Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We want to just wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! It's been quite an incredible year for us: 
  • Officially, we added two children to our family with Nora being born on June 5 and Sean being adopted on July 17
  • We published our first book on marriage and relationships in February: 99 Thoughts on Marriage and Ministry with Simply Youth Ministry
  • We moved in March to a bigger home to accommodate our growing family
  • Melissa published her first Novel at the end of the summer: The War Inside which has been getting rave reviews and one professional reviewer claimed it was "easily as good as The Hunger Games"
  • Jake helped design, launch and implement a new Student Leader training event for New England called Equip in early September with the help of Monadnock Bible Conference.
  • We joined the mini-van club ('s a mini-mini-van) buying a Mazda5 in October
  • Melissa signed her first book deal with Astrea Press for a novel tentatively titled Dreamcatchers that will come out sometime in 2014
  • We ran the second Youth Ministry and Marriage Retreat in Atlanta, GA in mid-November and had the amazing privilege of being hosted for FREE by WinShape Retreats, a retreat center of Chick-fil-A

And this is all on top of Jake's full time job as Youth Pastor at Grace Community Church, Sean's second year of life (he turns 2 on January 18th) and pregnancy/Nora enjoying her first 6-months of life. 

Just seeing this list makes us overjoyed at what God has done in our lives and families this past year. We are so thankful for all of the people who have blessed us and been through it all with us!

May you find many blessings for 2014 for you and your family!

Jake and Melissa

Friday, December 13, 2013

Every Minute Can Count

The taxing ministry schedule often makes finding quality “couple” time a chore.

Everyone else in the church needs a piece of your day, and when you get home you’re exhausted and spent. Then there are daily responsibilities, children, school and sports schedules to contend with, and needing individual alone time as well. Time for your marriage can get pushed to the back burner. So, it’s time to get creative!

We deal with the crazy demands of ministry as well, Melissa works part-time, and we have two kids under two — life is very full at the moment, and we’ve had to reorient our idea of quality time.

We’ve had to figure out creative ways to spend time together in the midst of all these other non-negotiable demands.

- See more at:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Just Do It!

Working and serving in a ministry setting can be a twenty-four-seven gig, yet many of us take little time off to rest and recharge. The idea of Sabbath is often brought up when speaking about time away, but the importance of this cannot be understated. God laid out a plan of weekly work and rest for us to follow.

And by doing so, we create health in our lives, ministries, and marriages. Rest ultimately yields the fruit of our labor to God by allowing circumstances in our daily lives to proceed without us for a time. This is crucial in understanding our limits and placing our complete trust in God’s faithfulness.

So, when it comes to planning and then taking time away, DO IT!

- See more at:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

6 Relational Tools

The idea of soul care often seems to have negative connotations attached to it, when really, every person and every marriage needs this kind of attention. Working on your marriage is a good thing, not a signal that something is seriously wrong.

We pastors can, at times, have a hard time admitting when things aren‘t going well and when our marriage is anything less than perfectly healthy. Many of us feel that we’re not supposed to share when things are hard or strained. We see this as a sign of weakness or failure, and we want to appear as if our personal lives fulfill the expectations laid out in 1 Timothy 3— to be above reproach, manage our families well, and have children who respect and obey us. The need to work on our marriages, through soul care or counseling, might mean other people will think we aren’t fit for ministry.

But this mind-set couldn’t be further from the truth!

- See more at:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Your Spouse Can Teach You About Ministry

There are many different ways that we youth workers can grow. We can pursue higher education, read the newest youth ministry books, mentor under a more seasoned youth worker, or attend training events and conferences, like the awesome one Simply has coming up in March. But as many of us seek to grow, we often forget a key person who can aid our maturity and development: our spouse.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Your Family vs. Your Boss

So there you are: You’re trying to balance youth ministry with marriage and family life. You’re striving toward healthy goals and implementing new changes so that both your job and family will benefit. It’s hard work, but you know it’s worth it.

And then in walks the senior pastor. He asks to have a little chat and your stomach drops. He’s concerned that you aren’t putting in enough hours at the office, he’s not happy that your family didn’t show up at the church spaghetti supper last weekend, and he thinks your youth group numbers might be lacking.

What do you do? You’re trying to maintain a healthy, balanced life, but your boss doesn’t see balance in the same way.

There isn’t a simple answer to this dilemma, and frankly, most youth pastors will encounter this problem at some point during their ministry. Church life is demanding, healthy boundaries can be sketchy and hard to define, and ministry to teens and their families can be never-ending. So here are some thoughts on navigating balance while striving to respect authority:

Keep reading at

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Honesty Time...Again

There is this tea called "Honest-Tea" and it's whole ploy/marketing genius is that the ingredients in the tea are simple and spelled right out for you. You look on the label and you understand what you're drinking.

That idea of being refreshingly honest is why Jake and I started this blog. We'd been through some tough stuff and we wanted to connect and share with others. And that went great. It started touching people, we got some articles published, started writing for magazines, and even a book deal. But then a funny thing happened - more tough stuff happened. Life got harder than I think both of us ever expected.

We've been through hell the past six years and we're on the other side. Here's the rub though, even as we've seen God's redemptive power in our lives in truly miraculous ways, six years of hell leave a mark. And it's been very difficult to talk about those marks that have been left. We don't have answers as to how to deal with them yet. We're still wrestling with them and so I, at least, have been taking breaks from blogging because I don't know what to share. "Hey, this week should have been great, we have two awesome kids, and love our work, and have a great house - but I'm really struggling with God and our marriage kinda sucks right now."

It's not easy to figure out.

This is the best way I can say it: It's a time of joy right now, but it's also a time of healing. And healing hurts. It's messy.

And this is where we are in our marriage. The past six years of infertility, miscarriage, foster care, a difficult pregnancy, birth and recovery, and now life with two kids under two - all of that has shaped our relationship, for good and for ill. We know how to be good friends. We know now how to support one another through tough stuff, and how to ask for help.

But we're also struggling with communication. Our sex life sucks - as you can imagine after infertility, doctors, fertility drugs, procedures, a hard pregnancy and birth. We sincerely have to go back to the basics when it comes to sex and try to know and connect on that level again, now that there's no baby pressure involved. We're both struggling with anxiety and letting go of that anxiety. We're trying to figure out life and our marriage when it's not a crazy "just get through each moment" season.

