Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Stomped

The neighbor kids were playing at our house yesterday and they were all upstairs in the hallway with their Lego. All was well, so it seemed. I was upstairs too working on the piles of laundry my husband had brought home from the used uniform sale at the school the day before, blessings on my children!
Suddenly, my son burst out in tears, and came running towards me holding his hand up. "What happened?" I inquired.
"She stomped on my finger as hard as she could!" He wailed.
I looked at my daughter, who now had a little smirk on her face and asked her if she had indeed stomped on his hand. She shook her head yes, then confessed, "he had my rubber band and I needed it."
I asked, "did you think about using your words and asking for the rubber band?"
"No" she said.
At this point, her smirk was disappeared as she began to realize the folly of her ways. The neighbor girl decided that she was going to "wait outside", and my son tuned up his wailing , just a notch.
My daughter went to the bedroom to think for awhile, and my son calmed down, although his feelings were not easily soothed. He continued to play Lego with his friend, but resentment towards his sister was oozing through his bones.
I went into the bedroom and talked with my daughter about the value of using words rather than just stomping around to get what she wants. And, even though I am not convinced she totally got what I was trying to say to her, she did go to her brother and say to him that she was sorry. There was a bit of a stomp in her walk as she did it though!
As I watch my two youngest children grow, I know God is challenging me to grow in all of these areas! I can be such a stomper! I see myself in my children and I hear God whispering "Bethany, didn't you just stomp on that friend of yours the other day?" It may not look exactly the same, it is better disguised. But, it is stomping, and it's not okay.
I've been praying a lot for God to reveal truth to me, for Him to show me His glory and guide me along the path of His will. He certainly has been doing that through my children. I'm watching them grow, and learning to grow myself, they are teaching me.
Jesus, Say That Again, your truth is revealed in many ways, thank you for using my children.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Memory Lane

I spent the afternoon in the city yesterday. We use to live there and I have a lot of memories there. I went to an old cafe' that I use to hang out in all the time, but I didn't stay. Then, I drove up to a park where we use to take our kids to and I walked around. I walked to an old friends house and I knew I should knock on her door because there were things to say. I called my husband. I walked by the house to the end of the block and prayed, thinking that maybe God would tell me that I could just forget about it this time. The way I've dealt with things before, just forgot about them. But, He encouraged me to knock on the door. I was sure it was her house, surprisingly I remembered. She even had the same car, after 20 years! Everything looked the same, oddly the same.
I walked up the path to her door, and just as I was about to knock my phone buzzed. I had a text. I decided to check it out before knocking. It was from a friend, a good friend, and I was encouraged by God's timing. I asked her to pray. Then I knocked. I felt nervous and shaky inside, trembling actually. It took what seemed forever for someone to come to the door. Her husband answered.
God sent me to the door because He wanted me to go IN His strength. He wanted me to see that I could face unresolved fears after 20 years and walk away free. He wanted me to see that He is strong and He is good. I didn't leave trembling, I left knowing that God was in control and that God is doing an amazing work in my life and I am so excited that He loves me. I left with a burden to reach those that do not understand that, with a desire to reflect His light wherever I go.
Jesus, send me. Jesus, use me. Jesus, Say That Again! You are the light of this world and You are my Strength and my Shield, my Fortress.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Tomato

There are a lot of green tomato's in our garden right now, and almost every day I've been checking for a red one. Well, last week, there was a red one! And, a good size one too, and it's a beauty, too. It stands alone amongst all the green tomato's. I didn't pick it the second I saw it because I wanted to show some of my friends how it looked hanging there on the vine, all red. They were excited too and it felt good to me to have them share in my joy. It may just be a tomato, but we planted the garden together and enjoy the harvest together.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the disciples and what it might have been like for them to follow Jesus. To take a stand and be like a red tomato amongst all the green ones. To move forward when He calls, even if I won't blend in.
My husband and I listened to a book, Radical. It was so good I decided to purchase the book and read it. I've been working my way through it and there's a section I found very helpful this last week because of my own circumstances. Because I feel like a red tomato.
In the book he was explaining the unusual ways that God works, and as His follower, am I prepared for that? In Luke 9, Jesus asks a man to follow Him. The man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
But, Jesus basically said no to him. Jesus wanted him to come right then and there. Drop everything and obey. Don't look back, don't wrap it all up, just follow!
Another guy said he wanted to follow Jesus, but first he wanted to say goodbye to his family, but, same thing, Jesus didn't want him looking back.
This might all seem like an odd and sad way for God to work, but God asks us to deny ourselves. He asks me to deny myself, and to follow Him. He doesn't care about what the crowd looks like, what the IN color is, or how I might want to finish things up. He cares about my devotion to HIM. He wants me to match Him. My reflection to stand out in such a way that He will be seen; it may very well seem odd.
So today Jesus, continue to mold me into that one tomato for You. The kind that stands out on the branch and is sustained by the vine. Say That Again, Jesus, You are asking more of me and it is different, I will choose to obey.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Gun

