Friday, September 9, 2011

Community Group Goodness


Well hey there... it has been so long since I have posted anything. Sorry about that.... things have been crazy. What have we been up to? We have just continued to invest and be invested in at Mosaic and have been learning so much.

For the past year I have been involved in a Community Group (small group) at Mosaic lead by a friend of mine. The experience enriched my life in so many ways. I found great friendship and community with a group of women who started out meeting in a cafe, until we grew so large we needed a bigger space. Growth of a Community Group is so exciting because it is a sure sign that the group is HEALTHY!! When our group ended for the summer I knew it was time for me to start another womens Community Group for ladies at the Mayan. I partnered up with an amazing co leader Kelsea, and I swear it was meant to be. Perfect. Match.

Our group met over the summer and quickly bonded with shared experiences, interests, fears, passions, a longing for community, and a heart for the Creator of the universe. Our first official group for this fall session was this past Wednesday! I am so amazed at how willing women are to share and really be authentic with one another when given the space. The ladies in this group are already bringing so much joy to my world. The hope for the group is that we are a safe place for women to risk, fail, succeed, cry, laugh, grow, and lean into a conversation with God that can change our lives. I am just so excited to see what the next 10 weeks will hold.

Over a year ago when we moved to LA, I just wanted to survive. Keep my head above water and hopefully grow in the process. Man how things changed. Quickly I was hooked to this movement in the city of Los Angeles. A movement grounded in faith, love, and hope seeking to create good. I am forever changed by this community and am so excited about taking my next step by leading a Community Group.

Much Love from CA,
Jess

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Traveling and Celebrating


So since the last time I blogged we have traveled quite a bit!! Here is a quick up date...

First, we went to HAWAII....
and it was amazing! We had such great time "honeymooning" together :). Some girls dream about their wedding all of their life... I was the girl who was dreaming of a honeymoon to a tropical paradise! haha, that might be sad. But it is true! We never had the nice relaxing get away that I had always dreamed of, so this trip was just fabulous. We were both in need of a get away. We find ourselves running in a million different directions and not as much time together as we would like. It was nice to be together for 6 days without meetings, class, work, etc. Hawaii was everything we thought it would be and so much more. We stayed on Maui and the scenery was unlike anything I have ever seen. The food was out of this world. And the time we spent connecting and relaxing was beyond words.

Here are some pictures from the trip and a little info!

We went hiking one day and this was one of the beautiful spots we found!! SOO many tide pools to explore on our hike! We loved it.
Wayyy up there is the top of a volcano!!!

First night out to dinner at a place called Mama's Fish House. Seriously the nicest place we have ever been. The view was incredible, the food was soooo yummy and the company was sweet ;)

We saw WHALES!!! We went on a snorkeling/whale watching cruise. I told Luke before we got on the boat "this is one of those activities where you meet people and chat through out the entire trip". He didn't seem to understand this process.... We had new friends within the first hour :)

This was taken at our resort on our last night.

There is so much more to say about this trip and so many more photos to share. But that is the cliff notes version.

Not long after we got back from Hawaii we flew to GA for Sarah Beth and Cameron's wedding. We both got a lot of family time and I got to see my sister perform in her senior musical! She was amazing. I also go to be with my mom on Mother's day!
The wedding was perfect and all of the festivities were an amazing time of catching up with people we had not seen in a year! Here are a few pictures from the day.

Typical.

So happy for this girl.

One of my favorites from the day.

Just a week and half later I was able to fly home again to see my little sister graduate from high school! Such an exciting time for her and I am so proud of the the person she is. I often wish that some of her "chillness" would rub off on me. She is headed to college in the fall and I can't wait to see all of the good she creates in this world.






So, there is a little update on the last month. WOW. Soooo much goodness.

Love from CA,
Jess

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Growing Up is Weird.

Luke and I have been challenged so much since we have been in LA. We have been challenged as a couple and as individuals. There is so much growth happening it is insane. With growth sometimes comes pain and unfamiliarity but results in so much beauty. I think that sometimes we surprise ourselves by how much we love this city and the community at Mosaic. We have thrown ourselves into exciting things and most of the time don't have a chance to look back. Needless to say, we love it here. Even on "bad" days we are thankful to be here and inspired by the people around us.

With all that said, here is a thought that keeps coming to mind lately... Growing up is weird. Who knew? No one told me. Ya know, it was a little strange when I started the big girl job and was teaching. Then as soon as I got used to that feeling of newness and normalcy we pack up and head to the West Coast. But in the past 9 months I have slowly realized that going through the process of growing up is just different when you have moved. I sometimes feel like I am so disconnected from things back home. I know this is all part of growing up and starting our own life, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to see and hear about things moving and changing in my old world and not actually being present. I am a "feeler" I feel things so deeply, and a huge part of an experience for me is how I feel, how do other people feel and react, what conversations are had, etc. So it has been tough to hear or see pictures of my old reality moving forward and changing and not being present.

My sister is competing with a dance team for the first year ever, getting ready for college, shopping for prom dresses, working at Chick Fil A (JEALOUS). And I am not there. Not experiencing it, not sitting with my parents at the events supporting Haley.

