Who writes this stuff?

My photo
I try to keep my priorities in order: Jesus, my Andy, our children, everything else. I homeschool our boys, love to read almost all written words and have been challenged by the military life for 18 years. Right now my faulty human body is demanding a lot of attention. One day at a time, learning as much as possible every day and remembering to look for JOY when other things threaten to overwhelm.

My Blog Title Verse

"For the Lord gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6 NKJV
The Message translation puts it this way "God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding."


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Choices, every moment

 I finished reading Pollyanna today. I started it before surgery and didn’t have time to finish and it has hung heavy on my heart, that need to finish it. I have read it before, as well as seen the old Disney film multiple times, but I knew that I NEEDED to finish the book again. 
 I am so very glad that I listened to that prompting of the Spirit. 
 Once again, as I did weeks ago, I want to suggest to everyone, please, read that book. 
 Please, take a few moments to be reminded to find Joy, to seek the good when sometimes the bad is easier to see, to let go of the ugly and hang on to the beautiful, BY CHOICE. 

 Here is a simple truth. I want to be her. I want to consciously, daily, on purpose, be Pollyanna. Because Pollyanna is making the choice to find the good and the beautiful and the positive around her and to BY CHOICE place the ugly in the hands of her Savior. And she is making the world better as she does it. 

The game...played by choice, every day in every situation. 
An idea introduced by her missionary father, who had already buried his wife and other children, reminding them to seek the good and to find the positive. 



 I have been informed by my older teen that in parts of modern culture to be “a Pollyanna“ is considered a negative and to be called a Pollyanna is considered a slight. That made me cry, again. To know that we live in a world that considers it wrong to seek the good. However, I spent some time mulling that over and I realized that someone who has no Joy would have a hard time appreciating someone else’s. Someone who has not shared Joy would perhaps feel bad about someone who shares it without caution. Someone who only sees the bad would be frightened by the ability to seek the good. 

 I cried, again, in a moment of sorrow for those who are so lacking in Joy that the Joy of someone else frightens them. 

 Then I was reminded that sharing with those who do not understand is the whole point.

 The whole point.  

 


“The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart — not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-7‬ ‭CSB‬‬

 So, please, join me in Joy. Sow generously and BE a Pollyanna with me. Choose the hope, share the good, pour out the joy overflowing to others and making the world better. Stop and find something to celebrate. It will not make the bad magically disappear. It will not make the negative cease to happen. I am sorry to say that the world has bad and it will continue. Like Pollyanna, there will be moments when the Joy is hard to find and you and I forget for a moment how to see it. But don’t let those moments win! 
 
 Be blessed my amazing wonderful friends as you choose Joy in as many moments as possible. Keep getting up and doing it again! 


Sunday, September 06, 2020

Progress

 One moment at a time. 

 That is how you heal. 

 More importantly, that is how you live... one moment at a time. We want to plan more, see more, experience more -  But the simple truth is that we live one moment at a time. Having them drill a hole in your skull and burn a portion of your brain resets things a little and reminds you to appreciate that simple truth. 



 My body is struggling a little still. The swelling is problematic at moments. Some seizures are still occurring with the pressure on strange new places. My diabetes is having some confusion in the middle of it all. My brain in general is having some confusion some moments. 

But I will say here the same thing I said on the day of surgery- I am so very confident in what I believe. I am very comfortable that who I am, a follower of Jesus who wants to share His love and live His truth, has not changed. 

 That my friends is enough for me. 

 The brain swelling goes down every day. The part they zapped is being reabsorbed and the rest of my brain is adjusting and figuring out the new patterns. 

 While it figures it out I make the choice, moment by moment, for Joy. 

 Join me! Be blessed my friends, one joy filled step at a time. 


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Choosing Joy

 I am moving very slowly and have had several seizures today so remain tired and confused, but the swelling on my brain is not drastic so I am going home! 

 

I am a swollen mess, but nothing is too horrible. 

 I still appreciate your prayers! 

 Keep your joy my friends. Hold onto it with both hands! 

 Be blessed!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Brain surgery :)

 I am ready. 



 It is pouring down rain and pitch dark out, but I am ready. 

