making things happen (not) monday : big action steps, big lessons

I’ve been making things happen over the past few days! Just not a blog post.

BUT…I decided to tackle the boulder that has been wedged between me and most of the other things on my to-do list: getting the pictures on my laptop under control. This is my action item that I’ve been dreading for MONTHS (literally…in fact, almost a full year), and no matter how many steps I broke it into, I just couldn’t get started.

It’s a beast for two reasons: 1. I have about 15,000 pictures that were never sorted properly – including 4 weddings where I accidentally didn’t remove the cast-offs from the keepers – so sitting down to go through all of them feels about as appealing as sitting in on a calculus class. 2. I need to move my pictures off of my laptop/external hard drive because I have no space left on either. Because I had no idea what I was doing when I started working with RAW files and no idea how to fix it once I figured out what I was doing my originals are all over the place. And now…I have no idea how to organize everything. 2a. I also have no idea how to transfer my photos to another system without turning my pathways into knots and my face into contortions.


Taking on this item is the epitome of The Challenge: JUST DO IT. Mostly because it’s ridiculous that I’ve been avoiding it for nearly a year and also because it really is standing between me and a thousand other things – all of which require hard drive space and pictures that I can find and use.

So I dove in.

And look what I found!!!

All of my favorite long lost photos! These are some of the first pictures I ever took (and those people above and below? some of my favorites, too!):

I found myself saying over and over again, “OH, I love that one!!!” and remembering exactly how I felt when I took the picture and saw it come alive on my computer screen for the first time. Buying a real camera and taking pictures was a transformational experience for me. I saw God’s love through the beauty of His creation at a time in life when love and beauty felt few and far between. Every picture was magic. I cried when I got my first set of prints back! I saw everything in a new light, and I loved it.

You know what I realized when I saw these old pictures…reluctantly? They’re better than the ones I’m taking now. It’s soooo true. It doesn’t matter that I have 3 additional years of experience, better equipment, and more time on my hands to shoot, because somehow, I forgot. I forgot what it feels like to take a picture and not be afraid of making a mistake because all I did in the beginning was guess and make mistakes. I forgot what it feels like to not see something I “have” to shoot for the blog or for a job, but to see God’s love in the beauty He chooses surround us with. I just plum forgot that I really, truly, LOVE taking pictures.

I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. It’s part of the ebb and flow of creative endeavors. And having high and lows means that I have a maturing relationship with photography, not a stagnant one. But remembering why I loved taking pictures back then helped me see why I haven’t loved it in awhile: photography was, and is, the way I see God’s love in action. When it becomes anything other than that, it becomes less than what it was intended to be. It loses it’s redeeming power.

What a tidy revelation tucked into an action step!

It’s these little lessons that make doing the hard work worthwhile, sometimes even more than the work in and of itself.

(P.s. If any of you know how to mitigate this photo transfer situation, I’d pay you in a lifetime supply of baked goods if you could help me figure it out. For real.)


Have you signed up for The Challenge?! If not, here’s your chance!

1. Comment here or on ANY Making Things Happen Monday Post to let me know that you are doing The Challenge.

2. DO The Challenge! It’s a 10 Step process that will set you up for success in every area of life.

3.  During The Challenge, you will receive email encouragement from me and a nice surprise in the mail when you successfully complete all 10 Steps (and you will successfully complete all 10 Steps!).

4. One lucky duck will win a prize package, announced at the completion of The Challenge.

Time is starting to run out, so let’s get moving!!!

wedding wednesdays : 4.11.12

People…I’m obsessed.


With something other than Instagram. Or at least in equal proportion to Instagram.

I recently stumbled upon I love farm weddings, a beautiful blog dedicated to all things country matrimony. And oh…my…word…my life will never be the same.


