* Jedd Thoughts

Intentionally Healthy

When we first arrive to Jamaica for Peace Corps and a recent photo from a friend’s wedding.

“You look good.”

“Wow. You’ve lost a lot of weight.”

“You look stronger.”

“You lost some weight around here.” (a friend says as she points to the sides of my stomach)

These are the comments I’ve been getting from people who haven’t seen me for two years while we were in the Peace Corps. Apparently, I look different now since we’ve returned, which begs the question:

What did I look like before?

In all seriousness, the comments have been nice and flattering. I am probably in the best shape of my life, at least since my high school days. I actually probably weigh around the same as I did in high school as well. But the most important thing is how I feel today.

I feel healthy.

Like many, college was the start of my decline Continue reading “Intentionally Healthy”

* Michelle Thoughts

Intentional Habits

Part 2 of my Quotes & Images series

watch your habits they become characterI heard this quote at an early age and it really stuck with me. There is a lot in this world that we do not have control over and, for that reason, I might finish this quote differently rather than what is said about “destiny.” On the other hand, the one thing we do have control of is our own actions and, therefore, our habits. The kind of person we become is our own choice. We have the power to decide if we will put more good and positive things into the world or more hurtful and negative things out into the world. We choose if we are going to be someone who Continue reading “Intentional Habits”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, * Peace Corps

You want to send us where?

So if you have been following our lives for the past year, you know that we have been anxiously waiting to hear from the Peace Corps (PC) regarding our placement of service (if you have no idea what I’m talking about you can recap here).

This past Monday we received a call from a PC placement officer to talk about a potential match for our skills (it turns out that placing a couple, especially one with two different jobs, is more difficult than a single volunteer). Michelle and I were stoked. We had been waiting anxiously, checking the mail obsessively, and now we would learn where we would live for the next 27 months (something we had been preparing for the last 9 months).  Gary (not his real name) got straight to it, “We would like to send you to the North Africa/Middle East region starting in September.”


I looked at Michelle’s face and immediately could see and sense her heart had broken. Gary explained to us some of the particulars and about their process, but then focused on the true issue at hand, “I can sense that your energy is not the same when we first started this conversation.”  He was right. For me, I was disappointed with the news, but was open to the possibility. My battle has always been accepting that I could actually live abroad for two years (something I have fought with myself for a long time) so for me, where we go wasn’t as important as the fact of actually going.  For Michelle, it has been a dream of hers for so long to live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Before Monday, we had believed and convinced ourselves that this was the story that would happen for us but now, at least for Michelle, it felt like that dream was shattered.

We asked to have some time to make a decision. If we accepted we would leave in September. If we didn’t accept, what would we do next?

It’s not that we have anything strongly against the region, there is just no particular draw, no sense of call or excitement when we thought about it. At best we could see how interesting it could be, but there didn’t even seem to be a sense of wanderlust.

Needless to say its been a challenging week. We took walks. We prayed. We spoke to friends abroad. We spoke to former PC volunteers. We prayed some more. While we had hoped for a clear, distinct, yes or no, everyone was encouraging, supportive, and truly believed that we would be blessed in whatever decision we made. Everyone gave us incredible insight, love, and support.  It boiled down to two things: 1st. Do we say yes because it’s a great opportunity even though we are not excited about the placement? Because its something we feel like we have to do? Or, do we say no and start all over again, wait for something else that we might be more excited about. Each had its pros and cons.

We decided NOT to take the placement.

We spoke with Gary today and explained that we tried to embrace the idea of going to the region we were selected for, but that it didn’t feel right. We were both scared that this would mean our PC opportunity had passed but to our relief, Gary appreciated our honesty and thoughtful consideration and assured us he would work to try and find us another placement. So we are back in the waiting game. I give PC credit, they know their process well and have been very honest with us from the beginning. They told us not to quit our jobs (which we did), not to give up housing (which we move out this week), they told us anything can happen with our placement (which it did), and they told us it can be a long process (which it might end up being, 9 months and counting). We had been telling everyone about our PC service to Africa, and that we would be leaving in July (our awesome families were already putting together going away parties) and now, it’s almost back to square one. We are still committed to seeing if we can get a PC placement, but the next time those programs would leave would be after January 1st, 2012!!!

So what’s next? Great question.

For now we are going to explore other opportunities to serve abroad. We will take a month and a half to travel, and from June – December we will need to find a place to live and find additional employment. Currently I work part-time for Relevant Studios and am happy that I will be able to stay there longer.

So thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being with us on this crazy journey. Life before Monday was a lot different than life after Monday, but really, we are doing well. We are thankful for the privilege to be even on this journey and as history has shown for both of us, surprises like this are not uncommon. I mean, we did meet and get married and believe me, we did not plan on that to happen. God is good. He has been and is always more than faithful to us and I hope that we can have the courage continue to trust in His plans. So here’s to whatever might happen next. We will keep you posted, and next time, I’ll have Michelle write because she’s more concise.

* Jedd Thoughts

A Toast…

I’m back. After taking a hiatus and feeling a bit silly for being self-conscious for what I assume is random babbling, I have decided that there are things I want to share and that people have a choice to like it, hate it, or not even read it, so why should I care that much. Thanks T for inspiring me to share…

Photo by the Avenna Studios

Michelle and I recently celebrated our two year anniversary(!!) and this summer, a lot of amazing friends are getting married so as you can imagine, I’ve been thinking and reflecting a lot about love and relationships. This is my toast to them…

First of all, I want to tell you both how much Michelle and I love you and will be there when you call, email, tweet, or facebook. Some days, it might take a bit to respond, but we will be there to support you, not just today, but for all the days of your lives together in thought and in prayer.

