Be still, and know that I am God -Psalm 46:10

Do you ever have those moments when something you have heard or maybe thought of before comes to mind and just seems so much clearer? I had one of those this morning as I stood outside with the pups before work.  The snow was gently falling and, except for the occasional car passing by, it was silent.  I got to thinking about winter and how much I love it. Then my thoughts moved to why God made winter, and suddenly it was clear…God made winter as a time when things slow down,  there’s more silence, and life is still. My mind immediately translated that thought into our own lives.  God made winter, times when life stops or slows from its regular rhythm so that we will stop, be still and know that He is God.  He covers up all that we can see and be distracted by so that we are able to focus on Him and listen for new direction.  It never fails in nature that once the snow/winter is gone that new life appears, growth happens, change happens. So it is the same in life, if we let it be. What a beautiful reminder that God loves me and wants what is best for me.  He wants to hear from me in the stillness and most importantly for me to hear from Him. 

Be still my friends and enjoy this day!

This is not the man I married…

IMG_5823Ten years ago I was the happiest girl on earth, marrying Justin…my best friend. I thought I knew Justin at his fullest. I loved him then so much that my heart overflowed with joy. The kind that only comes from God. Little did I know how wrong I was. While I did marry my best friend and the best guy in the world…I didn’t realize how much I still would learn about Justin.

Over the years God has revealed more and more to me about this man I love so much. Some of my dad’s advice to Justin while they had “the talk” about him wanting to marry me was to not let people walk all over me (since I’m often too nice to stick up for myself). My dad can be super proud of the man he gave me to. Justin has stuck up for me more times than I can count and has taught me to be a stronger person along the way.

A few years into our marriage we were determined to better our future by embarking on a difficult journey to set ourselves up for financial freedom through Dave Ramsey’s teachings. That was definitely not easy and we wished we had done it sooner but we did it together and learned so much about each other. Through that we strengthened our love for each other and our goals became unified.

One of my favorite things that Justin and I do together is pray together. I love being able to see Justin’s heart and his relationship with our Father. We can join together in something so intimate which allows us to be more fully united in Christ together. Justin has always backed me up in difficult times and has prayed some of the most powerful prayers for me. Knowing that this guy is praying for me and loving me, makes me feel like I can do anything.

I used to get jealous and sometimes just plain aggravated with Justin when I would have a problem and he would silently listen to what I had to say and then offer these brilliant words of advice to help me, often making it seem so simple. One day God truly revealed to me that I shouldn’t be jealous or aggravated but truly grateful that Justin has such deep spiritual gifts called wisdom and discernment. He knows what to say, when to say it, even if it’s the tough thing to say. I am so blessed with his gift. I trust him completely to make the best decisions for our family.

Boy is he a handy guy too. Not only with technology but anything he wants to learn how to do, he figures it out. He researches. He isn’t afraid to try new things, and he is confident. These too are traits that I don’t share yet I am so grateful for.

Our latest journey together has been that of working to become healthier. I wanted to lose the excess weight I gained during a stressful time in my life and he jumped right on board with me. I can’t tell you how much of a blessing that was. To have someone alongside me to encourage and support me. And we both LOVE food. We have been able to lose the weight and learn to make better food and exercise choices.

This guy is definitely not the guy I married ten years ago. He is a much better version of the man I was already head over heels in love with. Each day I get to be with him, I am so thankful for.

Happy Anniversary Justin! I love you and can’t wait to see what I find out about you in the years to come.

New beginning

I have been working at Bethel College in the Campus Store for just under four and a half years.  In that time I have grown in so many ways.  I went from assistant manager to manager of the Campus Store, survived a building expansion while remaining open for business, and experienced, due to budget cuts the loss of a very valued and loved coworker (her position was eliminated).  In these times, as in my every day life, I have leaned on the love and care of my Lord and Savior.  Someone told me once that if everything is going dandy in your life and you aren’t experiencing spiritual warfare then you aren’t a current threat to Satan.  Ever since I heard that I have always found a moment to remind myself whose side I’m on and then just grin because that means I’m making Satan nervous.


