12.04.2011

A Word for the Ladies.


I’ve been avoiding tackling this blog post. Many of the young women I meet with weekly have prompted me to write more, and honestly I feel overwhelmed with the vastness of the topics that I want to speak into the lives of these young women. Here are some thoughts about our relationships with Jesus, guys and other women.

1. God designed men to be the initiator of a relationship.
Sometimes at Ekklesia we sing a song called “Like a Lion.” Whenever I even see the title of that song it makes me think of boldness! "The righteous are bold as a lion -- Proverbs 28:1."
A real, Godly man will take all the risk of initiating a relationship because it creates safety for the girl. A real man is willing to fearlessly face rejection. This takes maturity and confidence on his part; knowing who he is in Christ- traits that we women should long for in a partner.
Colin and I were friends for YEARS before we started dating. We had a solid relationship as peers in ministry. When Colin approached me to ask me out (and I swear these were his exact words) he simply said, “Beka, I no longer want to be just friends with you, I would like to date you. The Holy Spirit is leading me into another level of relationship with you.” THAT IS GUTSY! We had not been romantically linked at all to that point, so he was really going out on a limb. I found that boldness and confidence so attractive. It worked out for him.

2. God designed women to be a man’s helper.
Women were created from man and for man.
In Genesis Eve is part of God’s plan to create mankind in His image. She is the companion and “helper” to her husband. Man was never intended to be complete apart from the woman; she is his perfect partner. Both are made in God’s image and likeness. Both are to rule and exercise dominion over all of creation.
God formed Eve to support Adam where he lacked- she was his missing rib. Matthew Henry commented on God’s choice of a rib to create Eve: ‘Not made out of his head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.’
Colin and I are partners, but in our partnership he is the leader and I am the helper. Neither of us would function well without the other half.

3. Women that know their worth in Christ will not be obsessed with comparing themselves to other women.
We all know that most of the time women adorn themselves more for the other women in the room, not the men. A close friend of mine has recently directed me to a hilarious blog called manrepeller.com. SO FUNNY, because usually, at least when it comes to being the most fashionable female in the room, those styles are actually really unattractive to guys. So this indicates to me that women are pouring money and energy into appearances mostly so they feel better about themselves and better than the other females in the room.
Why can we not feel better about ourselves knowing that God designed us perfectly? He knows us by NAME and calls us BEAUTIFUL. We are all created in His image, designed to do His work.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
We’re all going downhill. The youthful beauty we possess is so temporal. Instead of obsessing about such things, why not cultivate Jesus in our hearts. There is NOTHING more attractive than a heart steadfastly devoted to God, not looking to the left or right comparing and seeking attention from men, but looking upwards towards the One that will love us no matter what the external surface on this earth appears to be.
I am PASSIONATE about the women in our college ministry championing female friendships and relationships. When there is safety among our women, there will be less of a competitive spirit and we will break chains of insecurities, finding that at our core, most of us really do want the same things and we can all relate to one another on some level.

4. Jesus is the most attractive thing about us.
I touched on this in #3, but truly, honestly girls, there is nothing more beautiful than a young woman sold out for Jesus. This is a non-exhaustive glimpse at what that looks like…
She looks to the needs of others rather than herself. “She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20
She welcomes leadership and good counsel into her life. “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful women who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
There is no trace of gossip about other sisters on her lips. “A perverse woman stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” Proverbs 16:28
She dresses with modesty, not seeking attention for all the wrong reasons. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
She knows her self-worth is in Christ, not in the opinions of others. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18
She walks forward in FORGIVENESS, knowing that her past mistakes do not define her. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." Ephesians 1:7
She is KIND. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph. 4:31-32

There is more on my mind and heart, but this is what I have for today. I know that God has called me to these standards, and I drop the ball sometimes. If I am completely vulnerable for a moment I would say that the thing that I struggle with the most is often just being KIND. I am quick to judge and I don’t always have a kind word on my lips.
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and stay in a remote village that is home for about thirty young girls rescued from trafficking. While there I met a small, humble, man of God that has devoted himself to the ministry there; positioning himself in what the world would consider to be an “unseen” role in God’s story. He is probably the most Godly man that I have ever met. On the last day I was there He took me aside and prophesied over me saying that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, I can become the kindest person that I know. He and I had never had a conversation about that, but that short word hit me hard and resonates in me all of the time.
We are all in process. I am by no means perfect or speaking from a place high above others. I do know that God has taught me a lot about these things I’ve written about. He is continuing to reveal himself in new ways to me.
My prayer is that we will intimately come to know our Creator and discover that He has GOOD plans for us, his daughters. Our relationships are an opportunity to model Christ's love to the world. Prayerfully consider how you can become a displayer of His love.

