November 7, 2009

RiverTown Food Drive

Wow!  What a DAY yesterday.  RiverTown Crossings Mall partnered with ACCESS for their 10th Anniversary celebration and turned it into a food drive.  When we got there, people were lined up all throughout the food court - some waited nearly 3 hours to turn in their food and get their $20 gift card.  I don't know what we expected, but we definitely didn't expect this kind of turn out!  We worked our tails off all day to collect and package the food and ended up with an amazing 7 TONS of food!! WOW!  Thanks everyone!!  I am pretty sore today from all the heavy lifting, but it was such a fun event.  I always love to see people come together with their families and their community to do good.  Something about the collaborative effort and community involvement just makes Grand Rapids such an amazing place to be.  Enjoy some of the pics from the day!

November 5, 2009

Those Eighty Acres... and so on.

I just gotta say that I am thrilled for Jordan's new band - Nate Scott & Those Eighty Acres.  These guys have been playing together for about 6 or 8 (or more?) months and are going to be releasing their first CD very shortly!  It is called "1905" and it is seriously one that you can listen to straight through.  It has been in my CD player all week and I love it.  SO - here is my little plug for their album.  I think you should give it a listen to when it is released in a few weeks.  Not to mention some pretty awesome guys in the band. :-)

 Some more updates...

 Work is crazy busy right now.  We are in the midst of our busiest "need" season at the pantries, etc... along with our busiest "we need help" season.  I have fundraiser events and appeal letters coming out my ears right now.  I can't wait til January when we can look back and see that everyone was fed and that once again, God was good and provided for us financially.  Until then, we'll all be working our tails off.  The break between Christmas and New Years will be much needed!!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Jordan and I are planning on going down to Tennessee with the rest of the family to see Ben and Krista!  We haven't seen them since July and I am VERY excited to spend some time with them.  We had gotten used to having Ben around and I always miss my sister when she is gone... so it will be a great week of catching up and creating memories!  I am excited to get out and do some hiking (maybe shopping?) as well!!

For the past year and a half Jordan and I have been what I call "church homeless".  We have been searching for a home church where we can really sink our roots into and it has not been an easy search.  I just feel like where you go to church is such a personal decision, and at the same time you want to leave yourself open to God's leading.  Jordan and I visited many churches and spent significant time at a few.  There were some where I felt like I could be happy there, but Jordan wasn't ready to settle and vice-versa.  We needed to find a place where we both felt at home and felt like God could challenge us and use us.  Well... after many many many months of searching, Jordan and I have landed at Crossroads Bible Church.  We have been going there for a couple of months and we both love it.  We feel challenged every week by the message Rod brings and just love the embracing community there.  We have recently gotten connected with their music team and start our first bible study there on Sunday!  It is hard to be new at a church regardless of how much you like it.  I am really excited to start meeting people and build relationships with others who go there.  We both feel very good about this decision and can't wait to see how God uses us and this church.

A delayed "thank you".

A couple of months ago I talked about how I was nominated to be the Young Non Profit Professional of the Year.  Well... I am a little late in reporting this, but the awards ceremony was on October 15.  It was a fun event, with tons of young non profit professionals networking and mingling.  My award was presented last... which meant I had the opportunity to hear about 30 other wonderful young professionals who are dedicating their career to making a difference in the lives of hundreds and thousands of people in our community.  Sitting there listening to the awards, I was just overwhelmed with how blessed we are to have the ability to serve our country, county, city... and that Grand Rapids is such an amazing collaborative community.  I love it.  As I was listening to these bios of these other awesome young professionals I was thinking there was no way that I would be chosen to win.  These other people had been in the field years longer than I had and seemed to have their hands in so many good things in Grand Rapids.  When it came to present my award, I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I was not going to win... until they said my name.  I was SHOCKED.  I just feel so honored to be chosen for this award, because this is my first year working in a nonprofit and I have been working my tail off, but feel that I have so much yet to learn.  So... I am honored to be considered the Young Nonprofit of the Year!!  I am very excited, but when talking to the rest of the group - could not help but to recognize all of the amazing leaders we have in Grand Rapids.  I truly think it is a fabulous place to live and I think that ACCESS is an amazing place to work.  So - THANK YOU to those of you who believed that I had done enough to deserve this award.  I just hope that it will bring recognition to an organization that is truly seeking to be Gods hands and feet to our community.

