Wednesday, October 9

Two Years

Two years ago, I had a lot going on in my life.
Two years ago, there was a lot on my mind and on my heart.
Two years ago this month, I was at my lowest.
Two years ago, I was wildly unhealthy and unsafe.
Two years ago, I was falling apart
Two years ago, I was ready to stop defending myself.
Two years ago, I was done fighting,
And let me be the first to tell you...
A lot can change in two years.

If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be loving college life, I'd have laughed.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be sharing my testimony with my floor, I'd have shut you out.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd identify myself as a survivor, I'd have called you a liar.
Two years ago, I would have never believed that I'd ever end up in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Two years ago, I would have told you I'd never be vulnerable again.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd love the dining commons ice cream, I'd have cringed.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be stronger because of everything I had overcome, I would have cried.
I'd have told you that my past made me weak,
I'd never have told you that my past would make me strong.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be a mentor, I'd have walked away.
I would have never agreed to let another broken soul see my vulnerability.
I would have never let that girl into my heart.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be lowering doses of my medication, I wouldn't written you off.
If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be a Social Work major, I would have been resentful.
If you would have told me two years ago that I would be around to reflect back on my journey...
...I wouldn't have believed you.

It's been two very eventful, exhausting, thrilling, mortifying, growing, degrading, empowering years,
but I'm learning now how to look back with fondness
to look back in health and see
the fingerprints and footholds my Maker has laid out
to get me to where I am today.

The four words
"Forest View Psychiatric Facility"
felt like a death sentence two years ago.
Watching my mom cry and studying the confusion on my kid sister's face...
those moments are still with me
and they break my heart every time they come to mind.
I'm still incredibly greatful for the people that were there for me that day,
Kelly's phone call on my drive to the hospital
Momma M and Rachel dropping everything to help me pack
The look on Rae's face when she told me there was still hope
The nurses that brought me heated blankets in the ER while I was trying to hide a panic attack
...and yes,
even the person who walked out of my life that week because I was "too sick" for her to help
and all of the people who had to deal with my leaving so much work unfinished.

Happy memories
and painful memories
...but beautiful memories every one.
Because I'm learning,
even now,
how to talk about this time in my life
how to not shy away from those memories
of this time that felt so dark
because today
it allows me to point to the Light.
It helps me orient my own life,
knowing where I've come from.
It helps me prove to friends
that the pain and confusion and despair doesn't last.

If there is one thing outside of personal health and safety that I've left forest view with,
it's passion.
It's part of the reason I'm studying social work...
this man,

...this man.
Already this year I've sat down and wondered to myself
"Why in the world do I think I would make a good social worker?
I don't know what I want to do with my life.
What if I can't actually help people?"
It's in those moments,
I remember how much I hate this man.
The man who had the nerve to chuckle and walk out of the room when I asked if I could go home
The man who put me on a scale, looked me in the eye,
and had the audacity me that my couple of pounds of weight gain was a bad thing
because... "You don't look like an eating disorder patient."
The man that told me I had nothing to be depressed about
and who grilled me over and over about bad habits and a history I was trying to move past.
This man did not help in my recovery at that time,
but he helps now...
because I know exactly who I DON'T want to become.
I know what I don't want to do with my life
and I know some things to never tell another broken soul.

Resentful much?
Yes, guilty as charged.
But I take those emotions
and I take my past experiences
and I take all of my negativity and doubt...
and I burn it as fuel for the journey

The girl I was two years ago has grown and changed and learned and has started to blossom
and it's thanks to that girl and the hard decision she had to make
that I am who I am today.

Friday, October 4


College college college college college. I've officially been here doing classes and being a college kid for one month.

In an academic setting, I've never felt so excited to thrive. Roundabouts my junior year, I started to lose some of my passion for education and knowledge. I had a lot on my plate, and school was, for awhile, an overwhelming burden. I wanted to sleep all day and all night and all of the time in between. Senior year allowed me to start to fall in love with learning again. It was a beautiful thing.
So, on September 2, I packed up my important possessions and moved into Lowell Dorm, Gamma hall, room 214. I switched a class around, met quite a few amazing people, and fell in love with life here. I can not say enough times over how much I am loving the college experience. I've posted it before, I'll probably say it more than a few times again. I'm likely sounding like a broken record. Redundant and a little bit like an optimistic three year old   (
And, finally, I'm getting a solid balance going on between Jesus, school, a social life, and personal time...and in that order  [:          The liberal arts foundation has allowed for me to put Jesus back at the center of everything. Not only do we start classes with prayer, but it's truly integrated.
We read the bible to study good writing and report skills as a model for our own papers. We pray as a class for level-headedness and clearness of thought before giving formal speeches. We hold socratic circle discussions about textbook material. We laugh and cry and eat lunch together and laugh some more. It's a beautiful thing.
The girls on my floor are amazing. They're like family, and I wouldn't choose another floor on campus for anything. Each of them is like a sister to me...or an extention of myself. I see parts of myself in them; parts of who I've been, who I am, and who I'm becoming. With my girls, I'm starting to learn to let vulnerbility show, because it allows them to be there for me. I'm learning how to read their emotions and how to be there for them when they need me. It's a give and take, and it's wonderful.

