What I’m Reading Wednesdays {August 29, 2018}

Over the past few years reading has become a favorite activity. As cliche as it may sound it really does open my mind and heart to worlds outside my own and I love it. I also have found it to open my eyes to myself.

Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger

Both of these are true in the book “Imperfect Courage” that I mentioned in last Wednesday’s post. Wow. This books is blowing me away as it speaks into my life. There are many things I could share, but perhaps the one that currently stands out most is this:

In this book about being courageous, taking risks, and making an impact in the world, Jessica shares that perhaps the most crucial element toward success is community. We are not designed to live in isolation, yet our hearts default to comparison, judgment, self-doubt, fear, and shame.

When I read this quote pictured above about vulnerability, suddenly it all made sense. God had been showing me the truth of these sentences time and time again over the past few years. What a joy to look back and see Him at work.

In my decision to become “mom” for 10 months to a 17-year old from another country, a group of incredible women created space for me to process life vulnerably. A Facebook message feed was filled with empathy, grace, and encouragement as I walked through the single-first-time-mom-of-a-teenager life, wrestled with doubts that came up, struggled with insecurity every step of the way, and did battle with the devil and all his lies.

When I waited for six months wondering if I had cancer, anticipating surgery, and still figure out how my body is adjusting to life missing half of a gland that impacts every major organ in my body, my family, friends, teammates, and even strangers rallied around, covered work tasks, sat in waiting rooms, showed up on tear-filled nights, celebrated good news, provided meals, and so much more.

When I get overwhelmed by ministry life, doubt if God has the right girl for the job, or feel as if the work I put in day after day after day might be in vain, God shows up in communities of fellow DCEs and campus ministry leaders and comments from students congregation members to encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I am so, so thankful for spaces where vulnerability is not only welcomed but expected. In each of those situations though, I couldn’t have been shown the encouragement or empathy I needed if I didn’t take the courage to share. Met there with grace and Hope and love, I do see how God tears down the lies Satan uses to trap our hearts and replaces them with truth that launch us into the bold, crazy, awesome life He has for each of us.

I’m looking forward to continuing through this book and processing what it means for the next season of my life.

Other things I’m reading:

The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb

  • This is an audiobook I finished on 8/25. As someone who always claimed to not love history, I realized in listening to this book that that’s simply not true. I was not good and did not enjoy learning history the way in which it was often taught in schools, but if a teacher would have handed me a book like this I would have eaten up every fact!)
  • Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles
    • I’ve had this one on my shelf at work for over a year at the recommendation of a friend. I’m thankful to finally get to read it and for books where people courageously share their stories.
  • You are Free by Rebekah Lyons
    • This is an ebook I’ve been coming back to here and there for a while. I love it each time I read a section, but find it’s one that takes some processing time, not one to sit down and get through in one shot.
  • How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
    • I missed listening to audiobooks this summer. My default is to have one constantly on hand to listen to in the car or while doing dishes or housework. This summer my mind needed that space away from noise. I’m excited to get back into this habit that allows me to get through typically at least one book a week even if I don’t have time to sit down and read. Looking forward to hearing the brave story of this young woman, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    What I’m Reading Wednesdays – August 22, 2018

    My friend and teammate Sue has been sharing on her blog about each of the books she finishes. As I try to re-enter the blogging world after the summer away for the most part, I thought I could spin off that idea and use Wednesdays (or at least some of them) to share about some of the books I’m currently reading or recently finished. We’ll see how it goes!

    Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (Finished)

    This fun but deep little story was worth the wait at the library. I about just bought it on Amazon but I’m glad I didn’t. This was the perfect old library book (still with a library checkout card pocket) that begged to be enjoyed while curled up in a fuzzy blanket. Throughout it we follow the main character named Much Afraid on her journey of following the Shepherd eventually to the High Places. Despite leading her ways she didn’t expect and coming against her enemies like Bitterness, Resentment time and again, Much Afraid journeys on with her travel companions Sorrow and Suffering. While obviously fiction, there were a few specific parts that God used as neat and necessary reminders for my own journey through life. Definitely worth a read and may find my way back to it again at some point.

