I hear a song and see a dance.

August 18, 2013

Happily Ever After...

Where did that phrase come from?  

"Happily ever after..."

When I hear that phrase it makes me think of fairy tales I have read growing up.  Princesses falling in love with their prince charming and being taken to their castle to live without a care in the world.  (that doesn't sound all that great, let's be honest!)

As I was thinking about that earlier and the expectations we place on this "Happily ever after" I was struck with how different it is made to seem as opposed to the actual beautiful real-ness of finding the lover of your soul.  

I am so incredibly blessed and beyond thrilled to be marrying my "rib-donator" Cole, in 42 days!  (AHH!!)  But something I have loved about our relationship is the complete real-ness we have.  We had what we call a "deepening of roots" verses the "fall flat on your face in love."  If you want to read our story, check out our wedding website.

I have had heart-break in my past with broken relationships but the heart-break has strengthened me, molded me and refined me. 

The Lord has such different plans for each of us - and seeing His guiDANCE (dancing with Him!) through every path He has led me through is incredible.  Looking back at my life and seeing where I am today with Cole, is miraculous.  

I remember the first time my heart was broken, I thought that I would never be "worthy" of love again.  I thought I had messed up all my chances of "happily ever after."  

Haven't we all though?  Don't we all need grace no matter what area of life we have have been hurt in?  Maybe I was prideful and the Lord was showing me, I truly NEED Him every minute.  Maybe He was showing and revealing things about His nature to me that I would never have learned any other way.  

Whatever His reasons were for me in my life, I know that today I trust Him and am growing stronger in Him daily.  And I know that without a doubt, Cole is the one who the Lord has placed into my life to be my best friend, my rock and for us to learn to become "ONE" with each other and with Him.  

The whole "becoming one" concept is so huge.  It's hard for me to fully wrap my mind around.  We were made to complete each other and bring balance in the other persons' life.  To love, cherish and encourage.  To love each other in our best and worst.  To share everything.  That is truly a "happily ever after" worth fighting for.  

The beautiful moments of smiles through tears when you realize something you have been disagreeing on is not what really matters but finding the root of the disagreement and understanding the other person's heart in a new way than you had before.  To have someone ask you a question and you answer it exactly the same way at exactly the same time.  To learn your family's way of doing something is totally different than his family's way of doing it and neither one is wrong or bad, just... totally different!  :-) To look at each other from across the room when someone says one word and it means something totally different that just the two of you understand.  To read a book over the phone together when you can't be close together.  To learn sometimes it's not so much what you say, but how you say it that matters.  To laugh uncontrollably.  To miss someone so much after a day apart that you ache deep inside and become sort of a grump to others around you.  (Sorry to my family!)  To not only grow in love with each other but with each other's families and learning what is important to each other's families and what makes them "beat."  To learn to lay down yourself to grow "us."  To stand up for each other.  To be a team.  To pray together when you don't "feel" like it but should more than ever.   To listen to and know each other's hearts when the words don't quite match.  To fight for "together-ness" and "us" at all costs.  To serve others around us.  To learn not to be obnoxious with how in love we are yet not being ashamed!  

This kind of real - "happily ever after" is better than anything I could have imagined.  Ever.  

and guys.... Cole has built this amazing barn (with his dad and brothers and design help from his mom!) on his family's property and made this beautiful loft apartment on the second floor.  It's so beautiful and it's the work of his hands.  He made it for us.  Hours of time and labor.  I love it.  And it's like a snow globe up there in the winter when the snow is falling.  The barn is my "castle" that my prince is taking me home to.  I feel like a queen.  

And may we ever continue on this real journey of becoming truly one.  Serving our Heavenly Father, serving each other, serving our families, serving others and laughing and dancing a lot!  What a truly beautiful "happily ever after" with my Cole.  

I love you, Cole Galust Groot!

Your Girl

March 29, 2013

Reflections on Good Friday

{in regards to Peter and John's willingness to pray in Jesus' name to heal the lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple in Jerusalem}

"Peter addressed the people: 'Men of Israel!  Why are you so amazed at this?  Or why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk through some power or godliness of our own?  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified His servant, Jesus - the same Jesus you handed over and disowned before Pilate, even after he had decided to release him.  You denied the holy and innocent One, and instead asked for the reprieve of a murderer!  You killed the author of life!  But God has raised him from the dead!  of this we are witnesses.  And it is through putting trust in His name that has given strength to this man whom you see and know.  Yes, it is trust that comes through Jesus which has given him this perfect healing in the presence of you all!"

