The Year of THIRTY: Update

The response I received to my initial THIRTY post was tremendous (on Facebook and at work). I honestly didn’t think that it was odd to create a list like I did here., but many viewed it as a novelty and were super encouraging!  For the sake of keeping myself accountable and satisfying inquiring minds, here is a fleshed out version of the items I have done or am in the process of doing:

3. Grow my own vegetables – This year I planted Roma, cherry and grape tomatoes in pots on my patio. Planning on jarring up some bruschetta mix to carry me through the winter (and use as hostess gifts!)

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4. Read thirty books in varying genres. . . My list of completed books since May are as follows; “Wicked”, “The Giver Quartet” – “The Giver”, “Gathering Blue”, “Messenger” and “Son”, “BossyPants”

5. Learn to play golf…I have connected with three other people who will be taking me out on a 9-hole course to see where my future with golf lies.

6. Buy a bike and ride it . . . I love my bike! It is pink with big tires and a basket! The tires are flat though and my bike pump is plotting against me. 

8. Go berry picking . . . I picked Blueberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries.  Shoutout to “The Extraordinary Berry” and “Stateline Blueberries“!

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9. Do something once a month by myself that I’ve never done before: May: Took a real vacation. June: Started a job in the finance field July: Organized a baby shower August: Drove to Michigan, went berry picking, and ate at a restaurant by myself.

10. Wake up early on the weekends – this was a cheater one, I normally wake up early…I’m just making a conscious effort to be productive since I’m up!

13. Take my thoughts captive when I get upset that others are engaged, married, having babies, getting promotions, etc. and I’m not. – this one is hard. I’m the last one of a group of ten to be seriously involved with anyone, but I’m trying to be happy for them and content with where I’m at. 

17. Take a painting class – I shouldn’t quit my day job, but this sure was fun! Shout-out to “Pinot’s Palette!” 

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20. Participate in at least one volunteer activity a month – For the past two months, I’ve packed backpacks for kids going back to school!

22. Meet my neighbors -This can be awkward, but I’ve successfully met three of my neighbors this summer! One of them cut me off pulling into the neighborhood though and drives ridiculously, but I still wave when I see him and his wife out and about!

24. Learn French – Yay! People are willing to help me! Currently looking into purchasing Rosetta Stone.

25. Listen to and engage with people I haven’t previously – I had a lovely conversation with my benchmates at a park in Michigan, met new co-workers, mixed and mingled at professional networking events.

26. Take more walks – This normally happens on the weekend, but I am trying to connect with people in my neighborhood to do this.

28. Listen to voicemails – I have visual voicemail on my phone, so I normally just call people back…thus the incredible accumulation of messages. I’m staying on top of these now.

We would love to hear of the things you want to accomplish this year, please share!

Intentional Community: 7 years post graduation

Each summer, I look forward to the “Cottage Reunion”; a weekend gathering of friends. We graduated in 2007 from Taylor University, and have made an intentional effort each summer to get together. These gatherings have become more elaborate and developed over the years, and we rotate responsibilities with hosting and planning. We have rented a “cabin” in Brown County, Indiana where we sampled ice cream and walked through a quaint town. We’ve gone off-roading with 4-wheelers in Milwaukee and had dinner along the river. This year, we celebrated two engagements and two mom’s to be!

The staples of these weekends consist of the following; copious amounts of food that we try to eat as if we are still in college, conversations that start over coffee, carry over into lunch, and last late into the night (another thing we think our bodies can handle like we did in college), and my favorite tradition…sharing our “words”.

“A word” is shared by each of us that epitomizes our year, and we keep records of years past. Our words have ranged from “new beginnings” to “devastating”, and I feel privileged to be allowed into the stories behind those words. Each of the women that I gather with have stories to tell that we may or may not have been privy to throughout the year due to life getting in the way of consistent communication. It is incredible to have time pass like it does, yet have all of us gather together and intentionally devote time to transparency with one another on the sharing of our “words”.

This summer, all ten of us descended upon Indianapolis. Like previous years, we had a loose agenda of options to fill our day (county fair, public pool), but unlike those years, this year we camped out at Addie’s house conversing for the good part of the day before we headed out for our “dress up” dinner (which ended up being multiple hours long with us then moving to an outdoor cafe for multiple hours after).

It struck me on this weekend that many people do not get to enjoy the richness of intentionality. To have ten women whose jobs range from education to medicine to finance to homemaking, make scheduled sacrifices, speaks volumes. In essence, by making the time to attend, we are communicating intentionality.

It’s a great feeling to know that you are worth someone’s time. I feel so lucky to have community with these women.

Cottage Reunion

Why Not be a Kid Again?

On Saturday it was my small group against another young adult small group at church in kickball. While running around the field playing a game I haven’t played since I was a camp counselor I got to thinking. Why do we stop playing such games?

