When Does Life Start?

I graduated high school from Chino Valley High School in June of 2009. Since then I have lived at home and I have gone to Yavapai College off and on and I have worked off and on as well.
I keep thinking about “One Day” when I’m living in a city/town that I want to live in, when I’m “working” where and how I want to work, when I’m surrounded by good friends… Oh, life is going to be so great.

Don’t get me wrong- I love love love my parents so much. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be living at home. But they enrich my life and I am grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend with them. So when I’m off thinking about “One Day,” it’s not because I don’t want that “One Day” to be spent separated from them. It’s actually quite the opposite- I hope to be surrounded by my family.

But lately I’ve been thinking about all of this and I have become sick of thinking about “One Day.” What I’ve come to realize is that “One Day” will never exist unless I start now. One day is a nice thought- one that doesn’t involve sacrifice.

To be honest, I am a spoiled human. I live in a rich country, I’ve never had to deal with any REALLY difficult hardships, I’ve always had a roof over my head, I’ve always had food on the table. And so I think I’ve started expecting things to just go my way automatically. That’s how life works, isn’t it?
But when I start thinking about those things- the roof over my head, the food on the table- I can’t separate sacrifice from it. My parents have worked hard- harder than I’ve ever worked- and they have created a place to call home. They have put food on the table.
There have been times when my parents weren’t sure how all that was going to remain possible, but they did everything they could and God provided. We have had groceries delivered to our door with a receipt that rang up to $700- completely unexpected. We have had a vehicle given to us when we were in need of transportation- God has been so faithful, and I have taken that for granted.

What a little child I’ve been! Instead of realizing these things and learning that life functions through sacrifices, I’ve expected others to sacrifice for me! What a brat.

Lately I’ve had this crazy thought that maybe God has me in this certain neighborhood in Chino Valley for a reason. We know my neighbor Roy really well and he comes over all the time just to chat and eat dinner with us occasionally, but other than that, I know very few. I have met a few of them but haven’t done much to get to know them. But I’ve been thinking lately- why not? Maybe God has me here for a reason. Maybe I’m supposed to plant some seeds or do some watering for Him and I haven’t even made myself available to do that! So my idea is small and simple, but I’m excited about it. In our neighborhood we have a little mailbox area where we all go to get our mail each day. So I’ve decided I’m going to start leaving little gifts there for anyone in the neighborhood to take. My first project is going to be handmade seed packets with flower seeds in them. My dad LOVES flowers, so we have stashed away tons of flower seeds from flowers we’ve planted around the house the past few years. So I’m going to make up a bunch of seed packets and leave them there for the neighbors to take. The second project I’ve thought of so far is to make homemade doggy biscuits and package them up to leave at the mailbox for any fellow dog owners to take home to their furry friends.

I know these are big steps, but they are steps, and that’s what matters. Jesus didn’t come with bolts of lightning and crashes of thunder, but he did come with small acts done with great love. And that’s how I plan to go about this neighborhood project.

Also- if any of you have some ideas for me to leave by the mailboxes, I’d sure like to hear them! I am open to any and all ideas! I would actually really appreciate it.

So anyway, all of this to say that life starts now. Life starts when you want it to start. Life starts when you realize that “One Day” is not just going to come to you served on a silver platter. And life starts when you decide to live in the freedom that God has given you- freedom to live a magnificent life wherever God has placed you. Don’t be confined by the thought that you can’t change your neighborhood, your city, or your country for the better. Be free in the truth that God uses the weak, the insignificant, the small, the tired, the shy, and the uncertain. I, for one, definitely fall under several of those categories. I rejoice! For He must have great plans for me!

Advertisements

A Heartfelt Apology

I have a confession. I’m not as good a person as you think I am. I have thoughts that would make you think I’m a different person than you know me to be. When I get really mad and am by myself, I lose my cool. When I dropped and broke my iPod the other week, I used just about every cuss word I know, multiple times. I am like dust on the ground. I should be swept under a rug, hidden from view. But I have a Savior who has redeemed me. I have a Savior who has made me more than dust. I have a Savior who has made me worthy by His blood and by His nail-peirced hands. I AM a child of the one true God. I am a child of the Creator of all that has ever been and ever will be. I have the power of this God living inside of me. He can make me a beautiful master piece. He can take this piece of dust, and by His breath he can make me into something that shines brighter than a flame in a dark room. He has made me a new creation. I am living in a world where I don’t belong- where sin reigns and the evil one has influence. I am living in a world that is corrupted by the power of hell. In a world where the flames of hell can be felt by the bottom of our feet on the earth on which we walk. I can see hell. I see it just about everywhere I go. But because of the grace of God, and the love of a God that consumes every part of me, I don’t have to let hell win. I have power over hell. Not by my own doing, but because Christ lives in me. The power of the RISEN SAVIOR dwells in me! This breath that I so selfishly claim as mine is really not mine at all. God has given me life. He gives me each breath I receive, and it’s my duty to use it to bring His truth into the world. That just hit me last night- each breath I take is a gift! It truly is! And how am I using this gift?? I’m going to be held responsible for how I invest this gift, and it’s a shame how often I use the breath God has given me to waste it on unimportant things, or to straight up use it in a way that takes away from the love and goodness of God.

