Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Emmanuel




Merry Christmas, my friends.  Come sit with me by the manger for a few moments.  Emmanuel - God WITH us. WITH you.  WITH me.  Lord, you have come to dwell with us.  Why on earth (pardon the double entendre’) would you choose to be WITH and to dwell WITH?  This is where my good friend would tell me that I will never have answers to some questions.  It’s part of the mystery of God. I know this is true, but it doesn’t stop the asking.  You can ask God questions one of two ways: 1. Accusatory and hurt with a demand for an answer to somehow make sense of the pain you feel, or 2. You can lean in with your question, yet not demand, but accept mystery. 
I’ve seen Emmanuel in a zillion ways this year.
God WITH my friend Jane in her cancer battle.
God WITH my sister Abby through heart-wrenching loss of her earthly dad.
God WITH my friends in ministry going through financial hardship.
God WITH my friends as they fight for their marriage.
God WITH my friend Megan as she had her first baby after a heartbreaking miscarriage.
God WITH my friend Jenny who had a baby after three late-term miscarriages.
God WITH my friend Chris who is courageously leaving a home and friends and family he loves.
God WITH my friend Darren as he dreamed of a daughter and saw sweet Addie born - what a great dad.
God WITH my friend Jen as she’s walked through loss after loss and still has a soft heart.
God WITH my Dad as he faced some health challenges.
God WITH my dear friend who was suicidal and now lifts her hands in praise for life.
God WITH me as I did one thing after the other this year that scared me.
God WITH me as I sat through about 36 baby and wedding showers.
God WITH me as I closed on a house I didn’t dream possible.
God WITH me in the mystery.
We mean EVERYTHING to Him. 

Lately I’ve been sitting in the chair you see pictured above and the footboard of my bed is right in front of that chair.  I imagine Jesus sitting on that footboard talking with me, listening, caring. Never once have I imagined him as a baby, but the past few days I’ve been captivated with the thought that He came as a baby. Emmanuel.  

Ann Voskamp writes,
Love had to come back for you.  Love had to get to you.  This night, you on
this visited planet, your rescue is here.  You can breathe.  Your God extends
now on straw.  Rejected at the inn, holy God comes in small to where you 
feel rejected and small.  God is with you now.  Come kneel close.  God waits 
for you to draw close.  God waits to be held.  Tonight, at the foot of the cradle
of Christ, like at the foot of the Cross of Christ, there are no big people - no
powerful or proud.  Tonight there are only those who tramp to the manger with 
nothing.  What can all manger tramps do but wrap the vulnerable God in strips of
bare, broken hearts so He can lodge in the intimacy of us?  The greatest Gift laid
into our empty hands……

We come to the manger with questions and leave transformed. Ironically, we probably still don’t have answers, but somehow that’s not as important anymore.  We can’t help but be changed in the presence of a baby.  Just ask any parent about the birth of their child and they will agree.  

Often you will hear me say, “I’m a mess.”  This statement bothers some people.  It scares them. Somehow they think it is self-deprecating and not walking in all that we are.  But I have news for you….we are all a mess.  A glorious mess.  We are so loved. We are so broken. We are so wanted.  So tonight, for just a little while longer, I will in all my glorious mess, sit and talk with this baby - Emmanuel.  God WITH us.




Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent


It's the night before Advent begins.  Growing up as a Southern Baptist, I was unfamiliar with the celebration preceding Christmas.  The richness of Advent is hard to describe - you have to experience it.  What is Advent? It means, "coming or arrival, especially of something or someone extremely important."  I wrote this devotional for my grad school 2 years ago to date and thought I would re-post it since it sums up Advent for me.  I hope you will join me over the next 25 days as we eagerly wait......
Over 400 years had passed since the last words of the prophets had been spoken. No new revelation had been given. Waiting. Watching. Hoping.  When would Messiah come?  Do you think their hope began to wane?  Do you think they questioned whether He would ever come?  Do you think their longing turned to hopelessness or a bitter, questioning heart?  When hope seems elusive, our hearts can despair.  However, imagine a stable, a manger, a baby, our Savior.  I wonder if on the night Messiah was born, the world felt something shift.  The One who would arrive would bring Hope, because Hope is not in things, dreams, wants, and others, HOPE is a Person, the person of Jesus. I encourage you to take a minute and reflect and listen to my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night and think about the significance of that quiet night in Bethlehem when Hope came in the form of a baby.  And tonight, whatever it is you are still waiting for...take courage and look for beauty rising from the ashes.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
 
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
 
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
 
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
 ! 

