I wrote this post exactly 3 years ago while at the beach with family. After just spending a week at the beach with my crew and reflecting on so much that has taken place since then I wanted to re-share it with you with a few additional thoughts. For anyone who puts themselves out there and wrestles with people-pleasing, insecurity and comparison, this is for you...even if you've never been involved in church. 

I once dated a pre-seminary student when I was in college. The thought of possibly one day being a pastor’s wife was, honestly, rash inducing. Really. The pastors’ wives I knew growing up sat in the front pew, had a flair for casserole preparation and were really nice. I was never going to be any of those things. Ever.

And I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't break up with him because I had no interest in pastor wifery or following him to Grand Rapids. I had plans. Music plans. Non-potluck plans. Nashville moving plans with one of my best friends. Songs to write and places to go other than sanctuaries or narthexes. Church people, you know what I'm talking about. 

So, years later when I met my husband who was not a pastor when I first met him, and was more of a church staff member than pastor when I dated him, I had no idea what I was really getting into. Nashville turned into Virginia for me after college. Then India. Then, wait for it, MICHIGAN-- where my husband and I dated and married. Isn't it ironic. 

But something was shifting in my systems loving, support staff, managerial husband. He loved speaking, studying, leading people. He had fallen in love with the local church and even though his wife sat in the back row, loathes casseroles and is inappropriately and hopelessly sarcastic, he wanted to become a pastor. A lead pastor much like the lead pastor for whom we worked and who had started that church from scratch over the course of many long, tumultuous years alongside and with the immense support of a fierce, generous, kind hearted wife and mother. Tremendously huge shoes to fill. 

Scott wanted to be not just any pastor….but a church-planting pastor. 

Starting from scratch. Moving to a new city and building a community from the ground up. The penniless kind of pastoring. 

And I...still with no desire to be a pastor's wife, with tiny feet not meant for big shoe filling, wanted to be with him in it. That's all I knew. Also, escaping Michigan winter (aka 90% of the year). 

There’s no man with whom I’d rather take on such a challenge…but 8 years ago when we moved to Charlotte, NC to start Watershed we really had no idea how PERSONALLY hard it is to start a church. It’s fabulously rewarding. It’s missional. And it’s tough on your marriage because it’s tough on your heart. At least at first. Until you work on heart-maintenance in this role.

And in those early years of our move to Charlotte, I'd look across the table with a baby on my shoulder at my husband who returned home covered in dust from installing countertops with his brother all evening to "make some money on the side" after I had worked at a preschool all day changing poopy diapers to also supplement our "income" and think WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?! 

bye bye buggy

Have you ever seen one of these BYE BYE BUGGIES? I used to push one while working at the preschool. In the heat, stuffed with 6 of the chunkiest babies (including my son) you have ever seen. I can remember while pushing it one day around Myers Park thinking... I have a degree....I had a senior recital...I lived abroad...I was going to do things. Things with an income or at least EXCITING THINGS. I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS (any 90's Will Ferrell fans out there?)! Well, look at me now. 

I felt defeated before we even started. And I felt like God had forgotten about the desires of my heart. 

You see, when we were just staff members at a church, we took ownership in the church, but at a different level. I was a worship leader, he was a small groups and leadership development pastor. People would come in droves and sometimes leave in packs, but you move on. You do your job.

But when you start a church, person by person, family by family, each exit, each beef someone has with you, each “issue” and criticism can feel as though they’re calling your baby ugly. Your Facebook feed is filled with people who "used to" be a part of your church who now have moved on or haven't moved on at all and it's a constant, stinging reminder for which I was not prepared. 

When people come to our church I always hope that they either just moved to town or that they never went to church before this. Because, if they left another church to be part of ours, usually we’ll hear their criticism of their former church. Which often means that we’ll be next on their list of letdowns and failure to please. I cried when a couple whom we valued deeply left our church and took several couples with them because we weren’t doing things the way they wanted. I lost sleep over our children’s volunteer who one day decided she and her family no longer needed a church community and just stopped being part of anything to do with us.

