Thursday, December 25, 2008

.i hate this part.

tonight, i am experiencing a hint of what it must feel like to have your house become an empty nest. of course, i don't yet have kids, so i can't say i really know, but for the last 6 days and nights this house (my parents' house) has been filled with the sounds of my favorite 3 and a half year old little girl.

for 6 sun-ups and 6 sun-downs, we have laughed and played, sang and read books, baked and chit-chatted, me and my niece. and this evening... she left. i sit here in the house - that last night was bustling with 9 of us opening gifts, playing cards, eating "happy birthday baby Jesus" cake - and tonight i grieve the fact that it feels so empty. i mean, i like my brothers, their girlfriends and my cousin an awful lot, but they are not why this house and my heart feel empty. the void is my girl. amazing that 4 christmases ago she didn't exist and now she occupies such a large place in my heart. as she and her 2 best friends (her daddy and her doggy) pulled away tonight, my parents and i waved goodbye through tears. it doesn't get any easier...

so now, i sit here on christmas night - not a creature stirring - and wish so badly that my heart could feel as full as it's felt for the last 6 days. i want her back. it's selfish, i know, because her mommy's missed her i'm sure, but i want her back.

i am grateful for the time i had with her this week as it's more than i normally get when i come back to texas, but i hate this part. i think about this night years and years ago when mary gave birth to Jesus. she did so knowing full well that she'd have to let him go and be with his Father, and i'm certain she had the same type of sentiment... i hate this part. but "this part" doesn't strip me of the joy we've had the last 6 days and those are the memories that i will choose to celebrate through the tears tonight. merry christmas y'all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

.the atypical gripe.

i have a gripe tonight against someone who you could say has become a dear friend over the last 10 or 15 years of my life. don't take this as an insulting-our-friendship-is-over type of gripe. so not the case. it's just a venting-type of gripe because i need to get it out. this complaint is being filed against my well-loved, well-traveled, well-respected friend, southwest airlines.

now, i must say i did arrive only 10 minutes late in total travel time - a marvel for most airlines these days and a marvel for any air travel considering today's weather on the west coast. i made my connection by about 4 minutes and got to texas just in time. for that i'm grateful (because isn't the rule always to compliment before speaking truth?).

my complaint is this:
i made it, but my luggage did not.

this is not the end of the world. what is a bit frustrating is that it was allegedly arriving at 10:10, and when i called at 10:20, that flight is delayed until 11:45pm. i get it, it happens. their solution to this is to deliver my luggage here to my parents' house shortly after it arrives, but they call when they're on their way. did you hear that? they call on their way - at 12:30 in the morning.

so you mean to tell me that first you lose my luggage at 10 am and then you call and wake me up in the middle of the night to let me know you're bringing it? fan-flippin'-tastic. just how i wanted to start my vacation... but southwest, tomorrow, once i have my underwear and toothbrush back (not to mention my entire family's christmas gifts), i will be fine and we will be friends again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

.blame it on grad school.

it's been almost a week since i finished my grad school assignments for this quarter. how i did in the classes is irrelevant at this moment, what matters is that i finished. there were a few things to thank for getting me through the hardest quarter i've had yet. the first is "the office" for providing much needed comic relief on thursday nights, the second is my dear sweet friends who know me well and convinced me that because of my distaste for school, getting my Ph.D. is out of the question and i needed to focus on passing this quarter. the third may be my dearest friend of the semester - starbucks skinny cinnamon dulce lattes.

now, i must confess something. i asked for starbucks cards for my birthday in late october so that i could "survive" the quarter from hell without having to go uncaffeinated because i'm unemployed. i'm ridiculously grateful to my parents, grandparents and others who provided accordingly. the only problem is... i fear i am officially an addict.

how did i realize this, you might ask? well, i got done with school 6 days ago and realized today that of those 6 days, i haven't missed a starbucks run. i used to blame my latte cravings on grad school. i have 4 weeks off - what do i blame it on now? addiction? entirely possible. i'm grateful for my friend who pointed out that there are much worse things i could be dependent on to get me through school - alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, you name it. his vice is slurpees, mine is lattes. neither is all that destructive of a choice. thanks, john, for the confidence boost and the validation. what am i doing tomorrow morning at 10? meeting a college friend at starbucks . what will i order? a skinny cinnamon dulce latte, please. and without asking, they will know my name is bree... because i'm an addict. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

.the other side of the fog.

tonight i went to dinner with some friends and when we walked out of the restaurant, there was fog - lots of it. i then went back to church for an hour and while i was at church, i worried. i thought about the fog that i was going to have to drive in on the freeway and i worried. i didn't like the idea of not being able to see very far in front of me... what if there were no other cars on the road? what about that poorly lit, really big hill i have to drive up to get to my house? what if i can't see a car coming around the corner head on? all these thoughts as i left church to get in my car to drive home.

i got on the road and you know what? i couldn't see 5 yards in front of me, i did almost miss a stop sign and it was tough to drive on the freeway for a little stretch. as i was driving i looked in my rear view mirror and saw the condensation from the fog dripping slowly and steadily like tear drops down my back windshield. and then... about 5 miles down the freeway it was completely clear. unbelievably clear. God taught me a few things tonight...

- that He will allow me to see only as much as he wants me to right in front of me. the rest He will keep foggy because only He needs to know what tomorrow holds.

- that when i am in the fog, there will likely be tears, more of them than normal, possibly a heavy stream of them and that's okay.

- that i worry too much about that "big hill" up ahead when He's already got that figured out, He's already cleared that road.

- that when the road clears and the tears subside, the hill is no longer daunting and i can see for miles.

it's in the fog that i am forced to trust, that he draws me close. those times are so worth the clearing on the other side of the fog.

