Tag Archives: marriage

The Chase by Kyle & Kelsey Kupecky

the_chaseI stepped out of my box a bit to review this book. I’ve been married for over six years now, so I don’t usually pick up books written for single girls. But since that’s all I used to read, I thought it couldn’t hurt to give this one a try and see if it might be useful for someone else.

The Chase encourages teenage girls to chase after God rather than guys. The authors, Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky, have been married since 2012. They take turns sharing bits of their own love story as they present some important truths about dating.

I really wanted to like it, but I just didn’t. The writing was mediocre and voice-less, the stories weren’t that interesting, and I could tell they hadn’t been married for very long when they wrote it. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the depth that comes with years of marriage just wasn’t there. To be fair, I’m a 28-year-old married woman, not the single teenage girl the book is written for, so maybe that doesn’t matter.) Just a few chapters in, I felt like their platform—Kelsey is the daughter of well-known author Karen Kingsbury and Kyle is a Christian recording artist—is what got the book published, not their skills or experience.

A few worldview things parents may want to know . . . 1) The Kupeckys seem to believe that if God calls you to be married, He has one person chosen for you, as opposed to believing there’s no such thing as a soulmate—that there are multiple people you could build a happy and successful life with. 2) The Kupeckys tell several stories of people they dated before they met. So if you’re opposed to dating, this book may not be a good choice for your kids.

Bottom line: it wasn’t terrible, but there are better books out there for single teenage girls who need a godly perspective on relationships. My favorite is Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.

2 stars—It was okay and I probably won’t recommend it.
(Read more about my rating system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

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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Settled

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Waiting for Settled

Until last week, I believed someday I would reach a point in my life when I felt settled, like I had arrived, like I could get comfortable where I was and coast on through the rest of my life.

What was I thinking?

I thought if I could just get married, finish college, get a full-time job, buy a forever house, have kids…everything would feel more long-term, more permanent, more settled.

But it doesn’t work like that. It wasn’t a lighting-strike epiphany, more like a foggy mist of realization that settled over me quietly as I drove to work, when I was wondering if what I have now is all there is. And if it is, wouldn’t that mean I’m settled now? And wouldn’t that be terrible because, really, I don’t want to be stuck like this forever?

What Being Settled ISN’T

Being settled isn’t a result of the circumstances in my life or what I do or don’t do. It’s not about who I married or how I’ll parent or whether or not my student loans are ever going to be paid off. If being settled is about those things, I’ll never get there. None of those things are constant. None of them will last. None of them are eternal.

What Being Settled IS

As I read Psalm 37 last week, I remembered memorizing verse 4 in high school:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

Even back then, I knew that meant if I delighted myself in God, my desires would begin to line up with His. That was so much easier to do when I wasn’t responsible for my own life, when I didn’t have to make decisions about where I would live or work or when I would have kids or even whether I should put that pretty bottle of nail polish back on the shelf because, really, I already have like 20 bottles and that $8 could go straight toward my student loans. And when those are paid off we can finally think about a down payment on a house . . . Anyway . . .

At this point in my life—age 27—I’m clinging to verse 23:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in His way;
Psalm 37:23 (ESV)

It’s the same idea as verse 4, but it seems a little easier to understand now that I’m grown up and worrying about things like feeling settled.

The entire Psalm is about that settled feeling I’d been searching for. It says, “fret not yourself” and “He will act.”

So I’m learning that being settled is about trusting God, about delighting myself in Him, about waiting for Him to act, to direct my steps, to fight my battles, to count my days, to bring forth my righteousness, just like Psalm 37 says.

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

InterruptedI think I’ve told you before that I’m a rule-follower. I wish it wasn’t true, but I often find myself identifying with the Pharisees when I read the Gospels. Jesus, you ate lunch with a prostitute? You forgave the corrupt tax collector? You let that lady pour expensive perfume all over your feet and then wash them with her hair? Gross. 

I came face to face with my judgmental tendencies once again when I read Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker a few weeks ago. Based on the tagline—“When Jesus wrecks your comfortable Christianity”—I was prepared to be inspired, but I wasn’t expecting to be challenged.

I’m not even sure if Jen addressed judgment and stereotypes specifically, but I sure felt convicted while I was reading. I put the book down, confessed my sin, and asked God to help me see and love all people the way He does.

More than once, Jen wrote about how easy it is to get trapped in a cycle of “blessing the blessed.” Because I work at a church and attend that church and met all my friends at that same church, it’s super easy for me to get stuck in my comfortable little bubble. The Bible talks about giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, and loving the sinners, but outside of donating school supplies for a church event and sponsoring a few Compassion kids, I usually live as if those things don’t apply to me because, well, I don’t know any of those people.

Not sure why it didn’t occur to me before, but it’s my own fault that I don’t know any of those people. And not knowing them isn’t a very good excuse. Sure, I’m an introvert, but that doesn’t meet I can live my whole life never meeting anyone new.

Jonathan and I have talked about serving outside our church walls for quite some time now, but we’ve never actually done it. I think it’s time. I don’t know if we’ll work with the homeless in St. Paul, help out at the food shelf near Jonathan’s office, or visit with the elderly in the memory care facility down the street, but it’s time to burst my bubble and serve someone new.

*Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of Interrupted to blog about.

Ten Things to Do in Copper Harbor, MI

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  1. Hike Estivant Pines. It’s a virgin white pine forest with two loops you can hike. I think it was less than 4 miles to hike the whole thing. It was a little  tricky in a few places, but if I could do it, you’ll be just fine. You may not know this about me, but I really, really love trees. I was in heaven.
  2. Eat at Harbor Haus. Yummy yummy fish and au gratin potatoes. And potato pancakes. A little on the pricier side, but it
    was some of the best food we had while we were there.
  3. Read on the beach. (And if you need a good book, Grandpa’s Barn.) I wish we had done more of this.
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  4. Visit the Thimbleberry Fudge Shoppe. It’s inside the Country Village Shoppes. We bought half a pound the second day we were there and went back on our way out of town for another pound to take home with us. The Maple Bacon and Mocha are the best, but I there wasn’t anything I tried that I didn’t like. It was so good that I suggest you call them up and have some shipped to you, even if you don’t make it to Copper Harbor :)
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  5. Eat a Pastee. It’s basically a requirement when you visit the UP. It’s basically meat and potatoes wrapped in a pie crust calzone-style. Most people eat them with gravy or ketchup. The ones we had weren’t fantastic, but they were nice warm comfort food on a rainy day.
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  6. Take Brockway Mountain Drive. If you only do one thing on my list, do this one. It’s a four-mile drive from “downtown” Copper Harbor with some pretty steep grades, but there are gorgeous views the whole way. Once you get up there, you can see the whole town, two or three other harbors, Lake Superior, and gorgeous tree-covered rolling hills. If I were you, I’d head up early enough to see it in daylight, watch the sunset, and then hang around until it gets dark to see the stars. And bring some blankets—it gets cold up there. We were lucky enough to be up there to see a meteor shower. Amazing.
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  7. Tour the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. Not only do you learn all sorts of history about the area, you get a boat ride across the harbor. If you’re luckier than we were, it won’t be raining the whole time. At least we had ponchos.
  8. Kayak Lake Fannie Hooe. I learned kayaking is a lot harder on a lake than a river. But it’s a gorgeous lake. We took about 4 hours to kayak the whole lake. Thank you, Keeweenaw Adventure Company, for a great deal on the sit-on-top kayaks we rented!
  9. Visit Brickside Brewery. I don’t like beer, but Jonathan likes a good craft beer, and he enjoyed our trip to the brewery. I did too, actually—they also brew yummy root beer.
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  10. Hike Hunter’s Point. So so pretty. Two trails, lots of beach and trees, and great views of Lake Superior and Copper Harbor.

Click here for more about our trip to Copper Harbor.

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.

Hope and a Future

The beginning of the school year makes me sentimental.

But who am I kidding?—I’m always sentimental.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my freshman year at Taylor and how different my life looked when I started college. I’ve been reminded how awesome God is.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” It’s a verse I quoted over and over to myself as I faced my first year at college with utter terror. (You think I’m exaggerating? I cried almost every day of my senior year of high school just because I knew I’d be leaving home on my own—three hours a way from my family and no friends to hide behind.) As many times as I quoted it though, I didn’t understand the depth of its meaning until now, as I look back at how my life has changed and how God has used each step to teach me and further His kingdom.

My college roommate, Dana, has become a life-long friend who understands me better than almost anyone. God used her to push me out of my comfort zone and show me what a Christian friendship looks like.

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I met Jonathan and spent six months waiting for him to ask me out. And then I spent 14 months praying God would let me marry him. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary.

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I left my beloved home state of Michigan and moved to what one of my friends from home calls, “The Great White North.” It’s not the same, but I really have come to love Minnesota.

I learned what it’s like to be part of a committed, Christ-following community. My days at Taylor were filled with professors, students, and even cafeteria workers who loved Jesus. And now our church (also where I work) has brought us the same gift here in Minnesota. What a blessing to be surrounding by such a faithful, positive, and supportive group of people.

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I discovered a passion for editing and had the opportunity to intern at a major Christian publishing house. What a learning experience! And now I often use my skills to help friends and friends of friends edit the books they’ve written to further the gospel and share hope with the world. Not the way I planned to do things, but it’s been so rewarding.

Either He's God or He's Not

My parents divorced after nearly 27 years of marriage. Not gonna lie—this has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced. It caused me to question every aspect of my life and rethink all of my childhood memories. And it’s wreaked havoc on my entire family. But God has taught me a lot about what’s important in life, and I’ve seen my family come to rely on Him in ways they never have before—a blessing amid the ashes.

Now, as Jonathan and I face an unknown future yet again, I’m excited about the challenges it will bring and the ways God will grow us. I can’t share details now, but we might have some big changes coming up before the year ends, and I know they’ll stretch us in new ways. (For the record—we’re not pregnant!)

I can look back on what God has already done in my life and quote Jeremiah 29:11 with so much more confidence: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’”