Steve & Betty

Sharing the Good News of Jesus!

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“The Red Balloon”

For most of my life I remember that my maternal grandmother, Mae Horton, had difficulty walking. Her knees were not cooperative in a day when knee replacement surgery was only experimental and not overly successful. Granny eventually ended up in a wheel chair. This immobility did not stop Granny however, her mind was forever in motion and she did not stop learning, loving and reaching. Granny ruled from her favorite chair. We all knew that Granny was in charge, including sweet Grandaddy. What Granny said went and NO one dared to dispute her. In spite of her dictatorial matriarchal rule, we all loved Granny and we KNEW she loved us.

My baby sister, Brenda, and I spent a great deal of time with Granny and Grandaddy from the time we were born. Our paternal grandparents had died before our father and mother were married, so we never knew them. Granny and Grandaddy Horton lovingly filled this void. In 1987 I moved to Central Florida and my visits were limited due to the distance. My sister continued to see Granny and Grandaddy regularly, as she lived less than 2 miles from them on Florida’s East Coast. Brenda and Granny had always been extremely close, as she helped my Mama care for Brenda when she was born. My Mama was not well for awhile after Brenda’s birth and I was only 18 months at the time and still required much care myself. Their relationship was magnetic. Brenda was in and out of Granny’s house throughout the week and always stopped in if she was going shopping to see if Granny and Grandaddy needed anything.

You would think from the previous paragraphs that this is going to be about Granny and it partially is, but not solely. This is about my sister, who loved and lived and longed to stretch her wings and fly from the time I first recall recognizing her as a person. This is also the story of the “Red Balloon”.

Twenty years ago and prior to my Granny’s death, Brenda had a wonderfully amazingly imaginative dream.

In the dream she was pushing Granny in her wheelchair down the walkway in front of Granny’s house. She was taking her for a “walk” around the neighborhood. It was a perfectly beautiful day. The sky was bright blue and almost cloudless, except for a few cottony clouds floating in on the eastern breeze from the Atlantic Ocean, less than a mile away. Brenda and Granny were enjoying this special time together and looking up in to the sky. About the same time they both noticed a tiny red dot descending. As the dot came closer and grew larger they realized that it was a balloon with a string attached. It was the type of balloon that our children were always given when we shopped for groceries at Publix; they were filled with helium and had a ribbon attached for holding onto. It was odd that this Red Balloon was descending instead of ascending, however. All the balloons we had seen before would ascend if not firmly grasped in our children’s sweet little hands. Many balloons were lost in the Publix parking lot.

This Red Balloon continued it’s descent until it was directly in front of Granny. In childlike awe, Granny reached out and grasped the ribbon. Immediately she and the Red Balloon began to ascend. Brenda watched helplessly as Granny and the Red Balloon begin their ascent into the Stratosphere and disappeared. Before Brenda could become totally frantic, she saw the slightly larger dot begin to descend once again. As it drew closer she could see that Granny was still grasping the ribbon. Slowly the descent continued until Granny, clutching the Red Balloon, was standing in front of the wheelchair. Granny then released the Red Balloon to continue it’s return through the layers of atmosphere, walked wordlessly, easily and painlessly to the back of the wheelchair and pushed it back into the house. Granny’s knees were completely whole after her mysterious and wonderful ascent into the ‘heavens’ .”

Although in actuality, Granny’s knees were not whole, this dream was a lovely gift to both Brenda and Granny. Brenda shared the dream with Granny and it tickled her. Granny had a fantastic sense of humor and adventure. I believe that often Dreams are God’s communication with us and this Special Dream gave Brenda a peace about the hereafter that she had not known prior to receiving this “heaven sent video”.

Brenda became widowed almost 4 years ago. Her “Mr. Bill” was the “love of her life”. And after losing him the void was fathomless. My sister had also been quite ill herself for many years, and with each passing year she grew more twisted with crippling scoliosis, causing her organs to become compressed and damaged. She was a truly gifted artist and her home was filled with paintings and sketches of paintings she planned to do, but her body failed her before she could complete the ideas she had stored in her brain and on post-it-notes throughout her house. Grasping a brush or a charcoal pencil for any length of time had become excruciatingly painful. But like Granny, her mind never stopped creating beauty.

