Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The last of my Michigan trip

It’s time to finish up the pictures and posts about my trip to Michigan. I’ve been home for a week and a half and it’s time! I didn’t take as many pictures during the days of training…we were just a little busy! But there’s a few…

_MG_0659 Our condo at Gull Lake Conference Center. Right on the lake. So beautiful. Each floor had a kitchen and living room area, plus about 4 or 5 bedrooms, each with a bathroom. If not for the lack of sleep and the insane amount of  information to take in, it would have been a “retreat!”

_MG_0666 The walk up to the entrance to the Tabernacle. So pretty.

_MG_0694 Such girly balloons we GEMS have!

_MG_0699 These are the women who introduced the amazing Faith Girlz events that are going to be happening around the country in 2010-2011, as a cooperative effort from ZonderKids and GEMS. I am sooooo excited! I mean, it was pretty exciting when Logos partnered up with Zondervan, but now GEMS? Pretty soon, I bet Logos and GEMS will find reason to partner up and then my ministry world will collide with Ed’s work world and that’ll be pretty crazy!

_MG_0701 We “assembled” these cookbooks for the Zambian GEMS Counselors. We all had to contribute recipes and then somehow, magically, these little packets appeared on our tables. (Actually, I know how. Those awesome guys working in the basement of the Service Center printed them off). We had to put the brads in to hook them together. I thought, huh, that’s it? That’s not a real active part of this service project. But no, that wasn’t it. We had the opportunity to write a note in the cookbook to the counselor in Zambia who would be receiving this book! Such a blessing to share the ministry and love of God with these women halfway around the world. And there’s a team in Zambia RIGHT NOW, so they could be reading them RIGHT NOW. God knows. God knows. Wow.

_MG_0702 Okay, this here made me laugh. How do you remove the wings of a termite, anyway?

_MG_0703 The gang, learning from Jan, Exec. Dir. of GEMS girls clubs. My other pictures of Jan didn’t turn out, unfortunately. :( Watch out, though! I’ll get one at conference in July! The funniest thing Jan taught us about presenting our own fall workshops is to “avoid looking dead.” Maybe we were all falling asleep on her by that point and she wanted to get our attention. LOL!

_MG_0704 The gang on the other side of the room.

And that’s it. Now I will have to dig out the camera and see what else is on there that’s non-GEMS related to blog about.

FYI: I’m starting two new blogs. One is for our local GEMS club and it’s and the other is for Area 3 (Washington state, but also Idaho, Nevada and Oregon, which is actually Area 4, but they only have one club, so they’re invited to Area 3) and it’s Any future GEMS postings will probably end up on one of those sites. These blogs are still under construction. But I hope to have them current within the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thursday, April 15 in Michigan

My traveling day was the 14th, and I already pretty much covered that day. My first full day in Michigan was great. My nephew warmed up to me pretty quickly, especially after I played with him while my sister-in-law shopped at garage sales.

_MG_0579_MG_0587 I bought him this little horse at my college roommate’s garage sale. I am pretty sure my little brother had one just like it, so the nostalgia was thick. I don’t know why he’s sticking his tongue out. He really does like it. He rides it around saying “Neigh, neigh, neigh.”

_MG_0589 We played catch for a while. Or rather, we played fetch. I threw it, he would get it and bring it back to me. So funny. He did start throwing it back eventually, thank goodness. Otherwise Uncle Mikey would probably have to teach him a few things on his next visit.

_MG_0593  We had such fun.

_MG_0595 _MG_0597 _MG_0602 At lunch time we headed out to Calvin’s campus to meet my brother for lunch. It was an exceptionally wonderful day and campus was gorgeous.

_MG_0620 The top of the chapel. Yes, I know it looks like a Pizza Hut. That’s part of its charm. My friends and I used to love to go to Pizza Hut in college!

_MG_0622 If I had a nickel for every time I walked into this building, I could have paid my tuition. The College Center, as it was known then, houses both the Education Department (my major) and the Broene Center (my place of employment).

_MG_0627 Did I mention it was an incredibly gorgeous day? Look at the students lounging during lunch on the lawn. They were all over the place. I never did that at Calvin. When I was at Calvin, it looked like this:

carinsnow Honestly. Must be that global warming.

