The Beauty in the Threadbare

I won’t publish this post until Monday morning but I’m writing it to you a little after 6:00 PM on Sunday evening. I’m only giving myself a little while to finish it so that I won’t awaken tomorrow morning wanting to whisper, woe is me, it’s work, work, work. Blah, blah, blah. Work martyrs are fake martyrs. They don’t count. They’re too self-important. It dawned on me about 2 years ago that no one was making me work nonstop but me so why, then, did I want to find somebody to blame for driving this skeleton like a shovel into quicksand? Anyway, I want to dance with my grandchildren at their weddings.

So, wonders never cease, some things in my life actually changed for a change but that’s another story for another time.ย  I like work. That’s the biggest issue. I love it even. But the body makes certain demands that are harder to ignore in more, how shall I say, seasoned years. That there is not always energy to spare after decades of flying high on fumes has been a glorious, unsolicited gift to me and one that came as a shock after major surgery and a serious cancer threat. I have savored what I do – researching, studying, serving – and what God has placed around me – many friends and fellow sojourners – and what I get to experience in my 4-generation family so much more in an ever-so-slightly less revved up gear.

For instance, I’m more apt to let time suspend for a few seconds and count the steps it takes for Annabeth to run to me from the car with a smile stretched from sea to shining sea. And I make notes – at least mental and sometimes actual handwritten – of the statements that cause the most prominent lisps with Jackson’s three missing front teeth. Friday night I had to purely look away at the dinner table when he said, “Did my mommy show you the pictures of the two postcards they sent?” Show-pictures-postcards-sent. Perfect. I tried to act like I was reflecting with my elbow on the table and my chin on my fist while I steeled myself to answer, “No, but she told me about them. I want to see them!” (It was everything I could do not to ask him to please repeat the question.) Amanda and I laughed later until we nearly had to kick our legs for relief.

I thank God for lessons only time can adequately teach and for still leaving room for airplanes, short nights, hikes, books, Bible dictionaries, and bikes. And still a fair amount of revving up. I’m not sure I could bear revlessness.

My man’s been gone for the day so it was all mine for the taking. I had a reflective, worshipful morning at church despite four shots of coffee strong enough to cleanse the sinuses and shear the throat like a spring sheep. (Remind me to get Jackson to read that sentence later.) I sat next to my firstborn on the front row and received a word about forgiveness from a pastor I greatly respect and took the Bread and the Cup with a depth of seriousness that made them feel especially healing to me. Maybe even filling. I was touched in my soul when I saw the elements on the edge of the stage in the chapel, just waiting to be served. I had not known we were to receive them but I had hoped. Right at the Clay Road exit on Beltway 8 as I was nearing our church that morning, a few lines turned in my head. I jotted them down in the parking lot.

O Glorious Lord’s Day

Our souls to awake

Saints to be gathered

Awash in glad grace

Called to the table

Jesus the Head

Partake, all you ransomed ones

By love come be fed.

I love church. What a harbor it has been to me through the years. I love the Table. I love its Head. My life would be a black hole without Christ and the communion of saints.

I drove my nearly 40 minutes home from church, fired up the stove and heated up Keith’s homemade chicken soup from yesterday – perfect for our first bona fide autumn day in Houston, Texas – and I ate a blistering bowlful by a wide-open book. Satisfied and sleepy, I heaved myself into the king-size hammock my coworkers gave me last year and held on tight till it quit swinging. It takes about 3 minutes. I read a little more, laughed, sighed, reflected. This is said hammock. I clipped this particular shot the day before.

Then, after a cup of tea, I pulled on my rubber boots to pay up on that promise of a walk I’d made to Queen Esther who’d nearly knocked me out of the hammock earlier, book sent flying, with her obsessive compulsion for closeness.

I was only about three minutes into our usual walk in the country when I said to the air what I’ve said to Keith one hundred times. “This is my favorite spot on this walk.” So I pulled out my iPhone to take a picture of it for at least the 15th time. I’m not exaggerating. I take the same exact shot over and over. Then I looked at it, blew out my lips in frustration and said again to the air, “I can never get this picture to turn out as fabulous as this really is.”

