What It’s Like to Work From Home

Working from home. The dream, right?

No commute.

No long drives to the office.

No early-morning wake-up calls.

No cubicle, no boss hovering over your shoulder, but definitely a cup of coffee in hand, sweatpants, no shoes, curled up in a blanket. Or, short of that, holed up in the corner of a cute little coffee shop with a laptop and some good tunes on repeat.

It can be a really good time.

My internship this semester is at a church in Chicago that does not yet have a permanent space; we meet in a banquet hall’s ballroom on Sundays and rent the space on Thursdays as well for music rehearsals. Other than that, we don’t really have a concrete location. I spend about half of my hours each week meeting with my boss at coffeeshops or setting up gear and running services at our rental space, but otherwise I’m quite on my own for a lot of the time.

I thought it couldn’t get any better. And some days, it can’t. I’m an ambivert – I am really fine with having a lot of alone time, but I need a pretty good amount of human interaction, too. That means that, on days when I’m on my own, I tend to make conversations with the strangers around me (usually kids or old people), just because I get some energy and joy that way. I also call and text my mom pretty often, and actually it’s getting to the point that I’m wondering if I’m becoming annoying (sorry Mom, I’m just alone a lot). I enjoy the alone time and I tend to work pretty well that way, but it can be hard to be alone all day while my roommate and friends are all usually in totally different parts of the city for nine or ten hours every day.

A major perk is that I have a ton of freedom to explore. I tend to ride the L around Chicago and find coffee shops to sit at and work pretty regularly so that I don’t end up getting stuck in my apartment. I love going to new places and finding unique spots to spend my time, especially during these early months of fall while it’s still pretty nice outside. It is fun for me not to be stuck in a white cubicle all day and to be able to learn about the city while experiencing it, all during work hours.

Restoration Roof
This fifth-floor rooftop at Restoration Hardware is one of my favorite places to read.

One of the hardest things for me about working from home is that I sometimes have a pretty hard time separating myself from my work. It’s not unusual for me to sit in my apartment on a Friday night feeling guilty for not working when I could be (or, sometimes, actually working to ensure that I get the number of hours that I need for the week). When you go to an office and come home at the end of the day, you can leave things there a little more easily, but when your apartment is half office, it can be a real challenge to separate work time from free time.

Working from home takes a lot of discipline and motivation (and coffee, if we’re being honest), but it also requires an ability to keep yourself on schedule and allow yourself the freedom to not be scheduled when your work hours end. It can be a hard balance, but it is an important part of today’s work force, and a huge part of my job.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think about working from home.

“Yet whenever your people turned and cried to you again for help, you listened once more from heaven. In your wonderful mercy, you rescued them many times!”

—Nehemiah 9:28

I Have a Coffee Dependence and I’m Not Proud

This blog post is about to be majorly overdramatic.

It all started when I was just a wee young lass. My grandma is a big coffee drinker and my grandpa loved his gas station cappuccinos. They live across town from the house I grew up in, and they’re totally the kind of grandparents who love to give their grandkids “treats.” I’m pretty sure we were all raised on caffeine. I’m serious, my brother was drinking black coffee at four years old. Recently I’ve started wondering how much taller he would be if that hadn’t happened. He would probably be in the NBA and/or a really good men’s volleyball player.

In junior high I started discovering the wonder of Starbucks Frappuccinos on youth group trips. In high school, the same brother introduced me to the campfire mocha from Caribou Coffee (I will love you forever, Caribou). I took a Keurig with me to college but only used it when I wanted coffee, not because I felt like I needed it to stay awake or function well (HOWEVER, Dr. Pepper was a different story – it is free with every meal in Phelps Dining Hall and I gave it up for Lent my freshman year, gave myself caffeine withdrawal migraines, and had to compensate with coffee).

Junior year is when things started to change. My friend Sarah and I discovered that the best time for us to do homework is early in the morning – And the best place to do it was at Lemonjello’s. Of course, we couldn’t just sit in LJ’s at 6:30 every morning and not buy anything (for more reasons than one) – I quickly realized that my morning cups of coffee were super beneficial in getting my homework done.

But really, the blame falls almost completely onto the shoulders of my friend Niall. He was my co-program director for day camp at Covenant Harbor this summer. The guy used to work at Starbucks. He orders everything with an extra shot of espresso and knows exactly how to make it taste really, really good. I brought a car to camp this summer and he did not, which means that any time he wanted coffee that wasn’t from camp (which was pretty much every day since coffee and camp are not exactly the best mix), I had to drive him to Starbucks, ergo I ended up ordering stuff there almost every day too. I quickly made the jump down from cold brew to iced coffee (so much cheaper) and then up from iced coffee to iced Americanos (almost as cheap and way more effective). I was drinking a cup of camp coffee in the morning, an Americano later in the morning (sometimes with a refill), and sometimes more coffee in the afternoon. Bad. Helpful in my tiring job, but bad.

