“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33
I prefer to live in the bright, shiny places of this world. Days of beautiful sunsets, laughs with friends and endless pumpkin spice lattes. But today, it’s just not possible.
This morning my husband woke me to the news of another horrific tragedy, the Las Vegas shootings. Our nation is trying to process an unbelievably violent act that shook us to our cores. As we grieve deeply, we also question.
Why did God allow this tragedy to happen?
Truth is, I don’t know. As a society we are likely to focus on contributing factors. Was the shooter mentally ill? Were drugs or alcohol involved? Illegally obtained firearms? Each of these are important and must be explored. But the root is much deeper.
We must call it. This is a broken, sin-cursed world. And the act was satanic.
I remember when I was a little girl, my father protected me from a dangerous snake. It hissed and threatened to strike, but with one powerful ax swing he cut off the head. Its body thrashed for what seemed like forever. I ran crying, fearful it would come back to life.
Daddy put his arms around me, explaining it was a violent response to being killed. While it was reacting to its demise, its end was forever determined.
Reminding me of another serpent’s head which was struck the death blow long before by the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
Genesis 3:15 recounts the root of spiritual warfare. God cursed the serpent for introducing sin to his creation. But he had the redemptive plan already in place. Christ the Messiah would come to break through the darkness of sin separating us from God.
We still do battle on this earth. But Jesus, through his shed blood to redeem us from sin, has won the eternal war.
It is why, in the darkest of days, we have hope. Hope revealed through Jesus. Hope which cannot be stolen or destroyed, despite the anger of the evil one and those who do his work.
Make no mistake: the massacre of our fellow Americans was a wicked lashing by satan. Yes, he still flails about violently to cause confusion, doubt, and destruction. But he is defeated. His destiny sealed.
Today there is immeasurable heartbreak and many questions, but we can be at peace knowing God has already answered.
I look forward to the days of no bad news. No sorrow or loss. Days of living in the bright, shiny presence of God. In the warmth and comfort of Heaven. But until our last breaths, we have the work of sharing the healing work of Christ with a world desperate for him.
(This post is updated from a previous one in response to the Sandy Hook school shootings).
Hi, my friends! Hope you have enjoyed a summer filled with sun, fun, and sweet memories. I’ve taken a few months away from writing, but with college football and all things pumpkin right around the corner, I’m ready to settle into (almost) fall and excited to blog again.
So, in the spirit of the obligatory “What I Did This Summer” first day of school writing assignment, I thought I’d write a report, too! The list is in no particular order, but then most of my life is like that so…
We are now these people.
Yep. That’s right. Jim and I are currently remodeling a home two houses down from us. Somehow we went from taking on a kitchen overhaul last winter to accelerating into Chip and Joanna Gaines wannabes in no time flat. Jim’s parents are moving to Pensacola in late fall, so we are tearing out, ripping down, and pulling up stuff and having a blast getting their new home ready. So, if you see me out shopping and I’m covered in paint or dry wall dust, just smile and give me a pass.
There’s this book I’m reading…
Embracing Obscurity was written in 2012 by a well known author who chose to publish without recognition. I’m only through the first few chapters but it’s having a big influence on my thinking ABOUT influence. I have a new perspective on the servanthood of Christ and will forever view Philippians 2 in a new light. It’s the unnoticed, the unrecognized works for Christ that truly reveal my character. It’s shaking and breaking up my world, people.
Surprise! Let’s go to the Keys for the weekend!
Normally I like to be part of the planning (translation: control issues), but I trust my husband. And he totally pulled it off! The best seafood (and those key lime pies!), stunning sunsets, and a gorgeous morning drive from Key Largo to Key West. It was the most relaxing time I’ve had in ages.
I revisited my past….
Twenty years ago this month…well, it was tough. I was in the middle of significant health issues and hospitalizations. But I had no idea of the healing, physically and spiritually, that was coming, and how the Lord was going to use it to move Jim and me to Pensacola. Two weeks ago I walked to this spot in my former neighborhood and looked at my beloved West Virginia hills. It was the perfect place to thank him for years of goodness and restoration.
