I Wasn’t Looking for a Job, but I Found One…

Last Thursday evening, as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I saw an ad that caught my attention.

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I found it at the perfect time, really. I had realized recently that I was feeling a little down because I’ve been bored. I have never done well with being bored, which is why I have played seven instruments in my life, among other examples. I’m in a season of waiting for many things – waiting for my book to be in print, waiting for the twins to be born, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Brennan would ask me how my day was and I often felt like I had no idea because it didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything. I didn’t like that.

I haven’t worked at The Spa since May 15th because of the IVF process and because of our busy schedules over the summer. Once they were fully staffed I decided to go inactive and enjoy some time off. This allowed me to focus on running the AirBnB over the summer, finishing my manuscript, resting during the first trimester (which was SO necessary), and other things that came my way.

I’ve been slowly letting go of major responsibilities on my plate in preparation for the arrival of the twins. My last day of leading worship at Transcend Church is December 31 (also my birthday 😉 ), and that will be the last big thing for me to stop doing. It feels strange, but necessary, as my hands are about to be very full with two babies. 🙂

This has left me with a lot of time on my hands, and while it’s been great to spend my days watching Hallmark Christmas movies and relaxing (while also doing chores and things intermittently), I began to notice that I wasn’t super happy. Not depressed, not miserable, just not as happy as normal. I’m bored! 

So, this ad. It was for a job at The Hershey Story, the amazing museum about the life of Mr. Hershey and the town/company he created. Even better, it was for “Chocolate Tasting Associates.” No, that doesn’t mean that I would get paid to taste chocolate, but it’s almost as great! Essentially, it’s like being a “chocolate bartender” because these employees serve “shots” of warm drinking chocolates from specific places around the world to guests.

Did you know that cacao tastes drastically different depending on its country of origin? It’s amazing! That’s why Hershey blends beans to create a specific flavor.

I went ahead and applied, thinking it would be fun and interesting.

The next morning, I heard back (so fast!) and was asked to come in for an interview. I think I caught their attention because of my vast experience with the Milton Hershey School, The Hotel Hershey, and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, but I’m not really sure.

I had an interview yesterday and was offered a job on the spot – and yes, I was upfront about being pregnant! 🙂

It will be super part-time, flexible, and interesting. It will be easy physically, stimulating socially, and fulfilling intellectually. As many of you know, I LOVE telling people about Mr. Hershey and the amazing man he was. Now I will have another opportunity to share stories with guests who may ask questions. I suppose it will use my history degree to some extent 😉

I will be cross-trained to teach in the Chocolate Lab and to run the Tastings bar, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get out of the house a few hours a week until the twins arrive.

I had orientation today which was completely self-guided and fun. I spent time walking through the museum, did a class in the Chocolate Lab (where we used milk and white chocolate to create a festive reindeer), tasted chocolate, and enjoyed the atmosphere of The Hershey Story. As an introvert, it was exactly what I needed!

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I wasn’t looking for a job, but I found one, and it’s going to be great.

A Dream Years in the Making

Brennan and I have lived in four different ZIP codes since we got married.

17070 (New Cumberland) – above a (loud, busy) pub. On the third floor, with no air conditioning. Quite possibly the worst decision of our marriage (thus far)! 

(Photo credit: PennLive)

17033 (Union Deposit/South Hanover Township/Hershey) – perfect location, cute second floor apartment:

 

17109 (Lower Paxton Township/Harrisburg) – our first home purchase/flip/sale, the home where Tori lived and where she left this earth. 

17112 (Lower Paxton Township/Linglestown) – with our friends in their in-law apartment for four months as we waited to move to Hershey.

Two apartments, a house, and an in-law apartment as temporary transition space.

As our lives became increasingly rooted in Hershey, we knew this is where we wanted to settle. To be close to work, to Milton Hershey, to our doctor/chiropractor, nearly everything in our lives would be a true blessing.

Settling down and putting down roots is a daunting concept to me for some reason, but a few years ago I realized that I would be happy to live in Hershey for a long time. Brennan agreed.

