Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Out of Dust.

Finally, I new post.

It's been months, much longer than I anticipated. For months I said to myself, "I'll write a new post after....or when I know...." Now, it's almost May. Almost May? If the calender didn't say it I would never believe that that is true.

So what has been happening in the these past few months? A little bit of everything. Lots of events, games, recitals, retreats, and countless meals and loads of laundry. As a dorm we've walked through change, growth, loss, stress, and lots of bonding moments. I could try and recount the year by events, and I will do a bit of that through pictures in another post (here is one for now), but what I see when I look at this year is growth.

As I processed what I would write in this post the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor kept running through my mind. Here are some of the lyrics.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

I first heard this song last year and I liked it. I thought it was a bit repetitive but beautiful. This year, the song has taken on a whole new meaning and message to me. It's become a song of brokenness and redemption. A chant of hope and God's constant faithfulness to us. Now, the repetition is a comfort. A reminder that sometimes all we can do is repeat what we know to be true, even if we don't feel like it's true in the moment, having the hope that God is always faithful. And that is how this year has been. Through all things, all circumstances, all highs and lows, God has faithfully provided in His timing. This year is another anthem of God's faithfulness and provision, His constant love through brokenness and joy.

There are five and a half weeks left in the school year here. Five and a half more weeks to live with fourteen girls and two adults that I adore. Five and a half weeks to finish up another year and say the goodbyes none of us want to say. It's a hard time of year. Spring is here, the sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and let me tell you, this dorm is soaking in the beauty of the season. But with spring comes change here. So much change. I want everything to just slow down a little, give us more time together, time to enjoy one another without the cloud of loss that comes with change. But, I know that God is faithful, always faithful, and He times everything and gives us what we need to walk through it. So, I take a deep breath, try to enjoy every moment, and trust my Father.

So, there is a bit of a catch up. I wish I could recount more details and tell more stories. I hope to get a couple more blogs posted before the end of the year with fewer words and more pictures but sometimes I'm a bit too optimistic.

I'm struggling to write this final bit of news but know that it needs to come out, even if it doesn't sound like I want it too. Over the past 5 months I've struggled to make to make plans for next year. I love this place and the people here. I see God at work here and I want to be a part of it. There is such a need for workers here and I want to fill that need. I was considering a position here for next year that I would have loved to take. After a lot of time, prayer, processing, and so many conversations, however, I've decided it's time to head back to the States. I love and hate this decision. It breaks my heart to think about leaving, I never thought this would become my home but after three years, it is. But, I think it's time to walk in faith in a new direction. I'm not entirely sure what the next years will bring but God is doing something new and it's time to take a step.

This is what I have for now. Thank you so much for your prayers. I'm sorry I haven't been in touch but I am so thankful that you have been faithful in supporting me through prayer and giving even when I'm unfaithful in communicating. Also, I'm figuring out what my financial status looks like as this year comes to a close and I will be in touch about where I have needs and if I even have any. You have been so faithful to give and God has provided for me once again.

A few things to pray for as the year closes: Finishing well on all fronts here. Sweet times with relationships here. Continued guidance and provision for the future.

Thanks again for all your care for me and the work I get to do here. These years have been a blessing and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to this work that has become my life.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two Horses and a Carriage.

The pace is picking up here at Haus Blauen. The girls are settled into their studies and their chosen activities for the year. We have girls playing volleyball and soccer, helping out with Awana, and rehearsing for Seussical the Musical. We're soaking up the last of the warm weather and impatiently waiting for the mountains to turn orange and yellow, our visible sign of the change of season.

This weekend we had the privilege of going on a carriage ride in a neighboring town. We rode through corn fields, small villages, and vineyards behind to very large horses, a Clydesdale and a Shire named Max and Sam, and had wonderful time.

At the beginning of the year this couple offered to give carriage rides and host any of the dorms that were interested. We jumped on this opportunity, and it exceeded our expectations. This couple lives in Tannenkirch, an adorable little village about 30 minutes from our dorm, and wanted to serve the BFA community. The wife is American and her husband is German and they have an old farm house and barn. Not only did they take us on rides, they are provided drinks and snacks and just let the girls relax and enjoy their yard/barn area. We had a great time seeing the countryside and hanging out at their house, and the horses were amazing. We even got to help clean and feed them after the rides were over. Here are a few pictures from our little outing.

The first group is ready to get going.

Group number two ready for their ride.

And the last group of the day. 

Our driver was kind enough to offer us a snack on our ride by knocking some walnuts out of a tree we were passing by. We tried to crack them open but were very unsuccessful. Obviously. 

This is the beautiful countryside we enjoyed. That is Tannenkirch in the distance. Further out, the peak in the distance, is Blauen, our mountain. 

And here are some pictures while we weren't riding around in a carriage.

