22 years ago...

Twenty-two years ago this month (July 1988) I met Steve. I was a 21 year old girl from Atlanta who'd never been to Chicago before...I got off of the plane with two other girls from Atlanta on an adventure we weren't expecting - we were headed to Summer Institute of Evangelism, hosted by Youth for Christ, at Rockford College. We got to Chicago on Saturday night. We went to Hard Rock Cafe and stayed in a very questionable hotel, that in retrospect still makes me cringe.

Sunday we headed off to Rockford. We arrived mid-afternoon. Summer Institute was actually a two-week training, but we were only able to go for one week (we had a trip with our students in Jekyll Island) during the first week. So, when we arrived at Rockford College on Sunday afternoon, the majority of the SI class that summer had already been there for a week, and Sunday was the "day-off". We were directed to where our dorms were, and told that a small group of people had hung around campus for the day and were playing volleyball... so we dropped off our stuff to our rooms, and headed off to the volleyball court.

Now...make note: if you know me at all you know I'm not good at sports. I love sports - but I'm so much not the participant kind of person. I have the best of intentions and most honestly, I wish I could say I was good at some sport. But I'm not. I can't throw a football, or barely a frisbee. I'm not a runner. Tennis is not my game...actually now that I think about it - I was pretty decent at racquetball --- it didn't matter where I hit the ball so much because it could bounce off the walls and still be "in". (OK, tangent...reign it in Michelle...) All that to say - I stunk (and still stink) at volleyball as well.

We walk towards the volleyball court (outdoor) and literally I stop in my tracks. Not out of fear, not because I forgot something. I turned to the girls and said (seriously I said this exact thing)... "That's the most incredible specimen of the entire male species on the face of the earth and I'm going to marry him someday." And that was it. They laughed. I smiled. And then I proceeded to join in a game of volleyball that I horrendously messed up, but all the while this amazing guy encouraged me and tried his best to help me play. By the end my forearms were bruised beyond belief, and I helped in no way whatsoever. But I'd met Steve. And it was a day that changed my life forever. (July 3, 1988)

Here we are, in Salem, Oregon - and later this year we will be celebrating our 20 year anniversary. He's the bestest ever. He's truly the one God created for me to spend my life with... I know it without any doubt whatsoever.

I realized while writing my last post that most of my "new world" of Oregon doesn't know these old old stories of our life... so, you may see more of these in the future...we'll see.

Today we get to go to a wedding. I love weddings. To watch two people commit their lives to each other and celebrate God joining them together as husband and wife...and... Because inevitably at some point in the ceremony I turn and look at Steve and thank God that he's my husband...the love of my life...my lobster.


Moes... (not that Mo's...)

We love Moe's. Now, when you say that in Oregon, people say - "we love Mo's too." We're talking about two different places. Don't get me wrong - they're both good and have food we really enjoy...but Moe's (with an E) is a longtime favorite of our family.

Mo's in Oregon means yummy seafood on the coast. Most typically it means clam chowder in Lincoln City or Florence
or somewhere else. And Kaylee's mouth starts to water any time we mention heading to the coast with the high hopes that the yummy goodness that a bowl (not just a cup) is, and how she doesn't want to share with anyone else. I don't blameher. It's good. What also is good about Mo's is that typically we are with people we truly care about. It could be our family who comes to visit, or those who are like family (technically you'd call them friends), and never ever is there a dull moment or a lull in conversation (except when our mouths are full of chowder - personally, I get a cup of chowder and get the fish n' chips (halibut) - YUM!

Like I said ... don't get me wrong. Mo's is good. But more often we say,
we love Moe's (with an E). Moe's Southwest Grill. I think Moe's is as much food as it is the community that comes with it. You could say it's kinda like Chipotle (and I like Chipotle...but it's not Moe's). One
of my favorite parts of Moe's is that when you walk in the door the employees call out "Welcome to Moe's" and I honestly think they are the ones who started this now more popular tradition. I liken it to when Norm would walk into Cheers (if you can remember that one). It's like you belong. And they may not know my name, but I know theirs, and I know it's gonna be GOOD!!! If you're in Atlanta, Moe's is all over the place!! Go!!! And if you're in Oregon - we have ONE! Just one!! So GO!! It's in Wilsonville - the same exit as the Target & Costco (in the strip with Subway). I just love it. I do.

