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Saturday, November 1, 2014

And That's the Dream.....

It's been awhile. My writings are getting further and further apart. Things have been so complicated and busy! Any free chance that I get, I escape into a sea of Ellen videos and Netflix. You might think that's the life, but in all actuality, it sucks. I sit on a couch and I allow myself to become a third party inside of these movies. Why does it suck? Because after every show or movie I have to convince myself that it's not real, it's not going to happen, and just to frankly get over myself. 

This past year I binged watched a whole bunch of shows on Netflix. To name a few.... Flashpoint, Drop Dead Diva, Scandal (Three times!), Desperate Housewives, NCIS, Boy Meets World, Full House, Saved by the Bell, Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Last Man Standing, Orange is the New Black and an amazing collection of Nicholas Sparks movies! Because of these movies I have imagined myself as a cop, lawyer, fixer, mother, special agent, a popular kid in high school, a pop star, a comedian, a prisoner, and the perfect woman. 

One of the most recent shows that I got in to was "How I Met Your Mother." First of all, I must apologize to those who watched this year after year without the luxury of Netflix! That ending was a horrible conclusion to a brilliantly created show! My favorite character was Barney. Most people that I know might be surprised that my favorite character would be a womanizer with a playbook, but yes.... Barney is one heck of a character to me. First of all, the acting was incredible! To have that much personality was just amazing (If you can't tell, I'm running out of descriptors)! 

In the last season, the gang is preparing for Barney's wedding and all they need is an old bottle of scotch. Well, this scotch is $600 and Lily has discovered a way to steal it from the liquor store. She tells this to Ted who automatically says that he is not going to steal a $600 bottle of scotch and go to jail. Barney overhears this and says to him.....

Barney: Going to jail for your best bro.... That's the dream!
Ted:You're too liberal with the phrase "That's the dream".
Barney:Name one other time I've said that.
Ted:A suit made of prosciutto so you can eat your way naked, that's the dream. A pack of lions fighting a tyrannosaurus, that's the dream. Being able to take a whole year's worth of dumps in one, non-stop twenty-four hour period then not having to dump again for the rest of the year, that's the dream.
Barney:I never said Dump Day was the dream. I said science is this close to a pill.
Ted:There can only be one "the dream"! You're saying it's going to jail for a bro? You're comfortable with that being the one and only dream, forever?
Ted:Great, now you can never use that phrase again. And for me, that's the dream.

A lot of you have heard me do the same exact thing. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing to have a lot of dreams or to change them often, but I'm guilty! Throughout my life I've wanted to be a collection of things... a ballerina, actor, singer, youth minister, preacher, speaker, roadie, camera guy, photographer, interviewer, author and anchor. I've wanted to go to Australia and work with Hillsong, go to Washington and walk through the White House, work with To Write Love on Her Arms, Speak to thousands of teenage girls and tell them that it's going to be okay, work on a movie set, go to Hollywood... And now? My biggest dream in located in Burbank, California on the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show. Why? I want to help people. I want to make people happy. I want to make a difference in the world! 

But I can't. It's just like going on a diet... things get in the way! Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard you try, shit will still hit the fan?! It always does and always will. 

So the question you may be wanting to ask is "Why work for Ellen?" It all started by laughing at her videos. She was funny and I needed that. I needed something to make me laugh and realize that it was okay for me a take a break every once in a while. Then I saw one of her videos where she gave a family an opportunity to see their husband and father who was stationed overseas or another one where she gave a single mother with three jobs $10,000 to help pay the bills. I must have sat on the couch watching these videos for four or five hours. Some of the stories I watched two or three times and cried every dang time. All I wanted to do after watching these videos was do the same exact thing. Help people. Just to have the power and resources to give these people exactly what they needed to get through the next day and be happy makes so much sense to me! Why not?! 

A lot of things have sparked this dream, but the spark became a flame when my family started going through some things this year. With my surgery this summer, the hot water heater accident, the trip to Buffalo for Grandpa's funeral and more... things have been really tight around here. I never noticed it before because I never took the time to really look, but when I came home last weekend to help my mom and dad clean up the mess from the hot water heater.... I saw my parents struggling in a way that broke my heart. I want to be able to give them everything in the whole world, but I can't because I barely have enough to buy groceries and gas. 