Starting a few months ago I felt like something was changing within me.  While I loved Bethel (and still do), I felt a faint tapping at the back of my mind.  I didn’t understand it at first and even ignored it.  In June, when my coworker’s position was eliminated I felt as if a dam had burst.  My cup was already running over with daily duties and now how was I going to take on her responsibilities as well as run a store on my own?  In the wise words of my loving husband, he explained to me that my “cup” had been running over for a long time and until I could show people that I couldn’t accomplish my tasks, then it would be assumed that everything was just fine.  Being a worker and not wanting others to view my shortcomings as my lack of ability to do my job, I would put in extra hours and run at full capacity.  I realized that I had forgotten what it was like to breathe and to relax.  I began feeling it in my chest and would often cry on Justin’s shoulder at night.  I wanted so much for the store to be a success and to accomplish everything on my plate at the time it needed to be done.  I realized that my attitude was slipping and I was growing tired.  During this process I still felt that gentle nudge.


In one of my emotional lows I found out about a part time accounting position at GCC. I decided to apply and went to an interview.  I was even called back for a second interview but in the interim realized that this position was not what I felt like God was leading me towards.  A few months went by and I received an email from Jami Ruth at GCC about a position that had opened up on the Communications team and we made arrangements to meet and talk about the role.  I quickly found myself getting excited like a little schoolgirl.


I spent much time in prayer throughout my days asking God to guide me.  One morning on my way to work I was searching all my radio stations trying to find music to listen to and was unsuccessful.  I landed on a station that happened to be talking about jobs.  Some of you may know from my story about our move to Indiana that God has used the radio to speak to me quite clearly before.  I truly believe that God knows how to get our attention.  I was riding along listening to this man that called in about his new job.  He must have been in some trouble in the past and was just getting back on his feet.  The next thing I heard resonated in my mind and my heart the rest of the way to work.  The DJ said to the man, “Wow, it sounds like God is really doing something and it’s time for a change.”  Talk about chills! I don’t believe in coincidences.  I believe in God instances and this was a major one.   A tear ran down my face as I realized this message was indeed for ME.


That same afternoon my cell phone rang and the call went to voicemail (because I was at work).  I later listened to the message and it was a friend of mine that I hadn’t talked to in awhile.  She wanted to meet for lunch.  I thought it was strange that she would be calling me out of the blue but when I later met with her I realized it was about a job opportunity she had for me.  Now I not only had this opportunity at GCC but an opportunity elsewhere too.  I prayed to God asking Him for guidance.  This news of possibly leaving Bethel was so fresh in my mind and now I had two job opportunities before me.  Both were amazing opportunities given to me by God loving people/places.


I began listening to God closer and closer.  I explored more and more scripture, I prayed, I listened to music, and I sat in silence and sometimes tears.  What I realized is that for quite awhile I had been hearing God and feeling like I was listening to Him but had really been allowing Him to become part of the white noise of my every day life.  When I intentionally went to Him and seeked Him on this, it was like it was blaring from everywhere what He was trying to tell me.  He helped me to feel His direction and calling to GCC.  It wasn’t easy and I went through a lot of spiritual warfare to get there but even that showed me that my decision was the right one.


I remember this particular instance clearly because I was amazed yet not surprised at the power of my God but it was so cool to me.  I began my morning reading from my “Jesus Calling” devotional.  (If you haven’t gotten this book yet, do it!  It will speak God’s breathable word to you on a daily basis.) I read the first few lines and I knew the day was going to be a doozy.  It said, “Do not be surprised by the fiery attacks on your mind. When you struggle to find Me and to live in My Peace, don’t let discouragement set in.  You are engaged in massive warfare, spiritually speaking.  The evil one abhors your closeness to Me, and his demonic underlings are determined to destroy our intimacy.  When you find yourself in the thick of battle, call upon My Name: “Jesus, help me!” At that instant, the battle becomes Mine; your role is simply to trust Me as I fight for you.” I was blown away by the wording of this devotion.  In the battle with Satan all I need to do is call out, “Jesus, help me!” and at that instant the battle becomes His? All I could picture was an epic Hollywood fight scene in some movie where there’s darkness and danger and then all of a sudden the hero rushes out and wins.  That’s my God.  I’m sure glad I read that because that day I felt Satan constantly trying to beat me down and I called to Jesus to help me and He took over and helped me through that long and trying day.