My sweet friend Shanna graduated a few weeks ago. I know how hard she worked to get there. I was there when she started her waaay intense program. I had the privildge of hearing her talk about all the details, her excitement, her fear and I loved feeling it all with her. And to see it finish out but not be a part of the celebration was hard.

One of my most precious friends is getting married. Sarah Beth is a friend where there is no pressure to be anything but who we are, like the things we like, be honest with each other, cry, share stories, laugh, share fears and dreams and never be concerned about judgment. She is honestly like another sister to me and I miss her terribly. I am out of this world happy for her and this special time and totally realize that she has plenty of people to share this time with and she is well taken care of. However, in a selfish way I find myself tearing up at the facebook photos of events where I am not. Really, you should have seen Luke's face when he realized there were actual tears in my eyes while looking at facebook photos.

I am so glad that I can see pictures of all the events happening in my old world, but at the end of the day they are still images. The part that feeds my soul is missing... like the interaction between friends, the emotions that play out, the laughter that starts in your belly and comes out in a loud burst of joy, the agonizing questions and staring in the mirror that happens when picking the perfect prom dress, the hilarious stories told when Haley comes home from musical practice, hearing/seeing her practice... and practice... and practice dances until they are flawless, sensing the stress she is is putting on herself to do her very best. All of these things are missing and causing me to feel disconnected. When I think about my trip to GA next month I feel so many emotions and am so overwhelmed with them that I can barely stand it.

Lastly, in the moments where I feel terribly disconnected I have to remind myself that though I am disconnected from my old reality, we are connected to so many new and interesting people in LA. I am honestly thrilled to be being challenged in this season of life. I can feel myself becoming a better me each day. My goal is to live in the moment, in this reality. I am actively "feeling" it all and taking it all in.

If you didn't know I was so into being able to "feel" everything, now you do. Hope that wasn't too overwhelming.

Love from CA,
Jess

P.S. 8 days until Hawaii!!!!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bye Bye Nanny Land!

Bye Bye Nanny Land... Hello Teaching :)

This week was my first week working full time at my new job! I am teaching in a private school and I loved my first week! The kids are great. It is a multi aged classroom so that has been different but the program is set up so that kids can get one on one attention that they need!! I don't have much to update about the school yet since I was only there a week but I will update as things progress. All I know is that my days are much more enjoyable, I feel meaningful again and the kids seem to really like me!

This week is Spring break for my new school!! So I plan on catching up on some rest, going to the beach and catching up on some of the relationships that got pushed back with all the craziness of working 2 jobs and being stressed about this new one working out!

Another thing I have to mention is that we will be in Hawaii in 16 days!!

Love from the West Coast,
Jess

Nanny Mom Lost Her Mind

Okay, in case you have been anxiously waiting for the update on how nanny mom reacted to my two weeks notice, here we go...

She sent me a nasty e-mail that called me irresponsible, inconsiderate, and selfish. Then let me know that she did not want me to come back to her home and work for 2 weeks. She asked me to drop her key off in the mailbox and she said that she would mail my pay checks (praying that actually happens since we need it to pay the bills this month). Normally an e-mail like this would really crush me. But all of the things she called me are words that I know do not describe me and I have seen her life patterns for long enough to know that this is the way she "deals" when life doesn't go her way. She stamps her feet and pitches a royal fit.

I have stayed in contact with the nanny agency that I worked for to see how things are going and help him in anyway possible since things ended so abruptly. Until Friday she was ignoring him, would not call him back. Crazy! He is just trying to help her find someone else to fill my spot. One would think that after a week to cool off she would be able to have a conversation with the agency. NO. I got an email from the agency this morning and he finally got to talk to her yesterday but she was still so mad that he had to ask her to call back when she could speak to him in a "reasonable manner". WOW. Needless to say she is taking this hard and is just taking out everyone in her path.

There are only 2 things that are still weighing on me about this situation

1) What does nanny kid think happened to me? One day I was there and the next day I am not. No closure for her and I hate for her to think that the one person who spent every weekday with her just left her high and dry.

2) My paycheck

I am glad it is over, but will be ready to really let it go when I get those pay checks!

No more nanny diaries!! Thank goodness!

Love from CA,
Jess


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two Weeks Notice

Last week I applied for a new job at small private school down the street from our house!! Well, since then, the head of the school called me back and I GOT THE JOB!! The school is VERY different from what I have experienced in public school, but still fabulous!

Turned in my letter of resignation and gave two weeks notice. Nanny mom has been out of town so I have not seen/heard her reaction yet. Needless to say I am expecting this next two weeks to be awkward and filled with a pouting adult. I think she will be shocked and offended that I am not just so happy working with her family that I would pass up a teaching job.

This week I worked at the school from 8:30-1:30 and at the nanny house from 2-7. I got my butt up and to the gym everyday at 6 a.m. Believe it or not , that was the one hour of sanity in my day and I loved it (might sound crazy, but it is true).

Even though I am totally excited I am also very stressed. I am stressed about her reaction, I don't like conflict and I try to avoid upsetting people. If nanny mom accepts my two weeks notice I will continue to work 10 hour days until April 8th and then I will start full time at the school.

