Re-Member Me as I Remember You

I’m currently in a study with a few of students who are away at college. This past week we’ve been daily looking at scriptures related to embracing Sabbath. This is one of my favorite topics that I could write so much about, but this week one word stood out to me:


So much of Sabbath living is about remembering. Back in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we’re invited and commanded to “remember the Sabbath day”. Specifically, in the second account, God’s people were invited to remember the days they were in slavery, when they couldn’t rest or worship whenever they wanted. Each week God invited them to pause, recall the slavery and then celebrate the choice to rest that wasn’t provided before, to remember God’s powerful redemption and rescue. Each week God invites us to remember and celebrate God’s rescue of us, to pause in gratitude and rest in the realization that our salvation is not dependent on our own work.

In Psalm 95, which we also read this week, the author recounts the things God did for the people in the past and calls them to come and give thanks for what God had done… another way to remember as they gathered in worship.

Within the context of worship, Communion is another space in which we remember.  First Corinthians 11 quotes Jesus instituting this meal saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this is remembrance of me… This cup is the new covenant between God and His people–an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”

This concept of remembering seems to describe well the essence of Sabbath.

I heard it once said that remembering helps “re-member” us.  All week long the demands and to-do lists, and expectations all strive to dismember us, to fragment our minds and hearts and souls.  And on days like today–when we pause before the altar, pause with our families, pause to rest, pause to recall who He is and who we are–He puts us back together again. As we remember Christ, we are re-membered.

Jesus as we come to your table today, re-member us as we remember You. Amen.




Happy Birthday to My College Custodian!

Today is the birthday of the custodian that cleaned my dorm in college. That sentence feels a bit strange to write. I haven’t talked with this woman in over 7 years and I bet most people don’t even know the name of the person to cleaned the bathrooms of their dorms. I remember Donna’s birthday not because I’m some amazing person but because she is! I can mention Donna to others who went to my school and many of them would instantly be able to recall a memory of her with a smile on their face as they told it. Donna was a truly beautiful woman inside and out!

Donna’s life calling was literally to clean bathrooms. She believed it with all her heart and it showed. She did her job with excellence and viewed it as a ministry, a way to serve the students in our dorm!

While Donna never slowed down or slacked on the job, she also never missed an opportunity to engage us while she worked. She’d ask us how our holidays were when we got back from breaks. She’d wave to us as we passed her in the halls. She’d listen when we had a hard day and promise to pray as she continued her work and I have no doubt in my mind that she did just that. She’d remember to ask us about those conversations later that week and somehow miraculously remembered which story belonged to which student. The specific buildings she worked in changed from year to year but I know mine wasn’t the only one. She served hundreds of students every day and counted it an honor to clean their bathrooms.

She was also very wise, never pushing her wisdom on us, but instead letting it flow out of her soul. For example, upon returning to my hall after Thanksgiving break the year I was an RA, I found Donna busy preparing for all of us to return. She had Christmas music playing from the radio we had in the bathroom and was joyously singing along. Her comment to me was, “I just love Christmas music! How wonderful that at this time of year, the whole world lets us play music that speaks truth of Jesus all over the place! It’s in stores and on secular radio stations. I just pray that something as simple as one of these songs could change someone’s life.”

This is just one of many profound “side comments” Donna made without really realizing the impact she was having on the young women around her!

I share all of this because it’s a reminder and a challenge to me to live into whatever calling God has for me today. He reminds us in Colossians 3: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.” What strikes me most is the word “whatever”. Whatever you’re doing today, yes even cleaning bathrooms, is a way to honor God and worship Him.

And who knows, some college kid may remember you 7 years later and their life may be different because of you!

With God’s help I pray I can do this today… that I can make beds and do laundry and talk with the college students God has put in my life and interact with my teammates and spend time with some kids and WHATEVER else he puts before me, doing it with all my heart. I’ll do this today as a way to honor God and also a way to honor Donna on her birthday.

Wherever you are Donna, know that your impact continues on. Your work was not vain! Happy Birthday! I’m so glad you were born!

A deep breath

The other night I got to go to a book signing where Ann Voskamp was speaking and kicking off her tour with her brand new book, “The Broken Way.”

The day was packed… get Elisa up and out the door, get myself out the door, a busy morning at work, an awesome afternoon of ministry at the University, back to the office to wrap things up before picking up dinner quick on the way to Elisa’s playoff volleyball game and leaving right as the last point was put on the board to drive 25 minutes to arrive just as the Q&A part was ending.  I wondered if it was worth adding this one more thing in, worth the 25 minute drive, worth what ended up being almost a 15-hour day away from home.  But as I settled in to hear the last moments of Ann speak, the doubts began to fade.  The fade continued as I found a seat next to a dear friend and we finally had time to sit, be still, be near each other and truly hear each other, to share life together as we waited for the book signing line to dwindle.  A chance to breathe deep and gather strength for the next thing. 

And then now, a few days later, after another crazy day of looking around at so much brokenness and pain in the world in general and the lives of people I love, I finally crack open that signed book and these words meet me:

“Rebekah, never be afraid of broken things… He is redeeming everything.” 

And I continue on through chapter 1 and know this book will be a deep breath each time I break it open:

“Hannah tasted salty tears of infertility. Elijah howled for God to take his life.  David asked his soul a thousand times why it was so downcast.  God does great things through the greatly wounded.  God sees the broken as the best and sees the best in the broken and He calls the wounded to be the world changers.” (Pg 24)

And I think of little Aiden and Hezekiah, little guys in hospitals right now, recovering from surgeries … and dream of the ways they will change the world… and maybe they already have. 

