The Amazing Kate

It was my second summer working on staff at Red Rock Bible camp, and it was off to a rough start. I’d had my first summer romance the year before, it had ended badly at Christmas, and now I had to spend the summer dealing with the awkwardness of working together at camp with my ex-boyfriend.

I remember being in the staff bathroom, washing my hands, when another girl came in. It was Kate, a girl I had never spoken to before, but had heard a lot about. Everyone kept talking about her, including one of my close friends, who kept saying how much she wanted to counsel together with Kate that summer, because she was sooooo amazing. I’d been watching the amazing Kate from a distance, and even though she was a few years younger than me, I felt intimidated by her. She was always surrounded by a crowd of people, usually guys, and she had this confident energy I envied. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to counsel together with her, because I was crawling into my shy self around her, ready to disguise it as snobbery.

When she came into the bathroom that day, I prepared to quietly slip out the door after mumbling a quick “hi”, but that was because I had no idea who I was dealing with….

She came right up to me and said, “I’ve been thinking about you, and wondering if it’s really hard to be on staff this summer with your ex-boyfriend. What’s that like for you?” She asked it with such kindness, compassion, and sincerity that it completely threw me off-guard.

And then, maybe because I was so caught off guard, or maybe because my natural tendency is to be really open in a one-on-one situation, or maybe because God knew I needed Kate, I ended up spilling everything out to her, and she listened like no one had ever listened before. She shared her own related experiences, made me laugh, helped to heal some wounds with all the right words.

When we came out of that bathroom 45 minutes later, Kate had my heart forever.

She’s moved far away, but every time she’s home for a visit, she faithfully messages me to arrange a coffee date, and she brings her laughter, joy, warmth, energy, and vulnerability into my life every time. She has this incredible ability to put anyone at ease, and she loves on people so hard, she’s able to convince each one that somehow, you’re making her world better just by being you, and then when she leaves, you realize she’s really the one making everything better.

And she’s still asking, “What’s that like for you?” When she came to visit this August, it came up that I’d been dealing with postpartum anxiety, and with her same old kindness and compassion, she asked, “Oh, sweetie, what’s that been like for you?” 

It’s the best question, really. There’s no judgement in it. It recognizes the fact that each of us is experiencing our own stuff, carrying our own burdens, and who can judge what that’s like, or know how it feels to walk in our shoes? Kate asks that question, and walks alongside, making the burdens seem so much more bearable.

I don’t see her nearly often enough, but whenever I do, she’s still the amazing Kate, making me laugh, always loving and caring as hard as she can.

And so it broke my heart when I was scrolling through Facebook a few weeks ago and came across this:

“Well my loves, this is not how I wanted to tell you. I need your prayers for tomorrow’s surgery. I’ve got stage four colon cancer and it’s going to be a long haul. Love you.”

I pray and cry and have hope that God will still do awesome things for and through Kate. I read tidbits about her joking around with the oncologist, and him not knowing what to make of her, or how she’s still thinking of others and loving them hard, even in the midst of all she’s going through. That sweet girl. I love her so much.


So if you think of it, pray for Kate, her husband Toban, and their little boy Zack. In the beginning, things were not looking promising, but people have been praying, God’s already doing miracles, and it’s looking much more hopeful for my dear friend. Whenever I pray for her, I keep getting the sense that God has awesome things in store for her, and the best is yet to come, no matter what happens.

Her family is doing an awesome job of keeping a blog updated – if you’d like to check it out, go here.


Last Day of Vacation

Well, this is it. After this post, my blog will return to its normal state. No more sunny, vacation pictures – it’s time to get back to normal life!

But I’ll take one more day to share some lovely memories with you…

359On that last beautiful day, Kaylia spent a large part of her morning washing the car with Uncle Joel, while the other girls played, and the rest of the adults cleaned the condo and packed up.

361We hit the pool one more time after lunch, and the girls showed off their improved swimming skills.



374 392 393After swimming, we went back to Anika’s favorite park of all the parks we visited on our trip.396407 468

414 410


It was such a beautiful evening! We ate outside at our favorite restaurant, and walked around downtown for a little bit.

Then we went back to the condo, and set our alarm nice and early for the next morning.

But…when we woke up the next morning, all ready to pack up and get to the airport, we got an email saying our flight had been changed. So we went out for breakfast instead! We walked to the restaurant on this beautiful morning…523

…and Kaylia decided she would rather hold hands with Uncle Joel than with me. That car wash must have been really bonding.524Then it was finally time to pack up and say goodbye.525And that is the end of that. So many wonderful memories!:)

You Will Need Airplanes and Passports….


