Monthly Archives: August 2014

Robin Williams & (Not so) Helpful Advice

I found out about the death of Robin Williams just moments after writing and posting “Look Up“, a commentary on my own struggle with depression and anxiety.  The timing was uncanny.  A couple days later, in one of the ABC News reports about Robin’s death, they quoted a tweet from his daughter, Zelda Williams:

“I love you.  I miss you.  I’ll try to keep looking up.”

Gave me chills.  “Looking up.”  How do we keep looking up when life drags our eyes to dirt?

I was on Brian Craig‘s Facebook wall a couple days after Robin Williams’ death.  Brian had taken a picture of Joshua that he graciously allowed me to use for my “Joshua the Prophet” post.  On Brian’s wall, I found the “Helpful Advice” picture that I’ve included below.  Thanks to Brian’s friend for posting this.  Powerful message, but obviously not helpful advice.  Here are some things that I have found to be helpful over the years.  I hope you find them helpful too:

1) Find good news.  I don’t watch the news and that’s why I didn’t hear about Robin Williams’ death until the afternoon of August 12th.  I learned about it from a Twitter digest email, which also included some good news of the birth of rare panda triplets.  I’ve always said I’m not watching the news until I find the “good news channel”.  The kids and I started listening to Smile FM this summer.  The first time we heard one of their news reports, Joshua said, “Mom, that was all good news!”  Finally, we found it!

2) Laugh!  I’m thoroughly convinced that God gave me my children to help save my life.  God knows how important laughter, music and movies are to me and He gave me children who not only perform, singing, dancing and acting, but they also make me laugh.  Here’s a video of Joshua’s first stand-up comedy act from 3rd grade.  Their performances keep me focused on moving forward with creating something beautiful.

3) Watch uplifting movies and TV shows.  Even though I loved the movie “Dead Poets Society“, it was too depressing to make my “top 10” list.  My 3 favorite movies of all time, “When Harry Met Sally“, “Tootsie” and “Working Girl“, although not family-friendly (they’re all rated R), they’re hilariously funny, and more importantly, they end well.  Call me a sap, but a good, happy Hollywood ending is medicine for the brain.  Same thing for TV.  One of my favorite pastimes is watching “The Waltons” with John and the kids.  Great life lessons, very much family-friendly, uplifting and inspiring.

4) Make time to visit inspiring places.  We’ve had a membership to “The Henry Ford” for over 2 years and have visited Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum countless times.  Greenfield Village is my very favorite.  Calm, clean, peaceful and definitely inspiring.   Leisurely exploring, chatting, eating, walking and riding around in a world so much simpler than our current world feels like a little bit of heaven on earth.  I feel like I can breathe when I’m there, especially when I’m riding in a Model T.  I often say it’s the next best option to Disney World.

5) Chose uplifting music.  As I’m writing this, Jordan is in the bath, listening to music shuffling on her iPod.  She’s been listening for over an hour, and the song “Oceans” just came on.  That’s the song that I included in the “Look Up” post.  Coincidence?

6) Notice the “coincidences” all around you.  I call them “God-incidences”, a term I learned from Gwen Shamblin years ago.  I believe God is trying to get our attention.  And when He gets my attention, it’s like finding the finest jewel on the treasure hunt.  

7) When you find the treasure, share it!  We have the ability like never before to share what we’ve found.  If you find something inspiring and uplifting, you can take part in someone else’s “coincidence” by sharing exactly what they needed at precisely the right moment.

If you find any of what I’ve written here, in the past or in the future, to be inspiring and uplifting, please pass it along.  I would be honored if you would share what I’ve written.  For me, the ultimate “cure” for depression is the thrill of connection, the sheer joy of knowing that someone who needed something was connected with someone who had something to offer.  That’s what “DreamSpace” was all about.  And if you do share something and one of those wonderful “coincidences” occurs, please share your story.  Don’t let the story end with you.  Pay it forward and watch it grow.

(Not so) Helpful Advice
(Not so) Helpful Advice

Don’t think about the bee

Jordan couldn’t sleep last night.  It was about 2:30am when she came into my room crying because she thought there was a bee in her room.  I prayed for her, checked her room and got her all snuggled in, but she was back about 10 minutes later.  She said she couldn’t stop thinking about the bee.

