Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tis the Season...

Well folks, it's that time of year again. The time of cheer, laughter, family, friends, no school, hot-tubbing, sledding, and Christmas. The time of year when we bundle up with our snow gear, go skiing, get rosy cheeks, come down with colds, and sit by the fireplace, at least for those of us who live in Michigan. In my house, we usually set up the tree and hang the lights on the house right about now, we finish finding Christmas presents and begin wrapping or hiding them in the depths of our house. I unfortunately have not had the luxury of finishing my Christmas shopping due to classes, homework and exams but I did get home to see my house covered in lights. I live out in the country on a small 20 acre farm. My house is an old yellow farmhouse with a green roof and a big red barn behind it. As I drive up the road to my house, I see the house all lit up on top of the hill where my house sits. We always have white lights surrounding our roof line with green garland wrapping around our porch with big red bows. There is two reindeer in the front yard made of lights facing the road. I pull in the driveway to gaze at the beauty of this old farmhouse. Unfortunately we have not had much snowfall yet this year and there was not a speck of white to be seen yet but it was still so pretty. I walk up the front steps to my house across the flagstones embedded with grass in between dreaming of the looks of this place when it finally snows. I open the front door to the smell of gingerbread wafting in the air. I walk in and see my 4 year old niece dancing and singing "Up on the Housetop, reindeer paws...", she turns to face me and screams high pitch for about what seems like a minute straight. My sister, Dad and I begin laughing at the excitement on her face. She runs to me and asks, "Are you home for good?", these are the moments I live for, the reason I love this time of year; family. I miss so much of their school programs and growing up days while I am here studying my life away, but it is so good to know that when I come home the welcome back is the best feeling in the entire world.

Today in chapel, our chaplain presented a challenge to us for this Christmas and Advent season. Did you know that the United States spends $450 billion on Christmas gifts every year. That is a LOT of money. Did you know that it will only take $20 billion to solve the world's clean water problem? If everyone in the world bought ONE less gift this year we could solve world thirst. This is the time of year that is not only for our immediate families but it is a time to give to our global community as well. Watch this video. It changes lives, literally. As a poor college student, the past few years I have slowly gone back to homemade gifts for my family and friends like I used to make as a child. Homemade gifts mean more, inspire people to do the same, and show love more than any store bought gift could. I encourage each and every one of you to remember what is truly important in this holiday season, family. Our own families and our global family, coming together to celebrate a time of year that evokes joy in the hearts of so many, more than at any other time of year. Think about it. Change a life today.


Watch this video and inspire other hearts to do the same.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Turning the page...

