Remember and Never Forget

At times like these, I wish so much I hadn’t already overused words like “amazed” or “awed” to describe what I’m feeling about God. Or “blown away” or “astonished” or “stunned.” For instance, I think I recall using a few of those very words about a red bird I saw in my yard yesterday. Not that God’s handiwork displayed on the delicate wings of a bird of such brilliant color that it has its own name (cardinal red) isn’t amazing. It’s just that I feel something on a slightly larger and more personal scale right now. I wish I’d reserved a few of the synonyms for “awed” for those rarer moments when I feel it to such full measure that my skin almost feels too tight for my soul. When I’m half tempted to do nothing but sit, stare out a window, and shake my head for hours on end. Times I want to say something like, “Who is this God who pursues us so personally?” Or in the psalmist’s words, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” I wouldn’t bother sharing this sense I have in my heart with you if I thought moments like these weren’t smattered on the canvases of all followers of Christ. But they are. You’ve had them, too. I’m hoping you’ll remember some of them today. And perhaps you’ve had these moment of inexpressible awe for the very same reason:

The flabbergasting (I’ve overused that word, too) timing of God.

Timing that illustrates to you once again that the God of the universe who called the heavens and earth into existence really does know you are alive and what you are presently experiencing…and even thinking.

You’ve had times like the one I’m currently experiencing. Times when God made sure you were studying a particular thing at the exact time when it spoke most profoundly into that stretch of your journey. For instance, think of a time when you didn’t get to go through a particular Bible study journey during the same set of weeks as your regular discipleship group and maybe you didn’t get around to it for several years…but, when you did, you realized that God had distinctly held it for you until then. I mean, how on earth does He know??


You and I know the answer to that question Biblically. God is omniscient. A meticulous planner is He. But psychologically, don’t we still find it shocking? I mean, how on earth does He have the energy to keep up with millions of His followers and exactly what we need and at exactly which time?


Yes, we know the answer to that question Biblically, too. But, humanly, aren’t we still sometimes taken aback by it?


While Melissa and I were studying James together, she got wrapped up in the Book of Deuteronomy (they have flagrant ties) and talked about it enough that I also got drawn in. Enough, in fact, that by early Fall I knew God was preparing me to teach portions of it in our Tuesday night series that would begin in late January. (She would also co-teach by writing coinciding articles for our Bible study group. It’s the one we are currently serving.)


In preparation for the January series, I decided to start reading the Book of Deuteronomy as part of my quiet time every morning starting in November (of 2011). I did not in any way have preconceived notions about the theme in the life of the Israelites matching up to a major move in my personal life. I chose it strictly because it would prepare me daily toward teaching parts of it several months later. Of course, I anticipated that God would speak to me through it because His Word is alive and active but I had no thought of the concept being perfectly timed for me personally.


As God would have it, the whole book was/is about moving to new ground. (To us this side of Christ’s ascension, this shift to a land of promise would serve powerfully as a metaphor for new ground in our fruit-bearing as obvious disciples of Jesus Christ but, for me, it happened at a time when the applications were multilayered and so much so that, to ignore it would have been a fool’s choice.) And here’s the part that left me slack-jawed. One of the most powerful messages in the Deuteronomy is the warning never to forget where you’ve been with Him, what He has done for you, and that He alone is your God and that to forget Him is total destruction to you. From Chapter 8 alone…


V.2   “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you.”

V.11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God.”

V.14  “lest, when you have eaten and are full and built good houses and live in them …then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…”

V.18  “You shall remember the Lord your God.”

V.19  “And if you forget the Lord your God, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.”


Let me tell you something, Sweet Thing. There is nothing quite like emptying out a house you’ve been thoroughly entrenched in for nearly thirty years to cause you to remember. Keith sat across from me a few days ago, leaned back in the chair, placed his large palms on his knees – almost as if to brace himself – and said as soberly as anything I’ve ever heard him utter, “I have relived 25 years of our lives as I have cleared out that attic.” It wasn’t the time for me to correct him on exactly how many years it had been. “Well, 27 to be exact” was not about to come out of my mouth. In fact, I hardly said anything at all. I just nodded my head and sat in silence for a few minutes with him. It was a sacred selah because I knew that some of the things he’d remembered had brought joy. And some of the things he’d remembered had brought pain. I knew because the same thing had happened to me. The next day we were in his truck together going to Dairy Queen for a chocolate malt when I brought it back up.


