How To: Church Hopping in Holland

I’m not sure if “church hopping” is common language or Hope College lingo for “I’m trying to find a church that I really enjoy in the area.” This is the only place I’ve ever heard it, so I’m going to go with the latter.

The name is a little misleading, because to me it sounds like you go to a bunch of churches all in one day, but in fact you decide on various churches to visit each Sunday until you find a good fit. Regardless of the cheesy name, church hopping is cool.

First things first, you do a little research. What churches are in the area? What churches do your beliefs most identify with?

My friend Rachel and I took an online quiz to discover where in the world of churches our views fell. It turned out that we had some pretty similar results, so we looked up churches under those denominations.

The next thing is pretty simple. You go to one of the churches. Notice the people around you, how comfortable you feel and whether or not you feel community and a sense of faith here. You might get a good feeling, or a kind of bad one.

If it’s bad, don’t worry; there will be other churches to visit. If it’s good, don’t just jump right in; give some other churches a chance to be hopped to.

Rachel and I visited three or four churches before deciding on the one we liked the best, all were different denominations and not all were the one we were raised in.

Once you feel comfortable with the amount of churches you’ve experienced and feel like you have enough knowledge to make a decision, find a church and call it home.

My friend Rachel and I really enjoy the First United Methodist Church in Holland. We’ve decided to plant our roots there for a majority of our Sundays left at Hope.

The cool thing about Holland is that there are so many places of faith to check out. It can be almost overwhelming. I highly encourage anyone who wants to take the next step in their faith to church hop around. Finding community at Hope can be easy, especially with a chapel filled with 1,000 students. However, finding that faith community outside of Hope is not as easy.

It’s nice to know where to start.

Thanks for reading,

Your “Back to Hope” Playlist

Over the summer I got to thinking about Hope blogging. I felt as if every year I wrote the same posts: back to school, the Pull, Winter Fantasia, Nykerk, SAC events, etc.

This year, I’m vowing to make more unconventional and creative posts. My first is this one, a playlist perfected for that perfect back to Hope College feel. These are songs that I hear around campus, give me a special Hope vibe, or are always played at any Hope social event.

I’m starting junior year off with some feel good tunes, and now you can too! Listen to it on Spotify or follow the list of songs below.

  • I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston
  • Brand New – Ben Rector
  • More Like Love – Ben Rector
  • I Lived – One Republic
  • Shut Up and Dance – WALK THE MOON
  • Hold My Hand – Jess Glynne
  • Wake Me up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
  • Let the Good Times Roll – Ben Rector
  • Love on Top – Beyonce
  • Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Easy Love – Original Mix – Sigala
  • I’ll Be There For You – The Rembrandts
  • Where You Lead – Carole King
  • Classic – MKTO
  • Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  • Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
  • Downtown – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • I Want You Back – The Jackson 5
  • Yeah! – Usher
  • Where Is The Love – The Black Eyed Peas
  • Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah) – Andy Grammar
  • Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
  • Bright – Echosmith
  • Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  • I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Geronimo – Sheppard
  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
  • When Can I See You Again – Owl City

These are all songs that get me pumped to be back at Hope. I hope you enjoy listening to some of them!


A Trip to the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin

The greenhouse at the Downtown Market
The greenhouse at the Downtown Market

This past Saturday night, I went down to Calvin College with one of our chaplains, Lauren Taylor, some other girls from Hope and a faculty member and his family. Calvin hosts the Festival of Faith and Writing every year, which is probably its most redeeming quality. (They’re our big rival, in case you missed that one).

We piled into a Hope van and took off. When we got there, we got to hear Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, speak. She is a self-taught theologian from Canada.

Sarah spoke on her experience with being told that she does not have the privilege to share God’s word or her opinions on God’s word. Before her book got published, she was often told that she was unqualified to do any of this without a degree from seminary school.

She talked about how we are all qualified to share God’s word, no matter what our degree. She asked what qualifications God expects us to have to share his word.

I found this to be a very moving subject. A lot of times on Hope’s campus, faith experiences are compared and analyzed. It’s easy to tell yourself that someone else’s experience is stronger than your own, or that they have a deeper relationship with God than you do.

There are no qualifications for God’s love, besides the most basic things (ie. believing, repentance, obedience to God and His word, etc.).