Our son and his friends love to play in the forest behind our house and their house. They are play in dirt, build forts, shoot guns, dig for treasures kind of boys. A few days ago, the boys were with their grandmother and she helped them set up a target in the forest behind their house, then they, along with my son decided to get their bb guns for some target practice. The lady that lives beside them was unhappy with their escapades and told them to stop shooting their guns, and she promptly called the police on our eight and nine year old boys! She told the police that there was a crime occurring in the neighborhood.
The police arrived, they talked to the boys and told them that they had to stop shooting their bb guns at their target in the forest. My son came home and said that the neighbor called the police and called him a criminal. The police came and talked to him and his friends and now he can't shoot his gun anymore until the police talk to us, his parents. I asked him what he thought about all of that and he said, "I'm not a criminal!" And, "the neighbor is mean!"
Well, the truth is, the boys were not suppose to be shooting their guns in the forest, although grandma didn't know that. I didn't either, actually. It's a forest! But, it's against the law, so they can't do that. The truth is, this does not make them criminal, it means they made a mistake. And, it would have been mature and kind of the neighbor to handle it differently, rather than labeling three young boys with a word like "criminal." The truth is, she probably isn't mean. I don't even know her. And, I need to take my son over there and have a conversation with her so they can work things out. I want them to hear each other's hearts, I want to hear her heart.
I live in a world, a country, a state, a community,a church of diversity. Everyone sees differently, hears differently, speaks differently. What can I do to get along? How can I stand up for what is right, yet still be at peace with others? How can I live with integrity? How can I walk in a world that is constantly challenging me to be a woman of truth when everything around me is deceit? How can I raise my children to see people in a loving way, rather than through eyes of pain and fear?
I want to be able to celebrate the fact that I, along with others even want to attempt to reach the target! I don't want to yell at them and tear them down and call them names and attack them because possibly they are breaking the law. I want to be able to extend grace, lots of grace.
Jesus, show me how. You did it all the time, and You still do. Say That Again, Jesus, You are Grace, and You hit the target everyday!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Sick Day

Even though I carried on with most of my day as normal, I shouldn't have. I am sick with the flu. I have body aches, nausea, headache and a sore throat. It was not that bad this morning, but by the time I got home this afternoon I was ready to fall into bed. It felt like a sick day.
My husband bought me seven up and made me toast. I went to bed and fell asleep. I woke up feeling worse and discovered that both my kids were already in bed asleep. I'm ready to go back to bed and sleep some more in hopes that when I wake up the next time, I will feel better. It is a sick evening.
I guess there are just some days and some evenings that are just off. And, even when I try to go on as normal, it's still going to be off and sooner or later I'm going to have to stop, slow down, and look at what's causing me to be off. The problem won't go away until the problem is resolved. I think I'm going to be in bed for a little while so this problem can be resolved.
Jesus, Say That Again, sometimes there are sick days, and You are the great physician. I will let you give me rest and heal my heart, soul, and body.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Crown

Earlier this summer when I went to North Carolina one of the women in my speakers group gave me a crown necklace. She hands them out as part of her ministry, and I found it to be so beautiful, that I wanted to share it with my friends too. I ordered more of her necklaces and have been sharing crowns ever since! There have been many days that I have felt like I fell down and lost my crown, if you know what I mean. And, I've had to crawl to the throne in confession asking God to forgive me for the many faults and wrongs. God, being the awesome God that He is reminds me that He never did remove the crown, He has crowned me with a crown of glory as His child that will never change.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with one of our sons. He was feeling left out of the family because of a chain of events, and there were things that needed to be said. I needed to tell him that he had never been uninvited. Nothing, from our point of view had changed. We always loved him, always will, and nothing can ever change that. He is crowned in our family, and no one can take that crown away from him. But, he has to believe it! He has to take the gift and live within the family.
I have to wear the crown, take the gift, and live within God's family. I have to believe I am His. I have to sit at His right hand and live IN His authority. I have to allow the power of His Spirit to work within me, it's all my choice.
I can give all my friends the crown, but it's up to them whether or not they wear it. Or even if they accept it. It's a beauty. I gave my daughter the crown necklace, and she gave me a funny look and said "I don't really want a crown necklace. I'd rather have a rock monster!" Thus the Lego aisle.
Jesus, Say that Again, You have crowned me with your glory. You are so good!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The School Supplies

My Children and I hit the road again early this morning. I had high hopes of beating the crowds and getting all their school supplies and uniforms neatly tucked away in shopping bags before noon. I'm not sure what world I was living in, but it wasn't the real one.
We made it to the school to register my daughter, because that's still one mundane task I had not yet conquered this summer. While we were there, the office manager offered to show us around the school so we were able to see the art room, the pottery room, and all the classrooms, It was pretty cool.
By the time we made it to the store it was 11:00, and I knew my hopes of being home by noon were toast. The kids waded through piles of polo shirts of every color trying to decide what colors they wanted to wear all year long. Little grumbles muffled under their breath because they were not excited about the idea of uniforms at school.
As we shuffled down the aisle with school supplies, I found myself feeling dizzy with all the choices. Too much stuff and hardly aware of where to start, the crayons, the rulers, the paper? Whatever happened to simplicity? Why do only the boys have to take wipes to school and not the girls? Where am I going to find this particular brand of watercolors? And, do they sell healthy snacks?
"What's my first day in heaven going to be like?" I wonder if it will feel anything like my daughter when she goes to first grade? :) I know, it sounds kinda silly, but will I know what I'm doing, where anything is? Will I feel like a little kid that is just exploring all around for the first time and has a ton of stuff to learn? Will I be checking out my new supplies? Will I just be in total awe of Jesus that I won't be able to leave His presence, and I'll just be hanging out at His throne, watching, all the time. Whispering is exclamations my joys and dancing in delight at the celebration in my heart. "I've arrived! I am finished, He has supplied me every color of His heart, look at life, I am here, He is here, Yippee!!"
I know that heaven will not be like buying school supplies. It'll be better. I know that sitting at the feet of Jesus is all that I need. He got me through the aisles today, and my kids have their stuff, almost all of it. Life is full of supplies, but only Jesus can give us the supplies we really need.
Say That Again Jesus, You will supply me with the needs of my heart, You will restore my soul and give me rest, You are good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Fair

