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healthy family, Healthy Soul

Sharing the Joy, Sharing the Pain

It’s almost been one month since we lost our sweet baby boy.

In the past month:

I have learned that clueless three-year-olds are a gift from God. Boston has made us laugh and continued on with his happy little life in spite of everything going on around him.

I have decided if there were an award for grieving, Brooklyn would win it. She talks about Beckett at least once every day. She draws pictures of him and writes letters to him. She somehow lives her life in a way that remembers him and honors him, without any heaviness. She is sad, but she is strong. She is one amazing girl.

I have been thankful for my marriage. I ache for Brian’s pain. He wants to take mine away. We both have moments of strength and hard moments, but we have them together.

I have felt God’s strength and comfort in a way I have never experienced before. I have never needed to experience it to this extent before. I can’t explain it, and I don’t think I need to be able to explain it. I just know that I would not be handling this the way I am without Him.

God’s love for me does not surprise me. God is love. It’s what He does because it’s who He is. What amazes me is the love being shown to us by other people. I know myself. I am a sinner. I make mistakes. I know Brian. I think he’s the greatest husband in the world (obviously), but I know he is very human as well. We are not amazing or exceptional people.   But we have made an intentional choice to share our lives with other people, and it is a choice we would make again 100 times.

We brought Beckett home from the hospital on September 15th. That morning Brian’s parents flew back to the US. We were bringing our third child home from the hospital with our closest relative 4,000 miles away. We were faced with a choice at that time. We could pretend to be self-sufficient and try to make it through this newly complicated life on our own. “Our little family of five is great and we don’t need any help!” Or we could share our lives with those around us. We could ask for and accept help. In the first scenario, I think we would have survived. It would have been hard, but we could have made it through each day. But we didn’t choose that option.

When Beckett was born we chose to share our lives, and we chose to share our little boy with those God had placed around us. And we loved it. Beckett quickly captured the hearts of our friends, our church, and pretty much anyone we passed in the village. He had big bright eyes and around two-months-old he started showing off a big smile to go with it.

We shared our little boy through the beauty of technology as well. Our family that couldn’t hold Beckett with their arms got to smile and talk to him online. Even my 90-year-old grandmother got to hold the iPad right up to her face and admire her eighth great-grandchild. Our friends could meet Beckett through social media. And our financial and prayer supporters in ministry were able to rejoice with us from a distance.

Life was hard with three kids. But the friends and the community that surrounded us made it enjoyable. I knew this thing we were experiencing was special. Brian and I often asked ourselves what we did to deserve such blessings from God. Why did we get to be the lucky ones that loved life and thrived in our current circumstances?

On January 4th our circumstances changed. We lost our little boy. At that point we had another choice to make. We could huddle our little family of four close and retreat in our hurt. Or we could continue to share this life with others.

Those people we let into our lives, they were hurting too. Our community that rejoiced with us and loved our little boy, this affected them too. The people near and far, the people that held Beckett in their arms, and the ones that held him in their hearts, it touched all of us. Brian, Rebekah, Brooklyn, and Boston didn’t experience this hurt alone. So we chose to share the pain just like we shared the joy.

This month I have learned many lessons. Some were not new lessons, but reinforced truths. One thing I know is that this life is meant to be shared. We might have been able to survive Beckett’s life on our own, but I question whether we could have survived his death without our friends.

Choosing to share our lives is a choice we will make over and over again. And it’s a choice I would boldly tell you to make today.   I’m not suggesting you begin to post photos of all your meals and family outings on Facebook (though I won’t complain if you do). I’m suggesting you invite someone over for dinner tonight. Offer to babysit for a couple that could use some alone time. Take a new mom and her baby out for coffee. Stop to have a conversation with the neighbor you wave at in passing each day. I’m suggesting you take the first step to make a real connection.

This choice to share our lives—it is a choice that can leave us vulnerable to hurt and can end up quite messy. But it is also a choice that can bring us unbelievable hope and joy. It’s a choice that comes with a risk. But it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.

I look forward to continuing to share our life with you—the joy and the pain.

 

-Rebekah

healthy family, Healthy Soul

Love the Moments You Have

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At the beginning of 2016, Brian printed out a paper that said “Answered Prayers of 2016” and was full of blank lines. The 3rd thing written on that list was “We’re having a baby!” We learned the exciting news that we were pregnant with our 3rd child on the 11th of January 2016.

On the 4th of January 2017, we laid our sweet, healthy, 3 ½ month old baby boy, Beckett, down for a nap and he passed away in his sleep.

We went through a lifetime in one year. But it wasn’t just a birth and death that happened in that year, it was a deeper change in our family.

