Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Post of 2010: The ABC's Of God

This was incredibly helpful to me over the course of this year. My friend Cheri told me one day to focus on who God is and that it would help me by thinking of the ABC's and come up with an attribute of God to correspond.
So, here is my list.

A: God you are ALMIGHTY
B: God you are BURDEN BEARER
C: God you are COUNSELOR
D: God you are DELIVERER
E: God you are EMMANUEL
F: God you are FAITHFUL
G: God you are GENTLE
H: God you are HEALER
I: God you are INCREDIBLE
J: God you are JUST
K: God you are KIND
L: God you are LOVING
M: God you are MAJESTIC
N: God you are NEAR
O: God you are OMNIPRESENT
P: God you are PEACE
R: God you are REDEEMER
S: God you are SAFE
T: God you are TRUSTWORTHY
V: God you are VICTORIOUS
W: God you are WONDERFUL
X: God you are eXcellent
Y: God you are YOKE REMOVER
Z: God you are ZEALOUS FOR ME!

May your 2011 be blessed!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End Of The Year Musings

It has been over 2 months since I've written on this blog. It never ceases to amaze me how time just marches on while I'm trying to keep in step!

My life has once again changed in big ways. I've moved yet again. Twice in one year is too much for me I think. This move is harder because I've pretty much been doing all of the work myself. And I am TIRED of the loading, hauling, and unloading of my "stuff".

It causes me to think about my "stuff" and how pitiful it is that I have so much. There are people who have nothing but what is on their backs and their loved ones. We here in the USA have so much. It is just absurd sometimes and it does cause my mind to spin. It causes me to give much thought to what I place my priority in.

Where do I spend my time?
Where do I spend my money?
What do I hold as valuable?

I have paid 67.00 a month to store my "stuff" and was able to live without it for 6 months! I am glad that one of the side effects of being without my stuff is that I am not as attached to it as I once was. Now I am in the midst of sorting through it and truly deciding what I need and what I don't need.

The struggles that I've endured this year has been such a driving force for me to re-evaluate my life. Re-evaluate my faith. I do believe that I have been under the hot refining fire of the Lord's testing. My faith is being refined and the truth of what I believe and trust is coming forth. It is my deep desire that the result of the refining would show pure gold. That I would emerge with a faith that is as pure gold and not ashes that result from the consumption of something that has no substance.
I know that I am closer to the Lord than I was one year ago.
It is a closeness that I am thankful for but still unsure why it had to occur this way.

I think that is probably one common question that believers ask. Why this way Lord? I don't want to ever be so comfortable with my life that I don't want to go where God goes but I will always try to understand why He chooses the road that He does somethimes.

I'm thinking that the answer to that question may never be revealed. It is probably not in my best interest to know. That is okay. I know that God's plan is best, even when it involves pain. I don't understand Him most of the time, but I am learning to trust Him. I try to place my full trust in Him and as of yet, I've not found Him to be unfaithful or untrustworthy.

As 2010 comes to an end, I find myself thinking of how grateful I truly am for the pain of this year. It has brought me closer to my Savior and has prompted a newness in my walk with Him. I hope that 2011 will be a better year but even if it is not, I know that my God will not let me go. He will hold me as long as I am reaching out for Him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Discipleship, Do I Dare?

I am behind a little on this Radical Walk with God. How did we get to chapter 5 already??!!

This weeks reading covered the topic of discipleship. When I think of making disciples, the first thing that I think of is a small group that I was involved in as a young beliver. I don't remember the name of the study materials that we used but I know that it had the word "discipleship" in it. I was so excited to begin learning the truths of the Word of God and was so happy to have an "older" believer in the body of Christ walk with me through the experience. Allison was only 4 or 5 years older than me but she definately was more mature in her faith!

What I did not know then is that the discipleship did not happen via the material. Don't get me wrong, the material was great and very helpful. It was a catalyst for discipleship that occured because Allison made time to meet with me, invest in my life, and encourage my search in my newfound faith.

Discipleship happened because Allison was commited to walking in RELATIONSHIP with me. As David Platt states in his book Radical, "Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational." (93). The short period of time that I was learning about the basics of the bible was a time that forever impacted my relationship with Christ. I learned many truths that to this day I refer back to over and over. They are foundational to my beliefs. I also learned that being a Christ follower is not lived out with my nose burried in the book. It is lived out day to day as I walk in relationship with my heavenly Father, believers, and unbelievers in my world.

As I've been reading this book and hearing messages from other sources I have discovered (with much conviction!) that my faith is not about me at all! It is about how I can share the Gospel with those in my midst and how I can bring glory to God through my life. As I think of discipleship, I am reminded of a young woman who was commited to pouring time, energy, and love into my life. As I remember those lunch hours with Allison, I am encouraged to pour out my life into others in intentional ways, building relationships. I want to be a blessing to those God places in my path.

I am encouraged to seek all that God has for me in my relationship with Him so that I can be a benefit to another. As Platt writes, "In order to teach someone else how to pray, we need to know how to pray. In order to help someone else learn how to study the Bible, we need to be active in studying the Bible. But this is the beauty of making disciples. When we take responsibility for helping others grow in Christ, it automatically takes our own relationship with Christ to a new level". (100-101)

So, where does this take me and how can I apply this lesson to my life today?

I am encouraged to open my eyes and see where God has placed me at this moment. I am living with a couple who are fairly new in their walk with the Lord. I am commanded to love them with the love of Christ and invest my time and energy into their lives.

I am also involved in a ladies small group on Thursday mornings at church. I love my group so much and am so excited to see how God will use us to disciple each other. I have already been blessed in many, many, sweet ways. I am praying that as I grow in relationship with these ladies, that God would use me in their lives too. He has definately used them in mine!

Discipleship is a sweet thing. Let's make sure that we are seeking to walk in relationship with those that God has placed in our lives making disciples!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Hunger. What does it mean to you?

