In praise of the honey bee

May 15, 2014

My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
Proverbs 24:13

I just finished a large project that I had volunteered to do. I had no idea how long it was going to take. I found myself feeling very resentful at times. I'm a lot better at saying "no" these days, but apparently still have some room to go. Always having been a "good girl," I have found myself being taken advantage of many times. I have always been "nice." Saying "no" feels mean.

I notice the people who say "no," though, are oftentimes respected more. I have strengthened my "no" muscle, but it still needs practice. But, having committed myself, I trudged through. I was reminded of two verses as I was plodding through this project. One, about counting the cost before you begin something, as in, do I have enough time and energy to do this?, and two, about making good on your promises even if it hurts.

This project was one that most people would have gotten paid for. I figured my husband and I could have gone to Italy and Greece for a couple weeks with what I should have been compensated. Sigh. Sometimes I think I have a sign on my back that says, "Hey, I'm a really nice person. Feel free to take advantage of me."

And here, I definitely remembered the verse in 1 Timothy about the worker deserving his wages! 

Really, I'm not blaming anyone here but myself. After all, I'm the one who said "yes." No one twisted my arm.


So what does this have to do with honey bees?

I was originally going to write today about the bee at the top of my blog header. Before I dumped out my frustrations here. But now I see how I can tie these two disparate subjects together.

Why is there a bee in my header? Lovely Karen, who designed my blog, originally had a crown there. It didn't seem quite what I was going for.

In a brilliant flash of insight, my daughter suggested putting a bee there. "Deborah" means bee in Hebrew. 

Now, I have never liked my name. There are a whole lot of us from a certain era with that name. Four of the 11 ladies in my book club have that name. There's a Deb, a Debby, a Debra, and me, Deborah. With apologies to my friends, whom I love, I don't like any version of the name. I have gone my whole life disliking it, and wishing I had gotten my sister's name, Sarah. But what if there was a way to see my name differently, to turn it into something beautiful, something I could embrace and be proud of?

I have seen my name translated "busy bee." That doesn't suit me at all.  It sounds like "busybody," or some frantic, uptight Type A personality, buzzing around, stirring things up, and generally being a nuisance. Granted, I could see it in a positive light, like being productive and responsible. Good traits, for sure, and necessary in life, but honestly, it doesn't sound like much fun. A drudge, a drone.

I came across the translation "honey bee." Now there was an idea. The idea of being someone who brings sweetness into the lives of others. Who gathers goodness from her environment and shares it with everyone. Who takes time to smell the roses. Literally! Now, I like that. It fits in with the purpose of my blog, which is to share beautiful things, to realize that the beautiful matters.

Honey bees spend their whole lives gathering and sharing good things. Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that a lovely model for a life well lived?

Honey by Marc Jacobs, a Mother's Day gift. This will be my summer perfume. Cute bottle a major bonus.


Now how to tie in with my earlier rant? A honey bee also possesses a stinger. Threaten it, and it will remind you, in no uncertain way, that it is not to be messed with. I could learn a little from that. It's okay to protect myself. By saying "no" sometimes. By not hanging around with negative, judgmental, and bossy people. By not allowing others to dictate what I should do or how I should feel.

That honey bee commands some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, in the words of Aretha Franklin.

Bringing loveliness and sweetness and beauty to those around me, but setting appropriate boundaries. That little bee, that Deborah, can teach me some things.


  1. Wow, what a great post, sweet Deborah! Our Mother/ Daughter banquet last Friday was on Bee's and the speaker talk about the "Be's" in the Bible - Be content, be vigilant, be strong, etc.

    Thank you for sharing and may the upcoming weekend be lovely. Hugs to you!

  2. I hope you were graciously thanked and appreciated. xoxo

  3. I love how you got these two thoughts connected ... this was an interesting read. Maybe the volunteer project was just a lesson in disguise ;) Whenever things aren't going well for me, I try to see what it is I'm meant to learn from it. I'll bet you like your name much better now that you've discovered your inner bee (sting). My brother delighted in telling me that "Wendy" is a made-up name created for the story Peter Pan. I'm not sure if that's actual fact, but it made me dislike my name (a bit more). Cheers! Wendy x

  4. You go girl!!! I understand where you're coming from.. I swear, I have spent most of my life with that same sign on my back! I've gotten better at "no" too, but every once in a while I volunteer for something, only to get in the middle of it and think "This should have been a NO." What is it they say....'that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger'?? Ha ha!!!
    Like a lot of people, not crazy about my name either...mine comes from "Anne" and as a child, my older sister delighted in telling me I didn't have a "real" name. Aren't siblings wonderful?? :>)

  5. I am so glad you wrote this. My generation was taught from the cradle to serve others, to agree, to put oneself last, and to work diligently. Do your duty! Above and beyond! Rise above it! Sound familiar??? Very annoying to find oneself overwhelmed by this.
    This year I am studying at the university. It is really hard. I need lots of help with some of the assignments and I have to ask for it (from young people, too) or all my effort will be wasted. Consequently I have really changed in other ways too. Guess what? People no longer ask me to do long complicated volunteer tasks either because they know I am studying.
    The name thing? You are really lucky you got such a nice name. It was given with great love. Where I live it is very multicultural. Other cultures do the names differently. What they think is beautiful does not often match my thoughts. Luckily I was given a family name, passed through many generations. But that gets tricky too because I am known by the second name not the first. Another multicultural thing.

  6. Don't want to be a party pooper, but I really like the name 'Deborah'; it sounds so intriguing and enchanting! Having said that, the crowning glory on your beautiful blog, namely, that multi-tasking, multi-talented bee, certainly is something to aspire to, not only for spreading the sweetness in the world and working so diligently, but for providing us with one of life's most magical and delicious elixirs - honey!

