I turned 40 this past December and I shared with many of you….”if I am not married by the time I am 40, I am going to be throwing myself a party.” A party that celebrates life. A type of celebration that is often shared at engagement parties, bridal showers, weddings, receptions, baby showers, the birth of children, kids birthdays, anniversaries….you get my hint…if your married and/or have children, there are marked celebrations throughout the years. They are celebrations of life and somehow when one is single, there are not as many events to be celebrated.

I will say that I am a woman who loves the idea of celebrating. Every day life holds events worth celebrating. I most enjoy the celebration of people and saying, today I am delighting in the you you have become and are becoming. Celebration rarely marks an end…it is usually a stop along the way!

And so I am 40 and single. I have fun dreaming of my celebration party. It will be one I register at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond and send out classy invitations. I have asked my parents for my wedding money (teehee) and if I do marry, it will have to be a back yard wedding with peanut butter and jelly and ice cream cones. I envision Janneke, Henry, Anne, Karolyn, Ellie, Andrew, Ryan, Olivia, Noah, Sonta, Jean Marc, Peter, Isaiah, and Johanna taking part and an afternoon and evening of delight and wonder. I envision people from all the seasons of my life. My adventuresome and crazy family, friends who went to Sylvan Christian, Holland Christian, Calvin, and my fellow MSW graduates. Those who attended First Church Calvinettes, Bethany CRC, Sunshine and Eastern with me. Those faces who worked with me at Nuttin But Puttin, Rest Haven, Paul’s Pharmacy, Saint Mary’s. Sunshine, Three Rivers Hospice, Adoption Associates, All God’s Children and Visiting Angels. Those I have journeyed with in bringing their children home from far away lands and my soul mates who have celebrated transformation of hearts and minds through Grace Groups and the work of Open Hearts Ministry. I envision my worlds colliding in a place of celebration. Celebrating how this myriad of faces has shaped me into the woman I am today!

And yet, I am not where I would like to be, not a reason to deny celebration, but it has caused me to postpone my formal celebration. I am working hard at shedding some pounds. I am learning to be faithful in my exercise even when the scale doesn’t move and I am learning to practice wellness as opposed to weight loss. I will be venturing out on a two-week adventure at the end of this month (likely my next blog) and I hope this will help me to sort out my weight loss journey. I am gearing up for a late spring celebration and hope that in the time between now and then I will have many opportunities to celebrate the many wonderful people in my life!

I have put together a collage of some of the many faces who give me reason to celebrate. Enjoy seeing the eyes and the smiles…the faces and know that each one holds a story!

Go and celebrate today…celebrate the little things but celebrate well. Celebrate others….allow others to celebrate you!

May I never lose the wonder…

May I never lose the wonder….

Of the Church and the invitation extended to me to worship. The “older” Church building carries such an invitation to worship and wonder. I am grateful for our visit to this place and the deep meaning of the words posted at the door….

Pause as thou enter, Traveller, and bethink thee. How Holy yet how homelike is this place: Time that thou spendest humbly here shall link thee: With men unknown who once were of thy race

This is thy Father’s House. To Him address thee:Whom here His children worship face to face: He, at thy coming in, Himself shall bless thee: Thy going out, make joyful with His Grace

May I never lose the wonder….

Of the beauty of the land. The colors and the vastness, the rock and the dirt, the dry and the fertile land.

May I never lose the wonder….

Of the mighty waters of the Ocean or the amazing stillness of the same waters…

May I never lose the wonder of God’s Creation….both in Africa and here at home!

Lessons learned in the wild….

I learned many things while cruising around in a safari vehicle in Africa. I learned things from the animals of the wild that I never would have imagined. I will write about them over time, but today, I am struck by the acceptance the animals had for one another.

This picture is one of my favorites. It was as if these two were soul mates. They were comfortable with one another and were not affected at all by us onlookers.

They are so different their size, in their modes of transport, in what they eat and how they eat it. They have every reason to not enjoy one another, and yet, something about this picture communicates to me that they are doing exactly that, enjoying one another.

