Friday, December 28, 2012


We had a great Christmas. We got to spend time with family, visit Santa Claus, take some time to relax, open presents, go to church, participate and watch a Live Nativity, have school parties, cook, bake, wrap presents . . .. I could go on, but I'm sure you'd all rather see it than read my words about t it all.

Here's a recap of the whirlwind of it all in photo and video

Visiting with Santa

Visiting the LSU Christmas Tree

The Live Nativity at church

Discovering all that Santa brought on Christmas morning (the girls asked for a Barbie Dream House, but Santa thought this dollhouse was a better investment :-) )

Friends, I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas - enjoying the gift of family and the magic of believing 

When you least expect it

I often find myself trying to force a memory - getting the girls to pose or pause doing something - and nine times out of ten, it just doesn't work.  And other times I take a picture just on an impulse.  These are some of those and I love how their personalities come through.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Today marks five years since we lost our baby Joshua.  Marking this occasion five years out is awkward for me.  In so many ways I've "moved forward" with life, but I'm deeply mindful of how this loss has shaped my life since.  I cannot pretend to understand God's plan anymore today than I did on December 6, 2007, but I can say I trust Him now more than I think would be possible otherwise.

I've learned so much, most importantly about how I love others, and more accurately  how I'm called to love others.  I do not always succeed, but as I look at my Savior, I value being truly present with others, pressing in, asking hard questions, being willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of another, being willing to simply sit in pain or grief or difficult circumstances.  Loving those God has given me with abandon.  

As I look back on the very dark days early on and see the progression of how Light was steadily shining even in my darkness - I'm humbled and thankful.  I don't know the whole story - but I'm so thankful for the parts that I'm given.

None but Jesus.  

Saturday, December 01, 2012

the voice

Each of my girls has a love for music and singing - I suppose most kids do - and it is truly a joy to hear a little voice break into song spontaneously.

Tonight as I was putting Camille to bed, I asked her what she wanted to pray for, who she wanted to tell God thank you for and she broke out into "God is so Good."  It was a precious moment, so I had to break the sacredness to run to get my phone to record her.  She gave an encore of sorts and sang one more for good measure.

I had to share.  This is what makes me get through days with fighting, whining, complaining, and general craziness. And yes, it is completely dark - I didn't want to further ruin the moment with a bright light in her eyes.  Much love, friends.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

And it's over . . .

Now that The Election is over, I feel like I can breathe again.  The division and anger and insults coming from all sides really produced some anxiety and disillusionment for me. I felt like I couldn't write at all in the final weeks.  I'm not sure of the reasons for that, I suppose the people-pleaser in me didn't want to inadvertently say anything one way or the other on all of the hoopla.  I am glad that it's over - at least the campaign - and hopefully we can move forward and leave the griping and the gloating behind us.

The last few weeks in pictures from my little part of the world:  

We've been trick-or-treating and dressing up.

We've been singing.  And if you do nothing else, please watch this video.  THE CUTENESS.  It is almost too much.

We've been smiling.

We've been getting bunk beds and combining rooms.

We've been visiting with friends.

We've been reading bedtime stories.

And plenty more that I didn't capture on camera.

It's hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  Our anniversary is ten days away.  Charlotte will be four in two weeks.  Okay, I'm stopping.

Much love!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two princesses

A couple of weekends ago Jeff, Caroline, Charlotte, and I went to the fundraiser for our bar association.  It was a lot of fun for the adults and the kids.  The girls spent most of their time on the dance floor and at one point we heard a woman announcing Caroline and Charlotte's names from stage as her "helpers" in the raffle announcements.  We were tickled that they found a way to get onto that stage without any help from their parents.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Notes from Debbie Downer

I might not have actually verbalized it in this way, but before December 3, 2007, in my type-A- tight- grip-on-it-all world, "trust" meant it was going to happen the way I thought it was going to happen, the way I planned it all to happen.  The sub-text to, "I trust that God will work through all of this" was "I trust that God's best interest for me will fall in line with 'my best interest' for me."  That couldn't be further from the truth though, right?

Trust, whether in your husband, best friend, child, or God Himself is an assured reliance of that person's skill, ability, strength, character.  Now of course the standards are different from person to person.  I can trust Jeff with things I can't trust to Caroline.  That doesn't make Caroline less trust-worthy.  In the areas of her greatest ability or character, she is immensely trust-worthy.  (Disclaimer:  I'm sure all of my girls will grow into greater and greater trust-worthiness, Caroline is the oldest, so I - for better or worse - lean on her more at this point).

