Monday, December 30, 2013

Your grace still amazes me.

Hi loves. 

The last few weeks, I've been reading through the book of James. There is a lot of wisdom packed in that book. James knew his stuff. 

James 4:6 has quickly become one of my favorite verses. It says, "BUT, He gives us more grace. That is why the Scriptures says, 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'"

First of all, is 'BUT' not THE BEST word EVER?! 'BUT' means something good is coming! 'BUT' means God isn't finished yet. 'BUT' is a promise. God is just GOOD like that. 

His goodness just continues to spill out in this verse. Guys, I praise the Lord for this fact alone- He gives us MORE grace. More grace than we deserve, because that is His trademark- to continually pour grace on us, the undeserving. 

His grace amazes me. I don't ever want there to be a day when I'm not amazed by His grace. I want it to always bring me to my knees, to praise the One who lavishes His mercy upon me. 

Being on our knees is a sign of humility, because we are willing to lower ourselves to look up at another. Humility is not a common trait nowadays (then again, the word nowadays isn't a common word but I digress). Many people see humility as weakness.  I see it as strength. People who have humility, who possess a humbleness, have decided to remove themselves from place #1 on their concern list and instead put God in that place. 

Guys, God prefers His people to be humble over the proud or conceited. He blesses those who are humble, who have humility, who adore Him. 

Seeking Him face first should be at the top of our priority list. The God who is an endless reservoir of grace deserves as much. 

Go listen to Phillips, Craig, and Dean- Your Grace Still Amazes Me


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's A Merry Christmas Eve!

"...and I hardly can believe, 
how the time does fly as the years go by 
since we trimmed the Christmas tree! 
It's a merry Christmas eve, like a world of make believe
It's a magic night, a child's delight
it's a very merry Christmas eve!"

Guys, I'll warn you; the last two weeks, my brain has been ALL over the place. 

I have finished crafting & wrapping presents for my family! Success. My sister is finishing up her present to our parents (yall just wait til you see it!). 

And it's still coooooold outside. Sister & I have had "Baby It's Cold Outside" stuck in our heads since Sunday, and we've been regaling our parents with our lovely versions of it. By lovely, I mean we've been taking our God-given pretty voices and trying sing as off key and off tune as possible, plus as flat or sharp as we can go. 

Frozen is THE cutest movie since Tangled, hands down. Ugh. Just, love. 

I need to pack for Houston... packing I do not love. But who does? Besides, packing requires doing 

I went to church with my best Sunday, and while singing "Angels We Have Heard On High", the second verse really hit me. I've been dwelling on it off/on since then. It says, 

"Shepherds, why this jubilee?

Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be 
which inspire your heavenly song?" 

It's the voice of the townspeople, stunned that the outcast shepherds have the gall to come into town. Excited shepherds, who've just seen angels! And they likely had the sheep with them, so imagine bahhhhing everywhere and shepherds jabbering amongst themselves, in the middle of the night. Kind of a disturbance, don't you think? A spectacle to behold. And because people are nosy, obviously they'd want to know what could possibly be happening that brought SHEPHERDS to town, in the middle of the night. 

I thank God for those shepherds, who were willing to believe those angels and go seek that baby, who were willing to wake a town to find that little man. That little man who would save the world. 

I thank God for that baby. 

merry christmas eve, bethany

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sharing My Library, Volume 6

Happy Monday before Christmas! 

Are yall like me and wait til the last minute to Christmas shop? I plan to get it done, but I never do. Maybe next year. Maybe. 

Book- Divergent, by Veronica Roth. 
Music- Highway Don't Care, by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban 
TV Show/Movie- Frozen

xo, beth

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where There Is Struggle

"Where there is struggle there is always breakthrough; where there is breakthrough, there is always victory." 

 As Christians, every day we face a struggle that must be fought. I have days where I am just weary of being in the battlefield, days that I can't take one more step, or even try to push the enemy further back.

Mine has been the  same struggle for a while now, meaning the battle has raged around me without ceasing. Satan knows my weak points. He knows where to hit me and how to hurt me. God has heard me cry, "End this please!" and "Get me out of here" more times I care to admit. 

But the thing about being in battle- it does not last forever. Nope. Sure don't. Ask any current soldier or war veteran. They will tell you that there were long days of fighting and longer nights, but eventually the battle comes to an end. Why does it end? Because one side had a breakthrough- the victorious side. 

In the battle between Heaven and hell, who won? Heaven won. 

Yeah- that's right- PAST TENSE. Won. Heaven WON. God won. His side is the victorious side! Today and always. Knowing that is like reading the last chapter of the book when you're still on chapter 3- you just have to know how it ends. We know the ending. Doesn't it make you want to dance for joy?

