Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 21)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." ~ John 15:16 (NKJV)

Ann Voskamp - One Thousand Gifts

"These are for you gifts — these are for you — grace — these are for you — God, so count the ways HE loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can't help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace. Eurcharisteo. Eucharisteo. Eucharisteo."

Joy-filled quote

"A life of intimacy with God is characterized by joy." ~ Oswald Chambers

Featured Three Word Wednesday Writer

I'm doing the happy dance over sharing my friend Satin of My Heart, His Word with you. She is a sweetheart and soon (very soon) I will meet her in REAL LIFE. I just love when writing friends become in real life friends. I've only known Satin for a few months but our friendship has blossomed quickly. I adore her and can't wait to give her a hug.

Me: What do you enjoy most about Three Word Wednesday?

Satin: I love the community that comes with Three Word Wednesday. Having a place to come on Wednesday's and share my heart with a community of people doing the same thing, is pretty amazing. Encouraging each other, sharing what God is doing in our lives — it's a gift and something I look forward to weekly!

Me: Who or what inspires you?

Satin: At the moment, I think the one thing that inspires me the most is watching God move in mighty ways, through my obedience. Watching Him take the impossible and make it possible, turn ashes to beauty and bring life to seemingly dead circumstances is inspiring. I'm inspired to live each day to the fullest, trusting God as He leads me along this journey. I am daily reminded of my need for Him and His keen ability to meet me right where I am!

A few of my favorite blog reads

"Here’s to the girl who never thought she had a voice…" ~ Here's to You, by Lauren of Marked By Grace // Another one of those posts you just need to read. It's beautiful!

"I have a choice. I can cooperate with the grace of joy that fills me, or ignore it. How I choose will not only make my life a dance, but it can also bubble over to everyone I meet." ~ The Grace of Joy, by Ceil Ryan // My heart is won over when one talks about my one word JOY.

"We need to decide whose opinion of us ultimately counts, because a multitude of sources will tell us what we should do or how much we should weigh to be beautiful or accepted. But Jesus’ opinion saves, forgives, and sets us free." ~ Whose opinion counts? by Tracy of One Degree Ministries // Jesus' opinion is the only one that counts!

"Don’t change just to be someone else. Be your beautiful, unique you." ~ Cut from the same cloth – embrace your uniqueness, by Amelia Rhodes // Let's embrace our uniqueness, shall we?

"And I’m not a people person. At all. I struggle with small talk. It actually makes me sweat. I can carry on a four-hour conversation about something that touches me deeply, but put me in a room where I need to converse casually and there is suddenly not a thought in my head. Not one." ~ The Currency of Zero, by Cindee of Breathe Deeply // Cindee appears again this week as one of my favorite reads.

"Whether you are dreaming of world change or a silly bicycle, there are four types of dreams — Those that are fulfilled, those that are delayed, those that are denied, and those that are suppressed." ~ Where Did That Dreamer Go–Because We Need You, by David Rupert via Outside the City Gate // May your dreams become fulfilled dreams!

My favorite, favorite blog read

"Over and over again, my fellow speakers shared stories of our God who sees and knows us better than anyone else has or ever will. Stories of God showing up and showing off His great love for us in ways only He can. The way He uses clouds and running and notebooks to say, 'I see you. I love you.'" ~ A Gift from the One Who Sees Me, by Erin of Home with the Boys // A truly beautiful God story.

Ways to show love to your family

Jennifer of Scribbling Fresh Words gives you 39 ways! Read them here. She just turned 39 too!

Online friends become #INRL friends

She posted a message on Facebook wall on Tuesday saying, "This week? Appetizers? I will make it work. YOU pick the day and time!" And on Thursday we met for dinner. What a delight it was to finally meet my online friend Angie Ryg and to now be in real life friends. .

An inspirational video and a super cute one for fun

What do you long for? Watch this video by that pastor and author I admire, Pete Wilson. I highly recommend reading his book Let Hope In.

I cannot help myself—this kid is adorable. If you are in need of a pep-talk be sure to watch. Actually, you should watch no matter.

Song of the week

A beautiful joy-filled song shared with me by my #milspouse friend Anna.

