Monday, July 1, 2013

One of the best nights of my life...

Friday was one of the better days I had in my life and so, I thought to myself, if I had one of the better days in my entire life…maybe I should blog about it.  And so I shall, so I can remember it forever.

For a long time (30 months) we knew that July 1st 2013 would be the day our family would be out of debt!  Some of you might have read my, ‘Seven Quick Takes’ from Friday, written by the ol’ husband to explain the joy we were feeling.  Because we knew the day was going to be awesome, Big A had taken the day off of work.  As the morning finally came, we were both so excited, we both got up early. And our day o’ fun was on!  Only, the husband, who had promised to take the day off, instead ended up working the entire morning.  Needless to say, I was beyond bummed (but still understanding).  He told me he had one mandatory meeting he HAD to go to that would last from 1:00-2:30 pm, but then he’d be free for a wonderful day o’ celebration. I mustered all the patience I had, and chose to feel sorry for him rather than myself, and sucked it up…

…until he sent me a text message saying he wouldn’t home till 3:45 pm at the earliest.  At that point, I was 
NOT pleased.  At all.  When he finally came in at 3:50 pm, I wasn’t angry, but I was really sad.  Not gonna lie, this brat tear’d up a bit, ‘today was supposed to be exceptional dear, and instead, it’s been kind of lame’.  He promised to make it up to me for the rest of the day and we made our plans.  We decided to go to Jungle Java (a local indoor play gym for kids) followed by Bob Evans.  It’s funny, but Bob Evans has become our ‘go-to’ celebration place, as I said on facebook, it’s because we like to ‘keep it classy’. 
The Aarons at Bob Evans
I have to say, one of my favorite things in the world is watching my husband play with his children, so I was def. in my happy place.  After Bob Evans, we decided to drive through my favorite subdivision to look at houses (Cherry Hill Village, I love it, Aaron HATES it).  On our way home, Aaron asked if we could stop by Saint John Neumann to pick up a charger.  The new youth minister had said he had a pile of my stuff already accumulating, so I thought it was a great idea. 

When we pulled up to SJN, the parking lot was filled with cars.  This isn’t unusual though because the church I worked for is a very busy place with a lot of stuff happening. As we were walking in, I told Aaron that I no longer had keys, but he said he saw Father Ron’s car, so we could just get them from him.  The building was still set up for Vacation Bible School, so we decided we would take Lil’ A around to show him the decorations.  Walking into the main assembly room, the lights were suddenly turned on and I was facing a room full of people screaming, ‘SURPRISE!!!!’

Now, I have had some cool moments in my life, some surprises, I have felt loved and supported by a community before, but I have NEVER experienced anything like looking into that room.  SO many faces of my alumni, some current students, most of our dearest friends, youth ministry friends and family…all looking at me with huge smiles on their faces!  And then, I pretty much almost passed out. I started crying so hard, and (I am not sure if any of you can relate)  I felt like a mixture of emotion, happy, sad, etc…I started backing out of the room, kind of starting to get a bit hysterical.  THANK GOD my friend Kellie came up, gave me a hug and said, ‘it’s okay’. I started to breathe again.  Walking around the room and saying hello to 
everyone almost felt like an out of body experience. I still was a bit in shock, people kept saying, ‘I’ve never seen you so speechless’.  And speechless I was.  When I was about half way through the room, I was SHOCKED by another surprise. 

One person in the youth ministry world that I am privileged to call friend is a fantastic man named Mike Patin.  He travels around the country keynoting youth conferences, spreading the love of Christ, etc… and he is a VERY, VERY busy man.  About half way through greeting guests, I looked up and saw him in the corner.  Of COURSE, the water works started once again (and could barely be contained).  I kept saying, ‘what in the world are you doing here???’.  Mike doesn’t live in Michigan, and I was pretty darn sure he didn’t have any speaking engagements in the area.  Turns out, he was at Notre Dame’s Vision Conference and rented a car to be able to be with us on this night.  It was SUCH an honor to have him there, SUCH an honor.  I, of course, totally embarrassed him by announcing to the room ‘He’s like, famous!’.  Sometimes, I can’t help myself.

