Monthly Archives: August 2014

Three Scriptures I Wish I Had Taken More Seriously…

I was given quite a bit of leadership responsibility at a very young age.  It took me quite a while to fully accept my own ability to be a leader, but nevertheless, I was still given many opportunities that don’t come around for everybody.  I remember shortly after my 21st birthday having a conversation with someone that was older than me and they said the words that have been said many times… “I wish I knew then what I know now.”  Upon hearing these words, young impressionable Bekah thought “I doubt that I will every feel that way!”  Oh little child!  How naive and utterly stupid you were!  I look back and see many lesson that I learned that could have easily been avoided simply by doing something I should have been doing all along… reading and applying Scripture.  *Sighs*

So, I decided to construct a little post containing three of the top Scriptures I wish I had taken more seriously in my early days of Christian leadership.

1.  Proverbs 14:30 – “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Sure!  Of course you’re not supposed to be envious of others.  I knew this.  But man, I certainly did not practice it!  I spent far too much valuable time trying to figure out how I could make my abilities look like those of other people.  I didn’t even realize that by trying to fit into someone else’s calling, I was in turn practicing envy.  And because I was not operating in my natural abilities, I was completely drained.  By being at peace with myself and what God calls me to do, I have far more energy to continue than when I try to do someone else’s job.  Be who you are and be at peace with it.

2.  Matthew 7:22-23 – “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out many demons and perform many miracles. 23. Then I will tell them plainly ‘I never knew you.  Away from me you evil doer.”

You see, when you are a young Christian leader, full of ambition and know how and generally know the Word of God it becomes far too easy to coast on fumes of sermons and Bible classes and never truly get to know God for yourself.  I was in a college theology class when this Scripture hit me upside the head and gave me a real “whoa” moment.  God doesn’t care as much about what we do for Him as much as He cares about knowing us.  Better yet, everything that we do for God should be an act of worship toward Him because we KNOW and LOVE Him.  At the end of the day, God wants to know us personally.  Everything else is just bonus.

3.  I Timothy 3:6 – “He (the Christian Leader) must not be a recent convert or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil.”

Of these three Scriptures, the lesson I learned from not applying this is the hardest.  I have had friends who newly committed their lives to Christ who I pushed into leadership roles before they were ready.  Why?  Because I thought that serving would solidify their faith.  In reality, it pushed them to commit to serving rather than to God.  It pushed them to be role models when they had not fully learned to conquer their own sin.  It pains me to realize the loss that occurred through my own immaturity.  I thought being a disciple of Christ was more about doing and less about being.  A true disciple strives to be disciplined in every aspect of life.  If a new convert is not pursuing discipleship, they are susceptible to thinking “it’s all about them” instead of “it’s all about Him.”  It’s a big difference and I hope that you will take this into consideration next time you see a new convert in a ministry leadership role.  Encourage new believers to pursue Christ more than a platform and be a disciple before they try to make disciples.

Phewf, ok, glad that’s over.  🙂  It’s hard to go through memory lane and remember the things that could have been avoided.  But that’s what life is about:  Learning from our mistakes and helping others avoid making the same ones.

So how about you?  What Scripture do you wish you had taken more seriously?  Or what lessons did you wish you had learned as a young leader?

 

Books, Books, Books! My Favorite Recent Reads…

I love few things more than getting immersed into a good book.  The kind of book that you stay up way too late trying to finish a chapter that becomes that rest of the book.  The kind of book that gives you both a sense of accomplishment and a profound sense of loss upon completing it.  Books are the best escape for me and I found myself falling in love with reading again over the past year.  Since my season of excess pleasure reading is coming to an end (hello upcoming house renovation) I thought I would share my top favorites with you today!

Cold Tangerines” and “Bittersweet” were fabulous as well.)

Love Does” by Bob Goff

Favorite Line: “I’ve realized that I used to be afraid of failling at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter”

This book is a brilliant example of the difference simple love can make in life.  Bob’s words make it evident that he is passionate about people and demonstrating love in every aspect of life.  I cannot begin to express how contagious the attitude of this book is.  When you read it, prepare to act in love in ways you never expected.  So good!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple

Favorite Line:  “The sooner you learn it’s ON YOU to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

This is by far my most recommended book of the year.  It’s the perfect vacation read, book club read, or “I’m tired of everything else” read.  It’s funny, quirky and the writing style is different and quite entertaining!  I found myself laughing out loud in a little Starbucks in New Jersey while I read about Bernadette.  I fully recommend this and it is a book I will definitely be reading again!

Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Favorite Line:  “I felt a queasy mixture of relief and horror: when you finally stop an itch and realize it’s because you’ve ripped a hole in your skin.”

I still have not recovered from reading this book and it has been 8 months!  I’m sure that once the wounds have closed, the upcoming release of the movie will tear them open.  I sat and read this book in 30 long, exhilarating hours and Oh my gosh… it’s just. UGH!  Read it.  Do it.  It’s so good and awful at the same time.  Just don’t hold me responsible.

Divergent“, “Insurgent“, “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth

Favorite Line: “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” (this is one of many favorite)

I want to be homies with Veronica because the woman is all kinds of brilliant.  I became completely captured by this series.  The characters are so well developed and the storyline is perfection.  Many times when I read series, particularly trilogies, the books don’t feel well developed on their own.  Like, if you were to just pick up one book, it’s really not strong by itself.  I think that is why I particularly loved the Divergent trilogy.  Each book has a strong storyline that also plays into the full scope of the series.  I loved it.  Everyone I have recommended it to loved it.  Read it, I’m sure you’ll love them too!

The Fault in Our Starts” by John Green

Favorite Line: (Also the most quoted line) “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

I’m sure by now you have heard of this book and/or seen the movie.  This book has been over read and over publicized and I’m sure there is no one left on the face of the planet that has not been exposed to this book.  But on the off chance that you haven’t, I’m sticking this one in here.  I read this book while I was in Quito, Ecuador last fall.  It was a great book to read on a fall vacation (in my opinion).  It’s a book that you need to read wearing yoga pant and an oversized sweatshirt, with a cup of tea in your hand and a pack of kleenex by your side.  Personally, I loved the story.  I found it to be beautiful and well written.  If you haven’t already fallen in love with Gus and Hazel Grace, go grab this book and dive in!

There ya have it!  These are the frontrunners of fun books I have read within the past year.  Of course I also have a slew of theology books I read during my stint as a masters student last year, so I may have to do a “geeky theology reads” post soon.  But for now, I hope you grab these books and have some fun.

Happy Reading!

Note:  this post contains affiliate links.

Ikea Should Have Frequent Flyer Miles….(And Ikea Kitchen Guide)

 Orlando Ikea

(The Mothership)

 You know how airlines have frequent flyer miles based on how often you travel with them? Well, I think Ikea should have “frequent flyer miles” just based on how many trips we have made to “The Mothership” within the past two months. We have been so often that we have navigated the way to get to the kitchen section backwards in order to get there faster. This is no easy feat, but when you have spent multiple trips winding through couches and desks in order to get to your destination in the middle, desperation will grip your soul and you’ll do kooky things in order to maximize your time in the Mecca of home décor.

Nevertheless, the many MANY trip to Ikea and the hours spent moving tiny digital cabinets on the website are quickly coming to the end goal of being placed into our kitchen (huzzah!)   We are planning to build and install the cabinets ourselves in order to save upward of $2,000. So I will certainly be sharing the things we learn as we install our Ikea kitchen. But for now, I thought I would share some of the reasons we decided to go with Ikea over other cabinets.

 

  1. Cost.

Obviously, a new kitchen can be done in anything from less that $10,000 to “I’m-pulling-out-a-second-mortgage-just-to-redo-my-kitchen.” Being the economical people that we are, we went closer to the first option. Not only is Ikea more affordable in general, they are also holding a 20% 4,500 sale. So for us, getting all our cabinets as well as a couple of appliances for 20% made Ikea extremely cost effective.

 

  1. The Reviews for the Cabinets are STELLAR!

As I have mentioned before, both my husband and I are very frugal and we enjoy finding a good deal. Ikea is the most cost effective cabinets that we found, but really that is not what caused us to choose them. We are all about the good deal, but only if the quality is still high. So when we started researching Ikea cabinets, we were pleasantly surprised by how highly they were rated by others. Of course, my research looks more like “how do other bloggers like their cabinets” (like Involving Home and Little House blog). These blogs have super helpful tips about Ikea kitchens and cabinets. My Husband, however, went more of the J.D. Power cabinet study route. Basically, both of us found that Ikea had a great product and we should jump on the deal!