Center of My Joy, by Richard Smallwood

"Jesus, You're the center of my joy
All that's good and perfect comes from You
You're the heart of my contentment
Hope for all I do Jesus,
You're the center of my joy "

Finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000gifts

#212 ~ My youngest son making his first turkey
#213 ~ Homemade biscuits
#214 ~ Footloose video celebrating 30 years...good memories
#215 ~ Friends who get you.
#216 ~ Rejoicing because my name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20)
#217 ~ A two hour drive that allows time for listening to the book Love Does
#218 ~ St. Patrick's Day belated celebration with Army wife friends
#219 ~ Sharing highs and lows from our week
#220 ~ Coffee with a young Navy recruit to give her encouragement
#221 ~ An online friend who creates pretty images for you
#222 ~ Not letting the cold keep me from welcoming spring
#223 ~ God's never ending love
#224 ~ An encouraging email from my mom
#225 ~ Discounted study Bible's
#226 ~ Being told by a friend that I'm one of her 1,000 gifts
#227 ~ For failures because they have taught me how much I need him.
#228 ~ A tub that finally drains properly
#229 ~ My Three Word Wednesday writing family
#230 ~ More's okay, spring will come
#231 ~ A fresh haircut and color
#232 ~ Meeting an online friend
#233 ~ News from my son that he was hired as a full-time chef. Yippee!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Bread of Life

It was a long and cold winter. While it may officially be spring, it doesn't feel like spring. The absence of the sun and lack of warmer temperatures has made me weary. As said by my friend Rebekah, “Spring meet winter… winter I’d love to introduce you to spring. Your pure white coat is beautiful, but I need some colour in my life now. Please, kindly step aside.”

I agree. Step aside winter. Say hello spring.

There are other reasons for my weariness though, besides the lack of sun and warmth.

My husband is currently away serving our country in harm’s way. It’s hard—very hard. I miss him constantly.

God also laid it on my heart to give up my eating disorder for lent. Refraining from my eating disorder behaviors comes with anxiety. There are times the anxiety has me wanting to crawl out of my own skin. It’s a sensation hard to explain.

I have previously tried to let go of my eating disorder—multiple times in fact. There were one or two times I went longer than the five weeks it has now been. The day eventually came when temptation won and I failed. Satan convinced me I’m anything but beautiful and I succumbed to the ever so momentary comfort found in the behaviors of my eating disorder. It has been a cycle of seeking comfort in anything other than Christ.

What makes me think this time will be any different from the previous attempts? I don’t even have the strength of my husband to rely on. If anything, my husband being away makes the behaviors easier.

I believe God has been preparing for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). Just like Jesus taught His disciples to think differently about life, He needed to teach me to think differently. And failure was part of the learning process.

My previous attempts and failures taught me how much I need Him. If I did not fail there would be no reason to go running to Him for help. Failing brought me to my hands and knees in complete surrender saying, "I need you." Failing taught me lasting comfort can only be found in Him.

Lysa Terkeurst writes in her book Made to Crave, "God created us—with a longing to be filled. It’s a longing God instilled to draw us into deep intimacy with Him." She says "…food was never meant to fulfill the deepest places of our hearts reserved for God alone. Not on the good days. Not on the bad days. And not even on the stinkin’, rotten, horrible no good days."

In John 6:35, Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

Obviously, I need the nourishment of food to sustain my physical life. The eating disorder behaviors need to stop. Jesus was not talking about physical bread though. He was telling His disciples to stop worrying about their physical needs—He would give them everything they need.

I read the verses that follow John 6:35 in the Message translation:

"Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me." ~ John 6:36-37

The word “eventually” caught my attention. As I shared earlier, Jesus needed to teach me to think differently before I was ready and willing to let go of my eating disorder and come running to Him for help. And He has been teaching me. He teaches me through time in scripture, prayer and worship. This time of learning has taught me to trust in Him and fostered a more intimate relationship.

I've learned how He does hold on and never let’s go. Because He is with me, I can accomplish the will of the One who sent Him. God’s will for me is to find freedom from that which keeps me from fully unwrapping His love for me.

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" ~ Romans 8:32

God has prepared me for such a time as this.
I have everything I need.
I have Christ—the bread of life.
It’s going to be okay.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 20)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"I am the way and the truth and the life." ~ John 13:6a

Joy-filled quote

"Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God." ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Ann Voskamp - One  Thousand Gifts

"I turn my hand over, spread my fingers open. I receive grace. And through me, grace could flow on. Like a cycle of water in continuous movement, grace is meant to fall, a rain...again, again, again. I could share the grace, multiply the joy, extend the table of the of the feast, enlarge the paradise of His presence. I am blessed. I can bless. A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes life acting the love of Christ."

