Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Looking over the past year I can honestly say it has been one of the best of my life. A lot of change has happened and while a lot of it may not have been in my plans, I can honestly say that God has been teaching me so much through all of it. If anything, I am learning of the depths of God’s love for me and the strength that comes with the peace that he gives and the assurance of His faithfulness.

Since it is Thanksgiving, I realize we give thanks this time more than usual, and it is sad that it takes a day to really make you think about all that you have to be thankful for. This should be something we focus on daily, but regardless just want to take a few minutes to reflect on some of things that I am thankful for over this past year in my life.

Supportive Parents who continually bless me and continue to show their love and belief in me, as I am finishing school and traveling all the time.

A church family who never ceases to amaze me. The support, the prayers, and the sweet notes of encouragement, and the endless hugs- It’s amazing to have such a “family” I am blessed.

What a great summer I had. One of the best I’ve ever had- traveling with such a GREAT group of people. They’re family. We may not all be together anymore, but for that season of life, God showed me so many things and taught me about the depths of his love through each of you. This season of my life will be something I never forget. It’s a favorite.

I’ve almost made it through two more semesters of Nursing School. God is showing me daily how I can love people through my future career. What a blessing to love others and care for them in their time of need. What an opportunity.

New Friends – Along with each new season God brings different people into my life and I am thankful for new friendships.

Family- I often take it for granted as our family is not together often, but I had the chance to see some of my distant family and we are meeting up in January, and I am excited for these sweet moments that we won’t always have.

Kairos- A service I attend on Tuesday Nights. I am thankful for this church and for the leadership there. This has truly been an inspiration and a place where God’s presence has been so real to me.

My Health. I take this for granted daily but God has been good to me.

I thank God for doing the impossible in the past year. Certain situations that seemed impossible, He always comes through.

His Grace- While searching my heart and realizing there were areas I needed to “get off the fence” about, God’s forgiveness and Grace have been available to me and I thank him for forgetting about my past when I ask for forgiveness.

Guidance- I thank God for leading me in the past year to make some decisions that I needed to make.

Providing- God has provided for me to be at school and to travel and sing and do what I love.

I am thankful for the chance to be on a stage almost every weekend, to do what I love and to have the opportunity to share what God’s done in my life to people all over the Southeast Region on a weekly basis. This by far has been the best experience of my life and although I don’t have much time left traveling for Trevecca, I will treasure these moments for the rest of my life.

I thank God for some old friendships that have been rekindled in my life. He knows exactly what I need.

I am thankful for all the support of those who love and care about me and for their desire to make me a better person. I am blessed with some amazing people who love me despite my faults and selfishness so many times.

Writing- Over the past year, I have just been impressed to write now more than ever. I feel like God lays things on my heart and on paper is where it comes out best. I have been blessed to be able to write and express all that God is doing in and through me.

Seasons- I never understood the power of the seasons and their distinctness, but God has taught me so much through changes that have happened over this past year. While it may not be everything I thought, the Lord has been with me each step of the way and he has made himself so real to me and I am grateful for his presence.

I really have so many things to be thankful for not only on Thanksgiving, but everyday. I pray that those who are important to me know how I feel about them.

On this Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for? Have you thanked God for the life He has given you and the many blessings He pours out daily?

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Plans for a future

Monday, November 22, 2010

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20)

One of the greatest things in technology today can either help you find your way, or irritate you to death as it is telling you “recalculating route”…. Yes, I’m sure you guessed it. I’m talking about a GPS. It’s amazing that no matter where you are, all you have to do is type in your destination and it will tell you and lead you to your destination. The most important part of using a GPS is knowing your destination. In seconds, after it is programmed into the machine, we know how many miles we have to go, what our ETA is, and possibly what the weather is in those places. It’s fast. There’s no waiting. There’s no question. You trust that this little device will get you to the place that you need to go.

I often find myself wanting this journey of life to be much like this. Easy and fast. No questions. Unfortunately, the destination of the journey that God wants to take us on is not something that we are just given like an address. We live in such a fast paced society where everything is right at our fingertips and we have become so impatient. The internet links us to answers to just about anything in seconds, cell phones connect us to each other in seconds, drive thru's give us food in minutes…the list goes on and on.

What am I supposed to do next? Where is God going to take me? What does he want me to do with my career? Who does he want me to be with? Am I going to have to move to Africa? Will I have enough money to do what He is asking me to do? Am I ever going to be a parent?

These are all questions that I think of when I think about the overall picture of life. There is so much uncertainty in life- with finances, placement, even people. Nothing ever seems to be certain. It is no doubt scary.

Regardless of the questions, the worries, the sleepless nights that happen we have been given a promise that says: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is quoted often, but if you really and truly believe this in your heart, there is no way this cannot change your life.

God never promised us that life would be easy, that we wouldn’t question things in our lives, or that we should not ever question Him, He promised us that He has plans for us and when we want Him more than anything else, and we are seeking Him, we will find Him.

Regardless of how we see ourselves, whether we believe we are worthy or unworthy for God to use us, He has chosen us and called Each person by name.

Psalm 139 tells us "For I created your inmost being...."

The Lord knows EXACTLY who we are and what he has gifted each one of us with. We are precious in HIS site, not because of a talent we have or some goal we have accomplished, but just because HE loves us and He chose YOU!

“One day at a Time” – it sounds so simple yet it is so difficult to do when you are anxious. The older that I get and the more I look back on situations in my life where nothing seemed to make sense and I was questioning God about what He wanted for me and where he was going to take me, it all makes sense now.

