Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The King's Heart...

For the so many men in this world who struggle to believe that they are able to fulfill their calling as fathers, husbands, providers of the family, leaders, etc. and haven't been able to believe that God sees them as "kings" in His eyes, this is for you...

The Heart Of A King

It is a matter of the heart, my brothers. There are many offices a man might fulfill as a king - father of a household, manager of a department, pastor of a church, coach of a team, prime minister of a nation - but the heart required is the same. "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases" (Prov 21:1). The passage is often used to explain the sovereignty of God, in that he can do with a man whatever he well pleases. Certainly, God is that sovereign. But I don't think that's the spirit of this passage. God rarely forces a man to do something against his will, because he would far and above prefer that he didn't have to, that the man wills to do the will of God. "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). What God is after is a man so yielded to him, so completely surrendered, that his heart is easily moved by the Spirit of God to the purposes of God.
That kind of heart makes for a good king.
Watch how Moses leads Israel out of bondage, and guides them to the Promised Land. Notice how every chapter telling the story of the Exodus begins, from chapter six to chapter fourteen: "Then the Lord said to Moses?" and the rest of the chapter is Moses doing what God told him to do. Is this how the men you know run their corporations, their churches, their families? I'm stunned by how little daily guidance Christian men seek from God. They have a good idea, and they just go do it. Not the great kings. Look at David. "In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. 'Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?' he asked. The Lord said, 'Go up.' David asked, 'Where shall I go?' 'To Hebron,' the Lord answered. So David went up there?" (2 Samuel 2:1-2). In his heart, and in his daily practice, David is a man yielded to God. He is called, may I remind you, a man after God's own heart.
This is the way Jesus lived. "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say" (John 12:49-50). Jesus could have asserted his own will; he certainly had the power to do so, and the talent, and we might add he also could be trusted to do so. But no - he was yielded to the Father, in all things. Regardless of age, position, or natural abilities, a man is only ready to become a King when his heart is in the right place. Meaning, yielded to God in all things.

(Fathered by God )
John Eldredge

Monday, September 20, 2010

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

I've been putting off updating this because truthfully I haven't really known what I want to say. But maybe as I write, it will come together.
I'm sure many who are reading this have already heard that we did have a miscarriage after all. I opted to have a D&C on Wednesday of last week after the doctor finally came to the conclusion that what I had was a missed miscarriage. Sometime over the course of the month, the baby stopped developing even before there was a heartbeat, but my body just hadn't figured it out. So, to not prolong the already 3 weeks of agony, I wanted to move the "miscarriage" process along as quick as possible, therefore for opted the surgery.
My recovery emotionally and phyically was amazingly easy and quick. And truthfully I was just so thankful to not have the anxiety and rollercoaster of feelings anymore that I was having for 3 weeks during my pregnancy that left me sleepless, restless, and practically nonfunctional on so many levels. It was easier to know how to feel, even in sadness, than it was to not know how to feel at all. And I am experiencing a pretty big sigh of relief right now and enjoying the fact that I can actually sleep again, and think straight.
And by the Lord's hand, He also had prepared me a few days in advance for the outcome we ended up with. I knew before the doctor even said anything last week, that this pregnancy wasn't going to go on much longer. It just took me surrendering my wants and desires and accepting that God was going to do what God was going to do to find peace about it. And I truthfully didn't think I had it in me to carry on in the state that I had been in during the pregnancy much longer. Don't get me wrong, I would have done it if that was God's will. But I may have been a vegetable the whole time with the anxiety that would have come with it. But I guess we'll never know. All I know is that the 3 weeks I just endured was probably some of the hardest 3 weeks of my life! And at this point, the aftermath feels like a piece of cake comparitively.

And today, by God's grace, I am feeling thankful and at peace to know that the Lord knew exactly what I would need to endure everything during and after. And He has shown up mightily over the past month in so many ways. I can't deny that I have experienced Him probably the most through my friends, my parents, my husband, and even through people I hadn't met that were praying for me this whole time. He is so good that way.
He's also been evident through the fruit of what has come out of me despite my circumstance. I was still able to attend a party and dance with joy on Saturday night with my whole heart in the midst of what should be a time of sorrow. I was able to celebrate life and love with my prayer warrior friends on Friday night over dinner and fellowship. I even cleaned and organized my garage on Saturday for goodness sakes! Who does that after a miscarriage?
I was able to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday yesterday by making her favorite dessert and blessing her with our love and hospitality.
And last but not least, God answered a very specific prayer I prayed on Friday. I prayed that He would give me the opportunity to pay forward what many had done for me over the past month by showing sacrificial love to someone else in some way. And He answered greatly! I ended up babysitting a friends' two sweet boys all day Saturday so she could go to work when her sitter bailed at the last minute Friday night. She prayed for God to answer her prayers for a sitter Friday night and she said about 5 minutes before she was going to call into work and risk losing her job, I returned her phone call (not even knowing what she called for). Wow! Is that God or what? So I want to give an extra shout out to God for answering both our prayers so faithfully!

I do not give myself any credit for what I just shared in regards to how I am handling the miscarriage. It's kind of flooring me that I am not in a puddle of tears every day. In fact, I really haven't shed a tear since Sunday of last week before I even saw the doctor to get the final bad news. Not to say I have this great strength because of it. I think God is just giving me a break from the emotional trauma that I had faced for 3 weeks. And I'm gladly taking the break. It is all God and His faithfulness that weaves together these things within what should be a devastating and sorrowful time. He is using this circumstance to build my character, my ability to love, and mostly my ability to know Him more intimately. And I hope that time will not let this part of my life fade out as a distant memory, but that this will all become another tool that God can use for His glory for the rest of my days.

I know sorrowful days will come, as I'm sure the emotions will go up and down as I heal from all of this, but God is my constant and I trust that He will be faithful through it all as He as already been thus far.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Life

Well, after a grueling week of being tossed around emotionally by some really incompetant nurses at my OBGYN office, having tears of sorrow and loss after being told we lost the baby, then having hopes risen up again for 4 days in fear of them being squashed again while the nurses tried to figure out what the heck was going on with me, it turns out that we indeed are still having a baby..phew...and I'm still exhausted!

This has been a huge test for me of whether or not I can really still stand on what God was putting in mine and my plethera of friends' hearts about the outcome of this despite what the nurses were telling me. There was something deep inside that still wanted to believe that there was a baby still there and I held out until I got the right answer. It all came to head when I prayed desperately for God to grant wisdom to these nurses who were perplexed by some inconsistencies of the medical side of it. On big factor in this fiasco is that my doctor has been out of town this whole time so there hadn't been an actual physician overseeing my case this whole time, just a nurse practitioner...red flag! But after I had prayed for wisdom, the NP finally consulted another OBGYN in the practice on Thursday about the situation and that's when things started finally coming together and we learned that the inconsistencies were only due to lack of judgement on the NP's part in this.

We should NOT have had any ultrasounds until my hormone levels had reached 2000, but they had given me 4 prior to that which was completely unnecessary. And the NP made the wrong diagnosis Monday based on the ultrasound. So when the doctor got wind of my levels going over 2000 on Friday, lo and behold, we went in for an ultrasound again and WALA!! A BABY! They also confirmed that I am not as far along as my dates say I am, which was throwing the NP off as well. She for some reason wouldn't take that into consideration, but the doctor confirmed that I am only 5 weeks instead of 7 and everything is right where it needs to be for 5 weeks...so HALLELUJAH!! We're having a baby!!

But to be truthful, my heart is still working up to the rejoicing part. I am having shake off the emotional roller coaster that I have been through the past week. Everyone around me is rejoicing with us, but I have some things to wrestle with still for sure. I am thankful, I am. But I am actually having to ask the Lord to put my heart at ease and bring out the rejoicing that He wants me to have. Because my flesh is still fighting some fears of what is still to come.
But He is so faithful because He has confirmed to me today through a Bible Study that I am doing currently, that it in obedience and trust that my rejoicing will come! And that He delights in our glad hearts. He has given the wisdom and discernment to the doctors that I totally asked for...and has brought new life back into my heart and has sustained a little life in my womb that I could not have made happen on my own!!

I also don't want to forget to mention that this baby has been bathed in prayer by countless prayer warriors over the past 2 weeks and I have no reason but to walk in thankfulness and a glad heart for what God has done thru this. The amount of love and support that has swelled up around us by our dearest friends and family and from people that we don't know as well but are friends with through facebook...it's just a humbling thing and something we hope to never forget or take for granted. I only hope that we have the opportunity to pay forward to others the unconditional love and grace that was poured into us by our loving Father and by our amazing friends and family, because we could not have gotten through this week without it.