Featured Three Word Wednesday writer

This will surely be a monthly thing because I'm not doing very well with featuring someone every week. I'm hoping to share another fabulous writer with you next week.

A few of my favorite blog reads

"Your broken and small are big and mighty in the hand of Christ. You are salt that brings forth the richness of Christ into a hurting world.." ~ Why A Small Life Doesn't Mean Useless, by Diane Bailey // Oh, how I loved this post!

"Choosing love is always a success in God’s eyes–no matter the outcome or response." ~ A No-Fail Plan for Your New Week, by Holley Gerth // Holley speaks such beautiful truth. We never fail when we choose love.

"Then this one lie becomes like a weed in my heart. And it doesn’t need water to grow. In fact, it likes drought." ~ Hope In The Weeds, by Meredith Bernard // But there is hope in the weeds! I'm so glad God led me to Meredith. You may remember I shared one of her posts last week too. She has quickly one my heart.

"What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you? What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, assumes your schedule?" ~ A Heart Like Jesus, by Max Lucado // The 40 Days to Easter Devotional series over at FaithGateway is so worth catching up on. I've loved every single post.

My favorite, favorite blog reads

"Like a vapor disappearing and reappearing, floating aimlessly between here and then and when they see me, they see but for a second and then I’m gone and they’re gone and nothing has changed." ~ For When You’re Different From Others, by Duane Scott // Beautiful, beautiful post!

"Yes. Savor the hard stuff. Enter the deep. For that is where treasure lies. Where dross is drained away and love roots deep, where self withers and trust grows, and we learn to abide." ~ Savor the Hard Stuff by Cindee Snider Re // Don't miss this one. A beautiful and moving post by a friend I truly adore. There will be tears.

"Take that glint sharp edge of His Word and hack that snake creeping up the back of your neck." ~ The One Thing You Absolutely Must Do Today, by Ann Voskamp // Amen to every word she wrote!

One of my posts...Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I guest posted over at my friend Rebekah's of A Soft Gentle Voice this week. If you missed the post would you come on over to her place and read here? I've shared Rebekah with you in previous posts and if you have not taken some time to get to know her yet you are missing out on a real gem.

When your husband hijack's your blog

Not my husband. LOL. But my friend Elizabeth's husband hijacked her blog and honestly his post is all kinds of loveliness. It's short and oh so sweet. Come read here.

A Mosaic of Sojourners

I'm speechless and do not know how to even begin to share with you how humbled I am to be included in an e-Book from the writing team of Outside the City Gate called Pieces of Faith: A Mosaic of Sojourners. Never could I have imagined my name and words appearing in the same book with these writers: Diane Bailey, Amy Breitmann, Tammy Hendricksmeyer, David Rupert, Duane Scott, Nacole Simmons and Kelli Woodford. I'm awe-struck.

The book is "a labor of love, a collaboration voices, is not us standing in our Sunday-best, but writers and artists gathering the truthful pieces of ourselves, our stories, and giving them away."

You can read more about the book here, here and here and subscribe here.

A spoken word poem

I promise you...if you have not seen this video you will want to be sure to watch and listen closely. From IF:Gathering ~ "Esther Generation" by Amena Brown Owen and Ann Voskamp

How do you spend time with God?

Guest writers from the Circles of Faith community (me being one of them) are sharing how they spend time with God. Come join the discussion here. I'd love to hear how you spend time with God.

Favorite new song

"Lord, today You know what I need to do,
But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.
So I won’t run anymore.
I’m waiting on You."
~ Those Who Wait, by Bethany Dillon

I'm finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000Gifts

#182 ~ Traffic...for it allows more time for my audio book
#183 ~ A road trip
#184 ~ The boondocks (the word makes me smile)
#185 ~ 80's dance music
#186 ~ Spotify
#187 ~ An oh so quiet hotel in the boondocks
#188 ~ Reflections on a pond
#189 ~ A game of pool...time with family
#190 ~ A full moon
#191 ~ A night full of classical guitar music
#192 ~ Seeing my son on stage
#193 ~ Bagels and cream cheese
#194 ~ Weak's still coffee
#195 ~ A much needed nap
#196 ~ Skyping with my husband and son within the same morning
#197 ~ Breakfast with a friend
#198 ~ Snail mail from writing friends
#199 ~ Poets
#200 ~ A Mosaic of Sojourners
#201 ~ Missed alarms
#202 ~ Sleeping in
#203 ~ Loved ones becoming U.S. Citizens
#204 ~ Security systems that keep you safe
#205 ~ A walk (you may see this one again)
#206 ~ Time on the phone with a sweet writing friend
#207 ~ Headphones
#208 ~ Scripture cards from a friend
#209 ~ Rain...more signs of spring
#210 ~ McDonald's biscuits...indulging myself
#211 ~ A message from my husband that says, "I just wanted to see your typed words before I head to bed." ~~so in love~~

