Your Future Self Will Thank You

Last night was a night that ended up being filled with things I think I’ll thank myself for later. I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s what happened.

First, I went to the gym. I could have gone straight home from work. I could have made excuses (I was pretty tired) or not taken time to pack a change of clothes that morning. But I didn’t. I showed up. I did my thing. By the time I finished I was glad I came; I think my future self will be thankful too.

Once home I made myself dinner. It wasn’t anything fancy but it was yummy, semi-healthy, and did the trick. Thinking ahead to the rest of my week I realized that I’ll be away from home for 13 hours today and about 12 on Thursday. Before sitting down to enjoy last night’s dinner, I took an extra 5 minutes to threw a pork tenderloin and some veggies in the oven to roast while I ate. Between that and leftovers from tonight’s dinner, I now have meals for the next 2 and a half days ready to pull out when needed. My mornings will be easier when it comes to packing a lunch and I will enjoy the homemade meal way more than grabbing something on the go when there’s no opportunity to go home for dinner.

I’m also kept a commitment I made to myself this morning to do some cleaning this evening as well as some writing. I will thank myself when I’m not racing the clock for upcoming deadlines or when I come home tonight after a long day to a clean home and empty sink.

I went to bed at a reasonable time. I’m still trying to adjust to the time change. My body isn’t sure what to do with it. I could have easily stayed up late to do whatever random things I end up doing way to late at night. Instead, I tucked myself in and found myself thankful and unstressed this morning when I had to get up and out the door early to enjoy breakfast with a friend before work.

I don’t share all that in pride. I am far from awesome when it comes to many of these things that I happened to actually do well last night. (I may or may not have also hadsome chocolate and peanut butter ice cream. So there’s that.) Believe me: this kind of stuff isn’t an every day occurrence in the Freed home.  But last night it was. And it felt good to not just care for me “now” but for me “then”.

It made me stop and consider two things:

1. Healthy choices lead to other healthy choices. Going to the gym after work made me crave a healthier dinner. Once I got going, it was easier to find motivation for other good things in my life. By exercising and eating well I slept better too. By having a clean house I am more likely to put in the little effort it takes to keep it clean the rest of the week and be less stressed out every time I walk in the door.

2. I may not be able to do all of this every day or even every week, but what things can I do that will benefit me in the future? Whether “future” is simply the next morning or years from now, I can do things now that will help me then.

I’m all for living in the present, when we get too far ahead of ourselves it just creates anxiety and gets overwhelming. At the same time though, when as I look around at our world, I see how easy it is to “live for now” and completely ignore the fact that these bodies, homes, cars, relationships, etc. will be around for a while. When I live focused only on now and for temporary satisfaction it rarely turns out well. I matter. And because I matter I want to remember what it looks like to care for myself in ways that will help the future me too. It’s easy to lose focus on this, but we can regain the momentum pretty easily as well. It starts with this simple question:

What is one little thing I can do today that my future self will thank me for?

Now go do it!



Joy, NY Adventures, Random, Uncategorized

Summer Bucket List

I’ve stumbled upon the habit of having a “summer bucket list” the past few years and a few weeks ago I started putting together my list for 2016.  It’s not a traditional bucket list in the sense that I actually expect to check off every single thing, but rather one that reminds me of all the fun things to do around Buffalo in the summer (when you can comfortably be outside) and to give ideas of how to enjoy moments to relax and be refreshed and celebrate life in the midst of a busy work season!  Some won’t happen at all, some will be adapted, others will be added and still others will be repeated over and over! Since “blog at least once a week” is on the list, here we are.  Let me know if you want to join in on the fun! 

Here’s to abundant living this summer! 

