Saturday, April 28, 2018

The one about moving to a new city

Moving to a new city is not for the faint of heart.

Moving to a new city as a single adult is for SURE not for the faint of heart.

I've not written over here on this blog that much. I moved 7.5 months ago to Kalamazoo, Michigan and it has been as I expected.

I expected it to be hard, and it has been.

Similar to marriage, I think people often go into a huge life change like this thinking it will be amazing and adventurous; they assume it will be thrilling and fun. Those are not words I would use to describe moving to a new city.

My words are as follows:

  • hard
  • lonely
  • tricky
  • boring
  • disappointing
Lest you think I'm "Miserable in Michigan"...let me assure you: I am not. 
But I've not written over here for fear that my friends would think I'm miserable and lonely and made a huge mistake by coming. Because the first six months could be described in those words listed above. 

But. I expected those things. I was not taken off guard or surprised by them. I moved here expecting that. See, I have a little bit of experience moving to a new city where I know NO ONE. I have a little bit of experience doing this as a single adult. And I have a little bit of experience figuring out not only how to make it work, but how to make it amazing. 

If you are considering a move in the near future, this post is for you. 

Moving to a new city is exciting for about the first 48 hours. The drive to wherever it is you're going is exciting. You're blasting good music with your windows rolled down. You're singing about "wide open spaces" and "spreading wings and learning how to fly." You're sipping on that iced coffee and you're hopeful for what's to come. You arrive at the new place, you unpack, you arrange your belongings, and then you sit down. 

At this point, you realize you have no one to call. No one to come over and see your new place. No one to go grab a drink with. No one to go for a walk with to evaluate your surroundings. This is the moment reality hits. This is the moment you decide whether or not you're going to make this work or if it's going to be miserable. 

When I moved to Tallahassee in 2011, my friend Helen made the drive with me. She saw my new apartment, we ate dinner on the floor and slept on air mattresses as furniture wasn't set to arrive for a few days. And then I took her to the airport. I wasn't sure how I would go on. I sobbed for a couple days straight. I had no idea what to do. But work started and I found my groove. I attended church, I met people, and I found a rhythm. I went to the same places; found my local grocery story, frequented the Starbucks by my house, and went to the gym. I tried to do all of these things at the same time so that when I'd walk in, I'd see a familiar face. Even if I didn't know them, it was familiar; as nothing else in my life was familiar. 

Around the six month mark of living in Tallahassee, I went to dinner with a group of girls my age and it was that moment that I knew I was comfortable. I'd found people. I had someone to call to hang out. I had people I could invite over for dinner. 

Then I up and moved to Washington, D. C. (I mean- there were a LOT of other things happening at this point--- homes burning down, etc...but that's a post from another time). 

When I moved to DC, I gave myself 6 months. That's how long it took for me to feel comfortable in Tallahassee, so that's how long it should take in DC, right? #Nope.

I went expecting the first 6 months to be hard. I gave myself grace for the first 6 months. And after 6 months, tragedy struck and I was lonelier than ever. I didn't know what to do. I wondered if I'd made a mistake by going to DC. At the nine month mark, I had a dinner at my apartment and my table was full. Full of people I didn't know, but it was full. That was the turning point for me. I now had people to call. I had people to go hang out with. I had people who would go for a walk or go grab coffee with. And life took off. Five years total in DC and I had an ARMY of people. 

Then after five years, I had several green lights pointing in the way of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I still am unsure of how or why- but this is where I have landed. I made the drive and moved out here knowing it would be 6-9 months before I felt like I was home. My roommate from DC, Jaryn, came to spend the first weekend with me and when she left, I knew what to expect. I knew the loneliness would come. I knew I'd go months without having anything to do. I knew what to plan for. I made travel plans, I found a good gym, I started the process of getting involved at a church; all while knowing this: it takes time. 

This week has been a special week for me. On Sunday, I sat with friends at church. On Tuesday I went to my small group and had an incredible group of women pray over me. On Wednesday after the gym, a group of my 7pm Orange Theory Fitness friends all went for a drink. On Friday evening, I attended an event hosted by a coworker. And today... Today I went to the gym then met up with Katie for a 3 mile walk followed by a stop for ice cream. After, I went to my local coffee shop here in Kalamazoo that I'm for SURE ok calling "Mine." It opened a couple months ago, and like me, it's new. And I love it. 

