Alone With My Thoughts

It’s quiet here… a little too quiet. My family is sound asleep, and I’m still wide awake with no hope of getting shut-eye any time soon. Some nights I can zone out while watching a back episode of Dr. Oz. Other nights I prefer to cuddle up with a warm blanket and a good book. Tonight is different. Tonight, I am left alone with my thoughts. The what-ifs and what-nows that have been creeping into my mind for the past two days, making me doubt and causing a slight tic in my right eye. These last two days have been less than desirable, to put it politely. I feel frustrated and out of control, yet somehow, I think I’m supposed to feel this way. I need to remember  that things could always be worse.  This is just one more hurtle I have to deal with. It seems nearly impossible to handle at the moment, but I will deal with it. I haven't a clue how, but it’s what I’m supposed to do, so I’ll do it.

So, I 'm going to shut down this computer and be alone with my thoughts for a little while longer.

Two Hours Can Last A Lifetime

Back to school, breakfast in bed, build your own... What do these things have in common (aside from the letter 'B')? They're all themes from our Family Nights. Chris and I came across this little bit of genius on one of my favorite blogs, Whittaker Woman. The idea is to set aside time one day out of the week to focus on your family. No phones, no computer, no texting, no tweeting, no facebook... Just time alone with your family. It doesn't have to be a full day of activities - a couple of hours will do. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive - PB & J and a picnic on the living room floor is perfectly sufficient. The important thing is that you focus solely on your family.

These were some of the best nights our family has had together. Our children started looking forward to every Tuesday, and honestly, so did Chris and I. It was just plain fun! Unfortunately, we let life get in the way, and the Family Nights stopped. One night missed because of a busy schedule turned into two, then three, then four. I completely forgot about Family Night for a while. Life was "just too busy."

Since moving, our schedules have become absolutely insane! Half the time, I don't know whether we're coming or going. Don't get me wrong - we love what we're doing here, but there aren't many days out of the week that we have the time to do anything but run, run, run. Except Tuesdays. Chris works weekends, so he gets Tuesday as his day off. *Insert lightbulb moment here.* We did it before, why not do it again? Since Tuesday is Chris' day to relax - and since Momentum stresses the importance of family - what better day to begin? So, starting next Tuesday, Family Nights are officially back on!

How often have you let life get in the way of what's really important? Taking two hours out of your day once a week to eat, have fun, and enjoy real conversation with your family can create memories that last a lifetime. Just imagine the impact this will have on your kids, your spouse, and even you. What a great way to say, "I love you, you're important to me." It's better than a trip to Disney. Really. Don't believe me? Try it.

Forty-Pound Cookies and Meeting Mo

I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Really. This past month has just been crazy!

The move went far smoother than I expected. We moved in during monsoon season, so it would seem - heavy, heavy rains during our first few days here kept all of us inside. Then came the heat wave. This led to more days inside and plenty of whining from our preschooler, who was desperate to play in her new backyard. Those first few days helped to get most of the unpacking done, at least. Words cannot express how relieved I am to have some sense of normalcy again! Can I just tell you how much I hate unpacking? Just looking at all of those boxes gave me a slight tic. I don't know what I would have done if Chris wasn't here to help me knock it out. You'd likely find me huddled in the corner with a big batch of cookies, muttering incoherently and adding another forty pounds onto my already chubby behind. Thankfully, most everything is put away, and I have yet to break out the chocolate chips.

We attended our first Mo Group a few days after the move. Mo Groups are small groups of people who get together in peoples' homes once a week to eat great food, play games, laugh at each other, and talk about how the Bible can apply to our lives and how to put that into action. The Mo Group we attended is called Revolution. This was also our first taste of serving Cleveland as we helped build shelving units for one of the local elementary schools. (Did I mention Momentum is big on serving the community?) These units were quite possibly worse than anything from Ikea. It took longer to build eight prefabricated shelving units than it did to load our moving truck! It was for the school, though - which is the bigger picture. All in all, we had a great time. Even our four-year-old helped - she can wield a screwdriver with the best of them! We plan to check out a few more Mo Groups over the next month to see which group we fit in with best... I’m sure I’ll be posting about those experiences, too.

We also discovered that our cell phone did not get adequate coverage in our neighborhood, and we could regularly be found wandering the front yard in hopes of grabbing enough bars every time we wanted to take a call. I don't recommend doing this for a variety of reasons. After three weeks of this, we gave up and finally got iphones. Our neighbors are grateful. Now if I can just figure out how to use the thing...

We're loving Cleveland life. We've met some amazing people, had some great experiences, and can't wait to get more involved. God is definitely up to something in Cleveland.

Funny How Things Work Out

This is a giant leap of faith
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone

"I'm Letting Go" by Francesca Battistelli.  I've heard this song numerous times before, but hearing it today made me pause. For the first time, this song spoke to me in a huge way...

