Archive for May, 2014

As I heard my name spoken out loud that evening, my hands trembled and my throat tightened to swallow hard. My mind was racing as I seemed to float my way to the front of the classroom one week ago on a selected Thursday evening – an evening I decided to let one label stick. 

A week ago, I presented my first speech, notoriously named “The Icebreaker” to affirm my new Toastmasters membership (a club for those wanting to find their public speaking confidence and voice). Never before had I ever shared a speech, let alone a talk about my life. As I peered into the eyes of my fellow club members, most advanced in their public speaking passion, I felt like an ant amongst butterflies…starting as a caterpillar even seemed too far of a stretch. 

Yet, I decided to share my labels because I finally allowed one to stick that I was proud of. 

Below is my speech transcript. A side note to those of you in the Limitless Life Study – this speech that God put on my heart was crafted and delivered before I even cracked the cover of our book. Just this past weekend my jaw hit the floor as I read through the introduction for the first time. Indeed, our God has us right where He wants us to be. 

 

In life, we are handed many labels, whether we like them to define us or not. Labels can be handed to us from circumstances, others or even our own markings. But tonight friends I want you to remember – 

A label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

“Disabled”

I was born with vision-loss in both eyes, severe hearing-loss in both ears and a right arm that was considerably smaller (most would say even weaker) than my left. The label “Disabled” loomed over me like a brick. Yet, this label did have its advantages. I was able to purchase contacts for half-off being I only had good enough vision in one eye. Hearing the world for most was a necessity, but with hearing-aids any unnecessary noise for me could instantly become optional through the “off” switch. If you ever want to witness a stranger squirm, watch an instantaneous prayer circle as the new friend on my right tries to decide if it’s descent to hold my right hand or not (I for one have enjoyed this reaction). 

Yet, as I accepted this label, I suffered with feeling that I had absolutely no value. I heard the stories in church about this loving Creator God that made the moon shine bright as the stars. Yet, why would such a loving Creator simply stop when creating me? Why was I His mistake? The feeling and constant reality of my insignificance just ate away at my childhood. 

But, a label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

 

“Wife And Mom”

I never dreamed of a wedding, or collected bridal pictures or even really dated anyone until college. Why? Because girls with disabilities are told by wise and caring individuals (all married by the way) that sometimes God calls people to a single life (advice – don’t ever pitch this line to a single girl). I’m so thankful God had other plans. Just weeks before I was headed off to my first full-time position deep West, my boyfriend asks for my hand in marriage. Because he was completing his last year of college back East, we spent our one year engagement period literally on opposite ends of the country. Now…

9 years 

9 moves

3 dogs

3 kids

3 states

and way too many goldfish later – God still has us together and I accepted my new role as wife and mom. 

Although I like this label a lot better than the previous layer, it too shared weakness. I am a wife and a mom that constantly fights to measure-up to that woman appearing all-together, always organized, meeting everyone’s needs and summarizes Proverbs 31 perfectly each and everyday. So many nights I would crawl into bed feeling so far from hitting anywhere close to the ballpark parking-lot with my husband and kids. It’s hard to have a label that you never feel like you deserve. 

But a label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

 

“Cancer Survivor”

What started out as a month-long headache (literally) eventually revealed double malignant brain tumors. I did not welcome this label. Truthfully, there were days I could not talk to God because of the pain I felt was keeping us apart. I went from running around the yard with my two young boys to barely able to sit-up in bed without wrenching in pain. Lying next to my eldest son, then a 4 year-old, I was asked the question, “Mom, are you going to die?” For any mom to even think about this question, you honestly wish you could disappear just to allow your family an opportunity to move forward. Yet this question echoed in my mind the day I was told, “Mrs. Boring, we can’t locate the tumors on this scan. We will need to schedule a follow-up.” Many follow-ups later, with the same results, I finally entered into remission status. I wasn’t going anywhere and as a wife and a mom I gained the title of being a “Cancer Survivor.” 

As days, weeks and even months passed, I found it incredibly difficult to move past the trauma I had limped through. Under the “survivors pride” sat a little girl scared and frozen to move. Is this permanent? What can I do safely? Even with the unexpected birth of our third child, I wrestled through each rescan. I was defined by my past. 

A label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

 

“Child of God”

There is one label I just recently allowed to stick, pierce my heart, root in my core and change the way I view my identity. Because of Christ, I have the right to be labeled as a child of God. This changes everything. 

This is the only identity that welcomes Truth and allows me to overcome my disabilities, be the best wife and mom I was created to be and encourage others from my past.
GOD SAYS –
I may have disabilities but I am valuable.
In my role as a wife and mom, I belong to Him first.
I am a cancer survivor and I have a future being written daily by His hand.

