First Days in JAX

I’ve been to the beach twice in as many days. And I have a feeling that our date tonight is at the beach as well. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it or not. I’m not too sporty and definitely don’t need a tan. And I discovered that I’m still not sure if I like the beach or not, but I absolutely love the ocean. It’s so immense, so alive. And I am so small in relation to it. It gives me a sense of perspective. I could so easily be lost in that water–in the crashing waves, in the wind’s roar, in the birds’ call. Today a journaled as I sat at the beach: “It’s not hard to know the glory of the Lord in this place. I can see it in the waves, hear it as the sea calls out and the birds respond. The sea, the wind, the waves, movement on the sand, children laughing. And the sun’s silence reminds me that God speaks through the wind and the waves, the storms, and the loud; but sometimes He simply speaks through the quiet.” As the other girls lay sunbathing–reading or listening to music–I sat there and contemplated the words to the song “Still, I will be still.” Stillness is such an elusive thing for me. I am used to running and dancing and serving and staying busy. Stillness I do not know, nor does it know me. But today I took a glimpse at stillness in the midst of the ocean’s ceaseless busyness and I rested. And it was beautiful.

My team is wonderful. Allie is our team leader. She’s loud, she describes her driving as “aggressively good” (a euphemism for crazy), and she has an amazing testimony of God’s greatness. Amy is probably the quietest of us, but that doesn’t mean she sits back and lets everyone else do the talking. She’s always coming up with some way to direct our attention back to God. Yesterday, she directed our conversation towards how we can see God in the ocean, in the seashells, and in our everyday lives. Sandra (with the a as in “hat”) comes from Jacksonville and therefore knows the area quite well. She is probably the most flamboyant personality on our team. Veronica is from Kansas and her voice and mine are virtually indistinguishable when we’re both lying down. She reminds me a lot of myself except that I talk more. She’s more likely to draw people out and get them to talk about themselves than I am. All three of my team members and I share a room. We have two bunkbeds. All of them run. They’ve invited me to join them, but I don’t think I have the stamina to start off with their normal morning run. So, we’re going to figure out some sort of exercise rotation that includes a walk/run combo so that I can work my way up to joining them.

Friday night (tonight) is date night. Our team was asked on a date last night by a male team. They dropped a bottle on a fishing line from a railing while we we’re all standing on the bottom floor of the dorm. The message in the bottle said something to the effect of: “Girls are good, God is better.” The inside of the card read, “But you can’t ask God on a date. Please join us Friday night at 7 in the lobby. Wear beach attire.” We scrawled our answer back and let them reel the bottle back in. “We accept.” So tonight–we have a date.

We haven’t gotten into Bible study hardcore yet, although perhaps we should. Our first Bible study meeting is next Wednesday. Tomorrow is beach evangelism (so that’ll be my fourth time on the beach in three days–assuming the boys really are taking us to the beach.) And then on Sunday, we have church. We’ll be attending some sort of Southern Baptist church that’s a little ways away from where we’re staying. It should be interesting.

Items eaten in class today

Items eaten in class today:

  • One CapriSun juice packet
  • Small stack original Pringles
  • Small stack Lays take-off on Pringles
  • Small handful of Lays wavy potato chips
  • One “tattoo your tongue” fruit roll up
  • One chocolate covered peanut butter Kudos bar
  • Two “soft” chocolate chip cookies
  • One “hard” chocolate chip cookie
  • Two “soft” oatmeal raisin cookies

On days like these, I love Food Science. I just enjoyed enough junk food to last me all month–in one thirty minute class.


There are moments in my life. Where I’m too spent to speak. There are times when I feel completely empty. Sometimes I bluff off the truth that haunts me. If I laugh, maybe no one can tell that I’m just a shell. I eat, hoping it will fill me, but it doesn’t. I am lethargic, slow. I don’t want to move. I want little more than to curl up in my bed with a book.

Why? Why am I so bound to my emotions? I thought I had reached a plateau in time to take the big plunge. I know I’m not fat, but some days I look in the mirror and I am. Some days I see through my face. Some days I feel so utterly unattractive that all I can do is pretend. And why? I know that’s not so. I know that people love me, God loves me. I know that I’m not overweight. I know that I’m not ugly. So why do I listen when my emotions tell me otherwise?

