Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sorry Facebook Friends!

My sister read me this article about the difference of "what determines popularity" between our generation and the current high school students. When we were in JH and HS Facebook did not exist, no one had a cell phone (and if you did it was the "family" cell phone for emergency purposes only), so your popularity was determined by what table you sat at during lunch (for example). Now, popularity is determined by how many likes you get on a status update or a picture.

The irony is that Mel and I suddenly realized that we also care too much about our "likes!" She's into photography, for example. She's figured out settings, took a class, and the photo's she creates and edits take her a lot of time and effort. So the moment she posts a picture, she's checking how many people like it. My thing is writing. I'm constantly checking my blog "stats" or Facebook "likes" to see what people think of it. When we admitted these things out loud, we laughed at how ridiculous it sounded, but we totally understood why kids are becoming upset over their status "popularity."

For some reason my last few status updates have been at the setting "only me" which means only I can see it on my timeline. First of all, I don't know why that option even exists; it's a social network for petes sake! Secondly, I found myself super bummed that not one person, not even one, "liked" it. I was having this inner turmoil - did I offend people? Am I pushing friends away by what I say or post? I found myself feeling guilty for sharing stuff I found that supported my political beliefs or religious views. I was honestly asking myself if people were sick of my blog, or sick of me.

And then I heard this inner voice, "I need a break from Facebook."

And then the devil's advocate voice shot back, "yeah, but you like Facebook to keep up with your friends and family who literally live all over the world!"

And then the other inner voice laughed, "HA!"

Facebook was becoming my "popularity" contest. Instead of using my blog and Facebook to "keep up" with friends and family on our daily life and glorifying God through it, I was becoming prideful. The setting "only me" was the wake up call I needed. It was God's way of telling me to take a chill pill, focus on HIM and HIS WORD, and truly (from my inner most being) glorify Him.

The thing is... I struggle with that daily... because I am a selfish sinner. So I deleted Facebook from my phone. I will continue to write in my blog and to visit the blogs I love, but I will not post my blog on Facebook or check my stats. I don't know how long this will be, I'll start with today and go from there, but if you want to read what I post, subscribe to my blog.

I have to apologize to you, my Facebook friends, because I do not want to come across as a person who "has it all together". I am weak. I am a sinner. I am selfish. BUT I am growing and learning and I desire the satisfaction of my Lord and Savior only. I have to stop caring about what the world thinks, and quite frankly, that starts with Facebook.

I don't want to stay away from Facebook forever, because that's where my family and friends are, but that should be my only reason for being on it. With that said, I'm sorry Facebook friends for being obsessed with what you think of my status updates, political rantings, and Instagram posts. I need to focus instead on what God thinks. And that means a break from Facebook. I'm realizing that it's going to be hard because when I feed Brielle Facebook is the first place I go, so pray for me as I take on this challenge, that I learn the lesson that I truly believe God is trying to teach me: that He is truly #1 in my heart and that I care only what He thinks of me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A HANDle on God's Word. Hehe.

Our pastor went on a mini vacation this last week which means we had a guest speaker Sunday; his practical lesson on "How to Have a Good HANDle on God's Word" is worth sharing....

God has this amazing ability to reach into the depths of your heart and yank at heart strings through a lesson in His word, or a book, or through something extraordinary that you play off as a coincidence, but is really divine providence. As you all know, I'm currently reading, "Glimpses of Grace" by Gloria Furman. (Which is a must read!) And in Chapter 4 Furman discusses why it is so important to "Labor to Study Christ" and I was inspired. I am soooooooo close to finishing my read through of the Bible and with three books left I'm finding myself thinking, "I'm so close! Read, read, read!" instead of focusing on what God is saying and why He is saying it. I'm rushing and forcing myself to go back and reread, especially after reading this chapter where Furman states, "We study Christ because, as we are being transformed into his image, we should like to recognize him... when we meet him face-to-face." (p. 68) How true is that? I mean someday soon I will meet Him! If I'm going to claim that, "I'm a Christian!" or that "I believe in God!" shouldn't I make an effort to get to know Him? And He provided a means to do that: through the Bible - His word! I want to know Him when I meet Him face-to-face. That statement was like a kick in the butt when I read it Saturday afternoon.

