Friday, December 3, 2010

The Dance of the Heart

I hated middle school dances. I remember that Campbell's soup commercial of the gawky redhead coming in from a dance and crying because she didn't get asked to dance and her mom fed her soup.  Do you think that's maybe when her food issues began?  I could totally relate to that commercial.  

High school came along and the braces and glasses came off.  I went to a dance with great fear and trepidation due to the middle school trauma.  Babyface came on and life got better when my 3rd grade crush asked me to dance.  No Campbell's soup for me that night.  Just a heart to heart with Be Frie Anne.  
 
Ironically my most memorable class in college was Dr. Key's ballroom dance shindig.  Adam White was my partner and we Fox trotted, Cha Cha Cha'd, Waltzed, and Boot Scooted with the best of 'em.  Dr. Key also taught my tennis class which would be anothe blog entirely.  Anyway, one struggle I had was to let go and trust Adam to lead.  Sometimes, especially in the beginning, I would be mannequin-like and hold back because I didn't want to mess up.  Not surprisingly this is when I would "mess up". 


I write all of this because once again I find myself in a dance of my own.  It's a dance I hear over and over as I hand my sister, friends and my sweet college girls kleenex after kleenex.  As an aside, Kleenex needs to pay my salary for the next year.  The tears I hear are about longing and being ashamed that they have longing for relationship. Longing they try to keep hidden because of every single book or tv show we read about playing hard to get or fear of looking like Josie Grossie in the movie, "Never Been Kissed".   I'm on a rampage to end the statement, "I just need to learn to be content."  Hear me out here  I'm not saying to not be content, but what I am saying is, "DO NOT KILL DESIRE!!  You are not a Buddhist."  Being content is different than killing desire.  We don't know how to live with longing, therefore any hint of unmet longing we think is bad when in all actuality it is an invitation to lean into the Father.  Take John 11 for example.  (Thank you, Phillip!!)  It's a familiar story about Mary and Martha and the death of their brother Lazarus.  They called for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus, but Jesus waited and Lazarus died.  When Jesus finally came to them Martha greeted him in Martha-like fashion and said, "If you had been here our brother would not have died."  Right before that the text says that Jesus loved Martha....She was honest and He responded to her.  What I had never realized before is that Mary said the EXACT same phrase as Martha, but her heart was broken and she wept at Jesus' feet.  Jesus was moved by Mary.  I know I'm taking some liberty here, but what I see is one who kept her heart a little more at bay, and one who said the exact same words, but her heart was dancing toward Jesus even in her pain.  And He was moved. 

I'm wondering also what "the dance" is like for men.  My friend Eric when talking with me about women alwasy refers to us as "your people".  I wonder what "your people" dance to.  Do you make a silent vow to play it safe or be passive?  Is it more similar to the dance that women dance than "my people" would think???  Throw me a bone here.  I really want to understand.

I've been in a process of wanting to dance freely.  I'm not very coordinated and sometimes I am like Martha or those early middle school days, but I'm seeing more and more of a desire to live (in the words of Misty Edwards) "arms wide open, a heart exposed" because that feels like faith to me....an invitation.  I hope you will be persuaded to join me in the dance..........

"I'm restless 'til I rest in You."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

IS JESUS THE PRIZE?

Do I really believe it?  Is Jesus truly the prize? Or do I see him as a means to an end?  What kind of "end" am I running after?  Remember that old quote that said something to the effect of, "He who dies with the most toys wins"?  I can look at ways I've missed the mark, but let's be honest - most of us fall on one side or the other - either we focus so much on our failure, or we don't look at ourselves at all.  I'm learning to look to the Cross and there I find perspective and gratitude.  It is at the foot of the Cross where I lose my life only to find it becoming a little bit more hidden in my Father.  Such a journey.....but the journey is my own. It's me and Jesus.  No one else will ever walk the same road and no one will have the same conversations that you and I have on an individual basis with Christ.  Isn't that amazing?

I just got home from a wedding of a dear friend.  Another Beth.  Jesus truly is my friends prize which is why it was so fun to watch her marry Marten.  Marten wasn't the prize, even though he is great.  My friend let's others off the hook, so to speak, because she doesn't demand from others or from Marten what he cannot and should not give.  Her prize is Christ.

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus

Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos and confusion
I know you're sovereign still

In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do your will

When you call I won't delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus

All my delight is in you Lord
All of my hope
All of my strength
All my delight is in you Lord
Forevermore
There is no one else for me
None but Jesus

My hero, Larry Crabb, wrote, "I'm troubled by how unquestioningly we live out our determination to make this life work.  All our hopes for happiness are bound up in it.  It's as if we believe this is the only world we ever plan to inhabit."   I struggle with this greatly.  I look all around me at brokenness and heartbreak - friends marriages falling apart, family members heartbreaks, the battle for life of a new friend, loss of support for many fellow CCC staff friends, single moms and dads working hard, others praying through adopting special needs children, and the list goes on, but Jesus calls us to the foot of the Cross where grace meets our pain and suffering and where we see just how much that he not only understands, but where he experienced all of it at one time.  He is not a God who is far off, but who is very near. 

