Thursday, July 30, 2009


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 30, 2009

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near -Mark 13:28 NIV

The scenes of summer are everywhere. Lots of traffic converging to the Outer Banks as vacationers arrive with great anticipation. Vegetable stands, one after the other, line the journey to the shore with some of the first harvests of the season, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. Rows of colorful umbrellas dot the beach for as far as the eye can see. Brand-new beach towels hang over the rails of rental cottages along the Beach Road. Where the full time residents live, the landscaping is manicured with splashes of color from beds of daisies, day-lilies and the occasional hydrangea, my favorite. Some driveways are bordered with shells collected from the winter, along with piles of gray conchs casually placed at the base of brightly painted “beachy” mailbox posts. Backyard grills come alive with the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers that linger in the early evening air. Neighbors, families and friends gather for annual crab feasts and corn on the cob, while catching up with each other. Summer is the time of year when everything seems to come together.

Surely, I am not the only one that feels so carefree and happy at the beach. The salt air seems to wash away my problems and concerns. The sand between my toes doesn’t annoy me…instead it lets me know I am “home”. The smell of suntan lotion evokes many childhood memories. Perhaps my favorite summer memory is recalling my grandmother’s fig preserves with lemon. Only she could make it her own special way, from her small tree in the backyard, surrounded by a single row of bricks. I love July. The sky is still blue with wispy clouds circling overhead before the hazy gray days of August rolls in. I cannot bear to be indoors this time of year. I don’t want to miss any of God’s beauty and creativity. I will praise Him for these beautiful and bountiful blessings, the sights and sounds of summer.

The Conch Shell

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 30, 2009

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. -I Peter 3:4 NIV

A conch is a unique mollusk having a spiral shell that can become quite large. There are many different kinds of conchs, such as Fighting, Horse and Queen Conchs. It is not uncommon to find conch shells washed up on the shore of the Outer Banks. The animal that lives inside the shell is often eaten both raw and cooked, but it is likely that in our area, these spiral heavy shells have lost their inhabitants before we find them ashore. The beautiful shell of the Queen Conch is often used in crafting cameos in Europe. Also, the shell can be played as a musical instrument even though it has no mouthpiece. Not surprising, it has also served as a hand weapon. The conch shell is also religiously symbolic. For instance, the Hindu’s believe it represents life as it comes from out of the life-giving waters. But for the rest of us, sometimes it just simply represents the largest shell in our collection. To find a conch shell off the North Carolina coast is a treat for the shell collector. It won’t be shiny and pink as though it came from a shell shop, but instead, it most likely is gray, dull and weathered. Nonetheless, it is a prize because of its size and uniqueness.

We are like shells too. Our outer covering often reflects the life we live on the inside. But, there are exceptions. There is so much focus today on outward appearance and very little about developing our core, which is our values, morals and purpose. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is wisdom. It is not learned and developed by focusing on ourselves or our exterior shell. Instead, it is founded on the lessons we have learned when we step outside our shell to help others, to do good deeds, to be a good listener, to lend a helping hand, and more. God blesses us with wisdom as we grow in our spiritual walk and are focused on the right things. There are many people today that are empty shells. There is no substance on the inside of them because their focus is mainly on the outside. They look nice and make a pleasant presentation, but beyond that, there is very little there. On the other hand, some of the most beautiful, wisdom-filled people I have met had faces deeply lined from life’s journey and rough hands from hard work and yet their eyes twinkle from inner joy and contentedness. That is real beauty! What is our shell saying about us? When others see us do they see someone with a heart for God and a willingness to serve? God knows our inner self. We can’t hide anything from His sight. He knows our heart. If we don’t like what we see in ourselves, all we have to do is to ask Him to shape us with a new heart, a new attitude and a new purpose. If we are willing, He is willing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Produce Stands

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 22, 2009

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. -Matthew 7:20 NIV

I love travelling to the Outer Banks from Virginia where so many fruit stands can be found. Some fruit and vegetable stands are often simple in structure with dirt floors and plywood shutters than lock into place in the off- season. Others are quite elaborate with many signs posted miles ahead as enticement to select their location. Over the years we have tried many of the different stands and all are good. Each one is unique with too many good things to be able to pick a favorite. Some farm stand owners have added baked goods, nuts and jams, too and like my Daddy used to say, “We don’t want to slight anyone,” so it would be typical for us to stop at two or three produce stands during our summer trips to the beach many years ago. There is just something special about buying farm fresh vegetables and tree-ripened fruit! The flavors of the food are so intense and the fruits are extra juicy. We loved July, especially for the peaches, and if we were lucky, we could talk someone into making some homemade peachy vanilla ice cream for us. It was declared a special treat if it was dipped in cones that would end up dripping down our elbow in the summer heat.

