A Promise is a Promise!!!

"Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands." Deuteronomy 7:9


Two years ago I started a journey with the Transforming Community, a group run by Ruth Haley Barton, that has radically changed my life!  It is a quarterly retreat for two years with the same 70 people.

I am preparing today for my last community retreat.  I was looking through old journals this weekend, unearthing what God has done through these two years, and it is simply hard to put into words.  I will try at some point, but very quickly here is what I found this morning.  I wanted to write this so I don't forget how this truth, or how amazed I am at our gracious God!

I was so struck when I looked through my journal from the first retreat... 


Two years ago I wrote these words, "I want to understand WHO I am in You God, and what that means for my life and my soul... I want a job I love... I want YOU to tell me who I am and WHOSE I am!!!"

Two YEARS ago I wrote these words at my VERY first Transforming Community, and on this morning I am staring at these words.  I forgot.  I forgot all I had asked God for two years ago, and now I see... our God keeps His promises!!!

I know this because this past week I was in Orlando for a Young Life planning meeting!  We got into groups Thursday morning, and the question we had to answer for part of the time was something like this, "What about 2015 has been exciting?"  And my response to each person was, "I just LOVE my job and can't believe what I get to do... it is the most me I have ever felt!!!"  It just rolled off my tongue.  I didn't even have to think about it!

TWO YEARS ago I wrote those words in a journal, tucked those words away, and did not realize TWO YEARS later, almost to the day, what GOD alone WOULD DO!!!

My goodness, there were trials these past two years... growing pains, deeper understanding of the Me God created, and ways God wants to keep challenging me!  But God provides!  God Gives!  God ALONE knows the deepest desires of our hearts, and on this DAY I am soooo sweetly reminded of that!  I am brought to tears knowing how FAITHFUL our God is!!!

It wasn't that I didn't like being an Area Director, I absolutely LOVE the kiddos and people I was honored to work with.  But I think two years ago I could feel the tension.  I knew there was something else I was designed to be doing.  Ways I had been created that I wanted to live into more fully.  My goodness our God answers!  IN ways I would never have imagined, NEVER could of articulated, with people to support me I could never have dreamed of, and through it all He is so faithful!!!  Our God is so FAITHFUL!

I don't know where you are this morning, and I don't know what trials you will endure on this day or days to come, but MY FRIENDS I am sitting in my house looking at these words with UTTER disbelief!  The God that has created us... loves us dearly... stands with us... and wants to give us good things does KNOW us!  Walk in that truth today.  Believe that promise today.  Stand firm on that foundation today.  You are known more than you could ever comprehend, and loved more lavishly than we think is possible.

This morning I am standing praising the FAITHFUL King of Kings... He is CRAZY Good!  And to Him, a promise IS a promise!

All the Single Ladies... Please Stand Up!!!

Yes, I would be standing!

Haha, There I said it... I am single!

Okay, it is not a very drastic statement, and I know most of you do know that!  But recently, the SINGLENESS of life has been coming up more and more!

I was at dinner with a few girlfriends during the holidays, and everyone at the table was not married.  Different stages of singleness, but all single ladies.  A comment was made before dinner, during red wine time, over laughter, and dating conversations, about it being "hard to Find a good man"... You know, a man who loves the Lord and wants that to be the center of a dating relationship.  A man who takes his faith seriously, and has that faith significantly impact his life.

For some reason I had a rapid response to this statement.  I am still not quite sure why, but I responded and said, "I don't think our job is to FIND a good man!"  

It was like a knee jerk reaction to a statement I have heard before... A statement I have probably said before!

I don't know why I responded so quickly, and I am not sure why that was my initial reaction.  See, I get where my friend was coming from!  And I think I could have said the same statement.  It does feel like that.  The real men are hard to find.  Or just plain aren't being found by me.  I'm still not quite sure?

It got me thinking... why would that bother me?  Why does that statement make me resistant so quickly?  Almost like I am physically pushing back against something that was put onto me.  Like I am playing hide and seek with a future spouse, but apparently I am HORRIBLE at finding said person!

It makes me think... Am I bad at finding a spouse?  Have I not been looking in the right spots?  Is my criteria is too high?  Do I need to change before someone can be found?

This sent me into a spiral of thoughts... and here is the place I have recently landed.  See, I don't know if as a single person my job is to FIND someone, or be on the hunt for someone!

If God is sovereign in ALL things, and for ALL things, then my God is sovereign in this too.  I mean truly.  I am not defective, or broken.  I don't matter less, or have a different value because I have had the same last name for 31 years.  

Brutal Truth... I would love to be in a relationship, and I think I would absolutely love being married.  I would cherish the opportunity to share life with someone (and have someone else take the dogs for a walk with me!!!).  BUT I know my God is in control of THAT!  See, I am not on a "finding" a man mission.  And to be honest, I don't want to put myself out there... Not like that.  Standing at a corner bar or lurking at a singles group for someone that looks like he might follow Jesus, loves laughing and dogs, and wants to know my name!

Here is what I believe today... My "finding mission" is to SEEK the Lord.  To FIND WHO I am in Christ alone.  My search is for the peace of Christ, more of the LOVE of Jesus, and to be FULLY commited to the Will of God!  It is in that... and that alone... where I WILL be FOUND.  For my life, my soul, for the very longing of being loved and known... If I search for that, if I am rooted in that... THEN married or not I am complete and enough in Jesus!