As part of the nomination and award process, I was asked to describe why I am passionate about my organization.  I think it is only right for me to share that with you, because I do think that I work for a phenomenal organization with passionate and God-driven people.

Why are you passionate about your cause/organization?

The mission of ACCESS is to provide working solutions to hunger and poverty in Kent County.  ACCESS truly lives out this mission it is a privilege to be a part of their team.  I believe that the work that ACCESS does in Kent County truly makes our community a better place.      The mission of ACCESS is unique and truly valuable in making change happen.  Through our programs basic needs are met, people are fed, and lives are changed.  I think that for many people it is easy to forget that there are people have severe needs in our community, but ACCESS focuses on making sure that a person’s most basic needs are met so that they can live a full life.      ACCESS brings churches, organizations, and individuals together to meet the needs of those in Kent County in a profound way.  ACCESS knows that with a strong network, it is possible to meet needs so that NO ONE goes hungry in Kent County.  I truly believe this is possible!  ACCESS does this by educating people on the realities of poverty and teaching them how to respond through our Poverty Education Initiative.  I believe that the more people that collaborate in this initiative, the larger impact we can make in our community.  I think that Grand Rapids has an outstanding level of passion and collaboration for this cause and I love that my job involves inviting people to take part in what we are doing.    I am passionate about the work I do, because I know I am part of something that is greater than myself.  ACCESS is a faith-based organization, and the ACCESS staff believe that our work is called for by God.  I am partnered with an organization that sees need and finds ways to respond in faith.  Nothing excites me more than introducing a new person to the mission of ACCESS and seeing their eyes light up as they see the role they can play through collaboration to make a difference.  I believe that everyone has the ability to significantly influence the life of another.  I am honored to have a role where I can help provide opportunities for people to change our community.

October 5, 2009

My mission statement

Right now, ACCESS is working with The Image Group to develop our brand.  One thing that ACCESS has ALWAYS struggled with is communicating who we are and what we do to the public.  Our Brand Advancement committee is working hard to put an image to what we do to better communicate this.  There are many ideas that have been thrown about and in a recent meeting we were making decisions on letter head and business cards and talking about how we need to maintain a cohesive image with everything that leaves our office.  At the end of our meeting, Bruce, our executive director/ceo made the comment that we must not forget our mission to serve God in our community and that that must be a part of everything we do.  At first I was challenged with how to express this in the form of business cards and letter head, but got thinking about what this means for ACCESS as a whole.  And then maybe even more importantly, is this evident in my life?

Bruce's comment that "we musn't forget our mission" struck a chord with me... because I think that there have been many many times in my life when I have gotten all caught up in the busyness... the font on the business cards, if you will.... and I have forgotten WHY I am here in the first place.  What is my mission statement for life?  Is this evident in all that I do?  Or do I forget?  My mission in life is to glorify God in all that I do.  It is easy to let that be a minor detail in the chaos of life, but I think that it is something that we each need to be reminded of from time to time so that I can re-prioritize.  This is something that does not come easy for me (does it come easy for anyone?).  "Not forgetting" is something that I must work very hard at.  I am so so very blessed to work for such an amazing, God-centered organization that always encourages me in my spiritual walk. 

Proverbs 3
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
       but keep my commands in your heart,
 2 for they will prolong your life many years
       and bring you prosperity.
 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
       bind them around your neck,
       write them on the tablet of your heart.
 4 Then you will win favor and a good name
       in the sight of God and man.

September 11, 2009

A Weekend in the Woods

Over Labor Day weekend, Jordan , Macy, and I met up with my parents at the "Hunting Club".  This is the third year we have gone up there for a long weekend... it is just so relaxing without email or internet or phone service most of the time.   We deeply missed Ben and Krista this weekend, but they were enjoying time with Ben's sister and brother-in-law down in Tennessee.  Here are a few pics of our relaxing woodsy get-away.


I'm a nominee!

Since I started working at ACCESS, I have been a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).  This is a group of young nonprofit leaders in Grand Rapids.  Over the past couple of months I have worked hard to continue to educate myself in the nonprofit sector and to increase the visibility of ACCESS in the community... well, it looks like I must have been doing something right, because I have been nominated for "Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year"!  I feel so undeserving, but honored to be included in this group of truly amazing young professionals.  We were featured in the most recent issue of "Rapid Growth" and you can find the article here:  If you read down to the bottom of the article you will see my quote on how amazing ACCESS is!  The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 15 held at the Wealthy Street Theater. 

August 23, 2009

Busy are the ants...

