Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Bike Ride...

This past Sunday evening, the weather was gorgeous outside. It was around 7:00pm and through the trees, I could see that the sun was slowly setting. All of a sudden, I decided that I wanted to go on a quick bike ride and enjoy the sunset from our gravel road. I asked a few of my sisters if they'd like to join me, but they were busy with other things and didn't really want to come. In fact, they looked at me like I was crazy! (I guess some people don't enjoy physical activity...especially spur-of-the-moment physical activity. lol) But I wasn't persuaded to stay in the house by their odd glances. I just resigned myself to the fact that I'd be going alone.

I walked down to the machine shed to grab my bike, and I found my Dad was in there working on one of our lawnmowers. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was going on a quick bike ride. Often, it's just Dad and I that go biking together, but that night he really needed to get the lawnmower working and wasn't able to come with me.

So, I set off down the road all alone. It was so quiet and peaceful. I began to think that it was actually nice to be alone and just enjoy the beautiful sunset in silence. I decided to ride to the end of our road and sit there while the sun went down. It's so beautiful to see the sun set over the golden cornfields with all the little farm houses on the landscape. My heart was singing, "Oh, Lord - how great you are!"
But soon, my nice quiet trip turned a little sour as I was distracted by several other thoughts that kept popping into my head. "Ugh, it's so difficult to ride on gravel." "Yikes! Have all the gnats in Linn county decided to settle here? They're dive-bombing my eyes and nose. Yuck!" "When did our road get all of these hills? I wanted a nice bike ride, not a workout!"

Needless to say, my bike ride was not going as planned. My legs were burning, my eyes were watering from all of the bugs that decided to lodge there, and my hair kept blowing in my face. I could barely see the road, let alone the beautiful sunset! My mood has definitely turned from excitement to frustration. And then they came, the thoughts of defeat and compromise. "Maybe I should just turn around and go home. This isn't what I thought it was going to be, and there's another larger hill ahead. I've swallowed a million gnats and I'm getting a little sweaty. I should just turn around."

Yes, there was a battle raging in my head. What should I do? I wanted to make it to the end of the road and enjoy the sunset, but there were all of these "good reasons" to turn back. I rode awhile longer, the large hill getting ever closer, still trying to decide. And then, the Lord reminded me of something. He said, "Bekah, you can turn around if you want to. You're right - it would be easier." And He reminded me of a few areas in my life where recently I've made small compromises and I've sometimes given up when the going was getting tough. I stopped my bike and stood there for a minute, knowing that He was right. I was getting a little off track and I needed to refocus on Him. I silently prayed for His help and His strength to do those hard things. (Remember the gnats? I wasn't about to open my mouth!)
But then He encouraged me, "Press on! Ride up that hill and to the end of the road. Finish what you started to do! And let this night, this bike ride, be a reminded to you in the coming days. Whatever I have called you to do, I will work in you and through you to accomplish it."

Feeling very encouraged, I jumped back on my bike and pounded up that hill. Were there bugs? Oh, yes. Lots of them. Was it tough? Yep. Especially because I was stopped and didn't have the momentum built up. But was it worth it? Absolutely. The sunset was gorgeous. The colors were bright and so vivid, and they appeared to rest on the tops of the corn stalks at times. The wind died down and the night was deathly still. It was perfect.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera. But that's okay. That night was just between me and my Lord, anyway.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Before I get around to typing my long overdue post, I thought I would upload a few pictures from this summer...mostly from the Bright Lights conferences in August. Then I'll *hopefully* get around to writing an update later this week. Enjoy!

Leah and I on the dock at Story Book Bible Camp. We went there on Thursday (relaxing day) during the crazy conference week in Duluth. It was gorgeous weather and so fun!

Playing ultimate frisbee at the camp. I was loving every minute of exercise I could get!

Canoeing with Nickie. And no, I never caused the canoe to tip. lol

Dressed up and ready for "The Counselor Skit"

My small group at the Radiant Purity conference in Duluth. We had some very good discussion times and I came away excited about how the Lord was working in their lives!

"Yes, we're sisters."

This is a horrible shot, but it's the only one I have of me kayaking. I LOVED it! I had never gone kayaking before, so it was definitely an adventure.

With Karissa before "The Conscience Skit". I love acting like a spoiled brat on stage!

My "small" group from the Cedar Rapids conference. We had a great time together!

Abby Kramer and Rachel. We had a fun time going out to dinner with Abby and Lindsay when they came to volunteer at the Bright Lights office.