So now is wonderful, but it's also very hard. And I really felt like I wanted to be honest about that here, where we started. I never realized that a time of blessing can also be a time of experiencing pain - but it is. And while there are many things in our relationship that I can't figure out right now, I do know that we'll get through them. We have a God that is a great Healer and He's always been there for us. I re-listened to this song recently and it touched my heart. It is exactly us right now. "May our weary hearts be filled with hope."

- Melissa

"Church Bells" - Gungor

Let church bells ring
Let children sing
Even if they don’t know why let them sing
Why drown their joy
Stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours

May our jaded hearts be healed

Let old men dance
Lift up their hands
Even if they are naïve, let them dance
You’ve seen it all
You watch them fall
Wash off your face and dance

May our weary hearts be filled with hope

Friday, October 4, 2013

4 Tips to Win Every Fight

All couples fight.

They might do so in different ways and at different levels of intensity, but no matter what, fighting can bring out the worst in two people. Many couples, including us, get stuck having the same ones over and over, which is exhausting and discouraging. Fighting is a way for spouses to resolve conflict and attempt to connect.

In many ways, fighting is vital to the health of a marriage.
But when a fight becomes nasty, hurtful, degrading, and a desperate attempt to manipulate or “win,” it sinks into unhealthy territory and breaks down a marriage instead of building it up.

But it’s really hard to have a “good” fight! It feels so wonderful in the moment to give into hurt or anger, hit below the belt, and win the augment. Fights like this happen to even the best marriages. Yes, even for pastors and their spouses.

Though many ministry couples feel the need to present themselves as perfectly in accord, a sign of a healthy relationship is not the absence of conflict, but how a couple handles the conflicts that will inevitably arise.

Here are a handful of things that we know it takes to have a good fight (but honestly continue to struggle with ourselves):

- See more at:

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Technology Tornado

As the school year is in full swing now, and our schedules have filled with a million things to do, it can be really easy for technology to take over your time. Twitter, Facebook, email, Instagram, Vine, text messaging; all these things can suck you in so that work and ministry become a 24-7 gig. Technology is definitely not bad. And when it’s used in a healthy, balanced manner, it greatly enhances both ministry and life. But when you find yourself staring at an iPhone screen more than your spouse or family…something needs to change.

To read more, head to

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Finding Quality Time With Your Spouse?

Youth ministry workers usually have pretty funky schedules, and finding ways to have quality one-on-one time with your spouse, in the midst of an ever-fluctuating, always-demanding environment, can sometimes seem impossible.

But a healthy marriage can’t exist without making the time to connect relationally, emotionally, and physically. Without these basic connections, many marriages, and ministry marriages in particular, can really struggle.

So in the midst of a crazy, busy ministry life, how can you work on carving out time for your spouse?

Check out some ideas at:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Melissa's New Book: The War Inside

Hello wonderful blog readers. I have exciting news to share with you all. My first YA Paranormal-Dystopian novel, The War Inside: Book One in the Horizons Trilogy, has just been released! While I love writing about relationships and marriage, it has always been a dream of mine to create stories as well. I had such a blast writing this book, and I'm so happy to be able to share it with everyone! During last month's Read & Review, The War Inside at different points hit's Kindle Top 100 Bestsellers in both the "Dystopian" genre and "Metaphysical & Visionary Fantasy." Pretty fun stuff.

The book is now available in Kindle eBook format and in paperback on (For those of you who, like myself, love the smell and feel of actual paper.)

To buy a copy of the book check out the links below. I’d also love an honest review on or if you have the time. Please share these links! Tweet 'em....Blog 'em....Do whatever you want with 'em.

Kindle eBook - CLICK HERE

Paperback Book - CLICK HERE

To Check it Out on - CLICK HERE

I'm also pumped to share that The War Inside is going to be featured as part of the "My Crazy Corner 2013 YA Blogfest" . The book will appear on the September 30th slot, so make sure to check out the blog on that date. There will be tons of new YA books for readers to preview.

Also, from October 17, 2013 - October 25, 2013 Goddess Fish Promotions will be hosting a Virtual Book Tour for The War Inside. It will be featured on all kinds of awesome blogs and websites. If you have a blog, and would like to host a promotional spot, interview, or a review, you can sign up at Goddess Fish Promotions.

Thank you SO much wonderful blog readers for your support as I promote this novel and work on other books. I could not be any kind of writer without you. As a special thank you, I'm giving away two paperback copies of The War Inside, so enter below for your chance to win. Thanks for your readership and spread the word!!

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway to win one of two free paperbacks : CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dealing With Infertility

In a previous article, we mentioned that we’ve added two children to our family in the past two years. They are an incredible blessing from God and bring so much joy to our lives. But to get to this joyful place, we’ve had to travel a long, hard, painful road. For six years we dealt with infertility. It can be a very difficult thing to explain, when you’re 24 and can’t get pregnant.

Month after month we were disappointed. Year after year Melissa went to the doctors and underwent tests, shots, and procedures. We lost our very first pregnancy at eight weeks and it was devastating. After four years, we gave up on biological children and decided to foster-to-adopt. And that was a crazy-difficult experience as well—thankfully ending in July after the adoption of our 1½ year-old son. (We also had a baby girl in June, who is our miracle baby.)

To read more about what we've learned over the last few years dealing with infertility, click here:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Does Your Spouse Need to Serve?

Whatever you call it: volunteering, serving, a two-for-one, ministering, or just plain old helping out…the spouse of a youth pastor is often expected to jump into the ministry world with both feet. Sometimes this works well for a couple, and their marriage thrives in this type of environment. But there are also plenty of spouses who feel forced into youth ministry roles that don’t mesh with their personalities, talents, and/or spiritual gifts.

So does the spouse of a youth pastor have to serve in the youth group?

To find out our thoughts, check out:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Myth of Permanency

It goes without saying that this blog is slightly overdue. For those of you who are friends with Melissa or I directly on Facebook (don't blame you if you aren't!) you saw that two weeks ago our foster-to-adopt situation finally reached its conclusion when we officially welcomed Sean Dawson Kircher (no longer Voldemort) into our family one day before he turned 18-months old.

