Psalm 19:1

psalm 19:1 'the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork'

this past weekend i got to out to camp for about 24 hours and could not get this verse out of my head. my roommate and i went out to celebrate an early thanksgiving with our winter caretakers and had an awesome time.  we planned on having a thanksgiving meal with them, playing games, knitting and just visiting and hanging out with frank and rosezella.  we also had exceptionally clear skies last week and a great northern lights forecast.  

we had dinner a few hours after we got there and as we were cleaning up i stepped out onto the back porch to see that the northern lights were already starting.  we went down to the beach, built a fire and stayed out there for the next three hours talking and watching the lights.  it started out very slowly at first, with a green grow settling in behind hogsback and angel (some of our beloved mountains) and over the next three hours stretched out towards lions head while growing brighter and brighter and taller and taller. by 12:30 the lights were taking up half of the sky dancing and moving all over the place. 

it almost seemed like we were watching a concert and God was the conductor -- starting out a light glow.... brighter.... bigger.... brighter... until the sky was full of dancing lights.  

i can't believe i'm so blessed to live somewhere where seeing these beautiful lights is 'normal' and i'm thankful that God uses things like this to show me His glory and His power... that even the skies declare His glory and His handiwork.     


great is thy faithfulness

remember back in february when i started this blog that i was going to so faithfully post on?  summer got so crazy and chaotic and i never got the chance to write -- our camp internet situation was no help either.  i have survived ten weeks of summer camp and a week-long celebration of echo ranch's 50th birthday and have thankfully found myself in a few days of rest before our three week fall retreat season starts.

i don't even know where to start, but i guess a picture is worth 1,000 words so maybe this will save us all some time...

tiffany and I the night before the counselors flew home

campers around the campfire on their last night of camp

kimberly and i getting ready to guard for Mission Impossible -- a night game that we play with junior and senior high

after paint war with haley and elena

allison (a counselor) and i with two of our junior counselors

denali, a colt camper (7-9 year olds) and i on the sports field during relays 

the lifeguard chair on the beach during sunset

kristen, one of the counselors, and i at their thank-you banquet

allison and i at their good-bye bbq

these are a few glimpses of what summer looked like at echo ranch this summer.

 840 campers 
10 weeks of camp
lots and lots of rain

i've been so blessed by the five years of camp that i have served here so far -- i've seen God work in tremendous ways in my life and in the lives of others.  

last week we had a week-long celebration of 50 years of God's faithfulness to the ministry at echo ranch.  most of our past directors and many past staff members, campers and volunteers came to share parts of the week with us.  the week was full of stories of how God has been working here since the beginnings of this ministry.  it was so encouraging to hear all the stories from the past and share what is currently happening in the ministry, as well as our vision for the future.  

tomorrow we start our fall retreat season with a group from the juneau charter school.  the next three weeks we will have groups from the community joining us on retreats before we close up for the winter. 

hopefully now that we are transitioning into less of a chaotic season i'll become a little bit more consistent of a blogger again, but until then...




i'm so incredulous about the things that my job includes.  the last few weeks we have had quite a few retreats -- school groups, family camps, and most recently the BOW retreat (Becoming Outdoor Women).  We have also been visiting a few different communities to do camp rallies.  Three weekends ago a few of our staff flew to Hoonah to do a rally and two weekends ago I was a part of a group of staff who flew to Gustavus to do a rally.

yesterday i flew to angoon, the only community on admiralty island with three of our other staff and our friend carolyn.  none of the staff i traveled with had been there before and we have had a very small representation of campers from there in the past. this is a community that we have been praying to develop some connections to.  it was such an answer to prayer to be able to go there with our friend who has a family cabin there.  she was able to get us connected to the school, introduced us to people around town and even provided a place for us to stay.  

i also got my first float plane experience !  it was such a blessing and answer to prayer to visit this community and share with them about echo ranch!  

earlier today a lot of our counselors flew into town and a few more fly in tonight.  orientation starts tomorrow and after that things are crazy!

please pray for our counselors who are just getting to town, for staff who is already here, for the community of angoon, and our upcoming trip to petersburg!  there is so much going on and the Lord is so good.  



i thought about writing some sort of super meaningful 'lessons i've learned in 27 years' blog.... but i that seemed like a lotttttt of effort on a tired day.

so. instead you're getting a list of things i'm thankful for in this birthday i just experienced.