This life is a journey and everyday we have to be ready to accept what God has for us. We have to continually pursue what He has for us. We may not know what is a year down the road, or what He even has for us tomorrow, but the important thing is that we trust Him to show us in His timing, and we must be willing to be obedient to what He is calling us to do.

While not knowing your final destination might be scary, I find so much comfort and peace in the fact that someone bigger than me has everything all planned out. My job is to follow instructions as they are given and trust that in time I will know what I need to and that He will provide for every need that I have. Some of the scariest times in life are they ones when you don’t know what your next step is going to be, but then after you have been obedient to the Lord’s calling whatever the situation, you see God’s faithfulness and his leading in your life.

“The Future” is a conversation that seems to come up quite often these days in my life and among some of my closest friends. I was having lunch with two of my favorite girls this week, and we began to talk about school, different opportunities that God has presented for some of us, and just some prayer requests about direction for the future. We often will say “what if” this happened or I wonder what life is going to be like in a year? Where will we be? What am I going to do after school?

I’d be lying if I said this kind of stuff never stresses me out, or that I don’t worry. The challenge for myself right now during this season of my life is to simply trust. It seems so much easier when I do, but letting go and trusting that in God’s timing He will show me the direction He wants me to go is crucial.

So I challenge myself as well as you, if you are at a place where you question what God has for you next or where He wants you to be in whatever situation you might be facing, let this be a time where your faith comes into action. All of the things I believe about God and proclaim in my heart that He has been and is going to be for me, this is the time where my actions speak louder than words.

Does the way you and I live our lives show that we completely trust that God knows what He is doing? Do you believe he has great plans for you? Are you willing to follow where he leads you? Have you even asked God what He has for you?

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

"You hold my world in Your Hands"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"I waited patiently on the Lord, He turned to me and heard my cry."

Overwhelmed. Tired. Impatient. Selfish. Frustrated. Anxious. Nervous. Weary.
These are all words I would use to describe myself over the last few weeks.
Not something I am proud of, it's just honest.
300 miles an hour seems to be the pace of my life these days.
In the business of my life in the past couple of weeks, I have often failed to take time to tell the Lord everything that's going on. To invest my time where it matters.

Last night, I had the opportunity to just stop.
To be still.
To be honest & real.
To worship.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

It's amazing what God will do when you seek Him.
During the worship service last night, I couldn't help but to be overwhelmed by the presence in the room. It was inevitable. What a feeling.
But more than a feeling, and more than an emotion, there was such a realness to my experience last night. The last time I felt somewhat like I did last night, and that type of encounter with the Holy Spirit, was 4 years ago at NYC.

I distinctly remember His presence.
I remember the clarity that I had in my head and my heart.
I experienced that same presence last night.
We sang about all of it...all the names of God were flashed on the screen before me.

The greatness of God. His healing power. His grace. His mercy. His love. His forgiveness.His understanding. His patience. His plan. His strength. His security.

When I began to think of all these names and what each of these meant for me personally, I was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God in my life when I have many times turned my back, and done my own thing.

His love.
He's been teaching me about this so much in the past year, and it's amazing that I see new aspects and depths of His love for me everyday.

They encouraged us to be real with God. With everything.
It wasn't long before I was pouring my heavy heart out to the Lord.
It wasn't even that I said anything out loud, but the weight of my heart & the things on my mind that never seem to quit racing in my head, were slowly still.
Almost as if someone put a pause button on my life and stopped everything in my world just for a few minutes where nothing else mattered but that moment.

With my eyes closed & my hands reached out to heaven telling God everything, I was silenced in my own heart & mind. His face was before me in my mind, and clear as day The Lord looked directly into my eyes and gently said -
"Bethany, My love will sustain you. I'm here."

For all the moments that I've felt alone, wanting comfort, or just an embrace that says "it really is going to be okay, you're gonna make it. You can do it!" I literally felt like my entire body was being held closely. Wrapped so tightly that I could barely breathe.
What a sweet moment.

I cannot begin to tell you the power of that moment in my life at this time.
The Lord has been so good to me, and I am so grateful that at times in my weakest moments, and times of great need, if we seek Him, he promises that He will show up.

I didn't want this encounter to end.
His presence was real. Alive. I was immersed in it.

While it may not be an experience like this everyday, or every worship service, I was reminded of the sweetness of His presence, the addiction, the satisfaction, the comfort, the perspective that His plan puts on my life, the incomparable joy and peace that comes when you just rest in His arms.

I pray that like me, You will press into the Lord & everything that He has for your life.
He holds everything in His hands.
I pray that I never become satisfied, but continually hungry for the Lord & His presence.

"Nothing is impossible for You...You hold my world in Your hands."

When You think You've had Enough

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

Ever wake up saying to yourself:
"I just have to make it through today?"

I personally feel like I have been living this way for the past couple of weeks.
It's been exhausting. The end of the semester is so close, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but yet it seems so far out of my reach. The pressure I feel with school and trying to get everything done and do my best is something I am overwhelmed with daily, but I try to just take it a day at a time. Traveling every weekend has been fun and something I love but it takes a toll on being tired throughout the week. On top of all of that my family had to go to South Carolina last weekend to be with my Grandfather to help him out during a very difficult time. It was not easy for any of us to watch him, as he was diagnosed with dementia, and to just see him slipping away in his mind at times. It was however a blessing to be there to sort through things for him and get him to a place where he can be cared for how he needs to be. You never realize how important life is, until you stop and think about that fact that it doesn't last forever.

I got back to school at the beginning of this week with a list of things to do that is a mile long.
I tend to be an emotional person, but I didn't show much emotion all weekend long with my family even when I felt like I could cry my eyes out.
I felt numb.
The other night when I was at school, I was getting ready to work on some of my homework and I knew I just needed to get away from school and clear my mind before I could do anything how it needed to be done.

