"As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him..."
~Psalm 103:15-17a

A Very Long Story

Saturday morning, I woke up to my alarm at 3:30am. By 4:00 I was out the door and on my way to Grand Rapids, MI for Civilian First Responders' Training, where I hoped to learn more about human trafficking and how to respond to it here in the U.S. The training was excellent, and I learned a lot about recognizing the signs of trafficking and how normal, everyday people can intervene. That, however, is not the topic of this particular blog post (though I'm sure you'll be hearing more about it soon). The story I want to tell begins after I started my journey home.

I left the church where the training was held at about 4:00pm. My plan was to get well on my way before stopping for dinner. I got on the highway and headed out. About fifteen minutes down the road, I heard a loud bang. It sounded like a large rock had hit my car, and then it started sounding like something was dragging on the ground. It did not sound good, so I decided to pull over to take a look. However, this was in a construction zone, so there was only one lane open and no shoulder to speak of, and the next exit went to a street with no shoulder at all and just lots of houses. After a couple of blocks, I found a church driveway to pull into. All this time, it seemed like the car was getting harder and harder to drive – not a good thing when you know nothing about cars and are four hours away from home.

Well, once I got into the church driveway, I hopped out to take a look. Yep, there was a major problem: multiple holes in one of the rear wheels. Great. So much for getting home early. After calling home and calling the roadside assistance service my insurance provides (so thankful I got that plan!), I was able to get a guy out there to change out my tire for me. (Hey, no laughing at me! I didn't think it would be wise to figure out how to change a tire on my new car four hours from home in dress clothes and in the rain. Plus, why have roadside assistance if you never use it, right? Right.)

Dad helped me find a tire place, so after getting two new tires (and spending $225 I wasn't expecting to have to spend), I headed out again. Strangely enough, the tire place was near the training location, so I was going the exact same way I was before. Yep, there's the construction zone again. Oh, great. Stopped traffic ahead.

About the time I stopped, I realized that while the car behind me stopped just fine, the two cars behind him weren't stopping fast enough. Of course, I'm a bit paranoid, and have thought before that cars would crash into me, so I wasn't too panicked (it's never happened before, why should it now?). But I turned my steering wheel so I wouldn't crash into the car in front of me...just in case.

Wow, they really are coming fast. *Crash* Oh, I guess they stopped...with a bit of help from me and the guy behind me. To be honest, at about that point, I just started cry-laughing. It was so ridiculous, and I was so tired (I'd been up for over 12 hours at that point) that I just couldn't help myself. Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together after a few minutes (thanks in part to a phone call to Mom...who by now was wishing she'd taken my car away and tied me up at home before ever letting me drive alone to Michigan).

Anyway, to make a long story short (yes, it's too late, I know, but the title of the post warned you!), I was perfectly fine. My car was perfectly fine besides a few scuff marks (at least, it's fine as far as I know...). The other people's cars didn't fare so well, but nobody seemed too seriously injured. After waiting around to make sure the police had all the information they needed for the accident report, I was able to head out. Again.

You may not believe this, but I actually made it home without further incident (albeit three hours later than planned)! This was probably due to my mom and her friends all praying hard! Which leads me to the last thing I want to say before I wrap up this extremely long post. There are just so many ways that I can see God's hand protecting me in all of this. 1) I didn't cause an accident when my tire blew. In fact, the car didn't swerve at all (which is why I didn't know what had happened). 2) A very fast response from the roadside assistance guy. And he even asked how far I would be traveling and gave a suggestion of where to go for new tires. 3) A very close tire place...and one that was easy to find! 4) The apples I found on my way to the tire place. Mmmm! Michigan apples! 5) I was not the one who caused the accident. 6) I have insurance! 7) No one was seriously injured in the accident. 8) My car was hardly even damaged in the accident. 9) Friendly people from the other cars in the accident to talk to while we waited. 10) Safety the rest of the way home. (Though I have to admit I was a lot more concerned when people tailed me!) And finally, I'm thankful for the opportunity God gave me to learn to trust Him more...even when things don't go the way I plan.

Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Landlord

A lot of attention is given these days to having healthy relationships.  I haven't really heard anyone address the relationship between landlord and tenant, though.  And since I recently started a job at a property management company (basically doing the landlord's job), I thought I could give some tips on this special relationship.

#1: Pay your rent.  Duh.  But really, you don't want the accounting department to know you by name...trust me, that's not the kind of relationship you want.

#2: Read your lease.  While this may seem obvious, apparently most people will sign their lease without taking the trouble to understand what they are agreeing to.  This makes for some very difficult moments in the landlord/tenant relationship.  To avoid any frustration, simply read through your lease and realize that it's a contract...so you should keep your end of the bargain.

#3: Remember: You're not moving into a luxury hotel room.  Apparently, a lot of people expect to be moving into a luxury hotel room or a brand new house.  Well, I've got news for you, folks: this is a college town.  You are moving into an apartment that dozens of college students have lived in before you.  So it might not be perfect.  That's life.  Deal with it.  (And don't complain to your landlord about it - this puts unnecessary tension on the relationship.)

#4: Don't call on Monday.  It seems that most people use the weekend to think up problems and questions for their landlord.  The phone is ringing off the hook and there are lines of people waiting to be helped.  So if no one answers the phone on the first ring, don't get mad - just realize that there is probably a legitimate reason (and no, we don't just ignore phone calls from people we don't like...however sorely we are tempted).

Tune in later for more tips on building a healthy relationship with your landlord!

