Celebrating 32 Years

Yes, I do realize my birthday was in July .... but I haven't posted about it and wanted to.

Each year I seem to have three birthday celebrations: one with Dave's family (there are 3 birthdays in July so we all celebrate together), one with my family and one with my girlfriends.

Last year I asked a friend to come and take some pictures of us before we all went to dinner and this year I wanted to take some pictures again. However, I thought it would be fun to make flower crowns this year. I have no idea where this idea came from either but it was in my head so I made it happen.

If you are in the Wichita area Chisholm Creek Flower Farm has some amazing flowers! I drove up there and purchased a bucket of flowers which was way more than I needed, which just meant I had extra to give away and to put in a vase. To make the crowns I followed the tutorial in the Cut Flower Garden book. If you don't have that book you should buy it like yesterday. It's so good!

My friend Melissa took these photos and she did a lovely job! I highly recommend her for pictures if you are in the Wichita area. You can check out her website, Melissa Dinsmore Photography, to see more of her work.

It should also be noted that rompers and dresses aren't ideal for jumping pictures. However, they are the most hilarious ones! Sadly though, I can't post them on the world wide web because they are too revealing. =)

These pictures were taken with my camera but I did indeed make Speedy wear a flower crown too. She was definitely my favorite birthday gift this year. 

How do you celebrate your birthday? And have you ever made flower crowns?! 


Monument Rocks, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Kansas

Back in July, Dave and I went to Colorado to celebrate my birthday and on the way home we stopped at Monument Rocks. I had never been here before and it was a fun place to trek around. Monument Rocks is located south of I-70, near Oakley. It is a bit off the beaten track but is a really pretty drive of wide open spaces. 

Monument Rocks are listed as one of the eight wonders of Kansas. The rocks are layers of chalk and are 70 feet tall.  They are located near Oakley, Kansas on private property but the owners have opened their land to the public. Cattle also share the land so that was fun to see lots of cows roaming around.

The rock formations themselves are pretty neat and it is kind of fun that this is out in the middle of nowhere. It makes for a fun little trip when driving to / or from Colorado. 

If you have been to Monument Rocks what did you think? Do you take little side trips when you are traveling? 


Things I'm Loving & Things I'm Not Loving

Today I thought I'd do a little roundup of some of the things I'm loving lately and things I'm not loving!


-These H&M t-shirts!

My friend and I found them in Kansas City and I purchased two. Then, I found them again in Seattle and purchased two more followed by two more in Idaho....I clearly have issues. However, they are long and comfortable and can be worn with jeans, leggings or dressed up and they are such a good deal.

-Old Navy Jegging Jeans

And if you think I had issues with the shirts you'll probably clearly think I have issues with jeggings that have an elastic waist band. But seriously! So so comfortable and they don't show your butt crack when you bendover, no muffin top and they don't require a belt. I own three pair and I'm not one bit sorry!

-Heeler Haven Facebook page

I wrote a little bit about this Facebook page when I shared how I got our puppy but I find this dog page so fascinating. It's all about blue heelers so it is really interesting to see what everyone shares about this breed. For the most part it is drama free unless people have a random WWIII FB fights over whether or not you should let your dog out during the eclipse..... *insert emoji eye roll here. Other than the occassional drama it really is a good support group to ask questions and learn. And then we have somewhere to post about our dogs instead of our normal FB page where it might annoy everyone.


Romper, the name itself is odd. I'll admit, when these first came out I thought they were the most hideous outfits of all time, and then a couple of years later I purchased one and I went to the dark side and now love them. I got a black romper with sleeves at Gap and it's so comfy! You can see it right here.

-Flowers from my garden

The picture below is my favorite bouquet from my garden! It's basil and zinnias and is so cheery. If you are wanting flowers for your garden I highly recommend planting basil and zinnias as both are so incredibly easy to grow and they hold up well in a vase. 



Seriously! Are you all trying to make us vomit? Who invented it? I'm just going to call it 'barferang'. I'm pretty sure Amanda and Michelle would protest this with me, right? All the shaky and weirdness from those 3-5 second clips is nauseating. And if you don't know what Boomerang is count yourself lucky. 


