Happy one year DC-iversary to us!

On February 3, 2012 I woke up, headed to the Nashville airport, said goodbye, and boarded a plane for this new life.

I can’t believe it’s now been a year. So much changed last February.

We traded a 1900 sq. foot house with a yard for a 2-bedroom, 6th floor condo. A comfortable job for one that has stretched me in all possible ways. A fantastic church where we had put down roots to the challenge of starting over. A town full of people we knew to one where we were brand new.

It’s kind of crazy to look back and see how far we’ve come in 12 months. To see God’s provision through every step of the way. Continue reading

Did I Embrace 2012?

One Word

At the beginning of 2012 I wrote a post called “Embracing 2012“. Embrace was my one word to focus on for the year, instead of all sorts of different new year’s resolutions. 2012 was my year to embrace a new season of life, with all of the challenges, obstacles, and opportunities that would come with it. You can read that original post here.

So how did I do?

It was quite a year, full of all of those things listed above: challenges, obstacles, and opportunities. Moving to a new state, adjusting to a new lifestyle, learning a new job, finishing my MBA, being lonely & trying to slowly make friends, settling into a church, and growing immensely spiritually…

Here’s what I wrote I would try to do at the beginning of the year & some reflections on each:

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Catching up with the Barnes…

In a nutshell… It has been a busy, stretching year. Time has flown by more quickly than I’ve ever been used to. We’ve now been in the DC area for 8 months, which is hard to believe.

In hindsight, I wish I had written more along the way. It’s been quite a journey. I feel like I’ve been stretched in every way possible. But in all honesty, starting a new job, part of it is a balancing act of figuring what you can & can’t say (or should/shouldn’t). Part of it has been the fact that I get home in the evenings feeling pretty drained & find it hard to exert the effort to write (or insert other productive activity). So for all that I’ve missed, here is the brief overview. If you were to call me and ask me about our transition, this is much of what I’d probably tell you… Continue reading

The Difficulty with Dreaming

This is a post about dreams. My sweet friend & sister in “leap of faith” adventures, Lindsey, encouraged me to participate in this link-up. We both, around the same time, gave up our stable lives and made big moves to follow our dreams.

Three years ago I found my dream job. But, it wasn’t yet to be… It wasn’t time.

A year ago, it popped back up, and about 4 months ago I took it – working in marketing at International Justice Mission. I dreamed of making a difference, as part of this amazing organization that is helping combat violent oppression against the poor around the world. So we uprooted our comfortable lives and moved 700 miles away to start this new, great adventure.

You could say that I’m living my God-given dream. I believe this is what He created me to do. And yet, it is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
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Emerging from our black hole

So it has been a wild ride these last 3 months or so. A little bit chaotic. I feel a bit like we’ve been shoved into a black hole that has sort of consumed us, and we might just now be starting to emerge.

I was hoping to blog through a lot of this transition, but just haven’t been able to bring myself to write much.

On the work side of things, know that I don’t have a lot to compare to. I was at my last company for about 6 years. So this might be a normal experience for anyone changing companies/industries. I’m not sure. The first couple of weeks of work, I was dead tired every day. I (supposedly) had the same number of hours in each day, but couldn’t seem to get anything done outside of work. I’d come home & feel completely drained. Ready for bed pretty quickly. I guess mental stimulation/exhaustion plays a large role, maybe?
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Spring is Here

Spring is definitely here, and I’m not talking about the weather or the time of year. I’m talking about this season of life. About 9 months ago I wrote a post called Embracing This Season. (click the title to read it in a new window) God had been speaking to me in themes, about the different seasons of life. We had been feeling really restless, like we were in a state of limbo, not sure of where we were supposed to be, or what we were supposed to be doing. We knew that God was preparing us for something. We just didn’t know what or when.
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Another Piece of the Puzzle

This transition has been a wild ride. From the beginning, we knew it’s what we were supposed to do – that it was God’s plan for us, even if we didn’t know how it was all going to play out. We took a leap of faith. Slowly, but surely, the pieces began to fall into place. It’s all been a huge lesson on waiting and trusting. First, with my job opportunity, second, with finding a place to live here, then, with our house in Nashville being taken care of. (Check out my post He Said “Trust Me” for a longer version of that amazing story.)

But there’s been one large missing piece of the puzzle – Cason’s job. He’s been amazingly supportive. He was willing to pick up and move, not knowing when he’d be able to find a job, or what it would be. For that, I feel so blessed & grateful. He really is the best!

He decided to go ahead and sign up with a temp agency, to have something, while waiting for his next big thing to come around. And last Monday he started a temp job, doing database entry and research. It is Mon-Fri, regular business hours (so much better than another potential temp position he was facing that would have been sporadic days & sporadic hours). We were so grateful for this opportunity!

