Archive for September, 2011

words with friends

Ash signed up for another guest post which I couldn’t be happier about! One of those reasons being I’m currently in Pure Michigan avoiding a computer screen at all costs and secondly because Ash is a journalism major and every time she contributes I learn more about what this whole writing thing is about! So enjoy, the inner workings of Ashley’s brain…



Ramblings of the Roommate

Once again the roommate is rambling….

Michaja and I have a unique friendship.  A friendship that allows me to ramble on her blog when I am learning something about myself or life in general. We have lived together for the last 3 years. In these three years we have experienced joy, laughter, sorrow, LOTS of tears (happy and sad), sharing faith and healing broken hearts. While we are always learning different life lessons in our friendship, the most recent roasted right now is communication. Well, at least I am learning this (she has professional training in it).

Over the last 6months I have noticed that other people are commenting on how we interact with each other.  Starting with a friend saying we communicate like a married couple (which is just frightening), to jokes about our ability to understand each other when we are talking nonsense. While our friendship lends itself to a lot of teasing and jokes, which we both love,  it got me thinking- “what is it about how we communicate that is catching peoples attention?”  and “How do I communicate with everyone else?”
I am embarrassed to say that for the first time in my life I am finally being intentional with how I am interacting and communicating with people in my life.  I am not just talking about taking the time to sit down over coffee and talk about feelings, I am talking about how I communicate my interest, and create community.  In paying attention to this in the last few months I realized I don’t always allow the space for people to communicate love or friendship in their way.
At a wedding this weekend, my wedding date insisted on serving me a cup of coffee- I found myself having to resist getting up and insisting I get it myself. I sat in my chair anxious at the thought of this person having to get a cup of coffee for me… This was such a ridiculous reality check- I couldn’t understand why this was hard for me… So I mentally rattled through what my issues could be… is it because I don’t want to burden this person? or maybe I have some Beyonce type independent woman syndrome?   I know it isn’t that I believe he is incapable of getting coffee…so why am I struggling with this? And if my typical reaction would be to insist on handling it myself…what is that communicating to my friend? I know you are probably thinking, ” Ash, it’s a cup of coffee…” but it opened my eyes to how I am treating others and how my reaction could be perceived.
Now for some cheesy Christian references to Dr. Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages.  After my “coffee incident”, I decided I needed to learn more… so I did some research- and by research I mean I sat with my girl friends and took quizzes to find out what each of our Love Languages may be.  (for those who don’t know what I am talking about your love language is your primary way of expressing and interpreting love based on a book by Dr. Chapman…  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/).  Love languages aren’t just for romantic couples but is also how one communicates in friendship and community- it is each person’s natural way of showing he or she cares. In learning about my friends different languages I learned that I am often hindering people’s most desired way of communicating how they care.
Moving forward, I still have a lot to learn about how my behavior portrays my feelings, but also how I am receiving other’s love.  I guess the first step is realizing what I am saying without speech and then adapting what I deem a “natural reaction” to what I actually would like to communicate.  That is my homework… what is yours?
How do you express or receive love? Are you allowing those closest to you in your life to convey their messages of love? Do you need to sit down and let someone make you coffee?


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STORY 2011

Today is a great day.It has been filled with catching up on paperwork, planning for the GPMF benefit, and drinking lattes outside with people I like. A perfect, carefree day.

I cannot say the same about last Friday. It was definitely not a loosy goosey non-planned day. I’m pretty sure my whole day was structured out very clearly. But, there was  one similarity….it was a great day.

Last week I got to be a part of the dream team that put on STORY 2011 conference. It was an incredible experience. STORY’S tagline for the conference is “fuel for the creative class of ministry”. Meaning…I got to spend two days surrounded by artists and right brain creatives searching for inspiration and wisdom as they are pursuing their dreams. How lucky am I.

My role was co-leading the ‘surprise & delight’ team. Yes, you read that correctly, my job was to surprise and delight all of the attendee’s of the conference. DREAM!! So what did that look like…

Well, we brought in statue artists, dance teams, magicians, chef’s, bands, improv’ers all to create the ambience of organic art happening all around us during the breaks of the conference. Would you not be surprised and delighted if you turned down a corner to see a living statue standing next to you!

