Aug 29, 2014

Home Again

For almost a month now Titus and I have been back home in Michigan.
I did a wonderful job blogging during the last few weeks of camp, huh? :) Camp was amazing, & definitely needed for us. I especially needed the study through Philippians 2, because it exposed how little I truly love people and how incredibly arrogant and prideful I am in the face of God.
He is definitely continuing to work in me in these areas and it has been so amazing to experience God's faithful love and patience.

Since being back home we have had a ton of downtime, which has been great! But we have also had the blessing of having some adventures :)

One of the first weekends we were home, we went to downtown Detroit to explore Eastern Market. Eastern Market is a six-block public/open market that has been in existence since 1891! There were so many wonderful veggies, fruits, & local products. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.

That same day, we went over to Belle Isle; back in its hay-day it was absolutely gorgeous! It is still gorgeous, but there are parts of it that have sadly been neglected. It has a rich history that is worth reading :) 

Belle Isle Conservatory (Beautiful greenhouse!)

The James Scott Fountain on the Island (Which is funny, because Titus' middle name is James...:)

I love this man of mine who is up for anything!

The oldest aquarium in America!

The Belle Isle zoo was all blocked off; it closed in the early two-thousands. It was most recently used in one of the scenes of the 2011 movie "Real Steel." I SOOOOO wanted to go in and get pictures, but even I will admit that probably isn't the best idea. But you can see more pictures on this blog-post

After exploring the island, we set off for another abandoned site: Detroit's Central Station. This too was completely blocked off, but such a gorgeous building! You need to see pictures of the sad. Check them out here.
There are talks of renovations happening soon, but no one knows for sure. 

One hint of renewal came as we turned away from the station and were walking back to our car; in the small grassy field there were dozens of people gather...homeless. Suddenly I felt very conspicuous, similar to when I have traveled abroad to third world countries. These decaying, crumbling buildings are kind of cool to me...exploring urban decay seems like an adventure. For these people, this is the state of so much of their city right now. Rich history and beautiful areas falling into a state of unrest and ruin. I felt guilt. My heart goes out to so many who suffer daily all over the world while I get to enjoy my comfortable life.
As we got closer, we saw that about half of the people had matching shirts and were not only bringing hot meals, but also just talking with individuals. Not in a condescending way either, but in a loving, caring way.  We didn't want to intrude, but we did look up their ministry when we got home & found that this is something they do often.

God has given Titus & I such a deep burden for the people of Detroit, and recently we have been so encouraged not only to hear of and see so many people with the same burden, but also to hear so many stories of people whose lives are being transformed by the power of the gospel. Often I get overwhelmed by the enormity of the issues and broken lives, but I have been learning that God does not ever get overwhelmed, and He works in individuals...patiently and personally. And when whole communities of individuals are being transformed, whole communities and cities are transformed and there are areas in Detroit where that is happening.

God has not left Detroit; Pray for Detroit! 

Jul 15, 2014

What Do You Have That You Have Not Been Given?

Our culture has a widespread sickness. It goes by several different names; entitlement; instant gratification; the "I deserve ______" complex, just to name a few. This sickness is easy to recognize in other people's lives, but somehow sneaks into our own more discreetly. 
This summer as we have studied through Philippians with the camp staff, we have particularly focused on chapter two and the example of humility in Christ. The Lord has exposed a strain of that same sickness in my life; its name is Pride. Pride is an ugly word, and an even uglier character trait. 
As I have been studying in Corinthians in my own personal devotions, the Lord drew my attention to II Corinthians chapter 3, and particularly verse 5: "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."

Two questions came to mind through which the Lord exposed areas of Pride in my life. As you read them and some of the examples I give from my own life, I would encourage you to examine your own heart through these same questions.

1: How do I try to be self-sufficient?
  • I don't like asking for help, even when I obviously need it.
  • I often respond badly to correction.
  • I go through entire days/weeks without praying intentionally & confessing my need for God.
  • I often give scripture-less counsel.
  • I don't often live in a way that actually requires faith; I live carefully inside my own resources & abilities.
  • I search for solutions to problems within myself, then talk to others about it, then if the problem is still there, then I'll pray about it.
  • I interact with others as though I am the one who can change them.
  • I guard the things I'm good at and I am unwilling to serve in areas that expose my weaknesses.

