Tuesday, December 31, 2013


At the end of every year, I've made it a tradition to reflect where I've been and the major life happenings. This year is definitely one to go down in the books as one of the busiest, and probably most eventful.

2013 began as I transitioned from being a full-time college student to a full-time employee at Carthage. I continued working with some of my favorite people in the Financial Aid office, but knew I couldn't stay there forever...
it was a bittersweet goodbye. 

And then I met one of the best families I know and fell in love with these three kids. Nannying was exhilarating and exhausting. It taught me to have patience, grace and find joy in the smallest of things...

Eventually May rolled around... graduation month. First the big brother graduated from UW-Oshkosh...

And then it was my turn to make my departure from Carthage official. Friends gathered to embrace the last bit of time we had and reminisce on the gifts we were given during our four years together. We laughed, we cried, and we said good-bye...
we did it!  
so long carthage. 

A week after graduation I moved out of my college house and headed to the mitten. The month of June I was reunited with one of my best friends and we worked together at Michindoh. We fell in love with small town Hillsdale and embraced a new sort of Young Life camping. 
oh the places you'll find in a small town.
Michindoh dream team. 

2013 was also the year of turning twenty-two. I was blessed by a birthday celebration complete with best friends, fireworks, and sparkling candles.

The celebrations continued as dear friends tied the knot and we danced the night away. 

These couples are true examples of what it means to love whole-heartedly and have unshakable 

And then it was the end of August and I was fitting my entire life in the back of the jeep. My dreams to move west to Colorado and work full-time at a Young Life camp became a reality. 

Colorado has led to meeting so many new people that I now call my intern family... climbing a mountain... and taking up skiing. 

 A lot has changed in 2013. It's been a year of change, growth, and trying new things. It's been a year of saying goodbye, learning forgiveness, and savoring the sweet moments. It's been a year of independence, raw emotions, adventure, and celebration. It has been a year. 

But if there was one over-arching thing I want to remember from the year it would be to embrace the moments and allow for grace. Moments can pass by too easily. All of these memories from above happened in the blink of an eye. But there's beauty in breathing them in slowly, in embracing the emotions that are attached, and in thanking the Lord for the joy they bring. And when the days get hard and embracing the moment seems impossible, allow for grace. After all it is your first year out of college. You're not required to have it all together or know how to handle every situation. The Lord will guide you and never leave your side. 

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, 
it is the gift of God."
                                                                                                {Ephesians 2:8}      

"Whoever pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperity and honor."
                                                                                                {Proverbs 21:21}  

Monday, December 23, 2013

this Christmas.

This Christmas is different in many ways. I've spent the majority of the Christmas season in the Fraser valley, a place very different than where I call home.  The valley did a nice job of decorating main street, and placing a beautiful Christmas tree at the base of Winter Park. Beyond that, it was hard to tell the Christmas season was upon us. Faces were still downcast. "Merry Christmas" was rarely in the vocabulary. And stores didn't change much (stores mostly meaning the grocery store). The valley didn't invite a lot of celebration.

And then I found myself in the Denver International Airport which eventually led me back to Green Bay, Wisconsin. This city has exploded with Christmas. Many department stores are extending their hours or not closing at all until Christmas Eve. The sound of the Salvation Army bells are everywhere. And Christmas lights illuminate neighborhoods. 

To be honest, it's very easy to fit in to one of these "attitudes" of Christmas. We can put up a few decorations and let the season pass slowly, or we can go all out and indulge in the expectations of Christmas.  But I think there's more than that. There's more to the season of Christmas. 

This Christmas I've been more mindful of the holiday we put so much energy into. I pondered the reasons we celebrate and what it means for our lives. And I realized this is no small miracle. I think of the way life must have been then. For 400 years God was silent. All his people left to figure life out on their own. No comfort. No love. No grace. And then an angel comes to Mary to tell her she is going to give birth to the Savior of the world. The Comforter. Prince of Peace. God with us. He has not forgotten! He is coming to save!

A few months later Mary and Joseph, like so many others, are traveling to Bethlehem. They're tired, worn out and frustrated they didn't make it to the inn before it was full. They settle for a barn down the way because Mary can't go any more. And in the middle of the night, Jesus is born. In an instant, everything changes. Light has come. Hope has arrived. But everyone is too busy to notice the miracle. Everyone except the shepherds. Awake and alert, an angel went to them and delivered the good news. They listened. They went. And they praised God.  