*sunny and 67 in juneau, ak on may 1.  last year it was a blizzard.

* this week we have had a work team at camp from one of my supporting churches. it's been fun to spend the week with them, and a blessing to have devotions with them this morning.  they sang to me before breakfast and after lunch.

*birthday waffles.... yes. plural.

*donut holes from the breeze-inn from cayla.

*quite the adventurous boat ride.... the seals were cool to see, but when putting your boat in the water double check the trailer is properly hooked to the tractor..... especially if there are people in it.

*dinner and milkshakes at the hot bit with mark, tonya and kyler.  what a blessing to have mark and tonya in town this past week :) yes, even mark.

*countless cards, texts and facebook posts wishing me the sweetest blessings.

now i am anxiously awaiting the arrival of zach, bethany and kimberly.

i am so blessed and thankful, today and everyday.


a typical day

people so often ask me what a typical day at camp looks like and i never have a good answer for them.  we've been at camp for a week now, opening up camp and hosting our first retreat of the year, for the montessori school in juneau.  looking back on this week, i'm reminded again of how there's no good answer to that question.

a typical day at camp looks like....

folding shirts, folding shirts, folding shirts

running the dishwasher many, many times

tables up, sweeping, mopping, tables back down.... and repeat a few hours later

a few hours in the camp store.... explaining to a little boy that we don't accept iTunes gift cards, seeing tears in his eyes as he looks up, and giving him ice cream for free.

sharing ice cream and giggles with a two year old

holding hands in a circle on sundays and singing the doxology before dinner

laser tag sign-up

coffee, lots of coffee

watching whales and sea lions play

taco bar and monster cookies

progressive cleaning parties

early morning times with Jesus in the dining hall.... with lots of coffee

friends coming 'home' for the weekend and then singing 'go, tell it on the mountain' when they leave

so that's what a typical day looks like at camp.... at least for this season.


the balance

two weeks from today i'll already be moved out to camp and hopefully things will be getting unpacked and ready for the summer.  i really can't believe that i've been back in juneau for over a month.

it's been full of people and an obscene amount of coffee.
i seriously drink so much more coffee when i'm in juneau.

this is partly because life is so busy and i need to stay awake somehow and partly because i have been meeting up with people and catching up on life, mostly over coffee.  this is definitely one of my favorite things to do while i'm in town.
i love hearing about people's lives, hearts, joys and frustrations.  our lives are so vastly different, yet something deep down inside of us is exactly the same.  

i went on a walk with a friend since being back. we talked about life and transitions back to juneau.  we talked about attempting to balance life. balancing working and people and errands and everything.

it's so hard.

i'm so thankful that my job involves SO much time with people, but something my friend said has stuck with me in the last few weeks.... 'i know i'm not going to get to the end of my life and think 'i wish i would have worked more'.'   she is so right.

there's lots of ordering and office work and emails and phone calls.... and there is literally a pile of to-do lists sitting next to me as I type this, but none of those things are going to last.  they're important and they will get done, but they're not the most important.  

i'm beyond thankful for these senior high girls that i get to pour into and so, so thankful for all those people who pour into me.

here are a few of the blessings i've been experiencing....

this week it's turned to rain, but before that we had weeks and weeks of sunshine. so rare.

i've been so blessed to have time to do things like visit my friends and their kids... and meet some sweet babies that were born while i was gone.

i made this last night to put in my apartment out at camp.  home sweet home. i love how this turned out and it's so restful for me to have a break to do something crafty.   



