The Heat is Real

I’ll be the first to admit, I scoffed at my fellow New Englanders when they talked about how hot it gets in the summer. I thought, surely it can’t be as bad as Tennessee or Ohio – it’s the Northeast, for goodness’ sake!

Here’s the thing, though: it may only be 85 degrees outside, but a lot of buildings don’t have A/C. That’s the kicker. The real problem is that it’s hot and you can’t get away from it.

All of this clicked for me yesterday. It started with the dreadfully hot night’s sleep I didn’t get. When we went to bed last night, our bedroom was hot – even with the windows open and ceiling fan on high. Unfortunately, that meant I woke up all night long and rose at 6am feeling very restless. But the heat saga continues because the church we attend meets in a gym. That means it’s a set up/tear down church without A/C. I was pretty sweaty by the end of the second service, but then you add on moving things, wrapping cables and running around… it was not a pretty sight, to say the least.

I got in my car, blasted the A/C and momentarily felt better until I got home. Then I walked inside our apartment to do dishes and the heat struck again.

Our apartment also doesn’t have A/C. So I stood over steaming water for thirty minutes and the sweat monster was back. And that’s when it clicked, y’all. I just couldn’t escape the heat.

(This is my happy face after changing clothes and driving twenty minutes to Target. A/C is my favorite.)

So to all of you New Englanders whom I smugly scoffed at (inwardly, of course) not so long ago…. you were absolutely right, and it’s only uphill from here. In the mean time, I will be researching how to make our apartment cooler in the cheapest way possible, because I love our apartment. And I want more excuses to spend time in it, instead of in my car or the nearest air conditioned business.

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New England: through the lenses of the “newbies”

Well, I can hardly believe I’m saying this but it’s already been four months since we moved here!! Part of me feels like we’ve been here at least six, but the other part still thinks of us as the “newbies” around here! When we first got here, I remember noticing all of these small things that seemed so different from Tennessee! And I vowed to myself I would keep a list of them, which I have (sort of) done sporadically on random sheets of paper I find when something comes to me and notes on my phone.

But this is the real deal: New England, through the lenses of the “newbies.”

Snow. When we moved here, there was a good foot of solid snow (turned ice) already on the ground. In the first few months, it seemed like it snowed every other day… and it never melted! It just kept adding to the the current pile on the ground and would then freeze into an ice block. It was at least two months before we saw a single blade of grass in our new state!! I’m thankful we moved halfway through the winter… that way we can experience what people say are the “best summers ever!” before we endure our first winter here in its entirety.

+ Crosswalks. There are crosswalks everywhere! And not just at traffic lights, like you would think. There are crosswalks in the middle of the street and people just take off across them without a shred of concern cars may not see them and keep driving. I may or may not have almost hit a few pedestrians who were crossing the crosswalk at night. But I’ve learned my lessons, so now I watch for people like a hawk when I get near those things!

Traffic. This is definitely more due to this city being bigger than Johnson City, but the traffic is horrible!! It always takes me longer than I think to get places because I haven’t learned to factor in the traffic that is destined to be in my way. Eventually, I will stop being late to things… I promise.

Walmart. No one shops at Walmart around here. That was so funny to us when we arrived because we bought everything at Walmart in Tennessee! Groceries, toiletries, office supplies, etc. We had to adjust to a whole new line of grocery stores we had never heard of before – and, unfortunately, we also had to say goodbye to some brands we love – like Mayfield ice cream! And Daisy sour cream! (That was the worst one for me, I’ve been eating it my whole life… I can’t live without my “dollop of daisy!”)

Candlepin Bowling. There is only one bowling alley in our area that has what I would call “regular” bowling! Candlepin is the norm up here – the pins are super skinny and the ball is smaller. You also get three tries each time you bowl! It’s definitely fun, but it was so strange when I saw it the first time. I have decided I like it better than “regular” bowling, but shh don’t tell anyone – people are already telling me I’ve conformed to being a New Englander! 😉

Jughandles. You can’t turn left at a lot of lights here! You have to turn off to the right into what they call a “jughandle” that spits you back out at a traffic light, through which you can go straight (which would have been like turning left originally) or take a left to go the opposite direction you were going. I’ve struggled a lot with remembering to take those when I need to turn left.

Day trips!! Because everything up here is so close together, there are so many fabulous places to go! Now that the weather is finally becoming beautiful, we are going to take day trips to nearby cities every Saturday that we are free! I’m so excited to do some great exploring.

