Friday, August 29, 2008

Part Four: Romance - Finally!

The rest of that summer was just weird.

Josh and I talked on the phone. A lot.

I moved back to Grand Rapids before school started, and he came to visit me at my parents' house. We talked all night long. I drove to Ann Arbor to see him -- I mean, to see a bunch of friends.

Had it been any other guy I would have been sure there were feelings there. But Josh? He'd made it pretty clear where he stood just six months before. I had no idea what was going to happen when I moved back to Ann Arbor (into a house just 3 doors down from Josh, no less) for my junior year. And what about Carrie? She and I would be roommates in the 710 Catherine house.

I remember taking a trip to Meijer with Chris (a good friend of mine and a roommate of Josh's) the day I moved in. I started talking about the summer's saga and asked him for his male perspective on it all. His response:

Josh is an idiot if he doesn't date you.

The very next day would be life-changing. It started out ordinarily enough - unpacking, cleaning, reading, and watching a movie with friends. After the movie was over Josh and I decided to go for a walk around campus. And walk we did. All the way down to the football stadium (which from our side of town was almost 2 miles) and back. We sat down on the steps of the Nursing School and kept talking. Eventually the subject turned to us.

Josh was completely silent for about ten minutes. No joke. Come on buddy, spit it out! Then he told me that he had feelings for me, and asked me if I still felt the same way. I did. Of course.

He hadn't exactly planned on telling me that night. He had wanted to wait, talk to Carrie, and let our friends see that we were headed down that path. But he knew I needed to know what was going on (remember? I'm not a patient person) and told me. Yes, it was a complete 180 for him!

Carrie wasn't pleased, at first. That was partially due to the fact that she heard about us through the grapevine. That was my fault - I was so totally excited that I told everyone in sight and the news spread like wildfire. She got over it pretty quick, thankfully, and we remained good friends. She stood up in our wedding. So did Boeve.

We dated for about a year-and-a-half before Josh proposed. We were married 6 months later, and now we've been married for over 3 years. Amazing how things turn out, isn't it?

Me and Josh on our first date! He took me to TGI Fridays and we rented Top Gun. That night I told him he wasn't allowed to kiss me for a month!

After he told me he liked me for the first time - 5 years ago - he walked me back to my house. He told me later that this was going through this mind:

I just told the girl I that I'm pretty sure I'm going to marry that I like her. Whoa.

Crazy enough, marrying me was in the back of Josh's mind from the start. He knew we were great together, and that if we ever started dating we would end up married. At first, the feelings just weren't there for him. But it all changed that fateful summer! Josh describes it as a cloud lifting - like God was saying okay, here you go! She is perfect for you!

I don't really know why it all had to happen that way, but I see God's fingerprints throughout it. Perhaps had we started dating right away our friendship wouldn't have had the chance to develop like it did. Maybe God wanted Josh to try things out with Carrie first, so he wouldn't wonder later if anything could have happened with her. I don't think I'd have had the same experiences with building friendships and doing ministry had I been dating Josh from the start. Who knows? But I am so very thankful that everything worked out like it did. It has been a blissful five years together.

Praise the Lord.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Part Three: Best Friends

We really were. The parties, movie nights, birthday dinners, and Thursday nights in front of Friends continued on as usual.

Many of you commented on my maturity at handling the whole Josh likes Carrie situation. Believe me, any maturity on my end was completely God-given. My previous track record with relationships, although extremely short, was void of much maturity or class. It is almost like God didn’t want me to mess things up permanently with Josh. Oh wait, I believe that to be true! And the night after my date, I’d never felt so supported and comforted, both my Him and some friends He’d placed in my life.

A few months later, Josh plucked up the courage to ask Carrie out. She accepted. I was more or less comfortable with it, but thankful I would be spending the summer on a mission project with Campus Crusade in Virginia Beach. Not a bad time to move 12 hours away. But I kept in good touch with both of them all summer, and soon learned that things between them weren’t going so well. I never got the impression that they didn’t get along, but more that they never really clicked. I remember when they told me separately that they wanted to end things. They lasted all of a month, but ended things amicably.