I decided to take a drive.
The knot in my throat was huge.
The weight of what seemed like 1000 lbs seemed like it was riding on my shoulders.
Nothing I could say, or even try and write would explain how I felt.
Rarely am I at a loss for words to explain what I feel.

In total frustration, weariness, emptiness, and almost what seemed in my spirit, desperation I cried out to the Lord- "I just don't know."

This moment I found complete peace and satisfaction in the fact that the Lord knows everything about me. He knows my innermost thoughts. My heart. My desires. My pain.

I found myself in an empty parking lot weeping in the car. I began to tell the Lord everything I feel. My hurts, my worries, how tired I am, how weary I am with school, my fears and concerns about the future, pressures I feel, my prayers for people close to me, my frustrations with situations I am currently dealing with...complete honesty.

While it was nice to be honest and real and get it all out, it was almost as if in that moment I physically just wanted to be held, to feel that security. To hear
"Bethany, everything is going to be just fine. I'm here."
I almost wanted to cry out-" just get me out of this place right now I don't know how to deal with everything I feel."

I felt ridiculous to be honest, but it was real for me in that moment.

So, I got silent.

"Be Still, Bethany."

A sudden peace swept over me. I can't explain it to you except to say, the weight, the worries, the desperate feeling that I had inside of me, just disappeared.
While my hurt and things that I will have to grieve over don't just disappear,
I didn't feel like I was alone.
My battle of feeling that no one understands where I am at was suddenly something that I didn't think about because the Lord knows exactly where I am at right now.

I wish I could say that means all my stress, and hurts, and things went away. That is not true, but I have realized that even though I am so ready for this semester to be over, and for a break to be here: God shows up in my weakest moments.
When I can't do it anymore, and I am ready to quit- He steps in.

I was reminded of lyrics from one of my favorite songs that says this:
"His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He'll carry us when we can't carry on, raised in his power, the weak become strong. His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect."

So if you are at a place in life where you feel like you just can't do it anymore.
You're at the end of your rope.
Hang on.
Grab a hold of the truth that tells us: 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'
Rest in the fact that he created your inmost being....He knows everything about you, and the Lord will not put us through anything that we cannot handle.

We may not be able to do it on our own, but in our weakest moments, He wants to show up and do great things that we never could have done on our own.

I challenge you as well as myself to allow the difficult moments in our lives, when you want to quit, to be moments where God steps in and does extraordinary things in and through us.

"Be still and know that I am God."

"You are Autumn"

Monday, October 18, 2010

"And still I notice You when change begins, and I embrace for colder winds. I will offer thanks, for what has been and what's to come...
You are Autumn"

I had some "Me" time today.
I drove downtown to Starbucks and spent some time studying, and catching up on my "to do" list that is a mile long. It felt nice to get away and have some time not to feel rushed.
On my way back today, I was stopped at a red-light by Vanderbilt, and driving back there are some beautiful trees. It is a beautiful day, and the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
I noticed the leaves falling off the trees, and the beauty in all the colors.
Such beauty in this change of seasons.
Funny, that the song' Gratitude was playing in my car.
This song by Nichole Nordeman, talks about different seasons of our lives and giving
thanks regardless of the time. This song was meaningful to me during my Freshman year of
college and I often times am reminded of that season in my life.
It was one of the most challenging moments of my life.
A dry spell if you will, however such beauty, newness, and wholeness was created because of that season of my life.
I am thankful for the pain, the struggle, the tears, and the joy of that year.

I realize change is happening all around me.
It's constant.
Uncertainty is difficult, waiting on God's timing for things to come together, to make sense, for happiness to come, for rest, for life to somehow come together- its difficult.

Regardless of the time in life.
The season physically.
The season in your own heart.
A cold, dry place.
Or perhaps, a warm, vibrant, season full of life.
Either way, regardless of seasons, feelings, or people
God NEVER changes.
His love is constant, through all of it.
He has a plan in & through everything in our lives.

So be encouraged.
Whatever season you are facing in your heart, and your life....
He makes All things new.
His timing is difficult to trust, but He gives the Grace to sustain each of us during the
"waiting" period.

If this seasons of your life is full of life, thank Him for it.
Hold onto these moments, for this is how we become faithful when life is difficult.

I was reminded today simply of the beauty of seasons.
Not only to watch the trees and nature change around me,
but the promise that even after the coldest of winters, when everything is dead,
new life is awaiting....

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord..."
Jeremiah 29:11

You Make All Things New

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Out of chaos, life is being found in You."

I've been learning a lot in the last couple of months in my life. It's been a crazy time since August. I don't feel that I have much time to even catch my breath these days, or to blog, but I have been waiting anxiously to sit down & share part of my journey with you.
As I have mentioned a million times in previous blogs, change is hard. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, and at times just plain hard. Regardless, it happens.
God has been speaking to me a lot recently.

A few lessons I have been learning the past couple of months:

Prayer changes me, not God. My day is better when I pray, all day- constant conversation.
Loving is easy when it's someone you get a long with, its difficult with some people- this is when being Christ-like is not an option, but its very difficult.
A reminder that His grace is sufficient for me.
When God calls us to something, He won't leave us stranded. He goes with us.
When we seek the Lord, He promises us an answer, however his timing is key.
Patience is difficult, but with God's help I will learn to be more like him.
Actions speak louder than words.
It's easier to shrug off things that really hurt, then to deal with them.
God has a plan even when I think I've ruined it.
Life is short. We are never promised tomorrow.
I realize I struggle with pride and selfishness more than I thought I did.
A sweet reminder - "Cast all your cares and worries on Him, for He cares for you."
God is creating something beautiful daily out of my life.
God gives rest to the weary.

