LENT:day 35: Jesus says yes to sidewalk chalk

John 8:3-11

In the middle of Jesus teaching, the religious scholars broke through the crowd and brought a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery and made her stand in the middle of everyone. Then they said to Jesus, ” Teacher, we caught this woman in the very act of adultery. Doesn’t Moses’ law command us to stone to death a woman like this? Tell us, what do you say we should do with her?” They were only testing Jesus because they hoped to trap him with his own words and accuse him of breaking the laws of Moses. But Jesus didn’t answer them. Instead he simply bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger. ( Or in 2020 – he knealt down and drew on the sidewalk with chalk:). Angry , the kept insisting that he answer their question, so Jesus stood up and looked at them and said, “Let’s have the man that has never had a sinful desire throw the first stone at her.” And then he bent over again and wrote some more words in the dust. Upon hearing that, her accusers slowly left the crowd one at a time, beginning with the oldest to the youngest, with a convicted conscience. Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, ” Dear woman, where are your accusers?” Is there no one here to condemn you?” Looking around she replied, ” I see no one, Lord.” Jesus said…

Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”

The text that started it all.

It was a group text to myself and 3 other neighbors. The above picture and the words, ” Let’s do this!” flashed across my phone screen. Within 30 minutes my neighbors and I and our families were outside on a beautiful Saturday sharing chalk and decorating driveways. It felt like therapy as Brooke and I created and colored and filled our blank driveway with a bible verse and 66 step hop scotch trail that lead to our door. It was a welcome escape from the last 7 days that had felt like 700. In a world gone crazy – this was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Later that evening I posted pictures on our community facebook page of the chalked up driveways that lined our street. I encouraged others around town to join us in an effort to bring JOY through chalk to our very uncertain world. The response was amazing. Pictures of colorful driveways popped up throughout the day. I also offered myself and my neighbors to decorate anyones driveways that may not be able to do their own. We had 10 responses!!! It was awesome. The writing of words of encouragement was healing for the writer and the recipient. We hope that all that walked by the messages experienced a smidge of joy in their day.

403 S. Sandia

In the bible passage today, I share the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery – an act – that by law – should have lead her to her death. We have no idea what she was wearing, maybe nothing at all, hopefully at least covered in a blanket. We know she was thrown into the middle of a religious teaching. We know things weren’t fabulous in her life if she was willing to sleep with a married man knowing it could lead to her demise. It was clearly not her best day. She was in desperate need of hope, encouragement and actually an act of God to get her out of the mess she had made. When her accusers demand an answer to what should happen with her they are essentially trying to trap him. They really didn’t care about what happened with the woman – they just wanted to put him in a spot where it would appear he was breaking the law of Moses.

And Jesus, in all his wisdom, stoops down…

and starts writing in the dirt. Or chalking on the sidewalk.

Many bible scholars believe there is no way we can know what Jesus wrote that day. My guess is speculation at best but I’m basing it on Jesus track record of encouraging people in unique ways. Remember the mud in the eye from my devotion a few days ago?? I picture Jesus, knealing down near the woman, moving his finger around in the sand , forming words like, “Be patient, I got you.” “You are loved.” “You are worthy.” He kept writing making the scholars more furious. Finally Jesus breaks the silence and proclaims – ‘He who is without sin, cast the first stone’. And religious leader by religious leader slowly turned and walked away. The woman – staring at the words in the sand realizes she has been set free. An act of God indeed. Words from Jesus speak truth and have power. They literally change the trajectory of people lives.

When the crowd has dispersed and all that is left is Jesus and the woman – the message he speaks can be summed up in 5 simple words – the response he desires from all of us when we are freed from the grip of sin..

“Go and sin no more.”

Incredible. Can you imagine? Her life was just given back. She can turn a new page knowing she has a Savior that loves her and believes her best days are yet to come. She is not defined by her past but able to live a brand new future.

I can’t wait to get to heaven and ask the woman what Jesus was writing. Isn’t that amazing that we will be able to rub shoulders with all that walked and talked with Jesus? When I see her, Im going to hand her a basket of colorful chalk and invite her to create with me. Until then I’m going to keep chalking encouragement to myself and my neighbors. Im going to share the words of Jesus – they’ve got the power to accomplish some pretty incredible things no matter how you communicate the message.

It’s just extra fun when it’s done with chalk.

Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where He is.

justbeth:)

Even Eddie enjoyed our day on the driveway.

LENT: day 34: Jesus says YES to smart planting

One of my favorite COVID-19 Memes

It’s one of my favorite memes of the season. As one that needs to color my hair every 4-6 weeks – this hits close to home. I’m currently trying to stretch my last home color job before I break into my 1 box stash in my bathroom closet. The struggle is real.

