Friendship What Ifs

When it comes to making new friends, what holds you back? Here are a couple things I’ve been learning as I face my friendship fears in a new city.

I recently moved to a new city and I am plagued by doubts in building new relationships:

  • What if I reach out and she doesn’t respond?

  • What if I share something vulnerable and I’m judged?

  • What if we hang out and it’s really awkward?

  • What if I show up to an event and feel out of place?

​Building relationships takes initiative, time and energy. Do you know many women who have an excess of those commodities? Yeah, me neither. But I’m finding that even if I’m willing to put in a little effort just to show up, God blesses my effort in unexpected ways. The Holy Spirit begins to break down my fear of rejection and judgment and he reminds me that Jesus has good things for me in this place, especially relationships…

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To keep reading this post, check out the rest of it on Elisa Morgan’s Really blog.

 

To become fearless you need friends

I met Krista for the first time in person when I was bunking up at her expansive lake home in Northern Idaho. A group of writers had bonded together to support rather than compete with one another because we all realize that writing makes us crazy and jealous. Not a good combo when you’re trying to put good things out in the world.  Thus, The Open Door was created. Krista as our hostess made us immediately feel welcomed- even from our first phone call. Her life motto is “live rooted.” For a perpetual Peter Pan like myself I was drawn in by her rooted vibe and wanted to figure out how to start cultivating more of it in my life.

Krista lives rooted because she cares about other people. On March 8th, International Women’s day Krista and some friends from One Million Thumbprints will climb Mt. Kilamajaro to tell the story of women who have suffered violence because of war.

 

www.kristagilbert.com

 

“One Million Thumbprints (1MT) is rooted in the story of Esperance, a woman from the Congo. Before escaping to a UN refugee camp, Esperance watched as her husband was murdered at the hands of rebels after she was raped almost to the point of death. Like many women in the world’s worst war-torn regions, Esperance’s story went untold, her suffering unrecognized. 1MT was founded as a promise to Esperance. The campaign is a promise to share her story, to tell the world of the atrocities suffered not only by Esperance but by millions of other women like her in the hope that those who are able will stand up and finally call for an end to this unspeakable violence.

When Esperance asked founder Belinda Bauman to “tell the world” her story, she signed her request with a thumbprint. Her thumbprint became our mandate: Each thumbprint collected for 1MT is a visual representation of solidarity, but it’s also a call to action. Each thumbprint we collect will advocate for change and peace in the most dangerous nations for women: Sudan, Iraq/Syria, and the Congo.”

I think a lot about ways I can support women suffering across the globe having spent the past 10 years helping to lead anti-human trafficking campaigns on college campuses. I’ve learned that no matter how small I feel I can make my unique mark on the world on behalf of someone else. I can leave my thumbprint. A thumbprint can be a blog post, a song, a donation, a shirt you wear to express that “violence against women in war zones is violence against each of us.”

I’m leading a 40 Days of Fearless challenge this coming Lent and I’m inviting women to do it together because I’ve learned that to become fearless you need friends.  Krista needs friends to cheer her on her on as she trains for this crazy climb. Women affected by war need friends who will tell the world their stories so they don’t have to live in fear. We all need friends who will remind us of who we are when we are afraid and help us to see that love conquers all.

 

40 Days of Fearless

Can you imagine if you lived without fear for even one day?

What if you gave up fear for Lent?

Yes. I realize that probably means you won’t lose any weight like you would if you gave up chocolate or French fries. But don’t you think life could be different if you spent 40 days with a community of women asking Jesus to fill you with his perfect love instead of fear?

Lent is a season of preparation to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Typically people go without something as a way to foster deeper dependance on Jesus and be reminded of their need for his presence in their lives. While some have made lent a season of self-discipline giving up chocolate, coffee or facebook, lent is about far more than self-discipline. It’s about inviting the Holy Spirit to purge the things in our lives that make us distracted from God.

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Many of us live in fear each day. Fear of what others will think of us. Fear that we’ll say the wrong thing. Fear that we made a bad decision that will haunt us. There are places I cower in fear instead of asking Jesus to fill me with his perfect love that can cast out fear.

What if you decided to give up fear for lent?

What if instead of fear God filled you with faith?

What if by Easter Sunday you felt the fierce love of Jesus making you new?

What if you invited others to experience Jesus’ love?

 

Together let’s give up fear.

Instead let’s choose faith. Let’s live out and share the love of Jesus with others.

Let’s live out and speak about Jesus’ resurrection power for the next 40 days together.

 

I need 40 days of fearless.

And I need help from some girlfriends to live this way. My friend Maddison is joining me because I need help to live fearlessly!

Will you join us?

 

What you need:

  • A willing, open heart.
  • A couple of girlfriends- four or five to be specific and create your own “fearless five” group.
  • An expectation that God will move in your life and the lives of others.

What you receive:

  • A weekly calendar mailed to you with specific steps to live fearlessly each day.
  • A weekly video encouragement, sent right to your inbox to encourage you in living out and sharing Jesus.
  • A weekly scripture meditation for you to memorize and pray through during the week.
  • Live support in a private Facebook group for you to share prayer requests, stories and receive encouragement to other women in the challenge.

What you need to do:

  • Invite a couple friends to join you in living fearlessly for Jesus.
  • Sign up at jessicaleepfick.com for the 40 Days of Fearless challenge. (on the home page)
  • Order a signed copy of Beautiful Feet: Unleashing Women to Everyday Witness to help you on your fearless journey and a Beautiful Feet shirt to wear a couple times in the next 40 days.
  • Start praying for God to move in your life and the lives of your friends who are far from him.

We’ll begin the challenge on February 10th– on Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent and ends on March 27th– Easter Sunday.

Are you ready? Let’s live fearlessly together.

The Gift of Pain

“Pain is God’s megaphone to us” C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia series once said.  I love and hate this quote because so much of it depends on the person’s willingness to listen to what is being said through the megaphone.  At times I have clamped my hands over my ears, closing my eyes and been unwilling to look at or hear what the cries were from gaping wounds in my life or the lives of other. I’ve turned up the music to drown out the presence of pain that was howling for my attention relishing a good beat instead but then slowly realizing that the howl could sing along as well..

Other times I’ve tried to fill myself with food, drink, entertainment, sex, shopping, or reading so I’d be distracted from the ominous rumble of pain that was always on the horizon.

In all of this I’ve realized that pain can be a gift.

a gift of slowing down to recognize that we are human.

a gift of recognizing that our bodies, souls and minds are more fallible and tender than we often want to admit.

a gift of realizing we need community. none of us are alone in pain. That megaphone might just be a person or group of friends asking “how can we help?” How can we care for you.”

