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The Possible

Four years ago, I was in the mountains with friends for a weekend retreat. I was in a rough time of my life. I had taken on the difficult journey of walking through some serious heart muck. God and I were walking through wounds and scars I never realized my poor heart had suffered through. And in the insecurity of it all, I had asked God for the impossible. I wanted a picture of Him. I wanted picture of Him as a promise that He could make the impossible possible. I suppose somewhere in my heart I figured if He could make the invisible visible, then maybe He could actually heal all this heart muck, which for me was just more of the impossible becoming possible. And so there I was. Somewhere out in the mountains, in one of the most beautiful places I could have imagined, let alone gone to. I believe it was the last morning we were there. We were to have breakfast and then head out. It had been a fantastic weekend. One of those weekends full of so much needed quiet that your heart was bursting from all the heart sounds. All the noise you didn’t even know you had inside of you. I heard God in such a refreshing way that weekend. I felt alive with purpose, love, and renewed faith. And as there were already too many cooks in the kitchen working on breakfast, I went out to the deck on that early Sunday morning to enjoy the view. It was a stunning view. The fog still hung thick over the mountains as a perfect example of why those Smoky Mountains were considered so smoky. And then the sun. Liquid yellow, peeking out over the dip of the mountains. It highlighted every detail of every leaf, every cloud, every beauty. I couldn’t help myself. It was just too beautiful. I looked at the handful of friends sitting on that deck with me and told them what they were missing. In my mind they were fools not to see it.

“Do you guys see this morning?” I asked them. A few looked up and nodded as if to say, “Yeah, yeah, its pretty.” But I wasn’t in a mood to accept a nod of the head. So I went on. “People, look at this. Do you guys see this? This is not just a beautiful view. This is Jesus!” I got some attention to this. Probably not the good kind. In fact, a few even spoke up.

“Huh? That’s Jesus?” I don’t think they were amused. Luckily, I was too oblivious to their sarcasm. I was swooning.

“Yes. This is Jesus. We are looking at the face of God right now. Isn’t He beautiful?” And then I sunk my elbow into the railing and my chin followed, sinking into my hand. I was my beloveds and my beloveds was mine. And in that moment all I could do was stare into His beauty. And I looked and looked into the glory of the One I love most. That is, until I was interrupted by my friend John. He walked up to me and said, “Look, I got a picture of you and Jesus.”

“What did you just say?” I couldn’t even swallow. I’m pretty sure John had just said the impossible. And then he said the impossible again.

“I just got a picture of you and Jesus. Isn’t that what you were telling us?”

I nodded. I smiled. He had done it. My beloved had done it. I didn’t even realize what I was saying, and yet in my ignorance, He had answered the impossible with the possible. He had given me a picture of Him. And it wasn’t just a picture of Him. It was a picture of Him with me. I couldn’t believe it. Poor John didn’t even know what he had done. I’m pretty sure I hugged him. It may have come closer to an attack . I was pretty excited.

A week later I ended up in the hospital. But it wasn’t a hard trip. Because a day in my friends came in with a present from John. It was my picture, framed. A picture of me and my beloved. A picture of the impossible being made possible.

“Anybody can be like everybody else. Only those who are exceptional choose to believe the possible over the probable.” -Beth Moore.

I read that today, and immediately I remembered this story. We are children of the possible. We live in a world of the probable. And it is easy to get confused, and believe we are children of the probably. But its true, we were called to be exceptional. We were never created to be like everybody else. We were called out, chosen, purposed for more.

Four years ago, I asked for something that was probably not going to happen. But it did. Because with God, all things are possible.

 

With God, my friend Emily can expect a misbehaving classroom to change their hearts.

With God, bodies can heal.

With God, families can be reunited.

With God, infertility can be a word of the past as women become mommies.

With God, loneliness can be replaced with community.

With God, peace can attend my soul.

With God, all things are possible. Even a picture of an unseen God.

 

 

 

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Things Hoped For

I’ve been sitting here trying to get the words out. Trying to figure out how to tell you in no uncertain words that I am sick and explain all the things swirling in my mind.  In my life. I would like to write it in a way that sounds pretty and lovely and nice. But these lives we have, raw in their vulnerability, aren’t always pretty and lovely and nice. Sometimes they are much the opposite. Sometimes they are ugly and gritty and bloody. Sometimes they are just too human. Go figure. Humans full of humanity. Full of imperfection. Full of everything we try to imagine and pretend away. We put on masks of every color and every shade. Masks that paint a better picture of who we are, who we want to be, who we want the world to see us as. Masks that color away the real lives. The real us. The real story.

I hate how ugly vulnerability has become. I hate that it shames me. Brings me fear. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. But I am even more so sick and tired of letting these masks wear me. I am tired of giving into them. I am tired of letting them paint pictures. Pictures that are so very distorted. Pictures that have no real essence of me.

