Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

In the form of a Christmas letter, allow me to reflect on what has changed in the past 10 years. 10 years. Has it already been ten years since I moved to Lafayette, IN? Well, technically it's only been a little over 9 years, but at the end of this school year I will have been teaching here for 10 years.

If you had told me during my senior year of college 10 years ago that I would be teaching at a Christian school for the next 10 years I would have laughed. But as Jeremiah says, God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. I am so thankful that I believe in a God who is sovereign.

In my freshman year of college, I dedicated my life to God for full-time Christian service, thinking I would possibly be a missionary or a pastor's wife. But obviously God wanted me to be a piano teacher in a Christian school. I have learned so much over the last few years, but ultimately God has used all of it to draw me closer to Himself. I have learned a lot about teaching preschoolers and kindergarteners and about classroom control! I have played a lot of music and taught a lot of songs. I have learned to play off of chord charts and notate music. I have had some students for years and some for only a few weeks. The third grade class to whom I taught a general music class in my first year will be graduating in May! (That makes me feel old!) My views of some aspects of Christianity and Christian liberty have been broadened and refined. My church's worship styles have changed. My hairstyle has changed--multiple times! My living arrangements have changed: apartment to house to roommates and a dog! The color of paint on my walls has changed.

But some things don't change. God is the same God of the Bible that He has always been. He still causes all to work together for God to those who love Him. He is still orchestrating every insignificant detail of my life to bring glory to Himself. And as I learn to delight in him, He brings the desires of my heart into accord with His desires (Psalm 37:4). And, of course, in my finite wisdom, I couldn't have planned it any better.

I truly do love my job and the school-age people I am privileged to be around. Yes, there are some days when I don't want to go to work and I would love to stay at home, but I am thankful that God has provided this position for me at this time.

My love for God and His people has grown. And as you pray for me, pray that I would continue to grown in Godly love of the people around me, in my church and in my community. And pray that I would continue to stay faithful to God and to His Word. This year I reached a low point where I struggled with unbelief. I learned to surround myself with the truth of God's Word and with encouraging friends. Pastor Viars' Sunday sermons have been a necessity. My Tuesday night Bible study (that I originally didn't have time for) has really been an encouragement to me, especially in fellowshipping with other people working on the same issues. (I really enjoyed one book we did: Jerry Bridges' "Respectable Sins." Now we are doing "Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life" by Donald S. Whitney.) And I am still working on reading through the New Testament, as I didn't quite make that goal this year! I still struggle with keeping my "appointments with God" each day, but am striving to keep my focus up on what is eternal.

It's a great comfort to know that the God who set His plan in motion for redeeming the world over 2000 years ago is the same God who is coordinating events in the present time.

Merry Christmas!
Beth Hill (& Juju)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Juju and the Christmas Pudding

I taught my Preschool kids this year to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for their Christmas program. We also sang the subsequent verses: "Oh bring us some figgy pudding," "We all love our figgy pudding," and "We won't go until we get some." So in music class I would "pretend" to give them their imaginary "figgy pudding" and they would say please and thank you. I thought it would be fun for the actual program if we had a real live figgy pudding! I looked up a recipe, and figgy pudding is a very dense cake (sometimes made with a spice cake mix) with figs, raisins, and almonds. So my sister Sarah graciously offered to make it the day before the program. So the day of the program dawned and the figgy pudding sat on our stove cooling. At lunch time I turned it out onto a platter and thought I'd put it someplace Juju couldn't reach it--I mean she hadn't touched it all night, right? Of course I should know better by now. I didn't lock Juju up in her kennel...and obviously I should have. Yup. She ate the WHOLE THING. Apparently Juju likes figgy pudding.

So we have been paying the consequences: Juju and I have been up throughout the night throwing up and cleaning up figgy pudding! I have a very sick dog now. I think she is determined to eat herself to death...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Discipline of Godliness

I usually consider myself a fairly disciplined person. I like my routine, my schedule, and my fairly rigid school schedule keeps me aware of every minute on the clock during the day. Even when I was young I enjoyed sticking to a schedule and being very disciplined and organized in the way I spent my time--and even in the way I spent my money. I guess I thought my spiritual life would be like that, too. Just something I naturally fell into, was able to organize, and accomplish just with the simple stroke of a pen in my planner. But it hasn't turned out that way at all. I still struggle with making a plan and sticking to my quiet time alone with God. Why is that so hard to do?