Receiving pain as a gift requires letting go- letting go of trying to control what is causing us pain, relinquishing our power of what we can and can’t do for ourselves or others. And beginning to trust God in new ways to remind us that he is with us in it all.

image from photogallery.photoposts.org

image from photogallery.photoposts.org

This is a #fiveminutefriday post, the word today was “gift”. To link up to this flash mob of writers check out kate motaung’s website and join in the party.

This is My Life

A couple years ago someone made the comment about a fashion blogger they read regularly- “why does she post about her kids? If I wanted to know about toddlers I’d read mom blogs, which I’m totally not interested in. I just want to know how to tie a scarf 27 ways or what flats are in style for the spring. Who cares that her toddler says the f-word when he asks for his truck! ”  As a blogger who writes about lots of different things this struck fear into my heart and raised all kinds of questions like:

  • “Am I seen as dorky or out of touch if I post about my kids?”
  • “Will it seem “unprofessional” in the blogosphere even as I write about faith, leadership and Jesus?”
  • “Will I seem too sentimental, mushy or emotional if I write about my kids? I don’t want to alienate readers.”
  • “I don’t see many men writing about their families or life as a dad in the blogosphere- unless it’s about some sort of leadership lesson they’ve learned as a dad. If I’m to be taken seriously should I leave out that part of my life?”
  • “Blogging is all about finding your niche- but life doesn’t fit into neat boxes, being a mom spills out into every area of my life and relationships (sometimes literally). Should I make it seem like my life fits into well crafted little blog posts?”

I just don’t care any more. I don’t care about having a perfect little “niche” so my blog reaches my “target audience” (wow, I’m using a lot of air quotes here). I don’t care that I might come off seeming like a softie when I post about my kids because they bring me so much joy, frustration, laughter, confusion, and delight on a daily basis.  And your life doesn’t fit into neat boxes or blog posts either.

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My life is about knowing how to tie a scarf 27 different ways AND delighting at Ozzy sticking his tongue out in concentration as he builds Duplos on the rug. It’s about finding a healthy recipe to make for my family that won’t take too long and still taste good AND working really hard to write a sermon that will influence how others love God. It’s about taking naps because my body is tired AND staying up late to respond to emails from colleagues. It’s about being amazed that Reuben picked up his Highlights because he wants to “exercise his brain” instead of watching another episode of Phineas and Ferb AND sitting on the couch watching another episode of Phineas and Ferb together.

 

I don’t know if this is a gender thing but when I see so many male leaders isolating their lives into work/home/friends/hobbies it makes me feel like I need to as well. I know male leaders aren’t the only ones who do this but many of the models I see are more interested in posting about the latest leadership book they read rather than their frustration that their baby kept them up all night and then pooped all over them when they got up to change her.

My life is integrated and all that I am and am called to be flows into every area. My leadership skills help me to be a better mom when I think about how to organize my days at home with the kids.  My tender heart towards my kids helps me to have compassion as a preacher to parents who are delighting or struggling with their kids. My love of fashion helps people to see that you can live simply and beautifully because when they ask where I got that fabulous shirt they are astounded to learn that  I buy most of my clothing from thrift stores.

I’m sorry bloggy friends (who lurk and who occasionally comment) if I’ve given you the impression that my life fits into neat blog posts. It doesn’t. And I hope that if you’ve come here looking for 27 ways to tie a scarf you’ll stick around to read about the hilarious things my kids do, what I’m thinking about leadership and gender, and see just how great popping tags can be.

 

Coming off a bender

Let me give you a glimpse into my life recently.

I have eaten a total of: Three big Macs, two bars of chocolate, 5 scones, one bag of doritos (the big size)
Drank a total of: 1 milkshake, two bottles of wine (shared with friends…mostly) and 57 cups of coffee. This has been washed down with gallons of water because it’s so cold and dry in Cleveland right now that I need to stay hydrated so I don’t shrivel up.

image from ohsofat.blogspot.com

image from ohsofat.blogspot.com

Obsessed about:
How the stretch marks on my thighs look like tributaries of the 
Mississippi delta
That my six year old seems to be “discovering” his private parts and the girls at school
That my two year old has been clingy because I’ve had to take a trip for work and he screams MOMMMMMMMYYYYYY every time I leave the room.
That my husband and I were supposed to go on a date but both of us forgot to get childcare and are now scrambling to get some time to connect with each other.
That a friend is struggling with a difficult family situation and there is nothing I can do except pray to help her.
That I have a full dishwasher and yet forgot to get detergent when I went shopping yesterday.

Oi. It’s been a crazy bender. I’m guessing I’m not the only one out there who has been feeling like this or reacting in similar ways. Maybe you have more self discipline than me. Maybe you eat kale chips instead of Doritos? Or you get up at 5am to work out or spend time meditating on scripture instead of pretending that you don’t hear your child waking up in the next room so you can hopefully sleep for 5 more minutes?

What has helped me come off this bender- the cycle of self-pity, stress, filling my pie-hole with anything in sight that is sweet, salty, crunchy or creamy? Girlfriends. Girlfriends and Jesus. In the midst of all of this my friends Kristen and Leah both surprised me with “book writing kits” One of them is pictured below:

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Though it may have seemed like a small gesture for them to slip a box of Good n’ Plenty’s into my bag with a note of encouragement it meant the world to me. It was a tangible sign of God telling me- “see, you’re not alone. I’ve got your back and so do these girlfriends. Here is some wine and a Ryan Gosling journal to remind you that I am here caring for you. Now go write your book.”

 

 

 

Visit

Whether it is planned or unexpected I love to host people in my home, particularly if people need a place to stay for the night or a couple of days. Dave and I decided early on that we wanted to have the kind of home where we would always have a bed for someone if they needed it.  Over the years we have enjoyed friends crashing for the night, family staying for a couple days, students who lived with us for a few months and strangers we’ve never met.  Yes, I said we let strangers stay in our home.

Working for InterVarsity is like being connected to a big global family- there are more IFES (the parent movement of InterVarsity) movements around the globe than there are nations in the U.N!  Occasionally we have people contact us and ask for favors like picking international students up from the airport, seeing if there is a place to stay for students doing internships or hosting someone on their way through town.  

A few years ago we had a request for a favor like this and had a student named Uche from Uganda stay with us for two weeks. Yes, we went through the fears and conversations of “what if this stranger is a psycho and murders us in the night.” Ultimately we decided that we could offer him what we had- an air mattress in our living room since our 2 year old had turned our guest room into a nursery.  Uche had such a rigorous schedule for the program he was doing for work that I think he slept on the air mattress for a total of 10 hours during the whole two weeks.