Actually, we did have a few nice days, but I’m pretty sure I spent them in the library studying. Or maybe at the beach. Or at my roommate’s lake cottage. Or lying out on my roommate’s trampoline. Or on the dorm roof. But mostly in the library studying.

After lunch at Calvin, my sister-in-law dropped me off at the DYM Service Center, which houses GEMS, Cadets, and Youth Unlimited. I was so excited to see this place! It is incredibly small! Way smaller than I envisioned. But so lovely, and warm, and comfortable, and it’s easy to see how such a wonderful ministry comes out of those offices.

We saw the supply center where somebody fills our orders. I’ve always wondered who puts the badges in the little baggies that come in the mail when I place my order. Well, it’s this guy:

_MG_0640 He was nice enough to let me take his picture while he worked. He thought I was nuts, but he let me anyway. All those little nail bins are where they keep the badges. Incredible.

_MG_0642 Another aisle in the supply center.

We also got to see the printing room, but I was kind of stuck in the back, so I didn’t get a picture. GEMS does pretty much all their printing onsite! Very impressive.

_MG_0643 Outside the main office door.

_MG_0644 Looking into the main office area. That’s Barb & Michele! Great ladies.

Then we drove to Gull Lake for our training. What a beautiful place! The next two pictures are taken from our condo’s balcony.

_MG_0645 _MG_0648 _MG_0655 That’s Lenae, our fearless Training Manager who let us have one of our sessions outside since it was such a wonderful day. We had so much fun!

Thursday ended very late…on Friday morning, if I am correct…and I slept very little. Those GEMS ladies are hard-core when it comes to training. We were kept busy until after 10:00 at night and back at it at 7:45 in the morning. But it was so, so valuable.


Have you ever experienced a coincidence that just seemed so entirely coincidental that it just couldn’t possibly have been a coincidence? Often times we Christians says “it was providential” instead of saying “it was a coincidence.” I learned a new way to look at it – God-Sightings. In addition to being a new way to view so-called coincidences, it’s about noticing God in the everyday, ordinary things that you otherwise might not attribute to God being at work in your life. I’ve been experiencing a number of these God-sightings lately. I think it’s more a result of me noticing more than that God is actually at work more. Either way, it’s all God and it’s all good.

The first in a string of God-sightings took place in the SeaTac airport last week Wednesday. I was traveling to MI for my GEMS training and had prayed specifically about who I would be seated next to or would meet in the airport. The last time I flew I got a little anxious about that and since that was so recent, I was anxious that I would be anxious. On my first flight from BLI to SEA, I sat next to a nice Presbyterian man who was very friendly and shared about their college ministry group at their church and he seemed genuinely impressed by what I shared about the GEMS ministry.

When I arrived in SEA, I initially called my friend in Minnesota so that we could chat, as it had been a long time and that seemed like a good way to pass the time. After we talked, I got some food and coffee and ventured back to the gate area. By this time, it was crowded and I looked around for a place to sit that wasn’t RIGHT next to another person. I choose a seat and looked around. Sometimes it’s interesting to watch people. The gal next to me was reading a book by an author I had read in the past and so when she stopped reading, I said to her, “That’s a good author. I like her stuff.” The gal responded with “Yeah, though I think I should not be reading this. It’s all about plane crashes and stuff.”

Hm. Yeah. Probably shouldn’t have told me that either.

But, nevertheless, we continued to make small talk and discovered that we were both traveling all the way to Grand Rapids together. Bravely, she said to me, “You’re not going to the GEMS thing, are you?” Oh. My. Goodness!!

We immediately began introducing ourselves to each other, discovered we were seated in the same row on the airplane, discovered we live barely 15 minutes apart (even though we live in two different COUNTRIES), discovered we were both new at this job of Area Coordinator, and generally just got along great from the moment we met. I told her I had prayed about who I would meet because I was nervous about it and she said, “I like being an answer to prayer!” She’s so cute.

Anyway, Tracey is now my new friend and over the weekend we spent together we discovered many more ways in which we are similar (scrapbooking and cold hands, anyone?) and we are so thankful for the opportunity to notice God working in our lives to bring us together!


My partner in this venture as the AC for Washington State is Tami. She is the Leadership Trainer. While I don’t have the privilege of living near her (she is on the east side), we get along and work together so well. I know her sister and one of her friends from college is a close friend of mine as well. I am honored to work with her, and I know that God intended for us to partner together in this ministry.


