Bekah's Heart, First Trinity, Haiti, Internship Highlights, Joy, Mission Work, NY Adventures, Random

I love my life! (And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

At 11:45 this morning I passed this sign on my way back from helping run the ropes course for Operation Purple Camp at Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center: 

The crazy thing about this is that I drove past that same sign for the very first time exactly two years ago today at the end of a 1,200 miles journey to move here from Kansas.

When I passed the sign today, I found myself instantly breathless and in awe, recalling all that’s happened in the last two years.

I recalled the nervous excitement of pulling into this parking lot for the first time greeted by car-washing youth and my amazing teammates and I think about the one that will take place this coming Saturday in that very spot.

I think about the hard times, the good times, and the in-between times that have filled the last 730 days.

I’ve been stretched, comforted, challenged, pranked, loved, encouraged, invited, broken, healed, sick, healthy, prompted, cared for, listened to, led, followed, supported, …. changed.

And most importantly, I remember the countless amazing people I’ve gotten to experience each day of the last two years with.

Earlier today, a friend commented that I lead a very interesting and fascinating life. As I thought about her comment a little more, I decided it was really true…. I do have an awesome life.  Even in the midst of any struggles or hard times, I have a family who loves me, an awesome job with the best teammates, opportunities outside of work to explore and serve, a wonderful home, a healthy body, the freedom to worship my Savior, friends all over the country and world to share life with, and most of all, a God who created me, saved me, and sustains me each and everyday.

I love my life!  (And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full!” (John 10:10)

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.


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!


Crossroads, Internship Highlights

Workcamp-The First Couple days!

Hello all!

Things are going VERY well at Workcamp 2011 in Hurricane, WV.  First thing’s first…. as you read “Hurricane” throughout the next few days… whatever you do, DO NOT read it as “HurricAne”.  That is NOT how you pronounce the city in which we serve!  The correct pronunciation is actually more like Hurri-“KIN” (kin – as in you might have to sacrifice your first of KIN if you don’t pronounce it correctly.)


Anyway, we’ve been having a great time down here in Hurricane… and on our trip down.  Saturday night we stayed at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Oakmont, PA.  Pastor Naumann and his wife were very gracious hosts, along with a friend Jenn.  They hosted us for a grill-out dinner at their home (which had it’s own picnic shelter in the back yard.)  We broke out the KanJam as well as some other games and just had a great night.  They guys actually stayed at the Naumann home and girls went back to the church 2 blocks away.  I’m not sure about the guys, but there were some awesome conversations taking place that evening around the church!  What a great way to kick off the trip.


Sunday morning we woke up bright and early.  The guys joined us for breakfast before 7 so we could get on the road.  Once we started using a GPS that had correct highway numbers, all three vans made it out of Pittsburg and headed… to HURRICANE!


We were greeted by out enthusiastic “Red Shirt Staff” and got a lot of comments on our awesome First Trinity Workcamp T-shirts designed by our very own Randy Edgington! 


We settled in a little and then went to our first program of the week.  After program there was dinner.  Crew assignments went up at this time also.  Crews this week are:


Crew 15: Anna, Morgan, Kayla, Becca, Claire, Charlie, and Jon

Crew 16: Jane, Deb, Sarah, Annie, Christian, Zack, and Jordan

Crew 49: Jen, Stacy, Hope, Josh T., Josh C., Tim, and Bekah

Crew 61: Abby, Abbie, Jennie, Mark, Randy, Kelsey, and Laura


What a great group of crews!


Many of FTs group is getting involved in Workcamp Programming this week.  Stacy joined the Drama team for our evening worship each night and Christian and Sarah joined the Worship Team that leads the whole group of 400 in song at that same evening program time.  It is quite an amazing sight to see Sarah on her crutches, flying across the gym with her guitar on her back! 


We closed off Sunday night with our youth group devotions.  Rachel Bissell (a parent) made us a candle to leave our host churches that has a picture of First Trinity on it.  Since we only have one host church this trip, we’ve decided to use it at our youth group devotions at night.  It’s a nice CONNECTtion with our church family back home.


Today (Monday) we had an early “Wakey-Wakey Workcampers” wake up call at 6:45.  After getting ready, our “Breakmakers”  (one of the crew jobs for each crew) got our lunches ready for the day.  We all ate breakfast and headed to morning program with our crews.  Then… we headed out to our sites!!!