Then I went to church and heard this sermon on having a HANDle on God's Word. It was a lesson in which everyone (children included) needed to participate. So, before you read on, grab a pencil and a piece of paper!
  1. Title your paper: "How to Have a Good HANDle on God's Word!"
  2. Trace your hand! (Hehe. HANDle. Get it? Yes, I admit that I'm a Word Nerd. Hehe. Okay. I'll stop.)
  3. In your pinky finger write: Hear and Romans 10:14-17. "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." This verse speaks directly of the importance of missions and spreading the message of hope through the story of Jesus Christ and His word, however, there is also an importance of engrossing ourselves in His word. We, as Christians (well, humans for that matter), have a tendency to fear change and growth. Change and growth has the possibility of being painful and difficult. In order to grow into the image of Christ (which is what every Christian should want) then we must hear the gospel (God Word) on a daily basis. Transformation is a process. It will take time and it will not be easy, but our life should be dedicated to hearing God's Word as we drive to work in the morning, as we enjoy a cup of coffee, during our break, as we work on the mundane activities of the day (like sweeping the floor), etc. etc.
  4. In your ring finger write: Read & Write and Deuteronomy 17:14-20, "When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,' you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. The king must not get more and more horses for himself. And he must not send people to Egypt to get more horses, because the LORD has told you, 'You must never go back that way.' Also, the king must not have too many wives, because that will make him turn away from the Lord. And he must not make himself rich with silver and gold. "When the king begins to rule, he must write a copy of the law for himself in a book. He must make that copy from the books that the priests from the tribe of Levi keep. He must keep that book with him and read from it all his life, because he must learn to respect the LORD his God. He must learn to completely obey everything the law commands.Then the king will not think that he is better than any of his own people. He will not turn away from the law, but he will follow it exactly. Then he and his descendants will rule the kingdom of Israel a long time. " Basically a king was required to write the law in its entirety and the priest was supposed to watch him do it! The king was then required to carry it around with him at all times and read it constantly. He was supposed to know it, memorize it and abide by it. How does this apply to us? Shouldn't we also read it, know it, memorize it and abide by it? If God suggested that by writing it down was a means of doing that, we should also do what was expected by the king: read and write God's word!
  5. In your middle finger write: Study and Acts 17:10-11, "... Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." They would hear someone teach and then go to God's word to see if it matched up with what God said. The same goes for us today. We hear all kinds of worldly advice, suggestions, religious discussions, etc. Once we hear these things go immediately to God's word and examine it diligently. Study it. Know it. That way when false teaching is heard, you know it as false because it goes against what God's word teaches.
  6. In your pointer finger write: Memorize and Psalm 119:9-11, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." The entire Psalm 119 is all about God's Word. How do you keep from sin? "Storing" up His Word in your heart. Know it. Memorize it!
  7. In your thumb write: Meditate and Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." Every chance I get I need to open God's Word and read it! Pray about it. Think about it. It needs to be on my mind when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night.
  8. Lastly, write: Application and James 1:19-25 in the palm of your hand, "My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. Anger does not help you live the way God wants. So get rid of everything evil in your lives--every kind of wrong you do. Be humble and accept God's teaching that is planted in your hearts. This teaching can save you. Do what God's teaching says; don't just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. Hearing God's teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked. But when you look into God's perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God's blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard." Aaron (our guest speaker) used a great illustration for this one, but I'm going to amp it up a bit (hehe). Hearing God's Word (like those Sunday Christians) and turning around and doing nothing about what you just heard is like looking in the mirror, noticing you have a booger hanging from your nose and leaving it there! (Gross, huh?) So, once you've heard God's Word taught, go home, read it, write it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and LIVE BY IT! Don't think that hearing is enough. 
When you're done it should look something like this: (ignore my crooked pinky!)

Why must you engross yourself in God's Word? Well, I want to know Jesus, so when I meet Him (cause everyone will someday) I want to know Him! If you too are a believer, you too should want that! Remember to: Hear, Read & Write, Study (diligently), Memorize, Meditate, so you can apply it correctly. I thought the hand illustration was an excellent one because it's easy to remember, provides a visual for my measley brain, and it's a fun way to remember what to do with God's Word every day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Scenic Roots

Kyle and I have had the privilege to listen to "Scenic Roots" perform on two different occasions. Scenic Roots is the name of two musically talented sisters that travel to share their testimony and perform outstanding music using a fiddle, dulcimers, and a banjo.

Taken from their Facebook page, this is their profile picture (taken by Your Treasured Moments Photography).
We own two c.d.'s and enjoy their music and testimony. Last night they came to our church for an evening concert and I was excited to learn that Erin Rogers created a c.d. with a man named Josh Messick called "Honest: Songs of Hope". It is an instrumental c.d. featuring Erin and Josh on dulcimers. I am excited to report that it is awesome!