True healing, Salvation, strength, LIFE is through Jesus' death. 

I am that beggar at the "Beautiful Gate" of the Temple.  I cannot walk without Your strength, Jesus.  I am a beggar before You and You are the strength giver.  You are the healer.  You give me strength to walk in Your ways and continually giving me strength to walk the way you did.  Sacrificing your life,  to serve others.  To save the world.  You are the only one who can give me the strength to follow You.  The author of LIFE!

Most Holy, Lord!  Healer, and friend.  Savior and King.

I love you. 

January 21, 2013


I am sitting here processing a lot after having been at the Home School Conference this past weekend.  It's a beautiful snowy January day,  perfect for writing and contemplation, hot chocolate and beautiful music.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
"Hear O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai our God is One!  And you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources.   These words, which I am ordering you today (10 commandments), are to be on your heart, and you are to teach them carefully to your children.  You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates."

Diana Waring spoke about this particular passage of Scripture this weekend.  I think that sums up how our family viewed homeschooling growing up.  It was an all encompassing lifestyle.  We didn't compartmentalize school into it's own box. 

So often it seems that we compartmentalize aspects of our lives.  Work.  Family. School.  God.  Friends.  Social.  Everything fits in its own box and we have no understanding of holistic living.  How all of those things God created with such purpose to flow one into the other, not as separate entities in our lives.  God is so fully of beauty and order in life and we like to separate these things when that was not His intention that we live life so dis-connected. 

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how awesome my family is.  I think my parents did such an amazing job raising us in light of Deuteronomy 6 passage.  The Lord was in every part of what we did.  We didn't just go to church on Sundays - every part of our lives included my parents living out their faith and showing us what that meant.  Reading the Bible together and talking about it - applying it to all of life not just when it was "Bible study" time.  During school, how we treated our siblings and parents.  Learning to respect our parents as the authority that the Lord has put in our lives and obeying with not only our actions but our hearts.  Learning about that with our parents in the same way as when you become adults needing to submit to the authority of the Lord and His rules not only with actions but with your heart.  How to serve others and work as a team.  We did everything together.  We learned what it meant to serve together, cry together, laugh together (and boy did we laugh a lot) and communicate about everything.

I think this was another key thing.  Communication.  My parents always had open communication with us.  We knew we could always talk to them and they always talked to us.  They also listened.  So important.  We made big decisions together.  We were a team. 

How does this even work?!  When you think about it we had a family of 5 and each one of us is so incredibly different.  I guess I make some of the above sound like we were the perfect family and that everything was always a little haven on earth for our family.  That would not be true.  We had our struggles just like everyone.  We didn't do all of the things I described above perfectly.  But that was part of the beauty of growing and learning together.  Making mistakes and growing from them.

We had a no-secrets policy growing up.  We didn't keep secrets from our parents.  That saved me so much grief.  Out of all three McDaniel kids I was probably the most likely to hold things inside rather than talk about them.  My brother and Sister talked about everything and anything on their hearts whenever and without hesitation.  My parents, especially my mom was good about asking me questions that helped me open up.  Even though sometimes I acted like I didn't appreciate that at times deep down I really did.  It was harder for me to open up and share but my parents were so wise in helping me work through that struggle.  It has saved me so many times as an adult that I am able to work through conflict and talk about hard things.  Because, let's face it life is hard!  Beautiful but hard and if we bottle things up inside, well... it's not a pretty picture.  It ends up coming out so un-healthily.  It is still not my favorite thing to have the "hard conversations" but I am so thankful because if my parents hadn't helped me in that area it would have been a lot worse. 

I guess all of these thoughts were just flowing through my mind this weekend.  I don't necessarily have a specific point in any of this,  just a good reminder of how important family is to me.  How hard it can be at times to live that out in a world that mocks anything good about parental or adult authority and rips family (at least the way God created family) apart.  I think that comes from so much hurt that happens in family.  We are all selfish people and working together to be a family is hard.  But communication is so important and learning to extend grace and forgiveness is vital. Also just having time to spend together.  Everyone now a days seems to be so busy.  Taking time for family seems to take the "back-burner" spot.  How do you cultivate a relationship you never pour anything into?   Spending quality time together is so important. 