We serve an awesome, living, breathing God who wants to live and breathe into our lives at our deepest time of need...and that is when the "new life" He promises really takes root!

Today is the first day of a new chapter in our lives...let the rejoicing begin!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" Isaiah 43:18

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wholehearted Trust

Some who read this may already know, but a week ago today, I found out that I was pregnant. It was a big surprise to us. Then, within 24 hours, I began to have complications. I went to the docs last Monday to do the usual tests and ultrasound. Though things still seem to be in tact, there has been some fear that things may not be progressing like they should from one of the tests they ran. Now we go back Tuesday to do more of the same to get a better idea about what is going on. It has been a roller coaster for me over the past 6 days. I've had every thought, fear, doubt, faith, hope, more fear, you name it going through my mind and heart all week. But as I have been praying and and have had many many others praying for us, the peace that surpasses all understanding has fallen on me the past 36 hours. It's been amazing. I feel good about the outcome and am just having to wait til Tuesday to find out what is going on for sure at this point.
All that to say, I want to share this prayer that the Lord gave me yesterday that I am praying daily, even sometimes multiple times daily, and I'd love to have others join me in prayer if you would like. I am standing on His promises and trusting Him in this, even though I may not feel it all the time.
So here it goes:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I am asking for your manifest power and love to be evident during this time. Thank you that you have set the path before me and that my eternal pleasures are in your right hand. Thank you that you go before and behind me as a shield of protection and as my Shepherd when I am lost and confused. Especially now. I proclaim right now that You are my rock that I can set my feet firmly on no matter what happens or how I feel. Thank you that this life inside of me is in Your arms no matter what.

Father God, I thank you that you love your children and that you love giving good gifts to your children. I will say with an honest heart that I want this baby to survive in my womb and that I want to meet this child face to face while we are still here on earth. But if it is your will to take this child into your arms in heaven, then I will choose to trust that your plan is better than mine, even if my heart breaks, even if I get angry, even if I feel despair, and even if I lose my grip on You or lose faith. Thank you that you never lose your grip on me and that you will ultimately use this experience to reveal yourself to Tim and I in a mighty way. We want your will and your plan over ours, even if we don’t feel it. That is the heart you gave us…to ultimately fulfill your plan and your will.

Lord, I need you now more than I can express and you know that. Help my eyes to be fixed on You and that any other things that want to get me distracted or discouraged, that you will put your hands square on my shoulders, look at my face and give me the strength, courage, and faith to walk forward and seek you no matter what happens. Bless this life in me, bless my friends who have been praying for me. And as a little extra prayer, if it’s your will, make my hormone levels skyrocket to where they should be to sustain this life. And give the doctors and nurses wisdom and a more compassionate and sensitive heart toward me to give me a peace that I am in the right hands with them.
I ask all these things in the name of Jesus,


Psalm 16:8

"I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Divine Conspiracy

My husband and I are probably quite comical to God a lot of the time. Sometimes I wonder if our little life here just entertains Him. We are a piece of work sometimes and yet God knew exactly what He was doing when He put us together, even if sometimes I wonder what in the world He was thinking on those rougher days that couples go through. I am just going to list the differences in Tim and I individually and see if you can relate at all:

I am an extrovert to the inth degree.
He is an introvert to the inth degree.

In my perfect world, I would sit and have a two hour conversation with him every day.
He can go a few days without any communication and not skip a beat.

He is a physical touch guy.
I am not a touchy-feely person at all.

He loves words of affirmation.
I never have been good at giving them or receiving them.

I love quality time with him.
Must I remind you again, he is an introvert.

I love to do things outside the house and be adventurous on my free time.
In his free time, he just assumes read a good book for hours on end at home or sleep.

I am the people-pleaser.
He says what he says and well, to Tim, if it ruffles feathers, it's not his problem.

I am impatient about getting things done.
He's the procrastinator.

I want to be pursued and desired.
He many times just wants to be left alone (not meaning this negatively).

I am a woman.
He is a man.

And God knew all of these things when He put us together before we did...well, except that we knew the woman and man part. I had to clarify :). I heard recently from John and Staci Eldredge that marriage is a "divine conspiracy" designed my God to make us not only become more like Him but also to make us need Him more than we would ever otherwise. It's also defined as something that joins two broken people who love each other but also desperately need Him to keep them together and to create one-ness that can only come thru and remain in our Savior. Because if we do things our way, we are sure to keep ourselves in a pile of broken pieces.

Some days, I think I can't go another day with the differences we have individually. Some days, I feel lonely. And some days, he feels like I am too needy. Some days, I nag too much. And some days he probably wonders where the woman he first married went. But the fact is, we are both changing through our journey together and I've noticed that in some ways we are slowly taking on the others' traits sometimes... God is funny that way. Yet one thing we are both becoming more and more aware of is that because of our stark differences, our pursuit of Christ and His pursuit of us are the only thing that are going to keep us glued together.
I still question how to not depend on my husband for things only God can provide me with. I still struggle with waiting for God to bring revelation to both of us at the same time about certain circumstances. But one thing I don't think often enough about is that our relationship is for eternity, and that God is creating a love story between us within a larger Love Story. It may not always look like that romantic movie on the screen, but it is perfect in God's eyes because He sees the outcome. And for that I am truly thankful for the man that He has blessed me with to share that with here and for eternity.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just Rest

God is stirring some things up in me lately and it's been very hard to put my finger on what it is completely and why He is stirring it up. But I can say that it seems the outflow of what is going on within me is just merely the feeling of discontentment, but not necessarily the bad kind of discontentment. The Lord told me yesterday that is actually what some call "Holy discontentment". It's the kind that has made me completely unsatisfied with the status quo. The day-to-day mundane side of life is just not cutting it for me anymore. Though I enjoy some areas of my life for mere enjoyment, and am looking for the silver lining in those areas that just seem cloudy right now, it still is leaving me feeling a bit empty, realizing that there is more to this than finding things to fill my time up just for the sake of getting through the day. For those things that maybe in that moment make me feel happy but leave me empty still later. You probably see where I'm going with this and honestly it has become almost too cliche when you hear that only the Lord can fill these longings, but it is becoming more and more evident and true in my life and He is obviously doing a lot to make this a total reality in my life rather than just head knowledge. I still am working it out and can't say that I feel completely content just in Him yet. But He knows what it takes to get me there.

For example, this whole issue of our finances and not hardly being able to pay our bills month to month. Yet still thinking that if I just had this or that extra thing, it would bring satisfaction. If we could just get our debt paid off, or if we could just go on a nice dream vacation debt-free and with not a worry in the world. Though I believe God is capable of fulfilling this desires, He is obviously trying to accomplish something else beyond my grasp or understanding because those desires just aren't being met at the moment and all I can come up with is that He has to be enough for me. And He is whether I feel it or not.

So the only thing left to do is rest in Him. Rest in His perfect plan that is currently in process, even if it doesn't feel perfect. So much easier said than done. I am to rest when I feel stuck when all I want to do is just get out there and do something that feels useful or productive, or that I have some worth to give to someone (disclaimer: not my own worth but Christ's worth in me) and also move me out of the rut I feel myself in a lot of the time lately. The more of a rut I feel in now, the more I want to get myself out of it. But then I usually find myself back in it. And God just simply says, "Rest"?? How, Lord, how?

In January, the Lord made my heart come alive again thru Discovery. I was able to receive and give love like never before after that weekend and God's love was more real to me than ever. My receiver had been broken for a long time and the Lord repaired it. And by March, I was able to find some direction and purpose out of all of my life experiences that had left me broken for so long. My heart felt free and I was given this driving force from that to love without limits, help others' lives be changed through what God had shown me and love the way Lord has so freely loved me.

But I'm learning more and more that to find a place where people can receive that is few and far between. So many people are still walking around with their "receiver" broken. And I am lately finding myself trying not to let mine break again. Because I am letting words and actions of man leave me disoriented and confused when their responses don't come out like I'd hoped...and at times I just want to shut my heart down because it hurts too much to keep it open. I'm also finding that receiving from others in my time of need can be just as difficult. Lately I've been tested with that greatly and it was tougher than I thought it would be. But I really can imagine now how Jesus felt when it came to giving to others who wouldn't receive it. What a humbling place to be to experience what He did. So here I am still left with this discontentment. Though the Word says that we are to be content in all circumstances, I don't believe we are to be content with the status quo if it is leaving us lifeless, heartless, and loveless. Jesus taught outside the box and I want to live outside that box. But I also have to accept that just resting in Him is as outside the box as you get in this world. Because the world tells us to do the opposite and keep trying until we succeed. But if resting in Him makes our heart open, loving, and full of Him, when the Lord says, "Go be my disciples", we will be ready and willing to go wherever He leads without abandon...and with His love and power...and that is when we will have all we need. So now I must rest...sigh. Again, so much easier said than done.
This verse really spoke to me last week. I believe it applies to my post because we are nothing and useless without His love flowing through us. And learning to rest in that love is vital.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (The Message)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It is Done!