    Juba! by Walter Dean Myers (42% read)

    This young adult novel is based on the life of a talented and passionate dancer from the nineteenth century. I’m only a few chapters in but I’m glad I found this one as an audiobook, it’s definitely a fun listen! I’m also thankful for things I’m learning about various cultures, ethnic groups, and art forms, and time periods just by listening. This is what reading is all about, right? One example is that Juba is a young black man living in NYC among mainly immigrant neighbors during a time when the threat of being captured and taken to slavery in the south was a real concern. So many layers of things to learn about and reading Juba makes that process engaging! Looking forward to continuing to listen.

    Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared by Jessica Honegher (Just starting)

    This one I just cracked open last night, so I don’t have much to say about it yet. However, as I begin a new year of ministry, start the process of buying a house, get ready to travel solo to Iceland and the Faroe Islands in October to visit my exchange daughter and a few other things, the concepts of “imperfect courage” and “going scared” seemed appropriate. This sentence from the book description especially caught my attention “But refusing to let fear hinder her goals, Jessica found the necessary (if imperfect) courage she needed along the way–the courage to leave comfort and embrace a life of risk and impact.”

    I’m hoping and anticipating it will include parts of her own story and I always love to hear people’s stories! Also, I have a good feeling about a book that includes on its first page this awesome quote by this “very famous person”:

    The path to success is straight, and the experience of walking it is marked by both confidence and clarity.” – No One, Ever

    Well there you have it… a first installment of “What I’m Reading Wednesday!” What are YOU reading?


    REST – Giving Away 5 Ebooks!


    It’s something God has been teaching me so much about the last few years.

    We are designed to both work hard AND to rest well. When one of those is out of wack, WE are out of wack.

    A while back I discovered that a 24-hour Sabbath period each week is not only what God commands but is a beautiful, needed gift. When I am intentional about “stepping away from the things that won’t step away from you” (as Ann Voskamp says) I remember who I really am. I am energized to live that out the other 6 days of the week.

    More than perhaps anything, this quote from Mark Buchanan led me into this pursuit of resting in God on a regular basis. It reminds me that even in the busiest of times, this is crucial.

    “Get this straight: The rest of God – the rest God gladly gives so that we might discover that part of God we’re missing – is not reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done. It’s sheer gift. It’s a stop-work order in the midst of work that’s never complete, never polished. Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfilment of our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”

    When I noticed that the kindle ebook version of The Rest of God (where this quote came from) was on sale today, I knew I wanted to give some away. Five copies actually!

    All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog with one way you enjoy the rest of Sabbath (or wish that you would make time to enjoy). Five comments with be randomly selected tomorrow morning. Entries end at midnight (Eastern time).

    Praying you get some true, soul-refreshing rest this weekend!


    Favorite Books of 2017

    Many of my friends have been posting about their favorite books they read in 2017. Following suite, here were some of my top reads. My goal for 2018 is to read at least 3 books from genres/topics I normally wouldn’t pick up. Seeing some of my friends’ lists is helping me find some, but if you have some suggestions, send them my way! 
    Here are some short reviews and/or favorite quotes from some of my top reads from 2017 in no particular order:
    Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors – a timely reminder at the time I read it to hope in the midst of hard things. “No, He didn’t make the pain easy. But He made it beautiful. He held me close and whispered secrets to me and revealed things about Himself that I had not yet known. He scooped me into His big loving arms and held me in tenderness unlike any I had ever experienced. … I did not find all the answers to my questions. In fact, I might have more questions now than I did before. But I have found deep intimacy with the One who formed me and knows my heart. He has taught me His secrets in the darkness. He has taught me true and unwavering hope in Him.”

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Glad I finally got around to this one after many had suggested it for a while.

    Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff – some great reminders for this perfectionist’s heart (highly recommend the audiobook version for this one!). “This is the first lie that perfectionism tells you about goals: Quit if it isn’t perfect. … You will not be perfect, but do you know what’s even more important than perfection? Do you know what will serve you for longer than perfectionism ever could? Moving forward imperfectly. Reject the idea that the day after perfect means you’ve failed. That’s just not true. You get to try again.”

    A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller – such good stuff here, glad I finally finished after starting it a couple years ago and forgetting about it. – “Jesus doesn’t say, ‘Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.’ No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, ‘Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11: 28, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.” “When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.”

