Blessing, Crossroads, Devotional, First Trinity, Youth Ministry

Count the Days…Make them Count

It feels like everywhere I turn lately the same message has been repeated over and over: number the days… get focused… make it all count!

I first realized the theme in a meeting a while back with two of my teammates. One was sharing some new resources she had gotten for families in our congregation through Orange and the Parent Cue app. A tool they suggest for parents is to use a jar filled with marbles to represent the number of weeks left for a child until they finish high school. By taking one marble out at the end of each week and watching the jar empty slowly over time it is a reminder to make the time they have count.

While I am not a parent, I figured out the stats: at that time I had less than 15 weeks left with the seniors in our high school ministry before our Senior Blessing Event around graduation time. Three weeks have already passed since then. Three more marbles gone. We’re down to 12.

A few days after that meeting I found myself listening to a podcast that was titled A Trip Around the Sun. In it Louie Giglio shares the number of days left in this year’s journey as we circle the giant star that lights our days. He challenged those listening to seek God’s wisdom in how to use each moment this year to make it count. As I think about the things I’m already planning for this year I know … it will fly!

This message was echoed in an book by Chip and Joanna Gaines I finished recently and before all of that countless circumstances, conversations, and situations all seem to be echoing the same prayer Moses has in Psalm 90:12…

“Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

There are only 24 hours in each day. 365 days in a year. I’m guessing your life is something like mine in that there always seems to be more on the to-do list than can fit in the time.

Some may think counting the days only adds stress to that scenario, that numbering the moments is scary. In my own life, though, I have found it to actually reduce anxiety and provide focus. When I really see how much time is left, I become more intentional with how I use it. (Case in point: my college students at UB miraculously become more focused as the deadline for a paper approaches.)

As I realized that the weeks I had left with the seniors in our youth group were so few, I prioritized time with them. With each marble I take out of the jar, I thank God for one more week with them. But my intentionality didn’t stop there; I also prioritized time with my juniors, and sophomores, and freshmen. I found renewed passion to focus on the things that really matter and cut out the fluff. Soon there will only be a handful of marbles in their jars as well. I want to spend the weeks well.

It’s true: numbering the days leads to wisdom. It brings clarity showing what is important and what needs to let go of in order to focus on the important. It gets rid of the clutter and frees me to do the exact things God has created and called me to do.

Lord, forgive me for the days I do not invest well. Help me spend each moment with more focus, more purpose, more passion, and more grace. I still have a lot to learn, and that is why my prayer remains: teach me, Jesus, to number my days. Give me a heart of wisdom! Make my days count. Amen!

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Blessing

Messy Sunrises

The home I moved into in January has huge east-facing windows in the living room and dining room which make perfect opportunities to watch some gorgeous sunrises as I get ready for each day.  Something has always bugged me though.  Even this morning I found myself saying that I wish I could go somewhere else nearby to watch a sunrise without all the other “stuff” in the way.  You see, in addition to the gorgeous oranges and reds turning into yellows and eventually simple bright light that can be sighted out my windows, you also see powerlines, a broken fence, a few stores, a busy street full of cars, and parking lot lights across the street.

I reminisce of camp days where the sunrises were framed by nothing but trees, hills, and clouds… perhaps a few deer.  I long for those days where the busyness of life was shut out, at least for those few moments, and God’s glory was astounding and unavoidable.

But after witnessing many sunrises in this house, I’m starting to prefer it this way; it feels more real.

Yes, it’s gorgeous.  Yes, it’s a new day.  Yes, God is here.  Even with the broken fences and distracting powerlines of life.  Things aren’t “picture perfect” but God still longs for His glory in each day to be astounding and unavoidable.  As we travel in our cars on the busy Blvd or do everyday chores like shopping, when things don’t go the way we hope or the “parking lot lights” of culture try to distract from the very radiance of the Son… in all of that, God is here and he is enough.

Sure, gorgeous sunrises in remote countryside are great, but why not celebrate ones like this as well, what a beautiful, consistent reminder of our God who loved us enough to come to earth and wake up to messy sunrises day after day, Who CHOSE all that instead of the picture perfect ones, Who chose that in order to restore us one day to a life filled with perfection.  Let’s praise Him with each new day we have!

“The sun comes up; it’s a new day dawning.
It’s time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes!

