About That Life Unashamed for Christ Thing…

Posted by on 8:12 am in Uncategorized | 1 comment

There are days of common faith. Of spelling tests and safe travels, of thanks for food and the graces of life. There are days of uncertain faith. Of medical tests and job loss, of breakups and breakdowns. And there are days of desperate faith. Of fading dreams and lost control. And of knowing death is a few heartbeats away. As news broke of the twenty-one Coptic Christians in Libya who have been savagely killed by insatiable evil, I thought of the powerful message our pastor, Dr. Ted Traylor, preached on Sunday. He spoke of godly boldness and giving of one’s self in humble service for God and others. Just hours later, his words took new meaning in light of the images I was seeing across my Twitter feed. There, knelt down along a remote beach, is a quiet line of brave believers. Praying their final offerings this side of heaven. Those of whom this world was not worthy. Hebrews 11 before us in orange jumpsuits. In the light of such godly confidence and courage, I realize how easily my words, promises to live boldly for Christ, can just come out (and really without much thought). But are they lived out in the days, weeks, months ahead? Where are these vows when the going is tough? When I want to back down to be liked or non-controversial? Or when my freedom, and perhaps life, is challenged? Can I have the faith, like these modern day martyrs, of the saints who have gone before me? Abel was righteous. Whose life speaks now after death. Enoch was commended as one who pleased God. Noah lived in holy fear through a faith that condemned the world. Abraham obeyed. And went, even though he did not know where he was going. Sarah trusted the promise of the Promiser. Jacob worshipped as he was dying. Moses chose mistreatment along with the people of God rather than pleasure. Considered disgrace for Christ a greater value than treasures of the world. A sojourner, looking ahead for his reward. And others, “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised. Who shut the mouths of lions. Quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword. Whose weakness was turned to strength. Who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” I don’t know, honestly. Making a promise is just the beginning. But this world needs truth speakers, with words empowered not by opinion, but through the Holy Spirit. Who lead not based on political persuasion or the popular wind of culture, but on the eternal word of God. I struggle, yet long to live close to the cross I am called to bear. And, in the end, I want to be remembered as Hebrews 11:16 says: As one who lived so God is not ashamed to be called my God.   (For further study I encourage you to read Hebrews 11 in its entirety.) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~...

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Oh Me of Fragile Faith

Posted by on 7:44 am in Uncategorized | 14 comments

Wow. This blog page sure is dusty. It’s been over six months since I have even logged on to my website. Oh, I drafted several posts, only to delete them. And the few I saved are in a file to maybe finish later. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write. Trust me – I had plenty of material. It’s just I couldn’t find the right words to describe where I have been in life. And it’s a tough process facing weakness. Ugh. I was so excited when I started blogging. Writing has always been a passion, a form of worship, really.  Connecting words to sentences to paragraphs to stories burns inside me. I imagine it’s much like the a singer whose voice calls others to praise, or a pianist through whose fingers the Holy Spirit flows. Or the teacher who opens her mouth and unexpected words which will touch hearts pour out. Those few, sweet moments when God speaks through me are treasured and beyond description. For three years I openly shared what God has been doing in my life. My desire has been for writer and reader to encourage one another as we go through life’s ups and downs. But last year I came up against some big struggles. The details are not important, but I can assure you the evil one sucker punched me several times to the point of exhaustion and despair. And the fear. Fueled by confusion, the final knock out punch left me crumpled on the ground. And not figuratively. Seriously.  On.  The.  Ground. All my words of encouragement dried up. And I started questioning God. Not in the “I’m-walking-away-from-You” kind of way. But in doubt. And in wishing the ways of God were not so. When a friend died and I was uncertain about her eternity, I grieved hard. Other trials soon followed. And when what I believed was put to the test, I wrestled like Jacob to accept what I could not understand. There is one God. I am not Him. His ways are beyond my comprehension. Strangely, this is where comfort and peace has been found. I can trust only in the God I cannot wrap my mind around. But the funny thing about questioning the incomprehensible God? He slowly revealed answers to questions I had not asked. Unveiling Himself in portions small enough for me to take in, yet nourishing enough to feed my starving soul. He’s taught me much on forgiveness and simplicity and judging and stillness. And surrender. Perhaps, as I return to writing, I will share those thoughts in days to come. But perhaps not. I do know, as I feel free to write again, some things will remain between God and me. Not every experience needs to be shared. Not every thought needs to be expressed. We’ll see where He leads. Through these battles, I am coming to terms with the fragility of my faith. Accepting that on this earth I will always be more human than holy. The imperfect being made perfect by the Perfect One. Completely dependent upon Him who loves me, and loves you, bigger than the whole wide world. And in embracing weakness, I am stronger through His power. Thank you, my friends, for coming back to Hearts Unfold with me. I step...