Lord, there is fog in this season, so i pray that i will learn to trust, learn to need you, learn to embrace the tears that come with it. and that i will not look to the big hill ahead, but instead i'll keep my eyes on the step you've put in front of me and wait until i'm on the other side. it is there that i find hope.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

.prove me wrong.

"Don't let my doubts prove true
Draw me close and hold me near to you
Keep me still until the day you

Cast out my doubts, please prove me wrong
'Cause these demons can be so headstrong

Make my walls fall, please prove me wrong
'Cause this resentment's been building

Burn them up with your fire so strong
if you can before I bail, please prove me wrong"

this is what i'm praying today. in my heart, i know that i don't doubt who He is or that He's up to good. But in my head, in my small, small world, i sometimes doubt. there's a piece of me that feels like bailing - not on God, not on what i believe in, but on sacrifice. i want to bail on moving out and working at church and just get a job - it would ensure that i am comfortable and complacent - things that i want but i know God doesn't want them for me. so that's why i pray for the doubt to be cast out... for eternal perspective... to be held near to Him in transition and questions. Yahweh, remind me that it's worth it, every bit of it is worth living a life of surrender, remind me of that today...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

.thank you, officer.

a story worth blogging...

i am driving to meet an old friend for lunch today. meeting time - noon. time of incident - 11:59. i'm on palm, which if you live in orange you know is the quasi-main drag to get you to chapman university or old town. now because it's main drag-ish, one would think the speed limit is 35 not 25, right? or perhaps one never looks at speed limits and drives however fast seems appropriate (not me, of course)...

so i'm blocks from my destination and look in my rear view mirror only to see a motorcycle cop with his lights flashing behind me. well let's just say, i'm pretty sure it was his second, at best third day on the job and i'm relatively certain that he assumed i was about 19 years old. he kept talking to me about the college students that go to my school and how dangerous it is to drive fast in a college neighborhood, where old people live as well. is 41 fast? not the last time i checked...

then he proceeds to hand me my ticket, tell me my driving record is clear and then this follows:

day 3 on the job cop: "have you ever gotten a ticket before?"
me: "yes i have"
day 3 on the job cop: "well this is your ticket and right here it says how fast you were going"
me: "thank you" (trying to grab the ticket from his hand and get on the road)
day 3 on the job cop: (with radar gun in hand) "now, this is radar, not laser and i can show you so that you don't think i'm lying - you were going 41, you see? 41."
me: "got it, i believe you. thanks."
day 3 on the job cop: "have you ever heard of traffic school?"
me: THOUGHT - "really? are you serious right now? have you ever heard that people don't like being made to feel like children and they also don't like to make small talk with cops who just cost them a couple hundred dollars?"
me: REAL WORDS - "yes sir, i've taken it before."
day 3 on the job cop: "well, if you take it, your ticket will be wiped off your record completely. like it never even happened. i think that'd be a really great option for you."
me: "your opinion is appreciated. thank you. have a great day."
day 3 on the job cop: saying something as i'm rolling up my window and pulling away - no clue what more was said, but it was likely profound and insightful.

seriously, the dude really wanted to chit-chat and i really wanted to go have lunch with my friend and be done with him. i mean, you'd think that at the police academy they teach you to get your business done and get on with your day. not so with this cat. he was one in a million.

so thank you, officer - for the 16 mile an hour over speeding ticket, for the 12 minute conversation, for making me feel 17 and for causing me to miss the first 14 minutes of lunch with my friend. thank you for all of that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


i started reflecting on the last few years of my life - mostly the years since i started doing ministry vocationally, which has been since august of 2004. now, let's not forget that reflecting has been kind of my thing the last few months because i have no vision to go towards, no concrete future plans, so the default is to reflect. while i realize this is both healthy and helpful, i also realize that it makes me nuts!

what i've internalized this week is how much i've grown. when i started doing vocational ministry at 23, i was scared out of my mind, so self-conscious, a people-pleaser, someone who at my core wasn't sure the whole "sharing my faith" with people thing was for me. i was innocent enough to think there was a perfect ministry and blinded enough to think i was working for it! i relied fully on the ideas and experiences of my colleagues and i made sure i never shared my opinion in public forums for fear that it might not be right.

like this picture of my niece, i needed someone to hold me. i was oblivious and insecure and in my ignorance had no idea what was coming. i am not that person anymore.

i have grown - immensely.

i now, at almost 28 feel like i have a valid voice in ministry, any ministry, not just the one that has become "home" to me the last 5 years. i feel like i can stand confidently on my own two feet - like people will respect what i have to say because i've been through the fire with junior high, high school and college students the last 10 years, and especially the last 4 on Young Life staff. i have learned to do things i never thought possible and when they were achieved, to smile knowing God and i had accomplished something significant. i know now to hold ministry positions lightly because they were never mine to begin with and will not be mine in the end. this posture in itself has enabled me to be in a 9 month transition without fear of what God will do with me next. i know He'll take me somewhere and i know i'll have to hold that lightly too because only He knows what's next and what's best.

this last month has been an odd transition into college ministry at church because first of all - i feel 22 and like i just finished college, but being 28 and in college ministry automatically makes me "older." boo. and second of all - to feel like i have a small voice in the lives of some potential 3000 orange county college students is a bigger and more humbling burden than i'd ever have chosen to carry. my hope and prayer in this is that through the next 10 years of ministry (wherever that might be),that i will grow twice as much as i have the last 10 years and that God in all His wisdom and grace will continue to allow me to have a small part in the real life of His kingdom.

...and that like my niece, when i get to the top of this next climb, that i will have the same confident look of accomplishment, self-contentment and satisfaction, knowing that i did something i never thought i could do. thanks be to God.

