I’ve put in a lot of steps, walking in the Netherlands and Italy. Places I never thought my feet would go!


Sometimes I feel like I should pinch myself: is this real?


I have seen much darkness, and great light. At times it is physically sickening for me to think of what my fellow humans are experiencing. Some things you can’t un-see, and I don’t want to. My prayer is, “Jesus, don’t let this pass too quickly from my mind. Just give me grace in the process.”


“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” -John 3:19 NIV
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” -Romans 12:21 NIV



I’m spending this 4th of July thankful for my country, and preparing to leave it for a few weeks. ūüôā

As I get ready to go to Italy some things seem really vital to me, and others don’t. I spent way too much time searching for my teal duct tape. And too little time on other, more important things.¬†I have had plentiful amounts of rest, though. Soaked up all the¬†quiet times when I was out at camp last month knowing my soul would need it in July.¬†20160604_201448¬†I’m so glad two of my best friends are going with me. We¬†toss around the phrase “adventure of a lifetime” to refer to us going on this trip, and it’s honestly true. I can’t think too much about the way God arranged for us three to be doing this together because it is too great and mysterious for me to comprehend and I get all teared up.

Speaking of tearing up- yes, my emotions and empathy are running high. Earlier this week I said goodbye to one of my favorite clients ever, she’s moving far away.¬†After 4 years of serving her and being friends, it crushed my heart to see her go. So, there’s that, as well as the usual life things that come up, and the courage it takes to step out in faith on a trip like this. Not to mention thinking of the refugees I will meet, the stories I will hear and all that I will experience. It’s a lot, and I don’t know what to expect.20160605_200512 This doesn’t feel like something that just plunked into my life. It is something that I’ve been growing toward for years.¬†I have this sense that it’s all on the table. All the tiny decisions made years ago are playing their¬†part even now.

Expansive Miracle

small town

Two weeks ago I was back in my old town, where I lived between the ages of 8 and 15. I had some time to kill so I drove around my old stomping grounds. “Biking grounds” might¬†be more accurate! I laughed really hard when I saw the hill we used to race¬†down. Really it is barely an incline. Being on those streets amazed me, I remembered all our neighbors. The people I would dog-sit for and the houses where I would go to babysit. Where I would play with my brothers and friends. The empty lot. The park. The pool.

I thought I would always be a small town person.

20160609_141310Two days ago I was caregiving and the lady I work for needed to go into the bank. I pushed her wheelchair through the main doors. The sister of one of my very good friends was smiling and holding the door for us. She is one of the head people at this bank. We chatted and she helped my client with her banking business, all in a friendly, personal way.

I do live in a city now but I love it best when it acts like a small town.

Yesterday I met up with¬†a lady from¬†my church. Her daughter is spending the summer in Italy, where we have a church plant. We are sending teams of people all summer to serve refugees. This lady wanted to get¬†a few things to her daughter, and I was the go-between. I¬†brought them to the airport this morning when I went to send off and pray for some of my friends who left today. “I can’t believe I can hand this to you in a Hy-Vee parking lot, and it will be in my daughter’s hands in Italy in a few days,” she said.

In a few weeks, I’ll be back at the airport, this time with my passport, ready to leave for Italy myself! I don’t know what to expect. But I¬†want to see with my own eyes. So I don’t feel like the refugee crisis is something happening far away, in other towns and cities, that doesn’t matter to me. I can’t bring it closer but I can go there.¬†I can’t turn the whole world into a small town but I still might try. ūüôā

a baby shower in the spring

In the lonely stretch of February, my mind knew that the sun would eventually shine again and new leaves would grow. We’d hang up our coats and turn off the heat. We’d have parties on beautiful days like this one. I knew it but I’m not sure I 100% believed it would happen. Thank goodness, seasons change! It’s Spring, and what better time to gather with precious friends and celebrate a beautiful mom-to-be! ¬†¬†20160423_142926
The food was top notch. We didn’t even set out with great food ambitions. The menu¬†just developed over time into mini BLT’s… asian meatballs…¬†chocolate covered strawberries, fruit salad and veggie tray and popcorn and cake… so good. (Thanks to Sarah and Kathy for pulling the weight and completing¬†the “one job” I had when I abandoned it to socialize.)¬†20160423_14134020160423_150456
This was a “friends” shower. We wanted to keep it simple and relaxed so we could all just enjoy being together! We did a silly mad lib, of course, and one other game but scrapped our other plans. It’s pretty unnecessary to do an icebreaker when you can’t get a word in edgewise. We didn’t have a theme, just the colors blue and green.¬†20160423_160705
Oh this girl! I can’t handle the cuteness. We are buddies. Here we are sporting the pipe cleaner bows Anna made us. (Was it only yesterday we were having a baby shower for her momma???)20160423_16014420160423_142952
The spread. I was loving those flowers, too.20160423_090624
This is how I roll.20160423_151037
Val is giving me a bit of a “teacher at the end of the school year” face here, I think. ūüôā20160423_162219
Reaction to Anna’s crocodile! ūüôā¬†20160423_161734
We had fun! These are special times with goofy, amazing friends. God is good. 20160423_141332