Around March I began a bible study with a friend that was centered on motherhood.  Through the Bible study, and through her influence, I began to fall more in love with my ministry of motherhood. I began to love and interact with my kids in a different way. Some ways were very subtle, but some ways were more extreme. I knew going into Beckett’s birth that I wanted to take a long period of time off from all other responsibilities and just focus on being his mom. And for the first 6 weeks of his life I did that. I focused on Brooklyn, Boston, and Beckett and I loved it. It was hard. Babies are hard work. I was continuously tired, was still learning what each of his cries meant, and seemed to be unable to put him down for more than 15 minutes during the day without him wanting held. But I knew what I was doing was important. And I cherished it.

It wasn’t just me that was making changes to prioritize our family this year. Brian bonded with Beckett quicker than our other two babies. Whether it was a change in Brian, Beckett’s personality, or quite simply just the grace of God- they were a great team from the start. As Beckett entered the smiling stage, it was his daddy that made his eyes light up and his smile shine. When he was fussy and we couldn’t figure out quite how to make him happy, it was his daddy’s arm and a little koala hold that would instantly calm him down.

Brooklyn loved her brother. She read to him from the time I was 20 weeks pregnant and told her the baby could hear sounds on the outside. Brooklyn’s heart and attitude have changed this past year and she has become sweeter, gentler, and more mature. She’s still a wild 6 year-old, I don’t want to paint any untrue perfect pictures here! But she loved her baby brother with a gentle, genuine love.

And then there is Boston! He had no idea the baby in mommy’s tummy was going to be real until he saw him at the hospital and immediately fell in love. His exact question was, “Where’d this Bucket come from?” And from that point on his brother was called “Bucket” and he thought he was so cute.

To say all of these things in the past tense seems unnatural. It seems unreal. It seems like it can’t be us. I feel numb. I feel intense emotion and hurt. No one knows what to say to us. We don’t know what to say to them. I want him back. I know the road ahead of us is long. I know we will have many different emotions and reactions along the way. I don’t know how I will handle every step of the journey, but right now I am choosing to be thankful.

We had close to 4 wonderful months with our little guy. We got to hold him and love him and create memories that will always be there. We are choosing to be thankful for those 4 months. We are choosing to believe that Beckett was a gift to our family. We loved that gift. We cherished him for the time we had him. I want my little boy back. I want him back so much. But I don’t want him back to do things differently. I want him back because I miss him.

I’m not saying I didn’t complain about the late nights or the lack of showers. I fell behind on housework, on recipe planning, on record keeping, on countless things and I felt like I was failing at times. I’m not saying we did everything right with Beckett at all. But I am saying we enjoyed him. I am saying we loved him well. And when I look back at his short time here, I am thankful for the priorities we chose.

I know our situation has brought out a lot of fear in other new moms and families. I understand and I think it’s natural. But if I could choose for you, I would say don’t let this bring you to fear. Let it bring you to LOVE. Love the moments you have, don’t fear the ones that are unknown.

That “Answered Prayer” list that Brian printed out at the beginning of the year, we went on to write 138 items on it. 2016 was a good year. It was a good year because we looked for the good. We looked for God at work and we saw Him. And 2017 is going to be a good year as well. I know this because I know my God. In the midst of my darkness, in the midst of my pain, He is there.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.  (Psalm 46:1-3,7)

-Rebekah

 

 

 

 

healthy family

Big Sister and Baby Shared Room Part 2

Yay! The time is here to finally welcome our Number 3 into our family.  We are probably nowhere near as ready as we think we are, but we are excited to take on this new adventure none the less.

I gave a complete look at the “big girl” side of the room in a previous post (Part 1).  The room started out as a messy 5-year-old girl domain.

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After 3 weeks of painting and decorating, it is now a cozy spot to welcome our Little Explorer into the world.

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The gender of Baby 3 is unknown, so we kept it neutral with gray paint and lots of aqua and mint green.  I planned to add in some “girly” colors if need be, but I actually love the soft look and don’t think it’s necessary.  Big Sister’s pink curtains do overlap into this space, but it doesn’t bother me.

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Baby is being born, and will be raised, in a country different from his passport country.  It only seemed fitting to theme the nursery space around adventure and exploring.

I love all the little details that came together to make this special.  Like the hot air balloon print that I ordered and didn’t realize until it printed that it has the baby’s birth town labeled right at the heart of it.

Storage was important in such a small space.  The shelves under the bed were a cool surprise.  I bought one set for toy storage on the other side of the bedroom and immediately thought it would be cool to raise the crib on a double set while the baby is still small.  But I knew we could not afford to just buy 2 more.  It was a want but not a need.  When I was posting the last blog, I linked to the store where I bought the shelf.  When I went and found the link, the store was having a half price sale on that exact shelf that ended that night!  I thanked God and got 2 for the price of 1.

