“Just you wait!”

We ALL have full access to ALL of God’s love, power & wisdom! Sometimes as Christians we forget this is true.

I grew up in a church tradition that didn’t talk about the Holy Spirit much, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to pursue what it meant to engage the Holy Spirit. And not only for conviction, but for hearing God, for spiritual gifts and so much more. I’ll admit the story in this video was the largest risk I’ve taken when hearing the Holy Spirit, because it was, the fact that I heard him correctly was more exciting than the money! Take a few minutes to hear this crazy story!

Please, know that God, the creator of the universe, wants to speak to you in little and large ways too… we ALL have the same Holy Spirit in us!

Chucks among Stilettos

This past weekend I was humbled by being selected as an honoree for Limitless Ambition’s Ladies of Legacy Gala. This is a great organization empowering young women throughout our Northeast Ohio! Being an honoree, I was asked to give a ten minute speech on my journey, as well as a few words of wisdom. I was excited as I thought through my journey with First Glance and what I wanted to share, It was especially exciting because of the younger ladies who would be in the audience.

One of my talking points was to know who you are. I remember so clearly soon after starting First Glance that I had to stop reading books and visiting other youth centers because the temptation was to take what I was learning & seeing and apply it to FG. This never worked out well because the ideas just didn’t work with our specific community of teens. Eventually I had to own that I knew our students, I knew our program, and I knew what worked best. I didn’t need to look to outside organizations for new ideas.

In this same conversation, I encouraged the room to own who they are personally, to not follow the crowd. And with this became a bit of an internal struggle for me that night. You see, I have written in my bio, that I hope to “bike across America, wear converse until I’m 80 and take over Akron with the hope and love of Jesus.” And so now, just hours before the event, I am in an internal debate of weather I should wear converse or not to this gala. All the words swirling in my mind say “you can’t wear converse to a gala,” but also realizing that this would be the definition of owning who I was. I wasn’t wearing them out of defiance or for attention, but rather because this is who I am. I am Noelle Beck, and I wear converse.

After much deliberation and some texts asking friends, I went for it. How could I talk about owning who you are and then follow the crowd? And so I wore them. And when I told this story as part of my speech, the crowd applauded. There is power in knowing who you are, and there is even more power when you own it. And as my friend commented on this picture “in a world of stilettos, be chucks.” 

Four years ago today.

There is an app I used called one day. It’s a journaling app, I add a picture. I write a line or two and move on with my day. It’s simple and an easy way to document some parts of my life. Now that I’ve used it for years, most days I look at the “on this day.” I was at Starbucks at Portage Crossing when I clicked on it, yesterday. Several entries came up, but three entries specifically came onto the screen from four years ago. Exactly four years prior I was sitting in this exact Starbucks desperately trying to hold on. I remember that day so clearly. The hopelessness I felt, and the doing everything in my power not to give into the darkness in my mind.

Yesterday, I took this picture while there… the journal app open, a cup of coffee and the exact Starbucks I was wrestling so much at. As I sat there I was waiting for a friend to talk through Akron Women on Purpose.  Something that wasn’t even a thought in my brain four years ago, and now we are preparing for our third conference.

I left the meeting and the Starbucks a little emotional. Thinking how gracious God has been through it all. Through His love and intervention in healing that suicidal season. And now how He has allowed me to be part of what He’s doing in Akron! I’m just in awe.

And this morning, as I finished this blog, I again clicked “on this day” and saw THIS post. Which also caused me to be humbled and so grateful for how God has moved in my life. I knew nothing about Akron Women on Purpose, when I wrote this four years ago, but He did! And called me to it years before I knew it… Even in my dark season, and when I was desperately holding on. He is so good!

As I close, I have to say, even though some of the days that came during this last 4 year window were the hardest I have EVER experienced, I’m glad I didn’t miss them. I am SO grateful that the darkness didn’t win. To those who are struggling with suicidal tendencies and feeling worthless. Please keep fighting!! There is hope on the other side. And although it won’t look like my journey, God has you here for a reason too!