Me and Lindsay!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Have you ever heard of a GMO? I'll confess, I hadn't until recently. The term GMO stands for "Genetically Modified Organisms", and my older sister, Rachel, began doing some research about GMO a little over a month ago. She thought that eliminating GMO from my younger sister, Avalon's diet might balance her mood swings and help her to focus, make progress in speech and social behaviors. (For those of you who don't know my family very well, we adopted Avalon in 2008 after having her in our home through foster care since she was 20 months old. She has a significant delay in speech and social behaviors, but she is a smart girl! She amazes us academically and is a hard worker. She has a merciful, tender heart and we love her and thank the Lord for bringing her to us!)

Anyway, Rachel has read through 2 books on the subject of GMO (author - Jeffrey M. Smith), consulted with my parents, and has put Avalon (and herself) on a "GMO-free" diet for 30 days. Avalon is on day 18 right now, and to be honest, we haven't seen any major changes. But even if we don't see dramatic results on the outside, we are still planning to elimate most of the processed food that she used to eat once these 30 days are over. We've done a major overhaul in her diet, including a lot more fruits and veggies (she was a very picky eater!) and Rachel spends several hours a week baking things that she can eat. (Homemade chicken nuggets and ketchup, graham crackers, banana bread, fruit popsicles, etc.) Rachel has found some great recipes, and we've found that we prefer our homemade recipes more than store bought items!
We're also excited to see our garden plants growing bigger. (Pics above...ignore the weeds. No garden is perfect. LOL) We can rest assured that our garden produce has not been genetically modified!
I encourage you all to eat fresh this summer! Take advantage of local Farmer's Markets...grow your own garden...enjoy the delicious produce that the Lord designed for us to eat. I simply can't wait until harvest time!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Family Vacation

These are a few pictures from our family vacation to Des Moines last weekend! We enjoyed staying in the Adventureland hotel and swimming in the hotel pools on Friday, and then we went to the Adventureland park all of Saturday. It was great! I took the weekend off of "typical exercising" and traded in my gym shoes for a swim suit and flip flops. But it worked out great. We swam for over 3 hours on Friday, and though I didn't swim laps, it was a workout playing with Avalon and Bethany and chasing after them. (We went down the slides countless times, and climbed up stairs to get there.) And on Saturday, we walked several miles in the theme park. (I have blisters to prove it!)
I really feel awful about my lack of posting recently. This Census job is taking up more time than I thought, and blogging just hasn't been a top priority. I appreciate all of your comments and how you've hung in there with me! We have embarked on a new family diet for at least the next 30 days, and I'm planning to explain the diet in my next post. (I can't post about it quite yet, because I haven't finished reading the book. ) It's been quite the challenge...but I love how our fridge is overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies! I made some steel cut oats for breakfast and sprinkled some brown sugar and blueberries on top. Delicious! If you haven't tasted steel cut oats, you MUST! They are so much better than regular rolled oats. Rolled oats tend to be "blah" in the texture category, and steel cut have a nice, hearty texture. I'm hooked!
On a completely different note, I've been memorizing the book of Philippians recently and want to leave you with this verse. I think it sums up my prayer about my weight perfectly!
Philippians 1:20 "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
Blessings ~ Bekah

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Breaking the "dry spell"

The busyness of life goes in waves, and this past month has left me with very little time to even think about writing something coherent! I've sat down several times with the purpose of blogging, but then I was interrupted by something and never seemed to find my way back to my laptop........However, today will be different. I will update! Even if it takes me all day to get this typed. :-)

I've been faithful in exercising this past month and eating as healthy as possible. But I've had a few curve balls thrown my direction and I've been challenged to think creatively. For example, I'm working another job position with the Census Bureau and I had two days of training at a library in one of the many little Iowa towns. The first day, I did not pack a lunch because I assumed that I'd be able to find some sort of local restaurant that sold salads or lean meat sandwiches. Well, when I arrived that morning - I found only a small Casey's gas station. Not exactly what I was planning on! At our lunch break, I didn't have time to drive back to find the nearest Subway, so I walked down to Casey's and began looking. Yogurt? Nope. Any kind of fresh vegetables or fruit? Nada. I had to settle on a package of peanuts (protein and fat) a cheese stick (which was a healthy choice) and the most healthy granola bar I could find. I learned my lesson and packed a salad and apple the next day!
The other thing that was challenging during those two days of training was my lack of exercise. I had to leave my house at 6:45am to arrive to training by 8:00am, which didn't allow time for me to exercise before leaving. And then, I had to sit in training for two days! On the first day, I went outside at our first break and found that I could take a quick walk around the block 2 times before break time was up. And I did that at every break for those two days! I don't know what the neighbors thought, seeing me walk around their block multiple times a day. But getting outside and walking helped me to stay awake and focused as I sat through two days of boring training!

