like a seed

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As God prepares me for another season, one that starts in 21 days exactly, I’m anxious and expectant for how He’s moving, and at the same time I’m completely clueless as to what my life will hold.

Closing out this year, I have travel fever, an almost-loathing for political theory, and more new polaroids with pictures of me and my friends than I know where to hang on my wall. This post is short, but believe me, the journal entries behind it are piling up like little trinkets before one has a shelf to display them with. I’ve been furiously writing for months now, and God has been so graceful in teaching me about seasons and the blessings and struggles that come with each.

I don’t claim to know anything regarding the environmental impact of each season, or what would happen if we failed to experience one or more, but I do know without a doubt that each season spiritually only serves to draw us closer to God, and whether it’s one of quiet growth or loud promise-declaring, each season is sweet and after a while, it begins to grow on you like that Christmas sweater from grandma you’ve been trying to regift all year long.

Now that it’s the season to do so, and as we see this year coming to an end, it’s hard to let go.

There’s a song by Hillsong that goes like this:

Like a seed in the snow/ I’ve been buried to grow/

Though my waiting prolongs even greater/ Your promise for me like a seed/ I believe that my season will come

Don’t watch the clock. I’m preaching to myself, but deadlines and hear-back-by dates are crowding my thoughts, and that’s the season I’m in.

And it’s a privilege to have lived and loved in this time.

And I’m ready to let go.

 

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trade in your flip flops

June 1st.

The 22nd Thursday of two thousand seventeen.

A day I’m spending in the office, surrounded by blue wall dividers and white sheets with scripture and quotes framing my peripheral vision.

Five months ago I was celebrating a brand new year, the completion of my first college semester and the soon-to-be second semester. I had no idea the amazing sleepless nights God had in store for me.

I met my best friends in February, an expansion I could never have prayed for (and didn’t), yet am blessed by daily, and my perfectionist nature wants nothing more than to remember every moment I’ve spent with this family of believers, because every time we do spend time together, I am refined, called out, convicted, and encouraged. In spare moments I quickly scribbled down thoughts and advice, things God was speaking to me and truths I needed to remember for when the season wasn’t as sunny.

When I sit down in the future with a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon and sift through those hundreds of pages of writing, pushing past the detailed descriptions and digging through German side notes to the raw and unedited words, I want to find evidence of the constant truth that is that directions change. It presses on me daily that I’m really not in control of my life and the direction God has planned for me. In the past four months, it feels like I’ve driven up and down Lombard Street repeatedly (San Francisco’s most famous road, a steep incline complete with 8 hairpin turns), trusting that God knows when to change direction and how often to get me to my desired destination. His desire. Not mine. That needed to be clarified.

The path stays the same always, there will always be roots to trip us up and trees that form a dense canopy blocking the sunlight from the path for a time, and sometimes we just continue walking because it’s the only thing we know how to do. God is still with us, He simply chooses not to always hold our hand when we’re walking through forests. I think He wants us to experience the environment for all it really is, a living, breathing place that doesn’t exist simply for us to pass through on our way to bigger and better things.

God loves that forest as much as He loves us. That forest is this world. We aren’t here just to get to Heaven. We’re here to make a difference and shine a light under the rocks that can’t do it themselves. We’re meant to aid breakthroughs and bring joy to dark places and make love famous.

Jentezen Franklin, pastor of Free Chapel, once preached a sermon on having a listening ear. It is one of my favorites because it addresses our purpose and the direction God has called us towards, but can just as easily remove from the equation. What is critical is that we have an open ear to listen to change in direction. Take your navigation system, for example. I personally don’t get in the car, look at the first instruction, say “Oh yeah, I know where I’m going” and then turn off all navigation for the rest of the ride. I would end up halfway across America by the time I realized that I was supposed to switch interstates 102 miles ago! No, I keep the navigation system on until I reach my destination. If it tells me to change lanes, I don’t question why. Why then do I question God when He prompts me to fast, or to take a break from Netflix to refocus on the priorities in my life? If I miss this exit, there’ll be another one in a few minutes, but the driving distance back to my destination increases with every missed exit, and the road back won’t be all highways. There will be bumpy back roads where the speed limit is 35 and I’ll wonder when I left the highway and for goodness sakes, why?!

No, we follow the first instruction and listen for the second instruction, and the third, and so on, until we reach our goal. We can never allow ourselves to get too comfortable with the leaves under our feet because in a heartbeat God may place the seashore on our hearts. Or He may call us from the grassy backyard to the rocky mountain terrain. We have to be attentive to His voice so we do not miss the next thing He has in store for us, because we know, we KNOW, that His plans are good and He has a purpose in everything He does.

We have to be willing to trade in our flip-flops for hiking boots and our tennis shoes for bare feet.

