Life Has Been Rather Busy… But I’m Back With the Longest Post Ever!

I cannot believe that it’s been almost two months since my last post!  Wow, what an uncommitted blogger I can be sometimes. I am still hoping to build up my blog and to gain more of a following; which I realize is going to take some serious dedication and effort. I’ve been trying to take pictures of recipes I’ve been trying and adventures I’ve been having so that I can post lots of fun material in the New Year – 2015 is going to be my blogging year!

But enough of the apology for not posting, I’ve got some updates for those of you wondering about what I’ve been so busy doing these last two months! In short, since my last post I’ve traveled to the other side of the country and made several visits to see my family in Maryland. I’ve also had some great explorations around DC, Georgetown and Virginia. 

At the end of October I went to California for almost two weeks. I had the privilege of visiting my friends and loved ones there, worked in the office with my SD loves and celebrated the marriage of two good friends. I was there for Halloween (I took advantage of my freshly cut bangs/hair style and dressed up like a well known cartoon character from the 90s, otherwise known as Daria). I got to visit my favorite place in SoCal: DISNEYLAND! I even got to participate in a yummy family tradition of dear friends of mine; we made homemade donuts and watched an old thriller on Halloween night. Needless to say, I spent some much needed time with my team at work and I got to spend time with so many of my good friends from the six years that I lived there and overall it was a fantastic trip. Here are some pictures from that visit:

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I got back to DC after the first week of November and had a lot to do for work, church stuff and familial commitments – I dove right back into the routine!

Our church plant has been meeting on Sunday mornings at a local Starbucks (this coffee addict likes that of course) and our core group has been meeting on Sunday nights. Our Sunday mornings have been reminiscent of my Youth Ministry days (both as a leader and as a student). It’s been such a unique and fantastic experience to return to this concept of working through our faith “like a child” with pictures and small groups and white boards. I’m excited that our Sunday mornings have actually broken the mold (for now) of what I’ve grown accustom to expect of a church gathering.

Our Sunday nights have been times of much discussion about vision and direction, as well as getting to know one another and encouraging each other in our walks. Everyone has a story and I absolutely LOVE learning about their stories in bits and pieces and even all at once over a coffee or dinner date. I continue to grow in love for this group of people and I am beyond blessed to call them my church family. At times it’s still surreal to me to think that I’m here, living in DC on mission with such an amazing group of people. The Lord truly has spoiled us with such a well-rounded  team and it’s all possible because of Him.

November was full of good times with friends. I had friends from Baltimore come down to Pentagon City for a day and I got to meet up with them for lunch at the mall there (and do a little Christmas shopping!). I also fit in several coffee dates and dinners with people from my church that I had been hoping to connect with before the holiday season.

In other November news, my roomie Mandi and I volunteered with the McLean Bible Church Turkey Outreach and owned the frozen turkey line for a good hour. Emilie and I hosted a Hunger Games movie day at our house a few weeks ago; a group of six women came over and we literally were here from lunch until 9 pm eating and talking. We watched both Hunger Games movies in preparation for the third one being released and then a group of us from our church went to see it the day it came out. It was a blast smuggling Mexican food into the theater (thanks, Derek) and getting lost in the twisted story that is the third Hunger Games movie.

November also brought the opportunity to explore Georgetown since moving to DC. I had a fabulous tour guide; my friend Melissa actually works at Georgetown University, so she knows the area really well. We went to lunch at this delicious french cafe and had delicious savory and dessert crepes. We experienced the water front of Georgetown and enjoyed a caffeinated beverage from Baked and Wired (such clever marketing!). Here are some pictures from my afternoon in G-town and from the outreach at McLean:

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November ended on the best note of course: Thanksgiving weekend!  It’s my favorite holiday for many reasons, but most importantly this year I got to spend it with my family for the first time in a while. Not only were my brother, his girlfriend and their two kids in town from WV, but my little sister and her boyfriend were in town from VA Beach and I loved seeing my older sister and her three kids. What made it more special was that all four of my mother’s children were present for this one. We had a great time and my good friend Emilie joined us for the day. I stayed with my grandma for four days, took my youngest niece out for a birthday shopping spree and dinner, and got to visit some dear friends of mine on my way back to DC. Here are some pictures to commemorate the occasion:

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Enter December  2014. I mean where did the time go?! December came so quickly and here we are eleven days into the month and it feels like the final two weeks have already been used up. I started the month off getting a Christmas tree with the roomies, starting the decorating process of our home and preparing for my trip to California for our final work week of the year. December also started with a much needed coffee date with a great friend from my church (she is a fellow two “n” Jenn) and making cake pops for my niece’s 9th birthday party.