God is clearly working overtime to purge this spirit of guilt that I have allowed to consume my life for too long. I think our finances has been the main thing to expose this false belief in me even though I've claimed over and over that I don't live by this lie. But I am here to attest that today that victory is mine! Yesterday, the enemy came in roaring at me through some very unwelcome sources in regards to this whole issue of our finances. The enemy tried to steal what God was doing in me, but it didn't work. In fact, God turned it around on him and used it as an opportunity to help me personally to rid of this false sense of guilt once and for all!! And today, I am claiming victory. After the lies hit me hard yesterday, it was revealed that there was still a part of me that couldn't find the freedom that God has so graciouslly given me in all my areas of sin. And today, God is drawing me to Him closer and closer as to find that freedom I so desperately have needed and didn't even know it.
So I want to share this in hopes that someone out there needs to know that God is a God of love, forgiveness, peace, salvation, and hope. He does not use punishment to bring his children to repentance. He uses love...and Truth!....NOT FEAR. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.

God is out to make us perfected in love...not fear! So if there is anything in your mind that is making you feel fear, guilt, condemned, or like you can't come to God boldly with who you are or what you've done, rebuke it! It is the enemy. God wants relationship with us. Jesus came so that we can have that and come to Him boldly despite our sin. Christ died so sin can't separate us from Him anymore. He knows we will sin before we do it, but He also knows that He has already paid for it...and He wants us to live free lives!! I know it grieves His heart when we think we have to still pay for our sins. Because many of us still live as if we are! But today, I'm done with that!

So, how do we live by that Truth? This is what His Word has spoken to me. If we come before Him daily, know Him, seek Him first and His kingdom, I think we will be astounded at how our sinful nature will literally melt away. The truth is, we can't make ourselves not sin or bear our own good fruit, but HE CAN...and He has!! He will change us from the inside out in order that the Spirit-man will become strong so that the flesh becomes weak. We just have a choice to feed the Spirit, not the flesh with our daily choices. What we feed ourselves with will be revealed by our fruit. What goes in, must come out. So which is it?
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4.

The lie that enemy wants to tell us is that we are still attaining or earning something from God that is actually already ours...only to leave us chasing the wind. And the scariest part is that many don't even realize they are still living this way. If we are living the Christ-centered life, we will reflect the finished work that brings Power and Love to and from our lives...not the continual cycle of guilt and condemnation.

It was done on the cross, now will we believe it and live like it?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh the Pitfalls

Today I fell into a trap. I went shopping. I talked myself into taking Hannah to get a few new pairs of clothes know we had less the $200 to our name for the rest of the week. Not to mention I had my other two children in tow…who I’m sure would lure me into buying them a few things too. I justified it by seeing it still as a need and not a want. After all, my husband even said I need to get some new clothes for Hannah. All 3 of my kids’ clothes are getting shabby too and I figure a few cheap new outfits won’t hurt especially cheap ones. And my friend tells me last night that this particular store is having a huge sale and she got all kinds of things for $2-$3 apiece for her daughters. So I thought, “wow!” I need to go check that out.

So this morning it was on my mind and figured it would be something to do….even though I just told my husband this morning we have very little money in the bank and I watched him come home for lunch in order to avoid spending money. Nonetheless, I still move forward with my plan of shopping. What kind of idiot am I to not use such common sense? Ok, I know. Enough beating myself us. I’m good at that as you can tell.

I’m on my way to the store, and I keep thinking, “What are you doing?”. But yet I still tell myself that it’s just to check things out and if nothing is within my price range, I won’t buy anything. Whatever!! I get there and of course there’s a plethora of options, clothes all over the place to sort through, sift through, check prices for. Then the kids of course don’t help with their distracting behavior and also Hannah looking so happy shopping with me and looking for clothes. So I just kept looking, and looking, and looking….

…and an hour and a half later, I walked out spending $40 on 12 things. Not too shabby by most standards. Good sales! But that $40 feels like $400 now. I don’t even know how we’ll get groceries for the week and I went and did this? I feel like the scum on the bottom of someone’s shoe. I’m asking God for forgiveness but am feeling so sorry for myself I can’t even fathom receiving forgiveness. So I’m waiting for the shoe to drop, for my due punishment…for my husband to completely light into me when he finds out. Do I go ahead and tell him? Do I wait for my kids to talk about their new clothes only to get caught? I want to run right now…but the thing is, I don’t really want to run from God. I want to run from my husband. I want to crawl in God’s lap though, and I want Him to tell me it’s ok and that my mistakes are not gonna change how much He loves me nor will they change His provisions for us. But the hard part is, accepting and believing that will happen. Will He punish me? Will I get yelled at for this from Tim? Will I never be trusted again? I don’t trust myself, how can anyone else trust me?

Well, as I’ve been typing, God has been speaking to me about this. But before I go on, it's amazing to me how one little slip-up can take the rest of your day on a downward spiral and have you grasping to get back on your step. I wish I could just rewind the tape and have a do-over but here's what I'm learning from this already. I guess nothing goes wasted, huh?

So how would God want me to address this if it were my children? And how does God see me as His child in this? Was He surprised I did this? No. And He will probably see me do it again. This is stirring up a lot of things that I don’t really know how to sort through. When you do something wrong deliberately, but are so scared of your punishment that you can’t face the one who might be punishing you, what lie are you believing about them or you? And what has God done that would make me think he would bring unjust punishment that would affect our relationship? I guess I still don’t know God enough. Does God want to do something that will ultimately cause our relationship to suffer? No. So what is the right response here? God knows I’m beating myself up over this. That’s no secret. What if he doesn’t want to hear me say another word about it because it is already forgiven and forgotten? Because it sounds a whole lot like I’m making this more about me than Him. What if this is so minute in his mind already that He can’t even figure out why I’m still mulling it over and over? But if I accept his forgiveness so easily, doesn’t that just make me feel like I just got away scot free and that I’m accepting cheap grace? Do I deserve punishment? Yes. But God doesn’t use harsh punishment to bring His children to repentance anymore. The word says that He uses the careful instruction and guided discipline of the Holy Spirit. He knows we don’t want to do it again. And He knows we probably will make more mistakes. So it comes down to this. I guess I just need to be willing to accept what it takes to not let this not happen again. And trust that whatever that is, is good…even if it’s hard.

So my response is this:

“God, we have hashed this out enough. I want this offense to be wiped clean and in your Word you say ‘that we can come boldly before you and are washed clean by your blood because our sins are forgiven. They have been cast as far as the east is from the west.’ I just don’t want to accept cheap grace though. I want to accept the grace that is necessary for pure repentance and change in the area of spending habits. So today, I will give over my rights over the finances to You. You are in charge. I simply want to be obedient. So guide me through each day as if this money is not mine to manage…but Yours. Help me change my mind daily to realize that everything comes from You, through You and to You. And please protect Tim and me when this comes up. Prepare us somehow with the grace needed to prevent the enemy from getting between us with our finances. All that we are and all that we have is Yours. I want us to live our lives in that way in all that we say and do. May we give over whatever rights we think are ours that you never gave us. This is gonna take a lot of major discipline probably but I don’t want to be subject of financial traps and attacks anymore. May we pass over the pitfalls that the enemy tries to throw in our path so that we will remain steadfast in Your will and plan. And keep us alert, and pursuing You daily so our lives my reflect You in every area."

In Jesus’ Name,


Monday, June 14, 2010

Real Relationships

You'll have to bear with me with this one. The truth is, I just have so many thoughts and questions flowing through my mind day after day, sometimes minute by minute, I don't even know where to begin most of the time. I've been on a standstill with this blog 'cause I don't know how to get out what I want to say nor even have  known really what I want to say. But maybe as I type, the clouds will clear a bit and I'll finally be able to come to some sort of direction.

I know I have felt very discontent with so many things lately and really, truthfully, I don't think it's all bad. But like many, I do struggle with the balance between discontentment from the status quo and just being still and enjoying where God has me, even if I feel he has me on a path where each step feels like more of a mountain most of the time.
Probably the number one question that comes back more than any is, "What is real anymore?" We have the obvious answer that Christ is real. And I'll get back to that. But really when it comes to my relationships with people and how people relate to me, how in the world do I be real without being too real with those that don't want to hear the good, bad, and ugly of Bethany's life? And how do I lay myself aside for the sake of others so that they know they can be real with me and find me to be a safe place to come for comfort, truth, and unconditional love when they need it most. I know I fail at this too often. And it frustrates the crud out of me. Sometimes it's just easier to be away from people altogether. Yet I know that is NOT the answer. I love people too much. Probably way too much. Which is why this is so hard for me.