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
 
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
 
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
 
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
 
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
 
In all our trials born to be our friends.
 
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
 

Truly He taught us to love one another,
 
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
 
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
 
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
 
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
 
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
 
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Untitled - because I don't have a clue how to title what I've written. My guts.

We are on a break. I hope it’s permanent, but I know the heart a little too well. You’d think breaking up with insecurity would be an easy thing. I mean, who WANTS insecurity as a constant companion? However, before I sell myself totally short, I also know that I have been in a warrior mode this past year. So much so that I bought 150 arrows to give away and give away I did. Now I just need a bow, and I ain't talking about the girlie put in your hair bow that seems to be making a comeback among college women. That’s another blog entirely along with the resurgence of denim shorts and neon.



I had my pictures made this week.  When people ask me why, I tell them it’s for a magnet to send out @ Christmas to my financial supporters as a reminder to pray for me.  And while that is a small part of the reason, it was actually for a much bigger reason, a reason more significant.    

So I went to Aveda (Jen Carey, you were booked! I promise I did not cheat on you) and the lady curling my hair asked,

“So, are you having family pictures made?” 

“Yes.” 

She kept curling. I kept praying she wouldn't ask more questions.

“How many kids do you have?”

Breathe. 

“No kids.” 

“Do you and your husband want kids?” 

Breathe deeper.

“It’s just me.”

Crickets.

“You’re having pictures made by yourself?”

I nod.

“Well, that’s cool.  Go have a drink first.”

Laugh.

Insecurity – “Self-doubt, inhibition, nervousness, lack of confidence.” 

Confession.  I just wanted to edit the definition of “insecurity” to make myself look better. I’m insecure.

Or maybe it’s that sometimes it is hard to tell ourselves the truth?


A year ago I felt God impress 3 words on my heart: Covenant, joy, and beauty.  I wrote those words on a strip of fabric and kept it tied around my wrist for two months.

 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6


Covenant.

I desperately needed something to shift inside of my heart and mind.  I wanted to understand God’s covenant relationship with me on a deeper level and not just dismiss it as something for every Believer (which it is). It was one of those things that I wanted to know in every fiber of my being that God is WITH.

The LORD, our covenant God. Lasting and permanent.  Is this not what most of us are looking for? Something lasting and permanent because we are afraid and so very aware of our aloneness? I’m not talking about being lonely, I am referring to being an individual who is completely separate from any other person on the planet. The human experience, per se. 

What happens to you when you hear the first line of “How He Loves?” “He is jealous for me….”  Does it stir something in you that can’t be described? Our Creator is jealous for you? Me? Why?  What kind of love embodies the Father that He would want me so much that He sees it as a good thing for me to have a few more years to deeply become anchored in “covenant” – more years than I would have ever chosen, yet would never trade for another story.

Honesty about the things in our heart draw us near to the Heart of God.

 I can’t imagine being in a relationship where the Father had no emotion towards his children, and I, as a Daughter, am in need of my Father’s heart.

Joy.

We are still working on this one, but in the wrestle and disappointments, there’s an anchoring that continues to occur when life happens.  This will have to be for another blog.


Beauty.

Who knew that this would be the hardest one for me?!? Beauty. How do you even define this word? Perfect symmetry? A size 2? Someone who is 23 and has the metabolism of a 23 year old?

More often than not, when I think about beauty, I sometimes feel small.  Internally small.  The kind of soul shrinking small that steals life, causes paralysis and feeds a fear that has kept me awake at 3AM for the past six months.  

When I decided to stare this beast in the eye, I knew it would be a battle, but I didn't know how intense it would feel or how deep it would run.  When you begin to wake up to patterns in your life that you always considered “normal” and see now how much they steal from you, you will either:

1. Cower in fear and avoid what’s been revealed
2. Acknowledge it, but use the excuse, “This is just the way I am.”
                     OR
3. Courageously ask for a new way. 

We need a lot more people who will cry out from their hearts, “I want a new way!”  Hungry and desperate children cry out.  Now here’s the catch.  The gospel catch. 

Is the main reason we cry out in order to just feel better? 
Do we cry out so God might hear us and give us what we want?
Do we cry out “I want a new way” in order to not feel so exposed in our struggle?
Do we cry out because if we “fix” this area in our life then maybe God will give us our hearts desire?

With what motive do we cry out?