It is humbling to consider that literally a year-and-a-half ago from Sean's adoption, we were mourning not being able to have natural children, especially after a miscarriage and numerous attempts with fertility treatments over a four year period failed over and over again. We had been rejected three times for a foster child already and were honestly terrified about what we were getting into. Even after Sean was placed in our home at 7-days old back in January 2012, it was a massive roller coaster of emotions, with more lows than highs, as we dealt with a daily fear of someone taking him away from us. Honestly, we had a panic attack every time the phone rang and it was a number from Hartford, CT (the location of Sean's Department of Child and Family Services social worker).

Throughout it all: the stress, fights over nothing simply because of how tired we were, a rough and unexpected pregnancy (that we are obviously grateful for but that doesn't guarantee ease and comfort) and the overall uncertainty of life we sit here today truly blessed to have two beautiful children in our lives.

Since Sean's adoption, a word that keeps being thrown out to us is "permanent." Many people have observed how good it must be to finally have Sean as a permanent part of our family. And believe us, it is! However, as I reflect on what I have learned throughout this process it's that this element of permanency that we all desire in marriage, family, jobs, financial security or other aspects of life simply does not exist (not in earthly standards anyways...more on this in a moment). It's a myth right up there with the loch ness monster, big foot and Santa Claus.

We've had people mention to us, "Wow, I could never do what you guys did and live in the tension that a child could be taken away at any point." The truth of the matter though is that we all live in that tension everyday. Cancer, car accidents, shootings at elementary schools, heart attacks and other things can all strike at any moment for any of us. And it doesn't matter who you are: a good person or bad; adopted or naturally born into a family; black or white, male or female, etc. Even in the best case scenarios, permanency ends for all of our relationships when death rears its ugly head after a long, full life.

I have been finding myself thanking God more for the gift of life and for each day I get with my family; whether one more or thousands more. And the only reason I can be thankful in general is because of the hope that comes through Jesus as the only source of permanency in this life and the next. Every day for each of us is a gift from God and I know that even if God were to only grant me, Melissa or our kids just one more day, I can look forward to the eternity we will get to share together through Christ.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Surviving Youth Ministry With a Young Family

New piece went out yesterday for Simply Youth Ministry's SYM Today email:

"Over the past year and a half, we’ve added two children to our family. One is our adopted 18-month-old son and the other is our newborn daughter, just seven weeks old. It’s been a crazy adjustment, to say the least. We’re working each day to try and figure out life with two small children, plus an entire youth group. We know it takes balance and patience, but in all honesty it’s a struggle to make everything work. There are a lot of days we just want to run away! Here are four things we’re trying to focus on as we enjoy/survive youth ministry and a young family..."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Scheduling With Your Spouse in Mind

We're really excited about the chance to write regularly for Simply Youth Ministry's SYM Today email. Currently, we get to write pieces about Marriage, Family and Ministry every other week.

If you are interested on getting these daily youth ministry emails directly to your inbox, click here and you can either create an account (left side of the page) or just provide your email (right side of the page). 

Our first piece, went out on July 9th:

Youth ministry schedules can be hard on marriages and families. Not only are there a million youth events and programs to attend, but many youth pastors and their families are also expected to be involved in the everyday life of the church. Youth workers can easily find themselves far too busy and with spouses and children desperate for time and attention.

As with anything else in life, there's no magic fix or specific formula for working out a healthy youth ministry schedule. But here are some general ideas to keep in mind when dealing with your ministry calendar.

To keep reading, click here:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Communication Fail

I think this might be our shortest blog post ever because well....there are just no words.

Yep, this about sums up the level of our marital communication today! (And it's staying this way because I refuse to go to adoption court with a bald husband. And no, it was not on purpose.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Friendship & Marriage

I used to expect way too much from my friendships, both as a single person and after I got married. There were some wounded places from my family history that I expected my friends to heal and fulfill. After I did some work with a counselor, my husband, and God, I realized something pretty important:

My friends need to be who they are and I need to be who I am.

This is especially true in friendships with other couples and in the transition some of us have begun to make into parenthood. Jake and I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends over the years and we realize that each and every couple (and individual within that couple) is different. They have different lifestyles, jobs, personalities, finances, living situations, ministry demands, childcare responsibilities, and spiritual lives. Just as Jake and I have have our own unique life together and way of living it.

A good deal of the idealistic views we had about friendship and community back when our marriage was new have honestly turned out to be total crap! We have learned a valuable lesson; to treasure each moment with our friends whether it be the ones we can call last minute to come over for dinner, the ones that we might see every month or two at most, or the ones we Skype with every so often because we live far apart.

Friendships should be mutually enriching, giving, understanding and pressure free. Yes, both parties need to make effort, but Jake and I have learned to understand that life is a constant state of flux and in order to simply enjoy our friends, we all need to relax and accept where we each are in life.

And sometimes we see our friends separately. I will Skype or get coffee with my girlfriends all alone (it's glorious!) and then Jake will go off with his guys to play Xbox or have a phone chat (although men don't chat I suppose...they would do something more manly like "discuss" or "check in man". Hey man, I'm just checkin' in on ya.)

We are so freaking grateful to have amazing friends. And we know how important it is to enjoy each and every one of them!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Three-Legged Race

A friend of mine this past week referred to marriage as a three-legged race and that image has really stuck with me. I'm sure this illustration has been used a million times but for whatever reason it hasn't crossed my mind before. It's so true! You have two people, trying to walk in step with one another and at times it is just down right difficult. Here are a couple thoughts running through my head about the three-legged race that is marriage:

1) Practice, practice, practice!

The winners at the annual three-legged race at family reunions every year are the ones who take the time to talk strategy before diving into the race. They make sure they are on the same page and know what leg to lead with. They also take time to walk around a bit before heading to the starting line. And isn't it also true that the ones who tend to win are the ones who are partners year after year?

If you are dating or engaged, take the time to really dig into conversations about what your marriage will be like. Read books, do pre-marital counseling, do pre-pre-marital counseling. Go on a retreat or take a class at your church together. The more you can do to get on the same page before hand, the better.