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When Grace Finds You

Posted by on 11:56 am in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Hey there ~ so glad you stopped by today! It’s been a quiet spring on Hearts Unfold. I haven’t blogged much because unexpected life events took priority. It’s been a time of stretched faith and asking the Lord to search me…really search deeply…to grow me beyond my comfort.  And He has. And still is. But it’s good because in frailty and weakness and sin revealed, I have come to depend on God more than ever. Last Sunday, in our young marrieds connection group, we studied an Old Testament passage which foreshadowed the unmerited favor God promised through Jesus. Although I was familiar with the story, I was struck how grace extended has the power to change lives.  Today I want to share what God is teaching me from 2 Samuel 9 (You can read the passage here).    It’s a short chapter in King David’s life. Tucked between passages of his great fame for defeating 18,000 Edomites and his infamous sin with Bathsheba lies a touching story of unexpected grace. Mephibosheth’s life was not easy.  Orphaned when his father Jonathan and grandfather Saul were killed in battle.  Crippled when his nurse dropped him while hurrying to save his life (2 Samuel 4:4). Dependent upon others to carry him everywhere. And, because it was customary for the new king to kill all relatives of the former ruler, what remained of Mephibosheth’s family hid in exile in a barren region. He grew up scared and defenseless, no doubt wondering if each day would be his last. And years later, the day he feared came. Mephibosheth was found and summoned to the palace to meet powerful King David. He had every reason to believe his life was over. But he didn’t know David was unlike other kings. And didn’t know of the promise David had made long ago to “not cut off kindness to the house of Jonathan forever” (1 Samuel 20:15). And didn’t know that, at his darkest, more fearful moment, Mephibosheth was about to receive a gift beyond what he could imagine. The king had sought him out, but not to punish and destroy. It was time to fulfill the vow he made to this young, wounded man’s father.  When Mephibosheth fell on his face and bowed before him, the king offered kindness and grace. And the assurance a restored life was right in front of him (v 7). There were no conditions upon this grace.  No “if you do this, then I will do that” kind of discussion. No stipulations. Acceptance and freedom came with this amazing no-strings-attached promise. And, had David just spared Mephibosheth’s life, that would have been more than enough. Sadly, this crippled man saw himself as a dead dog (v 8), worthless and insignificant and underserving of anything David could give him. The king didn’t stop with just saving his life. He gave him a new life. Instead of living in poverty and shame, he would live in the palace. Instead of living in constant fear, he would always be protected. Instead of being shunned, he was welcomed to the king’s table, just like David’s sons. Mephibosheth was now an adopted child of the king. But I wondered why, at the end of the story, we are reminded again that Mephibosheth “was lame in both feet” (v 13)?...

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What a Glimpse of Jesus Can Do

Posted by on 1:16 pm in Growing and Knowing, Life Lessons, Uncategorized, Worship and Praise | 0 comments

