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Thursday, May 28, 2015



I swear, this is the best possible word to describe myself.

If I look at my life at any moment, at least one aspect of it is a mess.

My house is a mess, or my car is a mess, or our schedule is a mess, and even sometimes my marriage is a mess.

In our house, we love hard, we play hard, we are messy. Parenting, marriage, and friendships aren’t wrapped up in packages with shiny bows. We’re imperfect people, and with imperfection comes mess. And friends, that’s okay.

One of the mistakes I often make is pretending that I’m not messy. That I’ve got it all together, and the pieces of my life fit perfectly without any real effort on my part. This is just not true. I’m kind of a disaster, and most of the time, I’m doing everything I can to keep from self-destructing.

What I’ve learned, though, is when we pretend to be perfect, we make other people feel like they have to be perfect (which they aren’t!). What we end up with is a string of shallow relationships that are built on what we allow others to see in us, instead of who we truly are.  This is sad, friends. 

We’ve talked a lot about being authentic and transparent over the last few months. Mostly because I can’t stress it enough! You guys, we have this amazing opportunity to free ourselves and others from the idea of perfection by admitting that we aren’t perfect. By stating our struggles, sharing our mistakes, and being there for others when they confess their imperfections to us, we can build real, authentic communities.

But communities can’t be built on images. They have to be built on loving people just the way they are. The real, messy, dirty crap that comes along with you is the same junk your friend carries with her! Talk about it! Deal with it together! Share the gosh dang burden, so neither of you have to do life alone!

Y’all, I love talking about clothes, hair, Pinterest, and all kinds of superficial things. But this is isn’t the stuff of community. Community, the real kind, allows for the sharing of grief, hurt, joy, anger-- all of it. Without fear of judgement. Without fear of being disowned. With complete confidence that whatever is said will be kept in the community.

Can we do that, friends? Can we share our mess with others? Can we bear each others’ burdens? Can we build real, authentic, beautiful communities where we can be who we truly are, instead of projecting images of who we think we should be?  Man, I hope so. Because pretending is exhausting.

Readers, we are SURROUNDED by images of perfection. We can InstaTwitterBook our vacations, perfect craft projects, and special moments, and share them for the world to see, while completely ignoring the fact that the other 99% of our day totally sucked. We have to recognize that other people do this too. Social Media is just a snapshot of our friends’ lives, not the totality of them.

Life is messy and chaotic, but, it is beautiful, too.  Can’t we look back at some of the moments when we thought we were drowning and see how that crappy time brought beauty? How that season of garbage made our marriage closer. How the time the pantry was empty gave us hearts for the poor. How the months we were floundering as parents made our child see that we would not let them fall away.

Friends, having community means that through all of those things, you have someone to lean on. Someone to tell you there is beauty at the end. It might even mean you have someone who has already been there, and can help you navigate the muddy waters of your problems.

Guys, I am BEGGING you to give this authenticity thing a shot. There is so much freedom to be found in acknowledging our messes. Let’s do it for ourselves… and for each other. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Year of Yes

You guys, I’m staring at my computer screen, looking at a bunch of half-written blogs, wondering if I should finish any of them or just hit delete. Not because they’re all crap; even though some of them are. But because I don’t know if I’m ready to share all of my super deep feelings with the whole world. And all of you.

It’s been brought to my attention over the past couple of months that I’ve become a little, um, intense.  I think intense is a nice way of putting it, actually. God has completely overhauled my heart, and I am clinging to Him, desperate to never go back to where I was before now. It would be such a loss to return to the Becky I was before. Before IF, and before “The Year of Yes.” 

I think God’s been speaking to me for a long time now. I’ve felt the Holy Spirit nudge, and whisper, and sometimes even shove and scream. But I did little to nothing in response. I was too busy, or too tired, or I wasn’t willing to be inconvenienced. A lot of times, I was afraid. Afraid to fail at something, or to even introduce an idea I had. Afraid to make a suggestion—because only Bible scholars have good ideas when it comes to ministry.

Friends, when we changed location over Winter Break, I knew God was getting ready to move. He was keeping me up at night. He was putting books, songs, and blogs in my path that were changing my heart. He was preparing me for something.

He was preparing me to allow my faith to overcome my fear.  He was preparing me for “The Year of Yes.”

For a long time, I would say no to something because I felt unqualified to participate, was too shy to go somewhere alone, or I didn’t want to take time out of my schedule to help others. (Oh yeah. That’s some real talk right there.)  I’d been saying "no" for about 32.5 years, and it hadn’t been working out very well for Jesus and I.

