goodbye, one more time

This past Sunday, my husband and girls and I had an unusual opportunity that most pastors in our church body do not get.  We had the opportunity to attend the installation service of the pastor who is replacing my husband at his former congregation.  Since we live in California, where Lutheran churches are few and far between, and since we only moved two hours away, it was not out of the ordinary for us to attend this installation service.  In fact, pastors from churches further away than ours also attended the service, Even with all of that, it still was a bit of an unusual situation.

But, unusual-ness notwithstanding, we went.

One of the other pastors from our current congregation rode along with us.  He’d never been to our former church before, so it was all a new experience for him.  We had a lovely drive over, and we took the Bay Bridge to get onto the Peninsula, which always makes for a scenic trip.  It was enjoyable for us to point out familiar landmarks to him as we got closer and closer.

One thing we did NOT want to do by attending this service was to draw attention away from the new pastor.  It’s his church now, and we were only in attendance due to our unusually close proximity (for this area).  I think we managed to achieve that.  Still it was hard not to get teary eyed when my husband, the former pastor of that church, took his turn at laying his hands on the head of the new pastor of the church in blessing.  I wasn’t the only one taking a few (flash-less!) pictures when that moment came, and I don’t think I was the only one who got a bit choked up as I heard my husband’s blessing for the new pastor.

But it was such a treat to see the members of our former congregation again!  One of the sopranos in their small church choir was ill, so when I was asked to fill in with the church choir, I happily agreed.  (Thankfully, one song was just a hymn melody, and the other song was one I had sung at WELStock last summer.)  I’m very noticeably pregnant, so it was fun to have opportunity to share with people that the new baby will be a boy, and it was fun to catch up again.  My line for the day was, “What a happy day for this church!”  And it truly was a happy day.

I strongly suspect that I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for our former congregation, as will my husband.  We loved that church, and we loved the people there.  In so many ways, they truly did feel like family to us.  I don’t know if our current, much larger congregation will ever feel as much like “home” to us as our former congregation did.  I asked one of the other pastors in attendance how long it took his wife for her to feel home when he took a call to his current, much larger congregation.  He replied that he didn’t know if it has ever felt like home to her, and I’m pretty sure they’ve been at their congregation at least five years if not more.  So, perhaps for me, too, it will never be the same Here as it was There, and I’ll have to be okay with that.

After the service and the dinner, there was a party up at the parsonage, our old house, now the home of the new pastor and his family.  It was interesting to see the changes that had been made: the new paint colors, the new kitchen floor (that was LONG overdue!), the familiar and unfamiliar places in the house.  It was nice to share with the new pastor’s wife some of the quirks about the house, and how we made the best of those quirks – or even found them useful!  All in all, it was a real treat to be back.

Lyd and I left the party for a bit in the evening to head across the street to the home of one of my best friends in the area.  It was so wonderful to see her and her family again, and after a lovely but too-short visit, Lyd and I regretfully headed back to walk the dark quiet street we had walked so many, many times before, this time with a bag of baby boy clothes slung over my back.  After we got back, I got the girls changed into their pajamas for the two-hour car ride back home, and off we went, back to our new home.

One day last week, as JJ and I contemplated the upcoming emotion of this trip, JJ said to me that he almost didn’t want to go.  When I asked why, he replied that it would be the final act of our leaving that church.  Now not only are we gone, we are replaced.  It’s the last small step in finally severing our ties to that congregation.

But at this installation, I realized that we will never be able to sever fully our ties to our former congregation.  I don’t know if any pastor ever can do that with a congregation he serves!  As JJ and I have said many times, we grew up there.  Those people hold a dear, dear place in our hearts, and I don’t think any other congregation will ever, CAN ever be as dear to us as our first congregation.  Add to that the fact that they’re only two hours away and that very likely opportunities for us to see those people WILL come up in the future – and all of it adds up to the fact that we’ll never totally leave.

But, hopefully we have left our former congregation fully enough so that the new pastor and his family are free to make their own memories there, and that the congregation will regard the new pastor as their pastor, rather than continue to view my husband as their pastor.  I’m pretty sure that will happen, and I think the transition will go well.  We certainly will do all we can to stay out of the new pastor’s way and let him fully take the reins himself.