Now, because we know the ending we don't have to be concerned with defeating Satan- because we WILL. We need to be concerned with HOW we fight. 

Are you arming yourself with God's truths? 

Are you claiming His promises?
Are you running to Him when it is too much to take?
Are you surrounding yourself with encouraging believers?
Are you going to be able to say, "I fought; I fought hard & well because I chose God"? 

I sure hope you chose that today and everyday- to fight with Him on your side. 

See you out there. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

for my 6th grade girls.

Like many blogs, half the things that end up on my blog are from a lesson the Lord taught me, or experiences with family and friends, or insight He gave me to teach my 6th grade girls. 

Today, it's the third one. 

From the end of October to early December it was just me teaching  my girls, a minimum of 15 preteen girls and one twenty year old. Truthfully, sometimes it terrified me. My brain would race- "Do they get what I'm saying?"  "What am I coming across as?" "Is that me talking or am I letting Jesus talk through me?" And the occasional, "Lord give me grace 'cause I'm at my wits end with that one."

The majority of my girls are from whole families, with moms AND dads (our boys are different, which is why I clarified). Most of them have been in church since their cradle days. They live in nice neighborhoods, and they attend good schools. They don't deal with a whole lotta yuck yet. And the yuck they do deal with, they keep close to themselves. 

I was just like them, once. 

Oh how my heart aches for my precious girls at times. The world we live in is hard. I don't have to tell them that. Even in the years since I was in their shoes, it has changed. Yet it is all the same too. In these last few months, the cracks started appearing and they let their walls down for me. Some have hearts are still damaged by their parent's divorce, by the illnesses of family members that wreak havoc. One of my girl's had a parent lose his job, and it affected their entire way of life. A few are struggling with the knowledge that a sibling will soon leave for college. One has a brother on a Navy ship, hundreds of miles away. Two are dealing with leaving the houses they grew up in and moving across town. They stress over homework and recitals and ball games and pep rallies. They all have the inner battle of wanting to experiment with makeup, but still wanting to play with dolls. Several have boy drama. There's a constant worrying about peer acceptance & finding friends.  

I ache to just wrap them up sometimes. Part of me longs to keep them little, but more of me loves on them and tells them to keep going, keep growing, keep fighting. Because this is only the beginning. 

Some days I just look at them and wonder if they realize this IS only the beginning. I sure didn't. 

This is when they start to make their faith their own. I know many other people would tell you that happens when you leave for college, but I believe it starts happening in middle school. It starts happening as they try to figure out who they are going to be and what they're going to stand for. 

I don't want them to feel scared to come to me, to any adult leader in our ministry. 

I don't want them to feel like church is just a place to be preached at. 

I don't want them to turn to material things, boys, alcohol, or drugs for fulfillment. 

I don't want them to only be Godly on Sunday and worldy from Monday to Saturday. 

I want them to be consistent young women- in love with Christ and active for Him as they grow from middle school to high school to adulthood. 

I want them to be unique, to stand apart from the world. I want them to comprehend their Savior's love for them and for them to bask in that. 

I want them to come to church because they want to- because they want to worship our Savior surrounded by fellow believers. 

I want them to find fulfillment in Him. 

This is when they need the most guidance. This is when they need good examples of people showing them what it is like to follow hard after Christ. And not just showing an example of a life spent following hard after Christ; they need people to teach them how to do it- how to have quiet times, how to be a friend, how to say no, how to get involved in your community, how to handle stress, how to deal with unexpected, how to pray, how to get over broken hearts, how to recover from choices, how to ask for help, how to serve others, etc. They need people to teach them, and they need those same people to actually get in there (there being life) and walk it with them.  

They need stability and unconditional love and quality time. They need to know there is more to life than everything the world offers. They need to know that they're going to be given grace, that people will catch them when they fall, that they can be open and honest with our ministry leaders from now til graduation. 

Honestly, I can't tell you if I'll be here in a year, let alone to love them all the way to graduation. But I can love them now, and I can love them well. I can be someone they never doubted loved them. And if that is how they remember me, then I've showed them Christ. 


Christmas Carol Prints

Hey, Monday. Every week you come faster than I expect you to.

Not feeling our normal Monday series today, because it's my day off and I'm in the middle of reading Divergent. So instead of Sharing My Library, I'll leave you with a some of my favorite Christmas carol prints. 

get it here

(Or, if you're three year old Marley, "Kevin and Nature sing". Yeah, that's right. Cuteness.)