…and spent time with the future.
Mentoring young women has taken my spiritual life to an unexpected level, but not because I am that awesome. They are. God is using this next generation to teach me much about simplicity, perspective, being on mission 24/7, and what it means to be a follower of Christ in changing times. A fresh vision about future ministry is stirring inside me. I don’t know all the details yet ~ I will just wait on God to put it all together. But I’m excited.
So that pretty much sums up my summer. Thanks again for stopping by Hearts Unfold today. While I may not know your name, I am praying for your growth and encouragement. Looking forward to reconnecting in this journey together for Christ.
Enjoy your day!
A few days ago my husband Jim and I were texting about ordinary day stuff. We needed milk. Who would unlock the fence gate for the lawn service guy. Doctor appointment went well. So-and-so said to say hello.
His next text was about work. Two good things had happened before noon and another unexpected opportunity was coming his way. I sent him a thumbs-up emoji, set the phone down…and started to cry.
But these were happy tears of relief and thankfulness. In that moment I realized, we were having a normal conversation without the fear and worry.
And on the other side of the purifying fire God allowed in our marriage.
The details? Nothing scandalous and no vows broken. But we faced three years of attacks in almost every other area we felt secure. Months of seemingly silence from God about a particular need exhausted us. And ugly emotions, mostly mine, had to be confronted every day.
Through all the battle weary days and pushing back doubts and fears, we fought hard to see God in all of the mess. It wasn’t easy, yet we were determined to keep our marriage strong and protect it at all costs.
And looking back while those days are fresh in my mind, I am a quiet kind of grateful.
For a deeper prayer life. Not one just over meals or for safe travels. But for specifics beyond “bless the day”. And for a husband who started kneeling by my bedside to pray for me before my first cup of coffee. Brave man right there.
For a (more) minimal lifestyle. Fewer material items to clutter and manage. God chose to empty so we could see open spaces with room to dream.
For evening walk talks without iPhones and away from anything plugged in. Those sweet, uninterrupted times taught us much about communication and getting to the root of the daily struggle.
For a life disrupted, jolted out of a comfortable glide. We had it easy. The Lord allowed it to be hard. And now we are softened. Only God.
For what I once took for granted. The list is long. I want my appreciation to be longer.
For the unanswered. We’ve learned to trust the glimpses of God. Anything else would be too much for us to handle. The Lord has a timeline far different than ours and what He chooses to reveal, or not, is up to Him.
I saved this text from Jim. Part of another conversation about what God had taught us and to remind me of His faithfulness through the broken days and building us back stronger.
My husband’s words just struck me as perfect for us.
And this verse is everything.
“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” ~ Psalm 66:10-12
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:13
For the last few weeks I’ve had some anxious thoughts. Personal situations and discussions about the political climate, along with the random worries I can generate all on my own, have really messed with my perspective.
But I’m making a choice. One which I want to take deep root in my heart and mind and transform my thinking.
I want to be defined by hope.
A hope that is more than wishful thinking.
A hope not reliant upon a political candidate or an agenda, which leaves me empty and focused on the things of this earth.
A hope that is more than counting on someone to keep a promise, because sooner or later I am disappointed. Or the disappointer.
A hope bolder than feeble prayers I offer when I honestly just want my way.
A hope stronger than my emotions or circumstances at any given moment.
But to really live IN hope. And for that to happen I have to seek God to shake some things up. Change my desires and habits to live a life defined by trust and purpose will require:
· Shutting out the voices of many to focus on the voice of One. It’s my fault for letting the news, social media, and various opinions define my patterns of thinking. While many I chose to hear are positive, that’s not enough. I need to be in God’s word and in prayer.