It sounds like all 4 crews have some awesome residents that really need our help.  I’m not sure how many times the resident from Crew 49 told us how thankful she was we were there and that we were a miracle for them.  Hopefully, over the next few days I’ll get a participant from each crew to write a little about the family they are serving. 


For now, here are a few God-sightings that have been shared:

– Zack helping Sarah navigate through Walmart on her crutches, pushing the cart for her and carrying her stuff out to the van.

– Laura and the rest of Crew 61 were working on their resident’s home. Laura happened to be doing some painting and had gotten some on her legs because of the way she was sitting down.  She wasn’t to concerned, but Carolyn, their resident, came over with a wet towel and started washing the paint off of her legs.  Laura said this reminded her of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

– Jen and Bekah had got a chance to have a long conversation with their family and heard their story.  The short version is that both the husband and wife are very sick.  It was cool to hear them talking about how they don’t worry about the fact that they’ll both die soon because they believe in Jesus and know that they’ll get new bodies when they do.



God-sightings and fun abound.  Today was a great day to meet our residents and get down to work. 


During the evening program (and all through the day) we focused on the very first part of John 15:5 which says “I am the Vine.”  As we looked at this theme, participants had chances all day to think about how they would answer Jesus if He posted this question on their Facebook, “Who am I to you today?  As part of Worship, all 400 participants wrote their favorite name for Jesus on a giant sheet of paper.  First Trinity members also shared theirs at devotions tonight. Here are a few ways they answered:

– Provider

– King of Kings


– Holder of my Heart

– Prince of Peace

– Light of the World

– Lord of Lords


Today we learned that it all starts with Jesus, our Vine and without him, we’re just a bunch of dead sticks.  As we wrap up the day we want to ask… Who is Jesus to YOU?!?!

Internship Highlights

A year of lessons… a year of grace.

It’s crazy to think that one year ago I was sitting with  my in my brand new apartment, surrounded by boxes, in a town (state) I had never been to before, after driving 3 days across the country, wondering what in the world the year ahead of me held.  Now, I am truly blessed to call this place … home.  This year has truly had it’s ups and downs and in betweens.  I thought I would take some time to recap this year.  Here is a list, to remind myself, of all a very small portion of the things God has taught me in the last 365 days… learnings, quotes, encouragements from friends, and so much more:  

–          God’s grace is undeserved, but so beautiful.  Kind of like showing up to a new place and having an entire apartment full of furniture and food given to you by people you’ve never met.

–          God doesn’t just work in things to make them “moderately okay”… he makes them new… he makes them perfect. (In HIS time and HIS way of course!)

–          “Each day, it is absolutely crucial for me to listen for God’s voice, affirming that I am God’s beloved child.  Only then can I resist the temptation to reinhabit my false identity.  Only when I am listening to God’s voice, and not my own, am I set FREE from having to prove to the world (or to myself) that I am worth loving, because God has already, repeatedly, affirmed his love for me.”  ~ Fil Anderson

–          “God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that and let it become the most important thing in your life.  Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.” ~ Jerusha Clark

–          “Martha thought she had value because she was productive.  Jesus wanted her to learn she had value simply because she was His.” ~ Joanna Weaver

–          “Reconsidering what it means to ‘take heart.’ He doesn’t say ‘be strong’ or ‘toughen up’.  Naw.  You gotta go where the feelings are because one of those feelings is love, and that’s the one that saves us all.” – Lisa Smith

–          God will provide!  Trust him Bekah! 

–          God is more than enough!

–          Awkward can be okay.  Jesus was probably in a lot of awkward situations.  If change is going to happen, there WILL be awkward moments…FACT.  Get used to awkward and do it anyway… it’s just past awkward that God works most powerfully.

–          The deepest peace is found in the midst of chaos. – When we find peace in the chaotic times it is SO beautiful and freeing.  It’s like black font on white paper or a diamond shimmering more against a black backdrop.  Seek peace and pursue it!  The peace You provide, God, is beyond this world!

–          BE STILL and know that I AM GOD!

–          My main purpose in life is to bring God glory and make the most of Jesus’ name. – Whether “good” or “bad” comes in my life, I have a choice in how I react.  Is my life today, in the big and little things, bringing God glory?

–          Constantly pray for more grace.

–          Tears are okay.  Tears can be good.

–          FIGHT for intimacy with God. – So many things will try to steal it.

–          Play to win rather than playing not to lose.

–          Some of the best foods ministries are the messy ones.

–          Use what you have in front of you.  God always provides.

