Lent, Prayer

Can I Just Get a Little Space?

Have you ever had a situation with a friend or family member in which you hit a point in the conversation where one or both of you just needs to hit “pause” and get some space. You need to go to another room and continue the chat at another time. This could be in good situations, but often these things pop up in conflict or hard seasons.

The hope is not to walk away forever, but just for a moment, to take a break, maybe to calm down, to regroup your thoughts before engaging again.

A couple weeks ago I had one of these situations, except it was with God. I had a conversation with a mentor that afternoon that involved some conversations about and with God that were good, but hard. Then, I went to church in the evening and the conversations with God continued as His Word was spoken and we responded in prayer as a group. Individually, the dialogue continued as a I wrestled with what God was up to in a few areas of my life.

As I walked to my car to drive the 40 minutes home, I have to admit, I was at a point like I described above where I just needed to “go to another room” and revisit the conversation with God at another time. We’d been talking for hours at this point and I felt my soul just needed a break. Yet, as soon as that thought crossed my mind, some other words came to mind as well… words from Psalm 139… a psalm filled with words that I’ve been working all year to memorize, to hide in my heart. In this moment though, I stubbornly wished they would have stayed hidden…

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in the depths, you are there!

Psalm 139:7-8

Not quite what I wanted to hear in that moment.

You can’t really “go to another room” with the God of the Universe. While I do think God is gracious to give us space when we need it, the other truth is He’s always there whether we like it or not. He can’t not be there. He’s God.

Just like in the situations I described in the first paragraph, even with God I think there are times when some space is good and healthy. Time away can provide opportunity to come back to a conversation refreshed, it calms emotions, and helps us think and communicate more clearly. But in this situation with God, and in some conversations with humans, the desire for space may also be us running away at the first sign of discomfort.

I fully believe God would have been okay with me finding some completely unrelated podcast, distracting myself, and ignoring Him for a while. And later on that night I did give myself some space, but in that moment as I started my drive, I also sensed an invitation before me.

I didn’t like what I was hearing or what my heart was feeling. I didn’t like seeing my sin and struggle. I didn’t like hearing myself name the ways I was feeling disappointed or hurt by God. Even the good parts I just didn’t want to talk about anymore.

Again, I think God would have graciously let me return to the conversation later, but His Spirit also brought those verses to mind as a way of inviting me to stay in that messy hard place. It was a reminder that I didn’t have to get myself together or have my thoughts all figured out before I journeyed further in the conversation with Him.

He was offering to sit with me as I drove home and listen to it all.

He gave a different kind of space. Instead of distance, He provided a safe space to be real and honest and vulnerable. He brought other psalms to mind where the authors were way more confused and scared and upset than I was in that night. He showed me, that even in moments when I wanted to walk away, even if just for a moment, He never would.

In a world where we are quick to dismiss others when the slightest hint of conflict appears…

In a culture where any slight misstep gets you cancelled…

In environments where tension is avoided at all costs and we’d rather write off relationships instead of staying in the hard conversations and sticking in it through to the other side…

In those places, we realize the stark contrast of a God who stays and says, “I will never leave you. I’m not afraid of conflict. I’m not afraid of your anger. I’m not worried by tension. I’m with you. Always. I will see you through to the other side.”

He’ll never push Himself on us, yet, He also won’t give up easily. He’ll show up, again and again.

Whether the fact that God is ever-present feels like a gift or an annoyance today, may it lead your heart into a place of peace. In that space, may you know His hand is leading you, holding you. Always. Forever.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139:7-10)

66 in 52 Challenge, Bible Journaling, Devotional

Things Worth Lamenting in 2018

Reading in the book of Lamentations this week has me thinking about what it even means to “lament”. As a noun, the first definition that comes up in a google search is: “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”  I’ve been pondering throughout this week what is worth lamenting over in our own world. Instantly, that thought alone brought tears to my eyes. It feels there is much to lament and yet it’s something we don’t often do.

To be honest I didn’t want to write this post (let alone post it) because it feels like everything gets so politically charged and what follows is not meant to be political at all. It simply feels like some lamenting is necessary when I look around at our world and my heart breaks. I know there are many complicated sides to all of these issues. I ashamedly have to admit I haven’t done enough research to comment intelligently about most of them. BUT no matter what my opinions or beliefs about any of them, I feel it is worth expressing grief and sorrow on behalf of the people impacted by these issues, situations, and struggles. I may not agree with those impacted or those making decisions or maybe I do. That’s not what this post is about. It’s about looking around this world and weeping with a God who is saddened to see those He created so broken and hurting.

So, for a few moments, I’m going to set aside arguing, debating, and even healthy discussion and simply lament. I invite you to join me and take just a few moments to stop, let yourself have some compassion, and perhaps even cry a little.

