Tag Archives: Love

Six

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Photo Credit: Ed Gostomski

Once upon a time, six years ago, when I was a lot skinnier and Jonathan was a lot geekier, we got married. We became officially the Youngs, Mr. and Mrs., husband and wife—us.

Maybe it’s selfish, but I’m not just celebrating my husband this year (though he is pretty awesome!). I’m celebrating who we are together—how we sharpen each other, how we inspire and encourage each other, how we challenge each other, how we love and respect each other. How we live together, laugh together, cry together (well, actually, that’s usually just me), and love Jesus together.

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I’ll pick being together over just about anything else. (Unless it’s time to watch The Bachelor. On those nights, I’d prefer Jonathan take his snarky comments in the other room!)

I think one of the biggest “marriage events” we’ve had this year was investing in kayaks and a car rack to transport them. We’d been thinking about it for a while, and when we started looking around, the prices were discouraging. After a whole day of looking, we returned home, defeated and resigned to the fact that we just couldn’t afford it. It was one of the most depressing days of our relationship. But then we decided to forgo our summer vacation to get them and it became a lot more doable. The car rack ended up costing more than the kayaks, but we will both tell you it was a worthy investment. Finding active things we both enjoy has been a struggle, but kayaking is our solution to that problem.

I don’t know what our next year of marriage will bring, but I’m glad we get to do it together.

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Camping in Copper Harbor

Last week was glorious. We set off on Saturday for six days of camping at Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan. I’d always wanted to go there. It’s the northern-most city in the Upper Peninsula. According to one of the locals we talked to, there are only 80 full-time residents.

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One of the best parts of the trip was being forced to unplug. We were already planning to “forget” our phones in the car, but when we got up there, we had no cell signal. At all. On the way home, we had to buy a map and navigate the old-fashioned way because we couldn’t even use the GPS on our phones. With the exception of a few reservations, we didn’t even pay attention to what time it was. We got up when we wanted, went to bed when we wanted, and basically did whatever we wanted. All week. So, so lovely.

I apologize in advance for the picture overload. I can’t help it.

Most of the week was in the mid-sixties and we had a few days of rain. Not exactly summer weather, but nearly ideal for camping. The first night was so rainy we got dripped on while we slept and ended up covering the tent with a tarp. Of course it didn’t rain much after that.

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When it’s chilly, you do what you have to do. Like make fashion faux paus you swore you never would when you were eight and you saw your relatives do the same thing.

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Notice the pjs.

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When you wake up on a rainy Sunday, of course you find a local place to get some warm coffee, hot chocolate, and pasties. We went to the Tamarack Inn. So charming.

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Nothing like reading with Lake Superior waves crashing in front of you. Way more comfortable on sand though. I got bruises from sitting on those pokey rocks.

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We came across this little guy in the middle of the trail. He didn’t move when we got close.

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All these tree pictures are from our hike through Estivant Pines, a virgin white pine forest.

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Our campground was on Lake Fanny Hooe.

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Brockway Mountain Drive was my favorite scenic part of the trip.

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Those green spots are copper.

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The bell buoy. We could hear this from our tent. Every morning. Every night. All day.

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I wish I could take credit for this photo. But it’s so good I have to tell you Jonathan took it.

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The Copper Harbor Lighthouse

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We found copper!

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A view of the town from the harbor

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This was an adorable book store. I would have bought half the store if I didn’t already have a stack of books to read.

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So I think one of my aunts taught at this school. But maybe that’s just family legend.

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We left the campground on Friday morning and headed for the Porcupine Mountains, which was another part of Michigan I’d always wanted to visit. There were some pretty podunk little towns on the way. We spent the night at a cute little motel in Ironwood, Michigan.

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Lake of the Clouds

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This trip ended like most do—we were content and crabby and full of happy memories. If I have anything to say about it, we’ll be going back.

Click here for my list of the top ten things to do in Copper Harbor.

Five

date in sand ourweddingFive years ago today, this was us.  Rather than write a long cliche post about how wonderful it’s been, I thought I’d show you the eight years of our relationship in pictures (in no way comprehensive or in any particular order). When we got married, someone told us someday we’d look back at our wedding pictures and think, “Oh wow—we were just babies.” Turns out he was right . . .

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collage 7Here’s to many, many more years of marriage! Jonathan, I am so glad I get to be your wife. I love you.