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! Oh, my soul!
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before, Oh, my soul!
I’ll worship Your holy name!”
~ Matt Redman – 10,000 Reason

 

Bekah's Heart, Blessing, Family, Joy

24 Years to Celebrate

Dear Doctor,
Do you remember 24 years ago when you told a young couple that their brand new baby girl wouldn’t live more than a couple of hours? Do you remember saying that if she did live that her lungs probably wouldn’t work properly and she’d likely have disabilities and challenges with learning?

Just thought you might want to know that the same girl just used her perfectly healthy lungs to run five miles this morning after using them to sing for about an hour all to celebrate the 24 years of LIFE God has given her before heading off to the awesome job that she got after graduating college with honors last year.

Thanks for not giving up on her when “science” said she had no chance. You see, her God created science … and He created her! He created her for a purpose, part of which she’s still figuring out as she stumbles through each day. But she knows there is one–there must be–because even you were baffled that she made it through ONE night on earth, let alone 8,766. So, thanks again! Thanks for letting God use you to work miracles in that little girl so He can use her to prayerfully do the same for others.

Love,
That Girl 🙂

Blessing

The Lost Art of Snailmail (With a Giveaway)

In our world where condensing life down to 140 character messages sent instantaneously to whomever you want wherever you are is becoming the norm, there is something about snail mail that brings me intense joy.

As I hunt for a favorite pen and search through the card stash to find the one “just right”, I like to imagine the smile on the recipient’s face when a routine trip to the mailbox leads them to discover a brightly colored, hand-addressed envelope in amongst bills, ads, and other generally disliked mail.  I ponder what kind of day they might be having when it eventually arrives and pray that the words I’m writing here today are exactly what they need to hear there then.  Whether it sits on my desk for a few days before getting stamped and sent out, gets caught in the mail delayed by a holiday or somehow makes it their sooner than expected, I pray that it arrives just when a little encouragement is needed.

I truly have always loved sending cards, so when I came across the opportunity to write an (in)spired deals review for some Dayspring cards, I couldn’t turn it down!  Within days of signing up, I received a pack of Simply Marvelous Card Pack plus 3 Simply Marvelous thank you cards and I must say, they are … simply marvelous!

I absolutely the bright colors… not just on the cards, but of the envelopes too.  Some cards were general encouragement “have a great day” kind of cards while others will be used to rejoice in the life God had given my friends as their annual celebrations come around.   Each had unique phrasing which immediately caused me to start thinking about which one would likely get sent to which friend.  I think my favorite in the pack was actually the thank you card (which made it even more exciting that I had received 3 extra of those!) It’s colorful (and glittery!) design and simple sentiments:  “Some people make the world a better place simply by being in it.” (outside) “Thank You.” (inside) make it possible to send this to just about anyone for just about any reason. You could be thanking them for something specific they did in your life, or as the card said, just thanking them for being… them.

While I’m really excited about these cards, that’s not even the coolest part!    Not only did (in)spired deals send me free cards to review, DaySpring also gave me a $20 coupon code for their online store to give away to one of you

Leave a comment on this post sharing a time when you received a piece of “fun” mail to be entered to win!!!  Comments submitted before midnight Thursday will be placed in a random drawing.  On Friday, I’ll announce the winner who can enjoy sending some free cards of their own, or purchase other fun Dayspring items.  (Be sure to include your e-mail address when it asks for it in the comments so I can let you know if you’ve won.)

While the price of sending snailmail may continue to climb, I believe the value does as well. I dare you all to take some time today to send a note of encouragement to a friend, who knows how much it could mean to them!


FTC Disclosure – DaySpring gave me this product for review and all opinions are my own.

Blessing, First Trinity, Internship Highlights, Uncategorized

joyfullyblessed … to be a DCE

After this weekend, all I can say is, wow.  I am still sitting here on Monday night in awe of how blessed I am.

Here is the SHORT version of the list of blessings I wrote in my journal this morning to thank God for:

Thank you God for

  • being covered, literally in prayers and blessings
  • for reminders of new life each day in You as children (and adults) cheered, “Bekah begins anew today. God makes new.”
  • For youth and young adults reading, singing, blessing, praying.
  • For family… my parents physically present, other relatives praying and celebrating from afar.
  • For family… the hugs, congrats, prayers, and support of my NY family.
  • For reassurance again and again that this is exactly where God wants me and excitement to live in that call.
  • For a welcoming staff… and a welcoming church.  (even if I’ve been there a year already).
  • For two awesome DCEs to serve with and learn from.
  • For God creating me to Serve Like No One Else.

AND SO MUCH MORE!

