Category Archives: Uncategorized

God’s Perfect Timing – A True story about 23 & Me.

As soon as my friend Jackie shared the beginnings of this potential bombshell, I knew it would later be a blog if possible. Due to the sensitive nature, I had to watch it all unfold and make sure it was all true.

Judy, Jackie, and Brenda November 2021

Not only is it true, it’s a story that Lifetime movies are made from. I sure hope you enjoy it and are blessed by this story of pure thanksgiving.

In 1954, a little girl named Jacqueline Marie made her entrance into the world.

In 1956, a second beautiful baby girl by the name of Judy Ann was born.

In 1960, what was known to be the 3rd baby girl was born. Her name is withheld for privacy reasons in this blog and the birth is only mentioned in order to set the scene.

All 3 girls shared the same parents, with Jackie being raised by her paternal grandparents. Judy and the remaining sister were raised by their mother. This was the result of tumultuous on again/off again marriage between the girls’ parents.

Fast forward to 2021…..

Jackie has been married to Jimmy for 49 years. They have slap crazy daughter(who I love and adore!) named Crystal. There are two beautiful teenage grandsons named Colin and Kaleb.

Judy and her husband, Mark, have been together nearly as long and live toward the coast. They 2 children and a whole passel of grandkids.

A few months ago, in August, a cousin named Lori contacted Judy. Lori had a sister who was given up for adoption at birth and was on a mission to find her. Lori submitted her DNA to 23 & Me, a lab that helps you find related people through genetic testing. Lori did not get a hit for her long lost sibling.

Lori did get a hit about a first cousin on her mother’s side. Lori called cousin Judy for help in trying to figure out who this potential mystery cousin was. Judy in turn called her sister, Jackie, and they all put their CSI knowledge together and set out to solve the mystery.

In a dot on the map called Inman, lives a lady by the name of Brenda. Brenda received a 23 & Me gift from her son last Christmas. Brenda was born and adopted into a wonderful family in 1959 and after 62 years, was curious about her lineage. Her parents had passed on.

Jackie was on a tour out West when she got the call from Judy about the mystery cousin hit. As soon as she returned home, she promised to submit her own DNA for testing. Judy called her aunt Ann, who resides in a nursing home. Aunt Ann held the key to the entire mystery. After a little prompting and being presented with some evidence, Aunt Ann shared a massive secret.

Cousin Lori did in fact have a mystery cousin. But it wasn’t Jackie and Judy’s cousin. It was their sister! She was born in 1959 and given up for adoption. Her name is Brenda.

Since August, Jackie’s DNA testing results have shattered any doubt as to Brenda being a 4th sister. 3 of the sisters planned and met for the very first time at Jackie’s home last weekend. From all accounts, it was like they had never been separated. Jackie and Judy recognized her immediately from their mother’s blue eyes. Jimmy said her laugh is uncannily like her mother’s. They all have so much in common. Crystal says that all share the same booty. 😂

Jackie is beyond in love with her newfound sister, just as Judy is. 62 years is a long time to make up for. I’m sure all 3 of these sisters will have lots of new adventures, laughs, and much love in the near future and years to come. Jackie told me she has so much to be thankful for and how God’s timing is perfect. Many people that could/would have been hurt by this secret have gone on. She wanted to share that some secrets are okay being found out.

Jackie has been my friend for a long, long time. I’m so glad that she shared this journey with me and has allowed me to put her story into a blog. I hope that I can share more of these ladies adventures.

Just when we think we have life figured out…. God says WATCH THIS!

What are YOU thankful this Thanksgiving Day?

Until next time…

The BeanCounter

Serve SELFISHLY.

I pray I don’t get any hate mail over this posting. I probably will, though.

I often cringe when people make reference to things I’m involved in. I only wish they knew the whole picture. Not just one they see of me handing out a Bible. Or me talking to George, my homeless friend. I have a hard, dark side.

This is NOT the life that I outlined as a little girl. The picket fence. The brick two story. Two perfect children, Jack & Jill. The rich husband who looked like Fabio.