I want to cry out for a new way to reveal more of who God is.  To experience Him in deep and soul-changing ways.  To love people freely without it always being what’s in it for me. To relate to others as The Father, Son, and Spirit relate to one another.  To love Him first and foremost.

To be beautiful and unaware because it has nothing to do with what I look like, but everything to do with being fully alive to the One who looks at my heart.


So, I put my best dress on and I went to the woods and I smiled.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lessons from Luke Bryan

Strange day.  I have had Luke Bryan on repeat all day long.  Not Bethel.  Not Christy Nockels, but Luke Bryan.  Crash My Party to be specific. It makes me happy.  It says “hell” and “baby” a lot, which normally isn’t my style, but it’s a “hell” and “baby” kind of day.   Yes, I’m a missionary.  Please still support me.

Anyway, there’s a line in the song that says, "Go ahead and call me, call me, call me. You don't have to worry 'bout it baby. You can wake me up in the dead of the night; wreck my plans baby that's alright.."  Oh the depths of Luke Bryan's soul. (I think the “baby” count is up to 7. You’re welcome.)



Pretty sure he was singing this for his preggers wife. Lucky woman. I hope she has a brain and depth.

Anyway, it’s been one of those days where life feels like a country song when you recount it, “Yeah, my dog is gonna die, baby, but then she revives, boom boom. Yeah, my heart‘s been run over by a tractor, baby. Oh look, here comes a shirtless man in jorts, ‘Where’s your husband, Red? Wanna go out, baby? Call me, call me, call me’, oh and don’t forget to read your exes book that just got published.  OH, oh, oh….and you lost some support. Jesus take the wheel.”   

Is this what Jesus was talking about when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 

Abundant life. 

Abundant – “existing or available in large quantities; plentiful”
Life -  “ the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks
: the period of time when a person is alive
: the experience of being alive


How do you walk in abundance when you feel lacking? 

You live honestly.  You walk in honesty before Jesus and others.  You lay it all before Him.  You receive.  You give yourself grace.  You cling to truth.  You put on your armor.  You walk by faith.  You embrace seasons as something to journey through and not just try and get around.  You give thanks.  You lean towards the Father with your questions rather than away. 

A friend of mine walked me through Psalm 84 last week.  He shared with me about how we fall in love with God and then we leave home and journey to be with God.  The Psalmist refers to journeying through the Valley of Baca which means, “suffering,” but the Valley leads to the throne room.  The throne room…being with God who when we are lacking says, “no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” and that is good news.  That is abundant life.  Embrace the journey.  Embrace this season for all that He has in it for you.  Wave to me from your valley and the throne room. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WITHness

 There’s a funny sign I saw recently that said something to the effect of, “I can’t wait for you to come over so we can sit in silence and play on our phones.”   And while at times I am just as guilty, I can’t help but wonder why we feel increasingly lonely and isolated, even in a room of friends. 

One of my greatest passions is to grow and see others grow in the area of being WITH someone as they share a piece of their story, their SELF.  For many it is a risk to talk about the deep things of the heart.  What I’m realizing is that every person has a different definition on what “deep things of the heart” actually are.  For one friend it is telling about a struggle at work and another it is about a struggle in marriage.  Truly is there anything like presence? For a few moments that person knows that they matter, they are important, heard, valued and hopefully leads to an ease in the ache of loneliness.  What a gift to be seen and to SEE.  The power of WITHness leads to life change. 

Think of the people in your life that just the mere sitting down across from them can trigger tears….tears because you feel safe and vulnerable and there is no pretense.  You need to hang on to this friend, because what they carry is sacred.  What they offer to you is their very self.  Jesus fully alive in his sons and daughters, loving with no thought of cost or what’s in it for them.  We need more sons and daughters like this. 

I want to call out sons and daughters who are okay with silence in a group.  Sons and daughters who don’t short circuit a person’s sharing and pain by offering to pray right away……don’t get me wrong. Prayer is great! Needed! But when it is just a way for you to not feel uncomfortable with someone’s pain, then I encourage you to get your squirm under the authority of the Spirit and struggle with staying present.  We could learn a lot from our Jewish brothers and sisters when it comes to pain and grief.  They sit Shiva for 7 days after a loss. Traditionally, no greetings are exchanged and visitors wait for the mourners to initiate conversation, or remain silent if the mourners do not do so, out of respect for their bereavement. They even sit on the floor near those mourning.  There’s something powerful about being WITH. A few months ago I shared my testimony in a setting with people that I did not know well.  Afterwards, someone came and knelt down in front of me and proceeded to ask me questions no one had ever asked.  I was pretty undone internally and was not quite willing to answer. This person’s care and interest was like nothing I had experienced regarding interest in one particular part of my story. I wish I could go back to that moment. What he offered me was powerful. I'd respond differently. I want to be the type of friend who will kneel down and ask the question. 