prayers and camp songs

i can't believe the ridiculous box that i put God in -- that we all put God in.  God is so big and works in so many ways…. and i'm pretty sure i miss it 99% of the time.  i feel like every time i recognize God working, it's some crazy thing that i can't believe--but why?  'oh my word -- God is doing these amazing things in my life!' OF COURSE HE IS. He always is.  He's good.  He's love.  He wants everyone to know His love and grace and that looks so different to everyone and in everyone.

i was just talking to a friend who has been in my life nearly forever.  we come from extremely similar families, the same hometown, are less than two months apart in age, but our lives are so different.  we now live over 3,000 miles apart and she's married and has three sweet little girls (one i have yet to meet…).  today we were sharing prayer requests and she asked me to pray for her sick little girls and rest for their family.  although i know she influences so many people's lives, she has three little lives that she is pouring into constantly.  three little girls she gets to tell about Jesus and show His love to.  that's incredible.  i know lots of people have kids, but i am just so in awe about the opportunity she has every. single. day. to teach them about Jesus and show them what loving Jesus looks like.

i asked her to please pray for me and the coffee dates i have coming up with senior high girls.  they are incredible and i love spending time with them.  we have a lot of laughs and ridiculous conversations, but i want to be real with them, too.  they each have so much going on in their lives and i want to be able to really hear their hearts and be able to pour truth into their lives.  i want to be able to offer them the truth of what God has for them, not whatever random thought happens to pop into my head.  i know God can give me those thoughts, but some of them might be me.  these opportunities i am planning for, but what other opportunities to i experience daily in which i can share God's love, truth, and grace?  how often do i recognize those?  and how often do i 100% miss them?

two of my senior high girls are on a flight right now on their way back from uganda.  over their spring break they chose to fly to uganda with a group from their school where they got to visit different schools and orphanages and i'm sure many other adventures, which i can't wait to hear about. while they were at one of the places, they were asked to sing songs with them.  earlier today i was tagged in a video on instagram of the kids in this school singing and doing motions to one of our camp songs about Jesus.  i'm so proud of these girls for taking the opportunity to go to africa and choosing to take an opportunity to teach these children a song about God.  they could have chosen any song about anything, but they chose one about God.

i am so thankful that God can and does work in everything.
in families.
in coffee date conversations.
in camp songs.


birthday cake waffles and thankful memories.

this week we (echo ranch) are having a fundraiser for our scholarship program.  a local waffle/coffee shop owner allows us to hang out at her shop, help with dishes and serving food, play camp videos, do drawings for different giveaways, and is making a special waffle just for us.  this year it is a birthday cake waffle to celebrate echo ranch's 50th birthday and all of the proceeds from this will go to our scholarship fund.  
i love our scholarship fund.
i love that kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to go to camp have a chance.  
there are all kinds of obstacles that can stand in a kid's way to get to camp, but the scholarship fund can help these kids get there.  i'm really excited for the next few days for a few reasons..

1. what a great place to hang out with the rest of the staff

2. birthday cake waffle. i shouldn't need to explain…

3. what an awesome opportunity to raise money for kids to be able to afford camp!

4. the juneau schools are on spring break this week, which means i'll get to spend a LOT of time hanging out with campers!  i've gotten to see quite a few since being back in town, but there are a ton i still can't wait to see and catch up with… especially over a cup of coffee or a birthday waffle  

if you're in juneau, you should come out to waffle co in the next few days and have a birthday cake waffle!  

it's so crazy to me that 20 years ago i had already been to echo ranch for the first time.  it was a fun trip that i'm glad i got to go on with my family, but i really never thought i would go back after that.     