First let me share what they wrote on the c.d. cover as to why they created this album in the first place, "This album was created out of personal hardship in each of our lives. From this brokenness came the desire to communicate a real and healing message of hope. Honest is two people begging for healing from God, seeking the Truth, and learning that He is faithful no matter the circumstances." Erin shares her story of hardship on the c.d. cover and she shares her personal story in each concert which I've been blessed to hear her tell, but it in her own words, "I received a mountain dulcimer on my seventh birthday, and ten years later became the 2004 National Champion. It was then I knew I would play music for the rest of my life. Not until I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2007, however, did I begin to fully understand the power of music to soothe the weary soul and heal the heart. Playing dulcimer in the chemotherapy treatment room helped me endure some of the hardest days of my life. That experience continues to influence every note I play." Wow. What a testimony. To give you an idea of how talented these individuals are at playing the dulcimer: Erin was the 2004 National Champion and Josh the 2003 National Champion!

You must check out this c.d. which is available on iTunes.

Also check out Scenic Roots website and like their page on Facebook!

Josh Messick has a website that is worth visiting.

And if you can, get them to visit your church, or your coffee shop, or check out their schedule and make an effort to hear one of their concerts. I promise it's worth it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Testimony

I'm sure than my high school and college friends read my blog posts and wonder who this crazy lady is who keeps talking about Jesus! "She was never like this when I knew her!"

So for those of you who knew me "back then," I have changed so much in the last few years, thank goodness, and felt like I needed to share my testimony so you know why I keep talking about Him.

In high school and college I believed I was a "Christian" because I was a pastor's daughter (I grew up going to church), I believed in God (um, well, so does Satan), and I had that mindset that God will forgive me when I go to bed tonight so I can do whatever I want to right now. "Besides, I'll have a chance to ask for forgiveness before I die, right?"

As a child I remember accepting Christ as my savior and praying with my parents, but the older I got the more I rejected God. When I heard "Jesus" spoken out loud I would cringe and think, "Why can't they just shut up?" I would tell my friends, "I believe the same thing they do, but do you see me going around pushing it on people?"

I also had the mindset that I needed to learn from my own mistakes (I really bought in to that mentality, instead of learning from someone who had already been there, done that). For example, I was absolutely convinced that I was going to marry my high school boyfriend. I wanted to spend as much time with him as I possibly could, I wanted to have sex with him (After all, God wants me to be happy, right? and why, if I'm going to marry this guy, do I have to wait?), and when my focus was entirely on the boyfriend, I began to ignore my parent's teaching and hate the mention of Jesus. That stuff only applies to me when I'm older. I'll live that way after I'm married, after I've experienced life.

My junior year of high school was when I really began to reject God. My boyfriend was graduating, along with all the people I hung out with at that time. Their graduation was already hard enough because I honestly thought that my senior year was going to be tough. Sure, I had some friends in my own class and even in the classes below me, but the friends I chose to hang out with were in the grade above me. When graduation weekend came I dreaded it, so I dragged my feet as I walked into graduation practice (I was in the band). That day will be one I will never, ever forget. The graduating class was sitting around waiting for everyone to arrive, the band was ready to play, the teachers and administration were giving out last minute instructions, but we were waiting for one last person: Brian Pancau. Everyone loved this kid. He was friendly, outgoing, positive, and he held a special place in my heart as being my first kiss. (From that point on I had a crush on him, but he was not interested in pursuing a relationship with me so I dated one of his good friends, and Brian and I continued to have a wonderful friendship.) There were rumors going around the gym that Brian had been in a bad car accident (some kids drove past it on their way to practice and recognized what was left of his car). So naturally, we were all freaking out. Next thing I know our principle walked up to the stage and announced that Brian had not made it. The gym erupted. People screamed, cried, and held each other. It was an awful chaos.

We dedicated our next track season to him. On our shirts we put the quote he said, all the time, GO BIG OR GO HOME. One of my friends (Ashley) who had been on the 4x400 team with me the previous year decided not to go out. I remember being crushed because we had made it a goal to win state after we took home a 3rd place medal my junior year. Looking back I truly think that she didn't know how to handle the death of Brian. They were really good friends.

I was more excited than ever to start track after ending a horrible basketball season my senior year. The coach benched the seniors claiming he was, "building for the future." I loved the game of basketball, but it was Ashley who kept me sane. She'd sit in the back of the bus with me and we'd chat. She'd sympathize, offer advice, and we'd trade details about our life. So when track season rolled around and she didn't go out, I was ultra disappointed.

Right before I graduated she walked up to me and apologized, "Honestly, Becky, Honestly," (she began every important discussion with honestly) "I regret not doing track. I knew how bad you wanted state; I should've done it for you." At the time I thought it was incredibly sweet (I still do), I thanked her, told her not to beat herself up too bad over it, and we went our separate ways.

Part of the reason I told her not to worry about it was because I broke my foot, which affected the outcome of state anyway. At the time I didn't know it was broken, but six months after the initial injury, I got an x-ray and began the healing process, which eventually required surgery. I simply waited too long. This was a big bummer. My senior year was not going the way I had dreamed and hoped.

