Does getting older change you?

Today I read an article entitled “Things you should stop doing by the time you’re 30”. I overall thought it was a great list. It got me thinking. Not only do I believe there are certain habits you should have worked out by age 30, there are also mentalities and certain insecurities (for lack of better term). One assumption I made when I was younger is that the older I get the less I would care about what others think of me. It would seem very peculiar to me when I heard older people (women especially) talk about their need to look a certain way in public when “people” can see them. What? I’ve heard grown women talk about how bothered they were by someone who disagreed with them… as if they were ashamed to think what they think or are afraid to appear stupid. Are you not allowed to have an opinion? I’m over here thinking “who cares what they think?”

I guess I have to admit, from the start I’ve been blessed to have grown up with a mom who always encouraged my self-confidence. My sister and I have no problem being who we are and never make apologies for it. I guess our mom wanted us to have the confidence she felt she lacked especially in her younger days. Kendra and I always thought that was strange to hear because my mother is extremely brave and shares what is on her mind. We think she is #fierce! I am grateful for whatever it is that my parents did that availed me to growing up without [an over abundance of] insecurities, self-doubt, or thinking we couldn’t do something we put our mind to. I am not afraid to make desicions that are best for me even if that means doing something a friend of mine or colleague won’t like or understand.

Having that background, I know what you as a reader are likely thinking. How can I judge someone else then if they ARE 30 but still struggle with some things. Well, I didn’t exactly say I was judging people! I said it was strange to me! I’m sometimes confused by it. I believe certain things should be dealt with and conquered 12 years after you have graduated high school – or at least valid continuing attempts. Here was the list I read today of “8 things you should stop doing by the time you turn 30″…

1- depending financially on others

2- staying in a bad relationship

3- not de-stressing enough

4- not prioritizing sleep

5- crash dieting and eating too much junk food

6- binge drinking

7- hanging with toxic friends

8- not doing what you say you’re going to do

Even if this list was assembled by Cosmopolitan and shared on their snapchat story I still find myself emphatically agreeing! Where is the lie? Then again, there are certain things I could still be doing better (ahem, number 4). Still, tonight I find myself wondering. I recently had someone cancel lunch plans with me about an hour or two before we were supposed to meet. This person is an early 20’s girl. I had made time in my very busy schedule for this person and rearranged to make it work. Yet, I remember making similar desicions at that age and being super late to meetings with friends and others. I didn’t realize at the time how rude and inconsiderate it was. However, now I’m understanding things better. I have a better grip on life. I’m not perfect and still make mistakes, but overall I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I don’t think I’ll need to learn again soon (knock on wood). I made a LOT of progress each year of my 20’s. I feel like I’m a very different person now than I was even when I got married [at age 22]. Maybe I am being a little judgmental, everyone is different and has their own strengths. However, I just really don’t see how binge drinking or still hanging with toxic friends or especially staying in bad relationships can be excusable at 30. I know a lot of people carry heavy baggage from their childhood or past that they are still working out. I get that. Many people have gone through serious trials that have prevented them from being their best self in the past. I think of a friend of mine who is 30 and is struggling with PTSD after serving in Iraq. Can I blame them? Of course not. Everyone is different.

I think the people that bother me are those I know really don’t have any “valid excuse”. You know these people? This is why I could never work with college kids or young career age. Send me all the teens! Teenagers have an excuse, they’re still learning! When you are 26 and wondering if you should date a guy everyone knows is bad news… what is your problem? It’s a struggle for me to show certain people grace with that! Does getting older change you? Shouldn’t it? A better way to put this might be the following. It is not only the sole factor of time passing in your life (aging) that gives you a better grip, mindset, or habits… it is how you allow your experiences to shape and teach you. You can be your own teacher.

I was… okay, I am a stubborn person. One thing I did to help myself become a better learner is get a few older women to mentor me. When I’m having trouble learning my lessons (or even completely unaware I’m not learning my lesson), talking it out with my mentors help beyond words can describe. I have three women who are older and wiser with whom I share all with. One is in her 40’s, one is in her 50’s, and one is in her 60’s. Their feedback and advice is so helpful even when sharing a scary truth or something I hate to be wrong about I still covet their opinions. Each have proven to really hear me, listen to me, and know me. Each look out for me and have nothing but my best interest at heart. So, their advice is always spot on. Because there are three of them whenever I hear something from one that I’m still unsure about I can always share it with two other trusted sources. Each of them share my core values and beliefs and when all three are singing the same song to me – I know I gotta listen and follow through!