We are committed to this journey and everything that it brings, and one day, we will be walking streets of gold. Free gladiator sandals for everyone: D

 

pay cash for something

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Be a voice,  not an echo.

Today, simply be. Stick with the first outfit you put on and rock it.

Don’t feel like life is just a checklist and if you have fewer than 3 bullets your day was wasted. I’m writing this as much to myself as I am to you.

Those two things you wrote down could be

  1. love well
  2. make someone else happy today

 

Or they could be

  1. Reminisce
  2. Eat ice cream

 

And you know what. Even if those bullets you wrote down today were too ambitious and you feel like a failure for not managing to check even two things off your list, please know this.

There’s always tomorrow. And you’re gonna wake up tomorrow morning refreshed and loved by Creator God who doesn’t care if your handwriting looks like everybody else and who really doesn’t mind that for some reason you can’t get those lines straight in your Bible or any other book you choose to write in. And that’s the most beautiful part.

Chip Gaines, one half of the Fixer Upper duo on HGTV blogged this recently and it struck a chord in my heart. he said:

If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow – we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love. Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith. That’s all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we’re already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don’t ask us to cause we won’t play that way.

When’s the last time I jumped to a conclusion about somebody else? Probably today. Was I wrong? Probably. Am I trying to get better? Every day.

I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day and be able to say, without breaking eye contact “you did the best you could today, and you are infinitely loved. and tomorrow you get to love someone else all over again.”

I added Chip’s quote because I want to challenge myself. If I’m all about not throwing stones at others, why would I throw them at myself? Why would I want to play that way?

Yes I want to love others. I want to love others so well that I can’t live without loving someone on a daily basis. I want to walk through the city where I live and feel so much love for everyone living there that I don’t dare hold it all in because the more I love, the more love I have to give and if that isn’t a wonderful thing then I’m doing something terribly wrong.

I want to be present. I want to be a participant. I want to reach out even if no one is grabbing my hand.

I want to be honest with others and with myself. And I can’t imagine not being honest with God.

I pray that every day from here on out would be 24 hours of intentional living. That you would break out your pens and write yourself a love letter that doesn’t hold back. I pray that if you’re on the edge of giving up on your New Year’s Resolution or your goal for twenty seventeen, you would make yourself a promise. If it’s completely unreachable, give it up. If it’s a dream, reward yourself and work tirelessly towards that goal. For me it’s traveling. Traveling is my greatest reward and I found that out through trial and error.

Pour yourself a cup of tea, and do something old-fashioned. Talk to someone in person. Balance your checkbook. Drive to the store and buy those Amazon Pantry items yourself. Pay cash for something. And remember how good it feels to live. Or honestly, don’t do any of those things.

Don’t let me tell you what I think will make you feel productive or powerful or lazy or encouraged or challenged or in control of things.

Do whatever YOU know will make you feel those things.

It’s time to listen to your own voice.

fare well 2016

 

It’s December and I find myself waiting. Waiting for the next test to be over. For the next essay to be turned in. For the weekend to end and the week to start. For the week to end and the weekend to start.

I love Christmas and I love the waiting period that leads up to it, but this year it feels different. Spending my first Advent away from home, another holiday season coming and going, it all makes me want to stop time and live large. 2016 is almost over and I filled it with joy and beauty, and nothing makes me more grateful than having no regrets.

I don’t know who is reading this right now, and maybe I’m just writing to myself, but I don’t want you to ever fear failure or grimace at regret. We are all constantly learning and in the end, we’re all just beautiful messes. It’s the imperfections that keep us alive, motivating us to push further and further (High Strung). We’re made more beautiful by our scars and by the stories we can tell because of that year, 2016, that made us all a little stronger.

So here’s my farewell to 2016.

Thank you twenty sixteen for teaching me more about myself than I ever knew was possible. Thank you for challenging me, for teaching me faith, for helping me be patient and practice what I preach, for making new friends and pursuing genuine relationships. Thank you for all of the late nights that I didn’t spend in my dorm room but with people talking about Jesus and His goodness. Thank you for all the nights I woke up in different cities around the world. I know that you wanted nothing but the best for me and I know that I squeezed every last drop out of you. I laughed, I cried, I wrote more than ever before, and most importantly, I lived. You were so worth it. 

To be honest, I alway get giddy around this time of year. Knowing that we all get a blank slate to pursue our dreams, travel, and make something of ourselves fills me with an  “inexpressible joy”, like the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 1:8. I can’t wait for God to work in 2017; for Him to mold me into the disciple He wants me to be. I started really intentionally memorizing scripture in 2016 and I saw so much fruit from that alone. Having the Word of God in my back pocket at all times make every situation seem like a conquered challenge. Knowing I am found in Christ, that I have the God of angel armies surrounding me on every side is enough to make me smile my biggest smile when I think of 2017.  