 

Speaking of that crib- I love it!  I ordered a white one online at the end of June.  The first week in August the company emailed me and said they were out of the white but would offer a substitute.   I was tempted to go a little emotional-pregnant lady at that point.  But instead looked at the website and found this “dusty aqua” color and loved it!  The map print was already hanging on the wall and when I saw it all together I knew it was another unknown answer to prayer that just made everything come together that much better.

And of course we had to make sure it could hold weight once it was put together 😉

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So there it is.  The room is done.  The hospital bags are packed.  We are now just waiting on the baby to make it all complete.

I promised this tour of the baby side of the shared room a while ago.  Pregnancy is a crazy weird time.  As I was finishing up painting the room 2 months ago, I noticed my hands starting to go numb as I was using them.  Since then, pregnancy induced carpal tunnel has taken over and my hands are pretty useless.  The new crib arrived and it sat for a while before I finally tackled putting it together.   Then the room was complete, but usually had some big sister “love” spilling over onto the baby side and not quite photo worthy.  Eventually, the photos were taken but due to my now constant pain/numbness in my hands, typing is not my friend anymore.  Yikes!

With my first pregnancy I got sudden and severe pre-eclampsia and had an emergency surgery to take care of it.  Since I have been through a life threatening complication, I feel like I should not complain about anything smaller.  But honestly, even small things can be frustrating.

I feel like we take this approach to problems in life a lot.  We don’t want to bother people, or even God, with our “little” problems when there are people in the world going through so much worse.  But thankfully, that’s not how God sees it.  1 Peter 5:7 tells me to give ALL my worries and fears to God.  And it says to do it because HE CARES FOR ME.  God doesn’t only care about me when I am going through really big things in life, He cares for me all the time.

Big or small, you are seen and you are loved today.  That is a promise to rest in.  Now, I’m going to go have a baby 🙂

 

Rebekah

Healthy Soul

When Life Marks the “Fail” Box

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I think most people lie when asked what their greatest fear is. I know I do. If you ask me what my biggest fear is I will probably answer bridges or fire. They are somewhat honest answers. I don’t like bridges, and I can’t handle people playing with matches and fire. But I still drive over bridges when necessary and I still light candles in my house. Those aren’t really my biggest fear.

The real answer- I have always struggled with a fear of failure. I don’t like getting things wrong. I wasn’t happy with less than an “A” in high school and maintained a high GPA in college as well. And it goes beyond that into adulthood as well. I like to be able to predict my husbands needs, to have our family outings planned for what we will need, to be able to pull off an event without any major glitches. Oddly enough, I would not call myself a perfectionist. I would define my fear of failure by saying that I like to feel like my hard work ends in success. I want to know my time and energy wasn’t wasted.

When I was sixteen-years-old I failed in my first attempt at getting my driver’s license. I didn’t handle it well. All of my other friends got theirs on their first attempt as soon as possible. So I lied. I pretended I hadn’t even taken the test yet, acted like it wasn’t a big deal to me at all. It took me a long time to even get behind the wheel and drive again and then an even longer time to reschedule the test. I could not handle the fact that I had not succeeded and found it impossible to admit that fact to others. By the time I did take the test again, I was much more prepared and passed the test just fine. When I told people I passed the test, I just acted like it was the first time I had taken it.

Now I am 31 and in the same position again. I moved to a new country and must learn to drive again. Over the past year, I have been in the process of “getting everything right”. I studied hard and passed the written test with no problems. Then the complications started. The test center was backed up for the driving test portion of the test. I had to schedule our test 4 months in advance. Already this made my timing a bit sketchy with a baby due in 6 months at that time. Then came the driving lessons. All month long leading up to the test I have been throwing our regular family schedule off with 2-hour lessons sprinkled all over the calendar. At the last minute they changed my test to the end of September, which was not possible with a baby due in the middle of September, and I got it switched around, but ended up with a date that was as close to my due date as I felt comfortable with. Meaning it was pass or wait until after recovery to try again. All of these details are simply to say, when I took the exam, I wanted to know that it was all worth it; that all the sacrifice and hard work that I had put in the past month ended in success.

As the test drew closer and my lessons progressed, I felt more and more comfortable with all the maneuvers and being able to do everything correctly. I was gaining confidence and knowledge and felt like I should be able to pass. I prayed that God would give me a calmness and a confidence as I drove and I knew I was capable of passing.