There are still plenty of lonely days--- and days that I post on Instagram more than normal; but there is something still so sad to me about going through an entire day with NO ONE knowing anything that I did. So if I'm oversharing on Instagram, it's most likely because I just am looking for connection. I want to know that someone cares about what's happening in my day. 

If you are moving to a new town, here are my tips:
  • Say yes. Always. If someone invites you to do something: SAY YES. 
  • Find a church. Even if you're not a religious person, find a local church. There are always ways to find people and get involved. 
  • Keep a routine. You're going to want SOMETHING to feel familiar. Even if that familiar thing is Chris from Trader Joes. He knows nothing about you except that you're from Texas and this is your first winter. But he will say hi and ask how you're handling the cold and you will need a familiar face. 
  • Go to the gym. At what point in your life will you ever have the opportunity to go to the gym 7 days a week? Just go. And kick some butt. 
  • Find a coffee shop that you love. Go by yourself. It's ok. You don't always have to drink coffee alone in your home. Even if you have good coffee. Give yourself an excuse to get out of your home and turn off the Netflix or Hulu show. Go sit and sip that coffee. Even if you don't know anyone. Sitting by yourself at a coffee shop is not the end of the world. And if you go enough, the baristas and store managers will know your face and start to say hi. They'll ask your opinion about new seating options for their space

If you're thinking of moving, prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for the hard and the lonely. But be assured life can be amazing and opportunities await that are beyond what you can imagine. You can do this. You can do hard things.  

I'm 7.5 months into living in Kalamazoo and it is good. I'm finding my space. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The one about Jaryn

The year was 2011.
I needed a job and my friend Grace was aware of this.

I received a call from Grace and she said, “How do you feel about Tallahassee?” I responded, “I’ve never been there and I know no one. Sounds great.”

Grace told me about her friend Jaryn who worked for Governor Bush and his education foundation. On a recent cruise for Jaryn’s 30th birthday, they were talking about work and Jaryn mentioned to Grace about needing someone to do social media. Grace said, “I have someone in mind.”

On September 19, I was driving to have dinner with my mom for her birthday when Jaryn and I talked on the phone and she made the official offer. Three weeks later I would fly to San Francisco for the foundation’s annual summit, meet Jaryn for {what I thought was} the first time, and then moved to Florida on October 16.

I landed in California late in the evening, got to my hotel, and planned to find all my new coworkers the next morning. I showed up bright and early to the ‘war room’ and saw Jaryn. Immediately, I recognized her. I said, “This is weird…..but we’ve met before, haven’t we?”

In October 2010, Jaryn and I both attended a wedding (remember my year of 60 weddings?) for our friend Gari-Anne and Brandon. I was the wedding singer; Jaryn and her sister were the wedding coordinators. We even sat at the same table at the rehearsal dinner.

As the national summit was kicking off soon, we didn’t have much time to chat, but my mind was already blown having learned this. Small. World.

A week later, I arrived in Tallahassee ready to work on the communications team for ExcelinEd. Jaryn was my boss. The first year at the Foundation was far beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself. The team was incredibly kind; they were welcoming and understanding. That first week in town, Jaryn invited me to watch the Rangers in the WORLD SERIES with her family (who were a little wary of me being that the Rangers had beat out their team—the Yankees—to make it to the World Series).

August 2012 would lead me to one of the best weeks of my professional career and Jaryn was at that table. We arrived in Tampa for the 2012 Republican National Convention where Jaryn was working her tail off, and I was just along for the ride. Literally. I showed up because I was bringing the car Governor Bush would use for this time at the convention. And then I needed to drive it back. So I made myself useful for the time there. Getting food for people, running errands, heading to the mall to find a shirt for Governor to wear while on TV since the one he had was the wrong color. I stayed out of the way and watched Jaryn face roadblock after roadblock all while keeping her cool that week.