“You will need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips, airplanes and passports, and new songs and old songs. But people more than anything else. You will need other people. And you will need to be that other person to someone else. A living, breathing, screaming, invitation to believe better things.” (TWLOHA, via my cousin’s Christmas letter!)

planePalm Springspalm treessaladswimmingswimmingsun

IMG_8115 IMG_8116 IMG_8122 IMG_8127 IMG_8136 IMG_8144 IMG_8146This combination of planes and passports and coffee shops and and parks and swimming pools with these awesome people is turning out to be fairly fantastic!

I wish you a wonderful weekend! I’m not really sure how to encourage you in your snowbanks, other than to say that I’m sure the warmth of your dear friends can overcome whatever weather you might be facing right now! And if you feel like living vicariously through my vacation photos, I will see you back here on Monday!;)

Some of the Best Words Ever: “See You Tomorrow”

Since moving away from camp, one of my favorite expressions has become: “See you tomorrow!”

It hit me on Wednesday, as we were all getting off the shuttle at the University of Manitoba. We’d just spent another awesome afternoon with a bunch of friends from our homeschool group, having swimming lessons and gym class together, and it was time to part ways.

swimming lessons

As everyone was calling out, “See you tomorrow!”, I felt this happy, warm feeling shoot through me, because those words are community words, and I’m a big fan of community.

To me, community means we’re sharing life. We’re connected, and we’re seeing each other on such a regular basis that we move beyond constantly needing to catch up on life, and get to talk about some of those deeper things that don’t come up as easily. We enter into deeper levels of relationship.

“See you tomorrow” means these wonderful friends I’ve just spent the day with, will spend tomorrow with me, as well! Sweet goodness. It’s almost like life back at camp.

Sometimes this amazes me a little. Like when I see my favorite neighbor every single day for a week, and she still calls me up to invite herself over.

Or the excitement I feel when I realize that next week, we’ll see our friends on Wednesday at the pool, Thursday at the church, and go on a field trip together on Friday.

Yes, it’s completely possible to get sick of the people you live in community with. I remember a conversation with Ben, shortly after we moved to camp. Some of the staff wanted to get together AGAIN for another games night, and I was still adjusting to the idea of doing everything together. I told Ben about it, and declared the solution – I needed more space from people, before they drove me crazy. I needed to take a break from being around them all the time.

But Ben said, “No, you need to spend MORE time with them. You need to spend SO MUCH time with them, that you get past the annoyance, and learn how to truly love them.”

It’s true. If you push past some of those rough friendship edges, you break into the good stuff. You reach a new level. You can start to feel like…family.

You don’t always like family, but you know they’ll always be there. Community life is the same way. Sometimes conflict or annoyances comes up, and you deal with it, and you grow closer as a result. And then you get together again tomorrow, and do it all over again.

I’m so happy and thankful to have this lovely group of people to share life with, and share the words, “See you tomorrow!”

How’s your community living going? Have you found a spot to connect with people on a regular basis?

Making Summer Awesome – Week Three

So, remember how a few weeks ago I realized that although I was pretending to think summer was awesome, I wasn’t really enjoying it?

And then we started this whole “Intentionally Making Summer Awesome” idea, and…something happened….

I was cleaning up clothes in Kaylia’s room a few days ago, just sorting through stuff, trying to figure out what she’s outgrown, and what I might need to buy her for fall. I was thinking about how it was almost time to pack away the big stack of bright, summery clothes, but then this thought popped into my head: “That’s okay, I don’t mind getting ready for fall. I think I’m okay with moving on to the next season soon, because it’s been a really great summer.”

What??! What was that, there?

Two and a half weeks, people. That’s all the time it took to turn this thing around. I have been so much happier since I figured out what was making me unhappy. The steps I’ve taken to reach my summer goals haven’t been big or impressive – they’ve just been intentional. (Here’s Week 1 and Week 2, if you missed out…)

Some of these might look familiar to you, but here’s a recap of what we’ve done during Week Three of my “Make Summer Awesome” challenge:

1) Go to the lake with friends.

Ben’s parents were gone for a few weeks this summer, and told us we could make use of their cabin while they were gone. We tend to spend a lot of time at my parents’ cabin, because summer is about the only time I get to see my family. (My parents live in Florida from October to April, so we try to make up for lost time during the summer.)

But a weekend at Ben’s parents’ cabin sounded good, and we were able to spend it with friends we love to be with, but don’t get to see very often. Beautiful weekend!


2) Give the deck a mini-makeover.