Ew! I'm guessing the same person who invented Boomerang also invented pumpkin spice lattes. The name of it, the smell and everything about it is wrong. Why would you do that to coffee? And yes, I guess I will still be your friend if you like everything PSL (just don't bring it to my house, okay? ;) ). 

-Christmas Decor

Why oh why are the stores already selling Thanksgiving and Christmas decor? It is technically still summer! I feel like they rush the seasons. I do love Thanksgiving and Christmas but I want to savor each season thoroughly. How do you feel about all of this? 

Now it's your turn! What is something you love and something you don't love?! 


Watermelon Basil Refreshers

I know most people are back in school but to me it still feels like summer. It's warm outside and summer garden veggies and fruits are at their peak right now.

Every summer, I basically have two recipes that I make all the time. One is one pot pasta (I modify this recipe right here) and the other is watermelon basil water.

This recipe is super easy to make and is so so tasty. And if you are wondering if basil in watermelon sounds odd, just trust me and give it a try. It's so good!


-1 watermelon (either a large one or a mini one will do. I would do a mini one for your first batch. Plus, I think those have a stronger flavor than the large ones)
-1 to 2 cups of loose basil
-1 c. water


-Chop the watermelon into pieces and place in blender with 1/2 c. water and blend until smooth
-Strain the watermelon
-Place basil into the juice and put in refrigerator for 8-10 hours before drinking

What's your favorite drink during the summer time?


Life Lately #35

I haven’t done a little life lately update post in so long so I figure I check in with you all today. 

For starters, my birthday came and went so quickly. It was fun though! My favorite birthday present was Speedy. Also, me and my girlfriends made flower crowns and did a photo shoot and that was a lot of fun too. 

I’m loving this summer weather! It’s warm and I love being outdoors and at the pool. I planted a garden this year and I’ve worked in it just about every single day. It’s been a fun hobby and challenge. 

For some reason I ended up with I believe, 8-9 basil plants and I have basil growing out my ears. I have given a bunch of it away and I managed to make 48 ounces of pesto the other day. I don’t know what made me think planting so many basil plants was a good idea but holy basil, it’s everywhere! 

I have 4 garden beds this year and here is what I have planted: 

-swiss chard
-and a few other cut flower garden items

It’s been fun to grow a garden this year and not have it ripped out due to plumbing issues, unlike last year. =) 

Swimming Laps

This summer I have felt the urge to swim, swim, swim! I’ve been swimming a lot of laps at work and at our neighborhood pool. It’s a really good workout and great on the joints too. Does anyone else out there like to swim laps? 


I know I already shared how we got Speedy but I feel like the last 1+ month of my life has revolved around her. We’ve working really hard to train her now so she will be a good dog when she grows up. Plus, it’s fun to train a puppy and watch them learn and grow so quickly. 

I’m still plugging away at my photography business. It isn’t a full time gig, barely a part time one actually but that’s okay. It takes time to build up clients and I am really enjoying the photo shoots I am doing. 

I work at the Y still two mornings a week and at the end of this month I will start babysitting my friend’s kid two days a week. I think the change of pace this fall with baysittiing will be a welcome change.  


Dave and I traveled to Colorado this month and had such a great time. We saw some neat sights in Denver and hiked the tallest mountain in Colorado.

I’m currently in flight to Idaho. I am going to see my sister and her family and then we will go to Washington with them to see my brother and his family. I love love love family time and it always goes way too fast. BUT I’m super thankful I can travel to see family and I’m really looking forward to hugging on my nephews and niece.  

How have YOU been this summer? What is your favorite things about summer? And if you are counting down the days until pumpkin spice lates please don’t speak to me. ;)  


A New Blog Design! Wahoo!

If you stopped by the blog last week and read the story of how we got Speedy you probably noticed my horrible blog layout / design. If you haven't read how we got Speedy you should click right here and read it. It's a neat story. Anyways, my blog design disaster happened because Photobucket (who hosted my design pictures) decided to start charging for that service and they wanted I think around $399 a year and I said, no thanks!

So, after having the same layout since 2013, I decided it was time for a refresh and I'm really happy with my blog design. It's a perfect balance of simplicity and flowers, which I love both. I purchased it from Pretty Wild Things and Serena did such a lovely job.

