Bekah's Corner

…when necessary, use words.

Calling all autumn enthusiasts!

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A few of my favorite things include baking, the fall season, and hearing other people’s stories. Or being part of their journey. Or simply catching a glimpse of who they are and what has shaped them. This morning, an idea struck me that would allow me to put all of those things together. Let’s consider it one of those “internet projects” that strange people try to start. Call me strange, because I want to try it! And I need YOUR help!

Recently I have picked up the hobby of collecting old cookbooks. You know, the ones with faded colors and spines that are falling apart. Whenever I find them at antique stores, I look for the ones with additional recipe cards hidden between the pages. I’m not just buying an old cookbook, I’m purchasing a treasure chest of stories! Some of the additional recipes will have names on them. I always wonder who these women were, what they enjoyed cooking, and on what occasion a particular recipe was exchanged. There is so much history in creating and sharing food, and I want to be part of that.

This fall, I have already started collecting recipes off Pinterest for various drinks, cookies, breads, and butters with pumpkin or apple in them. I had originally thought of creating a portfolio of the recipes I printed. This morning, however, I thought it would be fun to gather them from women like YOU, who probably have access to many recipes I couldn’t even imagine!

If you’re interested in helping, all I need you to do is find that ONE fall recipe that you love. The one you make every year. The one your family has adored for generations. Or maybe that one you found last week and are eager to try yourself. Pick a recipe and write it on a recipe card. Put your name on the top, with your first name and last initial, along with your general location (ex: Bekah Z, Michigan) If you care to share why this particular recipe is so meaningful to you, please include that as well. Essentially, you are becoming part of a fall cookbook I am putting together—a collection of different women sharing their favorite autumn treat. If I get enough responses, I’ll create a specific blog and post all the recipes I receive. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have it published.

So where do you send this recipe card? Straight to my home! Put it in an envelope and mail it to: “The Zraik Home / 201 Second St, Apt A / Jackson, MI 49201.”

How often do you have the opportunity to do something kind of crazy like this? I’m hoping to hear from women all over the country! It seems like a long shot to me right now, but I’d like to be proven wrong. We were created to be in community with one another, and I believe that community can happen between anyone. Be sure to put your return address on the envelope, so I can write you back and personally thank you for your contribution. Thanks in advance! I’m excited to hear from you.

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Rest.

As I sit in Starbucks paying bills, looking up Crockpot recipes, and exchanging an email here and there with past mentors and potential future employers, I look around and see a handful of students straining over homework and sweating to meet online deadlines. It makes me miss the college days where I always had something to do, somewhere to be, and meetings to attend. It makes me thankful for the period of rest I have these days, even if the idea of rest is something I’m recreating in my life. Rest is something we often don’t think about, and I wouldn’t even be contemplating it today if it weren’t for Aaron and his intentional ways of making rest an important part of his routine.

Going from a college student to a housewife, rest takes on a completely new look for me. Rather than taking time from a busy schedule to lock myself away from the world and take advantage of quiet time, I am taking on a new “restful” lifestyle. The rest comes out in the way I pace myself. It is the way I make intentional time for close friends and family, rather than sneaking in a phone call or multi-tasking while spending time with them. It is the way I exemplify pauses throughout my day, so that Aaron is able to do the same. Since he is still the “busy college student,” juggling classes, work, school commitments, and now a wife, I feel the need to offer him a safe place to set all of that aside and just be.

Rest in the Lord. Rest from a busy day. Rest well. Rest often. There are so many different components to this word that is frequently thrown around in Christian circles. But what does it really mean? This is the question I am pondering today. As I strive to keep myself busy (simply because staying busy is something I am naturally drawn to) I must remember to ask the Lord to keep me focused on the needs of others around me, rather than the “needs” I feel that I have.

It starts with recognizing the barriers that are preventing you from resting. What seems to be more important? What promises have been made? What commitments have been set? But in spite of all of those things, prioritize. Life is about balance, and juggling the many components of our life. If we spend our days working through this constant battle, at least they will be well spent.