However, those of you who are married, know that no amount of preparation will completely eliminate any conflicts. Once you're married, you have to take the time to keep talking and evaluating where things are at. Be quick to see counselors or ask for help when you realize your moving at different tempos. Continue to read books, go to workshops and find ways to challenge your marriage.

2) The most telling thing is how you help each other up, not how fast you go.

I think it says more about a persons character when you observe how they handle failure and I believe the same is true for a marriage. Rather than working to hide all your struggles and failures be open and transparent about them instead. First off, be honest with yourselves as it's the moments where one of you is dragging the other along that actually teach us the most about ourselves and our spouse. But second, be honest with others because your failures will help others avoid your same mistakes.

3) Expect to fall out of step at some point.

It's a fantastic feeling when you and your spouse are in perfect lock and step and you've gone from a walk to a break out run together. Enjoy those seasons of your marriage but don't surprised when someone takes a misstep and you've got to slow down or stop all together to get on the same page before continuing forward.

First, don't take it out on your spouse if they are the ones to slow things down. I, like many men, hate it when Melissa wants to talk about our relationship. It annoys me because I typically feel like things are fine and I want to just keep running. However, it's so important to be loving in those moments and take the time for the conversation. I have learned that when I do that, we end up running even better or faster after the pause then if we had just kept going.

Second, understand that the consequence of not being willing to stop or slow down will be falling down instead of just a misstep and at times injuries. Don't ignore issues for the sake of appearances or comfort because it will only make things worse. We watched this happen in our first year of marriage. We ignored early signs and just tried to keep on pushing through them when we really needed to stop and ask for help. More and more hurtful things would be said during fights and eventually we got kicked out of our apartment because our fights were so loud. With both of us flat on our faces and fighting about how to get back up, we needed a counselor to work with us, slowly stand us back up and then help us talk through how to start moving forward together.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Have A Marriage Vs. Write About A Marriage

First, we'd like to announce something very special. Something that took six years of infertility, loads of prayer, being blessed with her big brother through foster care and now through adoption, and finally arrived as a total miracle after giving up on biological children...

Miss Nora Eve Kircher arrived June 5, 2013 at 1:35 in the afternoon and weighed 6lb 12oz. She is sleeping and eating like a champ and her big brother (who is now only weeks away from being legally ours!!) loves to give her kisses and hugs. Thanks for all your prayers and support through our less-than-normal family building process. God is good! He frustrates the living crap outta me with his timing, but he is good and in the end I usually agree that his plans were best...usually.

So now that there is a newborn in the house as well as an incredibly active sixteen-month-old, life is a wee bit insane! And on top of that Jake and I keep being offered great writing opportunities.

I'm not gonna lie, we usually fight about them. :) Jake would like to say yes to every single one, while I lean towards saying no to quite a few. I have a low craziness threshold and tend to shall we say "lose my shit" when things get too piled up. We had a minor tiff the other day regarding a writing gig and I had my own little epiphany.

I realized that it is totally impossible to write about marriage unless you take the time to have one.

You can be passionate about something, in our case letting other couples know that they're not alone in struggling through the ups and downs of marriage, but not make time for it. So, as Jake and I figure out what life looks like with two kids under 2, full-time ministry work, my fiction writing, our marriage blog, magazine writing, and other awesome opportunities...we will need to be extra careful to carve out time for ourselves. There's nothing to be gained by letting our relationship slide for the sake of busyness...not even for kiddos. Our marriage needs to come first! We're working on it...and will continue to let you know how it goes along the way!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Makes a Great Marriage?

There are things that have been swirling in my head for quite some time now. Things that I have been too muddled about to share with anyone other than Jake and couple of trusted friends.

To say that the last couple years have been challenging is an understatement. They have been excruciating at times, full of wonder and joy in others, and a great spectrum of gray in between. The wonderful moments fit in with all our conventional ideas of a "great marriage."

But what about all of our excruciating moments? There have been so many days, weeks, and even months in our marriage over the last couple of years that simply do not fit into the traditional understanding of "great" or "good" or even "kinda ok."And as we've experienced difficult life circumstances such as the loss of a pregnancy, IVF, foster care, adoption, unexpected natural pregnancy, moving, job issues and so forth I have been wondering......

What really constitutes a good marriage?

I mean there are like a million books, blogs, and resources out there that tell me what a good marriage should look like. (Heck, including our own book and blog and articles.) And more often than not, my marriage does not meet those standards. And all around me I see marriages that are just like mine. Marriages that don't fit into the good category that has been created, but that are slogging through because we believe that loving one another, keeping a commitment, honoring God, and spending life together counts very much.  

If you notice, I have not written much on the blog in the past year. I've honestly been struggling with what to say. When you're constantly pondering, "I think we might all be getting this marriage thing wrong," but yet you don't have any answers to what will make it right, it's easier just to stay silent. Totally admit, my bad.

I believe in marriage. And I believe in order for it to stay healthy and strong in this day and age, it's time for things to change. For us to go about it in a new way and to understand relationships in a new way. But I don't know how. For example, I just read Tim Keller's book, The Meaning of Marriage. The whole thing was fantastic, spot on, so true. And yet...I wanted more. I wanted new ways to say the truths about marriage found in the Bible. I wanted to cut the Christan-ese. I wanted a different perspective on how to live out some of this stuff on a day-to-day basis. I wanted fresh insights into 21st century relationships.

Because sticking together is hard and it's not working for a lot of people and I don't have any tried and true answers for how to make staying easier. Jake and I will continue to share what we learn as we go along. But we're figuring out how to stick it out in our own unique marriage every day. 

So, deep breath, that is what I would like to say. I believe it's time for a massive cultural shift in the way that we think about, talk about, understand, and practice marriage. I have some inklings of what this might mean, but overall I'm as clueless as everyone else. I look forward to the future and hope that people start talking about marriage in new and groundbreaking ways. Because I'm eager to hear what we all have to discuss.

What do you think? Does marriage need an overhaul? If so, what do you think needs to be talked about in different ways?


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ready For Love?

Okay so I like reality TV. Not the Snooki variety, I mean you have to draw the line somewhere. But the Kardashians...yeah I'll watch 'em. Most things on E!, cupcake wars, you get the picture.

