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5.02.2016

ONE YEAR

A year ago today, you packed up your car, hugged your daddy tight with tears streaming down your face, told him goodbye, and you and your mama pulled out of the driveway and headed west. You were full of so many hopes and dreams and expectations and the usual fear of the unknown as you drove through state after state and mile upon mile away from your home.

Brave heart, here's what I want you to know...

That first week is going to be one of the most discouraging weeks of your life, and you are going to think you made the biggest mistake in moving here. It's going to be stressful to say the least, you'll think seriously every five minutes about packing up and moving home, but you are going to make it through that week and the next and the next, and Jesus is going to provide in ways you didn't expect.

You are going to experience homesickness like never before, you'll feel an actual pain deep in your heart that you can't explain, and you're going to cry unexpectedly and uncontrollably in public all the time. You'll be depressed for about three months, and you're going to go through a grieving process like you never imagined, but your friends are going to do their best to make this place feel like home for you. In the process, you will learn that it is okay to like living here, it is okay to make new friends, it is okay to start new traditions, and it is okay to put down roots. None of that makes less of the home you grew up in or the friends who are dear to your heart there. I want you to remember that you didn't give up when you wanted to move back home. You stuck with it, cried it out, hugged it out, pushed forward, and it may have taken months to feel okay, but you did it.

Around month four, while sitting at your favorite spot, you'll realize you hadn't had the thought of "maybe I shouldn't have moved here" every day that week. That fearful thought will slowly fade until it no longer exists. You'll realize that Jesus does not lead you where he does not also go. He is with you always, to the end of the age.

You are going to see some of the most beautiful places in this new state of yours. Your little heart that longs for adventure will get its fill. No matter what people say, you won't lose your sense of wonder at living by the front range of the Rocky Mountains. The peaks and ranges will take your breath away every day, and that's the way it should be.

You'll go home for Christmas, and it will be so good for your heart to see family and friends, and to be back in the place you grew up, where you are known and loved. You'll be worried about how you'll react to leaving and heading back to Colorado. You'll hug your mama and daddy on the sidewalk at the airport, and you'll hold back the tears as you wave goodbye. But you'll get on that plane heading back to your new home, and for the first time, you realize you are going to be okay. You are okay in this new place. You have friends and community. You have a life here. And until Jesus says otherwise, this place is your home.

Jesus is going to give you some of the most unexpected and wonderful friendships here. They are relationships that will take work and intentionality, but they are so worth it. This year you made friends, you trusted, you took risks, you got hurt, you grew, and your story isn't over.

I don't want you to ever forget what this move was like, and how you felt, and the way that surprised you. I don't want you to forget what you've learned and how you've grown. I don't want you to forget how good Jesus is even in the hard. I don't want you to forget that this time, this adventure, is a gift. Don't take it for granted. Here's to another year in this beautiful place.

4.04.2016

CHACOS: BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER SINCE FOREVER



LOCATION: Glen Eyrie
OUTFIT DETAILS: Kanarra Chaco Shoes | Patagonia Better Sweater

Let me tell you about my friend, Abby. We became friends after both of us had gone through the joyful process of breaking a foot. Just kidding...I wouldn't wish those days on anyone. But let's back up a little bit to five years ago. Abby and I were both on staff at Eagle Lake for a summer, but we were serving on separate programs so we didn't get to interact all that much. I always thought she was really energetic and funny and someone I wanted to be friends with. We had tons of mutual friends and saw each other through the years, but never long enough to get to BFF status, you know? It wasn't until last winter when we were both in Texas for a friend's wedding that we bonded over the fact that we'd both broken a foot. We swapped stories of crutches and wheel chairs and not being able to shower for far too long...and that was only the beginning.





Abby is one of the friends Jesus has generously given me since moving to my new home in Colorado. She has been the greatest encouragement in more ways than I could ask for. She listens, speaks truth, and shares wisdom I need to hear. She lets me be me, and offers a safe space to share the raw and honest things that are in my heart. When you find a friend like that, you hang on to them. We are both incredibly competitive and share an obsessive love for games of the card and board variety. Oh, and also Spikeball. #wegetobsessedwiththings




We are two friends who work for a summer camp and love the outdoors, so Chacos for us are kind of an essential part of our Colorado casual style. They are the go-to shoe not only for our summer mountain lives but our off-season lives as well. PLUS, they maybe have the greatest arch support in all the land, which is the best for our poor broken feet that need all the help they can get for the rest of our days. We've been rocking the Kanarra shoes from Chaco for several weeks this spring and they are living up to all you'd expect out of a Chaco shoe. Quality materials, great colors, stellar fit for everyone's feet...do I need to go on? They are for work, play, and every day life. The perfect crossover shoe from weekend casual to outdoor adventure!











Next month Abby will pack her bags and head to the mountains for a summer of leading and discipling staff and campers. I'm so proud of this friend and the way she is letting the Lord use her for his kingdom. She cares so deeply for the hearts of the staff who will serve alongside her and for the kids who will be forever impacted by their time at Eagle Lake this summer. I'm thankful for these last months that allowed for a friendship to form and grow and strengthen, and I'm thankful for another sister who I know will be there to walk through this journey of life with me.

3.25.2016

MOUNTAIN MEMORIES


A couple weekends ago my parents got to come visit me in Colorado for the first time since I moved here! I was SO excited they were coming, and from the moment my mama told me they were visiting, I started making plans. I really wanted to show them fun, new places in Colorado they had never seen, and taking them up to Eagle Lake where I'd spent a few summers, was at the top of my list.



In high school, after finding a brochure about Eagle Lake Camps, my parents flew me out to Colorado so I could spend the next two summers working at camp on Eagle Lake's CREW program. Those are summers that changed my life forever and for good. They were summers where I fell more in love with Jesus, I met some of my closest friends, and built relationships that have lasted throughout the years. After college, I went back to Eagle Lake as a CREW counselor for what I thought would be my last summer working for a camp. Little did I know that four years later I would be offered a job that would move me to Colorado and allow me to work for the camp and alongside the people that had so greatly impacted my life.

Even after all the time I've spent at Eagle Lake, my parents had never seen it, except for in pictures. So on Sunday morning, we hopped in the car, made a quick stop for coffee, and headed up the mountain. We drove through the meadow, my favorite part of that drive for the rest of my days, and made our way through the woods to camp.




My parents know the story of the Waldo Canyon Fire, but they finally saw just how devastating it was and saw first hand how gracious the Lord was in protecting Eagle Lake.

My first reaction to the fire still tends to be sadness. Sad that the beauty of perfectly green unburned trees is no longer there. But then I remember how faithful Jesus was in miraculously saving this special place and how he put a circle of protection around it, and that is the most beautiful thing. The scars surrounding camp will be there for many years to come, but they will serve as a reminder and a testament of God's incredible grace in saving the property and allowing his ministry to continue there summer after summer.




















We hiked all over camp, around the lake, and through the woods, getting in the nature time we all so desperately crave. It was a gorgeous day I'm so glad I got to share with my parents. Thanks for coming to visit me, Mama and Papa McIlvaine. You are always welcome here.