Year in Review

It feels like it's been a pretty big year for me. The first full year in my house, going through all the seasons and craziness. The first time paying property taxes (gulp), first time leading a ministry that's lasted a full year (and counting!). It's been a year of intentionally thinking through future plans and thinking about what I want to do with my life. So here's what happened this year: (according to my blog at least):

I rang in the New Year a little belligerent
I'm still working on this one. Although I found this great picture that helped me get over the awkward, "Where is Jesus?" question. Because I felt like if I could picture myself in a conversation with him it would help me talk to him more. So I found a picture of a rickety old dock looking out at a sunrise over the water. I imagine we're just sitting at the end of the dock with our feet in the water chatting. Some of my best conversations with him in 2008 came at the end of a dock like that in the Florida Keys.

I did not end up reading through the entire bible.
Leviticus kicked my ass and I retreated like a beaten puppy into the Psalms and New Testament.

I struggled with what it means to truly repent, and I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Washington Project launched!
I am staggered by the fact that I am allowed to lead something as cool a Washington Project and the way that God is moving through it with both the people we serve and those that serve each week. Most of the time I feel lost in the wilderness of leading, but the moments it comes into focus and I see all the connections God made and is continuing to make I am awestruck by his majesty.

I never got those tattoos I was thinking about getting.

I kept fighting the good fight against the darkness and found a lovely confidant that encourages me more than she will ever really know.

I discovered Crystal Renaud and her Dirty Girls ministry by spelunking through some blogs. I am so excited about what God is doing through her and can't wait to see where He takes this lovely young woman. She is creating an amazing resource for women in the grips of addictions to pornography in a world where there are very very few.

I started addressing my intense fear of killers. This was also known as the end of my torrid love affair with CSI and Criminal Minds

I decided to start telling the funny, scary and sometimes completely made up memories that I have

I went to Cancun! I also went Radio Silent for a week. No Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Texts or Phone other than to reassure my family I arrived safe. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. That was also when I quit casually puffing away for good. Not that you could tell by this heinous cough I have going on right now.

I realized that I do not in fact 'got this' and came face to face with the reality about someone, and have been trying to adjust to a new reality in that relationship.

I read this post 4 times to myself and 3 times out loud and cried each and every time. Read it.

I had a really scary dream about my disobedience to what God was asking me to do.

I began to try to deal with my grief once and for all so that it doesn't cripple me every spring. I began to try to deal head on with an obsession and secret cut that I just picked at so much it couldn't heal.

I shook under the majesty of God, realizing for what seemed like the first time just how big and good he is.

I learned the cost of owning your own home is beaten out of you by the lawn.

I started settling into leading Washington Project and was blown away by the way I was being refined and developed through leadership.

On a lovely spring day I confessed my torrid love affair with Rainbow Sprinkles and discussed other lovely things happening in my life.

I had a lot of great conversations about compassion and serving and what that should look like. Outreach in a cozy suburban community is still outreach, because even people with nice houses and a savings account need Jesus.

I also thought about honesty and if it was really always the best policy. I think it is, I had a lovely conversation with Cody about it almost 6 months later that was pretty good about the same topic.

I realized that even though I felt like people often stole pieces of me that I was still complete and whole in Christ regardless of anything else that happens in my life.

I became drunk with power while tearing down my privacy fence. On a bobcat.

I thought a lot (A LOT) about being single. Turning 30 put a couple watch target on my back and until just a year ago I was the ONLY single person in my friend group in Cincinnati. I'm still thinking through it and getting surprised by baggage I forgot even existed.

I turned 30! I celebrated by writing about 30 people that have deeply influenced my life and changed who I was by their being in my life however briefly.

I thought about the kind of girl I am and how I feel afraid a lot.

I was grievously injured tearing down the back line of my privacy fence and saw bone. No one else believed me.

I forgot that I was the girl Jesus loves.

I posted some pre-blogger blogs from when I started writing again on MySpace. It included one of my favorite things that I've written.

