Fellowship in an unusual place


I have read many articles on the troubles people have breast feeding in public places.  I am sure it is more difficult for some than for others.  In my case, it was not that I was worried about offending the public…after all it is a natural function…the thing that breasts were designed for in the first place….no, I was more worried about having a part of my body exposed to the world that was very private to me.  This could certainly happen when the baby latched on, or let go.  So I typically would look for somewhere more private to feed my daughter if at all possible.

This was back when ladies rooms in the major department stores in the Mall all still had sofa’s or chairs in them for ladies to rest on.  Those were the days for sure!  Recognition from the world that sometimes women needed to have a rest for whatever reason during their shopping expeditions.  I don’t know if the men’s rooms had anything like this, but I am guessing not.

On this particular occasion I needed a place to feed my daughter and had just settled down on the beautifully provided vinyl sofa in Sears Department Store and gotten down to business.  I had left my husband walking around the store…he was familiar with how long this took so was not concerned.

Anyway, my daughter and I  were both really starting to relax and enjoy the moment.  I can’t even tell you what I was thinking about at that time, when suddenly the most amazing thing happened.  This woman, a perfect stranger to me, came and plopped down on the sofa next to me and my baby.  She started talking to me and suddenly she mentioned God and we got to talking about our faith.  We must have sat like that and fellowshipped with each other for about 20 minutes or so.  She seemed to have all the time in the world to accompany me, just as if she was an old friend who had come out for the day to go shopping with me.  When I was finished, we both got up and went our separate ways never to meet again.

The lady totally distracted me from any worry about anything that I might have had with the other women coming and going with their packages and kids while I was doing the nourishing of my child.  I have to share that although this happened many years ago, it really stuck in my mind as a perfect gift from God to put that lady in that bathroom on that day at that particular time and give her the nudge to talk to me about her faith.  I have had other occasions of strangers stepping up to share a fellowship moment with me over the years, but this one really stuck with me.  When I left that restroom I was completely and totally refreshed from having shared that time of faithful fellowship with that woman.

The thing was that this was before I really started studying God’s word avidly so it was all the more wonderful to me that I had anything at all to share with her.  I mean, I was faithful to my beliefs, but really had a rather young faith…it had really just started to grow.  Her taking the time to sit and share with me boosted my faith in ways that I cannot express in words.  She truly shared the love of Christ with me that day just by being a companion to a young mother.


The Queen Bee Problem

The Bee in the center there is the Queen, she is longer and larger than any bee in the hive, and also is the only hairless bee.  All the other bees in the hive are fuzzy.

Today my friend and I went out to work in my bee hives.  I really enjoy them very much, but last month I did a split off of one of my hives and the bees being ever unpredictable when it comes to splitting or swarming or even their housekeeping…though their proclivity for stinging you if pinched is constant….decided on the split to just clean up the capped queen cell instead of letting her hatch and become their queen.  I thought, well, that is just wonderful, now I need to come up with a queen.  Then the rains set in on every day that I could conceivably have time to go and work my bees….so waiting it was.

So on Friday I get an email from a lady who happened to be not to far from my home stating that she had some bees in a tree.  I called her number and talk to her for a minute and recognized right where she was.  She said that the bees were 15 feet off the ground hanging in a tree.  I told her that sounded doable to take them.  I called  a friend of mine and asked for help as I don’t like to be on a ladder taking a swarm of bees without someone to hold the ladder.  He agreed to come and help.

About now, you all are probably wondering about what a swarm is if you are not beekeepers or friends of beekeepers and how a beekeeper would go and get them.  Thus the picture is worth a thousand words.


Anyway, the swarm in question turned out to be in a tree that was directly over an endless thickness of bushes, and was more like 30 feet in the air from the side we could work from, the 15 foot side had a pool and a fence there.  So there was no place for a ladder.

The ideal swarm is about 5-6 feet off the ground and you can walk up to it dressed in your bee gear, and hold a 5 gallon bucket under it and shake the branch vigorously a few times and they fall like a basket ball into the bucket, then you cover the bees up with a screen or towel, put them in the car and go home after assuring the home owner than any honey bees which did not go with you would be moving away on their own in a day or so.