On July 28, 2016, I received the most horrible phone call that I had received to date; my Brenny had died. I was overwhelmed with grief and intense loneliness. My seemingly “forever sobs” were deep and ragged. The one remaining person who knew me best and longest was gone and I would never be able to share another “sister moment” with her.

But God is Good, as the movie, “God’s not Dead”, reminds, “all the time”. So while sitting in a chair in my Brenny’s house a few days after she had died, God granted me a sweet gift of the reminder of the “Red Balloon”. In the twenty years since my sister dreamed of the Red Balloon and Granny, she had been through so very much, physically, mentally and emotionally, but on Thursday, July 28th, 2016, I believe she reached up and grasped her own Red Balloon and left all that behind. The last text she attempted to send in the moments prior to her leaving this earth was, “Oh I see…”. Obviously I will never know what she truly saw, but I choose to believe it was her own “Red Balloon” and that she grasped it with the childlike delight she possessed in everything she attempted right up to the very end of her earthly life. 

Red Balloons.php

On Sunday , August 7th 2016, a group of Family and Friends released red balloons into a blue, cottony clouded sky in her honor. I know Brenny would have been applauding with glee.

Memories………

My mother passed away this year.  As my sister and I have rummaged  through her “stuff”,  memories have flooded our thoughts like a brook overflowing a beaver dam. Many hundreds of old sepia and black and white pictures have surfaced flooding us with thoughts of times that we had forgotten and some that we had never known. Some pictures brought smiles and others tears, but all brought precious memories of family.

Searching through each box we also found stories that my mother had written and even one of mine that Mama had saved. Enjoy my memory of Sundays, a little girl, Granddaddy Horton and the porch rocker.

 

“As the sun filtered though the stained-glass window and played on the pew in front of me, I grew more and more fidgety. My mother’s hand, resting gently on my leg, reminded me to be still, but my thoughts still wandered. After all, the best part of Sunday to this 5-year-old girl had yet to come.

Each Sunday, my maternal grandparents would go home with us after church. I always loved being with Granny and Granddaddy Horton and hearing the stories of the “Old Florida” that they had grown up in…..stories of huge blood thirsty mosquitoes, rattlesnakes hiding in the orange groves, shaking their rattles in warning and panthers screaming in the night.  Nothing since has fired up my imagination quite the same.  My grandparent’s anecdotes were so colorful that I felt like I had lived through their experiences, rather than just hearing of them.

In those days, we called the noon meal “dinner”–not lunch as we do today. Sunday dinner was always wonderful. Just thinking of those tantalizing flavors causes me to salivate even now: crispy fried chicken, real mashed potatoes, creamy gravy, fresh green beans, sliced vine-ripened tomatoes, crackling corn bread with melting butter, rich chocolate cake and hand-churned vanilla ice cream, were on the menu most Sundays. But this was not what caused me to fidget each Sunday, as the Preacher’s voice droned on and on while my thoughts escaped the walls of the church.

My Granddaddy Horton was a tall, thin man with beautiful snow, white hair. I learned from my mother that his black hair had turned white in his early 30’s. This always made him appear older than he was. To me, he seemed like a kindly patriarch, such as Moses, who I learned about in Sunday School– when I wasn’t fidgeting. I was the first grandchild, so I held a privileged position.  And I never failed to let anyone know it when they challenged me for my throne–Granddaddy’s lap.

As soon as Sunday dinner was over and I was excused, I’d place my small hand in Granddaddy’s large calloused one and lead him to the porch rocker. This is where my thoughts had been leading me all day. On Sundays, our front porch became a magical place. On his cozy lap, Granddaddy would take me to marvelously exotic places with the help of the Sunday “funny papers”. As the afternoon wore on, we would explore all the places that came alive to both of us as he read of, “Little Orphan Annie”, “Alley Oop”, “Mutt and Jeff”, “Brenda Starr” and of all our other Sunday Friends. Through Granddaddy’s voice, I learned what it was like to be adopted by Daddy Warbucks, to be a comedic cave man, to live the life of a glamorous red-headed reporter, and to experience so many other exciting adventures .

