God Thoughts

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.”

Thirty things I learned in my 30’s

I love New Years, not because of parties as much as the idea of a new start!  A new year!  This is how I have felt about turning 40, which happened last Friday. Instead of being annoyed that I’m “getting old,” I really do just feel like its an opportunity for a new decade!  As many of you know I’m intentional and a planner, so turning 40 was no different.  I wrote this at 38 in preparation for this day.  One of my friends keeps teasing me that she’s never known anyone to plan for a birthday like me.  Again, it’s nothing about parties or birthday plans as much as being intentional, being focused and on mission for who God has created me to be.

If I’m honest my 30’s was for sure my hardest decade so far. So part of my desire for my 40’s is to get out of it.  I also will admit that I have learned THE MOST in my 30’s than any other decade.

So in honor of turning 40, here are 30 things I learned  in my 30’s…

In relationship with God

  1. The absolute best thing I have grasped onto and KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true, is that God really does satisfy… more than food, alcohol, relationships, work, ministry, vacations, money, etc.  God really does satisfy ALL our needs if we go to Him in relationship.
  2. I’ve been reminded again recently that we REALLY can’t earn our own salvation!  I know this is biblical, and I’ve been hearing it since I was young. However even in my attempts to hit 40 well… I learned scripture, read, fasted, prayed, started new ministries, told people about Jesus, etc., God has had to show me over and over it’s what I DO!  I still fall short.  My flesh still takes over some days.  I still need a Savior, because I can’t DO enough good things, even Spiritual things.
  3. Scripture is LIFE GIVING.  Just read it or listen to it. It has power!
  4. God is a God that we bow down to at the throne AND climb up on His lap because He is our father!
  5. We can learn new spiritual disciplines.  I don’t know why, but this was an amazing new revelation for me.  I didn’t used to love prayer, but about 7 years ago learned to love it and would now call myself a prayer warrior. The same thing happened with scripture memory.  If we desire a spiritual gift/discipline and move toward it, God will help us grow in that discipline.
  6. Prayer rooms are THE BEST!  There’s something about a space where the only thing you do there is interact with the Creator of the Universe. 99C9E57D-7B51-49F1-A192-38ABB1E90329
  7. Christians still sin. Somehow we have too often talked about Sin as though we did that “before we were saved” but never talk about continuing to struggle with sin and temptation. I remember just last year someone saying, “You don’t sin. You’re Noelle Beck.” I was so shocked and confused by this statement. I do absolutely still sin! It’s why we STILL need Jesus! And I am amazingly grateful for his continual grace!
  8. We are free!!! Jesus really has set us free, and we don’t have to be bound by guilt, shame, unforgivenss or decisions of the past. Jesus really did pay the price, we are FREE!  (Galatians 5:1)2241F878-019D-42F9-A702-1CDD3F4CE56D
  9. Anything that drives us more than God is an idol. My largest revelation of an idol in my life is when I realized fear was an idol. (1 John 5:21)69C6D297-B832-4D52-BA44-A5CD74841602
  10. What you put in your mind really does impact you. For most of my life I assumed this was a conservative or legalistic mindset. But in my 30’s I’ve recognized how much it helps when I’m not intentionally destructive things in my mind. The less I make the dark and sinful things the norm, the more my mind can stay present with the spirit (Romans 8:6). 63E9344E-CD8F-4D3B-9EE3-2EC020FB3D09
  11. Complete trust in God and grief/disappointment CAN co-exist.  One does not negate the other.
  12. Everything is a gift!  We really DON’T DESERVE anything from God. He owes us nothing!330CC22D-003A-4F97-BF06-11C82D3F2018

In Relationship & Leadership (several of these apply to both)

  1. Words of LIFE are so powerful!  It’s amazing how much we can encourage others by simple words of the positives we see, rather than the negatives.  I don’t know why we wait for birthdays or funerals to talk about how great a person is.  We need to say it all along the way. Even a one line text goes a long way.
  2. My friend Kara Ulmer says, “If you really love someone you, you genuinely want what’s best for them.” Although this sentence seems simple, if you pay close attention, sometimes you will see what you thought you were doing for someone else really is about you. And similarly, you notice when someone’s desire to do something for you is really about themselves.
  3. In relationships, forgiveness eventually comes.  So move toward it sooner rather than spending days in anger, hurt and resentment.
  4. Relationship over rule needs to be applied the majority of the time. Sometimes I create disciplines, especially with eating and exercise. But I try never to let the “rule” of my eating interrupt my relationship, especially when my niece asks to go for ice cream.
  5. Understand the root of the issue. When someone is interacting or responding in a particular way, work to understand the root of what is happening. It could be something they were taught, a habit, something they are unaware of, are protecting themselves from hurt, or something else. When we understand why someone is responding in a particular way, it often has little to do with us.
  6. Don’t give power to people who don’t have power. Often we give people power over us who shouldn’t have it. We allow particular people’s opinions to change our behavior, rather than doing what we know is best for us or for what God has asked us to do. In addition we elevate people to place of power or authority that also don’t have it. Lebron James often is worshiped more than Jesus, but he really is just a kid from Akron.
  7. Time is one of your most valuable assets.  Be intentional with where it goes. You can’t get it back, and sometimes we spend it in the wrong spaces.
  8. Leadership is about EMPOWERING others to live up to their potential.
  9. Learn from EVERYONE.  Don’t be the expert. Allow others to be the expert, encourage it in them and learn from them.
  10. Intentionality and vision keeps you from ending up where you didn’t mean to be.

