Author: Beth
•Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Every once in awhile, I come across something that just stops me in my tracks. That is what this quote did for me this past week. I just sometimes need it straight and simple: "Beth, I know what is best for you." Even when life is confusing, this is the anchor that gives me indescribable hope. So, I thought I would share it with you all, in case you need a little reminder too. =) Let's keep our eyes on the heavenly, my friends... He sees. He knows. He controls. He LOVES.

Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is sand-bank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel, and deviate so much from a straight line?” his answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbor at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction, where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little; you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection.

Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.

You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down, busy self and proud impatience; it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!
~ Charles Spurgeon (emphasis mine)

He shall choose our inheritance for us.” — Psalm 47:4

Author: Beth
•Friday, December 04, 2009

Oh and when the love spills over,
And music fills the night,
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!*

I love those moments. Those "dance for Jesus" moments. Even if your feet never leave the floor, those are the times when the joy swells up inside and flows to every part of your being... and your heart does a soaring waltz of happiness. Smiles. Laughter. Maybe even some tears.
  • Like taking road trips with friends and having those heart-to-heart discussions in the darkness of the car
  • Or seeing your entire family hold hands to pray together over Thanksgiving
  • Or witnessing a breathtaking sunset that God painted in your favorite colors after a hard day of work
  • Or holding a newborn baby
  • Or watching newlywed friends decorate their first Christmas tree together
  • Or singing psalms until the tears run down your face
  • Or staying up late just to be together and laugh (even when you can't remember why the next day)
And the list goes on... and on...

I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately. It's those brief moments when heaven and earth collide and, just for awhile, things feel right with the world. Life seems to shine a little brighter, we breathe a little deeper, and we linger a little longer.

Maybe we even dance a little. :)

It's a strange phenomenon to be happy in this world. Long-term happiness is often viewed as something reserved for the delusional and unrealistic dreamers. After all, we know these moments can't last forever. Sooner or later, the circumstances change, and the emotional roller-coaster dips again.

But I've been thinking about how to maintain happiness - a true kind of joy - even when the circumstances change. When the music stops. The glorious bliss of that dancing moment fades. I'm not talking about surfing from one emotional high to the next. I'm talking about digging down deeper. Much deeper. All the way down to the source.

"How happy a person is depends on the depth of his gratitude." - John Miller

That's it. Gratitude.

The Bible so often interchanges the words 'blessed' and 'happy.' Being blessed with something means that there is a Giver. Any happiness that comes from that blessing is ultimately praise to the One who gave it.

We, as beloved children of our Heavenly Father, are happy people when we are grateful people.

We have been chosen. Forgiven. Redeemed. Delivered. Reconciled. Established. Completed. It's because "Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God..." (1 Peter 3:18)

The world becomes just a little sweeter. The sunset seems a little more brilliant. The deep conversations with friends become more meaningful. Family becomes more dear. The Word of God becomes more alive. Every single thing is able to be enjoyed more fully because of Jesus Christ.

That's happiness.

Doesn't it just make you want to sing?! Standing in the shadow of the cross, knowing that you are loved by the King... it is enough to leave nothing but grateful awe and a joy that far surpasses any other notion.
"The one who knows and rests in the sovereign grace of God should be the happiest saint. Don't be a sour or glum or hostile false advertisement for the glory of God's grace. Praise it. Rejoice in it. And don't let that be a show. Do it in your closet until it is spilling over in the pulpit and in the commons." - J. Piper
I don't know about you, but I certainly need reminded of that from time to time. There's my post-Thanksgiving thought for you all. :) Have a happy, glorious day!

~ Beth

"Behold how blessed such people are! O happy people who can say they have the Lord to be their God!" - Psalm 144:15

*song lyrics from one of my favorites: 'Come to Jesus' by Chris Rice, which is also the background music from the mission to India video [ here. ]
Author: Beth
•Monday, November 02, 2009
This is the thought that started off my week. May it help your perspective on the "ripples" that you send forth this week - whether big or small! :)

"Do small things as if they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ - who works them in us and who lives our life; and great things as small and easy, because of His omnipotence." - Hudson Taylor

Author: Beth
•Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My mom passed along this quote to me after knowing of several "unanswered" prayer requests of mine as of late. I found it encouraging and thought some of you might as well. :) I had not thought of silence in this way before. It is a refreshing reminder to refocus my mind on the utter sovereignty of Almighty God, because He waits..."that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you...blessed are all they that wait for Him." (Isaiah 30:18)

God's Silence
John 11:5, 6

How many of us have been blind in our prayers? Look back and think of the prayers you thought had not been answered but now find that God has answered with a bigger manifestation than you ever dreamed. God has trusted you in the most intimate way He could trust you, with an absolute silence, not of despair but of pleasure, because He saw you could stand a much bigger revelation than you had at the time.

Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can understand. Jesus stayed where He was - a positive staying, because He loved Martha and Mary. Did they get Lazarus back? They got infinitely more, they got to know the greatest truth mortal beings ever knew - that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. It will be a wonderful moment when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamored for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God's silence has been the sign of the answer. If we always want to be able to point to something and say, "This is the way God answered my prayer," God cannot trust us yet with His silence.
-Oswald Chambers
Author: Beth
•Friday, October 23, 2009

It couldn’t be true. Abraham looked over at his sleeping son, Isaac, and watched as the moonlight sent silvery streaks over his peaceful tanned face. Itseemed like just yesterday that Abraham had gazed at the star-studded midnight sky as God told him to expect many generations. At his old age, having children was almost laughable. Yet, God kept his promises, and Abraham was now looking at his son. His son! Isaac had grown up and was the light of the old man’s eyes. But now, he could not fathom what he was hearing.

“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon the mountains which I will tell you.”

It was true. He had heard God correctly. Tears slid down the old man’s wrinkled cheeks as he grasped his son’s hand. Isaac had been given by God, Abraham could not deny that… but now God wanted him back? Questions and doubts rose in Abraham’s mind -- Why, God? Why did you give him if you only wanted to take him away again? He shook his head resolutely, as if to rid himself of the tormenting questions.

With a sigh, Abraham lifted his eyes away from the sleeping boy and out to the eastern sky. It would be light in a few hours. The rising sun would soon silhouette the mountain on which they would climb. He had wrestled long and hard with himself, as he struggled between his love for his son and his love for God. The time had come. Abraham slowly unclasped his fingers and released his son’s hand. He had made the decision.


The story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 has often been a passage that we turn to in order to read an account of faith. I’ve been musing on the life of this patriarch this morning… trying to “shake the sand out of my sandals” as I put myself in his shoes. Have you ever stopped to consider all of the emotions that must have come surging through Abraham’s veins following the command from God? The Bible doesn’t give an account of his inner turmoil or agony, but I can imagine how it must have been.

Every word that God spoke in this command must have been a sword right to the heart of Abraham. God knew what he cherished the most and He was asking nothing less than complete surrender of the one thing that encompassed everything that Abraham loved.

Only hours later, Abraham would stand on the mountain – with the glistening blade of the knife poised against the blue sky – making the decision once and for all. He would have to prove that his faith was real … not just a casual belief when it was convenient, but a living, thriving, active faithfulness to God and His promises.

I can never seem to get past the agony of that mountain climb in my mind. Perhaps it is because that is the place in the story that I most often find myself … wrestling inside with what I KNOW to be true and what I FEEL. Maybe Abraham didn’t struggle with this … but I know I would have. This is my Isaac: my joy. My promise of the future. Why would I give it up? All rational thought would have said to hang on to what I can see about my future, rather than releasing the only thread of “hope” that my eyes could see. It is an upward struggle against the flesh – to come to that point of suppressing what I “feel” in order that I might take hold of the truth that awaits on the mountaintop.

John Calvin says it this way: “Therefore, in order that we may become docile a
nd obedient to God, it is profitable for us that we should be deprived of our own wisdom, and that nothing should be left us, but to resign ourselves to be led according to His will.” By releasing Isaac in his heart (and thus making it possible to even entertain the thought of slaying him according to God’s command), Abraham was letting go of any earthly wisdom that he possessed, and choosing rather to throw himself completely upon the mercy and truth of his Father. He was saying by his actions: “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”

If I am to become a useful vessel in the hands of Almighty God, this lesson of surrender is absolutely crucial. “God, by His word, calls us to part with all for Christ, all our sins, tho’ they have been as a right hand or a right eye, or an Isaac; all these things that are rivals with Christ for the sovereignty of our heart; and we must cheerfully let them all go.” (John Wesley)

The beauty of this surrender lies in the character of God Himself. He is not requiring us to give up these lesser joys – without promising to fill us with the Greater Joy.