9.29.2011

Ekklesia Launch





Last night 240+ students and young adults experienced the beginning of a movement in Whatcom County that was unlike anything else I have participated in this year. Being a part of this wave of the Holy Spirit has stirred up in me a passion to connect with people, to be a peace maker and put my actions where my mouth is and SERVE. Here is how the day played out for me yesterday…

5:00am: Woke up. Smiling. Started praying for our team; for unity, authenticity and passion.

8:00-5:00pm: Worked.

5:01pm: Ran over to CTK to connect with Brian MacSwan, grab boxes of black table clothes, candles and Bibles.

6:15-8:00pm: Arrived at the Majestic. Grabbed my Ekklesia t-shirt from Korey. Colin arrived with the huge truck that held all of the gear we would be using. Our set-up team arrived ready to go. We headed into the building only to discover that the space that we are using is occupied from 7:00-8:00 by a ballroom dancing class (why we did not know this beforehand is beside the point...). This threw a monkey-wrench into our plans to get the sound system, stage, lighting, tables, chairs and everything else set up. The instructor agreed that we could roll all of our gear cases into the venue, but leave the main space open for the twirling dancers. Once everything was inside the building and we could not assemble anything else we sent our workers out on the streets to invite Western students and whomever else they encountered.

8:00-9:30pm: The chaos of setting up all of the gear ensued. Cables, speakers, lighting, projector, monitors, etc. Our team of volunteers TRANSFORMED that room. The band sound-checked and ran through their set. The food and coffee table was decked out with treats. The “hub” table was stacked with Bibles and sign-up sheets for people to get involved in what is happening. Our team of leaders met and prayed over the evening.




*I will say that at this point I glanced outside the front doors and saw about 50-70 people, a number that I had anticipated and a not-too-shabby start to this launch. I had NO idea how full the room would become once the doors opened*

9:30-9:45pm: Korey, RJ and I swung open the doors and a FLOOD of people spilled in. We quickly realized that we had not set up enough chairs. The team quickly and efficiently accommodated for the influx. I could literally not stop smiling. My heart was full as I began to realize how God’s vision for what we are doing is so much bigger than any of us had dreamed.

9:45pm: Worship began. The air was thick with the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how else to describe it. The leadership that Seth and his team brought to this area was powerful. Great song selections and band, but more then that was the posturing of the leaders up front. There was not a raised stage, the band led from the floor level, which created less of a “praising the leaders on stage” and more of a streamlined exhortation upwards; exactly where the worship should be directed.

10:05pm: Brian brought a word. A challenge to everyone to own what we are doing here. This ministry cannot be spoon-fed; it has to come from the passion and vision of the participants. No amount of hype from the leadership can really move this where God wants to take it. We want to be a movement of leaders in this city; Jesus-followers that know that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of us. This is not about being the coolest, hippest ministry in town, it is about being authentic. 



10:30-11:00pm: We rolled out a huge banner that said “God, this year will you…” and everyone wrote out their prayers. Worship continued as people migrated over to write throughout the course of several songs. At the culmination of the evening the banner was brought to the front, those that could reach it laid their hands on it, and everyone behind took the shoulder of the person in front and we prayed over the requests, written and unwritten. It was a very sweet time of peer-led ministry, a core value of Ekklesia.



11:00-11:30pm: The evening wrapped up. People filled out every spot on our sign-up sheets of opportunities to serve (we have quite a bit of follow up work to do this week…). I personally met about 10 new ladies that are interested in having follow-ups to talk about how they can get involved. I will be drinking A LOT of Woods coffee in the coming weeks.

11:30-12:30am: Tear down. Thank you to those that stayed to the bitter end. Your service, though out of the limelight, is seen by God and is building personal character and integrity into your core. This ministry will rise and fall based on the willingness and devotion of our behind-the-scenes leaders.

1:05am: Crawled into my bed, smiling. WHAT AN AMAZING GOD I SERVE. I cannot wait to see where this whole thing goes. I will NEVER low-ball my estimate of what God has planned.

