"All things for My good..."

It's been almost a year. How does that happen!?! Life has been teaching me so much. I think the consistent theme is that God can and does use all things for His greater good.

My grandma past away in March, roughly 2 weeks over the one year mark of me taking her to the hospital. What a challenging year that was. Through that vulnerable time I desired for God to use my faith in Him in some clear way to share with at least one person. To date, there's been 2! Both of which were incredibly hard, and not at all how my mind envisioned being used by Him. But that's the best part! Because they were unexpected conversations, I didn't have a preplanned, scripted conversation in my head that I PLANNED out. I was forced to be fully dependent on Him and the words that He would give me.

After serving with the junior high ministry at church for 3 years I made the switch to Salt Company, the college ministry. I felt like God was calling me back to that ministry but I knew I also really wanted to be doing it again so was hopeful it really was God's plan!! The first week revealed that it was. I loved their ability to trust and share their lives with me after knowing me for less than 1 hour. I recently had a conversation with one of the girls that gave me the opportunity to share with her much of my past to direct her to truth. She proceeded to then say, "I don't like it yet, but I know it's Truth." What a sweet place to be. To know that God uses my sin and brokenness to appeal to others where they are at and point them to His Truth and Love and Grace.

So often I can be bummed out about my life prior to knowing Him. And it's incredibly humbling watching Him use it for His purposes.



The 1st 10 days of October looked something like this:
Oct. 1-3 Desiring God, 2010 National Conference: Think, The life of the mind, and the love of God.
Oct. 4-7 work
Oct. 7 Anthem concert
Oct. 8-10 Pursuit of Purity, 180 Fall retreat

To say that I learned a lot and was challenged is, to say the least, an understatement.

To be quite honest prior to October I knew I was in a valley of my faith. One where you don't read your bible because you don't feel close to God, and you don't feel close to God because you aren't reading His word. It sucks being there. It feels like a trap, complete with no motivation or ability to see how one might go about removing yourself from it. I knew the phrase "you can't pour out, if you aren't getting poured into."

A friend told me about the conference, I checked into, and decided I hadn't been to a conference/retreat in quite awhile so I could go. Click here for a list of the sessions that you can download and view for yourself. My personal highlights are:
1. Tullian Tchividjian's talk on Giving thought to gospel 'Math': Why Jesus + Nothing = EVERYTHING
One of my favorite lines from this talk was, "God loves us too much to give us our old idols back - the things we think we need."

2. Randy Alcorn's talk on Difficult truths & deep love: Pondering Sovereignty, suffering, and the promise of heaven
I own his book entitled Heaven so I've read some already on this topic. But one activity he suggested the audience to do was write a list of the 'worst' things in our life. Once we are certain the list is complete turn it over or grab another sheet and write a list of the 'best' things in our life. After finishing, look at both lists and see if there are any connections between them.

I know in my own personal life, much, if not all of the good things, have come after enduring a hardship. Maybe I would still view these things as good had they happened without the hardship, but I think I know myself and our culture well enough to suggest I and others wouldn't appreciate the 'good' as much without the hardship.

"You make, all things, work together for my good...." "Oh Lord, thank you for not answering all my prayers, AND for using my poor decisions for a better purpose."

3. Rick Warren "Don't believe everything your mind tells you." WOW. I know that I KNOW that. But for some reason it seemed so powerful hearing it audibly. My mind thinks a lot, and I mean A LOT, of random and ridiculous, non purposeful thoughts. "Philippians 4:8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." "God, help me to store this truth in my mind to ward off the garbage satan tries to collect there."

4. Getting to be present for the presentation of the book For the Fame of God's Name Essays in Honor of John Piper. Knowing just a small amount on John Piper's sabbatical for the greater part of this year, I was in awe of the fact that God KNEW and PLANNED for this book to be finished in the middle of it. Despite the fact that they started the planning and visioning of the book 3 years ago!! It still gives me the chills. I LOVE that God did that, at such a time as that in John's life.

