A Shameful Rage

I have never understood what happened to me that fall day many, many years ago when I was an adolescent child. Down the street there lived a girl of my same age. I felt like I was superior to her because my parents were respectable and her parents did something unthinkable among my relatives; they drank. Not only that, they often fought with each other loudly and yelled at their two daughters almost constantly. Yet the little girl who was my age was universally liked. She was always pleasant and was a strong leader on the playground. I was jealous of her and in that way I felt inferior to her. This made a powerful combination of feelings for me; but we got on tolerably well. When it came to brain power, I was the stronger one and she often had me help with her home work and asked me advice about the many problems she had with her parents. I often tried to keep her out of trouble with them. Therefore I was usually in the dominant position in our friendship and that suited me fine. Then one day, I did something so bad I have never told another soul about it until now. I cannot recall the full circumstances but I guess she made me mad. I went back to my house and found that no one else was home. Alone in the house, I phoned her and said many mean things to her. I think I stabbed her with the fact that her mother was a drunk. I know I said unfamiliar cuss words that tumbled out of my mouth unrelated to any thought process whatever. Even before I hung up the phone, I was embarrassed and ashamed. That pleasant little girl had been verbally abused all of her life. That may be why she never seemed to hold it against me that I had said such horrible things to her and said them in a frenzy of rage. She didn’t treat me any differently afterwards than she had before. Like I said, I have no idea what came over me. It was the only time in my life I have said such words and I said them with such hate. I have been ashamed all the many years since, but this—like everything else in life has influenced me. Life is in many ways a mystery. If I don’t even know the source of my own actions it is easy to understand that I, like that sweet little neighbor girl of so many years ago, must be willing to forgive the actions of others.


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Exodus 15 vs. 20-27 with Betty

20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

K.J.V. Bible Text

My Thoughts:

In her elation at the escape across the Red Sea, the prophetess Miriam began to dance with a timbrel in her hand and all the other women joined her.  Miriam encouraged them to sing the praises of the Lord for their deliverance from the sea and for the Lord causing the Egyptian pursuers to be swallowed up in the same sea.

However, a few days later, the traveling Hebrews came to Marah where the waters were bitter and could not be drunk. The people talked against Moses and asked what they would drink.

Moses cried unto the Lord and the Lord showed him a certain tree to cast into the water. The water then became good to drink.

The Lord then promised the people that if they would listen to his voice and do right in His sight, he would bring upon them none of the diseases that had plagued the Egyptians.

Later on the people reached Elim where there were twelve wells and seventy trees. They camped by the water.

This whole story shows how the Hebrews, formerly slaves of the Egyptians, were unable to maintain faith when there were setbacks.  When things were going well, like children, they sang and danced.  When there was a problem they looked at Moses and demanded he find a solution.  Yet the Lord patiently led them onward.  Perhaps this dependence upon a leader was a legacy of having been slaves so

long. Perhaps this was part of the hardship of Egypt from which the Lord realized they needed to be saved.

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You shouldn’t have done that…

My three year old Granddaughter has one epitaph she flings at wrongdoers, “That’s not nice.” Taking a leaf from her book, I wrote the following poem to say something similar about  someone I know who is treating people poorly. Perhaps you can think up an image of someone who has not behaved well and get a little secret satisfaction from this poem.

You have done something so wrong
Out of your own selfish cause
Underhandedly with coldness

Against God’s perfect laws–
Respect for others disregarded.
Every action that you take

Needs reviewed by a good conscience
Openly for your soul’s sake.
There is a need for God to guide you

Not to think you are above
Immoral acts of vengeance,
Considered without love.
Every line above has meaning
And it’s the worst thing I will say,
Because I want to be unlike you,
In every single way.

 B. Killebrew

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He loves me; he loves me not…

I sniffed at a buttercup to see if you loved me,
And then I picked a daisy for another way to see;

I found a four-leaf clover (I know how lucky that they are)
And in the early twilight, I wished upon a star.

