Your Hidden Gift

I was a teenager alone in a dark bedroom with a flashlight and a pen. There was a fire burning deep within my soul to put my words and my thoughts to paper. In a quiet house filled with sleeping minds, my thoughts were set ablaze and absolutely nothing could get in my way.

Except for the lack of paper. Come to think of it, not much in my life has changed in that regard.

It was at my little white desk under my flashlight and the glow of the moon that I would write letters of encouragement to those around me. The second my pen made contact with paper, my heart pounded and I felt a rush of relief. I truly felt called to write these words to those God had placed in my life. I even saved up money to purchase stamps and envelopes to ensure delivery.

Thank God for email. Free. Fast and reliable in most cases. Cure for my soul indeed (and my constant search for paper).

Yet, it seemed so astonishing to me to see that “encouragement” was among my top spiritual gifts. You see, I completed the assessment and thought, “I understand my other gifts, but how is encouragement really a gift? Isn’t it just normal to want to encourage others?”

It is normal to WANT to encourage others.

It’s a completely different reality to lose sleep unless you write an encouraging note to someone you know needs it the most.

I have the gift of encouragement and honestly, I never really knew it until just over a year of so ago. Since that time, I feel the urge to email or dare I even say snail mail a card with fancy paper – and I literally feel God’s love in such an amazing way. Now I know that God formed me with this gift in mind. Every single time I feel it just bursting inside of me, I fall in love with the Gift Giver.

God is good like that. His timing is always perfect.


If you do not know what your spiritual gifts are, perhaps it’s time to take the brave first step and take an assessment. I love using assessments with my clients and really enjoy the moment when the dots connect for them. Their voice gets all excited and they just can’t quit smiling.

“God was doing that all along and here I thought I was just strange” one client told me. I smiled and responded, “Our gifts are never hidden from God, but remain undiscovered until we decide to find Him in these areas of our lives.”

When you find God in your giftedness, be prepared to experience Him in an entirely new way. Yes, it gets personal, real and completely amazing. There is no limit what God can do through you – unless, you choose to leave your gift hidden.

This post was my first 5 Minute Friday entry in a very long time. Indeed, writing does wonders for my soul. Would you like to join me? Find more information here: http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ 

Your Words Speak

Your Words Change Lives: Your Life Coaching Moment

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This week I received a Facebook message that left me completely speechless. It contained two lines of text from a college professor I had not spoken to since graduation. Yes, posting one picture up on social media prompted him to share a piece of encouragement. The message was simple, yet profound. It was one of those messages that make you realize how God truly uses anyone to change lives.

Yes, our words matter.

His words mattered.

As I gazed down at my phone I read:

“Bethany, your book is changing lives. Do you remember the poem you autographed for me?” 

I wrote a poem in college?

I autographed a poem in college?

Of course my curiosity begged for answers.

I messaged him back, politely asking for a picture of the poem I had signed for him years ago. I will never forget his response:

“Bethany, your poem was part of a term paper focused on the Biblical interpretation of rest… The day I examined your paper, I allowed myself to dance in the rain for the first time in my life. I’ve never looked back. Thank you.”

He actually sent me the copy of my paper completed in April of 2002 (almost 14 years ago). Be blessed in knowing I dared not to share that paper on here. But the poem I will share.

I want to encourage you to let your words speak in ways that might feel uncomfortable to you. Include a poem in a term paper. Write a love note to your spouse. Write song lyrics fort a friend or hand write a card to that person you constantly find yourself emailing. Let your words speak. Let His message shine through you.

Your book is just beginning. Start living it one page at a time!

 

Rainy Days

As I marvel at Your wondrous tears,

My feet lay soaked in Your puddles,

Precious water, poured from heaven, oh so very near,

This rain comforts me in my deserted troubles.

 

Just like a child, I leap and kiss the cloudy sky above,

My feet land in a shallow puddle, peace fills the air,

In this day only, my shadow does not cover me like a dove,

For the sun is not needed, this rain shows God’s true care.