One of my favorite Noah memories is when he was about 2 and a half, and has everything to do with Moes. We had made him a fireman room for his 2nd birthday - complete with firehouse wall mural, dalmatian, fireman suit, etc. He also had one of those fireman toddler beds. He was
in his room and I went back to check on him. I quietly open the door to see him standing ON TOP of the cab of the firetruck bed brandishing a foam sword (he was loving pirate stuff then too) calling out at the top of his lungs "Welcome to Moe's...uh-oh". He thought he was caught doing something wrong. I was in such hysterics because it was so stinkin' cute...it just didn't matter. Sure, I made him get down, but for life when they say "welcome to Moes" I picture my little man so cute, small and proud standing at the top of his bed fully embracing his imagination and having the time of his life.

I can think of lots of other places that are favorite places to eat...and almost always (to the chagrin of the restaurant) it's much more about the experience than just the food. Oh Steve and I have plenty of bad restaurant experiences (almost always bad on anniversary dates, or just regular dates - it's pretty humorous), but those places that feel like home are just as much about who we've gone there with, or where we went there from, or where we were headed...in addition to the food.

So, add to the list (as crazy as it will sound to some of you) - Chick-fil-A!! (OK, the food there is fab too!), Waffle House, The Lime Inn (amazing food), and of course... Moes! What food place brings out great memories for you??


In honor of...

I'm still grateful today... and I've been singing a different song a good bit of the day... It's not necessarily the most current, or the most slick, and it's probably even a little a hokey, ok, probably a lot... I just am grateful... So to all my friends out there --- thanks for all the things you do, big and small, the incredibly significant or seemingly insignificant, for deep talks and passing chats, for listening and laughing, for all of what we've done, experienced and lived together ... My world is totally different and amazing because of each of you ---

...and Steve, you're the tip-top of that list!! love you lobster!!!


Just grateful...

Today was a hectic day for many reasons...and at different times today God brought just the right person along my path to say just the right thing to get me through the moment...or even bring me a Coke and a smile. (Thanks friend!) It was a day God knew exactly what I'd need, and when I'd need it. It's actually like that every day...I just can so easily slide through and not realize it. That's not to say the day was terrible, or to say it was fabulous... I'm just saying there's a grand holy unbelievably amazing God who is watching out for me...and for you. On those days when it may not feel like it, remember the days that it does. Today was one of those days.

Several songs have been playing through my head today: Blessed Be Your Name, Lord You are Good, Surrender (it's old school, can't even find it online), Beautiful Things, You are Stronger, Disappear (by Out of the Gray...one of my favs!!) ... just to name a few...

What song helps get you through the day? The good and the bad days... I'd love to know...


Whatcha reading??

I like to read. I remember about a year ago saying I wanted to read more. Little did I know how that little hope would come true. As I mentioned then I'm surrounded at work by learners --- people who just soak up written word - I haven't always been the best at it... I remember in high school finding out before summer break what the required reading was for the following year, because I knew I would never read it when I "had" to... I'd read books over the summer (in addition to the other summer reading required), then when it came time to discuss it for class I'd skim it trying to remember.

Now --- I'm reading a bunch. I admit - a bunch of it is for school. Wait - have I mentioned that anywhere?? OK - 3 steps back. I'm a student at Crown College. (Steve loves saying he's married to a co-ed!) I have not yet completed my bachelors degree, and am on schedule to finish May 2011. I've thought about finishing it a couple of times in the past, but I'm in the midst of applying for licensing with the C&MA, and one requirement is 30 hours of Bible, of which I had none, prior to last October. Now, I'm finished with a year of school, and have a 3.84 GPA, and will have my bachelors degree in Christian Ministry next spring. Classes last 5 weeks each and at times, yes, it's a challenge to get everything done. Good thing I'm a night owl!

Anyway --- one of the things I get to do is read. Going to school has really challenged me not to just take things at face value, like the topics we're discussing, but to really dig in deeper to what I'm learning about. At times, I'll be honest, I haven't necessarily loved the book we were reading so I'd go find another one on the topic to read. Balance that with reading other things for work, reading with the kiddos, and trying to read just for the fun of it...WHEW!!! (NOTE: Kaylee has been a reading machine this summer...and Noah read 3 chapters of a Magic Tree House book to himself tonight! WOW!)

OK...so what have I been reading. Here's a few that I've read in the last couple of months. (OK, it may go back to last fall). (I tried to do pics of each of these covers...and it's just not looking like I want... so, here's a list instead... in no particular order!)