It added to my desire to get away, thinking that going away would solve my problems. It was coming time to decide what I was going to do with my life. Some family friends and my boyfriend talked about Doane College all the time and how amazing it was, so I too wanted to check it out, I was convinced it was where I needed to be. Now, I realize my decision was very selfish - I left behind my family and it cost my family an arm and a leg - but I was only thinking of what I wanted.

I couldn't wait to get out from under the wing of a father who I thought was too controlling. I couldn't wait to be closer to my boyfriend. But what I didn't do was think of how I was hurting my best friend - my brother - by moving ten hours away. Being fifteen months apart we did not know life without each other. We did everything together. And when I walked out the door, I sobbed as I said good-bye, but now when I look back on that day I realize how much I hurt him as I replay his broken heart over and over again in my head. I also left behind two sisters who needed me and who heard me endlessly rant about how unfair our father was - planting a seed of rebellion and animosity towards him.

All I cared about was getting out and moving on to something I thought was better.

My first year of college was eventful.

I broke up with my boyfriend, joined a sorority, "played" basketball (I had a boot, so I went to every practice and watched), participated in the pep and concert bands, and partied, partied, partied. At the time I didn't realize that I was self medicating.

I was still struggling with the death of my friend Brian and then I learned that my friend Ashley had died from complications involving a four wheeling accident. I was crushed. What I regret most was that after hearing about her accident I kept telling myself I needed to call her and told myself I would, "later." I never called her. To my everlasting shame, I also decided to not go home and attend her funeral. There was no closure and now I was living with this huge regret - Why didn't I call her?! Why didn't I go to her funeral?!

When I drank, my mentality was, “I drink to forget.” I'd tell myself that I’d feel better and I wouldn’t think about all that crap, so I would drink to the point of blacking out. When I did that, I made horrible decisions. I would wake up, feeling horrible about those decisions, want to forget that I made them, go back to drinking, make more horrible decisions, feel horrible, drink more, make more horrible decisions, and this vicious cycle continued until my best friend said, "Becky, I don't want to hear about it anymore. I don't feel sorry for you!"

I was mad, but despite my rebellion I came to the understanding that she was a true friend. She was willing to risk our friendship so that I would change the way I was living. That was the first step towards healing. Yes, I continued to drink, and yes, I continued to make stupid decisions, but not at the astronomical rate I was going during my freshman year.

When something bad happened, I still had that mentality to drink and forget it, and I still had this weight on my shoulders as I continued to live a destructive lifestyle.

Then my junior year my mom decided she wanted a divorce.

You talk about anger. 

I hated her for that decision and I did not hesitate in telling her through screaming phone calls, nasty emails, and begging her, pleading with her, to change her mind. Our family was broken and my heart literally felt like it was torn in two. Just the thought of what my family was going through brought me to tears. I could barely talk about it - I'd become a sobbing mess.

I was piling on a lot of emotions: loss, regret, anger... and I dealt with it all by drinking more.

The only place I felt where I belonged was with my sorority sisters. My basketball team rejected me and the more I felt rejected by them, the less I liked playing basketball. I felt judged when I attended church with a friend, or went to the Fellowship of Christian athlete's meetings, or the Christian events hosted by the college. I felt like I didn't belong - I was tainted - I was a sinner.

I met Kyle at the end of my senior year of college. After three months, I knew I was going to marry him and it freaked him out! I accepted a job on the other end of the state and after graduation we would begin a long distance relationship, so he broke up with me. I was crushed and mad at him. After four days, he came to realization that he felt the same way I did and that we'd make it work.

Our relationship was not God centered. Neither of us were living Godly lives, but that all changed when we got engaged.

One of dad's requirements was that Kyle and I find a book that focused on putting Christ at the center of our relationship. Kyle took it seriously and the day after I said yes, we went to Barnes and Noble and found one book, one, that met dad's requirements. At the time I didn't understand divine providence, but I said, "Well, it's a sign that it's the one we're supposed to read!" So we bought it and read it!

Our lives began to change because now we were seeking Godly advice. We knew we wanted something different. We wanted to last, we wanted to be happy, and for some reason we knew that the only way to attain true happiness was by following my dad's advice. So we found a pastor that would guide us. Our first meeting with him was both hard and absolutely amazing. Hard, because forgiveness and a means of acceptance of things that cannot be changed needed to take place in regards to past relationships. Thank goodness for a forgiving husband.

More importantly...

Kyle accepted Christ as his savior.

I reaffirmed my life for Christ.

And we began an amazing transformation.

It did not happen overnight. Although our partying had slowed down significantly, we continued to live that lifestyle, but this time we came to realize that we had to change, we wanted to change, and the only way that was going to happen was through Christ and learning and growing through Him.

