Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Members, New Building, New Body

The first post of 2013 I wrote...

"Whatever 2013 has in store for me and my family, He will remain my CONSTANT

...so far, SO true. Though I never could have anticipated what was in store. And there's still a whole lot of year left!

I am proud to announce that TEAM ECKHARDT is no longer just the two of us...

That's right...

you guessed it...  

We have DUCKS!!!

 Please welcome Charlie and Pretty Girl as the two new members of Team Eckhardt!! Woo! They are Muscovy Ducks and they have become part of the family :)

*This is around the time we first got them...taking a bath in the bathtub!! Aww! I miss this.
 *When they got bigger, they moved up to a kiddy pool! So cute!

*Now look at how much they've grown!! Crazy! This picture was actually taken a month ago or so and they are bigger now... I need to take more pics to keep up! They have started flying in the last few weeks. Here you can tell the difference in size, Charlie is the goofy looking one in the background & Pretty Girl has the pretty white in the front. This is their 'adolescent stage.' 

Pretty adventurous having ducks! The Hubster even made them a duck coop!  I'll have to show pics sometime. Charlie is a big goofball who loves to eat and follows Pretty Girl everywhere. Pretty Girl is smart and quick, though she slows down so Charlie can keep up. They love sticking close to each other & I love watching them wag their tail feathers when they find each other after not knowing where the other one was. I guess living on a farm wears off on ya! Someday soon, hopefully in the next year, we hope to add a guard/farm dog for the ducks :)  The Hubster plans on naming him Charlie, too... Ridiculous. ;)

This year has also been keeping the Hubster busy as he has been working on a building project for HIGH ROCK CHURCH. It's been a long process, but AWESOME to see God working and putting the pieces together! It's hard to believe that after 5 years the church plant will have a building! I love what our Lead pastor, Scott, says about Jesus' church being about the people and not the building. Just because we are getting a building does not mean we've "made it" as a church... we've been a church the whole time. But what an awesome tool this will be to further God's Kingdom!! 

Lots of exciting things this year! I am grateful for what God is doing and has done... However, not all of this year has been exciting. In fact, part of the reason I have been away from the blogging community has been because of my dear grandmother going to be with Jesus on February 13, 2013.  It was (is) very difficult for me. I am not even sure what to say to honor her here... I kept feeling like I couldn't possibly post again without mentioning her and giving her the honor she deserves as being my beloved grandmother. And yet, the grieving process was so overwhelming. Perhaps you can relate?  

Let me tell you a little about Carolyn Brandon... She told me about Jesus when I was really young. She wrote me letters and postcards talking about her Dear Lord and taking interest in my life. Her and grandpa would have me and my cousin, Michelle, stay with them weeks at a time in the summers. I remember camping and taking trips with them. We went to amusement parks and Niagara Falls. While at their house I would wake up early and sneak into grandma's room just to snuggle with her. I remember her always thanking the Lord for everything or asking Him for help... even if it was a parking spot close to the store. It was always evident to me that she LOVED her Savior... & I always felt absolutely loved by her. Her and grandpa moved back to be near my family when things were difficult for us. And my freshmen year of high school I moved in with them. Though the generational gap between us was hard to overcome as an adolescent, I am so grateful for those years!! Through college and early adulthood she was my prayer warrior- I felt her intercessory prayers for me. She prayed for the man I would marry someday... And she was so sure that I would make an amazing pastor's wife-- just like her-- even when I doubted.  

Grandma had a stroke the summer of 2012 and lost feeling on her entire left side. Months following she worked hard with a physical therapist to regain strength enough to hopefully return home, with grandpa. And she was regaining strength, too. Being able to swallow and sit up on her own. And even then she was teaching me about our dear Lord. When I'd visit with her in the nursing home she disclosed to me with a big smile on her face, "I think Jesus is teaching me patience. I'm not very patient..."  Oh grandma :*)

...And then she became sick and had multiple complications that left her weak and frail. The doctor said she had lost all that she had gained. Grandma felt like it was time for her to be with her Lord. I received word from my aunt Cathy the decision grandma had made. I called the Hubster crying and went to his office to be close to him. 