No, this is not a pity party. I just want you to know that it's okay to change your dream or to even have more than one dream! Because for me, to help you know that it is okay and to conquer that fear of not being able to be accepted because of your far fetched thoughts and ideas.....

That's the dream. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oh Fiddlesticks....

It's been a short week. 

Usually people would think that is a good thing, but in my case it was not. 

It was a short week with long and trying days as I towered the city of Buffalo, New York. Today was my first day back at Ozarks after a week away. People came up to me asking me where I had been. I would respond with, "New York." They would then look at me as if I chose to take a vacation in the middle of the semester all the while saying, "Lucky you!" It wasn't until the third or forth person that I discovered that I should have led with, "Well, my grandpa passed away so I was in Buffalo, New York for his funeral." 

So in another words, it was a short week. I arrived at 1:30am Thursday morning at The Lockport Inn and Suites to get a refreshing 5 hours of sleep before my alarm would wake me. After showering and putting on my face my Aunt Faye, Mom and I went to my Uncle Dan's house... the house that my Mom grew up in. We walked into the kitchen to see my aunt preparing to bake a pie (she never stops giving to people no matter what life throws her way). Now, my Uncle Dan and Aunt Marianne took care of my grandparents and lived in the same house as them until my grandma needed more assistance from a nursing home and my grandpa passed away. If anyone was having a hard time with everything that was going on, it was them. 

Funeral arrangements were made and my mom and I went to see my grandma. She was doing okay under the circumstances. She's a very strong woman! We sat and listened to her stories and she talked about a book that she helped a man write. My mom and I just sat there trying not to cry, being strong for her. 

At the visitation I saw a whole bunch of people that I didn't know, but they knew me. It was a little weird at first, but then I was okay. Just hearing the stories of how my grandpa affected their lives made my day so much easier. I think the weirdest part was seeing my grandpa laying in the casket. I say weird and not difficult for two reasons: 1) He might of looked peaceful, but I kept waiting for him to sit up and yell, "Boo!" It was weird not seeing him alive and my brain just couldn't comprehend why a perfectly 91 year-young man was taken from us. 2) Grandma wasn't with him. Grandma was at the visitation, but they weren't sitting next to each other holding hands. I kept thinking that grandpa was just laying there wanting to get out to hold his wife's hand! Weird. 

The hard part came during the burial. The horn played and the flag was given to grandma. The funeral home director told us that he would take care of the rest and we were all dismissed. I looked at this beautiful casket knowing that my grandfather was inside and knowing that the next time I would visit this spot he would be six feet below me. I started to cry as my mom put her hand on the casket and said, "Goodbye Dad." 

The next few days were spent catching up with family and seeing everyone after such a long time away from home. I got to spend one last time with my grandma and it was amazing. She taught me how to play Rummy and I think she might have let me win! She would keep picking up cards (which is not something you want to do in the game of rummy) and scanning the piles in front of her until she realized that her cards weren't useful. Her expression was "Oh fiddlesticks!" I looked at her and laughed as I began to realize that that was probably the last visit that I would have with her. It was her "Wedding Night advice", (another post will be written about this advice!) Bingo lottery ticket scratching skills, and her funny stories that made me want to stay and never leave! Grandma and Grandpa have these amazing stories and I get to tell them.

That one person was right though, I am lucky. I was lucky for the times that I got to see my grandma and grandpa. He was a funny man, loving man, wonderful man. And she is a beautiful woman, wise woman, and caring woman. When people kept coming up to me after hearing the news, they would say things like, "He's in a better place" or "He's no longer in pain" but my Grandpa gave me the most comfort when he told my Uncle Dan before he died: "When it's my time to go, it means God needs help fixing the pearly gates." That character in my grandpa will always be a part of me and I will never be able to thank him enough for the way he raised me through his wonderful daughter. 