So this is an apology. This is me saying I’m sorry for not being consistent. I’m sorry for losing it when I get angry. I’m sorry for thinking things that are not God-honoring. I’m sorry that I have spoken and proclaimed one thing, and then I went and did another. I’m sorry for being a hypocrite. I want to be the same in every situation. I want God to be my focus in everything, and I want nothing to do with the old, sinful me. It’s against my nature, as a born-again Christian, to do sinful things. I am a new creation, and I apologize for the times I allowed the old flesh to win out over the new, cleansed creation.

Bless the Lord, O my Soul, worship His holy name. This is my prayer, that my soul would bless the Lord. That my breath would bless the Lord. That my thoughts and attitudes would bless the Lord. My prayer is that I would be the same in front of God and in front of you and when I am alone. My prayer is that I would radiate His love to everyone around me. God has blessed me so much and I didn’t deserve a single part of it. My prayer is that my flesh would not win, but that God living in me would win every time. My prayer is that each day and every moment I would die to myself so that Christ may live and breathe through me.

I can’t stress how abundantly GOOD God is. He’s so good. Thank you for reading this, and I hope each one of you will accept my genuine apology. God is good.

| The Awaken Project | End False Advertisements

So today has been a fantastic day. It hasn’t been out of the ordinary at all, but it’s pretty cool what you notice and appreciate when God is the center of your attention.

My puppies were getting low on food, so my mom asked me to go by PetSmart and pick some up on the way to drop her off at work. So I walked in, and the lady greeted me “Hello, welcome to PetSmart.” And I surprisingly resonded, “HELLoooOOOooo!”
Okay, since sounds don’t come through too well, let me paint you a mental picture. Imagine the best carnival in the whole world. With a sunny sky and a nice cool breeze, happy people everywhere, your favorite dance-in-your-bedroom-with-a-hairbrush-microphone song playing in the background. You’re having the time of your life as you eat the most delicious batch of cotton candy, and you’re worry free as you SKIP by smiling faces. Imagine this scenario- how would your “hello” come out?
Yep. That’s what it sounded like.
And immediately I thought, “Whoa Bethany. What was that?? And where did it COME from?? Maybe you should tune it down a little…”
And as quickly as I thought that, I then thought, “Wait a minute. Why would I want to tune it down? Forget it, I’m gonna be happy!”

So I went on smiling and making small talk to the employees. (Which, might I add, are NOT gentlemen! There I was picking up a huge bag of dog food, and there were 3 employee guys just standing there talking… Hello?! I’m little! This bag is BIG!)
Anywho, I thought about it later on… I have such a huge reason to be filled with joy. Why would I want to hide that? That’s the exact thing this world NEEDS! A Huge Reason to be filled with joy. All I was doing was running some errands, dropping my mom off at work, then heading to work myself. I had no “reason” to be so happy. It was an average day. But an average day with God is so much different than any ol’ average day without God. He gives me reason to be joyful. He is my hope. This life is meant to be so much more, and with Him, that’s exactly what it becomes. The little things matter. Saying a high-pitched-I’m-at-the-best-carnival-in-the-world kind of hello could be exactly what someone needs to hear in that moment.
God created us with the intention that we would be authentic. He is an authentic God. What you see is what you get. He is Who He Is. No ifs/ands or buts about it. He is love. He is forgiving. He is generous.  And when we partake in that love and forgiveness and generosity, the world gets a glimpse of who God is.

The world needs glimpses of the True God.
Too many people have been the recipient of “false advertisement” on God’s behalf.