Monday, September 29, 2008

.big kingdom - small step.

so much of my life is tied together and it is all interwoven by His capable hands - even the stuff i neglect to notice or am too busy to thank Him for. today was one of those days when i watched some of the interweaving happening right before my eyes. today God showed up...

i'm in a weird place in my life where i feel insignificant and voice-less. i feel like where i am is stripped down, broken, aimless and insecure. i know God has me here for a reason - this place makes me vulnerable and malleable. my normal place of competence and security does not. He has ever-so-gently and subtly taken away all my authority, consistency, vision and security - i am bare bones and i hate it. all i know is that i'm called to this step, this step that will last 6-9 months and beyond this step, i have been given nothing. that scares the living daylights out of me. and i don't like this step, but i do like the breadcrumbs.

like the manna of the old testament, i get random breadcrumbs along the way to assure me that i'm on the right track. today, He gave me a few.

- the first was the prayer of a dear friend over the phone at midnight that God would just do something in my life and ease me of my fear and anxiety in the midst of the questions and frustration.

- the second was the opportunity to do an odd job for a friend's work that turned into just the right amount to pay the bills & gas through the end of the month - coincidence? i think not.

- the third, an unexpected divine appointment with a newer friend who gave me much needed eternal perspective on breadcrumbs, this step and the kingdom.

i realized tonight that God's kingdom is big - huge, massive, infinite - this step in my life is so very small in comparison, but my friend helped me realize that it is so very big in being revolutionary for the upside down kingdom He longs to bring. in surrendering all my life, plans, goals, rights and entitlements, i'm inviting God to use me and to work in me in ways that wouldn't be possible if i continued to control my stuff (time, money, living situation, job, ministry, etc). i realize now that i am in for it. and i have a choice - i can be anxious about step or i can be thankful that He's called little me to something huge in His kingdom and just enjoy the ride...

my prayer is that i'll wake up each morning for the next 6-9 months with eternal perspective, a breadcrumb or two and a thankful heart that He's called me to this journey.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


again - once again, God had proven Himself faithful. why am i still surprised by this? you'd think for someone who met Jesus when i was 12 - a good 15 years later that i'd have figured out that God is faithful by now.

do i know this is true? yes (in my heart at least)
do i doubt this is true? yes (in my head i do at times)

this is my conflict. in my heart i know that God is faithful - so STINKIN' faithful it can be eerie. but in my head, because i'm human and often times not so smart, i doubt that this is true because i can't see things the way He sees them and i want to tangibly see them in a way i can understand. but does that change the fact that He is faithful? NO - unquestionably no.

so... here i am today, amazed by his faithfulness in my life and the life of my dear friend. we spent the weekend laughing harder than i've laughed in a long time, having brutally honest conversation, eating great food and just loving to be together. we split ways this afternoon, each having a "faithful in the little things" assignment and we re-convened by phone tonight.

what we discovered was that when we are faithful in the little things, He will leave us amazed at who He is and echo our mustard seed-sized faithfulness with His faithfulness BEYOND what we could have asked or imagined. thank you, Lord for being faithful and thank you, Emily for being "that friend."

Saturday, September 6, 2008


hollywood on a friday night...

don't know anywhere else like it and there's a piece of me that wishes i didn't live quite-so-close. it's a bit crazy, but there's this weird sort of charm that accompanies the insanity of it all.

4 of us girls, feeling spunky and 21 again, loaded up and drove to hollywood at about 9:45 last night for a concert of a friend of a friend. really, it was just a reason to get out and do something. here are a few of the highlights:

1) paying $12 to park in the wrong parking lot and walk 4 blocks when there was a spot about 4 steps from the venue was charging $4.50
2) getting to bust out the GPS on the iPhone for the first time to figure out where the heck the "M Bar" was
3) getting told by a guy off the street that he'd pay us $450 an hour - flattering, really, but we'll have to pass
4) being in a place where we were very possibly the ONLY ones who didn't have some association to the musician, but yet being very possibly his loudest fans
5) walking back to the car at 1:00 am and stopping to pay our respects to the "stars" of john wayne, michael jackson and ruth hussey (we're not sure who she is either, but the fact that her last name is hussey makes her likeable in our book!)

6) going to bed at 2:15am and feeling like we were really cool for staying out late (though it happens all of once or twice a year)

all in all - 4 fun girls, one friday night, an adventure indeed. this is one of those days when i'm sooooo not jealous of my friends at home with crying kids - perfectly content to be where i'm at.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

.first day of school.

i had my "first day of school today." my mom would be so proud because i went out of my way to introduce myself and make friends and i even hung out with the "teacher."

no, i'm not back in grade school. no, i'm not even in a new grad school class - those start in 3 weeks. today marks the first day of my quasi-internship at rock harbor (the church i attend). granted, i have been a faithful attendee for 5 plus years now so the church isn't new, but the role most definitely is. i will be acting as the right-hand woman in college ministry for the coming school year, starting today.

i walked into a room promptly at 9am for a three hour staff and spouses meeting. i found a seat next to my one friend and his wife and i felt like the new kid on the first day of school at a brand new school where all the kids know each other. it was a fantastically awkward feeling. which, if you know me, you're probably thinking, "are you kidding, bree? you're one of the most social people i know!" agreed... except in this kind of a situation where i wish i was a snail or a turtle and had a shell to crawl into.

i sat there attentively for 3 hours, learned a ton and even got to absorb ridiculous amounts of wisdom and biblical context on prayer, which was amazing. at the end, we were told to break up into groups of 4 or 5 and pray together. i turn around to join a group and none other than the "rabbi" of all teaching pastors was sitting in my group. awesome. i know my voice probably shook a little from the pressure of praying in his group, but the good news is, i never have to have another first day on the job at rock harbor. it's all down hill from here. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

. be merciful.