    A New Kind of Leader by Reggie Joiner – short, practical, and to the point; best work-related book I read this year – “Think about the orange traffic cones used to direct cars at a big concert or event. Imagine what would happen if someone just scattered the cones randomly across the parking lot. More than likely, it would create a traffic jam and cars would not be able to move anywhere. But when the cones are arranged strategically, they have the potential to move hundreds of vehicles exactly where they need to go. Now imagine that your church’s weekly programs, annual events, kid’s groups, and age-specific curriculums are like traffic cones. How you arrange them to work together is important. They are either strategic or random.”

    How’s Your Soul? by Judah Smith – the title says a lot about why I liked this book 🙂 “But the more I read the Bible and the more I get to know Jesus, the more I realize that life–even with all its quirks and turns and tragedies–is meant to be amazing. Not because circumstances are always perfect, but because our souls have found their home in God. Fulfillment comes from having a healthy soul, and… our souls stay healthy when they regularly return home. … Maybe the reason we feel restless on the inside is because we haven’t been home in a long time. … Our souls are home when they return to God.”

    The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp – Two favorite quotes: “When the church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ. Because Jesus, with His pierced side, is always on the side of the broken” and “Don’t ever be afraid of the broken things, because Christ is redeeming everything.

    Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Fascinating insights into Islam culture and religion; learned so much

    The Cure & Parents by Bill Thrall – While I picked it up to review and see if it would be helpful for the parents in our ministry, I found it a great book about real family life (in all its messiness) and trust in relationships. – “The motivation of grace will always bear greater fruit than the coercion of demand. … Many of us were taught by well-intended teachers and parents that it almost doesn’t matter what means you use to get someone to do good, as long as you can get them to do good. But good done for the wrong reason–convincing me that I, at my core, am not much good–that’s one of the worst forms of wrong.”  “The degree to which your children trust you is the degree to which they will let you love them. … We may have great intentions to pass on values, beliefs, wisdom, and truths. We may faithfully love, protect, and direct our children. But if they don’t trust us, nothing is really happening.”

    Bekah's Heart, Books

    Dinner with Jesus

    Reading a book by Barbara Broncroft today, these words captured my heart:

    “Being graciously received when we bring our sin to Christ strengthens our faith in the efficacy of the cross. We experience its powerful effects each time God welcomes us; we trust more deeply each time he responds with mercy and grace. As we experience his gracious welcome, we can hear Christ’s words to us without fear: 

    “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19–20). 

    Welcome… Grace… Trust… Mercy…  These are  often the things that come first to mind when we realize we’ve messed up or are holding onto hurt and pain.  If you’re anything like me, at the first hint of darkness or sin, my default is to either ignore the feeling or try to justify it. We do this either by distracting ourselves or by looking at all the “truly evil” things around us in the news and world and “comfort” ourselves with the lie that “I’m not really that bad.”   But the reality for all of us is that we are MESSED UP!  A speaker I heard the other day said it this way:

    “The problem of evil isn’t that it is so pervasive ‘out there’ but that it’s so deep in our hearts as well.” – Ravi Zacharias

    Going back to the Scripture in the first quote, I’m pretty sure I had heard both of those verses before, but never thought about them in connection with each other.  The zealous repentance of verse 19 isn’t just there to make us feel awful about ourselves.  No, it’s an invitation into the deep, beautiful relationship with Jesus of verse 20. The author of the Bol I was reading continued:

    The Spirit’s work to show us our sin and need for Christ is born out of love. He urges us to be zealous when our sin is revealed. In the vernacular, the Spirit urges us to hard-core repenting. He wants us to get busy so that when Christ knocks, we will be quick to open our doors to him instead of hiding in the closet. Jesus knocks on our doors because he desires to come in and sit with us for a meal—a most friendly, intimate, and satisfying encounter. Jesus offers us himself—he wants a relationship with us.” – Barbara Bancroft

    As hard as it is to let pain, hurt, and sin be revealed in the Light of Christ, I don’t want to be found hiding in the closet.  

    Jesus, come in, let’s have dinner. 


    Advent, Books, Wonder-Full Wanderings

    A Week of Hope {wonder-full wanderings}

    Week one of the beautiful advent season… One candle lit on the advent wreath… The hope candle.

    The flame dances small but mighty both on the wreath and in our souls.  I don’t believe it’s coincidence that everywhere I turn it seems the ‘word of the week’ appears.

