Lots of “Lasts”

Well, this past month has been packed with so many fun events so I thought I would just show some of the highlights with pictures. Second semester senior year is filled with a lot of “lasts.” Last Spring fling, Chapel, Gathering, Classes, etc…. Even though it is sad to think that we will all be leaving this place in just a few short days it makes me want to soak everything in and love people I am around. I want to embrace my last week here at Hope and treasure these valuable experiences, because I know life will be very different after college. I think it is safe to say I will miss the people and community most about Hope. I absolutely love my friends, and we always seem to have a great time when we are together. It was a lot of fun seeing Hope College at Spring Fling in the Pine Grove and enjoying some sunshine, food, music, rides, and friends all in one place.

Well I’m off to the Last Gathering! I’m ready to soak in my last week at Hope College with the people I love.

Went home for Easter and hung out with my dog :]
Went home for Easter and hung out with my dog :]
Spring Fling with Lydia and Jannessah
Spring Fling with Lydia and Jannessah
Concert outside the dorms
Concert outside the dorms
Girls Night Out in Saugatuck
Girls Night Out in Saugatuck
Love these friends
Love these friends
The "Lincoln Land Saloon"  at Monique's Bridal Shower
The “Lincoln Land Saloon” at Monique’s Bridal Shower
Celebrating Susan's 22nd Birthday!
Celebrating Susan’s 22nd Birthday!
Bike To Uganda for Building Tomorrow, which helps build schools in Uganda
Bike To Uganda for Building Tomorrow, which helps build schools in Uganda
My housemate Amy teaching me to hug...
My housemate Amy teaching me to hug…

Senior Wisdom and Insight

Wow one week from today I will be graduating from Hope College! I’m currently writing this post from JP’s Coffee downtown and thinking back on all of the memories I have had here. Hope College has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I have met some incredible people and lifelong friends. I asked some of my senior best friends for their wisdom and insight for upcoming freshmen. They have brought so much wisdom, joy, perspective, and encouragement into my life so I hope you find some their wisdom useful for you…

1) Remember that God is the only one that will stay the same. So much will change in your time in college: your relationships, dreams, fears, plans, and circumstances. Yet, He will remain the same no matter what, faithful until the end.
2) Don’t let expectations guide your experiences. Don’t have the pressure of these years being “the best years of your life” or immediately having the most incredible friends on the planet or finding the love of your life in the first week! Your experience in college may be amazing but will likely be different than you currently picture. Try to be expectant and hopeful without pressured by specific ideas.
3) Try to live free from comparison. You will meet absolutely incredible, talented, attractive, wealthy, intelligent people. Celebrate how great they are, but don’t try to be just like them. You don’t have to change yourself for the people around you, and will develop much better friendships if you do not let comparison rule your relationships.

-Monique Meck

Find your identity in Christ. Do not compare yourself to others and do not try to seek affirmation from others. Seek affirmation in The Lord and be you. Never stop challenging yourself. Do not put God’s abilities in a box because you have no idea what The Lord has in store for your life. 

-Sarah Zielinski

Take advantage of the many activities and traditions Hope has to offer. College is a time to explore and find what interests you and helps you grow in positive ways. If something if not influencing your life in a positive way, find another activity to participate in. If a friend is no longer building you up, start spending more time with people who do. You want to make memories with people you love doing things you love to do. 

-Hannah Boshoven

Never be afraid to embrace a place and its people so much, that it hurts to leave. Time is a valuable thing; get to know what it’s all about as much as you can. Pursue your dreams, pursue this life, and smile at the little things. “Both faith and fear ask you to believe something that has not happened yet, choose faith.” Always choose faith.

-Lydia Wathen

Try everything. Talk to everyone. Join any student organization. Study abroad. Go on May Terms. Have adventures. Have the time of your life. Don’t let fear, comparison, doubt, negativity, judgement, or any other wonder killer stifle you out of what will surely be a wild and beautiful season of your life. 