Out from the deep I call
To Thee O Lord to Thee
Before thy throne I fall
Be merciful to me

Be merciful to me
Be merciful to me
Through shadow dark and valley deep
Be merciful to me

From the garden to the cross
Thy mercy did endure
My soul purged from all dross
In blood made pure

Be merciful to me
Be merciful to me
Through shadow dark and valley deep
Be merciful to me

Thy mercy Lord is true
As ever truth will be
But still I cry for you
Be merciful to me

~Caedmon's Call

today I cry mercy on behalf of those i love who are in shadows dark and valleys deep. my heart's burden is really for those of my dear friends who have siblings in the midst of struggles. it is a place that can be daunting and hopeless to feel like there is nothing more you can do to help a sibling who is hurting. all we can do is ask Him who is Mercy to be merciful in the face of life's uncertainties and in our questions to recognize HE STILL IS. i will pray just enough hope for today and that His mercies may be "new every morning". may His blood be enough to heal the wounds.

Monday, August 25, 2008

.daily integrity.

there is a part of me that has always been called to live a life of integrity. it's as if it was there when i was born - i was the kid and am now the adult who feels incessantly compelled to do what's right. now, i'm not trying to say that i always do the right thing or that i am perfect. i claim nothing of the sort. i mess up more often than i'd ever like to admit, but i do feel compelled to tell the truth when i do something wrong and to be accountable to trying to fix it the next time.

yes, i was that kid in elementary school who fessed up even when i could have gotten away with it, that kid who cried when teachers were disappointed in my behavior or my grades, that kid who always wanted to get along with my friends because that's what good kids are supposed to do. i was and still am the "good kid."

this is why my heart is not settled when i see people living without integrity. i mean, if we claim to be Christians our calling is to a life that represents Christ, right? and if we're representing Christ then we should be living with integrity, living a life "above reproach" where people can't point fingers at the way we live. of course, we're fallen, imperfect people, but if we truly are succeeding more times than we're failing and if we are 100% committed to being Jesus to others, then our choice is not a choice that we make once in our lives - it is DAILY.
"Then he (Jesus) said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." - Luke 9:23

I like this tid-bit on self-denial... "You have the freedom to determine what self-denial looks like in your own life, but are warned that you will have to give account to God for your conclusion." - Walter Henrichsen

So this is where I land: denying myself, taking up my cross and following Jesus is a daily decision. By doing this, I am choosing each day to live with integrity and I'm convinced it's more than once each day - it's probably more like once each hour that I'm asked to make a decision based on my ethical compass and how I think Christ would have me act in that situation. I pray people will know and respect me as someone that lives out my life with integrity and purpose and that when i fall (not IF, but WHEN), that those who love me will have the grace to forgive me and pick me up and that I will do that for others - daily.

Monday, August 18, 2008

.trust. (the sequel) - .sweetly broken.

for me, learning how to trust means letting go. it means being broken.

i am one of those people who has everything under control, all the time. my superiors, my friends, my parents genuinely don't worry about me because they know i'll figure it out somehow, someway. and i usually do, except when it comes to matters of the heart.

i hate things over which i have no control - i.e. my heart and my emotions - so i typically try to avoid all things that involve that. this is not to say that i am incapable of deeply loving others or having legit relationships - this is never an issue for me. i'm willing to give of myself and to share my life like an open book. it's when my emotions get involved that i start to freak out.

i'm not a cryer by nature. it happens maybe a half a dozen times a year, but when it happens, i mean it happens. this is when i know that i'm letting go of something or that God finally has control of something that never belonged to me in the first place. last night, following the sermon at church, it happened. me = a pile of tears during worship. we're talking the kind of tears that won't stop (thank God for waterproof mascara and my dear friend,erin). I was in a place of being "sweetly broken, wholly surrendered." words i was unable to sing because there were so many tears.

but what relief. i left there feeling better than i've felt in weeks - having clarity on what needs to be let go of, knowing exactly how to take the steps to do that and now just trusting that God knows what He's doing and that He ALWAYS has my best interest in mind. how much easier would my life be if i had done that weeks ago? oh, sweet surrender.

Friday, August 15, 2008

.gas prices.

it's random to blog about gas prices, but they are eating me up today because they are preventing me from doing things i want to do.

for example:
- i've driven down to "south county" everyday this week be it for meetings or to hang out, i've done it daily and i had to say no to a friend today because i just can't drive to south county again and use that much gas. it's taking its toll.
- i would love to go to vegas or pismo or santa cruz or go wine tasting for the long weekend, but am not seeing it happening because gas is too much, maybe more than flying to those places.
- i am stressing about and dreading driving to pasadena twice a week for school because i know the toll that the 2 hour plus commute is going to have on my pocketbook.
- i would be thrilled to be able to go visit a dear friend and her new baby in williams, arizona, but i just can't justify spending that much on gas.

i know this is a season of cutting back for me being that i'm a full time student again and i have essentially no disposable income, but i hate that this is my life. i hate that the people that are my community, my dear friends are taking the brunt of me not being able to afford gas right now. i'm not adjusting well to my new way of life and i'm not adjusting well to the rising gas prices. so there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


this is what God has put on my heart today. don't be afraid, just trust.

why is this so flippin' hard? i can't do it today. i can't trust because that would cause me to relinquish my control. it would cause me to surrender any power i have in my life and live with blind faith. i lived with blind faith the day i met Jesus and decided that i believed that the Bible was true and that Jesus could save me and forgive my sins. why can't live with that same child-like blind faith today when i am confronted with situations where worry and fear pop into my mind and heart first?

why can i not trust that He will provide? hasn't He always? has He not proven Himself to me time and again and allowed me to see in all situations of my life that HE IS GOOD?

because i failed at it today, my goal for tomorrow is to trust that His character is good more than trusting my own ability to understand my circumstances. He will hold me in His strong arms and love me regardless of my inability to do what He's asked. because He loves me, tomorrow i will choose to trust (and i'll let you know how that goes for me)...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

.making changes.

team, i am determined.

