Goal Accomplished!

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On the very last day of May, I returned home from the lake to find my full license for social work, otherwise referred to as an LMSW, in the mailbox! My relief? Priceless.

The process of obtaining this official document was three years (2012 – 2015) in the making, spanned across two jobs. I did not start the process immediately following graduate school, as most tend to do, because my employment following graduation did not require me to be licensed nor was there an incentive to work toward this goal. It was while in my second position that the opportunity to begin this work was presented and with full support from my then-supervisor, I went for it. And now finally, seven years after completing my MSW, it is FINISHED! Praise God!

Obtaining this license required numerous things: 4,000 hours of supervised work experience in the field, a four-hour test (that took six months to prepare and study for), fingerprinting / background check, and money to pay for each piece (the fee for a limited license every year plus the fee for my full license, fees for an exam-prep class, study materials and the test itself, fees for fingerprinting, and a monthly fee for outside supervision in my second job since I did not have an LMSW to oversee me in my place of employment). It took patience and a willingness to dole out a lot of money for that “L” in front of “MSW.”

While, admittedly, I found this process to be rather frustrating at times with the time and money it required of me, I always knew in the back of my mind that this all served an important purpose, namely proving that I have what it takes to be in this field and setting me apart as a “credentialed” social worker. And with it all said and done now, I’m so happy (and frankly, proud of myself) that I went through with it and thankful I had the support of those closest to me, including that initial push from my previous boss, to do whatever it took to get it accomplished.

The “coincidental” part of all of this is that the week I finished the requirements for my full license and sent in everything to the State of Michigan happened to be the same week I ended my position as Director, where oddly enough, having my LMSW wasn’t a “requirement” at all. However, my new position as a Regional Coordinator / Consultant, relies heavily upon my ability to manage, oversee, and supervise case management programs and staff, all of which the license allows me to do and proves I can do. I really don’t find it to be a coincidence at all, but rather God working out all things in His perfect timing for my good. He knew I would transition into a great position that I would love and that this credential was crucial to establishing myself confidently and positively in this role, so He made it happen! And that my friends is what we call a modern-day miracle! He is GOOD!

What I also find fabulous about the timing of having this done is that it all came together before summer activities started. That means I can really focus even more so on my goals of abiding and resting and soaking in every beautiful and perfect moment of this season without this monkey on my back. And that’s just what this girl needs … something else I believe God knew and ordained just for me. Again, He is GOOD!

At some point in the future, maybe in the fall and/or winter, I will pursue helping others work toward accomplishing this goal for themselves – whether it’s providing outside supervision for those who don’t have a LMSW in their place of employment or being a resource with the School of Social Work to help others navigate the license process. I learned a lot and found ways to keep myself organized and on track with accomplishing this goal, and if I can help even one other person through it, all those learnings will have been worth it!

In the meantime, I revel in having this goal marked “COMPLETE.” 2015 has been a VERY good year!

My Favorite Things: Summer Edition

Happy Saturday! Today I thought I’d have a little fun and share some of my favorite (summer) things!

Here we go …

Books

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Although I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction, I find that I really enjoy getting lost in a good story while sitting outside and soaking up the sunshine. Here are few I’ve recently read and recommend …

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O’Neal

Currently reading The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Health and Beauty

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Norwex Body Cloths

My friend, Emily, introduced me to this amazing product, and my friend, Stephanie, is a Norwex Consultant, so it was a ‘no brainer’ for me to order a pack and try them out! I’ve been using them faithfully for the past two months, twice a day (morning and night), and they have made such an incredible difference on my skin! I love putting them under piping hot water and using them on my face (no soap required, really). My skin feels awesome after using them and they’re a great way to stay chemical-free and ultimately healthy! I can’t recommend these enough!

Young Living Essential Oils

I’ll admit I was skeptical at first about these. But after a little over a month of regular diffusing and applying topically, I am a believer! I have experienced a significant reduction in headaches, tension, and symptoms that come with allergies from incorporating these into my daily routine. My husband is also experiencing the benefits, and he was more skeptical that I was! I highly recommend purchasing the Premium Starter Kit if you’re looking to try them out. It’s a great way to experiment with various oils (singles and blends), and if you decided to continue with them, you get can purchase what you like at wholesale cost!