            So this past weekend my brother got married!! He married a girl that he has been in love with since high school and I am so incredibly happy for the two of them. They are moving into a new chapter in life. They will be rigorously packing and getting ready to head south this weekend. I feel as though he just got home! I honestly wish that they could stay longer but as my mom says, "they are ready to start their life together, ya know?". And I do know, but a part of me is selfish and wants to keep him here. At the wedding, I knew that there was a small possibility I might tear up a little bit at the ceremony. I did not realize, however, that at the end of the "I do's" my brother would look over at me and smile and I would start crying like a freak! We have grown so close the last few years that we know each other's insides and outs. When he looked at me, I could just tell he was SO happy. And after the last few years that have been the hardest for our family, I was crying out of pure joy for him because he finally knows where he belongs and knows who he wants to spend the rest of his life with. I am blessed to have a brother as cool, as funny and as great as he is. The wedding was the first time in a long while that I have been able to hang out, goof around and dance with him. He adds so much joy to life and he has a smile that kills. When he smiled at me, it was like a giant bear hug telling me that it was alright. Even though I will miss him and Meg terribly when they move, I know that they are so happy and love each other so much and that they can make it work.
              I am so blessed to have a family like mine. They show me what love is. While embarrassing at times, when trying to set me up with boys, I know they mean the best. Weddings seem to always make you take a step back and look on your life and look at the people that you love. Some people have regrets, some don't. I don't have regrets. I was blessed to have been put into a family that is extremely close. We have arguments of course, but we always forgive and we always remember how much we love each other. I think that is part of the reason that I am so choosy with the boys in my life. I have a family that loved my brother's wife from the very beginning. That is just how they are. Wow, weird to say brother's wife. I have no doubts that whomever I marry one day will be loved by my family without a doubt.
            I love parties, celebrations, get-togethers whatever you want to call them. I love the sound of laughter, music, stories being told, toasts being made. I LOVE to dance and sing and play. I love to be myself and laugh and goof around without having a care in the world. That's how it was on Friday night. I love the men in my life and I am so happy that we could dance and laugh and carry on because we had a chance to forget about our lives, our worries, our futures, and school for a short while. Needless to say, I am blessed. I am blessed with a family like mine, and friends like mine.
            Turning a new page in our lives is always hard I feel like. It is hard to change and accept new situations and new places. But we learn to adapt. I have friends all over, at different schools, in different states, in different houses/dorms, but I always try to catch up on their lives. What do we have to look forward to in life, if we don't have friends to share it with? Wherever my friends and family may be, I always take time to think about them, pray for them, listen to them and catch up with them. So here's my advice for you, when turning the page in your life, embrace it. Know that it is something you have to do and know that something good will come out of it even if you have to push hard to make it through. Good luck to the stressed college students, to the ones going through physical training, to those being tested on subjects that determine their careers, to those looking for new jobs and new houses, to those moving to new places, to those becoming empty-nesters officially, to those filling out job applications, to those just trying to make it to the next day. Embrace the next page, the next chapter. And never forget to remember the ones that love you and keep you going.


“Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
― C.S. Lewis

Monday, September 12, 2011

The things I've come across...

I've come across many things in my short 20 years. I have loved, learned, grew, became, helped, cherished, fought, craved, marveled, destroyed, created, left, returned, laughed, cried, yelled, hated, and so much more. Through all of that I have picked up on things that make me happy, have helped me do better, have made me laugh more, that created relationships. I'm going to share of few of those with you.

1. ALWAYS go to bed at a decent hour, and take naps.
2. Open your heart to be loved but don't go chasing it.
3. Be REAL with people.
4. Always be honest, even when it's the hardest thing you've ever done.
5. Never forget. Write journals, take pictures, make movies.
6. Know that the lowest points in life are meant to build you back up as a better person.
7. Create masterpieces. Whether you are an amazing artist or playing with play-doh with your 4-year old niece.
8. Stand up for what is right. Don't follow the crowd, you have to believe in yourself and know that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
9. Volunteer. There is just something about putting a smile on another's face.
10. Memorize little pieces of people. I love my friend's laughter, I like that my Grandpa brings me peppermints every Sunday at church, I love that my friend always seems to know what I'm thinking just by looking at me, I love that I remind people of my brother because he's my hero, I love when my mom plays with my hair, I love when I am squeezed in a hug by my niece and nephew.
11. Build bridges don't tear them down. If you are angry or upset, forgive. If you are hurt or sad, apologize even if you do not think it was your fault.
12. Don't live too far into the future. Pray for what's next and hope for the best but live each day to the fullest.
13. Commit. Commit to your job, commit to your classes, commit to your partners, friends, family.
14. Never take the easy way out. You will not feel satisfied. The road that takes you on a bumpy journey will be the one that you look back on and remember, "Hey, I did that."
15. Pray. About everything. Whether you believe in God or not, the majority of people pray. Maybe you don't call it praying but "hoping" and "thinking" about things can be considered the same. You can pray about anything. Talk aloud, whisper to yourself, think things through in your head, all of it I considered to be praying,. Because you need something more than just yourself to ponder the things you pray about. You hope that somebody else can help you or heal you or fix you. You hope that everything will be okay.

These are only a few lessons that I have learned. Some may seem cheesy (like "shredding cheese" as one of my housemates would say) but do not take them for granted. I think everyone at some point looks for advice and I hope maybe some of you find what you are looking for.

Grace & Peace,

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's the "little things" in life...right?

