Stove Project Day

Yesterday was our Sabbath. We visited Mayan ruins in the morning, heard Katie and Aarons’s testimony over lunch, and went on a long adventurous hike through the mountain in the evening. We were well rested for the day ahead.

Today was Stove Project Day. We (11 people total) piled into a pickup truck and headed thousands of feet up into the mountains to deliver and install a stove for two very poor widows. We carried the cinder blocks, concrete stove pieces, and stove accesories down a steep incline to the widows’ home.

Upon arrival, one of the oldest widows was struggling immensely. She spent the majority of the day lying on the floor inside her home with short interruptions to use the latrine. Fortunately, we had Micaela, a nurse who works at the hospital, with us who attended to her throughout the day while the rest of the group installed the stove. During our time there, it became clear that this struggling woman would need further medical attention beyond what we could provide from the supplies we initially brought. Aaron, our leader for the day, called some of the hospital staff suggesting they make the trip up the mountain to treat this woman. For a few hours we lingered around the home waiting for support staff from the hospital to arrive. When they finally arrived, the woman was started on an IV to hopefully support her body in severe hydration.

It was an exhausting day for everyone, physically and emotionally. The hike down to the widows’ home, requiring several trips and carrying very heavy supplies, took a toll on us. Seeing an old Guatemalan widow struggling and confined to her home in the mountains was humbling. There was hope in the care provided by the hospital staff, but the prognosis for the woman isn’t good. We don’t think she will make it many more days.

We left Canilla at 9:00am and didn’t return until 7:00pm. It was the whole day. On the ride down the mountain and in chatter around the dinner table I heard, “That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done” and “This will be a day to remember.”

I pray God will use these experiences to broaden the perspective of our group and encourage us all to grow in compassion.IMG-1689IMG-1706IMG-1708IMG-1724IMG-1695

Digging In



Another clinic day seeing different patients and learning the ins and outs of life here in Guatemala.  We spent the morning in clinic and then the afternoon with the missionary community here playing with the kids and participating in community worship.  Community is a word that defines life here and as we debriefed from the day, we reflected on how important this community is to one another. When we take away the distractions of  our normal lives, we are able to focus more on what God is saying to us and where He leads. Father break our hearts for what breaks yours!

We have been transplanted into this community here and they welcome us and answer our questions that we have graciously.  This world here and the world in which we exist in the states is so much different.  And so we spend much time reflecting on this in comparison to what we have always known.  Today we spent much time with the kids that live here and call this place home and it was a stark reminder of what their lives are like as kids that are so different from what our lives were like at this age.  They embody maturity and understanding greater than was expected of us for sure!

Sunday is our Sabbath here and we will be spending it reflecting on the first part of the week and drawing nearer to what God has for us individually here.

Off to Guatemala!

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This group of students is off to Guatemala Juanuary 9-19 to seach their hearts and the call the they have felt from God toward a career in medicine.  They will spend ten days seving alongside medical personal at Hospital Adonai in Canilla.  Years ago God placed a conviction upon my heart to help mobilize students toward missions and challenge them toward living a life on mission.  It is my hope during this time that the students are able to hear clearly from God, grow in their faith and understand more the true joy of a life completely surrendered to His will.  Would you be in prayer for Annie, Rue, Einar, Andrew, Jenny, Madeline, Chad and myself as we travel.  I know that in such an experience, God has much planned and it is my hope that we do not get in the way of that!

Pondering and Treasuring



As I sat in a candlelight Christmas Eve service this year and pondered, my mind continued to rest on the fact that Mary’s heart pondered as well.  My heart pondered and pounded during this season.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

She was pondering and treasuring.  Was my heart treasuring as well or just pondering?

I pondered on the manger scene and what Joseph and Mary were each thinking.  I pondered on what it would have been like to be the first to arrive to greet the baby Jesus.  I pondered the state of Mary’s heart as well as the state of my own heart.  Where was I this Christmas season?

We don’t always feel like we want to feel.  We want Christmas to look a certain way or be a certain way.  And I imagine for most people, there is at least one part of Christmas that doesn’t go how we want it to or feel like we want it to.  We want it to be less hectic or feel more joyful.  We want to have family gatherings to feel like family or for our families to not be divided or simply to have family to gather with.  We want peace, stillness, simplicity like we can imagine fell upon the first manger scene.  Yet often we find that our unmet expectations and the desires or our hearts are left as empty packages that aren’t even opened.  And instead of treasuring in our hearts, we find it hard to embrace the reality and our hearts ache.

During these festivities, do we take the time to ponder and treasure?  Do we embrace the things we have instead of all that we don’t have?