As we move into another week of our new normal I’m feeling like more then my hair roots are starting to show. Times of adversity have the ability to reveal both the good and the bad of our hearts and motives. They provide opportunity to gain perspective on either the strength or the weakness of the things, people, ideas that have attracted our trust. Today I’ll refer to these as our roots.

It was an afternoon excursion to our local golf course last week that triggered the memory of this verse from Jeremiah – a prophet quite familiar with adversity. His job was to warn the nation of Judah of its coming destruction. Can you imagine God calling you to that position? “Yes – Jeremiah – every day your task will be to report bad news to a people that won’t want to hear it. You will get push back and not much encouragement. ” Despite early objections to this call on his life, Jeremiah obeyed and penned the words that offer me much encouragement and direction today.

The 5th fairway at Tri-County Country Club – Emma, MO

In chapter 17- Jeremiah gives us clarity on how to handle the adversity of our day. He speaks from a place of authority as his life was one that did not get much affirmation from his circumstances – his hope and strength were in God alone.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

But Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

As I gazed upon the tree on the 5th fairway on the golf course I marveled that this mighty tree with so many roots was thriving. It could tell a story or two. It has seen heat, storms, adversity. How do I know? Its roots are exposed. No hiding this ones foundation. It has lost the security of dirt, grass and rocks and all that is left…

are the streams of living water flowing on either side.

Did you catch that….

all that is left…

streams of living water.

As my own life roots, places I’ve planted my trust and security are revealed….

MY schedule.

MY plans.

My bank account.

My Family.

My toilet paper stash….

as they are revealed – its becoming crystal clear.

The one thing, the one most important only thing that is keeping my heart steady, my emotions in check, my resolve strong, my vision clear , my hope united….

Its my roots connected to the word of my Savior. The words that flow over me like streams of living water. Word that refresh, renew, revitalize.

Its the beginning of another week…take a good long drink of living water by spending significant time in his word.

Your roots are thirsty…. and they are eagerly waiting to be satisfied.

Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where He is.

justbeth:)

LENT: day 33: sweet sunday

33 days into Lent.

Yesterday I took time to document my life – every detail for the last 18 days. My mind was blown as I reflected on the massive change of all of our lives in such a very short period of time. I needed to see it in black and white. It gave evidence to both my weariness of body and my hunger of soul for Jesus. Pause on this sweet sunday and look back. Grab a pen- write it down. It is times like this where we see God do his mighty work in mighty ways that will serve as encouragement for us down the road. Blessings.

What have you learned?

What have you let go of?

What have your gripped tighter?

How is Jesus more real to you today?

Where do you need him to be more real tomorrow?

May Jesus be your light, your wisdom, your guide. May he be the power behind your every YES and your every NO. May you trust him in your everything.

justbeth:)

LENT: day 32: saturday scripture

Pull out your notebook, your best pen… start writing… start listening… God wants to speak to you today.

Isaiah 30:20-21

NIV: New International Version:

Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more, with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ” This is the way; walk in it.”

ERV Easy Reader Version

The Lord might give you sorrow and pain like the bread and water you eat every day. But God is your teacher, and he will not continue to hide from you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. If you wander from the right path, either to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, “You should go this way. Here is the right way.”

GW – God’s Word

The Lord may give you troubles and hardships. But your teacher will no longer be hidden from you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. You will hear a voice behind you saying ” This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.”

TPT – The Passion Translation

Even though the Lord may allow you to go through a season of hardship and difficulty, he himself will be there with you. He will not hide himself from you, for your eyes will constantly see him as your Teacher. When you turn to the right or turn to the left, you will hear his voice behind you to guide you, saying, “This is the right path; follow it.”

The Voice

Even though the Lord has fed you the bitter food of adversity and offered you the water of oppression, your great Teacher will reveal Himself to you, your eyes will see Him. Your ears will hear sweet words behind you; Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go,” whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or to the left.

GO ahead… carve out some time. Write the words. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open you heart to what God wants to communicate with you.

And if you have an extra minute… I’d love to hear what he had to say.

justbeth:)

LENT:day 31: Jesus says NO to predicting the future

Matthew 24:42-44

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of living in the moment. Focusing on creating a new normal. Not dwelling on all that feels lost. Until yesterday. Until I took my little black dog for an afternoon walk on the most glorious spring day we’ve had this year. We strolled over to our high school campus around 3:00 p.m.

And it was beautiful.

