Finding Joy in Our Story…Even in the Hard Chapters!

Dear Reader:

When Michele came across this visual inspirational message…she texted to let me know she immediately thought of me when she saw it. As soon as I read it…I texted her back to say she was absolutely right…it would be the post title picture to start off the beautiful month of May…one of my favorite months.

The first day of May…it has lots of different meanings and memories for all of us…for me it was being selected Erskine College May Pole senior class representative to ‘dance the traditional welcome spring dance’ around the May Pole…which has lead to one of my Ya nicknames now…”Maypole Queen.” 🙂

(This outfit for my Erskine Maypole photo (for the yearbook) dates time…doesn’t it?)

Besides the tradition of the May Day Maypole dance on the first day of May each year…for others, like the wonderful Miss Minnie Kennedy who once lived at Hobcaw Barony …the original home of Bernard Baruch…she remembers the first day of May (from her childhood)…as one of the happiest…it was known as “Barefoot Day” and in the south it was the first day children were allowed to go barefoot. Sheer happiness for children!

(*Carol and I… interviewing Minnie…a tiny woman filled with history from her barefoot toes to the top of her head. An amazing human treasure chest of Americana!)

May 1, in addition to, pulling up scenes and memories of spring flowers and Maypole dances…is also Labor Day in many countries around the world. (Even though the U.S. celebrates their Labor Day at the first of September….other countries celebrate the International Workers coalition that started the Labor Day commemoration…on May 1.)

* It was May 1, in our country, when the famous strike that started the workers eventual victory for the 8 hour work day began!



This year,  in correlation with the coronavirus lock-down, several states are looking at May 1 as their starting point to begin the process of re-opening some businesses.

The vast majority of states, who originally hoped school could resume in May, have decided to keep schools closed until  fall. (And then pray hard!)

So on this May 1, 2020, we have a lot of things going on but it is up to us to choose the way in which we want to remember the day…what we want to write in our story for the perpetual memory of May 1, 2020. How do we want it remembered?

Like the title photo message says today…we can choose to let go of what we thought our life would be like…and instead find joy in the here and now. This can be done with God’s help guiding us through the barriers of life to arrive at the place we were intended to be.

By closing some doors and opening other windows with faith we can one day understand why our own personal dreams were not in God’s plans for us…and how lucky we were that He lead us to our Happy Place…in His direction!

Last year, for my birthday, Brooke gave me a copy of A Man Called Peter…one of my favorite all-time books. It had been decades since I  last read it.

I put it up in a drawer and then never opened that particular drawer again… until just recently while searching for something else.


Presently I am half-way though the book ..and find it hard to stop and even write the blog post for wanting to return to Peter’s story. It is told by his equally famous author wife, Catherine Marshall, after his death …(that came way too soon…died at 46)

I have a personal interest in the story through some cousins, the Craigs, who lived in Washington, DC.


They were member of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church …when and where Peter Marshall eventually came to preach. After mother and daddy married…they purposefully went to visit the cousins so they could attend church to hear him.

Years later in reminiscing this experience…mother used a word I wasn’t familiar with as a ten -year-old. It was the first time I heard the word “charisma” (in reference to hearing this amazing man of faith preach.) I was ‘all-ears’ listening to mother re-tell the memory to her sister, my Aunt Eva.

I remember asking her what it meant. ( I have always loved learning new words.)  She thought a minute and responded “A special gift from God.” To this day…I think her definition still stands alone in its sacred meaning.

The young Scots boy, Peter, had to learn the hard way (like most of us do) that his personal dreams and plans for the future and God’s aren’t always the same…God’s are always better.

Catherine writes “Peter Marshall did not grow up wanting to be a minister. That was God’s idea-not his. In fact, it took quite a lot of divine persuasion to get him to accept that plan.”

Young Peter was obsessed with going to sea initially as a deck apprentice in the British Mercantile Marine…and, of course, eventually rise to nothing less an admiral. At 14 he ran away from home to do just that…but got “busted” for lying about his age and promptly returned home…with his school mates laughing at his experience the next day at school…much to his humiliation!

Instead Peter found himself working in different machine shops, doing difficult assembly line work…anything to make money while growing up in an impoverished region of Scotland. But as he grew God started sending lots and lots of guardian angels to point him in the right direction….this included immigration to America and ministry.

He soon recognized these callers for who they were…as they would recite the same scripture…”Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all things shall be added unto you.”

He was literally called one dark night…a night that changed his life because it saved his life. He was crossing the moors  when suddenly he heard someone call, “Peter!” There was great urgency in the voice.

He stopped, “Yes, who is it? What do you want?”

Only the sound of the lonely wind responded. The moors seemed completely deserted.

He walked a few more paces and heard it again, even more urgently.


He stumbled and fell to his knees…putting his hand out to catch himself…he found nothing there. Just one step more would have sent him plummeting into space to a certain death. (He had been on the brink of an abandoned stone quarry.)

From that moment on…he turned his faith and life over to God and even though it took a long time, eventually every window or door that needed to open (to get him where God wanted him) was eventually unlocked…by friends of his father who had died early, men of faith, and kind-hearted strangers.

In the end his journey would take him to the U.S. Senate… elected its Chaplain unanimously. Both political parties kept him in the senate after each election calling  him “The Conscience of the Senate.”  

What a journey God had for Peter! He might not have gone to sea....but thousands of people could “see” the sacred “charisma” of this man of God to His Creator… and it changed their own lives for the better…forever.


So until tomorrow….“God will not permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessings can come out of difficulty.” Peter Marshall

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Don’t forget to say “Rabbit, Rabbit”! It is the first day of the month…the first day of beautiful May. We want all the good luck we can get!

It will certainly be a month of changes…it’s how we handle these changes… and the beauty we seek within… that will dictate the story we write.

So glad I could get a photo of Mr. Bunny today…he’s missing one ear and one eye…but he still has a lot of bounce in his hop! I love my day lilies..having one or two each day burst into bloom makes me happy!


Mandy sent me this picture of Jake dressed up like a cowboy (with a Nerf gun) and suddenly everything seemed all right with the world. If little boys still want to be cowboys…we are going to be alright too…the world hasn’t turned upside down.



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Finding Joy in Our Story…Even in the Hard Chapters!

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Rabbit…Rabbit…your blog today was like a walk down memory lane. I remember Peter Marshall very well and the book too. We had a copy at our home and it was read by all. And the May Pole festivities were a big deal at Gardner Webb. I loved going to watch them as a young girl. The college girls always dressed in beautiful pastel evening gowns and danced around the pole with the ribbons braiding them down the pole. It was a very colorful and precise waltz. Two of my older sisters were queens and danced in the ceremony. Sadly they stopped doing it and it was missed by the whole town. I loved your picture and Jake’s too. Love his blue eyes…cutie!


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I think the Maypole dance needs to be revised again too…it was such a beautiful ceremony …young people today will never know the history and significance of such a long- awaited event…and just the pure fun of participating in it.


  2. Beverly Dufford says:

    Your title is so appropriate for these times particularly. I so enjoyed hearing about Peter Marshall again. What a legacy he left in his short journey on earth! Although I remember many things about this man, I don’t think I ever read the book. The first thing I said this morning when my eyes opened was “Rabbit”, twice. That is definitely a Becky thing for me and Colby. I agree that Jake has the most beautiful blue eyes. He will definitely have the attention of many young ladies with those eyes . Thanks for your inspirational words today.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Rabbit…back to you Jo! May this beautiful, flowering month of spring be the best time yet for you…to immerse yourself in the joys and beauty of life.


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