The Bible talks of fruit on more than one occasion. The reference that I like the best is being able to tell what a person is all about by the fruit they produce. To simplify it, a good tree produces good fruit most of the time and a bad and diseased tree produces bad fruit. Both trees may look the same, but it is what is happening on the inside that we cannot see. The same applies to people. It is soul-filling to spend time with a person that is full of encouragement, love and support with every word they dispense. We are drawn to those people that have a way of bringing out the best in us. In contrast, have you ever seen someone all dressed up in the finest clothing, shiniest shoes and coiffed hair and your impression was very good? And then they spoke and their words reflected the opposite of their pristine appearance. The true essence of what is within is not always visible, but it will be eventually illuminated. In Galatians 5:22 we are told what good fruit is. In everything we do, think and become, we should be rooted in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. Then everyone will want to share in our fruit and that is how we teach and pass it on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 14, 2009

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. –Matthew 6:4 NIV

When the weather is hot and the air humid, thunderstorms are likely to occur. They are caused when the warm air rises and then cools. That is what produces the thunderclouds. Within these clouds there is rapid air movement which causes water and ice to bump against each other. A static electrical charge is released and that energy results in the form of lightening and thunder. On the Outer Banks, I think an afternoon thunderstorm is actually a nice welcome at times. It cools a hot day, the rain washes away the days’ footprints in the sand and often times, when the storm is over, the summer haze is blown away with the wind to reveal a cloudless blue sky.
Storms are not always welcome. Some people feel fear and anxiety with an approaching storm. But fear and anxiety do nothing to help us…we can’t chase the storm away with our fear and worry. No, we just have to sit it out. We know to protect ourselves and get out of its’ path. To take shelter and to”batten down the hatches” as they say.

In our lives, we must also weather storms. Not the ones that come in the summer afternoon on a hot and humid day, but the emotional storms that can wreak havoc on our relationships. Sometimes we don’t see these types of storms brewing. But over time, circumstances can cause misunderstandings, disagreements and offenses to add up, which can be stronger and more electrically charged than any thunderstorm Mother Nature can hurl at us. The things that we can control and make right, we should do. When we are at the receiving end of someone’s unloving behavior towards us, we can do nothing more than weather the storm till it blows over… and pray, of course. The Bible says that love covers over all offenses. So when it depends on us, we should always choose love, not hate and pray for the wind to change direction. “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” by Louisa May Alcott.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Treasured Moments

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
July 08, 2009

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1 NIV

The last few weeks I have been caught up in the joy of new motherhood and grand parenting, all at once. There has been a lot going on. My husband and I recently said our final farewell to our precious 15 year old cocker spaniel. He was a good old soul. Cranky most times, but very loyal and protective. A good friend, he was. I miss my old buddy and all his little quirks and am grateful he was in our life. We had many treasured moments with him. It is said one of the best tributes you can give to the memory of a beloved pet is to open your home and heart to another one. Although we cautioned ourselves about making any hasty decisions as we moved forward, we surprised ourselves and within one afternoon, we had a new pup and all the fixin’s that went with it. Parents again!! When we found out the pup was born on Easter morning at sunrise, we figured it was a “divine” connection. We trusted God to turn our mourning into joy and He certainly did! Chewed shoelaces, squeaky dog toys and games of “tug” have consumed us. Happily, our home is alive once again with new life and hope.

On the heels of welcoming the new puppy, we were overjoyed to have the company of our 12 year old grand daughter for a two week visit. Spending time with her is so rewarding for us. She is sweet, smart and helpful. Our treasured moments are when we pray together in the morning and at bedtime. She bought herself a little book to enter the names of all of the people she wanted to pray for so she wouldn’t forget anyone. It is the childlike faith she has that warms my heart, especially when she starts off her prayers saying, “Hey God, it’s me, Brianna. I hope you are having a good day”. How precious and innocent. She is building her relationship with Him one prayer at a time. Looking back one day when she is grown, hopefully she will fondly remember this particular visit when she memorized the 23rd Psalm perfectly and felt such pride at her accomplishment. How wonderful to be a witness to her spiritual growth. Now that she has returned home, I hope that she tucked a few treasured moments of her own into her heart for the trip back.

Treasured moments accumulate over a lifetime and are God’s gifts to our soul. They are the symbols of the emotion that connects us to many things…a relationship, an event, a place, a time. With godly wisdom as our guide, we recognize those times and hold them close. We collect those special times, those treasured moments to store in our souls for comfort along our own journey. Some memories bring us joy and laughter. Other memories contain sorrow because we can’t go back to the way things once were. God is there for us every step of the way. Taking the act of faith to move forward to the future is a bit easier when we carry a heart full of treasured moments from the past.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The American Flag

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass
July 01, 2009

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV

This Fourth of July, I will hang my American flag on the front of my home as I do each year. But this year, it seems to symbolize more to me that it ever has before. Love. Love of country and love of our servicemen for their sacrifice. What is love? One dictionary describes love as “to hold someone dear, to cherish them, to feel affection.” My favorite definition is “the unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good.” There are many different kinds of love. There is fatherly love, motherly love, sisterly love, brotherly love, puppy love, romantic love, and so much more. But this is not a lesson in defining love, but instead, a reminder to strive for love, to show love, to give love, receive love and enjoy love. Everyone needs love to live. It is life to the body and the spirit, both physically and emotionally.

If we think that we should give more love to those around us, yet don’t know where to start, we could begin with God. He loves us always. We can have faith that He will fill us with love overflowing! Our hope is in Him, because when we feel alone and there is no one else for us, His love for us never waivers. It is hard to give something to someone if we don’t have it to give. But, if we enter into a new or a renewed relationship with God, we can feel and absorb His love so that you we can pass it on. If we have a hardened heart from the past, we can ask for forgiveness and He will oblige. 1 John 4:16 tells us, “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. To love, is to obey God and his commands. “Let those love now who never loved before; Let those who always loved, now love the more”-Thomas Parnell