Wednesday, September 17, 2014

That is Brave

I don't know if you had a chance to catch Wednesday's Mid-Morning when it aired...but it was an extra special one for me.

My first time to sit in Lynne's chair for a full hour - other than a BLT show. My first time to choose a book and read it and make notes and settle on questions and place a call to a guest before the show began. A guest I'd have for a full hour.

I'd love to tell you that I was Lynne-esque about the whole thing...cool and calm. But the reality was my hands shook through the entire thing, and had it not been for the literal ARMY of prayer warriors surrounding me...I am not sure I'd have made it.

Ryan took time to pray with me earlier in the week - praying circles around all the parts of first-time-hosting that made me nervous, and then he majorly spoke my love language before work, when he slithered out of the house to get me this surprise {which he doctored up with notes all around}:
And when show time came, I settled in knowing I had done all I could, knowing people were praying, and I did my best:
Appropriate that my first interview was on bravery.

Annie talked about how bravery looks very different for different people. AMEN TO THAT. I wanted to show you a sampling of some of the ways bravery has shown up for me over the years:

Back in May 2010, when I was smack in the middle of the darkest season of my life, bravery meant getting on an airplane all by myself {first time to ever fly alone} to travel to Virginia Beach to see my best friend. Flying alone was brave and traveling at all during a debilitating season of the soul was brave times twenty.

In October 2010, bravery was getting in a car by myself and driving to Wisconsin - alone on unfamiliar roads for the first time ever in my life.
In June 2011, bravery was packing up the only office I'd ever worked in throughout my adult life and saying goodbye to a job that felt "safe" to follow God's call to WBCL.
In September 2011, bravery was standing on the stage {not to talk. Just taking a step ONTO THE STAGE} with Jim and Ron during the first concert I ever worked. I nearly passed out over that!

In November 2011, bravery was walking onto a stage - this time TO talk - as I worked the David Phelps concert and actually got to introduce him. Speaking in front of more than 2 people was brave. I don't know how many were in the room that night, but it was CONSIDERABLY more than 20.
In September 2012, bravery was running a 10K - especially since I'm not a runner.

In May 2013, bravery was ziplining. Not gracefully. Just doing it.
In August 2013, bravery was climbing to the top of a lighthouse. I'm afraid of heights. Every step was a prayer.
That same month, bravery was taking a Segway tour on vacation. A picture worth 1000 words:
Last month, bravery was taking my first {and last} ever theme park ride.
And just a couple of weeks ago, bravery was sitting in my car watching my husband drive away for a rafting trip with the guys: our first time apart.

Bravery has many forms. But oh how we need to celebrate it. Every. Single. Time.

Hoping you'll join us for BLT to share YOUR stories of bravery. #thatisbrave

Thursday, September 11, 2014

God's Words in Your Mouth

Tuesday I spent the afternoon with our good friend Dr. Mitch Kruse, filming episodes of his television show, Restoration Road. I was part of a group that included comedian David Dean and volleyball player William Robbins, founder of Empowered Sports Club.

Guess which guy is the volleyball player and which one is the comedian!

As Mitch led us through Philippians 4:8 - 20, I was struck by the vast differences of our insights on the same verses. And I think that's something worth noting.

God has things to reveal and to say to the world about Himself that He can only express through you and me...and Billy Graham and Beth Moore and Mother Teresa. All of God's children are chosen, known, and beloved unique revelations of their Father. Walking billboard that proclaim, "This is what God looks like."

His words in your mouth and my mouth. His life in your actions and my actions. Our lives matter in God bringing His will to pass because He has graciously chosen to include us in answering the prayer, "Thy kingdom come."

So we listen to Him in prayer and silence and His Word. AND HE GIVES US UNDERSTANDING.

And be sure to pay attention to what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand--and even more besides. To those who are open to my (Jesus) teaching, more understanding will be given. (Mark 4:24, 25)

We then share this ongoing stream of understanding in the comings and goings of living.  