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made {Guest Post}

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” 

Psalm 139:14 became my life verse the day I met with my dear friend Michele.

I had approached her after church one Sunday. We didn't know each other very well at the time so approaching her to ask if she would meet me for a cup of coffee was a step outside of my comfort zone. My pastor had urged me to find a spiritual mentor and God nudged me toward Michele.

Would you meet me for coffee, Michele?

Without hesitation she replied, "Absolutely!"

We met at Panera. It didn't take long for her to ask why I had wanted to meet with her.

Oh yes, there is a reason.

I'm guest posting for "Titus 2 Tips Thursdays" at my friend Rebekah's of A Soft Gentle Voice today. To read more join me there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: I Take Joy

I have been in a strange place recently when it comes to writing and I’m trying to figure out why. I’m on the hunt for the joy I once found in writing. I cannot say writing has completely lost its joy. I would be lying though if I did not say I’m weary from this writing thing I do.

I came across a quote last week that said, “You fail only if you stop writing.” ~ Ray Bradbury

When I first read the quote I thought, “Yes. This.” After another look I stopped at the word fail. Do I really fail if I stop writing? I pondered on it for a bit longer and the word fail simply didn't sit well with me.

I came across another quote by Martin Luther and he says, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pens.”

Maybe there is truth to the first quote I shared. I’m still struggling with the word fail.

But what I’m wrestling with is how writing has slowly become, for me, less about writing and more about the other "stuff" that comes with writing. If I’m called to write, could I simply write?

I've fallen into the trap of comparing myself to what other writers are doing and I am growing weary over believing what I am doing is not enough.

Be on all four social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Goggle+ and Pinterest). Like more pages. Follow more people on Twitter. Tweet more. Retweet more. Share more content on Google+. Add more people to your circles. Follow more boards on Pinterest. Add more boards and pins. And if I’m on Pinterest I need to have a pinnable image with every post.

When exactly do I write?

I do all these things to become bigger; gain more followers – right? To find joy in writing I need to try harder and do more? Do I find more joy the bigger I become?

Ann Voskamp writes in Chapter 9 of her book One Thousand Gifts, “The humble are laid-low and bowed ones, the surprised ones with hands open to receive whatever He gives.”

What if I’m okay with being small and want to simply be surprised, and give thanks, for whatever gifts He gives? Like maybe more followers.

Have I given thanks for the gifts He has already given me? Like the gift to write.

“And in that place of humble thanks, God exalts and gives more gifts and more of Himself, which humbles and lays the soul down lower. And God responds with greater gifts of grace and even more of Himself. And I ride the undulating wave of grace, this lifting higher and higher in grace, the surging crest of joy, and this plunging lower and lower in humble thankfulness only to rise yet higher in grace and this eucharisteo, it offers the ultimate joyride and I don’t think I ever want to get off.” ~ Ann Voskamp

The way to joy . . . Count His graces. Give thanks. Find joy.
Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy. Eucharisteo

Could God’s calling for me to write begin with writing down His graces? And if I stop writing them down? Maybe I do fail when I stop writing because I am no longer seeing God in my everyday moments. So I pick up my pen and I write...

Thank you, Lord, for the gift to write
Thank you, Lord, for pens
Thank you, Lord, for computers
Thank you, Lord, for my daughter-in-law who helped me to launch Simply Beth
Thank you, Lord, for Traci who gave Simply Beth a blog makeover
Thank you, Lord, for social media outlets to share words and connect with others
Thank you, Lord, for pretty images
Thank you, Lord, for each and every person you bring to my blog
Thank you, Lord, for their sweet comments
Thank you, Lord, for the friendships made through writing

And as Ann writes, “when we give thanks God responds with greater gifts of grace and even more of Himself.” And in “His presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

So I'm saying again, enough with the not-enough’s.