I recently went into a local gift shop to purchase a gift for my mom who has been taking care of my kids a lot lately while I’ve been gone. I was telling the ladies in the store about this as they gift-wrapped the necklace I chose. One of the employees says, “Oh, I’ve seen those GEMS magazines in the library and wondered what that was all about! I have a daughter who will be in 7th grade and she’s in Girl Scouts, which is fine, but we just want something more for her. This GEMS club sounds perfect!” My chin about hit the floor. I’ve been in that store many times, but never met that lady. I don’t typically share tidbits of my life with salespeople, but they were so friendly and seemed genuinely interested. And then. I felt such shame. I had not yet opened my new business cards for GEMS and so had nothing to give her for information! I asked her for a post-it and I wrote it all down for her. You better believe the first thing I did when I got home was to open my business cards and put some in my wallet like I was told. Now I give them to everyone I meet. :) Seriously. I’ve handed out about 6 in two days! :) Okay, a couple were just to my friends, but still. Anyway, next time I’m in town when that store is open, I’m bringing in a business card to her.

I have a friend from high school whose father is dying from cancer. I haven’t been able to get in touch with her because she moved (she lives in Montana) and the email address I have is old. I’ve been thinking about her and praying for her so much. On Wednesday, my daughter and I were having a talk in the van, sitting outside my mom’s house, before I dropped her off there. I was then headed to my other daughter’s piano lesson. A gal walks by on the sidewalk and it’s my friend from high school! Seriously. That is no coincidence, people! I sent my daughter in and stood on the sidewalk with her and chatted for about a half an hour until I HAD to go get my daughter and she HAD to get home so that her mom wouldn’t worry. She was here visiting her dad and just was out taking a walk. She & I have always had the ability to get right to the meat of a matter – no small chit chat with us. So I got the details on her dad, how she’s feeling, how they’re getting through their days, everything. So, so, good. We both said over and over what a gift and blessing our meeting there on the sidewalk was that day.

At my training last weekend I learned about CIT’s (Counselor-In-Training). We have never used them in our club, but the idea intrigued me after learning about mentoring them and how great it is for both them and the younger girls (& not to mention the counselors!) I prayed about it and a name came to mind. A few days ago, I was talking to this girl’s mom and she shared how this daughter was just an “outside the box” kind of kid. Later I emailed the mom and asked if it was OK if I asked her daughter to be a CIT. Her mom emailed back: “What a nice email for me to receive! My daughter mentioned just the other day that she’d like to be CIT!” I thought, wow! It’s all God’s timing. I talked to the girl today and I could just tell she was excited to be asked. She said yes immediately and the mom later told me she was tickled pink. I am excited and nervous about this new venture, but we’re just gonna follow God’s leading on this one too!

I’d love to hear about God-sightings from the readers of my blog. Feel free to share a comment or send me an email to tell your story!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sunday afternoon in Michigan

I think I’ll blog about my Michigan trip in a sporadic order. On Sunday afternoon when I got back from my training, Randy picked me up at the airport. We had to stop at Calvin to fix up his lab for the next day and we took a few pictures. After my nephew’s nap we headed to the Butterfly Garden for a photo shoot and some fun! My nephew wasn’t entirely cooperative, but I got some fun pictures. My grandma came over for dinner and we had a great evening!

Pictures and more details here!

P.S. to Family: if you want any of the pictures on this web album with any additional editing…different sizes, b&w, choc b&w, vignettes, etc., just let me know. I didn’t have time to make a bunch of different styles of the same pictures. I wanted to get them up so everyone could see. I’m happy to do it to whichever pictures you want, though!

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

On this day, 12 years ago, Ed & I became parents of a most precious child of God. She was a perfect baby, a smart and funny toddler, and generally gave us the impression that we were the best parents on the face of the earth. Thankfully, we know better now.

Now that she is a pre-teen, I hardly know what to feel. There she is, a loving friend, a giving daughter, a caring big sister, a basketball player, a pianist, a flutist, an artist, an author, with a heart striving to be a follower of Jesus, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for her life; and at the same time, my heart aches at the thought that she has only 6 more years at home before heading off to college. I pray that her love for God continues to grow, that she continues to have a positive outlook on life, and that she remains sweet throughout the potentially tumultuous teenage years ahead.

