Archive for April, 2014
Hey, y’all. As most of you know, and as many of you experienced, I was a part of New Life Drama Company for a grand total of 2 years. (Did 2 of each tour, but not all consecutively.) I was away from home a summer, a spring, and then a fall through 2 following springs with about 4 weeks home the whole time. (That was an extremely awkward sentence.)
To give my elongated phone schpeal: “Hello, my name is Bethany on behalf of New Life Drama Company. What we are is a traveling Christian drama ministry. We travel all over the country, 355 days a year, preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus through the art form of sketch drama. We go to churches, schools, prisons, nursing homes and anywhere we can to preach the gospel and encourage the church. We are also a servant’s heart ministry, so if there is ever anything we can help out with, from teaching a workshop to painting the church, we would love to help with that.” (And then give phone numbers and stuff.)
My message was usually not THAT long; I definitely learned to shorten it as I got more used to being an office worker. But that’s the gist of what we did.
My adventures in New Life were extensive. I experienced tons of laughter, many tears, plenty of Spiritual challenges and growing, and lots of friendships made.
The ministry I was a part of was and is in no way perfect. Everyone in the ministry is human, and like all organizations, it’s had its ups and downs, its times of prospering and times of struggle. But no matter where it’s been or where it’s going, I had amazing experiences during my years in full-time ministry. It was a wonderful opportunity that I’m very glad I took.
I’m going to be doing a little blog series about some of my adventures and things that I learned while on the road. I may not necessarily share a lot of exciting stories (I’m not the best storyteller, nor do I have the best memory), but I want to share about some things that God taught me and allowed me to go through.
Hope you enjoy! 😀
My life has been a variety of ups and downs this past year. From finishing up my time in New Life, moving to New York and back, and the beginning and ending of a serious relationship, there’s been a lot that’s gone on. In retrospect, I think it’s important for me to spend time reflecting on Easter and what it means in my life.
The meaning of Easter, rather than Christmas, is really the center of what Christianity is all about. Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection is the climax to the world’s story, the sacrificial love that makes everything that is good and wonderful in all of eternity possible. What we celebrate this weekend is what defines my life, what defines me. Jesus paid for me and my sins however-many-thousand years ago, and when I surrendered my life to Him, I became a part of that story as He entered my heart and made me into a new creation.
My testimony is not one of turning from the end of my rope in my rebellious life to God. I was “saved” when I was very young, and no matter when it became real, I can’t remember a time (save when I was a child and still just thought of God in child-like superhero vision) when I ever lived without God, or didn’t want to follow Him. He has just always been a part of my life, at least every bit I can recollect.
Because of that, sometimes it was hard for me to really understand the depth of what God had done on the cross for me. Since I can’t remember not being a Christian, I don’t know how it feels to be lost in sin. As far as I can recall, I’ve always lived in the forgiveness of Christ. I’m not trying to say this in any way self-righteously; I’m no better than anyone else. And recently I’ve been discovering that firsthand.
I’ve gone through a lot of very difficult times and struggles this last year. I had opportunities for my character to be put to the test, REALLY put to the test, and as I look back on the year, I see and remember so many times when I failed.
I’ve seen myself in so many black ways this year. I had many dreams of things I could do as a leader, but when the opportunity came, fear, pressure and stress got to me, debilitating me in my role and placing extra stress and responsibility on those under me. I have seen selfishness well up in me in a very real way that has affected others at every turn; usually it shows up in the form of succumbing to weakness and fear, rather than any form of maliciousness or anger. I always mean well, but strength fails me and I am overcome with sinful and selfish desires. I justify my actions and go back on promises. I dwell in insecurities and look to protect myself first. I believe one thing but follow another. I hear God’s voice but then doubt and follow a different urge. My sin nature seems to run rampant, and sometimes it feels like I can never be whole or pure or righteous again.
But that’s exactly what Easter is about. That’s exactly why Jesus died on the cross. He took my sin and my pride and my selfishness upon His shoulders, became that darkness, and paid the price for it once and for all. Not only the sins from when I was born to when I was saved, but every single thing after that. When I got saved? God had already paid for and forgiven my sins of 2014! Each moment of weakness and indulgence in the future for me has already been covered by Jesus’ blood!
