I Hear You

She sits at the window

Waiting 

For dreams to become reality

For longings to be fulfilled

She sits at the window

Waiting

The above poem is entitled Kitty after my family’s pet cat who, due to our lack of decisiveness, is called a variety of things [none of which resemble a proper name, i.e. Kitty, Mang0, and Muffin–our late cat’s name]. I am not fond of felines and am reminded of this every morning I go to make a cup of coffee. Kitty follows me in to the kitchen and incessantly meows at the foot of the pantry door, where she knows her treats reside. She then trails behind as I walk back to my room to read. Her expectation is that I willingly open my porch door, fulfilling her lifelong dream of fenced-in freedom. The reality is that I will open a window and Kitty will wishfully watch the wonders of the outside world go on without her.

After a few peaceful moments, Kitty gets bored. She will hop from her perch to where I sit and, once again, begin her never ending sonnet of sorrow. I, like any childless-cat-parent, repeat over and over “I hear you,” hoping to console her deep-kitty anguish. This routine occurs on the daily and I imagine it will never come to an end.

This morning was different though. As I sat reading, praying and sorting through my thoughts I came to the realization that to God I might sound like my cat sometimes. I say the same things to him over and over. I experience the same feelings over and over. It would be easy to imagine those expressions of wonder and wandering hitting the ceiling and fall to the floor. In that moment I heard him say the words I am often found saying to my cat, “I hear you.”

I was reminded of Romans 8:26 which reads, “In the same was the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should,  but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with signs and groanings too deep for words” (AMP). For the second time I have picked up Corey Russel’s book entitled Prayer: Why Our Words to God Matter. In it he writes, “This confidence is not a brazen boldness, but rather a quiet knowing that we belong and that what we are asking for will not be denied because the desire to ask did not begin with us.”

If the words are there–if the longing or desire or dream or wish or whatever it is– if it is there I dare you to speak it. Breath life in to hopes originating beyond the heart you’re holding. And if the words aren’t there? If the words aren’t there lean in to the silence. Consent to wandering with the one crafting the way.

My friend, choose to speak. And when you speak, speak in confidence knowing he is saying, “I hear you.”

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The Power Of Losing 

Before I turned 21 if you had asked me what the worst possible thing was that could ever happen in the whole entirety of my life I would have said: losing. I hate to lose. In fact I am often found in conversation with my family members saying, “I always win.” Losing. It’s awful. Nobody likes it. If you do, are you even human?

A year ago today was one of the hardest days. I was alone. I was broken. I was completely wrecked. I had lost and I had lost a lot. But throughout this past year I have learned the power of losing. A year ago, in my brokenness, the Lord spoke over me. A year ago I wrote these words:

In a sea of words procured for others,

You ascribed to me “restored” — not a position but a path.

I recognize that restoration only occurs after something is done being broken.

But Daddy…when will I be done?

Losing shows you a lot. I was probably the worst me during year twenty, that was made pretty plain. Losing showed me who really knew me and who really cared. Losing showed me what I truly cared about, it showed me that I had lost my ability to dream. And I learned maybe we weren’t made to win. Maybe we learn deeper lessons when we lose. Losing isn’t bad. It’s just change and change isn’t bad either. But I question, what does it look like to lose well?

Restoration is a process, not a position. When we recognize the level of faithfulness the Father carries, no loss appears unbearable. The Lord has always been faithful and he isn’t going to start being unfaithful with you.

So here’s to learning how to lose gracefully,

B

For The One

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Probably one of the most well-known Bible verses in this thing we call the world.

I was on my way to youth group Wednesday preparing to teach a lesson involving this scripture. My desire for the youth, and for my community, is that we will be able to catch even just a glimpse of how much the Lord loves us. That said, I was considering having each youth write John 3:16 on a note card and put their name in place of “the world.”

Then I thought: “Well that’s dumb, cheesy, corny and all the other things.” 

As that thought entered my mind, the Lord quickly reminded me of Luke 15 and the parable of the lost sheep. I felt like the Lord was saying even if the verse read, “For God so loved Bethany,” he would have sent his son. He would have sent his son even for one of us. When I think of that kind of love, I am overwhelming. I cannot even begin to fathom how vast his love for one single being is.

Overwhelmed.

The song You Don’t Miss A Thing has been running through my mind ever since. In a crowd of 10,000 Jesus sees the one–with their past, present future, with their triumphs and their failures, with their pain and prosperity. And he chooses them. Over and over and over. He chooses you, every time.

Allow the mystery and wonder of his love overwhelm you today.

Until Next Time,

B

 

Like An Ocean

The sea is perhaps one of my favorite things [right after the mountains of course]. I don’t particularly want to be on it, or in it, but rather on the shore looking at it. When I was younger my family lived in Texas and would frequent the beach. [I know, I know. I’ve lived in the two largest states. Go big or go home, ya know?] One time when we were at the beach I got caught under the water with huge waves crashing over me. Young little Bethany was being swallowed up by the sea when all of a sudden cute college boy came to the rescue. He picked me up out of the consuming water [probably one handed] and said, “Bethany, will you spend the rest of your life with me?” Ya, okay. Maybe that didn’t actually happen. Probably he just handed me back to my dad and went on his way. So good story.

During a worship night this week I was beyond frustrated with myself. I wanted to just be and worship but life was getting in the way. I was working through these things with the Lord in my heart and pictured myself as a hand, my fingers being areas I am strong in. I then pictured the Lord filling the spaces between each finger with his hand, his fingers representing the grace he gives for the areas I am beyond weak in.