Oh friends, He is our prize.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

80's Hair Band Kinda Day

I only wish my hair had looked this good when I woke up this morning.  Do you ever get to the end of the day and think, "Is this my life for real?"  Today was one of those days. Well, it started out with me resembling the band Def Leppard. I actually have curly hair and decided to wash it before I went to bed.  See picture below and take a vote on which band member you think I most resembled at 6:43AM this morning.  Fabulous prizes will be awarded to the winner.  I think I have a Justin Bieber poster in my closet and a life sized cardboard cutout of Jesus. Your pick. 

 So here I am decompressing from a day of school and decided to look through my old cd's and low and behold here is a classic from high school days.  Doug Stone.  Pause for dramatic effect.  Anyway, I just popped in old Dougie and started playing track #3 called, "In A Different Light".  Long story short, he is basically saying he is in love with this girl who works in his office, but she is homely and other dude's don't notice her 'cause she wears a bun and glasses. Well, every female cast member on Little House on the Prairie is basically doomed unless Doug Stone comes along and saves the day.

If you picked the two on the right then you win. Ironically if you pull out my high school yearbook this is what the majority of us looked like. Who set this trend? It was a BAD one. Debbie Gibson and Tiffany rocked it with the addition of the black hat. My friend Christie and I bought the black hat and shared it.  We took turns wearing it on pep rally days.  We were that cool.


I guess I have been a bit nostalgic today.  I think it is good to remember.  Two years ago I studied the book of Joshua with my senior girls.  We talked a lot about stones of remembrance that the Israelites took from the Jordan river as they crossed into the Promised Land.  God knows how easily we forget His faithfulness to us, so he challenged the Israelites to build a place of remembrance so they could bring their children and their children's children back and retell the story of what God had done.  So I started this tradition of gathering stones and rocks and putting them in a vase periodically to give praise for God's faithfulness in my life and in the lives of those that I love.  I shared with my cousin Ami the other day that gratitude and perspective are powerful.  Reflecting on God's faithfulness is powerful because it makes me grateful and puts life in perspective.  What are your stones of remembrance? 

So glad to journey with you.
Beth


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Healing Is In Your Hands

I've been talking to God a lot about healing.  After twelve years of sitting across from college women who have wounds that run deep I began to wrestle with what healing looked like. Being in school for counseling and having studied so many disorders and dysfunctions that appear hopeless has challenged me.  I guess it boils down to this.....if I do not believe that God can heal us no matter the affliction, addiction, loss, or the affect of someone else's decisions on our life then I think I would just go crawl in a hole somewhere and pray for Jesus to come back now.  However I believe He wants his kingdom to break forth here on earth through you and me.  I never really understood what "His Kingdom come" meant and was too embarrassed to ask until I heard a message on it a couple of years ago. God desires to make things right is a way to simply state it.  So many things are upside-down and I long to have him come set things in place and to allow his kingdom to break through in my own life.

I see Him doing this more and more. God allowed me the privilege of seeing a process of healing this summer when my cousin prayed over someone who had back problems.  I saw with my own eyes this friend's leg grow.  I do not think I will forget this for as long as I am alive.  Jesus used this to awaken something in me that had been dormant.  He has offered me an invitation to live with my heart fully alive to him and to continue to allow him to write a better story than I would ever write for myself.  Because God has wired me with curiosity and a voracious love for asking questions, I'd love to ask you two.....1.  What makes your heart come alive?  Be specific.  2.  What area of your life do you desire healing in?  Do we not pray for healing because we do not want to be disappointed?  Feel free to email me as some of your responses might be private.  Beth.Wayland@uscm.org  Thanks for being on the journey with me.

Beth

P.S.  I realize I did not talk about what happens when we feel that God did not heal in the way we had hoped.....I feel another blog coming on about that one.....

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Little Encouragement and Coaching....

I love the body of Christ. There’s nothing more beautiful and yet painful than living in community. Just ask my past roommates. I made a statement to a friend this past summer as I was living in a 1 bedroom apartment with three other people, “Everything in the world is coming out of me.” Call it sin or maybe it was the fact that we are in our 30’s sleeping in bunk beds, I don’t know. So I have been feeling this post coming on for a couple of years now and was inspired to go ahead and write it, even at the expense of being misunderstood. How should the Church interact with those of us who are unattached (aka: SINGLE)? I realize we could all post something on here about how we could respond to mom’s, married without kid’s, the elderly, divorcee’s, widows, but because I am unattached, I feel a little more qualified to share my angle with the hope that it will be an encouragement.


While I am unattached at the moment (okay, so I looked up “single” in the thesaurus and it is way depressing – words like “solitary, on its own, lone, solo, only” came up), I wanted to document a few common ways of relating that we unattached people have to deal with weekly.

1. When making announcements at church for the big picnic, instead of saying, “Every family bring a dish”, you could rephrase it to, “Everyone come to the picnic and bring your favorite dish.” It really is the small things that we appreciate.