It is exhausting to think that searching for a good man is my responsibility!  AND really I don't want that to be on my list of things to do.  My search is to LOVE the Lord, and TRUST the Lord.  And in the midst of everything, to be dependent on the Lord.  Because my heart, being fully committed, will trust God when He does show up!  (Which just so we are clear Lord, he can show up anytime now!) Haha!

But to be honest... I love my life today.  Yes, there are some things I wish I could change.  BUT If you have been around me for any length of time in the last 4-5 months there is utter JOY in what I am honored and humbled to do each day!  IT is celebrating the simple joys of my life.  Tonight, I can drink red wine and eat popcorn for dinner if I want!  Haha, and I do!  AND my biggest hearts cry for all the other Single Ladies, who are standing, is that we would not settle.  We would not compromise.  We would hope in the Lord, who KNOWS the desires of our hearts!  I have seen amazing marriages and really hard ones.  Not to say the hard ones have settled, but I know that I will not be blissfully happy forever when he, "puts a ring on it!"  Life does not seem to work that way, and it appears marriage does not either!  I will ALWAYS need my God, and so in this season of my life who better to search after, know more intimately, and seek then God alone!  

There is NOTHING that is too BIG for my God, and that does not mean that being single is AWESOME every single day, but from my married friends I have heard the same is true for them.  I want to know that when the Lord does put an "us"  together for me... I am fully alive in Jesus, and not in the title of girlfriend or wife.  I want my self worth, value, and deepest knowing and longing to be for Christ alone!  That is hard enough for each day!  

I will keep my eyes, and my heart open for who God is placing in my path.  However, I do refuse the idea that if I muster up more courage or seeking of a potential boyfriend, that God will reward that searching.  IF the God of the Universe knows every single hair on my head... which is quite a few for me... then the God of Universe is in charge of this too!!!  It does not mean I can't be bold or courageous, but it does mean my singleness does not hinge on my ability to find someone or my control to "make things happen!"  

YOU my dear friends... Mrs., Ms., or Miss, have not been forgotten.  We each have such value and worth in Christ... be deeply committed to knowing and seeking that each day!!!

Well, that might be enough truth for today.

Single or married, my prayer for all of us is this: that we would search for the Lord, and find our value and place in Him! 


"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows" Luke 12:6-7

My People Monday... My NOW College Gals!!!

I've climbed a 14,000 foot mountain with them (that's a whole other story)!  I've led WyldLife with them!  I've laughed with them, and cried with them!  I've spent at least 5 weeks of my life with them at Young Life Camp!  I've slept in the lobby of a Hyatt with them.  Yep, in a lobby.  For over two years, most of Sunday Nights were with them!

I have known these girls since they were in 8th Grade!!!  They are now Freshman in College.  I have called them my Pioneers!  I was their Young Life Leader, somewhere along the way they stole my heart, and now I treasure being their friend!

I laugh EVERY time I see this photo... Climbing Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado at 14,060 Feet!

I laugh EVERY time I see this photo... Climbing Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado at 14,060 Feet!

At the end of this Christmas Break, Natalie already back at school, we sat across a booth from one another on a Friday Morning... 7:30am-10:30am... We laughed, talked honestly, gave life updates, and reminisced about funny memories!  I drank toooo much coffee, didn't want the time to end, and driving away my heart was bursting with thankfulness.  

You never know as a Young Life Leader what the Lord will do with your friends, and what maybe even more so, what your friends will decide to do with the Lord!  

These girls were the first group of friends I knew walking into Novi, and as I left my Area Director job there, they were graduating from NHS... Pretty fitting if you ask me.  We are all experiencing new things... New people, joys, pressures, and questions.  Newness is exciting, and sometimes a little scary.  There is something holy when you return to the familiar for a few hours.  When you sit across a table, and know the people on the other side care!  Know they are invested, and that memories and conversation leave you feeling valued. 

As I think about ALL our Seniors from last year... I am deeply, deeply grateful!  Grateful to walk alongside of such incredible friends... and even though it looks different now, when I am able to connect and hear how they are doing my heart rejoices.  I love how our friendships continue.  The journey is not over when they leave the halls of their high school... that is the heart of any Young Life Leader.  Part of my heartache watching them leave for college is trusting that the Lord knows best... BUT isn't that the problem with most things.  Trusting that God is in control and I am not!  I can't tell you the amount of times I have prayed for them, asked God to be with them, and wanted them to see how much more God has for them!  These friends are beautiful, wonderful, bold, courageous, and AMAZING... God has made them THIS way!

In a booth on a cold, snowy Friday morning I saw the Lord in each of these girls again.  I always do.  They have taught me more.  Taught me what joy, kindness, thoughtfulness, and patience looks like.  Being with these friends reminds me what true friendship feels like... When you are in the midst of it, you don't realize the depth of how dearly you know one another, but it is oh so real.  We have fought, and I'm sure there are more ways I screwed up as their leader than I even realize... (and for those moments I depend on God's grace!) 

And now with tears in my eyes, I can see the Lord has them and they have the Lord!  

I marvel at each of these young women, and here is why!  Their character... their integrity... the way they are becoming the women God has designed and created them to be!  The way their freedom has allowed them to grow, even in one semester of College!  I can't believe that two of them are Young Life Leaders now!   Speaking truth into kiddos, and being used by the Lord!

Here is a small glimpse of why I love these ladies...