While we were in town, I stopped at our favorite grocery store to pick up some marinated tri-tip steaks to bring back to our new home with us in a cooler.  At the store, I also bought a bottle of wine to give to the new pastor and his family as a housewarming gift.  JJ and I presented it to them and told them, “May you be as happy in this house as we were.”

And we meant it.

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still adjusting

So much about our new life has been unexpected.  Not necessarily bad, but unexpected.

One unexpected aspect is that I just don’t feel like blogging in the way that I used to.  I’ve been re-evaluating what role I want this blog to play in my life, because it does not mean to me what it once did.  It’s not that my blog means less, it’s just that it’s … different.  I still feel like I’m transitioning in my new life – and on this blog – to what I will eventually be.  And I don’t know what that is yet.

One aspect of life here that I knew would be somewhat different but didn’t realize just how much different is that of our family’s finances.  We have a lot less expendable income here.  We knew our income would go down after we moved, but we didn’t anticipate it being quite like this.  It’s been an attitude adjustment as well as a lifestyle adjustment, and we’re still adjusting.

Recently, I said to my husband that in many ways, our life has gone the opposite of most people our age.  We started out with the big house, and now we’re in the smaller house.  That’s opposite of most people.  We started out with plenty of money, and now we’ve come down.  That’s also opposite of many people.  We’re certainly expanding our family on the slow side, which is also different than most people our age, but that hasn’t been by our choice.  Still, it does make our lives different than many of the people our age that we know.

Another aspect of our new life that I still feel like I’m adjusting to is that of our house.  Downsizing has not been easy for me.  I come from a background of frugal people who saved everything, perhaps saving too much.  I thought we got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved, but it still seems like we have all of this stuff.  I think we DID get rid of a substantial amount of stuff, but now that we live in this smaller space, we notice how it fills the space that we DO have.  There continue to be times when I inwardly grumble at how cramped everything feels.  Our kitchen eating area is small, our bathrooms are small.  I wonder how we’re ever going to babyproof this house once the new little one arrives, and I wonder where we’re going to put all of our baby gear!  There’s no doubt that we will feel the squeeze a bit more in this house than we ever would have in our former house.

But, with the realization of our decreased income, I have come to appreciate more about this house.  For one thing, we got it at a good price, which means our mortgage is manageable.  Also, because the house is literally new inside and out (except for the roof, but it’s not in too bad of shape yet), we have not had any repairs that we’ve needed to do on the house.  Nothing has broken, nothing has caused us problems.  That’s a big blessing, and buying this well-flipped house, small though it is, has given us those extra benefits.

It’s good that I can appreciate this house a little more, because within the last month, I made the sobering realization that we simply can’t afford to move.  I had hoped to live in this house for a year or two, and then find our “real” house.  But, the fact is, we don’t have the money to move again.  There are SO many other expenses that come with moving, and we don’t have the money for it, unless we could make big bucks off of selling our current house, which isn’t likely.  So, for better or for worse, we’re kind of … stuck in this house.  That realization made me sad.  I really wanted a four-bedroom house.  I really wanted bathrooms that I could turn around in.  I wanted dining areas where no one is bumping into a wall or a counter or furniture.  I wanted storage space so that we could fit our one car into our garage rather than using our garage as a storage unit.

But.  (Sigh.)

We’re here, and it IS a good house.  Many families make do with more people in much less space.  And we ARE making do.

I’m thankful for what we have.  I’m still getting used to it, but I do see the blessings, and I am thankful.

not feeling Christmasy

Hi.

Yes, I know.  I’ve been quiet lately.

(Although, not really.  I still talk as much as I always do.  Just ask my husband.  ;))

But, yes, I have felt quiet in a blogging sense.  I haven’t felt like pouring out my soul onto my blog.  Please don’t hold it against me.

Life is SO different here!  I can’t stress that enough.  I mean, JJ and the girls are the same.  The same furniture and dishes and pictures that we had at our old place are all here.  And somehow, it seems like the same piles of clutter followed us here, too.  😉

But.  Life is so DIFFERENT here.  For starters, there’s the Big Church at which my husband is now a pastor.  With a Big Church comes the issues that Big Churches have.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

On a personal level, I don’t feel like I have family here (yet – hopefully someday I will).  In the small church, it felt more like family.  I liked that.  And it’s not like I don’t like it here – I do.  But, it doesn’t feel like family.