I’m a wimp and I know it, cocooning against the extremities. Did I pick the wrong major when I chose dietetics? After all, it makes me take biochemistry. No, then why is my favorite class this semester Shakespeare? Because I love to read, and I love English. Why didn’t I go with the English major I’d thought of earlier? Not practical. Why shouldn’t I give in to temptation now? Because the only reason I like Shakespeare is because it’s easy. If all I had to do was English, I would never have to push myself. I could pretend my way through life because I love it.

No pain, no gain, they used to say. That’s wrong and right. Everything’s so garbled. Unless I fatigue my muscle I’ll never grow. But I think my fatigue is the wrong kind. I have stress fractures from running too long, but no muscle built from the effort. Instead my flesh defends itself against the rigors of my life by developing callouses, drawing itself in and pushing all else outside. I’ve got too much pain so I curl in a ball and pretend it isn’t there.

I try to do the things I once did to relax. Nothing has any appeal. I start a book, and let it lie. I don’t care. Really. I want to get up and exercise–dance to some music in my room–but my body would rather not. And I don’t. I try to surf the web, to explore something. Nothing whets my appetite. I am starving for rest, but all I do is sleep. Hours upon hours upon hours of sleep. I’m so tired, but I cannot rest.

The only thing that gets me through is the promise of Romans 8:1-3. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.” In Christ, I do not walk in condemnation. My flesh and its death no longer hold sway over me. I am set free by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. I have only to learn to walk according to the Spirit.

Luckiest girl on earth

If I said I was the luckiest girl on earth, I wouldn’t be the first to say so. But that doesn’t change my general sense that I am indeed the luckiest girl on earth. And why might I be so lucky? What happy occasion heralds this joyous exclamation?

I began to realize it last night, when I told my family that it was official: Love Memorial Hall and AGN will be doing a bike-a-thon to raise money for Cedars Youth Services. We will be riding our bikes to the Missouri game on October 22. I mentioned that I should probably bring my bike back to the hall and start doing some serious riding before then. My mom told me that she’d gone out and gotten me a new inner tube for my bike as soon as she’d heard that I was possibly going to participate. My old tube was leaking around the stem and couldn’t be patched. My little brother Timothy put it on for me. But not only did he replace my inner tube, Timothy also prevented me from taking the bike back to the hall until he had adjusted the brakes so that they wouldn’t rub.

I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I have a family like no other. My sister offered to take me back to the hall in her new car, but took a bit of a circuitous route. First she dropped by Walmart to get me all of my little necessities–tissues, printer paper, deoderant. And not only that, she ran me by Wendy’s and got me a sandwich and a Frosty. What have I done to deserve my sister’s lavish gifts? Nothing. She works her butt off between going to school and her job as a Diet Tech, and I enjoy the fruits of her labours.

I’m the luckiest girl because for a seventh grade research paper, my dad brought me to UNL’s Love library. It was a research paper-why not go to a research library? He believed I could understand what I read and I was determined to prove him right. We wandered the stacks at midnight, searching for just the right book. We walked the stairs with crisp turns, pretending we were nerds without needing to pretend. In sixth grade, he got a book on HTML and wrote up an announcement to post on our family bulletin board. “Wanted: Web Designer. Must have at least a fifth grade education. Will train. Send resumes to…” I sent my resume in and got the job. We skipped, hand in hand, in the SAMS club parking lot on our way to get milk for the family.

I’m the luckiest girl because my mom spent five hours adjusting the bodice for a pattern I just couldn’t get to fit. It was supposed to be a simple pattern, the design of the dress would be a cinch to sew. I hadn’t counted on the adjustments–Mom patiently walked me through them. When I was in second grade, she read us The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I loved it and always will. When my fish died and she found it before I did, she flushed it so I wouldn’t have to. And when my bike had a leaky inner tube, that I didn’t even know about, she bought me a new inner tube.