“NO”.  So easy, yet so hard to say… At least for me. 

I am a busy-body.  I fill up my time and busy myself with both important and unimportant things.  I know that if my plate is full and someone offers me yet another time consuming opportunity I will likely say the words… “oh sure!  I can do that”… but most often I can’t… at least not and still keep my sanity. 

What’s the point?

It seems that busyness is now seen as a sign of productivity and importance.  A person must be very significant and needed if their time is filled up with responsibility.  But is this really the case?  And am I any less of a person if I do not fill my time with every busy opportunity that presents itself?  Or are there underlying reasons for why we make ourselves so busy?  I know for myself… I am a people pleaser and hate to think that I would disappoint someone by turning down whatever it is they’ve asked of me.  The truth is… nobody expects me to do everything and if someone asks me, they know there are two possible answers “yes” and “no”.  And I have a right to say either.  I’d love to think that I could take it all on and in my mind I think I can… but oftentimes I end up doing things that just keep me busy and aren’t necessarily the best use of my time.  I need to slow down… learn to say “no”, or at least “maybe”, before I say “yes”.  And I need to consider why I would choose to spend my time on this or that.

This is something that I am continually evaluating at work.  In the small office I work in, I am one of the most technologically savvy employees.  I get a lot of questions of how to do this or that – or can I make this or that flyer, etc.  I do not mind this at all, and honestly, most of these little side projects are things that I truly do enjoy doing!  However, I need to evaluate my reason for being there.  What is the best use of my time?  How can I be most productive in the 8 hours I spend in the office each day?  As development director, there is always someone to call, always another meeting, another fundraiser, another dinner event… but I need to prioritize my “to-do” list and be intentional about how I spend my time.  It took me awhile to learn this lesson, along with my boss reminding me a few times that how I was spending my time was not in my job description (whoops) although I was doing “good things”.  I have since learned to delegate and this has gotten easier now ACCESS has a Communications Coordinator that is responsible for much of the social networking and out-going communications.  I am continually passing things off to her, and she is okay with that, because she knows where my priorities lie, and it is her job to assist staff with such things.

Back to the Basics.

I have found that saying “yes” is more or less a habit that I needed to break.  There is such thing as a work/life balance and it is an art I am slowly learning.  I know that too much of any one thing can be harmful.  There is so much I would like to do… I’d love to volunteer at this and that place, be part of this and that book study, do music, be on this or that board or committee, oh and maybe I’ll dabble in graphic design, help plan this party or shower, etc. etc. etc.  But there is a bigger issue at stake here… and that is evaluating our priorities and what we let define us.  Jordan and I have attended Crossroads Bible Church for the past couple of weeks and they have been studying the book of James.  Last week we were challenged to examine our actions and our beliefs.  Our beliefs and values that we hold inside will always line up with our actions.  So I ask – how does what I spend my time on represent who I am?  Is it making be a better person or is it draining me?  This week we talked about idols of the heart and we were challenged to examine what in our life defines us.   Too much of any one thing can be dangerous, as they begin to let it define who we are.  So, I need to step back and look at how I am spending my time.  What am I putting into myself and how will that be reflected in my actions?  What am I letting define me?  I need to passionately guard my mind, heart, and time.  If I am lazy with how I make decisions about my time, then my stressed-out, drained actions will show it.

Love Life.

I don’t think that we were created to be busy-bodied workaholics.  We each have our own desires and things we find enjoyable.  The sad part is, as I look back on the summer, the times I spent doing those things are few and far between.  There must be balance.  Just as I schedule time for the things that need to happen, I need to protect my time and schedule time for enjoyment.  I need to make sure that I go on a date with my husband weekly and take time to read a book just for fun.  These are things that we need to maintain balance in our lives.

I hope it is clear that I am not saying to neglect your responsibilities.  That is not it at all.  My point is that we need to take a step back and look at ourselves and how we spend our time… are there ways we can improve?  What does how I spend my time saying about me?  What in my life defines me?  Am I enjoying life?  It is easy for me to let these probing questions slip by and continue to just let life happen and let my plate get full without looking at what I am busy with.  As I stated in my last post, I have decided to take this next semester off of school for many of these reasons.  I need to take a step back and examine how I am spending my time… where do I need to be… what is important to me and why… and take the time to pray about the next steps.  I refuse to let life “happen” but instead choose to be intentional about how I spend my time.  I don’t know what this means for my future, but I know that I will have a say in it. :-)

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
- Henry David Thoreau

August 22, 2009

I have not forgotten you...