When someone share’s their story do you give them eye contact?  Do you look around as they are talking? Do you ask questions because you are genuinely curious about that image bearer?  If you are uncomfortable “going there” then that’s okay.  We all start somewhere.  So here’s to you starting today or tomorrow.  Practice giving of your presence. 100%.  Your relationships will change and YOU will change.  Jesus is about relationship.  Praise God he doesn’t have an iPhone or TV because that would get on my nerves.  On this journey of WITHness alongside you.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Songs of 2013 (so far)

I sat down to write a post about what it means to drink from The Cup that Jesus extends, but I just can't go there tonight, thus you get a shallow post (wahoo for shallow and breezy!) with a list of songs I've been playing over and over in 2013....a songbook of my year. So if you are in need of some different music and haven't heard these, check them out.

Get your worship on playlist:
1.  I See Heaven - Bryan and Katie Torwalt
2. Ellie Holcomb's entire album
3. Dance With Me - Eddie James
4. Running - Christ for the Nations Music
5. The More I Seek You - Kari Jobe
6. Great Are You Lord - All Sons and Daughters
7. Glorious Ruins - Hillsong
8. Spirit Break Out - Kim Walker Smith
9. One Thirst - Bethel
10. Come to Me - Jenn Johnson
11. Lord Come - Will Reagan & United Pursuit
12. Take a Moment - Will Reagan & United Pursuit
13. Faith to Believe - Shane and Shane
14. Though You Slay Me - Shane and Shane
15. Commission - Will Reagan & United Pursuit
16. Rend Collective Experiment
17. Every Season (an oldie) - Nichole Nordeman
18. Everything to You - Bethel
19. Your Love is Moving - Christy Nockels
20. Give Me Honesty - Jonathan Etienne
21. God I Look to You - Antioch Community Church
22. God of the Redeemed - Bethel
23. He is Faithful - Bryan and Katie Torwalt
24. I Shall Not Want - Audrey Assad
25. A Million Suns - Hillsong United
26. My Portion Is You - Antioch Community Church
27. Nothing Is Wasted - Elevation Church
28. Blessed Assurance - Steven Curtis Chapman
29. You Revive Me - Christy Nockels
30. Who Can Compare - Mary Kat

And some not so praise tunes:
1. Golden - Lady Antebellum
2. Can't Stand the Rain - Lady Antebellum
3. A Thing for You - Easton Corbin
4. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall - Coldplay
5. When It Don't Come Easy - Patty Griffin
6. What Would I Do Without You - Drew Holcomb
7. The Wine We Drink - Drew Holcomb (don't worry if you are Baptist you can pretend it is grape juice)
8. Tennessee - Drew Holcomb
9. Love Is Waiting -Brook Fraser
10. Born to Love You - Nathan Angelo
11. Love Is Everything -George Strait

And you can't go wrong with:
1. Don't Stop Til Ya Get Enough
2. Faithfully
3. You're the Inspiration
4. Don't Stop Believing
I mean, I'm so cool.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I fell in love with Jesus my sophomore year in college.  I thought I loved him before that, and maybe in some ways I did, but something happened in me when I was 20 that changed me to the core.  Perhaps it was my RA, Monica, who led me in a bible study and was so raw and authentic with her own struggles that mine didn't seem so scary to talk about.  For whatever reason, God became so real to me and I haven’t been the same since.  I also haven’t been able to walk away from college ministry after 15 years.  I've tried.  Believe me, I've tried.  Raising support isn't high on my list of, “Yes, please let me do this forever!” However, God has always provided.  This week as I begin another year serving the staff and the 1 million college students of the Mid-south region, I am praying and thinking about all of you who serve tirelessly and HARD! So let me give a shout out to my brothers and sisters on campuses all over the USA. 


Here’s to the endless string of staff meetings to decide whether or not to do survey tables or freshmen move-in!  To the staff (Brent Jordan) who faithfully buys ice cream scoops every year for the freshmen ice cream social! Here’s to the long quiet times everyone on the team will have to have because they are frustrated that for the 6th year in a row no one knows where the ice cream scoops are.  They are probably with the extra socks that come out of the dryer. 

