Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “God”


The room was full. Various people had gathered there that Sunday morning. Wealthy and not-so-wealthy. Infants in car seats and aged in wheelchairs. Giggly children and stern-faced, weather beaten old folks. Married, single, widowed. Some sang. Some whispered among each other. Others checked their phones, or just gazed with blank stares at whatever caught their eye…or mind.

One gentleman was holding his son. He always holds him. He’s a boy of about four years old. He clings to his dad until it’s time for him and the other kids to leave. While the congregation was standing, facing front, the boy—arms around his dad’s neck, legs dangling on each side—was facing the back. He was lost in his own little world. Or so it seemed. Sometimes his head was up, looking around. Sometimes it was gently leaning on his dad’s shoulder.

Then something interesting happened. The music stopped. The pastor spoke for a moment or two, then said, “Let’s pray.” Just about every head (of the still standing congregation) bowed on cue as if it were something rote or practiced.

But the little boy, still held by his father, with one arm wrapped around his dad’s neck, took his free hand, lifted it up above his head and pointed upward with his little index finger. He didn’t look up, he just pointed up. While the congregation, with heads angled downward listening to the prayer, this boy had his eyes open looking around and was pointing upward. He held his position for the entire prayer. When the pastor said, “Amen,” his little arm came down and wrapped it once again around his dad’s neck.

I didn’t bow my head during the prayer. I didn’t close my eyes. I watched. I was intrigued. I glanced around at the bowed heads. It was almost as if this boy was pointing us upward to our Heavenly Father. Yet we were missing it. Everybody in the room was seemingly downward focused. (Perhaps there was something interesting on the floor?)

I wonder…

Where is our mind when we pray?


Where is our heart when we pray?

Where is our gaze when we pray?

Where is God when we pray?

If we asked this little boy, I’m quite sure he’d point upward.

Sometimes a childlike perspective of God is all we need. After all, an upward glance every now and then sure beats whatever is on the floor.



I saw him the other day. His face was broken out with some mysterious rash. It didn’t look good at all. It was spreading, up around his eyes, making everything puffy and painful. When I asked him about it he said he was miserable. It was driving him crazy. He looked worried. His disposition wasn’t his normal, sweet, friendly one. The ointment and antibiotics weren’t working. I felt sorry for him. And that was it.

A week or so later I saw his brother. I asked for an update and he said his brother was admitted to the hospital. He had been there for about a week. “Yikes!” I thought. He said it was bad…real bad. Whatever infection this was had taken a toll and had gotten serious. I told his brother that I would pray. I got the look back that was sort of a generic “thank you.” The look that says, “you’re obligated to say that, and that sounds real nice…but whatever.”

That’s when I piped up. “No, when I say I’ll pray for something or someone, I’ll really do it. I take that seriously. I mean it and I’ll do it.”

A little taken aback, he said, “Well I appreciate that.”

So I prayed. And I prayed some more. I prayed for complete healing. For his body to be rid of this infection. For him to be restored fully—physically, spiritually, mentally.

I saw him yesterday. His face was clear and bright. His sweet disposition was back. The warmth and friendliness in his smile was back. As I walked over to speak with him, huge tears welled up in his eyes. He could barely speak. He choked out something like, “My brother told me what you said the other day. About how you said you’d pray for me and you meant it. You have no idea how much that meant to me. I cannot tell you how appreciative I am for you and what you did.”

My eyes welled up with tears as I choked out something like, “Too many people say it, but don’t do it. I meant it. And it was my privilege to pray for you.”

It was a unique, shared moment where God was alive. God was present. God was brought to the forefront of the conversation, the relationship. God stood out, I didn’t.

When We PrayFriends, this is what happens when we pray.

  • When we pray, we get to see God go to work.
  • When we pray, we get to be involved in something extraordinary.
  • When we pray, we tap into the Divine.
  • When we pray, we the created are speaking directly to Him the Creator.
  • When we pray, we are instruments of God’s choosing to accomplish His work.
  • When we pray, we see a little bit of the “up there” moving “down here.”
  • When we pray, we create a deeper connection with those we know and care about.
  • When we pray, we go on a journey, on an adventure unlike any other earthly adventure.
  • When we pray, it’s not about us, it’s all about our great big God.

