He would begin to wail and scream the moment we pulled in the parking lot.  He knew what awaited.  He was just a toddler, but Brett knew he would be poked, prodded, and pulled on.  Because he had been born so critically ill, doctor visits were a constant in those early years.  Much like Palov’s dog, he had been conditioned to know pain was coming.  He’d hurl screams, flail his arms and legs in hopes his mother would turn the car around and protect him from the agony that awaited. But as good mothers know and do, though the process was painful, it was a necessary avenue that would lead to physical well-being.  


What emotions, does this word stirrup in you reader?

The forgiveness path is a hard one, and everyone’s journey is personal and different.  I’m here to share mine.  It is not necessarily an article on why forgiveness is important (though it is), or the Lisa Beasley’s “Road to Forgiveness” manual.  It is simply my story, a very small window into a very long journey. It is raw, uncomfortable, and unfiltered at times, so beware.  It is about a heart that fought hard to be unshackled, and if somehow it speaks encouragement, I am here for that.  I am also not naïve and know some are here for curiosity.  That’s okay too.  I am here for that as well.  😊 My whole story has yet to be told, and it will in time. 

 First, I will start with confession.  Confession on how many sermons and bible studies I have attended on forgiveness and still didn’t understand it. Oh, I thought I did!  That’s for sure! I have taught on the subject to large groups of ladies, small gatherings, and even wrote a blog about it. I thought I was a walking testimony due to the fact I didn’t carry around bitterness. After all, we’ve all been hurt by someone at some point or another, and I had managed it well.

  I don’t hold grudges, don’t take things too personally, and I usually think the best in people. If my feelings do get hurt, I move on quickly.  I don’t think that is anything unique or grand about me.  I didn’t work hard to manage proper emotions.  I think it’s because I was loved very well as a child, and the people in my life growing up never talked badly about family or friends.  I “caught” the virtue of thinking the best in people growing up, and not questioning motives.  (By the way, attitudes are more caught, than taught in the home.)

 Oh, we teased each other and possibly poked fun at other’s idiosyncrasies, but never with malice or from a place of ill-intent. I think with my genetic wiring and good people around me; I grew to forgive easily and move on; and I really had a hard time with others who couldn’t.  Even as a pastor’s wife for so many years (almost 32 years!), I don’t know people who’ve wronged me where I took personal offense.  If I unknowingly hurt others and made aware, I was quick to make it right.  So, in my eyes, people who couldn’t forgive were deemed needy, petty, and emotionally whacked by their own doings a lot of the time.  Until the year 2018.

2018-2020 were years of excruciating pain for me. During the year the country was facing a pandemic, I was fighting a personal pandemic of my own. A pandemic of hatred that was beginning to penetrate, take root, and take on a life of its own. For sake of details that just have no value in the story, I won’t go there today.  But I will say, the one who promised to forever love me, choose only me, protect me, didn’t.  Not only did he not, but he also became cruel and abandoned me. I was discarded like an old shoe within months. Without warning. So much so, we all wondered brain tumor? Nervous breakdown? No. Evil?

In his own words, “I understand your anger, I abandoned you physically, emotionally, and spiritually……I walked away, and I didn’t care.” He didn’t own the financial piece, but he abandoned that too. I had spent 32 years with my heart safe with him. Or at least I willed to believe that.  Maybe at my core I always knew differently; that some people are incapable of the depth of love, commitment, or connection God requires to sustain a marriage. These people eventually think you’re the problem and cause for their unhappiness.  They find another willing partner they believe will fill the emptiness and voids they believe you cannot…only to find intimacy was not lasting in another either.

 At first the detachment in 2018 was slow.  Very slow. Confusing. Confusion soon led to disbelief. Disbelief to despair.  Despair to hopelessness.  Hopelessness in its fullness led to hatred.

Here’s a little backstory. Life was hard for us for most of our marriage.  Our first born was born at 26 weeks gestation (three months early) and was critically ill for quite a while. We lost our only daughter a few months old to meningitis.  One son lives with debilitating epilepsy and rebelled against his limitations as a teen and the things we valued as a family.  Another son had lost his entire second half of his senior year due to scoliosis so severe it led to an entire back fusion that left him in ICU for longer than expected. He had a long recovery.  He too was trying to find his way.  We were on our second church plant, and only months after renovating our new church home, it burned down to the ground. The rebuild was hard and unfruitful at times.  I really could go on, but in the end, the burden and weight of it all was too much, and my husband left for a different life two states away abandoning all we had known as a family. I was attached to every disappointment of his in life and therefore, again in his own words, “after so much ‘ridiculousness,’ I had enough.”

Now you must understand that this is the man whom I thought adored me, thought I was a gift to him, appreciated me, loved me in word and deed.  The world of people we knew thought the same. We built an entire life together.  We enjoyed each other’s company and prayed through the hard times.  It wasn’t a perfect marriage, but we worked hard at finding ways to love each other better along the way.  We worked hard at making each other the priority of our lives. Everyone who knew us, including our four boys, would attest to this truth.

 When he left, I felt humiliated and left behind to answer to our friends, family, and dazed community while he moved on with his new life, two states away with someone else and completely fell off the radar; went into hiding. He embarrassed our boys.  He was nasty and cruel to us and our friends.

For the first time, I was faced with forgiving at depths I couldn’t have ever imagined.  I remember thinking, this depth of hurt is the kind that changes who you are. The Christian faith became a blurry mess, no matter how grounded in the Bible and faith I was.

I finally understood why traumatized people are left broken and shackled to their pain, often for years.

 I have always enjoyed and loved people from all walks of life, but I began to think the world was not safe.  People aren’t to be trusted.  It all rushed in on me.  I felt like a hypocrite for not being more sensitive to people’s wounds and stories of grief, loss, and betrayal.

My personal losses were numerous in those few years after he left.  I had lost the life I knew as a pastor’s wife.  I lost my work family I loved. (I changed schools to better my career right before.) My church family I had loved so dearly was no longer my church home. And my personal nuclear family was crumbling. My life was a splintered mess!  Without doubt, I had also lost my way too.

Now here I was, shackled to my sadness and anger.  I was unable to move forward and past it no matter how hard I tried. Deep seated anger I had never felt before was born, took root and was flourishing at a neck breaking pace. It scared me that I could feel such!  The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it?”  That means, we don’t even understand what all we are capable of doing and feeling when we’ve been wronged, pushed aside or discarded; or when evil resides within.

I was grounded enough to know, and friends reminded me, forgiveness was for me and not for the one who wronged me. I was asked multiple times if I had forgiven him as if this was a one and done kind of get out of jail card to use that would set me free and on a path of happiness.

I knew unforgiveness was and is a cancer.  It slowly rots the heart, metastasizing to every thought, experience, and relationship.  Unforgiveness puts us in a self-made prison to which only we hold the key. I knew all this.  I taught on this! Yet, I was unable to tap into it.  Funny how I had all the resources and knowledge, but I was paralyzed to access it.

Before I get to the steps of finally forgiving that worked for me, understand I have no secret ingredient except for the Word of God which commands to forgive and love, regardless of the crime or the person, and the Holy Spirit that guides the heart into stepping into the messy hard places. Only Jesus can help you through the process.  For me, it was baby steps; teeny, tiny, baby steps.

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” OUCH!!

In the beginning (actually for the first two years), to allow my heart and mind to consider forgiveness, felt like another betrayal in itself; a betrayal of my feelings. I loathed him for what was being manifesting in my boys and in me for such selfishness.  The hatred I felt scared me, but at the same time, it felt good to hate him.  (I warned you this was raw!) I felt entitled to the hate. He had moved on, and I was stuck.  I hated him for that too.  Hate, loathe, disgust, all felt at home within for a time. They were welcomed visitors. The same words my boys were never allowed to say as children, were now household words in my mind.