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We took Uche to see Lake Michigan on a windy day, went out for lasagna  together and enjoyed hearing about his life. Our son Reuben called him “Mr. Uche.”  After he left we thought about what we would have missed out on if we had let our fears dictate our life rather than love for visitors.

Check out other Five Minute Friday posts or write your own using the word prompt of the week! 

 

 

Fatherly Encouragement

I sent my dad a thank you card recently. My mom is in Liberia for three weeks chaperoning a trip for Calvin College students. My dad is usually the one traveling around the world.  In part because I knew he would be a little lonely, in part because at InterVarsity’s recent national staff conference we were invited to write thank you’d. Thank you’s to people who have helped us to become a world changer.

I love and appreciate my dad but I realize how seldom I tell that to him. Somehow texts, emails and even words spoken don’t have the punch of seeing something scrawled in a familiar script on a little card. The excitement when you open your mailbox and see something other than a pre-printed bill that makes you think- “me? a note just for me?!”

My father has offered me a lot of encouragement through the years, both verbal and non-verbal. He’s more of a quiet introverted man, but he loves people really, really well.  His stories from traveling overseas doing NGO agricultural work always have to do with the most recent friendships he’s formed, the meals shared and the lives he’s become part of. Some people call that networking. To me, I just saw my dad encouraging others by sharing his life and making space for people to share theirs.

My dad is coming to spend the weekend here with our family in Cleveland. Though we will likely sit around and drink a lot of coffee, take some hikes in the metro parks and I plan to introduce him to the Sherlock mini-series after we put the kids to bed, we will all be encouraged simply because of who he is.

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My dad with chunky little Ozzy when he was about 1 year old

This post is part of Five Minute Friday– a blog-link up from Lisa-Jo Baker where people write unedited, spur-of the moment posts using one word prompt each Friday. Check it out to read some other posts about encouragement, or add your own!

 

Blog roundup

I’ve been loving some of the posts I’ve been reading lately from brave and thoughtful folks- check out some of their goodness that involves gaping wounds, hot wives, and scandalous women.

The one that made me thankful for men who love on their wives publicly:

From Adam Jeske: Don’t Stop Bragging about Your Smokin Hot Wife….but please don’t stop there.

The one that made me think about stupid things I’ve done and the stupid things I will do:

From my girl Grace Biskie: That Little Warrior Girl

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The one that made me think about scripture in a new way:

From Jenny Rae ArmstrongScandalous, Loving, Woman

The one that made me nod my head and think about how hard marriage can be sometimes.

Francie Winslow:Imaginary Marriage

The one that made me think about the kind of mom that I am and the kind of mom I want to become:

Shauna Niequist: Mother Taught Me

What are some of the blogs you’ve been encouraged or challenged by recently? I’ll admit it- I’m usually on allrecipies.com more than I am in the blogosphere. But these were too good not to share!

Care, Questions, & Creativity- sharing Jesus after college

Jesus tells us to go into the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), but some days it feels like a lot just to make dinner.

Now that you’re navigating traffic on your morning commute, toting young kids to soccer practice, or traveling 20 days a month for work,how do you talk to neighbors, friends, and colleagues about Jesus without sounding like a robotic salesperson? One of the best ways to do so is to be present to others and express interest in their lives….

bad example of a neighbor

bad example of a neighbor

To continue reading my post, click on over to InterVarsity’s evangelism blog….thanks-a-rooney neighbor! What have been ways you’ve reached out to colleges, neighbors, friends or other people in your life after college? What’s worked? What’s been a struggle? I find that it’s hard for me not to be selfish and to remember that other people are struggling too.

MOMcon 2013- Amazing happens here

This past month I flew to Kansas City to attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) MOMcon.

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Yes, I know what you’re thinking, or at least picturing….something like this….

piperbasenji.blogspot.com

piperbasenji.blogspot.com

Frumpy Mom- who has gone un-showered, forgotten that she is a woman and is still wearing her clothes from high school because, well, her kids wipe their ranch dressing covered fingers on her sleeves and there is spit up on her shoulders from carrying the baby around. Why buy new clothes when that Alanis Morrisette t-shirt from 1997 still fits?

or you picture this…..

moms from “what to expect when you’re expecting”

Perfectly coiffed moms who look like they bounced back postpartum like 2 hours after giving birth… like the ones from the movie “what to expect when you’re expecting.” They never seem to have a dirty dish in the sink, always have perfect makeup and would rather die than to let you know they’re having a rough day with the kiddos. Also, when you ask how they’re doing they respond with a cheerful, content smile and sigh…”so blessed.”

I’ll be honest- I was a little afraid. Afraid that I’d fit into one of these bad mom stereotypes, afraid I wouldn’t fit in. Afraid other moms would judge me for my parenting choices, what I wore or the weird jokes I am always cracking. In reality I met moms who were sharp leaders, stylish, fun, faith-filled, smart women who want to love their kids and families well and influence the world. I saw moms who are international speakers exhorting other moms to fearlessly follow Jesus (hello Jen Hatmaker and Beth Moore!), moms with months old babies leading and learning in seminars about how to grow their relationship with Jesus or reach more moms through their MOPS group. Moms who are awesome writers (Shauna Niequist and Alexandra Kuykendall) helping moms learn how to reflect on their lives to tell their stories. I saw moms engage with representatives from World Vision and pick up packets for the Strong Women Strong World campaign on how to support moms in Sierra Leone so that their families and kids could have their basic needs met. I saw 3,200 moms dressed in crazy 1970’s costumes at the mom prom belting out “I Will Survive” at the top of their lungs because, yeah, we all know there are rough days you just need to survive until bed time. And I had a laugh-until-your-sides-hurt, eat food without ranch or ketchup, sleep in a room without legos on the floor awesome time with friends from my MOPS group in Cleveland, OH.

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I have described to other people in the most nerdy way- going to MOMcon felt like I was a hobbit stumbling into Rivendell thinking to myself, “a place like this actually exists? Where have all these amazing women been? They love fiercely, bravely, tenderly and without apology for who they are! It’s not like I don’t see amazing women at my church Velocity or with InterVarsity– the organization I work for. But there was something just so empowering being with over 3,000 moms who were trying to lead well in every facet of their lives- with a baby on our hip, a swipe of gloss on our lips and an expectancy that God uses us to change the world.

Being at MOMcon made my little head spin with ideas, inspiration and a renewed gratitude for being a woman leader. It made me grateful for my own MOPS group and the men and women who have been advocates for me. One of my takeaways from MOMcon was to hear other stories of moms, leaders and women.