And right now there's not a whole lot to do at night after the kiddo goes to bed. I'm 8+ months pregnant, feeling every inch of that and let's just be honest, there is literally no sex happening in the Kircher household right now with this bowling ball of a belly. So I started watching "Ready For Love" to while away the evening hours.

I have to say the whole matchmaker slant is intriguing. The Bachelor franchise hasn't done much for me. It's shallow, nobody lasts, seems more like a ridiculous cat fight then anything else. But this show's advertising promised to be different. They wanted to find three matches that would end in real love and forever marriages.

Even possible on TV? Skeptical and bored and ready to be entertained I plopped myself down.

The first two episodes were interesting. I even found myself listening to the matchmaker's advice (there are three of them) and wondering how that would have applied to my dating relationship with Jake when we first started going out.

I asked Jake, "Ok, so the dude matchmaker says that you need to let a man feel like a man. Give him those moments and don't take them away. Like if he offers you his coat or to take care of something, let him do it. Don't shrug off the coat because you don't want him to be cold or fix the thing yourself. Let him have a man moment. Is this true?"

Jake affirmed yes, this is true. Putting aside all the gray areas that go along with gender stereotypes, sometimes men just need to feel like manly, I guess. Shoot...learn something new every day!

Then one of the lady matchmakers talked about not letting an insecurity show through on a date, because then that's all a guy will think about and associate you with. Jake and I had a nice discussion about this. If the show's whole deal is getting these three guys to the alter, shouldn't insecurities and flaws definitely be part of the mix? We ended up agreeing that her advice was total crap. In order to have any kind of real connection you have to show your flaws and insecurities. The hard part is competing with other people for someone's attention/affection. Then you want to put your best foot forward. But at what cost to a real, deeper relationship down the road? This whole scenario is of course not quite totally how it goes in the real world.

As the show has continued (yes, still watching) I'm liking it less and less. Which is disappointing b/c I'm obviously not hard to please in the TV department, but also having this matchmaker element could have been super interesting. Made for real discussion about marriage and what it takes to get there. Could have been really cool. But of course TVland has to stick all the potential matches in a house together. Which creates drama. And good TV. It's becoming less about marriage and more about winning and something that had promise is falling flat, yet again.

I think this whole idea of matchmaking is so interesting though. It's apparently something that many, many, many people do now in addition to meeting people online and going through dating agencies. The whole dating world is changing and it's good to have dialogue about what's necessary for a connection in terms of leading to marriage. Heck Jake and I just dated. We just sorta did it without thinking right away about marriage and all this serious stuff. But now people are getting married so much later in life, there's this shift and pressure to get to the point right away. Which is why I can totally  get going to a matchmaker.

Are any of these people truly ready for love? Who knows! I'm slightly hooked at this point and it makes good talks for Jake and I. I'm kinda doubting we'll be seeing any lasting matches out of this, but you never know!


Friday, April 26, 2013

One Couple. Two Callings. What Now?

We'ze on the covah yo! May/June print issue. Also available online.

Melissa says, "I really like myself with brown hair and actually visible eyebrows. Glad they didn't put a blond on there because then people would think I was all perfect and Christian and stuff. (IfyaknowwhatImean....)"

If you have a digital or hard copy subscription to Relevant Magazine, be sure to check out the article. It's about calling and how to work different callings out within a marriage or relationship.

You can read the full article (plus four others from the magazine) online if you register an account or get unlimited access for a small fee.

Also a big thanks to everyone who bought a copy of our book during the one day sale! We appreciate the support and hope the book helps in whatever way it's meant to for you and your marriage. The publisher sold 300 copies in just one day! Muchos Gracias!

Interview With Tim & Olive!

The lovely Tim & Olive of  "Tim & Olive - Thoughtful Marriage, Parenting and Life" asked to interview us for their blog. I have to say, being on the other side of interviewing was really fun!

You can check it out here:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

GUEST BLOG: The Importance of Honesty

Seth Fargher is a writer and speaker with a passion for seeing people experience life to its fullest. You can find out more about Seth here:

Honesty in relationships is crucial. Without honesty there is very little trust and when trust is an issue, relationships have little chance of success. Still, honesty can also hurt. When someone tells you they are no long interested in dating you, it stings. What they’re saying is that for some reason or another, they are no longer interested enough in you to be committed to you alone.

Honesty can also hurt long before a relationship reaches that “official” stage. Every day, on college campuses, in singles groups and in bars, clubs and restaurants around the world, people are going on first dates. For some it’s a legitimate date, for others it’s merely a casual get together for two people to learn more about each other.

Very often, one person is interested in getting together again, and the other person not so much. What is the “not so much” person to do? Tell them “Thanks, maybe I’ll see you around” and hope that they get the hint? I’ve never actually witnessed that tactic work.

But what happens if they’re honest and tell the person “Hey thanks, I had a nice time but I’m probably not interested in spending time one on one again?”

In most cases they would be crucified. I was. A couple instances in college come to mind where I met someone and while I thought it’d be nice to get to know more than their first and last name, I offered no such indication of commitment and was later told I had repeatedly lead them to believe I was interested in a relationship.

When I cleared that up I was hung out to dry. I had a young lady tell me I was a jerk for leading her friend to believe I was interested in a relationship when clearly I wasn’t. I found that remarkable since we spent one evening chatting at my house. That was it.

In the event someone “goes out” with another individual once, twice or even a handful of times, and then decides this person really isn’t what they’re looking, should they not simply be up front and honest? Isn’t honesty a quality we are all looking for in a person?

Unfortunately we’ve reached a point in the dating world, yes even in the church, where we have to tip toe around or make up excuses if we become un-interested with pursuing a relationship further so as to avoid stepping on toes. Sure it hurts to have someone say they aren’t interested in you. Even more so if you’ve really come to like that person. But would it not hurt even more if they were to put up a façade and allow you to become even more attached only to break the news to you later?

If honesty is something we all seek in relationships then we should all accept and encourage honesty from the get go should we not? Even if it stings a little bit because someone isn’t as interested in us as we are in them, at least they were honest and didn’t lead us on.

A great way to combat this, especially in the early stages of getting to know someone is to have few expectations. I realize this is difficult, especially if you’ve been single for a while. A kind person can be such a breath of fresh air. But try to view the situation for what it is, someone expressing their casual, intention of getting to know you a little bit.