Obedience over Perfection

If you know me you know I love goals, lists, efficiency and anything that will help me accomplish these things.  Of course I love New Years, not for the parties, but for the intentional opportunity to create lists, goals and think about how to do life the following year.  This year as I began to create my goals it didn’t go quite as I had planned.

My only goal this year is obedience over perfection. It’s something I feel like God is trying to teach me… again and again. It’s not a secret I have some tendencies to lean toward perfection. In fact if you know the Enneagram personality type I am #1 – The reformer which means I’m “principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.” But what I’m realizing is often I’m waiting for things to be perfect, for me to be certain, for all pieces to be in place before moving. This causes me to be slow to move. Slow to action. Slow to the things I know God is moving me toward.

So this year I will focus on being obedient in the moment. Moving even if not all the pieces are in place. Knowing I will have mistakes, which I dread, but moving all the same. Knowing that obedience is more important than perfection.

Not so picture perfect…

This morning I went to my prayer room and called it my desperation room. I’ve been in a season that I’ve not “felt” or “heard” from God in the ways I’m used to. It’s been hard. It’s caused me to take extra long in making life and ministry moves, trying to confirm what he’s leading me toward. God has been good in revealing himself in small bits, but if I’m honest a lot of it has been pure muscle memory. I continue to seek, pursue, live, and move in disciplines of what I know he’s shown me in the past.

This morning felt extra desperate. I had just finished a “spiritual weekend” and yet, didn’t feel spiritual. In fact within hours of returning last night I felt like running away was a good idea and day dreamed about that for a stint of time.

So this morning in my desperation, I came to the prayer room, so strongly desiring to sit in his presence. And as I listened to this song over and over, I had to write the words. So I grabbed the marker and quickly wrote this on my desk. In my mind it was sloppy and desperate, but I took a picture to put in my journal app on my phone. But when I looked at the picture, it looked so pretty and perfect.

I was tempted to post the picture to social media, because it did look so “perfect” and spiritual. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t because really my morning looked like me laying on the floor of the “desperation room.” It wasn’t pretty and perfect. It was hard, wrestling with so many broken thoughts of frustration and self hatred.

It reminded me of a picture of the cross I saw last week on social media. It was bright and shiny and had some verse about the cross. But really the cross was dirty, heavy, and hard.

So I’m writing this to be honest. I’ve had people say “you don’t sin, you’re Noelle Beck.” News flash, I’m sinful and broken. I spend lots of time in the prayer room to be as connected to the father as possible, because I am VERY aware of my shortcomings. Life isn’t pretty or perfect or easy. And when following Jesus, I would venture to say at moments, less so.

I do know God really does fulfill, which is why I continue to cling to Him, knowing He really does meet us in these spaces, whether we feel him or not.

And that’s how I end this blog. I’m in a hard season. Even in my desperation this morning, it’s not all fixed, and I’m still functioning in muscle memory disciplines because I still don’t “feel him.”

I got you girl

I got you girl. This is one of the most encouraging phrases that I hear.  My coworker and friend, Jessica Swiger, says it to me.  She says this when she has my back.  And it’s not that she says she has it. She legitimately has it 100%.  Whether it’s a project, task, conversation, or a needed break.  When I articulate some form of need or stress, she says, “I got you girl,” and then takes it on.  It’s so freeing because I trust when she uses that phrase that she really will come through.

As this grief week has kicked into high gear, I’ve been struggling. And when I mentioned I was not doing great, Jessica would say, “I got you girl,” and then proceeded to give me the rest of the night off so that I could engage the grief that seemed to be taking over.

Yesterday this happen again when another coworker and friend, Ben White, took on a fairly extensive assignment I had signed us up for.  I felt like it would be a great event, but the idea of standing at a table talking about FG seemed overwhelming when the grief that day was so strong.  So he sent me a text that essentially said the same thing, “I got you girl.” And he proceeded to go in early that morning to the local event, set up a table to promote First Glance, and stayed there for the next four hours so that I could have the morning to do other FG work and to care for myself.  

Later that morning I got this picture from the two of them as they represented First Glance well and gave me space to do what I needed.  “I got you girl,” and they really did.  

