Fire at Sea

Travel is one of life’s great adventures. I’ve experienced a 675-mile yard sale, slept in the top of a castle in Germany, ridden a prop plane through a tornado in North Dakota, accidentally taken my family to a topless beach in Mexico, stood on a mountain in Vermont that inspired The Sound of Music, and stayed in a creepy abandoned hospital overlooking the “Hollywood” sign.

When travel involves flying, the adventure escalates. My prosthetic left arm sets off all kinds of alarms going through security checkpoints. I get wanded and patted just like on Law and Order. And since 9/11, I even get swabbed for explosives. The officers swab the shoulder and hand of my prosthetic arm and then test the swab using an ETD (Explosive Trace Detection) machine.

But I must say my greatest travel adventure was a fire at sea. My family of four was in a small cabin on the Carnival cruise ship Fantasy. I was in the shower while the kids were getting dressed for dinner. My husband Tim needed to iron his shirt so he unplugged the TV from the 220-volt outlet and plugged the 110-volt iron into it. A few seconds later he tapped on the bathroom door and said, “Beck, I think we’ve got a problem.” I stuck my head out the door into a smoke-filled room.

“Get the kids out!” I screamed. I grabbed the only piece of clothing in sight, a jacket, and pulled it on as I ran into the hall calling for the cabin steward. He appeared immediately. He took one look at the smoke rolling out of our cabin and raced for help. Within seconds, white uniforms were everywhere; they were running up and down the hall and in and out of our cabin. The four of us stood in shock in the hallway watching. Then suddenly I gasped—I was totally naked except for a very short jacket! I backed up against the wall and stood statue still for the next hour.

The crew eventually got the problem resolved and we were allowed to return to our cabin. The fire didn’t kill my husband, but I wanted to.

My next travel adventure is scheduled for June. Tim and I are going on a Hawaii cruise to Honolulu, Maui, Hilo, Kona, and Kauai on the ship Pride of America. You better believe I’ve already checked—the outlets are 110.


I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10 (AMP)



The Joke’s on You

My kids and I were out for a fun day of shopping at the mall in Florence, Kentucky. Isaac, 12 at the time, had bought a coat at the Gap. He was carrying the bag with those string handles across his shoulders like a backpack. Cassie, 16 at the time, had found some PJs at Penneys and we were checking out.

Jeremy was running the register. We didn’t know Jeremy; that’s just what his nametag said. He was a friendly guy. Lots of teenage guys were friendly when Cassie was with us. He talked non-stop while scanning the tag and taking our debit card.

In the meantime, the weight of the Gap bag became uncomfortable for Isaac so he started working to get the string handles off of his shoulders. Jeremy, trying to think of the next thing to say, blurted out, “Yeah, you better get that bag off of your shoulder or it will cut your circulation and your arm will fall off.”

My kids’ heads spun around toward me. I kept looking at Jeremy. He didn’t shut up. He asked Isaac, “What’s your name?” When Isaac told him, Jeremy said, “They’ll start calling you one-armed Isaac.”

Again my kids’ heads spun around to me. They’d never seen me chew somebody up and spit them out, but I think they were waiting to see if it might happen. This time I glanced at them, winked, and looked back at Jeremy. We all laughed. He thought we liked his joke. He had no idea the joke was on him.


“God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Genesis 21:6 (NIV)

Cassie and Isaac (I think)

Cassie and Isaac (I think)

Girl Fight

The closest I ever came to getting in a fight was with a girl named Vickie Carmichael. She wasn’t much bigger than me, but she was tough. Everybody feared her in fifth-grade gym class when we played dodgeball. And she had her eye on me. I’m not sure why. Maybe my prosthetic left arm made me a target. Kids like to pick on kids who are different in some way—kids without stylish clothes, kids who are overweight, kids with disabilities, new kids.

It always happened after school on the way to the bus. I dreaded the walk along the long line of yellow school buses. There was no hiding from Vickie. She spotted me every day. I froze in my tracks when I saw her and braced for the pain. She made a fist, pulled it back behind her head, and full force punched me in my upper right arm. I didn’t cry. I simply took it and then got on the bus. I never told anybody. I just lived in fear of Vickie Carmichael.

For months I contemplated my lot in life, victim of Vickie Carmichael. I knew something had to change. I decided I had to fight back. I devised a plan. I wasn’t convinced it would work, but I was determined to give it a try. On one unsuspecting day, I put my plan into action.

Vickie approached, as usual. My heart pounded. I had to act fast before she did. I took a deep breath and gathered all my courage. Then…I drew back my purse and hit Vickie Carmichael with it as hard as I could! I spun around and ran for my life to the bus. I fully expected to die that day. But surprisingly, she didn’t chase me. In fact, she never hit me again.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s facing the enemy in spite of our fear. I realized that day that I could be courageous. I’ve had to be courageous many times in the years since. So if you ever find yourself facing an enemy and needing some courage, call me. I’ll come over with my purse.


“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Girl Fight