5 Minute Fridays | Perspective

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
 

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 When he packed his things in that old Cat bag and I made sure to fold the clothes over a photo in a frame it felt familiar. When he drove away and my heart couldn’t take the burden it was an old feeling. When I sobbed into Samson I felt like I was home again – bitterly.

But when the pain subsided quickly. When I went outside to get the coffee my friend had brought over. When I took my daughter upstairs for a good long visit with her Auntie. When I was checked in on, brought food to (McDonald’s. Twice. By separate people.), when I spent the night laughing. Those things are new. Those things are appreciated.

I know what it’s like to be alone. I know what it’s like to say goodbye. I know what it’s like to cherish time together. I’m now learning what it’s like to be surrounded. I’m learning what a normal business trip looks like. I’m learning that time apart doesn’t mean bombs and fear and isolation.

Community

 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

You can almost call “missional communities” a trend. It even made it to wikipedia. You can almost call it that, except that the connotation of a trend is something fleeting and superficial and from what I have seen these groups are anything but.

My missional community (I know you don’t like that term, guys, but it works, okay?) is full of diversity. Ages ranging from 6 months to 60 years old, married, single, engaged, “it’s complicated,” people with kids, people without kids, students, teachers, business owners and unemployed. We are all in different places in our lives and in our spiritual maturity, but we are supernaturally bound by the same Spirit. At some point each of us has decided to resign our lives to Jesus and as we are working that out in our own day-to-days we are coming alongside one another to work it out as a Body.

The message of the Bible is one of love: an insane, all encompassing, relentless love. It is a love not just for “me,” but for “us.” Most of the books of the New Testament were written to communities of believers, not individuals. Our culture is so wrapped up in the mindset of “I” that we forget one of the most basic human needs is relationship. I have grown to appreciate so much more the idea of “us” since being a part of a real community.

Oh yeah, we also eat really, really good food.

So here is how this community works: we get together at a couple scheduled times every week to discuss life and dive into the Word of God. We also go to each others’ events and help each other with things like moving, cleaning, babysitting, etc. Because our natural impulse is to remain on the surface with our struggles, we make a point of being transparent. It is not perfected and as new people join the group {and as the “old” people have new issues} we have to continue pushing toward honest transparency. We do this so that we can share each others’ burdens – practical and emotional. We hold one another accountable to encourage and rebuke (gently).  We talk about what a community should be and then we try to put it into practice. It takes what Tom coined, “Organic Intentionality.” We have to make an effort to build natural relationships… There is a tension there, but what thing worth having doesn’t include tension? We die so we can live. We serve so we can lead. We strive so we can rest… The Christian life is a conundrum. :)

One weekend last September we went away for a last minute retreat with a good portion of our community. It was so familiar and easy. We weren’t with a church group or a bunch of friends even, we were with family. Our brothers and sisters, Raychel’s aunts and uncles and cousins. We cooked together and worshiped together. We joked around and discussed theology. We dove into Scripture together and prayed with one another. We didn’t have a program to follow or a waiver to sign… We just got to be together and enjoy one of the many fruits of being in God’s family.

Mikel holding George (which is kind of a big deal for him).

Some of us have been through really difficult situations since coming together. Various struggles, sins, oppression and trials have been revealed and worked through over the last year since we began living like this together. Gabe and I have learned the sincere value of confession. We’ve learned how to belong to one another. We’ve learned to appreciate the Body in it’s diversity. We’ve learned what it looks like when the Kingdom of God collides with this world. We are still learning these things and more through the Family of God. We have certainly not achieved any platform of success – we have a long way to go and a lot more to learn about the people God has placed around us – but we are closer than we have ever been to experiencing the kind of life described in the Bible between believers.

The other night as we were talking about these things with our group, Matt mentioned how different we all are. We all have different tastes in music, different clothing preferences, different backgrounds and upbringings, different talents, different views and perspectives… But the same God. The only thing really binding us is Jesus Christ. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

Some of our crew (the ones I have pictures of!):
Tom (Tish’s Hubby)
Tish 
Tessa
Hannah & Mikel 
Tim (of Tim & Tessa)
Sara
Vickie
Matt

Chairstyle

The chair in Tessa’s living room.

