The Really Real

Here’s a little bit of the real. The real, the truth, is changing…always. All of the things I’ve said to this point remain and are as true as could be when they were first said. At the same time, there are days that I don’t even know what to think.

This isn’t a vacation. The weather has already proved to be so much better, the scenery is a change of pace and we get to discover new things everyday. What a dream, right? Well yes, but dreams don’t last. 

It’s good and it’s different and we’re doing alright. But we still have hard decisions, we don’t really have friends and we don’t always know where our life is going. We miss our loved ones. We have ridiculous car troubles (yes, another instance occurred last week, too insane to talk about). We get sick. We lose sleep. We wonder what is to come.

Despite all of the good, I’ve been a mess of tears the past few days. It was sad and simple and even a bit of a relief. I didn’t and don’t regret moving or the decisions we’ve made. Through the tears I just kept saying, “I don’t want to be here today.” A lot of things went into that feeling, nothing major but nothing completely petty. I miss my mom. I miss feeling completely comfortable and confident at work. I miss seeing a familiar face at church. I miss the uniquely Iowa things you just can’t get anywhere else (we went to the fair this weekend and almost immediately decided our next Iowa visit would have to be in August so we could go to a real state fair).

This is all part of the deal. We knew that going into this move. Up until now, while we’ve been stressed, we’ve pushed through because we knew everything was ultimately alright. And it still is. But some of this hard part was oozing out and needed to be acknowledged with a few sniffles (or sobs). It’s still good. It’s still hard. It’s how we know we’re alive. And that in itself is something to be thankful for.

Face It

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.

Now that I am at least a thousand miles away from most of the people I know, it seems like a great way to keep in touch. I love the connection it helps me to feel and the easily organized way to categorize photos and “share” them with those I love. But you want to know what I hate? I check it daily. Sometimes I’m on it as soon as I wake up and right before I go to bed. It has me in shackles, armed with all of my personal information to boot. 

Due to a variety of reasons, I toy with the idea of giving it up or at least going on a long hiatus. I haven’t been able to take on such drastic measures yet. Instead, I have periodically been deleting old acquaintances and removing more personal data. The messages with friends and collection of photos keep me there. In chains. Wasting my time.

Regardless of how I decide to proceed, I’d like to think that by the time my hypothetical-and-distant-future-children are around, I won’t be showing them my Facebook page as a way to reflect on the past. “Look! This is when your daddy first commented on my wall!” Not happening. I do however want to preserve some of the memories that are currently only housed (sadly) on Facebook.

Therefore, I would like to make the following pledge:

I, Samantha, vow to be better about photos. Better about taking them, but more importantly, better about organizing them. This means, printing them, framing them and/or placing them in photo albums. Not the kind online, but real-live-turn-the-pages photo albums. 

To start, I will print and frame some wedding photos to adorn our wall. We’ve passed the two-year mark, and I have yet to print a single picture from our lovely and symbolic day.

Following this task, I will sort and print out study abroad photos. China, Greece and a whole lot of Europe are fading fast in my little brain and I’d like to remember my days of adventuresome gallivanting. Finally, I would like to catalog year one and year two of our marriage.

Not only will this provide me with a different pastime than Facebook, but I’ll have something to show for it when it’s over. Literally.

Call Me Maeby

I think in a recent post I made it fairly clear that we don’t quite have friends yet. It’s true. We’re friendless. But, we’re doing what we can to be a part of this new community of ours and finding more and more how much we’re going to love it (especially when we get friends). Seriously, this place is great. We keep having moments where we look around and say, “Wow, we live here!” Don’t get me wrong, Des Moines was (and is) great, too. There’s just something special about discovering a place for the first time.

In effort to both see the place and meet people, we had a fairly busy weekend. This includes all of the essentials: an outdoor show, hiking, an indoor show, a local coffee shop, a couple of churches, a guitar & amp show and a delicious brunch spot. Our general thought process being – why not? We don’t have much to lose or much else in our schedule. Everything we’ve visited has been pretty cool, but I must admit, is not quite as fun without friends. I’m enjoying going to the grocery store without running into someone I know, but going to a coffee shop where everyone feels like a family makes me miss our favorite coffee shop in Des Moines. Going to an outdoor show is almost lonely when you keep seeing people who look “exactly” like someone you used to know. Church isn’t the same without having lunch with friends afterwards, and it’ll come as no surprise that the hubby would have likely preferred someone more musically inclined than myself at the guitar & amp show. But, at least we’ve got each other.

Today, the unexpected happened—I got some digits. We told our waitress at said brunch spot that we had recently moved. Honestly, we’ve been telling everyone from the clerk at the grocery store to the guy passing out flyers on the street in hopes that someone will decide to adopt us into their group of friends. This was no different. We said we didn’t know what to order because we just moved here and there it was. Our story was told. “We just went for it… No jobs…We have jobs now… We love it here.” When she left us the check, she also passed me her number. SUCCESS!

Now I’m debating proper friend date etiquette. Call? Text? Wait a week? Wait a day? Coffee? Lunch? Oh, it’s all so new, but I am totally thrilled to have a friend prospect.

Photo: First Day

Isn’t he handsome? Hubby’s first day of work is today, and I am so excited for him. Seriously. Life is crazy and within two weeks of moving out, he was offered this job. As of today, he is now a producer of a nationally syndicated radio show, and I’m sure he is just the guy for the job. Before his last job, he worked in radio and certainly knows the ins and outs of recording and producing audio. I’m eager to hear later today how it went and of course, how well that outfit suited his new workplace.