Wicked. Up here, wicked means “really” and people use it all the time in conversation. Ie “Those cupcakes were wicked good!” Note: this is not just a trendy saying for young people, like it was when I was in junior high. People of all ages say it and I’ve even seen a business called “Wicked Good Cupcakes!”

Dinner. We are used to eating dinner around 5:30-6:00 most nights, but every time we go to a restaurant around then, they are absolutely dead! People up here tend to eat dinner later – which makes sense, since so many people have long commutes to and from work.

+ Ice cream. Apparently, New Englanders consume more ice cream per capita than any other region of the United States… so, clearly, we moved to the right place. We have also discovered Hayward’s ice cream stand (for you Ohio people, it’s like the K, but on steroids with actual homemade ice cream in 50 flavors!) and it’s hard to stay away for very long. It’s a good thing I’ve already found some running buddies because I need them now more than ever.

+ Alcohol. In the South, it’s not surprising to find Christians who abstain from alcohol because they think it is evil and sinful. New England does not have a lot of those southern Christian cultural “rules,” so that’s not the case here. Getting drunk is absolutely seen as a sin, but even some of the most conservative Christians drink socially often. So it’s very typical for Christians to get together and have some wine or go out for drinks.

+ Babies. When we first moved here and got plugged into the community with people our age (twenties to early thirties), there are a lot of couples who are married who aren’t sure if they want kids. And that’s okay. The first time I heard a few couples talking so openly about being unsure if they wanted kids, I wanted to jump up and shout praises to God! I didn’t realize it until that moment, but in the South, I felt like it’s the expectation to have kids, so the questions are never, “Do you want kids?” But instead always, “When are you going to have kids?!” To be honest, hearing our new friends talking about these things was so freeing to me! Jacob and I are very young, so we have plenty of time to figure this out, but it was such a relief to not be the odd guys out when trying to figure out if and when we want to have kids.

All in all, I absolutely adore New England so far. I can see us living here and enjoying it for a long time. Most days, I come home from whatever evening activities we have just so overwhelmingly thankful for where God has led us. More than anything, we have learned how much New England is an area so desperate for the gospel. It was once an area of rich faith, but that faith has been squashed by independence and self-reliance. It is absolutely a challenge to be here and feel the weight of that need – but we have a community determined to live intentionally and they’re partnering with us in that! I wrote a little earlier this week about the series our church is going called “The Art of Neighboring” – and that’s what it’s all about: intentional living. Doing life with the people around you and letting the gospel shine through your actions, your love, and (yes!) your words.

So here’s to a season where we aren’t anxiously awaiting for “what’s next.” Here’s to settling and growing and learning and doing hard things with these people I’ve already come to love so dearly.
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the story behind our cross-country move.

So I’ve realized lately that many of you have no idea why we moved or the story behind it – and it’s so important to me that I document this somewhere. I’ve been trying to write this post for three weeks now, but I just haven’t reached the point where I feel like I’ve fully portrayed the emotions and excitement behind it all. For my sanity, though, I’m giving it my best shot. It’s quite the novel, but it’s ours and I love it.

About once a week, I remember how crazy it is that we actually live in New Hampshire. Before Jacob started the interview process for this new job back in the fall, I can pretty confidently say New Hampshire only crossed my mind when I got the hankering to sing the state song I learned in fifth grade. When he first mentioned he got a call from a pastor up here, I laughed. I didn’t give it much consideration, partly because it seemed crazy, but mostly just because I didn’t want to give the opportunity too much weight yet. It was too early and it wasn’t just a simple move down the street, you know?

The job process slowly moved along, with phone interviews here and there and eventually a very long questionnaire about our lives and several of Jacob’s theological stances. Very few people knew about the opportunity, still, because we thought it was too early and too crazy to tell people just yet. We were almost constantly thinking about it, though. And praying. So much prayer.

It was at this point I started feeling a little sad because I thought I’d have to quit my new job I’d only had for three or four months so far. I loved what I did and what the company stands for – it was a great job to get right out of college and I had already grown to love my coworkers dearly! I shared my life with those people, so you can imagine how difficult it was to keep my over-sharing mouth shut.

