Dream Again


What if Martin Luther King Jr. Had a Dream, came off of the Mountaintop
And went home?
What if he caved to the pressure of self doubt
And journaled his thoughts instead in some quiet quaint safe place, smiled deeply, closed the front cover, put down his pen, and tucked his journal neatly in his bottom left drawer under some papers?

What if Martin Luther King Jr. stayed away from crowds because of the noise and lounged long evenings on his chair in front of the television, his dream kicking up air somewhere in the back of his mind, but settling there as he drifted off to sleep?

What if he knew he was right, but was just too tired to try fighting Goliath?

The horizon of passion kindled in his blood when he said yes to every dream. His vision grew clearer, the passion brighter, his following stronger.

*Unbury your journal. Wipe the sleep from your eyes and worry from your quivering chin. Dream again. I dare you.

Dreaming About Something New

Michelle at Tetons

Rob and I have served in ministry together at Granger Community Church for 21 years. The first ten or so years, we were side by side in the trenches…I worked just as hard as he did building and equipping middle school and high school students, college students and young adults, as well as leaders to become fully devoted followers of Christ, taking their next steps toward Christ together. We lived in a small apartment on one salary. GCC got a two for one deal for many years when we came and served together–But we loved it. We were fully alive when we were serving together. Some of the most amazing days of our lives happened in those ten years. We saw God work in marvelous ways, we saw floods of students give their lives to Christ, families drawn together, etc. It was beautiful.

Rob’s job shifted from youth and young adult ministry about then, and he became Pastor of Life Mission. It was during this time that we travelled to India for the first time and fell in love with people that changed our lives, rocked our worlds, and challenged everything we believed in. They gave us hope for the Kingdom of God, that it truly would forcefully advance there and around the world. We made several trips to India together, then as a family in the next few years. Rob and I got to write our book, “Share the Well” together, truly a dream come true for both of us – Me, to sit at the feet of women church planters who have survived unbelievable things to carry their cross and follow Jesus. Rob, teaching Church planters new strategies on reaching their world for Jesus. I wrote a blog post about how I feel when I am in India, I remember saying I feel most “alive” there, serving men and women considered to be “Untouchable” in India, but truly royalty in our eyes.

We have had some amazing, astounding moments serving together at GCC. We are forever grateful for what we have learned and how we have grown in the past 21 years. I was 19 years old when I joined Rob here–A mere 4 years older than my oldest daughter is right now. I literally grew up here. I’ve spent my entire adult life in the shadow of Granger Community Church. As the church has grown larger, Rob’s job has shifted, and then some more. With the church growing larger, the need for simple people like me to serve in junction with Rob has diminished almost completely. It’s been hard and sad and I’ve felt like a third string player for a while–Benched, or sidelined because I am not an astounding artist, musician, teacher, preacher, or whatever.

What GCC delivers on the weekend is world class. We have some of the finest artists and musicians in our area. It’s fabulous. It’s wonderful. I get it. It still makes me sad not to be able to serve with Rob the way we did for those first ten years we served side by side together. It has been hard for to watch this family I’ve known for twenty-one years turn from a “family” into a mega organization. It takes an organization to reach thousands for Jesus, I suppose, but nostalgic me misses the peace that came from knowing who I went to church with, knowing Rob’s coworkers, and selfishly, I miss being involved in all of it.

We both have felt an inward churn for a few years now, wondering if there is something else we could do, that would be together. When we got married, we felt called to serve together. It’s who we are. The largeness of a mega church is overwhelming to me as a solid introvert. The public-ness of our lives is overwhelming to our family. The celebrity culture of “Mega” puts Rob, our lives and our family on this pedestal of greatness that is odd to me. We are regular people, trying to live our regular lives, trying to raise our regular kids. We want to love Jesus and serve people.

We love Granger Community Church. It has been our home for twenty-one years. Rob and I feel it is time to venture out into something new together. We want to be reunited in the passions of serving Jesus that originally united our hearts. We don’t even know what that means yet. We are so grateful for the love and support of GCC and the many staff who are truly family to us. We know it is time to move on. It is time to begin a new phase of our marriage and our lives together as a family.

We appreciate your prayers of love and support as we go through this painful transition time. It truly feels like a death to us–a death to a life we’ve had here, a great life. A death to be born again into something new.

We appreciate your love for our children. If you don’t really know our kids extremely well, please, please, don’t hug them, kiss them, talk to them, console them, or even touch them. They will be fine. Any extra emotional vibes they get from people they don’t know well will just freak them out. Each of our girls have amazing leaders in their different small groups or church classes. They will be well loved and cared for in those environments. Change is hard. It is difficult for all of us.

Know we love everyone on the GCC staff. We may not see eye to eye on everything, but what family does? Love has grown this church, and love will continue to grow it.