I was planning to write a lot more and add more pictures but wordpress keeps freaking out on me tonight.  So maybe more soon.  You can see more pictures here.

 

Most of all, thank you to everyone to made this weekend so special.  I am so excited to see what God has in store!

 

Bekah's Heart, Blessing, Family, Joy, Random

The August In Between


We often find ourselves talking about our lives in seasons, or stages, or as chapters in a book.

A few weeks ago one phase of life (student) came to an end. This weekend new phase will officially begin (professional).

And here you have… the august in between …

  • A celebration of 31 years of marriage for my amazing parents.
  • Church with the whole family.
  • A night to catch up with a camp friend.
  • A morning at a coffee shop hearing about a friend’s recent trip to Africa.
  • A visit with my might-as-well-be-a-sister (former roommate) and her husband playing games, eating well, and exploring small-town Iowa.
  • Long hours on the road … just me and my Jesus.
  • An afternoon at camp and the kind of friend with whom you could talk for hours even if you haven’ t talked in years. Sharing hearts… the truest parts… sharing laughter … sharing hikes … sharing macaroni and popsicles… sharing life.
  • Another beautiful woman opening her beautiful home … and heart, not for the first time. Catching up. Celebrating together, thanking God for the places to which He has called us to and the people with whom we share life with.
  • Driving into that town… the one that greeted you so warmly for 4 years … and knowing… while it’s good to be back… home is now about 1000 miles east.
  • People… souls… so many… touching my life as they’ve often done in the past… hugs exchanged… meals shared… the sudden, joyful, realization as I speak from my heart, that I really love my job, my home, my life in Buffalo.
  • A beautiful woman I barely knew(yet knew so well), and her daughter, welcoming me with open arms, an open home, and open hearts… inviting me into their world
    of beautiful NE sunsets…

    and reminders of Jesus, the vine… me, the branches….

    and God’s abundance and grace…

    and smiles and swings and pickles and kittens and catapults …

    and homemade icecream with fresh blackberries

    and smiley pancakes….

    and so much more!
  • More meals with beautiful women.
  • 3 days of sister-sister-niece time.
  • A visit with a cousin, her husband, and beautiful baby recently moved back to The Sunflower State
  • a new hobby (sewing on the sewing machine my parents got me for my birthday)
  • 5 wonderful days with my parents… cleaning, garage sale-ing, packing, moving, loving, laughing, sharing, creating, being.
  • fun fortunes the day before leaving KS
    “Travelling to the east will bring you great rewards.”
    “You will always be surrounded by true friends.”
  • Supernatural packing space in the car
  • Seeing a beautiful friend on our way through St. Louis and her making us dinner too!
  • Fun conversations and experiences with dad on the way out.
  • Making it to NY in 2 days and many people ready to help me move in once I got there.
  • The feeling of truly being home… in my apartment… sleeping in my own bed… driving my own car… going to my own job… home. 🙂

There you have it… a small peek into… the August in between.

(more in a previous post here )

Blessing, Crossroads, First Trinity

Holy Ground… and a pretty awesome space too!

Can I just say that the newly renovated basement is probably one of the most amazing things ever?!?  Well, I’m going too:  “The newly renovated basement is one of the most amazing things ever! 🙂

 

Tonight, at Crossroads CONNECT (our weekly Thursday night program for High School students) one of the students, about an hour after we got there just stopped and said something to the effect of, “Wow!  I just realized how cool this space is. We’ve been here for an hour and just looked around and realized that we’re actually meeting here!”

 

It was a neat moment as everyone agreed.

 

Last week at one point, I went down there to work for a while, just because I could.  I was working on a Bible study about Moses and the burning bush.  On my way back upstairs I stopped at the prayer wall.  It’s has a cool design of crosses with 4 different kinds of surfaces to place prayers on the wall… magnetic board, chalkboard, dry erase board, and tack board. 

 

As I read the prayers that had been lifted up there the week before at our grand opening and dedication for it (also Easter Sunday) I suddenly felt the need, like Moses whom I had just been reading about, to take off my shoes.  It is truly holy ground!  Today, I took some pictures of a few of those prayers and thought maybe we could recreate some holy ground right here, on this National Day of Prayer:

 

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So what about you?  What would you write on the prayer wall?  What do you have to be thankful for?  What burdens are you carrying?  Let’s turn the comments section into holy ground as we lift each others needs and praises up in prayer… on this National Day of Prayer and everyday.