I believe that as long as you are walking with the Lord, you are in a good place. Sarah Bessey really pounded that into me, even though she wasn’t directly speaking on that topic.

After hearing her speak, we went to the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids for dinner. We discussed some of the things that Bessey talked about, hearing different opinions around the table.

As we ate, I listened to opinions of my peers and sank back. I let their words, some that I wasn’t sure I agreed with, to marinate inside me. Some said that they didn’t completely agree with Bessey, because to have theory on God’s word you must know theology.

I just think that Bessey was talking about something much simpler than that; we all have a calling to live out and spread the gospel. Whether it be through writing, theology, teaching or medicine, we’re all qualified as God’s children to spread his word.

The Seven Wonders of Someone Halfway Done With College

I often find myself wishing that time would stop, or at the very least that things would shift into slow motion for at least a week or maybe five minutes.

When they say that your time in college flies by fast, they aren’t lying.

It’s scary yet exciting to know that in the same amount of time that I have already spent at Hope, I will be leaving and venturing off into the real world.

Here are seven things I wonder as I think about leaving Hope in two years:

  1. What’s the real world really like?
    • Let’s be honest, we all wonder this.
  2. Are there other places like Hope?
    • I like the welcoming and supportive atmosphere that Hope has, but will I be able to find that somewhere else?
  3. Will I find the same faith community?
    • This is one of my biggest worries about leaving Hope. I’ll have to venture out and find a faith community, perhaps even create one, instead of having one built and placed right in my lap.
  4. Will my best friends stay my best friends?
    • I’m really crossing my fingers for this one. I know some pretty great people here and I hope they’re my friends for life.
  5. Where will I live?
    • Will I go back home? Will I make somewhere new my home? The world may never know. Until I graduate.
  6. What will my job be?
    • Really though. I have my plans but the more I talk to alumni, the more I realize that you often don’t end up doing what you thought you would.
  7. Can I just stay here a little bit longer?
    • The answer is, yes, you can stay here two more years. Maybe it’ll be enough, but right now I love Hope and wouldn’t trade it for any other place.

I’m sure that incoming freshmen and graduating seniors are also wondering some of these things. Being a sophomore in the middle of it all can make the end seem blind, like it’s never coming. But it is and I have so many thoughts about it.

Thanks for reading,


Five Spring Must-Dos at Hope College

The pine grove in the sun
The Pine Grove in the sun

Never mind the fact that the ground on Hope’s campus is lightly dusted with snow right now, we’re going to talk about spring at Hope College.

There’s so much you can do when the weather starts heating up a bit. I don’t mean summer heat, I mean that nice spring warmth where the sun is shying out of its winter position and warming the earth while a light breeze brushes up against your ankles as you walk to classes.

Here are five “must-do’s” at Hope in the Spring:

  1. Studying in the Pine Grove. There’s nothing better than laying on a blanket,
    Reading in the Pine Grove
    Reading in the Pine Grove

    feeling the sun up against your back, and looking over your ten-page study guide for psychology. Just kidding about the study guide part, but being in the Pine Grove makes it a little better.

  2. Frolf. Frisbee Golf. Lots of students like to go around campus and play this fun game when it starts to get warmer out.
  3. Tulips popping up in the spring time at Hope!
    Tulips popping up in the spring time at Hope!

    Runs and walks to Windmill Island. It’s always fun to take a friend and take advantage of the nice weather by exercising. Instead of going to workout on a machine, it’s nice to breathe fresh air while getting exercise.

  4. Do an intramural. There are lots of spring intramurals going on at Hope. Some of them are soccer, softball, flag football, racquetball and ultimate frisbee.
  5. Spring Fling. I saved the best for last. This is an event put on by Hope’s Student Activities Committee every spring the weekend before finals. There’s a picnic in the pine grove, inflatables, a band with some dancing, a zip-line, a Photo Booth, laser tag, and much more.

Spring is pretty sweet at Hope. It’s a shame that we don’t get to enjoy it for long, seeing as we get out in almost a month (and it’s still snowing…).

Thanks for reading!


An Immersion Excursion: New Jersey Immersion Trip 2016

Hope’s campus is filled once again and bursting with life, especially now that the sun is out. Yet I feel a little bit lost and in the wrong, all because I’m not in New Jersey with the 12 other people I spent the last week with.

