Hello all! I'm Bethany, blogging under the category of “Missions, Service, and Leadership.” I call the quaint little city of Thomasville, Alabama, my home away from Judson. This is my junior year here, and I’m an elementary education major. I plan on revealing Christ’s love in the public classroom, being a children’s librarian, working as a zoo keeper, running an orphanage, writing children’s books, and drinking a great deal of coffee. But for now, I’m just clinging to the promise that God’s not finished with me yet. Feel free to look me up on Facebook if you have any questions about Judson!
tells me that red roses are “serious flowers.”
The only time
he’s ever given me any was the day he asked me to be his girl…so I suppose he’s
right.(And no, this is not a hint
that I want more red roses).
to that day always makes me laugh. I’d been helping a dear friend and fellow
Blogger, Ryan Dowling, paint a youth room at her home church in the Tuscaloosa
area. Little did I know that, as I was splatter painting away, she and that
sweet boy I’d been dating were constructing a top-secret plan via text
messaging. Right around the time I was going to head to the ladies’ room to
clean the neon shades of purple, orange, pink, and green off of my face, arms,
clothes, and unwashed hair, Thomas walked in. I obviously hadn’t been expecting
him, but I agreed to go along with his surprise.
To make a
long story short…we ended up getting some lunch and having a picnic in the
park. His words were very honest and caring as he asked me to be his
girlfriend, and I responded with…”sure.”
after being smelly and splattered in paint, dropping his tater tots in the
dirt, and getting us both attacked my flesh eating fire ants do I reply with my
not so assuring “sure.”
convincing him that a shrug of the shoulder actually meant “yes, I’d love to,
of course, or heck yeah!” he gave me the “serious flowers”…as unprepared and
surprised as I was.
definitely felt similar emotions of surprise and unpreparedness during my first
week back in school. And, oddly enough, there have also been some red roses.
Sunday of each fall semester at Judson College brings about a unique tradition
known as Rose Sunday. There is a rich history behind this special day, but I’ll
let you read about that from Judson’s History and Traditions Blogger, Audra
2010, was my third Rose Sunday at Judson College. But, in many ways, it was my
first. Senior hood and its traditions are very important here, and they begin
during your third year of study. This past Sunday was my first experience of
senior hood….which is why I’ve been left feeling surprised and unprepared. It’s
just too strange to be on this side of things at Judson. I wear a cap and gown,
underclassmen open doors for me, and new students approach me for answers to
their concerns and questions. Seniors at Judson, in a way, are automatic
leaders and servants. It comes with the territory.
managed to slip away from the crowd this past Sunday morning as the entire
senior class gathered in the parlors, awaiting our opportunity to lead the rest
of the school to Siloam Baptist Church. Sometime during those few moments, as I
was sitting in a windowsill looking out onto Judson’s front grounds, the senior
oak tree, and Siloam’s steeple, the weight of being an academic junior and a
social senior hit me.
In two short
years I’ve met and grown up with girls who are now my best friends, and I will
only have two short years more with them and with Mother Judson.
I must say,
the weight of this knowledge was pretty serious...so the red rose pinned to my
academic regalia was most appropriate.
being overwhelmed with this knowledge and with the time pressing upon us, we
Judson girls have decided to actively make the best of our glorious time left
here within the halls of ivy. We certainly are not responding with a mere "sure" or a shrug of the shoulder! We’re making lists of things to do together, planning road trips, scrounging for money,
encouraging each other in our walks with Christ, and pushing toward
our own career and life goals with more dedication than we would have thought
should wear our “serious flowers” everyday to remind us to be leaders here at
Judson and to make the most of our time here together.
Most of us have many, some related and some random.
And somehow…they all come together to make us who we are and
who we’re not.
Our stories tell where we’ve been, where we’re going, and
how we’re going to get there.
Sometimes they reveal to our audiences a bit of who we are.
But, more often than not, the stories tell the storyteller about the
Storyteller…whether we realize it or not.
I’m beginning my junior year here at Judson College, after
having finished a summer of mission work right here in Marion, Alabama.And one of the many, many things God has taught me during
the past few months is the importance of stories…yours, mine, ours, theirs, and
Even Jesus told stories…we call them parables.
I’ve seen, heard, and felt the presence of Christ in Perry
County and at this small women’s college in numerous ways during my time here;
how could I possibly keep these stories to myself?
I’ve seen His presence in the people of Marion and of
Judson. I’ve heard it in old hymns and from the mouths of strangers. I’ve felt
it not only at this Christian college, but also in the presence of those who
haven’t really accepted God’s story.
Although this is my third year at Judson, I really feel like
this is only the beginning of my story.
