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ifyouaskbetty

Thoughts and feelings on random stuff you did and didn't want to know.

Harvest What You Plant

You only harvest what you plant. 

Think about that.  You can only harvest what you plant.  So if you plant anger and resentment, that’s what you will harvest.  If you plant joy and peace, you will harvest joy and peace.  If you plant nothing, you will harvest nothing. You get what I am saying?  

Galatians 6:7-8 (NLT) says “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”

I can’t help but connect this is my mind to another passage. One that is also about progression, growth, and in my opinion harvesting what you planted.  

James 1:14-15 (NLT) says “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”   

Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.  Death. Not sickness. Not sadness. Not separation from God. Not discomfort.  Not inconvenience.  Not even unhappiness. Death. 

Not necessarily bodily death.  Death of relationships.  Death of self esteem.  Death of trust.  Death of dreams.  Death in the sense of the end of something that was once alive.  Permanent end.  Forever.

When we sin, we should expect to ultimately harvest death.  When we obey, we should expect to ultimately harvest life. 

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Chances Are..

Chances are that I am not who you think I am. Chances are my journey is not like yours and yet exactly the same.

Chances are that relationship that you are holding onto so tight is already dead. Chances are it’s slowly driving you mad.   Chances are the key to your happiness is to let go and let God be the caretaker.

Chances are that horrible thing that happened -that terrible thing you went through – that ordeal that no human should ever have to face or survive….chances are that is not the worst thing that will ever happen to you. Chances are that more obstacles and challenges are coming your way.

Chances are the closer we get to our calling, the more opposition we will face and the harder things will become. Chances are the more we obey, the more difficult even the simplest things will seem.

Chances are you are tremendously blessed, no matter how you feel. Chances are you don’t even realize it.  Chances are that you already have everything you need to overcome anything life throws at you.

Chances are Jesus can show you how to use the tools you have been given.  Chances are He really is all that you need. 

What if….

What if…. what if part of my calling is to help those who are grieving? What if that is what God plans to make out of all of this?  When I think about why I have experienced so much loss over time and even in this short amount of time lately (more has happened that I have not been able to share), I just think maybe this is part of preparing me to serve and minister to others in the future.

And I have to say – I am not a fan.  I don’t like experiencing this to learn how to help others.  I like to help others but would really appreciate learning something less painful.

What if….my calling is to help women?  With all kinds of issues – grief, loss, raising kids, dealing with addictions, dealing with mental illness, self image..

What if that is my calling?   

Marathon Betty

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On January 10, 2016 I became a marathoner.  But the story started long before that.  Months of training and long runs all led up to that glorious day.  I call it glorious now…because its over.  That day I was not feeling like it was glorious at all.

My alarm went off at 2am.  Yep  2am – the middle of the night.  I got up and got decked out in all my running gear.  Let me help you understand my state of mind.  I am going to run at Disney – one of my most favorite places on the planet.  I should be excited right? Ecstatic even?  I wasn’t.  I was dreading it and had been for at least a month.  The long monotonous training had really made me disenchanted with the whole running thing.  I had been struggling in my pace and the 20lbs I had gained this year really slowed me down.  Running is a discipline of the mind.  Your legs and body CAN do it – its your mind that holds you back.  My mind had decided I sucked at running.

Anyways, got ready and David drove me to Epcot and dropped me off at about 3:30am.  Hated that I had to walk to gear check by myself – for me running is very communal.  It’s all about the peeps you run with.  But I knew I was meeting Cindy and Amy and I was looking forward to that.  It was about a half mile walk from the drop off site to gear check.  Checked my gear.  First porta potty stop.  Met up with Cindy and Amy.  Group pic with some peeps from my running group that were also there.  Cindy had planned to help me write  two names on my arms. On my right arm she wrote Beth, for my cousin who passed away this past June. On my left arm she wrote Amanda, for my running friend that passed away  in July.  I ran mile 13 for Amanda and mile 21 for Beth.  I just wanted to honor them in this run.

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We headed to the start line – about a mile away – corralled and packed like cattle.  Second porta potty stop.  Cindy and Amy were in Corral J.  They decided they wanted to stay with me in Corral M.  That was very sweet of them and I accepted their offer.

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Disney does nothing halfway.  Every corral got the same high quality send off including an announcer, a genuine Mickey Mouse countdown and fireworks.