i am determined to make some changes to the way we do family vacations around here. i have now been in san diego for the better part of 2 weeks with my family, vacationing at a beach house.

now, if you don't know me, let me take a moment to explain something. when i say "beach house" and "vacation" and "family", remove the picture from your head and replace it with 7 beach/bay houses filled with crazy, loud, home-grown, farmin' dutch people, likely around 60 of us in all, in and out the last few weeks. you think i'm kidding, but i'm not - ask margie, sarah & justin or dustin. they can attest.

we thoroughly enjoy getting together and this is just my mom's side of the family (think "my big fat greek wedding" but without the wedding and with dutch people" - scary). we have made a few changes in the right direction the last few years, i will be honest. the boys have started to drink a little less hard alcohol, we've added about 6 small children on top of the 20 who are now "big children", some married, some single, some students - probably attributing to the decline in alcohol consumption & sometimes earlier bedtimes. we have begun to focus more on my grandparents as we realize that time is precious and they are the reason we've all remained so close-knit. we've started going to church together on sunday mornings at "church on the beach" (that's a sight to see).

but here's what i'd change - if i had things my way we'd have
- more apples to apples game nights
- more time with all of us sitting listening to my immigrant grandfather tell stories (bring the beer if you must)
- more sailing, windsurfing & bike riding excursions with my 80 year old grandpa who we all seem to think will live forever
- more early morning coffees with cinnamon rolls in the patio listening to the waves
- more "divine appointments" and intentional meetings with cousins i haven't caught up with in a while
- more nuzzling sweet week-old babies while watching a movie together
- more boogie boarding with my 50 year old parents, just because we can
- more time walking with my 3 year old niece, finding shells and singing "i have decided to follow Jesus"

- more of a push for everyone to make it happen again next year and not let one person say they can't come, even if it's just for a day.

i'm grateful for 2 weeks on the beach, for a family that values time spent together, for grandparents who've been the glue and foundation, for this place that is peace and joy to my soul.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


cravings come in all shapes and sizes. they are also very relative to your circumstances as well as your mental and physical state of being. like sometimes i crave sugar, sometimes starch, sometimes a nap, other times to sit on the couch & do nothing, sometimes water, other times attention... you get the point.

well, i'm in the middle of a lovely thing called the "Daniel Fast" and if i was really savvy, i'd put the link on here, but look it up - it's legit. it's not a "fast" in the way people tend to think of fasting (no food, just water, etc.), but instead it's a fast from things that our body doesn't deem necessary, but yet we consume them because we as Americans are just that - consumers. now i'm 2 weeks into a 3 week fast and am eating only fruit, vegetables & whole grains and man am i ever learning things.

the biggest things i've learned are 1) you get headaches when you deny yourself sugar 2) you are cranky when you detox from sugar & starch, 3) you are WAY more in touch with yourself and your body when you are not always grabbing food to go, or shoving energy down your throat. 4) your body is a whole being that we often times tend to compartmentalize.

allow me to explain that last sentence. in the last 2 weeks, i have learned more about myself than i ever wanted to know. when you are only eating fruits, vegetables & whole grains (and that is not your normal diet), you go bananas and you eat lot of bananas. but it has made me so much more self-aware because i'm conscious of what i'm putting in my body, but my body is physically reacting to the withdrawals of certain foods and i'm having to constantly pay attention to what my body is telling me. for instance, when i do an hour long spin class with no sugar or white flour or meat in my body, i feel like i'm going to pass out about 25 minutes in, so i've learned to compensate for that by eating more for breakfast on those days. or everyday around 3pm, when i usually pump a little sugar into the bloodstream to keep me alive & kickin, i get a headache & get super cranky, so i'm learning how to curb that with sweet fruit for a snack, or with a desperate prayer. my spiritual, psychological and physical being have never been more interconnected than they have the last 2 weeks and i think there is great value in learning how to live as a more whole human being.

i'm grateful for this "fast" because it's teaching me that it's really not about me. it's teaching me that we are a selfish people who do what we want and eat what we want when we want it, and this is teaching me to deprive myself of things that i may be more self-aware and more aware of and dependent on Christ to meet my needs throughout the day. i'm also grateful because it is instilling healthier eating habits into my life that i hope to infuse more regularly following this time period...

...but today, for the first time in 2 weeks, i craved a glass of red wine in a way that i haven't craved anything in a long, long time. and today, i had to deny myself that craving and live with the tension until the craving subsided and that was worth way more than the guilt of satisfying the craving would have been. today's craving built character - self control, dependence, sacrifice and discipline. i'm grateful for cravings and i'm grateful for a God who sustains.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


in honor of my twenty-fifth post, i decide to post twenty five things that define me for whatever reason...

1) my niece because she is a part of me in a way i've never experienced before and because she teaches me how to love unconditionally.
2) lab puppies because their ears and paws are too big for their little bodies and they make me melt

3) texas because it's "home"
4) california because it's where i'm putting down my "first roots"
5) the color yellow, i have no good reason why, it just makes me happy
6) grace because too often i fall and need His grace to right me again
7) my parents because they raised me to love Jesus and to respect my elders, yet gave me the freedom to become who I need to be - they are generosity and faithfulness
8) babies because of their sheer innocence and peace, they are irresistible to me
9) volleyball because hours on the court on multiple teams through my adolescence shaped much of who i am and gave me the love of the game
10) writing and photography because they are my creative outlets
11) my grandpa because the way he loves Jesus is unmatched by anyone i know this side of heaven, and he's really funny
12) the beach because it reminds me of how big God is and calms my soul
13) butter popcorn jelly bellies because they're the underdog
14) traveling because it allows me to go outside of myself and experience life
15) ministering to teenagers because it's clearly God-given :) and it makes my soul come alive
16) my younger brother because he has the greatest sense of humor and the most tender heart - he is pure joy and humility
17) my older brother because he speaks truth and he loves people well, he is authenticity and consistency
18) san diego because it is a place of childhood happiness for me and is still my favorite yearly retreat
19) cheese because my dad is a dairy farmer and it's just yummy goodness