I had a really hard conversation with someone I love and started to feel pretty beat up by the world in general. I'm just now starting to come out of feeling that way.

I tried to stop picking at the cracks and learn to see myself a little clearer.

I met a crazy lady one Monday night after hearing from God that morning. She said the exact same words to me that He did and taught me to breathe again.

I figured out it was useless to try to be this put together girl that I am not. Now I just have to figure out how to let other people in. I'm afraid and when I'm afraid I stiffen up and just try to hold on until the uncomfortable passes..

I read a book that's still kicking my butt and grappled with the idea that I'm still very much broken.

I was not amused by something being so gay.

I hired a trainer and started a melodramatic journey intentional weight loss. Something I'd never really done on purpose in my 30 years of life.
Hot Trainer dumped me for Funny Trainer. But it all worked out in the end.

Remember how I felt beat up by the world. By this point I was freaking out, but refusing to tell anyone but finding myself incapable of dealing with the world.
But all was not lost, lovely things happened too, just often enough to help me retain my hope.

I started facing the truth of a thousand lies and kept on chucking out more and more baggage that I was tired of tripping over.

God let me know that while I knew the truth about him I probably didn't really believe it, at least not for myself.

I was invited on a trip to husbandland by a 5 year old. But he didn't know where it was located.

I stumbled across JJ Heller and Alece at almost the same time. It was balm to a heart that felt pretty tattered.

I fell in love with this quote from Beth Moore and learned I have to many toys in my head from my nephew.

I started sleeping a lot to avoid stresses I just didn't want to deal with. I woke up one night smelling popcorn and hurling terrible hateful words at myself. I wondered where my place was.

I celebrated Christmas with a wicked head cold that I'm still fighting and read 2 books in 2 days. My mind was panting trying to keep up with all the awesome.

It was a good year, a dramatic year. A year filled with hope, disappointment, determination, and excitement. I'm exhausted. But I hear time doesn't take any breaks, 2010 here I come!


Allure of Hope

My friend Mel sent me Allure of Hope: God's Pursuit of a Woman's Heart by Jan Meyer. I only a little into it, but it's really good so far.

"We are far more disciplined than we are at rest, far more committed than winsome, far more 'nice' than passionate, far more dutiful than free. Far more weary than filled with hope."

"It's hard -moving into life while carrying around an unmet hope or desire."

"Hope remembers things lost and envisions things not yet known."

"When did the cards we write turn from whimsy to practicality? When did openheartedness turn to skittishness and timidity? What was being whispered to us as these changes occurred?

"We quietly questions whether there is enough loveliness in us to keep others engaged with out hearts."

"We think of hope as something "out there" that we either find or lost. The reality is, hope is something that rises up inside of us with a gentle strength that requires a response. We either respond to it with out hearts or we try to push it down. Responding to it brings a deepened sense of thirst, a deepened ache. Responding to it reminds of us what it truly means to be a woman. Trying to push it down is another story altogether. Notice I sad "trying" to push it down. Hope is tenacious. Hope always finds us again."

"Why do we insist on telling each other, in ways we perhaps don't intend, that trusting God means making an orderly existence for ourselves, that growing in godliness means we become increasingly satisfied and complete? We tell each other to remember that the suffering will end, but we say these words from hearts that haven't entered the bloody, hot, fierce environment of birth pains. Can our words be trusted?"

"We want freedom from the ache. We want to control the level of groaning in our life. Our search for relief is utterly foolish, yet we demand it with fervor every time we shit off the whispers in our hearts - the whisper to dream, the whisper to acknowledge a current disappointment, the whisper to remember something or someone lost. We desire the thrill of a newborn cry without the months of anticipation and hours of labor-ridden hell."

"Jesus' life was not sterile. He consistently plunged into the unclean places of people's lives and hearts. Not much about it was organized or even made sense. But His life was saturated with vision, and He lived out of a deep sense of mission that propelled Him to take the dusty steps to the most egregious of all birthing places: the cross of Calvary."