I found a little tiny chair. Beka thought she should get a picture of it. 

 I love this picture. We are definitely a girls dorm because here we have the massage chain. Fun fact: this is actually an old wine cellar that the owners of the house have redone.

Here is our dorm. These girls continue to surprise and amaze me. They are becoming a united group even though they come from diverse backgrounds. They strive to love and care for each other. They are wonderful and I am blessed to live with them. 

Fall is continuing to settle in here just like the girls are. The weather is cooling down and rain is falling more often. Here are a couple prayer requests for the coming the weeks. Susie, our dorm mom, had to leave suddenly when her mom got sick a couple of weeks ago. She is back in the States and will be gone for a month total. Pray that things will go smoothly even with her gone. Pray for energy for the remaining staff as we are all picking up a few more responsibilities. Pray for Susie as she is caring for her mom and her family.

That's all for now. I hope your day is full of fall colors, hats, beautiful scarves, and God's faithfulness.


Friday, September 2, 2011


Two days ago I had a bit of a shocking moment. After dinner every night we put away the leftovers and mark what the food is and the date. I went to write the date and said out loud, "It's the 27th, right?" My staff members quickly corrected me and told me it was the 31st. The 31st of August! 

A month has gone by. September is here. Training has come and gone. Our new students have arrived and settled in and our returning students followed soon after. Now we're finding our rhythm for life in the dorm. Another year has started. 

It's been interesting being back for a third year. They say that it takes a whole year to really feel settled in a new place. The first year I was learning all about this new culture, both German and BFA. I learned so much about humility and releasing control, trusting others to advise and guide me. The second year I was relieved to understand where I was and what I was doing. While I didn't think everything was perfect, it was comforting just understand what was going on and what would happen next. So what will year three be marked by? I'm not sure yet. It's good to be back. I love this dorm. I love my little village. I love the heart and passion of the people in the BFA community to love and serve God and one another well. But this year feels different already, as it should. God's doing something, time will tell how I will be changed by Him and His love this year. 

In very exciting news, because of your faithful support I am at 90% for the year! I am so thankful for all of you who have been praying and giving toward my year here. I even have a couple new monthly supporters! To reach 100% for the year all I need is around $160 a month or $1600 total. If you would like to give a one time gift or sign up to be a monthly supporter just let me know or visit Teach Beyond and put my name in the space for "specific missionary". 

Here are just a few pictures from my time back in the States this summer. It was good to be back and catch up with so many of you. I've known your love and support through so many ways. I am so blessed when you use your gifts and talents to support and provide for my needs. Thank you so much for continuing to care for me. 

Our one day as a whole family in Michigan. 


Happy 60th Dad! Celebrating with the "best" cherry pie in Michigan. It was pretty amazing.

Britt and Val, two friends from Moody, came to visit for a couple of days. These are two amazing women who are passionate about knowing God. Spending time with them was so refreshing, even though it was during the hottest weather of the summer.

So, obviously, we swam everyday.

I also spent some precious time with my siblings, who I just can't seem to spend enough time with, and with my relatives in Texas, Iowa, and Minnesota. Being over here might be a little easier if my family wasn't so wonderful. 

That's it for now. Look for another post soon with pictures of life here! We have 7 new girls and they are all incredible. Really. Add them to our 7 returners, who are amazing, and it looks like it will be a great year!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Support Update.

Just a quick update on my support raising this summer. The plan is to leave on Thursday for Germany, yes that is only 4 days away and I'm not sure where summer went, but I am still in need of support to return on time. I need to be at 90% and right now I'm at 80%. Ideally I would like to raise around $5,000 more total for the year but at this point really need around $2,000 to leave on time.

What does this mean for you? If you are interested in supporting me monthly or giving a one time gift let me know and I would love to send you more information. I would also appreciate your prayers as I finish up my time here and get ready to transition back to BFA and prepare for the girls' arrival. It has been wonderful to see so many of you this summer. It is amazing to come back to my home church and community and know your love and support for me. I couldn't do this without you. Look for another blog post soon about this summer and what's coming up in the fall at Blauen!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mark the Calender.

Two weeks from today I fly back to the States. Unbelievable.

Right now I could use a pause button on life. Or at least a slow motion button. Things are crazy here. I just got back from soccer tournament which was fun but now I feel about a week behind on everything. It's time to pack up. Start writing goodbye notes. Try to have those last conversations and say things I should have said long ago. The dorm needs a good, deep clean. The girls are preparing for final exams. My entire apartment needs to be sorted, cleaned, and packed. My "to do" list is continually growing with little details I can't forget while very few items are getting check off. But as important as all these things I need to do are, I just want to be with my girls. I want to sit and laugh and go on walks and just enjoy these moments together. Where is the balance? How do I get everything done, spend time with these girls, and not go crazy? I have no idea.

