May 2006 Update Letter

Hello Friends and Family,

I’m in Michigan until June 16!!!

My last week of classes ended smoothly and final exams went well. I was able to graduate Summa Cum Laude (yea I’m bragging 🙂 I’m very excited :))!

My mom and dad came down to Lynchburg to come get me. We had quite the adventure. On Saturday after graduation, my dad and I went to pick up the u-haul, only the original location of the uhaul had changed two months before (unbeknownst to me!). My dad and I ended up going to downtown Lynchburg to pick up the trailer. We had fun. 🙂 Loaded the trailer, had lunch at my friend Angela’s house (we ate those life-altering-ribs I mentioned in a previous email) and hit the road :).

My brother wouldn’t let me share his graduation party (and call it my college graduation party!), but I still had fun visiting with everyone that came to his party :).

I have a few more open houses to go to and two weddings before I move to Florida.

At this point I’m planning on starting distance learning classes at LU this fall. I’ll try one class for the fall semester and see how I feel about it, before I make the decision to take any more classes.

My mom had surgery, it went well, I’m her care giver this week 🙂 Chief cook and bottle washer, as well as maid, but that’s part of being a family member. 🙂

The rest of my time will include: spending time with the siblings, catching up on life, shopping, driving and any other fun activities.

It looks like we will be moving while I’m at home!! Learning how to live on a lake will be a fun new adventure. Hopefully, I’ll get some time on the wave runners before I move :).

Surprise: I’ve been doing a lot of reading these past two weeks. As well as watching movies. I finally read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I LOVED IT!!! I’m ready to start the next one. I’m currently working my way through an autobiography on a Korean Christian who faced persecution by Japanese, The Man in the Iron Mask by Dumas, and the book of Luke in the Bible. I’ve read the two latest by Lori Wick (I was really behind) and Dee Henderson’s latest. I also read an odd biography called Harriet Beecher Stowe Had a Husband, it was stories about 5 Christian couples.

I finally saw the movie Braveheart, except for a few scenes, and the fact that I fast-forwarded through the grotesque violence, I LOVED IT! Bravery, courage, freedom, passion, fighting for a cause, a small romance, a non-happily-ever-after story, WOW!

I’ve also been catching up on TV shows, I haven’t missed much, but I am enjoying the new commercials 🙂

If you are in GR as well, I’d love to get together with you for coffee, dessert, lunch, shopping, brunch, basically any excuse to talk, catch up and visit. Send me an email or give me a call 🙂

April 2006 Update Letter

Well Family and Friends…
This is my last email AS a college senior… my May update will be as a college graduate! Whoop-whoop!
I can hardly believe how time has flown… Guess that’s what happens when you skip a year. Silly me…
This past month has been full and exciting!

I volunteered at a Soup Kitchen in downtown Lynchburg, and it was a neat experience(!), both the people who worked there and those who came to eat were fascinating. I met a girl from Germany named Jessica, she was here with a group of students to study religion and Christianity in America. If you remember her in your prayers I’d appreciate it, she is unsaved and has a lot of head knowledge now about Christianity but seemed to have no desire to know Christ.

April 22 was the Junior/Senior Banquet here at LU. It’s our alternative to a formal dance. It was fun, they did a mock “tonight show” and I looked really pretty because my roomie did my hair, nails and make-up.

On the 13th I went to a Seder which is the Passover feast Jews celebrate. It was beautiful/humbling/inspiring to worship Christ in a different way by partaking in that ceremony.

I celebrated Easter weekend with my friend Angela and her family, I had some life-altering-ribs.

Babysitting: I started babysitting for another family, two boys, they are absolutely adorable. I could kidnap them, except for the fact that I have no way of supporting them, and I couldn’t take them from a healthy home life!

Thesis- IT IS FINISHED!!! 38 pages, Impact of Premarital Preparation Programs. I’m so excited. It’s my “graduating with honors” requirement, so now I get to wear a big medal at graduation.

Classes- I gave two 45 min presentations about Deindividuation (mob mentality, trading individual identity for a social identity). Basically I’m done until exam week, I have an exam each day at sporadic times so that’ll be fun!

I’m looking forward to coming home!!! Seeing family and friends, playing on the lake… by golly if it’s not warm I’m wearing a wet suit!

I’m so excited about this next phase of my life. A little nostalgia has set in about no longer being a kid, but I’ll get over it when reality hits.

I’ve been reading through proverbs and Matthew in my quiet times. I love watching Jesus interact with people and the way he ministered to each person individually. Something that struck me in Mathew last night was the way the crowds wanted physical healing but weren’t in search of a savior for their souls.

I can’t think of anything else to share at this moment… see some of you soon!

March 2006 Update Letter


So much has happened since the last time I wrote. I had my busiest weeks of semester ( I hope) I had spring break and I had a job interview… keep reading for more details.

