Driving Lessons with Pap


I can still remember my grandpa taking me out for my first drive the day after I got my learners permit. He was the only one brave enough to take me on a drive. And even then, I still had to bribe him with a hug around his neck and a kiss on the cheek. Apparently my family had no faith in me. Thanks, fam.

I am pretty sure I sprinted towards the car. I could hardly wait to get on the road. My grandpa climbed in and gave me a pep talk. Excitement and nerves made me clinch the wheel a little tighter. Before I knew it we were on the road. I think I was driving 15 under the speed limit. I remember my pap repeating “give it some gas, give it some gas.”

Slowly we made our way through town. As I started to pull into a parking lot to turn around, pap said, “Oh no, Shae. We aren’t done. Head for the interstate.” I think fear swept over my face. “Pap are you sure? I don’t think my mom…”He laughed, “Good thing she doesn’t get a say and I’m the boss of her.”

I crept towards the interstate. “Shae you’re going to have to give it more gas, girl.” I clinched the wheel tighter. “Pap, I AM!” He laughed again, “No Shae, more gas.” At this point I was yelling. “Pap, I can’t do it!” And then I stopped the car on at the end of the on ramp as if there were a yield sign.

“Ok, Shae. You’re going to go after this car. Floor it.” And I did. I am pretty sure I was shaking and he was laughing and repeated over and over again that I was fine. Once I calmed down (a little) he told me, “Ok, now we are going to change lanes.”

I got even more nervous. “Pap, why can’t I just stay here? I’m doing just fine and this is enough for one day.”

He replied, “Because I need to teach you something. Ok?”

I sighed an exhausted, “Okayyyy, pap.”

“Before you change lanes there is one thing you have to always do. You can use your side mirror, but there’s something else you have to do. You know what that is?”

“Ummm, not sure Pap and I can’t think right now,” I replied as I grabbed the wheel tighter.

“I want you to always look over your shoulder before changing lanes. Know what’s there and where you’re going before you change lanes. There are blind spots and it’s worth the extra second to look over your shoulder. If anything is there, be kind and just let them pass. There’s never a real hurry. Don’t be in too much of a rush that you don’t look back.”

Fast forward ten years and I’m driving myself back to Michigan. It’s just me now on the interstate and as I start to change lanes, my pap’s words ring in my ears. “Look over your shoulder.” I had just been reflecting on my 2016 and it hit me that sometimes, we are going so fast onto the next thing, we forget to look back.

Before I exit 2016, I am treating the on ramp to 2017 like 15-year-old Shae did. I’m stopping like there’s a yield sign and reflecting on my year by more than just glancing in the mirror. I am taking a good look over my shoulder to make sure I know what’s there and where I’m headed in 2017.

It’s so easy to be in a rush, especially this time of year. But, I think my pap said it best: “There’s never a real hurry.”

Wishing you all a month full of true reflection, happiness, and love.


The Harvest

As the color of the leaves have started to grow brighter and the cool, autumn air has settled in on the Midwest, I have been reflecting on harvest season.

Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the fields.  On smaller farms with minimal mechanization, harvesting is the most labor-intensive activity of the growing season.

Isn’t that relative to this time of year in general? For some reason, fall seems to put life into fast forward and this season is one of the most labor-intensive of the year as we start to rip and run. Every fall I can ever remember has been like this for me. Yet this year, in a time when the world is telling me I need to “harvest”, I hear my God calling me to ‘be still’.

My gut reaction was, “But God.. I need to go do. I need to harvest…”. But He kept repeating it over and over. And so this last month, I’ve done my best version of just that – slowing down.

If you know me, you have a good idea of how crazy my schedule is. I work a fulltime job and a side hustle. When I’m not doing those two things, I’m either eating, sleeping, traveling to see my family, or working out. That’s it.

In the last month, I’ve taken time to reflect, got my butt back into church, switched up my routine, and have seriously made strides to rest. It wasn’t until I planted my feet and just stopped moving that I realized just how distracted I truly have been.