A few weeks later Josh made plans to visit me in Virginia Beach. I didn’t think it meant anything, but was extremely excited to see my friend. We mostly spent time in larger groups that weekend, but did get the chance to borrow a car and randomly visit Colonial Williamsburg. And then we did take a couple of long walks along the boardwalk in the evenings.

The jpeg files of that trip were the unfortunate casualty of a busted hard drive (stupid Dell computers) but here is a scan of a scrapbook page I made later:

Top picture: On a bench at the VA Beach boardwalk.
Bottom picture: Doing the cheesy tourist thing in Williamsburg.

But it wasn't anything romantic, I told myself. It was only a friend thing. Only a friend thing. We were just best friends. That was it.

But the hug he gave me at the airport was a little different. I think he caught my hand on the release. I wasn’t sure. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Cried all the way home. Cried at work all morning. Tried to put it out of my mind, but it was impossible.

I knew liked him. Again.

But what kind of idiot falls for a guy that has already told her he doesn’t have any romantic feelings toward her?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Random Tangents

Okay, a couple of tangents.

First, I was looking at a picture in this post and realized that Josh still has that shirt.

No shirt from Steve and Barry's ever lasts that long. And yet that was my 19th birthday and I'm almost 25. It has GOT to be paper thin and fraying in several places. Perhaps we should replace it (for all of $6.97) when we're in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Second, props to the folks at Maize N Brew for their series of posts - 100 Reasons To Love Ann Arbor. Any of you blog-stalking Wolverines out there? Check it out.

Updates: Josh claims that his current light blue Michigan shirt is a newer one. I have my doubts.

Also, Jamie tells me she actually took that picture at California Pizza Kitchen that day in September 2002! It totally seems like another lifetime.

Part Two: Just The Three Of Us

Yup, turn up the soap opera music.

I liked Josh. Carrie liked Josh. Carrie and I were close friends and lived in next door dorms. We'd even signed up to be roommates the following year. The three of us were virtually inseperable. All the fixins for some good drama.

And the big question at that time was of course, who is Josh going to pick?

And then Josh asked me to dinner. Me! I was on cloud nine.

Soon into our "date," however, I realized that something wasn't right. We didn't make it our of the parking space when Josh uttered these words: We need to talk. He then proceeded to tell me that although he truly valued my friendship, had no romantic feelings for me. More than that, he told me he did have feelings for (who else?) Carrie, and wanted to ask her out.

Not exactly the first date I'd had in mind. In retrospect, Josh realizes that asking me to dinner wasn't the best plan for such a conversation.

You see, he wasn't completely clueless and knew I harbored a crush for him. I know that telling me he didn't feel the same way was really hard for him. We were extremely close and he didn't want to hurt me or our friendship. But he cared about me as a friend too much not to tell me, and I appreciated it. I later found that he'd agonized over what to do for months.

And you know what? I was initially devastated, but felt a God-given peace about it all pretty quickly. I was mostly worried about losing my friend to "weirdness" between us. I remember talking to some friends about it all the next day and they were like, wow! you're in much better shape than he is! I realized I'd need to be the one to extend the olive branch and assure him that I was really okay with it all. And so I did.

Josh calls that day, "The Day We Became Best Friends."

Weird? Totally.

But when you think about it, if a friendship can withstand kind of drama you know it is for keeps.

And thankfully I left for spring break in Turkey two days later, and got a breather from it all. Things hadn't worked out they way I'd planned, and I was determined to move on.

Dont worry, there's more to this story! :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Part One: The First Time We Met

It wasn't love at first sight.

I was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Michigan. That year I went on a spring break trip with Campus Crusade to Daytona Beach, FL and returned back to campus on a Sunday afternoon. As the bus was pulling into Ann Arbor, I started asking around to find out if anyone had dinner plans. The dorms weren't open yet so we'd be on our own. A few of us who lived close to each other decided to do the classic college thing and order a couple pizzas when we got back to school.