Baby me hanging out at Echo Ranch for the very first time.  
i'm so thankful that the Lord took me back to camp in 2001 with my family, and then again when i was in college.  since then i've been so overwhelmed and blessed by the people i've met through working at echo ranch -- especially the campers.  

margarette, hannah and i. 2008. 
i met marge in 2007 when her and her sister abby were in one of my junior high cabins. in case you aren't sure -- that was 7 years ago…. seems like a lifetime.  since then we have kept in touch the best we can with letters, cards, phone calls, facebook, and a few rare visits.  

hannah and alisha in juneau for a track meet

visiting sweet abby at school when i went to haines for easter

last summer i got to chaperone a camper on the ferry up to haines and got to spend
the afternoon with marge, hannah and alisha. <3 

who would think three junior high girls and their camp counselor would be friends a million years later? i'm so blessed by these girls. 

2012 senior high cabin… plus kalino

this group (minus kalino…) shared an amazing week at echo ranch. late nights sharing life stories and crying and praying together… memories i won't soon forget. 

my nat nat. <3 

tutu tuesday with myriah, mikala and torah in 2013
torah and mikala were senior high campers of mine in 2012 and they were back at camp in 2013, also.  i'm so excited for them to come back as junior counselors this summer.

2013 senior high cabin
these girls are all fantastic and they are doing such amazing things with their lives.  mission trips to africa and south america, star athletes in dance, swimming, soccer and basketball, junior counselors at echo ranch… loving Jesus and people in so many different ways.

this post is a lot of pictures (oops) and a lot of feelings. i'm really pretty blessed.  i'm thankful for the years i've gotten to serve at echo ranch and for these incredible senior high girls.  i've met so many amazing campers and these are just a few of the ones who stand out to me when i think back.  in a way i feel a little bit like each one of these girls is a sister to me.  i'm so excited about their lives, the way they love Jesus, and the fact that i get to be in at least a little season of their lives.  





i've been sick and doing a lot of sleeping this week.  nothing crazy, just a bad cold/sinus/sore throat type of thing.  catching up on sleep has been great, but also so very frustrating because there is so much i want to be doing and so many people that i still want to see.

yesterday i was feeling about a million times better by lunchtime so i got up and started running errands, etc.  in the evening i was out running errands with allyson, when i got a surprising text from one of my very favorite campers who lives out of town.  'you're in juneau now, right? i'm in the airport, but only for 20 more minutes. come now!'  we detoured to the airport, i ran inside, natalie ran out of security and i got to sit there for ten minutes hearing about her life.  ten minutes goes really fast at an airport, with the super long security line moving beside you, but i can't express how thankful i am for those ten minutes to actually see natalie, give her a hug and get to talk.  such a surprising blessing.

today was another day of errands and office work.  next week echo ranch is having a fundraiser for our scholarship fund (juneau friends--it's next thursday-saturday at waffle co. be there) and along with it we will have some giveaways from our camp store.  well, everything is out at camp in the store, so we had to go out and pick things up.  i had never been out to camp in the winter, so i was more than happy to go on this little adventure with allyson and kyler.  we headed out the road after kyler got home from school where randy met us on one of the ATV's to head back into camp.  we grabbed stuff from the store, chatted with the winter caretakers, Frank and Rose, enjoyed a delicious dinner (halibut? check.) and headed back around the cove while the tide was still open. short, but sweet.    

view from one of the staff houses at camp across the bay to lions head mountain 

view from the other side of that staff house

the horses were super hungry and tried to mob kyler and i at the trading post.
this picture may not prove that point, but it was a thing. 

as we were driving around the cove on the way out.
best work driveway ever?

it was so, so good to go out to camp.  i can't believe that in 6 weeks i'll be moved out there and that will again be home for 6 months.  i'm so thankful for these little reminders this week of why i do what i do.  i can't even believe the people i get to work with and the location that i get to do it.  i'm so grateful that God allows me to serve here.  He doesn't need my help, but He let's me serve in such a beautiful location, with so many incredible people, meeting so many new friends each year, just to tell people about Him.  i'm so thankful and so undeserving.  





a week ago i was in ohio scrambling to pack up everything i thought i needed in alaska, finish last minute errands and say final good-byes.  now i've been in juneau for almost a week and i think i'm doing a rather decent job at transitioning.  i'm still exhausted and at times seeing so many 'new' people is overwhelming, but life is good.