The band 'souls'



It was excellent to be a part of such an amazing team of people, but, an additional bonus was attending 75% of the conference. A great line up of speakers were present; Ann Voscamp, Lauren Chandler, Sean Astin(AKA RUDY!!)…the biggest take-away I had was listening to the talk given by Esther Haven’s, a photographer for Charity:Water.

Esther told her story about how she was travelling all over the world with great organizations like TOMS shoes taking pictures of people who were desperate & helpless. Always seeing each person as another sad story and how she could use these pictures to show the brokenness in our world. Never connecting with the people she was photographing. Until she took one picture, which changed how she saw her gift of photography. Instead of looking down on the people she was taking pictures of, she got down on her knees and looked up to them. She began the movement with her photography of the ‘light shines upon them’ showcasing the beauty and strength each person she encounters holds.

I connected with what she was saying because of a recent challenge that I’ve been having. I  love, love, love to be with people. I absolutely thrive in true authentic community and get energy from being with people. But…I like being around the people that I choose. I have made quite a web of excellent people that I’m honored to surround myself with, but there are 3,758,500  people that live in the City that I’ve made my home. 

I have so many things and desires I wish to accomplish during the day that moments pass so quickly. I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing, that I miss opportunities to hear someones story. To share with them a moment that could encourage them and/or encourage me.

Esther Haven’s talk encouraged me to see the beauty within each other. The beauty in my friends that I love to spend time with, and in the homeless man on Clark and Diversey that smells like death and asks me for money on a weekly basis. How many moments each day do I let pass by because of my own wants and needs. The statment she ended with was ‘I know that what I do is going to affect and change a life, and I’m going to love people along the way’.

All this to say…I’m insprired. I’m ready to live out my STORY in a big way.

Other STORY 11 Attendee’s and volunteers…what was your fav inspirational moment??? SHARE!

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There are many different ways I could write a blog post on Sept 11, 2011.

I could write about the place where I was when I first saw the image of the twin towers collapsing.

I could write about the great tragedy and pain that so many have experienced and the stories I’ve heard today about people standing up amongst the pain.

I could write about what’s it’s been like to become adult in the last ten years as our nation has faced such a significant event.

But, strangely enough, all I can think about right now is one thing; Heaven.

Currently, two very close family members of mine, my grandma and my mom’s uncle, are at a place in their life when I don’t know how many more moments I will be able to share with them.  This week I’ve been attached to my phone, waiting to hear updates, crying with my mom, praying for God’s will in an event where you’re not even sure what you hope that ‘will’ will look like.

Then I watch montages of 9/11 and see the pain in these faces knowing the hurt they’ve so closely walked through.

All these moments, indirectly experiencing through hearing 9/11 stories and directly experiencing through seeing people you love get older brings me to the same conclusion…we live in a broken world. There is so much pain, so much sorrow….but the only way I can live is knowing that this world is not my home. My hope is rooted in the fact that at times this life, is just going to flat out suck. There will be pain, so much more pain, but its nothing compared to the eternity that we have in store for us.

I think of hope as both a comfort and a confidence. Trusting that there is a wonderful, specific plan in mind for me. Knowing God will be faithful through both the good and the bad moments in this world, and in my own little life.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them to be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:3-4).

Spoiler alert, that’s the end of the book. We know how its going to turn out and one day I get to be in that place where everything is new. I long for heaven in so many ways. But one of the biggest sources of joy for me is being reunited with the ones that I love so much that are already there living out the adventures.

I can’t wait to see what things my dad has been building up there, to visit my Grandma and meet some of her friends, to get to know my Grandpa.  Ahh….its just going to be the best. 

And, maybe that’s anti-spiritual of me, but I think it’s ok because the joy and longing that I have for seeing others in heaven, and even the love that I have for people on this earth-flows directly out of the love that I have for God.

I can’t wait to see the beauty that blows our minds. I can’t wait to give the best hugs that are possible. I can’t wait til the pain and sorrows of this world are no more.

It’s going to be a great day.

