Category Archives: Life as we know it

“Pastor Aaron” (and a Summary)

“Pastor Aaron.”

That’s what some people have been calling that guy who lives with me. And they don’t even seem to be joking.

And it’s true–it’s really, really true!

Aaron has accepted a call to a church in Grand Rapids.* He will be ordained on Sunday, August 26 at 4:00 p.m. at the new church. Come one come all! I’m sure to be a blubbering mess of tears, plus there’ll be cake or equivalent delights.

He got the call about the call just before we moved from Tuliptown to GR, but it worked out better to do ordination after our impending trip to Oregon and for Aaron’s first official Sunday to be September 2 9. He did preach a week as pulpit supply, so we were able to go to the church again a few weeks ago. We’ve begun putting names and faces and relatives together, finding out who’s been googlestalking us (Hi Steve!), confusing ourselves and others by our temporary confusion about what place we mean when we say “our church,” and getting to know a few people (Hi again and thanks, Steve and fam!). Aaron has been starting on sermon prep and meeting with a few people too. He has however, been instructed by Classis not to work too hard, since it’s a part-time position. Take up your cross and follow but be sure to take frequent water breaks, or something like that.

We were a bit frustrated/disappointed when we tried to find a house to rent near the church and just couldn’t. So we are staying here near our church our old church Fourth Church and our good friends, where the rent is low and the floors are hardwood and hey, the neighbors only have 22 cats; that seems reasonable. Seriously, though, the house will work out fine for this year, and we’ll see how things look in the spring/summer. Friends as neighbors has been such a blessing (especially for Aaron who has been home with little miss whatcanIdoooooo? every day).

What else? Let me explain. No, is no time. Let me sum up (copied from a hasty email to a friend, so pardon the complete lack of editorial correctness!):

  • we moved out of Red Bricks into house by our (current/”old” church), on the hottest day possible
  • we looked for a house to rent closer to the church but were frustrated, could not find one that was decent for a semi-reasonable price, so we decided to forget it and stay here until spring/summer when it seems the rentals all turn over b/c of all the students…and we will see how it is going w/ the church too
  • so we finally started to unpack and settle in
  • and I narrowly avoiding killing anyone as it was 90s and humid practically every day and we have no air except a window unit we got working just in time (no way could I survive in Florida, sorry!)
  • Aaron had his meeting/interview with Classis
  • they finally set ordination service date–August 26
  • so I moved up our return from Oregon by a day, to the 24th!
  • work has continued to be busy busy esp since I will be gone for 2 full weeks after this week, for the trip to Oregon–I am going to a writer’s conference with my acquisitions mentor, then vacationing w/ the fam in our old town, plus up to WA to see friends
  • I had a good 6 inches cut off Anna’s hair because it was all just too much to manage (seriously probably 15 inches long). it’s short! but cute. she had it straightened for the first time when cut which was adorable and she loved it–but it lasted only hours b/c she was out an about with my mom in super humidity and I think some water splashing may have been involved and it went POOF! poor dear never even got to show it off.
  • and my parents bought a cottage up north! so we went up last week for a few days. It is a nice place on a quiet little lake near Sleeping Bear Dunes–heavenly!!!
  • Aaron’s first official Sunday as a pastor(!) is Sept 2 9.

That cover about 90 percent of the crazy. But are we ready for . . . church crazy? Yep, here I am, send me . . . the pastor’s wife?!?!?!

See you at ordination, I hope, if by then you’ve stopped laughing.


* I’m not sure yet if I’ll name the church on this blog. Maybe it needs a nickname. The MaxwellHouse of Worship?


You Gotta Let Me Know, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Never (Think about What You’re Doing Because Then You’d) Say Never–As soon as Aaron got off the crazy train of his seminary workload, it was time for me to take it for a spin. I have been hammering out a very special, very insanely rushed work project (although it has dragged out weeks longer than originally expected). I’m not going to disclose what it is here, but I will say that we expect sales to go, ahem, Nowhere but Up. It’s been unpredictable, but it’s exciting. I like the pressure. I’ll be let out of quarantine when this Fever breaks . . .

