Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pay It Forward

This morning on the radio I heard a story of 50 people choosing to "pay it forward" at Starbucks. It all started with one person who offered to pay for the car behind them and just kept going from there.

I love this story because 1) I love Starbucks, 2) I love the mystery of it all, 3) It restores my faith in humanity, just a little bit.

Did the first person ever even know what they started?

Did order #30 know they were a part of something so big?

Did the last person who ended the cycle know what they had done?

We're all a part of a story bigger than our own and God is the author and creator, the perfecter of our faith.

This holiday season I'm so thankful to be a part of what He is doing and that my life is just one in a string of pay it forwards.

Do you know you're a part of the story, too?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day Tripping: Art Prize

In college my husband started as an art minor and switched because he wasn't "weird" enough to understand the projects. I am a clumsy crafter so it'd be quite a stretch to say we're art enthusiasts. We are enthusiastic about ArtPrize, Grand Rapids art competition that spans the city for a few weeks each fall.

On a beautiful sunny Monday we drove down to explore! I went to college near Grand Rapids and worked downtown so I'm pretty familiar and love that city. One of my favorite things about ArtPrize is that you get to go into businesses and buildings you wouldn't normally experience, I always find something new!

Here are some of our favorite entries. 

Where else do you see a giant coming out of the earth, mosaic made of sequins and room spun of wool? Did I mention it's FREE?! Add a delicious Thai lunch, local roasted coffee and a fro-yo stop and you've got just about the perfect day. Thanks for being so awesome, Grand Rapids. I'm a fan.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Girl's Weekend

Freshman year of college was rough for a whole host of reasons. Over the summer I spent a lot of time thinking, praying and planning changes. Sophomore year started totally differently when a new group on campus started up, Campus Crusade for Christ. I jumped right in and as they say, the rest is history! For me cru was all about people, lots of them. We had the most incredible community and 4 years later, the bonds are strong.

Last weekend I got together with my college girlfriends, 10 of them. We've made a pact, every fall we take a weekend away, whoever can and reconnect. The first year we went to Chicago, the second to Traverse City and this year to Muskegon. 

We laughed, talked, danced to 90's boy band music, ate a ton of food, walked on the beach, painted nails, shared hopes and dreams and stories of life. These girls know me, get me, love me. 
Over the years our conversations have changed slightly. Before we talked about homework and test assignments, internships, job hunts, and boyfriends. Now we still talk about boyfriends but it's also husbands, marriage, parenting, health insurance, home ownership, breast feeding, jobs and promotions.

Right before the weekend I read this post  about having wild and free relationships that speak to your soul, encourage and exhort you. That's what I want, therefore that's what I want to be.

I hope that in 20 years when we're talking about retirement, menopause, adult children and I don't even know what we'll be talking about then that our friendships are still real, strong, wild and free. It's worth it. People are worth it.

Do you have wild and free friends? How do you invest and grow together?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day Tripping: Chicago

 I live in the country surrounded by asparagus fields, livestock and single lane roads. I love it but when I find myself driving through Chicago on the way to a wedding with a free day after, you better believe I'm heading into the city of pavement, cars, energy and people! There's something about exploring, finding new things around every corner and people watching that makes me excited. Chicago has been my go-to city for most of my life; shows at the theaters, weekend getaways, school field trips and lots museum visits! However, it was the first time to hit the Windy City with my hubs. We only had a few hours so we bypassed the museums and opted for a day on foot.

We started at Navy Pier and rode the Ferris wheel for the first time! It was a beautiful day and there were views for miles. After exploring the pier we walked into the city and strolled the Magnificent Mile, shopping (hello H&M and Forever 21!), sipping coffee and chatting.

You gotta grab Chicago style pizza so we tried out Lou Malnati's for some cheesy, gooey pizza. Apparently it was so good I didn't even take pictures!

We ended our day by walking down to the Bean and doing the typical touristy thing, taking pictures and making faces. After that we jumped a water taxi and rode back to Navy Pier, another first!

 I'm not an expert but here's a few things I've learned from my Chicago explorations if it's your first time!
  • Check out the Food Court in the Water Tower Place mall for a lot of fresh options and choices. I even met a Backstreet Boy there once :) 
  • Don't miss Chicago style pizza! We did Lou Malnati's this time but I like Gino's and Giordano's better. 
  • Stop into the Ghiradelli chocolate store, they are always passing out free samples. 
  • The water taxi was fun and pretty cheap but don't take the last one of the night, we got dropped off early. 
  • Look for fun statues and hidden gems, you never know what you may see!  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Walk In The Woods

A walk in the woods
and my soul breathes.
I feel a release,
an unfolding of awareness.