-Kimberly Collins

Be who you are, and only you. If you are not sure who you are yet, be the person you want to be and the journey along the way will be ultimately fulfilling. 

-Lauren Kokum

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Pure Beauty in Holland, Michigan

Spring break and Stay-cation

My dad and I
My dad and I
Beautiful Colorado!
Beautiful Colorado!
ski time!
ski time!
Stay-cation Highlights
Stay-cation Highlights

Well, it is that time of year when the snow is finally starting to melt and spring is among us. Here in Holland we still have some large snow piles left, but the sun is making its way outside. Since I am not in classes this semester I was not able to take off for Spring Break. Thankfully one of my other housemates who also graduated at semester stayed in the house for the week. During the day we would go to work and in the evenings we: cooked dinner together, watched the sunset at the beach, tried out MVP Sports Club since the Dow was closed, tried new face masks, watched a documentary, attended kickboxing class, and mostly relaxed. It was kind of nice to have the house to ourselves and spend a lot of time together.

The week after Spring Break my dad and I took a trip with his company to Snowmass, Colorado. The mountains were beautiful and spending time with my dad was a lot of fun. We skied every day and thankfully had sunny days with the temperature around 50 degrees. We ate at some of the best restaurants and tried new food. One of the days we explored Aspen and shopped downtown. My dad really loves Colorado and skis in Snowmass every year. This was my first time skiing in Colorado so my dad was very patient with me and helped me with my form. After skiing in Colorado I think it will be more difficult to want to ski in the midwest.

During the week my dad and I also met new people through his company. There were financial advisors from all of the country who chose Colorado as their place to vacation. We had three group dinners during the week and one of the nights they took us to club house where I went on my first carriage ride. I think the best part of the trip was spending quality time with my dad. It is pretty rare that I get alone time with him so I definitely appreciate any time I get to spend with my dad.

Well I am about to head to work. I’m trying to embrace my last couple weeks at Hope. Time is flying! Graduation is just right around the corner… I think during my next blog I will highlight some of the things I have learned most at Hope.

Have an awesome week!

Another Trip for the Books!

Hey everyone!

Well, March has been a crazy month packed with trips and still has more to come! A couple of weeks ago my friend and I drove down to Chicago where she dropped me off at the airport and sent me on my way to Juarez, Mexico. I met up with my friend Sam at the airport in El Paso, TX, and from there we crossed the border into Mexico. I always love visiting Mexico. I have been traveling there since I was 8 years old. The people there are like family to me, and it definitely feels like my second home.

The summer after my freshman year at Hope I did a program called HEI (Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative). I spent time that summer helping to start gardens in Juarez, Mexico, at some community centers and orphanages. It was great to be back there this past week and not only see the gardens in full bloom, but to see two more start as well. The people have really taken ownership of the gardens and use the produce to feed the children that attend the after school programs.

This past May I was in Juarez with two other Hope students where we helped start a small business to generate profit for the ministry there. This was an update I wrote about our trip from May…

This trip has been such a blessing, and all praise goes to our loving Father, who has been working in the lives of the people here. Our group (3 Hope College students) came to Juarez with the hopes of starting a Mexican candy-making business to help Amigos en Cristo be more self sustainable. The profits of this business would go back into the ministry to help pay for children’s education.

The idea originally came from Doris as her family has been long involved in the Mexican candy business. Jamoncillo is a popular candy in Mexico that is basically made from milk and sugar, similar to American fudge. The candy has a high markup price and is a popular delicacy here in Juarez.

When we first arrived here at the beginning of May, Doris and her family had already prepared Jamoncillo samples for us to try. We began looking into this by conducting market research by visiting different candy stores both downtown Juarez and in Anapra. When we brought samples to the stores in Anapra, we found that the store owners were very excited about the possibility of selling the product.