Let this be a reminder: Say it. Mean it. Do it. Pray with your eyes wide open. Make the connection. It is indeed one of the greatest privileges we have on this earth. Amen?


For those of you who think the Bible is out of date, irrelevant, and boring think again. The Old Testament is chock full of crazy stories, that not only make you scratch your head and say, “Seriously?” but they’re ripe with application for life today.

Check this out…

Many of you have heard this story before, but maybe not in this light. So hold on and read this whole thing…

There was this super old guy named Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham). He was married to this super old chick named Sarai (whose name was later changed to Sarah). Not something we do much of today, but God—who changed their names—can pretty much do what He wants, right?

So these old folks have no kids. And they’re way past childbearing age. Like waaayy past. Abraham is around 85 years old, and Sarah is around 75. Sarah—feeling every bit of her old age—gets a bright idea to give her maid Hagar to Abraham to sleep with so that in some whacked out way they’ll have a family.



Believe it or not, this works. Hagar gets pregnant by 85-year-old Abraham. And guess who’s feeling left out of the picture now? You got it…Sarah! Ya’ think? Totally! Dumb on her, but apparently that was normal back then.

Hagar, now prego with Abraham’s baby, begins to look down on Sarah. According to Sarah, Hagar was disrespectful to her and treated her like she was nothing. So get this…Sarah blames Abraham for the whole thing.

Wait, seriously? Wasn’t this debacle Sarah’s idea in the first place?


In her frustration and lashing out at Abraham, Sarah says, “May the Lord decide who is right—you or me!” Now she’s bringing God into this mess, hoping He’ll side with her, not Abraham.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. And here’s where I get to the point of my blog. Abraham responds to Sarah by saying, “You decide. Your maid is your business.”

(As a side note, Sarah was probably angry at Abraham, Hagar, and God. She was the one who was barren. She made the choice to take matters in her own hands and create what she thought to be an amicable solution. But when it backfired, her anger probably ran deeply to those three in closest proximity—Abraham, Hagar the maid, and God. They became the targets of her misfortune.)

After Abraham lets God off the hook and tells Sarah to make a decision about the matter, the very next line in the Bible is, “Sarah was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away” (Genesis 16:6, MSG).

You see, Sarah didn’t just react or even overreact. No, she chose. She chose how she treated her maid Hagar. She chose to be abusive. She chose to mistreat her, humiliate her, and treat her cruelly. Granted, Hagar got a little uppity with Sarah and didn’t treat her well. So, I guess you could say Hagar deserved it.

But did she?

Sarah chose. Sarah decided. Sarah opted to take her frustration, anger, humiliation, brokenness, failure, feelings of inadequacy, bitterness, and hurt out on Hagar the maid. She became the target. The target that Sarah chose.

Do you get where I’m going? Sarah had the power to choose how she dealt with this situation when Abraham told her to decide. She could have chosen forgiveness. She could have chosen to build a bridge between herself and Hagar and not a wall. She could have chosen to be the better bigger person in the matter. She could have chosen integrity and honor and respect. She could have chosen to reach out and nurture and guide and love. But instead she chose the opposite.

It’s hard when people treat your poorly. It’s hard when life doesn’t seem fair. It’s hard to keep our frustrations in check. But we do have the power. It’s the power of choice. To choose to respond, not to react. It’s the power to choose love over hatred. To choose bridges, not walls. To choose grace over judgment. To choose mercy over malice.

The next time you’re feeling frustrated, angry, or hurt—and you’re looking to retaliate on those you love—why don’t you consider this whacked out story from an old book called the Bible? Because, you see, it actually makes sense.

At the end of the day, when the blame game ends, you have the power of choice. You control how you respond. Will you allow your emotions to override the right thing to do?

In the words of Abraham, “You decide.”

(***Spoiler Alert***) Abraham and Sarah actually do end up having a kid together…when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. If that’s not whacked out, I don’t know what is.


