Making a choice

Today I woke up and made a deliberate choice to be content and thankful.  It was definitely a choice, not a feeling.  The day has progressed, however, and the choice is beginning to shift my feelings from anxiety to resolute peace.  Our God is good and He knows the future.  There is no good reason to fret and fear.

Remember the little house?  Well, the deal for that house is now on life support and has a high possibility of dying over the weekend.  Thankfully, it's not our fault.  The buyer's of our current home have had a last minute glitch (aka stupid battle with their finance co.).  This puts the deal for current home on hold, which puts the deal on the little house in jeopardy.  It's out of our control. 

I have fallen in love with that little house.  I was looking forward to living near neighbors that had been there for 37 years.  I had visions of walking with Elli to the park or library on crisp fall mornings.  The decor was all ready to go in my head.  *sigh* Now that may all be lost.

This is the point where I choose to trust.  If I have learned nothing in the past 10 years I have learned that God is sovereign and has a special reason for everything.  He knows the details of the future.  We do not.  He has perfect timing.  We do not.  We wants the very best for us.  We rarely know what the very best is.

So, we wait.  I'm praying for a miracle, of course, but either way I know we will end up in the perfect house in the community God has called us to reach.  I choose to believe that.  I choose to be content and thankful.  Our God is good and He knows the future.


Just writing...

So here I am, trying my darnedest to push aside my perfectionist disease tendencies and just write. 
Our lives have been interesting the last three weeks.  We have been in the middle of finalizing the sale of our house and the buying of another.  I was hoping I would be writing to you from the soon-to-be cozy confines of our new home.  Due to delays on our buyer's end I am instead writing from my same old kitchen and forcing myself to not look past the screen into the chaos of cardboard in my living room.

I'm tired.  At first I thought it was because of the move and the emotional demands of managing moving, mothering and ministry.  Nope.  I'm tired in my soul.  My spirit is thirsty.  ME seems to be getting packed away into lost boxes.  I miss my Bible.  I miss my friends.  I feel missing.

Everything is changing and chaotic.  The reality of a 12 year chapter coming to an end is sneaking in.  Do I even know how to write new chapters anymore?  What is my life's thesis statement, again?  How do I wrangle these wandering thoughts?  Where is the foundational outline that was formed within the complexity of 8 painful years?  How did I allow the daily deluge to muffle the treasured story within?  How could I possibly write as a leader when I feel caught without a compass?

If I were to give myself the advice I'd give others I'd say  "You were made for this.  Fill your heart with truth, saturate your home with worship, read your Bible all you can.  Shut out the lies.  Apply grace."  I wish I listened to that person.  Things don't seem so simple today.

I don't write this for pity or advice.  I write this to be honest with myself.  I write to discover what I am keeping secret.  Don't worry.  I know my paths will be made straight.  I know my mind and heart will clear.  I know I will inhale the new life the Holy Spirit is whispering even now.  I know I will rest in the grip of grace.

I know will feel found again.



The past month or so I have felt like anything BUT a great mama.  We have gone from our typical intense summer schedule right into a non-stop September filled with meetings, moving and random work trips.  Normally, I try to keep Elli's schedule fairly routine and balanced, but lately that just hasn't been much of a reality.

 I'd like to be one of those mamas that never EVER turns the TV on to occupy their toddler.  I'd like to be one of those mamas that doesn't offer a snack as a quick defense against whining.  I'd like to never raise my voice or get impatient when Elli has ignores me for the twentieth time.  I'd like to be Michele Duggar minus 17 kids or so.  I'd like to be like Babywisers with neat little schedules that include four different types of play time and learning.  I'd like to offer Tot School and other educational activities.  I'd like to do crafts and projects and all the other messy fun things Elli is finally old enough to do. 

There is this thing called REALITY, however, that just doesn't allow us much time for all of that right now (or ever).  Instead we fill our days with free play and sneak in book time between packing and appointments.  The most teaching I've done in the last 3 weeks is showing her how to use the dust mop out of desperation to keep her OUT of the pantry (which has been a GREAT source of entertainment).  The only pre-birth ideals I've really been able to hold onto in this transitional season are #1 sleeping routines and #2 super food.

So, this morning I shoved aside the mama guilt and we cuddled in bed watching an hour of cartoons.  I then whipped up a batch of super wholesome stick-to-your-ribs-full-of-good-stuff super porridge.  I was amazed at how just knowing I fed Elli really well made me feel like a good mom.  Today I'm going to hold on to that feeling for as long as I can and ignore the guilt.

Super Porridge
This is easy peasy and great for adults too.  There are hundreds of different variations (if you have little ones I encourage you to check the book out at the library), but I'll just give you today's recipe.

Place in a food processor 1/3c of each (this doesn't have to be exact at all):
Brown Rice (I did 2 portions of rice)
Pearl Barley
Process contents two or more minutes until a fine powder (if you'd like more texture don't process as long, but it will take longer to cook).  Store in airtight container in fridge and use as needed.  Cooking ratio 1/4c grains to 1 c water.

Boil 2 cups of water with a dash of salt.  Add 1/2c of processed mixture while whisking.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Continue to simmer for 10 minutes (or until all grains are tender), whisking every few minutes to avoid sticking or lumps.  The consistency should be fairly thick similar to oatmeal or cream of wheat.

Eat as is or add in pureed or chopped fruit or veggies.  We had left over mashed yams from dinner so I put about a 1/4c of those into Elli's portion (vitamin A is vital as we approach sick season).  Store the remaining cereal in an airtight container and reheat in microwave as needed (add hot water if consistency is too thick).

Moving Confessions

This is what my living room looks like. (well, not *really* but I can't get my camera to cooperate with me today)  Yep, in all of it's moving splendor.  Have I mentioned to you how much I dislike moving?  I don't mind the unpacking part, it's like rediscovering all of the stuff you already had.  The packing, however, I could do without.  Where are a few good house boys movers when you need 'em?

I have worn a ponytail and glasses for two days in a row now.  That's code for I haven't showered would rather be in my pajamas drinking chai than wrestling flattened cardboard into cube shaped submission. 