We started our race at 6:23am.  I was on the struggle bus from the start.  Run walking but slow.  First five miles were ok – two more porta potty stops (one that took several minutes of waiting) and a couple character stops.  I continued to struggle. 

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Cindy and Amy stayed with me.  We had a couple conversations where I told them that they could go on without me and I would not be mad.  They were staying and would only leave if they were going to get swept (if you get too far behind they pull you from the race and you don’t get to finish).  Cindy knew that my commitment level was high but my engagement level was low – she had watched it tank while we were training.

Throughout the race, people kept yelling “Go Amanda”  or “Go Beth”. It took me a minute to realize that they thought my name was Amanda or Beth because the name was on my arm. I smiled and waved every time they said it because it made me so happy that they were shouting their names at this race.

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Another porta potty stop around mile 17 and the next thing I knew the balloon ladies were right behind us.  The balloon ladies are the pacers that determine who gets to keep going and finish and who gets swept.  You wanna be with or in front of them in order to not get swept.  A volunteer told us that we were just 30 seconds ahead of them.  Talk about terror.  Cindy and Amy moved ahead and I was still struggling – now with fear too.  A thousand thoughts about how there is no way I can keep up this pace for the next 8 miles and I cant believe I paid all this money for a vacation with my family and I am not even gonna get to finish.  No more porta potty stops now – there was no time.  The chatterbox was on a rampage.

Then I looked over and I was literally shoulder to shoulder with the balloon lady.  I started to lose it – I was totally gonna start crying during this marathon.  I felt super defeated.  We crossed mile 18 and the sweep bus pulled up.

I started praying “God move my legs!  God move my legs!” and I sprinted forward for about 15 seconds.  Stopped to walk for about 15 seconds then sprinted again.  It was working.  I felt like I might vomit but I was putting room between me and the balloon ladies.  I stopped the negative chatter, started the positive self talk and just kept sprinting and walking and praying God move my legs.

Then something took over.  I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit or delirium (my money is on the Spirit) but I just started shouting the positive self talk to others around me.  It was as if it wasn’t loud enough in my own head, so I started shouting it thinking it might help someone else.  As I would sprint I would yell “Keep Going!  You can do this!”  It was working.  It was keeping my legs moving and I was continuing to add space between me and the balloon ladies. 

I did it for 8 miles.  Sprint and yell and then slow and walk.  Repeat.  Most people responded positively.  I got a few ugly looks and a couple snide comments, but overall it seemed to help morale so I kept doing it.  Around mile 21 I caught up with Cindy and Amy.  Cindy was so excited and surprised to see me!  (she is the sweetest and kindest person you will ever meet)  Amy was hurting bad but I told her to keep going.  I think I said “keep going” at least 150 times during those miles.  I came alongside others and chatted with them briefly and encouraged them that they can do this – that they are doing this – right now.  That helped them dig deep – and ME it was HELPING ME!  

I was running alongside real champions.  A man that was probably about 68 years old or more that was completing the Dopey Challenge (4 consecutive days of races : 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon) – I told him I was proud of him.  He returned the compliment.  I came upon two ladies wearing shirts that said on the back “Through Christ”.  As I approached I began to shout, “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME!”  They agreed and one began to tear up.  I said “You are doing it now!  You are doing it!  He is in you and He is moving your legs right now!”

Even after they told us we were safe and there were no more bus pick ups, I kept doing it – sprinting and shouting and slowing and walking.  I don’t know what came over me, but it got me to the finish line.  And a few other people too.  One lady thanked me on the course – another after the race.  She said “thanks you really helped me get through those last couple miles”.

Mile 25 is always the longest. Well really any last mile of any race or training is the longest. I’m sure you can guess why. But we finished. Cindy, Amy, & I crossed the finish line hands held high together. It was a real victory for all of us.

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When we were training, I remember telling Cindy and Amy that I wanted to make sure that my run glorified God. That I was struggling to figure out what’s the best way to do that. I really wanted this marathon to have a meaning and a purpose for Him.  I didn’t really want it to be all about me.  That’s part of why I didn’t tell a lot of people at least not publicly on Facebook or anything like that until late in the game.

When I found a shirt that said “Run with Purpose” I thought – that’s it!! What I didn’t realize at the time was that His purpose was to use me at the actual race itself. I am thrilled that all of that training came to good use to help others.  Afterall, that is my calling, my mission, my purpose – to help other people in their journey.