There is something about going back to our roots and the things that helped us be active as kids that I think can inspire fitness again. Why do we stop playing such games as adults? Are they silly? Yes, but if they keep us active why not be silly?

So I guess here is my thought. If you are having trouble being active, try going back to your roots. As children we all ran around with endless energy. What was it that made you want to be active?

The coolest thing on Saturday was not that my team won (though we did), it was not that I got a lot of guys to wear bright pink (but I did), but it was that every person no matter their athleticism or competitive nature were having fun, being active, and spending time with people they care about.

Not only are activities like this good for the physical heart, but they force us to put down the cell phones and enjoy the moment. To talk to the person next to us and learn about how competitive or not competitive they are. To get to meet new people and build community by cheering each other on. There is something unique about being outside in God’s creation focusing on the task at hand; having fun.

So my dear friends, what kid game are you going to bring back? How are you going to start rebuilding true community while also encouraging yourself and others to be active?

I dare you to be a kid again.

Kenya Teaches Brittany

One of my absolute best friends wrote an incredible blog the other day and has agreed to share it… here is what Brittany has to say…



Dear High School Self….

You’re not going to believe this.  I’m going to Africa this summer and it won’t be for the first time.  This will actually be my third trip to Africa.  Did I just make your heart start racing with panic and fear?  Don’t worry, you have about seven years to prepare yourself (although you’ll never be fully prepared for that first trip).  

Right now, I know you have the rest of your life planned out after graduation.  Your plan starts with going to college to become a teacher.  After you graduate you’ll find a full time teaching job in Avon, move out of your parents’ house, meet an amazing guy, get married, have two kids (a girl and a boy), get a dog, a cat, and be a stay at home mom in your house with a big front porch and a pool in the backyard.  
Well high school self, I have some advice for you and it’s only five words:
“Let go of your plan.”
I know how much you like to be in control, and I know you’ve had your plan set in stone since you were a little girl.  I know how stubborn you are and how much you are going to fight with God over keeping your plan.  I hate to tell you, but God is going to take your world and flip it upside down.  Then He’s going to send you to the other side of the world and rip you right out of your comfort zone.  You will find yourself thousands of miles from home walking through some of the worst slums in Africa.  As terrifying as that sounds right now, I can tell you that Africa was a part of God’s plan all along.  From the moment you step foot in the slums, you will forever be changed.     
Letting go of your plan won’t be easy, but I can tell you that God’s plan is SO much better!  You won’t even recognize yourself in ten years!  God is going to challenge and strengthen your faith in the years to come.  He’s going to take your passion for teaching and call you to teach in the last place you ever expected to be.  He’s going to call you to lead instead of just follow.  He’s going to show you that life is so much more than just the American dream.  
So high school self, I leave you with this verse to remember in the years to come.  Cling to these words, let go of your plan, and let God do an amazing work in you.  
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Healthy Fall Outdoor Activities and Tips

Fall is here and if you’re an outdoor enthusiast as I am, you’ll know that the evenings have turned cold (at least here in the Midwest) and the mornings are even colder. As it get’s colder, it gets easier and easier to skip a workout or hibernate inside.

Fall and winter bring with them not only cold weather, but great opportunities for new outdoor activities you and your family can enjoy. As you move your workouts and activities into colder weather, consider the following to stay safe and healthy:
  • Dress in layers: You want to make sure you’re comfortable as your body warms up, but you also want to be careful not to over heat. Keep your base layer tight and made of sweat-wicking material. Avoid cotton if you can!
  • Stretch: Stretching is incredibly important before and after a workout. Your muscles are more limber when they’re warm, so the longer you wait after a workout, the less effective stretching is. Don’t forget cooler temperatures will cool you down faster. Begin your workout with dynamic/active stretching and finish your workout with static stretching.
  • Warm-up: As important as stretching is warming up. When working out in colder weather, remember your body has to work harder to warm itself up. Don’t be hard on yourself it if takes you longer to get into your groove.
  • Be forgiving: If you can’t go as far or as hard or as fast as you normally would, don’t be hard on yourself. Remember that there are outside elements that are out of your control – listen to your body.
  • Hydration: In colder weather, you likely won’t feel as if you’ve sweat as much. Trust me, you have. Hydration essential at all times, but as the air dies out and moisture is sucked from your skin, it’s more important than ever to hydrate before, during and after a workout.



If you’re not so much a fan of solo outdoor workouts, the following are some of my favorite family-friendly outdoor cold-weather activities:
  1. Hiking
  2. Sledding
  3. Ice Skating
  4. Snowshoeing
  5. Snowmen building
  6. Yard work (who doesn’t love jumping in leaves)
  7. Fire pits for roasting marshmallows
  8. And finally, my favorite, go for a family walk!

Fall is my favorite time of year as it is full of colorful change, transition and tradition. I hope you enjoy the fall – cold weather and all!
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