God-Sighting Saturday

God-Sighting Saturday – I SPY HIM IN HIS WORD

Wooo hoo!!! I actually remembered my God-Sighting Saturday post this week!!! 🙂  While there are countless places I saw God this week, I wanted to focus on a couple ways I saw Him in/through His Word this week.

1.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the current Short Course at First Trinity focusing on the I AM statements of Jesus. This past Monday we focused on the passage in John 8 where Jesus says, “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.” What a blessing it was to gather with over 50 people and focus in on the truth of God being light in this dark, dark world.  Even cooler, is that God calls US the light of the world as well.

2. Sharing the simplicity yet amazing-ness of Jesus’ love with the preschoolers at chapel.  When you give God’s love away, there’s always more!

3. In my personal devotion time, I’ve been focusing in on various names for God.  Three of the names I focused on this week (Rock, Support, and Fortress), came from 2 Samuel 22 where David is singing a song of praise to God.  At first I struggled figuring out where I’ve seen God as “fortress” in my life.  I get the concept but any thing I could think of seemed more like “Rock” or “Refuge”.  After some reflection, and a visit to dictionary.com, I guess what stood out to me as different with fortress is that it’s a BIG thing… all the definitions were about whole fortified TOWNS.  As I looked at other scriptures where God is called fortress, it was often connected with the words “rock” or strength”, at one point salvation itself is described as a fortress, it’s a place you go to in times of trouble, and it’s never closed to us.  Suddenly as this all came together, it became so clear to me that God is often my fortress through people.  He surrounds me, often with lots of people (thinking BIG), it’s especially evident in times of trouble, though is always there to go to. 🙂  Reflecting on how I needed God to reveal Himself to me in that specific day as refuge, I realized that GOD is my fortress so when I’m in Him, there is no need for me to worry about trying to protect myself.  Instead, He calls me to live my life in the safety of HIS protection and simply be who He’s made me to be.  Such freedom.

4.  Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. … talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up… write them on the doorframes of your houses…”

Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

A Need to Be Kneaded

After my post about making bread last night, I decided to investigate WHY bread needs to be kneaded.  As I did a google search and read what www.wisegeek.com had to say about it, I was amazed at how God was STILL speaking to me through the simple act of baking bread.

 

Check out one of the reason behind kneading:

“One of the most important things that takes place during the kneading process is the development of gluten. As the flour that makes up the dough is moistened and stirred, the gluten begins to form and also gains in strength as the dough is subjecting to the kneading process. Gluten can be thought of as the binding agent within the dough, allowing the loaf to take on a cohesive texture that will allow the substance to not fall apart during baking.”

Do you see it?  Do you see the connections?!?

 

Yesterday in my post I was talking about God kneading truth into my life.  As this happens… I get stronger. 

 

As I submit to the kneading process… something that would probably be labeled as “weak” in this world… I actually gain strength. 

 

That truth works with the other ingredients that make up everyday life and becomes the binding agent that holds my life together and allows me to not fall apart when the tough times occur.

 

Bread of Life, knead Your truth into my life every moment of everyday!  Remind me to submit to this process, that I may gain strength to face whatever comes my way.

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, Blessing, Joy

Vacations are for Detours

I come ‘round the last curve in the road.  A smile grows on my face as contentment grows in my soul.   If I wasn’t sure before, I’m now convinced that this impromptu detour down “J-Hill” road was a great idea.

I can’t wait to get down the drive and park the car, quick turning off the radio allowing for the silence this place demands. 

I look around for a rock to carry up. Unsuccessful, but decide the rocks don’t have to be literal, my figurative ones will work just fine for today.

The ascent begins and I ponder… Was it really nearly 10 years ago that I made this climb for the first time?  I also recall some of the “rocks” I laid down here nearly a decade ago… some of the same burdens I’ve come here to lay down again today. 

I pass the crossbar and continue the hike, thankful that the frozen ground makes this journey a little easier than the typical summer day with shifting dirt and sliding rocks.  Near the top, I finally turn around.  The awe-inspiring view steals my breath once again.  

As if there were an automatic recording, the familiar tune and words begin to come out of my mouth…. “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary…”

I ponder again… how many times have I climbed this hill?  How many times have I sung that song?  How many rocks have I laid here… my sins, my burdens, my hurts, my joys.

I linger for a while but eventually begin the hike down to the car… hearing in my head the instructions that for many years came out of my mouth… “If you turn your feet sideways it makes it easier to get down without slipping.”  (As this thought passes through my head, I also slightly regret not changing into the gym shoes that were in the trunk.)

On my way down I pay specially attention to the names that remain on weather-worn rocks.

Luke.

Kylie.

Trina.

Julius.   I pause a little longer here.   

I wonder… What burdens or pains or hurts or sins might he have left there with his rock only weeks before he left every burden behind forever and went to the place of no more tears. 

Luke.

Anneka.

The names and rocks continue, some more familiar than others.  Each name representing the same thing…  a life changed in this place.  Each rock carries a story… one often known by God alone.   Each rock left there together forms a certain shape reminding… We are free.  Over the last decade, hundreds have made that same climb leaving behind their “junk.” And now, collectively, that “junk” is somehow able to point to our risen Lord.  To God Alone be the Glory!

Thanks God for today… for that spontaneous voice in my head that prompted my journey to 7821 Lyons Creek Road… one of the places in this world that has the label “home” in my heart … a place that gives a little glimpse into what our forever home will be like.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Uncategorized

Joyfullyblessed … And rejoicing today!