The pictures toward the top of the blog are my latest posts. You can click on those pictures to head to those posts. The right side has links to my social media sites and there is even a spot to click on where it will take you to my photography page. So fun! The bottom of the blog has my Instagram pictures, which is nice to have them their so they aren't so prominent on the sidebar. I think everything is working on here but if not, please let me know. I still plan to edit some of the pages but that will come with time.


How we got Speedy - Our New Puppy

I want to take a moment before I share how we got Speedy and say a really big thank you to everyone who walked us through those hard days when we said bye to Static. I remember just praying that God would give us strength and help and He really did.


Thoughts from Someone who Isn't a Mom Yet

Dave and I are four years into marriage and we still don't have kids. Yes, I know you know that. I'm okay with that too...it just seems like a lot of other people aren't okay with that, and they are getting vocal about it.

I've always heard of people saying you should be aware of comments you make around people who are infertile or who have miscarriages but what about those of us who aren't moms yet because we aren't at that stage in life yet? It honestly never used to bother me but this year it has. People have said the oddest things and seem to constantly be inquiring about when we are going to start a family. That's always such a weird question to be asked. What do I say, "Um ... Let me go home and work on that one...?"


Saying Bye to our Sweet dog Static

Yesterday we had to tell our sweet dog Static bye and put her down. I knew it would be hard but it is so much harder than I thought.

It's strange how an animal that can't even talk can fill such a big place in my heart and in our family. And now that she is gone it just feels so sad.

Dave got Static in 2004. It was a hard time in their lives where they needed a new dog. Dave was driving home and saw some dog cross the road and thought she wasn't smart and would get run over. He came back to that same spot later in the day for something work related and she managed to go into the building. He brought her home and thought if she ended up being bad they would just take her to the humane society. Well, he never had to do that because he kept her for the last 13 years.


Winning The Lost for Jesus

I have the following written in the front of my Bible: "There are two things that will last forever: The Word of God and the souls of men." 

And friends, those two things are so so true. My thoughts are kind of all over the place with this post so bare with me, ok?

When we were in Burma (and also when I lived in Korea) it was so easy to tell people about Jesus. Kids who had never heard the name of Jesus soaked up stories about Him and learned at a young age to love Him. Basically, time and time again it was easy to share Christ there. Then, I moved home. And you guys, America is a whole different kind of mission field but let me tell you, America needs Jesus!

One of my biggest fears was to live in America and to lose sight of the real fact that people in Wichita, KS need Jesus. I began to pray that God would give me a real burden for the lost in this town and I can tell you that God indeed is doing that work in my heart, and I praise Him for it.


Pensacola Beach Pictures

If photographers have one crime it would be that they aren't in front of the lens enough. It's fun to take pictures but we often forget that in 50 years people will want to see us in those pictures too. So, while in Pensacola I hired our awesome photographer, Naomi, who did our wedding photos to come and take some pictures of us.

It should also be noted that 45 minutes prior to these pictures the Univeristy of West Georgia had just finished their daily 10am - 5pm drinking escapade that ended with a fight and police involved. After that though, the beach cleared out real quick and we got to take pictures without 50 million people in them.

These pictures were fun to take and Dave was a good sport about it. I had him wear comfortable clothes because guys take pictures much better when they are comfortable. That's just a free tip for you.

I got these pictures printed in a soft cover book by Artifact Uprising and the quality was great and I highly recommend them.

We are 4! 

I thank crossfit for the following picture ;).

Also, when you have a photographer taking pictures and one photographer in the pictures and are trying to explain to Dave how to pose you just pick him up real quick and show him how to pose. ha ha! This picture just cracks me up.

When was the last time you took pictures of you and your family?

If you are in the Wichita area I now do photos! You can check out my website, Sunshine Photography by Beka. 


Rock the Parkway - 1/2 Marathon Recap

Two weekends ago I ran my 8th half marathon! I hadn't ran a half marathon since fall of 2013 so in a way it was like starting over.

I still remember in Myanmar when Pam asked me if I thought getting back into crossfit and fitness would be hard and I said I didn't think it would be. ha ha ha ha! It was so hard! When I started running again last fall I was at a 12ish minute mile and my legs felt like tree trunks. Then I threw in crossfit into that mix and that added another whole new dimension of difficulty! But you know what? With time I got stronger and faster and it paid off because I ran 13.1 miles.

