October 30, 2012

Supportive Listening

While having a really wonderful conversation with a really wonderful friend, I realized what a precious gift my husband gives to me every time I share my hair-brained ideas with him. I am the type of person who always has thoughts of the next thing or a great idea floating around in my head. *pop pop pop

The best way I can process my brainstorms is by talking through them, which means I have to trust a person enough to share my very roughly drafted ideas with them before they have even begun to be fleshed out. This is a risky move, as some of you might understand. The recipient of said "brilliant" idea could easily respond with pessimism masked in pragmatism
Well, what about this? Have you thought about that?
No, I most certainly have not! I am just sharing my stream-of-consciousness thoughts with you and I would just like to hear something more encouraging or at least engaged listening. 
Yeah, I can really picture that. You should go with that vision, it has potential. 
And my dear, darling husband is so incredibly supportive and I don't know that I ever recognized it before tonight. I am constantly brainstorming with him and I don't think he's EVER, in 8 years, shot one of my ideas down. He may nod along, ask questions, give encouragement, or just let me talk. 

But you know what, that's exactly what I need. 

October 27, 2012

His 26th Birthday

Dear husband, on his 26th birthday, 

Enjoy these 24 days during which we are the "same age." Soon, I will be a year old and wiser and errr...older. Ick. (It's not as cool to be older than someone like it was when we were kids.) 

Image010Even though we didn't technically "grow up" together, I feel as though we have. We may not have shared all those experiences of Bible songs, Christian school speech competitions, Veggie Tale classics, and hymn sings, but I am so thankful our experiences overlapped. It makes it feel like we've known each other since we were kids. (I think our moms and dads get two thumbs up for raising us in such similar environments.) Yesterday, when we sang Veggie Tales songs on the whole way home from Rochester, my heart was gleefully happy. I love how much fun we have together.

And really, we have grown up together. We've learned how to be adults--responsible, God-fearing, independent, financially stable, loving grown ups. We know how it feels to buy our own toilet paper month after month, to be in charge of our own health and have to say "no" to certain foods (or getting to say "yes" just because we can!). We have moved to Downtown Detroit together and spent our first five months learning marriage there, making memories of bike rides, fireworks from the balcony, and cookouts where we are very literally the minority. We moved to Monroe where we found a new church family and discovered our passion and call for youth ministry. We moved three states east and made a new home together, built my piano business together (I couldn't have done it without you), started a new ministry to new teenagers together, and encouraged each other to be a part of this community (rather than hiding out at home as is our natural tendency.)

October 2005
I love going on walks to Tim Hortons with you, eating dinner in the living room with our favorite new Netflix obsession, reading our Bibles at the dining room table each morning. I love that you come to bed with me even when you're not tired, when you call me out on selfish or sinful behavior (really, I value your accountability), when we share crazy, hopeful dreams in long couch conversations. I love that you're always wanting to learn a new instrument, develop a new hobby, or try a new video game. I know I tease you about it, but I think it's great that you're a lifelong learner. (SAU shout out.)

I have loved watching you grow up from that 17 year old boy-out-of-high-school with his untucked striped shirts and loosely-laced Nike tennis shoes, to a 21 year old college-grad and newly-married-man with newly-broadened shoulders and a chemistry brilliance, to a now 26 year old full-time-pastor-and-seminarian who looks darn good in his suit and teaches teenagers what it means to follow Jesus. What a beautiful gift I've been given.

Happy birthday, Kevin Michael. I will love you forever. 

September 2012

October 25, 2012

Tears of Passion

Have you ever been so invested in something you've been brought to tears during part of the process? 

That's what happened to me during the teen Sunday School class I co-lead. Yes, it was embarrassing, but it managed to be simultaneously empowering. I felt freed up to be myself, to be passionate, to be so deeply invested that it showed up in the ugly cry

Those students were blindsided with the waterworks that transpired during a normally-predictable 45 minute class. I wasn't planning it or intending it, but when my gut began churning and my heart was pounding as my mind contemplated the spiritual complacency in the room, I couldn't hold back the gates to my tears. 

Yes, teenagers, I love you guys. I love hanging out with you and hearing about your life. But my purpose is greater, deeper and far richer than that. My heart's desire is that you would know the boundless grace of Jesus Christ and submit your will unto the One who gives unbelievably good gifts to those are obediently follow his lordship.  That may sound totally overwhelming or just plain unreasonable. But it's true. And I pray my life, my heart-on-my-sleeve kind of life, would show you a glimpse of a life lived in pursuit of Jesus

And that you would want the same.  

October 24, 2012

Have You Shopped {Shabby Apple}

I am so, so excited to get to introduce shabby apple to all of you. This online clothing store managed to take every aspect of my personality and create 20 different clothing line collections. (Ok, they didn't really take me into account when they were designing their wardrobes, but seriously, I feel like it's a picture into my mind's eye.)