It's easy to overlook the miracle. The innkeeper did as he tended to the needs of his guests. The merchants did it as they restocked their shelves. And I do it as I hurry through the mall. But what if we didn't overlook the miracle this Christmas? What if we hung lights with hope, remembering the hope we have in the light of the world? What if we wrapped presents with love, remembering the gifts the wise men brought to their Savior? And what if we gathered with the ones we love with joy, remembering the gathering of the shepherds? How would this Christmas look different? 

My prayer this Christmas is that we wouldn't just let Christmas pass or that we would indulge in the expectations of Christmas. But I pray we would be like the shepherds... aware of the miracles all around us, whether it be a child born, family returning home, an unexpected gift under the tree, or a soft snow falling on the trees.  These miracles are just simple reminders of the greatest miracle of all. A Savior born unto us. 

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
                                                  {Isaiah 9:6}

Thursday, December 12, 2013

the war is already won.

A few weeks ago my sweet friend Amy was here to visit and we decided to get much needed massages. It was an absolutely wonderful experience feeling so pampered in such a beautiful place. Mary was my masseuse and I told her about my scoliosis before she started working on my back. She was quite intrigued by the structure of my spine and the way it effected the rest of my body. At one point she said to me, "You plant your feet, don't you?" I was slightly caught off guard and responded with a questioning yes. With which she responded, "You're constantly in fight position. You need to let loose a little bit." Who is this woman, I thought, and what is she talking about?

About a week later, I listened to a sermon titled "Peace Child" because well, I was feeling like I could use a little peace these days. The pastor, Louie Giglio, briefly touched on peace, but brought up a handful of other topics as well. At the end he shared a story about a soldier from World War II that was instructed to not stop fighting until his commander came to get him. When the war ended pamphlets were sent to this soldier and the three other men with him, but they didn't believe what it said. They thought it was one of the enemy's tactics. As the years passed, two soldiers fled on different occasions and one died. The original soldier was still in fight mode thirty years later when his commander finally came to rescue him. For thirty years he was fighting a war that was over. 

Sometimes our lives look a lot like this soldier's. Even though the war is over, we continue to fight. We continue to fight ourselves and the world around us.

And if I'm being honest, Mary the masseuse was correct. I'm constantly in fight mode. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what it is that I'm fighting. And I've found that I'm fighting the world. I'm fighting to not let anyone or anything distract me from knowing Christ. I'm fighting to remain faithful to the One who has called me. I'm fighting against every little thing that can so easily tear me apart. Every day I put up my shield and fight. 

But as Christians, as people who follow Christ, we are not called to live a life of war. In the Old Testament there was a guy named Jehoshaphat who was the king of Judah. One day some people came to him and said there was a vast army coming against him. He was frightened and asked God what to do, saying "For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." {2 Chronicles 20:12}. God responded to him saying, 
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For this battle is not yours, but God's... You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you."                       {2 Chronicles 20:15,17}
And the next day Jehoshaphat went out with his small army only to find the enemy's army lying dead on the desert floor. No one had escaped the hand of God.

I believe these words weren't just meant for Jehoshaphat about to enter a physical battle, but also for us. Every day the Lord tells us "this battle is not yours... I will fight for you." And instead of fighting we are called to stand firm... to stand firm in the character of God, knowing he is faithful, powerful, and just... and to stand firm in the truth of his word.

This world is a really hard place. Most days it feels like if I don't raise my shield, the war will be lost. But the truth is, the war is already won. Jesus took our sin upon himself, died on the cross and proclaimed, "It is finished."

My prayer is that we would not be the soldier who fought a war for thirty years before realizing it was already over, but that we would be a people proclaiming "it is finished" every single day. The war is over, victory is won, and we no longer need to fight. What a gift that is.

Friday, November 22, 2013

lessons learned in a bittersweet season.

I recently used up all the pages of my journal. Every one of them filled with thoughts, prayers, heartaches, scripture, moments to remember and praises to God. A piece of me was excited for this journal to end because there was a certain bitterness to it. But then another piece of me was sad for this journal to end because there was a certain sweetness to it. In fact, it was just that... bittersweet.
Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.     --Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet 
I began this journal on May 5th, five months after finishing my final semester of college, but just a few weeks before officially graduating. A lot happened since that mild spring day and I felt it worthy to read the pages of my heart between then and now.