I give thanks. I take joy.

As for the weariness I feel with the other "stuff" that comes with writing, I'm going to give myself grace. I love the various social media outlets because it allows me to connect with YOU and to share YOUR words. The rest will continue to be a splattering of the words He has put on my heart to share . . . to simply share and not because I think I need to do more to be enough.

And I will pray if there is someone who needs encouragement and could quite possibly find comfort through the words I write, that God will lead them here with or without posts, tweets and pins.

I give thanks for this gift He has given me to write.
I take joy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 19)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." ~ Luke 17: 6

JOY-filled scripture

"You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment." ~ Psalm 16:11 (Voice)

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

"Isn't this the crux of the gospel? The good news that all those living in the land of shadow of death have been birthed into new life, that the transfiguration of a suffering world has already begun. That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart -- and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty. Can I believe the gospel, that God is patiently transfiguring all the notes of my life into the song of His Son?"

A quote I stumped upon

""If asked whether I am finally letting God love me, just as I am, I would answer, 'No, but I'm trying." ~ Brennan Manning, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir

This was enough to convince me to read Brennan Manning's book next.

I'm really, really trying to let God love me, just as I am.

A few of my favorite blog reads

"We are made to be together. Not just in the moments when our homes and our hearts are exactly how we’d like them to be. We’re meant to be together as we are. That’s how we live grace." ~ Holley Gerth, Hospitality Starts with Your Heart

"Without a compassionate heart there is no hope for love. Without love there is no hope.
Love is the tie that binds." ~ Meredith Bernard, Woman to Woman: Put It On

A post on FaithGateway, a site I recently found my way to, that you simply need to read. ~ Max Lucado, Leaving Nazareth

"The day the snow started falling, he packed his bags." ~ Duane Scott, For When You Doubt Your Life's Purpose. // I could highlight the entire post but I will let you read on from there.

My favorite, favorite blog reads

"We need more women who are proud of who they are, not trying to hide something. We need more women who will hold up some kind of sign, as if to say: I am preapproved. I am good, as is. I am done with "not enough." I am done with "too much."" ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee, When You’re Tired of a Photoshopped, Airbrushed, Instagram-Filtered Existence // I'm just in awe of this lady. God is using her to change lives.

"I must be beautiful in thought before I am beautiful anywhere else." ~ Lisa-Jo Baker, How to weed out the lie that you are not beautiful // Oh how I pray we can all weed out the lies that we are not beautiful.

An encourager with a new website full of encouragement

My friend Jennifer Peterson has a new website: Scribbling Fresh Words
Get her free e-book, 31 Ways to Brighten Someone's Day, when you subscribe to her blog.
You can also follow her here and here.

Favorite new song

"Breathe in
Breathe out
You will
You will find Him here"

Here, by Kari Jobe

A lovely image by a new friend

A GIFT IN WIND, IN WATER, IN WHITE: Bruce Barone, A Journal of Gratitude
I loved the colors!

Just think...

Check DaySpring Facebook post here. A nice uplifting message.

I'm finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000gifts

#149 ~ Last minute plans made to meet with a friend for coffee
#150 ~ Seeing my husband's feet while we has been far too long
#151 ~ Audio books
#152 ~ A warm blanket to cuddle up in
#153 ~ Shelves to keep me organized
#154 ~ An evening at the play which brings much laughter
#155 ~ My son's laugh...he holds nothing back
#156 ~ Melting snow
#157 ~ Time with the birthday youngest son turned 22
#158 ~ A call from my oldest son who says amidst tears, “I need you, mom” 
#159 ~ Sorrow…I pray God will use his tears to draw him closer 
#160 ~ Another charm for my Pandora bracelet from my husband
#161 ~ Listening to my youngest son and his father catch up over the phone
#162 ~ Photos...memories that line up on my desk
#163 ~ Signs of spring
#164 ~ Smiles
#165 ~ A walk…rays of sunlight, birds singing and the promise of spring 
#166 ~ Beautiful sounds made by my youngest son as he strums away on his guitar 
#167 ~ Green grass
#168 ~ Puddles
#169 ~ MAIL DAY!
#170 ~ My son's strawberry blond hair
#171 ~ The way my son moves to the rhythm while he plays the guitar
#172 ~ Blessing church friends who are in need
#173 ~ Fresh covering of snow
#174 ~ Trees that sparkle
#175 ~ The American Flag waving as the wind blows
#176 ~ Early morning face-time with my husband
#177 ~ Shoveling away the white snow with my son
#178 ~ New beginnings
#179 ~ My husband's words showing up on my computer, "Good morning, my love"
#180 ~ Dreaming
#181 ~ A big yellow bow that hangs until he comes home

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy.