NSO: Graduate Edition

Freshman move-in. What a day. It’s crazy to think that four years ago, I was the one anxious to get the car door open and stand in the heat for as long as it took to get to the front of the orientation line. That special spot meant I would receive the packet with my ID card, my room key, and plenty of information that I probably couldn’t even find two days later. The next few hours were a whirlwind. There were hundreds of people in matching shirts wandering around with genuine smiles on their faces and hands eager to carry everything to my Delta room. Delta 1. Who knew I would spend the next three years of my residential life in that hallway–making memories, making mistakes, but making the most out of everything that came my way. I sit here four years later and think of all that has come to pass during that time. I certainly had a purpose here. I didn’t quite know it at the time, but looking back I can see much of what the Lord did through me and the community around me.

As I said goodbye to my parents in Dunckel Gym, I can still remember the look in my dad’s eyes. The tightness of my mom’s hug. The love that freely poured from both of them and the pride they took in all I had accomplished up to that point. They knew I had much more to complete on this earth, Lord willing. They understood that I was not finished growing, and that my next time of growth needed to be here. But none of us knew the extent of the journey I would experience while working through undergrad. I walked in as an Education major with plans to be a middle school teacher, and I left with a Sociology degree and dreams of re-entering University life from a different perspective. If I would have not come to Spring Arbor, I have no idea where I would be now or what my life goals would consist of. Walking through campus today, the pre-fall breeze was almost a comforting reminder to hold on to the hopes and dreams the Lord has placed on my heart over the last three years. Ever since switching my major, I have been drawn nearer to my “calling” of working with college students. I use that term loosely because I believe anyone could be called to anything if they developed a passion for it. But the environment I have been in truly cultivated in me a passion for the journey of a college student, and the barriers one must overcome to complete an undergraduate education. There are academic, relational, social, and emotional factors to consider when one looks at a college experience.

The emphasis should not be one end goal, but rather the hope of experiencing every aspect of the journey. One must trust the administration behind the school, the classes offered within, the opportunities to get involved, the social circles one finds himself in, as well as the faith that he has or has not had the chance to develop pre-college. Once he is out on his own, everything changes. His perspective is altered. Everything he knew and was comfortable with is taken away like a lover and her soldier. But when the comfort is stripped away and the satisfaction is broken, there is a valley of uncertainty the Lord is waiting to fill with new opportunity. College days are a chance to further understand who you are and who you were created to be.

[If there are any parents of freshman reading this by chance, know that your son or daughter is in very capable hands. They will be offered full support and room to grow, while still being pushed outside their comfort zone. They will have staff, faculty, and student leaders who have been prayerfully and pro-actively preparing to walk with your student during their time at Spring Arbor, no matter how long that might be. It is tough to part (on both ends, trust me!), but it is so rewarding when you see what they overcome throughout their first year.]

I cried more than usual at the Parting at the Plaza today. Mostly because for the first time since 2009, I was the one parting from a family I had grown to love. Those incoming freshmen don’t even know what they’re in for–they have been officially welcomed and embraced by a community full of love and support! So many unique adventures ahead. If you have a moment, pray for their upcoming days. The next month or two will be full of transition, both exciting and difficult. They will be forced to make new friends, break old habits, and recreate everything they used to know as comfortable into something that fits their current journey. But the Lord has greater plans for this class than any of them can imagine. Though I am sad to leave, I am excited for the new generation of students to continue giving this campus the reputation it deserves.  And I’m excited for MY new journey ahead! More to write about that in my next blog. I’m off to watch my husband provide music for a freshman event tonight–I’m so proud of him!

As the day draws near…

Life brings you a lot of great people, people who will love and support you through any kind of weather. But then you cross paths with one person who will walk the rest of your life journey beside you, holding you closer than you ever thought you deserved. They looked at your flaws and loved you anyway. They sought out your strengths and made sure you were aware of them. They encouraged your dreams and challenged your insecurities. Time turned them into your best friend, in the most intimate and vulnerable definition of the word.