Shellac manicures. I’ve only had two, but I am totally hooked! I love this little treat to myself. They are no-nonsense, chip-resistant and therefore, absolutely PERFECT for this girl who is really low maintenance when it comes to things like this.

Music

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Because I’m on the road much more now for work, I find music to be a constant companion. I love all different kinds of music, but in this season, I’m finding the following especially comforting and uplifting …

Hillsong United: Empires

Acoustic Morning playlist (Spotify)

I also created my own playlist for 2015 on Spotify comprising various artists / songs that have spoken to me this year. This versatile blend of tunes has been great for me to listen to while reading, writing, driving, or even to just have on as background music while I work or do things around the house. If you have a Spotify account, feel free to look me up and check it out!

Recreation

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I’m finally back to running outside, after months of training indoors to strengthen and build during my continued recovery from heel injury! It’s been wonderful to run my four-mile country block during the week as well as alongside the lakeshore while we’re up north on the weekends. I’m so thankful to be back to the sport that I love, and doing it more so as an expression of my ability and the pure enjoyment of it rather than for a medal or a PR.

We’ve been at our up north abode consistently on the weekends since we opened up for the season in May. Getting away helps to clear the mind and keep the focus on what is most important in life, namely God, family, friends, and the simple things overall. It’s been great to even spend more time up there now that my job takes me that way as well. (I’m grateful for having a comfortable and familiar place to stay while traveling for work, not to mention a workspace with a fabulous and peaceful view!) The weekends up north give us permission to sleep-in and do other things we wouldn’t otherwise do if we were home.

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What are your favorite things in this season?

What things are filling your soul with all things good for summer?

eBook: One Year Later

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I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my eBook was published and made available to the world! How time does fly!

I’ve continued to hear from those of you who have purchased a copy and I so appreciate the feedback I’ve received from each one of you. It was definitely a bucket-list adventure and a labor of love for me, and I am still amazed at how God enabled me to bring my faith story to life in this format. It taught me so much about myself, about writing and publishing, and of course about God and His faithfulness, and I am honored and blessed to have had this opportunity!

If you’re interested in checking my eBook out, you can find it through the following retailers:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

ChristianBook

Google play

If you haven’t yet read it and decide to do so, let me know! I’d love to connect with those of you who have read it, and my blog for that matter, and to hear more about your own journey of faith!

Thanks for the support, friends! It’s your encouragement that spurs me on to do this thing in His name!

Blessings to you on this Friday! <3

To Abide

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A recurring theme in my life over the past year seems to be the concept of “abiding.” Last summer I did the Naptime Diaries Abide (#NTDAbide) devotional / journal, and now as I’m working my way through the latest bible study by Kelly Minter, What Love Is, this theme has yet again re-emerged. And I’m a believer that when God brings up a concept more than once, it’s important to listen and take heed of what He’s working to reveal through what He’s speaking.

So, God … Abide. What’s this all about?

According to Kelly Minter’s study, the word “abide” derives from the Greek work “meno,” which can mean: “not to depart; to continue; to be present; to be held, kept; continually; to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure (as referenced in the Blue Letter Bible).”

The concept of “abiding” is discussed thoroughly in John 15 where Jesus teaches,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (vs. 1, 4-5, ESV).”

It is reiterated again in 1 John 2 where John teaches,

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. … The anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him (vs. 24-25, 27, ESV).”

As I ponder these verses and reflect on the times where I know I’ve been abiding in the grace, love, and Word of Jesus, this is what I believe God is confirming to me …

1) My life does not “work” when I am not abiding in Him. When I am not walking with God (seeking Him, following Him, trusting Him, giving things over to Him), life is a lot harder and I do not receive the best that I am free to have in Him, and that He indeed promises to give me. (see Psalm 37:4)

2) Two things are the mentioned in John 15: I abide in Him, He abides in me. So, if I’m not abiding in Him, I’m not allowing myself the full satisfaction of Him abiding in me. To think of the things I’m missing out on because of this is sad. I don’t want to miss out on anything that He has for me, because anything He has for me is better than I could ever imagine. (see Ephesians 3:20)

3) Abiding in Him leads to peace and rest. This I have experienced and know for myself. When my gaze is set on the mountains before me – the hardships, problems, and trials – and I’m consumed by the difficulties of life, I am not abiding in Him and as a result, I experience anxiety, doubt, fear, pain, and sorrow. Granted, life with God doesn’t mean an absence of these things, but abiding with God sure does squelch the level of power the mountains have over my heart, mind, and life. (see Psalm 23 and Philippians 4:4-9)