 We were here 20 min early, of course. I am married to a military man. We are never late. 20 min early is almost late :) 

Check in is at 5. I officially start at 7. Andy will send out some text messages and several people will post things to FB, if you care for an update. 

I am ready. Pollyanna has returned! 

 Be blessed my friends. Celebrate every moment. Make that choice! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Simple truth

 So, the simple truth is, I need you my friends. 

 I am trying to be tough. I am trying to be brave. But I need more prayers, please. 

 To sum myself up...I spoke to my mom this morning who quoted her dad at me- “Bethany, that is stinkin’ thinkin’.” 

 I am dwelling on failure. What if this surgery doesn’t work? What if I still have seizures? What if, what if, what if....

 Just a few days ago I was dwelling on failure of the past, and the things I have not accomplished. I have cried about a LOT in the last week and tortured the males of this household immensely. 

 Now, now we are in the final countdown and I need you my friends. 

 Tomorrow is pre-op, the COVID test, last chat with the surgeon. The day that everything got cancelled last time. I might be more stressed about that than the surgery itself. 

 Friday is surgery. 

 Today, after first devouring the Word of God and being reminded of this beautiful verse in Jeremiah, I decided I needed to spend some more time focused on the positive. So I am reading Pollyanna. Her focus on joy, on finding the good, is such a beautiful reminder. Her ability to change the world, to share that joy, is my life goal. Her moment of almost giving up, of almost losing sight of the good, well, I might be struggling there with her right now...but she is reminded again, and I know I can find it too. 

 So, please my friends, join me. Seek the joy. Find the good. Be blessed, every moment of the journey. And if you have never read Pollyanna, perhaps take a short break from the craziness of your life and let her joy in the middle of hard times encourage you. 



Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Sorrow, yet...

 I can’t say with confidence when the first time I read Streams in the Desert was. I first wrote about it here, my blog, in 2008 and I don’t think that was my first time reading through. The collection of words that brought hope and comfort, gathered through a time of pain and confusion and later compiled into a book has spoken to me over and over. 

 This time as I read through I have been removing the tiny scraps of post-it notes left from previous journeys and finally christening the paper copy with a highlighter and pen, marking it with color and passion and even some of my own words. 

 It seems appropriate that the reading this morning was a beautiful story summarizing 2 Cor 6:10, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”


 I did a very interesting combination of sobbing and laughing yesterday; sorrow and rejoicing. 

 Habit says that while on the tread climber I watch tv- I use to try to read a book...but it is hard to read, even on an iPad, while walking at a speed decent enough to count as exercise. Yesterday I pulled out a cardboard box we had removed from mom's new place and decided to explore the options given in old VHS and 8MM. I wasn't inclined at the moment to watch my younger sister's dance recitals or stage performances. Andy's graduation from basic training? No, thank you anyway. Canaan's ultrasound was tempting, but that wouldn't have been long enough to exercise to. Then, I found our wedding rehearsal. 

 That was worth watching. 

 Emilee, a few weeks shy of 20, was already practicing her future job as a wedding coordinator, having opinions. Kelsey and Mary Faith, only 15 and 13 made me laugh with their silly antics and faces, and yet also cry, realizing that my children are already older than my youngest siblings were when I got married. Mom was just so beautiful, so excited, so hope filled. Since I am just a few short years away from the age she was then, I love seeing the passion flowing out of her, having that to live up to in my 40's. 

 Two of the women I call my best friends now were not as well known yet then, and I texted both of them, laughing about the things that have changed. 

 Several people who were highly involved and deeply loved have drifted away, not through anything purposeful, just the passage of time and changing locations. I mourned that. 

 Both of the men who performed my wedding are gone. Frank Kaleb died years ago, but seeing that video made me miss him yet again. Mostly though, when Daddy pulled his wedding rehearsal joke and tried to quote the Princess Bride line, well, I simply sobbed. He was horrible at it. Comedy wasn't his strength. Somehow though, that made it funnier, his attempt to be funny. I had to laugh too, even while I sobbed.

 And that circles me back around to "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."

 That is the choice my friends. 
 It is the CHOICE every single moment. 

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalm‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬
 
 Sorrowful, yet ALWAYS rejoicing. 
 Both, at the same time, and accepting of that. We don't have to understand it. It doesn't have to "make sense" logically. 
 But we have to choose to accept it. 
 Laugh and cry. Mourn and dance. 