5. Francis Chan's talk on Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride. Please just listen to this one. I won't do it justice, honestly.
In the panel discussion previous to Chan's talk, he stated that he was nervous and anxious about it. At the beginning of his talk he says he spent the time between praying and seeking God and that whatever came out was from God. (my own words) And I think do to his humble stance, God did speak through him, very strongly.
*When was the last time that you wept for the lost?
*Do you mourn for those who mourn?
*Do people get a glimpse of God by how much love they see in you & your church/brothers??
Romans 9:1-2 "I speak the truth in Christ - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart." "God please help me to think of myself less, and love others the way you do. To have an unending supply of relating to the hurt in others in my heart for those around me."

Anthem. amazing worship with over 1,200 people mostly students from jr. high, high school, and college.

Pursuit of Purity
this video sums of the purpose of this retreat. It was challenging, but incredibly cool to have these conversations with Junior high students (6th, 7th, and 8th graders) To see them 'get it.' That we don't have to and shouldn't believe what society tells us all the time.

Paul Sabino did a great job breaking it down into:
God's Great design
Satan's great deceptions
Our great response
Engaging the battle for purity

The 3 lies he shared that would silence us (the adults/leaders/parents) are very real:
1. Who are you to talk with all your past failures.
2. Who are you to talk with all your current failings.
3. It's way too akward to talk to them about sex & purity, so just avoid it.

"You won't have time to talk to your kids about this weekend. But I promise you, if you make time for it.... It will make a difference."

I'm so grateful we have a God who pursues us, wherever we are. Who loves us to meet us where we are, but also loves us enough to not let us stay there if it isn't where we should be. I am so encouraged by the truths that I've learned through this month, as well as the ones that God has graciously helped me uncover once again.

Transformation happens when we READ, MEMORIZE, and LIVE OUT THE WORD!!



First off, let me share a little chart with you that I put together:




Todd Dr.

June ‘03-Aug ’03

dad, his girlfriend

Friley Dorm

Aug ’03 - May ’04


Todd Dr. (again)

May ’04 - Nov ’04

dad, his girlfriend

Sterling University (now University West)

Nov ’04 - May ’06

Jenn, Staci, Abbey, Ashlyn, Katie

Fountain View Apartments

May ’06 - July ’07

Christi, Sarah

826 Dickinson

Aug ’07 - July '08

Natalie, Emily, Melissa

Meg’s Bedroom

Aug ’08

Meg, and her roommates

Walnut Place (The couch at my friends apt)

Aug ’08 - Sept ’08

Carley, Dani, Katie, Keri

Sand Cherry Lane

Oct ’08 - May ’09

Joy, Scott, Joe, Sam, Naomi, Josh

E. 7th St.

May ’09 - May ’10

Debra, Brian

North Dakota (Creek Blvd.)

June ’10 - July ’10

Tracy, Samantha, Angie






7 years


If you can't look at that chart and think to yourself, "HOLY COW" "DANG GIRL!!!" "ARE YOU SICK OF MOVING?!?" then you probably need to glance back up look at the dates and the totals I put at the bottom for those that just want to glance quick.

12 places in 7 years. 33 roommates. To say the least, I've learned a lot about me in that time. Whom I'm compatible with. The characteristics I like about myself, and those that I'd like to work on. The qualities I hope to find in a guy that I might marry someday if the Lord has that in my path.

This last week it finally became overwhelming. I hit the wall that I've learned many would have hit a long time ago. Somewhere a long the trail of life in 7 years I acquired much of what is needed to fill a small house. So each time, I GET to pack it all up, and haul it off to the next place. Some of the places I've lived (more towards the past 2 years) I knew it was short term, so prior to moving I had to pack with the mind of "Will I need this in the next ______?" and put it in the container that fit its new description.

One thing is for sure that I've learned to TRUST in God through this because He's clearly had His hand in all of it and I know it does me no good to worry. Zero. NADA. Well like a few other things, 'worldness' (my word for societal norms if you will) creeps in. This comes by way of being asked by every other person, "so where are you living now?" and any variation of it. Once enough people ask you about something, or at least me, it makes me think more on the subject. SO there I admit, I started to doubt, be frustrated with all this moving, wanting a 'settled' life whatever that looked like, have permanence, a desire to actually unpack EVERYTHING. So on Thursday before work I finally lost it. cried like a baby. after my roommate left for work. yep and PRIDEFUL, thank you.