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Enoch’s birthday is tomorrow, I wrestle with grief and having moments of frustration that it’s taking over.  But I am so grateful for those who step in and say, “I got you girl.”  I’m grateful for Ben & Jess and also for the culture of our FG staff that continues to support each other in this way.  Additionally, we have had several others who love and care for us and step in, in amazing ways.  One woman reached out while writing this and out of blue asked if she could make or send us dinner next week.  There is nothing more encouraging than the “I got you girl” and they really do!    

The real reason FG turned 18!

This past Friday First Glance turned 18!  Honestly, my life wouldn’t be the same without First Glance!  Although I typically talk about what I’ve learned or crazy memories from the years, this year I want to talk about one of the main reasons First Glance is where it is today.  A lot of people give me credit since I’m the director, but the real reason I am the Director is because of this one individual, Karen Freeman.

I met Karen when I was all of 19 years old, before First Glance was even a thought in my mind.  She was old enough to be my mom, but we don’t really talk about that, mainly because she  never treated me like I was a kid.  She was the first person to back me when I said I wanted to host a program outside the walls of the church.  Together we had a desire to do this because people who don’t go to church, don’t go to church.

It was Karen that suggested we host First Glance in Kenmore.  After a few meetings with each other and a couple visits to the local community center, we were a team. Little did we know what all we would experience together over the years.  On September 14th, 2000 Karen and I opened the community center doors with 4 leaders, 2 sheet pizzas and some inflatable couches.  Little did we know, that night we had just founded First Glance.

From the moment we decided to start First Glance until now, I have been shocked and amazed how much Karen would teach, lead, support, and encourage me.  Karen was the first volunteer who’s number I had memorized because I called her most every day.  Seriously, every day.  I ran most ideas, problems, and questions by her.  Over time she encouraged me in my leadership skills and ownership of First Glance, while she eventually started the Teen Moms program.  Although in separate roles she remained my largest support and often coached me along the way.

People often give me credit for what happened 18 years ago, but the person behind me was Karen the whole time!  And so this years list of 18 goes to Karen, although there is no way to encompass all that we have experienced together over these years.

Lessons I learned from her along the way:

  1. To dream big.  Lunches together usually ended in new, big ideas.
  2. To speak and communicate the vision.  Karen did this well, clearly articulating how an individual fit into this major master plan of God’s.
  3. How to navigate upset volunteers, community members, or parents.
  4. How to ask bold questions to the students.
  5. Sadly, how to host a funeral dinner.  We did more than we would like to admit.
  6. That bribing is a great tool to use.
  7. To find the joy where you can and laugh as much as possible.
  8. To pray when it’s hard. Because sometimes it’s the only thing we can do.
  9. How to keep a straight face when the task or conversation before you makes your jaw want to drop open.
  10. That God will give us joy and help us through the sorrow, as she battled cancer and I lost Enoch.

The fun we had:

  1. Post FG hot tub nights for the first two years of FG.
  2. A crazy night at FG that we just labeled “thong night.”
  3. Road trips staying up way too late with students.
  4. And random road trips where Karen loses the toll ticket.
  5. Breaking up fights, which isn’t typically fun, but there were some funny stories.
  6. Creating giant leaf and popcorn pits, never quite learning our lesson on how much work it was to clean up.
  7. Getting the bat out of Teen Moms.
  8. Putting our offices directly across from each other on purpose.

Through it all, so much joy, encouragement and a lifelong freindship was created.

Last year Karen stepped down as the director of Teen Moms at First Glance.  The minute she told me, tears streamed down my face, and I wouldn’t let the FG staff even mention it for a solid four weeks.  It’s been almost a year since God moved Karen to a different ministry (who we partner with and still is in Kenmore).  It’s taken me this long to finally be able to write this post.  There really are no words for all that Karen has done for me and ultimately for First Glance!  So when you want to give me credit for all that has happened, know that Karen Freeman was really the catalyst of it all.  And she, of course, would say that it was ALL God.

We really have had and continue to have a front row seat at what God does.  I’m glad that Karen was sitting right beside me the whole time!