They’re not proposing marriage. They’re not asking you for a commitment. They just want to spend some time with you to get to know more than your first and last name.

Yes many guys need a kick in the pants even to get them to this point but I can’t help but argue that many of them may just be afraid of the potential fall out. I know I reached a point where I wouldn’t ask a girl out because I didn’t want to deal with the headache that would follow if after a few dates she was still interested and I wasn’t.

When it comes to dating, we all need to learn to be ladies and gentleman. As a gentleman that involves being forward enough to ask a girl out and, after a while, express your intentions. You don’t have to spill your guts on the first date but chances are she’s been wondering, and probably conferring with her roommates, about that since the first time you met. The best way to keep a girl from assuming you’re more interested than you are is to be honest with her from the get go.

Gals that also means that you need to be respectful of a guy that’s trying to be honest and not hurt you. Don’t belittle him for trying to be open and share his intentions. People blow the whole defining the relationship thing up like it’s a bad thing when in reality, it’s just communication. Even if he’s not as interested in you as you are in him, at least he’s not putting up a front. Also, don’t pressure him into making a decision or committing if you’ve only hung out a few times. I can promise you nothing will drive him away faster.

Open communication and honesty from both parties is the best way to combat hurt feelings. Dating involves vulnerability and the potential for getting your feelings hurt. You can’t ask someone else to throw their feelings out their if you’re not willing to do the same and assume a little risk yourself.

Relationships are tricky and most people are running around with some level of relationship baggage. Not all of it’s bad but it’s usually something they’d rather not replicate. No matter what “stage” of a relationship you find yourself in, take care to be honest with the other person and communicate where you’re at and what you want out of your interactions, be it just a friendship or something more long term. And be careful about over reacting if someone decides they’re just not that into you. It’s not going to kill you and if you blow up or bad mouth them just for being honest, it will only reinforce in
their mind that they made the right decision.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What We Wish We Knew About Sex Before We Were Married

When it comes to Christians and newlywed sex, there are usually two extremes.

For some couples, they head toward the altar with the expectation that they will find themselves soon lost in ecstasy and passion—a reward from God for staying pure until marriage. For others, the idea of sex carries a lot of anxiety and fear—as he or she tries to figure out what messages of sex are “real” between the portrayal we see in culture, the Church’s teaching, and one’s future spouse’s expectations. To add to this, the reality is that 80 percent of unmarried Christians ages 18 to 29 have already had—or are having—sex, as reports indicate.

As with most extremes, there is some truth to these for some couples. However, the majority tend to find themselves somewhere in the middle.

This was the case for us personally as our first few times were a little awkward. Three days into our honeymoon we found ourselves in Barnes and Noble trying to find a book to help us figure things out in the bedroom. We’d read a number of Christian books about sex prior to getting married, and they were very helpful in terms of the theological and relational aspect of sex, but not so helpful on the supremely practical “how to” aspect—and more specifically, how to do it well and mutually enjoy it.

Our honeymoon was eight years ago now, and you might say we’ve learned a lot since then. But looking back to the very beginning, here are four things we think every couple should known before their wedding night:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Four Seasons of Marriage

So I've been doing a lot of learning this past year. Learning for me means failing and then going, "Oh yeah, that's how I could have handled this better!"

The main thing that I feel like God is teaching me is that circumstances should not dictate my feelings and attitudes. I am the kind of person who prays fervently for something, begging and whining and down on my knees until God either gives it to me or I just give up. But the thing is that as soon as I get a favorable outcome, as soon as my prayers are answered,  I find another thing to worry about.

Circumstances change and I'm back to being unhappy about the next thing that I beg God for. "God if  only you will do this, then I will be happy. Then I will feel safe. Then I can trust you."

A mature person is someone who realizes that no matter the ebb and flow of the circumstances in life, that emotions and security should be anchored in God. Despite good things or bad things happening to me, I am safe with Jesus.

I'll just say it right now, I am not a mature person yet. I am still learning (failing) this particular lesson daily.

What does this have to do with marriage?


Jake downloaded a marriage book onto our Kindle cloud, or whatever you call it. And I was bored. So I tapped open the book and started reading. It's called, The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman. He's the very smart dude who wrote the incredibly popular, "The Five Love Languages."

This new book is not groundbreaking, to be honest. I find much of it redundant, though there are parts with very sound advice.

What really got me though was the quiz.

Every good marriage book has to have a quiz right? It sure seems that way.

Normally I don't take quizzes, I sorta think they're lame. But I took this one because I was curious to see where Chapman's evaluation process would place my marriage. My marriage that has been dealing with the insane stress of foster care for 14 months, with infertility for 6 years, with moving recently, with getting pregnant unexpectedly and then realizing we'll have a 16 month old and a newborn and what that means for both my time to work and be an adult and our time together as a couple.

Would we be in the fall season with its pulling away, its doubts and fears about making it as a couple?

Would we be in the winter season with its cold atmosphere and distance? (This was my guess after a difficult pregnancy and more than just a little dry spell sexually. When you're sick for five months it tends to kill any kind of "mood"!)

I thought perhaps maybe spring because we do have a baby to look forward to. But I doubted it. All the spring case studies sounded so in love and hopeful for the future. We've been kinda like, "Oh sweet goodness, life is going to be hellishy crazy until they're both in school!"

You will then perhaps understand why I was floored when the quiz results were undeniably "Summer".

Summer. A time when couples feel connected, when they are safe and secure in their relationship, when their communication is flowing, when their marriage feels strong. It is a time of true teamwork, bonding, and joy.

I was like, "What the what?!" We have been going through some of the most stressful circumstances in our lives. Circumstances that seem like they can't get any more stressful...and then they do. And both of us have been reeling to keep up.

And yet when I answered questions about my marriage, I answered that yes I feel connected, satisfied  peaceful, committed, secure, trusting, attached, and comfortable.

If Mr. Gary Chapman is correct, then it is true. Circumstances really don't need to dictate everything. Circumstances can be good and you can be in a healthy marriage spot. Circumstances can be bad and you can be in a healthy marriage spot.