“Keith, don’t you think it is so incredibly odd that God made sure you were out of town while I (and the movers) packed the house up for our move then you did the whole attic by yourself because I was back at work? Do you think it could be any coincidence that God had each of us by ourselves to remember so much of our lives there?”


Same house. Same children. Many of the same exact occurrences. But two completely different people with distinct DNA who processed the same events very differently. Just as Amanda would have. Just as Melissa would have. Just as even Michael would have after his seven short years in our home. You and I share many corporate events with the people in our familial circles: births, deaths, disappointments, celebrations, routines, great surprises, sudden crises. But, if we’ll let Him, God tends to us all uniquely and intimately and means each of us to glean something distinct in the process. Maybe something altogether opposite from the person sitting right beside us at the time.


The kinds of things we unearthed in the move seemed strategically planted by God, set right there for us to find one at a time as if we were following closely to a dog-eared treasure map.

Several of them came to me in a box Keith found in the attic. I’d forgotten it existed.

 I took the lid off and saw this:

Very uncharacteristically, Keith had looked through the whole thing before giving it to me. Don’t think that won’t make a woman nervous. In it, he’d found the first card he ever gave me. We laughed until our sides split over how beautifully it depicted us. It was like we’d had a word of knowledge about what was coming. Our whole 33 year old marriage has been the steady recycling of this exact same card given back and forth to one another:

Inside the box was the very first prayer journal I suppose I ever owned. I think that I recall a revival pastor coming to my church at the time and telling us about these little notebooks and I purchased one. I smile as I try to estimate how many I’ve purchased since. I used one this very morning.

It’s so moving to find keepsakes that you actually dated and penned with your own (young!) hand. I would have sensed the call of God on my life and walked the aisle at my church to make it public one summer before.

I read many things in that first journal that made me smile and others that pooled the tears in my eyes. Others out right mystified me. To say that I was in denial over my past childhood abuse is a mind-boggling understatement but that’s another subject for another time.  Let me just say for now that I watched my own pen flat-out lie to me over and over again. I even thanked God for the relationship I had with someone who’d abused me. Nuts. That very malfunction would put me in counseling in my early thirties. I woke up alright. That subject aside, I want to show you a specific page out of the journal because it held significant tenderness for me.

See the very top entry? That was intercession for the young people I got to serve at my home church. I was sponsoring that very group at a church camp when I first sensed a vocational call. See that second entry? I did hurt that person. A very wonderful person who deserved far better. I didn’t want to hurt him. But I surely did. I was on a terrible rebound and couldn’t be trusted emotionally. See that third entry? It was about a possible internship at a church in the Houston area. (The town is Humble, Texas. Not the name of the church. I wonder now if I meant First Baptist Humble but I’m not sure. Back then, I might not have known the difference. Grin.) They didn’t hire me and, at the time, I almost talked myself into believing that I’d made up the whole calling. I find it interesting and pathetic how quickly we (I) tend to give up and think God has passed us (me) by. I’d have made a terrible Abraham.

Now, look back up at that last entry from the page in my first journal. I fell head-over-heels in love with a young man in college who I dated for the better part of two years. He never even pretended to feel the same way about me (not his fault, God’s will) and my beaten-up heart finally shattered into a thousand pieces as I accepted it as a lost cause and bowed out. Fast forward 35 years. What makes this discovery in the journal so tender is that I received a call several weeks ago from my college roommate telling me in tears that this young man – who was now in his mid-fifties – had died that very morning of a heart attack. No warning. No prior heart problem. I had not seen him in many years. I grieved immediately and deeply for his lovely wife who he adored and who would miss him terribly. Only God could have had the tenderness to let me see this page only a short time later and have a moment’s personal mourning and remembrance over someone I’d felt much for many years earlier. God did not owe me that. It was tender mercy. Who but Christ does something like that??