I wrote a really fun paper for my group dynamics class it was a “biblical femininity group for high school girls” I hope I eventually get to lead this group because it was so much fun to write! I talked about lady-like behavior, what it means to be a woman who honors God, fashion, purity, modesty and so much more! I even planned for guest speakers, a panel of mature mothers, fashion shows, a pampering night and many other exciting things all spread out over a 16 week semester format.

For spring break I went with my roommate to Atlanta, GA where she is from… I was well churched that week. We went to her family’s church on Sunday, Burnt Hickory Baptist Church. The college class was amazing (almost made me want to move there just for that ;)) then her pastor was also a great teacher of the word. That night we went back to church for a revival teacher, he spoke Sunday Night and Monday. Then… on Tuesday we went to 7/22 the college ministry of North Pointe Community Church. It was so interesting, we walked in and the chairs were backwards, they started this series called Retro and what happens when you live life living in the past instead of repenting of your mistakes and moving on. We eventually got to turn our chairs around, but it was a neat point to drive home. On Wednesday night we went back to Jen’s church and went to the college Bible study there, the singles pastor talked about being prepared for battle. The other times of the week were great as well. I caught up on a lot of sleep, we explored Atlanta a little bit, we all went to her dad’s base, he works for the navy so he showed us his office and we got to see a little bit of what he does. Of course we didn’t see anything top secret, because if we did… well you know. On Saturday we drove to Commerce, GA and met up with our friend Amanda, to go spend the night at her house, (she was our ride to Jen’s house, and our ride back to school, but she’s our friend first) We spent the night at Amanda’s house in S.C. then went to church with her on Sunday. I forgot to mention that I tried boiled peanuts for the first time…. Apparently they are an acquired taste (I’ll just have to believe them).

The Friday I got back from spring break I went down to Jacksonville, FL for a job interview with Hosanna House, it is a residential home for girls. They offered me the position and I accepted it. (They and I, and several of you have been praying about and for this for several months, and for that I thank you) I will be moving down there the weekend of June 17 (right after Mr. Luke VanWingerden marries Miss Laura Nickels… wow that makes me feel old 😉 *wink*)

I will be a house mother (yes, a mother 😉 weird), and I know God will teach me a lot through all of it for 13-17 year old girls. There are currently 13 girls living there. The house has room for 16, but will house up to 24. The girls are involuntarily placed in this home by their parents. They are unable to live with their parents for various reasons (mental health, poor behavioral choices, aggression, etc.). I will definitely have lots of prayer requests for you all throughout this next season of my life, as I learn a new job, acclimate myself to a new culture and minister to a group of girls I have very little experience with.

Graduation is May 13th and time seems to be flying… I don’t know if I want it to come, I do, because I’m excited about this next season, but I’m not quite ready for this current season of my life to end.

Well, this seems like a short email (but I wanted to get it out before everyone starts hearing my news through the grapevine *wink*)

So please feel free to email me with more questions! (I love getting mail, of any kind)

November 2005 Update Letter

Hello! Greetings from Virginia.

I came home for the week of Thanksgiving and was able to attend church at Maranatha so I was able to see many of you. Thank you for the hugs and the welcome smiles, I definitely realized how much I miss all of you. 

Classes are still going well. Since my last email I wrote 4 20 page papers (that was fun 😉 I currently have one 5-10 page paper left to write due next Tuesday, I have an exam on Friday, an exam next Wednesday, I’m looking at 2 or 3 final exams from a total of 5 classes.

I will be coming home the 16th of December, so I can go to Ange and Brian’s wedding and then I’ll go back to school the 17th of January (or so).

School starts the 18th of January. I’m plan to work for a few weeks at Meijer and go skiing with my family. Other than that, give me a call, maybe we can get together.

I’m currently scheduled to take 16 credits for the spring. Two hard classes, one moderately hard class, and three easy classes. It’s starting to get to the point where I need to really be making decisions about next year.

I’m praying for clarity of thought and discernment. I would like to come back to Liberty for my masters, but my dilemma is housing, if I choose housing off campus, my dilemma becomes finding a means of transportation to and from school. So I’m really praying about whether starting my masters immediately is a good plan or not. So I would enjoy it if you would pray along with me.

I’m reading through the Psalms these days, It’s so cool to see David’s love relationship with God, I love his honesty and openness, sometimes I feel like I’m reading his diary.

I’m sorry this one is really short, my brain feels really blank.
See you soon!

January 2005 Update Letter

Hello Friends and Family!