So began “The Year Of Yes.”  It was decided between God and I that if the Holy Spirit put it on my heart, or if it involved helping others and I had time, it would be done.  It was also decided that being like Jesus was priority #1, and that it was to be done to the best of my human ability, with Him filling in all the ways I’d fall short. Which is, like, every way. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m not Jesus.

So, almost six months in, here’s how “The Year of Yes” is playing out:

I said YES to waking up early, so I can hear His voice before I hear anyone else’s.  I started doing a Bible Study through IF:Equip every weekday morning before the kids wake up. This has been huge, because I’m reading from the Word only. There’s no devotional, it’s simply a study that breaks the books of the Bible down into manageable pieces. You read, you journal, and you watch a two-minute video. It’s amazing. I recommend.  (I love devotionals, I just also think it’s cool to read verses and draw your own meaning, as well! Don’t stop reading devotionals if you love them, just make sure you’re reading the Bible too!)

I said YES to participating in a Bible Study at my church when I didn’t know a soul. I just went on in, and sat down. God placed some awesome friends in my life because of it!  If you don’t already know this, friends are pretty much the best blessing ever. You can never have enough good ones.

I said YES to facilitating the next Bible Study we have. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but God does. He’s probably grinning at all of us because our group is pretty fantastic. He also knows me, and I believe He gets a chuckle at my expense from time to time.

I said YES to introducing an Embrace Grace Ministry at our church. It’s still not a sure thing, but God helped me put my fear aside to suggest it, along with being willing to lead. Even if it doesn’t come to fruition, this was a huge growing experience, and I’d be okay with that.

I said YES to joining a Mom’s group. Y’all, I went to dinner at the homes of two ladies I’d never met. That’s NUTS for an introvert like me. But God used my “yes” to help build community and make awesome friends. One of whom lives adjacent to me, so we can yell over our fences at one another. WIN!

I said YES to being the PTA President for P’s school next year. As one of the teachers at the school reminded me last week, serving students and teachers is a ministry. Teachers are my people, and I’m pretty excited to be back in a school environment. Especially when it means getting to try and make the lives of teachers and kiddos a little easier. Teaching is hard work, in case you hadn’t heard.

Those are just some of my yeses. I’m sure there will be many more, and they’ll get more difficult as God begins to stretch my spiritual muscles. But I get to be dauntless (oh yeah, Divergent) because my Father is more powerful than any of my fears, and He is faithful in His promises. If I answer with “yes” He’ll make sure I have everything I need.
Y’all, sometimes letting that one, tiny syllable escape our lips can be so difficult. I know; I’ve been there.  But one “yes” leads to one more, and when all the yeses start to add up—that’s when the real fun begins.  

Saying “yes” to God looks different for everyone. I’d love to read your yeses in the comments below! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Boy- Halfway

Dear P,

I know you hate it when we call you P, but you know, internet safety and all. So, sorry about that. I could have gone with Snuggle Monkey, but your friends would all make fun of you, so P it is.

Nine years ago, you burst onto the scene a seven pound eleven ounce ball of fury. I fell in love with you instantly. I swear. Everything about you was handsome, and chubby, and precious. You were my boy.

Being the only girl in a house with three brothers, then marrying your dad, gave me lots of practice with boys. I thought I was going to be a pro at raising you because I knew all the intricate details of the male mind. Like, feeding them is important, and to leave them alone when they hurt themselves because injured bodies mean injured pride. I also knew to check the toilet seat, and that underwear don’t seem to have an expiration date.

But I wasn’t ready to be your mom. I had no clue.

I didn’t know that you would be such an enormous source of pride for me. That all of your accomplishments, great and small, would make my heart swell.  I didn’t know that I’d rejoice times ten, or wallow times a million, in triumph or sadness. I didn’t know that being the mom of a boy would mean I’d get a new and wonderful appreciation for the relationship your daddy has with his own mama.

But where I find the deepest sense of satisfaction is getting to witness your kind heart.

I see the respectful way you speak to the elderly, or listen when they speak to you. I see the way you play with babies in the grocery store. I hear you talk to other kids about church and Jesus.  You let our old dog, with her gross breath, lick your face because you know she loves it, and you love her.

Son, there is nothing on the earth more awesome than getting to be your mom. I get to watch you grow up a little bit every day. Not all of our moments are good, but there are so many more great ones than bad.

Today, I’m halfway done mothering you. Every day from here on out, you’re closer to pulling away from me than you are to where we began. And I’ll be honest, I’m kind of a mess.  I’m a disaster because I know how fast these first nine years have gone, and there are only nine left! Nine years before you go to college, or basic training, or on a mission trip to some far off land.
I only have nine more years to try and be the best possible example of Jesus’ grace and love. And we KNOW how bad I am at that! Nine years doesn’t seem like enough time to fit in all the things we need to accomplish. But it’s what we’ve got.