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  7. Well, I knew about the bee in your header because you explained it to me when I did a post about bees. Think of yourself as the 'honey bee' bringing sweetness into the life of others as you do on your blog. It really is hard to say no and when people know you are a good volunteer, your name comes to mind right away.
    Have a great weekend.

  8. Great post, Deborah! So glad you stopped in today so that I could find your blog. I'm now following your blog via Feedly and GFC. Thank you for your sweet comment.

  9. Dearest Deborah,
    Well I guess in the long run we all get compensated for our many good deeds here on earth! It is meaningful and it certainly will be appreciated.
    Bees will not sting as they pay with their lives for doing so...
    Sending you hugs and sweetness for a happy weekend.

  10. Great post. About your name, I don't know any Deborahs except you. I do know a Debbie and that's what she goes by. I know a TON of Sarahs so I have to say (with not disrespect to any Sarahs of course), I love your name! It sounds so elegant and mysterious in its full version. I am a fan! As for saying no, oh I am SO good at that, maybe I'm getting too good. But I realized early on that people will take advantage of you if they think you will let them get away with it and because of realizing this I jealously guard my time to spend with my children and to write. Have a great weekend. XO, Jill

  11. We LOVE honey bees around here. As I sit in my room with my laptop, I have two hives of thousands of bees, about 2 feet behind my head :) (on the other side of the window - haha!) Bees also have very particular jobs, and they don't do anything BUT their jobs. Some are scout bees who venture out every morning to find out which kind of flower will be harvested that day. Drones, you know. There are nursery bees who only take care of the babies. I like your new take on your name. I don't really like my name either -- never have. It's too long (a double name), and nobody wants to say or spell the whole thing. I always imagine when I get to heaven, I'll find out what my "real" name is, and be relieved! haha!
    I've made slow progress in saying 'no.' I tend to get myself so overcommitted, and I say 'yes' thinking some activity will be fun, but the closer it gets in time, the more I dread it. Sigh. Say No and Slow Down!!! :)

  12. Thank you, Deborah, and I think your name is beautiful, so much strength behind it. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not alone in the difficult challenge of setting boundaries. I no longer struggle saying no, not as much as I used to, but every now and then I come across a new challenge. One thing that helped me was repeating a simple and graceful phrase like, "No, thank you," and for those who understand this language, "I'm just not led at this time." What on earth can they say to that, right? teehee
    As far as committing to specific dates, I make sure friends and acquaintances know that most of the time I won't be able to confirm until the same day.
    Love the significance of your header and love that perfume bottle.

  13. I think that we were all named after Debbie Reynolds :)

    At my old job I had many European customers thus I got a new nickname right off the bat. It's always "DEBS" over there :)

    Hey I emailed you about something that you'll probably say 'no' to, lol! :)

  14. There were lots of Debras and Deborahs in my generation and I longed for a 'normal' name like that! I have a family name, and it was a bit of a burden until I was in university. I really like your new take on your name though - a Honey Bee is a beautiful image - all the sweetness and tenacity, strength and agility. It couldn't be lovelier.
    I certainly understand your frustration over difficulty with 'no'. I'm learning, but it is hard going. Good luck!

  15. I find myself having a very hard time saying 'no' also Deborah so I am right there with you. I too can not blame anyone but myself. People know to 'call me' when they need help. lol! Most of the time I am more than happy to help, but every now and then I have to have a pity party. Love how you learned to like your name. Perfect 'honey bee'!

  16. Hi Deborah, yes for me too it's hard to say no sometimes. I liked this post and I do hope whoever you did the big project for thanks you and appreciates what you did! I like the bee to on the top of your blog. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

  17. When we finally learn that we must only say yes to what God wants us to do, great freedom is realized. What a relief! I really like the bee in your header design and, from one who does not like her name either (for all the reasons you mentioned...too trendy by half for the time), I think this is a great way to embrace the name! One of my dearest friends is named Deborah. It makes the name beautiful to me.

  18. Deborah,

    The bee on your beautiful header is perfection. It also symbolizes diligence and indefatigable effort. And I am guessing this description fits you perfectly. I think you are just kind hearted and always eager to lend a helping hand. That my sweet Deborah can sometimes get us into a bit of trouble. It has certainly happened to me on a few occasions. I am a bit more cautious volunteering my help these days. I hope your friends realized the work involved and the effort that you put into the project and that they are grateful. If they do not, then it is time to close that chapter and move on.

    Thank you for visiting me. I love to read your beautiful comments.


    symbolizes diligence and indefatigable effort

  19. Hi There,

    I'm coming by way of Marcia's blog. I saw your comment that you posted a Bible verse. Love that! This is a great and honest, post! I can relate to this in so many ways. I too am the "nice" girl...the "good" girl and I've struggled with saying no in the past. I want everyone to get along and it just doesn't always work that way, unfortunately.

    I love that names have meanings...I looked up your name...wanted to see if I could find something else on it and found this site:
    It talks about your name saying, "In the Old Testament Book of Judges Deborah is a heroine and prophetess who leads the Israelites to defeat Canaanites. Also in the Old Testament, it is the name of the nurse of Rebecca." So, YOU are a heroine and a leader! LOVE it! This is so COOL! BELIEVE it my friend! :)

    Bee blessed!
    Heidi (hi-d @ hi-d's place)

  20. I enjoyed your musings on these topics that are all connected - how good of God to give you a new perspective on your name after all these years. The name of your blog makes me want to read it, and the topic of honeybees drew me in further. I think bees are quite amazing and I've written about them and honey several times - but I didn't know about the honey perfume! If it has any of the scent of beeswax I would adore it, so I appreciate the tip!


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