 

Though my heart will cherish the sunsets I have seen,

It will always be in the rain that I clearly see God’s face,

Tears of happiness and grace, flow directly down to me,

Oh how I love these cloudy days, that I may sing in Your heavenly grace!

Periscope Video of the Week (follow me @BethanyBoring):

Can’t see the video? Click HERE to view on the web!

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Want to grab Bethany’s new book: “UnMasked: The Journey from Surviving to Thriving”? You are invited to order a signed copy right here!

You can order the “Final” copy and the “Limited Edition” special copy HERE.

 

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Remember Your Maker

As a life coach, I believe God has placed a God-sized dream deep within the fabric of our DNA. This dream flows so easily from His creativity built right within us! Yet, so many do life, comfortable with routine and completely miss what could be.

I’m glad I risked my comfort to follow my dreams of sharing through written word, spoken word and helping others uncover a thriving life through coaching. My uncomfortable moments filled with uncertainty leave me humbly yet confidently by His side. I know to Whom I belong. I can step out into my unknown knowing fully He has destined me for these moments. I may rise or I may fall, but He defines my worth. At the end of the day, I feel complete because I made use of how He wired my personality, gifts, values and passions. I feel completely alive.

One of my dreams has always been to write a book. My first manuscript is currently going through the group review phase and is due out in the Fall. I’ve often been asked, “Bethany, how did you know writing was part of your dream?” Ever since I was little, I loved writing. Essay projects were actually fun for me to complete, not a miserable journey through endless math problems. In fact, I began to write poetry during my senior high years that I saved. Not just a small collection, but well over 150 poems stretching from high school through post-college. I would have my journal open, writing my thoughts to God one minute and then a poem would just start flowing! My heart would pump faster, my palm would sweat as I tried to move my pencil faster. After completed, I would read the words back and just be in awe knowing completely this was something God did, in my handwriting, so effortlessly on my part. Some poems became notes of encouragements to others. Some never left that collection of poems. Others became songs that I would sing to my campers late at night as they curled tightly into their sleeping bags. My girls loved listening to these words and as I worked at this Christian camp all summer, many campers fell asleep listening to these created melodies.

A few months ago, I connected with a past camper of mine through Facebook. She asked me if I ever recorded “The Boat Song.” I knew exactly what she was talking about, but informed her that I just didn’t think I could record the melody with my voice. The chat went silent. A few awkward moments later, she typed back, “But that song kept me going when I needed God the most. Could you record it for me?”

I sat there stunned. Was she kidding or being serious. I waited. Swallowed hard and responded, “I can send you the words if you want.” 

Her response gripped me hard. “But Mrs. Bethany, I remember the words! I miss your voice singing them!” 

Honestly, I thought she wasn’t thinking quite straight. This camper and I had crossed paths back in 2002, over 13 years ago! Seriously? She still knew the words from a song that guided her to sleep from her one week at a church summer camp? She heard these words louder than all of the other songs that filled the airways? Why? How? 

So, I did the next best empathetic move in this humble situation. I quizzed her.Okay, what are some of the words you remember?

All my eyes could see were those annoying Facrbook message bubbles for the longest 5 minutes ever! I sat in my recliner thinking, “She didn’t remember. Now she is scrambling for the right words, pushing the backspace and then trying again.” I prepared myself for a gentle let down. I could handle it. Maybe?  

And then she replied.

Not just with a few words, but most of the entire song, word for word!

My jaw dropped. Literally. My hands froze. All I could think was, “Oh no, she seriously thinks this song is good and I created it just from my time with God. No. I can’t record it!”

I sat for a few minutes desperately trying to think of a way out of this. I was overcome with emotion. Proud. Scared. Happy. Sad. Excited. Terrified. I need peanut butter. Now.

I ended the conversation telling her I would work on it. Truth being, honestly, I have shared several poems that friends have begged me to record into a song…and they are still waiting. I have been too scared to take action until now.

Who out there has the resources needed to make a few dreams become a reality? Who knows how to take words and make it into a melody with music? I’m officially ready to see where this adventure leads…and completely terrified too. But I am a dreamer who is tired of being comfortable just staying where I am in life.