Natalie leads YL at Dexter High School.  I went to Potbelly last spring with Natalie and our conversation left me with tears streaming down my face... God has done a mighty work in her life!  She asks great questions, is authentically herself, and has a very intentional heart! 

Alina leads YL at East Lansing High School.  We spent the month of July together at YL Camp... She loves from the deepest part of her heart, and knows the peace of Jesus in a way I marvel at!  She cares deeply for friends and family... and makes me laugh allll the time!

Maddy goes to YL Bible Study, and is unwavering in her convictions and faith!  Someone I look up to in the way she cares for others, and believes in our God... Maddy teaches me in a quiet, humble way!  

Abby is rowing for MSU and spending time with Athletes in Action... She still is one of the most involved, strongest people I know!  Abby is faithful, bold, and deeply committed to the Lord!  

Lindsey is a WyldLife Leader in Novi, works at Panera... and I will listen to ANY story she tells me!  Linds has a soft heart, and a fierce spirit... A Great Combination!  She is unapologetically herself!

Megan is playing Club Field Hockey and pursuing her faith at Penn State... Makes me laugh hard, and love the way she does what she wants, lives with zest and passion for Jesus, and does not compromise!!!

At Kelly's Wedding this past May!

At Kelly's Wedding this past May!

What I can tell you today... these girls have taught me more!  I know Jesus more.  I know friendship more.  I continue to know them more!

As a Young Life Leader I think sometimes we question the investment.  Does it all really matter?  Do I even know what I am doing?  We mess up, but we show up.  And in the midst of it all, we lean into Jesus!  And God covers it!  

The reality today is that these women have given me more.  I can't WAIT To see what the Lord has in store for them.  And I cannot thank them enough for what they have taught me through our 6 years of Friendship!  I thought I was leading them, but in so many ways they have been my leader!!!

On this Monday, let's vow to invest in one another!  Let's climb up mountains together and cheer one another on!  And then on snowy mornings, resting in the holy of familiar, sipping too much coffee, let's share the adventures we have been on!!! 

When Do You Take Down Christmas???

Taking Down Christmas... I keep looking around the family room... ALL of this stuff has to go back into boxes???


I have debated how long it is socially acceptable to keep these Christmas decorations up!

What have I landed on???  My sister's birthday! January 15th is when I need to have Christmas decorations down.  Well, at least having started!!!

The sad thing about putting these trees away is not only trying to get them to the basement into the Christmas Closet, but the house all of a sudden looks ordinary again.  No white lights, no more festive pillows, goodbye fake presents under the trees, and flakes of snow in every corner of the house!!!

Back to regular, ordinary, Blaaahhhhh...

Haha, but I think as I exclaim Blaaahhhhh I slowly realize it is the Blaaahhhh moments that make the Festive Season that much more spectacular!  If the house ALWAYS looked like this, well then there would be nothing fancy about it!

We chase Festive, Shiny, Sparkle... we don't usually chase ordinary, regular, normal. 

I have been thinking lately about this call to live Simply.  It is something that keeps nudging at me.  I haven't quite figured it all out yet, but what I do think is that simple can be beautiful.  To embrace the normal and the ordinary in life, and let God ADD His touches of sparkle and festive lights!  I mean to live right into the Will of God!

See, living in the simple helps us live with God at the center.  

Living in the simple means we don't have to muster up the sparkle!  Our identity, significance, is not dependent on how much WE shine, or twinkle.

As I watch the life that our God lived here on Earth, I notice He MASTERED the call to live simply.  

"Simplicity: He lived simply-- there was no effort to make an impression--he refused the spectacular, he spoke the language of the people; there was no pose of any kind; he kept silent when he did not know the answers... " 

Discipline and Discovery by Albert Edward Day

I know for me, I LOVE the spectacular and I embrace feeling unique (I am a 4 on the Enneagram after all!!!), but perhaps what God is asking me to embrace is HIS ordinary.  HIS walk, HIS talk... and many times following Jesus can feel ordinary!  It is real after all... Simple is real!  The fabric to our heart and soul becomes small joys, small victories, and simple pleasures.  The fabric of our soul becomes so very real. 

BUT simple is not easy.  In fact, simple is rather difficult!  Simple says, "I am investing TODAY... Where God is asking me to SHOW UP, and be Really Me!"  Simple asks our conversations to be seasoned with grace, goodness, and truth.  Our hearts to treasure what is in front of us, who is next to us, the simple of what God is asking us to do today.  Simple slows our heartbeat, steadies our eyes, and reminds our soul to sing a NEW song of Enough!  We are MORE than enough, as we are, with what we have, and what God is asking us to do!!!

I want to celebrate in the simple, and marvel at the moments of life that seem to twinkle, knowing that it is My God at work and not something I have mustered up!!!  I don't want to chase what makes me feel special.  Half the time that means just more chasing day after day.  

Instead, my hope for the simple is that in those moments God would be more real.  His power would be greater.  AND in the simple, my heart would be turned more to Him because there is less clutter in the way!  It is there where I think life begins to TWINKLE because God is displaying HIS light. 

As we put away the festive decor of Christmas, lets embrace the simple all around us this new year!!!

"The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple." Psalm 19:7

My People Monday... Mason and Milo!!!

Now I know it is My People Monday, but I have two snuggle bear Goldendoodle Dogs... Mason and Milo!

They are not TECHNICALLY people, but to me, they count!  

