Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Check out this blog.

How cute is that tote?

More importantly, check out Sparklepower

Seriously, one of my favorites.  She is a wife/mom/cook/friend/sister/daughter just like YOU.  But, look at the all the FREAKIN amazing stuff she makes!  Buy some of it! 

Love to you really do rock!

even on the hard days....

i have to just say I love these two more than I can articulate.

i would do anything for them.

i would kill anyone who tried to hurt them. (not even kidding)

they make life sweeter than pie....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I heart my church...

So, we go to a church in Lakewood.

I can honestly say we have found a home there.  Originally, we knew the leaders there through Joel's freelance work and doing some guest worship leading.  A year later, we see something unique in the culture of this place.

It's a common thing to hear people 'say' that we're to be "Be the Church" today.  I have said it often myself.  However, this is a group who is really doing it.  I walk into the greeted with smiles and lots of love for Leland (who flirts with all the women there.)  Joel leads worship and has been flabbergasted at the talented group he is able to work with.  It's humbling.

As a mom, though, i must say I am astonished at how my nearly 5 year old is learning the truth of the Bible in a fun, memorable and safe way.  On the way to church, he begs me if he can go to his class....he willingly chit chats with his friends once there...and when I come to pick him up, he has memorized a portion of the Bible...created a craft to visually represent it...and made a unique memory with the caring workers there.

I ask him the infamous "Mom" question in the car: "What did you learn in your class today, Jude?"  I sit amazed at the detail of what he has learned.  He begins to talk about 'living a life of love' everyday.  He will mention how important it is to be respectful to Mommy & Daddy.  He will even remind me that he wants to go home and read his bible.

When it comes to 'church' (which most think of as a building), I am honored/humbled/delighted that we crossed paths with this one.

I also must express the importance in thanking the people who take care of these precious children each week.  Their sacrifice is not only in missing church that Sunday....but in the hours of prep...the shopping for prizes and craft supplies...scheduling and yes, prayer over our kiddos! wow!  What if we blew them away this coming week and gave them a 'Thank You' note?  What if we stuck a $5 Starbucks gift card in their bag?  It doesn't take much to show just means you actually need to do it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cleveland International Film Festival

So besides the amazing artists/musicians/chefs that reside in Cleveland, something else to LOVE about this city is the Cleveland International Film Festival. It's honestly one of my favorite times of year. I got introduced to it once my husband started to work for TWIST Creative Incorporated. They are the creative consultants for the film fest each year.

The films represent more than 60 countries and are from all 7 continents! Who says Cleveland
doesn't have culture?

Joel and I were privileged to attend the opening night film & Gala.

I truly encourage participation in something so unique in our beautiful city. It's made the month of March come alive!

Friday, March 26, 2010

the pain was real

I sit here on a cold & snowy Friday morning in March. Lots of things to be to do. However, I am brought a place in my heart a little over a year ago.

After the loss of our 2nd child, the fertility struggle was more than I was prepared for. I had become a recluse - for those of you that know me, that is the farthest from the 'real' me. I was tired of 'hoping' every month only to be disappointed. I felt bad having so many tears. Joel was more of my therapist than my husband. He had to step into a new role in that season.

I remember hearing friends tell me they would pray and remember us each night before bed. It encouraged me. It made me smile to know there were others who understood.

I think it's important to note that while our prayer was answered with a little bundle of pudge called Leland...the pain we experienced is not forgotten. The prayers those of you prayed for us will never be forgotten. I look at our life and stand grateful. Not just for an answered prayer. But, for the ability to now relate with a heap of women around the globe who ache for a child...who dread church-going on Mother's Day...who find Mommy groups annoying. I get it.

If you ever find someone who has this advice to you is not in what 'words' to speak. Rather; Pray. For in prayer there comes change.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the bff

I remember being a little girl and creating my 'list' what I wanted in a guy. Truth be told, I wanted a "David & Goliath" type. Super duper strong - so strong he could toss a rock at a big scary giant and kill it on the spot...yet so sensitive that he played the harp and wrote poetry. Hot, huh?