I looked curiously at the big tan armchair sitting in the corner of a living room far from North Carolina or Salinas or Fargo. A living room right above my own actually, overlooking my new “hometown.”

It was familiar and it took only moments for my memory to jog: this is the same chair Beth has had since I’ve known her. The chair I sobbed in while Gabe was gone and cuddled Ayden in during humid southern summers with the AC on. It’s the chair I joined my husband in for rounds of the hat game and spent holidays lounging in after festivities died down. It’s the chair I saw packed away in moving trucks and the chair I sat in with Raychel the size of a poppy seed tucked in my womb.

The chair in Beth’s living room in Fargo.

God provided the Balls years ago when we needed family and He has not ceased to provide community everywhere we have been, building on the things He’s taught us through every season. How appropriate then for this chair to be in the home of a brother and sister He has recently introduced to us. The Wellings and other beautiful believers we have come to know are family now, too. God’s sincere and constant love is sewn through these relationships. Reminders (like this chair) are visible stitches. He provides, He loves, He answers prayer consistently and in a way that brings Him glory and us joy.

It’s a comfortable armchair, but the warmth I feel when sitting in it comes from the heart of my generous Father rather than the stuffing.

Blue-‘Berry

I am typing this with my darling little girl asleep next to me with her hands sweetly and gracefully balled up next to her face, one holding her chin. She has a content look on her face and every now and then a smile spreads under her button nose. She is a miracle. She is everything that is right with this world. She is God’s message of hope and abundant affection. She is my beloved and anticipated Raychel Joye whom I have adored since long before I was a mother, a wife, a fiance or a girlfriend. She is my daughter.

I wanted to write this for a few reasons. One being that I am a writer at heart and it would be strange for me not to record it somewhere. Another being that I know I am not alone and I want others to know that they are also not alone. I was not prepared for the “Baby Blues” and I think that if I had read others’ accounts and gotten an idea of what might happen it would have been helpful. The most significant reason however is to brag a little about my God. :)

To start, let me say that the first 5 days or so after the birth were absolutely euphoric. I felt so incredibly in love. It was as though the world had stopped moving and all that was left functioning had to do with Raychel. The purpose for the birds chirping, the sun rising, people laughing was all for her. And us: our new little family. I thank God for those days and for the natural high he allowed us to have while we bonded. I will cherish that time in the deepest recesses of my heart for eternity.

Then one night she was very fussy (I think it was some cabbage I ate – oops!) and I’m not sure if that is what did it, if it was purely the hormonal drop* or if many factors were at play, but I woke up with a much different state of mind. Suddenly I was disconnected and just sad. I didn’t want to smile or laugh, I felt a darkness that I could not shake for the life of me. I was scared that it would last forever, that I would never feel the love I had felt just one day prior. I didn’t know how to get back there and I so desperately wanted to go back. I had this feeling of overwhelming loss for that closeness.

It was like a switch. It was so sudden and so drastic that it shocked my whole system – my body, my spirit and my mind. In my weakness arose severe insecurities, mostly ones I have struggled with before. I was afraid not only that I wouldn’t take care of her correctly, but that I would end up hurting her. I felt so unsure about my role and my ability to carry it out. I believe in spiritual battle and I have no doubt that I was in one then. It scared the crap out of me, frankly. But the Lord was battle-ready. Not only did I have my mom there, but over the last year He has set us up with an entire community of believers. He even brought Tim and Tessa to the duplex just a month before RJ came. Not to mention Beth who knew the tough questions to ask and what to look for. And of course my amazing husband who has always been with me during these times to speak truth into the storm.