As much as I wished that my grandma and grandpa would die together as the couple in "The Notebook" did, I must realize the hardest thing yet. Life is not some perfectly written out novel, but it's a messed up masterpiece with a whole bunch of jumbled up cards, plays, and moves. Sometimes we just want to shout, "Oh fiddlesticks!", but my friends... we still have a chance to continue the plays that have been put out before us. Let's add to the piles and rejoice in the opportunities put in our path. 

I love you Grandma and Grandpa. Your love story is so much more perfect than any Nicholas Sparks book I know! 

Grandma receiving the flag at the burial service

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Big Red Wagon

This post is an accumulation of events that have occurred in the past week.

Friday, September 5th: I left The Battle on 64 and went back to my apartment with all the intentions of doing homework. Somehow, I managed to convince myself that my homework and photo editing could wait until the morning. Without the knowledge of How I Met Your Mother being on Netflix, I turned to my Amazon Prime account and purchased what I would soon discover to be the best movie I've seen in a long time. The Fault in Our Stars was incredible! I haven't cried that much during a movie since My Girl. For those of you that don't know.... The movie is about a cancer patient and her struggles with a love story twist.

Tuesday, September 9th: For my Backpack Journalism class we were asked to create a "character-driven story" and I was completely blank. I couldn't think of any good ideas until I got on Facebook and saw a status that stood out among the others. It was a status written by April Townsend, a wonderful student at the University of the Ozarks. She has a disability called Spina Bifida. This disability may put her in a wheelchair, but it in no way limits her abilities to be the amazing character that she is. 

Thursday, September 11th: This day will always be remembered as 9/11 in the hearts of many Americans, but for me it will be known as the day that I finally realized the most important thing a human could realize. I wanted to get a head start on my story for Backpack Journalism so I made an appointment with the Program Coordinator for the Spina Bifida Clinic at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. I did what any good student would do and left way before the appointment to make sure that I would arrive on time. Not only did I arrive on time, but I arrived an hour early. I sat in the parking lot looking at that building and brainstorming  a few more questions that I might have for the interview. With about 30 more minutes left, I got out of my car, locked the door and went to get my gear out of trunk. It was the moment that I was standing in front of my trunk when I realized that my keys were locked in my car. I looked at the wet ground and my beautiful tan shorts and I knew what I had to do. I, Becca Phillips had to find the spare car keys magnetized underneath my car. Luckily, it was found in the nick of time and I was successfully 20 minutes early for the interview. 

I sat on a bench in the lobby of the hospital watching the patients go in a out of the hospital. Some were wearing face masks, others with IV's, and then... I saw it. A big red wagon. I thought to myself that that particular parent was smart for bring fun to this child's appointment until I saw another one and another one and yet another one. The big red wagons were everywhere! They were carrying sick children, gifts, clothes, belongings, and more. I saw one family leaving with a wagon full of gifts and suitcases only to realize that for a short period of time this child's address was 1 Children's Way in Little Rock, Arkansas.

With about 15 minutes left before the interview started, I headed to the front counter. The lady called the PR worker that was going to direct me to my interview and I stood there at the counter waiting. I looked to my left and saw a girl in a wheelchair wrapped in a blanket coming around the corner and approaching the counter. I smiled at her as I noticed her hair was completely gone and she had a big red wagon full of suitcases and belongings. The first thing that I thought about was the movie that I recently watched. I kept repeating to myself, "That wasn't just a movie" over and over in my head until it finally sunk into my head. That wasn't just a movie.

Saturday, September 13th: I'm still thinking about that girl and wondering what her story is. "How long has she been fighting? Are her appointments going well? Does she have friends that she's going back home to?" My brain can't stop thinking about how shallow my thoughts have been over the past few years. Most of you know that I love a good movie and that I love to create videos any chance that I get, but there's something about being behind the camera that separates the story from the Editor. I'm always thinking about the best shot, sound bite, angle, anything! Every single time I become a little more proud of the product that I create, but not right now. I'm not proud of who I've become over the past few years. I'm not proud of the person that I've turned into a well-oiled production. How long was it going to take for me to realize that I have made real life people into well developed stories. Was I really getting a message out there? 

