As I sit here and write this post, I honestly feel like a kid on Christmas Eve! Tomorrow is a BIG day for our family as we get ready to launch not only two kids back to school but also the husband to WORK!! And not just to work, but to a new church community.
That’s right, we are getting ready to launch our family into a brand new season and it’s just SO exciting!
For those of you who have been following us along the journey, you know that we were hit with some pretty unexpected news this last May when my husband found himself suddenly without a job. If you haven’t read the story, take a break and catch up here.
After a few weeks of reeling and trying to find our footing again, we started to process what we really wanted to be doing with our lives. Now that there was no job, no limitations, no nothing…it was time for us to revisit the proverbial drawing board for our family and start to redefine what mattered most to us and what we wanted the next season to look like.
I’ll be totally honest with you guys…after 12+ years in ministry, we had very serious conversations about leaving full-time ministry. We talked about what it would look like to get a “regular” nine-to-five job, find a great church community and simply serve as a volunteer. I won’t lie, there was a part of that picture that sounded REALLY appealing to us after the tough seasons we’d walked through.
But, when you are called to something, it doesn’t matter how much you try to run and hide from it, it WILL find you. No matter how appealing that lifestyle looked outside of full-time ministry, we both knew, deep down, that that wasn’t for us.
But at the same time, we knew that SOMETHING had to change.
Once the kids were finally out of school and we had adapted to our new norm, we started putting what we called “feelers” out. Having some strategic conversations with people that we trusted, we started to see what jobs were out there for my husband. We decided early on that we would keep an open mind and allow ourselves to have a variety of conversations, with various people. Just because we have a conversation with a potential “employer” doesn’t mean that we were taking the job.
One of the desires that came up in our early conversations in this “misplaced” stage of life was that we knew we had a STRONG desire to stay PUT…meaning, we didn’t want to have to move. You see we have moved every THREE years, for the last 11 years of our lives. While that was never the intention in any of those places that we lived, for a number of different reasons, some outside of our control, we ended up uprooting our family time and time again. When we came to Toronto two and a half years ago, we very much came with the intention to stay for a LONG time. But yet again, we found ourselves in a season of transition after just really settling in. Now with three kids, two of whom are in school and are developing their own friendships, we really had NO desire to move. We truly LOVE living in the GTA: we love having the best of both worlds…both suburbia with a somewhat quieter pace of life but within 30 minutes, we are downtown Toronto and enjoying all the hustle and bustle that the city life has to offer. Our kids seem to love both those worlds as well!
But again, going back to the “let’s be open to anything” mentality, we had conversations with churches outside of Toronto. Some VERY far outside of Toronto…like on the other side of the country. Some of those conversations even led to formal/informal interviews and we started surveying the land AKA…checking out MLS to see what properties were selling for in those cities.
But nothing ever felt right. We never felt a strong pull to anywhere.
Except one place.
One church kept coming up, time and time again for us.
The funny thing is, after everything happened and we started talking about where we would go to church in this transition time, we always had wanted to check out this church. It was a place we had only heard amazing things about and we were intrigued. We knew a couple of people who went there and decided to just show up on Sunday morning.
And we fell in love.
We felt at home.
We felt free.
We felt like we were coming up for air.
And that feeling has only grown stronger the longer we’ve attended.
As we get ready to launch into this new season, it feels so exciting for so many reasons and I wanted to share why it’s so exciting for us.
First and most obviously, we have felt like misfits the last three months. Leaving a church community that you are involved in is hard, especially when you don’t have another one to immediately go into (which has always been the case for us). While this time of transition was a great opportunity for us to regroup and figure out exactly what we wanted to be doing (and let’s face it, there’s no better time to have a few months off than during the summer when you can all be together as a family!), it was also tough as we weren’t sure where we fit in. We had to be very intentional about keeping certain friendships thriving because we no longer had the safety net of “I’ll see you at church this Sunday.” It was also really tough to watch our kids, particularly our oldest, struggle through this transition. It’s hard for adults to understand situations like this, so imagine how much harder it is for a six year old who is given VERY little details yet is completely uprooted from all her friends (the timing of school ending didn’t help her either). There were some really tough moments: tears shed, anger and confusion…all totally normal expressions.