My kids and I went to the fair today. A friend gave us free tickets. We saw the rabbits, the sheep, the horses, and the goats. My kids really wanted to ride the rides, so my daughter rode the motorcycle and a car. They liked the slide. We ate sno cones, cotton candy, and a caramel apple. It was hot outside and we were getting tired by the end of our day. They found the fire truck to be only mildly exciting, and the garden building was incredibly boring! There was no way I could get them in to look at quilts.
By the time we left the fair, we were ready to blast the air conditioner on full high and head for home and another snack. I was thankful that Jesus had given my brain a little reprieve from a morning meeting that I had found to be a little regretful. It was one of those situations where I wonder why there can't be more celebration and less sadness? Why does someone look at what I see as a calling and say it's sad? odd? Or, even that God doesn't work that way? It would be like me telling my children at the fair that when they go on the slide they won't actually come down, but they'll go up--how odd. The slide doesn't work that way.
Or, my children are having such a great time at the fair and they are celebrating their time, but it's not a celebration, really, it's sad. and disappointing. How odd that God would work this way in their lives, isn't it?
How often do I put a damper on someone else's celebration? How often do I tell someone that God doesn't really work that way? Who am I to say how God works? He can work in another person's life anyway that He desires, and He will! How often do I try to manipulate or control someone else's choices by thinking I know all the answers?
Jesus! I am humbled before you! I just want to celebrate you today and the calling you bring to others. Create in me a belief that is powerful and real. And, do not allow me to put you or anyone else in a box, not now or ever. Shatter judgments and false beliefs.
Say That Again, Jesus, You will work Your way, You will celebrate, You will be powerful and live big.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Hair Day

My son, daughter, and I had our hair done yesterday. It took forever, at least according to my son. I have a friend that does our hair at her house, and she is very gracious to take us in and let my kids hang out on her couch while she highlights my hair and scissors her way through the curls.
My son was a little disappointed when she was unable to cut his hair "longer". He's going for the surfer look.
My daughter was just happy to get something short and sweet that requires little effort when she jumps out of bed in the mornings.
They had a good time teasing me, calling me tin head with all the foils on my hair! Yeah, it was pretty funny.
My kids were good sports for over three hours, and when we were done they were ready to go shopping for Lego in hopes of being rewarded for their incredible patience through the hair ordeal. We headed to a nearby store, but the Lego aisle was nearly empty, apparently all the kids are buying Lego these days. So, we went to another store, but by then my patience was beginning to wear a little thin. I was tired, I was hungry, it had been a long day. And, I was just getting ready to voice my opinion when God reminded me that I'm actually an adult, not a child! And, my children had been very patient all morning while I had been getting my hair done, the least I could do was wait while they pick out some Lego!
This morning I read Ephesians 2, and I love the part that says "God didn't lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ."
I'm so thankful He didn't lose His temper and do away with me or any of us! And, I know that everyday I need Him to be deeply rooted within me to enable me to do the same with others. So, that I have the patience to stand in the Lego aisle, the love to love the unlovable, the eyes to see those that need help, the ability to help the wounded, the ability to reach out to the needy.
Precious Jesus, Say that Again to me and to all that will have ears to hear, You have embraced me with immense mercy and taken my sin-dead life and made me alive in YOU. Thank you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Celebration

We celebrated our daughter-in law's birthday yesterday. It so happens that we seem to celebrate in the same way every year, we float down the river, and then go out to eat. It was a lot of fun. We started the morning around ten, divided into two cars. Nine of us were able to make the day adventure.
We arrived at the river two hours later and pumped up the tubes, tied them all together, loaded the cooler, and off we went. The water was freezing, and naturally, there were several comments on that.
The ride down the river was full of adventure from laughter, to moments of silence, swimming, discussions, falling off tubes, getting stuck on rocks in shallow water, admiring the scenery, and just enjoying the company.
At the end of the journey we were all very tired. We met for dinner, and I marveled at the gift of family. I rejoiced at the beauty of my daughter in-law, for she truly is a celebration. She loves my son, and that is something to celebrate. She loves Jesus, another celebration, and she loves our family! So, she is a celebration to our family and a blessed gift.
This morning I read in Psalms 139:23-24, "Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for yourself whether I've done anything wrong--then guide me on the road to eternal life.
As I floated down the river yesterday, I did a little looking at my life, and a little talking to God as well. It's hard not too when I have all my children right there floating in front of me! It would've been hard to convince me twenty years ago that my three little boys would be men someday, and they would all have wives and I'd be floating down a river with them!!! And, to add to that I'd have two more, a six year old and a nine year old!
Yes, my boys are men and they sometimes cause me to examine my life, and I bring it to God, and God says: "Bethany, you are loved! You are celebrated, look at this beautiful family I have blessed you with! These beautiful daughters!" He has turned so much darkness into light. He has raised me up from a pit and rewarded my perseverance. He has blessed my husband and my children with love and grace.
Jesus, Say That Again! You will examine me, test me, forgive me, and bless me. You are Good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Slumber Party

Last night my girl friends and I had a slumber party. Its the first time I've been to a slumber party, and I had a really nice time. I felt very loved that my friends took the time out of their busy lives to come spend the night at my house. We sat around the fire pit. We played with the hula hoop. We laughed. We ate. We roasted marsh mellows. We watched a movie. We told stories. To me, I moved a little closer in relationship with each of my friends, because I had time with them. I learned that each one of them is willing to invest in me and in one another, and to me that builds trust. To me that builds love, hope, and a future for more time together. To me, showing up is everything. Each of them are crowned Princesses shining with His light!
We stayed up late into the night and talked. We laughed. And, we were serious too. We gave the word "annoyance" a color, because it needed one. We talked about Macaroni necklaces, and someone called me out on being catty. She was right. It was the macaroni, I had to stop!
I awoke this morning and went to talk to Jesus. There were a few things I needed to settle with Him! I was so thrilled with my friends and the slumber party, and so blessed with all He has brought into my life. Yet, I was still feeling the color of olive green because of some old feelings of rejection that were trying to stir inside of me.
Jesus continues to remind me to rest in His heart and to focus on Him. He reminds to look at what I have, the beauty of the friends that surround me and love me. And, they certainly do! He has promised a revival around me, renewal around me, and power in His Spirit. He lead me to Luke 9-"-He commissioned them to preach the news of God's kingdom and heal the sick."
He has commissioned me to speak, and that is what I will do. He has surrounded me with friends to build me up not tear me down and I will praise Him for that. So, Friends, move forward with your crowns of glory and share Jesus with others, build them up, bring them in, love them, and let there be a revival in our land!
Jesus, Say That Again to ALL of us, there will be a revival in the land, and it starts with slumber parties, friends, real relationships, love. It's about Your Power, Jesus!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Mindreader