Then I looked at it again. And that’s when I realized for the very first time that the reason why I can never fully capture the beauty of it is because it’s really not all that spectacular. Quaintly pretty, yes. To us nature lovers anyway. Maybe a four. Maybe just a three.

But, it’s not what high-dollar sightseers would throw hand to chest over, bracing for visually-induced coronary thrombosis, exclaiming Breathtaking! Stunning! Well, I never!

No, now, THIS is the kind of thing you clutch your heart over:

I took that picture from a Delta airplane window exactly two years ago just before landing in that valley for a couple of days. I’m not sure there is a place more beautiful than Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the pioneered universe. Not to me anyway. But somehow when I’m there I can never get past the sight of it. I always plan to do my most creative writing there but I rarely do. Somehow, when nothing is left to my imagination, well, then…nothing is left to my imagination. It’s all filled up. And that’s that.

That’s the revelation I got today. The reason I can’t capture the beauty in these crude woods on camera is because it’s a beauty felt more than seen. It doesn’t scream anything. It won’t interrupt you while you’re talking. It doesn’t beg anyone to pen or paint it.

Simple things tend to have more manners. They won’t say a word if you don’t let them. If we don’t shut up, they will. But it will be our loss.

The beauty in the threadbare. The beauty in the unswept scenes that refuse to finish everything out for you. Or think for you. They leave the spiderwebs to walk into and the realistic fear of a snake slithering by. They leave you to have to kick the dried-up mud off your boots when you get home and to run the water hose over your slobbering dog. And, while you’re at them, they won’t leave you so speechless you can’t answer the phone in your back pocket. Go right ahead if you want to. And sometimes you’ll be glad you did. But other times, you might just get that sense that you walked and talked right past something special, if only vaguely special in a world overwrought with specialties.

The chance not only to see beauty.

But to feel it.

May God grant us this day a whisper of His beauty that sweeps right past our vision and dives deeply like a stream into our world-parched souls.



215 Responses to “The Beauty in the Threadbare”

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  1. 51
    Bobbie Lutz says:

    I love your heart-you share it so beautifully! The peace that comes with a ‘Country Silence’ is a gift for sure! Enjoy!

  2. 52
    elaine says:

    Your beautiful words have caused me to not be able to find mine at this moment. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 53

    Beth, thank you for sharing yourself with us. I love the way you write and speak (heard you for the first time in Kansas City this April). Am now in the “Believing God” study (after reading the book, I’m taking the study – too good to miss the whole enchilada!). With love and thanks from Karen

  4. 54
    godgirlgail says:

    Any nature walk hold simple beauty. Best kind in my book! Recently, there was a storm a brewing over Galveston and all I had was my phone handy. Took several pictures and couldn’t believe how well they came out. One of them struck me so strongly, it’s now my blog header. A phone picture!

  5. 55
    Kristen says:

    A while ago I read a book {Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons} and one chapter was entitled, “Poetry In Ordinary Things.”

    Something about that phrase completely captured me and started to shape my life to slow down, breathe in a little more, stop and notice the poetry happening all around in ordinary things. Your words today remind me of the beauty in that, as I’ve been going, going, going for months now. Ready for the holidays so I can rest. Rest doesn’t have to wait though, does it?

    Every time there is a new post here, I come to comment about your study on Daniel and the words fail me. I just want to say thank you. I’ve done many of your studies – and they all move me forward, all caused change – but Daniel. Daniel has wrecked my life for the better. Many tears shed on the pages of his story, many prayers whispered, it was just what I needed at just the right time. And I’m so grateful. When I look back at 2012 — I will see a man of integrity walking in faith, step by step, and a woman – coming out of the worst season of her life – learning to do the same.

    • 55.1
      Kimberly Kyllo says:

      Kristen….now you’re making me cry! Love what you wrote. Thanks for sharing YOUR heart! Be blessed siesta!

      • Karene says:

        Kristen, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I had the very same experience with Daniel! I even did it twice, back to back, and it ministered to me as much the 2nd time. It also brought me out of the worst time of my life, but into the best. And this was 6 years ago. Thanks for sharing. Take care.