So here is your invitation you to share your stories through a series of guest posts!

guest-bloggers-wanted-logo

This is the first time I’ve done something like this. And I am CURIOUS! The topic for the guest blog posts is: When have you felt empowered as a woman? If you’re a dude reader- when was a time you were an advocate for a women? Creating an opportunity for them, providing connections or being a support for something they were trying to accomplish? If you’re interested send me a private message or leave a comment- I’m looking for 5 people to do posts about 500ish words long, due by November 15th. I’ll post one guest blog a week from November 18th- December 16th. If you’re a student, mom, dad, person in the workplace, deep-sea diver or amazon princess (the real amazon or online amazon)- I’d love to hear your story and have you share it with others!

one is the loneliest number

When you’ve moved to a new town, what’s the best way you’ve found to connect with people? I’m thankful that there has been a handful of folks that we knew when we moved to Cleveland- it’s been great to be invited over for meals, go out to record shops we would have never known about and have people over for game nights.  It’s made the transition here a lot easier (you know who you are- thank you friends!). I’ve moved a few other times in my life- in high school, to college, to Grand Rapids after college when I still had the crazy idea I’d go to law school and worked in a law firm to see if I’d like it.  Can you picture me sitting behind a desk? I can barely sit still let alone sit behind a desk for 8 hours.

When you’re out of school it’s a lot tougher to meet new people. In high school or college you’re thrown into a social stew of people who are at least somewhat like minded and have something in common. i.e.- “I see you are also a fan of the MSU Spartans since you chose to attend this particular university, I see you also like punk music since you are wearing safety pins in your ears and have an operation ivy patch on your bag, I see you have also found your way to this random keg party that you weren’t actually invited to but heard music playing from the street and made your way inside and are now holding a red cup in your hand as well…”

the 9th annual international holiday ho-down- friends from MSU that all met in Armstrong hall back in 1996!

When you’re an adult you have to work much harder at connecting with people and finding the places where you could develop friendships.  For some people it’s a bar where they can cheer for a baseball match of their favorite team with other fans, a soccer club where they can get exercise and meet other futbol enthusiasts, a knitting group, church or coffeehouse.  So far the place that feels most like this for me is the Phoenix Coffeehouse- slightly grungy beatnik atmosphere, people studying quietly, and good coffee brewing.  The problem is, people usually come to coffeeshops to meet other friends, silently study or write or chill out by themselves. Not a great place to make friends unless you consider befriending the baristas, and they’re paid to talk to people while they serve coffee.

We’ve been attending a beautiful methodist church and trying to connect with people there- however, ironically, church isn’t the easiest place to connect with people.

Church of the Savior here in Cleveland Heights. I grew up going to a church that looked similar to this- it is gorgeous inside & has been an inspiring place to worship.

Folks are busy, and the time that they do have to linger in the parlor for a cup of bad coffee and a few sparse doughnut holes is spent connecting with people they already know.  I’ve often felt like a wallflower standing around with a plastered smile on my face trying to look friendly when I’m really thinking “should it be this hard to meet people?”

I know we’ll continue to meet and connect with people the longer we live here and I have to remember that getting into a routine where I can see the same people in the same places will help.  But in the mean time, it’s been lonely.  When I see people that look like other friends in my life I start to imagine that maybe they could be as cool as the friends that are no longer near me and that they too would be people I could laugh with, share childcare and have over to play settlers of catan into the wee hours of the night, regretting it the next morning when our son wakes up ridiculously early- because that is the Murphy’s law of parenting; the later you stay up, the earlier your child will wake up.

For now I’ll be hitting up the library story hours, scouting for potential cool mom friends, smiling warmly at people at church and trying to strike up conversations, and going to yoga class to meet other people who are down with downward dog.

help marla harness her hotness!

Here it is friends- DIY “what not to wear!” Fick style (without the snarky comments or big budget)!  For the last few months I’ve had fun with friends and family doing closet makeovers and wardrobe consulting. Now I am not Heidi Klum, an editor for InStyle Mag or even an employee of fashionable stores such as Meijer & Walmart. But I have learned a few things over the years about looking cute, saving money, and living simply. You may ask yourself- how do those things fit together? Well, let me introduce you to my gal Marla and I’ll let you in on what I helped her with too and you can help her decide which outfit to wear on Saturday.

Marla is graduating from nursing school on Saturday & wanted to find a cute outfit. Marla like many of us is a busy mom, going to school, being a wife, trying not go crazy and still look cute. She enlisted my help to find an outfit to go with a cute black jacket that looked similar to this:

image from stylefinds.blogspot.com

Which brings me to my first tip:

1. Use what you already have in your wardrobe and buy separates! Especially for events that are special, finding something to go with a skirt or shirt you already have can be a lot cheaper than buying a whole new outfit. Separates are way more functional than dresses- especially shirts that are 3/4 sleeves that you can easily layer with other things depending on what the weather is.

2. Take a friend with you! If you have a friend who has an eye for color, design or just is able to see things differently they can help you put together new outfits from your wardrobe and break you out of a rut, they can encourage you to try on colors you normally don’t wear & then discover- hey, who knew I looked great in turquoise! If they’re a good friend they’ll even tell you when you are about to hit fashion disaster!

friends don't let friends go vintage, bad vintage to nursing school graduation 🙂

3. Go to consignment and thrift stores. How many of us have bought clothes on a whim & later tried them on only to realize that the cut or color really wasn’t that great. We keep the shirt in our wardrobe for awhile, hoping that it will magically begin to look better on us, only to feel guilty that it’s still sitting in our closet with the tags on six months later. You bring it to goodwill hoping that someone else looks awesome in a purple, giraffe print dress (which I did this week ;). Marla and I hit One Girl’s Treasure in GR & found a great skirt  (pictured below) that worked with her jacket- super cute for a fraction of the price! This is one way to live simply and not contribute (as much) to the consumer mentality of needing to buy everything new and using what is already out there. Also, contrary to my friend Todd’s belief about thrift stores- there are no ghosts that live in the clothes.

4. Accessories make the difference! Any outfit can look new with some new jewels! I am a jewelry junkie- a have a soft spot for things that are sparkly and a predilection to pearls! The way to go about keeping it simple is to buy accessories from places that are cheap and trendy. This way you don’t spend a ton of money on something you might not like in a year, jazz up an old outfit and if you get sick of it, you can get rid of it or sell it to a consignment shop without the guilt of feeling like you should keep it because you spent a lot of money on it. My favorite place? forever 21. Yes, I there are times I feel slightly weird shopping with teeny-bopper girls that are five sizes smaller than me and wearing neon for the first time in their lives, but there are some great things at this store!  A necklace & cute bracelet can make an ordinary jeans and a t-shirt look great.

marla agrees!