Dude. If God could sue people for false advertisements….
There’d me a lot of churches “out of business.”
I am not excluding myself in this one either. I’m human- I mess up sometimes.
But really, when churches (and by churches I mean the people that make up the church) say they will love anyone who comes through those doors unconditionally, and then a guy walks in with a baseball cap on and they suggest that if he loved God he wouldn’t wear his hat in church…
that makes me want to cuss so freaking bad.
If you really loved God, you wouldn’t freaking care if people had hats on in church. You wouldn’t care if someone came in with tattoo’s covering his or her body. You wouldn’t care if they just came in to church from snorting crack. You would show them love.
Since when did Jesus die for you, but not for them? Since when did God give you grace, but not them?

I’m sorry, that was a tangent that was unnecessary for this post.
I just want to show people God’s love. I just want us Christians to be Followers of Christ. I want us to follow the ultimate expression of true, authentic love.

And this is not to say you have to be happy go lucky all the time. Life doesn’t work that way. Bad things happen. But you don’t have to be happy in order to love.

Jesus dined with prostitutes. I think it’s okay if a guy wears a baseball cap in “church.”

| The Awaken Project | Bigs and Littles

So this week has been great!
A Big Something has happened, and a lot of Little Somethings have happened.
Okay, so since this project is about enjoying the little things in life, I will first get the Big Something over with.

*BIG SOMETHING *
I finally own a vehicle!! WOOT WOOT! I bought a  ’94 Ford Bronco from my Aunt and Uncle this week, and boy is it a beast! And so pretty! 🙂 Here is a picture for your enjoyment.


and now….. ontoooo… (drum roll please!)…

* THE LITTLE SOMETHINGS*

Well, seeing as it’s 12:30am on Sunday morning and I have to get up in less that 7 hours from now I will only put a couple of the Little Somethings from this week.

I just got back from Lyzzards  Lounge (a bar downtown) because a friend of mine was playing there tonight. I walked in, totally unsure of what to expect, handed my I.D. to the guy, and found a little place I could stand and not be in anybody’s way. haha. Comparing my wardrobe to the other girls in the bar, I’m pretty sure just about anyone could assume I am not familiar with “the bar scene.” While other girls were wearing high heels and low cut tops, there I stood in my moccasin style boots, jeans, and a Michigan sweatshirt. But whatev’s, it’s totally cool.
Anyway, the reason I came was to see my friend and his band play. They were so good. So so talented. But what I couldn’t stop thinking about was how awesome it was to see my friend playing in a bar, knowing how far he’s come the last few years that I’ve known him. It was so cool to see a guy up there, playing guitar in a bar, knowing this is the kind of place he used to go all the time and get drunk, and now he’s been sober for 3 years (I think that’s right) and is discovering more and more each day what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t know how to explain it. It was just so cool. Knowing how different he is now, and seeing him play in the kind of place that had such a hold on him. Seeing how Jesus can make such a difference in someone’s life. So yea, anyway. That was one little something.

The second little something I’ll share is much shorter.
I was sitting in the car with my mom, waiting while dad got sweet tea in McDonalds, and some high schoolers were having a car wash. Well, we’re talking, and all the sudden we hear this huge “EEEHHHHHHHHHH” (that was supposed to be the sound of a very large dump truck honking it’s horn) and this kid holding the car wash sign jumped and covered his head with his arms.
My mom and I found that pretty hysterical.

But… you probably had to be there. Sorry, sometimes I suck at telling good stories.
Actually, most the time I suck at telling good stores.

Okay, I’m really tired and am falling asleep. I will try to do the next Awaken Project post when I have more time and am fully awake. Thanks for reading though. 🙂

Images.

Images.
We all worry, to some degree, what ours looks like.
And I would argue..? We worry about it more than we may like to accept.

This is all my reaction to someone’s facebook status. The status went something like this “Love the taste of a healthy homemade smoothie.”

And I am not, in the LEAST, critiquing this person whatsoever. I’m guilty of it too. I like others to know when I’m making a delicious meal, or a healthy meal, or doing just about anything that shows I want to improve my well being.

But for some reason, that status struck something in me.

First of all, if I really do want to be healthier and have fun making homemade meals, then I need to do it more often to where it’s not some awesome new thing that I’m putting as my status. In other words, I want it to be something I just do naturally.

Secondly, what the DEUCE are we trying to find our identity in?? Caring about our body? Being really awesome and making healthy homemade food? That raises two thoughts.  One- WHEN THE HECK did eating unhealthy and eating out become so normal? So NORMAL, that when we do something other than that, we have to share it with our whole incredibly ridiculous facebook world? Two- Is that reallllly the best we can come up with to create our identity? Someone who eats healthy homemade smoothies?