Here is what I want you to know about these two wonky, crazy puppies!

After driving to Nashville with these two Doodle Dogs this past week, I am reminded how funny they are!  Mason stresses out so much he rides on the console in between the two front seats, and leans on people in the passenger seat LIKE this (picture below)!!!  Yep, the WHOLE way!  AND keep in mind he is 90 pounds of dog!  AND Milo wants to ride in the front seat... Yes, on your lap... I swear that dog would try to drive if he could figure it out.  He will make his way to the front seat almost every hour just to check on things... Especially if you drive over the rumble strips on the freeway!!!  He hates those!

Uncle Bryce riding in the car with Mason!!!

Uncle Bryce riding in the car with Mason!!!

I love these two Pups, and quite frankly if you know me even a little bit, you know these two are incredibly important to me! 

Mason was given to me as a birthday gift from my parents... Cheri, one of my dearest friends from Grosse Pointe, found him in the Detroit Free Press!  I was volunteering at an Alzheimers Casino Day so my mom and one of her best friends, Sally, went to pick him up.  I left my house that morning NOT a Dog Mom... AND walked back in that night as one!  

Mason!  I'm sure I was asking him if he wants to go to the Puppy Park!!!

Mason!  I'm sure I was asking him if he wants to go to the Puppy Park!!!

Milo was searched for by myself and one of my other dearest friends, who I also met in GP, Mary Caitlin!  I swear it took me three hours to pick out Milo... MC had to devise a discard pile for the puppies because we were there so long!  Haha. She was VERY helpful!  Milo is Mason's security blanket... especially when I am gone!  Mason has always been a pretty anxious pup, but having Milo around has made a BIG difference!  They are besties!!!

Even though they are 7 1/2 and 6 1/2 now, I can't quite imagine my life being as full without these two hilarious Doodle Dogs!


He LOVES to sleep on the couch!!!  Sweety Boy Milo!!!

He LOVES to sleep on the couch!!!  Sweety Boy Milo!!!

Here are the MOST frequently asked Questions I get about them...

1. Do they sleep in bed with you? Yes, they sleep in my bed with me... Judge all you want, I actually stay MUCH warmer!  And they have figured out very easily how to sleep politely!  Haha!

2. Do they always have to follow you everywhere? Yep, they pretty much follow me everywhere... unless there is a BABY in the house or really any kid!  They LOVE being Dog Babysitters!

3. Do you talk to them out loud? Yes, sometimes... Okay, I talk to them ALL the time!  I'm FAIRLY certain that they know a little bit of what I am saying!  Trust me... they are crazy smart!

4. Are you afraid when you walk them? There are times I have to let the leash go... because YES they are stronger than me!  (Sidenote: When walking them I frequently pass people that say, "Who's walking WHO?"  I want to reply with "I AM... I am the HUMAN!"  Haha, but my typical response is, "depends on the day!")

5. Why do you look alike?  Haha, I never know how to answer this except to say I guess that is a good thing because I am there Dog Momma!!!  AND I love their wild and crazy hair!

Mason is quiet, sweet, has the BIGGEST heart of any dog I know, and loves like the gentle giant he is!  Milo on the other hand is loud, needy, hilarious, and ALWAYS demands what he wants!  Mason is in tune with people and situations, while Milo brings life to the party with his larger than life personality and bark!

They compliment one another.  They could not be more different.  They are best friends... Milo holds Mason's tail when they are running around the house, at the groomer, or the dog park.  It is one of my favorite things about them!  My groomer always tells me she has never seen two more attached dogs, and I absolutely LOVE hearing that!  (yep, sometimes I cry about how much I LOVE that.  haha, proud dog mom!)

Mason and Milo have taught me many things... I know more and more what love looks like because of these two... That might sound funny, but when I walk through the door they are there!  When I cry Mason puts his head on my lap and snuggles right into me.  Milo has this sweet way of pushing himself anywhere he wants to be... I love that about him!  He does not worry what anyone else thinks, he just barks what he needs... unedited!  They are attentive to each person that enters through our door, or leaves our house.  They defend, they protect... now granted sometimes against squirrels, but still their giant hearts are FOR me!  Mason and Milo love in a way that does not hold grudges.  They are not obsessed with finding the person that everyone thinks has it all together.  Instead, they simply love.  With their four giant paws, their big hearts, and their furry tails, which quickly become weapons at the sight of people,  they are always eager and excited to encounter others.    

They have taught me loyalty... My neighbors have told me they sit and stare out of the window in the front of our house together when we are gone, and you will oftentimes find Milo sleeping on my bed looking out the window.  They are incredibly loyal.  I think somewhere deep inside they know I am coming back.  If they could talk they would say to one another,"We will wait for her when she is gone, miss her, and go crazy when she comes home!"  They are so very loyal to the people they love, but especially to me!  They are devoted and consistent.  Their loyalty goes far beyond the way they are treated or how they feel... Mason and Milo are genuine in their response and sweetly committed to their people!

These two doodles have taught me about being present.  Walking, sleeping, snuggles... they live for each moment as it comes!  See Mason and Milo are not in charge of much, and they trust deeply.  Their option in life is to be present.  I am horrible at this, and I envy that about them.  At the dog park they are not worried about dinner, stressed about their hair cut, or angry because they did not catch that tennis ball on the 19th throw.  They are present in the moments they find themselves, and I LOVE that!  It has taught me about being present, noticing, and in moments where it can feel difficult I practice sitting and waiting... just like those two.  (they have mastered the Sit, but working on the Wait command!)

