The Big Move

I’ve moved far too many times in my life.

  • From Hayward, CA to Red Bluff, CA (and then another move within Red Bluff).
  • From Red Bluff to Azusa (far too many moves to count while I was in college!) – 525 miles.
  • From Azusa to Glendora (and two moves within Glendora).
  • From Glendora to Harrisburg, PA (five moves since I moved to Pennsylvania) – nearly 3,000 miles.

Each move has brought with it new adventures, new challenges, new surroundings. Most moves were welcomed, though some came from circumstances I could not control.

This move is different than all of the above.

This move means leaving the home we fixed up, the home where we became a family, the home from which Tori went to Heaven. So many memories in less than four years.

As of this morning, we owned this house for three years, eleven months, and eighteen days. 1,449 days. I haven’t lived anywhere this long since I left my parents’ house when I was eighteen.

And I think that’s partly why I have struggled with the idea of moving. I know it’s the plan, and I know it’s a great one because of the financial progress we will make. My heart hasn’t been communicating with my mind on this one.

But, it is finished. And I feel like this morning brought me closure. 

Let the new adventure begin ❤️

We Bought A House!

As many of you know, Brennan and I are now homeowners. After renting small apartments (less than 600 sq. ft) for the first two years of our marriage (in an effort to live frugally and eliminate our debt), we are now the owners of an 1,800 sq. ft house! It isn’t a perfect house — it does need some “love” in a few areas–but it is perfect for us and for our future family.

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During our home inspection, the inspector continually smiled at us as we expressed our gratitude for the things the house offers that we have missed and appreciate so much…things like:

  • a dishwasher
  • a laundry room (no more laundromats!)
  • central air conditioning/heat with a thermostat
  • the ability to buy a refrigerator with an ice maker
  • our own backyard and deck
  • ceiling fans in every room!
  • bigger closets than we’ve had thus far in our marriage

It’s truly the little things in life that are worth celebrating.

It doesn’t take much to make us happy because our contentment isn’t found in “stuff”–it is found in immaterial things. We don’t need a brand new house that is perfect from the beginning–all we need is a place to call our own and to make our own. God has blessed us with a house that was a tremendous deal (worth far more than what we paid for it), and it’s one that we can easily afford (only slightly more than our rent now) on just Brennan’s income. We are so blessed and so excited to transform this house into our home!

Day Five: I’m Thankful For…Church Family.

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 have made two major moves in my life: the first was from Northern to Southern California (523 miles) for college in 2001; the second was from Southern California to Pennsylvania (3,000 miles) in 2008. Both moves were significant landmarks in my life, and both placed me far from my family, friends and comfort zone.

However, God is eternally faithful and He has continually brought me “church family” to take care of me, befriend me, and love me.

Within my first month of college, I found the First Baptist Church of Glendora and the friendships made there still stand strong today. The bond that I have with so many people there will last forever and I am so thankful for God’s leading! I know that I still have “family” in Glendora. I was so blessed to be surrounded by like-minded musicians and we made some incredible music together. I was surrounded by friends my age who were seeking to know Jesus more and more and they sharpened me. They encouraged me. They were sad to see me move in 2008 but recognized God’s hand in the journey and supported me all the way. I love them dearly.

Within my first month of moving to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I found East Shore Baptist Church. From the first time I walked through those doors until now, I felt welcomed and loved. As soon as people discovered how far I had come and how far my family was from me, they stepped in and took care of me. They supported and encouraged me. They helped me find a husband 😉 (haha). When I lost my job, they ensured that I was fed and taken care of. One Sunday I found $200 in my Bible–which was exactly what I needed to finish paying my rent for the month. I have no idea who blessed me that day, but I am SO thankful.

The pastors allowed me to begin a ministry to the singles in the church (which is, ironically, where I became acquainted with Brennan) as this was a large people group within the church that was not being served. They encouraged me to use my gifts for the good of the body (even when it was uncomfortable–like playing guitar for worship…which I did every Sunday, two services, for two years and do all the time now) and never discouraged me from following God’s leading.

They allowed me to be on the leadership team for an amazing church plant called The Well at East Shore. I was the “Community Projects Coordinator” and was able to live out two of my passions: missions and serving. I planned community service projects for our church that we did the third Thursday of every month (that’s the night we met in order to reach those who can’t or won’t go to church on Sundays)…we chose to go BE the church on those nights instead of just sitting in church every week. It was a powerful way to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our community.