Because of the community God formed around me, I talked. I didn’t keep all my thoughts and feelings inside which is my natural tendency (probably something we all struggle with to some extent, I imagine). I shared my lowest lows and to my great surprise, was not judged, but loved. My community prayed for me, my friends embraced me, my mom assured me that she experienced all the things I was experiencing…. I was so surrounded by Christ’s love that even though it was dark in my mind, I wasn’t in the dark. Everywhere I looked I saw the Light of the world. Our friend Tom once described confession as a gift… He said that it wasn’t meant to be a burden, but a load-lifter. We get to confess to one another and be healed. It’s the truth! What a tremendous gift that the things which have in the past caused me to sink into my self, to be spiritually and even practically ineffective do not have the power they once did because I now have people with whom I can share my insecurities and fears. In the past I would have spent at least 6 months in a depression trying to overcome my emotions, wrestling fears and guilt, , but I really cannot afford to do that now. I have a child totally dependent on me for food, security, comfort and attention. Even though I did not know to prepare, God prepared for me.

I do not expect to be “over” the weird new-mom feelings and insecurities. The fact that I am responsible for another human’s well being is a daunting reality. I am okay with having down days. I’m going to be patient with my emotions while they try to process this huge shift in my paradigm and I’m going to appreciate the highs that much more. But I am not going to be alone and as often as I can I will remember that my Lord, to whom I owe nothing less than my life and from whom I can demand nothing, has answered my prayers for a family and has once again turned ashes into beauty.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)

*There are known periods within the first few weeks and months postpartum where a woman’s hormone levels drop drastically; since she produced more hormones in that short 9 months than she will the entire rest of her life, this can cause significant changes to her mind and body.

The Birth Story

Disclosure: This is a fairly detailed account of Raychel’s birth. If you don’t want to know, don’t read. :)

Raychel Joye Sedberry joined this crazy world on July 18, 2011 at 6:24 in the morning at Dayspring in Hayden, Idaho (she’s our little spud). She weighed 8 pounds and 12 ounces and measured 21 inches long. She also had a full head of hair!

As she is lying here on the bed next to me, making adorable faces, I am just in complete amazement by her… I seriously can’t even concentrate on writing this. It’s taken me like an hour to get this far. She just keeps doing cute things!

So anyway, the birth story… Around 10:30pm on Sunday I was skyping with Beth and had a couple of rather serious feeling contractions. They were like half an hour apart and not too intense so Gabe and I thought they were just harsh Braxton Hicks or maybe really early labor. Gabe especially was really expecting the signs of early labor that we’d learned about in our Bradley classes: excitement, nesting, high energy… These weren’t present so we just ignored it and went to bed around 11:30pm. Around midnight I started feeling more contractions. I was trying so hard to ignore them (per everyone’s advice so that I could get rest before labor), but it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so. We stayed in bed and I tried sleeping between them, but at one point I was woken up so violently that I shook Gabe like a rag doll and getting that tensed up made the contraction nearly unbearable. (That was my hard-knock lesson on the huge difference it makes to not tense and scream). Gabe decided it was real and we should take a walk. He got me out of bed and had me walk around a little bit. We went outside and it seemed to help, but they kept coming on pretty strong and by 2am they were about 3-4 minutes apart and had been maintaining this pace for a while (Gabe couldn’t time them at first because I had all of his attention). Mind you, we’d been told that people who live 10 minutes from the hospital should go in at 4-1-1: 4 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour. For people who live 40 minutes from their birthing place we were told to go in at 6 or 7-1-1… So these things are going through Gabe’s head while I am irrationally unsure as to whether or not to call.

After a couple of contractions around or less than 3 minutes apart and too painful to talk through Gabe convinced me to call our doula. I called her twice and didn’t get an answer so we called our friend Brittany who has recently become certified as a Doula. She said it sounded like labor and to call the midwife and let her know how it goes. She was so calm and kept us both at peace. Gabe called the midwife who listened to me have a couple contractions on the phone and said that we could either keep working at home or go ahead and get that 40 minute drive out of the way. Still expecting a 24-30 hour labor I had to deliberate with Gabe – we decided after another severe contraction that we wanted to get the drive out of the way. I felt a little discouraged that if what I was experiencing was still early labor I would not be able to handle active labor (clearly, I was wrong and I was indeed actively laboring).