I guess you could say I've done a lot of reflecting, asking, and just seeking the Lord more than I have in awhile. Being vulnerable can be scary at times, but it has also been some of the best times in the last couple months as I have been broken and open before the Lord asking him to search my heart and life, to show me what He wants for me, and just to refill me when I feel like I am at the end of my rope. Some days I am down on myself thinking I should have this all figured out by now, but then I am reminded that God uses the weak people in this world to lead the strong.
All He asks for is a willing spirit.

I've also done some real thinking about God's plan for my life and His work even in situations that make no sense to me, and just some that I am so sick of because it's hard and it's not my way. Regardless, I have been thinking a lot about being happy, and about joy.

The dictionary defines joy as - to take great pleasure in, or to enjoy.

As I have been thinking about being "happy" ...I realize this isn't something that I am always going to be, however having Joy in the midst of an unhappy situation, or one that is not ideal, is even better. Realizing that God knows what He is doing in and through everything & the fact that I can trust that He will never change, or fail me. I can rest in this truth.
There is Joy in this!

The Bible tells us "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

In my quiet time, in moments of worship in the past couple of weeks, I have found myself being reminded of the places God has brought me from, the closeness of His presence in my daily life, and the truth that He goes before me and will guide me if I truly seek him.

While this season of my life may not be everything I 'thought' it was going to be, The Lord has made himself so real to me. I pray that I am becoming more and more like him everyday. I may not have all of this figured out, but I am striving to be all that God wants me to be.

‎"You delight in truth in the inward being, You teach me wisdom in the secret heart."♥

Oh For Grace, To Trust Him More...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

So it's been awhile.
I guess I would say I have been avoiding writing, not really sure why, just been a lot on my mind, and not even sure I know how to put everything into words... so I haven't even attempted it.

I realize more and more everyday how much life is always changing.
Every time you get used to something, and its comfortable. It changes.
Comfort is almost something I find myself wanting to avoid for fear that that the second I feel that, it will be taken away. While this isn't always the case, I have learned and am learning some very valuable lessons through this season of my life.

I've written about it some, but I'm not sure words could even express the conviction and the heaviness I have felt in my heart when the Lord has asked me multiple times and in multiple ways-
"Do you trust me?!"

I wish I could tell you I have everything together.
I wish I could tell you the answer to that question was a positive "Yes, Lord. I trust you"
I wish I could write and be extremely happy and excited about everything in life right now.
But that's not real for me at this present time.

However, I am blessed beyond measure.
I have everything to be thankful for.
I have opportunities in front of me that are a once in a lifetime chance.
Regardless of how much I feel safe, or comfortable, or a lack there of,
God is never concerned about my comfort as much as He is my character.

The more I learn to sit back, LET GO, and truly TRUST in him,
the more I find joy, and most importantly peace
in everything going on in my life.
Even though it may not always be everything I want.

I want to learn to Trust God.
Completely. No hesitation. No questions asked.
Even when things aren't my way.
When nothing makes sense.
When I feel like I just wanna cry because everything in life feels outta control.
When I hurt so bad inside, I can't even express my feelings.
When lettings go is what has to be done.
When surrendering my will is a daily struggle.
When there's chaos around me.
When I'm around 600 people but feel alone.
When my plans are changed.
In everything.

This verse has been on my mind and heart for the last few weeks
and I will continue to meditate on it's words.

"The lord our God is with you; He is mighty to save. The Lord will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

Zeph. 3:17

The Lord promises to never leave us nor forsake us, and when everything else is changing around us, He is the same.

Lord. Help me to Trust you.

Seasons of Life

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I was thinking the other day...
It's funny that we try to control things and we stress ourselves out trying to fix situations
that we never had control of in the first place.
Seems ridiculous if you think about it like that.

I guess that's what I wanna be.
I know I can be a stubborn person at times. I don't consider myself to have control issues, but I have been questioning myself lately on my control issues with God and what he is doing around me and in my life. Why in the world can I not just let go and trust Him?
Am I scared? What is there to be afraid of? He's never let me down yet...
That doesn't mean there is no pain involved in change or circumstances that make no sense to me- but through all that- God has never asked me not to hurt, or to act like everything's okay, He asks me to be real and bring it to His throne confidently.
I'm wondering how long it is going to take me to learn this lesson.
I have a feeling it will be a life long lesson.

The other day, I watched the video from when EverPraise sang this past year.
As we sang my favorite song, and sang
"Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him. How I've proved him over and over. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh for Grace to trust Him more"
I watched the passion I had when I sang that and just the belief in every word that I was singing.
It's proven true in the past in my life.
Why would it not prove true now?

I guess I admitted to myself it's because I don't want change.
Regardless of how I feel, what's going to happen, and whether I like it or not, God has literally shown me in multiple ways in the last couple of weeks that He is going to get His work done with or without me. I so want to be a part of this and in order to be what he needs me to be I have to let go of all that I think should be, and trust that He knows what is best.

"God is more concerned with our character than our comfort."

I have decided that I am going to not wait till I feel like going along with change, or until I feel like I understand what God is doing in my life, because if I wait to feel might not ever happen.
I need to act and trust.
Isn't that what Faith is?!

I am almost embarrassed that I question God, but I realize that he is drawing me closer to Him during this time. If anything, I pray that when I look back on this season of my life, it will be another stepping stone in my journey where my faith was stretched. I am praying daily for the strength to step boldly into all that He has for me.

I am thankful for a God that is patient with me and that regardless of the season of life, His love is always there, no matter where I am at. He never leaves us and I find so much comfort in that.