I went back up to Baltimore for her mustache themed party and it was so much fun. I haven’t been able to make it to any of her birthday parties because I’ve always lived too far away; it was important for me to be there and to help make it a special day. I absolutely love this little lady and her siblings. My nieces and nephews are so dear to my heart! Here are some pics from the mustache shenanigans:

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This week I’ve been finalizing my prep for my work trip next week, all while working each day and decorating/baking stuff to prepare for our holiday open house and our church’s Christmas party this weekend. It’s all fun, but as you can see it’s been really busy and I am looking forward to exhaling on January 2, 2016. My trip to Cali should be a good time of productivity and connecting with loved ones and then I’ll be traveling to see family for a few days over the Christmas weekend.

Writing this post has made me stop in the business and reflect on the Lord’s many blessings and realize how I take them for granted all too often. My hope and prayer for this up coming year is that I would be more vocal about my appreciation and love for the people the Lord has allowed me to cross paths with and to walk this life with. I also pray that I would grow in gratitude toward Him for my salvation and His plan for my life and increase the times I allow myself to get lost in knowing Him and getting to know Him better.

Now that the longest post ever is finished, this blessed (and spoiled) woman is going to bed. Good night world!

Our Front Porch of Missional Opportunities

City life consists of busy streets, row homes and front porches! I knew I would enjoy moving to the city, mainly because I like so many things about the fast pace life of city living and all that comes with it; but I didn’t see myself enjoying having a front porch as much as I have. 

I mean, it’s fantastic. I know, I know: it’s just a porch. But it really isn’t just a porch.

IMG_4659Our front porch is this amazing window of opportunity every time we leave our house. When we see a neighbor sitting outside on their porch or walking by with their dog it can be (and has been) the chance to hear more of their story – more of who they are, who they want to be, where they came from and everything in between!

I was inspired to write this post because in less than 24 hours the Lord has provided opportunities for myself (and my roomies) to interact with at least 4-5 of the neighbors on our street. That’s at least 8 people who we didn’t know 7 weeks ago, but who we’ve been given the opportunity to get to know since moving in.

We are beyond blessed to have such a missional gateway. It’s so clear that we have been called to intentionally live life on this street, getting to know these specific souls. It’s really humbling and phenomenal and fun – and all at the same time.

We haven’t even been here for two months and I’ve learned about their jobs, their schooling, their likes and dislikes, their generosity, their curiosity about us moving here and our churches, their habits and more. BUT there is so much more to learn and much more investment to be made – literally it’s limitless.

When I left California the reality of my relational mission field changing so drastically was something I didn’t want to think too much about. Although I was confident making this move was the right decision, my heart was torn about the significant changes that could occur in the deep friendships I have built with co-workers and the relationships Emilie and I had been building with some of our neighbors. It’s still something that I have to come to terms with and balance properly, because physical distance is the reality. However, the Lord has not only been gracious to allow many of those relationships to continue and remain strong across the miles; but He’s also given me a mission field literally and immediately a step outside my front door.

IMG_3365It’s a porch that’s quickly being surrounded by the telling of stories. It’s a stoop that’s becoming common ground to share life experiences with people who were strangers less than two months ago. It’s a set of stairs that’s the setting for a witnessing opportunity. It’s our missional stepping stone and the door to our relational welcome mat (and our literal one).

I can’t wait for us to get a bench out there! 

 

 

 

My First DC Update – Traveling, First Impressions, Anticipations, Vision Casting & More!

So this is my first official post from Washington DC and it feels great. Though I don’t officially live here yet, it feels like home already. I can already imagine myself becoming a Metro regular, learning the back roads to places that will become my favorite getaway spots, and wearing out the soles of my shoes while exploring the hidden treasures I don’t even know exist yet!

Here are a few selfie glimpses of the excitement I’ve experienced so far:

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(Clearly I’m in a silly mood. Clearly Emilie and I are both oozing with excitement here while waiting for our plane to board.)

There is something so intriguing and satisfying about the history surrounding me as I sit in this adorable coffee shop in Arlington, VA. Needless to say I was inspired to post a blog and share about this journey to DC. Our trip has been great so far (all 24 hours of it) and here are a few things I’ve learned already:

