joy :: day three :: personified

today was not what i planned. i was home alone supposed to be working on homework. i tried. it just was a mess in my craft/work room and that is where i needed to do work.

so my time was not wasteful but sometimes wayward.

i actually started the day at the coffee shop, but there was a young man who was insistent that we all hear whatever he was telling his date. i think i may be old. i have realized that i need silence to work or read or concentrate really. which is funny because normally i don’t like when it is too quiet.

but the reason it was not what i planned, was because i had to miss my favorite girl’s softball games, to work on my homework. which i did very little of. my viking told me she played fantastic.

so, it was a long day. i am super bummed i missed a chance to cheer her on. i cleaned and tried and was productive. but missed my favorites.

they came home exhausted and windburned and starving.

i had the blankets ready. i picked up the pizzas, and i waited on them.
just the act of taking care of them was the happiest part of my day for sure.

because sometimes joy is spoiling. sometimes good ranch and a recap of plays awesomely executed, and acknowledgment of a room well cleaned is exactly what you need (minus the stinky feet).

but mostly, when the plans of the day change, i wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in this world than sandwiched between these two snoozing beautiful people. because they are my joy, and i don’t know what i did to earn their love. but i am the luckiest girl in the world that this is my life with them.

they are my joy.

to me, they are joy personified.



joy :: day two :: in the details

photo (18)oftentimes i am too busy for the details.

my brain gets mushed into thinking that everything on the news is the only news.

sluggishly moping along

like there is no good out there.

no sparkle.

no triumph.

no joy.

i wander in and out of a pessimistic haze, unsure of my faith, too much noise,

too much hurt – intense pain for those whom i cannot help. i get depressed.

it happens more than it should to be honest.

regardless of my brain’s chemistry, i want to know more JOY.

i have more than enough love, experiences & laughter in my life to know anything but happiness.

i know my faith SHOULD be stronger than my worries, my fears, mine (others’) pain.

i know i am not alone in this warp of too much.

i cannot control everything that happens to me, only my attitude toward it.

most days, it only lasts a few minutes, maybe an hour.


something miraculous happens: i notice the joy.

photo (20)

i become engaged in being ALIVE THAT VERY MOMENT.

i pick up the details, i smell, i touch, i seek.

i am reminded that i have been given the gift of life every day that i wake up,

i need to grab hold of it with everything i’ve got.

i must seek the joy i want to wear.

hot diggity damn do i want to wear it out!

we’ve got one life folks, what message are we trying to sell, problem are we trying to fix?

what if we really LIVED in the moment, became happy to have BREATH, and sought joy in every turn?

we would hear joy, be joy, see joy, envelope the world in joy.

let’s find our joy, SEEK IT OUT. now go!

i have HOPE because it was SPOKEN (part one)

View More: how do you explain a special gift of attending a women’s Christian conference & a travel plan that makes you anxious (switching planes & a big Hotlanta airport with an embarrassing story to boot), & the connections from a stranger-turned-friend are placed in just the right timing? & even perhaps, how you sit next to the people on airplanes that may make some Christians balk, & make me open up even more about how i know we are ALL loved, & how all of it makes for one of the greatest weekends of my life? i will try with humor & truth. but is all of it just coincidence? nuh-uh. it isn’t. i am starting to believe in non-coincidence. if you think i’ve gone all crazy eight ball lady, you are wrong. i went to Hope Spoken, & the words, hugs, stories, shared meals, “coincidences” that i experienced are not fake. they did not happen on a reality t.v. show, or to someone’s aunt’s best friend. they happened to me. & i am going to be as brave as possible  & share those stories, some bits of the conversations (privacy will be upheld completely), & down right COOL things that i experienced, & i will hopefully give you a sense of how this weekend & another weekend over a year & a half ago, have changed me forever. i went to the Influence Conference well over a year ago. that began the process of this weekend for me. click over here to read that recap. so i kinda knew what a women’s Christian conference could be, or would maybe look like. & was i ever excited. but the BEST part of this experience, is that while that conference was my first, & i loved every second of it, Hope Spoken felt like it was a gift from God, JUST FOR ME. that may sound selfish or weird, or like i loved this conference more, but i believe that what God started at the Influence Conference, He finished at Hope Spoken. He is the Ultimate Storyteller. when i tell you some of the deets, you will *hopefully* know, why it has taken me so long to even process this conference, & while some of it, will remain in my heart as a private love letter from God, shared only for my hopes & dreams, & for my future.

