Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Prayer Runs, Running

On Hand-Holding…

I see it as the preschool students walk through the halls of church, delighting in the fact that it’s their turn to slip their tiny fingers into the slightly larger ones of the teacher.  Or as my “Little Sister” (through Big Brothers Big Sisters) finds a way to juggle the stuff she’s carrying just so she can have an open hand to reach over and grab mine.

There’s just something comforting about hand-holding.  It’s such a simple touch, yet powerful.  As I headed out to run and pray for Sam this morning, I had some Scripture playing through my headphones.  I realized Saturday that 4-miles is along time to stay focused on praying and thought maybe some music or Scripture would help me focus my prayers for beautiful Samantha Love.  Just steps into my run, God started blowing me away with His Word and even now, and hour after returning, His Words are still echoing, bouncing off the walls of my  heart.

Isaiah 43 has especially been on my heart a lot lately, but as I ran this morning, praying for Sam, the words of verse 13 sunk even deeper into my soul:

For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”

As those words played through my headphones, I could just picture God, the One whose hand only verses before was describe as being able to mark off the heavens with its span and hold all the water of the world in the hallow of it (Isaiah 40:12), that same hand was, in that moment reaching down and taking hold of Sam’s hand, of Grace’s hand, reminding them: I’m right here.  I can only imagine the heartache Grace must have felt days ago as she had to let go of that little girl’s hands and fly 5,577 miles away. So as I ran, I prayed for Grace’s heart to be comforted knowing that God is holding her little girl’s hand and will never let her go.

As my feet ran the distance, God’s truth ran deeper in my heart: He holds MY hand, too. 

Right now, in moments when a little comfort would be nice, He’s there saying “Don’t fear, my child, I’m walking with you.”  He’s holding the hand of my brother-in-law who will soon leave the comfort of his home and the joy of holding his daughter and wife’s hands to go to fight for our freedom in this country.  He’s with Elizabeth and Karlie, holding their hands as Kevin is away.  He’s holding the hand of a beautiful friend of mine facing a series of struggles that just don’t ever seem to end.  His fingers interlock with my teammates and the volunteers at church constantly guiding and directing us into His vision and plan.  He holds the hands of the high school students and young adults I interact with each week in these moments of transition and decision in their lives.  He holds the family and friends far away from me whose hands I wish I could hold right now as they walk through trials and joyful celebration and everything in between.

He hold’s our hands.

And there is comfort in His grasp despite anything going on around us.

Bekah's Heart, Music, Poetry/Songs

The Walls that Divide

This afternoon, I found myself thinking about a lot of things.

Mostly… about the walls that often divide us… walls in schools, homes, churches, friendships, and more.

These walls often come from areas of pain in our individual lives.

Following is a musical response I wrote this afternoon… not perfect… recorded only on my computer in my spare bedroom… voice cracking at times due to the cold I think I’m starting to get… but for whatever it’s worth… here’s my prayer that God would begin to restore our lives and as he does so, restore some of the brokenness in our relationships and in our world.

(If you’re reading this in some kind of blog reader, you’ll likely have to go to my actual website to listen.)

 

 

 

The Walls That Divide

Verse 1: The rain outside my window
Echoes rain inside
Of souls I walk past
Each and every day
Their storms of life
Overwhelm
Darkness looms
Shame destroys
Lord, please shine your light

 

Chorus: Break through the walls ’round our hearts
The hurt and the pain I see everyday
Restore our lives, I pray
Break through the walls that divide
Teach us to love, to care, and to serve
Restore our world today
Please break through

 

Verse 2: I am so frustrated by all the hurt I see
People caring less and less about humanity
How did we get so rotten?
How did we get so mean?
Gossip and lies
Please, open our eyes
Lord, please make us clean (Chorus)

 

Verse 3: Alone we are so powerless
Together we are strong
And with God on our side we will be defeated no more
Let us stand up and fight the enemy that seeks to destroy.
Instead, Lord, restore. Please have your way in me. (Chorus)

 

Bridge:
Break through.
Break through.
Break through, today.
Break through the hate
Break through the judgement.
Break through the walls that divide.  (Chorus)

 

 

Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Cleaning House.

Cleaning house.

Okay so really it’s an apartment, but whatever.

