Friday, April 18, 2014

// Transitioning: G R A C E {& snapshots of life}

"Grace is astounding, staggering, breathtaking, spectacular, phenomenal, extraordinary, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, and all together wondrous." ~ Paul Washer

Life has been full of so much life, and joy, and peace lately. 

So many wonderful friends, deep conversations, and growing relationships. 

New surprises, new changes, and new adventures coming our way. 

& in case you missed it this week:

Have a FANTASTIC weekend!!! I'm looking forward to starting my garden and getting caught up on some thank-you notes!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Finding Joy In The Ordinary // A Guest Post

Hey y'all my name is Paige and I blog over at Moments for the Journey. I am a born and raised Southern girl currently living in Ogden, Utah with my hubby. When Beka asked me to guest post for her I was thrilled, and I am so excited to be here with all of you - her lovely readers! Find joy in the ordinary

Do you ever feel like your life is too boring - too ordinary?

I know that I have. I have the tendency to look at my life and see all of the things that aren't "just right" or super exciting. I see the unfinished kitchen in my house that has been unfinished for over 3 years. I see the constant dust on my furniture that appears two seconds after I dust. I see the old decor of my home that looks nothing like the beautiful homes on Pinterest. I see my normal daily routine of work, home, clean, and sleep. And I see the typical night at home with my husband that is boring and ordinary.

Here's the thing, if I based my joy off of the way I negatively view these ordinary aspects of my life I would be an extremely unhappy person all of the time. So instead I have chosen to find joy in the ordinary moments of my day.

Instead of thinking "Ugh I hate this kitchen. It's so ugly." every time I walk in it I find joy in the fact that the kitchen, although unfinished, looks ten times better than the disaster it was when the hubby and I bought the house. Instead of seeing my daily routine as boring, I intentionally look for moments - big and small - that make me smile. Instead of thinking that my evening in with my husband is boring, I take pleasure in just being with him.

God blesses my life in so many ways; He gives me so many ordinary moments take joy in. The older I get the more I realize that true joy does not come from things. True joy comes from God. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

God is the source of true - real - joy.

| Do you struggle with finding joy in the ordinary? |


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guess whaaat....

...Sean and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting a little Castille in October!

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. 
(Psalm 118:1-4 ESV)

Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 10 Go-To Meals

Before I got married, I would cook occasionally - but I definitely wasn't prepared for cooking and meal-planning on a regular basis for a man who requires meat at every. single. meal.

I think I've finally gotten into the swing of things though, and I find myself cooking similar things on a weekly basis but with enough variety to keep both of us content: him with his passionate love of all things meat, and my gluten-free-ness.

Here are 10 Go-To Meals for all three meals that I make over and over and OVER again - but that never get old.

1. Eggs, bacon, and biscuits. I don't usually make biscuits from scratch, (and I only do them for Sean anyway) so I buy the break-apart ones you just pop in the oven. He likes them better than homemade, anyway. I think I need some Southern ladies to teach me how to make them ;)

2. Grilled chicken salad. I serve this either with honey mustard or ranch, but it's still something I enjoy more than my husband. Ha.

3. Chili. I am actually quite proud of this one. I've mastered my recipe and can make a huge pot in under 15 minutes. It's an adapted recipe from The Pioneer Woman, and I'll post a recipe on the blog soon! Chili freezes and reheats really well, and tastes the best after simmering in the crock-pot all day.

4. Grilled chicken, potatoes, and veggies. I usually make this at least once a week (or some variation of it). The chicken we grill with either Italian dressing or Pampered Chef's Greek Rub, and then I just steam some veggies and fry a couple potatoes with some olive oil in a skillet with salt, pepper, and basil.

5. Burgers & fries. Sean loves meals like these - and I'm a fan myself ;) We grill up burgers with all the fixings, and bake some crinkle cut fries. It's so much better for you than fast food, especially when I can make mine with GF bread!

6. Chicken Barley Soup. I posted the recipe to this super easy and flavorful soup here. This is another one that comes together quickly, is satisfying, and reheats well. I'll often buy a whole roaster chicken, roast it one day and use the leftovers for this soup with homemade bone broth.