Unlike I usually do, I won’t set my plans for the new year in stone. In the past, I always knew that God had the power to change my plans at a moment’s notice, but I never allowed or that option in my planning. It brings so much frustration when we try to wrestle with God about the best plan for our lives. We’re fighting a losing fight. We become like children fighting over scraps of food in a dark alleyway, thinking that they will satisfy our hunger when right around the corner, Times Square is flashing with all of its lights and it’s high-end coffee shops, and Jesus just standing there, arms wide open, saying let go. Please let go.

My church is in the middle of a series called “the exchange”. The idea is that if we let go of what’s in our hand, God lets go of what’s in His hand. Whether that means finances, goals or material things, God wants us to be generous and share it with our neighbors. We all know that giving to someone else feels so much better than keeping something for ourselves, yet it’s only around Christmas that we become givers instead of takers. Our ideas and goals will never amount to the beauty that God has in store for our lives when we let Him take over.  

crossing the finish line

54 days until Christmas. The countdown is on.

Time to make goals for 2017. Time for self-evaluation and reflection.

Time to prepare for finals.

Time to register for next semester’s classes.

Time to decide another aspect of my life.

But don’t forget to relax at a corn maze in this 82 degree weather we’re having.


There are so many thing warring for my attention right now, but this is the one I want to focus on.

I want to talk about imitation.

I have several bloggers that I look up to and whose stories I read almost religiously, but I’ve found myself trying to model my writing after theirs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their points are valid and I appreciate their example, but why would I use the same tone of voice and style as they are using if there is already one blog like that on the market? I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m trying to share MY heart, not copy and paste their entries in a different format.

Patience.

Another thing that God is teaching me.

I hate waiting. The ER is my worst enemy, and having moment of rest  quickly turn into checklists for me. Whatever it is, I don’t think we are cut out for waiting. That’s why we need God’s help to mold us and come alongside us when we’re tempted to crave instant gratification.

I remember when I was little; I would check my mailbox daily for a letter. I didn’t know who I would receive a letter from, but I knew that eventually, something would show up in the mailbox with my name on it. I’m still that way. I love waiting when it comes to good gifts that I know are heading my way, but I can’t stand the unbearable wait when I don’t know the exact date and time I’ll receive my blessing or an answer.

I’m planning a Spring Break trip to New York for a few friends right now, and it’s hard waiting on permission and paychecks to come in when I know that I could have planned the trip in two days.

But God keeps reminding me that in the wait, He is refining me. He’s showing me other options and opening my eyes and I’m grateful that He doesn’t follow my calendar and isn’t fazed by my flawed schedule. I imagine Him looking down at me chuckling, unfazed by my tantrums, whispering “but if you would just listen-“, only to be interrupted by my whining “God, I know that this gift is from you, why can’t I have it now?” He just responds “patience Beccy. Wait. You have no clue what I have in store for you.” And He’s right. I have no clue. But I’m trying to live my life in preparation for whatever He sends my way.

 

God Is (a story of condesa and twins.)

A serene coffee shop in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Perfect weather: sun shining into floor-length windows. Hot Chocolate. The best I’ve ever had. And most importantly, conversations with Dani.

Dani is my sister. Not biologically. Not my long lost twin. This isn’t “The Parent Trap”. But I wish it was.

Dani is my spiritual sister. We both have dark curly hair (although she knows how to tame it much, much better than me), we both love Jesus, and we both find reasons to laugh every day. We both love fresh air, and it feels like we’ve known each other forever. And Dani is the one who came to Condesa Coffee with me the first day of Fall Break. We spent the entire morning laughing, talking, dreaming about our future travels and sharing  pictures of our past travels. She’s from Costa Rica, and I’m from Germany, so we had LOTS to talk about.

I remember that the closer I got to moving into college, the more anxious and apprehensive I became. I missed all of my best friends from high school, and I didn’t know if I would find connections like that again, and so I prayed that God would send me some new Christian friends that would encourage me and that I could be an encouragement to.

I wasn’t expecting this. The first night of college, Dani and Darice (another SUPER encouraging best friend of mine) walked in and introduced themselves. They had both lived on my residence hall last year, and Dani had lived in my current dorm room! We struck up a conversation, and the past 8 weeks have been history!

I’ve been invited to prayer meetings, played a piano in the music hall at 11 pm (shoutout to Darice’s all access music pass), missed the correct exit on the Interstate (a couple of times), and had some amazing conversations about my faith and what it means to be a Christian in the process.