For example, it feels like many conversations I have with people here at the Big Church still start from square one, and that can be a bit tiring for me.  In our former, smaller church, I knew what was going on in everyone’s lives (in a good way) and conversations were started where previous conversations had left off.  I saw friends and asked them, “How’s your [family member] doing?”  or “How’s the new [thing] going?” or “Are you finally over your cold?” etc. Now, when I initiate conversations with people (which is usually how they start; most people don’t come up to me.  Sigh.  I think it’s that Pastor’s Wife thing.) I often end up saying,  “Hi!  Remind me what your name is?”  But, I guess that’s part of being new in the Big Church; hopefully it will get better with time.

I don’t know if all of these changes are part of my not-very-Christmasy-feelings this year, but that’s the way it is.  I’m not feeling anti-Christmas or Scrooge-like, I’m just not in a very Christmasy mood.  It’s been getting a bit better as December has gone on and as we’ve attended a few Christmas-themed events.  But this year I’m not planning to decorate the house at all.  We’ll put up a tree, of course, and I’ll make Christmas cookies, and we’ve already been playing Christmas music.  But other than that, I’m not planning on doing anything to the house.  It just seems like too much effort, and frankly, I don’t want to unpack the boxes.  Plus, I don’t know where I’d put any of the decorations!  We don’t even know where to put the tree!  And, especially since we’re not hosting any parties or having any visitors this Christmas season, it just doesn’t seem worth it to me.  I know that I could do it for the girls’ sake, but I don’t think the girls will really mind the lack of decorations.  As long as they have presents under the tree, they’ll be happy.  😉

I guess what I’m saying in this post is that life here still feels new and different.  And I don’t know when it will stop feeling that way.  I’m not depressed or anxious; in fact, I physically feel better than I have in years!  That’s probably due in large part to the fact that I’m going to bed earlier and sleeping better, and as a result, I’m not blogging as much.

But part of my not blogging is also that I’m still trying to find my way in this new world, and I haven’t found it yet.

bits and pieces

Tonight, it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that:

  1. The weather has gotten cooler lately, but it still warms up to 80 degrees most days.  We now turn the heater on for a little while in the morning and the a/c on for a little while in the late afternoon.
  2. With the weather cooling down, I’m beginning to enjoy cooking more.  I much prefer to cook when the weather is cooler than when the weather is warmer.  I like making soups and stews and putting 9×13 pans of dishes into the oven.
  3. Even though the weather is a bit cooler, it’s still dry.  That has thrown me off lately.  I didn’t drink enough water over the past few days, so I ended up with a wicked dehydration headache yesterday.  Today I’ve tried to be much better at downing 12 ounce glasses of (room temperature) water every so often during the day, and I feel much better.  This climate is just different.
  4. There are SO many activities happening and opportunities to do stuff at our new church and school.  It’s a bit overwhelming at times.  And it wears us out.
  5. Jujubee was pretty worn out after the weekend, and today she finally fell asleep during her afternoon rest time.  Unfortunately, she (and I) are paying for it now.  It’s 9:30 pm, she’s been in bed since 8pm, and she’s been out of bed twice for various reasons, mainly because she can’t fall asleep.  Poor girl.  I guess one nap is too many, but zero nap is not enough.
  6. I get to play single mom for a week starting tomorrow.  Overall, I’m okay with this reality.
  7. I plan to make myself a pie while I play single mom.  I’ve had a hankering for a pie.  I think it will be a peach-raspberry pie.
  8. I started walking again this week.  Somehow, I had completely fallen off the wagon as far as exercising goes; I hadn’t gone walking in over two weeks.  I could tell, as my mood and energy levels were all off.  But now, after a few days of walking (and after drinking enough water), I’m feeling better again.
  9. JJ and I ordered blinds/shades for our entire house last week.  We’ve been living with absolutely no window coverings for almost 4 months.  It cost a bit of money, but it’s done, and that’s good.  L0we’s offered a flat installation fee whether you had 3 window treatments installed or 12.  So, we decided to do the whole shebang in one fell swoop.  We reasoned that when we re-sell the house someday, we’ll make the money back.  We’re putting cord-free cellular shades in the bedrooms, faux-wood blinds in the dining room, family room, and the small living room window, and vertical blinds over the patio door.  The kitchen is not getting blinds, because the two kitchen windows face a large fence full of natural greenery, which acts like its own shade.  However, I did buy some old-fashioned curtains to put in the windows, and I love them!  You can see what they look like here.
  10. JJ and I are beginning to meet in the middle on our house.  When we first bought the house, JJ could only see the things he liked about the house, while I could only see the things I didn’t like.  As time has gone on, we are both seeing more of what the other did or did not like about the house, and occasionlly JJ is even using the phrase “when we sell the house.”  I, on the other hand, am less eager to move again than I was when we moved in.  However, the house is still a rather tight, compact fit, so it would be nice to have a place with more room.  But, most days, we’re happy with our house, so that’s good.

