Learning to Stop, and Love

The other morning as I was driving to work, I was talking to my sweet husband. He had decided to give his day off-after a long hard week- to paint furniture for our new apartment.

I’m so incredibly blessed by him, it was supposed to hit the 90’s, and furniture painting isn’t the most fun of activities… I had helped him back on Memorial Day and 6 chairs and 3 coats later I was more than done with it!

So all of this to say, my husband is awesome, and yet I am so so far from it.

On the phone he asked me a question and I thought it was a silly one- I pointed it out and got on the weirdest little soapbox, as if I was performing for the debate team.

My case was solid from every direction, backed up with facts and snarky comments… until Tap broke in and tore my case apart with one line.

“Honey.. it was just a question, you don’t have to treat me like a moron.”

And Smack.

For a moment I was rolling around in my own glory and the feeling of being right, to find I was just rolling in the mud of pride and self-righteousness.

For a moment I was rolling around in my own glory and the feeling of being right, to find I was just rolling in the mud of pride and self-righteousness.

Such an ugly pride.

It hurt, because I had hurt him and he was right.

I need to learn how to stop.

People rarely need a reminder of their faults and shortcomings. We are all so aware already- burying ourselves in grief. We do not need to add a single thing to this pile of self-loathing in ANY way.

But rather we should lift this burden off others, especially our men. And begin to build them up.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

Stop rolling around in the feeling of “being right” to only come up filthy. Let us stop our silly debate teams, soap boxes, and self-righteous monologues, and start being cheerleaders, builders, teammates, and dreamers.

 

Thank you honey, for painting the rest of the furniture. For being my team mate in making a house a home. You are strong, talented, and becoming quite the handy man!

Love,

Emilie

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Memories of the Table

“They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.”

Acts 2:46, The Message

After living with my parents for 6 months, my husband and I finally found a place to rent and call home! We don’t get to move in until July, but we are so excited that we keep dreaming of ways to make it ours.

Now that our space will allow it, we wanted to get a bigger kitchen table- Bigger to have more loved ones around, to throw more dinner parties at, to fill with boisterous laughter, tears of sincerity, and meaningful conversation.

A table to nourish the bellies and hearts of others.

Memories

We found a table in the liquidation section of a local furniture store, bargained down to a whopping’ $50 bucks! Once Tap had sanded it down we were ready to paint!

We spent our Memorial Day painting together. Beginning the table with memories and love… We listened to a sermon on Spiritual Gifts, and discussed new ways we could use ours. We painted as visitors came and watched in the shade. Neighbors visited and complimented our handiwork. Then we celebrated our team work with some hard-earned ice-cream.

I can already think back at other special memories that took place at a table…

We would stay up late in college studying and writing term papers there.

The Waffle Club would sit around that table laughing over telephone pictionary games gone awry.

At a table, we ate breakfast and shared our engagement story with our family.

We’ve had friends, families, pastors, bikers, musicians, teenagers, students, workers… all at our table.

I can’t wait to see what other memories will pop up at this table! …Especially as we begin to eat and break bread there.

What project could you and your husband do together to create teamwork and memories? What sweet moments have you shared at a table?

Comfort or Impact?

Since Tap and I made the decision to move from Ohio back to Illinois, I would be lying if I didn’t say I’ve gotten cold feet a few times.

In many ways it feels like we are moving backwards instead of forwards- Moving back into my parent’s home, making less money in a less passionate field of work (for the time-being), and Tap is still seeking employment.

But my friends reminded us that we aren’t “moving backwards,” we are simply re-adjusting our path.  Making a few turns forward, rather than turning around and retreating all-together.

Courtesy of Jean-Frederic Fortier at StockSnap.io

They encouraged me, and reminded me that all of this was to straighten our path back out so that we could seek the true goal- to be in alignment with God’s will and make an impact for His Kingdom.

 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Over the last couple of years, our goal had changed. Our goal was to obtain comfort.

We had plans to pay off our school debt- a worthy goal -but that goal was driven by a motivation to travel more, upgrade our possessions, and buy more stuff…

I wanted to see Italy, Greece, and Ireland. We talked about our priorities being a new car, then a new computer, then a new whatever. Once debt was out of the way, we would have a new flow of income that would sustain our hobbies and desires.

Again, these are ok things and things we still want, but our focus had gotten off-track.  Our goal was comfort instead of impact.