There was this guy, Matt Boeve, that I'd met on the trip who I really didn't care for. As I remember, he was pretty arrogant when I played cards with him on the bus ride down to Florida. But I knew he lived in a nearby dorm and thought I'd be nice and invite him to join us.

Little did I know Boeve lived down the hall from a very cute guy who he'd end up inviting along to eat pizza with us.

Josh had just returned from a spring break trip, too - skiing with his parents. He has never been one to pass up pizza, and readily agreed to head down to South Quad (my dorm) with Boeve to meet me, and some others for some Cottage Inn.

I remember thinking that Boeve's friend Josh was both funny and attractive. I was a teeny bit intrigued by him, but it wasn't anything major. Just the huh... the new guy is cute feeling - the kind I'd felt a number of times when meeting attractive single guys. Josh remembers that I had short hair and wore a striped sweater. Nothing earth-shattering.

It would be awhile before we started dating. Like a year-and-a-half. It seemed like a looooong time, to 18-year-old me. I'm not a patient person, and my crush developed pretty quickly.

Soon after spring break, we started hanging out in groups of friends. I'd often eat dinner with that same Cottage Inn Pizza group. Josh's dorm was notorious for terrible food, so he and Boeve headed to South Quad many evenings for something decent. We were both involved in "Cru" on campus, and our two groups of friends started to mesh. Boeve started to grow on me, and we became friends pretty quickly too.

I admit, I'd sometimes ditch my girlfriends (sorry DeeDee, Jess, Jamie, & Becky) for video games (the shoot 'em up type) with Josh and the "East Quad boys." Not my proudest moments. But I liked being with him. He was funny, articulate, and generous, and we always had great conversations. We hit it off as friends right away.

But he wasn't interested in me in that way. Sigh.

Patrick, Me, Carrie, Boeve, Josh - headed to the Counting Crows concert.

Summer passed, where we saw each other a few times (always in groups) and IM'ed a bit in the evenings. Sophomore year started, and we found ourselves living on the same side of campus again. Our group of friends grew closer, and we enjoyed frequent barn dances, parties, and movie nights all year. We even had a puzzle streak going there for awhile. He and our other friend, Carrie, made me a birthday cake that fall. Ten of us or so went on a ski trip in Northern Michigan that winter. All the while, my feelings were growing.

His were not.

Out for lunch for my birthday: Matt Roe, Carrie, Me Boeve, Josh

Ski Trip to Boyne Mountain: Erin, Me, DeeDee

Random cookie baking at Josh's house

Things continued on this way for awhile, with frequent card games, group dinners, and football games. But then things started to get really interesting when Carrie confessed to me that she, too, had feelings for Josh.

To be continued...

Happy Five Year... Uh... Dating Anniversary?

Do you celebrate the anniversary of when you started dating? We usually don't, especially since it is only a couple months after our wedding anniversary.

However, this year, we both have our eye on something we'd like to purchase that isn't exactly a need. For Josh, it is DVDs of old Michigan games. For me, an ICKY bag on Etsy! Actually, I'll get two of these - one big and one small. Both have waterproof liners and I intend to use them for makeup/toiletries when I travel. Who knows, maybe it will help! So we're calling them five year anniversary of being together presents. Convenient, right?

I'm totally excited for my ICKY bag set! Here is what they'll look like:

Side one:

Other side:
If you, too, are dying for an ICKY bag, check out:

Kelly, who owns and creates the products for Petunias, is actually an old co-worker of mine. Her stuff is adorable!

And while we're on the subject of Josh and my five year dating anniversary (which will be tomorrow, by the way), I think it is about time to tell our story. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Next Generation of Books?

For all of you bookworms out there...

Do you have any interest in "going digital" with your books? Do you have, or plan to get one of these?

Or perhaps you'd be interested in reading books on your iPhone or Blackberry? Or maybe, for you, a book will always consist of printed words on paper that has been bound up.

From both a personal and professional standpoint, I'm extremely interested to see how technology will continue to change the way people purchase, use, read, view, and think about books. I mean, there has already been a significant shift to online book perusing and purchasing. Libraries have also gone digital in some respects, and many have great websites with a lot of capabilities.

