Friday, December 2, 2011

Memories of Generosity

This is my letter of Thanksgiving to my Father for the legacy of generosity he is building. 

To My One and Only Poppie, 

I don't know if I've told you how much I've come to admire your generous spirit. As we were growing up I took for granted the way you selflessly gave to those who were down and out. It wasn't until recent years I realized not everyone does that. Hurting souls have always found a haven in the Christ in you. Immigrants, homeless, recovering addicts, the elderly, the unfriendly.. Otherwise known as "the least of these".

I remember being about six years old the first time you picked up a homeless couple. It was a cold winter evening on Airline Highway. The man was pushing the woman in a wheelchair and you offered them a ride. We went by The Salvation Army to find it closed for the night. Instead, you drove them to the place they directed - a wooded area on the edge of a parking lot in a bad part of town. Jordan and I thought their tent was neat. But you knew differently; it was cold. Without hesitation you gave them the old comforters we'd used to keep warm in the van and we said goodbye to our smelly new friends. You went back the next day to take them to a shelter. 

That was the first time I understood what it meant to be homeless. We asked a lot of questions about what we'd seen. It made a lasting impression on me. I forever saw the homeless through different eyes. Eyes of compassion and understanding instead of cynicism and entitlement. (Poppie had no recollection of this whatsoever, but it has been etched in mine and Jordan's cherished memories.)

I can recall many other stories of lives that you touched. You couldn't afford babysitters so Jordan and I always tagged along with you to visit nursing homes, halfway houses, rehab centers and repair work days. Maybe we didn't spend our weekends like our other friends did, but I'm so very grateful that you taught us how to live like Jesus as a way of life - not a Sunday school lesson. This wasn't done out of obligation or preached "because the bible says to do it" and made into a cliche'. It wasn't religious. This was simply how you taught us to live. To see the need and meet it, even when "silver and gold have I none." 

How many times were you burned? Countless. Yet I've never heard you recount those instances. As a child I thought this ordinary - to give to those who eventually stole from or betrayed us. I never questioned why you did it again. It was our "normal". Now I recognize this for what it is - extraordinary. You display an extraordinary spirit of ceaseless generosity, undeterred by wounds the world has inflicted. You have been forgiven so much that you love much. Never have I known you to hesitate. Your right hand never let the left hand know what it was doing. Thank you for consistently modeling compassion and generosity to us.

I hear of families visiting soup kitchens to show their children how to serve. This is their good work. Poppie, you showed us much more than "good works". You showed us what it means to lay down your life; investing your time, money, hard labor, and most importantly you heart into people. 

I am overwhelmed when I think of the number of lives that you have touched and I pray fervently that I will be like the Jesus that I have seen in you over the years. To give without thought of gain or reward. You gave when you had nothing. But I can only imagine the heavenly crowns you have earned in these sixty years, and how many more you will earn, all to lovingly lay those crowns at the feet of Jesus and how blessed that day will be. 

Happy 60th Birthday,  

Your Bekah

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Why is it that when someone takes an unannounced blog hiatus, they feel the need to provide excuses or somehow explain the absence? It's an unspoken pressure - and I know I'm not the only blogger who feels it.

So yes, I took an unannounced hiatus. All I know to tell you is that my inspiration fled for a time. But it has returned. My hands are itching to write once again. I can feel the fountain of words bubbling beneath the surface, and I am relieved.

But until the time that those words find their way these digital pages I thought I might share a few pictures with you - my blog followers - of what I've been up to for the last two months. You can actually see where my renewed inspiration comes from.

Jordan and I visited Houston with some dear friends of ours. We took a day trip to Austin, TX where the photo below was taken in this great crafty antique shop on Congress. Austin is a great city!

Me, Jordan {sister}, and Arielle
We had some grand adventures and tried new things (as always) like Coconut water that we got from a Malaysian Restaurant! Jaclyn (our friend in Houston) knows all these great places for great food! We wandered around Chinatown seeing odd sites and avoiding Durian Fruit every time we turned around. Jaclyn and her husband Orlando are as fabulous as my big sisters. And if you know me, you know my big sisters are pretty spectacular.

Jordan, Me, Jaclyn and Arielle
If you have been on Pinterest for any length of time it's likely that you seen this idea to give 60 memories for a fathers 60th birthday. This was inspiration defined! Our beloved Poppie turned 60 years old at the end of October and we managed to gather notes and letters from friends old and new, co-workers, church members, neighbors, and family.
Jordan stamped all 60 envelopes
I was absolutely overwhelmed to see the ways my father has effected so many lives. I plan on publishing what I wrote to him here on the blog sometime soon. This project produced many tears and much laughter, and our Poppie was so very blessed by it.
Tears as they were read aloud.
At the beginning of November Jordan and I decided to take a spontaneous trip back up The Natchez Trace where these adventures happened. This time were were going camping and hiking!
Me at the Parkway Entrance 
We had a great time hiking all 13 miles of trails in Tishomingo State Park. Even though most of the leaves had fallen, it was still beautiful!
Our shadows on Swinging Bridge over Bear Creek
We did a lot of smiling

We also listened to this song a lot on this trip. I love this group. You can download it for free here.

And finally, over this past Thanksgiving weekend, I turned 23.  I had an amazing time with my family and got some great gifts (Thank you Jordan for Bonhoeffer on Radio Theatre). As an excuse to get out of the house Jordan and I took my niece, Leah, and got manicures (in pale neutral shades).
Of course we did. 
I've got to tell you guys that my niece is one of the most amazing teenagers I've ever met. It shouldn't surprise me, because she has some great parents. I enjoyed every moment with her, as you can see from the pictures below.
A very happy birthday indeed
We got our "no evils" a little out of order
And y'all. This chick is gor-ge-ous. If my future children are even half as beautiful as my nieces, this family is going to have to take stock in the weapons industry.
Photo from my shoot with her this weekend.
I can't tell you the last time I've enjoyed my family so much. And still am. We made some lovely memories.

So the loveliness continues. I love the holidays. I love cuddling under a blanket (new new fluffy, fleecy one!) with some tea to watch old Christmas movies. I'm looking forward to an entire month of these kind of indulgences. It's the simple things...
milktea with honey #favorite

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I was ashamed, You called me Beautiful.

"When we stop believing that good men exist, we lose the desire to be good women... To believe that you were created to be the masterpiece of God's creation, the height of beauty, an imitation of your Maker's heart; that you hold value by simply being a woman: To begin believing that in the same way you would die to be an incredible woman, there are men that would die to be incredible for you." 
Lauren Nicole Dubinsky

When I first read this quote five months ago I was afraid to believe it. Afraid that it was mildly sacrilegious. But I wrote it down on a sticky-note and kept it beside my bed, painfully unaware of how desperately I needed to believe that this is truth. At the time I had no idea how deep insecurity was rooted in me. I have been surprised to discover in the last 3 months that I am much more insecure as a 22 year old young woman than I ever was as a teenager. For years, without even realizing it, when someone has paid me a compliment I have graciously accepted it, but inwardly identified a reason that person feels obligated to say such a thing and dismissed their words. Without a second thought. Without realizing that I was essentially making my well-meaning friends and family liars in my eyes.