I'll end with a line from a song that has played over and over in my mind in the last couple of weeks.

"I will give you what you need, in plenty or in poverty- forever always look to Me, and I will give you what you need. I will not take my love away."

I am resting in this promise.

"And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us..."

Monday, August 2, 2010

"We started out as strangers, and ended as family."

Where in the world did the summer go?!
Ah, it was a blast! The last month of summer flew by! North Carolina camp was a blast,time with the Edward's was such a blessing. The memories kept rolling, and the laughs were constantly coming. It was a blast!

I couldn't be more thankful for such a great summer!!!

Deep breath.
If I am learning one thing in life, I am learning that things are constantly changing. I am not a huge fan of change, but I realize that with change come some of the best things in life. Some of the greatest characteristics that we attain, and growth that happens throughout our lives comes when change happens.

I wanna be completely real about something I am learning and experiencing right now in my life. I have a knot in my throat as I am writing this, because like I said it's real, and it's now.
Over the last year I have had this huge desire on my heart to just live in the moment. To take nothing for granted and to just love life and every moment because we are never promised tomorrow. I never really understood why I felt this way, but none the less I can say that over this past year, I have done that. I don't have any regrets of time spent with people or wishing time away. That's been an awesome feeling!

A couple of situations in my life where I thought things were certain, or "comfortable" in the past week I found out won't exactly be how they were. Without going into detail, it has been a hard thing to take in. Something that I have been looking forward to, something that I have held onto so much because it is so special to me, and just something that I love dearly, is now not going to be exactly like I had planned. Through all of this, I realize now that the uncertainty of tomorrow, and the questions that I have, and all the emotions that I have , I have a choice in all of it. Do I trust that God knows what's best, or do I wallow in my selfish feelings?

A question was asked to me- Bethany- do you trust God, or do you trust the people he brought into your life?

Looking back on everything, and working through all that is happening, and what's ahead, I realize now more than ever, that my trust cannot be in people, but in the One who brings people into my life.

We sang out last song together in a worship service a week ago in SC, and as we were on stage singing for the last time together as a group- clear as day, I heard the Lord speak to me and he said this
"Bethany, I know exactly what you need, trust me. I know what each of you need. Let me do my thing."
I really didn't know what to think about this, so I just kept it to myself until later that night.
I told the group what I felt like I heard, and I was relieved to just share that.

It is easy for my head to say that God is already ahead of me and he knows what I need and it's another thing for my heart to believe that. In the last week as I have been praying about my attitude, and for an open mind and heart, I realize how much I struggle to fully trust God with things that I cannot control.
It seems kinda silly that I would even try to control something that I never had control of in the first place. My prayers and my desire is to trust God with everything that I have, regardless of how I think things should turn out.

It's one thing to say that I trust God with things that I like. It's another thing to say I trust God in situations where I am hurt, wondering what's next, and nervous about the outcome.

I wanna believe this with everything that I am.
"Jesus, Jesus- how I trust Him. How I've proved him over and over. Jesus, Jesus- precious Jesus, oh for Grace to trust Him More."

A Summer full Of Love

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 7:6-9

I cannot believe that my summer travels are over! Where did the time go?!
I have one more service tomorrow morning, and another youth event Monday morning in Columbia, South Carolina and that's it! I cannot believe how fast the time went by, I feel like I was just getting ready to come back to Nashville to practice for the summer. It was a great summer!

We just spent this past week in North Carolina at their teen camp. Despite the heat, it was a wonderful week! God did some awesome things throughout the week and it was such a blessing to be a part of it. Looking back over the past summer I can honestly say that I have felt reminded, and overwhelmed with how MUCH God loves me. I'm not sure why, but I feel like God in so many ways was trying to show me this.

"God Loves You"

This is something I have heard so many times in my life, but in the past two months, it has become so alive to me and has a new and refreshing meaning in my life. I wanted to share a couple memories from the summer that reminded me of God's love for me.

At Alabama South camp in Panama City, I was walking on the beach one night, and strolled off a bit by myself...looking at the beautiful ocean, listening to the waves, and just looking at all the stars in the sky, I felt the presence of God in that moment and I just felt him reminding me that He loves me. He created everything in the universe and yet he knows MY name and loves me.

When I got to go with Everpraise to my hometown, I was beyond overwhelmed not only with the love from people at home, but I felt so blessed to have grown up with such special people in my life who support me. God has shown his love to me through the great people he has brought into my life and I am forever grateful for that.

We got to enjoy a week at family camp in South Carolina, and one night I just needed to have some time away so I decided to take a walk. Listening to some of my favorite music, I was captured in the moment by some lyrics that speak such truth- The fact that God loves me regardless of where I've been, how much I've messed up, and he sees me through eyes of love and not through the eyes of the world. Oh to see myself that way, and to revel in the love that he has for me.

Probably the coolest experience I had this summer was this past week in NC. We were leading worship and we were singing the song- "How He Loves." I love the song, and the words are awesome! It was awesome watching everyone engaging deeply in worship, and just experiencing the presence of God. As we got to the chorus of this song that sings "He loves us, oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves, Oh how he Loves"- I felt this rush of wind come from behind me. On a side note- there was no air in this building. It was an overwhelming feeling, just a peace that swept over me. I wasn't really sure what to think and maybe I was going crazy, then Parker caught my eye. His eyes were big just like mine and I knew he was experiencing everything I was. As he said "Praise the Lord" with all the sincerity in his voice, all I could think was that was awesome!
Whether it was just a brush of wind that happened to come at that time, I am choosing to believe that it was something from the Holy Spirit to remind me once again of His love. It was described at this camp in this way- I loved this idea. The speaker was awesome and he said something that went a little like this- Think of God's love as the ocean...Get a straw and start drinking...keep drinking till you're satisfied. The point, it won't ever run out and you can't even put a dent into it. Drink as much as you want! It's available and waiting! I loved this analogy of God's love for us!