So, we began to dream. We figured out the area where we wanted to live and “told God” the quadrant boundaries (haha).

We knew that it would take a miracle of sorts to be able to purchase a home in downtown Hershey given the market values of homes there. It’s expensive.

We refuse to have a huge mortgage because we don’t want to work just to pay for a house; so, we did the math and figured out our maximum purchase price. But, we also knew that our price limit would make it a challenge to find a home there.

After Tori went to Heaven, we focused on finishing our home and listing it on the market. It went under contract two weeks after we put it on the market and we closed on December 8, 2016. Once it was under contract we made arrangements with our friends, Lauren and Casey, to live in their in-law apartment until we could figure out what was next. We are so thankful for their hospitality.

On Thanksgiving day, two weeks before closing, we got a message from a friend of ours who owns several properties in Hershey. Steve said that he knew we were selling our house and wondered if we would be interested in one of his properties in Downtown Hershey. He said it was a two-unit property (that we could easily convert back into one home eventually) with a tenant upstairs and that the tenant’s rent paid more than half of the mortgage. His asking price was just a bit above the limit we had set, but we knew that with a tenant we could easily make it work.

Remember the quadrant we asked God if we could live in? This house is five houses outside of the boundaries we had set. We couldn’t help but laugh because it was a great reminder that God is in control!

We drove by the property the next day and fell in love – not only with the property but with the location. This was confirmed even in the littlest of details: a red tree in the backyard, hydrangeas in the front yard, a porch swing, and a charming house full of history.

This house was built in 1900 by Mr. Hershey for his supervisors. The entire original town of Hershey was built by him, because he wanted his employees to live in a model town, and he made homeownership a reality for his workers – something that was previously out of reach. We love Mr. and Mrs. Hershey so to live in a home that was built because of them is incredible.

After we closed on our house, we drove straight to Hershey to tour the house and immediately knew this was the house for us. And the process began.

It took (WAY) longer than we expected, but as of today, Brennan and I are homeowners again!



We were allowed to start working on the house prior to closing and we hired our friends, John and Briana, to help us with refinishing the floors, reorganizing the kitchen (read: essentially gutting and repositioning everything), tiling the bathroom, and eventually they will help us remodel the basement and add a bathroom down there. My parents painted the living room, kitchen (including cabinets), and bathroom and were a tremendous help with so many other things during their two week stay.

Here are some before and after pictures of the kitchen (click to enlarge):

The tenant upstairs moved out due to family situations, so we have decided to list the apartment on AirBnB for the summer to test the waters. Given our amazing location, it’s likely that we can bring in more income from AirBnB than by having a tenant, so we’re going to try! Plus, I’ve long wanted to run a “bed and breakfast” so this would be ideal.

We are finally starting to feel settled, and it’s a great feeling to know that we won’t be moving for a VERY long time (Lord willing). ❤ Hershey is now our home.

Stillness 

Perhaps it’s because I wrote furiously throughout the summer in order to finish my manuscript. Perhaps it’s because I now work outside the home and am forced to speak with guests continually throughout the day, using up my “daily word count” quickly. Perhaps it’s because, with Tori gone, my purpose for writing has changed and I still haven’t quite figured out what’s next.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been struggling to write lately. I haven’t felt inspired.

I want to write, I want to process life with my writing as I have always done. But, I’m simply unable to do so right now. It feels forced.

I rarely comment or post statuses on social media. I rarely blog. I think all the time and am constantly processing things; the difference is that I’ve been keeping it to myself instead of adding my words to a world in need of less noise.

I haven’t been doing this intentionally, but it has happened and I’ve been trying to figure out why. 

Perhaps it’s been my way of creating some stillness and peace in a world and a life so busy and chaotic.

Perhaps it’s simply a reflection of the peace my heart feels most days. 

Whatever the cause, I’m still here. We’re still here. Life is busy, mostly with good things, and we have some exciting things on the horizon. 

