Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DECADEdent :: II

So this is a continuation of my reflection on the past decade of my life. I thought with a new year and new blogging goals, a little getting-to-know-each-other practice might be nice. Also, most of my new friends here in Charlotte don't really know our story, so here's a continuation. 
In '02, I convinced Scott it was time to bid our 70s condo & Napoloen, MI farewell and we sold it and moved to an adorable fixer-upper ranch house closer to town. It was microscopic and cute and had been lived in by a little old lady and her family for about 50 years (which would be a recurring theme for our future homes). We put our bed in the basement (man, I miss basements) and worked on the house for what seemed an eternity. My dad flew out and taught me how to use a tile saw and we ceramic tiled the kitchen floor. Friends helped us paint-inside and out. Jerry Neu (a friend from Westwinds) taught me how to paint the entire interior of a house like a pro w/ no tape (since he was the expert). After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, it was livable and we were living maybe 10 minutes from work. (too bad we ever move from my place in the city...that was our pre-Shane Claiborne days - and also, Scott's condo in Napoleon was much harder to sell than my little house in the city) It was a beautiful thing. I imagined children running around in the backyard someday or playing drums in the basement...Scott bought a Harley and we fell in love with everything biker. We admit being bikers was our attempt at an alter-ego, but we had a blast. We became deeper with our friends in MI- and since our fam lived so far away, our friends there really became our family. The seasons were dramatic, the conversations were lively, and Scott and I loved our jobs and co-workers! Our brains literally hurt from all the books we were reading and how we were being stretched in our jobs @ Westwinds. From our theology to our relational depths, we were being transformed and it felt really really good. Let me also say this. I had not done much worship leading in my life before taking the job @ Westwinds. I had done alot of singing...some playing, some performing...and a tiny bit of leading-  I can't think of a better place to kind of grow up and learn as a worship leader than that church. 

I think '03 might have been a bit of an early mid-life crisis for both of us. Or maybe it was the first year I had lived in Michigan and didn't move! I recorded an album at our house with some good friends (not the highest quality, but fun) and Scott got more into the motorcycling thing. We did a road trip with a bunch of friends to Milwaukee for the Harley 100th yr. was amazing! 
We rode from MI all the way around Lake Michigan- the scenery, food, sights, libations, and friends were all marvelous. Sometimes now when I'm throes of my current schedule I'll think back on those days and wonder if that was really me wearing a bandana and a leather jacket on the back of that bike or someone else. It's almost surreal! I can say I saw things at that Harley event I've never before (or never again) will see- people-watching highlight of my life. Note the pictures. I think that also might have been the year that Ted and Shemane Nugent invited me over their house after church one day (they attended our church) and then invited me to sing in their wedding and on Ted's album. It was pretty fun. I know this sounds like name dropping, but really I'm just trying to articulate what kind of unlikely year that was. 
This was also the year that our good friends Matt and Donna O'Neil who we'd known for year, came out to visit. We had a long talk one night about how incredible it would be to all work together again like we did in our WorldHelp days (a humanitarian aid org) and how after we all had now had a few years working in local church, that we'd love to start a church together...SOMEDAY. I believe this was also the year that one of my sister's acquaintances, Matt Shaughnessy, came to play at our church in MI with a band and we were blown away by his ablilties/mad skillz (and he was but a young college student at the time). He came that summer from VA to intern for us @ Westwinds. Once again, we had no idea the significance this sort of chance meeting would have on our future! Then in the Fall of that year we decided it might be nice to start a family. In November we found out I was pregnant and to surprise Scott, I wrapped the pregnancy test in a box and put it in under the tree. Not very original but surprised him nonetheless since we had just been throwing the idea around.  When he came home from a soccer game he opened it (pics below). We had NO IDEA the change that would be hitting us in FULL FORCE the following year. So overview of 02/03: moving, music, motorcycle mania, church-planting fever, Cat-Scratch Fever, Baby Fever.
(pics below: the night we found out we were expecting & random pics from our harley, eh?!)