And then there's music. I mean, iTunes has significantly influenced the way people consume music. Is it a stretch to think something similar might happen with books?

A Sony Reader is currently on its way to me, and I'm wildly excited about it. I travel a lot and look forward to a time where I can just bring along a slim little machine instead of 4-5 heavy, bulky books. The reader can hold about 160 books, which is great for someone like me who is always in the middle of 4-5 books at any time.

I'll let you know what I think! In the meantime, what are your thoughts on all of this?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I've Come To The Conclusion That...

I'm the world's worst packer.

I had an overnight trip to Illinois yesterday for work, and packed a bag yesterday afternoon. It didn't help that I was distracted and in a hurry, but you'd think that a simple overnight stay wouldn't be too difficult to plan for.

But upon arriving at my Springfield hotel I soon discovered I'd forgotten:
-my glasses
-a toothbrush (but toothpaste I'd somehow managed to bring)
-deodorant (thankfully I had some in the car, however)
-my book

Seriously. I need to get better at this.

Perhaps if I had a certain travel toiletry bag I could be more organized... (just kidding, Josh!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

College Football - Coming Soon!

We're getting totally and completely excited for this to start up again:

We even watched the famed 1997 game against Ohio State yesterday, just because we were in the mood. I just added to my reader.

Less than two weeks, people. College football. Just around the corner.

It makes me do a little dance in my computer chair. Is anyone else out there excited? At all?


Update: After Julie's comment to this point, I desperately need to share the story of "amazing" jello.

A couple of years ago Josh and I decided to have people over to watch one of Michigan's big games. I told my friends Julie and Kara that I'd make U of Michigan-themed cookies and "maize and blue" jello for the big event.

Which then promted this question from the two of them (who do live in the state of Michigan, albiet under a rock):

Amazing Blue jello? What makes it so amazing?

You know, maize and blue? The team's colors?

And with that, I hope you enjoy the "amazing green" (for Sparty of course) jello, Jules.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I don't know what has gotten into me. Really.

But I've been in such a crafty mood lately. My sewing machine, iron, Cricut, and various cutters /hole punchers have been working hard.

In the past three days, I've made:

1. Tags
2. Cards
3. Scrapbook pages (Christmas 2007 is now complete!)
4. Certain sewing projects I can't mention because certain readers of mine may be recipients

And... in a slightly dangerous move, I've gotten into Etsy lately. Tell me you all know about Etsy. For those of you unfamiliar. let me give you a little introduction. Etsy it is a website where people can buy and sell handmade items. This can mean anything from purses (a personal favorite) and clothing, to jewelry, music, and plants (?). Adorable baby stuff, too. Wikipedia calls it:

A cross between Amazon, eBay, and your grandma's basement.

So far I've managed to keep my purchases to a minimum. Just cute fabric - I promise. But seriously - there is some seriously cute stuff. What really makes me laugh is that my friend Julie just posted about how she loves Etsy, too. I read it about an hour after I'd done some significant shopping there myself. About the same time I was concocting the Etsy love-fest you're now reading. Same wavelength, clearly.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

A darling, all purpose bag that just happens to be have a waterproof liner:

Key fob:

And a dog collar for Riley, of course!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Faith Story

I was reading this last week and wanted to share it with you all.

I'm not nearly as eloquent as that blogger when it comes to writing about faith. Nor can I relate my faith journey to personal experiences as a mother, since I'm not one. I don't even know this woman personally. But I love her description of why she continues to trust God. I feel the same way.

And I know from personal experience that He is worth the risk.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happiness Is (Bloomington Style!)...

... being back home!

... seeing our friends again (and those of you who aren't back yet - GET HERE SOON!)

... a trip to the farmer's market (and corn from the stand with the long line)

... a bagel from the Bloomington Bagel Company

... new audio books from the library (I have trips to Jacksonville, IL and Lexington, KY scheduled for next week)

... a chocolate truffle from Blu Boy ( it was totally expensive and really tiny, but absolutely delightful)

... a quiet, beautiful, undergrad-less campus

... dinner at Grazie

... a solo, slow paced trip to Target (which just happens to be right around the corner from us!)

