30 March 2011

Trying to figure out who we are.

(this was on SLC today...wow. Hit so close to home. SO true.)

Trying to figure out who we are.: "
I used to think I could quickly grow a mustache.
My beard is always patchy and hole laden and bad. (Not bad meaning good like Run DMC intoned but bad meaning bad.)
But mustaches? The Acuff family mustache is too fast and too furious. I always thought that was the one bit of facial hair I could hang my hat on or at least a mustache comb. Until I met my friend Daniel.
He sits next to me at work and over a weekend is able to grow the thickest, most committed mustache I’ve ever seen. It is so impressive that when you see his mustache on a Monday, it confuses your sense of time. In your head you think, “Have I fallen asleep for a few weeks or stepped into a parallel universe? I swear I saw him last Friday but the robustness of that mustache would argue otherwise. What year is it? When am I?”
He can grow a quick mustache.
The other thing he’s good at is dropping some wisdom, which is exactly what he did a few weeks ago in a conversation we were having about fear.
With my new book Quitter coming out on May 10, one of the questions I have bouncing around in my head is, “What if it fails?” The Stuff Christians Like book did well and there’s a part of me that fears that Quitter won’t do as well. I know that’s a negative thought, but I want to be honest about what’s bouncing around in my head right now.
Here’s what Daniel told me:
“The problem is that we all start off with an identity. It’s who we are and who God made us to be. Then we have some small degree of success and we add that to our identity. That success becomes our identity. So now, when we try something new, we’re not just afraid to fail, we’re afraid to lose our identity. That’s what’s terrifying. That’s why people are afraid to take risks or try new things. It’s not just failure at stake, we think we’re going to lose our identity and that’s overwhelming.”
That mentality is easy to see in a city like Nashville. I have musician friends who released successful first albums and are now afraid to release a second album. Because if success is their identity, if they fail, they’ve lost their entire identity. But I don’t think that’s just something artists struggle with. The truth is, I think on some level must of us wrestle with the temptation to let other things become our identity.
You see this in parents who turn the performance of their kids into their identity. Sometimes parents get crazy with pushing kids in sports or school because more than a soccer goal or a spelling test is at stake. Their identity is up for grabs.
You see this in dating relationships. Sometimes we’re desperate for them not to end for the wrong reasons. With popular song lyrics telling us, “What am I supposed to do, when the best part of me was always you?” it’s so easy to think, “If I lose this boyfriend, I’ll lose my whole identity.”
You see this at work, when someone scraps and fights for a surprisingly small amount of power and politics inside a cubicle. It’s not a bonus at stake or a plaque or a recognition, it’s their identity they’re fighting for.
Over and over again, whether you’re writing a new book, or dating a new girl or applying for a new job, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “identity addition.”
But that debate is over. You’re identity has been decided. How you perform in a new opportunity will not finalize that.
You are a son or daughter of Christ.
You are an heir to the throne.
No success or failure should become your identity.
No rise or fall can determine who you are.
And though that feels simple and sometimes even impossible to believe, that is what I remind myself of every day. We are God’s children.
And you and I can rest in the truth of that and be bold in the risks we take and the hope we have. Because our identity is not at stake."

29 March 2011

Class Schedule

Well, I post this every semester, I think, when I figure out what kind of classes I'm going to take. Why should this one be any different? Here's what the remainder of 2011 looks like for Beth:

Spanish 101 (Block A)
Spanish 102 (Block B)
(I can't decide if this is good or bad..will I be fed up with school and be frustrated? Or will it be productive and fun?)


9-9:50 Spanish 200 (yay..spanish..more spanish)
10-10:50 Badminton (with Sarah. I've never been good at this sport, but I'mma try and have funsies =))
12-12:50 Realism/Naturalism (YAY LIT! with one of my favorite professors)
Work in the afternoon

8:30-9:20 Spanish lab (I'm not sure what this does..but, yes, I'll get up early)
9:30-10:45 Shakespeare (dreading..except it's with my advisor and he's fabulous)
2-3:15 Contemporary Lit (with yet another favorite, except he grades harshly on essays)
4:15-5:30 Graphic Design (yup..no more art history. bittersweet. this is with Susan. I'm STOKED)
Work maybe 11-2.

I could probably put up my classes for spring semester, but I'll be nice and hold off on that. BUT, for the record, I do have them planned out and that's a little frightening. I'm almost finished with four years of college...seventeen years of school. ah.