For Lent I'm giving up my eating disorder. Obviously, it's not something I plan to pick back up once Lent is over. To find complete freedom from my disorder I'm in need of a transformation of my heart. I need to put an end to the not-worthy's and not-enough's that have infected my heart for so long. As my Executive Pastor preached this past Sunday, "The heart of the problem is a problem with the heart."

Thankfully, Jesus specializes in transformations of the heart.

I've realized this Lenten journey of mine cannot only be about what I'm giving up. I need to let Christ in so He can do the transformation in my heart that He came to do. For this to happen Christ must become greater and I must become less. Let's face it, when I'm caught up in the not-worthy's and not-enough's, I've made it all about me and not about Him.

My plan from the get-go for 2014—more of Christ, less of me.

I have two primary goals for the year: 1) read through the Bible for the first time and 2) count my blessings—His gifts—1,000 gifts.

More often than I’d like to admit I push these goals to the side.

I push Him and time in His word to the side to finish a post, catch up on social media or read other blog posts. Let me do this one thing first and then I will come follow you.

Pick up my gratitude journal and pen to write down the blessings found…did I find any today?

There is not enough time to do all the things I need want to do.

I'm beginning to notice familiar infections taking root in my heart.
I feel worthless.
There is no joy.

There I go again with the not-worthy’s and not-enough’s. If I let these infections take root I know where I’m headed. I remember those days all too well—the days of wanting nothing more than to stay in bed.

Even though I'm so darn tired, I cannot ignore the pull to sit with Him

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

So I start over again with my goals. I return to His word even when all I can muster up is lying on my bed while listening to a narrator read God's word to me.

"God saved you by his grace when you believed." ~ Ephesians 2:8a

By His grace I have been saved.

Grace. How do I respond to His amazing grace?

“Eucharist [thanksgiving] is the state of the perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven.” ~ Alexander Schemann

I respond to His grace with thanksgiving.

"Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo.
 A Greek word…that might make meaning of everything"
 ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Maybe Ann Voskamp is on to something with the counting of His gifts…His graces…and giving thanks.

#158 ~ An early morning call from my oldest son who says amidst tears, “I need you, mom”
#159 ~ Sorrow…I pray God will use his tears to draw him closer

#165 ~ A walk…rays of sunlight, birds singing and the promise of spring
#166 ~ Beautiful sounds made by my youngest son as he strums away on his guitar

As I count His gifts…give thanks…joy returns to my heart.
A transformation of my heart begins.

Christ becomes greater.

So, yes, I will start over again. No longer will I push God to the side. (Maybe that means there is more I need to give up...those things I put before Him.) I will give thanks, in all things. And in God’s presence I know fullness of joy will be found (Psalm 16:11).

Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy.

"All is grace.
 God is always good and I am always loved.
 Everything is eucharisteo." ~ Ann Voskamp

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 18)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul." ~ Psalm 139:14 (Voice)

A Lenten Journey

My Lenten Journey: read here if you missed my post.

Scripture: "If He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things." ~ Romans 8:32

Reading: "Our life's purpose is to give God glory. We do that by reflecting His image to the world through our worship and our service to His kingdom. By His death He justified us, and through the refining fires He sanctifies us for the work of His purposes. But this refining is a process. You can't hurry the holy." ~ Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, by Kris Camealy

Quote: "Pluck idols. Plant Christ." ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee
Just read here and here.. She has started something beautiful and God is using her in mighty ways. It's a beautiful thing to watch unfold.