I’m the luckiest girl because my sister Anna, though I once thought she was my worst enemy, is my best friend. Out of the blue, she announced to me that she was paying my car’s registration–“After all, I think you might have paid mine last year.” She’s at home because she can’t afford the hall, so she buys me everything I need to be comfortable here. She came and cooked for me on my busy day–despite the fact that everyday is her busy day. She never lets me dwell on crushes. She protects me from my own mind. To paraphrase Colonel Fitzwilliam, she takes prodigiously good care of me.

I’m the luckiest girl because I caught my brother Joshua as we were crossing Cornhusker Highway on our bikes today–going the opposite direction. I waved and shouted, and he was a bit embarrassed. But he’s my brother and it’s okay. When he’s in the middle of a deep history conversation and I break in with a piddling contextual question, he patiently answers. He lets me read his stories, even though I’ve always been a hard critic. And he took on my dish job when I went away to college.

I’m the luckiest girl because I’m always trying to one up my brother Daniel at busyness. I go to school and do a thousand piddly things. He goes to high school and works almost thirty hours a week. But that doesn’t mean he’s too busy to drive me around while the gas prices continue to rise. He’s always trying to torque me off about women’s lib, but I know that he respects me as a woman and as his sister. He started to work out and dropped fifty pounds after he scared himself at 200 lbs. And he had the grace to let me come to the gym and spot for him–even though I’d never done it before. He let me buy him some jeans for Christmas last year–even when I insisted on them being European style. And he asks me for clothing advice. He actually thinks my opinion matters.

I’m the luckiest girl just because my brother John is alive and is my brother. Because he loves missions and is on our church’s mission team with me. Because he loves children and begged me to let him help out in the nursery–we work together so that he’s not a boy alone with them. He’s got more energy than anyone I know, and he never lets anything get him down. He loves people and he wants to do everything within his power to help them. He’s the only one of my siblings who doesn’t correct me when I sit down at the piano. And he actually begs me to cut his hair–even though I cut his ear the one time I tried.

I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I can talk to my brother Timothy about books. We started with Lemony Snicket, back when he hated to read. Now he’s begging me to read Eragon, because he thinks it’s the best thing in the world. We read Phantom of the Opera out loud together in three days. We discussed our melancholy over loving and hating Eric at the same time. Tim’s growing up and his voice is deepening, but he isn’t outgrowing his sister. He comes up to me at youth group and gives me a hug, tells me about his day. He’s gotten into fixing bikes recently, and wasn’t content until he’d gotten my seat to just the right height.

I’m the luckiest girl in the world because my little sister Grace spent the night with me on Saturday. She helped me prepare the Sunday school lesson, and tried to pick out what I wore. She asked my advice on the right kind of eyeshadow to get as her first makeup. She asked me if I thought Meg Cabot’s All-American Girl was appropriate for her. (It isn’t.) She asked me “What does eighties music sound like?” Grace sewed me a patchwork pillow that perfectly matches my decor, being careful that all the little people on the toile fabric pointed in the same direction. And she only glares at me but does no more when I call her Trixie for the thousandth time.

And that’s only my immediate family. I could go on for pages and pages about the rest as well. How my grandpa checked my antifreeze and gave me an extra jug before I came back down from their farm last spring break. How my grandma and my aunts and I always get into huge theological discussions every time we’re together. How my Aunt Martha-ma-ba took me for a drive and asked me why I was thinking about going into teaching. How my Aunt Lisa, new to the family, had my sister and me over for a week when we were eight or nine. How my Uncle Jim solemnly informed us not to drink the pickle juice out of the pickle jar until the pickles were all gone. How my Uncle Leo places coffee filters on the girls’ heads and suggests that we become Mennonite. How my Aunt Alice organized a family dance after we discovered that we enjoyed dancing together at my cousin’s wedding. Yes, I could go on forever, because I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

The Overwhelming Numbness of Completion

Have you ever felt the overwhelming numbness of completion? That’s what I felt yesterday. Packing my bag for the afternoon and evening’s tasks and realizing I don’t have anything to study for. I can’t go into the office now because there’s nothing there for me to do yet. I can’t run errands because I don’t have any to do. Everything is completed.