last week consisted of seeing a few people, trying to get used to this time zone, and finally getting my hair cut !

i also journeyed to some of my favorite spots like….

the glacier !

and auke rec.

saturday morning a friend and i went to one of the local high schools for the high school regional dance team competition.  three dance teams competed, as well as quite a few cheer teams.  they were all in town for the regional basketball tournament and it was so fun to get to see so many campers and friends who were competing or who were also there to support them.
this sweet girl (who's a senior) was in town with her team and i got to watch them perform.  their team received a superior rating!  all of the teams did an awesome job and had worked really hard.

i feel like 'real life' is starting this week as i get more into doing office work and attending meetings.  feel free to say a prayer or two as i continue transitioning into life here.  thanks!




blessings and an iced chai

while traveling to juneau on tuesday i got an iced chai in the seattle airport.  i've had many chais before in my life, but the story behind this one will stick with me for a while.

my trip to alaska started out fairly routine.  my dad and our good friend paula drove me to the airport. we arrived in plenty of time and there was no one in line.

dad and i before i went through security 
 everytime i fly by myself i think it's going to be the most boring time of my life.  i anticipate that my flights are going to seem SO long and that i'll just be so bored. so. i end up packing way too many activities… and that's why this is my life on airplanes :

knitting, new girl and chocolate. to be more specific, a chocolate, peanut butter and banana candy bar. i highly recommend it.

i sat down on my second flight anticipating to spend it the same way.  the plane i was on was stopping in seattle and then continuing to honolulu.  i sat down in my aisle seat next to a couple and they asked me if i was continuing on to hawaii.  i told them no, that i was actually continuing on to juneau, alaska.  the wife exclaimed that she was originally from ketchikan, alaska (also here in southeast).  they started asking me questions about where i was originally from and what i did in alaska.  i told them that i was from ohio, but had moved to alaska to work at echo ranch bible camp, to which the wife said she had grown-up going to echo ranch in the summers.  as our flight went on they asked me several more questions about echo ranch now, how i got involved, and what i do there.  we quieted down for a while until we got closer to seattle.  they leaned over to me and handed me a piece of paper with their names on it asking me to find them on facebook so we could keep in touch.  they wanted to hear how they and their church could be praying for me and for echo ranch.  before we got off the plane they said they wanted to pray with me before i left.  when they got off the plane they first asked if i liked coffee, because they really wanted to buy me some.  they bought me an iced chai and then sat at a table and prayed for me, my travels, and the ministry at echo ranch.  

i can't tell you how blessed and encouraged i felt after this encounter.  the Lord is so good and sometimes it feels like the world is so small. how awesome to be able to meet someone who was blessed by echo ranch years ago, and who desired to bless and encourage me on our flight.  

this isn't the greatest picture, but this is my view this morning as i am writing this.  so thankful for sunny skies and living so close to the water and mountains. <3 


keep moving forward

well. the time is almost here. it's been a weekend of a lot of visits and goodbyes and any day now i'm going to start packing… hopefully tomorrow, because i leave the next morning.  truly my biggest concern right now is that i won't have room to pack my fleece dinosaur blanket and the fact that i've misplaced my iPod.  priorities, right?

saturday we journeyed to toledo and sister had her first red robin experience AND her first onion ring experience.

it seemed like something that needed documented….  we had a great lunch with my aunt, uncle and cousin and then had to say good-bye to them.  why don't people realize that things would be easier if they just moved to ak?? 

this is my cousin casey.  he's pretty much the brother I've never had and sometimes we are way too much alike.  he is a sophomore at the university of toledo and i was very hopeful that he would spend his summer in alaska with me this year, or at least that he would visit.  however, he's off on a new adventure. 