So it’s exciting to finally be able to find a new community that is opening up their arms and their hearts to our family. As I said, we’ve attended this church most of the summer, without saying a word to the kids about what was happening behind the scenes (because I didn’t want any heart broken again if this didn’t work out). The kids took a couple of weeks to warm up to the kids program, but once they did, they have loved it. So when we told them that this is going to be our new church family last week, their response was filled with pure joy and great excitement!
Community is HUGE. And we are SO excited to be a part of a new community with our family.
Secondly, hubby finally has a job! YAY!!! While it’s been incredibly nice to have him home all summer to help with the kids as well as be able to travel around at our leisure, it’s also nice for him to be heading back to work. There’s something about having a job…having responsibility…having a routine. He’s really missed it, especially the last few weeks.
And as much as I love my dear husband, it’s TIME! I don’t think we’ve EVER spent this much time together…even when we were working together in years past. We always had separate offices and different roles, so we weren’t always around each other. This time together has been great…truly it has, to bring us back together and regroup our family. But Lord knows, IT’S TIME! HA! (Love you, babe).
Thirdly, it’s an exciting season for me personally as I’m finally starting to get my sleep apnea under control. For those of you who have been following along on Facebook and SnapChat, you will know what I’m talking about. For those of you have haven’t, let me give you a brief history.
End of July I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is what happens when you stop breathing at night, for periods of time, during your sleep. I won’t go into all the medical details behind understanding it (I’ll save that for another post) but mine was SO severe that the doctor couldn’t believe I was still functioning and RUSHED my case through to get fitted for the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine immediately.
It’s been an interesting five weeks as I’ve tried to adjust to sleeping with this machine. But I’m happy to say that I’m finally starting to feel the positive results and I can tell, things can only go UP from here.
Again, this deserves it’s own post, which I will do sometime soon, but waking up 96 times an hour, every hour of every night…the level of exhaustion that I was feeling from it was indescribable. And because of it, I was often too tired to do anything.
Now, with some renewed energy, I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’m waking up earlier and with energy to start my day (before I would take me about an hour to get out of bed). And so because of that, I’m already noticing positive changes for me.
I’m excited about what this fall season has in store for me physically. With the start of new routines for the kids and hubby, I’m starting a few of my own routines with exercise and healthy eating. I couldn’t possibly try to loose weight while (unknowingly) dealing with severe sleep apnea. You’re body doesn’t burn fat when it’s sleep deprived. So all of my previous efforts were futile, which explains why I was getting nowhere and frustrated.
This fall is a time to start tackling not just the physical side of my health but also a few other things that I’ve just been too tired to do. More on that later!
So, bringing it all back to the beginning when I said it feels like Christmas eve…it really does. Going to bed tonight, we are all a bit giddy, perhaps a tinge of nerves and a huge sense of excitement as we get ready to launch into this new season for our family!
With that said…we are SO excited to let you all know that Chris will be joining the team at The Olive Branch in Markham (only 20 minutes from us) as their Youth and Community Care Pastor! We are SO excited for this new season for our family and have already felt so welcomed into that community.
Unfortunately, many times when people think about the church today, their immediate thoughts are that they are filled with religious practices, certain expectations and judgments. What we love so much about The Olive Branch is that it’s nothing like a ‘traditional’ church. We have found a super gracious community, that welcomes people as they are, providing hope to families and making a difference in the lives of everyone.
One thing for sure is…God IS faithful. Looking back three months ago, it was a dark time for us. We had NO idea where we would end up. There were lots of emotions and lots of fear that we felt. But we clung to God because if there’s one thing we know in life…it’s that He is faithful.
Looking back, even to when we first arrived in Toronto for one job, we can see now how He was writing another story without us even knowing it. He always has a plan, even when our plans don’t work out. Even when our eyes can’t see what’s ahead, He knows. And He’s got it all worked out for our good. We just need to trust.
So here’s to new beginnings!
May it be GOOD.
May it be filled with LOVE.
May it be LIFE GIVING.
May it give God all the glory.
Thanks for journeying with us!
Love & Blessings,