How about you? What is a big dream of yours? What makes moving towards this dream uncomfortable for you? What if you didn’t try? Would anything change? 


And now, the song I hereby dedicate to my campers, wherever they may be today.


Remember Your Maker My Friend 

 

As a lonely child stands beside a river bank,

His pockets empty and a piece of wood in hand,

He begins to carve a boat, hoping it would not sink,

A piece of love made upon his willing demand.

 

He sang – This is my pride and joy,

My love makes you much more than a toy, 

You have a purpose, you were made by my hand,

Please remember your maker my friend.

 

As the boat meets the water, the boy’s hands touch the sky,

The piece of wood now floats calmly away,

The boy shouts, “Come back, you are my prize,”

And he hopes the boat will return to him someday.

 

He sang – You are my pride and joy,

My love makes you much more than a toy, 

You have a purpose, you were made by my hand,

Please remember your maker my friend.

 

As the boy walks down the sidewalk a few years down the road,

A small boat in a store window catches his eye,

His masterpiece now for sale, costing much more than he ever owed,

Paying all that he had – holding his boat by his side,

He said, “I made you and bought you, that makes you twice mine!”

 

He sang – This is my pride and joy,

My love makes you much more than a toy, 

You have a purpose, you were made by my hand,

I made you and bought you,

Please remember I love you my friend.

 

God crafted you and placed you in this time,

Though this worldly river may drift you away from Him,

He has already bought you back – costing Him His life,

Please remember your Maker my friend.

 

God sings to you – you are  My pride and joy,

My love makes you life a gift to enjoy,

You have a purpose, you were made by My hand,

Please remember your Maker my friend.

 

Oh please – remember I love you My child, remember your Maker my friend.

 

Coming Home

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There is a part of our family’s weekday that has hit the jackpot for me in hidden treasure moments. 

As the clock ticks closer to the 2pm hour, my husband and I debate who will get the “opportunity” to “enjoy” the car-loop and pick-up our older boys from school. Somedays one of us may appear eager to risk our sanity and make the voyage. Most days, however, I take the journey where many moms travel. My husband works a late night shift for most of the week, so he heads off to work moments after our boys make it home. Somedays, I just want him home to see their faces as they explode through the front door. I know as he looks into their eyes he is gently reminded that what he is doing matters. It is important. He is needed and our family would not function without his strong-willed work ethic. And…I don’t enjoy a half-awake husband behind the wheel of our crowded minivan, steering through an obstacle course of clueless minions, lunch boxes, lost pets and quick-escaping teachers. 

No. Seriously not going there. 

Did I mention that our kids are at two completely different schools?

Two completely different pick-up routines. 

Two different times. 

Two different schedules. 

One mom. 

One crazily exploding brain. 

(Yes, you do the math.)

Some afternoons are flawless. God smiles down at me as I mysteriously hit every single green light. My wonderfully behaved children greet me with anticipation as they start spilling details about a successful day. 

But that’s not exactly the case on most days. No. 

Our normal scenario has me waiting at every single light because my van seems to reach the intersection just moments before that shade of reb burns a daunting evil laugh that radiates my patience-chord. Of course there is a traffic camera. As I find my parking spot at school number one, I learn he had a horrible day because “Frosty the snowman is gone now.” Of course he is. Christmas is done and over with. Decorations have been packed away. But no, the moment he noticed his beloved plush friend gone from his classroom shelf at precisely 8am that morning, his day melted quicker than Frosty ever could.

And continued to melt as we tracked to the van.

And as we tried to buckle his seat belt..

I even heard mild, gentle sobs coming from the backseat as we pulled away from the scene of the snowman crime. 

Yes, This was serious. 

Three red lights later we are at the next school in bumper to bumper carpool chaos. The dad in front of me did not read the carpool manual because his vehicle is clearly out of place. The lady behind me can’t get off her cell phone. The white truck beside me is daring to rear-end the side of my van, inching for a slight advantage to the cluttered minion of children. 

And Frosty is still gone.

The van door flings open because the safety patrols have finally figured out our van is the only vehicle that requires a PE workout to open correctly…no easy automatic door openers here! My child – thank goodness they brought me the right child this time – appears dismayed. 