Along with silly training, I've also been challenged to "stay the course" even when my schedule didn't allow for exercising a few days. That's going to happen - that's life. But just because I couldn't jump on the treadmill or throw in a DVD doesn't mean that I couldn't get exercise that day. It was no excuse to sit around. It just meant that my exercise needed to be creative! Like last Saturday, when my "exercising" involved driving stakes into the ground and wrapping the wire garden fence around them and running the hand held tiller around the garden and in between the rows of onions. I definitely worked up a sweat! (And was covered in dirt...lol)

Life isn't going to be perfect. Things aren't always going to turn out like we planned. That's why we need to have a plan, do our best to follow it, and learn creative ways to accomplish it when we hit roadblocks. That's a lesson that I've been learning recently. When my plans for my day don't turn out like I want, do I just settle for an "okay day" or do I push myself to find different ways to make it a good day? Do I sit back and give into selfish attitudes and throw self control out the window, or do I make adjustments based on the knowledge I've attained? Would I just grab a bag of chips and a candy bar at Casey's (which did sound good) or spend 10 minutes looking through the store and try to find the most healthy choice?

Small choices add up to big results. And I'd encourage all of you to make the good small choices every day, trust the results to the Lord, and be amazed at what He'll do through you!

Happy to be back! ~Bekah

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Favorites...

We've had quite a few days of lovely spring weather here recently (sometimes even downright hot weather!), which has prompted me to pull out my spring/summer clothes that have been packed away.

I was a little hesitant to make the switch in clothing, simply because I knew that with the weight I'd gained back this winter, the clothes were either going to be tight or not even fit at all. And that was a rather depressing thought! I wanted to ignore that fact, but it was time for me to just face reality and keep moving in the direction to change! From what I've tried on so far, all of the blouses and tops still fit (which is a blessing, because I really like them!). And I expected that they would, because, being a "pear" - the weight heads south, if ya know what I mean. :-)

But as I suspected, the Capri's, shorts, and skirts are tight in the rear-end. The only blessing I've discovered so far is that after digging through my bucket of clothes, I realized that need new Capri's anyway. So I decided to head into Kohls one afternoon and see if I could find a nice pair. Little did I know what a discouraging afternoon that would be!

I knew the style that I wanted and after grabbing a few different brands, I went into the dressing room to try them on. One after the other, I threw them into the "reject" pile as they all had different "weak points". Too tight in the thighs....too much room in the waist....not long enough....they don't sit right on my hips...too tight in the rear....etc. I was in the store for over an hour, and I'd guess that I tried on at least 8 different brands and 15 different pairs...but nothing worked. I felt like I must have the most unique body of everyone! Which normally brought comfort and appreciation, but that day brought frustration.

It was hard not to walk out of the store feeling down, with doubts swimming in my head. Not only was shopping not enjoyable, it was like a constant reminder screaming, "You've gained weight! You've gained weight! Nothing fits! You've failed!".

Now, at this point, you must be thinking, "Uh, did she forget that she was supposed to post about a favorite thing? I was hoping for another recipe. This is kinda depressing to read..." But don't bail out on me yet! My favorite thing is coming up soon. :-)

As I sat in the car and pulled away from Kohls, I was just praying that the Lord would bring a verse to mind that would encourage me and that He would help me to focus on Him instead of the thoughts of defeat. Because at that point, I was ready to go have a good cry somewhere! And He was so faithful to bring not just one verse, but a whole host of verses to mind. Snippets of Scripture like "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us", "I have loved you with an everlasting love", " My grace is sufficient for you and my power is made perfect in your weaknesses", "you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons", etc. And the Lord gently reminded me just because I couldn't find Capri's that day doesn't mean that I should "throw in the towel" and give into defeat. He is to be the source of my joy, my fulfillment, my security, my everything. I should not be looking to Capri's to make me happy! (Which sounds ridiculous even as I type that, but I think we do that in all different areas of our lives.) I was challenged as I realized how often I let "superficial things" determine my thoughts and emotions, which in turn determines my moods and actions. I mean, seriously - so what if the Capri's didn't fit! Was I going to allow that to steal my joy and my motivation?
By God's grace, I decided that I wasn't going to let that day be marked with defeat, but that I was going to continue walking in His strength and move on, let it go. I needed to raise a flag of surrender, but not to the store - to Christ!

