Dear me….

Tomorrow I will be presenting for one Social Work class at Calvin College. I have been working on the content and my admiration for professors has grown significantly! My presentation is called:

Our Hands We Offer: 

On The Reformed Perspective, Social Justice, and Social Work

So, I am not going to give my content on this blog, but I do want to share a song with you that I will be using that carries a beautiful message. I recently heard Nichole Nordeman share it live, but today again I was struck by the words this powerful piece holds. Listen, reflect, worship, enjoy and GO!


21 years ago…

I just discovered I did not post this last night when I wrote it. Sorry, this birthday blog is one day late Andrew.

If you know me, you know how much I enjoy being an Aunt. It was so very exhilarating when all the kids were young, but there is a whole new level of adventure and pride now that they are all growing up.

I am amazed at how God continues to work so uniquely in each of their lives, and today I celebrate the life of Andrew John on his 21st birthday.

IMG_2086Andrew has grown up so good and continues to seek God’s direction in his life. I love how he is a fellow of deep love for his family, has a growing faith, is disciplined, pursuing his goals, kind, brilliant, quite soft-spoken and loyal.

Sometimes when I look at my grown up nephew Andrew I can see the playful child, a dressed up superhero who loved to hang out with his cousins and play from early morning to late at night. IMG_6190

Sometimes when I look at Andrew, I see this growing up kid who is less about superhero’s and Pokemon and more about sharing this emerging personality. He is quiet and can surprise you with his humor or his engaging conversation about real life issues.

And then somehow overnight this kid grew into this taller than his Papa and Beppeandrewandpapaandbeppe teenager who had such a kind and compassionate heart. He would engage his youngest cousin or his grandparents with equal interest in who they are. He began to become a kid with a vision for what he wanted to do in the world and began to pursue it. He began to engage his faith in real ways.

And now today, this 21-year-old nephew of mine is in his 3rd year at the United States Naval Academy. He is pursuing his dreams, trusting God’s call on his life, and enjoying a relationship with someone I look forward to getting to know. I am so proud of you Andrew and love you so much! Hoping your 21st year brings you great adventure, deep satisfaction, many moments with those you love and a growing clarity of what your future may hold!


Why do I care about social justice?

This is a big topic and surely won’t be covered in one blog. This weekend I have been preparing a presentation for a Social Work class at Calvin College. I will be addressing how our Reformed Faith shapes our view of Social Justice in the field of Social Work.

As I discussed this with my Dad, he mentioned Isaiah 61 as a biblical foundation for the Reformed view of social justice. I am sure I have read Isaiah 61 before, but as my niece Karolyn and I contemplated this yesterday, Isaiah 61 feels bright and refreshing to both of us. I can feel my spirit soar as I read the clarity and mandate of Scripture.

“the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives. . .

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair. . .

For I, the Lord, love justice.”

I don’t believe anymore needs to be said!

May we move forward and live out the invitation/mandate that has been given to us!

Anyone willing to join me?


My Friend Tim

Let me tell you a bit about Tim. He is one-of-a-kind. When I became an Elder at my Church Tim was in my district. I will nFullSizeRender-1.jpegever forget the first time we met for breakfast. He introduced me to everyone who worked at McDonald’s and everyone who was eating at McDonald’s as his Elder. As we sat down I asked him who each person was, and he quickly told me he had no idea who each person was, but he was happy they knew who I was.

For the last almost 3 years we have had breakfast regularly. Tim is always delighted when I recommend we meet, and if Tim thinks it is about time we plan a meal, he is quick to remind me and suggest the day and time. He will often offer to pay, and then add, if I had any money! I assure him it is my treat, he will then order an extra hash brown. Tim has watched me pay with Apple Pay each time we go out together, so when I gave him a phone for his birthday two years ago, he said he would eat at McDonald’s every day now. I had to do a little explaining about how my phone worked when it came to buying things. 🙂

Tim has an incredible memory for people and knows about everyone at our Church. He IMG_1086is social and enjoys most any invitation extended to him. He is not always polite about when he belches and is not very skilled at having a conversation, but he will often make me smile. When Tim feels threatened or caught he will most often begin to talk about how much he misses his parents, who have both died. I try to remember to ask him something about his parents or brothers each week since he still loves to speak about them.