Well according to Websters Dictionary it means a few different things
"A craving or urgent need for food or specific nutrient"
"An uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food"
"A weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food"
And finally:
"A strong desire"

When I think of my physical body, I am very well acquainted with my "hunger". I know when I have a craving or need for food. I know when my body senses an uneasy feeling due to lack of food and I physically feel weak. When I feel this sensation I have 2 choices; ignore it and remain in hunger or attend to it and feed myself. Very rarely do I ignore it! I have a deep love for food!

What about my spirit?

Do I readily recognize hunger in my spirit?

I think that I do. I know that when I am feeling "out of sorts" it is usually due to the fact that I am malnourished spiritually. I begin to feel uneasy and weak. My stamina in my faith is diminished when I've not partaken of the sustenance from the Lord's table.

However, the next question really trips me up!

"Is His Word enough for me?"


This is a heavy thought for me. It is a convicting thought. Am I fully sustained purely and singley by the perfect and all sustaining Word of God?

Lord, how I want to be!

But the truth of the matter, is that I am not. Goodness knows that I try and try and try to fill my hunger with things of this world rather than with the Word.

Why do I do this????

Well, for starters, I have difficulty trusting the Word as God's source for me. I want to see my salvation, I want to feel my comfort, I want to hear the voice that leads me. So I search for filling in every other way that will satisfy my senses.

Lord forgive me!

I have bowed to the god of idolism. Even if I try to say that I haven't, I recognize that I have. As Isaiah proclaims "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips" so too I utter this cry. Woe is me for I am a woman of an impure heart. Woe is me for I am a woman of little trust. I take heart though that even though Isaiah was a man of sinfulness, he was redeemed and allowed a vision of God's glory. It brings me comfort because as I recognize and confess my shortcomings, I too will be redeemed and changed by the vision of His glory.

Praise God that I have complete redemption in Him!

This journey through Radical so far has not been pleasant. It is uncomfortable to say the least...excruciating to be quite honest. It is forcing me to look at my face in the mirror of God's Word and decide how I will respond. Will I walk away and forever forget what I've seen or will I take what I see, ugly as it is (the state of my heart) and plead God's forgiveness. I can't bear the thought of walking away unchanged so I chose today to look at the difficult things that He is revealing to me and surrender them to Him.

I am hungry. I am blessed to have a Lord who gives me his Word for my sustenance.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Law of Kindness: LPL Simulcast 2010

This weekend I had the privilige of attending the Living Proof Live Simulcast at Cross Point Church in Modesto. It was a great day in the Word and in worship with other believers. It is said that there were 125,000 women (and a few brave men!) involved in the simulcast! So so cool!

The theme verse for the simulcast was from Proverbs 31:26

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

The first thing that I learned about this passage of scripture is that it is an acrostic. Each beginning letter is in alphabetical order according to the hebrew alphabet. This makes it a special piece of poetry. The other thing that I learned is that the piece of scripture is a chiastic. A chiastic is a literary structure by which concepts or ideas are placed in a special symmetric order or pattern where emphasis can be made. For example, the quote "Do you eat to live, or live to eat" is a chiastic.

The focus of our study centered around the phrase "the law of kindness". In the hebrew, "law of kindness" is translated "torat-hesed" which translates literally the "torah of kindness".

Why study this topic we were asked.....

Well for one, we live in a mean world. And we can count on it getting meaner as the times come closer and closer to the end.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

And secondly, because "she openeth her mouth". We were reminded that the effect of us opening our mouths is great! We are all teachers and publishers. We were encouraged to make sure and be aware of what is coming out of our mouths and from our fingertips. We must allow the Holy Spirit to function as our editor. We also need to refrain from just making noise!
Beth shared a little funny with us that really makes sense
"eat is before you tweet it" and "flog it before you blog it" true.

Remeber, that according to Luke 6:45, out of the overflow of our hearts the mouth speaks. So I was challennged to be aware of the state of my heart and be mindful of what is coming out of my mouth.

So if the law of kindness is on my tongue then I have 8 tastes of it.

1. Kindess is not a weakness
According to Luke 6:35-36, I am commanded to love my enemies, to do good, to lend, and to expect nothing in return. When I do this I will receive a great reward. To be conisdered a daughter of the Most High because He is kind to the ungrateful and evil. So when I am exhibiting kindness to others who are difficult, I am blessed. One point that Beth made that was interesting to me is that kindness and niceness are two very different things. Niceness was noted as meaning of being ignorant, not to know, or not knowing. Kindess, by opposition, is knowing. It is not just being nice. In kindness we can speak a strong word if it is needed. Psalm 141:5 says "Let a righteous man strike me-it is a kindness; let him rebuke me-it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it".
Nice is fine, but kindness is divine!

2. Kindness is not an action its a disposition.
Kind as an adjective is translated "crestos" in the Greek. It means profitable, fit, good for any use. Of persons, useful toward others, good natured, being of good use to others. (NT lexical aids)
Kindness as a noun is translated "crestotes" in the Greek. It means grace with pervades the whole nature. It is descriptive of ones disposition. It cannot be faked!

3. Kindness wears down when we do.
This is one that resonated with me! Daniel 7:25 describes how in the last days, the antichrist will be busy wearing down the saints. When we are worn down, we can begin to form bad habits in relationships. Matthew 11:28-30 describes how we are to take off our burdensome yokes in exchange for Jesus' yoke. It is said in this passage that his yoke is "easy" and his burden is "light". The word "easy" is translated "crestos" which is the Greek word for kind. So Jesus is saying, that his yoke is kind. It is for our profit or good use.
What situations wear us down?
* Resentment: According to 2 Timothy 2:24 the word of the Lord instructs us not to be quarrelsome but kind.
* Hatred or Jealousy: In Genesis 37:4 we learn about how Josephs brothers were jealous of their fathers treatment of this youngest son. It says that they hated him. This is a strong sentiment that I don't want to be descriptive of me or my relationships.
Anytime that we are worn down, we need to be built up. It is important that we stay connected to the body of believers sharing our lives with them. Being built up happens overwhelmingly in the coorporate context, not the individual context. Ephesians 4:12, 16, and 29 says that the saints are to build up the body of Christ.