I will never know if it was the love in Granddaddy’s voice, the gentle motion of the rocker or the balmy breeze that always seemed to find its way to our front porch; perhaps it was a combination of all three, but once I learned to read on my own, I was never able to recreate the spell that was cast on Sundays with Granddaddy, in a porch rocker with this little 5-year-old girl.”

 

Shalom….

Betty

 

 

 

 

 

“The day after…..”

I have been awake since 3:00 AM and up since 4:20 AM. This is not unusual for me on a work day, but my office is closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday. My internal alarm clock went off and that was it. No amount of forced eye closure or pillow over the head, could turn it off. After two cups of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie later, I remembered that I had an appointment scheduled this morning for blood work at 7:00 AM. Since I was supposed to be Fasting, the aforesaid coffee and pie made that an impossibility, so fortunately I could cancel the appointment online. Now sitting at the computer after canceling my appointment, I find myself with thoughts scrolling through my brain that I wish to share with those of you who are following our Blog or just decided to check it out today.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, 2015. The day set aside by our first president George Washington in 1789 with this proclamation.

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humble to implore His protection, aide, and favors. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th of November next, to be devoted by the people of the United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the benevolent Author of all the good that was, and is, or that will be; that we may all then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”

I knew I liked this president, I never cared for his hairdo, but I really appreciated his stance on God and Country and still do.

So how did I spend my day yesterday? First of all I woke up at my son’s house in time to spend a little mother-son time with him before he left to do a 4 mile run for the Hungry and Homeless in Palm Beach County, Florida, the “Run for the Pie”. I am so thankful for this son of ours. He  is such a “giver”.

I did not cook a single item of food yesterday. A first for me. I watched my son prepare two turkey breasts to go into his smoker before he left for his run, but my hands did not help. I had a cup of coffee and sent “Happy Thanksgiving” wishes to our daughter and family and friends via texting and Face Book, while sitting on my son’s dock watching the sea birds dive into the canal that empties into the intercoastal, searching for their “Thanksgiving Feast”. I watched about 10 minutes of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then with hugs all around, said goodbye to our son and his girlfriend. Feeling thankful, Steve and I drove away leaving them to finish preparing their contribution to the Thanksgiving Feast that they would be sharing with friends later.

Heading north on I-95, munching on Sausage McMuffins and sipping coffee, (feeling a little guilty because the employees at McDonald’s were having to work) we chatted about the wonderful visit we’d enjoyed with our son, granddaughter and our son’s girlfriend. We had watched and listened to the crystal clear voice of our granddaughter as she portrayed  Ariel, in her school’s musical  of “The Little Mermaid” two nights earlier and we were “proud as peacocks”, whatever that means, and thankful to be her grandparents.

We decided to stop in Vero Beach to visit with my sister and pick up lunch at “Boston Market”. I was again feeling a little guilty about this decision, but when I walked into “Boston Market” I was met with at least 15 smiling faces serving up Thanksgiving Fixin’s for those of us who were not spending the day in the kitchen. I wasn’t alone in my decision to not cook, the place was packed with others just like me, thankful for these young cooks and servers who shared their delight in the day, with smiles and laughter.

The time we spent with my sister was so special. We enjoyed just talking and laughing at Molly Mae, my sister’s chubby cat. None of us were hungry, so we didn’t even eat the food I had picked up, we just “feasted” on each others company. Our Mama passed away this year, June 10, 2015 and this was our first Thanksgiving without her. What could have been a very sad day for these two “Adult Orphans” was a delight, as we shared our thankfulness with each other and Steve.

Hoping to get back to our home in Volusia County, Florida before dark, we left with laughter, hugs and promises to texted when we were home safely. Once again back on I-95 North, we shared our thankfulness with each other about the perfect visit we’d enjoyed with my sister.

As we drove along the marsh land through Brevard County, we both commented on how much we loved this view. It “soothes the savage beast” in me just to be able to turn my gaze onto this panorama of grasses and water. For those of you who do not know Florida well and think of it as only beaches, which I also love, the marsh land is home to so many animals and birds and is an absolute necessity in replenishing our aquifer. We were both thankful for the recent rains we have had that keep this wonderful area of our state healthy.

Turning off of I-95 onto SR 46W., we once again chose to stop at McDonald’s for a “Hot Fudge Sundae With Peanuts”. It looked like it was closed when we pulled in, but the drive through was opened and this “sweet voiced” young woman asked to take our order. I hope she got to go home soon; she was such a sweetheart. The sundae was perfect and almost as sweet as she was. We were thankful once again.