“Mom you are kinda late today” he says. 

“I love you” I respond. It’s our code for mommy has had a crazy past few moments, so let it go or prepare to deal with your nightmare. 

(Don’t judge me – you’ve been here too.)

Silence.

As the radio station grows a bit staticy at a – you guessed it – red light, all of the sudden an announcer breaks the silence with an important message: “Our prices are thumpity thumping all the way down too…goodbye Frosty!”

Laughter from one child. Complete distress from the other. 

Four more red lights and our tires reach the driveway. All eyes focus on the big front window that stretches across the horizon of our living room. In unison we breathe in together. Yes, thank God we made it. 

 

We made it through another unpredictable, adventurous day out in the world and we are home.

But we are all so tired now. 

We need to be seen, heard, held and loved. 

Though life may be messy, we know it’s always safe to come home. 

[tweetthis]Though life may be messy, we know it’s always safe to come home. [/tweetthis]

We know someone is always waiting. 

For my older boys, their youngest brother is usually always there, peering out the big window, waiting eagerly for their arrival. What a welcoming expectation my boys have for one another!  

Frosty might be gone. Mommy might be late. But no matter what happens out there, we can always come home and smile. (And we do.)

I know you may pull up your driveway, look at the cracks shining through the mask of your front door and count your miracle blessings that the walls of your house don’t talk. You may not feel safe to come home. You may not even want to keep coming home. It seems too hard. You feel too alone. You feel like there is never a “safe place” to run to in your life. 

Oh, but there is. 

Even if it is not at your physical home right now (because I’ve seen God change unsafe places and make them completely new, grace-covered Promised Lands) you can always keep running Home to His rest. I feel the same explosive welcoming each moment I intentionally spend time with God. No matter what occurs in my life, I know, trust and rely on the mere Truth that I can always run to Him and feel completely safe… each and every time. No matter what. 

It’s ok to smile.

It’s ok to breathe in deeply. 

It’s ok to just rest. 

It’s ok to be known past the smiles, past the tears and past the unrest. 

It’s ok to be loved completely, unconditionally for who you are. Because, you are His child and you are always home with Abba.

Anyone waiting for you to return home today? 

 

There is still time to submit your writing into the launch of “Shoulder To Shoulder” encouragement guest posts starting in February. Click here to learn how you can join in! 

Within

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Last year I started a new tradition. I had a Bible passage that had spoken into my life, leaving me chewing over His Words throughout my day. It was so deep, so impactful that I made it my life passage for 2014.

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For those who have followed my blog, even for a short time, you most likely have come across this passage in my writing (this post for instance). As I allowed His Word to flow through me this year, I realized this became my prayer asking Him to become the foundation in my life. I even chose the word “Rooted” to be my word for my year back in January of 2014.

And how true this word came to be.

Over the last month, I struggled to decide if I would find another verse and word for 2015. So many passages and praises came to mind, but none struck the chord in my heart as my 2014 Words did.

Now, I had read the entire book of Ephesians numerous times this past year. I literally listened to chapter 3 every week as I made my morning run. Yet, somehow I missed the verse just prior to my passage and just after it. Somehow, my mind and my heart failed to catch the prelude until just a few short days ago…just in time for the New Year to take shape.

You know, Gods timing of course.

The prelude – I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬ NLT)

And the Conclusion – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭3‬:‭20‬ NLT)

The day I read this all too familiar, memorized chapter, I was asking God to simply be WITH me. I needed His peace, His strength and His comfort. I needed Him holding me and for me to confidently stand with Him.

You can guess what I heard for the first time as I heard each word.

[tweetthis]Abba is MORE than just with us – He is WITHIN us. [/tweetthis]

“Bethany from My glorious unlimited resources, I will empower you with inner strength through My Spirit…I am able through My mighty power at work within you Bethany, to accomplish infinitely more than you might ask or think.” (Based on Ephesians 3:16 and 20)

In the darkness of my early morning, I sat there realizing I had missed such a huge portion of this amazing Promise. It was if I settled for the cake without the icing or the car without the wheels. I saw the amazing power He promised in my 2014 passage but never connected where He places His Homebase to fully make my life count. He chooses us. He chooses to live, stretch, grow, empower and work WITHIN us!