Happy Birthday, Sarah! We love you so much!!!!IMG_4501_MG_0266

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


has fixed the problem. Finally. Which means, that soon, after I sleep more than 5 hours at once, I will be posting many pictures and photo albums of the recent past.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Almost Home

My GEMS training is over and I am back at my brother & sister-in-law’s home. The training was AWESOME. God is doing amazing things in the GEMS ministry and hopefully through me in the GEMS ministry. Stay tuned for more details…someday…when I catch up on my sleep. They kept us busy from 7:45 a.m. until 9;30 p.m. every night, and then we had house devotions after that, and then of course the chatting that happens whenever females of any age are sleeping in the same lodging area with no males. I estimate that I’ve had approximately 10 hours of sleep since Thursday morning.

My nephew loves me and thinks my iPhone is very cool. He is hysterically funny and I have the greatest video of him doing the jibber-jabber toddler thing. It’s on my iPhone and I’ll have to ask Elias how to upload it, because I sure don’t know how.

I got to see my grandma tonight, which was great, because I don’t get to see her very often. She’s a techie-grandma, though, so we stay in touch. :)

Tomorrow I get to hang out with my sister-in-law and nephew and then I get to have lunch with my best friends from college! How amazing is that? Then I fly home and won’t get home until after midnight, which will be actually 3:00 a.m. according to my body’s time clock. But you know, it’s all good. And God will provide the rest I need eventually.

(Hey, are there any fellow GEMS trainees reading this? How’s this for my first step of the goal I set this morning? Remember? PASSION?)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


*am in Michigan.

*had great flights and even an unexpected and wonderful companion for the trip.

*cannot wait to love on my nephew in the morning.

*am excited to tour the GEMS Service Center tomorrow afternoon and start my training tomorrow evening.

*miss my family.

*am going to sleep now.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Swimming Facts

1. If we travel from small town America to small town Canada to go swimming, we will likely run into someone we know.

2. Sarah: is very, VERY, strong.

3. Elise: is crazy.

4. Bethany’s smiles are contagious.

5. Becca: is funny.

6. Elise: is insane.

7. There is a reason why, as we drive up to the border, I always remind Ed: “We’re going to {blank}, we live in {blank}, Yes, we are all U.S. Citizens.” Things like that. Tonight, coming home, I thought I’d let him try it on his own. That will not be happening again.

8. Swimming pools are cold. Hot tubs are hot. And wonderful.

9. Eating ice cream after swimming and being cold seems odd, but it is our tradition and we {heart} it.

10. Elise should have been born a fish.

Playing catch-up and a recap

As was so kindly pointed out by Dee, it has been a while since I blogged. Apparently you all (or, at least, SHE) really cares about what I post on my blog! I am touched. Truly touched. So, I have spent much time today choosing pictures and working on updating my blog for all of you, my faithful readers.

And if you actually read this entire blog, which will be long, I thank you for your patience.

Let’s start with finishing up a forgotten San Jose trip item:

_MG_0055 These are my cute little door knob pulls I bought on Santana Row! They will be on the scrapbooking cabinet once I eventually paint it “cotton ball white”. So pretty.

And then the Sixth Grade Mexican Fiesta!

_MG_0059 Sarah & her friends enjoying a taco lunch provided by some moms.

_MG_0064 Dancing the cha-cha. We borrowed the skirt – it’s actually from Mexico! We were so grateful.

_MG_0069 The 6th graders invite the 1st graders to dance with them. Sarah asked “E” from our church. They had a great time!

_MG_0087 Doing the limbo. What was really funny is that Becca & Elise were behind Sarah and of course, they just walked under the bar as if to say, “What’s the big deal?”

_MG_0149Bethany had a soccer game on Saturday – the first one I had been able to go to. It was windy, and cold, but sunny. Except. Do you see those dark clouds? Yeah, a few seconds after I took that picture the hail started coming down sideways. The girls were literally running backwards on the field because they couldn’t see if they ran into the hail. I ended up having to take Elise & Becca to the van for the last half of the game. We were drenched!

_MG_0144I did manage to get a couple shots of Bethany playing before the storm hit and I had to hid my camera under the blanket.

_MG_0130 Go, Bethany! She’s really getting into it and is not scared at all. She hasn’t scored any goals or anything, but she’s doing great. I am so proud of her!