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Thoughts on the Day He Died

He died today.
Okay maybe not today, but nine years ago today. It’s such a strange feeling to remember the day someone died before you remember the day of their birth. That is definitely not the way it’s supposed to happen. How do you survive something like this? How do you move forward without someone who was supposed to be with you for the rest of your life? How do you get over the fact that even though you were carrying him, he didn’t make it? How do you not feel like that’s your fault?

No one should ever know what it’s like to lose a child.
But there are people who lose children every single day. Although every experience is different, there are some similarities that these people who have lost all share. Whether you were able to have your child in your life for many years, only a few, or you really only got to have the dream of that child for a little while – you know and understand the devastating loss and its effect on your life. It doesn’t get easier. You don’t necessarily get stronger. But somehow you move forward.

Grief comes in waves.
Sometimes they’re a hundred feet tall, sometimes there just short little bursts. I have gone months without having strong feelings of grief or anxiety from it, and then I’ve gone moments, hours and been just inundated over and over with thoughts and feelings relating to loss. You don’t get to choose this cycle. You just have to learn to cope. It’s ridiculous. It’s stupid. It’s dumb. Yes it’s all those things, but it is the hand we’ve been dealt in this life. 

I believe nobody knows and understands loss better than God.  He gave his son for us. He gave his son’s life so that we could all live.  As I was moving through my grief, seeing counselors, studying to try to understand or find some semblance of understanding, and generally just trying to move forward, I found myself focusing on this fact. I found myself studying Jesus, not so much his life – although his life is remarkable and worthy of years and years of study. But I studied his death.  Specifically I studied Gethsemane. Because Gethsemane shows that Jesus also understood loss – not because he lost a child, but because he was about to lose his life. He was about to willingly give it up.

I also studied Mary, his mother.
I paid attention to her role at the end of Jesus life and I also tried to really imagine what it must have been like to be her. To watch your son, whom you love so much, the son that God gave you immaculately, the one that everyone loved, the one that everyone followed,  the Savior,  the one you believe was the promised one from God – to watch him be falsely accused and beaten and nailed to a cross and hung there to die.  That is loss in its most raw form.

I also try imagine that she didn’t know the magnitude of the sacrifice that was being made. She didn’t know that he was saving the entire world. He had said that, but I don’t believe that anyone in that time understood what that really and truly meant. But she knew that her son, the baby that she took care of, the little boy that she nurtured, the man that she followed – she knew that her son was dead. That’s really painful.  The kind of pain that can’t be described with words. A gut wrenching pain that inhabits your entire body and pierces all of your emotions. It is utterly indescribable.

I remember when I was going through all of the emotions not long after Charlie passed, that the biggest fear I had was that we would go on with our lives and forget about him. Most days that’s realized -at least by everybody else. And really it’s kind of how it should be.  We should move on and live happy lives. I just know that I am forever changed.

Say the name of Jesus

This past Sunday morning I woke up feeling rough.  I was anxious.  I felt insignificant, incompetent, and left behind.  Telling you the details of why I might have felt this way will only feed the evil that whispered these false lies into my ear in the first place, so I will refrain as they really don’t matter.

I left the house early for church in search of some alone time.  Found myself at a coffee shop, went in, ordered a coffee and sat down.  In true Betty form, I had hauled with me more than enough to do – a book, my tablet, my planner, etc.  I just sat there for a minute.  The place was empty.  Just me.  I honestly felt like it was kinda hard to breathe.  The anxiety was like a chokehold around my neck.  I began to pray.

I prayed for my family.  I prayed for the ones who treated me wrong and furthered my sense of inadequacy.  I began to pray for myself, that God would lift the anxiety – afterall, I had two services to serve at today and lots of peeps to talk to at church…in like 15 minutes.  I needed this silliness to end and move on.  And then, almost audibly, I began to hear – but Betty, you deserve to feel this way.  Look at the sin in your life – this is your punishment.  You don’t get to feel better.  Suddenly I knew, this was an attack.  I was under attack and I knew exactly how to break it.

The enemy is present in our lives.  He is watching us.  He speaks to us and tells us terrible lies.  His strongest desire is for us to do less than our best for the Kingdom of God. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  As a child, I memorized this verse and always imagined a lion walking around me with his mane flowing in the breeze.  It was a little comical to me and seemed more of a fantasy.  As an adult, I feel his hot breath on the back of my neck.  I have something to do for the Kingdom and he wants nothing more than to distract and derail me.

