Thursday, April 17, 2014



Today is a big day. April 17th. Today is my blog anniversary. Four whole years of writing and taking pictures and posting on Four years. Oh holy that's a lot.  That's as long as my time at Delphi High School or as long as my time at Hope College. I think these four years in the "real world" have been the best ones yet.


When I reached the one year mark of Overlap in 2011 I took pictures of everyone I was with that day holding up one finger. They didn't know why they were doing it, until they read the blog the next day and saw ONE. That sparked a tradition for celebrating my blogiversary year TWO and year THREE. For the past couple days I've been getting pictures of people for year four of overlapping. Most of them don't question why because it's not uncommon that I would ask them to do other weird things like wear a side pony braid.

I looked back at those old posts of the other blogiversaries this week and I noticed a few things as I scrolled through the pictures. Some of those people have showed up ever single year--they're my consistent friends and we are witnessing one another's lives. I'm so thankful for the handful of people that have been with me for that long. Then there are also brand new people each year because that's just how life works for me right now. New students with each school year and each semester. New campers in the Longhouse every summer. New leaders on our YL team and new kids walking into that community.

I love this tradition of a billion pictures today because this is what this space, this blog is all about. It's about these faces, these people, their lives and their stories. I started writing with the goal of writing about all the people that my life was overlapping with. I didn't want to write about just me because that's not the life I'm living.

 And I believe that the people in my life are worth writing about. I'm so lucky to know people as brave, smart, funny, passionate, courageous and fantastic as each of them. When you type 'lives overlap' into the search bar or click the app on your phone I want you to find out more about these people. I hope you see that Linc and Red are the cutest nephews ever and that I love those little guys so much. Get to know KCraig and how she's the craziest adult I've ever met and one of the biggest dreamers who makes her dreams a reality. Read about my Lunch Crew guys who renewed my faith in Junior High boys and make me laugh every single day. See Young Life girls like Brooke and Julia who love adventures and fun and whimsy and making every day a party. Feel like you know Ellyn because you know Mo and Jo, how much she loves clinics, the E-L-L-Y-N song and what it was like to live with her all summer long. Because of Overlap you can know that Cecilia is the reigning Queen of FBC and that Smooncat is not actually a cat but one of my very favorite people.

This blog has combined so many of my favorite things--pictures, the people I love, writing and doing something worth writing about. I don't know if I would write every single day if not for this space. That's why I started in the first place. I wanted to write a book but never got started so I thought I could write a little bit every day instead. Years later I have certainly written a lot. With over 300 posts a year, I've got over 12,000 total posts. That's a whole lot of memories and stories. If I printed it at all out I might discover that I have a book by now.

At this point I know that between 300 and 400 people look at Overlap every day. That's nuts. Especially because I have no idea who all those people are-- that's kind of weird and kind of really cool. For the first month of writing I didn't even tell anyone I had a blog because I didn't know if I would stick with it. Now this space is getting looked at thousands of times each month. I'm not sure who all of you are, but thank you for continuing to come back and read.

One of the ways that Overlap has changed my life is that it pushes me to live a life that I want to write about. I love Netflix and sleeping in just as much as the next person, but you can only blog about that so much before it gets really boring. I don't want to ever live a boring life. Instead I get to chronicle Young Life Clubs and Campaigners, the adventures of being a Junior High teacher, the ins and outs of living at camp all summer long where every single day is awesome. I get to tell you about a Texas adventure with Sarah Battaglia, meeting my favorite authors like Shauna Niequist, Bob Goff, and Glennon Doyle Melton. I did a color run and got stuck in an airport with 22 7th graders. We survived a flood at Sharp Top and missed a blizzard at Timber Wolf Lake. We celebrated the 5th year of Friendship Bracelet Club and I took girls to see Toby Mac perform.

This act of writing and recording makes me look for the good in every day. There are still days when I get bad news, when I'm really tired, when my students are annoying or when I really don't feel like grading research papers. But the good moments always weigh out the bad. I get to choose my attitude and I choose to focus on the best of what's around. It makes all the difference. That kind of attitude is contagious--I'm inspired by the people around me and hopefully some of the good in me will rub off on them too. Life is just better when we encourage one another, when we make our own fun, when we take opportunities, when we live life together.

I have this piece of art hanging in my apartment that was created by my friend Ellen Awad from Hope. Ellen does tissue paper art--dozens of tiny squares of tissue paper all glued onto a canvas in a beautiful mess. The squares lay over one another so that you can see through each one as they touch four or five other pieces. It's the same in a kaleidoscope, all the pieces flipping and turning on one another. I've discovered that kind of beauty is exactly what I want my life to look like, so when you look at me you can't help but see the people I'm overlapping with.

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