In May, my husband and I had the privilege of attending the Carrie Underwood concert here in Kansas City. We were given tickets to sit in the Time Warner Executive Suite by one of my husband’s business associates.

I must say, it was a fabulous concert. That girl’s got some pipes on her! She can sing, she can play the guitar, she plays a mean harmonica, and she can all out entertain. I absolutely loved the show.

But something happened in the Time Warner suite that I won’t soon forget. We were joined by eight other people. I’d never met any of them and my husband only knew his business associate and her husband. Two of these eight other people were young girls who were maybe 20 years old. They had plenty to drink while they were there, so they may have been 21, but I’m not convinced of that.

Anyway…when they first came into the suite, they took a few selfies with the stage in the background. I thought nothing of it at the time because many other people (my family included) have done the same thing. But it didn’t stop there. They took selfie after selfie after selfie. While Carrie was performing, they were shooting videos of themselves—with the camera on their phone facing them so they could watch themselves. They sang with Carrie while they videoed themselves, fluffed their hair, and flirted with the camera. They took pictures of themselves in various poses, then texted them to whomever and posted them on social media. They did this over…and over…and over again. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was sorta mesmerized by this all-out display of self-consumption. For about 80-90% of the show, these gals were more enamored with themselves on the screen of their phone than they were with the queen of country music Carrie Underwood.

I was speechless. I was dumbfounded. Again I have never seen anything like this. Ever!

Selfies! Oh my! (And just to be honest…I’ve taken a few of these myself.)

Did you know in 2013, the word “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year?

This week I heard there were an estimated 93 million selfies taken every day. I also heard it’s estimated that young adults will take around 25,000 pictures of themselves before they die. It’s no wonder there’s a growing concern that this technology is making us more self-obsessed and more narcissistic than ever before.

But self-obsession and narcissism is nothing new. It just has a different (albeit instant and international) form nowadays.

There’s a story in the Old Testament in which King Saul was told to go completely wipe out the Amelikites—including “men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:3). It’s a pretty straight-forward command, but Saul didn’t quite carry it out. He spared the king and some of the choice livestock. In his own self-absorption, however, he was thoroughly convinced that he carried out the order completely and gained victory. He was pretty darn proud of himself. So proud, as a matter of fact, he went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself” (1 Samuel 15:12). That’s right, he set up a victory monument in his own honor, to himself, for himself. If King Saul would have had a smartphone back then, you can bet he would have taken several selfies indicative of his insta-victory and put them on insta-display for all his insta-kingdom to see. King Saul, who was once a humble guy, now had become consumed with one kingdom—the kingdom of self.

Kingdom of SelfieRight before we read about King Saul’s “kingdom of self” moment, we read what God thought about him. God said, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me…” (1 Samuel 15:11). Ouch! God actually said He regretted making Saul king. Yeah, that one stings. But it was because he turned away from God. He was consumed with himself. Why else would he build a monument in his own honor. I mean…who does that?

I know who. Those girls at the Carrie Underwood concert. All the selfies, all the videos they posted on social media, all the fixation on the camera pointed toward themselves were little monuments in their own honor. All about the kingdom of self. All little moments of turning away from God.

Because how can we be all about God and all about ourselves at the same time? Is there room at the top for both of us? 

Matthew Poole said of King Saul, “But the truth is, he was zealous for his own honour and interest, but lukewarm where God only was concerned.”

If we’re zealous for one, we’re lukewarm for the other.

Selfie, anyone?


I accidentally shot Jesus in the head with the hand sanitizer. I didn’t mean to do it. It just happened.

We have new hand sanitizers everywhere at work. The ones you mount on the wall. And they squirt out purifying, decontaminating foam. I don’t like the foam. I prefer the goo. In my expert hand sanitizing opinion, the goo does a better job of fully cleansing each and every part of my hands. The foam, on the other hand, seems like it evaporates into nothingness as I attempt to spread it around. To each her own, I suppose.

I digress…

Back to Jesus…

I didn’t want to get rid of the monster-sized goo pump sanitizer we previously had, so I moved it over on top of the piano. I don’t know if you have a gallon jug of hand sanitizer goo on top of your piano or not, but we do. Hand sanitizer on one end…Jesus bust on the other. The Jesus bust is a whole other issue, but for now I’ll let that one go.

