And the horse and the rider fell into the sea...

Yet another childhood song is running through my head, well just one line of a song, actually. "..And the horse and the rider fell into the sea.."  Over and over its spinning around in my brain.  I'm pretty sure it's because I've been working my way through the highlights of Exodus via YouVersion's First Steps reading plan.  Can you believe those Israelites?!

I've been taught, read through and done countless childhood crafts all centered around these Israelites that Christians have often counted as grumbly and ungrateful. We have also deemed them far too similar to ourselves.  The doubt, the fear, the deliberate disobedience...it all hits a little too close for comfort at times.

This time through Exodus, however, a few things have reached out and grabbed me with a whole new perspective.  In Exodus 6 God speaks through Moses telling the Israelites all of the wonderful things that are about to happen, freedom was on it's way! Verse 9, however, is one of the verses that got caught in my throat...
"Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery."

The Israelites were operating out of total and complete brokenness.  This was not ordinary brokenness either, this was a totally shattered spirit that had been splintered by over 430 YEARS of harsh, cruel enslavement.  These people were so broken, they couldn't even celebrate a new voice declaring freedom. 

YET,  the horse and the rider fell into the sea. 

Just 8 chapters later the people doubted, they feared, they grumbled and complained.  Those Israelites even resisted their freedom from slavery!  In Exodus 14 there is all kinds of exciting, nail biting drama taking place.  The Israelites are finally fleeing by the hand of God and the Egyptians are pursuing with evil vengeance.  Fear is spilling out of the mouths of the Israelites the entire time.  Verses 11 and 12 are heartbreaking...
They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."
They couldn't see it.  They couldn't see that FINALLY freedom was enveloping them.  They couldn't see any other lifestyle.  They had been born into slavery and they were stuck in a mind of misery.  They couldn't see the process the almighty God was taking them through. God was physically visible in the form of cloud and fire, but they couldn't get past what they had always known.

YET, the horse and the rider fell into the sea.

Exodus 14 ends with true gracious beauty.  God parts the Red Sea down the middle for an entire night so that the 600,000 Israelite men AND their families could pass through.  The Egyptians were hot on their trail the entire time.  Did you realize Pharaoh's crew were chasing them even in the midst of the sea?  YET, as soon as the last Israelite baby and Grandma had reached the opposite shore, WHOOSH!  The horse and the rider fell (or were completely swallowed up) into the sea.

The Israelites had doubted, complained and even wished to return to slavery out of fear.  YET, God had a better plan.  He knew what to do.  He knew how to handle the fear, the doubt and the utterly shattered souls of the Israelites.  He knew what was best for His people. 

He put into motion a legacy of grace.

He set His people on the path of freedom.

And the horse and the rider fell into the sea.


Friday Favorites...it's raining. again.

It's dark and gray and mid-March.  I can hear the Madness in the background as I peruse my long list of blogs.  I'd love to be writing this with more wit and spunk today, but it's just not in me.  It's a cuddle in a down comforter, drink a pot of coffee and watch your favorite movie kind of a day...but, alas, I have a two year old who has yet to discover the beauty in doing nothing.  So, it will probably be more of a keep the damage to a minimum, read the same books repeatedly, dress/undress baby dolls, build blanket "nents" and drink a pot of coffee kind of day.

I think I'm ok with that.

In the meantime, here are of few of my recent (and random) favorite things:

The Table Project : this is a fantastic social media tool my husband stumbled upon.  We just recently launched it at hopecity and it has proven to be a great way to help gel our brand new community.

This Message: Brian and I had the chance to visit one of our favorite local churches and hear a friend speak on Romans 6.  I love the beauty and simplicity of the gospel that shines through.  True hope.

I totally want to make this recipe for Elli (when I do, I'll let you know how it turns out).  She has a serious love for "doe-fish".  Serious love.  I don't buy them, however, because I don't want to encourage empty or processed foods.  This homemade version seems to have a little bit of redeeming value. 

Strong Love is by far the most played album in our house right now.  Elli and I LOVE it.  You can't really go wrong with a little Jon Thurlow in your life.

This DIY project.  I can't wait to move (ugh, will that EVER happen?!) and possibly experiment with this somewhere in our new house.


She's just...busy

(I apologize ahead of time for the terrible quality of these photos.  They were all taken from my phone.)

Elli has two sets of wonderful grandparents.  These spoil-her-rotten nanas and papas have all dubbed our sweet, funny daughter with the same label.  "Busy".  You and I both know this, at times, is a benign way of saying "your kid is out of control".  Overall, however, Ms. Elliana is "busy" in the purest sense of the word.  Let's face it, Girlfriend doesn't stop...ever. 

She has too many things to get into...



He climbed up in a sycamore tree...

Zacchaeus was a wee little man...or so the Sunday school song goes.  I love this man's story.  Zacchaeus was small in stature, but he was one determined short guy.  He was a wealthy big kahuna of the local IRS.  My guess is climbing the ladder of a corrupt institution doesn't happen by chance.  Nor did Jesus' interaction with Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus.  He had probably heard from his peers.  Jesus had a habit of hanging out with sinner types.  All of this made this wealthy leader wonder who this unpretentious teacher was, but there was a little problem.  (pun intended)  When Jesus was making His way down Zacchaeus' street, Zacchaeus couldn't see through the crowd, his view being choked by the shoulders of others.  This is where Zacchaeus problem solving skills make him famous throughout time.

Zacchaeus didn't let his stature nor his circumstance hinder him from seeing who Jesus was.  He didn't skulk around blaming the hand life dealt him for his missed his chance.  He made his chance to see Jesus happen.  He ran
He climbed.
He did whatever it took to see who this Jesus was. 