*Deep breath*

So, that's where I am. I know everything will get done, one way or another, (probably with a lot of coffee) and in two weeks I can take a deep breath and ween myself off caffeine.

What I really wanted to talk about in this post is Sunday, June 12th. I mentioned in my last post that both Amy Cherry and I would be speaking in the combined ABF about life here. I also want to let you know that that evening I am hosting a little get together for anyone who would like to hear more about what I'm doing here and just catch up on life. I'll be in the States for 6 weeks this summer but I'll be doing quite a bit of traveling and want to make the most of the time I have in the Bluffton area to see people. Please put this on your calender and come by my parents' house sometime between 6 and 8 pm. Come and go as you please, and enjoy a little something sweet. If you need directions or an address, just let me know.

In random news, my dorm got our dorm clothing for the year. Here is a picture of us all with our new sweatpants. I think we look pretty good.

I'm getting excited to come back and see everyone again. I hope your day is wonderful.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Spring is here. Praise the Lord. It's sunny, warm, fragrant, and oh so green.

As much as I love spring and the hope it brings of sunnier days and time with friends and family who have been far away, it is crazy busy here at BFA. I want to count the days and hours I have with my girls and make the most of every moment but sometimes it feels like all I can do is hold on.

We had our spring break here one month ago. Every year BFA offers missions trips for the first week of spring break to the students and staff who want to lead. 4 of my girls participated in these trips this year traveling to Uganda, China, Slovenia, and Burkina Faso. I've heard wonderful reports from all the trips even though there were difficulties, rainy weather, delayed and cancelled flights, and lots of bugs. I love hearing about how God works through these times to strengthen the students and grow in their lives.

I would have loved to go on one of these trips but this year, I had different plans. For the first week my dear friend Val came to visit me here. We traveled around the area where I live, ate delicious food, drank too much Highlander Grogg coffee (thanks Mom and Dad), and just enjoyed being together.

We took a day trip to the Alps also. It was beautiful.

Janae, another friend from Moody who is now a missionary with OM and works just a couple hours from me, also came down for a couple nights. The three of us drove over to France and spent a day touring a castle and driving through vineyards with our dear friend Mercedes.

For the second week of break I traveled with another RA and a senior at Sonne to the Canary Islands, volcanic islands that belong to Spain a little off the coast of Morocco. Caroline, one of the seniors in my dorm, lives here with her family. It was wonderful to visit them, see the island, and just relax in the sun. Caroline's mom is also a wonderful cook and I thoroughly enjoyed eating some non-dorm meals that I wasn't in charge of cooking. We also enjoyed the beautiful sunsets over the ocean.

And now we're all back and life is crazy. There at four weeks until grad and countless events to partake in. This weekend we had one of the big ones for our juniors and seniors, JSB or Junior Senior Banquet. It's a less formal prom with dinner and performances by the students. This was my first year to attend JSB here and I really enjoyed it. Here are a few pictures from the evening.

Life lesson: learning how to put on a boutonniere is an important skill to master. Beka's doing a great job with her date's. And, although you can't really see it, she made this one out of jean material and wire to match her dress. I was impressed.

Here is a little Bluffton reunion at JSB.

And a few of my girls, Caroline, Karis, Angela, and Hannah Jo, looking beautiful.

BFA also hosted its annual Staff Appreciation Dinner this past week. The girls love this night because all the staff are out of the dorm and the seniors are in charge. This usually means some combination of dance parties, sneaking ice cream, water fights, raiding the kitchen, bonfires, and maybe even a slip and slide. For the staff it means getting dressed up, eating a relaxed meal that we don't have to cook, serve, or clean up after, and enjoying time together. I haven't decided who has more fun. Here is a picture with the 2 other RAs that I went through orientation and began my time here with. We're all signed up for a 3rd year here too which I think is pretty exciting.

So, the weeks remaining in the school year are exciting, but also full of seemingly incongruent emotions. Graduation is wonderful. 4 years of hard work is paying off and it's time to pursue big dreams and gain independence. Watching the senior get ready to graduate, move out, and say their goodbyes, however, is hard. Knowing that I have to say goodbye to them is even harder. I've spent two years full of laughters, tears, and growth with these girls. Next year is a new year in the dorm with a new group of seniors and new students and that is healthy and natural for the dorm. Realizing that the atmosphere I have settled into and love dearly will change next year can be difficult to accept. Living in this place where there is constant turnover in students and staff can make life seem unstable and the possibility for long term relationships seem impossible. Then I remember that God's timing is always perfect. I've seen this over and over in my life. Now is the time to cling to what I know is truth even though I doesn't feel right. I may want more time with the girls that are leaving but I can't change that. What I can change is the quality of time that we have now. So, instead of trying to convince God that my plan is better, I just want to soak up every moment I have now. Now is not the time to worry about what is coming next, now is the time to embrace the here and now.