November of that same year would bring tragedy to my home and Jaryn opened her home to me. After my apartment fire, I lived with Jaryn for the next 50 days while I collected my sparse bearings and decided what would be next. Prior to the fire, I’d been talking about moving to DC to work from our extension office. Jaryn had mentioned always wanting to get up to DC but had never been able to make the transition. I told her to come along. I’d most likely need a roommate since prices were so expensive. She considered it….(and took a REALLY long time to commit) but eventually decided that a move to DC would be a challenge she’d accept. I told her to be prepared as anyone who becomes my roommate will undoubtedly get married within a year. She said "Not gonna happen."

So yes. The next season of life would be in DC… living with my boss. I know most people were horrified or aghast at the idea of this, but year one—it definitely worked. Jaryn split her time between DC and Florida and was in town two weeks and away two weeks. Because I’d met Jaryn through a good friend of mine, it never felt like “Boss Jaryn” – rather “Friend Jaryn who happens to love some of the same people I love.”

After our first year of being roommates, the time came when we had to decide, “Do we keep this up? Do we sign for another year? What are we doing in DC? How is this our life?” HAlso. She didn't get married. Ha. 

We agreed to another year.

When the third year came, it was a no brainer. Life at The Row was good. Our apartment worked. We knew our places. Our schedules fit. I’ll admit, the work/boss portion was becoming harder, but we decided we could do another year.

Towards the end of the year, I knew living with my boss was no longer an option. We’d had a ton of transition at work, our plates were full, and I needed some space. I told her as much and she was willing to make whatever changes we needed. One of those changes needed to be finding a cheaper place to live.

We spent a weekend on the campaign trail in New Hampshire (JEB!) and I came home to find what would be ‘the place that didn’t exist.’ Seriously. The house was the very place I’d prayed for, but never spoke out loud because I knew people would laugh at my outlandish ‘wants.’ The things I wanted in a place, in the location I wanted, for the price I wanted---- it didn’t exist. Until it did. At this point, I told Jaryn--- let’s do it. Life is HARD right now- but I’m looking for a new job, and we can do this.

We moved into the new place at the end of February 2016, I had a new job by June, and Jaryn and I were roommates. Period. We were not coworkers. We were just roommates. That was an amazing feeling. When I came home that first week from my new job, Jaryn asked how my day was….BECAUSE SHE DID NOT ALREADY KNOW. For three years prior, I’d not had anyone ask my how my day was when I got home from work. I don’t think I realized how hard it was living with my boss until I wasn’t. But then it made the next year so incredibly sweet.

Through each year, Jaryn remained constant and loyal. Through my ups and downs of normal life the last 6 years, she has consistently been there every step of the way. So many things I would face, she could say “I’ve been there. What you are feeling is normal. It will get better.” She is my person to bounce political questions off of without fear of judgement, my person to be a sounding board for questions that arise when I read my bible, and the friend that lets me process the hard days--- to be fully me in the working things out. 

My professional career took off because of her. I’m thankful for her example, her guidance, wisdom, and her encouragement. Especially this last year, I am thankful I could come home after days of questioning myself, my skills, or my ability and know she would encourage, affirm, or remind me of my value to the team I was on.

Jaryn, I’m thankful you’re on my team and in my corner. Thanks for celebrating all the random holidays with me (National Guacamole day, Tequila day, Ice Cream day…to name a few), for enduring hours of Friends episodes, for letting me interrupt you when I’m sure you were doing important work saving the world to remind you that it was 3:12; thanks for late night airport pickups even though you knew I wouldn’t couldn’t reciprocate due to my early bedtime.  Thanks for helping me escape the city for Inauguration Day 2017, for letting me take my time in Costco instead of running in and out, and for not rubbing it in my face when the Cowboys lost.  AND. For volunteering to help me move out to Kalmazoo so I wouldn’t be alone my first weekend in an unfamiliar place. So incredibly grateful.

Being roommates with a person requires a level of sacrifice, compromise, and growth. You’ve made me a better person.


