Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

So grateful that Greg and I got to spend the day with my sister and her family this week! To say the least, it was an eventful photo shoot, but after a long day, I managed to get a handful of images where everyone looks adorable. And a valuable lesson: Babies require much patience during a photo shoot and a lot of the time needs to be dedicated towards making them happy. 

I hope your Christmas is blessed and that you would find rest in the shadow of HIS wings! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

He Proposed and I said YES!

I was so surprised. I was sure he was not going to ask me that night, at least that was what I told my friend Michelle on the phone that day. Here's what went down....

He took me downtown to Millennium Park to go ice skating. After waiting in line and sipping up yummy hot chocolate, we finally got our skates, held hands and like rookies we took off. After about 20 minuets of skating, Greg made me go into the center of the ice skating rink. He then got down on one knee. A man in the crowd yelled out, "HE"S GONNA PROPOSE!!" Everyone stopped. Everyone Cheered. Greg said some sweet words to me and pulled out the ring and asked, "Will you marry me?"

I said, "YES!!!!!"  And the crowed roared! It was perfect, it was classy, it was romantic and I LOVED it!

So, I can now officially say WE ARE ENGAGED!!! We are so excited to start this journey together and we want to thank each of you for your love and support!!! I can't wait to be Mrs. Joanna Meyer!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emotional. Uncertain. Striving for the Best.

Emotional. That is what I would label today as. Everything that is good and pleasant makes me teary-eyed. I was comforted that when I asked one of my girls how she was doing, she replied, "emotional." Then I went and asked a friend the same question, she replied, "emotional."

I am grateful for my emotions, I love the fact that God made me sensitive to the things he loves and hates. I consider it a blessing to have an emotionally sensitive day. :)

I also was comforted while reading a blog I stalk. That's right, I am a blog stalker. Someone else was thinking the same things I am feeling two years ago! I thought that was so cool!

Uncertainty and striving for the best are the words that I am choosing to describe my next month or so. I get asked every single day what I want to do with my degree. I always respond, oh something in Marketing or PR and photography on the side. Everyday, the time gets closer to where I will actually be sending resumes out; in fact, I think I am going to next week! EEEK! As I was talking with the career counselor, a woman who has become a good friend of mine, I shared with her this silly guilt that I have; I don't want to apply to more than one place at a time because I feel I am being deceiving. :( I KNOW this is dumb, anyone who is hiring knows that if they have your resume so do a bunch of other people AND I'm never going to find a job if I do this one at a time! But, I can't help but feeling a little weird about it.

Then I have this uncertainty feeling. I have money, but not tons, and I really love to buy things. It scares me that I might have to refrain in the future, and as Greg said last night, "not buy clothes for a whole two months because we don't have the money." WOW! I know I can totally get the discipline to do it, but that would be challenging for me, I have to admit.

But, I am incredibly grateful for the gift of being able to take pictures. I literally can't stop smiling when I capture something beautiful, or when someone tells me I did a good job. I want to create artwork for people's walls. I really want to capture the moment in a photograph so that you feel like you are right there when looking at it. I want to bring people as much joy as I get when I find an amazing photography blog! With this new camera I have, my images are dramatically prettier and higher quality. I really desire to learn how to properly use it. My dream would be to go fully manual, in the mean time I will ease myself off auto. One day I will get there, I am just going to keep striving for the best that I can.

I felt that I wanted to share something more personal today, maybe its that joyful emotion bubbling over.

And here is a picture that I just love to look at. If you can't tell, I LOVE dogs! Meet Sammy Dykstra....

And an oldie, but a goodie! One of my favorites that I've never shared :)

Monday, December 6, 2010


Praying over Pastor John Hamstra before he gave the message on Sunday.
I am amazed by God's plans and sovereignty. I am amazed that He loves me and calls me worthy. I amazed at how when you say Yes to God and Yes to doing difficult things, he comes through and changes your heart and does amazing things.

I am grateful that the Lord led me to Mercy Hill Church. Leaving Grace church, the place I had grown up in, was a difficult thing to do, but I knew that the Lord had somewhere else for me. He first led me to Living Word Church and each week I was brought tears in worship. I was amazed by the presence of the Holy Spirit week after week. It was only about 6 months after attending Living Word God showed me his purpose in leading me there. They were going to plant a church near where I lived and I felt an instant calling to be a part of this.

Fast forward one year and God is doing amazing things through Mercy Hill Church. Greg and I came here out of a leap of faith, He called and we said yes. This past Sunday we relocated our Sunday morning services to a new temporary building because we could no longer fit in the other space. Praise God! It is a beautiful thing to be a part of a church that God is blessing. I am grateful for the leaders in the church and for my pastor and his wife. I pray God's sweet blessing on them and am eternally grateful that God lead me here. This is just one of the many ways that God's plans have been far better than I could have imagined! Thank you Lord, for you are good!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Boomer and Jack

