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."

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