I will keep you posted on nanny moms reaction and how the next couple of weeks go. Bottom line is... I am ready to be out of nanny moms grip and start feeling good about the work I am doing again. This nanny job has taken a toll on me, the main way is this... Luke and I took Strength Finder 2.o and in my top 5 strengths are Restorative, Consistency, Responsibility, Harmony, and Achiever.

Nothing about this nanny job is CONSISTENT, I take RESPONSIBILITY for everyones actions and needs in a house of 5 irresponsible people, HARMONY is hard to come by and I find myself desperately trying to create it with no success, and most days pass with me feeling like I didn't actually ACHIEVE anything. All of this combined usually leaves me drained. I am not unhappy at the end of every day, but I can feel the toll it has taken on me emotionally.

Thank goodness for my awesome husband and Mosaic family who fill my life with such happiness.

Love from CA,
Jess

Monday, March 7, 2011

Miracles Happening

A few days ago I shared that I sometimes struggle with Luke's health and what it looks like in relation to our future together. I am so overwhelmed by events that have happened since that short post. Let me start from the beginning...

Our path has continued to cross with Dave and Kim Rhodes. They are a couple that not only inspire but believe in us. Well, Kim and I have developed a friendship that takes place 3,000 miles apart. She has really become a safe place for me to share and gain feedback. Recently I realized that I needed a place to vocalize my feelings, thoughts, emotions, concerns about Luke's health. So I did something I don't normally do. I brought up this struggle in one of our conversations and asked that she be a person I can share with on good days or bad days. She is a great sounding board and listening ear. I kept saying things like "it is hard for me to open up about this portion of our life because I feel like no one can REALLY understand" during our conversation. Because that is the truth, people don't understand and I am sensitive to that but I don't want people to feel bad for me, or look at Luke differently, or get freaked out to be quiet honest. So I just kept it all inside and allowed it to be the one area that was "mine". I made sure to pretend I was always okay and had it together in this one area. Our conversation ended with Kim asking if she could share with Dave and process the information but saying that she would start praying for someone who did "get it".

That weekend Dave was speaking at a retreat in Louisiana. Apparently he felt compelled to change what he was going to speak on at the last minute and one thing lead to another and the topic he ended up talking about caused a young guy to approach him at the end. This guy said to him something to the extent of "Everything you were talking about tonight is so relevant to my life because I have Cystic Fibrosis and I just got married and my health causes my wife to have a lot of concerns" If I remember correctly he made the point that since this is how his life has always been and it is all he knows the concerns that his wife has are not as heavy on his heart (this is where Luke and I find ourselves when dealing with CF). So needless to say this is CRAZY. Dave is standing in front of this couple who is exactly what Kim committed to pray for as a connection for me. Whoa! As Kim is telling me this story and she nears the end she says, Dave told me to tell you "that God hears you, he is listening and you are not alone" NOTE: I never told Kim that I felt like God didn't hear me. I had definitely been feeling that maybe He didn't hear me and a little alone in this part of our life. But I NEVER said it out loud. So how Dave knew that it was urgent that I hear "God hears you, he is listening and you are not alone" is truly beyond me. I am not sure if I did a great job of putting this story into words but it is without a doubt a miracle. There is no way any of it is coincidence. God's fingerprints are ALL over this and I am in awe.

I now have this couples contact information and will hopefully get in touch with them soon. I cant wait to see where the Rhodes/Hughes journeys continue to connect and I am thankful for how intentional they have been in staying active in our life even from so far away.

Just wanted to share this truly miraculous event that went down this weekend. Thanks for reading.

Love from CA,
Jess

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Still Alive.

Hey Everyone!
Sorry, I have been MIA. Things got crazy here and I have been neglecting to blog. But, I'M BACK! a few updates...
*Luke's parents come to visit this month! We are excited to see them.
*We are going to Hawaii next month Counting down the days.
*Luke and I are busy serving in different areas at Mosaic (more to come on that) and LOVING it!
*We are getting excited for a visit to GA to be in Sarah Beth and Cam's wedding in May! Cant wait!!!

Things are exciting and moving quickly here. I am headed to the nanny house for work so I will post more later.

If you want to keep up with my nanny adventures follow my on twitter @ jhughesLA... never a dull moment.

Love from CA,
Jess

Life: Not Taken For Granted


I have recently been thinking a lot about Luke's health. The struggle that I have with this topic sometimes seems small and other times feels very overwhelming. I stumbled upon this blog, Faith, Hope and Lovebugs of a CF patient and her husbands blog Confessions of a CF Husband. I was moved and inspired by this family and their story. I am thrilled to say that I am able to journey through life with the most incredible human being I have ever met. Some days I struggle with the thoughts of having to live life without him one day, but most days are full of striving to not take one minute for granted and loving this journey we are traveling together. I will share more about this portion of our journey as I feel compelled to, but for now I wanted to share these blogs so that you might be inspired. Click on the highlighted text above to check them out.

I want to end with this
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

A friend reminded me of these verses this week and the relevance they have to my everyday life. Thank you Kim.

