Monday, March 31, 2014

Has the Lord rejected me forever?

Psalm 77

I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted towards heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.

You don't let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days, long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never be kind to me again?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?

And I said, "This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me."
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!
The sea quaked to its very depths.
The clouds poured down rain; the thunder rumbled in the sky. You arrows of lightning flashed.
Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world!
The earth trembled and shook.
Your road led through the sea, your pathway through might waters- 
a pathway no one knew was there!
You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, 
with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

Psalm 77

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I did not want to read my bible this morning. I listened to a few Ask Pastor John sermons while I had breakfast. I debated just going and responding to emails. But somehow, by the power of Christ IN me, I was able to go into my bedroom and pick up my bible. Psalm 77 is where I landed. And it's where I am. And I know/want to believe that this is God speaking to me. Telling me he knows what I'm going through, and he has a comfort for me. And that it's his word; that is my comfort. For so long I felt like the writer in verse 10 where he has accepted his fate. "This is just how things will be, I will no longer feel God," those were my thoughts. For probably the past year and a half that I have had silence from God, this is what I started to believe. But then I read Psalm 77 and I see ME. And I know that God will get me to the last part. That I will have power in remembering God's past works. 

He's there, just not all the way yet. But it almost feels like a phone call saying, "Don't worry, I'm coming back soon."

I hope so.

Thank you God for the power to want to read your word today. Thank you for providing the Psalms, for people who are so hurting but wanting to run to you. Thank you for Psalm 77 and for showing up this morning.

- Bethany




Friday, March 28, 2014

Slouchy McSloucherson

I don't think I acknowledge my appreciation enough for the trend of slouchy clothes. This is a trend that I will NEVER let die in my closet. This week I found the perfect slouchy top at Marshall's and wanted to share :)



Cynthia Rowley is always a favorite brand of mine and there was SO much cute stuff of hers at Marshall's this past week. I limited myself to this linen top and a tank top.


I've also been loving the fact that my hair is long enough for a high bun now!


Top: Marshall's, Jeans: AE, Cardigan: Target, necklace: Forever 21, Shoes: Payless, Headband: Anthropologie

- Bethany

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Journeying and Journaling

Ok, it's been almost 2 weeks. I can process a little more.

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods." - C.S. Lewis.

Well DANG. I always took faith for granted. Never even thought of it as something that might be a struggle one day. I think it's one of those things you can get lazy with, and then once it weakens (from lack of attention), you get all bent out of shape thinking, "What the heck God? Where'd my faith go?"

Oh. It decreased every time I chose to run to others instead of to you, it inched away every time I chose a tv show over reading your word. It died every time I just wanted things to happen without the effort and groaning that your word says WILL be there.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:12-13

In simple terms, it's saying, "Hello, hi, you've read scripture haven't you? Great. Then WHY are you surprised and shocked when you suffer? We've told you it will happen! #pleaselisten". Or something like that.

You can find further affirmation for this lesson here:

"And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering." Romans 8:17

I wish I could tell you why God set it up this way. Why there has to be suffering in this lifetime. But that IS the way God has things set up. And we can trust that it is ultimately for his glory and for the most good. When my life is going great, and I don't see suffering around me, there is really no reason for me to long to be in Heaven. We are such a people, that we need the sufferings of this world to help continually point us back to Jesus. I wish that there was another way. But, in my experience, suffering is the only thing that makes me bank everything on Jesus and the hope of future glorification (being unified as a body with Christ in a new perfect Kingdom with perfect bodies).

I am finally being encouraged by my own suffering and pain. My doubts and struggles with belief are not because I may not be a Christian...they are BECAUSE I am a Christian. Only Christians struggle with sin (in my case, that would be disbelief, lack of trust, and guilt). If I didn't have the spirit of God inside me, why would I care about my lack of faith? Why would it bother me so much if I didn't read the bible or worship God? It wouldn't affect me at all.

So the fact that I am struggling IS a sign of belief. I cannot tell you what an encouragement and relief that it is to know. I am 100% experiencing the act of "working out your salvation with fear and trembling" that is talked about in Philippians 2.

I'm not getting further from God, even though it feels like that sometimes. I am working out my salvation, my faith, so that when I come out of this, it will be 10 times stronger.

I want to record this moment as a very gradual step, but a step none the less, towards strengthening my faith and coming out of this cloud of doubt. What I learned last night (in my Women's Development Program) was real and was revealed by the Holy Spirit, not just my mind or others words.

I didn't feel this amazing moment of God speaking clearly to me, I didn't see a vision and have hope, my fears have not gone away. But I have grabbed onto a tiny thread of hope and I'm counting it as a win.