The trees are budding and the 2 that have pink blossoms, located in front of the dining hall are ready to peak in color. And I remembered. I remembered that the eerily quiet campus was …. not normal. The empty soccer field, the silent baseball and softball diamonds, the picnic tables, the grass lawn on the quad…it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I thought of my daughters prom dress hanging in her closet. The graduation announcements waiting to be ordered. The empty calendar…. and I felt sad. And I allowed my thoughts which turned to prayers say, ” when God, when?” When will this end. What is the answer to my daughters question – ” do you think we’ll get to go back to school?” Yesterday – I just really needed to know.

The following words are a post I wrote almost 4 years ago – on my 46th birthday. Yes – you can do the math – this is the year I hit 50. What a year it’s been. Im sharing it again because, honestly, its what my heart needs and I imagine yours might too.

OCT 21, 2016

If you would have told me.

Years ago, Tom did a pre-marriage counseling session with a young couple. They were like most almost-marrieds: excited as they anticipated the new journey but also filled with questions.

Where they would live depending on job availability.  Should they try to live close to their families?

How many children did they want, if any?  Should they follow the husband’s career journey or the wife’s?  Would they both be able to pursue their dreams?

And they said, “Life would be so much easier if we just knew what was coming.”

Hmm.

Today I turn 46.

Today I woke up in a one bedroom apartment, in the middle of a residential high school campus, in a small Missouri town, population 2400.

Today my children live in dorms and I can walk to just about every amenity I need if I want to.

Today I  can see for miles and miles across wide open spaces of neighboring farm land.

Today I’ll walk my dog and greet students from 15 countries, all of whom are living in this world far away from family and everything they know to be normal.

Today I’ll carry laundry to the basement of our apartment building, then head to the back corner of the sub-basement where the washer and dryer currently live.

Today I’ll take about 100 steps to the football field and cheer on our team in their district game.

Not exactly, not at all, where I thought I would be celebrating my 46 years of life.

If someone would have told me.

If someone would have told me this future, I may have run and hidden.

I may have attempted to manipulate my world in a manner that would have prevented this move.

I would have pursued the lie that I know what is best and  that God can join me in my plans rather than me join him in his. (Can I get an Amen?)

Life isn’t easier, better, or safer if we know what is coming.

If someone would have told me this future and I would have run, I would have missed some of the most spectacular displays of God’s

peace

provision

power

that I have ever experienced.

The sunrises and sunsets over farm country are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

The deep appreciation for the friends who are no longer in my everyday circle, which brings a sense of love and gratitude for blessings past.

The moments when I realize that God has amazing people placed all over the planet and that he orders our steps and our connections at just the right time.

As I begin this 47th year of life, I marvel at God’s ability to continue to lead my stubborn heart.

He reminds me that peace has nothing to do with where I fix my feet and so much more about where I fix my eyes and my heart and my mind.

You see,  “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ” Psalm 139:16

He promises that “He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

The God who was with you yesterday in your normal, is the same God who is in your today and the same that waits for you in the future.

Are you currently in the middle of a season of wondering how in the world you got here?  Are you questioning God’s sovereignty as you look at how your life has unfolded? Are you wishing you could get a glimpse of the future so you don’t have to encounter one more day feeling like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop?

I get it. I feel you.

and I take your face in my hands, and I gently turn it to the one that will lead you on.

Loving where you are and pointing you forward to where He is,

justbeth:)

LENT:day 30: Jesus says NO to skipping ahead

John 14: 1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled, Trust in God, trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you! I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

I can’t help it…..

It’s been a life long issue…

But no one has given me a legitimate reason to stop… I dare you to try …. you won’t convince me…

Yep , It’s true….

Here it is…. the ugly truth about this pastor’s wife, mother of 3, lipstick peddling woman you see walking her little black dog ….

I get 3 maybe 4 chapters into any book……

 and ……..

I flip to the end,

 the last chapter…

 and I read it.

  I learn who lives, who dies, who wins, who loses….all before I read…. the middle.

Now…. before you judge too harshly… I do go back.  I read the middle. But when I do.. I’m more relaxed because I know the end.

The middle… its always gotten kind of bad wrap…

The middle child….

The middle of any task… far enough out you can’t see the start but too far to see the finish…wether its a college class, a home improvement project,  a diet, a debt management program, ….. it’s just not fun….

Tom and I were in a leadership training program many years ago… and I specifically remember getting a pep talk when we were ….. in the middle.

I once ran a 1/2 marathon…. and the hardest part…. the middle.

And now here we are in the Middle of what some claim will be over in a few weeks and others use months as their measuring stick. I keep hearing the words “if we just knew when it would end….”

