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.

Love Yourself?

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39

As I’ve been thinking about the theme for this month my brain keeps coming back to the thought of loving yourself.  I have a really hard time with this concept as a Christian.  I know that God loves me and created me (and God don’t make no junk!) but my brain gets scrambled with the worlds’ concept of loving ourselves.

We are bombarded everyday with advertisements about making ourselves better.  If we do this or buy that we’ll be so much better, so much prettier, so much more desirable as a person.  Beauty products, hair products, vitamins, gym equipment, clothes, shoes; the list goes on and on.  Go to this spa, this gym, this hairdresser and they will make you look wonderful.  Maybe we don’t love ourselves if we are constantly trying to fix something or maybe we love ourselves too much because we spend so much time and money, and we’re worth it?  Then there are the self-esteem and self-image problems and I, truly, don’t even want to go there. There are so many self-help books, just pick a problem and then pick up a book to fix it.

What does loving myself look like?  I look at myself and I see a corrupt, sinful being.  How can I love that?  I know that Jesus loves me and that he died for me.  I was created for a purpose.  That makes me think that, perhaps, I might be worth saving.  Jesus certainly thinks so.

Then I’m to take this new found love for myself and turn it on my neighbor.  Oh boy.  What a task!!  Although, I think that sometimes it’s easier to love our neighbor then it is to love ourselves.  I have no problem taking care of others; I’ve proved that with my care-giving roles.  I have a tough time taking care of myself and I think that is where my problem is.  I need to stop looking at the world for the answer to my dilemma.

As a child of God I should respect and take care of myself so that I’m ready to do God’s will.  I don’t need to go overboard and try to be a fashion or makeup model.  I have to be me, the person God created.  I know, that’s easier said than done.  But in the future, I will try to love myself more as the Lord loves me.  Then it will be easier to love my neighbor and I’m sure that the quality of that love will be much better.

 

 

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Blessings

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Michele challenged us a while back to blog about a song that really spoke to our hearts.  I know, I’m just now getting around to this, but I do have many songs that speak to me in so many different ways.  But one song stands out from the rest, “Blessings” by Laura Story.

All of us have times when we wonder if God’s left us.  Life takes a nasty turn and we feel that the Lord has turned his back. When I first heard this song I was struggling to trust the Lord in my situation.  My husband was disabled from a brain tumor and his health was getting worse.  I was still supporting my son and his family, which included two autistic sons.  Sometimes the tension around the house would be thick since my husband and son didn’t always get along and other various things that happen when you mesh two families together.  It was during this time that I first heard the song “Blessings”.  The words struck my heart and found a home there.

After I had heard the song several times I looked up Laura Story and found out that her husband had also had a brain tumor and that was the situation that brought this song about.  That had to be a God thing; her husband had a brain tumor, too?

Here is a quote from Laura Story regarding “Blessings”:

The song shows that we still have more questions than answers. But there’s a decision that I find God is asking us to make. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances, or are we going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

Our circumstances have magnified the blessing of marriage. As high school sweethearts, we faced the strong chance that our long-awaited marriage bond might last just two years. Once you’ve rallied through a life-threatening illness together, the rest of it is like a surprise; every day is a new gift that might not have been there. It’s not as big a deal now if he leaves his socks on the floor.

The words of James 1:2–“Consider it a great joy … whenever you experience various trials”–ring especially true and duly influence the joyful, wisdom-loving tone throughout “Blessings.”

Don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a Savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it.

I hope you are as blessed by this song as I continue to be.  Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Chorus:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 

The Case for Christ – Book Review

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I just finished reading the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and I felt I should mention this book to others.  I love reading articles and books that confirm the Bible in history, and Lee Strobel’s book fits that description perfectly.

A movie has been made from this book and I have to tell you that I haven’t seen the movie, yet.  I’m more a book person and will read the book, if available, before I see the movie.  I’m always asked how the movie compared to the book and usually I have to say that there is always more details in the book.

Now, this book is wonderful for anyone who is wanting to include historic facts to their evangelism.  Lee Strobel, who was once an atheist, goes on a quest to prove Jesus didn’t exist.  His wife came home one day and told him she was now a Christian and he had to prove how wrong she was.   Lee, who is a well known investigative reporter, starts interviewing the experts from all over the country, bringing all the questions and doubts that he and others have raised.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions for deliberation or for group study.  Lee gives a full list of citations and a topical index at the end for further study.

The book is in three parts: Examining the Record, Analyzing Jesus and Researching the Resurrection.  In each part is the transcripts of his conversations with each expert.  It’s not what I would call an easy read.  While you are reading you need to pay attention to what is being said.  However, the book flows and pulls you into Lee’s quest up to the part where he makes his own decision to follow Christ.

For any skeptics that are reading this I would encourage you to pick up the book or, at least, see the movie.  For the Christians reading this, I would encourage you to read the book so that you can add some of the references to expand your knowledge of Biblical history.

“Ancient Words” a song by Michael W. Smith kept playing in my head once I got about halfway through this book.  Here are the lyrics and a link to hear the song.

“Ancient Words”
Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope, Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam, Ancient words will guide us home

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith, Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice, Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh let the ancient words impart

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Here is a youtube video of the  song.  I apologize if there are ads; you can’t get away from them these days:

 

A Moment To Breathe – Book Review

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A Moment to Breathe

 

 

During this time of year we all need just a moment to breathe.  I think this devotional book would be good for that reason.  The full title is: A Moment To Breathe; 365 Devotions that Meet You In Your Everyday Mess.  This book is from the (in)courage community.

The days are numbered so you can start anywhere; starts with Day 1 and goes through to Day 365.  Each page is a page of encouragement for everyday living. The stories are true to life and show examples of how we, as women, can live our lives helping and encouraging others.  Each start with a bible verse (indexed in the back of the book) and ends with a thought to take with you during the day or for meditation.

I think it would be a great addition to any woman’s library.

 

http://www.lifeway.com/Product/a-moment-to-breathe-P005796426

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?

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?”