 

  1. Look and Functionality

There are a lot of what I consider upgrades in the Ikea cabinets that would typically cost extra in other cabinets places. Things such as soft close drawers (oh how I LUH-UH-UHVE soft close drawers!) We also customized a lot of the kitchen to fit our preferences without busting our budget.

 

Once we have officially begun our kitchen process I will let you know about ALL our selections (countertops, sink, faucet, appliances) and why we decided to go with those things. But I thought that I would leave you with the reasons we chose to go with Ikea over other options (Lowes, Home Depot, Local Cabinet builders, etc.)

How to Kill Time When You’re Waiting To Renovate.

There are so many things I could have called this post.  Some that came to mind were

“A Perfectionists Guide to Lists and Planning” or “How to Drive Your Husband Insane with Details”

But I felt that “How to Kill Time” left me with some of my dignity when in all actuality I am a raving reno mess and we haven’t even gotten into the house yet!

So, you may ask, how have I been filling my days when I don’t have the keys to begin?  Research, Watson.  With lots and lots of research.

Since I have decided to share all my compounding yet minimal knowledge on this, my tiny corner of the internet, I figured a “How To Kill Time” post would be helpful.

So…

HOW TO KILL TIME WHEN YOU’RE WAITING TO RENOVATE.

Accurate depiction of how to plan out a house

(A completely accurate depiction of how my reno time is spent, complete with Starbucks toffee nut iced coffee)

Step 1:  Pin ALL THE PINS onto a board called “For a Renovation”

This step is very important.  It will give you a false sense of control over all the things you will need to do once you actually get the keys.  Take a gander at my super awesome pin board here.

Step 2:  Make a very detailed day-by-day schedule of what needs to be done each day before you actually have to move in.

This step also gives me a false sense of readiness.  But I don’t want to get into the house and start paint the living room when really we need to paint the master because the carpet is coming on day 3.  Ya know?  I’m all about saving time and being a complete delight in implementing my plans.  I will totally do a post on this process if it goes as I want it to.

Step 3:  Freak out about possibly not having a fully functioning kitchen when you move in. *ahem* Just kidding, moving on…

Step 3:  Make a list of all the things that you need to purchase before getting into the house so that you can be totally ready to tackle everything.

Here is the list of what I know we will need and that we have either begun purchasing or will purchase in the next two weeks…

1.  An Electric Paint Roller (this is the one we will be getting)

Since every square inch of the entire house has to be painted, my wonderfully wise mother suggested that we invest in getting one of these suckers.  I will definitely keep you updated on how this works.  But right now, we are super excited about it.

2.  A Nail Gun (this one)

We have decided to build all our kitchen cabinets ourselves in order to save a couple grand.  All the research I did recommended getting an electric nail gun in order to make the process go quicker.  So alas, we did.  It’s a good investment since we also want to try our hand at building some furniture for the new place too.

3.  A good, 2 battery Electric Drill (like this baby right here)

The drill we currently have died after each screw when trying to hang blinds.  BLINDS!  To save ourselves the headache of having to stop every 10 minutes to charge the drill, we are investing in a new one and I am CERTAIN we will not regret this decision.

(all the links are affiliate links)

Step 4:  Go to Ikea approximately 1,000 times and look at cabinets, countertops, hardware, as well as all the pretty house-ware things that your husband rolls his eyes at.

I am sure I will do a series of posts about our Ikea kitchen experiences and why we decided to go with Ikea for cabinets.  I will also do a huge “Ta Da!” post when it’s all done.  I’m fairly certain it will reflect tear-stained quartz as I will be so entirely thrilled to have a real, honest-to-goodness, Bekah approved kitchen again.

Step 5:  Decide to stop being a control freak and enjoy your non-reno time while you can.

One of the most important steps is to let go of the plans.  This is hard for me.  I know there are a ton of tiny decisions coming my way.  In two weeks I will be in the middle of the renovation and that is when I can focus time and energy onto what needs to get done and what doesn’t.  But right now, I know one of the best things I can do for myself is step away from the paint swatches, plans, and angie’s list and realize that eventually it will all be done and my house will be liveable and it will all be ok.

And there ya have it, a recovering perfectionists guide to preparing for a renovation.

What about you?  Have you ever found yourself completely tied up in a project to the point where you have to back away slowly?

