Telling Stories

April 16, 2023

There were certain words we did not say in front of Grandma Betty. 

One was “pregnant”. 

I got my mouth popped for that one when I, at four years of age, announced the impending birth of my brother {loud and proud} at Grandma Betty’s kitchen table. 

Another was “fart”.

My poor brother toted a whoopin’ for that one. Grandma Betty told our mama that Brandon said THE F WORD, and subsequently caused him to get his tail torn up. It was only after he was rubbing those fried cheeks that we discovered he had said the word “fart”…not the OTHER “f” word!!

Finally, we did not say “lie” or “liar”.

We had to say “he/she told a story” instead. I can hear her right now saying, “Now, don’t you go to telling stories, Ronda!”

Ironically, I have been a story teller (the true kind, I promise) for most of my life. I used story telling in my classroom nearly every day, I used it to write The Book of Joe, and I use it in general conversation. I just love a good story. 

I guess that’s what led me to this particular lesson from Joe’s leather notebook. God writes with the ending in mind. I didn’t understand it at the time, but God was using the old to write the new in my story long before Joe went to be with Jesus.

This week, Joe’s lesson is about trusting the author beyond what we see written on the page.

He wrote:

Old and New

Isaiah 43: 18-19 states: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.

Sometimes it is hard to let go of the old, but God just may want something new for us. It can be hard to let go of what we know or what is comfortable. Taking on something new can turn everything in our lives upside down.

For those who like change, new things can be exciting. For those who don’t really like change, new can cause discomfort. Personally, I am kind of a mix of both.

The wonderful thing about God is that he works outside of the box. He does not always work in the way we would have chosen. I once saw a church sign that read, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. I have often found that to be very true.

Our Heavenly Father sees the big picture that we cannot–He sees all that is going on behind the scenes. He even understands all those things that cause us to ask “why”. As we start out the new year, or a new season, we can trust that God has our best in mind. He is with us right now, just as He will be with us down the road, no matter where that road may lead.

Sometimes that new brings what we see as blessings. Sometimes it brings loss and pain. Life happens. Decisions are made, we are faced with struggles, and sometimes we may even think that life is just not fair. But what I want you to know today is that you have a purpose. God is not finished with you yet.

God loves us. He cares for us, and He sees what we need. He works in our lives in ways that we do not always understand. Yet, we have peace in knowing that we do not have to understand. We only have to trust Him.

So, as we find ourselves in a new season and we look to find good in new and changing times, let us be confident in our God who is in control. Believe that He is working for you today…even when you just can’t see it.

Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new”.


Here’s a story for you…once upon a time(in the last year of this life), Joe was quite smitten by another woman. Her name is Mrs. Penny. Sharp as a tack, the perfect blend of sweet, sassy and classy, she is an 80(something) year old woman with a brilliant smile and a shoe collection that makes me absolutely green with envy. Joe was commissioned to work with her on a long term cemetery project, and from the moment they met, they were both in love. Joe worked closely with her for more than a year, and frequently came home with stories about his Mrs. Penny adventures. I didn’t get to meet her while Joe was alive, but I almost felt like I knew her just from listening to him talk!

The culminating piece of the cemetery project was this Jesus statue. Joe set this Jesus in the cemetery on the last working day of his life.

The cemetery was not quite complete, and the project plans were in Joe’s possession, so Mrs. Penny set out to contact me to try to tie up the loose ends and get it finished. Six months after Joe’s death, we finally connected with each other and decided to meet for lunch to get things squared away.

We met at Cracker Barrel (because…muffins and biscuits 😄), and the moment our eyes met, I fell in love with Mrs. Penny, too. There was/is just something about her that made my heart smile. I understood completely why Joe loved her so! 🤣 We walked in as business contacts, but when we walked out, I had a brand new best friend!

And, oh how I needed a friend.

Several months later, Mrs. Penny invited me to a family reunion and cemetery dedication. It would be the family’s first time seeing the Jesus statue. It would be mine, as well. So, we ate lunch and made our way to the cemetery.

I don’t know what I expected to feel when I looked at that beautiful Jesus statue for the first time, but it seemed as if every feeling possible was about to leak out of my eyes. I stood there, trying so hard to hold it all together (so thankful that I was wearing sunglasses to hide my tears), when Mrs. Penny’s son, Ron, noticed my predicament. He patted my arm and asked if I was ok. Well, me being the proud, stubborn person I am, hissed “I’m fine,” at him and turned away. I know, I know…Grandma Betty didn’t like ugly either, and even though I didn’t mean for it to come out that way, I am sure it did.

Ron probably went home and told his mama I was not very nice. I don’t know. But what I do know (now) that I didn’t know (then) was that Mrs. Penny encouraged him to reach out to me. “She needs a friend right now, Ron.” He reluctantly (I’m sure) accepted the challenge.

And bless his heart, he tried to be my friend at a time when I was MAD at the world. I stayed somewhat numb after Joe died, busy with school, home, Joe’s businesses, bills, stress, etc. But when summer came, my life slowed down and I fell into the darkest part of my grief journey. The fog lifted and I guess I came out swinging at every person in my path. Ron took several hits.