    All through the pages of God’s Word:

    “Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24

    “I wait for the Lord, my souls does wait, and in His word do I hope.” – Psalm 130:5

    “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace and believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 

    On the kitchen wall:

    In a book I recently picked up:

    “And hope happens here at this nexus of bitter and sweet. I will not talk myself out of hope, hiding behind Scripture to support all my reasons for being ‘wise’ and ‘measured’ in my responses to the not-yets in my life. Because when I choose to engage in that awkward intimacy of believing that He might say no while asking expectantly that He say yes, He gets the most beautiful part of me. 

    Hope is my precious oil, mingling with tears to wash His feet.

    Hope, and the vulnerability it brings, is what moves His heart.

    Hope, and how it draws me to Him, means not one of those minutes curled up in pain was lost, not one of those minutes of closeness with Him is forgotten… I can discover that our greatest testimony isn’t found in those moments of victory over weakness or even in the moments of hope fulfilled. It’s found in waiting, wanting, adoring.” – Sara Hagerty

    And isn’t that what this season is all about anyway… The waiting, the wanting, the adoring? 

    This hope is a daring thing, because “who hopes for what we already have“?  And yet as Christians, that’s exactly what we do.  We live in the “already” and the “not yet” all at the same time.  

    We have the promise: He WILL come again!  

    We have the inheritance: life forever in heavenly bliss.

    We know the end of the story: He wins! We win! 

    Yet we still live in this painful, war-torn, desperate world, hanging on desperately to hope.  But as the advent season continues on to an advent week 2 adventure of peace, the hope flame stays lit too.  May it be true in our hearts as well. 

    “Hold onto hope. Hold onto hope. Even those closest to you will challenge it, as the world around you collapses, but hope is your greatest weapon because it is an invitation into the Unseen.  … One day, the Unseen will be more real to you than what your eyes can perceive.” – Sarah Hagerty



    Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford

    In addition to blogging more, I’ve also been challenging myself to do more reading.  It is so easy to waste away hours on Facebook or Pinterest or other mindless things, that I decided reading, even just a few minutes a day, night be a more productive use of my time. So when I had the chance to get a free copy of Staffords, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More in exchange for a review on my blog, it seemed a good fit.

    SUMMARY: This book outlines nine helpful ways to, as I was seeking to do, put down the phone and pay attention more to what is going on around you.  I appreciated this timely reminder in a world centered around going more, multitasking, and going, going, going.  I could identify with the author’s, at times  perfectionistic attitude as well as her desire to live life on purpose and the joy that comes in choosing that intentionality over perfection.  Here were the nine key concepts presented in the book:

    • Fill the Spaces
    • Surrender Control
    • Build a Foundation
    • Take the Pressure Off 
    • See What Is Good
    • Give What Matters
    • Establish Boundaries
    • Leave a Legacy
    • Change Someone’s Story

    In each of the chapters about these habits, Stafford uses personal experiences from her life to outline simple ways to be less distracted and experience more of the things that matter most.

    MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK: I have to admit that if I hadn’t committed to finish and review it (and had some spare time on vacation), I might have given up on this book in the second or third chapter.  This is not because it is not a good book with great insights, it is. However, despite advertising about how this book can be life-changing for men, women, parents, and singles, I would say that 90% of the content all related to her being a mom. It made me wonder inference actually is between this book and her first, Hands Free Mama.  All that being said, I am thankful at I did have a reason to finish the book.  As I stepped back and looked at the broader concepts of the book, I found each of the concepts really are applicable to all ages (even kids), stages, genders and more.  

    WOULD I RECOMMEND IT TO OTHERS: I would say that if you’re a parent who often feels overwhelmed with trying to balance all the demands of life with intentionally loving your children (pretty sure I just gave the definition of ‘parent’) I think it’s safe to say that you would identify well with this author and find freedom in the midst of that balancing act. For any non-parents, I would say that if you’re willing to put in a little extra effort to figure out non-parenting applications, then this read is definitely worth your time.  I will also add that the book is filled with various poems and “declarations” related to the concepts which support the content well but do break it up a bit.  So if that’s not your thing, then maybe just check out some of her blog posts to get the general ideas.


    (Scale: 1-“I Couldn’t finish”;    3-“Eh, I’ve read better”;    5-“Contending for a Top 10 This Year”)


    I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”