5. Borrow from friends: Marla and I were commenting how much we used to borrow clothes from each other & other girlfriends while we were in college and had much more disposable income to buy new clothes with. I don’t know what it is that keeps us from raiding our girlfriends closets these days when we have to pay for mortgages, groceries, cars, and a whole lot of other stuff, but checking with a girlfriend is a great way to change up an outfit without spending any money and build your relationship with a friend. I hooked Marla up with a couple of things from my closet to help her harness her hotness, which isn’t hard to do since she’s quite a beaut.

So friends, which outfit do you think she should wear? Post your comments with a vote for which outfit you think she should wear on Saturday to celebrate her graduation. Yay for fun fashion & friends!

outfit #1, which Marla may end up pairing with black pants.

outfit #2: a belt & colorful accessories make the difference!

So, cast your vote & let my friend know which outfit she should go with!

friday fluff- friends!

The first time I met Gracee Biskie we were attending new staff training as rookies with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  The training was about multi-ethnicity and how to help students learn about what scripture says about diversity.  As a bi-racial woman from Detroit who had experienced a ton of racism throughout her life she was in the midst of working through a lot of pain and anger.  Though I didn’t know it at the time, the training was stirring up all kinds of issues in her life.

That night as we went back to our host home we were sitting around in our pajamas talking about the training Gracee ranted her anger towards white people.  Being a white person and wrestling with my own issues of ethnic identity I blurted out “what do you want? A big long line of white people lining up and saying “I’m sorry??!!” She stopped and looked at me and replied with big eyes “that would be amazing!”  And then we both started cracking up thinking of an endless line of white people expressing their condolences for racism to Gracee.

together celebrating Gracee's birthday last year. Only she could pull off asking all her guest to wear black or white while she dresses herself in vibrant red 🙂

That was nine years ago and since then Gracee and I have been present for the births of one anothers children, discussed our mutual love of fashion and theology, prayed together about difficult issues in life and challenge each other to live into the leadership roles God has placed us in.  While we don’t get to see each other that often we always have a blast hanging out together.  Here are a few pics of our latest marathon catch up session from last week:

rockin' the cute new jackets she bought for us.

Rhys the little sweetie!

It was such an amazing experience to be present for Rhys’ birth.  Never in my life have I felt a deeper connection to another person as a woman and mother. Being in the hospital room together reminded me how throughout the ages women have shared in the intimate experience of giving birth.  This sweet moment was brought abruptly (and hilariously) to an end when her husband Dave showed up with a bag of french fries which he ate in the delivery room. I was so privileged that Gracee invited me to be present & take pictures of that momentous day.

Reuben loves coming to the Biskies house to play with Ransom & his toys.

buddies. Yesterday Reuben was playing "spaceship" and I asked him where he was going to fly. He replied- "to Ransom Biskie's house!"

I’m so thankful for my friend and all the ways God uses her in my life to consider new perspectives, try new fashion trends and have a tender heart towards Jesus and his people.

so what do you do when you’re livid?

Now that I’ve had a chance to retract my adamantium claws after some frustration recently, I’ve been thinking about the process of healing after a difficult incidents like this.  Thank you to everyone who wrote encouraging comments, emails, called me & sent me carmels via carrier pigeons. I’m thankful for your kindness and the pigeons only ate 1/2 of the carmels!

What do you do when you’re angry? hurt? frustrated? bitter? Why would I bother to even write about difficult experiences, or how I’m dealing with them? why? Because I’m betting that every single one of you have some sort of shizzle you’re dealing with in your life too. And we all have to make choices about how we’ll respond to people who hurt us, situations that are less than ideal and the fallout that comes from conflict. So, why the heck not blog about them & encourage one another to live out love. After all, as Elvis Costello

he's the best on vinyl.

once sung “what’s so funny bout’ peace, love and understanding?”

I was struck that in the midst of dealing with some painful things in my life, that there are thousands of others dealing with the wreckage of their lives in Haiti. And it reminded me why I need the gospel. I was reminded that because Jesus is able to give an unceasing, unchanging love in the midst of pain and brokenness, I can forgive instead of being resentful. I can triumph not because I’ve reamed someone out about what a jerk they are, or what wrongs they did to me, but because as St. Paul said “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I need Jesus to continue to heal me from the inside out, so that I can get my eyes off myself and my own issues and focus on how Jesus leading me and my community to bring his love, power and healing to a hurting world. And this is only possible through Jesus- I can’t be nice enough, tell myself to get my mind off my problems, or put on a happy face. The tapes just keep playing in my head.  I simply do not have enough love for all the jerks in my life, let alone this world. But Jesus does, and he is able to give me (and you!) his love. Which is totally, totally rad. This is the essence of the gospel, the essence of what Christians are meant to believe and live. If anyone tells you differently, they’re just bamboozled.

So, how did Jesus minister his love to me to help me heal? Well, funny you should ask. He did it in ways that would make me feel most cared for, which looked like:

  • A great date with my husband. We ate Kentucky Fried Chicken which we had been craving for weeks but continually talked ourselves out of because it is ridiculously unhealthy. We saw a movie by our favorite director, Wes Anderson. And we loved, loved The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was just the thing to cheer my spirits!
  • A great date with a friend. Doing yoga with one of my girlfriends helped to release a lot of the tension I had been carrying around and reminded me that I am not in control of anything though I would so love to believe that to be true. It reminded me that God is way bigger than my problems and the problems in this world.
  • Dance parties. The first with my son to the Urbana 09 worship cd. We jumped around and shook our hips and praised Jesus. Worship is actually one of the most counter-cultural things I think that Christians do. What? Praise God for his goodness in a world that is so absolutely broken? Hecks YEAH! Because even when everything changes for the worse, God remains the same.
  • My second dance party was a solo one, and I rocked out while I cleaned with my ever-present ipod friends:

brittney

Gwen

Rhianna

Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake showed up for a little while too, but it was mostly just the four of us sweeping the kitchen floor and shaking our booties.

I think sometimes Christians forget that God can use anything to remind us of his love and his presence. Perhaps because we’re so afraid that it is escapism into something besides God that we fail to realize that God may want to remind us we have bodies to dance, eat, and celebrate that we can find joy in the midst of pain because of his love. For some reason in my life that is often embodied in pop culture. And fried chicken.

What are ways that you deal with your anger? What helps you when you’re in a funk because of some conflict? I’m not looking for a dissertation, but how about your top three list?

I’m so thankful I’m poor

I’m so thankful I’m poor because when I go to the library to check out dvd’s instead of renting or buying them, I see kids from my neighborhood on the computer terminals and I’m reminded that most of the world doesn’t have a computer in their home, let a lone two laptops, iphones, dvds, a tv, and any number of other technology that I rely upon and enjoy on a daily basis.