How many times do we repeat over and over in our minds, “Don’t think about the bee”, when we really should be thinking about something else?  Joyce Meyer teaches that the best way to get rid of a bad thought is to replace it with a good thought.  The Apostle Paul was kind enough to give us an idea of what to think about instead:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Phil. 4:8 (NLT)

The second time Jordan came, ruminating on the bee, we talked about that verse in Philippians.  I gave her some suggestions of what she could think about instead of focusing on the bee.  My idea didn’t work, so she was back a third time about 5 minutes later.  That time, instead of praying for her, I asked her to pray for God to give her something to think about.  She was so sweet, crying as she prayed, knowing that God would guide her.  I gave her another suggestion, but I told her that she should focus on whatever God leads her to focus on.  Ditch my idea if it’s not working.

And isn’t that what we’re here for?  Parents are here to guide their children until their children can learn to be guided by God.  We teach them what it means to follow authority, preparing them to follow the Ultimate Authority in their life.  We teach them to obey us, knowing that obeying God, who speaks in whispers, will be more difficult, but so much more important.

Thanks to my amazing brother, Rick Baumhauer of Baumhauer Photo, for the gorgeous bee picture.

Thanks to my amazing brother, Rick Baumhauer of Baumhauer Photo, for the gorgeous bee picture.  If you like the bee, be sure to check out his gallery.

Salsa Chicken

In May 2013, abdominal pain was making me a miserable wife and mother.  By the end of June, it had gotten so bad that John started doing research.  He suggested that I stop eating gluten, and when I did, the pain went away.  About a month later, the upper abdominal pain was still gone, but lower abdominal pain started.  Again, John went back to his research and suggested that I cut out dairy.  I did, and again, the pain went away.  But what was I supposed to cook for my family so that I wasn’t making separate meals?

Thankfully, I was referred to nutritionist Nancy Raymond from Optimal Health Solutions and health coach Lindsay Green Molina from Wholesome Ever After.  Nancy confirmed my gluten and dairy issues and directed me to supplements to help heal my gut.  Lindsay held my hand for 6 months, teaching me how to put this new lifestyle into practice.  I’m so grateful to both of them.

One of my family’s favorite dishes had been based on a McCormick spice packet called “Salsa Chicken”.  Not only had they had stopped making the spice packet, but it also had a bunch of ingredients in it that would no longer work for me.  Lindsay helped me revamp the recipe so that it worked for everyone in my family.  Since then, I’ve added a bit more to it and I’ve also made it with pork.  I’m often asked for the recipe, so I thought I would put it here.

This is the Salsa Pork variety made with corn and green peppers. It's a little soupier than it should have been, but still tasty.
This is the Salsa Pork variety made with corn and green peppers. It’s a little soupier than it should have been, but still tasty.

Salsa Chicken (or Salsa Pork) – serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 green or colored pepper, chopped
1 bunch broccoli, cut or pulled apart into small pieces
Any other vegetable you’d like to add (I’ve used asparagus and zucchini), cut into small pieces
1 cup uncooked rice (whatever kind you like – I’ve used long-grain brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, but my very favorite is Lundberg’s Brown Short Grain rice, but I’ve only found it at Farmer’s Market grocery store in Clinton Twp – if you find it somewhere else, please let me know!  It’s very hearty and reminds me of barley)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilis
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves or chicken breast tenderloins (I use the ones frozen in ice, but you have to cook it longer)
1.5 lbs pork (I like center loin chops, and I like to cook them first and cut them up into small pieces)
1 cup water

Serve with (all optional):
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup sour cream
Taco/ burrito shells or corn chips
Hot sauce and/or jalapeños

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.  Sprinkle rice in a 2.5 qt baking dish (I use a Corning Ware French White 11×8.5×3 inch dish), sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray to keep everything from sticking.  Add vegetables.  Shove chicken (or pork) down into the vegetables and rice so that it sits below the top of the pan.

2) Mix cans of tomatoes and seasonings in a separate bowl until well blended.  Pour evenly over chicken/pork, veggies and rice.  Add water to the empty bowl (that had the tomatoes in it) to get all of the seasonings out and pour that over the chicken and veggies.  Add more water to the dish if the chicken isn’t covered (need enough liquid to cook the chicken and rice, but too much will make it soupy).  If the water is too high, it will also boil over the edge, so use your best judgement.  Cover with lid or foil.