Things Worth Lamenting in 2018:

  • Hundreds and hundreds of people dying each month as a result of their drug addiction
  • The 44,400 people a day forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution in their country
  • Depression rates at an all-time high
  • Nearly a half a million of kids in our country alone orphaned and in need of a home, millions around the world living separated from their parents whether from the poor choices of their parents, because of death, due to poverty, or countless other reasons
  • Hundreds of people who die daily because they feel they have no other choice but to end their own life … to escape the terror of war that haunts them after fighting for our freedom in the military, in response to bullying about their sexual orientation or gender, because of financial or marital crisis, or simply because they believe that no one would even miss them
  • The fact that racism is real and many of us who perpetuate this in our culture don’t even know how racist we really are
  • The estimated 40 million human beings on our planet in slavery today
  • Wars around the world that never seem to end
  • The fact that I’m glad it summer because it hopefully means we’ll get a break for a while from what became weekly school shootings

Unfortunately, this isn’t even half of the list I came up with. When thinking of a Biblical lament like those in the book of Lamentations, it isn’t just enough to “be sad” about what’s going on, the grief leads to repentance and action.

I obviously can’t bring world peace, solve all the hunger and slavery issues around the globe, take in every orphaned child, or single-handedly get rid of all government corruption worldwide.

BUT there are things I can do.

There are ways I can bring light to darkness and hope to despair in the lives of those around me. I can inform myself about issues and reach out to those who do have more power than I do to bring about change. I can offer a listening ear to a struggling friend and welcome people into my home. I can advocate and speak up for those who can’t do that for themselves. I can open my life to refugees and orphans and the lonely.  I can repent for the times I’ve judged others and seek reconciliation.

It’s easy in the face of so much hurt and suffering to turn to God and ask “WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING!?!?” But, as Matthew West wrote in a song a few years back, we have to ready to hear what often is His reply: “I did, I created you.”

Some people say that grieving over the hard things in this world is pointless and a waste of time… that “praying isn’t enough.” But, at least in my life, what I’ve found is this: when I allow myself to fully experience the grief and sorrow for the hurt and pain others are suffering in prayer, it WON’T stop there. True lament always eventually leads to action.

It’s not comfortable. It’s not fun. But may I challenge you to join me this week and spend some time in lament. Pour out your heart and then be still and listen. Ask God how He wants to use YOU to make change.

One last thing: When looking at a list like the one I made above, it can also lead to despair instead of action. That’s where these words actually from the book of Lamentations refresh my soul this week:

“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!'” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

We lament… and we hope.

Lent, Prayer

Giving Up Complaining


Forgive me when my words are filled with complaints… to You, to others, to no one in particular. Forgive me when I get focused on the things that aren’t going the way I would like or imagine and get my heart focused instead on the many ways in which you have blessed me.  Forgive me Lord when my words which express desire for more or different get in the way of showing the world your abundant grace and joy.  Forgive me for the ways these complaining words have damaged relationships, hurt people, or given an inaccurate picture of You.

I can’t help but be reminded of the Israelites who grumbled their way through the wilderness, longing to go back to Egypt… forgetting the slavery they endured there. (Exodus 16, Numbers 11) Your provided freedom and they grumbled that it took so long.  You provided food and they grumbled that they wanted something different.  You lead them and gave them guidelines to help them live the best life possible and they grumbled.  Lord, I confess I do the same. Forgive me of my grumbling.

Replace my complaining spirit with a spirit of praise… a heart that longs to bless Your name and the many ways You provide for me, lead me, care about me, and use me.  May I not be conformed to the complaining pattern of this world but may my mind be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:1-2). Like Paul, may I learn contentment and praise in every situation, coming to you with any worry, concern, or fear, presenting requests with thanksgiving to Your glory by your grace (Philippians 4).

In the Mercy and Name of Jesus,

Amen… let it be so!


Lent, Prayer

Giving Up Half-Hearted Prayers

A couple weeks ago I was in the store and decided to buy a baptism card.  That might seem totally normal, except I don’t know anyone being baptized soon.  In short, buying that card was a way to trust that God was going to answer one of my prayers for 2016: that I would get to see the salvation of souls… that I God would make me a disciple that makes disciples. Buying that card was a way for me to tell my heart to trust God that He will answer my prayers for new people to know the love of Jesus this year.

So often we I pray for something to happen, but then don’t actually expect God to come through. Sadly, at times, I pray for things and then find myself shocked when God actually answers.

Today, I give up half-hearted, unexpectant prayers.  When I pray, I’m not checking something off my list… I’m standing in the very presence of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe!  I’m bringing my praise and my petitions before the One being in all Creation who really can make things happen and LOVES to do it.  I want to learn to pray with persistence and passion, but most of all, with expectation. While God may not come through in the WAYS or the TIMES I might desire or expect, He WILL come through; I can count on that! It’s in His very nature to be faithful to His children even when we’re not.