I was able to meet with a friend for coffee yesterday we were going over some past events and she was recounting how things looked from her point of view and what she thought I must have been thinking. It took me back to previous times with other people who have "watched" me and decided that I am thinking something or feeling something that I am not. We talked about it and worked it out and I appreciated that we could do that. But, I took note again to pay attention at how often I do the same thing. And, if I do, STOP. It's not okay.
Do I always have to be smiling and cheery? Isn't it okay to be quiet sometimes and not be pegged as "withdrawn"? Maybe I just don't have anything to say. Or, possibly I am just listening, or I'm tired? Is it okay to be alone sometimes, or do I always have to be with people?Does this make me depressed?
I have to be careful how I judge the actions of others. It is not my job to determine what is going on in their mind. It is my job to focus on Christ and how I can serve others!
In my time with Jesus this morning He sent me to Colossians 2. I love this verse "You received Christ Jesus, the Master now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. Youre well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith."
Ah, deeply rooted! Say That Again Jesus, I am deeply rooted IN YOU!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Home Group

 When I was growing up I had three big brothers and a mom. My brothers were several years older than me. My two oldest brothers were constantly in trouble. Drugs, alcohol, jail, prison. My mother was married several times and she ended up divorced and single by the time I was seven. She never remarried. She worked hard at cleaning houses, then moved up to a cook in a restaurant. Life was not easy for us, not ever.
Life now, is very different. I have my husband and my children that I see daily and love so much. God has blessed me with a beautiful family.  And, I have my home group, this is my study group within my church. These are my friends that we meet with every week. We eat dinner with them and we study God's word with them, I love them like family. I connect with them. Soon, we will be parting ways, and I will be finding that hard. We have laughed together, prayed together, cried together. We have had many meals together. These are the friends that have watched me learn to cook, they have eaten every morsel of food I have put on the table, good and bad. They have showed up. They have loved me. These are the friends that read my posts, they encourage me, they laugh with me, they help me. I love them because they tease me, they play twister with me, they talk to me, they steal my chair and buy me peace belts. I love them because they eat my fudge bars and bring me honey and throw away my trash. I love them because they buy me coffee and meet me every week at Starbucks. Yes, I love my home group because they love my God and I know they will be in His Kingdom with me and we will be an eternal family forever.
Jesus, Say That Again to me, you have blessed me with a chosen family my home group, so that I can know how much I am loved by You. Thank you dear Jesus!

The Skitishnish

Yesterday morning I went to the bathroom sink to wash my hands and there was a giant brown spider in the sink. When I turned on the water he became very skittish, and began to skamper away as quick as he could. The problem is, I hate spiders and the quicker he was, the jumpier I became. Next problem? He was too fat to fit down the drain. I didn't want to touch him, so I left him there, with the water on him. I know, it wasn't very nice of me. Please understand, I really don't like spiders.
Even at the early hour, I thought I'd check to see if my husband was awake. He was, and he was gracious enough to get out of bed and come all the way down stairs and get the spider out of the sink for me. What a guy! It felt better to me.
I could understand the spiders skittish feeling, I've felt that way the last couple weeks. A little more so today. The reason? My story was recently published and just knowing that a lot of people might be reading it caused me to feel skittish. Kinda like the spider, he was feeling a little exposed, I think. And, he tried to run to safety, but there was no way out of the sink. Now, for me, I've written down some secrets and there's no way out of the magazine! It's been published, printed, sent, and in the homes of lots of people. Oh boy! I do feel skittish.
Now I really get the chance to walk my talk. Jesus has kept me, pulled through for me. Kept His eye on me. This morning as I was praying He brought Jude to mind again. I've read Jude many times.But, I guess He continues to bring it to mind because I need to be constantly reminded that I am called and that I am kept by Jesus Christ. I need to be reminded that Mercy, peace and love is mine in abundance!
So, Jesus, Say That Again to me. You have and will keep me today and always even when I feel skittish. You have blessed me with mercy, peace and love,and this is a good day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Obligation

My summer has been very busy, which means my kids have been busy. I have had to leave the house fairly often to run errands or go to my office and they have had to come with me. This has been the big summer complaint. They think I should coordinate my schedule with their friends so I am always home at the exact time as their friends, that way they can all get in the optimal play time.
Having heard their frustration all summer long, I was beginning to feel somewhat of an obligation to stay home a little more. After all, it is summer and I do want them to have some summer fun. So, I made an effort to stay home to consolidate my errands yesterday and go out for a minimal amount of time, consequently we were home the majority of the day. They got in a lot of play time. And, I like being at home too.
I began to think about my obligation to God, what is it? If He has set me free, do I have an obligation? Am I free to do whatever I want? My freedom is IN Christ, He is the one that has set me free, so it is to Him I am obligated.
I set my kids free to play all day in the neighborhood, that didn't mean they could run up the hill and play on the interstate. They had to do the right thing, honor me, and obey.
God has given me freedom, in that freedom I am obligated in every area of my life to honor Him. I am a slave of righteousness, obligated to live a holy life, honoring my Master.
Say That Again, Jesus, You have freed me from the bondage of sin so that I can live righteously, something I could not do when I was in bondage to sin.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Bee Sting