3) Bake 45 minutes or until chicken/pork is cooked through and rice is tender (may take up to 75 minutes if the chicken was frozen).  Remove foil (or lid).  If not already cut up, cut chicken/pork into serving-size pieces (chicken should shred easily with 2 forks).  Stir everything together before serving.

4) Serve as-is or with optional toppings (see above under “serve with”).

Recipe doubles and triples well.  Just use multiple dishes and spread it all out between them.  I usually make three at a time (different sized French White dishes) so that it lasts for several nights.  Feel free to mess with the ingredients, quantities and ratios and make it your own.  Enjoy!

Speak Life

I did some secretarial work for John this morning and he thanked me.  I answered with “my pleasure” and it reminded me of the mission trip that Joshua and I took to Costa Rica in 2013.  Most of the time when we said “Gracias” to someone in Costa Rica, they answered with “Mucho gusto”, which means “gladly” or “my pleasure”.  But occasionally we would say “Gracias” and we would hear “De nada” in response, meaning “no problem” or “don’t mention it”.

It struck me that “mucho gusto” or “my pleasure” felt like a “positive” response and “de nada” or “no problem” felt like a “negative” response.  Subtle, but significant.

TobyMac released a song called “Speak Life” at the end of 2012, but I just started hearing it a couple weeks ago.  At the end of his music video, he quotes Brennan Manning from the book “Abba’s Child”:

“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.”

There is a poster at Shelby Middle School where The Eastside Vineyard Church meets every Sunday morning.  It says, before you speak, THINK.  Is what you’re about to say:


Gary and AnneMarie Ezzo from Growing Families International have said this for years in the “Growing Kids God’s Way” curriculum and in the new “Parenting from the Tree of Life” curriculum.  You can speak life or speak death to your children.  You can say, “Don’t spill your milk!” or you can say, “See how carefully you can bring your milk to the table”.  You can say, “Don’t be mean to your sister” or you can say, “What would be a kind way to answer your sister?”  You can say, “Don’t run!” and “Stay off the grass” or you can say “Let’s walk” and “Let’s stay on the sidewalk”.

But it’s not just children that this applies to, it’s everyone.  Every encounter can be used to inspire.

“Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the things you say.”

-TobyMac “Speak Life”

You Gotta Have Art!

Joshua as the Ghost of Marley from December 2009
Joshua as the Ghost of Marley from December 2009 (courtesy of Mandi Tucker of LoverDove Photography – see below for more info)

If you grew up in the 70’s in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, you remember this commercial for the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts):  You Gotta Have Art!

I really don’t know what the last 6 years of my life and my kids’  lives would have been if it weren’t for the Arts at Kensington.  “New Community Kids”, later renamed “K-Rock”, has been the only extracurricular activity my kids have been a part of since Kindergarten.  I could never justify any other activity, as this one includes singing, acting, dancing, and most importantly, God.  Add to that amazing teachers, incredible opportunities and great friends.  How can you top that?  I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped to make K-Rock happen over the years.  You all ROCK!

A couple years ago, my mom compiled a list of all of Joshua’s performances through the beginning of 2011 (before Jordan was old enough for K-Rock).  I just spent the afternoon compiling the last 3 years.  I’m completely blown away.

I want the kids to have a complete list of everything they’ve been a part of and I figured this is great a place to put them.  For the performances that I have video links, they will be in red.   I’ll put them in order with the newest first.  I’ll come back to this list in the future and add to it.

April 30, 2017: K-Rock Clinton Twp “Friends For Never” – Kensington original production of the story of the Good Samaritan, as told through the Rock N Roller’s and the Show Stoppers.  Jordan was a Show Stopper in several songs at the beginning and end of the service.

March 19, 2017:  Original video shown at all campuses called “Excuses“.  Joshua is the fundraising boy scout who won’t take no for an answer.  Love this 3 minute video!

December 4, 2016: K-Rock Clinton Twp “Lion Chaser” – another Kensington original production.  Jordan sings in “Carry On”, sings and dances in “Something Wild” and sings in the worship song “Ready Set Go” at the end.  Enjoy!

August 10, 2016:  K-Rock Summer Camp, Troy campus “The Games” (click on this service to the right) – Olympic-themed K-performance and a message from an NCAA First Team All American athlete.  Jordan Rose danced in the first song and she was one of the soloists in the “volleyball” song.  All of the kids come back out to perform again at the end of the service.