There were other treasures found elsewhere. Like this picture of Keith and me boarding a cruise liner the morning after we married. (Our honeymoon was our wedding gift from his parents. We wouldn’t have two extra nickles to rub together for many years.)

That was the man I was meant to marry. And we have continued to ride many waves. It was deeply significant to me that God not only planned for me to find treasures from my spiritual journey. He also had similar intentions for Keith. I had never seen these certificates and Keith had no memory of them being placed in his possession by his parents. 



We found a whole bag of cassette-taped messages from Buddy Walters, the mentor that God used to strike a flaming desire in my heart to study Scripture. He was my first Bible doctrine teacher. These messages were preached years later at the church in North Carolina where he served as associate pastor.

Curtis converted them into CD’s for me last week. I’ve been listening to them and hearing the echo of that strong voice of authority and affection for the Lord Jesus Christ that took my breath away in my mid-twenties. Buddy died in his mid-forties and has been with the Lord for many years now but his ministry is poured into every message we have at Living Proof. God’s ways are so strange and beautiful. God knew that I could not fully “remember” my journey with Him without remembering the sound of this mouthpiece. My deepest love affair with Jesus through His Word began under that man’s teaching.

You can quite imagine that we unearthed artifact after artifact from our children’s lives. Stuffed animals. Artwork. Report cards. Clothes. You name it. I hadn’t seen this picture in so long. We were at Keith’s baby sister’s wedding. Oh, mercy, I love these two little girls so much. In this mother’s heart, they are about this same age.

I shared with you in a post soon after we moved (Dec. 2011) that I’d declared to Keith that I’d never leave that house. I also told you that one (irrational, unexplainable) reason was the fear that our time with Michael (who lived with us for seven years) would seem less real, further removed, and the door permanently closed. It was real alright. In this move, we’ve discovered him all over our house. Stacks and stacks of pictures, albums, artwork, report cards, etc, etc, etc. I found this letter that we received some months after he left.

Spud was our nickname for him. I also found this particular school picture. It was the year he departed our home. Wasn’t he beautiful?

As it turned out, the move did not distance us further nor close the door permanently. I have seen him as recently as two weeks ago and get to stay in regular communication with him. God is so gracious. Michael looks fairly different now but he is still so darling. He is a tattoo artist and has practiced a good deal on himself. I am smiling. I love him. And I am so, so proud of him. 

The 8th chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy says to remember “the whole way” (V.2) the Lord has led you. The “terrible” (NASB) and “terrifying” (ESV) wilderness (V.15) and the miracles of manna and water from the flinty rock. (Vv.15-16) Translation? Remember the awful times. Remember the awesome times. I not only dug up sweet memories. I’ve stumbled upon some terrifying ones. Some that I wish to heaven I could have forgotten. Some that make my skin crawl. I found journal entries from a time of such utter darkness in my life that only God could have brought me through in one piece. Reading my pleas from that time stirred up such strong emotions that I could have thrown up. I kept having to remind myself to keep my memories in the light of God and not let them descend into the darkness of the enemy. When I remember them before God who delivered me, I am helped. When I remember them before the enemy who full-well meant to destroy me, I am haunted. Oh, the grace and mercy God has had upon my life. He is the only good in me. I’m sure Keith found reminders of some dark days of his own. And those are between God and him. I’ll leave you with one last picture. Keith sent me this one from his phone two days ago to let me know that the house was completely empty. Don’t think it wasn’t significant to me.


Oh, yes, Lord. I definitely remember the heaps of trash. Thank You for assuring us that, through Your mercy, all of it – EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT – has been thrown into the depths of the sea, swallowed up in a fountain of blood.YOU ALONE are our God. YOU ALONE delivered Keith and I from such miry clay. YOU ALONE have kept my family in tact. YOU ALONE have spared us so much shame and lifelong defeat. You alone persistently dogged us with Your Holy Spirit and Your Word until we could no longer cover our ears. You alone saw people worth fixing in our brokenness. And You still do. I never want to forget, Lord. Never. 