4) This world is constantly changing and in flux, but one thing remains the same forever – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the one thing in this life that is unchanging, despite many people’s attempts to change it, add to it, denounce it, etc. It stands the test of time, forever and ever, amen. If there’s anything, or rather anyone, I’m going to put my faith in – it’s Him and His Word. (see Hebrews 13:8 and 1 Peter 1:25)

God’s timing for this message could not be any more perfect. Last year I was focusing on abiding during a time of increased challenge and stress. This year I’m focusing on abiding during a time of change – in both season and work. God is speaking to me, reminding me to ABIDE in Him. To REMAIN in Him. To walk STEADY with Him. To be PRESENT with Him. And let Him do the rest. No need to control, to try to save myself by works alone. But to look to Him and keep my confidence and trust in Him. Period.

So that’s what I’m choosing to do. I’m choosing to abide. And it’s not a one-time thing, but a way of life. Each and every day.

I love this quote from Kelly Minter …

“We have a responsibility to allow the good news of Jesus, rooted in Scripture, to abide in us richly and in a way that will literally affect the way we live our lives. We need to actively foster this message of hope and truth in our hearts.”

And I’d like to take it a step further and say that as we abide in Him and His Word that we should live in such a way that not only affects our lives but the lives of those around us – making an impact on this world for His Kingdom and being an influence for His glory.

So let’s take God at His Word and abide in Him.

Let’s let Him do the rest of the work as He promises to do.

And let’s allow this process to change us.

For the better. For the good it will produce in our life and in our world.

Back to Colorado!

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Last weekend marked my second trip to Colorado this year. It was an impromptu decision on my part to travel back so soon, but upon learning my brother and nephew had the holiday weekend available, and then my sister moving out there within the past month, I figured, “Why not?!?” Besides, I can never resist a trip to one of my most favorite places to visit some of my favorite people! And in my opinion, it’s always a good idea to go out west, especially this time of year.

Here’s a little glimpse into our time together …

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Quality time with my people! The weather was a little more temperamental than is normal for this time of year – including rain, thunder, lightning, and even hail – but that just meant more opportunity to chat, visit, and bond with both family and good friends! Appreciated that more than anything!

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When the weather did clear, we made the most of it by getting out and having mini-scenic adventures, including a visit to Old Colorado City (my first time there) to walk around the Territory Days festival, a little road trip east of Colorado Springs to catch the sunset over the Rockies and Pike’s Peak, and a stroll through Garden of the Gods where it had just rained and we were blessed with the sight of the most beautiful rainbow over the park. Nothing beats the western landscape. It’s simply breathtaking.

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Also went to church with my brother and nephew, went out for a couple of hours of karaoke one night (belting, singing, dancing … good times), and got fabulous matching manicures with the sister (my first shellac experience)!

Overall, it was a great visit and I’m SO GLAD I made the decision to get myself out there again this year!

As I’ve mentioned on here previously, one of my big goals for 2015 has been to intentionally make room and time for my people, and it’s been an incredible blessing for me to do so this year. Regardless of the cost, the time it takes, or the distance I have to travel, it’s worth it. Every. Single. Time. And moving forward, I plan to keep this up as much as possible and give my best to those I love and care about most. They’re worth it. <3

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Let the Season Begin!

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Our favorite time of the year has come – the time to make our way back to the lake and enjoy the finest things Pure Michigan has to offer! Hooray!

My dad, grandfather, and hubby have been very busy the past few weekends preparing the marina for the spring and summer season full of boats, camping, and fishing. I decided to go up for the first time two weekends ago to do what I do best – get our place cleaned out, organized, and stocked up for the months to come. Despite it being a lot of work initially, it just means that from now on all we have to do is drive up on Friday nights, open the door, and enjoy the weekend in our favorite place with family and friends. What on earth could be better than that?!?

Spring and summers spent in Ludington is a tradition I have enjoyed since childhood. And I was fortunate to find and marry a man who shared my love for the area, as well as my passion for getting away on the weekends to enjoy the best of our great state, and who was just as excited as I was to get married on the shore of Lake Michigan. Ludington is our place. It’s the place we look forward to visiting all winter long and the sanctuary where we invite our family and friends to break away from the demands of everyday life, take a breath, and relax by the water.