My daughter doesn't necessarily need a nap right now, but I saw the hint of a yawn and took full advantage of the opportunity.  I'm pretty sure that means she'll wake up at 5am tomorrow.  That's okay, daddy can handle it 'cuz mommy is still in a coma at 5am.

I'm currently debating which list item to avoid first...laundry or clutter pick up.  I do not think I will ever learn to love either.

A giant caffeine and sugar riddled Dr. Pepper sounds delightful even though it's not yet 9am.  Too bad I've sworn off the hard stuff.  I'm forcing myself to sip on water.  I've heard good ol' H2O is supposed to curb cravings.  I've been trying that for about 3 years.  It's not working.  Maybe I'll sneak in a diet DP on my way home from unnecessary procrastination-driven shopping running errands.

Writing this post right now is the last thing I should be doing with my time.  Sigh...you should feel sorry for me.  I know I do. ;)


Soy...what should I do?

For nearly 6 weeks I've been working with Take Shape for Life and using Medifast products in an effort to lose weight.  I have needed to get quite a few pounds of for a long, long time and finally had enough.  I've tried over and over to control things on my own, but decided I needed a temporary plan that would allow me to not have to think about what I was going to eat all day.  TSFL/MF seemed to fit that package perfectly.  I have an aquaintance that has lost over 80lbs through this plan and that put me over decision's edge.

Before I started it I had a lot of misgivings.  My most prominent concern was the fact the MF products are primarily powdered meals.  Everything from shakes, to soup, to scrambled eggs...it all starts out in powdered form aka NOT anywhere near the whole organic foods I've come to believe should be the only thing we should consume.  My second concern was the amount of soy contained in the products.  Soy is not fertility's friend (remember it took us 8 years to have Elliana).  I've known that for years.  Extra weight, however, isn't doing my fertility any favors either.

6 weeks into the program I am very pleased with the results.  I've lost nearly 20lbs and for the most part have felt really good.  I still have a long journey ahead, but getting back to a healthy weight actually seems attainable for the first time in years.  This all added up to me pushing my concerns about fake food and "the evils of soy" as far back in my brain as possible...until I read this article.

Now everything I fear has been conjured back up.  What if I'm causing more damage to my hormone function?  How is all of this soy isolate affecting my thyroid?  How permanent are the affects of soy?  What's more damaging, 80lbs of extra weight or 6 months of a heavily soy based diet?  Is there a way I can get the same results on my own with an all natural diet? Would I be able to have that much self control? 

My heart is a bit heavy.  I want to be free of all of this weight that I put on due to hormone imbalance and heartbreak.  I also want to get my body in the best condition possible to have another baby.  I want to do both without hindering either pursuit.

God made our bodies with intricate wisdom.  He created food to perfectly fuel us and balance us.  He designed us to be productive and reproductive.  I'm praying that He will show me what to do.  I need clear practical answers.


Utter Panic

 Holy Smokes.  We move in less than 26 days!  The reality of moving and running my crazy life at the same time has hit me like a Mack truck this morning.  I can feel the muscles on my shoulders scrunching into coiled stones as we speak.  AHHHHH!

Well, at least I have all of cyberspace to vent to.

Now off to seek healing from perfectionist paralysis so that I can actually get something accomplished today.  Prayers, people, I need prayers!


Pastor Wives need friends too

As a pastor's wife it is hard to find true kindred spirits.  It's different for us than it is for others.  Our schedules are weird.   Nine to five is not in our vocabulary.  Vulnerability always partners with risk.  Leadership is rarely something you can put to rest while chatting over coffee.  Finding friends who "get it" and you feel safe with is rare.  Today, as I listened to the Just One conference from Leading and Loving It, I was reminded how important it is to find these kinds of friends. 
While I have some amazing close friends, none are in ministry.  My heart began to ache a little as I both listened to Lisa Young speak of friendship and breathed prayers for a deeper connection with someone.  I need a friend(s) who gets it, who feels the same vulnerabilities and passions.  So, I pray.  This time with intention.  Lord, provide for me.  Provide for others I know. 

If you're in ministry and are feeling the squeeze of isolation, PRAY!  If you have a female ministry leader in your life, PRAY that she will have replenishing relationships.  God created us for relationship.  He hears and will answer.


Chalk one up for the "Little House"

It's funny how one little blog idea can snowball into a creativity whirlwind.  Earlier this evening while scrubbing the kitchen counter I began to think about my new kitchen-to-be.  Any major renovations are likely to be fairly far down the road, but there is no way I can leave it entirely alone until then.  It's tiny, it's a bit dark, and it has floral laminate...enough said. 

A little later in the evening I dug into by google reader, drinking in ideas and enjoying the fact that I have a whole slew of creative journeys ahead of me when we move.  This post caught my eye.  The Nester (LOVE her!) mentions chalkboard vinyl.  Now, I realize chalkboard is all the rage right now for DIYers, but I had no idea this vinyl medium existed!  It's like chalkboard heaven without any form of commitment!  How great is that?

Immediately my mind started spinning with ways I could use this stuff and of course I headed straight to google to find how I could get my hands on this sticky wonder.  I found some here for what seems to be a reasonable price AND the vinyl is reusable/repositionable.  YAY!  I also like their calendar idea...A LOT.

So, one thing led to another and I began to think about that tiny mid-century kitchen again. Right now I like the idea of adding simple trim to the plain front cabinets, painting them white, doing insets of chalkboard vinyl and perhaps "labeling" the doors with a chalker (rather than random scribbles or lists).

The fact that I wouldn't have to commit with chalkboard paint makes it even more appealing. Hmmm...we shall see.

In the meantime, check out these other cute uses for chalkboard vinyl...


The Little House

Welp.  You just may be hearing a lot about what I have deemed "the little house" in the near future.  Yessiree, we have a house (all financial rigmarole pending of course).  We bid on a 1080 square foot house in SE Portland and this time the owners didn't change their minds about selling!

As of right now the house is far from what a had dreamed we'd move into.  Instead of an adorable craftsman bungalow, we ended up with a mid-century plain Jane.  HOWEVER, to me plain Jane equals blank canvas!  My mind has already been racing with ideas to give the house some spunk. 