... meeting new Kelley families and welcoming them to town

... a new coffee shop discovery

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fun on Friday - A Meme

I saw this on Tanya's site, and thought it looked like fun.

10 Years Ago...

I was almost 15, and it was summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I was in the midst of driver's training with my cousin, Erin. What an obnoxious 3 weeks of my life!

5 Years Ago...

Josh and I had started to talk on the phone. A lot. I think he even visited me at my parents' house in Grand Rapids (he lived in Ann Arbor at the time) and we talked until 4 am. I was trying to figure out if he had feelings for me that were more than just a best friend, because I knew I had romantic feelings for him! We started dating two weeks later.

5 Months Ago...

We had just returned from our trip to South America. What fun we had in that beautiful part of the world!

5 Things on my list for tomorrow...

1. Head to the Bloomington Farmer's Market (yay!)
2. Watch the Olympics
3. Search for my camera cord (sigh - is losing things like that always inevitable when we move?)
4. Get this place more clean and organized.
5. Take an afternoon nap!

5 Things people don't know about me...

1. I've kind-of gotten into The Secret Life of the American Teenager
2. I burst into Afternoon Delight from time to time
3. I don't like bananas
4. I'm currently putting off housework to do this
5. I used to be really shy

5 Bad Habits...

1. Nail biting
2. Losing everything. My latest struggle = ink pens
3. Putting things off, then forgetting about them
4. Letting the recycling pile up, instead of taking regular trips across town to drop it off
5. Failing to blow dry my hair right after my shower. So I end up with really, really bad hair that I have to go wet down again.

5 Places I've Lived...

1. G-Rap!
2. Bloomington, IN
3. Istanbul, Turkey
4. Ann Arbor, MI
5. Virginia Beach, VA

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nana Ackerman's "Bear Meat" Spaghetti Sauce

After getting back "home" to Bloomington, one of our first orders of business was to whip up a batch of our favorite spaghetti sauce. We'd been craving it all summer, but it requires a large pot to make, and we'd left that behind. I've never been a huge spaghetti fan, but I do feel that this stuff is absolutely delicious and look forward to eating it all day when I know it is on the menu for that evening. I usually even sneak cold spoonfuls if it is in the fridge.

Another thing I like about this recipe is that it makes a boat load. We get somewhere around 5 meals out of it! We freeze over 75% of each batch we make, and it is delightfully easy to pull it back out and heat up for those evenings where we're short on time.

2 lbs ground beef
1 large red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 heaping cup sugar
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
2 15oz cans tomato sauce (we usually go for the herb & garlic kinds)
2 12oz cans tomato paste
2 15oz cans water **Please note: I originally forgot to include this!**

To Prepare:
Brown the ground beef, drain, and then add in chopped veggies and let them saute a little bit together. Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for awhile. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes we add more sugar, or garlic salt, depending on our mood. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, I usually set some aside for that evening's dinner, and then divide up the rest in meal-sized portions and freeze in individual containers.

To Eat:
Heat in a saucepan, and serve over your favorite pasta.

So where does the name come from?
When Josh's dad was a little boy he refused to eat dinner for his grandma, who took care of him from time to time. So to make things a little more enticing, this clever grandma told him that her special spaghetti sauce had bear meat it. The name has stuck for over 50 years!

Favorites: Podcasts

This is a category that I could really use some suggestions for!

As many of you know, I work from a home office most of the time. And when I'm home all day it gets pretty imperative for me to have something going on in the background. I also find myself in the car for long stretches of time, where something good on the iPod is extremely important as well.

When I'm not listening to audio books (and I do love those too!) or music, I often turn to podcasts. Here are my favorites:

1. Far and Away. Hands Down. #1 on my list. I'm totally a This American Life junkie. For those of you who aren't familiar with this award-winning radio program, it consists of a couple of talented hosts/narrators, a theme, and a variety of stories that touch on that theme. Most of the stories are true, and about everyday people. Okay, I just made it sound boring. But the stories are truly fascinating and entertaining, and just super well done overall. The themes? They could be anything from summer camp to breakups to crazy pet lovers to what truly constitutes a fiasco.

