Transitioning to a New Medium!!!

Beyond Bethany the blog and Beyond Bethany Photography are now going to be functioning from Wix. It is a cleaner, and more professional look for what I am going for and wanted to share this exciting news with you all! I hope that you continue to join along with me in this journey! Thank you in advance for your flexibility.

Peace.

 

Here is the new link to follow and bookmark!

http://beyondbethany.wixsite.com/beyondbethany

That CVS Guy

This week’s blog is nothing fancy, but at the same time, it is everything fancy. I am going to share a true story from this past week, and I want to leave you with the disclaimer that I am sharing with vulnerability and humility.

Now that August has arrived, it means that my to-do list for graduate school has increased drastically. You can imagine the level of anxiousness that has built up inside me for the merely because I AM GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL!!! In addition to that, I am anxious because if it were up to me, I would have gotten my medical requirements taken care of much earlier in the summer. However, the program asks that students wait until August so that everyone is on the same timeline. Okay, okay. I get it. Entering the medical field means that we have much to be concerned about for the well being of ourselves, in efforts that we can be at our best status to care for all of those around us. Nonetheless, for a planner, waiting until August feels like waiting until the last minute. Due to my lack of procrastination abilities, this entire process has best a test of my patience and trust.

All week I have spent hours and hours in health centers, minute clinics, labs…etc. To start the week off, on Monday I went to CVS to sign in, where I was informed that I would have a 2 hour and 50 minute wait. As one who despises wasting time, I figured that 2 hours and 50 minutes was enough time to go to the lab and get my blood work done. I definitely anticipated the blood work to be the most time-consuming part of the day. Nope. I was in and out of the lab within 15 minutes. It was incredible. The nurse was so kind, took care of me in a timely manner, and was able to find my veins like a professional.

So with allllllll the time in the world to spare, guess what I did?! Yup. You got it. I went to explore a new [to me] coffee shop. The thrill of the adventure is always my favorite part. (If you ever find yourself in Columbus and want to go get coffee, I have a couple of places you could try haha).

When I have a latte in one hand and a journal in the other, I seem to lose all sense of time. Before I knew it, my turn at CVS was up! As the nurse practitioner called me into the room, and began to take my information, I realized that I left my physical examination form (the specific university-only required form) at home. “UGHHHHH!,” I thought to myself.

I told the practitioner my situation and she was kind enough to tell me that she would keep my name on the top of the waiting list as I went to go get the form, but that she would have to continue seeing patients in the meantime. Wow, what grace.

As I stormed off into my car, I grew angrier and angrier at myself for having missed my time slot. “C’mon! After a 2 hour and 50 minute wait?! Now I get to waste time and gas. Awesome.” I yelled at my windshield. I always denied that I talked to myself, but I think it is true.

I did not remain in that mentality, though [thankfully]. I actually prayed. I asked God to show me the purpose in this wasted time, energy, and gas. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I cannot stand waste anything, especially money and gas. After the amazing and relaxing morning I had, I just could not understand why this was happening to me. Although, because of prayer, immediately, I felt a calmness come over me.

The traffic to and back put my return to CVS a half hour later. Then, because I was now behind some other patients, I had an additional 20 minute wait. By this time of the day, I felt like I was a CVS professional. I made best friends with the cashiers at the front desk, and even confused them with their scripted customer greetings and goodbyes as a result of my back and forth.

As I was siting, waiting, I noticed an older man pacing around the the minute clinic check-in kiosk as he looked at his watch every five seconds. He grew tomato-red in the face with anger. At this point in the day, there were multiple patients waiting to be seen. As everyone witnessed this man growing impatient, we all began to look at each other distressed and confused.

The very moment the practitioner’s door opened, the man rushed right up to her to give her a piece of his mind. I was not trying to eves drop at all, but as this man was yelling at the nurse practitioner, she motioned and called my name for me to return to the room. She could not seem to get the man to calm down or leave. but she really did do her best to assure him that he would be taken care of. My understanding is that the man’s grandson had football practice that they needed to get to within an hour, and his physical examination was due that very night at practice.

I barely sat down on the chair before I felt an urge in the pit of my stomach that I was to stand right back up and let the man with his grandson go ahead of me. So, I caught the practitioner’s attention and asked her, “Would it be easier if you took them ahead of me?”

Without physically saying a single word, her eyes said, “Are you serious? After a 2 hour and 50 minute wait, forgetting your form and needing to go home, and then waiting longer once returning, you want to wait even longer?” I looked at her, nodded my head, and said, “Really. It is fine. Go ahead.”

