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Hello, Monday

Good morning!

By the time you read this, it's likely I've had my second (or third) cup of coffee.


It's likely I'm looking for a time to slip in a workout

and I probably haven't showered yet.

(I will, though!)

It's likely I don't have a lot set in stone for the day because Mondays are good days to ease into the week if it's possible

but there's lots I'm looking forward to this week, 

like... out Equal Exchange valentines until every last one is gone (although I'm tempted to keep some of the chocolate for myself!)

...going to my nephew's basketball game(s). I haven't seen him since before Nolan was born!

....finishing up level 2 of the 30 Day Shred and moving on to level 3....Yikes. I'm a little nervous, but I can also tell I'm getting stronger. The getting stronger thing is what has me continuing with the shred. I'm a little obsessed with strength these days.

... going for a walk, maybe?! If it's "warm" enough, I'll be bundling both me and Nolan up to enjoy the sunshine while we can.

...another Bikram yoga class and a few more hours to work on my "courage" project. (<--I'm loving this! The hours fly by when it's just me and my computer and my fair trade agenda.)

...oh, and another visit to a local Spanish church. Did I mention that Tim, Nolan, and I are going there? We are. And no, we don't know Spanish (yet), but we're working on it. Getting to know the language, the culture, and the people is something we've been talking about for awhile...we've decided it's time for us to move past the talking phase. (We almost chickened out but are so glad we didn't!)

So that's a bit of my world.

How about you? What are you looking forward to this week?

I'm linking up with Lisa Leonard's Hello, Monday series.


Big Girl Pants

Sometimes I write because I want to remember.

I don't really like showing up at parties alone. I'm not that girl that can crack a great joke at a moment's notice. I'm not the life of the party, I'm not particularly outgoing, and I'm usually at least a little uncomfortable the first time I meet someone.

In other words, I'm a gem.


In the past year (or less. or more), I have learned to put on my big girl pants. I have attended several events that included only one person I knew- the guest of honor. Which means I really had no one to lean on for back-up when I was feeling particularly shy, because guests-of-honor are usually pretty busy making the rounds. To everyone . Not just me.


Every single time I pulled on those pants I had an absolutely great time. I stretched out of my shell, and most importantly, I didn't miss something big just because I'm insecure or because "no one else I know is going." That feels really good.

This morning, Tim informed me that he had way to much homework due to go to church with me. He was not making this up; he was right. Still, I experienced a sinking feeling, almost a dread, before I pulled out those pants again.

I'm still not completely comfortable at church. My roles are going to be different than they have been in the past, and I'm still not sure exactly where and how I fit in. Tim and I don't spend a whole lot of the socializing part of church together, but I like to know he's there in case I need a safe haven. Someone to lean on, who knows how I'm feeling. Someone to grab a quick hug from.

Still, the pants were on so I went. I acted more like the adult version of me and less like the chicken version of me. At some point, Ithink I even forgot what a natural chicken I am. I engaged in some great conversations, I enjoyed the moments. I even ended up being one of the last people to leave. Look at me go.

When my training wheels are removed, I fall sometimes. I mean, sometimes I just feel awkward during the entire experience and end up at least a little embarrassed. Sometimes- like today- I just ride.

I need a little push- from myself, from circumstances- but sometimes I can forget myself and just soak up the moments and the experiences,make connections, ask a lot of questions, and share a little of myself.

I'm learning (so slowly) how to live and even thrive outside of my own bubble of comfort. I like that. I really, really do.

And that's something I want to remember.


Married To and Ex-Youth Pastor, Part 3

Oh, my gosh, I loved being married to Tim (I still do, don't get me wrong, but this part of the story takes place in the past).

I loved being involved in Tim's youth group.  It was often terrifying, surprising, trying, or heart breaking, but it included so much of what makes me feel fully me. You know what I mean? Those things that just engage your heart at the foundational level?

I had a lot to learn about both. There were misunderstandings, there were struggles, tears, heart-to-hearts, and a lot of difficult questions, but for both my husband and my kids, I wanted the best. The absolute best.

I knew that I couldn't accomplish that on my own, but maybe I could be an instrument in the process, you know?

My kids? Well, I used to call them my kids because of my motherly tendencies and just how much space they claimed in my heart.  They were joy in human form. They were stories unfolding and explorations taking place. Tim and I were privileged to spend so much time with them, to be trusted and involved.

I don't quite remember when it started, but there was a slow downward spiral that slowly led us out the door of the church we were so involved in. I'm not here to talk about the specifics of that, but I will tell you that I tried to lessen the effects of that spiral. I tried to be less involved in church activities, hoping the heavy weight I felt would ease. I tried to disengage where I could.

My attempts didn't change that it was time to go. Neither did Tim's.