Well…..In just the length of a 5 minute phone conversation with a friend and customer from California…my whole perspective has changed….

on The Middle.

This friend has had many changes in her professional life… she has switched positions and is in the transition time between the old and being completely settled into the new….. she’s in The Middle.

She shared a comment that her pastors wife  made about her current season… The Middle.

“The Middle” she said “what a fun season.  It’s where you feel God’s love the most.”

Wait…. sit on that for a minute.

The reasons I don’t like the middle…

I’m not at the start where I feel like I can still back out and I’m not at the end where I can look back at the experience and celebrate.  Really the middle is the part where circumstances are less sure, confidence may falter if the end seems too far, there may not be any outside evidence that the road I am on is worth it.  I want to flip to the end… read the conclusion and be done.

Nobody Instagrams on the middle….

The Middle… it’s the faith part.  The part where all outside assurance may feel far away….

and that is where the gift is hidden and ready to be found if we open ourselves up, stop flipping to the end and wait for the revelation…

The gift of the Middle… which is just what the wise pastors wife said ….. the awesome revelation of the presence of God. Isn’t that what God wants? For us to be completely aware, and in awe of his amazing presence. To feel the abundant love that is available everyday ….

but for some reason… it takes leaving shore…. heading to a distant land…. and a good chunk of time in the Middle to realize its been there all along??

He has shown us the end and it is so good. He has promised us that he is preparing a place for us. Changing the sheets, fluffing the pillows. A place where we will live with him forever. No tears, no sorrows no COVID-19. Ahhhhh…..but for now, we wait in the Middle.

so….I’m not sure if I’m a transformed book reader… I may still, from time to time, flip to the end…

but the big stuff, the life stuff, the Middle stuff… the stuff between the starts and the finishes…

I’m looking at in a new, fresh way….

Can’t wait to see what I’ve been missing…

Loving you where you are and pointing you forward to where he is,

justbeth:)

Lots more time with our big kids in this unexpected Middle season – and that’s really good

LENT:day 29: Jesus say YES to spring

Matthew 6:27-29,30

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?

Have you forgotten? I did. I actually really did.

In the midst of my calendar being swept clean of literally everything… I some how thought EVERYTHING had stopped. The whole world put on pause meant that not only ball games, and choir concerts, and gatherings of more the 10 and graduations and weddings and trips to the mall and friends over for dinner… BUT I also believed that another important event was put on hold.

I’m so glad I was wrong.

Last week as I walked my little black dog around the quiet campus of our high school I was stopped in my tracks. Could it be? I needed a picture so that when I got home I could prove to my family that it was true but had left my phone at home. I went back later to gather the evidence that one of my favorite parts of the year HAD NOT BEEN CANCELLED or impacted by COVID-19. It may seen ridiculously obvious but for me it was the evidence that my HOPE is secure in the hands of the creator of both heaven and earth.

Isn’t it amazing?

Friends – it is coming and it cannot be stopped. The proof is all around us . I saw it on my walk with my dog. One beautiful yellow daffodil. It appeared to be glowing. It was so beautiful. Yes – this event that can’t be denied or stopped?

SPRING.

The breaking out of a cold, dark winter. The onset of color, and light and hope. The opportunity to nurture growth in flowers and vegetables. It is one of my favorite times of the year.

SPRING.

It reminds me that we are making forward progress. Jesus points us to the flowers in our verse today. If God will take care of the flowers that last for a short season he will most certainly take care of us – right?

SPRING.

He shows us in his creation that despite days of intense cold and heat he sustains us.

SPRING.

He displays his glory as His creation fills our vision. How good that the season when we all are taking more moments to get outside and walk corresponds with HIS season of decorating our path with budding trees and flowers. Greening grass and leaf filled trees.

SPRING

Its funny. 2 weeks ago – on a trip to Texas- I had seen spring. I had felt spring. Their flowers were in full bloom, the air was warm and the scent screamed – SPRING! So why when I saw the first flower blooming did it take me by surprise? Why would I think God would gift one area with this beauty and not mine?

Wow – such a reminder that I need to see God in MY world, in MY life, on MY walks, in MY home. I need to see him in a way that clearly says I’m with YOU. Friends – you need that too.

How are you seeing God’s provision in each day? What evidence do you have that he will sustain you through this season? It can be so easy to forget that the provision we see God give to others is also true for us. There are days I have to shift my gaze off of the way He is with my friends and neighbors lives so I can clearly see him in my own.

Enjoy your walk today. Look for your own evidence that Spring is coming. Ask God to open your eyes to his abundance all around you. Be prepared to be amazed.