So she told the old man, “Sir, this nice young lady is going to allow you to go ahead of her. Isn’t that so kind of her?”

“Yeah, yeah.” the man said as he angrily shuffled his way into the room.

As I sat back down in the waiting chair, picked up my journal once again, God every so slightly began to whisper to me, “This, this is why I had you wait another half hour. It was not a waste. Keep watching. I am not done yet.”

It was not long before the door opened and it was my turn to be seen. The man came out, walked over to me, and put out his hand to shake mine. “Thank you for what you did.”

“Not a problem, Sir. It was my pleasure.” I said.

I could not sit down before the nurse practitioner repeatedly said to me, “That was such a witness. That was an amazing witness.”

Pamela (the nurse practitioner) and I got to know one another quite a bit that day. She saw me check in during the morning hours, make that silly mistake, sitting in the chair, and now here we were. She was proceeding with the examination, looked at me and said, “You sure do love your tattoos, don’t you?”

I chuckled and proudly said, “Yes ma’am, I do.”

Out of all of them, she pointed out my dove (my very first tattoo) and asked what it said.

This is my favorite part about tattoos: when people are curious enough to ask about their meanings. I have a part of my testimony that ties to each of my tattoos, but the dove one has a unique process.

Yes, I have one of the pulled-out-of-context bible verses on my wrist. Philippians 4:13. Go ahead, put me into that category that you are thinking of; I won’t mind. I prayed about all my tattoos, including that one, and I do not have any regrets.

Back to my story, Pamela knew the bible verse, and in  unison, joined me in saying it out loud. Throughout the rest of my visit, we talked about our churches, and about faith in general. It was incredible, and encouraging.

As we were finishing up, Pamela again mentioned that I had been such a witness to that man, to all of the other patients siting out there, and to herself. I took that time to get real vulnerable with Pamela.

“Thank you, but it was not me. Not in the slightest bit. Honestly, when I left here earlier, I was angry at myself. I could not believe that I had spent all that time preparing to come today, wait out here on this side of town, and then poof. Gone. Wasted time and money. I prayed that God would come through my perfectionist thoughts and show me why He would allow for the time to be extended. I realized when I came back to CVS that this man is why the extra half hour was necessary. Had I come in when I was ‘supposed’ to, I would have completely missed the opportunity to bless him. I would have missed the opportunity to show who Jesus is. I am so thankful.”

Pamela smiled, gave me a hug and said, “Thank you. Good luck in grad school.”

Did I want to wait any longer? Not at all. My flesh was screaming at me. Yet, I was fine. I waited over three hours throughout the day, what was another 20 minutes going to hurt? Let me point this entire story back to God. Without Him, I would not have been extended grace. Without Him, I would have not had the ability to extend grace. Without Him, none of this would have taken place.

As soon as I got in my car, the water works hit. Not only did God answer my prayer as to why? “Why the mistake? Why the wasted time and money?” He also answered my prayer quickly.

The better question is always why not? I am still learning that this is the better question to ask. I could not be more humbled and overwhelmed with joy that God chose me to be His tool. Whew, I want this story to ring as true in my life everyday, as it did in that exact moment. May we never forget that we are being watched. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, remember that there is no off switch.

I do not know about you, bur I want to keep the switch on, no matter how hard it may get. God used me in a mighty and visible way today, and my only prayer is that no one saw me- because it was not me.

Mind-Wanderings

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(photo credit: Emily Mettille, my twin)

As much as I write, I cannot remember what I talk about, who I tell, and when I share it. With that disclaimer, for those who find themselves reading my blog, first and foremost, thank you! Secondly, I am deeply sorry for anything that I may repeat.

For starters, I am beginning to embark on quite the journey. When life takes massive turns, I cannot help but think on them constantly. Well, yesterday [July 29th] marked the very day three months ago when I graduated from college at MVNU, and the day with which, in one month, I start graduate school in Pittsburgh.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

I strive to be someone who talks about a variety of topics when catching up with friends, but I think I have failed recently, especially within this past week. My mind is thinking about all things Pittsburgh related. I suppose this is only natural, but as you may suspect, I have searched for the deeper, spiritual meaning of my tendencies.

This past week presented itself with a bunch more God-me time, and with that, I have read more, explored more, rested more, and shopped more. Yup, I said shopped. Blegh. I will let you in on a secret about me: I really really really do not like spending money. It makes me feel icky. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it has a lot to do with not feeling as though I am ever going to have enough for emergencies. Since emergencies cannot be planned for (and I am a planner), I tend to shy away from ever “going out.” Eh…I could stay on the topic of fear and finances forever, but that was not the intention for this blog post.

