A full circle summer

by Kristi Van Dyk

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on the floor, surrounded by the team I shared my life with this summer. We circled up together over plates piled with food. We were tucking in to the Labor Day Luau together, getting ready to share one last meal as a team. I was honestly focused on the incredible pulled pork, the coconut shrimp, and Dole Whip Sundaes ... So, it took me rather by surprise that after a prayer (complete with hand holding) led by my Joshua, (who appropriately thanked God for food, playgrounds and putt putt), a sweet voice piped up ... "Let's share our favorite summer highlight ... Ready, GO!" 

I was so caught off guard ... Sure, we had spent the summer reflecting. Reflection questions were usually the first thing out of MY mouth ... But here we were with them challenging me to reflect. I am embarrassed to say I didn't have an answer ready. I didn't have a summer highlight ... was it possible? 

They spent the next 20 minutes laughing, sharing, talking, and I spent the 20 minutes racking my brain for a single moment. A moment I couldn't place ... 

I left lunch determined to spend some honest time reflecting so that I could answer their question well. 

When I think back on what I, personally, took away, it’s not surprising to me that I don’t see events. I don’t see numbers. I don’t see data. I see faces. I see moments. I hear conversations. I feel hugs (and high fives and fist bumps, and handshakes… lol ). 

Through their authentic relationships - and willingness to embrace someone new, I believe my staff has shaped me in 3 critical ways - ways that warrant sharing. 

I mean it. Do the stupid stuff. Do the things that don’t make sense. Spend when you don’t have much. Share without looking for a return. Do it out of a heart of love. 

5 lattes dropped off at my desk. Just because.

COUNTLESS dinners (at least 15) where someone takes a child of mine, or two, or three and shared the meal with them because I was rushing away. 

Babysitting … oh all the free babysitting. I can’t remember the amount of times I turned around and someone already had my busy child and was offering to walk him home and settle him down for the night while I finished up. 

Gift cards .. for their boss. AFTER they were done for the season… 

Powerful notes of encouragement. 

Late night talks on the floor of our tiny apartment while my kids slept (or zoned themselves out on an iPad) within sight of us.

Offers of help when I was clearly exhausted. 

SHOVING me out of work and taking care of all of the logistics even when I tried to deny the help (I saved that video Andrew)  

Mentoring Ben - Craig’s Cruisers. Lunches. Sea doo rides. Basketball. Talks.

Mentoring Kayleigh. Paddleboards. Crafts. Lunches. Secret events. Authenticity.

Mentoring Joshua. Ice cream. Golf. Ice Cream. golf. Ice cream. Golf. And that extra long date when I had had him all week and was at my wits end. 

Mentoring Madeleine. Planet 3. Tie Dye. Movie Snuggles. Sweet shoppe. Pool dates. 

And all of the rest of you who weren’t their “official” mentors but spent extra hours pouring into them from a heart of love 

The resident kids parties. 

Madeleine’s birthday. 

All of those afternoons poolside when no one was clocked in and I still found myself without any kids to supervise. 

None of this was your job. None of this was required. None of this earns you anything. You do this because you love … because you love my treasures and because you love Jesus.

You’ve taught me to love with a reckless abandon .. with no forethought. You’ve renewed my commitment to demonstrate the love of Jesus in the most powerful way - with full fledged open arms. 


Rolling out of bed 10 minutes before you’re due at work.
Throw the hair up (or don’t).
Grab the nearest staff shirt and pair of shorts.
Worry about the rest of the things later. 
Eat whatever is available.
LIVE on the beach, yup, all afternoon.
Maybe take a nap.
Roll in in just enough time to grab a shower (maybe) … and something in a bowl while you walk back to work. 
Always enjoy the sunsets.
Gather late into the night  

TRUTH: I came home and went into an instant panic mode, a frantic cleaning session. There was all of a sudden so.much.clutter. SO.MUCH. STUFF.  Things that just 12 weeks ago I was sure we needed. But truthfully, we had been fine, just 1 hour ago, and ALL SUMMER, without most of this … 

I’m committed to exploring what it looks like to declutter my life, so that I can be present more.

What would it take to embrace that summer spirit?
That feeling of rest and reconnection? 
What would it take to create here, that space ... that breathing room that I felt while away
What would it look like to bring that slice of Maranatha, home? 
(Truly, I'd need at least 2 staffers, on full rotation just for the kids) ... but the principle of rest remains the same.

If I could manage to make a change, I’m sure I’d see more people. I’m sure I’d hear more needs. I’m sure I’d learn to slow down and love more radically … 

#3. Hold this sacred

Its odd, you know, this concept of leaving your "real" life to live completely away. We even spent most of the summer without Daddy. 
We unplugged for so long that our kids were sure their "real" bed was in India.
I'm pretty sure they almost forgot we owned a cat - and that 2/3rds of their closet was back in Zeeland. 

Sure we will adjust back to our normal life. 

But we are permanently imprinted by what we left behind. We share a tighter bond for the common memories,  the tough conversations, the challenging situations. We hold sacred, the privilege that it is to look forward to starting this all again (Lord Willing) sometime next June.

You're treasures to us...

Best wishes on a smooth re-entry into "REAL" life, my dears. 

See you soon for #maranathasummer2019