As I flipped through the pages, these are six lessons I believe the Lord taught me in this bittersweet season of life.

1: We all long for someone to know us deeply, to feel our pain, and never let us go. Those spring days were filled with a lot of loneliness... feeling like no one really understood where I was in life and that no one knew the deepest parts of my soul. Many days were spent searching for the one that could know and understand but I always came up empty. And then one gloomy day as I was driving home from a much needed Starbucks break, I burst into tears. I couldn't do it anymore. I needed someone to hold me and tell me it would all be okay. And in that moment, I felt the warmth of the One who knows me more than I know myself. I was embraced by His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. And since that moment, I am slowly learning that there is no one who can always promise to know us deeply, feel our pain, and never let us go. The only one who can promise that is our loving Father.

2: Life is much sweeter when we stop to recognize and thank God for the little moments. At some point along this journey, I started a list of gratitude, daily jotting down all things I was grateful for. Grateful for the microwave to reheat my coffee... smell of fresh play-doh... the ability to so easily talk to a friend too many states away... dirty dishes... weather that allows me to run outside again... baking with a 3 year old... tight embrace of a hug. Even though many of those days were hard, there was always a multitude of things to be thankful for. Always.

3: Do not take the people in your life for granted. Some days of this season were lonely, yes. But I also had a lot of people walking along side me through them and I do not take that for granted. A few pages of this journal are reserved for those people and my thankfulness for their presence in my life.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.    {Ecclesiastes 4:12} 

4: We are called to obedience... to be steadfast despite. 
"This is what God is teaching me here at Michindoh and in this moment of life. I am learning what true obedience is. I've always thought it to be following God's law strictly and when I screw up, hope is lost. I've thought obedience means constantly trying to discern God's will and only doing that. But these are false narratives God is helping me to overcome. Obedience and freedom can be in the same sentence. "Obedience is... inviting the Spirit of God to flow freely through us." Obedience is steadfast despite. Obedience is pursuing God when all hope seems lost. Obedience is trusting the Lord is faithful in the midst of a desert."         --taken directly from the pages of my journal (in a season of waiting shares more about this lesson)

5: Do not grow weary in the waiting. The Lord sees you and knows how hard it is for you. The waiting has been hard. Waiting to get to Crooked Creek. Waiting to feel freedom. Waiting for this place to feel like home. The waiting was hardest when I convinced myself I was alone. But looking back now, I know the Lord was with me. He saw me. He knew it was hard for me and he provided the strength I needed.
"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."    {Isaiah 40:31}

6: The Lord is faithful. The Lord has been so faithful in my journey of moving across the country, but also in even the smallest of things. In the sadness of leaving Kenosha, the place I grew to know and love, I wrote...
"But I trust the Lord will provide new places that will become my favorite. I will discover new coffee shops that I love. I will find a new church bursting with love for God. I will find a new grocery store. I will travel new roads over and over. I will find a new view I can't get enough of. The Lord makes all things new."
When I read this a few days ago I was so overcome by joy because the Lord proved to be so faithful in all of these. I discovered new coffee shops in this town that I love. I found a church that is quite different from what I'm used to, but I love the tight community there. I could probably navigate you through our small town grocery store blindly. I travel the same back country, dirt-covered roads all the while looking at a view I can't get enough of. Wow. The Lord is so faithful.

And so as I close this journal and sit it on the shelf I am thankful. I am thankful for the hard days that taught me invaluable lessons. I am thankful for the sweet days that reminded me of the Lord's goodness. And I am thankful for today... the day I can declare this to be a bittersweet season and be content with it.   

"Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really need both bitter and sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy."   --Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

Saturday, November 16, 2013

in the midst of the madness.

It's been a while. November came. And now on it's way out again. Life got busy. But it has been oh so good. 

My favorite times in the past few weeks have taken place when there's a million things to do, but I put them aside for something even greater. 

Monday was Veteran's Day which meant a vacation day for camp staff. I had a lengthy list of things that I wanted to use this extra day off for, but I put that aside. Instead, I hopped in the minivan with the other interns and headed to Colorado Springs. Trevor's family lives there and we went to spend less than 24 hours soaking in the perks of being in a home. We ate dinner at a beautifully set table, with parents, grandparents and siblings. The table was loud. There was a lot of passing of dishes. But it was oh so good. The next morning we made two pots of coffee, because well, that's necessary with all of us. We gathered around the table again for breakfast, and then quickly took a picture to remember these moments before heading out the door. 