I’ve taken all those steps because no matter what I do
I’ve never gotten you to say, “Sweetheart, I love you;”

But the answers of the flora and a wish flung to the sky
Don’t do much to reassure me of what your actions oft belie;

So if you love me true, please won’t you tell me so;
Because if you don’t, with heavy sigh, I’ll have to let you go.

B. Killebrew

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Life—Not Fair

We teach children that what happens to them will not always be fair, but it takes a person as old as I am to realize that things are never fair, not does it “all come out in the wash,” which is another saying we use to indicate that when all is known things will be squared up.

Life’s events are more like a swinging pendulum than a carefully balanced scale. I once ran a red light right in front of a police officer; but when I promptly pulled over, he didn’t arrest me; he just said, “Be more careful in the future.”  That day my pendulum swung to the “good luck” side of the equation. That was good for me, but hardly fair to all the other people who have received tickets for running that same red light both before and since.

On the other hand, plenty of people have extremely bad luck on one or more occasions when the pendulum swings far over to the other side. Taking this to the extreme, consider this event that happened in my home town in the early 1960’s. About half a dozen cars were crossing our river bridge one day when it suddenly collapsed—just like that. A bridge that had stood for fifty years collapsed at the very moment those half dozen cars were driving across. But were the drivers unlucky people? Maybe not. No one was killed, so perhaps instead of being extraordinarily unlucky they were extraordinarily lucky; or perhaps they were both unlucky and lucky in rapid succession, a fact that fits my original premise. Life is never fair, nor is it balanced. Most events lean one way or the other.

The only balanced events in our lives are the non-events. When nothing happens, we’re in status neutral which is the closest thing to perfect balance life ever offers.

I believe it is useful to think about the changing nature of our fortunes because of our old friend, “hope” My pendulum has lately swung almost exclusively to the “bad luck” side.  I have been weighed down and nearly overcome by ongoing misfortune. Nevertheless, from a lifetime of observance, I can be assured the pendulum will swing the other way sometime in the future. That’s a very comforting thought.

Elizabeth Ruth

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Out of Business

Out of Business


This morning I drove past a large store building on the main street of our small town. The building is empty. It has been vacant for 7 years. The location used to be the home of a medium to high-end clothing store that had been in business since the 1920’s.  The last owner ran the store for about thirty years. Even at the end, with the store competing with Walmart right here in town and many other retailers in new shopping areas less than 20 miles away, the store supported the owner’s family and provided employment for a couple of full-time clerks. It was forced to close because the owner of the building was demanding a substantial increase in rent.

Now the building sits there empty year after year.  The clerks both retired; the shopkeeper got a job in a department store in a nearby city and the building’s owner now receives no rent at all and has been unsuccessful at selling the building as well.  I cannot think of any way that an empty building would be better for the owner’s personal economy than the continuation of the rent at a level that would have allowed that business to remain open.

Empty buildings in a small town are sad. Profiteering at the expense of small town lease holders who can’t afford big city rental rates is also sad, and in this case was distinctly counter-productive.

I wonder if that building owner ever regrets that he did not work harder to help his renter of 30 years remain in the building.

If he had stuck with him and helped him out, perhaps the money in his pocketbook would not have been greatly increased, but I think he would have been a better person—and for the last seven years, he would have had a renter.

Perhaps you don’t see the relevance of this story to you personally, but if you are one of the many people that have a house or building for rent, it may remind you not to price yourself out of the market.

Betty Killebrew

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A moment in time…

I am fascinated by the knowledge that there is no time but NOW.  Nothing we ever do can change one moment of the past and we can only conjecture how our actions of today will affect our tomorrows. Life is lived one moment at a time.

Your consciousness of life is of the moment you’re in. The past is a memory that is really no more than a story about how we got to right now.