2. There are two churches that I loved, but I did not go back because you are invited to come to the front “as a family” and take communion. Well, let’s be honest, when visiting a church for the first time I felt….let’s see, how do I say this? NAKED. Please don’t get me wrong, this was/is a beautiful thing, just makes it really difficult to know what to do in that moment.

3. If you are curious about someone’s single status just ask them, “Do you want to be married or do you like the single life?” or my personal favorite, “Is it hard to meet men who aren’t socially awkward and don’t wear white socks with black shoes?”

4. Whatever you do, please do not say, “When you stop looking for him, that’s when you will find him.” That doesn’t even make sense. Am I supposed to go blind? Walk around with my head down? Also avoid, “When I finally became content (at the age of 21) that’s when God brought McDreamy into my life.” I love that I just did spell-check on “McDreamy” and the option was “Creamy”.

5. Thank you for praying for us, cheering us on, and empathizing with us that dating is exhausting. Thank you for listening to our same prayer requests for years on end. On a side note, I’d love to write a blog on “unspoken prayer requests”.

6. If you want to set up your single friend, would you please think through their personalities, calling, and interests? Setting us up because I am the one single girl you know and he is the one single guy you know does not a match make. We love that you are even thinking of us, but I have a nightmare story on this one. It involves my mother, large gold chain, Beavis and Butthead, an election year, and an ex-body builder. ‘Nuf said.

7. Thank you for being honest about the struggles in your own life and saying, “Sometimes it would be nice to be single.” It helps all of us with our perspective. The grass is not always greener.

8. When inviting us to your wedding, it is so kind to allow us the courtesy of bringing a date. Not that I would, but just the option shows such empathy and that you value our friendship over your budget. Heck, I’ll give you $27.50 in order to bring someone, or tell him not to eat.

9. After you are married, would you remember what it was like being single and not talk to us as if we are still sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving?

10. Thank you so much for the times you include us in your family activities and treat us like family. I love the scripture Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families…”

11. Please keep telling us how great we are and that some guy is an idiot for not snatching us up. 

Hope this is helpful. I really mean it with as much kindness as I can extend through a blog to the 8 people who might read it. Pass it on if you feel like it might help those who really want to encourage those of us walking this road “solo”.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eclectic

Well, mission accomplished. When you ask God for good stories, I think He really likes to answer that request. Let me share a few with you. The first being why I went to The Today Show. My grad school had a desire to get the word out about our school, being that we are small and all they do is train therapists. The school, Richmont Graduate University truly is a unique and incredible school where we get to be taught by the best in the field of integration - Phillip Coyle, Gary Moon, Marty Goehring, Jeff Eckert, Larry Crabb, Dr. Tan, Cara Cochran, and the list goes on and on.....Am I proud? Yes. Which is why I wanted to take part in the challenge given to any Richmont student who made a youtube video promoting the school. For every 5,000 hits on the video, Richmont will pay for a class. I need help. As you now, CCC staff members raise their own financial support and currently my support can't sustain grad school bills. So, here's the link on my visit to The Today Show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq3PObD6JQQ If I get 70,000 hits, I believe that will pay for my school.

Anyway, as you can see from the following picture, I was interviewed on camera for about 30 seconds and gave a big plug for Richmont. Some kind soul in Chicago had pity on me and donated $10 to my school "for the girl on The Today Show". Hilarious. A great story. By the way, Ann Curry is the nicest lady and very pretty. She told us she had on 12 cans of frosting on her face. Also, Stephanie Abrams is now my hero. She was the weather lady filling in for Al Roker that day. PTL for Stephanie, my new BFF. My dad said he'd be forever grateful for Stephanie Abrams. I'd say that's right. And in case you didn't notice, I'm wearing that ridiculous graduation cap for the whole world to see. It's amazing the levels you will stoop to to get tuition. I mean, every ex-boyfriend, mean girl in middle school, and past student had a good laugh over that one, myself included. Who does that? Well, I do and I did.

Probably the biggest highlight of my summer would be when my cousin Ami and her friend Anda came to visit and to spend some time with my staff mom friends on the project. Somehow Haley and myself wound up working and loving on the mom's this summer which I thought was hilarious and only a God-thing since I am unattached (sounds better than "single") and have no spawn. Just some really great shoes and fun friends. I digress... Anyway, Ami and Anda spent time not just praying for the mama's, but for several of us that are free and unattached. Being around them made me want more of Jesus.

In this picture we are eating Ethiopian food. Imagine if you will, large platters of colorful food that you eat communaly with your hands. A nightmare for some of us and a party for others. It tasted fine, but probably will pick Panera over Ethiopian food most days of the week. However, the goal was to "expand the borders" if you will, of our staff and students in regard to eating food of different cultures. We had Senegalese, Cuban, Ethiopian, and Haitian. The years Chad McGhee and I led the project our cultural food nights were soul food, Italian, Chinese, and Indian. hahaha!!
I shamelessly tried to do everything in my power to meet Tom. Brokaw, that is. I drug Haley with me to the NBC Studio Tour and pestered the tour guide with questions about Tommy B. He had never seen him and tried to talk to me about Brian Williams, but I wasn't having it. Sigh. One day I will interview him. If you watch the youtube video you will see my last ditch effort to connect with the elusive anchor.