Mason and Milo in front of their tree!!!  Yep, we have a dog tree especially for them!!!

Mason and Milo in front of their tree!!!  Yep, we have a dog tree especially for them!!!

I know in their final days my heart will ache, and I will wish we would have had more time!  But I love these two gentle giants.  I am forever grateful for the way they have brought joy and humor into my life.

Those big, brown eyes that reassure me, and anyone they meet, we are loved exactly as we are, they will be loyal to us forever, and they will be present every single day!  Little lessons from my friends with four paws!

I am grateful God decided to make Dogs!

I am deeply grateful for my Massy and Miiizy!!!

Metro Detroit Young Life Capernaum... It Happened!!!

(I wanted to write this... very quickly, not edited (sorry Emily), and in not as much detail as I would hope, but just so you know... IT happened!!!)

In the words of my friend, wise woman, intentional, and Capernaum/Life Guru Lyn TenBrink, "Dreams do come true!"

LAST Night was a DREAM come TRUE!!!  

AND my friends... The LORD made it ALL possible!!!

We have 6-7 Leaders!  (1 para pro/Director of Special Needs Ministry, 1 social worker, 1 former Capernaum Leader!)

We have 4-5 Buddies!

We have Ward Church... Who has been nothing short of AMAZING... They continue to say, "Whatever YOU need!!!"  SERIOUSLY!

We have donors who have said YES... and to you I continue to say THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

AND LAST Night... we had 10 FRENDS walk through those doors!!!  10 FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!

Bradley was decorated as a Christmas Tree, Mary giving her talk about God, life and love, and friends eating dinner while Devaney and Holly (a Buddy) smile for the camera!!!

Bradley was decorated as a Christmas Tree, Mary giving her talk about God, life and love, and friends eating dinner while Devaney and Holly (a Buddy) smile for the camera!!!

About 4-5 years ago I knew the Lord was asking me to work with friends with disabilities!  I knew it... I had a sense that this was a population of people the Lord was asking me to be with, to love, to learn from, and to share Jesus with!  I said out loud to some people my hope, prayer, and dream... little did I know the Lord had other plans!!!

There were BIG and SMALL things along the way... Buddies in Novi with Debbie, Becky, and Devaney (friendships I TREASURE!!!), subbing at Novi High School, Potter's Wheel at Ward, Capernaum Friends at YL Camp... Ways to be in this community, to learn, to see Jesus clearly, and to be be called over and over by God!!!

It has been a longer road to get here, but this is bigger than my hope and dream to be in the lives of friends with disabilities!  God is on the move!!!  I thought it would be Young Life Capernaum in Novi, but little did I know God wanted it to be all over Metro Detroit... Available to students in Livonia, Farmington, Novi, and Walled Lake!!!

Last night I was a bundle of nerves... I couldn't believe it was going to happen!  

Sherry set up EVERYTHING before anyone else had even arrived... I showed up with game items, crafts, paper, and drinks... I couldn't believe my eyes!!!  My friends, SHE HAD OFFICIAL name tags SHE MADE!!!  Table cloths, tiny Christmas Trees, computer ready to go... It was Amazing!

THEN our first friends arrived at 6:15... THEY WERE HERE!!!  And 10 of them walked through the doors last night!!!

Sue welcomed friends and parents... The PERFECT person to do that because she knew like 1/2 of the students from her time in the Farmington schools!!!  AMAZING God!

WE had the BEST High School Buddies, and I got to watch my friend Michael who I have known since 7th Grade spend time with a new friend Colin... Michael was Awesome!  For an hour and half he showed Colin Jesus by pursuing him, loving him, singing with him, and getting him more marshmallow Santas than Colin could hold or put in his pockets!  AND Holly, Michael's sister, who is in 10th Grade... was called, "The Coolest Girl here" by one of our Capernaum Friends!!!  I mean COME ON!!!  Amazing GOD!!!  My two high school friends who are giving up their Thursday Night to be with friends with disabilities... AND they were a HIT!!!

Our Team Leader Mary, who was a YL Capernaum Leader in Ohio, gave an incredible talk!!!  AND she brought her fish which I LOVED!!!  ANIMALS at club... My heart was SOARING!!!  AND Mary made us OFFICIAL Binders... Team LEADER of My DREAMS!!!  Amazing God!

Another leader, Lauren who I have talked about Capernaum with for a long time now, worked a FULL day, and drove from Royal Oak to be with our Capernaum friends!  Who also asked her if she was on Facebook... A real sign of having FUN with someone!!!  Amazing God!

Lauren helping our friends get all decorated!  And Michael in the background spotted the camera!!!  Haha!

Lauren helping our friends get all decorated!  And Michael in the background spotted the camera!!!  Haha!

Taylor, a Rockstar Young Life Leader in Belleville, brought two of her high school friends to help out as Buddies!  I mean seriously... ABOVE and Beyond!!!!!!  Amazing God!

Capernaum Friends danced, sang, Made Human Christmas Trees, heard about Jesus, laughed, ate pizza, requested songs for January, took LOTS of photos... and it all happened from 6:30-8:00 on a Thursday Night at Ward Church because God is bigger than I could have asked or imagined!!!

(I am starting to type with furry... I wish I could convey to YOU how much JOY was in that room!!!  AND there is much more to say, but I have a conference call at 9:30am!!!  HAHA!!!)