As I started to question why I do all the things I do, I forced to face what I put before God. And then it hit me, what do I have worth harvesting this fall that has actually been watered and sown by Christ? What did I plant with Him?

Just like a farmer’s crop, not all produce will be worth harvesting. The rotten will be left behind and the ripe will be reaped for fulfillment.

I challenge you to think about our own crop this season. Should you harvest at all? Should you reset and prepare for replanting? What’s been watered by Christ? Are there things you should leave behind in the field?

Whatever the answer, know that the change of the season is God’s reminder we can always begin again.

Happy Harvest season, y’all. Our God is so good.

Matthew 13:23English Standard Version: As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Why I Decided to Leave West Virginia


Goodness this post is hard to write. It drums up the same feelings similar to that of explaining to an ex why you had to let them go. One of my favorite quotes that I stumbled on a few years back read: “There is nothing more heartbreaking than when two people can’t make it work because life gets in the way.” That same quote adequately defines my relationship with West Virginia.

Let me preface by saying that this post is in no way meant to offend anyone in my home state. This is based solely on my own experience of growing up and eventually leaving West Virginia.

Let’s set the stage. Picture a small town in northern West Virginia called Barrackville. There are no stoplights and it’s home to one dairy mart, a K-8 school, and a baseball field. There isn’t much more than the great people that live there, and they color that town with southern hospitality and good spirits. I could not have asked for a better town to have grown up in.

I remember being a small girl and racing home after school to go play. And by play I mean I would go lay in the field behind my house and let my imagination run rapid. I took with me to that field the same thing nearly every time: pen, paper, and my parent’s constant reminder of “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up… The only person that will ever hold you back from that is yourself.

I’d always walk to the same shaded spot near the woods and lay down. I would close my eyes and pretend to be in a big city, absorbed by chaos and lost in a sea of people. I’d then spend another chunk of time after that writing about what I just imagined, trying to translate my daydreams into some sort of ambition.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (and I still don’t I guess). All I knew was that I wanted to go see everything and reach my absolute potential. This field is where I first realized my young adult future wasn’t going to be spent in West Virginia.

It wasn’t long after, until I learned the idea of leaving the state wasn’t just unique to me. Even at that age, I feared people would look at my eagerness to leave as betrayal and so when I heard my friends say they wanted to leave West Virginia too, I was nothing short of relieved to know I wasn’t alone in the feeling. But as we got older, things changed.

I started to notice the shift in college. Most of us stayed in state to further our education, because nearly all of us were afforded the opportunity of the Promise Scholarship (a student scholarship that funds our undergraduate careers if we earned our Bachelor’s in state). This scholarship kept me and so many of my peers in West Virginia longer. Please know just how thankful I am for this scholarship and for my four amazing years at West Virginia University. I was given so much by my home state and that University and I am forever indebted to them both.

But as we progressed towards graduation and future plans were beginning to be shared, I began to note that so many of my friends’ will to leave the state had dissolved for various reasons. The idea of leaving began to become a thing of the past. Hell, it even almost became one for me. And just as I started to accept the idea of staying in state post graduation, 12-year-old Shae tugged at my heart and reminded me that my once daydreams could become a reality. So I kept letting my dreams fuel the fire for an adventure outside of the state lines of West Virginia (yes we are our own state – google it).

I started to share that I still planned on leaving come May 2013. I told the girls I worked with, my friends from middle school, and anyone who would listen really.And then I took the leap.

I left West Virginia because I never wanted to wonder what if. I left because although it was safe, I wasn’t growing there any more. I left because my dreams were bigger than my small town. I left because I felt God calling me elsewhere. I left because I wanted to find my limits and challenge myself. I left because I wanted to open my mind to new cultures and ways of life. I left because I wanted to fall in love with myself and new people. I left for other career opportunities.I left because of what my parents said long ago: The only person who will ever hold my back is myself. I couldn’t stand in my own way any longer.

However, having been gone three years, I have fought an undeniable feeling of guilt. Leaving feels wrong. How could I leave a place I love so damn much? Was I betraying the place I love so much?