Here Haley is reminding me of my need for lipstick before we start the tour and I run into people who will make my dreams come true - aka: Today Show producers who discover my raw and undiscovered anchorwoman talent or the casting director for SNL needing someone to impersonate Eddie Murphy doing Buckwheat. Unce, Tice, Fee tines a mady.
We didn't meet anyone. Maybe I should've stuck with my Berry Berry shade of Clinique instead of MAC. Next time.
So all of this brings me back to Knoxville with a desire to be part of a greater story than the one I was living. People can have all sorts of opinions on Donald Miller, but he wrote an incredible book called, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" that is a great read. It's all about our story being God's story......Anyway, that's a little fun roundup of some things that happened this summer. Maybe one day soon I'll write a more serious blog, but those aren't as fun to read, are they? Okay, off to click on youtube 66,000 more times.
Bdubs

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Haley

I can't believe it's my last night in NYC. The past 7 weeks have flown by and I head home tomorrow. Right now I should be cleaning our nasty apartment and packing, but I am a bit sad as I think about another transition.

Seven years ago I met Haley. Haley was assigned to UT as one of our new staff members. Fresh out of college, Haley was eager to get started in campus ministry and to invest in the lives of other women. I was her "boss", so to speak. We went through lots of adjustment with her being new staff and desiring to be a peer, and I being 6 years older and her mentor led to some challening and yet stretching (in a good way) dynamics, conflict, and growth.

In 2006 I began to see that Haley needed to be in leadership position and so we began talking about what that could look like. It was during this time that Haley's family died tragically in a plane crash and honestly, there are no words to describe what that journey has been like with her and just too sacred to write about in a blog. I started a book on it awhile back and maybe one day I will share it, but I see I have digressed...

Tonight marks a big transition in my sister/friend's life. This was her last summer project, and God was sweet to put us together for this oh so redemptive summer. She will be going to seminary in the fall, which I couldn't be more thrilled about, but selfishly I am going to miss her terribly. God has been so kind to give us a lighthearted and hilarious summer after some hard seasons in our frienship. We have laughed so hard. Gone to the curly girls salon, which has changed our life....well okay, not our life, but for sure our hair. We've seen NKOTB. Haley helped organize the Today Show deal this morning and she doesn't like to get up before 10AM. Here is where she would insert, "Beth, people will think I am lazy." She is not. The girl just likes her sleep and this is a perk of singleness and being childless. We've walked through Central Park, interceded for one another, gone to Macy's 20x's, ventured to Soho time and again in hopes of finding the perfect restaurant only to be bummed out, we've walked the Brooklyn Bridge, dodged bicylists, gotten sketchy massages by old Korean women (more details in person), gotten lost in Queens, drooled over the same waiter who was a Versace model, had conflict-resolution at the Rascal Flatts concert on the Today Show, loved on the Mama's even though we are 2 single women, had a bathtub that was like a wave pool with brown water, fussed over her 1950's alarm clock, watched in shock as 200 naked bikers rode down the street, put on the lb's with NYC's food and vowed together that our diet starts tomorrow.....oh the list goes on.

Dearest friend, this blog doesn't even begin to describe our journey of friendship. I will miss you so much as I miss my sidekick at the MTL conference. Who am I going to text my commentary to? I will miss you at Regional Staff Conference laughing the loudest at my attempts to be funny emceeing because you are my biggest cheerleader. I will miss that like me, you didn't bring a snack either. I will miss you at CSU as it can be the loneliest place on the planet.

Even though I am sad that this season of life is changing for you, I am equally as excited and anticipatory for "what's next". And just betwee you and me, I believe wholeheartedly it will involve laughter and a lion.

I love you friend of my heart.

Bdubs

Sunday, June 20, 2010

NKOTB!!

video

One of my favorite things about my job is summer project. The last week and a half the staff have been preparing for the students' arrival and have had some fun along the way. The Today Show, NKOTB, a Patty Griffin & Buddy Miller concert, Tim Keller preaching at Redeemer, bonding with the team in Little Italy, meeting our students on Tuesday and praying for a great summer.

Tomorrow will be our first day out on the campuses around the city. We would be so grateful for your prayers as we talk with students about where they are on their spiritual journey. Thanks so much!!

Beth

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Start Spreadin' the News....I'm leaving Tuesday....

I'm leaving on Tuesday to spend my 3rd summer in the greatest city on Earth.....New York. The joys of working with a campus ministry comes in many forms, one being how I get to spend my summers. I've been to Russia, Santa Cruz, CA, Gatlinburg, Daytona, Orlando, Ft. Collins, Colorado, Clearhotter, FL, and now....NYC. There are 104 campuses in the NYC area and so few of them have any kind of Christian presence. So, a team of college students and staff will try to help the NYC staff team launch new ministries on some of the key campuses. We would covet your prayers.