Now that I have gotten off on a tangent…

So, reality set in for me that I need some things for grad school, which will require me to spend money. I attempted to change my mentality about spending money by doing something that I do love to do, which is make lists. Through app searching, I found one that is super user-friendly and syncs between both my phone and laptop! If you are one who feels satisfied after crossing things off a list, Wunderlist is the app for you!

I created a bunch of folders to organize what I would need by category. Then, I alphabetized the lists to clean them up a bit. I get super giddy about things having a place of their own and being able to see it all come together.

(You may want to stop reading now if my excitement is weird or annoying haha)

Preparing for Pittsburgh has looked like nothing I had expected. I thought my textbooks would cost me a fortune- but nope. I thought I would have to rent a UHAUL since my belongings are dispersed amongst three different locations- but god-family has offered to move me!

After two school-only visits, and one full city visit to Pittsburgh, you could say that I am elated to soon call this place home! The connections already put in place give me such peace that yes, while I will technically be on my own, God has never failed to intricately place others within my path to care for me.

Nerd alert (yet again): I have a cousin who now lives in Ohio, but was born and raised in Pittsburgh, so I decided I wanted to hang out with her so that she could teach me about the city. I came to learn Pittsburgh has its own dialect called Pittsburghese! This is hilarious to me. Obviously I do not want to sound like a foreigner, so over the next two weeks I am going to attack this new-to-me dialect. Hopefully, I will not come across like a wannabe haha.

Now a lil’ list for ya in case you too were wandering what Pittsburghese is all ’bout!

Probably not taken from the most reliable source, but here ya go (pittsburghese.com):

jagoff= a stupid person (I will probably use while riding my bike when drivers are rude)

hankerin= need or want

ice box= refrigerator

lunch head= (usage will be much like the “jagoff” term)

redd up= clean up

sticks=out in the country

yinz= you all

I also learned that “Pittsburgh” is pronounced as “pics-berg,” and “downtown” is pronounced as “dahn-tahn.”

There you have it. I am ready. Pittsburgh here I come!!!

But wait…

I have one incy wincy concern. Before I came out to Ohio for undergrad, I was ecstatic about creating my own space; apart from my biological family, apart from all things PA, and apart from my icky boring hometown. I still think I did all of those things, but I had no idea that my opinions about Columbus would change as much as they have within just this summer.

Four years ago, when God opened up the doors to MVNU, I was certain that Columbus would become my permanent home. I have god-family out here that love me and support me more than anything. I am a part of a church. ALL of my best friends from college live out here. I have barista opportunities in Ohio. etc. etc. Guess what? I idolized everything about Columbus, and I have never felt more conviction than now.

Do not get me wrong, Columbus and all of Ohio is absolutely wonderful (I know, it is a matter of opinion, but that is mine- take it or leave it), but idolizing some place leaves you nowhere good. I am admitting something extremely vulnerable. I put godly people and godly places above God.

Whew.

I refuse to do this again. Yes, I am excited and ready for Pittsburgh, but I do not want to come anywhere close to idolizing the city, or the people in it.

What have I learned? I learned that no place is perfect. I learned that no person is perfect. I learned that my heart can still be softened. I learned that my will above God’s is no good. I learned that I still have surrendering I must do. I learned that Pittsburgh will be amazing…if I step aside.

 

Four years ago, Bethany said, “Columbus is definitely where God is going to plant me for the rest of my life.”

 

Today, Bethany says, “Wherever God chooses to take me, I will go.”

 

Can I ask a huge favor? If you read this blog post, would you please pray for me as I prepare to go to Pittsburgh? It would mean everything to me.

For this next week’s short term goal, I want to commit to praying:

  • for the city of Pittsburgh
  • for the people that I will meet
  • for the safety of my future apartment
  • for church community I will enter
  • for future peers
  • for a future job
  • for rest
  • for financial peace
  • for future professor relationships
  • for my academics
  • for a future relationship
  • for good health
  • for a future bible study
  • for a future dance ministry
  • for God’s ministry

 

 

Me? Are you sure?

I had a interesting past seven days. A good kind of interesting. The kind of interesting that could not have been planned for if attempted.

There have been many more times that I can count where I have felt inadequate than effective in my life. From being too short to pursue dance professionally, to being unable to speak into the lives of others who have battled addictions. The life of living in inadequacies is quite exhausting.