So as Gabe got our stuff together I called Brittany back and I asked her if we could possibly pick her up since we couldn’t reach our planned doula… Looking back I must have somehow known that I was progressing quickly and would need the help because I don’t think I would have decided to stop and pick anyone up had I really considered how far into it I was. So the famed “irrationality” of a woman in labor ended up being good! She was already in gear and said she would grab her bag and wait for us. Still sort of thinking this is early labor, I didn’t rush. For some reason I really wanted to make the bed and Gabe was getting impatient with me, but was totally sweet and understanding… Helping me through like 3 contractions as I dilly dallied and finally getting me out the door. I could tell that he was getting nervous and really wanted to get me to the midwife. In the car I called Beth and my Mom to let them know we were going in. I kept having to put the phone down to have contractions and they were getting more intense. We got to Brittany’s and she was waiting outside for us. I had a contraction as we pulled up and then got into the back seat with her. She was waiting on her porch and was like a ray of light to both of us – Gabe was instantly put at ease with her presence. Each contraction was really hard on my back and applying my own counter pressure in the passenger seat was just not cutting it. Gabe is pretty amazing, but he doesn’t have a third arm.

That drive sucked. I remember asking if we were almost there and Brittany sweetly saying, “No, not really, but we’re on our way.” She was an angel. She rubbed my back (hard; she got a work out!) and was completely calm despite seeing signs of transition (commonly noted as the most intense part of labor, it’s what a mom goes through right before the pushing stage). She told me later that she actually considered what to do if I started pushing! But she didn’t let me know about those thoughts, she just helped me work and reassured me. One of those signs is fear and I told her I didn’t think I could do it. Brittany and Gabe were both such a comfort, reassuring me that I was doing it and that I was doing great. I thank God that our planned doula didn’t answer her phone; there is no way I could have gotten through that car ride without Brittany. I think we would have ended up at a hospital or I would have passed out or something. Gabe was also such a stud, driving quickly and safely despite the laboring woman in the backseat. He even held my hand and kept up the positive affirmations… He is amazing.

Around 4am we got to the Birthing Center and Carrie was in the parking lot waiting for us and had already started the bath. As we pulled onto the street my water broke, but the contraction was too painful to tell anyone. When we parked I told them and had another contraction, then they quickly got me out of the car and helped me into the house. We got to the foot of the stairs before another one hit – about 50 feet or so from the car. The second it was over they helped me up the staircase before another one came on. I had at least one in the room and then wanted to go to the bathroom so while the tub finished filling up I labored in there. Then they helped me into the tub so I could labor in the water. It helped relieve some of the pressure, but not all of it so Brittany had to basically cradle me by my back – she never complained and kept her calm disposition even though her arms must have been killing her! I remember thinking that this was the dumbest thing I’d ever done and that if I got pregnant again I was definitely going to a hospital and getting an epidural. I also felt insecure about being able to keep it up. Between contractions I would cry and say how I felt. Gabe was right there with me the whole time (he went to put the music on for me and I scolded him… everyone laughed). Carrie and Brittany kept assuring me that I was doing well and that everything looked great.

When I started pushing it was not what I expected. I felt her move forward and then come back and started getting really discouraged. I just wanted her to get out of me. Carrie checked her heart rate (it was good) and I said, “I don’t care!” Then I asked Carrie if that was normal, to not like my baby right now (I was worried that I wouldn’t love the baby when she came out). She laughed and said yes and they all assured me that it was normal and nobody blamed me for not caring. That helped me not worry and just focus on the work at hand – which was plenty! Between pushing I would pass out. Gabe said my body would go limp and my eyes would close, but then I’d suddenly wake up and start pushing with everything I had. At first I kicked my legs out because of how much it hurt. Carrie told me to put all that energy to one spot so from then on every ounce of energy I had went to pushing into that spot. After a bit over an hour Carrie told me that she thought that if I were to get out of the tub the baby would come out faster. My only concern was the pain, but she assured me that it wouldn’t hurt any MORE out of the water at this point so I agreed – I wanted this thing out of me!! It’s a good thing I took her advce, too because I didn’t even make it down the 2 steps from the tub before dropping into a squat to push. Kim (the student midwife who we saw the most and whom I was really hoping would be on-call; actually she wasn’t, but Carrie forgot and she came anyway! :)) was on one side holding me up by my arm, Brittany was on the other side and Carrie was in front of me putting down puppy pads and getting her gloves on. When I saw her preparing I knew that this kid was coming – I think she actually said, “Okay, baby is going to be born on the floor!” It gave me a little bit of energy to see that we were nearing the end. Gabe was watching and was in complete awe and totally speechless. I heard Carrie say to him, “Tell her what you see!” and then his excited, smiling voice tell me that he could see our baby’s head. That “ring of fire” thing was no joke – and it didn’t last for a few seconds like it does on TV. Pushing was definitely the hardest part of labor for me. But once I just accepted that it was going to hurt like hell I pushed through it and didn’t let the pain stop me. After a few pushes her head came out and then her body quickly followed. Kim told me later that it was a fast exit and Carrie had her work cut out catching her. ;)