So, here are a few reasons why I love NYC and why you should visit this glorious city. A NYC staff member, Ross, made a statement about why come to the city (Ross, I'm paraphrasing), "For all of you who want to get away in nature just to be with God, come to the city. God made people and that is His greatest creation, so come to the city." Yes, please. I think I will. So without further delay, here is my fave things list in photo and brilliant commentary on NYC.


1. No lhama's. NYC is lhama-free the last time I checked. However, I would not be surprised for someone to tell me that they saw a lhama walking to Macy's to check out the new fur coat collection. NYC has it all and they discriminate against no one, unless you are from Boston.
2. The skyline.
Seriously people, do I need to say more? Probably the most recognized skyline in the world.
3. The man. The journalist. The best. Tommy B. NYC boasts this famous resident and my goal this summer is to meet and interview him. We'll keep ya posted on this one. However you might find me with a sign outside of the Today show studios every Friday morning this summer with the concert series. I will say in a non-creepy-ish way to Matt Lauer my desire to meet Tommy B. and can he make that happen. I will then slip a crisp $5 into his hand (he needs the money) to make it happen


4. Um, yes this is my address.


5. Only in NYC can you make BFF's on the subway ride home from Flushing. I was trying to talk to him about llhama's and Tommy B. and he was overcome with emotion that he fell asleep.




6. Only in NYC can a 5'5" (never know where to put the " and ' and I'm in grad school) red-head do a photoshoot on a ferry for America's Next Top Southern Model. IT didn't go quite as planned since my hair kept getting stuck in my lip gloss.


7. When you arrive in the city, these people line the sidewalks and cheer for you. Kinda like the great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before you.


8. Only in Washington Square Park (by NYC) can you share Christ with a man who has a hand puppet. We didn't know whether to talk to the man or the puppet.



9. City College. I loved working on this campus. Isn't it beautiful?

10. My best friend Lindsey Lohan visits the city. She has a new collection of ankle bracelets out that I'm hoping to talk with her about.

Just think, another adventure starts on Tuesday. On a serious note, God has brought the world to our door in NYC. It is always difficult for me to come home to Tennessee at the end of the summer. When I think about standing before Jesus in Heaven, I think about all the cultures of the world standing there with me, praising Him in every tongue. So, here's to you, Jesus. Thanks in advance for writing another great chapter in my life this summer. You know that I love a good story and could never be okay with normal.









Friday, May 21, 2010

Legacy

My feisty 85-year old Mamaw passed away on Saturday, May 15th. She would've turned 86 on Saturday (22nd). She was my last living grandparent. One of the main reasons I moved to Knoxville in 2002 was to be near Mamaw and Papaw. Papaw passed away 2 1/2 years ago and we had to move Mamaw to Kingsport so my Dad, stepmother, and sister could care for her. She had alzheimers, otherwise known as, "The Long Goodbye" disease.

Not many people have the joy of having their grandparents in their lives until the age of 35 and 37 like my sister, Maria and I have had. Mamaw and Papaw weren't just the grandparents we saw on Christmas and once during the summer, but the grandparents who were actively involved in our lives.

They, along with my dad and stepmother would take us (along with our cousin Natalie) to Florida, Disneyworld, Myrtle Beach, Opryland, and a lot of other places, but the place I cherished most was their home in north Knoxville. There's just something magical about grandparents homes.

My Mamaw and Papaw Payne's (mom's parents) home also had this effect on me. Sunrooms, great big closets, claw foot tubs, sunny, yellow kitchen where Mamaw let us drink out of the dipper, keyholes to peep through on the door that went down to the basement, and a Mamaw that would let us ring the big bell to wake everyone up for breakfast.

Maria told me about a song recently called, "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert. We cannot listen to this song without crying because it reminds us of our grandparents and the impact the four of them have had on our lives.

We would go to Knoxville just about every other weekend of my childhood. There were some things we'd know for sure. Mamaw would have a red velvet cake in which my sister and I would fight over the corner pieces. She would also make us homemade biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Daddy and Papaw would go to the football games and Mamaw either took us to the mall or she would be stuck with us watching the same movies over and over - Swiss Family Robinson, Annie, Jaws, and Pete's Dragon. A fave memory was of her taking us to see, "Return of the Jedi" in which she fell asleep. She loved us with her baking and with her time.

Mamaw cleaned our ears rather painfully, and brushed our hair rather painfully, but she loved us well. My sister and Mamaw are so much alike it is uncanny, while I am more like my Papaw. I loved their imprint on our lives. As I was listening to the preacher at Papaw's funeral, and again at Mamaw's on Monday, I was overwhelmed with the weight of continuing a spiritual and Godly legacy. Harold and Mary (don't you love their names?) were married for 63 years and were the epitome of consistent. Often I would get up in the morning and see Papaw at the table pouring over the Bible and his sunday school lessons. Mamaw served in the nursery for 50 years. I thought to myself, "I make this too complicated." I worry about "calling" and doing great things for Jesus, but in reality, I just desire to walk with Him daily.