Sometimes I think we have this view that the Lord will only give us so much grace and then he’s out. Gone. Done. I had the realization that he is okay pouring out massive amounts of grace because he has unending supply. We have all heard the song How He Loves. If you haven’t, are you even Christian? Jokes. Anyway, now when I hear the song and it says, “if grace is an ocean we’re all sinking,” I possibly don’t hate it anymore. I know that I will never fully understand the Lord’s grace but for now I am in complete and total awe that he is willing to fill all the spaces I need him to. In a way, Jesus is like the cute college boy but instead of pulling me out of the water he gives me the ability to swim.

So here is to letting him fill the empty spaces of our lives.

Until Next Time,

B

Boxes & The Woman at the Well

John 4 tells the oh-so-popular story of the woman at the well. This unnamed, Samaritan woman is asked, by a man she doesn’t know, for water. Her response? “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”

Point numero uno: she doesn’t know this is Jesus. Numero dos: she put herself in a box.

By stating the fact that she was a Samaritan and this random man Jew, she confined herself to a box, limiting herself. I wonder how many of us limit ourselves by claiming things as our identities that–in all reality–don’t define us. This could be things such as: illnesses, disorders, relationships, jobs, kids, failures, accidents, grades, money, success, etc.

The neat thing is this: the woman at the well was not confined to her self-proclaimed box for all of eternity. After conversing with this man, Jesus, she recognized that there was something special about him. She goes back to her town to rally some of her peeps to meet this amazing man who was, quiet possibly, the Christ.

After the other towns folk interact with him they said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

The Lord is ready to use each and every one of us to build his kingdom. Too often we are limiting and disqualifying ourselves from the work he has called us to. He sees us as: pure, white, immaculate, his sons and daughters. The sower longs to rejoice with the reapers of his harvest. To do that, we need to join in the work of the harvest.

So here is to breaking down boxes and stepping in to the freedom of being a harvester.

Until Next Time,

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The Well

Every year, every week, every hour: our testimonies are being built. Testimonies are stories and, in case you were unaware, those are one of my favorite things [right next to donuts. G-L-O-R-Y.] I recently became aware of this concept of being a collector of stories. This is my desire and this is what I want the Lord to shape me in to.

We all make decisions and go through circumstances that are, well, less than pretty. In the midst of these circumstances, it is difficult to see the beauty of brokenness. The darkness seems to consume every aspect of our lives and the light at the end of the tunnel appears as a single freckle in a sea of people. But the Lord is working, constantly. He is even in the quiet.

I am confident that the Lord has given me the ability to see testimonies being built, through hardship, in people’s lives. I love being given the opportunity to tell someone the outreach they will have because of the unique circumstances the Lord has carried them through. How they will be able to reach a group of people that not everyone could reach specifically because of their testimony.

A friend recently told me about the concept of “the well”. Each of us has a well filled with life experiences. As we go through various situations, both good and bad, they are put in the well. Our stories, our processes, our experiences can benefit the people who are sitting at The Table, the people we interact with on a daily basis. In the midst of a difficult situation, we can ask the Lord to “put it in the well” trusting that he will bring it to the surface at a later date and in turn receive glory from the testimony.

My charge to you is to look at your well and see what you have label “nonredeemable” or “hindrance”. I am confident that the Lord has given both you and I scars he wants us to bare boldly for the purpose his name being glorified and his kingdom built.

Until Next Time,

B

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The Beauty That Is // Not Knowing

There are three things we, in the Western World, tend to value. They are: 1.) safety 2.) comfort and 3.) security. Abraham [no, not Lincoln] is a man I have been look up to more and more each day. He wasn’t tied down by safety, comfort, or security. Genesis 12 reads: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Verse four says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” WHAT. Abe, you be cray cray. WHY? You are leaving 1.) the safety 2.) the comfort and 3.) the security.

But ol’ Abe was in the Lord’s will and he had the Father’s promises to hold fast to. The Almighty promise that he would show Abe land and that he would build him into a great nation, and make his name great SO THAT he would have the ability to bless others.

I love asking the Lord to give me characteristics of the people in the Bible. Since the beginning of this year I have been praying that the Father would be give me faith like Abraham. I know, however, that he does not just give me faith like Abraham, there is a process involved and sometimes this process is a difficult one.

I have been a resident assistant [RA] in Beckett East, a dorm for freshman women, for the past two years. Working in Beckett is probably one of my favorite things in the world. I love working with these freshman women and seeing their lives transformed throughout their first year of college. However, during the first week in January I felt the Lord calling me to resign this thing I hold so dear to my heart. Ever since then, I have been clinging to these hymn lines by Charlotte Elliot:

If Thou shouldst call me to resign

What most I prize, it ne’er was mine,

I only yield Thee what was Thine:

Thy will be done!

The day before RA hiring letters came out, I sat in our campus prayer chapel reading again of Abraham. Genesis 22 talks about the Lord calling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. First of all, God says, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, WHOM YOU LOVE…” God knew how much Abraham cared for his son. You could say Isaac was Abe’s most prized possession. So Abraham goes with his son. In verse five Abraham tells the men they are traveling with, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and WORSHIP and come again to you.” Abraham knew he was going to go and sacrifice his son but he chose to see this sacrifice as an act of worship.

As I sat there, thinking about me sacrificing my RA position to Lord I recognized I hadn’t done it as an act of worship. I had done it because he told me to and I knew it was the right thing. Luckily, it is never too late to change your heart. So once again, I gave it over to the Lord and laid it on the altar.

The next day I opened a letter stating that I had been hired as an RA in the Townhouses, working with juniors and seniors. While working in the Townhouses will bring completely new experiences and challenges, I am excited to see what work I will be joining the Lord in.

So here is to embracing the journey and the beauty that is: not knowing.

Until Next Time,

B