I remember sitting in his office, sobbing, as he just held me.  I kept praying "I'm not ready... I'm not ready to lose her." That's when I felt like Jesus gave me a picture... 

I was sitting on a log and Jesus was sitting next to me. I was crying and He was comforting me. He began to share with me about His heart for my grandmother... How much He loved her, how much she has pleased Him with her life, and how she has suffered WELL these last few months-- always giving Him praise. I felt His heart for her and His love was overwhelming. I had snapshots of her life--memories that He cherished, too... Then He looks at me, tears in His eyes, and asks me if He can take her to be with Him...

I cried even harder, feeling torn for my love for my grandmother & my love for my Savior... Not only that, I was undone by His love for me that He would ask... He didn't have to. So precious.. I told Jesus, "All I have is yours... Yes, You may take her to be with You."

I shared this picture with my aunt, who was with grandma... she shared it with her and with family. That evening, she went to be with her King Jesus.  

That night I worshiped to THIS SONG over & over... I cried & felt close to my Jesus-- the One my dear grandmother first told me about when I was very young.  He spoke to my heart that night and said, "I wanted to be with MY SWEETHEART on Valentine's Day."  ...which was the very next day.

I know Him. I know the Jesus that she knew. And I can't help but PRAISE HIM... for He knew just how much I needed Carolyn Brandon to be my grandmother. She lived her life and her relationship with Jesus in a way that invited others to come closer and long for what she had with her Savior-- & she freely shared with all when the Spirit prompted (even the cashier!)...even a granddaughter. And oh how she prayed!! Even now, she's gone before me into glory and she teaches me about eternity, about faith, and about courage... Courage to TRUST my DEAR LORD & to finish the race set before me. This place is not my home. Death is NOT the end... 

Since then, grief has come like waves... Overwhelming at times and receding at others. Jesus has been CONSTANT through it all. It hasn't been easy. I miss her... terribly. I remember a few months ago having a dream of grandma riding a bicycle in tall grass with the sun shining behind her...and she was laughing.  I woke up smiling; I don't recall my grandmother ever riding a bicycle this side of heaven...

2 Corinthians 5:1

New Living Translation (NLT)

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fanning Into Flame

Now that Christmas is over it is time to take down the Christmas decor... & BURN THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!  You'd do the same thing if you lived on a farm.  Our friends, David & Kathy, came out to watch!!

Here's some pics from the event...
 This is the Hubster stuffing the tree with leftover wrapping paper and spraying it with lighter fluid...

This is the Hubster lighting the tree on fire...

This is moments later of the Hubster jumping out of the way of the flame (of course I was yelling at him to get out of the way... he doesn't seem as concerned as I was that he almost caught on fire)...

This is the Hubster adding more flame to the fire...  

This is the fire in full glory... speechless.

Our friend, David, was mesmerized...

The Hubster & David. This is SO CRAZY!!! The fire only lasted about 5minutes or so... if that!

Here's my girl, Kathy, & I with the remainder of our glorious Christmas tree in the background!  Pics of tree with flash and without flash below...

In other news, I have started reading this book that has really stirred up a hunger for more of God's presence and work in my life.  I got the pic for the book on Amazon.

If you have not heard of Reinhard Bonnke, then you need to check him out.  I first heard of this evangelist when I was a student at the School of Ministry in Toronto.  Then I had the opportunity to hear him speak at the 2011 Awakening Conference in Chicago when I went with my mother-in-law & sisters-in-law.  Here is a link to a portion of his talk at that conference.   Seriously, you need to listen to it.  I LOVE THIS!!!  Can I just tell you?  This book is amazing and so inspiring!  It's the autobiography of his life and his encounters of the Holy Spirit from an early age. It's brought sweet memories of when I first encountered the Holy Spirit when I was young, and how I have never been the same. It His Spirit in me that resonates, "Abba, Father." (ROMANS 8:15) I know that I am His.  