Have you ever tried to remember a happy moment to cheer you up when you are sad?  It’s difficult, isn’t it?  If you are sad at this moment, you are consumed by the sadness.  Only an event in the future, an event which you can long for, hope for and think will come can affect that sadness, and eventually, that event or some other one you do not foresee will come along and cheer you up–but of course, that’s a moment in the future…it is not NOW.

No amount of past happiness can make up for the searing pain when a love affair breaks up or for the grief at the loss of a loved one. In fact, the memory of past happiness can sometimes make you feel sorry for yourself  about the present dismal state you are in, making it seem even worse.

As I wrote the above, I was trying to determine in my own mind if a past sadness could affect a present happiness.  I suppose it could be possible to “think yourself sorry” but who would make the effort while they were in a state of elation?  Happiness, especially singing happiness that floods through you on happy occasions, is the type of emotion that doesn’t lead to introspection.

In my life, I have accepted the concept of living in the moment and I waste no effort in fighting it.  Instead, I embrace the principle.

If in this moment, I think you look wonderful–in this exact moment, I will tell you so.  If I see that you are faltering in life, I will tell you what concerns me and hope that even if you become angry with me, it will somehow help turn you away from your folly and lead you to happier moments in the future.  When I have done something wrong myself, I waste none of my precious moments in evasion.  I confess to whomever I have done wrong and apologize.  I try not to let that wrongdoing ruin any of my future moments by asking God’s forgiveness as well, right then and at any other moment when I am reminded of my failing.

When you build a house, you have to know what you want the house to look like when you begin or it will be a crazy structure, so I do believe in planning.  But as I build my life, I know the moments in it are the building blocks that make up the whole.  If every moment is utilized for the good of God, I will end up with a good life—one moment at a time.

Betty Killebrew

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If you’re happy and you know it…

Most of us are really great at being miserable and noticing it. Our backs ache, our feet hurt, someone was cross with us and put us in a bad mood—there are many, many levels of knowing you’re not very pleased with life.  What most of us are not good at is noticing—and rejoicing at—those moments when all is well.

Little kids in Sunday school often sing, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” They all clap their hands and sing with unbounded enthusiasm.  Isn’t it great that their genuine happiness can be expressed so freely?

Years ago there was a period of time when I was miserable.  It was not a long period of time and I no longer know what I thought was so terrible in my life; but I remember sitting in my rocking chair rocking my little boy and being depressed.  Then for some reason I found myself analyzing how I felt and comparing it to how I felt a few days before. I have never forgotten the illumination that dawned on me. I realized I had gone through a relatively long period when I was basically happy and content but I hadn’t even thought about that wonderful state and I hadn’t really even enjoyed it.  I vowed if I ever felt happy again I would make the most of it. A couple of days later the tides of time did return me to happiness and I did remember to realize it.

I was young back then and now I’m old but I still make a fool out of myself enjoying my happy days. I smile, I chatter, I hum, sing and whistle and most of all, I’m happy and I know it.

Betty Killebrew

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Exodus 15 vs. 14-19 with Betty

14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.

15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.

16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.

18 The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.

19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

K.J.V. Bible Text  

My Thoughts: 

In today’s reading, Moses foretells how the Hebrews will overcome the inhabitants of Palestina and Canaan.  He foretells the fear and dread they will experience when the Hebrews come to the land the Lord has ordained to be theirs.

It’s easy to see that the assistance of the Lord in the crossing over the Red Sea has given the Hebrews confidence, and they know that with the Lord on their side they will prevail over any resistance.

Exodus 15 v. 18 says, “The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.”  We know that this is true.  The kingdom of the Lord is indeed forever.  However, in the centuries since the Lord rolled back the very waters of the Red Sea, many people have come to think of his mighty miracles as pleasant stories.  They may not believe them or they may try to prove that all the events of the Exodus from Egypt were natural phenomena that occurred at that time by coincidence.  Perhaps it is time for the world to remember that when Egypt doubted the power of the Lord, that power was amply demonstrated.  If we in turn fail to honor the Lord, what may be in store for us?

Betty Killebrew

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