This book my Bible study group has just started--"Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald S. Whitney--has really been an eye-opener in the first chapter. My spiritual life is a DISCIPLINE. Duh! I really enjoyed his illustration about the discipline of learning a musical instrument. Now there's something I can relate to. I don't really have a daily "practice schedule" for piano anymore for myself, but I did for all of my grade school years that I can remember. I remember having to practice the piano 10 hours a week in college. And I deal with students practically every day who struggle with finding time in their schedules to practice. Now when it comes to piano practice, I can tell a student straight up, "Can you find just 5 or 10 minutes in your day to sit down and even do a LITTLE practice? I'd much rather you did 10 minutes for 6 days than 60 minutes for 1 day. Piano is a discipline; you are training your finger muscles, and a little bit every day goes a long way." Haha, maybe I should follow my own advice! "Even if you don't feel like it, make yourself practice. You will see the results!"

What are some of the pitfalls that make this hard to do in my spiritual life? 1) I don't see the results. When I practice a piece of music, in a few days I can usually see some improvement. I need to keep my focus on the goal of godliness. 2) I don't surround myself with encouragers. Do I have people around me who will keep me accountable? Am I spending time with fellow believers who are helping me to see the areas of growth I need to work on? 3) I don't have a plan. Just like learning a musical instrument, it's not going to be easy at first--or maybe even years later. I think I've been waiting for the "instant change" that's never going to happen. I'm not going to get struck with lightning and find, "Oh, now it's easy for me to make time for God's Word every day." I need to DISCIPLINE myself for godliness. 4) I think I'm okay the way I am. If I am focusing on the people around me, I can get complacent in my spiritual life. But if I am living a cross-centered life, I am far from being perfect in this journey of sanctification.

So I am making a new commitment to being in God's Word EVERY day this week--even if it's just 5 minutes, because I want my focus and my discipline to be helping me to become more like Christ.

1 Tim. 4:8 "For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Shack

Another book review!

I just finished reading "The Shack" by William Paul Young. From my understanding it's a fairly controversial book right now because some Christians are endorsing it while others are condemning it. So I thought I'd read it for myself.

So if you haven't gotten the chance to read it yet (or even if you have)here's what I thought. SPOILER WARNING: If you are anticipating reading it soon and don't want to know what happens, then don't read this, because I'm planning on giving the entire plot.

The story is about Mack and his family, his wife and 5 children. It's kind of a book in two sections. The first section is the part of the story that tells what has shaped Mack's thinking up to the point where he meets God at the shack. The second half of the book is where Mack gets a greater understanding of God's love and his thinking is changed.

I didn't enjoy the first part of the book as I found it a little hard to get into. It tells the story of how Mack's father, although externally religious and a church elder, was a closet drunkard and beat his wife and son and how Mack had run away from home at age 13 and harbored serious bitterness toward God because of his father. Then came the story of the "Great Sadness." Mack's family was camping in Oregon and his 6-old daughter was kidnapped and brually murdered. They tracked her killer to a "shack" out in the wilderness. Four years later Mack is still bitter and his family is still struggling with the loss of Missy.

Then Mack gets a note from "Papa" (his wife's affectionate name for God): "It's been a while. I've missed you. I'll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together."

So he heads to the shack where Missy was taken to confront whatever he will find there. When he arrives he is met by "God" in three persons: Papa (an affectionate black woman), Jesus (the carpenter), and Sarayu (a wispy Asian woman). This is where it gets a little weird. Obviously it's a work of fiction and not a work of theology, although theologically God could manifest Himself however He needed to at the time. And really how DO we as finite humans understand the Trinity? I believe what the author is trying to convey here is that Mack needed God to manifest His love for him. Along the lines of "why do bad things happen to good people," Mack did not believe that God loved him and really knew what was best for him. By the affectionate greeting of Papa, Mack was stunned that God really cared for him and was not like his own father. Now whether we agree that God would manifest himself as a woman is debatable, but He could, I suppose, if that's what it would take for Mack to comprehend His love. (And later on after Mack forgives his father Papa does manifest himself as a man.) This book does not delve into the balance of wrath versus love and instead focuses on God's love, which in 248 pages still can only just skim the surface. And this book does not cover how sinful we are or how undeserving we are or what we face apart from God, it just focuses on how much God loves of us. Now of course we want to read everything through the filter of the Word of God. Not everything in this book may line up with how we may understand the Trinity to work, but I thought that it was actually fairly theologically sound for trying to split the Trinity up into three fictional people and how they might relate to each other. It's not something we'll ever truly understand until we get to heaven. And I think he's also pointing out that Mack had a lot of preconceived notions when it came to God that weren't Biblical.