All in the cars again, we ventured to the Garden of the Gods. The Lord's creation took my breath away. The entire area was filled with huge rock formation coming straight up out of nowhere. 

And then we stopped for coffee at a cute, downtown coffee shop. We sat outside in the warm sun of Colorado and talked. Although we all live together, it's rare we sit shoulder to shoulder at a round table and have a conversation. I can't recall much of what we talked about but I know it was good. I know it was a moment to breathe, take in the fresh air, and just be. 

Wednesday one of my favorite people from Michigan, Kelly, came to Colorado. She was 2 and a half hours away and this week ideally wasn't the one to spare 7 hours for driving and dinner, but we did it and it was oh so good. Jordan, Sushi and I drove back to Colorado Springs after work and talked the whole way down. We talked about family, intern life and our jobs. We talked about things that have been really good and things that have been really hard. When we finally got to Kelly, we embraced, and jumped back in the car headed for the lights (aka... a place to eat dinner). We landed at a fantastic brewery with "the best burgers in Colorado Springs". But it wasn't that place or it's food that made the night so great. It was the friends that gathered around the table. The four of us haven't been together since our summer 2011 at TWL but none of us could tell. After all sharing what we learned about the Lord this year, our waitress kindly dimmed the lights and told us we had to go, the restaurant was closing. The drive back was a little rough, we were all tired, but I wouldn't have changed the night for anything. Dinner was beautiful and exactly what I needed in the midst of busy times. 

This week we also had some guest services folks from all of the Young Life camps at CCR. Having some of my TWL fam here called for taking an hour lunch and going to bed a few hours later to catch up. It was a truly a gift.

And then last night, I got out of bed twice just to stand outside under the beautifully falling snow with friends I hold so dear to my heart. I had other things to do (mainly sleep), but I put that aside to make a memory. To embrace the moment. And it was oh so good. 

I've been reminded recently that our lives can get so busy we forget what we're truly made for. We're made to sit around the table as a family and be loud together. We're made to enjoy God's beauty. We're made to drive 4 hours just to get dinner with an old friend. We're made to get out of bed and stand under the beautifully falling snow. 
So I encourage you to put aside the agenda of what needs to get done this week. Embrace the very moment God has given us in the midst of the madness. And take some pictures too... they remind us of how good those moments are. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

throwing out the to-do list.

This week we had the privilege to go to Trail West, another Young Life camp, for a staff retreat. We spent three days together worshiping, playing games, drinking lots of coffee, and hearing from speakers. It was absolutely wonderful.

the girls at trail west.

One of the speakers, Reid, talked about Moses and his relationship with God. Moses was not a great king nor did he have high ranking in society, but God appeared to Moses and called him to lead 2 million people out of slavery and into the promised land of freedom. As you can imagine Moses was a bit overwhelmed and doubted God's calling. He said to God, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The Lord did not appear to you'?"(exodus 4:1). Then God told Moses to throw his staff to the ground, and when he did it became a snake. God instructed Moses to pick the snake up by its tail and in doing so, it became a staff again.

Reid challenged us by pointing out that sometimes God asks us to throw things down to the ground, to remove them from our controlling hands, and give them to the one who is in control of all things. It's quite likely that we could throw down something new every day. 

As I thought about this and asked God to reveal to me what it is I needed to throw down the word 'religion' came to mind. I was a bit confused for a moment, but things have become much clearer now.

Over the past year, my focus has slowly diverged from my relationship with God to a list of things I should do as a Christian. It's quite a long list, really, of things I need to do daily in order to call myself a Christian...

  • read my bible
  • pray
  • love people well
  • forgive others
  • be truthful in the words I say
  • think thoughts glorifying to God
  • be thankful in all circumstances
  • obey my authority

The list goes on. But checking these things off a list doesn't get me anywhere. What God really wants from me is an intimate relationship in which I give him my everything. C.S. Lewis writes it this way, 
"The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says 'Give me All. I don't want so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good."
God doesn't want my completed list. 'Throw that to the wolves', he says, 'and give me you. Give me your dreams and desires. Give me your pains and sorrows. Give me your struggles and strongholds. Give me all.' It's when I can finally throw down my religious list and give him my all, that I can be in true, intimate relationship with him. 