Still the night before as I was having trouble sleeping, I told Brian: When I was 16 I failed my driving test and I didn’t handle the failure well. I can’t shake the feeling that He might give me a second chance to do better with the failure this time around.

At the end of a 40-minute drive I had the examiner tell me I was a brilliant driver, one of the best he’s ever taken on a test. He handed me an almost empty report. There were 2 small marks on the entire sheet: 1 minor (you are allowed up to 15) and 1 serious — an automatic fail. The serious fault didn’t cause any danger to anyone and it would be tempting to call it silly, but rules are rules and I had committed the error and had failed the test.

I didn’t want that result, I wanted to know all my hard work had been worth it — that it ended with success. But “fail” was exactly the result I got. And even if I don’t like it, I can’t help but know it’s exactly the result God wanted me to have.   I should have passed the test, I’m a good driver, but I didn’t. Why? The obvious answer is that I made an error while driving. But the bigger answer, the one my heart is screaming in the hours since failing — Because God’s plan is bigger than my plan.

I have told God that with a baby coming in 6 weeks, I HAD to pass right now. I told him this was the best timing. I told him that this was the only way I could justify all the practice lessons and all the money we had spent setting this up. And He responded with, “I know better than you. Trust me.”

So I am trusting Him this time around. I trusted Him enough to immediately confide my failure in a few close friends. I was able to say, I failed, and I don’t handle failure well. God was able to use them to speak truth into my life before lies could root their way in. I am trusting Him with the timing of working in another exam and having a baby. And maybe most of all, I am trusting Him that while using my example of a seemingly small driving exam, I am stepping out of that grip that fear of failure has on my life.

That’s what trusting God is all about: taking the steps that might seem small to others, maybe even small to us at the time, but knowing that it is leading somewhere far greater than where I am now.

I have been given a second chance in dealing with my failure, and I don’t want to blow it. I want to trust God with His plan and His timing this time around. And I can’t help but wonder if, just maybe, someone else out there needs to do the same.

Rebekah

 

 

healthy family

Big Sister and Baby Shared Room Part 1

Brook before after room 1

Sometimes I get an idea, a burst of creativity, and the timing can be all wrong, but I bust into it head first anyway. That is exactly what happened 3 weeks ago. I had in my mind that our new baby would have a little “nook” in the hallway. As I tried to fit a changing table and some kind of storage in that tiny space, it became clear I was not living in reality. So then I started crying because we would have baby things spread all over the house, and I just wanted a place to make cute, and the changing table didn’t work at all, and I was selfish and didn’t want to give up our office space, and well . . . I am 7 months pregnant, it doesn’t take much to make me emotional these days!

For a while we have said when this baby gets old enough to sleep through the night it will share a room with our oldest. So I just decided, let’s go ahead and set up the room for that day now. I knew there was no way I could purge and paint in her room with my save-everything, full-of-questions, 5-year-old. So Big sister moved into the guest room and pregnant momma went to work on the makeover. I told her it would be one week. Three weeks later- we are finally ready for the room reveal!

 

The Before:

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Oh goodness this part is embarrassing!  Notice the random paper taped to the wall, the crayon drawing on the wall as well, outgrown clothes and forgotten toys stacked in tubs and boxes in the corner, and the utter chaos in general.  This room needed some serious love.

I spent an entire day cleaning and moving bedding and curtains out of the room. I way overdid it on Day One and Brian threatened to get me a babysitter if I didn’t promise to slow down. So I did. Husbands… 😉

These are the things I kept in mind while planning her “Big girl” side of the room

  • She LOVES crafts. This normally accounts for 75% of the mess and damage in her room. I wanted to make sure she had a space to be creative.
  • She doesn’t really play with “toys”.  Stuffed animals are great, but traditional dolls and toys are just not her thing.
  • She wears a uniform to school and is rarely in “real” clothes at home. Normally, she can be found in dress up clothes or a nightgown. So I wanted something functional for clothing storage, but it didn’t need to be huge.
  • She loves adventure and exploring! This was already the theme I had picked out for the new baby, so it was not hard to transfer it over to her side as well.
  • And maybe most of all: She LOVES being a big sister. Her relationship with little brother is one of the sweetest blessings in my life. I love watching them together. She is already so excited for a new baby. She even reads a story to my belly every night before bed. Talk about sweet!

So this is the result of all of those random thoughts meshing in my head

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I am so excited with how it all turned out!  I have been tremendously blessed with some great online finds, repurposing older items, and generous gifts that have allowed me save a load of money on the new baby, and to get a few special new items for this room.

One of those items goes along with the number one item- her LOVE for crafts

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A new small table and chair.  There was absolutely no need to buy craft supplies, or even organization for it- but I wanted a table large enough to be able to work on, but small enough to not take up the majority of her floor space.  This chair and table are from IKEA and they fit perfectly.

