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?