Things that Proverbs 31 Doesn’t Mention…

via @rachelmphotography

via @rachelmphotography

 

I have never been a super “girly-girl.”  I was born without the gene that inspires a girl to effortlessly construct the perfect outfit.  I spend the majority of my time with no make up and my hair thrown up into a ponytail.  But when I do need to go out or when I’m going to be seen by people, I do put in a bit more effort.  But I often find myself standing in front of the mirror frustrated.  You see, I don’t have naturally curly hair like many assume I do.  What I really have is naturally frizzy hair that I periodically beat into submission with a vast combination of gels, creams and hair spray.  I was also born with dark circles under my eyes.  This coupled with the fact that I was born without the girl gene that knows how to perfectly hide dark circles with combinations of creams and concealers, I throw on the same concealer brand I’ve been using since I was 13 and call it a wash.  When I leave my house, I don’t care.  I feel fine.  I’m not concerned about how I look.  I know within my heart of hearts that beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30) and that I would rather conquer other parts of my life rather than contemplate the perfect eyebrow shape.  But then I get around other girls who DO posses that fashion/make-up/perfect hair gene and become self-conscious (as I assume many girls are prone to).  It’s not just the comparison of looks, it’s the comparison of inability.

But at the beginning of this year, I started to read Proverbs 31 daily (or as many days as I remember to) and to my surprise, there was a very specific lack of attributes that I often associate with what a real woman should be able to do…

Proverbs 31 says nothing about…

1.  Perfectly shaped and groomed eyebrows.

2.  Possessing hair that looks perfect when pulled out of a ponytail (I mean seriously?! Am I the only one who is mystified by this ability?)

3.  Knowing how to put together an outfit of different patterns and look stylish rather than like an 80’s nerd (or maybe that’s in now?)

4.  Being able to flawlessly apply make-up without being able to actually tell that make up is being worn.

5.  Having perfectly toned arms and a thigh gap.

I’m not saying any of these things are wrong.  I will never condemn a girl for spending 2 hours to get ready for the day (although I can’t say that I relate.)  But what I am trying to say is that these are not the things.  Woman are more than make up, hair, and thigh gaps.  The world needs woman who are more than make-up, hair and thigh gaps.  The world needs women who are genuine, vulnerable, tender, and willing to put down the mascara wands and realize that her worth is not contingent upon it. I believe that woman can do both.  That they can be perfectly confident in who they are with or without make-up.  But I would venture to say that if you asked a girl to go through her regular routine with a ponytail and no make-up, she would hesitate ever so slightly.

My favorite verse in Proverbs 31 is verse 25.  “She is clothed in STRENGTH and DIGNITY, she laughs without fear of the future.”  For me, this serves as a reminder that woman are made to be strong in who they are.  That we are to conduct ourselves in such a way that we demonstrate self-respect and character.  When I look in the mirror, at the end of the day I would much rather see someone with character and graciousness than someone who has mastered the eyelash curler.  I would rather be a Proverbs 31 woman than a Vogue girl.

My purpose in writing this is not to bash the women who do put time and effort into physical beauty, it is to encourage all women to put effort into MORE than the physical beauty.  I want to encourage and remind you that it’s ok to desire more than what our culture dictates.  It’s ok to want people to remember you as “the girl who exudes love” rather than “the girl who is so pretty.”  It’s ok to be remembered for your strength and character rather than your outfit.  It’s ok to want eternal character rather than temporal beauty.  And it’s also ok to want both.  Be confident in who you are.  Be confident in the talents and abilities that God has given you.  Be genuine, be loving, and be a Proverbs 31 woman.

 

To the Worship Team Who Was Meeting in Starbucks…

I have grown up in the church.  I have learned a lot of things about the church that I love, and many parts of the church that I really can’t stand.  One of those things is gossip.  I have watched gossip tear apart the people in churches over and over as people allow lies to penetrate truth.  In more recent years as I read and understand the letters Paul wrote to the early church, I realize that this issue has been around since the beginning.

Ephesians 4:3 – Make EVERY EFFORT to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

I think we can see here that it takes effort and intention in order to keep the peace among believers.  If you have been in a church or around church people for over a year, you know that there are ever-present opportunities to take offense or disrupt the peace.  It’s of utmost importance to stop disruptions to the peace at every opportunity.

