Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

Peace Be With You

We are basically half way through the year 2020. How's it going? For most of the people I know, 2020 has presented some huge challenges; it's been stormy, chaotic, unpredictable, isolating, and even scary. I had high hopes for 2020. Each morning as I read and spend time with God, I have a prominent thought "I will exceed your hopes and expectations for 2020!"  And, I'm seeing that this is very true. Through the storm, I have had an overall feeling of peace. It doesn't mean I haven't felt the emotions that come along with the virus, the economy, politics, and the losses related to much of this. I have. There are days that I am thrust right into the middle of it all, the conflict. It is then that I am assured that in the midst of the turmoil, the peace of God rises up. God regulates the storm. He doesn't prevent it, He rides with us through it. He rode through the storm with His disciples countless times, and each time they learned that He had the power to calm their fears.

There are more riots and anarchy happening now than I can remember in my lifetime. There are huge devisive lines between states, and within them. There are a lot of opinions on Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, White privilege, and Masks! Everyone has questions and answers that drive us to a deeper place of civil unrest. Waves of anger, violence, and pain roll over communities and social media. Families are in conflict.

Jesus is still saying "Peace be with you."

I keep telling myself that I will not allow this to steal my peace. Sometimes I feel as if I am in a tug of war between the storm and the promise of peace. I'm in a tug of war between silently sliding by on the edges of the storm, or speaking out knowing it will plunge me even deeper into the turmoil. I'm seeing that peace may not actually be peace until one is able to experience it in the lowest times, the times of conflict and differences. Peace does not come without resistance. 

Jesus stood up in the boat that was being tossed in the storm and resisted it. 

Jesus stormed through the temple and resisted the merchants that did business there. He resisted them.

Jesus faced lies, at the risk of being mocked and hated, and spoke truth.

He was not afraid to jump into the midst of conflict in search of the peace that would grow out of His resistance.

And so, I am seeing that He will absolutely exceed my hopes and expectations for 2020 as I too step into the chaos, fear, unknow, and sometimes isolation. He will not let me go there alone, but will instead envelope me with the peace that comes from truth. The truth that He invites me, and you, to stand up for. 

What is He inviting you into today? Is He challenging you to go against the masses, get to the root of the issue, have a voice? Is it time to resist the lies? I think it is. Only Jesus can tell me what that looks like for my life! How about you?

 

When We Forget

 

 

 

So, put aside every trace of malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander and hateful speech...

1 Peter 2:1

Is anyone out there reeling from all the commotion that is happening in our nation? The malice and the hateful speech towards one another is heartbreaking. The name calling. The line that is being drawn seperating our beliefs and dampening our freedoms. Chaos. 

We are hurting each other. When we forget Who we are, we become who we are NOT.

We don't have to agree with each other, but how are we upholding the foundation of freedom when so many of us insist that the rest of us must see it their way? Should we all start a revolution in an effort to demand recognition? 

"All flesh is like grass" We all wither eventually. 

When did we become a people that lashes out at each others differences? Isn't this in itself going against the need to be known? To be seen and heard?

Why are we defining the value of groups of people by their mistakes?  Or does the opinion that white is privileged define white? Do the words of another define who we are?

When we forget who we are we loose focus on our value. We allow shame, guilt and fear to define our steps. Freedom becomes a mystery. 

I don't know what is going to happen, but I do know that my focus has to shift from the actions of others to the steadfastness of God. I choose to recognize that change is needed in all people, life is precious, valuable, and sometimes confusing. The mindset of my upbringing is my responsibility to sort through, whatever color I am. We all have work to do, improvements to make, lies to distinguish. In the end, we all will wither just like grass. 

My opinion may not line up with yours. Don't define me because of it. I hear so much name calling-ignorant, racist, insensitive, priveleged, oppressed, etc

Some of those names could very well be accurate for some of us because we live in an imperfect world. Every single one of us has room to grow. Every one of us has the ability to ask God to search them and change them. As long as the freedom to express our beliefs and opinions are abused and covered in hate, hypocrisy will rule our hearts.