“Those that are willing to part with anything for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage. The promise (verse 18) doubtless points at the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel. Hereby we know the loving-kindness of God our Savior towards sinful man, in that he hath not withheld his Son, his only Son, from us. Hereby we perceive the love of Christ, in that he gave himself a sacrifice for our sins. Yet He lives, and calls to sinners to come to Him, and partake of His blood-bought salvation. He calls to His redeemed people to rejoice in Him, and to glorify Him.” (Matthew Henry)

May this kind of love constrain me to live for something more than just myself. His grace is enough. Whatever is dearest on earth to me pales in comparison to the sacrifice that He laid down for my salvation. May it be said of us, as it was of Abraham …

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” (Romans 4:20)

Picture from Oregon coast – October 2008.

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, October 07, 2009

One of the beauties of living as a child of the King is that - no matter what stage of life we are in - we can be channels of His truth. I've been the witness at many weddings this summer and it has been a pure joy to see how God has united the hearts of many dear friends to be a picture to the watching world of His relationship with His Bride, the church. Seeing these beautiful, God-honoring love stories right before my eyes reminds me that there is a deeper purpose for marriage - one uniquely invented and sustained by God Himself. Here is a sneak peek into a few of these celebrations - along with some thoughts about the effects of this blessed union on the individual, couple, and to the world.

"We are souls living in bodies. Therefore, when we really fall in love, it isn't just a physical attraction. If it's just that, it won't last. Ideally, it's also a spiritual attraction. God has opened our eyes and let us see into someone's soul. We have fallen in love with the inner person, the person who's going to live forever. That is why God is the greatest asset to romance. He thought it up in the first place. Include Him in every part of your marriage, and He will lift it above the level of the mundane to something rare and beautiful and lasting." ~ Peter Marshall

"Marriage is not a federation of two sovereign states. It is a union - domestic, social, spiritual, physical. It is the fusion of two hearts - the union of two lives - the coming together of two tributaries, which, after being joined in marriage will flow in the same channel in the same direction... carrying the same burdens of responsibility and obligation." ~ Peter Marshall

“Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to his redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married . . . Staying married, therefore, is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant.” —John Piper, This Momentary Marriage

Welcome one another . . . for the glory of God.” That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be “for the praise of his glory.” Amen. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pictures: Michael & Evie (June 14), Eric & Alissa (July 31), John & Rebekah (September 12), Matt & Naomi (September 26) and Nathan & Valerie (October 3) . May God richly bless you all!

Author: Beth
•Monday, October 05, 2009
It is that time of year again. The calendar on my wall now prominently displays the month of October and I am resigned to say goodbye to the last glimpses of summer. The trees are already donning their fall fashions of brilliant yellows, golden browns, reds and oranges, arraying themselves in one last glorious display. My boots and scarves are finding their way to the front of my closet once again as I embrace the underlying chill in the breeze.

Autumn brings the brisk winds of change. For some reason, changes in my life seem to be felt more keenly during this season more than any other. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to deal with a new season of life that I find myself in. I wanted to pass along some quotes that I came across over at Pastor Tullian Tchividjian's blog that have been tremendously encouraging.

From Knowing God by J.I. Packer

In regards to changes in life... what possible purposes God might have in mind?

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under
especially difficult conditions.

Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us.

Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit.

Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. . . .

Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling.

Packer continues:

We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs. Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here. . . . Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.

But how should we respond to baffling and trying situations when we cannot now see God’s purpose in them?

First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us; Second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.

If we do these two things, we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles.

Isn’t that envigorating? With this kind of Sovereign GOD planning our lives, we can rest assured that He is “able to do far more abundantly than we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20) ...and even when we can’t see His hand, we can still trust His heart.
~ Beth
Author: Beth
•Saturday, September 19, 2009

One of my favorite parts of history has always been the pioneer era. I was the child gallivanting around my neighborhood in braids and mismatched sunbonnets, wondering why we couldn’t just all live in log cabins and play fiddle music. (I admit that my romanticized notions of such life have been largely influenced by Little House on the Prairie.) One thing I read that pioneers often did was “pan for gold.” Of course, I eagerly tried that too - rather unsuccessfully, I might add.

Well, gone are the days of plaid aprons, but I realized tonight that I still do “pan for gold” – in a different way. Rather than sifting through rocks on a creek bed, I find myself sorting out more “grownup” thoughts through pen and paper. Yeah… journaling.

I don’t know about you, but my journals usually consist of just the “raw data” – the unpolished flow of emotions that just spill out onto the page, without much rhyme, reason, or readability (hence the reason I marvel at such people like Jim Elliot whose private journals are incredibly profound.) Somehow, thankfully, God always seems to sift through my jumbled thoughts by showing me some shining nugget of truth from His Word.

I found myself doing some pretty intense “panning for gold” tonight and wanted to share with you an incredibly precious truth that God brought to the surface in my life.