Friday, August 11, 2017

The one about the next chapter


4.5 years ago, I made the fifteen minute drive north to Washington, DC from Tallahassee, Florida. And yes, if you’re thinking that seems a little short, you are right and should click on the hyperlink to see that story.

I drove into the city having just lost all of my personal belongings in a fire, but ready to start fresh in a new city. I didn’t know how long I’d be in DC, didn’t know if it would be the right fit for me, and had no idea the twists and turns that would follow. All I knew is that I was headed to DC and it was the right place at the right time for me.

Four and a half years and countless stories later, I’m making another ‘fifteen minute drive north.” Except it’s not fifteen minutes, it’s west and north, and it's about 9 hours away. I’m moving to Michigan!

On May 9th, after a really frustrating day, I left work a little early, laced up my tennis shoes and went for a run on the National Mall. I stopped and decided to take a nap on the grass and while staring all all the DC-ness around me, I had this overwhelming feeling of “DC is not where I’ll be long-term.” I’d never had that feeling before. Prior to this day, every time I looked at the Washington Monument, the Capitol, or run by the Lincoln memorial, I’d have an overwhelming feeling of “GOSH! I LOVE THIS CITY.”

And I do love this city, but that day, something had changed. I felt change was coming.

Who knew it would be so soon. I checked my email when I got home and found an email waiting for me--- that day—on May 9th!--- with the subject line “Seeking your counsel about digital communications position.”

Around this same time, I was interviewing with another organization. Both jobs presented really great opportunities and both would mean major changes in my life. I started praying for closed doors. I know that might sound a little cynical to some, but I trust when God says no. It’s a more definitive answer and I know He will open other doors.

I responded to the email on May 9. After she told me about the job, I asked the lady how they got my information---- she said “you were in our system.” To this day, I’m still not sure how they got my information, but 5 interviews and a trip to Michigan later, I’ve accepted the role of Digital Communications Manager for the Kellogg Foundation.

There has been SO MUCH PEACE throughout this whole process, so many different confirmations, and so many opportunities for me to brag on God and His faithfulness, His guidance, and His favor.
I start my new job on September 11. I’ll be making the ‘fifteen minute drive north’ to Kalamazoo Michigan either the 7th or 8th and I would love love love to hear what you know about Kalamazoo, who you know there (I know NO ONE), and best tips and tricks for surviving a Midwest winter.

To my people in DC: My life has been forever marked by you all. To my NCC family--- thank you for being just that….FAMILY. I’ve been honored to serve, sing, and lead with you all the past 4.5 years. To Jaryn: you’ll be getting your own blog post.

Let me assure you all of this: our God is good, faithful, and I truly do trust His knowledge of the bigger picture. What we can see is only a glimpse of the greater story being told. He’s writing a new chapter and I’m thrilled to live it to the fullest.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The one with the rooster crow

April 13, 2014. I remember the day well. It was a gorgeous Sunday morning; spring had finally come to our city. 

I was wearing a navy and coral colored dress with sandals. My hair was done, my makeup on point, and church was being held at the 9:30 club for the first time. Church in a club. What!

I walked in, found a seat on the right side of the room, about four rows back from the platform. 

There were some special events taking place that morning. A photographer was there as well as people with balloons and donuts. 

KP was leading worship, Susan Manchester was singing alongside him wearing the cutest skirt and top. 

And I was completely unaware that I would be changed that day. 

I'll come back to this portion of the story in a bit. But keep reading if you'd like.

Three years have passed and today I was reminded of this particular day when an image showed up in my Facebook feed. Facebook has a way of reminding us of some not so great moments, right? 

This photo appeared and my heart felt a strange mix of emotion upon looking at it. 

You see, three years ago, I'd been invited to take a barre class with my friend Lynette who was becoming a certified instructor. I did not want to go. ZERO part of me wanted to go. But my friend needed 5 people to show up for this class to be considered part of her training requirements. 

I wasn't a fan of group fitness. In my mind, group fitness was a fantastic way of putting people on display to show just how terrible they are. I'm a competitive person and like to win, but when it comes to fitness, I've always felt that's an area I never win at. Ever. I workout, I eat healthy, I get good rest, I say no to sweets 98% of the time, all while watching people do NONE of those things and still managing to be skinnier than me. We shall file that under "Things that are not fair." 