We're living in this sort of in-between place now, where we're coming up out of that spiral we were sliding down. We're getting healthy in all kinds of ways. It's all completely necessary.

But can I tell you something? I will do it again. I don't know when, and I don't know where. Once upon a time, I thought I had a favorite age group, but after spending lots of time with kids, adults, and teenagers, I don't think I do. I just like people, in small-ish settings. I like being a part of stories and processes.

I made many, many mistakes, but I can't think of a single regret. We all offered our own perspectives, time, and hearts. We were part of each others' stories and life processes. I'm so thankful to my (former) kids for allowing that for me.

But there are things I will do differently.

The next time, I hope to act with a little (okay, maybe a lot) more wisdom. And boldness. I was a love-y, listening, cuddly youth leader (ahem, with a side of moody and a love for dancing and cooking), but I've since learned that love- real love- the kind that wants the best for a person, is bold. Being a part of some one's life process, especially if that part includes mentor-ship, requires a big measure of boldness. It requires a toughness that says "I'm not here to make you happy (happiness is good, of course, but it's not everything) or please you all the time ; I want to help you search out the best and then help you live it."

I firmly believe that real love will lead to some uncomfortable situations, but it is worth it.

I loved the best I knew how to at the church (most of the time), but now? The ways I show my love will go even deeper.


Married to an Ex-Youth Pastor, Part 1

This is the first post in a series. If you're not interested in where I've been or what that means for right now, go ahead and exercise your freedom by skipping these posts. They'll be clearly labeled so you can do so or look out for them if you're itching for a little back story and update on my current situation.

If you've been around and you've heard my stories, some of this will be a repeat for you. Scanning is allowed, of course, but whatever you choose to do,I have a story to share. It's starts with something like, "once upon a time." Truly, it was nearly 10 years ago. At 25 years old, ten years is quite a bit of time. So. Here we go.

Once upon a time, something woke up in me. I am a somewhat indecisive person, but when I set my heart on something, it's set. I'm determined and stubborn, and quite trusting (at least somewhere within me) that I will get what I want. If you fast forward the story a bit, you will see that this was true of the man I fell in love with and one day, I completely believe that it will be true of my desire to adopt. In this story, I was 16 years old with a lot of weight, questions, and insecurities on my shoulders. One day, something just snapped in me-pretty much like those glow sticks you can buy at...well, I don't know where you can buy them, but you snap them, and then they glow. Do you know what I mean? And I knew. My husband was going to be a youth pastor.

Now, keep in mind, I was sixteen. I never really dated, unless you count elementary school, which I didn't (and there was that one boy in seventh grade...but I'm telling you,  none of that counts as dating. Either way.). Most of the time, I really wanted a boyfriend, but even more than that, I wanted an older brother. I wanted someone to look out for me and take care of me and threaten everyone who threatened me. I didn't know any boys like that.

Time marched on. I was 18 and up for anything. I joined my school's volleyball team because it was my senior year, my sister was impressively athletic, and it was something we could do together. I was not good at all, but I went and I learned and I spent some quality time with my sister.

Around this same time, a couple of my friends invited me to come visit their youth group. I had volley ball practice, drama practice, year book deadlines, playbill meetings (I was very much into all of those things and still would be if they were available to me...well, with the exception of volleyball. I get plenty of chances to play and usually opt out). Words like, "maybe next time" flowed repeatedly out of my mouth.

Eventually, I went. I followed a friend around like a puppy until I felt comfortable, but I kept going. I brought friends and my brother and sister. I went on trips and got pulled in. I think it was mostly because suddenly I had older brothers. Guys who cared about what happened to me and how my day went and made me feel safe. Guys who just wanted to hang out and had girlfriends who weren't jealous and just wanted to be my friend, too.

Let me tell you, I made a lot of female friends at that youth group- probably more females than males. But it was the choices of the males that won me over. Those choices help fill that deep desire that needed to be filled before I could even hope to make a good decision about that youth pastor I wanted to marry.


No Better Time to Enjoy the Present

Tim was away this past weekend, speaking at a junior high retreat about 2 hours away from home. So I made some plans. Of course, I forgot to take pictures as I usually do when I'm soaked up in any sort of activity. Just imagine my face looked something like this during much of the weekend:I went to a fantastic Zumba class with my mama, a restorative yoga class with my mother-in-law (which I went to in an effort to help her get into yoga, but  the class actually ended up helping me- isn't that the way "helping people" tends to go?). I visited friends, cooked meals, organized and hosted a Girls Night In, cleaned a lot, attended a church I think I'm falling in love with (I was able to sit right next to my sister-in-law and also share the experience with a few more friends.), went for a run, and spent all of Sunday evening catching up and relaxing with my hubby.