Being up north means drinking coffee and reading on the deck, watching the sunshine sparkle over the water, breathing in the freshest of air, morning runs down Lakeshore Drive, soaking up the rays on the beach, walking down to the pier, indulging in House of Flavors ice cream, taking the boat out for a sunset cruise, and having bonfires under a canopy of moon and stars.

This time of year is, simply put, magical. The time spent outside, with loved ones, in addition to the slower pace all of us settle into up there, makes lake life a tremendous blessing to us. I truly believe it is these few months out of the year that somehow satisfy and sustain our souls to get through the long wintry cold months. It’s the grace our spirits need and the thing that gives us hope to keep going in midst of those bitter cold, harsh days.

I have no doubt that this season will be another one for the books! 2015 is proving to be an incredible year and I sense this spring / summer spent back at the lake will be nothing short of awesome and full of the best things in life!

Bring on the fun in the sun and let this fabulous season begin!

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This is my last post for a couple of weeks as I’ll be in Colorado over Memorial Day!

Have a great holiday weekend, friends! <3

Dream Come True

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Yesterday marked my last day as Director of Social Services for a local tri-county agency, a position I’ve held for close to two years. To be honest, I didn’t really see myself transitioning into a new job any time soon. With recently finishing the requirements necessary to apply for my full licensure in Social Work, I knew I’d start looking again once I had that LMSW in hand, but I never anticipated things happening the way they did over the past three weeks.

The organization I work for comprises many different levels – local, divisional, territorial, national, and international. Working on the local level means that I communicate with the divisional level frequently as they oversee the system in which we work day-in and day-out. It was while participating in an action planning meeting one Friday with a woman from our Divisional Headquarters that I was presented with the opportunity to apply for an advanced position: “Hannah, if you’re interested, there’s a position available at DHQ that I think you’d really be great in. Take a look and send me your resume if you think this is something you might want to do.”

I checked out the positing online, thought about the position over the weekend, talked it over with my husband, prayed about it, and decided, “Why not? Just because I apply doesn’t mean I’m going to get the job. It’s always good to put yourself out there and get the interview experience. And it never hurts to just apply and see what happens.”

Little did I know this one decision would change the course of everything within a week’s time …

I sent my resume in the Monday following the Friday meeting. I interviewed the following Monday and was told, “You are the best candidate for this job. Expect a formal offer to come by email tomorrow.” Tuesday afternoon came around, and with it, an offer I couldn’t refuse: In addition to an increase in pay, I would be able to develop in my consultant / leadership / management / teaching skills, working from home and traveling to various social services sites (at the local level) to assist with the roll-out of case management programming, all expenses paid.

Dream. Come. True.

For the longest time, I have wanted to be in a position where I work from home, have the ability to travel, and assist others in becoming the best they can be. I have longed for this and prayed for an opportunity like this to come my way. But I never thought it would look like this, nor so soon. I’m still in shock over how this has all worked out. And all I can say is, “Only God. Only He could bring this to pass.”

With the offer, came official resignation from my role as Director and spending the last two plus weeks terminating my work there, informing the community of the change, preparing my staff for transition, and the new Director for his/her future responsibilities.

Because I have not yet started the job, I don’t know all that is to come with this role, but I am SO EXCITED for this new adventure to begin! Sure there will be good and bad days, easy and hard times, but such is life. I know this is an answer to prayer, and I feel honored that our Divisional Headquarters recognized the work I’ve done as a Director and felt confident to hire me for this new role as a Regional Coordinator.

I also feel incredibly grateful for all the education and work experience I’ve had leading up to this moment. Everything I’ve done since graduate school has inched me forward to being able to have an opportunity like this. I’ve grown and learned so much from each position, every boss, my fellow employees, and the clients / community I serve. Social Work is not the most glamorous, high-paying, or easy profession, but it’s one that I take great pride in and one that continues to surprise me time and time again.

So with that, I move forward and walk through this door God has so graciously opened for me, looking forward to all that He will do in and through me in this new role. I trust Him to provide for me, making me the best professional I can be in this position, and to continue to do the amazing work that only He can do!

And I thank Him, again, for this dream come true – this chance to do something I have had visions of for such a long period of time that I lifted it up to God day-after-day asking Him to bring it to pass in His will and His way. And just like that, He did.

He is the giver of dreams fulfilled. He is good. SO. GOOD.