So, I hope anyone reading this can be encouraged to take a step toward building a family relationship that needs to built today no matter how hard it is.  Asking forgiveness, extending forgiveness, having a conversation that draws your closer together and sharing what's on your heart no matter how difficult it may be.  The Evil One does not like family.  He likes division and chaos.  So remember it's hard to take that step towards unity and peace but it's SO incredibly worth it. 

The Lord is faithful to heal and restore even in the darkest times.   He uses everything to teach us and grow us to be more faithful to Him and following His ways.  Let us cast of selfishness and serve one another in the Father's deep love today.  Let us seek to love Him and let Him love us that we can pour that beautiful un-ending love to everyone else without expectation of what the "return" might be. 

January 2, 2013

12 things about 2012

 went to China for my third time
(for 6 weeks)

i found out i was going to be an aunt

i started the process for midwife school

i directed the narnia ballet for the 4th time
(it went so great!)

choreographed the wizard of oz 

i spent my first moments of 2012 in california with my dear bring me hope friends singing worship songs to our Father around a campfire.  beautiful.

i traveled to california twice to be with some of my biggest blessing girls.

crocheting has become one of my favorite things

i went on a kayaking trip in 30 degree weather and plunged into the freezing water twice. 
(it was awesome)

had my dad in china with me.  
(favorite memories!)

grew deeper in relationship with my awesome family

got to live everyday as an adventure walking with my Heavenly Father

2013 started out with a little dream coming true...  doing a ballet photo shoot in the beautiful snow!  God even topped it off with "snow globe" type of snow coming down...  what a  great way to start the new year!   I am so excited to see all of the adventures in store for me...  I love walking with the Father every step of the way.... He is the most faithful and more precious to me each day.  

All Photos by Anne L. Kendra

August 25, 2012


This summer was great...  I can't believe it's coming to an end I feel as if I need a summer to recover from summer.  I guess the true saying goes "I need a vacation from the vacation."

China was wonderful.
California was wonderful.
Being home is wonderful.
"There's no place like home."

"Your home should become a light that illuminates the entire street and community."
 ~Rebbe Schneerson~

Home is a symbol really of a place to belong, to rest, to feel loved.  There are certain homes you enter where you can just intrinsically feel "at home."

When I was with the Hedden family this summer in China I could feel "at home" in their house.  They welcomed me into their family, we could drink coffee on the porch together and laugh and sit on the couches and have heart conversations.  I love them.
Natalie and Andrew Hedden
I could feel at home coming to California and staying with my friends the Bolts.  Staying up late and laughing, preparing to go on a boat trip (that ended in storm watching) sitting with Beth and Beccabo talking about everything and anything in our hearts and dreaming of the future, climbing trees with Abby and going for walks with Mary on the beach and after dinner hikes. 
My California Sisters, Becca, Bethany and Lyndsey
 I could feel at home coming home to my family's home in MI.  Sleeping in my own bed, smelling familiar smells, laughing with mom and dad, sitting around a campfire sharing thoughts and tears with the world's best dad, getting big "bear hugs" from my brother Ben, setting up tents in the backyard and watching movies with my mom.  Sitting on the front porch having heart chats with my beautiful mom...  laying in the sunshine.  Seeing some of my "adopted" siblings who share our home from GVSU and how mom and dad love them.  Hugging my bestest Sister!
Home sweet home in Michigan!  :)
 I could feel at home visiting some of my friends houses...  having long chats with Mrs. Groot about life while she is healing from foot surgery.  Laughing about funny things that happen and petting their sweetest dog, Boog.  Sitting around the kitchen table at the Regan's house and laughing and sharing about our summers with the little girls sitting on my lap, and giggling of course.  Arranging flowers with my Nana at her house...  Visiting my dear friend Sarah and her two little girls and helping little Olivia ride her bike with no training wheels - cheering her on when she went "4 houses" all by herself...

Beautiful Mrs. Groot (and Mr. Groot!)
Cute Olivia!
Me and Boog romping at the Groots
Going to Gracie's home in China - meeting her mom and sharing a meal where we couldn't communicate much through our words but our hearts were still able to communicate.  To hug and laugh and make hand motions to explain certain things.  

