Detroit Moves You

Way back when I gave a half hearted attempt to blog regularly, I started a little series called “Experiencing Detroit.” The whole point of it was to calm my anxious spirit about residing in Michigan. A city girl to the core, (ironically living in quasi-farmland currently) any time we ventured to Chicago, Atlanta or D.C. I would feel a pang for that style of life. Then I’d return home and lament over Detroit. Detroit is dangerous. Detroit is boring. What does Detroit have to offer me? With all of that said probably one too many a time, my husband called me out. Can’t blame the guy. He said if I so desperately wanted a taste of city life then let’s go explore the one that’s only 30 minutes away. So we did. 


Just over 2 years later, and anyone that knows us knows the passion that we have developed for Detroit. If I could go back in time and knock some sense into myself, I would. Everything about that statement above stands true. Detroit is not something/somewhere you can explain. There are so many pre-dispositions about the city that steal away the opportunity for incredible experiences. Yes, Detroit has dangerous areas. So do most cities. And just like in those places, you make smart choices about where/when to be somewhere. But life is too short and Detroit is too wonderful to avoid an entire vicinity based on fear. 


If you live near Detroit, please do not miss out what it has to offer. It’s not hard to find something you’ll love. Brandon and I didn’t develop our passion by force-feeding ourselves the city on a daily basis. We chose to head downtown for a date night instead of to our comfort zones. Once a week or a couple times a month. That’s all it took for us to recognize what we were missing. Is it summer? Go sit in the sand! The frozen snow globe that is Michigan winter? Go ice skating! Both can be found at Campus Martius. Take a walk down Woodward during the Holidays and do your Christmas shopping at the dozens of shops that appear inside the light-draped buildings. Stop in the Roasting Plant or Great Lakes Coffee or any of the many coffee shops in the city for a departure from the standard coffee experience. Choose a seat by the window and watch the hustle and bustle of the city go on around you. 


Only have a morning to spare? Go to the Detroit Institute of Bagels. Try something from the small batch. Food. Don’t even get me started. Our favorites? Roast. The Detroit Beer Co. Lafayette. Green Dot. Supino. Bucharest. Pegasus. Angelina. I could go on, there are more. And there are still many, many more that we have not yet tried. If I could live in the city for Detroit Restaurant Week, I would. 10 days, tons of restaurants offering special 3-course meals at a steal. It is our best excuse to head to Roast, or any of the other incredible dining experiences that normally fall outside of our budget. And please, I beg of you, go to Melt for some gelato. You can’t go wrong there.

10171907_10202033018648049_4262107957453803376_nOn a limited budget? Pack a picnic, go explore Belle Isle. Even on a cloudy day it has a view that can’t be beat. Watch the sun set over the city skyline. If you don’t feel comfortable walking the city to explore it or have no one to go with, grab your bike and show up on a Monday night for the Slow Roll. If it’s summer or early fall, buy cheap tickets to a Tiger’s game. Comerica holds one of my favorite city views. 


In my mind, there is no excuse or reason not to find time to explore Detroit. I’m not asking you to pack up your family and move there (I peruse houses online on the regular), just find moments to appreciate everything this city has to offer. I’ve told you a few, find the hundreds of others. 


Go experience Detroit. I dare you to not fall in love with it. 

Close Your Eyes

Close your eyes
Let me tell you all the reasons why
I think you’re one of a kind.
Here’s to you
The one that always pulls us through
Always do what you gotta do
You’re one of a kind,
Thank God you’re mine.


Year Three.

Each year when I sit down to write these to you, words have come easily. This year is different.

I have struggled with how to put words to my emotions.

I don’t think there are words deep enough to describe what this year has been like. 


The best words to say are thank you.

Thank you for being my rock. 

Those words have never held so much meaning as they do after this year. 

I pray you feel how deeply I mean that.

Thank you for understanding.

For letting me spend many, many days away.

You have so graciously allowed me to process life.

I will borrow your words and echo that these have been the hardest 3 years of our lives,

and I think this year took the cake.


Thank you for your commitment to us. 

For as unexpected and hard year three has been, I do not doubt that it will be a key year that we will forever reflect on.

There have been many moments where we have loved each other while deeply disliking each other,

and I would not trade those for 10,000 “easy” years. 

Over and over again I am so thankful for the depth of our relationship.

For the friendship that is our foundation. 

You have never ceased to be my best friend. 

Marriage is hard.

Life is unexpected.

There is no one I would rather navigate this hard, unexpected life with.


And just in case I don’t express it enough, or in the best way:

I am so proud of you. 