Have you ever found yourself staring at a situation in life wondering how you’d ever get through it?  The mountain is just too big to climb.  The burden is too much to bear.  The weight is just too heavy.  It is just IMPOSSIBLE to overcome.

Now, have you ever gotten through one of those situations and looked back on it.  Have you ever stood at the top of that mountain, realizing that somehow you actually have overcome?

4 years ago I was a college freshmen, not even a month into the crazy college experience.  I enjoyed life with my new friends and was excited about the adventures that lay ahead. 

4 years ago today, I was also involved in a car accident that changed a lot of things in life.  The naivety of youth … of thinking “it’ll never happen to me,” was stripped away as my friend and I were pulled from a twisted piece of metal with the Jaws of Life, surprising some that we made it out alive. 

At times .  I wondered when the images of the collision would stop playing on repeat in my mind, but eventually they did.   Then, I wondered if a day would pass that I wouldn’t think of the accident and it’s impact on my life…. and the life of my friend… yet that day, and many more since, came.  But SURELY I would NEVER ride, let alone drive, in car again without thinking of that horrible day, right?  Wrong. Most days now it doesn’t even cross my mind.

So, I stop today and remember that day, September 21, 2006… but not with the same confusing emotions that surrounded that event and the time that followed…  no, I remember it today and rejoice!

I rejoice in the fact that I’m still alive.

I rejoice that broken friendships have been healed.

I rejoice in an overcoming Savior that helps me overcome.

As I think about this, and the many things we face which seem “IMPOSSIBLE” to overcome, I’m reminded of a verse from one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 77.  The first part of the Psalm basically outlines how it seems as if God just isn’t listening and there’s no way out of the situation.  Then, suddenly the Psalmist switches focus…

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
       the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
       yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

12 I will meditate on all your works
       and consider all your mighty deeds.

13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
       What god is so great as our God?

Even in the midst of things that seem “impossible” to overcome it often, it helps to look back and realize where we’ve seen God already at work… in His Word and in our own lives.  As we meditate on His works and consider His mighty deeds, it gives us hope to continue on and climb the mountain in front of us.

Truly, the days and months that followed my accident 4 years ago, were difficult.  Yet, I stand here today and can truly REJOICE in the faithfulness of our God … and overcoming Savior who leads us through life… but the joys and the challenges!

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Music

Joyfullyblessed… To Let Go!

For those of you who are still getting to know me out here in NY, you will soon learn that I love music (and writing really long blogs).  I love playing my guitar. I love attempting to play piano. I love writing songs. I love listening to music (of many kinds).  I simply enjoy music.  Whether playing, listening to it live, or jammin’ out to the radio in the car, music just seems to convey life in a way that doesn’t happen any other way.

 

Recently, I’ve enjoyed listening to Francesca Battistelli’s CD called My Paper Heart. While many of her songs are awesome, one in particular, “I’m Letting Go” stuck out to me today and seems to fit my crazy life the past few months.

Check out some of the lyrics from this song:

This is a giant leap of faith Trusting and trying to embrace the fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone

 

Chorus: I’m letting go of the life I planned for me and my dreams
I’m losing control of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling but that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go

Giving in to your gravity
Knowing You are holding me I’m not afraid

Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
Feels like I”m falling and this is the life for me

“Trying to embrace the fear of the unknown.”  This phrase triggers many thoughts for me.

I think of my friend’s blog post that I read this morning talking about how instead of shrinking back in fear we can have courage to stand firm and go through whatever scary experience life brings us.

I think about the fear I’ve unconsciously let myself be held captive by this past week and the peace in being set free from it.

I think about the “What-ifs” and “How’ll” that were mentioned in staff devotions on Tuesday… and the many “Whatifs” and “How’lls” I’ve been asking:

  • What if I fail this year on my internship?” (While a ridiculously broad worry and very unlikely, I know that all of you, my intern friends out there, have had this thought cross your mind!)
  • How will I have enough money to pay for tuition and then after this, how will I ever get my student loans paid off?
  • ”What will happen after internship?” (Kind of long term… maybe I should at least let my worries be more time appropriate. 🙂

On and on I could go listing one after another, but they all really can be summarized by this one:

What if God really ISN’T enough for me?”

Well, when you put it that way, it seems really ridiculous to even think about.  Of course God is enough… He’s GOD!!!  But I still question and I still worry and long to understand!

That’s where we get back to why I love this song so much.  It doesn’t ignore the uneasy feeling that often remains when trying to trust in our Almighty God, the Ultimate Provider, Comforter, and Friend.  We want to trust, but many times, trust really does make us feel like we’re falling….but, as the song says…

“That’s what it’s like to believe”

And it ends saying that “this is the life for me.”

 

As God’s children, we are called sometimes to a crazy life… not one of security and complete understanding of how God will make everything work, but rather  one of freefall trust… taking that “leap of faith” and … giving in to “God’s gravity.”  In 1 Peter, God even tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised to face times when it’s hard to believe: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial that you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participated in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (4:12-13)

Below are some other verses that I’ve found helpful recently in this “freefall” called trust.  Maybe by holding onto these and the rest of God’s Word we can let God get rid of our fear and replace it with peace in knowing that He really DOES have everything in control.

 

God, please grant us the grace to be able to let go and believe!  AMEN!

 

Isaiah 46:3-4 “Listen to me… you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth.  Even to your old age and gray hairs I AM HE.  I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

 Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might… free those who all their lives where held in slavery by their fear…”

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Matthew 6:25,27,33  “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. … Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  … Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

(The pictures are of me and a fellow camp counselor climbing to the top of a 50 foot pole and then jumping off a couple summers ago at camp.  They just seemed to fit with this blog.)