Fuego Coffee Roasters

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At the Marriage Adventures weekend last month, Josh and I had the pleasure of meeting (along with three other couples) Tony and Renee Colon.

Tony and Renee stuck out to us for two reasons, one is that they have made the daring and exciting decision to let their creative passion take over their nine to five lives. After working as baristas for seven years, the couple purchased a coffee roaster and began selling their own brand of coffee. This weekend, they are embarking on something even more inspiring. They have opened their own espresso bar, Fuego Coffee, in downtown Rochester.

All of this creative power currently present in their lives brings me to the other aspect of Tony and Renee’s lives that made them seem exceptional to me. They truly have created beauty from ashes in their marriage. They have refused to let extreme tragedy keep them from–

Well, why don’t you listen to them tell their story themselves?

God bless you in your endeavors, Renee and Tony! You are an inspiration, and Josh and I hope we can have the pleasure of experiencing life with you in the future.

I’m off to see if they need any help at their new coffee shop 🙂

Photo and video credit: Taylor Isselhard

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We Did It Together: Marriage and College

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Josh and I graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College today–pomp, circumstance, tassels and all. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and he in Spanish. We were surrounded by friends, family, and mentors . . . and we were absolutely honored.

There was a moment during the commencement ceremony in which the speaker asked all of the parents and spouses of the graduating students to stand and receive thanks for the support they had given the graduates throughout the years. Seated at the very front of the crowded gymnasium, I leaned forward and prepared to hammily stand in support of my spouse a few rows back (who would undoubtedly blush, groan, and pull his mortarboard down over his eyes in embarrassment.) As I rose from my seat and peeked over my shoulder, there was Josh–already standing and beaming at me.

It didn’t feel hammy at all.

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Being college graduates is a very strange feeling in light of the fact that up until now, Josh and I have never been together when we were not both students. We have never been married and not been in college. School has been a part of our relationship for as long as either of us can remember–a big part.

We both work (or used to work) very hard academically. We have forever been in competition for ultimate academic excellence. In high school, Josh edged me out as valedictorian of our class. I took salutatorian. In college, he landed Cum Laude while I managed to eke out Magna Cum Laude. The meaning in our accomplishments is clear, even more so since that moment when we stood and honored each other at commencement.

We never could have done it without each other.

What started out as just a playful rivalry turned into precious and invaluable support for four long years. We saw each other through six finals weeks, dozens of projects with both each other and others as partners, countless papers, and a whole lot of stress. And no matter how much we felt like ripping out hairs (both our own and each other’s), we always emerged loving, needing, and appreciating each other even more.

Josh would quiz me on communication theories, not letting me off easy because he really did want to learn more about my field of study.

I would sit him down and have him talk me through nerve-wracking oral presentations, helping him form neat outlines complete with examples.

He would chase me away from the textbook- and paper-piled couch to the bed and make me snuggle at least five minutes a day “for mental health.”

I would chatter at him in Spanish, making him practice even when he didn’t want to.

He would search for assignments I had long-since lost, always taking the blame for their disappearance.

I would meet him with a hungry gleam in my eye when he would tease at 1:30 in the morning, “Taco Bell?”

He would heat up my cornbag on the way out the door to class when IC flareups would keep me at home.

And we would get through it.

And we have gotten through it. As surreal as it seems, this chapter of our life that has meant so much to us is over, but what isn’t over is how much we have meant to each other during this season.

I reflect back on the judgment for our decisions that Josh and I received over the years. I can see in so many people’s eyes the meddling mindset of

“There go those poor, married college students that couldn’t wait any longer to have sex and will spend the rest of their lives paying for it.”

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but do people our age realize that there is more to marriage than sex? Then let me just take this opportunity to say, there is so much more to marriage than sex!

