Three Years in California!
I’m sitting here in our apartment, that’s attached to our church, on our really comfy couch that was given to us, nearly brand new, drinking my coffee and looking out the freshly washed windows, at a palm tree that stands tall (in our front “yard”). And I’m thinking. And I’m kind of in awe. (it doesn’t take much)
Where am I? How did I end up here? Like, right here? In this apartment? In this town? I mean, I grew up in a town named Fremont, and now I live in a town named Fremont…on the other side of the country? What?!
And beaches and mountains and continual sunshine…? An indian restaurant at every corner? (A dream come true)
And these new people that I’ve met at this “cool” coffee shop…how is it that they’ve become some of my closest friends?
A place where, sometimes, you feel like you’re in a different country walking to the farmers market because you’re the only white person among the crowds. The center of all things social like Facebook and Instagram. Where some of the most intelligent people in the world are living? This is home?
I have often asked myself these questions over and over again these past 3 years. How did I end up here? And really the answer is simple and somewhat cliche, “because this is where God wants us to be.” Because, trust me, I don’t think we ever saw this in our future plans. But, let me tell you, this move has been one of the best and most exciting things to happen in our lives.
Today makes three years that we have lived in CA. I remember it like it was yesterday. When we reached the CA state sign and did that jump in the air picture, and barely made it 2 inches off the ground. Yeah, that was fun and exciting. Hudson was 2 months shy of 2 years old, and in 2 months he turns 5. What?! And I think, wow. Look at what God has done in these past 3 years.
This morning, Ricky and I dropped Hudson off at his second day of school at Weibel Elementary, 3 miles from us. (I’m so glad Ricky happened to have the mornings off work to help me drop him off, because you know how stressed we moms can get) Yesterday, at his first day, I shed just a couple tears. Today, the floodgates opened and it was one of those, “ugly, hold your face with both hands, violently shaking crys.” (Come on, we’ve all been there) But not just because I was “sad” that my baby was growing up. Or because I was fearful of something happening to him. Or because I was worried he was going to talk too much in his “studious, inquisitive, I already know that” sort of manner. (I definitely felt those things)
But because, I truly felt God’s presence with me in that moment, reassuring me that this is where He wants us. After I dropped Hudson off at school I went home and read this Scripture, ” These things I have spoke to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
And I focused on that truth. Because in my flesh, I wanted to think about how I failed miserably these past 3 years in my personal life, in my family life, and in my church life. I wanted to dwell on my selfishness, my discouragement, my fear of man in the choices we’ve made. And I felt the fight. “But take courage, I have overcome the world.” And God was there. And when I felt super alone in that moment, I felt the Peace of God come over me. The truth in Scripture and in song encompassed my soul, and I didn’t need to worry. Or fear.
I can’t help but share what God is doing in our lives. And what he has done in these past few years. Because, as our pastor has been teaching, we all have a story. And our story isn’t over. And we are not the author of our story; God is. So here’s what’s going on in our story.
We enjoyed a fast paced summer, mostly swimming, camping, and building legos. We have stayed up late adventuring or doing family movie nights or projects, and Hudson and I have enjoyed sleeping in almost every day! Two days in to school, and I am feeling the TIRED. (Yes, I made that phrase up) But, we are excited for new routines and schedules. I just need to go to bed earlier.
On a more serious note, We went through one of the most difficult things in June. We have had the desire to grow our family for some time now, and were excited when we found out I was pregnant in early June. At 6 weeks, I miscarried right before we left for our camping trip to Colorado. I don’t intend to go deep into this subject, at this time, but I will briefly touch on it. Miscarriage is one of the hardest things to go through. And a lot of times, people don’t know how respond. Honestly, I didn’t even know how to respond. In my attempt to process, I found myself just weeping and grieving and not understanding. If you have gone through this, finding 1 or 2 close friends or mentors to talk to can help tremendously in processing and thinking through what is still true about our God and about ourselves. If you are the one hearing this from a friend, just know they need you to listen and love. I know everyone grieves differently, but being able to talk through the weeping, without barely taking a breath, about every single emotion and thought you are having, can truly be a relief. Guilt and shame and the feeling of failure often times are the strongest emotions felt during this time, and a godly friend or mentor can help you process those emotions. I share this experience with you to encourage those who have had similar experiences to let yourself grieve. Cry. Talk. Seek truth. I am currently reading two books on this topic that I will link below. Although I have not finished them yet, they have been a source of comfort and help to point me to Christ.