We have chosen to go back to school so that we can have a bigger impact.

In times of cold-feet, I hear whispers that say: “You can’t teach.” “You’ll get another degree that you’ll never use.” “You are being foolish, wasting so much money and time… again.”

I believe this is the fear talking…  It would be a lot more comfortable to NOT go back to school, to NOT have to pay for an education, to NOT work or study or try.  But staying comfortable usually results in less impact.

As uncomfortable as it is, I want to live a life of impact.

And for me, I think that means moving to Illinois, studying hard, and getting another degree. A degree that will help me pour into the college students (the age many lose faith), to equip them with God’s word and wisdom, and to send them forth into the world- multiplying impact through a classroom.

This has been stirring in our hearts and minds…. a seed of an idea planted in us. That we’ve decided to water with a lot of prayer and a little action. Please pray with us as we weigh our options and make these big decisions.

How do you influence the world around you? What impact are you making on the people in your life? How can you multiply and deepen that impact?

We are Moving! From Ohio to Illinois

Yesterday our church announced that Tap handed in his resignation at TCN to pursue a calling to move back to Illinois.

Moving fromOH to ILAfter losing my job at the end of September, we felt a lot of strings had already been cut for us… it was just a matter of choosing to loosen a few more or to bind new ones.

The decision was not an easy one, and it was not made quickly. We have been praying earnestly and wanted to be sure that this calling was from God, not merely our own thoughts or desires.

However, in-time we felt a lot of peace, nudges, and signs that this was the right direction for this season in our life.

I was nudged out of my job. Our hearts were stirred to minister to the people we know and love in Illinois in more tangible ways.  Passions to pursue higher education were fanned by Tap’s first seminary class and walking on campus again in October. Affirmation from congregation members spoke life into my desire to become a professor of Biblical Studies.

Blogs, devotions, speakers, podcasts, books, sermons… they were all lining up with a similar message to Take a Leap of Faith. To dive in and Remake Your Life.

Although we are excited for this new adventure, we want you to know how much we have appreciated our time in Ohio.

TCN took a leap of faith in my husband, offering Tap his first full-time job in Worship Ministry. He was able to learn and grow in a loving environment. He was challenged to balance hymns and contemporary music; to schedule, nurture, and disciple individuals; to play any and every instrument when needed; and to organize and develop a culture of integrity and greatness out of reverence to our God who deserves our best.

Marriage Works OH! took a leap of faith in me, offering me my first full-time job as a supervisor- and in a field I was passionate about! I was able to study marriage and relationships and share what I learned in college and at work with teams of marriage educators. I was able to teach classes to couples who were hanging by a thread using the class as their last effort to save their marriage, and to teach others who wanted to start their marriage prepared, and even more who were just excited to kick their romance up a notch. I loved the opportunity to pour into these marriages directly, and indirectly through the supervision of my team.

We are so thankful for the opportunities to grow, learn, and serve here in Ohio. And there are plenty of people we will miss- who poured themselves into us while we were here.

In the next few weeks, our last few days, we plan on leaving strong. Giving it all we got, so that our impact can outlast our presence. We still care and pray for the ministries we are leaving behind, but we look forward to the new as well. The new lives that await us; Lives that God has tilled in preparation for the seed He’s asked us to plant.

We would love for you to continue to be a part of our lives in prayer and support of this new journey.

Thank you for everything!

Our Christmas Story

As everyone starts making their way back to work, we ask one another, “How was your Holiday?” “How was Christmas?”  It is so hard to summarize the answer in the snippet they are really asking for, but to put it shortly: it was wonderful and too short!

The Christmas Eve service went so well that an old pastor came up and thanked my husband for his hard work, saying it was “the best Christmas Eve service my wife and I have seen.”  What a compliment!  I am so proud of my husband, who worked endlessly to pull together a team and a service to truly reflect the true Christmas story.  He worked hard to keep his focus on Christ during all of the extra practices and late nights.  Opening with a devotional and prayer, he tried to point everyone’s eyes up.  After the service we left in a pre-packed car and headed to Illinois.

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We pulled in at an early 11:30pm, with my parents and brothers waiting up.  Crashing into our beds shortly after, and waking to the traditional jingle bells in the morning, it was Christmas.  This year we slowed down our festivities to watch every single gift be opened.  It was wonderful pacing it down and seeing the excitement and joy spread on everyone’s face.