Carrie put her on my chest and immediately I was in such a deep love all I could do was cry. I wasn’t exhausted or in pain anymore, just in love. Gabe was instantly by my side and the joy on his face is something I don’t know that I’ve ever seen before… Maybe on our wedding day. He had tears going down his face and could not stop smiling. He kept saying things like, “Thank you,” and “Look at our baby! Look what you did!” Somebody asked if she was a boy or girl and when we checked I said, “I got my little girl. I got my Raychel Joye.” It was incredible… At that point I didn’t even consider the pain it took to bring her here, I was just so grateful that she was in my arms.

They helped us to the bed and not too long after Gabe cut the umbilical cord and I delivered my placenta. At some point the initial euphoria wore off and I was in a bit of shock. They made sure I got some sugar and protein which stopped the shaking. During this time I didn’t feel as connected to Raychel, but as I ate and just rested I once again felt overwhelmed with love and joy (or… Joye… haha sorry, had to). While they were making a gourmet breakfast for us Gabe, Raychel and I spent some time alone as a family. All we could do was stare at our little girl and look at each other in total amazement. We were both physically tired, but we couldn’t sleep. We were way too high on pure emotion. Hormones are no joke! lol After we ate we had visitors: We skyped with Beth and my Mom and Gramma and Vickie came in. Then we took a short nap (only about an hour) and Tom and Tish came with Jamba Juice and took some beautiful pictures. It was so wonderful to share her with the people we love… She brought smiles and tears to everyone she met. :)

We left the birthing center around 5:30pm to pick up my mom from the airport and go home. First we took a bath, spent more time resting and I had to get some shots of her. :) When we got home our neighbors Tim and Tessa had decorated the house in pink, written “Welcome Home Baby Berry” in chalk on the concrete and decorated the door to the nursery with scripture and ribbons (they had also cleaned up the house which was such a blessing). Tish had gotten some of our maternity shots printed and framed and put them around the house… She put a gorgeous bouquet of pink roses in our room (and they lasted for a really long time!). It was a beautiful, perfect homecoming. The Woods and Wellings came over (and of course both grandmas were there) and we got to just be family and celebrate Ray’s birth day (we even had cake with a number 0 candle). We are so blessed and I cannot begin to express how grateful we are that God has provided not only such a sweet, beautiful, healthy baby girl, but also a family to surround her with His love.

First time face to face
Brittany, our angel Doula.

8lbs 12oz

Yummy yummy breakfast… I didn’t eat much, but what I did was super delicious!

About to be swaddled by Carrie.

First family photo.
Totally in love

Kim and Carrie

Grandma Vickie
Skyping with Beth.

First bath… She liked being in water again.

Tish visiting and holding RJ.

Such a beautiful baby!

Daddy putting on the first diaper (after she pooped in her swaddle lol)

My beautiful daughter!

She looks like a thinker.

First car ride!

She was beyond happy to see us in the car – we surprised her.

Our wonderful neighbors, Tim and Tessa.