I have grown so much through this experience. It was tough to leave Bethel.  I have come to love the people there so much. I have become invested in my student workers’ lives and the lives of my coworkers and community there.  God knew it was going to be hard for me so He filled my last day with love.  People came from everywhere to see me off and wish me luck in my new adventures.  Even Jaimes the UPS man left me a note.  My student workers wrote me beautiful notes and came to be with me throughout the day.  Bethel College is a wonderful place and I believe awesome things are already happening there.  I’m so grateful to have been a part of that campus and can’t wait to see what God brings Bethel in the years to come.


I start my new adventure tomorrow at GCC (Granger Community Church).  I can only imagine what God has in store for me there and for the people that will cross my path while I serve.  For the Bible says in John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

MC3 FPU Advanced Class Reflection

I really thought that I had been blessed to the fullest during our beginner FPU class at MC3.  Boy was I wrong!  Our first run of the advanced FPU class was facilitated by Andy Harlow, a First Federal Savings Bank volunteer that has done a lot of work through Bridges Out of Poverty as well.  I was mostly in the background during this class run and was only able to attend 3 of the 8 class meetings.  Even though I didn’t see the class members each week like before, I hung the group picture from the beginner’s class on my refrigerator, where I go frequently (haha).  I lifted each of them up in prayer whenever God would bring them to mind (which was often).  These folks were never far from my thoughts and prayers.

When I stopped in to visit, the class members greeted me with such love.  I really felt like I was a family member being welcomed back home.  It’s just impossible to explain the connection we all made over the course of the beginners and advanced classes.

Last Thursday was the final advanced class with these members.  Normally I looked forward to these Thursday nights but this one I was almost dreading.  I didn’t want it to be the end.  I didn’t want to say goodbye to these precious people.  When I arrived early I mingled with the volunteers that were setting things up for class.  I went to grab a plate so I could eat before class began and was informed that we were not supposed to eat until everyone arrived (this was not the norm.) The ladies doing the refreshments from First Federal Savings Bank were out picking up the pizza.  There was also salad on the bar already prepared.  Soon the class members started arriving and to our surprise, they had each brought us something they had made or bought for supper.  They said they wanted to do something for us.  They brought spaghetti, salad, potato salad, etc.  We had a feast.  The volunteers had even arranged for a cake to celebrate the completion of the class.

Not only was the food a surprise, but they decided on their own, that they wanted us all to gather around in a circle and bless the food.  One of the class members blessed it for us with the sweetest of prayers.  All I could do was shake my head in amazement.  My cup runneth over with blessings and happiness.  This wasn’t just a class with volunteers and students, this was more than that…a family.

We watched the final Dave Ramsey video which happened to be on giving (they didn’t know the subject of the video ahead of time).  Then it was time for Andy to hand out the Dave Ramsey completion certificates and the incentive monies to each of them.  We thanked them for coming and for being a part of such a special class and encouraged them to share with others what they had learned during the classes.  We even invited them to come back and volunteer with the next class run.

My husband came to take another group picture and some individual pictures of the class members.  We were getting ready to start that when they told us to wait.  They went and grabbed a big poster board from the back of the room and the 7 class members told us to trade places with them.  They gathered on the stage and held up the poster they made thanking us for having the class.  Each had taken the time to write down some thoughts to us.