Instead, my life has been FULL of tragedy. My picket fence is actually a cow gate. My kids are far from perfect. My husband looks better than Fabio, though. 🤣. Our lives seem riddled with one storm after another. I’m the employed one. I worry about the bills. I worry about the boys. I worry about if Preston cut the stove off. If a scratch pops up on his leg, I’m worried that it’s something sinister. I’m guilty of going outside and vomiting in the middle of the night because fear has consumed me.

I’ve been in Christian counseling on and off for nearly a dozen years. I’ve been prescribed medicines to help me cope. I refuse to take them. I have my reasons. Please don’t beat me up for it. I’m not anti-medicine…. Just come look at Preston’s pill containers.

Serving God gives me a high and a joy that I have not found anywhere or in anything else. No strength of Xanax can do that. I refuse to dwell on the fact that my life is not how I say it should be. It’s the hand I’ve been dealt…… and it ain’t a bad one. But if I hide in the darkness of my depression and my four walls, I feels darker than ever and has threatened to take me deeper in the pit.

There is a reason that George is homeless and can’t be trapped in a place with walls. I don’t have to fight those demons. My four walls are a safe place for me. Many years ago, there were two young children in state custody. You know what their story was? Mama died. And the boyfriend or stepdaddy locked them in a basement with mama’s ashes “watching” them. Just one day this week, two young girls knocked on our office door asking if we were the place where they could get free food. Not us, but I sure sent them to the flower shop. I’ve never lived in child abuse or gone hungry.

Then Preston. He does his Bible study every single day. He has read the Bible from front to back over and over. A man that has no short term memory. But God has truly hidden His word deep in Preston’s heart. Preston blows me away with his deep understanding…. that surpasses understanding in of itself.

Somewhere I learned that serving and filled a void turned my bitterness to gratitude. And the more I serve, the more it ain’t about me. The more I serve, the more joy that floods my heart. The more I want that feeling. I am BLESSED!

I selfishly serve. Not selfLESSly. Selfishly.

I hope that if you’re like I was, sitting around moping about the crappy hand you were dealt, that you’ll throw those cards down. Instead of wondering why nobody comes around or calls, serve. God will place you in exact places where you’re needed and wanted. If you’ve been a victim of abuse yourself, serve. Somebody somewhere needs to hear your survival story. If you suffer depression or anxiety, serve. It may not fix everything but I can guarantee it won’t hurt anything, either.

If you need a place to get your feet wet, come find the Bible Tent at the Antioch Pumpkin Patch in the morning. God will surely use you, and I’ll selfishly get to watch. 😃

It’s okay to be selfish. When it’s for God’s glory, anyway.

Until next time,

The Selfish BeanCounter

It’s Been a Great Day at The ANTIOCH Pumpkin Patch, Charlie Brown!

I am exhausted. My toe bones ache. So do my eyelashes. 🤷‍♀️

It’s 7:30pm. I’m lying in bed. I have no business writing a blog when the tips of my fingers hurt and my eyes are tired. But I can’t help it. I gotta share with the world what I saw today.

Today was the 2nd Saturday of our church’s, Antioch Baptist- Lancaster SC, annual Great Pumpkin Patch. Like so many other things, COVID stole it from us last year. We are making up for it this year. Ten.Fold.

Charlie Brown and I arrived early around 7:45 this morning to prepare the Fishes & Loaves Bible Tent that we oversee. Immediately, I just started snapping pictures of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It was like a perfectly synchronized army of ants. Nobody’s job was more important than the next. They all worked in perfect harmony to get the jobs done. This week’s rain threw some monkey wrenches in the mix, but you would have never know .

As the day progressed, I continued to just people watch. I often call my ability to lip read a curse, but today it was a blessing. It was as if we (society) took a step back in time and truly enjoyed life and each other for several hours. We had 2 trains that ran non-stop around and around the track for 8 hours. There was a hayride that ran non-stop. Games ever hour on the hour. Inflatables. Face painting, pumpkin golf, ace throwing, food, food, and more food. Oh…. Not to mention the pumpkins themselves!

The smiles on the kids faces were priceless. The laughter and good natured competitiveness of the teenagers was contagious. Older couples walked around hand in hand. I honestly don’t think I saw one single child cry today. Just pure happiness. For 8 hours, we forgot about all the terrible things in the world and enjoyed the blessings of God.