This semester, I haven’t needed coffee to function like I did over the past year. There was one day that I didn’t drink it at all, and the next day I had a horrible migraine all day until I pumped myself up with enough caffeine to replace what I had skipped the day before. That’s when I realized the crazy coffee consumption was an actual problem. I don’t want to depend on coffee in order to be a functioning human. I went back to drinking a moderate amount of coffee every day in order to prevent myself from getting any more migraines, but the back of my head was like, “But should I actually…”

This week, I decided I don’t want coffee to rule my life anymore. Two days ago, I didn’t drink any coffee at all. Yesterday and today I’ve had a cup of decaf. I’ve heard it takes three days to stop the withdrawal headaches and I’m determined that I’m going to do it. I’m really not sure why I picked right now; I think I just figured I might as well. I’ll still drink coffee occasionally just because I like it, but I do not want to depend upon it anymore.

It’s a whole new world! I can be a functioning human without caffeine!

Thanks for reading! Make sure to keep up with me on Twitter and in my Etsy shop.

“Praise the Eternal, all nations.
    Raise your voices, all people.
For His unfailing love is great, and it is intended for us,
    and His faithfulness to His promises knows no end.
Praise the Eternal!”

—Psalm 117

Exploring Chicago, Week One


So, here’s a quick recap of my weird, exciting life that I love. I’m spending this semester living in Chicago and working as the worship arts intern at Community Christian Church Lincoln Park/Old Town. I’m taking a couple classes while I’m here through Chicago Semester and learning a whole bunch of stuff about the real world, all conveniently timed in the months leading up to my college graduation. It’s been a blast so far.

I attended Pillar Church all throughout my time at Hope, and to be honest, the church I am working at really could not be more different from Pillar if it tried (they both have Jesus at the center, though, which is the most important thing). I am loving the experience at Community Christian because it is opening up a new perspective and appreciation for things that are different from what I’m used to. I also work with really awesome people and it has been so fun to get to know them and to learn from them.

I’m also loving exploring the area that I live in. My apartment is in Gold Coast, which lies super close to Old Town, Lincoln Park, and the Magnificent Mile. Yesterday, I had about an hour and a half before I had to be at rehearsal at my church in Lincoln Park/Old Town (affectionately referred to as LPOT), so I spent that time wandering through the neighborhoods surrounding where I live. It was fun and beautiful and I came away with a list of new places I need to go to. I am walking more while living here than I ever have at any point in my life, because there is just SO MUCH to explore. I have hatched so many Pokemon eggs already.

One thing about the city is that it can be so stinkin’ expensive. I work in coffee shops a lot because my internship has a lot of work that can be done remotely, and I realized this morning that Starbucks is the cheapest place I have been. It is alarming when Starbucks prices suddenly start to sound like a deal. However, a cool thing about living in a city instead of a small town is that there is so much competition that a lot of times, places will have crazy great deals (or even free stuff!!) to entice you to use their service instead of someone else’s. A couple days ago, UberEats sent one of the guys in my program a coupon code for $20 off any order, so he sent it to all of us and we all got dinner delivered to our apartment building for FREE. It was awesome.

Overall, I’m loving being able to just wander the streets of Chicago and be amazed by everything I see. I have taken so many pictures already and I am tired of my phone telling me that it is almost out of storage. I know, iPhone, I know.

I’m learning so much during my time here, thinking a lot about a lot of big issues and about who I am as a person, and I am loving getting to know the people and the city around me. 10/10 would recommend the Chicago Semester – I am SO GLAD I am here!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow @hopekathryn17 on Twitter, @chicagosemester on Snapchat, and @lakespointcollective on Instagram, or send me an email at kathryn.krieger@hope.edu.

“I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”

—Psalm 16:7-8

And We Back. Just Kidding, We’re in Chicago.

Hello, everyone! I’m back for my last semester of college (and student blogging) but I’m not actually back… I’m in Chicago studying through the Chicago Semester! I’ve moved into my teeny tiny apartment, I’ve landed an internship I’m stoked about (and figured out how to get there), I’ve set off the fire alarm in my apartment (apparently small amounts of smoke from cooking sausages are quite problematic in shoebox-sized apartments), MAJOR OOPS because I’ve accidentally paid $6 for an iced vanilla latte at an adorable outdoor coffee shop, I’ve swum in Lake Mich (the other side, of course), and, perhaps most importantly, I have NOT gotten on the wrong L train. Yet.