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With paper-crowns adorning everyone’s head, we had the traditional brunch .  We watched nieces and nephews open all their toys.  They cried with appreciation, and jumped with joy.  Siblings grabbed their stockings and tore open all the trinkets others had lovingly chosen.

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My most-surprising gift came from the most surprising person, my 16 year old nephew, Noah.  Noah worked at DQ over the summer and saved his money up to buy me a very big and special present.  He handed me a large box and I immediately thought of the times he spent teaching me how to long-board.  I once mentioned to him that I’d buy his board if he ever upgraded…. But as I began to open it, it wasn’t his board inside.  It was a beautiful sandy blonde board that looked just like a retro surf board, one I had spoken of before.  He had bought me a brand new board, with custom trucks and my favorite colour turqouise wheels.  He picked each piece and put it together himself.  The hand-me-down would have shocked me, but this selfless thoughtful gift had made me cry.  I am so very thankful for the relationship I have with Noah, and I wish I could be closer to be the cool aunt he could come run to when he needed advice.  Although I am states away, his selfless gift told me he was close to me anyways. I am pretty sure I cried at the overwhelming love I felt, and I am holding back tears now.

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I can’t wait to move closer to my family that I love so much.  I want to longboard with my nephew, have sleepovers with my niece, to do karate with my brother… Someday that will be my Christmas gift.

IMG_7716IMG_7712But just look at all these happy faces!

Into the New Year

In the last couples years the end of December snuck up on us.  It would jump out from behind the corner, and with no plans in our pockets, we’d come into the new year with no bang… just a little sparkling cider.

This year Tap wanted to be sure to have some sort of outing… He was ready for any excuse to get up and get out and do something a little different.  When we looked back at the many ways we did and did not celebrate new years, one of our favorites was going to a theatre for a back to back feature.  We saw The Tourist and Rapunzel in the same night, loving both movies in two very different ways.  So we decided to take our party to the theatre again.  This year we went to see Into the Woods, which features Johnny Depp and Rapunzel, how ironic.

My husband and I are pretty savvy to the hustle and bustle of New Years; So we ate at home to avoid waiting in a cold breezeway for an hour at a restaraunt, and we offered to arrive at the movies an hour before the show to save seats for our friends.  Once at the theatre we were put in a que for our show.  We were all set!  Our favorite theatre happens to have $5.50 tickets on Wednesday nights, despite the holiday!  We got our favorite seats, perfectly eye level to the screen smack-dab in the center.  We even had a coupon for our concessions, leaving my husband happy with his buttery finger-licking salty popcorn.

After the movies we stood in the lobby and discussed our favorite parts (which was unanimously “Agony”), laughed, and went home for a romantic kiss at midnight.  We gave a toast along with the only tradition we’ve ever held, sparkling grape juice.

EmTap Christmas

This Saturday we celebrated our fourth married Christmas! Since we got married in December, Christmas seems to have an added sentimental value.  It’s hard to celebrate such a joyful and memorable holiday without reminiscing over the ways we’ve changed over the years or how we celebrated in the past.

When we were dating, Tap was the first boyfriend of mine to ever stop by my house on Christmas day.  He swayed his hips to the beat of Dance Central, our hit family Christmas present that year.  When we were dating, we never swapped gifts, but always went on dates instead.  We celebrated by snowskiing in Northern Illinois.  During the ski-trip, we were taking a hot-cocoa break, and this was the first time Tap let me in on the notion of wanting to marry me.  He tells me now, that it was “the moment” he knew.  He took my sapphire ring off my right hand, and slipped it onto my left ring finger telling me, “Someday I’ll be putting a ring on this finger…” The next December we got hitched!

Ski Trip 2010

Our first married Christmas was a mere week from our honeymoon in Kauai.  I had hand-knit him a scarf and hand-painted a popcorn bowl which he still wears and uses today.  He made me a small scrapbook of the many ways he loves me, and filled my stocking with other things.

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The second Christmas, and our one year anniversary, we went snowskiing again; This time in Steamboat Colorado.  I bought him a used pair of snowski’s, and he gifted a beautiful green amethyst necklace to me for our anniversary.

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Christmas number three was our first Christmas away from Illinois.  Just the two of us celebrated with Christmas cookies from a local bakery, hot cocoa, and a gift swap.  We were in Ohio until he wrapped up his first Christmas Eve production, and we hit the road for a long 5 hour trip racing to hit the bed before Santa came.

