Beyonder Court


Should Children Gather at the Deathbed? What to Do For Kids When the Family is Grieving
A Word on thne Tragedy in Connecticut
Discipline For Small Children
Children are dogs, Teenagers are Cats.
Developmental Milestones
Practical tips on living with kids
meal ideas
games and trivia
sign the guest book, TAKE THE POLL

Tidbits to nudge and nourish.
Original devotions by Caryl Harvey



The Lizard and the Snowball.


A snowball rolled down a hill and found himself an accidental tourist in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. As he’d passed over the arid desert ground, he’d picked up rocks and bits of sand, and a very disagreeable lizard. Now, the rocks irritated him and the sand scrubbed away at him. He started to shrink.

“Give up,” the lizard said. “Stop, and resign yourself to your fate. Just rest on those pebbles and they won’t poke you.”

But the snowball kept on, ignoring the jab of the rocks—not sure of his destination but determined to get there.

“Roll over to that soft patch of grass,” said the lizard, seeing his chance to jump ship. “Doesn’t it look peaceful and comfortable over there?”

But the snowball, now not much more than a white marble, kept to his course.

Finally, he felt himself worn down. The lizard wriggled free and ran off laughing at the fate of the snowball, who by then was just a wet spot on the sidewalk.

But in the snowball’s wake, flowers blossomed, birds bathed and children splashed, barefoot. And the snowball sighed contentedly and gave itself to the sun.

Our home is not this world. We’re just passing through, but this life jabs us and wears away at us anyway. We collect “rocks.” It would be safest to find a patch of peace and just rest there, in comfort.

But what chance do we have of fulfilling God’s purpose for us here, if we do that?  What chance of showing His love, of comforting and blessing the world He has sent us into if we shrink away into our own comfort and safety?

I’ll tell you.

A snowball’s chance.  





Have you ever built something with someone who was completely inept? Someone who kept dropping the hammer on your toe? Or worse, have you ever attempted to fix your roof while your neighbor pelted you with rocks and insults?

I’ll bet it’s hard. Nearly impossible.

What if it’s not just you? What if you have a crew—or several crews, for that matter? And they’re all family. Uncle John and Cousin Billy and his worthless brother James, who squandered all his parents’ hard-earned money on one semester of partying at Cal-Tech.

Can you see it?

You, in your supervisor’s hard hat, trying to coordinate feuding family into a unit…they, with one hand on the project and the other on garbage-can-lid-shields, fending off the neighbors’ stones.

“It can’t be done,” you say?

“Impossible,” you gasp?

Nehemiah would beg to differ. He’s been there repairing the walls of Jerusalem with a rag-tag crew of family members, holding hammers and swinging swords. God commissioned the work. And the walls got repaired good as new.

God commissioned work to us, too: build up the church so that you can feed the hungry. Comfort the mourning. Teach the young. Protect the old.

And the work is not easy. We’re not all accomplished laborers. We have differing views on the finished project. Our neighbors pelt us with discouragement.

But, just as in Nehemiah’s day, the work can be done.

It takes looking at the blueprints. Following the supervisor the Architect hired. Overlooking what separates us and building on what unites us.

Oh, and there’s one more thing. Perhaps the most important thing.

A thing that is as true now as it was for the crew of Nehemiah.

A thing without which the whole project will fail. A thing that brings together everything and everybody.

A thing that, as a church, we often shrug away.

Nehemiah 4:6 spells it out. There it is…we can read it for ourselves.

“For the people had a mind to work.”







I remember walking into Clarence’s home, seeing him sitting quietly in his chair. I would put my hand on his shoulder and he would jump. He always jumped. You could almost hear his heart pound.

He would reach into the air for my hand and I’d write the first few letters of my name.

He would curl his fingers around mine, smile and nod vehemently.

He kept his hands scrupulously clean because they were his windows to the world.

You talked to Clarence by writing words with your fingers onto his palm.

He could neither see, nor hear.

It didn’t matter to him if the lights were not turned on at six, or if his visitors came in rags…he couldn’t see them.  

He had no doorbell…he couldn’t have heard it.

And he never locked his doors—if he had, no one could have gotten in.

He trusted everyone.  

He depended on the world to come to him because he could not go to it, so he made himself completely vulnerable.

And come, it did.

Clarence corresponded with people all over the globe through typewritten letters. He’d been to tea with Helen Keller. He’d held to his friends’ hands as he’d climbed a mountain. He wrote a book.

In short, HE MATTERED.

Though he’s been gone for some time, I think of Clarence often. He made a real impact on his part of the world. But I don’t see him seated at his typewriter. I think of him fluttering his hands over his Braile Bible, oblivious to my presence. I see him moving his lips in prayer. And I see a man so wholly open and trusting in God that he dared to be vulnerable to man.