"I love technology, but not as much as you, you see!"

I’m so thankful that I’m poor because in choosing to eat less meat  to save money, reduce my carbon footprint, and be less of a consumer or resources, I’m more grateful for the times when I do enjoy a juicy medium-rare steak, a chicken breast sauteed with onions or stir-fried with broccoli. I think about villages that throw celebrations when a wild animal is caught because it means they get to eat meat, or weddings when meat is served as a luxury rather than something that easily comes served in nuggets or fingers.

I’m so thankful that I’m poor because I get to invite people into my life and ask for help. I’m reminded that I’m not self-sufficient, and that none of us were designed to be. From my neighbor who feeds our cats while we’re away, to my friend Gracee who lent me clothes that fit me this summer when I couldn’t afford to buy new ones after I had lost weight. Thank God for friends with great taste in fashion who are also generous!

totally gorgeous gracee- even when she's seven months preggers.

I’m so thankful that I’m rich in creativity when I use what God has provided for me rather than being sour about what I can’t afford. Rather than pouting about the prints that are too costly for me to buy on etsy, I end up being inspired and making cool artwork to decorate my home, pies to give to friends and be thankful that there are so many resources at my disposal to create things that are beautiful to enjoy.

I’m so thankful that I’m abundant in health that my body functions well and I can use it to work. To do dishes, to clean laundry, to write talks, to walk to the post office. That I’m hydrated by water that isn’t full of parasites that cause me to suffer in illness, that my feet are well covered by shoes that protect me from snow, ice, dirt and debris. That despite the heath care drama in the U.S., I can walk into a hospital if I am feeling ill, seek and receive treatment for what ails me.

I’m so thankful that I am wealthy with family and friends who love me and seek to care for me. As they say in Jamaica “a good friend is worth more than money in your pocket.” I have family that didn’t sell me into slavery like many young women around this world, that didn’t force me to roll cigarettes or bake bricks for 16 hours a day, or to be raped multiple times by men who pay to be with young sexually exploited girls in the brothels of South Asia, South America and Southern Ohio.

I’m so thankful that I experience the lavish love of Jesus as he teaches me what it means to be content in every situation. To be thankful whether I’m wearing scuffed gym shoes and dining on ramen noodles on my couch one day or clad in manolo blahniks feasting on sushi at an asian fusion bistro the next. All of it, in plenty and in want is a gift from God. Want to know how I’ve been learning to be so thankful? This helped. Take a look.

What are you thankful for as we begin 2010?

sabbatical dreams

It’s hard to believe that in eight days I’ll begin a year long sabbatical from my regular job with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship! After seven years IVCF grants up to a year for academic sabbaticals, an amazing gift! I’m actually in my ninth year of ministry and during this year, I plan to  finish my M.A. through Wheaton Grad school.  I was talking with my friend Gracee the other day about helpful things to consider before beginning a sabbatical- I’d love some advice from any other people that have done/are doing one!

Since my degree is modular and my first class doesn’t start until March, I’ll actually have a decent amount of time for other things besides writing papers and reading for class. I’ve been mentally compiling a list of things I’d like to do, so I thought I’d just blog it out and stop driving myself batty with all my dreams for the next year.

Here is what I actually plan to do:

  1. Finish my M.A. through Wheaton. Read like crazy. Learn some rad stuff about evangelism and leadership. Write a lot of papers.
  2. Begin writing a book on “women in witness” based on the seminar I’m leading at Urbana- I’m so stoked about this and still can’t believe I have a meeting with an editor in a few days to discuss it!
  3. Invest awesome mom time with Reuben and wife time with Dave. I’m hoping to take a mom/toddler swim class with Reuben and a dance class with Dave.
  4. Spend time with girlfriends. I always have ideas for parties but often am gone so much or am so tired that I don’t have energy to follow through on my ideas. My latest party idea: “souper saturday”; have a couple girlfriends over with ingredients for soup that we’ll chop, cook and then each take a portion home to eat/freeze having multiple soups already prepared! I’d also just love to be able to do more normal mom stuff- playdates with kids, library reading hours, things I normally don’t get to do on a regular basis because of my travel schedule.
  5. Spend some awesome time with Jesus. I’m looking forward to taking a silent retreat in January or February at my favorite place, The Hermitage. I’m also hoping to be more involved with the moms group at my church and to possibly plan a women’s retreat!

    the hermitage is beautiful year round- even now when it's covered in snow.

Here is what I’d do if there were no limits to my sabbatical (time, $, family committments, etc.) in addition to what I’m already planning:

  1. Take the “fantasy bake-cation” through Zingerman’s bakery in Ann Arbor. A full weekend of learning how to bake world-famous bread or pastries. I would so LOVE to do this! Perhaps I will be able to swing taking one of the classes. I’d love to learn how to make english muffins at home. I’m a glutton for breakfast breads.
  2. Travel: to Kenya- to visit my brother and sister-in-law while they take sabbatical/work there for six months. To Ireland to visit one of my college girlfriends Katie and her husband Rob. Anywhere warm with Dave during the months of January and February when I get cabin fever living in Michigan.
  3. Create and sell artwork, like the peacock prints I made awhile ago. I’ve had a lot more ideas for those types of things but alas- it takes a lot of time to do that sort of thing! I’ve always found I both think and feel better when I have an outlet for creativity.
  4. Do a triathlon this summer. I wanted to do the Reed’s Lake run here in Grand Rapids this past summer, but again, that takes time and money- not to mention a lot of discipline! I think I probably will end up doing a 5K this spring with Dave, but a triathlon would be pretty cool too.
  5. Reorganize my kitchen pantry. This is the kind of stuff I tell myself that I’d like to do because it makes me feel like a better person but when it comes down to it, I really don’t enjoy it.

    help. me.

    If you had a year to pursue your dreams, what would you do? Help me reorganize my pantry? 😉

top five thankful list

In preparation for the inevitable “what are you thankful for this year?” question that most of us get asked on Thursday, I thought I would be a little more thoughtful than rattling off the standard, “family, friends, pumpkin pie” answers.  Since this is my last post for this month’s challenge to practice thankfulness, I thought I’d encourage all of us not just to be thankful, but to be specific in your thanksgiving. What do I mean by this?

Example A: I am thankful for clothes so I don’t have to be naked and cold.
Specific modification: I am thankful for this pair of jeans and this amazingly stylish sweater from Toddland that makes everyone jealous when I wear it because no one can look as cool as me, unless of course, they’re wearing this sweater too. Then we are hot and stylish together instead of naked and cold. O.K. So that was a shameless plug for my friend Todd’s clothing company. Get your boyfriend, dad, second cousin bud some fab gear from their online store for Christmas, Chanukah, or Christmukah. Back to the thankfulness.

