Pity Parties Suck

Every once in a while you get an idea and you think it’s a good one. You make all kinds of plans in your head, assuring yourself of its grand possibilities. You might even collaborate with some trusted friends, talk it through with your spouse, and get really excited about it. If it gets past the talking phase you’ll take those crucial first steps in execution. You’ll decide you’re going to make this thing happen. If the idea has any potential at all, the first few steps will go well. You’ll get excited. You’ll see things pay off and begin riding the momentum that the idea has created.

It’s usually sometime around this point, early in the lifetime of your idea, when the momentum is high and everything seems to be going great, that something happens. Normally that something isn’t good, or at least not easily overcome. If you’ve ever dreamed big, you probably know the point that I’m talking about. It’s the dark ledge leading into the unknown world of a possibly painful season in life.  Depending on the scope of the idea, it could affect every aspect of your life.

The story starts or ends here.

The choice is yours to make.

Meg and I had a great idea to live with purpose in a small town (our home town – Ripon, WI) and blog about it. Doing so, took swallowing our pride and eating all the stereotypes that it entails. We knew it would produce some difficult circumstances, but we really had no idea how difficult it was actually going to be. We’ve found that Homemade Bliss wonn’t come without effort, struggle, pain, and dedication.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen some awesome things. Meg got to cut the ribbon at Mugs, officially marking the beginning of Mugs coffee house. What a tremendous achievement! I had the great privilege to speak to over 80 students at a youth group that was just 40 students large ten months ago.

But in the same breath we’ve both put in long hours, dealt with frustrating people and issues, and if we’re honest waded through cold moments between the two of us. The tensions of emotion sapping jobs, which spill over into our personal lives can really be tough. Not to mention the lack of time available for building friendships outside of the ministry world.

On a daily basis we feel drained and depleted.

It’s at this point, the dark ledge, where we contemplate, “Should we jump?” or “Should we turn around?”

No one said this was going to come easily, in fact most everyone told us we were in over our heads, we’d bitten off more than we could chew, and are surely headed toward burn-out. It’s really easy to listen to these words. Pity sometimes makes you feel a little better about yourself.

But pity parties suck and we wouldn’t be carrying much of a cross if we listened to the “take it easy” voices every day.

Pity parties do nothing for the situation.

Is this community worth it? Can we create Homemade Bliss not just for ourselves but for this little home called Ripon?

When you see lives changing for the better because of your work, it’s not much of a choice.

With crosses shouldered, fully committed to the grandest form of love, we’re jumping.

No more pity parties. We have the best jobs we could possibly ask for.

Loving the struggle, loving this life.

– Sam


Kim Thiel Photography

We had the chance to write a guest post for the photographer who shot our wedding. Her and her crew did an outstanding job. Check it out here.

Getting Praised

I love speaking. By speaking I don’t mean having conversations (though I enjoy those as well), I mean public speaking. There’s a certain thrill to standing in front of a large group of people and orating something dynamic and thoughtful (hopefully). Sometimes though, I wonder if I enjoy it for the right reasons. Often I crave the praise I receive after giving a good message.

Maybe you do that too. Maybe after giving a presentation, handing in an assignment, finishing a project at work, or making dinner you get a look on your face that pleads for affirmation and approval. Maybe you rarely receive that affirmation. I’ve lived off of the “job well done” high for weeks at a time. It’s made my day and my week float and my level of confidence sky-rocket.

And then it’s not enough.

I want more.

And when I don’t get it, I mope around looking lousy and melancholy.

That’s when Meg gives me a kick in the butt (sometimes literally) and tells me that I really ought to get over myself.

She’s right about that. I need to get over thinking I deserve the praise. I’ve got some God given talents that I’ve been gifted with, but I want to use them the best way that I can. Not for the purpose of perpetual praise. That can’t be the goal, because if it is, I’m doomed. I’ll find myself deflated and melancholy most of the time with my work aimed at the petty prize of praise. Normally that results in petty work too.

I’d like to take healthy pride in the work I do for an amazing God. I’d like to get satisfaction in knowing I’m always worth something to Him. Then I’d like to work eagerly to do the best work that I can. I can be confident in giving those kinds of speeches.



On Sadness

Have you ever been sad?

I have.

Once in a while I’m overcome by it. The feeling typically comes slowly, but suddenly. It’s like climbing a hill; at first it doesn’t seem so bad, but once you reach the top you’re out of breath. It wells up.

When I’m honest, I admit that I crave the feeling from time to time.

I don’t think that’s bad.

Sometimes it’s what feeds the creative part of my soul. To be sad is to feel and to feel is good. It’s the stuff of  thick thought and reflection, which ultimately lead to renewed understanding.

That’s why I get frustrated when people try to cheer me up when I’m sad. Weird, huh? I know they mean well and some are even genuine attempts out of good intentions…

But ultimately they’re stealing something from me.

They’re stealing my chance to feel.

And losing that chance to feel replaces sad with something worse: numb.

There’s a line that I still remember from my college days. It’s a line painted on a sign in the basement of where I lived. It was painted there for a big party that my fraternity threw every semester. It read something like, “Let’s drink, until we can’t feel feelings anymore!”

What if we let people feel again? What if we let ourselves feel again? What if, instead of avoiding, hiding, or suppressing our feelings, we chose to feel them?

What if feeling sad was allowed again?



life list … check.