Cheers to the staff that stay up until 1AM cleaning up from the dance party where your students mingled with newbie’s and shared the love of Jesus with someone for the first time. To the staff who try and find a room for any event on campus, SHALOM to you, my friend.  Blessings to the minister who is known by first and last name, date of birth, blood type and Myers-Brigg by every Kinko’s worker in a 50 mile radius.  When the employees have a cart ready and waiting for you at Sam’s and Costco, you have truly arrived.


For every staff member who has hauled around boxes of bananas in your car for Fall Retreat, grace to you (and to your car).  It won’t take you long to realize that is a job you pass off to new staff EVERY YEAR. It’s an unspoken.  Another unspoken? How much you SWEAT the first six weeks of school. It’s no joke, people. 

Abundant grace over the phone calls you make to try and set up appointments with students.  “Hi, this is Beth  with Cru and I’d love a chance to get together and tell you little bit about what we’re about.  Do you have time to get together this week?” (Pause.)  “No? How about next week?” (Pause) “No? How about after Labor Day?” (Pause.) “No? How about April 23rd at 2PM?”  It’s not me, it’s you.

For all the times you get the shaft when you are passing out Red Bull’s and Bible’s….you’re still cool.  Or not.  Stop wearing your shirts tucked in and see how that works for you.  


As you meet with that freshmen who stares at his shoes or texts the whole time you are with them, remember that they could come on staff one day and be a world changer.  For example, my girl Jill. I met her as her parents drove up in a van and we unloaded her stuff into her dorm, along with the brooding boyfriend.  Jill and I met and I was telling her about Cru and talking about Jesus and she was eating ice cream and said, “Well, I’m Lutheran and I’m gonna stay that way.”  Well, good for you, Jill.  Jill is in fact on staff, has a kid, pours out her life and I’m not sure if she’s Lutheran or not, but she sure does love Jesus. 


Then there are moments like this:


These freshmen, four years later just might link arms and go after it for Jesus with all their hearts.  God will use YOU to teach them to be honest, to ask the hard questions, to love them in their mess, challenge them to think of others, teach them to share their faith, watch them begin to invest in others, see them give their future to a life of ministry no matter what the vocation, stand with them in their weddings, will hold their babies, and watch them continue to run.  To think that it all started with buying ice cream scoops for a social.  RUN HARD MY FRIENDS!! Running with you……….


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Bachelorette is most certainly REAL LIFE



Once upon a time (Monday), in a land far, far away (Knoxville), a nameless girl (me, Beth) gathered with friends to watch a fairy tale (The Bachelorette) play out magically (on TV) before their very eyes.  It wasn't long before I (said nameless girl) realized the irony of what I was doing and what many of my dear friends were doing at that same moment.  I was watching reality TV and my friends were in a foreign country seeing dozens of people come to know Jesus and be healed.  I had really wanted to go on that trip, but alas, I was (and am) still raising support for my job with a campus ministry and just could not do it this summer.  I am rabbit trailing.  Anyway, I was sitting there literally feeling pieces of my self-respect DIE when I realized that indeed The Bachelorette was not a fairy tale, but actually much like real life for most of us.  Let me explain. 

At least once a year I, like most people, have a makeup team, stylist, and Sugar Daddy show up with an unlimited budget for me to get my hairs did, teeth redone (I am from Tennessee), Botox injections, filler, a personal trainer, and two weeks shopping and doing commercial shoots for my TV show. It is always so easy for me to get away from my job as a counselor with a campus ministry.  I go to California and then travel around the world with 25 Jesus loving men that have been hand-picked to try and win my heart.  And for six weeks at a time I use the rare phrases phrases “we have such chemistry” and “we have a deep connection” ALMOST as much as I use phrases such as “skinny jeans suck” and “What’s Oprah doing now?”  Real life, people! This is no fairytale.  Stop judging The Bachelorette.  She’s no different than “us.”

Lest you feel that you can’t fully relate with what I just described, let me try and broaden the net to include you commoners.  After I go through the annual styling and “fixer upper” regime (my step-dad sometimes relates a woman’s appearance to the condition of a car –“Well, she’s a little beat up, but she’s sturdy – re: 1976 Chevy Impala), I am flown by helicopter to a yacht in the sea where I put on my normal attire of a $25,000 sequin gown.  Once they have finished with my airbrush makeup, I am brought into the harbor and given my understated Tiffany blue Bentley.  My supporters don’t mind.  They say they are so glad they can support me in my dreams.  IN. MY. DREAMS. 

