I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships, so will our healing,
and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

15 in 2015

For the past four-ish years, I've written a year-recap post every January summing up my highlights from the past twelve months. As January approached this year, I kept thinking about putting it together, but just couldn't force myself to do it.

You see, 2015 was a hard one, and in January I just wasn't at a place where I could even try to look for the good things that happened in the past year; all I could feel was the grief and pain that still threatened to crush me at every turn. But as February has come, I've realized that I do still want to reflect on 2015, but maybe in a bit different way than I have in the past.

1. In January, Alise called to tell me that the boy she'd gone on a few dates with in the past month was officially her boyfriend. I cried of course, but I really was happy for her. I think we both knew that there was something special about this boy, but neither of us had any idea what the year was going to bring.

2. In February, SBU hosted our second annual women's conference, The Alteration. We invited Stephanie Husk (who was the counselor at Corban during my college years) to come be out keynote speaker, and getting to spend most of a week with her was such a gift. She is an incredibly wise woman, and I just wanted to soak up my time with her like a sponge. It was so sweet to have two of my worlds (Corban and SBU) collide for a few days.

3. In March, my world was rocked with a phone call telling me that Alise's mom had been killed in a motorcycle accident. Within a couple days, I was on a plane home, completely unsure of how to love my best friend well through such a tragedy, but knowing that I needed to start by just being physically present.

4. May brought the end of Year Two as an RD in Missouri, and despite my attempts to the contrary, the Lord made it clear that I would be staying in BoMo for at least another year. I wished tearful goodbyes to my leaving RAs who I had come to love so much.

5. After the school year ended, I boarded a plane bound for Spain to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. It was physically hard and exhausting, but such a sweet and unique experience. ¡Buen Camino!

6. After a nearly 24 hour delay in DC on our flight home, I met up with Rochelle in BoMo, jumped in her car, and completed her cross-country road trip with her! We spent a fun night in Nashville (LOVE that city!) jamming out in the street at the CMT Awards concerts, and drinking margaritas, before making the final push to Atlanta. It was exactly the mini-vacation I needed after my time on the Camino.

7. In June, the miracle of travel miracles happened, and I happened to be in KC the same night as my dear friend Joel while he was in the Midwest for work. Joel and I were RAs together in college, and somehow the guy has put up with me ever since. He's been a faithful friend to me for many years, and getting to catch up with him was such a sweet blessing!

8. The next day I flew out of KC again, this time to go visit my family in the PNW. I got to celebrate Brenna's birthday with her, spend time with my kiddos, and take a trip to Crater Lake with my parents. It was such a sweet time with people who are immeasurably dear to me, and looking back, I'm so so grateful for the time my parents and I got to spend together before our worlds were turned upside down.

9. Summer in BoMo brought awful thunderstorms (I hate those things) and camps in my dorm (high school football camps are the worst). I had a rockstar summer RA though, (Natalie) and we enjoyed holding down the fort together at Leslie.

10. On July 4th, I got a call from Alise with joy in her voice, telling me that that boy she'd been dating since January had asked her to be his wife. I burst into tears right then on the phone, but the peace I felt about her and Jamael together allowed me to be so impossibly thrilled for them. Life as I knew it was changing, but maybe that change didn't have to be bad.

11. Summer drew to a close by seeing Hairspray with Kristen, kayaking with Paige, retreating with my RD coworkers to Lake of the Ozarks, and agreeing to be Alise's maid of honor. Bring on RD-ing Year Three!

12. In August, I crossed something off my Bucket List by going on a helicopter ride over Bolivar! I'm so thankful for the incredible girls in my life who are always up for crazy adventures with me.

13. At the end of September, Leslie Hall celebrated her 50th birthday and we built a giant birthday cake homecoming float to celebrate. We didn't win, but the memories of dance parties at our float building location will last a lifetime.

