Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Never Alone

I am a Christian.  I am also a member of the United Methodist Church.  I am a Methodist by choice.  Yes, I was brought up in the Methodist Church, but that is not the reason I am one today and choosing to raise my own children in the Methodist Church.  There was a time, most of the years I was at McMurry actually, that I was completely lost.  Searching for my place in this world, searching for something that was true and worthwhile.  I remember one night in particular, kneeling on the floor of my tiny dorm room, pleading with God for answers.  My last two years at McMurry was spent with me on a mission.  I needed to find out what it was I believed.  I researched, wrote papers on topics that were, at the time, mysteries to me, all the while trying to discern for myself what was real and what was not.  I questioned all facets of religion, not just Christianity, starting with my beliefs on the very basics, starting my faith journey at the very beginning.

I can not pretend to have all the answers.  What is truth for me may not be truth for someone else.  That's okay.  I have particular beliefs about certain issues which is why I am still a member of the United Methodist Church.  The Methodist church best aligns with my own beliefs, once I decided what they were.  I am fully comfortable raising my children in this tradition, but hopefully equipping them with the ability to one day discern for themselves what they believe to be truth.

I have been blessed to be able to teach Confirmation to 12 youth these past few weeks.  I have learned alot myself.  Last week we discussed a tool for discernment known in the Methodist tradition as "the Wesleyan Quadrilateral."  For those of you unfamiliar with this, the quadrilateral is a way to prayerfully discern what God's will is for you by using scripture, tradition, reason and experience (the four sides of the quadrilateral).  I earnestly want my youth and my own children to have the ability, the tools, and the maturity to go prayerfully into Scripture, and through what they already know through their own experiences and what they have been taught in their church tradition, use their God-given gift of reason to discern their own path in this world.

We have also been teaching that even though this is a tradition in which we have chosen to live our lives, it is not our place to judge what someone else believes.  I may disagree, that is my right, but I may not judge. 

I have blogged before about certain beliefs that I consider false prophecy.  Though I do not judge those who may be misled (in my opinion) I do pray for them and encourage everyone to never believe something just because someone you trust tells you that is truth.  Ask God for wisdom because wisdom is something He never withholds.

One last thing, there is a reason they call it a "Spiritual journey."  We are forever learning, always questioning, always listening, and always teaching.

In other news Zach is spending his week in Denver with a crew of Wesley students doing mission work.  Today they are painting a house.  He texted me,"Caulking with college students is worse than with Jr. High kids."  Having experienced caulking with junior high kids, I can only imagine.  At least I know that they are enjoying themselves.

I am spending my week with my kids who are on their Spring Break.  The weather has kept us indoors for the most part and we have a case of cabin fever that has resulted in lots of screaming, tears, and a mommy about ready to tear her hair out.  Thankfully, my trusty weather man tells me the rest of the week is going to be beautiful so I hope to spend much of our time outdoors in the coming days.

I hope the rest of your week is overflowing with blessings of your own.

"I'll hold tight to what I know, You're here and I'm never alone" - Barlow Girls

Friday, March 16, 2012

Calming the storm

Wednesday nights at our church looks like this: first we have a potluck, then we gather together in the sanctuary for a short devotional led by volunteers, and then we break up into our different classes, me, of course, heading to the youth room.  This past week we had a woman talk about the different trials in her life.  Examples being laid off from her teaching job a few years before retirement, finding a new job, then 10 months before she retired having to go home and take care of her ailing mother.  After she made account of these live altering events she commented on how now, years later, she can see how God was working during those times to turn those trials into blessings.

Her talk made me think of a question I saw posed by Adam Hamilton on facebook at the beginning of the week, asking (in an abridged version because I can't remember exactly how he worded it), "How has Christ calmed the waters of your storm?"

I began to think back over the trials I have faced in my own life.  The circumstances leading up to our leaving Plainview were definite trials that left us hurt and angry.  Evil certainly had it's way there but looking back it's easy to see how God was working in our lives.  Our time in New Boston was short and difficult. It gave us a time to get used to our new lives away from our family and everything else that we knew.  As much as we enjoyed East Texas we knew it was not our forever home.  God has something else in store for us. 