But seriously, I have been thrust into this realization over the past few years...that just being superficial and sweet with everyone is just not bringing out what my heart's desire nor will it bear that fruit of what Christ's life was about. Keeping things at surface level will not get anyone anywhere. It may have to start that way to build trust or whatever, but it can't stay that way to actually have true, authentic relationships. And it has to go both ways. Both parties have to be willing to go thru some uncomforable things and sometimes the fire to find true authenticity in their friendships. It hurts but has to happen. I've experienced it thru my marriage and one other friendship and am now on the other side where the beauty is shining from it all...all because of what we went through.
Christ is all about this stuff...to go thru the fire with you, to let you stumble and fall but will be right there to pick you back up when you're ready to trust again...and ultimately He is about transforming lives and having an eternal relationship with them now matter how hard it gets for Him or for us.

So my question is...how in the world do we follow that example that He did? Well, unfortunately we WILL have our heart stepped on. Recent happenings have had me facing that to a degree and it hurt bad! But look at Jesus' life. Talk about facing the ultimate rejection. And to become more like him, we must face that too. It's just reality.
(wow, I think I just answered a question of my own? :) )

To add to that here's some specific things that I've run into as I've been pursuing more of authentic approach with people:
  • Not everyone is gonna be honest with you.
  • Not everyone wants what you have to give.
  • Not everyone is yet capable of receiving Christ's unconditional love.
  • Not everyone wants to know every last detail of your life or even to get to know you better even if you want to with them.
  • Not everyone is willing to take risks and step away from status quo to be transformed into something better that God has for them.
  • And last but not least (this one has been the hardest for me personally), not many trust your heart toward them.
This is called living in a fallen world with broken people. Hurt people hurt people. That's just all there is to it. And I know I've hurt people as much as anyone else over the years and probably sometimes I didn't even know it. But God made us for relationships. Many of just don't know how to do it right because we lost our truster along the way. And that can wreak havoc on any relationship, especially with God. Jesus was in contact daily with these people that I described. He knew what to expect of them because they were human, yet also loved them all the way to the Cross...and still does for eternity.

So as I look back and reflect on Christ's example, all I know to do is keep my eyes on Him, the One who wants the ultimate real relationship with all of us...and knows how to make that happen. He wants our whole heart. And that's a huge and hard thing for us to give away to him or others that we cross paths with. But that's when relationship really gets REAL! It can get ugly at times but I have to believe it's worth it. We see through the masks, the walls of our hearts and others' hearts, and can become authentic in our relationships...and experience something you can't put a price on. That's what my heart desires...and that's what God's heart desires with us. So if you haven't already, are you willing to get REAL?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


One of my favorite songs ever! God gave this to me today as I was praying through some struggles...so I'm passing it on to anyone who needs to here this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stretching and Making Strides

I'm kind of amazed right now. I've been thinking about the fact that it's been almost a year since I have started doing something that I never dreamed I'd make a regular part of my life...exercise! Anyone and everyone who has never made that a part of their life can say without a doubt that they will never enjoy it nor do they even desire to even start to do it. Well, I remember over a year ago desiring to just simply desire it and I remember praying for God to somehow miraculously help me become a regular worker-outer (how's that for a word?) After dealing with depression and anxiety after my 3rd daughter was born and going through marital struggles, not to mention carrying and birthing 3 kids, and just forming poor eating habits out of survival over the past 15 years or so, I figured working out may be something that could spring me back into a somewhat active lifestyle and help pull  me out of the rut I had been in for too long. I mean, who says exercise is bad for you, but how many people say they love it?

Well, lo and behold, here I am a year out from that little desire that came in and though I've had my share of lulls out of the gym for weeks at a time, I am still a member of a gym and still am getting up there a few times a week at least, if not 3 or 4 times at best...and I ran/walked 3 miles on a trail on Sunday out of my own will!! Who am I and where is Bethany? But I really can't say that any of this has come about out of my own strength OR my will truthfully! I believe it's just an answer to a prayer that I prayed fairly regularly for about a year after I saw this one naturopath doctor 2 years ago for depression and anxiety. She said that exercise needed to be almost a daily thing for me and at the time I just laughed inside as I knew that would be an impossible feat. Me? Exercise almost every day? Well, I am now 2 years out from that time and have actually gotten to the point where not only do I exercise, but I actually somewhat enjoy it. and I've learned how much I love to dance again in the process by taking Zumba and other dance classes!

Many people actually roll their eyes when I talk of my exercising because really I've never been one to struggle with my weight. I've never been obese so why in the world would someone feel such a strong need to exercise if they aren't overweight or obese? But I notice that there are people of all shapes and sizes at the gym, and they are all going toward the same goal...to be in shape, or for some, to stay in shape. So let me just tell you, just like our spiritual lives and exercising our faith, exercising our bodies is always a good thing, even if on the outside it appears one doesn't need it. Sure there are those we can point fingers at and say they need to get in shape physically and even those who are downtrodden spiritually. But when it appears that someone has it all together spiritually, does that mean they just need to put their faith on the shelf and hope they still keep up with the race that God has them on? It just doesn't work that way, does it? In order to build our faith, or to some, keep our faith strong, we must stretch it constantly. So to add to that here are a few other things that God has had me do over the past year that seemed impossible other than exercise and it has definitely kept me stretched and challenged in my faith and kept me in the race so to speak:

  • He had me start a prayer group for the first time in my life in which I've had to depend solely on Him for as I have felt so inadequate and ill-equipped to lead out most of the time.
  • In September of last year my husband and I began to co-lead a class at church, another challenge for sure.
  • Tim and I attended Discovery in Jan, Feb, and March, (see post "Hearts Alive" from January) which was a huge leap of faith and going thru it stretched my heart in ways I didn't even know it needed...and from that experience, I have been challenged to stretch myself more and more by pouring my heart out to people like never before. I could add a whole other post about that. Learning how to give my heart out to others freely has been quite a new road for me, but has been very vital to my growth.
  • And then there's our finances in which we are literally living by daily right now...trusting God to provide all our needs as they come, not knowing what will be next. Stretching out the bank account and my will power to not spend money is quite challenging at times for sure.
  • I've just started challenging myself with my diet. Cutting back on a lot of stuff starting this week. On day 3 right now. We'll see how it goes....
So all that to say, this past year has been a year of stretching, exercising, building and challenging me to do things that I never thought possible or that I thought I could ever talk myself into. And I can say that I am forever grateful for this leg of my journey because it has thrust me out of the status quo and put me into the game of life more than ever...and allowed me to see the true heart that God gave me. And that takes a heart of pure trust in Him and perseverence that I also didn't know I had before.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 13:14

Monday, May 10, 2010

Taming the Imagination

So I don't do well when I don't get responses from people when I'm talking to them or sharing something important with them. Uncomfortable pauses or silence makes my skin crawl really. I know I have been accused more of being the master interrupter, guilty as charged...sigh! And I know it's for two reasons. One, I don't like to forget a thought I'm having when I want to speak it. And in past experiences, if I try to wait for the opportunity to speak, many times, by the time I get the opportunity, the conversation has gone in such a different direction that what I wanted to say wouldn't make sense and therefore I don't usually get the chance to speak. And if I do it anyways, I get wierd stares, like "what does that have to do with our conversation"? It's all a matter of insecurity really. And not wanting to be overlooked. So I've coped with that by getting my 2 cents at the expense of others trying to speak and finish a sentence. I do it with God too.
Do you see where my brain goes too often? It's more about when I'm gonna get my little shining opportunity to be noticed and not about being a good listener at the expense of never getting a word in edge-wise...and being ok with not being able to speak. I really hate my brain sometimes....well more than sometimes. How selfish I can be if I let my mind take over where it doesn't need to go...without taking my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. And of course those around me suffer for it. Am I really ever gonna want listen to others as much as I want others to listen to me? I'm working on it, really I am.
So moving on, I've been reading through one of my favorite books again this week,"Walking with God" by John Eldredge. Eldredge is probably my favorite authors of all time. I totally get him, the things he wrestles with, His view of the reality of the spiritual realm, (his love for nature is one thing I haven't grasped to his extent, though I'm growing into a much bigger appreciation for that even) and I love the kinds of communication that He has with God. And "Walking with God" is all about our communication with God, and how little we let Him in on the details of our lives. But it gives a very practical and powerful approach to how we can let Him in on every detail and see the fruit of this life of simply walking with God constantly...and communicating with Him about everything...down to whether I should speak when I want to. Many times the answer is probably "No" but I fail to ask Him first.