God brought this thought process to a screeching halt one afternoon while I stood at my bathroom sink. When I looked up into the mirror I heard Him speak to my heart so clearly, "You are beautiful because I have made you that way. And you cannot dismiss that." My mind froze. I could not find a reason to dismiss His words. I knew that He spoke truth. He cannot lie. The weight of His words were so precious and sobering that I fell to my knees right where I was, crying. Grateful tears. Thankful that truth was finally penetrating my heart.

This work in my heart continued as I read Captivating (by John and Stasi Eldredge). I began to see how women are uniquely created to reflect God's beauty in this earth. My beauty is not something I should be ashamed of or try to hide. I have struggled with this for years. After all, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain", right? I didn't want to believe that there is anything of beauty in me. The lie that says I am not enough was easier to believe. Growing up in the church, I have heard "You are created in God's image!" until I thought I might puke if someone repeated that tired phrase to me again. That is, until I heard it from my Heavenly Fathers own mouth;
"My Dear Child, you admire the beauty of the sunsets that I paint. Yet do you ever stop to realize that you are more beautiful than these? Because I created you in My image. Am I not more beautiful than a sunset? Who are you to say that my beauty is not in you?" 
My Father knows my heart better than anyone else. He knows that sunsets take my breath away, mountains make me stand in awe, oceans strike me speechless with their thundering. God showed me that in the same way that I marvel at His creation in the earth, He marvels at me because I am a reflection of Him. He is pleased with what He sees. For the first time in my life I understand how He sees me. And I am learning to finally see myself through His eyes. I am learning to embrace and even celebrate the beauty that He's bestowed on me. Not for my own sake, or my own pride. But because I know that I represent the beauty of my Heavenly Father in the earth.

I was ashamed. He called me Beautiful.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Wonder

I had another post in the works, but this song started playing from a new album I just downloaded by Tara-Leigh Cobble. I decided to share this instead.

Sometimes I wonder how much He knew
Of all the things His love would put Him through
Did He ever pass a tree along His way
and know it was the very tree He'd die upon some day?

And if He did, did His heart break?
Every time He passed it on the street
I wonder if He ever thought
that tree I made will be
The death of me

Oh the irony of His carpentry
Did it serve as a reminder of His legacy?
Did He bear it constantly?
Building with the nails that tore His body?

And if He did, did His heart break?
Every time the metal broke the beam?
Well I wonder if He ever thought
A nail like this will be
The death of me

Well I may never know what crossed His mind
But there's one more question hanging on inside
And did He ever think of me?
2,000 years somewhere across the sea

And if He did, did His heart break?
Even though He died so willingly
Well I wonder if He ever thought
My love for her will be
The death of me

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I was just sitting here (in my apartment) trying to come up with a sufficient facebook status to sum up my weekend. To sum up how I feel right now. But I don't want to be one of "those people" who uses social media to list every little thing they did that day, knowing you may not care what I did this weekend. You may not care about the little things that make me happy. I am known for {perhaps} being {overly} sentimental. But I can't just let this pass me by without memorializing it somehow. I feel contentment. Better yet, I feel blessed. So allow me to count the blessings that have touched my heart this weekend.

My right eye almost closes when I really smile.
  • Balloons, helium, and the various forms of giggling they produce
  • Bright blue birthday cake (Yes, the cake itself was dyed blue!)
  • Roller skating
  • Captivating - this book is challenging me in so many ways
  • Hugs and love from my 8 year old niece
  • Having the title "my Bekah-wekah" bestowed on me in lieu of "Aunt Bekah"
  • Holding the hand of "my 'Mara-Beara" in the grocery store (she really is the sweetest thing EVER)
  • Long talks with friends and sisters
  • Slow, rainy car rides that give me plenty of time to think, pray and worship
  • Technology, allowing me to talk to my best friend every day, despite her being several countries away
  • Naps
  • Rainy long weekends
  • Remembering that this weekend marks 8 years of fellowship with the church body I am a part of
I love the little things. I love that God made me to love the little things. I love seeing Him in them. My heart sighs with contentment on nights like this. I feel His peace washing over me, and I just want to pour gratitude back to Him for all these things so freely given, so grossly undeserved.

"O GOD, My heart is steadfast. 
I will sing and give praise..." 
~Psalm 108:1

Friday, August 26, 2011

Open Letter to Amber

Amber is on a cruise with her husband this week. I wrote her this email last night, and decided that it was too important not to share. Transformation is becoming tangible. 

I am sitting on the floor of my living room in front of our box fan, cooling off. As I write this I have no idea where you are (I mean, a hurricane is sort of bearing down on the Bahamas right now so I would hope and pray you are not there!) and I have no idea when you'll get this.

Let me start off by saying that I have missed you so much this week. For so many reasons. I've wanted to call you up so many times this week and it makes me sad that I can't. But there must be a reason for that because this forces me to write down what is taking place in my body. I want to record these things and never forget how this feels.

My friend and co-worker, Carnisha, started a blog this week called and let me tell you, it is AWESOME! She is on a journey to lose over 70lbs, and has lost over 35 of it in the last year or so. Amazing. I am so proud of her. This blog is chronicling her quest to lose the rest of the weight by January of 2012. She has inspired me. Tuesday she texted me saying that she was thinking about doing 2 workouts that day and I told her, "Go for it! You're a machine." She credited me that night (on twitter) with being responsible for motivating her. As a result, I was motivated and downloaded the "Couch to 5k" app on my phone. This is a 9 week program that eases you into it through walking/jogging intervals. They are 20-30 minute workouts 3 times a week. SO doable. It was 10pm when I downloaded the app but I was determined to start that night.

The first week starts with 60 second spurts of running alternating 90 seconds of walking. I got to the last cycle of running (with Jordan walking/race-walking nearby) and told Jordan, "I can't do it. This last one. I can't do it." My back was seizing with muscle cramps from lack of proper oxygen. My legs were shaking. I thought I was done. But Jordan looked back at me and gently encouraged, "You can do it Bekah. It's 60 seconds. Just push through it." So... I took those words to heart... and, I did it! It took every bit of willpower in me. I pushed out the last 60 seconds with the last chorus of "God is Enough" in my ears (thank you Bebo for introducing me to Lecrae). It was precisely what I needed in that moment. I was elated when I finished. It felt amazing.

And you know what? I just did it again. I hit that "wall" on the second to last circuit. I didn't think I could finish. I was doubling over from the cramps in my back. But I pushed through, with my muscles literally trembling. And the last one was easier. When I was finished I just left my headphones in and started praying and praising God out loud, thanking Him for the strength that he has given me to do this. Thanking Him that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and my body was built to do this. I have been the stubborn one all these years. I have been the one who has refused to make my body do what it was created to. The strength was there all the time, I just had to reach out and grasp it. I can do this, through Christ who strengthens me. This realization literally made me dance in the street. I might have lifted my hands in worship. I might have turned a circle or two. I might have concluded that by taking off in a sprint to the end of the road, simply because I can. I am 22 years old and I have been given a body that is capable of running, because of HIM. And I love Him, Amber. I am in love with the Person who created the veins running through my body taking blood, oxygen and nutrients to every inch of me. I love the One who created the organs that cause me to sweat, crafted my lungs to breathe, shaped my muscles to move. I love that He created chemicals in my brain to release after exercise, giving me this unbelievable, overjoyed feeling and emotion. Everything inside of me points to the wonder of who He is.

I hope you're having a wonderful and relaxing week and that your vacation hasn't been rudely interrupted because of the storm. I miss you, and I love you, and I look forward to sitting down to talk with you when you return.

