You Can Stack Buttered BBs for an Hour: Hope for Hanging On in Hard Times

Today we celebrated my dad’s 19th birthday. It sounds a little odd, but he’s a leap year baby. He would have actually had a birthday this year. He passed away in July after a car accident.

We had a small family party today, and we celebrated the fact that, while Daddy isn’t with us for his birthday, he is with Jesus. And I’m sure that this is the best birthday he’s ever had in all his 19+ years.

We took some time to each tell a happy memory about Daddy. I thought about what I was going to say. Although I can write to my heart’s content, I’m not always good at verbalizing what I feel or think. But after I had thought and thought, there was really only one thing I could say about my Daddy today.

Hope in hard times

Daddy always said, “You can stack buttered bbs for an hour.”

I was the puzzled the first time I heard this statement.

I was a teenager. In my growing up life we all went to church every time the door was open, no questions, no debate. If you were dead or dismembered, you might get a pass. It was Sunday night and I was supposed to be getting ready to go to youth group. And I didn’t want to go. I don’t even remember why I didn’t want to go. But I was tired and grouchy- typical teenage fair. And I didn’t see how I could drag myself to youth and survive. (Can’t you feel the drama?)

But Daddy insisted. And when I was sure that going would mean a never-ending, unbearable, intolerable night of misery and agony and exhaustion (and all that other teenage angst), Daddy said “You can stack buttered bbs for an hour.”

Um, what? Buttered bbs? 

So Daddy explained. My dad had been in the military- air force- before college. He explained that stacking buttered bbs- if you can just imagine the picture- is an impossible, frustrating, and mind-numbing task. But, when you know how long you have to bear the unbearable, you can do it because you know that eventually it will be over.

That phrase became my mantra when I had to do unpleasant things- sitting through a class with an extremely boring teacher, making small talk with an obnoxious person, folding laundry (yes, it ranks up there with extremely unpleasant), driving long distances with a car full of children. You know what, I can make it through this because “You can stack buttered bbs for an hour.”

And if you knew my Dad, you’d know he lived his life by that mantra also. He was a Christian with great faith, and he always looked forward to eternity after this life. In his eyes all of the hardship we have to endure here was nothing compared to the eternity he had to look forward to with Christ. Here on earth, Daddy was stacking buttered bbs. He was sticking with it, doing the hard things, making it through the hard times because he knew it was but for an hour. In light of eternity, his life here was the blink of eye. And he knew that one day, his sometimes frustrating, tiresome, painful task would be over, and he would have peace and joy unending.

Daddy is celebrating his birthday with Jesus this year. But he’s left a legacy- children and grandchildren who also have a hope of the eternity to come, who can endure the buttered bbs of hardship in the here and now because we know it’s going to come to an end. And one day we’ll all celebrate being done with the buttered bbs for good.

Weeping in the night: dealing with hard times

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