I think there was not a moment I didn't enjoy.

Last Friday, before the official end of the work week, a dear friend of mine reminded me to be present in everything  I did over the weekend. I think I might have accomplished that...or  at least I came quite close.

Near the beginning of the weekend, I was telling "my Jaimie" that, although I'm really liking where I'm at in life, I'd recently started pining after motherhood again after watching Modern Family (I realize that is probably a strange trigger, but it's true.) By the end of the weekend, though, by the time meals and stories and new experiences had been shared with friends in a number of seasons of life, I was reminded again to enjoy this season.

There will never be a better time to enjoy the present.


Four Years

There is lots swirling around in my heart and my head right now.

I'm wondering when my adoption journey is going to start. I'm reading Timothy Keller's Generous Justice; I'm thinking about church, traveling, and how I think I'm at least a little bit Hebrew at heart ( and how fitting it is that I was named "Sarah."). I'm thinking about money and how it's not really mine- it's God's- but how does that play out in the living part of life?

I'm thinking that I'm just this girl- this girl who is really not that outgoing or charming, who is at least a little bit cheesy and second guesses herself a little too much. But great stories are full of "just this girl"'s who said "yes" to something scary.

And I like great stories.

Years ago, I spent 3 months in Kazakhstan living with a local family. There was so much to be scared of there. There was a lot of new and a lot of different. And while I like a good challenge, I have a chicken heart and...any challenge I've taken has happened because I either didn't realize the challenge or I firmly told my chicken ways to "go AWAY!"

I remember one beautiful day in Kazakhstan. Every one was jumping creeks and fences and climbing rocks, and I was afraid to try. But there was this boy at home (he had my heart), and I knew he would have told me to just do it. To not even think about it, and just go.

So I did. And it felt great. It felt great to knock my silly fears down , just do it, just enjoy.

This is how our lives have been. The fears, the cheering, the prodding, the relief, the exploring, the wonder (and struggles, but they seem of little consequence when compared to all the rest).

Tomorrow, we celebrate 4 years of marriage. One day, I think that 4 years will seem like a drop in the bucket, but today? Well, today, I am grateful for how much deeper and stronger our relationship has become over those years...and I'm looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead for the two of us.


Here We Go!

 Today's the day! So many big and little changes are going to be apparent, some of which are...

Tim and I will no longer be sharing a car, but we will be sharing the bathroom on weekday mornings.

Tim will no longer be my running partner (most days- I still plan on snagging him for weekend runs!), but because we now own two cars, I have much greater flexibility regarding when and where I workout.

I will no longer see my church friends at church, but Tim and I are not moving, so I am able to meet elsewhere (like my house? like a local coffee shop or running trail?) to catch up.

Tim and I will no longer share the bond of working toward the greater good of those who attend programs, meetings, and events at our former church, but we will share the bond of working toward our masters degrees together (free classes- for both of us- are one of the benefits that come with Tim's new job), spending more time with family, and church shopping for a gathering place that we can really get behind.

Here we go!


Not Enough

Tim and I had The Talk with our kids on Wednesday. (We have no children of our own, but my husband is a youth pastor. I have lovingly dubbed everyone in grades 7-12 who comes through our doors "our kids" a long time ago.)

Now I can write about it.

Now I can tell you why I feel such a need for that half marathon training. For something to help me in my travels from here to there.

We are leaving.

So much wrapped up in just a few words.

So much that I will not be able to say here, right now. Because I went to bed too late last night and got up too early, I know the words will not come out...even though I have been thinking about what I want to write here for days.

Two nights ago, I told my kids what a privilege it's been to be a part of their story, that we are not leaving because of them, that I would take them with me if I could...I cried, then got myself together...then cried again. I told them that they could be honest about how they were feeling, and some of them were. I tried to reassure them; I tried to cheer them up.

We all went home, and then? A new day crept around the corner and the sun did come up, as it always does. For that I am thankful.

To my kids,You are joy in human form. Don't let anyone look down on you because you're young. Instead, give them reasons to respect you. Learn how you were made and embrace that; don't try to be someone else. Give those who take care of you more credit than you think they deserve; they probably deserve even more than that. Ask lots of questions. Explore. Try new things.Continue your study of true love and try to emulate it.Please, please know that you matter to many on this earth. You were made uniquely. And I am really going to miss you. So come over for pancakes, soon, okay?

Lots of love.

These words are not enough. I have been involved with my kids for my entire married life; it has changed me, softened me, taught me about loving in word and in deed. But now things are about to change for everyone involved. We are all going on adventure of sorts.


Life Lessons from a Germ-infested Girl

Two life lessons are staring me in the face.1. I've gotta know my body and who I was created to be, and respect that. Comparisons (to other people or "how I normally am) just don't work.