May 1, 2016:  K-Rock Clinton Twp  “The Whisper” – If you like “The Lion King”, you’ll love this original Kensington production.  Jordan was in all of the songs except the first one.  The kids perform for about a half hour at the beginning of the service, and then come out again at the end for one more song.  Don’t miss it!

March 20, 2016:  “May You Find a Light” kids’ choir at Clinton Twp – Jordan and several other kids sing towards the end of the service.  Really beautiful song and the video story before the kids was incredible.

February 21, 2016:  “Going the Distance” drama/song at Clinton Twp – Jordan and several other kids are bored silly at Sunday school until the teacher changes his tactics (about 22 minutes into service).

December 6, 2015: K-Rock Clinton Twp  “Who’s My Neighbor?”  (Mr Rogers & “Up”) – Jordan leads “Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood” theme at the beginning of the service and two songs at the end (“Little Drummer Boy” and “Let it Be Love”).  Very first Clinton Twp K-Rock!

September 20, 2015:  “Uptown Force” (Star Wars) performed at Kensington Shelby campus advertising K-Rock (new at Shelby and Clinton Twp this fall!).  Joshua got to stand in as Darth Vader for this performance.

August 12, 2015: K-Rock “A Summer Night in a Galaxy Not So Far Away” – K-Rock takes on Star Wars!  Jordan was one of the Jedi Warriors battling the Dark Side in “Watch Me” (and in all of the worship songs at the end).  Joshua was one of several kids who helped Steve Andrews teach the message (about 43 minutes in).  May the force be with you!

May 2 & 3, 2015: K-Rock “Singing in the Rain” – Jordan is in “Hard Knock Life”, the drama and “Waterfall”, but K-Rock actually performs 5 songs plus the drama (some at the beginning, some at the end).  This is the most K-Rock-packed service I’ve seen in the 7 years we’ve been involved.  Wonderful service!

December 3, 6 & 7, 2014:  K-Rock “It’s a Small World After All” (Global Partners – watch the video @ 52 minutes) – Jordan is in all songs, including “Beautiful Creatures” & Joshua and the K-Krew helpers are in the last song in the service

August 6, 2014:  K-Rock The Beginning: Songs Written from Young Hearts (CD release party) – Joshua does the greeting and both kids perform

May 29, 2014:  K-Rock “Frozen” Spring Workshop (parent performance in the chapel) – Jordan had a solo in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and she was in “For the First Time in Forever”

April 19 & 20, 2014:  Clinton Twp Easter service (Nonsense) – Joshua as the paper boy and in the first song

March 19, 22 & 23, 2014:  K-Rock Monopoly – Jordan is in “How Bad Can I Be?” and “Grateful for Your Love”

December 4, 7 & 8, 2013:  K-Rock “Misfits” (Island of Misfit Toys) – Jordan is Elf #5 in skit and in “We Are Santa’s Elves” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”

November 10, 2013:  Joshua got to share about our Costa Rica trip (July 2013) with the K-Kids at Clinton Twp campus

October 6, 2013:  “Family Gone Wild” drama at Kensington Clinton Twp campus.  Joshua played the son Bobby.

August 7, 10 & 11, 2013:  K-Rock Superhero’s – Joshua is villain’s voice in comic strip cartoon, Jordan is in “I Need a Hero” (dressed as a baby in feetsy pajamas and pigtails), Joshua is “Aquaman” in skit and sings “Mr Cellophane” (his last official K-Rock performance as a 5th grader), both sing in “My Own Little World”

April 10, 13 & 14, 2013:  K-Rock Egyptians – Jordan is in “Walk Like an Egyptian” (front left in long white dress), Joshua is Moses and then sings “Jump!”, both sing “Desert Song”

January 20, 2013:  Clinton Twp campus – Home – kids sing backup for Phillip Phillip’s song at end of service (amazing service called “Finding God in Someone Else’s Kid” re: adoption and fostering)

December 23 & 24, 2012:  Clinton Twp campus – Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child – 2 songs and 2 short videos, then “Red Scarf” skit (Jordan plays lead, Joshua at the apple cart).  Both kids in both songs after skit (Joshua waves flag at back right and Jordan sings solo, but her mic isn’t on in this service – here’s my iPad version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” with her mic on)

November 28 & December 1 & 2, 2012: K-Rock Christmas – Jordan in “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (duet), Joshua in trio in “Winter Wonderland/ Let it Snow“, both in “Rejoice Rejoice Emmanuel”