28 March 2011

the "just got paid" friday nights

Purely for your enjoyment:

While sitting on our beds at our respective homes over spring break, Sarah and I decided to make an epic dinner this past Friday for Susan and Madison. We even decided on three recipes (Entrée, side, and dessert) and commenced our ingredients-gathering while our mothers were around to help with logistics.
In essence, we've been planning this dinner for a LONG time.
Friday rolled around - I was a bit sick from allergies and Sarah was dealing with some other rooming issues for next year, but that didn't phase us. We hit up Walmart for our last remaining ingredients AS SOON as we were out of work/class, then came back to legitimately blow up the 3rd Morgan kitchen.
It was epic.
We started out with our dessert - Beignets straight from Disney's Princess & The Frog cookbook. I've never had them, but I knew they had to be good...after all they're "man-catchin' beignets." Well, we didn't catch any men. We DID almost catch the kitchen on fire. Let's just say frying is interesting in a dorm where the smoke alarms are EXTRA sensitive. The dough started out a little soupy so we had to modify the instructions. The result, at first, looked like a lot of things besides cute little squares, but after they were sprinkled (okay..more along the lines of dredged) in(with) confectioner's sugar, they were to die for.
We started with dessert for obvious reasons - more munching time. =)
Second, we made some potato-poppers, but we modified the recipe to include more potato. These ALSO involved frying bacon. Sarah took that task on and rocked it. She's a good bacon fryer..and beignet fryer. =) While making those we made our own chicken tenders - breaded and EVERYTHING. Gosh, they were good. I also liked this recipe more because it involved baking instead of more frying. Less grease = better sometimes. Especially with those beignets to look forward to!!

After getting flour and grease everywhere, opening the window to let out some of the "smoke," partially having a facial from the oven, washing a few dishes, arranging the plates/bowls on the table, and cleaning a bit....we were ready.
Sus and Madi came with a homemade card and cute tissue paper flowers for us - such a fabulous dinner gift. =)
Also - needed detail - Sarah and I wore dresses to class/work that Friday and, of course didn't get to change before dinner (yup..we cooked in cute dresses, too) so Sus and Madi dressed up as well. Adorable.
Our dinner was just beautiful. We chatted. We took pictures.

We ate. We laughed. We practically died over the beignets. So good. I've missed homemade family dinners and, in absolute honesty, that was the best meal I've had in three years. SO good to sit with those girls.

We left there for a little Cups & Mugs action - seriously my favorite. We played board games all night (Sorry and Jenga to be exact) and chatted it up with Matt, Allison, and Claire -- Some of the most incredible people you'll meet in Rome. Check them out. For real. We also chilled by the Forum on the bridge, took crazy jumping pictures and sat on a cute little swing - all four of us. We're cute.

I can't tell you how much I love these girls.. I can't tell you how much they challenge me, how much they make me laugh, how much they build me up, how much I enjoy their company, how much I love seeking God with them, how much they love. Even when circumstances are so rough and unbearable at times, they are there - rock solid. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have people comment on our "posse" and to have the privilege to call them my core family. I love them SO much.

24 March 2011

creativity madness

I know most people are caught up in March Madness right now (and, gosh, I wish I was right along side them), but I've been stuck doing school work. I thought I'd take a second to share a little bit with you.

First of all, I'm taking this Renaissance Literature course. It has questioned my desire to be an English major so many times in the past six weeks - more than I can count - but I'm making it. After finishing Shakespeare's sonnets - yup..all of them - our assignment was to compose our own sonnet. Below is my attempt at a Shakespearean sonnet. Some parts of the meter are a bit off, as I was told today when I got my grade back, but I'm kind of proud. It's nice. And my professor said it was "fun." (points. seriously.)

The Lion

Most ferocious friend, 'tis here thou art found
Hidden amongst the folds of tousled sheets.
Ne;er i my poor heart thy mute roar will sound
for my absence thy favor doth mistreat.
Forever in my unkempt bed you lie
with transfixed and unmoved stares.
My heart beside you there desires to fly
betwixt the splendid stars and cool night airs.
But cunning Truth upon us hath achiev'd
a devilish sort of trickery so bleak:
These cherished lies my heart hath e'er believ'd
and though my presence thou doth swiftly seek,
Thy love and mine shall always be foreign,
For cloth art thou always, my stuft lion.

I've also spent a few nights working on and brainstorming my project for 2D-design. We had to take a text (it could be any length we like) and create an image from that text. She didn't want a direct translation of the text into the image, but, of course, wanted to go a step further to create something original and avoid cliches (like any good design, I'd think). I chose the word "trust" after spending a few weeks thinking about what it means to trust God.
In a "non-spiritual" way, I toyed with the idea of a child's trust in .. something - whether it be parents or authority figures or someone/something else and how this trust is almost blind at times. In a more spiritual way I asked the question, "If the storm's coming, will you still trust God with your most prized possession?" 