20) young life because working for them for 5 years has changed me in ways i could never have imagined and has given me a passion that feeds my soul
21) my heritage because it helps me understand me, it gives me pride and purpose to know that my grandparents immigrated to give us a better life
22) my dad's mom because she is wisdom and strength in the midst of physical ailments and her fair share of difficulty in life
23) my running shoes because they signify that my body is healthy enough to exercise and they are a symbol of my physical outlet
24) my friends because they accept me and love me - the good and the bad, and they give me the opportunity to truly live in community and learn what it means to love wholly and unselfishly. i would not be where i am without the durable, consistent friends i have in my life and i'm grateful

25) Jesus defines me like nothing else ever could because without Him, my soul is empty, my life is incomplete. He is everything. He is the reason I choose to love others, He is why I am in seminary and why I want to be in ministry the rest of my life, He is ridiculously forgiving, He loves everything about me, which I cannot fathom. He never fails.

Friday, July 11, 2008

.the flag still stands for freedom.

...and they can't take that away. famous words from the old lee greenwood song rang true this fourth of july in plainview, texas.

two of my favorite people - one eighty years old and one three years old - both proudly waved the flag while the older taught the younger how to sing God Bless America.

a weekend surrounded by family reminded me of what's important in life - loving God and loving people. it also reminded me that we are a blessed people whose freedom has come at a price. people sacrifice their lives so that we can get groceries without fear of being caught in a cross fire, and we can get on our public transportation without a bomb threat, and we can speak freely of our faith in Jesus without being put to death or scrutinized, and we can fall peacefully asleep at 10pm and wake up at 7am without fearing for our lives during those hours.

on the 8th of july, i crossed the border from el paso into mexico with my dad for the afternoon and was immediately reminded of how grateful I am that our country is clean and safe, as mexico is in the midst of a daunting drug battle. we are so privileged. i am proud to be an American and i salute those who have served and are serving to ensure our freedom. The challenge now is to go to those places where people do not have freedom and peace and to impart what we know to be true of a life with Jesus, so that they too may have the opportunity to live with blessed assurance.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

.ten years.

this summer marks ten years.

- ten years since i graduated high school (scary!)
- ten years since i moved 8 hours from home to go to college
- ten years since i met my best friend from college

and here alisha and i sit, 10 years later in boston, celebrating our friendship.

she and her husband are living here for the better part of 2 years and i decided i needed to come check out new england this week. as we sat talking over guacamole & chardonnay, we discovered that it has indeed been ten years since we met.

we met in colby hall at tcu. we lived 4 doors down and we were both dutch. we had both lived in california. our families were weirdly connected (which happens when you're dutch) and our lives became intertwined on day one at tcu in the freshman dorms. i was 17, she was 18 and in our naivety, we had no idea what the next 10 years of our lives would bring.

COLLEGE - freshman dorms, fraternities & sororities, meeting ronnee (our 3rd muskateer) psychotic roommates, boyfriend break-ups, studying abroad in spain (another blog!), a great church, alisha meeting her husband (ryan) at a tcu/army football game, living with the volleyball girls in sweet community.

THE NEXT 4 YEARS - both of us moving back to california, planning alisha's wedding and move to hawaii, ryan being deployed to afghanistan, my first years of teaching spanish and a very broken relationship, alisha going to grad school in new york city, alisha & ryan moving to washington dc following ryan's deployment, my career change into ministry.

THE PAST FEW YEARS - tough first years of marriage for many of our dear friends, tough first years in ministry for me, ryan's acceptance into business school and a move to boston for them, my decision to quit young life staff and finish grad school in pasadena.

so here we are - all caught up, 10 years later. no longer 17 and 18 year old girls, but 27 and 28 year old women with ten years of laughter, tears, heartache, joy, pain, hope and promise as our credentials. we are together this weekend in boston - never dreaming either of us would be here, legitimately amazed by God's good grace in our lives and wondering at how He truly does hold us in the palm of His hand. i literally sit here and type this in awe of how He's carried us from those girls to these women, carefully molding and shaping us each step of the way.

so tonight i raise a toast to alisha,

to our sisterhood, to the next ten years that will, God-willing, find us both living in california with husbands and babies, working in ministry and social work, still in awe of who He is and how He continues to shape us. thank you for your faithful friendship. my love for you is unwavering.

Monday, June 9, 2008

.small victories.

i love small victories.

things like the vitamin water being on sale the day you needed to replenish, or your passport being right where you found it after years of dormancy, or your orchids and tulips blooming the day of the party at your house.

i love small victories.

today there were a few and i'm grateful...

small victory #1 - the plumber came and did a 5 minute fix on our shower that's been out of commission for 4 days (don't worry, we showered somewhere else!)

small victory #2 - i had no food for dinner and refused to buy some before going out of town, so i made up a recipe for biscuits and sweet diddle, it worked!

small victory #3 - i frantically researched the weather in boston, praying it'd be cooler than the 94-98 degree temps they've been having and the day i get there, it cools down about 20 degrees, thank you God!

small victory #4 - my dear friend's little girl, anna, hung out with me all morning without getting injured, without tears and without missing her mama. auntie bree scored major points this morning, and she even blew me kisses!

small victory #5 - (and today's biggest so far) - i started and completed a 10 page paper for grad school that's due on wednesday - i'm 48 hours early! productivity is bliss!

not-so-small victory #6 - will be in about 2 hours when my city league volleyball team takes the league championship for this season!!!! we're a bunch of misfits, but we love to play and we play hard and it is OUR TURN TO WIN. so tonight, with 5 victories under my belt for the day, i WILL accomplish a sixth (fingers crossed)!

wish me luck!

p.s. - we won!!! we are the champions.

victory is awfully sweet...