While we are here we are working on assembling a budget and timeline to help start the business. We met with the Amigos en Cristo staff for their ideas and to conduct a branding workshop. We are still in the process of determining a name but currently the staff has come up with the name “Amistosas Deliciosas” (Friendly Delights-translates better in Spanish) and the slogan to accompany it is “Diseñado para compartir” (designed to share).

While we have been here we have gathered data of the supplies and materials needed and are currently working on assembling Excel sheets. We are so excited to see where God leads this project. Please join us in praying for God’s blessing on the ministry as well as this start up business.”

When I was in Mexico this past trip it was amazing to see the transformation taking place in the lives of people who worked at Amistosas Delicias. There are 3 young men (ages 17-20) who work there and used to be on the streets dealing drugs and involved with gangs but now they have a job and are living at the community center together. The kids love these guys and they have put a lot of work into the business. They had a pivot in their business where they changed from making jamoncillo to cookies now. They have a great process worked out now and are continuing to improve the business. The best part about continuously taking trips there is seeing the transformation in people’s lives. I also learn so much from the people there, and they continue to challenge and teach me. I’m excited to head back to Mexico in 3 days :]
I love her!
I love her!
New garden
New garden

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Making the cookies
Making the cookies

Play Outside!

IMG_6830If you have lived in Michigan this winter you know it has been a long snowy winter. I have never experienced a winter quite like this one. I’m from Springfield, IL, where it is rare to get six inches at once. Even though there have been days where I thought the winter would never end, I know spring is right around the corner. I have learned the importance of enjoying the snow and embracing the weather. Although it has been bitterly cold, I have still enjoyed being outside. The snow is absolutely gorgeous as a white fresh blanket covers the ground.

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A couple of weeks ago my friend Lydia and I braved the 7 degree weather and decided to go on a hike at Riley Trails. The trails are about a 15-minute drive from Hope. We maneuvered our way through the trees and explored new paths. When we walked off the paths we would sink into the snow above our knees.

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We even thought it would be a good idea to climb a tree and look out at all of the trees gleaming with sunlight. I felt like a kid again climbing trees and enjoyed being carefree. After we finished our long hike at the trails, we made our way to a school’s playground and played there for an hour. We swung on the swings as the bitter cold wind swept across our faces. However, the wind did not seem too daunting because the sun’s rays were beaming fully. I truly appreciated winter that day and was thankful I took time to be carefree and just enjoy my surroundings exactly as they were. I encourage everyone to embrace winter and bundle up to spend some time outdoors.

Lydia and I enjoyed our time at Riley Trails
Lydia and I enjoyed our time at Riley Trails
Climbing a tree
Climbing a tree

Florida Round 3

I cannot believe February is almost over! I am definitely ready for February to be over, but I want time to slow down. February can be a hard, long, and exhausting month. Normally by this time of the year I am ready for the snow to go and for the sunshine to return. Thankfully Hope gives us two days off in February. Since my sophomore year of college Grace and I have taken a trip down to Florida to get away for a long weekend. This year we returned again to St. Pete. We left early Thursday morning and we were suppose to arrive Thursday afternoon in Tampa, but unfortunately there were plane problems so we did not arrive until Friday. Once we arrived in Florida it was chilly and rainy for the first two days. Even though we didn’t have great weather, we enjoyed getting away from Michigan and having the temperature above 0 degrees. On the first day it rained we explored the city a little bit and got our nails done. We ate at an awesome restaurant and met some fun people.

Thankfully by Sunday the sun came out and we enjoyed the 70 degree weather and rays from the sun. We laid out by the pool and relaxed the by the beach. I ran everyday while we were there, and that was my favorite part! I had missed running outdoors plus the view was breathtaking. Grace and I had some great bonding and met awesome people. We heard some live bands play outside by the beach and watched some gorgeous sunsets. I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to spend time in Florida with her for three years in a row. I came back feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. We had absolutely no agenda while we were there. We woke up slowly and always took our time getting places. The trip was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life around me more.