Why? Because sometimes we just need the simple truth. Forget the flowery words, creative introductions, detailed outlines, or sophisticated profundity. When life gets confusing, there is one solution for peace… and that is a mind that is resting on Christ’s truth alone (Isaiah 26:3). The rest of the silt will just fade away.

So, here is a little treasure for you to take hold of right now. Perhaps it will be a shining light of hope in whatever situation you are going through, as it has been in mine tonight.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10)

This is saying to me…

My precious child, do not be afraid… of being lonely, rejected, ashamed or unloved. Remember that I am with you. I’m not just ‘within call’ – but I am right here beside you. Don’t be dismayed – don’t be gazing around you with anxiety. Remember I am your Eloheim, your Creator, Preserver, Transcendent God, Mighty, and Strong. I have three promises for you. Are you weak? I will strengthen you – cause you to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold, solid, and hard. Are you in want? I will be your help, your support, your aid. Are you ready to fall? I will uphold you – you are in the palm of my hand – grasped, supported, held fast. I’m hanging on to you with my right hand – the one that is full of righteousness, dealing forth both rewards and punishments. I am the Lord God, and I am faithful to my promises.

Trusting God along with you,


Author: Beth
•Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Last night, we had a beautiful sunset.

Grabbing my jacket, I seated myself on my front porch with my laptop, hoping to draw from the depths of inspiration that displayed itself so richly before my eyes. The sky was painted in elaborate hues of coral pink and dusky purple, as the last golden rays feathered lightly over the clouds and gently faded into the pastel display.

Several minutes passed, and my fingers didn’t move a muscle from the keyboard. Eventually, I just closed my laptop.

One of the most frustrating things to a writer is when we discover that words just aren’t enough. This is the hardest part when it comes to writing about God. What can I do to make these feeble words describe His power? His sovereignty? His majesty? His glory?

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

It’s something that I can’t even fully grasp in my mind, much less write about.

How can I put into words the feelings of awe that come when I look out over majestic mountain ranges, feel the mist of a mighty ocean on my face, or watch a thunderstorm roll in? How can I do justice to His sovereignty, as I look back and see how He has written every single chapter of life so perfectly? What human words can express a Father’s love for his child, the wisdom of His ways, or the depths of His thoughts?

Although I continue to write, it is with the knowledge that the words that are penned here will never be enough to fully and adequately give Him the glory that He deserves.

But His words are.

So, take a moment and rest your thoughts on these words. Read them out loud, even. Truly, it doesn’t get any better than from the mouth of God Himself.

You who bring good tidings to Zion,
Go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
Lift up your voice with a shout,
Lift it up, do not be afraid;
Say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
And His arm rules for Him.
See, His reward is with Him,
And His recompense accompanies Him.
He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
And carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
Or weighed the mountains on the scales
And the hills in a balance?
Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
Or instructed Him as His counselor?
Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him,
And who taught Him the right way?
Who was it that taught Him knowledge
Or showed Him the path of understanding?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
And its peoples are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
And spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught
And reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

“To whom will you compare Me?
Or who is My equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
And calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength,
Not one of them is missing.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
And His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
And increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the LORD
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not faint.
~Excerpts from Isaiah 40~
Picture 1: Mount Hood, Oregon - October, 2008
Picture 2 - Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean, India - June, 2009
Picture 3 - Indianapolis, Indiana in the fall- October, 2007
Picture 4 - Somewhere between Crawford and Dallas, Texas - June, 2008
Author: Beth
•Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Good morning, friends.

I ran across this quote this morning and it directly spoke to me and this topic that I wrote about in my last post. Enjoy and be blessed as you live for Him today.

~ Beth


"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not..., but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." - Luke 10: 19,20

Jesus Christ says, in effect, Don't rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring out rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfill God's purpose, as long as your keep in the light as God is in the light.

The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived. The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that Our Lord heeds in a man's life is the relationship of worth to His Father...

~ Oswald Chambers

HT: Janille Myers
Author: Beth
•Thursday, July 30, 2009
When I think about having a “Ripple Effect” – I almost immediately think about action. We are people that are often driven by what we do… sometimes to the detriment of forgetting who we are. God reminded me of this recently, and I thought I would share a little of what God has been showing me through a busy schedule and a well-known Bible story.

With a great sigh, I collapsed into my bed. Every muscle protested in rebellion and my tired brain seemed tied up in knots. Tears stung the back of my eyes, but I was too tired to even cry.

It was the middle of a busy week – Wednesday, to be exact – and it felt like it should be Friday. Already I had reached my limit and my date with my pillow was long overdue.