4. Kindness looks pain in the face.
In Job 6:28, Job tells his friends to be pleased to look at him. When we are walking in kindness, we are willing and quick to look pain in the face. We don't turn our eyes when presented with someone elses pain. We need to be listening to what others are saying and be kind enough to look them in the face. Acknowledge their plight.
The word "appeared" in Titus 3:4 is translated "epiphaino" which is where we get our word "epiphany". The Lords lovingkindness is an ephiphany in our lives. We walk by faith but our faith is wrapped up in the fact of scripture.

5. Kindness is a Savior.
In Ephesians 2:7 we learn that God shows us the immesurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. This rendering of kindness is the word "epiphany" again! Jesus is kindness personified. As our savior, he shows us intimately the true meaning of kindness. We must remember that we cannot be anyones savior. Trying to be any one persons everything is sin. Don't do it!

6. Kindness has good memory.
In Psalm 106:7, we are told of how when the Israelites were in Egypt, they forgot the Lords kindness toward them. They forgot the miracles that He worked among them. When we don't actively remember his many kindnesses, we enter into a season of rebellion. We make ourselves prime targets for satan and his demons to attack us. We must continually remind ourselves of the kindness that God has shown us. We must remember that He has been good.
He promises in Hosea 11:4 to bend down toward me and remove my unkind yoke and replace it with a kind yoke of freedom. His desire is that I walk in freedom and that is what his yoke is. I am tethered to him by his cord of kindness.

7. Kindness craves an outlet.
When I am walking in kindness, I need to be asking myself, "is there anyone that I can show kindness to?". In 2 Samuel 9:1, David desires to show kindness to someone of Jonathons household out of his deep love for his friend. He asks if there is anyone whom he can show kindness to. He shows a willing heart to step into the life of another and be actively involved in showing kindness. I must remind myself though that in showing kindness, I must profit the person, not be an enabler. Remember, we have an overflow so give of it!

8. Kindness leaves a legacy.
Walking in kindness leaves a leagacy for those who follow after us. We all have a spiritual line so we must leave a legacy for those coming next. Remember, that as we move forward the power of Christ is strong enough to break any stronghold handed down or willingly taken up. Begin to leave a legacy of kindness. Commit to walk through the process with God, becuase our children will not learn by accident.

This simulcast was an amazing time of worship and teaching. May I never forget the lessons that I learned and may they not serve only as new knowledge. May I continue to be transformed by the word spoken to me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radical Abandonment

What is radical abandonment?

Websters Dictionary defines radical as "marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional" and abandonment as "to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly".

So in regards to our faith I can venture to say that "radical abandonment" means departing considerably from the usual or traditional in order to give oneself up unrestrainedly to the Lord.

Wow! That is a mouthful of a definition and a deeply convicting thought.

Is my life marked by radical abandonment?

I would like to say "yes, absolutely!" but the truth of the matter is that I don't think that I am. In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus describes to 3 different people the cost of following him. It is a huge cost. It is homelessness, it is not being present in major times of life like the death of a loved one, it is being separated from dearly loved family and friends. It is radical abandonment.

As Jesus called these people, so too God has called me to leave behind all things that I am comfortable with in life and follow after Him. I don't believe that it is His desire that I be uncomfortable in life but that I would be so trusting of His hand and character that I would be willing should He call me to abandon all.

He has called me to radical abandonment.

In his book Radical, David Platt asks two questions of himself that I am asking of myself.

1. Am I going to believe Jesus?

2. Am I going to obey Jesus?

These questions should be no-brainers! The answers should be "yes". I should be completely and utterly willing to believe Jesus and obey Him. It should be so easy.

But in all honesty, it is not.

I struggle with believing God. It is hard for me to believe that He has my best interests at heart. It is hard for me to believe that He truly cares for me. It is hard for me to believe that He will work everything together for good in my life. It is hard for me to believe that He listens to me.

Because I struggle with believing Him, I struggle with obeying Him. If I don't believe that He intends good for me, that He truly cares for me, that He listens to me, that He loves me, then I live life continually defeated, down, and in despair. I don't trust God and believe Him for who He says He is.

This is unbelief!

As I venture into this season of learning how to be "radical" in my faith my prayer is that I would surrender to God every nook and crannie of my heart and life. That as I die to myself, that He would hold me up and assure me of His love, His provision, and His acceptance.

I lay my heart out as the father prayed in Mark 9:24 "I believe, help my unbelief!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pinecrest and Playing with Light

It has been a few weeks since I attended a photgraphy workshop hosted by my sweet friend Amber. Since then, I've had the opportunity to play around with my camera trying to put to good use and practice the lessons that I learned. My camera has accompanied me to places like Lake Tahoe and Pinecrest. I've taken pictues in those places that were fun and creative. A few to be viewed here but the ones that I've had the most fun with were taken right here in my little bedroom just tonight.

So allow me to introduce you to my oh so handy dandy model:
My Scentsy Plug In!