Last Saturday, our group left bright and early to drive over to New Jersey. We drove all day, finally making it to Highland Park, NJ, that night. The next day, we spent time in the church and even went to visit a Russian Orthodox church to hear a speaker talk about the Syrian refugees.

The next four days were spent serving and immersing ourselves in the church’s culture. We went out to the Jersey Shore to help a family prepare their house to be lifted, which is required by New Jersey law since Hurricane Sandy hit. We also put up dry wall in another house and painted a house in the High Land Park area.

We did other things as well, such as visit a detention center for undocumented immigrants, receive a tour of the church’s outreach in the area, and attend a seder service.

On Friday, we got to visit New York City for our day off.

It’s very hard to sum up the week in a 300-400 word blog post. I can’t elaborate on any of the deep and meaningful moments that we shared together as a group. Every morning and night we had devotionals and a breakdown of the day, which really helped to process the way that we saw God working in every day life.

I would sum up the trip by stating two things that I learned:

  1. I met and saw God working through so many people this past week. It’s incredible the way that these people give up everything for Him. I learned a lot about what it truly means to be a servant to God and lay down your life to Him.
  2. I met people with incredible stories and incredible faith. These people did not and do not lead easy lives, yet they trust in God and keep such strong faith in Him. It helped me to see what it really means to have faith in God, and also how much one can go through and still keep that faith.

I’m a little sad without my team. They’re still all around Hope’s campus, but I miss spending every day with them. I miss New Jersey and the work that we did there, but I still see God working in all of our lives here.

If you can get a chance to, sign up to go on an Immersion Trip through Campus Ministries. It truly was a life changing experience. Unfortunately the blog platform won’t upload my photos! I will try to get them up as soon as possible.

Where Do You Find Your Meaning? A Dance 42 Reflection

Last night, I went to see Dance 42, an annual show put on by the Dance Department of Hope College. I wish I had photos to share, but unfortunately photography was not allowed.  Last year, it was called Dance 41 and next year it will be called Dance 43. You get the picture, it’s been going on for a while.

Above is a video from Dance 37, the only one that I could find online.

The students audition in September. This leaves them the rest of the year up until March to work on their performances and perfect them.

I went to the show because I had friends in some of the dances, but I didn’t experience it last year. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Some people had told me it was really good, but some acts were sort of odd. As I watched, I understood why they could seem that way. Some of the dance moves were very interpretive and I had a hard time finding meaning in them.

When my friend, Allie, finished her performance, she came and sat with me. As the show progressed, she told me what each dance was about. They all started to make more sense to me.

What drew me in when thinking about Dance 42 was the fact that everyone has an area of life in which they create meaning or try to draw meaning from. For me, it’s literature and my religion. For others, it’s dance, science, nature, etc.

It’s beautiful how so many different paths can be used to soul-search and make something out of life. Everyone has a preference, and dance works for those who put their time and efforts into Dance 42.

Once I recognized that, I began to appreciate it so much more.


You can email me at, find me on Facebook, or check out my Twitter @hopebrooke18.

Pre-Dance Marathon Froyo #FTK

Dance Marathon is coming up this Friday. Last year, I participated as dancer for the full 24 hours. This year, I will be a “moraler” for an eight hour shift on Friday night.

Orange Leaf, a frozen yogurt shop downtown Holland, has been running a competition this year to see who can earn the most money in receipts for Dance Marathon. Part of the purchase goes to the fundraiser and the winner gets $500 donated to their team page at the end.

Some friends and I from last year's Dance Marathon!
Some friends and I from last year’s Dance Marathon!

The store set up a bracket with teams facing each other a few weeks ago. Now, the week of Dance Marathon, there are only two teams left for the final round. One of those teams is my sorority.

While we really want to win, we know that at the heart of this competition is the kids. No matter what sorority comes out on the winning side, we know that it all goes to the same place, to benefit the lives of the children suffering from diseases they cannot control.

If you’re in town this weekend, go check out Orange Leaf to help raise money. I’m not going to tell you to put your receipt in my sororities bucket, but at least put it somewhere so that the funding counts.

I really admire what the Holland community has been doing to support Dance Marathon. This week is also called Blitz Week, where various Holland chain restaurants donate a portion of  your sale to Dance Marathon.

It’s so cool to see the community coming together for such a good cause.

Thanks for reading,

Finding My Home Church

Having a church to go to every Sunday is a little bit like having a home team, I think. A church can be a community of love, support and faith outside of the college context.

Up until recently, I’ve only attended Hope’s Chapel and Gathering services. One of my best friends, Rachel, and I decided that we want to find a traditional church in the Holland area to attend.

There are a lot to choose from. In Downtown Holland there’s Pillar Church (Christian Reformed) and the First United Methodist Church. There are others, such as Third Reformed Church, St. Frances de Sales Church, and Engedi Church. If you know anything about Holland, you know the list doesn’t end there. Those are just a few that students attend on a weekly basis.

Dimnent Chapel around Christmastime
Dimnent Chapel around Christmastime

This past Sunday, Rachel and I went to Pillar Church. We figured it would be our first shot since it’s a close walk downtown.

The service was nice, but I’m not sure it’s what I’m looking for in my home church. At home, I’m a member of the First United Methodist Church. It’s a whole lot bigger than the tiny Pillar. Maybe I’m looking for something more like that, but I’m not sure.

I guess I’m just looking for what feels right. I don’t think I’ll have any problem knowing when I’ve found the right place to call home for worship every Sunday.

Building a community in faith is extremely important. It’s easy to have that community at Hope considering how central it is to our every day lives. However, once college is over, that support system won’t be as much in tact. It’s necessary from that point to go out and make your own community of the church.

I want to be able to create that community once I leave Hope, and an important step is finding my faith outside the college.

You can email me at, find me on Facebook, or check out my twitter @hopebrooke18!

A Day in the Life of a Hope College Student

Recently on the Hope College Facebook page for admitted students, I received a message from a future student asking about my typical day. I told her that I would write a blog post about it, since other future students are probably wondering the same thing.

And that’s how this post came to be! I hope you enjoy hearing about what a typical weekday would look like for me, which is definitely different than what a typical day looks like for another student here.

Morning: On a weekday I’m either waking up for work or class. Let’s pretend it’s a Monday. I wake up at about 8:30 to get ready for class at 9:30. My routine usually starts with climbing (yes, climbing, our beds are lofted) down from my bed, rubbing my eyes and heading to the bathroom. I brush my teeth and wash my face before heading back to my room to get dressed, put some makeup on and get my bag packed. I usually eat a granola bar, fruit or oatmeal for breakfast.

Class: My first class of the day is Writing for Media, basically a journalism class. We usually have a lecture or in-class activity to do.

Chapel: On Mondays I go to Chapel after my first class. I sit with some girls in my sorority for the brief service.

Class: After Chapel, I head to my British Literature class at 11:00 a.m. This class is mostly lecture with some areas for discussion.

Lunch: On Mondays I’ll either eat with my friend Andrea at Phelps or get a take-away box from Cook if I have a lot of work to do. Cook dining is only for upper-classmen, but I have enough credits to eat there.

Break: I have a two-hour break between my second class and my last class of the day. Depending on how much sleep I got the night before and whether or not my homework is done for my next class, I’ll nap or do some homework. Thrilling, I know.

Class: My last class on Mondays is Creative Writing from 2:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. In this class we might have a short lecture, but most of it is discussion and sharing. We just finished our poetry unit and are now moving on to narrative!

Finally done with classes: I probably sound like a grandma because at this point, if I didn’t nap before, I’m going to nap. If I already took a nap, I’ll do homework or goof around with my roommate until dinner.

Dinner: My friends and I usually eat at 5:00 p.m. Now I must really sound like a grandma. You guys thought college was going to sound interesting, but this is my daily life.

Post-dinner: Depending on the night, I might have different things going on. Some nights I have work, some nights I have sorority events, on Tuesdays I have Bible study, or I might be meeting with a group to work on a project or writing. It’s different every day for every student, especially since there’s so much going on. My roommate is on the sailing team and in the fall she has practice every day after classes. Sometimes there are seminars around campus that I’ll go to for a class or just for fun.

And then at the end of the day I’ll shower and get ready for bed 🙂

This isn’t what every day is like at Hope College, but I’d say it’s a pretty fair representation of what I do every day this semester.

I hope this is helpful to those of you wondering what it’s like to be a daily Hope College student!

Thanks for reading,