All that to say: don’t be anxious. God is the amazing tech crew working behind the curtain as well as the stage director, drama teacher, and main character all at the same time. We’re all just background characters with a few lines, reflecting the light of HIS glory, and there’s nothing more fulfilling and comforting than knowing that anything we do will make Him shine more and more.
Back to the coffee shop. Dani and I sat there for two hours talking, and any time there’d be a lull in conversation, we’d both open our journal to the next blank space (cue Taylor Swift) and just write. I’ve only known one other person that can wholly and fully devote their attention to what they are doing at the moment (hi Madi:)), and I think that it’s one of the most honorable traits in todays time. Looking across the table, I saw this beautiful girl that has the biggest heart, and all of it is reserved for Jesus! She’s not perfect, and if any of us think we are, then God help us, because we wouldn’t need a Saviour (channeling my inner London tourist) ! There’d be no need for repentance, and what a sad world that would be. One without a personal relationship with Jesus is not a world that I want to live in.

Coffee shop. Focus Beccy. I could have spent all day there. It was amazing. I don’t know if I can describe in words how fall makes me feel. The air just changes. Sitting in that coffee shop with a hot chocolate in my hands, a comfortable silence enveloping me, and the leaves falling right outside the door is magical in a Jesus sense. He creates that magic. I love how the trees change color and then shed their leaves. Fall is such a short season, but such a distinct one, too. In the morning, the air is 46 degrees and extremely cold (for all those people that don’t get up at 7 am…), but it’s crisp and fresh. Fall is definitely my favorite season.

I love what fall means. Yeah, PSL’s are all the rage, but the meaning is deeper. Grabbing coffee (or tea, my very favorite right now) with a friend is a chance to slow down and reflect on the past 10 months. Target has fall essentials on display as soon as you walk in, and it brings a smile to my face seeing recipes for comfort foods being posted on FB and Insta.  Fall is snuggling with your brand new kitty (yes, shoutout to my brand new kitty, Lucy) and watching Star Wars with your brothers until the kitty is fast sleep on your lap and the clock reads 4:45 am. It’s a time where walking outside elicits a quick shiver and then a smile.

Last year around this time, I was patiently, actually, no, not patiently, waiting for my best friend to fly in from Germany. We spent two months loving the cold weather, and those are days I’ll never forget. Fall is just so indescribable, kind of like our God.

I’m grateful to live in a climate where I get to enjoy fall to the fullest extent, and I’m grateful for a God that is with us through all the season where we need to shed old habits an endure the cold for a little bit. The best part is that God doesn’t leave us there without a fall coat. He wraps us in HIS love and whispers promises to us. Fall will end and spring will come, bringing new life with it. (The thing that Georgians call winter is somewhere in between there, too).

So please, PLEASE don’t miss this season! Walk through IKEA and walk out with brand new journals and a new bedspread. Be spontaneous. Take back roads. Strike up conversations with strangers in a coffee shop, find out they are Christians, and admire pictures of their beautiful baby boy. And most importantly, take time to invest in PEOPLE. Not the texting conversations we all have sporadically that come and go with no real goal. The face to face conversations that can only happen in an unfamiliar environment when the day is free for the taking and the hours seem to last forever although you’re having so much fun 🙂

I used to think I needed a boyfriend to go on fun dates like this, but in reality, life is to be lived to the fullest every day, no matter who we surround ourselves with. Plus, seasons like fall teach us all about the beauty of waiting for better things, and that includes waiting for whoever God wants to place in our lives at the right time.

much love♥

James 1: 2-3

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

dole out praise

When managers delegate tasks, what is more effective? Yelling and screaming, or praise for past work and tips on how to improve?

The latter has been proven to be more successful in almost every instance. It’s the same way with people in non-work settings.

Small utterances of praise not only brighten our day, they give us something to look back on and note ‘that person was proud of me, so I can do this’.

In the past few days, I’ve heard teachers praise students during conferences with the student, heard leaders praising students, and heard friends praising each other around campus, and it warms my heart.

I’m the student that sits in the front of the class (and sadly still doesn’t know everyone in her English 226 class because of this) and answers all of the questions. About six days ago, I had someone from that very class approach me as I was reading outside, and he told me that I brought up some great points in class, and that what I said was very interesting and pertained to the topic we had discussed the day before.

He left, but I was so excited! Maybe I was finally beginning to fit into college, and people were starting to notice what set everyone else apart in a good way!

His comment has stuck with me this week, and I know that when I doubt my abilities or in the quality of my answers, I know that at one point, I knew what I was doing, and somebody recognized that!

I’ve tried to become more intentional about praising others, letting them know when they did something well or I appreciated their time and effort. It not only brightens their day, but it fills up your love tank a little, too, and that’s the best feeling.

Compliments are meant to be given, not just to be taken, and sharing a smile or a laugh with someone you haven’t met on campus or at work is sure to give you energy for the tasks ahead 🙂