Because I have quite a bit of physical contact with elderly people at my job, I feel the need to either wash my hands a lot or at least sanitize them. (I hope that doesn’t sound too weird or rude.) So I headed over to the piano, passing up not one but two foam sanitizers, so I could fill my hands with the goo. One pump usually does it for me, but if I’ve touched several “yucky” people—I’m just keeping it real, y’all—I’ll go for two.

So, one hand on the pump apparatus, one hand down below to catch all the disinfecting, sterilizing goo. Apparently because of the angle of the dried-on goo from its previous use, instead of squirting downward as gravity might have it, it shot out sideways…three feet to the left…right onto Jesus’ head. Bless Him!

For a hot second I was confused because my hand was not filled with the goo. But then I laughed. Out loud. Hard. Because I just shot Jesus in the head with the hand sanitizer. This was funny to me. And oh-so-ironic. Here I was, standing over the purifying goo and Jesus. Jesus now having cleansing goo running down from the crown of His head, over His face. Jesus being cleansed. Purified. Yeah…AS IF!

This is the irony.

Jesus isn’t in need of cleansing. I am. Jesus isn’t in need of purifying. I am. And it takes a whole lot more than a monster-sized jug of hand sanitizer to disinfect, and sterilize, and purify this sinful, unrighteous self of mine.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

I still chuckle each time I head over to the piano to get sanitized. I see the Jesus bust and am reminded that it’s all because of Him I can stand forgiven…cleansed…and purified.

Thanks be to God that He doesn’t get tired of me coming to Him for forgiveness. For a “do over.” For a clean, fresh start. That’s the kind of faithful God we have. And because He created humor, I’m sure He doesn’t mind that I shot Jesus in the head with the hand sanitizer.



“This is where God has me.”

I find myself saying this a lot. And I find myself not liking this statement I make nor do I find myself liking the state I’m currently in. But…this is where God has me.

Some might argue that sentiment. This current state of life is NOT where God has me, but rather it’s where my choices have landed me. Or it’s where my lack of effort has put me. Maybe those things are true, but if God is sovereign—and I believe He is—then either way, this is where God has me.

It dawns on me that over the last five years or so, I’ve worked hard to create the life that I want. I have pursued paths, sought out different avenues, hoped and dreamed of the future that I wanted and believed would happen. Several times in the last several years I’ve charted my course, set the dial on “determined,” stepped up my game, and gone for it.

All of those things, however, have fallen apart. The goals haven’t been achieved, the dreams haven’t happened, the believing and hoping have come up lame and limping like an athlete who begins the race but never finishes.

And so I say…and keep on saying “This is where God has me.”

I don’t know how Paul did it when he said, “I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” (Philippians 4:12). I mean, I know how he did it in theory. But I’m not sure how he did in in reality. The very next thing he said was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

I can do all things…

Doesn’t that sound like just another pep talk, motivational mantra, or bumper sticker to live by? Matter of fact, I just saw it on the back of a t-shirt today.

begin at the end

This is where I’ll end my rant. In all my pursuit, hoping, dreaming, and believing, I’m now in a place where I’m asking God, “Okay…what do You want?” If the paths I’ve chosen and the futures I’ve longed for have all ended up in derailments or detours, then I have to begin where Jesus ended when He prayed, “God, all things are possible for you…But please, not what I want—what do you want?” That was the beginning of the end for Jesus. Relinquishing what He wanted. Surrendering to what God wanted for Him.

Rather than ask God to take part in the story I’ve already written for myself, I’ll try to embrace the one He’s already written for me. Maybe if I can come to the end of myself, it will be some sort of beginning.

But until then…this is where God has me.


An observance. By definition it’s a “procedure, ceremony, or rite, as for a particular occasion.”

When you think about it, there are lots of them—a wedding, a baptism, a convocation, a Memorial Day service, a Veteran’s Day celebration, a bar mitzvah, a graduation, etc. And there are lots of things going on at them. Things you can learn from if you’re in a receptive state of mind.

