Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pretending.



I read this on Sunday on the Post Secret blog.
I've been thinking about it a lot this week.
(Or I guess it would be more accurate to say: I've been pretending a lot this week)

It causes me to love and relish the life that I have and the season that I'm living in right now.
It makes me cuddle up closer to my husband,
and cherish him even more.
 It helps me to celebrate and appreciate my friends,
and enjoy every moment I have with each member of my family.
Everything in life suddenly does become a gift.

It's quite fun, actually. 
I highly recommend "pretending" you're a time traveler from the future this week.
I know it sounds silly...
But no one has to know about it.


It can be our little "secret"
;-)



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Youth Ministry Fun!

Here is a glimpse into what we've been up to with the teens lately!

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to play wiffle ball before youth group started.  It had a slight twist, though... the wiffle ball was filled with whipped cream. 

It.
was.
awesome.


Jordan taking a swing.


Adam taking a swing.


Waiting to take their turn and/or trying to avoid having to take a turn :-)

 

Moving right along, Several weeks ago I hosted the annual Girls Spring Break Senior High Sleepover. 
and... I did something I always said I would never do with the girls who came.

I took them TP'ing.

Ok now before you go on thinking I'm the worst youth leader and pastor's wife ever let me explain:

1. There were 6 girls.  All juniors and seniors.  Only 1 of them had ever been TP'ing.  One!  Considering that half of them are graduating in a month or two, it was likely that they would never, ever have a chance to ever participate in this classic high school experience.  Was I just supposed to stand by and watch this golden opportunity slip through their adolescent fingers?  I think not!

2. I had just talked to a friend of mine (and fellow youth leader) several days before.  She shared with me how funny she thought it would be to get TP'd.  She, Rachel, has three children of her own.  Two in Elementary and one in middle school. 

3. I reasoned that I would wake up the next day and, once the girls had been picked up, would drive over and help Rachel and her family clean it all up.

So with that, we were off.  Of course, before we could leave we had to take many pictures of our "ninja" selves and get completely ready.  Black eye liner under the eyes and bandanas included.  It took probably three times as long getting ready as it did to actually TP Rachel and her family.

Here is one of the 1000ish pictures we took before leaving:



and here is a picture Rachel posted the next day of the damage :-)


It was such a fun experience. Rachel is one of those ridiculously cool moms who completely and totally celebrates her chidlren and relishes in motherhood. She woke her kids (and several of their friends) up at 4:00am to get us back a few days later. Here are two pictures of the retaliation:






Finally, just this week we had a Storying Dinner. These dinners are probably our favorite events that we do with the teens. They come over, we cook them a homecooked meal (Caesar salad and Chicken Carbonara this week), and then we share one of the key stories of the Bible that helps tell the entire story of Gods redemptive plan. This week, it was Jacob and Esau. It's a great night for the kids to ask questions and try to fully understand the brilliant plan God has had in place to save us since that fateful day in the garden.
Out in the front yard before dinner.


 

Gathered in the living room listening to the story.


Well, there you have it, friends!  A snapshot (or two or three) of what we've been up to with the teens lately. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clothing With A Cause.: Part 2

On Saturday, I drove up to Rockford to check out the W.A.R. (Women At Risk) International store again.
I bought two pieces of jewelry made by women that were freed from the sex trafficking industry.
A ring and a bracelet.
aaaand I love them.


The ring especially.  It's pretty funky but still very feminine.  I've been able to tell a couple of different people about the store and the organization because of it. 


A self portrait to give a better idea of the size of the ring. 


A lovely black bracelet.


Right now, I'm in the process of finding out what makes my heart come alive.  This organization and the fight for justice for women is definitely something that I am passionate about.   I gave them my information to potentially become a volunteer hostess for their in-home parties.  Not to host one at my home, but to be someone who goes to the in-home parties and sets up, shares the stories, and sells the products on behalf of the store.  I'm really excited about it and I hope to hear from them soon!

Feel free to check out the link above if you want to learn more about this incredible movement and organization!
  

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oh the cuteness!

On Monday, April 12 the stray we had been feeding, Benjalynn, gave birth to three baby kittens.  
We have been enjoying the extra cuteness around our house immensely! 

Here they are.  Copperfield (the black one) PeeWee (the white and orange one) and the mostly orange one who is currently without a name (::AHEM:: Emily)

Without further ado I present to you... the McCracken Kittens (2.0)















Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A few thoughts on life and loving others.

"Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody." Benjamin Franklin

I read this quote several years ago and it has greatly impacted the way that I live my life.  Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how it affects our lives daily.  Care to indulge me while I share some thoughts and observations from my own life?  Here we go!

In the past several months, I have worked on a number patients that have been sent in to my massage room with warnings.  Things like.. "Oh just wait until you work on her.. she's a real ray of sunshine." Or, "You wouldn't believe what she said to me!"  When I heard these stories, I made assumptions about the people they were about, obviously.  How could I not?  There was one specific patient I worked on who I was actually dreading working on due to the stories I had heard about her.  What other people said about her had shaped my opinion of her before I could even recognize who she was.  

When I saw her name on my schedule, I was immediately disappointed.  I was annoyed that she was my last patient on a Friday.  I didn't like her already.  However, once I began working on her and hearing her story and seeing how she was as a communicator, I realized that she wasn't mean or offensive, she's just misunderstood.  Some people, this woman included, have a "brassy" nature (as I like to call it) and go through life offending others regularly (most commonly, people who have a difficult time giving others the benefit of the doubt).

It was a very humbling experience.  She was perfectly nice to me.  She had a rough exterior but I could tell it was from a rough life and a sad and lonely heart.  She wasn't mean.  She was broken.  (So am I.  So are you.)  I was wrong about her.

Example number 2: Josh plays on an indoor soccer team.  There is a bloke that plays with him who is quite annoying.  Ball hog.  Lazy.  Fakes falling down.  Fights with the refs.  Several months ago, my younger siblings came to a game with us.  On the way there, Josh and I made several jokes about the player we don't care for, explained to my siblings why we didn't like him, and then carried on with the evening.  During the game, they (of course) asked me to point out which player was the one we didn't like.  For the rest of the game, they were sure to point out annoying things he did and, in a way, make fun of him just the same as Josh and I had.  Why wouldn't they?  They already knew how we felt about him.  They were just agreeing with me.

After the game, I realized that I did that to them.  I made them not like him before they ever even saw him.  I spoke ill of him, so they thought ill of him.  If I hadn't said anything, they wouldn't have noticed anything.  Or, if I had said "all the good" I know of him (which isn't much) they would have had a completely different reaction towards him.  Or, if I had had nothing at all.  No one would have ever known any different.

My coworkers made me not like a couple of patients before I ever even saw them.  They spoke ill of them, so I thought ill of them.  If they hadn't said anything, I either wouldn't have noticed anything or I would have found out for myself.  

And I guess you could say that sometimes you need to be warned about nasty people.  I think that's true. I have, in the past, warned someone I cared for about a difficult person because I wanted to protect their heart, in a way.  More often than that though, it just feels good to tell the story of "how awful someome was to me" or "you wouldn't believe what she did/said to me!" because my pride was hurt or I wanted to sound funny/interesting/important/better than them.

Which is gossip, actually.

So I would like to get in the habit of speaking all the good I know of everybody.  To gossip in a good way.  It's been quite a challenge, but so far it has been worth it. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Celebration Filled Week(end).

Life has been fun (but quite busy!) lately.  Here are some snapshots of what we've been up to :-) 

We had a real Passover Meal with friends the night before Easter.  It was really awesome.  13 people (the same amount that were at Jesus' Last Supper).  We went through all of the steps of a traditional Passover Meal and it gave us a lot of added insight and symbolism into what Jesus was doing and saying in his last hours.  We have such awesome friends who took part in it with us!


An Easter tandem ride.  We have decided on the name Eleanor! Sooo much fun!


Josh's birthday was Sunday!  He turned 27.  We went out Friday night to celebrate at Buffalo Wild Wings and then saw the movie "How to Train Your Dragon".  Great movie, by the way!  I like this picture of us.  I love the man that I married.


Kenny and Nicole went with us.  We love this couple.  Very much!


On Saturday, my best friend from high school got married!


Josh and I at the wedding.  My bangs decided to make a reappearance.  I have little to no control over them for the time being,  but they have been hanging out for the last couple of days.  I really think going to weddings after you are married makes it even more fun.  It's just sort of magical, reliving your own wedding in a way while celebrating someone else's.  We both are very passionate about marriage, too.  So that makes it even more enjoyable.


Congratulations Danny and Julie!


Sunday was also the birthday of my younger sister, Katie.  She's 14 now which is kinda crazy, actually.  She is such a beautiful young woman.  I am so proud to be her big sister.  I have never known another 14 year old girl who has so much wisdom, such a good head on her shoulders, such quick and witty comebacks, and such a great sense of humor.  I love her so very much!


Not pictured was a visit from Chris and Rachel who drove 4 hours here and 4 hours back to hang out for less than a full day.  All in all, it's been a busy but very fun week!  

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A 'little dream' come true.

So... remember way back in January? When I wrote a post about little summer dreams that I have? Well, one of those little dreams involved a tandem bicycle. I have had a dream ever since then of acquiring one and riding around small towns in Michigan all summer; eating ice cream and laughing with my love.

Well, GUESS WHAT! One of my little dreams came true! Josh surprised me last night when he picked me up for our date and informed me that we would be driving to Grand Rapids to pick up my a tandem bicycle! Oh goodness, she is such a beauty. I was seriously giddy the whole way there mixed with moments of calm probing like, "so are you SURE you want to get one? 'Cause i mean... it's ok if we don't..." followed by another little celebration of more bouncing around in the seat next to him.

Without further adieu, here she is (name pending):


Our Toms shoes even match! We rode all over town, went to McDonalds, did a drive by of a couple of our friends houses and then back to store it at my parents for the evening. Fortunately, Brad was awake to snag this picture of us. Seriously, we were both smiling and laughing the whole time. My cheeks were actually starting to ache from it. That is such a wonderful problem to have, and it was such a wonderful evening with Joshua. I know love grows over time, but falling in love too? Evidently yes, because I definitely fell a little bit more in love last night.