Author Archives: Beth Ann

About Beth Ann

I'm into Christian Music and play acoustic guitar, sing on the choir and I am active in our local Via de Cristo movement.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Today is the day that we all sit down with family and eat and eat and eat.  While we’re doing that I have a few things that I’d like all of us to think about.  Part of this month’s theme has gluttony in it.  Gluttony is usually associated with food, but let’s take it to the next level.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have.  Gluttony is the opposite of that.  Webster defines is as “greedy or excessive indulgence”.  So why talk about this on Thanksgiving?  We, as a people, need to learn to be thankful for what we have and be content.  The marketing companies in this country are always about having more, or better.  We find ourselves wanting more.

I’ve been there.  We were pretty poor, on Food Stamps and Assistance.  One year the local church came with a box of food, a turkey with all the trimmings.  Needless to say, I cried, and I felt so humble.  Here I was feeling bitter because we couldn’t afford the whole meal and the Lord stepped in and had these wonderful people bring it to me.  Yes, I was very thankful that year.

But I still wanted more out of life.  I wanted the house, the car, the job…  all the things that this world tells us we must have.  Didn’t matter that we had a roof over our heads, food to eat and a vehicle to drive.  I wanted better.  I won’t go into how the Lord brought me to where I am today, but let’s just say that life has never been easy for me.

Through all these years I’ve learned to be content.  Content with what I have, which is more than what many others have.  I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food to eat and a loving church family.  What more could I want?

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Taking Care of God’s Stuff, pt 2

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Micah 3-10Yesterday I wrote about taking care of God’s stuff in a really simplistic manner.  I even said that I didn’t want to get into a discussion about original sin, free will and the evil in this world.  After I slept on it I thought, why not?  Why not go into the reasons we have so much trouble with this subject?

Our free will got us in trouble from the start.  It’s the Adam and Eve thing.  God wanted us to be with him but to also be free in our decision.  To freely love Him without any problems.  So God created the evil (serpent) and the Tree of Life.  We were to choose Him over the Tree.  But that free will thing got in the way and Adam and Eve got curious…

When I was writing the blog yesterday I could almost hear everyone going “But…”  I agree, this is a really hard thing to do.  We need to take care of everything and everybody.  Do we do that?  No.  And now more challenges have come our way; Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and the evil that happened out in Las Vegas.  These are large things that are happening.  Many people are there, right now, to help.  If I jumped on a plane to go help I don’t think I would have much to offer, but I would if I had the means to do it.

So we give money to the church or to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse to help.  I’m not knocking that, I wouldn’t be able to go to the corners of the earth to help and they do.  Do we give that magical ten percent? Some do and some don’t.  It really doesn’t matter as long as we give.

But then, what about your neighbors? They weren’t effected by flood.  But they have other needs.  We need to be actively looking around at the needs that surround us.  We need to be asking “Lord, what can I do?”.

In the Old Testament God made it a law that ten percent of the first-fruits should be tithed to Him.  I have one of the scriptures up in the meme at the head of this blog.  God wants us to test him.  But I don’t think that he only means our income.  Yes, we can give of our income and support our church, organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, the local christian radio station, the homeless shelter down the street; the list is endless.  We also need to give of ourselves.  Help our neighbors, friends and others through the needy times.  Be there for them.  Give them hope and encouragement.  Pray for them and for all these other organizations that are the hands and feet of Jesus.  Then we need to get up to join them.

 

Taking Care of God’s Stuff

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In the beginningYup, I’m the one that said that. Stewardship is all about taking care of God’s Stuff. Oh, I know that a lot of people get bent about the 10% and the giving to the church. “Does it have to be 10%, and is that from the gross or the net?” I just shake my head… They don’t realize that Stewardship is about much more than giving to the church.

There are those people who give, and give generously, to the church, christian missions and other christian endeavors. I’m not going to put those people down in this blog. However, (here it comes, you think) if those same people think their work in God’s Kingdom is done BECAUSE they give generously then I’d have to say they are wrong. Let me start at the beginning, literally…

If you believe that God created this earth, then it’s all His.  He made it, it belongs to Him.  If you believe that God created humankind, then we’re all His, everyone of us.  There is no getting around this.  Think hard about it for a minute.  Everything on this earth his His.  EVERYTHING!!!  This would include the animals, the trees and the sea.  Everyone of us belong to Him.  We owe every breath we take to our creator.  I don’t want to get into a long discussion about original sin, free will and the evil that walks this earth.  Those are, indeed, complications.  That’s not where this blog is going.  I want you to think simply.  Go back and then come forward in time and you’ll see it.  It’s all His.

