My Spring Break

Happy Monday, Readers!

I hope you all enjoyed your Spring Break and feel relaxed and rejuvenated as we enter this last sprint before the school year ends. As a senior, it felt like this Spring Break was needed more than ever before. Here’s a little glimpse into what I did!

For my break, I headed down to sunny Florida with my family. It was so nice to be able to spend one final break with them before my sister and I graduate. We had been to Florida before, but this break was different. This break was needed, and it didn’t feel long enough. We didn’t want to come home!

When we boarded our plane Thursday afternoon heading to Florida, we were cold and ready for the sun. I can say with confidence that we didn’t leave the sun for 10 straight days. We spent every day on the beach reading books, taking much-needed naps, and dipping our toes in the warm Gulf Coast water. We had some different excursions during the evenings, like going to a play, exploring the surrounding Naples area, and going on a sunset boat ride, but other than that, we played many games of cards and read a lot of books. It was blissful! Leaving Florida’s 75 degree weather and coming back to Michigan’s 30 degree weather was a wake-up call, but I’m glad to be back with my friends for these final weeks until graduation.

A view of the sunset from the boat tour we went on!
It was so much fun being able to go on Spring Break with my best friend!

I hope you all had a great break and are ready to push through these next few weeks!

Until next time!

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.

ColoROADtrip

I know… another Spring Break blog post, but guess what?!?!? This trip was so freakin’ amazing, there is now way that I can’t share! This past week, me and 9 other of my friends took off for Colorado.

For me, this was my first time out west (before this trip, I had never been more west that Illinois). This road trip was so good that, there is no way to cap it up in just a few short words, so I have made three subtopics: Adventure, Sights, and Friends.

Adventure. BOY, WAS IT EVER! We did a ton of adventuring in just one short week, both hot and cold. We hiked in a place called Red Rock, walked around Denver City, boulder-ed and climbed to the top of a flat iron in Boulder, drove up a mountain, watched the sun set over the mountain, hiked alongside Breckenridge mountain, and skied down Copper mountain (THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME EVER SKIING!!!). I had the time of my life doing these adventures.

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Half of that “time of my life” came from the sights. Wow. Just wow. That is all I can say. I was and still am blown away. Again, this is the first time I had ever seen anything like what I saw over spring break. It was all just breathtaking and amazing to see the beauty that God has put on this earth.

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The other half that made this trip the “time of my life” was the people. I love my friends and am so blessed to have met every single one of them. Over this trip we had amazing laughter and adventures, but we also just has amazing and godly conversation, something I always crave in relationships. This community that am I in, is one that is so nurturing for me both in helping others to grow and in the encouragement for me to grow as well. I know it is super cliche, but #blessed.

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All in all, this has been the best Spring Break of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.


For more about me, follow me on twitter @hopejohnluke17 or on Instagram at johnlukehawkins. If you have a question you can email me at john.hawkins@hope.edu. Until next time!

Memorable Spring Break (Part II)

I thought it would be nice to split up my Spring Break adventures into two separate posts, since I had so much going on. Here’s Part II:

Wednesday

On Wednesday, Audrey and I decided to go back downtown to tour the Castillo de San Marcos fort, which was awesome! Going through all of the different rooms and sleeping quarters was really interesting. Plus, when walking through, some people carved their names into the walls and we saw a couple who dated their names in 1883!! After walking around the fort and getting some good pictures, we were craving some Mexican food and stumbled upon Fiesta Jack’s, which had great burritos. We chowed down and headed back to our condo and read for a while on the porch and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to celebrate by making some puppy chow and watching some TV to end our eventful day.

Thursday

It happened to be raining on Thursday, so what better thing to do than get pedicures! Audrey, her mom and I got pampered for an hour in those massage chairs while we got our nails done. We then ran a few errands and later enjoyed listening to the rain while reading. There’s nothing better than snuggling in a blanket and reading while it’s pouring outside! We read for a while (followed by napping) and decided to watch “What a Girl Wants” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.” Audrey had never seen either of the “Sisterhood” movies prior to this break, so I made her experience them both! Once the movies were done, the sky had cleared up and we were able to look up at the stars and just hang out and chat before heading to bed.

Friday

This was probably the most eventful day yet! Audrey and I woke up early and went zip lining over crocodiles and various other creatures. It was my first time zip lining and I had such a blast because the instructor was on the ground watching both of us, so we were completely on our own. Luckily we survived the snarling albino crocodiles and didn’t make complete fools of ourselves while people below us were watching. Following this adventure, we decided to go back to the outlet malls and buy a few things that we both had our eyes on—maybe spent more than we needed to, but it was SO worth it. I’m pretty sure we got back to the apartment and took a nap before we headed back downtown to a cute pizza place and enjoyed one last meal all together.

Saturday and Sunday

Sadly, I had to fly back to Michigan on Saturday after such a warm and fun week in Florida. My flight landed in Grand Rapids that afternoon and I was fortunate enough to stay at my friend Connor’s house for the remaining of the weekend and get acclimated to the cold weather. Since it’s March Madness, we watched countless hours of basketball, played some ping pong and just relaxed before having to back to school on Sunday.