August 15, 18 & 19, 2012:  K-Rock Rascals – Joshua as Spanky and Jordan as Little Sister (and 1st solo in “I Won’t Grow Up”), Joshua in “Kids!”, both in “Worth It”

April 25, 2012:  K-Rock “Child of God” – Joshua in “I Am Me” skit (bullied on the bus), both in “Hangin’ Tough” and “City on Our Knees”

March 25, 2012:  Family video re: our sponsor child, Karelo, from Kenya, Africa, to be shown at K-Kids on a Sunday morning

November 23, 2011:  K-Rock Thanksgiving – Jordan in “Turkey Trot” (her first time on the big stage), Joshua as Mashed Potatoes in skit, Joshua solo in “Thank You”, both in “Once and Future King”

June 7, 2011:  K-Rock Spring Workshop (parent performance in the chapel) – Joshua stand-up (part of the Urban Arts fundraiser)

March 30 & April 2 & 3, 2011:  K-Rock – Joshua as Gene Kelley in “Singing in the Rain”, K-Rock kids perform “Singin’ in the Rain/ Umbrella” mashup from “Glee” (they really made it rain on stage!)

December 8, 2010:  K-Rock “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” – Joshua was a Who from Whoville

August 6, 2010:  K-Rock Summer Camp (parent performance in the chapel) – Jordan as Gretel in “So Long, Farewell” and Joshua in “New York, New York” trio

June 16, 2010: K-Rock Spring Workshop (parent performance in the chapel) – Joshua in “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

June 13, 2010:  Clinton Twp campus – “Swagger Wagon” commercial skit – Joshua and Jordan played Dave and Gwyn Kubiak’s kids (Jordan’s first time on stage)

April 28, 2010:  K-Rock “You Know I’m Bad” (Max Lucado’s “You are Special” story performed) – Joshua was a Wemmick in the skit

December 3, 2009:  K-Rock “The Muppet Christmas Carol” – Joshua was one of the ghosts of Marley in the skit with Scrooge and sang “Marley & Marley” (see picture above, courtesy of Mandi Tucker of LoverDove Photography)

September 13, 2009:  Clinton Twp campus – Joshua sang “This Little Light of Mine” solo and sang back-up on Matt Redmond’s “Shine” with Danny Rossi

September 6, 2009:  Joshua danced in a video called “Nobody Dances Anymore” that was shown on that weekend at all campuses

July 22, 2009:  K-Rock Summer Camp “WII Games” – Joshua played “Little Mario” in skit

March 25, 2009:  K-Rock performance – Joshua sang in worship song and had a solo in “I Feel Good”

December 3, 2008: K-Rock Christmas – Joshua sang “Scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmas’s long, long ago” solo (his first solo)

July 16, 2008:  K-Rock Summer Camp “Wall-E” and “Men in Black” – Joshua was one of the Men in Black and he sang “This Little Light of Mine” at the end of the service (first K-Rock performance for Joshua)

July 12, 2006:  Joshua’s first time on stage, 4 years old (Jordan was 2 months old and slept through the whole thing), dancing to “Every Move I Make” with Rob Cucheran leading worship at a Summer Nights Midweek service.  Thank you, Rob, for encouraging Joshua!  He had a blast that night and he’s never stopped.

Joshua The Prophet

Love this picture of my “Joshua the Prophet”.  Special thanks to Brian Craig Photography for sharing his talent with us.

John and I were married in January 1994 in a Methodist church in Royal Oak.  He was Catholic, I was an atheist, so Methodist seemed like a happy medium.  And it was the church that my Granny and Great Aunt Edie belonged to.  Oh, that poor pastor.  I asked him to please use “God” as little as possible in the ceremony.  I really did.  What a gracious man.  I think he really tried to accommodate my request.

Three months later I was working at Franklin Quest in Troy selling Franklin planners.  One of my customers came in on a Saturday morning and was showing me how she was using her planner.  She had Kensington business cards in her planner and she asked me, “Do you go to church?”  I said I was married in a church, but that I didn’t go to church.  As we chatted, she said that she had a group of 27 people from her church who were going to see “Phantom of the Opera” in Toronto.  Really?

Every church I’d been to was full of grey-haired old ladies trying to get into heaven (or so I thought), and I couldn’t imagine a place with young people who loved “Phantom” as much as I did.  I was intrigued.  She wrote her name and number on the back of the business card and I called her later that afternoon.  John was going fishing the next morning, so I had nothing better to do.  I met her at the 11:40 service and was completely blown away.

