Sunday, June 15, 2014

i am in love with summer

for real, you guys.

summer is so... Narnian. well, i guess spring is the real seasonal hero of Narnia, but that's neither here nor there.

the point is, the winter has gone, the ice has melted, and it's summer.
and please. summer in pennslvania > summer anywhere else > summer in dallas.

because? summer in dallas is too hot to go outside is flip flops and shorts is sweat on your brow is mosquitos is ice cold drinks is air conditioning.

summer in pennsylvania? bliss. it mean bonfires and s'mores and sweatshirts and windows open and fresh breezes and evenings on the porch and meeting your neighbors and falling in love.

i'm typing this up on a sunday evening, sitting on the front porch. it's beautiful. the sun is trying to go down, i have a light blanket draped across my lap. i'm sipping on some chilled water out of an antique wine glass because i believe in the value of appreciating - and using - what you have instead of saving it for a special occasion. i'm enjoying the breeze and just capturing the moment. i'm noticing that i'm more tanned than i've been in years, because it's okay to go outside in the summer in pennsylvania.

chris is reading next to me, but he is also eating popcorn to remind me that some things never change.

lest you think this post means life is perfect, i'm pretty sure today's dishes are still in the sink, and there are still books on the living room floor from lincoln pulling them off the shelf this morning. there's probably a half-finished load of laundry in the basement begging to be transferred to the dryer.

you know what? that stuff can all wait until tomorrow - because i'm too busy flirting with summer. i want to send summer love letters and ask it to the sadie hawkins dance.

i wonder if it'll think i'm weird if i send one of those "check yes or no" notes to it?

cheers, summer. thanks for being... you.

Monday, May 5, 2014

i am trying to be content

i've got to admit something to you guys.
even though i'm the one from pa, i'm the one with family here, and sometimes i feel like i'm the one who dragged chris and lincoln across the country, i've been struggling.

i miss dallas.

i miss nina and the boy clothes she would give us. when lincoln is growing as fast as he is, and with how expensive toddler clothes are, that was so nice!
i miss the ormeshers and our garage sales - really, i do! i also miss just hanging out and going to lunch
i miss our home groups - both the old original group, and the stigall group as well. they each provided their own sense of accountability
i miss maia and cakeballs on a whim and spray painting cages and toms and dogsitting
i miss april and that she would come chat with me and lincoln after the 9am service, that she helped us load up the u-haul getting ready to move
i miss serving in the recovery ministry
i miss the downstairs neighbors, especially jeri, lincoln's girlfriend/babysitter and the nights she gave us to be just a married couple
i miss my residents and fellows, and even some of my docs, as tough as they were to deal with

i miss avocados for 30 cents / thai food / central market / flip flops in april / small coffee shops / chuy's / white rock lake / the skyline / the farmer's market / the arboretum / game nights with friends / hot pot / korean food / walks through the village / riding the train / parkland / the homes in highland park / my favorite urgent care center / pinkberry / the DMA and klyde warren park / lower greenville / northpark / ...

i've really been thinking about things like that recently. i haven't been thinking about the sweaters i'll get to wear this summer while dallas is 110 degrees, or that i can walk a quarter mile down the road to pick up fresh neighborhood honey. or even more importantly, that i came here for a purpose. i came here for family and to be a part of a church plant.

then i drove home today and listened to the song below on spotify. man, it killed me. i cried on the way home as i realized that i really am right where i'm supposed to be. it was a refreshing point of view that i haven't had lately, and somewhere i needed to rest.

it gave me a reminder that i don't need thai food or flip flops to be content. i need jesus and the holy spirit, and i need to be content with where he has me instead of questioning him or rushing to do things my way.

so, even though we live in a part of the country where people are hesitant to make solid friends, right when we need them, even though the avocados cost $1.50 each (ouch!), even though there's no central market anywhere close to us... we're right where we're supposed to be.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

i am good at updates

my son is getting so big. yesterday we had a great day out and he wanted to spend three hours in field and stream. he settled for about 45 minutes of playing in tents and pointing at the taxidermied animals.

he was loving eating salsa off of the chips at our mexican dinner - and i kept wondering why it wasn't hot to him. then it WAS hot to him and i felt so bad because i'd been giving him salsa... but he DID want it.

um, we have a place to rent. you can see it on facebook (my husband tagged me in some pictures) and it's just beautiful. it's an ancient victorian house and is so classy, but has updated electric and also central heat and air. it's perfect. i can't wait to be in there, hopefully within a month or so. i'm looking forward to putting lincoln in bed, then opening the front windows so we can hear the record player while we enjoy a beer or glass of wine on the huge front porch. i'm looking forward to getting a grill and making grill packets for dinner. i'm looking forward to being back in our own bed (until we buy a king size!).

speaking of awesome house, we will sleep on the first floor and lincoln will sleep on the second floor. we've never been so far from him - we're usually in the room right next door - and the current hand-me-down baby monitor only picks up his white noise machine. we can't hear him if he made noise. so, we bought a fancy-pants new video monitor. it's awesome to sit there as he's waking up and see what he's doing.

speaking of sleeping, lincoln slept for 13+ hours last night. can you say growth spurt?

speaking of growth spurt... just kidding. i don't have anything on that subject.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

i am settling

today we pretty much finalized our taxes, and also started talking to a realtor.

i'm starting to feel like life is moving, like we're where we are supposed to be. i knew for a long time before we came here that we were supposed to come - for so many reasons, some of which i've discussed here. for the first few months, though, it was hard.

i moved from a big metropolitan area to the country.
i went from working full-time to staying home for a while.
i left flip-flops in december and gained a new winter wardrobe.

but now that i'm working, used to seeing deer cross the road, and love wearing tights with my skirts, i'm feeling settled. things are going as they should, and it looks good from here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

i am not generally discerning

i was not blessed with the gift of discernment.

hospitality? check.
understanding and enforcing rules? got it.
providing sarcastic responses? can do.

discerning between what's theologically sound and what just hits me in the feels? pass.

my husband is great at it. he corrects me and leads me well in this area. but it's tended to be something i struggle with.


i work near the pennsylvania / ohio border. so on the way home from work, i pick up a station from cleveland on my car radio, and it's basically npr for christians. for real. it's entertaining and brings up legal issues across the country and situations that christians should be made aware of, so we don't just live under a rock and think life is hunky-dory for us if we simply pray and read the bible.

they talk about the issues. the way that christianity is struggling. how people are being martyred overseas, and that the US is not immune to these things.

there was a debate going on about how certain people groups are appearing to have more political "rights" than christians do, and how we have to fight for our political rights as christians.

as i started listening to it, i was getting passionate as well.

we have to FIGHT!
how dare you put a people group above mine.
i read the bible.


then something happened.

i realized how foolish it is to fight for something we don't deserve at all. that as christians, we aren't promised safety just because we live in the good ol' US of A. we aren't promised anything. we have to fight, yes, but not against our politicians for no good reason. we have a fight against the enemy, and he's so much bigger than a congressman.

sure. the devil can work through people, and politicians are one of those options for him. however, he can just as easily work through your neighbor, or the cashier at the grocery store, or the person who cuts your hair. all of those people have influence on others, they interact with others, and the devil is fighting to win over... that's right... others.

so why aren't we fighting?

why aren't we reaching out for others as much as our enemy is?
why aren't we living as jesus did, instead of signing petitions or liking facebook photos to show our affiliation?
why aren't we baking cakes and taking photos and making bouquets for others?

want people to know you're a christian? don't tell them. show them.

bake the cake. love them. and pray for them to know jesus.

Monday, March 3, 2014

i am not a country girl

i love the city. i love the sounds and the smells and the excitement.

when chris and i moved here, the plan was to stay with my parents for a few months, then move into the city. sure, the property taxes are higher. sure, there is a lot more traffic. but we're city people. we've taken an hour and a half to drive nine miles home from work. we've gone to sleep with the sounds of sirens headed past our windows. we know what it's like to have to triple-check if you locked the door. we've lived below neighbors, and on top of friends.

then we moved in with my parents.

and it's so quiet.

there are sunrises and sunsets that will blow you away. there's a special kind of calm that comes from being miles away from stores. there's local meat markets and farmer stands with fresh produce. there's the feeling that you know the people who live in your neighborhood. and it's okay to leave your door unlocked.

so as we start to look for a house in the next couple of months, we're not looking in pittsburgh. we're looking right here, in the country. down the road from my parents. close to our church family and our work. close to community and people who look out for you and friday night fish fries and neighborhood bonfires. far from sirens and heat and things to do and hustle and bustle.

my son will go to the same high school that my mom did. is that weird? i think there's something special about that.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

i am not sentimental

i was driving to the city the other day, on a road i've driven on many times before.

most recently, i took this road from my granny's house to school.
that was ten years ago.

but this time, as i passed the place that we buy baskets of fresh corn in the summer, and the bend in the road just before that pretty church, my mind was not remembering the years of driving to school.

no, my memory was taking me back farther than that.

i was transported to a time, maybe 24 years ago, when we would take that same road to go to baseball games. we only did this a handful of times, but i remembered it so vividly. i remembered that straight downhill section, and that there had been a semi-truck coming up from the bottom towards us. i remembered that the parking lot to the swimming pool had been full. i even remembered it in reverse, when we came home and i pretended to be asleep so my dad would carry me into bed.

i wonder why the world works that way? why i so clearly remembered memories from a quarter decade ago, but not much more recent trips down that same road?