Adventures in Pre-Homelessness–We have to be out of seminary housing by July 8 (got a week extension). A lot still has to be packed, but more pressing is that we don’t actually know where we’re moving to. We’re trying to avoid moving someplace we don’t want to stay (i.e., not by whatever church we end up at), moving someplace we can’t afford (if a church job doesn’t come through), or moving twice. But we may end up doing the latter to avoid the former, since the clock is ticking and . . .

I Want You to Want Me–We are at an awkward place with our housing situation especially because we think we might be close to being able to commit to a place we’d really like . . . but first we’ve got to get a (certain) church to commit to us. But are they as close to a decision as we are to being house-less? You never know for sure when committees are involved. . .

Ironic songs playing on my iPod–“I Want You to Want Me,” “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “The Waiting Is the Hardest Part”


It is finished–seminary!

Technically Aaron has two days of classes left, but he is done with all his homework and projects, so that makes it all a lot more pleasant. Graduation is next Monday. Then he’ll study for his classis exams–oral examination by pastors/denominational reps in GR–which are in a few weeks, on his birthday.

I wouldn’t say the past three years have been a breeze–more like gale force winds with occasional hurricane-strength gusts. We’ve experienced fearful uncertainty, overwhelming anxiety, forehead-banging frustration, and periods of zombie-like survival mode. We’ve also shared a special solidarity with brothers in arms, true neighbor-love, tear-flowing laughter, and heart-healing prayer. And we’ve swapped sticks of butter and cups of milk, kitchen utensils, beers by the grill, stories around the bonfire, and turns making sure no kids launch themselves or others off the Big Slide of Dropoff Doom.

It would be impossible to catalog all that Aaron has learned, or to prove that the most important wisdom came from the classroom.

We’re glad to be done, but we will also be saying sad goodbyes to a lot of good things and dear people. I don’t think that has hit me yet, although sitting here waxing nostalgic brings it closer.

I am glad to have my husband “back.” He has done a great job staying connected and helping out with family life in the midst of all the pressures and projects. Seriously. Haven’t I bragged about my dinner prep guy? But still, many many evenings (well, after he did the dishes–I know!) he would study and I would wrangle AJ to bed and then work or multitask with the TV on (or proofread stinkin’ seminary papers! It got us both!). You grow used to, too used to, this upstairs-downstairs life after a time, but it’s not a habit I want to hold. That’s territory we’ll have to fight for in the future, I know, as ministry life has a way of creeping into all the nooks and crannies as well.

But this weekend–oh bliss!–he could play with Anna in the afternoon! He could put her to bed! He could be interrupted! When he said he could take AJ to her eye doctor appointment tomorrow so I didn’t have to miss work, I was almost confused. You still work here? Yippee!

Oh yes: completion = satisfaction!

So Resolved

Like half the interwebz, I made some resolutions/goals for 2012 and feel strangely compelled to share them here. I was inspired by this great printable sheet from Thirty Handmade Days:


The “one word” concept has been gaining popularity over the last few years. The idea is that you choose a word that you feel God is laying on your heart and/or that you want to focus on or be guided by for the next year. My word for 2012 is:


I don’t know what this year may hold, but I know God is moving us toward the next thing he has for us, whether that be a time of waiting or busy full-time ministry or something else unexpected. It rings in my ear and heart how our pastor has talked with us about having a strong spiritual life to get you through the struggles of ministry. And I know that life never slows down, it only goes faster and faster, and so I want to start now to cultivate the habits that will build the life I want to live. I want to PREPARE: spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially.

Here are some of my goals in the other areas:

What I really want in 2012 is:

  • to blog and journal regularly
  • to read for pleasure

What I really need in 2012 is:

  • to keep the checkbook & budget in order
  • to be consistent in parenting/discipline
  • to read Scripture daily
  • to limit my internet/social media with a reward approach
  • to floss my teeth

What I will share in 2012 is:

  • call/connect with friends I’m thinking of
  • be available for seminary friends & wives
  • practice hospitality in our home

In 2012 I will succeed at:

  • acquiring a new author
  • exercising 180 times
  • finishing seminary with no credit card debt/with savings
  • reading at least the entire New Testament

So (since it’s the end of January already) how’s all that working out for me? Well, mixed results, but moving in the right direction, I’d say. I’m on the way with some of my Needs and Succeeds: reading Scripture at breakfast, getting on the treadmill or busting out my wicked (ugly) Wii dance moves 2 or 3 times a week (despite determining I have plantar fascitis!), wielding the hammer of parental justice swiftly and calmly, and yes, I was even able to tell the hygenist honestly that I’ve recently taken up flossing from time to time. Obviously I have a ways to go on making writing/blogging a habit again! But I’m hopeful that as I get better at working these Need habits into my life, they will begin to yield the space and energy needed to do better in some of the Want and Share areas–although I need to stay intentional about those things too.