God gave me permission to have this moment in life to be angry.  To FEEL the all the emotions. Until the joy of the Lord that once anchored me in times of trouble, began to erode. Joy had been the very thing that had always given me my strength!  The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  I was becoming that old bitter woman I vowed I would never be, no matter how hard life’s circumstances become. 

 People asked my closest friends, “What can we do?”  The answer always the same.  Pray for her.  That is what she needs most.  I was in such a funk, that even praying for myself was not a safe place for me.  I had always been a prayer warrior, for myself and my friends; but this season of anguish, I could not. Praying and voicing my pain took me to dark places.  It spiraled me to speak aloud or silently the pain of betrayal. My mind would drift to my own self-pity. I sometimes managed to whisper, Oh God, please help me.  That was all I could do.

But it was okay.  I never felt guilty for my feelings or not praying because God is bigger than all that.  He can handle my ugliest. (Isn’t he just the best!?)

Remember Brett? I was like Brett recognizing the hospital’s parking lot.  I was pitching an emotional fit on the inside! Any sight (church), sound (worship music), holiday, love song (or cheating song), sent me into an internal toddler rage while feeling strapped into a toddler car seat and unable to escape. 

Either God is omniscient (and he is), or he isn’t. And if he is, I had to trust he would bring me to the other side.  Even if it mangled me to get there, pitching a holy fit the whole way!

On top of my personal anguish, I had very difficult teaching years 2019-2021. (Think pandemic!) How eternally grateful I am for the co-workers and friends in my life.  They were lifelines to me.  I also had others helping with the logistics of divorce when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and shut the world out. I would have never made it without them.  That is why investing in people is vital in life.  They will be your lifeline when tragedy occurs. (That is a blog for another time.) 

I had to camp out in all the feelings trauma offered and embraced them for a season, because I knew they would show up elsewhere and make other relationships toxic if I pushed them down. Unhealed hurt people, go on to hurt others.  It is very true. I desired healing.  But I also knew dismissing my hurt would hinder my healing, and I would forever limp emotionally. 

While all this grieving was taking place, God was working a new creation and world for me.  One that would look much different.

In the following year, I found out several things: If you belong to the Lord, you can’t and won’t stay long in the place of bitterness. He won’t let you….and only God can tell you when that time is up! I think the deeper the level of betrayal or grievance, the greater the grace period.

My counselor who has specialized in clergy betrayal for 30 years said to me when I asked how long would it take for me to move forward without all the shame and pain?  She responded, “About three years; but that is because you are doing the hard work.”  I remember thinking, I’ll never make it. 

It has been almost four. And I made it! I did the work! We all know people who live a lifetime in this place of torment.  I beg you to do the hard work, heal, and forgive!

Here are the steps that finally worked for me:

1. Speak out loud what has been taken and stolen, preferable to a trusted friend or counselor and declare the person in your mind guilty as charged.  Acknowledge God is the only one who can determine the sentence in his way and time.  AND TRUST that in doing so, He will restore you. Then you must dismiss the case.

2.  And here is where it gets tricky, but it’s the most important step for me.  (Remember, I said teeny, tiny, baby steps!) Practice forgiveness daily!  In time, you will need to do this less and less. When the wave of feelings, I can’t believe he did this to us comes over me (Remember I was married for nearly 32 years!), I again repeat scripture, recognize what was stolen, release the debt owed, set him free, and dismiss the case.  Whew! Over and over! It started moment by moment, then day by day, until it became week by week, month by month, and now only occasionally. That is a lot of mental and emotional work! But friend, it is so worth it!

Joy will replace the sorrow in time.  You cannot allow those visitors of hate and his friends take up residence.  They are only visitors for a short time! New relationships will be had.  The sustaining grace of God will be recognized. (And boy has it!!) God will restore what the locust has eaten as the scripture declares. If you don’t see it in your future (as I didn’t and couldn’t for a long while), let others see it for you until you can. Rely on their vision for you of God’s goodness that’s in store.

The whole premise of the Christian faith is grace and forgiveness.  Without it, there is no Christianity.  God knew we needed grace, and we needed forgiveness.  He gave it in Jesus.  Christianity all hinges on a penalty paid by One who did no crime of His own, yet He paid the world’s sin in full, and did it to set us free, all for love. God knew, this grand yet horrific event of dying a cruel death on a wooden cross, would remind us how to sacrificially love others who have wronged us.  It’s such a beautiful thing to witness when one truly sees and experiences the grace of God for the first time! Their life is forever changed.  When we, I, extend that same grace, even with a broken, crippled, shriveled, extended hand, God somehow infuses us with healing and hope.  It is a supernatural experience. God can replace hatred with love. That my friend, is miraculous, and only God can do it!  (Insert a very loud evangelical Baptist hallelujah!!)

I will end with this. I have heard the saying “cracked and broken places are where the light shines through.” I agree. But sometimes, there is nothing, but ashes left behind, and there is no patching, gluing, or rebuilding something totally decimated. Something brand new must be created from the ashes. Something grander and better. 

Just like Brett will never know how painful it was for me to watch his emotional agony when he saw the hospital parking lot, I knew the doctors held the necessary means to wholeness and health.  God understands and knows there is a process to the other side of betrayal that has its own journey of thorns and briers to get to the beautiful clearing. 

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, that will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, the flames will not consume you.”

Life will always be hard.  Life will always have difficulty.  The Bible attests to this from Genesis to Revelations.  But He is always infusing the believer strength that comes with joy.  He renews his spirit within us until we are whole and with Jesus one day. So, for the believer “the best is always yet to come.”  And for me right now I am living my best life yet, and there is always more to come! (Insert another hallelujah…Baptist style!)


Let us agree that today we will not say, God has a bigger plan and He is in control.

Today we say we ache for what has been taken and we long for what used to be. 

Let us agree today, we will not look for better days but instead grieve and embrace the pain that comes with loss.  Let us be angry for the person that failed us or for the accident that could have been prevented if God really cared.

Let us agree today we feel all the injustice that comes with the overflow of sin done at the hands of another.

Let us agree today, it is not only okay to feel the pain, hurt and injustice, but it’s necessary for hope to be planted and trust in an omniscient God restored.

Tomorrow, we will agree to rise and search for purpose and meaning.  But not today.

Today is meant for grieving.  

Standing Strong

Recently I was traveling with a friend down a somewhat familiar road.  It is a growing area with lots of road changes and recent construction.  There in the distant, were two large oak trees close to the road.  We both commented how beautiful they were standing in all their glory, amidst all the wreckage of construction.  We were amazed they were still standing at all.

No doubt these two oak trees were aged enough to have seen their share of life.  Harsh winters, droughts, excessive winds leaving the branches bare and bark brittle and broken.

I imagine harsh conditions over the many bitter winters and scorching summers caused the trees to dig their roots deep and wide in order to embrace future challenges. They stood tall, large, and majestic as if to communicate “Life didn’t break us.”

And neither did the construction.

The branches and the trunk took the beating while the roots lay under the ground holding steady. Growing deep and strong.  Stretching for the nutrients that would ensure survival.  Rooting deep for the buried water that would bring healing. The roots are the giver of life.

As my friend and I commented on the beauty of the two old trees, we also acknowledged the trauma they must have experienced with all the road construction.  “It had to be devastating right here by the road and all the pollution too” she said.   “How in the world did they survive?”

In natural disasters, trees will adapt. However outside trauma, by human hands, such as ground construction, will often traumatize the root, the life source, and beauty will start to give way to fatigue and die.  A very slow death.  It takes a while to even know if they will survive; much like a cancer patient fighting the battle that wages within.  Unfortunately, only time will tell.