Spunk is exactly what it needs too.  The entire house is monotone inside and out.  The textures are even boring.  No worries, however, a year with the Becker's and the little house will be nice and loved up.  Want a peek at it?  (again, please realize we're buying good solid POTENTIAL here, not a better homes and garden cottage)  I took these pics from the rmls listing.  They're not the best quality, but you'll get the idea.

yep.  The ENTIRE house is covered in cream colored vinyl siding.
Imagine a new, colored door, wood trim details added in same color (what color would you suggest?), painted garage door and possibly a mini pergola over it similar to this one

Eventually we'd update the garden beds.  I don't like rhododendrons at all and the azaleas are looking pretty old and rough and I don't like how they distract from the big windows (which currently have ugly aluminum storm windows on them).

The back yard is HUGE, a rarity in P-town.  Again, I HATE rhodies, but we'll live with them for now.  I really like the clothes line and can't wait to use it.

This is the view when you walk in the front door.  Aren't those marbled carpets lovely? HA!  Luckily the entire house has gorgeous oak flooring that has been hiding underneath marbled and chartreuse carpet for decades.  Project #1: get rid of ALL carpet!
After we tear down the track lightly and 1987 brass chandelier I've been toying with the idea of broad horizontal stripes in the dining room.  Maybe two neutral tones like taupe and white.  What would you do?

Alright. The kitchen is definitely where we need some help.  The fridge, curtains and stove will go right away (anyone want an antique?).  As for the rest of the kitchen I think I'm going to have to live with it for a little bit to figure out what exactly I want to do.  It's itty bitty so some real brainstorming will have to take place.  The cabinets are solid wood, which will give us a nice starting point.  The floors...oy, the floors.

The bathroom is without a doubt going to be a BIG project someday.  It's layout is horrible and everything is super outdated. I'm going to take more pics during our inspection tomorrow so that you can experience the atomic style heat lamp for yourself.  There is probably less than 24 inches between the sink and the tub wall.  Maneuvering around in there is going to be interesting.  If I could I would tear everything out and start over.  That's probably not going to happen for a very very long time. First step will be new mirrors, lights and eventually a new vanity.

All in all this little house just needs some lovin'.  It's structurally in great shape, in a great location and we're not going to be breaking the bank.  I'm so thankful.  I'm ready to be done with the paperwork process and get on to the painting!  We have an inspection tomorrow, so I'll take more pictures then.  Did I mention the tray ceilings?  I'm going to have all kinds of fun with those!


More Random Updates

I totally should be cleaning right now.  I shouldn't still be in my jammies.  I should probably turn off FoodNetwork.  I don't want to.  So, here I am!  Ta Dah!  Ready for more updates?

Let's see...the launch team for Hopecity is growing!  We have met together 4 times now and each time I get more and more excited for our future together.  We recently have added a new couple who just moved here from Texas.  They found us via a maze of blogs that eventually connected to Brian's announcement of HC.  They're lovely people that have taken a huge leap of faith for the sake of a new season in their lives and we are honored to be a part of that new season.  We are expecting at least 3 more families to check us out at our next launch meeting August 29th.  It's hard to believe the favor God is showing us, but we'll take it!  (If you'd like to be on our mailing list or email updates send us your info to theoffice@myhopecity.org)  The next step is to work on our preview schedule/events and finding a location!

Along with finding a location for the church, we are scrambling to find a home of our own is SE Portland.  We accepted an offer for our house over a week ago.  We made an offer on a new house the same weekend, but due to mysterious circumstances the owner decided to pull their house off the market. SERIOUS BUMMER!  So, we are now on another hunt to find a home.  We have one real prospect, but haven't quite made a decision yet.  I"m so ready to get into SE.  For me that will make everything feel like an official new season.

I now realize this is kind of a boring post.  Hmmm...what can I do about that?  OH!  How about a random tip?

If you haven't grilled peaches yet this summer, you must!  My favorite dessert of the entire summer was by far grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream.  Seriously.  Just halve the, brush both sides with oil, and grill cut side down first.  When you can see grill marks or some carmalization flip the peach halves over.  Put a small dab of butter in the hollow of each half and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Shut the grill lid and wait just until the peaches start to soften.  Place in a cute bowl nestled next to a scoop of vanilla or butter pecan ice cream.  DELISH!

There.  Now it was worth your time reading this post. :)


Vacation at the lake

I said I would update you on our lives and since I don't want to be a liar, here I am!
Let's see...vacation was wonderful.  We had an entire 8 days to relax by the lake fishing and floating our little hearts out.  Of all of the activities to do (other than eat, which seems to be the main occupation at Wanacut) Elli most enjoyed all things having to do with dirt and gravel.  Nana B. brought her a cool bucket with a water pump attachment, but the only thing Elli wanted to do was fill, dump and repeat. 

Elli experienced quite a few firsts on vaction.  Throwing rocks in the lake, seeing a live trout murdered by her dad (I only say that because she screamed her head off when Brian knocked the fish out after catching it), playing in a sprinkler, eating a rib, taking a shower, wading in water and riding in a raft and boat were all some big firsts.  She also received her first cowgirl hat, which happens to be one of the only hats she'll keep on.

                                      (only E could still be a diva in a giant yellow life jacket)
                                                                                 (apparently cowgirl hats require air guitars)

As for Mama and 'Dada', vacation with a toddler is an entirely different experience than vacation sans children.  In order for us both to get some good laziness squeezed in we took turns napping, floating, and chasing.  Brian was sweet and took the morning "shift" with Elli and breakfast so I could indulge in some extra pillow time.  I took the scrubbing/bedtime "shift" while daddy went out on the boat to catch some fish.  In between Nana B, aunties and cousins also helped so that everyone got their share of Elli and relaxation.  It was lovely.

I never imagined I would be so happy with an annual vaction spot, but the lake has become a special place in my heart. 



And we're back!

Don't be alarmed.  I know the last time you heard from me was right before vacation...over a month ago!  Despite the rumors, I did not die, I did not immigrate to Canada, nor did I drift away on the world's greatest float while sipping diet Coke and coated with SPF 93 never to be found again.  Nope.  I simply...well...I don't know what happened really.

