Friday, April 7, 2017

You are not a casserole!

" knit me together in my mother's womb..." Psalm 139:13

My dad loved casseroles. Just throw any leftovers into a baking dish, add some soup and pasta and voila, dinner was ready for the oven!  My husband, on the other hand, wants to see an organized plate of food: meat in one spot, veggies in another, next to recognizable potatoes or pasta. No mystery ingredients for him!
These two styles of gastronomic fare came to mind recently in my Sunday School class while discussing Psalm 139. When we were being formed in the dark of our mother's womb, His deliberate and perfect plan was being carried out.  A plan designed for each of us by God Himself! We weren't just tossed together haphazardly like one would toss together a casserole of multiple ingredients.  Rather than a mishmash of body parts, the result of God's design is more like a masterpiece. A study of human anatomy would confirm the amazing complexity of this masterpiece -- one that has given me life on this planet for over seventy years.  What an awesome God we have!

Friday, April 15, 2016

What does sacrifice look like?

A recent story changed my thinking about the word sacrifice. My small group was discussing the widow's mite from Mark 12 when one man told of an event from a mission trip he had taken to Kenya. The church there was holding an outdoor fundraising event.  He was surprised that the church leaders sat in front of the box in which donations were placed. As each person came forward, their name and amount was announced for all to hear! Two women in attendance had walked nearly 10 miles to attend this important event and carefully placed the equivalent of 25 cents into the box.  It was apparent to all that this money came at great sacrifice, like that famous widow's mite. My friend, his voice full of emotion, said that this experience humbles and challenges him every time he recalls it.
Reflecting on this story, I realized that I have never really sacrificed anything.  I'm not sure that I can even relate to someone walking 10 miles to give a donation to a church. I walk no further than my desk to pull out my checkbook! I am "poor" in experience compared to those "rich" ladies, a perfect example of the verse in James that tells the rich to glory in their poverty (James 1:10). Those Kenyan women (and probably many in their church) are in a much better position to understand what the writer of Hebrews meant when he penned "Christ...has appeared once for do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26). He gave it all--for us. He who was rich became poor--for us.  Is God calling you to sacrifice something so that your poverty might become true riches? I think I hear His voice calling me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


My daughter had a yellow lab that she rescued from an abusive situation. A sweet and gentle dog, I enjoyed cuddling and playing with Sasha. One day when preparing some eggs for breakfast, I picked up a large spatula in such a way that it apparently looked like a weapon and caused Sasha to cower in the corner. I felt awful for frightening her—I loved her!

In thinking about my time spent with God, I realized that there are occasions when I seem to “cower in a corner”—fearful that He is ready to strike out or punish me for my failures.  To the contrary, the Bible constantly reassures us that He loves us, wants the best for us and is just waiting for us to humbly come to Him in faith for forgiveness, acknowledging our sins. “Come unto Me, all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) and “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.” (1 John 1:9) Just come…don’t cower…just come. You’ve been rescued! Just come! God loves you!

©HJ Beckman 9/2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Pearl Necklace

It was a simple strand of pearls. Not even quality pearls—rather pop beads left over from the 60’s. But it was perfect in one respect: it gave dignity as it daily graced the neck of my 94 year old mother with Alzheimer’s. She might have chosen two overlapping mismatched shirts and ill-fitting pants that day but the pearls gave poise to an otherwise chaotic appearance.  They became her signature “style”.

It is how I choose to remember her, sitting by the window in her wheel chair, waiting for me to arrive for my usual morning visit to the nearby Memory Care facility. Her greeting was often joyful, accompanied by a shout of “Over here!” along with hand clapping, to be sure that she had gotten my attention. Her memory of breakfast might be diminished but she knew I was her favorite (and only) close relative. She was in some ways a child again, clearly remembering places and people long past. An obvious clue was her repeated introductions of me to the staff, asking them if they had met me, her “mother”. It was a regular reminder of the fact that as a life spirals down, the circle of that life grows smaller and smaller.

While her mental capacity was shrinking, her heart’s capacity to love grew surprisingly larger. Expressing appreciation and love to all her caregivers became another kind of signature “style” and gave an element of delight to her final days.  Those simple pearls serve as a reminder of a sweet mother and are, symbolically, pearls of great price.

© Jeanne Beckman 3/2015


Saturday, February 7, 2015

3 Funerals, 8 days, all Christians

Three memorial services that couldn’t have been more different.

The first was a “full court press”—60 voice choir, 3 preachers, 4 friends reminiscing, video pictures on a big screen. It lasted an hour and a half.

The second, held in a funeral home chapel with canned music, was a more modest event with a seasoned minister and 2 friends sharing memories in less than an hour.

The third, at a small country church packed with local ranchers, consisted of 4 hymns sung by the audience with piano accompaniment, 2 scriptures read by the preacher and lasted an astonishing 22 minutes!

All the men who died were believers — a cause for rejoicing — but I wonder if all would have felt honored by their memorial service.

In trying to discern something meaningful from this week of remembrance and loss, is there a lesson or two to be learned? Perhaps…
Consider doing some advanced planning for one’s own final event.
Consider being involved in a local church with adequate facilities.
Consider investing one’s life in serving others in the name of Christ—leave a legacy worth honoring.

Ps. 116:15 says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”.  A Christian memorial service ought to reflect that perspective so that it is precious in the sight of those attending as well. How do you want to be remembered when the time comes?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Has your faith bloomed lately?

Recently I purchased a bouquet of colorful fresh flowers: daisies, carnations and one lily that hadn’t opened yet.  As the week progressed, the lily pod kept darkening in color and I was disheartened to think that it was not going to bloom. Surprise!  This morning I discovered that the pod had opened with a lovely pink coloration, giving my bouquet a glorious addition.

The oft quoted “Oh ye of little faith” came to mind as I viewed this new development.  I had been discouraged because the lily was so slow to change and then, I suspected that the changes I was seeing weren’t positive. I didn’t have faith in God’s design and plan for that particular flower—and how wrong I was.

This scenario could be applied to many things.  How often have I questioned the rate of change in my life and others?  How often have I been discouraged in not seeing proof of improvement?  How often have I doubted God’s design that hasn’t come to fruition on my timetable and in my understanding? Oh ME of little faith! The Bible is clear: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not [yet] seen”. Hebrews 11:1 It goes on to remind us that God is pleased when we have faith in Him and trust His ultimate purpose and plan for us.

Even blooming bouquets can teach us something about faith. Thank you God for the beautiful lesson!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thankful for ...WIND?

Can’t recall a time when I was thankful for wind until today. 

Why now?  Well, it’s winter in Texas and we are used to sunshine, even when it’s cold. In the past few weeks, the sun was hidden behind clouds for days on end. All the rain (six inches in three days) and cloudy cold makes those of us in the Lone Star State grumpy and miserable.

Then the wind arrived. It blew out all the yuk and ushered in dazzling sunshine. My heart was overflowed with gratitude as the gust whipped across my face this morning.  In that moment, grumpy was gone; happy was back!

The Bible frequently speaks of wind, especially in reference to God’s Holy Spirit.  He blows across our lives, bringing power and love and a sound mind to our souls (2 Timothy 1:7), removing the dark clouds of sin and bringing the bright joy of a Savior’s love. How thankful we ought to be—for God’s wind, both the physical and the spiritual kinds!