  “Suddenly, their eyes were opened…” ~ Luke 24:31a (Suggested reading: Luke 24:13-34) They took a chance that all he said was true. This man, Jesus the Messiah, sure seemed like the real deal. He changed lives and did amazing miracles and gave people such…hope. And everything he promised came true. Except this last one. He said death would not defeat him. But, it’s been three days now. Waiting and watching. But…nothing. Christ had let them down.
 All this time wasted following him. And for what? Disappointment. Despair. Hurt. They all have a way of beating you down. Making it okay to settle for less than the best. And never allowing you to believe God could have a beautiful plan for your future. So, the two men begin their journey back home to Emmaus. A safe place, of sorts. Perhaps because it’s easier to manage what you know from your past rather than to live in faith for an unknown future. Suddenly, a stranger appears alongside these men, asking odd questions. Prompting them to share their heartbreak over losing this Jesus. And out of the blue, he reminds them of Scriptures and of their God who always keeps His word. The God who will fulfill purposes in their lives, but perhaps in ways they haven’t considered before. This stranger on the road to Emmaus? He was the resurrected Christ. The very one they grieved but yet did not recognize. It’s this part of the story that captures my attention. How many times I have missed Jesus because He didn’t fit what I expected him to “look” like in a situation. Like these men, I wanted him to rescue me, deliver me from the immediate without thought for how a situation might just be working for a greater plan. Do things the way I would do them. Can’t imagine any other way He could work. From that perspective, I have a limited view of my Lord. The more they walked and talked, the more intrigued they became. Something about this stranger seemed familiar, yet veiled. At the end of the journey, when they thought He might walk away, they begged Him to stay and to come into their home and eat. And, as this stranger blessed the bread and broke it, the men realized who He was. JESUS! They recognized him, then he was gone as quickly as he came. But in that one quick instance, they knew JESUS WAS ALIVE! He had risen as He said He would! The Living Hope had pursued them, calling them back to a life filled with purpose. They could not run fast enough back to Jerusalem and into their future of promise and newness of life. And all it took was just a glimpse. Perhaps you are on an Emmaus Road today. Walking away from broken dreams or disappointments or have simply lost faith. And you are wondering where is Jesus on this long, dusty road of your life? Look closely. He’s there. Right by your side. Perhaps unrecognizable. But present. Who is walking every step of the way with you. Always. Because that is the purpose of this Resurrection Day. New hope. New faith. New LIFE. It’s yours. And He can’t wait for you to run back to him.      ...

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The Day Between Hurt and Hope

Posted by on 3:16 pm in Uncategorized | 3 comments

Darkness fell, creation shook, and the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. Only days before there was great rejoicing and celebration for Jesus (Mark 11:1-11). Now, his followers were left with indescribable weeping and grief. The One who healed the sick, calmed the seas, and told many…so many…they would have new life through him, was gone. Publicly mocked. Painfully crucified.  The One they believed to be Messiah was dead. Now it is Saturday. The violence, the chaos of the previous day was replaced with quiet.  And in the silence of mourning, no doubt there were questions in desperate search of answers. Of doubt… If he were really Christ, why didn’t he save himself? Of fear… How will we go on without him? Of anger… We believed him! He said he would never leave or forsake us. Not unlike our own hearts when heartbreak and confusion enter our peaceful existence. One day we can be worshipful, waving our palms of blessing and shouting Hosannna. Then comes a phone call or message.  When we lose a loved one. Or a doctor’s words change our life plan. Or our spouse leaves. Or an evil attack leaves us exhausted and ready to give up. These are our Saturdays. The time between dreams.  When we wonder if our lives will ever be whole again. But, like the disciples and others who stayed with Christ until the end, we cling to the one promise remaining. And it’s the most powerful and beautiful vow ever spoken. That Hope would raise from the dead and bringing our hearts back to life with him. And it came! The glorious morning when Christ mightily triumphed over darkness and death. He was risen just as he said.  His promise was kept. And joy returned! We all experience the loneliness and pain of Saturdays. When we are crossing the bridge from raw hurt to realized hope. And maybe it seems like one, long day that just won’t end. But don’t lose faith.  Cry, but not as those who have no hope. Question, but hang on to God’s Word and not feelings.  Keep looking forward and choose to trust. Because each moment brings you closer to his promise. You will smile and laugh again. A new joy will fill your heart. Because Sunday is coming....

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Because We Live In Hope (March)

Posted by on 8:52 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

  Today I am sharing the second installment of the Because series. Meet Debbie Smith and her daughter, Hillary.  They have such a beautiful picture of healing and hope, with lessons learned after losing their husband and father, George, last year.  This mother/daughter feature includes both of their stories. It’s an honest view of what grief can do to us, but most importantly what God will do in and through us to bring glory to Him. I know they would be blessed for their journey to be shared, as their desire is to encourage and reach out to other women struggling with unknowns.  Click here for their story. And prepare to be blessed…and cry in a really good way. Blessings! Beth        ...