JOY-filled quote

"Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands." ~ Elisabeth Elliot

A few of my favorite blog reads 

"But, deep inside, in my secret heart of hearts, I've always wanted something I could never quite keep a hold of — not long enough to make it my everyday home.  For my soul and for the me that wanted to be free.
I've always wanted to know who I really could be — if I was free to rest." ~ Dare To Rest. Dare To Be Real, by Bonnie Gray

"No matter how far we run, hide our face, stop our ears, squeeze our eyes shut, and plead the cursed words away--we come back in order to live. Once again a story is setting sail and so we are willing to take it by force, rather we drown or thrash, we do not care." ~ When Storytelling Is Saving Your Life, by Tammy Hendricksmeyer

"I have used my own voice to beat myself up and to doubt what God says about me.  I've spent way too much time listening to the voices in my head....
It’s time to take back the voices: The ones that lie." ~ When You Give A Girl a Red Marker, by Amy Breitmann

My favorite, favorite blog read

"My biggest frustration with the world of writing and platform building and influence is that what it requires seems so far removed from a life that bears the fruit worth reading about—a life of depth and stillness and meaning." ~ In the End, Three Things Remain, by Holly A. Grantham

The what-if questions Holly asks in her post are very much on my heart.

A beautiful community

There are beautiful things on the horizon for Outside the City Gate. Come be a part of this growing community here and here. I'm so blessed to be a part of their Facebook team. What I enjoy most is working with the talented writers/photographers who contribute their images for the weekly Sunday Scripture post, like Lisa, Amanda, Cindee and Nina. Connecting with them and reaching out to potential new contributors brings me great JOY.

Because I adore her

I drink from the Sweet B mug she gave me every morning and there will be a road trip this summer to visit with her again because it's just a must. If you have not met my friend Lauren of It's A Wilderness Out There...And In Here Too hop over to her place now. The comment I leave after reading her post is usually the same: "You've done it again. I loved, loved, loved this post."

An encouraging friend

My friend Satin of My Heart, His Words has touched my heart multiple times this past week with her encouraging emails. To say thank you to her I thought I'd share her with you.

Favorite new song

Place My Hope, by Ellie Holcomb

I'm finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000gifts

#138 ~ My husband sending home the book Safe in the Shepherds Arms by Max Lucado. It arrived with perfect timing...God's timing.

#139 ~ Quiet time at Panera.

#140 ~ He collects all my tears. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." ~ Psalm 56:8

#141 ~ Friends who check-up on me.

#142 ~ My followers who leave loving comments on my posts. I appreciate all of you.

#143 ~ Hope.

#144 ~ A teddy bear from my husband, and a new charm for my Pandora bracelet too.

#145 ~ A second new oven. Thankfully this one works!

#146 ~ Books.

#147 ~ Planting seeds. The Parable of the Sower.

#148 ~ Praying for each other and with each other.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: My Lenten Journey

Honestly, I don’t know much about Lent. I've never participated in Lent because it sounded like another thing for me to fail at. Why then am I feeling led to give this Lent thing a try?

"I’m about to embark on a journey of the soul, and I want you to come along. When I stand in the sanctuary on Easter morning, I want to know that my whole heart has been yielded to Christ." ~ Jennifer Dukes Lee

Jennifer has written a book and it has captured my heart before even holding in my hands. Her book, Love Idol: Letting go of your need for approval—and seeing yourself through God’s eyes, releases April 1st. Find out more about her book here and join her Love Idol Movement here.

"Funny, how we can take God’s greatest gift – love – and turn it into an idol. Funny how we can twist our desire for approval, validation and significance into a false god."

I don't know when this feeling of not being worthy of love began. Maybe it started when told I had the intelligence of a dead fish. Other events replay in my head too — all of them feeding on the lie that I am not enough. Mostly, the lies come from my own negative thoughts.

Nonetheless, I've spent most of my life looking for validation elsewhere.

A friend from church, who has been a mentor to me, asks whenever we meet, "How are you doing, Beth?" She wants to know how I’m doing with letting go of my eating disorder. My answer remains the same as it did the last time she asked. "I’m doing okay." To take away some of the shame of not having a different response I tell her, "It’s better than it was."

"What steps are you taking towards freedom, Beth?"  Honestly? I’m not taking any steps. I get all tongue–tied when I try to explain why because I know when it comes down to it I’m scared to let go.

My identity — my worthiness — has been found in the number appearing on a scale for so long. What’s funny, no matter what the number reads it’s not enough. I still feel unworthy of being loved. Even when at my lowest weight, I did not feel worthy of love. Instead, I found myself lying in the bed of a mental hospital wishing I had the courage to end my life.

I've tried to find my worthiness through good works too. I volunteer for everything and anything to the point of exhaustion. It's still not enough.

And then there's my writing. I allow the number of page views or comments on a post to determine my worth. Those numbers grow but it's still not enough.

What's wrong with this picture?