If that wasn’t enough to make me cry, they then each proceeded to give a speech about how the class had impacted their lives.  One shared, “My life is pretty screwed up right now but I’ve been able to take steps in the right direction by taking this class…” Others shared that they had not only learned a lot about finances that would change their lives but that they had made new friends and would even call us all family.  Each has agreed that the incentive money was not the reason they chose to take the class (they didn’t even realize they would get money for the advanced class). The young lady from the beginner’s class that shared she had left her abusive relationship because of the class and the people she had met, shared that she now had a “mom and dad” in 2 of the other classmates and that her life has never been better.  She was going to be getting her GED and couldn’t wait to show us how well she was going to do.  I don’t believe there was a dry eye in the room.

While I am sad the class is over, each of the students assured us that it wasn’t “goodbye” but “see you later.” They told us not to be surprised to see the next class overflowing with people and that some would be back to volunteer or share their testimonies.

In the beginning I was worried that the love of God would not find its way into this class because it was mostly on finances.  I am completely and utterly amazed, but shouldn’t be surprised how God did work in enormous ways through that class.  The “mom and dad” members I mentioned earlier, have recruited 2 of the members to join their church.  During the last class, I heard another member asking about their church and they wrapped their arms around her and lovingly invited her to join them.  There have been prayers and genuine love from members and volunteers that only God can bring.  What a blessing! What a blessing!

MC3 FPU Beginner’s Class Reflection

I have been amazingly blessed to be a part of a financial literacy program at Monroe Circle Community Center in downtown South Bend.  This program is partnered with First Federal Savings Bank.   I was approached and asked if I would facilitate the beginner’s class using the Dave Ramsey financial material.

Each week I began by asking the group if they had any victory stories.  The first time I asked,  the response was small, which was expected since we were all new to the class.  One student in particular shared from the beginning.  She is a young girl, I would say in her early 20s.  From the very first class she was bubbly, friendly, and smiling from ear to ear.  Without hesitation she raised her hand and shared that she had saved $50 on her own the past week and made plans to save $10 a day during the weekdays by not wasting money on things she didn’t need to buy.

Each week, she always had something positive to say and I noticed that she had begun to make friends with a couple at a neighboring table.  This couple has been amazing.  You could tell they loved God and all of the people in the room.  Knowing that I couldn’t “preach” during my class each week, I prayed that God would find a way into this class.  Every time Dave Ramsey would mention scripture or God I would smile and pray that someone would be touched by it.  God was truly working throughout this class.

On the night of the final class I started 3 minutes late and jokingly told everyone that since I started 3 minutes late, I needed 3 extra victory stories.  A hand from a gentleman at the back table flew up and he shared that he had gotten a part time job.  We all cheered.  Then without fail, the bubbly young lady raised her hand to share.  She then stood up and her face immediately grew serious.  For just a moment I was nervous.  What was she going to share?

I must back up a little to say that each week, in preparation for the week’s class, I would sit down on Tuesday night and make an outline of what I would share and teach.  For some reason, this particular week I had failed to do this.  I couldn’t explain what happened since I am normally very responsible and make sure I do this.  During the day on Thursday I had planned to take my lunch hour at work to create my outline.  I ended up working through my lunch (lots of things popping up that had to be done).  Knowing I wasn’t going to have the time to prepare that I had desired I kept praying throughout the day and talking to God saying, “God, you know this is totally unlike me. I know there has to be a reason for it.  Please help me to trust you.”

Getting back to the moment this young lady stood up and her face grew serious…she said that she herself had 3 victories to share this week.  She said that one of them she wasn’t going to share but she just had to share and tell everyone.  She shared that her first victory story was that she was able to end an abusive relationship with her boyfriend.  Each week she had been coming to class looking happy but she was really hurting from being beaten so badly.  Her second victory story was that she had learned through this FPU class how to save her money and spend her money more wisely.  She learned she didn’t need to stay in this relationship and that she could do this on her own.  She was going to be able to do better and so she could end her abusive relationship.  Her third victory was that in ending one relationship, she was able to begin another.  She turned to the couple at the next table over and said they were her family now.  They had adopted her over the weeks and even invited her to their church.  She (and her young son) had been going to their church and loved it.  Her son even calls the couple grandma and grandpa.  She was truly happy with all of God’s blessings in her life.

