God's Greatest Gift

Late August is always a bittersweet time for me.  How is it possible I can be so proud and excited to see my children return to school and yet so inexplicably sad that they’re gone?

The house is quiet. It’s just my husband and me at the dinner table. Even the dog mopes. We miss them.

We’ve spent their whole childhoods worrying, wondering if we’re good parents, if we’re setting a good example and making the right decisions for their future. Now they’re embarking on the path we’ve set for them, and all I can think of is how much I miss the bygone days of their youth.

Those evenings when I would read aloud to them, the three of us snuggled close on the double chaise on the back deck until the crickets sang and darkness settled in. Only then would they agree it was late enough to go to bed.

The nights when they would ask me to cuddle with them in their beds and sing their baby songs until they fell asleep. Some nights I was so tired it was hard to say yes. But I did anyway, knowing that the day would come when they would no longer ask.

The backyard birthday parties, dance recitals, Little League, soccer and hockey games. The tennis matches, tubing, skiing, wakeboarding and swimming. Always so busy.

Now I look out at the lake. The boat sits empty in the lift. The water is smooth and calm. A few ducks float by. A blue heron feeds in the shallows nearby.

Next to my parents and my husband, no one has touched my life like my children and I thank God, every day, for blessing me so richly. My heart aches with the love I feel for them. I am so grateful for all the wonderful memories, the beautiful pictures nestled in my mind, and the warmth of their love that lingers in my heart.

I could not be more proud of the young adults they've become and I could not love them more. They are truly God's greatest gift.

Have you touched anyone lately?

Rockford Ninja Warrior

What happens when a church and a public school system work together? 

Rockford Ninja Warrior is among the largest community-sponsored ninja fitness events in the United States, featuring top competitors from the hit television show American Ninja Warrior.

Like the show, it’s a heart-racing series of obstacles of increasing difficulty, laid out on a course where athletes try to make it through to the end, a gnarly 14-foot warped wall. Second only to the American Ninja Warrior television program course, Rockford Ninja Warrior provides a seriously challenging professional course for competitors.

Created to help support the youth in the community, the event began in 2014 when Brian Pankratz, then a lead elder at Bridgeway Community Church, decided the growing congregation needed a unique way to raise funds for a youth center.  Rockford is a very active, health-conscious community so it was a perfect fit for a kid-focused outreach.

Proceeds from Rockford Ninja Warrior will go toward local youth development programs, including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program and the Rockford Public Schools’ Developing Healthy Kids education series.

The third annual Rockford Ninja Warrior will take place on August 12 and 13 at the old paper mill, future building site of Bridgeway Community Church, at 7700 Childsdale Avenue, in Rockford, Michigan, and is expected to bring over ten thousand adventure seekers.

With a professional adult course and several youth courses, as well as camps for both adults and kids in the weeks leading up to the event, there is something for all ages and levels of ability.  It’s a family-friendly event, with free admission for spectators and free parking. There will also be concessions and merchandise and, of course, some of the top American Ninja Warrior competitors from the show, including Grand Rapids’ own Andrew Karsen, to support the event, compete and offer meet-and-greets.

This event is powered by volunteers and sponsors from across West Michigan. If you’d like to help, check out RockfordNinjaWarrior.com for more information and volunteer links.

Thank you to Brian Pankratz, with his heart for kids, to Bridgeway Community Church and Rockford Public schools, for collaborating to present this inspiring event, and to the plethora of sponsors, and volunteers it takes to pull this thing off each year.


Have you touched anyone lately?

An Act of Kindness

This was shared with me on Facebook and I want to amplify the kindness by sharing it here...

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. “I’m glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I’ll get a short nap,” I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle

World Race

Danielle Portfleet is my special guest this month. Danielle joined my team at Gordon Food Service as an intern several years ago, and we knew even then that she was a remarkable young woman. Her news this week that she’s leaving us to embark on this incredible journey touched my heart. I hope it will touch yours too. 


Have you ever thought there was more to life than the 9-to-5 workdays?...