“…if we are faithless, He remains faithful—
for He cannot deny Himself.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:13

My God will show up and I don’t want to be left surprised. I want to be able to jump up and down, celebrate, saying,
“I knew You’d come through. I knew You’d show up. I knew I could count on You!”

… because we can!


The 3: What I'm Learning...

The 3: February Edition – Be Bold

There is great value in occasionally stopping and reflecting on all I’m learning. Whether in my professional life, in my relationship with Jesus, in how I interact with people around me, and more. Here’s February’s Edition of “The 3” … three things I’ve been learning lately.

1. Pray Boldly
Whether I’m praying for my students, or asking God to work in my own life… whether lifting up family and friends from afar or seeking God with a friend on my couch in the living room… whether the prayers are ones I’m asking just for today or if I likely won’t see answer for years… I’ve been learning to pray boldly. As I see God’s answers to very specific and sometimes large prayers, it encourages me even more to seek Him constantly. I have chances in every moment to converse with and seek the help of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe… He’s got the power, why not tap into it?

2. Love Boldly
I’ve also been learning about what it means to take risks in loving the people around me as well as those I don’t know that well. To be bold in seeking to grow new relationships and be fully present in the midst of them. To set aside fears and situations from the past that perhaps would have kept me from caring about the people God’s placed in front of me and trust HIM to provide protection, wisdom, and courage. He’s let my heart be broken over hurting people in the world, and the next step after brokenness, is action… it’s to love boldly.

3. Live Boldly
I guess this kind of could be the umbrella over the first two, but it is unique and different from them. This is the place where I’ve been re-learning what it means to live in such a way that brings great joy to myself, to others, and most of all to God. That when God asks me to do something, and I trust him, and just do it, the joy is so great I can’t even describe it. It’s choosing joy even when circumstances wouldn’t normally seem to lead to that reaction. It’s setting aside what others may think or desire of me in order to please the only One whose opinion matters.

So what are you learning this month? My three all seem pretty “serious” or “deep this month, but it can be anything… have you learned a new skill? Learned something new about yourself? Learned a cool fact? What are three things you’ve learned in the last month or so?


Lenten Prayers, Dangerous Prayers

I love lent. Whether I choose to eat only rice and beans for 40 days, don’t give anything up at all, spend more time in prayer, bury the “hallelujahs” or let them ring loud, or even, like two years ago, give up LENT altogether for lent, these 40 (47) days each year always prove to be ones in which God draws me deeper and deeper into who He is and how big His love is. This year, I can tell, will be no exception.

Back in college, a friend introduced me to the concept of “dangerous” prayers. I’ve occasionally found myself praying one or more of them, but through some things God’s been doing in my life lately, I decided that perhaps Lent would be a good chance to pray through them again. The prayers are:
Search Me, Break Me, Stretch Me, Lead Me, Use Me, Cover Me, and Restore Me.

Already, in these first 7 days of Lent, I have found myself blown away by the ways in which God has answered these prayers in my life. Today, as I focused in on praying “Stretch Me Jesus,” God did not disappoint. One thing he made clear this morning was that by praying this prayer He would take me outside of my comfort zone. You can only imagine my reaction when I got into worship tonight, flipped over the bulletin and discovered that the sermon was titled: “Out of My Comfort Zone.” Haha, God… you’re a funny one. (I literally laughed out loud in my pew.)

While God is definitely going to take me out of comfort zone this Lent, I was thankful for Pastor’s reminder tonight that when we’re taken out of OUR comfort zone, we are taken into GOD’S comfort zone. He never leaves us. He doesn’t push us out, say “Good Luck!”, and walk away. He’s drawing out of our comfort zone so that we can be even nearer to Himself. While these types of prayers really do SEEM dangerous to us because they cause us to have to trust and not be in control, there really is no safer place to walk than directly in the will of God.

So, as scary as it is, I ask… Stretch Me God! Take me out of my comfort zone! And whatever that means, may it lead me straight into the comfort of Your arms. Amen!



A Morning Prayer

Not sure who wrote this, but what a great prayer to start a new day!

“Dear Lord,
I give you my hands to do Your work;
I give You my feet to go Your way;
I give You my eyes to see as You see;
I give You my tongue to speak Your words;
I give You my mind that You may think in me;
I give You my spirit that You may pray in me.
Above all, I give You my heart that You may love in me – love the Father and love all humankind.
I give You my whole self, Lord, that You may grow in me, so that it is You who lives, works and prays in me. Amen.”

(Photo: Easter Morning 2010 – Seward, NE)

Bekah's Heart, Devotional, The Exodus Road

But what can I do?