And while I’m oversharing and enjoying this blogging time, here’s another way (via the Dalai Mama) to look forward and back:

Things I Think Will Happen This Year—Aaron will freak out about graduating. Aaron will graduate anyway. Aaron will freak out about not getting a job. Aaron will get a job anyway—or if he doesn’t this year, he’ll still have plenty of reason to trust that he will, in time. I will freak out about moving. Moving will work out anyway. Anna will be ready for kindergarten, love it, and start reading. I’ll keep unofficially taking on more responsibility at work.

Stuff I Would Like To See In My Life—More discipline by me to allow more time for the things that are good for me and that I need and enjoy—reading, spiritual life, exercise, writing. More obedience with less attitude from AJ (it’s on me to make this happen). My husband using his many gifts in a place we love. Old friends. The ocean.

Things I Regret—I regret dwelling on regrets… Not being as close with some friends this year. Not recognizing the help some friends needed. Letting savings slip away.

Things I Am Proud Of—Our daughter and our family as a whole are awesome (toot toot goes my horn). Coming up on 15 years of marriage. Knowing my strengths.

One month in, how are your resolutions going, if you made some? What would be your one word?

Way Back in 2011…

Before we get to the new year and its routines and resolutions . . . a quick December recap:

  • Holy cow, I got a full month out of AJ’s box braids! I did them at Thanksgiving and made them last until Christmas Eve with a couple partial rebraids here and there. (Not saying they looked great by then…)
  • AJ turned five! We celebrated a little on her day, and then, because I am a moron a glutton for punishment always forgetting the December is an insane month a fun-loving happy-making theme-crafting mom, we had a Muppets themed birthday party. Photos of the Rainbow Connection cake to come!
  • After Christmas, we finally got to the movies to see The Muppets. It was AJ’s first non-drive-in movie experience, part of her birthday present, and she loved it. My brother and sister-in-law came too. AJ sang along. I cried, of course.  (Here is a great NPR interview about it.)
  • Aaron’s semester finished up with crazy amounts of work but good grades resulting, as usual.
  • Aaron was called upon on short notice to preach on Christmas Day because our pastor was really sick. He did a fantastic job! It was nice to go to church on Christmas too, although it made the day start early and go long. We actually didn’t go anywhere on Christmas Eve, just stayed home and enjoyed that…
  • THE LIONS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS! And overshadowed by yesterday’s stinker of a last game is that Matthew Stafford has been incredible this year with over 5000 yards and 41 touchdowns. The future is bright!

More soon on birthday, Christmas, and my one thing for the new year . . .

We Love a Parade!

AJ and I went downtown tonight for the annual Parade of Lights to kick off the Christmas season in Tuliptown. Weathermen were threatening a rain/snow mix, but it was nothing but chilly, so we bundled up and skipped the few blocks down the street to join the crowd. This parade features many random local businesses, marching bands, etc., covered in or wearing Christmas lights in whatever fashion possible. My favorite two years ago was a well-lit tanning bed.

bellsonbobcatsringAJ liked the Grinch, the sled dogs, the marching band, Santa and his fake snow machine, and anyone with candy. I liked the hot air balloon flame-shooter, the Bobcat with reindeer extending 30 feet in front of it, and the motorized buggy advertising the “Amish Warehouse.”

But mostly I love that my little girl loves to go do things with me and is always up for a celebration. She was sweeter than the hot cocoa we shared tonight!


Free Bonus Saturday

Yesterday we spent our Thanksgiving with my parents (at their house), my Grandma H., my aunt B., and Shaylala. Of course we had the pre-lunch of cheese and crackers, dips, veggies, etc., then watched a good half a football game before the perfectly timed (Yay, Mom!) Thanksgiving feast. AJ likes the word feast–“Tomorrow are we going to Grandma’s for the feast?” Then we watched a sad half a football game and drowned our sorrows in pie. It was a nice relaxed afternoon (until the napless one started melting down at heading-home time, anyway).