14. Immediately following the homecoming parade, I jumped in the car and raced to the airport to catch my flight home. Dad was having major neck surgery on Monday morning, and I knew I needed to be there. The surgery did not go as planned, and my family was left facing a future we hadn't anticipated and certainly never wanted. Over the course of the next three months, I flew home every other weekend to spend time with my family at the hospital, feeling totally helpless, but trying to help in any way I could. I was in a fog for three solid months. I was exhausted from all the early morning/late night travel, I was scared out of my mind, and I was mad at God for letting this happen. When I was in the PNW, I slept on hospital cots, helped with meals, and tried to translate the steady stream of medical jargon flowing from doctors, nurses, and therapists. When I was back in Bolivar, I laid in bed and cried, unable to summon the energy or desire to face the day.

15. Christmas, usually my favorite time of the year, may have been some of the hardest weeks of 2015. Dad finally came home from the hospital, but nothing was as it was supposed to be. I tried so hard to make things "normal," to celebrate the season, but nothing was right. I flew to Chicago for New Years, exhausted, burned out, and dreading the year ahead. My time in Chicago though was one of the greatest gifts I could have received. I spent the holiday with Alise and her family (I got to surprise her on New Years Eve by showing up at Aunt Cyndi's house out of the blue!) and the next few days were full of so many fun, sweet moments with my second family. I got to spend some time with the fiancé, and was able to give him my wholehearted stamp of approval, celebrate a bridal shower for worlds most beautiful bride-to-be, and explore downtown Chicago in all its glory. My dry, tired soul drank up the beauty, laughter, culture, and love like a my dying house plants, and I felt able to breathe again for the first time in months.

2016 has started off well. Dad is making slow improvements, and we're all learning what it means to adjust to a new normal. It's going to be a year of change for me in so many ways, I know that, and I can only pray that I will handle that change with grace and joy. I don't want to experience the pain and heartache of this past year again, but by the faithfulness of Lord, I did survive. And that is the story of my year: He has been faithful. When I was so angry and depressed, He didn't stop being faithful. When I was overwhelmed by grief and uncertainty, He continued to be faithful.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
Hebrews 10:23

The view from Dad's hospital room one night.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Current Obsessions: January Edition

I love January for lots of reasons, not the least of which are my birthday, snow (sometimes), and a great opportunity for new beginnings in a new year. But here are some other things I've loved about January this year:


I started off the year with an old favorite: Anne of Green Gables. Anne's spunk and imagination never cease to inspire and make me laugh, and this time through was no exception.

"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world."

The Shack was another re-read, but once again, it challenged the typical ways I think about God and reminded me of the power and personal love of my Savior.

"I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships, so will our healing. And I know that grace rarely makes sense from the outside."

Invitation to Biblical Preaching was a book I'd read in a class in college, but I remembered it being pretty solid, so I picked it up again. It's full of practical information about how to organize and outline a sermon in such a way that God's Truth is communicated clearly and effectively.

". . . the definition of a 'biblical preacher' [is] one who says, 'Look at what God is saying . . . to us.'"

I remember my mom and I reading one (ish) chapter per night of Every Living Thing together when I was little, and we laughed until we cried at the everyday stories of veterinary practice in rural England in the 1940s and 50s. As a kid, I always begged for "one more chapter!" and as an adult I could scarcely put it down either!

I was given Creating Magic as somewhat of a gag birthday gift, as my dislike for Disney and giant mice is fairly well known, but I always try to be a gracious gift recipient, so I went ahead and read it, honestly hoping that I could mock it a little once I finished.

I must admit though, this one was solid. I do have respect for Disney's outstanding attention to detail and exemplary customer service, so the leadership principles outlined in this book were simple, but totally on-point. I was able to apply quite a bit of good insight into my role as a supervisor.

People have been telling me for years that I would love The Mark of the Lion series, but I'd never picked them up. I noticed them on a friend's bookshelf during January though, and decided to give them a try.