An observance. By definition it’s also “an act or instance of watching, noting, or perceiving.”

At most “observances” we watch, but don’t note. We see, but don’t perceive. These “observances” take place, go on, end, and that’s it. Do we really observe? Do we really listen to the words being spoken? Do we really get what’s going on?

An ObservanceWhen you think about it, the very thing going on at an “observance” is life itself. Real people, real feelings, real commitment, real emotions, real memories…real life. Life is always going on. And life is precious. God is always going on. And you, who attend an “observance” are always going on.

Maybe the word “observance” itself suggests what is perhaps the most profound thing about them.

Author and literary critic Henry James wrote, “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.”

OBSERVE! Be present. Take note. Be receptive. Learn something. At each “observance” you only get one shot to be observant. Don’t be lost. Observe well!

10 Indicators of Arrogance

G. Gordon Liddy, a Watergate conspirator, spoke these words after his release from prison in 1977: “I have found within myself all I need and all I ever shall need. I am a man of great faith, but my faith is in G. Gordon Liddy. I have never failed me.”

Holy cow! Isn’t that the second craziest thing you’ve heard today? I don’t think I could stomach being around Gordon very long. How in the world can anybody be that self-absorbed?

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it happens all the time. And I know most of us think narcissism is a new thing, but truthfully it’s an age-old problem. Listen to this: “But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him…” (2 Chronicles 32:25). Hezekiah was a king back in the Old Testament. He was good and godly and there was no other king like him. At one point he was about to die, so he prayed, and God gave him an extra 15 years of life. But rather than being appreciative, he became arrogant.

10 Indicators of a Proud Heart

So how does a good, godly king blow it like Hezekiah did? I don’t really know. But what I do know is this: pride is a creeping vine called “me, myself, and I.” And if not rooted out right away, this creeping vine can spread and take over our good and godly character. Just ask Hezekiah. And Solomon. And David. And the Pharisees. And the Disciples.

As I ponder the arrogant people in Scripture, they’re not at all different than the self-absorbed people I know today. As they say, “it takes one to know one.” So I’m ashamed to say I see myself all over these character traits. As I reflect on the issue of pride, I’ve come up with 10 indicators of arrogance. Ten characteristics that indicate we might have a slight issue with arrogance. Check it out:

10 Indicators of Arrogance:

  • Deceived into believing we are “flawless” or not as flawed as others
  • Trusting in our own strength, knowledge, talents, skills, etc.
  • Stubborn, rebellious, and unwilling to submit to authority
  • Ungrateful for the kindness, grace, and/or mercy shown to us
  • Blind to our own faults and/or to the needs of others
  • An entitlement attitude which insists we deserve better, deserve more, etc.
  • Comparing ourselves to other people and looking for opportunities to claim greater importance
  • Wanting our agenda to prevail over others’ (…or even God’s)
  • Inconveniencing others for the sake of our own convenience
  • Life is about us and our glory, not God and His glory

Do these things describe people you know? Most assuredly they do.

Do they describe you? I know…you don’t want to answer that.

Hezekiah was a good and godly king, but for a season got caught up in a vine of pride. The cruddy thing is that we’re all guilty just like him. We all have a pride issue. And if we have a pride issue, we have a sin issue. And if we have a sin issue, we need a Savior.

Though God detests the proud of heart (Proverbs 16:5), He loves us too much too leave us there.

Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his arrogance (2 Chronicles 32:26). God was merciful and forgave him. The same God who loved and forgave Hezekiah offers us forgiveness as well. And though we may not be kings, by God’s grace, we can continue our journey onward to being good and godly in the every day.




I have tennis elbow. I don’t like tennis elbow. I don’t want tennis elbow. I don’t even play tennis.

It’s just one of life’s many “inconveniences.” Oh joy!

Can you relate? Do you have any inconveniences in your life? They’re fun, aren’t they? That was a joke. No, they’re not fun at all. They’re a pain, an irritation, a frustration…and well…an inconvenience.