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A place to display her work was absolutely important.  Maybe the most important of all.  I had a really cool thick white frame that I had strung twine across and put cute clothes pins on to hang artwork and pictures from.  The morning I was going to reveal her room, I walked in and the frame had fallen off the wall onto the floor.  It was heavy.  Like, for real, heavy.  No panic, no tears, I just did something quick and easy.  I don’t love this plain wooden board (the bottom of an old drawer from a no longer used dresser) hanging on the wall, but I have no doubt she will have it so covered with masterpieces I won’t even see the wood soon. It works.

The next area is for toys and stuffed animals:

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I love this storage unit from B&Q and would love to put a comfy cushion on top one day.  But for now, her friends fill it quit nicely.  Like I said, we didn’t need a lot of room for toys, but I did put a few sets of figures in one box, and filled one with baby dolls and accessories.  I’m thinking there is a chance she will be more interested in baby dolls when we have a real baby in the house.  But if not, that box can easily be switched out for something else.

Then we get to the clothes:

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This odd little closet area used to be an outside entrance.  It’s now a closed off door, but with a cool little frame around it. So I painted the inside purple and bought 3 cheap tension rods.  Now there is a place for Baby’s clothes on top (when we know what gender clothes to buy), one for her dresses, and then the easiest to reach is everyday tops.  Underclothes, PJs, and bottoms all fit into the small dresser beside her bed. The dresser is a left over piece I found from a vanity set and then glued a sample tile to the top.

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A smaller dresser makes precious space for the most important clothes and shoes of all- dress up clothes!  The hooks were just relocated from a different spot in the room and the quote is my favorite from the new Cinderella movie, “Have courage and be kind”.  Words for all princesses to live by.

And that just leaves adventure and exploring:

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A small gallery above her bed really carries over from the baby side of the room.

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Brian captured this photo of the kids on a recent family hike and it’s perfect.  It’s 16×16 and makes all of us smile when we look at it.  The quote is a print I downloaded online and it also could not be more perfect for my girl, “Here sleeps a girl with a head full of magical dreams, a heart full of wonder and hands that will shape the world”.  The mermaid and feathers are also downloads that just fit with her spirit.  I do all of  my photo  printing on photo box website.  I can usually get a good deal and I am always happy with what I get.

One last detail I thought was incredibly important was a list to help her keep the room tidy.  At this point, everything has a spot- but with my girl, that organization can quickly deteriorate.  She loves to tidy up, but needs some direction with it.

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I am praying this dry erase marker does not end up all over the other frames in her room.  Time will tell… But on the first day she checked and erased the entire list about 5 times as she played and cleaned up each spot.  Who am I to laugh at a girl who loves a to-do list?!

I don’t want this post to go on forever, and I’m still waiting on a baby bed to be delivered.  So the “baby” side of the room will be Part 2- coming soon.  But it’s good, I promise!

I said at the beginning, sometimes I rush into things before I really think about what I’m doing.  I’m also impatient in the middle of a project, moving things I have no business moving, learning to drill holes because I don’t want to wait for someone else to do it, climbing higher than I should probably climb.  I’m not saying it’s a good quality, but it’s truth.

The first week of this remodel I was a mess of expectations.  I found out I was way more pregnant than I was admitting, and the room was way more work than I had expected. The ironic twist is that I was doing this whole thing for a girl who has no concept of time.  I told her at the beginning this would take one week.  At the end of 3 weeks I asked her how long she had been in the guest room.  Her answer: one week.

The reality is, this doesn’t just happen when I’m pregnant, and it doesn’t just happen when I’m painting a room.  It happens a lot in life.  I put higher expectations on myself than are realistic.  And I am usually the only one holding myself to those expectations.  Thankfully,  I am hopefully learning to slow down.  Rest is good.  Rest is important.  And help from others is important as well.  Now, I’m off to repeat those last two lines to myself as I look at my to-do list for today.

Rebekah

Healthy Soul

Choosing Trust over Fear

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I have a really hard time writing when I can’t be open and honest about what I’m learning. On January 7th I wrote my last post, on January 11th I found out I was pregnant! This was very wanted, but somewhat unexpected at the time. We have spent the last two months getting acquainted with the health care system in a new country, and lying low until we could finally get that appointment that assured us everything was going well. We got the appointment, and everything is going great! So now it’s time to rewind a bit and share what’s been on my heart the past two months.