my roomie: darling, sweet, HILARIOUS, open, warm. her name is kerith, & i love her. she’s from texas. a mama, a wife, & an all around great friend & sister. View More: kerith & i had not met in person before this weekend. by the time dinner rolled around a mere maybe two hours after we met, people at our table (hi beautiful ladies!) asked how long we knew each other, thinking we were long time friends. God knew that i would be shy to room with a “stranger”, that’s why i felt okay about letting some of my gunk out there prior to meeting her. we got to know each other online through emails & texts first. & i now cannot wait to stay in touch & become even better friends with this hilarious, sweet soul that lives in Texas. i’ve already asked if she’ll move her family to the mitten …. (please leave comments to coerce her to at least consider it, & leave out any details of said polar vor-anythings). 😉

the town: dallas. i may be in love with you. i told every person i encountered that i was from michigan. i had a confidence i never knew i had, i talked to the hotel peeps, the taxi drivers, the waitress, & i was just SO excited to have my toes painted with my open toed sandals on. i’d love to visit you again, perhaps next year for the Hope Spoken conference again? it is on my prayer list to go. let’s make it happen Dallas!

the decor/overall feel: i cannot express enough how in love i am with every little detail. casey, danielle & emily were so lovely, so thoughtful in their planning, & it made my heart sing, especially because i am a graphic design student right now, & am falling more & more in love with everything visual.

Hope Spoken welcome

♥ we were welcomed with hope ♥

Hope spoken treat table outside

♥ treat table; i spy a hard working host husband ♥

every detail was lovely

every detail was lovely

this is the warm up post. i will finish the other half of this with stories to tell you… (oh the stories!) and hopefully explain a little of how this weekend was one of the best in my life! more coming soon! and if you think of it today, will you say a prayer, or shoot some positive energy my way tomorrow morning. whatever is your thing, i’d love some good stuff, as i start a new adventure on a new job, and i’m a bit nervous! thanks lovelies!  toodlelooly for now! (my grandma kitchen used to say that every time you left her…miss her SO much).


turkey is not the only thing.



coffee, sometimes with sugar, always with cream.

the sky at dusk.

snuggly socks.

the warmth of the spring sunshine.

rock and roll.

cheese vendor at the farmer’s market.

patterns in fabric.


motorcycle rides.


friends who know me inside and out.

family who loves me inside and out.

spilling guts to strangers.

kind neighbors.

ridiculous belly laughs at no one’s expense.

new girl.

plants, plants, plants.




art, & the souls who believe in themselves enough to make it.


children laughing.





you reading this.

my best friend.

for these, &

happiest day of gratitude to you, and yours.

push on


sometimes your keyboard is a bit too sticky.

perhaps that is your truth. or maybe your tires, or your days seem flat.

perhaps you have forgotten what life without hard work looks like.

or perhaps you need to work harder, like i’m feeling.

maybe you need a break.

a rest from the busy, or a nook from the stress.

orangey pinkness

maybe your colors are all running together, & you just feel muddy. or blue.

i am here to tell you that it happens to everyone, & that you must push on.

i don’t mean to push through, i mean push on. for there is strength in knowing when to rest.

rest if your soul needs it.

take a break in the most relaxing, or energizing way.

but please carry on with the utmost hope, as we know that the Good Guy has our backs.

his wings will shelter us from the storms of our days & longest nights.

He is always looking out for us, no matter our moods, our colors, our stories.

we must know that He is there regardless if we feel Him or not.

He is there. what an awesome TRUTH.

green eyes

this truth is something to take hold of, & wrap ourselves in daily.

He is our Great Comforter – our Great Hope.

i would be lost without my God, & His love for me.  I know He has a plan that I cannot see.

my peace in Him gives me rest, & knowing that I’m in His hands, gives me energy for the weary days.

also? coffee helps, chocolate is necessary, & hugs are my favorite.  🙂

gratefullness too.

family & friends’ honeyed voices, & pictures of lovely littles & people, sent right to my little phone.

those pictures & texts, the notes of thoughfulness – make my day. 🙂

they probably make yours too. i am going to consciously start writing more snail mail. surprise someone i know with a lovely note of happy.

all these things are sources of goodness, & in this month of gray skies & lack of color, i need that, & perhaps you do too. maybe someone you know needs that love sent their way?

so let’s go give lovely-ness to our world, & let us be grateFULL.

we can be the LOVE we want to feel & see, & we don’t even know fully the greatness of how that LOVE that will change us! ♥

push on my friends. our love is needed everywhere. our love is felt always. our love is irreplaceable.