Gracie and her Mom
Home truly is a beautiful thing...  and there are so many pictures that I have been DEEPLY blessed with.  They can all look different but the feeling is the same.  Being welcomed in, a place of rest and belonging, freedom to laugh and cry and share hearts. Being loved.

It does make me sad, thinking about the beautiful children who came to camp this summer in China - who don't have that place of home.  How they cried leaving camp - how we created maybe a "home" for them that they will never have.   Knowing that the Father loves them as His own and cares for them far more than I ever could.  Oh how He loves them... I miss them.

I hope we can all bring a bit of "home" with us no matter where we are and who we are with.  You never know when someone might just need "a little home."

May 30, 2012

Just some thoughts in a poem format on sin and up-rooting yuck in our heart-gardens.

"Roots (and Weeds and Flowers)"
May 29, 2012
by me

Roots can be stubborn
They hold on tight and spread their tiny tentacles to soak in all the nourishment of the land

Roots of weeds
Roots of flowers
Striving to attain the same nourishment
Yet surely one must win the battle
For the two cannot flourish together

Looking at a weed
And looking at a flower
A weed can be beautiful even boasting small flowers

But what is the difference?

A flower bringing true fragrance, unselfish beauty
Simply living to make life more beauty-filled
and what a sweet fragrance?!

A weed while sometimes pretty to the eye
Choking life slowly of the pure flowers
Weeding their way in, jealous of the sunshine's nutrients
Not able to give off a sweet fragrance

Weeds do not need to be tended
They run rampant
Threatening to choke out all the flowers life and beauty

What must be done to ensure the flowers sweet fragrance stays intact?
The weeds must be taken out by the roots
Every single last one
By the roots

Sometimes they can be pulled out but stubborn roots remain
Still striving to steal the nutrients

So we must persistently work and stay on guard
For no root of a weed to take root among the precious flowers
Stealing their beauty to shine

Let the flowers roots grow deep
Let their fragrance be strong and their beauty shine;
perfectly and unaffected by any weeds

May 25, 2012

past two months in pictures.

dance worship night... (may 4)

fun with some sweet girls downtown
more from the worship night - with backstage helpers!  (lifesavers, ellen and haylie!)

the wizard of oz (april 12 - 14)

everyone from the dance worship night

sweet babies and my student helpers this year.

this is my favorite little boy in the whole world, justin.   he calls me "missuhgwacie."
my favorite puppy, boog!

amy duffy!  (my little sis, who is coming to china this summer!)

i had to drive anna to the rehearsal with her hair sticking out of the sunroof!  (wicked witch from wizard of oz!)  so funny!

sweet jenna and me

one of my best friends since high school days, cole.  (director of wizard of oz!)

me and mr. daaaan! 

amy duffy and i again!

random trips to lansing for five guys with the cousin, jordan!

chicago trip for choir memories and incidentally me and sister's FIRST trip to the AG store... pretty exciting!

they only had a mini version of my doll, kirsten.


cheesecake factory!

just dancing!
bring me hope nightwalk!  people were walking all over the world to help raise money for orphans to come to camp this summer in China through Bring Me Hope!  (may 18)  annnd china.... here i come in ONE MONTH!!!  WOOOHOOO!  :)                            

April 29, 2012

wandering thoughts

I have a tendency to look at myself far too much. Getting ready in the morning would be so much quicker if I wasn't looking at myself so much and making faces. (This is totally the truth... mirrors are far more entertainment to me than they should be!) But in the deeper sense I look at myself far too much rather than looking to Christ. I get inward focused asking questions such as: "Why do I feel this way?" "Why do I react this way?" These are not bad things in themselves to ask but I have a tendency to do a little too much internal processing. This can quickly become a dangerous cycle because when left alone with our thoughts they quickly can be twisted into little lies we believe about ourselves or others, we can tend to wallow in our own bitterness or self-pity and usually end up feeling very self-focused rather than Christ and others focused. It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own feelings about something instead of focusing on the truth we know we can run to in Jesus word. {Side note - wrestling through issues is different than wandering thoughts... wrestling through issues is a really good thing for all of us to do, making sure to seek wise council in the process!} "Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely." - Robert Murray McCheyne 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

April 2, 2012

the neesby lookbook girl party!

I participated in the most awesome girl party today online! Check it out! :)