I keep wondering should I just sell it all? Or at least some of it? But then I'll be irritated in ___ years when this is changed and I could use the couch that I bought, sold for a fraction of the price, and now have to buy new. I don't enjoy realizing "oh hey I need ______. Now is that at Moms? Dad's? Storage in Union? With me and I can't find it? or in my trunk???" Yes I get to run through 5 places before I chalk whatever it is on the list of Lost items from all the moving.

I wish this is what moving looked like:

Well I can promise you that I've learned A LOT about patience, and being in the world but not of it. (Disclaimer, it is not advised to move from your lush *I don't care where you live in America, it is lush* apartment less than 36 hours back from a 3rd world country) I don't know what is in store, in 2 weeks for me. I know it will be fine. Worst case scenario, I wisely have stored my tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear in my trunk, so it just might be camping season ;)


Fat and Sassy, Mean and Nasty

The statement you will hear my grandma make if you spend any time talking or listening to her. It truly sums up the past 3 weeks of my life.

February 24th my dad, his girlfriend Jamie, my sister, and I headed out to Sun City, Arizona to visit my grandparents who winter there. We arrived late Thursday night, exhausted after a 26 hour drive. Friday morning I was the first to awake from our crew to be greeted by my grandparents. I LOVE THEM. (I know every kid would say this about their grandparents, but seriously. They both played a strong roll in my life growing up with many great memories. Our family has always been incredibly close, still getting together on the major holidays and having 25+ people at their house) It was so great to see them considering they'd been gone since the beginning of December. The rest of Friday was spent just hanging out and resting from the journey.

Saturday morning my dad and his girlfriend left to go visit one of her relatives. They would come back early afternoon and the 6 of us would go site see.....or so we planned. God's plan was different.....

I can't explain how, other than the Holy Spirit inside of me, but I was on high alert of something 'unplanned' happening while we were there. I was blow drying my hair when I thought I heard something. I turned it off to hear my grandma saying "Gary.........Gary....." It sounded faint, but I thought that was because she was in the opposite side of the house. I went to check out what was going on to see that my grandma was no where near my sound asleep grandfather. I immediately turned back around the way I had come and took a turn into their bedroom. Where much to my surprise I found my grandma laying on the bed heaving for air. "Grandma I'm here, I love you" was out of my mouth before I could fully comprehend the moment. I got my grandpa up and convinced them both that we needed to go to the hospital. I phoned my dad to give him the heads up and we headed out. (Wish I had a picture of this event with my sister aiding in the effort straight from the shower in only a towel, but due to the circumstances.... no such documentation exists, you'll just have to trust me!)

I knew the situation was serious. But no part of me ever thought 'I should call 911.' We arrived in the ER of Banner Health Hospital, where they took one look at her and we were nearly whisked off to a room, arriving there along side 6 nurses who began to poke needles in all kinds of places and ask me lots of questions. 'Wait, hold on. I'm on vacation. This isn't supposed to be happening. I have no idea what you just said. Can you repeat that. I'm gonna have to make a phone call for that answer' is all floating through my thoughts.

My Aunt Kathy used to be an RN, and out of our entire family she is the most capable of listing off all of grandmas medical history without referring to paperwork. I called her. I didn't want to, simply because I knew she'd be worried about the urgent need, but I knew she was my best option. Then I called dad and said I was sorry but I thought they should head back, and pick up my sister at home alone.

The day unfolded in a whirlwind of emotions, tests for her to undergo, and lots of just sitting by her side stroking her hair, and holding her hand. By evening we had discovered she'd thrown 2 blood clots to the lungs, had a urinary track infection that they suspected went septic (into her blood), and her heart was in arterial fibulation. That sounds like a lot for someone like me to overcome, let alone my tired and now very weak grandma.

We let dad's sisters know and although they were sad to not be there to see her and be with her, none of them made plans to head down. Sunday evening, into Monday morning, things to an immediate turn for the worse and with the grave outlook at that time, all my aunts booked flights and flew in.

We spent the remainder of that week in AZ; 9 people in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, and 2 cars for commuting....its a good thing we're close :) ; and by Friday it was decided to air ambulance her back to Ames, IA Mary Greeley Medical Center. So her and 5 of us got on flights, while the other 4 hung back, closed down the house and drove the 2 cars back. PRAISE GOD we all arrived without any glitches to the system.