No, the story isn’t over yet.  She sat down and the lady sitting next to her raised her hand to share.  She said that she had known this young lady through her GED class but realized she didn’t really know her until she had gotten to know her through this class.  She was able to help her through this rough time in her life and also through talking to the young lady, she heard how much she loved going to church.  Eventually she began going to this church too and now they all go and just love what God is doing in their lives.

When she finished sharing, the woman from the couple said she wanted to tell everyone that she loved them with the love of the Lord and that she wanted them to know that God had a purpose for each of them being in this class.  She said that they did nothing special, that it was all with God’s glory that this had happened.  There were many amens and cheers as she finished sharing.

I had to hold back tears of joy.  There was a reason I hadn’t prepared that Tuesday night.  There was a reason I hadn’t had time at lunch to prepare.  It was because God had something much better planned.

It truly has been a blessing to work with these special people.  I have come to love each of them.  I miss them already.  They all plan to come back for the advanced class in a few weeks.

Life lately

Wow, it’s been a long time since I have taken time to blog.  This is one of the negative things about Twitter and Facebook.  I feel like I say all I need to say in 140 characters or less and that covers me for my followers on Facebook and Twitter.  A lot tends to get lost doing it that way.

Let’s see.  My parents came to visit in May and I had a blast spending time with them.  We bought lots of plants and flowers to plant around our new pond and front of the house.  Everything looked so beautiful.  I love doing that sort of thing.  It makes me happy to know that I got that from my Dad.  He has always loved working with plants.  He really loves tending to his african violets in the house the most though (wink wink Mom hehe).  We worked a lot outdoors but we also had time to enjoy Amish country and just being together.

Dave and Jessica Mast came for a visit.  It’s always a good time when those two stop in.  We wish they lived in town so we could hang out more.  Jessica and I went shopping and found an awesome deal on an ottoman (I’ve been searching for one forever). Dave spent time with the GCC IT folks.  Then we bought a ton of nerf gun supplies (thanks to Laura Gekeler’s inspiration) and had a blast modifying the guns and shooting each other.

Justin’s parents also came up for a visit recently and Justin put them right to work.  He and his dad worked long hours on rewiring our garage electric adding a new breaker box and discovering that there was little to no insulation in the walls (more fun projects).  Justin’s mom headed up a yard sale to get rid of some old college mismatch furniture.  She made a killing and we were able to go celebrate at Texas Roadhouse with the funds.  I enjoyed getting to spend time one on one with Lorraine just talking.

Hopefully my sister Kelly and Justin’s sister Stacey will make the trek up here this month or next for a visit.  It’s so nice to get to see family.

Justin and I are heading to Grand Haven, MI this month for a long weekend getaway (our first on our own since our honeymoon almost 6 years ago).  We are bringing Java and are staying at a really cool apartment down town.  I am really looking forward to it after a long summer of book prep for the Fall semester at Bethel. We also plan to head to Florida to watch the second to last shuttle launch ever in November.  Justin was lucky enough to be selected to go to the NASA tweet-up and have up close access to the launch, tours, interviews, etc.   Unfortunately I was not selected to join him but I’m super stoked he will have this once in a lifetime opportunity.  I will watch from the hotel or somewhere a few miles away.

Life at the Bethel Bookstore has been busy but fulfilling.  We launched online textbook ordering for the first time this semester and it has proven to be very successful.  It definitely cut down on lines and made things much easier for students.  We have heard a lot of positive feedback from this feature.  We now have a new touch screen register system and love it.  That also made rush much smoother.  The returning student workers learned the new system very quickly and so far all of them seem to love it.  A lot of behind the scenes work has gone into the success of this fall semester and we are excited for what the future holds for our store.

If you are still reading this long blog entry I would like to ask you to sincerely pray for me about an opportunity I have been given at GCC.  I have been asked to lead a financial course for MC3 at the beginning of the year.  I’m excited about this but very nervous to be creating, leading, and possibly teaching this course to adults, teens, and kids.  I have been praying for awhile now for an opportunity to get more involved and to follow God’s will and then this popped up.  I could use all the prayers I can get.  I’m trying to jump out of the boat and out of my comfort zone in hopes that I will expand my comfort zone and continue to be obedient to whatever God brings my way.