2: What do I claim as coming from myself?
  • Often I take pride in my knowledge of scripture, as if the desire for things of God came from within me.
  • I claim any kind act I do as coming from me rather than God's work in my life to be more like Christ in loving others.
  • Anything thing I've "earned"
    • Accomplishments
    • Position
    • Possessions
    • Relationships

The lists are far more extensive than these, but too complex to explain in a blog post as my flesh loves to deceive me into claiming any good thing as coming from me. But as Paul reminds us in Romans 7, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." Any good thing that comes from me is only the result of God's mercy in my life & the work of His Holy Spirit. And any good thing that comes to me, I am not entitled to; I did not earn it; I do not deserve it. As I Corinthians 4:7 asks, "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"

Without the mercy of God and the work of Christ in my life, I am spiritually destitute.
Agreeing with God about our true state leaves very little room for pride. Cultivating a thankful heart leaves very little room for pride. 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV

Jul 8, 2014

Sunsets and Pasta

Hello all!

I hope that you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!
Titus and I were very busy on Saturday, but got to spend some sweet time together Sunday. Here at camp we have what we call "power groups." That group contains one leadership team member, & then 3-4 op-staff, counselors, and other staff members. This makes up the group that we study Philippians with each week, it also provides accountability & encouragement throughout the summer as we grow to be close friends! We also have "power group projects," which is an act of service that each group is expected to do over the course of the summer. Our group chose to send a newly-wed staff couple on a date night. And when I say newly-wed, I mean they had only been married a little over 2 weeks before they jumped into the insane busyness of camp. So they can definitely use a night away together! So we got a dress, jewelry, & a gift card to a really cute restaurant for them. Since all shopping is at least 45 minutes away, it took a good part of Saturday to get it together. But we had a ton of fun together!When I got back, I began cooking for a get-together Titus & I have been planning for a while.
I have personally been challenged through Titus 3 (the Bible passage, not my husband---though he is awesome!) about being hospitable, and using our resources to serve and encourage others. So we had my power group, Titus' powergroup, the logistics team, & a few friends over for some pasta! It was a ton of fun! We don't have furniture in our apartment here at camp, so we all just sat on the floor =)

Here are links to the recipes we made; they are some of our favorites!
  • One Pot Pasta; this one is super easy and quick! I usually get some spicy sausage & add it too =)
  • Garlic Alfredo Sauce; by far the group favorite! Another simple, quick recipe.
  • Pad Thai; my current favorite recipe. It even got approval from our friend, Moses, who is from Laos & eats authentic Thai food most of the time!

There is something special here at Northland about the sunsets; each one has been so spectacular! Titus & I enjoyed a walk around campus after everyone had left from our pasta night, & then we made it back just in time before a storm hit! 

This week has been really good so far. We have a wonderful mix of campers; some I counseled from 2 years ago, so it has been fun to see them again! Please pray for our staff and campers this week; there are many first time campers here; many seniors; there is a large group of Burmese and Chinese campers who speak little to no English, so pray that this week would be fun for them & not overwhelming. Pray that campers would taste & see that God is good, & have a desire for His word & to continue growing after camp. Pray for many staff who are sick, especially counselors. Pray for the sponsors, some of which have been through a hard year of ministry & just need some encouragement. And please pray that we as a staff would continue to grow through the Philippians study. It has been so impacting, but this is the time of the summer when we tend to get more self-reliant & work in our own strength instead of God's. We need God to work, or nothing of eternal importance will happen. Pray that God would do a great work this summer! 

Thank you in advance for your prayers! If you would like to listen to the study through Philippians, I highly recommend taking the time to do so! You can find all of the sermons from this summer at

Jun 29, 2014

Food For Thought: Blog Day

If you have never explored John Piper's website, you are missing out on a vast resource for personal growth in Christ. There are over twenty years worth of sermons catagorized from topic to passage; blog articles by solid writers on almost every topic, as well as a wealth of other resources. Seriously, head over to!