I sit here in the hospital room watching her rest as we come upon her 4 week mark of hospitalization. I had to check the calendar as I typed that to double check the accuracy of the statement! These weeks and days have been filled with many highs and lows as one can only imagine.

I've learned much in these weeks, and I know that I'm not fully aware of all that I'm being taught!
1. I do desire to get married. Somedays that desire is more prevalent than others. Watching my grandpa care for my grandma, check all of her monitors, watch over her, caress her hand, kiss her, and check all of her monitors again to make sure he didn't disturb anything, BLOWS me away. They've been married going on 57, and while I'm fully aware that marriage isn't always a walk in the park, they have fought through it all, and there love for each other is evident! Talk about bringing truth to the 'in sickness and in health' vows.

There love has encouraged me to think not only about a marriage relationship, but showing love and my care for those around me always without fear over guarding of my heart.

2. My grandma is definitely where I get my stubbornness! She is full of it :) Having some is definitely not a bad thing, I'm confident its a lot of what has pulled her through this whole fight. Every time you ask her how she's doing "fat and sassy, mean and nasty" comes out.

3. Family and friends are vital. God gave us a need for community. It broke my heart when we were at Banner Health when the nurses would cry simply at the fact that there were the 5 of us there for my grandma, and when we told them my aunts were flying in they broke down again. A few of them told us that often people are left there to fight their battles alone. I watched as nearly everyone of her nurses broke to rules of visitors in my grandma's room at a time. I watched as the nurses came back on shift from their day off, and although my grandma wasn't their patient again, they made it down to see her and us 'to check in'. I know for a fact that I saw each one of them cry, and I'm pretty sure I hugged each of them too. People matter.

I don't even know the extent of all the people that know about the happenings in the Maxwell family lately . But I do know that prayers are being lifted up, and answered!

my favorite picture from the trip, that without the hospitalization.... would not have been captured. Thank you God for allowing me to see Your Love through this.

She's awake. Says its time to watch the news :)


Creating in the Kitchen

About a year ago I found out that I have Celiac Disease. What is that you ask? Well it's an auto-immune disease where you're body rejects the gluten protein or leavening agent in wheat. There is no cure for it other than to avoid food with wheat in it. I've been creating and trying recipes here and there for new options... and here are two good ones so far:

#1 I love breakfast food. So it was a huge bummer when I realized I could no longer have pancakes, or my favorite belgian waffles! I was expressing this disappointment to my mom so we made potato pancakes. They turned out awesome!

4 Large Potatoes
1 Yellow Onion
1 Egg beaten
1 tsp Salt
2-3 Tbsp Baking Soda
1-2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
Pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for skillet

Finely grate potatoes and onion into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid. Mix in egg, salt, pepper, and Cinnamon. Add enough Baking Soda to make mixture thick, about 2 to 3 Tablespoons. Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drop 2 or 3 1/4 cup mounds into hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2 in. thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain. If not serving immediately keep warm in a 200 degrees F oven until serving time. Repeat until mixture is used.

You can make potato pancakes both shredded and from mashed potatoes. I've done both, and feel that the shredded style hold up the best.

#2 I love Mexican food! This winter I've been experimenting with a lot of soups. I think of a dish that I like and then think of a way to make that in soup form. That's how I created this Enchilada Soup:

I used:
1 yellow onion chopped
2 Cloves garlic
2 cans Black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 Cans diced tomatoes w/ green chilies
1 large can Enchilada Sauce (double check label for gluten additives)
2 cups cooked and shredded turkey (could use chicken)
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth (check for gluten free)
1 cup Velveeta Cheese
Shredded Cheese for garnish
Crunched tortilla chips for garnish

In a big stock pot I sauteed the onion in a little bit of Olive Oil. Add the garlic and allow onion to get tender. Add all ingredients except for last 3. Cook on medium heat covered until bubbly. Put Velveeta in a microwave safe dish with a little bit of milk and heat in 30 sec. increments until melted. Add to soup. Dish up and serve with cheese and Chips on top!



Most people watch tv, read a book, etc. when they get bored. What does a artistic person do (when she's also bored of the above mentioned things....)


Make it Happen

A few days ago a doctor told us at Burgie's MGMC that there are 5 foods you should eat every day. They are:

- Spinach
- Eggs
- Winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.)
- Apples
- Blueberries

There you have it. Be healthy now.