The other obvious answer is my faith. If you know me than you know I believe in God, love Jesus, and experience a relationship with Him that is life changing. If you’re a skeptic or have never heard from God yourself before and don’t believe – we can still be friends I hope. For me, God is the surest and realest part of my life. The wisdom and knowledge I receive from Him – the LOVE and acceptance that I receive – is better than any human wisdom or support. Jesus is the most consistent person in my life. The love, peace, understanding, and wisdom I receive from Him is beyond anything I could have hoped for. If you’re wondering about God email me today at Learnin2breathe.blog@gmail.com – I’m willing to talk to anyone in a judgement-free and safe context. I can try by best to answer any questions you might have.

Overall, hey you – yeah you in your 20’s. Be your best self. Work towards your goals. Don’t be that lazy and immature human at 30. You can make it. You can heal. You can progress. I promise! And I’ll try to have more patience and understanding as well 🙂 Maybe I can even help you like my mentors have helped me.

“Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art” Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

“A man who views the world the same way at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life” Muhammed Ali

“…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:3-8 

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Is it me against the world?

Anybody ever feel like you are the only person on the planet trying to do the right thing? Even though you know that’s not true you still wonder why you work so hard, so sacrificially even, while others continue to crap on you? Why even bother working that hard at doing the right thing…? A while ago I did a post on choices over at 47 Grove. When I was younger I had no problem with the concept of “thankless” good deeds. As an adult I’ve had more time and experience to see real messed up stuff happen. Maybe that’s why it is now sometimes harder to understand why you can do everything right and still get crapped on. Perseverance used to come a lot easier. I went so far as to look up the definition of the word “persevere”…. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. One synonym given was literarily to “struggle on”. I guess “the struggle is real” is an actual thing. Even if you have been around long enough to know doing the right thing means you’ll likely still get crapped on… it’s not until you’re actually IN the crap that things really get tough. You know it’s coming, and yet still when it hits you wonder why life is spinning.

I could be a beach bum. For the rest of my life! I love the sound of that career. I could sell art on the boardwalk. I could wear a bathing suit every day. I could even do a little ministry and pray for people along the beach, right? Doesn’t that sound a whole lot better right now? Costa Rica has nice beaches I’ve heard. Beach missions.

Hmmm… God doesn’t seem to have called me to a life of beach missions. Bummah. Instead I’m in the trenches of what many have called the “thankless ministry”. They call it youth ministry. In all actuality it’s more like babysitting, mentoring, coaching, life guarding, cleaning, driving, car pooling, feeding, reading, pick ups, nursing, juggling, praying, praying, and really praying that everyone turns out alright. Myself included. The beach sounds a lot easier though! Maybe someday. Possibly around retirement age. That’s okay.

I’m not the only one to have experienced an unwanted or seemingly undeserved ending to a really good / moral / or even evangelistic deed. I think of the many times in the Bible people who were in the middle of doing the right thing got crapped on. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison. Jesus’ disciples were arrested, tortured, murdered. Mary saw her miracle baby brutally killed in front of her own eyes. Let’s not even go Old Testament here. Daniel was thrown in a pit with vicious lions. Noah was mocked by his entire society. Let’s not even go there with Job or Jeremiah.

I guess I feel pretty stupid now. Many have experienced far harsher trials than my own. One thing I’m always telling my kids is that God always keeps His promises, and to remember that He promises this life will be hard and… the struggle is real. Dang, I knew saying that all the time would come back to bite me someday. Taking my own advice.

We aren’t supposed to feel good after every right decision. We are supposed to feel right about every good decision. Sometimes you’ll be thrown for a loop. The ending won’t be what you wanted, could have guessed or even deserved. So let’s examine again why we do the right thing. First reason, because I’m called by the God who I love. After sacrificing for me I know that I can sacrifice for Him. I can do what He’s asked because I love Him and He is God. Second reason, because others will benefit from my right decision even if I don’t. Third reason, because someday I will be rewarded. Oh, and it will be a great great reward in heaven. God will bless me on earth as well according to how He sees fit. Fourth and final reason, because I trust Him. God knows what He’s doing. and I don’t need to question why. I just need to serve. I just need to make right choices. I just need to be faithful. I trust God for the rest. He knows what I need better than I do.