There is no place I would rather be.

Saturday, September 21

Little Boy Heart Alive [andrew peterson]

Open the door and run outside
Your little boy heart alive
Into the morning light
Into the deep and wide

Dinosaur bones in the flowerbed
Rockets in the clouds
In a fight with a spider’s web
Tunnels in the ground

Winding to China
To the mist of the distant shore
Better be home by suppertime
Back through the planet core

Feel the beat of a distant thunder
It’s the sound of an ancient song
This is the Kingdom calling
Come now and tread the dawn

Come to the father
Come to the deeper well
Drink of the water
And come to live a tale to tell

Pages are turning now
This is abundant life
The joy in the journey
Is enough to make a grown man cry
With a little boy heart alive

Kings and castles in the neighborhood
Swords on the forest floor
Dragons in the magic wood
Better saddle your battle horse

Fighting Goliath
Better choose your weapons right
Five little stones and a faith on fire
In a little boy heart alive


Met a kid at the railroad track
He had a stick and a nylon sack
I ran to the house to pack
I wanted to follow

Take a ride on the mighty lion
Take a hold of the golden mane
This is the love of Jesus
So good but it is not tame


Ever the road goes on and on
Ever the road goes on and on and on

This song has for some reason become my theme lately. It gets stuck in my head. I hum it during my six plus hour shifts in the dining commons. I love Andrew Peterson's music; I love it even more after seeing him in concert for the third time this summer. His music makes me think, and sometimes I need that. So don't be surprised if blog posts are ever full of lyrics and quotes and music reviews and thoughts. Because his music is what i turn to 90% of the time when I need noise going on.
This song... mhmmm..

First of all, I love the Chronicles of Narnia references.
"This is the kingdom calling / come now and tread the dawn."
"Take a ride on the mighty lion / take a hold of the golden mane / this is the love of Jesus / so good but it is not tame."

My favorite part of this song changes often; sometimes it's daily, sometimes it will last for a few days, or only a few minutes. Today:: "better choose your weapons right / five little stones and a faith on fire".
And the nature of the childish heart
and the selfless desire to belong; to follow
and the huge scope of dreams
the sense of urgency
met with the sense of danger
and awe
and miracles.

So if you're like me, and sometimes read other people's blogs in order to avoid doing more important things or to fill up empty time, here's my advice: listen to some Andrew Peterson. Put it on while you go about your day. Hum it when you're frustrated. Mull it over in your heart. Get it stuck in your head... you'll be a better person for it.

Monday, September 2

SAU day one

As I begin this post, I'm 20 minutes out from my Zeeland home, an hour and a half away from my SAU home.
That's right, folks. It's moving day.
To say that I am anything less than terrified would be a lie. I've got my life packed in boxes, everything I get for the next six plus weeks in the back of the truck. I won't be home until the middle of October, so saying all of my goodbyes was a hard thing. Many of my friends are already moved in to dorms or situated with their new routines. This late move in has been bittersweet. It means that I got to see a lot of my friends off. I could learn from their mistakes and their facebook posts of things they'd forgotten. But I've also had to sit at home for two weeks and watch the rest of my friends get a jump start on their college/life plans.

The distance is perfect: depending on the driver and traffic, I'm between an hour and a half and two hours away. Far enough to have to fend for myself, close enough that I can come home or have visitors if need be.

Thankfully, thru this whole process, I have never doubted that SAU is where I'm supposed to be. The striving for community, the academics...everything about it has always felt like home. Psychology and Social Work double major will be work. But they overlap, so it can be done. And I feel like it really is what I'm supposed to be studying. This semester mainly gen eds, next semester we get psych 200 and philosophy and old testament survey...Things that I could not be more excited to dive in to.