So, here’s the deal. For the next nine years, I’ll give it my best shot. I’ll try to remember to show you grace when I step on Legos, or when I’m digging Silly Putty out of your hair (that better not happen again!), or when you screw up big time.  I’ll hug you and feed you unhealthy food when your girlfriend breaks up with you. I’ll help you pick out your prom date’s corsage. I’ll make sure your dad teaches you how to change the oil, and to make your favorite bacon wrapped chicken.

Most importantly, though. I’ll show you Jesus. I’ll never be good enough at it on my own, but I’ll read you those red words, so you can hear Him for yourself. Son, you can listen to people tell you about Jesus all you want, but reading the words for yourself gives you ownership of your faith. And, before you move on to something too amazing to even imagine, I pray you own your faith. That the boy who lives in my home now grows into a man who knows who he is in Christ. If I do nothing else as your mom, I’d call that a success.  

Today, you’re going to school in your pajamas to celebrate the last few weeks of third grade. You’re putting together a new Lego set, and filming us with the video camera you’re absolutely DYING to have.  In nine years, you’ll be in a cap and gown, getting ready to launch.

 I don’t know where you’re going, or what you’ll do, but I have such faith in you. You are strong willed, with a huge capacity for love, and I know that God has something amazing planned for you, my boy.  I promise to do my best to help you follow the path God’s laid out for you. I’m so glad He put you on mine.

I’ll love you to infinity and beyond,


Monday, May 11, 2015


Every so often, God places a word or phrase on my heart, and for a time, I focus on what He wants me to do in regard to that particular word.

Earlier this year, my phrase was “Fear Not.” I’ve tried to live the past few months as fearlessly as I can, putting myself in situations that make me uncomfortable in order to build community, help others, or serve in some way. (Y’all, I went to dinner at a stranger’s house. She’s now a friend!)   

Right now, the word God is giving me is REPRESENT. (This word is literally everywhere. I started this blog last Thursday, and it showed up again in my Life Group yesterday. God isn’t playing, y’all!)

It seems like an easy enough word to understand. It means to stand in the place of another person, right?

Webster’s defines the word represent like this: to be entitled or appointed to act or speak for (someone), especially in an official capacity.

We kind of do this in our daily lives, don’t we?

As kids we represent our families. Bearing our parents’ last names, we trot out into the world, representatives of the Smiths or Johnsons. Our actions directly affect the reputation of our family.

As teenagers, we represent our schools. We play sports, or we’re on the Chess club, and we act on behalf of our schools. Our wins, losses, and sportsmanship reflect the lessons we’re learning at school.

When we’re older, we represent the companies we work for, the schools where we teach, or the branch of service we join. We’re responsible for acting on behalf of the places with which we are affiliated.

I understand all of those things on a basic level. My behavior and actions have been a reflection of my parents, schools, and the companies I worked for. I spoke and acted on behalf of them all.

Last week, God showed me something that gave me pause.

My women’s group is doing a study by Jennifer Rothschild called Missing Pieces. In the study, one of the discussion questions had to do with being a representative of Jesus. We talked for a minute about what someone representing Jesus would look like. Mostly, they would be full of love and grace. Because Jesus was!

When I left, I wasn’t happy with the answer I had given because it was glossy and generic. And when I looked at the definition of represent last night, my eyes were opened a little more. I am appointed as a representative of Christ. I need to be representing Him like it’s my job.  Loving like I’m getting paid. Meeting the needs of others like a boss. Showing grace like I’ve been doing it my whole life. I am an appointed representative of Jesus. When I speak, I speak on behalf of Jesus. When I act, my actions are a direct reflection of Him. Yikes.

When I think of the ways I’m representing Jesus, I know I can do better.  I mean, I’m a nice person. I do my best to help when I can, and be forgiving.  But I fall so, so short here. I mean we all do, but I feel like I should know better by now.  

So, what does a representative of Jesus look like? Here’s my honest answer.

Representatives of Jesus show compassion.

Representatives of Jesus see an unfortunate situation and try to empathize with the affected people. Instead of posting a hateful meme about people on welfare on Facebook, they look at the issue and try to find solutions that would help a person end their reliance on government assistance. They show compassion for parents who are raising their kids on food stamps that run out before the end of the month. Representatives of Christ help “the least of these,” they don’t regard them as “less than me.”

Representatives of Jesus recognize the hurt of others.