This world is so out of control. It scares the crap out of me. Just realizing how much I give into the pressures of the world and what the world tells me makes me want to vomit and recreate who I am.

It’s sad that it’s come down to finding our identity in what others think of us. It’s sad that we can’t appreciate the beautiful person God created us to be without feeling like we have to prove to other people that we truly are beautiful. Why can’t we just own it and accept it? And then live out of that, and not live to PROVE that?

I have a hard time with that.

I have a hard time that believing that no matter what I do, no matter what people think of me, and no matter what I do or do not accomplish, God loves me so much that he would send His Son to die for me. Even though I didn’t do one thing to earn it. Even if I did a million things that were rooted in evil. Even if I didn’t accept His love, He would still send His Son to die for me, and He would still love me. Whether I liked it or not. I don’t do ONE SINGLE THING to earn it!! That blows my MIND.

So really, the only image we should be improving on is how others see HIM through US. How can our image be His image?

Screw the healthy meal status updates. Screw youtube and whether or not people comment on your videos. Screw feeling like you have to prove yourself. You don’t. SO LIVE OUT OF THAT. Live out of the fact that no matter what you have done or will ever do, God freaking LOVES the CRAP out of you.

Procrastination: I Blame Dreams.

So I sit on the computer, trying to get motivated to actually do my psychology homework and write my annoying papers. The only thing that’s keeping me on track this semester is my parents: the voice of reason. You don’t want that money to go to waste on classes you didn’t pass… There’s only 2 more weeks left. Just sit down and write the papers. And boy, do they put up with a lot of crap from me. So Mom and Dad, thank you. Even though I HATE when you remind me that I have to pass my classes, or I’ll regret it.

But I think I’ve figured it out.

Every night that I’m on the computer trying to be a good student and do my work, I’m looking up songs. I’m listening to songs I’ve recorded that I’ve put on my iTunes. I’m comparing my voice to other popular voices. I’m dreaming about what I could do. I’m dreaming about recording a professional album and selling it and leading thousands of people in worship. I want to tour with headlining Christian artists. I have this desire deep in my bones, and I’ve always tried to suppress those desires because I always considered it unrealistic.

But what I’m finding, is there are people that actually believe I could do it. They actually think I could write songs and tour and lead people in worship to songs that I write. They actually consider it a real possibility.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m sitting here right now tearing up because of the thought of it. Why would God allow me to have a such a huge desire if I was unable to achieve it? What lies have I believed that told me to limit my God to what the world tells me is possible or impossible?

If God wants me to do it, I believe He’ll open those doors for me. He’ll provide the necessary opportunities to do it.

 

I think it’s about time I start believing that my God could actually move mountains.

 

-B

Rocks, Cacti, and a Deer Hunt

The last two weekends I’ve been on my first deer hunt. I went with my dad each day (he also had a permit) and I spent lots of time hiking down mountains, through ravines, up mountains, and around mountains. And while I was out there I started thinking about God, and life, and living in the moment.

As you’re walking that rugged terrain you have to watch your very next step. You have to look ahead to figure out which will be the best route to your destination, but what’s equally important is that you watch each step. You have to dodge cacti and step over big rocks and go down steep grades. You can’t be looking ahead of you the hold time.

Okay this may be kinda far-fetched for some of you, but that’s okay. I like finding profound messages in simple situations as I go through the day. I honestly look for them. haha 🙂

So I started thinking about how we are to live in the moment- to be present in the moment is probably a better way to put it. That thought made my mind wonder to God and how he guides us, step by step. Just like my dad was walking in front of me making a path for me to follow. Showing me the best route to get to my destination. And isn’t that exactly what God does for us? He goes before us, and he provides the best way to get to the destination we’re trying to reach- the destination he wants us to reach. And while He guides you, you need to be present in the moment, aware of what’s going on around you. You need to be aware of the people around you and look for ways to help them. You need to look for opportunities to allow God to stretch you.

Anyway, I thank God for the little things that can have such a significant meaning. Even if it wasn’t intentional… but I think it was. 🙂

Here are some pics from my hunt. 🙂

My Uncle Gary, Dad, and myself.

Napping on the side of the hill!

Shot gun!

Dad, Mom, and Me 🙂 🙂

Markie got to come along the last day 🙂 I love my brother!

We had several laughing fits…. 🙂

Lunch Break!