Here is my truth: I am sick. Much sicker than I want to be. Much sicker than I should be. My stomach is looped and scarred and inflamed, and I don’t know when it will stop being that way. It hurts. Often. Then there’s the autoimmune symptoms. Fatigue, achy joints, sore muscles, night sweats, fevers, restless nights. Last October I had to quit my job. At the time it was OK, because, while it wasn’t ideal, I still had the ability of using school loans to pay for life. But this time around, I had to quite summer school, so there is no money available. I had to move out with my roommates and move in with a friend, because I just can’t make rent. I may be able to go back to school in the fall, but as of right now, I don’t know. I still haven’t even finished the spring semester, as I was in the hospital during the last 2 weeks of school, and ended with incompletes. On top of all this, while I was in the hospital back in the beginning of May I discovered that my insurance had been cancelled. I am working to figure out why, but for the time being I am technically uninsured and apparently have been since last winter. That adds up to a lot of medical debt.

I should let that be it. But of course it is not. Because the enemy hates us too much to ever just let anything be enough. And so since April, I have been struggling with anxiety, fear, and depression. What was anger at God turned into confusion which turned into sadness which turned into a very, very lost girl. And I have had all sorts of insecurity. Feelings that I will be lost and alone forever. Feelings that I am officially a burden for anyone and everyone I love. Feelings that I am too much, and not worth the extra mile. Feelings that I am officially a burden for anyone and everyone I love. Feelings that I will be like this for the rest of my life. Feelings that this is the best it will ever be. Feelings that I’ll always be grasping and groping the air without naything to ever hold on to. Insecurity can come in a million different masks, but its all the same lie in the long run: There isn’t enough. Not enough you, not enough money, not enough stability, not enough beauty. Insecurity says there just won’t ever be enough.

So, to sum it up: Sick, no job, no school, no insurance, confused, afraid, sad, human.

There you have it. This is me. Right now. As I sit in bed in the most comfortable T-shirt I own. This is me as vulnerable as I can be. This is me sans mask. Letting my heart bleed fear, honesty, and truth for the sake of you and also for the sake of me. I want no more of this mask. I want to live free. I want to live open and vulnerable. If I am going to bleed, then let me bleed. I am tired of trying to cover it up. Trying to be the girl without the diseased body. Trying to be the girl without the diseased heart. This is my story. And I am going to own it.

My name is Bethany and I am neck deep in humanity. Ugly, gritty, bloody humanity. It’s not what I expected. It’s not what  I wanted. It’s not what I hoped for.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The conviction of things not seen. 

Hebrews 11:1, ESV

 

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 

Hebrews 11:1, NLT

I am not sure what I hoped for. I think if I was honest, I hoped for an easy life. I hoped for comfort. I hoped for stability and security of the tangible kind. I hoped for health and happiness. I hoped for everything superficial. There’s that humanity rearing up again. But this time I will not reach for a mask. No more masks. Instead I reach for faith. Faith for the things hoped for of the intangible kind. Faith in His promises. Promises that reach farther than money or insurance or health ever will. Promises that keep me. Promises that go with me. My Presence shall go with you and I will give you rest. Promises that stay with me. Promises that dwell. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for Lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of you. Promises that go before me. I will go before you and make the crooked places straight. Promises that awaken me. Wake up sleeper. Rise from death and Christ shall give you light. Promises that fill me. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. Promises that change me. Promises that bring me to the one my heart loves most. Promises that satisfy.

The fear of the Lord tendeth to life; and he that hath it shall abide satisfied.

 

Exodus 33:14| Zechariah 2:10| Isaiah 45:2| Ephesians 5:14| Matthew 5:6| Proverbs 19:23

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The Throws of Addiction

I have been reading Ezekiel 16 lately. In the past 4 days I have read it over and over again. If you don’t know Ezekiel 16 tells the story of us. It is my story. It is your story. The first half is the greatest fairy tale you will ever imagine. The second, the worst nightmare you could ever dream. And the sad thing is that both halves come together to create our whole stories.

Its starts with us being rescued by a king. Remember that blog post about how He found us in the field and redefined us with one word? That is Ezekiel 16. That is the beginning. The story goes on to tell how He took us into His kingdom. We grew, and as we grew He watched us, until the day He took us as His bride. Our beauty became perfect because of His splendor which He bestowed upon us. But we would not trust Him, not fully. Verse 14 says our fame spread throughout the land because of our beauty, yet we still could not see it for ourselves. So what did we do? We took matters into our own hands. We needed to feel, taste, see, know, experience our stability. So instead of trusting the one who guaranteed safety, the one who proved it, we went to others. And on and on the story goes. For 44 verses. Forty Four verses that tell the tale of those who ran to other things, because trust is scary, and sometimes you would rather have the mediocre comforts of now rather than waiting for what we call ‘that too good to be true future’.