27 Lessons in 27 Years

globe babyToday I turn 27. Actually, in three minutes from the time I’m writing this. Honestly, I’m feeling old. My sister turns 21 in November, my baby brother is graduating high school next year, and I’ve been married for (almost) five years. This is the first year I’ve actually been grateful when people say, “You’re 27? No way!” And I finally understand why turning 30 is a big deal. I’m not there yet, but I totally get it.

When I was trying to figure out what my “birthday post” should be, I decided it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are a little funny, but they’ve all been a part of “becoming me” in a significant way.

  1. If someone is trying to annoy you, ignore them. They’ll eventually get bored and go away. (I can thank my little sister for teaching me this one.)
  2. Churches don’t have to be full of hypocrites.
  3. Leadership doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes quiet leadership is more effective.
  4. God is trustworthy. Always.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help.
  6. Relationships don’t work when each person only gives 50%. Each person must give 100%, so when one person can’t give their all, the other person can pick up the slack.
  7. God cares about the little things, too.
  8. Stories (real or imagined) change lives.
  9. Babies aren’t so scary after all.
  10. Adults don’t have it all figured out. Life is an experiment.
  11. We’re all different, and that’s a good thing.
  12. When you have a favorite thrift store, second-hand shopping is awesome.
  13. Budgets don’t prohibit you from spending money, they give you permission to spend it wisely.
  14. You can learn a lot from other generations. Everyone has something different to offer.
  15. Teaching four-year-olds about Jesus is SO FUN.
  16. Humility often means not seeking credit and taking blame.
  17. Regular dental appointments are important. You do NOT want to get a root canal.
  18. No matter how much you hate exercise, it will make you feel better. (If my husband asks, I did not admit this.)
  19. Divorce sucks. And it will affect your kids—no matter how old or young they are.
  20. Food doesn’t make you happy, it just makes you fat.
  21. You don’t have to have all the answers to be a good friend. Just be there.
  22. (Usually) good writing should go unnoticed. It should flow in such a way that the reader doesn’t even think about the act of reading, they just do it.
  23. What you want to do is not necessarily what you’re called to do.
  24. Working at a church is hard.
  25. There’s no such thing as a normal family.
  26. Minnesota isn’t so bad.
  27. Having a husband who’s your best friend makes life a lot more fun.

So there you have it. Obviously I’ve learned more than 27 things in my lifetime. At least, I hope it’s obvious…

Ten Great Dates by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp

Ten Great DatesLast night I finished reading Ten Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love & Marriage by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp. I chose to review it because it looked more interesting than the other three or four nonfiction options Bethany House had available. Unfortunately, while it has some good stuff in it, I was disappointed.

Ten Great Dates—written by two couples who have a lot of experience with marriage mentoring, counseling, and conferences­­—sets out to “help you connect faith, love, and marriage in ways that result in spiritual connection—all in the fun, guilt-free, safe format of Great Dates” (pg. 9). It was a quick read that contains some good marriage advice, and I like that it focuses on incorporating your faith into your marriage. I also liked that it included some Bible study questions to get you reading what the Bible has to say. But there were quite a few things I didn’t like.

The concept is interesting—plans for 10 different Dates with your spouse—but it wasn’t laid out the way I expected. Based on the back cover copy, I was expecting more ideas for the actual date activities/locations, but the focus was on what you should discuss. The most specific instructions for a date activity was were to “go to a nice restaurant” and “find a quiet place to talk.”

The authors used a lot of personal stories to illustrate their points. While examples like that can be helpful, I thought there were too many stories, and they were so long it was easy to forget the point. I grew bored with them and found myself skipping those sections.

The tear-out sheets at the back of the book are designed to guide the conversation for each Date—each person is supposed to get a copy and prepare for the Date by answering the questions. I knew after reading just the first one that my husband (who is a committed Christian and usually a good sport) would never agree to do all ten Dates. By the time I finished the book, I didn’t want to do them either.

Ten Great Dates could be helpful for couples who aren’t married yet or who became believers after they got married and haven’t figured out how to incorporate their faith into their marriage. But if you’re already married and doing things like praying and reading the Bible with your spouse, there are better marriage resources out there (Love & Respect, Sacred Marriage, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and The Five Love Languages to name a few).

(P.S. It would probably go unnoticed by most people, but the ridiculous amount of exclamation points drove me crazy. One page had four in just two short paragraphs—that’s more than I would allow for an entire book.)