I've also recently had my testimony published in the  Revival Magazine!!  You can read my testimony here.  Rereading it fans the flame within me as well!  It stirs up just a love for our church as I remember when Jesus first started speaking to my heart about church-planting.  SO crazy to see what He has done since that time!!!

So God has been "fanning into flame" the life and Spirit within me.  Tonight, it continued as we had our church's VISION NIGHT.  Our lead pastor spoke on the "vision" for this upcoming year, something that he and the other staff pastors have been praying over.  I felt overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and such a deep love for JESUS' CHURCH... It's been a hard year. We have said good-bye to some DEAR FRIENDS... yet this is where Jesus wants us, the Hubster & I.  This is where He has placed us and has called us to serve.  I say,"Yes!" to Him... even when it hurts.  Even when it's hard to say good-bye.  All I have is Christ.  Jesus is my life.... How can I not give my life for this?? Keep fanning the flame that burns within, Lord.

In Him,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Constant Throughout Changing Seasons

I was hoping to get one last post in before the New Year...obviously that hasn't happened. Life has definitely been busy. I wish I could say that it has been busy with many fun, DIY projects, and gift making. Unfortunately, it’s mainly been packed with busyness with my new job.

To say that I have been somewhat frustrated with the long hours and weekend catch-up of paperwork would be an understatement. How do I not have this job be top priority in my life? I feel like every week I ask myself this question, do some deep introspection, and make plans for the next week to be more scheduled, to have a stricter routine, and to be more intentional with the Hubster. Every week I feel like I fail. Something falls out of balance and I am left at my Heavenly Father’s feet humbled, broken, and in need of His grace. And His grace comes.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I’ve definitely been in a season of relying on the Lord more and more. This may sound odd for we need Him always and in every season, but perhaps you can relate to certain seasons that require a little more from you. I guess that is how I would describe this season; a season requiring more faith, more grace, and more prayer. I would like to touch on this more a little later, but until then I wanted to give a little update on what’s been happening with Team Eckhardt…

Remember when I told you that the Hubster was hired on staff at our Church? Well, back in November he was ordained!! Our lead pastor, Scott, used to call him "sort of a pastor around here," but now he is officially a 'Staff Pastor' at High Rock Church. Here are some pics of the ordination.

He also just preached his first sermon this past Sunday (Dec 30th) on the importance of resolving to be 'Rooted in Christ' rather than superficial resolutions that add no merit to our lives. If you'd like to check it out the sermon is posted here. He will also be preaching this coming Sunday to follow this teaching on Resolutions.

 Another event was that I turned 28!!!  Woot, Woot!!  The Hubster made me breakfast: a smiley face made with pouched eggs, yummy oatmeal, and coffee in one of my favorite mugs.
We, also, said "Good-bye" to another small group member... Sade finished her degrees and headed back to Atlanta, GA where she is from.  She will be missed and continually loved.  Here's the group pic to send her off!  Of course, we had to get a little crazy, too.  

 And, if you hadn't noticed, we got a Christmas tree!!  This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to Team Eckhardt, it's pretty BIG!!  This is our first REAL tree we've gotten for Christmas!  Every year we intend to get one and it never happens... Until this year!  Or, I should say, until 2012 since we are into a New Year already! Crazy... Anyway, back to Christmas.  Here are some of the Christmas decor that we put up. 

 Oh yeah, we got SNOW!!! 

And here is the Hubster and I at our family's Christmas in Ohio!  We had a whirlwind of Christmases last week!  We even were able to host the Hubster's family for Christmas in our house this past weekend.  We felt very blessed to have space to accommodate everyone who came.

I made some recipes that I had used before as well a new one.  The fam all seemed satisfied and enjoyed the dishes, so I thought I would share them on here for you to maybe try, too!  

This first recipe that I am showing you comes from a Taste of Home, Light & Tasty cookbook of Annual Recipes 2008.  I had received this cookbook as a gift at my bridal shower, and I have made quite a few recipes from it~ the Hubster has loved practically every one!!  Since I've discovered Pinterest I have not gone back to this cookbook much, but I'm glad I did for this dish!  Very light and refreshing, yet filled with protein.