My first two pregnancies and births have been a bit complicated, and since I have gotten healthier in the past year I wanted to have this beautiful, healthy, fit pregnancy.   It started out so good! For about three weeks I stayed gluten, dairy, and sugar free. I did my regular workout and I felt so good about myself. Then week 8 hit. I had no energy, all healthy food sounded horrible, and I was a mess of expectations. I struggled for about a week of this, and then I started giving myself some grace. I still felt tired. I still didn’t like food. But I ate some ice cream. It was glorious. I ate when I was hungry and what I was hungry for. I lowered my daily step goal from 10k to 6k. Most days I didn’t hit it, but I went to bed anyway. Then there was the hardest part, I put all my fun family adventures on hold. I told myself it was okay to have more family movie nights and less days out. Not all special moments have to be well planned or picture worthy.

I wanted to take this huge new development in my life and just add it right in with all the plans I already had. But that wasn’t God’s best plan for my life. In my case, this unexpected is a great thing, but throughout the past month we have been hit with some not so great unexpected events as well. Sometimes God brings situations into our life to slow us down, make us re-evaluate and change some priorities. But my natural tendency is to pray, ‘God, help me to fit this in my life on top of everything else like nothing has changed.’ When God started showing me that I couldn’t just keep-on-keeping-on like all was normal, my first reaction was fear. My body was reacting differently to this pregnancy than the other two and I convinced myself I was pregnant with twins (I’m not), that I was just old now (I kinda am) and then finally that it wasn’t even an actual baby, just a food baby from all my ice cream choices (thank God for that clear ‘real baby’ ultrasound a few weeks ago). This was just the tip of the worry iceberg along with other doubts and fears about our ministry and family.

As all this went on in my mind, Brian and I were in the midst of some soul detoxing, and I came across this quote that has been ringing in my mind since:

What you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least.
– Craig Groeschel

Through this one reminder, I have cried out to God in prayer with each fear that comes on my heart. At times, I was just praying for enough peace and comfort to get some sleep at night. At other times it meant trusting God to work in someone’s heart, to save a family, or keep my little baby safe and growing. Whatever the situation, it is always about choosing trust over fear. It is about realizing how much Bigger God is than any of my own efforts. And the best part of all of this: I saw it work! I saw God answer an amazing prayer overnight, I have felt Him calm my anxious mind. And I am still trusting Him to work out raging storms.

Prayer is active. It is real. With my whole heart I believe prayer changes impossible situations. In my 2016 experiences, I want to live like I believe that.

Rebekah

 

Uncategorized

2016: Moments, Stories and Risks

It’s 2016—bright, shiny and full of possibility. I am a lover of new years. I love making my lists and goals for the new year. This year I have a bit of a struggle: I really loved 2015. I kinda don’t want to say good-bye to it. In 2015 my family moved from the USA to the UK and loved it. In 2015 my lifestyle changed and I lost 60 pounds. In 2015 I saw people say yes to Jesus and lives changed. 2015 was good to me.

Brian and I like to set a word and a verse as a theme for our family for the year. And in the last week of the year, God pressed this word on my heart: Experience. Then the ball just started rolling. Goodbye to 2015 became easier as I started to ask myself: What do I need to do in my life to really experience this year?

  • I need to stay as healthy as I can.

I know you can’t simply plan a healthy year. Sometimes, illness happens that we have no control over. But there are things that we can plan. The food I put into my body and the exercise I do—that is under my control.

And as I was thinking about that, God brought this verse to my mind as well:

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalms 34:8

I’ve always thought this was a kind of strange verse. But when I put it in the context with everything else God has been doing in my life it got me all kinds of excited! I already stated that I lost 60 pounds in the past year and that God is really teaching me a lot about health. Probably the greatest lesson I have learned is to eat real food: food that God created for us to eat. Taste and see that the Lord is Good.

  • I need to spend less time on my phone.

I can deny it as much as I want, but I spend too much time distracted by my phone. It’s a fact and it needs to stop. To truly experience life around me- I need to look up and connect with life around me. Taste and SEE that the Lord is Good.

  • I need to say NO.

I’ve written about this before so I won’t spend time on it now. But sometimes saying NO to good things makes room in your life for the best things.

  • I need to say YES.

I’m not at all confusing am I? There is a time to say no and turn down opportunities. But experience is about taking risks. It’s about saying yes even when it makes my stomach churn and my head scream NO! In experiencing 2016 I want God to do things in my life that I don’t see coming, things that I can’t do on my own. That means I need to be willing to follow His leading in my life. I need to follow that leading even when it is outside my comfort zone. I don’t like typing that. It might seem like someone who left her home country shouldn’t have a struggle being a risk taker. Someone who followed God across an ocean should be a little spontaneous. You’d think that, right? I like my lists. I like my plans. It’s more than a little scary for me to pray, “God, mess my life up.”