Well that’s it for now.  Hope to blog again soon and more often.

Make Music With The Heavens

I just love the song “Sing, Sing, Sing”…I think that’s what it’s called.  We sang it at church again this week.  When I’m focused and worshiping and listening to the words as I sing them it just gives me goose bumps…goose bumps that only God lets me feel.  It’s how I know for that moment that I’m completely in sync with Him.  The words that really get me are:

“Sing sing sing
And make music with the heavens
We will sing sing sing
Grateful that you hear us when we
Shout your praise
Lift high the name of Jesus”

How cool is it to remember that Heaven is in constant celebration with Jesus.  There is always joy, peace, love, excitement, etc.  It’s just one big Jesus party.  So, when I sing that song and think that maybe for a moment my heart is singing to Jesus in the same way and at the same time that my loved ones in Heaven are singing…I can’t help but be filled with joyous goose bumps.

Many times while I’m at church…I’m listening to the message and the music, but I also think God is speaking to me.  I have these thoughts that come to mind.  Like yesterday during that song, I was thinking about how it’s often impossible for us on earth to celebrate Jesus like those in Heaven.  We live in a world of constant distraction.  So, when I can find focus and point my heart towards Jesus, that is when I’m in “heaven”.  I love that feeling and I think that’s why Jesus lets us experience that.  It IS a taste of Heaven and something I long for.

I also thought about the fog from the fog machines.  How the dry ice allows us to see the air particles all around us in a new way.  Normally we don’t give the air particles a second thought.  What if we thought of the air as Jesus.  After all, Jesus IS all around us all the time….so is the air.  “This is the air I breathe…Your Holy Presence living in me.”  I didn’t notice the fog until I focused on it.  I really need to focus on the things I take for granted everyday.  Jesus is here, living around and in me.   Thank you Lord.  🙂

My God is An AWESOME God!

I don’t think I can even begin to type all the things that I am thankful for in the last year nevermind my entire life.  For the sake of the two of you that might read this, I’ll make it short haha.

A lot of things have changed since Thanksgiving last year.  Last year at this time I was in the middle of a depressing period of searching for a job with none in sight.  I spent most of my days on the couch or cleaning the house over and over just trying to feel useful while I waited for emails/calls that never came from many applications I sent out.  I think a lot of my discouragement was that I didn’t think it would take so long to find a job.  I trusted in God.  I always will, but it was definitely hard to feel defeat and uselessness.  Justin would come home from work all excited about his day and the things he was doing.  It was extremely hard for me to remain positive.  I knew there was a reason…a purpose for me to be in the state I was.  I tried…not always patiently to wait for the Lord’s guidance.

Then one day in January I got a phone call from a friend telling me about The Walking Company job.  I am forever grateful to her and to my coworkers there.  I was able to get out of the house and make friends and earn money and feel useful.  I stayed there full time for 8 months.  Then as many of you have read in a past post…I felt God calling me to “walk on water” and give up my position full time there.  Not long after that I found my current job at Bethel College Bookstore.  I love it, I love the schedule, the atmosphere, the people.  It is truly AWESOME how God works and molds me everyday.  I was also able to stay on at The Walking Company one night a week to help with shipping and damages.  That way I get to see my friends there.  I don’t know how long they will need me but I am thankful to have them as friends no matter what.

Today…I’m happy, we have a newly renovated kitchen that we were able to pay in cash (well check) thanks to Dave Ramsey’s teachings.  Our families are all happy and healthy.   Justin’s parents and sister are here now to enjoy Thanksgiving with us.  I have an amazing husband that shows me his love everyday.  Java and the boys are my sweet babies and I feel their love every time I walk in the door after a long day.  All is well and God is Awesome!

Thank you Lord for an amazing year of downs and now ups.  The view is great from the mountaintops.  I love you Lord.

(I know I said it would be short….but it could be longer right?)

Happy Thanksgiving all!