Then, randomly last Thursday evening, he got an email from the assistant principal that he had a phone interview with 5 or 6 weeks ago. He hadn’t gotten that job, but she remembered him, sending him an email asking if he was in town yet, if he could come in to meet with them, that they might have another PE teaching position. Cason went on Friday… yada, yada, yada… on Wednesday they called and offered him the job! He works this next week for the current temp job and will start the following Monday at the school.

It is a long-term substitute position through the end of the school year. If things go well (which of course we assume they will!), they’ll hire him on for next school year full-time! It is a K-8 school. He’ll be tasked with building a program for the middle schoolers. And, it’s only 2.5 miles from our place! Fabulous!

We don’t know where the story ends, but it is an exciting opportunity, and again, we’re just feeling incredibly grateful! God has been so good to us and it’s been a wild ride, watching these pieces fall into place, one at a time. It’s clearly been His hand at work and we’re privileged to be a part of the story.

I guess we’ll see what He has in store for us next!

Hello DC!

King Street in Old Town Alexandria, a couple miles from our place.

My last post was Farewell Nashville. My goodbye to the city that’s been my home for the last 6.5 years. This post is Hello DC! We have been catapulted into another life and this post is to celebrate some of the things we look forward to in the N. VA./DC area.

It has been 3 weeks since we moved here. It’s been a lot of adjusting, unpacking, settling, etc. In some ways, I feel like I’m just now getting my head back above water. I have plenty that I want to be writing about, but need to get back to it. So first up is this fun post.

Granted, I grew up only an hour from here. 45 minutes north of DC. But I really lived there from birth to 18 years old when I went off to college. We came to DC for school field trips and to go sightseeing when someone came to visit from out of town. But it’s so different now being in the area (& much closer to DC) as an independent adult.

This new life is ripe with possibilities of endless exploration. We are a couple miles from DC. (9 miles from the White House, for a little perspective.) It is a 7 minute walk from our condo to the nearest metro station, which gives us some wonderfully easy access. From my office I can see the Pentagon and the Washington monument. It’s really surreal some days to look out and go, “oh, look, there’s the Pentagon.”

So in no particular order, here are some of the things I’m really excited about:

  • Old Town Alexandria is 2 miles away. It’s a super cute little downtown area, filled with all of the cute boutiques and restaurants you could ever want. For our Nashville friends, it’s kind of like Franklin times 10.
  • The endless supply of museums, monuments, and historical sites that are only a short metro ride away. Many of these I’ve probably been to in my growing up years, but I hardly remember some of them (Mt. Vernon, getting a tour of the White House, etc). It will take years to explore the plethora of these.
  • Miscellaneous cultural events, like Passport DC, which is happening in May. It’s where all of the embassies host open houses & events that you can just bounce around to.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival, in March/April. This is something else I’m sure I’ve been to, but I really don’t remember it.
  • A whole new world of potential weekend trips – Williamsburg, Philadelphia, New York City, etc. It’s nice to have more options than just Chattanooga now!
  • Riding the metro to work. Without the stress of navigating traffic, I’ll be able to read a book or something, and get some walking in on either end. I’ll start this up March 1st.
  • Restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. Any type of food you could ever want to find. And I love international cuisine. Now I just need to be able to finance my eating habit!

It’s kind of invigorating to be thrust into a very different world. We’ve already had plenty of “we’re-not-in-kansasnashville-anymore” moments. Like the fact that it took us 15 minutes to drive 3 miles south to a nearby shopping center yesterday [the traffic is definitely something to get used to]. Or how this area is so diverse – by income, ethnicity, age, etc. There are pockets of super nice housing 2 blocks away from really rundown areas, and there are people of every ethnicity (way more than the places we’d  frequent most in Nashville).

A huge bonus to being here – the proximity to so many members of my family. My parents are an hour away. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins are 30-40 minutes. Other grandparents are 2 hours. Brother, sister-in-law, 2 nephews are 4 hours north (which is an amazing difference from what we were before). And next summer, my other brother will be about an hour away. This is huge! We can be around for birthdays, to go to dinner, to see my cousin play football. I don’t even know what that’s like!

I think I’m starting to decide that I want to set a goal for us, so that we don’t get trapped into what feels too comfortable and not get out and about. Maybe something like exploring/doing 3 new things a month. We’ve already purchased a deal to do a walking restaurant tour in Georgetown. I can’t wait! Now we just need to set a date.

So Hello DC! We sure have some exploring to do!

Last Monday, we wandered over to the President's Day parade in Alexandria. So much fun!

Caught Between Two Worlds

So January 2012 is flying by. I’ve had every intention of writing more. There are so many things going on that I’ve wanted to write about, but it’s that same number of crazy things that keep me too busy to write.