Isn't it difficult to trust God when you feel like he's abandoned you?  And that's an understatement of a question if there was one.  The question life throws at us is:  Will we interpret God through our circumstances or will we believe that He is who He says he is - even in the midst of Plan B. Even when I don't feel it, don't understand it, when I'm not in control?  When someone who you trust lets you down, the result is - for me at least - pain married to anger.  Side note:  They do not make a good couple, IMO.

Several years ago, I read this blog post about the stages of grief and it resonated deeply with me.  The whole "anger" part of the grief process had never resonated with me.  I mean, I'm a girl from the South, a people-pleaser, a yes ma'am, I'm fine kind of person.  Anger was foreign.  [Inset snide smirk here].  Anne's words on finding anger in her grief:

"Right after my mother died, condolence cards came by the armful. Then fewer came each day. And then, about the time it was sinking in that my mom is really gone forever, they stopped completely.

That’s when I got mad. It was as if everyone else expected things to be back to normal just as I was figuring out that we have to create a new normal, and it may never feel right."

In truth, the voice she gave to anger wasn't foreign to me, just buried.  So, when I read Anne's words, a light switch went off and I recalled how I silently seethed when people wanted me to act normal.  Now, no one ever said it in those words.  They only implied it with their words and invitations and . . .well, their silence.

A Christmas party?  Are you serious?

How are you?  Do you really want to know?  

Did you watch that show last night?  On TV?  Does that matter in the scheme of the world? Um. No.  

That inner dialog of sarcasm and cynicism and nihilism (and probably some other -isms I can't come up with right now) was mis-placed anger at people doing their best to navigate my grief.  People I trusted - and perhaps most acutely - the God I trusted, had not lived up to the expectations I dreamed up in my head.  That false definition of trust was shattered over the course of minutes, hours, days, and weeks.  Pain slowly and quietly married anger in my heart and mind and I didn't even know it.

After I read Anne's words, I went back to the stack of cards in that box in the closet and was reminded of the love people showered on us after our loss.  People I had secretly harbored ill-feelings toward for not acknowledging it had actually sent flowers or notes . . . . in that fog and blur of the first few weeks, I just didn't remember it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

For your Friday: What I'm reading

On my Kindle:

Don't Call it a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day - a collection of essays on evangelical faith.  I may not agree with all that each contributor has to say, but it has been a great eye-opening

and Les Miserables (gotta get ready for the movie)

In an actual, paper book:  

Mended - a great devotional-style book to work through at whatever pace is right for you

On the web:

I love the Bible by Rachel Held Evans.  Refreshingly honest.

Sandpaper People by Robin Dance.  This:  "A rock will remain a regular ol’ rock unless and until it’s rubbed the right way.  Different grinds of grit produce different results and all are necessary to produce a polished stone.  Change doesn’t happen overnight; it comes in due time.  Like rocks tumbled or rough wood sanded, a person changes over time when external forces rub them the right way."  Hard.  Truth.

Crazy People in the South - Designing Women.  I love this show.  I got caught up in the Designing Women channel cycle on You Tube when someone pointed me to this one.

Excursion - Bik Bik and Ro Ro.  A precious stop motion video.

First World Problems are Real Problems - Shaun Groves.  If we are connected on Twitter or Facebook, you probably saw me link to this, but I had to mention it again.  I really love it.  It gives a great perspective on perspective.

Chained to the Father Metaphor - Amber Haines.  This line got me, "I see now that idolatry even of a good father can twist the truth so that all chances of pleasing him are squashed. Idols lie."

Cute British Kid Sits Under His Sister's Sage Teaching - via 22 Words.  Cute and funny.

Lately by Amelia.  Beautiful pictures and more beautiful words (as always).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"I just want to be on stage!"

When she was about four, Caroline came to my office one time and lamented that her dream was "just to be on stage!"  My co-workers still laugh about the gusto with which she expressed that four year old desire.  Thanks to her school, Caroline has realized that dream a few times now over her school years since kindergarten.

And today she continued reaching that dream when she had a mini-performance at school today.  The kids were fabulous.  I can't say enough how much I admire the teachers at Caroline's school for all they do.  The kids love to perform and they direct that love and focus it into some really incredible talent.  They sing, they dance, they act and they all look like they truly enjoy it.

The second grade performance today was "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and Caroline was in a group of sheep performing circus-like tricks with the boy (yes, it was a spin on the old story).  As always, Caroline ate it up.  She loves being on stage, singing, dancing, performing in just about any way.  Seeing her face light up is so satisfying for Jeff and for me as her parents.  There is truly nothing like seeing your child immersed in something they love.  I pray each of my girls finds something that brings them joy the way that performing brings 7 year old Caroline joy.

Here are a few pics of my little circus sheep:

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

in the mending (part 2)

I hope it's not a bad thing that I'm continually linking to, quoting, or making reference to a host of writers and bloggers.  If nothing else, it makes me feel slightly less odd to know that someone else's words are giving voice to something I'm feeling.

In this case, several months ago Emily Freeman wrote:  "Several years and several moves later, I had learned the fine art of becoming who everyone wanted me to be in order to be accepted. Not in the I’ll-jump-off-a-bridge-too kind of way, more in a I-don’t-rock-the-boat kind of a way. I watched people, learned what got on their nerves, learned what people liked and didn’t like. I wasn’t doing this on purpose. I just really wanted to have a lot of friends. I wanted to be seen as fun. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Shy didn't seem okay."

Now, I don't think I'm shy - introverted, yes, but shy, no.  But the part of her story that speaks of molding yourself into what you think others want you to be . . . . Yes, that.   That resonates with me. And maybe with most of us?

Forgive my amateur psychologist analogy here, but it's almost Pavlovian.  When we get a good response, a reward, a pat on the back because we fall in line or make only little waves and don't rock the boat, we habituate to that behavior.  Is it innate to the human condition or is it my constitution that is more prone to that?

From taking the first appointment offered at a doctor's office even if it's not convenient for me - and how ridiculous is that when I type it out - to "just doing it myself", those are my grown up versions of getting a reward, no matter how small.  Don't disappoint.  Make it work.  Do the right thing.

When we ruffle feathers or cause disturbance or somehow, someway stand out from the crowd, we don't get the same affirming response.  I admire those who even at a young age do not let others' expectations of who they "should be" and what they "should do" snuff out the light that was born in them.  And there is an extreme on the opposite end of the spectrum from where I normally stand - there are those that intentionally create chaos, or draw the spotlight to themselves.  The ones I admire most are those are simply honest about who they are, their likes and dislikes, their passions, hopes, dreams, understandings, capabilities, and desires.  Again, some people are born with it - and if I might wax prophetic, I believe my Charlotte is one of those.  And I love her light.

That's the place I long to rest:  knowing my Source, my Light, my Strength, my Hope.  Not striving, not arranging; resting in the Way, the Truth, the Light in the way it was placed in me.

This is my much-belated follow up to a writing prompt from Angie Smith celebrating the release of her book, Mended.

Friday, September 14, 2012

For your Friday: What I'm reading and watching

What I'm reading:

I recently finished reading What Happened to Sophie Walker and I really, really liked it. I'm actually re-reading it because I liked it so much.

Dear Me: a letter to your teenage self, a series from Emily P. Freeman is great.  I have read through a several of these and they've all been so personal, so true, great eye-opening reminders to me as a mother.  And a former teenager.

I'm also reading Mended and No Other gods.  I need a new fiction book to add to the mix.  Anyone?

"You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think your way into becoming yourself." Yes. 

What I'm watching:

 Drives Grandmas!  This is a great light-hearted look at politics for your start to the weekend.

 I talked to Jeff about this last night. The prevalence of the problem of bullying is so painful to me. I do not recall anything close to bullying at my high school - and maybe I'm wrong and it was there and I was just oblivious, but I remember some mild teasing in middle school and elementary school. None of it seemed to rise to the level of the stories that are increasingly common lately. It breaks my heart and I pray my girls are never on either end of this terrible trend.  It is apparent to me that we all need to be hyper-vigilant about teaching our kids that your words matter and they can speak life into someone or speak hurt into them.


Thursday, September 06, 2012


"This is Emanuel.  He lives in South America." 

And so began my introduction to Compassion International as a 6th grader sitting in Sunday School, meeting a child that our class would sponsor.  Our task was to bring in a little money each week so that over the month we could collectively accumulate the $30 or so it would take to continue to sponsor this little boy.  It made a 12 year old girl in Baton Rouge feel like she was part of something bigger.  Something important.  

We've all seen the commercials on TV.  Pictures of starving children, foraging for food in a landfill, barely clothed, the American announcer appealing to our emotion and common sense.  "All it takes is ", and you fill in the blank.  A dollar a day, Two dollars a day.  I've heard more than my share of cynicism about these programs.  "That money doesn't really go to the kids they show on TV, you know that right?"  "The CEO's of those 'charities' are getting a fat paycheck and the children are getting the crumbs of what you send."  The tenor of all of the cynical commentary is the same; we don't know where the money is going and so you're not really helping the ones you think you're helping.  

I hate to admit that I don't really remember what happened to Emanuel.  I moved on to other Sunday School teachers, and honestly, I left Emanuel in that old classroom.  In college I volunteered with the youth program at church and to my surprise, Compassion was still around.  I'm not sure if it should have surprised me, like I said, I still saw all of the commercials about children starving in third world countries, but seeing the organization that started it all for me was inspiring and made me think.  