So, I'd love to hear...what were YOU doing in 02-03?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Well, my first year blogging resulted in three posts.
Raise your hand if you're surprised (if you know me).
I'm realizing that although I'm far from being Type A, I need specific goals or i'm a "bee with one wing" as my dad likes to say. So, maybe this year, as much as I'd love to say that I'd like to blog weekly, I'm just going to shoot for 4 monthly...then, maybe I'll pleasantly surprise myself.
My husband Scott started a blog in late 09. And not surprisingly, he's been great about keeping up with it. It's called Digital Centering -check it out! He told me that I need to focus on writing shorter blog entries and maybe that way I won't feel as though I need to take a ton of time to pull off blogging. Me...short-winded? I can only hope.
By the way, Happy New Year! Here's our family Christmas pic (courtesy of our friend Steve Cook).
I know most posts this time of year are about Resolutions, top ten lists for the past decade (and what do we call the first 10 years of the 2000s?), and "what I was doing 10 years ago today" kind of stuff. So as briefly as I can, I'd like to debrief my past decade & reflect a bit. I thought it could be not only cathartic but also a good way for us to get acquainted if you happen to be reading this blog.
I can honestly say 2000-2009 was a decade of overwhelming reorientation and "firsts" for me. And in my attempt to take my husband's advice, I'm going to split up the reflecting over the next few days.
I spent a good part of 1999 living in a remote village in India with a few close friends on the campus of an orphanage. I've got a bit of a Mother Theresa crush you could say and my time there and my relationships with motherless, fatherless beautiful orphan children in the middle of nowhere changed me forever. I'd never lived in such extreme conditions or experience such extreme, raw love in my life. I got on a plane one person and returned someone else...someone who'd held abandoned leper children in my arms, someone who rode trains across unfathomable countrysides and like The Darjeeling Limited meets Divine soul-overhaul, I experienced something there that I find difficult to articulate unless you've taken that same journey. I have no regrets over how I spent my post-college days...I enjoyed every minute of my single, house-mortgage free days living like crazy gypsy/humanitarian. I was flying home (U.S.) on New Year's Eve 1999 to take a job at a church in Michigan (something I never thought I'd do: work at a church nor live in MI)- and I got stuck in Frankfurt Germany b/c of a blizzard. I remember spending that evening in a strange, sterile hotel room in my birkenstocks and dusty India-trainride-scented overalls (yes, quite glamorous) thinking what the HELL am I doing and where I am going in life, God?!
I had a long-distance relationship with a guy I really loved...who lived in VA-and who was willing to move to MI to be with me...but the whole plane ride home I just felt as though we were two souls being pulled in opposite directions. First, me to India then to MI and something/someone else.
So, I then arrived in MI, moved in with the pastor and his wife who led/started the church in MI and spent the first few months camping out in their arctic but plush basement getting my bearings in my first ever local church role and first job as a worship leader. I had NO IDEA was I was doing. I missed the little kids with whom I had lived in India. I missed my friends with whom I had travelled the world, I missed my family spread out all over the East Coast...but just like Vernon Brewer used to say that "there's no better life than living one where you can do something daily that will outlive you", there in the middle of Jackson, MI I felt that overwhelming sense that I once again had that opportunity. I'll admit I had wished it had been an opportunity in a warmer climate, but it was the right move at the right time.
I got engaged in February. I was in love but full of doubt. Excited but disoriented. Anticipatory but not at peace. I moved out of the friends' basement and bought my first house. A cute little old house in downtown and loved everything about it and my sweet roommate, Sarah, who is now quite the author/speaker! Life was great, but my internal theme song was still "READY TO RUN". By June, still in a long-distance engagement, I called it off. The most difficult thing I've ever had to do. That was a huge first. In September, someone who had been my good friend (but only a friend) became "the one". After 5 years of knowing each other, 9 months of working together in Michigan, and 6 weeks of dating, Scott asked me to marry him. And again, I experienced the "rightness" of the right thing, or should I say the right One.
So, in May of '01, Scott and I got married. I sold my adorable little house and moved out to a town called Napoleon (it's as "out in the sticks" as it sounds) into an incredibly bachelor-y condo (not to mention beat with w/ a 70s stick). Our wedding was like a concert mixed w/ some vows...our fam/friends came from all over and since we had both been living all over the place since or childhood, we decided getting married right there in Jackson in the church where we worked and got together would be the best. And it was. Sure, we had our 1st year of marriage bumps in the road..but working together and living out in Boonies was pretty fun. We just plain enjoyed our life and the community we had there in that city. We hosted a small group on relationships and met a cool couple named Scott & Kendra Miller who were married the same month as we were. We had no idea that it'd be the start of a long friendship...
More early 2000s reflection to come ....