Same Kind of Different as Me, Denver Moore and Ron Hall
66 Love Letters, Dr. Larry Crabb
Axiom, Bill Hybels
Gifted to Lead, Nancy Beach
Crazy Love, Francis Chan
Forgotten God, Francis Chan
Just Walk Across the Room, Hybels
Do Hard Things, Alex & Brett Harris
Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer
Strengthfinders, Tom Rath
Church Unique, William Mancini
Living by the Book, Howard Hendricks
Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore
Lillian Trasher, and other missionary biographies
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (try Blink & The Tipping Point too!)

Here's a few on my list...
Radical, David Platt (just started it)
Parenting from the Pew, Castleman
Plan B
The American Church in Crisis, David T. Olson
Cold Tangerines...and Bittersweet (right Bex??)

I know I have more, but that's what I can remember... what have you read lately? What should I add to my list?? Hmmm... maybe we could have a blog off about books... maybe in 41 days... =)


40 days...starting now...

Last night at dinner, Bex came up with the idea... and before she finished the sentence I knew it... we would do it. So here we are - day 1 of 40 days of... BLOGGING!!! (I wonder what you thought I was going to say - fasting, vacationing, Phinneas & Ferb-ing (although they had 104 days of summer vacation...). Day 1 - 40 days - 1 post every day. It's the challenge - the wondering what everyone else will talk about. I needed to be "spurred on" to get this blog going. Why is it that it's so hard to get in the swing of it?? Sometimes ideas just flow and I go on and on...or I do 3 posts in one day. Can't you pre-post something to post on another day? I should do that... (OK, I'm rambling...let me move on).

I suppose if I'm thinking about 40 days, I should look back over the last 40 days - especially since I didn't blog about ANY of it. =( June 16th. The last day of school for the kids. That does make a good place to start I guess (and it's Phineas & Ferb-ish too...)

Kaylee & Noah are now in 4th & 2nd grade!! They let me know this as soon as they walked out of the school. They are such a blessing!! We've had so much fun just hanging out together --- making projects, doing experiments, playing at the park, reading, reading, reading. Kaylee has been quite a reading monkey lately!! She doesn't want to sleep at night so she can read. So adorably cute. Noah is starting to love reading too...he's got to be in the right mood for it, but he's doing great - one night I walked up the stairs to put them to bed, and Kaylee's on her bed reading...and Noah's in his room reading. I tried to take a pic, but the view just wasn't quite wide enough --- but the pic in my head is just perfect for me!

I've kept busy with church stuff too... wrapping up The Link for the year, LIFE 2010 (a week in kentucky with high school students), Youthquake (a week of middle school camp - well, I went for the afternoon/evening stuff - got to lead experiential rotations one night and speak one night too...humbling...), Give a Shirt, youth center improvements planning, new middle school resources planning... and the list goes on... I continue to learn that fine balance of life & ministry. (Of course, there are lots of people at church busier than me these days as the clock is ticking on the opening of Broadway Commons, the new community/life center opening up September 11-12. So exciting!!!)

Steve held "Camp Pathetic" while I was gone in Kentucky! He'll have to blog about this (he was there...)... but it's his week of filling his and the kids schedule with every possible thing to do close to here while I'm out of town - camping, fishing, crabbing, water parks, carousel, picnics, movies, literally 2-3 activities every day --- which when I get home and spend the day with the kids, I'm chopped liver comparatively because he's so fabulous!! I don't mean that bad AT ALL!!! I love that he builds these memories into their lives...and makes the most out of the time he embraces me and the ministry we're a part of. He's the most supportive, encouraging, amazing guy in the whole wide world. I'm so blessed to be his wife.

School came to an end for this term too. I finished my first year @ Crown (technically I guess my junior year of college) with a 3.84 gpa. Not too bad for being out of school for such a long time. Classes start back August 23 --- and I confess, the time off has been great!

Anyway - that's a whirlwind look at what has been a part of our worlds the last 40 days --- and in no way does any complete justice... I wonder what the next 40 days holds for us?? They actually are pretty significant. Visits from in-laws and a dear friend, a trip to Seattle, Youth Center renovations/improvements, the end of the Nike era, preparing for a new school & ministry year, birthday just beyond that, and lots and lots of loving on my kids and hubby. That too is just a glimpse of what's to come. He's the only one who knows all of it... OK Lord - whatever comes my way, we will do it together.


(OH...if you want to follow along --- Erik, Becca, and Jeanne-Ann are all blogging... Steve is in too, but is waiting until the Nike era is over to start his 40 days... and... IF YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS OF WHAT YOU'D LIKE ME TO BLOG ABOUT, LET ME KNOW!!! AND... if you want to join in for the 40-day blog challenge --- be sure to give me your blog address so I can follow along!!!)

©2009 Until... | by TNB