Be Inspired. Be Honest. Be You.

SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

Posts in Beth Hildebrand
What Makes You Feel So Alive?

IMG_5636 It was girl’s night out!  Don’t we need those every so often?  I still remember from a few months ago when I celebrate friend’s birthday with a group of girlfriends at a Paint Nite party.  Have you ever been to one of those?  I had never been to one but had always wanted to when I first heard about them.  I was really looking forward to the time to catch up with my friends’ lives as we ate dinner before painting at a restaurant in Mebane, NC.  When it was time, we walked into their side room where the restaurant had been transformed into a make-shift art studio.  When I walked in that room, my heart literally skipped a beat and a smile grew on my face that I couldn’t control and I don’t think it went away until I fell asleep that night.

Even though I received a degree in Art many years ago (and haven’t practiced it in almost just as many years), I have hardly ever used the medium paint.  My specialty involved ink, charcoal and chalk pastels.  But that night the medium didn’t matter, it’s just the art itself that ignited my passion.  For me that night, it was the art of simply being.  I had honestly not felt alive for a while but with a blank canvas in front of me, four paint-speckled paintbrushes, and a white, Styrofoam plate with puddles of red, yellow, blue and white acrylic paint on it, I came back to life.

The first strokes on the canvas of light blue paint for the sky made me feel like I was flying in it.   Adding pale pink, pastel yellow and white for the clouds seemed to magically appear.  We were to stop painting to let the sky dry before beginning the next section of the painting, but it was hard not to!  The next instruction was to swirling together a little bit of blue and a little more of yellow to create a nature green for tall grass with the brush, I started at the bottom of the canvas, stroked the brush onto the canvas in an upward motion as blades of grass and stems of flowers grew.  When finished with those, I dipped my brush into yellow, orange, even blue and purple paint to create dots.  It was an explosion of color as the flowers popped on the canvas.

Creating my own colors, the smoothness of running a brush up the canvas that left a colorful blade of grass behind it was so simple yet so fulfilling.  It felt like Someone was pouring, almost dumping, colors of happiness, hope, joy and resurrection into what had been feeling like a lifeless soul.

I agree with the words of artist Paul Cezanne: “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”

The field of flowers I painted was no masterpiece, but it did not lack any emotion.  Enthusiastic. Light-hearted. Happy and joy-full. They were all rekindled within me. Another Paul wrote these words in the Bible, For we are God’s masterpieces.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10)

I embraced every second of that hour, and still think of that night often. Being comforted with friends, being gifted with a blank canvas and some paint, being refreshed with hope and joy are what I embraced.

What is your art?  What is your passion?  What is the thing that you enjoy doing that makes your heart become even more alive?

Is it music, sewing, painting, crafting, writing, or taking photographs?  Is it playing a sport, dancing, holding babies, baking, gardening, walking barefoot along the beach shore, spending time with friends or having an hour, day or weekend of solitude?

You, my friend, are God’s masterpiece whom He created with unique passions and abilities to use to glorify Him.  When what you’re doing makes you feel more alive, free, smile, laugh and full of deep joy, then do that as often as possible!  Our Father loves to see us thrive and doing the things He knows we enjoy doing and are even good at.  Those are true gifts from Him.  I once read that when we don't open our gifts from God, or hide it, or if we do open it, and put it back in the box and slide it under the bed, then we're insulting God.  I had never thought of it that way and humbled me. So, FIND a place to play with the gift He has given you!

He has created you anew in Christ Jesus, friend!

Beth Hildebrand

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Are You An Influencer?

IMG_0848 With a cheerful “Good morning”, a gentleman held his hand out to shake mine with a big smile on his face.  “We’re so glad you’re here and so glad your son will now be part of our Elon family!”

We had received an email and invitation in the mail to come to the “Legacy Breakfast” before the Class of 2022 convocation took place under the huge, tall oak trees that shaded the couple of thousand chairs that sat under them on the oldest part of Elon’s campus.

Where did the time go?!  Our son, and oldest child, just moved to college – to Elon University – a few weeks ago.  Even though it’s a mile and a half from our house, our son is living on campus and he’s started a new chapter in his life.  Our family will never be the same.  And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing – it’s just going to be different.

But it was a little fun to receive the invitation to the Legacy Breakfast.  People who are former graduates of Elon College or University, who now have a son or daughter, or niece or nephew, or grandchild, beginning their start at Elon, were given special treatment.  Elon College is where I met my husband when I was his Orientation Leader when I was a sophomore and he was an incoming freshman.  It seemed like maybe just five years ago when I was a student there.  My husband and I are Elon’s class of 1996 and now our son the class of 2022!

Something I’ve enjoyed doing is helping older adults record their Life or Faith Story and the legacy they want to leave behind.  Reading their stories and looking at their photos brought comfort and joy to family members and were especially special to set out at the visitations from their passing and priceless Christmas gifts to grand and great-grandchildren.

By no means did I leave any kind of legacy at my alma mater and I’m not upset about it.  As each year has passed, I think a little more about what imprint I may have had on someone’s life, whether it be positive, negative or neutral.  And I know I’ve left plenty enough of the latter two.

Recently I stumbled across the book Only One Life: How A Woman’s Every Day Shapes An Eternal Legacy  by Jackie Green and Lauren Green McAfee, a mother and daughter.

Not always, but most often, it is the women who have a directional and influential role in the way a society goes, because they are the ones most often taking care of that society’s most valuable asset: the next generation.

In a similar way, there are certain cultural and societal impacts that we women are uniquely gifted by God to make.

They endow the Christian woman with an amazing power, not to mention an immense responsibility. Our unique roles and gifts provide us with the opportunity to be influencers

As a woman, whether you happen to be a mother, you have an irreplaceable role in our society.