Today AJ scared me to half to death by coming and leaning on me while I was sleeping, but I got a few extra Zs anyway. We didn’t do much in the morning except go the Christmas market downtown for a bit, which was probably a bad plan because I got a late start on her hair. It had been in twists, then in a twist-out since Sunday. ERROR–it was kind of a mess and so the whole washing and detangling process took much longer than I’d hoped. I also started braiding without much of a plan, so I ended up with a bunch of box braids which also took forever. Which meant a late/short naptime for her and not much day left for me to accomplish anything else. But that’s okay, because tonight we are going to hang out with old friends, and tomorrow I should have time to clean up the house before we have seminary people over. I don’t think I’ll get any shopping in this weekend except to order some badly needed hair products that are on sale.

Thank goodness for Free Bonus Saturdays!

Double-Stop Shopping

In an attempt to have enough food in the house to get us through the weekend and beginning of next week without going near a store within 48 hours on either side of Thanksgiving . . . I did double grocery shopping tonight. I hit the new Aldi, a bare-bones discount store, and then Meijer. Whew. That was a couple hours and a bunch of bucks, although considering we are having people over and I tend to get out of control for events (I wonder where I learned this, ahem, Mom), it could have been worse had I not knocked a bunch off the list at Aldi. I am still learning what they have there at good prices that we like, so I need to keep Aldi-ing regularly to learn how to make the most of it.

Generally I do not like to run from store to store, though. I usually end up going on Saturdays during AJ’s nap, and frankly it wastes enough of my Saturday hitting one store. I should try to go on weeknights more, although it seems so late and I’m exhausted by the time I get it all put away. I know it’s possible to figure out the store sale cycles and get the good deals every week at each store, but that does take some planning and extra time.

I also should be using coupons more–okay, I hardly ever use them. Again mostly it’s a matter of figuring out a system. But it has to be pretty simple or I’m not going to do it. I’m also not interested in stockpiling a basement full of canned goods, although it’s nice to have the things I use regularly on hand.

I guess there’s sort of two philosophies of grocery shopping: (1) plan your meals for the week or month, and only buy what you need for those meals; or (2) buy what you use regularly when it’s cheapest and stock it until you use it. I guess I have been doing sort of a hybrid. I plan meals for the week because otherwise this house would not function (or be fed, anyway), and make sure I have/buy what I need for the week. But I also buy things I know I’ll use when I see them on sale, leading to a certain amount of canned goods and cream cheese stockpiling.

What’s your system? Any couponing or other grocery saving tips? Simple resources you’ve tried?


It’s 8:12 pm and I have zero energy. I know it’s because I was up really, really irresponsibly late last night (having way too much totally worth it enjoyable conversation and laughter). But many days I am just done by AJ’s bedtime–can it be mine? Of course I’m not bright enough to actually go to bed extra early. Then when would I waste time online take care of all the important things to be done?

I know I don’t have any less time in my day than anyone else. It feels like it sometimes, though, because I’m so mentally worthless after dark. And I’m already getting up in the dark, barely after 5:30. There are things I would like to build into my life, but when? I just can’t get up one single minute earlier. Until the snow gets bad, when I’ll have to. Bah.

I know I need to make better use of these couple evening hours, and I know I am not always as tired as I am tonight. It’s often a matter of momentum too–applying energy creates energy, or getting started keeps me going. Kind of the same theory that’s making me blog right now. (Well, that and stubbornness.)

And now that I’ve stared at this screen for ten minutes while my mind totally zoned out from any coherent thought I was going to add . . . I think I’ve made my point!

Today I…

  • made french toast
  • got gas
  • went to the library
  • shopped at the farmer’s market
  • sorted toys
  • took toys to thrift shop
  • stopped at Target
  • made applesauce and squash
  • worked out
  • showered (finally)
  • made easy chicken alfredo for dinner
  • grocery shopped
  • checked fantasy football roster
  • blogged

I am ready to sit down and do one more thing: watch an episode of Chuck.

Looking forward to a much lazier Sunday!