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God…who brought you out of the house of slavery.”

Deuteronomy 8:16 says something so riveting that I can hardly read it without having a visceral reaction. It says that God TESTS us and HUMBLES us “to do you good in the end.”

In the end. Seems like we’ve heard that somewhere before. Somewhere this side of the Cross.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV




374 Responses to “Remember and Never Forget”

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  1. 301
    Emilee Hall says:

    Oh, thank you so much for sharing that! It always means so much that you are so real and open with us.
    I love you!

  2. 302
    Doris says:

    WOW – I’m overcome with emotion reading this. Haven’t “checked in” with you in a few weeks. Your emotions are the same I just had a bit over 6 months ago when we move out of our home of many years, knowing that the kids (both in graduate school) would NOT be returning. Heart-breaking, but we had to face it and move on. TORE ME UP!! Reading your account brings back fresh feelings. Thanks for sharing. Glad to know that I wasn’t the only one facing that kind of roller coaster. Thank goodness God doesn’t change! SO FAITHFUL!

  3. 303
    Lori says:

    I have had this same discussion with a close friend recently, how I shouldn’t be amazed at God’s timing but yet is so awesome & amazing how He works. I recently began counseling for abuse I experienced as a child. Prior to starting my sessions, I began reading Breaking Free. I had bought it a few years ago, but it wasn’t the time for me to read it yet. It was all in God’s timing. I have found that the chapters I have read match up exactly with where I am in my counseling sessions.
    Thank you for following God’s leading in your life & giving a voice to so many of us who have been been crying in silence for so long.

  4. 304
    WendyB says:

    I cleaned out my house of 21 years just three years ago, and for every single photo you shared above, I have a startlingly similar equivalent. I sort of “powered through” the leaving of the beloved home, and haven’t yet dared take the precious moments to reflect, because I’ve been afraid I’d be completely undone by the sweetness and the raw pain. I had to give up a lot of my boxes of treasures in order to downsize, and so many organized and minimalist friends told me I wouldn’t miss a thing, but I do!
    My story ended differently – my marriage didn’t survive, and I’ve begun a whole new life, complete with its own set of challenges. My daughter may or may not ever forgive me for selling the home she grew up in – when I think of her first steps in that hall, the pencil marks on the wall in the laundry room marking her height for the first 19 years of her life, I almost hope she makes good on her vow to buy the house back and raise her own children there.
    Meanwhile, I just wanted you to know, Beth, that another Siesta of your age knows truly, exactly how you feel as you sort your life one certificate, one cassette tape, one school picture, one painful memory, one gorgeous memory at a time.
    Love to you.
    PS – I’ve posted here since the beginning of the blog (three or four years now?) as WendyB, and was bummed to find out that name was already taken on the little Gravatar thing, so henceforth, in order to have the photo, I’ll be WendyBrz, same as my twitter name. Sigh – I hate change!

    • 304.1
      Beth says:

      Thank you for writing, Wendy. I felt the sincerity and compassion of it. Jesus has surely been with you because He shows in your words.

  5. 305
    Michele says:


    How God has used you and continues to use your honesty, courage, knowledge and compassion brings me so much hope. I am in awe of him as well and one of my overused words to describe His blanket of grace that has been covering me since my abuse is………dumbfounded!!!!!!
    I want to first thank God for loving me and showing me I am love able. I am smart and I never lost my childlike faith that the evil one had tried to convince me of for the past 33 years. Second, thank you Beth! For being obedient to His calling and for crushing the devils head by overcoming your abuse that he intended to destroy you with. I am your sister in Christ and I am another warrior that is defeating the devil that came in the form of abuse in my childhood. in Him, with Him and through Him!!!!!!! Michele

  6. 306
    Cindy says:

    Thank you Beth for sharing so much of yourself with us. You have had such an impact in my life. Just today a precious friend led me to read your sisters blog. She felt it would help me as she knows I’m nervous about my son getting out of prison. I then saw this and as I was reading I couldn’t help but smile when you were talking about Micheal’s tattos. My son is coming home almost compltely covered in tattos- nearly all from prison. But it doesn’t change my love for him. It’s only outward anyway. I’m much more concerned about his heart. So thank you again for sharing your life.