So when I was sitting in Starbucks, sifting through my endless pile of paint swatches and ikea spreadsheets and overheard a group of praise and worship team leaders gossiping, my heart began to boil.  How did I know that they were worship team leaders?  Because I had been listening to their conversations about what songs worked the past Sunday and what songs would be sung the next Sunday.  They talked about guitarists who need help and singers who wouldn’t be available.  Then, one name was mentioned and half the table let out an audible moan.  They began to talk about this person’s personal life outside of the church and why that person “wasn’t adequate to serve on the praise and worship team” and “how can pastor so-n-so not see these problems.”  I was bitting my tongue, disappointed on how a constructive meeting had so quickly turned to gossip when one person at the table spoke up and said “You know, let’s stop talking about her and pray for her.”  And cue the teary eyes.  This person, so obviously in a ministry position, had made every effort to keep the peace, to protect his sister in Christ and to hold others accountable to keeping peace.

So thank you, unknown Starbucks praise and worship team, for holding to biblical standard.  For guarding your hearts and mouths and knowing that the best thing you can do for someone who is struggling is to pray for them rather than put them down.  Big applause for you!

The Stabilizing Factors of a Chocolate Chip Cookie.

IMG_2344

 

Photo Credit: @rachelmphotography

I am a planner.  I like to have all of my ducks in a row when approaching any situation.  With the upcoming house renovation and still having 25 days until we have the keys, I have spent a considerable amount of time preparing every aspect of the renovation.  This includes but is not limited to:  making a daily schedule of what needs to be done which day, researching for the best prices on various items, doing endless comparisons on induction vs. electric cook tops and so forth.  I have become so consumed with the aforementioned plans for the future that I have completely neglected the now.

I have always struggled with appreciating the moment.  The only day in my entire life that I actually practiced “living in the moment” was my wedding day.  I’m pretty sure my sister put a valium in my latte that day because nothing phased me.  It is the only time in my life where I made the conscious decision to enjoy the moment instead of fretting the details.  I am continually thankful that I did!  I digress.  I am currently living next to the ocean, something that I don’t  particularly think will happen again, and I have been out to the beach once in the past 10 days.  I know.  I can feel the virtual rocks being thrown my way.  But I have been distracted with lists and research and have not taken the time to enjoy where I am.

If I’m being honest, I think part of the reason I don’t live in the moment is because growing up in the church, I constantly heard “don’t live for the moment!” meaning “don’t  get caught up in sin for the temporary satisfaction.”  But in my “good girl” brain, who wasn’t going to engage in the “obvious” sins, I ended up always focusing on the future rather than living in the now.  Sure, it’s great to be prepared.  It’s great to have a plan that can be implemented and to have a grasp on what the future holds.  But ignoring the moment means that it is far to easy to live one’s entire life in the future and never truly enjoy life.  Life should be more than lists, plans, and research.  Life should be spontaneously deciding to go do something outside of the original plan.  Life should be making an extravagant meal “just because.”  Life should be taking walks on the beach instead of scrolling through Netflix (other people do this, right?)  Daily life should be more than what’s expected, more than a ritual, more than a plan.

So last night, I was feeling frazzled.  The condo kitchen felt very small, I couldn’t find information that I was looking for, I had spent too much time thinking about the house and not enough time thinking about where I am now.  So I decided to do something.  I decided to make cookies.  There are a couple things that help ground me when I am starting to let my mind be bogged down with fluff.  One of those things is chocolate chip cookies.  Mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies forces me to focus my energy into perfectly measuring and blending together a recipe instead of letting my emotions become a rye.  But also, it reminds me of home.  I cannot begin to count the times that my mom whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies just because.  We almost always had the ingredients on hand and when I picture the kitchen counters in any house I have lived in, they seem incomplete without a sheet of wax paper covered in freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  The is nothing fancy about chocolate chip cookies (although I will always believe that they should be made with milk chocolate and not any other kind of chip). But there is something so comforting, so homey about a cookie fresh from the oven.  One that is still hot and slightly gooey in the middle.  The kind of cookie that you promise you will eat “just one” and end up eating three.  The kind of cookies that when you wake up the next morning, you get excited when you realize that that cookie is now your breakfast.

As absurd as it may seem, that batch of cookies helped me so much.  It helped me feel like this condo is my home right now.  It made me feel grounded.  It reminded me that life is life; it’s meant to be enjoyed.  If that means running to the store and whipping up a batch of cookies on a whim, so be it!  The details will work themselves out.  In 25 days, I’ll have a house.  I will have a fully functioning kitchen at some point (and if that is not right when we move in, that’s ok.) It will get furnished before we have people staying over.  We will find good deals and it will all get worked out.  But for now, I’m going to sit on my balcony, listen to the waves, and eat a cookie.