Comedian David Dean reveals the humbling challenge of showing up at an event of just 35 people -- and internally bending his knees to Jesus in order to give a full-arena performance. That's how David once experienced Philippians 4:12, being content with little, in this case, an audience. William Robbins reveals the steady-keel identity that grows out of focusing on what is true about Who God is and who He declares William to be. Yes, Philippians 4:8 secures his identity whether he receives praise or criticism. 

These men, different from me in ways beyond gender, encouraged, challenged, blessed and entertained me in ways Billy Graham, Beth Moore, Mother Teresa, and everyone else can't. 

And I heard and saw God.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Memories and Dreams

Ryan works in health care, which means he doesn't always get holiday weekends. He works at a rehab hospital, and patients have to be seen 365 days a year. And so it was, that this past holiday weekend, I spent a lot of time home alone while he worked every day but Sunday.

It was a lovely weekend. LOVELY. I had the perfect mix of work and fun...and while I would have loved more time spent with Ryan...I appreciated every moment I had on my own.

One of my projects was to start {yes...a year and a half later...START} our reception scrapbook. Turns out once I got going on the thing, I couldn't stop, and I did all sixty-some pages of that book in one day FLAT.
I loved reliving the moments. All of them. Like the one where Ryan actually hauled our deep freeze from our house to the reception site so we could keep our 15 gallons of pre-dipped ice cream cups cold until it was time to serve.
Or like the moment when, while we showed the video of our ceremony, I slid over to the gift table and stole two cards so Ryan and I could fan ourselves, because we were SO WARM in that room.
Or like the moment when one of our bridesmaids, Sara, could barely contain her excitement, because she got to meet LYNNE! LYNNE FORD! {That's what she kept saying...It's LYNNE! LYNNE FORD!}
They were good memories. Ones that made me smile as I transcribed the stories of the pages of the scrapbook.

Later in the weekend, I looked through some of my older scrapbooks, just for fun. Just to remember what I'd forgotten.

I looked at the book of my vacation to Virginia Beach in May 2010 - smack in the middle of my heart's desert. I hadn't been sure I was capable of traveling by myself in such a heartsick state.

I smiled at the first picture of me with the ocean. It was the first time I had ever seen any ocean, and it was the first time in WEEKS a genuine smile had crossed my lips.

I giggled at the picture my best friend took of me with the giant shell on the boardwalk. Right when she snapped it, some guy sat down on the other side, and it kind of looked like I'd smashed him.

And I remembered the feeling of relief when I made it safely home to my sister's house {she ran me to and from the airport}. I had actually accomplished a hard thing, and I was so proud of myself!

Good memories...hard memories...but all preserved as a testament to the work God had done in my heart!

I didn't just relive the past while Ryan was rehabbing patients. I did a fair amount of dreaming for our future. Pinterest and I spent more than a few hours together while I mentally designed our someday house and imagined everything from paint colors to furniture placement.

I dreamed about ministries we might be part of and entertaining we might do in our home. I brainstormed book ideas and Bible study topics and anything else I could think to ponder.

Memories and dreams do a lovely dance. They take you back to a place and time you've already walked and give you the confidence to walk ahead into an unknown. To be reminded that joy can be found in the places of deepest heartache and that celebrations are never perfect, but they're always worth giving honor to the reason for the celebration.

How I love them both...the memories and the dreams. And as I glide through this life and more dreams come true and take their places in the scrapbooks of my life, I'm just so very grateful for the God Who has walked with me in the deserts and over the mountain tops!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What a Week (In a Good Way)!

It's official: we've reached 36 years of married life. Yep, Tuesday, Doug and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. Here we are on August 26, 1978.


Here we are on August 26, 2014.


The only challenge in choosing a card for Doug this year was narrowing it down to just one. So many captured how I feel about him, but this one said it best:






There were several years when the challenge of choosing an anniversary card was very different. Hallmark doesn't make cards with messages like . . .

Our marriage is miserable and I don't like you.