I’ve been feeling like our deck is very brown, and very bare. It needed spicing up a bit, so I headed out to the city one evening to see what kind of end-of-the-summer sales I could find for patio accessories. Pickings were slim, but I managed to find what I need for $25, and happily checked this item off my list.


When I asked Ben’s opinion on my new outdoor cushions, he studied them for a second, and then said, “Well, I can’t see myself using them for anything.”

I tried to explain that they’re not for using – they’re just for looking pretty!

3) Put on a Homeschool Forum.

Last spring, my friend invited me to drive out to Winkler with her for a Homeschool Forum. It was a great evening – very encouraging and informative. A panel of parents answered a series of questions about how and why they homeschooled their kids, and I was able to pick up many great tips for the evening.

We decided to try the same idea in Niverville, and it was great! I loved listening to the many different opinions and ideas that were shared, and I loved being able to share the night with other parents who are seeking advise and ideas.

4) Take pictures at the Mennonite Landing.

I love the Mennonite Landing. There’s trees, and water, and when camp seems too far away, this place will fit my craving.

I’ve taken pictures there in fall and winter, but not spring and summer, so it was my goal to get down there to add another season to my collection of photos.

Mennonite Landing

What have you been up to? Back into the swing of things with fall? Squeezing out the last drops of summer before the end of August?

One Year In

Tomorrow it will be exactly a year since we moved away from Red Rock Bible Camp, and started our new adventure in Niverville.

People have been asking me how the year has been, which has gotten me thinking and reflecting. Here’s what we’re loving so far:


We are loving the people we get to live life with here in Niverville. “Community” looks different than it did at camp, but God has been so good, and has blessed us with really amazing friends. We also joined a family discipleship group and meet on a weekly basis, which has been fantastic.

I loved living with the people at camp, and I miss the way we shared life out there, but we’re starting to see how this could all work out here in “the real world”. It’s taken us a little while to get used to how different relationships happen out here, when you’re not sharing three meals a day with all your friends, but we’re happy to find that it’s still possible to become close to the people we love!

May 2012 122


One of the hardest parts of making a major change was not knowing what our “new life” was going to look like – I just couldn’t picture it while we were still living at camp, preparing to move.

But now it feels normal and comfortable, and we still feel like “us”. We didn’t get lost in the shuffle! Which is kind of amazing, because the lifestyle at camp is quite different than anywhere else. I loved our routine out there, and how we did family. I was worried we would lose what was important to us.

But we haven’t, and although some things look a little different, we’ve been able to take what we learned at camp, and bring it with us into this new chapter.



I love, love, love being at home. I love our house. But things were a bit bumpy in the beginning, which I wasn’t expecting. Since we got to choose everything about our house, I thought it would be like a dream come true to move in.

I’m not sure if it was very high, unrealistic expectations, or just the adjustment, but it took a few months for this to really feel like home. It wasn’t perfect. It was still just a house, and it didn’t magically transform my life, just because we moved in. It took some getting used to, and I felt a little lost, for awhile.

I’m done feeling lost. My roots are in. This is home. And that is a lovely feeling.


It has been a great year. I feel we have transitioned much better than I was anticipating, which is a wonderful surprise.

I am ready to dive right in to Year Two!

34 Days of Favorites: New Friends

I love sturdy, old friendships that have stood the test of time.

But I have to say, I’m also totally loving new friendships right now. Having just moved a few months ago, new friendships are a new favorite we’ve been experiencing around here.

People find this hard to understand, because we moved back to the town we previously lived in for five years. But things have changed a lot since the last time this was home. We have some old friends here whom we love a lot, but we’re excited about new friendships, too.

Funny how I didn’t think much about that before we moved. I was very concerned about Anika’s social needs, wondering how she would adapt and make new friends, but I never considered my own needs.

Yet here I am, surprised by God’s goodness, over and over, as He sends people into our lives.

There are two women who have saved me since our move. Saved me, because I’d forgotten how life can feel a bit dumped upside down after moving.

And then they showed up, and now I can find my way again.

One of them is not technically a “new” friend – I knew her in college, and then we lost touch, and I hadn’t seen or heard from her in many years. But we connected again this last year, and now she brings all this richness into my life which blesses me and makes me feel like this place could be home.

She calls me up and asks if she can quickly drop something off for me, and then she spends a little bit of time sharing life with me.

I don’t think she really knows what she truly does for me, just by giving me the gift of spontaneous connection – by showing up at my door with little notice, the way I’m used to from all those years at camp.

And then there’s my sweet new friend whom I’ve written about here and here. She phones on a Saturday night, wondering if it’s too last minute to ask if we can go for coffee.