No. In all reality, it’s quite the opposite.

West Virginia gave me an irreplaceable youth rich in humidity, laughter, faith, adventure, mountains, family, barefeet, good food, and sweet tea. That same youth is what makes me who I am today. In fact, I carry West Virginia with me everywhere (and I mean that other than being a overly prideful mountain mama).

Roots: the part of a plant that attaches to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibers.

West Virginia is my roots. My experiences growing up there keep me grounded. It is my support. My West Virginia friends and family are my water, my nourishment. They supply me with the energy, confidence, and courage to extend my branches further than I thought was possible (oh I don’t know to places such as Haiti for example).

West Virginia is a part of everything I do. It is who I am and who I will always be. And no matter where my branches extend, I’ll always be rooted in West Virginia soil.

Forever a Mountain Mama,



To my Fellow Mountaineer Grads


Dear Fellow Mountaineer Grads (and all recent grads for that matter),

I am writing to you today to share with you the five words I wish someone would have told me. As an alumnae of three years, no one has uttered them to me. I’ve needed to hear them countless times. I needed someone to look me in the eyes and just tell me it. But in true finding my own way fashion, I had to figure it out. And so this post is my way of “looking you in the eyes” and giving you the honest to God’s truth in hopes of giving you comfort.

What I am about to type is the truth. Write it down somewhere. Say it out loud. Hold it close to your heart. Repeat it on your bad days. Don’t let go of these five words:


No seriously – did you hear me? It’s okay not to know. Not to know what you want to be, where you want to live, who you want to be with, when you want to be there, how you have to get there. It’s ok not to know any of that. And truthfully, you may never feel like you know all of that and that’s ok too.

Let me break it down. When I left WVU and hung up my  grad cap, I was heartbroken. I wasn’t ready to go. I loved Morgantown with every fiber of my being. It was home and I was comfortable. But after four years, it was time for me to figure out my next move. So I left with lofty dreams and little direction. I had burnt myself out as an undergrad student (I worked as an RA, TA, social media intern for WVU,  PR intern for Make-A-Wish WV, held a freelance job with Make-A-Wish, J-School student ambassador, ran a student organization,  and took 18 credit hours my senior  year) and wasn’t quite ready to jump into a graduate degree. Hell, let’s be real – I didn’t have the energy. So, I headed to Michigan (for a relationship..that’s another story), landed a temporary role with Make-A-Wish Michigan and ended up in my current role with the University of Michigan, where I’ve been for three years.

Now, let’s chat about these past three years. *Deep breath*

It has been the furthest thing from easy. I have cried a lot. I’ve missed WVU (especially on football Saturdays), I’ve missed Morgantown, and I’ve felt left out and directionless more days than not. I watched my friends go after master’s degrees, law degrees, exciting job opportunities, and basically start next chapters. Everyone seemed to be changing and growing and I felt stuck. There have been numerous breakdowns and homesick calls to my mom. There’s even been multiple job applications sent out in frantic concern that I wasn’t growing anymore.

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2016 when I have fully started to accept: IT’S OK NOT TO KNOW.

As I have recently (sort of) stumbled upon figuring out the direction I want to go, I’ve realized every single day of the past three years has gotten me closer to finding my passion. Think about it: my one decision of deciding not to go to grad school led me to Michigan where I found RainCatchers and ended up in Haiti. Woah! Even those tough days in between, when I wanted to quit, move home, and give up have helped me build my tomorrow.

When I started my job at Michigan, I took on a very minimal role. I solely wrote speeches and programs for ceremonies. And now? I’ve taken on social media and a development blog on top of my original responsibilities and have evolved my position to better fit my career aspirations. My tip? If you’re not in your dream job, hold tight. Get in there, work hard, and network. See if you can build your role out to better fit what you want to be doing. Try other work. Use today and your “right now” to build where you want to be.