  6. 56
    Pamela McDonald says:

    Loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Your writing is beautiful.I espiecially loved your comment “simple things tend to have more manners.”

    I am currently reading your book “Feathers From My Nest”. I keep the tissues handy at all times.:) A wonderful read!!

    Have a blessed week.

  7. 57
    MaryJo says:

    You continue to bless me! I thank God for you and your amazing way to touch my life. I pray for you, my friend in Christ,

  8. 58
    Debbie says:

    Ahh Beth… “May God grant us this day a whisper of His beauty that sweeps right past our vision and dives deeply like a stream into our world-parched souls.” What a beautiful blessing. Thank you. I’ve past it in on to those I love on my fb. It made me think particularly today, about our youngest backpacking through South and Central America — on her own. (Now if that isn’t an obvious explanation for this mother’s rough knees!) She sent a picture from Columbia yesterday that made my jaw drop. I could SEE God as I looked at His handiwork. Even though it was on an iphone (her camera was stolen when her room was robbed in Nicaragua — a third floor room, bars on the window…angels standing guard…God must have a very good purpose) (God has given my daughter the gift of “picture taking”…I’m sure its listed somewhere in one of the letters to the Corinthians) (see my facebook, you’ll see Him too in that amazing handiwork)…Anyway, forgive my rambling…My prayer for her as she travels is so similar to this blessing of yours. That GOD would be her greatest experience on this adventure…that she would come home forever marked and satisfied by The One, the Ancient of Days who loves her and created everything she sees and in the natures and wonders she so loves.

    Second, Beth, I am learning so much from you as you post about letting God make me into the person and personality He created me to be…who ever that might be…because He created and is shaping and forming it, it will be delightful. You, my dear Sister are being used of God to bless me with lessons you have no idea you are blessing me with. I thank you and Him. It brings tears to my eyes to get a picture of how much He desires me to be, well (a sanctified ๐Ÿ™‚ ) me. Thank you.

    I send you a great big hug!

  9. 59
    Cynthia M Evans says:

    God is the great I AM — we are designed to be human BEings, not human DOings…

    Ahhh to live it out!


  10. 60
    Megan-Elise Filzen says:

    This was exactly what I needed today, this day, as I come to a crossroad in my life. To stop and take in the beauty that God has so graciously gave for his glory. A year ago walking in the fall leaves I felt that beauty and as the winter weather came and business of my own wedding, moving to the Midwest from New York…change to it’s biggest degree. Reading this has brought me back to that breathtaking time when worshiping our Lord and Savior overflowed abudently with peace and tranquility. Thank You for halting me to remember the importance of soaking in time and not allowing it to fly by. A distant mentor is what I call you on this journey to become more of a woman of God!!!!

    • 60.1
      Kim Goetz says:

      Megan: I promise the Midwest is a fabulous place to live, having lived here all my life! While it is indeed a big change, sometimes that is a good thing…a new marriage and a new home in the Midwest, how exciting! Welcome siesta, to a new season of the Lord working in our life. Blessings! Kim

  11. 61
    Ashley says:

    Love. <3 …and that is all I have for this one, Siestas.

  12. 62

    Sometimes simple things don’t need to say anything. Sometimes they just need to be what they are – simple.

  13. 63
    Fran Mccurry Plott says:

    Beth, I don’t know when I have enjoyed a piece of writing more. Better than with a photograph, you have captured the beauty of God’s handiwork in such an eloquent way. IAnd this includes your descriptions of nature, family, solitude, and left-over chicken soup. Thanks for a very sweet read this morning.XXOO

  14. 64
    Pam says:

    Beth, I understand the beauty that you can just feel and it will fill you up… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for sharing

    Love ya

  15. 65
    Colette says:

    I hear and see God’s whispers every single day in all His beautiful surroundings! Today I will listen and cherish His “Sweet Nothings” in my ear and eyes!! Thank you for reminding me to look beyond the woes of the world and appreciate God’s Creation!