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a fellow producer-canidate when I said something that I've never said out loud before. I've worked on some productions over the years and even got to meet some pretty incredible people along the way. When I was younger working at some of the church productions I would stand behind my boss and watch over his shoulder as he worked his production genius. I went to college with this idea in my mind that I could continue living my life standing behind someone's shoulder watching them work their production magic. I never expected I could be the person in the chair. I get so nervous and I know that I'm going to do something wrong or even worse, I'll break something. So I did something about that last year and decided to become a producer. This year, we are expected to do so much more before we get our producer status again. Who would have thought that more responsibility would come with getting older?! Crazy, right?! 

This Wednesday I will be exercising my knowledge of KUOZ by being a producer for the Walton Arts and Ideas Series event. Granted, this should be a fairly easy production, but I'm super nervous about being the one sitting in the chair. I mean, give me a youth group event or a Bible study and I'll prepare for it in record time, but this... I kinda thought I could avoid being the person in charge for as long as possible. Guess it's time for me to step up and unload my Big Red Wagon of knowledge from all those years of watching. Let's see what Becca can do! 

Wish me Luck!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All that Junk Up in that Trunk

It's taken me awhile to continue this series. For those of you that don't know, two weeks ago I was taken to the hospital. Long story short, I had some surgery that fixed a lot of problems that I've been dealing with for years. I've been recovering ever since, but now I'm back and ready to continue sharing my story with you.

Part Four of "My Calling" Series...

I was sitting in Mr. Owen's math class when a girl walks in to the classroom. She was a new student and everyone stared at her wondering what her story was. She sat down next to me as she explained where she came from. She evacuated from New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I looked at her and shouted, "I remember you!" Our church adopted families after the hurricane (two years before) and my family bought supplies for her family. Since that moment in math class, we became instant friends. 

Eighth grade brought me a lot of challenges. I dealt with gaining friends as well as losing some. I learned lessons the hard way and discovered what depression really meant. I was still really involved in church, but with Laura gone at college I felt alone. I wanted so much to have a girl friend that understood my brain and the way that I thought about things. 

I had been going to a lot of different youth retreats and camps over the past two years and I started to notice a pattern. Worship leaders and preachers would always talk about bringing all your problems to God. Now, I knew that I had a lot of things that were going wrong in my life, but I was content. I started to feel like the odd one out at these events so I would think really hard about the events of my life and pick out my "bad hair days." 

My conversations with God started to sound ungrateful and selfish. Instead of thanking God for the good things in my life, I prayed for the bad things to either go away or shape me into a decent person. I began to hate who I was. I let people shape me into a person that I didn't want to be all so I could "fit in" at these church camps. I didn't know how to act or behave because I was allowing myself to be who God wanted me to be. 

My question is this: Do we as ministers of God, focus more on people bringing their junk to church and unloading? I look at the great commission as Jesus tells us to go out in the world and make disciples. Do we make disciples by guilting people into thinking their life is full of crap? It's easier to convince a person that their life is so messed up that they need Jesus to save them instead of assuring them that the wonderful things that do happen in their life happen because of God's grace and Jesus' sacrifice. What part of our relationship with God is more important?

When I thought that God was only there to help me with my problems instead of also being there in my joys and triumphs, I treated God like vending machine. I put in what I had to in order to get a high from worship. Enough to make me feel good about myself. 

Our job as ministers of Christ is not to "condemn, convict or convert" but instead it is our job to create space for God to do those things. How can we create that space?

God Bless,

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Imaginary Torch...

Part Three of "My Calling" Series....

Tanako was my foot in the door to understanding who God really was. I remember stepping into the minivan leaving the gate of the camp and going back home thinking that I was leaving the only place that I could worship at. When I walked in the garage door of my house, I was greeted by my sister making fun of me and my family critiquing every move that I made. It was common for them to say something a long the lines of, “That’s a real Christian thing to do!” It ate me up inside for a real long time until I finally told them that one week at camp wasn’t going to be a cure for me to be a perfect Christian. I don’t think it was until I left for college that they really understood that.