It can shake us to our core.  It can come out of nowhere and leave our roots torn, broken, snapped.  It will cause you to question all you knew to be right, true, and faithful in your life.  On the onset, you think this can’t be happening.  You move forward trying to continue your way normally as if acting normal will bring about normal.  Because isn’t normal supposed to give you a sense of……well normalcy when life is crumbling?

Trauma takes form in different ways:  unexpected death, betrayal of a spouse, divorce, job loss, and now even the unknowns of a pandemic.  These things can be considered just life events, but for some people, any one of these can trigger a traumatic episode, leaving a person immobilized, paralyzed to think, react, perform at a job.  Grief can manifest itself in a slow death if it is not cared for.

“Would you like your milk in a bag?”  It is the question I am asked every single time I buy milk at the grocery store.  I always answer the same, “Yes, please.”  But this time was different.  I couldn’t answer.  I was unable to process the simple question.  As I stood frozen, I was also looking at my debit card in the card reader asking for my pin number that I had used for the last hundred years……again, not able to process or press the keyboard.  My autopilot was also in dying phase and there was no one or nothing that could help me.  I finally uttered, “I don’t know the answer.  Just please make a decision for me.”

Soon after, I turned my car into on-coming traffic, three feet in front of a car, totaling mine and the other. (I had a track record of no accidents or tickets for 25 years.)  This was moments after I left my debit card, coffee, and a sandwich at Starbucks.   Fortunately, no one was hurt.  I sat in the hospital room, where my son asked what I thought were random questions trying to piece together like a puzzle the events of my morning. Again, I had no answers. I had no memory.

Am I losing my mind?  I knew the answer was a definite yes.

As a Special Education teacher, we are trained to look for the signs of trauma: loss of concentration, loss of memory, unfocused, distracted, frustration, inflexibility in changes of routine are all signs.  But I couldn’t recognize any of this in me. I just tried to push through each day and wasn’t doing a very good job.

I am a strong believer in the sovereignty of God, and I consider myself what I thought a strong oak tree that had battered many storms of life, and I was still standing strong……. until now.

My roots were in triage. Damaged.

Another friend gently said to me, “Lisa, you are experiencing PTSD”  (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome).

I realized she was right.  The liberty to share publicly what event took place, I cannot just yet.

I must tell you though, God is in the small things as much as He is in the large.  “Seek me and you shall find me,” the Lord says. I knew this scripture to be true, but I was unable to seek. I was that bad.   I had to have others intercede for me.  And that was okay.  I did not know the errand my friend and I were on was going to prove to be a part of the healing.

As we drove past the oak trees, I thought about my own trauma and how if God can see fit for me to see those two trees standing beautiful and strong with those ugly orange construction cones within five feet, He can and will do so within me.  A small hope was planted.

And here is the truly “God part” of this particular story.  The part where God is in the small things……. wait for it.  I got home and had in my mailbox a card from another dear precious friend.  And on the front, an oak tree!  On the inside?  An analogy about the strength of oak trees!

Scarred roots are not pretty, but they are tough.  Scars are designed to make the injured area stronger.  Stronger than before. Yes, the storms of life continue to rage at times, but my roots are becoming stronger through family, friends, and faith.  These ARE my roots.  Without them, I’d surely perish a hundred times over.

And now as I type,  I see in my mind those majestic oak trees layered with dust and debris. I will close with a poem and the words of an Elton John song, “I’m still standing after all this time, better than I’ve ever been, looking like a true survivor.”


A mighty wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

green tree photo

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground while others fells all around.

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing oak?”

The tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two,

Carry every leaf away,

Shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll NEVER touch them for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

Of just how much I could endure.

But now I’ve found with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I never know.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Stars and Scars

Jackson, my third son, has always been emotionally intelligent.  He feels things deeply though his expressions are masked by a very predictable and consistent placid demeanor.  We often tease him when the rest of us are belly-laughing at movies like Elf or Mall Cop. “Jackson come on! Just let it all out and let us HEAR a hardy loud laugh from the gut!”

“I am laughing,” he says.  His chuckle barely audible.

He is a constant source of predictability; always kindhearted, always the first to recognize pain in someone, always offering a word of hope or love.  He is about the only thing predictable in my life at times.

He is also the one with epilepsy.

No doubt God knew he would take this thorn with all its aggravations and limitations and be stubborn enough to push through life regardless….He continues walking (pun intended….because he can’t drive), his path in life, determined to make his dream of becoming an Audio Engineer come true.

I remember when he was about 7 years old and we were on a camping trip in the north Georgia mountains.  We were an adventurous family and tent camping was the only way to go.  (And when I say “we,” I mean the five boys.)  It was pitch dark one night.  We were walking a trail with a flashlight when we came to a clearing where the sky was blanketed with thousands of sparkling lights that resembled tiny diamonds across a black velvety backdrop.  He was mesmerized.  With what little I knew about the constellations, I began pointing out the Big Bear, Little Dipper, Orion, and such. He was in awe and he loved it.

A month later, we were outside our home when the night dropped in on us and the streetlights came on.  Jackson asked, “Why don’t we have stars like the north Georgia mountains?”  I realized he thought the stars were specific to location and his little immature mind had not the understanding of the universe.  “Oh, they’re there,” I said.  “They are lost in the pollution, bright city lights, and layered behind the ominous clouds that are hovering close to the ground tonight.  But make no mistake Jackson, the same stars you saw camping are right here tonight too.”  I went on to tell him, “Though we move and our earths turns, the stars remain.  Our experience of them is different because our eyes cannot see them due to all the obstacles.”

So, it is with our wonderful Creator.  He changes not.  He cannot deny His own character of love and goodness just because our circumstances stink.  He doesn’t possess those character traits; He IS those traits.  He is unmovable.  When the storm clouds of life roll in by no act of our own, when the pollution of a fallen world creeps in, when the lights of sin are blinding, the greatness AND goodness of God, IS STILL THERE, moving the chess pieces of our life.

The game of life can often FEEL like chance.  When our hope is founded on a sovereign Lord, we can rest in the assurance that everything, including unforeseeable deaths, bad choices of sin (ours and others that touch ours) is ALL filtered through his omniscient and sovereign hand.  I don’t know how it all works, but I do know it is all meant to lead us home.  This world and its never ending, relentless disappointments and unmet expectations, are just a means to keep the heart longing for home.  This world is not where we belong.

Jackson,  now a young man, still very intuitive and full of compassion, says, “I’m making my pain my message.” He walks to work most days and uses his paycheck on Uber money to travel across town to school where in five months he will graduate.  He asked me last week to take him two hours away on a Saturday to visit a dying great aunt. He asked me!!  What 21-year-old wants to spend his whole Saturday with his mom and visit an aged aunt?  I will tell you.  One that has learned life is hard, it is fragile, people are important, and there are no guarantees this side of heaven.

His epilepsy has had great impact on how he lives.  His seizures are debilitating.  They are gut-wrenching for those who witness them.  They leave him in recovery for weeks as his body heals from shocked muscles, brain trauma, memory loss, and a wounded chewed up raw tongue. Sometimes leaving him unable to talk or eat for days. He has learned he must carry-on.

Life throws challenges at us.  Some we create, but some are just because we live in a fallen world.  I heard a pastor recently preach that God gave Adam and Eve a thousand “yeses” and one “no.” And we know how that turned out. Our world was never the same after sin entered.