  16. 66
    Cindy says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing, I love how God reveals things to us through nature.

  17. 67
    Juli says:

    That picture….of the woods…the one you find to be quaint… takes my breath away. I so miss living in the trees & am looking forward to the day God grants us that privilege again. Thank you for sharing those pictures.

  18. 68
    Leanne says:

    That last line is beautiful. I have a dear friend who just lost her eye to cancer. She knows about “His beauty that sweeps right past our vision”.

  19. 69
    Elisabeth says:

    Sometimes I think THE most beautiful things are felt and not seen! My fav. spot is in Africa. And it’s pretty ugly. But pretty amazing:) Thanks for sharing today. Great Monday morning perspective!
    Praying for you as you prep for Long Beach. And excited to be there!

  20. 70
    Karene says:

    Dear Beth, Your post ministered to my soul this morning. I haven’t had time to take your previous quiz and answer the questions from the last post, but today I sat with my coffee and lingered over your words. I loved your country-walk photo! I can see and feel its beauty!

    And I am SO looking forward to LPL this weekend in Long Beach, CA!!! My sister is taking me for my birthday–the 12th ๐Ÿ™‚ I will be praying for you this week as you prepare.

  21. 71
    Joyce watson says:

    Love when you share your heart…beautiful.
    It is just so awesome how God just reveals Himself in such wonderful, beautiful ways.
    A few years ago, my family and I were travelling in the Smoky Mountains. We were up really high in the mountains when little, tiny specks of snow started coming down and the sun was shinning right in the middle of it all. It was breathe taking as I looked across the mountains and saw God’s grandeur I felt His very presence with me. It just brought tears to my eyes as I sat there watching what seem like something so simple, but beautiful!
    I remember too, when we took our twin boys to church for the first time. I will never forget the tears in my husband’s eyes and mine too as we dedicated our lives to raising our sons for Christ. Those precious boys turn 23 this week and they know Christ. I am so very thankful to God for His love.
    in Christ

  22. 72
    GJ says:

    Beth – oh girl – the tears are streaming – I love these thoughts from your heart so much. I love that pretty place on your walk too – I get it. We share that JOY and there’s a bend in the road on the back part of our land that takes my breath every time too – right near some persimmon trees – just plain old country woods, where I can just breathe and just be. Thankful.

    Love your heart for the body & bread – sometimes I feel like the only one in the room with Jesus when it’s served at my church – I get so excited when I see the white cloth covered table at the altar…ransomed ones fed by love – indeed my sister.

    Love this: “Iโ€™m not sure I could bear revlessness.” What would we do?

    And when Zeke told me he was wearing his “theer thucker thuit” to church…be still my heart.

    Love to you -you gifted woman you!!!

    PS: I confess I’ve been a whining work martyr…that got me…

  23. 73
    Kim B. in Az says:

    Thank you for sharing. I think the spot on your walk look so lovely. I love to walk on tree covered paths. Which is something I don’t get to do much. Since I live in the high dessert I get to see a different kind of beauty. I do miss green though, have ever since we left CA eight years ago. But I don’t want to move back to the big city, I like living out in the middle of no where. We have a 10,000 + foot mountain that I look at from our back window which reminds me of my growing up home a bit. When you go up that mountain you go from cactus to aspens by the time you reach the top, which just amazes me every time.

  24. 74
    Mary Watkins says:

    Loved your words this morning.

    My heart was blessed to take it in.

    Much love, sweet sister.

  25. 75
    colleen says:

    The last sentence ~ pricless ~ thank-you ~ so thankful for this gift you so generously give to us ~ this gift that God so generously gave you. Blessings to you, woman!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. 76
    Diana A. says:

    It is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and this morning walking my little Rosie girl, in the park – no one but us; in the distance a train whistle…I just said aloud to my Lord Thank You! The beauty of it all, leaves turning, cool breeze with sunshine, a squirrel teasing my puppy and pure Bliss! Being with my GOD and His nature!

    Then home to prepare a dinner of THANKSGIVING!!!

    Nothing better!