So today, my roommate Olivia and I will move in to Gamma 214. We'll find a place to plug in my coffeemaker and hang curtains on our closet. We'll loft my bed and hang the mirror. We'll start to make Spring Arbor University our home.

Monday, July 22

my friend Fred

I would like to tell you about my friend, Fred.

I met Fred while I was downtown Boston this past week. I would guess that Fred is in his mid to late 40s, but I've never been a good judge of other people's age. His brown hair is turning gray pretty quick, and it goes without saying that he hadn't shaved in a good while. He wore glasses, the thin kind that you don't remember seeing unless you really think about it. When I met Fred, he wore a t-shirt that used to be bright red, but was starting to fade a little bit into orange. Fred has been living in Boston for two months. He really likes lemonade. He has a tattoo of roses and a sword on the inside of his left forearm. Fred puts up a tough front, but his high moral standards and compassionate spirit are close beneath the surface; he has immense respect for women and will always defend the underdog. Fred stopped an abusive boyfriend from killing his girlfriend; both individuals were total strangers to Fred. Though he doesn't show it, Fred really has a soft heart.

Fred is also homeless.
Fred isn't shy about his rough situation. He speaks openly of his gang involvement in Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (a world-renown gang). He brags about the guys he's knocked out with one punch. He talks about how much he doesn't like Boston cops, and how he's told them off; evading arrest by referencing his 'colleagues' and giving threats.

With my mentor an chaperone Charlie next to me, I talked to Fred for an hour and a half. Charlie and I gave him a sandwich and more than a few glasses of lemonade. We broke thru Fred's exterior. We even prayed for Fred. While Charlie prayed, I could see that Fred was moved. He was becoming a little more anxious, but at the same time curious about why two random strangers, very unlike each other and himself, would do this for him. After a few more minutes of letting Fred talk, Charlie suggested that I pray for Fred, too. I probably prayed for 10 minutes, but I have absolutely no idea what I said in that time other than "God, show to me, to all of us, that You are more than enough." After I said "amen" and raised my eyes from staring at the ground beneath my feet, Fred was reaching under his glasses to stop tears from falling. I had to do the same thing, and Charlie kept saying "That was beautiful."

Moments later, I said goodbye to Fred. I'm fully aware that chances are pretty slim that I'll ever get to see Fred again. He had had a lot of negative experiences with the church: pastors that were unavailable, congregations that excluded him, sermons that preached condemnation over grace...all very real and painful stories that could happen to anyone, but were amplified because of Fred's disheveled appearance and "homeless" label. Yet, Fred was receptive in a way that I only hope we can all learn from. Though he had every reason to walk away from the love we were trying to extend, Fred stayed. Fred let us pray for him, and he gave us a glimpse of what his life was like. 

Sunday, July 14

to travel {originally a journal entry}

There is something innately and undeniably beautiful about being away from home.
Don't get me wrong...I love my family. I'm a homebody. I love sleeping in my own bed and bubble baths in a familiar bathroom.
As I look out the van window at the world around me, there is a type of spiritual experience I've never felt outside of trips like this.

My bare feet up on the sunny dashboard.
Rich Mullins and Andrew Peterson playing from my ipod thru the grandma van speaker system.
Dressed in my traveling sunday best.
Hair and makeup done ever so minimally.
Surrounded by exposed rock and rolling hills covered in trees.
Underneath a bright blue sky with white, fluffy clouds sparsely littered wherever they feel like existing.
I feel blissfully alive.
Two decently mediocre cups of coffee in my system.
And it is nothing short of beautiful.

Yes, God is moving at home in Zeeland. But at home in zeeland I haven't spent nearly seventeen hours of the past 28 in a van with the same seven people (five of whom are cashed out at the moment).
At home I don't discuss the interaction of faith and modern psychology.
I don't have uninterrupted time to talk and think.
To discuss perfectionism while eating skittles.

I'm learning to be comfortable in this week's discomfort.


This is why I go on trips like this...
(besides the obvious reasons, of course)
it's a chance to refocus
and a reminder of what it is
to feel completely alive.

Monday, May 6

the words

The words are there. They tumble around in my head and spew out in random sequences when I find myself alone. They ache at my fingertips and pull in my heart strings. "Please, please let us out!' they cry. "Don't keep us forever caged inside your soul."
Its not that I don't want to. I'd love to open my mouth and have everything come out in nice sentences. A subject, a verb, an adjective or two would form the bones and useless prepositional phrases the meat.
It will be helpful they said.
It will be beautiful they said.
It will be exactly what you need.