 

Most of the time, I keep (most of) my living space pretty neat.  Certain areas of generally more “homey” and less organized than others.  For example, my kitchen is one place that I can’t STAND to be messy.  Yet, in my music/craft/prayer/extra room rarely does everything have a “place” (unless of course you count the floor as it’s place). 

Somehow over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself getting in occasional moods to clean beyond what I normally do.  To sort all of the papers/mail/sermon notes/etc. collected in one certain pile under the end table in my living room. … to organize my music… to look through what was left in the the last of the boxes marked “random/misc” from my move to NY back in July. 

 

As I’ve done this, I’ve re-realized a fact about cleaning: things always tend to seem worse before they get better.  For example, you have to make big piles of the laundry while sorting it before it can get washed and put away.  Or like yesterday when in putting away the boxes of Christmas decorations (they’ve been down since January but are just now making it back to storage in my spare closet) I began to look through some of the other boxes in my closet.  Realizing I did not need much of the stuff left in the aforementioned “random/misc” boxes I began to sort.  The room that was completely clean before this endeavor is now littered with boxes, labelled (in my mind) “still to sort”, “throw away”, “keep”, “give away”. 

 

When cleaning houses, they often get messier before they get clean.

 

Maybe the same is true of our hearts.  God steps in knowing that we’ve made a mess and that he can clean it up.  But often it has to get messier before it can be clean.  He has to undo the disorganization, undo the broken, undo what got us into the mess in the first place in order to restore us to the way he desires us to be. 

 

This messier phase is uncomfortable and discouraging at times.  As I look around at the boxes spread across my room right now (and the spaces of my heart), I see the mess and am tempted to give up.  “It’s just too big of a task,” I think.  “Why did I even start doing this?  It was fine before, right?  I don’t want to make decisions about what to keep, what to give, what to throw away.  I don’t want to sort through the boxes of random and miscellaneous.   I just want to shove everything back into those boxes, put the lid on, throw it back in the closet, and forget about it again.”

 

But I know what needs to happen…

 

I need to walk back into the spare room and finish the job… sorting, tossing, giving away and put everything back where it belongs. 

 

I need to take the lid back off of my heart and let God come do his work.

 

He comes graciously… to show me what to treasure and keep… to reveal what needs to get thrown out or maybe recycled… to show me what I have been keeping that he he’s given me so that I can give it away.  He comes graciously to sort it all out… and to take back over the space where HE belongs. 

 

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“Jesus, come and walk the halls of this house
Tread this place and turn it inside out
With Your mercy…
Jesus, teach us the prayers that open these doors
Until Your light floods in and illuminates these floors
And let Your truth be on our steps and in these rooms
Jesus invade!”  (Lyrics to “Invade” by Watermark)

Bekah's Heart, Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

It’s Kinda Like Making Bread…

Upon returning home from work today, I decided I would NOT try to go out to volleyball tonight.  The roads weren’t too bad but after almost getting stuck 3 times going in/out of the church parking lot today, I decided not to press my luck (for lack of a better phrase).  Instead, seeing multiple unused yeast packets in my fridge, I decided to make some bread. 

 

As this process has gone on this evening, I’ve realized that sometimes what God is doing in our life is kind of a lot like making bread, especially the process of kneading the dough. 

 

There seem to be a rhythm to it… a process… repeated… necessary … for the bread to turn out.  

 

Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.

 

I feel like we’re constantly somewhere in this process as God shapes us into who he wants us to be.  As I look back over the past few months, I see God working in my life like a baker works with dough.  There have been some areas of my life where God has come and said, “Let me knead some Truth into that, Bekah.”

 

DSCF9213But kneading it’s not always a pleasant process.  Some descriptors in the kneading section of the recipe I used tonight were “punch,”  “squeeze,”  “stretch,” “pound,” “twist”.  When we think about the possibility of God doing these things in our lives… to our hearts, it does not sound like a very fun process.  

 

Oh, but God understands the need to knead. 

 

He’s got to work that yeast, His Truth, through our whole lives.  Sometimes that truth comes like a punch to the gut.  Other times he needs to stretch us out of our comfort zone.  Sometimes it comes as a pound on the door of our heart simply saying, “Something’s not right here. Let me fix it.” 

 

As God continues to knead our lives, it hurts, but it’s good.  It also takes time.  Those 10 minutes (or 10 hours, or 10 months, or 10 years) seem like forever, but God knows the perfect amount of time needed to knead. 