And I wonder, in those moments of remembering Clarence, which of us is really blind.










I chew my nails.

You too?

I never mean to do it…not really. But they chip. And rough areas bother me, so I try to even them up with my teeth. And the more I chew, the rougher (and shorter) they get.

I have polish to put on them so I won’t chew. That takes time.

I have a nail file to pull over the ragged parts to smooth them out. (That takes effort.)

No, in the here and now, with my rough fingernails, I bite.

I chew at my kids, too.

I don’t mean to. But they have rough areas…chipped places that need smoothing.

I could take the time to consider some appropriate praise that would detract from the ragged places in their lives. I could polish them up. But that takes time I don’t have. We’re all so busy, you know.

And I could work at the rough places gently, gradually filing away the rough edges. But at the end of the day, I don’t have the energy.

So I chew. Every time they pass by, I take a small bite.

And you know what?

 The more I chew, the rougher the rough places get.

The shorter the time is that they spend with me.

And eventually they don’t pass by at all.

Short, stubby nails don’t need polishing or filing. We have to grow them all over.

Just like kids.

And I have to remind myself all the time: don’t chew.






Talking mouth

Cookies For Santa

We always put out milk and cookies for Santa,” he says. He looks more like an elf than a little boy. He has a Pee-Wee Herman face and an Alfalfa hair style. He stands as tall as a five year old, and he’s eight.

“You do?” I ask, making sure he knows I’m listening. Foster kids have this fear of disappearing. Of not mattering to anyone.

“Yeah, but the first year we didn’t have any money so we couldn’t do it.”

“I see.”

“And last year, we only had a little money, so we just put out milk.”

“So this year…”

“This year can I put out cookies and milk for Santa, just like we do at home?”

Makes your heart ache, huh? Mine, too.


Of course, he has a sizable list for Santa. Nineteen presents is what he asked for. He doesn’t care what’s in them…it’s the quantity that counts. He expects a lot out of Christmas. And he wants to make sure the old guy is in a good mood. Cookies and milk.

Me, too.

Oh, I’ve gotten to the age when I don’t care what I get under the tree, how much or how little. And I don’t believe in Santa Claus.

But I expect more than nineteen presents from Christmas.  

I want a miracle or two.

I want Christmas to fix everything for everyone, including myself.

I want Christmas to warm my heart. To make me more sensitive and caring. To stuff my temper away with the snow batting I threw out this year when I put up the Christmas village.

I want to get through this year without needing to steal away for a private cry.

I want God to give me one more minute to hold my son and tell him I love him.


And I want to wake up as warm-spirited on the day after Christmas as I was the day before it.

Because I know that the day after Christmas, bills will still be due.

People will still get sick. Families will squabble.

I’ll blow up at something, sometime, and say something I don’t mean.

And I’ll steal out to the cemetery for a good cry.


We expect Christmas to change our lives, and it usually doesn’t.

The “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” coziness doesn’t last.


So what did we think?

”Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” we say. Just for this season?

Keep Christ in Christmas,” churches post on their marquees. Just at Christmas?

Although on one night, God sent a gift that changed the world, the world didn’t change in one night.

Christmas has to have a “take-away” value, or it is of no use at all.

We need to sing, “Jesus is the Reason,” and leave it at that.

And the marquee in front of churches should read,” Keep Christ.”


I said I don’t believe in Santa Claus, and I don’t. Not really. But I don’t “not believe,” either.  I believe we prepare our hearts for Christmas.


We open ourselves to the possibilities of Christmas:


That we will act more like the people we wish other people were.  

That we will really love our brothers and our sisters and an enemy or two.

That God really does care for us enough to come down and live among us.


We need to expect Him.

So I’m going to read the Christmas story again, and then John nineteen, where the Bible tells me about the crucifixion. And finally, I’ll read John 14: 1-3.


After that, I think I’ll bake some cookies. I wonder which kind Old Santa likes.














By Caryl Harvey



“Let us now go unto Bethlehem and see…”

That’s what the shepherds said after the angel told them about Jesus’ birth.

And they went.

In the nativity scenes, they’re young and strong. He-men. But I’ll bet there was a gray head somewhere in the bunch. I’ll bet some of them had arthritis. Heel spurs. A cold. I’ll bet at least one of them was a worry wart: who’s going to watch over those sheep while we’re gone?

I’ll bet it cost them something to go. It was a sacrifice.

But they didn’t believe it was optional to go and “see this thing which has come to pass.”

So they went.

And God blessed them for going. They were the first to see the newborn King.

They got close to God. Really close. Close enough to touch the I Am.