Love from CA,
Jess

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011, The Year Of _______


Well, it is 2011. WOW! Sooo I am not really a fan of New Years resolutions, but a couple of weeks ago at the Mayan Hank Fortner gave me a new way to look at the start of a new year. Instead of setting this one goal that I want to see accomplished at the beginning of 2012, make it The Year of _______. I think 2011 will be the year of many things for me, but I want to focus on this one....

The Year of Letting Go!

Since moving to California I have been learning a lot about myself, things I never imagined could be a reality. I have surprised myself (as well as many of my friends and family) with how I have adapted to this new place! I can't explain how it happened, but it did... I have fallen in love with this city and the people here. So many things make sense in life right now, but there are still some things that I am seeking answers in, for me this can be very dangerous. I am finding that as I "let go" I am able to enjoy the journey and process of discovery and growth.

At our wedding we had a slideshow for our guests to watch and Luke and I both picked a song to go with the pictures representing our life. I chose a song called I'm Letting Go by Francesca Battistelli. As I think back to what that song ment for me then, just 6 months ago I realize that was only the beginning of my journey to "let go"

What will 2011 be the year of for you???

Much LOVE from the West Coast,
Jess

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meaning. Dreams. Transformation.

I recently blogged about my job as a nanny in a "joking" tone. So this may catch some of you off guard. I actually did think the story told in that entry was humorous, however, on the inside I am hurting. I received my pay check in the mail this week. Great right? Well, it was made out to "Jennifer" Hughes. Just another reminder that I have very little meaning to this family. I am so glad to be in LA and I have said before that I can't imagine us anywhere else. This is true and I still believe with every fiber in me that we are in the right place. One thing still seams to be missing... a job where I feel meaningful. I am praying and dreaming about jobs I would love to do, it just seems like nothing is happening. I am willing to try anything at this point. I thought I had an open mind before, but after my experiences with this family I am REALLY open minded. I am tired of leaving work everyday and feeling worthless, like a screw up, and frustrated. I still have hope that one of these job options (that I day dream about as I clean dishes, make beds, and fold laundry at this families house) will become a reality.

Struggle is an interesting thing, painful and beautiful all at the same time. Part of me says "Quit this job. Who cares if you don't have another one lined up right away, you will find something else." The other part says "Are you nuts? You can't quit. Just deal with it, you don't have anyway to make money so you just need to stick it out until a new job presents it's self." Shockingly I am leaning towards an option that goes against who I once was, safe no-risk Jessica. I have begun quite an internal transformation that has started oozing to the external and I am excited to see where it leads. I still have not decided if I will quit or wait it out, but I will keep you posted.

The world I once considered the only way was one where only realistic options were allowed. Now I am feeling the exciting brush of the option to dream and to dream big. Why not? The hard part for me about allowing these dreams to come to the surface is when it seems like they may not happen. When I followed the rule of always being realistic there were facts involved, I had a pretty good idea if the goal would be accomplished or not. Every time I dream and hope,I risk failure and disappointment. There has been a lot of this lately. This is surprisingly thrilling to me. So my choice now is to keep developing these dreams. It's fun. Give it a try.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nanny Diaries: "I'm Too Tired"

Okay, I have been working for a family in LA as a nanny. The money is good, the hours are good, but some of the stuff that goes on is just NUTS. So, I have decided I will blog when something extra outrageous happens!

I worked this past Saturday from 4pm-12pm while the parents were out at a Christmas party. When they got back the mom said to me "Can you just come back another day and get your check? I am just too tired to write it right now"

Side Note: I am not working for them again until after the first of the year.

So instead of taking 3 minutes to write a check I will be hauling it back to their house with my parents (they get here tomorrow. yay!) at some point before Christmas so I can get that check in the bank.

Just thought it was ridiculous that she was too tired to write a check. Want to know what convo was happening in my head? it went something like this...

Mom: "Can you come back another day and get your check? I am just too tired to write it right now"
Me: "Just give me your check book. I will be happy to write it for you, then you can sign it. I will even do the math for you."

My actual response was "Sure. No problem" ugh.

So this is the first installment of my adventures as a nanny in LA. More to come!

Love from the West Coast,
Jess

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving in LA

This Thanksgiving was a little different for us, but left us stunned and in awe of the community we have here at Mosaic. A friend from Mosaic owns an amazing house and he opened it up to the us and about 40 or so other people who were in LA for the holiday! People started arriving at 9am to prepare the meal together as family. The tables in the picture below were set by the hands of people that we get to serve with at the Mayan. I thought they looked pretty amazing. At 6:30 pm on November 25th these tables were filled with wonderful people who care for each other. The room was filled with the smell of yummy food, laughter, sharing of stories, and love that I cannot explain.


#1 thing I had to add to my list of "Thanks" this year. My marriage to this man. The past 6 months have been a challenge to say the least, but Luke has been solid. In my moments of panic, confusion, joy, frustration, excitement, fear, and discovery he has been there in a very real and intentional way. I can not imagine being anywhere else, with anyone else.