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Rain is a good thing

Last weekend I was able to enjoy a weekend away in Wisconsin with a great group of wonderful friends, some old…some new.

As a Michigander at heart, I do not have much experience with Wisconsin summers. It actually feels like a far away land to me…when my friend threw out the idea of a weekend of camping in Wisconsin, I had to do a double take, thinking about how much driving that will be on my Jeep ( Henry). Then reality sets in that I live in Chicago…and the state line to Wisconsin is only an hour to the West of me.  

And the additional reality sets in that I am wilderness woman at heart so even if the idea was to drive to California to go camping…I would probably be in.


Now, one word that would sum up Labor day weekend 2011 in the midwest….RAIN!

Yes, I am a camper at heart but it is a solid fact that Camping + Rain typically does not equal fun….however an important lesson was learned over this past weekend…Anything can be fun when you’re wearing a party poncho.

The mud, the leaking tent, the damp clothes, three people sleeping inside of a jeep, minimal camping gear, mosquitos, pit toilets, crazy drunks living in a permanent residence just one campsite away quickly brought many elements into our camping weekend. There was talk 8 hours in of packing up shop and taking that quick drive back to the city just two hours away to the comfort of roofs and feather mattresses. That was, until the party poncho’s went on…

This whole weekend gave me clarity in a few areas, clarity of why I do many of the things I do…because of the story that comes from it. As we all know, sometimes life turns out really bad, sometimes the rain starts pouring and all you want to do is give up and take OFF! Your figurative leaking tent has no rain tarp in sight. Yet those moments could be the moments that inspire you to grow. That’s what I want to be all about – living a good story, and doing things that make life worthwhile, not mundane.  I want to be daily making the decision to really live life, not just roll through it in comfort and routine.

So this weekend….we put the party ponchos on. We had a 6 pack of Smirnoff ICE that provided glorious moments of commandery. We befriended a psycho who got to experience an ol fashioned revival around a campfire, and we took a stand for dancing in the rain, even when it’s not the image you typically have of fun…

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You Can Hope round 2….

little August friend

 Its Sept 2nd….which means 2 things 1) Summer is ending soon & 2)You Can Hope is back!!!

I am so excited to jump back on this bandwagon and be a writer. It was great to rest and see where my passion was…I learned that I truly missed divulging all of my feelings in a public manner. It was a loss to my life in August, a good loss, but a loss none the less. But now I’m back, and ready to take the blogging world by storm! Watch out…Here come the feelings!

Exciting changes are happening in ‘You Can Hope’ world! The biggest one being, I’m going to make a little blogging box and put myself right in the middle of it. I chatted with some bloggers and read up a bit on the highs and lows and learned that its helpful for the writer and the reader to have categories for your blog- such as ‘Sneak Peek Sundays’-to keep coming back to and filling up with writing gems…So, wait for it, here is the exclusive unveiling of the new categories that you can be privy too (insert dramatic yet suspenseful music)…

 A new category that I am a bit nervous about will be posts under ‘Living Life near the Brine’. This of course is playing off of my interesting childhood where I grew up in the beautiful, small town of Imlay City, Michigan….housing one of the biggest Vlasic pickle factories you can find in the USA. I’m fairly convinced my family and upbringing is not exactly what you would call ‘typical’. There are many quirks about me that are probably due to the interesting childhood that I experienced. Here we go…stories that should probably stay in the vault are coming out strong!


A way for me to pretend that people are interested in my life and enjoy hearing about the random lists that occupy my brain.




I know people so much funnier and smarter than me. They should definitely occupy some space on ‘You Can Hope’. Guest blogs will probably be the most popular category(said in a victim mentality voice)… I’m going to be soliciting for some words from  friends each month…but if you have words that you would love to share with our little blog community please jump on the boat with me!



And of course ‘Sneak Peek Sundays’ will not stop as I’m working on making this book a reality.

Jump on the blog boat with me.  Follow this blog so you can know when the next juicy post goes up! Just put your email in the little box on the right side of the screen. VIP subscribers will probably get prizes of some sort…Let me think on this.

To end…I need a little help from you guys…what topics should definitely be a part of ‘You Can Hope’ for September?? And what should not be….

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