Monday, February 3, 2014

i am not a church planter

...but god decided that i'm supposed to help.

i'm a bit more introverted. i am great at hosting people at my place. but i'm not outgoing and someone who is going to go on that much of a limb.


so we moved recently. yes. we hitched up the penske truck and moved from the middle of the big city of dallas to a small town about an hour north of pittsburgh. lots of people asked us "why?", and we have different answers depending on who asked us. there were true answers, and then there were truer answers.

we may have told you that we moved for family. because we have linc, we wanted him to be closer to family, so we moved to be where my parents live. however, that doesn't explain why we left dallas, where chris' dad and stepmom and sister live. or why we didn't go to seattle, where chris' mom and stepdad and sister are.

we are thankful to have family here, especially since they have been a huge help in the transition, but that's not the only reason we moved. we have felt a calling to help with a church plant somewhere in the east coast, and after a lot of prayer and research, we found where we were supposed to be. chris and i recently ended up as part of the launch team for advance community church in gibsonia, pa. the vision of the church is to build gospel-spreading churches along the route 8 corridor, from pittsburgh to butler, pa. currently, the hope is to have a launch scheduled for fall of 2014, using the people who are a part of boot camp and the launch team now.

i can't begin to tell you what god has done in my heart in the (almost) two months that i've been here, especially with my heart for this church. i came from the village church in dallas, a pretty big church - there would regularly be 2000+ people in attendance at our campus, and there were three other campuses at the time i attended. at ACC? there are about 30 adults and 25 kids. honestly, that's the same size as my home group in dallas. everything is so different than what i'm used to.

i get a little nervous in front of new people. chris is the opposite. he runs out and greets people he doesn't know with a smile and a handshake. he schedules coffee dates with the guys. i wait. i do great one-on-one, but i hesitate in larger groups. i still carry unnecessary baggage, and need to preach the gospel to myself more in situations like that. so even though this is a smaller group, they know each other well - and they all know the same people. i don't know them, or the people they know. i don't live in the neighborhood. so i feel a bit like an outsider. but i try. i'm having dinner with gals, with couples in the church.

and my heart.

oh, my heart. it's beautiful. my heart is unreserved during worship. my heart wants to hug the woman who watches linc during the message. my heart is thankful for the launch team full of musicians. my heart is thankful for my husband's outgoing personality, because it means new connection. my heart longs for accountability and girlfriends in the area.

my heart, like the heart of this group, wants to see the gospel spread in an area that is often forgotten by missionaries. the northeast is much like europe. people assume that the gospel runs rampant here, because it's in america, because it's considered cultured and rich and old. but that's not the case. like the south, there are so many "cultural" christians. there are people who were baptized as children and who go through the motions without having a relationship with god. there are people here who need to hear the gospel, and it warms my heart to see that message in the launch team, with people as diverse in age as an extended family, and likely quite diverse in their church background.

there will be more news from this angle. i'm excited for what's happening in this launch team.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

i am not a stay at home mom

my family does well enough. we have food. and we can pay our bills. and we have two cars and a roof over our head. our boy has anything he needs and most things he wants. but we do this because we both work. we've always worked. i love my career, chris is good at what he does, so we have plenty.

but this is because we both work. without two paychecks, we would struggle.

hey, this blog is about transparency, right?

in spite of that, i always wanted to be a stay at home mom. who wouldn't, with this gorgeous face to stare at all day?

i wanted to have play dates. i wanted to consider home schooling. i wanted to share my stories of how wonderful my son is with the world, using this blog as an outlet. i wanted everything i thought stay at home moms were.

then i got my chance.

we recently moved across the country. that will come up in another blog soon. however, we moved and chris has a job but i didn't. we are staying with my parents while we settle, decide where we want to live, and start shopping for a house. so i stayed home while i continued to look for a job.

for the past month, we've been saving money on rent and utilities (thanks, parents!!), on food (thanks, parents!), and on daycare. thanks, parents? nope. thanks, erin. i've been a stay at home mom for two months now.

