Author: Beth
•Monday, March 30, 2009

… on a Monday.

Yes, yes, I know. My internal calendar is a little off. Actually, it feels like it should still be Saturday. Of February. Last year. =P I think I’m finally beginning to understand what people mean when they say “time flies as you get older.” Goodness.

Anyway, in between a hectic schedule of school, visiting with friends who are home on spring break, school, working in the office, school, being sick, school, church events, school, sleep, and school… here are a few things that have come my way.

Red Envelope Day. You may have heard of it. It’s a nationwide effort to remind those in authority that abortion is killing a life. Ever since my post a few months ago, I’ve been considering this topic more deeply and looking for ways to be involved. Here’s one way. I just put my red envelope in the mail today – and the rest of my family is doing the same. The catch is that they need to be in the mail by March 31st (tomorrow) – so do it soon!

I’m looking to buy a good camera. Any suggestions? My previous “point and shoot” camera had an unfortunate death last fall and I’m looking to upgrade within a budget. ;-) I want it to be good enough to shoot events – but small enough to travel well. If any of you photographers have ideas of what has worked well for you, drop me an e-mail.

There is a lot of wisdom in the blogs out there. I haven’t been “blogging” very long, but I’ve been an avid shadow lurker of many blogs out there for some time (Thank you, Google Reader, for helping me out!) For you girls reading, check out YLCF’s recent posts on Watch out for Wolves Part 1 and Part 2. – on the dangers of counterfeit relationships. Good stuff to know, even if you aren’t in that stage of life quite yet.

Ever had the feeling that Someone is watching you? This week, I’ve seen God answer prayers in some unique and creative ways. There is this envigorating confidence and trust that comes when God answers prayers even before we ask! Whether it is something that comes in the mail … encouragement from a friend … or God giving just enough light for one more step ... God has some incredible ways to show that He’s looking out for us. Have you seen Him today? Look around. He’s there.

I heard a good sermon yesterday. Actually, more than one. Worshipping with the family of God is wonderful. We had a guest pastor speak at our church, and he said something that has been resurfacing in my mind this morning. He said that God makes promises (oaths) not because His trustworthiness or character is in question, but because we have doubting minds. Think about it. Why do we make promises? It’s because we have to assure someone else (or ourselves) that we will do what we say. Pastor Selvaggio encouraged us to live in such a way that promises would not be necessary – our word would be valuable. When I think of all of God’s promises that I cling to, it is a reminder that God makes those for our benefit – not because He needs them, but because we have such little faith.

May Jesus become more real to you today.

~ Beth
Author: Beth
•Thursday, March 26, 2009
Since my last post on Sunrises, I thought I might continue the trend with another weather report. :)

It was hard to get up this morning. A late bedtime, warm covers, and the raindrops lingering on my windowpane were all compelling indicators that repulsed the idea of an early beginning to the day. Nevertheless, sensible reasoning eventually won out and I found myself driving down the interstate on the way to work.

As I rubbed sleep out of my eyes, I glanced at the sky.

Cloudy. Dreary. Dull.


I’m not really fond of cloudy days. There was no trace of the sunshine that usually blinds my eyes as I drive in the morning. Even the air seemed to carry a spirit of heaviness… along with a few last water droplets. While I’m sure there is a bit of romance that can be found somewhere in the overcast skies, today I found them to be rather dampening to my already mopey spirit.

There is something very simple … yet very profound that God has been trying to get into my head all week long... and it took this cloudy day to remind me of it. As I drove to work, I remembered a resolution that I had made earlier in the week. It was that I would begin to take note of the ways that I see God's hand at work in everyday life. This is a study of God that goes beyond the pages of my Bible.

Simple, yes... but it serves some very important purposes.

First, it puts my mind in the right place (where it should be all along!) I’ve noticed an alarming trend in my thinking as of late. There is this little person that keeps popping up in literally everything I do. Her name is “Me” – but it also affectionally goes by the nicknames of “I”, “Myself” and “Mine” and all other forms of first-person singular. It’s funny how mythoughts naturally revolve around that central axis if I’m not careful. By taking the time to look for God specifically in every day situations, it reminds me that there is Someone greater involved here that deserves my thoughts.

Second, it reminds me that God sees the big picture AND the details. I’m somewhat of a detail person. I may not remember our conversation from three months ago, but I probably remember what color you were wearing. Similarly, I may have trouble seeing the “big picture” because I’m so involved with those little things. When I look to see God in those things – it is a powerful reminder of God’s sovereignty. Besides, if He notices even when a sparrow falls to the ground, how much more does He care about His children?