He will cover you with his feathers,
& under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield & rampart.  PSALM 91:4

coffee shop south haven


adventure, adventure :: backpacking in the moonlight

i went backpacking for the first time last fall.
where you wear your food, your clothes, your space to sleep, on your back.
and you set up camp at some lovely place, where the air is fresher than your lungs know what to do with.

at some point on our hike out.

at some point on our hike out.

we went up north in the lower peninsula of michigan, to the hoist lake recreation area.

it was magical.  i don’t have any pictures of walking in, but we walked in around 10 p.m., and it was just stunning. quiet, and peaceful, and coolish with a humid mist.

these two were pumped, as was i.

these two were pumped, as was i.

it was the kind of trip, where the planning is quick, and spur of the moment, and where the excitement of the trip is electric.  we had all the equipment we needed, and just decided to go.  we only had one real night/day to spend up there, and that was all we needed. i love my family.

she was ready to defend me against squeeters.

she was ready to defend me against skeeters.

my love has backpacked his whole life, and a.r. is following in those giant footsteps of his, and is quite the adventurer herself.  i love nature, i love being with my family, and i have definitely camped rustically (no bathroom, no showers, no people around you for a LONG while) before.  but, i had never backpacked.

in the morning, i felt peace.

in the morning, i felt peace.

it was not a very good night of sleep for me, but my sweets both slept amazing.  i was worried i would roll over a.r., and so, couldn’t quite relax.  but, i know if we could’ve stayed at least one more night, i would have been refreshed beyond my own understanding, because just the less than 24 hours that i was up there, i was refreshed.

these beauties were taking a bath close to us in the morning mist.

these beauties were taking a bath close to us in the morning mist.

we had a campfire, and campers food (a.r’s fave) we hiked during the day, we gathered sticks, learned more about our surroundings, and laughed in the wind.

my firemaker.

my firemaker.

we are blessed to have been able to go.


morning coffee ♥

morning coffee ♥

this was our view. we couldn't see another person from our "site".

this was our view. we couldn’t see another person from our “site”.

God's Glory.

God’s Glory.

i beyond a doubt, believe that it was a perfectly orchestrated trip from my Maker to enjoy the end of last summer with my loves before the school year began again for a.r.

it was exactly what we knew we needed.

trifecta of awesomeness.

triangle of awesomeness.

no makeup, no worries.

no makeup, no worries.

it is one of my favorite trips of all time.  i was less healthy than i am now, but that makes me even more excited for this year’s trip!


those two people are my heart.

the people in this picture make me so happy, even if i look like i need a nap, and a makeover! :)

the people in this picture make me so happy, even if i look like i need a nap, and a makeover! 🙂

goofballs in the woods.

goofballs in the woods!


thank you Lord, for this view.

thank you Lord, for this view.

love is everywhere, you just have to look.

love is everywhere, you just have to look.

i heart wildflowers.

i heart wildflowers.

backpacking is amazing. i am an amateur, but i know if you have any questions about stuff we brought, or what you would need, r.l. would be happy to help you answer those questions.  it is something you should try.  just once.  i promise, you will come away relaxed, refreshed, and more in love with life.


best girl. small frog. favorite.

best girl. small frog. favorite.

only a prince will do.

only a prince will do.

go out and seek adventure. it is a blast. i promise.




we did it! (well, i knew they could do it, but i again, was less healthy then, and this was an accomplishment!). yay!

we did it! (well, i knew they could do it, but i again, was less healthy then, and this was an accomplishment!). yay!


now go find some adventure!!!


the breath of freedom


the curtains take in deep breaths, as if they know i need to.

the hum of the day, the dusk settling in, my lap warmed by the addictive portal.

i speak of kindness, of loving your neighbor, but it is more than that.

we must love our words too.

protect them fiercely, know that they carry weight.

we must protect those themes that young and old will absorb,

as if the pulse of humanity depends on it.

it just may.

now, no more shall my lips produce another vile spewing,

i’ve realized i am done with their toxic effects.

i am free!  i don’t need to make excuses, nor belittle myself, or others.

my God has set me free, and i no longer need to feel the death grip of fear.

anxiety does not have a hold on me.

for :  i know that i will be going to the Highest place of Peace (one day), for the sole purpose that i am loved beyond my earthly understanding.

i am thought so highly of, that my breaths – are counted, measured

as a sleeping babe in swaddles was, once, long ago.

that thought provokes more than just happiness in me.

i am overwhelmed by it.


so, i strive to perfect this earthly breath i have been given, knowing that i shouldn’t and can’t be perfect.

don’t be perfect, it is a waste of breath.

love your best, and the rest will fall into place (i must tell myself).

there was only one perfect one.

and He saved me.

and the words that keep striking me over and over again, are

‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, and now am found, was blind, but now I see.’

so, if i can just carry that notion, tucked alongside my ribs, it will become my anthem.

i just need to remember to sing it.

amazing grace (in)

how sweet the sound (out)

that saved a wretch like me (in)

i once was lost (out)

but now am found (in)

was blind (out)

but now i see. (in)

i am overwhelmed by grace friends, and it is good.

it becomes my breath.

i am alive, and i am free!

happy monday to you, i hope your night is filled with love and light!


beckon to the ivory arch


what will heaven look like?

what will be revealed?

what songs will envelope

our tear free hugs of zeal?

when the sun of life is setting,

sprinkling grace along each day,

when will we remember,

that heaven is the only way?

when the bluebird song is whispered,

when the angels lead our march,

when the laughter of our loved ones

beckon to the ivory arch.

i want to relish in the joy

of each and every breath received

when our God shows us His love

i can learn to trust and Be.

i know the way to get there,

i hope we meet someday above,

i believe in Heaven’s promise

i believe in His great love.



blueprint :: the Kitchens

at the Kitchen table with our family treats.

at the Kitchen table with our family treats.