Two things happened for me: 1. I partied too hard at my bachelorette party, woke up feeling absolutely horrible, and vowed I would never, ever do that again. and 2. Through divine providence I realized we needed to find a church, Kyle knew it was the only way we were going to grow.

I hated the idea of going to church. As a pastor's daughter I saw the in's and out's of the hypocrite's who attended and a big part of me blamed them for my family being ripped apart. My dad put up with so much drama, my mom was excluded from women's groups, problem after problem would arise because someone thought they needed to be in charge, or there were fights over music, or misunderstandings would arise because of something they thought was said or not said, or grotesque sin was made blatantly obvious by people who were leaders in the church, or or or or or...

As a child soaking all of this in and watching how it affected my parents, I wanted nothing to do with church or the people who went there. So when Kyle brought up the idea of finding a church, my immediate response was NO! Kyle, knowing my "church" history, only asked me to pray about it. I agreed to do that at least.

Well, God knows best, because Kyle bought us a men and women's devotional set. We'd each read our own devotional teaching for the day and talk about it later. The very next morning after Kyle asked me to pray about it, the topic was: Church! (And I hadn’t even prayed about it yet!)

We found a church and our pastor started the process of discipleship - rightly teaching God's word so that we could study and teach others on our own. When I began to read God's word, meeting with another woman from our church, and listening to verse by verse, word by word teaching of God's word every Tuesday and Sunday, my faith, my understanding of God grew and grew and grew and continues to grow!

God's grace took my anger and regret away. A load was lifted off my shoulders and for once I felt like I could breathe! I finally understood the power of God's sovereignty and I finally understood true freedom when I learned to let go and let God!

I was changing and growing and learning and then I had Brielle.

It was a scary experience, but Kyle and I grew significantly in Christ as we held each other and prayed for her and His will for us. When I finally held her in my arms I began to understand the depth of love God must feel for His children. At this point, I was more than ready to accept whatever fire God was going to put us through, I seriously thought that her birth was the end of that "refining fire".

Was I ever wrong.

Ten days after giving birth I hemorrhaged and nearly lost my life. I thought I was saying good-bye to this life and as I was being loaded on to the flight for life and began singing "Indescribable" I was suddenly okay with dying. I believed, beyond a shadow of a doubt what it says in Roman's 10:9, "... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." I had faith in Jesus and the hope of salvation through Him, "… there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) I knew that if I died I'd be with Jesus in heaven. A few years ago if someone had asked me where I would go if I died, I'd shrug my shoulders, "... heaven ... I think..."

But, now, I know and am so excited for that day! I don't see October 1st as a horrific experience. Instead, I often wonder what I would be doing right now had I died. I find myself aching to know what heaven is like and aching for the day when I finally get to meet Jesus! And aching when I think of how God describes hell, so much so, that I ache to tell others about Jesus and the hope we have in Him.

For many years, I didn't understand why my life turned out the way it did. Why did I go to Doane? Why did I lose my friends? Why did my parents get a divorce? But now, I understand that Doane helped me develop into a passionate teacher and that's where I met Kyle. I was able to help my students through tragedies like losing their friends and empathize with them as they endured their parent's divorce. Instead of judging the sinner, I see a hopeless, struggling individual who needs God. All of these events are part of my testimony because they are now a means of ministry!

I do not fear God's "refining fire" because He is in control. And I do not fear death because I have faith that what Jesus taught is true: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life." (John 6:47-48)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Beauty of a Home

I used to think the beauty of a home was in the picturesque set up, neatly placed decor, and the spotless floors. I have to be honest, I put that sentence in the past tense, but in reality I find myself thinking that way all the time. I look through endless Better Homes and Gardens magazines and dream of creating a similar haven. I accumulate all kinds of stuff in hopes that my living room will look half as perfect (no cords showing). Instead of a relaxing homey environment I have created a small version of hoarder central! I force myself to look at the bigger picture on a daily basis: what am I trying to accomplish? When people walk through the door what do I want them to see? I am my homes manager and quite frankly I am missing the mark. I've realized this for quite some time now and deep down, with all of my heart I want our home to glorify God - in every room, every corner, right down to my closet. This mindset motivates me at times to start a project and stop when I find myself feeling overwhelmed.

Then I got this book, "Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home" by Gloria Furman from a generous family in our church for Mothers Day. Furman asked the exact same question I've been asking this last year: HOW do I glorify God in my home - even as I sweep the kitchen floor for the umpteenth time this week?!

I read the introduction and became so, so excited! I was highlighting, taking notes in the margins, and looking up scriptural references like a mad woman. It's like Gloria Furman has been reading my mind!