If you're on iTunes, you can usually find This American Life at the #1 podcast slot. You're always able to get 1 free weekly download there. If you're willing to listen right from your computer, you can get all kinds of episodes at their website for free too. I'd recommend starting with their favorites section.

2. Dave Ramsey, budget/personal finance guru. We did a Dave Ramsey class at church when we first got married, and enjoyed it. It totally motivated us to live really simply and pay off a car loan and my undergrad loans before Josh started up with school again. I like to listen to Dave to stay energized about our own budget (or get back on the horse when we've fallen off, depending on the month). He talks a lot about debt repayment, savings, and plain-old common sense when it comes to money.

"Where debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice."

And there are always callers that think that maybe, just maybe he'll tell them it is okay to get a leased vehicle or borrow money from family. Really? What ARE you thinking, people?

3. When our favorite show is on, I like to listen to the theories revolving around the plot of LOST at The LOST podcast with Jay and Jack. But alas, it will be awhile before that is back on TV! Any other LOST fans out there? What's the deal with Walt? Will Jack make it back to the island? And how is it that "eye-liner man" (my name for him - his name on the show is Richard Alpert) doesn't age like everyone else?

4. Speaking Of Faith with Krista Tippett, from American Public Media is one I'll listen to from time to time as well. She covers stories on all kinds of different faiths, from Catholic prayer to ancient Paganism. Sometimes she touches on Evangelical topics as well, which I've mentioned before. I always find her to be both talented and objective in the way she portrays things.

Okay, folks - what else is good?

I'd love to find some more Christian faith-based podcasts, but I often times they're a little too deep to be playing in the background of an average work day. When I am in a sermon mood, though, I usually go for Ada Bible Church. I am consistently challenged and encouraged by the excellent teaching there. Also high on my deep, need to focus completely on this podcast because it will change my life list is Ravi Zacharias. But I'd love suggestions for my slightly more light-hearted list.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dancing Queen - Ha!

My cousin passed along some additional pictures from Rebecca's wedding, and I couldn't resist posting them here! Clearly, we had a very good time! Plus, I loved the look of the paper lanterns and lights against the dark sky. Super cute!

Cutting a rug with my Dad

Me, cousin Christina, Mom, Dad - We think obviously think we're pretty cool.
Josh & me
With my pretty cousins Christina and Natasha

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fond PGA Moments

So the PGA Championship was a lot of fun.

Golf is one of those sports that I've always tolerated. I don't get super into it, but I don't hate it either. Josh has always been a huge fan - both playing and watching - and between him and my dad I have been given at least have a working knowledge of the game. It just isn't all that exciting to me. But when we were able to get tickets to the PGA for this past weekend, I was totally on board. I mean, how many opportunties do you get to see a big time sporting event - for free? (Thank you Mom and Dad and Bart, by the way!)

There are a lot of things to enjoy - walking the gorgeous course, watching big name golfers putt, and of course, checking out the gift shop. I could have done without the downpour on Saturday, but what can you do? And who doesn't need an extra shower, really?

Sunday we spent a good chunk of time at the 18th green, watching the players finish up. It was pretty exciting to see this, from pretty close by:

For those of you who don't follow golf, that was Padraig Harrington after he putted in to win.

Another highlight for me, I have to admit, was judging the golfer outfits. I mean, some of them really have some style! Some - not so much. I told Josh I'd really like to see him sporting outfits like Camilo Villegas and Ian Poulter (below). Don't you think he'd look pretty sweet in all black with yellow accents? Or perhaps pink plaid pants?

And while we're on the subject of Villegas, I think it would be pretty hysterical for him to break out the "Spiderman" move the next time he is out golfing with his friends.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Book Signing

Grand Rapids bloggy friends:

Cathleen Falsani, author of Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, will be at Schuler's doing a book signing next week!

I'm totally bummed I can't go. But here are the details in case you can! I really enjoyed this book. Go out and get yourself a copy, and say hi to the author while you're at it.