I show up to my mansion and stand in my five inch stilettos, because I feel most myself in sequins and five inch stilettos, and await the arrival of 25 men to meet me.  So every day.  I’m always encouraged by the character of these men.  Every year, they get better and better.   Oh my goodness, one time this guy got out of the limo and gave me a WWJD bracelet, but that was nothing compared to the guy who painted me an imitation Thomas Kinkade painting with my name hidden in the painting.  One year a dude wrote me a poem and compared me to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in which he said, “Like Toto, I stand at the end of the yellow brick road and eagerly await your call.”  (Actually, this was written to me my sophomore year in high school by my botany lab partner).  The icing on the cake was when one of the guys read sections out of, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” on his knees all while spraying cologne in the air.  I swoon.

At the end of the day, I have to lay my head on the pillow with my own thoughts, just like Des, the current Bachelorette.  We really are living in the same world.  Her pillowcases might be silk and mine might be $18 t-shirt sheets, but hey, it’s all about perspective.  Anyway, I just did not think it was fair for the whole world to be making such judgment calls about this show, because it IS REAL and I’m living proof of that statement.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Where I Am

What a week it has been.  I've moved into a new home, had it filled four times already with people, laughter, tears, prayers, worship and cooking.  It's a place of family and a place I believe will be about restoration for hurting and lonely people.  I've shed some tears of joy several times this week as I have gone to bed with a heart full and hope of days to come.  God's pursuit of the heart is unending, unwavering, relentless and stubborn.  My friend Emily's daughter is obsessed with princesses right now.  She twirls and spins and asks Emily when watching a princess movie, "Where's her daddy?"  You would think she would be curious about Prince Charming, but no, she wants to know where the princesses daddy is.....On a side note, Prince Charming has never totally moved me and I think I can pinpoint it to the fact that he wears tights or skinny leggings and I just don't think I will ever be attracted to a man who wears skinny jeans or leggings or tights. I've digressed.  All that to say is that I'm seeing Daddy in so many ways and I am grateful. There have been many times over the past six weeks that I have needed to see my Dad and He has been WITH me every step of the way, especially when it is areas where I do not see the next step.  He is a good, good Father. A Father who pursues and will not let go.

During this super fun season, there are still some things that haunt me. There's a struggle even typing this, because I feel the need to be okay because everyone else wants me to be okay now that I have a house. I can feel guilty with having received so much that it is overwhelming, and yet still have some deep things stirring and never letting me just be. Can there be room for both joy and grief? I think so.  My way of "coping" is to analyze and evaluate what's going on internally. "Evaluating and analyzing keeps you from having to face your longing."  These words from a wise friend of mine over dinner tonight caused me to stop breathing for a moment.  She was right.  If I stay in my head that means I don't have to engage my heart with my good, good Father. It is avoiding in the most glorified way. Another friend of mine has a daughter who when I first interact with her she is always super cautious and shy.  She will hide behind him and then over time she will engage with me, talk to me without looking and then eventually she will be sitting with me and sharing some things that are on her heart all while engaging me in face to face conversation.  When she gets to that place with me, I am riveted because she is pouring out her sweet heart and I know that moment is sacred and to pay attention.  She's not in her head analyzing and evaluating, but living freely and openly.  She's 4 and she challenges me to engage with my Father in my longing, not just my head.  I think He is deeply moved by sons and daughters whose hearts are fully alive to Him.  Time and again throughout Scripture the authors speak of the heart - over and over and over again.  And honestly, it is refreshing looking at all the passages and realizing that I don't have to be afraid of engaging my heart.  So many people in the Church are terrifed of emotion and we are always hearing caution about not letting emotions rule you. True and I agree, but how often do we hear of warnings to stop living in our head and to engage our hearts? Let's go for it.

So, are you one who struggles with living in your head? Perhaps it is a crutch that keeps you from engaging with the Father in the tender places of your longing.  Praying and trusting He will meet you there.....

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 1 of giveaways


Today is Day 1 of giving away crap  stuff 

leading up to my big move.  