My mind wanders and pushes through
the fog of to do lists, daily urges
and dives into the heart matter,
to what really matters.

I see differently.

I notice water droplets on colored leaves,
the antics of 2 black squirrels.

The quietness of my soul is refreshing.

He is meeting me here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The God Who Comes

Today my sweet friend, Katie asked me to write a guest post for her 31 Days Blog Series on Isaiah 40. Katie has spent countless hours pouring into my life, speaking truth, asking hard questions, encouraging and loving me so it's an honor and a thrill to be a part of what God is doing in her life!

Click on over to read some of my ponderings on Isaiah 40:3.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Canoes And The Sunrise

A whole weekend stretched ahead of us. We aren't quite used to those yet, stretching back to 2 days off instead of 1.

I wanted adventure, I wanted excitement, I wanted memorable but what I had was my home and my limited budget.

So at 6:20am on Saturday (crazy, I tell ya!) we woke up. Sleepy-eyed and tousled hair we packed a thermos of hot coffee and some blueberry muffins and headed to the water in our sweatpants and flannel shirts. It was still dark as we pulled our canoe off the racks and loaded in lifejackets, blankets and our supplies. Paddles to the water breaking the smooth calm of the lake as we traveled.

It got lighter and lighter and we talked, laughed and ate our muffins and coffee. We only brought one cup and passing it back and forth in the canoe made us wobble and giggle. There were threats and maybe even a little splashing. And then, the sunrise. The first that hubby has ever intentionally watched.

The moment wasn't as magical as I'd hoped, until we paddled beyond the break of the trees. And then it was magic and majestic all at once. My God makes good things. There's just something about being there when God wakes up his earth and says today is a new day and it is a gift for you.

We paddled back to shore and got home just as our neighborhood was beginning to stir. I crawled back into the warm covers for a morning nap, just as the rain began to fall. And that too was magic and majestic.

I'm probably not going to make sunrises a habit but next time I'm lacking wonder and need a reminder of who He is I may just pull my weary head up and look to the morning sky.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mountain Bike Romance

Tonight, I romanced my husband. Threw caution to the wind. Went on an adventure. Took a risk. Said yes. It didn't cost me anything and I didn't even have to dress up or cook.

It'd been a long day when he looked at me and said, "Want to go mountain biking tonight?" He smiled but he had that look. He didn't think I'd say yes. He really wanted me too, he was hoping I would but not expecting it.


Was that my voice? Where did that come from? Mountain biking? Are you kidding me?

"Can I wear a helmet?"

That voice again! What am I saying?!

He was surprised and excited so off we went. Me in my black leggings and ridiculous white socks, he in his mountain biking gloves and shoes.  He said I looked cute, he kissed my helmet head. He's a good man. 

We rode the trails. Up and down, around and even over a few times. There was a little more bumping and jostling than I'd like and it may be hard to sit down tomorrow but it was fun. Except for when the hills went up... I walked those.

20 minutes later I saw our car and I couldn't believe it was over.

And then that voice again, my voice again.

"That was fun, I would do that again."

And we will. Because for a quick adventure and a free date night, it was a pretty good time. I felt adventurous, I felt daring. My lungs were stretched and my cheeks windburned. I am proud of myself.

Maybe when I'm serving him, it's really serving me. Maybe when I'm romancing my husband and saying yes God is showing me what laying down one self is. Maybe this isn't just mountain biking, maybe this is learning to be a little more selfless. 

That was fun. I would do that again.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Summer

Sometimes I forget to enjoy June and July.

When 40 college students and 200 kids are looking to you that tends to happen.

But August and September... those are my months!

As the days get shorter and night comes quicker, as the leaves start changing and I'm more likely to grab hot chocolate than cold lemonade I try to capture those last few summer moments.

A bike trip to watch the sunset. 

Climbing the sand dunes to watch the dune buggies say goodnight.

Breakfast on the porch and quiet time by the lake.

Fresh tomatoes, peaches and summer fruit picked by hand. 

Soon it will be fall. And I will be so happy. Bring it on Pumpkin Spice Latte! (Actually, it's already been broughten. Twice.)

But for now I'll grab those last few summer rays. Thanks, summer, it's been a good one.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed

For the first time in 2 years I rearranged my office furniture. It was time for change and a fresh outlook. My intern has been bugging me to mix it up for a while and when he walked in one day I said, "It's time. Let's go. Move that desk!"