This week taught me that I am useful right where I am. Whoa. That is crazy cool.

Normally I am the one needing a shoulder to cry on (literally), but this week I was the shoulder (figuratively). I had five different friends seek out my advice, prayer support, and encouragement. Please do not read this and think that I am asking for a round of applause or a A+ sticker. Instead, I am taking the time to reflect on the possibilities of God in the midst of my impossibilities.

Coming out of a [what I call a] dry spiritual season, one friend ask for prayer in the midst of their own similar season.

Being a former manager at a job, a friend asked for advice on how to stand up in the midst of unfairness with coworkers.

Being in the position of fearing the unknown, a friend ask for prayer for understanding and grace.

Struggling with anxiety, a friend asked for prayer for peace.

Even as a single, a friend asked for advice and prayer in their relationship.

I chose to be specific in sharing the ways that I was honored to be the shoulder this past week because I think there is power in those specifics. Even though each of the situations were different, something that they all had in common was my hesitation to feel worthy of being used.

I am not a pastor.

I am not a manager.

I have fear.

I have anxiety.

I am single.

Those are all facts. They all hold a bit of demeaning weight. If I am not careful, I allow them to become my identity. BUT GOD, says “So. I am still going to use you…and by the way, thank you for making yourself available.”

That is it. Simple. Availability.

I do not think that I have been the best at giving materialistically. It is hard for me. Yet, the things that I believe I have been gifted to give are my time, words, and ears.

*thank you to those five friends for allowing me to listen *

A perpetual goal of mine [and thus one that did not make the summer of 2016 list] has been to become a better listener. This week, I had many opportunities to practice listening. It was difficult, but it was rewarding. Listening more challenges me to speak to God before I speak to others. I am sure you have seen or heard this question somewhere before: “Do you talk about it more than you pray about it?” 

As a despiser of clichés, normally I roll my eyes and continue to scroll through my feed, but this one gets me every time. Listening=opportunity=to hear=to learn=to grow=to pray.

I still may not think I am good enough, but my availability, mixed with my desire to be used by God far surpasses those thoughts. Me? Yes, He chose me. He is choosing me.

He will choose you too-just be sure to listen.

 

Put the Fuel in Full

Another week, another blog. Much has happened, yet again, I feel as though I have very few words. I cannot quite describe this season. That may be the part which troubles me the most.

You know where I have found myself this past week? Persistently searching. I got my ukulele back out, I scrapbooked in my journal more, I went out on a photography adventure (nonwork-related), caught up with my big sis, and read more.

You know where I did not find myself this past week? In much prayer. I certainly tried. At this point, I am not sure what the golden ticket would be, but what I can say is that I am not giving up (insert Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference here).

I think the searching materials I just mentioned above are all ways in which I speak to God, access Him, or allow Him to speak to me, but I know there is more. I want that more. 

What gives you energy? What gives you happiness? What gets you excited (or on level 12 as my big sister, Molly, would say)? What gives you purpose?

I know that this summer has taught me an abundance thus far, but the one that keeps running through my mind is combination of introversion and extroversion I find within myself. I just read an article from Science of People and in it, it defines this mixture as, ambivert. Most of you probably have already heard of this term before, so I apologize that I am a tad late. Now that I understand myself a bit more, I feel like I can appreciate who I am a bid more (reference to one of my summer goals).

So what is the point? Cool, I am getting there.

What I have learned about myself is that is vital for me to have introvert and extrovert moments every single day. In the morning and evenings I truthfully need time for just me and Jesus. Then in the mid day, I really need to see some humans, hear their voices, share some laughs, etc. Without some of both, I have discovered that I get off track. “Off track” for me looks like lack of energy, happiness, excitement, and purpose – all of which I believe are tactics of the enemy.

Now that I know I am not weird (or maybe I am, which is perfectly cool with me), I can definitely put times in place where I can fuel both sides of my personality so that I am full.  Before this week, I felt that I was in the wrong for needing to isolate myself to a quiet place, for not doing what everyone else was doing, or for not always having a smile on my face. After all, God created me just as He saw fit, right? So, why not embrace this? -and by this, I mean, all sides of who I am.

Yes, I love people and getting out to fellowship and have a good time, but man o man, I sure do need my moments to just take life in. Breathe. 

This week’s short term goal: fully embrace what fuels me to be fulfilled.Screenshot 2016-07-17 15.34.50.png

Understand Your Brand

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Do you know where your clothes came from?