And when they went back to their sheep, the flock was where they left it. The lambs nestled close to the ewes. The rams stood guard.  Their jobs were still there.

Until Jesus comes back, there are going to be weddings and funerals and jobs to go to. Rich people and poor people and those in between, trying to make a living.

Arthritis and heel spurs and colds and fatigue.

But when we have the opportunity to touch God, to get really close to the I Am,

We need to go to Bethlehem…and see.












by Caryl Harvey


Every once in a while, God calls me “Cookie.” As in, “Listen up, Cookie.” Or, "Hey Cookie, get back here. You know better than that.”


Yesterday, we celebrated our family Thanksgiving early. I made turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and cinnamon apples. Our grown daughters brought their families and their contributions to the meal…relish plates and sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole and salads and rolls and fruit and three kinds of pie. A big meal.

And …to make a great day perfect, we celebrated on a Sunday, which at our house means the teens and adolescents clean the kitchen after the meal.


They didn’t have to mess with the food…we divvy up the leftovers before everyone goes home. But then, the kitchen needs cleaned again. And that’s when God got my attention.


I was unloading the dishwasher when my 2 ½ year old granddaughter Hailey came into the kitchen. She saw the open dishwasher and made a bee-line for it, intent on helping me. No, that’s not right exactly. Her mind was set on doing it herself. She reached for the flatware holder and grabbed a handful of knives and forks. Half of them landed on the floor. (Five second rule.)  She retrieved them. Her mommy stepped up behind her and tried to help. Hailey pulled away and threw the silverware into the silverware drawer. Then she grabbed another handful from the dishwasher.


It was obvious to us she was determined to do the job her way. (And honestly, I was laughing too hard to stop her.) We let her finish.  But after she went home, someone had to sort out the drawer. It wouldn’t even close. And as our teen granddaughter and I worked to straighten it, I distinctly (in my heart) heard God say, “Hey Cookie…”


“Yes Lord?”


“Notice anything about what just happened with Hailey?”


“Yeah. She’s a hoot, isn’t she?”


“So are you.”


“Beg your pardon, Lord?”


“So are you. You know that problem you’ve been working on with one of your kids?”


“You mean…”




“Well, I’ve really been working hard on it and I know we’ll make it. It’s just going to take a while and…”


“But what if you’re wrong about how to handle it?”

“Then I’ll try something else. I won’t let you, or this kid down Lord. I’ll fix this if it kills me.”


“I don’t think it will go all that far, Cookie. But you’re forgetting something. ME. I can help with this problem, but you’ll have to stand back and be willing to wait a bit.”




And then I realized what God was saying. I wanted things fixed. Right now. And in that frame of mind, I often say things I don’t mean…or at least that I don’t think through.

I know never to make promises. I make them anyway.

I know not to argue… it makes things worse. I argue anyway…sometimes loudly.

I know not to give in if my boundaries are reasonable. I give in for the sake of peace.

(And quiet.)

I take things personally and get my feelings hurt.


In the long run, I mess things up.  I need to pray about the problem. I need to sit back and “study on” the issue.  To anticipate the consequences of my actions.  Because, when I just rush ahead and toss a handful of poorly thought out and even more poorly executed solutions into the “drawer” of my kids’ lives, God (or someone He sends to clean up after me) has to sort things out.


Because, otherwise—by myself—I can never get that “drawer”  to shut.




 A Star Hung Too High.


They knew it was coming…Had known for ages about the star that would guide them to the King.  Numbers 24:17 says "I see him, but I don't see him now. I view him, but he isn't near. A star will come from among the people of Jacob. A king will rise up out of Israel. NIRV

And the wise men got onto their camels and headed across the desert.

The star guided them, we’re told, until it stood over the manger.

I’ll bet they scratched their heads.

Checked their maps.

Tapped their GPS systems to make sure they were working.

The star was so high…maybe too high. They’d set their sights on a king and they found

a drooling, cooing toddler. He wasn’t what they expected.

But the Bible says they worshipped. And left their expensive gifts.

Would you have bowed? Would I? Would we have left our presents there and gone our way, satisfied?

We want a king that’s more…well…kingly.

Not one whose cradle was a feeding trough. Whose father was a carpenter.

Bethlehem’s star had a higher calling. It was destined for greatness.

But if the star had stopped over a drafty old house, would we have gone in?

If it had stood over a hospital, would we have entered?

If the star had stalled out over a soup kitchen, would we have looked for God in the desolate faces there? Maybe not.

God’s Son doesn’t hang out in places like that just waiting to be born into the hearts of man, does He?

You bet He does. Every day…and not just on Christmas.

That star isn’t so high it can’t go before you. And if it stops over an unexpected place, go in.