–          Sometimes (most times) we have to allow brokenness in order for God to heal us.

–          Surround yourself with people who will challenge you not to be “more” in general, but rather more YOU… more of the exact person God’s created you to be.

–          When you are making a big decision, as you begin to walk the direction desires for you, there will be peace.

–          When in doubt, love people.

–          “‘God loves you’ is not a platitude or a simple answer for all of life’s hurts.  It is the most radical, most complex truth of your existence, the most poignant hope of your heart.” – Jerusha Clark

Wow.  If only I could list ALL the things I’ve learned.  This list doesn’t even seem to scratch the surface… and of course about 99% of these things I’m still learning, but I am so thankful for this wonderful place where God could begin and continue to teach my heart so many things that would draw me closer to him.  I think that if I had to sum up everything I’ve learned in one word, that word would be…


It’s such a beautiful thing that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully understand, nor be able to thank God enough for.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have been a part of my life this year… helping me learn these lessons, helping me get adjusted to a new city and church and job, helping me learn a little more about who I am and who God is, being my friends, being my mentors, being you as we walk together through life.  Looking forward to many more years of learning and growing and seeing Jesus together.

Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights

A chance to reach out.

As I continue to hear about the devastation around the country due to the recent tornadoes, I’m in awe.  It can be easy to think that there’s little we can do to help, but it has been very neat to see people from First Trinity step up and help recently.  Through the Youth SCRIP Program, congregation members have collectively donated close to $1000 (last I counted) in Walmart and Target gift cards to send to families in Alabama trying to recovery from the deadly storm.   The even cooler part about this, is that by purchasing them through Scrip, the First Trinity Youth Group will also get 2-3% of that total to help them get to their summer mission trip in Hurricane, WV. 


Last night at Crossroads CONNECT, the 8th grade and high school students also took some time to write notes to victims who will recieve those gift cards in Alabama, as well as some people recovering in Joplin, Missouri.  Check this awesome note written by one of our high school students:

Our youth group prayed for you tonight!  I truly hope things get better for you- just trust in God and I know he’ll provide everything you need.  Even though things look slim right now, just keep your chin up and things will get better.  

I’m sorry about the tornadoes.  I thought I’d share my confirmation verse with you: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5 

– First Trinity Youth Group

I can only imagine how notes like that will provide just a little reminder of God’s goodness and provision to people who need that encouragement desperately right now!

College Ministry, Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights, Joy

Looks like NY will soon have a new Resident

Yep that’s right… in case everyone at First Trinity didn’t hear this weekend, I officially accepted my call!


Check out a copy of my letter below.



May 26, 2011


Dear Members of First Trinity Lutheran Church:


What an immense blessing it has been to work and serve God with you the past 10 months of my internship! I could not have asked God for a better place to learn and grow, to be challenged, supported, and loved as I finished my last year of undergraduate studies. I was overjoyed three weeks ago when I heard the results of the congregational meeting and experienced that same emotion again this weekend when I received the call to serve as the Director of High School and Young Adult Ministries.


Having prayerfully considered your call, I am excited to report the acceptance of the call to First Trinity Lutheran Church! Without a doubt, I believe God wants me to continue in ministry with you. I am eager to see His great plans unfold as we work together to transform our world, one life at a time, through the power of God’s Living Word.


Joyfully Blessed in Christ,

Rebekah Ruth Freed



Africa, Bekah's Heart, Internship Highlights, NY Adventures

But What If I end Up Some Place Like New York?!?!?

I didn’t want to clutter the other post from today with this story, but it is, as my staffmates would say “hi-larious” and just one of those things that confirms in my mind that God truly does have a sense of humor:


So during my last semester at Concordia I was trying to make the decision of whether or not to go to Uganda.  There were many things that were trying to get in the way… health issues, concerns about finances both for Uganda and then also for needed to get a car and move/get settled in a new apartment, etc.  I also had to choose whether or not to go to Uganda before knowing where I was going for internship nor WHEN I was going to need to show up there. 


During this time of prayer… conversation back and forth between God and I, I distinctly remember listing off some “what-ifs”, partly just so God could debunk them with some truth.  One thing I remember praying was, “But God, what if I go to Uganda and live this simple, slower, non-hurried life for a month and then have to jump into life in some fast-paced place?  How could I handle the culture shock.  Are you sure this isn’t too much God. I mean, what if I end up having to move to like NEW YORK a week after I get back or something???  