It’s even scarier to mean it.

When I first came up with the theme of Experience, I had thoughts of family vacations and days out. I thought of hikes and new places. But what if God wants me to experience something totally different in 2016? What if my experiences are scary and even if they are not fun at the time? Am I content to know that “the Lord is Good”? Do I trust that He knows the plans He has for me, and that they are good plans? Do I trust that, even if they mess up my plans I have for myself? I pray at the end of the year I will be able to answer- yes, I trust that!

So that’s it. That’s the big plan for 2016. Experience. Moments not things. Stories not souvenirs. Risks not comfort.   It’s time to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Rebekah

 

 

 

Healthy Body

5 Things I did to Lose 60 Pounds

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It’s time for my now annual Birthday Post. On my 30th birthday I did a lot of goal setting. 30 felt momentous. Like I was embarking on something new. And I did! I knew I was moving to a new country, I knew my life was changing. I knew I needed to make certain changes. One of those changes was my health. While my birthday is in November, I didn’t actually start doing something about it until the end of February. Since that time I have lost 60 pounds in 9 months and hopefully gained some insight into this personal journey of mine.

The most common question people get when they lose weight is, “What did you do?” So this is what I did:

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  • I set goals. Before we even moved, before I changed any habits- I envisioned the future. I created a secret Pinterest board full of motivational quotes, success stories, and tips. I made a note on my phone setting out my rewards for every 10 pounds lost. Some of them were big- at 50 pounds lost was a new haircut and my first ever color! Some were small-60 pounds is a new coffee cup. I set a plan for saving money for those rewards, and I made a visual representation of my goal. I did all of this before I ever lost the first pound.

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Boston has gotten lots of rides in this pack this year

  • I started an active lifestyle. Brian and I have always loved going for walks, I’ve had gym memberships before, but I never actually had an active lifestyle. Our lovely village makes this so possible for me. I think an active lifestyle looks different for different people. For me it means I walk my daughter to school in the morning (1 mile round trip) and walk her home in the afternoons. I started an exercise program. At first it was twice a week, now I strive for 5 days a week and land somewhere around 3-4. Our family chooses to walk to places in our village instead of drive whenever time and weather allow. We spend our evening playing at the park instead of cooped up inside (again, this was easier in the summer). It’s the discipline to be ready earlier and the desire to be healthy that drives me to keep up with these changes.

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Almond Flour, Cheese-less Pizza

  • I focused on eating real food. I have not dieted in the past year. I did do a 30 day “cleanse” which consisted of no flour, no sugar, no dairy. For the most part I have stayed away from gluten (I’m not intolerant, but my body just doesn’t respond well to it) and I am daily striving to stay away from added sugars. As a general rule, we try to eat clean in our house. Meaning we eat food that is grown or raised instead of manufactured. I have always been a picky eater. When I was in 4th grade, I went an entire year refusing to eat anything red. I wouldn’t eat lettuce until I was in college. And don’t get me started on pickles… This year my world has opened up! As I am trying new things a whole new realm of recipe possibilities are opening up to me and I am loving it. What I am saying is- it IS possible to change your tastes! This is coming from a girl who lived on cereals and pasta and all things artificial. If you had told newly 30 year-old me that 31-year-old Rebekah would request homemade guacamole for her birthday meal, I would not have believed you!

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My all time favorite exercise: Adventures out with my family

  • I had help from friends. My husband has absolutely been amazing this past year. He is my biggest support and help. He has been trying to get healthy for years now, so he’s been all for trying new recipes and making healthy changes in our home. I dearly love my husband, but sometimes you just need a girl who understands all the emotional junk that comes along with this journey. My sister has been my secret weapon the past year. We have shared victories, frustrations, recipes, and fashion help (I ask- she helps). And as I started losing more and more weight people started noticing. Some people are natural cheerleaders. Find these people! I know the ladies at my church who will notice when I have lost another pound and will compliment me lavishly. I love seeing these people! When it feels like I am stuck, or just feel a little down on myself- they will always give me a little confidence boost.

 

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  • I realized this is a spiritual battle. I save the best for last. Here is the truth: none of this was me—it was all GOD. When my motivations are selfish, I will always fail over time. When my motivation is to glorify God with my life and my body, everything changes. I hugely recommend Lysa Terkeurst: ‘Made to Crave’ (or in the UK this link)* for anyone who wants to truly change her mind and heart in this area.