My friend Darren uses a phrase over and over, "simplicity and purity of devotion". I love this. I believe this is how my grandparents walked with Jesus....with simplicity and purity of devotion.

Thanks for remembering and honoring Harold, Mary, Bill and Millie by reading this blog today. I'd love to hear about your grandparents home or your favorite memory with your grandparents.

Love,
Beth

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring has SPRUNG!

One should never blog when they are tired and just finished watching Glee. I love Glee. I sometimes like to pretend that I am Rachel and back in high school. There are a few differences though. I cannot sing well AND I have been out of high school for a LONG time AND I have no desire to relive high school. Some people are still stuck in their glory days of high school. I am also pretty sure that Rachel would not wear Ann Taylor Loft clothes or Target jewelry, but I do think she would love my new shoes.

OH what a month it has been. In just a month's time I won the lottery, hiked Mt. Everest, recorded a duet with Celine, taught a conference with Beth Moore, filmed a movie, ran a marathon, found a cure for cancer, and in my spare time single-handedly ended poverty, abuse, and oppression. What have you done?

Before I went on medical leave in February, I somehow thought I was needed. Important. I don't think I consciously thought that, but it's amazing what can surface when you take a step back from life as you have known it for the past five years. Being busy, doing the right things and things you love can sometimes keep you from understanding and receiving His love for us. At least that's my story. Jesus has/is been/being so kind to me as he gently presses his finger on some areas of my life as if he is saying, "Beth, let's do life differently. Let me teach you to live simply, freely, and out of being rooted in Me, not out of expectation, chaos, busyness, good things that demand your time, and ministry."

As The Message states in Matthew 11 28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Now that I've taken a step back I am terrified to re-enter life as I used to know it, because reality is that I don't want to. Not one ounce of me wants to go back to having no time for my family, being exhausted, sounding like a broken record because all I say is, "I'm tired.", putting ministry first, saying "yes" to a lot of good things, but not what is best. Why is it so difficult to just BE for a time? It is so counter-cultural. Everything in me says, "It is better to be doing than to just BE before the Lord."

My friend Philip introduced me to this great book called, "A TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION" by Thomas Kelly. Kelly gives language to what I am still trying to solidify. Here he says, "This amazing simplification comes when we 'center down' when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to Him. Some of you know this holy, recreating Center of eternal peace and joy and live in it day and night. Some of you may see it over the margin and wistfully long to slip into that amazing Center where the soul is at home with God. Be very faithful to that wistful longing. It is the Eternal Goodness calling you to return Home, to feed upon green pastures and walk beside still waters and live in the peace of the Shepherd's presence. It is the life beyond fevered strain."

Desiring to walk beyond fevered strain,
Beth

Monday, March 22, 2010

A New Day....(thank you, Celine)

So reality finally hit me tonight that I am no longer the director at UT. God has been leading me elsewhere for awhile now and it is time to pass the baton to the new director. Someone I know and trust...someone who loves and will love UT as much as I do. Tonight I wanted to reflect on my 8 years here since I'm feeling quite pensive and reflective.

Year 1 - 2002/2003
Started the year with Hank, Eric, and Darren. Matt and Jill came a little later. We were a new team and bonded instantly. I loved being under Hank's leadership and then leading with him. The students didn't quite know what to think of us, but they were hilarious and the "hippest" I had been around. My first bible study had 15 women and they were quite a mixed bunch that didn't quite know what to do with me....especially when I made them play an embarrassing game for our first bible study time. That year I bonded with Heather Depriest, Becca Umstot, Erica Butler, Sarah West, Sara Scribner, Lane Faulkner, Katie Harvey (remember Kenny Chesney?), Laura Winn, Bekah Emerling, Kristina Weber, Nancy Simmons, Crystal Shields, Brad Crawford. I met the fab Tiffany Hughes and Valerie Wilkins this year as well. This was also the year Lacy came to Christ at campus time of Winter Conference.

Year 2 2003/2004
This was my toughest year on staff. We had a challenging year with students really challenging decisions and the character of our team. I loved leading with Hank. I wanted to peace out, but I didn't. I grew closer to Scribby, Becca, and Sarah and started a freshmen group with Holly Dagnan, Kristen and Stephanie Arms, Leah Jones, Brittney Kidd, Amanda Sharpe, and Brad Crawford. A girl named Sarah came to Christ after bringing her family to an outreach where they received Christ.

Haley joined our team and added another girl. This is when the alliance started of Eric, Darren, Haley, and myself. We started watching Survivor after every CRU - a tradition that continued until the mass Exodus in 2007/2008. This is also the year that Eric dressed up like Chad McGhee and Darren like Kenny Chesney for my birthday. That medium gray tshirt Eric wore will never be the same.