Friday, June 6, 2008

.dishwasher hum.

tonight, before i headed to bed, i started the dishwasher. i looked around the kitchen, made sure everything was put away, turned out all the remaining traces of light in the living areas of the house and walked down the hall. as i walked, i heard the hum of the dishwasher in the background.

i was brushing my teeth and stopped myself mid-brush... to listen again. and then i heard it. it was my mom.

the hum of the dishwasher brought flashbacks of my mom. that sound seems to be something from my childhood that was comforting, somewhat affirming to me. when the dishwasher was on at bedtime, it meant that all was well in the household. it meant that my dad, my brothers and i were fed, the dishes were loaded, the lights turned off and everyone was on their way to a good night's rest. it was my mom who loaded that dishwasher and turned it on night after night and it was my mom who was the source of consistency in my childhood.

and tonight, as i loaded the dishwasher (that runs once a week) in my house full of mid-20's roommates, i said a prayer that someday, hopefully someday soon, i will be the consistent-dishwasher-hum-mom for some little sleeping babies and a big sleeping husband. i prayed that every night i will take pride in my household enough to not go to bed until my dishes are loaded and my countertops wiped. i am ready for a full dishwasher.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

.beauty for ashes.

i'll take an unfair exchange. i'd like to trade my ashes in for some beauty.

in Isaiah 61, which grad school prompted me to write a 13 page paper on recently, the writer speaks about trading in ashes for beauty - basically wiping out the things in our lives that resemble ashes (the symbol of mourning & sadness) and trading them for beauty - how gracious is our God!

i love this picture - enough to think i maybe even wanted something remotely symbolizing it in a tattoo and then physically freaked in the tattoo parlor (clearly not a good decision for me), but i do love the metaphor.

here are a few examples of my ashes and the beauty i'd like them to be transformed into...
- confident expectation for uncertainty
- joy for fear
- strength for weariness
- grace for guilt
- security for uncertainty
- purpose for aimlessness
- peace for restlessness

and this just scratches the surface. but the last week or so i've really been faced with the reality of what this means in my life and how i can begin to allow God to make those changes in me.

my prayer this week is that i'll be enabled to start that journey from beauty to ashes , that He will walk with me down this new path of hope and promise, and as i take baby steps and often fall, that He'll pick me up.

in my mind, my new path looks much like the path pictured above - a path that mere months ago was dry and barren, covered with rocks and dirt, now is lined with fully grown yellow flowers and green grass that lead to the most unimaginable destination. oh that i will have the capability to change those things in my life and to grow through them to the vastness the new horizon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

.where the wildflowers grow.

.the whole being.

my day today was one of not much productivity (well of the business/school sort), but i think it was necessary for my own growth. let me explain...

i left the house around 1pm to go to the gym, knocked out my 5.35 miles and then went straight to the high school to pick up one of my young life kids and hang out with her. she wanted to go to starbucks, so we did. we got there and got swept up in conversation - a deeper conversation than is normal with her. we talked about her boyfriend who now loves Jesus, her own walk with God, her relationship with her parents, her friendships, how we convey God to others, etc. it was really a solid conversation and in the midst of it, the man next to us came over and asked if we were christians.

all of a sudden, i remembered something - i had FORGOTTEN to put on makeup. i normally don't go anywhere after the gym, but today i did and i had no makeup on. but talking with my high school girl, talking about Jesus and real life, i had forgotten who i was on the outside for about an hour and then the man from the next table snapped me back into reality.

the funny thing was that yesterday, adorned with much makeup i was SOOOO self-conscious about everything i am and today, this random man in starbucks is complementing me because i look way younger than 27 and i'm a beautiful girl. God is good and never ceases to awe me. i literally switched from spiritual being to carnal being in 2 seconds - and then God so quickly reminded me that i am a "whole being" and i need to see myself as whole, complete, beloved and beautiful.

with that i leave a few pictures from a photo shoot i did yesterday for a few of my high school friends - both of them beautiful inside & out - their whole being, just as splendid as they appear.

thank God for that sweet reminder of belonging in Christ and allowing the soul to matter more than this earthly shell.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

.you can have all this world, but give me Jesus.

i have this small group of girls - 8 of them in all, they are amazing. they come from lives completely alternative to my own. according to the world i know and love, they have it rough. they live in rough neighborhoods where my blood pressure rises out of fear when i drive them home. they live in homes where peace is not commonly felt or known. many of them are raised by only one parent or the other, rarely both. they live the antithesis of what my life was at 16 years old - and they live it with courage and strength. they made a choice to love and follow Jesus this past summer and are truly learning what that means on tuesday afternoons at our house - and they do this alone, most often with parents who are ridiculously non-supportive. they are my heroes.

this is who they are - this is all they know and they'll say, "i don't really have that many bad days, i have a great life." but about 30 minutes into digging into the word and inevitably digging into our lives, because that's what Jesus is good at - they break. it's typical to have tears and we embrace them, we walk through them, we grieve their lives and we try to let Healing offer hope for tomorrow. these days, tuesdays are my favorite days - they are the days where i most see Jesus at work.

today, one of my girls asked me a really raw question - she said, "Bree, do you ever get sick of parents telling you they don't want their kids over at your house or getting kicked off high school campuses because they don't want you to talk to us about Jesus?" and i said no. i said no because when you live a life of ministry, this is what you can expect - that the world will neither appreciate nor be excited about what you're doing because they won't understand. and i said no because this is what i was created for - because if myself and my co-leader, katie weren't pursuing this, these girls would not be sitting in my living room talking about Jesus on tuesday afternoons. and i deserve none of the credit for my lack of consistency and lack of preparedness - none. He is just stinkin' faithful, day after day.