We both have great memories growing up of holidays spent with family. This year we didn't get to go home to GA, but we were so excited to make new memories here with our LA family. We both miss our families in an intense way, but we also have this unexplainable peace about where we are in this journey. So since this place feels so right, the holiday was not spent missing what once was and looking backward. This year we were able to be grateful for our families who believe in us and support our dreams while creating new memories and looking forward. Doing this with the people we are serving and dreaming with in LA is something we are beyond thankful for.

Love from the West Coast,

Jess

Monday, November 15, 2010

charity:water

Check out Charity:Water. They are changing the world for so many people and we can help. The founder came to the Mayan to share last night and it was unbelievable.

http://www.charitywater.org/

Here is the organizations blog





Monday, November 1, 2010

Goodbye Truck....

Luke totaled his truck this month. He is okay, but clearly the truck was not!! We got a fair offer from the insurance company to buy a car. So we are in the process of figuring that out! I would say that I am getting used to "unexpected" things happening to us. I didn't say "bad" things, because although all of the crazy stuff that has happened has seemed "bad" at first it turns out to be a huge blessing. Lets review...
1) Water is out at our first apartment and we have to pack up and move out for a week (bad) THEN we stay with Mike and Christina Belke in the house that they live in with an elderly lady named Kathie. We learn that communal living is totally possible and gain a closer friendship with Mike and Christina. AND my mind is sparked towards their FREE housing from the Fuller list (good)
2) I loose my job with the family that I was working for when we first moved here (bad) THEN I realize I didn't like the job that much AND I get a new family who I actually enjoy working for (good)
3) Our old apartment gets infested with fleas (very bad) We find out that fleas are almost impossible to kill and that the cats who are causing them from across the street are not going away (even worse). THEN my mind forces me to look into the Fuller Housing List where Mike and Christina found their FREE situation. We find a FREE option that puts us in our own space in a guest house on the back of the property (good) with a couple who don't know Jesus and need some positive interaction with people who follow Him(even better)
4) Luke gets in an accident (bad) the truck is totaled (very bad). THEN we get the offer from the insurance company that is more than enough to buy a great used car (good) AND a car that has better gas millage (very good). Side note: putting gas in his truck in LA was killing the funds!

There are a few more things like these, but I will leave it at the big ones for now. It shocks me to think that all of this has happened in just 4 months. WOW. I have so much more to say, but I have to get to work. Thanks for reading, caring, and praying.

Much love from CA,
Jess

Engaged!


So Sarah Beth and Cameron came to visit severl weeks ago. I know I am late blogging about this. But we had such a great time with them exploring our new state and celebrating their ENGAGEMENT!! Here are some pictures...






We are so excited for SB and Cam! I know she will enjoy every bit of the planning!! We were so glad to gave our first GA visitors in town and show them around this place we are growing to love soooo much! On the way to the air port I wondered how I would feel as they left... Would I want to get on the plane and go to GA? I was a bit afraid of what emotion I would feel. What I learned is that I was sad, but not because I wanted to hop on the plane with them. I was sad because I want them to stay. The best way I can describe the feeling is that I wish I could bring all the people that I love from GA to CA. I learned that I am not dieing to go back, but I do miss people. So if I could just pack them all up and bring them the CA, that would be perfect. At first I thought "wow. Kinda selfish". Then I realized that it is a true view of how I feel about CA. I love it here and just wish everyone that I love from GA could experience it with us! My parents and sister are coming to visit in 50 days!! So I am totally jazzed about that, they will be here for Christmas... I feel some fast paced fun coming on. That is how my mom and I roll! Dad can keep up, but Haley and Luke may lag behind :) The two free spirits of the bunch, gotta love them!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

House in to a Home!!! Before and After.

Before Pictures
Paint Colors





After Pictures















I am so glad we are finished with this project! We have turned this house into a home for sure! So excited to see what comes our way next! :)