Oh. wait.

Yes. I DO know what happened.


Yep.  Summer, July and August in particular seem to have this mysterious ability to fill every waking moment with acitivities, appointments, visits and people all in the name of "fun".  My "not so crazy" summer calendar turned into a pencil smudged resemblance of a Jackson Pollock the minute we returned from vacation.

Don't worry, I haven't been miserable.  It's been a great summer.  I just haven't been able to settle myself down long enough to give you anything that would satisfy my perfectionist creative genetics.

Over the next few days I'll do my best to update you with all we've been up to.  Some of it I'm sure you'll care less about nod at and think is nice , but, let me tell ya,  some of it is a BIG and you wont want to miss. (No, mom, not, "I'm having a baby" big, but just a few notches below that).

I'm sure you'll be waiting by your computer clicking the refresh button over and over until then.


Four. More. Days.

I have a nice healthy to-do list sitting on the table next to me as we speak, yet all I want to do is pack and plan for vacation. Sure, my floors have a visible film on them and my laundry is begging to be put away. Yes, as a matter of fact that IS dog hair on every couch pillow we own, but I just can't seem to move myself toward a lint roller. sigh...
Four. more. days. I just need to get my lists done for 4 more days. Then we're off to pure serenity. We will enter into yesteryear where everyone in town knows everyone in town and cell phones are seen as over doing it. Our fridge and stove will be the perfect shade of 50's aqua and our walls will be thick smooth logs. Our days will be filled with floating, fishing, magazine flipping and ice cream licking. Our view will be nothing but sparkling lake and whispering trees and the noises will be nothing more than buzzing bees, kids squealing in water and great-aunties chatting in their ever-floating rafts.
Yep. 4 more days and the dog hair and dust won't matter. 4 more days of just us and pure bliss.


Drive By Blogging...

Hello All! We're keeping ourselves quite busy this week selling fireworks for youth camp (if your local come see us at 82Nd & Foster in the Fred Meyer lot). Brian and I are thrilled the week is cruising by...vacation is so close we can taste it! woo hoo!
I just wanted to take a quick moment and share with you a fun new link. I discovered this blog through Flower Patch Farm Girl (follow her and you're guaranteed a bright spot in your week). It's called August Fields and it's gorgeous! Make sure to have a napkin nearby because you may catch yourself drooling over her kitchen. I'm just sayin'.
There's a giveaway on their right now for some super fun art by Katie Daisy. (I'm crossing my fingers because she has a few prints that would be perfect in Elli's room.) So jump on over and check it out.


Highs and Lows

Brian and I ventured up north this weekend. It was so nice to have a quick get-away and enjoy his sister's family (and their lovely water view). The older cousins were so sweet to Elli and she had a ball playing with the "big kids". Brian and our brother-in-law ran the Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon and had what they classify as a "great time". Running for 13.1 miles sounds more like torture to me, but you have to be proud of husbands that can do something so difficult and still smile at the end! Overall the weekend was a high note. This afternoon, however, things came to a screeching halt. Texts, phone calls, drama and discussions revealed things weren't quite so awesome on the homefront while we were gone. People are broken, humanity fails and revealing Jesus' grace through the dirt is our job...no, our PURPOSE. Unforunately, with the purpose come some serious disappointments. When the lows come, however, I'm always reminded of lyrics I hold deep, "The shadows prove the Sunshine...". When we see how dark we are, we can more easily see how lovely He is to love us. Grace will always prevail when we accept it. Highs and lows. On both ends of the spectrum, Jesus was here. Grace came through. God is good.


Saga of The Beast

FINALLY! We have had an official break in the clouds and have basked in all of the sunshine glory! Our tiny back yard even offered a little toddler adventure... It was a bright and sunny post-lunch/pre-nap afternoon when the beast appeared...

He. Was. Huge. I'll admit, we were intimidated at first, but curiosity rang supreme.

He was a fast bugger...but we were determined. Little did the he know we had a beast of our own waiting in the wings.

You're going down now Beast! We laugh at your attempt to escape! We speak your name with contempt! We scratch at you in the manner of the animal kingdom. You. Are. Finished....or are you?

We have conquered the beast! He shrinks away from our attacks. The only thing we fear is licking the slime ridden leaf we used for capture. (ok, well...that only bothers mommy)

The worm..eh-hm..BEAST is done for.

Moral of the story: On occasion sacrifices have to be made for knowledge...or at least a toddler's curiosity. Our apologies to the entire worm population and the offense they may feel upon viewing this film.

End of an era

Despite the weird November like conditions outside it is now officially summer!  Our summer calendar is already jam packed as usual. From this point on we don't have a free week or weekend until August.  This has been our life for 11 years now.  Summer for us has never been as it was in childhood, a time to be lazy in the warm sun (HA!) enjoying otter pops and buckets of fresh Oregon berries.  No, our summer is filled with teenagers.  Amazing, incredible students that have changed our lives for the better. 
This is our last summer as official youth pastors.  It's hard to believe, really.  I'm sure as our church plant is still in its infancy we will be deeply involved with youth next summer, but it's not going to be our main focus any longer.  It's strange.  Students have been our life.  We have had our hearts broken by them, our fill of fun with them, our house brought to life by them, a renewed understanding of grace through them and a solid belief in hope established for them. 

While I am more than ready to move out of youth ministry, I will never ever be one that says it wasn't worth it. I have LOVED being in the youth ministry.  I have LOVED how passionate teenagers are about EVERYTHING.  I have really really loved seeing some of our students grow up to be faithful, passionate, generous adults who are now raising their own kids to love Jesus.

So, this summer, as I begin to complain about our crazy schedule I will stop myself.  I'll treasure the hilarious/delirious moments that are sure to happen during fundraisers.  I'll savor every life-changing, albeit late night, prayer whispered at camp.  I'll relish in the texts and emails about the latest friend-lationships. I'll pour out words of hope and belief with joy.

I'm overwhelmingly excited for all of the new experiences to come as a lead pastor's wife,  but there is a bit of me that is sad to close the youth chapter of our lives.  So, bring on the summer (with the appropriate weather, please) and the crazy schedules!  Bring on the teens and their crazy lives!  I'm ready.