Unity

On Sunday Justin (one of the leaders at Emmaus) spoke on Ephesians 4:1-16. He focused us on the unity Paul encourages. He told a hypothetical story about the 2 blind men that Jesus healed meeting one another after Jesus’ ascension. They are excited to have found one another and begin to talk about it. One describes excitedly how Jesus answered his cry and commended his faith and then he could see! The other guy looks a little confused and corrects him saying that the first man must have meant to say
that Jesus spit in the dirt and rubbed it on his eyes and then told him to go take a bath. The first man, of course, knows what he experienced and gets defensive while the second man firmly holds that Jesus doesn’t work that way and his story must be wrong. Then the two separate and form different congregations of people who believe their respective stories and judge that the others did not really encounter Jesus. 
Of course this sounds so silly: these guys were blind and now they see! But it’s exactly what we do. We were lost and now we’re found! We were dead and now we’re alive! We were slaves and now we’re free! Yet we get so hung up on baptism, predestination, communion, ecclesiology, prophesy… I have even heard of people causing division because they did not like where the refreshment table was placed after the service or the color of the carpet in the sanctuary. We, the redeemed of the Lord, the broken ones made new, give a damn about what?? What does this say to a world that is still broken? How does this look to the people still without hope? That despite the cries of their souls, having a rescue doesn’t really bring peace or joy; or it tells them that this isn’t the Hope they have been searching for so they move on. 
If we continue to allow ourselves to be divisive – through theology, preference, through our annoyance at other believers even – we will continue to be a hinderance in the Kingdom. We brutally chop up the Body of Christ over trivialities. What is worth dividing over, really? Can a Catholic who prays to Mary, but depends on Jesus to save him from death truly not get along with a Baptist who won’t drink alcohol, but has legitimately experienced the New Wine? Why can’t the Baptist show reverence for the Virgin Mother and the Catholic provide some grape juice at communion?

I have more thoughts on this, but I think this is a good place to stop and chew… God is so creative and it seems like He keeps bringing this subject up and showing me things from new angles. I don’t know why exactly He’s decided to shower us with so many blessings lately, but He has – it’s hard to explain, but that’s just been very clear – and I don’t want to squander it… If you think about it and you have a second I would really appreciate your prayers that I use this time wisely and glean what God wants me to from this period.

Allelujah

Once again in church, during worship, my thoughts wandered a bit… My passion lacked and I prayed for focus, for humility, for less of myself and more of Jesus. Then as we began singing “Lead Me to the Cross” my prayer was answered. It carried into “All Creatures of Our God and King” as I was once again led to reflect on this baby – this small (and growing) creature of the King’s for whom He died. And not only died, but endured temptation, severe persecution, betrayal, mockery, disappointment, fear…

So often around this time of year, as Spring awakens and sermons are preached about an empty tomb we are sparked to reflect for a short time on what was done for us. More specifically, for “me.” But the truth is that every day is a day to rejoice. Every moment is one in which to gratify the Spirit inside us which whispers (sometimes screams) God’s love in a million different ways. In the warmth of the sun after a long winter, in the smile of a stranger, in “one of those days” where nothing goes right, in a difficult relationship, in an e-mail reminder of the persecuted church. Every instant in time is an instant bursting with the potential to real-ize a hope and an affection found only in the God of the Universe.

We have been attending a weekly meeting the past several months of Christians who have committed to living their lives together. During dinner we do this thing called “gospelling” which has looked different at different times, but is basically this: we ask one another either “how has the Gospel been good news to you this week?” or “where have you seen the need for the Gospel this week?” It challenges us to approach the “non-church” part of our lives in light of God’s love. Sometimes people confess that they did not fully believe in the Gospel (which is, at it’s most basic definition, the good news of God’s love for us) and sometimes we get to rejoice in someone’s ability to live it out. I guess, ideally, we wouldn’t have to practice this as an exercise on Thursdays. It would be the natural tending of our daily discourse – with ourselves and with others. But it’s something I’ve found to be very edifying as I strive to live a life fully committed to Jesus. It helps me examine all different situations in my life – things which would fall outside the spirituality compartment – through the lens of God’s love.