(excuse the poor image quality - it's from my phone)

22 March 2011


Our personalities change depending on our company - how close you are to the people you're with, how you met them, your common interests, where you are, what you're doing.

But where do you find your identity?

It's simple, almost comfortable, for us to find our identities in our careers, a significant other, family, or friends...but is that where it should be?
These people, just like you and I, are looking for something to define them. When they leave, what will you identify yourself in, by, or with?

If you were to strip everything away today - all your family, all of your friends, your current location & job - where would you find your identity?

There is only one place to find yourself - in the One that does not change, does not end, and will not leave.

A friend of mine told me today, "I've never been more okay with dating God than I am right now. I know my identity is safe in Him. I don't have to worry about Him checking out or changing with the fads. I can be me in Him because all I am is who He is."


21 March 2011

red green color blind

I don't like feeling attached. There's a certain amount of need that comes with being attached. There's a certain amount of humility that comes with that need.

I can't do this by myself.

Over the past few days (okay, subconsciously for weeks) I've been searching my heart for the line in the sand or beats per minute that reads "too much" or "not enough" on the relational scale.
Where. should. I. stop.
How.much.is.  enough.
Where does comfort cross the line into "wrong" territory and become too much?
How do I spread myself out enough to love everyone?
I'm in an endless game of Red Light, Green Light and I'm color blind. 

The truth is...I don't know. I don't like admitting that I don't know.

I'm realizing there's not much of me and I'm learning to thank God for that, but what little bit of me there is - I want it to glorify Him.
But it's wearying.
Thankful that He knows we will have those times when running after Him is just tiring. Thankful, though, that I get tired...so that I see how insufficient my strength is in comparison to His.

edit (translation):

I don't like being attached because it feels weird. It's just a control issue. It's like being attached to Jesus sometimes - I don't have control so I feel out of control. I don't control my friendships..it's a mutual + God thing and so it's odd to me. you know? And I think there's a humility that comes with it because you have to be willing to sacrifice - you have to be willing to put the other person in front of you and not be confident that you always have things right (though you shouldn't think you always have things wrong either).
I've been thinking a lot about "too much" and "not enough" in friendships lately .. and with GOD lately. In one friendship alone, have questioned the "too much" part - do we talk too much, do we hug too much, do we want to be near each other too much, etc. then, with another friend (and in some cases with God, I feel like), the question is where am I not being/doing enough in the relationship and how can I fix that. Spreading myself out to love everyone enough - how do we balance our time ("we" = blanket term) one-on-one with each other, in groups, and by ourselves
   and the last last part- sometimes it's just so tiring chasing after God. Not that we have to run so far, but seeking him takes time and effort like any other relationship and sometimes it just gets tiring, but that's where we know that we're NOT enough..that our strength and efforts aren't enough to make it work.

16 March 2011


I don't know where you are or what experience you've had with small groups, but I'd love to hear from you.

What have you found that just works - helps people get plugged into a small group, keeps them involved, appeals to you?

What have you noticed does not work? How would you change it?

What do you suggest?

move move movement

Today has been so crazy. I just spent a good while doing one of those brainstorms where you just write whatever comes to mind, but instead of random statements I was asking questions. And yes, they were in list form.

I've got a pretty big decision coming up: How much do I want to be involved in Relay/CAC next year.
(side note: I'll be a senior. in college. in less than 2 months.)
I've blogged enough about Relay, I think, to at least give you a glimpse of my heart for the program and its goals. It's a big deal.

God's also put another calling on my heart - one that requires a more personal role. That's what my list was for - a hot ton of brainstorming for this one particular place where God said, "jump."

I'm listening to Rend Collective Experiment's Movements on repeat right now. Insane. Please check this song.
It, like so much else in my life (Crazy Love by Francis Chan for Bible study and Radical by David Platt, not to mention Connect Rome messages and talks with friends), seems to point to movement. Trust.

It's not giving out of our surplus, but giving out of our need.
It's not asking God for advice, but asking Him to take complete leadership.

David Platt said, "Sometimes Jesus launches direct attacks on our security and stability if it's not in Him."

Do you trust Him? God said move. Sitting here isn't an option. There's no such thing as a follower of Christ who isn't a disciple or isn't in the business of making disciples.