Though our world is no longer perfect and is now flawed, our desire for wholeness is still very present. The desire for perfection was placed in the spirit of Adam and Eve and lives within each heart of man to this day. It is how the human spirit is wired. It is not the cruelty of God that created us for perfection, it is His mercy…. least we never desire a better place.  It is the very thing that drives us towards home. It leads us to long for heaven and pursue the peace that only God can provide when life’s expectations go unmet over and over again.

Just like the stars in sky remain when they are not visible, God remains and he can be trusted to be faithful to all his promises. He is behind the mess of our lives orchestrating the Chess pieces.  HE WILL bring peace and joy for the heart that holds on.

(okay….on a side note…..I just had a visual of another board game.  The game Sorry.  It almost seems a more appropriate game illustration here. The objective of the game is to get all your pieces “HOME;” but  other people keep knocking you back to the starting point sarcastically  saying, “sorry.” I digress)

A life without physical or emotional pain is attainable for none this side of heaven. But we all want it.  For those whose hope is in Jesus, there is a guarantee that it awaits.  Just hold on dear one.

In the meantime, straighten your crown and go on praising the ONE that holds the whole world in HIS hands. Stars and all. (Cue the toddler tune.)

“Weeping my last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”



And Just Like That….I’m Done.

Most everyone who knows me, knows Scott and I  raised four boys.  They were and  are the joy of my life, but if being honest, they have also given  me a run for my money…….. from just simply being boys.  They were constantly on the go; mentally, verbally, and definitely physically.

When they were small, we had enormous medical expenses along with a shoestring budget, so sending them to preschool (for a few minutes of relief :))was only optional for one year……..for one child.  The other years, they were with me….all……the……time.  So for eight years, I had children in tow 24/7.

I remember Carson, my youngest was so ready to start Kindergarten.  He had watched his older brothers hop on the bus for years and this was the big day for him to do the same.  Of course we prepared for weeks.  When the Big Cheese (bus) finally rolled up, he jumped for joy and waved out the window without a moment of  hesitation or needing reassurance from mom.  He’s so ready for this, I thought.  So with joy, I waved back knowing he would love his new adventure as a big kid in the big school.

Moments later, my phone was ringing off the hook ( for you younger generation, that’s an idiom that means falling off the wall mount from ringing so much), with friends and family wondering how I was feeling sending my last one off to school.  Are you kidding me????  Six hours to myself?  This was freedom like I had not known before!  Heaven!  Of course I found myself in the weeks to come longing for my family to return home and the chaos to resume.

That same child graduated from high school in May and is leaving for college on Friday.  I know, he my LAST one.  As much as he is ready, and as giddy with excitement I am for him, I know this time it will be different.  I wrote him a poem/letter in hopes to convey what he means to me.  I am so proud and love all my boys, but with the last child leaving for college, I know it closes the door on my most important job ever on Friday.  With permission, I share…..sniff, sniff.

(****some things referenced in the poem may not make sense unless you’re a Beasley :))


Dearest Carson,

As the Disney song says, “It’s a Whole New World,” and indeed it is for you.  You have been preparing for this your whole life.  You couldn’t be more ready.  You’re standing on the precipice and I couldn’t be happier for you.  I couldn’t be prouder of you either.  As happy as I am for you, for me I have been dreading this moment your whole life.  In the moment I held you for the first time, I knew you’d be my final bow in the role I hold  most dear….the role of motherhood.

Though I know you are a man, and most males are not sentimental,  I cannot help but put into words a snapshot of your life and how I have loved being your mom as you dive off into this world of independence.  No doubt, you will walk with confidence into your ‘New World” and carve a path just right for you.

In my final bow, I’ve written you a poem in hopes somehow it reflects my heart.


August 23, 2000,  you have arrived

Cries in the night, and spit-up on my clothes

Squishy fat legs and pink smooth toes

You made us all feel alive


Two years later, with a toy truck cake, you turned two

And a mom’s wish for time to linger

with your “night-night” you  point to cows with finger

Giggles, tantrums,  to name a few


I’d be there in the nights when you were three

Water-wings, batman shoes,“ting-tings,” and cow moos

Grandmother, Granddad, Nana, Dad and  me

Aunt Kay, Uncle Brad and Aunt Kathy


Time continued and you went forth

Rocks filled your pockets, and dirt filled you ears

At night I tuck you in and pray away your fears

For I knew one day you’d follow your true North


Middle school came and went too fast

Social Studies’ fairs, Football games,

“Doin’ the Dean” and the Watermin name

It’s all now in rear view’s past


And here we are high school complete

 first car, first job, first girl

and attitude to take the world

It’s a new adventure you now seek


It’s the footprints we as parents leave

 that’s evident in your heart

As the college years you must start

And your home you no longer cleave


With others first, so humble and kind

Jesus, love, empathy and grace

Daily seeking God’s face

Things to bring you joy you’ll find


So, go my son, your call to unfurl

Work hard, love deep

See the best in others you meet

And greet your adventure, for “It’s a Whole New World.”

Love always,





I have lived in my home for over 16 years. We bought it at the thrust of Cherokee County’s booming new growth. It came in all forms from new homes, businesses, and four lane streets lined with beautiful chromed street signs and lamp posts, to new shopping malls with the latest eateries and fashion stores. Still you wouldn’t have to drive very far in any direction to find small two-lane roads littered with farm houses.  As every walk of life was migrating here, the indigenous people of Cherokee County were hanging on to their country southern roots with all their might as the vice grip of modernism/progressivism squeezed in harder every day.

As I enjoyed the polished new look of my town, I also grieved the loss of a way of life of many around me.  I took note of one person whom I never met in particular. It began many years ago and culminated this week.

I shop at the Kroger a few miles up the road. Kroger was the matriarch store that paved the way for many other places to take up residence those initial years after we moved here.  First the new Wendy’s, then the Great Clips and later a mexican Restaurant.  I enjoyed all the luxuries these new establishments offered one by one; thinking little of the homes that once littered the area.

I used the same exit of the parking lot most every time I went.   I always noticed a house that sat right across the street.  The house seemed to be stuck in a time-warp.  I guessed an elderly woman must live there because she had Begonias and Pansies nicely planted every spring, and her tidy carport housed an older, but pristine Oldsmobile.  The land around her house untouched and undisturbed with white oaks and pine trees. Farther up the hill, there was a pasture with an old wooden barn barely visible from the road.  I often wondered what this surrounding area must have looked like many moons ago when perhaps she or her parents had the house built. It was sad to think how her view out her front widow must look vastly different from years ago.

It just so happen to be that Highway 5  (where the house and Kroger now sit) was also the little two-lane road I traveled as a little girl to my Grandmother’s house from my home on the southside of Atlanta.  We took this highway countless times through small town after small town traveling north.  Today, there is a large interstate that runs on the other side of the road. It was paved during my early twenties.  It certainly makes the trip up north much faster and convenient; but not as interesting. Over the years, when I exited the parking lot, I wondered if I ever noticed this house as a little girl when we traveled.  Not having all the electronic devices of today, I would sit and stare out the windows and wonder about people’s lives inside the homes that were dotted alongside the road.  (Yes, I was one of those strange little girls…..just ask my aunts.)

Then it happened……..I went shopping one spring day and notice the grass waist high.  No new flowers were planted.  On my next visit, the car was no longer there. The house looked abandoned. I wondered if the lady was either in a nursing home or had died.   Little by little, the once lived in home where I imagined a family being raised and children running free in the woods and pasture out back, was becoming a desolate, abandoned home where the windows were no longer visible due to the overgrown bushes.  A wave of sadness ushered in.

Over the Christmas break this year, I darted to Kroger for a last-minute run before the crazy of Christmas Eve began and noticed as I did my usual exit, a bulldozer was parked in the driveway.  Today as I drove by, the bulldozer was hard at work knocking down trees.  The home lay in a heap of wooden boards and shattered glass.

