Today I am so excited to get to introduce to you the lovely Beth! Beth and I met at (you guessed it) Abilene Christian University, and I got to see first-hand the spunky zest for life this girl has. Beth is such an incredible and giving friend who truly loves to bring light into the darkness. Get to know her below...
Tell us about yourself! Hi! My name is Beth Johnston. I am an Assistant Speech Language Pathologist, which means I provide pediatric speech therapy. I work at a home health agency, so I drive around and see kids for therapy in their homes. I am from Abilene, Texas. I moved there when I was three and lived there through college. I still love Abilene, but have lived in the Metroplex for a year, and am glad to have spread my wings a bit.
What inspires you? My family inspires me everyday. I am so undeserving of the unconditional love, grace, strength, and support my parents have shown me my whole life even through those rough teenage patches, and on the days when it seems that all I do is complain about the challenges of life. My brother is my best friend, and inspires me to work hard, never give up, be myself, and never settle.
One thing that not everyone knows about me is I am a complete history buff. If it were up to me, I would spend days and weeks traveling to different historical sights and museums just to learn from the people who have gone before us, and the different cultures they have left behind all around the world. I have been fortunate in my life to have the opportunity to travel abroad on multiple occasions and see incredible places – I've been humbled by places I’ve been to and things I’ve seen, yet I still feel like I have barely dipped my toes in the water, and would go see all the places I’ve read about and seen in movies if I had the chance. Traveling to these places would be my first option, but take me to a museum and I’ll be happy as well.
If a museum is not an option, a good historical biography will do the trick – which reminds me that books inspire me, too. I have loved to read ever since I learned how. From a good Nicholas Sparks book that will bring tears to my eyes (every time) to classic literature, I love getting lost in the stories. If you only get to read one novel ever in your life, I would recommend Les Miserables. Yes it’s long, but you can do it. Trust me it will be worth it. I could write a great deal more about how much this book inspires me, but I will let you discover it for yourself.
What are your gifts and talents? This is tough. I have been told that I am good at bringing joy and encouragement to those I love. I am a loyal friend, and I love celebrating their victories and supporting them through hard times. I am a very emotional person and often treat it like it’s a bad thing, but at the end of the day I’m thankful that I clearly experience emotions of life. I feel the joy and I feel the pains of life thoroughly – when I love I love, and when I hurt I hurt. I can’t hide things or lie to myself... this is an odd thing to list as a talent, but I have learned to be grateful for this trait. I love being outside and being active, whether it be throwing the football with a friend, playing an all-out competitive game of volleyball, or hiking anywhere outside. Being active (preferably outdoors), is good for my soul.
How do you use your gifts to serve others? I think I need to show love and treat more people the way I treat my closest friends. I want to remember to always see the best in people, and let people in, so I can bring joy to their lives and let them share themselves with me, instead of waiting for people to prove that they “deserve” my love. So many times when I have done this I’ve learned that my initial assessment of the person was wrong, and I would have missed out on a new relationship.
What would you do if you had nothing holding you back from your dreams? I would travel with someone I love. I would go everywhere I’ve wanted to go. I would learn from as many cultures as possible and make a difference in the world, even if it’s in a small way in as many places as possible, or change lives in a huge way where I can fill a need. Or maybe I would be an archaeologist. :)
Tell us about a season of suffering that lead to good things in your life. When I was in the eighth grade I went to a youth conference in Arlington called Winterfest. I’m sure many of you have heard of or attended this conference. The weekend was fun and powerful. The theme was Master and Commander – making God the Master and Commander of our life. It was a wonderful weekend of worship and friends, and I still clearly remember singing “There’s a Stirring” on that last Sunday where several of our fellow youth group members made the decision to claim Jesus as their Master and Commander. We caravanned to Winterfest that year, and were all assigned a specific vehicle for the duration of the weekend. My friend and I somehow were assigned to a suburban full of 6th grade boys. At the time the age gap between an 8th grade girl and a 6th grade boy seems to be a lot bigger than two years, and my friend and I were wary, but after just the 3-hour road trip to Arlington, we had made new friends and were having a very entertaining trip with these same 6th grade guys who had been too shy to talk to us only hours before. On the way home we were in a very serious car accident, which claimed the life of one of the sweet boys with us, and seriously injured five others. I was not among those seriously injured; the injuries I walked away with were just emotional. I can still close my eyes and think back to the scene of that day if I try now. I remember the emotions I felt as an 8th grade girl, despair, guilt, heartbrokenness, helplessness, and fear. I couldn’t bear the fact that one minute our sweet friend had been joking and stealing our candy, and the next, he wasn’t there. I couldn’t understand why I walked away with no physical injuries when my friend lost his life, and the others were so seriously hurt. I felt awful, and I didn’t want to go to school like normal or play basketball. I was confronted with the, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” question early on in life, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t understand why this had happened. I couldn’t understand. I just wanted to be an 8th grade girl, but I had grown up so much in one afternoon. I’m thankful for all the help that we received from church, from our families, from strangers on the road who stopped that day, and from each other. I learned that bad things happen, and we don’t know why. People try to answer that question, but they really can’t. I know this: I felt that God was real that day, I saw him rally for us, I saw him heal my friends, I saw him bring his people together, I saw him empower heartbroken people to choose to rely on him and trust God instead of turning to despair. I grew to know him on a personal level, and clung to the verses:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.”
– Proverbs 3:5-6
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
– Psalms 34:18
When life gets hard, or when I am asked how I know that God is real, I always think back to this time in my life when I was desperately unsure of so many things. Through the pain of true heartbreak, one thing I did know for sure was that God was holding us close to him, and healing our broken hearts. I fully comprehended that this world is truly not our home, but there are better days to come.
Share your proudest moment. I can’t think of a specific moment, but on a very small scale, there are little moments in sometimes the most chaotic of days that I see how I helped one of my kids, or I see the relief and gratitude on a parent’s face, and in that moment I’m thankful for where God put me in life.
"I feel my purpose in life is to..." How would you finish this sentence? This question was hard for me. So many things seem unsure right now for me, I can’t even think about the future without feeling a little anxious and unsure. I’ve come to this: My Purpose is to love God and love others. REALLY love God, and REALLY love others. This means even on the days when I’m in survival mode, I need to depend on God’s love, and to truly show every person I come in contact with love every day. It’s not always about what you are doing, but how you are doing it. I want to do everyday life loving God and loving others, and if I’m doing that, the rest of the details of life will work themselves out.
To meet more Rubies, check out the rest of The Ruby Project!
All images via That's Pretty Ace