I sighed with disappointment when people sent email or letters or voicemails stating how we’re not “meaty” enough spiritually or too deep, or too concerned with poverty and we don’t have enough programs, why don’t we own a building, we’re too gay, we’re not gay enough, we’re too loud, we’re too soft, we’re not as flashy as the church down the street…what my husband takes in stride, I take terribly personally.

After all...a lot of countertop installations, dipaer changes, moving trucks, sweat, missing of special events in friends'/family's lives (Matt & Rachael's wedding, my grandfather's funeral just to name a few), selling of our precious Harley, instruments and other things were involved to make this thing happen. That's all I could see but what most people probably couldn't.

2012 at Watershed

2012 at Watershed

I remember a few years after we started Watershed a young pastor moved to town to also plant a church but in the suburbs of Charlotte. They needed a place for their band to rehearse and we gladly shared our small, humble rehearsal space with them. We were happy to partner with them. A few years later, as they were exploding by the thousands and that same worship band who shared our rehearsal room was topping the iTunes charts, they decided to open what must have been their 10th campus only a block from where we meet on Sundays and never mentioned it. It’s not that we owned Uptown, it was just that it would have been nice to “partner” rather than all bark up the same tree on the same block. It hurt my heart. I understood that we were a small fish and all that,

but every time I’d see a sticker from that church on someone’s car I wanted to throw a casserole at it.

And somewhere in this process, as people come and “stick” and grow and go deep and we watch God transform people from “hey, what can I get out of this” to “hey, God, how can I be your hands and feet in this city”, we fall to our knees in gratitude that we get to have a front row seat to this taking place. One baptism in our makeshift tank ruins me and reminds me. 

I began to start praying the prayer “God, give me a soft heart and thick skin.

That’s the only prayer I can think of some days. It's an honest prayer and one of survival.  It’s the prayer I’d implore any pastor’s wife to utter. Or anyone. 

I’m so unfit for my role. I’m not sweet enough or southern enough or pastory enough most of the time (or ever). I make the wrong comment on Facebook. My nose gets out of joint with frequency. I talk too much when I should be listening. I am easily swallowed up by my fear of us not measuring up or meeting expectations.  

But God’s soft heart overcomes my casserole aversion and rough edges and He toughens me for this people pleaser’s undoing called leading the local church.

My husband calls church planting “sexy”: I’d call it skin-thickening. But either way, I’m admitting to you and asking God to help me have a heart not only for those homeless students and their families in the school where we work down the street but also for the churchgoers who I felt belittled by or made me feel defensive of my husband and our church. Remember, this whole church is irrevocably entwined with our family and the mama bear will come out sometimes. But...

Soft hearts don’t grudge hold. And thick skinned get over it.

Soft hearts tell their spouse "I'm in" and support them in their dreams even if the pay sucks and even if it involves pushing sweaty chunky babies around nice neighborhoods you'll never live in.

Thick skinned move on from the constant comparison to local mega churches, Nashville musicians who song write instead of juggling sweaty babies and those who seem to be "making it" when you feel you're hanging on by a thread. Blessed are those who handle staff transitions and disgruntled staff spouses, continual parting of ways of congregants, and constant location moves because you don't own a building. 

Soft heartedness finds contentedness with and gratitude for what I DO HAVE and where I AM RIGHT matter who approves, stays or leaves. Blessed are those who can embrace entrances and departures. As Ingrid so beautifully wrote..... "open hands are hard to hold onto". It's true. I have to let stuff AND PEOPLE go. 

The SOFT HEART/THICK SKIN combo carries the mantra of NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE.

Dreams dashed or realized, Dodge Stratuses and all. 

That's how the kingdom comes, you guys. 

So, on Sundays, I have inched my way up to sitting in the second or third row (we don’t have pews) but the whole being considered “nice” thing, well, like I said, I’m in process. 



So, not all of the things my 40 year old self would tell my much younger self are life-changing, epiphanic wisdom bombs. But if I'm older than you and you're reading this or, no matter your age, if you're planning on getting married and/or starting a new life with someone,                          

let me share this one very essential little nugget with you that no one shared with me:

Back in the year 2000 I was in love and newly engaged and excitedly hit the stores with a very unenthused- to-be-registering, minimalist fiancé to scan gun the daylights out of home essentials for our wedding registry. Weddings have changed a lot since Y2K and honestly, for the better.

note: the gloves. as if my arms aren't stubby enough. just why?

note: the gloves. as if my arms aren't stubby enough. just why?