In reviewing the past years in Jr. High & high school, the guys I was drawn to had some similar characteristics to this: Musicians, Musicians, Musicians.

After being told I would probably marry someone like my Dad, I used to confuse myself as to why I wasn't attracted to the leader/speaker/pastor type. I just wasn't. Was I being rebellious? It just wasn't my dish.

Funny, after Joel and I became friends at Teen Mania, he invited me to sing with him on his worship team. We used to meet up with friends at this 'hole in the wall' breakfast joint and honestly laugh until our sides hurt. I realized, "Gosh, I love this guy! He is my best friend!" Not realizing it, he was assuming the same thing. When time came for us to go back home (Joel to MI and me to OH) - we got sad. What would happen to this friendship?

Obviously, through some awkward moments...we finally decided that our "BFF" needed to be our spouse. I have never regretted that decision.

A wise friend once told us, "When you wonder if 'he/she' is the right person for you, ask yourself, are they your best friend? If so, then you found 'em!" (Thanks Keith, good advice!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

never a day like today

So, it's rainy out. Cold. So unlike last week.

However, for some reason, I arose before my waking baby and felt a freshness. I knew today was a day to use and accomplish much.

After a really intriguing message at our church yesterday, I came home excited. I have been around the bible a long time. However, just going through a study of one of its books (John) has me intrigued. What will I find in this time around? What new and fresh piece will come alive?
So, what's the plan for this rainy day?

-Soak in some of this great book of John
-Reinforce to Jude the power of "Living a life full of Love" like he learned yesterday at church
-Cuddling the cutest baby I know
-Cleaning/Cooking/Laundry (just like everyday)

What will you do with your Monday?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The famous Red Lobster Biscuits

I don't know why I stumbled across this recipe...but when I saw it, I had to make them. It had been years since we dined at Red Lobster....and I knew Joel would love a little tasty trip back to 2002!

Here is the recipe..I even took photos as pics ALWAYS help me when I am cooking and baking something new!


2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix

¾ cup cold whole milk

4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Brush on Top:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes

½ teaspoon garlic powder

pinch salt


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don't want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.

3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Greatest Day Ever"

Yesterday. Monday. Normal routine.

Jude followed me around as I mopped the floor. I could sense he was a little bored. I put down the mop, looked at his little face and had a plan.

I sent him to grab 3 sheets of copy paper. check.

I told him to grab the best crayons in the house. check.

I told him he had a spot saved next to Mommy. I proceeded to show him how to fold a paper airplane. He was fascinated. How could 'paper' suddenly transform into an aircraft? Before his very eyes, this beautiful plane had been constructed and was ready to be decorated.

He made his plane colorful with shapes all over it. I used different color circles for mine and made one for Joel with 'manly' blue/green/tan stripes.

The next part of the day was the best. We have a set of stairs and a loft that you can look over - so I raced him to the top and we flew our planes down over and over and over and over.

For him the best part of the day was racing those planes...for me the best part was hearing him say, "Mommy, this was the Greatest Day EVER!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Squeeze Tighter. Love Deeper.

A friend of ours passed away last week. We knew him well at one point in time.

3 months before he married his bride, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. They were in love, full of faith, and partnered up in covenant. I just sank in my seat reading up on the blog his Mom wrote for she watched him fight, suffer, and just last week....drift away.

I admired this mother for her courage....but for how much she poured into her children while they were here. It blew my mind, honestly.

It makes me want to be better. More honest. More in love. More passionate. More 'in the moment' rather than waiting for what might be next. I pray for Amy (his wife) as she is in the toughest part of her grief without her life partner on earth any longer. Her sorrow is so deep - so raw. I pray for a holy comfort - one not a human could conjure up - to envelop her.

Today I will hug these boys a bit tighter...and when my man arrives home tonight, I will tell him I love him one more time than I normally do.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Do you ever get sick of what you hear in the media about the 'STARS' who are caught in domestic violence? DUIs? Drug Use? Sex Scandals?