Meet my nephews, Jack and Boomer.
Jack is a Puggle and is six years old. He loves to cuddle. (2nd picture)
Boomer is a Lab and Puggle mix and is a one year old puppy. He, too, loves to cuddle, but only after he licks your face 10 times. (1st picture)
Boomer likes to taunt his older brother, but once Jack growls, Boomer hides. Both are highly athletic dogs who play catch on a regular basis. Trying to capture them in a still shot took a lot of effort, but I thought these ones were simply adorable and captured their personalities.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The title of this blog background is Elizabeth. This is a name that is near and dear to my heart, so I couldn't help but choose it. God has placed multiple amazing women in my life whose name is Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Jackson: My Great Grandmother, a woman whose life story is so full of worldly passion that she needs to have a book written after her. It is because of her I no longer bite my nails, a appreciate a good mani and pedi, I love big jewelry, I can handle a wheel chair like nobodies business, and I have a passion and strength for life even when it gets tough, I think too it is from her that i get my entrepreneurship and desire to be a business woman. Grams passed away in 2008, but I feel blessed to have shared many memories with her!

Michelle Elizabeth Penman (Dykstra): My sister, a woman who I love dearly. We have a similar voice, the same mannerisms, we look alike, we act alike, we both love pickle juice and a good pickled okra. She is a nurse, a wife and a mother and I love seeing her grow in faith and do an amazing job. It is from her that I have my love for doing others hair and she actually got me my first job at a hair salon. It was because of her I went to Trinity.I guess I never realized this before, but she laid out a good path for me to follow :) It is from her that I was challenged to be tough and not let others bother me. Thank you for always loving me!

Elizabeth Greenwald: The FRIEND, a woman who is what I think God meant when he said sisters in Christ. We have similar voice and unique vocabulary. We like the same clothes and accessories. So much that even though we live far away we end up with the same items. She was there for me when I felt hopeless and needed a friend. It is because of her I desire to get to know other woman of God, despite the many times I have been hurt. It is because of her that I love fashion. It is because of her I desire to laugh as much as possible. It is because of her example I feel equipped and desire to be an amazing wife and mother. Thank you for letting your light shine in my life!

Michelle Elizabeth DeHaan (Soon to be Warntjes): My friend, this is a woman who knows what it is like to walk through the valleys and allow God to bring her though it and be healed. It was through that journey we met and walked alongside of each other each week in counseling. She is a strong woman, who is passionate about justice, who is passionate about loving and being a great friend. It is because of her I did not have to feel alone many times at Trinity. Because God brought her and Jordan into Greg and I's life, we did not have to go through college being the only couple who started dating in High School. Because of her I have some amazing memories. Thank you for allowing me to listen to you and for always returning the favor! You are a blessing and I can't wait to dance the night away at your wedding!

Nora Elizabeth Penman: My niece, you are so beautiful! When I think about you I can't help but cry because you bring so much joy to my life and even though I don't get to see you all the time, I gaze at pictures of you and pray God's sweet blessing on your life. It is amazing to see characteristics of my sister in you. You are a constant reminder that God is a God of miracles and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I can't wait to be your creative long-distant auntie! Thank you Michelle and Jake for bringing her into our family!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review of Charity: Water / Published in The Courier

Pure in motives and excellent at proving it are two points worth highlighting in an age where trust amongst charities is hard to earn. “Charity: Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects,” (“”).

Charity: Water demonstrates excellence by their method of proving what they do. Once you have donated towards a specific project and it is underway, you can locate and see it through Google gps maps.

Photographs dominate the Charity: Water website and provide those who donate more than a “word” that it got there. The photographs are not sad and full of despair, rather show those being helped as strong hopeful individuals. Many of the photos show that they are not hurting those they are trying to help by enabling them, but teaching the native people, to build their own wells and educating them along the way to make it sustainable.

Not only do they raise money to build the wells, they provide in-depth information on why they prioritize water over other needs and then giving information about the world water crisis. The way they use diagrams and reformed prose allows for the common man to understand the crisis and the cause.

Their pure motives are demonstrated through photos on their web page but also the daily tweets of photos, and the fact that 100% of their donations are going directly to water projects.

From reading books such as “When Helping Hurts”by Brian Fikkert and “The End of Poverty” by Jeffery Sachs, I have learned that working towards to root cause of problems, rather than just the symptoms, is key in providing lifelong sustainability and actually curing the problem. Charity: Water works at a main root cause of poverty in third world countries, lack of water. More organizations need to exist like this.

There needs to be people who will tend to the needs of the symptoms of poverty, but if an even larger group is not working preventatively than what good is it if we never cure the problem.

Charity: Water is an organization that provides people with an opportunity to give money without a doubt in mind of how it is being used. The people the wells and education are benefitting are actually being given a chance at rehabilitating their communities. Their creativity in branding and building a trust amongst donors, young and old, is worth highlighting. For more information on how you can donate or become educated on the world water crisis visit

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Ceramic Art Cafe

Within the town of Lagrange, IL is a hidden treasure, The Ceramic Art Cafe. It is owned by the sweetest retired couple who definitely have the gift of hospitality. On this fine Friday evening, the couple was so sweet to welcome all 15 of us in and provide us with a calm relaxing atmosphere that was just what we all needed after a long week of school! We each picked out items and painted till our hearts were content. The items painted ranged from plates and mugs to fairies and cupcakes. We left them there to be fired in the kiln and in a week or so we will get to see the finish product. I can't wait, I think they are going to be B-E-A-utiful! After painting, we went to Starbucks for a treat and headed back to campus in our over-stuffed van.