It's like GOD has been reading my mind and provided Gloria Furman as a means to help me accomplish this task: glorifying God in my home. I can't begin to describe how excited I was about the INTRODUCTION! And then I read chapter one....

I kept thinking... these verses should be all over my house, inspiring me to glorify God as I scrub the toilet (for example) and then I read this sentence,
"Motivation can't be written on an index card - it must be written on your heart." (p.29)
Wow. Okay, Lord, way to call me out!

It's not that putting these verses all over my home is a bad thing, because it is in fact a fantastic idea, it's just that I go back to Furman's intro where she quotes Tim Keller,
"Your private prayer life is one of the key indicators that your Christianity is inner and true and not just the product of your environment." (p.19).
My mind immediately went to Betsie Ten Boom, Corrie Ten Boom's sister, who was imprisoned for hiding Jews during WWII and a quote from Corrie's book, "The Hiding Place" (which I recently finished),
"More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie." (p. 197, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom).
After finishing that book my prayer has been, "Lord, I want to be like Betsie. I need to be like Betsie. I crave that kind of relationship with you." So, yes, the environment I create is important, I want everything in it to glorify God, however (and more importantly) how is my private prayer life? What do I do on a daily basis for the spreading of the gospel - in my home?!

I have so many, many pieces of Furman's book that I want to share so bad, but I won't because I want you to read it, but listen to these wise words,
"Clearly we can't live our lives lawlessly, taking pot shots at people to make ourselves feel better. And clearly we can't just muster up our self-determination and will power to "do the right thing." I simply can't do it. Either way I choose, I don't please God." (p.31)
Yup. That's me right there. Everything I want to do, I don't do. It reminds me of Paul in Romans 4:18-25,
"... For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (v.19) ... Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (v.24)."
I'm a mess (really, who isn't?). Everything I want to do, I don't do, everything I don't want to do, I do. So how am I going to become a good housewife?!
"When I take hold of Jesus by faith as my only hope to please God, God declares that I am justified." (p.31)
Whew. It's not about me or what I do to gain righteousness! My only hope is through Jesus!
"God can use the ordinary moments in your life to glorify himself by conforming you into the image of his Son. ... Dirty dishes in the sink or red crayons smushed into an electrical socket by a curious toddler are not just worrisome ordeals in your otherwise uneventful day. They're opportunities to see glimpses of grace." (p.33)

I already knew that Christianity is a process. I am "being saved" (1 Corinthians 1:18). But God is constantly reminding me of that these days! I find myself growing prideful and forgetting Him. My growth in Christ is not about what I've done or what I'm going to do. I am forever growing because God is at work in me. I'm so excited to read chapter two and continue to grow and change into a godly woman who lives to glorify God daily. Ahhh! I cannot do this alone, thankfully I know that I simply can't, that God is the one who works in me, but if you are one of the women in our church who also received one of these books - hold me accountable! I want to walk, talk, and breath for the glory of God. Help me not to become self righteous or prideful,
"The gospel keeps me relating to God on the basis of Jesus's perfections, not on the illusions of my religious achievements. God strengthens me and protects me according to his faithfulness, not mine (2 Thess.3:3)." (p.33, Glimpses of Grace, Furman)
If you too are sick and tired of the mundane tasks that loom before you - a dirty floor, heaps of laundry, whiny children - then you too need to read this book and become encouraged that 1. You are not alone. 2. God has a plan to glorify himself through you even through these mundane tasks. and 3. There is hope. You too can be transformed through the power of the gospel, even as you change another diaper! Read this book: "Glimpses of Grace" by Gloria Furman!

Nebraska Bloggers Connect: Blog Name Meaning

I've recently decided to hop on this boat: Nebraska Bloggers Connect, where there is a weekly title bloggers write about across the state of Nebraska. This weeks title is explaining why you chose to name your blog what you named it.

My blog's name is simply: BecKyle

There is a story behind the name and it all goes back to when Kyle and I got engaged. His sister Sydnie, was writing our names down (Kyle + Becky) and when she wrote them down the other way she made a remarkable discovery and took it as a sign that we were meant-to-be.

The end of my name begins Kyle's name.


First of all Sydnie is a genius. Secondly, I LOVED it and couldn't wait to put it to use. The first thing I did was put it on our wedding invitations and programs; it's taken off from there. This blog is all about our life and my thoughts on life so naming it BecKyle just made perfect sense.

Hopefully after people read this blog, and the explanation behind this weird name that keeps popping up in relation to the Lowery's, I'll get less and less funny looks when I try to explain our email address! Haha.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Baby Girl is Going on Eight Months!