  27. 77
    Ganise says:

    Okay, this is official. Beth, you’ve got to be one of the best writers ever, in my opinion!

    Wow. I love your style of writing and how words seem to flow easily for you.

    I love beauty in simple things (most especially nature!). I always take time to admire and to look for that. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said.

    You inspire me, Beth!



  28. 78
    Sandy Bowers says:

    What a beautiful reading for a gorgeous fall day in Ohio. Blue skies, sunshine, trees all ablaze and nippy temperatures. Ahhhh Fall, I have missed your splendor. This is the day that the Lord hath made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!!

  29. 79
    Calista says:

    Yes, beauty in the threadbare. Perfection. These words are my muse this afternoon and will be posting later this evening. Thank you.

  30. 80

    !!!!Okay, so my hubby just took our family on a bike ride in south Austin the other day. The weather was amazing. Everyone rode along while I tried to take in every detail. I was noticing all the flowers, taking in all the smells. I asked my kids, “Did you see those sunflowers you just passed?” They didn’t. I had to touch plants to see if they were some kind of smelly herb. A road runner landed right in front of me and ran into the woods. My first time seeing a road runner. We took a water break and I couldn’t stop staring at the tree limbs. It looked like a beautiful color that had little breaks that had been wrapped in thread of another color. I had to stop and take a pic with my hubby’s camera phone. It was beautiful. I love the great outdoors. I know I’m more talking about the things on the ground, but it always makes me think of the verse, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands.” He is amazing.

  31. 81
    Jennifer Smith says:

    Lovely! Your words are so transparent that they tattle on you. They say how much you love, feel love, show love. They refresh the soul, our souls. Oh how proud your Abba is of you, precious Beth. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Lovely!

  32. 82
    Jennifer T says:

    Now THAT was a lovely stroll through a Sunday! THANK YOU, Beth. What a treat to ‘see’ the extra-ordinary through your eyes! Prayed for you this morning and will continue to do so as the Lord continues to prompt. A privilege and a joy every single time.

  33. 83
    Amy says:

    Lovely words and lovely thoughts. Reminds me of the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning from ‘Aurora Leigh’:

    “Earth’s crammed with heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God;
    But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
    The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,”

  34. 84
    Warm In Alaska says:

    Oh. That was so beautiful – and you captured well the feelings I’ve had about natural beauty. The walk I take my dogs on is surrounded by a lake on three sides and three mountain ranges and two glaciers in the close distance. But it is an old wizened, wandering tree that I take my (sometimes daily) pictures of. It’s so gnarled and steady amidst all the jaw-dropping beauty. Anyway, thanks for the words – and the poem about the Lord and His Body. Blessings on this brand new Monday ~

  35. 85
    LaRee says:

    I’ve noticed that the times I am MOST moved, it’s just me and Jesus.

  36. 86
    Margaret says:

    May we all see this beauty! I see it most outside when I’m on my own walks. I hope Jackson doesn’t grow his teeth in too soon–so much beauty and wonder (and smiles) in his missing teeth!

  37. 87
    Dawn says:

    Hey Beth!! I think your pictures are beautiful and your thoughts are beautifully shared:) I also want to share something beautiful…I was baptized yesterday!! It was the most WONDERFUL feeling in the world!! Don’t know why I felt the need to fight it for so long, but that’s how me and God do, haha! He tells me and I argue and He wins. But I’m still walking the walk:)
    Have a blessed week Beth. Lots of love!!!

  38. 88
    candifer says:

    “May God grant us this day a whisper of His beauty that sweeps right past our vision and dives deeply like a stream into our world-parched souls.”


    this post reminds me of my dad. he made it a point to see something beautiful on the drive home every day. to be thankful for one thing every day. in a way, to slow down and look with different eyes at what God is doing around us RIGHT NOW.

    thanks for sharing, siesta mama <3

  39. 89
    Julie Reynolds says:

    Thank you for putting into words what I try so hard to explain…. this morning there was a glorious beautiful sunrise, the kind where the sun is almost bursting through clouds but not quite, with glorious rays beaming heavenward, muted beauty – my camera wouldn’t capture it either. But man did I thank Him for it. Same way I am thanking Him for your words today. Thanks Siesta Mama, you have blessed me today!