 I finished the day by finding and watching the video of the wedding itself, after watching the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner,  and silliness of the pre-ceremony. My three men didn't care for the emotions, weren't impressed with the beauty of ceremony, and didn't want to share the passion with me. 


 But they enthusiastically shared their day's events with me, both the good and the bad, and reminded me to live right now. Rejoicing. Sorrow. Right now. 

 Be blessed my friends, making the choice to see the rejoicing available in the sorrow. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

With Thanksgiving

 I commented to Andy this morning that I hadn’t blogged in a while, that I hadn’t felt that I had anything important to say. His reply was that perhaps it didn’t need to be important, simply real. 

 Perhaps simple? 

 So, here is a simple truth. There are lots of prayers: Painful, heavy, fearful, burdensome prayers. I will not make light of them. I will not ask you to pretend that they are not heavy. But...

 With Thanksgiving

 is the part that stands out. 

 Those burdens will always be there.

 I have a choice though where I place my focus. 

 When I start the day with the things I am thankful for, start each prayer with the things I am thankful for, then, again, end each prayer and each day with the things I am thankful for....well, those burdens that I have handed to HIM in the middle are somehow easier. 

 My attitude is my choice. Mine, and mine alone. So, I will start and end with thanksgiving. 

 Join me? 

 Morning after morning. 

 Evening after evening.

 The middle of the day too. 

 Be blessed my friends, with an attitude of thanksgiving, overflowing with reminders of the good. 

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Keep swimming

 Tomorrow came with success.
 We received a rescheduling date. August 28th is the next try for LITT surgery. Exactly four weeks after the cancelled event.

 What I want to talk about for a couple lines though is those first few minutes after the cancellation. I want to be “real” with you. The battle for Joy is hard and I don’t want anyone to think those muscles I spoke about on Thursday don’t get sore some days.

 This has been a rough month, as far as seizures go. I am on a lot of meds again and they are still not working effectively. Seizures are, once again, fairly often.
 I shouldn’t complain. I rarely have Grande Mal’s. I rarely lose bladder control. I rarely throw up. I usually just return to the “real world” in need of a blanket and a nap. We are blessed enough financially that those things are available to me.
 But surgery was a beautiful island of hope. Hope that I could be closer to the “me” that I was before seizures began. Able to drive. Able to go out in public without quite as much preplanning. I will always have diabetes. The insulin pump will always come with me. A snack in case of an emergency low blood sugar. A vial of insulin in case the pump has an error.
 My life will never be “average”... but that island of hope, that seizures could be contained and controlled was almost within reach.
 Then suddenly, Thursday morning, it was yanked out of reach and that morning, when the next date was not yet given, that island seemed farther away then I was capable of seeing, farther away than I was capable of swimming.
 I thought for a few seconds that I might drown before I remembered how to swim.

 So, thank you everyone who was praying for me. Even though your prayers were for my surgery to go well, God reminded me that He hears those prayers and surrounds me with His love in the RIGHT way, in the way that I need to be surrounded.

 I remembered how to swim. I opened my eyes again and could see that island of hope way off in the distance. At that exact moment I still wasn’t sure if I could make it that far, but at least I could see it, and I had remembered how to swim, and that was enough.


 60 hours later life is calmer.
 Obviously, the reminder that it is better for the machine to break before I am in the middle of surgery was a beautiful truth. I had multiple prayer warriors confirm that actual prayer was spoken over me, and I have no doubt that Jesus is guiding the steps that I am taking.
 The next date is scheduled.
 The details of in-laws coming to be with the boys, Andy being off work, and even exact times for COVID test and pre-op appointments are all set, already.

 But I had a seizure today and am tired and discouraged.
 So the prayer given in the Psalms, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck,” was a perfect verse to have as a reminder today. My Savior is faithful to do that- to send the verse I need at the moment I need it without me even looking for it.

 Listen. He is always speaking. You will hear Him if you take the time to be still.