Tim’s favorite two topics to discuss are how much he weighs and how strong he is. He loves to flex his arms and impress whoever cares to notice. In every conversation, he declares his weight to me, but I recently discovered he doesn’t own a scale. Now I understand how he has such large weight fluctuation. Football is his favorite sport, and he follows the professional teams and makes confident projections about who will win. He also loves music and can name most any song and artist.

IMG_1484I hosted a birthday party for Tim this past year, and this morning he suggested we begin to plan for his next birthday, which is not until September. He already knows what he is wearing and wondered when we should send invites. I reminded him we just got finished with the thank you notes, not too long ago. Those were not his favorite, but he does love knowing everyone has a picture of him on their fridge.

I always enjoy when Tim prays at breakfast, and I see through fresh eyes again how his faith expression is a sign of his abundant but simple faith. Tomorrow I will be privileged to serve Tim communion, and when I say to him, the blood of Christ, shed for you Tim, he will look at me and say you know it, and I do too, His blood isFullSizeRender.jpeg for me without a doubt. It is almost like he wants to end it with a high five! It took me a few weeks to appreciate Tim’s confident expression of gratitude during communion. I wondered if I should “reign him in,” but I have learned that part of loving Tim is giving him the space to be his unique self and to enjoy him for who he is.

Tim calls me daily, and if I am not able to answer he will say, I just want you to know I am doing ok. Tim longs to be known, cared for, loved and pursued. His mind may be simple, but his heart is tender and longing. If you happen to know Tim, I hope you will consider loving him by inviting him to dinner or taking him out to breakfast or lunch. If you don’t know Tim, I wonder if you know someone like Tim. Consider inviting “your Tim” out to breakfast or lunch or over for a shared meal. Be amazed at the way that God uses all people to reveal his glory!

Thank you, Tim, for being my friend! I am ever grateful!d2d159a7-1986-4944-b26d-ce821360d3cf.jpeg



I love to celebrate the birthdays of those close to my heart. It is a day when I can generously lavish goodness in creative ways. Although I don’t often plan way ahead, I love it when I think of unique ways to express gratitude for the kindness that fills the soul of the one being honored.

heather5.jpgToday was that day for my soul mate friend Heather. We have known each other a long time, but our friendship began to grow to new depths when we started working together at Visiting Angels about 13 years ago.

When Jane told Heather we had chosen her as our new employee Heather squealed with delight and said she felt as if she had just won American Idol. That is so Heather, she is expressive and full of joy.

Heather and I have not only journeyed our day to day together, but we have also both been involved with Open Heart Ministries where we have committed to the journey of being emotionally healthy individuals who love others well. We have explored what we believe about God, ourselves and others and how that hinders our ability to live out who God heather1created us to be. That my friends is a journey where you grow in heart and admiration for each other. The journey of our hearts is what has created a foundation of friendship that is solid and secure.

Even with a solid and secure foundation of friendship, we do not always see eye to eye. We know each other well enough that we have learned how to fight and resolve our disagreements. We speak honestly, understand each other’s tears, laugh till we cry and can work in total silence or talk for 12 hours straight.

I want to share with you some of the words from Visiting Angel Caregivers about what they enjoy about my dear friend:

It has been a pleasure to work with you and marvel at the impossible tasks you manage each day always with a smile and gentle attitude.  Hope your day is as special as you.  Happy Birthday.

Heather, you have a gentle spirit and loving heart, may you be blessed abundantly on your birthday and throughout the year.  

friendquote2Hope you have a wonderful birthday as you are a beautiful, sweet, kind, thoughtful, and caring gal.  I knew I wanted to work for the Angels because you made such an impression on me when I interviewed with you!  