Our tent stayed steadily busy. Like every other tent or job in the patch, we all had one goal…..

Love God. Love Others. Serve Both.

In the last 2 Saturdays, we have given out a whopping 533 Bibles/Bible story books. Five hundred and thirty three. 5.3.3.. I’m still blown away every time that number rolls through my head. Two years ago, we gave away just a little over that for the ENTIRE month. We still have 3 Saturdays to go this year!!

People are hungry like never before. Hungry for some sense of normalcy. Hungry for love. Hungry for God’s word. So many times I heard the same answer back when I asked people if they had a home church…. No. Some were from out of town/state and found out about the Pumpkin Patch through our affiliation with drug rehabilitation ministries and what our Church is trying to do in our front yard. Another lady stopped at our tent and said she was so impressed with how friendly everyone was. She explained that she worked in a local group home for adults with disabilities. She wasn’t working today, but she placed a call to the home and had the caregivers bring them out. My Charlie Brown got to meet the real a real man named Charlie Brown. 🤣

We may live in a broken world, but even if just for today, the Antioch Army gave hope away like it was going out of style! We were honored to love on our community and serve God and our neighbors both.

I pray that any that we talked to today will take us up on our offers of sitting with us tomorrow in the pews. From our tent, if you received an outreach Bible and wish to trade it for a leather bound/leather like Bible, come find us on left center section, pew 3.

God is good. We just gotta love Him. Love others. And serve Both!

For me personally, I LOVED being an ant today. Enjoy the pictures.

Until next time,

The BeanCounter

Picking up trash with a smile. No job beneath any of us!
I don’t know what the Preacher did, but Dennis sure seems to be giving him the riot act. Or was he?

The Sober Drunk on Pew 3.

Preston.

You’re wondering how I can say that about my husband. Because I can, plain and simple.

Today, I recorded this video and came home and cried in the privacy of my bedroom. He is literally the strongest man I know. This isn’t a pity blog, I promise. Just hang tight.

About 2 years ago, we noticed a slight tremor in Preston’s right hand and spoke to his long time neurologist about it. It was so slight that it was something we would just need to “watch”. By the next visit 6 months later, it was worse and time to put him on a anti-seizure medication for it. 2 months ago, he reached the maximum safe dosage. Our options are narrowing. The tremors are worse than ever. He can no longer write. And his once beautiful painting talent suffers. Brain surgery may be in the near future. The doctor gave us 6 months to research and weigh the options.

In the meantime, Preston has been sent back to physical therapy in hopes to strengthen him because he’s also taken a few falls. After a series of events that could only have been orchestrated from God, Preston is back with his original therapist in her own private practice who worked with him for 9 months in 2016 after his aneurysm.

In the initial pt evaluation for this go round, the tremors were very strong (or hard, as I call them) and puzzling to the therapist. Again, I smiled at how God’s plan is perfect when she told me that tremors are a specialty of one of her other therapists. They also discovered that Preston has some serious balance issues going on. He couldn’t pass a roadside sobriety test for nothing!

He’s a sober drunk. This video proves it.

Preston being given a field sobriety test!

But let me tell you what else he is. He is a man after God’s own heart who also questions God every single day on his purpose in this life. This life has taken his job and made him disabled and dependent upon others. Like every person in a similar trial, it’s sent the fair weather friends scattering like roaches. Heck, even with family, nothing shocks us anymore. I’ve asked Preston many times how he can take the punches so dignified and elegantly. His reply is always the same….. God is with me. HE is enough and I trust Him.

Last night, our pastor painted an illustration something like this….. Most of us are employed with an employer who has expectations of us. If we miss work on a constant basis, chances are we will be fired. If God is the Lord of our lives and was in the firing business, how many of us would lose our job as a Christian becuase we aren’t fulfilling the duties He has asked of us? Thank God my God isn’t in firing business. He hires us for life.

Back to Preston, here’s a guy that doesn’t have nearly the capabilities that most of us do, YET God surely uses him. Preston wakes up every ready to spiritually serve. Preston serves with his heart.