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Not Exactly How I Planned to Spend Grandparents Day

DSCN7083We were all set to go up north on Friday after work to help Jonathan’s grandparents take the dock out of the lake just like we did last year. While I waited for Jonathan to come home, I packed and texted back and forth with Jonathan’s grandpa, giving him our ETA, letting him know that yes, we would stop and pick up taco shells on our way, and telling him I loved him too. After about three hours in the car, we arrived, at a late taco dinner (pretty much a tradition), visited with Grandma and Grandpa, and went to bed really late, but not before Grandma gave us her customary, “You get up when you get up.” The plan was for us to catch up on sleep, get up, have brunch, and maybe take the boat out for one last spin around the lake. Then the boys would go take the dock out of the lake.

But this weekend did not go as planned.

We woke up sometime after 8:00 a.m. to Grandma knocking on the door, apologizing for waking us and asking Jonathan if he could please go talk to Grandpa because he thinks he might be having a heart attack.

The night before, Grandpa had said more than once that he wasn’t feeling well, but he didn’t give details. Turns out that meant he had been having some pretty classic heart attack symptoms since Thursday. We got up, threw some things together, and Jonathan drove quite a ways to the nearest “hospital” (basically a glorified clinic with an emergency room. When you’re that far north, hospitals are few and far between). On the ride, Grandpa was acting like himself, asking Jonathan to slow down and did he go through a lot of tires and could he please go a little faster?

Grandma was just in awe of the way God had worked it out for Jonathan and me to be with them on this particular weekend. We had made plans for a different date and had switched those plans twice, finally landing on this weekend at the last minute. Since Grandma doesn’t drive much, it would not have been easy for her to drive that morning especially. It really was a blessing that we were there to do the driving and help where needed.

Having never experienced a real emergency before, I was surprised I was able to remain calm. (Jonathan is what one of my friends calls a “steady Eddie,” so I expected him to be that way, but not me.) My first instinct was to pray. So I started praying and I spent a good bit of time texting people I knew would pray for Grandpa. Since I had gone to bed without brushing my teeth or showering, I made sure I packed my toothbrush and makeup bag. I kept quiet nearly the whole car ride, not really knowing what to say. While we waited for news, Grandma sent us to the vending machines, where we looked for some kind of breakfast. We ended up with a bag of peanuts and a diet coke for her and pink lemonade, pop tarts, and cinnamon Certs (that’s what happens when you push the wrong numbers!) for us.

They did some tests, told us Grandpa had, in fact, had a severe heart attack, and prepared to airlift him to Minneapolis. Grandma couldn’t ride in the helicopter, so we drove her all the way back to the house to pick up our suitcase and car and pack for the hospital stay.

We collected the typical things you’d think to take, like clean underwear, things for Grandma to work on, and quarters for Grandpa’s Sunday paper, but since it’s a three-hour drive to Minneapolis and since Grandma was expecting bypass surgery and therapy afterward, we brought other things too. Like an entire box of tomatoes. And another box of green peppers. And a bag of cucumbers, an entire pumpkin pie, a few peaches, and two coolers full of food that Grandma thought would go to waste while they were in the Cities.

It took us about an hour to get back to the house, load everything, and leave for the hospital. Jonathan drove Grandma in her van and I followed in our car. I think it was hard for all three of us to know that we wouldn’t see Grandpa for several hours. Grandma busied herself with phone calls to and from loved ones, Jonathan drove and offered support when needed, and I prayed a bit and listened to shows on public radio for the entire three hours, not really wanting to think much about what was going on. I calmed myself by remembering that Grandpa was in exactly the right place to get the help he needed.

When we stopped for gas and lunch at Subway, Jonathan told me Grandpa had made it to the hospital, had a stent put in, and was already out of surgery, doing well, and expected to go home on Monday (which he did!). Jonathan’s mom was with him.

When we finally arrived, around 3:00 p.m., I sank into a chair in the waiting room and almost lost it. The stress of the day and the utter relief that Grandpa was okay finally hit me, and it was all I could do to not burst into tears. But Jonathan doesn’t have a weepy family like I do, and I wanted to keep myself in check. After Jonathan’s mom gave us a few more details, we got to sit with Grandpa. Other than being in intensive care and connected to a bunch of machines, he was his normal self, and I was so relieved.

