before i die

For sometime now, I have kept a list of things I want to do before I die. Well, I've accomplised quite a few so here's the updated list in no particular order. The stars (*) with the info indicate things I've already done.

1. Heli-Boarding

2. Sky Diving

3. Bungee Jumping

4. Attend the Winter Olympics

5. Visit Chile

6. Backpack for a month or more

7. Coast-to-Coast Road Trip

8. Live in CO

9. Go to Carnival in Rio

10. Dive the GBR

11. See a Broadway Show

*"Wicked" November, 2007

12. Deep Sea Fishing

*Florida, 25 miles out from the Isles of Capri. 2005, 2006, and 2007

13. Set foot on all 7 continents

14. Live in Africa

15. See Mayan Ruins

*Chichenizta Ruins, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.-March 2007

16. Climb an Active Volcano

17. Summit Mt. Saint Helens

18. Go to an FIFA game

19. Visit Prague

20. See a concentration camp

21. Meet the current President

22. Visit Ireland, visit county Armagh where my family is from

23. Surf in HI

34. Learn to play Cello

35. Hike a section of the App. trail

36. Cliff Diving

*Tennesee River, Outside of Knoxville-1999

*Cenote "Ik Kil" outside of Pista, Yucatan, Mexico 2007

37. Climb at LEAST one of the seven Summits

38. Backcountry Riding

*2004, 2006, 2007. -CO

39. Work as a Backcountry Guide

40. Walk a section of the Great Wall

41. Run a Marathon-finish in under 3 hours

42. Complete a Triatholon

43. Name a Star

44. Rodeo 720

45. Swim in Every Ocean

46. Visit Los Isles Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

47. Niagra Falls

*Toronto, 2004

48. Visit Easter Islands with my Dad

49. Write a book

50. Kite Boarding

51. Sleep in a tree

52. Sleep in my Hammock for 365 days consecutively

*currently haven't made it past 28 days...

53. Take a Kayaking coastal trip

54. Own a Dog

55. NYC


56. Eat an insect

57. Ride at Snowplanet or Tokyo Dome (indoor snow resorts)

58. Ride at Whistler & Blackcomb

59. Swim in a Fountain

60. White Water Rafting

61. See Midnight Sun AND Northern Lights in Alaska

62. Get my pilot's license

63. Get AASI Level 1 & 2 Certified
*Level 1 certified-January 24-25th, 2009

64. Get AAIRE Level I & II Certified

65. Plant a garden

66. BASE (Building-Antenna-Span-Earth) Jump

68. Have a piece of my art publicly displayed

69. See the catacombs in Europe

70. Attend an All-Blacks game (NZ's Rugby Team)

71. Visit Venice, Italy

72. Zorbing

73. Victoria Falls

74. Visit the MMoA in NYC

75. Visit at LEAST 4/7 of the new wonders of the world.

*1. Chichen Itza, Mexico 2007

76. Visit the Valencia Aquarium

77. Go on a Wine Tasting tour

78. Paragliding

79. Join the Traveler's Century Club (i.e. travel to 100 or more countries to obtain membership)

*current count...3...this one may take a "lifetime" haha

thoughts after reading "a grief observed"

"I need Christ, not something that resembles Him."
-C.S. Lewis

I think that this is the tragic flaw, the pitfall if you will, of the young Christian women of my generation. We fall in love not with the Creator, but with the creation. We fall in love with the "idea" of a man. We place the man, the creation, upon a pedestal and expect him to provide the perfection we desire. I think that we, young Christian women, are in desperate need of a reality check. To expect that because a man is Christian, he is without flaw, never to be rebuked, never to be assisted when he stumbles is not only ignorant and unrealistic, it is dangerous. There is nothing more dangerous than to ignore the reality that God has set before us.

We are flawed, we are not now, what we should have been. We are fallen, we have come away from what we were.

Women of Christ. Daughters of God. Chosen ones of the Most Holy. Only one man will ever satisfy you. Only one man will ever know you inside and out. Only one man will ever give you what you need. Only one man will ever fulfill you.

Jesus Christ.

Friends. We must love the Creator before we can love the creation.

into the woods.

"How vain it is to write when you have not stood up to live."
-Henry David Thoreau

"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
~Henry David Thoreau

friends, i am going into the woods.

so many talented friends...

A dear old friend of mine is a talented artist. Please check out Chris's work.


i just can't seem to shake this....blah.

the fragility of life.

"get a life. get a real life. a life in which you stop and wonder and are full of awe."
-Professor Diane Portfleet

"it is better to die than to live and not breathe."
-johnny y. and sam p.

these are my vital signs

i stole this idea from amelia.

these are the things in my life that remind me i'm alive. these are things that make life worth living. these are my vital signs.

longboarding on a windy, beautiful fall day with incredible friends.

playing guitar by myself on a rainy day.

watching dead poets society with good friends.

driving in my car with the windows down and trees changing colors and a warm breeze and good music.

running in the rain.

having real conversations. about life. about the joy and the suffering. and about the God who makes all things new.

worshipping in chapel.


the first snow.

good coffee with good friends.
books. good ones. books worth reading.

hot apple cider.

best friends. one in particular who reminds me to breath.
"Love is not a victory march." -Leonard Cohen

"shalom in the home"

Jesus came to bring peace.

In the english language we translate the hebrew word shalom into peace. But this translation loses so much of the meaning of the word. We think of peace as an absence of conflict, but I don't believe this is an accurate translation. I believe that Jesus came for more than an absence of conflict. I believe Jesus came to do more than just forgive our sins.

Now don't get me wrong here. We need the cross. We need what was done on the cross. We need the words, "it is finished". But we also need what was done off the cross. Jesus didn't just cancel out our sins and call it good. He did so much more than that. I desperately feel that we forget what happened off the cross. We forget that Jesus rose. We forget that Jesus brought healing. We forget that Jesus brought Life.

Friends. I believe that Jesus brought shalom. I believe that Jesus brought a peace that not only forgives our iniquities, but restores us. I believe that God calls us everyday to restoration. I believe that God is restoring me and you and your neighbor and these autumn trees. I believe that God is turning us back to what we were meant to be. I believe not in an absence of conflict, but the spring-time green of new life. I believe that you and I friend, are being restored this very moment.

A dear friend of mine, Quinn, is a wonderful and beautiful lady, full of life. One of her favorite words is shalom. Every now and again I hear her say this wonderful phrase, "Shalom in the home." And you know what. I believe it. I believe that through the grace of Christ, we can have homes filled with shalom. I believe our homes can be places of healing. Places of restoration. Places of life. I believe that even our homes are being restored. I believe that shalom is not just a state of being, but a process. A state of life. I believe in a life that is flooded to its deepest roots with shalom.

The sum

Last week, Josh Banner, our worship leader at Hope College talked about why liturgy is so essential to the church, and what it does for us as a body.

about the sum being greater than the sum of it's parts. that's what we are when we proclaim our beliefs together. that's what we become when we raise our voices in proclamation. that's what we are a part of. we are a part of something much greater than just ourselves.

because for a moment, when we raise our voices to proclaim, we are not as small as each of us. no. we are greater than all of us.

it is this incredible, miraculous, beautiful knowledge that affirms are minds and steadies our hearts.

yes. yes. yes we are apart of something so beautiful. wonderful. amazing. astounding. refreshing. renewing. unshakeable.

you could count up our cells and everything that makes us up. but you would not get a human being. because somewhere along the way, someone is breathing life. someone is breathing hope. someone is breathing abundance. the sum is so much greater than the sum of our parts.

"how to fight loneliness "

"How to fight loneliness
Smile all the time
Shine your teeth to meaningless
And sharpen them with lies

And whatever is going down
Will you follow around
That's how you fight loneliness

You laugh at every joke
Drag your blanket blindly
Fill your heart with smoke

And the first thing that you want
Will be the last thing you'll ever need
That's how you fight it

Just smile all the time
Just smile all the time
Just smile all the time
Just smile all the time


i've been incredibly, almost unbearably lonely this summer.

and maybe you think i'm silly because you've hung out with me a lot this summer or because i smile and laugh and sing.

but i've been lonely. and i'm not sure i ever felt this depth before.

i was on the phone with my mother a few weeks ago. we began to talk. and i began to talk about how badly i want a dog. and as i tried this act for the millionth time (i've been working on this since birth), she said something that pierced me. and maybe it struck me so deep because it was true, but more so i think because i was afraid to admit this to myself.

she told me, "you don't want a dog. you're just lonely."

and she was right.

and i'm not sure that she even knew how deep a chord she had struck. i quickly wrapped up the conversation and shut my phone. and i pulled my car over to the side of the road.
and i cried.

not a lot.
but i cried just a little for myself.
i cried for myself.
and then for my selfishness at crying for myself.

and you know. it's been good. because its made me examine myself like i've never done before. i've had to face the cruel reality of who i desire to be and who i really am. and how far apart those people are. i've had to lay down a lot of pride. and being on my own has forced me to do that. to examine myself. not just to vent to other people, but to look at the issue as it is, instead of through a vail of pride and stubbornness.

it's been good. it has. but writing it out. its strange. it makes it a little too real. to admit just how alone i've felt. it scares me to hit the "publish post" button and release this into the world.

but its growth. and i've done a lot of growing this summer. so here it is.

here's reality.

i've been really lonely and i think alright with it.


this summer i learned humility. i'm still figuring out exactly what that looks like. but i know that i've learned a lot about it. i've learned how to examine myself. how to be honest with myself. and i think, for the first time. i'm alright with that degree of honesty.

so thank you. thank you thank you thank you.

i know that you weren't sure if you were ever going to break my hard hard heart.

but you did.

and i'm grateful.
so. so. so.

"i write because it keeps me sane. because i find God in that place where my thoughts escape my finger tips and make contact with my keyboard."

"about 90 percent of the reason i write is for what it does on the inside of my life, and about 10 percent for what it does on paper. "
-shauna niequist

before i sit down to write. i usually have about a million different things racing every which way through the folds of my mind.
i usually set my stuff down, grab a cup of coffee, sit down, check the weather, check my email, etc.
well, I check my email, then I add events and meetings and workout schedules and work schedules to my calendar. and then i think about how busy i am. how little time i have. and i think about how tired i am. then i panic about how i will handle my new schedule in the fall. and how i am going to get good grades. and then i think about things like the pull and lacrosse and sailing team and how i will make all of those work. and will i have enough energy left to do all of them. especially working a 5 am shift? and all of that craziness makes me think about my grades again.
and my grades make me think about how badly i want to be a veterinarian. and then i think about why i'm here. and can i really justify spending this much money on school every semester? then i wonder if it's really worth it? and am i really where i'm supposed to be?
but then i remember how i was brought here. and that i had no part in ending up at this college. and i remember that saturday afternoon in the kitchen. i remember sitting down with my parents, and them telling me that Hope was where i had to go. it was cheapest with financial aid. and i had no choice. it was Hope or nothing. and i remember being so upset. with them, with myself, with God. and i remember being so crushed. so, so crushed. i was going to be stuck in holland forever.
but then i remember the past year. the overwhelming beauty, brokenness, and love i've experienced. and all the things i thought weren't possible, became so much more so. and dreams and hopes and stories whispered under breath were no longer fiction or wishful thinking, but reality. and i learned more about God and therefore, more about myself.
and the learning reminds me of the seemingly insurmountable walls i faced. the ones i thought i'd never get through. and the hardship, the brokenness reminds me of the immeasurable blessings.
but the blessings make me wonder if i'm still on the right path. and i walking in a way that pursues the narrow gates? and i panic and worry about my schedule and school and everything over again. and i wonder if i have any chance of making a difference in this world. any chance at all. or if i'm just a crazy, aimless, dreamer? am i waiting to change the world? why am i not changing the world now? and maybe with all these crazy thoughts, it's best i didn't.

and that's the craziness inside my head.

and that's why i write. because, understandably, if i didn't. i might lose it. i write because when i scribble things down and rearrange and organize and visually see the craziness, the insanity looks a little less scary. it looks a little less overwhelming. because when i write. i believe in the good. in the beauty. in the joy. when i write. some part of me empties onto the screen. words tumbling out faster than i can type them. and i rewrite entire paragraphs because i get so ahead of myself. like i've been saving up all these words. and they explode onto the screen in front of me. i write because it keeps me sane. because i find God in that place where my thoughts escape my finger tips and make contact with my keyboard. i find him there. and when i do, i feel like i am breathing for the first time.

"when i write, i believe that all the ideas might have a place, instead of just running themselves around and around in a circle. writing gives me a place to use all the flashes and thoughts and rabbit trails that rattle themselves around in my head making me crazy. writing is my best chance at happiness, and it is the riskiest thing i can do. but that's how life is. the riskiest things always yield the best, most beautiful things. what writing teaches me, over and over, is that God is waiting to be found in the darkest corners of our lives, the dead ends and bad neighborhoods we wake up in, and in the simplest, lightest, most singular and luminous moments."
-shanua niequist

"and it was good."

i've written in passing about this before. but regardless. i found myself thinking about it today.

it's april 2004. my friend matt and i were sitting at the top of a mountain. by top, i mean some where over 12,000 FASL. we had arrived at the top of a ridge. we were so far up that the trees had ceased to grow any higher, making a crisp, green line across the gray snow below us. we unstrapped our left feet from our boards, settled them into the crook of our arms, and looked up towards the top of the ridge. we began to climb up about another 40 feet. we got to the top.

the two of us.


enveloped in our own thoughts. enveloped in the sheer magnitude of the beauty around us. enveloped in the overwhelming feeling of being so small, yet part of something so much greater than ourselves.

i've never felt such a loss for words. a feeling, a sight, a moment so much greater than our small lives, that to put it into words would be a crime.

there were only a few small words uttered up there on that sharp, rocky, peak.

we had been sitting there for i don't even know how long. matt didn't even turn his head to look at me. and i didn't even answer his question. but quietly, and almost under his breath, he simply said, "i don't know how you can see this and not believe in a God." I'll never forget that moment. ever.

there is something in that fiercely cold afternoon that speaks to something deep within me.

it's the same thing that spoke to me last summer. ally and i drove out to the marina late in the summer evening. the hot sting of the day had succumbed to the coolness of the night. we walked out to the end of the docks and laid down on the wide wooden dock. we gazed up at the stars. we watched hundreds of meteors. flying, hurdling, flaming chunks of space rock streak across the night sky. we laid there staring up at the great unknown well into the night. at one point, ally slowly spoke a few words, echoing the words of another friend, "how can you see this and not believe in a God...?"

i think that too often we separate our world into two separate places. a physical and spiritual world. when the truth is. they are one in the same. creation speaks so strongly of a creator, because that's what it was designed to do.

God reached across the earth and covered it with beauty and majesty and ceaseless wonders.

"and it was good."


God is good.

and life is so so so good.

but i truly miss all their lovely faces.


things i've learned lately. (+ random thoughts/remarks):

good friends are good friends through highs and lows.

holland is beautifully sleepy in the mornings.

suntan lotion is a nice luxury.

God is steadfast and sure.

i'm not so steadfast....

i'm terrible at saving money.

i know how to change a tire.

turns out my car has a spare tire, jack, and wrench thing under the carpet in the back. (rob conrad is a car genius)

when in doubt, call dad. he can fix everything.

my landlord is actually a very understanding man.

i like a new tea. pomegranate-papaya.

teaching sailing is more work than going sailing.

i love middle school age kids. they are so great. so. so. so. great.

as a student said this week, "so you're 19, so you're in charge of yourself?"


i miss the beach, even when i live 5 minutes from 5 beaches....

new sunglasses are the best.

fall is going to be challenging. but good. really. really. really good!

i'm not always who i claim to be. i'd like to change that.

i love my brother. a lot. i miss him. a lot.

"i need to change the way i look at, all i look at..."
-warren barfield

another world?

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"our wildest dreams aren't half wild enough..."

Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus’ life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable?” No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short, it provokes him to no end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem; it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of.
-Rob Bell, “Velvet Elvis”-

it’s true, you know?

It really is. How frustrating it must be to be the creator, the sole designer of a species that has barely even scraped away the surface of their potential?

we are a people designed for great things.
We were not designed to live small, insignificant lives.
But rather,
We were designed to live lives that matter.

Lives well lived.
Lives lived big.
Lives lived in the acknowledgement of the crazy, beautiful, mad scientist that created them.

It’s not that we live our lives too loud, but rather that we tiptoe around them.

Dream wilder.
Live louder.
Pray crazier.

My friend Amanda said this in her blog, Zecer:

“Our wildest dreams aren’t half wild enough"

"except you ravish me"

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."
-John Donne

in light of recent conversations...

recently i've seen a few people from my past and it's left me with some decisions.

namely one. i have no time for bitterness, anger, or cruelty. there is too much of that in the world already. there is too much brokenness. hate. racism. hopelessness. apathy. sexism. suffering. ignorance. there is already all too much of that on this small little planet.

i want to be around people that make me want to wake up and choose good things. like life. hope. abundance. joy. selflessness. humility. servantship. growth. beauty. love. Jesus. i want to surround myself with beautiful people who reach deep down into my soul, and find the best in me. i want to have relationships with people who love and know God. who want more than just an "ok" life. more than just alright.

now don't get me wrong here. i'm not saying that i'm afraid to stand up for what i believe. or that i don't get angry at things like genocide, poverty, child abuse, abortion, or war. these are things worth being angry about. these are things worth taking a stand on.

choose your battles friends.
choose them wisely.

why dwell on the negative comments of bitter people?

life has so much more to offer you than this.

fight for the things that truly matter, and let the rest go.

when did salvation get an army?

a man at salvation army was really nice to me today.

he asked me how my day was going.
he helped me find a weird skirt that i turned into a cute dress.
he told me that hope students get 10% off.
he told me that skirts were on sale.

what a nice man.

best salvation army day EVER.

i got four things:

1. ugly skirt turned cute dress
2. a slip for the skirt
3. a beautiful brown cardigan sweater
4. a cute striped tee from JCrew

like i said. best day EVER.

"friend. i would take a bullet for you"

"'Cause I would take a bullet for you
I would take a bullet for you
I would cross any line, I'd swim across the sea
I would take a bullet for you
I would take a bullet for you
I would lose it all, I'd take my fall
To show you it's for real"

"i want to get home every night and be exhausted..."

i truly love living.

is that so strange?

i really do.

i love it. i love it. i love it.

i like waking up in the morning and breathing deeply.
i like stretching and yawning loudly.
i like working outside in the harsh summer sun.
i like arizona tea.
i like good friends.
i like the community table at LJ's.
i like sketching and painting.
i like the water. the waves. the lake.
i like hookah on the beach.
i like rebellious drives in my little red station wagon.
i like to ride my bicycle.
i like running until i cannot go any farther, then turning around and running home.
i like the way my skin turns bronze.
i like dinners on tuesday nights.
i like silly music.
i like writing music.
i like playing music.
i like music.
i like my camera.
i like that circuit city has good warranty protection plans so i can fix my camera.
i like indecisive frattes.
i like mind, body and soul coffee.
i like lovecake.
i like miss ally jester.
i like my dress, that may actually be a shirt, but i don't care.
i like friday dinners with my parents.
i like call my brother and talking with him.
i like dreaming big.
i like good talks.
i like deep conversations.
i like sarcasm.
i like surprises. (especially ones that look like little red station wagons)
i like silly dancing with house mates.
i like living on my own.
i like thinking about serious decisions.
i like making big changes.
i like knowing who i am.
i like knowing that i am enough.
i like friends who aren't afraid to tell me to stop being a jerk.
i like puppies.
i really like puppies.
i want a puppy.
i like the pitbull puppies that are all over our neighborhood.
i like my grandparents.
i like teasing my g-pa on the phone.
i like my aunt marjie. she's the best.
i like teaching sailing.
i like nannying.
i like middle schoolers.
i like my new hat.
i like jesus sandals.
i like misty edwards.
i like mate tea.
i like life.

i really do.
i really. really. really. really. like life.

it's so. so, good,

and i want to live it out. i want to run and dance and skip and jump. i want to run and roll down hills like trees. i want to see the world and meet people and talk to them and soak up everything i possibly can. i want to get home every night and be exhausted, because i truly lived out every moment i could.

let's live friend.
let's breathe deep.

let's set this world on fire.

"hello goodbye?"

tonight on my way to the coffee shop, "lemonjellos", where I am sitting right now, i passed a lady on the stairs of my apartment. she said, "hello" and asked how i was. i replied, "good."

now here's the strange part.

after i said, "good", she said, "good thanks."

the unusual part of this conversation wasn't that she was good, but that i had never asked her how she was. i never said, "and how are you?" she just assumed that i would ask. interesting isn't it? and i don't that she even realized what she had said. i think she was just on auto pilot.

isn't it strange? how easily we walk through life without even noticing things or truly interacting? our questions and responses are simply dictated by the norms of society. we don't think about our words until they are flying, hurdling, tumbling out of our mouths with no chance of ever catching them again. our tongues have been set loose without restraint. we speak. we scream. we declare. we proclaim. we whisper. but we never think. how strange. we have lost the ability to think. or maybe not so much the ability to think, but rather to prioritize. we have placed speaking in front of intelligent thought.

i hope i'm not just hurdling through this life on autopilot. i hope i'm looking around. i hope i'm making real friendships and real relationships with real conversations. i hope i'm living my life in a way that acknowledges that i'm alive. i hope that i'm living in a way that shows real love. real faith. real christianity. a real God.

oh i hope and pray so.
"good things are happening in the world today"
-iron & wine

"The opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."
-Elie Wiesel

maybe that's what it comes down to. our own indifference. do we care enough about living, to be alive? it's not hate, ugliness, heresy, or even death that eats. But our own indifference. We are self-destructing vehicles. We are kamikaze planes and we don't care. Aren't we rebellious and unlike our parents? Aren't we cool? Aren't we tough? Aren't we independent?

Is that what all this rebellious attitude we hold is? We are too cool to deal with our problems? I hope not. Oh I hope and pray that it isn't the case.

I want to love endlessly.
I want to make beautiful art.
I want a faith with deep roots.
I want to truly live.

do you want that friend? or do you just not care anymore?

"its yours baby..."

my parents never cease to amaze me.

so. get this.

friday. mom calls. "hunny, why don't you meet me at the marina and help me unpack for the weekend and then your father and i want to take you out for dinner...." So I'm like, strange, you're pretty capable, but I love you (and the promised free meal is an excellent inncentive), so,..."I'll see you at 4:00. "So mom swings by the Loft to pick me up.

***TIME OUT***
Important detail #1.
If you don't know, I don't have a car, haven't had a car for almost 6 months now. "Sticky-stick", the manual transmission, 5 speed, 1991 Mazda 626 finally passed on this winter. (May sticky-stick rest in peace).

Important detail #2.
I sold my explorer. My parents were going to take the money, buy a new trany for Sticky-stick, and ship her back to the coast for me. That was supposed to happen......about 2 months ago.

Important detail #3.
I have 2 jobs. This is good. I have a bike. This is good. Except the occasional inconvenience of riding my bike in the rain and or thunder storm, hailstorm, lightening storm, tornado, or hurricanes that have taken to afflicting the greater west michigan area. And Oh, Yeah, did I mention its a mountain bike? Not exactly the most user friendly bike during the 7-mile-each-way-ride-to-work.

(alright, continue...)

So mom and I go to the marina. I grab the cart, load up the bags, and trek out onto the dock. I take the bags, place them on the boat, put the cooler on the dock. Make an Ice run to the ship's store. Ice is $2.00 this year. What a joke! $2.00 for frozen water! Mom says she wants to buy an ice maker and put it in the gazebo, but maybe the marina wouldn't be too crazy about that...

So we get unpacked. Mom talks to dad. He says he's still an hour or so out. I'm hungry. Mom is hungry. We grumble about being hungry. We get done grumbling about our bellies, and grab some chairs and my laptop. We sit on the end of the concrete docks, on the corner where everyone beaches their inflatables. We check the weather, I show mom some of my drawings, we talk about our weeks, about the weather. We get back around to grumbling about our stomachs again. I say I'm going to the boat to nap or read or something. Mom says, "Grab the keys off the boat, and get my camera out of the van. Go take some pictures of the clouds." I'm mutter, "fine," under my breath and march off to the boat. I grab the camera, slow down the shutter speed, and try to take some shots of the waves. Mom wants pictures of the clouds, and pictures of the white caps on Lake Mac. I'm a little annoyed. She's grown up on the lake, it's not like she's never seen whitecaps on the lake. But I enjoy photography, so I keeping snapping shots. I come back, she calls dad, "Where are you? We're getting hungry!" He's 10 minutes out.

All of a sudden a red station wagon pulls up. I'm pretty sure dad is in it. "Is that dad?" I ask mom. "no, that's not your father." she answers. I'm thinking, no that's definitely dad, what the heck is going on?! He gets out. "Dad, where's your truck?! What happened?" He has a stern face on. I'm seriously worried now. "What's going on?" He says, "My truck is fine, they took it, they put me in something economical." I say, "What?!" He mutters something about being "new at the company" and "needing to prove himself". I'm almost in tears now. Dad has been working weekends and overtime for the past 5 months. He's drained and tired every time I see him. Then he says, "It's yours."


"Its yours baby. Its yours."

"The CAR?"

"Yeah sweety. Your mother and Chris scraped some money together and got it."

"Oh my gosh."

(so point of this story)

I am pretty blessed. I have a beautiful family who pulls together when we need it most. We aren't always a pretty picture. We don't always speak in soft tones. But we are a family. What a picture of sacrifice. I saw Jesus when my parents were standing there in front of that little red car. What a beautiful thing!

So I am the owner of a 1996 Red Ford Escort Station Wagon.

Name suggestions are welcome.

taste the night air.

"Listen; there's a hell of a good universe next door: let's go."
-E.E. Cummings

life is meant to be lived friend.

you don't have to be dead to be un-alive.

wake up. breathe. this day was put into motion by a God who loves every moment.

"Worse still, supposing He had found us?"

"There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ('Man's search for God!') suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?" - C.S. Lewis, Miracle

In late fall in Holland, I went on a walk with two friends. We talked about life. Not that this is an unusual occurrence at Hope College, but that this time, it was different. We had grown up in Christian families, we had accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. We had gone to church and youth group and mission trips and community projects. We had done a lot. A lot, except truly explore the heart of God.

We found ourselves asking big questions...Why don't we know the things we should know? Why do we not know, understand, and treasure the foundation of our faith? And what if? what if? what if we wanted more? What if we wanted more than a "jinga tower" faith, full of holes and lacking steadfastness?

We all sit in church and pretend. In the very we place we are supposed to be most honest, we lie to ourselves and one another. And when the pastor asks if we remember a story or a verse, we look around and think, "Should I know this?" And the girl next to you shakes her head, yes, she knows it. But if she knows it, "Surely I should know it..." But instead of diving into the very words of God, we go on pretending, building our faith on a foundation full of gaps.

So we thought, what if? what if? what if we learned the things we should have known all along. What if we read the bible, and this time it's not just a story, not just empty words, what if God breathed life into these dry bones?

And that's exactly what happened.

We stumbled across the living God. More so, he had drawn us into the temple. Into the presence of a Holy God.


Have you been dipping your fingers into the pool of religion? Be careful my friends. You may encounter more that just water. You may encounter blood. You may have found the Holy One.


"What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intamacy with God."
-Monica Baldwin

heavy heart.
bitter heart.
hardened heart.
broken heart.
pride laid down.
wholesome heart.
softened heart.
joyful heart.
light heart.

healing. growth. rejoicing. rebirth.

oh joy.
oh joy.
oh joy.

my friends may you grow in grace

"my friends may you grow in grace
my friends may you grow in grace
my friends may you grow in grace
and in the love of Jesus Christ

to God be the glory
now and forever
now and forever

remember when we sang that song together?

we've come so far. or maybe so close. it depends i guess.

some of us have grown apart.
and some. some of us have grown deeper.
but regardless of whether or not we acknowledge it.
we grow in grace.

that is my prayer for you my friends. that you may grow in grace.

we're all different now, you know. different, but covered by grace.

i still love you. i hope you know that.

i really love you.

the weight of a moment

this moment has substance. if you opened this moment up, life would explode out of it like an old aerosol paint can. a little rusty and well used on the outside, but life itself comes rushing out upon contact.

i think that life is that way sometimes. we sit around willing life to pass us by, to get to the next moment, the next semester, the next season, the next relationship, the next best thing. meanwhile we miss the beautiful thing we've had all along. like an old rusty can we set deep into the shelf and forgot about.

i many beautiful moments have i hidden away deep in the darkness, dusty and forgotten? maybe, just maybe there are hundreds of them, maybe even thousands...

and what if? what if? what if i went home and scrounged in my cupboard and found all the old moments and gathered them up. and what if you went home and did the same. what if you went home and opened the creaky door, and reached far into the back, until your hand hit the wall? what if you gathered all your moments too? what if we gathered them in our hands, and ran outside. what if we ran into the front yard and threw them into a pile on the green, green grass?
and then...
what if we lit a match? what if we lit them all on fire?

and what if the heat caused them all to explode and life came rushing out?

what if instead of existing, we remembered what it was like to live?

a letter from a friend

the following is a letter a friend wrote to me upon my graduation from high school. she is a lover of truth and Christ and spoke wisdom into my life. i came across it while cleaning out my room at my parents' house. it encouraged and convicted me, so here's an exert from it.

"God has given you this ability to sincerely look at a person, situation, or problem and pour out unconditional love into whatever it is. It's the same kind of love that Christ has. Bre...Christ has empowered you with this love! This love can change the world and you are already doing that. Thank you for loving yourself, but loving Christ and others as well. Not many people have the life changing qualities that you have. Don't lose them, Bre. They will get you through the changes that you will endure during college. They will help you see the goodness in the bad. They wil help you love when all you want to do is hate. You've been greatly blessed, Bre. "

"You're an incredible girl, Bre. An incredible girl that is going to change the world. What the heck, Bre, you are already changing the world. You are a leader, a lover, a speaker, an inspiration. Seeds of Christ are already being planted because of you. But with all of these qualities comes a little bit of scariness. Many people will look to you to see how you handle yourself during difficult situations-though you probably won't be aware of being watched. Never the less, they'll watch how you talk, treat others, how you perform under pressure. Like it or not, women of Christ are being watched."

"Something dramatic must have happened in our hearts, then, to make them fit to be the dwelling place of a holy God."
-John Eldredge

need we be reminded.

"are you suffering?
if so,
then why are you not rejoicing?"

it's been on my heart this week. not so much that i've been joyful, but rather that i haven't.

you know, perseverance is hard. so hard. but sometimes i worry so much about persevering, that i forget to take joy. we are a people called to joy. a people called to great joy in the face of great difficulty.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
-James 1:2-4

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
-1 Peter 4:12-13

i must confess to you. i haven't taken joy. oh, no doubt, i've been persevering. but taking joy? praising God? if i have at all, not nearly as much as i should be. i'm quite convicted of this. its easy to just get by, to scrape through the fence. but if you get to the other side, and that's all you have, what have you gained? i want to have joy when i arrive at the other side. i want to have joy when i struggling under the fence. i want joy.

no more just getting by.
no more barely breathing.
no more pride.

i choose joy.

You Oh God, are a Forest Fire...

"the Lord is my shepherd
i shall not be in want
he makes me lie down in green pastures
he leads me beside quiet waters.
he restores my soul.
he leads me down paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
even though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
i fear no evil.
for you are with me.
your rod, your staff,
they comfort me.
you prepare a feast before me in the presence of my enemies.
you anoint my head with oil.
my cup overflows.
surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and i will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

-king david (psalm 23)

for no reason known to me. you choose to bless me oh God. even if i was blameless, i would not be worthy of your gaze. yet. you call me child. when the darkness closes in, you pour out your blessings all the more. in the presence of my greatest fears and heartache, you bless me. underserving, prideful, unworthy me.

my life is so anointed and full of blessing i cannot contain it. it spills over like a dark red wine and covers me completely. Father, i admit that i have never known a love that compares. i've never known a love that makes me burn inside. a love that makes me lay down my pride. a love that makes me fall on my face in reverence. a love that covers me in my brokenness, shame, and selfishness. i've never known a love like this.

it's like a forest fire Father. you burn in me, and cannot be contained. this love is dangerous. it spreads quickly and with ease. it's out of control in the best way possible. it raves and ravages my soul. it burns away all impurities. i'm not just aflame. i'm fully consumed by your love.

"consume and ravage my heart, make my eyes to see, your beauty, your beauty, your beauty i must see..."


sometimes its enough to just be a friend.

i greatly enjoy being a friend. but not just any friend. i enjoy being a friend who has a servant's heart. now, this isn't to say that i like to be used by my friends, that's not what i'm getting at here. but i truly enjoy caring and doing what i can to make my friends happy. its something that just makes me feel good.

driving around holland.
and making pancakes at 2am.
and loving on them.

its not something we think about often, you know. Jesus as a friend. we think of him as Lord, Prince, and Savior. and its not that he isn't all of these things, because he is fully. but he was also a friend. a friend to his disciples, to poor, to the unloved.

i'm not sure that i truly understand what friendship is. honestly. i fall pretty short. but man, to love my friends and serve them like Jesus did??!? i want to kneel down. i want to wash your sore, tired feet my friend. come here. let me show you love.

"Speak- say the words that no one else will ever say
Love- love like the world we know is over in a day

I'm gonna show you a love in every language
I'm gonna speak with the words that need no form
I'm gonna give you what you never had before"

-Jars of Clay (Show you Love)
"life's like an hourglass glued to the table."
-anna nalick

a lesson well learned.

we don't ask God for his will to aline with ours.

we ask for our will to aline with his.

"and he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom"

-Job 28:28

"we're going to make it, friend. you and i, we're going to make it.

sometimes that's all we have, a little light at the end. and sometimes, that's all God gives us. enough to make it through today. and that has to be enough. and it is enough. every time.

we're going to make it friend.

-wise words from a wise friend.

mercy. mercy. mercy.

"we are going to make it.
we are going to make it.
we are going to make it."
- a dear friend

this is by far, the most difficult season of my life.

i feel like i'm sinking fast. and there's no chance of getting out alive. like i've got nothing but the top of my head above water. just my blonde hair floating softly in ripples of blue.

a dear friend of mine told me to hold onto the things i know. because in the end. that's what we've got, our stories. i know a precious few things. i don't know anything at all, but a few small truths. and right now. it's all i need. because its the only thing keeping me afloat.

i know.

that God is enough.
he is enough for me today, and for tomorrow. i know my God is enough.

i know.

that i want to wake up and fight the good fight.
i want to wake up and choose God every morning. this world is too dark, too angry, too bitter, and far too broken. i want to wake up in the reality of these insurmountable odds and choose hope. i want to choose joy. i want to choose perseverance. i want to choose abundance. i want to wake up every morning and choose life.

i know.

that my breaking point is never as close as i think it is. i know that God's grace gives me far more strength than i've found anywhere else. i know that i have a peace in this screwed-up life that passes all understanding. i've got a peace that makes no sense at all.

i know.

that my roots are deep. that i've got a family, a body, even when i forget what they look like. i've got some damn good friends. i know i've got sunshine. i know i can always run home to my sunshine family like the prodigal son, and before i can take a step towards them, they are already holding me, kissing me, wiping all the hurt away.

i know.

that in all this, this messy, (and-pardon-me-for-saying-so) fucked up world, i need something larger than myself to hold onto. i need something larger than my education. i need something larger than my friendships. i need something larger than my family. i need something larger than a relationship. i need a savior.

this world is so broken. so. so. so. broken. and i've got nothing left but you father. i'm crying out. i've got nothing left. you've taken it all. please look my way. don't turn your face away from me father. mercy Lord. mercy. mercy. mercy.

"remember your promise oh God."

by far, the hardest season of my life...

life is so hard.





i know its good.

i know God is enough.

and i'm going to wake up in the morning, and the morning after that, and the morning after that and i'm going to choose hope. i'm going to choose abundance. i'm going to choose perseverance.

but it's just so damn hard sometimes.

surprise. surprise. life is hard...

life is tough. life hurts. life is rough. life is a summit. life is a storm. a flood. a hurricane. a blinding rain.

there are times when all we can do in fall to our knees and cry out.

and some days....

some days...
we don't get an answer.

i've got to tell you. its been one of the roughest few weeks i can remember. i've been brought to my knees so many times, i've given up standing.

...and finally. i'm feeling some peace.

God doesn't want us to carry our burdens. Jesus didn't die on the cross for the atonement of all our burdens, to only have us give him some. our God is a jealous God. he wants it all.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in die time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
-1 Peter 4:6-7

so i'm learning to find my knees. and to stay there. and that in his time, NOT mine, he will lift me up. He wants it all, because i am his daughter.

"Some part of that island grew in us, like our hearts, still wild, untamed, and still clinging desperately to an unapologetic innocence."

be warned, i usually mull these entries over more before i publish them, but here goes....

today, like many days, i find myself longing for something a little strange, and perhaps a little silly.

there is this part of my heart, buried way deep down inside, that is just burning with love. a love for the past. its a silly cycle that i fall into on occasion. i enjoy reeling through the thousands of memories. of days that were just right. of places that were more beautiful than i could ever imagine. of people, of friendships, that i held so dear. call me reminiscent, and you'd probably be right, but its almost more than that. its a longing for a season of life that was so, so good.

like the time my friend matt and i sat at the top of a mountain, completely stunned by it's power and beauty. i can't tell you another time i've felt God in quite that way. or the weekends of my childhood, when all the marina kids would gather in the parking lot for massive games of kick-the-can and street hockey until we could no longer see in the dim parking-lot lights. or the time cara and i went running in colorado. we ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. and when we were done, collapsed in complete exhaustion on the early morning dew. or the time when ali and i took the horses to the back pasture, and let them truly run, and gunner ran so fast i could feel my heartbeat line up with the pounding of his hooves against the soft earth. or the time rachael and i ran through an icy parking lot laughing so hard that i truly though we would never stop. and the perfect summers, all eighteen of them. waking up late, and sailing out to the beach. laying on the warm sand, and letting the sun turn my skin to bronze. or the times last summer when we played ultimate frisbee in the field with glow bracelets to see each other in the dark. and when we were done, the coolness of the summer night set in, like a cool breath of relief from God. or the times in ludington, when we didn't have a care in the world, but how early we could get to the beach. when we basked in the glow of one another's company, just pleased to be in the presence of friends we cared so dearly for. or how about the summers when we walked for hours across the manitous. and how during those walks, dad bestowed his wisdom on us through the telling of stories we had heard a thousand times. but we listened anyway. and we loved it. and we grew to know that island like the back of our hands. and perhaps we loved it so much because some part of that island grew in us, like our hearts, still wild, untamed, and still clinging desperately to an unapologetic innocence.

those people. those places. those feelings. i carry them with me, and perhaps that is why i continually find it so hard to move past them. to understand in my heart, that i can never live them again. that although they were good and were precious moments in the expanse of time. i will never regain them. i get so frustrated. sometimes i feel as though i will never be that happy, that in awe, in wonder, at peace, passionate, in love ever again. and the truth is, i won't. i will never feel that way again because i cannot regain or recreate a moment so destined by God. so perfect in every format possible. those moments were for then. they were perfect because of who i was and who i was becoming. and now. they might not fit so perfect, like trying to make two puzzle pieces fit in my desperation, that i know, simply will not fit.

and its a cruel reality to wake up to. that things won't be the same. they won't ever be the same. but that doesn't mean i'm settling. i'm not settling for a half-life, but one different than i imagined. and its not filled with the places, people, and things that i once thought it ought to. its a life overflowing with brilliant, vivacious color. its a life filled with friendships more deep and meaningful than i ever thought possible. its a life filled with the beauty of a sleepy mid-west coastal town. a town i tried so desperately to run from. its a life more full of questions, affirmation, and possibilities than i ever thought possible.

and it terrifies me to step into it. to step into this life, this day, this moment, knowing full well that it will be very unlike anything i have ever experienced before. it will be scary and daunting. and i will often feel as though i'm teetering on the edge of a very high cliff. it will be full of people unlike any i have ever known. and they will challenge me. they will force me to grow. we will share memories and feelings and times and places. we will chase after God together. and some of them will let me down. and i will let them down. i will fail them when they need me most. i will fall so desperately short of the friendship they give in return. but. oh, there will be the rare occasion when i will rise. i will in God's strength be there. i will say the right thing, at the right time. and somehow fulfill that small part of God's calling for my life.

and when i visit those places i won't feel the same things because they've changed, and in many ways, so have i. that doesn't mean the the things i feel, the places i go, or the people i share them with will be less real, less important, or less meaningful. no, if anything, they will mean different things. i will cherish the late night talks more. i will be at peace in the strangest places. i will breathe deeper. i will rest harder. and i will love with more compassion.

the future is not better, but its not worse either. its different. different in a way so unmistakably beautiful it catches the breath in my lungs. and for a second, i put those times back into their small place in my heart, and i get on with life. i get busy stepping into this life i'm called to live. i step into the brilliant, vibrant life set before me, knowing it's the only one i've been given. it's the only one i've been called to, its all my own, designed just for me. so i throw it over my shoulders, like a coat, worn by time and good use. i carry it, because it fits. it reminds me of where i went. where i am. and where i'm going. and its comforting to carry with me. to know that those memories, unrecoverable, are still with me, guiding me towards a tomorrow filled even more so with love, passion, and beauty.

ordinary moments become extraordinary lives

as i woke up this morning, and the sun kissed my face for the first time in ages, i drew in a breath of warm air.

it's the kind of day when the breeze is warmer than the air. where the breeze is so soft, so gentle, and brings with it the promise of spring, even when the ice still crunches like glass beneath my feet. today is the kind of day when the sidewalks are cleared not by shovels, but by the strength of the sun, and the warming of the earth. today is the kind of day, that when the sun hits my skin, it drives deeper, and the rays touch my heart, and my soul absorbs them like a hungry child. today is the kind of day when the splash of water from roof tops does not bother me when it hits my hair and rolls down my face. today, the drops of water are promises. the promise of life. the promise of rebirth, of renewal. today is the kind of day that i walk the two and a half blocks to the doors of a building where the people of God meet. today is the kind of day that when i walk, i arch my neck out, and i reach toward the sun. today is the kind of day when i see God's covenant with Noah. when i know that my God is a God of truth, that he holds firm to his promise. today is the kind of day when i know that spring will come. that this time of waiting, of slow, painful growth will soon come to an end. and i will burst forth from the ground, renewed, re-birthed.

today is the kind of day when God reveals to me the spiritual nature of his physical creation. that when the sun is out, my soul is deeply moved. or that when i am near water i feel so terribly close to the heart of God that it frightens me. or that when i stand on a mountain in colorado, the rocks cry out his name. all of creation longs for renewal, for rebirth, for the spring-time green of new life.

i am terrified. not so much of dieing, but of never having truly lived.

this life, this one small life we have been given is so throughly filled with abundance. we have only to experience the promise of spring or the power of creation. this life. this one small life is worth living. but not half-heartedly. if this life is a life of abundance, then this life is worth living out every small moment. this life is worth living out the insignificant moments, that become significant lives. this life, this one small life is worth every breath we are given.

the hebrew word for "breath" is "ruah". but the english translation loses it's depth. ruah means air-in-motion, life, spirit.

every breath we take is filled with motion. the motion of a God who is among us. who dwells is every small moment of our lives. every breath is filled with the motion of a God who drives our roots deeper, our arms wider, our hearts larger. every breath, every moment.... our lungs are filled with the living God.

every breath we take is filled with life. not a half-life. not a life meant to trudge through. not a clean orderly life. not a life that is merely an ends to a means. no. our breath is filled with abundant life. a life so worth living that we are designed for it. a life so worth living that God put his son on a cross for it. we are given this life for a purpose, to live it. to live it abundantly. to live in a way that we dare to collect the ordinary, well-lived moments, and gather them into an extraordinary life.

every breath we take is filled with the spirit. the very spirit of God. the spirit that empowers us to live a bold, full life. the spirit of a God who wants more for his people. the Spirit of the sovereign Lord who anoints us to preach good news to the poor. to bind up the broken hearted. to proclaim freedom for captives and release prisoners from darkness. this is the spirit that calls us to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. this is the spirit that gives us a call. to rebuild the ruins of a broken people. to restore hearts long devastated. to renew the everyday moments that have been devastated for generations.

so this day. this breath. every day. every breath is worth living. you child. you are an oak of righteousness. you. you are a planting of the Lord, for the display of his splendor. spring is upon us, and the year of the Lord is urgent. so i challenge you. not to live a loud life. a crazy untamed life. or a life that glitters and gleans. but a life that is average in the eyes of the world, and beautiful in the eyes of God. God wants to work in you. in today. in this breath. in this moment. in every day. every breath. every moment. these moments are becoming an extraordinary life. live it abundantly.

Isaiah 61

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.

8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.