As I sank back on the disheveled covers that had been forsaken in great haste that morning, my mind flashed the scenes from the past couple of days. Shuffling papers, answering phones, painting walls, cooking food for a crowd, meeting with people, juggling details and learning a new job had taken more energy than I had to give. The fulfillment that used to come from being “busy” had turned into the tyrannical dictator of exhaustion.

As my brain drifted out of consciousness, I had a sinking feeling in my heart. Even with all that had been accomplished, I still felt like I had failed.

What is wrong with me? I moaned inwardly. Sleep overcame before I could answer.

The next morning, the cruel sound of the alarm clock jolted my senses all too soon, I once again found myself at work… still rubbing sleep out of my eyes. The question that haunted my dreams the night before returned. Why do I feel like this? I am doing what I’m supposed to do … serving God. Isn’t that supposed to make me fulfilled?

In the back of my mind, I knew otherwise. I knew that at the end of the day, it’s not enough to have a busy life. Even a busy serving life.

With a guilty sigh, I opened up my Bible … trying not to think about how many days had passed since I last truly read it, beyond just the routine reading. Ouch.

God had someone for me to meet … again.

We had met before. In fact, I could see her profile in much of my life, even though she lived and died around two thousand years ago. She was the one “distracted with much serving.” (Luke 10:39). In my mind’s eye, I could see her slaving over the menus, checking the vegetables to see if they were overdone, making sure the plates were out on the table on time. I could see the pile of papers in the back office, silently screaming for attention. I could see her calendar that was filled with red markings and circled events – trying making sure nothing fell through the cracks.

It all sounded way too familiar.

Jesus had this gentle rebuke for his weary and frustrated child: “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” (verse 41) I love the tenderness and compassion that comes through His words. He knows that we as busy people tend to find our identity and affirmation based on what we accomplish. Serving? Yes, it’s a good thing. But He cares more about our hearts than about our actions. He wants us to focus on the one thing: Himself.

As I read through the story and saw the contrast between Martha and her sister Mary, I thought about what it means to live and work in the presence of Jesus.

When we go to church, we enter into a sanctuary (a refuge, a consecrated place) to worship the Lord. Living our lives out in His presence is living a “sanctuary life.” This is a heart attitude that goes much deeper than our “to do” list.

There is a daily battle that is raging inside of us over what we love most – God or something else. If Jesus doesn’t have our hearts, then everything that we do is simply wasted energy. What He really wants are servants who are willing to sit at His feet – to have the continual attitude of communion with God regardless of the activities that surround our day. He then becomes the strength and the joy behind the work that our hands find to do.

That is the kind of life I want to live.

Author: Beth
•Sunday, July 19, 2009
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the day time stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett
Picture from the beautiful Oregon countryside - June, 2009.
Author: Beth
•Wednesday, July 01, 2009
(The following is a somewhat belated post which wraps up a few thoughts about my recent travels.)

This morning, I woke up to the bright sunrays dancing off the walls of my bedroom. For the first time, I didn’t have to wonder where I was. After several weeks of seeing those same sunrays dance off of hotel rooms, guest bedrooms, and church walls of India, I am now back in the place I call home.

It’s a good place to be.

Many people have asked about my travels.So, how was it??” Oh, the words can never say…

Did you meet any interesting people on the airplanes?

My favorite was the dear elderly lady during my flight to Portland who was estatic about the possibility of Jesus coming back while we were in the air. :)

How did you like the food?

If I could spend my life eating with my fingers like they do in India, I would.

Did you see anything interesting?

Do mountain ranges, three oceans, volcanoes, and wild elephants count?

I love the questions. Even if I don’t have answers. But one reoccurring question that I can never seem to really answer is this:

Are you back to normal yet?


I’ll have to think about that one.

It’s true, I’m over jetlag. I’m not stared at in the grocery store anymore. I’m not swatting mosquitos, running through jam-packed traffic, or hearing security guard whistles in my sleep. I’m sleeping in a bed, driving my car back to work, laughing with my brothers, and doing all the things I did before (although I’m still taking those malaria pills!) I’m back in the familiar places with the familiar people. I know those dear people mean well when they ask about my physical wellbeing. But deep inside, I know that my normal – my spiritual “normal” – will never be the same… nor should it be.

Traveling is a very reflective exercise. Since my feet have been on solid ground for many days now, I’ve had time to think. I’ve gone through my pictures, re-read my journal, re-lived the memories, and have done a lot of talking with my Father about it all.

Being back home launches me into a new kind of journey … that of reconciling where I’ve been with where I am. That journey alone has possibilities of changing my life all over again.