 Jesus heard people out. As His representatives, it’s up to us to listen when people say they’re hurting. We don’t tell the black community to “Shake it off” and get over systemic racism. We ask “How can I help?”
As an appointed representative of The Messiah, I need to be looking for hurt people, because He is the Ultimate Healer. Jesus didn’t come for the religious, he came for the wounded. It’s never our job to decide whether or not a person should be hurting. When we see hurt, it is our job acknowledge it and to help if we can.

Representatives of Jesus aren’t judgy.

You guys, this one is so easy to fall into.

We see an inappropriate outfit, or terrible behavior, and we automatically see the million ways in which we are so. much. better. than another person.  We hear about the wife who left her husband, or the guy who gets drunk every night before he comes home, or a high school girl who gets pregnant, and we decide that their sin is way worse than ours. We refuse to befriend them, or worse, we withdraw our love from friends who are obviously hurting, because we can’t be affiliated with someone who sins. I mean, I never sin, so I can’t be associate with someone who does, right?

You guys, Jesus hung out with hookers, drunks, and thieves. He loved them just as much as he loved the men and women who listened to His teaching. Did He want them to stop sinning? YES! But did He withhold His love because of who they were? NO!

Jesus says “love your enemies and pray for them.”  We tend to dislike the people who offend us. It rubs us the wrong way. But when we pray for our enemies, hearts are changed. Sometimes it’s our heart, sometimes it’s theirs. But we don’t get to wallow in our judgement of them.

He says “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” “Remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the splinter from your brother’s.” Your sin isn’t any better or worse than someone else’s. We all do it, so we don’t get to decide who is less holy. God does, though. And doesn’t that lighten our load? We get to let God judge others, while we simply get to love them. WIN!!!

Representatives of Jesus show kindness when they disagree.

As Christians, obviously some things aren’t cool with us. And that’s okay!

What isn’t okay? Being hateful.

We can be a passionate bunch. I’m with you on that. But who ever won anybody for Jesus by telling someone all the ways they’re going wrong?

What if, instead of standing outside clinics with posters of aborted fetuses, we, as a church show love to pregnant women in difficult circumstances? What if we LOVINGLY help them with other options, or encourage them if they decide to keep their babies. What if—and you may need to unclutch your pearls here—What if we love that baby just as much after it’s born as we did before it ever took a breath? 

What if we step up and talk about what we’re FOR instead of what we’re against?

Representatives of Jesus serve.

Jesus tells us to serve others. This is pretty basic. Serve wherever you are. Don’t expect others to accommodate you—show up to serve! Ask what you can do. If you see a need, meet it. Don’t wait for someone else. Just serve!

Also, don’t think that you aren’t good enough to serve somewhere. If God shows you a need, He probably wants you to try and meet it.  And the flip side: Don’t ever think you’re above serving. We’re all servants, here.

Even more humbling: Serving those society would typically consider unworthy.

Representatives of Jesus love without conditions.

You guys, this is so hard, but so key.

Jesus doesn’t have conditions for His love. If he did, he’d have avoided the cross because we’re all undeserving of His sacrifice. But He loves us so much that He put himself up there and let God turn away from Him.

As representatives of Jesus, He puts that kind of love inside us. It’s our job to give it to other people. And not just people we deem loveable. ALL PEOPLE.

The past month or so, I’ve been more aware than ever that I’m a representative of Jesus Christ. He has appointed me to act and speak on his behalf. When people are speaking to me, they should be able to see a little bit of Him.  What am I showing them about who Jesus is? Am I showing them His love and kindness? Am I meeting their needs the way He wants me to?

Thinking of representing Jesus instead of myself, my family, or my job, changes my perspective. When Jesus flows through me, others get to see Him. Someone who may have never met Him have the opportunity to feel His love, kindness, and grace.  What if I decide to just be Becky? Does the Bible say “Becky’s grace is sufficient?” Um. NO. That’s why being Christ’s representative is so vital in helping others know who He is.

Dear Lord, please help me to remember that I am appointed to speak and act on your behalf—that my actions and words can either lead people to you, or to run far from you. Thank you for never running from me, and for your unconditional grace and love.

 This was one of my first little nudges. 
April 20, 2015

What would you add to my list? What are some other ways we can be representatives of Jesus? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments section below!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

My Babies


Dear, Sweet Friends.

This week, I cry for Baltimore.  For the family of Freddie Gray, who lost their son, and who are waiting on details of his death. I cry for the business owners, whose livelihoods have been compromised, for the peaceful protestors, who are attempting to create change in a country where the status quo goes unchallenged, and for the rioters who seem to feel there is no other way.