Bekah Hope

Have you ever experienced this when exercising? Do you have any advice for me as I embark on this new adventure?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh, How I Love Jesus

I was killing time in Baton Rouge today, so I stopped in on my mom at work. She works at a retirement center as a Registered Nurse. My mother has always loved working with the elderly. And I've always enjoyed visiting the nursing homes she's worked at, getting to meet her "favorites". My mom has an eye for picking out the "characters" among a group of people. In our family we would say they are "Such a person, such a person." 

A few weeks ago Momma was telling us about one "Such a person" at the retirement center, Ms. Lassiter*. Ms. Lassiter loves to sing in the hallways - loudly and often. And she often picks a favorite tune, singing it over and over again, much to the chagrin of the other wheelchair bound patients within earshot. I heard Ms. Lassiter today before I met her. I was sitting across from my mom in her office near the nurses station when a faint voice that would rarely be classified as "singing" came from the hallway.

Oh, how I love Jesus..

Her voice was timid in that first line.

Oh, how I love Jesus..

She gained confidence with the second line, putting the emphasis in the perfect place of Jesus' name.

Ooh, how I love Jesus..

The strains of her voice were high pitched, and shook as though her vocal chords were seized by Parkinsons.

Because He first loved me!

Ms. Lassiter croaked out the last line with such conviction, tears sprang to my eyes. My mother got up from her desk and led me into the hallway to be introduced. I could only grin as I laid eyes on this frail, shriveled woman who looked well over 90 years old. "This is my daughter, Bekah, Ms. Lassiter. You just blessed her heart with your song!" I looked into her clouded eyes, not sure she could see me, so I took her hand and said, "Nice to meet you! I loved it!" She grinned up at me and exclaimed, "I love to sing! I just love to sing! So whenever I feel led to sing, I just let it out! I don't care who hears me!" I assured her that I loved to hear her song, and our Lord loves to hear it too.

My mother soon had to answer a phone call, so I made my exit shortly thereafter in order to not be a hindrance. Ms. Lassiter wasn't much to listen to. If she'd been singing almost anything else, I might have been tempted to giggle a bit. But instead I found myself crying as I drove away. All I could think of was the scripture saying, "The Lord inhabits the praises of His people." no matter how humble those praises are. I know that my Heavenly Father took great delight in the unashamed, absolutely abandoned praise of His child in the hallway of that retirement home. I like to think He let me in on a little bit of His delight. And He showed me that this is how He desires all of His children to love Him - with abandon - because He first loved us.

I'm not sure if I entertained any angels today, but I know that an angel entertained me.

*not her actual name

Friday, August 12, 2011

Changed Mind. Changed Body.

I've debated over whether I should say anything more about my weight loss journey here. But after I gutted myself last time I suppose I have nothing left to be ashamed of. I am now over 25 pounds lighter than when I began. I don't want this to be about me though. Accolades make me uncomfortable. I'm not looking for a pat on the back from anyone. Rather, I want to use this small milestone to acknowledge the people in my life who have supported me and loved me through this process. I haven't made it easy.

It comes as no surprise to those who know me when I say that I am by nature very headstrong. You will not easily convince me to do something I don't want to do. But through the admonishment of my friends and the grace of God, that is changing.

I have a couple of very special friends who are in this endeavor with me; my sister Jordan and friend Amber. In the beginning - truthfully the first 3 months - they all but dragged me along as we learned to eat healthier and work out. While they swapped stories of success or failure, I sat silently sulking and just praying for the conversation to be over. I said before that I wanted diet in secret. So the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it. What I failed to realize is that my silence turned me into a leech. While they were talking things out they were provoking each other to love and good works. They were encouraging me... and I was sucking life from them while giving nothing back. These girls fleshed this out with me - with persistence.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend." (Proverbs 27:6) I know this saying to be true. I found myself standing in my bedroom talking with Amber and Jordan one Sunday a few months ago. We didn't have a typical house church meeting - the Holy Spirit had ideas of His own that morning. These faithful women gently and cautiously confronted me in my stubbornness and sulking attitude. It was not easy to hear. I looked in the mirror that day. Not literally - I was all too familiar and unsatisfied with my physical reflection. I saw my reflection in an altogether different way - through their eyes. And it wasn't pretty.

I'd grudgingly made the outward changes necessary. I followed our meal plans. I exercised (when I felt like it). I thought that was enough. But my attitude stank. Through the faithfulness of these young women I saw Jesus Christ, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." While I was being stubborn and selfish, they encouraged me, hoping Christ in me. They extended mercy when I'd done nothing to earn it, and showed me the grace to change. The faithful wounds inflicted that day prompted the first fruits of repentance growing in me. I would not be where I am today if not for their continual support and encouragement. They have forgiven much.

Each of us have charm necklaces that are telling the story of our journey. A pearl marks the beginning, and an initial pendant marks the loss of the first 10 pounds. The third pendant is a post with the word "metanoia" inscribed into it. It's the Greek word for "repentance", meaning change the way you think. This marks the loss of 20 pounds. And it's been a significant reminder to me that my mind is changing in the way that I approach food and exercise. This is not a "lose-weight-quick" scheme. This is a lifestyle change. There are permanent changes happening in my heart, mind, and body through this process. I no longer crave foods that aren't good for me. My body is being conditioned to crave movement and action. This may sound crazy but I've grown to love feeling sore after I've really pushed myself working out. I crave that feeling! My mind has changed for good. Repentance has taken place by the grace of God and I am amazed.

1 Timothy 4:8 says this, "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that is now and of that which is to come."

This rings to true to me. It's my experience that God had to change the way I think, transforming my mind, before my body - my flesh - followed suit. And that is what is important. Because my body will one day give out. There will come a day when I'm no longer able to do the things I'm capable of now. But the lessons I have learned in this - the relationships that I have gained - are of far more profit than my physical body changing. I've entered a whole new level of friendship with Jordan and Amber. Jordan is my sister, and I've known Amber for 8 years, but despite that our hearts have been knit together in ways we couldn't have imagined when we took the first step in this journey. This has proven to me that godliness is profitable for all things - especially my relationships. I am so grateful for their faithfulness to me, their patience, and the love that is continually being poured out. "By this all  will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

So, thank you, Amber and Jordan. I know you are His. 

Monday, August 8, 2011


I've had a completely different post written out for almost a week now. But I left my notebook at work and it's been too long since I've written anything here so I'm just going to write this out. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm whining...

One of the things that I've learned about myself lately is that I work well under a certain amount of stress at work. Nothing motivates me to get something done quickly and efficiently like a deadline. It's a good kind of stress. I leave work feeling accomplished and satisfied - and I leave the stress there. Huge difference from my old job.

Revenue (previous job) made me anxious and stressed all the time. I would wake up in the morning with a sore mouth because I was grinding my teeth at night from stress. No matter how hard I tried, I was never measuring up. Even when I was the one setting the standard - I wasn't able to meet it, because they always expected more (this sounds like an exaggeration - it's not). When interviewing for my current job one of the questions the Managers asked me was, "What was a stressful situation at your job and how did you handle it?" I thought for a moment before replying, "Well, it's always stressful at Revenue, regardless of the tax season. There's always too much work and not enough people to do it. So we just have to laugh at ourselves and try to stay positive in order to cope!" Sadly, I considered that interview one of the worst I'd ever done. I thought I bombed it. And I cried the entire way home because I didn't realize how stressed-out I was until they asked me that question. I wanted out after over 3 years at Revenue. But God knew what He was doing. He took care of me, and by some miracle I landed the job that I'm in now. I love the people I work for.