9.24.2011

Moving Forward into Our Calling

A year ago at this time Colin and I were making some important decisions about our future together in ministry. The choice to move from Portland, Oregon to Bellingham, Washington was no small thing. Leaving behind family and friends and entering into a virtually unknown community would be daunting to many, but Colin and I were ready to take on a new challenge and dive in head first.
The first months were great, but as time goes on the novelty wears off and things become more mundane. Relationships here blossomed and flourished. We celebrated as two of my best friends (my sister Bethany and my lovely gal pal Stacy) celebrated their weddings back home. At church the leadership structure experienced changes. Colin just rode the wave, kept his head down, and worked his butt off. The transformation that he has made to the church facility, the standard of excellence he has brought, and mostly his spirit to champion volunteers has made him beloved by the staff, leadership and surrounding community. I could not be more proud as I have watched him become more of a man this year through some very refining life lessons.
During late spring and into this summer I have become heavily involved with a new college ministry movement here in Bellingham. Under the passionate, visionary and Godly leadership of my friend Brian MacSwan I have given this year fully to this cause: to reach the community of Bellingham for Jesus. Western Washington’s campus is in the heart of Bellingham and this community is home to some 30,000+ young people that do not yet know the freedom of a life sold out to Christ. Through much prayer and preparation this summer we are having our first gathering, Ekklesia, on Wednesday evening (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ekklesia/). This leadership role I am in was formed very organically through investing in young women in the community: meeting, praying, challenging and empowering them to know that with Christ in them they are fully equipped to live life as a disciple and also a leader; that church is not about consuming or creating an attractional ministry, it is about servanthood and loving people. There is no platform given to me based on talent or influence; this is a leadership position that has me behind the scenes championing and supporting others. I am exercising spiritual muscles that I never have before and it is tough, but extremely rewarding. I am so grateful for the community and connections Colin and I have found through this new ministry launch. The core leadership team that I am a part of has created a family for us here. It feels amazing to be a part of something so fresh, and the burden of being a person worthy of leading constantly points me back to Jesus. 
I have also become a full-time working class citizen... In July I started working for Windermere Real Estate as an assistant to the agents. What that means is, I list properties online, create flyers, and help maintain the office. This job has opened doors for me to have my foot in the “real” world, a place filled with normal people that do not know their need for Jesus. Another “perk” of the job is that Colin and I have found our first house. YES, you heard me right, we are purchasing our first home. :) The story is pretty amazing, things have happened very quickly, but God so has his hand in it. Both sets of our parents have visited, taken a look at the place, and fully support the purchase. Kind of hard to wrap my head around, but in a couple of weeks the deal will close and we will be home owners (that's our house pictured above).
So the consensus is that we are sticking around, even if things get tougher, with Christ in us and protecting our marriage we can wade through any mucky situation and come out stronger and even more seasoned for a life of ministry. Stay tuned, this story is only beginning....


"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

5.05.2011

The Forgotten Mothers


This morning I finished filling out Mother’s Day cards for my mom, Colin’s mom, and Nanny. I am full of love and admiration for these great women in my life and the role they play in the lives of their children.
Mother’s Day is a “holiday” that is unique to each person. Some women are great mom’s and deserve a celebration. Others, like myself, have the BEST mom is the universe and should recognize this positive influence.


All of these niceties aside, Mother’s Day can, for many, be a dreaded reminder of deep sadness, loss and longing. It has the potential to be very isolating, and many women will choose to skip attending their usual Sunday morning church service, because all too often the predictable “standing of the moms” during the service is like rubbing salt into a wound. These women are the "forgotten mothers."


For me the complexities of Mother’s Day often just leaves me feeling numb. As many of my blog readers already know, I am a birth mother. My son is now eight years old and has an amazing adoptive family. When I gave him up at seventeen there is no way that I could have foreseen that I would one day be in a marriage where I could not have a baby. Talk about ironic.


Most of my married girlfriends have, at this point, had their first baby; many are working on their second. It’s exhausting to have people continually asking Colin and I when we’re going to start having kids. PEOPLE: your constant questioning just highlights our infertility. STOP ASKING. We’ve been married for five and half years and I guess that’s just the time that people expect us to have babies. If we could produce a child we would have by now.
This weekend I am scheduled to lead worship at church, one service on Saturday evening and three on Sunday morning. It continually amazes me the unique ways that God brings me into situations where I’m forced to look outside of myself, not allowing me to wallow in depression or sadness. Going into this weekend I’m feeling very raw, but I know that I have a perspective on Mother’s Day that allows me to remember the hurting women in our congregation and to relate to them on a level that can bring healing and contentment in Christ alone.


I’m teaching a new song called The Greatness of Our God to our church. The lyrics have really been speaking to me this week.