God created women with unique gifts and traits, and we all have an important role in passing on our legacy of faith.

I like how the authors say that all of us are influencers.  If someone spoke about me after I’ve passed from this world, whatever I have done has not been me or my legacy.  It’s been Jesus, who is in me.  All Jesus!

I don’t want to be accolated for accomplishments I nay have made, because God should receive the credit and glory for the gifts and way He created me for Him to use me to help point others to His Son, Christ.

Have you heard Casting Crowns latest song, Only Jesus?  Click here to listen to it.  I want to live like the chorus says to live:

And I-I-I… I don't want to leave a legacy I don't care if they remember me Only Jesus And I-I-I… I've only got one life to live I'll let every second point to Him Only Jesus

At the same time though, the Bible is packed full of instructions about how we’re to live a life of faith and pass it along to future generations.  Here’s just one, but you can find more here.  https://www.openbible.info/topics/legacy

Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 12:28 ESV

So, yes, let’s be influencers who live with faith in our Savior and give him the glory for what gifts us with the opportunities to spread His love with others in the unique way He created each of us with special talents and abilitiesAs the mother and daughter wrote:

Our hurting world needs godly women leaders now more than ever.

We can lead. We must lead.

Future generations will bless us if we press through our obstacles, fears, and insecurities to meet the sobering challenges our families and communities now face, and invest in others.

Let us leave a spiritual, faith-filled, influencing legacy to the people Abba puts in our lives where it’s all about Jesus and not about us!

Beth

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How It's OK To Be Forgetful

Is there something in the future of your life you sometimes wonder?  And even worry a little bit – hey we’re human and I know Jesus tells us not to, but we just do sometimes. What is yours?  I admit I wonder when I get older if I'll be diagnosed with dementia and have memory loss.  After college, I worked for several years in a retirement community in the health services where the residents who did have dementia lived.

I loved spending time with them and keeping them active, but I understood when anxiety arose in situations because they couldn't remember what they said one minute earlier.  I just wonder if I’ll be one who asks your name five times in one minute!

Even now, I can be forgetful.  But I think that has to do with how filled my noggin is with the mile-long to-do list, raising teenagers, work and other responsibilities.  Or maybe it’s just being a mom.  Anyone else out there who calls your daughter your son’s name or your son your dog’s name?!  Or you forget to send your cousin a birthday card for no good reason.

Just last week though, I decided that I want to be forgetful and to see things from a different perspective.  I want to be self-forgetful.

I want to be SELF-forgetful and always remember who GOD is, all HE’s done for me, and how much HE loves me.  Moses wanted all the people with him wandering through the desert searching for their Promised Land to forget about their selves and instead thank God for all HIS goodness and holiness.  They were good at that right after He split the river for them to walk though and when He provided them manna but after a while they complained having to walk so far and ran out of ways to cook manna and started grumbling because they got tired of it and forgot the blessing God had continued to provide them.  (Exodus 16, Numbers 11)

Instead of forgetting what God has done for me, I want to forget how to put myself before Him.  I want to forget about my selfishness.  How I think of myself more than my family, friends and other people I may not even know, how I’m self-absorbed in my busyness and make little time for prayer, how I’m self-centered, pitch a tent, and won’t let anyone in, including Jesus.  Somehow, I easily forget the faithfulness and sovereignty of God.  I once read a book by Alan D. Wright, God Moments, and he addresses this disorder and called it spiritual amnesia - forgetting God’s goodness in our lives.

Can you find yourself being one of those wilderness wanderers and grumbling how things aren’t going the way you want it to because you had forgotten God’s goodness to you earlier?  If so, you’re not the only one who has a case of spiritual amnesia because I do too.

There’s been times, and maybe for you, too, where I’ve had a spiritual mountain-top experience – and grown closer and become more intimate with Jesus.  But then after a few weeks back into work or school and day-to-day life, a challenge will arise.  Or something will occur that I wasn’t expecting that bombs my world.  Why, God?!  Then tension and stress take over and somehow I forget the many ways God has been there for me.  Those memories somehow vanish!  As Christ-followers with spiritual amnesia completely forget about those moments when God was evident and obvious.  We begin to whine, moan and groan and even become frustrated, resentful or angry at Him.  We forgot the small and big blessings that God continues to give us every day.

I think we’re all subject to be forgetful of God’s faithfulness in the past.  We’re all subject to laziness instead of acting on the promises of God and we’re probably all guilty of putting off until tomorrow what Jesus has asked us to do today.

I just finished reading a book where I underlined sentences and drew big circles around sentences on almost every single page.  Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning.  He wrote this:

Our trust in Jesus grows as we shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing ourselves to be loved as we are (not as we should be).  The Holy Spirit moves us from the head to the heart, from intellectual cognition to experiential awareness.  An inward stillness pervades our being, and the time of prayer is characterized by less rational reflection and speaking and more contemplative quiet and listening.  Self-absorption fades into self-forgetfulness as we fix our gaze on the brightness of the Lord. p. 92

So, self-forgetfulness is an act of worship.  It is a gift to God. It allows us to feel His presence, hear His Voice and “gaze on the brightness” of Him.  God desires us to replace self-centeredness with self-forgetfulness and put Him first in our lives.  He wants us to live in the moment, in the present, in the NOW – not dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about the future.  Manning said, “Self-forgetfulness is a prerequisite for truly being in the now.”

Will you join me and help hold me accountable to be self-forgetful?  I'm going to close this with prayer if you'd like to join me:

Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today, without reservation and with humble confidence, for you are my loving Father.  Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tryanny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find you and delight simply and solely in pleasing you.  May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power, and your love.  Let your plan for my life and the lives of all your children gracefully unfold one day at a time.  I love you with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in you, for you are my Abba.  Amen.

(from Ruthless Trust p. 132)