I love farm weddings (and p.s., I do love farm weddings!) features farm inspiration, handmade tutorials, and of course…real farm weddings! Here are a few of my favorites:

Country Sugar Events and Jackson Wright Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog

from chelsea + andy’s wedding on i love farm weddings

Honey Heart Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - rustic vineyard wedding

Honey Heart Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - rustic vineyard wedding

Honey Heart Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - rustic vineyard wedding

from abby + courtney’s wedding on i love farm weddings

Lauren Fair Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings - rustic chic barn wedding

Lauren Fair Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings - rustic chic barn wedding

from courtney and lewis’s wedding on i love farm weddings

Ampersand Studios featured on I Love Farm Weddings - farm wedding in Roseberry Idaho

Ampersand Studios featured on I Love Farm Weddings - farm wedding in Roseberry Idaho

from brianna + jeremy’s wedding on i love farm weddings

Laura Ivanova Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - Enchanted Barn Wedding Hillsdale WI

Laura Ivanova Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - Enchanted Barn Wedding Hillsdale WI

Laura Ivanova Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - Enchanted Barn Wedding Hillsdale WI

Laura Ivanova Photography featured on I Love Farm Weddings blog - Enchanted Barn Wedding Hillsdale WI

from shelby + jeff’s wedding on i love farm weddings

Whether you are planning a beautiful wedding or just planning on spending an hour or 5 scrolling through photos of beautiful weddings, I suggest you head over there pronto.

staying real : wedding wednesdays

Life is weird.

As I mentioned in the Southern Weddings post, I used to be highly averse to all things wedding-related. Like, I’d-rather-do-ANYTHING-other-than-be-involved-any-wedding-in-any-capacity, averse.

And now…I just can’t get enough! Perhaps I absorbed it through osmosis over the course of the past few years as I’ve attended, been in, photographed, or assisted in over 50 weddings. But perhaps it’s because I just love love. I love how God uses and honors strong marriages. I love two families melding into one and friends gathering together from near and far. I love beauty and creativity and color and light. And hello, I love dessert.

Clearly, weddings and I are long lost friends. We’re meant to be.

SO, because I routinely have multiple weddings related thoughts and resources that I’m more than eager to share, a new feature is going to appear once a week: Wedding Wednesdays. It will be like Sunday’s Inspired posts – things that I just can’t help but feature because I love them so much – but instead of being varied they’ll only pertain to holy matrimony.

No need to wait for the initial installment…it’s coming….now!

(Also, if some of you are experiencing deja vu, I also did this on my photography blog last year. Here’s a list of those posts!)

wedded bliss : part 1

wedded bliss : part 2

wedded bliss : part 3

wedded bliss : part 4

wedded bliss : part 5

wedded bliss : part 6

beka stays faithful : holding onto what matters

love it

pinned here via here

I hesitated to start writing this because Lord have mercy, we’ve been here before.

But…that’s what this blog is all about, right?

So, grab your waders! We’re heading back into the muddy waters of learning how to stay!

Today was a beautiful day for me. I got to go to a job I love (working at the juice bar). I ate lunch outside at Wegmans. Then I piled groceries into my cart at Wegmans. I made a pie. I delivered a pie. I got to see a family I love. A nice man came and fixed my TV. I ran on the canal at dusk. I had my favorite kind of dinner – picking and choosing between a mountain of fresh produce. I sat on my couch in sweats reading with the windows open.

What’s not to love?

Well, nothing. It was a great day! And I never wished it were any different; I was quite content with how the day unraveled.

But while I was running, I caught myself in a familiar pattern. Thinking about my next career/geographic/relational moves. Thinking about how things might change. Thinking over an endless stream of possibilities that would result in said changes.

I was surrounded by over-the-top beauty, running outside in the middle of March in Rochester, in the midst of a day that made me joyful and grateful and content…and yet my mind was a million miles away, burning rubber trying to whip around a thousand and one curves.

As I ran past an open field I spotted a big crowd of deer in the pasture. It was a moment that Bob Ross would have lovingly depicted on a canvas with streaks of pink sunlight and new spring greenery and “happy clouds.”

And I just felt like God was saying, loud and clear, “YOU ARE MISSING THIS!” You are here, but you aren’t. You are smack dab in the middle of what I’m trying to give you, and you’re missing it.”