Be blessed my friends. One moment at a time. Just keep swimming.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Joy of the Lord


When I was first reminded of this verse, early this morning, it seemed so very fitting for today’s events- covid testing, final meeting with the surgeon, pre-op appointments. How comforting. 
 Then, today has not gone as I wished, and I have been so very glad of that reminder... my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 
 Right this minute, as we drive away from Birmingham, I don’t actually know when I am going to have my surgery. The MRI that guides the drill as it goes into my brain is not working and the MRI is very needed. So, it is all put on hold “for now”. There will hopefully be more details tomorrow, but I didn’t have any of the pre-op appointments today, so the surgery definitely will not be tomorrow. The best guess given when they called to break my heart this morning was “sometime in the next month.” 
 We had literally just pulled into the parking deck of the hospital, 45 min early for the covid test, when they called. I cried. Andy might have said a curse word. We pulled back out of the deck, drove about five minutes down the road and realized that we needed to stop and be still. So we stopped and prayed, together, and were still, together, and shared pain and hurt and anger, together. 
 And we texted our family- and let me tell you, they are amazing. Both the blood ones and the practically blood ones. The people who I know love me enough to hear what I need them to hear in a moment like that- well, that is what makes family. Andy texted two men. I texted seven women. They all spoke beautiful truth and comfort but I think my Mother-in-law summed it up the best. “Better for it to break now, than while you are in surgery.” 
 That reminder was the truth I needed to hear. God sees the bigger picture. He sees more than I do. And if I am going to say that I trust Him, I better mean it. So, I do. 

 I say “I trust Him” and I mean it. 



That verse in Nehemiah, “The Joy of the Lord is my strength”, is one of my favorites. Strength is built up, one muscle at a time through exercise. You lift more and more through practice. Joy has been the same- practicing joy in hard times, choosing to exercise that muscle has made it stronger and stronger. Today was hard, but I am building that muscle, letting that Joy be my strength! What a beautiful promise! 

 We have no idea what tomorrow brings. Perhaps the machine will be fixed and rescheduling will be easy. Perhaps it will be weeks until I know more. Perhaps I will never have this surgery and living while proclaiming joy as my strength is my focus right now. 
 I have no idea what tomorrow brings...and that is okay. 
 Remember that my friends. 
 Be blessed, one moment at a time, as you face that moment with Joy! 



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Holding on with both hands

“Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭TPT‬‬

 My activities recently have been “boring”. Work in the garden. Do the dishes and laundry. Try to get rid of things and organize the things I can’t let go of. 
 Paint and paint and paint. 


 Our house isn’t that old, but the interior paint is beginning to show it’s age. We have, step by step, room by room, primed and painted almost the whole house in the three years we have lived here. The ceilings are complicated but not horrific. The walls are easy. Corners between doors are probably then hardest part, but we have created beautiful teamwork as a family to accomplish them. Truly, they aren’t that horrible.
 But I DESPISE painting. Or, if you asked me a few weeks ago, that is what I would have told you.
 The OCD part of my personality struggles with the details that cannot be perfect, because perfection does not exist. The eco friendly passion within me struggles with the fear of damaging the earth.
 That photo, of paint rollers lined up neatly next to the primer in the middle of the job, shows some personality traits of multiple people in this home.

Yet, the scripture verse insisted that I pay attention to it.
 “Whatever you do”...

 What about what I am doing next?
 I am suppose to go into brain surgery “working for the Lord”. This next section of my life, that I have very little control of, well, I have control over how I go into it.

 My epilepsy had been problematic this last 4-6 weeks. The extra meds aren’t being enough, again. I had three seizures on Tuesday. I now occasionally have seizures I don’t recognize, and don’t have aura’s to warn me about...but Andy or the boys “discover” me confused and shivering afterwards with no remembrance of what happened. We don’t know how many of those I have had... just how many have been noticed.

 So, as frightening as brain surgery is, it also sounds promising.

 “...For the Lord”.

Or if you prefer...
“She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

 Both wrapping yourself and girding yourself require the strength to already be there, to be provided to you. I am not claiming it as my own, merely reaching out and holding on with both hands.

 I have learned to appreciate painting the house. I have discovered how to enjoy laundry and dishes and daily chores. I am choosing to approach brain surgery with the full passion of hope, doing all things with my attitude focused on Him.

 Join me?
 One week left.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

The story continues...

Remember the new growth springing up from the ashes in the back yard? 