And it’s the most uncomfortable sensation I’ve ever experienced. Nothing to do. Nothing to avoid doing. I’m always either running to do or running away from doing something. This, this is something new. I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t understand leisure, only avoiding work. I don’t understand relaxation–only the collapse of exhaustion.

I’m a workaholic without a job, addicted to deadlines, to hurrying, to busyness. If I have a free moment, I fill it. If I’m crunched, I add just one more thing. My heart is thrilled with the challenge of twenty-nine things to do in twenty-four hours. My schedule doesn’t affect my to-do list. Heaven forbid I do less because I’m gone more. No, I must stay busy.

And so the dull ache of Elijah, mission accomplished, now sitting alone under the terebinth tree. Addicted to busyness, I’ve forgotten that the goal was completion. Now I’m done, and when I should be celebrating-I’m begging for another buzz.

Photos in the Paper

So I was in the newspaper today-on the front page. Okay, more precisely, my photo was on the front page of the Daily Nebraskan. But–before you run out an secure yourself a copy, be warned. It’s not a good picture.

You see, the photo was actually of one of my kitchen-mates flipping sticky rice. I had been standing in the kitchen talking to another kitchen-mate when they entered the room for a picture. So, I’m in the background of Taem’s sticky rice shot.

Adding to the “badness” of the photo was the fact that it was shot at a crazy angle. The photographer was standing on a windowsill trying to get a good shot of the rice in motion. Not only that, I was laughing because the photographer was asking Taem to flip the rice higher and higher and higher–and the rice was breaking up and flying all over the room. So the picture definitely shows some big teeth and squinty eyes-Lovely!

Note to the hall for next time we beg for an article–Figure out when the photographer’s coming so we don’t have to stage a sticky rice flipping with yesterday’s leftovers.

A Bit of a Nag

I have my doubts about the oft heard statement that “the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.” Instead, I rather think He’s a nag. LESTER retreat was marvelous–but a little bit redundant. It seems that God is into driving things home.

On March 6, I wrote on this website that God had been speaking to me about not being consumed with serving others. Instead, I should be focused on sitting at Christ’s feet. This Saturday, Mike Jordahl shared from Isaiah 52:13, which begins, “My servant…” Mike asked the question, Whose servant? God’s servant, of course. While being a servant of God will inevitably lead to serving men, the role of the Christian is not to please men. It is to serve God and walk in relationship with Him.

On August 27, I wrote of my desire for greatness and of what I want to accomplish with my story. Sunday morning Darin Durand spoke about greatness and the difference between earthly and spiritual greatness. In small groups, we discussed how difficult it is to die to selfish desires in the pursuit of greatness–the same thing I have struggled with over the past few months.

Then on Sunday night, Lauren Libby gave a teaching on leadership. One of his points stuck out to me particularly because it has been on my heart for a while now. He said, “The leader transforms strategy into action by empowering others.” This only confirms what God has been speaking to me about empowering others to do much of the work that I am currently doing within the church–allowing them to serve in an increased way and giving me more time to focus on what God is calling me to directly.

While the teaching was a highlight of the trip, it was by no means the only one. I enjoyed taking a dip in the “Punch bowls” in my pajamas. The water was colder than cold, but I didn’t feel cold until I’d been out of the water for fifteen minutes–then I was freezing. The hike up and back was beautiful. All around I was impressed by the greatness and majesty of God.

Another big highlight of the trip was developing relationships. In a way, I felt like I was talking with someone almost constantly ;-) From the gals in my room to the folks I had dinner with to those that I ended up spending time with during odd hours of the day, I was constantly surrounded by opportunities to fellowship and to grow in relationship. Of course, when talking about relationship building, you can’t discount the ride up and back. I can see that despite my rocky start, the maxim proves true: “God doesn’t make typos when He writes the story of our lives–even when we, like children, are sitting on His lap pounding on the keyboard.” Even though I didn’t pay attention to exactly which parking garage I was supposed to be at and wandered around–God worked all things together for good. It was this “mistake” that allowed me to get to know several people that quite possibly I would not otherwise have gotten to know. God is faithful to arrange all things according to His purposes.