I had the most fun trying to figure out ways to be creative with angles and light and this is what I ended up with:

Monday was the start of the new school year. As a way to care for my emotional well-being, I decided to get out of dodge for the day. I tried and tried to get friends from church to go with me but for one reason or another, they were unable. I was disappointed but God in his goodness made sure that I did not spend the day alone. Julie, my long time friend from childhood and early church days, was able to go with me up the hill and we had the best of times relaxing. We arrived and got lunch ready and sat for a bit. Then we headed into the lake. IT WAS COLD! And of course, I had the floaty that required me to be at least half way submerged in the water. Julie was sitting like a princess in her pink gigantic floaty that kept her completely above the water! To get over my half cold, half warm self, I dediced to ditch the float and swim out to the bouy's. Let me just say that I needed to get out of the water and into the sun for a warm up after that. It was divine though! I was able to talk to God about the state of my heart while floating on the lake looking at the blue sky and pine trees. Such sweetness for my soul.

Here are a few pics from pinecrest:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lake Tahoe

My weekend in Tahoe was amazing! Stephanie looked so beautiful and the wedding was so much fun. Seeing family that I've not spent time with in a long time was a blessing.

Being together with my brothers and sister in laws was a special thing. We've never had a weekend spent together and this one was one that will be in my memory for many years. We ate together, sat together, danced together and spent countless moments just enjoying each others presence. It was sweet.

I had intended to spend some time with Jesus on the beach. On Saturday morning I awoke early and started to get ready. I think in my attempt to be quiet, I was kind of noisy. My sister in law Kendra woke up and decided that she wanted to go with me to the beach. We set off for Starbucks first for some chai and oatmeal for me and carmel latte and chicken sandwich for her. After we got our morning fare, we headed out. We found this little spot not too far from the Starbucks. We quickly learned that it was the dog beach. Let me just say that it was an experience! We quickly decided that we needed to find a nicer spot. After all, I'd seen countless pictures online of gorgeous beaches and pristine blue water! The dog beach was just not going to cut it! I decided to drive us up toward Emerald Bay and we found Pope Beach. It was just what I was expecting and we had a wonderful time sitting taking in the beauty of the lake and mountains. We spent hours talking about what God is doing in our lives and how we can't do this life thing without Him. She is a precious blessing in my life and I just love that we have our Lord and Savior in common.

On Sunday I headed out by myself with the intention of praying and journaling and doing my bible study. I grabbed my chai and got in the car. I wanted badly to see Emerald Bay and so that is where I headed. It was a beautiful drive up the mountain, although a bit scary at times (10mi/hour curves!). When I reached the vista I was so so blessed to see such beauty. Our God is so creative! I thank Him that He has put such a love of nature in my heart. I love that He has made me that way! I stayed up at the vista for about 45 minutes just taking it all in (and yes, taking way too many pictures!). Then I headed back down the mountain and met my brothers and sister in laws for breakfast at The Driftwood Cafe. This little restaurant was so cute! It had really good food too. My sister in law, Helena let me have a taste of her potato pancake. They were really good. Wish that I would have ordered them instead of the turkey burger that I later had trouble digesting!

Here are a few pics from the weekend.

Emerald Bay. Can you believe how blue the water is?!

Stephanie and Kyle's first dance

My brother Matt and sister in law Helena

Sister in laws! Kendra, Helena, and I

Sunset from the top of Heavenly

Stephanies cute shoes!

The tram that we rode up to the top of Heavenly in

Kyle and Stephanie exchanging their vows

Kendra and I on Pope Beach

Beautiful view from Pope Beach

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Weekend Destination

This weekend my cousin Stephanie is getting married.

I can't believe it! My little cousin is going to become someone's wife. I am so excited to see her get all dolled up in her beautiful dress and recite her vows to her soon to be husband, Kyle. I'm excited to see family. I'm excited to spend time dancing and celebrating with my loved ones. But, the reason that my heart is full of joy and delight is that I will be spending a few days relishing in what is my opinion, one of the most beautiful places in CA/NV.


How I am anxiously anticipating the special quiet that I am determined to get while there! I am looking forward to spending some special time with God sitting by the lake and taking in His creative display in creation. He knows how it causes my heart to fill with peace when I sit silently in His presence. It is something that I desperately need right now.

As I reflect on life lately, I am learning that this is a place of total surrender and dependence on God. It is a place that, honestly, I've never truly been.
A place that He is teaching me that I need to be in times of prosperity as well as in times of need. With my life turned so completely upside down lately, I thought that I would have an excess of time with my Lord. I had this vision that my time with Him would be so perfect right now because of my release from career responsibility and the extra free time.

However, I can't say that that is how it has been.

I've definately spent some very special one on one time with the Lord since losing my job...I've needed Him but I've not given Him my heart and trust fully. Our relationship has been work. I would love to just rest in him.

This realization is good because right now, 3 days before I leave for one of the most beautiful places in my neck of the woods, I am ready to surrender fully.

I will give the Lord every part of my heart.
I will give the Lord every ounce of my trust.
I will give the Lord every moment of my day.
I will give the Lord every thought that scampers through my mind.
I will give Him my entire being.

No more trying to go at it on my own.
No more seeking my best interest.
No more giving my sinful nature the front seat.

My Jesus has paid dearly for my sin, I can give Him back something worthwile; my surrendered heart.

So in just 3 short days, my heart will be blessed: I WILL SEE THE LAKE but more than that, I WILL GET TO WORSHIP MY JESUS IN A SPECIAL WAY!

I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait!

Be assured, pictures will soon be up of the weekend.

For now, here are my latest attempts to put my new photography knowledge to practice

Picture of crayons: reminds me of childhood!

Love truly is patient. Lord help me to see those you've placed in my life as you do.

Sunlight through tree leaves

Rock and pretty wildflowers at Stan State

Monday, August 2, 2010

SnapShot Saturday

Last weekend I had the awesome opportunity to attend a photography workshop that my friend Amber hosted. I was so had actually been on my calendar for over a month. She hosted it at her in laws home/business. It was a beautiful setting for taking pictures. Amber walked us through the basics of photography like exposure, aperture, and shutter speed. She taught us how to freeze motion and how to take a picture where the motion is blurred. It was so much information but I really enjoyed learning. Toward the end of the afternoon I was absolutely confused but with some re-visits to my handy dandy notes, I began to understand it more more clearly. My goal of getting out of auto or program was reached! I finally shot completely in manual with the added bonus of knowing what I was doing! (well, sort of!).