You are chasing your dreams, you are being a difference maker, a catalyst.

Please don’t ever let anyone steal those dreams from you.

Please don’t let anyone ever cut you down for standing for what you believe in. 

You are doing incredible things.

The depth of my admiration for you is indescribable. 

I am the luckiest woman in the world to be yours. 

Happy Anniversary my love. 

A Year in Review

I would love to be good at blogging consistently.

So we bought a house and a puppy. If I blogged often you would have already seen all the changes we’ve made to the house, and how much our pup, Duke, has grown in size. But I haven’t, so you’ve missed a bit. And right now the house is not in picture taking shape, so again, missing out. Hopefully at some point I can get around to showing a couple of small projects.

I can’t believe it is already 2014. I thought 2012 was crazy with getting used to marriage and lots of travels, but 2013 was gone in the blink of an eye. Some highlights from our year:

| j a n u a r y | I started a new job – my dream job – as the high school assistant at our church. We also started perusing houses.

| f e b r u a r y | Winter Retreat with 250 wonderful students and staff. It was my first big event so I was nervous about everything going well, and it did! Thank the Lord. A few weeks before that I saw a house that I absolutely loved, but B didn’t feel that the time was right. That was a really hard moment for me of stepping back and letting my husband lead us the way he felt was best. Submitting to my husband in marriage is not always easy for my only child personality. I’m working on it.

| a p r i l | Jamaica missions trip! Another first for me at work, and a week that will forever be one of my favorites. I left a piece of my heart with the many children we worked with, and with a sweet young mom who I connected with. B was determined to buy a house while I was gone since he knew how frustrated I was getting with the house hunt, it didn’t happen but I love that he tried.

| m a y | After months of searching, praying, offering, losing, we finally made an offer on a house. The next day it went to a bidding war situation and we had 48 hours to decide what to do. That afternoon I met our fantastic realtor at a house that had gone up for sale in the neighborhood of that house I loved back in February. We had seen 2 other houses in the neighborhood since that time and fell in love with them. They were the ones that we lost out on, and that was a heartbreaking time for me. So even though we had made another offer, I decided to just take one last look. The house I met her at was awful, but while she was waiting for me she noticed that the house across the street was being flipped. The awesome person that she is, she did some research and found the owner. We sneaked a peek at the inside through the back window, and I kid you not, I hugged the house. And then I started to panic. After losing bids on houses and finally having one that we had a shot at getting, I didn’t know if we wanted to take the leap to try and get the “new” one instead. B and I talked about it and prayed about it and decided to let our offer expire.

| j u n e | After a month of ups and downs negotiating for the house, God provided and we closed on our home. It is in the neighborhood that we fell in love with, and took all of the best qualities from the other two houses we had offered on and then some. We are floored that our first house is what it is and so thankful that we trusted God’s timing. We closed on the house and moved in the week before our other mission trip of the year, Detroit. While it was crazy moving and being away for a week, June was one of the best months of the year.

| a u g u s t | Duke came home! And let me tell you, having an 8 week old puppy is similar to having a new baby. Sleep training was rough. This mama couldn’t handle him crying in his crate the first night and cuddled him to sleep. I fear what this means for our [distant] future of children. We did eventually crate train him so that he would love being in there, and now we let him roam free at night. However, he has quadrupled in size since we brought him home, and a 45 pound moving animal makes a queen bed feel like a twin.

| o c t o b e r | Second retreat of the year, another amazing weekend.

| n o v e m b e r | November was, without a doubt, the craziest month of the year for us. B’s grandmother was not doing well health wise, so we drove out to the far side of Iowa to spend a few moments with her to say our goodbyes. It is a 13ish hour drive each way, so we left on a Saturday morning and got back home on Monday night. Shortly after we walked in the door we got the call that she had passed away. We were home for a few days and then headed back out at the end of the week and spent another weekend there for the funeral. It was draining, but it was such a sweet time spent with B’s family. We got back the following Monday, and that Thursday I jumped in a van with our student ministry team to head down to Nashville for the Youth Specialties Conference. Even though it was absolutely crazy being in a car/van for 68 hours over a 2 week span, I was so thankful for every moment of it.

| d e c e m b e r | After a crazy November, B and I tried to be intentional about taking some time for ourselves before Christmas chaos started. We spent an incredible night in downtown Detroit hanging out in the city that we have both fallen in love with. Christmas was crazy as usual, but a great time with friends and family.

I hope your 2013 was as wonderful as ours [hopefully a little less crazy] and that your 2014 is starting off equally as great!