I wanted to share with you two thoughts- well, really hopes- from my extensive two years of marital experience, wisdom that I hope will be a blessing to you in your marriage. (And please know that I really believe that in all things in life, you discover so much on your own).

The first thing I hope for you is that you live your lives with intentionality. Be intentional. Do what is right, not always what is easy. Lower the toilet seat down for her. Talk about issues that are difficult to talk about instead of easily walking away. Protect your time as a couple and figure out for yourselves what it means to be a couple. Forgive each other for inevitable hurt and sadness you will cause each other. Take time to enjoy each other.

We can easily fall into patterns, belief systems where we feel trapped in a relationship, trapped in regimen and routine, not taking full advantage of the gift of what love really is: freedom. The wedding day is a celebration of your intentional choice to live together, to love each other.

Love is choice. Choose to love. You cannot force anyone to love you and you cannot force yourself to love them. You can choose to love each other. From personal experience, we must also respect each other’s freedom and ability to choose, especially your spouse’s. You must intentionally protect their right to make their own choice for their life and trust that they are considering how their choices impact you, and I hope they will trust you in the same way. Choose to be there for each other. Choose to bring the truth of what you really feel and think to conversations (this one is very important in Michelle and I’s relationship) and choose to learn more about each other and what is important to each other. Remember, no one is forcing you to get married, you are choosing to get married.

Michelle and I hope you have laughter and grace (and plenty of babies or puppies). We hope you know that your family and friends love you both and are cheering for you, thinking and praying for you no matter where life may take you and whatever you may do.

May you live life intentionally and may you choose to love each other every day….

Here’s to the beautiful newly wed couple. Cheers! Banzai! And as Grandpa Shigeme would say, “Now suck’em up” 🙂

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts

Values: Choosing Freedom

I read a quote once that went something like: “it’s not hard to make a decision when you know what your values are.”  It is not enough to say that you value something.  The true test of what you value is in how you spend your time, your money, and your energy.  When faced with a difficult choice, we have to weigh what is truly important to us.  Sometimes when we haven’t stopped to think about what really matters, to think through our values intentionally, we make choices based on whatever strikes our fancy at the time.  While this may not be such a horrible thing every once in a while, we do have to consider that the path we take in life is made up of choices.  Sometimes a single choice can drastically alter the course of our lives, for the better or for the worse.  Other times, it’s the small, seemingly meaningless choices that add up over time, quietly forming habits that shape our future.  Either way, in knowing our values and holding fast to them, we can be intentional about our choices, and in fact, the whole course of our lives.

Jedd and I recently had a head-on confrontation with our values.  columbiaThe choice in front of us was that of buying a house.  At first, the values that came into play were not only financial (how much of our income and savings we were willing to sacrifice to own a property) but also what kind of environment we’d like to live in.  As we often tend to do, we seemed to have opposite views on these subjects only to find out later that deep down, we both wanted the same thing.

We determined that we value being able to host friends, to use our car as little as possible in getting to work, and things like that.  We looked at some condos because the more space we have, the more stuff we’ll “need” to fill it.    Having more stuff is one of the biggest pressures in our culture that is the hardest to fight, but one of our goals is that we’ll only buy things that we use on a regular basis.  Also, Jedd is helping me see that it is often more important to buy quality, durable items than whatever is cheapest in order to save money in the long run and to reduce the amount of needless waste.

Other values of ours that came into the house search were those of community and making a positive impact.  We found a great little house in a very unique community, a neighborhood that was once referred to as a “ghetto” and was intentionally restored.  The neighborhood includes privately-owned homes as well as rental units to allow for people of different income levels.  Various social service agencies, a Boys and Girls Club, and the Home Owner’s Association are present to offer community-building and support to people of diverse backgrounds.  The streets are active with children of all ethnicities- many of whom are from refugee families, single-parent households, etc.  While there are many difficult things about the neighborhood (mainly noise and safety), it’s a place we were very drawn to.  We felt we could be of use in this community, at the least as positive role models.  We considered buying the house as an investment in the community itself, more than in the property.  Sure, we could find somewhere safer, more private, more elegant, easier to live in- but we realized that’s not really what our values are about.

So you may be wondering why we haven’t bought this house.  The conditions were ripe- the economy was in our Jeddfavor.  Well, we came very close.  But it turned out that there was a complication in the closing process that caused us to step back and re-evaluate if we valued the house enough to hang in there.  It was another intense moment in our relationship where I was very unsettled and thought Jedd was on a completely different page about the situation.  But it wasn’t so.  We looked at our values.  Yes, we value investing in a community and being somewhere that challenges us to reach out.  Yes, we are committed to Portland long-term.  Yes, we would prefer for our monthly home payment to be invested into our own house rather than go into a landlord’s pocket.  But we’re two young, entrepreneurial people in the midst of life transitions.  Who knows what we will be doing in two years?  And we still have a lot of traveling and adventuring we want to do.  We concluded that although we’d love to be in that house some day, right now we value the “freedom to chmichelleange” even more.  Freedom to pick up and volunteer abroad, freedom to spend a short chapter of our lives doing something else, freedom to take an opportunity when it comes at us and not have to worry about being committed to a certain place or a mortgage payment.  We’ll sacrifice some rent payments to have those freedoms until we know we’re ready to really dig deep into a neighborhood and not be so mobile.

We will  be moving into a rental by the start of November that allows us both to commute without needing to drive.  If you’re in the area, we’ll likely have an “apartment warming” soon.  A big, heartfelt thanks to the Le’s who have graciously hosted us in their home for several months now!  We are blessed by their invaluable generosity and patience during this seemingly endless transition period.