The sleep I lost on Voice in the Wind and Echo in the Darkness was well worth it. I would argue that Francine Rivers is one of the best Christian fiction authors I have read; her ability to weave the ultimate redemption narrative into her work is exceptional. There are very few Christian fiction books I've read that I can say led me to fall more in love with Jesus, but her books have done so.

I read the first two in less than 48 hours, and now I'm desperately searching for the third one!

To be honest, I was a little disappointed in The Best Yes. I'd had high hopes for it when I got it as a birthday gift, but it wasn't what I was expecting in terms of teaching me how to simplify an over-committed life. Her examples and illustrations were heavily centered around marriage and motherhood which always turns me off a little, but while it wasn't terrible, I probably won't read it again.

I devoured the Divergent series last year and when I saw Four in the library, I snatched it up and read it in less than two hours. An easy read, but definitely a winner for fans of the series who want to know a bit more background on the character of Four.

I ran across The Dog Lived while my RAs and I were taking our staff pictures in the library and hey, it had a cute dog on the cover, so it has to be pretty good, right? It was an engaging story of a dog and his mistress both walking through their respective battles with cancer. Gosh, I'm such a sucker for dog stories.

I read 10 books this month, starting me off well on my yearly reading goal! Keep up with my reading throughout the month on my 50 Books in 2015 Pinterest board!


Everyone is all about the new T. Swift album, 1989, and while yes, "Blank Space" is my jam, I'm still irritated that I can't add her music to my Spotify playlist. C'mon Taylor, don't know you know that Spotify is where its at??

I'm usually leery of most Christian music, especially Christian "rap," but Lecrae is slowly making me a believer. The man has got talent, and some incredibly raw and real lyrics.

Still obsessed with Maroon 5 over here. I mean, you've got to love Adam Levine, and "Maps" is just so catchy!

Keep up with all my favorite jams on my Current Obsessions: Vol 2 Spotify playlist! I know I'm late to the party on this one, but Spotify may just be the best thing since sliced bread.


John Mark Comer at Bridgetown Church in Portland has long been one of my favorite NW preachers, and his series on The Emotionally Healthy Church is incredible. I've been describing it as "a really good therapy session in every sermon."

The keynote speaker for The Alteration this year is Stephanie Husk. I met Stephanie when I lived in Oregon, as she was the counseling center director on my college campus. She was the one that helped create a safe space for me at the beginning of my journey with anxiety and is a huge part of why I'm such a big promoter of counseling services with my residents today. She's now the Director of Life Path recovery ministries at Salem Alliance Church and I'm so excited to have her come speak to our students! Her podcast on the brain is what helped me convince the planning committee that she was the perfect choice for our conference, and I've listened to it multiple times over the past weeks!


Friends. Need I say more? Yes, Spotify is great, but having Friends on Netflix is even better. It's one of the few shows that can make me consistently laugh out loud, like an obnoxious-belly-laugh-sort-of-laugh-out-loud. Goodbye, free time.

My friend Suzie introduced me to Cupcake Wars, and I'm loving it! I don't watch them in marathon sessions or anything, but it's a fun distraction at the end of the day! Or when I need a break from Friends. But really, does one ever need a break from Friends?

I'm currently obsessed with the idea of building a tiny house on a trailer and parking it somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Tiny was an interesting documentary about a guy who did just that with a lot of interviews from other tiny house occupants around the country mixed in.

I'm planning on watching the Parenthood finale this weekend, but I don't know if I'm emotionally prepared for this. I hate it when good shows end!

I'm always looking for new books as I work on my yearly book reading challenge and new podcasts and Netflix shows as I finish certain series.  Let me know what you recommend and I'll give it a try!

This month, I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer at What I'm Into so check out her January favorites as well! Now, let's see if I can pull of this Current Obsessions business two months in a row! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

14 Highlights of 2014

It's hard to believe that it's time to do another highlight post (Ok, it's past time, but cut me some slack!) but here we are. Without further ado, I present the fourteen biggest events in my life of the past twelve months.