Killin’ it.

Spending time at the Fountain of the Great Lakes with my roommate and friend, Stephanie (in professional attire, of course)

I grew up about two hours from the city but never really visited it much except for a few school field trips. It was never really my favorite place. Then I started dating that one guy who lives in Chicago and I totally fell in love with the city. Over the past two years I’ve gotten to visit him a bunch of times and I realized that there’s way more to Chicago than I ever knew about before, and I’m so excited to live and work here for at least a few months.

While I’m here I’m taking a few classes which I’m really excited about (one involves lots of field trips to different parts of the city so that we can learn about diversity and inequality here, which I think is going to be super interesting and formative!). I am also interning with the arts director at Community Christian Church in Lincoln Park/Old Town (LPOT for short) and I’m really excited to start in just a couple days. I practiced my commute there today and I just wish it was a little less ugly.

Just kidding. It’s stunning and I’m taking this route to work every single day and I’m probably going to walk it on the days that I don’t even have to be at work because I love it that much. By the way, my internship is half a mile from my apartment so I get to walk there instead of taking a long train or bus ride. Short distance, awesome views – such a win-win.

I also have to be an adult and go to bed and wake up at reasonable times, pay actual rent to an actual landlord, do this thing that professional-sounding people call “networking,” and also something called “laundry”????

Beats me.

So far, I’m loving it except for the fact that the nearest Culver’s is over an hour away but I have a Chick-fil-A within half a mile so that’s a pretty good tradeoff. I am so happy that I made the decision to spend my last semester studying off campus in Chicago – just one of so many awesome opportunities that have opened up during my time at Hope! As cheesy as it sounds, I can’t wait to see what this semester has in store and how much cheesy deep dish pizza I am going to eat (I already had bruschetta from Giordano’s yesterday and I’m not exaggerating when I say I could survive on just that stuff). Thanks for reading!

Make sure you keep up with me on Twitter (@hopekathryn17) and Snapchat (@chicagosemester) to stay in the loop (get it? the Loop? #chicagojokes) about my semester in Chicago. You can also email me at kathryn.krieger@hope.edu!

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
    to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
    and they exist because you created what you pleased.”

—Revelation 4:11

What I’ve Learned on Worship Team

As you may know if you’ve read my blog before, I have the privilege of being on the worship team at Hope. I get to help lead music at Hope’s worship services multiple times a week. It is my favorite thing that I do at Hope. When I look back on my time in college, I am pretty positive that this will be the thing that I think of, even though I was only on the team for one year. It has been a privilege and a blessing to work with such wonderful people day after day, all for the glory of the Lord that we love. I am thankful.

Last night, the two worship teams combined our seniors (since this is my last semester on the team due to my early graduation, I count!) and came together for our last Gathering rehearsal (the Gathering is our big Sunday night service, and the final one of the year is on Sunday). It was fun to play with a couple people that I do not normally see as much since they are on the other team, and I am thankful to get to call the people on this team some of my best friends. My team, Team Y (or Ysenhower, as I like to call us), also had our last service together as a full team yesterday at chapel. In light of these endings, I thought it would be appropriate to rehearse the faithfulness of the Lord in this post and to name some of the things that I’ve had the privilege to see him do throughout my time on worship team this year!

Team Y
Ysenhower after our last Chapel (appropriately, on Yndsday!)

What I’ve Learned on Worship Team

  • People you’ve never seen before in your life can become a family with whom you feel at rest, at ease – like you can heave the sigh that’s been growing in the pits of your soul for the past week and finally let it go. It is a gift and a blessing.
  • Meeting with people multiple times a week at 7 a.m. when you just rolled out of bed at 6:55 is the best thing. Few things bond you like, in the words of one campus staff member, “seeing each other when you’re nasty.”
  • Prayer is powerful. When I’ve asked for bold clarity from the Lord this year, I’ve seen it, and I’m thankful.
  • The Lord will sustain us through things we did not think were possible. Last year I had a node on my vocal cords and did not talk for a week in order to treat it. After that, my voice was super out of shape and I would go stand in the congregation at the Gathering, unable to even sing through three songs in a row during worship. Now I sing more songs than that in one rehearsal, and I am able to do so healthily.
  • Being a worship leader is a really cool job that I might actually want on an even longer-term basis. It doesn’t just entail a person who shows up to do music on Sundays; there is room for a worship leader to be someone who shepherds people through life if they have the desire to do so and if the Lord gives them the opportunity (notes from Zac Hicks and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, where this year’s seniors were thankful to help lead some services and attend some sessions).
  • The words we say and sing and repeat in worship are immensely important. They get stuck in our heads and begin to shape our perceptions and our faith lives in powerful ways. We have to be conscious of the things that we are saying and the things that we are leading other people in saying – are they true? Are they good? Do they reflect the character of God? If we are not sure, then perhaps we should pick different words (Christopher Williams reminded us of this in powerful ways).
  • Lemonjello’s and Stovetop Roasters are important. But if I finish my cup of coffee within 30 minutes of starting Chapel, my voice and body both feel shaky. Bonus points if I decided to wear some sort of heels that day.
  • It’s cool to have recordings of music that you made. It’s cooler to have recordings of music that your friends made and that you made with your friends. The recording of “All Thy Fullness” on this year’s worship team CD, Fairer, will always make me cry because I can just hear the love of the team and their love for the Lord.
  • Visual art, dance, sign language, and far more are forms of worship too. It is powerful to be able to partner with people who are practicing worship differently than you are and to come alongside one another and work together in leading (Silent Praise, Sacred Dance).
  • Say thank you often. More things than you consider probably go into any given thing that you do. Think hard about the process. Who set up my microphone at 6:30 a.m. before I showed up to rehearsal? Who printed out my lead sheets? Who wrote the song, and what verses and experiences shaped it?
  • Change and new things are good. So are old classics. May “All Hail Christ” never die.
  • I am confident that I have seen and will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. This team, the chaplains over at Campus Ministries, the tech team, the people who clean Dimnent Chapel, the people who write our music (some of whom, like Sandra McCracken, we’ve gotten to meet and even play with!) and the students of Hope College who worship with us have all had huge parts in helping me to see this. It has been unforgettable, impactful, and glorious to watch heaven come down to the earth around us. As our worship leader, Bruce, often says, Dimnent Chapel has become a thin place countless times this year – where the distance between heaven and earth becomes marginal because the presence of the Lord is so evident. The Lord is near to us. It is a gift to see this so often and to know that he has truly never left us alone. All the fullness of the Lord is here among us.
Seniors and friends after leading with Sandra McCracken (front row, next to me!) at Calvin’s Worship Symposium in January.

I could go on forever, but I have to get on to some final projects (and I don’t want to cry in Starbucks this morning), so I’ll leave this here. Thank you for reading.

If you’re interested in worship at Hope, tweet me at @hopekathryn17, send me an email at kathryn.krieger@hope.edu, check out this year’s albums, Fairer and Beatitudes EP, and check out the Campus Ministries website!

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

—Psalm 27:13

How I Stay Organized

Hello, everyone! One thing I have learned to do well this year is staying organized with my assignments, being aware of when big papers and tests are coming up (which is a big, recent development) and taking better care to write down when I have meetings, work, and rehearsals to make sure that I don’t miss anything. I have figured out a pretty good system that works well for me, so I thought I would share it!

My Day Designer planner!

One of the biggest challenges I’ve always had with getting organized was finding a good planner that worked for me and sticking to it. Typically, each year of college, I have bought about three different planners during the first couple months of school and then still haven’t been able to find anything that works for me, so I tend to just give up and wing it, hoping that I make it to all the things I am supposed to be at. For obvious reasons, things usually slip through the cracks. I am not a Google Calendar person; it feels like too much work to me to pull out my laptop and fire up the website every time I need to take note of something. I am much more of a paper and pencil person anyway, so I try to stay true to that in whatever ways I can (like my planner!).

I love the planner I’ve had this year (the only one I bought!). I got it at Target and it is called the “Day Designer.” I’ve seen bigger and better versions online, but the Target version works perfectly for me! It’s actually a little on the pricier side of what I’ve ever bought for planners, but when you consider that I usually buy three cheaper ones before giving up, I probably actually saved money by just going for a nicer one right off the bat.

The calendar inside my planner.

Normally I just leave the calendar pages in my planner blank and focus on the individual daily sections, but I have realized this semester how helpful and important the calendar pages are! I write out all my assignments for the semester and obligations that I know about (like worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, and work) and keep them color-coded (blue is my web design class, green is developmental psychology, etc.), and then I cross them off as I do them and I cross the whole day off when it’s over.

It makes me feel so accomplished to have things to cross off throughout the day, and it keeps me aware of when I have a lot of little assignments piling up or a big assignment due soon (things in boxes are “big assignment” due dates – you can see that there have been weeks where it has been important for me to know in advance that so much is coming up!). The sticky note helps me mark my place in my planner and has eventually become full of doodles and little notes for random things I am doing, but it’s pretty unimportant.