While visiting my brother in law in Canada our daughter  was stung by a bee. She was with my husband looking for treasure and a bee got stuck in her hair. She was trying to get it out, and in the process it stung her on the eyelid, twice. She was not happy, and it hurt. The pain didn't last too long, but the next day when she woke up, her eye was swollen shut. It stayed swollen shut for three days, and then it turned black and blue. Just as her eye was healing up, she got stung again on the back of her leg. Now, her leg is swollen, twice the size as it should be. Darn bee.
We went swimming. My son threw the key to the gate over the pool and it went in the bushes behind my husband and I. I stood on a chair to try to peer down into the bushes hoping to find the key, instead my hand found a bee. Ouch, he stung me. We had some ointment in the truck for bee sting so I put that on my hand, but the pain was shooting up my arm and I was sick, nauseated. Now it was my turn to not be happy! Darn bee.
My hand is normal today, no swelling, no pain. But, I am reminded again how quickly the enemy can attack. Be on guard!  Jesus is my safeguard. He is my power, His Spirit soars within me, the force of the wind blows the enemy away and protects me and my family. Through Him I have all authority over the enemy. Through His Power I am free. The enemy stings, and I begin to swell in bondage. Thankfully, I have the healing hand of Jesus.
Jesus, Say That Again, You are my Rear guard. You build a Hedge around me to protect me. You are my Safety. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Crazy Dog

We took our dog with us to the river yesterday. She did not have a good time. She encountered a lot of black flies, and they were constantly landing on her and biting her. She was frantically trying to catch them and eat them before they landed on her, but she was unable to keep up with them. They were driving her crazy. She was so frantic she was unable to rest. She could not drink, she could not eat, she could not sit still. She was behaving like a crazy dog. I sprayed her with bug spray, and it did seem to help a little, but but then, she was convinced that the flies were there even if they weren't and she would nip at herself anyway. She would run in circles trying to kill imaginary flies, or jump in the air hoping to catch a fly, just in case. Her eyes were as big as saucers, and she was exhausted.  I have decided that my dog is not a country dog, she belongs in the city on the couch or the bed, far away from flies.
This is like the Enemy, He attacks at all sides. If I allow him too, He will exhaust me. I will become frantic in my efforts to kill him, never stopping to rest, or drink. I will never be able to keep up, and I will become a crazy women if I attempt to overcome on my own. I will run around in circles in an imaginary effort of making my way to heaven, when in reality I'm stagnant with craziness. As I'm circling around in my bondage, Jesus has the key to unlock me. He knows how to break the circle, get me out of the crazy circle, give me rest, show me how to get away from all the pesky flies! It's called surrender. In His grace and His love, I can surrender to Him and I can grow.
My dog found relief as the evening air cooled and she was able to rest in our truck. It was good. She was relieved to sleep and not have to fight the flies. She surrendered herself to sleep, and she didn't mind that we went off to play without her. She trusted that we would be back and that we knew what was best for her.  She didn't feel crazy anymore. It had been a long hard day for her.
Fighting the enemy on my own is long and hard. Jesus does it better.  In His word, He promises me that He will fight for me.  He will fight for me! I have often had to remind myself of that.
Jesus, Say that again to me, You will fight for me today, and tomorrow, thank you!

The River Float

We spent the day with friends on the river yesterday. It was a great day. Most of our friends were camping in their trailers or tents. We just drove up for the day. It was a beautiful drive. When we arrived, my friend offered the kids cinnamon rolls and me coffee. It was relaxing, friendly, and fun.
After lunch, we all gathered together, about 15 of us and shuttled up the road with our tubes so we could float down the river. Another exciting adventure in our summer. My husband tied our son and daughters tubes to ours and then we were off. We started off pretty fast and headed for the brush right away, naturally, I had to duck otherwise I would have lost my hat, or my head. There were branches sticking out everywhere and we were going at a good pace, it was fun. Our six year old daughter was cheering us on, and it felt like a good start. It was a good start, it slowed down eventually  and the water deepened. Our kids jumped off their tubes to swim and explore the water, it was cold. Further down the river, it became shallow again and we found ourselves stuck on rocks, needing to lift ourselves up off our tubes to enable the flow of water under the tube and get ourselves going. Still further down, my husband and two children were lodged on one side of a large log, while I was stuck on the other side, unable to get under the log and continue the journey down the river.
Eventually, we did get to our campsite, where  friends that did not float were waiting. They were getting worried because it took us longer than they had anticipated. And, it was a long float, so they were happy to see us, and we were happy to be there!
Many times on our float God reminded me of how the journey down has been so much like my walk with Him. I've gone fast at times, not bothering to wait for Him, and in the process I get all scratched up and I loose my head completely! At some point I come to my senses and slow down, ready to listen and ponder where I've been, what He is saying and where He wants me to go and do. Other times, I might decide to jump in the deep end all alone and go exploring on my own, thinking I've got it all covered, but suddenly I find myself in shallow waters and I'm hitting the rocks and getting bruised and cut, I need a life line!  I've got to be held up  and let the water flow beneath me so I can go again. I can't do it on my own. Then, I start going, I'm connected with my family, its all going great, and what do I do? I get  stuck on the other side of a log because maybe I'm too busy looking at myself or something other than Jesus. I can't get anywhere, can't see anything, I'm just stuck. I need help! It takes prayer, it takes Jesus, it takes others to get me on the other side of the log and running smoothly again.
Finally, I can stay connected to my Jesus on a regular basis, and to my family, the river is flowing, I'm praying, I can see my family and friends waiting for me. Yes! God is good!
Jesus, Say That Again, You are my River of Life, and You are guiding the tube that I am riding.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The New Normal