If I face any amount of stress now it's because I'm being challenged and stretched in areas I've never been before. I'm learning things that are completely new - the hard way: trial and error. But it's great. Because I'm good at it, despite the bumps in the road. For example; today was really hard. For the first time in over 16 months that I've worked there I went into overtime because of a work-related issue we were experiencing. I almost fell apart for a few minutes. We had a problem that I didn't understand. I'd done everything I knew to do - correctly - and still things weren't working right, causing some major malfunctions further down the line for other people. But between me and IT, we got it figured out and repaired (turns out my computer is one of only a few in the building with Windows 7, and it's got some crazy kinks to iron out). All will be well. I left this afternoon with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

I don't really have a point to this, other than the fact that God is proving Himself faithful to me. This area of my life is changing. Stress is no longer just something to cope with - it's something I'm learning to thrive under. And that's only by the grace of God.

Writing this out helps a little too... 

How do you handle stress?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Formulas and Faith

I don't enjoy math. In high school I memorized formulas long enough to pass the test and promptly forgot them. But I've found myself looking for formulas in my walk with God.When I approach a problem or have a question I want God to give me steps A + B + C that will equal a calculated result.

For example: as a teenager I craved an abiding, constant relationship with the Lord. And in my mind, the way to get that was this:
read bible + pray more - sin = ABIDE
But the reality of an abiding relationship with the Father is so much simpler than that. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that we shouldn't read God's word, pray and resist temptation to sin. But those works alone do not achieve the end I desired. For years I tried to turn my faith into works and it got me nowhere. I thought, "If I only do these things more I will be the kind of Christian I want to be." I do... I will... I want... My motivation was myself. My trust, and ultimate disappointment, was in my own ability.

There is no formula for abiding in Christ. The relationship I have with Him now is not the result of anything I have done. I can't point to a certain time when a switch flipped and I "got it". All I know is that I grew desperate for Him. I stopped trying to figure out with my head how to walk with Him, and I just started seeking - unscripted. I cried out from the depths of me, humbling myself and coming to Him broken. And somewhere in that He met me. I can't point to one thing I said or did. I didn't "pray enough", "read enough", or "stop sinning" before He met me. It was all Him. I can't take any credit.. and now.. my desire to read the word, pray and resist temptation flows out of my relationship with Him.

If you've been a Christian for any length of time you know the agony of trying to "figure out Gods will" through formulas and plans. We want to make the decisions that please Him, so we pray, we fast, we wait, we lay out the fleece for His clear direction. There have been times in my life this process has paralyzed me with fear of stepping out of His will. We want the "audible voice" or the "handwriting on the wall". And sometimes He is gracious. He gives it. Sometimes "the formula" works (think of Gideon). But sometimes I think the Lord lets us have what we want and redeems it, for the glory of His name.

I've been reading in 1 Samuel lately where the nation of Israel asked the prophet Samuel for a king. They were tired of being ruled by judges and through prophets. This grieved the heart of Samuel but the Lord told him to give the people what they wanted. And we all know the end of the story. The people got Saul (who was good when he obeyed God), then they got David - the man after Gods heart. And eventually Solomon - the wisest king the earth has ever known. Gods name was made famous through the reign of these kings, and many after them. As long as a king submitted himself to the Lord, God got the glory due Him.

Gods "ideal plan" was to rule Israel himself through judges and prophets. But He gave the nation their king. And He redeemed them. During that time He made the nation of Israel a banner of His faithfulness. His Son came from the lineage of kings that were established then. I don't think anyone could say that this plan was "bad". If there was a "formula" in this situation for "the perfect will of God" the nation of Israel didn't follow it. But still God was glorified as long as the nation and its king submitted to Him. Does He ask any more of us?

I think I can say the same thing about my life. There have been times that I moved ahead and made decisions that may not have been "Gods perfect will" but they were not "bad" inherently. I cannot say I regret these things because He has so beautifully redeemed me. So I'm going to stop looking for formulas. I need to remember that His ways are not my ways. Despite my disdain for math, "my way" is to find the formula, to lay out the plan, to make lists and stay organized. But His ways are higher. I'm learning to trust Him. Sometimes that will mean He lays out His plan clearly. And sometimes it means I step out blindly, with only His light to illuminate each step of faith as I take it. I know the voice of my Shepherd and I can trust Him to guide me, even when I have no idea where I'm going. I don't have to know every step before I take it. And I've come to find that's okay.

I know I'm not the only one. Do you look for formulas?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Removing the Veil

I have another post in the works that I'll be putting up in the next few days. But this quote has been pinging around in my heart ever since someone shared it with me a couple days ago. I want to put it here if only to be able to easily reference it later. 

Let us remember that when we talk of the rendering of the veil we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant, but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us, to make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free... The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for the joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the presence of the living God.
- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Removing the Veil

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beauty from Ashes

When I decided to publish my glass heart story I thought it would be easy because I am so far removed from the events that inspired it. And I've told it to countless young women in ministry situations. But the truth is that I hesitated this time. Because while this story illustrates one of the most awe-inspiring works God has done in me to date, it is still deeply personal.

The Glass Heart parallels the story of my first broken heart. I gave my heart away to the first frog that crossed my path. Gratefully, I didn't have to kiss him to find out that he would never be the prince of my dreams. I walked away from that experience broken and fearful. It took me quite a while to trust the Lord with my heart, and even longer to trust any person.

Even once I learned to trust Him again, I believed that I'd destroyed my innocence forever. I accepted that I would have to live with the scars on my heart - for which I was ultimately responsible. I wasn't resentful about it. In my mind, I was damaged and there was nothing to be done. This was the consequence of my sin. I never expected to know innocence again. I'd made my bed and had to sleep in it.

All of that changed one morning in my high school chemistry class. Sunlight streamed in the window behind me, I sat down, and sighed. When I exhaled a lock of hair that was hanging in my face blew back into place. In that moment a childhood dream was fulfilled. As a little girl who adored "The Little Mermaid" I'd spent hours in front of the mirror attempting to imitate this sigh-hairflip-combo that was Ariel's trademark. I never got it right and resigned myself to never being a princess as a result. I'd completely forgotten about it until my hair serendipitously floated out of my eyes that morning. My excitement was unconstrained! Because that moment represented so much more. My childhood innocence was returned to me, symbolized by that "dream come true". A little wind whispered a truth that echoes in my soul, "The author of all true fairy-tales is writing yours... It can happen."

Let me speak for a moment to the girl, the woman, or even the man who has been broken. Your body, heart, and mind has been shattered. You may believe that you are beyond redemption. You may have resigned yourself to never being whole again. You think you are unworthy of healing and may even think it unnecessary. After all, you've adapted. Learned to live with the scars. But I am here to tell you that Jesus Christ is capable of restoring all things.

I know personally that nothing is so big or small that He cannot heal. I thought my broken heart was such a small matter that He couldn't bother with it. But now I know that if He cares to restore something as "small" as my innocence, He can restore anything. He can heal and bring full restoration, no matter what you think you've ruined. There is no detail He does not care intimately about.