Here’s just a taste:

Week of January 1st – I worked at Thomas Nelson, lived at home in Nashville and worked toward all of the logistics that moving requires – finding a place to live, getting our house listed for rent, etc.

Week of January 8th – I went up to Arlington, VA, where I lived in a hotel for a week and dove into new employee training week at International Justice Mission.

Week of January 16th – Back in Nashville, I’m working my final week at Thomas Nelson. Booking moving trucks, one-way plane tickets, & the car shipper.

Week of January 23rd – Still in Nashville, but will be working full-time now for IJM, from home.

Week of January 30th – I will work for IJM from Nashville to start the week. The movers come to pack us up. I fly out on the 2nd and move into the new place in Alexandria, VA on the 3rd.

It’s getting out of hand. Just as a kicker, my last class for my MBA program also started this month. I’m starting to feel like a professional juggler.

Two jobs, two homes, two different lives…

Alexandria/IJM – A new job to learn, challenges to face, a whole new city to explore & conquer, new co-workers to meet…

Nashville/Thomas Nelson – A job to wrap up, wonderful co-workers to say goodbye to, a life to pack up, a house to rent, soaking up time with amazing friends and having to say goodbye to way too many…

I feel completely caught between two worlds.

I had an amazing week at International Justice Mission last week. I could write an entire post (or 4) on just everything I experienced and learned. I’m so excited for all that is in store!

But I’m starting to also go through a grieving process for my life here in Nashville. I’ve found myself way more emotional than normal. It’s hard to say goodbye. I’ve been so comfortable here for so long. This is the longest I’ve been in any one place, ever – 6.5 years. [I don’t count Clarksburg, MD, where I grew up, simply because I changed schools every 3 years or so.] I’ve been at the same job, in the same town for 6 years now. It’s not easy to wrap up into a tidy bow.

So I find myself getting emotional at random times these days – singing a random hymn in church on Sunday, sharing a last lunch together with a dear friend, hugging a co-worker goodbye today. I feel like I’m starting to have to say goodbye to someone every day now.

After spending last week away at IJM, as I flew back into Nashville on Saturday, I had this very strange feeling of “I don’t belong here anymore,” and that was strange. God, who has been planning this for our lives since before we were born, has been preparing us for this for a while now. He’s been slowing pulling up different roots, one at a time. I know it’s time to go, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.

An exciting journey lies ahead, but I have a life to say goodbye to here also. There’s a season for everything though, right…

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
     a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,   
     a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,   
     a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
     a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
     a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

 ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For now, I’m living life caught between two worlds.

Embracing 2012

2011 was okay. It certainly had its ups and downs. Nothing catastrophic, but it definitely had its disappointments and hard parts. For various reasons, we both really felt like we’ve been in a season of winter, for a while now. Winter being defined as a time to be still, quiet, a time to focus on being nourished and preparing for whatever lies ahead. We’ve been restless.

I actually started off 2011 with some thoughts that now seem so relevant. In my post Jan 3rd, 2011 post, “Thoughts for the New Year“, I wrote:

…Before God reveals to us our grand life purpose, he has some testing and refining to do in us. I feel like I am in a season of testing and refining, and this is definitely part of that. I want to be ready when called upon… to be trusted with my grand life purpose. Much of that means that I need to be a better disciple.

You could say that in many ways, 2011 was a year for preparation, even though we didn’t know what exactly we were preparing for. Well, we have a little better idea now, but there are still so many unanswered, big questions.

So in the spirit of picking one word to focus on for the new year, I’m claiming the word Embrace for 2012.

1) to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea or challenge.
2) to avail oneself of: to embrace an opportunity.

In 2012 we will move cross country, I will start an amazing new job, Cason will find/start a new job where hopefully he can thrive in his area of passion, we’ll make some drastic lifestyle changes, I’ll finish my MBA that I’ve been working on for almost 4 years, we’ll find our new place of ministry/service… and that’s all mainly now through May. I have no idea what May through December will hold.

I want to focus on embracing this new season of life, with all of the challenges, obstacles, and opportunities that come with it.

I want to:

  • Embrace the obstacles we’re experiencing right now as a way to grow in our faith and put our full trust in God’s plan for us.
  • Embrace the opportunity to live a new adventure, to meet new people, experience new places.
  • Embrace the challenge of a new job (in a new industry) with an organization that does amazing, life-altering work.
  • Embrace the difficult times ahead that will inevitably come with all of these new challenges, again, as a means to grow us personally, professionally, emotionally, & spiritually.
  • Embrace a new season of life and see how God will use us in it.

I am full of emotions about everything that lies before us. Emotions that can generally shift from one day to the next. But overall, I’m excited to see what 2012 has in store.

So here’s to embracing all that is to come!

What’s your One Word for 2012?