But, he persisted. He met me right where I was. Sometimes that was a place of sweetness. Sometimes sadness. Sometimes anger and frustration. And he just let me be who I was.

And then one day I wasn’t quite so broken anymore. Still proud and stubborn, mind you…but not quite so broken.

Joe said: Our Heavenly Father sees the big picture that we cannot–He sees all that is going on behind the scenes. He even understands all those things that cause us to ask “why”. ..We can trust that God has our best in mind. He is with us right now, just as He will be with us down the road, no matter where that road may lead.

People often ask me if I think Joe had some premonition that his life on earth was drawing to a close. I honestly don’t know, but Jesus did. He saw the picture that we could not. And in a way that is so much like God and even a little bit like Joe, he used Jesus…a literal statue of Jesus…to connect Joe to Mrs. Penny, a sweet older lady (from up near the Capitol City, as Joe liked to say) who would grow to think so much of him, just as he would of her.

During those six months that I was hurting and grieving, she was looking for me. She didn’t give up, and the moment our eyes locked for the first time, I knew we were meant to find each other.

A literal statue of Jesus would take my breath later that year, and a man I did not know would be the only one to “see” me. And I would turn my back. And he would try again.

God loves us. He cares for us, and He sees what we need. He works in our lives in ways that we do not always understand. Yet, we have peace in knowing that we do not have to understand. We only have to trust Him.

I look back on my story, and I see Jesus making a way for me as I sat at my kitchen table listening to Joe talk about Mrs. Penny. I see Jesus making a way for me as He guided my path to cross with hers months after Joe went to Heaven. I see Jesus making a way for me when He allowed Ron to see past my hissy fit, to my hurt spot. I see Jesus in every step of my story.

And, sweet friend, I can promise you now, that if Jesus is working in my life, he is surely working in yours. Maybe you can’t see it now. But one day you will. The memories that make you smile. Jesus is in that story. The hurts that haven’t quite healed…Jesus is in that story, too. Trust Him. Even if you’ve repelled His touch before. He persists with a love that only He can give. If He didn’t give up on me, my friend, He will never give up on you.

And one day…one sweet, sweet day, we won’t be quite so broken anymore.

Grandma Betty might have been wrong (pretty sure she rolled over in her precious grave at that statement…because NONE of us were brave enough to say that to her face!). Sometimes, when yours is a story of TRUTH, when you can see the the sweet hand of Jesus working in your life, and you want others to know that the sweet hand of Jesus is working in their lives too…well, sometimes telling stories is ok.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe



13 thoughts on “Telling Stories

  1. I love this story. Keep on keeping on with them. I sure do miss you and Joe. I miss your sweet solos. This story brought smiles and tears, which good stories do.
    Love you Rhonda and I love The Book of Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ronda, I pray you will come to a place where you can put together and publish “The Book of Joe”. When I think of the people God can touch through Joe’s words, it boggles my mind! Love you my precious friend. Trott

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the story , The Book of Joe. Your word and thought also. The Book of Joe always has a special story that I love to read. I hope that you will continue to write the stories. I know you both loved each other so much. I remember the times I would see Joe and that smile on his face. I would ask him , Joe I know you are the happiest I have ever seen, he would get serious and say Ms. Dorcas let me tell you that I am the happiest I have ever been, and I don’t know what I would ever do without her. Then he would smile and that smile would light up the world . I want you to know we all love you Ronda, and Jesus loves you even more. Love and prayers🙏🏻❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so enjoy your stories and the unveiling of your feelings during this season in your life. I agree with these other ladies in saying that Joe was truly happy when you two were married. We are in a world today where Jesus is with us at all times and he wants us to let him in. God’s blessings each day as you go about your life helping others. Thank you Rhonda.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully written. I know first hand about God’s plans. I understand the hissy fits, tears, anger, and why’s. I was just getting adjusted to what I thought was my plans for my new life as a 60 year old widow but God had another plan for me. It doesn’t mean I still don’t shed tears or miss my past. I even questioned God on his plans for my future and once in a while, still do. I know God indeed has a sense of humor. He reminds me quite often that not my will but his will be done. God is good and we have to trust him. He wants us to be happy and if we follow his will, we will find happiness again. 💞. I love your stories and enjoy reading Joe’s writings. And I love you…😘


    Liked by 1 person

  6. So happy to hear from you again, Ronda! You inspire me so much. My husband always liked talking with Joe. I know you miss him and I am sure that is an understatement. I love reading your stories. I am glad you are in a better season at this time. It could never be easy loosing a spouse. Keep on writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness! I saw your name come up in my feed and I said out loud to nobody “she’s back!?” Then I got up, made some breakfast, and came back to read and savor- your food for thought with my food for my tummy. Thank you for sharing this story. I don’t understand why you couldn’t say pregnant at the table, but fart stopped being the “f-word” half way through my watch. It was certainly not allowed when I was a kid, but I decided not to die on that hill with my kids. Saying “stupid” as a description of someone else God made, however, is still the “s-word” in my book. 😉. Ideas can be stupid, that’s different entirely. 😁 I’ve missed you, Rhonda! I hope you pop in more frequently in the coming days. 💜. I’m happy to read about all God is doing in and through you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: