Saturday, August 8, 2015

The wedding season.

A few words on our wedding season.

Prior to our wedding, we were involved in premarital counseling and sought additional outside counsel from various couples we respected. We knew we needed help preparing us for marriage. On top of that, we both had our fair share of 'baggage" to deal with, hopefully in a constructive, together, sort of way. In retrospect, from the advice that was shared, no one quite seemed to get it right in terms of what to expect, how I would feel, etc. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that marriage isn’t the same for everyone. All those counselors could do is speak from their experience, and hope it guides our future in a positive way. Our story though, was different from others we’d known.

“Steve, we have some things to talk about. Perhaps you should sit down,” were the words trickling from my boss’s mouth.

Immediately my mind raced to oh no, I’m getting fired. I’m getting fired?

I had been working for a small consulting company based in Easton Pennsylvania, an hour and half away from where we lived, for the previous two years. Rachel and I had just signed a year lease for an apartment in Easton, the weekend prior. We were excited to move when we got married, which was in the end of September. This discussion took place in the last week of August.

“Do I need to update my resume?” I asked half-jokingly.

My boss went onto explain that he had sold his small consulting company, to a not so small consulting company, but that I would have a job within the new company. No, I would not need to update my resume. The moment of angst swiftly passed, at least for the immediate future. Additionally, he would remain my boss, which was a positive from my side, though maybe not from his - it is hard to tell. He had mentioned previously he didn’t love managing people. Maybe he was joking.

The next wave of concern crashed through my mind, “do I need to get out of my lease?”
Fortunately for everyone involved, my boss included, we were going to work out of our small, previous book store, office in downtown Easton. My first day would be Monday, September 29th, the Monday after our wedding. No, no, for you who wonder… My boss was not unreasonable. He was actually great. My first day with the new company would take place while I was on my honeymoon, but I would be on vacation, clearly.   The first week at the new company would be the easiest first week I’ve ever had, the kind where you aren’t actually at work.

The special day, was special. We joke that our wedding was the best wedding; I’m sure most couples do. However, we are quite sure ours actually was. This is confirmed by everyone we’ve talked to about it saying so. Even our friend wedding photographer told us it was in the top few she had ever been to. She had been to a lot of weddings, so that is saying something. It was a perfect day involving our friends, family, and Rachel’s creativity.

Some of the most memorable moments were the best man and maid of honor speeches, and for all intents and purposes, the backup maid of honor and 2nd man speeches. What could we say; we liked hearing stories about ourselves. Brittany had the crowd rolling about our running, or lack thereof adventures. Brian told the tale of my career path and the qualities of mine it spoke to. Debbie spoke to how beautiful Rachel was and Luke focused on a younger time of my life and the importance of Jack Daniels. They were truly touching moments.

The most embarrassing moment came when we went to cut the cake. In all the uncertainty of wedding formalities, it was unclear to me when to miss my wife’s mouth with the cake and brush her face with it. What ensued was basically a side arm swing of wedding cake directly at Rachel’s face. Everyone felt embarrassed for me, including myself.  Next time someone asks me for wedding advice, I’ll be sure to direct them on knowing the purpose of those wedding traditions, and how to go about executing them without looking like an aggressive moron.

We went out from our reception, to my Prius covered with icing, to leave for the night, when we realized one last hiccup; the car doors were locked. Fortunately, my brother saved the day, unlocking us to the next stage in life. We got all aboard and drove off to our hotel with a Jacuzzi, which would become a pattern we’ve found hard to break.

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credits: Blackstone Photography

Friday, November 14, 2014


This past weekend while I sat wide awake at 6 am in Boston waiting for my family to rise, I decided to do something I hardly ever do; I decided that I would give  fiction a try. As I glanced across the book shelf in my brother's apartment, the book that caught my eye was The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. An hour or so later, I was completely invested in the book. It inspired me to write and the following is what flowed out. Admittedly so the style is inspired by the Screwtape letters.

Oh Sally,
How are the kids; how are their friendships coming? You know it is very important for kids to form strong  friendships. They have the propensity to only last a few years now, I know, but on the off chance they find their soul friend, the friend who understands them down to their bones, you wouldn't want to take that away from them. Those soul friends have a way of sticking around with them throughout the years. From the time they graduate cyber elementary school to the time they are through the online university. They will need those soul friends to share life’s very special circumstances with.
I saw you point out the benefits of machine friends. You had many fine points about them being more cost effective, not needing to buy them holiday and birthday presents and all, but let me caution you from this. Machine friends have no soul or mind Sally. These are very important. The only things machine friends can do are those which you as a parent program them to do. Your kids will not experience differing thought or true relationship with machine friends. They cannot experience love. Love is not able to flourish in a machine. At the best all the machine friend can bring is temporary joy and amusement. For love to be a part of their friendships they need real life friendships with other humans. Machines do not have the choice to love, and for there to be love, there must be choice.
Please do send my best to Jonathon. I do miss seeing him around the homestead since you’ve moved to Cleveland. I’m not sure why you had to move anyway, with jobs being virtually fully online now. We look forward to our virtual visit with the kids on Sunday. Our hearts long to see them.
With love,

Momma Forethought.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, January 6, 2014

My thoughts 10 months out

Yesterday at the Core, our young adult ministry at LEFC, we had a brunch and talked about two simple questions. The first was what are we currently doing that we don’t want to be doing, and the second was what do we wish we were doing, that we aren’t currently doing? We ate and discussed in small groups.

My extended response to the second questions is as follows:
The funny thing about serious relationships is that they expose so much of who you are. They shine light on your insecurities, faults, needs, lazy habits, all of it. If you want the relationship to last, you need to make adjustments, acknowledge your weaknesses, and ask for help and forgiveness when you need it. You begin to realize that you aren’t the only captain of this boat you’ve been sailing for so long, but that your choices and interactions matter and make a difference to someone else. They impact another human being for better and for worse.  Do you know what it feels like to cause pain in someone else because of your own  insecurities? It is actually horrible. It is humbling being in a relationship. Anyone who has experienced love knows what I mean. Love is shown when we are undeserving. Love is selfless. Rachel shows me love when I don’t deserve it. I recently wrote to her in a card about this. About how thankful I am that I get to marry her soon. About how her love  is a picture of God’s love. The sort of selfless, undeserving kind.

The other day Rachel mentioned to me that we need to talk more often. My initial reaction was (at least in my head, probably not vocalized) “what are you talking about? We talk all the time!” You would think when you spend close to everyday with someone you  talk a lot. However, as you probably can predict, she wasn’t just talking about the simple action of talking to talk. We needed to connect on a deeper level. It’s funny because before we dated we were close friends. Most of our hangouts included bible studies, small group studies, or coffee shop moments where you talk about the great mysteries of self and God (we also ran, but I generally try to block that and the subsequent pain it brings out of my mind). All these things set a foundation for knowing each other on an intimate level.

So how did we get to a point where we need to be a bit more intentional about how we are spending our time? I have a theory but as I was typing it out it was sounding like an excuse. I don’t think it necessarily matters for us in this case. What I think matters is adjusting the way we are, this means adjusting the way I am. Luckily I had a plan… I was watching the second best TV show I’ve ever seen, House, when Wilson and his girlfriend, previous wife, were playing a game of Blackjack. The thought occurred to me, we need something a bit more active to do together then just hanging around at our apartments and wasting time. I brought up the idea of beginning to play a game. Blackjack wasn’t going to work, but perhaps chess! I like chess. Anyways, perhaps we will do that but we also put some other plans in motion. We began reading together, as in out loud to each other, a book by Ravi Zacharias.

Yesterday while we were hanging out at Rachel's apartment, we had a few hours to kill and didn’t know what to do with the time. Most of me wanted to just lay on the couch and fall asleep, probably a pretty great use of time… However, something inside me knew that this would be a sort of defining moment. If I let my lazy desires get the best of me, would that be the course for our relationship going forward in the midst of learning more and growing in understanding? So what I did was I pulled out the Ravi Zacharias book, and we started reading. It was nice. An aside; I actually really love when Rachel reads to me because I can focus better on the words. I also like reading out loud, not so much because it helps me focus, but because I know that it helps me with our language. They both have their benefits. We are only one chapter in but I think it will be good and challenging. It will allow for constant discussion and deeper communication.

What I am learning is that being a part of a relationship means being less selfish and being more selfless. It is my joy to put Rachel first.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Engaging Engagement

Well about a month ago I took Rachel out on a date. We are pretty busy people so we generally plan our dates a few weeks in advance. Immediately after planning the date with Rachel I started to think about the possibility of getting engaged. The great thing about how we plan dates is that we generally don’t set what we are going to do in stone when we decide we are going to go on a date (This is not  always the case, as in if we want to go to the movies, we would plan to go to the movies for example). So we had a date set for our date, the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The funny thing about thinking about getting engaged is there is a lot of forethought that has to go into it. Luckily for me I had thought about it much before and already had a ring! That was nice since I didn’t have to pay for one on shorter notice; it was already paid for and in my possession.  We had talked about getting engaged a bit before this, though less in November and September, so it was already on the radar, I was pretty sure Rachel would say yes!

Before we started dating we went to this place called Peddler’s Village. At the time we were only friends, but the “hang out” blurred the line of a date, and cemented in my mind that I wanted to date Rachel. It sort of ignited the pursuit if you will.  So back in early November while I was thinking if getting engaged on this particular Friday in the end of November was feasible, I quickly settled on wanting to get engaged there. I even had an idea! I would learn to play/sing a song by Joy Ike, which we relate to, and change the words to “would you want to spend your life with me? Would you marry me?” It was perfect, only not so much for reasons discussed later. It was a good start though!

I did what any young engaging ready person would do. I called my mom and told her I would need my ring back! She had been keeping it at my parents’ house for safe keeping. The next step was talking to Rachel’s dad. I knew I had to do it, and tried to not procrastinate too much, but I really had no idea what an acceptable timeline to do all these things in was. Two weeks before our date I sent Mr. Landis an email to see if he would like to get together, he obliged. The Thursday of the week before our date we had coffee and discussed the prospect of marriage, among many other things.  It was actually a really great time, though I was pretty nervous going into it. It’s a new level of vulnerability to tell your prospective wife’s father, what you think of her, and how you want to marry her.

Anyways, moving on… I was back in a pickle of trying to figure out how I would ask Rachel on our date. I decided early on that I was most likely not going to do it at dinner, it just didn’t feel right. I liked the idea of playing a song but switching the lyrics, though how was I going to bring a guitar to a place like Peddlers Village and not have that super obvious? What I settled on was I would record myself playing the song, put it on my ipod, then ask her if she wanted to listen to it with me (this would probably take place on a bench…. It did). So I did that.

About this time I was with Rachel in the car driving somewhere, and she asked if I knew what we were going to do on our date. I nonchalantly said yes and agreed with her that it would be a secret. Little did I know this would be a huge moment.

The Friday of our date I had to work, though not a lot for some reason. I was working from home, which was great. I walked outside to an overcast sky; I began to hope that it would clear up.  I began to feel nervous. Knowing you are going to commit yourself to someone is one thing, knowing you are going to do that that day is a whole other level of feeling,  I was nervous, and freaking out inside for a bit. About an hour before Rachel was going to show up at my house I put on my jacket, with the ring/box in the inside pocket of my left side, on and sat down on a couch and waited.  I put the ring and its box on the left side of me because sometimes when I drive Rachel puts her head on my right arm and I was afraid she would bump into it.

Sometime before we got to Peddlers Village she guessed that is where we were going. That was okay. I thought it would be pretty hard to make it there without her knowing since the drive is memorable.  We arrived around 5:15 or 5:30 and went straight to the restaurant I had called earlier in the day to ask for a reservation. They told me on the phone that it was only walk ins that night. When we got there it was about a 2 hour wait. We put our name in and went looking elsewhere for some dinner. It was the light ceremony that Friday so it was pretty packed, which was cool, but crowded. After the lights turned on we got a call from a different restaurant we put our names in at that they had a table for us! Excitedly and hungry we rushed over to eat. It was really good, a quite satisfying dinner.  Up until this point I had been pretty calm since I knew that I wasn’t going to propose until after dinner. However, the after dinner time began.

We started walking through some shops and just enjoying our time. It began to get pretty awkward for me since I forgot that we usually hold hands on my left, which was where the ring/box combo was nestled. This caused for some awkward walk a rounds and switching sides all night. Luckily, she never noticed!  

Next I ran into another problem. IT WAS RAINING! How am I going to sit on a bench outside, ask her to listen to this song, when it’s wet out? Rachel does not like to sit in the rain, or the cold, which it was both, so it was going to be a challenge. I decided let’s go get a brownie at this coffee shop we ate at last year and maybe they have outside seating that is covered! It was super crowded inside and the outside seating did not have cover. However the crowd inside was making me anxious, which I think Rachel could tell, so she suggested we sit outside anyway.  We walked around the side and to the front when we saw it! Drum roll…. A BENCH WITH AN OVERHANG! We hastily made our way to sit in it then started eating our brownie, the only reason she knew why we were sitting down.

There were these 3 older ladies who were standing and talking for a while near us, so I wanted them to leave before I was going to propose.  My nerves grew as we just sat there and I waited for them to leave. They finally did! I was pumped, but then other people began walking towards us. They were actually walking towards the store that we were sitting in front of. After the area in front of us cleared I asked Rachel if she would want to listen to a song I recorded, which isn’t completely uncommon/out of the blue. She said yes and we listened. About a minute left in the song people started walking towards us, and I began to freak out inside again. I’m not sure how to describe it, but a lot of nervousness and a lot of “I want this to be perfect.” We got to the end where it said “Will you marry me,” and no one was around. It took me what felt like an eternity to reach inside my jacket to get the ring, and asked her “ well, will you?” She responded with an excited “are you serious” and “yes!”

She was surprised and wasn’t expecting it! I had been calm and chill all night which she took as I wasn’t nervous. She also had camped out on this thought that she was the one who suggested I keep the date a surprise, so there is no way it could be when I would propose, since it was her idea. That was far from the truth, but I’m glad it worked out that way! I was never intending to tell her where we were going, that’s why I never brought it up. However, it worked out perfectly J

That is the story of our engaging engagement!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Upsides

Before I was a Christian and stopped listening to most music outside of worship and the Gaslight Anthem I used to love the cd called the Upsides by sort of local, friend of friends, band named the Wonder Years. I must say I do love me some pop punk. It hits home for some reason and usually gets me pretty stoked on things. Well that’s kind of the point of this post… I’m living in the Upsides, at-least the upsides of my life.  To be honest I have a lot to be stoked on.

When I was in college I spent most of my time being depressed. I know that sounds like the typical, need sympathy and attention college kid story or something but it was true. A school nurse actually asked me if I wanted to take a depression screening and when I did and it came back that I was depressed she got me right in to see the school psychologist. Anyways, that didn’t last long as I didn’t actually want to be depressed and I didn’t see the point in going.  I don’t need to go in detail of why I was depressed but I think it had a lot to do with putting identity in the wrong places and not having hope in general. One thing did help though, this cd. I remember playing it a lot in those days. I even told my roommate at the time, that it truly helped me through some times. People also say that a lot, but this was different, I meant it… Anyways, though the cd helped it didn’t actually fix anything.

So now I’m 25 and can truly say I don’t think I’ve been depressed (at least anything that’s lasted) since I’ve been 22. I’ve had times of sadness but I’ve had a hope in something greater since my 22nd year, a hope in Jesus. Perhaps my testimony can be summed up as just that, God has brought life where there once was death.

I always used to look down on getting older, another year would go by, my hair would be thinner, my waist perhaps thicker, and my time running out to meet someone, anyone.  Anyways, along with this change in my faith, a lot has changed even this past year.

In May I turned 25, a quarter of a century and it was good. My 24th year on this planet was great. I want to highlight just a few things.

First and most important, I began dating one of my best friends and it has been one of the best things to happen to me. Rachel is awesome, caring, loving, dedicated, driven, and an inspiration. I love getting to spend time with her and being a part of different ministries together. It’s awesome to see our relationship grow, it’s just awesome.

Second, I landed an awesome full time job in my field of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Safety. If you know much about me you might know that I had a full time job and quit it based entirely on the amount of travel that was involved. After that I had a hard time finding a job and was getting pretty desperate. After working some part time things I was hired full time for a nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities live as a direct care worker.  In that time my current boss was looking for part time IH help; I applied, got it, and started working for him. After 6 or so months he offered me a full time job and I accepted. It has been an awesome blessing and I truly think it is perfect for me right now. My boss rules.

Third, there has been some sweet Worship music happening. My favorites the past year include Hillsong United – Zion, Jesus Culture – Live from New York, and Rend Collective – Campfire. It’s awesome to be inspired musically and spiritually all at once.

Life is pretty awesome right now, I truly feel like I’m living in the ‘upsides’.

Be blessed,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Feeling Inspired

Today I was thinking about all the facebook posts that I have read about religion and marriage rights, feeling moved I decided to write a song from my prospective. Lyrics below:

Holy Spirit would you come
would you lead your church out from our
dying ways
could you teach us to love
love in a way without hypocrisy
blessing us with your truth
your goodness will cause your doubters to cry out
for your mercy and grace
bowing every knee down by your side
Oh oh You are Holy, You are Holy Holy Lord
Oh forgive us God of love
We have made mistakes and caused your world to fall
All our flesh is as grass
Withering away, approaching holiness
But you called us to truth
by marvelous light remove our darkest side
and by one simple rule
we sing out our joy with praise and thankfulness
Oh oh You are Holy, You are Holy Holy Lord
If you came down Lord
Would you find your people
would you feel your love
we are your people
and all we want
is to know your Glory
and all we need
is to know you more

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Simple Understandings

Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best. Sometimes the simplest revelations are the greatest, as they often come when you need them and keep you excited about pursing God.  This past week I came to such a revelation; one so small that it’s obvious, but one so good it’s excited me enough to write this blog post.

I’m just going to set the stage for a few moments here. The background to all of this is that I have been involved in worship for what feels like close to two years now, probably not quite but close. When I came to God 2.5 years ago, it didn’t take long for me to start being involved in different ministries and in particular leading worship. After all, I spent the better part of my high school and college years playing music in bands and writing music, it was only natural for me.

For the past year I have fallen back on Psalm 100 as a reason to lead and participate in worship. It starts out by telling us to “make a joyful noise to the Lord,” and continues in verse 2 “ come into his presence with singing.” In verse 4 it tells us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!” This culminates in telling us “For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”  So it kind of tells me what to do and why I should do it. Maybe that is an oversimplification of it, but I’m the type of person that does better when I’m told what is expected of me. Of course there is more to wanting to worship God then just because the bible tells us to do so, but I’m wondering now as writing, should we need more? That is something to ponder I suppose. Anyways that’s part one of background.

Part two goes like this; I’ve been working from home a lot this past week. Working from home has it’s benefits, and downfalls as well. One such is that it is so hard to concentrate for 8 hours; but the benefits way outweigh this I think.  So I’ve been working from home and listening to music on Pandora, the best thing on the Internet. So I have had my Gaslight Anthem station going on for the past few days and while I do enjoy it, I was just feeling like I am taking in too much negativity. Let’s be honest for a second, some music that would come up on a Gaslight Anthem station is just depressing. I really wanted to just listen to worship music instead, while working. So instead of typing in a worship artist I did what any reasonable Christian would do, join the Bethel internet stream so I could listen to the worship music coming out of that church, since in general it’s pretty great.

So I started listing to a Bryan and Katie Torwalt set when I came to this simple revelation, the reason worship music is so great is because God is part of it. I like music; I like God, what would be better than something that combines the two? I get excited to go see my favorite secular band. How much more excited am I to see Bryan and Katie Torwalt in a few weeks?  I get to sing along to music that I like, while offering praise and thanksgiving to God. When we offer praise and thanksgiving, it’s not just fallen on deaf ears; God is receiving it.  It’s like this for me right now. Music = Music. Worship = Music + God.  Choice 2. Thanks for bearing with my over-simplifications.