You are never alone, He is WITHIN you.

You are never too far, He is WITHIN you.

You are never without hope, He is WITHIN you.

When you are at your weakest, He will shine WITHIN you.

When you seem strong to others, it’s never on your own – it’s Him working WITHIN you.

It looks like I will be spending another year trying to fully digest this reality of a life truly defined by His living and active presence WITHIN me. What does that look like? What does that feel like?

Here’s to a great start for 2015!

 

A New Christmas Tradition

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This is our year for new, intentional Christmas traditions.

Traditions are the ways our kids identify what is most important to our family. What are your traditions teaching your kids? 

[tweetthis]Traditions are the ways our kids identify what is most important to our family. #Traditions [/tweetthis]

Granted, we have our moments that require pictures and some planning. We must make Christmas cookies, together. This requires finding the rolling pin, preparing the table, making sure the vaccum and mop are in working order and pray hard that my patience will indeed remain in check! Oh…and most likely I won’t be eating any of these cookies. It’s nothing personal, really. It’s just that I know where my kids hands have been. Soap and water can only do so much. Sometimes, you just have to play it safe during the holidays…right moms? That’s also the reason these said Christmas cookies never make it into gifts for the neighbors or my kids teachers. Yes, you are welcome.

But this tradition taught my kids that mom breathes really deeply when we bake cookies and for some reason the floor never looks the same again. This is not the main tradition I want my kids defining our family by this Christmas. Please, no. 

[tweetthis]What are your traditions teaching your kids? What’s MOST important in your family? #Christmas[/tweetthis]

But this year is different. We were moving into this house last year. The year before that I was pregnant (moody), working and my husband was in full-time nursing school. The year before that we had 2 amazing young boys and I was so sick, I couldn’t even begin planning much at all (I wrote about this expecting the unexpected last week). So, you see, we finally have time to be a bit more intentional this year – thank You God!

I’ll be sharing one of our new traditions each week, as well as updating you on how they are going. We all know sometimes, intentional or not, our ideas flop. It’s better to learn from the mistakes of others than to take this trip yourself, right?

Introducing Gabe – the elf on the shelf with a really big twist. Now regardless on where you stand on this pesky little guy, please read our twist.

We started this tradition last year. We were living in a temporary place until we could move into our house (mainly waiting for the paperwork to go through). Being that the place was not ours, we just couldn’t decorate for Christmas. It was so strange going outside and seeing lights, inflatable snowmen and nativity scenes…and then coming back home to normal. That’s when Gabe visited our kids. He showed-up on our doorstep one night and suddenly our normal became a new Christmas gift.

You see, Gabe is short for Gabriel (taken after the angel Gabriel that visited Mary and the shepherds in the Bible). Gabe is sent to our family with one mission – to make sure we are ready to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. How does he complete this mission you ask? In a very fun and completely unexpected way.

Last year Gabe was a bit tired. He would bring verses back from his flight from the North Pole each night. Sometimes, Gabe wouldn’t move to a different spot the next morning. Sometimes he would move several times in one day. He was young. We were new at all of this. I’ll be truthful, I’m just glad Gabe didn’t get lost in the moving boxes! But the absolute highlight that my kids still talk about from last year was Gabe’s final days with us before Christmas. Each morning he would leave parts of a manger scene with the boys.

First came the barn…

then the animals…

then the shepherds…

then the wisemen…

then Joseph and Mary.

But on Christmas, Gabe completed the scene by leaving baby Jesus.

But now we move to this year.

Gabe has introduced our kids to the “Our Family Can” filled with activities we can do as a family each day leading up to Christmas. I made this jar at my moms group. It’s incredibly easy to make! Just write an advent verse on one side of the pop-sickle stick and a question or an activity to plan on the other. I numbered mine to keep everything in order. On Fridays we are having family Christmas movie nights! Last night our oldest read the pop-sickle stick that asked everyone what their favorite Christmas activity is to do as a family. We discussed and planned to do each activity together on various calendar dates. Yes, Gabe is so cool, isn’t he?