Last weekend, we made the trip to Cleveland to sign the lease on our new home. It still amazes me how we came across this place. Chris called on several rentals and really didn't get very far. Hardly any callbacks, and most of those we had talked to were pretty grumpy people who showed little interest in renting to us. Chris did manage to talk to a woman named Colleen about a house we had driven past when we visited Cleveland a few weeks ago. We made an appointment to meet with the landlady, but when we got there the house wasn't quite right for us. Colleen told us of two additional properties she was renting in the same neighborhood, and so we decided to take a look. One of those properties seemed promising, so we started with background checks and the like. Through all of this, we learned that Colleen's sister-in-law is related to the executive assistant, Joyce, at Momentum! What's the likelihood of that happening?! 

Signing the lease was one of those leaps of faith that stretch far beyond my comfort zone. When Chris and I first started looking for a house to rent, we did so fully aware that the numbers weren't adding up. You see, we have committed to raising Chris' salary for the next year, like missionaries. Yes, we are relying on financial support from others. A total leap of faith. And at the moment, the support was just trickling in. That's not to say we don't appreciate those who had made donations to us - we really do. Far more than most people may realize. But numbers don't lie - there just wasn't enough support to justify signing a one-year lease on a three bedroom house. I won't lie and say that we weren't concerned - we have two children. We need to be able to clothe and feed them and provide a safe place for them to live. But we signed the lease anyway, knowing that if this is truly what God has planned for us that He would provide a way for us to make it work. When we returned home that evening, a few more offers of support were waiting for us! We're still no where near being fully funded, but those donations are a huge sigh of relief.

I think Chris and I have been called every kind of crazy since we first announced our decision to follow what we feel is God's leading to relocate to Cleveland. A lot of people are concerned about our welfare (and possibly our mental stability). But we have done our homework. We know what it's going to take to make ends meet. We are well aware that we are moving to a city that is in serious trouble. Rest assured, we are not crazy. At least, not certifiable. God never said it would be easy, He just wants us to trust that He knows what He is doing. And so we do... and will.

So, tell me... When's the last time you've ever taken a leap of faith?

Got Ya Covered!

It's amazing how much stuff a family acquires over a five-year period. And most of the time, you never realize just how much stuff you have (or how much you really *don't* need) until it's time to pack it all in boxes and move it to a new home...

In preparing for Moving Day, Chris and I have attempted to purge the house of all of the stuff we no longer need or want. We refuse to move things that will only sit in storage, never to see the light of day again. Even with countless bags and boxes and furniture marked for giveaway, we still have a lot of stuff that will be making the move with us.

Which leads us to this:


and this:

Yup. That would be bubble wrap. A lot of bubble wrap. So much, in fact, that Chris could not fit the whole roll into our car! Nope! Several layers of this ginormous bad boy had to be peeled off and shoved unceremoniously into the trunk of the car while the rest of the roll took up the back seat. The *entire* back seat. At least my hubby was well-protected on the ride home from work. :)

When it comes to packing fragile items (husbands and children not included), I am emphatically anti-newspaper. I don't understand how wrapping a thin sheet of paper around something breakable is actually going to protect it. I prefer something with substance. Something that is soft and cushy and, logically, more efficient than a flimsy piece of nothing to keep my beloved tchotchkes from becoming a recyclable mess. (Not that there's anything wrong with recycling.) And, let's face it, bubble wrap is so much more fun to use! Are we really going to use it all? Hopefully not for this move alone. Though it will likely provide hours of fun for the kiddos post-move... And I hear it's a great stress-reliever. Cheaper than therapy, at any rate.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

Three years ago, if you had asked me where I planned to be and what I would be doing today, it would never have occurred to me that I would be anywhere but where I’ve always been: In Pittsburgh with my family, chasing after my kids, playing housewife, and being actively involved at church. I’ve never had the urge to willingly move outside of the city I grew up in, away from everything familiar. And yet…

After being a part of our church home of two years, Chris {hubby} and I began to feel God urging us to do more than play the roles of worship leader and Sunday School teacher, to do more than attending Sunday morning services and participating in a weekly small group study. Now, don’t get me wrong – we loved being involved. Our small group was more than just a Bible study – they were, and still are, like family to us. But God was pressing us to do something more, something different than the same old same old. And so, this summer we will be moving to Cleveland, OH to join Momentum Christian Church. Chris is taking a one-year residency in Creative Arts at Momentum, and we hope to eventually move on to help start a new church with God’s guidance.

You would think it would be a difficult decision to make – uprooting the family, leaving “home,” and on top of it all, moving into to the place where no self-respecting Steelers fan would be caught dead outside of football season – but instead, this is one of the easiest decisions Chris and I have ever had to make. We know God is in control.

So, the next logical step in this journey was to start a blog. A chance to share our adventures with family and friends (and whoever stumbles across this blog, as well).