7. Country Style Ribs. We often find good deals on pork at places like Aldi and while we don't eat it all the time, we probably have pork about once a month for some variety.

8. Spaghetti & Meat Sauce. I like to make my own sauce with beef from his family's cows and fresh/canned tomatoes. Then I buy GF pasta which, when covered in sauce and Parmesan, is pretty fantastic.

9. Pancakes. Um. Because pancakes.

10. Chicken & Rice. I make this so many ways...with cheese and beans, or healthier with snow peas and carrots.

What are some of your go-to meals? What recipes do you come back to over and over again? I'd love to hear them! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

why my mom is awesome

Because care packages from Massachusetts: loose leaf tea, and chocolate, and yoga pants, and gummy bears, and a new coffee scoop, and Disney-themed magnets, and new birthday sandals.

& two hour hilarious conversations that take up my whole morning (but that's okay) and random interruptions to stop some sort of chaos in the background like "take that bucket off her head!" and "is Gracie in the closet!?"


Friday, April 11, 2014

//transitioning: a playlist

So, I kind of dropped the ball on this whole Transitioning series, but I'M BACK and have a plan. And hey, Spring is still here for a little longer, so I'd say all is well.

The weather has been bizarre...snow one week to 80-degree days back-to-back-to-back the next. Work has been busy at the greenhouse, which has been a real blast. I'm learning all about vegetable plants and organic fertilizers and different kinds of flowers like clematis and lobelia and alyssum and plants like phlox and hostas and a shrub called a Yuca that supposedly tastes like a potato.

Quite fun.

I've planted some herbs (even a Stevia plant!! ahhh!! so cool!!) and am in the process of building raised beds in my backyard, and am looking forward to experimenting with seeds and vegetable plants! Gardening in the South is going to be a different experience compared to up in chillier New England, for sure.

Anyway, with all this sunny weather and waking up to the birds (including a rooster) every morning, it has me in such a good mood! I feel so energized and productive.

I love music, and I love how certain tunes sound BETTER during certain times of the year. So, I've created a Spring playlist for you & for me! Hopefully these songs will put you in the mood to go enjoy some sunshine!

Spring Music by Beka LeTourneau on Grooveshark

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blogger Confessions

1. When did you first start blogging and why?
I started blogging the spring I turned sixteen. I had always loved to write, and kept journals faithfully my life until I started blogging more regularly. Why I Blog: to blow off steam, share any valuable information others might appreciate, and now I do it to connect with others back home, to network with other like-minded women, to grow as an author and site-builder, and to encourage those who are on a similar journey as I am.

2. Have you had any past online presence?
Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Skype, AIM, etc. etc. etc. Now I'm mostly just on (shameless plugs) Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

3. When did you become serious about your blog?
Around November of this past year. I got married in August and moved to a new state with a new husband and a new family and a new church and a new job and I felt like for the first time in my life, I had something to write about. I spent about a month tweaking my site, and as the months go by I'm learning more and more!

4. What was your first blog post?
"God is infinitely amazing" I wrote exactly three years ago after some random youth conference I went to in Plymouth. I was feeling especially inspired when I wrote that, although looking back, it was a very typical youth-conference that probably got a lot of emotional teenagers fueled up with nothing to show for it. But anyway, you live and learn. My 2nd & much more Beka-like post was this one: "Another Awkward Conversation About Beka's Love Life With Her Extended Family."

5. What have been your biggest challenges blogging?
1st, finding the discipline to sit down and write something to completion. I have many half-written posts waiting to be finished. I love to write, I hate to edit.

2nd, realizing that even though it's MY blog, I'm really not writing for myself. I can't say everything I'd like, I can't complain about certain aspects of my life, I can't be as open as I'd like - because I have to realize that I have real-life readers that I know in real-life and while I can't please everyone, I'd like to use my words for good and not for evil.

3rd, trying to stay consistent and borrow the cliche, "true to myself." Some recent blogging goals of mine is to avoid sounding like every other blogger out there and remain unique and genuine.