I wish we could start over...with different spouses.

Doug and I have both, at times, felt this way, which is why we are so grateful to not only still be married, but to be crazy-in-love, tender-hearted-toward-each-other, HAPPY-to-be-together married. A previous blog post explains what turned us around. Reading it again filled me to the brim with joy and gratefulness and made my eyes leak.

Thank you, God, for the gift of marriage. Thank you, God, for the gift of Doug. 

Thirty-seven, here we come!

No Formulas

I'm a rule girl.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh am I ever a rule girl.

This morning during our special BLT-on-Wednesday show, Lynne told a story about a drive-thru she visits that has a do-not-enter sign on one side of the parking lot. At times, she may {ahem} still choose to go that way, despite the fading sign. My OCD about busted through the studio windows when I heard that.

We have a do-not-enter section of a street close to our house, and every time I see a car driving the wrong way, I holler a quick driver's ed lesson to its driver {through the safety of my rolled up, tinted windows, of course} and mutter to Ryan that no one follows the rules anymore.

I do love me some rules.

But there's a difference between rules and formulas.

RULES are set in stone and were made to be followed. FORMULAS are expectations - and our lives don't all follow the same formulas.

This morning I read that Jill {Duggar} Dillard and her husband of eight weeks, Derick, announced they're expecting their first baby. I skimmed through the comments. Not all of them, as they numbered in the thousands. It was a divided camp. Many commenters said they weren't surprised...they were excited...and they wished them the best. Then there were those who said it was too soon. They hadn't dated courted long enough. They got married so quickly after they became engaged. A baby right away meant they hadn't had time to get to know each other or enjoy married life.

Jill and Derick didn't break any rules. But they have broken some formulas - and it seems people are very attached to the expectations of formulas and don't know what to do when they're not followed like rules.

Ryan and I had only told our friends, family, and church that we were dating about a week before he proposed. I understood that most people were under the impression that we did only date FOR a week before getting engaged, and that wasn't true. But it began the ruffling of the feathers that continued when we announced that we'd get married two months later. In Florida. Outside. And immediately after we got married, the baby questions began. Formulas swirled around us, and as we bucked one after the other, people didn't know what to do - other than tell us what we should do.

And it's not just about relationships.

Last night I had the privilege of hearing Colleen Coble speak about the writing process. She talked about how she researches for her novels, how she writes, edits, names her characters, comes up with ideas, and more. She spoke for about an hour and a half, and I drank in everything she said, learning from a successful writer.

But even as I listened, I noticed she writes in a wildly different pattern than I learned in college. She writes differently from some other writers I've studied. The things they preach as must-do steps...she skips entirely. The things that bring her so much joy {and success!} as an author would unglue some of the other writers I've studied.

And as I thought through these opposing patterns, I was reminded again that life is not a formula.

There is, of course, right and wrong. There are rules in certain settings. There is always God's unshakable truth.

But there are many...many...parts of life that are just formulas. Yours will look different from mine. And it doesn't mean you're right and I'm wrong. We're just different. And different is okay. Oh that we would celebrate it instead of criticize it!

It's okay that you don't understand my methods on everything and it's also fine that I don't understand yours.

God made us both...unique and precious in His sight.

I'm Bekah. I was born to a completed family and grew up as an only child, with sisters out of the house and married. I was single for 14 years of my adult life. When I found love, I found it quickly and transitioned into married life. We're cat parents and we love it. I love to scrapbook and document our lives on the blog and journal and bake desserts. I hate working out and eating vegetables, but I do both anyway. This is who I am.

You might be different. Not might be. You ARE different. And I celebrate you for being who you are and making the decisions you've made.

Let's give some rules-vs-formula-grace, my friends!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Can You Keep a Secret?

I'd just entered the warm, floaty world that hovers between sleep and wakefulness, when it happened. (Don't you love that lovely land?) I wasn't in bed, but nestled in our gravity-free recliner on the back patio, its canopy protecting me from the Sunday afternoon sun.