I wish that I could accurately portray one day in the life of Preston. Just tonight, he told me that he has washed his hands 42 times for 45 seconds each this week. His phone asks him every morning how he slept to which he logs it. He’s recorded his blood sugar readings into charts that blow the doctor’s mind. He’s got alarms on his phone to tell him when to take his meds, when to walk his dogs, when to walk, and when to go to bed. He has meticulous bullet notes that even Pastor Trent can look back on 10 years from now and preach directly from. Yet, ask him who called him 5 minutes earlier, and he’ll swear nobody called him. It wears me out thinking about all the things he has to do just to be able to function to a comfortable degree each day. Whew!

My sober drunk was worn slam out by the end of this video session. He didn’t give up. He is determined to be the best that he can be…. in therapy, at home, or in church. He’s a stellar steward, for sure.

Y’all pray for him. Pray for me. Somedays I’m completely overwhelmed trying to wear so many hats. Today, God humbled me watching Prestons quiet strength and determination. He reminded me that this journey, like all the other journeys, is His. We are just along for the ride. We don’t know what the future holds, but we surely know who holds it.

And that will always be enough.

I hope this encouraged somebody somewhere. If you see Preston fall out of Pew 3, do the right thing and help him back up…. You’re sure to get a blessing from it.

The BeanCounter

If only his booty would shake like that! 🤣

“I hope I’m not an embarrassment to you”

After what seems like forever, I’m finally making my way back to where I need to be. I’m not lost…. just wandering down paths that were not necessarily “bad”, but definitely missing the fruits that I need in my life. On my reverse journey back, I feel like God has been putting people and circumstances in my life to: 1) Remind me of how blessed I am. 2) Show me the meaning of mercy and command that I act it out. And finally number 3) To physically show me for the bazillionth time what grace is.

Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

Grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross, thus securing man’s eternal salvation from sin.

I’m not here today to complain about my life. I just wish to illustrate parts of it for the lesson that God has been using to teach me. I’ve been in a season of discouragement. I’ve always pretty much kept the big girl panties pulled up and came out swinging. Lately, that fight has turned into wanting to flee. I’ve wanted to flee my job. Flee my family. Flee my friends. Flee my life. Flee it all. In pure honesty, I will tell you that I’ve been tired of serving God. Although I don’t think I can or will spiritually walk away from God, I am guilty of wanting a time out. But like the loving Father He is, he sought out this wayward sheep. And on the journey back to the 99, I am learning lessons that I pray I can share through this blog.

Several days ago, I wrote a blog about a homeless man and what I think is the best picture I have ever taken. In the picture, he was studying a Bible. I’ve known this man for years. I’ve fed him many times. I’ve clothed him. I have had many conversations with him. I’ve picked him up off the sidewalk. I’ve called 911 on him for medical reasons. I have also been cussed out by him. Screamed at by him. I’ve witnessed the demons this man fights. And on more than one occasion, I’ve seen this man with that big Bible out, reading in earnest. I shared the photo with someone whose reply was basically ” that picture does not line up with the things I have heard about this man. Thank you for reminding me not to judge “. It bothered me that this man’s demons have quite a reputation in this town. The only difference between me and my friend are that my demons are behind closed doors, in my cushy house, on my 18 acres. Thank God for His grace. The same grace flows from this wretch to that wretch if he’s accepted Jesus as his Savior. I don’t believe my God is going to abandon him and kick him to the wayside for mental health issues, alcohol issues or any other problems. Grace.

Grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross, thus securing man’s eternal salvation from sin.

Mercy. I have a pair of elderly clients that require help with their day to day finances. Both are in poor health. The gentleman is on oxygen and his wife is in advanced stages of Parkinson’s. Every few days, he pulls in our parking lot, but too weak to get out. His sweet wife shuffles in the office with a bill for me to pay. I’ll always walk her back to the car and help her in. This week, when we got outside, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and and she said “I’m sorry. I hope I’m not an embarrassment to you. ” I reassured her that she’s the opposite and quite a blessing to me. If you know me, you also know that I hate hugs and people in my space. God told me to hug this lady. She hugged me tight and told me that she loved me and appreciated me so much. What was meant to make her feel better, made me feel better, too! She had mercy on me and I on her.

Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

I have learned that while mercy comes from God, Grace IS God. I’ve been reminded that sheep come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. None of the sheep are silky white and flawless.

So long as we are sheep with the one true Shepherd, that’s all that matters.

I apologize for rambling. I’ve tried hard to make sense of my lessons learned.

Thanks for reading.

The BeanCounter

Dirty Laundry.

Take a long, good look at this picture.

I applied filters in hopes that my some time friend could remain anonymous. I tried blocking his face, but then lost the context of what I was trying to share. If you’re familiar with downtown, no doubt you are familiar with him.

Some people quietly stop and give him food, expecting nothing in return. Others loudly stop and give him food. And take a selfie with an imaginary pat on the back in return. 😡.

Somedays, Mr. X is as pleasant as can be. He’ll talk to you about his past and be as gracious as a refined southern gentleman. Other days, his demons can be raging, and he’s literally in caught in a imaginary war zone, lashing out at people/demons that we can’t see. On those days, he wants and needs to be left alone. He’s a vile man to those who approach him. I know alcohol has been involved. But what I don’t know is if the alcohol is to medicate the demons. Or the demons drive him to the alcohol. It doesn’t matter.

Mr. X’s transgressions are exposed for most of downtown to see. Most see a crazy, dirty man pushing a cart full of junk around a two block radius. He doesn’t have a nice bed to sleep in(his choice) so you can sometimes find him spread out on a sidewalk or under a bench. Just a few days ago, I saw him in his pajama bottoms and wife beater shirt, toting his daily supply of water from our spigot.

Across town, passed out behind the walls of a beautiful 3000 square foot home, lies another soul that I know. This person also fights demons. And addiction. And mental illness. And depression. And probably much more.

Further on out, there’s a modest home where a mother, in private, cries for her child who just died from an overdose. Most will never know about the heroin. It will remain the family secret.

Further on towards the east, sits another broken family home . The mother thinks her grown son is not an addict because his pills come from a doctor’s prescription pad. She’s enabled for so long that the rest of the family is probably permanently fractured.

In every single one of these stories, someone was/is hurting. The only difference between Mr. X’s story and the rest, is that many of us see his played out daily. His sins are exposed for the world to see. And judge.

And judge we do.

I’m guilty as charged. This morning, this picture took my breathe away because of what was on Mr. X’s lap, being studied intently. A Bible.

The same God that loves me, loves each of his sons in the above situations across town. I’m no better than the addict with a needle in his arm. Or the town drunk. Or the enabled son. Or the dead son.

In fact, the only difference between me and Mr. X is that I take a shower, put on clean clothes, spray some perfume on, and out that mask on every single day. Mr. X isn’t fake like me. My sins are there, just not exposed for you and everyone else to see. And condemn me.

No one, in their right mind(in my humble opinion), would choose homelessness. But when you add mental illness, depression, and “street” medicine, we can’t be so quick to judge.

I can only sit back and smile, and wonder what scripture that Mr. X was all into this morning. I pray that someone rode by and saw God’s love being played out.

Just maybe it tempted them to pull their own mask down, and get real with where they are in their own walk with God. So many people are hurting, Help me pray that this will be the only hell many homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, PTSD sufferers, and mentally ill people will ever know.

Thanks for listening to me rantings of me, once again.

God bless you!

The Beancounter

The Man Cave

As I was relaxing after a long day today, Preston came into the bedroom excitedly. He stuttered and choked on his words a little as he told me that he had just got a call that The Man Cave was open tonight and he’d be headed out shortly. It’s the one thing he can do on his own and I’m not invited. 🤣. I kid him that it’s more like “The He-man Woman Haters Club”. He’s headed to meet Alfalfa and Buckwheat.

I told him to make sure he took his house key and locked me inside. He stood a few inches taller as he told me he would and that he wouldn’t be out too late. He looks forward to man cave nights.

The man cave.

The man cave is located at my brother’s house which is just through the woods from our home. It’s a meeting place for 3 men, all in different stages of their lives, all fighting battles that most know nothing about.

These three men are men that I love more than anything in this world. These three are also the strongest men I know. My Preston. My brother, Ken. And my Pop. And they share an incredible bond.