Do you know who made them?

Do you know how long it took?

Do you know how much labor was involved?

I personally am not one to think of all these questions when I buy clothes…but I should-and so should you! It matters because there are lives with stories behind the materials we clothe our bodies in. The worst part is, these stories are not being heard.

As consumers, we have the loudest voices and it is time that we speak up. This is not a post intended to make you feel guilty, but to increase your knowledge of where your money goes. I am writing to support an awesome friend of mine, Brandon Study, who is launching his new clothing apparel line, Understand Your Brand, July 15th!

This date is sneaking up quickly and in order for this mission to be successful we need your help to spread the word! Understand Your Brand (UYB) has three different colors of the Wear It On Your Sleeve t-shirts as shown below and you can order yours by visiting this link  UYB Kickstarter !

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Okay, so these shirts look awesome, right?! I know! However, you must not forget their purpose! UYB strives to produce high quality products that do not place the focus on the products themselves, but the people behind every stitch. This Kickstarter t-shirt in particular was designed with the ‘where it on your sleeve‘ motto in mind. While the t-shirt is comfortable and unique, it represents something much deeper than that; the motto symbolizes vulnerability and true expression of one’s emotions. Wear it for any occasion and show your support for 100% recycled, authentic fabric!

“Understand Your Brand believes that fashion does not need come at the expense of destroying the earth or reducing the quality of life for others…

[but instead]

…provides quality apparel made from recycled fabrics and by people who’s well being is above profit.”

Brandon has frequently traveled to El Salvador to work for, and serve with, non-profit organizations. He learned much about the people in these communities and knew he wanted to do more to help them beyond those mission trips. Out of his broken heart came Understand Your Brand.

UYB not only strives to raise awareness for social change and environmental protection, but also to improve those conditions. The geographical distance between us can no longer be our excuse. As consumers, we have an influential voice that can make a lasting impact, but we must first be knowledgable- that is why I am writing to invite you to join the UYB movement THIS WEEK!

If you are like me, I want my heart to be broken for that which breaks God’s heart; and I believe that what seems like a small shift in our materialistic-tendencies, will actually go a long way. The people in Cambodia (where UYB shirts are made) are not given the proper nourishment, shelter, education, etc. for all work they do. Are these not our own family members? In the words of founder, Brandon, himself:

“We need to understand that our clothing is not just about colors and style, but each article of clothing has a journey and a story that we inherently represent, support and invest in.”

Let me be the first one to admit that I was completely unaware of the history behind the clothes I bought, and now, by becoming an active member of the Understand Your Brand team, I am running full speed towards a mission of loving God and loving others in an entirely new way!

Let us learn [together] to love a bit deeper by taking our selfish desires for the latest, trendiest, and cheap fashion, and transplanting it to the quality of well being for those lives across the world. Go ahead, I dare you…wear it on your sleeve…so that the world may know Him by your love (John 13:35).

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Brandon could do a far better job of explaining his passion and mission for UYB than I could, so for more information, please visit www.brandonstudy.com!

Huh?

For today’s blog, I honestly do not have many words- shocking for someone like myself. As I always strive to be open and honest, I will say that this week was a rough one for me. (I apologize if my blog has the feel of an emotional rollercoaster, if you read on a weekly basis).

Worse yet, I have no clue why this week was rough. I found myself needing to cry, just to cry. I found myself not having the words to explain my thoughts or feelings. I found myself trapped in my frustration of being frustrated. Weird- all kinds of weird.

After giving much thought to what in the world I would write about, the word “simplify” came to mind. Naturally, I went to my journal and drew the word in the midst of a plant I found near one of my favorite coffee shops and had decided to press. (Go ahead- you can roll your eyes or chuckle).

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I tend to be someone who gets a ton of huge ideas to try, but is easily discouraged while executing them; which is the epitome of the phrase: “don’t bite more than you can chew.” Well, that is me. Apparently, I love food.

However, because it is my innate desire to attack goals with perfection, precision, and professionalism, I oftentimes find myself falling short.

After I wrote this word in my journal, I began to dissect my life at this current season. Since I am very goal-oriented, I am realizing that smaller goals are the way to go. My summer list does not seem unreachable, but I have seemed to slip up on aspects of my life that I was once “good” at. I cannot seem to find comfort in the normality that life is supposed to have seasons. Is it wrong to want something different? Something more consistent?