Why does this affect me so?   I guess it is because I have yet to find the balance between appreciating my roots (and those of who I don’t really know but feel like I’ve lived their life in some small way) and launching into the future with appreciation for all the good progress can bring.  I think I am afraid of people being forgotten if their things aren’t around to remind us of their life lived.

In talking to my aunt the other day, I was expressing  how my younger self would scourge and scoff at the older generation who was not willing to change within the church to reach the younger generation and those far from God. I was like the bulldozer ready to take down anything that stood in the way of kingdom building.  I remember having the attitude how dangerous it is to be so wasteful with time and resources all for the sake of tradition and nostalgia.

Now that I am the older generation, I better understand why it is so hard to let go of pews, paintings and steeples and make way for multi-purposed buildings, worship centers, and parking lots.

When I think of the little white church built on my granddaddy’s land being demolished to make way for a growing congregation, I shudder.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it is in an area of rapid growth and it could be around the corner.  And then I am ashamed of my selfishness.

There really is no point to this blog today except to say I fight the urge and the self-serving attitude to stop the madness and keep it simple.  Simplicity has its place, but not in the church world.  We need to keep progressing because we are running out of time to reach people as our world grows darker by the day.

We have to have a place to house the broken, to minister to the children, to reach the lost.  We must build the kingdom and build the buildings to house those we bring in. We must be on mission to see futuristic needs, problems and prepare for solutions until Christ’s return.  If you are like me, stuck in “official old thinking” (looking backward, more than looking forward), stop it!  (This is a reminder to me as well.)

The church must wake up and stop playing silly church games of “this is how we have always done it” and “my grandmother painted that picture of Jesus in the vestibule.” (Jesus didn’t have those big bug eyes and colorful robe anyway. J) If it means to abandon your preferences for the sake of bringing others in to the fold, then we must.

The truth of the matter is, had I not been reminded often through my trips to the grocery store, I probably would have never noticed the house. The woman’s legacy is not in the heap of broken boards and shattered glass.  It is within those that come behind her. What did she leave within them that they too will one day leave behind?

It is what we leave behind in the HEARTS of others that continues to live. Eventually all material things erode, but not that which is immaterial….even when your name is no longer attached to it; even when the faces have faded and names forgotten.  I don’t know what my great grandfather’s favorite food or color was, or whether he played the guitar, but I do know he loved the Lord. He left behind countless evidence of it. (Thank you, Miles Turner, for your faithfulness.)

I bet many reading this have no clue who started the church in which you now receive continuous blessings. You may not know who sacrificed so hard and so long so that the Gospel goes out from the walls built from which you sit.  Our (yours and mine) lives make a difference long after our things have perished or have been torn down when (and if) we’ve sewn them properly into lives we know, and by proxy in the lives of those of the future through our willingness to let go.

(And now cue the Disney music…..Let it go, Let it go…)

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.  Isaiah 40:8

And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.Luke 14:23



Recently I drove my family home from Ft. Lauderdale which is about an 11-hour drive. Everyone in my family knows I can’t see at night to drive. My eyes play all kinds of tricks on me with lights. My depth perception becomes ambiguous too. But here we were on the last leg of our journey, thirty minutes from home when darkness descends. Long travel rides, especially the return ride, the last hour is daunting and seems to take F….O…. R….E….V….E….R. All the roadside places are familiar and give a sense of home, yet you still have that last  thirty minute drive. And nobody wants to stop.

Several of my boys encouraged me if I could not see, to stop and let them drive. “No, I got this,” I explained. “Everything is familiar, so I should be fine.”

Truth of the matter, the darkness seemed eerily dark. I kept trying to turn on my lights because surely, they weren’t on. Yep, they were. Dang. OK, I got this, I reasoned. To stop now just minutes from home and change seats and drivers seemed crazy. Just stay in the right lane and focus and get home!

As I finally slung the car in the garage, thankful the stress was over, I walked in the kitchen and switched on the light. Wow, my eyes are a mess because I still can not see! I mean I can’t see hardly anything!

Then I realized it. I had my sunglasses on the whole time!!! (And before you deem me idiot, nobody else in the family noticed either. I blame it on exhaustion!) 😊

No wonder things seemed much worse than they really were.

Unforgiveness……It clouds everything. It’s the subject I am asked most about. It holds us captive and takes down family and friends with it.  But its counterpart, forgiveness, frees us from emotional bondage and enables life to be restored in dead places.

There is a saying, “Forgiveness sets the prisoner free, only to find out the prisoner is you.” It is so very true, but nevertheless the hardest thing to live out.

I have been in ministry a long time. I’ve lived even longer and have seen both ends played out. The former lays groundwork for inner peace and joy, and the latter gives way to bitterness and anger that seep into the innocent lives around us.

God knows unforgiveness is a malignancy used to thwart His goodness; and so does Satan. It is one of Satan’s chief tools to dismantle hearts, churches, relationships, and families. I’ve seen it in all of these. I’ve experienced it in some too.

God’s Word is full of His forgiveness toward mankind. We are broken people shaped by our pasts and experiences that lead us to break His heart almost daily. Yet His Word tells us, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “He demonstrated His love for us in that while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us.” His continual forgiveness is for past, current and future sins. He is a good Father!

But on a personal level, in the day to day life it is a hard thing to live out forgiveness towards our fellow mankind. When friends, family, children, co-workers sin against us knowingly or unknowingly on a REPEAT basis, causing pain and hurt over and over, without resolve, without confession, or even worse, in false justification (“I have a right to do so because YOU” attitude), how is one to respond to the co-worker who belittles you in front of others; the teenage daughter who hurls insults at your short comings daily; the husband with his snide comments that cause you to feel unloved or abandoned? Relationships can be messy, downright nasty.

God in His infinite wisdom knew unforgiveness would be the hang-up in relationships. But fortunately for us, He had the perfect antidote. LOVE.

“Love one another……. forgiving one another just as Christ has forgiven you.” “Above all, love each other DEEPLY, because love covers a multitude of sin.” “Do not seek revenge or BEAR A GRUDGE but love your neighbor as yourself. “These are examples of just a few.

So, if we now know the antidote, how do you live this love out? What does that look like in the home? At the work place? How do you love and forgive when the pain is deep or the hurt ongoing? Ask yourself the question, Is there a measure of truth to their accusation? Maybe it was delivered wrongly, but is there an area of this accusation you (I) could make improvements? If there is, own it! Confess it and work on it regardless of the manner it came your way. Defensiveness is never your friend unless you are totally guilt free. Which if we are honest, we have a stake in some measure of wrong most of the time.

People act flawed because we are flawed. When you are hurt by another, the other person was trying to have some need met. What do you think this need is and why did the person go about it in such a hurtful way? Understanding brings about a willingness to put forth the effort for change. Hurt people will hurt people. But with God’s love and power of the Holy Spirit, you can be the one to break the cycle!!

If you can limit your time with this person, of course the obvious answer would to do just that. Love big in small doses……incrementally over time. If it is a family member, loving unlovable people takes discipline, but in time the benefits far out way the effort.

I am NOT advocating being a doormat for someone’s abuse. NEVER. I believe you teach people how to treat you. And with children, this begins at an early age. Don’t be shocked when a teenager vomits verbal disrespect all over you when you’ve allowed sassy talk (because it was soooooo cute) from the age two. (Blog for another time.) But with adults and extended family, friends, co-workers begin by communicating your need to be respected and keeping the doors open for change. Do not wall people off. We are all a work in progress.

Once when I was  young and newly married, I followed my husband around our house berating him when he said something I thought was hateful. I guess I thought shaming him into conviction would be a good solution.  Shaming never accomplishes that intent and it breeds resentment.  Not true change.