 

I said earlier this has been a personal journey. And this is what I have learned: it’s not about following all the rules correctly and achieving a top level; it’s about becoming. It’s about changing my daily habits, and my daily thoughts that then turn into weekly, monthly, and hopefully lifetime habits and thoughts. I think this is true of the Christian life as well. When I try to keep rules and expect perfection from myself—I fail. I fail big time. But when I daily make a choice to give God my heart and mind, I take steps at making new habits and patterns. I begin growing more like Him in my life in a process that will take a lifetime. Thankfully, it’s not a journey that I’m on in my own strength, but in His.

-Rebekah

*This post contains an affiliate link.  This means if you click the link and buy the book, I get a percentage of the sale and you don’t pay any extra!

 

Uncategorized

Holy Spirit

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Holy Spirit, you are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

I love this song. I have sung it at camp and truly felt the presence of God. I have sung it at church and my heart prepared for the teaching to come and God’s spirit to enlighten new truth in me.

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by your presence, Lord

But the other day this song was playing on repeat in my head and I was softly singing while I was at home going about normal household duties. Then I suddenly stopped and thought- YES! This is exactly the song that should be the soundtrack of my home. These lyrics should be the prayer of my momma/wife/ministry leader heart as I go about all my day.

Let us become more aware of your presence
Let us experience the glory of your goodness

Not at church camp, not in a beautiful chapel- in my everyday life. In the boring, in the messy, in the victories and the defeats I want to be aware of His presence. I want my home to say- Holy Spirit you are welcome here.

There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare, you’re our living hope

I believe this is the key to having that kind of home- making God’s favor worth more than anything else in my life. It has to be worth more than an organized schedule. Has to be valued over a clean house. Has to be sought after harder than well behaved kids. It has to be greater than an outward ministry.  Those are all good things, and those are all things that my heart desires so much especially as school starts back up and we get back to a ‘normal routine’.  I am so tempted to make those things the goal.  But when the goal of my heart becomes to experience God, I can truly sing-

I’ve tasted and seen, of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone
By your presence, Lord

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Rebekah

Healthy Soul, Uncategorized

Old made New

A little over a year ago, my church decided it was time to get rid of the pews that were originally built in to the floor of our building. Now this church is beautiful, and those pews were historic. But the church had a vision. The people in the church had a heart to serve the community. They knew this would best be accomplished by removing the permanent seating and replacing it with movable chairs. So the big change happened. The nearly 200 year-old pews were pulled up piece-by-piece and the floor was leveled out and a new beautiful floor went down. Since that time we have used the multipurpose room for a weeklong kids club, ladies teas, weddings, Kids parties, and other events all in addition to our weekly worship. The process was hard. It was long. But the results were beautiful and the room has new life.

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Yesterday I went to a coffee shop I had heard about but never visited. When I went upstairs to sit down I realized the table I was sitting at was a piece of my church. The shop had used some of the wood from the old pews and turned them into tables. And man, were they cool tables! In our church, those pews were no longer accomplishing the purpose we needed; but at this coffee shop they were given a brand new life and purpose.

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Now, let me tell you why I was at that coffee shop in the first place.

 

Last week I reached a point in my life, my ministry, and my soul where I was overwhelmed. I realized that in trying to do too much, I was shutting down and not doing anything well. Brian knew I was falling apart, and I did too. So we came up with a plan. My first step: fill my life with scripture (more on that later), my second step: to start reading a book to give me some guidance (my book of choice was “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst), and the third step: Brian graciously sent me out to, um, I guess you could say- get my stuff together.

 

When I walked into that cute little coffee shop yesterday and sat down at that repurposed table, I was working through cutting ‘good things’ out of my life to make room for the ‘best things’. Isn’t that just like God to orchestrate such a real life example of this literally right under my nose?

 

When those pews were removed from the church, there were some people who did not like it. When I start saying no to opportunities- some people will not like it. However, if those pews were never removed- the church would have never been able to minister in the variety of ways we have been able to this past year. If I never say no to a “good opportunity” I will not be available to minister in the BEST way God has planned for me.

 

And let me take this a step further: because our church was no longer using the wooden pews, the coffee shop was able to use it to make tables. When I say ‘no’ to an opportunity- I am giving someone else the chance to say ‘yes’. I am placing my trust in God to fill that need instead of putting trust in myself to do it all. Sure there are some things that I do that aren’t necessarily fun, but they are needed and I am the person for the job. This is not an excuse to pass off everything I don’t want to do. Instead it is a way to involve others in what God is doing.

 

I sat at that meaningful little table for a few hours and worked on simplifying (there’s that world again) my schedule and responsibilities. And God worked on refreshing my soul with the excitement of new possibilities. Possibilities that are born out of passion and vision instead of obligation and a fear of “no”.

 

Thank you, God, for using a seemingly simple table to help teach me a big truth.

 

Rebekah