i want to preface the rest of this by saying how thankful i am for the time i've had at home. i was able to research jobs, and ended up getting the most ideal job i could have thought of, career-wise. i have witnessed so many firsts with lincoln, from him walking to using everything he can get his hands on as a telephone. i have been able to take him to the mall and let him play at the kiddie gym. i've gotten to know him so well - his cues for what he wants, when he needs food instead of a nap. i've been able to start teaching him sign language. i've read him a story before every nap and before bed. i've been able to test out a ton of foods on him, and discover his affinity for blueberries and for pumpkin waffles.

these are all things i wouldn't have gotten to experience without the time to stay home.

but man.

stay at home moms, you have my respect. i want to sing your praises from the rooftops. i never thought less of you, i never thought any of you were  "just" a stay at home mom. i promise.

i never knew just how hard your job was.

there's no way i can go to bed when linc does - it's 7 at night, for crying out loud. i have things to do when he goes to bed, like have dinner. and search for jobs. and work on the budget. there's things to do. then, thank god he sleeps in until 7am every day. because i'm up late having time for myself, so i haven't been good at waking up early.

then he wakes up, and it's time for coffee while keeping fragile little baby hands out of the scalding cup of life-juice. breakfast is usually fun, for him, but leaves me scrambling for scraps from his breakfast, lest i leave him hollering in his high chair and feeding yogurt to the dogs while i make some toast.

thank god he takes a long morning nap, because there's more for me to do. that's when i read my bible, prepare his lunch, check the pantry to make sure we have things for the week, thaw meat for dinner, call a friend to check in and continue accountability. maybe there's even time for a shower, if i'm lucky.

he's up. it's lunchtime. if i was smart, i made something for myself earlier. if not, i hope that my father will make something for me when he comes into the kitchen, which he likely does, thankfully.

all afternoon is devoted to linc. it's nothing i dislike, it's just that he's so active. he's pulling cords or eating dog food or bopping his head into the tv stand. there's no time to check in on facebook or look at emails and see if someone wants to call me back for a second interview. we might take a road trip to the mall to the play gym, or we might hop in the stroller at target to waste some time. so many days, though, we got stuck inside because of the cold (thanks, polar vortex), which meant stories and practicing walking and extra snacks for both of us.

linc starts getting fussy around 5:30 so i'll give him some food then and he plays in his high chair until dinner, when daddy comes home, and the almost immediately after diner, it's time for bed.

bonuses: lincoln loves schedule. he does so well with this and is great at telling me when he needs something. he is an extremely happy kiddo and adapts well if we're out during nap time. he eats anything i eat, which is convenient.

negatives: i am not built to be a stay at home mom. i like to work and dress up a bit and put on a touch of lipstick on the regular. i do not like having to think back to the last time i showered.

i start my job in one week. i'm excited, but in such a bittersweet way. i'm ready to wake up early and start my day with the bible, instead of waiting until linc is napping. i'm ready to put makeup on daily. i'm ready to take linc to daycare - i like seeing him interact more regularly with other kids his age. however, i'm going to miss him. i'm going to miss seeing him scarf down blueberries like there's no tomorrow, sneaking pieces of bread into his seat to eat later. i'm going to miss him walking, running, recovering, and walking again. i'm going to miss cuddling with him when he's tired, miss him falling asleep in my arms at naptime, miss him signing that he wants to play with the football, miss him carrying his dinosaur water bottle everywhere with him.

i know i'll still see these. i have full weekends with him, and evenings. but i'll miss the all-day. stay at home moms, you are heroes in my mind. raise those kiddos right. share with them the patience that you must possess. be a godly woman who makes all prospective wives pale in comparison, and us working moms will do the same.

Friday, January 3, 2014

motherhood lately

so. i'm a mom. i'm sure you noticed that. i did, too. and it's great. i've learned a few things, though, about what being a mom means to me. let's share, shall we?

motherhood means finding spots on your clean slacks, and not knowing if they're from yogurt or baby spit up - and not caring either way.

motherhood means light sleeping, in case your little babe makes a peep - even though he sleeps through the night 95% of the time.

motherhood means waking up to smiles from your little man - even if he had a meltdown the night before.

motherhood means your shirt may continually have a wet spot on the shoulders, where he snuggles - and you don't bring a spare shirt to change into, because you know that'll just get slobbery, too.

motherhood means letting your boy nibble on your fingers until they look like you've been in the bath too long - and dreading those bites after his teeth cut through.

motherhood means caring more about his well-being than your own - is he cold? did he eat enough?

motherhood means eating off the same spoon as your babe - when you thought that was gross seeing other moms do it before you were a mom.

motherhood is about knowing what you live for.