Yes, I am talking about reading my Bible, prayer, exercise, reading, etc. I have not been who I want to be within any of these avenues of life. Yes, I am striving. Yes, I am growing. Yet, I think my goals have been unrealistic.

I have had dry seasons (as they call it) where my first inclination is not to pray, and when reading God’s Word just honestly does not sound all that appealing. However, I do not want that to be my story any longer. If dry is what it is called, then I want nonstop floods. I understand that there is purpose in seasons, but I am exhausted of foundational spiritual seasons. Self criticism settles in and tells me that I should be beyond this point so that I can be onto learning bigger and better lessons. Nonetheless, in the word “simplify,” I also hear the word, “consistency.” I crave both in my daily life. Right now.

So, why I am writing about all of this? I have no clue. If I go any further, I would most likely talk in circles; which would be boring for you, and restless for me.

Therefore, I leave you with this, if you ever have a moment/day/week where life just does not make sense, it is okay. I am right there.

Peace.

 

 

That Thanksgiving-type-of-full

Everyone sitting around the table. Sounds of silverware clanging against the plates. Laughter over reminiscence. Sighs of satisfaction from full tummies. All of this, and it is not even November.

To be honest, it frustrates me that giving thanks is oftentimes isolated to the Thanksgiving holiday. In my last post (Searching) I wrote about the pursuit to constantly give God praise. While it still difficult for me most days, I am now able to maintain a broader perspective to see that there is always something for which I can say “Thank you, God.” The best part is, I really do not have to look all that far.

Yesterday I went to my alma mater town for some friends’ wedding. I knew that it was going to be an amazing reunion and an opportunity to soak in quality friendship (just like all of the six weddings I have this summer haha). I never expected returning to this town to be as emotional as it was for me. Yes, I am an emotional person, but since graduation, I feel as though my friends and I have done an amazing job of staying in touch, which has helped tremendously with life’s recent transitions.

Since I have placed such a large focus of my personal growth on what I do and do not get emotional over, it caught me off guard to find that I actually miss this tiny town. I miss being in the midst of crazy college kids (to an extent). I miss worshipping three days a week alongside my peers and profs. I miss serving coffee to amazing Kenyon students, profs, and locals. I miss the nature. I miss MVNU. I knew I would, but not like this- whatever this is.

The day before traveling back to The Vern, as us Naz students would call it, I decided to contact some of my small group members from the church I attended in town while at school. I miss having them invest in my life on a weekly basis. Sure they were all married, with kids of their own, but they served a vital role in my time at MVNU…probably moreso than what I could ever express. A few of them even treating me as if I was one of their own. One of the men in the small group who served as a father-figure to me said he and his family were available to go from a brunch, and so we did. It was a wonderful time of catching up over the past couple of months and looking ahead to what our lives would be like. The amount of time and energy this family has placed into getting to know me and care for me makes me feel (and know) that I will always have a home to come to in this tiny town.

Shortly after, I went to the wedding and continued to hang out with the bestest of friends. As difficult as it is to go to wedding after wedding while being single, I am thankful that it has been surrounded by those that I call my framily (friends+family).

After the wedding, the party continued. We went to ice cream and dinner, in that order and it was a ton of fun. We talked about our years spent together, how life already looks a ton different, but also how we are thankful for where we know God is taking us. I am encouraged when surrounded by such amazing framily because I know that it is only by God’s grace that they are in my life, and only be which they will remain. MVNU was such a good place. It was where framily was made.

Just as I was about to head back for the city, I remembered that it was a Saturday! *so you are thinking “What is the big deal? Saturday is a Saturday.”* Well, for four years straight, Saturday, to me, meant Wagon! MVNU has ministry outreach groups that students could be a part of and Wagon was my heart’s choice for my time in The Vern. So, since I was in town, I decided I would drop in for a surprise visit!

Oh boy was that fun! Not much seemed to have changed, but at the same time, I noticed a bunch has changed. I am not quite sure what to think about it all.

Talking to some of the youth and adults was still as difficult as it always was, but revisiting restored my desperation to pray for them. Just a glimpse into their eyes reminded me of their need for something far greater than they have ever known. I may not be able to give it to them directly, but through those four years, I sure hope that I was a vessel for them to access that something greater. I miss those stories. Even though they were not simply stories, they were people. To serve them again, to listen to them again, to hug them again…it was needed- maybe not by them, but by me.

On my drive back home I cried. That deep, big, sobbing, yet joyful type of cry. I had been overwhelmed with all that my day encompassed. It may be strange but I love that overwhelming feeling. The type of feeling you get after eating all of that amazing home cooked food at the Thanksgiving meal. The amount of fulfillment in me is more than I can describe because it was God and He is indescribable.