Friday Favorite: Polished Piggies

I'm thinking about running away with this nail polish. I'm not typically a nail polish type of girl...mostly because I'm a perfectionist and it bugs me when I can't maintain salon perfect polish. (or maybe I'm just far too impatient to wait for my nails to dry AND cure and do whatever else they have to do in order to avoid waking up with sheet wrinkles imprinted on my nails)
This product, however, has shed a whole new light on getting a shiny new set of nails. It has a great brush, a nice thin (but not too thin) polish, tons of fabulous colors and best of all (insert fanfare here) it DRIES IN 60 SECONDS!!! What's better than that?!
I no longer have to wait around with my hands waving in weird positions while my toddler tries to redecorate the house. I can even fix a nail here and there without any real hassle. LOVE IT.
It also dries so fast that even cute-ever moving-little piggies can get in on some beauty action.

Bearing One Another

I've been reading through Galatians this week, which turns out to be perfect timing for my current state.  God is always so faithful to me as I read His word, bringing alive the familiar verses that have been underlined and scribbled around.  He has brought to light quite a few verses to me, but today the one Holy Spirit chose to point out was a little more difficult to chew.
Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. Galatians 6:2 (amplified bible)
I have read this verse over and over my entire life and until the past year I thought it simply meant when people were in need or sad we were to support them.  I now realize it means much much more.  We are to bear, endure and carry one another's burdens and the things we don't like.  This is easier said than done to say the least.

Over the past two years some of the relationships I hold most dear have crumbled.  These are people who know who Jesus is, people who have experienced His love and grace and celebrated His victories.  Yet, circumstances shocked, choices were made, hurts accumulated and old defenses were shouted over the whisper of  Holy Spirit.  They ran and my heart waits, heavy and troubled.

I have experienced the spectrum of grief including anger.  My body has felt the physical ache of loss and the weight of wondering.  I could spread my hurt.  I could let it turn bitter and sour on my tongue.  I could let it fester in my mind and lead to general distrust.

There are other options.  I could obey God's word and bear it.  Endure it.  I could carry the shadows of people I once knew deeply and pray, covering with love.  I could ask for a heart like the One who has had to bear, endure and carry my choices, defenses and hiding all the way to the cross.  By grace, this I choose.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.  Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.  Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle,  Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,  Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,  Puts up with anything, Trusts God always,  Always looks for the best,  Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.  1 Corinthians 13 (the message)


Eating Frogs

I did it. I officially crossed EVERY SINGLE THING off of my to-do list two days in a row! I know what you're thinking. How could this be? Is this not the perfectionist turned procrastinator we know and love? Is this not the "I'm just so busy I can't keep up but the truth is I'm just facebook stalking too much" girl? Yes, yes it is...sorta.
I'm choosing to declare now and forever...I'M A WHOLE NEW ME! (please note this blog is in no way legally binding or prohibitive of the occasional backslide)  I don't exactly know how this happened, but over the last few weeks things have been beginning to click (not to mention I HAVE to keep my house clean for showings).  I could compare it to being lost in a deep thick fog for a really long time and then !BLAMO!  everything becomes clear. 

How did this happen you say? Welp...it all started with this post.  I needed help.  I needed motivation.  I needed an inner Billy Mays to smack me with a shamwow and snap me out of my apathy.  Like magic, this post appeared in my beautifully organized google reader (yes...my closet is messy and my google is organized..priorities people!).  The entire post is full of good stuff and fantastic links to other posts that have helped me tremendously.  One point, however, stood in large bold typeface above the others and it was this point that I believe pushed me around that last corner toward a complete about face.  Are you ready to read it?  Are you sure? 
Ok...here it is...I realized I need to

Eating frogs you say?  Yep.  Each day I get up and I start chowing away on frogs.  Ok, well not literally, but I am focusing on doing what I like least at the beginning of each day before I dive into what I like or simply don't mind doing.  I realize for all of you super scheduled, organized, over achiever types this is not a brilliant nor new concept.  I had even heard it before myself.  We even have the book accumulating dust in our office!  For some reason, though, it just clicked this time.

So, by creating a daily docket the night before, focusing on a morning routine, avoiding perfectionist disease and eating my daily dose of frogs first thing I AM A WHOLE NEW GETTING THINGS DONE KIND OF GIRL!



I think I'm in love. This pretty little gem shop was shared on Pioneer Woman this weekend and I can't stop looking at it. Who knew I would like something so modern and unique, but that is exactly why I like it! The prices are just as lovely as the product. Which one would you buy?


Just One Word

I've had a single lyric going through my head all week. The problem is I'm not exactly sure what the last word is. I thought I was sure...then I began to doubt. Either way the meaning is incredible. Option #1 (what I originally thought the words were) Just one word, just one word, just one word from You can shatter a thousand lives... As this line echoed through my brain my thoughts instantly went to Psalms 29. Before we had Elliana, I was a mama with empty arms. My heart was bruised and broken from loss and deferred promises. I clung to this Psalm with all of the strength I could muster. It speaks over and over of the power of God's voice. His voice can thunder over the water, split trees into splinters and move mountains as if they were pebbles. His voice can also bring forth life and fill His temple with glory. Just one word and our hearts can become melted and molded and never the same. In that long, barren, time and space I knew all I needed was one word from Him to bring forth His promises. One word from Him and my heart would be satisfied with whatever He had for me. One word and all I thought was real would fall away in order to make way for His truth and love. Just one word and we are ruined for anyone else but Him. Option #2 (what I think may be the actual lyrics) Just one word, just one word, just one word can shatter a thousand lies... Once I realized this may be the correct version I was a little disappointed. Then as I began to think about it the truth sank deeper and deeper into my heart. Hebrews 4 says God's word is like a sword diving into the deepest part of our nature, exposing our hearts, dividing human perception from the truth of the Spirit. For years I have struggled with lies. Lies about who I am and who I am not. Lies about what others think or don't think. Lies about what I can or cannot do. Filthy, rank, entrapping lies have bombarded me over and over. When Brian and I officially decided to start Hopecity Church these lies became so heavy I felt I could no longer escape them or even breath. Then God spoke His word and the lies began to crack and shatter. That's all it takes. Just one word from Him and I can see clearly. Just one word and I can hear truth over the mind spinning noise of the enemy. Just one word and God lovingly brings in His scalpel and cuts a line between the tumor of lies and His creation. Just one word shatters years of lying and manipulation. Just one word and suddenly I can breath and have room to bring Him pleasure. Just one word.