And in my personal opinion 🙂

  1. Embrace who you are! I didn’t own who I was for many years of my life. Now I do, which is why I can share these very important insights with you.
  2. Jeeps are the best vehicles. No doors is freeing and feels like vacation! A7DA5FE4-6CB1-4EEF-B6F6-E086FC27068E
  3. Apple over PC. Every. Single. Time.
  4. Converse and glasses are the best accessories. D4AB99B7-EFFB-4361-9CCF-FCE98B164576
  5. A ruler is a necessity in your Bible for straight lines. B5D1F4DC-2B0C-43B0-B2E6-1ABE4341D873
  6. There is an app for every thing and they make you even more efficient.
  7. Coffee is only delicious frothy! ACB8E07E-3FE8-4296-94A8-A442A084F140
  8. Tim is always the cutest man in the room…especially with his recently shaved head.28945189-E4E8-4CDD-B5D3-D59E8A8C9135

I’m excited for my 40’s.  I’m excited to continue to apply all that I’ve learned to this next decade… knowing full well, I’ll have to keep learning some of those lessons.

Harvey needed skulls

After struggling with infertility and the loss of a baby you start to become aware of what you can and cannot engage when it comes to other babies.  For instance, I don’t do baby showers or kid birthday parties. I rarely go see a new mom and her baby, and I NEVER go to the hospital where Enoch was born. For the most part, these rules have served me well. But, every once in a while, I have to break them. I never want the rule to be more important than the relationship.

I break my birthday party rule with Xavier who asks every year to have his birthday at my house with a bon fire.  I’ve gone to the same hospital when Brea, our daughter, had surgery.  And when my dear friend Hannah became pregnant I knew several of my rules would have to go.

Hannah and I managed to navigate pregnancy well, she and I had a couple awkward and emotional conversations on how to love and support each other during this season.  I told her the same thing over and over, I never want her to go through what I did, so it’s never a matter of jealousy!  I was thrilled for her to get to be pregnant and become a mom.

Soon, Harvey arrived!  And I found myself needing to go see these two.  Again so excited, but also very aware that this little guy would most likely stir the grief in me.

The morning I was headed their way I realized I needed to bring Harvey something, not because he needed something else.  I know the Nitz’s are very loved and probably swimming in baby stuff.  But, I also knew that Harvey would need someone to toughen him up a bit, the boy needed some skulls!  And so I walked into Enoch’s room, which is still the way we set it up for him to come home.  I went into the dresser and grabbed a small newborn onesie that had a skull on it. This wasn’t just a random onesie with a skull, but the one I had picked out specifically for our little guy.  Not knowing if our baby was a boy or girl I went out just weeks before he was born and bought an outfit for each gender specifically for when he/she was born.  This was the onesie I needed Harvey to have.

As I roamed through his room and his clothes it was the harsh reality that it’s been 2.5 years and I’m most likely not getting pregnant again.  I’m coming to grips with the fact that we probably won’t use this room for a new born.  BUT, it also was the joy of giving this gift, this very specific onesie to my dear friend!  This friendship means so much to me! And there was nobody else I would rather have this onesie than Harvey.  Plus his parents are never going to put him in skulls.

A couple days later I received a text from Hannah with this picture.

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In the text she told me how she told him all about Enoch and myself.  Which made my heart happy, and my eyes weep, because while we were holding Enoch in the hospital we stayed up all night telling him all about our friends, including Hannah.

It always comes back to the joy and the sorrow.  The loss of Enoch continues to create sorrow in these moments, but equally, we find the joy of new babies and new life of our friends.

Don’t worry, Harvey, I’ll make sure you love skulls, jeeps, converse and mountain biking adventures… Just wait!

Summer Sabbath

Right before Akron Women on Purpose I hit a wall.  I assumed it was because of the preparation of the conference along with First Glance and life in general.  No biggy, I just needed to get through the conference.  And I did.  Then came the realization that I had 8  major events in a row that I was planning for each week following.  Ok, so I just needed to get to vacation, which I intentionally scheduled right after all of those events.   I got to vacation and realize that I needed more than a week of relaxation, and for the first time in a long time I had hit burn out.  Upon returning I engaged in more conversions that I want to admit of disappointing people in relationships.  This is when I realized I had gone too far, I was spread too thin, and I needed to retreat a little.  Essentially, I needed to fast from extra ministry opportunities and reprioritize relationships.  So that’s what I did.  I stepped back from most extra ministry roles, even one’s I was so excited about, and I pulled back on mass relationships to disturibute the little amount of emotional energy I have appropriately.

So here I am on a Summer Sabbath, trying to learn these words God keeps bringing me back to over and over in this picture.  IMG_7525

The funny part is on my last retreat day, which is a day First Glance gives each staff member once a month to spend with Jesus!  I knew I was in this season.  I knew I needed rest, so I planned to spend the whole day studying rest, and instead I was just so tired I kept sleeping.  And I sensed a gentle reminder from God to just be, to rest in him, and to stop trying to learn and earn and grow.  Oh man, the resting and being is so against my personality… but I think God is teaching me these words as part of a pruning process that will allow for more intimacy and maybe even fruit later on.  Here’s to my Summer Sabbath!