We went straight from Bethany’s hailstorm soccer game to Sarah’s babysitting class graduation. We looked a mess, but they let her graduate, anyway.

_MG_0162 What an awesome class it was! Thanks fire department, and the Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club for sponsoring it.

When we got home, we had tons of chores waiting for us to complete before Easter.

_MG_0169 Yep, that’s Ed, pressure-washing the last bits of the mulch off the driveway. Hooray! It is gone!

To thank Ed for taking on that chore of mine, I did this:

_MG_0170 _MG_0173 _MG_0172 He liked it very much. Well, okay, I would have made the deviled eggs anyway. I had to bring them to Easter dinner. But I did let him enjoy a couple ahead of time.


Last Saturday night we had to finish up our Easter decorating projects. Our glitter eggs turned out so pretty!


And finally, it was Easter Sunday morning. Cold & windy, but sunny!

_MG_0244My beautiful girls were all smiles once I found a shady spot so they didn’t have to look into the sun.

Church and then the afternoon at my parents with Grandma, Aunt N and Uncle J!

_MG_0344_MG_0371_MG_0332 Lots of surprises there! Bethany couldn’t believe there were TWO candies in the egg and Becca was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to get the new “Goldilicious” book in her Easter bag.

_MG_0362 My mom and my aunt

Then spring break began and it has been wild ever since. On Monday I did this:

_MG_0481 _MG_0484 Willow Wind green, in case you’re wondering. So pretty. LOVE it. But painting kitchens is brutal (& I only did ONE wall!) and it takes a long time to paint two coats on those large walls. So, that was  Monday, and Tuesday was pretty much spent cleaning up the mess and putting things back. There’s nothing like getting up close and personal with your baseboards during painting to realize how much they need a good scrubbing. So of course I couldn’t just put everything back. I had to clean. A lot. I’m insane. I so have better things to do than clean. But whatever. It’s clean now.

On Wednesday afternoon we picked Ed up at work and headed to the Whatcom Museums. We had intended originally to go to the tulips, but with the cold and wind and scattered hail/sleet/snow/driving rain that we have been prone to all week, we elected to take advantage of FREE DAY at the Whatcom Museums! It was fun, but I sure am glad I didn’t pay $10 a person for that!

_MG_0384A graphic art piece called “Bloom” – the girls thought it was pretty cool.

_MG_0394  The wall of windows at the “Lightcatcher”

_MG_0419 _MG_0421 _MG_0430_MG_0403 _MG_0410 _MG_0442 _MG_0446 I found out, after taking a number of pictures inside, that no photography is allowed inside this museum. Oops. Sorry. I guess I won’t be posting them on the Internet, then. It was Ed’s fault, though. He saw a painting of old downtown Bellingham, and the Flatiron Building was on it and he wanted a picture of it. So, we have a picture, but the lady almost confiscated my camera.

After the museums, we went to Costco. Then the plan was to go for an early dinner at Olive Garden since we had a coupon. But Ed made a wrong turn. I started to kindly direct him that he should have turned left instead of going straight. He completely ignored me. I was annoyed because I thought he wanted dinner. He drove to the AT&T building, where I thought he was going to turn around. Nope. He parked, asked for my cell phone and said, “What color do you want?”


Here’s what I got:

_MG_0488 Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!

I honestly did not think I would ever want one, but in recent weeks, having more exposure to other people’s IPhone’s, I decided it would be a great accessory for me. He bought me black and then made me go in to pick out a case. As you can see, I got pink. ‘Cause I’m a girl and I like pink and I can have pink!

It’s pretty cool, though I still don’t really know how to use it.

Anyway, we did have a great dinner at Olive Garden afterwards and have so far spent far too much time setting up that phone. But it’s fun.

Yesterday Sarah had her first babysitting job while my new friend Tamara & I had coffee. We then did stuff around the house, Bethany had soccer, I ran some errands, etc.

Today one of Sarah’s friend’s from MV and her mom came for most of the day:

_MG_0480 These two have been friends since Sarah was 6 weeks old, along with another girl. It’s amazing that the 3 have stayed friends even since we moved away. Precious friendships. Hopefully lifelong.

And now, tonight, we are going swimming at the wave pool. There will be no pictures of that, sorry to disappoint.

The end.