I'm still telling God how amazed I am that He does what He says He's going to do! I think He is kinda getting a chuckle over this, because of course God is going to do what He says He is going to do, after all, He is God. Why do I find this so amazing? When I tell my kids that I will do something, I do it, and it's not that amazing. It's just expected. And, actually, if they seem surprised it's a little offensive. Why would they be surprised that I would do what I told them I would do? Naturally, I'm going to keep my word to my own children. Even more so with God, right?  But, still here I am feeling this sense of amazement when I realize that He heard me, He actually followed through, He has kept His word to ME! My little life means something to Him.
This morning as I'm processing all of this God told me to read Acts 3. It's about Peter and John going to the Temple to pray. They see a man that is crippled and wants money. Peter tells him that he doesn't have any money but he does have something better and commands him in the name on Jesus to get up and walk! The man gets up and walks! Just like that! Of course all the people are totally amazed and this is what Peter says to them: "Oh Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus." He was saying to them "Guys, this is Jesus, this is what He does, He is power and He heals through the Father. This should not surprise any of you!"
So to me He is saying this too. "Bethany, I am with you everyday. We are intimately involved, tight. We talk all the time. I listen, you listen. I answer. This is the new normal. You do not need to be surprised that I do amazing things in your life and heart. The power of my spirit resides within you."
As I continued on in Acts 3, the last verse reads like, this "God, having raised up His Son, sent Him to bless you as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways." I'm back to amazing! God loves each one of us so much that He patiently waits, one by one, for us turn from our evil ways, and then He blesses us. Those blessings are amazing, and yet to Him they are normal.
Say That Again, Jesus, continue to bring me into a new normal where your blessings, your love, your gifts, are what I know you will just give to me because you have said they are mine, and you are my beloved Father!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Captured

My son and daughter were on our bed this morning playing with the Ipad and the Iphone. They were doing great, until my daughter decided that she needed to take a peek at what my son was doing. So, she scooted a little closer to him, then plopped her head on his lap. He couldn't see what he was doing, only her big head! "MOVE" he yelled. She just scooted closer in so she could get a better view of the ipad. "Get away from me, I'm loosing my race!" he wailed. She lifted her head, which was of no help and began to cry. He pushed her arm away, and she cried even louder. He held on to her holding her captive. "Mom, she won't leave me alone!" And, so the wailing from both mouths pierced the room.
Yeah, well, the scene wasn't pretty at all by the time I walked in. I removed the ipad. Removed the iphone. Sent them each to their rooms to be held captive there for awhile, took a big deep breath, and went back to my hair.
It got me thinking again about a thought I've been having a lot the past few days. It's about being captured in the Hands of God. When I allow myself to be captured in His hands, I am then FREE! It is there that I can celebrate, dance, be at peace, pray, love, cry, hope, sing, everything, all in the hands of God. Captured. My name is engraved in the the palm of His Hand, so naturally it is a great place to be.
I use to look at the word "captured" as more of a negative word, but now I see it as positive. Because it is all about my God and what I can do for Him. He is keeping me, holding me, and guarding me. Who wouldn't want to be captured?
Jesus, Say That Again! You Have captured me in Your Hands, and I am free. I am elated, celebrating and dancing, humbly before You!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The God

We came together last night with our friends for dinner. It was fun. It had seemed like forever and another forever since we had all been together, and I really was missing my friends.  These are the friends I see every week! We eat together, joke together, pray. I love them, and it's a joy to have each of them in my life.  I mean, seriously, they eat my cooking, and they always tell me that it's good. They also eat my fudge bars, which is another matter. My friends, we talk during the week, we call each other for help and prayer, we see each other at church, we play games together, we journey. This is what I like.
We are doing a study that is delving into the identity of who we are IN Jesus. I think that is something I can never learn enough of. I am His child, beloved, kept, treasured, and captured! He is my friend and He wants to have dinner with me every night, He wants to walk with me everyday and journey with me, just as I do with my friends. Intimacy on the deepest level.
As I prayed and wrote in my journal this morning, God led me to Psalms 18. It is packed with inspiration!  It starts out by saying "God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. "  A couple lines down, "safe and saved".
My favorite lines in all of the chapter are these: "God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start."
My life has been in many pieces before, and He is the one that made it complete, that is how He works. He puts puzzles together. He is the master mind behind all things! He is so very good, all the time.
He can solve all things.
Jesus, today, right now Say That Again to me so I won't ever forget. It is You that heals. It is You that does all things, not me. You accept me as I run to You . Thank You.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Answer

There have been times in my life when I have had to make some pretty major decisions and it has been agonizing. But, this time, it has been the opposite. God has given both my husband and I an awesome peace, and I have known that this is exactly what God wants us to do. I have known it is time to go after the calling He has upon my life, time to pursue!
So, today, I received an email, inviting me to speak, all the way across the country. This is exactly the calling God has for me! The is confirmation for me, this is the path He has been telling me to walk. Its so clear and so amazing, I had goose bumps.
I find it amazing that I am still amazed at how amazing God is! Of course He is amazing, He's God! Of course He does what He says He's going to do, He's God! Of course He keeps His promises to me, He's God! Why do I find this so amazing--still? Why, do I get goose bumps? I am His child, of course He is going to do these things for me, right?
He has told me for years now that I would speak of how he has brought me out of darkness into the light, and yet here I am, shaking my head saying "wow, I just can't believe this is happening so fast!"
Jesus, thank you for being so very kind to me! Jesus, thank you for loving me and being tender with me, for having a forgiving heart towards my doubt. Thank you Jesus, for being so patient with me. Say That Again, loving Jesus. "Bethany, you will speak for me and tell others of how I have brought you out of darkness into the light!"
What is He telling you today?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Radical Journey