  7. 307
    L says:


    I am an IMB missionary from Sub Saharan Africa. My mom and dad, Ann and Clyde Berkley, were in the Southern African Regional office in Zimbabwe working under Gordon Fort and with DRay and Kim Davis back in the day you and your sweet husband got to go on safari with all those missionary ladies. My mom still talks about that conference! Anyway, thank you for your recent post, thank you esp. for the Believing God study which we are doing right now at the church we are at – just like you mentioned, God puts things in our paths at just the right time. My husband was diagnosed with a neurological condition called cervical dystonia about 2 years ago and it has sent us home for an un-planned medical leave to sort out the management of the condition, which causes him extreme pain and discomfort. It has been an EXTREMELY discouraging time, struggling with depression and despair. SO MANY are praying for us, though, and it has been CRAZY how God is sending us messages CONSTANTLY through His word, sermons, radio programs, other people, and Bible Studies like yours,even our kids devotional books and Sunday School lessons, to BELIEVE HIM. We even have been driving by churches and seen signs to that effect, and we just turn and look at each other. It is actually kind of wild, like that movie the Matrix, like God is saying, WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT REALITY, BELIEVE ME! We would appreciate if you all at LPM keep a prayer list, if you all would add my husband, Jeff and I on your list. Thank you for your service to the kingdom. To God be the glory.

  8. 308
    Lori says:

    All I can say is, “Thank you for this!”

  9. 309
    Jennifer says:

    God is awesome! He used this post to speak clearly to me today! We have been going through a deep valley for the last few years, but I can see the Lord slowly pulling us out of it now. He is telling me to not ever forgot WHO it is that is restoring us!

  10. 310
    Jamie says:

    Oh Beth, thank you for sharing. You are a dear, and I love you and am so very thankful for you! I’m been remembering some of my childhood on my own blog. This past year my mom sold the home I grew up in and it caused me to remember. I am closer in age to your daughter’s but it doesn’t stop me from identifying with your post. Words cannot say how grateful I am to you!

  11. 311
    jennifer says:

    I really enjoyed reading this at this time. I graduated from college and have been going through everything I had left in my room at home. It was fun to find things I had forgotten I even had and read through journals I wrote when I was in elementary school. And it’s cool to see how God has been with me along the way.

  12. 312

    Beth…there is so much I wish I could adequately say to you, but it has something to do with the fact that the Lord has used you time and again to encourage me in my walk with Him…My life has been hard for me. It was never easy. He has transformed you, Beth. He has been everything good and beautiful and redeeming to you. He has given you life, and life to the full. Because He has been able to do that for you, it gives me hope that He can do that for me too. Some days, it seems like living for 70 or 80 years is too long to live and still stay even remotely sane. But then, I remember that our lives are merely a breath, and He is the One Who is able to carry us, even to our graying years. And He will be the same. He has done it. He will carry us. He will deliver us. Who can we liken Him to? He is God and there is no other…this is a hard, confusing, and scary season for me right now, but I have to believe that He will do what Romans 8:28-29 says.

  13. 313
    Sadee says:

    OOOOO how I needed to read this this very morning…..thank you.

  14. 314
    paige geter says:

    what an anointed post. Deuteronomy is one of my favorite books because of God’s constant call to not forget. Thank you for this timely post when doubt seems to be all I can remember.

  15. 315
    Pamela Lark says:

    So true how doing a BIBLE STUDY just at God’s timing.
    My Sunday School class is doing Believing God.
    Just this week we are on the lesson of how God had Israelites gather 12 stones as remembrance.
    Goes right along with the verses in Deuteronomy.
    Also, we are studying BELIEVING GOD & our church just moved a few months ago & this lesson went right along with the timing because i could tell my class that we put 12 stones in front of the cross in front of our new church.