 

I also realized that the process isn’t exactly the most exciting for the Kneader as well… the punching, the squeezing, the stretching, the pounding, the twisting… it’s hard work.  And maybe that’s what it means to know that we are His “workmanship”. 

 

DSCF9214 And then, in the perfect time, the kneading ends, at least for a while, and the dough is shaped and placed in a ball in a bowl, covered with a towel and left alone. 

 

Sometimes when God’s been working on us for so long… for those 10 days or weeks or months or years, it kind of seems weird for the kneading to stop.  I mean it seems in my life that just when I get used to the kneading, and finally believe the Baker for its necessity, that’s when He says, “Okay, now it’s time to rest.”  Sometimes it even feels as if I’ve simply been beat up and left alone.  But God does not leave, he only knows our need to rest and let His Truth do its work… to rise up in our hearts and bring healing to the areas where he’s punched, squeezed, and stretched us.

 

But again, that’s often not the end of the process.  After the certain time… known by the Baker alone, the process begins again…. the punching, the pounding, the twisting, the shaping.  Again, it’s crucial, it has to happen.  There is a need for our lives to be kneaded… shaped again and again by the Master Baker.

DSCF9215 

And then He tells us to rest once more, letting Truth rise up in our hearts.

 DSCF9216

Again and again this process takes place.

 

Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.

 

Through the process we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing.  The dough doesn’t knead itself… the dough doesn’t know how long to wait in the resting period… the dough doesn’t know how many times it needs to be kneaded before going to the oven.  But the Baker does. 

 

Lord, teach me to give in to Your kneading… Your pounding, Your twisting, Your stretching and squeezing… and help me to rest when I just need to let your Truth rise up in my soul.

DSCF9223

Bekah's Heart, Internship Highlights

‘Tis Good, Lord, To Be Here

Today was a beautiful day.  I’m currently back at school in Nebraska for a Mid-Year Conference with all of the DCE interns from all over the world. These few days back on campus are hard to describe.  Most of us interns have used the word “weird” in that description more times than we probably can count.  It’s this interesting dynamic of loving this place but not really fitting in… at least not in the way we have in the past.  Our roles have shifted, and that’s okay.  In the midst of this awkward, indescribable, mid-way check point, it has been such a blessing to just see God presence everywhere I turn.  Here are just a few examples of where that was found today alone:

  •  A conversation with a beautiful woman with whom I’ve literally had one prior face to face conversation with before, yet somehow our hearts just know each other.  I don’t get it, but was so thankful for our time together this morning and God’s presence there.
  • Chapel.  I miss chapel.  What a wonderful REST was found in the very SIMPLE yet profound proclamation of the Gospel today as it was describe as a song, a melody that can, in a way, be the “background” music to our life.
  • Lunch (at Dragon Palace) with fellow interns, talking about anything and everything and nothing.
  • A chance to share with other DCE students our experiences and where we’ve seen God at work through our internships.
  • Being able to “pick up” friendships where they left off and just get straight to what really matters… to know and be known.  

As corny as it may sound, I really felt like the last verse of a hymn we sang in chapel today encapsulates this trip back to Concordia for me.

’Tis good, Lord, to be here.
Yet we may not remain;
But since Thou bidst us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.

It is so wonderful to be able to reflect and see all the many ways God has blessed my life through Concordia… to be able to come back and be overwhelmed in a good way… to realize the number of people through whom God has blessed me and made me who I am.  But now, as good as it is to be here, it’s obvious that this is not where I belong right now… and God comes with me to what’s next.

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Lord, ’tis truly good to be here… to behold Your beauty… to see You at work in my life and the lives of others… to hear and remember your gospel melody that accompanies my life.  And now, as I prepare to wrap this time here up, may You remind me of your promise to go with me and continue to open my heart and ears to that beautiful melody of Your love.  ‘Tis good Lord, to be Your child.  Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Questions

Questions.  They surround us everyday. Some arise over trivial things that really don’t matter much.  Others pound at the door of our hearts begging for answers. 

 

Questions like “What now?” when one loses his job. 

Questions like “How long?” when a loved one hears that dreaded “C” word, “Cancer”. 

Questions like “WHY?!?” when a loved one is taken from this earth “too soon.”