His patience is never ending. He does not force Himself on us. The Lord never pushed me to give him my heart. He waited until I'd surrendered every piece to Him, holding nothing back, before He began His restoring work. Before He can begin healing you must trust Him with every part. His hand transforms. My life - my heart - is tangible evidence of His faithfulness. He has made beauty from the ashes.

A few years ago I purchased a glass heart pendant (pictured above) as a tangible reminder of the redemption of God in my life. It's one of my favorite pieces of jewelry, and I get compliments each time I wear it. I usually accept them with thanks, touch it, and remember how I have been made whole. I can never forget.

Have you ever been broken? Has He made you whole? Tell me your story. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Glass Heart

This is the first of several personal stories that I'll be posting during the next few weeks. They are stories of Gods redemption in my life and I finally feel free to share them. A few of you may be familiar with this one of my Glass heart. I first shared it at a purity banquet several years ago.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a man loved a little girl. He watched over her as she grew and knew every freckle and curl. He was her Guardian, her hero and His presence was enchanting. There were many nights she spent curled up next to Him, learning His stories so well she could repeat them backwards.

It was on such an evening that the man presented a gift to the little girl who was now becoming a young lady. In wonder, she lifted an exquisite, hand-crafted glass heart out of the box. She marveled at its beauty and promised to treasure it close. Several times her Guardian offered to keep it safe for her, but she always laughed Him off, wanting the world to see the beauty in the heart He'd created.

As she grew older, the time spent with her Guardian grew sparse. There were occasional evenings she spent with Him and in those moments He would plead with her to let Him guard the heart, warning of its fragility. But she only held it tighter, dismayed that He would try to take something so precious to her.

It wasn't long until there was some distance between herself and her Guardian. Before she knew what was happening she was swept off her feet by a handsome young man. She was delighted by his exclamations of  her beauty. The young lady was convinced that when she showed him her beautiful glass heart he would admire its value. So, she gave it to him in hope of showing him how much she'd grown to love him. She trusted him to protect it for her.

The handsome young man accepted this gift with all the awe the young lady could've imagined. Dreams of forever began to fill her head. They were happy. For a while. Then, he got a little careless and the glass heart was chipped and cracked, but not ruined. The young man persuaded her that he would be more careful, and though she was disappointed, she let him keep it. But weeks passed and the cracks in the heart grew larger instead of being repaired.

The young lady eventually saw that her handsome young man had no intention of caring for her heart. She made a decision and determined not to be persuaded out of it - she was going to get her heart back and leave. So, she timidly approached the young man who had the delicate heart carelessly shoved into his pocket.
"I want my heart back." She said, while holding out her hand
He tossed it into her palm saying, "Take it. I have no use for this. What did you expect?"
Without responding the young lady closed her hands around the heart, turned and ran - until she could run no longer. She found a hiding place, fell to her knees and wept. Her palms opened to reveal bloody shards piercing them. In her haste to get away the glass heart was shattered in so many pieces. Only the skillful hand of the man who crafted it could make sense of the mess.

After her tears were spent she got up and began the journey back to the home of her Guardian. Her enchantment with the handsome young man had led her far from home. The last thing she wanted to do was show her Guardian the heart, broken as it was. She remembered all of his cautious words and could picture the disappointment in His eyes. On her way back she tried many things to put the heart back together. And some things would work. For a while. And then the heart would break all over again. Still she continued on.

Just when she got to the door of her Guardians home she panicked and concealed the pieces of her heart in her satchel, deciding not to reveal its brokenness. He opened the door and embraced her warmly. The young lady sobbed and muttered apologies for not coming sooner. She was taken in, cleaned up, and given her old room back.

For many days she rested, wondering what to do about the broken heart. The young lady and her Guardian went on daily walks where they talked about all manner of things, but He never asked about it. She knew He was waiting for her to explain. Many weeks went by, becoming months. Months that she couldn't bring herself to show Him the pieces of the once beautiful glass heart.

One evening they sat together watching the sunset in content silence. She sighed and leaned against Him, soaking up the last bit of the suns warmth. As the last rays disappeared on the horizon He leaned down and said close to her ear, "Beloved, it's time." Her heart accelerated and she nodded up at Him, knowing exactly what He meant. The young lady led the way to her room. There she opened a small chest that held the pieces of her heart and slowly laid each one on the desk like a scattered puzzle. They were there a long time while she cried and told Him the story of her broken heart. He looked at her with compassion then collected each piece, wrapping it in a handkerchief and without a word, slipped out the door. She slept peacefully that night, relieved she no longer had to protect the secret of her heart.

The heart was not mentioned and the young lady knew without asking that He would take care of it. Months passed, during which she spent time learning from her Guardian and talking with Him. She grew nourished and healthy. There were occasions when she wondered what became of the broken pieces but she never asked.

The young lady was studying one day when her Guardian came and pulled her aside. With a radiant grin on His face He brought a box from behind His back and held it out to her. She stared, open-mouthed. Slowly she reached into the box and pulled out a glass heart. Not just any glass heart. Her glass heart. It looked identical to the original, only without a chip, crack, or flaw.

As silent, joyful tears slid down her cheeks the young lady knelt before this man and held the heart out to Him saying, "This heart can only ever belong to one person. Its maker. You alone are worthy of its treasure. I love you Jesus."

The End is yet to come...

I told the back-story of this allegory after initially publishing this. You can read it here. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Summer Chronicles

I was recently recounting to a sweet new friend that almost every summer for the past 8 years has marked a move of God in my life. There is always a turning point. Without fail, it's a time of maturing for me. It's interesting how that parallels with creation. Plants come to full maturity each summer before dropping their fruit and leaves in autumn. In the same way, I've come to be expectant of fruit in the summer seasons. Bringing forth fruit is not always the easiest process. Often there has been much painful pruning involved. But each time I find myself transformed - and I know it's worth it. I want to share some of the stories of Gods faithfulness through these seasons...

The summer of 2006 was the first after we transitioned into house churches. We were high on newly discovered relationship - with God and each other. Someone got wind of Andrew Strom's "Personal Revival" message and it spread among us. In our group of friends the wave of personal revival began with Jordan. She had a life-changing revelation of the holiness of God. It soon spread to Lauren - whose testimony is still posted to Andrew Strom's website. Finally, God got a hold of me. I was purged of everything I'd ever known about who God is and how to approach Him. He was no longer this puppy dog in the sky who catered to my every whim. I saw Him in the beauty of holiness and He became more real to me than He'd ever been before.

Sadly, at the end of that summer, one of our best friends walked out of our lives. We went from perpetual sleepovers and endless inside jokes, to nothing at all. In all the growing we did that summer, there was much pruning. Pruning that left scars, but there is fruit in us today as a result. We learned a big lesson in obedience through suffering during that season.

My first summer at a full time job was in 2007. I did data-entry and form corrections every day with headphones on, listening to every Leonard Ravenhill sermon available on the internet. The young girls in the bible study we taught grew tired of my quoting him constantly, I'm sure. God lit a "fire in my bones" that summer. Jordan, Lauren and I practically memorized "The Revival Hymn". One night, when we were supposed to go see a movie together, we got into the car, and started talking about it. Before I could even buckle my seat belt tears poured down my face and all I could hear in my mind was this;

"We haven't spent half an hour with Jesus, but we'll stay two stinking hours in a movie house! And Paul says that's what the world is to me; It's a system of corruption and rottenness and vileness. It's anti-Christ from the word go!... Is the world crucified to you tonight? Or does is fascinate you?"
When I voiced what was going through my mind, Jordan and Lauren looked at one another and immediately said, "Me too!!" That night became the first of many prayer meetings we had that summer. It was during one of those prayer meetings that God told me to take off my purity ring for good. But that's a story for another time.