Some sentences I wasn't sure were accurate: "Papa: 'There's no easy answer that will take your pain away. Believe me, If I had one, I'd use it now.'" (p. 92) I didn't like that sentence because it makes it sound as if God is not omnipotent.
(p. 96) "Regardless of what [Jesus] felt at that moment [on the cross], I never left Him." I don't know. I always thought there was some sort of separation there, but can God separate from Himself?
(p. 96) "He found his way through it [the cross] to put Himself completely into my hands." I don't know; it just sounds a little touchy-feely to me.

But there were parts of it that I really liked. Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) was the garden tender and Mack thought her garden looked like a mess. But it only looked like a mess when you were in it; it was really a "fractal" (from above it had a pattern to it). Our lives might look like messes to us but God is really in control of it all. We don't understand what God is doing--and that's why He is God and we are not! God does love us and wants what's best for us--or maybe not what's best for us but what is best for His purpose and plan to be complete--which is conforming us to the image of His Son. And just as Mack was a dynamic character, learning to forgive his father and even the man who had murdered Misy and trust God's wisdom, we can learn to trust God and believe in his great love for us.

So depending on where you are in your spiritual journey, this book COULD help you understand God's love (or His "special fondness") for you a tiny bit better, if you are in a place where you need to hear it.

But don't let books take the place of the only one True and Living Word in which there is no error!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I just finished reading the fourth and final book in Stephanie Meyers' "Twilight Series" (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, & Breaking Dawn). Ok, ok, ok, I know what you're thinking. Before you start in on me about getting caught up in the "vampire hype," don't worry, I'm not going to be plastering Twilight posters in my room or writing Edward Cullen's name in calligraphy on scrap paper or drinking out of a Twilight mug or anything. In fact, the first time I saw some high school girls reading the Twilight series I told myself that I wasn't going to read them...ever. That it was a complete waste of time. But my morbid curiosity kicked in, and this summer I caved. So here's my review.

I can't say it wasn't possibly a waste of time, but I did find it very entertaining and enjoyable. I do love to read, especially good stories, and this was a very well-written and well-thought out story line and plot. I generally don't enjoy stories written in first person tense, but from the first page of Twilight I was hooked. As a fantasy, I would liken it to a cross between Harry Potter and X-Men. Whereas Harry Potter (which incidentally I also enjoyed reading) is all about witchcraft and wizardry, Twilight is all about vampires and werewolves (in some Christian circles maybe not as controversial). But I also liken it to X-Men because of the special powers and fighting.

If you are not familiar with the plot of Twilight at all, Bella is an ordinary high school girl who falls in love with a vampire: Edward Cullen, whom she meets in high school. This was the only part of the plot that I didn't really like. I mean, can you really have a real, true "love of your life" when you're 17 years old? But for some reason in this case it works. And the book was surprisingly moral and family-friendly, although I wouldn't recommend it for any really young readers as there are sexual elements, although surprisingly again no premarital sex. And I'd have to say that Bella's morals and view of marriage were not very Biblical, although I'm sure the author was just giving an insight into how her parents' split-up had affected her. But she really did seem to have an agape, self-sacrificing love, not only for Edward, but also for her parents. Another thing that I enjoyed from a Biblical perspective was that it was very creationist. The flood was even alluded to, and no evolutionary theory slipped in at all. It might be a little gory for kids--what with the blood drinking and all. But at first I couldn't imagine how the plot could expand into approximately 2,000 pages, but things continue to change and happen (don't worry, I won't spoil anything for you if you want to read it) and you keep reading to find out if Bella becomes a vampire, if Victoria will have her revenge, if Edward can protect her, what Jacob's role is, if the Volturi will ruin everything, if they can really survive, and if Bella can protect the ones she loves. So if you are looking for a idealistic, happy-ever-after fairy tale, this is the series for you!

I'm actually glad that I read the series, especially since it seems to be all the craze in high schools now--even FCS! We're only 1 week into the year and it's already been referenced quite a few times. So at least I can speak knowledgeably!

P.S. The Twilight MOVIE, however, is not worth watching, unlike Harry Potter films. Because so much of Twilight takes place in Bella's head it is really hard to capture on film. And I don't really even want to see the New Moon movie. I'm sure it just can't even compare to the book.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Going Green

My summer project for my house this summer was painting my kitchen, a feat which thankfully we DID accomplish! Sarah and I spent a day painting and I had fun spending all of my money on a low-budget "update" of my kitchen.
No one had painted in the kitchen before so it was the plain, boring, off-white.

With advice from my roommates, I decided to go with "Brush Meadow" green:

Yeah, Sarah had fun with the wall that is behind the stove.

Sunflower accents

I'm still trying to decide on curtains, but this is what I've found so far. And notice that I put knobs on all the cupboards! Hmm? Pretty snazzy, eh?