Ken was the first person I called from the hospital when Preston suffered his aneurysm. Ken came and picked me up from the hospital as Preston was being flown out. Ken was the one that got our house handicap accessible so Preston could come home all those months later. I don’t remember a time in my life that my brother wasn’t there. Ever.

Pop. Pop is the one person that we can call and say “meet me outside with a shovel, a bag of cement mix, and a flashlight.” He’ll be there with no judgement and no questions asked. When you ask him for advice, you ain’t getting it….. because he will say “look at what a mess I made of my own life”.

All 3 of these men live their lives as fully as they can. Preston blows me away with his art. Ken is a master craftsman in his own right. Pop is like the Energizer bunny.

All three of these men have gracefully accepted that when sickness and disease entered into their lives, many relationships/friendships fizzled out. All three of them have pulled their immediate families closer and learned to cherish and love on a whole new level.

The Man Cave is nothing deep, yet it’s deeper than most can grasp. Gathered right about now are 3 men in a little room listening to a little music or watching a show called Hee Haw. In a little while, Preston will head back through the woods on the only set of wheels he can drive….his red Polaris Ranger. Pop will head out in the opposite direction through the woods on his white Polaris Ranger. Ken will probably step through door of the man cave and into his workshop and make something beautiful until the wee hours of the night.

I can only speak for Preston, but when he comes back home, he’ll be walking a little taller and his man card will be a little shinier. Whether deep conversations were had, or they just watched a little TV, for a few sweet hours, Preston was included and with 2 of his best friends.

That shine in his eyes comes without a price tag.

My Sweet Preston.

I don’t even know where to begin.

Preston is the beautiful gift that God gave me in late 2010. Before God trusted me with this precious gift, He broke me first. Utterly broke me. Then painstakingly put me back together, piece by piece. Looking back, I wouldn’t wish the pain on my worst enemy. During the pain, I wanted to die. But because of two little boys that called me “mama”, I surrendered instead. My life was in God’s hands.

God took me on beautiful, but bittersweet, journey. I’ve written about that time in other blogs. When my heart was healed and filled with HIM, God gave me Preston. My sweet gentle giant. Then and now.

Preston loved the Lord and made an oath to God to do his best to love me as Christ loves the church. Even in his current state of mind, he honors his vows. I’ve always said that I can look into Preston’s eyes as see a tiny glimpse of God’s love for me staring right back at me.

And boy!, do I love this feller right back. He’s the calm to my chaos. He’s my best friend. The peanut butter to my jelly. Hunter put it best the day Preston adopted him and Chase…. Preston wasn’t there to take their daddy’s place, just to pick up where he left off when he died. 😭.

After Preston got sick 5 years ago, the dynamics of our family changed. Chase and Hunter took their own vows seriously, and love and care for Preston as biological children should. There is no step in our house.

Over the years, Preston and I have realized that blood means nothing. It’s the heart and soul that means everything. We’ve been thrown to the wayside by people we never ever thought would. But even more importantly, we’ve been picked up and loved by complete strangers and acquaintances that God put directly in our paths. Preston and I have debts we can never repay.

In November of 2020, we both contracted COVID. My case was mild, but Preston ended up in ICU for 5 days. Again, I thank God for the friends that reached out and gave us medical advice as soon as we got the diagnosis. I truly believe it may have saved his life.

Since January, there have been 4 additional hospital visits up until just last weeks stay. What we thought was a heart attack ended up being inflammation in the chest cavity, pneumonia and bronchitis. God works in mysterious ways and I can’t help but wonder if he allowed the pain so that the pneumonia could be found earlier in his bad lung. We jokingly wonder when we will start getting frequent flyer miles or at least Preferred Patient Discounts!

Seriously, it’s taken a toll on both of us. I’m worried sick about him. He’s worried about the stress on me. He’s lonely and isolated. I’m stretched thin and I feel like I have to make up for the abandonment he feels from loved ones. I’m bitter as heck at those that I feel have abandoned not just him, but me. Lately, it’s a wound that constantly gets picked at. By me.