In the 2008 the growing and maturing was a lot more practical and tangible. That summer Jordan and I ended up moving out of my parents house together. We lived with a gracious single woman in the church who opened her 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment to us for very low rent. This was a fresh start for us. It held a lot of new challenges that taught us to rely more heavily on the Lord for our needs. He proved Himself faithful, as always.

Relationships were the primary source of change for me in 2009. My relationship to my parents was in the process of being re-defined, despite living apart from them for a year. One of the most profound changes was that our best friend, Lauren, was imminently moving away to college. She was dating Blake. There was a whole new dynamic to our relationships. God dealt with me personally a lot that summer. He put to rest some things that'd haunted me too long.

Last summer followed a spring that we'd spent in intercessory prayer. Beginning in March we met every week to seek God and pray that He would move in our lives and mold us to be more like Him. We prayed fervently for friends who were faltering. We prayed for renewed fire in ourselves. And that summer, God answered. Friends transformed before our eyes. I really believe the Lord mercifully poured out His spirit on us. We sought to hear His voice, and He spoke - through us. None of us had operated in the gifts of the Spirit with any regularity for years. Last summer God taught us to use the gifts again, with words of wisdom, knowledge and prophecy. Church function as laid out in 1 Corinthians 14:22-26 was tangible in our meetings. Peoples hearts were laid bare, causing them to cry out to God. I learned to hear the voice of the Shepherd again, in a completely new way than I'd previously learned it. In years before He had to set my heart racing to get my attention. This time I learned to hear Him in the still, quiet voice, and to act - immediately - on what He was telling me to do or say. He always confirmed what He'd spoken every time I stepped out in faith. And my faith grew by leaps and bounds.

As I've been reflecting on past summers, I'm looking forward to this one. Already a month in, God is moving and shaking so much in me. I feel as though I've been having a crisis of faith - questioning things in myself that I've never questioned before. Why do I believe what I do? Where do my values come from? Are they based on the word of God? What are my convictions, apart from what I've always been associated with?

I admit, as far as my core values and convictions go, not a whole lot has changed. What has changed is that my weak knees are being strengthened. I'm becoming grounded where before I was easily thrown off balance by others opinions of me. I have no idea what the rest of this summer holds, but I know there is a reason I've being firmly planted on the rock of my salvation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Than Just a Name

Those who know me in person know that "Rebekah" is not the name I go by. If there is some chance that I am introduced as "Rebekah" I will probably shake your hand, smile and say, "Please, call me Bekah." All of my email signatures and social media bear the shortened version of my name.

"Rebekah" is a name I have associated with being in trouble most of my life. My parents only used it when I was being severely reprimanded. I vividly recall flushing with dread every time they called "Rebekah Hope!" into the backyard. I would run down the mental list of mischief I'd been in, wondering which fiasco I'd be answering for this time. This is a habit I carried with me into adult life, growing anxious each time a teacher or supervisor used my given name.

I hated being called "Rebekah" all through middle school and high school. The guys in my classes quickly discovered this and taunted me relentlessly. There were two Rebekahs in my small high school. Since we had many of the same classes, it was decided early on that she would go by "Rebecca" and I was "Bekah". If someone slipped up and used my given name, I would rarely acknowledge them because I assumed they were addressing the other girl.

Last October, when I started this blog, I was wrestling with God. Earlier in the year I'd spent some time allowing myself to be courted by a guy with whom it ended up not working out. But in the midst of that the Lord stirred up dreams in me that I thought were dead. I was angry because I felt like He dangled something in front of me only to snatch it away. In the midst of expressing this to Him one afternoon, He spoke to me.

"You are not the first to get a promise from me only to see it unfulfilled within your timeline. I promised Abram and Sarai a child - and they waited, in faith, for the promise to be fulfilled. While they waited, I changed their names. As I am changing yours. It is no accident that your name is Rebekah Hope. You will no longer associate that name with anger, trouble, and anxiety. In the book of Genesis Rebekah was found as a wife through her service. You will be found serving me. Do not sit idle. Pour yourself into serving the least of these. Rebekah Hope, you have been so named for a reason. Hope in me. Serve me forever. Then it will no longer matter how long it takes to be found."
 I was - and still am - floored each time I read that. Has God really given me a promise and changed my name? I'm learning to quell my anxieties when I hear the name "Rebekah". And I'm learning to believe the promise He gave me even when it seems so unlikely.

I gave my blog this title as an act of faith. This is a daily reminder of how God has spoken over my life and a testament of His faithfulness to me. It's more than just my name.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

I've been doing a lot of blog reading lately, which has me thinking about how I got here, and why I'm writing. Text has always been the medium where I've been most comfortable. I started writing at 11 or 12, shortly after my dad drilled grammar rules into my head through many tearful home-school sessions. After memorizing 436 proofreading symbols, I finally learned to love words.

My first online platform was "Teen-Open-Diary". Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. This was before MySpace was on anyone's radar. I created an "anonymous" profile, which I promptly emailed to my closest friends, and I began to write with gusto. I filled page after page of internet content with my every angst-filled teenage thought. "Relationship" trials, school drama, prayers, tears, depression. I treated that platform like my personal diary - completely uncensored as though no one was reading it. I cringe now, remembering that I thrived off of the drama my "honesty" created. Eventually the open-diary network was hacked one too many times and shut down, gratefully leaving me with only a few entries in my hardback journal as a reminder of the emotion-crazed pre-teen I was.

Shortly thereafter I joined a new youth group and found out that - wait - there are some deep, dark thoughts that only a few should know about? And the opposite sex shouldn't be on that list (especially at 15)? So, I stopped writing in all public forums and began to write for myself. I internalized everything that year, filling two journals and a sketchbook. I wrote pages of letters that I never sent, and some that I did. In that year I laid aside several destructive relationships and began to learn to relate to real people in real ways. This was a process. I can't tell you how many hours I wasted trying to speak my heart only to give up and write it down, passing it to the person across from me. Writing became a form of bondage for me.

Because this continued to be a problem, someone challenged me to give it up for a season and told me that, "It's out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, not the pen writes." I laid my pen down and put the journals aside. That year I learned to talk. I learned to voice my heart. I was no longer bound to the pen. But I still didn't trust it. I was afraid that in this medium where I felt so comfortable I would say too much.

I tried for a while to write anonymously through Xanga, but I gave up after 5 entries the first time I crossed the line of "too personal" - even though no one was reading it. Then my friends jumped on the blogger bandwagon. I quickly found where I was safe - writing exclusively about the things the Lord was teaching me. I spoke only of struggles in the past-tense, from the side of victory. Prudence dictated that I keep things on a surface level while I learned to safely relate to the opposite sex, both virtually and physically. Eventually it came naturally - at least in person. But when it comes to writing, I have danced on eggshells for years, careful not to say anything that might later incriminate me.