You just might find The King.






The Christmas War


We’ve seen the picture so many times, we know it by heart. Mary kneels before the manger, Joseph stands guard behind her and an angel—a beautiful woman in a flowing gown with outspread wings hovers overhead.

The annunciation shows the same sweet messenger announcing that Mary has been chosen by God to bear His son.


The day that Jesus was Born, Satan’s forces massed to prevent His coming.

God sent an army of angels.

Don’t believe it?

Heavenly Host means an army. A multitude of supernatural soldiers.

The shepherds saw them that day in the field outside Bethlehem. “And suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host…”  Not a flock of flitting, fawning  bird-like beings. An army appeared, backing up the angel who stood before the shepherds, and praised God. They meant business. They were on patrol.

And they still are.

A battle is still raging in the supernatural world. The war is over, Jesus has won…but, in spite of the outcome, the battle goes on.

Don’t be deluded. There are no “neutral states.”

This is all-out altercation. Mortal combat. And Jesus’ birth was the first salvo in a major offensive.

Tonight, there’s Peace On Earth” everywhere, Satan assures.

Santa is coming. Sweet dreams to all.

Don’t be caught off guard.

“Joy to the World” is a battle hymn.












Rainbows and Promises


It was a trick of lighting, of course.

A crystal dangle on the ceiling fan diffused the light and a small rainbow arched over the tiny wooden manger in the nativity scene.

The cows bathed in it. The shepherds had red-streaked robes.

Mary and Joseph glowed as if in some neon new-age crèche.

And it was gone as soon as the sun shifted positions.

It was out of place. What belonged was a starry night.

Angels’ glow. Lanterns and torches illuminating a stable.

But not a rainbow.

The rainbow belonged in Genesis, not in Luke.

It wreathed the ark. It colored the leaden skies over Ararat and sealed God’s promise to Noah.

There would still be soggy, impossible days.

But the sun would follow.

Waves would still toss him on life’s sea.

But The Son would calm them.

The downpour of Genesis would become the Life spring of Luke. God promised. And He sealed his promise with his rainbow.

Jesus was God’s promise. The Messiah. The spotless Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

The Light to banish dark, soggy days.

The Hand extended to calm troubled waters.

So, I watch for the sun to again hit the crystal and spread the rainbow over the manger scene.

God promised he’d send His Light.

And a promise is a promise.














From the old TV show “Happy Days:” 


Howard: “Well then. How are you gonna support my daughter? How are you gonna live? How are you gonna eat?”


Chachi: “Mr C., after we're married something is bound to come along.”


 Howard: “Yeah! Then you're gonna have to feed that, too!”






Kids can be a pain in the neck when they're not a lump in your throat.
- Barbara Johnson




Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for.

- - - - Ogden Nash





Murphy's Laws of Parenting

  1. A child's greatest period of growth is the month after you've purchased new school clothes.
  2. An alarm clock is a device for waking people up, who don't have small kids.
  3. Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble.
  4. Anyone who says "Easy as taking candy from a baby" has never tried it.
  5. Children are natural mimics who act like their parents, despite every effort to teach them good manners.
  6. Children don't sleep ... they recharge.
  7. Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.
  8. Cleaning your house while your kids are at home is like trying to shovel the driveway during a snowstorm.
  9. Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your kids.
  10. Gym clothes left at school in lockers mildew at a faster rate than other clothing.
  11. If raising children was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor!
  12. Kids really brighten a household. They never turn off any lights.
  13. Leakproof thermoses - will.
  14. Refrigerated items, used daily, will gravitate toward the back of the refrigerator.
  15. Shouting to make your kids obey is like using the horn to steer your car and you get about the same results!
  16. Sick children recover miraculously when the doctor enters the treatment room.
  17. Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto a freeway.
  18. The item your child lost, and must have for school within the next ten seconds, will be found in the last place you look.
  19. The chances of a piece of bread falling with the grape jelly side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
  20. The garbage truck will be two doors past your house when the argument over "whose day it is to take out the trash" ends.
  21. The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.
  22. The shirt your child must wear today will be the only one that needs to be washed or mended.
  23. The tennis shoes you must replace today will go on sale next week.
  24. There are only two things a child will share willingly - communicable diseases and their mother's age.
  25. Trying to dress an active little one is like trying to thread a sewing machine while it's running.
  26. We childproofed our home three years ago and they're still getting in!
  27. You spend the first two years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then, you spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up.
  28. Your chances of being seen by someone you know dramatically increase if you drive your child to school in your robe and curlers.
  29. Your children may leave home, but their stuff will be in your attic and basement forever.


OF course I'm a great grandparent. I practiced on your mom until I got it right.