It’s hard.

In India, I was a person with one mission, one goal. The people there didn’t know anything about me except that I was from America, I had two hands, and I was there for them. The past was irrelevant and the future was unknown, but the present was a new adventure every day with God. I would see new places, touch new hands, look into new eyes… and see Him in it all. I was surrounded by people who passionately loved God and desired to see His Word spread – and it was contagious. In the mornings, He would meet me though His Word on the roof and give me new vigor and perspective about everything in life… in that faraway place where I was undistracted and completely surrendered. I was totally and completely there.

It was beautiful. It was humbling. And I want to be that person…


The problem with “normal” for me is that it is just the opposite. “Normal” means reverting back to yesterday, conforming to what is usual and average, and forgetting the things that have changed. Normal means living a life just like everyone else on the planet, caring about the things they do… living normal lives, experiencing normal problems, dying normal deaths. I’m scared of being normal.

I don't ever want to forget those faces that have woven their way into the depths of my heart…

…or how powerful it is to worship our God together, regardless of race, language, or culture

… or what it’s like to spend every day focusing on proclaiming Christ

… or the humbling realization that God is choosing to speak through someone so inadequate, worthless, and helpless as I am

... or what it’s like to see through His compassionate eyes… to see real people and not just the sea of faces

… or what it’s like to face battles larger than myself and to see His victories

… or how life changes with an eternal perspective

… or that Jesus is enough for me.

It’s that kind of change that keeps me running back to the Cross, continually realizing my own sinful nature and the high calling of being different for the sake of Christ. Continuing that kind of mission vision here on my home missionfield requires a continual surrender of will and a reliance on His grace… but it’s the same, because He is the same God both here and there. That is the sweetest thing in the world.

May I never forget. And may I never be normal again. :)

~ Beth

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you" - Matthew 6:33

Author: Beth
•Sunday, June 21, 2009
Author: Beth
•Friday, June 19, 2009
As a writer, one of the most frustrating things is when the words just don’t do justice to all the emotions and thoughts that you’re yearning to spill out. Since I’ve returned home , my heart has been overflowing… but the sentences still remain muddled in my head. I think it will take quite some time to process everything that I learned. I’m really not much of a poet, but here are a few thoughts that attempt to explain this quandary a little... in response to my last month spent in India.

What Words Just Can’t Say

An empty page still lies before me
Lord, I struggle with words tonight
My own seem so shallow, so frail
So inadequate to set it all right

Near are the memories and thoughts
Inexpressible, and yet they impart
Far more than the tongue can tell
As mirrors into the Father's heart

Words just can't say FAITH
When a little hand slips into yours,
A life full of future and of youth
Unhindered by worldly doubts and fears
With shining dark eyes believing truth

And words just can't say JOY
When small voices lift up their songs of praise
Our open arms find hugs and little hands
Eager and instant friendships form through a smile
And laughter comes from balloons and ... popsicle stands :P

And words just can't say STRENGTH
When the church is small, yet learning to stand
And as ominous clouds of opposition roll in
Faith and courage bring perseverance
As He continues to work in the hearts of men.

And words just can't say CHANGE
The blessed mystery when God moves inward
All defenses are broken, the gospel is made real
I learned to see His love and His truth
That goes far beyond what I can think or feel

And words just can't say LOVE
As Jesus permeates through all barriers
Strangers become family, bound by Him
Through worship, prayer, laughter and tears
All ... with a love that will never dim.

Sometimes, words just aren't enough.

Faith. Joy. Strength. Change. Love.

It’s meant to be LIVED.

"Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether." (Psalm 139:4)

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, June 17, 2009
As I continue to process many of my thoughts, feelings, and lessons from the past month in India, I thought you would enjoy a few glimpses of some of God's beautiful creation on the other side of the globe. Both of these short narrative videos were taken during our team's two-day trip to Tamil Nadu and Kerala... a mountaintop experience and a ocean view.
~ Beth

Author: Beth
•Saturday, June 06, 2009

The hazy mountains in the distance stretched as far as the eye could see, solemnly and majestically rising into the pink sunset clouds. Words could not even form as I looked out upon the landscape over India. The only thing that came near enough was the words that our team sang together as we watched the setting sun.

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty.” (Psalm 104:1)

The Psalmist’s cry is the closest thing to remedying such speechlessness. O Lord, my God, thou art very great! What a blessed thing it is to be able to say “my God” in reference to the most holy, powerful, omnipotent Eloheim. What a privilege it is to be called a child of this Creator!
God has been teaching me so many things about Himself and about His Kingdom around the world. It is hard to process it all, except to marvel at His greatness and His lovingkindness that He shows to His children.