I hope you all have great weeks and hang in there as winter wraps up.

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My Final Fantasia

On Saturday evening Hope College’s Student Activity Committee hosted Winter Fantasia, a dance that usually occurs at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids. However, due to the terrible road conditions this year it was hosted on campus at the Haworth Inn & Conference Center.

Even though the location was not as great as the hotel in Grand Rapids, the dance was still a lot of fun. They had great food and a photo booth for people to take pictures. A large group of students still showed up to the dance. Our house ate dinner together at the City Vu restaurant in downtown Holland. The food was great and we had an awesome conversation at dinner and shared some of our goals for the semester. It was fun all getting ready for dinner and the dance together. I always struggle with doing my own makeup but thankfully I live in a house of girls who can do hair and makeup. I’m a little worried about getting ready by myself after college because any time I have something that I need to look nice for my housemates always pick out my outfit and do my hair and makeup. Hopefully I will learn…

Once we arrived at the Haworth we danced for hours, and I was sore the next day from all of the dancing. It was just a fun night with a great group of people. Last year was my first year attending the dance, but I wish I would have gone all four years. I definitely recommend going to Winter Fantasia with a group of friends. Even if you don’t like dancing there were still plenty of people sitting at tables talking and eating. Plus, the food is always great :]

Marga and I at dinner
Marga and I at dinner
Our House!
Our House!

Life at Hope without any class…

Well, many people have asked me what it feels like to still be at Hope without taking any classes. The answer I normally give is that it doesn’t feel extremely different yet. I still live in the same off-campus house, workout at the Dow, attend the Gathering, play intramurals, spend time at the coffee shops, attend sporting events, stay up way later than I should, and still blog for Hope. I do a lot of the same activities that I did first semester but now I don’t have classes. I am currently working at a church in Holland with middle school students before I start full-time with Edward Jones in June. This semester so far has been a complete blast. I thought I would run out of things to do, but I have found plenty of things to keep me busy. It is nice not having to stress about about completing homework, although I do miss attending classes with friends.

My jobs are keeping me busy, but it is nice to come home in the evening and spend time with my friends and not worry about completing homework or studying for exams. I think this will be a nice semester to transition into my full time job starting in the summer. And speaking of summer, this winter has been nuts! SO MUCH SNOW! I have never seen a winter like this. It has been freezing and flurrying nonstop, but the snow is absolutely beautiful. Thankfully next weekend I will be in Florida with some sunshine to look forward to.

Enjoy your week!

Only 9 days till Florida!
Only 9 days till Florida!

 

Break Recap

Well, classes are back in action for students, and I’m enjoying living the college life without having to attend classes. Like always, it takes a little time to get back into the swing of things. I thought I’d just share with you a little about my break. During break I spent a lot of time with family and some time with my high school friends. My friend Lindsey and I did some painting while we were home.

My friend Lindsey and I with one of our many crafts
My friend Lindsey and I with one of our many crafts

Also every year since 6th grade my friends Abby, Lindsey, and I have taken Christmas pictures together. We normally take over 200 pictures with different outfit changes. I’m not even sure what sparked this fun Christmas tradition, but we have done it over ten years now. It’s fun coming home from college and having a sleepover with them and catching up on each others lives. This year probably will be our last year we will be able to take the pictures because next year we will be scattered all throughout the country and will probably not have many days off during the holidays with our new “real” jobs.

Abby, Lindsey, and I taking our annual Christmas pictures!
Abby, Lindsey, and I taking our annual Christmas pictures!

While on break my dad and I took a quick trip to Juarez, Mexico together to visit the non-profit organization, Amigos en Cristo. We cooked a Christmas dinner for all of the staff members and their families. We also were able to attend the kids Christmas party. The kids sang Christmas carols in Spanish and performed cute Christmas skits.