I want to give an overview of my training and the details on how the race went.


For this training plan I used my running book to look at their half marathon schedule. I used that as a base to get ideas and then tailored it to my specific needs. I decided to run three times a week with runs consisting of a tempo run of either 3, 4 or 5 miles on Monday or Tuesday, speed drills and a long distance run. I also added in crossfit and some intense stretching into the mix as well. I did well with crossfit for the first few weeks but after traveling to New Mexico twice and then taking a 13 day vacation with Dave I pretty much fell off the crossfit wagon for the last half of my training, and I'm okay with that. I am really proud of myself for how I did with my training.

Here is a more detailed look at my runs:

Tempo Runs:

For my tempo runs I often would try and beat my previous run of that same distance. For example, one week I would run 4 miles and then a few weeks later when I had a 4 mile run again I would try and beat my previous time. It was a good challenge, kept things interesting and I think it helped me shave off time from my mile.

Speed Drills: 

For speed drills I tried to change it up every week. One week I would use the plan from my running book but shorten it a bit. I also used these ten minute treadmill drills that I found on-line and I really liked them! Those drills also majorly paid off because the race course had a lot of hills. The majority of my speed drill runs were done on a treadmill and for some reason I like treadmill drills. It's kind of sadistic but I like that I can set my pace really fast and can't slow down unless I manually push a button.

Long Runs: 

The long runs mentally got easier over time but oh my word, they were torture in the beginning. My first long run was 5 miles and I thought I would die. Actually the first three long runs were really mentally hard and then it started getting better. My longest run was 11 miles and I did that at Pensacola beach (paved sidewalks) midday. Not the brightest idea I have had but it was really pretty scenery. I also did an 8 mile run in Little Rock, AR by the river and that was beautiful. I missed one long run and shortened one and still did fine in my race. I tried not to beat myself up over missing a run but I also tried to get every long run in that I could.

Here is recap of some runs:

Fastest 5K - 27:57 (side note - I just beat this time TODAY by 4 seconds! Hoooray!)
Fastest Mile - 7:57
Longest run - 11 miles
Total Miles Ran During Training - 106

Here is a look at some of my plans written out in my journal:

Our run was Saturday morning so we headed up to Kansas City on Friday afternoon. For dinner we ate at the Cheesecake Factory and I did not have pasta but I did indeed eat a big fatty steak with lemon cake for dessert. It was the perfect pre-meal.

Race day morning we got up at 5:45am. For breakfast I had bacon a few bites of bread and some coffee. Before any big race I get extremely nervous and want to cry - so weird.

The race course was very hilly and we started up with a three mile hill incline. It was brutal but somehow Shenel and I ran the first four miles with a sub ten minute pace. I think it was adrenaline and I also think those speed drills on the treadmill paid off right there. Shenel and I ran together for the first 6.5 miles and then I was a bad friend and ran ahead of her. =) I honestly ran without stopping until mile 7.5 when all I could see was a never ending hill and I had to walk up a little bit of that hill. At mile 10.5 I called Dave and told him I needed motivation to finish this race because I was done and he said he would buy me flowers. The race course said the last three miles were all down hill and that was a big fat lie. Mile 10 and 11 were super hilly but mile 12 to the finish line was a steady decline which was awesome!

Here is a breakdown of my miles:

Mile 1 - 9:41
Mile 2 - 9:52
Mile 3 - 9:53
Mile 4 - 9:49
Mile 5 - 10:08
Mile 6 - 10:00
Mile 7 - 9:28
Mile 8 - 9:32
Mile 9 - 10:45
Mile 10 - 10:26
Mile 11 - 11:35
Mile 12 - 10:45
Mile 13 - 9:34

My total time was 2:13:09 with an average pace of 10:09 minutes miles, which I think is awesome for hills, water stops and a few minutes of walking! I'm already thinking about signing up for another half marathon this fall to see if I can shave more time off. BUT before I do that I have started training for a race over Memorial Day weekend. It's a race called 'Get your rear in gear' and it honors those who passed away from colon cancer. They have a 5k run which I'm hoping to do in 26 minutes and if you aren't a runner they also have a mile walk. It's on Sunday evening at 7:30, which I'm so excited I don't have to get up early for this run. We have a team set up in Dave's Mom's name, Carol A. Johnson, and we will run it in memory of her. If anyone is interested in joining our team you can do so here

Lastly, I don't say this to scare anyone, but one of the runners on the course of our half marathon in KC collapsed after he crossed the finish line and passed away. You can read the article here if you are interested. I have thought about him and his family every single day since I heard that news. He was 34, an avid runner with no apparent health problems. I don't even know how to respond to that kind of news I just know that you have to be ready to die at any moment. Please pray for his family if you think about it.