In just a few short days Briella Bean will be 8 months old. I have a feeling that this summer is going to FLY by and before I have time to blink I'm going to have a one year old. My family lives all over the place: Minnesota, Bahamas, Kansas, Colorado, &etc. and they are already starting to make plans for a trip in September, which is perfect because that means they'll be here to celebrate Brielle's birthday. I just can't believe that's a few short months away. I can't hardly wait to start the preparations for that, but I have to focus on the three baby showers I have coming up first.

These last two months she has changed and learned so much! I can't wait to brag on her a tad...

Her favorite sound is now "inga" ...

I have a feeling she's going to be a lefty. She reaches for everything with her left hand and when I suction her nose she only swipes it away with her left hand.

She's on the verge of crawling. She'll get up on her hands and knees and just rock back and forth.

She pulled herself up to her knees in her crib, once.

Everyone calls her a compact little ball. Brielle is tiny (in the lower percentile for her height and she's still in a NB -size 0- shoe) but she is fat. Lower percentile for height, but higher percentile for weight. LOL. It causes a bit of a dilemma when choosing outfits. Poor girl takes after her momma. Perhaps the following pictures will give you an idea of what I mean...

Look at that cute "little" double chin!
Belly shot - totally accidental!

 She has 2 teeth! And Brielle is not a pleasant teether. She is a snotty, whiny, tired baby - but who can blame her? I'm sure it isn't fun.

When she cries everyone knows it.

She has an obsession with an egg separator. No joke. I pile all kinds of goodies into baskets and buckets and her favorite thing to do is dig through it and throw the toys in and out, in and out. The very fist item she reaches for every single time is the egg separator. We don't leave the house without it because if we have it, she's a happy baby.

She is a studier (like her daddy). She'll grab something (like her egg separator) and turn it over and over in her hands, with a frown on, starring at it. Then she'll start bouncing up and down and sometimes she flails her arms looking like a band director in time to music.

Hm... what is that? I want it.



More directing, except it looks like I have a little baller... ;)

 She loves her feet and anything located on or near them.

She is very interested in anything Kyle and I put in our mouths. If we take a drink she wants to as well. If we take a bite, we'd better share! It's hilarious to watch her try to take a drink...

Nothing is safe. I have to be conscience of where I'm walking and how far her little hands are from things on the walls, cabinets, counters, etc. because she wants to touch and grab it all.

She loves being outside. She'll coo and talk the entire time she's on the porch, or in the grass, and especially watching the puppies. It makes hanging laundry easy!

She loves books! You cannot convince me that reading to a child from day one has no effect based on what I see with Brielle. Her favorite books are anything with animal sounds.

We joined some friends at their house for lunch one afternoon after church. She LOVED Kirk reading to her.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:
I love how she squishes up her nose when she smiles and laughs. When she's excited she breaths in and out really fast and makes that adorable face. Melts my heart.

If her schedule is off, our evenings are tough. Lately she's been sleeping until 10 in the morning! Usually she gets up around 8.

After eating breakfast she plays independently while I read my Bible. Then I join her in play time. Lately her favorite is peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake. We sing a lot of songs with actions like "Jesus Loves Me" (I remember the sign language for it from when I was kid... ha... who knew?) and "I'm a Little Tea Pot" or "Itsy Bitsy Spider"

Weather permitting we go for a walk. (Great time to run errands and sometimes I meet up with a friend.)

2 hours later it's time for a nap and SHE WILL LET ME KNOW.

Her morning nap is her best nap because she sleeps for about 2 hours! (This allows me to write in my blog and clean up around the house.)

She'll eat, play, eat a snack (smashed up fruit, usually a banana), watch the dogs (her favorite) and then it's time for an afternoon nap (which is never as good, but I'll get what I get.)

She eats supper with us (gagging) down a vegetable or cereal (it takes her forever to "like" something). Take a bath, daddy reads her a book, she eats, and then it's time for bed.

I think she knows her schedule better than I do. :)

This is the best job ever. I love being her mommy. The daily mundane chores that I thought I was going to hate, well I don't particularly like them, but they're so worth it knowing I can spend so much time with her. This time is going so fast as it is! I can't imagine having to give her up for 8 hours a day. Oh my goodness I'd miss so much. Evenings are usually her grumpy time and if that's all I saw of her during the week, it'd break my heart. Besides 4-8 in the evenings is not enough time, plus I would've been coaching... I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'll never regret this decision to stay home. It's where God was leading me. I'm looking forward to the day when I'm back in the classroom, but I'm in no hurry, being a mommy is an amazing job. Besides every mommy is already a teacher. Teaching starts at home. So no matter what, no matter who you are, or what you do, if you have kids - you're homeschooling! ;)

Monday, May 13, 2013

"The Hiding Place" Book Review (It's a MUST read!)