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Well there you have it! That was my awesome Spring Break in Florida, filled with so many good times and long talks with my close friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better break to end out my senior year!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Memorable Spring Break (Part I)

I’m beyond relieved that spring is finally among us! I was getting pretty tired of this winter and the ever-present snow that accumulated on every sidewalk. Since I traveled down to Florida for Spring Break this past week, it was nice coming back to Holland with hardly any snow on the ground. I thought I would dedicate this blog post to my adventures I had in Florida with my friend Audrey and her parents!

Friday

Audrey and I woke up at 3:30 AM or so and hit the road by 4:30 AM with her parents and all of our luggage. It was quite a sight having blankets, pillows, snacks and luggage all piled into one car! The first leg of the trip consisted of a lot of sleeping as well as a few pit stops at gas stations, Starbucks, Cracker Barrel, and Subway. It’s an understatement to say that my butt was sore after sitting in the car for 14 hours until we called it a day when we reached Atlanta. A horizontal surface never felt so good when I collapsed on the hotel room’s queen-sized bed after being hunched in the most awkward positions in the car. After we settled in, we quickly got some food at Applebee’s and watched some HGTV before falling asleep before the next day of car riding.

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Saturday

This car ride felt much shorter since we were almost in warm, sunny Florida. After riding for another handful of hours, we finally arrived in St. Augustine, FL, where we immediately dropped our stuff off and went to the grocery store for some necessities and staple food items. The rest of the day consisted of exploring the area, going down to the beach and simply relaxing!

Sunday

This particular Sunday was very special because it was the 125th anniversary of the St. Augustine Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown St. Augustine. The inside of the church was absolutely beautiful and you’d never guess who Audrey and I ran into there! We happened to meet a lady that graduated from Hope in 1950!!! After the service, we toured around Flagler College and the surrounding area, which was a ton of fun. Once we got back to our condo, Audrey and I thought we would take advantage of the warmth and lay out near the pool and soak up some sun… little did we realize, the sun was a lot stronger than we thought, so we got some pretty terrible burns. That night was very interesting in regards to putting soothing lotion all over our bodies and struggling to get comfortable in our beds while trying to avoid the burnt areas on ourselves.

Monday

Day one of shopping at the outlet malls! The whole day was dedicated to shopping and getting great deals at stores such as The Loft, Kate Spade, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gap, Nike and others that I cannot recall right now! After a busy day of trying things on, we went out to dinner at a place called Salt Water Cowboys, where the “restaurant” is literally a shack in a swamp! This is Audrey’s all-time favorite restaurant, so we obviously had to go. I was surprised by how many people knew about this place because once we finished our meal, the line was out the door and down the dock, all waiting to be seated at the next available table.

Tuesday

After still recovering from our nasty sunburns from Sunday, Audrey and I thought we should try to stay out of the sun another day. We ended up meeting up with Audrey’s mom and aunt and headed to downtown St. Augustine to look at the Lightner Museum. What was really cool was the koi pond, but also an building that use to house an indoor swimming pool but was converted to a restaurant. We ate some lunch there and it was really fun to say we were eating in “the deep end.” Afterwards, we wandered down St. George street going in and out of various shops and eventually getting some ice cream at Kilwins.

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This sums up the first part of my trip. Stay tuned for the second part to my Florida excursion.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Being Happy Where You Are

Beach photos. Tan, with ice cream cones dripping in their henna-tattooed hands. Driving a dune buggy and soaking up some rays.

No, I wasn’t on vacation this past week, but I sure saw a lot of pictures from people who were.

I was at home, taking pictures of my breakfast and my cat and dog, living it up in the clouds and brown grass outside my Detroit suburb home. I got a little bitter and jealous of everyone having a fun-filled vacations.

This is normal, I think, because isn’t it natural for someone sitting around in cold Michigan to wish they could be somewhere warm with friends? Sounds reasonable. But still there’s a part of me that realizes how far this extends into other places in life, such as the college you go to, the job you have, and so much more.

Life’s about being happy where you are. It’s about looking at what’s around you and finding the best in it, making the best of it. I tried to do that over break once I realized where my mindset was. So I made breakfast at midnight with my step-sister, Hannah, for her 22nd birthday (See Taylor Swift’s “22”), exercised, went on trips with my dog, and made homemade donuts. Sometimes you have to make your own adventures.

As I write this I’m in the car on the way back to Holland, and I’m so excited! The sun is warming up and we only have about 5 weeks left. The summer before Hope, I was so excited! Then when I was at school for about the first month, I wanted to be anywhere but Hope. After learning to love the place I’m at, there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be. It just takes some time to adjust : -) Even if you don’t feel okay at the beginning, I guarantee that it will turn around!

For anybody, I encourage you to keep this thought in your mind. For prospective students – remember that the college transition, wherever you go, will not be easy. You’ll find yourself perusing Facebook and wishing you were having as much fun as your friends, when they might be feeling the same way.

Give it time and give it love. : -)

I’m sure my bitter feelings will resurface once I see all of my friends tan faced, but I’ll just think of this post and be glad that I’m one less vacation away from wrinkly skin when I’m old.

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If you have any questions for me you can contact me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, through Hope on Facebook, or my Twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!

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!