I've realized that as a 22 year old young woman I can trust myself with a pen again. With some maturity has come discernment, proven in the fact that the hand-written version of this (I'm a little old-fashioned that way) has sentences with lines through them that won't end up in my final draft.

I want to tell my stories - both past and present. To testify of what I have been saved from, now safely removed from who I used to be. Maybe by removing the vague cloud that has covered my writing, I'll find out that I am not alone. And maybe... you will too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

To the Fathers

This is a testimony that I wrote and gave at a Father-Daughter banquet early last year. I think it is appropriate to honor my Father right now by sharing this. May it be an exhortation and encouragement to you as well.

The photo to the left of my sister Jordan and Poppie was taken a couple of years ago on the Baton Rouge barge dock downtown. I had it printed and framed for Fathers day that year.

Good evening -
I don’t think there’s anyone here that doesn’t know my sister, myself and my Father – or "Poppie" – as many of you affectionately refer to him. What some of you may not know is that I am the 5th of 6 daughters – 6 daughters who were raised in a ONE bathroom house. I think it would be fair to say that my Daddy has had his share of experience raising girls!

I want to testify tonight about the difference that the words of a Father can make to his daughter. Right now you are "the man" in your little girls’ life. I can only imagine the great weight of responsibility that comes with parenthood. But I want to encourage you to take advantage of this small window of opportunity that’s been given to you to endear yourself to your little girls.

My Father isn't perfect, and I don’t believe he would have me give you that impression. But I want to share with you some of the things he has done, raising us, that have made a lasting impact on my life. My sister and I, like most little girls, loved to play dress up. We spent hours in our room playing with makeup, veils, crowns and frou-frou dresses. When we dressed up we would wait in the front yard for Poppie to get home from work so that we could show off our handiwork. We were rarely disappointed. He would tell us how beautiful we were - even if we had mascara on our noses or lipstick out of line. It didn't matter that our dresses were 5 sizes too big and stained with kool-aid. In this way he earned our constant affection and devotion. We knew we were pretty because “Poppie said so!” and he was the final word.

As we grew older the dress-up sessions were a little more serious. We came home from shopping excursions with Momma to show off our purchases. No matter what he was doing Poppie would pause to look at all the new things and give his approval. But it never really mattered what we wore. We always knew that we were beautiful - inside and out- because He took every opportunity to tell us so. Countless times he spontaneously looked at one or both of us and said something like, “I am so blessed to have such pretty girls who love Jesus SO much.”

The consistent affirmation we received has had lasting repercussions as we’re entering adult life. Today, as a young woman who has been taught to be modest in all things - protecting the eyes of the young men around me - I feel confident that I can go unashamed to my father after purchasing something and ask, “Hey Pop, is this immodest? Do you see any reason that I should return it?” And I trust that he will give me an honest answer, looking out for my best interest, and helping me guard my virtue. I have learned to value his opinion first as my father, but also as a man.

It should be no surprise that in our culture media plays a part in shaping the image that young girls strive to achieve. But I’m here to tell you that fathers have a vital role in shaping who their daughters aspire to be. It’s almost cliché to say this; Your words as a father hold the power of life and death. I cannot explain why I want it, and I can't get rid of the desire for my Fathers approval. As a child, I craved his laughter. I would put on the most ridiculous antics and tell him endless knock-knock jokes just to know that I put a genuine smile on his face. Conversely, because I crave his approval, his criticism or correction strikes deeper than almost anyone else's. To this day there a few things that humble me as much as the stern voice of my Father. Without even knowing or meaning to, a Father can inflict lasting wounds on his daughter through harsh criticism - especially of her appearance. But the knowledge that her father is proud of her, that he values her, no matter how many opportunities she's given him for disappointment, can be the core of confidence for a girl of any age.

Let me give you an example. I was not the most popular girl in middle school. I was awkward around boys, I had frizzy hair – and I was the “goody-two-shoes”. I particularly remember one day that my dad dropped me off at school. He joined hands with me, praying briefly as he always did before letting me go. As soon as he looked up at me he tugged on one of my pigtail braids and said, “I love it when you wear your hair like this. It makes me feel like you’re still my little girl who isn’t growing up too fast.” That simple statement made my day! I walked through the gates of the school grinning from ear to ear and joined my friends. The first thing one of the boys said to me was “Why do you wear your hair like that?? It looks so stupid. You look like a little farm girl.” I couldn’t have cared less. What that silly boy thought about me paled in comparison to the glowing approval I’d just received from my Father. And those boys knew it. As a result they were terrified of my "precious Poppie”, who despite his 6'4" frame, is a big teddy bear. They knew he had my heart. He spoke words of encouragement and affirmation and without even knowing it my Father protected me from seeking the attention of other boys. He spared me so much heartache and insecurity through his uplifting words.

I look back and I know that because I was secure in my fathers’ love and affection, I didn’t need the affection of any other boy. I didn’t go seeking the attention that so many girls do – and they come back with broken hearts that they're too ashamed of to turn to their Fathers. Please - take every opportunity to share with your daughters how beautiful each of them are. Be sparing and thoughtful with criticism. I know for some of you this may not be easy. The Word of God says that “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” It is vital that your daughters hear your heart for them. It can, and it will make a lasting impact on how they view themselves for the rest of their lives. Because if you don’t say the things she needs to hear from a man, then she will find someone else who will...

Allow me to note that your little girl will never grow tired of hearing your heart. Just last week I got a voicemail from my Poppie. He was just calling to tell me – with tears choking his voice – how much he cherishes me and how proud he is of the godly woman I have become. He left a similar message on Jordans phone. I have no idea what prompted this, but it made me feel incredibly cherished. As a single young lady without a date in sight, I still need to hear those words from my Father.

I want to take this opportunity to say Thank You to my Poppie. Thank you, for your fervent prayers, and your constant encouragement that has helped me become a woman who is growing in character. I love you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Fool in Boasting

I didn't want to write this, much less look at it. I don't want to look at why I do what I do because I'm ashamed to admit it - to myself or anyone else. But I would rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It's hard to describe how badly I craved doughnuts and coffee this morning. I talked myself into it 10 times in a matter of 5 minutes. I reasoned in my mind, saying I'd limit the amount. I wanted to comfort myself with food - and I justified this saying, "It's not like I want to binge. I just want one or two. How much could that really hurt me?" One or two doughnuts in the whole scheme may not "hurt". But the reason I want them does.

Our culture says it's okay to turn to food when you're upset or stressed. Women from every generation are led to believe that this is "glamorous". How many chick-flicks include a scene where a usually thin, gorgeous girl is drowning her sorrows in a bucket of ice cream or box of chocolates? If they put a large woman in that role I have to wonder how "cute" would it be? Yet our society accepts this. Celebrates it.

What began as imitation in early years, has become habit for me. I turn to food to comfort myself. Why? I have this idea that I need to satisfy a craving. When really it's a soul hunger that needs satisfying. I have programmed my mind to think that food and fleshly satisfaction will make the ache go away. When did I start mistaking heartache for hunger pains?