The. Glorious. Idea.

I'm a creative soul. But this thought that burst into my consciousness, fully formed, was so dissimilar from anything I've thought or done before, it had God's fingerprints all over it. What is it it, you ask?

I can't tell you.

I'm not withholding the news to tease or taunt you. I really want to share it. Did I say really? What I meant to say was I really, really, really want to share it, but can't...at least for now. God is telling me, Not yet. It's not time.

We keep very few things to ourselves these days. That's not right or wrong; it's just the way things are. But it seems to me our rush to tell, tell, tell can rob us of the treasure of blessings and graces God intends solely for us as His uniquely loved masterpieces, or for sharing with others once we've unwrapped and experienced the treasure in the perfect presence of Christ.

I remember when Doug and I first learned we were pregnant with our son. We couldn't wait to tell my parents a second grandchild was on the way, and to let Doug's mom know that she could begin buying Notre Dame onesies...finally. But we didn't, at least not until a few days after we'd received the confirmation. In the meantime we savored our secret, suggested names, and basked in the oneness of the relationship that was Us.

You and I are part of the body of Christ, the Church. And we are also individually known, chosen and named children of God. He sees you, He sees me, and bestows blessings and gifts that stir the you and me that only He truly knows.

If you're a parent, you get what I'm saying. You take your daughter to the theater to see Peter Pan because you know that when the "boy who wouldn't grow up" bursts through the Darlings' nursery window and flies out over the audience, that moment of freedom and sheer delight -- experienced with you, her mom or dad -- will lock itself in a room in your daughter's memory. Or when you gift your horse-crazy son with his first riding lesson, and he gallops around the arena without any tether, that moment of freedom and sheer delight -- experienced with you, his mom or dad -- will lock itself in a room in your son's memory. They may tell their siblings or friends about the experience. But, then again, they may do what Mary, the mother of Jesus, did: treasure it in their hearts.

That's what I'm doing, for now, with The. Glorious. Idea. But I'm not alone.

Jesus is treasuring it with me.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Little Words

Last week during BLT, I told the story of going to the dentist...and the insane amount of fear I experienced prior to that initial appointment. I cried when I made the appointment. I cried most of the day leading up to it. I cried all the way there and all the way through the appointment.

Classy, party of one.

Before I left the office, Lynne dug through her dish of MudLove bracelets in search of one that fit my need. After deciding "Dig Deep" wasn't the appropriate fit, we settled on fear not.

I wore that bracelet to my appointment, and you can know I'll be wearing it to the big bad procedure I'll be undergoing later this month, and to every follow up appointment.

I rubbed my fingers over the words stamped in pottery while I sat in the chair that day...telling myself over and over the same words Christ spoke often in the Bible: fear not.

You know, He spoke a lot of little nuggets of wisdom wrapped up in a handful of words: love your neighbor, rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, do not worry, do not judge, ask seek and knock...

...just to name a few.

I am not a theologian, but I sure appreciate those who have that gift. I appreciate those who can study one sentence and learn enough about the time period, the culture, and the surrounding context to write a commentary to help us understand it.

I took a college class in Biblical Exegsis and spent an entire semester unpacking less than 10 verses in no less than a dozen ways. By the end of the semester, I had a thick paper with all my findings - and a whole lot of research under my belt. It was one of my favorite classes, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the study of the Scriptures.

But as much as I love that approach to study, I am reminded if the simplicity of the Gospel. Jesus taught in stories and tiny sentences of direction that anyone can understand. His direction to fear not was just that...fear not. It wasn't  multi-step plan or a wall hanging or a three-day conference. It was two words spoken in gentle love: fear not.

The little words can mean the most. They're so simple that we feel we need to complicate them in some way. Research them. Figure them out. Speculate deeper meanings.

But sometimes it really is just that simple:

Fear not.

Love your neighbor.

Rejoice always.

Pray continually.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

Do not worry.

Do not judge.

Ask, seek, and knock.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.