I feel so blessed to have such a good turn out for this event! I praise God for each one of these girls and that the Lord placed me as their RA.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reasons for Change

As you can see, I changed the look of my blog.

I decided to this out of conflict that I felt towards the previous one. You see, if you ask any blogger, the layout and background you choose for you blog takes thought and needs to reflect you as a person and what you are blogging about.

The passionate person that I am, I tend to spend sometimes hours thinking and searching for the perfect look of something. I chose the previous minimalist design because at the time, it spoke of who I wanted to be this year. I wanted to be more professional and focused.

But these past two weeks I have been reflecting a lot on my past four years of life and what is to come after the current year. Some of these reflections have been painful to realize, like the fact there there were things that I aspired to do, but because life happened I couldn't take part in them because I had to deal the reality of my life (which for those who really know me that means heartbreak and pain much of the time).

Not being stuck in the pain is key to my development as a person in these college years; I have worked hard to work through tough issues and grow as a person in all areas. I give God all the glory for the way he as healed me and given me a vision and passion for life!

Being artistic is a way that I have been able to express myself and relieve stress. The form of art changes from semester to semester, but none the less, I am a creative person who needs to be inspired and challenged. Thus brings me to why I changed my blog. To me the design is not just a template, but it is an essential creative space for me to not only share my life with those that love me, but to be inspired and encouraged.

The design may change a few more times throughout the year because the way I am feeling is going to change. Bare with me followers, and feel free to chime in when you like or dislike something (ex: its hard to read etc...)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Senior Portraits

 This was what I would consider my first official photo shoot. I have decided to start listening to what other people are telling me. I am taking a leap of faith and going to start seeing what it is like to have photography as a career. Here are some of my favorites of this beauty who shall remain nameless...

I would just like give a shout out to my momma! She has been a big encouragement to me. When I was little, she would teach me things, like how to not put my finger over the lens or cut peoples heads off.

Monday, October 18, 2010

80 years and counting

Twenty-Two of us headed up to Geneva, Wisconsin to celebrate the life of Grandma Biegel this past weekend. It was there that we created beautiful memories; Gram said that it was one of her best birthdays! For a gift, each one of us wrote her a letter of appreciation and giving her praise for her impact. These were each put into a scrapbook for her to treasure, Greg has some creative cousins, that is for sure!

While we were there we took a walk through the town of Geneva. It is filled with fun shops and restaurants. One of Greg and I's favorite stores was I Love Funkys. It was filled with beautiful antiques and like the name implies many of which were quite unique.

Some of us girls decided to spend the night giving our faces a treat with the mud mask Aunt Janice had purchased in town. We played banana grams while laughing and chatting while our faces slowly stiffened. After words, we were all concerned because our faces were bright red, but fortunately, we woke up the next morning and  felt like our faces were radiant and clean.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Year Ago I Heard Her First Cry

McKenzie Marie

I can't believe she is already 1!!! She is walking and running around like a little monkey and has a big personality. I can only image what life is going to be like when she starts talking! Her beauty on the the inside and out reminds me of her mother, my dear friend Christa.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

God Gave Me a Gift Yesterday

In the midst of my senior year I am responsible for many things that include a section in the school newspaper, my floor of 27 girls and 4 big final projects, amongst all the other responsibilities of living. The past two weeks I have found myself feeling incredibly overwhelmed by this. School is a foreign thing for me to feel stressed about. And to be honest, I have become a frazzled person.

 Please do not assume that I am over committed or that I need to just take time to breathe each day, because I'm not and I do. Those are not the solution to this nor my point in writing this. I am writing about this because I want to publicly state how grateful I am for God blessings even in the midst of chaos.

Yesterday, I had an unexpected chance to see my sister, my niece, and my mother. It was just what I needed. There is no way that I could even begin to feel frustrated or tense while holding Nora, she is so beautiful and her coos while she drifts off to sleep are precious enough to melt anyones heart. God gave me an extra special gift right when I needed it.

When I see her I see the glory of God, I see His image, I see His miracle. Thank You Lord!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wouldn't It Be Nice

Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long
And wouldn't it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong

You know its gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together 

Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new
And after having spent the day together
Hold each other close the whole night through

The happy times together we've been spending
I wish that every kiss was never ending
Oh Wouldn't it be nice

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do
We could be married
And then we'd be happy

Wouldn't it be nice

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it
But lets talk about it
Oh, wouldn't it be nice
--The Beach Boys

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Windy Day in Chicago

Today, a large group of us communication scholars spent the day touring Chicago and the artwork that our beloved city has become iconic for. We looked at the rhetoric and essence of things such as Picasso's baboon looking sculpture or the famous Bean. I was mainly focused on the advertisements we are bombarded with daily and all the beautiful photogenic people around me. Here are some of my favorite snapshots from the day, enjoy!