Date: Tuesday, August 12
Time: 7-8:30
Location: Schuler Books & Music - 2660 28th Street in Grand Rapids, MI

Disclaimer: I don't plan on using this blog to highlight every book and event associated with Z, just the ones I'm personally excited about!

My Review: Messy Spiritualtiy

I really appreciate this book.

While I don’t think it is the last word on Christian spirituality, I appreciate the author’s raw honesty about his own messy spirituality. Goodness knows I’m a mess, too. But I’m learning that I don’t have to have it all together to seek God and to be used by Him.

One aspect of this book I particularly valued was how important it is to be authentic and transparent when it comes to spirituality. I know from experience how easy it is to put up a chipper fa├žade of “everything is great with me and my walk with God.” This book speaks of truly seeking after and following God, and being honest about where and when things aren’t perfect along the way. Faking spiritual perfection doesn’t get us very far, especially because let’s face it, none of us truly has this spirituality thing nailed down. Isn’t that why Christ came? He knew we’d need saving.

I remember one summer I had a spiritual mentor on a missions project. And we just didn’t click well. I didn’t want to share with her what was really going on with me, nor did I want to hear her words of guidance. After weeks of trying to figure out exactly what was wrong in our relationship, I came to realize that I never got to hear about the areas she struggled with. She wasn’t at all transparent with me, and I didn’t want to be open and honest in return.

One day, in a way that I hope was gentle, I told her about this issue. She was remarkably gracious and not a bit defensive, and even beyond that started to share more of herself me. We both grew and were encouraged those last few weeks of the project. As I think about my own ministry, and the lives God might use me to touch, this story reminds me to admit my own imperfections as a way to encourage those around me.

I think true authenticity with others, and vice-versa, can lead to growth.

I don’t think honesty should stop with relationships. Messy Spirituality reminds us to be honest with ourselves, too. Spiritual imperfection is always going to be a reality this side of heaven, and seeking perfect spirituality only causes us to turn our focus inward. I know personally how easy it is to measure my spiritual life against some arbitrary mile marker, and start to focus on doing things – even good things – and forget to simply seek God. I get into “box-checking” mode, and lose focus of my heavenly father.

I can’t say this is my all-time favorite book, but I liked the author’s somewhat, well… messy writing style. I don’t think I agreed with every single point he made, and felt there were some areas of spirituality that could have been delved into further. But there is a lot that I really appreciated about what Mike Yaconelli had to say about the God who is able to meet me where I am and transform me in the midst of my messy, imperfect life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Blogger Moment

I'm home alone this evening, and now that I've packed all I can I thought I'd take a leisurely bath. With a book and a glass of wine.

As my bath was finishing up I started thinking about this blog, and some things I'd like to post in the next couple of days. I sat there with the water draining, coming up with new favorites and remembering stories from childhood I should share and thinking about how I wish I were as funny as David Sedaris.

Before I knew it, I was pulling on my jammies (yes, I still call them that) and it felt a little weird. They weren't going on as easily as they usually do. Then it hit me:

I'd missed the towel step altogether.

Yes, I was so wrapped up in blog thoughts that I pulled clothes onto my sopping wet body with no thought of drying off first. The jammies don't feel so great now - they're still damp - but they're all I have that aren't packed into the trunk of the car. It is like a full body drip dry, if you know what I mean.

Special Surprise!

You may have thought the fun and excitement of the bloggy book giveaway was over, but you'd be wrong!

The generous folks at have added to the fun!

In addition to the $25 Target Gift card, the winner (Lynn!) will receive autographed copies of two of Margaret's books!

I read The Organic God, by Margaret Feinberg over a year ago and really enjoyed it. I remember starting the manuscript on a flight home from Phoenix and not putting it down the entire time. At parts I even started crying and I'm sure my seat mates thought I was nuts. Margaret writes about stripping down her own "polluted" notions of who God is and starting to understand the true nature of who God is. Each chapter is dedicated to a different aspect of His character, such as "big-hearted," "talkative," "generous," and "stubborn." Her writing style is delightfully honest and engaging, and the book is full of introspective, personal stories about her own experiences with her creator. I remember being encouraged and refreshed after finishing the book.