Here are a few of the pics that I took on Saturday.....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kids Campus 2010

Last week my church had our version of VBS called Kids Campus. It was my first time serving in this type of activity. I must say, it was so much fun! I was reminded yet again, that God has placed a deep love in my heart for children. When I became a Christian, that love grew to deeply desiring to see children learn about God.

This week was something that filled me with so much joy. It was a perfect way to uplift my spirit, give me purpose, and fill my heart with happiness.
The week was not was quite challenging. But God worked in a mighty way over the course of the week not only in my group, but in me, and in the other 400 plus kids and staff who were on our campus.

My top 10 favorites of Kids Campus at Big Valley Grace:

1. Hearing the angelic voices of over 300 children singing praises to God.

2. My kiddos wanting to sit next to me during chapel, lunch, quiet time, craft time, etc…they just always wanted to be near me.

3. Freeness of spirit that you see in children.

4. How they worship without any thought to how they appear…true worship from the heart.

5. The servant hearts of the junior high and high school students who helped out.

6. Serving with and getting to know my two eighth graders who assisted with the group. They learned so much too!

7. Recreation time!!!! It was CRAZY FUN!

8. Being able to serve my little ones in a tangible way such as making sure they had enough food during lunch. We got to eat family style with me being responsible for serving them.

9. Hearing my 2nd graders pray to our God.

10. Closing chapel when the sanctuary was quiet, low lit, and the cross was in the center of the stage…sitting next to Cauvion (say-v-on) and him asking who the man on the screen was. When I said “Jesus”, he got excited and said, “that’s Jesus?!”. Sweet to see this very distractable little boy quiet himself long enough to think about Jesus!

I can't wait for next year!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Focus Session 1: Hebrews 12:1-3

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us run with perseverence the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you do not grow weary or lose heart."

Back in April, I attended my church's annual women's retrat. I love women's retreat for many reasons such as the fellowship, the rest, the relaxation, the laughter, the tears, but most of all....the uninterrupted time with my Lord and Savior Jesus.
As you may have already read in one of my previous posts, this years retreat was very timely in my life. It happened a mere two days after I was told some very life changing news. That I was no longer going to be employeed. I was devastated but God made sure that He had something planned for me at the retreat that I could not have planned for myself: His peace, comfort, and control over the situation revealed to me at the perfect time.

Here is my recap of the retreat.

Session 1: Focusing on the race of faith
Colleen started the weekend off by comparing our lives of faith to running a race. As a runner gets ready to run a race, so we too need to get ready to run our race of faith. The first point that she made was that:

1. Faith is not a feeling. It is a choice.
You choose to believe in spite of how you feel. Sometimes our feeling can be so strong that we may "feel" like we will lose our faith in the midst of our trials, but we have to choose faith over our feelings. This is really hard for me, especially right now as some days I "feel" so much and then other days, very little at all.
One statement that gave me strength was, "When you are in the basement of your faith, go back to the truth." One way that she suggested to do this is to journal. She talked about journaling notes to yourself to process what you are feeling. When feeling confused take out your journal and tell God how you feel. One suggestion that Colleen gave that I liked was to journal notes to yourself. So if you are feeling that God is far away, tell yourself in your journal that you feel like God is far away but then, follow it up with the truth of the Word.
Speaking truth into our lives and specifically to our situation, is like learning to drive a car; it takes practice. This is also hard for me because I want it to be automatic. And it is not. It is a process. Another suggestion that she had was to sing to yourself to guard your thoughts. I liked this idea because I love music and am always singing along with my ipod or the radio. But to sing to myself even without music is probably a crucial activity to engage in because I have the tendency to run untruths through my mind.
The second point of running the race of faith is:

2. Faith grows

The growth that accompanies faith is not a single-time gift but rather, a process. It begins as a little seed, growing into a plant, then into a mighty tree. Because faith is a growing process, it is okay to be where I am at this moment. Growth will come through our prayers and God answers prayer. If I pray for my faith to grow, then I can be assured that God will answer that prayer.
One way to make sure that your faith is growing is the ability to praise God in the midst of the stormy times in life. When we praise, we benefit because we get to see who God is. As we praise the Lord, He will grow and eventually our problems will diminish.
Another way that faith grows is through hearing the Word of God. If one desires to grow, she must be in the Word. Being in the Word of God allows a believer to take small parts of scripture to meditate on. Then it is good to pray those word back to the Lord.
Ephesians 1:3 God has blessed us with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING.
Faith also grows through fellowship. In order for our faith to grow, we have to run the race with other believers. We have to be engaged in fellowship, having others know what is going on in our lives. As a runner in a race runs with others and receives encouragement to continue on by seeing others run, we too need to run with our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith and allow their run to encourage us to keep going.

The third point of running the race of faith is:

3. Faith is refined

This point was one that touched a chord for me. To think that we will walk this road of faith without a little burning and pain is naieve. In order for faith to grow, it has to be scorched. If we do not allow God to take us through the fire, we will never be able to affect the lives of others. God will bring peace to our thoughts, He will guard our hearts and minds.
In order to ensure that faith is reproduced, it needs to be scorched. God has allowed the circumstances in our lives that hurt to build our character and to teach us to trust Him. We must let Him bring us through the fire.
Colleen said at this point that "if you feel things contrary to faith, believe God anyway!" This is crucial as I feel a lot of things that are contrary to faith right now. But I must chose to believe. I have to believe that God has brought me to this point because He wants me to get to know Him in a new way. We learn to have faith not in faith itself, but in God!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lord, How I Trust Thee