Ask me questions in private. Message me through Facebook or my blog. I may take awhile to get to responding, but know you matter to me. A lot. Most of all, you matter to God. He’s got this; and I’m sure glad He does.


Twenty Years In The Field Of Dreams

Twenty years ago Rob and I moved from the South Side of Chicago to the middle of corn on the cob land Indiana.  We had lived in Chicago our whole lives–my time in college right in the middle of downtown.  We loved the city.  We loved driving from the suburbs on a Friday night just to visit one of our favorite ice cream places downtown.  We loved to go to the zoos and walk down Oak Street Beach.  We even made an appearance on an early airing of the Oprah show (well, we were audience members in the very back row, but our faces were visible on T.V. for 3.5 seconds, so it counts, right?)

Immediately after Rob graduated from college in 1992, he began working for Granger Community Church.  At the time, we met in a movie theater just between Main St. and Grape Rd.  Only there was no Main St. at the time.  There was also no Starbucks, Walmart, Target, Fridays, or Uptown Kitchen.  I do believe there was a Ryans, and a Chili’s–no Meijer, Barnes and Noble or Five Guys.

But, there were endless fields and wide open skies everywhere we looked. And we liked it.

A Move to The Wide Open

In our years of South Suburban living, we were Cubs and Sox fans–an issue that still divides us today. Rob has always been a White Sox fan, me, a true blue Cubs fan. We both pulled for the Bears, the Bulls and occasionally the Black Hawks.  We attended a few of our own high school basketball games. We never watched college football or watched high school basketball on T.V.  I’ll never forget turning on our 16 inch T.V. propped up on a milk crate in our first apartment and seeing high school basketball airing.  I was dumbfounded.

Growing up in a big city, no one in our circles of influence talked high school or college sports.  No one.  Unless you were the one in the sport or their close family member–It was all about the local teams. The worship of high school and college sports in our new home town was something completely foreign to us.

My high school was multi-ethnic, multi-racial, full of students and teachers from every socioeconomic place you could imagine. I had friends who were very rich, and extremely poor.  My first impression of Granger was that the women looked like they had just walked off the set of a soap opera and the men from the golf course.  When I went to the grocery store, I was shocked to see women in high heels with perfect make-up pushing shopping carts adorned with perfectly made up children.  This was different.

What surprised me the most in moving to this sprouting metropolis was the friendliness of people wherever I’d find myself.  People would look me in the eye, talk for a minute or two–just chat to be nice.  This was so odd and unfamiliar to me.  Where I grew up, you walked in a place, kept your head down, got what you needed and left as quickly as possible.  This new friendliness intrigued me. It still does.

I was nineteen turning twenty and my whole world changed by planting ourselves only 90 minutes away from home.

Watching it Grow

Living in this community at first, I realized that no one was “from” here.  Well, a very few…but it seemed as if everyone was from somewhere else. In Chicago, our family had come off the boat from Holland some 150 years ago, settled on the South Side of Chicago and never left.  Everyone we knew was “from” Chicago with very few exceptions.  People who lived in Michiana were mostly not from Michiana.  They had pulled up roots from somewhere else to move to this born from the corn-on-the-cob land Indiana, just like us.

In our first five years here, the community around us began to sprout up quickly.  More and more families moved here.  It seemed as if every time we turned around there was a new housing development being built, and the next time we turned around, it was full of bikes, baby strollers and people mowing lawns.

New streets were paved and a new restaurant or grocery store went up every other day.  The rapid pace of growth and change was exhilarating for everybody.  New schools were built for all the new families. New subdivisions erased traces of old farms, fields, and endless skies. We threw away countless irrelevant street maps every year as the community grew and changed. (Young people, note this was before GPS–we did actually have to use street maps to get around)

Calling It Home

With the economy slowing down a bit (mild exaggeration, I know) in the past few years, we’ve seen the progress around us slow as well.  Some of those shiny new shops and restaurants we saw go up so quickly are now boarded up, sitting empty, or have shifted ownership a few times. It hurt to see those around us hurt from this big slow down.  It was around this time I realized I had become attached to this community–I had become a Hoosier.

Our newly shared history as a community is something we know we all have built and grown with dreams and hard work. We are proud of it, and we should be. The longer I live here, the longer I love the history of this place and the now-reality of it.   I look at the schools my girls have had the privilege to attend.  I see their teachers smiling at them, cheering for them, expecting their best, and I am thankful.




A Part of The Dream


The barns I drove past twenty years ago are aging as every rough Michiana winter passes.  I have become obsessed with photographing these old barns, hoping to preserve some of their beauty and history in film. One of the barns I photographed last autumn is now laying in a shambles, crumbled under its own rotting weight. I hope the photos will tell the story of what once was and how these fields changed and grew into what so many of us now call home.