Dancing in the Minefields

“I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin

Everyone always says that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I was so excited when we hit that 12 month mark.

“If this year was the hardest then we don’t have anything to worry about!”

215871_4030476321315_1216763651_n 3

We have always been so sure of “us.” We were never that couple that broke up/made up/broke up/made up. I knew 3 weeks into dating you that I was going to marry you and I never looked back. We went through a lot in the year we dated. We overcame struggles, secrets. In my mind we went through more than most newlyweds and that gave me confidence for our first year.

Then we were married, and we had new struggles. Struggles again, that most married couples don’t ever experience. And we survived, we flourished. Nights where we found ourselves calling out to God, begging for answers, strengthened us.


This has been quite the second year. We have been blessed beyond belief. But in the process of that we lost us. We got comfortable. Too comfortable. So comfortable that we stopped trying. We stopped communicating.

And that brought pain. It caused hurt.

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love’s chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear


Fireworks are exciting. They come out of nowhere, surprise you with intensity and splendor, and then disappear. Sometimes quickly, other times they slowly fade into the background and before you can realize it there is nothing but the sky. Are we disappointed when it is just the sky? Sometimes. But then we notice the sky. We see the stars in perfect formation, stretching far beyond what we can comprehend. And we discover that the true beauty is not the fireworks. The fireworks are nothing. The true beauty is the sky.

Love isn’t about the fireworks. The fireworks are great!
But that’s not the good stuff.
You get to the good stuff when you choose to see
the beauty beyond the fireworks.


And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

‘Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you.

Happy Anniversary Brandon Edward.
You are beyond loved.


I am having a deep appreciation for the little things lately. We are smack dab in the middle of a waiting process and if I think too much about it I start to go slightly crazy.


Talenti Double Dark Chocolate Gelato. Just looking at the container makes me want to go pull it back out of the freezer. Never mind that I just put it back about 3 minutes ago. I have had two great ice cream loves in my life, Baskin Robbins Truffle in Paradise and Dove Unconditional Chocolate. Both are long since gone in my area leaving me with limited options when I am having a major chocolate craving. I’d seen Talenti on the shelves for a while but finally picked up a pint last week to give it a shot. Pint 2 is now in the freezer.

ballet slippers

Essie Ballet Slippers. This is my new go-to color. It is only in the last year(ish) that I’ve started wearing nail polish consistently. Before that it was a french manicure or nada. For some reason I always felt like colored polish made me look younger. I have that feeling about a lot of things, but then again so would you if you were mistaken for a teenager on a regular basis.

seche vite

Seche Vite. I wouldn’t dare mention Ballet Slippers without talking about Seche Vite. I would have long since given up on having painted nails if it weren’t for it. I have an Essie obsession so I splurged one day on top coats, bottom coats, etc. I would painstakingly take the time to go through each coat only to go to sleep and wake up with nails that looked rippled. I did some research and found out that it has something to do with the ingredients in your nail polish vs. top coat. If they aren’t similar the top coat will dry before the colored coat making it ridiculously easy to smear the color around. Something like that. Anyways. Seche Vite. Dries fast, solidifies your nail and makes them super shiny. You will never look back.


Clear Shampoo & Conditioner. I don’t color my hair. I’ve gotten highlights twice from a friend who is an expert [literally] colorist. They looked great, but not drastically different. And as a girl who barely gets her hair cut twice a year, keeping up with color is just not something for me. And our budget is thankful. Because of that, I tend to float towards the “salon” side of Ulta when I pick out a new shampoo. I used Moroccanoil Shampoo and Conditioner for a while, then felt too guilty to buy it again at ~$25/bottle. I tried the drugstore version [Organix] which was great at first, but after a while made my hair feel limp and look like it was still dirty right after I dried it. I went out last week with the expectation of spending way to much on something new, but couldn’t get over the budget guilt I was feeling looking at prices. I asked Siri for some shampoo reviews and repeatedly Clear popped up. Could be because they have been marketing like crazy lately, or because it is just that good. I went with it. Again, it’s only been a week but I am loving it. It smells amazing and leaves my hair feeling incredibly soft.


#SheReadsTruth. When I was growing up I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I had was that one day it would be easy to consistently wake up early and dedicate time to devotions. They were many times that the guilt of letting a day, two days, a week pass by without cracking open my Bible would prevent me from starting fresh. Counterintuitive, but it happened. And it happens to the best of us. No, I haven’t achieved a 365/day perfect morning attendance, I don’t know if I ever will. But perfect isn’t my goal. Prioritizing is. Keeping the [desire] to spend that precious time with my Savior is. She Reads Truth is a fantastic community of women who are striving for the same. I love the studies that they provide, they take a fresh look at many things and give you a refresher on things that you may have read a thousand times. If you are looking for a daily study, I highly recommend joining in!