I imagine the life they lead...walking in and out of their homes escorted by paid individuals who protect them from harm. They have tinted windows on their car, sunglasses covering 2/3 of their face, and are faced with dozens of cameras flashing left and right.

NOT the life I want.

However, I compare that life with what I see in the church today. Yep. The church.

The leaders of churches are watched like hawks. Their lives and actions are under a microscope. If they mess up, people get anxious and begin questioning whether what they have heard them teach "all this time" is really true. I mean....really....being a minister these days is the same as being a celebrity - just without all the money.

I think the only solution to this is to quit treating these leaders/ministers like celebrities. Why do people think they are better if they get invited to dinner at their house? Sometimes it is like a race to who can go up and talk to the pastor first. I mean, really? Whose approval are we after?

If we put such ministers up higher and higher on pedestals of fame....get ready to have them come tumbling down at the first sign of 'human' behavior they exhibit. What if our 'needyness' to leadership was placed toward God....the only perfect being. What if instead of bragging on how we had lunch 'with the pastors' , we bragged on how much we enjoyed a quiet house filled with worship to the Creator of the World.

I will tell you what will happen:

1-God will be heard speaking to His people
2-Pastors will have the freedom to be transparent with their people without fear of offense
3-Our esteem will be placed on a Rock rather than in waivering relationships based on what 'men' think of us
4-We will finally function as the whole, redeemed and healed people God has made us to be.

Pray for your leaders....encourage them...serve them...but remember whose approval you need!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

fear. its silly.

As a youngster, I grew up an only had its advantages:

-Sharing didn't exist at my house. It was all mine.
-Attention was mine too.
-Did I mention not having to share?

But, in all seriousness....It was tough. Lots of quiet...lots of play on my own....lots of one-on-one with my parents (which I truly loved) but a someone to play with was always a lingering desire.

I had a fear growing up. Once in my teens, I thought "What if I never get to be an aunt?" I mean, if I marry another only child....our children will have no cousins. I know that is far-thinking for a pre-teen....but it worried me.

Time went on...after meeting Joel and falling in love, I got introduced to his 3 brothers. Immediately immersed in the funny stories, ER visits, broken bone sagas, etc. I LOVED it! I loved every moment of hearing the stories about Matt and his crazy pranks on Ryan and Joel....I loved watching my husband laugh as they remembered. I also noticed how happy Joel's parents were as they reminisced over it all. Memories they had worked hard to make....never forgotten.

Joel and I married and I was excited to have a nephew...he was ADORABLE (still is) - Elijah! Oh Elijah was the baby Joel and I 'pretended' was ours....we loved taking him out for a little jaunt with Uncle Joel and soon to be Aunt Jess....I remember a sigh of relief to the fear I had before....I was an AUNT!!

Along came Aidan...the fiery 2nd born with dimples and a smile that would make girls want to throw him their room keys and bras....this guy is going to be HOT...all I gotta say!

Next was the exciting news...during a tough time in the family...that a new nephew/niece would be along....a month after that news...was OUR news of little Jude-to-be in my tummy tum tum. I was a part of it now. Mommyhood.

Fast forward to the present and ANOTHER great nephew has been added - along with a beautiful new son of my own. Fears....they are not worth the time. I thank God for the blessing of these my life as they teach me about God's innocence...and in my children's lives as they teach one another about family.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

30 = HOT

So, my husband is approaching the big 3-0!!! I ca
n hardly believe that we were 18 and 19 years old when we met on this long bus ride to Colorado...sharing life, dreams, goals, and here we are almost 11 yrs and 2 kids later...

He's a successful graphic artist/photographer/worship leader/musician/song writer/carpenter/handyman/leader/composer/chef-wannabe

He's 2nd of 4 boys....typical second child syndrome. I just want to give him the most beautiful birthday ever....I need help, though. I need need need IDEAS! How can I make this memorable without breaking the bank? Special without going overboard? Themed enough without being cheesy?

If you know Joel, you know this about him:


Organic friendship
Good music
A great meal

If you've got ideas....get them to me!