I'm looking for validation in all the wrong places. The scale, good works and my writing have become love idols. If you strip away all of it and there was nothing more than who God created me to be, could I believe I was worthy of being loved?

I go back to His word...I go back to the beginning.

"So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." ~ Genesis 1:27

Do I believe God created me? Oh, yes I do. I really do.

"Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!" ~ Genesis 1:31

If I believe He created me the words "it was very good" apply to me too.

Do I live my life as though I believe?

Let’s be honest. When I look to the number on a scale for approval, I’m not living as though I believe. Continually harming my body by purging does not honor God. If I've already been PreApproved by Him, what am I doing?

I've had enough. I’m exhausted from the not-enough’s and not-worthy’s.

As Christ said on the cross when He died for my sins, "It is finished." ~ John 19:30

I’m turning off those tapes; they will no longer be replaying in my head, Jesus said, "It is finished." He died on the cross to make me new. "The old has gone, the new is here!" ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

How do I respond to what He did for me?

I’m going to join a whole other group of Jesus-sisters in taking a sledgehammer to my love idols and I’m starting with my eating disorder. The number on my scale will no longer define my worth — my scale has been shipped to my husband!

"I don’t want to miss the love I was made for — the love bleeding on Good Friday, then rising on Easter morning."

Me too, Jennifer! Me too!

Today marks the beginning of my first Lenten journey. Today I begin a journey towards freedom.

I am PreApproved by God. I am loved by God. I already have the only approval I need.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~ Psalm 139:14

Sunday, March 2, 2014

He restores my soul

Duane Scott of Scribing the Journey recently wrote on his Facebook page, "The hardest part of writing is penning the first sentence. From there on, it’s a wild and dangerous fight to the end." Sharing his quote sounded like a wonderful way to begin this post when I have no idea how to begin.

I’m sitting at Panera Bread eating a chicken and avocado salad (which is way too big, by the way) and drinking a much needed vanilla latte. I come here to get away from the quietness of my home. I desperately miss my husband. I miss him so much it hurts.

It’s snowing again. It looks beautiful but it feels like added weight I can no longer carry.

A book by Max Lucado, Safe in the Shepherds Arms, sits in front of me. The introduction begins with the words, "Come to me." Lucado shares the words from Matthew 11:28 and then writes,

"If we let him, God will lighten our load, but how do we let him?"

He invites and old friend to show us – the Twenty-third Psalm. This book by Lucado is Hope and Encouragement from Psalm 23.

I find it ironic my husband would send this book home. It was included in a package he mailed home to free up needed space in his small living quarters. It upset me when I first saw the book in his box of stuff. I worry about him being drawn away from God while he's away even though he has not given me a reason to worry. Maybe God knew I needed the book more than my husband.

The introduction of the book includes the words from Psalm 23. They are familiar words even though I’m a somewhat new Christian. As Lucado writes, "Do more beloved words exist?"

I arrive at the words ‘He restores my soul.’

As I watch the snow come down at a faster speed my brain tells me I should make my way home – my heart says, God, restore my soul.

We need a God "who, while so mind-numbingly might, can come in the soft of night and touch you with the tenderness of April snow. You need Yahweh. And, according to David, you have one. He is your Shepherd."

I’m trying hard to hold back the tears. I've done my share of crying over the weekend. The tears have been rather uncontrollable. Loneliness consumes me. I feel ill-equipped to handle the curve balls being thrown my way. I want God to make it all stop but that is not what he promises. But He promises to lead me out.

"Your shepherd knows that you were not made for this place. He knows you are not equipped for this place. So he has come to guide you out. He has come to restore your soul..."

I don’t doubt my Shepherd will come to lead me out. He always comes. It may not always be in the soft of night but He comes. Most times He comes when I take this pen and write the first sentence that was so hard to write. When I write I find Him. I never really lost Him; I only took my eyes off of Him.

These tears may fall but they remind me to lift my eyes up to the sky and ask Him to give my weary soul strength. As I look up with my eyes focused on Him I’m captivated. I’m captivated by all He is – beyond anything I will ever fully understand.

"Captivate us, Lord Jesus
Set our eyes on You
Devastate us with Your presence
Falling down
And rushing river, draw us nearer
Holy fountain consume us with You
Captivate us Lord Jesus, with You"
~ Captivate Us, by Watermark

These tears may continue to fall but they draw me closer and closer to Him. So fall if they must because all I want – everything I need – is Him. He is the one who restores my soul.