I haven't read The Sacred Echo yet (Margaret's brand new release) but absolutely have it on my list.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Life As It Stands

This is how I currently feel:

Ick. The week is full of packing, cleaning, and work. I have half-finished piles of stuff in a number of places around here, and an ever-growing to-do list. I keep thinking of things I'm sure I'm going to forget to bring home. You know, typical moving stuff. But the upcoming weekend is the bright spot of sunlight on the horizon. I can't wait.

In addition to moving back to Bloomington in FIVE DAYS, we've got some significant excitement planned. Saturday morning, after waving goodbye to our "summer home" we'll be headed to the PGA Golf Tournament with my parents in suburban Detroit.

That evening, we'll head over to Comerica Park for the annual Witte Family Tiger's Game. After crashing with our good friends that night (we love you, Chris and DeeDee!), we'll head out for more golf Sunday morning. Watch for us on TV! Then back down to Indiana we go that evening.

Can you see why I'm excited? I almost feel like I'm 8 again and have just been promised a trip to the zoo in exchange for cleaning my room. It is like adult bribery. Thank you, Lord, for a dose of sweet motivation!

And I'd just like to give a shout-out to my in-laws, who are celebrating their anniversary today. Congratulations!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Erin's Shower

Last Thursday I had another excellent opportunity to celebrate with a different bride-to-be:

My Cousin Erin!

Brooke, Lauren, and I threw her a lingerie shower. A few of her friends joined us for a great time, complete with munchies, drinks, cake, ridiculous games, and lots of presents.

Here are some G-rated pictures of the party:

And to my mom and dad I'd just like to say thanks for letting me use your house for not one, but two lingerie showers in one week!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Congratulations to Mike and Rebecca!

My beautiful, sweet cousin Rebecca got married this past weekend! The entire day was perfect - a joy to be a part of for everyone who was there.

First was the wedding at, well, First. It was a great ceremony that went off without a hitch! Then off to a nearby ministry center for a dinner reception. Guests enjoyed appetizers, games, and adorable favors, and then a nice dinner! Josh and I took off early from that, however, to set up the next part of the celebration:

The backyard party!

Everything about Becca's wedding was wonderful, but I think the party was a highlight for the guests. My uncle and aunt had worked hard to build (yes, build!) a dance floor and cocktail tables, as well as string up lights, get food, and organize all kinds of other details. The entire "party team" did a great job. And the party was a complete and total success. A blast!

What more can you ask for? A happy couple? Check. Beautiful wedding? Check. Fun reception? Check. Rockin' party? Check.

I LOVED the flowers they chose! They looked gorgeous against the dark blue bridesmaids dresses.

The cute couple sneaking a quiet moment before the craziness began.

Elizabeth, the maid of honor, was super excited to sign the marriage license!

The newlyweds headed off to the reception!

All set up for the party to begin! A big thanks to Kathy and Grace, who worked hard to set everything up before the party and take care of all kinds of details during and after the party.

The first dance! They took a couple of lessons and did a fantastic job. Totally romantic!

As the sun started to fade, all the party lights stood out and illuminated the entire backyard. Beautiful! And then we all danced and chatted and ate food dipped in chocolate late into the night.

Rebecca and Mike ~ blessings to you as you start your life together! We're so happy for you. And enjoy Kauai!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Moment You've All Been Waiting For!

The Winners Are:
#1 - Lynn ($25 to Target!)
#2 - Bill (3 new books)
#3 - Jenni (2 new books)

Bill and Jenni, here is your list of "Jessica's Picks" to choose from! Lynn, if you'd prefer books over Target $, you just let me know!

An autographed copy of The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett (my review here)
Sin Boldly by Cathleen Falsani (my review here)
What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist (my review)
Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne (my review here)
The Irresistible Revolutuion by Shane Claiborne
The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg
The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James (my review here)
Rookie Dad by David Jacobsen
The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg