October / Rebekah
Updated: May 5
Name: Rebekah J.
Lives in: Lexington, KY
Alma mater: Bluegrass Community & Technical College in Lexington, KY
Studied: Early Childhood
Takes her coffee: Black with cream
Last book read: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Responsible for: Teaching, leading, planning activities, and caring for three-year-olds in a classroom setting.
SIB: As a Reggio Emilia teacher, your job is to help your students to discover and express themselves without judgment. How can adults can apply that same philosophy to their lives?
RJ: Removing the end result for some things. Sometimes it's good to have a goal, but focus more on the journey. You might end up somewhere different than what you thought in the beginning, but what you experience is so much better.
SIB: How do you handle conflict between kids?
RJ: Every child responds differently. I've had to grow in this area because sometimes it's like I've overlooked the child and gone straight to the peace and quiet that I want. So I've had to learn to [control] my tone of voice. Validating how the kids feel is super important. When you let go of your impatience and respect why they're feeling that way, you get to learn a lot about them and they get to learn a lot about you.
Oftentimes, I will try to let them work it out. They don't always, but when they do, I'm like, "Whoa." If I had stepped in, they wouldn't have worked it out the way that they needed to in that moment.
SIB: Jesus said His followers should "become like little children." As someone who works extensively with children, what does that mean to you?
RJ: They are really quick to forgive. It really is a lesson for me of how I can become more empathetic or understanding. Those types of feelings don't come naturally sometimes.
SIB: Most twenty-something women either find a roommate or move in with their parents, but you opted to room with a non-related family. Tell me about that decision!
RJ: This move was different in every way because it was focused on financial discipleship. The people that I'm living with are very oriented around financial peace and getting out of debt. I had the American mindset of, "You go into debt. That's what you do." Hannah and Butch [don't charge] rent but expect me to pay [what I would pay in rent toward] student loans. Something shifted where I was excited to get to pay the loans off. It's allowed me to see how the Lord blesses you when you are a good steward of the blessings He's given you.
SIB: What other financial tips have you learned from your roommates? RJ: It comes down to small things. Grocery shopping, gas. I've minimized my trips to and from town. The way I lived, you would think that I bought food to let it rot. I've started to realize I do that and I only purchase what I know I'm going to eat in the next couple of days. I [also] started using Dave Ramsey's EveryDollar app. Obviously I'm not going to always get it right, but I am more conscientious of it.
SIB: Community is super important to you. Do you think it can be created or that is just happens on its own? RJ: I think it happens naturally for me. I am extroverted and so it's easy for me to cultivate that kind of lifestyle with people. It's easy to make the friends. It's easy to share. What's hard for me is continuing the sharing when I am going through a hard season. Making sure that someone or a group of really close friends knows what's going on with me.
SIB: What makes sharing difficult for you? RJ: I tend to be a more open book, but I've had to learn how to filter my thoughts on some things, because they aren't respected from different people. Starting new groups of Bible study is sometimes hard for me because I'm like, "I want to share my struggles, but I don't want to dive too deep." Following the Holy Spirit in that realm is really important because you don't want to be open to people who aren't gonna love you through [your struggles]. Thankfully, I have a group of people in my life now that do. There's a couple of friends I trust wholeheartedly, and [with them] it's easy for me to give it all.
SIB: What's your advice on finding a solid church for that spiritual community?
RJ: It really comes down to relationships for me. When I found what now is Commonwealth City Church, the intentionality really stuck out. My very first week, several people [introduced] themselves to me. With this body of people, all of them seemed wholeheartedly interested in knowing me. I also was invited by a couple who I've known for a long time, and their walk with the Lord is so apparent. Knowing that they went to this church told me, "They trust these people."
SIB: What triggers your anxiety?
RJ: Pleasing people has paralyzed a lot of things for me. Especially my walk with the Lord. If I'm [struggling with] something, I feel like I have to pay this penance before I have a conversation with God. But [He's] never like that.
I think this is the first season of life where I've decided that it's okay [to wrestle with anxiety]. I'm learning so much through my job. I've learned how to validate my own feelings - not keep them there, but work through them. The process of walking through anxiety is what's more important to me now.
SIB: You mentioned that music helps uplift you. What music are you into right now? RJ: Oh man, there's so many. Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Allman Brothers. It feeds the old soul in me. Currently I was introduced to Manchester Orchestra. I am all about how I feel when I listen to music. It's not just background noise. So listening to raw music that comes from a real story is super important to me.
SIB: Do you write music? RJ: More so just lyrics. I have a notebook that I write down things that I've thought or that people have said to me. It is hard because you're like, "It doesn't sound [how I want it to]." But you're writing music. That means something.
SIB: You're a super creative person. What's another art form that you enjoy? RJ: I enjoy painting. The last thing that I painted was this giant canvas of hues of blue and gold and white. I used to [feel] like I couldn't gain any inspiration out of my own head, but then I started to realize - I just enjoy color. I love paintings of all different types, but I most enjoy the comfort of blended colors.
SIB: You said that eating well helps you to feel better mentally. What are some good healthy snacks that you enjoy? RJ: Putting granola into yogurt is a really yummy, healthy snack. I like roasted vegetables. Berries of all sorts. [For hiking], I bring a lot of granola bars. I like Clif bars. They're delicious. And Kind bars. Mixed nuts. Trail mix. Things that are going to give me sustenance as I'm burning off all the energy. I do like fun snacks too that maybe aren't so healthy, but those are just for once I get to the top [of the trail]!
SIB: It's finally starting to feel (and look) like fall! What do you love best about this season?
RJ: I think there's this unique anticipation that comes with fall. A new season of school, a new season of something starting over again. It sparks new thoughts. It sparks old thoughts that I forgot that I had. I love the smells of fall. I love the colors. I think my favorite time hiking is in the fall.
SIB: What are your secrets to a great hiking experience? RJ: If you're hiking with someone, [take] someone who equally enjoys it. Almost every hike that I've gone on with one or two people has always sparked deeper conversation. I love that because I want to get to know people deeper.
I've hiked a few times by myself in the [Red River] Gorge, and going early is imperative for my enjoyment - the calmness before you feel like anyone's awake. The last time I hiked by myself was a sunrise hike. When I got to where I wanted to be, I put a hammock up and fell asleep. When I woke up I was refreshed. I [felt] like I [could] have an out loud conversation with the Lord if I wanted to. That connection with nature always cultivates connecting with the Lord for me.
SIB: What's your favorite fall clothing trend? RJ: Oversized sweaters and jeans. I like booties. I like hats like toboggans or Saatchi hats. I like big flannel shirts too. It's the most comfy.
SIB: When your emotions are worn, how do you care for your friends without getting burned out yourself?
RJ: It's a really hard balance, especially for people who are extroverted like me and want to give everything. But if you don't take a step back sometimes, you're no longer there for them the way that you need to be, or the way that they need you to be. I've learned recently, just because someone shares something doesn't mean that that's a segue for me to dump what I'm going through. It's important to know when to just listen. It's imperative in relationships to give and take.
SIB: How can you celebrate other people's successes while staying content yourself? RJ: Having a grounded relationship with the Lord has helped me. When I have quiet time, I know I'm secure in who I am in Him. If I'm confident in myself, I can share that confidence and hopefully help someone feel that way about [herself]. It's so important to have support and to be support for people.
SIB: There are so many negative messages in the world. Where do you find positive and affirming messages? RJ: I'm still trying to figure that out because for me, I'm a big feeler and it's hard to get out of a funk if I'm feeling crappy. It's hard to switch my mindset. So when that happens, I just fall at the Lord's feet, like, "Please speak into me what You want me to know."
SIB: What are the things that you love about yourself? RJ: I love my compassion for people. My desire to serve someone well - that's the good side of wanting to please people. I like my nose, and I like my legs. When I'm around good people for me, I love who I become.
SIB: Lastly, what does balance mean to you? RJ: Balance for me is a fluid thing. Each season is different and demands different things. I'm still trying to find balance for new things by being transparent with those who are close to me, setting boundaries for things I tend to binge, and allowing change to happen organically.