Like in all relationships and marriages, He still unintentionally hurts me time to time, and I still disappoint and hurt him, but understanding we are all a work in progress gives not only the ability to forgive, but the freedom to not be perfect and still feel and be loved. We’ve all hurled unintended grievances to those we love to only wish we could snatch back our words or deeds later.

When pride is dropped (“I deserve better,” “I don’t have to put up with this mess” attitudes), it gives time for the Holy Spirit to dig into the heart and deal with the cancer. Its food source is anger and bitterness. If not dealt with, this cancer is certain to metastasize to other healthy relationships given enough time.

Okay, so how to live with constant hurt? Gently communicate how their words/actions hurt you and causes you pain. Ask for forgiveness on your part and work on the area of shortcoming. (Maybe it’s a negative attitude, or nagging talk that unleashed someone’s anger on you.) Find meaning and joy in your life apart from them. Thrive in an area that gives you happiness and invite them to be apart. Always inviting others in and letting them be a part of your world helps nurture healing. Serve others in a capacity that shares Jesus. There is no better or greater joy than opening others up to the love of Jesus.

Remember, you are greatly loved by one who loves you perfectly. Jesus. FLAWS AND ALL. Without condition, without perfection, He stands with arms open always. We fail Him constantly, He corrects and admonishes and stands waiting to embrace. He is our example to follow. Our emotions WILL LIE to us. His example and love will never.

There is a lyric in an old Eagles song that states: “Often times we live our lives in chains….and we never even know we have the key.” The key to an ongoing forgiving heart is to stay close and connected to the Word of God daily. Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” When our heart is being changed by the Word of God it lays the groundwork for another’s heart to be changed by our own actions!!! WE BECOME THE KEY TO THEIR BROKENNESS AND OURS. That is POWERFUL!

Just like my sunglasses on my face driving around in the dark, things were not as they seemed. They seemed dim, unfocused, lights coming straight at me were really on the other side of the road. Images that appeared to be cars crashing my way, were simply an unlit stationary building. My eyes were lying to me. Pain, hurt, and unforgiveness make relationships seem doomed. Take the sunglasses off and see clearly what is possible when love takes root instead of bitterness. Fill your heart with the words of God, the things of Jesus and the actions of service.

Love is a verb. An action. Choose love. Sacrifice for it until………………..just until. Hang in there for joy that awaits on the other side of healing. If not in this life, then in the next. God always honors His Word lived out.




How Do you Smell?


I have a fragrant Gardenia bush right outside my garage door. At certain times of year when it blooms, it fills my yard with its sweet aroma. I have always loved Gardenia. It reminds me of my childhood. My grandmother used to have a bush close by too, and on hot summer nights, we would sit in lawn chairs and snap beans from the garden and listen to the occasional car that could be heard from far off heading our way. When in bloom, Gardenia would waft through the air.

Recently, I picked two flowers off the bush to take to a friend I was meeting. On my way, the date fell through so instead, I did some shopping. The flowers were laid on the console of my car. I always take a sweater everywhere I go, and with all the running around my sweater found its way on top of the flowers. Not remembering its presence, I repeatedly threw my heavy purse on top, smooshing, smashing and making potpourri out of the Gardenia flowers.

A few days later, I jumped into my hot car and was hit by the most pungent beautiful smell. Its aroma filled my car for days making every trip a delight. I kept forgetting to take it out so there it lay day after day.

Today, Scott informed me our friend of 28 years called this morning and his wife’s brain cancer is inoperable, and their only option is experimental treatments….which we all know are just that…..experimental. They are a godly and beautiful couple who have remained confident the Lord will see them through. More importantly, he asked me earlier to pray their lives would  continue to reflect Christ even in this dark time.

Being in ministry, we receive a lot of messages and calls from people wanting prayer for situations. I am constantly reminded how mortal we are as humans. Life is hard and often difficult.

My mind often scatters around while driving, and after the phone call this morning, my mind started swirling while running errands.

I remembered being in Walmart looking over the watermelons a few years back. A kind, shriveled-up man hobbled over to check them out too. I saw his very rough hands laced with arthritis causing his fingers to resembled small crooked limbs from an old tree.  Of course, I began to chat with him as I am always curious (or nosey) to chat with older people; especially those wearing Veterans’ hats…… and oh, how glad I did! He was all to eager to share his story. I know we stood there thirty minutes as I asked question after question and he shared incredible stories of hardship one after the other. He was a survivor of WWII. He was a single man for over 60 years having lost his young wife in a tragic car accident at 28, and later his only two children, one as a teenager and another a young father, both to cancer. I thought, what an incredible soul this man has. I asked him, “How does life continue to have meaning with such loss and hardship?”  (A personal question I know, but after thirty minutes, we were good friends.) 🙂 His answer shouldn’t have stunned me, but it did. “Jesus, child Jesus.”

Well first, he called this 50-year-old lady “child” and second, he seemed to ooze with goodness and grace….so I had to listen more.

He went on to talk to me about the Lord as if he thought I didn’t personally know Jesus myself. And that was okay, because in that moment I needed something bigger than my own faith to be encouraged about. I listened like I never heard the story of grace and redemption. After his story of heroism in the war, he shifted the spotlight off his tragic life to God’s faithfulness and the glory to come for those who remain faithful in Him. His blue cataract filled eyes encased in deep wrinkles, had seen some life in his 90 something years, and was now looking straight into my eyes and soul. A stranger, and yet I never felt safer standing in his presence. An all familiar wellbeing engulfed me, and in those moments, he was like a grandfather (or perhaps an angel) sharing words of wisdom gathered from years of living and traveling some rough rocky terrain.

I left Walmart with a different perspective, a change of heart than when I had entered.

I continue to think of this old man and our God appointed meeting even after three years. I wonder, has he met his Maker by now? Has his faith become sight? Is he now enjoying Jesus whom he served his whole life, and of course his family?

With my Gardenia flowers, whose aroma still filling my car, I think of my friend’s wife with the brain cancer and the man at Walmart, and the many others struggling to make sense out of life or just dealing with one tragedy after another. A Scripture pops in my mind as I breathe in the sweetness of the flower.

2 Corinthians 2:15 states “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing….”

Wow…..PERISHING!…… BEING saved from hell and from DESPAIR! The word “being” is a verb meaning on-going, never-ending.

This Scripture made me think, what made my flower smell so delicious? In and of itself it had a beautiful scent, but it wasn’t until the pressing, the weight of the external and the heat of the hot car affected it so that it brought forth its pungent fragrance. It lost its beauty, but it was replaced with a greater value.

I looked up the word Gardenia on the computer. (In all honesty, to make sure I spelled it correctly😊) The symbolism and meaning of the flower was given. “These flowers are associated with several meanings including purity, love and refinement, which makes them an appropriate choice for many occasions.” The word refinement was perfect for how I was feeling and made sense to all I was thinking. (Isn’t God just so good to put it all together like this???? I can’t deny His workings if I tried!)

The old man was nothing beautiful to look at with his shriveled-up self, but oh the fragrance he left behind! Had he been a good-looking younger man that was simply being courteous (perhaps buying a watermelon to take to the lake with his family) and he told me about the sweetness of Jesus, the impact would have been uneventful, less powerful.  I would have left thinking he was nice and glad I had chatted with him; but it would have ended right there.

But the old man……..he BLESSED me beyond what my thoughts could have imagined!  He gave me perspective. He gave me hope. Why? Because he had seen the depths of hell on earth, came through scarred up but not broken. He brought faith to me as a beacon of light! Right there in the Walmart watermelon aisle! (You never know what lurks in those Walmart’s aisles!)