That being said, I appreciate your prayers during this time. Pray that everyone will be able to process and transition well. Pray for our seniors as they say goodbye to their community and spread out all over the world. Pray for the underclassmen as they say goodbye to fellow students that they love. Pray for many of the families that are leaving BFA for 1 year or forever. Also pray for positions at BFA that aren't filled yet. Particularly dorm parents for one of the girl dorms, this is a huge hole in our staffing for next year.

A month from now I'll be back in the States for the summer. I wouldn't have realized this if it weren't for my mom and little sister reminding me. Mark on your calenders Sunday, June 12th, and come to St. John's combined ABF hour to hear more about this year and what God's doing at BFA. Amy Cherry and I will both be sharing about life in the dorms and what missions looks like here.

I feel like I say thank you over and over again and I hope you know that this isn't just a habit or an obligation. I am so thankful for all of your prayers, and emotional and financial support. I'm only here because I have such a wonderful community supporting me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011


When I was 15 and began to drive, my family owned two big GMC vans and our old Ford Tempo. Now, the Tempo was far from fancy but it was usually drivable and my favorite of our vehicles to use. Much of my time learning to drive was spent in the vans though, and learning to get both of them in the garage helped me ace the maneuverability portion of my driving test. After I got my license I would avoid driving the vans as much as I could. When my sister would come home from college, however, the Tempo had to be shared and sometimes I would be left with a van to drive. I would whine and complain, making sure everyone knew how horrible it was to drive them. They were so big and bulky and harder to park and how many other high school students had to drive a giant van around? My family graciously endured my complaining, usually, with a little eye rolling and a few exchanged glances. Eventually we sold those two fans, the Tempo died and was replaced and life moved on. Occasionally my family would like to bring up my little temper tantrums over driving those vans, just to keep me humble.

Fast forward 8 years. I come over here, move into the dorm, and what do I drive now? Two big 9 passenger vans. God definitely has a sense of humor.

Now, there are a couple of differences. Instead of being GMC they are Mercedes. This sounds very classy but remember, this is Germany. The semi trucks and public buses here are Mercedes. Also, they are stick shift. An interesting new challenge to my driving skills that I have grown to thoroughly enjoy. Finally, I'm not in flat, laid out in square miles, Ohio anymore. I live 10 kilometers from school and the nearest grocery store, up a mountain road that has 60 some curves in it.

This is a link to the blog of one of my friends who is a RA at Sonne, the dorm across the street. He made a time lapse video this fall of the drive down to town. For a portion of it you can even see me driving Junior, our white van. I think it's pretty sweet, so check it out.

It's funny, even though driving is a challenge here, I have come to love it. There were a lot of new rules to learn and the whole system of roads is different but after adjusting to that it is fun. It's a good thing that I enjoy driving because I drive a lot. Grocery shopping, airport and train station runs, visiting friends, picking up dinner, going to meetings, soccer practices, or the school, I get to drive a big van to all of these. I especially love driving with my girls. Sometimes we go with the music blaring, singing at the top of our lungs, with the windows down (when the weather permits). When we're tired of the CD's in the van and there's nothing but German songs on the radio the volume goes down. Sometimes we talk and sometimes we're all lost in our own thoughts. These times are sweet though. Catching up on the day, Christmas break, or just enjoying the beautiful drive back to the dorm. I love these times.

H, B, K, and I are about to head down the hill. We're in Junior even though it looks a bit like a fishbowl.

I didn't expect to drive as much as I do but I look back and see how God prepared me in His own way for this. After parking two big GMC's in a little garage, the small German parking spaces aren't quite as intimidating as they might have been. After driving a big Suter's box truck on small country roads and highways, the narrow German country roads aren't very scary. I look back and laugh at how much I hated and complained about those two vans, knowing now that God saw the big picture of my life. It makes me wonder what else I complain about in my life today that God has brought at this time to prepare me for what is still to come.

So there's a little snapshot into part of what I do here. There are some exciting things coming up here. This weekend is High School Retreat and we are headed to Lenk, Switzerland. The whole high school will go and stay in a Chalet together. We'll have sessions, small group time, and free time to go skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, or just hang out and relax. Pray that God uses this time to draw everyone there, both staff and students, closer to Him. Also pray that relationships and friendships will be built and strengthened. Then on Monday, soccer starts! I'm coaching again this year and very excited for the season. I love getting outside, putting on my cleats again, and getting to know new girls. I'm learning so much about how to coach and often feel inadequate for the job, but it's a process and I enjoy it. Thanks for all your support and I love to hear back from you about how you are doing!