I will end with this... I did not know exactly how He would make it possible, but just that He would do it... YOU can trust our God!  You can trust Him with your dreams, with your pain, and with your deepest hopes too!!!

AND more than anything... You can be BRAVE with Our God!

In May I was scared, nervous, and fearful about this position in Young Life...  There were so many unknowns, what ifs, and hard moments of trust.  This morning I am walking with a  FULL heart!  I am walking with absolute JOY, and a deep sense of gratitude... I am walking in the wake of HOW BIG our God is!!!

I am walking to the sound of Jingle Bells (which to me has never sounded SWEETER)... I am walking with eyes to see the BEAUTY Filled Life here on Earth and DREAMS that God makes possible... AND this is just the beginning!

Meet My Friend Dan!!!

Sing a new song to the Lord!
    Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.

Psalm 96

Meet my friend Dan!!!

Dan and John at our Potter's Wheel Christmas Pageant last year!!!  They were shepherds!

Dan and John at our Potter's Wheel Christmas Pageant last year!!!  They were shepherds!

Dan is on the left!  He is a Potter's Wheel Student!  (Potter's Wheel is a Sunday School Class for Adults with Disabilities!)  I have been volunteering with Potter's Wheel for about a year and a half now!

Dan is 57 this year, and works as a janitor at a local church.  On Sundays, his brother drives him to church because Dan does not drive!  Dan also doesn't read... at least very well from what I can tell.  It takes him a great deal of time and energy to read sentences, and sometimes he just recites from memory.  When talking with Dan, it takes a little while for him to formulate what he wants to say.  I have learned patience in these moments, and though it has been a process, I now love those conversations.  Dan thinks so very hard about what he is saying before he utters a single word!  

Our friendship has grown this past year!!!

We have Potter's Wheel from 9:30-10:30am on Sunday mornings, and then we walk to the bigger service together for Church.  Church is fast...  songs are fast, scripture is fast, transitions are fast, speaking is fast... All soooo very quick for Dan to process!  Oftentimes he will fall asleep!  Not because he does not care, but I think honestly because it is all soooo fast, it makes it difficult for him to follow. 

BUT what Dan does is SING!

He can't quite read the lyrics, but some he has memorized.  This Sunday we sang, "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus," and while you can't quite tell exactly WHAT he's singing, boy does he sing!  You can only make out a word or two, BUT he sings to the tune of the song.  And he sings loud!  I love listening to Dan sing to our God!!!  It is some of the most BEAUTIFUL music I have ever heard.  Honest, authentic, REAL!

Do you sing???  Would you today???

Sing to the Lord...  However, wherever!  Cry out to OUR God!  Let him comfort you.  Sing out of tune to Him.  Praise His Name!  Scream!  Celebrate!  SHOUT!!!  Cry!  Go to the Lord and just let your voice be heard in ANY way that needs to happen today.  He knows our hearts, He knows our voices... HE KNOWS US!!!

Standing next to Dan on Sunday mornings is sweet... The most tender worship!  Maybe the sweetest sound I hear each week... the sound of his heart praising his Creator in TOTAL authenticity!!!

I want to be more like my friend Dan!!!  

Today, I want to Sing... Out of tune, loudly, and with total abandon!!!  

Gratitude is MY Attitude!!!

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods."

Psalm 95:2-3

Yesterday my dad brought me breakfast... Totally surprised me.  Yesterday a man came to clean the furnace to make sure we were ready for winter's Polar Vortex x 100.  Yesterday I worked from home with two puppers I love, and enjoyed coffee Audry made for us.  Yesterday I went to work at my friends restaurant to make some extra cash, which is a huge GIFT during this time of year!  Yesterday I went to my forever friend's house and talked about things that are real.  Yesterday I went home to a house I love, with people who make it even sweeter!!!

And those were only parts of my day.  

My Dad brought me coffee and oatmeal!  Sweetest man!!!  PS Don't mind the mess behind it... We are decorating for Christmas this week... YOU will hear LOTS about this in the month of December!!!  

My Dad brought me coffee and oatmeal!  Sweetest man!!!  PS Don't mind the mess behind it... We are decorating for Christmas this week... YOU will hear LOTS about this in the month of December!!!  

My yesterday was full of moments... Moments that could seem simple and ordinary, but moments filled with goodness and gratitude.  I know this is pretty cheesy being the day before Thanksgiving, but I can't help to take a moment and say how GOOD and GREAT our God is!  How Thankful I am in these moments that make up my life!!!

TRULY... this has been the most wonderful, life giving seasons for me.  In fact, I was meeting with my Spiritual Director Clare... Who easily is one of the most wonderful people I have the honor of knowing!!!  Spiritual Direction is different than counseling.  When you meet with a Spiritual Direction they really listen to the rhythm of the Holy Spirit in your life!  As we met in October I cried the whole hour, which if you know me is not surprising (the Lord has made me incredibly sensitive)!  As we talked I told her how THANKFUL I was for this season of life.  We talked about the woman that wept at Jesus' feet... how her heart was so overwhelmed by the Glory of our God all she could do is weep in the presence of her  Savior. 

And so that is what I have done for the past few months... simply wept!