Yes, I knew this. But I didn't fully grasp it until that moment where I read "you're in the summer of your marriage." And I tell you what, it's been making me feel pretty darn good ever since. Because I realized it was the truth. Oh, we've been complete beasts to each other the past 2 months. Moving brings out the worst in both of us. But overall, I'm really impressed that we've been talking through things. We've been having fights and resolving issues. We've been supportive of each other (it's messy and takes time, but we do get there). We've been coming together in our own unique ways about the stressful things.  (Yes we might yell a bit and storm around first....but we then seem to be able to calm and connect again. Jake more than me, I've got a lot of hormones right now people!)

Not saying all this to toot any kind of horn. Because in reality I have been doing much soul searching about what a "good marriage" looks like. And ours didn't seem part of the picture. I'm deeply questioning the wealth of marriage advice out there. I'm rethinking what it all means.

I'm saying this because perhaps it's a concept that needs to be included in a new way to look at marriage. That being in a good place doesn't mean life is going according to plan, that things could be seriously out of whack. In fact, your marriage could seem like it's pretty messy. But that messy could mean you're working through problems, you're acting like a team, you're communicating, you're wrestling with stuff together...all of which produces trust, security, and peace about the relationship.

Just like circumstances shouldn't alter my love, trust, faith, and feelings about God....circumstances shouldn't alter my marriage.

Hmmmmmm. I'm gonna be pondering this for a while!


Friday, February 8, 2013

What You Need to Know If You Ever Want to Get Married

The only things that happen more than marriage within our culture is birth and death. With how much marriage happens and the the very high likelihood that a person will some day be married, why do we spend so little time talking about it and preparing for it. Typically, we have a handful of pre-marital counseling sessions about six months before we tie the knot. This just isn't enough! We need to be proactively understanding what marriage is and what it takes to really have a healthy marriage till death do you part.
  1. At it's root, the Bible suggests that marriage is a complete change to your entire identity. In Scripture, people went from being called a "man," "woman", "lord," etc. to being then called a husband and a wife. When two people got married, they weren't a guy and a girl anymore, but instead were a spouse that came along with responsibilities and expectations of a life long commitment to one another. The key to any marriage is learning how to be completely selfless.
  2. Marriage is intended to be 100% commitment from the get go! In Bible times, when a couple would get engaged there was no turning back. The husband would go off to build an extension onto his family's home. There wasn't compatibility tests and pre-marital counseling and test runs. It's was point blank an all in commitment.
  3. The "trial run" misses the point. Today, many couples decide to cohabitate before taking the plunge into mariage. They want to give everything a try before really committing to one another. They want to make sure they are sexually compatible before they are stuck in a life long "commitment" to bad sex. The problem with this though is the fact that no matter what relationship you get into you WILL find tension, problems, fights, etc. Guaranteed! To "practice" marriage by living together first completely ignores the whole point of marriage and the attitude of doing whatever it takes to selflessly love and give to one another.
  4. In the Bible, sex = marriage! In his book called The Blue Parakeet, Scot McKnight observes, "There is no such thing as ‘premarital’ intercourse in the Bible. Intercourse… constitutes the sexual union that we call marriage." (see Exodus 22:16 & Deuteronomy 22:28-29) Sex is designed to bond us together, to make two become one flesh, and the more physical we are in a relationship the more we emotionally and neurological completely bond us to the other person. There is a reason why Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 says not to deny your spouse sex other than a time of prayer. He understands the amazing and powerful bond that sex has for a marriage and relationship.
  5. Marriage is the closest representation we have this side of heaven of what God wants with each one of us. This becomes very evident in the book of Hosea. It's a weird book for's not every day God tells a someone to go and marry a prostitute. But God does and uses it as a representation of how God treats all of us. That no matter how bad we are to Him, no matter how off course we are, no matter how adulterous we are; God will always love us! 
Jake and Melissa

If you want to check out the video or audio version of this info, click the links below:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Does a Healthy Dating Relationship Look Like?

How can you tell if your current dating relationship is a healthy one? Or, if you are thinking about dating, what should you aim for within a relationship? Here are five thoughts about the factors that make a healthy dating relationship:

  1. We are all wonderful creations of God! When Jake dated a girl in high school, the first time he picked her up for a date he was met by her father who had a machette in his hands. He said he was weed whacking out back with it but we all know he wasn't. The foundation of any healthy dating relationship needs to be the idea that we are all created in God's image and looked at as His sons and daughters. Therefore, we should be honored, respected and treated in a way that lives this fact out.

  2. We need to learn how to be completely selfless... We need to learn how to put another person before ourselves and to consider their needs more than our own. We recently wrote on this issue here.

    ...however this doesn't mean we let people walk all over us. A healthy relationship learns give and take. A completely unbalanced relationship tat is all about just one person is not healthy. It is not selfish to express needs and expectations within your own relationship.

  3. De-emphasize the physical stuff. Our bodies are hard wired neurologically and physiologically to progress through a pattern of deeper and deeper connection. Our physical connection is supposed to be the deepest and most intimate. Our culture however likes to put this first and doing so can actually damage our ability to connect in the most healthy way.

  4. Keep faith first. We both have wondered over and over again how anyone makes it in a relationship with Christ in their lives. Points one and two are almost near impossible without Him in your life. Prayer and connection on a spiritual level helps keep your relationship pointed in the right direction.

  5. Remember the holymess... Relationships take work and obviously that's the underlying theme of our entire blog. Just because there is a fight, disagreement or difficult season in your relationship doesn't mean you should end it right away. As we say all the time, it's the messy and difficult things in our lives that actually lead us to holiness.

    ...however, sometimes breaking up is the most healthy thing to do. Part of the point of dating is to assess how much work a relationship would be to maintain and then making the decision about whether you are up for it or not. Ending a relationship just because it's hard is not a good reason but abuse, lives going in two different directions, a different set of morals or other things are good reasons to end a relationship.
Jake and Melissa

If you want to check out the video or audio version of this info, click the links below:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Life Update


I'd just like to share some bits of great news with all our wonderful readers. Firstly, we are happy to say that after an intense, emotional year of waiting, a judge finally decided to terminate the parental rights of our foster son's birth-parents. This sounds harsh, but it is the best decision for our son. And we are beyond thrilled. We wait another three weeks for the appeal period to be over and then we can move into the adoption process. Our little guy turned one this week and had his first ice cream and enjoyed smashing a cake. He's walking now and says, "Raaaarrrrr!" when we ask, "What does a dinosaur say?" His smile lights up the room and we are so blessed to have him in our life. We can't wait for the day when we can legally call him our son.