But I had been invited to attend this free class with several of my new DC friends. And because I love my friend, I went. The day before, I was trying to figure out what workout clothes to wear and found myself sobbing (I know. It sounds dramatic). I didn't want anyone to see me in workout clothes. I felt workout clothes highlighted all my worst features. And we do such a great job of hiding our worst features, don't we?

Feeling nauseated, I went to class, participated, and called it a day. It wasn't terrible and I didn't die. But I did want to crawl in a hole after. 

The next morning I woke up and, while journaling for a bit, received a text message from Sarah who had also been a part of the class. She asked about hanging out some time. 

Here's the big ugly admission: I stared at my phone in amazement and thought, "She still wants to be my friend? After seeing me workout?"

And immediately after thinking that, I wept. I wept for myself. I wept at how terrible that sounded. I wept for the girl inside of me who felt so much shame in regards to her body. I don't think I had realized just how much of a stronghold the devil had in that area of my life. I didn't want to live that way. 

Six days later, I am walking into church. With that navy and coral dress on. And my pastor begins to preach a message titled "The Rooster's Crow."

He talked about how Peter must have felt after having denied Jesus three times as had been foretold. That rooster crowed and Peter was immediately reminded that Jesus had told him "You will deny me three times." 

But the thing is.... from that point on. Every time Peter heard a rooster, did he think about his failure? Did he think about letting Jesus down? Did he think about his shortcoming? Back in that day, living where they did, Peter probably heard a rooster crow every.single.morning. How does one get past that? How does one face your sin every day? He couldn't escape it. 

But Jesus. 

Jesus came and spoke to Peter. He asked him, three times, "Peter, do you love me?" Each time, Peter responded with a resounding "Yes." Each time, redeeming Peter's earlier denial. 

He began redeeming and continued to redeem Peter's failure.

That Sunday morning, Pastor Mark said many of us have our own version of a 'rooster' in our lives. Reminding us of our lack, our failure, our weakness. He told us, just as Jesus redeemed that rooster's crow for Peter, he could do the same for us. 

I knew immediately what my 'rooster's crow' was. 

It was my mirror. 

Every.Single.Morning I was faced with looking at myself--- at what I saw as my weakness, as my area of failure. I couldn't escape it. I needed Jesus to reset that area of my brain. To see me as HE sees me. To stop living under such shame. For far too long I'd been trying to reset that on my own. By working out harder. By eating less. But it was something I couldn't achieve on my own. 

That Sunday. I felt a reset button had been hit on my heart. 

Three years later, it's amazing the change I've seen. I won't tell you it's been smooth sailing since then. I still have days. And there are often LOTS of them. But the shame I felt has loosened its grip on me. I can breathe again. 

And while my body isn't close to perfect, it's my body. And it's the one I do my best to take care of. That's all I can do. And that's what I'll continue to do. 

What's the rooster crow in your life? Might be time for a reset.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Not so Goody. Not so ouchless.

Hello, old friend.

It's been a while.

And unfortunately, the reason I'm back today is not for reasons I'm thrilled about.

I have a complaint. A large one. And I try not to publicly complain about things or companies online unless it's a big deal to me. That whole "pick your battles' thing usually rings true. But friends, this is a battle I'm willing to pick.

What is it, you ask? What is SO important that it would bring me out of my six month blog  hiatus?

A ponytail. Yup. You read that right.

For more than 7 years, I've been using the Goody's brand of ponytail holders. I've RAVED about them. I've bought them for other people. I've sung their praises. I've been a huge fan of these. Most people see them and think, "There's no way that will work." But people.  You've seen my hair. I have a lot of it. And it's really long. These have worked MAGIC. These elastic bands have stood the test of time through 5 half marathons, spin classes, and all other aspects of life.
I use only the ones in bottom
compartment as they are the
larger bands. 

Until recently.

I was on my last band and purchased a new pack. I opened it up to find these bands were MUCH different than the previous packages I'd ordered. They were thinner and felt much different. I tried to put one in my hair and it snapped and broke immediately. So I tried another one. Same thing. This happened three times.