6. What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Receiving thoughtful comments and emails from both regular readers and strangers who were encouraged in very specific ways because of my words. Nothing humbles me more than when people are blessed because of those times I'm brave enough to be honest on here. And while followers aren't everything, gaining new readers is always very rewarding.

7. What is the most discouraging thing about blogging?
Falling behind in my writing even though my brain is brimming with ideas, watching views plummet after a blogging absence, and receiving rude, anonymous comments.

8. What is your blogging dirty secret?
I write in spurts. I'll go a week without typing a word, and then I'll plan out ten day's worth of posts in one afternoon. Some people tell you to write even if you have writer's block - the words will come to you. For me, if I'm not inspired, I'm not going to force myself to write. I wait until I can't hold it in anymore and I write and write for an entire day.

9. What is your current goal as a blogger?
To schedule at least one post for every one I publish.

10. Have you learned to become passionate about anything through blogging that caught you by surprise?
Absolutely yes! I have become more passionate about EVERYTHING the more I blog and read other blogs. When I write frequently, I am pushed to look for inspiration in every day life more than I would if I wasn't recording my days and thoughts on a regular basis. I want to photograph more beauty, cook more delicious foods, and think sharper - all because of what blogging consistently has trained me to do.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Caring For Curly Hair

My hair has been a mane of curls since I was long enough to put in a barrette. I went through the awkward parting-hair-down-the-middle, brushing-the-life-out-of-it, pulled-into-a-ponytail stage during middle school, until I read a magical little book called Curly Girl  around age 13 that changed everything about how I cared for my hair.

I've since adapted my curly-hair routine to what it is today, and thought it would be fun to share it with all of you girls with curly hair as well. I'd love to hear any tips you ladies have for caring for your curly hair!

1. Avoid shampoo (if not nix it completely!) Before you say "ewwwwwwwwwww", I haven't shampooed in six years and my hair & scalp is actually very healthy. I never have problems with greasy hair, and only occasionally suffer from dandruff as a result of too much product build-up. Even "natural" shampoos are full of sulfates and chemicals that strip curly hair of its natural oils. Instead of shampoos, use a baking soda rinse every few days. You can learn more about this by doing a quick Google search.

2. Don't rinse your conditioner. If you can't bear to do that, at least use a leave-in conditioner afterward. If you're not rinsing, run it right through your curls from mid-shaft to end, detangling as you go along. Leave it in and don't rinse. This hydrates curly hair that is already prone to being too dry.

3. Use hair products! Taking a few minutes after your shower to style curly hair usually means the difference between flat/frizzy or styled and fabulous. I will usually use coconut oil or hair gel, and haven't found which works the best yet. Coconut oil adds extra moisture but has the potential to make your hair greasy, so only use an itty-bitty amount. It styles well and is lighter than hair gel. If I'm using gel, I use about a half-dollar sized dallop and scrunch it through my hair. I often finish with hair spray. You could also use a pomade, mousse, or spray gel.

4. Don't brush your hair. I haven't owned a hairbrush for years! Depending on your hair type, brushing curly hair will make you look like this:

I don't know about you, but I try to avoid the poofy-frizzy look whenever possible! Try detangling in the shower, and if you must - use a wide-toothed comb.

5. Make sure your hairdresser knows how to cut curly hair. I don't go to a hairdresser at all, & this is partly because I don't want to pay someone to do it for me, but I also don't trust anyone to do it right! Curly hair cannot be cut as if it was straight, and should never be trimmed while wet. Cutting your hair incorrectly runs the risk of you ending up with a pyramid on top of your head. I like my hair long, so to trimming the dead ends only takes 15 minutes or so. I grab locks one at a time...

and cut just the dead ends off...

6. Bobby pins are your best friend. You learn to hide them in your mess of hair, because there will almost always be wisps that are threatening to pop out of your head in the most unflattering way. (Oh, and you'll always find lost ones in the shower days later!)

7. The weather affects EVERYTHING. If it's rainy and cool, I will most likely have a fantastic hair day. If it's warm or humid, I should probably wear a hat. Cold winter weather usually requires blow-drying instead of drip drying.

