Category Archives: Reminiscing

I Surrender All

On the morning that my husband, Tom, died, I asked to be alone with him before they told anyone else. I went in to him and I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know how I will make it without Tom, but would You please show me each morning as I am waking up what You want me to do that day…”

Before he would leave for work, Tom would always tell me what he needed me to do for him that day and then he would wrap his arms around me and pray for me! After Tom’s death, I asked Christ to be my husband and the father to our children so I needed the Lord to tell me each morning what he wanted me to do.

On the Monday morning after Tom’s death, when I was waking up, I knew what I was to do. After breakfast, I called Duke Power and made a change to a program where we pay a set amount for electricity for 11 months. On the 12th month, either I pay Duke or they pay me depending on how much I am under or over the amount. Then, I had the cable and internet shut off and changed our phone plan to just a house phone with no caller ID or call waiting and a block on long distance.

I let our cell plan go and I changed it to a cell plan with only $10 monthly usage and no contract. Then I only gave the number to my children. It was turned off except when I was in the car so they could reach me.

Three months later after I had gone through our emergency fund, I got my first check from Tom’s retirement with the State. I understood why God had prompted me to take the actions before. There was a delay–the check should have come in 4-6 weeks, but it came after 3 months. That’s when I realized that my income had dropped by 70% over what we had received in September before my husband died.

The biggest blessing was that Tom died with no debt! Because he not only believed in living the economics that he taught, he was very careful with the resources God put in his hands. He always obeyed Titus 2 and we lived it out as a family.

We decided that I would come home after Josh was born. Every year since we were married, he told me what I was to do if he died. The first time he talked to me about this was just weeks after we were married and it scared me to death. I called long distance to my mom. When I told her what he told me, she said, “Mary Beth, he is an economist and he will do this every year of your marriage. He is a planner. So honor him and reassure him that you will do as he wishes. Then, he will be able not to worry!”

Two days before Tom died, he told me I was not supposed to go back to work if anything happened to him. Like every year, I promised that I would obey his wishes so for the three years since his death I have been home. The blessing of no debt helped me be able to do what I promised. I cut back our living 70% and there were wonderful things the Lord has taught me and our children during this time.

Tom had other things in place so that it wouldn’t have been such a drastic drop, but my age, the losses in the economy and other things that he trusted would be there, weren’t.
But Christ had a different plan, one to teach me about greater trust–that now Christ was our provider, protector and defender. We would see His mercies anew every day!!

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
-Judson W. Van DeVenter

Cherished Still—New Widows, Daily Choices

Proverbs 2:10-12
“For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul, discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you, wisdom will save you…”
For those of you who are new widows, you are faced with so many changes overnight.  The whole dynamics of your family change.  You are now responsible for the things your spouse did plus the responsibilities you had.  You realize that your dreams, your friends, your lifestyle and relationship with Christ are different.  You are hurting and so are your children.  You know you have two choices – turn it all over to Christ or turn your back on Christ.
Daily you have to make that choice over and over again.
Bitterness, anger, fear, brokenness…these were emotions that were hourly and daily weapons that Satan used to try to make us turn our backs on Christ.  Many nights all I could pray was: “Lord, help us!  Lord, protect us!  Lord, help my hurting children.  Lord, heal my broken heart!  Where are You, Lord?  Do you still love us?  Lord, please don’t let us become bitter or angry!”
I went to the library and got on the internet to look up anything about widows—there was nothing.  So I got two CDs from a ministry Tom liked called Vision Forum (www. or 1-800-440-0022).  I ordered “Defending the Fatherless” and “The Role of Women in the Local Church”.  These talk about my role now in light of Tom’s absence—how to help my children and how to run my home with Christ as the head.  I already had the CD “Twenty-Four Hours Is All You Get”, also from Vision Forum, which helped me order my days (along with  The other things I found that helped were a CD called “Redeeming Love” from the book of Ruth by Pastor Adrian Rogers and the study of Ruth by Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur), then, two years later, the book Grace for the Widow by Joyce Rogers.
God reminded me of how Ruth in the Bible was significant to Tom and me when we got married.  I surprised him at our wedding and recited the Scripture to him.  Ruth 1:16: “Where you go, I will go and where you stay, I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God, my God.”  So God reminded me that all I needed was in Ruth, the book He wrote especially for widows.  It tells of Boaz, who rescues the widow, Ruth.  A beautiful love story!  Also, Boaz represents Christ and Ruth, the Church.
Just months after Tom died, men started asking me to date.  I wasn’t ready—but I realized I needed to pray about it, as I did when I was 14, because I wanted God’s hand in my life and choices.  This is what I prayed: “Lord, if you want me to marry again, please send me my Boaz, but until that time, Christ is my Boaz.  So, I still wear my wedding band because I have learned that Christ is my kinsman redeemer and husband.”
While I was writing this, I got a call that another lady about my age just became a widow last night – suddenly!  It broke my heart for I know her sorrow.  She loved her husband as I loved Tom.
So, to those of you who still have your husbands, let me tell you: life is so short.  I know your husband isn’t perfect—because no one is—just love him as he is!  Pray more than anyone for him every day!  Thank God for him and talk well of him.  Tell him every day that you love him and thank him for picking you, then respect him in all you do or say.  Ask the Lord to help you be the help mate that he needs.  Praise God each night as you lay down beside him.  And if you become a widow, Christ is your only way through it.  He is not your Enemy – He is your Savior!
Every day I have to remind myself upon waking in the morning to be thankful for where God has me right now.  A dear Christian friend shared this song with me.  I needed it so much:
Satan has come against you
Nothing you do is right
You rely on strength within yourself
But he’s pulling on every side
Don’t you know that he will defeat you
If you try to stand on your own?
But with Jesus Christ beside you, friend
You’ll never have to stand alone
When it seems you can’t take any more
He has a blessing just for you
Just hold on, a blessing’s on the way
The trials that you’ve been facing
You know they just can’t stay
Though you’ve been fighting a war inside
Your help may come today
Just hold on child
A blessing’s on the way
Don’t you know that there is a reason
For the trials that you’re going through
It’s learning to depend on Jesus
Relying less on you
For the Savior up in Heaven
He knows just what to do…