Grieving the Child I Never Knew
This experience provided some great opportunities to talk with Hudson about death, prayer, and how God is in control of our lives. He has been ready for quite some time for a baby brother or sister, and he prays every single day, “God, please give mommy a baby.” So when we told him the news he was overjoyed. A few weeks later we told him the “other” news. I know some may think it’s young to talk with a 4 year old about death and the sadness it brings, but the close deaths in my family have led to great opportunities to explain the gospel, heaven, and hope in Jesus to Hudson. This isn’t an easy world to live in, and there’s no denying Hudson will face some sort of serious sadness in his life. Whether its the realization of his own depravity, or a death of a friend, or sickness. It has already happened as he felt the sadness with us when we told him about losing the baby. I have grieved with him, shown my tears, and explained that we should pray, but that we don’t know the answer God will give us. The night I found out I was having a miscarriage, I went into Hudson’s room and laid next to him for awhile. We talked and prayed together. What transpired during that time was something I will never forget. I left the room and immediately went to my journal to write down the words.
“Hudson prayed, help me to obey, and please give mom a baby.” He then asked what the baby’s name will be and if we could ask Jesus when we get to heaven what his name was. As I started crying, He asked if I was crying because the baby inside me had died and if I was sad because I didn’t have one. And I looked at him and said, God gave me you. And I am so happy and thankful I have you. He looked at me and said, ” I am so glad too, mom. I am so sorry that happened to you and that the baby died.” And then he kissed me.
And in that moment, we were grieving together. But, at the same time, so thankful we had each other. How could we not still find joy in that moment, when our love for each other was so strong? God had given us so much. And he was teaching us so much.
So we pray. I pray that God will give Hudson a baby brother or sister (to which he adds, “but you need to say, I really want a sister), and Hudson prays that God gives mommy a baby. And Ricky prays more theological things. 🙂 And we ask that you pray with us. And we hope one day you can rejoice with us.
And while I’m talking about Hudson (this is turning into a post just about Hudson. Haha! ), I want to share a special thing that happened while on our camping trip, a week after my miscarriage. I apologize if I’m getting too personal here, but these things are all God’s doing, and I can’t help but share how He is working.
We were on our last day of traveling home from Colorado, and we had 10 hours of desert ahead of us. We thought it was going to be the most boring car ride, and ugliest scenery of the trip. It was also very hot, and our car seemed to be struggling to provide enough air for us! But that day turned into one of the sweetest times for our family that we will never forget. As the sun began to slowly go down, the sky started changing colors, the temperature dropped, and it felt like time slowed down. Hudson made a statement having to do with sin and the choices we make. (It came out of the blue and surprised us–that kid is a thinker though) For the next 45 minutes we had a long discussion about the Gospel, and Jesus, and sin and heaven, and answered (or tried to) a lot of questions that Hudson had. Hudson prayed right there in the car, in the middle of Nevada, and we believe he recieved Jesus as his Savior that day and trusted in him. (We can never fully know the heart, but we have seen change in his heart and trust it was a true conversion) We all prayed together, and sang hymns together there in the car. And I knew it was God. While still grieving my loss that happened a week prior, I was now rejoicing in this amazing gift that God had allowed to happen right here in our long car ride home from Colorado.
Hudson is in Transitional Kindergarten from 8:05 to 11:25, and I continue teaching him when he gets home. He has started a Ninja Class at our local gymnastics gym, which he loves, and I will start teaching him piano lessons, as well.
Ricky is still working for REI, and continues to get promoted. His team loves him, and we have enjoyed the relationships we have built through his work. He has been considering management, but with his other obligations we haven’t decided that this is the best route to take. He continues to deliver pastries to our favorite local coffee shop, Devout, and loves the relationships he has been able to make. I am so thankful for his hard work for our family and for others. He has been my rock and friend, especially during these hard past few months. He listens and…usually brings me back to reality, when I start acting like a crazy person. 😉 Although I continue to babysit now and again, I have significantly dropped many of my babysitting jobs, and am looking forward to some new opportunities. I help a chiropractor friend in her office once a week, and am excited about a new project I’m working on in correlation with my blog. It involves some beautiful hand pieces inspired by myself and designed by new good friend, Rachael. So stay tuned for more info coming this fall! I also will be volunteering every Wednesday in Hudson’s classroom at school. I’m excited about this opportunity.