When Joshua and the Israelites were carrying the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan River, Joshua didn't stand five feet from the river, look up, and say, "Alright, God. We're here. Move the water."
God said for them to touch the water with the soles of their feet (Joshua 3:7-8...actually, just the whole chapter) ... THEN He'd move the waters.

He calls us to move. "Jump," he says....then He will move.

I don't do this much. I rationalize and think, sweat and worry, before I dare stick my toe out there.
"God, is this sanitary? Are you sure?"

He will call you to whatever makes Him most glorified. Walk in that. Romans 8:28 says He will make all things beneficial if we love Him. His glory is most beneficial to us. Let Him be the foundation of your steps. Step out on HIM.

You can pray all you want. It's good. God said to cast your cares on HIM and to pray.
Faith without works is vain. (James 2:20)

Where is He calling you to move? How is He defining "trust" in your life?
How fast are you going to obey?


14 March 2011

breathe your breath

Sometimes I wait an unrealistic amount of time between posts. God has been doing so much.

First of all, this past Thursday "started" my spring break. I finished my sonnet and turned it in, had a fabulous day of classes getting out EARLY, and ended up spending my evening at Cups and Mugs with two of the most beautiful ladies. The heart-to-heart that night really was a heart-to-heart. It's been a while since I've felt so light after leaving a place. Our hearts conversed just as much as if not more than we actually spoke out loud. I love those times. So much.
I love Cups and Mugs. So thankful for this place.

I've started noticing in the past few weeks how systematic my life has become. It's a given that classes will take up their allotted time, and work and meetings as well, but my friendships have become a business.
There are hours and time slots with specific people's names on them.

I can't stand it.

I'm the kind of person who flies with the wind and acts in the moment.  Spontaneous. I love the song "All My Fountains" by Chris Tomlin (this would be my half-shameless plug for the new Passion CD. DEF. worth investing in) because the lead guitar part sounds so spontaneous to me - it's upbeat and it goes with the rest of the song just because. It sounds like water. Water just flows. No one tells it where to flow. It just does. You can't keep it from moving. It's a free spirit.

I've been praying about this newly systematized way of relating to the people in my life and I just don't think it's right. To some extent you have to have planning, but not that much. You're not relate-able that way. Instead, you're doing business.

Just like in church..when systems are created to bring people together - whether it be a general checklist to put someone in a small group or get them involved at all in church (trying to avoid this..help?).  You can't learn about someone or be intimate with them if you only meet with them for an hour every week. You can't do life with people you only see for one of your 168 hours a week any more than you can be fed for one week in the hour you have at church on Sundays.
We don't work that way.
My heart. Your heart. Our hearts don't do that.
If we systemize and categorize and waffle everything we turn into robots.
That's not living.
That's not breathing.
That's definitely not loving.

Last Thursday's date at Cups and Mugs wasn't planned and God moved. Gosh..He m.o.v.e.d. I didn't expect Him to.....and honestly, I didn't ask Him to - I forget to ask. I forget to expect sometimes..a lot. But He came. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst," Jesus says in Matthew 18:20. I feel like we've been gathering in the name of friendship. Conversations at these overly-planned dates start out with, "tell me about your life. Go."

I can't do that anymore. It hurts my heart and I'm trying to pursue a God who demands all of me...not a specific percentage. I can't give a specific percentage to His masterpieces either because He's called us to sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron, not two Q-tips. They don't sharpen each other. Eventually they just fall apart. I also can't encourage people to be in small groups with their friends and people they're already doing life with when I'm not doing life with my life group..

God's given us each other. Let's appreciate that, not take it for granted. Let's live together, not have business meetings. I want you in my life. I want you in my heart. I want our hearts to breathe together in the Spirit.
Let's do life together.

p.s. let's have group dates. please.

05 March 2011


Blogging from one of my favorite locations today: Cups and Mugs - if you're in Rome or near Rome ever, you need to check this place out. The environment is entirely too inviting for words.

Late last night I had an extended quiet time that was beautiful. Unfortunately, I was so tired that I almost fell asleep a few times, but I've been reading through 1 and 2 Corinthians lately and stumbled upon a few crazy things last night that I want to share.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 "For we do not want you to be unaware of our affliction that took place in the province of Asia: we were completely overwhelmed -- beyond our strength -- so that we even despaired of life. However, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead."