As I journey to my heart, I strive to live with a stance of curiosity. Curiosity about all I am experiencing. Sometimes there are questions that feel life challenging or changing. Sometimes I tuck away an experience and wonder if or how it will come back to shape my heart or mind?

As I delighted in the moment of the bird and the giraffe, I was curious if I live with the same invitation and acceptance as these two animals of God’s creation. Where do I mingle and rest with those who are very different and yet still so full of God’s design and beauty? I just may find myself defining where I am a giraffe who invites one of smaller stature but magnificence of a different kind, to rest and get a new view and where am I a bird who settles into a place of rest and enjoyment of seeing things from a perspective I can not achieve on my own…

I love the gifts God gave me in the wild of Africa….

There is no place like home!

I traveled through out South Africa the last 17 days. It was wonderful, full of adventure, amazing in beauty and held moments of delight, wonder, awe and laughter. I traveled with my Dad and Mom, Aunt and Uncle, and my Aunt Dot who is also my neighbor and friend. We spent one week on a Safari, spent a wonderful afternoon at the Indian Ocean, went to Table Mountain, Robbins Island, an Elephant Park and many other locations. We traveled by plane, train and automobiles and each of those held adventures of their own.

In the days ahead I will be writing about my travels through South Africa. But tonight, I want to say, “There is no place like home!”

Travel was great and accommodations were above average. I slept well, was up early and enjoyed cards till late into the night, food was good and the company was delightful and easy to be with. And yet, without hesitation, I can say,  “There is no place like home!”

And yet, as we traveled through South Africa, we saw a common scene. We drove by many communities, more commonly known as Townships. During the Apartheid Era blacks were evicted from properties that were in areas designated as “white only” and forced to move into Townships. There is much to say, but what strikes me is that almost every Township we passed, I noticed: clothes hanging out to dry, small gatherings of people, indicating to me that people were living in relationship, the presence of children, and in some very odd way, a feeling of community…life giving community, amidst circumstances many of us will never ever fully understand. I was struck often by my wondering how can someone live in these circumstances….and then I am struck, this is home for someone else. To learn a bit more about the townships, search Township (South Africa) on www.wikipedia.com or search South Africa Townships on You Tube and be amazed at the power of community in the midst of many hardships.

It took me a number of years to love being home. During my early years of home ownership I was not comfortable with who I was and found that I ran in and out of my home, more than I enjoyed being home. As I have journeyed to my heart, I have come to know, understand and accept myself and therefore, have embraced the beauty of being home. I am thankful for the journey and for the people who have journeyed with me. I am grateful, especially after traveling the world, that home is a wonderful place to return to!

Living the unexpected…

It was an unexpected kind of day.

I had planned to sleep well and wake up early today.

The unexpected was I did not sleep hardly at all and was awake almost every 30 minutes.

I had planned to go to breakfast with Cathy and Caili.

The unexpected was I went to the Emergency Room instead thinking I had a bladder infection.

I had planned on them telling me in ER that I had a bladder infection.

The unexpected was they told me I had a kidney stone.

I had planned to feel better with medication within 24 to 48 hours.

The unexpected was they  asked me if I had international medical coverage and that the worst is likely yet to come. (Although many people have survived just fine passing a stone, and I plan to be in those statistics soon as well!)

I had planned to just take malaria pills ~or is that anti malaria pills to Africa

The unexpected is I am taking my own mini pharmacy.

I had planned to feel fully ready to depart by the end of the day today.

The unexpected is I feel a little uneasy.

And so, today I am living the unexpected. And in my mind I keep hearing my Dad’s voice as he is known to say: “the Lord is still on His Throne.” Funny how that foundational truth offers me hope…especially in days where the unexpected seems to find me in almost every circumstance.

What did happen today as planned: I enjoyed hosting 21 people at my home for a wonderful evening of good conversation, wonderful mixing of many ages and a tasty summer dinner of Brats, onions and green peppers, potato salad, pork and beans and ice cream cones to top it off. I am glad that is the one thing today that went as planned.  It is always good to be with family before a big trip!