I’m so tired from the day, but suddenly I realize that a good long talk and a change of scenery is exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

She drops me off at the end of the evening, and we still stand talking in front of my dark house, my family all fast asleep already, and finally we have to cut ourselves off from so much to say, because we’ll carry on next time.

I didn’t know there was an emptiness that needed to be filled until these ladies started to fill it. I already have some wonderful friendships, and wasn’t really thinking I had a huge need to add to the collection.

But oh, do I ever! Because who could say no to such rich gifts!

So when Ben says a new family has moved down the street, my first thought is, “Thank goodness I made extra chocolate chip squares. We can bring some over tomorrow evening.” I was shown such warmth and welcome, it makes me want to pass it on.

But my very next thought is such a silly one: “Maybe that would be weird – they have so many neighbors right around them that are probably welcoming them here already, maybe they don’t need us to stop by, too.”

What, because they might make too many friends on this street? Or they’re not feeling as dumped out in a new life as we were? Because it’s possible to feel too welcomed to a new home??


Good grief, grab the squares and get over to their house! What if everyone were thinking the same thing? “Someone else will do it.”

Yes. Someone like me.

Because it’s all about people. And my life is so full and rich, with old and new, and I am thankful.

Now I have to ask – have you ever made a completely unexpected friendship? Are you having any current adventures in making new friends? Do share!!

(Read more about “34 Days of Favorites” here.)

An Answer to Prayer Knocked on Our Door Yesterday

Well, I’ve been reminded once again that my faith is too small.

I was reading the Bible to Anika before bed, and I read these verses from John:

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

And I thought to myself, “How often do I settle for the vision of the fig tree, when God is thinking, ‘Good grief, that was nothing! Just wait until you see what else I have planned!’

How often does He long for me to expect big things from Him?

A few months ago, while we were still living at camp, Anika and I were having a bedtime talk, and she told me how worried she was about making new friends in Niverville when we moved. I suggested we pray about it, and ask God to bring a friend into her life.

She was very excited about this idea, so we got right to work, and she started confidently, and very specifically, asking God to send her a friend, who would live on the same street as us, and be homeschooled, so she wouldn’t get lonely in the afternoons.

I experienced a moment of panic, and began silently (frantically) praying for God to keep her faith intact when this impossible request would not be filled. Seriously, what were the chances of that happening?

And God sat there listening to all this, possibly shaking His head at me??

I answered a knock at the door yesterday, and there stood the masonry man, who turned out to be from my hometown. I didn’t recognize him at first, seeing as it’s been many, many years since we were in school together, but we figured out all the connections.

As he was working on our house today, we started chatting, and he said it would be great if we could meet his family. He also has two little girls, and he was wondering if we might like some grass to play on, for a nice change from our yard of dirt.

I told him we would be all over that idea, and would love to meet a new family, as we are on the hunt for kids to play with, especially since Anika is homeschooled and all.

And then he got all excited, and said they were homeschooling their daughter, and live about three houses down from us, and I should totally call his wife, and of course become best friends, and he had already sent her a text asking her to bring him a drink or something, just so we could somehow all meet.

Everything worked out in the end, and we had such a fantastic time with his lovely family.

And you know what? When Anika starts making bold, detailed requests of God in the future, I will just go with it.

Last night, I even prayed for more little girls to move onto our street.

Homeschooled ones! 🙂

Weekend Favorites, Morgan Style

I received a wonderful surprise yesterday on Facebook. Our fantastic friend Morgan (who we’ll just label as our official family photographer?!) was over on the weekend, along with some other Red Rock Bible Camp friends, and she took a bunch of pictures of the time we had together.

She is such an amazing photographer, and over this last year, has taken a bunch of pictures of our family that are totally my favorites:

Isn’t she amazing?

Anyway, the pictures she took of us on the weekend meant so much to me for a few reasons:

  1. My camera battery is dead, and the charger is lost in some box somewhere that has yet to be unpacked, despite my best, most organized efforts to keep such a thing from happening. No more pictures until I’ve unpacked everything!!
  2. We loved having camp people over. Let’s make it official? “Camp Fix” at Ben and Kendra’s, first Sunday of every month?! 🙂 Or something. It was a fun day. I wanted pictures of it, but was resigned to the dead battery.
  3. These pictures are so us – the little things we do all the time, captured forever. I bet I’ll love these even more when our girlies are all grown up.

So here we go. Thanks to Morgan, I present…Weekend Favorites:

Hurray for sunshine and parks and family and friends.

Wishing you a week full of favorites!