What I mean by being specific is letting people know and reflecting for your self what you actually are thankful for. So here is my top five list to close out this month’s Thankful challenge.

1. My sister. In the past six months, my sister and I have grown a lot closer. I’m thankful because our relationship hasn’t always been easy. If I had to facebook status my relationship with my sister in the past it would have been “it’s complicated” now, the status would be “it’s the kind of friendship with my sister I’ve always hoped for.” awww. cue afterschool theme special music.

The sisters Leep. Can you guess who is the oldest?

2. Pie. With the holidays always come the traditional things I bake. Tonight I made the crust for the pecan pie & roasted the pumpkin for the pies I’ll be baking for thursday. I feel thankful for the rhythms of life that entail traditional holiday desserts! For Christmas I always make coconut macaroons and chocolate gingerbread from Nigella’s Feast Cookbook.

3. Quality time. This is the one time of year my brother and his wife come to spend a few days with our family. They’re both in PhD programs and lead busy lives, so I’m so happy to have the chance to catch up, drink some coffee together & play Settlers of Catan!

4. The opportunity to learn. Next week I’ll be taking a class for the M.A. I’m working on through Wheaton Graduate school. Everytime I take a class in this program I feel like I’m on cloud 9. I’ve loved interacting with peers from around the world, learning from insightful professors and having the space to learn more. Plus, the original wardrobe that was build by C.S. Lewis’ uncle is housed on Wheaton’s campus. When I get stressed out during class, I just hop in and find Mr. Tumnus the fawn to have a chat with.

mr. tumnus, the fawn

5. Yoga. Even though I thought this month’s pace would be slower, it really hasn’t been. I’ve started to do more Yoga, partly in preparation for next month’s 12 days of Yoga challenge! More on that in next Tuesday’s post! Even though it hasn’t been a lot, each time I do yoga I feel refreshed, energized and stronger. It has just felt so good to stretch and breathe at the end of a long day. I’m looking forward to doing more next month!

What are some of the things you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving?

we are the champions, my friends

This past week I met with a national staff team of InterVarsity “outreach champions” from across the country. It’s one of my favorite meetings of the year both because I get to connect with brilliant, funny and deep colleagues, but also because we have fun together over delicious meals or going out to see a movie. This time we went and saw the Matt Damon movie- “The Informant!” hil-arious! I love a good dark comedy.

Matt Damon transforms from chic Jason Bourne to dorky Mark Whitacre in "the Informant"

Matt Damon transforms from chic Jason Bourne to dorky Mark Whitacre in "the Informant"

The fun part about this team is that these people dream BIG. They have incredible ideas about how to help shape the faith of college students across the country & invite people to think about Jesus in new ways. At one point during a discussion of N.T. Wrights book Justification and John Piper’s Book The Future of Justification a team mate named Ashley who works at Columbia University in New York leaned over and whispered to me “I’d love to do an outreach called “What the Hell?” and have a forum to have people from different faith backgrounds share their perspectives on hell and stimulate discussion on this topic. Doesn’t that sound cool? It’s energizing being in the same room with people who have a common vision and passion for engaging college students on their perspectives of what faith looks like put into action. I always feel such purpose and inspiration after champions meetings because we’ve been talking about important ideas and plans that shape our whole movement of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

As we were getting ready to fly home, a bunch of our team members hung out in the Great Dane pub in the airport. I asked a few of them what their highlights of the meetings were and they responded with similar sentiments. A team mate named Terry from Minnesota said “you feel like you put on a pair of old jeans with this team- you don’t have to have an agenda, protect yourself, to get everyone going one direction. There’s healthy relationships and building one another up. There is confidence and rejoicing, not pride and arrogance.”

food, fun and friends at the Great Dane!

food, fun and friends at the Great Dane!

Another team mate named Greg from Rhode Island said “I like the clarity that God is giving us- there is real insight into what he’s doing and what the next steps might look like to help move our organization forward. There’s energy in the room, everyone clearly wants to learn together & be a learning community. People jump right in. There are a lot of brilliant and important thoughts that fly around the room- it’s like you need a butterfly net to catch them all.”

I had a friend once remark that “I obviously don’t work in corporate america” with how much I enjoy my team and my team mates. Who loves to go to meetings? When they’re like this, with this group of people, I do. You never know what you’re getting into when you decide to work at a certain place. I never expected that some of my best friends would be people I work with. But eight years later I find myself with a network of friends who I also happen to work with all across the country. What has been one of your favorite jobs? Maybe it was the people, maybe it was the place you worked. What keeps you working where you work?

am I getting stupider?

When I was about to graduate from Michigan State University I was afraid of my brain turning to mush in the 9-5 world so I asked one of my professors “what can I do to make sure I don’t get stupider after college?”  Dr. Kotzin, a wizened Jewish woman whom I had taken an intro to philosophy class & a class on Aristotle would wheel her briefcase down the busy sidewalk to her office as I asked her questions about class and feminist theory. When I asked her the question, she looked at me intently and with a little chuckle said “keep reading, don’t ever stop reading!”

“Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.” -Bertrand Russel

“Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.” -Bertrand Russell

About two years ago I was invited to join a book club with some women from the Grand Rapids area.  They invited me in as their “token outsider” as I began calling myself.  By this I mean that I was and am the only one in the group that didn’t go to Calvin College or work at Calvin College- in case you didn’t know, Grand Rapids is dutchy-dutch-ville and everyone seems to be connected through Calvin College somehow. We dubbed ourselves “read wine” as in- “we read the book and now we’ll have a glass of wine and discuss it!” get it? the past tense of read sounds like red, as in red wine! Nerd alert!

Last night we met to discuss the book “The Memory Keepers Daughter” a disturbing and beautifully written book about the secrets that destroyed a family. It reminded me a lot of Revolutionary Road.

thumbs up! I'm such a cheeseball...

thumbs up! I'm such a cheeseball...

Book club is mostly a chance to hang out with friends, eat and drink yummy things but also to make sure we aren’t getting stupider by reading and discussing books regularly.  o.k. so we really just talk about old Saved By The Bell Episodes and the blogs we read. Some of our favorite books have been:

the legacy of the architect of the Chicago World's fair & the mayhem of a serial killer who lured women there to murder them! creepy, true yet fascinating!

the legacy of the architect of the Chicago World's fair & the mayhem of a serial killer who lured women there to murder them! creepy, true yet fascinating!