And so, in the day of travel tomorrow, I hope for more of the expected…but in the event, the unexpected rises to greet me again, may I welcome the changes in my plan and remember the Lord is still on His Throne!

Lions and Tigers and Bears….OH MY!

I have had many people assume my trip to Africa is a mission based trip. I almost feel a twinge of guilt when I respond with, “nope, purely pleasure!” A place I have always dreamed of going, nope, not really….this is how it came about.

I was participating in the Christian Education Auction at Muskegon Christian School where my wonderful brother-in-law is the administrator. He had mentioned this trip was the big-ticket item with a 4500 dollar value. And so when the item came up for bidding, it was silent. I started to bid on the trip, just to get the momentum going. It was between two of us and at $1800, I pulled out and the other bidder won (bought) the trip for $1850. Whoosh, that was a close call was my first thought. And then they announced they had a trip for the back up bidder…It was my lucky day and I to could go to Africa for $1,850 dollars. What, really, were my first thoughts, not out of sheer excitement. I looked over to my traveling Aunt and said, “Aunt Dot, do you want to go to Africa.” She said “sure” and I said, “sold”!

The next day I went to Sunday morning coffee and said, “look what I won (bought)!” My dad takes a look at the brochure and knows Trevor, the man who facilitates the ranch in South Africa. I am often awed by the contacts my Dad has made world-wide through his participation in developing The Church around the world. Well, the conversation began and soon my parents, Aunt Dot and I, and our good friends The Sweetmans were all committed to travel.

The planning began and for a long time it seemed like a trip way in the future. Today, the future is Tuesday. I am eager to experience this and am grateful that my Dad is a world-wide traveler and will lead the way. I look forward to disconnecting from the technology that surrounds me at home, (although I do hope to stay in touch a bit via the Ipad) and experience nature in a way I never really have. I will be going out twice a day in a green jeep and hard hat to mingle with the elephants, lions, tigers and bears…oh my! I hope to read, converse, nap, laugh, refresh, renew and return home in a few weeks.

I am grateful for many who make this possible and marvel that after 8 years in business, my staff (and friends) can hold every detail of the day-to-day without a worry in my mind. I am thankful for family and friends who will stay at my house, watch my dog and take in my mail. I am privileged to travel and I am eager to go and I am eager to come home….

And so, now you know a bit of how my trip to South Africa came about. I ask for your prayers for safety of travel and good health. If you have any tips to share on enjoying a 17 hour plane trip, jet lag, food to try or adventures to experience, let me know…before Monday night!

Living fully,


I thought i was packed…

I am working hard to be ready to leave on my trip to South Africa. I want to enjoy the process of getting ready. To often I am rushing through the preparation and then have the recurring thought, if only I had had a little more time….

I am quite proud of myself because last night I went to bed being fully packed. I enjoyed today knowing much of my work was done and I only had a few small details to tend to. I was ready and at rest…a first time accomplishment for me before a big trip.

About 3 pm I came home from running errands and walked into my family room to see an empty suitcase. My wonderful chocolate lab Dutch had pulled every thing out of the suitcase (front pockets and all) and was lying comfortably on my pile of clothes. She did not run to greet me, like she often does, but she looked at me with her big brown puppy dog eyes…

I am grateful I have a few days to repack and prepare again to leave. I did mention to Dutch, that if this was a power struggle, I am going to win. I am not sure what she senses. I have not left her much in our 18 month relationship but she seems to know something is up. I am thankful I have a sister who is willing to take on managing her own young family and take on my crazy dog as well.

And so tomorrow I will attempt again to be ready and at rest. I look forward to hosting 28 of my family for Labor Day dinner and marvel at what a wonderful summer it has been. Enjoy the holiday weekend and I hope you also are marveling at what a wonderful summer it has been!

Tomorrow when I finish packing, I think i will close the zipper!