So we pushed and pulled, measured and calculated, dug around in the basement for different cords and tables and smashed a few toes. The end result is open, larger and more welcoming. I loved it and so did everyone who stopped by.

Until a few days later when things got really hard. Directing summer camp can be a blast, full of laughter, memories, and life-changing moments. But on other days, when there are trips to the hospital, campers arguing and fighting, staff getting sick and not finishing their duties, upset parents and thing after thing after thing it can be really overwhelming and exhausting.

On those I try to say, "It's a day." Not a bad one, not a terrible one. Just a day. I try to keep my focus on the big picture, stay positive, smile through it all and lead from a full cup.

But sometimes you just gotta cry and those tears are coming, no matter what.

Confession time: I have hidden under my desk with my office lights off and door closed crying because of "one of those days". No one knew I was there and they couldn't ask me any questions. It felt desperate and like a last resort but I knew that escape was there.

And now it's gone. With my desk against the wall anyone who enters the office can see me and everything I'm doing. When it got hard and when I just wanted to hide away and cry, I suddenly realized that was no longer an option. At first I almost panicked.Where could I hide? Where could I fall apart in secret?

Then I took a deep breath. And I didn't hide. I didn't fall apart. I was brave. 

And I think I was better for it. 

I faced what was overwhelming and instead of looking to the dark space under my desk I looked to the one who really makes it OK.


When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. 
Psalm 61:2 

So when it's been "a day", when things are getting hard, when you're ready to hide, retreat, escape, turn to the one who who knows and loves you. He's got the whole world in his hands, He's got my world in his hands, He's got your world in his hands.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

She Reads Truth

On July 13, 2012 I saw a little tweet from a college friend that said, doing a she reads truth bible study. I was curious what it was so I clicked through and found the She Reads Truth community. After investigating and clicking around for a while I tweeted back, I think I'll join you! And that's where it all began. I'm not quite celebrating my personal anniversary but am celebrating this community!

This has not been an easy year, but having God's Word as a part of my every day has made everyday not just bearable but possible, triumphant and even joyful.

When I tell people about #srt I tell them that I finally found something that works for me. The biggest part of making a change, making something happen is having a plan. Since last July, I've known what to read in my Bible and even have a checkbox to click when I do it. As a driver doer wanna get stuff done- I really like those checkboxes.

I've never done this before but I made a little vlog (By the way, the word vlog makes me squirm a little. I think it sounds gross.) to share about my SRT experiences!

It's kinda long (I kinda talk a lot) but here are the highlights...

1) I have a plan and have consistently been reading my Bible for almost a year, for the first time in my life!
2) God has given me truth from him exactly when I needed it and exactly when He needed me to share it with someone else.
3) Having God's word saturing my life has changed my daily perspectives, helped me to be more obedient and to fix my eyes upon him daily.

I've been eating my daily bread this year and I am filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

Have you been feeling dry? Struggling to spend time in God's word and feeling guilty? Pick it up, find a plan and watch to see how He will move in your heart and life. I've been there, felt that and I can tell you for sure that He's waiting.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Make Sure They Know I Love Them

Each morning from May 10 - August 17 between 7:00 and 7:30am I sit in a circle, we call it a huddle, with 40 college students and give them a word, a challenge, a short devotional. And some days I feel like God is pouring out his words through me and other days I feel like I'm grasping at straws and totally under qualified for this.

This week was just like that. I am not good at mornings. I heard someone say that today and I like it more than saying I'm not a "morning person".  Guess what? Neither are college students. The Late the night before I found myself searching through my journal, my Bible and my head trying to figure out what I should share. I had a lot of ideas but at the same time none at all.

Often I bring a challenge.
From Hosea 6:3, so let us press on to know the Lord.
From Psalm 127:1, are you building for God's kingdom or for your own?

But this night felt different. I stopped in my searching and prayed, "Lord, what would you have me tell them?"  

I felt him saying, "Make sure they know I love them." 

How simple. How true. How profound.

And so I shared Ephesians 3:16-19, one of my all-time favorite verses.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


In my head I fall into an ocean and I'm surrounded by the water on all sides. It presses in, envelopes and surrounds me, touches every part of me. Just like the love of God.

So on the days when it's just all too much, when you've run ragged and the challenges are on every side know that He loves you. It's the foundation, the cornerstone. Close your eyes, lean into Him and hear Him whisper, "Make sure you know how much I love you."