Have you ever heard of a life list?  A list of fears, adventures, and travels you want to accomplish before you die?  After reading Maggie’s blog, I noticed she had a “Mighty Life List“.  Maggie listed 100 things she wants to accomplish throughout her lifetime.  The idea of sharing events throughout your life that you set out to accomplish because it was something you’ve always feared, something you’ve always dreamed of, or just something you’ve never had the chance to do, is fascinating to me.  I can’t get the thought of it off my mind.

We all want to live a great story.  A story that gets us out of bed in the morning.  We want to feel like we have a life worth living and sharing.  Some times we get caught up in the busyness of life which forces us into a state of rushing throughout life just to get things done.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wake up when I’m 30, 40, 50 and think “well, my goodness, this sure went fast … what happened?!”  I want to be intentional.  I guess making a list is about as intentional as it gets.

Cheers to being intentional, adventurous, and just a little bit silly.  Stay tuned for my Life List and feel free to join in on the fun.  This is going to be great!


One Month

As of today, Meg and I have been married for one month. Time moves so fast.

I wrote an e-mail to a friend the other day. In the e-mail I wrote about a stroll Meg and I took on a lake in a canoe. I don’t think I could write anything more detailed or fitting tonight than what I wrote in that e-mail, so I thought I would include it below.

It gets at this reality that life can stink – it can be really tough, but with that hardship comes beauty and excitement and love.

I’m really enjoying the love thing.

Enjoy the email exerpt:

Things are good here. So many stresses, mixed with moments of peace and anticipation. Meg and I sat on a canoe yesterday on the lake at her parent’s cottage. We rowed out a ways from their dock and then she turned around, I paddled us around, and we talked. If we could begin every morning like that, I would chose to do so. So peaceful, so enlightening, so good.

We talked coffee house, ministry, leading well, being strong, identifying what it is that we value, how to deal with the multitude of things happening around us, and what being married has meant thus far. That’s a snapshot of life here too. Coffee is always on our minds, but more and more it has been how coffee and our lives in general can honor, grow, and nurture God’s kingdom. We’re searching for good friendship here. It’s not easily found, but we have a few leads. Life has never before been so present, near, and real. It’s haunting and yet it’s also majestic.  We’re grasping for air and we’re breathing heavy and it’s all so amazing.



are you sure, God?!

I left the house this morning not fully knowing where to go.  I sat in the driver’s seat waiting for a grand idea to come to me, to inspire me to drive some where exciting, comfortable, or enriching.  Should I go to the coffeehouse?  The church office?  Work from home?  Should I just drive a few hours away and see if I feel any better?

These last few weeks have been great, unpredictable, emotional, exhausting.  Isn’t it interesting how there are some times in our lives where you feel like you can’t grab a hold?  It’s almost like you know there are more changes right around the corner and you already feel like your “world” has been turned upside down.  The only thing I keep on remembering is that nothing worthy of living would happen out of leading a predictable and boring life.  Even though things have been crazy (in all sense of the word), I really don’t think I would have it any other way.

With that said, I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with all these changes, transitions, new things and experiences.  If I can’t stop it, I must try to control it — right?!  I crack myself up.  I want everything in life to fit into my pretty little organizational boxes I have laid out and prepared for all occasions.  What I have been realizing lately is this is not the point.  We’re not supposed to be ready or prepared for times in life like this.  We are supposed to feel a little (or a lot) out of control.  That’s the point.  The point is to let go.  Learn how to find a new way — a way that isn’t laid out through an instruction manual.  Above all, I’ve been uncomfortably realizing this.  And, you know what, it’s all okay.  With the understanding that I’m striving and searching for God’s plan in all of it, I know I’ll be okay.  He has given me a deep and burning passion for what I’m supposed to be doing.  I know it when I feel it.  It’s unmistakable.

The cool thing is that He isn’t going to lead me away.  Even though there’s times when the path I’m walking doesn’t seem paved, straight, or common — there is a plan.  His plan.  I would much rather follow His plan than my plan that nicely fits into my rosy and perfect life.  Because when I fall – He’s there.  He walks with me.  Picks me up.  Carries me.  His plan is more adventurous and enriching.  By hanging on to my plan and path (whether I have a fistful or I’m barely hanging on to the last little threads) I’m basically saying I don’t trust Him.  I don’t trust how He lovingly planned out my adventures, purpose, and plan.  Why would I ever want to do that?  He meticulously put me together and knows every little thing about me.  He knows everything about me (the good and bad) and still loves me.  Wow.  He wants me to live out my life according to His plan.  With His plan in mind, I can only be living the most blessed life.  This still blows my mind when I think about it.

This path I’m on right now really isn’t easy.  Actually, if I was given a way out right now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wouldn’t think twice about taking it.  I have been upset, tired, and have said “I quit” more times that I can count.  My days have been long, my emotions have been drained, and I feel inadequate for the job.  But, I have also seen God work through me in beautiful ways.  I have been uplifted more times that I have fallen.  God continues to tell me “I chose you.  You.”  People have reached out to help – people with big, huge hearts that I don’t even know.  These people and thoughts keep me going.  They make me stop and realize what is actually happening in this crazy life.  God is working through people to do some great things.  When you actually stop and listen to God, it’s amazing what He has in store and what He can do.

I have around a month to get this coffeehouse up and running.  There are a lot of things that need to be accomplished between now and then.  I have no idea how it will be possible, but it will all get done.  There will be a moment in the next few months where I look back and marvel at the intricate and beautiful work that God did.  Until then, I will continue to pray for peace and strength.  And wisdom for where to drive when I get out of the driveway.

Positive thoughts and prayers accepted.

– meg

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