This also deals simply about our imagination which is all about the mind. Eldredge talks about how we people don't realize how quick our imagination can take us into a place that is completely and utterly in the hands of the enemy. Imagination is a gift, but can also be a tool for the enemy to get a foothold in if we let him. I'd never put much thought to that til this week. And God has been revealing to me how much that has been something the enemy has been really dwelling in too much lately for me. I'v probably put my heart out on the line more in the last 5 months than I have in a long time in order to hopefully reach out others and also be real with them about where I'm at in my life, and ultimately I have not received the responses I've been hoping for. So when I pour my heart out to God or someone else, and don't get a response, or maybe not the response I wanted, my imagination goes wild...to my own detriment. Really, I'm just trying to fill in the empty spaces but somehow it always ends up being on a more negative bent.

For example, I start doubting the heart behind that response or lack thereof. Then the enemy goes to town on me really. Why don't these people trust my heart? What part of me makes what I have to give so hard for others to receive? And before I know it, I'm on a tailspin of feeling hurt, rejected, abondoned, overlooked, and ultimately just all around unimportant and unfruitful, and the worst is feeling the inability to hear from God correctly. Oh that I may know His voice with confidence! When I do something that I feel God has told me to do, or say something that's on my heart that God has poured on my heart to give out, and it goes all wrong, there comes the doubt that I can't even hear from the One who is my ultimate teacher and guide. Did God really tell me to do that? Did I misunderstand? Talk about a path that leads to destruction. If we can't trust that we can hear from the One who we depend on, then what?
So what about when God is completely silent. What do we as control freaks tend to do when we don't feel we are getting a clear answer? Either we worry and fret about it until we get an answer, or doubting Thomas come in and things God just doesn't care, or we start taking action in places we have no business taking action in before God has even given us an answer. But sometimes God will say, "Go for it!", and then we start doubting our ability to even do what He has given us the go ahead to do, and the very thing we asked Him to give us an answer in. Poor God! I'm so glad I'm not Him because He deals with a lot of crap from us, doesn't He?

Well, Eldredge says it well when says what we are to do with this wild imagination in trying to fill in the blanks that leave us unsettled and that is:
To bring it under the rule of God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Because if not, it will be unfettered, reckless, and therefore unsanctified.
"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ". 2 Cor. 10:5

So to finish this off, here is an exerpt of a prayer that Eldredge has in this book that I am praying a lot these days and over time, I hope that this crazy imagination of mine will ultimately be used for His glory and not for my destruction:
"Lord Jesus, I come to you to be restored in you, to be renewed in you, to receive your love and life, to take refuge in you. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you, (this is where I will list specific areas that need surrender as God reveals them, like my "imagination", "discouragement", "doubt", and anything else He reveals).
I give you my body, soul, and spirit; my heart, mind, and will. I cover myself with your blood, and I ask your Holy Spirit to restore my union with you..." By the authority and power of Jesus Name, Amen.
Let's begin together to tame the wild horse that is our imagination thru surrender...and experience the sanctification that God is wanting to accomplish in this area...and ultimately live out the mind of Christ!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More on Prayer

I'm building on the last post regarding prayer and how we treat it. Lately, God has been little by little changing the heart of my prayers to him. For a long time, I struggled praying period because I felt way too selfish in my motives to even lift anything up to God about whatever was on my heart. I was always praying in a way that seemed pointless and really not in line with how God would have me pray them. My husband then was introduced recently to a beautiful prayer that had a complete heart of surrender to it. I've been actively praying it nearly every day. It really has opened my eyes to how skewed my prayers had become because many times they were always based on my wants, my desires, my motives, etc that were simply self-serving. I mean I knew that I did that before, but didn't really know how to pray sincerely with a pure heart and then expect pure results from Him or what to look for...and accept the answers or lack of answers given.

Well, Jesus says in Matthew 6 clearly that we are to keep our prayers simple but also in a position of giving over control and manipulation to get God to do what we want Him to do. We can ask for His daily provisions, for answers, to protect us from temptations and the enemy, but in the end admit to Him in our hearts that all the we are and all that we have belong to Him and it is about His will and His purpose in the end. So in that, as I'm learning to pray more in this way, I'm also finding that a surrendered prayer definitely  is the most freeing way to go...and one that will open my eyes to see God in ways I couldn't before.

Jesus says in Matthew 6: 9-13, Pray, then, in this way:
         'Our Father who is in heaven,
         Hallowed be Your name.
    10'Your kingdom come
         Your will be done,
         On earth as it is in heaven.
    11Give us this day our daily bread.
    12'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Simple but pointed but recognizing God as the head of it all.

But then you see the ultimate surrender prayer from Christ before His crucifixion:

Matthew 26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."

How often are we able to have this heart that Christ has...and how can we have it? I'm finding that as much as we don't like to admit it, it is through the impossible circumstances and when we are at the end of ourselves, that we tend to be most likely to surrender everything. So sometimes when we ask to have the pain and suffering removed, we are asking for Him to remove our surrendered hearts as well...and ultimately we will miss the joy and freedom of what He might do with that surrendered heart despite our circumstances. So I have been taking on the challenge of praying with surrender and being in awe of God and His mighty plan that is so much bigger than my wants, desires, and pleas for relief from difficulties. It is then that I believe we will see our true desires and wants met...because God doesn't ignore the true heart that He gave us.
I may be off some in my thinking, I don't know. But that is just what I have come to discover in this part of  my journey. Surrender is hard, but necessary for a liberating life in Christ.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Word on How We View Prayer

Another great reminder from Wilkerson on how we view praying and what we see as answered or unanswered prayers. This really spoke to me. I've been struggling lately on how to pray the things I want to see happen vs. surrendering it all to God's will....it's without a doubt a pure journey of faith!


I believe in Holy Ghost timing. In God’s own time, all our prayers will be answered—one way or another—but the trouble is, we are afraid to submit our prayers to Holy Ghost scrutiny. Some of our prayers need to be purged because often our faith is misspent on requests that are not mature. We do not know how to pray, “Thy will be done.” We don’t want his will as much as those things permitted by his will.

Abraham exercised his faith to keep reminding himself he was a stranger on this earth. His blessing pact produced only a tent to dwell in, because he put all his faith in that city whose builder and maker is God.

Were some of these faith warriors not living in faith? Did God refuse to answer some of their prayers? After all, not all of them were delivered and not all lived to see answers to their payers. Not all were spared pain, suffering and even death. Some were tortured; others were torn asunder, wandering about destitute, afflicted, and tormented (Hebrews 11:36-38).

Some who had a reputation for having great faith “received not the promise”

(Hebrews 11:39). Those who did “obtain promises” used their faith to work righteousness, to gain strength in times of weakness, and to put the enemy to flight.

Don’t worry about whether God is saying “Yes” or “No” to your request. Don’t be downcast when the answer is not in sight and, please, quit concentrating on faith formulas and methods. Just commit every prayer to Jesus and go about your business with confidence. He will not be one moment early or late in answering, and if the answer you seek is not forthcoming, say to your heart, “He is all I need. If I need more, he will not withhold it. He will answer in his time and in his way. And if he does not fulfill my request, he must have a perfect reason for not doing so. No matter what happens, I will always have faith in his faithfulness.”