Now are all things perfect... CLEARLY No, but my goodness are things GOOD... Again and AGAIN I could scream AMEN!  I watch how my heart sees the blessings of each day unfold right before me!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the thing... I want to be marked, etched, molded with this season of my life!  I know there will be difficult things to come, but I can't wait to see who I am at the end of it.  I know that things will move and flow, there will be good and bad, but I want my moments to etched with the Lord.  Marked with His Favor, His Glory, His Gifts, and His Goodness!  Even in the sorrows and heartache of life, I want to remember all God has done for us, and through us! 

I have experienced deep gratitude in the moments that make up life... Moments that are made and shaped by experiences and people.  There are SOOOO many people in my life that are FOR me... FOR what God is doing... Cheering me on EVERY SINGLE step I take!  IF I sit back and think of HOW MANY PEOPLE are WITH ME I will cry again!  I am amazed as God has provided a team, an army of people who stand with me.  From dear friendships, roommates, blogging helpers, financial overlords, bosses, Capernaum leaders and buddies, neighbors, sisters, brothers, teachers, co-workers, and my fabulous family near and far!  An army of people who have continued to whisper encouragement to me in different ways, but each voice is saying WHAT IS TRUE, What is ROOTED in Love, and WHAT is worth Celebrating and STICKING to!!!

It is with this army of people my heart is turned to Gratitude!  There is Boundless Goodness to life, and I want to live in that spirit!

Today I want to see EACH person, place, and thing with eyes of GRATITUDE!  With a thankful spirit that sees where God is leading!!!

I am looking with a heart that YEARNS for God to Show UP bigger than I can imagine, and at each corner I wait expectantly before God to CRY OUT THANK YOUUUUUU!!!!!!   

And with that I have started a Gratitude Jar... (Yep, thank you Andrew Shuffett!!!)  Andrew tagged me in this post on Facebook explaining the Gratitude Jar!  I can't WAIT to fill this thing with an attitude of gratitude!  Soooo this next year I will write ALL the things I am grateful for down and next Thanksgiving I will open this Jar!

Want to JOIN me... soooo far it is SOOOOO FUN!!!!

Cheers to the Boundless Goodness our God Gives!!!  Happy Thanksgiving to YOU and your Family!!!

Do You Show Up???

(I have been working on my post from the Storyline Conference, but wanted to share this interaction today.)

I can't stop thinking about Kathy... Or Cathy... I don't actually know!

I was flying home from a Beeeeautiful wedding in Carillon Beach Sunday morning, and as I boarded the flight, might I add VERY early flight, I was looking forward to sleeping for the 45 minute quick trip to Atlanta to catch my connecting flight.  I purposely don't buy coffee on that first leg because I was thinking, "YESSSSS, THIS is when I sleep again!"

I got a little panicky because the gate agent made an announcement about a full flight which is EVERY standby passengers worst nightmare!  To which at that point, I had to talk myself out of really entertaining the idea of driving to Atlanta... I mean REALLY how much would that cost?  And the rental car places aren't open until 7am, and at that point I should just wait for the 7:25am flight (and on and on)!  I took VERY deep breaths and lovingly reminded myself that it was going to be okay, and driving to Atlanta seemed a little premature at 5:30AM! 

BUT I DID get a seat!  I always do a little dance walking down the jetway, and onto the plane... Smiling because IT HAPPENED!!!  (IF you fly standby often you know what I mean!)

I settled into my seat next to a very nervous flyer on the right!!!  I actually texted her husband, per her request, to tell him she was on the plane (her phone was not working!)  It is the first time I have ever texted, "Hey Bae," and double checked that it was what we were actually saying to her hubby!

I laughed and told her I have never actually texted anyone that before!  She seemed surprised, but explained what Bae meant.  I didn't need a lesson, but it was funny to hear someone literally say, "He is my Before Anyone Else!"

It was after that interaction I noticed the woman across the aisle from me was crying.  I was not sure if it was the crying that is from nerves or something else so I decided to let it go for a few minutes.  She continued to weep.  

As I listened to her continue to cry, I leaned over and said to her, "What is your name?"

"Kathy" or "Cathy"... (We will go with Kathy), she replied.

"Are you a nervous flyer too Kathy?" I asked.

With tears streaming down her face she said softly, "I got a call at midnight last night that my son died.  I am on my way to South Bend.  My other son is awaiting a heart transplant, I always worry about him, but never this son... Never this son."

I reached across the aisle, and placed my hand on her shoulder.  I told her I would pray.  I left my hand on her shoulder for awhile.  And then I just listened.  She had photos with her, and talked about his daughter.  I watched passengers and flight attendants rally around her giving hugs, water, and kleenex.  And Kathy cried.  She sat and cried.  I cried.  It was one of the hardest 45 minutes I have experienced with a stranger.  Where does one see hope in such grief, and shock too?  

I realized in these situations we can’t do much.  Offer a shoulder, extend our condolences, prayers, and listen, but we can’t change it.  We can’t make it different.  Kathy knew that.  What she was looking for were people.  People to tell her story to, to cry with, and to share who her son was and who she had dreamed he would be.  

I've spent a lot of time thinking about Kathy this week, and continue to pray for her as she endures this trial.  My short 45 minutes on that plane from Panama to Atlanta reaffirmed a truth for me.  We have to keep showing up for each other.  I mean truthfully, showing up with every ounce of broken, mess, chaos, agenda driven lives!!!  Show up for our best friends, and for our strangers!