... I am just horrible at updating this blog!

Here are a few things that have happened in the past month... or 3...

• Family update: Krista got a job in Tennessee and a few weeks ago she and Ben made their move down there! Krista is now a teacher at the Tennessee School for the Deaf (I think that is what it's called) in the resource room for middle school students. Keep her in your prayers as she enters into her first year teaching! Also -- Ben is still looking for work. He is hoping to find something building related and has his resume out there. So we're praying for him too!! We miss them a lot, but are so happy that God has lead them there and know that it is going to be a great experience for them!

• In the middle of June, I had the opportunity to go up to Traverse City with some of my favorite ladies! Erin, Mandy, Jess, and I spent about 3 days in Traverse City just to "get away" and have some true girl time. It was TONS of fun... I always have a great time with those girls. And not too long before that, Mandy announced that she was expecting!! So there will be a little Baby Boes joining the world in January and I know we are all THRILLED for them!

I am continuing to work at ACCESS and love my job. I am fascinated by all that I have learned about the nonprofit sector and am really passionate about the work that ACCESS does and just the amazing amount of collaboration that happens to serve people in Grand Rapids. I love it. There are some staff changes that have directly affected me. One is that we now have a Communications Coordinator that is here 3 (soon to be 4) days a week and she has been able to take a load off my plate in terms of social networking and communications-related things. We also have decided to have our 1st Annual Fundraiser Dinner, which will be April 22, 2010! We are in the beginning stages of planning, but have our location basically set and our speaker/entertainment in the works. I had my annual review at ACCESS last week and it is just so encouraging to be in a place that serves God first. I love it there, and they love having me there. It feels like am amazingly perfect fit for me right now and I am loving learning and challenging myself professionally. Which leads me to my next point...

• I have decided to take next semester off of school... for a number of reasons, but mostly because I just cannot say with 100% certainty that it is where I want to be and where I see my future heading. And it is a LOT of time and money to invest in something that just sounds like a good idea. First of all, if I did continue pursuing my counseling degree, I think I would choose to transfer to Western where I can get my MFT and LPC at the same time... family therapy is what I am most interested in and Spring Arbor is no longer offering that program, unfortunately. Secondly... I just really really like my job... and that is rare!! Who says that? But I really do -- and I love what I am learning about development and I love working in the nonprofit sector. I would like to take my time on school and really see what God might have for me in the nonprofit world. So... after I take my final exam this weekend, I will be taking a semester off to really think and pray about where I'm supposed to be.

• Another interesting transition in our lives is relating to church... Jordan and I chose to leave Keystone Community Church about 1 1/2 years ago and have kind of been church hopping ever since. It is a difficult place to be, but we are seeking God's guidance but desperately want a church home. We were attending one church for a few months last fall, but didn't see much opportunity to grow in worship leading there, and that is an area Jordan and I are passionate about and feel that we need to be connected with in a home church. For this summer, we have been going to church with some of our best buds, Jon and Mandy and Dave and Erin, in Zeeland. It is strange to be back in Zeeland for me and see the faces of many peoples parents that I grew up with! It is definitely a different feel being in a small-town church than some of the larger churches we have visited in Grand Rapids... and like I said, we are currently praying about where we will land. We desperately want to have a home church where we can sink roots down, but I suppose that isn't something that can be easily rushed... but your prayers on that are appreciated also!

• On a more exciting note... Jordan and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary on Wednesday!! WOW - time sure flies!! :-)
    Those are just a few of the things that have happened in the past few months and a few of the things that we are praying about.  Jordan and I have talked a lot lately about how we are in transition... and just needing to take one day at a time and embrace that "we are where we are". We are looking forward to seeing how some of these transition points will resolve themselves... and I will be sure to keep you all informed as that happens!!

    May 29, 2009

    Krista and Ben Get Married (finally)

    After dating for over 7 1/2 years, Ben and Krista finally tied the knot. It was a pure honor to stand beside them on their wedding day. Krista looked beautiful and I could not have been more happy for them. Here are a few snapshots of the day.

    May 2, 2009


    Lewis Lee Haddix

    Published: Saturday, May 2, 2009 3:11 AM EDT
    Lewis Lee Haddix passed away on Friday, May 1, 2009, at the age of 94, surrounded by his family.

    Lewis had resided at Brigadoon Apartments at Boardman Lake Glens.