8. Don't touch your hair. Your hands have oils that, when transferred to your hair, make it frizzy or cause it to lose its curl. I love it when Sean touches my hair, but wince if it's a good hair day and he's playing with a handful during church! ;) As hard as it may be, try to keep your hands off - especially when your curls are drying!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

You Need To Publish That Blog Post

This is from Jon Acuff (who is tied for first for best blogger ever). It really encouraged me in MY blogging, and maybe it will for you too.

1 reason you need to publish that blog.

If you’re a blogger, you’ve had plenty of “almost published” posts.

These are ideas you thought about sharing but didn’t. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was laziness, maybe it was the simple fact that you are busy.

So the post goes unpublished, but here’s one reason we need it.

If you’ve blogged for a little while, at some point, someone told you “That post was for me.”

The funny thing is, you didn’t know. You had no idea that someone you’ve never met, in a city you’ve never been to was going to need that. You had no idea you weren’t publishing a post, you were firing a flare into the dark night of the Internet to let someone else know they aren’t alone. Or crazy or the only one that finds something funny or confusing or a million other things.

Why do you need to publish that blog?

Because it wasn’t meant for you.

It was meant for someone else.

And we need it.

- See more at:

Monday, April 7, 2014

That Day I Ran Over A Squirrel

& then drove my car into a ditch. and then hit a turkey on the interstate.

Okay, let me back up.

It was Friday, Sean went to work, and I had the day gloriously free to myself. I started the morning with a video call with two dear friends I worked with at Camp Cedarbrook nearly two years ago. They're both at college, I'm in the country in the middle of hick-ville Tennessee. One of them is an engaged nurse, the other is a music/Bible major, and...I'm still in Tennessee ;) We're all really different in terms of interests and even some doctrinal things, but we've always made a point to catch up every few months and I might even get to see them this June!

After our chat and lots of laughter, we said farewell. I got dressed and headed out around noon to spend the afternoon with a friend in Franklin. I pulled out of our long driveway, and as I turned the corner I saw the familiar sight of a squirrel running for its life. So I kept driving. And I ran over it....and I still kept driving.

Why are there so many suicidal squirrels out there? Sean was actually quite jealous when I told him - he's been trying to hit a squirrel for months.

Not even thirty seconds later, I'm driving down our slippery, windy road and somehow lost control of the wheel for a second and the entire car jerked to the other lane. I remembered everything they taught me in drivers ed (ha) and took my feet off the gas & break, keeping my hands firmly on the wheel. I tried to straighten the car out and slow down, but then the car did a full 360 and I ended up in a ditch on the right side - facing the opposite direction I was before! I spilled coffee all over me and I think a spoon hit my face from somewhere, but besides that - I was fine and so was my car. It still scared the life outta me.

THEN. IT WASN'T OVER. I got on the interstate and all of a sudden a FREAKING TURKEY starts strutting across the road, right in my lane. And so I hit that too.

The dumb bird just hit the corner of my bumper, only to keep strutting across the road. Pfff.

Needless to say, I was a wreck of nerves at this point. But I made it all the way to Franklin without any other major incidents. My time there was a lovely mix of chatting, exploring a little sandwich & dessert shop, strolling through the historic town, and getting to snuggle my friend's precious baby girl (I want one!)

I drove to Martin's next to pick up Sean from work, where we then drove into Nashville to celebrate our friend Daniel's college graduation with a bunch of our co-workers. Have I ever told y'all how AWESOME our co-workers are? It's such a blessing to have friends that we get to see on a regular basis, and most of them being so like-minded as well.

We went to an indoor trampoline place. 'Nuff said.

I didn't jump (i know, i'm lame), so instead I brainstormed some blogging prompts:

But I did get to get a picture with everyone else!

Including that kid in the back, photo-bombing us:

After everyone burned off thousands of calories, we went to a late dinner of authentic Columbian food in this hole-of-a-wall place in the city where they played old 80s music. We didn't get home until 12:30 that night, only to work again the next morning.

All in was a pretty fantastic day.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Surprise Visit

My birthday was earlier in March, and my wonderful fantastic husband surprised me with someone so super dear to me - my best friend Katie!