7th grade was the first year that I could join in the youth group. I was so pumped! I had been waiting for this day ever since Abby started going to youth. When I wasn’t old enough to stay at home alone, I would go to work with my mom at the church. She shared her office with Mike Meeks. He was new and each day I sat next to him as he did his work and asked him a million and one questions. He showed me funny videos and projects that he was working on and got me really excited to be involved in church.

My very first youth meeting was in the middle of the summer. We had a movie night in the youth room and watched “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” I laid on the futon mattress surrounded by other youth around the room. In the back of the room was Mike sitting in a metal folding chair yelling at the TV for everything that was happening! There were only two things that I was thinking about that night. One was that this guy was even crazier than I thought he was and two was that I really had to fart. What can I say? I was in the middle school! Might as well be honest here!

The whole entire school year was filled with new experiences and some heart breaking moments. I was as involved at a 7th grader could be! My sister stopped coming to youth so I was once again alone. There were a lot of people there, but I didn’t really fit in with any of them.

One night at Wednesday Night Ignite, I was leaving Bible study and going to worship. The senior high students were still in Bible study so we ran around like the crazy fools we were. I was not feeling that well that night and stood in the back of the room before worship started. One of the 6th graders came up to me with a pen and decided that my arm was a coloring sheet. She inked up my whole entire arm as I was trying not to scream in pain. I started to cry a little bit, but I didn’t want to look like a baby so I kept it in until I got home. One of the first things I did when I got home was go on Facebook. I logged on and there it was… a message that saved my life. Laura Barito, a senior in high school told me that if I ever needed anything that she would be there for me. Well, I took her up on that offer and had an amazing friendship with her! Because my sister and I never got along, she became a sister figure to me.

A few months later, she was getting ready to graduate. The youth group sat in the youth room one day before she left for Stevens University. We had a slideshow of pictures in which we rarely saw her face! (She was always hiding from the camera!). And then Mike gave a little speech about moving on to the next steps in your life. He gave her the job of passing the torch on to someone in the youth group and she did. She gave the flame to Bobb, her brother, and the handle to me. After the party, I gave her a graduation present… a bag of purple skittles with a note. At the end of the note I signed off with “That loser…. Becca.” She read the note, looked at me and laid the paper on the ground as she ripped the words “That loser” off and threw it away. She told me to “be Becca and no one else because Becca is not a loser.”

I took the responsibility of holding on to the imaginary torch handle throughout my time in youth. It taught me one too many lessons about moving forward, getting off my high horse, and last but not least… remembering who I am. 7th grade was tough, but a few years later after I realized that I survived… I learned that my God is tougher.

God Bless,


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not of this World...

Part Two of "My Calling" Series...

It was 8 years ago when I was standing in the back of the outdoor chapel at Tanako. I had never been to a service that wasn’t led by an organ before. I kept thinking to myself, “This is church?” What was even more confusing was the emotions that I experienced at each worship service. Some of the older girls would cry and look for comfort in each other while I stood there thinking that I was in the midst of a cult!

The last night we had worship we were all gathered together and I was standing next to a few of the girls I had become friends with that week. It was all unplugged music with the lyrics on the screen. I looked up at the screen to see a blue background with a silhouette of a hand in the center. The lyrics in front read, “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God.” That night was different than all the others. I started crying uncontrollably and didn’t know what to do. Before I knew it I had all these girls were surrounding me and giving me hugs. After the song was over, the singer announced that the night was over and if we wanted to go back to our cabins, we could. I bolted out of that chapel as fast as I could, hoping that Mike wouldn’t see me crying. At this point, I had not been in youth. This was my very first activity as a youth so he barely knew me and what he was going to face for the next six years.

There was the rule that we couldn’t go inside of the cabin without our cabin counselor so I sat on the steps waiting for Stackey to arrive. The girls came up to me again asking me why I was crying. My only response was that I was overjoyed that I finally made friends. “I’ve never had real friends before, and now I do.” That sentence was followed by hugs and more tears as we went back into the cabin for more stories and activities.