I took my girls for a drive down Main Street in Mishawaka yesterday. I told them, “None of this was here when your dad and I came. It was all a field of dreams.”  Of course they rolled their eyes at my sentimentality. But it was worth it.
Those endless fields have now been filled with men, women and children with hopes and dreams of their own.  I’m glad we planted ourselves here twenty years ago.  I still don’t wear high heels to the grocery store, but I do have a sort of growing affection for high school and college sports,

but definitely never the White Sox.


This article appears in the October 2012 issue of Michiana FAMILY magazine, which in my opinion is a part of the field of dreams as well.



Heaven Is For Real

Heaven is for real I just finished up the book “Heaven is for Real.’ Normally I don’t enjoy books like this that sensationalize someone’s experience of the “afterlife” and coming back, but this one pulled me in #1, because it was a child, and #2 because it has been on the New York Times best sellers list for awhile, and I wanted to read what all the fuss was about.

The synopsis of the story is this: A little boy suffers for a week or more with acute appendicitis that is untreated because of a doctor’s misdiagnosis. By the time the parents get him out of that hospital, the boy is near death. He is immediately operated on within minutes of arriving at a new hospital that actually did a CAT scan and diagnosed the burst appendix. During the surgery, the boy has a near death experience and visits Heaven. I won’t give any more details of the actual book away  in case you want to read it, but I will tell you what I thought about it.

  • At first I was skeptical. The boy is a pastor’s son, and certainly had lots of images of Jesus and Heaven read to him and spoken to him over his little 3 year old life. It could have been a freak of his imagination, or a very vivid dream
  • The more I read, the more I believed that this little boy probably did have a vision of the real Heaven and the real Jesus. When I say “real”, I mean “real” in a way that a 3 year old boy could understand without completely getting his mind blown
  • He came away from his experience with a very strong message from Jesus. “Jesus Loves The Little Children”.

My job isn’t to convince anyone that this book was real or a total fraud, but the thing that convinced me personally and made my neck hairs stand on end was this:

The father of this little boy was given the name of a little girl who had also seen visions of heaven. Akiane Kramarik began to have visions of Heaven and Jesus when she was four years old, never knowing about Jesus because her mother was an atheist. When I did a Google search for Akiane, and clicked on the first video that popped up, that’s when the neck hairs stood up.  About 15 years ago, I had a dream where Jesus was sitting with me in my childhood home. He said five simple words to me that I will never forget and have clung to ever since, “I am serving your family”. His eyes shone and sparkled and held the whole universe. His look was unlike any I had seen in paintings previously. He was burly, masculine, had short curly hair and a very bushy beard. The picture that Akiane painted was the picture of Jesus from my dream, only very slight differences. When Colton, the boy who had visited Heaven saw the picture, he said there was nothing “off” about it. It was Jesus to him.

Needless to say, this book made me love  Jesus more. I believe Jesus loves the little children. I believe He speaks to children in ways that they will understand. I believe He reaches the children no one else can, in ways no one else can. He reached out to me in this special way, and I am amazed by His love every single day.

I’d be curious to hear the stories of how Jesus reached out to you. He’s real. He’s alive, and at work in our world every day. Where have you seen Him?

Sharing The Song

Share The WellWhen Rob and I first went to India in 2002, we were blown away by the "at home" feeling we got when we were there. We knew immediately that God wanted us to plant our feet there for awhile and build relationships.

That Christmas, Rob took me to Indy to see Andrew Petersen’s Behold the Lamb concert at this teeny tiny church. There could not have been more than 100 people there.  It was small, intimate, and filled our hearts to overflowing.

Caedmon’s Call was also there, and they played songs from the Share The Well album. While they were playing these amazing songs about their experience in India, we felt God’s anointing such a profound way.  Ever since that day, we have had such a deep heart connection with that album that is really unexplainable.  Our kids know and love all the songs along with us.

When Rob said that he wanted to name our book “Share the Well”, I knew down to my toes that it was perfect.  We  made numerous attempts to contact somebody, anybody from Caedmon’s Call to let them know we were using the title "Share the Well" just to be respectful of them.  We couldn’t really reach anyone because everyone in the band is sort of off working on their own projects now.

Sunday night I get this message from my best friend from high school: 

I’m sitting here with Randall Goodgame and we showed him your book. He would love to talk to you guys (he wrote the song share the well for Caedmon’s). Could you send me some phone numbers for you and Rob? I’ll pass the info on to him.

She then explained:

Randall stopped by with his kids just to hang out (they live 2 streets over) and it did not occur to me to show it to him (no idea he was connected to Caedmon’s). Russ walks by it while we were gathering his kids together and says, "Hey, have you seen this book Share the Well?" Randall takes it and looks it over and gets tears in his eyes. He just loves the people of India and was so excited about seeing the book.

Is God awesome or what?  There is no way we could have orchestrated those events.  So grateful for seeing God’s hand at work in all of this.  We are so grateful that the guy who wrote the song was blessed by seeing the people of India that he loves so much in a book with a title that means so much to him.