  • Southwest is one of my favorite airlines – Free checked bags, pleasant flight attendants and overall an enjoyable experience for travelers like myself.
  • Reading remains one of my favorite past times – Having a busy life makes it difficult to carve out 5 hours of quality reading time. BUT yesterday that’s just what I did; got lost in a good book! It was absolutely delightful and before I knew it I was on chapter 19 of Insurgent and the captains was saying we would be landing soon.
  • SuperShuttle from IAD (Dulles Airport) offer reasonable rates – We needed a ride from the airport (about 30 miles away from our hotel) and Super Shuttle was a great option.  We received quick service, a comfy van to rest in for the ride and it ended up being less than $40 for the two of us. It was VERY convenient for a late night flight.
  • Priceline has some great deals – Steven, the pastor of our new church plant, found a great deal for us on Priceline. Our hotel is beautifully decorated, in a perfect location and overall I’ve been very impressed.
  • Goody’s has HUGE slices of pizza – After getting settled into our hotel room at 12 am EST we realized how hungry we were from a day of traveling.  So of course we ordered pizza after checking out reviews on Yelp for this popular, late night pizza place. It was tasty, it was VERY LARGE, it will last us the entire trip and overall it was good. They did take a little longer than I had hoped to deliver it, but in the end it worked out.
  • Living in a city with a Metro again is going to be fantastic – The thing is, I’ve REALLY missed having easy access to public transportation. It saves gas, and it saves on being stuck in traffic or going around in circles because of the many one way streets around here.
  • Sky is the limit with touring options in DC – We’re about to set out on a little exploration of Arlington Cemetery, Georgetown (can’t wait to do all of these fun things I found here by Rachel Cooper), and whatever else we find! I’ve missed living in a city environment and also living so close to historical and architectural wonders that are so close and within driving distance.
  • I’m a city girl at heart and always will be – I say this a lot, so this isn’t a new revelation. But being here right now reminds me and rekindles in my soul a longing for the person God created in me: a woman who loves fast pace, city life and also loves the varying cultures and lifestyles that comes along with it. I anticipate meeting a mixed group of people on this trip and when I move here and all I can say is “LET THE RELATIONSHIP BUILDING BEGIN!”

An Impression, a Podcast and Clear Confirmations

Don’t judge me, but I sometimes skip ahead and read the end of books or chapters to see what’s coming up, or to see how something ends – it’s so I’ll know if I want to keep reading. I know it’s ridiculous and I’ve missed the point, but if you ask anyone in my life you’ll hear that I tend to ruin surprises. So keeping true to the reputation I’ve made for myself I’ll “skip ahead” and tell you how this story ends:

I’m moving to Washington D.C. at the end of July

For those of you who like the short points of a story, here you go:

  • I had an impression for almost a year to MOVE; with literally no other direction.
  • I resolved to figure out what it meant and went on a “wild goose chase” for 6 months.
  • I finally let it go and kept living life as I had prior to the 6 month search.
  • About a year after the initial impression I heard this podcast.
  • I figured it couldn’t hurt to read the journey to DC site. So I did and I was hooked.
  • I emailed Steven &Tiffany and started the “what if conversations.”
  • After lots of prayer, lots of undeniable confirmations and an abundance of guidance and support from people I love, it’s become clear that the Lord is moving me to D.C. to be a part of the Redeemer City Church plant and to be closer to my family.
  • Here’s a twist for you: I get to keep my roommate. Yes, that’s right. To add to the craziness of this story, God decided to bless me by connecting my personal journey with my friend  & roommate’s journey.  But, I’ll let her share that with you (Read Emilie’s story).

Finally, for those of you who enjoy actually reading the details of the story, here’s chapter 1 for you: If someone would have told me a year and a half ago that things in my life would be as they are right now and would be changing as much as they have, well I wouldn’t have believed them. I wouldn’t have doubted the possibility; of course we all know that change is a necessary and inevitable part of life. But I would most certainly have been resistant to accept just how many changes would need to happen to bring me to the point of acceptance, surrender, release and joy about what was going to happen next. You see, I am a very critical thinker (too skeptical at times in actuality) and I’ve been told I rarely make rash decisions. So what I’ve shared above may seem out of character for me in that regard, but in fact I think it fits right into God’s MO in my life. He’s done this before. In September 2012 all I had was an unsettling impression of the word “move” from the Lord. I had absolutely no idea what it meant and so began my many conversations with God about what He was asking of me and why I had to wait to know. My soul wrestled over the need to interpret this impression. I wondered if I should move churches, move jobs, move apartments, move my furniture around, or literally move my body from where I was sitting. My failed attempts to interpret what it meant left me no choice but to surrender the need to be in control and to know what “move” meant right then and there. So I reluctantly let it go. It’s funny how when you let go of something you’ve been anxious about the Lord does exactly what He says he would: provides peace. When I least expected it the Lord used a podcast from The Village Church in Dallas, Texas to rock my world and to remind me that He wasn’t finished with that impression from a year ago. Wow, I’ve got to be honest and share that I didn’t see that one coming. IMG_9085 IMG_2841 (Some of our team over Thanksgiving) Now here I am preparing to move across the country (for the second time in my life) and I couldn’t have written this story as it’s developing if I tried. God works in mysterious and incredible ways.  If you don’t believe me, just wait until you read my next post.