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This year was Christmas Four!  We got up, ate cookies, drank hot chocolate, stayed in our pajamas, opened presents, watched a movie, and spent the whole day being lazy and loving one another.

…But I am going to be honest.  Christmas isn’t always picture perfect. Unfortunately this year, I was hormonal and grumpy.

I love Christmas, but I struggle with the materialism, the over-hyped anticipation, and the unrealistic expectations that influence my happiness.  I hated myself for being one of those.  I let myself take my life and the gifts for granted, I let myself get distracted from the true meaning of Christmas.  Not only that, but I even struggled with holding on to our special married meaning that Tap and I have created over the years.  After looking back I think it was a combination of things: breakdown from stress, being hormonal, selfishness, and distraction.  Yes there are things I could not have controlled or changed, but I could have- and eventually did- choose to react in a more positive way.

The moment I let go of me, and refocused on God- His ultimate gift, and His personal gift to me-my husband, our little celebration got better.  I am so thankful for my husband, who tirelessly encouraged me, and spiritually led me to the manger this Christmas.  If you feel yourself getting wrapped up in a bahumbug, stop and pray, and refocus on the true blessing this season.

Another December in Chicago

We enjoyed our trip so much last year, that we decided to do it all over again! Repeating favorites like: Breakfast at the Sunnyside Up cafe, Christkindl Market downtown, a Broadway show, and Harry Carry’s for a nice dinner out.  Needless to say, our expectations were not disappointed. The revisit lived up to it’s memory!

Macy's Christmas Windows

At Macy’s Christmas Windows

Here I finished a Ghirardelli's Hot Fudge Sundae with no help at all :)

Here I finished a Ghirardelli’s Hot Fudge Sundae with no help at all 🙂

My parents at Harry Carry's Italian Steakhouse

My parents at Harry Carry’s Italian Steakhouse

This time around we went to see Disney’s The Newsies!  I have been waiting around 2-3 years for this show to make it’s way from New York to Chicago, and was relishing in every second of the production.  I believe Broadway takes you back to the years of the silver-screen, when the true stars shined.  These stars have the whole package: singing, acting, choreography, tap dancing… They are packed with talent!  After the show, I decided that Newsies would have to be one of my all-time favorite stage shows seen to date.  The only problem I had was trying not to compare Jack to Christian Bale’s performance in the 1992 film.  Otherwise, I was thrilled and enamored with the dancing! I couldn’t stop talking about it when we got back to the hotel.

Newsies! at the Chicago Oriental Theatre

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Three new stops were added to our list this year. First up, was lunch at Panes Bread Company. This was a bit north of water tower place, but still in the city. Their bread was delicious, and out of the four of us, we all would go back.  It was the perfect fresh sandwich shop, but beware they are big! My husband and I would have preferred to split after we saw the size, yet we still finished our plates because of how scrumptious it was!

Panes Bread Company

Next was a little jewelry store we discovered back in August called Nakamol. Although small, this place is full from floor to ceiling with beautiful handcrafted pieces.  Earrings, Necklaces, Bracelets, long or short… they have it all.  Nakamol sells to big retail companies like Nordstrom’s and VonMaur, but this is their ONLY location that sells direct.  While we were there, there was a charming sales-lady to help us.  She welcomed our husbands to her “man’s corner” with chairs and magazines.  While deciding between several bracelets, she informed me that one of the ones in my hand was a “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday” bracelet.  Once I chose it, she showed me five ways to wear it.  She also took several beautiful necklaces and put them on my mom saying, “Mama needs a necklace too, look, how beautiful!”  She even complimented my complexion, informing me that I could put anything in my hands and my skin would sell it for me.  She was a hoot!  As we were leaving she hollered for all the ladies in the store to vote, she introduced us to another customer and said, “If this were the last day on the planet, which earring would you wear?”  After everyone voted and it was a 50/50 split she announced, “Ah! You need both!!”  It was hard to walk out of there and not buy “one more thing” for a friend!