The blog entry that caught my eye today is entitled, "Putting Your City in its Place." 
I won't restate the article, but be sure you read it through! Great thoughts on why it isn't enough to just reach a city with the gospel by planting a church or sending a missionary, but that darkness transcends geographic lines & is more about individuals. I know people that live within a mile of our church & have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel...bottom line---be where you are, God has put you there for a reason. You have a unique group of friends, co-workers, grocery store attendants, hair stylists, etc, that need YOU to show them Christ. Go where the gospel isn' your own community!! 

Enough of me, go read: Putting Your City in its Place

Jun 27, 2014

{May}hem & the Catch-up Game

Hello all!

Well, here we go again---my bi-monthly post with promises of being more consistent...we'll see how the consistency part goes! =)

The Lord has been so good to Titus & I, and in the past few months I feel that we have, by God's grace, grown individually and as a couple. It seems like the Lord is preparing us for a specific ministry in Detroit & I am so thankful that He has blessed me with Titus, who is the strength to all of my weaknesses.

Speaking of my handsome hubby, he had an awesome opportunity back in May to take a 10 day mission trip to Brasil to help construct a church.

The Lord allowed them to get a lot down & make some great friendships, but I missed Titus so much!
One morning, he sent me a facebook message & told me he had had an accident, but "don't worry, nothing serious. It is actually pretty funny!" Well, later in the day I had an opportunity to Skype with him wasn't funny! Long story short, if you look in the picture above you can see the construction site. There were high walls of clay all around, & one of those big chunks of clay (about 1000lbs I was told) fell on Titus' head while he was working with a pick ax. It pushed him down the hill, pick ax & all, and several of the Brasilian construction workers said it was the scariest accident they had seen in over 20yrs. Titus walked away with some bruises & cuts, but he was completely fine! Praise the Lord! Such a reminder though to be so thankful for my loved ones, & to not pray so flippantly about safety.

These twins got very attached to Titus in the short time he was there. Titus gave a great challenge in church after he returned; we don't have to travel halfway across the world to engage in "missions." We have missions in our own backyard. Needy people who don't know how much Christ loves them, & the only thing they know of Christians is the hypocritical ones they know, or the angry, condescending legalistic stereotype that all of us have encountered at one point or another. Why not get out into your community & find just one person you can be Christ's hands & feet for?

The rest of May and the beginning of June was a blur as school wrapped up, I got to go up to Wisconsin unexpectedly to surprise my mom as she graduated with her degree in accounting! I am SOOOOO proud of her hard work and perseverance. She has always been such an example to me, & I am so thankful for her & the opportunity to be her daughter =)

Titus & I will be spending the rest of this month & most of July at Northland Camp; the place God has used greatly in both of our lives. Titus has quite a lot of responsibilities & I am so proud of him for the long hours he works, & also his care for those around him. I am working as the finance secretary, which I have actually enjoyed quite a bit! I stay busy, but God has also given me some extra time to read more, work on my TESOL class, & talk with others. It has been refreshing & much needed after so much change & honestly--- a few months of draining work in the daycare. The study of Philippians that we are doing this summer has been so rebuking, but also encouraging for me. God is just teaching me once again of His goodness and faithfulness, & I am so thankful for all He has given me.

Apr 13, 2014

A Series of Fortunate Events

Well, I am building my way up to regularly blogging! I am determined to get there :) For now, I'll fill you in on the past few weeks.
Spring break actually had a small sliver of spring weather after a brutal winter. Unfortunately, I came down with the nastiest stomach flu I've ever I was quarantined inside our apartment for the day that it snowed! Thankfully, I recovered quickly (with the care of my sweet husband), & on Thursday we were able to carry out the plans we'd had for the day we both had off.
Though Detroit has been given quite a stigma recently, many areas of it are still very beautiful & great to explore! I have been dying to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts for several months, so we finally made it down there. 

We spent several hours enjoying all of the exhibits! Our favorites were the Egyptian exhibit, & the other ancient exhibits. Though many of the paintings were breathtaking!