A marriage relationship came to mind when I was processing these thoughts. A husband and wife are in relationship with each other similar to the relationship we have with Christ. There are expectations husbands and wives have... a list of things they should do to play the role. But checking things off the list doesn't create an abundant marriage relationship. There has to be passion and desire to know each other intimately. The same is true in our relationship with God.

So today I'm throwing down my Christian to-do list and I'm spending intimate time with God. I desire to know him deeper. I desire to give him my all in hopes that he will be able to use me for his glory and his purpose. And I challenge you with the same question Reid challenged us with... What is God asking you throw down, to remove from your gripping hands, and give to him who is control of all things? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

the journey to here.

A lot of people have asked me lately how I got here to Crooked Creek Ranch and it's really got me thinking. It isn't by chance or random circumstance that I've landed in the mountains of Colorado doing ministry at a Young Life camp. My journey has been orchestrated by one who has bigger plans than I could ever imagine... my journey has been harder than I would like to admit... and my journey has been  a sweet time of learning what it means to follow God wholeheartedly.

During my high school years I was involved with Young Life and absolutely loved it. I loved the relationships I formed with my leaders, I loved hanging out with kids I wouldn't normally hang out with at school, and I loved learning more about God and what it meant to be in a relationship with him.
my leader and I in high school
The beginning of my senior year I made the decision to go to Carthage College in Kenosha, WI which was slightly difficult knowing there wasn't a Young Life club in the area. I desired to be more involved with the organization but it wouldn't be entirely possible during my time at Carthage.
After a series of difficult times during my freshman year of college and searching for more adventure in life, my Young Life leader encouraged me to apply for summer staff at Timber Wolf Lake. I came up with a laundry list of reasons as to why this was not a good idea and eventually threw my hands up in the air and said "what the heck, I'll just apply". That 'on a whim decision' led to being accepted to do summer staff and the jeep and I heading to Lake City, MI for the month of July. 

I was scared out of my mind for what that month was going to mean for my life, but trusted it was a part of God's journey for me. I was giving up all comfort and the things I knew for something greater than myself. And I loved every minute of it. I experienced deeply rooted community for the first time. I made friendships I still have today. I played just a small part in kids' lives being changed. In fact, I loved it so much that when two friends asked if I wanted to road trip with them to a Young Life camp in New York and do another month of summer staff I said yes. That was one of the biggest risks I've taken so far in life. I agreed to get in a car with 4 guys I just met to go to a foreign place to do summer staff all over again. Let's just say the Lord had his hand over me and blessed me in incredible ways.
friends from summer staff at timber wolf
the guys (minus one) I ventured to lake champion with
sweet ladies from lake champion

Following that summer of amazing adventure and spending so much time at a Young Life camp I knew the Lord was leading me closer to that in the future. The summer after my sophomore year of college I was hired to be an intern at Timber Wolf Lake. Again I was scared for what was ahead, but trusted it was in the Lord's plan for me. That summer was a time of growth, humility, and learning so much more about the ministry of Young Life through camping.
timber wolf lake interns 2011

After spending two summers at a Young Life camp, I simply couldn't imagine not being there for my final summer as a college student, and was delighted when Timber Wolf asked me to return. This time I thought a lot more about Young Life camping as a career and discerning if that was where the Lord was calling me next.
timber wolf lake interns 2012

Much thought, prayer, and encouragement from friends led to me apply for the Year-Long internship at Crooked Creek Ranch in October 2012. A few months later I had an interview and then a few months more I was packing to move to the mountains. The day I left tears filled my eyes as I thought of all the Lord has brought me through to be at this point... all the laughter, tears, good times, hard times, fears, and hopes. It was an absolute dream of mine to work at a Young Life camp for a year and the Lord has brought that to be.

Never ever give up on your dreams. Some day you just might be headed west with all your belongings in the back of your car. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013


If I'm being honest, I'm not that comfortable here at Crooked Creek. Yes, I am surrounded by amazing people. Yes, I find joy in simple things. Yes, I am so happy I live in this place. But I don't feel a lot of comfort.

Up until my time here I was very comfortable in life. I lived in a place I grew to know and love. I was surrounded by friends who became family, knowing me inside and out, yet still loving me. I was doing what I did for the past 15 plus years of my life. And though life got really hard at times, I still felt a sense of comfort. 