I set my forehead on the table at the coffee shop, and began to speak out loud.  Not loudly, but out loud to be sure the enemy could hear me.  I said to him, ” In the name of Jesus Christ these feelings of insignificance and being left behind need to go.  This is not who God says I am.  God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  That I am important to Him.  That I impact Him.  That I matter.  The feelings of incompetence are lies and I am deciding right now not to believe them.”  Something amazing happened.  I sat there, still and quiet for a minute.  And tears began to flood my eyes and I felt those feelings leave. I physically felt them leave. They HAD to leave!

There is power in the name of Jesus.  I can’t say that I instantly felt 100% better and had no further insecurity.  But I can say that I felt much better, and by the time I got to church, those feelings were completely gone and stayed away most of the day.  There is power in the name of the One who gave it all.  I have not always been bold enough to use it – and I should be bolder.  He has given us authority over the enemy. (Luke 10:19)

We are in an epic battle against the forces of the enemy. (Ephesians 6:12) God has provided us with the tools and equipment to fight valiantly and courageously. One of those tools..perhaps the easiest to use of all..is the name of Jesus.

Listen to Your Great Name by Natalie Grant:
http:// https://youtu.be/3zpLPh6LibE

Running From

You might not know this but I am a runner.  I run.  On purpose.  Usually 3 times a week.  I run because for the first time in life, I can. 

Recently, I was philosophizing with my Aunt BJ, and as we were working hard to solve all the world’s problems and mine while we were at it, she said to me..what are you running from?  It’s a good question.  One I have pondered long before she dared to ask.  I know the answer.

Nothing

I am not running from anything.  I am running toward something.  Fame?  Glory?  Nah.  Faster times?  More medals?  Nope.  Not at all.  Healthy body?  Smaller frame?  It’s a bonus, but not my goal – not what I am running towards.

I am running towards the future – the hope that I have for what will come to be.  Every mile gets me closer.  Every moment brings me nearer.  Every time I conquer another barrier – another something that I thought I could never do – I get just a little closer to being me. My best self.  Running reminds me that I can.  I can do “that”.  Whatever “that” is.  The thing that I used to limit myself with..I can overcome. 

I am running towards confidence.  The confidence that I am enough. Whatever my speed.  Whatever my route.  Whatever my destination, I am enough just as I am.   I run from nothing and no one. 

I am me. 

I am enough.

The Way You Really Love Them

I live my life loving people.  I believe that we only have one life and we are not guaranteed on how long it will last. 

With that in mind, I believe with my whole heart that you should love people the way you really love them.  In other words, love the people that you love on purpose. With intention.  Don’t let moments and time pass you by without letting them know how much you care. 

This doesn’t mean you have to fawn all over them.  But be intentional when you are with them.  Look at them when they speak – not at your phone.  Make eye contact.  Laugh together.  Sit next to them and do life together.  Make sure they know that they are special to you. 

Even those you are not close too..that have made an impact on your life and you can see it.  Make sure they know.  Tell them.  Right them a note.  Be bold. 

Be willing to be thought crazy or a stalker.  Because If you do, you will be remembered as someone who loved people. Someone who cared.  Someone who gave a damn.   Someone who brought out the best in people.  Someone who made a difference by being bold enough to show love directly and without apology.  Someone who was like Jesus.

Grief..it’s what’s for dinner.

Grief does not only apply when we have lost a loved one.  Grief does not discriminate that way – its not nearly that picky.  Grief occurs when we lose hopes and dreams.  When we lose large life changing expectations.  When we lose jobs.  When we lose relationships – romantic or friendships.  When we lose weight (you laugh – but ask anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight if they grieved that loss.  They did.).  When we lose part of ourselves and have to recover it somehow.  All of these are times of grief.

Grief is mean spirited.  It creeps up on you when are not looking and sits on your chest like an elephant – laughing.

When people grieve, the landscape of their relationships change.  Some people fall away naturally because they don’t know what to say – so they stop talking altogether.  When they are not talking, the relationship fades.  Sometimes new relationships are formed out of a bond that only those that are hurting can form.  Some relationships remain but they are forever changed because the one who is hurting is forever changed.

Right after Beth died, I told David I wanted a divorce.  I didn’t wanna go through what Matt was going through and I didn’t want him to either.  He was disinclined to acquiesce to my request.

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