Tonight at a Bible Study I attend we were talking about the book of Nehemiah. One of the things I’ve always loved about the story of Nehemiah leading the people to rebuild the walls of the city, comes in Chapter 3. There it talks about how they were able to accomplish the task by simply working on the part of that wall that was right outside their home. Together they were able to complete this incredible task in only 52 DAYS!!! Even those that opposed them were scared as they realized God’s hand at work in accomplishing the impossible.

Like Nehemiah, we live in a world that is broken. Everyone can see it. And often times the issues we see in our world seem too big to accomplish and building a huge wall around a city in 52 days while being attacked by outsiders seems like a piece-of-cake compared to the enormity of the brokenness.

One of these issues is human trafficking. A few days ago I mentioned that God was calling me to “build my section of the wall” by joining “The Exodus Road Blogging Team”. At least once a month, I can use this space on this blog to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. To tell their stories and pray for their restoration.

Today, on the 20th day of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, I invite YOU to do YOUR part in building the wall and restoring the brokenness in our world. Below you will find MANY ways to join in the fight for the 27 million who can’t fight for themselves. Find a way that works for you. Together we can restore brokenness! (And let’s encourage each other in the process. Post in the comments what YOUR part of the wall looks like! How are YOU going to help restore what’s broken?)



God’s Word makes it clear that His heart breaks for the broken and oppressed. He also makes it clear that when we pray according to His will, His heart, He WILL hear and He WILL answer. Let’s bang on the doors of heaven on behalf of those who find themselves enslaved. Here are the top three prayer requests right now from The Exodus Road:
1. Safety for our investigators– especially as they start an intense month-log operation with many nights of surveillance back to back.
2. Unity among the communities where they are working. For continued strong relationships with government and NGOs on the ground so that work can move forward.
3. Hearts and healing of rescued victims, currently in after-care facilities.

Human Trafficking is not just something in “some other part of the world.” Sadly, it happens in our own communities everyday. My heart breaks to think that some of the youth I work with could end up caught in some form of sex slavery, but the reality is there. Another organization that works to fight human trafficking including efforts in the US is called the Polaris Project. One of their resources is a 24 hour resource hotline. You can call this hotline to report a tip, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or just to request training or anti-trafficking resources. It only takes about 30 seconds to put this phone number in your phone. You never know when you might be in a position where you might need it. You might save someone’s life just by having this phone number accessible!

Because The Exodus Road has had successful connections in the last few days with local police in the area of SE Asia where they are working, their anticipated workload is multiplied GREATLY. While this is GREAT news, it also means that they will need more funds in order to make the raids a reality. Here are a couple ways to give to The Exodus Road:
* Buy an awesome t-shirt. ($22.50)
* Sponsor an investigator for a night ($35)
* Donate any amount.

My guess is that one of the biggest ways human trafficking has become such a big issue is because we’re just uninformed. We’d rather turn our head the other way or maybe we just never heard about it. Here are some ways to get informed about the issue and begin to advocate for those suffering.
* If you’re in the Buffalo area, come to the University at Buffalo this Friday night for an event called “Unbound” that will talk all about the issue of human trafficking.
* Read the stories and facts on any of the following websites:
The Exodus Road
The Polaris Project
* Explore what organizations are fighting this issue in your own state, and see how you can get involved.

So how are you joining in the fight? Share it in the comments as a way to encourage others and to remind us all that together we can make a difference!

Mission Work, NYC Mission Trip

Prayers From Central Park

On Sunday, I, along with a couple other team members on our NYC Mission Trip, had the opportunity to stand in Central Park and ask people for any prayer requests they have while handing out free water.  Even though some were shared in a joking manner out of spite or to mock us for even asking, I’ve included even those below along with the serious requests because, in reality, the people requesting could use the prayer, prayers to know Jesus.  Please join me in lifting up these strangers, including the ones that walked by without sharing.  Pray that our team’s obedience to follow God’s call to simply ask, would leave a mark on their heart and draw each of them closer to Jesus.  From sunbathers who clearly didn’t know much about this “prayer” thing to the Catholic priest on his way home from mass, from tourists from London to the woman who thought she needed to PAY us for her prayer, we were blessed by each interaction behind the requests below and opportunities to share what we were doing and even more so, the God behind it all.

Please join us in lifting these people to God, that they would know the unfailing love of Jesus!

  • Kevin Taylor
  • Xav Lapointe
  • Pray for more people to do good. And be happy w/less.
  • Good luck, love and harmony
  • my dog, Penny has awful stomach ulcers. Please pray for her.
  • World peace and justice for ALL
  • My Children’s health and well-being
  • My granddad died 1 month ago
  • For no smoking in the park
  • For Kristine
  • Good vibes and all the people
  • my brother Conor and his football team
  • Dennis, so that he doesn’t have to use his cane anymore, and his family
  • World peace
  • Brother, Mario and sister, Olga
  • Arthur Baez Garcia
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.