Check out these Women's Dresses from Shabby Apple. Are they not perfection? I love the combination of beautiful figure-flattering cuts with timeless elegance of a simple style. They should totally win some kind of a award. I love the twirlyness, the flowyness, the femininity. *drool*

shabby apple1

I am honored that Shabby Apple chose me to be one of their affiliates because I totally love their products and I am impressed with their purpose. They create retro, modest clothing, specializing in dresses--my favorite!--but carrying a long line of skirts, blouses, accessories, bathing suits, maternity wear, and more. Check this out: 

At Shabby Apple, we believe in both femininity and feminism. As feminine women, we create clothing that is artful in design and crafted with a vintage-style flare. Each piece is carefully constructed to both flatter a women’s figure and maintain her mystery. As feminists, we created a company that is women-owned and operated and that donates to help other women start their own businesses. With our old-fashioned style and modern ideals, we believe the best is yet to come!

Don't you want to go shopping now?


October 20, 2012

Youth Ministry - More Than Sunday Nights

Youth ministry is...

...a teen wanting to come early for piano lessons just to have more time together
...text invitations to a volleyball game.
...laughing up a storm about last night's dance party. 
...3 girls sipping tea in my living, sharing hearts
...Saturday morning pancakes, with couches full of kids

a few (of many) from this morning's Brunch Bunch

Youth ministry is more than youth group messages and crazy, stupid games. Youth ministry is connecting to the hearts of students by caring about their lives--their boy-crazy, home-work-stressed, sports-centric, too-quiet-to-talk-in-a-large-group, brimming-with-potential-for-greatness-lives. When students feel comfortable just walking in the front door, when your home is a sort of second residence for them, when they know they are safe with you, when you're the best person to come to about the latest frustration or stress or heartbreak. THAT is youth ministry. 

October 16, 2012

Two Fall Photo Shoots

What have I been doing lately? Spending time with some great families, experimenting with aperture and shutter speed, and eagerly sharing some of the best results on Facebook. A Senior Photo session and a Family Session in the same week! Lots of fun! (I'm going to need a bigger memory card!)

Laurel is one of our 12th graders in youth group and it was so much fun spending the afternoon gallivanting across the blustery fall countryside with her and her mom and sister.


love long deserted country roads. 

Her prized pup, Casey, got in on the action

we couldn't pass up these impressive petunias!


And then there was the T. Family, friends from church. We've been wanting to get together to photograph their 3 beautiful children since last fall, so making last minute photo shoot plans for Sunday was impressive. The kids kept me laughing, and quickly become optimal models for our time together. "Oooh, do one of me over here!" :)




how lovely is that fall lane? 

October 12, 2012

Catching Up with My Longest Friend

This past Monday my best-friend-since birth made a stop in our quaint little village to visit with Kevin and me. She, along with her husband and their adorable almost-four-year-old son, had been traveling the New England countryside for the past few days and had made plans to drive a bit out of their way to stop at our house. I was beyond thrilled

It's not often enough that Elizabeth and Melanie get to be together again. In the good 'ol days of our youth, if we weren't at home we were together. Our parents parented both of us. Our siblings were quite indistinguishable. We spent hours playing Barbies, talking about American Girl dolls and listening to Michael W. Smith. We were Sunday School buddies, VBS leaders, and youth group attenders. We stayed up too late watching Mrs. Doubtfire, I threw up at her house on more than one homesick occasion, and she choked down a green bean that my parents forced upon her. And, in case the message wasn't clear in the introduction, we were literally friends from birth. Our moms were in the same birthing class together way back in 1985. Yep. No kidding. 


The great part about our friendship is that, though it's been nearly 10 years since we were the inseparable pair, we've maintained our connection. Roots. Through her marriage, my leaving for college in Michigan, the birth of her son, my wedding day, her new jobs, my various ministry callings, their first (and second) home, our move to New York. Still friends. Forever


Our visit in our cozy living room was easy and comfortable. Some laughter interspersed with deeper conversation, funny comments from little Owen, and stroll to the Erie Canal. After getting to spend more time together than we had hoped for, we even got to share lunch together at the local family restaurant. 

The goodbyes left me wishing we were next door neighbors. Maybe someday


October 10, 2012

Stopping for Thanks

I love....

when your best friend has your thoughts exactly and stops over for a visit. 

snuggling with my cat on the couch.

watching season 1 of Once Upon a Time on Netflix. I am currently addicted.

making myself pancakes and eggs for lunch when husband is gone for the day. 

sharing frosted pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies with my piano students. 

late evening prayer with a dear friend. 

showing your best-friend-from-birth and her lovely little boy and her husband around our town.

hearing about my husband's dream from the night before. 

having a lap full of babies.

seeing the sun poke through the dark, uniquely autumn sky. 

reading the latest Runner's World magazine

feeling stirring and upheaval by the words in a book written for teens. Do Hard Things. Am I? 