Hunger Games

I bought my niece two books for Christmas. They're young adult fiction and come highly recommended by some people on a forum I hang out on (or is it at?). It's a series, the first book is The Hunger Games and the second is Catching Fire.

Christmas Day I cracked open The Hunger Games just to see what it was about and 6 hours later I put the book down finished. It was so good. The 26th I cracked open Catching Fire (because I had to find out what happned!) and 5 hours later it was done too. Amazing.
It's been so long since I've read books that fast. My brain was panting when I put down Catching Fire from trying to keep up with reading the book. I'm definitely going to have to read them again, slower.

The Hunger Game is an annual reminder in the nation of Panem that the Districts (Districts 1-12) are dependent on them for their survival and safety and that any rebels will be dealt with accordingly, like District 13 (which was firebombed, ending the previous uprisings in Panem). Each year 1 girl and 1 boy "tribute" must be selected randomly from all 12-18 year old boys and girls. The 24 tributes from all 12 districts are then put in an arena and they fight to the death on camera. The last tribute standing is the victor. Watching the games is required television.
Katniss is the protagonist and she is already accustomed to survival.
Katniss is a survivor that often has no idea how to interact with people.

It's amazing. Don't let the young adult aspect scare you off. These books are amazing, well written, thought provoking and just good.
Read them. Today.
Also, read them so we can go to a midnight launch party when the 3rd book comes out in August. Because I don't want to go by myself.


The Once Over

Almost two weeks ago I was at the gym working out with Funny Trainer (FT). He gets that name because he is funny. Most of the time I'm working out with him I have either a stupid grin on my face or a scowl (because he's mean and makes me super exert myself).
We were towards the end of our session and he was having me do these calf push up things. I'm standing on the ball of my left foot, with my right foot hooked behind my ankle and I'm raising myself up and down. FT says something stupid and I laugh.
Then I see him. HT. Walking towards us.

But I can't stop smiling. I keep thinking about the stupid thing that FT said and how it's funny. I think about how hot HT is. I think about how I would give almost anything to amputate my left calf at this moment in time because it flippin burns!
HT asks FT a question, I choose this moment to give HT the once over. Because....well....because he's HOT people. He is HOT.
Picture it, me in all my sweaty not in shape glory bobbing up and down on one foot with a big stupid grin on my face oogling HT.

As my eyes traveled back up to his face (his very cute face) I notice that his eyes are on mine. He smiles a funny little smile and says, "Well hello Bethany."
I immediately avert my eyes and begin desperately searching the ground around my little torture device (also known as exercise machine) for some sort of hole to disappeer into. FT whips around and rolls his eyes at me and says, "Love you, bye" (which is oddly what he says at the end of every session...)
I gratefully sprint into the womens locker room and slink out to my car.
As I'm sitting in the car waiting to regain feeling in my calves it hits me.

HT remembered my name.

I think that means we're getting married next weekend. Hope you can all make it!


No Idea

Dear You Have No Idea:

I can't remember ever meeting you, and I'm sure I would remember because I can't remember a time that I didn't want to punch you in the face. You have absolutely no idea how lucky you are to have her in your life every day. Every.Day.
She shows up early, stays late and does everything you ask her to do and more. She has taken on your personal disasters as well as your professional ones and she prays for you to meet Jesus and be transformed by him.

Yet you insist on belittling her, wiping the floor with her and mocking her openly. I don't care that you've had a bad day, I don't care that things are falling apart in your life. Many of those things are of your own doing. You are a grown woman. Take responsibility for your own life and stop being such a massive wench to my friend.
She is lovely. She is kind, gentle, generous, hilarious, intelligent and a beloved child of a big God. I generally try to be an even keeled person that isn't prone to violance but I swear I have no idea if I will be able to keep from smacking you across the face if I ever get to be in the same room as you.

I live 3 hours away from her. I miss her every day. Every minute. I would give anything to be able to see her as often as you do and you take it for granted.
It just makes me so mad!