Perhaps, we have to choose to embrace what is before us.  As I sat and pondered what was on Mary’s heart as she treasured the baby that was just born, I imagine that Mary was exhausted, still wondering who this Christ child would become, and pondering what the years ahead would be like to raise this tiny gift that was entrusted to her.  I imagine she was exhausted from the journey and the labor process yet the adrenaline from the last nine months had also overtaken her as the reality of the Christ child was before her.  It wasn’t Mary’s choice to have this baby.  Yet it was her choice to embrace it, to treasure this child in her heart.

I imagine that this was not what Mary had expected for her life.  She had had dreams of a family one day I’m sure, but this was not the way she had wanted to start.  So much had changed in a small amount of time.  It’s like in life when we have an unexpected turn in the path – a loss of a job, a sudden death, a difficult situation or perhaps an unplanned child – and when the unexpected comes, we have to make a choice.  Sometimes we ponder.  Sometimes we just react.  We may find it hard to treasure in our hearts the new change that has happened and our new reality.  Perhaps that was you this Christmas as it seemed different from Christmas past.

As I sat and looked at the lights around me and heard the merry sounds of song, I pondered on the fact that it’s the season itself that brings joy even if our hearts don’t feel joy.  Sometimes joy has to be a choice when we find ourselves in a difficult season.  If we were honest, we could all come up with ways we wished the last ten days had gone differently.  More time, less fighting, someone that was missing to be there, reconciliation within families, finding a better deal, a morning of peace.  We all long for that Christmas morning that Mary had – to treasure in our hearts all that is around us and to sit and ponder with goodness.

God is with us, in the easy and in the difficult.  In the season of joy and the season of pain.  In the celebrations and the darkness.  I think that night as Mary sat there with babe in her arms, “God with us”, took on a whole new meaning.  The Christmas season is not over – it’s really just beginning as He has now arrived.  He is with us in flesh.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  Let’s ponder and treasure a little while longer.


Empowering Students

The best part of my job is seeing students be empowered and run with it.  This year has me smiling as I watch students lead on campus and in the community.  They are the next generation.


So what might you do with that?  Challenge Accepted.  As the topic of Retreat was preached in September, Adam considered what he was doing in the rhythm of his day and week and realized that in order to put God first, he needed to end his day each day with worship and a refocusing in order to practice retreat. So he began a spontaneous worship time each day at 11PM in the chapel for students at the end of the night to worship and keep the focus on what really matters.  The numbers change, but the focus remains the same – we are to worship our King and keep Him our priority.

And it didn’t stop there.  His next vision was a monthly retreat of 24 hour worship that invited the whole student body.  And so he began the conversations, put together the team, recruited Amanda to help lead, and practiced with students to coordinate a 24 hour worship effort for students in November.  As I walked into the chapel at 2 AM expecting to see empty pews and hear the normal deafening silence, I was in shock to count 14 students standing in worship, sitting in prayer, arms raised, hands extended soaking in the presence of the Lord.  Every inch of the chapel with filled with His presences.  Throughout the day, the chapel served as a revolving door as students came and went as they practiced His presence and lifted their voices in worship.

Adam embodies what we want our students to do as they plug into the local church.  adamHe engages each Sunday in worship, serves as a leader in Element 56, spent his summer with Envision in the Middle East and serves the student body through many capacities. Would you be in prayer with me for Adam and other students as they catch the vision and live it out with fellow students? Would you join them some night at 11PM to worship?

Pure Joy


I smiled the whole time I did dishes today.  And I had a lot of dishes after two back to back parties with students.

It’s been a year since I’ve washed dishes without pain.  A year since bending over wasn’t a chore.  And so as I stacked and put away, I was rejoicing and remembering my gratitude.  I never want to forget it, yet I know that I will.  That’s how we are.  Once we are through a trial, it seems to fade and we forget that we were ever stuck.  And so I want to testify any moment that I get now to God’s mercy lest I forget the latest trial.

The truth is that I don’t think I realized that I was in pain constantly until I wasn’t in pain.  I find myself in shock when I can run up the stairs, carry in the groceries or sit through a meeting and not have to lay back down again to relieve the pain.  Two weeks ago it was a different story.  My entire life was ruled by my pain and I no longer could do most of what I enjoyed doing in life.  I had dark circles under my eyes and my energy level was low at best because I hadn’t slept in a year.  My personality had whithered away and I struggled daily to just function in life.

I have been waiting for a healing for awhile now and it makes it even sweeter.  I remember the disappointment I had in January when I thought that my trial was over after a few days of only mild pain, only to find myself immobile for a week.