I have been adjusting fairly well to life down here in Tennessee since we got married nearly eight months ago, but I still long for the familiar once in awhile. As fantastic as everyone and everything has been to me down here, it is so refreshing to talk to someone who has known me for years and has been there for so much. I pray in the next several years the friends here in the South will be that kind of close - but for the moment, Katie was exactly what I needed.

In all the excitement, we barely got any pictures together.
This one is from a few days before my wedding in August.
I met Katie a little over two years ago at a gathering of CollegePlus! students in California. Two years doesn't seem like much, but when you're as young as I am [;-)] two years can shape and grow you tremendously. She lives in Nebraska, so I haven't seen her much, but we've had our share of three-hour-phone calls and hilarious text conversations. She was the first to know when Sean and I became official, she was there the weekend we got engaged, she was the Maid of Honor in our wedding, and I've been there for many milestones of hers as well. She's someone I'll look back and consider a childhood friend.

The day before my birthday, on a rainy Sunday in Nashville on our way to church with some friends, we stopped at the airport to pick up who I thought was the cousin of one of the guys with us. 
Katie walks out instead. The end. Sean forever wins :D

While she was here we went to Winterjam, ate Krispy Kreme, sang Frozen, watched The Office reruns, laughed till we cried, went antiquing, talked about marriage, among other things.  It was all so wonderful!

Oh and Sean, if I haven't told you lately, you're a keeper ;)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Was Never Content Being Single

I'm just going to come out and say it:

I was never content with being single.

Now, let me explain before you jump to conclusions. I think you can be "discontent" with something without being anxious. You can be discontent with the state of our government, but I believe it only becomes sinful once you start worrying or fretting about what decision the President is going to make next.

When I was single, I was content knowing that God knew all the days ordained for me before one of them came to be (Psalm 119), and I wasn’t anxious in my singleness. I had plenty to do and so much to learn. I was joyful.

But I wanted to be married. And I wasn't ready to apologize for that.

People in the church so often speak of singleness as if it’s next to Godliness. Or that by longing for marriage while you’re single you’re somehow communicating to God that He isn’t enough for you.

And then, *bam*, suddenly, once you’re content, God will reward you with a spouse! Good job! You suppressed your God-given desires and proved to Him that you didn’t need anyone in your life, so now the Lord will give you what you wanted.

I’ve read all the books. I’ve heard all the talks. I’ve heard Christians talk about singleness in this way, and I believe it’s wrong.

If you’re a woman who loves Jesus and wants to be married and have a husband and babies and be a wife and a mother, or if you're a man who desires a wife and a family to lead and love – why is it wrong to prepare for or even LONG for that? If you're burning with passion (1 Cor. 7) as Paul so appropriately puts it, is it somehow less Godly to long for a spouse?

It almost seems absurd to say that insisting on contentment in a prolonged state of singleness is a virtue.

I do understand the sovereignty of the Lord over our lives, and prolonged singleness IS the life of many, whether or not they want it...but...

God gives us what we need in season. Everything that is given to us or allowed to happen to us is for our sanctification and altogether for His glory. Whether this be singleness for longer than expected, or marriage when the world is telling you to wait. (1 Thess. 4:3, Rom. 11:36, Col. 1:16)

This is what I've come to realize over the last couple of years: the Lord has you where you are because He is most glorified in your current season of life than where YOU think you ought to be.

So if you're single, don't think that God is punishing you. Don't think it's because you're not qualified enough yet. Don't think that God has forgotten about you. And don't ever, ever think that you have to stifle your desire for the beauty of marriage. Because longing for that which is Biblical it isn't sinful.

Half the time...I don't even know WHY God has me here. Because really, I'm really not that "qualified" for marriage. I'm overly-emotional. I miss spots when I’m cleaning the bathroom. I’m not the greatest driver. I often laugh at inappropriate times and still chicken out when I have to call to make a doctor’s appointment. I don’t have any great skills and I ramble a lot when I talk.

But you know what? God, in His divine sovereignty, knew that marriage for me at the tender age of eighteen was going to be more sanctifying for me than if I was still single. My Heavenly Father is more glorified through my life as a married woman than if I was single. This is evidenced right now in His perfect plan of marriage for me.