My God has called me to walk in relationship with Him through this time of great change.
I am tired of it already and it has not even been that long of a journey, but He is calling me to walk in obedience to His voice. I keep asking Him, "Lord, what do you want me to learn through this?" and "Why is it necessary for me to walk THIS road?". I want to ask "Lord, why not another road" but know that it would be a sure sign of the lack of trust in my Lord that I struggle with. I guess I could ask Him because He is my Father and His desire is that, as His child, I would come to Him with an open and vulnerable heart.
So, for today, I choose to follow after Him. To chase after Him. Not that He is leaving me but that I don't want to get too far behind. I want to be walking hand in hand with Him but I am realizing that this is not a stroll that we are on. It is more of a hike and you don't hold hands during a hike. The trail is narrow and you follow the guide ahead of you. And it is hard work. It gets your blood pumping and your heart working harder. And it can feel uncomfortable.
That is me and God right now. He is the guide and I am the one following after Him. We are on a hike toward greater maturity and trust in Him. I don't really want to be on this hike. It is hard and uncomfortable. I'd like to go back to the meadow of comfort but then I would surely miss out on God and that is not something that I am willing to do. I will go this path because the alternative of missing God is much more scary.
Everyone tells me that I can trust Him to lead me. And I do....most of the time.
But every now and then I forget and I cave to my fears.
Fears that really are silly. But in the moment, they feel very real and very big and very life consuming. And my God knows that I struggle with this fear. And He is patient with me.
So for today, I chose to follow my Jesus as He leads me through this dense forest and rough terrain. He is taking me up a high mountain and I must trust that He is going to protect me. He will not be unconcerned for my safety, He will not chide me and taunt me with all the things that I've done wrong and the ways that I've messed up. Or criticize me for lacking courage. He will be patient with me and wait for me when I am afraid. He will encourage me to take each step. And when I grow weary, He will encourage me to keep going. He will grab my hand and help me when I am afraid to step from one level to the next. He will not let me go.

He is faithful and I am going to trust Him.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Unchanging and Faithful

Life has changed in every way possible. Over the last month, I've had to work my way through believing that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

Last month, on April 21st to be exact, I found out that I was not to be reconsidered for re-election at my job. This basically means that I won't be offered a contract to teach again next year.

I was flabbergasted and at once, my heart shattered into many, many tiny fragmented pieces. I suddenly was overcome with feelings of shame, guilt, failure, and remorse. I now realize that satan was working on overdrive in order to get me to believe his filthy lies. That I was a total and complete failure. That I had no future. That my world as I knew it was over. That my God was not who He said He was. That I would fall apart.

But he did not succeed..

I was told and reminded that no matter what, my God is who He says He is.

That is, unchanging....

Malachi 3:6 "I the LORD do not change."

1 Samuel 15:29 "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."

Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that he should lie,nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"

James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

and faithful......

Exodus 34:6 "And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness"

Deuteronomy 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands."

Psalm 18:25 "To the faithful you show yourself faithful,to the blameless you show yourself blameless"

Psalm 33:4 "For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does."

Psalm 36:5 "Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies."

Psalm 86:15 "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness"

Psalm 91:4 "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

Lamentations 3:22-23 "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;great is your faithfulness."

1 Corinthians 1:9 "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."

2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."

Hebrews 10:23 "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."

Revelation 19:11 "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war."

He will hold me and lead me into a new path toward greater holiness.
I am struggling with natural human emotions and grief. I've learned that this is a very natural process and that I have to walk through it. But, the sweetest thing of all is that I don't have to walk through it alone. I have the Creator of the earth to walk me, holding my hand and leading me into a new experience.

He is the reason that I get up in the morning and get dressed. He is the reason that I go to work and try to love on the little ones that I have for such a short period of time left. He is the reason that I am still able to sing His praises. He is the reason that I continue on.

If it were not for Him, I honestly don't know how I would be handling this.

I don't know how people who do not have a relationship with the Lord, respond to trials, tribulations, and tests in their lives.

I just know that without my Jesus, I would be completely lost.

Through this trial, I have discovered a beauty in the body of Christ that I've not experienced before. My sisters in Christ have stepped up and entered into my crisis and have shouldered the burden and pain of my trial. They have helped me lift my head when all I can do is hang it in shame. They are a source of support that I desperetly need and I am eternally grateful for their devotion.

My God is with me in this...even in this.

The phrase that I was told by my sweet friend Tricia is from a Beth Moore study and it says

"If this, then God."

That is crucial to me.....

If I lose my job, then God.

If I lose my house, then God.

If I lose my security, then God.

Because it does not matter what life throws at me....with God I can do all things and He is faithful and unchanging.

I can trust Him in the midst of uncertainty and everpresent change, because He does not change.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Lazies....

Today is Saturday, the sun is shinning, and I am sitting here on this computer looking at the mess in my bedroom. What I'd really like to be doing is be outside clipping flowers or going for a walk but just can't get myself to get going. I do need to be in Turlock in about an hour and a half so I will need to get moving but that is just not the point.
The point is that I have so much to do and the battle with procrastination and laziness is a tough one to fight.
Actually, I am tired of fighting anyway....guess that explains the reason for my idle mindset.
I've struggled with procrastination since I was a little kid. It was always on my report card and was typically the number one complaint that my teachers had against me. I was just a big procrastinator. I don't know why.....I am considering it right now as I contemplate my life and why I am the way that I am.
This procrastination has many times infliltrated my relationship with the Lord....I'm just too darn lazy to spend time with Him too. I wish that I could shake a magic wand over myself and make me "more normal"...whatever that is!
I just want to have a fulfilling, peace filled relationship with the Lord. And, truth be told, I don't. I have a difficult, struggle to obey, often more rote than riviting relationship with Him.
But what I've learned is that it is okay. My obedience to Him right now is the cord that is keeping me attached to Him. I don't FEEL like obeying but I must. I don't have anything else in this life to cling to or be attached to like my Lord. If not for Him, I would chase one lie after another.
I want to be chasing after the truth....I want truth in my inmost parts so deep that it fills me with total satisfaction, fulfillment, energy, passion.
Right now....I'm teetherd to my Father, but not feeling any life blood flowing through the cord.
What does that mean????
I don't know. All I do know is that I'd rather have this umbilical cord attached than cut.
Never do I want separation from my Lord and Savior to be a characteristic of my life. I'd rather have obedience attachment with little or no feeling associated than separation.
So, where do I go from here???
Well, for today I am going to get myself dressed, make up on, hair combed, and head out the door for my appointment. Then I will visit a few discount stores while I'm in town and then I might head for a drive in the country and hash out these things with the Lord. I know that He knows them...heavens, I've already shared them here! But I think that I need a little bit of time with Him alone and distraction free.