Santa Fe Salad

Prep/Total Time: 30min   Yield: 10 Servings

2-1/2 cups cut fresh green beans

1 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/4 cup fat-free sour cream

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2 tsp ground cummin

1/4 tsp salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 can (15oz) pinto beans, rinsed & drained

1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed & drained

1 small sweet red pepper, finely chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

1 can (4oz) chopped green chilies

1 can (2-1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

  1. Place green beans in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil; cover and cook for 3-5min. or until crisp-tender. Drain and immediately place beans in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
  2. For dressing, in a small bowl, combine the cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, cummin, salt and cayenne. In a large bowl, combine the green beans, corn, pinto beans, black beans, red pepper, onion, chilies, and olives. Add cheese and dressing; toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Nutrition facts: 3/4 cup equals 151 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated fat), 5g cholesterol, 374mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 8g protein. Diabetic Exchange: 1-1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.

This was taken directly from the cookbook stated earlier.  Now, for the way I modified this recipe for family... 

I did not use the green beans, fresh cilantro, green chilies, or the cheddar cheese.  And here is my reasoning... I actually attempted to buy canned green beans for the recipe, but when I opened the can I realized they were not "crisp" enough for the effect this recipe calls for.  I made this the morning family was coming and did not have time to go to the store to get some, so I opted out on the green beans all together.  I did not put the fresh cilantro in because the store was out of fresh cilantro when I had gone shopping earlier in the week (no joke), so I used roughly 2 tablespoons of dried cilantro to replace it.  I did not put in green chilies because I totally spaced and forgot to put them on my grocery list!  Oops!  

By the time I had added all of the other ingredients I realized that this salad tasted more like salsa without the green beans and cheddar cheese, so I added some chips to a platter and it became a bean dip/salsa!  Family LOVED it and did not even realize certain pieces of the recipe were missing.  This time improvising was on my side!!

 Here was our table "spread of goodies" to curb hunger before our Christmas dinner.

Baked Ziti

 I have used this recipe multiple times before, and we love it!!  It goes a long way and is fairly easy to make ahead of time to just pop it in the oven for dinner! 

The link to the recipe is here.

The only thing I changed in this recipe is that I used whole wheat penne for noodles, and ground turkey rather than ground beef.  It is so good, and we still have so many leftovers after serving 8 people! We also served it with fresh salad and garlic toast.

 Slow Cooker Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding

This recipe was new. I found it on Pinterest and pinned the recipe here. I tried this because I love bread pudding and slow cookers.  (And the pic to the left was before I cooked it).

There were various reviews with this recipe & I decided to use 9 slices of bread rather than 12-14 it called for. I also cooked it on low for 4 1/2 hours rather than on high for 3 or so as it calls for. This was mostly a convenient factor for me, though. I wanted it ready to eat by morning and did not want to have to get up to make it! Ha! So I turned it on late at night before going to bed, after playing fun games with the fam, and left a note for my father-in-law to turn it to warm when he got up (knowing that he was an early riser). It worked out!! He turned it to warm around 5am. However, it still seemed a little dark for me. My sister-in-law commented that she enjoyed hers with a little milk! There you go! Let me know what you think if you try it! 

 Now Christmas is over.  Family left around 1pm on New Year's Eve and we were pretty tired... We stayed home in our PJs playing games and watching old classic films (7 Wives for 7 Brothers).  And then I went to bed around 10:30pm!!  So crazy! But I was so tired..  Happy New Year everyone!

 Crazy how fast time flies.  It seems like not that long ago when we were celebrating 2012.  It was a year ago that I had decided to start a blog.  It's been quite a year of saying good-bye to some of our closest friends, graduating with my masters, Michael becoming a pastor, and so much more... Through it all, God has been MY CONSTANT.  Through years past He remains MY CONSTANT.  In fact, this is something He has been speaking to my heart recently, reminding me that He has been there through my happiest times, my darkest times, and all of the in between.  He whispers, also, that He's not going anywhere, He's made His mind up, and He's going to remain CONSTANT with me.  This brings my heart comfort in so many ways.