In no particular order:

  • Walk or run at least 50 miles total (17 down since beginning of June)
  • Make a pie 
  • Go for a hike
  • Sing around a campfire (6/2)
  • Lick drippy ice cream (6/3)
  • Buy myself flowers (6/8)
  • Take someone else flowers
  • Play a game of something out on the grass
  • Go cloud watching
  • Watch as many sunrises or sunsets as possible 
  • Go to a festival
  • Get food from a food truck
  • Pancake date (or other adventure) with the Christ kids
  • Find a new park (6/2)
  • Go kayaking or waterbiking
  • Read 5 books (The Long Awakening,)
  • Go to a baseball game 
  • Spend a morning or afternoon intentionally getting lost 
  • Blog once a week 
  • Go berry picking (6/12)
  • Go visit friends in Rochester 
  • Finish China scrapbook
  • Do the self-tour of all the Underground Railroad sites around WNY
  • Get dressed up and go somewhere nice (6/11-BPC banquet at the Lafayette)
  • Write a letter to your future self
  • Take a fast from all technology for a day
  • Run a 5K
  • Spend an afternoon or morning reading outside
  • Visit a new coffee shop (6/8 – TeaLeafs on Main) 
  • Take dinner to someone 
  • Invite someone over for dinner
  • Walk to work one day
  • Visit Canalside (Maybe for Tuesday Night Flix)
  • Write a note to a friend 
  • Shakespeare in Delaware Park  
  • Buy NOTHING for a whole week
  • Don’t get out of PJs for a whole day

Devotional, Lent, Random

A “State of the Heart” Address

Typically every January, our president gives the State of the Union Address.  While of course at times politics can be involved, in general, it’s kind of neat concept to pause and look around and see where we are at as a country.  Today, as I was reading Luke 3:15 we get a similar “state of the union” type address from John about God’s people at the time right before Jesus came on the scene in public ministry.  Before Jesus had been born, there had been 400 YEARS of silence from God.  Oh, He was still working, but the people hadn’t heard from him in centuries.  With that context I find this verse interesting and refreshing:

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. (Luke 3:15)

So, they might have been a little off about WHO the Messiah was, but I love that after all this time, they were still “waiting expectantly” for the One God promised to send as a Savior.  This was a collective thing, but only because individually their hearts were, as another translation put it, “in expectation”.  It’s almost as if this is a “state of the heart” address about the people of God.

As we prepare to enter into the season of Lent, maybe it’s time for us to stop and figure out what we would say if we were to give a “state of the heart” address.  So often questions like “How are you?” elicit vague responses, if any, and perhaps even lies as we brush people off with “fine” and “okay”.  We avoid the extremes like “I’m doing awesome! God is doing amazing things in my life” as well as being honest when we’re not fine or not okay.  What would you say is the state of your heart today?

The great thing is that God welcomes us no matter what the state of our heart is.  It can be joyful, hurting, broken, doubting, skeptical, grieving, shameful, or at peace.  No matter what the state of our heart, God simply says, “Come”.  The only thing he asks is that we’re honest.  Hebrews 10:22-23 puts it this way:

“let us draw near with a true heart…”

And verse 23 tells us why this is possible:

“…for He who promised is faithful”

We serve a faithful God, one who is not scared about what we might say about our hearts… he knows it all anyway!  May we come to him today with a true heart, in honesty before Him.  May this Lenten season be one in which we can continually examine our hearts in light of God’s Word and God’s grace that we may grow closer to Him and more confident in the truth that He is faithful to all He has promised!

IMG_4742 - Copy

Crossroads, Random, Youth Ministry

HUSTLE! – January Edition

Near the beginning of this year in a staff meeting Pastor asked each of us to share something, a passion of some sort that God was putting on our hearts for ministry in 2016.  After one teammate shared he asked whether that was something that excited them or just something they felt needed to be done.  They responded “both”, but as I thought about the thing God was stirring in my heart at that time, it definitely had not gotten to the “excited about” stage…. YET.

I’m not sure whether it’s lack of experience, fear of what others will think, determination to be self-sufficient, pride, or some combination of all these and more, but recruiting volunteers for anything is not only one of my least favorite things to do, I’m just not very good at it either.  However, not only is it ridiculous to try to do everything on my own, I was reminded that it’s unbiblical and goes against what I’m called to do as a leader in the church. Here’s what Paul had to say about it to the people in Ephesus:

(And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

I’m not typically one for new year’s resolutions but I realized I needed to be strategic, determined, and focused on the “why” when it came to inviting others to join me in ministry.  Remembering a 30-day challenge I had gone through a few years ago put out by Jon Acuff called “30 day Hustle” I decided that’s what January needed to be for me… a month to hustle… a month to work hard at making this part of my job one of the highest priorities.  On one of the first days of the challenge you have to write your why.  Here’s what I wrote:

  • High schoolers and young adults need and deserve more people investing in their lives and faith
  • I can’t do it alone
  • My efforts will only be multiplied when I do this!
  • God’s Kingdom will grow
  • Jesus thinks it’s a good idea!
  • Why not?!?
2015-07-19 09.08.49
My Motivation for January’s Hustle!