Many times in my prayer time with God it feels like He is asking me to go on a radical journey with Him. It feels like He is saying, "Bethany, just step on that path even though you don't know where it goes or how it ends, just go, have a radical faith in Me!" And, then He stands behind me and gently prods me along. "Go ahead" He says, "My power is within you, and this is my will for you."
To me, this is what I call a radical, crazy, captured, faith journey! The outcome? Heaven.  Here on earth, I don't know, it could be anything, and it will more than likely involve pain. But, the cool, and radical thing about all of this is that with the pain there is peace. With the crazy moves that the world sees, it makes total sense in God's eyes. When I am captured in God's hands, I am FREE!  When I live by faith, then I am really living God's way, not my way. And, it's good, because He is good.
So, with all my big decisions lately and changes, I am on yet another radical journey. It feels good to me to know that God knows how it's all going to turn out and that He has a plan. I know what He wants me to do, but I don't know how He's going to get me there. That is the radical part. I'm waiting, watching, praying, letting Him continually capture me everyday, and living in faith.
And, the grape salad from yesterday? It was great. We had a picky eater who wasn't sure she wanted to try it. I assured her that it was especially made for picky eaters, so she took a spoonful,  and amazingly enough, she loved it! She googled the recipe, and took home leftovers. See? God, gives us so many blessings, and when we, when I, step out in faith and taste what He has given me, I see that it is very good!
Say That Again, Jesus, Your radical Journey for my life is very good!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Grape Salad

I just made grape salad. I know, if you haven't had it before, it may not sound very good. I kinda stuck up my nose at the sound of it when my sister in law told me about it last week. But, at the same time, it got my attention because she said that it was the one thing that all picky eaters will eat! Wow, that is a huge claim in my book. We have some picky eaters in our house, I won't name them, but they know who they are :-) So, now I'm very curious if my grape salad will work on the picky eaters in our house? It's very easy to make: red grapes, green grapes, sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, brown sugar and pecans. That's it. chill, eat. I tasted it, and she's right, it's very good.
We are having friends over tonight for a barbecue and I will serve them grape salad with their burgers! I hope they think it's as good as I do. Maybe they are picky eaters and my grape salad will pull through to be an evening meal saver.
It's like me and my walk with Jesus. Sometimes I get picky and I want Him to cater to ME. I want Him to make me grape salad because the rest of the meal just isn't good enough anymore. I want Him to bless me extra fine, and I want Him to walk the extra mile. I want Him to change everything, because I'm not satisfied. I'm picky.
But, in reality, a grape is a grape and Jesus isn't always going to sugar coat for me just because I'm a picky eater. He's not going to add all the yummy toppings when I complain that things are too plain and I want more. Nope, He might ask me to try the grape and be thankful for the way it tastes. He might point out to me the blessings of all that I already have and the joy of living IN Him right where I am. He just might take the grapes that I have away for a little while, since I don't like them anyway.
I don't know, but I do know that grape salad is something to really be thankful for! Life is something to cheer about, and I want Jesus to Say That Again to me loud and clear! Jesus keep reminding me how great grape salad is and how blessed I am to have it, and when I start feeling picky, be louder!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Long Way Home

My husband loves to follow his GPS. In fact, when he has one around he sets it and follows  it from our house to his office, just because he can. I'm not sure what his fascination is with his GPS, but I know he has it. On our trip to Canada, he loved using it. On the way home, his beloved GPS had a little malfunction in direction and took us the long way home. The route was lovely, very scenic, but long. The drive home was already 9 hours, so finding out that the GPS had added some time to our drive was not exactly good news, but what is one to do? I couldn't really argue with the GPS! What's done is done, and we were well on our way.
This is much like life. I sometimes go the long way. God is standing there with His arms open wide, talking to me telling me exactly what He wants me to do, but somehow I redirect myself. I go the scenic route. I take several detours. I listen to other directions rather than His.  I become malfunctioned. What am I to do? It's not good news at all! How can I get back on track?
I have known for a long time what God wants me to do, but I have also felt like I've been trying to fit His calling into a small box. He's been standing outside the box talking to me, calling to me, "Bethany, that box is too small, your calling won't fit in there."  I could hear Him, but I still had to take the long road.
Jesus, thank you for being so patient with me. Thank you for all that you say to me. Please, Say That Again!

The King

I've been reading a series of books, The Chronicles of the Kings, by Lynn Austin. It's about the old testament kings in the Bible. My husband has read all of these stories to our children out of the Bible, and they have been very interesting.  But, I have to say, Lynn brings a whole new level of color to these characters. She has had me on the edge of my seat many times and had me in tears. She has also brought me back to my Bible to look up the stories again for reference.
Her main focus has been King Hezekiah, he entered his reign with most of his nation worshiping idols. Evil was prominent, and he had no idea where to turn or what to do. He grew up with an evil father, the king, that sacrificed his own children, to evil gods.
Hezekiah, turned to God, He destroyed all the idols and sought God's will and it says in the Bible that there was no king like Hezekiah before him or after. God truly blessed him for seeking to lead his nation in the will of the Father.
As I have traveled through these books, I have thought of my own life and my own nation. How often do I choose an idol over my God? How often do I choose family over God? friendship over God? Myself over God? Ministry over God? Anytime I put something or someone above my God, I have made them an idol in my life! And, what about the nation I live in? Is this a christian nation? Or do we just say it is? Do we as a nation allow idols in high places? Are we teaching our children to worship idols rather than worship God?
What about my church? When I go to church, do I leave there having learned to truly worship my God or the music? Or maybe the pastor, or the service? Why am there? Is it to surrender my all and to serve others? Or to be filled?
God has commanded me to have no other God's before Him. Will He be able to say of me that there was no one like Bethany before me or after?
Jesus, Say That Again, You ask of me my worship. You are here to accept me, even though I am not worthy of You. You ask me to give my all, so You can say " well done, Bethany"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The American Nightmare