If you have any questions about my training, race, etc. please let me know in the comments below.


Things I've Learned in 4 Years of Marriage

Dave and I have been married for FOUR years as of March 23rd. I can hardly believe it. Since our first anniversary I've always held up however many fingers old we are in marital years and told Dave, "We're one!", "We're two!" and so on, and this year, we are four! At first Dave thought I was so weird for doing this but now I think he secretly likes it. 

Also, these pictures were taken at Pensacola Beach in March by the same photographer, Naomi McIntosh, who did our wedding and trash the dress photos. I have another post coming with more of these pictures but today I wanted to share some of the things I have learned in these last four years of marriage. I wondered if four years was too young to write out 'advice' like I'm full of wisdom compared to those who have been married 20, 30, 40 years but these are still good lessons God has allowed me to learn so I thought I'd share. 

1. Before you get married meet with some godly women, who have godly marriages, to seek their advice on marriage. Dave and I dated long distance for a year and while away I met with some of the godly women in Korea. The advice I received was custom fit for my marriage because I still think of it and refer to it often. I even have a Word document called 'life as a wife' with their advice in it. I'm so thankful I asked those women and am thankful they were willing to invest in my life.

2. Cut out as many distractions as you can the first year of marriage and focus on each other. Did you know that in the Old Testament when a couple got married God said the husband couldn't go to war for a year. They also weren't to be intricately involved in public affairs or business but had to spend a majority of their time at home. You can read more about that in Deuteronomy 24. Now, I know that isn't feasible in America today but there are things you can do. When I got married I didn't really have a choice because I moved to Oklahoma where Dave lived and didn't know a soul. At first it was really hard but looking back I think how much time Dave and I spent together away from family and friends and it really helped establish our marriage. Not everyone gets to move to Oklahoma where they don't know anyone either but here are some things you can do:

-Log out of social media for a year. Gasp! Yes, it can be done.
-Decide you won't discuss marriage problems with all your friends but will first go to God and then your husband.
-Make time with your husband a priority and guard that time!

Any other ideas on that one?

3. Get a mentor. Life changes are so incredibly difficult for me. I always think I'll do okay and then the struggle is real! When Dave and I moved back from Asia to America, as wonderful as it was, transition was hard and our marriage had some hard days. I told Dave I wanted a Christian mentor and he thought that was a good idea too. I asked a lady at my church who leads our Bible study and she said she would be glad to do so. (side note: I have no idea how old my mentor is, probably 20-30 years older than me, but I know she is further down the road than I am. I think a mentor should be someone who has more experience in life than you do.) I meet with her probably once a quarter and tell her all about my marriage and life. She encourages where I need encouraged and corrects me where I need correcting and I'm so thankful for that. It's been a huge blessing. Lastly, in my opinion, a godly mentor should not be family. Your Mom will most likely pick your side on issues and you should have someone more neutral.

4. Laugh about lots of things. I think Dave and I have improved on this a lot in the past year. Which, now that I think about it my mentor encouraged me to do this more, Dave is already good at it. Laughter can often diffuse a situation. Instead of taking everything so seriously laughing and kindly joking is sometimes healthy. Dave and I have serious discussions too but laughter can do your marriage and heart good.

5. Psalms 127:1 is a great verse to pray over your marriage. It says, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." You can do all the work you want for your marriage, and you should, but if you don't ask God to build your marriage than the work you do is in vain.

6. Marriage is a tool God uses to show you the best qualities in you and the ugliest ones and I'm thankful for both. It's not fun to realize that we struggle with certain things but I'm thankful marriage brings those to the surface so The Lord can refine and mold my heart into who and what He wants it to be.

Those are some of the bigger lessons I have learned these past four years and I'm thankful for them. If you have some good marriage advice or have any more questions about what I wrote please feel free to comment below.