And then last night, I spoke with my friend over an issue I just can’t seem to conquer.

“Beth, this is your addiction.”

Wait. What?  My what? My addiction

My addiction.  

It’s such a dirty word. Addiction. Addict. Addicted. 3 words, same meaning. Same sorrow.

“Oh, you didn’t know? He’s an addict.” And our faced cringe as our hearts sink.

Even if you’ve never struggled with addiction, you still feel the pang of that statement. You can hear the years of struggle, pain, fighting, torment, grief of a person’s life, all in one word. “He’s an addict.”

The throes of addiction. The throws of addiction. How it throws us back and forth. And here lies the key to this word. Because in itself Addiction is not a dirty word.

Addict

:to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively

We were made to be addicts. We were made to find cause to devote ourselves to. We were made to surrender. And once again, the problem comes because of one perfect thing, corrupted in an imperfect world.

                       I was made to be an addict.

But I turned my head. I turned my attentions from the one I was made to be addicted to, and created new addictions. He was always supposed to be my addiction, but instead I looked for others. Addictions that couldn’t and wouldn’t satisfy. And this is where the nightmare begins. But take heart, because He does not leave us there. Because the very last of that chapter says this:

 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

  And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Ezekiel 16: 60, 62, 63, NLT

Addiction is not a dirty word. It calls us to our purpose. Oh that we may find our devotion, that we may surrender to it. He is our addiction. Let the waves of His love throw you back and forth. Those throws of addiction.

“addict.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2014.Web. 23 January 2014.

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The Story of the Deer

Almost 10 years ago, I was working at a camp up in Wisconsin. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember being very, very upset and grieved. It was one of those hurts where you cry so hard you feel like your heart may fall in on itself. I didn’t want anyone to see me crying so hard, so I left the camp and walked into the woods to get away with myself. I found a log, and sat on it. And because I couldn’t put my own words together to voice my pain, I used others. I sang out songs of old, from the hearts and lips of songwriters past, so that God could hear my heart and hear my grief. I sat there, crying, as words fell into the air, and floated softly up to Him.

I have decided to follow Jesus. I sang the words, and they ministered to my heart. I have decided to follow Jesus. My viewpoint began to change. I have decided to follow Jesus. Things weren’t as hopeless anymore, but the hurt was still there.  No turning back. No turning back. Tears kept falling, but I went on singing. And as I started the second verse, I saw her. Maybe 10 feet away, a doe lifted her head from behind a bush. She looked me straight in the eyes, and I kept singing. Though none go with me, still I will follow. She started walking towards me. Though none go with me still I will follow. It was one of those moments that truly deserves the word Awesome. I was in awe. She was quiet and sure footed. And she started walking right up to me. Awe-inspiring. I kept singing, and she kept walking. No turning back. No turning back.  She walked right up to me, and then, she sat down. Right there, right in front of this log I was sitting on, right next to my feet. She just sat there. No fear, no timidity. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought she was my pet. I sang and she sat. The world behind me, the cross before me. No turning back. No turning back. I finished the third verse, she got up, looked me in the eyes one last time, and walked away. She didn’t run away, she walked, and I sat there, in the silence of the woods and watched her. Awe-some.

Since then deer have been a mark of remembrance in my life. Every time I see one, I am reminded that He loves me. When I see groups of them it is like He is telling me over and over in the moment. “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Even growing up in Tennessee where deer can be a dime a dozen, they are never commonplace to me, and they never become last year’s news.

And so, I was shocked when I realized I have never looked to see what the Bible says about deer. I have read so many passages, and thought of the picture’s deer bring to the scripture, and yet it never hit me to look them up. And so tonight, I went on a search for them. And this is what I found:

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.

Psalm 18:33, NLT

As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

Psalm 42:1, NLT

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.

Song of Solomon 2:7, NLT

The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.

Isaiah 35:6, NLT

The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

These deer are definitely a reminder of His love. But all this time, I missed how they were so much more. They weren’t just a reminder of love, they were a reminder that I was in the very place He wanted me in. They were there to remind me that He was holding me, that He had made me surefooted, I wasn’t going to fall. I wasn’t even going to slip. He was reminding me to wait, to be patient and keep myself from manipulating my situations before they were meant to come into my life. He was reminding me of the opportunity for my heart to gush with every satisfaction my soul was created for. He was reminding me of the greatest love story I could ever imagine, the love story every piece of me longs for. The story I was meant to know personally. The story He called me to.

So often I think I am a wanderer. That I am to walk these journeys and keep walking, and keep walking, and keep walking. I see myself always searching, forgetting that there is no need to search, because it has already been found. I have already been found. I am not wandering, because I am not a wanderer. I am a citizen. I belong. I am here, in this story. The story He called me to. He called me, and He is calling you.

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