Here's To Life's Little Inconveniences

If you think this blog is going to contain the “7 Steps to Overcoming Inconveniences” you’re way off. I couldn’t think of 7 steps. I don’t even have one step. I have inconveniences, remember?

On the rare occasion that I’m in my car in a torrential downpour, the little space between the sun roof and passenger’s side door leaks. But the other 361½  days of the year, it’s fine. Do I get my panties in a wad over it? No, but it is an inconvenience.

The igniter switches on all four burners of my gas stove went out about a month after the warranty expired. So how do we light our gas stove? We light them the old fashion way…or semi-old fashion way. Instead of using matches we use one of those long lighters. This little inconvenience I have actually gotten used to.

My neck hurts, my jaw is messed up, I’m pretty sure I have arthritis flaring up in various parts of my body, and the root canal that I had two years ago has decided to wake up after a long siesta. Nope, not fun at all. Just more things to add to my list of life’s little inconveniences.

I know what you’re thinking. “Beth…just get over yourself and fix all of these little inconveniences in your life.”

Yeah, I guess I could. But I don’t feel like they’re worth spending the money on. Besides, just as soon as I’d fix these, I’d grow a whole new crop of inconveniences.

Maybe there’s something to them. Maybe these little inconveniences are God’s way of reminding us of the bigger, better things in life. Maybe these little inconveniences are God’s way of keeping us slightly more humble than we’d normally be.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

Hmm…If this is true, I need to change my perspective.

If this is true, let the adventures begin. 🙂

How do you handle life’s little inconveniences?


There are certain things I just don’t understand.
There are certain things I can’t relate to.
There are certain things I criticize.

It all comes in one bundle it seems. I’m not proud of it, it just happens. And it happens to you as well. Think about it: when we don’t understand something, we can’t relate to it. When we can’t relate to it, we criticize it.

It not only happens with circumstances and events and situations, it happens with people too. There are people I don’t understand. There are people I can’t relate to. There are people I criticize.

That which we don’t understand—that which we can’t relate to—we criticize.


We don’t understand why our friends do the things they do. We can’t relate to it. Therefore we criticize. We don’t understand why our family members act or react the way they do. We can’t relate to that. So we criticize. We don’t understand why our coworkers choose the lifestyle they choose. We can’t relate to it at all. And because of this, we end up criticizing them and their situation.

We criticize what we don’t understand and can’t relate to. Why do we do this? Why do our minds instantly go down the critical path and walk all over the things we don’t understand and can’t relate to?

I think part of it is that we don’t want to understand. We don’t want to relate. We don’t want to identify with these things at all. It would take effort to try and understand. It would take thought and maybe a conversation or two. And why would we bother with that? It’s easier to not understand, not relate, to criticize.

But here’s another reason why we so easily criticize that which we don’t understand and can’t relate to: we want to maintain that we are better than what (or who) we criticize. We don’t consciously do this. But subconsciously we criticize because we want to feel better about ourselves. And we want to appear as though we’re better in the company of our friends, family, and coworkers, so we criticize openly.

There’s a lot I don’t understand. There’s a lot I can’t relate to. There’s a lot I criticize. But I’ll tell you what I’ve been learning the last year or two. It’s this little thing called grace. And grace has taught me that God makes unique people with unique situations. Grace has taught me that at the end of the day, I am no better than that which I don’t understand or can’t relate to. Grace has taught me to embrace people—not necessarily their choices—and love them for the unique individuals that God created them to be. Grace has taught me that it’s fine and dandy for me to cast the first stone if indeed I am without sin. Grace has taught me that I’m not.

Criticism is far easier than grace. Criticism is a better road to journey down for those who want to reserve the right to be above the rest. It’s the best way to go if you want to look better, feel better, and pretend you’re better than the rest.

But here’s the thing… From where I sit, an amazing kind of grace has been given to me—not to hoard for myself, but to give to others. If I have been given much grace, can’t I extend a little bit to others—to the ones I don’t understand…to the ones I can’t relate to…to the ones I criticize?

Some people don’t understand me. Some people can’t relate to me. Some, perhaps more than I want to know, even criticize me. Maybe eventually grace will teach them a thing or two.

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