Guess what… it still sucks to get crapped on. Ha! Yeah, I know. So there are things you can do during those times. As you can see, I tend to blog a bit! It releases tension for me and provides a safe place to get all my thoughts out in the open. I often figure out a lesson God’s been trying to teach me after I read my own thoughts that I’ve poured out while writing. I also make sure I am resting, taking a sabbath each week, and caring for my health properly. I escape to the beach when I need to. I get some fresh air and clear my head. I do something I really enjoy for an afternoon if it’s well deserved. I call someone who I know understands or cares and just have a conversation with them. Even if it’s not extraordinarily deep it means something to have someone you care about talk to you on the phone for a bit. I take a deep breathe. I take a sip of my coffee. Eventually I find my way back to my prayer closet. I read my Bible. I ask God for wisdom. I try and move forward. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. There’s isn’t a better way. There isn’t a short cut. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way.

It’s troubling sometimes the amount of hardship we can expect to come. Even still I reminded that God has given me all the means to make it through. If I’m filled with the Holy Spirit and my God is for me… who can be against me?

Let’s start over!

Life update: I am blogging. Yes. Okay, doing one thing right! Anyone else get the feeling that adulthood is absolutely NOT something that is possible to “master”… like… ever?! What does “successful” even MEAN? As a kid you imagine yourself a successful adult looking a very specific way. Well, I’m here now! What’s the deal?

Let’s be clear. I love my life, love my husband, and I consider myself very blessed. I’m also sick, overwhelmed, and sometimes in some ways I feel as though I have less direction than I ever did. Very contrasting! There’s so much about my life that I enjoy. A moment where my husband and I lock eyes and communicate through a smile. A moment when I sit down in a comfy chair at a coffee shop with a good friend and sip a delicious latte over conversation. A moment when one of my students makes a good and Godly decision for their life. A moment when I hear the perfect harmony to a beautiful song. There is so much to love, appreciate, and look forward to.

There’s also so much that I could not have imagined. I never thought I’d live my entire adulthood with a life altering illness. I never thought I’d be a bi-vocational minister. I always assumed I’d just do ministry forever and solely, it’s that simple. Come to find out, it’s definitely NOT that simple. Very few things are simple now. In retrospect high school and certainly college were simpler times. I think in college my main thoughts might have revolved around going to the beach, sleeping, and hanging out with my boyfriend. Now, there’s real like, life altering decisions to be made! When should we have a kid? When should buy a house? Can my body actually handle the stresses of having two jobs? Should I finally listen to my doctor and slow down?

I know I’ve only been an official adult for 8 years, but wow. This is it huh? Those of you who are further along and have already had your biological kids are probably laughing. Ha. Yeah, I know. I’m ridiculous. I’ve always thought that because of my profession, my adolescence, and my training [or something?!] that I was warped forward into a rather “mature” [for my age] adulthood and that’s why I’m able to function as such. Now I’m feeling a bit juvenile. My husband recently brought this to my attention in a very loving and concerned fashion. He is my biggest fan and is always looking out for me. So yesterday he took me to Panera and said “will you let me tell you something as your spiritual leader?”… and that’s very exciting when my husband talks like that. Any other Christian women out there feelin me? That’s hot. Anyways… he let me know that it’s time to focus! It’s time to realign our goals. It’s time to stop talking about how overwhelmed I am. It’s time to trust in the Lord. It’s time to listen to Him. I am excited for this new chapter of NOT self-reliance, but of God reliance! My favorite book in the entire world is “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. Absolutely life changing. It just so happens [and this happens often] that yesterday’s devo was SPOT on what we were talking about. I highly recommend this book/devo… whoever is reading this blog post you MUST buy this!

After talking to Clark and reading my devo, spending some quality time with the Lord… I’m realizing more and more how my life is not what I thought. I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am SO GLAD my life is NOT what I imagined! It’s farrrrrrrrr greater! My husband is…. WOW…. hott!… out of the this world amazing. We do something truly amazing with our lives. We are youth pastors. It’s a call I never imagined I would answer and serve alongside my husband. I have kids! Lots of them. They are SO annoying most of the time. Haha! But they are also so special. I love them beyond words can say. I think sometimes I might need them more than they need me. Maybe you other youth pastors or youth pastors wives can relate? When people ask me “Do you have kids?” I always respond without hesitation, “yes! I have about 200 of them”. They are my joy. Our ministry and our calling is my joy. I’m ready to focus on the Giver of Joy. The Creator of Life. The Father of Light. The One to whom I owe my life and more. What’s more, I can trust Him. When I trust Him, everything falls together in line. Life is hard and unexpected, but that is part of the beauty. Just wait for it. Trust Him and He will guide you and show you. I promise. I’m waiting too.