There’s friendship, fights, prayers, problems, trust, travel, work, play, adversity, adventures, backrubs, back-seat driving, campfires, picnics, late-night swims, sushi, sing-alongs,  midnight premieres, nightmares, deep thoughts, theatre, Thanksgiving dinner, pregnancy tests, plans, failures, fears, hopes, dreams, desires, days, nights, today, tomorrow, and forever.

There are, in fact, a lot of things that come with marriage that have made our college experience what it was. So you know what I say to people who think it unwise to marry during college (as if it’s any of their business)?

“There go those poor, unmarried college students who will never know what it’s like to have the ultimate supporter and soulmate walk them through every step of their adult journey.”

I love you, Josh. We did it, baby!

Acts of Renewal

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When I was a fifteen-year-old junior in high school, my mom, my aunt, and I made a trip to Roberts Wesleyan College for a preview day. They were both RWC alums, and I was casually looking for a Christian school to attend for my undergrad.

As a part of the preview weekend, I attended a chapel service. I was blown away as chapel consisted not of praise songs and a stodgy speaker, but of an American Sign Language performance to music followed by an amazing drama performance by husband and wife duo Acts of Renewal. The team merged teaching, humor, biblical stories, secular themes, and eternal truths into an eclectic, beautiful, and powerful theatrical performance. I was hooked.

Coming to the end of my Roberts career having been active in drama ministry myself, I couldn’t believe my luck when Acts of Renewal appeared on the chapel schedule in the final semester of my senior year. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. Following the equally inspiring chapel performance, I introduced Josh and myself as the founders of Muse Creative Arts Ministry and told them about the impact they had had on me as a young Christian and artist over five years ago.

That was the moment when Jim Shores and Carol Anderson-Shores became my friends.

It was so surreal that the artists who I had idolized as the embodiment of what Josh’s and my theatrical love could grow into as a couple were sitting down to lunch with me and wanting to hear about my life and accomplishments. Jim and Carol were a total encouragement and inspiration. They offered specific advice for projects Josh and I have volunteered to participate in for ministry purposes, and they expressed general excitement that people with similar passions and talents were coming behind them.

I am so blessed to have met them, and hope that Josh and I will have the joy of knowing them for years to come.

Let My People Go: A Poem from "The Chains"


Muse Creative Arts Ministry is in the thick of rehearsals for our first-ever show, “The Chains.” We’ve created a synthesis of poetry, drama, dance, and music that really blows the mind in terms of just how much unseen bondage there is in the typical human experience.

I’m so proud of what we’ve made together. I wanted to give you guys a preview of all of our hard work. 

This particular piece is by yours truly, and it will be concluding “The Chains” on the nights of November 28th and 29th.

Let My People Go

My people are in chains.

They grovel in prisons that look like homes

Dungeons that look like farms and plantations


And jail cells that look like souls.


Everywhere I turn, I see the ice-cold links dripping from their limbs.

I hear the solemn, rhythmic clang of metal against floors and flesh


The frantic shouts of child soldiers forced into the fray of battle

The midnight sobs of women caged to provide pleasure for a price


The muffled heaving of bulimics behind closed bathroom doors


The breaking backs of boys who will never escape their country’s caste system


The cursings of widowed fathers who swear they will never love again


The silence of wives loyally suffering at the hands of their husbands’ rage


The strangled wails of depression

The stifled screams of hatred

The grinding grip of a crippling grudge


The judgmental stares from you who have never known anything but freedom


I follow the chain gang to work


To school


To church


Slaves, one and all


Enslaved by others like them

Enslaved by darkness itself


Or enslaved by themselves, blind to their self-imposed oppression


But the chains are always the same.


The chains . . .


They dig into our wrists and ankles


Into our hearts and minds


I . . . I am in chains.


I watch my people suffer as I waste away on my own

Alone in the company of a million more captives.


I reach out to ease their suffering

And fall back on my own weight

Snapped to a stop by chains around my neck


My arms


My legs


My spirit


My people are in chains.


If You won’t show me how, I beg You


Show Yourself to me, and let my people go.

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