Wedding Cupcakes

This past weekend was the wedding of some dear friends.  They asked me to make 300 cupcakes for their wedding, and, in a moment of insanity, I agreed.  So, last week I did a practice run (one batch of cupcakes), and settled on the design.  A couple of friends met at the church kitchen to help out.  Twelve hours, fourteen boxes of cake mix and two pounds of fondant later, we were done.  Here is the process in pictures:

Baby Blanket

Here are some pictures of the blanket I made for my nephew, Reed.  I got the idea from Nikki at Nikki, In Stitches and I really like the way it turned out.  The top is knit all in one piece, in a way that makes it look woven.  Then I 'quilted' it onto the soft brown backing and added a silky binding to it.  It took quite a while for me to make, but it wasn't difficult.

Looks like Reed likes it. :)

A Paradox

Content with being single. . .yet longing for a family of my own
Excited about the goals I have for my future and the path that my life is going down. . .yet yearning for someone to share it with.
Thrilled to watch my friends get engaged and married. . .yet aching for my own time to come.
Joyfully celebrating with new mothers. . .yet desiring to have little ones of my own.
So thankful for opportunities to teach and interact with young children. . .yet desiring to have children of my own to teach.

I truly am content with where I am in life.  I am so grateful for the time I have to serve the Lord.  I am eager to continue working to my goals.  Thankfully, most of my days are on this side of the spectrum.  For the most part, I am content and even joyful about being single.

Yet at times there comes this intense longing to be a wife and a mother.  I want to have someone by my side.  I want to have little children to care for and love on.

It's a paradox that I can't explain.

My Busy Life

So, what have I been up to recently?  Just a few things...
  • Working full time at Purdue as an Administrative Assistant (a temporary job)
  • Planning, organizing and more planning as the VBS Director (a VBS where we are creating our own curriculum, no less!)
  • Teaching a class of 8-12 energetic two year olds each Sunday
  • Studying God's Word and enjoying fellowship with a small group each Monday evening
  • Babysitting two adorable children on Tuesday nights
  • Leading a small group of 3-5 year olds in Awana Wednesday evenings
  • Preparing a talk on human trafficking for a class at church
  • Knitting a blanket for a special baby boy arriving sometime in late May
  • Thinking about the 300 cupcakes I'll be making come July for a wedding of some dear friends
I am so thankful to God for the opportunities He's given me to serve!  But I have decided that while it is nice to be busy, I miss the times I had to sit and think or to spend time reading books that made me think and the long times I was able to spend alone with God.  It's not that I've completely cut these out of my schedule, but it's much harder to spend time reading, thinking and praying when it means getting up an hour earlier.  I like my sleep too much.  Then again, the problem really starts the night before, when I'm too lazy to go to bed.  (I'm not really sure how that works, but...)  Am I committed enough to studying God's Word and to prayer to discipline myself to go to bed on time so I can get up on time?  If I am not doing this, it really is showing that I don't think it is vital - that I think I can live without it.  I am being reminded again that this is not true.  I need to be alone with God - to talk to Him and to listen to Him.  My time in the Word is not some optional only-if-you-have-time activity, but it is essential to my busy life.


by Amy Carmichael

"If I am perturbed by the reproach and misunderstanding that may follow action taken for the good of souls for whom I must give account; if I cannot commit the matter and go on in peace and in silence, remembering Gethsemane and the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

"If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, 'You do not understand,' or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

"If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.*
*For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.
"If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even of their little weaknesses; if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way; if I make the sweet running of household wheels more difficult to accomplish, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

"If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
"If I want to be known as the doer of something that has proved the right thing, or as the one who suggested that it should be done, then I know nothing of Calvary love. 

"That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God."

Me Time?

"Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.  When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick." ~ Matthew 14:13-14
John, Jesus' cousin and friend, had been put in prison for speaking the truth to King Herod.  Herod's wife, Herodias, hated him, so when Herod offered their daughter anything she wanted, Herodias realized she had her chance to get rid of John.  She prompted her daughter to ask for John's head on a platter.  So John, whose only crime was telling the truth and proclaiming God's Word, was brutally killed - his head carried around on a plate for all to see.  What must Jesus have felt on hearing this news!  We know that when Jesus went to Lazarus' tomb, He wept, even knowing that Lazarus would be raised from the dead.  How His heart must have ached at the news of John's death.  He needed to have some time alone, so He "withdrew...to a secluded place by Himself."

However, the people heard of this.  They didn't take into account His need for some time alone.  They wanted to see Him.  They wanted His help.  They wanted to talk to Him.  So they followed Him, and coming ashore, Jesus saw them - a large crowd of people all wanting to talk to Him.  All asking for His help.  All calling out to Him.

If I were in His place, what would I be feeling and thinking?  "Ugh.  Don't these people know that I need to be alone?  Don't they realize that I can't deal with them right now?  Don't they know that I'm mourning the death of John?  Why can't they wait a couple days?  Surely it wouldn't hurt them to wait even just a few hours!  Who do they think I am?  Do they think I am here just to cater to all their needs?  When do I get time for myself?  Do they just think I'm some kind of servant - only here to help them?"

But what did Jesus do?  What did He feel?  He "felt compassion for them and healed their sick."  He didn't grumble and complain.  He didn't think about His need to be alone.  He didn't throw up His hands in despair and leave.  He felt compassion and love for them.  He showed them kindness and care.  He took time to talk to them, to heal those who were sick, to show love to them.

What an example to us!  And what a challenge.  If I am a follower of Jesus, that is how I must respond to people who interrupt my plans or my "me time."  Instead of responding in frustration or anger, I should respond in compassion and love.  I must unselfishly consider their interests as higher than my own.  This is the kind of love that Christ had for me.  Can I do any less than my Lord and Master?

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." ~ Philippians 2:3-7