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 

A few rambling thoughts and one meaningful one…

It’s unbelievable how long it’s been since my last post! Can you believe how irresponsible I’m being as a blogger? Let me tell you, friends… it’s been a really crazy 2013. Clark and I have been kept irregularly busy at work and life is speeding by a little too quickly. Our students are keeping us more occupied than they ever have before… mostly in a good way.

To quickly sum up… Since January during the winter months we’ve had SEVERAL huge snow storms and for some reason the crazy weather effects life here in New England. Shouldn’t we  really be used to it by now?! My parents took a trip to India. Can you believe they didn’t bring me with them to India? How. Rude. We did house-sit for them though, which proved a little more involved than we thought. Being home owners is time consuming! My family has also been preparing for my little sister’s wedding. My family as in – me and my mom mostly. In March Clark and I are spent his birthday in NYC for a couple days then I jetted off to California for 9 days to attend a great Missions Conference at Biola University, see my sister, see my baby on American Idol, and have a good ‘ol time.

Since then I’ve been spending all of my time trying to learn from the Biola Missions experience and turn our own church’s missions experience into something really great! We are going to the next level! Then I have the youth department… we are going on five straight weeks of trips this summer…. five SEPARATE trips! I am exhausted just preparing for them. Two weeks of camps. Then a missions trip to Oakland, California. Then we are going to Orlando, Florida for National Fine Arts competition with our wicked talented teenagers. Then there’s days of outreaches to get prepared for on top of normal youth group duties, Crews, Sunday Schools, Drama and Worship Team. Did I mention my intern just got a job and had to turn in her two weeks notice? Wow… all of a sudden I’m feeling overwhelmed. Can’t imagine why! If this seems like a lot – it’s the tip of the ice burg! Tonight, I’ll just blog a quick thought.

How I Met Your Mother... one of my top 10 shows of all time!

How I Met Your Mother… one of my top 10 shows of all time!

“Kids, sometimes you think you think you’re living out one story, ut the truth turns out to be something else entirely.” – Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother

Lately, I’ve become extremely aware of the differences between myself and the upcoming generation. It’s like all of a sudden everything is different and my eyes have been opened. I’m as old as I’ve ever been right now!!!! Don’t get me wrong… in no way do I ever want to return to my teenage years! My life has never been better than it is right now, I feel very blessed. However, I never thought I’d be considered an “adult” by teenagers. They don’t consider me apart of their generation, which… is true I’m not. Weird. I’m considered “old” or at least “older” than them and not in a good way like “oh em gee, you can drive us around past midnight”… I mean old as in “well, you’re older so that doesn’t count”. As if I’m allowed be cool anymore?? As if I can’t even understand what they’re going through?!?! These kids literarily see me as an old married woman. Disclaimer: I really do understand that I’m NOT an old woman, but in this context I totally am. Some of my students go to concerts of bands that I cannot imagine a sane person ever listening to on purpose. I am not even kidding, their band names sound a string of words pushed together from the middle of a schizophrenic uncle’s holiday outburst. There are bands – a seemingly endless amonts of bands – whom I have never heard of and have no intention of learning about. Why don’t teenagers ever want to go to sleep… they have to get up SO early for school?!?! How did I ever do school???

If I had to turn 25... I felt awfully lucky to have this handsome man start the party of right at midnight with this delicious display!

If I had to turn 25… I felt awfully lucky to have this handsome man start the party off right! He showed up on my side of the bed at midnight with this delicious display!

Welp, here I am at the quarter century mark and I’m feeling verrrrrry different than I even did three years ago. I can’t imagine how different I’ll feel in another three years. Right now one of my “life problems” is figuring out when I’m going to have a baby. No, seriously. People won’t leave me alone about it. Remember when you’re life problem was figuring out how to purposefully “accidentally” run into your crush in the hallway? Or what a so called friend said about you in third period? I even remember in college thinking how life was hard at times… THAT WAS NOTHING!!! Being an adult is such a strange new chapter. But I wouldn’t trade it in a million years.