Second, because of my decision to come to Michigan I found Haiti and my passion for global health. If I would have went straight to grad school, I would have aligned my degree choice with my undergraduate career. When I left college, I felt like I knew just about every job I could get out there and do. However, my three years in the workforce has exposed me to so many new passions and opportunities. Because of that, I now have a MUCH better idea what my next step is.

Third, the last three years has taught me that home is where you make it. After college, you may never feel “completely” at home again and that’s ok. But look around. Home is where you invest yourself. If you’re in a new town, submerge yourself in your community. You’re not alone and there are people there that love you/will love you. Build relationships and accept where you are.

Finally, know that FOMO is real. Look, I’m as bad as anyone making my life seem perfect on social media. But do yourself a favor and try to remind yourself we all don’t have it figured out. It may look like it, but I promise even your favorite instagrammer has their bad days and second guesses.

I will leave you with this: Your future isn’t built overnight. Opportunities are harder to come by than in college and take hard work. But the good news is you’re a Mountaineer. You’re equipped for the climb.

Forever Yours,

Shae Snyder

WVU ’13

Rain is a Good Thing


Today, I was supposed to be back in Seguin, Haiti. Truthfully, I have tried to ignore it. I buried myself in my work and looked away from things that might remind me of our cancelled mission trip.

Take this day and pile it on top of some other nasty ones and you’ve got a summary of my year so far. I never expect things to be perfect, but to be honest, 2016 has been kicking my ass. It’s been quite the rainstorm.

And so today, I selfishly tried to shut myself off to Haiti. I woke up and thought, ‘Sorry God, I am sulking today’. I mean, I even walked the opposite way out of my office building so that I wouldn’t run into our Haitian cleaning lady. I was afraid that I might cry when she tried to say hello.

So I went out our backdoor of the office. I walked out anxious to get home and a warm, humid breeze hit me so hard it took my breath. I  looked up to a very cloudy sky. Rain. Of course my first thought was Haiti. I shut my mind off again, turned on my radio, and headed home.

Now here’s the kicker. My apartment complex is in the middle of paving our lot. So, I have to park far away and walk to my place. Not a bad thing – unless it’s pouring the rain. Sigh. And so of course, the second I pull into the drive, it starts down pouring.

I had several bags to carry and was in a dress and sandals. I stared at the downpour from inside my car knowing what was happening. My mind flashed back to my trip to Haiti and the downpour we experience up the mountainside. I looked out my window and said, “Ok God, I get it! We are thinking of Haiti today whether I like it or not.” I hopped out of my car and didn’t attempt to run. There was no outrunning it. I would get soaked regardless. So, instead, I just handled it. I walked towards my door with my bags as the warm water drenched my hair and clothes. I stopped, looked up, and thanked God for the rain – something we complain about while others are praying for it!

When I finally got inside, I put my things away and within the hour the weather had cleared up. The sun was peeping through and the earth was drying out. Just like the rain, I know there is no outrunning God and His plan for me. Sometimes you just have to accept and handle what He gives you – the good and even the disappointments.

He doesn’t call us to live easy lives. Instead, He calls us through the lows to draw us closer to him and strengthen our Faith. And, well, sometimes it takes a rainstorm to do that.

What’s God calling you to handle?


My Love Story


In true February fashion, I want to tell you a love story. What you’re about to read is true and gushes from my heart with incredible ease.

As a 20-something I have been looking for true love in a million places. Naturally, I’ve searched for it in others, digging deep into compliments and rooting my worth in approval of friends, family and significant others. I’ve searched for love in career opportunities, in past times and in my hobbies. I’ve searched for love in someone’s physical touch and relationships and to be honest, I thought I had a solid idea of what it was. But then I went to Haiti.