Coming to Crooked Creek has brought about a different story, however. The first few weeks I really felt out of my shell. I rarely knew my surroundings, I just met my fellow interns, and had never worked at this camp before. There was no comfort, but I had hope it would come with time. Well... time has come and I still don't feel comfort. About a week ago I became really frustrated with the whole situation, and I started searching for a little glimpse as to where that comfort might have gone. 

And this is what I realized. I had comfort in Kenosha because of all those things... 

 The people that surrounded me brought me comfort. They knew exactly what to say. They knew what I struggle with. They knew how to encourage me. They knew when I just needed to get ice cream and do some retail therapy at Target. They knew when I needed to be called out. They knew about the past. They knew about my fears, hopes, dreams. They just knew.
   And the places brought me comfort. Carthage became a security. Kenosha was familiar. Common Grounds was a place of solitude. Lake Michigan reminded me of the Lord's beauty and sovereignty. My room was a place of rest. Wisconsin was home.
   And school was a comfort. I could do that well. I knew how to study. I knew how to write a paper. I knew how to teach a lesson. I knew how to be a college student. 

All those people, places and things brought me comfort. And then suddenly they were ripped from me. I thought I was prepared for that but I was not. My comfort is lost because these people, places and things have been removed.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.                                                          {2 corinthians 1:3-4}

I read this a few days ago in the midst of my frustration, and felt both conviction and relief. My comfort should not come simply from the people, places, and things that surround me. My comfort should come from the God of all comfort. God may use people to comfort us, but he is the ultimate source. When that is so, comfort is not lost when people are at a distance because God comforts his children in their troubles.

And so I am starting to search for comfort not in the people, places and things here, but in my God. The God of all comfort. Because one day I will leave these people, places and things as well, and I want to be certain my comfort will follow. 
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.      {psalm 119:76}

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I've been finding a lot of joy in the little things these days. Life is good that way. When we stop for a second and take in the small gifts we've been given. Its in those moments that I believe I can do this... that even though life gets tough, the Lord provides and protects.

Climbing to the top of the mountain is exhausting but so worth it. The view is incredible. There's a freedom at the top of the mountain... something that says you can accomplish all things. There's a vast unknown... something that reminds you there is still so much to be discovered. And there's a refreshing stillness... something that invites heartfelt conversation. All these things bring joy.

Worship is a beautiful thing. Proclaiming what the Lord has done in our lives and praising Him for it brings joy in itself. But that joy increases exponentially when your friends are the ones leading worship.

Sunday morning we awoke to mr. bull moose and his family roaming by the creek in front of our house. Naturally we jumped in the car and drove to see him up close... or at least as close as you want to get to a bull moose. Sierra squealed with giddiness. Mark yelled at him and he looked at us. We laughed. We live with moose. What a joy!

I love the Packers. I am not afraid to hide it. In fact, I'm very proud of it. I love my team and I love watching them. Thanks to The Library in Winter Park, a few friends and I were able to watch the game on the big screen. I can't even describe to you the joy this brought me (maybe you can see it in my face).

Yesterday was September 23rd and we woke up to snow on the mountains. Now under normal circumstances I would throw a small fit about the premature winter weather, but instead I simply sat in front of the window taking in God's beautiful creation. There was joy to be found in September's snow.

Basketball is definitely not my sport. Really, any sport is not my sport. But tonight the family played basketball. And it was loud and crazy and so much fun.

There's also joy to be found in...

...pumpkin scones and a cup of coffee on a cool morning. This is fall, folks.

...listening to a mix cd made by an old friend with new friends. There's something about worlds colliding... something about sharing with new friends just how your old ones have shaped you... and that brings joy.

...laughing so hard it hurts and tears are pouring down your face. Dinner time with family.

...seeing a herd of buffalo on the side of the road and a friend yelling "I've never seen buffalo!" Priceless.

...full moon rising over the mountain tops.

...hearing from the ones you love back home. Hearing their voices, hearing their laughter, knowing the Lord provides joy for them too.

There is joy to be found wherever you are. Joy isn't only in the large moments of life, but the ones that could easily slip by if our eyes aren't open to them. Stop for a moment and find joy in the little things this week. You were made for it. You were made to rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.          {philippians 4:4}