It would be years before I actually committed to sponsor a child through Compassion.  Was it the cynicism, the selfishness, or the laziness that kept me from it earlier?  Probably all of the above and more.  But even at the age of 12 when sponsoring a child on my own was no where near the realm of my imagination, my interest was piqued.   Even before Compassion got my money, they had a bit of my heart.  

So, what I'm asking you do to today is venture a bit of your heart and click on over here to Compassion's sponsorship page.  And pray.  Not necessarily that God will lead YOU to sponsor one of them - but that would be wonderful - pray for them by name, for their families, teachers, pastors, friends.  You may not be in a place where sponsoring one of these children is possible or a desire of yours right now - and there's no judgment here in that - but perhaps you could pray that someone else who is in the right place financially and spiritually would click on that page too.  

Grace & peace.

PS:  if you're interested in defeating a little of that cynicism about organizations like Compassion, here's their information on how they spend the donated funds.  

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

in the mending

"I loved to run.
But more than that, I loved people’s reaction when I won.
And over the years, the Lord has taught me (Over and over. And then some more) that I need to stop running for the crowd. The applause is one thing, but truthfully, it’s not what pushes me. It’s the fear of disappointing anyone that haunts me. The feeling that I’m not enough, or that I’ve failed someone. It’s a miserable way to approach the race, let me tell you." 
As I read those words earlier this week, they struck me hard.  They could have been my own words.  Not the running part of course -- I don't know that anyone has ever cheered me on for my running prowess -- but doing something for the reaction it brought in others?  Yes. Ma'am.  That's a big part of my story and I'm only recently realizing how big a part it has been.  People-pleasing, finding your worth in achievement, placing your value in others' acceptance or approval is great, when you're great.  When you're not great, however, it is -- as Angie says-- miserable.  

It's all very American of me, though isn't it?  Very modern feminist (not the angry bra-burning variety, but the intelligent and capable club of 20 and 30 something women, daughters of the bra-burners) of me, right?  

While those are true, it's also part of the genetic make-up of who I am.  Passed on to me much like my red hair, fair skin, and baby-birthing hips, or my strong-willed nature, love of laughter, and disdain for slow-walkers.  You can't see the do-it-myself gene in my mom just by looking at her, but as sure as I sit here, she got it honestly from her own mother.  

The problem is that the do-it-myself, try harder, getting it done gene is actually evidence of mistrust and conceit.  I don't say those things to disparage my mom or grandmother; some things are really a product of necessity of the fallen world in which we live.  When you step back from it and ask the "why" and search for an earnest answer, it's unavoidable - for me at least.  

The do-it-myself gene is exhibit A in the case that I do much of what I do for approval and recognition and acceptance. The thinking goes something like this:  If I do it, I'll do it right, and then people will know I did it - not anyone else.  I don't want anyone else to screw this up.  

All of this works nicely when you are able to live under the illusion that you are in control and the world in working your favor.  Misery and self-hated ensue when that illusion comes crashing down in a heap.  

And now to the point, where is the mending?  How has God been working on me in this area?  He's brought the oh-so-basic and yet so much bigger than my mind can comprehend Truth of Grace  

Grace says that neither my failures - nor my successes -- define me, my Savior defines me.  

Grace says that I am not good enough, but He is.

Grace says that I don't have to try harder, He's accomplished all that matters.

Grace says that I don't have to keep up appearances, He's promised that I will not be accepted by the world if I choose to follow Him.  

Grace says that I do not have to strive to find hope in myself or in this world, but I can rest in the Extravagant Truth that Christ in me is the Hope of Glory.  

And so the story is too long already - and not long enough.  

To be continued . . .


This post is written in celebration of my friend Angie Smith's book Mended releasing.  I've only just started to read it; and it will be one I have to read through slowly and often. :-)  I already highly recommend it though and it can be purchased here or here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Forgive the little break.  I'm not sure how ten weeks have passed without me updating all 13 of you on what the Beck girls have been up to!

In short, we spent time at the pool and swam, swam, and swam some more.

The girls and I went to Nashville where we enjoyed some of my favorite people in this world.

We went to the beach. and laughed, ate, swam, played in sand, and mopped up every moment of being with my family.

We enjoyed the perks of summer - watching movies on weeknights, celebrating Independence Day with our own little fireworks tradition, having Caroline in day camps and living up the no-homework nights while they lasted.

We sent Caroline off to second grade. SECOND GRADE!!  How is this possible?  I loved second grade and I'm praying Caroline has great memories from this year too.

We celebrated Caroline's seventh birthday.  This girl exudes joy, doesn't she?

We celebrated Camille's second birthday.  I could seriously snuggle this baby little girl all day.

We celebrated Camille's baptism.

And the video won't upload - stay tuned.  

So, here's the getting back in the saddle again.