And for some reason, I'm loving the song, "O Come All Ye Faithful" more so than ever this year. The fact that I have three printables for that song is proof. 

get it here
get it here 

 One of my best friends, Brooke, has this print framed and hanging in her front hallway. 

And I'm realizing I have an obsession with the chalkboard prints...whoopsie. 

get it here

Off to finish le novel. Happy Monday, loves. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sound of Music LIVE! Reveiw

I'm not a movie critic. Or a broadway critic. But, kind of like I am a Jackie Kennedy buff, I am a Sound of Music know-it-all. I've seen all the documentaries, watched the 25th anniversary discs repeatedly, read Charmin Carr's memoirs on it, own the Sound of Music Scrapbook, as well as the knowledge from an old acquaintance who played the role of Maria in a nationwide show that required extensive research. 

So I will try to be kind, but I'm likely to be critical. I watched the Sound Of Music LIVE! out of intrigue. But I started rolling my eyes sooner than I thought I would. I didn't watch it expecting to review it, but I couldn't keep texting my friend Kristen because it was after midnight, so I stated jotting my thoughts down.  

I have the original movie so memorized that the live version was completely wrong to me. There were reasons the Broadway version was rewritten for the movie- Charmain Carr has the producer explain it in her book. There were reasons the musical numbers were rearranged for the movie version, and obviously it paid off- the movie was way more successful than the Broadway version ever was. What other movie and soundtrack has been translated into dozens of languages and watched repeatedly around the world? So, NBC, by reverting to the Broadway version, do you really think you know better than Rodgers and Hammerstein??  I think not. 

I admire Carrie Underwood for branching out and trying new things, but someone needs to tell her to stick to singing, and leave acting to the professionals. Laura Osnes instead, pretty please, and thank you. 

Speaking of acting, Stephen Moyer plays a pretty convincing Captain Von Trapp. Like WHOA (there was a different word in my original notes...) He's freaking good, almost better in the role than Christopher Plummer. By the end of the LIVE version, I honestly prefer him over Christopher Plummer.  But what do you expect from a handsome fella who's played an HBO character for years. 

I found the actress -Laura Benanti- playing Baronness Elsa Schrader in the LIVE version to be quite good, as well. She was a bit more of a spitfire than refined Elanor Parker, and she has a lovely voice.  I really loved how NBC showed the audience Captain Von Trapp & Baroness Schrader's romance a bit more. Makes us empathize with them both a wee bit more. 

Rolf is BLONDE people. And CUTE. After all, Liesl was willing to risk facing the wrath of Captain Von Trapp to meet this boy. But this actor sings and acts well. The LIVE Leisl has nothing on Charmain Carr. 

The camera angles are not clear. The actors' faces are blocked frequently, by fellow actors or props. The camera was too close up several times, and it was often jerky. AND THEN, in a scene on the terrace with Captain, Elsa, and Max, a camera could be seen! Bad. Bad, bad, bad. 

I had a problem with the time period clarification- except for the Hitler/Nazi involvement, you would have no idea this is the late 1930's. It wasn't clarified well. There were period pieces involved, but modern clothes as well- Underwood displayed everything from nun habits to 1960's stewardess- and then they threw in traditional German-Austrian pieces, making it difficult to differentiate what time the play was set in. Speaking of costuming, Baroness Schrader would NOT have worn pants at the Von Trap Villa in the 1930s. An older wealthy widowed baroness would've cared too much about her appearance and her reputation to set such bold fashion trends. 

Did yall know the nuns actually weren't allowed in the church at Captain Von Trapp and Maria's wedding? True story. 

I get that this a sound stage, and sets are expensive, but Maria's mountains are the same set as the Von Trapp's yard, which also happen to be the same set as the mountains beyond the abbey. Just oy. 

By the time we reached Edelwiess, I threw my hands up and quit taking notes. My word, that was 3 hours I'll ever get back. This is why you don't remake classics. Any one who tries usually fails.  

The critics didn't like it. Kym Karath, who played youngest daughter Gretl Von Trapp in the film, tweeted, “Mystified & disappointed so far by Sound of Music special… Must admit some scenes are actually painful to watch… Love Carrie Underwood but this role is just not right for her. She is lovely her voice is beautiful but acting is wrong.” Even the Von Trapp descendants weren't happy with the NBC Live performance. One of them wrote on her blog, "For everyone who thought the whole thing was wonderful and that NBC did a spectacular job, I say maybe your expectations weren't too high to begin with."

I concur. I'm out of opinions- shocker. Do yourselves a favor and go watch the original. Now, I'm off to find advil to relieve the headache brought on by this remake. 