So, while my attitude improved, I still had a huge hole in my wardrobe that I knew I needed to fill up pretty quickly. I decided to just make plans to head to another store as soon as it worked into my schedule and just trust the Lord about the whole thing. Well, have you noticed how the Lord loves to surprise and bless His children? I was so excited yesterday as I saw Him doing that for me.

My family was in Des Moines yesterday for a Bible Quizzing competition, and after we finished up that day, my Mom decided that we would go to Bass Pro Shop and let my little sisters have some fun looking at all of the "stuffed animals". (lol )So, we went in and the little girls absolutely loved looking around at all the different animals they have on display, especially the talking moose head. :-) And as we walked in, I noticed that they had a rather large selection of very nice women's clothing and I saw a pair of Capri's that looked really comfy and cute. So I asked Mom if it would be all right to look around a bit, and after getting the "go ahead" from her, Hannah (my resident fashion expert) and I went through the racks. And would you believe it? I walked out of that store with 2 pairs of darling, comfy Capri's and 1 pair of shorts! From the Bass Pro Shop! I've never been to that store in my life and had no idea that they sold clothes, but my Father in heaven knew, and He orchestrated our schedule so that I would be there on that day and would be able to get what I needed. I don't deserve His blessings (none of us do) but I'm so thankful that we serve a God who desires to be intimately involved in our lives and who blesses us even though we don't deserve it.

And that's my favorite thing this week - that our Lord looks past who we are and what size of clothes we wear and chooses to love and bless us even in the midst of our struggles and doubts. The Scripture says to, "Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you", and I praise the Lord for how He demonstrated that so clearly to me this week. I'd encourage you all to be fervent in "casting" and leave the "caring" to Him, because I think that we often do the exact opposite. We begin "caring" and worrying about our problems and try "casting" them to whoever or whatever we think can fix them, instead of simply "casting" them to Christ and leaving the results in His hands.
It's yet another lesson the Lord has be teaching me through this clothing experience. Oh, and I also learned one other valuable piece of information - don't judge a store by it's name...you might just get surprised!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Attack of the Crocodile...

Avalon and Bethany

What do 3 energetic little girls, 2 older sisters, a hula hoop and a beautiful spring evening have in common? The crocodile game!!!!!

Last night, Rachel and I were in charge of entertaining the munchkins as the rest of the family cleaned up after supper. Avalon, Bethany, and our 18 month old foster baby girl were eager to play outside, so we headed out to the swing set. It was a beautiful night (though rather windy, but when you live in the country - you get used to it) and after playing for about 20 minutes we were all getting a little bored. So, I decided to come up with a creative way to play! I grabbed the hula hoop and threw it as far as I could, which prompted the girls to all chase after it and see who could run the fastest and grab it first. "Hey, this might work out nicely", I thought. "What kind of game could I come up with using this hula hoop? There's only one, and I don't want to have the girls fighting over it...hmmm".

And then it hit me! The girls love to play games where they are being chased, especially when they have to run for their lives from a ferocious bear, lion, tiger, etc (aka a big sister!). So, I called the girls over to me and told them that we were going to play "the crocodile game". Their little eyes grew big and they excitedly said, "Okay!!!!". I told them the simple rules I had made up: I would be the "crocodile" and they were little fish. I was pretending that I wanted to catch and eat the little fish and the only way they could stay safe was if they ran to the hula hoop (which was lying on the ground) and jumped inside the circle. Every once in awhile, I'd run over and grab the hula hoop and throw it again, so they were forced to keep running around. It worked brilliantly! The air was soon filled with the most convincing crocodile noises you've ever heard (wait...do they make noises? Well, I decided that crocodiles must grunt and growl...lol...it added to the "scariness"). And the girls were screaming and giggling, running around our spacious "front lawn" and working together to keep the scary crocodile away from them.

It was fun, and before I knew it, I was getting a little sweaty. Nothing like a good cardio workout before bedtime. If only burning calories could be so easy and enjoyable all of the time! Running around in the grass is significantly harder than on a hard surface. (At least, I think so!) But in the excitement of the game, I forgot that I was actually running and getting exercise. I was just playing with my little sisters...something that I wouldn't have been able to do 2 years ago. When we had to go inside about 30 minutes later, I felt great - not tired at all. We could have kept playing for another hour! And that was encouraging. Sometimes when it feels like the scale just keeps showing me what I don't want to see, it's good to remember how far the Lord has brought me and all the progress that I have made. I can do things that I never would have been able to do before! My life has been changed. And now, instead of sitting on the grass and watching, I can be the big, scary crocodile and make memories alongside my sisters. And that is true success!

Growl! (Or, whatever crocodiles sounds like....) ~Bekah