Secondly, I (Melissa of course, it would be weird if it was Jake) am currently 20 weeks pregnant! It was a definite surprise after years of failed fertility treatments. We had actually decided to try 2 rounds of IVF this summer. A decision that was not made lightly. We made the choice not to discard any embryos, but it turned out that part of our fertility problems was embryo quality. Meaning the embryos would stop growing and not develop into a baby. Hence the miscarriage I had before. So we did have enough to try the two times, but both times failed and we hung up the towel on biological children. The doctors said that we could probably get pregnant if we kept doing round after round of IVF, but that it wasn't likely to happen naturally. And so we decided to be fully done with fertility stuff and if we ever wanted child # 2, we'd just trust we could adopt again somehow (having faith at this point that our foster son would be adopted).

So I went back to running, got off all the crazy meds, enjoyed my wine and beer again and wham! One month later, a pregnancy test came back positive. I actually put off taking the test for a couple days. I was like, "No Melissa! We are not going through this again! It's not happening, you let it go, so go have a glass of wine with dinner and forget about it." But I kept having this nagging feeling. And sure enough...a couple weeks later we heard a heartbeat! It was the weirdest moment. Right up there with walking into a hospital a year ago and leaving with a beautiful black baby, hoping no one would think I'd stolen him :)

So far baby Kircher is developing well. However, as joyful as this is, the pregnancy has been far from easy for me. I like to say, "There was a darn good reason it took six years to work!" I have been sick the entire time (all day morning sickness, virus, sinus infection, UTI, food poisoning..etc.) and I swear this kid is going to come out with ten heads after all the medication I've been on. I've been in a lot of pain as well. So we'd love prayers that my body would toughen up a bit and the rest of the pregnancy would go much smoother. But we ARE excited AND freaking out about having two little ones under two by June. How fast and crazy life changes after years of waiting!

Needless to say life is flipping nuts. I'm sick all the time, the kiddo is running around now and getting into everything, Jake's working full time and I'm trying to write part-time. Oh and we have our first marriage book coming out this February (Published by Group Publishing, more info to come). AND I'm turning 30 next month. Oh the humanity!

I think Jake and I are both learning a fair bit of "letting go." Ha! So much letting go has been happening over the past year I feel like it'd be really nice for God to be like, "Alright, now here have some control over this." Not to be of course. God has His plans. I have mine. Sometimes they're the same, sometimes not. What are you gonna do?

We've also been learning to laugh. Maybe me more than Jake. I have a hard time taking it easy. But a 1-year-old has now put me in my place. He is constantly doing things that make Jake and I look at each other and die laughing. The other night we gave him a plain old pancake and the kid acted like he was high as a kite! Laughing and giggling and eating and going, "Mmmmmm" and laughing hysterically some more. Grinning from ear to ear while bits of pancake spilled out of his mouth. We couldn't help but crack up.

Is marriage changing? Yes. But do I feel like we're caving into the American tendency to center everything around kids, despite the pressures and time drain that foster care has created? No.
For example, my 30th birthday present isn't a big party like I always envisioned, because now all I want is a date with my husband. Just time for us. And we went away before Christmas, just the two of us, for an entire week. And despite the fact that I was crazy sick the whole felt normal. Fluid. Like back before there was a cute being screaming at us to change his poopy diaper. We make family time now. But we also try to make time for each other.

Check back in when it's June though! You never know how two kids will change things. I might just have my head in the clouds. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!! Until then, I'm going to try not let pregnancy destroy what remains of my sanity and body and we're just going to keep going with the flow and be grateful for all the good things that 2013 will bring.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Four Questions to Ask About Dating BEFORE You Do It

When it comes to dating, there are SO MANY different opinions out there about it. Why should we date? What's the purpose? How old should we be to start dating? The questions go on and on...and you get different answers depending on who you ask them.

In January, as Jake kicks off the New Year with the students in our church, he launched a series on Dating, Marriage and Sex! It's one of his favorites to go through with students. However, students aren't the only ones asking the questions above. Young adults, and even those are older, are asking them as well.

As he goes through the series, we thought we would post the sermons on our site for your benefit as well. Even though the audience is middle school and high school students, the talks easily apply to those who are older. Honestly, some of Jake's leaders and some other adults who hang with the students from time to time really got a lot out of it.

So, talk number one begins the conversation about dating: what can we learn from the Bible about dating and how do we know if we should get involved in a relationship or not? Our opinion is that it's not about a certain maturity, a certain age or a specific life stage. Instead, it's about learning to be wise about our relationships and asking four different questions BEFORE you get involved.

In case you don't want to listen to the whole sermon, here is the quick synopsis:

1. Have you both talked to God? When we look to God for guidance and confirmation, He will provide it given time and patience. Prayer is a powerful thing and asking God to guide you both as you consider dating, will most likely help both people to be on the same page about moving forward into a relationship or not.

2. Have you talked to yourself? This question has to do with understanding why you want to be in a relationship. If you’re not looking to serve and give to the other person, it may be a good idea to wait on dating. Love requires sacrifice and unselfishness. It’s ok to feel like you might not be able to give to anyone right now. It’s also ok to feel like you’re mature and ready. Either way, take some time and self-reflect before dating someone.

3. Have you talked to others? God has put friends, parents, and others in our lives to provide insight and wisdom. If you are thinking about a romantic relationship, talk to a friend, a trusted adult or your parents for advice. All these people will have your best interest at heart. They might see a positive or negative about your potential relationship that you don’t. Having the blessing and support of those closest to you will help your relationship be strong.

4. Have you talked to him/her? Maybe that sounds a little obvious, but it’s important. If you aren’t both on the same page about what you’re both looking for, there will be hurt feelings and issues to work through pretty quickly.

We'd LOVE to hear any comments, disagreements or ideas of your own after listening! Just post them below.

Jake and Melissa

Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.