This morning, Gabe really outdid himself. He flew back in and got caught on the boys bathroom hook. But that’s okay, he left a message from Santa on the counter. See the images below.

My plan is to have the boys add to the blanket slowly and purposefully. On Christmas morning, we have a baby boy doll ready to be wrapped up in their blanket under the tree. We will see how this goes!

I’m learning through Gabe’s visits that my kids crave learning more about this baby Jesus and His story. Over the past few days my oldest continues to ask me questions like:

Why did they put Jesus in a cow dish?

Why didn’t the angel tell more people?

Was baby Jesus cold?

Why did Jesus love us that much?

As a mom, these questions melt my heart and choke me up a bit too. Gabe played a role by allowing him to start thinking along these lines, as well as our Jesse tree (I’ll be covering that next week!).

So, I’d love to know – what intentional traditions are you or have you done as a family? 

This Christmas: When Believing Seems Impossible

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This Christmas meets your heart with dread, insecurity and brokenness. The twinkling lights bring you back to a place you can no longer go. The star at the top of the Christmas tree seems like it is pointing to nowhere. Hope, you feel right now is gone.

Christmas is not the easiest time of the year for many of my friends. Some just stand idle as this season begins after a sudden loss of a dear loved one. Others have family they simply cannot touch due to the incredible, separating distance. Some of my friends have lost their financial security this year. I have three dear friends that are fighting for their very lives.

How do you approach Christmas when believing in miracles simply seems impossible?

Can you put your shaking hand in mine as we meet at the manger?

[tweetthis]How do you approach Christmas when believing in miracles simply seems impossible? [/tweetthis]

After Mary learned about her new calling in life, she immediately rushed to perhaps the only person she thought would understand the message she had been given. She ran to Elizabeth who was miraculously pregnant herself. Even if you have read these words before, stick with me. There is Truth packed in here that will change the way you look at Christmas:

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” (Luke 1:42-45 NLT)

Did you catch that last phrase? According to  this passage…

Mary was not blessed because she was chosen by God. (God can choose us, but we must be willing to follow.)

Mary was not blessed because she prayed more or had more of the Scriptures memorized. (Knowledge is not faith.)

Mary was not blessed because she carried the Son of God for 9 months. (But no doubt this experience changed her life.)

No. God blessed Mary because of her willingness to simply trust and obey.

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.

Elizabeth had every right saying these heart hesitating words because her husband failed to believe God would give them a son at their old age. He failed to believe in miracles. He had given up hope. The thought that God still wanted to bless him with a son was no longer a dream tucked deep in his heart. Instead, it was a source of deep sorrow and pain.

But Mary believed the Lord would do what He said.

As Joseph planned to divorce her quietly…Mary believed the Lord would do what He said.

As she rode the camel across rough terrain well into her pregnancy…Mary believed the Lord would do what He said.

As she looked into the darkness of the stable that holy night…Mary believed the Lord would do what He said. 

As she swaddled the newborn King and placed Him where animals had just eaten…Mary believed the Lord would do what He said. 

Can you just imagine the emotions ripping through this mamma’s heart that night as she looked around at the cattle hooves and sheep-filled stable? How is this our Messiah? Why would God choose this entrance? What have I signed-up for?

Yet Mary trusted.

From the buckets of hay in the stable, to the buckets of water at a wedding feast, to the buckets of blood at the cross, Mary believed the Lord would do what He said.

Do you?

I know we say we do, but your thoughts, your emotions and your actions share your faith much louder than your words ever will.

Sometimes, you need a friend to grab your shaking hand and allow you time to kneel at the manger. Here, you can look into His eyes and reclaim His promises. Here at the manger you can look into the eyes of a mother that believed in miracles. Look into the eyes of a mother that simply could not give up on the promise God gave to her.

And you know what?