Reminiscing with the Redhead

I hope the simplicity of my cookbook and my recipes will help everyone who reads them to rediscover the joy of cooking from scratch for your families. Remembering back to my childhood in Greenville, South Carolina, I recall Sunday dinners with white linen tablecloths and Sunday dishes… food cooked from a summer’s canning and freezing or summer fresh… conversations started up even while we were passing the delicious smelling food… fresh creamed corn, wonderful roast beef and gravy or fried tender chicken, whipped potatoes made from cream and butter, fresh cooked pole beans, pinto beans, biscuits, sweet tea.. These meals could have walked out of the pages of Southern Living Magazine.

So when I got married, I was going to have these wonderful Sunday dinners for my husband and future children. And I wanted everyone at my house after church, eating Sunday lunch and relaxing on the porch. But all of a sudden, everything changed. I was told my baby was very sick and couldn’t eat anything. She was so precious, and we were going to lose her. We cried and prayed and went to work, asking the Lord to lead us to what we could do, if anything to save our child. We found that we needed to change the way we ate. I thought to myself , “How do you cook Southern style with soy and tofu?” I was afraid and mad and felt sorry for myself and overwhelmed. If you are there, I hope this cookbook can help you.

I’ve spent the last 18 years changing Southern-style eating into healthy Southern eating. Since I had quit my teaching job, it also had to be economical. Food is so important for good health, but also for family memories. I was a third grade teacher, so I have written this so that even a child could learn to cook. When I was faced with the tragic possibility of losing one of our children because of the food we were eating, I was so overwhelmed. SO if you feel frustrated about what to cook, what is healthy, or if you don’t know how to cook at all, then it is my prayer that this cookbook will help you!

I hope this cookbook will help you rediscover the joy of cooking your own food, and the wonderful feeling that comes when your family loves and thrives on your cooking. I do believe that we don’t have to stop our wonderful heritage of fabulous Southern cooking. We just need to make a few healthy changes, and we can once again have fabulous Sunday dinners, church dinners– with wonderful Southern dishes.

Now let me tell you those wonderful dinners happened when we got invited over to dinner at different family friends’. My mother was from the Midwest. She couldn’t cook this way. Then I married a Deep South boy whose mother cooked every Sunday, just like in those homes I had visited as a child. And this time, I was family. I tried to cook all of my mother in law’s food. She would take a pinch of this or that, and I would stick a measuring spoon under her pinch. Then I would write down how much. I changed these recipes to include olive oil and raw honey or pure maple syrup. Homemade brad and gravy was made from fresh ground flour, the healthiest way to eat. Our whole family’s health changed, and dessert was for special occasions.

I have also tried to show you that having a pantry is essential for eating healthy, but also important for getting real food on the table. It helps you stay on your budget, and it takes the stress, off, because everything you need to make those meals is in your pantry. I set up the pantry so that you don’t even have to think, especially when someone is sick and there are too many decisions to be made. Thats why I’ve made up your menus and grocery lists,.. This cookbook can be taken into the grocery store with you so that you know what to buy. Copy the menu pages and put them on the refrigerator so that your family will know whats for dinner. One thing this way of eating has eliminated in our family is weight problems. My husband was able to lose thirty-two pounds in six weeks; and he hasn’t gained it back. This is not a diet, it is just eating Southern food healthy style. This cookbook has no processed sugar, sugar substitutes, diet foods, or processed foods. It is cooking from scratch.

The most important part of cooking this way, something that I have never seen mentioned in any healthy cooking or diet book, is grinding your own grain. This one thing brings more nutrition to the body and helps to prevent so many present-day maladies that I highly encourage you to add this step into your new, healthier way of eating. It’s the one thing that has been overlooked, and I believe it is the most powerful thing God has given us for a healthy body.

I hope you will find cooking and shopping with this book easy and fun and that families are healthier and happier.

May God Bless,
Mary Beth

Psalm 30:5 “Joy comes in the morning”