 

 

 

The Power of Rest

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. "

John Lubbock

So, we celebrated our anniversary in this little cabin, one bedroom with a loft, a tiny kitchen, living room and bathroom. Nothing fancy at all, but very cozy and inviting. The big deck at the back of the house overlooks the ocean, and when the door opens we can easily hear the waves crashing on the sandy beach. It was very restful. Very Quiet. And, oh so lovely.  It wasn't just the cozy cabin, the lush greenery, and the amazing beach; it was the time my husband and I had together. We've been to this area many times with our family and sometimes alone, so we have memories and places that are significant to both of us. We've been able to dream here. We rose early every morning, I'm talking 5am, and walked the beach while the tide was out. We walked for miles as our dog freely ran the empty beach looking for his own kind of treasure. Each walk gave me another reason to get one more rock or shell to add to my years of collecting. 

Each night we fell in bed before it was completely dark outside, and laughed at how old we are getting. Early to bed, early to rise.....There was so much beauty in everything we did, and didn't do. It was restful. 

While driving home I thought about the power of rest. It restores and rejuvenates areas of our life that we may not recognize as needing to be restored. Rest gives us breath; it gives us time to see ourselves, God, and each other.  

This is why living in the rest of Jesus is so valuable. He gives us the ability to breathe through every situation, His rest is a place of surrender, hope, life, joy, and restoration.  His rest is confirmation that we can come to Him as we are, and live there in great confidence. We can be in His presence and be assured that He will revitalize the parts of us that need it.

Being in a place of rest is learning to be in relationship. I like that. The weekend with my husband was like that, inviting, comfortable, deep. I'm learning more and more that when I feel at rest deep within my soul because of Jesus, I am at rest with others. It doesn't mean I will always agree, or be liked, but there is an attitude of rest that supercedes everything else. When that happens I can be who God has made me to be, and be with those I love to be with.

So simple, yet not so simple!

"There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither."

Alan Cohen

 

Years Later....

Thirty eight years ago I married this man. He was in a white tux with black socks, long hair, skinny, and an unshaven face. He stood at the front of the church chewing on his lip with a silly smile on his face as I walked down the aisle.  He was standing up for his love for me, even against the advice of his parents.

 The scent of irises and roses wafted throughout the church. I wore a beautiful dress that showed my shoulders ( somewhat frowned upon by the local church people), and walked down the aisle to the tune of my friend playing her flute. The ceremony had favorite songs like "You Decorated my life" by Kenny Rogers and "Annie's Song" by John Denver. After we vowed our love to each other and he kissed the bride, we marched out of the church with the Wedding Song in the background. It was a traditionally wedding with many untraditional twists along the way.

When it was all said and done we whisked ourselves away in an old '65 Mustang, and 168.00 dollars in our pockets. Hopes and dreams swirled in both our heads, with little thought to troubles.

And now, here we are. Thirty eight years later. Five incredible children, three beautiful daughter in-laws, and seven grandchildren.  Our love has been steady through many lows, and many highs. Always together, but not always in agreement.  We have grown from two very immature kids, to mature adults in Jesus.  We left the church we were both raised in with the determination to raise our children with a truth based solely on God's Word. We've moved several times, endured financial calamity, walked through health issues, and cried over losses. We traveled, loved our children, enjoyed several dogs, a  couple rabbits, a goat, and a ferret or two.

Now, here we are. Still in love, even more. We are getting ready to go on a mini anniversary trip to one of my favorite places.  I'm excited to spend some time with just the two of us. After a couple of days out two youngest children will join us, and to me, that is a great celebration. Thirty eight is something to celebrate, and I look forward to many more.  There are days that are pretty hum-drum, but the picture as a whole has been far from that. This man has loved me with all his heart. He has walked beside me with a loyalty unlike anything I have every seen. He has defended me, supported me, and been my friend. He has been there through every spiritual discovery and question, he has grown in his heart and spirit for Jesus. He is an amazing father.

This is what I celebrate, and love.

I'm so glad I did not give up on love. The reward has been amazing.

 

 

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