That same Abba has given you so many abounding promises too, available for you to claim, own and find rest for your aching heart this Christmas. Even in the midst of shattered dreams, broken relationships and a feeding trough for God’s Son, we can believe that the Lord will do what He said.

He has done it before. He is doing it again.

[tweetthis]From the stable to the cross, Mary believed the Lord would do what He said. Do you? [/tweetthis]

Friends, put your name in these passages today:

Whom have you in heaven, Bethany, but Me? You desire Me more than anything on earth. Bethany, your health may fail, and your spirit may grow weak, but I will remain the strength of your heart; I am yours forever. (Psalms 73:25, 26 NLT)

Bethany, can anything ever separate you from My love? Does it mean I no longer love you if you have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is yours through Me, I love you. (Romans 8:35, 37 NLT)

 

When believing in the miracles that surround Christmas seems impossible, simply kneel at the manger, look into Mary’s eyes and remember, YOU can believe the Lord will do what He says.

 

Expecting The Unexpected

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My husband and I will be celebrating our 6th Christmas…with kids. As much as we may attempt planning out our month of activities, the unexpected must be expected. Something will go wrong and most definitely right at the moment that mommy desperately needs events go oh just right. 

That’s why I’ve embraced the idea of simply expecting the unexpected. Because, God is right in the center of the unexpected. The unplanned. The uncertain. 

A few years ago, Christmas fell on a Sunday. I was incredibly weak due to the intense chemo treatment. My legs shook violently with each step I dared to take. The floor was cold. I was cold. This was the only Christmas to date that I had not planned for and simply allowed events and needs to fall where they did. 

Something incredible happened when I let go of my control over my family’s Christmas. You see, Christmas still came. 

The tree was beautifully decorated by daddy and the boys. In front of the tree sat gifts, most purchased from family and friends. Each gift had a name that belonged to one of our boys. Here I sat and watched as all of us eagerly awaited the revealing of the gift contents. Although I had no energy, my eyes widened as my boys jumped around with excitement. Play dough. A small, handheld motorcycle. Thomas The Train. A red wagon brought over just days earlier from a friend. 

As we sat moments later in the debris of wrapping paper, it felt so incredibly humbling seeing Christmas occur moment by moment without any effort done by me.

I wasn’t ready, but Christmas came anyway. 

I had nothing to offer, but Christmas could care less.

Yet, after church and eating with a few friends, I was sure glad Christmas found me in this completely humbling place. 

A place where all I could do is expect the unexpected. When you cannot prepare, you lose the ability to really expect anything. You simply live in the moment, breathing in the presence of God with each conversation, with each tear of wrapping paper, with each smile and with the gleam of every Christmas light. 

Since that Christmas, I’ve never been able to plan every moment out again. Yes, we have our traditions (which I’ll be sharing about this month!) but there is a great need to allow God to completely takeover our attempt at His Son’s birthday. For most of the world missed the King’s coming, because they were not expecting the unexpected. They were looking for a king, born in a holy place…a palace but not a stable. God speaks through our unplanned and humbled moments dear friends. I challenge you to take time right now to quiet your heart and really take a closer look at your Christmas calendar. 

Leave room for the unexpected and expect God to humble you this Christmas

[tweetthis]Leave room for the unexpected and expect God to humble you this Christmas. [/tweetthis]

Keep Playing

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Have you ever caught yourself comparing your success against those around you? As if we have the golden measuring stick to judge our hard work against the faulty outside appearances of others. No, put your measuring devices away friends..,I never took to learning angles anyway. 

Can we add a bit of interaction today? 

Start by watching this video:

Now, I am a mom of three boys. As I look-on to this scene, I can’t not shed at least one tear. You see, I want my kids to grow-up experiencing that moment with their Abba. I want them to lean close to His chest, play their tinkering song He placed in their hearts and together make a glorious sound. I want them to actively see, touch and experience His overwhelming presence when they offer their song to Him. 

So many times, I think we believe that we give our gifts, talents and abilities to Hod and He just runs with them. No. Our Abba isn’t a take and run kinda God. He uses our song to grow closer to us in a way we have never experienced before. He is the voice we hear over our notes that says, “That’s it! Keep playing!” With Him, together, our tinkers become His masterpiece. 