By me. Why can’t I leave the wound alone? Jesus loves us and validates it constantly. Why must we search and yearn for something from someone who is incapable of giving it? I’m a glutton for punishment.

All I know is that on this side of heaven, I’ll be Preston’s biggest protector and his biggest cheerleader. I may be tired, overworked, stressed, but one thing is for sure…. My sweet gentle giant is my gift from God and I will try my damnedest to do right by him. Every single day that God puts breathe in me.

If you’re blessed with a marriage, treasure it, nurture it, and prepare for the unseen storms that may lay ahead. Place your trust in God. Don’t be like me…. Don’t pick at the wounds. They have a way of contaminating your soul.

Love ya. Mean it.

The BeanCounter

The weekend I ran away and found myself.

Or at least I think I am on the right path. I saw and heard glimpses of my own self. There is hope.

I’m a creature of habit. I like black and white. Yes or no. In or out. Up or down. In my perfect world, there are no gray areas. I’ve long said that is the main reason that I’m an accountant. Numbers are black and white( or red 🤪 )! They don’t lie. They don’t give you surprises. They are exact, methodical.

As hard as try for that perfect balance, my life is anything but. This last week proved that and sent me once again spiraling into a chaotic emotional state. Over something that many of you may have been able to take in stride. Me? I’m sick of the punches.

It all started last Wednesday morning. Wednesday’s are the very well planned day of every single week that I wake Preston up an hour early. We go for breakfast at a local restaurant and he then goes to work with me at 7:45 and at 8:55, I escort him to art class 3 blocks away. I pick him up at 12:30 and use my lunch hour to take him back home. I’m back at work by 1:15. No reason why every Wednesday’s shouldn’t work like clockwork. Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Except this past Wednesday.

Preston and I were finishing up our breakfast of champions talking about his most recent painting. I looked up from my plate and he looked pale. I asked him if he was ok. He replied “no”. I half jokingly asked if I needed to call an ambulance, to which he replied “I think so”. He went from talking about sailboats to being lethargic in literally seconds. We spent the day at the hospital. He had what we believe to have been a neurostorm. He’s had them before but not in a very long time.

I was spooked. Still am. These moments never, ever get easier. I was still unnerved from the day I came home from work two weeks ago to find that he was bleeding internally. Our calendar is now packed with a kinda of appointments, follow-ups and specialists. It’s crazy. Me? I was deep in my pity party. I’ve cried for days without even trying to cry. The tears just flow.

In my perfect world, I had asked off for this past Friday to take my Pop and Preston to my nephew’s wedding in Albemarle. When the poop hit the fan, I cancelled my plans to attend and scheduled myself to work to make up for being out with Preston. Thursday afternoon, my office manager informed me that I was not allowed to come in the next day and that I needed to go be with my family as originally planned.

Thursday night, Pop decided that he didn’t think he could make the trip for his own medical reasons. It was me and Preston. Friday morning, I woke up with the attitude that I was getting the heck out of Lancaster and running away for a few days. Preston and I packed a few clothes and headed to Albemarle for the weekend. We had no agenda other than to attend Matt and Laura’s wedding and just relax.

We ended up at a B&B called The 1891 Inn. It’s a quaint home at 427 Pee Dee Avenue, in downtown Albemarle. The Innkeeper is a sweet gentleman by the name of Ron.

Whoever said you can’t run from your problems LIED! This weekend has been one of pure relaxation. Innkeeper Ron has spoiled us with his chef worthy breakfasts. Our suite is something out of a magazine. Robes and all. Our room even has a gas log fireplace. Peace and tranquility seem to pour from the walls. We’re within walking distance of a restaurant called “Five Points Public House”. Let me tell you that it’s so good that every meal that Ron hasn’t fed us, we’ve ate there.

Yesterday, we put a call into the kids to let them no where we were and that mama had not completely gone off the deep end. I shared with him about how wonderful this Inn is and how much it’s helped my frame of mind. My son, Chase, asked if it would be okay for him and his lady, Jasmine, to come and join us.

Last night, we enjoyed time together with them. I wasn’t wound so tight. I found myself laughing and having a good time. Truly enjoying myself, and some of my family. The tears of despair are gone and replaced with peace that surpasses all understanding.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I sure know that God lined up things perfectly to allow this weekend to happen. At the perfect Inn in the perfect town, right in the middle of nowhere.