Over the past few weeks I have come to realize that life is catching up with me. In a typical summer I probably go to the beach or the lake at LEAST once a week. This summer I have not been to the lake yet and I have been to the beach twice. My summer has been taken over by work and school. Depressing? Yeah, you have no idea. It makes me realize though that my life is no longer lazy summer days. It makes me realize that I am really starting to grow up. The funny thing is, is that I feel so far from my future. I feel like I have so much more schooling and so much more stuff to do before I enter the real world. A friend of mine just recently applied for a program where they might be working in their actual career by next year! It makes me think holy cow maybe I am closer to my career than I think. Because of the craziness and how hectic this summer has been so far I need to remember to cherish the "little things". While the ones I love seem to be all over the map this summer I have had to remind myself not to forget about them. One of my best friends from school works at a summer camp and I make it my mission to send her letters and cd's throughout the summer. I also am away from my only brother for the first summer ever. I have been able to Skype with him and talk on the phone with him but it is my goal to send him packages that make him feel loved from Michigan. I have enjoyed the time I have spent with my friends already but the summer class I have been taking since May is over tomorrow, so I plan on taking the next two months to work and then spend all of my extra time being with my friends and family. It's been a tough year on my family. I never thought that we could ever go through this much sickness in one year. As a family we have had to deal with a lot. We have had to become okay with the realization of cancer, we have had to become okay with losing hair, chemo treatments, surgeries, etc. Before this year I took for granted the things that I held dear. Now, I have come to realize that the "little things" are the things I cherish the most. Skyping with my brother who is hundreds of miles away, sending letters to best friends, having dinner with my grandparents and sharing my day with them, having coffee with my cousin, laying out by the pool with my best friend, sharing my birthday on the beach with one of my favorite people, sitting outside with my parents while playing catch with my dog and sometimes all I need to have a good night is sitting in a friend's kitchen just talking and laughing. This summer has been a summer of realization for me. With all of the hard stuff going on within my family, it's important for me to realize that the good stuff is what I need to cherish and what I need to hold onto. Hold onto the "little things", they make life worth it.


What if blessings come through raindrops? What if healing comes through tears? and what if the trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights, are mercies in disguise? ~Laura Story

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The End is Near... or perhaps the Beginning?

I'm currently sitting in a barstool behind the counter of our coffee shop here on campus where I work during the week. I'm sitting here checking emails, Facebook, catching up on other blogs, and trying to study. As I sit here I can't help but think HOLY COW I am almost halfway done through college! Has it really been two years since coming to this amazing place that I call home?! This past Sunday I realized just how truly blessed I am to attend Hope. I have had late night adventures that I lost precious sleep over but I do not regret. I have met so many people that have become truly great friends. I've had bad days but the good ones are the only ones that stand out. I love playing out in the Pine Grove, riding our bikes to the beach with Shelby's brake on the entire way, playing pranks on everyone, late nights studying in the library sharing lots of laughter, picking up coffee when life gets hard for all of us, meeting at Lemonjello's when we all get back from Christmas Break to catch up on each other's lives, struggling to figure out what we are doing with our lives, and best of all spending time together just simply laughing and running around. I can't help but think that in two very short years I will miss these people and this place so incredibly much. I am so grateful for all the people I have gotten to know these past two years and can't wait to meet more the next two. Two things have kept me anchored and sane the past two years: the friends I have here and the friends and family I have at home. No doubt these past few months have been the hardest for me but I have survived because of all of them. I was talking with a girl this morning who is graduating on Sunday. She told me that it has hit her that she is leaving and she was so excited for the future but saddened to be leaving Holland, Michigan. I thought to myself what am I gonna say when I get asked that question four days before I graduate? Will I be sad? Will I be excited? Will I be scared? I would have to say that as of this moment, I would be so incredibly grateful for the things that I have learned here and for the people I've met and though I will miss them terribly those I have grown the closest with will stay with me and I will be so excited to move on to a new chapter in life. And I will always remember that the best decision of my life was to attend Hope College. College is meant to be a stepping stone, you live through it and you take the memories from it with you but you move on with your life. I will always be blessed to call Hope College home. Thanks for making it great, Hope College. Happy Summer, friends! Soak up the sunshine and relax! We made it through another year!