Over the course of the upcoming year, I promise tales of fun
and excitement. There are adventures and good times to be had. You’ll find
some humorous anecdotes, for sure, but there may also be recollections of
grief, challenges, and obstacles. Many of these stories will, of course, be
about Judson College,elementary education, mission work, service learning, and student
leadership…these topics are all part of my story in God.
I’d love for you to consider your stories as you read mine…this
may be only the beginning for you too.
Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy…
The Giving Tree is a book, a children’s book, about a tree and a little boy.
***From the time the boy was very young he went to the tree
and swung from her branches, ate her apples, and rested in her shade.
As time passed and the boy grew older he wanted money, so the tree gave him her apples to sell to the people in the city.
Later on, the boy needed a house so that he could start a family…the tree told the boy to cut down her branches and build a house.
Once the boy was very old and very unhappy he wanted to build a boat and sail away.
The Giving Tree gave him her tree trunk, even though she knew it meant he would leave her. ***
There have been many times this summer during my internshipthat I have felt like the tree.There have been days where I knew I’d been stretched too far, and it really did take every ounce of faith I had just to get out of bed in the morning.
From my first week of mission work, when I visited an old sick woman whose house was falling apart, and I fought back tears as I sat on her tattered couch swapping recipes while trying to ignore the roaches crawling across my toes…
To the long and challenging days of day camp and VBS at Berean Baptist Church, when I and the other interns had to chase kids to keep them from running into the street, and I heard a story about a young girl whose mother had sold her daughter as a prostitute to get drug money.
To this week, our last literacy camp for middle school students when I had the wonderful opportunity to work one-on-one with a boy who has down syndrome, and I often wondered if I would ever teach him how to tell time or count money…
There have been days when I didn’t think I could answer one more phone call from someone in need or watch one more person come into the Sowing Seeds of Hope office needing money to help pay their bills.
There were weeks at a time when I didn’t think I could visit one more widow, or hear one more story about a child’s terrible home life.
More often than not; however, I’ve been like the boy.
I’ve cried and complained to God and had some very angry late night jogs alone in Judson’s gym telling God everything that I knew Perry County needed.
I’ve journaled countless pages asking my Giving Tree, my Lord, for just a few more apples, some branches, or even a ship to sail away in.
The story ends when “the boy” is an old man, and all he wants to do is sit with his tree…he needs to rest.
The tree has everything he needs.
Now that the summer is over, and the only “assignment” I have left with Student.Go is our debriefing next week…I feel like this is where I am.
I’ve already written too much to tell all the stories, explain all the lessons learned, or share what my Giving Tree has given and shown to me.
But I leave you with this story about a tree and a boy and the truth found in 2 Peter 1:3 which tells us that
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
The first two “beyonds” made sense to me during orientation…"Sure this will be challenging" I thought, "but I get it."
Going “beyond myself” was something I hadn’t really thought about before then….but after just one week serving Perry County I’ve seen just how much it goes right along with the other “beyonds” and how important it is.
When I’m in a familiar setting, I’m comfortable. Nothing about going “beyond myself” should be familiar, natural, or comfortable.
And when I’m doing things that I can do…I’m doing things that I can do and lose sight of what I can do and be through God and how I can go “beyond myself” by being a tool for Him and His purposes.
So…what have I learned since orientation? I’ve only been “on the job” for a few days.
One word: Transparency.
Transparency is something I hear my Judson sisters and a few other friends of mine talk about….ALL THE TIME. And man, is it annoying! I have no desire to let people really see me. My personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions are just that…personal. And up until this week…I’ve been working very hard for the past 20 years to keep them that way.
But, oh transparency. It’s become quite necessary for me this summer already for a few reasons, but there is one that’s really the most important:
Connecting with the people of Perry County is an absolute must. My mission this summer is not just about bringing kids to VBS and teaching struggling students how to read, although those things are important. My mission is to get to know people, hear their stories, understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through, and build some lasting relationships. The trick to this though…is that most of the people are pretty hesitant to open up to me…unless I open up to them first. How can we build bridges? Someone has to lay the foundation.
Webster defines “transparency” as being easily detected or seen through,readily understood, characterized by visibility or accessibility.
It’s definitely a challenge for me to be all of these things…but remember we’re talking about going “beyond.”
What’s interesting is the other, more technical definition of transparency:
Viewed by light shining through
Think about those old projectors teachers used to use in school to show you things in class. It’s not about the transparency sheet….it’s about the light making use of the transparency sheet to show you something you need to know and understand.
How’s that for a smack in the face?
Being transparent isn’t about me. It’s not about my feelings, emotions, thoughts, and experiences…other than how God uses them.
Being transparent isn’t about people seeing me or knowing who I am…it’s about people seeing God and who He is.
This is something I needed to learn before I could truly enter the mission field, and my prayer for this summer, and for the remainder of my time in service to Perry County is that people will truly see me, but that they will see beyond me…by the light from the Father shining through.