God has been SO so good to me! This summer has been awesome! I have gotten to share some of the best memories of my life with 7 other people who I consider Family. God is constantly wanting to do something new- in and through us, and I felt so undeserving to be able to stand before hundreds of students to help lead them into the presence of God. While I was the one supposedly "working," I felt like I was the person being blessed over and over. I thank God for this opportunity and for another great summer of traveling.

I am thankful that God loves me. Not because I deserve it but just because He chooses to love me. I can never deserve it, nor pay him back for all he has done for me, but His love can cover anything, and it is powerful. His love has changed my life and I pray that I can love others like he does more and more.

A Note to Say Thank you!

Monday, July 5, 2010

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

It has been an overwhelming weekend but overwhelming in a good way. I have felt so blessed this weekend to be home with my family and friends and to be here with EverPraise. Sunday was a great worship experience. It by far is the most intimidating crowd for me to be in front of and I probably had more nerves going into Sunday than I thought I would.

Saturday night as I was getting ready to go to bed, I started to pray about the service the next day. I knew that I was asked to share something, but I had no idea what I was going to say. I don’t talk often, I get nervous and most times feel like I am going to trip all over my words and embarrass myself. I began to pray that God would give me the words that he wanted me to say and that he would let the service go smoothly.
Sunday morning came. It was so great to see everyone, and I was overwhelmed at the people who came that I asked to come. I felt so loved. Music is what I am passionate about and so I was extremely excited to be able to share this with the people that I love. Right before Everlasting God, I knew I was going to talk here and right when we got to the part before this song, I looked at Parker and said I got nothing. His reassurance was the confidence I needed at that point, and so it came time. Just as promised, in God’s timing, I do feel like he gives us wisdom and words to say. I really don’t even know what I said on Sunday to be honest, but I know what happened in my spirit.

Most of my life, I have struggled with being transparent. Not because of anything specifically, but I feel like so many times as Christian’s we have this idea that we have to be “perfect” and if we aren’t then it is not acceptable to come just as we are, when the Bible tells us God uses the weak people to do great things. I remember feeling an overwhelming peace at this point and just wanting to be real. Regardless if I stumbled over my words, or cried.
You see, I have had some bumps along the way but who hasn’t? If I’m not real about my journey and what God has been to me then how can I help someone who might be in shoes that I’ve worn before?

As hard as it might be to admit that I have shortcomings, I’ve been disobedient, I struggle with stubbornness, anger and feelings of bitterness, and feel like I have scars that Satan is constantly trying to re open as new wounds, and just the choice to take the wrong road and do things my own way, I realize that God wants to use all of that for His glory. At one point in my life, I needed to hear that God loved me. That simple. Something I had heard so many times, it just became words without meaning, but I needed to know it. Regardless of the things I had been taught, and the good intentions that my parents had bringing me up, I had to hit rock bottom in my own life to learn what Grace really is. It looks different for all of us but the beauty in that is that it covers all of us. It has no limits and its power is fathomless. It saved my life and how can I not thank God for that? How can I not share that good news?
So if anything, in all of this writing, I want it to be known to my Parents, my Church Family, Friends, and the group that I travel with every weekend, how grateful I am to have you in my life

To my parents- I wouldn’t be the person I am without you. Your love, encouragement, and belief in who I am and the things that God has set before me is incredible. I could never pay you back for all that you have done and sacrificed for me, and I am so blessed to have two great role models who are the real thing everyday. Thank you for making this weekend possible!

To my Church Family & Friends- You have been such a special part of my life. I have been blessed to be in one location since I was 5 years old. All of your love, support, and prayers mean more to me than you would ever know. The friendships and relationships that I have made because of our church is something that I will forever be grateful for. Thank you for treating me as your own and for loving me as God has been unfolding his plans in my life! I am so glad I got to come home and share with you what God’s doing in my life.

EverPraise- Thank you, each of you for being a part of my life during this season. God has blessed me with 7 wonderful friends. We have made lots of memories, and God is creating all of our stories as we speak, but I am thankful that God let all of our paths cross. Thank you all for letting God use you to challenge me to be a better person, friend, and to grow everyday. Bringing you home with me was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Thank you for being such a special part of my life! I am blessed because of you!

The reason I picked the verse at the beginning of this blog is simple. Regardless of my mistakes, the things I had set out for myself and the way I thought I wanted things to go, God has been faithful to me. When I stopped trying to do things my way, and I decided to let God have my life and make out of it what he has planned, he truly has given me the desires of my heart and his plan is still unfolding daily. It may not be perfect, but he has been so good to me and I just wanted to let those that I care about know how THANKFUL I am. I felt so undeserving on Sunday to be where I was, but all the Glory to God for the things he is doing in and around me. I wouldn’t be here without each of you, so from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

With love and Gratitude-

Walking in the Light

Thursday, July 1, 2010


It’s attractive. It’s refreshing. It’s freedom. It’s peace. It’s powerful.

There’s something about light. Without it, we can’t see. Just like the sunshine, it’s heat and radiance is something that feels so good, it’s a breath of fresh air.

In the Light, truth is exposed. Whether good or bad, there are no secrets.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been doing a lot of thinking in my own life and I have realized how much of my thought life Satan is trying to be involved in. He is the Father of Lies. Darkness is what he is about. In the dark, there is no freedom. Lies and secrets entangle those who choose to live in its grasp. It’s suffocating.