I’m not really sure of the point of this, except that once again I find myself reflecting on a Love that saves, that endures, that is always as brilliant a gem as when it was first formed, even when it is covered by a little bit of dirt. If my spirit weren’t so weak I would never lose sight of it’s profound beauty, but as it is I am so utterly grateful for the moments it catches my eye and I rediscover how perfect it is; like a bride whose diamond ring gets dingy, then steals her breathe all over again when she cleans it off.

Mrs. Sedberry Goes to Spokane

First off, anyone who knows me knows that I fell absolutely head over heels, past-the-honeymoon in love with Salinas. It was an unlikely match; my entire life I heard nothing out of Salinas but stories of gang shootings, drug deals, shady characters and general shenanigans. I was apprehensive to move there because of said stories, but to Salinas my husband led so to Salinas I followed. After nearly 2 years it became home. Partly because it is just beautiful there, partly because it is minutes from the city/town of Monterey, the world renown Big Sur and the fairytale village of Carmel, partly because I did not feel scorned by customer service representatives, but by an overwhelming majority, I fell in love with Salinas because of its people – specifically God’s people.

I have left home before, I’ve said goodbye to my parents and my brother and my grandparents. But I have never been a part of a fellowship like the one at First Baptist and I have certainly never had to say goodbye to it. Not to say that churches I’ve attended before were not where God wanted me or were not inhabited by amazing individuals because they were. God has always faithfully provided friends and fellowship, but things are different at FBC. The people are a body more vibrantly colored… They, collectively, are centered on Jesus and on living in His love. Before Gabe left we had already seen this difference in our small group. People were interested in deeper things, unsatisfied with only “milk” as Hebrews talks about. They were open to new relationships even though they had been attending the church for years. When one family in the group needed direction or wanted to rejoice we prayed together – and I mean we really prayed – on our knees, for hours at a time. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. When Gabe left I was folded into the fellowship, regarded by those who hardly knew me, because of my hour of need and because I was able to assimilate into service with them. I felt exactly as any Christian should in any Christian fellowship: this was family.

Needless to say, leaving is hard. Gabe returned home a couple months ago and in that short time he’s become just as attached to the people (especially the teens) as I have. Even the excitement of school wasn’t enough to keep either of us from wanting with everything in us to stay. We prayed to stay and we hoped, but it seems God wanted us to leave. Maybe we were growing too attached… Maybe we’re more useful somewhere else… Maybe God wants to grow us in ways He couldn’t there… Maybe if we stayed it would have worked out in a way we couldn’t see… At the end of the day the maybes add up as zeroes and we are still faced with reality. And the reality is that for some reason we are a thousand miles away from what we have come to call home.

By the way, the youth at FBC are going places. If you’ve been waiting for the remnant, look out, I think they’re here. 

So here we are! While the Northwest is not as foreign as the Southeast, it is still a new experience. Additionally we are now city-dwellers which provides an entire paradigm we had yet to be acquainted with. For example, in the city you must find parking which is neither too expensive nor too far away. This can be tricky so you end up kissing quarters when you find them because the hungry meter gets to eat and you get to avoid a ticket. Also, along the lines of greeting pocket change inappropriately, laundry requires copious amounts of it. I was unaware that a load of laundry was reasonably costing any human being $2.25 in “QUARTERS ONLY” – though perhaps my mistake is in assuming it is reasonable. Either way I am finding that money does make the world go round, specifically the small, round, metal variety.

As a side, it is a bit nice to know that the laundry machines and the meters are not too pretentious; I could wave a hundred dollar bill in front of either of them all day long and they would hold their integrity by refusing service until I broke that bill into the correct and exact change.

This new life should provide some time (and material) for narrative so, fingers crossed, I’ll be posting more often… And maybe, just maybe, my new street-smarts will help some lonely non-city person city-dweller… Well, really I don’t care so much about that, but since my social life is now entirely online I suppose I should reach for such pious heights lest I become a Facebook stalker or one of those people who goes into chat rooms just to argue against whatever the group is representing despite her own opinions (“No, saving whales is a tremendous waste of time. You are all kelp huggers.”). Oh dear….