It is one of my favorite things about Jesus... He was present, He showed up, and He sat in the pain, the mess, the confusion, and let people TELL their stories!!!  I love His interaction with the woman at the well because he simply showed up.  He was present, available, and open!  Where is God challenging me to live this way... Out in the real world?

For every person we encounter we get to be Jesus in those moments.  The Holy Spirit lives in us, it is Christ through us that gives hope, peace, comfort, and love.  I think it's not so much in the words we speak, but HOW we live!  Showing up knowing wherever we go each person we encounter is a loved creation from our God!  

Who in your life could use you to show up today?  Who is the stranger in the grocery aisle, nail salon, coffee line, the employee at Costco who simply needs you to be present?  It is a GREAT honor to be used by the Lord in these tender moments.  To be used in a place where life feels too messy, and ALL somebody wants is to be heard!

Don’t stop showing up… Even if there are no words, sometimes all it takes is a reach across the aisle!!!

Pace in HIS Presence!!!

Today what I am mostly longing for is my bed... Do you have those days?  Where a forbidden nap sounds like the best way to fill your afternoon, but your list of Must-Do and Should-Have-Done-A-Week-Ago is continuing to pile all around you!

Well, this is what I woke up to this morning and I HAD to take a picture.

Snuggle Doodles in the Morning!

Snuggle Doodles in the Morning!

I want to snuggle in and sleep the day away because the fall season contains moments of pure  exhaustion, busy schedules, and a ready-to-retreat mentality... YES, some of those things feel true today, but mostly I am in AWE of WHO God is, and what HE ALONE is doing!!!  The Lord is showing up, and He is SHOWING Off!!!  And as completely inviting as a nap sounds I crave that more!

People ask me before I speak if I still get nervous… The short answer is HECK YES!!!  Are YOU kidding me???  I would like to fall into a hole when I think about speaking or being in front of people!  Honestly, every.SINGLE.time.  Before I do anything in front of a group, I imagine ALL of the things that could happen to make the whole "getting on stage thing" disappear... TRULY!!! 

At a Young Life Banquet this past week I was pacing (yes, I am a pacer)... It helps me center myself in the Lord... I am reminded of truth, grace, and love as I pace circles in public places, bathrooms, behind stage, or closets... Really wherever I can find (I truly can't sit still before I speak).  God's truth washes over me as I pace.  I ask repeatedly that He would be WITH me, that I would Hear His Voice, and that this would be for His Glory!  On this night, pacing around in my circle, I saw the fire alarm RIGHT in front of me... There was a very serious part of me that thought about just PULLING that thing!  My immediate NEXT thought was... Can I go to jail for that???  I mean we would HAVE to Evacuate!  People would panic, and I could slip out the back... Right???  Driving away at a VERY high rate of speed I could just give the talk to MYSELF in the car... It's practically the SAME thing... RIGHT LORD???  

At the very moment my imagination was starting to run WILD... which tends to happen pretty frequently... and in the midst of my swirling thoughts, a woman approached me and asked if my hair was Real (a question I get MORE often then you would think is humanly possible)...

I quickly said, "Yes, naturally curly, red, and huge!"  I laughed, and so did she. 

And then I looked right to the Lord and said, "I see YOU"... I see you Jesus, pulling me right back to YOU!  God says to EACH of us I have DESIGNED YOU... I, the LORD, have created YOU!  FOR GOOD Works... Now be courageous WITH ME!  

It sounds strange, a woman asking about my hair reminded me WHO was Lord of my life, but truly I could see God in that interaction, sweetly whispering to me, "I am Here. YOU, Kelsey, are Mine!  DESIGNED with hilarious, giant, red, curly hair... USED for MY GLORY, My GOODNESS Here on Earth!  NOW GO!!!  Be COURAGEOUS!!!"

I have spoken 6 times in the past 8 days... And EACH time my heart pounds and I want to sink slowly into a place where I am not seen, not heard, not known!  And then at some point I WATCH Jesus show up!!!  At that moment I feel the loss of pressure to perform, and instead the JOY of being invited to stand NEXT to my God... and listen to what He has to say!!!  It happens differently every time, but IT happens. 

In Joshua 1:9, the Lord says, "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

I want to live in that tension... That in EVERY way, and in EVERY single thing I do I NEED God to show up that BIG!!!  I need to trust God WITH ALL I am!  I desire to live in every moment WITH Courage I cannot possibly do this without Him, and I wouldn't dare try!

Today would you pray WITH me that God continues to show up... that God shows off... that WE would be AWARE of His presence today!  That in His Calling to be COURAGEOUS we wouldn't just RUN to fire alarms, but instead we would pace in His presence!

I will also pace in His Presence in Nature... Looks funny doing circles in our backyard!

I will also pace in His Presence in Nature... Looks funny doing circles in our backyard!

Pacing in His Presence is WHAT God is calling, asking, challenging us to do WITH Him!!!  Seeking HIS face first... I am designed and created to share... that does not mean there is an absence of fear, but instead I stand FIRM on my Foundation that God is WITH Me, FOR Me, and has gone AHEAD of Me!   

What does that look like for you???

Where do you see the uniqueness of YOU standing next to the God that has made you for THAT very reason???  Fearful maybe, but seeking Courage to STAND NEXT to the God of the Universe!

Dear Friend, I will pray for US today that we will LIVE in such a courageous way where WE Need GOD, and celebrate WHEN He shows UP and CLEARLY Shows OFF!!!

After all, that's when Pacing in His Presence quickly TURNS to DANCING!!!