 

Though, as much as we desperately want answers, maybe we’re not supposed to get them…at least not now.  In a conversation today, Sue she shared with me this quote by Rainer Maria Rilke:

"Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer"

 

I think maybe Jesus was trying to tell us something similar when he spoke these words:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  … So do not worry… but seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

 

Each day will have it’s trouble.

Each day will have its questions.

Maybe instead of pounding at heaven’s door

demanding answers,

we can simply

come,

rest in our Savior’s embrace,

and let him quiet us with His love.

 

 

My dear child, I know you have questions… questions that your heart longs to have answered.  In my time and in my way, I will reveal those things.  But for now, just live.  Don’t beat yourself to death trying to find all the answers … just live in me.  Live in my love.  Live in my GRACE.  And I will keep giving you more grace…. and more grace… and more grace. …  and one day, you will have lived yourself into the answers and will forever live in a place with no more questions.  I love you, My child.  Come.  Let Me quiet you with My love.

Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights

Collision: Mend the Broken

Well we did it!  We survived the first “road trip” planned by Bekah. :)  As promised yesterday, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience this weekend at Acquire the Fire in Cleveland, OH with 16 teens and 2 other awesome adult leaders.  The theme this year for this conference was Mend the Broken.

 

DSCF7078 I guess I’ll just go through the weekend chronologically to give you an idea of what we experienced and learned.

 

The first session on Friday night started with worship led by a band called School Of WorshipThey led us in worship all weekend and it was always an amazing time to just enter into God’s presence and give him praise before hearing Mike Guzzardo share God’s Word with us.  FridayDSCF7088 night Mike shared with us that our lives are kind of like broken down cars that need refurbished.  First we have to let God take us out of the junkyard so that he can begin to take us a part and clean every little part of us…. it takes time and he has to get into every little deep place, but then, once we’re clean on the inside, he can begin to rebuild us in a way where we can think and live how he originally intended us. 

 

The night ended with a Newsboys Concert during which we got to be a part of the video recording for a music video.  They said they only use a live audience DSCF7060for a music video once every 2 or 3 years and they picked Acquire the Fire- Cleveland, OH to be that audience.  Watch for their video for the song “Miracles” coming out soon and see if you see any of First Trinity Crossroads group in  there!

 

After that we headed back to Lutheran High School West in Rocky Road, OH which was gracious enough to let us use their facilities to sleep and shower this weekend!  A youth group from Hosanna Lutheran Church nearby also joined us Friday night at Lutheran West.

Saturday morning started bright and early (for high schoolers) at 8:00 am and was broken into three sessions all including worship, a message, and part of a drama that continued all throughout the day. 

 

The first session Saturday tackled some difficult issues that teenagers (and all of us) face today regarding pornography, sex before marriage, same sex attraction and more. Teens were challenged to join “The Resistance” when they struggle with these or any sins in their lives committing to purity in heart, mind and body.  An organization called CovenantEyes.com also provided students with a 30-day trial of an internet filtering and accountability software that they produce.

 

The afternoon session was about failure and how we deal with it.  We were reminded that just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we won’t fail (see Proverbs 24:15) it means that God helps us get up when we fail and that we don’t have to be defined by our failures. 

The afternoon also included 2 concerts, one by Young Joshua and the other by Jimmy Needham

 

After dinner we went back for the last session which was about how our world tries to get us to focus on The Me-World .. my problems, my stuff, my fun.   God calls us in our new refurbished  life to focus on the HE-World …. the things of God’s heart… whether that’s serving your neighbor next door or going overseas, we all can start now making changes in our lives to shift and “get away from ME”.

 

Our weekend wrapped up by attending St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesterfield, OH on our way back to NY.  They were very welcoming, had a beautiful sanctuary and there was some AMAZING scenery on our drive  between the high way and the church.  Think, curvy hilly roads with gorgeous houses lined with trees still dressed in autumn colors yet covered with snow.  BEAUTIFUL!  Definitely added meaning to the term “scenic route”. 

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Overall it was an AWESOME weekend filled with fun and, I pray, spiritual growth.  Those of you from First Trinity, take a chance to ask one of the kids about it… them sharing with you is one thing that can help continue the growth that began this weekend. Thanks again for your prayers and support!

 

 

 

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Here’s a video summary put out by the Acquire the Fire organization. (You can see some of our group members at around 1:42).