It also reminds me of when I first started my masters program the fall of 2010.  I was walking back to my car on campus after a night class and my heart felt uncertain.  No one really knew me in my program; they didn't know my passionate love for my Savior.  As I walked to my car and feeling alone, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart saying,

"Know who you are, Rebekah.  Other people you come in contact with may not know all that you've experienced, but you do- you carry them with you." 

I had written this in a journal from that time, and had turned back to it recently.  God has recently been showing me how He not only knows what I have experienced, but that He knows what's ahead for me as well.  I have often had a picture of Jesus in front of me, leading me down a small path in the woods, my hand in His.  Every now and then He'll look back and smile, knowing what's ahead.  I am unable, from my position following Jesus, to see what is ahead.  So I fix my eyes on Jesus.  His smile brings me peace, His hand brings me comfort. 

Whatever 2013 has in store for me and my family, He will remain my CONSTANT

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's a Process...

September has come and gone, and I had forgotten to blog about it!!  Shoot... I had been on a roll of blogging at least once a month, too!  Well, in the meantime, High Rock Church turned 4 years old, and fall has officially arrived!  Woo-hoo!!

Every year, at the beginning of September, High Rock Church throws an Anniversary Party at a park!!! This year's party was SO much fun!! They had cotton candy, face painting, sno cones, and human hamster ball races!!  Not to mention great food & fellowship with our church family!  Here are some pics from the event...

Olivia just loves this guy.. I do, too!!

The past 3 years the Hubster and I have been apart of High Rock Church have been amazing!  God has done so much in us, in High Rock, and in the Network of churches we are apart of.  It has not always been easy, but the amazing part is to look back and see all that God has done and the people He has brought into our lives because of it.  God has definitely given me a greater heart for His church and continues to call us to be apart of what He's doing here.  Michael coming on staff at High Rock Church is apart of that, but with or without that happening God would still be calling us to give our lives to this. 

I have also been wanting to share updates on progress with the list I started the beginning of this whole blogging process...

 Here's the progress on the T-shirt quilt!  I want one side to represent sports from high school and the other side to represent sports in college.  We'll see how long it'll take for me to complete it!

And now to share updates on the bathroom decor!  Earlier this year I just so happened to stop by Goodwill when they were having a 50% off sale!!  Look at all these great frames I got for super cheap! And, yes, that's right... I said earlier this year.  This has been a process!

 Anyway, spray painted frames white for a "shabby chic" feel.  I also found and spray painted some wire baskets I had from our wedding (they held wedding cards at our reception).  I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it at first, but thought it be cute! 

Here's my "shabby chic idea" for our bathroom, continued!  I took some old pillowcases, added some stitches, and placed them in a white frame for decor.

 For the big frame, I added a pink & white striped pillowcase fabric to the back of it.  I used fabric glue and a staple gun.

 Here's what the three pieces look like together.  The big one just needs one more touch...
Of course, the letter 'E' for Team Eckhardt!!  This was also part of our wedding... It was propped up on the cupcake table at our reception.  I love that I can incorporate it in our home decor!  I cut and nailed an extra back to the frame and fabric.  I took the back off of a broken frame, and it already had a hook on it!

 Pretty cute, huh!?!  I'll keep you posted on the rest of the bathroom decor and how I try to get it to all fit together.

Real quick, wanted to share a sweet surprise I found one Sunday afternoon while I was reading our back porch... HOT AIR BALLOONS!!!  Apparently there is a hot air balloon rental place that is really near our house.  This hot air balloon just happened to land in one of the fields behind our house and the rental company had to drive back there to help them get back up in the air!! How cool! Made for a pretty picture!

This post seemed a little scattered, but that seems to be our lives at the moment.  Still learning a lot with both of our jobs... God's been teaching us about priorities and time management as well.  I have not been nearly as 'crafty' and I have not been utilizing new recipes nearly as often either.  I guess we are still adjusting to a few things, but it is evident to me that I need to make sure I take care of myself and have 'outlets' that I enjoy... Perhaps that will be my motivation for this next month... Ways to take care of myself.  

In Him,