Lots of Love to you all,

p.s. A poem about the journey...

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Thursday, April 21, 2011

All at Once...

These past few weeks have been some of the hardest of my 20 years. At the end of March, one of my best friends left for Spain to study abroad for 3 months and my brother left for Texas for the AirForce. Saying goodbye to my brother was probably the hardest. I went from crying a little bit as we hugged and said our goodbyes to a full stream of tears as I drove by myself back to school. The hardest part was knowing that I wouldn't see him for 2 months. He is my confidant, my best friend and my shopping partner. Shortly before Matt left in March, I got a phone call from my dad at school. He told me that my aunt has been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I was in disbelief. I could not imagine what my aunt was going through emotionally and what she would endure physically throughout the next year. It has already been a huge ordeal for all of us and we are only a month into it. If that isn't enough to put a load of stress on, just recently I found out that my Grandpa is in the hospital. He has an irregular heartbeat and had some trouble breathing so they admitted him. My dad assures me that he is doing better and that he should be going home soon. It just feels like all of this "stuff" came all at once, ya know, like it was just thrown at me. There are two weeks left in my sophomore year which means one word, exams. Trying to maintain good grades, do well on exams and deal with everything else that is happening right now in my life is hard. I won't lie, it's really hard. Sometimes I feel like I am suffocating but I sit down, close my eyes, take a deep breath, say a little prayer and keep going. Things started turning around for me yesterday. I went downstairs to check my mailbox and found a letter in there. FROM MY BROTHER! I couldn't believe it! I ran upstairs as fast as I could because I knew I'd start crying as soon as I read the letter. I don't know how he knew what I was feeling but it was honestly like he knew exactly what I needed to hear or read rather. Soft tears were rolling down my face as I read the letter and I just laid on my bed soaking up the words and taking it all in. In this season of my life I have come to realize that is so necessary to just take one step at a time. You cannot jump ahead a couple of steps because it doesn't work that way. We have to sit back, relax and at least "try" to enjoy the ride. I miss my brother more than ever but I know that this is where he belongs. He was made for this. But I can't help but count the days until the end of May when I can jump on his back and give him a big hug. My family has a long road ahead of us with absentees and sickness but I know that we will get through this season. Not without struggles I'm sure, but we will manage. I ask that you pray for strength and healing for my aunt and grandpa. Also, pray for my brother, pray for strength and wisdom and the ability to get the job done. For all of you who have helped me in so many ways the past month, thank you. I am so grateful for the talks and the listening ears and I am also grateful for you. One step at a time, right? Well, the next step is Easter and I'm headed home. Happy Easter, everyone! Enjoy times with your families and cherish EVERY moment.

Grace & Peace,

"When you haven't yet had your heart really broken, the gospel isn't about death and rebirth. It's about life and more life. It's about hope and possibility and a brighter future. And it is, certainly, about those things. But when you've faced some kind of death--the loss of someone you loved dearly, the failure of a dream, the fracture of a relationship--that's when you start understanding that central metaphor. When your life is easy a lot of the really crucial parts of Christian doctrine and life are nice theories but you don't really need them. When, however, death of any kind is staring you in the face, all of  a sudden rebirth and new life are very, very important to you. I've found that I have come back to these words thousands of times in the last few years, a season in my own life that has felt in some moments like death at every turn. I've begun to train my eyes for rebirth, like looking for buds on branches after an endlessly long winter. I know that death is real, and I trust that rebirth is real, too."

"This is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. This is what I've come to believe about change: It's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. WHEN LIFE IS SWEET, SAY THANK YOU AND CELEBRATE. AND WHEN LIFE IS BITTER, SAY THANK YOU AND GROW."