Finally, this little exercise also helps me recognize God and learn to know His character through those “little things.” When I start to create my list, it's amazing, really...
- When I realize that it was God who wouldn’t leave me alone until I witnessed to that person, I see His “tough love” for me.
- When a luncheon for elderly guests is successful, in spite of scalded soup and forgetting to turn the oven on, I see God’s grace.
- When He decides to bless me with a good grade, even though “senoritus” and illness got the better of me last week, I see His mercy.
- When I hear the news about two friends who are now in a God-honoring relationship, I smile and see His faithfulness.
- And… when I’m walking to the mailbox and I see that He has sprinkled the ground with spring violets, I see His creativity.

He truly is everywhere. Isn’t it awesome that we serve a God like that?

This was the truth that I was reminded of as I drove to work on this cloudy morning. As I rounded a bend in the road, I looked at the horizon… and there it was. A patch of blue sky. It was as if God was smiling down and saying … Look, Beth, I’m behind this too.

Perhaps cloudy days might be redeemed after all.
Author: Beth
•Friday, March 20, 2009

Heav’n above is softer blue

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen;

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,

flowers with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.

~ hymn lyrics by George W. Robinson, 1876
Author: Beth
•Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I had almost forgotten how beautiful and inspiring a sunrise can be.

This morning, I’ve been watching God slowly awakensthe world by turning the black midnight sky into an illumination of light golden hues. After several hours of darkness, I hear the birds start their happy song – as if to sing a prelude to the sun as it makes its appearance. The world is slowly awakening from its slumber with a fresh start and hope for a new day. While the sunrise itself only lasts a few short moments, the effects last the entire day.

As I contemplate this gift of a new morning, I wanted to share with you a sunrise that has also been happening in my life today. Although the sunrise outside my window is beautiful, witnessing the SON rise to a new height of glory out of the dark midnight of my soul … that is breathtaking.

Honestly, it’s hard to write about the ‘spiritual sunrises’ because one must first admit that there is darkness. It’s hard to acknowledge the darkness, because it destroys the illusion of happy, perfect people who have it all together. After all, aren’t we supposed to make God look good so that others will want what we have? :-P Therefore, we put forth our smiling faces and keep the darkness hidden away inside. Unfortunately, the darkness always has a way of revealing itself, since there is no true light inside to cast it away.

I found myself on my knees this morning dealing with that darkness. It’s been a hard morning – a struggle against my own flesh and what I know God wants. The words from Psalm 51 seemed to jump off the page: “Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being…” (v.6) I was tired of the charade of living the Christian life as an outward act, and yet not being alive inside. It reminded me of when I used to act in drama plays as a child – the whole point being whether I knew the right lines to say at the right time and how to move and act with an audience watching me. It didn’t matter whether I was actually the character – just as long as I pretended well enough. This morning, I knew that there was this chasm of sin that was separating me from communion with God and I couldn’t pretend anymore.

God does not desire the things that I deem as “sacrifices” on his behalf – all of my “piety” of discipline, good works, and religious words mean absolutely nothing without one thing: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

As slowly and as sure as the sunrise, I’m beginning to have a better understanding of what grace really means. How can God continually forgive and love someone who is constantly disappointing and doubting Him? I am so grateful that abiding in Him does not rely completely on my diligence and faithfulness. In the midst of the darkness, God brought a ray of sunlight that shone directly into my heart. It is only by faith that I can live as a true Christian… both inwardly and outwardly. Not faith in myself, surely, for that kind of faith will definitely disappoint. But it is the faith in Jesus Christ Himself – that he is able to keep me from falling, that His grace is enough to forgive, and that His strength is sufficient for my weaknesses.

“It is the faith that continually closes its eyes to the weakness of the creature, and finds its joy in the sufficiency of an Almighty Savior, that makes the soul strong and glad” (Andrew Murray)

That sunrise, my friends, gives me the strength to face another day.

”Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning…” – Hosea 6:3

Author: Beth
•Saturday, March 14, 2009

It has been a busy first week of classes. Most of my available brain cells have been subjected to keeping up with a deluge of school assignments, and thus I haven’t had much time for other writing. I have several ideas that are mulling around in my head, but they will have to stay confined to my cerebrum until I have a chance to make them somewhat readable. :-) In the mean time, I thought I would adopt a practice of writing down a few topics, observations, musings, or links that I’ve been thinking about this week. I call it my “Saturday Morning Blend” – which gives a homey warm-beverage-in-the-early-morning feel, even though I despise coffee. *grin* But hey… feel free to peruse, comment, enjoy, or ignore at your leisure. Have a happy weekend!

