legacy for your children

Leaving a Godly legacy for your children
Home in Valdosta, GA
Home in Valdosta, GA

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home in deep south Georgia. A religious one, yes, where we went faithfully to the Methodist church with the red bricks and tall, white columns every Sunday morning. My father served as an usher, too. But I was never taught by my parents or my grandparents about a relationship with Jesus Christ. I first heard about Jesus from my Sunday School teacher, Fred DeLoach. Yes, I remember his name and his face. 🙂

I remember how shocked I was the day he told me in class that I could be assured of going to heaven by having faith in Jesus. I’d never heard of this before from anyone. Mr. DeLoach’s face was radiant with light and joy when he told me this, and I knew that he believed what he was saying. His strong, peaceful faith in something and Someone so certain made me hungry and curious.

That tiny seed planted into my heart grew and I joined a weekly, early morning Bible study to learn more about God. One woman began crying one morning, saying how impressed and touched she was that I, just a preteen, was there.

Spiritual warfare

I began praying early in the morning at home, too. The enemy would whisper  lies in my ear; suddenly, these thoughts intruded my mind as I read the Bible and prayed: Jesus  wasn’t historically real and isn’t the Son of God; his life is just a story in a book. At that tender age, I didn’t realize that I was being assaulted, in my search for God, with spiritual warfare.

In the Methodist Church I was “sprinkled” when I was around 12 years old, although I didn’t really understand what it was all about. I remember when the pastor came to visit me at our house prior to my “baptism” at the church, and he asked if I had a Bible.

Bible
Bible

Is your Bible collecting dust?

I turned to my mother and asked, “Do we have a Bible?” Mama’s face turned red, she exclaimed, “Of course, we do, Beth!” (with her thick southern drawl, she pronounced my name “Be-yeth!”), and she hastily got out an oversized, dusty Bible inside a dining room buffet drawer that I had never seen before.

The pastor, to his credit, didn’t say anything. Mama was embarrassed. Yet mama was the one who made sure all of her kids were up and ready for church each week and were baptized before her death (I was 18 when she died).

After my baptism, my mom requested a Christmas gift from my dad, one that was controversial because of its modern translation, The New Living Translation Bible, which I did see mama read sometimes. I remember opening it and reading the first few chapters of Genesis, and being shocked that Genesis 4:1 said, “Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant.” WHAT? Sex was in the Bible?! 🙂 At that time, I didn’t understand that sex between a married man and woman was God’s idea in the first place.

I have a vague memory of the pastor talking to me about baptism. Even after he shared some scriptures with me, I didn’t understand what it really meant, only that apparently baptism was a serious thing. All I knew is that people went forward to the altar to have water poured on their heads, and it was special and I wanted whatever it was!

Several Sundays later, in a pretty, crisp, new dress and shiny patent shoes, kneeling on the maroon-red, velvet altar cushion with other congregants, I bowed my head reverently when it was my turn and the pastor in the long black robe approached me.

My heart was pounding so hard with excitement and fear. The only thing that stands out in that memory is that I felt the cold water on my hair and then drop on  my bare, white leg. The ceremony seemed unremarkable to my parents. They never really talked about it with me.

baptism photo: baptism Baptism.jpgTo be really baptized, you have to go under water!

(I don’t believe this, but some churches have this doctrine – or they say you have to be baptized only “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth. I believe God sees the heart!”)

Years later, after I married my first husband Steve, I was baptized in the Baptist church at his encouragement. This is where he and his entire family had been baptized and he said I needed to be “really baptized.” This time was even more special. I was “immersed” under water. His pastor talked to me about salvation before the big event.

The seal of the Holy Spirit

For some reason, I was baptized alone with the pastor, Steve, my family and his, and a few others present at the night service. Maybe they didn’t have a line of people that week. I was shaking with excitement and the cold of the pool water.

When I came up out of the water, I truly felt different. I sensed the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit inside of me and all around me. I had been sealed with Him. But I had no one to teach me who He was; Steve was still very young in faith.

Now I know these things:

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

“The truth is the Good News. When you heard the truth, you put your trust in Christ. Then God marked you by giving you His Holy Spirit as a promise. The Holy Spirit was given to us as a promise that we will receive everything God has for us. God’s Spirit will be with us until God finishes His work of making us complete. God does this to show His shining-greatness.” ~ Ephesians 1:13-14, NLV

I believe that I was saved at this time at 18 years old, receiving Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. But it was not until years later, when I hit rock bottom in my 30’s, that I allowed Him to remove self from the throne of my heart for Jesus to reign there instead. I let Jesus take the wheel.

church photo: church blank RHBC_Church_zps3f8198fb.pngChurch hopping

My spiritual journey is long and complicated. I have been in and “tried on,” like so many beautiful, but not-my-size-or-style clothes at Kohl’s or Target’s, almost every kind of church there is…always searching for authentic love and the meaning and purpose of life.

This soul-searching included converting to Roman Catholicism in my early 20’s and raising my daughter Heather Roman Catholic. Although she intently disliked parochial school (the teachers were strict, the nun principle was a holy terror, and Heather was ostracized by other students for “living on the wrong side of town” as the daughter of a single, struggling, poor mother), it was important to me to raise my child and have her education faith-centered.

