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.