    Lewis was born on the family farm in Bentley on Feb. 27, 1915, one of three children born to Lee and Susie (Lewis) Haddix. He attended school and later attended Bay City Business School where he met the love of his life, Roberta Newman. (In class, he threw a paper wad at her to get her to turn around) They were married in Roberta’s parents’ home in Midland on Sept. 10, 1937. He then worked with his father as a finish carpenter in Midland and Bay City. During World War II they moved back to the family 180-acre dairy and produce farm in nearby Bentley. In 1946, they moved to Standish where they raised their five children and partnered with his father and brother in the Standish Lumber and Manufacturing Company. In 1959, they moved to Midland and established the Haddix Lumber and Supply Company which they operated until they retired in 1980. During that time period they also owned and operated Standish Lumber in Standish and Midway Lumber in Sanford.

    In the winter months, Lewis and Roberta lived in Palm Harbor, Fla., and summered in Midland until 2003 when they moved to Traverse City. They lived in the Village at Bay Ridge Apartments and later at Boardman Lake Glens.

    Lewis was known in the lumber business as a man of integrity and as a businessman who believed service was the best commodity to his clientele.

    He loved and was loved by his family. Always with an infectious and beautiful smile on his face, Lewis was a very generous and caring person with a heart of gold. He loved to sing and in recent months enjoyed singing with the staff at Boardman Glens, remembering all of the words to all of the songs, even when others didn’t. He also loved singing at the Central United Methodist Church hymn sings and even sang with the choir and the soloists. He was the last surviving founding member of the Mansfield Rod and Gun Club, and was a 32nd degree Mason in the Bay City Masonic Lodge. He loved to bowl, hunt, fish, play cards and enjoyed traveling around the world with his wife, Roberta.

    Lewis loved God and was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Midland and later Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City.

    He is survived by his loving family, Peter (Margaret) of Traverse City, Carol (John) Keen and Marcia (Robert) Lowry of Rutherfordton, N.C., Mary (Mike) Rumbaugh of Farwell and John (Pam) of Indianapolis; 17 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Francis Beckrow and Mildred Onderchanen as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

    Lewis was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Roberta, sister, Ruby Hubbell, and brother, Don Haddix.

    Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3 at Central United Methodist Church, 222 Cass St., Traverse City, with Pastor Dale Ostema officiating.

    Visitation will take place at the church beginning at 2:30 p.m.. Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 5 at Midland Cemetery, Midland.

    Memorial contributions may be directed to Central United Methodist Church. Please share your condolences and memories with the family at The family is being served by The Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 305 Sixth St., Traverse City.

    January 27, 2009

    Do not worry about your life...

    One of my favorite devotionals for many years has been "My Utmost for His Highest". I have read and re-read this devotional many times and God has used it to meet me where I'm at time and time again.

    Just yesterday I was talking with Jordan about my worries about the future... I have NO idea what it holds... what it will look like concerning kids, my work, my education, etc. I have always worried about things like this and I try to control more than I am able. Jordan continues to remind me that it is out of my hands and that I need to trust God to work out the details. But UTMOST today said it in terms that hit home for me.

    Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things to the point where they become the primary concern of our life. Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.

    This is one of those things that seems so simple and easy to understand, yet is one of my struggles. I worry and try to work things out on my own, but that is no good. And these worries can easily consume my thoughts more than anything else. I need to surrender my life, take one step at a time and then trust God with the rest.

    I know that there are a lot of people out there right now who have concerns about the future. Especially in this economic situation, there are people without jobs, or at least without job security and questions about what that means for their lives. As I have seem God work in my life before, I am confident that he does provide and that trusting in him is the best thing I can do. Just some words of encouragement... for myself, and anyone else who has concerns or worry about the future. It is better to continue to surrender each day to the one who made us in the first place. :)

    January 18, 2009

    Belated Update...

    I have LOTS of pictures to post and LOTS of things to say... just not right now. :) So you will have to settle for some pictures and I'll update later. ;)

    The family :)

    More family... this picture is probably more accurate than the previous one. ;)

    Me and my wonderful hubby. :)

    Macy LOVED playing in the snow with the in-law dogs!! :)

    Doggie Sandwich!

    How can you resist that face?? Can you tell I'm really into my dog. ;)

    My work was closed for the two weeks around Christmas and New Years... which allowed me to do some updating around the house! New black cabinets! I think some people thought I was weird painting them black, but I am VERY happy with how they turned out!