I salute you, barn wedding having, non-tux renting, cooler people with digital wedding albums. None of that was around back then so we had it all: the over posed non-digital photos,  the red rose bouquets instead of a handful of wheat and artichokes, audrey hepburn gloves for inexplicable reasons, the formal attire and unity candle, yada yada. I wouldn't change any of it because it was beautiful day, we were surrounded by friends and family, I married THE ONE and everything about it screams the era in which we were married (which will give our boys something to tease us about for decades to come). I mean, at 5 ft. tall maybe I could have worn a little puffier dress and veil? Ok, maybe I'd change that....


If I had that scan gun (or mouse) in my hand today, I'd scan much differently. So please, younger and/or soon to be married friends, learn from our mistakes. Since it's Spring, and wedding bells are in the air, and both my sister and sister-in-law are booked solid through the end of summer, please take note of point 2 on my list of 40 things I've learned at 40:

2. REGISTER FOR NEUTRAL TOWELS (and plates, while you're at it)

I don't care if your bathroom pinterest board is chevron, charcoal and jadeite...I'm telling ya, think of the future you, in your bathroom and don't fall for the classic blunder. I thought we nailed it with our sage and salmon selections circa early 2000's combo (see our linen cabinet photo above) and now, as I fold those blasted sage and salmon towels weekly (or pick them up off the floor because my sons are immune to hanging them up after showering) I want to go back in time and scan my own eyeballs. The towels are nice. They're good quality. They've held up for almost 15 years so we have a hard time justifying replacing them. But they're so so dumb. 

Pretend like you're dressing for a safari and then choose towels in the shade of the pants you'd wear on said safari.                                                                                                                                                                 A nice pale camel color. A subtle linen gray. Imagine a honey caramel Indiana Jones hat and scan THOSE towels. And let me tell you something: don't fall for stark white no matter how awesome they look next to white subway tile in the west elm catalog: you'll think you can bleach them but they'll only fade to a sad yellow with mascara stains and Lord knows what else in a few years. Go click on that killer egyptian cotton, non-attention drawing, thick, absorbent neutrally shaded towel and enjoy it for years to come in every bathroom, through every trend, in the laundry basket, on the floor, next to every shower curtain. Trust me. This is a mountain I'll die on.

Emily Henderson, as always, has good advice on this as well. For years engaged couples have had hopes of people just giving them honeymoon funds. Or gift cards. But most people want to leave that stuff up to you and want to possibly give you something you can enjoy for years to come- something wedding gifty. And if you don't point them in a general direction then inevitably they will give you crystal. The kind of crystal you never wanted, like heart shaped crystal wedding frames or obviously re-gifted lavender colored pillar candles. Even if you register they're still going to give you those things (or at least they did in 2001) but you might actually score a few killer bath towels that you'll have to look at for a long time and might still like. 


I guess what I'm trying to say is that if people are going to spend money on you, the things you'll still love, keep, use and appreciate will most likely be the very classic, basic things you chose. My now husband was so disinterested by the wedding registry process he proceeded to scan every wall clock he could find (none of which we still have or still work) and our first condo looked like we were running a clock shop after our wedding- even in the half bath, we knew what time it was. We registered for most things at Target and a few things from a nice store (Crate & Barrel) that we worried, back in the days when people didn't really shop online, most people would not be able to access. And while we were so appreciative of people throwing us showers and giving us gifts we became a little overwhelmed in all that registering and ended up with choosing a lot of quantity over quality. A lot of wall clocks and who knows whats. You can actually tell a lot about a couple by their registry. He loves keeping time, I love salmon and sage apparently.