When I watch this video, I think about the little boy with his 5 loves of bread and 2 fish in John 6. Do you really think it was shocking to Jesus that a boy offered his lunch? No, He knew that this boy’s small, tinkering offering would unite a crescendo of a miracle. Jesus used an average boy with a typical lunch. Jesus told Him to keep playing, and He did. 

I need to keep playing the little tinkers of my song too. Even in the times I get all wrapped-up in this comparison trap with the success of others I know I need Him more. For you see, in order to keep playing I need His promise-

Bethany, come close to Me and I will come close to you. (James 4:8a)

When we draw near to Him, we renew our focus and our source of strength. The closer I get to Him, the more I simply can’t leave Him while playing this song. He makes my song worth playing. Just to be near Him and blend into a life changing melody. He makes every note sing long after the final encore. 

What is the song He has put on your heart? Are you still playing friend? Are you playing with Him? 

May you find rest in the security of your value in the hands of our Abba and may your song never quit playing. 

 

The Song In Your Heart

 Don’t forget about the “Before Amen Prayer Journal” giveaway going on right now! Today is the last day! 

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A girl like me does not play violin. I am fighting vission-loss in both eyes, soaking in a world’s sounds with severe hearing loss and trying to fit-in with a short right arm. Yet, in junior high I found myself practicing violin. I would dread the nightly routine of trying to make logical sense of these awkwardly shaped dots called “music.” Why not just play it for me? Play it, don’t spell it out. As I positioned the body of the violin under my chin, my eyes glared at the strings. My bow would need to glide evenly and quickly over the strings in order for this instrument to sound even half-decent…even for a middle school student. 

I would tighten my right fingers around the bow, bight my lip (literally) and force my shoulder to rise to the challenge of perfection. There were nights I endured pain due to my effort to play this instrument a girl like me had no business playing. I glued rubber around the grip of the bow in order to hold it as best as I could. I literally played the same note, pushing my arm across the furthest string in order to memorize how my painful stretch felt to hit that note. 

Yet, when I played the music I heard in my heart, I smiled. I would sway back and forth. My fingers would dance and a joy would appear in the midst of the pain. I loved making up my own songs. It’s why I played. 

Then things changed a bit. 

 During a weekly practice, I found myself standing back-to-back with my orchestra instructor as my mom was looking on. He preceded to play a few notes on his violin instructing me to remain forward. Unable to see his finger placements, he stopped and gently said, “Ok Bethany, your turn.” 

I am a girl with severe hearing-loss. This to some may seem absurd, but wait…

I immediately played every note back, in correct rhythm and sequence. 

Silence. 

As he played a longer melody, me curiosity grew and my excitement to seize the moment took hold of every attempt I made to breathe. 

He paused. 

I watched as my fingers danced infront of my eyes…almost as if they were moving on their own. 

Nailed it. 

This continued six more times…yes friend, I counted. Even after a brief hiccup finger slip on my last echo, I redeemed myself. 

Truthfully, even today I struggle reading music. The dots and lines don’t compute with the way God wired me. But I can play almost anything by ear. In fact, leave me alone with a piano and I can be content finger plucking melodies for hours. My heart beats faster, my soul turns and my smile is inevitable. 

I’ve since sold my violin. I know, but the drum seemed like my next best choice. Simple patterns I can read and play by ear, – it’s the best of both worlds. I taught myself how to play a drum set, even with my “impairments” as most call them. 

As I look back now, I see God all over this frozen moment in time. Even though so many students around me doubted my abilities, God never did…my instructor never gave-up either. No, the pieces didn’t quite line-up right, but I was wired for this very page turn in my life. God was showing Himself to me and I completely missed it…but I guess we miss many obvious signs during those pre-teen years. 

So today, as I write and speak, I experience this moment in time all over again. I offer up my best attempt to echo His perfect tune and in sync with Him it sounds awesome. He uses our little painful moments of misfit offerings to play a song with us that will remain playing in changed hearts forever. You are making a difference. Keep playing for Him and with Him my precious friend.