So my mind was set up, I made a small, but what seemed reasonable goal that each workday in January I would spend 10 minutes investing in getting more adults connected with high school students and ministry… just 10 minutes.  Here at the end of the month, I must admit that there have been plenty of days I didn’t get my 10 minutes in.  However, many days I did more than 10.  I looked back and discovered that already this month I have spend 9 hours investing in this goal.  9 hours!  That breaks down to well more than 10 minutes a day even if you count days I wasn’t even at work.  More than that, it’s sadly about 8 hours more than I typically spend in a month investing in recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers.

And today, I choose not to look down upon myself for what I haven’t done well in the past and celebrate those 9 hours, trusting that God’s Kingdom IS growing because of them, that my efforts will only continue to multiply, and that high schoolers will and already have benefited.

As we wrap up one month and head into next, I wonder what your “hustle” could be this month?  For February I decided to pick one each for home and work.  For work, I want to spend at least 5 minutes a day praying for one or more of my teammates.   At home, I’m going to be intentional about connecting with one friend or family member each day, even if it’s just a quick text.

What’s one thing you can do well, even just for this month, that could impact your life or the lives of people around you?  Would love to hear below and maybe we can encourage each other!


Bekah's Heart, Joy, Random

Grace… To fail

I did something tonight where, walking in, the probability of failure was much higher than the probability of success. 

So the fact I did it anyway in itself is a beautiful success

You see, Miss Perfectionist in me can be pretty bossy at times.  She keeps me from doing fun things for fear of whether they are practical.  She keeps me from being spontaneous with reminders of responsibility and duty.  She keeps me from doing things I love if I think at all that I won’t do them perfectly. (She’s actually pretty annoying!)

Tonight was definitely far from perfect.


I had fun… (If for no other reason than to laugh in Miss Perfectionist’s face and say: “So what!?! I did it anyway!”) 

I tried something new…

I challenged myself…

I did something I love…  

I “punched fear in the face” (as Jon Acuff might say)… 

I perfectly enjoyed an imperfect moment…

… And that’s enough “success” for me no matter what the outcome. 
Even just a few years ago, I would have never been able to write this post. Not only would I have not tried something new, but if I had, I would have never admitted failure publicly by choice. 

But then, I discovered Grace

Grace says, “I love you as you are.

Grace says, “I know you’re not perfect, stop trying to fool yourself.

Grace says, “I came that you may have life, abundant life. Enjoy it!

Grace says, “Take a break.

Grace says, “Trying something is better than perfecting nothing.

Some might say this use of the word cheapens it. But for me it makes what Christ has done all the more beautiful.  It reminds me that God offers grace not just for the salvation moments, but for the everyday ones as well. 

Grace… Oh what a beautiful, joy-filled, freeing, amazing thing! 

Thank you Jesus, for grace!!!


Bekah's Heart, Random

2015 in Review

2015 had its joys and its challenges. Through it all, God remained faithful and the same will be true in every year ahead! 

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights (and some lowlights) of 2015 in no particular order! 


  • 3 amazing trips to visit my family in Kansas (including Christmas and Mother’s Day!) 
  • 2 mission trips to Florida and West Virginia
  • a chance to visit good ol’ Concordia Nebraska  while celebrating Sue’s Master Educator award
  • Wheat Ridge Young Adult conference in Chicago
  • Women’s Retreat at LCLC
  • MS retreat in Ohio
  • Vacation with Megan to Florida


  • Mom, Dad, and Grandma Bert came 
  • Took Grandma to see Niagara Falls for the first time
  • Zack Bruick stopped through on the way to his summer internship, enjoyed a fun day hiking the Gorge and checking out the Falls

Life Events: 

  • My niece/goddaughter Madelyn Jo was born and baptized
  • attended weddings for 5 friends and had the honor of being in Becky and Benjamin’s
  • celebrating the eternal life (while grieving the loss of earthly lives of Christopher and Carl)
  • Mom and Dad’s 35th wedding anniversary

Work Highights:

  • Kicking off the year on a mission trip in Florida with an awesome group of young adults
  • Celebrated 5 year anniversary at First Trinity
  • Began launch process for College Small groups 
  • Moved into a new office as part of the preschool renovations
  • Witnessed some youth and young adults be baptized, confirmed, or become members
  • Took an online course about college ministry 
  • Workcamp Mission Trip to Bluefield VA/WV

A Few Favorite Songs of 2015:

  • Forever Faithful by Holly Starr
  • You Fight For Us by Josh Lavender
  • Trust In You by Lauren Daigle
  • Sparrow by Audrey Assad
  • Symphonies by Natalie Grant

Favorites of the 33+ Books I Read:

  • The Invisible Girls by Sarah Thebarge
  • Mission at Neuremburg by Tim Townsend
  • The Dating Manifesto by Lisa Anderson
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
  • When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story
  • Joining Jesus On His Mission by Greg Finke
  • Just Show Up by Kara Tippets

Other Odds and Ends

  • Watched countless sunsets by the river (my favorite place of 2015)
  • Went Ice Skating at Canaleside (among many other awesome things) with my little sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Monday meals with friends in November
  • Meals, coffee dates, and  game nights with friends
  • Cherished moments of laughter and sillyness with awesome kids in my life near and far
  • Logged 58 miles running, 107 miles walking/hiking, 101 miles biking (plus all the miles I didn’t track) (Goal for 2016: log at least 365 miles) 
  • Started blogging again and am looking forward to keeping it up in 2016!

Tomorrow I’ll share one final list of some of the things God taught me in 2015! 

Thank you, God, for this beautiful year! 


      Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Joy, Random

      A weary world…rejoices

      Sometimes a good day starts with a simple choice before you even get out of bed that it’s going to be a good day no matter what happens. 

      This past week has been one in which sin and its impact on the world has been making itself very clear.  From personal issues all the way up to a global level I think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced some degree of brokenness, grief, destruction, pain, sickness, or the like. And it’s safe to say that because this past week is not unlike any week before that all the way down through human history to our very first ancestors Adam and Eve.  In a moment, they stepped outside of God’s great plan and protection for them, and the weariness of sin has been a companion ever since.

      Now, before I go on, I must say that I’m pretty much a “traditionalist” when it comes to waiting until after Thanksgiving for Christmas music, decorations, etc. However, having also been in choirs most of my life I’ve always gotten to cheat a little.  Last night, as I was in a rehearsal preparing for a Christmas Vespers concert in a couple weeks from now, this phrase struck me in a way it never had before:

      “The weary world rejoices”

      It struck me first in its description of the world and how accurate it feels right now, at least from my perspective… Weary. But what that weary world does is what’s so facinating, it rejoices!  The context of the original lyrics tells us why:

      “A thrill of hope

      The weary world rejoices

      For yonder breaks

      A new and glorious morn”

      In other words, our weary world, our weary communities, our weary churches, homes, and hearts can rejoice because this is not the end. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we can hope in a new day that is coming, a day with no more pain, war, sickness, disease, abuse, or shame.

      “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:1-5‬ ESV)‬‬

      A new weary-free world is coning! But for now we live in the paradox.  The things around us are often overwhelming. But we have a choice, and often that choice is made before we even get out of bed each day.  Things are going to happen today that will likely make me weary.  Is the weariness going to overcome me and make me go through today wishing I’d never gotten out of bed? Or am I going to take God at His Word that not only is there hope in a day coming where the whole world will be made new, but that He’s already working on it and because today is a day He has made, my weary heart can find reason to rejoice?  I don’t often get this right, but today I’ve made my choice:

      This IS the day the Lord has made, let us (even when we’re weary) rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)


      Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen, Random

      When Advent Gets a Little Weird

      Daily devotions by my advent wreath”
      Advent Card ‘Calendar’ Tradition
      “Cookie Baking with friends”
      Sing in the Vespers Choir
      “Use more paper plates” …

      Wait, what?!?
      How did paper plates make their way onto my mental “Ways to celebrate Advent this year” list?!?

      To be honest, I’m not exactly sure.