I have been struggle with lies from my past, and different things about myself that Satan would so love for me to revel in. It has taken me some time to realize his tactics and how he tries to attack me but when I finally put it all together in my head and realized what has been happening, I know that in Christ I am more than a conqueror. Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy. While he may have won some battles in my own heart and mind in the past, he will not win these battles. Whether physical, mental, or emotional. He will not win this time.

This morning I woke up quoting lyrics to a song that I love. It goes something like this:

“Jesus the most beautiful name of all names; Jesus the only name that brings healing, and strength. When I speak your name, mountains move, chains are loosed, When I speak your name, darkness flees. It has no hold on me.”

It wasn’t long before I knew why these lyrics were on my heart this morning. I believe God talks to us in many ways, but I have experienced this a few times in my life where I will wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning quoting lines that I may have forgotten I even know from songs.

I have been meditating on these words and I realize that there is so much power in these words. I have the Light on my side, and when I trust in him, and call on him regardless of my circumstances, darkness cannot be there. It may not be actions taken in my life but I really believe that my thought life is just as capable of getting me to places I don’t need to be.

Satan will not win the victory because I have the Light of the World in my life and he has already overcome the things of my past, he has forgiven me, and his grace is sufficient for me. He is writing the story of my life, and he has good plans for me. His promises are true.

Praise be to God for His Light in our lives and the power that we have because of it!

Beautiful Things

Monday, June 28, 2010

"You created my inmost being..."

No one knows an invention better than the inventor.
Often times, I think of this and I compare it to God and how well he knows me.
It's funny that we think we can trick God or that we can hide something from him.
It's scary if you think about him knowing you better than you know yourself,
but somehow, in a weird sort of way, it's security.
Someone knows me and gets me even when I don't get or understand myself.

Last night I had the privilege to go to a Michael Gungor concert.
Not someone I have listened to a whole lot, but he is now a favorite.
A song that he sang last night, hit me.
It's words penetrated my heart and mind & I thought it explained a lot of things I feel in my own heart.
I say it often, but it's amazing the beauty that God creates out of the things in my life that I have messed up so badly. I don
't deserve to be here. I don't deserve to be used by God, but he chooses to create something beautiful out of this mess I have made for myself.

I will share the lyrics with you.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll even find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

I just love the idea that God is constantly creating something new and beautiful out of my life.
Regardless of how I see myself.
Regardless of how others see me.
Regardless of Satan's lies that so often control and consume my thought life.
He knows me. He created me. He makes all things new.
To him I am beauty beyond compare.

I don't deserve this kind of love, but oh to live in the light and to see myself how my Heavenly Father does.
What if we all saw ourselves the way our Heavenly Father sees us?

Real Love

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Love never gives up.
I am thankful for God's faithfulness to me in every situation, even when I fall short.
Love cares more for others than for self.

I realize how selfish I am and how much I can work on putting others first.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
I am beyond blessed and have so much to be thankful for.
Love doesn't strut

Every gift that I have is given from above.
Doesn't have a swelled head
All the glory belongs to him.
Doesn't force itself on others
Gentleness is one of my favorite attributes of God and something I strive to have and be.
Isn't always "me first"
Less of me and more of you.
Doesn't fly off the handle
I never want my temper to get the best of me.
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others
God has granted me more grace than I ever deserve and I pray for this to be a part of who I am
Doesn't revel when others grovel
I want to be a part of the the right things in life, not the negative.
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
The truth always sets you free.
Puts up with anything
Patience and Understanding is something I need more of.
Trusts God always
It's scary to let go and trust, but God will never leave me nor forsake me, he has never let me down.
Always looks for the best
I want to always see others as God does, and not looking for the worst, but the best.
Never looks back
I can only pray to learn to not look back but forward. My past has been erased because of his forgiveness. I am forever grateful.
But keeps going to the end
It's dependable, not conditional, and something I can trust. Regardless of anyone, or anything.

I have read this chapter in 1 Corinthians multiple times, but this week I was meditating trying to pray through some things in my own heart, and this verse was brought to mind. I opened my bible and was drawn to these high-lighted words in the Message translation. This writing is different than how I normally express my thoughts, but with each verse read, this is what was going through my head. I can only keep thinking how blessed I am that there is a God who loves me. Not because of what I've done, who I am, but just because he created me and he loves me. No strings attached. It doesn't change even though I have messed up a million times, it doesn't threaten to walk out, its constant.

I realize that I have a lot to work on & strive for when I really think about the biblical meaning and definition of love. I am blessed to be Loved by a Heavenly Father with this perfect love, and I hope in my life to demonstrate this love to others the best way I know how.

What can separate us from the Love of Christ?
Absolutely nothing.

For that I am forever grateful.

And the Summer begins :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Off to the races! This last week was our first camp of the summer. Alabama South District holds their camp in Panama City, right on the beach. Torture right? It was a great week! Lots of time at the beach, fun in the pool, and spent time with some really cool students. It will be a hard camp to compete with!

It’s crazy how fast time flies when your busy from 8 am till about 1am for 5 days straight, but it was a blast. We unexpectedly got to go to Bradenton at the last minute and spend time with the Guthrie’s and sing at their home church on Sunday. It was an awesome service and it was nice to spend a few lazy days at their house eating good food, laughing around the table, watching movies, making home-made ice-cream and going to the beach. It really was a great week!

Camp for Alabama South had a theme that was all about choices. It seemed a little slow at first, and we were wondering if the kids were going to get into it. As we worshiped each night the enthusiasm was growing and you could just sense the sweet spirit that filled the Chapel.