~Bittersweet by Shauna Neiquist

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Hello friends. As many know, this week has begun the season of Lent. Many Christians across the globe celebrate Lent by giving up something for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Most years I choose something fairly tradition like, candy or pop. But this year I decided I needed to give up something that was going to be extremely hard to do. That thing?? Facebook. It consumed my life in between the cracks of working on homework or just being bored. Well, not anymore! I have cut myself off from the world of Facebook and so far it has felt great! Although, today is the first we'll see. I have asked my friends here at Hope and my family members to keep me accountable and they were all extremely supportive of taking on such a large feat! Which to be honest with you, is soo incredibly sad! Facebook should not be that important so this year I am re-grouping and re-thinking my life and where I choose to invest my time. For all the time spent on Facebook I am giving 5 minutes of my night, right before bed, some quiet time to myself. This time is time for me to think and pray and listen. I appreciate all the support that you all have and will give to me in every area. I will need the support definitely. I'm like an addict. Sooo sad. These will be my only posts to Facebook until further notice. I don't include this as cheating since I do not actually get on Facebook to upload the blog. If you guys wish to stay in contact with me PLEASE feel free to email me or skype me. My email is As an old childhood character would say, "TTFN! Ta-Ta for now!" God bless you all!

Grace & Peace,

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dreaming with an OPEN heart...

Wow. Life. How crazy it is, huh? You know the saying, you should always take the time to stop and smell the roses? Well, I wish I could do that. Except for the fact that this is Holland. Roses here are called TULIPS . But, life has been so crazy lately it feels like it's flying by me and I'm just a bystander in my own life. I stand there, watching flashes of images fly by my face and wave as they go by. We are already halfway through this semester and I keep questioning, where the heck did it go? Have I really been at Hope for almost two years already? The scariest part is realizing that I'm almost halfway through my college career. I cannot imagine leaving Hope already. I talked to my cousin today who is a senior here and he is busy trying to figure out and plan the rest of his life with internships and jobs after he graduates. Stressful, to say the least. We all get so wrapped with trying to accomplish everything we want to do and squeeze in as much stuff in the day as possible and we, well at least I, have a hard time remembering that these are the years for LIVING. This is the time to love life, enjoy company, and go to bed when the sun is rising! Life is so short and I am learning that very quickly as I'm realizing how fast time has gone already. I really have always enjoyed the saying, Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much. We were put here for a greater purpose and we have to live our lives so we can say at the end that we lived well, we lived happily, and we lived fully. We have to enjoy all of the little moments and laugh as much as possible. We need to forgive others and remember to always forgive ourselves and to love everyone with an OPEN heart. We have to learn to be open to loving even those who may hurt us or let us down. I know how hard it is to open up your heart. I always tend to put walls up scared that I may get hurt. I have continued to be in awe of life. Every time I open my heart a little more, the more love I feel. I love my friends and family so incredibly much and I am so blessed. My brother this week just got engaged! Can you believe it?! I knew it was coming but still about cried when I heard. I am sooo incredibly happy for him and his fiancée. Whoa, weird. I said fiancée. She is so perfect for him that I honestly could not have been more excited to hear it become official. My brother had a huge crush on this girl in high school but they never dated. She graduated and went to school and they hadn't talked in a few years. About a year and a half ago they reconnected and started hanging out. One thing led to another...and now here we are. Getting hitched. They have only been engaged for a week and it is honestly all I can think about. This may be the best wedding I will ever go to. Weddings remind me that I want to surround myself with people that truly love me. I want people that really cherish me and still want to keep me with all of my flaws and imperfections and silly anecdotes. I plan to live with an open heart from now on. Even when it gets hard and I am scared, I am going to remember my brother is getting married and he found that one person and I am going to remember how happy he is. So here it is....Go out and love, REALLY love. Find people that remember your favorite color, that tell you the truth, that stand by you, that tell you that you are beautiful inside and out, that keep your secrets, that LOVE you no matter what. Find those people.

Grace & Peace,

This is from a Youtube video that a friend sent me.

I dreamed I had an interview with God.
"So you would like to interview me?" God asked. 
"If you have the time." I said.
"My time is eternity. What questions do you have in mind for me?"
"What surprises you most about humankind?"
God answered, "That they get bored with childhood. They rush to grow up and then long to be children again. That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and die as if they had never lived."
God's hand took mine and we were silent for awhile. 
I asked, "As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?"
God replied with a smile. "To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. To learn they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is let themselves be loved. To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive others by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons who love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they must forgive themselves."
"Thank you for your time," I said humbly. "Is there anything else you would like your children to know?"
"To learn that I am here. Always."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reaching the Unreachable...