The primary reason we decided to make the West Coast our home was to help with a church plant and our current church, Redeemer Church of the Silicon Valley. I feel like I could talk forever about this, so I’ll just keep it short and simple. Or try to. Over the past few years, our church body has remained mostly consistent in numbers, with not much nummerical growth, and there are many reasons why that is. But in short, our leaders have focused on our core group, while we have focused on building relationships in our communities. Because of the history of this specific church plant, there have been many financial and legal things to attend to, and all these things take lots of time. Furthermore, our Pastor and his family have suffered some extreme difficulties this past year with several deaths in their family, including the death of our Pastor’s father. This year was difficult on many levels, but we are so excited as we move forward. Our leadership team has been regularly meeting and working on the organization of committees to help our church become a haven for the weary and discouraged, and a home for the forgiven sinner. We know it can only be done through God’s working and His power. Ricky and I continue to manage the property, lead in worship and music, organize nursery schedules, and things of that nature. We love that we get to serve and live all in the same place. It’s a long 1 minute commute, so I can’t complain. 🙂 And it’s wonderful for Hudson to see this as an important part of our lives. We also love the interaction we have from the Korean and Telegu churches that rent our building for their church services and functions.
Ricky, Hudson, and I couldn’t be more thankful to be living in our church apartment these past 3 years. Now, don’t get me wrong, never would I have thought I would have lasted 3 years in an apartment after purchasing 2 homes in our previous locations, but this little place has worked out really well for us. And we are so thankful. We continually move things around in our attempt to make it as functional and “pottery barn” looking as possible. I’m sorry, I just will never stop wanting to decorate, even if its in a tiny way, and creating a space that is comfortable and beautiful. I have to give a shout out to my friend the Jennings (JessieJane to be exact), for almost fully furnishing our home with beautiful pieces they could no longer use in their new home. Our current couch, TV armoire, and dresser for Hudson have all come from them. And we couldn’t be more thankful. God always provides. So we have decided just to take this on as project; to make our home one that is inviting, functional and beautiful, amidst the legos. 🙂 We don’t have a final product ( we probably never will), but we are close to finding the best way our furniture should be, and how things should be organized, as well as working on an outdoor living area so we can host more guests. It’s a slow work in progress. I have struggled with contentment in wanting a home of my own, big enough to have guests spend the night, and with the option of not having to walk through our bedroom to use the only bathroom. I mean come on, can ya blame me?! That means all underwear and laundry must be picked up at all times in case someone needs to use the bathroom. And you know that isn’t happening over here. So, guests get really comfortable with us very quickly. “Oh you need to use the bathroom? Hold on while I move the 4 piles of laundry that are blocking the door. Ok, clear!”
We are so glad to be in California. As I think about how we got here, I am in awe, because I know it could only be of God. These past 3 years have been difficult on many levels. We have experienced loss, loneliness, fear, rejection, financial worry, the list goes on. But the joy we have experienced has been overwhelming. We have learned so much about ourselves, about our God, and about people who look and act different than us. There is a lot happening outside our little sphere of life, and there are hurting people that need the hope that only Jesus can give. We hope, that in California, people can see the love and light of Jesus in and through our lives. And it’s only because of Him.
I feel that much of what I post can be sad content. But I believe that both sadness and joy are good and needed in life. If you know me at all, you know I love laughing, joking, dancing and telling funny stories. So I want to leave you with some fun/funny highlights from our summer.
Fun Highlights from Summer:
So I’ve never been much of a camper, until I met my husband. And now, I’m basically a professional glamper. But that is a post for another time. This summer while on our Colorado camping trip with friends, our tent was blocked by a Moose and her baby Moose. Talk about terrifying, yet exciting. We had to sneak in a different way, and just hope we didn’t die! I was relieved once I got inside the tent, but I mean really, it’s a tent. How much protection can it provide from a wild beast? Needless to say, with the combination of freezing temps and wild moose and elk outside my tent, I didn’t sleep great.
And while we’re on the topic of roughing it, and rugged, and stuff like that, I had some near death experiences with spiders this summer. Were spiders really bad for you all this year? I was awakened out of a dead sleep by a spider walking across my face! Yes, you heard me! I shined my light down the side of my bed, and there was the largest daddy long leg running for its life. I mean, why?! What if my mouth had been opened? Seriously.
I learned this summer that no-one on the West Coast, that works in a grocery store, knows what pimento cheese is. The story is long, but after calling 4 different grocery stores and getting responses like, “Excuse me, what kind of cheese?” “I’m sorry Pim..uh, can you spell that?” “Uh, what? Fermento Cheese, no we don’t have…” “I’m sorry, I’ll transfer you to dairy…” I just gave up. I mean, really? And guess what? In the end, Walmart had it.
So, here we are enjoying the sun and the coast and all God’s gifts under the sun.
This is Joy under the sun.