- Bethany

I had a really good morning. Levi and I went to brunch and processed some thoughts of what we have read together. More mornings like this, please.




Monday, March 17, 2014

Why I haven't written about New York.

Thoughts on my trip? I feel like I'd be deceiving you. It's complicated, incredibly, indecipherably complicated.

Let me break it down:

1) This past week was amazing. I was obedient to the Lord, I felt comfortable and strong when approaching people of all different cultures on the street. I did not fear bringing up spiritual dialogue with these women of Jackson Heights, New York. I knew the truth to say, and I knew that if God wanted them to receive it, they would.

But. I also felt this:

2) This past week was truly horrific. In the midst of trying to tell other people about the gospel, the Good News, the saving grace I bank my life on....I doubted it. The more I spoke "truth" the more it sounded like fantasy to me. Just a story. I feel more like an atheist than a christian sometimes.

Every time I read point number 2 it just crushes me. I want to stop acknowledging it in hopes that it will just go away and stop being real. But that hasn't happened. And I don't really do well with not discussing my feelings (hence this here blog).

There is something in me that can't stop trying to believe though. I want to believe. I know that in Romans it says that God has made it obvious to the world. His existence is obvious to all of us, it's just whether we can acknowledge it. I want to believe today. But I didn't want to yesterday. And I'm scared for more days like yesterday to come.



I will continue to seek comfort in scripture, I know that is the number one place where my answers will come from. But I am also seeking out other people's stories, books on doubt, digging into the people of the bible who doubted. If you have experienced anything like this, please share with me.

I feel weird ending this post on such a solemn note. Obviously this is a topic that is strongly affecting my life right now, but life is still life, and I'm trying to remain joyful. I just ordered the book, God in the Dark. This is a quote by the author that I appreciated,

"Os Guinness explains: "If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt . . . There is no believing without some doubting, and believing is all the stronger for understanding and resolving doubt"

"Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:30–31)

So there you have it. All wrapped up in a wordy little blog post. New York was amazing and I loved it and I have so much to say. But for now, I needed to say this.

- Bethany



Friday, March 7, 2014

The Jacket of My Dreams

A moto-style leather (ish) jacket is something I have been searching for for a loooong time! Never wanting to break the bank, I always held off. Well, yesterday I was shopping at Kohls; I hadn't been there in forever! Lo and behold, I come across this jacket, 30% off! It was PERFECT! My only dilemma was to get it in black or white. They only had white in my size, so that's what I chose, but I am SO tempted to get it in black as well. What to do?!


The quality is amazing and feels like real leather!


(Walter photo bomb)






Jacket: Rock and Republic (Kohls), Shirt: Forever 21, Jeans: AE Jeggings, Boots: Nine West, Sunnies: H&M


- Bethany




Monday, March 3, 2014

Life in February

A new camera strap via Etsy



Lots of animal cuddling


Mosely's day out to Bastrop State Park



Downtown walks in San Marcos before dinner at Tap Room :)




Cider Night!


What does March hold for me?

- One wedding to shoot
- NYC Mission Trip
- Classes every Wednesday
- St Patrick's Day fun
- and hopefully photographing the arrival of one Emerald Rose :)

Bethany

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bastrop State Park

A entirely FREE weekend! That's what we had on our hands. Levi didn't play at church this Sunday and we had no other commitments for the whole weekend! Friday night we ended up eating at Taproom with friends and then coming home to watch Big Love (<3). We wanted to make the most out of our free time the rest of the weekend so we got up Saturday morning and drove to Bastrop State Park! I had been wanting to check it out and I'm so glad we did! After the Bastrop fires a couple of years ago (it seems like just yesterday!), it looked very different...incredible and beautiful, but also sad. 96% of the park was burned down by the fires, but now they have started clearing some of the dead trees and planting new things. It was such a neat dynamic to see the old burned trees falling down, with all the new green life sprouting up around them. I can't wait to go back later this spring and see what else pops up. After the park we ended up driving through to Conroe to visit my parents! We hadn't been back since Thanksgiving! I couldn't believe it'd been that long. It was such a good visit and I'm glad we decided to do it.

Taking more photos of our personal life/adventures was a goal of mine last year and it has been so much fun to do! I LOVE taking photos, I just do. I wouldn't say I'm super creative or inventive, but I just love to document our lives.


Levi's new car! It's a Mazda CX-5, we love it.




A forewarning: this post is a little Mosely heavy. She was just SO cute!




This was the scenic overlook where we parked and started walking down the trail. It was just burnt trees for miles.










Lots of little baby pines all over!







This may not be much, but Levi and I are proud of our growing outdoorsiness, haha. We finally bought a collapsible water bowl for Mosely and packed a whole little bag of things.









- Bethany