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when we are begging for a friend’s soul

Posted by on 4:00 am in Life Lessons, Uncategorized, Worship and Praise | 5 comments

My friend and I gazed at the beautiful full moon lighting up the fall sky. She had come to visit for a few days, and neither of us could sleep. It was a rare moment of quiet between us, too. But my mind was racing and heart was pounding with conviction. “God, is this the moment?” I wanted to share Christ with her but was afraid.  Not that I didn’t know the steps and verses and all the right things to say. But scared that I had blown my chance. Because, the longer a friend is in your life, the more mess ups and hypocritical moments there are.  And she had seen the anger rage through me at the lowest, most painful time of my life. There were other unguarded sins which could prove my Christianity has no appeal.  And, although she would attend worship service with me and listen to Christian music played in my car, there had never been a move on the “tell me more about Christ” needle. All these years. Nothing.  Until that night. I took another long look at the night sky and inhaled a deep breath of cool, night air. Then I heard God as clearly as if He were right beside me. “Look up. I will speak through you.” So, awkwardly trusting words I had never rehearsed or learned in any evangelism program, I motioned to the midnight sky above. “The God who hung that gorgeous moon made messes like us, too. Crazy, isn’t it?  Have you ever thought about why He didn’t stop with just a beautiful creation?” Silence.  Then with tears in her eyes, she shared.  About wounds I never knew she had. Of how she had tried to be good enough to be loved and accepted.  And how she always fell painfully short and disappointed people. And that she had just quit trying.  Because it hurt too much to fail and to be rejected. She was comfortable in the numb. She saw herself as a defect of creation. My heart tightened inside. But then she asked a bold question: “Beth, I have watched you struggle and fight and fall. But your faith is real.  You need God, don’t you? We talked a long time that night. About our personal struggles, and of the struggles of the two gardens. From original sin in Eden to the wrestling prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. Of Jesus, who once He rose from His knees that long night would face more tears and wounds and rejection than all the world combined. Who would die, mocked and bleeding, for His messy creation. Died for these two friends, living on opposite sides of the cross. Two who were loved extravagantly by the One in the middle. She did not receive Christ that night, but made me a promise: “When I am ready, you will be the one I call.” It’s several years later, and my friend is very ill. Yesterday she was given hard news. Fearful hours and unknowns are ahead. And she is in desperate need of a miracle. But the miracle I am boldly begging God for is healing of her soul. That she will realize her beauty and worth to the Creator. To the One who longs to redeem her and give her hope...

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Introducing Because

Posted by on 7:09 pm in Gratitude, Growing and Knowing, Life Lessons, Uncategorized, Woman to Woman | 0 comments

  “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, BECAUSE of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1 Lately I have been reminded of the importance of connections.  That no matter our age, background, career, or stage of life, what women celebrate about or struggle with are much the same. Our stories often intertwine as we comfort, encourage, and pray for one another. And the consistent thread binding us together is Christ ~ our Redeemer whose crazy love compels us to live with purpose. Although we are not defined by a single event or experience or passion, each of us can be used as living proof of the God who relentlessly pursues our hearts.  He wants us to magnify Him and to be a light that shines to point others to eternal hope. So today I introduce Because.  Each month you will meet a woman who will share a short encouragement of what God is teaching her through His word. My prayer is through these voices you will find strength and have some laughs, too. Thank you to Pam Blum, who graciously agreed to write for this month’s theme:  Because We Help One Another.           ...

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The Truth My Facebook Movie Didn’t Show