Me with some of the kids at the community center
Me with some of the kids at the community center

 

It was nice to spend time at home and rest after a long semester. I’m glad to be back at Hope and cannot wait for what is store this semester!

House of Life

House Picture
House Picture

My wonderful housemate Lydia described beautifully our house this semester. She describes our house much better than I ever could. I am thankful for the journey our has has been through this semester, and I’m thankful I will get one more with these amazing girls.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17

This year has been an unpredicted blessing.

I live with 6 other girls, totaling 7, in a house that seems to be a never-ending rectangle. It’s unattractive from the outside and many times humorous when you’re inside because of the awkward outlets and random space; but the treasures that live within in it could never be exchanged.

God knew their hearts, and He knew how much I needed them.

Words will never be able to express all that they have taught me and continue to teach me every single day. I have stepped into a house full of life, full of love, and full of friends that speak truth and compassion to each other every open opportunity.  Every chance they have to build one another up, they take it.

What I also love… they aren’t afraid to feel. They aren’t afraid to let their guards down around each other, and if they are having a bad day they are unafraid to confront it. They are real. They are honest. They have taught me to live, to be vulnerable, to seek, to search, to enter into grace, to be patient, and most importantly they have taught me about Jesus and why He gave us friends to help us through the victories and pains of this life.

They have sharpened me.

I pray that each and every one of you will encounter friends that I have been blessed to gain. A friend that calls you out when they know that you were made for more, a friend that laughs with you through life’s hilarious encounters, and cries with you through the trenches. A friend that listens – that plays with your hair as you speak out words that are scattered and don’t make sense. A friend that lets you ask questions and doesn’t always have to give you the answers. A friend that always points you back to Jesus, even when you thought the distance seemed too far.

I pray that each of you will have a friend like these friends.
We all need them.

Now, I must share a brief story about tonight. Tonight is the night before Finals Week, a week when heads are spinning and delirious mindsets seem to override all sanity.  Our house wanted to have one more dinner all together to celebrate the end of the year, and our first semester with each other. We wanted to be together one last time before Christmas break came and one of our dear sisters and housemates moved to Chicago for the following semester. As we were sitting around El Rancho (a delicious Mexican restaurant around here) we decided to go around and say one word that we thought described each person. Cheesy? Maybe. Necessary? Always. After we went around we “up-ed” the encouragement factor and went around again to state what we have learned from each person this semester.

Speechless. The table felt like a golden banquet. Kind word after kind word swept across the room and grin upon grin swept across every face. There were laughs, there were tears, and there were accidental noises in between. It was beautiful. It was memorable. It was awesome.

Why is it that affirming others, and receiving those affirmations seems to be so distant, uncomfortable, and foreign to us? We all need to encourage people more. Share with them that one word that could pierce their heart and that one lesson that they never knew they were teaching. What if we made this the norm? Not in a way that cheapened the meaning or made it something that we expected, but something that was just… easy, easy to slip from our lips and easy for our hearts to receive.

This house of unexpected friends has comforted my darkest hours and celebrated my greatest victories. Let us, as one body, be this house to each other.

Tonight was beautiful. Tonight I realized that although the craziness of finals and life seems to be so present, that this is what we are truly going to carry with us through our lives – the people that sharpen us, the relationships that hold us, and the memories that shape us.

I pray that your friends become your iron sharpeners, and I dare you to do what we did around the table tonight. You would be surprised the freedom and life one word and/or lesson learned can bring.

College is not only about the learning in the classroom, but it also encompasses building lasting relationships and memories. I have learned more about myself during these past four years from the people who surround me. My advice for all of you incoming freshman, be prepared to be humbled. Always keep an open mind and heart. It is easy to become annoyed with people who you live with 24/7, but keep in mind the bigger picture. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the good in people and learn from them.

Words cannot describe my thankfulness for such wonderful housemates and the Hope community.

God Bless,

Colleen