For me, the Catholic Church was a a safe haven, a place where I sought Jesus again after living rebelliously against God for years. While I’m not a “practicing” Catholic now, it always uplifts my heart to go into a Catholic Church, genuflect, and pray, as well as to attend mass and take the Eucharist, the living bread of Christ.

There is something so comforting that brings peace to my heart to say in unison with the congregants, “Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

woman praying
Woman praying

I believe that Catholics understand the holiness and reverence of God more than other Christians. Nondenominational churches, charismatics and Pentecostals understand the filling and the power of the Holy Spirit, but too often they view God as their “buddy.” God is not your bud; HE IS A HOLY, RIGHTEOUS GOD AND KING!

I believe each stream of the Christian faith has something beautiful, powerful and truthful. Baptists are people of the Word of God. Methodists are incredible missionaries and evangelists.

Charismatics and Pentecostals understand the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and didn’t die out with Jesus and the disciples.

The Catholics and the Lutherans understand the reverence of God and that ritual often has rich symbolism and meaning.

We are all one Body and there is one Head, Christ.

But we don’t find salvation or God in a church building (although God’s people have His love inside them). We find unconditional, agape love in the person of Jesus Christ. Eventually, when I found myself in the mire of my own sin hitting rock bottom in my early 30’s, I came face to face with Christ – my realization of how sinful my heart was and of my great need for salvation, healing, and deliverance.

I will share more about this in my upcoming book: Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love Through Abuse, Abortion, and Adultery.

(Stay tuned about the news and if you’re not on my personal mailing list, sign up with your name and email address at the top of the page on the right hand side. You’ll be first to hear about its release!)

My precious sis Maria
My precious sis Maria

God broke me. I repented and rededicated my life to Christ.

Since then, my relationship with Jesus has grown more intimate each day. I was the first person saved in my family of origin. I prayed for years for my sister Maria’s salvation, weeping over her after I would talk to her on the phone long distance, when she was stoned out of her mind on drugs and alcohol. I was so afraid she would die – and then go to hell.

Today she is a wonderful, loving, God-fearing woman – the mother of 3 precious, beautiful children, in the last semester of college pursuing her master’s degree in psychology. She has a heart filled with love and mercy, and she inspires me!

The limitless, lavish love of God

I’ve screwed up a lot throughout my life. Broken every one of the 10 commandments. Have many regrets and wish I could have a “do-over” from God for so many things. I used to party, slept around, had 3 abortions. But I thank God for His mercy and grace on my life!!!

I’ve tasted the riches of His limitless and lavish love, love and forgiveness I certainly haven’t deserved. I should have died and been burning in hell a long time ago! (And yes, hell is very real – but God doesn’t want you to go there!)

Oh dear friend, God is so good! He loves you so deeply and He will forgive you of any sin if you just come to Him and ask Him! ANY sin!

Jesus at well with woman
Jesus at well with woman

It’s not about church. It’s not about do’s and don’t’s. It’s about a relationship with Jesus. A divine exchange that blows your mind – His sinless, rich, abundant life for your life stricken with the poverty of sin. Your sins for His forgiveness and pardon.

Not religion. But knowing God.

Do you know Him? Have you asked God to forgive you and received Christ as your savior? If not, you can pray right now!

I’ve been very real with our kids about my black past. They know what I’ve done wrong in my life and maybe because of that, they don’t respect me very much. And every day I still fall. Will I never learn? Sometimes my sanctification – my clay becoming “a vessel for honorable use” (Romans 9:21, NASB) – seems impossible.

Ray and Beth in grocery store in Israel
Ray and Beth in grocery store in Israel

Yes, I often have meltdowns losing my temper with Ray, who can push my buttons faster than you can say Are-you-on-your-period-again . I become annoyed when Ray or Leah “interrupt” my work (God told me once my family is NOT an interruption, but a blessing!).

I love to eat Mexican and other food too much (gluttony) and am addicted to coke (cola, not cocaine, but I tried that once, too)! People sometimes get on my last nerves. I feel envious and jealous of other successful people sometimes. Oh, I’m so, so, SO far from perfect and have such a long way to go being molded into the image of Jesus!

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.” ~ Romans 12:2, The Message

Follow Christ!

But my kids also know that today I live passionately for Christ and want to help them avoid making the same mistakes I did.

Our beautiful daughters Eden, Heather & Leah
Our beautiful daughters Eden, Heather & Leah

Even when I’m speaking the truth to them in love (and it makes them mad!), they know my faith in Jesus is real and that I simply want God’s best for them. I want them to fulfill the great calling and purpose God has for their lives, glorifying Jesus! And don’t do all the dumb things I did!

I’ve raised our 3 daughters “in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NLT). I encourage our daughters Heather and Eden to raise their children, our precious grandchildren Annabelle, Violet and Jacob, to do the same.

I desire to leave a Godly legacy to our children and grandchildren and generations to come.

What about you? What kind of legacy will you leave behind?

I loved this blog post What Will Be Your Legacy by Wendy Blight. I pray it blesses, encourages and inspires you as much as it did me.

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