life is different

As you probably may have guessed, I’m just not feeling the urge to blog as much as I used to.  I’m sure the move has had a lot to do with it.  Having all the channels that Comcast’s basic package offers probably doesn’t help either (HGTV!!).  But, it’s very true that life is just so different here.

I’m getting to bed much earlier than I used to at our old house, because our new schedule is so different.  We all have to be up bright and early in the morning, because the girls – and usually JJ, too – have to be out the door earlier than we used to be.

Also, oddly, things are quieter here at night.  You’d think that because we live in a residential neighborhood surrounded by houses that it would be noisy, but it’s actually quieter here than it was in our old house.  I don’t know quite how to describe it.  It’s so … still here at night.  No wind blows against the windows, sometimes a dog barks in the distance (thankfully, no one right around us has a dog – Hallelujah!), and once in a while you hear a siren — but it’s just so quiet here at night.

You know what else is different here?  Strangely, I feel much more sure of myself now.  I feel more settled even though we still have many things yet to decide where they go.  But more than that, I feel more settled … emotionally.  It is SO nice to have that feeling of “Will JJ get a call or not?” gone.  We’re here now, and we’ll be here for a while.  I’m starting to get a feel for how things go at church.  And I feel more … experienced.

Older pastors have shared with my husband the fact that when a pastor takes a call to his second church, he comes to that new church with an intangible bonus — Experience.  JJ’s been told that parishioners regard you much differently when you have Experience.  But you know what?  As a pastor’s wife, I now have Experience, too.  I feel a lot more sure of myself.  I have a better feeling of what to say and how to say it.  I think I’m a good pastor’s wife.

(And I now know how to nicely ask that people call me “Emily,” and not “the pastor’s wife.”  It’s a good skill to have.  🙂 )

So, life is different here, but life goes on.  I will definitely keep blogging, but I’m starting to realize that it’s not going to be the same as it used to be.  Part of that is also that it probably won’t be as frequent.  We’ll see what happens.  Life is sure different here!

————

It also doesn’t help the blogging when you come down with the stomach flu.  Yuk!  I woke up with that magical experience early Monday morning.  Thankfully, it took a normal course and didn’t last beyond the typical 24 hours, and no one else in the family got it.  THAT is a big blessing!

unsettled

I’m sorry that I haven’t felt as much like blogging as I thought I would when I re-started blogging a few weeks ago.  Life is just so … different now.  Not necessarily worse, but definitely different.  Our lives have an entirely new schedule to them, and I haven’t yet figured out for sure where blogging fits into that schedule.

On a positive note, this new schedule means I go to bed earlier, and it means I am getting more sleep, which is good.  I’m also going walking at least four days a week, and that’s a great help for me physically and emotionally.  Although, unfortunately, my anxiety has been creeping back in a bit lately.  Never too bad, but I’m always disappointed to see it return.  But, I’m trying to do the right things: sleep, exercise, and enough food, including snacks throughout the day to keep my blood sugar stable.  That helps.  I’ve got a few other ideas of things I can tweak, so we’ll see if those help at all.

Despite not blogging much, I’m not getting things done hardly at all in the house lately.  I’m not sure what’s to blame for that.  Although, part of the problem was that for some reason, I was SO tired last week.  (No, I’m not pregnant.  Sigh.)  I just couldn’t seem to pull it together enough to start a project and see it through.  But, hopefully this week will be better.