When I reach in our cabinet for our set of champagne flutes from Crate & Barrel that our good friends and co-workers Amy & Norma gave us, I think of them and toast to them and their thoughtfulness and friendship. From the photo you can tell a few fell victim to our over exuberant toasting. When we serve dinner nightly to our family on the very basic white diner style plates, also from Crate & Barrel, that my wise college roommate Amber urged me to select (she also helped me choose the puffy dress, but ya win some ya lose some) I can imagine us continuing to share meals on them (with all the chips and scratches) for life. Instead of scanning so many wall clocks and getting carried away in the towel department, making a super basic but long haul kind of list would have served us much better. So what if we had to flip burgers with a fork and didn't get 4 full nice set of 8 million thread count sheets would rock. Quality over quantity.  Basic over bold in the beginning. Foundations. 

But really, this is about much more than wedding bell paper wrapped gifts and cabinet filling and wedding planning. Everything is spiritual. As Rob likes to say "This isn't always about this". Your home, no matter how humble, out of style or hip, rented or owned, is sacred. And you are beginning to create a sacred space...TOGETHER.

This really is her house and it always looks this perfect/clean. sigh.

This really is her house and it always looks this perfect/clean. sigh.

MY MOTHER IN LAW'S HOUSE IS COMPLETELY STARK WHITE                                                        Not just white person white, yes, that, but I mean like white carpet, white sofas, white walls- white everything, white. The first time she poured me a glass of cabernet there I was afraid to drink it inside. But the reason she loves the snowy color palette is that each season she adds a different accent color to the house. A springy set of throw pillows and flowers in April, kelly green taper candles on her fireplace and coordinating hand knitted blankets over the backs of chairs and sofas to match in the winter. Yes, she's Martha Stewart, not intimidating at all. (She's also one of the top selling realtors in Charlotte so she knows a thing or two about making a home more inviting). What I found very shockingly stark the first time I saw it I now view as pretty genius because it allows her to reinvent her space, express herself and make it new and exciting throughout the year. Although I'm still afraid to sip vino in her living room I love the versatility and variety the environment she has created offers....

THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF MARRIAGE CAN FEEL VANILLA                                                                         And guess, what? That's ok. You're most likely doing something really right if it does... It can feel like all power bills and grocery lists and toothpaste tube debates. Perhaps it even feels a little sterile and nothing like you both imagined. But with every argument you work through and every counseling session you make the effort to attend together you are stretching and sweating to build that blank canvas. You can do this. And at only 14 years of marriage we are learning that the most romantic, most heart stopping and amazing moments haven't been found in our wedding album, exotic vacations or times when anyone was around to capture them.... they were on a Thursday, in our first year of marriage, when I spent the night on the bathroom floor because my birth control pills sent me there and awoke in the morning to find Scott had brought in pillows and spent the night there with me. Or on a hot summer's Michigan evening when we laughed (and almost cried) ourselves to sleep on a mattress in the basement of an old fixer upper that needed so much work we couldn't even live in it for months and wondered together what on earth we had gotten ourselves into as we stared at the spiderwebby floorboards and water pipes above our heads. Or one early morning over coffee when we heard our younger son with a speech delay actually say a few words strung together that made sense. No one else was there. There are no photographs of that moment. And we welled up with tears and raised our coffee mugs in a toast. And that toast wouldn't have happened without the basement dwelling and bathroom floor sleeping. It's incremental. It's bland before bold. It's a slow, slow burn, baby. I think if we spent more time on canvas construction than statement making in the early years more marriages would survive...

I'll leave you with this, one of Jack Handey's deep thoughts:

If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off.  You see, we BUILD to that.

Stretch that canvas and embrace it's vanilla-ness. For the love of all things, don't register for bold colored/print towels. And take your sweet time before you try to yodel. This is what I shall write in every wedding card from henceforth. 

Now, who wants to trade some sage and salmon Target bath towels for some caramel colored fluffy ones?


I turned the big 4-0 on Valentine's Day. In honor of this over-the-hill milestone, I'd like to share 40 things I've learned on this often awkward, very enlightening and not always the wisest but fulfilling journey of mine. 


Most of us fall into one of two categories: monochrones or polychrones.

No, I'm not making up these terms. They're real


  • Do one thing at a time
  • View time commitments as critical
  • Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks)
  • Adhere religiously to plans and dislike changes
  • Emphasize promptness, always
  • Are accustomed to short-term relationships


  • Do many things at once and are highly distractible
  • View time commitments as objectives
  •  Are committed to people and relationships
  • Change plans often
  • Base promptness on the significance of the relationship
  • Built for long-term relationships

When I first discovered these terms about eight years ago it was as if someone made a Venn diagram out of my marriage. NOW I GET IT. He's a mono and I'm a poly. Our google calendars sync into a painful color coded irritation soup for him. He has been planning for retirement since he was eleven and I'm still trying to figure out what shade of greige to paint the bathroom. 