Well, to begin my second semester as a sophomore…. I traveled to Virginia in a Dodge Dakota with two other Michiganders. Very much fun… until we hit the border of Virginia and… we hit some ice and rolled into a ditch… We rolled all the way over and then landed on the driver’s door. It was the single most terrifying event of my life. I was in the back-seat without my seatbelt on (one of the only times I have ever been without it in a vehicle… I am a major supporter of the seat belt wearing movement) and so I rolled with the truck. I managed to bang up my head pretty well, twist my ankle and scratch up my shoulder. Several vehicles stopped to help us and call an ambulance (Praise the Lord for kind strangers). I had my first ride to the emergency room in an ambulance ever… definitely a frightening few moments where I was fearful that I had seriously injured my neck. I survived the x-ray process came out w/ no broken bones (but I did have to wear an air cast for two weeks on my ankle)!!! However, the cut I got in my head needed stapled shut. The very nice doctor put 5 staples in my head (not fun at all). (Unfortunately the doctor had already placed 8, before deciding 5 would suffice, so all 8 came back out before he re-placed 5.)
Truck Accident
My friend came to rescue us from the hospital 2 hours away from school at 10pm; he then took us to the junk-yard where her truck with all of our stuff had been taken… Seeing that truck in the light was a sickening feeling… I was so thankful to be alive… The emotions didn’t hit until I was back at campus at 1am then I sobbed my eyes out. My wonderful R.A. and NEW ROOMIE (more about her later) made my bed for me and carried all of my stuff into my room (they have been an amazing blessing). I spent the next week in a crisis-induced funk of not really understanding all that was happening… but eventually the emotional impact faded and I began to feel better.
During this time I also began my second semester of school for this year. I’m taking 18 credits this semester AND I have my first 8 am of my college experience. Time management is becoming my middle name (oh, wait… ;)) I have three upper level psychology classes, an old testament class, a human biology class and a world lit class. I’m really excited about the Old Testament and one of the psych classes, the rest will be relatively enjoyable and frustrating. I have more papers and projects this semester than I’ve had yet so…major prayers are appreciated!
I switched rooms the last day before Christmas vacation, a choice that was prayed and cried over for many days. All during break I prayed that I would have the room to myself, but I also prayed that if God didn’t want me to be by myself that he would provide the right roommate for me, either someone who I could be a blessing to or someone who could really bless me. And Jennifer has totally blessed me in so many different ways. She’s from Virginia Beach and she wants to go into counseling as well.
For all of you who were unaware… my birthday was on the 24th! I am now 20… wow… It sounds so cool sometimes, (okay all the time) to say I’m 20 now… For my birthday, my friend decided to surprise me with a party. The day of the surprise party I must have been completely dense because he totally almost gave it away so many times. We went over to his parents house to watch the football game and I had asked if I could just wear really bummy clothing but he said, “no, you want to make a good impression, at least wear jeans and a nice sweater,” of course I got frustrated that he was picking out my wardrobe for a football game, but whatever, I rolled with it, and then when I got in the truck, I smelled frosting, but I rationalized that away as he wanted to make my cake early so he didn’t have to make it the next day (we had picked out the right cake and frosting earlier that day-I’m really picky when it comes to birthday cakes 😉 imagine that.. me being picky!) And then during the game his phone kept ringing, but I just gave him a hard time about it. Then in the 3rd quarter his roommate calls and invites us to go hang out at a friends house, I couldn’t figure out why he was willing to leave the game (his favorite team was playing) to go hang out but again I rolled w/ it… we get to our friend’s house and I’m looking around for the normal vehicles and they aren’t there so I commented on it and he just shrugged it off (I thought we were early) and we walk in and my friends all yell surprise, and I was still confused… it finally clicked that it was a surprise party for me!
I’ve been reading through 1 and 2 Kings for my quiet times these days. It is absolutely amazing, totally touching my heart and teaching me more about my Creator. I’m loving the power God displayed through his prophets. It’s astonishing. My two favorite passages are: when Elijah asked God to hold back the rain for 40 days and then challenged the prophets of baal to a contest to see which God would provide rain. Of course God was the only one who could make it rain, but he did it in a way that displayed his amazing power it awes me every time. And then the other one that impacted me was when Elisha told Naaman to go wash himself in the Jordan River, Naaman complained because it was too easy and disgusting, he wanted an amazing sign from God. It reminded me of how often I ask God to do amazing things through me and ignore the simple little ministry opportunities, that are amazing as well.
Speaking of ministry… I went on a trip last week to a church in Roanoke. I taught a bible study to children two nights in a row. The first night there were three children, the next night eight. The three children who were there the first night memorized their bible verse and came back to say it to me. It’s so amazing to watch children learn scripture! And they all understood what I was saying to them, all that I was teaching them. It was so encouraging.
We are on the beginning days of spiritual emphasis week here on campus… I’m really excited about the speaker they have brought in… so I’m going to go do some homework and eat dinner so I can go listen to him and learn.
I love you all, thank you for your prayers. As always, please ask questions!! I love getting mail of any kind 😉
Nicole Elise