Wow! What a week! We currently had our mid-Winter break here at Hope and boy was it sure nice to be home for awhile. The week before break I was asked to become a part of Residential Life here at Hope in a matter of days! It was crazy to me to think, "Me?! An RA?!" After I found out that they were considering me I did a LOT of praying. I had so much to think about and not very long to answer. I prayed long and hard and finally decided that this would be a wonderful opportunity to get to know more girls and also I would be getting paid, which is a HUGE bonus. I met with the Resident Director and we made plans for me to move in to my new room the following week which happened to be this past week. So here I am now. Sitting on my single, double-mattress, extremely high bed that I have to climb a desk to get on, soaking in what it means now that I am an official RA. I have to say, I am loving it so far. I think my biggest fear of moving clusters was leaving my roomie and my cluster girls. I prayed a lot this past summer that Maddie, my roommate, and I would get a cluster that was a lot of fun, loved God, and respected the boundaries and let me just say God went above and beyond when He answered that prayer. Even though I had fears, I still trusted that I would get to know these new girls and would learn to love them just as I love my old cluster. So this past Tuesday, I gathered my belongings,  and headed on down the hallway to experience a new adventure. What I've learned so far? These girls are so sweet, funny, hard-working and driven. I cannot wait to see what He has in store for me and the girls the rest of the semester. I think that this was the hardest part...not knowing. I had no idea what these girls were going to be like, how they would like me, IF they would like me, and how much they would need me. I think I've really began to understand God's love through this whole experience. I was nervous and scared and I needed the acknowledgement that this was the right step to take but for a second I thought that He was unreachable. I am humbled by the fact that we have NO IDEA how deep His love for us really is. It is "vast and beyond all measure" to quote from a song. The love He has for me is what helps me know that I am making the right decisions. Sometimes I hesitate and wonder, is God really there? And then I look outside my window at the rain and remember that how could all of this that is created just go BOOM! one day and that's that. I personally love rain. Some may say it is depressing but my favorite, when I was younger, was going out and jumping on the trampoline while it was pouring rain on a warm summer's day. As I got older my favorite place to be became my front porch. I loved to sit out there while it rained after a long day of helping out my parents around the house and just rock on the swing. I could feel God there, I felt as though I could reach him there. I would sit and just listen. Sometimes my family would come out and we would sit and listen together or we would laugh about the day's events or the crazy thing my brother built that day. The thing about rain is that I believe it is God's way of cleaning the world. It makes people tend to stay inside with their families or go to the movies with someone you love cause you haven't seen one or been out in ages. It creates time when everything seems to slow down and be not quite as hectic. Some days I find it especially hard to reach God. Maybe with a new room, new cluster and new people this semester I will find time to sit alone in my room and reach for God. I cannot even begin to describe to you the business of my week and I know many of you are the exact same way. Find a time in your crazy lives to sit and enjoy the rain or go run in it! Enjoy the beautiful weather and the wonderful gift that God has given to you.

Grace & Peace

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The complexity of things...

