For those of you who don’t attend our home church in Washington, this letter went in the church mailboxes last week. =) I loved that Andrew thought of and made time for doing this…it was a fun way to feel connected with everyone back home. If the text is too small, you can click on the letter to enlarge it.
This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.
- I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
- I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
- I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
- I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
- I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
- I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
- I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
- I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!
Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!
At Grace Community Church (GCC), there are two (identical) 90-minute worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. During each one, there are various Fellowhship Groups happening elsewhere on campus. These groups are also 90 minutes long and are basically full-blown worship services, with a singing time and a sermon. Add the 90-minute evening service, and you’ve got a packed but oh-so-rewarding Sunday. Since moving to LA, we’ve spent each Sunday visiting different Fellowship Groups in the mornings to figure out which one to join. It’s been hard to attend a group or two and then have to wait an entire week to go to another, when we both want so much to jump in and start connecting with people and getting involved. We appreciated things about each of the four groups we’ve visited, but were excited this week to decide where we will land, for many reasons–Doulos (the Greek word for “slave”).
During the worship portion (which we absolutely loved) of Doulos we sang All I Have is Christ. To me, that song embodies our church family back in Bellingham, since it has become a favorite staple there in recent years. I couldn’t help but cry as we sang the chorus together in Doulos and I pictured our church at home, worshiping God at the same time. As I pondered the profound lyrics, I was reminded again of what a precious thing it is that no matter where I go, I have my Savior there with me. “Hallelujiah, all I have is Christ.” I had Him back in Bellingham, surrounded by familiar faces, and I have Him here in LA, where everyone and everything is new and different. I am still His, and He is still mine…and no matter what the future holds, that truth will never change. Amazing!
Andrew and I are both 100% excited about joining Doulos and growing under the solid teaching of Pastor Travis, who we know through mutual friends. It’s great to finally feel like we “belong” somewhere, instead of floundering. I can’t wait to share more of how we learn to love this group as it becomes home for us.
Stay tuned for a guest post from a very special individual!
A few more things I’m learning or observing here…
- If you put ice cubes in your glass of water and leave the room for a minute, they’ll probably be almost gone when you come back.
- In-N-Out is overrated, in our very humble opinions. But Chick-Fil-A does not disappoint!
- People don’t observe the “take turns” law at four-way stops. Fortunately I’m a natural-born aggressive driver, so it works out…ain’t nobody going on my turn! ;)
- There’s no foyer at church because apparently about 50/52 Sundays of the year, everyone can mingle and fellowship outside, with no thought of rain.
- The incredibly obnoxious bell that starts around 9:00 PM outside our complex and rings several times a minute for 10 minutes is not a fire alarm, it is, in fact, an ice cream truck.
- Even though it’s in the 90’s outside, you’d better be prepared to have a sweater for indoor events. Our church feels like it’s 40 degrees during the services. Scratch the sweater, I needed a parka last weekend! I worshiped with goosebumps all morning. Maybe I just came off super moved by the sermon.
- There’s really no point in checking the weather forecast. You can pretty much bet it will say “Sunny”. Or if it’s over 95 degrees, it will simply say, “Hot” with a scary picture of really orange sun.
Yep, this is not Bellingham…that’s for sure.
To state the obvious, LA is not Bellingham. Here are a few things I’ve learned or noticed so far…
- Intersections without a green arrow are common, which means you’ll only get to where you’re going if you go on a red light. Period.
- I don’t have to melt my coconut oil in the microwave…it’s always ready in liquid form.
- Even in the dumpiest of areas, you’ll probably find at least one rose bush thriving. They’re everywhere!
- Here we are in August, and it’s getting dark around 7:45 PM! We like it because it helps us get to bed earlyish. (As in, 10:30 or 11:00.)
- Paying more attention in high school Spanish would be paying off right about now.
- When going to the community laundry room, it is recommended that you bring your laundry, detergent, and quarters. I’m not sure I’ve had a laundry run happen in one trip yet. I always forget one of the three essentials the first time.
- Interstate 5 is not “I-5” here. It is “the 5″.
- Turning the nozzle to cold for the last bit of my shower gives me a couple extra sweat-free minutes afterward. Just barely enough time to apply deodorant.
- The scent of marijuana is gradually becoming as familiar as that of cigarette smoke.
- There appear to be as many doughnut shops here as there are coffee shops back in Washington. Which stinks for a gluten free person.
- Bare feet do not work on blacktop.
More installments coming in the future, I’m sure. =)
Here it is! The grand tour of our new little home. We’re mostly settled in. As you can see, we have a few boxes left. My kitchen will probably need a little rearranging still as well, but it’s all quite livable. It feels surprisingly spacious for a one-bedroom. Upon moving we found we had room for a small desk for Andrew, and the IKEA bookcase you see in the living room. I’m looking forward to filling the empty shelves.
As we expected, the neighborhood is nothing to write home about. (But hey look, here I am doing just that!) However, we feel safe in our apartment and walking to our car, which is all we decided is necessary. The enclosed courtyard area and large pool are a nice bonus and the best part is–we’re only one mile from the seminary and church campus! I can’t imagine how many hours collectively we’re going to save not sitting in traffic to get there, not to mention gas money.
As the days keep rolling along I’ll write more about my new community laundry routine, grocery shopping in LA, etc. It’s all quite fresh and challenging!
I have a beautiful quilt, but it’s just too hot. Maybe wintertime? I’m sleeping with just a sheet, and Andrew sometimes snags the green blanket if he’s feeling a little chilly.
I love this little sink area and how it’s separate from the rest of the bathroom, which is to the right.
I’m so excited about this bright, cheery little kitchen! Since it opens to the rest of the living area, it doesn’t feel tight or stuffy. We were both so thrilled to be blessed with another open-layout home like this.
There you have it! I hope you feel like you just popped in for a coffee date. Oh dear, there I go making myself sad again… =)
It’s really weird to think that just a week ago, we were in the middle of the church campout, playing cards under tarps during a warm summer rain. So much has happened since we hit the road four days ago. We’re getting settled into our new apartment (photos coming soon, I promise!) and starting to familiarize ourselves with the area. So far, I like everything much better than I’d anticipated. I tried to set my expectations low, and the strategy worked. =)
Just one more goodbye left and then we can move on with that sad aspect of this whole transition and dive into all the new experiences in store. On Thursday, a wonderful young seminary family brought breakfast to us and answered questions about anything and everything, putting our minds at ease about a number of unknowns. We got an excellent tour of the seminary, library, and church, which made us both even more excited to launch into life and ministry at Grace and Master’s. We’ve been to Santa Monica Pier with the family and I explored Burbank with my mom and cousin. So far I feel very comfortable on the freeways here and my GPS is my best friend!
With my family officially gone, I do feel rather alone at the moment. But I know that will change quickly as we meet new friends and get involved. I can’t imagine going through a transition like this without my hubby. I’m so thrilled to be watching him follow this long-time dream of his. Many more updates to come as the days roll on!
We are into our new apartment! I’ll be posting a photo tour of it sometime in the next week or two. We absolutely love it and are thankful beyond words that God provided something so perfect for us. It far exceeded our expectations or even hopes.
In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the last week-and-a-half, cubed. So much more happened, but I’m not very consistent about photographing it.
We spent our last northwest weekend at our annual church campout, and it was one of the most special several days I can remember. On Saturday night, the church had an informal send-off for us. My dad shared some sweet thoughts and prayed for us, which was very precious. Afterward, others from the flock added encouragement. We’ll remember all those kind words and memories for years to come. It was an amazing way to close off this chapter of life–we are so blessed by the support our church family is showing as we embark on this adventure. You will all be tremendously missed!
More on the past week to come later. We hit the road at 4:30 AM tomorrow!
So many goodbyes and lasts to get through this week. But I can’t think of a more fitting way to end this chapter than spending our last weekend at the church campout. It’s been such a treasured tradition for most of our lives and it will be a great way to spend time with our church family before we move.
It’s hard to believe that we’ll finally be hitting the road a week from today! I can’t wait to write about the big road trip and moving into our apartment. There will be so much to discover and learn and figure out as we settle in. Stay tuned for that, and other news. =)
My favorite thought right now:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)