We are called upon to take care of God’s stuff.  So when you start thinking about money, that is only the beginning.  We need to take care of ourselves since we were created by God.  We need to take care of others since they were created by God.  We need to take care of nature; the animals, trees, plants.  We need to take care.  Period.  When we have taken care and God has blessed us we can only give Him the glory.  That’s when the giving and the taking care come full circle.  As we are blessed, we give more blessings (and more care) to others.

Learning – About Who We Are

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About eighteen years ago my husband, Joe, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and my world dropped out from under me. At the time, I was working and Joe was going to college to get an Associates Degree. I was supporting the family and that wasn’t unusual since my husband could only get jobs that were low paying. I had already done my school time and had gotten my Associates, so it was his turn now. But Joe never completed school. He never worked again. He did live for another sixteen years and I became the touchstone that held the family together. Our boys were 16 and 20 years old and this greatly impacted their world.

When you become a caregiver, everything that you want is set aside. The world revolves around the one that you are caring for. And that’s the way it should be. But in that shoving aside the wants and needs that you have as a person tends to make a person disappear. Hobbies go away because you don’t have time, in fact, just to take small bits of time for yourself is a logistical nightmare.

I managed to go to counseling during that time and I still continue to go. I didn’t want to lose myself but I could feel parts of me drifting away. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never been through a crisis situation. When it’s all done and over, if you didn’t have a good sense of self to begin with, you find that all you’ve gained is gone. You feel like you live in a shell and the person that was in the shell is gone for good. It’s empty and scary.

Fast forward eighteen years through all the surgeries and medical decisions and hardship and tears. I look back now and see all the changes that I had to make to my life, some good, some bad. Decisions I made, some good, some bad. The life I lived, some of it good, some of it bad. The point is this: It’s done, it’s over. I will probably still make good and bad decisions. Bad things will still happen in my life.

The one constant that I had during this time was my faith, it actually got stronger. I learned to lean on Christ, who always gave me strength to go on. Now I’m learning to live again, who I am. I’m not going to be the same person that I was eighteen years ago, and now that I think more about it, I don’t want to be that person again. I’m a new, improved version. Yes, I’m a bit ragged around the edges and I still have my bouts with depression and sadness. I have a goal now. To be the best me I can be.

Being the music person I am, I have to post a song. This song touches me and the tears start flowing when I hear it. It so strikes my heart because this is what it’s about. Coming out of the shell and being the person God wants us to be. Thank you, Danny Gokey, you’ve really hit the mark on this one. What follows is the lyrics and a link to the song:

“Tell Your Heart To Beat Again” by Danny Gokey

You’re shattered
Like you’ve never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you’re never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It’s alright now
Love’s healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story’s far from over
And your journey’s just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven’s working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

Tell your heart to beat again by Danny Gokey

In Marriage Relationships

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Marriage is like taking that huge step off a cliff and not knowing how it’s all going to end.  But for most marriage starts with two people, deeply in love, that commit to stay with each other until death do us part.  We have stars in our eyes and we know that life is going to be so wonderful.  Then the problems start.

Most marriages today don’t have the commitment factor that they used to.  Yes, I know that people have stayed in miserable conditions just because they married the person they have come to hate.  It takes two to commit together, two to stay together.  Two hearts need to stay as one.  During the wedding God knits two totally separate people and makes them one.

Now, my marriage wasn’t the greatest.  Both my husband and I had problems.  We actually separated for awhile and then came back together.  We learned to live together and we had a good relationship.  Was it the wonderful lifetime that I imagined when we stood at the altar, no.  It was hard work, but we made it through.  My husband has been gone for over two years now and I can look back and see all the good and bad.  One of the good things is that we were committed to keeping the vows, to stay together through it all.  And we did.

This song by Andrew Peterson totally pulled at me from the first time I heard it.  It is so truthful.  We should take the words to heart.  We shouldn’t just walk (or tiptoe) through the minefields in a marriage, we should go dancing through them.  Sail through the storms.  Knowing that Jesus is the Lord of the relationship should cause us to rejoice.  So, let’s go dancing!!

Listening to Music

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Yes, I spend some of my time listening to music.  While I drive to work and back I listen to the local Christian station.  I pick up new songs and sometimes the songs I listen to just uplift me.  I sing along if I’ve learned the words and just have a good ole time.

I have a new favorite:  I Got Saved by Selah.  Selah always has good music and I have several of their CD’s.  They have a Traditional Hymns CD that is wonderful.  Their arrangement of “There is Power in the Blood” is fantastic.  Anyway, I digress.

This song takes me back to my childhood when my Aunt Viola took us to a gospel sing at a local arena or theater.  All this song is missing is the really low bass.  Otherwise, it’s a wonderful song.  I love the line “I’ve Got Jesus, How could I want more?”

 

Remembering Hurting Times

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We all have times when you feel like God has abandoned you, and you pray and pray and you wonder if He’s even listening.  I’ve had plenty of these times in my life.