What. a. powerful. story.

I highly recommend that you read it. You need to read it.

It's a true story told by Corrie Ten Boom who offered her life to help the Jewish people during World War II. In fact, when her country was invaded by Nazi Germany she came to the realization that the Jews needed help, and so she prayed this prayer:
"Lord Jesus, I offer myself for your people. In any way. Any place. Anytime." (p.74)
She became a leader for the underground Jewish hiding operation in Holland. When the operation was discovered, Corrie and her family were arrested and sent to prison. As her horrific experiences unfolded I was baffled by one persons astronomical faith: her sister Betsie. Over and over again, as each horrific event lept from the page, my prayer was this: "Lord help me to be like Betsie!"

I struggled to pick an event to tell without giving the book away. Every single time I turned the page I got goosebumps. Wow. Wow. Wow. Here is one example:

Corrie and Betsie were sent to the heart of Germany in a concentration camp called Ravensbruck. They were starved, over worked, and were forced to live in awful conditions. Oh my, the things they saw and endured.

One was their living quarters:
"... the aisle was not wide enough for two - fighting back the claustrophobia of these platforms rising everywhere above us. The tremendous room was nearly empty of people; they must have been out on various work crews. At last she [their guide] pointed to a second tier in the center of a large block. To reach it we had to stand on the bottom level, haul ourselves up, and then crawl across three other straw-covered platforms to reach the one that we would share with - how many? The deck above us was too close to let us sit up. We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw. We could hear the women who had arrived with us finding their places. Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross slats above. Something had pinched my leg. "Fleas!" I cried. "Betsie, the place is swarming with them!" We scrambled across the intervening platforms, heads low to avoid another bump, dropped down to the aisle, and edged our way to a patch of light. "Here! And here another one!" I wailed. "Betsie, how can we live in such a place!" "Show us. Show us how." It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie. "Corrie!" she said excitedly. "He's given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!" I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. "It was in First Thessalonians," I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since living Scheveningen. In the feeble light I turned the pages, "Here it is: 'Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all...." It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck. "Go on," said Betsie. "That wasn't all."
"Oh yes: '... to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus - "
"That's it Corrie! That's His answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances!' That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!" I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room. "Such as?" I said. "Such as being assigned here together." I bit my lip. "Oh yes, Lord Jesus!"
"Such as what you're holding in your hands." I looked down at the Bible. "Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages."
"Yes," said Betsie. "Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!" She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded. "Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds."
"Thank You," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for -" The fleas! This was too much. "Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."
"Give thanks in all circumstances,' " she quoted. "It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us." And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong. (p. 197-199)
Fleas? I immediately agreed with Corrie. Why on earth would Betsie be thankful for fleas? But she's right, be thankful in all circumstances. God does not promise an easy life. As I read Betsie's thankful list I immediately thought of the thankful journals my sisters and I do on a regular basis. For the last week I've neglected in mine and after reading that part I had a conviction of spirit to resume my daily thankfuls in all circumstances. My life is cake, it's beautiful and I'm overwhelmingly blessed. This book has inspired me in more ways than I can possibly count.

God still performs miracles was an overwhelming theme. And as the days unfolded this crowded barrack went from a brawling, fighting, raging mess to a calm, forgiving, uplifting place. The women were horrible to each other as they each endured hell. Betsie prayed aloud,
"Lord Jesus, send your peace into this room. There has been too little praying here. The very walls know it. But where You come, Lord, the spirit of strife cannot exist...." (p.200)
And the quarreling went to compromise, the screaming to chuckles, the rage to calm. And day after day they held prayer meetings and read the Bible. These women became family, trusting in the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ because of the message Corrie and her sister Betsie taught through the Bible. They endured tragedy after tragedy together and trusting in God's sovereignty.

For the life of them they did not understand why their barracks was the only barracks in the camp where the guards did not patrol. They wouldn't even step foot in this room, allowing them to host prayer meetings and read the Bible every single day.

Here's the goosebumpy part of the story....
"You know we've never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room," she said. "Well - I've found out." That afternoon, she [Betsie] said, there'd been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they'd asked the supervisor to come and settle it. "But she wouldn't. She wouldn't step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?" Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: "Because of the fleas! That's what she said, 'That place is crawling with fleas!' " My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie's bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for. (p.209)
And this is only one goosebumpy part. There are literally hundreds! It's the one I chose to tell to inspire you to read it! The story of the Holocaust comes alive in this book, "The Hiding Place" as Corrie Ten Boom relates detail after horrific detail of how her and her family gave up their own lives to save others. You cannot read this book without being changed, inspired, and motivated to live out your life half as courageously as these individuals did inspite of tragedy that we in today's America will never understand.