And two dear friends who both headed to Wisconsin this week; two different stories of sick parents, one entering hospice, the other struggling with complications with cancer… God sees the broken hearts of my friends and meets them there.

And if you try to turn on the news or glance at a paper, my heart hurts for the brokenness that seems to bleed on every page, every story.

And the days I ask why or how or what in the world I am doing on this earth…

So on the awesome days and the hard days, and simply the long, crazy, running from thing to thing days, this truth gives grace and space to breathe deep: 

“The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. … never be afraid of a broken thing.  … Brokenness can make an abundance.” (Pg. 25-26)

Full schedules, full hearts

So, as this month-long blogging journey has gone on, it’s been harder and harder to keep up with this daily task of coming here to write.  I wish I had more time for it as blogging has often been a great way for me to process and celebrate and thank God for the life He’s given me.  However, some days that’s just not reality and I’d much rather just enjoy the moments than worry about blogging about them.  

Truth is I have a lot less spare time these days, and I’m totally okay with that!  At the end of a day where we’ve been going 18 different directions all day, if my daughter wants to talk and tell me what happened in her day, I’m going to sit and listen (no matter how much I’d love to be in bed fast asleep).  If it comes down to it, telling other people about my journey isn’t nearly as fun as living it.  

Two and a half months have already passed. That’s crazy.  As one sports season ended yesterday and Elisa prepares for another (she’s giving Basketball a shot), I look forward to even more days with full schedules, and full hearts! 

Mondays are for… 

So I’m so glad that Sundays are for pancakes and games and hanging out because Mondays are often for not really seeing each other at all.  Today I dropped Elisa off at school at 7:40 this morning and just saw her for the first time since then when I peeked in her room to say hi when I got home from choir rehearsal at 10:15pm. Occasionally we’d see each other quick at a volleyball game or dinner if it wasn’t a game day, but otherwise this is reality for Mondays… one more reason to be thankful for Sundays. 🙂 

But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a little time apart is probably good for us too. As a “single mom” and with only two of us in the house, it’s probably a good thing we have some time for ourselves … me when I’m home while she’s at school on Mondays and her while I’m at choir.  Still, one of my favorite parts of Mondays is coming home from choir and despite wanting to crawl right into bed, staying up and hearing about her day.  So thankful she’s willing to share. 

Sundays are for pancakes…

Forced family fun…

Maybe that was/is a thing in your house and maybe not, but whoever first made it up: I think you’re brilliant.  Thankfully not much “forcing” is necessary when implementing this in the Freed/Heldarskard home.  The fact that there are so many “American” things to explore and do with Elisa makes this a little easier as well.  

And fall… well it means pumpkin carving!  We had a great time yesterday creating these guys who have been affectionately named Stalin and Fred… you can decide who is who 🙂 

We were originally going to do the whole pumpkin patch adventure, but spending 4 times the amount of money on a much smaller pumpkin, and about 4 times the amount of travel time to be outside on a very windy cold fall day when we didn’t really have much time anyway, we opted for the “cultural experience” of a first visit to Trader Joes.

Then we headed back home, made some homemade hot chocolate and started carving. 

Today we had a great evening.  Sundays are officially (yes, officially) pancake day in the Freed/Heldarskard house.  We love both American and Faroese pancakes and have decided to enjoy some every week in one form or another.  Some families have “Pizza Fridays”; We have “Pancake Sundays”!   

Tonight we followed up dinner with an intense game of Uno… complete with a merging of ways to play to create a new set of “house rules”.  Halfway through dinner I posted this challenge on Instagram… 

As you can see, she accepted the challenge… and the proceeded to kick my butt…. and then took pictures of me and laughed at me while I did the dishes.  


Sundays are for pancakes

and bacon

and ‘forced’ family fun

and dishes 

and laughter… 

Let’s do this week!  

“Don’t wake me up”

Last night Elisa was telling me about her psychology class.  At some point this week they got in a conversation about times that people wake up.  The teacher said, “So for school days many of you maybe get up at 6 or 6:30 or for some of you 7 or later.  But we don’t typically get up at 6 on a Saturday. What time do we get up on a Saturday?”  Elisa’s response of “2”not only made the teacher pause but many of her classmates too. But yes, it’s true.  Without anything she has to be up for, 2 p.m. is about the earliest I’ll see my daughter appear from her room.  It can be later.  

You can imagine that this probably doesn’t make school day mornings very easy to get up for her.  Despite many alarms set it’s normally not until we go through a whole routine of things that she actually gets out of bed and out the door.  All with the flip of a switch!

First of all, can we just pause at the irony that her alarm is the chorus of a song that just says “Don’t wake me up” over and over again.  On days like today when it plays for 30 minutes while I’m up getting ready, it cracks me up to hear it over and over and over again.  

When it’s ACTUALLY time that she NEEDS to be out of bed, I become very thankful for our apartment’s entry way light.  Elisa’s bedroom has a window into that entry way which means despite the sun not coming up as early in the morning I can somewhat suddenly simulate that without blinding her so much with her room light that she just hides under the covers and goes back to sleep. 

A few knocks, warnings that Caitlin will be here in 10 minutes, and when necessary standing in the door way until her feet touch the floor, and we’re we’re good to go. Of course many days it’s not that complicated and she actually gets up on her on, but it’s nice to have a plan when we need it! 

Now, off to wake her up for the second time today …