 Look how much it has grown! 
The green growth is still reaching toward the sky with praise filled arms. 
The beautiful red has declared it’s purpose and shown it’s glory. 
(And tasted delicious) 😋 
The story continues. 

Remember the broken branch

It looks sad at first glance. 
The tomatoes near by have been harvested. 
Many leaves have accomplished their purpose, turned brown and volunteered for their time of rest.  
But wait....

That new growth is from it!
New life, new green, new tomatoes- farther away, but still part of the broken branch.
Still part of the healing branch. 
The story continues. 

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Even when the vine has no fruit... 
or so little that it is hard to see.


“Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One!”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭TPT‬‬

There is lots of yuck in the world around us. 
Sickness. Anger. Separation. Hurt. 
Lots of yuck. 

But, there is rejoicing called for in every season. 
It is a choice. 
Find the good. 
Look farther.
There IS still a tomato on the broken branch.
There IS new growth coming from the ashes. 
There is healing happening. 

Keep looking. 
Keep rejoicing, even when the celebration worthy events are harder to see. 

You ARE blessed my friends. Choose to see it. 
The story continues!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

July 31


 I have struggled, a lot, the last few months with my failing body. You would think that 30 years of  “sickness” would make you a pro, but there is always more to learn about letting God lead. About doing more than just survive. Some days you just survive, and that is enough to celebrate, but you want more. You want to be joyful and strong and an example...and some days you are not. 

 Some days you simply survive. 
 I have declared that more than once because it is a truth, and it is allowed, but don’t stop there. Don’t be content there. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah‬ ‭40:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I keep coming back to the word “but” in this verse. There are so many things in life that come and go, change and fluctuate, grow and fade. However, always we can count on that last line. “But the word of our God stands forever.” Perhaps our understanding changes as we age and grow. Perhaps how it applies to our life changes-which verses stand out or call out to us. But The Word remains the same.
 Sometimes it is okay to mourn those faded flowers and that withered grass. It is okay to be confused by the waiting- or the perhaps the opposite- things moving faster than you can understand.
 Just don’t forget to stop and rejoice in that strong, powerful, forever standing Word, leading you.

 That promise leads me to this verse...




“Their proper time.” Luke 1:20

 This verse is actually the angel Gabriel speaking to Zacharias about the birth of John (the Baptist), his son. Zacharias was confused, and overwhelmed, and doubted the words. Oh, how I can relate to him!
 This watermelon seemed to fit perfectly. Last years watermelon “crop” was a total failure. Several reasons, really, but one contributing factor was failure to wait long enough.
 How do you tell when a watermelon is ripe? It is green from the beginning. Different breeds are different sizes, so there is no definitive “proper” size. Supposedly it makes a different sound when you knock on it when it is ripe...
 Basically, when you don’t know what you are doing (like me), you just guess.

 I think that sometimes, that is life. We, our human selves, don’t actually know anything. We have to just sit back and wait. If we aren’t letting someone who actually knows what they are doing lead us, we will have to simply guess.

 So, we are required to just trust.

 My next day of trust is July 31.
 It is called the Neuroblate procedure.
 Obviously, I have to trust some doctors too. And I do. But mostly I trust my Savior. His timing. His will. His plans for my future and the future of my family.

 Oh, how I would love to have your prayers. Brain surgery is never not scary. I refuse to let fear overwhelm, but I can’t make it disappear altogether. Please, lift me up to our Savior.


 Be blessed my friends as you wait, whatever it is you are waiting for. Have faith my friends that the “proper time” will come. Trust that The Word stands forever and that, that my friends, is enough.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Rain conquers dirt

 Today the wind stirred up the dirt in a construction site, the red clay that we call dirt down here in the south, and it created a cloud of dust that made the world around us almost impossible to see. We were on our way to physical therapy (I have a frozen shoulder from a really ugly seizure last fall that I didn’t care for properly) and suddenly the world around us was a blur. The cars around us were covered in fog. The buildings to the side were blurry and far away.
 The dirt was blocking the path.

 Then, the rain followed the wind and the dirt was conquered.

 It reminded me of this devotion I read a few days ago.