I am a new creation. I am the righteousness of Christ. I am cleansed by His blood, I am redeemed. No matter how I am tempted to see myself through sin-tainted eyes, God has given me the mind of Christ, and I am able to see myself how He sees me: forgiven, pure, holy.
Jesus’ resurrection is a sign of new beginnings. His plan that He fulfilled on earth sparked the coming of the Holy Spirit, the forming of the church, and the creation of the new nature we find in Christ.
As I embark on this next phase of my life, whatever that is, I can rest assured that Christ is with me. He gives me the strength to go on. He’ll guide me gently and faithfully through the healing process. He’s right beside me when I cry myself to sleep at night from loneliness. He’s the joy in my day when I walk through the park and just enjoy His presence and His creation. He is the meaning to my life in both the good and the bad. And I love Him so, so dearly for it. Thank You, Jesus, for the deep love You displayed for me on the cross a bajillion-give-or-take-a-few years ago. 🙂 Have a Happy Easter, everyone.
So, as I’ve had a job at McDonald’s for about a month or two, which has meant that I’ve had some semblance of my own personally earned money (something I haven’t had in 3 years!), I’ve been trying to figure out how to wisely spend it and save it. And identifying weaknesses when it comes to spending is a good thing, right?
My newly identified weaknesses: compulsive food purchasing, particularly fast food.
Ever since I was a kid, our family getting food at a restaurant was always a treat. Whether it was ordering Pizza Hut, picking up McDonald’s, or the occasional KFC run… it was a luxury that we didn’t use super regularly. PARTICULARLY because it’s so expensive to feed a family of 10.
Then I traveled with New Life, and we ate out ALL THE TIME. Fast food was the default for all of our drive days (unless we packed a lunch, but c’mon, how often did we remember to do that?) and we would get pretty regularly treated to casual/nice restaurants by generous host homes or pastors.
(Free Digital Photos)
Most everyone in New Life got quickly sick of McDonald’s, and many leaders tried to make that a last resort for stops. However, I never found myself getting sick of their food. Or any restaurant, for that matter. I will say: I am not much of a fan of White Castle/Crystal Burger. Not necessarily because their food is bad, but because the guys on my team who liked it got a little nuts about ordering A BAJILLION CHEAP BURGERS, and instead of giving us the option to order sides or add cheese, were all like “40 burgers for the whole team!” and made us each eat, like, 8. Hehe. I think I’m a little biased against it because of that. 🙂 But with the option to make my own choice, I would willingly try their food again. But I’m BAMbling.
All that to say, even now after eating fast food for 2 years and now working at McDonald’s for a few months, I still find that eating out is a treat.
And though that’s not always bad, the PROBLEM is, now I have money to spend. And a car to drive. And I work right in a restaurant that sells happily colored Shamrock shakes and refreshing caramel frappes and delicious buffalo ranch McChickens! (Man, those things are good!) And I get half my food off because I’m an employee. 😀
But it’s not just working at McDonald’s that tempts me. It’s more like, when I’m home I get bored or decide I’m hungry and we don’t have much in the house, and I’m all like “I should go get a Subway because I love them!” or “I should pick up some cheapo Taco Bell!” or “Hey, I need to eat some KFC chicken that I haven’t eaten in forever!” or “Man, I need a milkshake!” Suddenly any lack of food or spontaneous craving creates an irresistible impulse to go and buy something.
It’s not like I can’t live without it. I like to cook at home, and I do like lots of healthy food, and I’m usually pretty cheap with what I buy. But…
-When I get a minimum wage check every two weeks
-And am saving up for a 2 week vacation that’s a month away
-And have a few personal loans to pay off
-And a phone bill
-And am saving up for a car
-And an eventual apartment
-And trying to get my own two feet on the ground…
I need to be able to follow a strict budget. And I’ve tried to kind of give myself a vague limit for each 2 weeks of one paycheck. But being too vague about it means that I’ll often go over my limit. I’ve noticed a pattern of always wanting to go out and get something, just because I CAN even though I certainly don’t NEED it. Particularly when I’m bored or moody, even though it won’t actually make me feel better but will instead make me feel guilty yet again for not showing restraint.
So I’ve started admitting that it’s a weakness for me that I need to change.
For one thing, eating fast food all the time is CLEARLY not a healthy choice! I don’t have any major moral problems with any of these companies, but everyone knows that fast food is NOT the healthiest stuff around.
