Our Beth Moore cyber study group has grown again — Lauren says we’re maxed out at
29 30 people. She’s once again provided us with new HTML to update our chart and blogroll. Thanks, Lauren!
Wow — what an awesome, life-changing week of intense Bible reading for me. I can’t wait to go see what everyone else in the group says about it. I worked on my homework as much as I could — but I still have to finish Day 5. I’m trying to keep up! And I don’t even have an excuse like Patricia, who says she got busy preparing for her interview with Rebecca St. James!
The whole theme of Living Beyond Yourself is based on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Beth Moore says some of us don’t have a lifetime to wait for these character traits to develop slowly and ripen. We need a change right NOW!
That’s me. Reading the Word keeps me connected to the Vine — the growing, living, overflowing Vine of Jesus Christ. If I’m cut off, I’ll die. I’ll get all brown and withery and crinkly, falling to the ground. Useless. Full of myself and not full of the Holy Spirit. Yes, Beth Moore is talking to me.
I could go through the homework verse by verse and tell you about 90 million things that leaped off the page into my heart — but that would take a week. Instead, I’ll give you a scenario of something that happened YESTERDAY in which the Holy Spirit got a hold of me and helped me to live beyond myself.
I’d scheduled a portrait sitting for my youngest daughter who turns one next week. This is supposed to be her six-month sitting. I had some trouble getting this done, can you tell? I decided to go to a chain portrait studio because my wonderful local photographer who I love very dearly has raised her prices, and I can’t go there very often unless she’s running a special.
I had to change this appointment three times because of various catastrophes, and I finally rescheduled it inadvertently during spring break — which meant I had to bring the whole crew with me. Now, this ordeal first involved my plowing through basement boxes to find the perfect-sized hand-me-down dress, washing and ironing it, bathing the baby and making sure she stayed clean, praying she wouldn’t get a bump or scratch before picture day — AND gathering all the other kids to load up and drive across town.
We showed up only five minutes late. ONLY!
When I walked into the studio “area,” the woman was sitting in front of the computer moniter on the phone. I waited for a minute or so, then she looked over at me and asked, “Are you here for something?”
“Yes, I’m here for a portrait sitting.” (Thinking: my baby! my baby girl is turning one! the last baby portrait!)
She sighed and said to someone in the phone, “I’ve got stuff to do. I’ll call you back.”
(So I guessed I was her “stuff to do.”)
My three older kids sat down quietly in the waiting area while we moved back to the portrait-taking area. I saw a beautiful child-sized white wicker chair, just like the one my other kids had their baby portraits made in. I asked her if we could use this for the picture.
“No, it’s the wrong size,” she snapped back.
“Well, I think it looks like a wonderful size. If you don’t mind, I’d love to use it for the picture,” I said.
“Not unless you want to get me fired for using the wrong size chair!”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to do that.” I began to feel a flicker of anger … seething. Why was she treating me this way? Did she have ANY idea how much effort it took to get me there? And how precious this last baby portrait sitting was to me?
She found a short, slippery wooden chair and plopped it on the white-carpeted stage. “This is the one we have to use,” she said.
Well, my daughter wasn’t happy about getting her picture made. Even though she looked like total Gerber Baby cuteness in her soft pink dress, she started crying. By now, my other wonderful favorite photographer would have been jumping up and down doing toe touches and waving feathers to get her to smile. But this lady was trying to use a talking stuffed animal that had a deep scary voice. And it wasn’t working.
So I reached over for another stuffed animal that had a jingle bell and started shaking it. Then the photographer glared at me, “M’am, you do your job, and let me do mine. Your job is safety. You watch to make sure she doesn’t fall. I’ll take care of getting her to smile for the camera.”
Can. You. Say. Angry.
I was angry. I clenched my teeth. I wanted to walk out and leave. I wanted to tell her that I’d done this dozens of times and not once have I had a crying baby!
But then something happened. As I felt those hot, smarting tears form in my eyes, the Holy Spirit took over and said, “Give her MY grace. There’s something behind the scenes going on in her life right now. She’s having problems with something or someone. Let it go, and give her grace.”
So I did. I let it go. I clapped whenever the camera flashed at the perfect moment of a brief between-tears almost smile. And I kept the atmosphere friendly by doing as I was told. Finally, when we sat down to look at the proofs, I told her what a great job she had done. Then I noticed up on the wall there were dozens of award certificates for photos.
“Did you take all those?” I asked her.
“I sure did,” she said.
“Well, you’re a wonderful photographer,” I said. “I can’t imagine all the work you put into getting those kids to smile.”
That was it. That was the connecting point. She SMILED and thanked me. I could visibly see her relaxing. I picked out my portraits and placed my order on the spot, even though my favorite studio would have given me weeks to look at actual proofs and decide. They weren’t perfect, but there were a couple of really good ones. And at least we got it done!
The lesson I learned here — it’s POSSIBLE to live beyond myself — to let God’s Spirit fill me and have me respond like He would. I’m still learning and growing, and I battle my impulses every day. (Hey, but we learned even Peter had a struggle every now and then.)
I’m not wearing a “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet — but the more I study this Beth Moore homework, the more that question captures my every thought.
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to
their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next
ten weeks, between Friday 8pm – Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit
each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion
as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the
hearing of His word.