Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

The Gift of Your Voice





"When we hate the process, we are unknowingly wishing for a religion of rules and legalism with a distant God."

Jenn Stockman

I've been reading a book by Jenn Stockman (The War on Your Voice),  the process of our stories and the value of using our voice to walk through that process. So far, I love this book! I'm still in the beginnng of the book, but my highlighter has been working overtime. 

"To live your story with your voice is to live with a deep value for process."

Our voices hold a lot of power and authority. Your voice is the authority on YOUR story. Stories are meant to be told, to be processed, and to move through the pain to a place of joy and peace. It is with our voice that we are given the freedom to express our love for God and for others, our voice promotes our growth and plants seeds for others to grow. When we have a story, something crucial about our lives, but we hold it deep inside; there's the potential of being stunted. Our voice is there to give us the gift of freedom, to bring our stories into a place of healing and joy. Our voice is a pathway to freedom. It can bring life to places inside of us that lie dormant. When we use our voice to speak chains break.

The enemy of your soul does not want you or me to use our voice. He will do everything he can to bury you so deep that you begin to believe your voice does not work, it is not heard, it is pointless to use. He does not want you to utilize the power you have been given with your voice.

This has been an area of challenge for me for a long time. Using my voice to tell my story is scary at times, but the more I practice the stronger I feel.  The process of my story has been long, painful, confusing. It has also brought me so much joy, love, peace, and hope. All of that is process. My process. It has taken time to learn to love the daily process of finding words and voicing them. 

This is partly why I decided to write a book. I've had a long journey searching for the identity God has given me. I think we all search for identity to some degree, for me it has felt like a lot of searching. I have needed to learn how to process this journey in various ways, blogging, talking, and book writing to name a few. Still, after all these years of work, I find myself afraid to use my voice and of what the process may entail. I also know the enemy is working hard to stop me, instill fear within me, and keep me quiet.  I have to choose everyday to take authority over  my voice and speak my own reality and truth.

What does the process look like for you? Are you using your voice to tell your story? Or, like me, does fear sometimes grip you and your voice goes still? Do you have to grab ahold of who God has created you to be and let your voice be heard through the fear? I know I sometimes do. 

Today I pray for all our voices to be heard. I pray for each one of our processes to move us forward in growth and life. I pray that our God-given authority and power over our own voices will not only change our lives but raise dry bones everywhere we journey.

It's Time



So many times I hear people say there isn't enough time.  Life is spent running against an unseen clock, hoping to catch an hour, a minute, or a second of time.  I use to feel this way at times; it was very challenging for me to go throughout the day without my watch on, I had to know the time.
But, I've discovered that with or without it, time passes by at the same pace. Many people spend most of their life living in the same cycle, as if each cycle were the first time. The same issues, same obstacles, same everything.
It takes courage to STOP.
Time races by, and we choose each day how to respond. You can lean into each moment and with strength choose to savor the life given you, or you can run.
I've done both.
To savor we accept responsibility for our own lives. We stop poking the person next to us and expecting them to change first. We set boundaries that bring life to ourselves and our family. We seek truth and sometimes boldly speak the hard truth.
To savor is to stand still long enough to recognize the blessings all around us. To stop talking and listen. To savor, one cannot manipulate, twist, and control.
What is happening in your life today that recycles year after year? What are  your options? Are you thriving in the blessings God has given you, or pushing them away?  Are you grasping at past mistakes and pulling them into your present? Do you feel entitled? Are you running from the given time of this moment?
Many times in the day I need to pause and just ask Jesus for help. He knows every situation, every heart and thought. I don't have the answers, but I can choose to have the faith that He does. It is up to me to stop running against the time I've been granted, and let it all go to Him.
Jesus, Say That Again to me, You created time, you hold my heart, and You've got it all under control today.

The Freedom of Armor




Put on the whole armor of God

Just recently I listened to Brene Browns video "the call to courage." She had me laughing, crying, and pondering. It wore me out, actually...I laid down after she was done talking and had a little nap. While listening to her, several thoughts popped in and out, like " I could do that!" "I can't imagine doing what she does!" "I need to work on being more courageous."  "Being vulnerable is way tooooo scary for me!"

Through it all, I came to the conclusion that she is absolutely right. To be courageous, we must be vulnerable.  Then, the thought of God's armor flooded my mind. I wouldn't normally put vulnerability and God's armor together, so I opened my Bible to read through Ephesians 6, again.

"Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil......Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness., and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace: above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."