One who knows how amazing she is

PS: You especially suck for making her cry so hard on her BIRTHDAY


You say I am Worthy

Bundled up, surrounded by lyrics and words on a page reminding me that I am worthy. Reminding me that the chill of a disregard so deep and wide I can't recall ever being able to see past it.

Typing into the night, reassuring myself that the words flicked carelessly from the tongues of women so unhappy are no longer true, if they ever were.

You say that I am worthy.
You say I am lovely.
You say I am a friend.
You called me out of death and let me try again.
You say I am beloved.
You say I am clean.
You show me all the beauty that you see in me.

I know that she’s a liar when I look into her eyes
But I believe in every word she says
She’s out to start a fire burning everything I have
I can’t put it out ’cause it’s all inside my head
And then you sing
I hear you sing

You call me lovely
You call me friend
You call me out of death and let me try again
You call me beloved
You call me clean
Then you show me all the beauty that you see in me

I still hear her whisper and sometimes I hear her shout
You’re not good enough and you will never be
But if I focus on your singing I can start to tune her out
’Cause you came with a love to set me free

I know that you love me enough to die
And I will try to see the value that you place on me
And you say I’m worthy
-All the Beauty (Kati's Story) JJ Heller

Posts that may only be slightly related:
Bad Girl


Soft Place to Land

Today was a hard day. Full of hard people. I mean it's all very middle class white girl hard but I felt very beat up today.
Comments that would normally roll off my back stuck like barbed wire in my heart.
I drove home, hoping for a soft place to land.
There was my bed. There were my cats. But sometimes, as was explained so clearly this afternoon....that sort of just makes me feel like the crazy cat lady.
Which is stupid. Because I don't feel that way.
I don't feel lame. I don't feel like a crazy cat lady. I'm happy. With this little put together life with friends and family that I love.
I know that if push came to shove there were hundreds of places I could have gone tonight and they all would have offered me a soft place to land.
Sometimes though, they don't always feel like my soft place to land.

It's ok really. In this discontent I'm changing. I'm finding more of the girl that God is calling me to be. The big picture, that isn't lost in all the hard middle class white girl problems and the mind numbing monotony of house keeping and paying bills, is that all of this is refining me and developing me into who I'm supposed to be.

But some days...some days I look around and wonder if I will ever feel like I've found my very own safe place to land. One that waits for me at home, or even somewhere else. It's easy, and would be most convenient for many people if this safe place were a husband, or at the very least a boyfriend. It might even be most convenient for me, because then I wouldn't have to feel like I had to explain myself over and over again when I am declared less than through sideways glances and innocuous questions that add up to the same total: alone.

Like I said; most days it just rolls right off my back. Most days I completely grasp and understand in the moments people call my life lame, my plans, the things that bring me joy lame, when they seem to look upon my little contented life with pity because I'm not swinging from the ceiling with some hot young man to (as someone put it recently) "release some of that tension" (and let me not actually get into the idea that is is somehow ok for people to tell me openly that I just need to go hook up with someone and have sex because I don't have a boyfriend or husband so therefore my whole problem with life must surely only be that I'm not getting laid). I understand where they're coming from, what it is they are looking for and therefore what they think I should also be looking for. Most days I'm ok with it.

It's the other days. The middle class white girl hard days when I look around and wonder where my soft place to land is, and if it will ever show itself. I wonder if someone forgot to make me a soft place to land, a shelter from a world that feels really hard some days. It's that kind of day that I had today.

More and more though, I'm seeing glimpses of it; a soft place to land. I'm wondering if I'm brave enough to commit to it.