Not only did Ed Bellaire sing Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (one of my favorite songs), but Dave Wilson spoke about a God-shaped hole in our soul that we try to fill with possessions, food, shopping, perfectionism, all the things I had been pursuing for the first 22 years of my life.  Was this what I had been searching for?  Jesus?  Really?

About a month later, in the bedroom that John and I lived in upstairs at my Mom’s house, I knelt down and prayed, asking Jesus to come into my life, to take over, to lead me and guide me, to be my Lord and Savior.

Fast forward 20 years to last Wednesday night, August 6th, when the K-Rock kids released their brand new, kid-written, kid-performed 6 song CD at Kensington Church in Troy.  Our son Joshua was asked to do the greeting that night.  And as he spoke these words, I was in awe:  “Kensington was started almost 25 years ago, and it was started because a lot of people had given up on church.  So, Kensington came together and made the church experience a little different.  So now more people are coming to Jesus and getting help around the world because of the generosity of people here at Kensington.”

John and I weren’t going to have kids.  I was an emotional mess and John was gone working, hunting or fishing.  I wasn’t going to raise a child by myself.  John believed in God, but he was very happy with his life.  He saw no reason to give his life over to Jesus.  But after I accepted Christ as my Savior, I started praying for John.  After about 5 1/2 years, John decided that he was done running from God.  In December 1999, John decided to turn around let Jesus have his life.

About a year and a half later, John and I were at Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner one night.  I said, “I know we’re saving up to buy a cottage up north some day, but who are we going to share the cottage with?”  We had both been feeling that maybe the Bacarella family should be more than John, Beth and Mandi the German Shorthaired Pointer.  Maybe God had other plans.  So, we began praying about expanding our family and God answered.  Joshua John Bacarella was born June 14, 2002.

So, as I watched that 12 year old young man say those words last Wednesday night, I realized that he would not be here right now if it weren’t for a church that was started for people who wanted to “make the church experience a little different”.

If you’d like to see last Wednesday’s service, click here. The kids perform for the first 40 minutes of the service.  Our little Jordan Rosie is singing and dancing in there too.  She wouldn’t be here either.  If you haven’t read her story, check it out here: Fresh eyes: Jordan Rose and Dr Chub Andrews.  Enjoy!

"Kensington was started almost 25 years ago…"
“Kensington was started almost 25 years ago…”  Special thanks to Brian Craig Photography.

Find more of Brian’s work at Brian Craig Photography.

Look Up

Worry.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Hopelessness.  I’ve struggled with all of them for as long as I can remember.  If you see me out and about, you probably know the “smiling Beth”, always happy-happy.  But if you lived with me, you’d know the other side.  Not pretty.

Chris Zarbaugh taught for the last 2 weekends about a process of asking questions when something big happens in your life and you don’t know what to do.  One half was about observing, reflecting on and discussing what has happened.  The other half was about putting together a plan, setting up accountability and acting on the plan.  The goofy thing is that I do pretty well with the “big” stuff of life.  It’s all the little things that get me down.

So, I started asking, what do I need to do when I’m feeling hopeless and overwhelmed?  I’ve observed, reflected and discussed my melancholy state over and over again until I’m blue in the face.  I know what it is.  But what am I supposed to do about it?  What’s my action plan?  My answer came over the last couple days.

1) In May, Kensington played a video entitled “Look Up” at a weekend service.  The video ends with this line: “Look up from your phone, shut down that display, stop watching this video, live life the real way.”  There are now several response videos entitled “Look Down“, asking if social media is really so bad.  John and I were watching a couple of those responses before church Sunday morning.

2) As we left the church parking lot, we asked Jordan what she learned in class.  Turns out that we had all been learning about Peter walking on water towards Jesus in Matthew 14.  Jordan said she learned that we need to “look up” and keep our eyes on Jesus.  I asked her what we would see and what would happen to us if we “look down” instead.  She said we would only see the waves under our feet and we would drown.

3) I saw the trailer for “Interstellar” today.  I’d never heard of this movie before, but I was struck by the first line:  “We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, and now we look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

Sunday’s service ended with a beautiful rendition of “Oceans”, sung by Cheryl Bollinger.