At this point, though, my parents didn’t even know about the opportunity! We weren’t sure it was serious enough to tell them and, well, New Hampshire felt a lot farther away from Ohio than Tennessee did… and we weren’t ready to give them that shock quite yet. Looking back, I wish we had clued them in a little sooner, but we held back because we didn’t want to put them through those emotions if we didn’t end up moving.

But then the pastor called and said they’d like to fly us up to visit. And that’s when we realized things were serious and we wished we had already told my parents. But the moment we did tell them was so, so sweet. We Facetimed them together and shared the story and our excitement. They couldn’t have been more supportive. They prayed with us for our visit and the decisions to be made – both for us and the church – and told us how proud they are of us! Needless to say, I cried and felt a surge of excitement as our trip couldn’t come quicker.

We visited at the beginning of December and were absolutely blown away by the Church. The people were incredible – so down to earth and welcoming… and devoted lovers of Christ. It was a packed weekend full of events and dinners and great conversations with many (soon-to-be) new friends and coworkers. After every single meeting or event, we left with the calm confirmation that this would be our new home. We were pumped up about how much God is moving here and using this church to love this city!! We were so exhausted, though, that we hardly talked in our alone time the first two nights! Any chance we had to sleep, we slept.

But the night before we were scheduled to fly home, we both confidently said we would be crazy to say no. We prayed again and went to bed with giddy, excited spirits. The next morning we met with the lead and executive pastors to “debrief” from the weekend and they offered Jacob the job. Although we knew we wanted to make this church and city our new home, we thought about it, prayed about it, and sought counsel from our parents for a few days.

Later that week, Jacob officially accepted the position as Student Pastor and we started the process of figuring out how to move across the country. We planned to move at the end of January, so we needed to quickly give our time at our current jobs. Both of us gave our time much earlier than two weeks, because we were in situations where that was most appropriate. Chickfila was so sad to see Jacob go – it was really fun to see how appreciated and loved he was there.

And although I was extremely excited for this new adventure, I was very sad to say goodbye to my new job and dreading the process of interviewing for new jobs. The day came when I had to tell my boss we were moving, though. I asked him to talk, shut his office door, and told him we were moving. I’m so emotional, I attempted to keep it together and not cry, but I’m sure he could tell I was on the verge. He was so supportive and told me how they would be sad to see me go, but he knew I’d move on to bigger and better things eventually.

But then he asked if I’d be willing to work remotely for a little while, to help with the transition while they looked to fill my position. I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was kind of secretly hoping for that possibility. I was filled with excitement and gratitude that I wouldn’t have to search for a new home and a new job all at once. I could see my stress levels deflating immediately.

All throughout this process, God opened door after door, leading us to New Hampshire. Even though moving across the country is a scary thing, I wasn’t scared. He provided us with two jobs. We knew he was providing an amazing church family to welcome us in and love us. He provided a temporary housing situation for us while we looked for a new apartment. And the place we have now is so perfect for us – we needed to wait to find it.

Now we are 3 months in to living in New Hampshire – and we are still loving it. My “temporary” remote job has even morphed into a “keep as long as I want” temporary remote job. God has provided for us abundantly in every department and I seriously sometimes just can’t even believe it. He is so good, friends. Even the times when I was unsure and doubted that where we were in that moment was right, he provided a way. He filled in the gaps. He connected the dots.

I’m so excited for what is to come. We are finally settling into a routine and feeling like this city really is our home. I’m ready to embrace it, roll up my sleeves and get to work.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7


This verse has been running through my mind often lately. I’m asking God to use our time here – to use us to plant seeds and water seeds, but even more I’m asking him to make things grow.

Thanks for hanging with me all the way through this story. I wish I could have articulated the moments of joy and trust a little more eloquently, but sometimes I can’t translate those feelings into the right words. He is so good, my friends. Thanks for your support and encouragement through the beginning of this journey we’re on!

Sweet gifts & an exam I’m dreading.

Can I just say spring is in the air?? I got my first glimpse of it yesterday. I took my own advice and ran on my lunch break, even though I didn’t want to run, and it was glorious! It was too warm for a jacket after I ran about a mile – I can’t remember the last time I felt that way.

I’ve been saying a lot lately that I want to feel actual warmth when I’m outside, not just cool weather versus freezing weather. Chilly doesn’t say “spring” as much as warm skin does. Well, God answered that prayer.

Running yesterday, with the sun on my face, I felt warmth. Oh man, it was good. I probably say this every year, but I’m so chilled to the bone that spring feels so far away. Part of me almost doubts it will ever come. But I got a sneak peek yesterday, and I’m so relieved.