I will be here all afternoon if you would like a 

crockpot, cookbooks, Sophie, a hodge podge

of picture frames and Sophie's diabetes.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Home Inside of Me

In college I'm pretty sure we did a cheesy interpretive dance to a Wes King song called, "Home Inside of Me" - don't judge! You know you wanted to be up there on stage too. :)  Pause.  Okay, I've come out from under the bed due to embarrassment and wanted to admit that I kinda liked that song. It's all about God choosing to make his home inside of our lives.  My beautiful church would call that heaven down inside out living. The name Beth means, "House of God."  The road to living up to my name sometimes feels long and other times has felt like a crazy fun story. For a long time I have wanted God to feel as at home as possible in this sometimes too uncomfortable skin of mine.  What is it about "home" that so many of us ache for?  The world is not how it should be, so we long for Home....

For a number of years there has been an increased desire for a tangible home of my own, but honestly it just hasn't been a  possibility.  I have shed tears over the longing for a home, all while God was continuing to invite me to a deeper understanding of what my name meant - House of God.  As I discipled/mentored college student after college student and watched them graduate and buy a home, the comparison game became a thorn in my flesh.  Having students and staff over to my house was okay, because I didn't mind asking them to sit in a circle in my living room floor, but over time I began to want to offer them a seat. :)  Over the past year with comparison (still is) unfolding, HE began to loosen my firm grip on a dream I was holding onto a little too tightly.  He's pretty jealous for our hearts.

So here's the story.

December 7th - student loan payments enter in to repayment and it is A LOT of money. Will take 7 years for me to get the debt down to a debt/income ratio where the bank will give me a home loan.

December 16th.  My friend and our college pastor Jeff preached this particular Sunday.  He shared story after story about the Church being Jesus to one another.  The stories were powerful and I kept thinking about how I wanted to love my church and people the way that Jeff was talking about.  He gets to the end of his sermon and he says he feels compelled for us as a church to pray for two things.  The second thing had to do with finances.  Specifically it had to do with, "Someone all of a sudden has come in to debt and feels held back from dreaming dreams with God about the future."  He wanted those of us struggling to stand up.  I did not want to stand up.  I was too embarrassed and ashamed.  AND if I stood I wanted to tell everyone that it was student loans, I was responsible with money, and I had a really high credit score. ha! I wanted to control what people thought of me, but I couldn't.  I could only stand.  My church prayed over me, shoved $20's in my hand and I left feeling so exposed and vulnerable.  I went home and put a pillow over my head for 2 hours and texted my cousin Ami telling her about it.

Fast-forward two weeks to December 31st.  I was talking with two friends about my situation and how stuck I felt.

January 2nd - I get a call from some supporters of mine who do not go to my church.  They were asking questions about my loans and had decided they wanted to pay them off.  Did you read that? PAY THEM OFF.  People. that was over $40,000 and it was not a tax benefit to them.  Completely extravagant gift with nothing in it for them except that they loved me and wanted to see me free. Grace.  Mercy.

Shall I look for a home now?  I told numerous people that I felt like finding my home was going to be such an obvious God thing, almost like I would be driving down the street and someone would walk out and put a sign in the yard right in front of me.

March 5th - I paid off the 34 cents that was left on my loan balance.

March 6th - apply for a pre-mortgage qualification.

March 7th - send out a gut-level, vulnerable newsletter to my supporters asking them to pray about two things. The first thing was about my longing for a home.  The second was about.................. if you want to join my support team you can and I'll email you the newsletter. :)

March 9th - Go looking for houses.  I pass this one house and they have just put the sign in the yard and I craned my neck and asked my realtor about it.  She had sold it to the owners.  We looked at a lot of houses, but none that I just felt right about.

March 10th - email realtor and ask if I can see the house on Monday.

March 11th - Walked into the home and immediately started crying. This was it.  Everything I had prayed for and envisioned.

March 11th PM - Put in a reallllly low offer.

March 11th PM - start dealing with mortgage lenders and so much smoke was coming out of my ears, you would've thought I was elected Pope.

March 12th - found out that the owners were ministers in Hawaii.  I stalked them on facebook and wrote to them.  So not apropos.

They came back with just a little higher offer and BAM.  I am on my way to being a homeowner on April 30th.

I know there will be bumps in the road along the way and I have had heart palpitations all day, but I am at peace.  Over the years it has become much more comfortable for me to do hard.  I can do hard, but this whole lavish season of answered prayer in areas that seemed hopeless....well, I have no words.  Just tears of thanks to Him.  I'm not a name it and claim it type person, but God is teaching me about having faith to believe for things that are on my heart.  However the key point in all of this is the fact that He asked me to step out and be vulnerable with my need.  Because he asked me to kick my pride to the curb and stand up that December Sunday, my whole church gets to experience the joy of being a part of praying and believing with me.  Because He asked me to be real with my supporters, they too get to share in the joys of the Giver. Risking to share our dreams desires is so scary.  I have walked around feeling more vulnerable and exposed than I have in my entire life and it feels like coming home.