 ”(I have) seen a storm in early spring; and all was black, save where the lightening tore the cloud with thundering rent. The winds blew and the rains fell, as though heaven had opened its windows. What devastation there was! Not a spider’s web that was out of doors escaped the storm, which tore up even the strong-branched oak.
 But ere long the lightening had gone by, the thunder was spent and silent, the rain was over, the western wind came up with its sweet breath, the clouds were chased away, and the retreating storm threw a scarf of rainbows over her fair shoulders and resplendent neck, and looked back and smiled, and so withdrew and passed out of sight.
 But for weeks long the fields held up their hands full of ambrosial flowers, and all the summer through the grass was greener, the brooks were fuller, and the trees cast a more umbrageous shade, because the storm passed by - though all the rest of the earth had long ago forgotten the storm, its rainbows and its rain.”
 Theodore Parker

 You see what you choose to see.
 You see what you remember to see.


“In everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

 You choose to see the riches. 

 After multiple schedule changes over the last few days, and insurance not approving it yet, I am going to UAB for a MRI tomorrow. For there to be brain surgery on July 31st, there still needs to be a CAT scheduled within the next two weeks, but at least the MRI was squeezed in!  
 I will ask for your prayers.
 But mostly I will ask you to celebrate with me. I am extravagantly rich.


 Tomorrow is our 19th anniversary. We will have a nice 2.5 hour drive, a peaceful lunch, a few hours apart while I get my scan since COVID19 prevents anyone “extra” from even coming in to the hospital with me, then a joyful, celebratory drive home again.
 I am blessed.
 I am rich.
 I know the flowers will bloom after the storm, but even right now, in the middle of the rain, the dirt has settled and we can see the road again. So I rejoice.

 Be blessed my friends. Pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and choose what you see. Then rejoice because there is ALWAYS something good.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Wait

 I think that what God asks of me, more than anything, is to wait. When I am feeling impatient or unimportant I love to think about Jesus’ first 30 years on earth. He had the power of God, yet He was a simple carpenter. He had the vision of God, yet He lived in a small village and watched people live and die, marry and give birth, create and destroy ... boring, “normal” life. He wasn’t teaching. He wasn’t working miracles. He wasn’t changing the world. He was waiting. He was living the life that I want to live.


 I love the “old” version, the NKJV, but this new version, The Passion Translation, really struck me as well.

“Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭TPT‬‬

 So, when you feel like God isn’t asking anything important of you, remember that Jesus spent 30 years simply waiting. Then He still did everything He was meant to do. He still accomplished everything He meant to accomplish.
 But first He waited.
 I am not saying to sit on your backside and do nothing...just don’t jump into something when God is saying “be still”. Don’t simply repeat the good words around you when He is saying “be quiet”. There are plenty of things to do, right where you are, while you are waiting for the “big thing”.
 Be friendly to the grocery bagger and the cashier. Say “have a nice day” (and mean it) to the person at the bank, the gas station and the day care center. Smile with your eyes, even though your mouth is covered with a protective germ mask and can’t be seen. Give away your money, even if it is only $5, because God can use that. Love your neighbor.
 Love.
 Love.
 Love.
 Be Jesus in his first 30 years.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

A healing branch


 I love my garden. It is a place of refuge, a place of worship, a place of learning, a reminder of hope. It is where I often speak to God, and hear from Him as well. 

A few weeks ago I missed several days of upkeep in a row. Distractions keep me from going out and checking on it and when I finally did things had grown, obviously. 

I trimmed back some growth that was unhealthy. Picked off some sneaky insects. Removed some weeds that were stealing nutrients. Then, I reached into the tomato bed to tuck a branch back inside the support system, back inside the ring of wire built to hold it up and I moved too quickly. I bent it without caution and it snapped. 

I heard it snap and I immediately thought, “well, that’s over”. 
I almost cut it the rest of the way off. 
I almost accepted failure for that branch, 
I almost gave up any hope. 

But.... there were tomatoes already growing on that branch and I wanted to give them a chance to ripen so I left it. 

The tomatoes that I noticed at that moment have already been picked.


More have shown themselves. 

This, this picture is new growth. 
These are new blossoms, new life, growing on that branch.
The branch that snapped, the branch that looks ugly, the branch that seemed without hope...
It has new life. 
Almost three weeks later, it refuses to give up. 


There are so many things in our world that seem broken, that seem without hope. 
Please, don’t give up! 