Thank you all for your continued prayers as we continue here in India. The Lord has done so much in the last week, and we are praising Him for His watchful care and His continuing sanctifying work in many hearts and lives. Last Saturday, our team had our Gospel Presentation. Around 50 children, many whom had attended VBS the previous week, came along with around 30 parents and other adults. We were able to sing many appropriate psalms and hymns which highlighted the main points of the gospel. The rendition of the story of the Prodigal Son (starring Nick as the prodigal son and Zachary as the forgiving father) was one of the highlights of the program. We are claiming the promises of God that His word will never return void, but will accomplish His purposes in hearts and lives.

This week, our team has returned from a two day excursion to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where we were visiting missionary friends and enjoying some of God’s marvelous creation together. We enjoyed a mountain climb, splashing around in the Indian ocean, a rather adventurous car ride, and some sightings of wild elephants… among many other memories.

Currently, our team is together at the church, cherishing the last few days here in this blessed country. Please continue to pray as we look for ways to bless and encourage these believers around us before we return. Today (Saturday) we are preparing to teach at a youth meeting with some young believers in Pastor Babu’s church. We are excited about sharing what the Lord has taught us over the years about growing in Christ. Please pray that we would speak God’s words and that He would be glorified through these young, precious lives.

In His Name,

Top picture overlooking Indian valleys from the Western Ghats mountains. Photography by Zachary.
Author: Beth
•Monday, June 01, 2009
This past Lord's Day, our team visited a Kannada church that has been partnering with the ministry here. I thought you all would enjoy seeing a little of the body of believers that we are blessed to know here in India. (If you hear "Akka!" in the background, that means "big sister." That is coming from the children who were following behind me.) Enjoy!

The team will be leaving early tomorrow morning (Tuesday) for a road-trip to visit and encourage some missionaries in the next state. We will return sometime on Thursday. Thank you for your prayers, everyone!

~ Beth

Author: Beth
•Monday, June 01, 2009

“All your rejoicing in all things should therefore be a rejoicing in the Cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.” (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, p.57)

During four days last week, Dr. Rao taught a series of sessions here in India that unfolded the story of the Bible from cover to cover. He gave an overview of the Bible, highlighting the major themes and clearly explaining the gospel message in greater detail. Many of the people who came were Kannada speaking and listened very attentively as the message was translated.

On the last evening, our translator led the group in prayer in Kannada. Listening to these precious people pray to the One True God in their native language is one of the most beautiful things on earth. Although I couldn’t understand what he was saying, I could tell that it was heart-felt and very meaningful. I found out later that two women had given their lives over to Jesus Christ during that prayer. Praise the Lord!

I am continually humbled and amazed at the wonderful love of Jesus Christ. Being able to continually focus my mind again and again on the life-changing power of the gospel has been both refreshing and challenging. Going through the five colors of the Wordless Book with the children helped me to see that we must have the faith of a child in order to believe. Explaining the bridge illustration to two children afterwards reminded me of God’s whole plan of salvation as He bridged the gap between us and God. Writing out my salvation testimony to share with the community that gathered for our presentation reminded me of my own story and His powerful saving work. Hearing the salvation testimonies of my other team members as they each spoke a different evening spoke volumes of God’s sovereignty in calling people unto Himself. That’s the power of the cross.

One thing that God showed me this week is that the impact of the Gospel is truly HIS redeeming work in people’s lives. God can use people to speak His words, but there is ultimately not any effort on our part that can draw people to Him. “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4).

We have been seeing God move in the hearts of people around us, and we covet your prayers as this time of ministry here continues. The pastor has told us of many people who have shown interest – even Hindu people who have been attending church services. Hearts that were previously closed to the gospel (as in the case of one young woman who works here in the church) have been opened within the past few weeks. We are praising God for the visible work of His hand … and even more as He works in the unseen. Praise His Holy Name!

Author: Beth
•Friday, May 29, 2009
The laughter and singing of children that rang through the halls of the church building last week have been replaced with some new sounds this week. Here in India, we have been enjoying a somewhat relaxed, yet busy schedule as God has blessed new areas of ministry. Instead of practicing hand motions for children’s songs, we are harmonizing psalms and hymns together as a team. Instead of cutting out crafts, we are learning to weave Biblical themes together in a meaningful way. And instead of chasing children around, we are chasing each other around as we brush up on our amateur acting abilities. All of these together are preparations for a Gospel Musical Presentation that we will be giving to the Indian community this weekend.