Recently the husb and I came to the realization that I need to get a part time job on the side. It’s a struggle and challenge to think I could do this. In the beginning of this blog post I just went over how insanely busy my life is. I can’t make time for another minute of work. Somehow I have to sacrifice SOMETHING – I guess even if it’s things at church or with youth – to get a another job so we can stay afloat. Getting another job is also scary because of my health. Right now my schedule is flexible and I am in charge of my own hours and projects. If I’m not feeling 100% I can work from home or maneuver things to work out the way I need them to. Most of the time I can get rest when I need it. Getting another job does not give me this benefit.

All this to say… I must trust in the Lord. I wish I knew what exactly He was doing. It’s strange because I feel a little conflicted… I feel like my life is so put together for the first time in history yet at the same time I don’t what the crap is going on! God has always provided and showed up just when I needed Him too. I am under the impression I’m operating under His will for my life. I am just following His instruction! So… why doesn’t everything work out? Why do I have to get another job? What do I give up in order to attain said job? I’m confused but I just have to trust that He has everything under control.

I guess what I’m trying to say out of all of this is… “problems” aren’t exclusive with a certain age group or life chapter. There isn’t a place you reach in life where you can sit back and say “no worries now!”. It is interesting how problems manifest during each chapter though… issues look different now and come in different packages as an adult. However, as an adult I’m able to maneuver problems at least slightly better. This is because my foundation in Christ is set… I’ve been working on our relationship for twenty years! My foundation in my marriage is also set… I can rely on my husband. I have God to lean on and because I’m older I’ve already been through many situations where God has proven Himself. So, I’ve “lived and learned” as they say and I’m a little wiser (supposedly) when it comes to handling new problems. Maybe what I should say instead is that… I can trust God a little easier. I know He will take care of me. I know He will meet all my needs.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” Romans  8:28

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5 

While My Husband Sleeps… Thoughts for Today

Good evening, friends. These are my last thoughts before bed today. Apparently, they are interesting enough to share. 🙂 So. Ever wonder what you’re love language is with God? Today my intern Ana and I were doing some research (it’s Love Month at youth group) and we ended up creating a skit for our students to preform. The skit so happens to base five characters off each love language as described in Gary Chapman’s book. Yes, that really is what I did at work today. Subsequently, my husband asked me tonight “do you ever find yourself giving advice that you should really be taking yourself?”… and immediately I answered “I’m convinced that is how God speaks us sometimes, because otherwise we might not listen”. Now, am I really suggesting that God uses reverse psychology on us? Haha, I don’t know. I really have very little answers. Maybe you have found yourself in the position of regular “advice giver” like myself and my husband. For us it’s occupational hazard, maybe for you it’s simply that you are the least stupid friend someone has. Either way, have you ever asked yourself this question… “am I really living out the advice I just gave to [insert person’s name here]?”

Back to the love language thing. God and I have had a pretty serious relationship going on twenty years now. Sometimes I’m reminded that He really knows me… kinda freakish really! It’s startling how well God cares for me when I let him. God knows my personality (duh, He created me this way) and knows the way I need to be reminded when I should be doing better in my walk. When I’m giving someone else advice the pressure is off me, right? Uh, wrong. Somehow God ends up sneaking in something for me anyways. It’s a real subtle way of smacking me in the face for a much needed wake up call! Is that an oxymoronic statement? Subtle face smack? It’s some type of moron I’m sure. I’m thinking – aren’t I here to help some other person with the consequences of THEIR stupid decision?? When I need challenging God often finds an unconventional and unexpected way to let me know. I love when God speaks to me in ways He knows I’ll really take to heart. I don’t even realize until the moment is long past. It’s His way of loving me. He knows what I need to hear and in what fashion. This is something I like about our relationship! I also like that He knows my value and expects me to live up to it.

Thank you God for always taking care of me in every way possible. Even when I’m not giving You my all, I find a reminder that You’re there and want more of me. I want to serve You more because of it! Thank you Lord for making me better.

“No, the Lord is all I need.

    He takes care of me.
My share in life has been pleasant;
my part has been beautiful.

I praise the Lord because he advises me.
    Even at night, I feel his leading.
I keep the Lord before me always.
    Because he is close by my side,
    I will not be hurt.
So I rejoice and am glad.
    Even my body has hope,
10 because you will not leave me in the grave.
    You will not let your holy one rot.
11 You will teach me how to live a holy life.
    Being with you will fill me with joy;
    at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.”

Psalm 16: 5 – 11

Clervois Christmas & New Years Greetings!