We eventually felt led to discontinue The Well, but God definitely had plans for our little church plant: It was through The Well that I met the Morrisons and the Shays. They came up from North Carolina to see Harrisburg in March 2010 as they were praying about where to plant a church. I helped show them around Harrisburg and we were able to show them where we were seeing God at work–EVERYWHERE! They felt led to come join God in the great work He is doing here and moved here in 2011. Brennan and I are now part of the church that they planted, Redeeming Grace Church, and they have become such a wonderful blessing to our lives. Redeeming Grace has brought us another wonderful church family and we are so blessed to call RGC our church home.

God has proven His love to me in so many ways, but this is one of the greatest: wherever He has called me to go, He has brought people alongside me who love and encourage me, and I love and encourage them as well. He is so faithful to care for us!

Thank you, Jesus, for providing amazing Christians who become family to me wherever I go…

It’s October…

Autumn is here, the chilly temperatures signal that Winter is fast approaching…and the change in seasons isn’t the only change happening around here. 🙂

Change #1: I am unemployed…and it is completely God’s timing and plan! My last day of work was September 9th, when I was essentially forced to quit. What a blessing this has been! I had been praying for months for guidance from the Lord regarding His plan for me, regarding the next step that I should take.

I spent a day praying and fasting in August regarding my job, and the Lord told me (and those people I had asked to pray with me) “not yet–you must wait”…so I did. And He has proved yet again to be faithful! What will I do next? I have no idea. I do know that I don’t want to have a career in politics anymore–so now I have to figure out what God wants me to do. I know that I was brought to Pennsylvania for a reason (well, more than one!), and I am SO excited to see what God is going to do! 🙂

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”                         –Philippians 4:6-7

Change #2: Our new church has launched! The Well at East Shore had its inaugural gathering last Thursday night, and it is SO exciting to see how the Lord is working! This is not your typical church–and not just because we meet on Thursdays. Every third Thursday, we are going out to do community service projects–being the hands and feet of Jesus and “being” the church rather than just “doing” church. My job is to coordinate the projects, and I LOVE it. It’s SO awesome! Check out the link to learn more about what we are doing!

Change #3: I am dating an amazing, wonderful, Jesus-loving man! 🙂 He is absolutely incredible, and I look forward to the future with great expectations!

I just thought I should update my blog since it’s been a month 🙂

All in all, life is great…God is awesome…and I still love living in Pennsylvania. 🙂

From California to Pennsylvania…

On July 14th, 2008, I drove away from Glendora, CA and the life I had known for seven years (and the state in which I had resided my entire life). My mom and I headed east, with maps in hand and a great adventure in store. But the biggest adventure awaited me at the end of the journey: building a new life in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania practically from scratch. With no job, no church, and a few friends in the Harrisburg area, I trusted the Lord and I took the first step with faith that He would prove to be faithful. Eight states and 3,000 miles later, I arrived!

A year ago today, I was saying tearful goodbyes to my best friends, and the people who had walked beside me through so many experiences. We had an evening of bluegrass and fellowship, sharing music and memories, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to those I love. Today, I am surrounded by new friends who have blessed my life beyond my wildest dreams; friends who hold me accountable in my walk with the Lord and who are seeking Him fervently; friends who are so genuine, so loving, so encouraging…and God has shown His faithfulness through them.

A year ago today, I left my church in Glendora after being a part of it for six years. I came to Pennsylvania praying that the Lord would bring me a church where I could serve and grow, a church that was seeking to love Jesus more and to be Jesus to the community in everything they did…and He, again, blessed me beyond my wildest expectations! My church has truly become FAMILY to me…I love serving there, I love worshiping there, and I am SO blessed to be a part of East Shore Baptist Church! And God again showed His faithfulness here…

All of this came after I had spent many months praying for the Lord to make me uncomfortable–for Him to present situations that would create growth in my relationship with Him…and I never dreamed that would mean moving across the country to a relatively unknown place (I had only been to Harrisburg three or four times before I moved), leaving everything behind. But, that is sometimes what He requires of us! And I am so glad that He answered my prayers for discomfort, for the joy that has come from these experiences and from my deepened walk with Him is immeasurable.