So, for today, may the Lord bless you and keep you...may the Lord make His face shine upon you and give you peace!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Serving the Body of Christ: Patsy Clairmont Weekend

This weekend was our church's big women's event. We had the wonderful delight and privilige to host Patsy Clairmont on Friday night and Saturday morning. It truly was a delight to serve the body during this event. I had been invited about a month ago by one of our women's ministry leaders to serve at the event. I was quick to say yes and waited to hear what my job would be. At our meeting to talk about the event I found out that I'd be helping out with the food, which I was happy to do. But upon looking at Colleen's list of jobs, it seemed that there were not enought ladies listed for the book table. I asked her if I could help out with the book table and she said yes.
On Friday afternoon before the event I and many, many other ladies went to the church early to help fill 1500 gift bags with treats for the women. IT.WAS.QUITE.A.BIG.JOB!!!!!!! But oh so much fun :) Starting early on Friday helped get me going for the event....serving is so fun when approached from the perspective of "what can I do to bring glory to God" and totally and completely giving Him the control of the entire event!
I would venture to say that our event turned out so wonderfully because of the leadership and direction of our ministry leaders: Connie, Colleen, and Gretchen.....these ladies are true servants and disciples. They continually seek the Lord in all maters related to the women of our church and in their own personal lives. With their hearts focused on serving the women of our church and the community, God's plan was put into working order and many, many, many women were impacted by the Lord.
I just absolutely love my church and am excited to walk the road that the Lord has planned for me at Big Valley. Serving Him is a delight and I am filled with a renewed love and passion for his people!

Here are a few pics from the event......

Serving the Body of Christ with my fellow sisters in the Lord, Carol and Sarah

Miss Patsy Clairmont speaking at our women's event....she was so wonderful!

Thought how funny it was that I tried, and tried, and tried to get a good pic of Patsy but she always had her mouth open in the picture! Guess she would agree that there is hardly a moment when her mouth is not closed....Praise God that out of her mouth comes His praises! She is a precious, precious, woman of God!

Me and my sweet friend her!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Little gods

It's happened yet again....I've been duped into believing that I can attain some semblence of worth and purpose in my life from something or someone apart from God himself.

What is it about the little gods in my life that I am so attracted to????? I know better...I know the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each time that it happens I ask myself "Bethany, why is it that you get yourself caught up in this pit of idolatry over and over and over again???".
The question asked in a moment of frustration produces feelings of shame, guilt, anger, depression, etc....

I don't know why I fall again and again into this awful pit......I HATE torments me when I fail to see and understand that my God is the only one worthy of my deepest love and adoration.
Too many times I fall and attribute these affections to that which He has created.

I want to be free from it but I get confused. I don't understand how to give my heart fully and completely to God. Don't get me wrong, I know how to love God, how to worship God, how to serve God....but to surrender to Him and to give my full adoration to someone that I cannot physically see, feel, or's just so hard sometimes to understand it.

But, more than the frustration of trying to figure it all out is the shame, guilt, and despair that I feel when I give that love, adoration, and loyalty to anyting that is not Him.

These are the "little gods" in my life; the things that I try to find purpose and meaning in. Some of them are good things...good for me and God honoring in the beginning. But they turn into "gods" before long and cease to bring glory to my God and Father. Some of these "gods" are useless things like excess food, negative thought patterns, and bitterness. These things just need to go!!!!! But the things that are "good" like relationships, church work, do you not let those aspects of your life become "gods"?....

I think that the answer is to give yourself fully, without reservation, and uncovered to the one true GOD! He has made me and he knows me. He knows that I contemplate with deep frustration how all of these aspects of the Christian life work together and He tells me that his thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are his ways my ways.....rather his thoughts and ways are higher than my own. Read it for yourself here out of his Word:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

This verse brings me some comfort because it describes to me that I cannot understand His ways. But that I have to trust Him in that state of not understanding. His ways are higher than mine and if they are higher, I have to trust that they are better also. He has a plan and He will make sure that it is brought to completion. I can choose to join Him in it or to chase after all my "little gods"....

Which will I choose?

Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14-15

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Notes

Happy Valentines Day bloggie friends!

On this day of love, may the love of our Lord and Savior fill your heart completely. He is the one true love, always dependable, never failing, and His love is unconditional and extravant. It is the most scandalous love that we've ever known.
So, today as you celebrate with your special someone or if you are alone, remember you are loved immensely by the one who is love.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." Jeremiah 31:3

"However, the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you" Deuteronomy 23:5

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." Psalm 63:3

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Beautiful Is The Body of Christ! Part 2

Warning: Lots of pictures and very long post!

So, last weekend I had the awesome privilige to attend the Scripture Memory Team Celebration in Houston Tx. If you read my last post, you understand how I was able to attend this event. If you did not read it...I suggest that you do so now....just too much info to put back into this post (it'll be long enough anyway!!!).
When I left off on the last post, I was telling you how wonderful it was to travel with my new sweet friend Yvonne and how we got settled into our humble abode at the Omni Hotel in Houston. Yeah...that was such a wonderful blessing!!!!