Daily pages
Here is what the daily columns and my weekly to-do list look like at the moment!

Here are the more specific planner pages for this week. I have an hourly schedule on these pages, so this is where I write down meetings, class, and rehearsals, and I cross them off as I go to them. If I have something really important that I’m sure I’m going to forget about, I usually write that down here as well (there is a three-spot to-do list at the top of each day!). I also cross these days off as they end, and I keep track of random things and important happenings in the side columns. This planner also has a designated spot in the side column for gratitude – what a great idea to get me to practice being thankful each day and each week!

On the right in the photo, you can see my weekly to-do list. I got this in the $1 section at Target and I’m pretty sure it was the best dollar I have ever spent. This is where I kind of combine things from my calendar and my hourly schedule and add in whatever else is going on, like if I need to list something in my Etsy shop or mail my grandparents a thank-you note. I cross off everything as I do it here too, but you can see that sometimes everything does not get done here every day. This is the page where it is okay if I don’t finish absolutely everything, because some of the things on here are more things that I would like to do than things I have to do (if I don’t run every day, the world does not end).

Neither of these pages are color-coded, and that works fine for me. Clearly I am also not super picky about the colors of pens that I use. My only color-coding is with highlighters on my calendar page so that I can be sure to keep assignments straight for my different classes. I probably could color-code these pages as well, but it does not feel necessary to me, so it does not happen.

I use the Reminders app that comes on every iPhone to set a reminder if I have something that really needs to urgently get done or if I don’t have my planner on me when I find out about something. I also try to do my best to write things out as soon as I know about them, so sometimes that means I’m furiously filling out my planner as a professor makes announcements in the middle of class or making a note in it every time I read an email. It’s been really important for me to be consistent and diligent with this so that it is actually effective! It’s worked super well for me this year, so I hope this may be helpful for you too!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to keep up with me on Twitter (@hopekathryn17), Etsy (LakesPointCollective), or to shoot me an email at kathryn.krieger@hope.edu.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

—Acts 4:12

My Chicago Semester 2016

You may have caught from another one of my posts that this is my last semester on campus at Hope. Next semester I will be participating in the Chicago Semester program, and then I graduate! I am so, so excited about the program that I am doing in the fall, but a lot of people do not know that much about it, so I thought I would offer a quick overview of why I am looking so forward to this fall.

The Chicago Semester program is geared (to a certain degree) toward education and social work majors, but students of any major may apply to participate. I’m a Religion major, so I am just doing the general program, rather than any of the more specialized tracks, which have a few different requirements. My two friends who are going are both studying management. This fall, my program will involve an 8-credit internship four days a week, and two 4-credit classes which meet once a week, one of which is my senior seminar, my last required class credit.

Kayaking the Chicago River!

I am excited about this program for a variety of reasons! One aspect is that it is a really good use of my leftover credits. I need 15 credit hours next semester to graduate, but my only required class is my four-credit senior seminar. With 11 other credits floating around so open-ended, I thought it would be really productive to use them on an internship rather than a bunch of random (potentially freshman-level) classes.

Chicago is also closer to my hometown since I’m from North Central Illinois, so I will be much closer to my friends and family. I’m really excited to be able to go home a little more often and to see a lot of my friends who live in the city!

There are so many great opportunities in Chicago. I’m hoping to have my internship at a church, but they set people up with a really broad range of organizations (I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of someone doing their internship at the Shedd Aquarium. So cool!). I also get to live with one of my best friends in a really nice neighborhood in a really sweet part of the city. Think: Walking distance to Water Tower Place (and the Cheesecake Factory), Lincoln Park Zoo, the beach, and Giordano’s. It’s going to be so great for so many reasons!

Lincoln Park Zoo
Larry and I at Lincoln Park Zoo!

Over the past two years, I have gone from a small-town-forever-I-hate-Chicago-and-you-can-lock-me-in-my-room-forever-and-I-wouldn’t-even-mind person to an adventurous explorer who is unafraid of new people, places, and things, and most relevantly, who loves Chicago. I cannot wait to explore a city that I have grown to appreciate in so many ways, and to live there for at least a short time – Something I never thought I would get to do!

I’d invite you all to come visit, but I am living in a studio apartment and have no place for you to stay. Sorry!

Questions? Tweet me (@hopekathryn17) or send me an email at kathryn.krieger@hope.edu!

“O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.”
—Psalm 51:15