I was surprised how many people thanked us for “everything you did.” What else would we do? I wondered. We love Grandpa just as much as you. But I realized that just like me, everyone else was just grateful Grandpa was okay. They were grateful, just as I was, that we were there to help. But we weren’t the ones who should be thanked—I have no doubt that God made sure we were there at just the right time.

This whole experience made me realize that how you respond in an emergency isn’t too far from how you respond in a non-emergency (maybe it’s different with others, but that was certainly the case with us). So often we think that it’ll be different when it matters, but is that really true? Do the things you care about most really change in an emergency? Despite the circumstances, your behavior and the things you care about might not change as much as you’d think—Jonathan still kept his cool and made sure he had a book to read; Grandpa still won the award for best backseat driver ever and worried about us (“Tell the kids not to worry about the dock”); and Grandma still kept everyone in the loop and wanted to make sure her food would be enjoyed. Me? Well, to my shame, I realized I care too much about how I look (who needs makeup at the hospital?), And I discovered prayer is my go-to in any situation.

The most important thing I realized is just how much Grandpa and Grandma mean to me. We went back to the hospital to visit on Sunday, and I must say, there’s no better way to celebrate Grandparent’s Day than with your grandparents.

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This is us this time last year—with Grandma and Grandpa and Jonathan’s brother Christopher.

To all of you who prayed for us this weekend, thank you! Your support and prayers meant so much to me and the rest of the family. I truly believe your prayers are part of the reason Grandpa is doing so well.

Vacationing in the Twin Cities (Home Sweet Home)

Our vacation last week was wonderful. Not quite as exciting as some of the other trips we’ve taken (like last year’s visit to Yellowstone), but we did a lot of fun things. So many things that it needs to be two posts. So here’s a taste of what we did in the Twin Cities . . .

On Saturday, we took a free tour of the state capitol building in St. Paul. (And went to Cosetta for dinner. Yum! It’s huge with all the remodeling they’ve done—but still crowded.)

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On Sunday, we went to Redeemer Bible Church in Minnetonka and heard some good preaching. (When we were trying to find a church a few years ago, we almost landed at Redeemer because R.W. Glenn is just so good.) Call me a heathen if you want, but I told Jonathan I wanted to take a break from our normal church while we were on vacation. I love it, but I spend six days a week there and sometimes I just need a break. It was good to do something different. And God taught me a lot about myself. Like the fact that church is not about me. Go figure, huh?

And then we went to see a free production of As You Like It in Wolfe Park. Wonderful. The whole point is to make Shakespeare more accessible and they did a good job of that, but I still wish I had known the story going into it.

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On Monday, we ate at the Good Day Café and visited the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market (yummy fresh strawberries, sweet corn, and potatoes!) and The Walker Art Center, which is Minneapolis’ modern art museum. What a waste of $24. Others had warned me, but I wanted to experience it for myself. Next time I will trust others’ judgement. The free sculpture garden is worth a visit though (Cherry on a Spoon, anyone?). On a happier note, the Glazed Donut Pancakes at the Good Day Café were amazing.

Tuesday we spent much of the day downtown. We stuffed ourselves at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse we went to for lunch. It’s super pricey, but really good. I would be content to go and have nothing but the salad bar! After that, we visited the downtown library (not as impressive as I had hoped, though the moving stacks were cool). And we ended the day with Clybourne Park at the Guthrie. It was a fantastic production of one writers’ response to A Raisin in the Sun. (It’s playing for another week or so—go see it!) And if you’re under the age of 30, check out their 30 Below program to get rush tickets without having to stand in line!

(The yellow-tinted pictures were taken through yellow windows at the Guthrie.)

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Wednesday through Friday, we were enjoying the North Shore. Stay tuned for another post about that.

We got back on Friday night and hit the ground running again on Saturday with donuts from Wuollet Bakery, chai from Tea Garden, and our books at Lake Calhoun. Then we attended a friend’s wedding celebration BBQ and laughed until we cried at Comedy Sportz (I wish we could afford to go every week!).

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Sunday morning was spent at Emmanuel Christian Center (the big church Jonathan’s family went to when he was growing up), playing Frisbee golf in Edina (please don’t make fun of my form—I don’t pretend to be good), and spontaneously taking an hour-long road trip to Square Lake Park in Marine on St. Croix, where the water is clear and warm enough for a swim.

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Such a busy week, but so fun. I’m already dreaming of next summer’s vacation. Somewhere awesome (I hope!).