· Living as if this world is not my home. Too much energy has been given to things I cannot change. Colossians 3:1-2 states,
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
I am a steward of what God has entrusted me to care for in this world. But I cannot let those things, however noble and right, own me. Otherwise, they become little gods rather than what can give glory to Him.
· Truly worshipping. Not the Sunday check-in. But cultivating a heart turned to God. Every thought and decision should flow from being in his presence. Without it comes confusion and selfishness. I have known that place of worship. And it’s beautiful. It’s time to go back.
Living in hope is not devoid of struggles and hard times and life changing moments of despair. Actually, I expect these times to come. But, good times and bad, I want a life defined by a hope secure.
Secure because of the work of Christ, who continues to work in me and for my good. And for His glory (Colossians 1:27).
(Special thank you to Ali Leonard, who made the beautiful handcrafted “hope” plaque. Check out her and Courtney Tidwell at Our Funky Farmhouse page on Facebook.)
Today’s revised post is one I wrote a few years ago. It’s some humorous memories about my feeble attempts to be a perfect newlywed wife. And I’m not sure even Pinterest and HGTV could have helped me! Hope you enjoy!
Today Jim and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary (insert happy dance and “whoo hoooo” here!). Life has just been crazy this last year, so no big trip or extravagant gifts planned. Just keeping things simple and enjoying just being together sounds like the perfect evening.
Low key and easy. Definitely not what newlywed Beth ever pictured as ideal. Wow, did I have some unreal expectations!
I had in mind what the “perfect” wife should be. Fabulous cook. Spotless house. A master at multi-tasking.
Reality check, please
The one time I fixed meatloaf was the last time I fixed meatloaf. I vaguely remember numerous trips to the bathroom. One of us may or may not have thrown up. Good times.
And then there was the curtain disaster. I proudly hung a new set, complete with the poofy 90s style valance in the middle, just in time for our first dinner party. Then a guest whispered, “I think you have those up backwards.” Awesome.
There was my attempt at making a wreath. I was scarred for life from glue gun burns. I mean, who needs feeling in your left pinky-tip anyway, right?
And let’s just say never have vegetable oil and Murphy’s Oil together on the kitchen counter. Because the brownies you make for your couples Bible study could taste funky. If they don’t combust in the oven first. Or kill you by poisonous fumes.
But I pushed through, determined to be the wife I thought God and Jim wanted me to be. Until the Saturday I ironed a dozen dress shirts. Let me tell you – those babies hung in the closet like starched domestic masterpieces.
I thought so, anyway. Then Jim mentioned I had done all the collars wrong.
(To any guys reading this: Do not try this at home. Trust me.)
He had to be kidding! I had spent my one day off on these shirts, only to hear I had not done them correctly.
I cried. He sighed. Then came the words all wives must be hardwired to say.
“WHY DID YOU EVER MARRY ME? I CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!”
What Jim said next was probably out of sheer desperation to end my meltdown, but I know the Holy Spirit gave him the words I needed to hear.
“Honey, I didn’t marry you just to do things for me. I married you because I want you to do things with me.”
Definitely a lightbulb moment.
“For” had become a legalistic to-do list of unreal expectations. “With” could become a to-do life of real experiences.
I needed to choose which I wanted for our marriage.
Fast forward to 2015. If you come for coffee, five loads of unfolded laundry might be on the couch. The bathroom will likely need deep cleaned (and peek behind the shower curtain at your own risk). Feel free to write you name in the dust. It’s an acceptable form of a guest book.
Those things always get done. But given the choice, I’ll pick being with my husband over an immaculate house.
Because perfect homes and perfect marriages don’t exist.
Memories. Good times and tough times. Happy days and sad days. Together.
That’s what is real. And breathes life into marriage.
Newlyweds (and those still learning) ~ go live life as one. Pray faithfully. Serve the Lord fully. Forgive quickly.
Be passionate. Embrace each day. Laugh a lot. Don’t be afraid to hurt. Take chances.
Together, with God’s help, you can do this marriage thing.
Just be careful with the brownies, okay?
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