      Maybe it’s an excuse to be lazy.
      Maybe it’s just flat out weird.
      However somehow, as I explored the Advent Conspiracy phrases of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All, I found myself wondering if perhaps those few minutes it takes to wash the dishes each day could be better spent somewhere else.

      A ten minute drive around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights
      An extra moment to write a Christmas card to a soldier or missionary
      The chance to hit the snooze button or simply sit quietly on the couch during an often busy, stressful season

      A theme God is teaching me a lot about in my life right now is the idea of holding both myself and others to a standard of pure grace rather than perfection and some days that means paper plates.

      Sure there will still be pots and pans to wash. And of course, sometimes I may choose to get out the even fancier dishes than my normal dishware, but as I think about ways to care for myself and others this Advent season, I’m glad “paper plates” made the list.



      Unexpected Family at 32,000 feet

      To anyone walking past row 6 on flight 3699 to Chicago Monday morning, it likely seemed all three of us passengers were together despite knowing practically nothing about the man and woman in seats A and B.

      Having had an busy morning making final preparations to leave town for a few days, I was just getting a chance to able to pull out my Bible and journal as I climbed aboard the puddle jumper plane. As I settled into my seat 32,000 feet in the air, I also was able to settle into God’s Presence and read words from His holy book that somehow so powerfully calm my soul.

      But I found myself distracted in the most wonderful of ways. Soon after take-off the man next to me pulls his Bible out of the seatback in front of him and the woman I assume is his wife does the same. And there we sit, strangers, yet family, taking in God’s Word, feeding on it as we sip our 4 oz cups of juice provided by the stewardess.

      If that wasn’t enough of a beautiful picture, I look up from my journal at one point just in time to see the man reach across the aisle, grab his wife’s hand, and hold it gently, only letting go to let the flight attendant pass with the beverage cart. No words were exchanged, I don’t even think there was a glance in her direction. Just a man and a woman, connecting with their Savior, each other, and without them knowing it, me, their fellow sister. Perhaps those people passing row 6 are right… we ARE “together.”

      We are family.


      First Trinity, Random

      God’s Word is Strong!

      One of the most common reasons some people struggle to believe Christianity and/or Jesus is true comes down to a simple game of “telephone”.

      You’ve all played the game before: One person starts with a phrase and whispers it to the next person. That person whispers it to another and so on, until it gets to the last person. What makes this “telephone” game fun is the fact that by the time the last person receives the message, “The cow jumped over the moon” somehow mysteriously turns into “My cat escaped from the zoo.” We see this in real life too, right? We called it gossip or the rumor mill. The truth gets twisted in 16 different ways as it moves from person to person.

      Because much of the Bible was passed on orally for many years before it was written down, people just assume that somehow the message must have changed along the way. If “The cow jumped over the moon” can’t pass through 6 people accurately sitting in the same room, how can we trust that whole Biblical accounts could be passed on from generation to generation to generation and still be 100% without fault?

      Well, the answer is quite simple:

      I got to see this in action this past Sunday when I had a chance to play an extreme game of “telephone” while leading the children’s message in worship. I started out sharing a message with a few of the kids and then asked them to go share it 3-4 other people out in the congregation. Then, each of the people who heard the message were to pass it along until everyone in the sanctuary had heard the message. Here’s where the risk came in: I then asked the whole congregation, on the count of 3, to say what they heard.

      The possibility for disaster was great and I was dreading trying to make the connection with the theme that needed to be made if the message came back all mixed up. But it was time to see the results and when “3” came around, the message echoed clearly through the sanctuary:

      “Jesus is alive and He loves you!”

      At first I was amazed that it actually worked! (Especially since some of my first messengers where only a few years old!). Then it was relief that I could finish my message as planned. But as I walked back from up front, I remembered:

      God’s Word is strong!

      It has power unlike anything else! It’s indestructible. In Matthew 24:35 we read:

      “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away”

      And we see these verses in Isaiah:

      “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (40:8)

      “[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (55:11)

      I’m so thankful for things like “risky” children’s messages that God can use to remind me of simple, but POWERFUL truths about who He is and the beautiful gift He’s given us in His Word!

      So whatever joy or struggle you’re in the midst of, remember this: God’s Word is strong and powerful and God longs for that strength and power to be unleashed in our lives each and every day!

      (Oh and P.S. Jesus is alive and He LOVES you! … Now go tell a friend!)