It is probably stating the obvious at this point that those bees that were 30 feet in the air were not an ideal swarm.  In fact, if my friend and I had not been so stubborn we could have just told the home owner that they would leave in a day or two on their own for their new home and went on home ourselves.   However, we were there already…so we got this really hair-brained idea that we would go ahead and try to get them.  My friend, Dave happened to have brought along his long poled branch loppers and we decided at first to try and shake those babies out of the tree and maybe they would cooperate and land lower so we could get them.  Of course, it did not go so well.  He ended up cutting the branch and those stubborn girls just landed on the next lower one, still 20 ft up.  So for about two hours we worked at it, and I kept gathering bees a few hundred at a time.  Finally, they were gathering in a bush that I could reach.  I thought I had the queen.  Now, I actually wonder if they were queenless all along, on rare occasions this can happen to a swarm that the queen gets hurt or dies and they are just bunched up and don’t know what to do with themselves because the pheromones are still around so they don’t realize she is gone.  Dave and I did discuss this possibility.  To shorten this story I thought I had finally managed to get the queen, as I had most of the bees.  I then took them home and hived them.

The next day I went out to my bait hive and there was another swarm in it…it wasn’t in there when I hived that swarm the night before.  Funny thing is that I had lost a swarm 2 days before that, they were too high and I couldn’t get them.  I heard from Dave that it probably was hit by the school bus…about half a mile or so from my house.

Well, to get on with it I checked those two swarms over twice and ended up that after about 5 days there was no sign of queen or egg or brood of any kind in either of them.  This made me wonder if the swarm that got hit had the survivors come back and move into the bait hive after all…there is no telling of course…but it was odd to have two swarms with no queens.

So you can now see that as a beekeeper I have three hives of bees without a queen between them.  In the normal scheme of things what happens is when you need a queen for a queenless hive, you never ever have one available…you scramble around calling fellow beekeepers and bee suppliers trying to buy one.  If you are really blessed you can get hold of one, but finding 3 doesn’t usually go well.

The other option is if you have other hives to try and steal some eggs by giving a frame with eggs on it to the queenless hives and letting them make their own queens.  So this is what I set out to do today.  I had bees in boxes with different sized frames so I had to go to a couple different hives to borrow from them.  Well, I managed to get the deep frames into the two swarm hives, and I was feeling pretty good about that.  Kellie, who was helping me today, was too.

Then we opened up the hive to look for a shallow frame with eggs to give to the hive split.  This is when God greatly blessed me….lo and behold…this hive was in a swarming mood.  They had so many capped queen cells on different frames, and they were newly capped that I was able to take a capped queen cell and put it in all 3 of the queenless hives along with the brood, and still leave a couple for the hive that I was taking them from, just in case they needed them.

This was such a huge bit of convenience that we could hardly believe it!  Now, if those 3 hives will just keep those queen cells warm then in a few days they will each have a newly hatched queen ready for a mating flight!

I truly feel that this was a gift from God!  (Now, I know you are wondering how many stings we got while we were playing in the bees…the answer is neither in the swarm taking, nor in the work today did any of us get stung…not to say that we don’t, but we didn’t today, and for the most part we don’t.  I average about 1-2 stings a year.  Last year was an exception, but they got me badly then. Most of the time honey bees, where I live, are very gentle and tolerant of being messed with.)


By the way there is a story in the Bible with honey bees in it…Judges chapter 14…Samson is the main character.

This is a queen cell which is newly capped.  It will hatch sometime within 8 days.  By the time it hatches the comb will be a cinnamon brown color instead of this light off white color. The bees walking around in this picture are all females called workers they don’t lay eggs unless they don’t have a queen then they may start laying unfertilized eggs which make drones…they can never be a queen…however all eggs laid by the queen are usually female and can become queens if treated differently by the bees at the egg or very young larval stage. There is only one queen per hive and she is the mother of all future generations of bees in that hive. The “king bees” or drones all die either when they mate with the queen or they are kicked out in winter. The average honey bee hive as 50,000 bees or more in it.

