Sunday, May 23, 2010


One of my favorite songs ever! God gave this to me today as I was praying through some 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 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 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!