I remember the exact moment when I felt the undeniable feeling of true love. It was a hot afternoon and the humidity was climbing in Seguin, Haiti. I had just finished trying to make myself eat something inside the clinic at lunch. I lacked appetite and because I have no modesty it was because I was constipated and uncomfortable. My motivation was waning, but I strapped on my backpack and took my bloated self back outside of the clinic. Within seconds I was swarmed with little Haitians asking me a million questions, grabbing at my hands, pulling at my bracelets, tugging at my clothes, and asking to take un photo. I pushed myself through the mini mob and made my way to the courtyard. They followed. I double checked that I had both full water bottles still tucked into the side pockets of my bags. I was relieved they were still there. One for me and one for Joresse. I scanned the courtyard looking for his face. I didn’t see him and knew he had probably ran home after school to change. I waited patiently. And by patiently I mean, I was distracted by the little arms reaching for me to hold them. I chose to pick-up Shelly, Joresse’s sister. She giggled as I spun her around in her dirty dress. Once we stopped spinning, she rested her head on my chest. I hugged her tight and I felt a little hand tap my side waist. I turned around to see Joresse grinning. I hugged him and asked him how school was. He had no idea what I was saying. After a few moments of standing in the hot sun and getting supplies together, Joresse and I set out with our team on our afternoon hike.

For some reason, I was always in the back of the hike. I guess maybe it was me constantly stopping to admire the beauty that is Haiti, but Joresse was a little slow. He was hiking in shoes three sizes too big and my backpack he was carrying was twice his size. That afternoon was no different than our previous hikes. We trailed behind the group a bit and his sweaty hand grasped mine as we walked up the rocky Haitian mountain sides. I had nothing I could really say to Joresse. I couldn’t hold a conversation. I knew certain words in French Creole, but not sentences. As we were hiking the road that day, I started to point to animals and Joresse would tell me what it was in French Creole. I’d point to a cow and he’d say, “un bèf”. I’d try and repeat it which would send him into laughing fits. And then he’d say “Mhmmmm” and I’d say “Mhmmmmm” and we’d go back and forth mimicking each other. It continued that way for a while until we got silent.

We walked in silence for quite some time, until he looked up at me and said, “I love you, Shae” and squeezed my hand a little tighter. I looked at him for a second and felt a lump growing in my chest. “I love you, Joresse”, I replied eyes misty and hugged him. I could feel his strong heart racing as he hugged my waist and we took a quick water break. He grunted as he drank. I sipped mine and handed him my bottle to put it back in my bag. He handed it back to me for me to drink more. I obliged and then he quickly tucked our waters away and we jogged a little to catch up to our group. His sweaty hand was still gripping tightly with mine as we met up with our group.

Maybe it was the heat, but I still had chills as we started to build a raincatcher on the side of a Haitian home. I was quiet, my mind still processing what had just happened.

I remember working and thinking how my entire life I have been searching for this magical love. I thought it would be dressed in that of a handsome man. One who would sweep me off my feet in my beautiful white dress. But instead, Christ swept me off my feet flawed and filthy dirty in a third-world country through a 9-year-old Haitian child. Who would have ever thought? But ironically, isn’t that such a testament to how he takes us in as new Christians? Flawed, dirty, and vulnerable. And then He shows us a love so undeniable, so great, so pure, so true that washes over us and makes us clean. Wow! Chills continued to climb my spine as I felt Him close. I knew in that moment, I was right where I was supposed to be. I knew I saw God in Joresse and I felt like I was able to comprehend a small fraction of Christ’s love for me.

All of this was racing through my mind until my thoughts were interrupted by a teammate asking for my help. I looked up and saw Joresse watching me. I suck at winking, but gave it my best attempt. He laughed and winked back. We both grinned and then I went back to building raincatchers.

That’s the day I found true love, God’s love.

My Passion

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Photos by: Lululemon Ann Arbor and Zparkle Productions

My passion is helping others live a healthy and happy life. Whether that’s in my day-to-day work at Michigan, fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, teaching at the Barre Code, or serving thousands of miles away on my mission trips to Haiti, I want every person to have a healthy life. That’s my goal in every single aspect of my own life. I was blessed with my health and I want to do my part to give a chance of health to everyone I can.

You can check out more of my photoshoot with Lululemon Ann Arbor here: https://www.facebook.com/lululemonAnnArbor/