- This economy is “a golden moment.” I’m not an economist, but a few red flags lately have caused me to sit up and take notice. One of my classes this session is on organizational communication, and our first order of business was to write about a recent negative job experience. As I read through my classmates’ submissions, it was sad to see how many people had lost their jobs or had co-workers being let go due to the economy. I was talking with a man earlier in the week that is also in a similar situation… no job, and yet there is a family back home to provide for. We are living in somewhat uncertain times… and yes, it hits close to home. John Piper has some valuable words of wisdom to say about the economic downturn [ HERE. ]

- On a happier note, spring is coming! As I took a walk to the mailbox at work this week, I saw my first spring crocus – a bright, happy, sunshine-y yellow little flower coming up from the brown and drab earth. Now, the crocuses are out in full force around our home and it’s been fun to take walks and notice all the signs of spring – robins, buds on the trees, and… the best part… being able to shed the coats and run around in the sunshine! Since it was so nice earlier in the week, I grabbed my camera and had a little fun. Stay tuned for pictures. :-)

- I have seven weeks left of college. For some reason, that fact hit me in full force this week. After doing college work for the past four years, these last 50+ days will go by in a whirl. It has caused me to trust God more specifically about the future and also enjoy these last precious moments in this season of life. One of my favorite quotes seems to fit appropriately: “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looking forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

- I miss my [Wildcat.] My littlest brother Nathan (which, by the way, towers several inches taller than me, and so isn’t exactly ‘little’) has been quite noticeably missing from our household this week as he participates in basketball tournaments in Tennessee (this week) and Missouri (next week.) This is a shout-out to him and his teammates as they travel, have fun, and play games for the glory of God. Way to go, guys!

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, March 11, 2009
20 years ago today, I officially gained the title of “big sister” when my dear brother Brad was born. Yes, its birthday season in our house and Brad is turning two decades! Happy Birthday, my dear bro. Although you may be a little younger than me, I still look up to you in so many ways (yes, literally!) You have taught me so much about life and what is truly important. Thank you so much for putting up with me and keeping me laughing and always on my toes! God is molding you into an amazing man of God, and I am eternally grateful that He blessed my life with you. Love you, Brad!
Author: Beth
•Monday, March 09, 2009
When I started driving alone, I could only think of one major problem that would hinder my success behind the wheel. I am directionally-challenged. Just ask my dad, who has had to answer several frantic phone calls when I’ve missed my exit on the highway and was being swept along in the traffic current to the next state. Navigation really isn’t my gift.

After a few unfortunate mishaps, I’ve learned to carefully map out every turn before venturing to a new unknown on the streets. MapQuest is my best driving companion, and hastily-written street instructions are constantly being swept out of the car at the end of each expedition. I need to see where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.

If only the rest of life came with such detailed maps! When it comes to dealing with questions about the future, I don’t like twisting turns or confusing road signs. Yet, there is this long life journey that stretches out before me, with several looming questions in its shadows. How do I know if this is the right way to go? Where is this going to lead? What if my future doesn’t turn out the way it should?

One thing that I discovered is that I’m not alone. This pre-life crisis comes to everyone at some point (does it sound familiar to you too?) Then, I discovered this young woman named Ruth. In the middle of my own questions, it was Ruth who taught me something about the providence of God and faith, even when I don’t always know where I’m going.

Meet Ruth: A Daughter of Faith.

The extraordinary story of Ruth begins with tragedy. Her husband was dead, as were her brother-in-law and father-in-law. For a young married woman, it must have seemed like her whole world was crumbling. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, mourning the loss of her husband and sons, was preparing to return to her homeland of Israel. Ruth was facing a decision, and a dark and ominous future filled with many unknowns.

Put yourself in young Ruth’s shoes for a moment.

If a man died in those days, it was customary for his brother or some near relative to take his widow as a wife and raise up children to carry on the family line. Naomi had no more children, and so she entreated her daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland of Moab, marry into a different family, and continue lives over their own. If they chose to stay with Naomi, it would mean leaving their family and nation, and living as a stranger in a foreign land. To make matters worse, Ruth was most likely barren (being married for ten years without any children was very rare in that culture), which made things impossible to carry on the family name, even if she was to get married again.

Following Naomi would mean a life of widowhood, childlessness, and poverty for the rest of her life… as far as she could see. It would have been the bleakest future possible for the young widow.

With that in mind, Ruth’s answer to this life-changing decision is amazing.

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth was choosing to walk into a future that she didn’t know, hanging only onto her belief. She had found the true God and was now choosing to risk her entire future for Him in faith, with no guarantee that it would be any different than what Naomi had said.

Where am I going?

Looking back, we know the rest of the story. God did not leave Ruth to a meaningless or insignificant life. Instead, He had been plotting for her greatest good all along! He stopped the famine in Israel, and provided food for Ruth and Naomi. He preserved a man named Boaz who would be Ruth’s husband and “kinsman redeemer.” God joined the two together, and out of their family tree would eventually come King David.

God knew what He was doing. And He still does.

Reading this story of Ruth was like a breath of fresh air in the middle of a confusing fog. Often, we must rely on faith in God while the destination is still unknown. We have to make a conscious decision to place our loyalties in God, and desire to follow Him regardless of what the future seems to be. It’s stepping out in faith, trusting that God is who He says He is.

“Faith that is sure of itself is not faith.
Faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.”
– Oswald Chambers