Year 3 2004/2005
This was a fun year....still leading with Hank. Lauren Bradshaw, Reece, Meg, Julie, Shelley Long , Erin, Alisha, joined the mix. This is when th e girls would go to my house while I was out-of-town (every girl had a key to my house) and take pictures of themselves in that old nasty wedding dress I had from my broken engagement. They were hilarious. Also had to have numerous talks with Bradshaw over her wanting to drop hints to Jared to propose. Love you friend!! Hung out some with Anna Dukes and Jenny Wallace. Dara Lynn joined the team at the end of this year and was so much fun. It's late and I'm writing for memory, so forgive me if I leave your name out. This might've been when Brad and I fished out a toilet seat wheelchair from the Kroger dumpster (on Broadway) and put it on Darren's car. OH, Brad Crawford.

Year 4 2005/2006
I got mono. Fell in love with NYC. Still leading with Hank. Added a few fun ones to the mix. Leellen, Laura, Mariruth, Meghan. Tiffany interned!! Brad Crawford.

Year 5 2006/2007
Haley's family passed away and I inherited her women for a season.....25 girls in bible study. Tough, tough year. Lots of traveling with Haley as she dealt with grief, estate stuff, and family visits. Crawled through this year. Sweet Reece interned and was a trooper. I was leading with Hank and he carried the weight of the ministry pretty much by himself as I was walking with Haley through this season.

Year 6 2007/2008
I've loved all my bible studies, but this group was unique from the start for me. I've never had a bible study that BECAME as transparent and honest as this one. Rachel, Laura, Lauren, Rachel, Sara, Caroline, JEssica, Frankie, Kayla, Becca, Amy, Michelle, Carrie, Ashley, Leigh. http://www.overbayphotography.net/Slideshows/BethsBibleStudy/
I prayed from day one that I set foot on campus that UT would become a sending campus for women. In my 8 years I have seen that happen. 5 of these women are with CCC now, but almost all of the women I've had the blessed opportunity to know are walking with Jesus and impacting their families, coworkers, children, etc.

Year 7 2008/2009
Alot like year 6 except I began leading with Britton. Britton brough so much organization and took the weight of administration off my shoulders and brought creativity to CRU. He challenged me to walk by faith. This was also the year of saying "bye" to these dear women and to Eden. Lindsey joined our team this year and brought so much life to our team and became such a friend to me.

Year 8 2009/2010
Still writing this story, but transitioning out of my role and full-time assignment here. Have been so weepy tonight as I think about God's faithfulness and my love for UT. This blog is for me....a chance to reflect and think about how many people have come and gone and are walking with Him. Thank you for trusting me, sharing your life, and for making me love Jesus more. My time at UT wouldn't be complete without each one of you.

Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet home to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Say "NO" to Catfish and Cookies

Well, take a look at little Timmy here. Things could be a lot worse. Okay, so here's my update. For my dear supporters, you should be receiving my newsletter in a day or two. If you are one of my precious women at UT, this will explain a little more about my transition and why you haven't seen me as much the past month.



Hoping For A Season of Change, Restoration, and Healing

There have been a lot of changes taking place in my life and it wasn’t until a few days ago that they were somewhat solidified, at least for the next couple of months.

In an effort to not bore you with long, drawn out details of my health, I will try to share briefly, and if you would like to know more then I would be glad to share. For about four years I have wrestled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but recently I had more blood work done that showed 6 other things that need to be addressed and the issues are serious enough that they are warranting at least a two month medical leave of absence. What this means is that I will still be going to grad school and working on campus part-time. I just need time to get well, make some lifestyle changes, see doctors, and heal.

Prior to the health alert, I had decided it was time for me to step down as the director at UT. I felt, and still feel, that God is leading me to narrow my focus on shepherding and caring for people in the ministry of Campus Crusade. While I will still shepherd, equip, and train our staff here at UT to go after the 35,000 students, faculty, and staff, I will also be traveling more to other campuses to help them do the same thing.
To be completely transparent, while I am grateful to finally know what is going on health wise, I am completely overwhelmed and somewhat blue at different times during the day. I have loved being the director at UT for the past 8 years, and to let that go is an act of obedience to the Lord leading me in another direction, but it is hard. I know this blog is about as uplifting as a root canal, but at least I'm not as depressed as little Timmy in the picture.
On a funny and irritable note, I received my treatment plan today from the doctor who is working with me. Due to there being so many issues to address, part of the plan includes a drastic change in diet and I mean DRASTIC. If you know me I am a major BAKER. I love it. NEVER HAVE I EVER CRAVED A CARROT STICK. Apparently my new venacular will include, "Man, I sure am craving a salt-free rice cake with butter."
I seriously have the best friends in the world. I know that's cliche', but it's cliche' for a reason. Anyway, Haley immediately makes me an excel spreadsheet to help me with this new plan. My mom and cousin hop on board this bandwagon too. My sisters cheer for me while I gripe and my stepmother (and wonderful friend) thinks it sounds wonderful, but she's also skinny and healthy. My sweet Daddy empathizes with the loss of chocolate. Chocolate and I are having a funeral and I will be receiving friends all day, every day for the next three months.
Thanks for humoring my grouchiness and griping. I am only allowing myself to do this for tonight and tonight only. Please hear me when I say that all of this is such a small thing compared to what some are walking through. I realize that, which is why I have been hesitant to share my own stuff, but some have noticed my absence and I wanted to explain why.
One thing I keep coming back to is out of Brennan Manning's new book, "The Furious Longing of God" where he challenged someone to go before the Father every day and say, "Abba, I belong to You."
Walking By Faith,
Beth

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh, Canada.