Later that evening, we had the awesome privilege of going to see the Casting Crowns "Thrive", blown away by how blessed I was! I a so thankful for Mark Hall's ministry. The band still serves at their local church Sunday through Wednesday, then they do concerts Thursday through Saturday. Before each concert, the group walks through each venue...every aisle...and they pray for all the people who will be attending that evening. Their new album is based on the concept of taking root deeply into God's word, then reaching out & loving others. Just like the tree described in Psalm 1; it serves its purpose best when it is receiving nutrients. We as Christians can be friendly towards people all we want, but if it is not based in the truth of the gospel, it is frivolous. On the flip side, we can study all we want & master theological arguments, yet if we are not loving others with what we are learning, that also is not fulfilling the purpose that God made us for. As believers, we must study God's Word earnestly, then as James says---real faith works! Don't be a hearer only...put what you read into action & reach out to love on others & point them to Christ!

Thanks to the generosity of so many people, we still have some gift cards from our wedding! We enjoyed a fun date night at Red Lobster the following evening :)

Then...we got a puppy!! It was on St. Patricks day! We named him Mason, & he is a sweetheart. 

When we first got him, all he wanted to do was he's a bit more mischievous. 

See how sweet he was? He still is...but he has become VERY attached to Titus...he hardly comes to me when Titus is home. Except while I was writing this post he kept trying to climb into my lap. Haha! What a stinker :)

My series of fortunate events continued by God allowing me to meet up with these sweet friends from college. Debbie & Grace were on spring break, & I was in the area to accompany some of our highschool students in the MACS competition. We shopped, got starbucks, & went out for sushi! It was such an unexpected blessing, & I am so thankful it worked out!! God is so kind to give so many gifts :)

Mar 8, 2014

Two Week Wrap!

Crazy, crazy, crazy life! And I love it :)
The past couple of weeks have been crazy, so I am going to do a fly over recap, then hone in on some details in future posts (possibly).

Titus & I had the opportunity to be mom & dad to four kids (plus a dog) for a week! While our school admin and his wife took a recruitment trip to BJU we house sat & made sure all the kids stayed in one place & didn't burn the house down or kill each other. Kidding! They are great kids and we hardly had to do much more than cook meals & drive them to school :) it was a lot of fun! And after that week, I am convinced Titus is going to be a great dad when the time comes. He did much more than I did! He even got up early to make breakfast for everyone one morning, even though he hadn't gotten to bed until almost 2 am because he was playing in a football league the night before. I am so blessed!

It made for a busy week, but I learned a lot & especially that Thursday,  God taught me a big lesson through an unexpected, small,seemingly unimportant event; making dinner! I will be sure to share more about that later since God really exposed my heart, & I think it illustrates how involved God is in even the smallest details :)

That weekend, I had to say goodbye to my coworker, Elizabeth, as she moved to South Korea to begin a new ministry there. I learned a lot from her, & we already miss her a lot!!

Due to Elizabeth leaving, I am now the "lead" in the toddler room, which means longer hours & more responsibilities. It is a blessing because that also means some extra income; Titus and I have been blown away at God's faithfulness in providing above and beyond our needs. To celebrate the pay raise, we are starting to look at dogs to add to our home! We both love animals, & I especially  would like to have a furry friend along when Titus is away or when I go on walks by myself. I'll keep you updated on that process!!

Please continue to pray as God has been deeply working in my heart and life lately. He really does do the most work through small moments of obedience through little moments every day. Whether it is just choosing to love a difficult person, or choosing not to complain when you have to change the twentieth piopy diaper or wipe the fiftieth snotty nose before noon :) so thankful for Christ! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! More soon :)

Feb 17, 2014

Snow Camp, Six Month Anniversary, and Various Other Adventures

Well hey there! It has been less than a month since I last blogged, so I feel very proud of myself for already writing again :)
The past week and a half have been, you guessed it...BUSY! But lots of fun. Titus and I had the opportunity to go up to snow camp for three days with the WCS teens. I was in the cabin with the middle school girls, and it was a ton of fun!!