Now, for all of you that may not be from around here, I guarantee you that life in WNY is not the stereotypical fast-paced, hurried, crazy life we see in the movies from NYC.  So, thankfully that was not an issue coming back from Uganda, and as I said in my previous post, really this was the perfect place/congregation to come back to who understood some of those culture shock elements and mission work and just made that transition so easy.


BUT you do have to admit that it’s quite hilarious!!!! 


It’s a cool reminder to me that when God tells us not to fear (which he says more than any other command in the Bible), he’s not guaranteeing that our worst fear might not come true… He’s just saying that if it does, He will take care of us every step of the way!

Africa, Bekah's Heart, Internship Highlights

Prayers Prayed… Prayers Answered

As I’ve described in posts Saturday, Sunday, and Monday… the way I ended up in New York for internship is something that only God could orchestrate.  The stories are cool, but what is even more amazing is to see the ways in which God has answered so many specific prayers this year that were prayed even months before I even knew where I was going.  Here are a few examples with some excerpts from some of my prayer journals:

January 6, 2010 – “… To me, going to Africa the same summer as starting my internship seemed impossible, but You are the God who makes the impossible happen. Set my heart at rest to depend on your faithfulness. …”

I had planned to go to Africa the summer of 2009, because it seemed like it would be impossible for me to go the same summer that I was starting internship.  God knew that not only was it possible, but he knew it was the perfect timing being that I would be headed to one of the most mission-focused churches I’ve seen with people that truly wanted to hear my story and help me process what I had just experienced.  And if I could only express how much that sending cloth meant to me and to so many other in Uganda. 🙂

(Click here to read another funny God-story about the Uganda/internship combination.)

January 21, 2010 (the day of my placement interview for internship) – “…God, I also pray that you would help me as I reflect on my interview with Tim about preferences for internship. I don’t really know what I want. … Despite anything I said or didn’t say today, prepare the place and job description as well as preparing my heart for that position. … begin creating a support system in that place for me in some way.”

What I wrote in this prayer is true.  When I did my placement interview with Tim, I really didn’t even know how to answer the questions about what ministries I wanted to do and when I listed college-age ministry near the top of my list with a couple other lesser-common ministry areas, he kind of looked at me as if to say, “I doubt that’ll ever happen.” 🙂  And here I am on my internship with almost half of my time dedicated to college-age ministry.  Women’s ministry was also near the top of my list and it’s been a joy the past month or so to start up a Young Women’s Life Group.  God has cool ways of answering prayers.  (Neither college-age ministry, nor women’s ministry were even on the possible list to rank. 🙂 I just added them!)

Also, with that, “High School Ministry” was pretty low on my preference list at the time, but thankfully, God came through with the “prepare my heart for the position” part of the prayer too and I truly love that part of my job too and am so glad God knows my heart better than I do even!

Lastly, in that prayer, I prayed for a support system to begin being formed wherever I’d end up. I knew how much I depended on the people around me at school and that with all the transitions (especially with Uganda thrown in there) I knew I’d need people around me and again, I can’t think of a better place than First Trinity to find that.  Again and again God has shown me this love and encouragement and friendship that I need in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. 

March 21, 2010 “…Father, I pray for my internship site.  In less than three weeks, I will know where I’ll be heading… but you already know. … I pray that as Tim makes these placement decisions, that you would reveal to him the perfect place for me to serve and share your name with the gifts and passions you’ve given me. …”

I thought I’d throw this one in there too just because it’s funny to me I said, “You already know God” and was kind of thinking, I’m sure that maybe Tim was starting to figure it out or something…. At this point, First Trinity hadn’t even expressed an interest to CUNE in getting an intern. 🙂  But, yes, God did know already.

April 10, 2010  “TONAWANDA, NY!!!  Well, at least I can write the town and church in here even if I can’t anywhere else.  First Trinity Lutheran Church.  Father, I praise you for this church and Sue, Jason and Pastor Chuck and I haven’t even been there. Thank you for the conversations with Sue and Jason today and consistently reassuring me that your hand is in this.”

If you didn’t know, due to Sue being on vacation and then Pastor being in China, they couldn’t announce the fact that they were getting an intern until about a month after I found out, which is why I couldn’t say much on Facebook, etc. but I COULD write about it in my journal and that I did. I continued to pray for this place and God has consistently answered those prayers again and again:

I didn’t know how I would pay for my Uganda trip and get furniture I needed in my apartment. Without me asking, they asked the congregation if anyone had extra furniture and now everyday, I am reminded of the Ciminelli family as I head to bed, and the Phillips’ as I eat dinner, and the Canfields as I turn on the lamps in the living room (and so many others who gave). 