God forgive us if we are more concerned about getting prayers answered than in learning total submission to Christ himself. We do not learn obedience by the things we obtain but by the things we suffer. Are you willing to learn by suffering a little longer with what appears to be an unanswered prayer? Will you rest in his love while patiently waiting for the promise?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Great Escapist Victim

I'm sure many can relate to this, but I tend to be the type who is really quick to want to escape from reality of my responsibilities. This is where addictions happen really. I know my husband and kids can attest, the computer is the number one thing I run to as a source of escape.
But I'm also the type who is very aware of the wrong choices I am making each moment I make them. So I'm not completely ignorant to what I'm doing. Actually, I am aware so much that I am really good at beating myself up about it, self-loathing in my own pit of my own yuck really well until I finally tell myself to buck up and get over it. But that isn't fixing the problem obviously. It's still just avoiding it only to see it happen over and over.
As I've been reading through a book called True-Faced, which is about taking off our masks that we think are covering our sin, and trusting God and others with who you REALLY are, I have been made aware, as recent as yesterday, that I really don't let God tend to me in my sin areas like I should, hence my escapist tendencies. That's a mask really. I know the sins are there, but if I can just escape from the things that bring it out, then I can pretend they aren't there and not have to feel bad about myself and maybe no one else will see it either. Because that's about as far as I've gotten when I face my sin areas, just feeling bad about it. So I escape into things that enjoy to make myself feel better. Ugh! This is the world's way of doing things. And we know where that gets you. Right into more sin and the hands of the enemy!
So today I finally got real with God on a whole new level. It didn't feel good but I had to do it. Granted He knew it already, but I had to get real with myself and confess it to Him so we could work on this TOGETHER once and for all. I finally faced something that hurt really bad to have to say but knew it had to be dealt with. And that is the fact that I don't really enjoy spending time with God. Oh I am quick to run to Him when I need Him, but just enjoying His presence at any given time? I'm still not there. Because if I was, my actions would show it. Really, He is usually never the first thing I run to. It's usually the computer, or getting out of the house to escape from the reality of my responsibilities, being with friends, eating out, or spending money I shouldn't...blah, blah, blah. God is usually my last resort....ouch! But there it is...out in the light. And guess what, I didn't get struck by lightening?
But I also had to confess that I don't enjoy spending time with my kids like I should. To many, that may seem proposterous to not want to be with them. Or maybe you can relate. But in reality, who can quickly bring out our sin nature more than our own kids? See, our kids mirror us when you think about it. So if we are sinning in some areas, they ultimately will follow. Truthfully, I never lost my temper until I had children. It completely threw me for a loop. I didn't know I was capable of such thing. And I never really dealt with it the right way by letting God take a hold of that part of me when I was aware. I just kept letting it happen hoping God would forgive me each time and ultimately and unkowingly was blaming my kids for my temper. Now THAT is proposterous. So now 11 years and 2 more children later, I'm good to make it through a day without lashing out at one of them for some rediculous reason.
And this is where I had to confess that for the same reason the "escapist" comes out, I have also put the "victim" mask on. The temper flies out when I feel wronged in some way. It happens in my marriage too. So that victim mentality is one more thing that ultimately keeps me from facing my own sin. It makes others look like the sinner, not me. I've been wearing that mask for way too long but this one I didn't even realize it was a mask. I just thought being hurt was being hurt and it was rightly there. But when you think about it, who really wants to walk around feeling hurt all the time? And on another level, does God want me to walk around like this?
So the good news is, WE are made in GOD'S image, so we can come boldly into God's arms, so He can lovingly care for our hearts the way they need to be cared for, and walk us through the sins that want to keep us in bondage.  And if we say we can't go there yet, confess it, face it, and let God help you deal with the lack of trust you feel toward Him. God is just waiting for us to come to Him JUST AS WE ARE so He can reveal Himself to us and transform us into His likeness.
For me, I need to stop escaping from him, but to Him, start trusting Him with my own sin and stop playing the victim all the time and just face the fact that I am a broken, sinful person, who needs Him as much as anyone else in every moment of every day. I can say it all day, but will my actions reveal that I truly believe it? I hope one day they willl. He wants to help me face every part that is broken and work on it with me, not to overwhelm me and condemn me, but to heal and renew the real me and ultimately help me find freedom and joy in every part of my life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pure Deception

I feel I haven't posted in ages. But I guess it hasn't been as long as it feels. The past month feels like a year truthfully. You know that song "I get knocked down, but I get up again, nothing's ever gonna keep me down"? Well, I'm in the process of picking myself back up again from a pretty heavy blow I've taken recently....known as the blow of deception. And it's knocked the wind out of my sails quite a bit.

How did I get into this mess? Well, I got myself into it thinking all the right intentions were there, following my BIG dreams of fulfilling my purpose, thinking this would be part of my path to fulfilling my heart's desire, and in the middle of my vulnerability of it all, an individual was introduced to me from a trusting friend. And it appeared that this individual was just what God brought me to come alongside me and help me along after a sincere prayer I prayed to Him. It all looked great and exciting at first. Our purpose seemed in line with each other. She was giving me great insight, knowledge into my own heart, and even prayed some powerful prayers over me. But then a red flag would pop up here and there, but no one's perfect, right? So I'd let go. Then another one, but we don't want to judge and she's human so maybe God is working on her with that. Then the red flags started getting too hard to ignore, and suddenly it was revealed to me and ultimately through my husband that this individual of good intentions is walking in pure deception and taking others with her through this ministry that she is trying to get underway in this area. Scary, huh? Great intentions, and a good heart, doesn't always lead to truth. Because this lady has a good heart and I believe loves the Lord. And it scares me to death now to think of how many people like this are walking around leading others astray with what looks right. I am just so thankful that God was taking care of me all along, and opened mine and my husband's eyes before things got out of hand. I also think God allowed me to take this path as a learning experience and word of warning! So I don't believe it was a mistake that this happened. There's a purpose for everything.

Get this. A few weeks ago, God actually gave me a great word picture of what happens when our eyes go astray, and try to look to others or even our own understanding to stay on the right track with God. He gave me this before I even met this individual that I've been speaking of. You tell me if this isn't timely:
I take a dance/exercise class each week. And one thing that God showed me is what happens if I try to look at myself in the mirror or the other individuals in the class to get my moves right and not the instructor. Everyone has their own version of what all the dance steps are. But the instructor is the one who leads with all the right, original moves. If I start looking to someone on my right or to my left, suddenly I find myself doing it my own way or how someone else does it....then before I know it, I'm off track...and ultimately will get lost in the dance. But as soon as I look at my instructor again, I get back on track.
I'm sure you see where I'm going with this. I like to think of God as the instructor. God wrote the original Word, therefore we have to wholeheartedly keep our eyes on Him for Truth..and to keep in the step with His Spirit. Not to say He doesn't use others to help us along and I have many amazing friends who have helped me stay the course, but I know now more than ever that God's word will always keep me going in the right path...and hopefully I can ultimately bring others in that path that ultimately leads to Him and His truth!

So what did I learn from this whole experience? Get into God's word daily!! Test the spirits from those that come in your path that are teaching what they claim to be His word. In the end times, the enemy will come as an angel of light. Really, as far as this lady is concerned, her heart is in the right place, she loves the Lord, but her :truth" is a bit twisted. It's actually not truth at all! And we have to be on watch for that whenever people speak into your life. So I guess take this post as a word of warning. Not to bring fear but to bring an awareness and hopefully a new motivation to dig into God's word more, to seek Him in all that you do, and test the spirits that come in your path. And last but not least, put on that armor that God has so freely given!

The Armor of God

Eph. 6: 10-18
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Word of Hope

This is a beautiful word of encouragement for those who have lost hope in whatever circumstance you are in. I receive an email 'gem' each day from this author, David Wilkerson. I hope this blesses someone today:


I have known of great Christians who have experienced a trial so dark and deep that life itself seemed almost not worth living. In his very darkest hour, Jeremiah discovered a glorious truth that brought new hope and assurance to his mind. It was something he already knew about God, but it didn't touch his soul until he came to the end of himself. He discovered that at the very bottom, God was there! The farther down he went, the more God was to be discovered. God was not to be discovered up there in some blissful soaring into untroubled skies, but in the shadows of grief and despair. When Jeremiah hit bottom, he bumped into God! He fell hard against the faithfulness of a compassionate God. Listen to his discovery:

"God is a God of compassion...his compassions for me cannot fail.... They are new every morning...great is his faithfulness..." (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Little by little, Jeremiah came to realize great truths that can only be discovered by those who are down.

1. When I am at the very lowest point; when troubles flow over my heart like water, and I say, "I am cut off," God draws near and whispers, "Do not fear!"(Lamentations 3:54-57).

2. When God seems to have "covered himself with a cloud, so that my prayers could not pass through," he will still see my oppression and will “judge my case” (Lamentations 3:44, 59).

3. If the Lord allows grief and sorrow, he will at the same time uphold me with abundant compassion and love (Lamentations 3:32).

4. God is not against me, trying to crush me under his foot when I'm down like a prisoner in trouble (Lamentations 3:34).

5. God is not trying to sabotage any of my plans; he is not causing my confusion; he is not working against me (Lamentations 3:35-36).

6. Even in my despair and bitterness, when I hated to face a new day, his compassion failed not. His mercies were waiting for me, new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

7. Because God is always faithful, he will not cast me off. He will do right by me and save me (Lamentations 3:25-26).

8. When I am at my lowest, I have nowhere to turn but to God, so I will lift up my heart and my hands, and thank him for his faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:40-41).