a friend of mine articulates it well in saying, "Who would enter heaven clean, manicured and adorned with the world's riches? The notion is complete insanity. We were made to enter heaven bloody and broken. Like we just got down off a cross."

i want that - i want the blood and brokenness, the highest highs and the lowest lows - bring it and let me settle for nothing less in this life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

.oh thank heaven.

oh thank heaven... for little girls. i had the absolute privilege of hanging out with two of the world's cutest little girls and their mommies today. charlie rose, my step-cousin and anna jean, my dear friend's daughter.

i captured a few sweet moments with these girls on balboa peninsula and in getting home and looking at the pictures saw how perfect their skin is, how unprocessed their feathery hair is, how innocent their cries are - just how untainted they are at one year old.

so today, i thank heaven for charlie and anna, for the friendship of their mommies and for their beautiful grins and honest straight faces. i was blessed by the day and will continue to live it through these pictures.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

.my father's laughter.

today, at wells fargo in my little town, i heard my father. i heard my father in rare form, a form that is usually reserved for fun parties, vacations or when my 2 year old niece does something hysterical.

i was walking out of the bank and off to the left, i heard the laughter of two middle aged men, a gut laughter. one of them sounded identical to my father and in that moment, my heart jumped. i think not only because it sounded like my daddy's laugh, but because that kind of laugh in his life is pretty rare. between balancing growing businesses, helping my brothers succeed in their businesses, building a new house and trying to help run a ministry in mexico, that gut laughter from my middle aged dad is a delicacy.

over christmas it happened... my two year old niece was taking imaginary bugs out of her hair and then she pulled "really stinky" imaginary bugs out of her armpits and we all gut laughed. all 8 of us adults sitting at the table. that was the last time i heard my dad's joy truly exuding from him. it is beautiful and magical.

so today, when i heard the laughter of those two men outside, i exited the building, glanced in their direction and a big smile crossed my face because of my dad, 2000 miles away. today that was my gift - the gift of my daddy's laugh, here in my back yard. thank you, abba.

Monday, February 4, 2008

.the smell of winter.

tonight, as i was walking out to my car after playing an intense, victorious game of city league volleyball - i smelled winter. it really may have been the first time this year that i've smelled winter in orange county. so often, it smells like exhaust-created smog or sweet summertime or salty ocean air, but tonight it was good old fashioned winter. it was texas in december with chimney smoke and crisp, cool air. it was both refreshing and intense.

it took me back to my childhood home where my dad would light the fire place with REAL wooden logs, my mom would let us drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and and stay up late and my brothers and i would embrace winter and actually pretend like we wanted to be around each other! it's pretty rare to get to embrace winter around here, but i was grateful for the 48 degrees tonight - that is winter where i now live.

this is home. the people i come home to each night and hang out with on the weekends are "family." they're as family to me as my own flesh and blood family is and i couldn't be more grateful. i am content. i am content with 48 degree winter nights, content with the roots i've put down in this place, content with all that surrounds me. it is well with my soul.

Monday, January 21, 2008

.the struggle.

some days i struggle. if i'm honest, most days i struggle. with what? with the fact that life on earth cannot be what it is in heaven. i struggle because all the tears we cry are not tears of joy - because there's sin and trials - because people are imperfect and they hurt you, whether it's their intent or not - because it's a daily fight to do what's right and to be a better person - because i fail often - because i miss my family - because i cannot sit with my Jesus and have a conversation, face to face.

these are the reasons i struggle and this is today's struggle. listening to this song by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton brought tears today making me think about how sweet that day will be - when i'll stand forever in the light of His amazing grace. today's struggle is one day closer to tomorrow's sweet promise. fight on, my soul. soon enough, the day will come...

When I get where I'm going
on the far side of the sky.
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly.

I'm gonna land beside a lion,
and run my fingers through his mane.
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles,
I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Don't cry for me down here.

I'm gonna walk with my grandaddy,
and he'll match me step for step,
and I'll tell him how I missed him,
every minute since he left.
Then I'll hug his neck.

So much pain and so much darkness,
in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can't answer,
so much work to do.

But when I get where I'm going,
and I see my Maker's face.
I'll stand forever in the light,
of His amazing grace.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
I will love and have no fear.
When I get where I'm going.
Yeah when I get where I'm going.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

.a healing season.

i've officially decided that the ocean is good for the soul, therefore, i'm grateful to live mere miles from it! i am in san diego this weekend, peering out over mission bay as the sun heads over the water on its way out for the day, and i am grateful. i am grateful for a weekend of reflection, peace and healing. for a weekend to see a few friends whom i haven't seen in a while and let my soul be restored by laughter and great conversation. for some space from my life, my (dirty) house, my job and my reality.

for me, right now, i need to heal. i need to be restored. i need to remember that my Abba is bigger than anything i will face in this day, month, year or even in this life. i need to have more mission bay weekends where i am reminded of his mercies, as new as the sun rising up over the bay each morning. great is Your faithfulness, o Lord... great is Your faithfulness. and grateful is your little girl.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


how does one really get motivated to do something? i mean, obviously it has to be internal, intrinsic. something inside you has to say - "okay, here i go, i'm gonna do this." but how do you force your mind to convince your body that it wants to do that? it's a battle, a struggle, a constant fight for me to get my body to actually do what my mind says it should be doing. for instance - my mind says, "get up and run 8 miles, you're running a 1/2 marathon in 4 weeks." my body says, "ya frickin' right. fat chance." my mind says, "go out of your comfort zone, meet new people, branch out." my body says, " i'm scared. i can't do that. i like the monotony and safety of my life." so i guess it's a 2008 goal - to get my body to extrinsically do what my mind is telling me is best for me. so, 2008 - here we go. body, listen. mind, continue to speak truth.