I know that I have mentioned Jeremiah 29:11 multiple times in my previous blogs, but it never hurts to be reminded of this promise. The preacher used the Message version to share this verse with the students this week, which just happens to be my favorite version of it. I know we go to camp to bless others, but I truly believe that God blessed me this week.

Thinking back this past week, there was a service that we had, with a few songs that were sung that mean a lot to me and took me back to places in my life like I was right there. That is one of my favorite things about music. It is so powerful.

One night as we were up there leading worship, The lord brought me back to a place in my mind of where I was at 4 years ago. I had just gotten out of a really hard relationship, and was trying to work through a lot of things in my life. I was broken in a million pieces and felt like there was no way God could put my crazy life back together, nor could he ever use someone like me. At a camp in Florida 4 years ago, I had one of the sweetest experiences of my life at an altar. I was a broken, searching, lost, confused, angry, 17 year old girl searching for something real, and as I went forward to an altar I was overwhelmed with the presence of God and felt him reassure me that HIS grace was sufficient for my life, and that he could make something out of my life if I was willing to let him. This was a life changing moment for me.

Back to this week, as I was on stage worshipping this memory was brought back to me like it was yesterday. I couldn’t help but think that there was someone sitting in those seats in front of me that was feeling like I did, and how much I just wanted to reach out and say- He can fix it. Whatever it is. Whatever you bring to the table, he can handle it. Nothing is too big for him. He loves you.

I felt more blessed this night at camp than I have in a long time. Not necessarily because of anything going on around me, but simply because I often forget how much God has done for me. He has been so good to me and I do not deserve to live the life I do right now, but He has taken me and made something of my life even though I never thought he could. I just kept praying to myself that he would be as real to those students as he was to me. I remained prayerful this week knowing and trusting that God was going to do big things. It’s amazing what God does when we are obedient and willing.

I was reminded of another verse that I like a lot, and I chose to meditate on it’s truth this week and I will share it with you. In the Message it goes something like this…

“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life, and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God has done for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (Romans 12:1-2)

I am thankful for the chance to travel with such a great group of friends, to experience new places and the joy of traveling, and also the blessing of being able to invest in student’s lives and be a part of leading them into worship. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I am trying to soak in every moment of this summer. Looking forward to what’s to come!

Peace In The Midst of Chaos

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I have been home for two weeks now. It's been pure bliss. Nothing to do, no where to be, just time to be alone, enjoy a quiet room, make dinner when I want to, and hang out with my parents and go to puppy school with my Mom and Izzy, kick-boxing with my Mom, and just enjoying sweet time at home. I realize how different things are when I come home each time, but there is nothing like being at 'home.

I know that I have found myself thinking man I'm bored, but oh how I will miss that in about a week when my life is in a constant rush with no time to slow down and catch my breath.

In the past few weeks since I have b
een at home, like I said I've had no responsibilities really, no tests to study for (I found myself looking in my planner to see if I have any upcoming tests, it's sad lol), and really nothing to crazy going on in my life right now. I have no complaints :)

While I am extremely thankful for this, I also realize that there has been mad chaos around me. I have watched some people that I love so dearly go through some difficult days in the their lives, where faith is being tested, unfortunate things are happening, and lessons that are hopefully learned have been taking place. I have watched some people that I love dearly make some poor choices and not even realize the consequences that are possible, but that's life. We all have our moments, and just times in life where we go through the valley.

The more I have sat back and watched, and just really observed everything going on around me, the more I realized how easily I can stress about things that don't ever involve me. It's just pure madness sometimes. I told my Dad about how I was feeling. Basically that my life is going in slow motion right now and I am watching everything else going on around me wondering 'what in the world is happening?' I realize now more than ever how crazy this world is, and how corrupt this world truly is. It breaks my heart if I really think about it....but anywho...

For some reason the last week I have had a Bible story stuck in my head. To be honest, I am not even really sure why. The story of Jesus on the boat with His disciples in the middle of the storm. They were freaking out. I know if I was there, freaking out wouldn't even be the term for it. Jesus simply says to them in my translation - Why are you so afraid, don't you trust me? Where's your faith? - He looks at the raging sea and says - Peace be Still. And everything was quiet.

This is kinda how I envision this in my head.

I can only imagine the power of that moment. The more that I have thought
about this, and the more I realize the feelings of heaviness in my own heart for the things going on around me and the powerlessness that I have felt at times, the more I realize how much I have to rely on God to be the one to intervene in HIS timing. This part is hard for me. I was born impatient. But how sweet it is when it is in the Lord's timing. Today, I was getting ready for a party, and I had my ipod on shuffle and the song "Amazing God" by Anthony Evans came on. While I've heard this a million times. The lyrics caught my ear today. It goes something like this...

You’re amazing God, You’re amazing God
You can bear the weight of every heavy heart
You can heal the pain, you can clean the stain
You can turn our tears into songs of praise
You’re amazing God

As I began to think of what this really means, I was overwhelmed at the thought of God taking on all the pain not of just one person that I have been thinking and praying for but all of them, as well as everyone in creation if they call on Him. That is truly amazing.

I am blessed. Not just because things in my life are going well right now, but because I know during the storms of my own life, he has been faithful to me. Just as he was for me, he promises to be that for those that I care about so much. What a blessing to know that everything around us may be changing, things are uncertain, people let us down, jobs fall through, people walk out, and this world is just plain crazy, b
ut God is Faithful, Unchanging, Full of Love and Grace, and begs that we bring our heavy hearts to him so that He can lighten the load we carry.
That is something to truly be thankful for.

I will end this blog with one of my favorite psalms. I can see this verse in my head. Maybe something like this.
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

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