I’m looking forward to bringing Preston back as often as our souls need it and our pocketbook allow it. Innkeeper Ron and his home are the perfect medicine for the soul.

Albemarle and The 1891 Inn are the perfect place to run away to!

Until next time!

The BeanCounter

Mimi And The Back Door.

I have been itching in my pants to write this particular blog. I guess you can call it a sequel of sorts. The last blog titled “The Back Door” has been by far the most popular and most shared blog that I have ever written. If you have not read it yet, please go to my blog site http://www.prayingwithmyeyeswideopen.com and read it first.

When Susan granted me permission to write it, I prayed that it would serve one purpose in particular…. to help Ray’s Flowers serve the homeless in our downtown area. It did. The timing was perfect. Supplies were running low, temperatures were dropping, and the demand was higher.

I shared on my personal Facebook about my friend Kelly who was in the exact place at the exact time that God orchestrated for her to find a homeless friend that we had been looking for for weeks. Kelly’s clothes, food, toiletries and simple act of kindness turned our barely recognizable friend into a woman who left her tent and made a trip to the flower shop to show off her new attire. They say you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. I think I’ll call her “Smiley” from now on.

That was just one act of kindness. So, so many people have and are dropping off supplies. Every single one of you are making a difference. I’m just as blessed as our hungry friends. To be able to witness simple, salt of the earth goodness! I’m reminded of Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Isn’t God good?

One afternoon recently, Smiley showed up at my office but I wasn’t there. When I returned and learned of her visit, I rushed down to the flower shop hoping to catch her. I did not, but that’s where I learned about a girl named Mimi.

Mimi made me cry.

I have never met Mimi. Even to this day. I don’t know Mimi from Adam’s house cat, as my MawMaw would say. I was sad that I missed Smiley that afternoon. As I looked around the work area of the flower shop, I couldn’t help but wonder if someone had robbed Aldi. There were bags on top of bags. That’s when Brenda started telling me about Mimi.

8 year old Mimi made that mess on the floor. That wonderful mess was a simple project of a much bigger ministry that this young lady has. I told Brenda I needed to share Mimi with my blogging world and as soon as I hit a brutal tax deadline at the end of January, I’d be needing contact information on this girl’s family.

I thought Mimi was my secret! And that I would be debuting her in this blog. Hah! Come to find out, God has been using this child in some mighty ways for quite a while. I have boys, so I’m not sure what little girls play with but I know that my boys spending their birthday money on homeless people was not on their radar. Nor was spending their time with the down and out. They were busy catching lizards and buying little toy trucks with money that burned holes in their pockets.

Not Mimi. Mimi witnessed a homeless person dumpster diving one day. Instead of pushing rose colored glasses up on Mimi’s nose, her family educated and helped her understand the ugly reality of what surrounds us. They encouraged her and gave her the necessary tools to make a difference in this world.

Mimi’s Ministry was born. With the support of her church, Steele Hill AME Zion, grandmother Doris Waiters, mom Trafonda Patton and other family members, Ms. Mimi was well on her way loving God, loving others, and serving both. Mimi spends time in downtown Charlotte’s tent city’s well as providing hot meals in Finlay park in Columbia.

I was blown away to see what this little girl’s ministry brought into Ray’s Flower’s. Humbled. And if I’m honest, there’s shame there. I’m ashamed of myself. This little girl from Fort Mill, SC that, by society’s standards, should be running from little boys with lizards, chooses to BOLDLY serve God and do the “right” thing. She’s serving homeless in 2 states! What’s my excuse as a 49 year woman? I don’t have one.

This little girl loves others through her actions. Simply, blindly, and boldly. She’s faithful. She is obedient.

I want to be like Mimi. Don’t you?Mimi, if you’re reading this, thank you for being you. May you always love and serve the Lord.

As a post note, I want to add that you can read a beautiful story written by Mandy Catoe archived in the Lancaster News. You can learn so much more about Mimi and maybe support her in her numerous ministry projects.

Until next time,

The BeanCounter