The easy thing would be to blame "Legally Blonde" for my eating habits. Or to point my finger at Ronald McDonald for luring me underneath those double arches as a child. But ultimately the responsibility lies with me. Gluttony is one of American Christianity's most ignored sins. We like to believe that "The lust of the flesh" (1 John 2:15-16) refers to only the sexual sort. Lust is defined as a desire, longing, or craving. Few people would broadcast their craving for sex by openly seeking a brothel and publicly carrying out sexual acts. Yet Christians all over America herd into the Golden Corral each Sunday seeking to indulge - extravagantly - their craving for food. The definition of lust doesn't change with the object it is set upon. Lust for food is no less condemning than lust for sex. And you don't have to be overweight to be a glutton. This is a subject not often discussed and never addressed in most Christian circles. We are afraid to step on toes. Toes we can't even see for our bellies.

There is so much shame in the sin of gluttony - a shame I know too well. Over the years I have dieted in secret. I never wanted to admit that I was trying to lose weight because I'd simultaneously be admitting that I have a weight problem. I have dieted in darkness so that if I fail, no one has to know. But I am tired of hiding in darkness, because the fact is I'm not hiding from anyone. The evidence of my wrong thinking is plastered all over my stomach, thighs, and arms.

The word of God instructs us to confess our sins one to another that we might be healed. This is my confession. I declare this is the day of salvation. I will be be healed through repentance - changing the way that I think about food and exercise. In changing the way that I think, I will change the way that I act, how I eat, and how I move.

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the sure mercies of David... Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man His thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" ~ Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Ready Soul: Conclusion

I’m sorry this is so late in coming. Jordan and I hit the ground running after we got back from our vacation.
The title for this series comes from a My Utmost for His Highest devotional for April 18th that was so timely. Here are a few excerpts from that devotion:
…Readiness for God means that we are ready to do the tiniest little thing or the great big thing, it makes no difference...When any duty presents itself we hear God's voice as Our Lord heard His Father's voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us as His Father did with Him. He can put us where He likes, in pleasant duties or in mean duties, because the union is that of the Father and Himself. "That they may be one, even as We are one."
Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to get ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready when God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the ready soul, it is ablaze with the presence of God.
It just so happens that the week before we left for Tennessee I’d been praying that the Lord would give me a ready soul. I prayed that God would open my eyes to see His kingdom, His people, and where He wants me to serve. Try to imagine my amazement when I found that prayer answered so specifically, so quickly. God visited us.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I have evidence of Gods’ specific answer to so many prayers – from a single day! When I see this tangible proof of my Heavenly Fathers love for me, I can always feel my faith swelling to new levels. I want to list all the ways He answered prayers, just to summarize for you:
· He rolled away the rain clouds when we asked Him to
· He shielded my vehicle while we were driving in a onslaught of hail – only 5 pieces hit my car as long as we prayed!
· He provided shelter and safety for us during severe, tornado-laden storms
· He paired us with 2 young ladies who are a part of “The Remnant” of His kingdom – out of all the places we could’ve stopped or taken shelter, He orchestrated our every step to be in French Camp, Mississippi
· He provided an opportunity to serve, as unto Him
· Most importantly, He gave us new friends that we’ll never forget
In my opinion this proves that God is intricately involved in even the slightest details of our lives, such as whether or not it rains. He hears the cries of our hearts and longs to show Himself faithful when we trust Him with everything.
Jordan made the point after we returned that if we gave the Lord just one day of our lives, and He turned it upside down for His glory – imagine what He can do with a surrendered life! This is something I need to remember daily. Just before we left for vacation I found out that the State of Louisiana is going to consolidate some State agencies. They have since submitted the bill to the Legislature, and we are waiting to see how this will play out. An estimated 300 employees will be reduced to 150. I have about a 50/50 chance of keeping my job. Yet, I know that regardless of what happens, the Lord will take care of me. My heart is completely at peace about that.
God put me in this job. My first interview here, just over a year ago, was the worst one I’d ever done. I was flustered and unsure, and as a result I cried the whole way home, believing I’d ruined any chance of getting a new job. I am assured my Heavenly Daddy saw my tears that day with a twinkle in His own eye. I’m wondering what He’s thinking now as I’ve been prayerfully considering my future. But one of my favorite things to do is stand back and watch Him prove His faithfulness while I learn to trust Him.
In my life this is not a cliché:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
You can read the more detailed version of Gods faithfulness to us on this trip here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Ready Soul Part V: Here I am

After several minutes exchanging stories, Summer turned and mentioned to Tekoa that her work crew (teenage girls she mentors in an internship job setting) was cancelled due to the storms so she alone had to prepare several rooms for a convention arriving that evening. Tekoa offered her help to strip (take sheets off, empty trash bags) and flip (clean and supply fresh linens, etc) the rooms that were needed at the Camp of the Rising Son. Tekoa's work crew for the thrift store was also cancelled. My ears perked up immediately, and I inquired about their problem, trying not to sound obvious. I knew: This is why we're here. I was inwardly praying, "Lord if this is where you want us and what you want us to do, please let them say yes." I said something to them like, "I don't know if you guys need it or not, but do you want some help? We can make beds, dust, clean toilets, do whatever you need to be
done!" They just sort of looked at us for a few moments, wide eyed. I don't know if they initially took us seriously. But I knew that we were there for the express purpose of lending a hand. We discussed it back and forth with them and they warned us that it wasn't fun work, to which we replied, "We are two of six daughters. We are not afraid of work - our dad made up for not having sons!" Before long we were walking outside - where the rain had stopped - and piling into a van to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

We got a delightful narrated driving tour of the academy campus as we made our way to the camp facilities, thanks to Tekoa. It is this picturesque little campus with a bunch of quaint old houses and buildings. The camp lodge is positioned overlooking Lake Anne with several cabins surrounding it. Our assignment was to prepare several rooms in a guest-house with the girls. After instructing us on how to make a bed with hospital corners (ahem, which I am still incapable of - thank you Jordan - I will never again complain about your insistence in doing this at home!) we set to work for the next several hours. And we had a blast getting to know Tekoa and Summer while we worked! They are truly more kindred spirits than we ever anticipated. After preparing the rooms for the convention attendees, we took a few minutes to play around. The dock over Lake Anne was submerged a few inches due to the excessive rainfall they'd had that day. Summer suggested we get pictures of each other "Walking on Water", so we headed down to the little beach. The clouds were clearing out of the sky and the setting sun was stunning over the water. I snapped pictures while the girls walked out across the water, submerged only to their ankles.

We continued our adventures with Tekoa and Summer by cleaning a boys bathhouse that'd been closed all winter.
Stories were told and we talked as we worked. I can't remember when I've had a more enjoyable afternoon. They ordered dinner for us from the only cafe' in town. We picked up our dinner that Tekoa graciously paid for, then made our way back to her apartment. Can I tell you their roast beef sandwich (on the locally made bread) rivaled anything you'd find in New Orleans? And that's a serious compliment! For the next several hours we hung out talking and sharing our hearts with these girls. Each of us shared various things the Lord has done in our lives, and things He was currently teaching us. I was convicted and encouraged, provoked to love and good works.
With our bellies full, and hearts brimming, they offered us a room in the lodge for the night. We gladly accepted the opportunity to take hot showers and sleep in a bed. Our gratitude even now is unceasing. God provided for our needs so bountifully in those 24 hours. We trusted Him, and he gave us abundantly more than we could ever ask for or imagine. We would've been happy to pitch our tent on the campgrounds that night, but the Lord showed His hand so much mightier than that. He showered us with good gifts, and we must give Him all glory.

Jordan and I both plan on writing about how this affected us on a deeper level spiritually - and how it was a specific answer to specific prayers we'd prayed during the week.