“Do you see all zese food you ‘ave etten in ze past year?”
For another thing, that stuff adds up! Fast food may be cheap, but a lot of cheap stuff is still, well, a LOT. And it’s almost always something that I don’t need.
Now, I’m not going to tell myself I can NEVER eat fast food again.
-Some days I just haven’t packed a lunch and I can get 2 burgers and water for only a dollar on my break; and that’s ok.
-Sometimes I’ve had a really long, tiring day and I just want to sip a shake on my way home; and that’s ok.
-Sometimes I haven’t spent anything in a long time and so I go get a foot long at Subway and make it last 2 meals; and that’s ok
-Sometimes I want to treat some of my siblings to drinks and fries because I can; and that’s ok.
The point is, I’ve discovered something in my spending that I could quickly let get out of hand. But I DISCOVERED it! So now I can make sure it doesn’t! 😀
PLAN OF ACTION
1. I need to set aside a certain amount of money that I can spend each 2 weeks (a small amount). If there is a whole week that goes by that I don’t use any of it, the next week I can buy something bigger or treat a family member to something. Or spend it on something that I need. Voila!
2. I also think that I need to be more careful about what money I take to work with me. If I say before I go to work “I don’t need anything today”, I can still walk out with a shamrock shake if I’m feeling cravey enough. So, since I already leave my purse at home anytime I’m driven to work, I think it would be financially and healthily wise to take precautions by leaving my cash and cards at home on a regular basis and only taking my allotted amount of money. (Or nothing.) This will make it so that I don’t spend more than I should spur of the moment. Voila!
3. I need to keep planning out my lunches so that I’m prepared and don’t have to buy an emergency lunch. Packing food also gives me the options to make healthier choices, like including fruit and eating leftover homemade suppers. Voila!
4. Lastly, when those cravings come upon me, I need to remember that food, as with any substance that we go to in our moment of desire, is not going to make me feel any better in the long run. It won’t bring me closer to God, it won’t fill any voids inside of me, it won’t erase my insecurities, it won’t alter my happiness. It won’t make me or break me to show restraint and learn to go without. I don’t want my cravings to be master over me, so instead I’m going to master them. With wisdom and God nudging me along, it’ll happen. Eventually. 🙂 Voila!
Yes, I have finally entered the blogging world! 😀 I figured it was about time since both my parents and 2 of my sisters have blogs, and I like to write, so why not join the throng? So here I am!
Isn’t he a cute little blogger?
The name of my blog is something I thought up about a week ago, with the insightful help (or helpful insight) of some of my Facebook friends. (I really don’t have any friends who AREN’T Facebook friends, but I merely said that to clarify that the conversation happened on Facebook.)
For any of you who did not follow that conversation, here is the breakdown of my blog name:
1. I’m generally a pretty cheerful person (However, as a warning, this is not a promise to only talk about happy things; I have a melancholy side, and sometimes I’ll do some musings and ponderings and rantings, and it may not always be cheerful; but for the most part, it should be naturally so.)
2. I ramble a lot, hence the “Ramblings” part (In case you haven’t noticed. Having it in the title is my way of publicly apologizing for how in-concise I am, as well as just a disclaimer so that you guys can’t say you weren’t warned and you thus have to deal with it; or just not read my blog. But I hope it’s not that bad. I should stop now.)
3. My initials, and nickname, is BAM, hence the “BAM” part of “BAM”blings (obviously)
4. And “What’s-Her-Face” is really just something I say a lot, and I always think it’s kind of a mixture of funny and cute, and I think it kinda fits me, so that’s why I put it there. (It’s also a way for me to put some extra self-deprecating humor into my blog title, as my other sisters have a bit of that in theirs. [“Unpublished for a Reason” and “Polished Bologna”.] Does the constant typing in parentheses and parentheses-parentheses bother people? It kinda makes me feel claustrophobic, but I feel like sometimes it’s necessary. Whatever. I’m BAMbling again.)
SO! That’s my introduction. I’ll really try to edit everything I write as much as I can and make my blogs as concise as possible. Just realize that that doesn’t mean very much. (ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD! See my cheerfulness coming out?)
ANYWAY. I’ll end this silliness by saying, welcome to my blog! And… I welcome myself to the blog world! (Can I do that?)