Eat, Pray, Love- we loved her writing- didn't like her as a person so much! This book will give you the travel bug!

Eat, Pray, Love- we loved Elizabeth Gilbert's writing- didn't some of the choices she made! This book will give you the travel bug!

loved this book! you can check out her blog at www.orangette.blogspot.com. So many great recipes!

loved this book! you can check out her blog at www.orangette.blogspot.com. So many great recipes!

notice a pattern? We've really liked reading books about FOOD! When we do this, we'll usually make recipes from the book we've read.

notice a pattern? We've really liked reading books about FOOD! When we do this, we'll usually make recipes from the book we've read.

We typically just come with recommendations we’ve heard from others, check the NYT bestseller list or NPR’s recommendations.  We’ve felt like Oprah led us astray with her recommendation of “Love in a time of Cholera” which none of us liked, so we don’t trust Oprahs’ pics so much anymore.

thumbs down Oprah!

thumbs down Oprah! Boo to Love in the Time of Cholera!

Next month we’ll be reading Stealing Buddhas Dinner which is a memoir set here in Grand Rapids, MI! You can bet we’ll be making some Vietnamese food or Asian food in the very least! Anyone have any good recipes that would be a nice addition to the night? What has been a book you’re really enjoyed recently? Yours for watching Saved By the Bell reruns getting smarter every day.

We should mate, uh, I mean date!

Doesn’t dating make you crazy sometimes?  I was out with some girlfriends awhile ago on a Saturday night at Republic and as we were watching the brigade of mini-skirt clad ladies make their way upstairs, primly holding stems of martini glasses to make sure not to spill, we mused on life as married women who have taken ourselves off the meat market.

I’m so glad that I don’t have to get hooched up anymore hoping to hook up with a guy when I go out!” quipped one of my friends as she popped a salted edamame out of it’s fuzzy pod and into her mouth. “Yeah, it gets so tiresome hoping you’ll find someone- I don’t miss that at all” chimed in my other friend.  “true- but remember the anticipation of getting ready to go out? Not knowing what will happen, who you’ll meet, where the night will end up? I replied. Now when we get ready to go out, we’re usually with our husbands and there’s no anticipation. You know you’ll go home, have sex and then go to sleep.” We all were silent for a minute, listening to the clink of glasses and the soft thump of  techno music in the background- probably thinking about the difference of how it felt anticipating a night out with your spouse instead of a night out with, well anyone you might meet. “yeah” said one of my girlfriends nodding wistfully. “true” said another one smiling.

Despite the feelings or ideas that single people are having more fun, better sex and are free to generally enjoy life more, there has been numerous books written on the topic of married sex from all sorts of perspectives- sociologial, psychologial and spiritual.  A quick amazon search of “married sex” yielded these books results:

The Case for Marriage: why married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially

Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex

One of my friends Lorilee has written books on “how to keep the spark alive” once you’re married, and especially if you have kids in books like Date Night in a Minivan and the one below:

check out http://www.lorileecraker.com/ for more of her books!

check out http://www.lorileecraker.com/ for more of her books!

The truth is that sometimes when you’re married it can feel a lot like the quote from Ben Stiller’s character in Dodgeball that I used for the title of this blog “we should mate, I mean date” than the exciting gut-wrenching anticipation of dating as a single person. Though research claims that Married People have better sex than single people- a bunch of data doesn’t really do much to spice up your love life!

Lorilee and I joked awhile ago that shows like The Bachelor or Bachelorette should throw couples in real life situations rather than these crazy idealistic and romantic situations! How’s this for a plot line: “a bachelor sees which 12 women he best connects with as they figure out how to divide household chores, cook dinner together and babysit a toddler.” I think it’d be like a cross between SuperNanny/WifeSwap/and The Bachelor 🙂

Last week Dave and I went on a date to the sixth street bridge park in Grand Rapids.  We packed a picnic of sandwiches, veggies and dip, homemade dilly potato salad that Dave had made earlier that day. Rather than just doing paper plates and plastic forks, we wrapped our real plates, glasses and cutlery in blue cloth napkins and tucked a blanket into the bag to sit on while we enjoyed dinner.

there is a sweet little park overlooking this bridge and the river of downtown GR

there is a sweet little park overlooking this bridge and the river of downtown GR

As we sipped wine from the vineyard in Ithaca, NY we visited on my birthday we enjoyed the sunlight glinting off the Grand River, the clouds drifting through the blue sky and the sound of cars creaking over the historic bridge. I simply felt content and happy.

six mile creek vineyard is such a quaint place- check it out at http://www.sixmilecreek.com/

six mile creek vineyard is such a quaint place- check it out at http://www.sixmilecreek.com/

It was so enjoyable to sit and relax uninterrupted conversation, take a break from the routine of life, catch up with things we’d been thinking about and just savor each others company. Thank God for grandparents who love to babysit! We walked around downtown GR & listened to some music that was playing outdoors & then headed to dairy queen where we got some dessert.  This date cost a total of $4.51! Sometimes I think that the things that are the simplest can be the most enjoyable because there isn’t so much hype around them to have them “feel special.”

So, if you’re married what are ways you’ve enjoyed “dating” your spouse? Whether you’re married or single, what has been one of your favorite dates lately? If you’re not dating- what did you do with a friend lately that made you feel loved and appreciated?

I love you, man! (the sermon)

What do Peter Klaven from “I love you, man”  and Peter from scripture have in common? Take a listen to my blog post today & find out!

Paul Rudd & Jason Segal as Peter and Sydney. Best Bro Friends Forever.

Paul Rudd & Jason Segal as Peter and Sydney. Best Bro Friends Forever.

This is about a 15 minute long “sermonette” that I had to preach for a class I took this past spring at Wheaton Graduate School on the Gospel & pop culture.  This was by far one of my favorite classes, mostly because I love pop culture and watching movies.  Our professor Rick Richardson even gave us popcorn money for this class assignment- how sweet is that?! Our groups in class had to pick a movie & discuss the spiritual themes behind it.  This is the thing I love about pop culture- though it may be couched in peep & fart jokes the best movies connect with our deepest longings, like the longing for friendship in I love you, Man.

Though I really enjoyed this movie a lot, it’s not for everyone.  So, while I did preach about this movie I am not saying that everyone should go out and see it.  If you get offended by potty humor- rent Wall-E instead.  I just think people, and Christians should explore the things that really connect with a broad audience. I believe that filmmakers and musicians are more relevant modern-day prophets that speak of the truth inside all of us and in the world than most preachers do on a Sunday morning. So stop, listen and enjoy.  As the reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper said, There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” That includes bromance films and the wonderfully hilarious people who created them.