Unsurprisingly…he was right.

When I titled this blog “beka stays” I knew it had a deeper meaning than just staying in one location geographically, even though that was the catalyst for it’s creation. The heart of my inability to stay lies in my inability to stay present.

And apparently just because you write a blog about it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Darn it.

So, here’s the thing. This lack of staying power is twofold: on one side, I feel responsible for making the most of my future. So I try to plot it out as best I can because I want to honor what I’ve been given. But the other far more dangerous side is that I fear embracing today in light of the possibility of losing tomorrow.

I don’t want to be too enthusiastic about today because what if tomorrow isn’t quite as good?

I don’t want to love the family I nanny for too much because what if I have to leave them?

I don’t want to invest too much in Rochester because what if I have to move?

I don’t want to dive into thriving with complete reckless abandon because what if nothing changes?

I don’t want to give 100%, of myself to anything because what if it doesn’t work out?

It’s the sad truth.

But then I felt God leading me toward another truth: I don’t get to keep anything forever. Not the place I live or the people I love or the body I inhabit. Anything I tangibly have right now. There will come a time when I don’t possess it.

Except for Him.

He’s the only thing I get to keep.

And for some reason that thought made everything click. It was like someone turned on the lights in my sparsely inhabited brain. “OHHHHHHHH, this. THIS! This is what you mean. This is joy, freedom, peace in the moment – knowing that all I have is You, all I can keep is You, and all I need is You.”

If I can trust that holding onto God means that I’m holding onto the only thing that matters, then everything else falls into it’s proper perspective. Protecting “my” life becomes completely irrelevant. I don’t have to worry about loving too much, giving too much of myself, investing too much into each day. I don’t have to worry about what may or may not lie ahead, how my life might change or who/where/what I could lose, because I know that ultimately, my future is secure.

It seems so simple.

Now if only I could remember it.

good things : kids


pinned here via here

I didn’t think there was anything better than having a 2 year old tell you he loves you and has missed you after a week long vacation.

Until his 4 year old sister hit me with this:

“Beka, when you get married, I’ll be the nanny for my brother.”

“Oh, that’s so nice of you! But who will take care of you?”

“Well, Beka, don’t be silly. I’ll be in college when you get married so I won’t need a nanny.”

Good to know the world is on the same page about my marital status.

But seriously…LOVE IT. Love them. Kids are the best.


beka stays hungry : valentine’s whoopie pies

I think this post is going to be my valentine this year. I love it that much.

My love for whoopie pies knows no bounds. It’s almost as intense as my love for shoo fly pie. But just almost.

Also, why is Pennsylvania fond of naming non-pie desserts as pie? Whoopie pies? Basically hand-held cake. Shoo fly pie? Basically cake with frosting on the bottom. Dear PA, perhaps we need to have a cake vs. pie tutorial. I’ll be happy to provide examples. And help sample.

But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is that Valentine’s baking + Saturday morning + a wonderful friend  =

A pretty perfect day.

These bright red beauties came from a recipe recently featured on Annie’s Eats. As always, she did not disappoint.

Also not disappointing: a free e-book! If you are feeling a bit unprepared for your big Valentine’s date tonight (as in: you have no idea what you’ll be doing 8 hours from now) check out my friend Carrie’s free e-book 101 Cheap Dates. It’s sure to give you the inspiration you need for planning tonight’s festivities (and 100 other exciting date nights, too)!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

beka stays creative : valentine’s day pins

I am not one of those single girls who burns things and cries while watching The Notebook on Valentine’s Day. Far from it. I LOVE this holiday!!!

Which is a little strange since I’m not a big fan of pink and have never dotted my i’s with hearts. But I am a fan of chocolate and love and winter. And chocolate. Therefore: bring on the Valentine’s festivities.