You’re different from the way I thought you’d be
But here you are in front of me
So full of light I watch it overflow
A lovely mystery

And I am lost for words
You’re more than I deserve

You have a way of stirring up my soul
Did you know
When you hold me in your arms the way you do
It feels like coming home

And I am lost for words
You’re more than I deserve
And when I cannot stand
You are where I land

And when the years have stolen youth away
I will stay
You will be the keeper of my heart
Until my final day
- Where I Land JJ Heller

Posts that may only be related:
Do you know

By the way: I'm disabling the comments on this post. Because I know a lot of the people that read here (all 5 of you) and I know that you will all be quick to protest that I can land with you. You will post supportive and funny things about wanting names so you can kick ass on my behalf. Which I appreciate. But for this post, I just sort of want to sit in the discontent by myself for a bit.



I went to bed at 830pm last night and slept until 630am. I've been feeling a bit down lately and I have no good reason (or any reason really) why. It could be that winter is coming, the daylight doesn't stick around as long, the thoughts this past weekend stirred up, the heinous workout FT made me do on Tuesday. It could be any of those things and none of those things.
But one thing is for certain. I'm feeling run down and run out. My defenses are down and I'm feeling quite susceptible to the slightest criticism or affront. I'm feeling quite exposed and vulnerable which drives me to withdrawal from life.

Laying in bed last night it started again. Slowly, like popcorn when you first put it in the microwave. There's nothing but this feeling that something is about to happen. Then a pop here, a pop there every so many seconds.
"This is stupid" *pop*
"Snap out of it" *pop*
"Nobody loves you" *pop*

Minutes pass with a pop here, a pop there. I scrunch my eyes closed, praying, trying to stave off the onslaught I feel is coming (do I make it come by thinking it will?).
"You're stupid, you're fat" *pop pop*
"You'll fail, why even try" *pop pop*

I begin to pray out loud, trying to drown out the crazy in my head. Not again, no more. This isn't the truth, this isn't who I am, this isn't who God has created me to be.

The temperature hits just the right level and all the kernels begin to explode.
"Fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, nasty, selfish, bad, ridiculous, embarrassing, the tasks you complete make people give a shit about you..otherwise they wouldn't, it's what you do that gives you worth not just who you are, why even try they'll all laugh at you anyway, you're inconvenient, troublesome, annoying"
*pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop*

I make these thoughts self fulfilling when I keep them to myself. When I don't lance the wounds and let it air out. By withdrawing I don't let people in, when I don't let them in they can't come in. When they don't come in, even when it's because I don't let them I assume it's because they think those same libelous thoughts about me.
So I try to contain it, hide it, sweep it under the covers I pull over my head.
It never works, it won't this time.

I'm trying to just get over it. I'm trying to believe the truth instead of the lies. Today I just feel like that's another thing I'm failing at, proving all of the lies to be true.

Posts that may only be slightly related:
Pete Gall
Knowing the truth


A Minefield Undetected

Well it came & caught us off our guard
We were just laughin'
Feelin' alright
Had such a great time just last night

We walked into a minefield undetected
You took a tone
I took offense
Anger replacing all common sense

Oh, run for your life
All tenderness is gone
In the blink of an eye
All goodwill has withdrawn
We mark out our paces
And stare our from our faces
Baby, you & I are gone, gone, gone

Incomprehensible, layers of isolation
Now you're the man with a heart of stone
Making me pay by being alone
Soon you will justify righteous indignation
Now I'm a woman who holds all her pain
Looking for somebody else to blame


We hold all the keys to our undoing
Cutting me down in small degrees
You know my worst insecurities
I'm making no effort to understand
No one can hurt you like I can
Deep down inside the girl's waking up
She's going to look to the boy she loves

It's me
Oh, baby, it's me

How in the world can tenderness be gone - in the blink of an eye?
Ohh, how in the world can tenderness be gone - in the blink of an eye?

"It's Me" -Sara Groves


Like a Lake

so much hurt and preservation
like a tendril round my soul
so much painful information
no clear way on how to hold it

when everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

standing at this waters edge
looking in at God's own heart
I've no idea where to begin
to swallow up the way things are

everything in me is drawing in
closing in around this pain
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it's over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can't fake
wide open like a lake

everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I am fighting to stay open
I am fighting to stay open
open open oh wide open
open like a lake

- "Like A Lake" Sara Groves