I think we're close to done.
Thank you HGTV and Food Network!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Helping Out Dad

Rototilling the garden. One new project I was able to help my dad with this week while I'm at their house. My dad has been sick. He got a disease from a Virginian tick: human ehrlichiosis. Before they figured out what it was, he spent many days tired and feverish before finally being admitted to the hospital--for 5 days. Now he's rehydrated but still on antibiotics and other medicine and still very weak. The doctor says it will probably be 6-8 weeks before he really feels back to "normal." So I'm glad I'm able to be around to help out with some chores while I'm home. Dad helped me get the rototiller (from the neighbor's shed) and helped me get started. Then he supervised.

This week the chores are mowing the lawn and PLANTING the garden...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Music Teacher Purchases Sonata

Lafayette, IN--Beth Hill, a local piano teacher, recently acquired a new vehicle. Jon Hubner, Inc., a used car dealership in Otterbein, had a 2009 Hyundai Sonata with only 16,000 miles available for sale. In a timely turn of events, Miss Hill was able to sell her 1999 Dodge Stratus and purchase the new, sleek Sonata for a reasonable price, as it was a repossession from the Chicago area. Further information can be obtained from the owner.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Juju!

Today Juju turned 3, so I took her to PetSmart. She was very excited because she LOVES shopping!

Did we find anything good?

She is enjoying her peanut butter marrow-filled bone.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MWSmith/SCChapman Concert

I was so excited to attend my first Christian artist concert on Sunday with not one but TWO of my favorite singers: Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman! It was everything I expected and more. Their United tour came to Purdue University's Elliot Hall of Music Sunday night. It was a SPECTACULAR concert. What I loved about it most was that it was a very worshipful experience. They started off singing some praise songs together (Smith on the piano and Chapman on guitar--with Chapman's band, including his 19-year old son on electric guitar). Then Steven Curtis Chapman sang some of his most popular songs, including "I Will Be Here," "Cinderella," "Dive," and one of my favorites "Live Out Loud"! Smith and Chapman even had a short segment in the middle where they sang portions of each others songs! Michael W. Smith sang some of his favorite hits through the years too, including "Friends," "Thy Word," and "Go West, Young Man." He even played a piano selection from Freedom. The staging, lights, and sound were all done very excellently. I'm glad it went 3 hours!! I was super impressed. What great examples!

Kristopher Kessler, Sara Denny, Sarah Hill, Beth Hill

The Struggle of Unbelief

Here's what I learned from my recent struggle with unbelief and doubt. Thank you to those of you have encouraged me by emailing or commenting!!

The Christian life is definitely a battle. There is a war going on in my heart, and we "wrestle not against flesh and blood." I need to be on my guard by a daily walk in the Word and the accountability of a good church family. A friend encouraged me to make a list from John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." What does the thief steal? And conversely what does God's abundant life provide?

Joy--The thief wants to steal my joy, but Romans 15:13 tells me that there is "joy and hope" in believing. Also Gal. 5:22--one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy.

Passion for God--The thief wants to steal my passion for God. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God..." (Matt. 6:33)

Treasure--My treasure should not be found in earthly things, but I need to be laying up "treasures in heaven." (Matt. 6:20)

Energy--The thief wants to steal my energy, but God's Word tells me to "not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap, if we do not lose heart." (Gal. 6:9)

Faith--The thief wants to rob me of my faith, but "without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. 11:6). I need to take up the "shield of faith" daily from Eph. 6.

Unbelief is a sin and a struggle, but I am thankful that the "crisis" has passed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I hesitate to post this, not because I am ashamed of or troubled by people reading my private thoughts, but just because I'm not sure I'm going to express this well, and it may be somewhat scattered, as it is something I'd usually write in my personal diary. But I do post it, thinking that in doing so I may be an encouragement to those of you who have struggled, are struggling, or will struggle with some of the same thoughts.

Lately (I can't pinpoint a time frame, it has most likely been a downward spiral that has probably been building for months, even years, although it has been more consuming the last week or so) I have been harboring doubts in my mind about the Christian faith, how we can know the Bible is true, and why we do what we do. How do we know that Jesus is the only way to God? Do I really believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? How do I know that God is interested in my life? Even more general questions, like what is the purpose of music? Why do we sing in church? Do we just do these church activities because that is what we've always done? Is "church" just a tradition that has been passed through the years and now has no real purpose? I guess my real question has been: Am I just doing this church thing because that's what I'm "supposed" to do and because it's what everyone in my family has always done? Am I just an old fuddy-duddy because I believe it is important to be active in the local church--actually, basically my whole LIFE revolves around church! Do I really "believe" in it? I teach children to sing church songs--am I just brainwashing them into believing what I've always believed just because that's what I've been taught? Just because it makes them behave? I've always been the "good girl." Sometimes you just get tired of it! (Issues: fear of man, pride!)