The big gorgeous house. Nice luxury cars. At least two vacations to the tropics. A plump retirement fund. The perfect job. Nice clothes, lovely shoes, purses. Oh, and well behaved children. All Americans know that if they put their mind to it, they can accomplish this and so much more. We are determined! I am determined. I have always liked a good challenge. Just give me a competition, and I'm in the game! And so the nightmare begins.
As I continue to look at the life of Jesus, it is because of Him the American dream is an American nightmare. He is asking me to give it all to Him, not gather it all for myself. He is asking me to share, not horde it all up. He is asking me to rely on Him to meet my needs, not to rely on myself. He tells me that I will not grow weary if I am resting IN the power of HIS Spirit. But, if I am working in my own strength, I will certainly grow weary.
My American Dream? It is Jesus and Him alone. Anything else is a nightmare.
Say That Again, Jesus, You, Your power, and nothing else!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Witness

One of my favorite past times is people watching. It has occurred to me that other people like to people watch as well, and sometimes they watch me! That changes everything, suddenly people watching isn't that fun anymore.  It was recently pointed out to me that I was being "watched" in several different situations, and God simply reminded me to remember two things. First, I am always to be His Witness, and what people see does not necessarily match up with what is happening. Perception is not reality.
I read this morning in Isaiah 43:10, "You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen,  So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me."
Every morning for months now God has reminded me to focus on Him. Life is about Him, keep my eyes on Him. The only way for me to be a witness for Him is to focus on Him. If my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my entire life is focused on Him, and only Him, then I will reflect Him. It will be okay that people are watching me. And, there will be times when assumptions are made and they will be wrong, but Jesus always sets things right.  There will be times when perceptions do not match reality, but Jesus it my Defender, I don't have to deal with it, He will. I just have to focus on my Savior and the calling He has for me, that all.
Jesus, Say That Again, You have chosen me to be a witness for You. You have asked me to focus on You. You have asked me to love you, to be in relationship with You. Thank you for inviting me!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Expectation

Today is our last day at the lake. I expect to have a great day. We have a long drive home. I expect that it will go well. My family is sailing on the lake right now, I expect that they will have fun and be safe and return to me. I have other expectations in life, I expect things from myself, and I find myself expecting things from my friends. I expect things from my family too. What about God? What are my expectations of Him? Should I have any? Does God expect something from me?
Recently, I was at an event where I was under the impression that there were no expectations of me. It was just an easy relaxing time, a time to be with God and others. I was wrong. I did not meet the expectations, I did not qualify.
How often do I expect something of God when He just wants to be with me? He wants relationship, but I'm looking for miracles, blessings, or just a different way? How often do I expect this from my friends, when it would be far more satisfying to just rest in the relationship? And, what about my family? I want them to do something? Give me something? Be somewhere? Expectations....
Jesus, take my expectations and give me relationships. Jesus, Say That Again to me so I hear it loud and clear. You want to be with me in relationship because You love me!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Distraction

Our retreat to the lake has been much needed. I have done a lot of soul searching while here. I have prayed. I have thought. I have napped. I have soaked in the sun. I have had good wine. I have had long sails on the lake. I have journal ed. I have enjoyed good food, and good conversation.  Above it all, God has brought clarity more every day to me, I have been distracted!
I have known for a long time the calling on my life. He wants me to speak. He wants me to speak into the lives of women, to tell of the way He has brought me from darkness into light. He wants me to tell my story, to speak of His splendor and His beauty.  He does not want me to be quiet anymore!
I have not always been clear on what that looks like! So, I've explored by teaching classes, helping with women's breakfast's, asking God about other positions.  I've looked at this, I've looked at that, but I need to be right here, where I am. God wants me to focus on Him, He has a great plan for me, and that plan is for me to speak for Him. It is not a plan to be in Women's Ministries. It is not a plan to teach classes. It is not a plan to teach lots of classes. It is a plan to speak for Him and to reflect His image. He told this to me years ago, and His plan does not change. I am the one that wandered around, exploring, asking, thinking, wondering, being silly, entering into the battle.  He was there waiting for me, arms open, smiling, telling me the entire time that His purpose for me is to speak.
Jesus, I hear you. But, I'm asking you to Say That Again. And, to keep on. Say That Again, Jesus, because I need You to remind me that your calling is irrevocable. You have blessed me with a gift, I am putty in your hands, mold me Jesus, use me, speak through me!

The Small Town

I went into town with my sister in-law today and we had a great time. She showed me the house she grew up in, the school she went to. She showed me the mall, the pharmacy, and various places of interest. She told me that there was a grocery store in town that locals could shop at and then the owner would delivery all their groceries to them right to the door! This is something I did not know about small towns. She loved growing up here, she's been here all her life, her children have been raised in this area, her roots are here. She knows all the people in the town, this is home.
This is how God wants me to feel about His home. This how He wants me to feel about His Body.  He wants me to know His people, to be comfortable, and feel deeply rooted wherever I go.  He wants me to take my friends and show them around with interest and love. He wants me grow my family up In Him, lift my friends up, build them up In Him, enable them to feel at home. Wherever I am, I am at home IN Him, deeply rooted, loving Him and loving others. Supporting the calling and gifting of others, reaching out to Jesus, delivering the message of Who He Is, celebrating the Kingdom of unity. Yes!
Say That Again to me Jesus, my small town is In you today, I will be deeply rooted IN You and You will enable me to build up Your Body and live wildly and boldly IN You today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Lake

We are visiting my brother and sister in-law at their lake cabin. We arrived yesterday after a nine hour drive through the Canadian prairie. From what I saw of the drive it was lovely, but most of the time my nose was in a book; it was a good book!
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a tour of the wonderful cabin, the beautiful lake, all the fun lake toys, and the lawn chairs.  It wasn't long before I was sitting again by the lake in a lawn chair with a nice drink watching my children play, my husband sail,and visiting with my sister in-law.
I've been in need of a rest for awhile now, more than just a day or two. As I sat by the lake enjoying the sun and the soft breeze I could hear God gently say "rest here."
I thought of Psalms 23, "You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction." verse 2.
God, Say That Again to me. Bring me to a resting place where my body can physically rest. Remind me that I can always rest my heart IN you. I love you, Jesus.