On Staying

Avellino Wedding by Hilary Hyland Photography

I'm staring at boxes.

I think now is when we decide to become minimalists. Minimalism sounds so romantic when you're packing.

But back to the boxes. They are covering the floor, our bedroom, and hallways. Our roommates dog is scared, he runs quickly through towers of boxes to get his breakfast. I'm scared too buddy.

They're staring at me to fill but I just had to come here first. I had to come to you. A few words on planting roots, settling down [why has that always sounded so boring to me] and staying were pressed on my heart.

Buying a house doesn't mean you're stuck [thanks Dad] but it does mean you're sticking around for a bit.

And this place wasn't where I wanted to stick around a year ago.

Sure, I thought it'd be sweet to begin our marriage in a small town, a place Matt had grown familiar to. Plus I was tired of the hustle and bustle of a city and wanted a change of pace. And as a lover of travel and new places, I celebrated the idea of starting somewhere brand new. So we moved.

But on one stipulation, I'd gently nudge and throw at Matt through the course of that year, nearly everyday - after this it's Africa.

After this we're doing something radical and different and not so vanilla.

I've always been a wanderer. I've always had a restless spirit. Committing to anything past college threw me into a frenzy of anxiety and worry. It's why marriage was so terrifying. It's why signing a lease always felt like all bets were off, life as we knew it was over. Dramatic? Maybe a little.

But the truth is, I'm not very good at staying. I haven't lived anywhere longer than a year in the past 6 years.

I stay long enough to share all the parts of myself, to be open and vulnerable and then I run. It's like the honesty and rawness becomes too much and I have to go. I have to start somewhere fresh again because I think I am locked into one identity. I think settling is lame. So I leave, ripping up roots, yet clinging to them with all my might.

I land in the next place - wherever that is - dreaming of back there, the place I was before, the place I felt known and accepted.

It's a cycle I've lived for years.

For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of place - living out west, the town my grandparents were born in Ireland or a village in Africa. Place has always meant purpose. It's meant a cool story, exciting pictures to post, adventure, and thrill.

But God wrecked me this year because he gave us people.

He surrounded us with community and friendships so deep and thick that it feels as though we've known each other way before this little town. He's laid the art of neighboring on my heart in a way it's never been done before. He's shown me, through others, what being a good neighbor really means.

What being a good friend really means.

So as we rounded out our first year here last September, instead of talking about where we might want to move, we looked at homes. We decided to plant our feet and heart. We decided to give it our all and love people the best we could. We decided to be honest with any pain, regret, or shame with friends who deserved to hear that part of our story.

Running away just wasn't an option.

Staying was.

Don't get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe in travel and exploration. I believe moving to a place just to move is great. There is a big, beautiful world to see.

But I also believe in seasons - a time for staying and going. A time for planting and uprooting. A time to plow and harvest

And right now is a season of planting. 

Because I think something is being built here and I want to see it through. I bet you see it in your towns too. I think God is doing something powerful in folks homes and around their tables, in coffee shops, and our Wednesday dance class.

I think a movement and awakening is rising and I don't really want to miss it.

I suppose these words are to thank all the people who've made our town home. It's to celebrate every coffee date and walk and dinner and yoga class and tear that has taught me how good it feels to stay.

Even when it's hard and a little terrifying.

Because it's worth it. It's worth digging our toes in, feeling the dirt between our fingers. When we put our blood and sweat into something we come out braver and stronger and sturdier than before.

And truthfully, I'm a little tired of running. I want to learn how to stay and commit and celebrate even in the mundane. I want to dream right here with what we've got and stop thinking there must be some other place that will make things easier and more exciting.

I want to stop craving more and be grateful for what is.

Reader, you are so dear to me. Thanks for helping me stay here on this little space too.

I hope you decide to stay in something or somewhere. I hope you stay connected to the vine or your own source of grace and truth, even if you don't see the fruit quite yet.