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

That was my answer.  Look up.  Call upon His name.  Keep my eyes above the waves.  Don’t look down at the waves or the dirt, but instead look up.  For accountability, I really need to ask for help.  I need to let people know I’m struggling and why (even if it seems like a really stupid reason).  And for action?  Turn on the music and turn it up loud.

Need more action steps?  I wrote this a couple weeks later.  I hope it really is helpful advice:  Robin Williams & (Not So) Helpful Advice


DreamSpace continued

The response to that original “DreamSpace” email was very positive.  So much so that we had a conference call on Labor Day 2011 to discuss next steps.  From there, 3 different things happened:

1) I was invited to come to PeopleMovers in Detroit to see if there was some way to combine DreamSpace with

2) Lori Naseef from invited me to her Like Minded women’s group.

3) Nathan Krusko found this Future of the Internet video, from the Aspen Institute’s 7th Annual Ideas Festival on June 28, 2011.  The creators of Twitter relaunched their company,, with a mission to build systems of “twitter-like quality” that help people work together to improve the world, to do something greater than they could individually.  They wanted to enable people who wouldn’t necessarily act on their own to find like-minded people, not just to talk about stuff, but to make an impact together.  They partnered with and created the goal-setting app called “Lift”, now updated to “”.  Their original “habit tracker” is a nifty little app if you haven’t tried it.

Not long after that Labor Day meeting, John and I happened upon the “Dream Space” that is now Sportsmen’s Direct, on Jefferson Ave in Harrison Twp, MI.  Converting our basement web store into a full-fledged tackle store took all of my time and energy and DreamSpace was put on the shelf.  But it was not forgotten.

Later I found out about a site called , as Kensington Church had started communities there for each of their campuses.  The Common’s goal is “Making it easier to volunteer, give, share, help and connect in your community.”  I also found that Keith Zendler, the founder of PeopleMovers, had started a new site called  I love the rotating tag line on CSpace:  “A Network of People and Organizations to Communicate their Vision, Collaborate to Move Forward, and Connect their World.”  Beautiful.  That’s exactly what I had envisioned with DreamSpace.


If you knew me back in 2011, you probably received the following from me via email.  A lot has happened since then, but I wanted to post the original email here before I continue the story.

“I had the privilege of attending the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit at Kensington on August 11 & 12.  After 2 solid days of incredible vision-casting, I envisioned droves of people coming up to pastors all around the world, overflowing with ideas.  But, in my mind, I could imagine the pastors being stuck with answers like “I’ll keep that in mind”, “I’ll pray for you”, “maybe you should talk to so-and-so”, or simply “go out and do that” without a structured way to funnel these ideas.

Craig McGlassion spoke at Clinton Twp on August 7 and quoted Zig Ziglar:
“The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you think you can only do a little.”

We all have something to give, but we don’t know what to do with it, or we think it’s too little, so our ideas fizzle out.  What if there were a world-wide on-line connection point where we could post our big dreams and our small offerings?  It would be searchable, categorized by subject and location, so that we can find one another.  Imagine something like eBay or Facebook, connecting people all over the world, but for the purpose of fulfilling our dreams together.

Once we connect and fulfill that dream, we can post pictures and tell our story.  How the two moms with a burden to pray for their neighborhood found one another, only blocks away, so that 2 or more could gather in His name.  How the farmers market grower with too many carrots at the end of the day got connected with the soup kitchen who could use his carrots to help feed 100’s.  How the up and coming generation, inspired by the likes of Bono and Mother Teresa, with their passion for connection and social change, found each other, worked together and saw their dreams fulfilled.

Come for daily encouragement by reading the stories and seeing the pictures of dreams fulfilled.  Come to post your meager offerings (just 2 fish?  just 5 loaves?) and watch how, together, we can feed thousands.  Come to offer your talents, your creativity, your “I’m nobody and my little talent isn’t worth anything on it’s own” and see how God will piece us together into his beautiful mosaic, shine His light through us and show off His masterpiece.  Come to DreamSpace.

John and I are trying to find out if something like this already exists, but have found little with a “grassroots” Craig’s List/ Facebook feel.  We’re looking for our “next step” and that’s where you come in.  Maybe you have some direction you can offer, maybe you can forward this e-mail, or maybe you can simply pray for us or for those who may already be working on this somewhere in our world.  God bless our country and this world.  May we all be a blessing to one another.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
-Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

Thanks for reading and dreaming along with me.

Click here for part 2: DreamSpace Continued