Be Inspired. Be Honest. Be You.

SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

Posts in Beth Hildebrand
Have You Ever Stood In The Middle Of A Rainbow?

Have you ever stood in the middle of a rainbow? 

One that unexpectantly appeared where there was no sign of a summer thunderstorm around?

Unexpectantly is what happened one afternoon last week while our family was on our family vacation. 

Four years ago, our family took three weeks and drove across the country and back as far west as Utah and Arizona.  We didn’t have quite enough time to make it to California, and our kids have wanted to go there since. 

Finding it hard to believe, our daughter is at the age where she’s beginning to look at colleges now and one place she’s interested in is in Arizona.  It was a good “excuse” to make a trip out of it and go to Cali while we were over there. 

After the tour and spending a few days with family who lives there, we packed up, got in the rental car and headed to our first stop, Hollywood, CA.  That was our first stop (for just an afternoon and night…that place is CROWDED and CRA-ZEE!)   Then we drove up US-1 along the Pacific coast, stopping along the way to spend some time in Monterey, San Francisco and our final stop was the Yosemite National Park. 

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None of us had ever been to Yosemite and were all amazed at the stunning beauty of the spectacular views of waterfalls, enormous granite walls, meadows, wildflowers and trees that surrounded us as we were in the park.  We were also blessed to be there at the time when there were several BIG waterfalls because the snow on top of the rock mountains was still melting from the winter and rolling off the top. 

Our first afternoon there, we hiked on one of the trails to get a closer view of a waterfall.  It was beautiful from the distance as the sun-shining rays made the water sparkle.  From one-fourth of a mile away from it, we began to feel the mist from the waterfall brushing or face and arms, even as we walked on a wooded trail.  The sound of rushing water became louder as we climbed over rocks to get a closer look and when the wind picked up speed, it made us very aware of the frigid and powerful water cascading down the wall.

We passed many people who had been to the end of the trail and were returning, speaking in different languages, had smiles on their faces and were dry. Not wet.

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When we got to the end, the mist had become like sprinkling rain because we were close to where the cascading water crashed into the massive creek that ran down the mountain.  We had only stood there for about ten seconds and suddenly, it felt like the sky opened and it poured rain – almost completely soaking us.  No one saw the gust of wind that blasted in from a different direction causing the water from the waterfall to drench us.

It just so happened that our daughter was the only one who didn’t get soaked, and she happened to get a picture of me at the tail end of the gust of water.  She wasn’t taking a picture of me getting wet; she was taking a picture of the rainbow that had just formed.  I had no inkling there was a rainbow until she called out, “Mom!  You’ve got to see this picture!”   This is the unexpected view I mentioned above: 

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I was standing right in the middle of that rainbow!  I was truly surprised and had never thought of that happening, especially on a mountain in California.

I was reminded how rainbows represent God’s promise to us.  God’s covenant to Noah (and all of us) after 40 days and nights of solid rain and flooding, is that He will never flood the earth like that again with water. 

A covenant is a completely devoted and deep-down promise given to someone, never to be broken.

That night I was lying in the dark hotel room revisiting earlier that day in my mind – the vastness of God’s masterpiece in Yosemite and a rainbow reaching through me.  Then I heard the words God whispered to me:

Rainbows represent covenants or promises.  I put that rainbow right through you to remind you, my beloved, that I am yours and you are Mine.  I’ve promised to never abandon you, forget about you, leave you or forsake you.  A rainbow is to remind you that after a flood or a storm (in your life) IS a new start.  A new beginning.  Something beautiful.  And I keep my promises.” 

Those quiet words helped me gently fall to sleep. 

It wasn’t until after we were home from our trip, when I looked through my journal and the brochure from Yosemite and read that the name of the waterfall where I had the rainbow experience is named “The Bridal-Veil Fall”. 

Your new name will be… “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.”  (Isaiah 62:4)

Talk about a covenant! God surprised me, and He can surprise you, too, - and it’s always when you least expect it.  They can be little or large but whatever they are, He lovingly and joyfully gives them to you.  Isn’t it fun to give someone a surprise gift?!  You see, He wants to shower you with gifts to remind you how much he loves you.  He loves you with passion which was seen and proven as He rose from the dead after dying a harsh and criminal death on a cross.  For you.  And me. 

God can even make unique promises to you when it’s a hot, sunny day, and you have your sprinkler on in your yard and unexpectantly the sun hits the water just the right way and a rainbow forms.  The next time that happens or when you see a rainbow, remember that YOU are God’s bride, YOU are HIS BELOVED, and He keeps His promises that He’s written in His Love Letter (the Bible), TO YOU, forever! 

And ever!

Amen!

Beth

 

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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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