9. Being down has spent my strength and hope. I am left empty and humbled, so now I depend totally on his mercies! (Lamentations 3:18, 20-22).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Turning Pain into Purpose

Who has been in pain of some kind, large or small, at some point in this world? Everyone! Who has felt unloved, unimportant, and unworthy at some point in their life. Everyone! Who yearns to have a hole in their heart filled up with something that seems illusive and hard to find at times? Everyone! Do you know this is a tool God can use to change lives? My heart is breaking for all that have been to these places and are even still there because I have been there myself, even as recent as this week in some form or fashion.
But God has opened my eyes to the reality of this need people have for God's everlasting love in their life...all the way down my own children. Have you ever thought about how our children come with a hole in their heart, with a need to feel worthy of love and grace from the moment they are born? If anything, they are the perfect example of the honest response that happens when they are feeling unloved, unimportant, abandoned, and empty. But I've also realized that through life, we unfortunately learn to deal with all of this need by self-protecting, putting walls up, hiding our true feelings, and even forget that we are empty because we try to fill that hole with other things besides God. Therefore many people don't even know there's an aching need there anymore. And they become clogged up and therefore unable to receive love or even give it. And that is how we will stay empty. By closing up, not being real with God, with ourselves or others about our deepest need for love and purpose in life, and even not being willing to go through some pains in life in order to grow, we will not learn to live free and alive in Christ!

All that to say, today, I have a new passion, a new perspective, a new love for God's people that I didn't even know was possible. This is just where God has me right now. He's unclogged my heart I guess as I started getting real with Him about a lot of things over the past few years. Not to say everyone has to be there but let me tell you, if you open up your heart to God's heart, get ready! The floodgates will open! All I have to do is think of a few people I know that are hurting anymore before I have to fight off tears. God has opened the eyes of my heart more and more to what He sees in the day-to-day when people are walking around empty, hurting and unloved, and with that, my desire to guide as many as I can safe into His arms and give them a new hope and purpose in their life is growing daily. It's a beautiful yet kind of daunting feeling all at once really.

I don't really know how this is all gonna play out or if others will even see this when I cross their path. I am a work in progress like all of us so it may be hit or miss for a while. It took me 4 days to draw of the courage to send a card to my neighbor who God has placed on my heart this week...ha! I mean, honestly, over the last week, the darts have been flying from all direction as the enemy is trying to throw lies into my head and stop me in my tracks. Lies like, "People don't want your joy bad enough". "You might scare others off if you act too Godly or joyful". "Don't speak too openly about your new joy or you will be held accountable by others if you fall on your face"....ugh!! But the key to fighting off these lies is to stay out of my head and get into my heart daily. I know what my God-given heart is desiring and I have to trust that God will fulfill it as long as I stay willing and pour myself out like a drink offering at every opportunity. I will fail at times and I have to accept that. My perfectionistic tendencies want to get the best of me. But God isn't about perfection in ourselves, but finding His perfection of love that He wants to pour into and out of us. It still all scares the pants off me, though...lol.

But am I willing to do it anyways? Will I be able to turn the pains and struggles of my life and find purpose in them as I cross people's path by giving them hope thru the love of Christ? Will I be able to lay down my own agenda of what that looks like and trust that God will guide me day by day so His agenda will prevail? These are the questions that have run through my mind all week. And it comes down to letting Him completely take over my life, surrendering daily to His plan and his purpose...and taking every fear and thought captive so that I can take on the mind of Christ and let Him live THROUGH ME!

So the question remains for you out there reading this. What pains in your life have you experienced and overcome with God's help that you can now use to help others overcome their own struggles and pain? We have an amazing tool when we've endured a struggle and hardship in life, or are even going thru it at this moment. God doesn't let anything go wasted if we seek Him daily and recognize His hand in everything we go through. People want empathy, not sympathy most of the time. If we can tap into God's perspctive and ask Him to show us the world as He sees it, look out because He may have a mission for you that you didn't even know was possible. And it's all about baby steps. You don't have to save the whole world. But you can save a life if you ask God to give you the opportunity. And that is turning your pain into a purpose.

"But it has been granted to you on behalf of Jesus Christ not only to believe in Him, but to suffer for him" Phil. 1:29
"God can do anything, you know-far more than you can imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working in us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us" Eph. 3:20 (The Message)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Yesterday was a rough day. I wrestled in my heart and with God for the thousandth time about some frustrations that like to creep up on the days when I have to sit down and look at finances.I dread those days. It's not as intense as it used to be but there is still some frustration there that I am working thru. More times than not, the projected budget doesn't always turn out like I'd like. Meaning, we are usually going to be under somewhere by the end of the month due to some financial set-backs we've been experiencing over the past few years. I am a left-brained person who likes things to match up and look how they are supposed to look. I don't do well with the unknowns and nor do I like open-ended situations that I can't fix. I like things to be tied up in a pretty bow and have a conclusion to come to so I can make daily decisions accordingly. So because of that, finances will steal my peace in a nano-second if I think about them too much because I don't remember the last time we've had that assurance that things are all gonna come together perfectly on paper and I'm sure I've said before on some past blog post, I like 'PERFECT' a little too much.

I've also had to face the fact over the past 24 hours that I am nothing short of a spoiled brat when it comes down to it. I'm like a 3 year old who is always discontent. And most Americans are spoiled brats in some way because of our high-society living for so long. If we don't have all the extras, we feel God is holding out on us or that we aren't doing enough to make our lives happy and fulfilled. And that we need more, more, more. And that is called "the love of money", my friends. And also "lack of faith" in who God says He is and what He is doing. And I've had to face the fact that my love for the things of this world is still way out of control and my faith in God is not where it should be. I mean, what is ALWAYS dictating my inner peace or lack of? It seems to come down to discontentment in finances all the time.

I also know in my head that if I take the world's perspective on things, it will always look as if we are not being provided for and I'll always feel as if God is not taking care of us. And a lot of times it's because I'm angry that I can't get all the "extras" that the world expects should be handed to them. I want to travel more to see new places, have nicer things like a new couch to replace our old smelly, kid-stained, dog-smelling one. Or I want new flooring to replace the now stained carpet that was actually brand new just 3 years ago. I want a nicer yard. Heck, I could hardly enjoy spending $10 yesterday buying a few new towels for my newly-painted bathroom and I was mad about it. Anyways, you get the point. There will always be something out there I want. Even if we were millionaires.

But the Bible says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:16-18

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Heb. 13:5

I can read these words til I'm blue in the face! I can say I believe them but my actions are still not following what I want to believe. I am really wresting with this and really have had to face once again that I don't get it yet. My heart is not following what my head knows still. I still want what I want, and when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, I throw a fit when I can't have what I want.

Lord, I know in my head you are working this out with me, but I really want once and for all to experience, wholeheartedly the freedom from this trap of discontentment. My heart is not free of this yet. I want to have the freedom to love You wholeheartedly without having to strive to get there. I can't do this on my own. I am not pretending that I can be content on my own strength anymore. I am falling flat on my face every time I try. Take this heart of mine and make it beat for yours and yours alone. I can't do it as long as I let the world's ways get in my way. I am not my own or the world's. I am yours. Everything I have is not mine. It is yours. Oh to live this out wholeheartedly experience the freedom of it. You know my heart better than mine. So help me to give it over completely to you daily so I can see your providential hand like never before and be content no matter what.

In Jesus' Name,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fun Facts About Me...

I just thought I'd get a little on the lighter side of things and share some tidbits about me, my likes, dislikes, my interests, and experiences that have marked my journey. Just for a little change of pace. So here it goes...

1. I was very, very shy as a child.

2. I am 2 1/2 years younger than my brother.

3. I was always the following-type kid growing up and seemed to always attract dominating friends for that reason...even into early adulthood.

4. I went to a private Christian school thru 5th grade, then public school from 6th-12th.

5. I was born down near the border of Mexico but have actually never been in Mexico before...go figure.

6. There are 3 things I am strongly phobic of: 1. open heights(like being on a tall ladder or a cliff) 2. tarantulas 3. lice

7. I went thru what many call a rebellious, partying stage late in high school 'til I was around 20 and gave my parents a lot of..well..hell during that time. I sorely regret those days but they were part of my journey. I do thank God often though for his protection over me during that time. He literally saved me from myself and that's something I can never take for granted.

8. My dream job outside the home would probably be to become a Doula or a dance instructor.

9. My love for music started when I was in junior high. I sang in the choir in school and church up thru high school.

10. Worship thru music is a passion of mine and I really love to sing harmonies in a group setting.

11. I am a total social bug, a people person, and never get tired of meeting new people. People actually energize me and I can get depressed if I isolate too much.

12. I don't really like talking politics because I know little about them, everything about it seems fake to me, therefore I really just don't trust the system. Is that bad?

13. I love college football...and as if many don't know, I love the Longhorns passionately (but only in football)!

14. I am not fond nor ever have been of eating vegetables...even as an adult. If I had it my way, I'd live on fresh bread, peanut butter, chocolate, mexican or chinese food. But I am getting better about the veggies to survive.