I will leave you with this: never stop living a life of thankfulness to Him. Whether single or married, lonely or living with an abundance of relationships, God is sanctifying you as His workmanship, and for His very special purposes. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Some Blogging Goals

Yikes! Over two whole weeks and not a single post! I really don't know what happened, OR where the time went! It's funny, after being away from writing regularly, I actually forget how much I love blogging and sitting down to write this post has taken me literally, all day. Not quite sure where to begin.

I guess this absence of writing and time spent instead just scrolling through my Bloglovin' stream has me questioning a lot of how (& why) I do things around here.

What do I want for this blog of mine? Am I blogging for other bloggers? Am I blogging only for money? Am I blogging for myself? Am I blogging for all those other people I hope and pray are reading what my efforts have produced?

I browse a lot of different blogs, and I've noticed the same string of giveaways and sponsor spotlights and marketing and link parties and all of that clutter takes up at least 25% of the content I'm reading.
& I'm not sure if I want to follow along with what's considered "popular" in the blogging world.

I absolutely love doing this, but the moment I start sounding like an infomercial or ike I'm transforming myself into a "blogger" who writes about "blogger things" instead of Beka Who Writes About Beka Things - I need to step back & reconsider why I'm spending so much time on here.

So, while I figure that out and work on creating more content, I'm going to quit worrying so much about blogging X amount of times a week and looking and sounding like everyone else.

This means 5 things:

1. I'm going to focus more on being real. I'm going to include more "random thoughts" posts, more brain dumps, more writing on life, and more quirky Beka humor. I'm going to try and be more transparent.

2. I'm going to focus more on being mature. This means writing what I know as I grow, but not forcing myself to sound like some wise sage with something constantly to teach. I'm barely an adult myself, I can only write what I know from what I've learned myself & what wisdom the Lord has taught me.

3. I'm going to focus on content and being more readable. In other words, WRITING WRITING WRITING. I'm going to be doing less networking, less link-ups, less questionnaires, less emailing about ad-space - and more writing. I need to grow in this area and give people a reason to come back to my blog.

4. I am still open to the idea of guest posts. Whether that means a swap of some sort, having my work featured on your site, or yours on mine. I think this is a really fun way to grow as a blogger and write for an audience other than your own.

5. I'm still open to swapping ads on my sidebar. They will be there for an indefinite amount of time (until someday I ad paid sponsorships) and I don't have plans to promote my sponsors, at the moment. Someday, but like I said - for now, I'd like to work on my own content & the sidebar ads are at least a little promotion for you & your work.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, and even with a super busy next few months (visitors, weddings, Spring season @ Martin's), I have some plans for content and I'm excited to start.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A $130 J.Crew Giveaway!

Hey everyone!!! I always thought it would be fun to host a giveaway - so I'm co-hosting one with Lauren of The Albrecht's Blog for a giftcard to J.Crew! You don't have to follow every single blogger in order to be entered - but when you do you receive more entries PLUS you get to meet some awesome other ladies! So what are you waiting for? It's worth a shot! So go say hello, and thanks a bunch!

Now go for it! And thank you, thank you, thank you. May the odds be ever in your favor.

This giveaway is open for one week, starting today!

*This giveaway is only open to entrants in the United States

Friday, March 14, 2014

//transitioning into spring

Is it Spring for you yet? I think my family up in Massachusetts is still shoveling snow, but we've had weather in the 60s and 70s for a couple weeks now here in Tennessee!

I'm still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing, and the whole scheduling ahead thing, and the whole creating-fun-content-that-people-will-actually-want-to-read thing, and the trying-to-be-consistently-creative thing. And I would say that I'm a generally creative person, but sometimes I come to a wall in my writing and don't know where to go next.

In an effort to remain consistent and creative, I've decided to do a little blog series on springtime and all the fun things that go along with it. Over the next several weeks I'll be sharing a spring playlist, some recipes, updates on Martin's and my garden this year, and maybe an outfit or two I snagged for free from thredUP.

So stay tuned!

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