Those whom the Lord has strategically placed into my life continue to amaze me. How does He do it? How does He know just what I need, and when I need it? How could He possibly care for me this much? How do I deserve these bountiful blessings?

I am not sure that I have the answers to any of those questions, but I am hanging on to conviction of perpetual praise in my life. Yes, I am fully aware that every day will not be like yesterday- where it is as “easy” to thank God for what He has done and is doing. However, yesterday was a reminder that God is more than able to do exceeding and abundantly more than I could ever ask or imagine.

I traveled to Mount Vernon for a wedding yesterday. I left Mount Vernon with an unexpected full heart of Thanksgiving-type-of-thankfulness.

Let this be my daily story.

 

Book Review- Love and Respect

51eanPAh9kLI know, I know. It is not Sunday and I am blogging. However, you will understand why if you stick with me through this post.

To reference my summer goal list [again], I can actually check one off now! I finished reading Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs today! I am excited to share my thoughts about this book with you all because it has changed me for the better in more ways than I can count, and hope that it would possibly do the same for you.

Let me preface this post by stating that I RARELY read books; not because I do not desire to (I actually have piles upon piles of books that I want to read) but because I have had to read academic books for the past eight years, with summers included, and therefore, have not made my way around to leisure readings. Sadly.

Love and Respect came my way through a good friend requesting it during a time that I was in a relationship. She and her boyfriend were also reading it and suggested that my boyfriend at the time, and I , should read it too. To be honest, I am not sure why this particular situation spoke louder than other book recommendations, but nonetheless, it did. I originally bought the book to read it with him, but then that happened. I was going to give up on reading the book, but instead I still bought it as my graduation gift to myself.

Therefore, let this post demonstrate to you that if someone has requested me a book, and I have read it in its entirety, it must be a good book to read!

Before I opened the book, I prayed that God would use it somehow, someway. Again, I reiterate that the book is intended for marriages. On the back cover it evens says, “A Marriage Book With A Difference.” However, God told me “You think I can’t use this book in your singleness? Just watch, I am going to teach you more than you would have ever known without the book. AND I am going to prepare you, your heart, your mind, your emotions, and your future husband through this book.”

I know my God is big, but I thought that was a pretty big statement.

As I read the book, apart the routine of daily life, I could not put the book down! I did think it was extremely repetitive with some parts, but as I have mentioned in my writing many times, in order for me to learn, I need repetition. Dr. Emerson bases the book off of Ephesians chapter five, verse 33:

33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I find it incredible that the answer to fixing thousands of marriages (according to articles I have read about Love and Respect) is found right within the pages of Scripture. With as many other tools as people turn towards to fix their relationships (books, counselors, friends, family, etc.), the one true answer has always been right here all along. I love that Dr. Emerson based his work off of Scripture and constantly referred to this verse (and many others) to provide advice and challenges for men and women in all stages of life.

Throughout the book, I realized that God was indeed teaching me more than I could have ever learned without the book. It sounds silly [to me] but God decided to teach me about who He has created me to be, what I could learn about from my past relationships, my current singleness, and who He calls me to be as a wife some day all through one book.

I do not want to be the book reviewer who ruins the piece and leaves you with nothing to learn yourself if you decide to pick up a copy, but I do want to share a few (because there were way too many too write about) of my favorite/most convicting parts.

“The first step is to understanding just how husbands and wives communicate.” (23)

“What I say is not what you hear, and what you think you heard is not what I meant at all.” (30)

“If a husband is commanded to agape-love his wife, then she truly needs love.” (37)

“A way to fully love a husband is to respect him in ways that are meaningful to him.” (46)

“Her heart longs to resolve things and to reconcile. Her husband matters to her more than any other adult on earth. In truth, her confrontation is a compliment.” (62)

“…a wife’s softened tone and facial expressions can do more for her marriage than she can imagine.” (65)

“…men are commanded to love because they don’t love naturally, and on the other side, women are commanded to respect because they don’t respect naturally.” (70)

“…this isn’t about fairness; it’s about touching his spirit and possibly God will touch him as well.” (102)

“One of simplest yet most effective steps you can take is simply to share your day with her.” (143)

“As a wife, if you can start to understand how important your husband’s work is to him, you will take a giant step toward communicating respect and honor, two things that he values even more than your love.” (193)

“The problem many women have today– including Christian wives–is that they want to be treated like a princess, but deep down they resist treating their husbands like the king.” (209)

“A wife’s submission to God takes precedence over her submission to her husband.” (219)

“If your quietness is the right kind of quietness–respectful and dignified, not pouty and sour– he will move toward you.” (220)

“Your husband has a need you do not have, and that need is met in a way that feels unnatural to you.” (247)

“You can’t get what you need by depriving your partner of what your partner needs.” (253)

“Nobody can love perfectly and nobody can respect perfectly.” (277)

“Whatever I do for my spouse, I do it to Christ as well.” (279)

…………….