This past Thursday I had the chance to drive up to Grand Rapids and hang out with my sister and her best friend, who was visiting from Charlotte, North Carolina. I've been really looking forward to her visiting for two reasons. First, I have not seen her in so long and she is wonderful and secondly, we have been planning on going to the Grand Rapids Museum to see their new exhibit "Bodies Revealed." Wanting to be in the health care field, you would understand my excitement. We began our journey, touring through downtown Grand Rapids in the 1800's then upstairs to the Grand Rapids Furniture Company, meandering through different military firearms on the wall, and other interesting historical pieces of Grand Rapids. As we went through we posed for different pictures and laughed as walked through. Finally, we came to the newest attraction, "Bodies Revealed." We hand the lady our tickets and she informs us that there is no photography, no gum and anything else that might interfere with the safety of the exhibit. After we get the whole "spiel" we head into the exhibit. There are tv screens on the walls that give you an informative background about the exhibit and the purpose of the exhibit. As we are walking through the exhibit, we continue to be amazed at the mere complexity of the human body. My sister's friend turns to us and says, "Even after seeing and experiencing all of this, I do not understand how people do not believe that there is a God." The TV screens even told us at the beginning that there was so much we still did not know about the human body and that certain aspects could not be explained. Being in Health Care it is important for me to remember everything that I learn in my classes here at Hope, but it is also important to remember that not everything can be explained through science. My research methods prof, who is a paid scientist, understands that you cannot research something that is immeasurable. We cannot prove that there is no God or that there is no Heaven or Hell because these things are far more than we are. We cannot begin to understand the complexities in this universe without knowing that there is a God. There are 204 bones in the body, over 600 muscles (depending on the person), and about 20 of those muscles are used to smile. Can we really believe that it all just went "BOOM!" one day? Sure, sometimes miracles happen because of great medical care, a surgeon that saved a life. But, who gave him the talents, skills, and knowledge to save that life. A deep drive had to have been placed in that human being for a purpose. What about the firefighters and police officers and emergency workers that work around the clock to ensure our safety? Firefighters carry over fifty pounds of gear, not to mention running up and down stairs, prying entrances open, and carrying people. Who built firefighters to be able to handle that kind of endurance? Every person is built differently, each person thinks differently, every single person is unique. As humans, our mastery is to make things in mass. We make lots of the same kinds of clothes, we eat the same kinds of foods, we drive lots of similar cars, we build similar structures. God doesn't work like that. He molds and sculpts and paints each person like a canvas. No matter how many times he uses similar colors, he can never stroke in the exact same spot and in the exact same way, making each masterpiece unique. In my Cultural Heritage class we have been reading works from Ancient Greek philosophers. I came across this quote by Socrates, "True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us." I encourage each of you to go out this week, and look at the world around you, do not try to understand the complexities of life, simply bask in the pure joy that it was created for you.

Grace & Peace,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well beyond my years...

I have recently realized how fast my life is really going. Coming into a new year creates new possibilities, new adventures, and new landmarks within my life. I have realized that these years are precious and with each day the future becomes reality. I think the older I get, the more I think about the future and what God has planned for me. I talk often with friends about our plans for the future. Kids? How many? Marriage? To whom? Career? What? Where do I wanna live? What friends are gonna be in my life when I get to these points? What do I really want to accomplish in my life? So many questions that are discussed but mainly left unanswered. I am almost 20 years old which means my future is right around the corner. I was talking with a friend of mine last night about our lives and how fast these years at Hope College have been already. We can hardly believe that in a few short months we will be Juniors! For us, it is crazy to think because we remember, like it was yesterday, walking through those open doors into a dorm that we would live in for the next year without our parents for the first time. I am constantly reminded how much change happens in my life. I am currently in a brand-spanking new semester with new classes, new faces and new experiences. I am waiting for the time to come shortly when one of my best friend's leaves for Spain for 3 months and my brother leaves for Texas for the Air Force. All of this happening in the same weekend! You can expect a sappy mess out of me that week for sure. Constantly changing, constantly moving. That's life, right? Or like the French say, "C'est la vie!" This semester is definitely going to be a challenge for me both physically and emotionally. I plan on relying on God's strength to get me through it all. With all of the business of my life and the constant worry about the future, I forget that all I have to do is give it to God. Let Him fill me and consume my life. He knows the path he has for me and I will choose to follow him even when the going gets rough, and for sure it will. My prayer for you all is that you choose to give it God when worry and doubt seem to be all-consuming. Change is destined to happen and with God, we can get through it together.

Grace & Peace,

"But I've learned the hard way that change is one of God's greatest gifts and one of his most useful tools. I've learned the hard way that change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we've become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I've learned that it's not something to run away from, as though we could, and I've learned that in many cases, change is not a function of life's cruelty but instead a function of God's graciousness...If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits. They'll hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you. But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you'll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there's truly nothing sweeter. Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and begin to swim. begin to let the waves do their work in you." 

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist