"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Little B has a few new words: "Hao-een" (Halloween), "nan-nee" (candy), and "Yo-na" (Yoda).

We didn't know whether or not we would take him trick-or-treating tonight. He's still pretty little and goes to bed between six and six-thirty every night. Last year, we just went over to a friend's house and took turns passing out candy (it was VERY cold on Halloween in upstate NY!).

But we had a pretty terrific hand-me-down costume from friends in NY. And B took a nice, long nap today. He did GREAT through his free dinner at Chili's, calling out "Hao-een!" to the waiters and waving at the little skeleton boy who came over just to see B's costume. So we thought, "Let's give this a whirl."

We spritzed ourselves all over with bug spray (because we're I'm still a little neurotic about West Nile) and decided to just stay on our street (or rather, our friends' street) so that we could get back right away if B got too tired.

He caught on right away, bopping down the sidewalks to Daddy humming the Darth Vader tune, happily knocking on doors, saying "Teeeet!" (treat) and signing "Thank you" when he got candy. We only gave him a small container in which to collect goodies. People kept giving him extras, so it was full by three houses!

For the last few houses, we let him suck on a lollipop. He let me hold it as he went up to the doors with N, but after he received his new treats, he ran back to me to get his lollipop back.

We had very successful second Halloween. Hope everyone had just as much fun today as we did!

*We saw an entire family (plus a few additional little people) dressed up in Super Mario Bro. costumes. There was a Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Princess Peach, Wario, some other unusual character that kind of looked like Wario, and a baby Mario. The kid who was Toad wasn't much older than Little B, and the two of them stared at each other for a while. Princess Peach said, in a way that only a little girl can, that B was "so-o-o-o cute."

22 October 2012

Our Second Weekend in Texas

We had two very busy days this past weekend, and really, we're kind of grateful for that. Yesterday, N and I came to the realization that had we not been living with some really great new friends during this transition time, this process would be that much more overwhelming and lonely.

On Saturday morning, we went to cheer little Elijah and his teammates on at his soccer game. Can I just say how utterly adorable little four-year old soccer players are? And some of those kids have skills, man! We enjoyed rooting for Elijah and his team, and it was fun to see B clap his little hands enthusiastically and yell out, "YAY!"

Of course, I never thought to take pictures of the game itself.

We spent all of Saturday afternoon looking at houses and wouldn't you know it, the VERY LAST HOUSE we looked at was the one we felt was "just right." We headed straight to our realtor's office, drew up the contract and sent in the offer (for bit more than we had wanted to spend - that's how much we liked this house!).

That night, we received an email from our agent with an attachment from the seller's agent: "Thank you for the offer and a nice clean contract. I discussed the offer with Mr. Cobb and have forwarded the offer to him so he and his wife can review. He indicated to me that they would accept your buyers offer just as it is written. I will know for sure in the morning and can get it executed tomorrow. I will send you the disclosure early afternoon and will let you know as soon as they have accepted and signed. Thanks again."

Sounds like a done deal, right?

Well, we were excited, so after church on Sunday, we drove up to the house and sat in front of it, giddy with excitement that this very probably was our new home ... our FIRST home-of-our-very-own as a family.

That's when the text came from our realtor. They had two other offers on the house and we had two hours to put in our highest and best offer.

We were heartbroken. It felt so right. Why wasn't it just falling into place?!

So we prayed for peace, patience, and an extra measure of strength. We were just so worn out emotionally from all the ups and downs of this house-hunting process -- and my mama heart is still tender watching my little boy adjust to all this newness.

As soon as we got back to our friends' house, N sat in the car with B (who had conked out as soon as we got in the car after church) while I wrote a letter to the homeowners for our agent to present with our revised offer. I told them why we were house-hunting and how much we just loved their house. We knew their agent was a church-goer, so I banked on the hope that they were believers.

Well, the letter did it. We heard a few hours later, as we headed to a picnic with our friends and their Sunday School class, that the sellers had not only decided to go with us, they agreed on an amount that was lower than their original asking price (and our second offer). Our realtor told us that they had been "touched" by our letter and had been where we are once upon a time themselves.

Now begins the journey of details: inspections, appraisals, hounding the bank to get a move-on on everything on their end. We are hoping and praying for a smooth process so that we can be unpacked and "home" before the holidays! 
Coming up on the Dallas "High-Five"
Oh, hello, there, sister-car! This is the first Scion we have seen (other than our own) in the two weeks we've been here.
We know that we have many, many friends praying for us and supporting us through all this. We are so grateful for your words of encouragement, phone calls, texts. I can't begin to express what a difference it has made to us!

19 October 2012

Looking for a New Church Home: Part 1

One of our top priorities when preparing for our move was looking for a new church home in Texas. I visited many, many church websites, scouring their belief statements, various in-church ministries, the level of dedication to missions, the curriculum they offered for children, the connectedness of their congregation to one another, and so forth.

I narrowed it down to a handful and emailed the churches.

Only three responded.

I immediately eliminated one because the person who responded stated that we would be "hard-pressed" to find a "better" church than his own. I didn't like that kind of mentality from a church leader.

Of the remaining two, one of the pastors was just so terrific about being incredibly helpful, checking in with us, letting us know that he was praying for us, and encouraging us in our move.

We visited Woodcreek Church last Sunday, and we really, really liked it. There were several little "nudges" from God that this just might be our new church home:

*Their vision statement goes, in part, like this: "...to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ," which is pretty much word-for-word, exactly the same as our church home (PKA) in New York. 
*Last Sunday was a baptism Sunday. The previous week, we had attended our last service at PKA. That was also a baptism Sunday. It just felt right to bookend our move with celebrating new life in Christ this way.
*The sermon came from Galatians, a book that was a significant part of the Bible study I recently completed in NY. It was nice to be on familiar ground on our first visit to a new church.
*Expository preaching style: This was one of the items on our "would like to have" list for a new church. We wanted to have teaching that was Bible-centered more than thematic.
*The pastor referenced Brennan Manning during his sermon.
*There is this eccentric man at PKA who is rather fond of Nich and would always talk and talk and talk to him. Among his many quirks was his habit of pronouncing an enthusiastic "Amen!" during the sermons on Sundays. At one point at Woodcreek, a man in the back of the sanctuary called out a hearty "Amen!" Nich and I glanced at each other and had to stifle laughter, because he sounded exactly like our fellow church member in NY. The Lord sure has a sense of humor!
*And last, but definitely not least, Little B did so well in the toddler class. He did cry for a bit when we dropped him off, but when we returned to pick him up, he was happily playing with a few other kids. He didn't even notice us standing at the door until we called out to him!

We'll be visiting a different church this coming Sunday. We are currently staying with some friends of friends while we house-hunt and they have invited us to their church. It is a mega-church; I even found a "campus map" on their website! It will certainly be an unfamiliar experience for both of us. Although I visited some mega-churches during my brief stint in NYC, neither of us have regularly attended one. It will be neat to see how our friends "do life" in such a large church.

Being a part of a godly, loving community is very important to us, and as we continue to search for the church that is the right "fit" for our family, we pray for clarity and discernment. We would love it if you would pray with us!

1 & 2: Pine Knolls Alliance, taken by Post Star
3 & 4: Woodcreek Church, woodcreekchurch.com
5 & 6: First Baptist Dallas, firstdallas.org

17 October 2012

Goodbye, New York!

Thanks for that yummy breakfast, Clark Family!
I know these posts are a bit out of chronological order, but that in itself is a reflection of how discombobulated I feel these days.

Tonight, at dinner, N said to B, "B, Daddy only speaks one language because he knows where he belongs. Mommy speaks so many languages, because she can't figure out where she comes from." I posted that on my FB, and my friend Anna responded, "Third Culture Kid complex!" It's true, and because I'm feeling so displaced right now physically and emotionally, that sentiment is in high gear.

(By the way, check out what cool things Anna and her family are up to here.)

We left New York feeling very blessed and loved by our church family. Not only were friends there to offer us beds to sleep in while all our belongings were being packed away into boxes, but they watched B while we packed and cleaned, brought us a hot, homemade breakfast on their way out of town (complete with disposable plates, cups, utensils and napkins), threw us a goodbye party...

Our last day at our church was emotional (for me, anyway). It was bittersweet to say our goodbyes, knowing that we had great things ahead of us but sad to leave people we love behind. 

Here are some pictures with some of our favorite people in upstate New York!
Buns Fam: Thanks for being a part of our lives from the beginning of our upstate NY life. We love you!
The Lippys! Thanks for loving on us in a myriad of ways through the years!
The Messengers: We love you guys, and we look forward to keeping in touch!
We love you, Carla, and we are SO proud of you! We look forward to hearing all that the Lord is doing in and through you!
Tanya, you will always hold a special place in B's (and our) heart(s).
Sher, Fischers, Holmbergs, Katie, Andrea: You were the family we needed while we were in New York. We love you!
Pastor Steve (and Pastor Bill): Thank you for your godly leadership and friendship over the years. It was a joy serving our church body and community alongside you.
Miss Jill, you will forever be one of B's "grandma" figures. Please come visit us in Texas!
We'll miss you in many ways, Uncle J!
Thanks for taking such good care of me while Mama and Daddy packed, Miss Tara!
We LOVE and MISS you all very, very much!

Just Like Daddy

Little B just loves Daddy. 

I took this picture just a few days before the craziness began in New York. 

First Post from TEXAS!

 I haven't posted in a while because we've been a tad busy with our cross-country move. And we hit the ground running when we got here last week. We landed on Thursday and spent Friday -- and Sunday afternoon ... and Tuesday morning -- looking at houses with our realtor.

Little B has been having a rough go of it, since we've been in transition for nearly two weeks now. We "moved out" of our apartment last Monday, staying with friends while the movers worked on packing and loading up our belongings. B stayed with friends all day while N and I guided the packing and cleaned our apartment. By the third day of this, he was quite fed up with it all. He was with one of his favorite grown ups that day, just for a few hours at that, but even Miss Danielle couldn't make him feel better.

Needless to say, since we've been in Texas, he hasn't been his normal, happy-go-lucky, cheerful self. He has been fussy, cantankerous, and sometimes, downright temperamental. He refuses to eat for the most part, except for his favorite foods. It has been a new challenge for both N and me to know how to parent in this transitional time, to model consistency and maintain boundaries while showing B grace.

I read this today. Oh, how familiar is that feeling of wretched anger at a small soul? I am incredibly thankful for grace abundant from Abba, grace that spills over to my little one when I have none of my own.

But really, overall, we have been tremendously blessed in our journey thus far. Our friends, old and new, in New York and in Texas, have shown us incredible hospitality. We think we've found a church that we can call "home" while we're here (more specifics on that at some other time). Our realtor is being proactive about helping us wade the waters of first-time home-buying. 
So although we wish we could have moved right into a new home, we know that we are being taken care of in more ways than we know, and for that, we are grateful.

Today, B and I went to the Texas State Fair with our new friends.  I thought it would be appropriate to share photos from today for my first blog post from this Everything-Bigger state. Enjoy!