Update Shmupdate

It's been far too long since I've posted something. To be honest, I've started a few posts here and there over that last few weeks, but ended up getting distracted and there they lie, incomplete, in my drafts folder.
In my last post I mentioned our "little" issue with rain. Brian and I were desperate for some good weather in order to complete some projects so that we could get our house on the market. Thankfully we had enough clear days (and a ton of help from great friends) to get everything done and I now sit in a spit shined house praying God will send a lovely family with lots of money to buy it. Sidenote: Isn't amazing that a 5 year old to-do list can get done in 10 days when you're no longer going to be around to enjoy your hard work? Weird.
Before(5 y.o. handiwork of the Becker's) After (ONE day's work by Jose. If you're local I'd be happy to give you his number) The amazing Chris helping Brian line our floors up just right :)
Beyond a crazy streak of house stuff our days have been crammed full with getting to know the fabulous team that has formed to launch Hopecity Church. I can not even describe how blessed I feel that anyone is willing to join us on this insane adventure let alone the incredible individuals that have signed on.
This past Sunday we held our very first Hopecity Launch team meeting. Everyone except for two were there. My husband, being the sentimental guy that he is, had the whole event photographed and we even signed a special keepsake document. As each one took turns signing we all shared why we were glad that the individual was on the team. It was one of those mushy gushy squishy moments that I'm sure we have all tucked away in our hearts for keeps.

This past week we also officially decided to become a part of Growing Healthy Churches Network. They are awesome! Brian and I went through there assessment this past January (in order to find out if we were crazy enough to do this whole church planting thing) and I fell in love with the leaders and their passion for church planters and the spread of the gospel. A few weeks ago we had a regional cluster with other church planters and I was again reminded why I'm thankful for GHCN. It's a weird and insanely hard thing to do, church planting, and it's great to meet and pray with other people who know exactly what this strange role is like.

Beyond the house and church stuff, we have one great big little thing keeping us on our toes...ELLI! She has officially learned to walk (WHEW! Barely made that 15 month old mark) and has decided that this walking business gives license to get into everything that was once off limits. Yep. This morning Brian caught her in the cupboard under the sink chewing on a banana peel she had pulled out of the garbage (YUCK!). We had only been out of the kitchen for less than 15 seconds! Needless to say I've been scouring every parenting book I own for strategies to keep her occupied and me sane. On the flip side I've never met a funnier toddler. A day doesn't go by that I don't crack up at one of her funny little quirks. Here are a couple peeks at what Miss Elli has been up to lately...

PS...uh...daddy was in charge of Elli's hair in video #2...


Noah...is that you?

I'm a born and bred Oregonian. The rain that baffles the rest of the country only makes me feel more at home. Even when it rains non-stop for what feels like 40 days and nights I'm rarely the one to complain. I HATE being hot, so the longer the temperatures stay in the 60s, the better for me. (I told you I was a TRUE Oregonian!) We are now staring down the barrel at June, however, and it is STILL raining! We had about a 5 day break of clear skies and high 70s and then back to rain. It hasn't been just any old rain either, its been torrential down pour. I'm honestly expecting to hear the voice of the Lord summoning us to build an ark any day now. Our lawn is nothing but mush. Our gutters have become expert fountains. Our driveway now believes it's a slip and slide. Our dog has decided to hibernate and refuses anything that requires stepping onto the mud that was once our backyard. If the rain doesn't stop soon Elli may have to just learn to swim in our street puddles for fun since she has now scoured every inch of the house for entertainment. Rain, rain...RAIN! Dear Rain, I understand it's your duty to make this beautiful region green and fancy, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Do you mind taking a break for a few weeks? I have projects to do! I have a house to sell! I have a toddler that has decided toilet licking is a great way to spend her time! Please, please, please go to the Mojave...or Texas, I hear it's hot and dry there and I'm sure they'd appreciate your visit. I'm not asking you to leave forever, just until it's so hot (85ish) that I start longing for you again. Thanks. Sincerely, Jenn...and many other Oregonians


Goodbye House

Friday Brian and I met with the realtors that helped us by our home 5 and 1/2 years ago. We have decided to put our house on the market after Memorial day weekend. It feels quite surreal. We LOVE this house. It's not going to be easy to see someone else have there way with it. In this house we have painted, repainted, refloored, and learned how replace ugly molding with pretty molding. In this house we have cried and ached and mourned the loss of two babies. In this house we entered our thirties. In this house we FINALLY bought brand new furniture and said goodbye to the hand-me-downs. In this house we have celebrated the ultimate gift of Elliana. In this house we have poured out our heart's desires to God. In this house we cautiously voiced those dreams to one another. In this house we've become strong enough to give those dreams to God and accept His giant plans. Now, part of those plans are saying goodbye to this house. We're very excited about moving closer in to SE and becoming a part of the community we are starting Hopecity in. If I could, however, I would just pick up this house and move it to Woodstock. BUT, since moving a house isn't exactly realistic, I get to be excited about finding a new home for our new season AND having a new place to decorate! mmm...my favorite! I can already feel the creative juices flowing! :) ****Will you pray with me that all of these transitions go smoothly? Will you pray that we get the most we can out of this house and that we find the perfect house for our next place? Will you pray that it's all done before the summer is over? I know you will and I'm so thankful for your support through prayer.****



Thank you to all who had us in your prayers yesterday. We had an evening filled with great people wanting to know more or be a part of Hopecity. I had a wave of awe and sense of deep honor wash over me last night as I looked at people willing to take this huge leap of faith with us. I am so excited for final decisions to be made and the first gathering of our real deal team. I know God is forming the exact group of eclectic people we need for our very special spot in Portland. If you could continue to keep us all in your prayers as people weigh there decisions to join us I would be so grateful.
On the home front we are making progress as well. Miss Elli has decided to be sneaky about her walking. If we are "not watching" she often sneaks in several steps from one object to another, but as soon as she knows she has an audience...PLOP, back to the floor. I'm fairly convinced she takes jogs around the house when I'm busy doing chores. How else could one tiny body make so many giant messes?
In the meantime she's apparently been practing her Glamour Shots pose. Too bad no one told her spaghetti orange was so last season.


Please Pray

Hello all of my friends (and Polish mystery)! I just wanted to drop a quick note asking for your prayers. Tonight is our first info/open house meeting for Hopecity Church. I cannot even explain how excited I am. My husband has been working like a mad man filing legal documents, opening accounts, choosing logos, networking (meetings, meetings meetings), and writing out at least 27 drafts for our vision and mission packets. That has all been exciting, but having people gather for the church plant just seems to make it all more real. It's a scary thing, this decision to branch out, roll up our sleeves and start a church. From the starting line all church planters are told of all the odds stacked against you. There are few guarantees that it will work. There are few promises that you will have an income a year from now. It's scary....and thrilling! We can do very little to cause our church to grow, thrive and to reach the unsaved, but that is what makes this adventure great. Where we can do little, God can do MUCH. Will you pray for us today? Will you pray that the exact people we need to reach SE Portland would hear from the Holy Spirit and join us with confidence? Will you also pray the the exact people needed to stay and support our sending church will hear from God and stay? Will you pray for our pastor and my husband as they share tonight? Will you pray that a precedent and atmosphere of faith would be set tonight? Thank you so much for your prayers and for joining us on this journey. I'll be posting an update on all that happens tonight soon. Loves to you all!


Walking Shmalking

SOME people (ahem...) have been giving Miss Elli a hard time because she has decided she will do all things in the gross motor skill department when she's good and ready, not when the development charts say so. This, unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately, I'm not sure yet) includes standing independently and walking. According to our Dr. and the 534 parenting books I have, walking should occur between 9 and 15 months. I have discussed this with Elli and we have previously agreed walking will happen before her 15 month mark. She has 'til Saturday. If she's anything like her mama, she's simply waiting until the last possible minute. Why waste the value of deadline adrenaline? In the meantime Elli has decided to work on some of the more underated skills like...
discovering that the goats are NOT our favorite animals at the zoo and...
learning to crawl blindfolded and...
becoming well versed in "fancy hotel" lounging.
On a final note (and to put all Nana's at ease) Elli has spent the entire morning working on standing up from a sitting position. The results have been 2 somersaults, 42 booty bumps and 1 large rug burn on the forehead. All in all it's been a very productive morning. Now off to watch daddy beat a buddy in basketball.


To all my Polish fans

According to my Stat Counter and Google Analytics I have a consistent following in Poland.  I have never been to Poland and I don't know anyone in or from Poland.  For the past few weeks, however, my blog has had hit after hit from this region. 

So this one goes out to my cyber friends in Poland...Could you please make yourselves known?  Why do you read this blog?  How did you find it?  Are you a human being or just another computer playing tricks on me?  If you are indeed real, thanks for giving me the ability to say my blog has "international appeal" and my readers "span the globe".  ha ha


Jenn Becker


Miss Smarty Pants

Today, more than ever I realized how much I like to be right. (I can hear my husband now, guffawing as he reads that last sentence)  Those of you who know me, I fear are rolling your eyes or nodding at your computer screen saying "MMMhm!", but hear me out.

I realized today I like to be right in the sense of I like to be helpful.  I like to know tips and tidbits that make someone's day easier.  I don't do this to be Miss Smarty Pants (although I'm sure I've been interpreted that way many many times), but because I simply love to SHARE information (unforutnately I tend to share whether people like it or not, I'm working on that).  Perhaps this is because I love to RETAIN information.  It doesn't really matter what the information is about...baby food, hormones, cooking, crafting, space satellites...I just like to read and happen to easily remember.  I think I have a touch of photographic memory...either that or I'm a just a nerdy fact horder. (Stop smirking!)

ANYWAYS, as I was saying, I love it when I share a fact and it helps someone else.  I love it as much as learning a fact and it helping me.  For example, I love this helpful blog and was finally able to offer a tiny bit of help myself.  When I discovered I had helped I had this deep sense of thrill.  Is that weird?  Am I weird?  I am weird.

I'm quite aware that this trait is not without its downsides.  It can be annoying...especially to my husband.  But it can be good too...right?  I mean, what if no one ever shared what they had learned?  What if we didn't know the best way to make ganache or deter squirrels from bird feeders?  I'm pretty sure the world wouldn't be as great of a place...and there would be a lot more fat squirrels

Question of the day:  Do you have a trait that others may not appreciate as much as you do?  What is it?


SO Thankful!

holy experience

17. Elli hiding the fact she can stand on her own and getting caught
18. My baby sister home for two weeks (yes, she's always this cool)

19. Playing games with great friends...AND WINNING!
20. A quick trip to the beach
21. A perfect text from my man at the perfect time
22. Spiritually relief after some tough inward battles
23. Praise Baby DVDs (thank you, LORD!!!)
24. Seeing Pioneer Woman with my mom

25. Witnessing for the thousandth time how out going my mom is (I wish I had inherited it)
26. Taste of Home 2000 "Garlic Beef Enchiladas"
27. A great missions Sunday at church
28. These beautiful smiles
29. Fuzzy blonde hair
30. A friend that's always thinking of me and others
31. A faith building lunch with a couple from our growing launch team
32. Elli contently playing with her puzzles


Ree Stalking

I've mentioned before that I am a confessed blog stalker.  My stalking, however, pales in comparison to my mother's stalking capabilities.  I'm fairly certain my mom has an internal radar that dings in her ear before one of her favorite bloggers even has time to get up from their chair after clicking "PUBLISH POST".