His reward?  Jesus sought Zacchaeus out and invited Himself over for dinner.  Jesus gave Zacchaeus more than what he was looking for, not only a chance to see Him, but to know Him.

May we all set aside our position...(what we do)
Our small stature...(who we are)
And our circumstance...(our view of everyday life) 
May we all run
May we all climb
May we all do whatever it takes to see who this Jesus is.

Oh, and don't forget...Jesus likes to invite Himself over.
He has a habit of hanging out with sinner types.


Papier Mache?

I've become obsessed.  I'm on the hunt.  I want  this.  I know what you're thinking.  Wha...?

Don't worry about it.

I happen to like it. 

Courtesy of Country Living

A lot.


It's really, REALLY expensive.

Do you think it's possible to replicate?

I'm having visions of a pale blue one for Elli's room...with a removable top for extra storage.

Wouldn't it look great with her bedding?

I'm dreaming of it in two graduating heights in white or apple green next to a certain Mr. Cool.

What do you think? 

...about the possible DIY part...not about the "She's lost it.  'The Couch' has caused her to lose her mind" part.


Buyer's Remorse

It's been FOUR long months of living with naked walls, blank surfaces and a big empty front room since the great real estate tragedy of 2010.  We are so over it...well, at least we're telling ourselves we are. 

What we really are over is the ridiculously hollow feeling of living in a blank, packed up house.  I. HATE. IT.  I don't enjoy coming home to a rug.  Yep, a rug.  That's what you see when you walk into our house.  A sad, lonely, 9x12 striped rug that I don't even like anymore. 

This weekend we finally decided enough was enough.  Even though house showings only seem to serve the purpose of reminding us to pick up after ourselves, the house is going to sell eventually (...right?!  right?!!) and we will need a new furniture for our next home.  So, we bit the bullet and went couch hunting...with our two year old.  Good times.

The "big hunt" consisted of only going to two stores.  At the first store we found a decent sofa for a great price, but I couldn't just settle without looking elsewhere...that would just be weird. At the second store I fell in love with this big billowy soft nest of a sofa that reminded me of those light and comfy rooms in Cottage Living (man I miss that magazine!).  It was simply lovely...and white.  Yup.  We had a great moment, Billows and I...until we were forced to flee the scene due to a certain toddler's ability to smear snot across a few cushions.  That kind of ruined things for me.
Doesn't he just make you wanna snuggle?

We continued to look around and suddenly landed on the absolute opposite of good Ole Billows.  The next thing I know we had purchased a couch! A tight, tufted, super cool, clean lined, mid-century-esque couch is now on order in my name.  I'm not sure how to explain my thinking process at the time, but I'd like to blame it on an out of body experience or something. 
Couch Super Cool is actually going to be a grey-taupe inappropriately named Mocha

As soon as we left the store I began to panic inwardly.  I knew immediately we had made a mistake, yet I didn't turn around.  I went home and looked up every couch imaginable and still couldn't figure out why I had been so friendly with Couch Super Cool in the store and so enemies with him out of the store.  Don't get me wrong, he's very pretty...and cool.  My style, however, not so, um, cool.  I like old, lived in, found things with a story mixed with new comfy things that you can imagine drinking coffee, barefoot, with your bff on. 

YET, Couch Super Cool seems to have magical powers.  I went back to the store the very next day (again with a 2 year old, good times.) intent on begging for a full return of my money.  Before I did, however, I decided to see what was cause me to make such an impulsive decision.  I walked up to Mr. Cool and lo and behold he sucked me right back in.  Like a bad boyfriend, I couldn't shake him.  Maybe it's his fancy tufts.

So...in 6 weeks Super Cool will be coming to the Beckers.  He may stay or just be an expensive guest.  Either way, no more empty room for us!


Friday Favorites...Church Planter Edition

I said I was going to get back into blogging and I meant it, dang it!  So here goes... (warning:  this may be a very very boring post for most of you...I'm just pretending I have blog friends that actually care about this stuff)

During my blogging hiatus, we were crazy busy doing all sorts of things that don't typically pop to the top of your mental list when you decide to church plant.  For example, finding a great vendor for printing offering envelopes or a customized rubber stamp are tasks that don't exactly jump out at you when you think "Let's go save the world!!!".  Nonetheless, these tasks inevitably climb their way up check lists and we eventually found ourselves scrambling for resources.  In the midst of our chaos we found a few things worth mentioning as favorites...

Michael Lukasweski's  Here to lead is loaded with all kinds of great stuff.  Since I oversee followup and guest impressions (sound fancier than it really is), I really appreciated this post...oh and this one too.  Oh, and his nuts and bolts follow up packet is TOTALLY worth getting.

The super packaging mentioned on Here to Lead inspired us to check out other interesting options for our guest packs.  We eventually landed on these...

We ordered both the boxes and the custom labels from uline, which proved to be a great company to work with.  We also created mini versions for our kids department filled with all sorts of goodies from here.

For nearly all of our print materials (invite cards, door hangers, fundraising packets, mailers, etc) we used gotprint.com.  Their prices are hard to beat and they were fairly easy to work with.

Last, but definitely not least, we used group imaging for all of our beautiful signage.  I really like the fact that all of the signs have their own easy stands and carrying cases, an important detail when your church is mobile!  They also work with a lot of churches and have a great work sheet to help you decide what you really need.

Welp, I think that's it.  Happy weekend!

(greatest team EVER)