I’ll always remember that night as the gateway to my relationship with God. I was worried about so many things that night and as soon as I met God… it all disappeared. The ugly outfit I had to wear to the dance, the fact that I didn’t pack my flip flops and had to wear tennis shoes all week, the cute boy that didn’t notice me, and the youth minister that had no idea what he was getting himself into.

This was my beginning into an exciting time in my life. The theme for camp that week was “Not of this World.” I remember before we left camp that Mike said, “Remember the progress you’ve made in here. The world didn’t stop for the week you were in here. It was still going on and people won’t understand what you’ve truly seen and experienced.” I never knew what that really meant until I was dean of that camp six years later and said that same exact thing to the campers that put an imprint on my heart. 

I could continue with what happened when I got home, but I’ll save that for the next part… Until then…

God Bless,

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)"

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Hannah Montana Experience: Best of Both Worlds

If you follow my blog on a regular basis you know how I was raised. Every Sunday morning when I was growing up we would start the day at First United Methodist Church of Arkadelphia in the third pew on the right hand side. Every Sunday my mother would sit between my sister and I so we wouldn’t bicker with each other. Every Sunday after the service was over I would hand an offering envelope with a drawing on it to our pastor. Every. Sunday.

I recently read this post that a man who had some very strong opinions about contemporary worship wrote. Did I mention it was extremely one-sided? It was something that I couldn’t believe that I was reading. Although, I can relate because of the very evident conflict between contemporary and traditional in my home church of Arkadelphia when we proposed the idea of a contemporary service. A few of the arguments were, “It’s too loud, too expensive, too much…” It gave me an extremely horrible view on the traditional service. I expected the tradition to stay in the service, not the people. It was a foreign concept to me, the expectations of a Christian dissipated when these arguments were going on. We would stand in the sanctuary and sing songs called, “Here I am Lord” and “We are the Church” and then bash a person for worshiping in a different way. Does this make sense?

I was thinking about God and how he showed up in the major prophet’s lives. Did he use a burning bush every time? Of course not. Different people needed different things to understand God. So when I was in 7th grade and discovered God through contemporary worship, I fell in love with the faith growing inside of me. I might have been dealing with some heavy stuff, but on Wednesday and Sunday nights, I knew that I could let go, sing freely, and lift my hands to my Savior, my God.

This week the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministry is in Clarksville at University of the Ozarks having their Junior High and Senior High Assembly camps. I was one of those youth that was involved with every event and making it happen and I loved every part of it. The senior high camp has a theme for the week called “Old School: Remembering the excitement of your faith when it was new.” I was excited that I was going to be in town and be able to attend the worship services for this event. Not only was I able to see all of my old friends, but I also got the chance to remember the excitement of my faith when it was new.

When do I hear God the loudest? When I’m standing in a room with the house lights down, stage lights up, music so loud I can’t hear myself sing, and the freedom to lift my hands and praise God! I never felt like I was able to do that when I was in traditional worship. I felt like I would be “out of bounds” or “the weird person.” When I felt like I couldn’t be myself in worship, I knew that something was wrong.

I got what I like to call the “Hannah Montana Experience” I was raised traditional, but then able to experience the contemporary worship movement. I got the best of both worlds! I will always hold my hymnal close to my heart, but if I wasn’t given the opportunity to sit behind a shaky laptop stand in a metal folding chair, my faith wouldn’t be where it is today. If you’ve never been in a contemporary service or opened yourself up to experience similar, you have no room to talk about what I feel or don’t feel in worship. It’s not a “passive non-involved activity” that I participate in. It’s how I hear God. It’s how I reconnect with the one who gave me life. It’s where I get to communicate with God on a personal level and if that offends you, read the words that are in your hymnal. They say the same things, in a different language and tone with different concepts.

At the end of the day…. We all worship ONE GOD. I would really like to believe that’s all that matters.

In the next few posts that I write, I’m going to be talking about how came into the calling of ministry. I would like to say it was one big moment, but it was a whole bunch of little ones that I can’t wait to share with you in the future.

God Bless,