2. My personal decisions impact people around me.

Last Thursday, when I said I wasn't feeling well, I wasn't. I went to bed soon after posting, woke up too early, was unable to fall asleep due to feeling so yucky,  but went to work because Friday's are the easiest days in my workweek, and because, well, I just had a cold, right? Or allergies. I did dishes, chopped bananas to keep them from going bad (and use in banana soft serve later), made soup, went apple picking....and then I was worn out. Every inch of me, exhausted.

Saturday, I repeated the same kind of slower-paced activity while still trying to do too much for my broken-down body. I went to a yoga class (my first in I don't know how long), stopped by a launch events for a satellite church my dad is in charge of  and visited with some friends, stopped by my church's community center,  and went on an outing with my girls (where I ran into more friends.) People  made comments and asked about my voice (which is very reminiscent of a talking frog at the moment). Some proclaimed, "it's allergies!" Some said,"you don't sound good."

I returned home with the same fatigue. Even my eyes hurt. I felt badly that I wasn't doing dishes, laundry, the many other household tasks that "need" to be done, spending time with people, or at the very least, writing cards. But I was spent. I didn't do a whole lot of getting up from my futon for the rest of the night (until I upgraded to my bed.)

This morning, I still didn't feel great. But I had a Sunday School class to attend to, so my husband made the executive decision that," we will go to the outpatient clinic"  right afterwards. Normally, I fight any suggestions to visit a doctor's office, but my this morning, I was just so tired of feeling the way I do that I eagerly accepted the idea.

As I write this, it seems kind of obvious that maybe I should have stayed away from people all this time so as to avoid passing on the nasty germs I am carrying around.  I honestly thought I was making the right decision by trying to meet up with people as much as I could before my body gave out each day.

 It seems that a lot of people just soldier on when they aren't feeling well.  They truck through allergies and illnesses and bouts with fatigue. They get lots done, they provide listening ears, write thoughtful emails and cards. My co-small group leaders, Kristen and Jaimie, do it all. I call myself busy, but they are out of my league. And they still find time to spend with our girls. They still have a hug for me whenever I see them (which at least I have had the foresight to decline in the past few days due to "germs.") I kind of thought I just needed to buck up, be tough,  and do as much as I could until I couldn't do anymore.

There's nothing I really would have wanted to cut out of my past few days. I really wanted to spend time with all of those people. Relationships are the best parts of life, you know? But in the process of trying to do "everything" until I could not physically handle anymore activity, I realized today-at last!- that my efforts may have ended up doing more harm than good (by spreading germs around).

I am hoping no one gets sick through any contact they've had with me. I am secluding myself in my home until it's safe to come out. Which kind of drives me nuts. I like to be busy...normally. But. It seems like my body's not feeling up to "normal" quite yet. I just need to respect that.


Tuesday Afternoon Confessions

 1.This is how my best mornings begin.2. I have heard (and read) that some people think that Jesus and Bible are crutches that people who say they believe in them use to lean on. I'm not quite sure if that is a negative thing, but I find no offense in such an assumption.

3. I really like my coffee. See that Bible up there? Reading it brings me peace and clarity. But that coffee? To be quite honest, it just might be on my list of top 5 favorite objects.I just love to sip a good cup of coffee while writing, reading, or catching up with a friend. My only real motivation in limiting my consumption has been that I might become pregnant. I haven't become pregnant which has melted my resolve to limit my caffeine consumption recently.

4. I'm not really cut out to be a small group leader. To steal a quote from a member of my church family, I'm "just a beggar showing other beggars where to find food." I'm a mess.I'm moody, I often fail to think before I speak, I lose focus, and mostly see the world through my own eyes. But I love my girls. I want to see them thrive. And to quit because I feel inadequate seems a little foolish .My girls are just too important.5. When my husband and I go somewhere together in public, we often split ways. At church, I am usually sitting without him while he helps lead the music. Afterwards, I spend my time hugging, laughing with, and being honest with my church family. I don't really keep track of Tim, unless it is time to go home. At youth group, we sometimes tease each other, but I spend most of my time with the girls, and he spends most of his time with the boys. We usually split ways at family gatherings, too. We don't enjoy the same forms of exercise. We don't have the same taste in food or books.

But the truth? I really, really love him. Nobody captures my heart or knows my heart like my husband. Tim and I often split ways because we are a team, and I treasure that. We always, always come back together. And I treasure that even more.6.I don't feel the way I thought I would about not being pregnant yet. Sometimes I am disappointed and sometimes I feel like there is something wrong with me. But after I sort through that, I often realize that there is much good to be had in not being a mama yet. I've learned lots through the fact that some of my plans have not worked out, and Tim and I have some other ideas. Maybe God does, too.