Today, I picked up my sweater where the flowers still lay beneath. Shriveled up and mangled, its fragrance still going strong. I think I’ll leave it for a few more days as a reminder to ask myself, “What scent do I leave behind when the world presses in?”  Is it a putrid smell of bitterness?  Or is it the fragrance of Christ?

Lord, help me to see the pressings of life are a chance for me to be a fragrance of Christ to my small world.

How do you smell?


Leah Rachael Beasley

Leah Rachael Beasley

It’s the awkward question.  Over the years it never gets easier.  In a split second I make the decision to deny the life that shaped my entire soul, or answer to a stranger the tender truth.  The truth is always followed by another awkward moment which seems to demand  explanation and  sympathy, of which neither wants to indulge.

Stranger: “So you have FOUR boys huh?”  Me: “I do.” (Oh, please don’t ask….)  “So no girls?” (Dread)

The day started out like any other day on May 6, 1995.  My friend Sheila asked me to go look at garage sales with her.  We always have a blast together and we both love hunting down a great deal.  As we spent the day together, we laughed a lot, bought a lot, walked a lot, and then my lower back began to hurt a lot.  I was almost 6 months pregnant.  I really tried hard not to think of the dangers that could be associated with every little pain.  Fear can take up residence so easily with me, so I tried to keep guard of my thoughts.  I protected myself not allowing the unknowns to swirl in my mind.   You see, I had been pregnant before.  I gave birth three years earlier to a one pound baby after my water broke at 24 weeks gestation.

With that pregnancy, the Lord was gracious.  After several surgeries, a three month stay in the hospital, numerous setbacks, almost a half million dollars spent in care, we took home our 4 pound baby who went on to conquer life despite his fragile beginnings and disabilities.  And now living in a new state, with a new doctor, I’m assured all looks well and my doctor didn’t see any reason why I could not carry this pregnancy to term.  He was wrong.

After our day of shopping on a beautiful crisp spring day, my back did not feel so beautiful.  It ached now a lot.  Excruciating pain was running down my legs.  Was I paranoid?  Surly it was the walking I had done all day.  I told myself over and over, “It’s nothing.  In fact, I‘ll clean the house to get my mind off the agony that I’m sure is psychosomatic and not reality.  Wasn’t labor supposed to be in your belly and not lower back?  Yes, I’m paranoid,” I reasoned to myself.  I kept this conversation going in my head for hours.

I need to get to the hospital, I thought.  I started to think of my last ride to the hospital. Scott played classical music to calm my nerves with my first pregnancy. He spoke reassuring words and encouragement.

Soon Scott arrived home from work and he being the intuitive soul immediately knew something was wrong.  He told me to get in the car.  But instead of soothing tones from the radio like before, I heard the sounds of screeching tires as he drove like Speed Racer on steroids to the hospital demanding I tell him if I was having another labor pain every few minutes.  (I was trying hard not to let on.)  I must have made it to the hospital in downtown Atlanta in record time and a good thing too because within hours, despite numerous attempts to stop labor, I had given birth to a two pound baby girl.

Although she was tiny, she was the most beautiful baby with jet black hair and smooth dark skin. She had round eyes with and a tiny mouth like mine.  If you ever saw Jackson as a baby, she looked just like him. Beautiful. Leah Rachel Beasley would be her name.  A strong, but tender name, named after sisters with distinct personalities and looks in the Bible.

As with all premature babies, she had lung complications which would require a ventilator and lots of medications to speed up her development.  Her major medical concern was a large hole in her tiny heart.  She immediately had heart surgery to repair it. (How in the world they can do heart surgery on a heart no bigger than a kidney bean, is beyond my understanding!)   She was a trooper and began to thrive beyond expectation after that. Her prescription was time; time to grow and time to develop.

My faith was strong.  I had seen Jesus work a miracle with my first son Brett, and I had no doubt this would be any different.  I had a wonderful church family who would minister to us and pray for another miracle.  I would just have to find the courage to push through the initial weeks of getting Leah stable.  My heart broke knowing what she would endure and being familiar with all that awaited, the journey seemed daunting.  But I remained confident of the outcome.

The days rolled into weeks.  There were many setbacks along the way but that is par for the course with a premie in the Neonatal ICU. “Two steps forward, one step backward” was a familiar phrase used a lot by those that work with critically ill premature babies.  But forward she went.  Defying the odds, as her brother had done.

I busied myself in the meantime making the final touches on the nursery.  This nursery would be a girl theme with lots of pinks and purples.(Of course)  I brought breast-milk on every other day visit to the hospital.  With a toddler in tow, Brett quickly became acclimated to hospital visits and loved seeing his new sister, bringing her treats like a balloon for her bed and a music player to soothe her when we weren’t there.

And then it happened.  “Mrs. Beasley, I think your baby girl is almost ready to go home.”

“Really?” I said, not imagining how this happened so fast. This was so much sooner than anticipated.

“You can even bring her some outfits to wear as she is in the ‘fattening up only’ stage before her release,” the doctor said. She only wore a diaper and blanket which is customary for babies in the NICU.  (It is too hard to care for infants with clothes on; too many wires, IVs and tubes to maneuver around.)  I signed up for the infant CPR class and the other required class for use of the heart monitor she would wear home.  I was all too familiar with both, but she wouldn’t be released until all the proper protocol was completed.

God you are so good!  Praise music rang from my car and I drove home!  And tomorrow is bath day!  I get to bathe my little girl for the first time!

Gosh she was beautiful and sweet.  The whole NICU had fallen in love with her.  She was gentle and meek already; seldom crying.  She made eye contact and cooed and was wonderful in every way.  Long weeks in hospitals have a way of enduring caregivers and nurses to the babies, and she certainly was no exception.

Leah had a wonderful primary nurse.  She was a godly woman who loved the Lord dearly.  Her husband was a pastor and she had a heart for young pastors like us.  She was an angel God used many times in the years to come to minister to me personally.   I had no idea what an important role she would play in my life as I watched her care for my little girl.

She helped me give Leah her first bath.  I had not seen Leah much without tubes and wires and relished how adorable she looked as she splashed around in the small tub the nurses gave me to place her. I put shampoo on her head full of dark hair.  Afterwards, I dressed her in a pink dress.  I prepared mentally for her soon release and physically I darted around the stores to stock up on all the needs newborns have. My mom bought a special dress and headband for her to wear home.

The very next morning I received a phone call Leah had taken a turn for the worse in the night, and it was urgent I get to the hospital.  She was in grave condition.  Without cell phones, I knew it would be awhile before I could get in touch with Scott who was out meeting with some local pastors, so I drove myself to the hospital unprepared for the sight that had obviously changed from the night before.  Leah was on life support.

Now back in just her diaper and tubes everywhere, she looked so fragile and helpless again.

I was told she had contracted a devastating form of bacterial meningitis and somewhere in the wee morning hours it had attacked her brain, spinal cord and her heart. The bacteria had somehow lain dormant in her body for weeks, undetected, and now it was attacking with a vengeance.  It was very puzzling and alarming to even her doctor.  She was in very bad shape.

She was now lifeless with only the machines keeping her body warm.  She was swollen beyond recognition and would need several tappings (draining of fluids) many times in the days to come. How could this be the same baby that only a few hours before enjoyed her first bath and took a bottle from me?

I will spare you the details of the agonizing decision to sign a DNR.  But even in those horrible, gut wrenching days of witnessing the efforts to keep her body alive with the hopes of a miracle, God was working a different kind of miracle; one that would reach far beyond our lives and benefit countless others.

