Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

When The Unexpected Happens

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent my childhood searching for my absent father. I was not successful in finding him, he had moved to another state, and there was just no way I had the means to contact him. God, on the other had knew where he was the entire time, and knew the aching pain and emptiness that was so deep within my heart because of this.  I desperately wanted to know about my father!  I, at least wanted to see him, or hear his voice, or at least decide for myself who he was.

I was engaged to be married at a very young age, 19 years old.  And, about one week before the wedding, my mother and I drove to my grandmothers house to pay her a visit.  Upon arriving, my grandmother was very hesitant to open her door, and her behaivor was so strange.  She did finally let us in, she had company. There was a man visiting.  He sat quietly in the lazyboy while we all talked to each other.  Both my mother and grandmother seemed uncomfortable, but the conversation went on about the wedding plans and life. Then, the man suddenly announced that he was going out and would be back later.  As soon as he went out the door my mother told me that he was my father.

I raced out of the house and intercepted my fathers path, preventing him from getting in his car. He couldn't look at me. I simply asked him if there was anything at all that he would like to say.  He said no. In my young mind I believed I knew that he was a frightened man, and I did not need to search any longer.

God showed me a man that was running from himself, not from me. And, in time, I was able to get to know the man that ran. Even though he left a legacy of pain and negativity in many lives, he also taught me a lot.  He taught me that it's not okay to run away from your children, or yourself.

Even when you don't expect them!

He taught me that loyalty to the people we love is of great value. I could not count on my father, not ever.  But, I want the people in my life to count on me, and I want to count on others.  This is who God is, and who He wants us to be.

 He taught me that love is present. I never heard my father tell me that he loved me. NEVER. 

And, he taught me that unexpected things happen all the time.  I'm not going to know what to do some of those times, but God always knows, He's always prepared. God has my back. God knew the moment I was conceived that my father would run. God also knew that I would discover my identity comes from my heavenly Father not my runner father!  

When the unexpected happens, keep going.

When the Past Comes Knocking

Everybody has a past, some like to talk about it, others don't. Some remember their past better than others.  For some of us, that past is a happy one, for the most part, parents that loved us, siblings that stood up for us, a home that felt safe and secure.  For others, it wasn't that way at all, we lived in homes with emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. We had parents that may have been addicted to drugs or alcohol. Our parents may have been divorced once, or many times. We may have experienced many losses of loved ones, and suffered through the pain of death and many sorrows at a very young age. We could have been seperated from our parents, our siblings, our homes.

I spent a good share of my childhood searching for my father. He and my mother married and divorced in a short period of time.  I never really knew him. But, I was determined to find him.  I was given opportunity to know his mother, my grandmother, and his sister, my aunt.  And, I would ask them all the time of his whereabouts.  But, to no avail, they would not tell me.  I searched phone books, I begged God, I schemed of ways to figure out where he could be, and then one day I found his son.

I was 16. I drove to the shop where his son worked and told him who I was. I asked if he knew where his father was. He did, but was not willing to tell me either. The search continued for years and I did finally find him.  I did get to know him a little  before he died, and it was healing to my heart.

Now, years later, that brother I confronted has contacted me, along with a sister. Stories of who my dad was has began to pour out of the past into the present, and the effects of how he impacted many lives is becoming very evident. Unfortunatley, his legacy was one of negativity rather than light and positivity. This grieves my heart for not just him, but for all the ones that were so deeply wounded by this man, the man I searched for so desperatly for so many years.

I thought that if I found this man I would know who I was. I would have an identity and a clear understanding of who I truly was meant to be in this world. I was so wrong.  I thought it would make my hard, broken life easier, and give me a way of escape.  In reality, God was shielding me from more pain. He was protecting me, and keeping me from having an even more painful past. I just couldn't see it at the time.

When the past comes knocking, thank God for the light He is showing you. Thank God for the truth He is revealing to you about that past, and the beautiful path He chose for you instead.  I'm going to do that today.  Let it be to me, Dear God, as it is according to Your Word!

Thanksgiving

As a child we celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house. My favorite part of the day was eating the rolls my grandma made. Everybody loved her rolls, they were the best. I remember watching her make them, and then carefully guarding them as they would rise, then smelling the aroma as they baked in the oven. It was delightful.  When my three older boys were little, I would make my grandma's rolls every Thanksgiving, and they too loved  them. But, now as Thanksgiving has become a little busier for us, I haven't made grandma's rolls.  Still, I love Thanksgiving, and I love having friends and family to celebrate the day.

I am so thankful for today! God blessed me with the gift of family and friends in my home and each one of them filled our home with love and laughter. I am so thankful for the life I've been given and the opportunities to celebrate with others.  I love the traditions that we have carried down from one family to another, and the meaning it holds to each one of us.  I love how my children come home and eat with us. 

I'm thankful for today and for the days ahead.  May blessings flow over your life today and gratitude fill your hearts with hope as you thank God for life and each day He brings to you.

The Little Light

I've heard it described as the dark night of the soul, and for me, that's exactly how it felt. It started in the car one day. I was minding my own business when I was bombarded with a loud thought that my brother was in trouble, a lot of trouble. The thought was repetitive and would not let up. I had spent enough time in prayer that I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. He was not just telling me that my brother was in trouble, but he was prompting me to go to him.  My brother lived 2000 miles away.  I quickly drove to my husband and told him my thoughts and that I believed it was the Spirit prompting me to drive 2000 miles to visit my brother, he agreed, and the next day my son and I were on our way.

Indeed, my brother was in a lot of trouble.  Eventhough I was prepared for what he was going to tell me, I was not prepared for the spiral it would send me into, the very dark night of the soul. My brother had always been my hero, the one person I looked up to the most growing up, the person I always believed I could go to for strength.  Now, it felt like I was the only one left standing, my family of origin had fallen apart in every way, and God was sending me down a spiral that was dark and scary because of it.  My grief over my brothers choices and the way they impacted everyone around him ripped my heart apart. 

I went to my church desperately needing someone to talk to, only finding that there was push back and lack of compassion. The spiral continued, and my crisis worsened. My relationship with my brother became very strained. My relationships within my church family became problematic and painful. I continually clung to the very small glimmer of light as I cried out to God for truth and revelation.

This place of deep questioning, deep sorrows, pain and angst hung on to me for several years. Day after day my heart pled for relief, yet it felt like God did not hear me. It felt like the people in my life did not hear me. The spiral and the depth of it all was endless.  The small light was getting smaller and smaller, through the rejections, the loss, the financial crisis, the physical pain,  family, etc....and then, God began to broaden the light so I could see. 

The anger and bitterness were gone.  Through that spiraling darkness I had learned to forgive.  The fear of loss had dissapated, for I had learned to surrender.  The ability to accept who I really was had surfaced in my heart, and through that true friends had been made.  Reconcilation had become a practice, as well as faith and daily time with Jesus.  The value of legacy was recognized and put into my life as a priority. Boundaries were set in place to guard my heart and my family. Laughter lifted my spirt and hope danced with Jesus daily.

This is how the little light transformed me; it never went out.

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