And if, like me, you're a polychrone, you most likely experience failure to transition. 

Not just transitioning from sleeping to jumping out of bed. Like transitioning from being someone with a career and a full-time to job to perhaps, a stay at home mom or part-time employee or maybe even someone now unemployed. Like being single after being in a long term relationship. Like watching your kids get on the bus and realizing the baby days are behind you and feeling (ahem...let me swallow this massive lump in my throat) nostalgic, paralyzed and a even a little bit frozen. Adele Nazeem. 

Yeah, me too.

And now, fourteen years into marriage, my monochrone husband shares with me that I'm not alone in my struggle. Because even though he is forward thinking and transitions with greater ease, monos struggle with thinking so much about what's next that they miss right now. All the planning eats up the present.

Monos are moving ahead, polys get stuck behind: but no one is in the RIGHT HERE & NOW. 

And that, my friends, is what I want to remind you to do. To be present where you are right now and really embrace it. In all of its uncomfort or comfort. There's no room for dualism when it comes to our time: monos and polys must unite and become one. Become a presentchrone (now I really am making stuff up) by putting down your phone and shutting your laptop and setting aside your worry and self-consumption for long enough to chase your kids around the house when they get off the bus today. Or to wrap your arms around the one you love when you wake up tomorrow morning. To make more memories than scrapbooks. Eat the strawberries while it's summer and do the things you can only do right now that you can't do another time- because you don't get this time of singleness or newlywedness or new parentness or teenagerness or retirementness or even recent grievingness or whatever it is that you're in really, really be in it. 

Quite a few years ago we started a family tradition of customized, time consuming themed birthday parties for our boys. Not rent out the roller rink kind of shindigs, but the homemade kind that pretty much celebrate the "big thing" the boys were really into that year. Except that I'm not the most pinteresting. From Green Lantern to violins, to WIPEOUT, to Eragon- there have been elaborate games and snacks and costumes and themes that sort of outline all their little passions in their seven and ten years. Why did we start this and how do we make it stop?  I blame my creative mother, party waiting to happen father and photographer sister for all of this. My favorite memory of one of the boys' extravaganzas involved my husband in a Gryffindor tie, Harry Potter glasses and shorts all alone at our neighborhood park setting up a Hogwarts scavenger hunt for eight very excited party goers while random park goers gave him bizarre worrisome looks. Last year my just turning seven year old, Keane, chose the theme of Samukai. No, I didn't know who it was either, but just so you know, he's a lego ninja and we spent the sleepover with bandana clad mini ninjas chopping airborne marshmallows with plastic swords while we bid farewell to all the Samukainess of age six to then usher in a new year. It was sweet, it was sticky and it was a blast. 

I'm a terrible transitioner. I'm painfully poly. And sometimes sentimentality and sensitivity actually cause me to miss out on the beauty that's happening in this very hour under today's sky. I constantly am reminded of something one of my boys' favorite Montessori teachers asked us as parents to do for our children:

"Give them 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact along with your undivided attention every day".

You know what's sad? It's freaking HARD to do. And I'll be tucking them into bed and night and realize, we never did it. But it's not too late. Honey, tell me more about your day. What was the best part? What exactly are you building with all those legos scattered on the floor? And while my heart refills after sinking that I missed out on doing something so simple and meaningful that day, I'm continually reminded... it's never too late

I think about this with God often. What does 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact with Him look like? What does it look like for you? Do you realize you never really made room for that right as you're falling asleep after a netflix bingewatch? Yeah, me too. 

May you embrace your current season of life. May you maximize it. May you give those you love the daily Montessori 10 minutes they deserve. May you give the One Who Is Love your undivided attention. May you not miss the now because you were stuck in the days-of-yore past or the can't-wait-'til-then future.

Btw, I'm the "tall" ninja at the Samukai party. xo.