I hope you feel the love from a tribe of people who care so deeply for the person you are and becoming.

p.s This is also an invitation to come visit & stay with us. xoxo

my delight

FullSizeRender (4) The shop was really quiet.

Granted, it was 8:00am in the morning.  So, chances are, folks [including me] were waking up slow over a cup of a coffee.

But today was different.  Today we were loud and giggly and joyful.  Today, we seemed to forget everyone around us was real quiet and we shouted and moved around and made lots of noise.

I mean, we weren't exactly shouting.  We were just making a lot more noise than everyone else. And normally, I am so mindful of a space, of blending in, of following what other folks are doing.

And sometimes, that's exactly what we should do.  I mean, we shouldn't be yapping on our phone during a movie or play.

But for some reason, I stopped worrying if we were being too loud and just thought, "Friends, I think we've made it."  We've made it to that space I always hoped we'd get too.  One that takes time and commitment and vulnerability.

We've made it to the space where we are really close, where we really get each other, where it's okay to come just as you are.

It's encouraged to laugh really hard in a quiet room.

It's okay to admit it's been a few days since you've showered.

It's welcomed to vent about work and people that test your patience and moments where you feel really awkward.

You can share all of that.  I delight in you and you delight in me.  And those things, they don't define how I see you.

I LOVE this place.  I love it so much.  It makes me giddy and hopeful and childlike.

It reminds me that building community in a place you never expected to land is totally and completely worth it.

It also reminds me of a time when Matthew and I were dating.

We were way passed the just getting to know you stage, but, I wouldn't say we had arrived to the place I described above.  We liked each other and all, we celebrated our differences [and bickered over those differences] but we still held back a little.

I remember standing by my car in the parking deck.  It was a Sunday.  I didn't particularly like Sundays while were dating.  The whole long distance thing made Sundays hard because it meant saying goodbye.

I lurv Sundays now.

Any who, we were standing there, facing each other, the moon was full and bright.  I always did like this part - the part leading up to a smooch.  Can you feel the romance?

Matthew leaned in, ever so sweet and slow, to give me a kiss and..

FART.

Yes.

He farted.

Then he shrugged his shoulders, laughed, and gave me the smooch anyways.

And before you think I am completely bizarre and crazy to go there [maybe I am], to switch from a sweet coffee date with girlfriends to a, uh, fart.

Hear me out.

Because as silly as it sounds, as bizarre as it all might seem, I thought, in that moment, "Yup. We have arrived."

FINALLY.

We are real people.  We're people who make mistakes and sometimes don't know what to say and forget to call each other back and say things we don't mean.  We're people who fart. [If you dislike that word, my apologies - I'm done:)]

We're people who bust a move in the kitchen, only to trip over our own feet. We're people who cry during and after a really good Hallmark movie.  We're people who get really attached to characters in books and shows and wonder, "Are they doing okay??"

We're people who send photos like this to their husband while he's out of town for work.

FullSizeRender (5)

Maybe it's the warmer weather and lighter days.  Maybe it's the changing seasons, one from turning inward to the other pushing out and through.

I'm not sure what it is, but lately, I've been aching for the unfiltered and the un-staged.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good photo of freshly baked bread or bowl of soup on instagram. For reals.  I really, really do.

But more than all of that, I crave to see and share and tell what's happening during the in between.

The part after a really good homemade meal.  Where you're just left feeling so full and grateful you sort of get quiet and stare at the one you love from across the table.

The part during an argument where you finally let go of needing to be right and just decide - this it isn't worth the fight.  Want to make up instead?

Maybe it's my love for stories and the simple.  Maybe it's my fascination with people and where they're headed and where they've been.

I'm really not sure.

All I know is that Wednesday was good and raw and full.  And I didn't have to do a thing to make that happen.

Sometimes we just gotta come to the table as we are - bruised, giddy, sleepy, overly caffeinated and grateful.  And welcome others to do the same.

Because when we do, it's really delightful.