Give them the support that they need. 
Move with the gentleness that is required and lift them with the strength they deserve. 
Broken branches can be healed, 
New life can spring up! 
Trim back the unhealthy parts. Pick off the pesky insects. Pull out the weeds that are stealing the nutrients. 
But don’t break off the branch. 
Don’t give up. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Beauty from ashes

 This is a picture of the area we jokingly call “the back 40”. Behind the fence, it is the unused, uncultivated, “extra” space. In the distance you can see the extra boards, the unsalvageable pieces from tearing down the fence and extending. 
 We have planted several baby trees, and sprinkled wildflower seeds. We have cleared the land of excess pine trees, but not everything. 
 There has been a compost pile. A burn pile. A trial run at a water line from the “creek” to the garden. (That failed, since the creek is only seasonal)
 But this summer it has given me a beautiful gift. Can you see it? 
I will zoom in a little. 

One more time...

There, springing up voluntarily from the burn pile, is a tomato plant. 

Already blooming and sharing life. 

 Yes, I know, nothing like an oak, but go read that verse again, please. 

Ashes represented so much in the Old Testament. Ashes were for mourning. Ashes were used for payment of sin. Ashes were sad, and dirty and yet.... In that verse in Isaiah they were traded for a crown of beauty. 
This gorgeous tomato plant, springing up from the ashes, is such a gift to me. 
It is a crown of beauty. 
Free. 
Full of festive praise instead of despair. 

I don’t know if you will have a literal tomato, but I know that if you look, if you truly open your eyes and seek, you will find something growing out of ashes. 
Be still. Be quiet. 
Find your beauty growing from the ashes and let it lead you to festive praise. 
Then, stop again and remember that last line. 
“For His own glory”. 
If you are a follower of Jesus, if you are seeking Jehovah, then THAT is your calling. 

Seek the beauty in the ashes. 
Accept that crown.
Be a strong oak, or a plentiful tomato, or a cucumber reaching out, or a rose with both thorns and blossoms. 
HE can use us all. 
But then...
Then, glorify Him. 

Be blessed my friends! Seek the beauty in the ashes and trade what you discover for a crown of beauty. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Freedom

 I posted this to FB two years ago. It has held its truth and I think calls out to be heard again.


 “Complete freedom...follow every command”.

 Those almost seem opposites, when we think in human terms. Freedom, in my head, usually means doing what I want to do, not what someone else commands. And yet, where do we have the most peace, the most joy, the most freedom? When we are following HIS commands. Living what HE would have us live.
 Our own choices tend to leave us confused, overwhelmed and lost.
 The older language of the NKJV says it beautifully- “I will walk at liberty, for I SEEK Your precepts”. (Emphasis added)

 When His direction, His commandments, His teachings are our chosen path, when they are what we SEEK, they don’t feel like burdensome laws. They feel like freedom.

 Self is loud. It screams out to be heard, to be “right”, to be most important.

 Heads up- it is not.
 It is not right, or most important.

 “And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for YOUR truth and YOUR wisdom”. MSG

 What are you seeking?

 Blessings to you my friends, as you seek.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Little hands

I haven’t had much to say the last couple of weeks. After being sick, I remained tired.
 No surprise :) 

Staying home, and safe, and away from germs...the days started to run together and I might have lost my mind, just a little. 
Thankfully, I have really good friends to help bring it back! 

We went fishing, and enjoyed fellowship with other humans while still staying a safe distance apart. 



Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, because I don’t know how this happened, I had a 17 year old son. 

 Things began to open. Canaan went back to work. Andy’s schedule was fuller again. 
My garden took all of my time, both the vegetables and the flowers. 

Then, this last weekend, we had tiny little enthusiastic voices and feet and hands come over and it was beautiful. 
Their love for, and joy inspired by, God’s creation almost matches mine, and that was so much fun for me to spend time with! 
And yes, I am aware that makes me have the maturity level of a 3, 5 and 7 year old.
I don’t mind. 
I am the only one who talks to my plants, so I have even them beat on that one. 


 Squash and zucchini were delicious for dinner and there are more ripe and ready already. I meant to send some home with them, but of course I had a seizure 15 min before they left and my brain wasn’t fully functioning as they loaded the vehicle :( 
Looks like we will be eating them here instead. 

