We never know




We often never know what difference we’ve made in someone’s life. We, as teachers, may never see a student after they leave our classroom at the end of the school year. I don’t remember all the students, but some do stick in my mind and my heart.

My first three years of teaching in the public school system were at a school in Haines City, Florida. I taught fourth grade in this school  that was more than 50% Hispanic. I worked with a group of teachers that became my friends. We poured our time, energy, and hearts into the young lives we had from 8am-3:30pm each day.

By my second year I was more comfortable in the classroom. I’d taken some ESL classes, I had a  little experience under my belt and my teacher-friends and I worked especially hard that year in writing instruction. We were test driven, not by choice,  but we tried to make it fun. That year some of our students got their letters to Al E. Gator published in the Lakeland Ledger. I still have a photocopy of the paper where five of my kids had their letters printed. I can still remember their faces. Their was towheaded Jeremy, funny Jah, outgoing Aida. And then there was Zenaida and Hector. Both were shy and still struggling with English. The letters were simple : telling Al E. Gator about their Thanksgiving plans.  Zenaida’s letter ended with, “All my family is going to go to my house and I am going to be very happy about that.” Hector talked about the previous year’s Thanksgiving, “My grandpa, my sister, my dad, my mom, my big brother and my dad’s friends were there. I played with my friends. We played hide and go seek. I felt happy.”

Simple childhood joys. This was in November, 1997. I don’t know the details of their lives, but I know Zenaida and Hector grew up and fell in love. They had a baby.

Fast forward to February, 2005. Hector’s sister was home for the weekend from the School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, Florida, along  with her boyfriend who also went to the school. She was deaf and mute and he also had hearing loss. For some reason, Hector’s sister checked him out of school early and, along with Zenaida and baby Jasmine, they were all headed somewhere in the car that the boyfriend was driving. He ran a stop sign, hit another car.  Hector, his sister, Zenaida, and baby Jasmine were all killed. About a month later the boyfriend also passed away.

Hector, just 17, was on track to take his GED test. He wanted to be a mechanic and take care of his parents. He, Zeniada, 18, and the baby all lived with his parents.  It’s been nearly 15 years since the accident, about 23 years since I last saw them, but I can still see their sweet 4th-grade faces in my memory.

I cannot even begin to imagine the grief of his parents. To lose two children, a granddaughter, and a girl who was soon to be their daughter in law, all in one fell swoop.  Loss is part of life, but some losses grip us harder and stay longer. We don’t any of us know our days or times, which makes that time even more precious.

Say love.

Revenge or protection?


chief s


“Revenge by young men is considered gain, when at the cost of their own lives. But old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.”   – Chief Seattle


My thoughts are where do we draw the line between revenge and fighting for our freedom? My son was in the army and I have a soft spot in my heart for those who truly believe they are fighting for our freedoms, for those who really love their country. But it seems the higher up the chain of command, the more sight is lost for what really matters. Revenge and economy seem to take the place of protection and prevention.


We are not your God


“I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living, creeping things,
and they answered, ’We are not your God, seek above us.’….
I asked the sun, moon, stars, ‘Nor are we the God whom you seek.’
And I replied…’You have told me of my God, that you are not He; tell me something of Him.’ and they cried with a loud voice, ‘He made us.’” – Confessions of St. Augustine


This week I was confronted with such diverse thoughts concerning God’s creation.  At school yesterday, I showed a PBS video called “The Whale Detective”  that made me once again marvel at the way God, in His infinite wisdom, created animals with such variety and with marvelous features.

Psalm 93:4 – The Lord on high is mightier Than the noise of many waters, Than the mighty waves of the sea.


Later, in another class, I talked to a girl about an article she had to read about Greta Thunberg. It was very hard not to give her my full opinion. I don’t want to sound like I have my head in the sand, but I know whatever climate change is actually going on is ordained by God. I don’t plan to be wasteful or foolish, but I just don’t understand how sane people can vote this screaming, obvious emotionally impaired young girl as Person of the Year. 



me n Cathy


I have tons of acquaintances, a handful of friends, and just a very few close friends. No BFF.  I credit the LORD for the friends I have.  I can’t say it better than  St. Augustine.


Referring to Friendship: “…for true it cannot be, unless in such as You cementest together.” –from Confessions of St. Augustine 

Hello, Goodbye

Word Art 17

So, I was talking to 2019:

She said, “Goodbye”

I said, “High.”

She said, “Low.”

“But, these are my goals for 2020,”  I told her. “If not high, at least higher. In three categories: books read, miles hiked, blog posts written. So, 2019, let’s take a look and you’ll see what I mean.”

“With you, I read or listened to 43 books. That averages 3 1/2 a month. With you, I hiked 132 miles. That’s an average of only 2 1/2 a week. With you, I wrote 67 blog posts. That’s about 5 1/2 a month.”

She said, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t know” 

She said, “Stop”.

I said,  “Okay. I’m done with you. Finished. You are kaput!”

So, I talked to 2020 for a bit.

“Hey, 2020!” I said,  “Hello, hello, hello.”

I said, “Go, go, go.” At first she misunderstood me.  

“No, no, don’t go away. I mean go WITH me. We’ve got some goals to take care of to beat 2019. We need to read at least four books a month. And hike at least 3 miles a week.  And write at least six posts a month.” 

2020 said, “Yes.”


Being upheld


“Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” – Psalm 54:4


My husband got me a copy of Gordon J. Keddie’s Prayers of the Bible: 366 Devotionals to Encourage Your Prayer Life.  Today I was struck by this verse. I thought of those in my life that God has sent to uphold me, to support , stand by and sustain me. Beginning with my mother, who though we didn’t always agree, she never left me. I think of Marshall Heath who supported Chuck spiritually and arranged for some financial support for us when we went off to Clearwater Christian College. During that time, Ann and Moose Wacker also gave us financial support and sent encouraging letters, one of which I came across recently that brought them back to my mind.

Years later, Chuck’s Aunt Amy did the same when we moved to Georgia. Her financial help was a reminder of her love for us and support of our ministry. So many others, too, have helped us and loved on us over the years. They have upheld our souls in prayers and in preaching. And God, our ultimate Helper, has allowed us to to the same for a few others along the way.




If You’re Reading This…

…then you are still here and have another year to be thankful for.


2019  is almost in the books. For these things I am grateful:

  • Grandchildren who make it possible to attend Grandparents’ Day at their school and to have Bell Camp at our house
  • Children who still love me
  • Southwest Airlines who make travel pleasant
  • All the beautiful places to hike in and around Birmingham
  • Ruby, my hiking companion
  • Students who make my days interesting and make me feel welcome when they greet me with  “Mrs. Bell! You’re my favorite sub!”
  • Friends who read books with me
  • Record stores and bookshops
  • Cousin re-connections and family reunions
  • Weddings and birthday celebrations far and near
  • The Avett Brothers in concert with only a few sprinkles
  • Seeing old friends in Jacksonville
  • Being protected from snakes at Red Mountain and Lake Guntersville
  • 41 years of marriage
  • Good neighbors
  • New friends that make me smile and old movies that make me cry

Here’s to 2020!

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”