The children from last week’s VBS program have all been invited, along with their parents, to a presentation called “The Greatest Rescue.” This will be a presentation filled with songs, Scripture verses, salvation testimonies, a sermon from Pastor George, and a short skit that illustrates the gospel through the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15.

Please be praying for us as we deliver this life-changing message. Our audience is primarily Kannada speaking, so be praying that God’s word would go forth in a powerful way even though the language barriers. It is our earnest prayer that lives would be touched and changed, just as we have seen God do so many times already. May God be glorified through our efforts and bring many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Thanks for your prayers, everyone. We serve an amazing God and He is working.

~ Beth
Author: Beth
•Sunday, May 24, 2009
The following video is a short review of our VBS week. Many thanks go to Zachary for the editing, Anjali for providing the Hindi worship music, and for the rest of the team who contributed as well. We hope you enjoy this preview of what God did during this past week.

~ Beth

Author: Beth
•Thursday, May 21, 2009

The sounds of running feet, laughter, enthusiastic singing, and quiet shhhs have been familiar ones lately. The lyrics from the Wordless Book song: "My heart was dark with sin until the Savior came in…” ring through the halls and the sounds of children reciting their verses echo the enthusiasm that they have shown all week. As VBS continues here in India, we are also continuing to see evidences of God speaking to individual hearts as well.

"Tell me more about Jesus, Akka.” Those few words have been the highlight of this week for me. We have been blessed to have many spiritual conversations with these young children, many of whom have some very profound questions. We are encouraged that so many have come to VBS already having Christian influences, and it is a blessing to help them understand more about Jesus.

The last few days, we have been focusing on the concepts of sin, the price that Jesus paid on Calvary, and the need for forgiveness, using the corresponding colors of black, red, and white to illustrate the message. We are so thankful that the Lord is continuing to work in the lives of these children, in spite of our own weaknesses, inadequacies, and language barriers. Although all of the fruit may not be immediately evident, we are confident that God is doing a great work here.

God has blessed this VBS with many more children than expected, so we are spending our afternoons preparing even more supplies and craft materials for this influx of children. Today (Thursday), we had a total of 79 children, with more expected for our final day tomorrow.

Thank you for your prayers this week. Please continue to pray for us as we prepare and teach our final day tomorrow… that the seeds that have been planted would grow and bring forth much fruit. Pray especially for the children that have expressed a serious interest in learning more about Jesus – specifically Ashivarya, Jonathan, Rohan, Hannah, and several others. Many of these children have already made a commitment to Jesus Christ, but have many questions and concerns about their faith – especially when it relates to the culture around them.

Last night, Pastor George read portions of Psalm 89 during our team prayer meeting. It reminded me where our focus should be as we continue into this last day.

"Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For Thou art the glory of their strength: and in Thy favor our horn shall be exalted. For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our King." (Psalm 89:15-18)

~ Beth


Top right: Maria Delphia enjoying a rousing game of "Duck, Duck, Goose" before VBS began

Middle: Pastor Babu translating for the Kannada class

Bottom right: Nirmala answers questions from a few young girls

(All pictures courtesy of Nick Rao)

Author: Beth
•Monday, May 18, 2009

“Akka! Akka!” (Big sister! Big sister!)
... ... Two beautiful brown eyes looked up at me, beckoning for assistance. She knew very little English, and I knew absolutely no Tamil, but the language barrier was broken with the assistance of a few crayons. Together we colored her paper basket that went along with the story for the day. It was the first day of VBS, and around 50 children from around the city gathered for songs, stories, verses, and crafts at the church.
... ... Today, we focused on the color “yellow” from the Wordless book. This color stands for God and the concepts of his holiness and power. We told the Bible stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes … and the story of Jesus filling the nets of the disciples with fish. The verse that they committed to memory was Matthew 16:16: “And Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God.”
... ... Many of the children who attended today have some Christian influences from other churches in the city. It was a blessing to see their enthusiasm and instant warmth. Even though they were familiar with the concepts of Jesus and God, it was a refreshing reminder to focus our minds together on the greatness of the one True God.
... ... One of the songs that we taught the children this morning was “My God is so Great” – a familiar childhood song.
... ...
My God is so great!
So strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do!

... Such simple words… such powerful meaning. Do we believe it?
... ... We are blessed with how well the VBS program went today. God granted us all safety, and good relationships were established. Please continue to pray for the rest of the program this week – that we would be able to accurately convey the power of the gospel and that the Holy Spirit would move in many hearts to draw closer to God.
... ... ~ Beth