Any ideas?

Four Years

Four years ago today, we got married.

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I’ll spare you the sappy I-love-my-husband-so-much post. It’s true, but I’m pretty sure you already knew that :)

We’re celebrating by spending a few days on Lake Superior north of Duluth. It’s a bit foggy and cold (would you believe it’s only 65 up here? It was 92 when we left Duluth yesterday, and that’s only an hour south of us!), but we’re enjoying the quiet time away. We’ve actually got the whole week off work, so I’ll post more pictures of our adventures later, but here are a few of my favorites so far. . .

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The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner

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I’m interrupting my blogging hiatus to bring you a new book review . . .

When Jonathan and I were engaged, his parents loaned us their copy of the Love & Respect conference on CD and we listened to it on our forever-long road trip between Indiana and Minnesota. The concept, in it’s simplest terms, is that women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected. The truth resounded with us so much that we decided to incorporate it into our traditional wedding vows, each of us adding a line at the beginning . . .

“I promise to treat you lovingly as we serve God together . . . I promise to treat you with respect as we serve God together.”

Though I probably don’t think about it as often as I should, I’ve been amazed at the difference respecting my husband makes in our relationship. So when I had the opportunity to review The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner, I thought it would be a good refresher. The subtitle, 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband sounded great, like the women’s answer to The Love Dare.

For the most part, it was. Though I wasn’t able to read through and complete the dares one day at a time, I read through each dare, considering how I might answer the questions and how the challenges could make a difference in my marriage. I found a wealth of wisdom about being a good listener, making my husband’s interests my own, and stating the facts rather than speaking out of emotion. A few of the dares also challenged me to deepen my relationship with the Lord by making time for Him and trusting Him with life’s details.

Some of the dares, though, just seemed out of place—several were more focused on the wife described in Proverbs 31. While that’s also good information, it’s not what I was expecting. And many of the illustrations didn’t line up either. For example, Dare 19—Seventeen Frying Pans—was more about running an orderly home than it was about respect. While you could draw a connection between the two, Roesner failed to do so. Despite the subtitle, the book seemed torn between two purposes: highlighting the successes of her Daughters of Sarah program (which I’m sure is wonderful) and actually helping women to respect God and their husbands like the cover suggests.

That said, I still felt the content of this book was solid, and I’d recommend it for women who are ready to change their marriages by changing their attitudes. The dares are great for women in all stages of marriage—newlyweds and those who have been married for decades. And though I found it helpful to read on my own, I think it would be even better as a small group study. Reading through the book with other women would provide a safe place for discussion, wisdom-sharing, and accountability.

**I received a free electronic copy of this book from booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by David Murrow

David Murrow, who also wrote the bestselling book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, wrote What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You to help women understand what makes our men tick. He even spends some time explaining why they often won’t tell us themselves.

For the most part, I found the content of this book helpful. Murrow covers every aspect of men’s lives, at least briefly—the book is divided into sections about body, soul, and spirit. I gained new insight into my husband’s heart and now have a better understanding of why certain things are important to him—and why other things aren’t.

Some sections seemed a little over the top, so I asked my husband if he’d be willing to listen to what Murrow said and give me feedback. I could tell it made him a bit uncomfortable, but he complied, and we actually had some really good conversations.

One of the sections was about men holding the roles of “provider” and “protector.” Murrow spent several chapters explaining why men have taken on these roles and illustrating how they can play out in day-to-day life. My husband thought some of the information in this section was a little extreme, and we both agreed that some of it was probably over-simplified for the sake of making a point.

The other section I struggled with was on the topic of men being visual. No wife wants to hear that her man notices other women, so I was a little resistant at first. And some of his examples! In one story, he talked about following an attractive woman around the grocery store. Because I couldn’t imagine my own husband doing such a thing, I talked to him about it. We came to the conclusion that many of the ideas Murrow presented in the chapter were accurate, but the grocery store example was an extreme case. It may be true for some men, but not necessarily all.

If you want to have a better understanding of your husband, I recommend this book. Just keep in mind that Murrow over-simplifies and provides some extreme examples—most likely in order to help women recognize their own husbands within a broader spectrum.

And if your husband would be willing to talk about some of the things discussed, I recommend having those conversations, even if they’re uncomfortable. The conversations I had with my husband were, by far, my most valuable takeaway.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.