I came perilously close to losing my scholarships this semester. Gradewise, there was no way I wasn’t supposed to get a C- in Physiology, requiring me to take it again and putting my GPA at something like 3.4978. I was bracing myself for the worst, expecting to lose my scholarship–have to work my way through school, reevaluate how to handle things. I was kicking myself for being so cocky at the beginning of the semester–“Sure it’s going to be tough taking Chemistry, Anatomy, and Physiology all in the same semester. But I can handle it.” Just barely.

So when I looked at my grades and discovered that I’d gotten a C in Physiology instead of a C-, I felt like the world had been handed me on a platter. I hadn’t lost my scholarships. I would have a chance
to redeem myself. That vein of thought continued for a while–I started to contemplate the concept of redemption.

I don’t think I’ve really valued redemption in my life as much as I should. I’ve known Christ since I was four years old. I’ve been a generally good kid. I’ve never done anything illegal or committed any
of those uncomfortably visible moral errors. I’ve always had good grades, despite having substandard study habits. I’ve always had a nice little life–why should I need redemption?

Of course, this thought is incorrect. I do need redemption–desperately. But I saw that in a new way when I saw that I had received a C in that class. The first words out of my mouth were, “Awesome, now I have a chance to redeem myself.” You see, I didn’t deserve a C in that class–by my own cockiness and lack of devotion to studying, I deserved to lose my scholarship. But, by the grace of God, I didn’t get what I deserved. I received better. Now, I have a chance to redeem myself–to prove that I have a right to the scholarship I received.

Just like I received my scholarships on the basis of merit that I didn’t necessarily have–unless being born “smart” counts as merit–any life that I have received is granted to me apart from my own merit. God
granted me life, not because I deserved it in any way. He just chose to give it to me. But I did not treat that life with respect. I used it for sin and sold my life in slavery to sin; just like I came within an
inch of losing my scholarship because of my own lack of dedication to my studies.

The difference between my scholarships and my life overall rests in this–I have received grace so that I might redeem myself in regard to my studies; I have received grace despite having no ability to redeem myself in regard to slavery to sin. I can learn to study and devote more time to studying to improve my grades–I can’t
do anything to solve my sin problem.

But the amazing thing about God is that what I was powerless to do, Christ did. “For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) I was completely powerless to redeem myself from sin–but Christ in His mercy took on flesh to become my kinsman redeemer. “But when the fullness of the
time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

Week in the Word was incredible. The time we spent in Ruth only served to confirm this concept of redemption. The story of Ruth models redemption in so many ways–outlining for us the role of a kinsman-redeemer. Perhaps the first qualification for a kinsman-redeemer is that the person be a kinsman. Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman
through his familial relationship with Elimelech (Ruth’s father in law). Christ became our kinsman by taking on human flesh. As Boaz agreed to redeem Ruth when she requested that he spread the corner of his garment over her, Christ chooses to redeem us when we come to Him for redemption. Just as the redemption of Ruth was part of the grand story of God’s agenda to bring glory to Himself by redeeming a people, our redemption is also part of the grander story. We are redeemed to bear fruit–“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” (John 15:16)

Redemption is a grand story that shows the lovingkindness of our Saviour. We were incapable of redeeming ourselves from the slavery into which we sold ourselves. So, Christ in His mercy took on flesh to become our kinsman. As our kinsman, He redeemed us. Now as our husband, He bears fruit in us–fruit that ultimately leads back to the glorification of God and the advancement of His program to redeem for Himself people from every nation.

Spring Break Plans

I’m super excited–my Grandma just e-mailed me back about spending Spring Break with her and Grandpa. She wrote, “Grandpa says, ‘tell Rebekah we would be honored if she would spend her spring break with us instead of going to Florida.’ I second the motion.” So, I’ll go up on Monday morning and stay until Wednesday or Thursday. I so need the opportunity to rest, to focus on Christ, to get away from everything. Traveling, in and of itself, isn’t enough. I don’t need to get away from a place. I need to get away from doing. I need to go to a place where I can just be. Grandpa and Grandma’s is that kind of place–as Grandma said in her e-mail: “Life here gets pretty boring so you should be able to do a lot of reading, tv, walking, cedar tree cutting, and maybe even a scrabble game or two.” There’s nothing I’d love more.