For those of you who don’t follow my husband’s blog regularly, I want to put in a plug for his sermon yesterday.  Our church did a Service of Remembrance for the ten year anniversary of 9-11, and he preached a wonderful sermon about the lessons that tragedies teach us.  He used as his text Luke 13:1-5, which reads:

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Terrorism and towers falling happened in Jesus’ day, too, and his response to those events is a bit surprising, to say the least.  So, I would highly recommend that you read my dear pastor-hubby’s sermon on 9-11.

We’ll see what this week brings for our family.  I hope it leaves me feeling closer to being finally settled into our new lives here — and into our new house.  I like the house a little more every day, so that’s good.  I think I’ll like it a lot more once we finally figure out where to go with all of the boxes in the house and get our pictures up on the walls.  Right now, life still feels strangely unsettled.

weekend at “home”

This past Labor Day weekend, my husband had to travel to Phoenix from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening to do an unusual pastor-related thing.  I was hoping that AM, my adopted sister, could drive up from our old place and visit the girls and I.  But, since AM had already come up the previous weekend, and since JJ was going to be gone, I decided that the girls and I would drive back to the Bay Area and visit AM at our old home on the S.F. peninsula.  So, the girls and I left on Friday afternoon right after school, and we returned back Sunday afternoon.

It was very odd to be back “home” again.  We didn’t stay in our old house; we stayed in AM’s apartment.  But, on Saturday evening, we did go up to the parsonage, our old house.  The vacancy pastor and his wife are currently living there, and I had a bag of things to give them that belonged in the parsonage but had accidentally made the move with us.  It took less than 60 seconds of me being in my old house for me to burst into tears.  I had asked the vacancy pastor’s wife if my girls could go looking around their old house, and she said something to the effect that it was much more our house than theirs, and I just lost it.  Even now as I type those words, my eyes tear up.  This was our first home!  It was the house where I unpacked all of my wedding gifts!  It was the home to which I brought my babies after they were born!  And where they learned to walk and talk!  Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays…  So many wonderful memories were made in that house.

It was SO strange to be back in our old house again.  It was strange to be back in our old town again!  All the roads, the trees, the views, the stores — everything was just where it was when I left.  For a few moments as I drove up the main road through the town which I had driven probably over a thousand times, I imagined that I had never left, that all of my things were in my house just as they had been before we had moved, that it was still my home, and that nothing had changed.  But I wasn’t able to imagine it for long.

It was bittersweet to be there, but there were good things about being there, too.  It was nice to go to my familiar Farmer’s Market and know exactly what vendors would be there and what I would want to buy.  I know there are good FM’s around here, but I haven’t found them yet.

It was nice to go to our old church and be welcomed so warmly.  People were surprised to see us, that’s for sure!  It was nice to feel like I was still a little part of that world, even though I’m not really anymore.

It was nice to have an appointment with our former chiropractor again.  Jujubee refuses to let our new chiro adjust her, so that was one of the reasons for driving down on Friday afternoon – we wanted to get in to see Dr Joe again.  Despite getting stuck in rush hour traffic in Oakland, we made it to his office before he closed, and boy, was he surprised to see us!  We all really needed our adjustments; my neck had been so stiff lately, and when he adjusted it, I’ve never had so many joints crack back into place as I did that time.  My neck ached the entire next day thanks to that adjustment, but it’s feeling a lot better now, and it’s no longer so stiff.

I don’t know if it was that massive adjustment to my neck as well as my back, or if it was just being back in Belmont, or who knows what, but I ended up having the biggest anxiety attack in months the night we arrived.  That was unexpected, to say the least.  It was kind of a bummer, but I made it through okay.  Oddly enough, what seemed to cure it was the tears I shed in my old house on Saturday night.  Perhaps I needed the emotional release, but after that, my anxiety was pretty much gone.

Best of all, it was nice to spend a weekend with AM!  I love her like a sister, and it was fun to spend time together.  One of the things I like least about this move is that I’m further away from AM.  Sigh.  But, at least we’re only two hours apart (in good traffic) and the trip truly does go fairly quickly (as long as you don’t try to drive through Oakland on I-880 at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon!)

I don’t know when we’ll be back to our old house again.  But I’m glad we made the trip.  It was a needed opportunity for me to say a final goodbye to our old house, and it helped me transition to thinking of our new place as home.  You see, when we left Sunday afternoon, it was the first that I felt like heading home to our new city was truly heading home.  There will always be things I miss about our old place, but this is home now, and I’m finding lots of things I like about life here, too.