I chose the HCS version for this on purpose. I read the ESV and MSG which are my go-to for a more trans-literal translation of the scripture, but I love the picture this particular version paints.  What really struck me was the part that says "we personally had a death sentence within ourselves." This may not be the way it was intended, but think about it: these people purposefully stepped so far out of their comfort zones in order to truly trust God.
I've been learning a lot about trust lately. The project I'm doing for my 2D design class right now is actually based around the word "trust." Trust isn't necessarily ignorant, though I think we often see it that way. Trust is knowing the potential outcomes of a situation and doing it any way (my personal definition). In some situations, that's called being stubborn. Maybe there's a bit of stubbornness that comes with trust.
This scripture is like saying, "We gave ourselves a death sentence - purposefully taking an absolutely irreversible step in the Lord - by pushing ourselves as far out of our comfort zone as possible so that we absolutely cannot depend on ourselves."

How WILD is that?! So often we sit in our comfort zones or, if we do dare take a step outside what we can control, outside the box we've put God in, we only put our big toe out there. The rest of us stays inside. We're not willing to LEAP. We're not willing to have the soles of our feet touch the raging currents of the overflowing Jordan river at harvest time in order to see God move. We won't give Him that much. We'll simply compartmentalize and give Him our big toe - give Him our nothing in essence.

I know nothing about trust. I want to know what it means to trust. This has been such a life-long learning process for me.
In the face of blaring memories that want to convince you this time will be no different.
In the face of no concrete outcome.
In the face of complacency.

2 Corinthians 2:11 says, "...so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his intentions."
Division. Chaos. Confusion. Doubt.
We aren't ignorant of Satan's tactics to call on our insecurities and our wounds. The verse before this calls us to forgive - forgive so that Satan can't come into your mind through the hole of hurt, anger, and frustration. Be at peace in the Lord! Be full of His righteousness and love, overflowing in forgiveness to those around you.
Trust God with those situations you can't control and forgive. Let Him carry it. Let Him move in you. Trust Him - take an irreversible step and see what He does.
He might part the waters for you.

02 March 2011


I'm in the middle of a research paper on a few individuals involved in (victims of, really) the degenerate art movement of the early 20th century - for my art history class, of course. And by "in the middle of," I mean I have at least eleven tabs open on Firefox right now with different articles, biographies, etc.
I get a little overwhelmed when I do research for a paper like this. I'll be reading one article that will link to another one I'd like to read or references someone/something I need to check out so I open another tab with that information, but go back and finish the first article. Then I have to go through the next tab I've opened and that one usually has something else I need to check out...it's a never-ending process. I promise.
Ironically, this is my favorite part. The writing-the-paper part isn't appealing to me. You'd think, with my English major, I'd love the writing part. My adviser pointed out a few semesters ago that I love research because I love history. I love writing because it's an expression. The two cross, but very rarely.

Lately, this overwhelming feeling has taken a different turn - a turn toward complacency and frustration. My spirit is tired. I'm ready to rest. I want to sit at the feet of my Abba and breathe slow, deep, intentional breaths.

Today, I've been overwhelmed in a completely different way. I spent a good amount of time in the Word today - a good hour outside in the sunshine with a beautiful heart. We were quiet and it was so good. I was able to have coffee with another dear friend and have dinner with my church family. Both included a large amount of discussion - what's going on in our lives and how God is moving.

I'm overwhelmed by the blessings in my life. My breath catches when I get a text that says something along the lines of, "How can I pray for you?" or "How's your heart?" These questions are so extravagant to me because I know the people asking them are truly asking to know because they care. It's not something they feel obligated to do or do simply for the latest gossip. It's precious. I can't begin to tell you how difficult it's been to adjust to this crazy new place I'm at where I have a core that truly cares and means what they say. It's crazy to have a core that desires God with such an intensity and prays intentionally for His presence in my life and in all our lives. WILD.

Being overwhelmed isn't always bad. The rough draft of this research paper is due tomorrow, but my professor has presented me with some of the most incredible opportunities to study this further.
God is present and living in every situation I encounter and has a plan. He's HAD a plan. I'm living in it.
My friends aren't going anywhere. God will continually overwhelm me with everything they're learning and how He wants us to learn from each other.
I can't wait to see how He moves. He's planted seeds of inspiration in my heart and a passionate desire to follow hard after Him - even if it means actually writing research papers over and over again. I can't wait to move in Him and continue this crazy dance we're doing.

This song has been stuck in my head tonight. It's by Grace Midtown:

In your hands I find my healing.
What is this love that has redeemed us?
What is this love that's found me?
Love that covers all, has covered all my soul.
I feel myself drowning in Your grace.

You take this broken soul and make it beautiful.
My God, You will never let me go.
You've seated me in heavenly places within a love that never changes.
In all my life, I live for You, alone.