Much Love from CA,
Jess

FREE HOUSE!!! You heard me... FREE

So, a few weeks ago I posted about a flea problem at our first apartment. Well I was literally driven crazy by the pesky little things. I mean we were paying $1,100 to live in a place with fleas?.... That did not sit well with me. SOOOO... I got determined, determined to find something else. We have friends that gave us contact info for the Fuller Housing List. This list is basically a place where people can post apartments, houses, or rooms in a house for rent. And the rent is usually much cheaper than what would be found in the area. So, I get a copy of this list and start circling the places that could work for us. Then I come to a posting that says $0.00 in the price column. HMMM...Type-o? Maybe. Sketchy? Possibly. Worth a try? Totally. So I call the number and talk to the lady who owns the house (more on her another time). She asks us to come over and meet with her and see the place. When we arrive we walk up to this large property (in southern CA 2 acres is huge). We go into the house where meet Carolyn and Richard the 76 year old couple who live there. Here is what we found out...
- Carolyn has polio and is in a wheelchair with partial use of one arm.
- The rent is actually $0.00
- Our end of the deal would be to work with her on household chores from 9-12 Monday-Friday.
We get to see the house and it is a nice one bedroom house on the back of the property. We would have freedom to paint and make any changes we would like. The house has A/C which is hard to find in LA.
When we leave of course Luke is sold. But I was still skeptical. Not because of the couple or the house, but because I knew that most of the responsibility and work would fall on me. So I contacted the previous couple who lived in the house. She had nothing but great things to say about the time that she and her husband lived in the house. They lived in the house for 3 years and she said that if she had not started a new program at a University so far away they would still live there. She gave me all the details on working for Carolyn. After such a great convo I was sold too! We called Carolyn back and arranged a move in date.
Now we are living in this house for FREE. I still can't believe it! I spent a week before we moved in painting every room. (I will post before and after photos soon)
This situation is great for so many reasons. To name a few... Luke and I can both work part time instead of stressing over finding full time jobs that we enjoy here, we have waaay more space, and we get to connect with a great couple who don't know Jesus. So, this leads me to the REALLY amazing part. Carolyn told me that they put the house in the Fuller list in mid June and we were the first people to contact her. She said that it usually only takes a couple of weeks to get calls and have someone move into the house. But this time it took almost 2 months. As I thought about it, I feel like the house was waiting on us to realize we had options. We moved here just a few weeks after the house was posted and for some reason no one else called about a FREE house? No way. So Carolyn said to me "I just don't know why it took so long to fill the house this time." In my head I thought "I think I know why". What I mean by that is this... This FREE house with an atheist couple as landlords was waiting on us. I mean someONE bigger than me and you had to have organized this.
Needless to say this "crazy move" just got crazier!! I have only been working for Carolyn for 2 weeks and already have about a ton of stories to share. And in the end it took fleas to force me to realize that there were options outside of astronomical rent. Options that are only available if we are willing to trust Him, sacrifice of ourselves for others, and be willing to learn a lot about grace and humility. I am already seeing these things occurring in this situation, even after only a couple of weeks!
I am hoping to have the before and after pictures of the house up tomorrow so be looking out for that! And I know I have been slacking on the updates, but now that we are moved in and settled I am hoping to pick back up! I have lots to share about this amazing city, the people, and a new found appreciation for real and authentic faith!

One of our favorite parts about the house is the view.... (Those are orange, lime, lemon, and grapefruit trees that you see)

Here is a picture of the house from the outside....


West Coast Love,
Jess

Friday, September 3, 2010

Okay, Satan You Need to "Flea"

Think this title is strange?... hmm, yeah it is. Let me explain...
So, if you know me you know that I do NOT like animals.
I don't treat them poorly or wish bad upon them. But, I don't want them licking me, smelling me, jumping on me, or well really even looking at me. Animals make me nervous and they just aren't my thing. So you can imagine that I have no experience with fleas. Well... I do now. The story goes like this...
For a couple of days I was seeing this tiny black bug when I sat on the bed in the afternoon. It was almost always in the same exact spot. Weird. I just thought to myself "What are these gross little Pasadena bugs called?" The next day I saw one on the floor. These "Pasadena" bugs were almost impossible to kill. On day four of this I saw one on my leg right before I went to bed. When I went to kill it, the little thing JUMPED. Yep you heard me it JUMPED. Almost without thinking I killed it, got rid of it, washed my hands and then got into bed. After about 5 minutes of letting my mind unwind from the day it hit me "That bug was a FLEA!!!!". So I lay in the dark and say that out loud to the unconcerned human laying next to me, "Luke! That bug was a flea!!!" He is still not concerned. Shocker right?
Well, I am totally freaked out and start researching how to get rid of fleas. The next day I wash the sheets and go to the pet store, AKA my worst nightmare. I HATE the pet store! I get what we need, with the help of one of the salesmen at the pet store, since I have no clue what we are dealing with. I spray, clean, mop, and Luke thinks I am nuts. But, I KEEP finding them. I only actually saw about 4 in our apartment. However, I ended up finding bites on my arm. So, that was it, I was done! I go to the owner of the house we live in and very nicely ask "Have you guys ever had a problem with fleas?" He proceeds to tell me that they bombed their side of the house for fleas about a week ago. OMG! And no one told us? So he gives me a flea bomb, Luke and I prepare the apartment, Luke sets off the bomb and we spend the night with some friends. Luke on the floor, me on the couch. Oh, did I mention that Luke still thinks I am crazy at this point? Well he did. But he went along with the madness.
The next morning we arrive to clean up after the bomb and the owner of the house has someone re spraying the yard. Turns out the yard was INFESTED!!! UGH. You could not even stand near the yard without a flea jumping on you. Out of control! So I spray inside again, get my car shampooed (yes, fleas can get in your car). I do 16 loads of laundry at the laundromat to clean all clothes that were exposed, bedding, and towels. Luke and I are still unpacking items that we removed to keep away from the chemicals in the bomb. The worst part about this is that there is not even a dog living at this house. The fleas are from the 12 plus cats that live across the street and hang out in our yard at night. SOOOO gross. Now, I don't like dogs, but I REALLY don't like cats.
So this story may have a catchy title but it has truly made for the 2 most tiring and stressful days since we have been here! Since we moved to CA it is like Satan has just been picking on us, attacking like crazy. The plumbing in our apartment was out and caused us to leave for 4 days, I lost my job after only 3 weeks, Luke's job took a turn for the stressful and awful, Luke's brakes in his truck had to be replaced, and now fleas. So John 10:10 is playing in my head. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But, I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly. I know this was super long, but it needed to be told! :) Oh and I need to mention that Luke doesn't think I am so crazy anymore! What would he do without me?

Love from CA,
Jess

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Long Time No Blog :)

Above: At a Dodger's game. I must say that the stadium has the best view and the weather here is perfect for outdoor events!

So it has been a while since I have blogged. So sorry about that... Honestly, I just didn't have a ton to say! Things are going on here, more than I can name. We are super busy, but it's as if my mind is still processing it all! So for now I can update on a few things

1) Luke and I are both working. He is working with a group called United Steps and I am a nanny for a family about 25 minutes away from Pasadena for a fun family!

2) Since Mosaic has several campuses all over LA it is most effective to pick one campus where you will serve. We live in Pasadena and there is a Pasadena campus that is amazing and is filled with amazing people. However, Luke and I are both drawn to the community at the Mayan campus. I really feel like the community and the vision at the Mayan is perfect for where I am on this journey. One thing I should mention about the Mayan is that it is a gathering in downtown LA that meets in a night club (called the Mayan). The atmosphere is so different from any other gathering I have ever experienced. There are so many fun and interesting people that show up each week to learn, search, worship, experience God, etc and I just can't get over the beauty of this. Plus many of the people are our age and/or have also relocated from another state! Which is always so fun to meet people who are not from CA, it seems as though there is some kind of automatic connection!

3) I have started Life in Christ which is a mentor process for people who want to be part of the core of Mosaic. It has been great learning and studying the core values of such an amazing community of believers. I have an awesome mentor named Alisha and I am so loving our time together!

4) I am feeling really blessed to be surrounded by so many creative and interesting people!

5) Luke's doctor appointments have been going well and his health is great!

Anyway I have so much to say. I have so much to share. I just have to pace myself as I process the newness and beauty of it all! But, LA is now home and I am thankful for that. Sometimes it is hard and terrifying, but calling it home still seems to fit perfectly. Crazy?? Totally! I know it is crazy, but somehow it fits... I think I have a sneaking suspicion as to how it is all fitting and the peace found in this new place that sometimes can be described as the antonym of peace! It is something (someONE) bigger than me, bigger than all of this, and I am thankful.

Thanks for reading, thank you for caring, praying, and loving us on this journey!
Updates will be more frequent! Promise!

Love from the west coast,
Jess

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Honest Update! These are always fun.

Luke and I got to go to Disneyland on Friday and it was magical! We had a great day with a group from First Baptist Tifton. SO great to hear some southern accents and be near people who share my love for Chick Fil A! Disneyland is a lot like Disney World, but smaller and not quite as dramatic. Which I loved because it did not take us long to get from one ride to the next and it was just easier to navigate! There were not a ton of people there so we made it through the lines pretty quickly which was nice. And do you want to know the best part about Disneyland? Well, it was the end of July and it was not HOT AND SWEATY like Orlando. I mean I wore capri jeans and a t shirt and was never hot or cold! It was perfect :) Welcome to CA... I love it. Also, the Space Mountain at Disneyland is waaaayyy better than Disney World. I believe we rode it 4 times! :) Don't get me wrong I have a huge amount of awesome memories in Orlando at Disney World, but I must say that I throughly enjoyed my experience at Disneyland.


Well, we have been getting settled in and seeing as Luke was here for 6 months prior he has fallen right back in the swing of things. Me on the other hand... I am definitely glad to be here and I am enjoying the adventure. However, I am having a hard time with the fact that I feel so disconnected. I have always had a tight group of core friends who I could always call if I needed something or just to hang out. People that "got" me. Here, I just don't feel like I have friends, not real friends. I know this takes time, but I am having a hard time with this because I have grown up with life long friends (Sarah Beth, Jessica, Shanna, Allison, etc.) And now I find myself feeling so overwhelmed as I walk in to rooms full of new people. They all seem to know each other or they just have that personality that is crazy fun and willing to just jump right into the conversation. So tonight, like many other nights in social situations lately I found myself sitting... it was almost like a dream. People were buzzing about, talking, laughing, and there I sat... watching it all happen. I wanted to cry, I wanted to cry hard. I miss my friends, I miss all things familiar, I miss knowing how to get places, I miss not feeling like I am constantly intruding or bothering people when I try to make plans with someone. Now I need to be clear that no one hear has done anything intentional to make me feel this way. This is 100% me and I am taking ownership of these emotions.
I realize that part of the issue is that when I build relationships with others I want to know you, really know you. Not just your name and your profession, I want to invest in you and build real relationship. People do that here, but not as often or intentionally as I do. Everything is so fast pace and I have not had much room for real friendships to form. I am pretty foreign to this feeling, because I have always made friends fairly easily. However, there are 2 girls that I do feel like I am building friendship with. Alisha and Christina. At this point I am so thankful for just the small amount of time I have spent getting to know them. And I can guarantee you they dont even know that I feel this way! Each of them have taken time to ask me questions and get to know me, this means a lot at this point in the journey. Because most days I feel lost and a little confused. I have gone from working full time and being surrounded by family and friends to no job and no family and friends. So I have concluded that it is not the place where I live that that made me confident and strong, but the people and the relationships. I will say that I do not know how Luke moved out here alone and stayed for 6 months. If I did not have him and our ever growing relationship I don't think I would be able to stay! I know that the friendship will come and I will feel more like I belong, but for now it is a struggle. A struggle I am willing to face.
On the bright side, I do love the weather and I am getting pretty good at navigating through Pasadena (still working on LA) :). I have a lead on a job, so I will keep you posted on that. Let's see what else?... hmm I can clean our apartment from top to bottom in like 30 minutes (great thing about a small place)... Oh I am doing okay with the cooking. Nothing too crazy but I have successfully prepared several meals. I am sure there are lots of other great things I am leaving out. So, see the good outweighs the bad for sure. But just wanted to share my heart. Remember back in January when I promised to be honest and open about this journey? Well there ya go! It has been an awesome journey so far, but not without struggle. I believe that as humans we sometimes put on a smile for each other and essentially lie to one another about the tough stuff in this life. I refuse to do this. Life is so much more fulfilling and meaningful when we are honest with one another! So the update is that we are doing great, I am adjusting, better in some ways than others but adjusting just the same, Luke has a part time job with a non profit (I will blog about that more later), and I am still job searching. Thanks for reading and I will update again soon!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Beauty. Pure Beauty.