Usually, I can look back and wonder how I got through such bad times.  At one point in my life I’d lost my job; we lost our home and had to move to a small apartment that my brother-in-law owned.  I had lost my mom several years before and as this was going on, my father died.  A very dark time in my life.  I felt like I’d been abandoned.

But I wasn’t trusting the Lord then.  I started to trust, slowly. Looking back, this was a good thing because life for me got tougher.  I learned to trust Jesus more.  As time went on my faith just got stronger.  My situation never got easier; I was just able to lean on the arms of the Lord and that was a comfort.

We want to make the hurting times go away.  We pray for God to just come in and change everything.  I’ve found out that it doesn’t happen that way.  If you have faith, the one that changes is you.

Of course, I have a song; Even If by MercyMe.  This song speaks volumes about trusting the Lord.

 

 

My Spiritual Past

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We all have them.  Looking back you can see how you’ve grown spiritually.  I guess this will be a remembering of how I’ve grown.

I was raised in the Lutheran Church.  We went to church and Sunday School regularly.  The church was my family’s church and I was surrounded by my Grandparents and great Aunts and Uncles.  But by the time I reached Confirmation age (12-13), my parents stopped going regularly and so did I.  We would be put into the C & E category, you know, Christmas and Easter.

When I was a junior in High School I was asked to come join a group of teenagers that sang.  Now, I loved to sing; I was in the choir at school.  So when Beverly asked if I’d be interested, I jumped at the chance.  Wow, I didn’t have to audition, just show up at a practice (which were held weekly) and start singing.  The group was called The New Life Singers and at the point that I joined there may have been about 15 to 20 of us, lead by a gentleman named “Doc” Mercer.  We sang Christian Musicals that were popular back in those days, “Tell It Like It Is”, “Come Together” and “Celebrate Life”.

The New Life Singers would travel to different churches and sing our musicals or sometimes we would do special music.  One time we learned some Jewish folk songs and, along with our usual Christian music, sang at the Hebrew Home near Washington, DC.  One year we sang at the Festival of Lights on the Mall in Washington DC.  Our group was based in Damascus, MD, but we went on tours during the summers, into Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia.  One year we toured all the way up into Maine and back.  What a wonderful experience.  Something that I specifically remember is what happened when we stopped to eat while on tour.  We tried to stay away from fast food, but couldn’t all the time.  We would all get our meals and then, at a signal from Doc, break out singing the Doxology (in four part harmony) in the middle of the restaurant.  What fun!

Unfortunately, The New Life Singers disbanded when I was in my 20’s.  We all grew up, went to college and started families. At this time in my life, I’m active in Via de Cristo.  I’m still singing, bringing music to these renewal weekends.  It has strengthened my faith to be a part of a larger group that brings the Lord Jesus to others.  My faith was burning bright back when I was younger.  In between, well, not so much.  It was like a small flame, just behind a small shade.  Not bright, but still there.  After I walked on a Via de Cristo weekend, the shade that shielded my “flame” was taken away and it started burning bright once again.

I’m so glad that the Lord has allowed me to be a part of a ministry again.  I really missed being a part of a larger ministry while I was raising my family.  This time, no matter what, I will let the flame burn bright in my life.

 

In Remembrance of Me

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We hear those words on Sunday when we take Communion.  We need to come to the altar with the mindset of remembering that Jesus died on the cross for us.

Being the music person I am, I found a song.  “Remember” by Laura Story is a beautiful song, very simple, but the words are true:

This is the body that was torn for us
This is the blood that was spilt
Points to the pain you endured for us
Points to the shame, the blame, the guilt

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Move our hearts to remember

This is the Lamb who was slain for us
So we the church may enter in
So bitter sweet when we think of You
The One who bore our curse, our sin

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Move our hearts to remember, to remember

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Move our hearts to remember

 

Dancing in the Rain

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dancing in the rain quote

I have this saying up on my living room wall and I was looking at it this morning and thought I’d share a bit.  I used to say “Why Me?” when things happened in my life, but someone came back to me and said “Why not you?”.  I didn’t have an answer to that.

I’ve had a lot of things happen to me.  In fact, I would think that I’ve been in the rain more than most people.  (My counselor agrees!) I’ve been a caregiver almost all my life starting when my father had a heart attack and my brother had a bad car accident and my mom and sister-in-law had to go to work to keep the family afloat.  I came home from school and took care of my niece and nephew, made dinner for everybody and put the kids to bed.  I was 15 at the time.  It goes on throughout my life.  One need after another. My father, my mother, my husband….

I look back at all that I’ve done (and struggled through) and wonder how I even made it through in one piece.  With all the changes in my life, some made within hours, I’ve learned to Dance in the Rain.  Now I know that my Lord Jesus has always been with me and He guided me through all my past changes.  As a result, I’ve grown stronger in my faith and in life in general.