SR 46W. to CR 415  is a two-lane road and most of it passes through marsh land that flows from the St. John’s River. It is one of our favorite drives and hard to take for granted as it meanders through three different counties, Brevard, Volusia and Seminole. If you look carefully you can see the heads of alligators in the water or maybe sunning on the banks. An occasional air boat filled with fun-loving, adventure-seeking Floridians and tourists may be observed “flying” over the marsh grasses as well.  The sun was beginning to set as we approached CR 415 and the golden rays turned the water into a shining highway for the fishermen in their boats.  This drive can cause the most cynical to be thankful for this gift of beauty from our Creator. We were.

As we pulled into our driveway, we were thankful to arrive home before the sun fully set. We knew that our five very needy indoor cats were reaching the end of their limit of being alone, even with food and water dispensers and extra litter boxes. And that our four outdoor “ferals” were wondering where their special treats were. We have a truly special neighbor who feeds our ferals when we are away. We are so thankful for her.

After caring for their needs and unloading our car, I warmed up our “Boston Market” feast in the microwave. Warming is NOT cooking. We sat and finally enjoyed this “somewhat” traditional meal. As our day came to a close, we were thankful that our stomachs were full, we had a roof over our heads, we had been with or been in touch with family and friends, but most of all that we served a loving God who made this all possible.

So as I now reminisce on this,”the day after” anything but a traditional celebration,   I wouldn’t change a minute of  it and am extremely thankful for  the benevolent Author of all the good that was, and is, or that will be.”

Shalom……

Betty

 

 

“Walk by faith,not by sight”

My husband, Steve, has been walking each morning before it becomes too hot. In his walking he has used the time to talk and listen to the Lord. As he was walking last week he felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to close his eyes as he walked down the sidewalk. The scripture from 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” came to his mind.

As he walked a short distance he became anxious about walking into the road or into the adjacent woods. He was tempted to open his eyes, as he did not feel safe. However, he kept walking and found that it became a little easier to stay on the path. He would slow down, find the edge of the sidewalk with his feet and then continue moving forward. He felt that God was helping him understand real trust through this simple exercise.

This morning I was home and was able to walk with him. It felt good to be able to share this time together. Soon we were talking about the Lord and about the lessons He is teaching us. Steve reminded me of the nudge he had last week to walk with his eyes closed. He asked me to give it a try.

I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on the road’s direction, as it is road we walk regularly. Soon I felt frightened and unsure of my ability to stay on the path. I asked Steve to hold my hand as I walked. As soon as he took my hand all fear left me. I could have continued the entire walk like that, as I had complete trust in him. I knew he would not let any harm come to me. I experienced such a feeling of “Shalom” when I placed my hand in his, in spite of the fact that I was unable to see.

I wanted to share that feeling with Steve, so I asked him to close his eyes and walk as he had previously. He closed his eyes and began to walk down the road. He walked a few steps and then I asked him to take my hand. He said, “Not yet, I want to try on my own.” He took a few more steps and then he stepped off the road where there was a sharp incline. When he stepped off the edge of the road, he felt confused and frightened.

He continued to keep his eyes closed and just stood there. I asked him, “Don’t you think it is time to let me hold your hand?” He gave me his hand and I guided him back on the road. He said that the minute he placed his hand in mine all fear left him. He began to see that the Lord had a greater lesson for us than the one he had previously received. He knew now that “walking by faith and not by sight”, meant that when we can not see where we are going, we can trust the “One” who can, and place our hand in His with complete confidence that He will show us the way.

Shalom, Betty

Hello!

Welcome to our Blog! We are a husband and wife who are in love with each other and our Lord. We know that without Him our marriage would not have made it. We celebrated 41 years of marriage this year and plan to be together until Jesus returns.

We pray that as we share what God gives us you are blessed and that you grow in His grace. We are just ordinary people who love to write. That is not to say that we are great writers, but God in His great love for us speaks into our hearts frequently and we have chosen to share what He gives us with you. Sometimes it will be Steve’s sharing and sometimes Betty’s.  We pray that you are blessed.

Steve and Betty

 

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