To be courageous, we must be vulnerable enough to tell the truth, to live truth, to allow truth to penetrate our entire beings. It must be firmly girded around our waist, holding up every action and thought. It is the foundation of righteousness, and the stability of peace. Truth enables us to hang on to faith and face the battles with courage and hope.

The quest for truth has been at the center of my life for a long time, and I've learned that it involves a lot of soul searching. Truth is incredibly vulnerable. When we live in that place inside of ourselves it requires the courage to ask ourselves a lot of questions. We have to be vulnerable with ourselves and courageous enough to tell ourselves the truth of our motives in our everyday situations.

For me, this can be big things in life or small simple choices. When I am faced with choices, I am also faced with the question of motives and identity. What does this choice  say about my motives? Does this line up with who God has made me to be? Am I living in the truth of Who God is? sometimes I am able to be vulnerable with my self and others and answer courageously, other times, I falter. Even in those situations, the times I falter, it takes courage to recognize it, and vulnerability to talk about it.

I've discoveerd over the years that when I ask questions of myself and of God, He demonstrates courageous  living to me. Jesus is the truth. His examples of courage inspire me to continually live in that place of vulnerability with Him. He was courageous with everyone around him. He stepped outside the box and spoke truth in ways that changed lives. He showed others his heart, which in turn challenged them to look at their own hearts. This is courageous, for sure.

So, I'm continuing to set out with the armor of truth wrapped around me. The motive of righteousness secure in my heart, and the assurance of peace in all that I do. The lies that fly my way will not prevail! 

May you walk in courage today as well!

The Pages of Your Life

Books, I love to read books. There's always a new story, new information, words put in a new way. Books are full of endless possibilities. As I've mentioned many times, reading is an everyday event for me. I recently finished reading the book of John in the Bible. so good! I love the Passion Translation mostly because it's poetic. Brian Simmons, the translator has a way of flowing words together that resonate deeply with me.  A great example of this is John 3:16. "For this is how much God loved the world-he gave his uniquely conceived Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life."  God sent His Son, Jesus, so that we will have eternal life! Right now, today. "God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!" Jesus did not come to live on earth so he could go around and point out everybody's sin. His purpose was not to condemn us or judge us, but instead to love us. All of us. Jesus himself received a lot of judgement and condemnation because of the company he kept. He hung out with prostitutes, drunkards, people with major health issues, and rebels. He ate with them, walked with them, became involved in their lives. He told them stories.

I think this in itself is pretty convicting. I mean, how often do I hang with prostitutes? Is it in my weekly schedule to go to the local bar and just listen to people? When's the last time I visited the sick?  What about you? How would you answer these questions?  

It can be challenging to love others the way Jesus loves us. I've been praying about it a lot. I can see that one factor that gets in the way is fear. God says that there is no fear in perfect love, I do not have a perfect love. When I consider living a radical life like Jesus did, I know that things are going to have to change. The pages in my book cannot be laced with fear. Fear of safety, fear of what someone might think, fear of inability. The fears can be endless if we let them, right? 

What is keeping you from living love on every single page of your story? Radical, intense love?  

Or, maybe you do, and I admire that. It's a mama bear kind of love that is willing to put ourselves out there for all of God's children. Now, I've been a mama bear before when I believed my children were being threatened. I've also been chased by a real mama bear, and it's no picnic.  When I think of the intensity of those moments, I think of how much bigger, stronger the love of God is for me. HE SENT HIS SON! This is a lot of love. He drove love through all the fear and saved His children so that they could live!  His finger was not shaking up and down at us proclaiming all our shameful ways, no, no. Instead His arms were open wide to us with love. He wrote our destiny in our books with great care and love.

"The Light of God has now come into the world, but the hearts of people love their darkness more than the Light, because they want the darkness to conceal their evil. So the wicked hate the Light and try to hide from it, for their lives are fully exposed in the Light. But those who love the Truth will come out into the Light and welcome its exposure, for the Light will reveal that their fruitful works were produced by God." versus 19-21

How many times do we stay hidden because the fear of exposure overwhelmes us? The Truth of his Light bids us to come to him and be released from the darkness, to let the fear go. I have stayed hidden on more than one occasion because I did not trust that his Light would be safe and free. Once I stepped into his Light and truth, the love of his warmth enveloped me. This is how Light works. This is what he writes in our books, Light, truth, relief from the blinding darkness.

What are you afraid of? Is there something that holds you back? 

Father God, because of Your gift to us, your Son, eternal life is ours! Your love, intense and passionate, has the light and power to drive out all fear. Open the pages of our life and reveal who you are!

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