August 30, 2010

Community: A Letter To My Home Team

If I have learned anything in 2010, it’s that there are few things as valuable as strong community. To say this year got off to a bad start would be a huge understatement. In my first post of 2010, I wrote about how I feared things would change this year. Had I known how true those words would become, I would have dug myself a hole and stayed there. Call me a modern-day prophet? I'm kidding, but it's almost eerie how I predicted this year going.

Our group of friends became family so quickly that I often forget we’re not actually related. We love each other that well. But this year none of us have been able to escape life’s ugliness. We have faced trials none of us were prepared for.

The first half of this year I struggled immensely with “Why?” I thought maybe we had done something wrong. Maybe things had been too good. Maybe our paths were changing and because our trials were too much to endure, the community as we had known it would never be the same.

Maybe I would lose them.

I felt like I was clinging on for dear life.

I was wrong. And surprisingly it took a week on the road for me to truly understand just what it was God was up to.

A few weeks ago I was on the road to promote Jars of Clay’s new record, The Shelter. The basic theme of The Shelter is community. The band got the idea from old Irish words that say, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”

While we were visiting with a radio station, Dan, the lead singer of the band said something that literally made me whisper under my breath…that’s it! It was one of those moments I will never forget. He said that the church often tells us to seek out community so that we can find a safe place with like-minded people. But that’s only half of it. It’s important to have a safe place with people that think the way we do, but the other half of community is this: it is in the safety of community that we link arms and together go out into unsafe places.

This year has been full of unsafe places – pain, loss, uncertainty…

God was never trying to tell me that our messiness was punishment. Instead he showed me that he had prepared us for such a time as this. The good years we shared together were great, and there is far better to come, but what we didn’t realize was that during this year’s painful season, he was equipping us to carry each other into the unsafe.

I came home more thankful for my home team than ever before. I truly believe that the painful season is beginning to come to a close, but it was in the painful moments that I learned just how safe I am; knowing my “family” will never let me go. I wish I would have been able to realize that from the beginning, but it’s such a big lesson that I understand now why God asked me to walk it out. The journey now involves reminding myself of that each day.

I know many people don’t read this blog and I’ve always written it just for me, but I can say this from experience: if you are going through pain and uncertainty, cling to your home team. Don’t walk away when life gets ugly, even when it feels like the easiest thing to do. I'm a runner; I very well know it's not easy to stick it out. Don’t assume you are being punished; instead assume there is a big lesson to be learned. Open your eyes to the love that surrounds you and your heart to the people who make this life worth living. You will reach the other side together, so much stronger than before.

To my dear home team, I love all of you more than words can express. I hate that this year has been so difficult, but I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) have walked this road with anyone else.


Now I say let’s celebrate the good times ahead of us! At the beach, perhaps?

August 24, 2010

The Good Life

Last Friday night my good friend Mary met me in New Jersey where I was working an event just outside of Newark. She was so excited to try her hand at the music biz, so I quickly put her to work at the merch table. She loved being a "roadie!"

We spent the rest of the weekend walking all over Manhattan, which included a long stroll through Central Park, a stop at Dean & Deluca and lunch at the fabulous Cafe Lalo. It was wonderful to catch up.  I love that no matter how long we go without seeing each other, we always pick up right where we left off.

We wrapped up the weekend just outside of Philadelphia where Mary and her husband Ryan will be living for the next year while Ryan finishes school. I fell in love with her new town, West Chester. Todd and I are already making plans to visit next spring.

I didn't take my camera with me, but I did have a nifty Flip-cam on hand and decided to experiment with video for the first time. Below is a quick recap of our time in New York and West Chester. Don't judge too harshly - I had no idea what I was doing!

*Song - The Good Life by One Republic

I was going to make a cameo, but apparently Mary didn't know to turn the record button on. Ha! Oh well, I never like watching myself on video anyway.

Hope you had a great weekend!

August 15, 2010

When The Husband Is Away

Yesterday Todd had plans of his own, and since for the time being we are a one car family (sigh), I was left to amuse myself at home. It didn't take long to find ways to keep busy.

For one, I learned how to use the pressure washer. After about 30 minutes of figuring out how to turn it on, I hosed off the front porch and gave our rocking chairs a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately it was way too hot for me to stay out for long, so I went back in to find other ways to occupy my time.

Luckily the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living had arrived and while I've been debating renewing my subscription, I was super excited about the September issue. I finally landed on a paint color for our guest bathroom. I've been looking at paint for the last three years, and I think I have finally found it.