Oh, and NBC? The next time you decide to do something live, two words. SOUND. CHECK. For the love of Mary Poppins, man, I know I was not the only one hearing white noise. 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The show MUST go on.

"Come Rain, Come Shine, Come Snow, Come Sleet, the show MUST go on." 
~Cozmo Brown, Singin' In The Rain

The rain came, the snow came, the sleet came, and the ice came. Tis still here. BUT! Despite all that, the show went on.  Here are some of my favorite Iphone shots of Christmas Celebration 2013. 

My mini-me, Emeri. I've known her since she was two. She's nine now, a spitfire, and sassy as ever. 



    My dear friend Keri, mini-me's momma. I've been told I look like them. I'll take it! 

Soprano friends, singing those high notes. 

Two of my inner circle! 

 Another little friend named Skyler :)

It is always such a joy to do these shows surrounded by dear friends. Amidst weather set backs, and minor details, the Christmas show was a success.  Eva & Alyssa maneuvered successfully through lightning quick costume changes. Kyle sang through the flu and Greg played bass through sickness. Meatha chose the wise man's gold lame robe as my future wedding dress train (don't ask). The goats got scared on stage, bless their hearts, and left several gifts for the choir members to step in. After two years I've become a dress zipping, tie straightening, robe tucking efficiendo. No one fell off the stage, but Janice sprained her ankle. The fog machine was feeling spewy, and doused Gabriel the angel in a huge cloud, and the fumes got to all of us, bringing out some silliness. The choir and cast had fun. 

Our music minister, sound guy, and producer worked beyond overtime, on the worst days of the Icepocalypse, to ensure the show's survival. Our maintenance men spent hours demonstrating what servant-hood looks like.  

But most importantly, Jesus was glorified. 
Never doubt what Jesus can do through you if you'll let him. 
In Him, Bethany

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sharing My Library- Volume 5

H friends. 

It's Day Four here in the Icepocalypse. It struck Thursday and has kept North Texas shut down since then. School has been cancelled, church has been cancelled, stores are ransacked, and everything is closed. It is solid ice out there people. No snow, just ice. Dangerous, hazardous ice. We've been holed up since Thursday, and from the looks of the social media world, all of us Texans are going stir crazy. We were built to endure heat and sun, not ice and cold. Pray for the sweet weathermen, news reporters, policemen, firemen, electric people, and heating people who are getting out in this, leaving their families to help others. What sacrifice. 

I've had lots of Jesus music playing this weekend, especially since church got cancelled. I just love anything Bethel Music does, but my current favorite is Chasing You by Bethel Music, with Jenn Johnson. 

I'm on the hunt for a good Christmas sweater, since ugly Christmas sweaters are currently all the rage. Everyone and their grandmother is theming their Christmas parties to include ugly Christmas sweaters. So I'm multi-tasking right now, with this blog post open and different tabs on Christmas sweaters. 

Would you believe I haven't watched too many movies this weekend, even being stuck inside? I think if I still lived with my parents, I would have, but for some reason I've tried to not be glued to the tv, my laptop, or my phone. Mostly had the news and the weather going. And maybe an episode or two of Arrow... ;)

And in honor of Pearl Harbor's remembrance date, I pulled out Pearl Harbor the movie- even though it's not my favorite storyline (I mean, what kind of jerk sleeps with his best friend's girl?? I digress). It depicts the attack pretty well.  

Have I told yall how much I love the nineteen-forties? I used to beg Jesus to rewind the clock and make me born in 1923 instead of 1993, so I could be coming of age during WWII, with an overseas sweetheart. Yeah, I know, I was a weird child.

I'm out of new books, people. This is the one time of year I regret my decision to never get a nook or kindle apparatus. But fear not, the trusty bookshelf holds my favorites, so old Dee Henderson mysteries and Sarah Sundin WWII novels it is. 

How is everyone else's Icepocalypse going? And if you ain't in Texas, send us pictures of sunshine. 

Xx, Bethany

Friday, December 6, 2013

A No Makeup Period- A Guest Post by Randi-Paige

“Esther’s physical beauty captured the heart of the king, but it was her character that actually kept it. Internal far exceeds the external.”

A friend of mine recently decided to toss her makeup routine out the window. She challenged herself to a period of time without wearing any makeup. In a world so obsessed with looks and outer appearances, this is unusual. It wasn't about seeing how people would react or letting her skin breathe. It was about the heart.

I asked sweet Randi-Paige to write a guest post, sharing her heart with us.