What are you loving on this Fall day? 

October 6, 2012

Yes, I have a Sweet Tooth

One fun aspect I have added to my piano teacher routine is having students fill out a {just for fun} student profile. They get to tell me about their favorite books, their favorite kinds of music, their favorite movies, and most importantly their favorite candy and cookies. I like to have sweet treats around to bring a smile to their faces, and celebrating them on their birthdays with a favorite candy bar means more than you might imagine. While putting together a candy bar shopping list for the upcoming birthday kids, I started thinking about my favorite candy (bars).

And because you love me, I know you're dying to see what made the top of the list.

{9} I LOVE tootsie rolls (of any variety).

{eight} Classic Starburst (especially the pink ones) always hold a special place in my heart mouth.

7} I don't know why, I'm love those old school Mary Janes.

Now, before we move on, I have explain something about the aforementioned chewy candies. I love 'em, but they send me through the roof with nerve pain in my teeth. (and, no, it's not cavities. I've had that taken care of. It's extreme sensitivity. So I just have to be careful. Which basically means, resisting the urge to each anything sweet and chewy.)

{six} 3 Musketeers. I don't know if it's the "lower calorie than most candy bar appeal" or if I just really love that soft filling, but these candy bars (especially in the bite sized version) are really delicious. Just none of those iterations of mint or dark chocolate. Stick to the original, please.

5} Hershey Bar with Almonds. Plain, simple, beautiful.

{4} Take 5. I'm not sure why I don't indulge in these candy bars very frequently because they're everything I love in one handy eating package==chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, peanuts (and caramel, but I'm not a huge caramel lover. Plus it's chewy and sticky and hurts my teeth.).

{three.} Snickers. Again, please the classic version only. I've tried many of the recent variations and they just don't do it for me.

2} M&Ms. If you ever need to make me happy, M&Ms are the best way to do it. Plain, Peanut, and Peanut Butter are the best.

{1} And my [NUMBER ONE] favorite candy of all time is...drumroll...
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! (Honestly, these are kind of tied with M&Ms. I like M&Ms slightly better for the snackability factor. I feel less guilty eating a couple handfuls of M&Ms than eating 1 or 2 Reese's cups. But peanut butter and chocolate make all my dreams come true.)

What are your sweet tooth weaknesses??

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October 1, 2012

A Week in the Life [of Youth Min]

The alarm rang, all too soon, and I forced myself to pull back the warm blankets and put my feet on the chilly  floor. This morning's 6am alarm clock was filled with purpose. I was so proud of myself for fitting in 20 minutes of yoga, shower/makeup/hair/dressed, and pancakes started by 7am. Seriously impressive for me. I am totally ready to do the mom thing, let's be honest. 

Carly was coming over for a very important reason. It was Geek Day at school (you remember, right? Homecoming Spirit Week?) and she needed her hair French braided. (Lest you deduce that French braids are somehow geeky...they're not. She was going for cute geek. There, I feel better about myself.) I was so glad she asked me if she could come to our house before school; I was really looking forward to it. 

I even made pancakes for the occasion. 

We didn't have nearly enough time together, but it was a wonderful way to start the week. And a beautiful continuation of last week's ministry rhythm


Monday afternoon was book club and two lovely girls talked with Kevin and I for over an hour, while enjoying the delicacy of Tostino's pizza rolls. After they left, we headed to the soccer fields for a quick tour and cheer of three different games--jv, varsity, and middle school. *whew* On our way into the school's gymnasium for a volleyball game, we stopped and talked with one of my sweet 11th grade girls and her boyfriend.


Wednesday evening, I finished up my piano teaching hours at 7pm, grabbed dinner, and headed with Kevin to LeBaron's for our second night ever of watching Survivor. I ducked out at 8:45 so I could make it over another teen girl's house for the season premier of Criminal Minds. We had talked before about being big fans of the show and it occurred to me a few weeks ago that we should make a date of watching the first new episode of season. And I'm so glad we did! It was a late evening for both of us, but it was comfortable and cozy and definitely fun. 


Thursday was filled with more piano teaching and then the time of the week that I've chosen to set aside for my high school girls. It's a pseudo-small-group. They can come, comfortable, sharing their week, laughing, growing together. I haven't pushed attendance because I wanted it to be a desired thing. It's been very small, but most wonderful. Our conversation this past week was so raw and honest and yet somehow encouraging. I like when we can all be ourselves. 


And that brings us back to today (oh, besides quizzing and youth group yesterday, and the mini trip to my house with 2 of the middle school girls to find as many "sparkly" accessories in my closet as possible to make their "Sparkle Day" of spirit week a success.)

May the Lord bless this week in ways I cannot ask or imagine.