To top it all off, I have some really great friends. I came home from my run to find a package of goodies on my porch from my dear friend Hayley!! So I’d like to say one more thing – the blogging world is pretty cool. I never thought I’d make a friend through blogging with whom I text multiple times a week and from whom I receive surprise packages of goodies. That’s pretty grand.

Okay, just one last thing – now that we officially have our own apartment here, it’s time we register our cars and get new driver’s licenses! I’m a little worried, though. I have something called lazy eye, which means one of my eyes sees just fine, but the other eye’s vision is horrible. Literally.

I always struggle with the vision test – when they make you look into the binocular-type thing and you can’t cheat at all because it’s physically impossible… Well, I can’t read past the first line with my left eye. Heck, if I close my left eye as I’m typing this, all I see is a blur of black lines running across a white backround. In Tennessee, they let me slide a little bit and said I was fine, but I’m not so sure that will work here. I promise that I really can see just fine, as long as I have both eyes open. 😉

So here’s to praying I don’t need to get glasses and thanking God for spring’s timely approach!

P.S. IT’S FRIDAY!!!!! Enjoy it!


we plant seeds as we go

cleaning move Moving down the street

Growing up is such a funny thing. In the moment, whatever is happening right now feels like the most important thing in the world! And you think I could never forget this moment. But time passes and the memory fades and down the road you only have a faint recollection of how that moment felt.

Growing up and moving from my hometown to another state for college, I thought similar things. A new place filled with new friends and jobs and relationships and churches and priorities. That place quickly became my new home and those people became my people. And then we moved from that town two months ago across the country to New Hampshire.

Now this place is becoming my new home. These people are becoming my people, this church is becoming my church and we are growing into who God needs us to be here, in the part of the United States I never thought twice about before it became home.

What’s the most weird is how community changes. I have several best friends from high school (hi guys! love and miss you TONS!) with whom I’m horrible at staying in contact, but every time we talk or get together it’s like our time apart never existed. They are the friends who I could run to at any moment and they’d be there for me and remind me of truth when I need to hear it. They are the ones who will fly or drive across states to visit and stay connected. One of them is even keeping me accountable with getting my Etsy shop started in the next few weeks! They aren’t a normal part of my day to day life, though. When I lived in Ohio, I couldn’t imagine that ever being the truth.

Now I’m in that season of transition with Tennessee. It’s weird realizing I’m not in the day-to-day lives of my friends, my church, my coworkers, etc. It’s weird realizing (again) that these areas of focus are changing.

And that’s okay. That’s part of life. My high school best friends are scattered all over the place right now – some still in Ohio, some in Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, India (yes, you read that correctly), and now me in New Hampshire. We’ve all created new communities of some sort and met new people. We’ve all shared our stories of how God has redeemed and sanctified us and still he’s teaching us more about him every day. God has taken that group of women and scattered us all over the place, planting his seeds where he sends us.

He’s doing the same with my college friends and my church friends and even my new friends here. At first when thinking about all of this change, I felt sad because I love all of those relationships – friends, school, church, work, family, etc. – but when I see it in the light of God’s story… I’m so glad.

Friends, I’m so thankful for where you are today. Right now. Because God is using you in big ways. He is growing you, disciplining you, and loving you… but even more than that, the people around you see Him in you. That is a beautiful thing. Embrace it and live in it today. Live in him.

IT’S MOVE DAY Y’ALL!

It is move day and I couldn’t be happier!! Except for the fact that the forecast for today is 100% rain. I could do without the rain and wet, dirty shoes walking all over my new apartment… but I’ll take what I can get.

And today we are getting a two bedroom, 1.5 bathroom apartment all to ourselves! Oh, glorious day I’m already dreaming about what to put on the walls and cook in my oven. I’ve really missed having an oven.

In case you’re clueless as to why we’re moving again after moving to New Hampshire, here’s why. This is just a short move down the street to an apartment that will be ours for a long time, if I have anything to say about it!

So today I’m just checking in to say, “Hi!” And to let you know I’m alive and survived the re-packing, since I know you were all worried. 😉

In the mean time, though, if you’re looking for some good reads today… check out my weekend reading post from Saturday! Or my recently renovated “meet” page… or the “best of” 34 Magnolia Street page.

Whatever you’re reading, I hope it’s something good. Because life is too short to read dumb things.