The Overflow

About a year ago, I felt a stirring in my heart. I sensed that God was suggesting something to me, nudging an idea across my path. It was subtle. Just an idea that kept resurfacing from time to time. It wasn’t overt. It didn’t slap me across the face or grip my heart with intensity. It was more a whisper of, “what if…”

I can still hear the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit planting seeds. “Beck, what if you did something that combined your theological training, your counseling background and your first-hand experiences with suffering?” I would turn it over in my mind from time to time, wondering what the Lord might be suggesting. Start a support group? Return to counseling? Help out more in the Care Ministry at my church? Nothing I tried on seemed to align with what God was bringing up. Then one afternoon God just spoke plainly to me as I was carrying a load of laundry up the stairs.

“Write. Write a book. Write a devotional. A 365-day companion for people who are suffering and walking in a season of darkness.”

I set my basket of laundry down and stood there for a moment. Of course. Of course He would suggest something crazy like this. Something I felt completely unqualified to do. Something so crazy and overwhelming it could only come from Him.

I laughed because I couldn’t help but agree with His vision. I saw a quote by Toni Morrison once that said “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” For years I tried to find a 365 day devotional that would walk me through my suffering. Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman was the closest I could find and it was written in 1925 – even the revised edition I have feels a bit antiquated. Oh how I wished I could have found a companion to walk me through my darkest days and help shape my perspective of suffering. I so desperately needed a new way of looking at my wounds.

What I was looking for didn’t seem to exist. There are 90-day devotionals for those waiting on miracles, 30-day devotionals for people suffering with depression, 50-day reflections for women going through cancer, year-long meditations on hope and a wealth of nonfiction books that offer lots of insight for those who are going through hard times. But there isn’t a book to journey with someone through the long haul of deep suffering. And there needs to be. There needs to be something for the person who is facing more than just a season of difficulty and needs to cling to Jesus for dear life. Something for the Christian that longs to hear of God’s overflowing love for them in the midst of darkness.

I’ve learned that protesting against God’s will doesn’t get you very far. It just delays the inevitable. So I consented, “Yes Lord, I’ll do it. But can you help me every step of the way? Because I will surely make a mess of this without Your guidance.” I didn’t even bother to explain that I have zero writing experience outside of this little blog. I didn’t tell him that I felt unqualified and ill-equipped for such a huge task. He already knows those things and He still asked me to do this. So I obediently surrendered my hesitation and I said yes in faith.

The first step was coming up with topics. 365 of them. Gulp.

I started with a pretty little notebook and I began to jot down ideas whenever inspiration struck. Most of the ideas were born of the overflow of inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Ideas came from every possible place and it every possible way. Sermons, the Bible, books, dreams, quotes and conversations. More than a few times the Holy Spirit would just spontaneously give me an idea on a random Tuesday afternoon. There were entire days when ideas overflowed out of me like a waterfall of divine inspiration that I could not stop.  As I sit here today, exactly 9 months later to the day, I have 365 ideas for topics.

The next step? Write. Trust that the words will come from the overflow, just like the ideas did.




House Goals

Can we talk about the housing market real quick?  It’s insane. I’ve never seen anything like it, honestly.

It’s a seller’s market in our area, there is virtually no inventory of homes so when a house goes on the market…. approximately 18,000 people all fight to buy it at the same time. It’s nuts. In fact, it’s the 2nd tightest housing market in the entire country (San Jose, CA is #1. Now you’re up on your current real estate trivia!).

I’ve been to open houses where there were no less than 30 other people in the house at the same time. Most of the houses we have seen get multiple offers (many are cash offers) within 24 hours. Almost every time we are scheduled to see a house, there are 4 other families scheduled at the same time. There are often investors lurking around, I even saw one guy who brought his general contractor with him. Half of the houses have gone under contract before we even have a chance to see it. At any given house I go to, there are typically at least 10 people in the street talking with their realtors and half of them are writing up offers on the hoods of their BMWs (ok, I might be exaggerating on that piece haha!). I feel like I should be a reality show on HGTV or something.

I’m doing my best to stay hopeful despite a difficult market and I’m trying my hardest to have a discerning eye without being a brat and demanding I have a perfect house that checks off every item on our “must have” list. It’s a fine line to walk and hopefully we will be rewarded for our persistence and hope that we can find a house suited perfectly for us.

At leat through the house-hunting process I am learning more and more about the things I like and the things I don’t like….

I’m finding myself drawn to smaller homes with larger yards. East/west facing windows that provide beautiful natural light always makes my heart happy. I like large trees, interesting floorplans, quiet streets and a little bit of character woven throughout. 

As we have looked at several houses in the area, I am learning that I feel a particular attraction towards a certain style of home…often they were built in the 1970s-1990s and have multi-levels (but not necessarily a traditional tri-level), uniquely-shaped windows, little nooks and crannies and weird kitchens that need updating. They usually have vaulted ceilings, mature landscaping and give off a vibe that the architect and builder were “experimenting” with a new concept. Sometimes the concepts fail miserably and sometimes…they’re pretty awesome.

I saw a house last week that was really cool. It needed a lot of work done so we passed on it. It went under contract 12 hours later. I’m still wondering if we should have put an offer in on it…

David and I saw another one a few days later that we both were intrigued by. It literally had 5 levels on the interior, but the exterior looked like your standard 2-story, the inside was like a maze where you kept discovering new rooms. It had 2 amazing porches on the backside of the house and a cute little tree swing. Sadly, the house had extensive structural problems from poor drainage issues which were causing the entire house to slope south 6 inches. The stairs were crooked and the walls were having upheaval problems. It was a bit too intimidating for us to undertake the kind of restoration it truly needed. Go figure, 1 day later it too went under contract.

There is a temptation to just buy the first house that we see that looks halfway decent. To just throw caution to the wind and overlook bad neighborhoods, no natural light, poor layouts, unfortunate lot placement and problematic structural issues just so we can get a foot in the door and have a place to live.

There’s a lot of temptation to just settle for good enough. And there’s a good chance we might do just that. Maybe God is preparing our hearts to live in a place we do not like. We may have more lessons to learn on being content no matter what our situation or surroundings are (Phil 4:11).

But. I think that I can hear God whispering that we should hang tight and trust Him. I hear subtle words that He may just have the perfect place picked out for us. And if we will just continue to trust His timing and direction, it will be ours. Yes, I am saying that I believe God has a home already picked out for us. Yes, I believe it is a specific place. I believe it will be a “I’ll know it when I see it” sort of thing. And I believe if we get impatient and settle, the opportunity might pass us by.

Maybe my house-hunting theology is whack. But maybe…just maybe I’m discerning those whispers of God correctly. Maybe He really will fulfill that desire in our hearts. Maybe He really does have the perfect little home picked out for us with beautiful natural light and a brick fireplace or maybe even a porch in the backyard where we can watch the sunset. Maybe there is a house out there that is perfect for us. A place that we don’t just like, but love. A place we are excited to call our home.