The husband then escorted me a table and began a slideshow that he created.  You guys, apparently Aaron had been working on this party for six months! He put together the most beautiful show of pictures to represent my nine years at SJN.  It made me remember how much I loved my ministry, the fantastic teens I worked for, the beautiful friendships I have made, and how skinny I was before kids!!!  I laughed and of course, I cried, with my sweet baby boy lil’ Aaron on my lap, and Joey Michael at the table behind me.
Then, Aaron had arranged for five people to speak about their memories!  Can you believe it?  My mom, my Youth Minister, my partner in crime Mike Chamberland, and two of my alumni got up to speak.  After that, they did kind of an open mic thing, where anyone was able to share.  There were lots of highlights from this portion, but it is kind of hard to talk about it and was VERY hard to sit through (imagine an affirmation circle, but you are the only one being affirmed- YIKES!).  My mom did a really cool thing where she went through my life and kind of highlighted God’s faithfulness to my dreams. It kind of made me feel a bit silly for every time I have doubted the Lord’s plan in my life.  From my childhood dreams, to ministry, to travel, to meeting my soul mate and becoming a mom, it was pretty cool to hear everything God has done for me! 

The teens made me laugh as they shared stories.  Including when a bat flew in the building and I pretty much gave up on life and made it clear I was incapable of being the adult in charge.  And the storyof the only I really YELLED at teens.  They shared the impact the Lord has had on their lives through the ministry at Saint John Neumann.  Lots of tears were shed. 

How very special to have my youth minister talk about our relationship through the years!  Mike Chamberland made everyone laugh as he told the story of how years ago, I realized, through talking with him, I would NEVER be friends with myself.

Perhaps the best part of the night was when the ol’ Husband ended the evening.  He said he was proud of me and talked about the journey we have been on to bring me home with our three awesome children.  My husband is a VERY funny man, everyone knows that.  He is a very handsome man, anyone can tell that.  But not everyone knows how deeply he feels things.  As he was overwhelmed with emotion talking about our accomplishments, I felt like I was the luckiest gal in the world. I also just about died laughing when Mike C. came forward to wipe his man tears away.  So special.  Such a night.

After the party, is the after party and we headed out to our dear friend’s house to hang out with Mr. Patin.  On the way, Aaron told me what it took to pull off this surprise.  My mom and him setting up tables in the afternoon (his ‘work’ meeting), my mother in law purchasing so much of the food, everyone bringing dishes and wanting to celebrate.  It was so weird to know how many people were ‘in’ on this surprise, but so very wonderful at the same time.

Just a couple more highlights.

My dear friend from out of state shared that the mark of a good minister is someone who lives joy and just allows people to watch.  He said, I have done a good job doing that, and so has my husband.  Then, he said it is been really cool that together as a couple, we have let people ‘watch’.  I am not sure how true his words were, but I know that is something I have been convicted of ever since college.  To quote EN 41, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." So I guess, that was the best compliment ever.

Hanging out with my friends Terri, Barb, Kellie, Mike, Mike, Aaron and Jodi afterwards was beautiful.

A family who’s children I have taken to WYD a couple times, bought our family a ZOO PASS.  To say I am excited to use this bad boy would be the understatement of the year. I am pretty sure we will be zoo-ing it up several times a week!  How freaking fun is that for this Stay at Home Mom?

All and all, the day, the party and the night were so very special. I didn’t fall sleep till 4:00 am, both because I don’t sleep, but also because my emotions were at an all-time high.

am one blessed lady and my time at SJN has been very blessed.  And now, on to the new chapter! J
my favorite ministry picture of all time!


  1. Oh my, every part of this is so so spectacular. I have tears in my eyes! You deserve it so much. And affirmation circles!!!! You were the one who totally introduced me to that concept and made me play so I hope you accepted yours well :)

  2. Oh my gosh, what an awesome night!!!!! You deserve it! Now you have to be really really nice to your husband for the rest of your life :)

  3. This is just so beautiful!
    Mary, I'm blessed to know you!

  4. Oh Yeah! Rock Star Husband (who goes so well with his Rock Star Wife!)

    Ya'know we have some great neighborhoods in Southeast Massachusetts! just sayin'

    I am so thrilled for you! What a great day!


  5. Tearing up over here! I am so happy for you for so many things :) And, zoo pass? Awesome!!

  6. Mary, this is awesome! You deserve it lady, wish I could have been there for the celebration:)

  7. I cried reading this! Austin and I were supposed to be there but had a surprise of our own show up that night- friends and family from out of town. You have seriously impacted our lives, and I will forever be grateful to you! I'm so glad that you've been so blessed and all of your dreams are coming true!

    -Chelsea Ryan

  8. Mary, I am so happy that your night was that spectacular. I had hoped to be there, but ended up being there in spirit only. Sometimes it is really important to be affirmed for what often seems to come naturally so that we can realize/remember what a gift it is. And now you can take those gifts, add them to a bunch of other gifts you don't even realize that you have, and use them in this next phase of life. Congratulations on all of it- being debt free, years of sharing gifts in ministry, and moving on to the next phase. You and Aaron have worked really hard for it, and the kids are blessed all the more for it.