Posted by on 8:24 pm in Uncategorized | 8 comments

Like many of you, Jim and I thought it would be fun to check out the video Facebook had put together of our virtual lives.  We clicked and watched Christmas seasons, vacations, and special events race past our eyes.  Yes, there were definitely some really great times and memories and laughs. But, seeing the Beth movie brought home something I have been processing quite a while. How easy it is to be caught up in a culture of pseudo perfection. To become competitive about who has the best job, best husband, best vacation.  Best life. I choose to often show the staged moments.  The best angles with awesome lighting. The best version of myself. But, am I brave enough to post a balanced picture of life?  Who I really am without cropping or filters or enhancing. And posts, too. Truth about struggles and when I lose my temper or say unkind words to those I love. An untouched-up, real-life selfie. Now, I am not suggesting we throw our life garbage out for everyone to see.  It’s important to trust the Holy Spirit to discern what others should and should not know. Sometimes it’s a matter of respecting other parties involved and not compromising their integrity or privacy. And some parts of our testimonies and life experiences are best shared one-on-one.  These are areas we should show caution. What I am talking about is living life without a protective façade. Without basing the value of an experience by how many “likes” or Twitter retweets or Instagram comments it generates. Like these posts or tweets I never shared: “I skipped my quiet time with God the last few days.  Honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood and would rather talk with my friends than him.” “Jim and I had the worst date night.  We barely spoke to one another because we had a big fight. I started it and don’t want to say I’m sorry.” “I’m clinically depressed and need a Zoloft as big as my fist.” “I really want you to like me.  I thrive on praise.” Just reading those truths back felt like a punch in the gut. No one likes to admit faults and shortcomings. Weak areas where we risk judgment and criticism and rejection. Sins that plague our lives. It’s really not a comfortable place. I put myself right at the top of this list. But in those events and experiences and responses I reveal my great dependence and need of Jesus.  He rejoices in those beautiful captured moments of life, and sharing thanks for them brings honor to the Creator of life.  But he is most clearly seen in those broken, fragile places.  “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7 Translation:  We are all cracked, leaky pots. But the light of the Holy Spirit who lives in us can be seen most brightly through the fractures, the chipped imperfections. The places that have seen a lot of wear. Not a Photoshop version of what he is often painfully chiseling down.  Not to recreate a comfortable Beth, but a conformed-in-the-image-of-Christ Beth. Let’s keep posting beautiful pictures...

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When I’m Prone to Leave the God I Love

Posted by on 7:03 am in Growing and Knowing, Life Lessons, Uncategorized, Worship and Praise | 3 comments

Each day I go to a job I love, spend time with amazing people, and come home to a wonderful husband. God has met my most simple and my most desperate needs throughout life. My testimony is filled with touch points of his faithfulness, protection, and grace. I want for nothing. But what about my unmet desires?  My fading dreams?  My unknown future? These are the times I am prone to wander. Prone to walk outside the power of the Holy Spirit and experience temporary relief from the wanting. Prone to leave the God I love. At times I am like Eve. Blessed with countless things to enjoy, she was tricked into believing God was holding out on her. Keeping that one good tree to himself. More and more she fixed on what she should not have. The obsession to know lessened her trust. If only she had realized God was protecting her. And that being wise in her own eyes would come with a heavy price. I may not have opened the door to earthly sin. But I can make wrong choices based on what I think I deserve. And once committed, the sin could leave a debris field of hurt for those I love. At times I am like Penninah.  She and good girl Hannah desperately wanted what the other one had. While Hannah cried loudly in the brokenness to God, mean girl “Penny” taunted her rival mercilessly. Envy took over, creating havoc during a season of worship, no less. I may not be intentionally cruel and mocking. But my thoughts can be silently unkind. Or speech just sarcastic enough to make you wonder. All because you innocently have something I don’t. At times I am like Lot’s wife.  Looking back at what used to be. Rewriting my history and making those years which did not belong to God become fond, treasured memories. Rather than running ahead in trust, I turn my thoughts around to places I don’t need to return. I may not have been turned to a pillar of salt. But I can harden to the voice of God. We need to guard our hearts more than ever. Evil’s tricks are becoming more subtle. A temptation here, an uncaptured thought there.  And when sin is left unconfessed and treated as harmless, we eventually will act on what we entertain. But our God has a better plan. Unmet desires are part of the mystery which draws us to him.  The longings, the questions, the aches given to God are part of the process which makes us more like him. For without pain how would we know his healing? Or grief his compassion? Or emptiness his fullness? Or without the wandering, however close by or far away it may be, his pursuit?  His overwhelming and passionate love that will not let us go? I struggle with life-long desires I know will not be satisfied on this earth. I want to choose to not leave God’s side. But in the times of doubt, I need rescue. I need Him to bind my wandering heart. Bind it to the One who is more than any desire I have in this life. The One who is more than enough.   Scriptural references:  Genesis 3:1-7; Genesis 19:26; 1 Samuel 1:1-8 Inspired by the hymn...

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