Hi everyone! First, I’d like to thank Bethany for inviting me to share my No Makeup journey! Also, I very clearly and obviously love makeup, but not because it “makes me pretty” or “covers my flaws”, but because it is so FUN! I just love it. I couldn't give it up for good, but small stints is nice.

My reasoning behind no makeup was that one of my friends posted about No Makeup November through Rave Ministries. For those that don’t know, Rave Ministries was started in Nashville, Tennessee by women, for women. I've done small stints of no makeup and I’m always taught something new. I've always done it with long hair though, so this time was a little different because I have very short hair right now. The first few times that I did no makeup made me realize that I am beautiful! With or without makeup you are beautiful because that’s the way that God created you. He crafted you together and knit you into this beautiful woman, no matter your shape, size, height, skin color, hair color, WHATEVER, YOU are BEAUTIFUL! This time, going into the no makeup period, I knew that I was beautiful. I felt it this time; I feel it almost everyday now, even with a pimple or dark under eye circles. I really do believe that everyone is beautiful, no matter what. This most recent one though, I felt as if I needed to be nicer to people, smile more. I know that I should always be nice to people, but some days when you are having a bad day you just don’t “feel” like smiling at strangers. Well, when you aren't up to societal standards in the hair and makeup department you realize that you are fully relying on your personality. You can be the most gorgeous woman in the world and have a terrible personality and be mean to everyone and get NOWHERE in life. So the biggest thing I learned was to be nicer to people and let your personality exude from the inside out!

The verse that I kept going back to through this was Song of Songs 4:7, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. (ESV)” Do you understand the magnitude of this verse? There is NO FLAW and you are ALTOGETHER BEAUTIFUL! There is not a dang thing “wrong” with you. You are absolutely perfect in God’s eyes and you should see that through your own eyes as well! I like the way The Message writes this verse as well, “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” We are beautiful. We as women should be lifting each other up, not putting each other down. How does it make you feel when someone complements you? Amazing, right? You think you have it all put together when someone tells you that you’re beautiful or pretty or have the cutest clothes. Now think about when someone tells you that you aren't good enough? Or pretty enough? Or skinny enough? That makes you feel worthless. It’s not fun, so why would we say these things about other women who are God’s creation. You are basically bashing God’s handiwork when you say terrible things about anyone. He knit them together too. Love them.

(Bethany sidenote- I asked Randi-Paige her thoughts on 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”)

I think the verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 is more true than ever. Of course I always tried telling myself, “You don’t know why that girl is wearing 10 pounds of makeup. Maybe she’s hiding a scar, or the past, or has low self-esteem.” But until you are put out there, every “flaw”, every small thing we see on ourselves is exposed, especially our hearts. Having your heart exposed is scary, but it’s also a freeing experience. We’re called to love generously and if we want to be loved generously, we've got to do the same.

I hope this inspires everyone to do something that they normally wouldn't do! God Bless you all!

Isn't she wonderful?? I love her. We met through a mutual dear friend, Janice (yall have heard & seen her 'round here before, too!) 

Yall head on over to Randi-Paige's blog, Farmer & Lemonade

xo, Bethany

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sharing My Library- Volume 4

Happy Monday gang! 

Who all braved Black Friday? Props to you; I stayed home. Too crazy. 

It's holiday time, meaning every Hallmark movie ever made is on. I'm hit or miss with Hallmark movies- I either love it and it makes me cry, or I abhor it. Well, I fell in love with one yesterday. Sometimes I'm 100% girl. Anyways, it's called A Bride for Christmas. I know it sounds cheesy but its adorable. The male lead's a cutie. 

And Disney has a new movie out, Frozen, which my 6th grade girls want to see- who am I fooling I want to see it too- so we'll be seeing that this week. 

I babysat Friday night, and it was my turn to pick the movie. The boys always groan at first, but in the end, they love what I've picked. Sheesh. No trust! But that being said, we watched the 2005 Yours, Mine, & Ours. Even held the three year old's attention. Jackpot.

In case you're wondering, we had a dance party to Maxine Nightingale's "Right Back Where We Started From" at the end of the movie. 

And I'm sorry; it is Christmas Celebration 2013 crunch time, so that is mostly what I've been listening to. And yall don't want to hear that. At least not our practice demos. Eeek. 

I did hear a song at work the other day that I loved. "Settlin'" by Sugarland. Texted it to a friend and she responded, "THAT'S OUR LIVES!!" Well, we do dance around living rooms... 

My best is our guest book recommend-er today. She says to read Jesus>Religion by Jefferson Bethke. Cmon yall, it's Jefferson Bethke- he's awesome. Can't go wrong. 

I'll see yall between Christmas rehearsals this week! 

love, bethany