The color is called "Flagstone" and it's in the Martha Stewart collection - why wouldn't it be? Martha's kitchen is painted this beautiful earthy color and after seeing her photos, I can't wait to transform our bathroom.

Reading Martha put me in the baking mood, so I finally tried The Pioneer Woman's blackberry cobbler. The recipe is in her cookbook, but you can also find it on her website. It's incredibly simple to make and tastes delicious!

Since I was without a car, I decided to do some virtual shopping. If we weren't approaching the end of summer (and I had an extra $288 lying around), I would so buy this dress from Emersonmade. Maybe it will go on sale?

We're typically go-go-go on the weekends, but yesterday was a much needed lazy, girlie day at home.  I have to fit those in when I can; my lazy Saturdays are often filled with the sounds of baseball and XBox!

How did you spend your Saturday?

August 13, 2010


I have lots to say and nothing to say at the same time. How does that happen?

I know I mentioned writing a follow-up post about community, but I'm still processing my thoughts and for now I'm keeping them to myself (and those closest to me) until I figure out how to put words to those thoughts. I will say this, God answered a lingering question for me. One I've been asking since January first of this year. It's crazy that He had me go hundreds of miles from home for me to finally figure it out, but I really think I did.

From here on, 2010 is going to be different.

Todd and I recently started living a "new" normal. Several weeks ago he changed jobs and is now self-employed. Eek! Self-employment has always scared me and I've never really been a fan, but God is blessing us in ways I couldn't have imagined. Who would have thought Todd would be busier now than when he worked for a large company? Now if I can just get over my jealousy of him staying at home, we'll be good! My mom was self-employed most of my life. She owned a successful jewelry store/repair shop for nearly 15 years. It was great to spend time with her a few weekends ago. She definitely calmed my fears and made me realize self-employment can actually be really beneficial. In fact, she just recently opened a new jewelry repair shop in North Carolina. More proof that she really is a fan of being her own boss.

Since Todd is working from home, we decided he needed a much better, faster computer. So we are now officially a Mac family! I know, we're really behind, but I'm still excited. It's just so pretty.

Now that I'm home I'm ready to start cooking again. It's been a long time since I've been creative in the kitchen. When I got back from my trip, I spent half a day catching up on all of my favorite Food Network shows. Giada made an amazing salmon recipe that I'll have to try eventually, but this weekend I think I'll stick to my trustworthy Cooking Light magazine and try the Southwest Salsa Burgers. Yum!

I'm trying to take it slow the next few days since I'm heading back out next week. I'm pretty thrilled about my upcoming trip. I'll be spending the weekend in New York / Philadelphia with Mary, one of my best friends from high school. I really can't wait!

So there's my random update. Have a great weekend!

August 6, 2010

Miles Apart

I'm finally home and I missed this little blog. A lot has happened since I've been away, including an incredible shout-out from Shauna after I reviewed her new book here.

I don't really know where to start. Since the last time I wrote I have been in St. Louis, Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Columbia, SC, Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa. Whew!

I packed my new handy-dandy camera thinking I would take more pictures than I could count, and yet I only really took pictures of our trip to St. Louis. Todd and I had a great time with his parents. It was a super quick trip, but we were able to take in a Cardinals game and I was finally able to experience "The Hill." I fell in love and can't wait to go back!

We visited some eclectic shops, I got my first bottle of olive oil from Di Gregorio's, we watched the Cards destroy the Pirates 11-1, and I met some of Todd's family for the first time. Great trip.

From there I flew to Raleigh to spend some much needed time with my mom, her husband and my sister. I don't get to see them nearly enough. My sister, the recently graduated cosmetology student, graciously cut my hair for free then stayed up late watching E! with me. I really wish she lived closer. 

The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. I was on a radio promo trip with Dan from Jars of Clay and for the first time I experienced the "what town are we in?" syndrome artists are often talking about. I always thought it was funny to hear them say there were times they would get to a venue and not know which city they were in. That happened to me a couple of times. On Wednesday I was in Atlanta for breakfast, Orlando for lunch and Tampa for dinner. At one point while driving to Tampa I had completely forgotten that I had caught a plane that day and could have sworn I was still in Georgia. I blame it on the lack of sleep and crazy schedule. Regardless, I had a really good time and learned a lot about myself and the way I view community. I'm sure I'll have a blog post about my findings soon!

I missed you, little blog. It's good to be home.