I thought maybe I'd purchased a faulty package, so I ordered another pack online. They came in the mail and I found them to be exactly the same as the faulty pack. WHAT IS THE DEAL!

Did the product change altogether? WHY! After more than 7 years of something working SO PERFECTLY would you change  your product?!?!

I don't know what to do at this point. I've not found anything else that works. People. Help a girl out before I just decide to chop all my hair off.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

The one where she called out the good

At 2pm yesterday, I had an unexpected surprise. A dear friend of mine from Texas let me know her schedule had shifted a little and she was in DC, free for the evening, and wanted to see if I was free.

Was. I. Ever.

I made a quick reservation at Founding Farmers (always proof God loves you when you get a last minute reservation at this place) and finished up my work day.

I met Rachel at the restaurant, got the best Texas-sized hug, and sat down at our table. I looked across at her and said "We are talking about ALL THE THINGS. So much to catch up on. Are you ready for this?"

Five years prior- almost to the very day- Rachel had come to my apartment in Texas, coffee in hand at 9pm, and helped me pack up before I left the next day for my new job in Florida. Since then, we've talked a few times, we've met up a few times when I've been in Texas, but for the most part- we had a LOT to catch up on.

After dinner, we did a nighttime stroll through the memorials (my favorite thing to do in DC with out of town friends) and I can't even tell you how encouraged I was by this evening.

When I got home, I washed my face, crawled in bed, and felt a couple tears stream down my face. Rachel encouraged me in ways I've been missing for quite some time. She spoke words of life over me; she called out the good in me. She didn't say these things to flatter me; she said them because she believed them to be true.

Who is calling out the good in you? I think we do a good enough job of calling out the bad in ourselves. We need someone to join forces with and call out the good.

Rachel, I'm grateful for you.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The one about a pastor's role

When you grow up as a pastor's kid, the idea of a 'pastor' looks a little different to you.

When you grow up as a pastor's kid in the middle of East Texas, it looks a lot different to you.

Growing up, I attended a church where everyone knew everyone. We knew all the people, knew their families, knew their jobs, knew their lives. When life was hard, we rallied. When life was good, we celebrated. No one was excluded from this circle. There was no one in our congregation that didn't have full access to my family. And I loved that. We were a community of about 150 people. And it was good.

For my first church experience in college, I hoped to find and recreate something similar.  I didn't mind a big church. That only meant I got to know more people. I babysat for pastor's and their kids. I found myself in their homes for family dinners. I easily found my way into the lives of my pastors and their families. But then again, when your dad is a pastor- the pastor's family never feels as though it should be off limits- especially when your home was never off limits. It feels natural and RIGHT to want to be a part of their lives.

When I transitioned out of this college church (of about 800 people), I found myself attending Gateway Church with about 10,000 other people. Everyone thought of it as a big church, but I never did. I never considered that a mega church. I just saw it as an opportunity for more people to know, more to be involved in, and more opportunities to serve.

Within the first 6 months of attending Gateway, I again found myself in the homes of different pastors and their families. Babysitting, watching movies, grabbing coffee, feeling supported. My pastor growing up was my dad, which means I looked to my pastor for more than just a weekend message. I looked to him for advice, counsel, support. I found that at Gateway. Pastor Preston Morrison, Pastor Jan, Pastors Randy and Cheri, Pastor Zach, Pastors Marcus and Lexa, Pastor Lynda....the list could go on. Sure, I was involved in other ministries (worship, small groups, etc) but my pastoral care came from these families. The church now has a weekly attendance of about 30,000 people. And still, there are several of these friends I could call at the drop of a hat and I know they'd be around.

What is your experience with the role of a pastor? Maybe not a senior pastor- but pastors within your church... Are they someone you only see on a weekend? Are they someone you can call or email without getting an automated response? Do they know anything about your life? What do you think a pastor's relationship with members of a congregation should look like?

Just posing some questions.

The one about moving to a new city

Moving to a new city is not for the faint of heart. Moving to a new city as a single adult is for SURE not for the faint of heart. I&#...