Give me eyes to see more of who You are
May what I behold still my anxious heart
Take what I have known and break it all apart
For You my God, are greater still

And no sky contains, no doubt restrains all You are
The greatness of our God
I’ll spend my life to know, and I’m far from close to all You are
The greatness of our God

Give me grace to see beyond this moment here
To believe that there is nothing left to fear
And that You alone are high above it all
For you my God, are greater still

And there is nothing that could ever separate us
There is nothing, that could ever separate us from Your love
No life, no death, of this I am convinced
That you my God, are greater still

So I can rest knowing that I serve a God that is greater then the loss of a son and my longing for a child of my own. There is nothing that can separate me from the love that he has for me. He can give me the grace to see beyond the current circumstances in my life- He is HIGH above it all. He cares deeply about my pain and grief, and he has AMAZING plans for my future.


Thank you Jesus for reminding me of your love. Continue to use me to bless and encourage others. On Sunday help us to honor the great mothers that we know, but also remember the woman sitting in church that has so much guilt over an abortion, the birth mother that longs for the child she gave away, the woman who has suffered from a miscarriage, and the barren women that don’t understand why they are not given the opportunity to mother.

1.18.2011

Bringing sin into the Light


My little sister is a very special young woman. Corrina joined our family when she was 3 years old, and has since overtaken our hearts. For some reason she and I have connected in a unique way. I am ten years her senior, but Colin always says that when she and I are together I always seem to enjoy her company as much as my 20-something old friends, which I would say it absolutely true.


Corrina is gorgeous. She is adopted, so her genetic make-up is different then Bethany’s, Peter’s and mine, and it certainly shows. She is tall, has to die for full, beautiful, curly hair, and when she smiles it lights up a whole room. No one wants to stand next to Cori during family photos because you risk looking like a troll next to her.


The best things about Corrina have nothing to do with her external beauty, but more her sweet spirit. She genuinely loves people. Whenever she and I are driving in the car and we see a homeless person on the corner, she never fails to ask if I have anything we can offer to them. Her compassion is compelling. Cori is a pleasure for adults to be around. She has no cell phone, so isn’t constantly texting her teenage friends; she knows how to truly engage in conversation with people, which is a rare thing in girls her age these days.


Being a freshman in high school is tough. I pray for Cori every single day. My passion for her success in life is more what one would feel for a beloved daughter, not necessarily a younger sister. Moving to Bellingham, Washington during this fundamental time of her development has not been easy for either of us. I am filled with thanks that Cori always feels safe to talk to me about anything. Having gone through some very extreme high school trauma when I was just a year older then her, I think she knows that I will never judge her, and only want to help her learn from my mistakes.


This weekend there were some “confessions” made from my dear girl, not anything bad per say, just normal high school silliness. She told me everything while we were together in person, and then proceeded to inform me that she wanted me to tell mom and dad everything. I sensed a fear in her to talk to mom and dad about it, she never wants to disappoint anyone, which, I think, drives her to secrecy. I considered her request, but then in the end had a very unique opportunity to encourage her to come forward herself and share what is going on with our parents. I explained to her that she had not done anything overtly wrong, other then guilt by omission when she chose not to have full disclosure with our parents.


When I think back on my own story it is very clear to me that my spiral down began with secrecy and sin that took place in the “darkness”. John 3:20 says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” My craziness in high school did not begin with evil intentions, but was more a result of my own na├»ve nature at the time and a deep seeded fear of having my sin found out; being exposed for who I really was. The deeper into sin I dug, the more I would try to hide it, and the more callused I became to my own sin nature. I was no longer sensitive to the whispers of the Holy Spirit gently steering me back to Jesus.
Needless to say, my sin did catch up with me and the pain that ensued is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. So, I think it’s very natural that everything inside of me is in high gear to keep Cori safe and never fearful to tell the truth, I never want her to fear exposure of sin. Proverbs 28:13, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”


Whenever my parents would tuck me in at night as a child and into my teenage years they would pray with me and in their prayers they would never fail to ask God to let my sins come into the light. That my “sin would find me out.” I HATED such prayers at the time, but as I get older I am more and more compelled not only to pray that for my own children one day, but also to pray that for myself, that my sin would be exposed so that I can have an opportunity to experience the fullness of grace and mercy that can only come from Jesus.
Cori.... I love that girl. She brings me so much JOY. My prayer for Cori today is that she will never be fearful of being honest, having full disclosure, that the Holy Spirit would continue to reign in her heart and be heard clearly in her mind. Let her see that our parents care so deeply for her success in life, and have her best interest at heart. They would never want to hold her back from anything in life, but rather, want to protect her from the things in this world that she does not yet comprehend in her 15-year-old mind and limited life expereince, even though I remember being that age and thinking I knew EVERYTHING there was to know. May she never experience the downward spiral that I had, or the pain and loss that were a natural consequence to my sins.
...BUT if she does, I pray for the grace and love to continue being a listening ear and a vessel of the Holy Spirit in her life.