  40. 90
    Amy says:

    I sighed long and deep after reading this.

    Thank you, Mama Beth.

  41. 91
    Redeemed says:

    Time is precious. People are, too. This morning we lost a young family member at the tender age of 23. Your words “let time suspend for a few seconds” to enjoy your grandbabies made me cry. And your words are soothing to this heavy heart.
    It’s still a beautiful day. And God is still on His Throne.

    • 91.1
      Lindsee says:

      I am so, so sorry. I can’t imagine what y’all are feeling but am praying right now that the Lord is so near to you guys right now. Much love!

  42. 92
    Anita Siecker says:

    Amen! What joy and relaxation to read those beautifully penned words. Oh how I crave the simple, and oh how obviously God gives it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. 93
    Ginny says:

    Thank you so much for these beautiful words. They touch my heart from so many angles…and I needed it bad. God has shown me a new dimension to the words “beauty” and “threadbare” recently…and a new appreciation for the simple and pure moments of life. A dear family member suffered a traumatic brain injury in July. As she struggles to emerge from her coma, God teaches me daily about the true meaning of beauty. A tear from her desperate eyes are a sign of enormous hope. A nod. A smile. A toe wiggling. Beauty in the threadbare. Lord forgive me for the times I was not satisfied in the gift of life itself. Forgive me for my ingratitude, my busyness, my impatience and my lack of faith. His beauty is everywhere. His gifts are precious and life is fragile. I pray I can remember to taste and see.

    • 93.1
      Anita Siecker says:


      I am so touched by your story! I will remember to pray as you have, and to pray for your friend.

  44. 94
    Robbie says:

    Oh Beth. I too just moved to the country (a year ago) I still drive into Houston to work but God has me the best road to take. I get to see ponds and dew on the pasture with the sun coming up!. I often just have to hold back the tears (don’t want to run the mascara). You see my children are off to college now and the beaty God has given me through this time well. Only God could do. I hustled all my parenting life (did not miss the drama of homecoming for my twin girls this year!). However now I know God is telling Me Be Still. Why is that so hard.? I love business but I’m learning to love calmness. Thank you so much for this post. I had forgotten again.

  45. 95
    Leigh Ann says:

    Cute yellow shoes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. 96
    Tori says:

    I don’t always comment on posts, but I wanted to today.

    I just recently got a job in a pediatrics office (my DREAM JOB, Go God!), and today is only my second day. But I caught a glimpse of beauty this afternoon right before time to go. I got to see the smile and hear the laughter of the most beautiful little boy, who just happens to have Down Syndrome. There’s not much more I can say without breaking HIPAA, but the beauty of his smile definitely captured my heart this afternoon. I felt it deeeeeeep, DEEP down.

  47. 97
    Cindy says:

    Loved this post!

  48. 98
    Jenny F. says:

    Beth.. This post was lovely. I too live out in the country NW of Houston. I have a commute downtown everyday, but coming home is heaven! Tonight I had the pleasure of an evening walk with my daughter. We came upon several deer and a buck. We were given the cough-stomp and then the running away. I stood in awe of how graceful they were as they left us. And the spider webs! I mowed this past weekend and I think that I cleaned up the webs in the yard with my face. I did a whole lot of arm waving and face rubbing while trying to keep the mower steered in the right direction. So glad that you too are able to enjoy the beauty. It is never ending and for that I am thankful every day. I completely understand that feeling of beauty that you cannot necessarily show, but feel.

  49. 99
    regina says:

    delightful ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. 100
    Paula K says:

    My husband and I just returned from Switzerland. When showing our pictures to friends back home, we find it disappointing that the photo cannot capture the true beauty of the place. I agree with you, Beth, that the emotion at the moment the picture was taken – the memories that accompany the photo – cannot be captured on film so the photo falls short. I also think it is so COOL that no camera, despite it expense, can truly duplicate the “technological” perfection of the human eye designed by a loving Creator.

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