The question that personally still remains comes from the context of this statement:

“Men and women can look at precisely the same situation and see life much differently. Inevitably, their pink and blue lenses cause their interpretation of things to be at odd to some degree.” (33)

My question: If God created man and woman to be in relationship with each other, then why did He create us to communicate differently?

Perhaps you will grab yourself a copy of Love and Respect and find the answer!

Searching

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photo taken on 6.25.16. by Meghan Mencer

In my first post this summer (“Life Changing (literally)“) I created a list of some summer goals I made. Well, one of those goals was to “seek out the beauty in why God has created me the way He has (i.e. super emotional, passionate, analytical) and become confident in that identity.”

I am writing this specifically because I need reminders all the time-that is how I learn. Grr.

DISCLAIMER: vulnerable Bethany is about to write.

This past week was extremely difficult for me. I had a series of unfortunate circumstances come my way, and I did not handle them with patience, trust, strength, or hope. I failed, miserably. I am the type of individual who feels and reflects so deeply that it is as if I am unable to live out what I truly believe in the midst of “tragedies”(aka my faith just disappears when trouble comes my way).

I could go on and on about all the things that went wrong, how I cried (I am an ugly crier), how I did not pray first [but instead went to those in my circle], how I got too into my feelings, etc. but I am choosing to focus on what went right (God literally just told me that maybe everything did go right).

Perhaps you can relate, but I find that I am quick to do what I think is best, what I know to do, what I remember learning from the past, and forget that ultimately God is in control. In all of the “wrongs,” not many people would know that God turned my week around. I say that because He did so on the inside. Sure, there were situations that manifested themselves on the outside, but the real turn took place internally.

God reminded me that in all things- I repeat, all things- I am to give thanks. He also reminded me that prayer is a part of my relationship that I have neglected and must return to again.

For those who already saw via social media, I finished my 8th journal and started on my 9th! I am super pumped and get giddy every time I am able to continue reflecting through writing in a new, beautiful book, full of empty pages! AHHH! At the time that I turned to the first fresh page, I did not know why I desired to draw some calligraphy, but I went with it away.

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I felt that I was to simply draw the word, “thanks.” That word encompassed a couple of different things that immediately came to mind: I was thankful for the new mug my spiritual family got me (I LOVE coffee, and also have a mug addiction) and thankful for the women in India who handmade the new journal I was beginning. Yet, that seemed mediocre, because those are small, silly pieces of life that I just happen to personally enjoy.

As the weekend came and went, I saw that there was a much larger purpose in me drawing “thanks”at the beginning of my new journal. God whispered to me that this journal’s reflection theme was to always point back to praising Him with thanks; in the “small” things and in the “huge” things. I am to always give thanks.

So, let me tell you what I am thankful for as of this weekend:

-a camera lens coffee mug

-journal #9 made by women in India

-redeemed relationships

-my family’s needs being met

-humility

-others’ selflessness

-my car continuing to run

-a Christ-like model of a marriage

-opportunities for BeyondBethanyPhotography

-Columbus city adventures

-church

-late night talks

-sisterhood

-exploring new places

-shared stories

-salvation

-not my will, but Thy Will

-trust and vulnerability

-“Love and Respect” by Dr. Eggerichs

I started a YouVersion devotional this week on prayer, and well, need I say any more? Good, I will. In my obedience of praying with greater intentionality, I believe my week was “extra” difficult in order to test me. When I look at many of aspects of my week, I see failure. However, when I remember that I prayed my way through it, I see progress.

I do not think that I could reach my summer goal of searching if I would continue to neglect intentional prayer.

Prayers were answered this weekend!!!!!!!!! Why am I shocked? -honestly, I do not know. I should not be shocked. Yet, I am thankful that I am, because it puts me in a place to be reminded (which I need as a repetitive learner) that God is God and I am not.

Searching for who I am has been hard this week, but it has also been refreshing.

I. Am. Thankful.