Only a Matter of Time

Things have been going well and moving quickly and yes, yes, YES! We’ve felt such confirmation about being here and God’s timing. It’s been a huge blessing, and we’ve been extremely grateful for it all. It’s all been so good. Not always easy, but so good.

Today, we decided it was time to stock our fridge so we headed to the nearest Trader Joe’s (naturally). Upon returning to our car, groceries in hand, we reached our first major speed bump (or as the signs say down here – “speed hump”) in the road. The car just wouldn’t start. Let me repeat, our only car just wouldn’t start.

It all became real very quickly. We had no friends to call, no way to get home and no idea why the car wouldn’t start. Thank goodness for AAA who promised to send a tow truck in the next 90 minutes. We took a moment to acknowledge what this felt like. This time of being stuck and alone with no one to ask for help. It wasn’t fun, but it is the reality of making a move like we just did. We knew we would have to face it at some point, so it might as well be the day after moving in officially. Then we did the next logical thing – took the refrigerated items back into Trader Joe’s and popped open a bag of chips while we waited.

The tow truck guy was there in record time and even dropped us off at our apartment before taking our car away. We don’t really know what that will cost to fix (hopefully not much!) or when it will be done. But I can’t help but thank God for his timing even with that. Honestly, I didn’t start this blog to “talk religion” – it’s not really my style. I think one’s life should be lived out and that’s the strongest testament of your faith. I don’t generally get all church-y or even want to be surrounded by people who are. My faith is real and it is true, but I’m not here to get in people’s face about it. I’m here to live according to God’s will and love others. But as I keep experiencing God’s kindness and grace and provisions each day, I can’t help but share about it. That car is getting to be up there in years, going on 18 years now. It’s had some repairs and probably needs a few more. But it made it halfway across the country. It made it to every interview we’ve had and through some dark, stormy nights in the middle of nowhere. It’s transported some of our most important documents, favorite clothes and our near future means of transportation (ahem, the bikes). When and where does it break? Outside of a grocery store, in a safe place, when we have nowhere immediately to be.

God is good. That’s all there is to it.

Off the Radar

In the last few weeks we’ve felt as though we’ve been living off the radar a bit, and I can’t deny that it’s been great. Sure, we check Facebook and call our moms, but we haven’t had any real obligations. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been much to do. We’ve packed, unpacked, re-packed, unpacked and are about to do a full pack once more. We’ve changed our address, driver’s license, bank, grocery store and time zone. We’ve also been driving all over the state for a combination of vacation, job hunting, visiting relatives and exploration. We’ve slept in six different beds in six different towns in the last two weeks and have let our number of showers and personal hygiene go down a little.

We’ve had an incredible opportunity to just be. When we wake up, we wake up. We walk into any store or public place knowing no one will know us. On Thursday, we went for it and did open mic night at the bar down the street (hubby was the real performer, but I sang a number as well). We can try any church we want to or we can take a weekend at the beach instead. We haven’t kept in close contact with anyone really, which will change as we settle into a routine (and get phones with cell service). Ultimately, I’m glad we were able to have space in between as we transition from one life to the next.

Come Monday, we’ll be moving into our next new (more permanent) home for awhile. It will be good and challenging and different, but right now, I am grateful that we had the chance to take a break and catch our breaths. Although things worked out pretty quickly, I’d say having some time to transition slowly, to look around and to spend time together was the best thing possible. There’s a lot to sort through with a move. A lot of stress and thinking about what just happened and what’s about to happen. How we’ve stripped a large part of our lives away in exchange for one with more uncertainty. But I’m glad we did it. The more time we have to sit back and evaluate, the more thankful I am. We’ll miss things and people and routines, but it was time. Time to move on and embrace the change.

Closer to Family*

Over a month ago I blogged about why we were moving and on that list was to be closer to family. It had a star clarifying that while we’d be farther from other family, we still wanted to be closer to family. Beyond that, I think more clarification is needed.

Right now, we’re real close. I’m talking packed in the same house with a sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. I get to hear “Auntie Sam, Auntie Sam” all day long and talk late into the night with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. There’s an added sense of community and ownership with your family. Without kids of our own, our nieces and nephews are definitely people we want to invest in and see grow up into wonderful, giving people. It’s an awesome thing to be a part of, even in small way.

Today we’ll go visit the hubby’s grandma who recently celebrated her 80th year. We’re excited to be a part of her life and visit more than once every two years. It’s hard to know I’m so much farther from my grandparents, but I’m glad to be able to visit one of our grandparents.

All of this said, being closer to family was one part of this move. Family is a great and beautiful and even challenging thing. But it isn’t the thing. Only one thing can be the thing to plan your life around. The thing to put all of your faith, hope and love into is a relationship with Christ. When Jesus first starting calling disciples, they were in all different stages in life. Some left their family (Matt. 4:21-22), some left their jobs (Matt. 9:9). He called others to leave their wealth (Mark 10:21) and I’m guessing many left some friends, dreams and goals as well.

Family is a blessing and a gift, but it can’t be our main priority. Jobs are a great thing, and we’re called to work hard. Leadership and volunteering is an admirable thing. Growth and learning is awesome. All of these things are good, but not one of them is the “main thing.” Each of these can be important to have in life. But if you focus too much on one thing, what if you’re missing the bigger picture? What if following God means there’s so much more in store for you than a great job? Or weekly meals with extended family? Or another certificate to hang on the wall? What if these things, as great as they might be, hold you back from an even greater life of following Him?

I think I’m learning to value what we have in this life, yet be willing to let it all go. That statement alone is terrifying, but we can’t hold on too tight. It’s not ours. It may be a good thing and a helpful thing, but unless it’s the thing, we have to be willing to let it go.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6