If you have any little things that make you extra thankful, I’d love to hear them!

The Best is Yet to Come

On my own I’m only half of what I could be,
I can’t do without you.
We are stitched together, and what love has tethered
I pray we never undo.

In some ways I can’t believe it has only been a year, and in others I can’t remember what life was like before. I am the luckiest and most blessed woman in the world to be your wife.

Never could I doubt that we are meant for each other, why else was I so embarrassed when I walked into my first college class, frazzled and 10 minutes late, carrying every single book for every single class because I was a freshman who didn’t know any better, and heard your voice say “Hi Chelsie!”

You are the man of my dreams, the one my parents prayed for before I was born and the one I prayed for my whole life. I am so thankful that we chose to risk our friendship, a friendship that I will forever be thankful for because it is such a backbone to our relationship.

Thank you for your dedication, for how hard you work for us and for our future family. You are going to accomplish amazing things. I am so proud to call you my husband.

Thank you for being my partner in crime. You still make me laugh, I know sometimes you think you don’t, but I’m usually just hiding my smile. I should stop doing that. I am so thankful for a husband who will stop in the middle of a fight and crack jokes to make me smile because there is just nothing worth fighting about.

Thank you for loving God, then loving me. Thank you for leading me.

When I was growing up I always insisted that my wedding song would be something by Frank Sinatra or Michael Buble. When we were engaged I started going through their songs debating between the best one. Then randomly I heard a song, it wasn’t Frank or Michael, but it was the one, it was ours. Still every time I hear it I can’t help but tear up because the words still directly touch my heart. This is not just a relationship between you and I, this is a cord of three strands.

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you.

Happy 1st Anniversary my love, here is to so many more. 

Experiencing Detroit { Target Fireworks + DMT }

Playing catch up…

For the past 3 years we have been able to go down to the Renaissance Center for the Detroit Fireworks. Each year has been incredibly unique, year 1 we watched a mob break down all the fences around the river walk, year 2 they removed the fence but we saw 2 people be shot, finally, this year, they got it right. Almost every street downtown was blocked off, the river front area was closed and no one was allowed to enter unless they had a pass for one of the private parties. We were incredibly close to not making it to our party since we got on the freeway behind the trucks that were closing the freeway. Thankfully we ended up behind a congressman who was showing the same pass we had to one of the Detroit police officers, and after a little wait they also let us go through. We were all cheering, it was a miracle.

My favorite little man checking out the boats holding the fireworks.

Since we arrived downtown shortly after 6 and the fireworks didn’t launch until 10 we had a bit of a wait after dinner. Fortunately a great view and good friends make the time go by quickly.

Boom! The Target fireworks are always amazing. While you can head to Hart Plaza for a free evening, I recommend making this a nice evening out and splurging on tickets for one of the private viewing parties on the various rooftops, there are a lot of dangerous things that happen where the large crowds are and it can really destroy a great evening.


The week of the fireworks also held the annual Detroit Missions Trip for the youth group that both B and I volunteer for. This was an exhausting but amazing week where close to 200 high school students happily spent the hottest week of the summer doing service projects, mostly outside.

Each day two of the teams helped run a VBS, it was so great to see how well our students handled the mass chaos of more than a hundred elementary aged students in a building with zero air conditioning.

The best part of VBS was the field trip to a roller rink on our last day, I was having major Jr. High flash backs.

I wish I always fell with a smile on my face.

I had to take a picture of the clean gym because at no point during the week was I able to fully see the floor, this was where the guys slept and layered the floor with their clothing. The right side of the gym is where we ate, you can imagine how lovely the room smelled with the clothing of 100+ sweaty boy. Memories.

Happy to be exhausted.

This is only about a fourth of the total group, we are so blessed to serve every person in this room. We take Friday night and debrief from the week, DMT is one of my favorite weeks of the year, and that Friday night is my favorite night of the trip. It is incredible to hear how much the team has learned and how much they have grown during the week. In a world where many don’t think much of teenagers, these students live out 1 Timothy 4:12.

Matthew 25:35-40


This was a little different than the adventures I usually write about, but it is a week that brings such a bond with the people of the city, and to me that is a very important part of truly experiencing Detroit.

Happy Labor Day weekend!