I prayed for wisdom and guidance to balance my work/ministry with my need to just be alone with God and renewed and refreshed.  God provided a beautiful apartment in which I can come home each day and relax in Him.

The list can go on and on … and does go on and on.  God never ceases to amaze me!  So, there… now you have the crazy story of how I ended up as an intern in New York! 🙂  What a great 9 months it’s been so far!!

Internship Highlights

Okay. So maybe you ARE getting an Intern.

…. continued from yesterday


So as I said yesterday. Sue dismissed the idea of getting an intern and Tim went about his work of visiting the last couple possible sites. 


After the sites had all been visited his process of making final rearrangements of who was going where began.  Somehow in this process he thought, “you know, maybe First Trinity would be a good internship site.”  So on Saturday April 3, the day before Easter and just one week before I found out where I was going, Tim called Sue.

Sue happened to be out walking Zamni when she got this unexpected call, “Are you still interested in an intern?”  They talked for a while that day and set up an interview of sorts for Wednesday.

(Again, this is all what I’ve heard so you’ll have to ask Tim or Sue if you want more information).

Wednesday, it was decided that First Trinity would be getting an intern.

Thursday, Sue and Jason went around the church, even taking flyers off the wall I hear, trying to collect things to send to NE to put in my aforementioned folder.  After finishing a job description and the necessary paperwork, they threw it all in an overnight envelope and mailed it off to NE.

The envelope arrived Friday afternoon.  Brenda, the DCE secretary opened it, relieved to finally have its contents, only to find that the contract and other necessary paperwork never made it in the envelope.  A quick phone call to Sue and a few faxes later, my folder was finished Friday afternoon, ready to be handed to me, as if nothing out-of-the-ordinary took place, the very next morning.  🙂


What was that verse I quoted the other day????  The one about God’s ways been higher than our ways… and his plans often different than our own??? 🙂 🙂 🙂


The best thing about the whole process is that Sue, nor Tim, First Trinity, nor Concordia, knew where I was headed until a couple days before the announcement day… but God did all along.  


Tomorrow, there will be one last “installment” in this series that’s developed, which, in my opinion, is the neatest part of the whole story!!!

First Trinity, Internship Highlights, Random

Sorry, You’re not getting an Intern.

(Continued from yesterday’s post…)

After the announcement part of our placement dinner was complete, the room exploded with conversation. Hugs shared all around (I don’t think there were (m)any tears).  Someone broke out the atlas and we started finding

Wausau and Flushing, WI;

Huntington and Georgetown IN;

Bryant, AR;



Brenda, the DCE secretary began passing out folders for each of us that contained information about our church and the surrounding area.  When Brenda reached me and my family, she said something to the effect of, “Wow. Just wait until you hear the story of YOUR internship site placement!”


This started the process of slowly unraveling what was actually taking place behind the scenes leading up to my hearing: “First Trinity Lutheran Church – Tonawanda, NY”.

What follows is the story as I’ve pieced it together from various sources.


First of all, the general process for internship placement is:

* Churches apply for an intern. 

* Tim, one of our professors, interviews all the future interns and visits/interviews all the churches that have applied for an intern.

* Once Tim finishes visiting all the churches he matches church preferences with student preferences and then keeps it all a secret until placement announcement day when we get to hear about it.

(Oh except I forgot the 2+ weeks leading up to announcement where the professors play the “I know where you’re going and you don’t game”… except, as you’ll come to find out… THEY didn’t even know where I was going yet!)


When the deadline for churches to apply rolled around (February 1), there still wasn’t enough sites.  The professors send word out that they were still looking for churches if they wanted to apply.   Soon more congregations applied and they had more possible sites than they needed. 


Fast forward to the end of March, two weeks before we would find out where we were going.  Sue Steege called up the DCE office wondering if they were still looking for internship sites.  From the stories I’ve been told she was basically told, “We have more than enough sites.  We’re less than 2 weeks from placement announcement. You could apply again for January but there’s no way you’re getting an intern this summer.” 


Sue went back to working with the rest of the FT team to figure out where God was leading them for the future of high school ministry and Tim, the internship placement coordinator, went on finishing his last few visits to prepare for placement announcement.


…. to be continued….