Dear Canada,

I think you are a lovely country, however I have a few bones to pick with you.
No offense, my dad took me to an Anne Murray concert in 3rd grade and I like her rendition of the Tennessee Waltz just as much as the next redneck, but where is Celine Dion
in these Olympic opening ceremonies?

I keep waiting with anticipation for my musical hero to arrive and time and again I am greeted with a bucket of cold water on my face (aka: KD Lang). Someone give me the Canadian DIVA and a hearty, "Power of Love" as Celine runs into the stadium in her stilettos with the torch?

OH CANADA!!! How could you not esteem the greatest assett in your country next to Alex Trebek and Michael J. Fox???????????????

An Angry American,
Beth

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time In Between

My friend Kristen texted me the title of this song and I wanted to share it with you. You can download it on itunes.

TIME IN BETWEEN
You were there when your Father said
Let there be lightYou obeyed when He whispered
Son, You have to leave tonight
To spend nine months in a mothers womb
Three days in a borrowed tomb

(Chorus One)But it’s the time in between
That brings me to my knees
Knowing you came for me
And all that I can't beI'm amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between

Don't take much for this crazy world
To rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my soul
Says You’re holding out on me
So I stand here lifting empty hands
For you to fill me up again

(Chorus Two)But it’s the time in between
That I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You'll bring
And the things that I can't see
I know my song’s incomplete
Still I'll sing in the time in between
So many ways Your love has saved the day
And I'm grateful for them all

(Chorus 3)But it’s the time in between
The middle of two thieves
That says everything
It’s the reason I believeI'm amazed, so amazed
And I thank you for the time in between
Oh Lord, I thank you for the time in between

By: Francesca Battistelli

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Parody or Parallel?


Okay, so I'm seeing a trend in my life. About 6 years ago I was sick one weekend and started watching the tv show, "Alias" on dvd. It wasn't long after that I found myself on the internet wondering how someone could work for the CIA.


5 years ago I was sick once again and my friend Amanda rented me a season of "Gilmore Girls" in which I proceeded to watch every season. It wasn't long after that I found myself on the internet applying to culinary school in New England.


2 weeks ago I was iced in and started watching, "Glee" on hulu.com. I keep listening to the soundtrack and thinking, "I could lead a show choir! I'm dramatic and Broadway musicals make me cry (in a good way) unless it's, "Fiddler on the Roof" which is in turn traumatizing."


Anyway, there's something about these shows that make me want to live a fuller life with adventure and story. A story worth watching in a movie theater. This is the premise of a great book I just read by Donald Miller called, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years". God is writing our story, but are we allowing Him to live in us to the fullest to where we live with courage and faith? Even in the mundane things in life, do I ask myself in those moments, "Could I respond differently here or to this person or that situation to make it a better story?" Maybe it's speaking words of life into another person instead of just thinking the words. Maybe it means biking across the country in order to raise awareness about something God has given you a burden for.....I don't know, but what I do know is that God is saying to me, "Beth, I want you to have courage to live a better story." We'll see where this ride takes me....I hope I bump in to many of you along the way.


Beth


Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't Judge Me....:)

It happened again. Every year I vow that I will not get sucked in to watching, "The Bachelor", but it's like a train wreck that you can't take your eyes off of. It's a laboratory for human behavior. Who came up with the idea? You take 25 women and you put them in the absolute worst environment emotionally possible and you sit back with your popcorn and with a pillow closeby just to cover your head because you are so embarrassed for these women. It doesn't help that the token "nutcase" of the season is from my hometown. Oh dear. At least I might have one client when I graduate with my masters in counseling.

So I was thinking. What would it be like to be a Christian and be a contestant on this show? 1. It would never happen, and 2. I'm too prideful. HOWEVER, let's just imagine what it could be like if the contestants were my friends. I imagine it would play out like this.....

My bubbly friend Loveday is the outgoing one. She would hop out of the limo and snag him with a witty comment and a gift to remember her by. Perhaps a little song and dance?

Haley would have her Diet Sundrop in hand and be the cool, laid back friend who took it all in and yet would be picked due to the "mystery".

My friend Beth would play it cool because she is cool, but inside her head would be figuring out his Myers Brigg personality type.

Kristen would be on the show just to commentate on all the dynamics in the room.

Sally (even though now married) would crawl under a table because she was so uncomfortable with how the girls were making fools of themselves.

My little sister would find out if he was financially responsible and if he had any issues.

I would trip.

Here's to another season of train wrecks.

Beth

P.S. I do think I could snag the first impresson rose, though.