Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Beyond Four Walls

It was technically only 4 walls, a box, a shell, a building.

But it was so much more.

It was home. It was dozens of talent shows, hundreds of friends, thousands of meals, millions of memories.

Those 4 walls were literally shelter from the storm. The winds would howl, thunder and lightning rage and we'd ring that big brass bell and run to our safe place. I remember huddling in the basement singing songs and laughing as a camper. Later as the counselor staging impromptu skits, leading the songs and comforting tears.

It was countless chapel sessions, raising my hands in worship with my brothers and sisters, sitting too close in the uncomfortable folding chairs sweating from our arms being pressed together in the summer heat.

Every Thanksgiving we gathered, all 60 of us starting with my great-grandparents to share a meal, a service and to give thanks together. We put together puzzles, played made up game shows, looked through Black Friday ads, ate Grandma's rolls, flew the turkey around the room, turned our tables to face one another, shared our triumphs and struggles from the year and always, always sang the Doxology and Great Is Your Faithfulness.

When a tornado threatened to strike during my high school graduation party it was where we took shelter, grabbing the ice cream bowls, pictures, gifts and running inside to beat the storm.

And after I said, "I Do," it was where we went to celebrate our life as newlyweds. Where 215 of our friends and family gathered together to toast us and wish us well. In those walls my Papa said a prayer for our marriage and I've never felt so very loved by so many people in my life.

On Monday I got a call from my dad at 9am. He was using "that voice," the one I've heard more times than I'd like this year. My dad is terrible at breaking bad news. He sounded burdened, choked up.

"Last night the roof of the Lodge collapsed."

It was totally unexpected and with no warning but this extreme Michigan winter and the weight of the snow proved to be just too much. The Lakeview Lodge is the dining hall at the camp where my parents and sister currently work and I lived at from age 2 till I went to college. It's the place my great-grandfather helped to found and my parents met. It's home.

It's just a building yet that day I cried and mourned as I would the loss of a friend.

Yet, God is still in this. At 6pm there were 150 people in the building and 0 when the roof fell. Insurance will help. Hundreds of supporters of the camp have rallied around them and my parents as they lead through this difficult time. They are my family. People are hearing of this little camp who may not otherwise.

It feels dumb writing a blog post to a building but it's so much more than a building. This will be a story that we get to tell of God's faithfulness. We have seen him work through this building and we know He will do it again. We will continue to sing Great Is Thy Faithfulness. We'll make new memories.

So what I'm learning right now is that when the roof crumbles, the foundation cracks and what you've always known to be steady is no more, He is there.

As the director of the camp, my Dad gets to deal with the brunt of the collapse. As he said to me, "Now is when we get to practice what we preach. When we get to show people that we truly believe and trust."

And as he's told me many a time, "To God be the glory, great things He has done."

post signature

Sunday, February 16, 2014

103 in 2013

In 2013 I set out to track how many books I read in one year.

Drumroll please... the answer is 103! That wasn't quite as dramatic as I imagined because I gave away the answer in the title. Whoops.

One hundred three books?! Are you kidding me?! I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed.

Since people have found out that I love to read so much I've been asked what my favorite books of the year have been. While it's hard for me to narrow it down I'll do my best!

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist
My Pinterest board is Foodie Wannabe so this book spoke my love language, community, real talk and food around the table. I love Shauna's writing style, the way she relates to life and the recipes I've tried have been delicious! If you read it try the vinaigrette, my mother-in-law asked me for the recipe! Score!

Love Does by Bob Goff
After a lot of buzz about this book I was excited to read it but it was so different than I expected, in a good way! Full of short stories of love in action this book was refreshing, fun and light. I laughed, I cried. But really, I did. I actually found myself savoring the chapters and forcing myself to put it down so it would last longer. That's a good book!

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Yes, these are written for kids but they are so fun to read! Plus, since I learn new things about Greek mythology with each book I feel like I'm getting cultured as well. The downfall to this series is that I feel like it's never going to end, I'm into the third spin-off and currently I'm reading, "House of Hades". I'm not enjoying nearly as much as the others and find myself wishing it would just wrap up and be over.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
You caught me, another kids book! Heartwarming would be a good way to describe this, written from different perspectives about a boy who is "different" from the others.

Room by Emma Donoghue
When you find yourself surprised and reading as fast as you can to figure out a book, you know the story has you hooked. Room is so unusual and different from most books and I really enjoyed that.

Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
It seems like there are a lot of end of the world and dystopian society books out right now. This book fits the category but does it in a way that is slower and more focused on the people and the story than the action. It was interesting, unusual and had me hooked.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Switching from past to present and set in England, this book is long but keeps you guessing till the end. It's dramatic, interesting and best enjoyed on a rainy day with a hot cup of tea.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova 
Alice can't remember and it keeps getting worse. While reading this book I felt like I was watching a friend walk down Alice's journey and it stuck with me. This was a fascinating look into Alzheimer's disease in an engaging way.

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
This book contrasted the beauty of flowers and words with the realities of a hard life. I loved the story, the kindness of people and the way it made me feel hopeful.

If you want to see more of what I've read and my ratings, check out my books list and goodreads. Hopefully this gives you an idea, go pick up a book and if you have any recommendations for me, I'd love to hear!