Monday gifts


Thankful for…¬†

Sunday afternoons.
crafts to make and sell to raise money to help refugees.
making pancakes (and matching.. it was only kinda on purpose) with Val.
cards with family.
getting to see a really cool old violin belonging to my client’s family. (I never know what a day of caregiving may bring!)
new books to read.
new growth, I see it. img_20160408_125953.jpgimg_20160406_090826.jpg

Monday gifts


that there are no taxes on friendship. Because I’d quickly¬†end up¬†bankrupt and in federal prison. As far as friendships go I’m in the absolute top tax bracket, the 1%. I do not deserve it!


for delicious flavor and lots of it.
for Saturdays and Sundays when the world feels a little slower and simpler. img_20160331_153016.jpg

I’m thankful for new things.
I’m thankful for so much to do! In a good way.
I’m thankful for my wonderful siblings.
I am thankful that I have a good mystery to read.
I’m thankful for game nights and humility (I didn’t win!!).

I’m thankful for the times when I remember that this life, these ordinary days are precious.



“What God does in the tiny corners of our day-to-day lives is stunning and gorgeous and headline-making, but we have a bad habit of saving the headlines for the grotesque and scary.” -Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines


Today I’m thankful for the best everyday headlines in my own life.



more from Jamaica


My traveling necessities: pillow pet pig, nook, kleenex. 20160202_101015

Watching¬†this school start its day was a highlight all week. As¬†students filter in, different classrooms are singing or clapping in rhythms or doing devotions. Small groups of kids would be sweeping or washing out trash cans together. Even for those who may struggle first thing in the morning, it makes you smile and think, “Oh yeah, this will be a good day!”¬†20160203_075902

Every morning I’d watch the ocean for a bit, keeping an eye out for Billy’s van.¬†20160203_100416

Sweet girls!! I miss them. That was the best, having tons of small group time every day. We’d talk and study the verses together or ask questions. Just getting to know each other!20160204_102629

My love for yellow continues! Actually in the same way we say “red, white and blue” in America, the colors of the Jamaican flag are “black, green and gold.” So yellow, gold, whatever, I like it. 20160204_111405

Supreme is such a fantastic school, I always look forward to being there. This year they had a majority of boys on their teams, with STRONG PERSONALITIES and show-stealing goofiness. Which was such a blast (I’ll take high energy over bored/not caring any day) but also lead us to bring the girls outside for some confidence-building separate practice time.20160205_085054

With my new friend Pearline at the registration table on the morning of the tournament!20160205_103005

This old organ was outside the door of my quiz site. So cool! 20160205_152837

The church who graciously hosted us this year was Hillview Baptist. Perfect name although “hill” is almost not a strong enough word!¬†How great it was to simply have one building to work with. In the past we’ve rented three churches right in downtown Montego Bay. In¬†2014, I had the kindest police officer in Jamaica assist me as scorekeeper, and he raised some concerns about security and safety- with school children crossing busy streets, lots of entrances and exits, etc. We all agreed about that, plus it was crazy expensive, and very tough logistically to run a tournament in that setting. We never could find a better option until now. This church, and the pastor who bent over backward to help us, was a¬†blessing from God!¬†20160205_145133

Championship quiz! John Rollins Success (my original favorite school) came in first, Howard Cooke took second, and Chetwood took third! I get caught up in the competition, it is the most fun ever. My small team had practiced with the kids at Chetwood all week and it was SO exciting to see them come so far! Wow! We got to present their medals. So cool. What an awesome group of students. 20160205_152749

I love a happy aftermath! We were all celebrating. In fact in my mind I could just hear the “end of the movie” music start up! After many struggles and defeats over the past two years, the goodness of this¬†week was not lost on me. My brain is full of ideas and my heart is full of hope for next time!

For more about my adventures in Jamaica:

Jamaican Bread & Jam for Frances
Jamaica Video
Sixth Grade
It’s the same all over the world