Although I’m still in shock and still have to remind myself every morning before I roll out of bed that it won’t hurt anymore, I’m claiming the victory and sealing it as truth.  I have prayed in faith, I have continued to pray and not give up hope, I have believed that it would not last forever and here I stand.

There have been many verses of praise and gratefulness and joy that have come to mind over the last week as I have returned to a normal life – yet I have nothing profound to say.  Only that God allowed me to be healed and I am grateful for the trial…. To be over!  To Him be the glory in this one because it wasn’t through what I was doing that healed me!

Introducing Andrew


Exciting news!  Andrew Schumacher will be joining us this fall to work with students through the CCO Fellows program. This program is designed for graduates who are considering ministry as a career to work alongside an existing CCO partnership and campus staff.  My hope is to be able to expand our reach by bringing more students into the fold as Andrew walks with students in exploration of their own faith.  His experience at Calvin College led him to pursue this fellowship year.  “I experienced incredible growth and change in my own life while I was in college,” says Andrew. “I want to encourage and come alongside students as they ask hard questions about their faith and their future. I’ve had several mentors guide me through my questions and hardship, and I desire to be that for someone else.”

As I have begun to work with Andrew, I am excited for what this year holds as I know that ministry will only multiply.

Transformative Opportunities

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Opportunities that transform.  If I could form these each week for students I would.  Most opportunities for transformation come with getting students out of their daily routine; requiring them to switch from an instantaneous world of being plugged in and to plug in to something else…. Where the Spirit is at work in their lives.  Over the year I count it a real blessing to be able to walk beside these students through these opportunities that transformed their lives.  Hopefully for an eternity and not just the time that they were there.  Some of these opportunities are for a day, a weekend, a week or a semester.  As I reflect on the year, I am grateful for all of them!

Transformation is an end goal of all ministry and one context allows for exponential growth in a short period of time – taking someone out of their comfort zone to experience culture and God’s love for His people on a deeper level.  Andrew DiDonato, head football coach at GCC, had this vision for his team to reach beyond campus and we pursued a trip to the Envision Atlanta site in Clarkston, Georgia.  Our experience extended past the physical labor and relational ministry among the refugee populations in that area.  We were challenged to see, experience and respond to people who were different from us and hungry for the truth of the gospel.  As we shared the love of Jesus with 40 different people groups, eyes and hearts grew to understand more Christ’s vision for His church.  The prayer is that short term trips would develop into a long-term mentality of living a life led by the Spirit and equip the church to reach our neighbors both near and far.  As I listened to one student process his experience with me of how this week challenged his faith on a deeper level, I am drawn to the truth that God wants to draw us each into this relationship with Him.


Taking students back to my Guatemalan home always is a prime are for transformation.  They see life through different eyes and I can pour into them individually during this time.  Something I have had a passion for is networking with students here that want to pursue the opportunity for missions in the health field.  Since I have such a strong connection to a place that incorporates Jesus into all they do, I want them to also have this experience.  The cry is my heart is that they would see and hear clearly the call on each of their hearts and walk confidently into that.




Undoing my Will

elisabeth elliot

The question threw me off guard.

“I’m just going to ask.” He said. “So you don’t have a husband.  Why?”

I smiled.  I knew he had been wondering for some time.

It wasn’t the question; it was the tone in which my new friend asked that really made me smile.

It was as if he knew there was more to the story and he was curious.

The boldness of students sometimes catches me off guard, but I appreciated the question instead of assumptions.  The truth was that I had answered that same question three other times that week in one form or another and I wondered why it continued to come up.  Was it an obvious question?  Had I said something that made them curious?

I was looking forward to a plane ride where I could escape into my own mind and debrief on the week with myself and look at my schedule for the next week.  But as I  sunk into my seat, I realized that I had three hours beside Noah, a student that stuck out for his leadership and desire to chase after God, and I could either deflect the question or share my heart.

How did I answer that question?  Simple.


God’s will.

God’s sovereignty.

God’s plan for my life.


One of these.  All of the above.


It had been awhile since I’ve had to wrestle through this conversation with someone who was actually interested, who dug deeper into the whys and how, who was authentically curious and asking questions about his own future at the same time.  Someone who didn’t just take the surface level answer but wanted to know my story and what led me to this point.  And so we spent most of the flight talking about living in the center of God’s will as opposed to making your own path to achieve your own dreams.  And I’ve been tossing around thoughts in my mind ever since.