That leads us to Las Cruces.  A place we hope to be for a while longer, although, our past has taught us to never get too comfortable.  I believe that is what happened in Plainview.  We had been talking about leaving, maybe when the kids were older, not making any definite plans for our future.  We were comfortable, taking life for granted.  We were busy doing instead of busy living.  Our families were all right there so it became way to easy for us to drop off the kids when Zach and I wanted to do something.  I also wanted to stay home full-time with the kids but Zach's salary in Plainview couldn't support us.  Then, when the devil was working to ruin lives, God opened a door for us, just in the most unexpected way. 

We were alone, forced to grow up and depend on ourselves.  We had no babysitters, forcing us to spend time with our kids and have so many wonderful experiences with them.  We were out of our comfort zone, forcing us to reevaluate what was important to us.

This past week, when Erin was here, I took a break from my Sunday night activities and instead, went to worship at Wesley.  As we were heading home later that night, Erin told me how proud she was of Zach.  She could see how much he had grown since she last heard him teach in Plainview.  Yes, he has grown, thanks to what this past year has put us through.

We always knew we were going where we needed to go.  We have known for awhile that God has been blessing us beyond measure.  And know we can look back, to those moments of hurt, anger, disappointment, and fear, and know God was there, to calm the waters...

As a final note I would like to attach a youtube clip of one of my favorite songs.  The words are so beautiful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's your calling?

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?  My precious Zoe has started a list of her future careers that keeps getting longer and longer.  To name just a few, she wants to be a superhero, a princess, an artist, a teacher, and a veternarian, among other things.  When I was little I loved to read.  The greatest of days were library days.  A trip to the mall without a stop at the bookstore was just torture.  The local used bookstore was my sanctuary.  I dreamt of becoming an author, penning my own books someday.  Unfortunately for me it became clear quite early that my talents did not lean that way.  I was destined to be a lover of books but not a maker of books. 

Once I came to accept this fact I decided to become an elementary school teacher.   That was going to be my future.  Then I went to college where I went to observe my first class of first graders and left a few hours later with a migraine.  I remember thinking with horror, "There is no way I could do this day after day."  And with one afternoon my future was suddenly unclear.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I tried several majors, the last being religion.  I enjoyed the learning part but when faced with deciding what path to take after graduation nothing seemed appealing.  Despite encouragement from others I knew the path to seminary was not for me.  Certainly I could have made a decent career out of something but my heart would not be in it.

For years I floated from one area to the next, working in medical offices and a law office, even working in the school system as an aide to determine if maybe I could be a teacher after all.  There were facets of all my jobs that appealed to me and other parts that I hated.  I still hadn't found my calling.

Until, that is, we moved to New Boston and we were unable to secure child care. Suddenly I was thrust into the role of stay-at-home mom.  It was difficult and trying and Zoe and I had to learn how to be around each other all the time.   I got an insight into what life will be like with my daughter when she becomes a teenager (oh my!) and a balance had to be found.  After a few months though life became easier and here we are, more than a year later, and I love what I do.  Sure, it's a career choice that makes certain things more difficult, we don't have money to blow and I don't have much time that I am around adults, but I wouldn't trade this time with my children for anything.

I know that eventually I will once again be forced into the real world of working people and no, I'm no closer now to knowing what I want to do, but I have found my calling.  I am meant to be a mother.  My kids are not my identity but right now I know, without a doubt, that the most important thing I can do is be there for them.  I know that's probably not true for everyone, but it is for me. 

Now, having said all that, I would love to return to school.  I think studying history would be great and, after much research, I believe I could find a job that I could really enjoy.  For now, however, I am going to enjoy every moment that I can in the career I am so blessed to have.

Now, for an update on what's happening over here at Bechtold Manor:

Zach has been very busy, running a middle school camp a couple weeks back, and leaving Sunday for a week long mission trip to Denver.  There have been many late nights for him.  Thursday we headed up to Sacramento, just down the road from Cloudcroft, for a one night getaway in the mountains.  It snowed on us the entire time but it was so wonderful and relaxing.  We are already looking forward to our next visit up there.

Pretty serene, don't you agree?

On Friday Erin came to visit on her spring break.  We had so much fun shopping, having Friend's marathons and talking.  My parents are planning to come at Easter and we are so excited.  I have been referred by my chiropracter to physical therapy for my back in hopes that I can find relief that way but because of Zach's busy schedule (someone has to watch the kids after all) I have not been able to go.  I know my limits physically and that has helped somewhat. 

Life is good and God is great.  Blessings to you all.