I also told you how God had caused our paths to cross with our new sister in the Lord, Tami from South Dakota. Well, here is a picture of Tami, Yvonne, and I....aren't these gals just beautiful....they shine with the love of Christ :)

Yvonne, Tami, and I
On Friday afternoon, Y, T, and I were hanging out in the lobby of the Omni Hotel and who do we run smack dab into??? Of course it was Travis (our resident Miesta on the blog and incredible worship leader) and Georgia Jan (I love this gal!!!!). I am so glad that we got to meet and hug each others necks! The body of Christ just never ceases to amaze me. I am incredibly blessed.
Me and Travis.

Sweet, beautiful Georgia Jan....

After we had chatted with Jan, Twinkle (for the life of me, I can't remember her name), Wendy and Emmy we ran into this lovely group of ladies. Here we have Tracy, Heather, and Deidre.
Heather, Yvonne, Traci, Deidre, Beth, Tami
In God's perfect plan and timing, He caused Yvonne, Tami, and I to meet these gals. I had seen a post on the LPM blog a month or so back that Deidre posted that caused my heart to bleed for her. I emailed her to offer condolances and a bit of encouragement. She responded and my heart was so full, but as life would have it, I got busy and forgot about my sweet siesta and whether she would come to the event.
So when we met in the lobby of the hotel it clicked with me who Deidre was and how awesome our God is that He brought her right smack dab into our midst.
He is good...yes, He is!
Quick little bit of humor: Deidre was not too keen on eating Mexican food that night (neither was I!) but she was a trooper and we got through it together (with the help of her tums...thanks siesta!). She even tried avocado! Totally foreign to Yvonne and I who, probably from being native to CA, eat a ton of them. Just was not Deidre's thing :)
The girls at Houston's First Baptist....I was so excited to hear what the Lord would speak to me!

Little photo collage of the weekend at the celebration.

Top left picture is a scripture verse that I found in the bathroom of all places! I was so excited to see it because it was one of my verses for the year. I had to go back out to the lobby to get my camera to take a pic of it! I'm pathetic I know...but I have this insatiable need to document my life via photos!!!
Another God Story from the weekend is this one:

About a year ago, I stumbled across a blog written by a sweet gal named Katie from Tennessee. She writes so intimately from her heart about her life and her relationship with the Lord. We've been bloggie friends for the past year and in the course of that year, Katie became pregnant with her little miracle girl. Because she was due with "little girl" right around the time of the celebration, she was not going to be able to attend. About a week prior to the trip, Katie had posted a comment on my blog saying that her sister was going to the celebration and asked if I was going. As life would have it, I became so super busy that I was unable to respond to Katie. Then on Friday night after the 1st session, a group of siestas were hanging out in the presidential suite in the hotel. 2 gals walked in and I went over to say hello. We introduced ourselves (I think) and within a few minutes, I realized that I was speaking to Katie's sister Matia!!!! Our God is so good! Matia and I were so excited to meet each other because of our bond with Katie but as we talked into the night hours we found that we had a bond as sisters in the was wonderful!!!!!
Me and my sweet friend Yvonne....I love her!

Another collage of the weekend during the celebration: beth, melissa, travis, amanda and much fun!

The hotel had this pond out in the front where there were black swans swimming. I just had to get a picture but I had been told that they were aggressive. I found that they were quite pleasant. While photographing the swans, I saw a family of turtles....this little guy was the only one brave enough to stay on the embankment when I came near.

Little lone turtle....need I say more?!

Melissa with the lone turtle....

The pretty black swan...

My new friends hanging out in the lobby of the hotel. I think that we were getting ready to go to the Galleria.

Our little group. These gals will forever occupy a special place in my heart. Girls, I hope to spend time with you again :)
A larger group of Siestas that went out to dinner after the event on Saturday. Here we have Yvonne, Audrey, Tracy, Bridgette, Tami, Beth, Melissa, and Traci.
I was so excited to meet Audrey and Bridgette. Audrey was the gal who organized and orchestrated all of the siestas wearing a pink boa and the various places for us to get food. You know food is always a part of fellowship and it is just wonderful! (although this weekend, I was having terrible tummy issues so satan was trying to sabotage my joy. He worked hard but did not succeed!!!) One of the fun things that I got to do was go to The Chocolate Bar with Audrey and Bridgette. Chocolate covered everything! I bought a chocolate covered strawberry for myself and brought one back for Yvonne (who decided to stay back at the hotel).
Because I was so blessed to stay the entire weekend, I was able to attend church at HFBC. We ran into Amanda in the lobby of the church that morning and decided to join her and others in the chapel for the contemporary style of worship and watched Pastor Gregg Matte on the video screen. I loved it! It was a great experience and remided me very much of being at BVG.

Siesta, Melana, Adrienne, Tracy, Yvonne, and I in the chapel after the service.

Dropping Traci off at her air terminal
Meeting Traci was another blessing that God dropped into my lap! She is such a sweet siesta and I really enjoyed getting to spend special time with her. Traci: thank you for your love and kindness and thank you for your prayer for my illness on Saturday. Love you sister!
Beth, Melana, Miesta Moose, and Tracy

On the way home. Tracy and I met up with Melana (Moose Mama) and Miesta Moose. She is such a sweet gal. Really enjoyed getting to spend a little time with her in the airport.
I was so blessed to be able to travel from Houston to Dallas with Tracy and wait in the airport with her until her flight and mine departed. God is sooo sooo good to provide me with exactly what I needed because, truth be told, I was a little frightened to be in the airport by myself for the first leg of the trip home (Yvonne and I met up in Dallas).
This trip was amazing! God really spoke truths into my heart about his body, about His word and about my life. I will fill you in on what Beth taught in the next post.