You were the first person I met at Visiting Angels.  I remember coming from my orientation and feeling that you were a very kind and loving soul. My perception of you has never changed and simply being an employee has turned into being a friend.  I appreciate all you do with the love of Christ in your heart.  Thank you, my friend, and may your special day be VERY special filled with all the good things God can give.
My friend is a beautiful soul, a fantastic woman, a mother, a daughter, a wife, an aunt, a heather3sister, and a niece. She has known deep heartache and great joy! She is full of laughter, love, honesty, kindness, loyalty, and worship.
Happy 43rd Birthday Heather! I am so looking forward to all this year will hold for you and those you love and for us in the adventures that we continue to embrace each and every day!
Love you soul sister, co-worker, and friend!

Family Dinner

Tonight was family dinner. I started hosting these a few years back during tax season. During tax season my brother in law works through dinner, and it was helpful for my sister when her kids were younger to have some adult company and support during the dinner hour. As the kids have gotten older, we all still look forward to family dinner.

dinnerisbetterDinner is simple, tonight it was bean soup and meat and cheese buns, and it is not an all-night affair since there is homework and bedtimes and meetings and other things for the rest of us. But there is something so sweet about the time we are together.

Tonight as we were visiting before we served dinner, I was struck by how my 8-year-old niece began suggesting in a light-hearted way that we should eat together every night at the different family member homes. As my Aunt teased her that her kitchen doesn’t know how to cook, she suggested a progressive dinner so she could just provide dessert.

Tonight at Family Dinner I heard my 11-year-old nephew pray that his sister wouldn’t be nervous for her school presentation tomorrow and I smiled at how his kind and tender heart comes out in prayers at the table.

As we continued with family dinner, I felt deep peace. Traditions and memories are being made at family dinner. Conversation is shared at family dinner. And as we wrapped up tonight’s family dinner, there was a question about if we can do it again next week. Yes, we will do family dinner again next week!

Do you have family who lives close to you? Or maybe you have friends who are like family. Consider a standing something, weekly, monthly or even a tea time where you share something enjoyable Life is busy, and it is so easy to miss the opportunity to create space that is low stress and highly enjoyable with people you hold close to your heart! I know for me, family dinner is always a time I am thankful for.





The sun will come out


I would guess that most everyone knows that song from Annie. I have been reflecting on it the last few days.

This past weekend my Facebook memory popped up from 5 years ago.

64475_10151241639195426_161515565_n.jpgIt was February 18, 2013, and we were gathered to celebrate Christmas. We were celebrating late because my oldest brother was buried on New Years Eve weekend after dying in a car accident a few days before Christmas. None of us were in the space to celebrate Christmas. I remember wondering if we would gather at all that Christmas. It didn’t seem possible or even right. And yet 6 weeks later, we gathered, and it was a painfully sweet time. There were many tears and also laughter. There was a thick ache present as a result of all we had been through, and there were glimpses, ever so small, that Len would live on in each of us in a variety of ways.

And now this picture pops up, and it has been 5 years since we said our goodbye to Len and then awkwardly gathered to celebrate Christmas. I don’t know if I will ever lose the memory of how foreign that first family gathering felt. I think we all wondered how to navigate this new reality, a reality none of us ever saw coming.

Today, I can confidently say, the ache is present but not as deep, the tears flow, but not as often, the memories are shared and often bring a smile or laughter. Recently Len’s 14-year-old son sent me this with this caption: really am missing him!

Jean-Marc who was 9 at the time of the accident, now longs for his Dad in his 14 year old life. And yet to hear his voice and to see him in a video reminds us of our loss but even more of the unique goodness that filled a room when he was present. We will always miss his goodness!

If you are in a season of grief or loss, I want to assure you that the sun will come out again. Maybe not tomorrow, but some tomorrow I trust you will feel the promise and hope of a new day. A day which offers you more hope than pain, more comfort than sorrow and the assurance that the sun will shine again!