15 days until I get to wake up with him next to me every day. 15 more days until there’s someone there when I get home late from closing at work. 15 more days until I need to do laundry more often and buy more groceries. The world seems to be getting smaller as my dreams grow and excitements rise for the next step in our journey. It’s amazing to me how much I’ve learned about Aaron through the engagement, pre-marital counseling, inevitable arguments, and countless conversations we’ve had to address about tough issues. And we’re not even living together yet. I’ve never had someone in my life who has challenged the formation of my soul so much as the man I get to call my husband in nearly two weeks.

Something about the giddiness of the number “15” seems to take all the stresses and worries of wedding planning and throw them out the window for a few moments. And then reality sets in and I realize I still have programs to make, centerpieces to finish, and a laundry list of other odds and ends to get done before the big day. But it doesn’t matter, because in 15 days, I’ll be with friends and family celebrating the journey that lies ahead of us.

Here’s to a life of deep faithfulness, sweet love, and silly memories.

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The parallels of gratitude.

I don’t think I’ve picked up a digital pen in almost six months. I’m not sure if I should apologize for that or for getting back into the swing of things, but I finally have a few words to share again. The first half of 2013 was filled with so much that I felt like I was storing everything in my mind and heart, occasionally expressing myself to those close to me. But the more I grow and the more I learn what a beautiful thing relationship is, the more I want to once again share that with you.

I hope one day to understand how to be thankful. I hope to unlock the secret of holding so much gratitude inside of my heart that the only option left is for it to overflow in the lives I pass each and every day. For now, I feel like I am a massive intake machine for gratitude, receiving new reasons every day to be thankful. Wedding plans stress me out, but in the end, I’m still going to be married to my best friend. The big-girl job hunt seems to be swallowing up my time and energy, but I do still have a job in the meantime. This whole “growing up” thing is taking a toll on every emotion I have within me, but there are voices of encouragement and assistance coming in from every angle. What do I have to fear? Nothing. And yet what do I fear? Everything.

Along with my hunt for gratitude, I see Christ working in every area of my life. This settlement of hope nestled its way inside my heart toward the end of the school year, when Aaron was able to see some sense of need in me to start being more thankful. He encouraged me to intentionally think of 5 things I was thankful for every morning when I woke up and every evening before I prepared for bed. A small amount of energy for a huge eternal impact. Since then, he has been lovingly correcting me when he sees me veering from my road of gratitude. I don’t even have to make a list of what I “want in a husband someday.” He is showing me more and more what I need in a life partner, and is selflessly acting those out those in how he loves me.

I am also learning that with gratitude comes community. I can’t allow myself to crawl inside my personal bubble and push others out. I need to pour into the lives of others with the gifts and abilities the Lord has given me. I need to get to know new people. I need to care more about the person I’m interacting with at the grocery store than I do about my own preferences or feelings. With this detachment from my own needs, I find a huge space of grace that the Lord has been waiting to pour over me. He reminds me that I am so valuable to Him, yet everyone else needs to be more valuable to me.

As I’m sitting at the coffee shop downtown, sipping my honey mocha frappe and feeling free as a bird expressing my heart through my blog once again, I am blessed to overhear a conversation at the nearest booth. I witnessed the first interaction between a wedding photographer and an engaged couple. As they discuss their preferences and expectations for the day, I can see the excitement in their eyes and deep love they have for each other. I’m the blubbering creep in the corner trying to keep back the tears as my excitement grows for this couple I have never even met. I truly hope others see a similar love I have for Aaron. I hope the gratitude I have for his place in my life overflows into the way I treat him and talk about him.

You can bet that I plan on being more careful about the way I do those things. Each day is a fresh start. Each day is a new chance to grow in gratitude. Each day is a gift, and I should unwrap it as such. Six weeks from today, I will be unwrapping the most exciting and stressful day I could ever imagine experiencing. Six weeks from today, from this moment, I will be at the end of an aisle across from the earthly love of my life, preparing to say vows that will bind me to him in every way possible for the rest of our lives in this green grass. I can’t think of a better reason to be grateful right now.