The days were endless and we prayed for a miracle that would never happen; at least not within her body.  Leah had a seizure and died in my arms the day before the DNR was to go into effect.  It was June 16.  It was the exact same calendar date we brought Brett home from the hospital three years earlier.  It would be known in my heart as Homecoming Day for them both; just different homes.  She was buried in her homecoming dress and headband my mom had bought her and was buried on Father’s Day.

The aftermath of Leah’s death left me grappling with the goodness of God for a while.  Why had God been so gracious with my first baby and not the other?

On the other side of death and grief, one grows bitter or better (wiser), and I wanted desperately to allow God to produce goodness in me; to let God have His way in my heart. To accept things I could not change as being the will of God.  I fought hard to find rhyme or reason for the distinct different outcomes. In the end I had to resolve,  “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

It is my responsibility, and eventually my joy to praise Him regardless of the outcome.  Period.  Hard? Yes.

The deepest level of worship is learning to praise the Lord despite the pain that rages within; to give the Lord Jesus all you are, to all of Him, all the time; no matter the circumstances.  And I did.  Sometimes in my honest and darkest hours it was much like, as the songwriter says, “offering broken hallelujahs.”  I would offer all I had in the moment, knowing God would give grace to move forward.

Worship is a gift with countless benefits.  Worship is for God, but it is for me too.  And for you. We are the only creation on earth given this privilege. AND WHAT A PRIVILEGE IT IS!

It’s the vehicle God uses to unleash the blessings He so desperately wants His children to know and have.  It is like a soothing, calming balm over a raw, splintered heart.  It’s where healing begins. Healing and joy is found when we serve up the broken hallelujahs.

I still believe God chooses to work His will according to prayer.  The Bible teaches this truth.  Leah was as much prayed for as Brett, but with a different outcome.  I will continue to pray as if my prayer alone can change the heart of God as He has instructed his people to do.  I will continue to trust as if trusting alone changes the outcome….even when it doesn’t.    I will never understand the mind of God on such matters, but I choose to believe He always has my best interest in mind and works accordingly. “Who am I, as Job says, to question the authority of God?  Was I there when He made the foundations of the earth?” (Job 34)

I am a changed life due to her death.  I will never be the same, thank GOODNESS.  The GOOD that was birthed in me due to her short time on earth was so rich it continues to shape how I view experiences here on earth, and how I conduct myself with others who are hurting.  My faith has continued to sustain me through many rocky climbs and helped me weather many storms that have come since 1995. It was a foundational time where God showed me the anchor holds, in spite of the storm. And He always will.

So the miracle I prayed so hard for Leah was conceived in me.  I am the miracle.

So when asked, “No girls huh?” my heart screams, “Yes!  Oh Yes!”  But my words say, “No, I have the joy and privilege of all boys.” No need to invite the stranger into the window of my heart when she was just trying to be polite.

So….on this May 6th, 2018 I remember.  I remember the tiny life that taught me the value of love, the value of life, and the meaning of trust.  Happy 23th Birthday to my sweet Leah Rachel Beasley.  I will see you again.  (On a side note:  I have LOVED being the mother of all boys.  It makes me the queen! )


Time to Breathe

I can finally exhale.  I read somewhere you hold your breath when strong emotions like fear, pain, or grief suddenly hit.  Holding your breath keeps your organs functioning because you literally forget to breathe.  I feel like I have been holding my breath for four years.

It was four years ago today I suddenly lost my mom.   As I know I am not the only one to ever have lost their mom (duh), I sure felt like it. A mother daughter relationship is so special and unique, no one can describe it.  Often times it can be like cats hissing at each other (if not outwardly, than inwardly), but in the next moment you’re belly laughing over something that only the two of you can understand.

I was fortunate to be my mother’s only daughter, which means I gleaned most of her attention.  (Which I liked…..no hated….no liked)   I was also blessed to live close by, so that meant we shared life together; at least the fun and important stuff.  With my four boys, she was always attending some ballgame, special occasion, or a trip to get ice cream with us.

The silence has been deafening for four years.

I had seen her health beginning to decline.  It was Spring Break and Scott, the boys, and his parents were planning a Florida trip.  I told Scott I felt the need to speed some quality time with Mama.  I had been working a lot and it had been a harsh winter so I had not spent as much time with her as I was accustomed to.  The boys really wanted me to go with them to the beach and days before their departure, I started to feel guilty I was staying behind.  Even Scott encouraged me several times to go.  But I held my resolve as I really had intentions on enjoying my quiet house and Mama for a few days.

I did just that.  We spent most of the week together doing fun stuff.  We even went downtown Atlanta, ate at Mary Macs with Aunt Kathy, had my brother over for dinner, and went to a movie.  Everything I wanted. What a God orchestrated week!

The following day, she had a stroke and was gone.

Nobody can prepare you for the pain and longing it leaves.  I am very grounded spiritually and believe 100 percent I will see her again.  As much as I know life is but a vapor and eternity is well…….eternity, death is a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around.  Living with heaven in mind, living with intentionality while here, is what my whole being is about.  But when death comes knocking on the door to those I deeply love, I grieve like no man’s business.  (that’s southern slang for really hard.)  I get stuck.  I get lost. I get sorrowful.

I am a lot different than my mom.  I have been told I am more a mixture of my Aunt Marlene and Aunt Kathy.  (I adore them both, so I will take it!)  My mom was eccentric.  She truly was a beautiful lady in her younger years and she loved being the center of attention.  She loved fashion and loved dressing me even up until she died.  She could tell you any of the latest Hollywood gossip.  I hate shallow interest like that and would never spend precious time caring about celebrities and their personal world. Dancing with the Stars and American Idol were her favorite shows.  She had a wicked sense of humor and always found fun in the mundane. Laughter was her best activity and she did it often. My boys adored her.  She had a work ethic unmatched and was extremely smart. She wrote poetry and kept journals and meticulous records. I don’t think I EVER saw her take a nap or sleep in late while growing up.  (My poor boys know I have to have a quick nap just about every day.)  She was loyal and committed to her work for over 30 years.  She had a long list of friends and family was her main priority.  Especially me.  She had a thirst for life and loved hearing all about any of my travels and experiences.

I am more of a homebody.  I like the safety and comfort home affords.  She pushed me a lot growing up.  Not the kind of push that came with condemnation, but the encouraging kind.  In and of myself, I probably would not have done most of the things I did.  I think she enjoyed my cheerleading days more than I did!

One of our most notable differences is the manner in which we handle death and grief.  I know she came from a different generation, probably where death was more common due to the lack of medical care and advancement we have today.  She lost my daddy, her spouse, at age 34 and never remarried.  We are a close knit family and naturally as we age, we have lost some really loved relatives.  Although she seemed to love harder and stronger than me (very affectionate and expressive), she also faced death with strength and resolve……unlike me, I curl up in the fetal position for a while.

How I wish I had that!  It has been four years and I am just now beginning to live life and see experiences without the lenses of grief and sorrow.  I heard someone once say to me in the aftermath of her death that the memories I have that bring me pain, will one day bring me joy.  I am just now getting there.  Thank goodness.

I used to long to be everything I am not.  I thought my faith weak and vulnerable.  But I have learned my tender, more timid, insecure self is what makes me who God wired me to be.

As I pass the fourth anniversary of her death, I feel more privileged than ever that I was her daughter and she loved me so.  I have heard it said, “You cannot love well, until you have felt well loved.”  The longer I live, the more I know of people who live their whole life trying to please their parents in order to know their love.  How incredibly sad.  Carol Wofford loved me well.  She loved me with her words, her written and verbal sentiments, her affections, and her deeds. How lucky I am to have had that for 49 years!

I hope my life is a reflection of what she poured into me. Now is the time exhale and live that life.  (insert sigh……)

Mama for blog