15. I am not very good at small-talk and still can come off shy or even stuck up to people who don't know me well.

16. And ironically, I loathe uncomfortable silence in a conversation. It makes my skin crawl really. And I usually work pretty hard to keep that from happening if some haven't noticed :).

17. Up until recently, I never thought of myself as a very good listener. My mind kind of checks out easily in conversations to be honest or I can interrupt badly. But God is changing that and I am truly eager to hear other peoples' stories and their hearts more than ever before.

18. I have a beautiful testimony of God's redemptive power in what seemed to be a doomed marriage just over 5 years ago. He has brought my husband through an amazing process of forgiveness, freedom and healing from sexual addictions that almost wrecked our marriage...and has shown me the power of forgiveness and what true unconditional love is all about. We are celebrating 13 years of marriage this June and are more in love than ever!

19. And lastly, though I accepted Christ as a child, age 7, my true growth in my relationship with God has probably grown more in the past 5 years than it did over the first 25 years of my life.

I guess that's all. You'd think I'd get to 20 but it's past midnight and my eyes hurt now...haha! But I had fun with this nonetheless.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Treasures in Jars of Clay...

I got a great treasure today from a daily email I receive from author David Wilkerson. I so can identify with what he had to say, especially this week.
I've been having one of those weeks where those little sins are trying to creep up and deem me powerless and are trying to steal my victory. This Word couldn't have come at a better time today.
It really is in my weakness that He is strong...and my hunger for Him intensifies...and there is victory in that in some mysterious way. So I am claiming victory over my weakness, my foolishness...because the power I long for comes from only God and not from me.

Here's what Wilkerson had to say:

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Cor. 4:7

Then Paul goes on to describe those jars of clay—dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. And even though never forsaken or in despair, those men being used by God are constantly under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.
God mocks man’s power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. He never uses the high and mighty but, instead, uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."1 Cor. 1:26-29

Does that ever describe me! Weak thing—foolish thing—despised thing—a base thing—not very noble—not very smart. Yet that is his perfect plan—the greatest mystery on earth. God calls us in our weakness. He puts his priceless treasure in these earthen vessels of ours because he delights in doing the impossible with nothing.

Have you failed? Is there a sin that so easily besets you? Do you feel like a weakened coward, unable to get the victory over secret sin? But with that weakness in you, is there also a hunger for God? Do you yearn for him—love him—reach to him? That hunger and thirst is the key to your victory. That makes you different from all the others who have been guilty of failing God.
That sets you apart. You must keep that hunger alive. Keep thirsting after righteousness. Never justify your weakness—never give in to it—and never accept it as a part of your life.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Seasons are a part of life....on the calendar and in our journey of life here on earth. I have been going over in my head a lot lately the analogies of life seasons vs. weather-related seasons. One thing I've noticed is, no matter what season of life we are in, we usually are always looking for it to be different, or better...unless everything going on around us is peachy keen and then we really have a hard time functioning in contentment when our lives are at a point where it feels like a perfect 70 degree beautiful sunny day. I also have noticed that in weather-related seasons, it isn't much different as far as our response, even though the we know that each season has its purpose and really needs to happen for the earth to function the way it is supposed to. So what I am about to write may be able to bring a lot of insight to our lives whatever season of life we are at. I will be doing one season a day so it won't be as daunting to read.

Winter - winter is usually welcomed by many when it begins. We've overcome the warm summer, been thru fall (what is fall in Texas?), etc. Some get beautiful snow, some just get some nice cold snaps like we do in Texas with mild weather in between. But come January, most EVERYONE is ready for it to go. Even us Texans who really don't have it all that bad compared to the northern hemisphere. But they say that most suicides happen in the winter due to the lack of sun in winter. Very sad statistic indeed. But whether people realize it or not, they like change. The mundane can grow tiresome and boring...and usually will eventually bring out the worst in us. I'm not so good at withstanding cloudy, cold days for very long. I can get depressed quite easily with what I am feeling and seeing once January comes.
And isn't that a lot like we respond to the "winters" of life? We let only what we can see and feel get us down. But underneath it all, there is purpose in it. Just like underneath the ground, there is new life ready to spring up when winter ends. The truth is, things have to die out so that God can work on some new things in your life and sometimes the process just doesn't feel or look good. God has a beautiful purpose in His mysteriousness even in those cold, gloomy days, in weather and in our lives. We just don't see it very well because we tend to react to what we see, not to what it is preparing us for. And that usually is coming from lack of faith in God's sovereignty and goodness.
What in your life do you feel is just lifeless, purposeless, and pretty much depressing? Is your heart feeling dead today? Are you finding yourself wanting something different, something that feels better or looks better than where you are at? Think upon that and then realize that God is putting you through this season because He is trying to prepare you for the "spring" when this season of life is over. And realize that you can't rush God just like you can't rush winter to end. He knows what all needs to happen before your next season comes. Ask Him to reveal what this season is accomplishing. Try to see it through His eyes. I bet it won't make it look so daunting. But know that this season will pass...and the things that God is going to do with it will make it not seem so bad when "spring" rolls around. Just make the best of today wherever you are at...and try to look forward to "tomorrow". God has great things coming.

"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3

My "spring" post coming soon...stay tuned...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Getting My Joy Back

Sadly as I look back over the past 5 years or so, I really seemed to waste a lot of time trying to find joy in all the wrong places. Because of depression, anxiety, losing myself in my kids and family responsibilites and just going through the motions after a while, I had just lost my joy altogether and really couldn't find it consistently anymore. Yet there was still this deep longing for that joy to return. I just didn't know how to get it back.
I haven't talked about this much with many people but the only thing for a very long time that I could remember feeling true joy and fulfillment from was when I was pregnant and when my children were born. Therefore, my longing for more children would never go away, even after my 3rd child. Up until a few months ago, I wanted a 4th child pretty badly, but couldn't really figure out why. I had really lost that ability to find joy in my life outside of the idea of carrying and bringing another child into the world. Even raising my kids wasn't bringing any joy to me like I'd always hoped. It was a duty that turned into a daunting task each and every day because I truly felt I was a big failure daily with this job, as I know many parents feel, and it was zapping any joy I could find from my children sadly. They were just exposing my weaknesses and that didn't feel good. And of course there was always this voice that said I was nuts for wanting more kids because i could hardly take care of the ones I had without being a neurotic mess most of the time. But I still couldn't make the desire for more kids to go away. And I knew that desire was coming from a lack of something deeper.
I have maintained a relationship with God all this time even yet I still wasn't satisfied. I mean the Bible says that He is the one who satisfies our deepest longings, but I wasn't feelin' it still.

Well over the past several months, God has been unleashing some things in my heart that have allowed this longing to finally start being fulfilled. He has given me a world of things around me to enjoy and be filled by. I have been challenged to really list what these things are and recognize them as gifst from God. I think He tries to fulfill us in ways beyond our recognition sometimes. And as I have been recognizing these things, it has revealed to me that there has been a joy-filled life here for the taking each and every day of my life that I have been missing out on because I had that "grass is always greener" mentality all this time. Now I just have to choose to recognize that it's here...now...and to let my life be full...now...right where God has me. My dad used to say all the time to look for God's fingerprints everywhere you go. And that is just what I've been doing. And you don't have to look far. This is that "taking God outside of the box" mentality too. He's EVERYWHERE if you just look for Him.
So I'm gonna get even more personal and list some things that have been restoring my joy each day. Notice they don't have to be BIG or expensive or life-altering. Many are small things but that fill my heart up immediately if I just soak in the moment.

1. The freedom to pray and read the Word anytime
2. My kids' laughter
3. Hugs and kisses from my kids
4. hot baths (I just had to put this one in)
5. My husband's companionship and love for me
6. Serving my husband selflessly
7. Serving my kids their favorite meal and seeing the smiles on their faces
7. Dancing for fun
8. Worship music
9. Sunny 70 degree days
10. Speaking a word of encouragement to someone
11. The privelege of being at home full time
12. new opportunities to share Christ with others

These are just some of the things that I've found that I've taken for granted too long. But if I choose to see them all as gifts from God, my whole perspective changes. Do you realize that all of these things don't cost a dime (well I guess we could get technical about that baths..ha). And do you notice some things even involve giving out to others? Giving out I've found can be the most fulfilling if my heart and motives are in the right place.

Well, there you have it. Some improvements being made in Bethany's life. And God is behind it all. Just like we love to see our children filled with joy, he wants the same for me. That alone brings me joy.

What would your list look like? What things can you find joy in again? You dont' have to look far. It's all around you for the taking.

Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.