Hello friends and family! You’re likely reading this because you got a holiday card in the mail from Clark & I! We loved putting it together and sending it to as many loved ones as we wanted we could afford! So, here’s a digital copy for those who haven’t yet seen it – this goes out to all of you LTB readers and friends!

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 1.26.05 AM

It reads “Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! From Clark & Kimberly Clervois, Our Greetings at Learning to Breathe!”

These six photos we chose because each represents something that we either care about or want to share with you here. We will work from the first photo on the upper left hand corner (working counter-clockwise) to the last photo where I’m wearing the red plaid shirt!

Photo 1 Happy New Years 2012! This photo was taken on the very first day of the year! We began 2012 with Clark’s immediate family at his parent’s house located in the gorgeous Port Saint Lucie, Florida! Not a bad start to the year, right? Clark’s wonderful sister Jovi took this photo of us. I love how every year at midnight she makes a big deal when the ball drops – we have a lot of fun! We always take pictures and light sparklers in the back yard. Clark and I only get to see his parents (Bob & Carole) once a year for about a week at New Years so you can imagine how precious those days are for Clark especially. It’s good to have a relaxing “chill” time down in Florida to rest up before the next year hits. We sure are ready for our upcoming annual trip to Florida leaving next week! This will be the fifth year I’ve joined the Clervois family New Years holiday =)

Photo 2 Happy Easter! This photo was taken on (Greek) Easter Sunday at my Aunt Nancy’s house. My immediate family are all pastor’s (as you know if you are a regular LTB reader) so we are working on the real Easter! A week later when things have died down, we love to celebrate with my mom’s best friend and her daughter – my cousin – Deanna and her husband Matt. I’m very grateful for my Aunt Nancy and Deanna in our lives… they are family to us even if it’s not through bloog! I especially love my Aunt Nancy because she is by far one of the wisest women I’ve ever been in contact with and I’m glad she is my mom‘s best friend. My cousin Deanna also became a Youth Worker in our The Counter Influence youth group Clark and I lead. I was so happy when DD joined our team because she can bring a lot to the table and I know she will make a difference in the lives of our young people. You can also maybe tell by the photo it’s the last time you will see our “former selves” before diet season came and weight loss happened!

Photo 3Summer is coming! This photo was taken in our hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Clark and I moved here when we got married and have absolutely loved being apart of the Salem community. The lighthouse in the background you see is the historic Fort Pickering Lighthouse on Winter Island. This “hidden treasure” quickly became one of our favorites places to be in this city. Winter Island has a fascinating history that you can read about it online if you are History nerds like me and Clark! This location of Fort Pickering was the ONLY New England port NOT to be captured during the Revolutionary War! So cool. It’s a beautiful place to tour, walk, and take pictures now! We love adventuring to different historical landmarks on our day off every week. Another reason we love Salem – so much history! Salem has also become near and dear to our hearts because this past September Calvary launched our third daughter church called Remix Church where my sister and soon to be brother-in-law are both pastoring in the great city of Salem! Clark and I are so proud of Kendra and Sterling! Plus it’s nice to live only a mile from Sterling… which is also where he and Kendra will continue to live when they get married in June! Us sisters are happy about that =)

Photo 4, 5, 6 Fall has arrived and Happy Thanksgiving! The summer flew by. Being full time Youth Pastors keeps us extraordinarily busy during the summer months with camps, outreaches, missions trip, and more. I’ll mention more on that in a minute! These last three pictures were taken in Bridgton, Maine (right near Naples). If you are a regular on my blog you’ve seen the posts from our family’s Thanksgiving get-away to Maine! Being there was a huge blessing. A church family member loaned us the use of their condo on the lake knowing how much we all needed rest and relaxation! Clark and I first visited this lovely place for our TWO YEAR Anniversary in September… Can you believe we’ve been married two years?! It has really flown by and we’ve loved being married more each day. We really are enjoying each other’s company and hilarity. We again visited the lakeside condo with our family for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time, especially enjoying my sister Kendra being home from Biola University for a week. Thank God for his provision and putting wonderful friends and church family members in our lives. God always meets our needs and takes care of us. Can you also tell in this last three pictures Clark is down 50lbs and I’m down 15lbs?! We worked hard to get there. Marriage makes you eat a lot of cookies… we finally picked up on that and are trying to eat and live healthier  We are getting there!