Loving you where you are and pointing you forward to where He is,

justbeth:)

LENT:day 28: Jesus says to YES to children – of all ages

Matthew 18:3-5. TPT. Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a chid, you will never be able to enter in . Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm. And if you tenderly care for this little one on my behalf, you are tenderly caring for me.

Tom and our oldest many years ago.

“Carry me!”

If you’ve ever walked any distance with a child you have most certainly heard these words. Tired little legs, hungry tummy, interest in the journey long gone.

Weary.

Overwhelmed.

Done.

“Carry me!”

And if you’ve ever walked a distance with a child, and you’ve heard those words – you have most certainly obliged. You have indeed picked them up. You instantly recognized the length of the journey is more than the power of the small body. You know the journey is really….

too much,

it’s too far,

it’s too hard for this little one to make it on their own.

Ever feel like that? Like maybe today? As you’ve work to navigate our times that keep being referred to as ” UNPRECEDENTED” – because they are. As you wake up to the reality that the last 2 weeks are not just a dream. Ready for someone to carry ……you?

Jesus – he tells us in Matthew 18 to become like little children. He wants us to run to him like a weary child on a long walk. He invites us to lift our arms in surrender. He longs to hear the words out of our mouths to his ears….

“Jesus – Carry Me”.

And he will. His track record is clear. What was promised about him by the profit Isaiah hundreds of years before he walked the earth he proved over and over again.

Matthew 8:16-17

Jesus drove out spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the profit Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and CARRIED OUR DISEASES.”

Tired?

Burdened?

Weary?

His arms are strong. Child, Run to him today.

Loving you where you are and pointing your forward to where He is,

justbeth:)

LENT:day 27: Jesus says YES to Mud in your eye

Yuck Night: a middle schoolers dream Church youth group event. Did you know I used to be a youth minister? Yep. I’ve slept on gym floors. Driven vans full of adolescents to ski trips and retreats. I’ve lead bible studies where kids looked at me like I had 3 heads. I’ve organized fundraisers and cooked a boat load of spaghetti.

And I’ve hosted YUCK NIGHTS.

You think of a gross game involving raw eggs, chocolate pudding and marshmallows and we probably played it. The kids had to sit on garbage bags on their way home to protect the interior of their parents cars. It was gross, disgusting and fabulous. We all loved it.

Like any good church group youth event we kicked off the evening with a short devotion. There is no better Yuck Night Theme story then the account of Jesus healing the blind man in John chapter 9.

v. 6. Then Jesus spat on the ground and made some MUD with his saliva. Then he anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay. And he said to the blind man, “Now go and wash the clay from your eyes in the pool of Siloam.” So he went and washed his face and as he came back he could see for the first time in his life.

MUD IN HIS EYE. Spat in the ground with his saliva. Now thats gross. But Isn’t it awsome? You can bet he had the mans attention. I’m guessing the blind man was probably a jr high teacher. Why else would he be on board with mud made from spit touching his eyes;). Well that and he was probably open to anything that promised his sight to be given… for the first time in his life. Great need drives great obedience. He willingly let Jesus wipe mud in his eyes and

He.

Was.

Healed.

Friends. We are all… ALL …. in a season of great need. We all… ALL….are being asked to learn new things, live new normals and it’s just so darn uncomfortable. I can’t help but think our Savior, our spit in the ground and rub mud in your eye Jesus, wants to work some healing into our eyes, into our hearts into our lives. He is allowing us to get to a place where we are open to HIS plan for peace not ours, HIS wisdom for our path not ours, His willingness to do anything….

Anything to get us to our best good and HIS GLORY.

When the disciples asked Jesus whose sins had caused the mans blindess, his own or the sin of his parents – Jesus answered:

“Neither, It happened to him so that the miracles of God might be displayed in him.”

God wants to show us his best stuff. He wants to display his miracles, his strength and his power. As we head into another week of new normals… let’s expect Jesus to show up, to teach us, to heal us, to grow us, to make us new… even if it requires a little spit in the dirt and a mud mask for your eyes. The results will be oh so worth it.

Loving you where you are and pointing you forward to where He is,

justbeth:)

I still love Jr High kids: St Pauls Concordia Confirmation class

LENT: day 26: sweet sunday

26 days into Lent.

What have you learned?

What have you let go of?

What have your gripped tighter?

How is Jesus more real to you today?

Where do you need him to be more real tomorrow?

May Jesus be your light, your wisdom, your guide. May he be the power behind your every YES and your every NO. May you trust him in your everything.

justbeth:)