When you come visit me in God's home for me on this earth, I pray you will encounter His presence, healing and be refreshed.  If you need a respite, come to this home.  We will worship and pray and we will LAUGH.  I can't wait to sit on my little porch with you.  Thank you for being a part.








Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Letter to a "Natural Helper"


The other night a friend of mine started talking about high school and how he had been nominated to be in a club that was geared toward peer mentoring. He said it was quite the honor.  I could not quit laughing as I thought about how I too was nominated to be a “Natural Helper” when I was in high school.  I really hope if you are reading this and we went to Central together that you are rolling your eyes as well as rolling on the floor with laughter.




As I look at that picture, there’s such a mix of emotion as I take note of the irony of where I was in my own life, the sadness over the death of at least two and nostalgia of days that have now turned into years of friendship and history lived with my brother/friend Chris. Over the past few weeks I have been so aware of the seasons of life. They remind me of seasons passing; summer, autumn, winter, spring. Repeat.  

So as I look at my redheaded self at the age of 18, what would I now want to say to her about seasons and what was to come?

Beth Anne,

1.  You roll your eyes now, but later on you will miss the people who knew you and called you that during the double name fad.

2.  Do not wear so many flannel shirts in college (with the exception of #3). 

3.  Value yourself enough to not wear a hoochie-mama-mini skirt to chapel when you are being presented for homecoming court in front of the entire student body.  Resort back to exception of #2.

4.  I love that you love your converse tennis shoes.  That won’t change and it’s okay.  You will love lipstick as much as your converse.

5.  What freedom you will find, I wish for it sooner for you, when you let someone go that was never yours to hold onto.  That pain of letting go is a beautiful sacrifice before the Lord.  It won’t be your last, and each time you will become more and more anchored.

6.  You are going to freak out in your mid-twenties, late-twenties, early-thirties and mid-thirties when everyone is getting married, married, having babies, stopped having babies, and you are still renting and have a dog that *^%& on the carpet on occasion and needs insulin shots.  Breathe.  Jesus knows.  He cares.  HE will invite you to dream bigger dreams than ONLY the dream of family.

7.  Don’t watch the movie 27 Dresses.  You will have 23 and it will not be good for you.

8.  Speaking of family, you are going to wrestle, like you won’t live through it, when you start looking at your issues relating to family.  Honestly, I would not change a thing about how you will wrestle.  You need to in order to be able to “go there” with people who will have not had a charmed childhood, adolescence or teenage years.  Don’t let anyone shame you for it.  Jesus knows.  He also knows when it is time to let go and accept family for who they are.  There’s freedom there.

9.  When you decide to go into full-time vocational ministry, don’t put your dreams on a shelf and spiritualize “calling.”  I believe it is wrong and it will lead you to being prideful.  Act, sing, dance and don’t hide that part of yourself or ignore it.

10.  You were raised in a culture of a woman not being able to do much in the church apart from childcare, choir or women’s ministry.  The amazing people there poured their life into you! It’s because of many of them that you are walking with Jesus. However, you are also meant to have a voice in Jesus’ Kingdom coming on this earth.  So, take up your arrows and ride your horse towards the passions He places in your heart.  You can do that AND still be feminine and a lady who knows to chew with her mouth closed, one hand in her lap, and not reach across the table for a dish.  You will love hearing women speak and honestly, at times, will become quite exhausted of hearing sports analogies and sound effects. Women and men alike need to hear women speak and teach.  Some dear men and women close to you will have heart palpitations as they read this, but it’s okay. Actually, those men won’t read your blog, so don't worry, and if they do they can wrestle with it. Jesus is the one opening doors for you.  You just walk through where he is leading.

11.  Be yourself.  Don’t hide. 

12.  Never forget you are a “Natural Helper.”

13.  This won’t happen to you, but don’t get stuck in the high school glory days (see #12).

14.  eHarmony is the devil. 

15.  You figure out the rest from here, dear friend.  Be kind to yourself on the journey.  You are going to need it. J

Every Season by Nichole Nordeman   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dwpdZdvCl8