None of them like raw tomatoes (!) but they enjoyed picking them for me. 
The cucumbers weren’t as plentiful yet, but we had enough for the weekend. 
Oh, the simple things. 

 This verse remains one of my theme verses. 
When you choose it, when you make the decision to give thanks wherever you are, whatever is taking your time or attention...well, giving thanks becomes easier and easier. 
When you are giving thanks often, then Philippians 4:4 becomes easier and easier too.

So, several weeks later, here is the same reminder as always. 
Choose to be thankful. 
Choose to celebrate.
Choose JOY. 
Be blessed my friends, and give blessings to others as you go. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Little dots of color

First things first. 
No coronavirus detected!

Yesterday I had reached the end of my rope. 
I truly was weak. I was only strong because of my Savior. Plain old Bethany Ruth was plain old weak. Waiting for those results is painful. 
It was so unlikely that I had it. I hadn’t been exposed. I have stayed home. Andy has washed carefully every time he has gone anywhere. We have been so safe. 
But, fear is sneaky and I am human. 
So I was afraid. 

I was having a meltdown and went outside to look for happiness and saw these weeds. 
And somehow, they made me happy. 
The picture is horrible. 
The flowers are just random wildflowers, springing up in the middle of the back yard. 
 But they are a different color, unafraid to stand out. 
They are small and temporary and unpretentious. 
They are delicate, yet strong. They are tiny, yet somehow still notable.
They made me happy. 
I want to be as brave as them. 
I want to be unafraid to stand out.
I want to not care if I am small or temporary and I truly hope I am always unpretentious. 
I want to spring up where I am planted and make someone happy. 

This morning when I woke up still raspy and horrible sounding I think Zion was disappointed. He wanted it to be a miracle- when the results came back negative then I would suddenly be well. 
That isn’t how life works. There is still sickness. 
Or perhaps just really bad allergies, hitting immediately after being sick, hitting immediately after starting a new seizure med that makes me exhausted anyway. 
I am talented that way. :) 
Sometimes there are no big miracles, just little ones, enough to keep you taking one step at a time.

I am rambling. The point I am trying to make here is to celebrate the little dots of color. 
Even when the rest of the world thinks they are weeds. 
Celebrate the things that are unafraid to be beautiful. 
Then, be one of those things. 

Thank you for your prayers my friends. 
I need them! 
Be blessed. Be beautiful. Be YOU! 

Monday, May 04, 2020

I am strong!


This is unusual for a woman to ask, but I want you to really look at that picture. My hair is crazy, no surprise. It is growing back nicely, after the January shaving, but it has no pattern and obeys no orders. I took this shot spur of the moment to show a friend the curls that are trying to return. I truly have very little vanity, in things like that, so there is no make up and no planning. But I want you to look at the lines around my eyes. I am tired. You can see it. I am weak. Physically and emotionally and probably spiritually too. 
 And yet....

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/2co.12.9-10.niv

 When I am weak, then I am strong.

 Not “after I have learned a lesson”, then I am strong.

 Not “after my Savior has finished making me perfect” then I am strong.

 When I am weak.

 In the middle of it.

 When I am sick. When I am tired. When I am afraid. When I am angry.

 WHEN.

 Because I have my Savior, Jesus Christ. Because I have that amazing best friend as part of my daily life, helping me face the challenges.

 So, I am choosing to delight in my weaknesses. It is hard some days. I don’t like being weak. I want to be super woman instead. But, WHEN I, Bethany Ruth, am weak, THEN I, Bethany Ruth with Jesus as a helper, am strong.

 We are waiting right now. The results of “the swab” should be back tomorrow. I am probably just fighting a yucky cold. But a diabetic, epileptic, who had brain surgery a few months ago gets checked when they start coughing. :)
 So, my weaknesses are being especially annoying right now. Help me celebrate my strength in my weakness, please. Say a prayer for me to remember to celebrate those weaknesses.

 Be blessed my friends. Remember that you are strong IN your weakness. Just like me.

Update: No coronavirus detected! Still a cough and ridiculous exhaustion to conquer, but the fever has subsided, so we are starting Zyrtec now and hoping that the leftovers are just really bad timing of allergies. Thanks, everyone, for your prayers!