this summer he will be spending 6 weeks in croatia on a college campus telling people about the Lord.  what an awesome way for him to spend part of his summer.  selfishly i really wanted him to be in alaska, but i'm so excited and proud to see him serving the Lord, no matter what that looks like.  in the next few months he will have to raise quite a bit of money in order to be able to go on this trip with campus crusade.  if you'd like to hear more about what he'll be doing there, you can click here to email him. :) 

this guy was not one bit sad to say goodbye to me...
today involved a few more 'good-byes' and soon enough i'll be unpacking in juneau and saying so many 'hellos'.  i'm thankful for this extended ohio time, but for now i'll keep moving forward.  


midwest tribute

i drove back from indiana today thinking of the many, many times i've driven those same roads.  

spending four years at indiana wesleyan, along with having friends and family who still live in indiana, has given me plenty of opportunities to drive that same path over and over.

the same roads.
the same farms.
the same windmills.
the same little towns. 

there's something in me that loves to be near the ocean and mountains, but there's definitely something inside me that loves these midwest states.  

so here's a list for you of a few things i'm going to miss about the mid-west.

1. my family and friends (obviously.). you guys are incredible and i wouldn't be mad if you all moved to AK. just keep that in mind…

2. fields and farms.  i love them.  i've always been around them and there's something so 'homey' about them.  

3. dietsch's. if you don't know what i'm talking about, please come to findlay, ohio asap and check it out. 

4. being able to go on a long drive. you know, longer than 45 minutes. nothing can replace a long drive, down a straight road, fields on both sides, windows down, country music blaring. 

5. being able to leave town without having to purchase a ticket -- spontaneity is a blessing.  

here's to the midwest. 


scars and turn signals

i've had so many thoughts today that i felt compelled to share with the world… things about adventures that continue forever, turn signals, scars, etc.  my brains been somewhat of a jumbled up mess today, which I'm choosing to blame on the flu that i'm recovering from.

i've heard it said before 'don't be ashamed of scars, they're signs that healing has taken place'.  

i've heard quite a few people complain about scars in my lifetime, but i'm not gonna lie to you… i actually really like mine.  
i'm carrying bits of my life stories around with me…
things like:
* a concrete wall i ran into and split my chin open..
* a trailer hitch on the back of a truck that cut my leg open leaving me with a scar AND dent (maybe i should pay attention to where i walk, eh? i was just trying to go to the movies….)
* and the scar on my left arm from when i was in the hospital when i was three

funny, stupid, embarrassing, painful, etc they're scars and they're mine.  
they're part of who i am.  
they're how i got to where i am now.  

it's true about all of my physical scars and it's just as true about all of emotional scars, also.  
they're a part of me and they're signs of healing.  

i'm so thankful.  

and in conclusion -- turn signals: USE THEM. thanks.


Makin' Memories

i'm currently in indianapolis spending some time with my cousin, visiting some friends and then headed to a few universities next week for camp fairs.  

this week ahead of me contains far too many goodbyes, but that's not all the week is about.  
not even close.  

yesterday at lunch time i got to chat about all sorts of life things with my sweet friend vicki over arguably the best nachos of my life.

by dinnertime i was in indianapolis eating cajun food with one of my life-long friends and her husband.  i got to see the house they just built and moved into and the room in it that will soon be their nursery.  their home is so beautiful and is decorated with paintings and sketches done by her poppy and so many beautiful pictures full of memories.  

now i'm staying with my cousin who is more like a sister to me.  we stayed up too late talking and watching new girl on netflix in the largest, most comfortable ikea bed i have ever experienced.  this morning we made enough breakfast for 4 or 5 people and i discovered my love for both funfetti pancakes and almond milk. yum. 

the rest of our day has been full of some of my favorite things…. starbucks, target and chic fil a.  


and even a sunny day with time to go to the park

we also went to the indianapolis ice tree….. which apparently is a thing? it's enormous and pretty cool, but also, melting.  

life is so big and beautiful.  there are so many details that seem so boring or 'everyday', but they're not.  they're different and awesome and we'll never experience these exact situations again.  

i'm so thankful that this week is not about good-byes, it's about making memories with these friends in indiana that i love so much.  memories to last me for a while that i will never experience again.