Now I must confess these thoughts never left my head (until now) and had no real affect on my daily life. I still tried to get my heart right to worship God in church, I still went to work every day and have still been the "good" girl, doing the right things (but admittedly not always for the right reasons).

I think I've just been struggling with the daily-ness of it all. As someone has said, the problem with life is that it is so daily! I am expected to go to church because that is what I've always done. I am expected to be a good example because I am a teacher. Wouldn't it shock people if I just turned my back on the Christian life and went and did what "I" wanted to for a change? Maybe "they" DO have more fun! Maybe this Christianity stuff is false and the world is right. I can see how easy it can be for someone to turn their back on God and just totally "give it up." But then I started going down that path logically and realized how different my life would be away from Christianity. But would it be for the better or for the worse? How do I KNOW that it isn't more fun on the "broad" way? I also saw that this is exactly how Satan would want me to think if he wanted to influence me (thank you C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters).

Then I wondered, why am I having these thoughts? I think we all have thoughts similar to these at some point in my life. My problem was that I began to dwell on them a little too much. And instead of casting these thoughts aside and filling my mind with God-honoring thoughts, I allowed myself to think about them. Then I realized I hadn't been having my devotions regularly. Instead, I'd allowed things like other people (wanting to be liked--fear of man) and television (am I careful in what I allow into my mind?) to influence my thinking about what was really important in life. After all, how do I know that Christianity isn't the one "brainwashing" me?

There are examples of those who went before us that we can follow. If I'm wrong about Christianity, then Pastor Viars is wrong! That seems ludicrous! :) All these missionaries and people I've known throughout my life who would die for their faith: they'd be wrong, too, if Christianity is misleading. So I turned my gaze to the Word: "Set your affections on things above; not on things on the earth." (Col. 3:2) Jesus is our high priest who has "been tempted in all things like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 7)

Pastor Viars said something in church Sunday that really helped me to get clearer in my thinking. He was talking about how Jesus is the better way (and I was questioning howe we KNOW that), and then he said a statement that I can't recall verbatim, but something to the effect that we have to DECIDE to follow Christ. Then it struck me. I've heard many proofs for the validity of Christianity throughout my life, but ultimately there is no one that can PROVE Christianity is "the religion" to follow. I need to make the CHOICE to believe in Jesus. And I need to keep making that choice every day, choosing to spend time in God's Word because I know I need to, not because I'm ever going to feel like it. I will CHOOSE to go to church because that's where the body of Christ meets. I DO believe the Bible is true. And, yes, some of this will be done somewhat perfunctorily (and I will be praying for God to change my heart). Sometimes I'm only going to go to church because I have to play the piano, and sometimes I'm going to choose to do something because it's the right thing to do, but I'm going to keep making that choice. Not because I feel like it, but because "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day!


Preschool Quote

One of the preschool teachers shared this with me the other week. There is a little 3 or 4 year old boy that I teach in music class who goes by the name of J.C. However, this teacher couldn't remember his name, so she just asked him: "What's your name?"

He responded (as young boys are wont to do at times), "SPIDERMAN!"

"No, no," said the teacher, "I mean, what's your REAL name?"

The boy responded, "Peter Parker!"

Christmas in Virginia

So...I'm a little behind on my blog! I've been meaning to post pictures since...well, since Christmas! So here a lovely RANDOM order:

I went with my mom and dad out east to Virginia Beach the day after Christmas to visit my brother and his wife Kristen--but mainly to see my nephew Micah! No, we did not travel completely by boat--but we DID take a ferry while sightseeing in the area:

Here are some pictures of Tim & Kristen with 2 month old Micah:

We enjoyed celebrating Christmas with them as Tim was able to take a couple of days off of work as well.

Mom and Dad and I took one day to sight-see and visited Colonial Williamsburg at night:

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the ferry from Scotland-Jamestown. And it was FREE!

A picturesque colonial town (whose name I cannot recall):

Micah's first piano lesson!

I enjoyed having some time to kick back, relax, and read the latest Karen Kingsbury book as well!

Historic St. Luke's Church:

"Historic" Yankee Candle store in Williamsburg (it's HUGE):

It got colder throughout the week, but at the beginning of the week we took a Sunday drive to the beach--the temperature was 70 degrees!! It was an odd Christmas from what I'm generally used to.

Me hogging Micah

Road trip with Mom & Dad! (Dad, watch out for those Virginia patrolmen!)