:: the idea man ::

my papa was a builder.  brick by brick he planned the great structures he would erect in the metro detroit area.  he and his brothers became known for their quality of workmanship.  they have a few local Detroit landmarks from their years with the DMKitchen Building Co.

but, in my eyes, their legacy, especially my papa’s, are their families –  their testament that faith in God, with love and hard work, yields joy, in every circumstance.

we had to say goodbye to the house that my papa built this past fall.  it was a very long, time-consuming process for my family. it was emotional.  it was dirty.  it was hard.  i helped moved a few things and kept a few things too.  but of all the things that i still have, it is without a doubt, not the things, but the feeling of home, of love and togetherness that i will take with me when i think of that beautiful peach house (complete with trap doors & various cool built-ins).

i remember hot july days playing water tag, and fishing for guppies with salty crackers and big nets at their lake.  my cousins, sisters and i would tuck the “caught” fish in our dug up sand ponds right on the shore of the lake.  my papa would sneak us Cheetos and Cheese Puffs from those bright blue canisters, while my grandma told him not to spoil us (full well knowing he probably was, that was my papa).

i remember taking trips in his pale yellow work truck, and him whistling an old tune about it being “hard to be humble”.  laughing, knowing that after he finished singing, we would share a giggle, and have some breath mints.  The roll kind, with the shiny blue and white wrapper.

i remember the crisp hugs after church, followed by countless french toast breakfasts with watered down orange juice at their house on sundays.  sometimes, when we were lucky, we went out to eat instead, and he would order Moons over my Hammy from Denny’s.

every christmas eve we were at the house…loud, chaotic joy.  all the grandkids.  plenty of wrapping paper.  one year, almost every one of my cousins and sisters received pearl jam’s Vitalogy cd.  we have joked about it ever since.

:: the architect’s best friend ::


my grandma just passed away february 1st of this year, and her funeral was the following week.  i have never attended a more beautiful ceremony of someone’s life.  it was a celebration.  my mother (with help from some aunts and uncles) wrote and read a poem about my grandma’s life, especially with a few nods to her Don (my papa). my sister and cousin read our grandchildren memories aloud.  there were plenty of tears and laughs alike, and the jist of all the 90 years she lived the good life here on earth, was this:

each day is a gift, name your blessings one by one, cherish those family and friends whom you have, and never, ever try to do anything without “fuel for your tank”.

i will remember all of these nuggets of wisdom from my grandma, but i carry a part of her every single day.  i am named after her, and some other cool chicks named barbara from my family tree.

barbara is a name that i have always held with a bit of curiosity.  to quote one of my favorite bands: “could i have been anything other than this”, to which i wonder, if my name had been jessica, or betsy, or monica, would my life have turned out differently?  i think so.

my name is a part of me, it is stitched into my dna.  it is the scottish treasure of a grandma i just said goodbye to, and the feisty english opinions of my intelligent, independent mother.  i am the sixth.

i cherish it even more now.

:: the imprint ::

yet, a name means nothing if your heart is not attached to your attitude, your gratitude, and most importantly your love.  barbara to me, means living my passion, just as my ancestors did, just as my grandma would have wanted me to.

what i noticed about her funeral and wake, was that people did not attend to remind us that she was the great builder Don’s wife.  they did not visit the church because her name was Barbara Kitchen, or was the first woman deacon at the Kirk, or because she faithfully volunteered at Beaumont every Wednesday for nearly 3 decades. (*that is me just mentioning it to brag on her.  she was a gem, whom i was privileged enough to care for a few times a week for the last couple years before she entered into a memory care facility).

DC_BI _early (1)

:: leaving their cornerstone ::

they came, because no matter what she did, she enjoyed life so fully, and loved her family, friends, church goers and hospital visitors so well, that they felt it important to tell us what a wonderful, happy, loving woman she was.  that she was kind.  that she prayed for their well-being, and they wanted to say thanks to us, and mainly, to celebrate her love for God that was so clear in her day-to-day life.

there were several blueprints that we retrieved before we left the peach house on Lakewood back in the fall, tucked away in musty boxes and briefcases.  the winding circle driveway encapsulated with trees will always remind me of the intelligent and thoughtful way that my grandparents built their home.

but none were as profound as the blueprints the Kitchens left for all of us:  every day is a gift, name your blessings one by one, and know, that home is more than your name, or your address, it is in your passion.  their passion was love, God, family.

i plan on building my life according to their blueprints.