The impact of a neighbor girl


Lester Robinson (Grandpa) and me Charlene Robinson age 2
My grandfather and I

When I was about 4 years old or so back when people told their kids to watch for cars, and come home when the street lights came on.  When Mom’s didn’t feel the least bit self-conscious or worried about swatting the kid on the rear in public if they were lippy with them, or if they didn’t follow the house rules.  If you weren’t home, they stuck their heads out the door and yelled your name down the street at the top of their lungs.  Frequently, in my case my Mom would start off with the names of one of my brother’s and finally hit the name she wanted.  If you are a parent you know how that is…Any way, there was a neighbor girl who I am thinking was probably about 8 or 9 years old.  She was older than all of us by a number of years, and since she could read well I would put her at that age. I cannot remember her name, but the impact on my life I will never forget, though at the time I didn’t realize it.

This girl invited all of us neighbor kids probably about 6 or so of us up to her room in her house and she had a tract in her hand from some church which told how to take Jesus into your heart. She simply told us about what she knew about Jesus, and then she asked us if we wanted to take Jesus into our hearts too.

I remember thinking, “Well, that sounds like a good idea.”  So I agreed.  She read to us and had us all repeat after her this prayer written on the paper in her hand asking Jesus to forgive us and come into our hearts to live in us.  We all followed along.  There weren’t any of us who said, “no, I don’t want that.”

I would like to tell you that I understood exactly what I was doing, but I am sure to tell you that I only remember thinking that it sounded like a good idea.  You know as a 4 year old you have a very simple understanding of God.  He is someone who is “magical” “powerful” “invisible” can be “angry” is “loving” and he is “safe”.  God is someone you definitely want to see when you die, as opposed to seeing that other guy, The Devil!  God’s house is way more fun sounding, it has angels that fly and harps too.  No one fights or hits or hates there.  You can’t even bang your foot there.  How can that not sound great to anyone? Even a 4 yr old can see it!

Now, that was really the beginning of my journey with God.  I did my prayers before that, but I don’t really remember anything except the dreaded “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” prayer! I say dreaded  because I really hated that “if I should die before I wake” line in that prayer, I mean, really…who teaches little kids these realities?  I used to lay awake at night as long as I could because I was worried about it.

Anyhow, the first time I really remember dealing with the issue of salvation is with the neighbor girl.  So when I am asked about my conversion experience, there it is.  I would like to say that everything was rosy and great after that, but it wasn’t.  Life rarely is, and when you take Jesus into your heart it is like putting a bell on a cat to Satan.  He is on high alert, and wants to do everything he can to wreck your faith and destroy your belief in God.  As it says in the Bible, he comes to steal, kill and destroy.  (John 10:10) He is the great deceiver.  Many things happened to me in my childhood after that which were not pleasant to say the least.  I won’t go into details except to say that miraculously my faith remained.

I can’t say it really grew at all.  It remained very child like.  I read the children’s Bible and my Mom told me Bible stories, but we really didn’t go to church.  Mom took us once or twice, but it was hard to get all of us together and over there early in the morning.  A minister once offended my Mom so badly that she never went back to that church.  As an adult, I am sure that what she thinks he said to her, was not meant the way he said it or particularly aimed at her.  However, the damage was done.  I went to church a couple times with friends, and mostly when I was a bit older I went with my Great Aunt.  I really enjoyed it when I got to go, but then we started moving around a lot and that was the end of it until I was out of High School and a working adult.

Well, I have to say, that I will never disregard the possibility of a child having genuine faith even while they don’t understand fully what faith is, or sin is, or who Jesus is.  I think this is what Jesus meant in the Bible when he said, “Let the children come to me, don’t hinder them, for to such as these belong the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14)

Children simply trust what is said to them.  I trusted what the neighbor girl said to me, and it changed my life.  God has upheld my faith for my entire life even when I didn’t really understand anything at all with any depth.  I intend to maintain my “childlike” trust in God for the remainder of my life…the trust that says that God says what he means and means what he says..God is trustworthy.

So this is my first testimonial.  I hope that you enjoy reading about it, and will share some of your own with me.