I spent a lot of time growing up at my Nanoo’s and Papa’s house. They lived in a mill village with a “everybody knows everybody” feel to the community. I loved hanging out there because now that I look back on it, times were simpler and you walked through the doors and feel completely loved. I learned that a one pot meal of lima beans and cornbread was a meal that filled you up and it was there that I saw my Nanoo on her knees in prayer and heard those prayers outloud for every single one of us in the family. But probably one of my most favorite memories was watching my Papa out back taking care of bees. He would put on the proper gear and if you didn’t know who he was or what he was doing, he would very much look like he could’ve played a part in the movie “ET”. He had to protect himself from beestings, but the payoff for wearing all of that gear was the best honey you have EVER put in your mouth. That little honey bear from the store just doesn’t do justice to Papa Stroud’s honey. It was a time consuming process, but he was committed to it and achieving great results. As a kid I would stand in their tiny little hallway leading to the back door and watch to make sure he would be OK, but I often wondered what he was thinking the whole time he was out there (besides not getting stung) and was always fascinated by the patience it took to stay committed to making sure he got lots of honey in the end.
As I think about the words I use day to day with those whom I come in contact, I think my Papa said a lot more to me about that than I probably realized then. He, in general, was a quieter man. Truth is, he had three girls and honestly didn’t have a shot to get a word in edgewise. For me, however, it wasn’t in how he carried himself in the day to day, but in those moments I saw him as a beekeeper that have impacted me the most. You see, everyday, my opportunity is before me to speak words of life to anyone God puts in my path, but truthfully, I botch that a lot. I’m a “if I think it, I usually say it” kind of girl. If you want an honest opinion, I got that. I don’t always choose my words carefully with my husband, kids or friends. I don’t start any day intending to be ugly, saracastic or degrading in the way I speak to others, and if we’re all being honest, none of us probably do. Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Words make a big impression. I can tell you they are LIFE-GIVERS. I know that when I put on a protective suit each day just like my Papa would do, the chances are for a much sweeter and encouraging result in the lives of others. We can all remember words that have killed us from our past. Very rarely do we dwell on the words spoken that were good, but we can readily speak about those times when another’s words destroyed us.