A label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

I finally found a label I want to stick and I love the freedom it brings! 

And now Bethany, just as you accepted Me as your Lord, you must continue to follow Me. Let your roots grow down into Me, and let your life be built on Me. Then your faith will grow strong in the Truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT)

 

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A Birthday Wish

Posted: May 14, 2014 in Family, God Moments
Tags: ,

Today is my birthday. I celebrated the way most women with a hard working husband and three knee-high boys do – hello movie night! As I snuggled up with my three freshly washed boys, basking in the afterglow of the vanilla brownie sugar rush, I smiled in the simple reality that this had been the best birthday I had ever celebrated to date. 

No surprises. 

A simple card from my husband with the kids names sketched on the inside.

A homemade “Blondie” dessert my husband made for me before whisking off to work.

A quick stop at Taco Bell for my late lunch, in the drive-thru as my 1 year-old date finally crashed in the backseat. 

A kids movie that brought the entire clan from tears to cheers – “The Little Rascals Save The Day” right before bed. 

 

And you ask, “How in the world is this a birthday to remember?” 

Indeed, there were no big gifts and no breath-taking surprises. I enjoyed messes to clean-up and faces filled with endless sugar. But one very important detail of my normal birthday routine had changed…one very big desire had been met in an ultimately fulfilling way. 

For years I had silently struggled with my birthday. I would rise in the morning with my stomach twisted in knots, disappointed when others forgot to acknowledge my day, awkwardly trot through the failures of my previous year and of course vow to do better for the coming year. My birthday seemed to be more unwinding knots of confusion than enjoying a reason to celebrate. 

Until today. 

A passage that God has placed into my rooted foundation shouted in celebration all day today:

Even before I made the world, I loved you Bethany, and chose you in Christ to be holy and without fault in My eyes. I decided in advance to adopt you into My family by bringing you to Myself through Jesus Christ. This is what I wanted to do, and it gives Me great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:4, 5 NLT)

From the moment my head lifted…slowly, off the pillow, God spoke this Truth to my heart. He indeed called me forth with a purpose and a plan. My life is never overlooked by Him and this day, indeed is for celebration by Him, with Him and through Him. Smiling throughout my day today I saw each token of celebration so rewarding, like a gift from my Abba Himself. 

I had no need to wonder if anyone remembered me because He already had. 

This day was no longer about a number, but instead reconciling a Father-daughter relationship.

 I am not looking for others to fill any emptiness – He already has that covered. 

My worth is found in a Him first…everything else indeed has become icing on the cake.

 

So, just in case someone hasn’t told you – God chose you before the world was formed. When He created the salvation plan, my friend, He had your face in mind. You are never overlooked by Him. May you find freedom in the Truth that your life has meaning through Him today. 

Listening

Posted: May 4, 2014 in God Moments, Health, Uncategorized

Silence is pure agony to the one that feels alone, yet to the child of God it is an ordained appointment with Abba.

God brought me into existence with the gift of severe hearing loss in both ears. My world has no lack of noise. I am a wife and mom to three young boys. Therefore, when God decides to grab my attention early one morning by short-circuiting my hearing-aid during the craziness of the carpool routine, it throws a static blow to this mom’s world.

Silence is gut wrenching abandonment. Suddenly, I lost the ability to truly connect with my husband. My mind spiraled trying to interpret his body language, his temperament and my satisfaction rating. My mind rushed through the endless possibilities like a puppy playing fetch with my emotions. My boys temporarily lost their over-communicative mommy. Not even abruptly invented gestures could ease the barrier of finding a fishing experiment gone bad in the toilet…again.  

I found myself in tears one night feeling incredibly alone, and unprotected while trying to stand for the ones I loved the most. As my heart shattered before His presence, I listened intently for a reply. What I received was far greater than what I had lost. I listened as I heard Him speak to me. His comforting hands held me in that moment in a way this orphan had never experienced. I needed to listen to His voice – filled with sounds of Truth, echoes of peace and resounding waterfalls of love. His Truth seemed to instantly put a soundproof barrier from my negative thoughts and I was overcome by the applause that He had chosen me as His child, dearly loved and cherished. Once you listen to that sweet song, life truly never sounds the same again. Silence is filled with a constant lullaby celebrating the end of loneliness. As His Child I took my place in His great symphony with confidence. 

God directed His music to allow my left ear to receive sound for the first time in my life and now I listen to the world around me in stereo. It seems so surreal that all of these events occurred in the order they did over the course of a month. God interrupted my life of hearing to show me the art of listening. 

Here I am Lord. I am waiting and listening. Use me today.