It was an awesome opportunity to get the know some of the basketball girls better, and also a grwat chance to get to know some of the other girls that I haven't interacted with much yet. Some of my favorite times were the random one on one conversations as I got to ask them what God was teaching them, what some of their greatest struggles are, and how I can pray for them or help them. 

Titus helped me stay warm, even though we only saw each other a few times throughout the day...he thought ahead and bought me a giant pack of hand & foot warmers!! Love that thoughtful guy if mine :) 

It was such a beautiful setting to be able to have a renewed focus on God; not that a geographical location makes God any more accessible or whatever, it was just nice to take a few days off of daycare & renew my focus on discipling those that God has given me opportunity to invest into their lives, & also to soak myself in God's word, so I can know & enjoy, & point others to Him. 

We returned to Wixom at around 4 pm, & then Titus & I went out for dinner (sushi!!) to celebrate our six month anniversary. It is crazy to think we have already been married for six months, but it also feel like I have been with Titus forever!! He is exactly my God-given match, & I am so thankful for his patient, consistent, thoughtful, self-sacrificing, kind, goofy, sweet love. God is so kind to give me an earthly mirror of His own love for me. 

It has been a very long winter, but God has taught me so much while I've been burrowing into blankets all of these cold, snowy days: contentment, not whining, loving and serving despite emotions, using my down time wisely. Not perfect in any of these, but thankful that God is working!! 

Jan 21, 2014

End of the Year Blessings

Well, once again, I am blogging at the encouragement of my beautiful sister :)
Thanks to having two weeks off of our crazy schedule at school, we have been able to enjoy several days with my family. At this very moment, I am sitting next to Amber, watching The Blind Side, & just enjoying being able to chat, catch up, & share how God has worked & what He is teaching both of us.

This Christmas break came just in time!  Titus & I have had such a crazy time since Thanksgiving. We started coaching the girl's basketball team at WCS. That has been a really great opportunity to get to know the girls better & to helpTitus; it has also given us an even fuller schedule! We are typically gone from about 7:30 in the morning until 6 at night. & game nights are much later! But it has been a wonderful opportunity, & I am thankful to be involved. However, once you add in all the Christmas programs, parties, shopping, & baking, normal life can seem like too much to fit in! So the last few weeks were quite a blur, & it has been so nice to have several weeks to catch our breath & to see my family again. I missed them SO much! Being 8-12 hours away, I sometimes just wish I could go visit for a weekend. But the distance is too much.

We started our vacation with an evening in Marshall with Titus' family. It was his aunt's birthday, & we were able to spend a fun time together & enjoy the time we had on the farm =)
After a quick overnight stop at my sister's house in the Dells, Titus & I were able to spend a few days. I am so thankful for my mom & how hard she works, & also that Dad got to come home from North Dakota to spend Christmas with his family. I know it is difficult for him to be so far away from home, & he is working such difficult, long hours, so it was good to be able to see him. We also discovered a game we all like...Yahtzee!! I won mostly. Kidding!! It was pretty evenly spread out, but there was one especially memorable game when all four of us got Yahtzees right in a row!! =) Unfortunately, Titus also got he flu & was down for all of Christmas Eve. He was a trooper & had such a good attitude though.  Christmas Day was beautiful & refreshing; it was great to spend the day with my parents & then visit the Tomas family later in the evening. During our time in Chetek I also got to catch up with a few friends from Northland, which is always a blessing!

A few days after Christmas, we traveled down to the dells & were able to spend a day with our extended family, and then Titus & I also had 4 days with the Poppenga family, which was soooo much fun! It is always special to spend some time catching up with my sister, and Titus & I really enjoyed playing with Blake & Bri. Bri kicked both of our butts in chutes & ladders though, haha! I always learn so much about hospitality when I am with Amber; she is so gifted! She is also such a great mother & gets more accomplished in one morning an a lot of people do in a week! The weather was frigid, and we had to suffer through a Badger loss & a packer loss, along with half of the family getting the flu (first time I have thrown up in over ten years! Yuck!!) but we thoroughly enjoyed our time & can't wait to visit again soon, and meet Poppenga baby. #3!!