We’re preparing to move to downtown Hershey within the next month (!!) which will change so much about our lives – a drastically shortened commute time, becoming landlords, being part of a community that we’ve wanted to join for years, and being able to walk almost everywhere we need to go.

My friend, Jenn, and I are waiting for the official call that will start our LuLaRoe business and cannot wait to see what this venture brings! Brennan and I hope that this will help us fully fund our IVF and adoption expenses. You can check out our page here

Speaking of that, we hope to begin the IVF process (again) in the next month or so. We need $10,000 up front to start and we have raised $8,000! Praise the Lord! We cannot wait to be parents again. 

I am hoping that March will be the month for pitching my manuscript to publishers. 

We’re quickly approaching the one year anniversary of Tori’s heaven-going and aren’t sure how we will spend that day (March 27), but I’m pretty sure giraffes will be involved.

I’m hoping to find my voice once more and to write about life and seeing God work again. But, for now, I am being still (Psalm 46:10) and doing what I can to focus on the Lord and where He is leading. ❤ Good things are in store.

Tori’s Bucket List: See Reindeer at Hersheypark

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to go to Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane. Brennan and I have gone almost every year that we have been together. We love the lights, the music, and, of course, the reindeer!

Since my parents surprised us by flying in for the weekend, we decided to go tonight instead of at the end of December as we had planned. We may go again then, too 😉

Our first stop was the reindeer, since that was the bucket list adventure we wanted to complete. Tori watched the reindeer move around and enjoy their dinner. She was alert and her eyes got big often. It was so neat to see.

We enjoyed seeing Tori’s reactions to the lights and the music. It wasn’t too cold, thankfully – about 40 degrees – and we kept Tori bundled up so that she was cozy.

I forgot my real camera at home so my iPhone had to suffice. ❤

Thanks to Karina Boucher for providing the tickets for my parents!

Day in Hershey

We had a fabulous day in Hershey today! 

We started with breakfast at The Circular at The Hotel Hershey and it was fantastic!   

We then took a tour of the Hotel and enjoyed the beauty of the architecture.

    
    
    
 
No trip to Hershey is complete without a trip to Chocolate World! This was our first time taking Tori out in her stroller and she did pretty well.

   
    
 
Grandpa Ken had to teach her all about candy 😄

  
We then took the trolley tour around Hershey and it was so much fun.

    
   
Our house is completely full and we love it that way! 

Tomorrow is Tori’s birthday party and it will be so much fun!

Day Nine: I’m Thankful For…Mr. Milton S. Hershey.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

I used to say that if I could meet any historical figure it would be James Madison. While I would still love to sit down with Mr. Madison, I have a new answer to that question: Mr. Milton S. Hershey, truly one of the world’s greatest men.

In a world filled with greed and selfishness, hearing stories and accounts of truly amazing and generous people is very refreshing. Mr. Hershey fits the definition of selflessness.

In the past two years of working for one of his companies (and now for his school), I have learned so much about the man and his vision. The more I learn, the more I love and respect him, even though I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him. Without Mr. Hershey’s vision and determination this would likely still be a rural area with a struggling economy, and thousands of boys and girls would never have been impacted by the school that he and his wife began. And it all started with chocolate. 🙂

Now that we work for the Milton Hershey School (caring for HIS kids), I am even more thankful for what he left as a legacy (to read more about why we love working for MHS, see this post). He was a man determined to put others before himself and he was always focused on giving his wealth where it was most needed. These kids have a safe, loving environment to grow up in at no cost to them or their families…all because Mr. Hershey didn’t see wealth as something to hold on to, but something to give to those in need.

He built the entire town of Hershey for his employees–that they might have a great place to live, work, and play. I have loved living in Hershey for the past 14 months, surrounded by such a rich history.

There’s so much more that could be said about him. I’m so thankful that he was not blinded by his wealth, nor was he selfish. Instead, he gave it all away so that “his kids” would be funded indefinitely and ensured of a better life. And that’s a great reason to buy Hershey’s Chocolate 🙂