Nakamol Chicago

The third city find was SohoStyle across from Free People inside Water Tower.  They had beautiful hairclips! Normally, I would have walked right past them… since Kiosks usually have garage-sale trinkets, but my mom pulled me in.  Their clips were beautiful accents and appear very well made.  The associates would arrange my hair with several clips and assist me with a handheld mirror so that I could see what they had done.  I walked away with two clips: a magnetic snowflake, and a crystal bow.  Both will be classic accessories that I will pull out often.

 

Overall, we had a fantastic time! It went by fast, but we got to see a lot in just two days.  The best part was being with my parents, feeling the holiday joy, enjoying a whole city decked out, and doing a little shopping never hurt!

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Seeking Fellowship

It will be two years in March since my husband and I uprooted our lives and moved – for the first time – away from family. That means, it has been nearly two years of breaking ground in Ohio. Slowly letting our walls down; Sharing pieces of our history, our lives, of ourselves.  It has been painstakingly slow!

The pastor shared with us, that in his history, it takes about 3-5 years to find your place after a move.  To truly feel connected, at peace, accepted, and a part of something bigger than yourself.  These are desires that everyone has at some level.  Desires that are heavily sought, slowly accomplished, and hard to actualize.

At times it will feel like we have made large strides! Then it all stops, and there will be a large expanse of passing months where we have had little to no connection outside each other.  It is hard to keep inviting, sharing, and pulling back our skin- laying ourselves open, when it seems we are the only one’s doing so.

Perhaps we are intimidating.  I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone has assumed that the worship pastor and his wife are surely already connected.  Those easy-going outgoing extroverts have got to have some cool friends, right?  We’re getting there, but we could use a little help!  We want the same thing you do, and we are running ourselves ragged to get it.

We try, and then we retreat.  We pull back in, and try to recoup from the frustrations and heartache, or simply the emotional exhaustion of it all.  We are sorry if we seem distant.  I’m sorry if we are too busy, but we are trying.

Just like you, we are looking for fellowship.  A group of friends with a shared belief, interests, and lifestyle.  Someone we can run to, people who would want to run to us.  People we can laugh with, cry with, and count on.  In the words of Anne, with an e, I am looking for my bosom friend.

So you’re not alone, and I am sure we are not alone either.  Perhaps, the people you think are already connected, cliqued, and too far gone, are the same people looking back at you with desperate and hungry eyes.  Everyone is looking for fellowship and connection… and we are looking right past each other.

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

1 Corinthians 13:11-14

Lonely

Have you ever wondered what it was like to work in ministry? I mean worked, like the vocational this is my source of income type of work, not the volunteer in your free-time type(which is awesome, but that’s not what this post it about). I’m talking about the full-time, twenty four-seven, never really stops salaried type of ministry! The type were you find yourself lying awake late Saturday night thinking about every aspect of the service wondering if you forgot to get something prepared. Finding yourself thinking about who has what surgery when and where, or how you will possibly find time to connect with over one hundred and fifty people and, by the grace of God, remember their name or even how to spell it correctly. What about finding time to have friends, and most importantly finding the time to make your family a priority in your life. The demands never end and the clock essentially resets every Monday.

But have you ever wondered what it was like to be a Pastor or his wife? Have you ever wondered how lonely it must be for them. They unrooted their lives to come and serve in an area that they are more than likely unfamiliar with and nine-out-of-ten times they probably do not know anyone. Now, don’t get me wrong, church people are great, genuine, caring people. They give you cards, they welcome you, they might even show up to help you move in(Score!). But beyond the chocolates, gift-cards, and the “we’re glad you are here” sayings is the deep desire to be included, have friends, and feel connected.

I want my wife to feel included. It may be lonely for me on the platform, but think about how lonely it is for my wife out in the congregation. I want someone to reach out and truly know her for who she is and because they really want to, not because they feel like they have to. Yeah she’s the Pastor’s wife, but that doesn’t mean she is automatically connected. It’s lonely in ministry. It’s lonely to reach out to countless individuals and have them over for lunch, but rarely have the offer returned. It’s lonely to continually put yourself out there and receive silence. It’s lonely to be left on the outskirts because we don’t have kids, or we aren’t athletic, or because we look trendy, or because of our age. It’s lonely to serve and give so much to receive so little. We desire authentic connections and deeply-rooted relationships.

We want the church to be a place where we look forward to being, a place where Sunday brings hope, and where we can grow in fellowship with other believers. It’s hard work, but the burden becomes lighter when we have friends to help us along the way.

Signed,

A Lonely Pastor and his Wife