1.  I kicked off 2014 by traveling to the Philippines with a mission team from SBU. We spent two weeks serving with a wonderful missionary family, teaching English in schools and worshipping with house churches there. I also came home with a cracked rib and was miserable for the next six weeks, but that's just a minor detail.

Feeding a real, live monkey!

World's most epic pyramid.


One of our classes.

2.  February brought one of the greatest thrills of my 25 years on the planet, when my beloved Seattle Seahawks beat those dumb 'ole Broncos to win Super Bowl XLVII by a score of 43-8. I didn't stop smiling for weeks!

Super Blue Friday!

Just look at that shiny trophy.

3.  March brought basketball playoffs, of course, and my basketball girls stormed into the MIAA semi-finals, so naturally I road tripped up to KC to watch them play. The game was great (think game-winning layup at the buzzer!) but the rest of the trip, not so great. As we were looking for a place to eat dinner before the game, another driver ran a red light, totaling my little Mazda. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the following weeks were a long, frustrating process of dealing with insurance companies and trying to find a new car.

Just after the game-winning shot.

4.  In April, my mom, sister, and her kiddos road tripped out to Missouri to visit me! They spent a couple days in Bolivar, then we drove out to Nashville for a whirlwind tour of Country Music USA. (Just a tip - if you're ever in Nashville, you must go visit the Opryland Hotel! It's incredibly cool!)

Grand Ole Opry, Nashville

5.  In the middle of April, I finally found a new car, and off we went to Effingham, Illinois to pick it up. (Yes, the name of the town was Effingham. The jokes never got old.) Here's to hoping that this sweet little Mazda 3 is my last new car for quite a while!

Roadtrip Friends

The new baby

6.  After school let out, we took a little Student Life vacation to the ACSD conference in Minnesota. We even got to go to a Minnesota Twins game!


Target Field

7.  In June, I finally got to go out to North Carolina to visit Alise! We had a wonderful, relaxing long weekend, which mostly consisted of laying on the couch, watching Netflix, drinking wine, and playing with Gemma (her puppy) but we also took a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC for my first visit to the Atlantic Ocean!


Myrtle Beach

She's my person.

8.  In July, I went on a friend vacation to Colorado for a wonderful week of hiking and good food and taking in all the incredible beauty the Rocky Mountains have to offer.


Rocky Mountain National Park

9.  I flew straight from Denver to Portland to visit the fam for a few days and have one last Roommate Reunion before Mikayla moved to Indonesia.

PDX Carpet

Roomie Reunion

10.  At the end of September, my sweet friend Amelia flew out to Missouri to visit me! We had so much fun and I got to show her my life here in BoMo.

Audrey Assad Concert

11.  One of the big things that Amelia got to experience while in MO was SBU's Homecoming! My awesome RA staff built the coolest float I've ever seen, and we placed 3rd overall. It was an exhausting week, but also an incredible amount of fun!

Giant Flat Bearcat

12.  A few weeks after Homecoming, Mom & Dad flew out to visit over Fall Break. The Seahawks were in town (St. Louis) that weekend so off we went for Mom & Dad's first NFL experience.

Seahawks in St. Louis 

13.  Over Thanksgiving, I roadtripped to Texas with Landee to spend the holiday with her and her family. It was an adventure, to be sure, (anything with Landee usually is!) and I got the full Texas tour from Houston to Galveston to Dallas. We also stopped and had lunch with Vince & Jessie on our way home, and I got to meet baby Cora for the first time!


Corban Friends!

14.  Finally, I ended the year with Christmas with my family in the beautiful PNW, where the PDX carpet welcomes me home and the Cascades take my breath away.

PDX Carpet

Mt. Ranier

2014 was, as most of them seem to be, a year filled with really good memories as well as some I'd just as soon forget, but I'm looking forward to 2015!

Cheers to a new year, and another chance for us to get it right.
Oprah Winfrey