A few ministry (“Professional” if you will) highlights from 2012…

Our “kids” at the Ci Youth: Our students were once again named the top giving youth group to Speed the Light! We started a new small group system called “Crews” that has revolutionized our ministry and fostered much discipleship and growth. We saw many students come to know Jesus for the first time, get water baptized, join a ministry like worship or drama team, and receive a calling into ministry themselves. We feel incredibly blessed to Pastor the amazing, hilarious, and talented students of The Counter Influence. We also are extraordinarily grateful to work with an amazing volunteer youth staff who back us up in every way! We are proud to say 80% of our student body are in Sunday School on Sunday mornings! Our kids rocked out summer camp, a missions trip to Nicaragua, outreaches to places like Revere Beach, and our latest “Next Level” Fall Retreat. Our students continue to blow us away every chance they get… and they keep us VERY busy!

For Kim: In March I was able to fly to L.A. and attend Biola University’s “Missions Conference” week and was truly inspired by all they are doing for the Kingdom (you’ll see some of that come to fruition at Calvary for the Missions Convention in October 2013). I was able to

Clark and I this past July on Lake Nicaragua in front of a live volcano while on our SNEMN AIM Missions trip!

Clark and I this past July on Lake Nicaragua in front of a live volcano while on our SNEMN AIM Missions trip!

really settle into my role as AIM Coordinator in our Student Ministry department of Southern New England (Assemblies of God) Ministry Network – otherwise known as SNEMN. The end of last year into the beginning of this year I traveled to many different youth groups all over our district (MA, CT, RI) taking to students about missions and promoting our 2012 AIM Trip. In July, I lead a week long missions trip to Managua, Nicaragua (with Missionaries Ken and Kendra Doutt) with 27 SNEMN AIMer’s who were the light of the world! It was honestly one of the best missions trip of my life – God moved in INCREDIBLE ways! This year I got the opportunity to teach a Youth Ministry class at Zion Bible College and was a great first try! I would love to do more of that. I attended a Youth Ministry Symposium at Gordon College in the fall with three of our Crew Pastor’s – loved it. I got the opportunity to be a guest contributor on Question Your Doubts a blog by Dr. & Rev. Christina Powell (check out my post). Coming up for me in February 2013 I’ll be speaking a bit about our Crews and my experience with Youth Ministry in New England at the OPEN BOSTON Youth Ministry conference. Looking forward to the next year in ministry!

For Clark: Every week Pastor Clark continues to blow me away with his preaching and communciating God’s Word to our students. He is literally one of the best preachers in the world – not biased or anything ;-). Biola University seemed to agree and flew him out to speak in a chapel service this past November! He delivered the message God had put on his heart with passion challenging these college students to dig deeper in their faith and love for the Lord! This year Clark took an important role in the planning of our district summer camps this year as well, and he continues to serve as the Northeast Mass REP for our SNEMN Student Ministries department! He also continues to lead our youth group with wisdom and grace while leaning on the Lord and following His direction! Our Youth Ministry at Calvary Christian Church continues to grow and develop under Clark’s keen leadership. He’s now leading worship and training up a new generation of lead worshippers with our CI Youth Band! Clark is not only a gifted preacher, but a extremely talented musician  Our students love and respect him so much and I know they appreciate our leadership and role in their lives. Check out some of Pastor Clark’s video blogs to our students here or o straight to his first, second, third most recent video.

Hope you enjoyed learning about our year! The End =)

Check out my Guest Post on “Question Your Doubts”!

Hello friends! Hope you’re doing well this Christmas season – it’s really here! I have a few posts in the works for Learning to Breathe… but in the mean time please check out my guest blog post on www.questionyourdoubts.com! I was so honored that Dr. Christina Powell of QYD asked me to be a guest contributor.

Dr Powell is a brilliant scientist, writer, minister, and well known teacher. If you haven’t checked out her blog before I’m glad you’ll get the opportunity to do so now (you might even see some familiar faces in her site photos). Dr Powell, her husband, and two adorable girls have been a part of our church for many years. Her and her husband were – believe it or not! – my Sunday School teachers when I was probably 10 or 11 years old! I absolutely adored her class as a kid because it was so fun and educational at the same time! Out of all the Sunday School classes I was in through my childhood it was hers that I retained the most knowledge about the Bible to this day!

I honestly felt a little unworthy considering the company I hold with the other contributors to QYD. I am so thankful to Dr Powell for thinking of me and very grateful for this opportunity!

Tell me what you think of my post entitled “Fork in the Road” on Question Your Doubts.