I had a blast, and was so glad my mom and brother got to come along with us one of the days. 🙂 I wish Nathan could have come too! 😦

I had a great hunt, and even though I didn’t get a deer, I would do it all over again! Can’t wait til the next hunt 🙂

Constantly Learning

I’ve been learning SO much lately, that sometimes my brain feels overwhelmed! So I am going to list a bunch of different things I’ve been learning, and am hoping that will help my mind slow down a little bit. 🙂

– God LOVES me. Not like He wants the best for me, and He doesn’t want me to fail, but holy crap the God of the universe is absolutely in love with me. And, like Wil said Wednesday night, there’s NOTHING I can do about it.

– Last night we (the band) played a song that I wrote. It was the first time we’ve ever sang one of my songs as a whole. I was blown away. I could tell that the lyrics reaaally hit home with many of the people, and there were many that were TRULY worshiping as we all joined in singing it together. I was overcome with emotions as I realized God, the reason I am living and breathing and have my being, really believes in me. He thinks that I can lead worship. No, I take that back. He KNOWS that I can lead worship, and that I can write songs that bring Him glory. It blew me away last night. I feel so incredibly blessed. I can’t imagine what God has in store for me and I’m so excited to just follow His will, whatever that entails. He believes in me, friends believe in me, mentors believe in me, my family believes in me. It’s just my thoughts and fears that hold me back from bringing my best.

-That brings me to another thing I’ve been learning. I’ve been learning that God truly has conquered sin, and evil, and death. Anything that holds us back from being the best we can be. That includes negative thoughts about ourselves, and negative comments from other people. He overcame fear and insecurity and uncertainties, He overcame any reason we use to excuse ourselves from being the best we can be. He overcame social statuses. You may think “hmm, that’s kinda weird that she would say social statuses.” But it’s true. As I’ve been setting everything up for Screaming Souls, I’ve had to talk to people that society would say I shouldn’t be talking to. I’m just another girl to the world, and I shouldn’t be talking to business owners about using their space for an art show that I, just another random girl, wants to put on. God overcame that. He overcame rude comments and rude looks. And if we will just step out in faith and say “Okay God, you told me to do this, so whatever that means, I’m down” then our community will be transformed. Prescott will be overcome with the presence of God and the clouds will pass away. And the best part? People will NOTICE. and lives will be CHANGED.

– I’ve been learning that prayer really works. I mean, I’ve always KNOWN that it works, but I’m really starting to understand and believe it in my heart.

– I’ve been learning that as you keep stepping a little further out, and a little further out, it becomes a lot easier.

– I’ve been learning that it’s okay not to know exactly what it is God wants you to do. I’ve learned that He will reveal it in His perfect timing.

– I’ve learned that following Christ is really just doing the right thing in every situation. When you see someone by themselves, the right thing to do is to go talk to them. When you see a homeless person, you go ask them if they have food and if they need anything and TALK to them. When you see a city that’s crying out for more, you figure out how to reach them. You create a healthy outlet for their cries. You get to know people. You value people.

-I’ve been learning that it’s a lot easier to think other people are just as good as you, but it’s harder to believe that other people aren’t better than you. But that’s where the whole Jesus overcoming social statuses comes in. He doesn’t work by social status. He loves us all equally and believes in us all equally.

Okay. I’m glad I got all that out. It was making me crazy thinking about it all over and over like it was on repeat!

Yee Haw!

I looooooove me some country music. For reals.

Here are a few songs I’ve been obsessed with lately. [listen to them!]
1. Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right- Billy Currington.
2. Little White Church- Little Big Town.
3. The House That Built Me- Miranda Lambert.
4. Lover, Lover- Jerrod Niemann. (Originally by Sonia Dada)

Put an End to the War

Last night, all night, I was dreaming I was in a war. Like, medal of honor type of combat- running up on people and shooting. ALL night. So, although I love that video game, I didn’t exactly enjoy my dream. So after I half way woke up, I decided it was time to put and end to the war. I got out of bed at 6:45 today and took some pictures of the beautiful morning light. Cause really, it’s stunning.


Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
’cause the pain you’ve been feeling,
can’t compare to the joy that’s coming
….


so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you’ve been feeling,
it’s just the dark before the morning.




This world is so intricate.


I really really love this picture.
There’s just something so “back home” about it.

This picture is to show how different the light can look after like 30 minutes of the sun being up. Compare it to the first picture.

My dad has QUITE the green thumb.


Thank you, God, for beautiful morning light that reflects
off your incredible creation.