  16. 316
    Aimee J says:

    Ok, the honeymoon picture, can we say Barbie and Ken??? Seriously Beth, gorgeous! The point you made about keeping our memories in the light of God and not letting them decend into darkness completely resonated with me. I find myself battling with my mind at times over cringe-worthy memories. Thank you so much for that statement (and so many others). I’ve never really thought of in that way but the next time I begin to cringe, I will remeber those words and bring it into the light. Love you!

  17. 317
    Kristi says:

    I’m sure you’ve been asked this a thousand times before, but have you ever done any writing about your journey with Michael?

    My husband and I have an almost-3-year-old boy that we’ve been raising since he was born. He’s a relative and therefore not an official foster child. The state has taken custodial rights away from his mother, but we’ve yet to be able to adopt him. We’re facing having to give him up next month because of a situation that’s out of our control and we are crushed. I can’t imagine life without our Little Man.

    Every time I think we’re completely alone in this, God shows us someone else who has been on a similar path – but every person we’ve talked to has been able to eventually adopt the child. So, I was just wondering how you got through those first few months without him.

  18. 318
    Inkling says:

    This post was so special to read, because I just did something very similar. We moved our storage to a small unit my husband built in our landlord’s barn, and not too many days ago we spent hours having a bonfire to burn many of the contents of my multitude of “memory boxes”. I had already spent about a week reading through each page and looking at each picture. It wasn’t easy, and the burning felt so necessary.

    I could see in my journals where disobedience and darkness had reigned, and where Jesus had stepped in time after time to woo me to repentance (usually through one of your Bible studies and the talk you did at Passion in the late 90’s). Burning all of that at the same time that I’m memorizing the part in James 1 where he talks about us not just listening but “doing” seemed exactly the right thing to do. Because I’m desperate to not just know but to finally do the perfect law that gives freedom.

  19. 319
    Monica says:

    BETH!!!!!! I have been doing bible studies with you since the beginning and have been wondering about Michael all these years. Thank you for sharing that little bit about him; and I am glad there is still a connection. I am in tears over it!!!!

  20. 320
    JJ says:

    Barbie and Ken definitely!!
    All that you have posted strikes a deep chord. When you get to a certain number of years into your marriage, it’s good to look back……..but at the same time it can be bitter sweet. I’m still trying to purge out all the “junk” in my life both spiritual and physical.
    You are the real deal!

  21. 321
    Debra says:

    Debra Hammond ( sorry in late)
    Life application Bible!!!!!

  22. 322
    Gazella Summitt says:

    Beth, I have completed two of your Bible studies, “Breaking Away” and just finished “James”! How I have enjoyed getting to know you and to learn from your teaching! Along with my sisters I have made new friends during the study and have grown spiritually.

    However, I do have one question. The table you used during the Study on James, appeared to be old and even had rusty legs. I found myself wondering what does this table mean to Beth. Please let me know.

  23. 323
    Becky says:

    I just came across this post tonight and I’m sitting here, smiling. Recently, I read Exodus to our children. I wanted them to know that God is with them on their journey. I had so much to teach them. Little did I know, that I was in the back of that pack of Israelites, ready to cross over my own Red Sea of impossiblities. My husband’s work was changing. Overwhelming fear swelled up in my heart, like waves. I knew there was no way we would even begin to put food on the table and feed five little mouths, plus my handicapped sister who was living with us at the time. I begged God for another way. I just couldn’t see up ahead, and my planner self does NOT like that!

    We’ve now crossed that Red Sea of troubled waters. And when I turn around and see my fears swept away with the chariots, I shamefully hang my head and say, “Why did I ever doubt you, Lord? You have never given me any reason to doubt. Fear does not come from you. Perfect love casts that out!” It is good to remember. I’m thankful that I stopped here tonight. I rejoice with you all… “Thank you, God, that you never ever left me. Please, help me to never leave you!”

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