Readers, six months ago, I was like most of white America—in disbelief that people would be rioting when Michael Brown was shot by police. I saw the video of him in the convenience store, and believed that he was probably killed in self-defense. I believed that if he had “behaved,” then he would most likely still be alive.  

Then the killing of Tamir Rice happened in Ohio.  A little boy, playing with what looked like a real gun, was shot by police officers within seconds of their arrival on the scene.  Now, my original thought was “you don’t play with a real-looking gun and expect to be treated carefully.” but there was something I couldn’t shake about that. Tamir Rice was a little boy, who when confronted by the police, reached for a toy—probably to show them it was a toy—and was killed.  He was a little boy. Not a grown “thug.” Not a violent offender. A little boy.

 Tamir Rice’s killing was a game changer.  

You see, friends. I don’t have a close relationship with an adult, black male. I have a couple of friendships with black women, who I laugh with and foster relationships with because we’ve hit it off. Outside of those friendships, most of my daily interactions are with white people. (I want to change this.)

But readers, I know and love quite a few black chidren.

We sat opposite one another on our first day of school. They were wide-eyed, eager to learn; wondering who I was, and if I was nervous, too.  They wanted to know things about me, and I wanted to learn about them. They gave shy smiles, and frequent hugs. They were great artists and good at math.

When you’re a teacher, you begin calling your students “my kids” within the first few weeks of school. Not long after that, they become “my babies.” And, by the end of the year, “my babies” were MY BABIES. My Babies, meaning I would have laid my life down for them, brought them into my home if needed, fed them until they were eighteen, and then paid for them to go to college. I absolutely love every single student I’ve ever had the distinct pleasure to teach. Every. One. Even the most difficult of cases.

Over 50% of the students I’ve had the privilege to teach are black. A lot of them are boys.  Those boys are not much younger than Tamir Rice, and less than ten years behind Michael Brown. They will grow up to be black men like Freddie Gray and Walter Scott.

Those are My Babies. I’ve invested my love, time, talent, and even my money into helping them succeed. I told them they could be doctors, astronauts, and the President. We worked together—learning to read, multiply, and name the planets in order. I cried with them when they said “Mrs. Yurisich, you don’t know my pain.” I have hugged necks, kissed the tops of heads, ruffled curly hair, and cried a lot of tears for My Babies. Their parents and I have worked together to make sure they are academically prepared to go out and be amazing.  So you can imagine how disheartening it is to see what our society expects them to grow into. I literally can’t imagine the fears of their parents, who daily live with the knowledge that society expects their children to be a statistic.

How are we supposed to teach black boys to feel like they’re important, when all society has to say to them is “If you want to matter, pull up your pants, speak correctly, and act meekly.”

How are we supposed to teach them to trust, when anytime they walk down the street, they’re considered suspicious?

And, most importantly, how do we prove to them that their voices matter, when the majority of America refuses to acknowledge the struggle the black community faces in regard to equality?

I know exactly zero answers, to the questions above. But I hold fast to the Truth. The Truth that My God will never leave them or forsake them. That He has a beautiful plan to “prosper and not harm” them. “Plans for a hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

My Babies and I know racism didn’t end with the Civil Rights Era. They experience its effects. We know even though Ruby Bridges walked through the halls of William Frantz Public School, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched to Selma, that the door is still only half-open to them.  As they grow, I hope we push against the door and open it wider and wider, until they’re free to walk through it the same way their crazy teacher and her white friends have been doing since birth.

The first step in helping My Babies walk into a brighter future is for us to listen. We need to listen to the needs of the black community. We don’t need to offer suggestions, or attempt to brush off the fact that systemic racism is alive and well. We need to listen to the concerns and acknowledge the pain others feel. When we say “I see that you’ve been hurt. What can I do?” instead of “Oh, it wasn’t that bad. Get over it.” we open ourselves up to be a part of the solution by hearing each other out. But we have to focus on being Listeners. Not Fixers, Suggestors, or Opinion-Offerers. Just Listeners.

I don’t know what it’s like to be black. I can’t say that I’ll ever fully comprehend what it is like to live outside the bubble of my white-ness. But I can tell you one thing. I want this world to be a better place for My Babies. I want all of them, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, or a combination of those, to feel heard, empowered, and important. They’re My Babies. I love them. And I can’t be silent when I know there is more to be done.

“We lay down our safe, comfortable homogenous ghettos, and in You will be strong and courageous to warrior for diversity, for racial harmony, for Kindgom community, because our God is not American, but our God is African, and Jamaican and Dominican and about Global Kingdom of God.”

-Ann Voskamp #pray703