People consistently ask me why on earth I would leave “wonderful California” for Pennsylvania…and the best answer I can give is this: God said to go! 🙂 Pennsylvania is where I am called to be, and I love it more each and every day! Each state has its pros and cons, and no state is truly better than any other, in my opinion. After living in California for 25 years, I was more than ready to experience something new.

God is faithful, and when we listen to His voice, we are blessed beyond compare. :0)

One Year Ago…

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One year ago today, I flew out to Pennsylvania to begin the process of moving. According to my driver’s license, tomorrow (April 16th)  is my “anniversary” of being a resident. 🙂 It’s so crazy to think that it’s already been a year (kind of)! When I came out last April, I signed my lease (and met my roommate), began job-hunting, and got pneumonia. 🙂 Besides the pneumonia, it was a great week out here! 

God is SO good, and SO faithful.

Many people asked why I was moving to a new place, where I really didn’t know anyone, so far away from family…and I told them that I knew God would bring “family” into my life, and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that He would take care of me. When I moved to Southern California, He brought “family” into my life. When I spent two summers in Williamsport, PA, He brought “family” into my life…

…and He most definitely has done the same for me here in Harrisburg! My church has become like family–and I absolutely adore them! There are a few families in particular who have really “adopted” me, and I have felt so loved, so appreciated…and I simply adore them. I have been blessed with having amazing roommates, amazing friends here in Pennsylvania…and I really can’t complain. 🙂 I even survived my first “real” Winter! Haha.

Thank you, Lord, for leading me here to Pennsylvania…I am so blessed, far beyond I could have ever imagined! 🙂

Looking Back at 2008…

This has probably been the most crazy year of my life thus far. It has been filled with trials and challenges, but also with joy and growth…I’m 26 years old today–and I’m now closer to 30 than 20. Such a strange thought! I don’t feel like I could possibly be nearly 30, but I guess that’s a good thing. 🙂

In December 2007, I began praying that God would make me “uncomfortable.” I realized that I was not growing in my faith because I was comfortable where I was in life…when you look at the example of any biblical character, they grew the most when God challenged them and presented new situations to them. So, I began to pray that He would do the same with me. And He did not disappoint. The most obvious example of that is that I now live in Pennsylvania, where I’m experiencing my first “real Winter”. 🙂 The growth that has occurred this year is remarkable, and I can’t wait to see where I am at this time next year! I have learned that being comfortable is overrated–and boring, actually. 🙂

In 2008:

I attended the “Passion” conference in L.A., by myself, and was forever changed by that event…I was given an opportunity to teach in Dubai for the 2008-2009 school year…I had to quit my job at ADP because they changed their mind about giving me time off to lead my mission team to New Orleans…I decided to move to Pennsylvania without a job, trusting the Lord in His guidance…I spent six days driving across the United States with my Mom (and saw things like the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, and other things in the nine states we drove through)…I went to seven new states this year, bringing the total to 31…I had pneumonia for 13 weeks…I spent an amazing month in New Orleans, serving the Lord and serving others…I took about 15,000 pictures…I spent 5 months unemployed and watched the Lord provide for me in miraculous ways…I now have an incredible job with a growing lobbying firm, where I can finally use my degree and my passions…I got in my first car accident, and had to buy a new car…I learned a valuable lesson about friendships–it’s okay to let some go, because some people are “toxic” to our lives…I drove in snow for the first time…I’ve lost some friends and gained new ones, and my life has been so blessed by my new friends in Pennsylvania…I’ve learned that it’s okay to accept help from others…I found a new church here in PA that is healthy, missions-focused, and I’m ready to dive in and serve…

2009 is going to be an interesting year, that’s for sure. Two of my good friends and I decided to give up ice cream (defined as anything that is “frozen dairy”) for a year. It will most definitely be the hardest thing I’ve given up! However, it will be a constant reminder that I’m trying to be even more healthy when it comes to food than I already am, and I am going to succeed this year in losing the weight I gained while I had pneumonia. 🙂 So, I’m eating a lot of ice cream today! If the Moravian shoe thing I tried (see prior posts) is accurate (Ha!), then I’ll be engaged by next Christmas. Not counting on that, but I wouldn’t mind! 🙂

Most of all, I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do in my life and in the lives of those around me. He called me here to Central Pennsylvania for a reason, and I’m excited to see what He has in store! 🙂