I made a pin board on Pinterest (try to disguise your shock) to corral all of the things that made me feel warm and fuzzy about February 14th. Here are a few of my favorites:

pinned here via here

pinned here via here



pinned here via here

Smores Cookies

pinned here via here

Spread cool whip on a tray and let sit in freezer. Use heart-shaped cookie cutter and place in hot chocolate

pinned here via here


pinned here via here


pinned here via here

pinned here via here


pinned here via here

pinned here via here

Encircled Effulgence Posts

pinned here via here

Spaghetti with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

pinned here via here


pinned here via here

beka stays intelligent : how to love an american man

Every time I say the title of this book I feel obligated to add, “and it’s not as racey as it sounds!”

But really, it’s not as racey as it sounds.

I selected this book first for the one book a month goal based on Jenna’s glowing review on Eat, Live, Run. Here’s the synopsis, from the publisher:

Krissy Gasbarre made a New York career of dating driven, inaccessible men. Her solution—relocationg to Italy for her new English beau and to research the background of her lovably alpha-male, Italian-American grandfather—seemed perfect, until her boyfriend took off for the Middle East…and her grandpa suddenly passed away.

With nowhere left to go, Krissy returned to her small hometown for the first time in a decade to help care for her grandmother—a refined, private matriarch suffering early dementia along with the loss of her husband. In her reluctant agreement to share the nearly-lost love stories and transformative lessons from her rich, 60-year marriage, Krissy’s grandma became the one offering comfort as she coached her granddaughter through the fear of loving and being let down. Grandma’s unapologetic femininity and secret giving spirit would open Krissy’s eyes about relationships, teaching her the single most important requisite for loving a man: first a woman has to learn the power of her own unique beauty.

Like any other sensible female, I was intrigued by Krissy’s hot doctor love interest story of self-discovery (but the hot doctor didn’t hurt the plot, either). I think it’s hard to be a girl in 2012. Sometimes it seems as if there are only two prototypes for today’s successful woman: the CEO or the model. You’ve truly arrived if you have a powerful position of authority or a face/body that lands you on a magazine cover. There are, of course, many exceptions to this rule (just look at all of the wonderful things the Making Things Happen ladies are doing!). And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a CEO or a model. But it can be discouraging at times to see some of the most important traits women possess becoming less and less valued.

Those facts made reading Grandma Glo’s perspective on love all the more refreshing. What stood to me the most were the elements of self-sacrifice so absent from our culture, the idea that you have to know yourself first before you dive headfirst into knowing someone else, and that real femininity is not weakness. It is, in fact, the opposite. Also refreshing: the resurfacing of strong, decisive, caring men. We’ve missed you here in the 21st Century.

This book is a great read for anyone who wants an antidote to the cultural message that women need to be aggressive, in love or any other endeavor. As a popular song states, “Love is not a fight, but it’s something worth fighting for.”

Thanks, Krissy (and Grandma Glo!) for sharing your story. It was a great way to kick off 2012!

(And thanks for being a writer who graduated from college and traveled and nannied and moved back home while struggling to find work. It helps me sleep at night.)

P.s. I’m undecided for a February book. Thoughts?

good things : my parents

My mom is an enthusiastic conversationalist. She usually takes the lead on most of our family phone conversations. But tonight we had a Skype date instead and my dad had a bunch of things to talk about from the get go. This visibly dismayed my mom, and when a break came in the conversation she said, “Well I’d have a few things to add if I could get a word in edgewise!”

To which I couldn’t help but add, “Um, Pot? You’re pretty much calling the kettle black.” (Channeling, of course, Pheboe and Monica.)

My mom said, “Pot! Yeah, who’s the pot now?!”

Then this, from my dad: “No, Martie, pot is something we do at Christmas.”


(And if you’re horribly confused right now – we don’t actually do pot, or any other miscellaneous drugs, at Christmas – just go back and read the post in the hyperlink and everything will make sense.)

I love my parents. Especially today, a year after what started as an unpleasant morning but ended up being the biggest lifesaving blessing in my life to-date. Dad, I’m so grateful that one year later we can Skype and talk about pot. And Mom, I’m glad some things never change. Thank you both for making life so much fun.