So as we have traveled across the country to California and then up the coast to San Francisco I have seen many beautiful things. None as beautiful as this video. Thankfully this is one of many beautiful stories of adoption. No matter if it is from a far away place or right here in the USA, there is something magnificently BEAUTIFUL about the journey of these families. Loving His children and welcoming them into a home where they too can know Him and change the world for His good. His stirring continues in my heart about the thought of adoption. Not now. But there is something there, something brewing. In his perfect and beautiful time I hope that we will follow His prompting to love a special child in need of a family. Only He knows. I can't wait to see where the journey takes us. For now we will continue to pray for and support these families in whatever way we can. Just wanted to share.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fear and LA Driving...


So over the past year I have really dealt a lot with fear. Fear that I have allowed to rule my life for far too long! Fear of "messing up" or doing the "wrong thing", fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of the future... okay you get the picture! Well I have really struggled and grown in this area of my life. It is safe to say that I will continue to do so! However, having moved to CA brought on a new fear... DRIVING in LA!!!!

So I have been driving around Pasadena which is where we live, but I was totally avoiding driving in Los Angeles. I was content to let my LA taxi driver (aka: my husband) drive me around. Then it happened, I had an event with Mosaic that I really wanted to attend and Luke... had a bible study he couldn't miss. I had to get myself to an event that would take me quite a distance and through LA. Let me just say... was terrified! I mean I know I grew up 20 outside of Atlanta, but let's be clear... I did not enjoy driving in Atlanta. Another fact that I have learned after driving tonight is that Atlanta roads and traffic are NOTHING compared to this massive place! People here do NOT slow down to let you over, you better just get over almost like you don't even see the car coming.

So here is the update... I MADE IT!!! Once again, I had allowed myself to hear driving in LA so much that I avoided it for the first 6 days of our life here in CA. Now that is just crazy, because it really wants that bad. I mean I was not super relaxed or comfortable but I made it and I am proud of myself. The fear that I had built in my mind had me thinking that I would be in tears by the time I hit the 110 (which is one of the oldest highways in America- That's just a fun fact from Luke) or that I was going to have to pull off on the side of the road and call Luke to come get me because "I just couldn't do it". HA! This is completely dramatic because we all know that if at all possible I will do what I need to do without asking for help! Anyway, as I was driving home I was thinking about what a great example this is of how fear can rule our lives if we let it... So I made it! I'm not dead! I accomplished something I was afraid to do and I even learned in the process. Awesome!

Tomorrow Chick Fil A for the first time in 2 weeks!!! I am thrilled :)


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Here are some pictures of our new home! We have had fun setting up and settling in! So many great memories are already being formed. We are thankful for the Mosaic community here in LA and for the support of our family and friends in GA!
I just can't believe that our front yard has this huge palm tree!! What? I love it!

This is our entrance to the apartment. It is on the side of the house. The house is actually really big, but the sweetest little family lives in and owns the larger part! They have been amazing!
Kitchen table!!
The bathroom is still a work in progress as far as decorating goes! I have some ideas but have not completed them yet!


Luke's school area


You can actually see the ENTIRE apartment if you stand at the front door! Very small... but so are we, so it works out!

Our new street. You see who parks on the street... not me :)

Luke and I leave on Thursday for Carmel, CA in Northern California! This will be our honeymoon, since the time right after the wedding was mostly spent crammed in a car with my entire life packed with us! So after almost 2 weeks of unpacking, setting up, and for me adjusting to a new place we will take a much needed get away for just the 2 of us! I am aware it will most likely be the last one for a REALLY long time!! So we plan to enjoy every second. We are excited to drive up the coast, we have heard it is an amazing drive with beautiful scenery. We are planning on spending on day in San Francisco since it is only about 2 hours from Carmel!