Last night one of my mom's favorite bloggers (and quickly becoming one of mine) came into town for a book signing.  P-DUB was in OUR town!!!  There is only one thing better than blog stalking...that is stalking a blogger IN PERSON!  I'm only admitting this publically because stalking Ree seems to be something many people do.  We arrived to the designated hunting grounds bookstore and over 200 women were already in line ahead of us and nearly 200 more gathered behind us, babies, boyfriends and begruding husbands dragging along behind them.  I was amazed at the Ree-mania!
 Ree did a quick Q&A before the signing began and was HI-LA-RI-OUS!  Most of all she was one of us... warm, kind and very, very, real. Even though we had to wait several country years (with poor Elli in tow) before it was finally time for our BIG MOMENT few seconds with P-Dub it was worth it.  Ree was simply lovely...as were her boots.

Thank you for coming to this neck of the woods PW.  Even though you thought we all wore those dreadful Birkenstocks and attempted to speak into a mic stand without a mic it all just makes us love you more! 


Stone Free

Hello there.  I know it's been a while.  The truth is I've been avoiding you.  Well, not YOU necessarily,  more what I would TELL you.

To say last week was tough would be an understatement.  I don't know what started it exactly, but a dark heavy cloud definitely chose me as it's new best friend.  I spent the whole week feeling gloomy, grey and downright sorry for myself.  Did I mention that I have no idea what triggered it?

It was so frustrating!  I had this huge pile of what I like to call "blec" weighing on my shoulders.  Along with the "blec" came a giant load of "I can't stand myself" and "I don't think anybody else can either" and "I don't blame them" and "No one else will feel sorry for me, so I'd better".  I'm sure none of you have ever suffered this.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one.

Thank goodness for Mondays.  That's right...MONDAYS!  While many dread Mondays (and yes I do too, occasionally), I relish them.  Monday is the mark of a new week, a chance to start clean and fresh.  I love Mondays and today was no exception.  Today was a chance to start anew, a chance to escape that nasty cloud's shadow.

At church yesterday my amazing and hot husband preached about not living a "stoned life".  In other words, it's the week after easter.  A stone no longer exists on Jesus' grave and we should live like it.  It was a great word that we all need to hear.  As I sat there I kept thinking about how I had spent the whole week wallowing feeling sorry for myself and listening to every single lie the devil (and myself for that matter) threw my way.  I was living as if I HAD to listen to that nasty sucker and simmer under that heavy cloud instead of living according to the truth-THE SAME POWER THAT ROSE JESUS LIVES IN ME! (which happens to be my favorite verse in the whole wide world)

So today I seized the truth and with all I could I decided to live a stone free life.  Today wasn't perfect.  I can still feel that heavy cloud hot on my heels.  But it was a new fresh day filled with new hope and new life.  And with that I begin (finally) to be thankful...

holy experience

1. The prettiest baby in the whole wide world
2. 4 blue eyes to stare into anytime I want
3. Family coffee date with friends
4. The END of the PGA Masters
5. A cell phone that keeps on ticking no matter how much baby drool it endures
6. My homegrocer.com mug
7. Giggling with my super silly little sister
8. Finding a great pair of skinny jeans for my adorable neice
9. My sister picking up some cute clothes and toys for Elli
10. Two lovely college girls bringing highlights into a very tough week
11. A fun trip to the NIKE employee store
12. Toby Mac's TONIGHT album
13. Elli's tiny hands lifted in worship
14. Elli crying out "mama" in the night for the first time
15. My cozy, cuddly bed
16. My very own blog-stalker Ms. D ;)


My Mom is better than yours!

And she has a FABULOUS blog!  Have you checked it out yet?  If not, now is the perfect time because she is doing her first giveaway!

Go here and become a follower and then post a comment to enter to win! :)


Friday Favorites...SE P-town

Well, I suppose it's time to address what most of you know already.  My life is changing in a huge gigantisaur way!  Brian and I have officially become church planters.  That still seems weird even to type.  Our amazing home church has decided to close its Portland campus so that everyone can be one big ball of momentous energy in Vancouver.  It's the perfect move for Truelife.  Brian and I, however, are deeply in love with Portland and after much much MUCH deliberation have decided to plant a church in the SE in Spring of 2011!  (Perhaps I will share the whole story with you sometime, but it's a long long story)

If you've known me for longer than two years you know SE has been the one area of Ptown I said I would NEVER live in.  My perceptions of it were filled with scary "lingerie show" houses, prostitutes, and garbage...a lot of garbage.  Thankfully Jesus has done an amazing work in me and I can see two things much more clearly now.  #1  The darkness I just described is exactly where we SHOULD be as Christians #2 There is a lot more to SE Portland than a short strip of SE 82nd (aka car lot row).

So...(fanfare here)...here are my favorite things about SE Portland (so far).

Lane Middle School  - I may not necessarily want Elli to ever go there, but Lane has my heart.  I have been working there as a mentor-program facilitator for 4 years now.  This school has literally been invaded with Jesus followers over the last 4 years all the way up to the principal and you can tell.  At first I HATED it.  The kids were rude, crude and very hard to manage.  BUT, my heart was softened and I'd like to think there's was too.  Now I thrive in the diverse and energetic culture of Lane and it's faculty.

Papacino's - Brian and I both like this coffee shop quite a bit, even thought the coffee isn't awesome.  It's in the heart of the Woodstock area (one of our target areas) and is surrounded by giant windows so you can view the people both inside and out from one of their 10 or more cozy wingback chairs. 

Laughing Planet - This restaurant is super yummy!  Just yesterday I ate an amazing BBQ chicken quesedilla that I'm already craving a repeat of.  All of their ingredients are whole, organic, local and hormone-free.  Brian and I aren't exactly in the enviro camp, which a lot of it's proceeds go to, but I really like their bent towards healthy food and supporting local schools and farms.

Eastmoreland - I can only dream of ever leaving there, but Eastmoreland area is absolutely GORGEOUS!  It'll be a nice place to cruise the stroller through.

Diversity- SE has a little bit of everything.  Rich, poor, white, black, asian, hispanic. Super duper liberal, plain 'ol middle class, hippies, hipsters, gangs, artists, chefs, gardners, condo-dwellers and soccer moms all reside their.  God is mulitfaceted and His creation displays it.  I love that.  I am so excited to see how so many different kinds of people can come together and serve the exact same God, just like in heaven.  Beautiful.