I whole heartily with my mind, body and soul believe in the power that God has in this world to make things happen.  And I completely believe that God will bring that man into my life that I am to marry in His timing and not mine.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed for God to bring that man into my life that day – through a flat tire, a conversation in line, a stranger in an airport, someone at a conference.  I’ve traveled enough, met enough people and been available more than anyone I know.  And so it’s not for lack of opportunity or desire that I don’t have a husband.  It’s God.

There have been many times in my life when I have put serving others and Kingdom focus aside and focused on myself – my needs, my wants, my desires.  I have succumbed to the pressures of the world.  And every time I have been left with a feeling of emptiness, frustration or worldliness.  I have felt frustrated that I am wasting my time.  I have sought after things that the world tells me that I should have or be.  And in those things I have found some small reward.  But ultimately it has made me realize that I could put all of my efforts and prayers and energy into finding myself a partner in life, but if that is not what God has for me, then it’s futile.  I will end up so far from the center of what God has for me that I will be less “happy” than when I started.  I’d be chasing the world’s standards and not God’s standards.  So what’s it to be?

This is the question I come back to often in my life as I make decisions.  God’s path or my path.  What’s it to be.

“So is it hard?”  The directness of the question was appreciated.  But my heart stopped because I didn’t want to cry as I answered that question.

Yes.  Actually hard doesn’t even describe how I feel sometimes.  As I continue to live in a small town where I am on the outside because of my marriage status, I do have to ask myself, “Is it worth the cost?”  Is being in the center of God’s will and allowing Him to dictate that part of my life enough?  It has been increasing difficult living in a small town as a single female.  Not because I can’t drive a car or can’t speak the language or don’t have an education.  Not because I can’t find a job to provide for me.  But because I am an outsider, even more than a single mom with kids.  I don’t have kids that can play with other kids.  I don’t have a husband that can carry on conversation with another male.  There are few other singles my age with my interests.  I don’t have anything to offer but myself.  And it seems as if that’s not enough at times.  I didn’t imagine that it would become this difficult.  The sting is real.  I’ve had friends tell me that it’s awkward when I come around because I am single.  Their husbands feel awkward.  They don’t have play dates for their kids so they have to still entertain their kids and it’s too much to juggle conversation and kids.  I have invited myself places to only be rejected because it made it difficult then to have to stretch their families. Yes.  People have told me these things.


And so your brain always evaluates.  Is the shame great enough to enter into a marriage with someone who doesn’t share that same passion with me to serve Jesus just so that I can be invited into the family functions and fun. Is that for me to decide or for God?  What happens when we begin to make those decisions as if we are God?  These are the thoughts and questions that I continually have to answer, to myself or students.

There have been people in my life that have led me to believe that it’s my fault that I’m not married and that I have chosen this life.  Is it my fault?  Is it a curse over me?  Why am I still single and most others my age are not?  Is it something that I wanted?  Most certainly not.  In high school I was nicknamed Mom and that is a title that I have often carried since then.  Most likely to marry first.  Most likely to have kids first.  Most likely to have the most kids.  So…. if I have the qualities for all of these things, then why do I not have these things?

God’s will and not my own.

We have to count the cost.

And so my conversation with Noah continued as I challenged him to not just find someone in life because everyone else was finding someone.  But to count the cost.  To know what it was that God really wanted in His life.  To find a partner that can join Him in his passion and pursuit of the gospel.  To be sure that she could walk beside him in the calling and gifting that God had given him.  As God has put a unique calling on my life to pour into and reach the next generation, that is the message that I want this generation to hear.  In the end it’s not really about the desire of my own heart to have a husband and a family.  It’s the desire to serve God with my whole heart and to accept His will above my own that we need to adopt.  This is not the message that the world is sending this generation.

Since I first began to mentor young people, I had a life moto that I would not ask them to do anything that I was not willing to do myself.  Don’t drink.  Don’t smoke.  Don’t have premarital sex.  Don’t gossip.  Don’t lie to your friends.  Do what you say you’re going to do.  And so, as I challenge today’s youth to not follow the pressures of the world for momentary satisfaction or to appear like everyone else, I have to take up that challenge myself.  I have a responsibility for my future.  I pray for my future husband.  I engage in life with others and I surrender my will to God’s will and trust in His power to bring something out of nothing.

I remain steadfast to the call on my life and pray for a partner to join me.  To join together as one and strengthen one another.  But until then, I know that I have also had some unique opportunities to walk with students through difficult seasons of their lives because I could devote myself to them in a different way than I could if I were married.  To live out this life as a blessing and not a curse.

So why don’t I have a husband?


To pray thy will be done, I must be willing, if the answer requires it, that my will be undone.  And in this matter, I have been undone.  Not my will but yours Lord, whatever that is.  Thank you Elisabeth Elliot for showing me the truth.