19 November 2010

Reflections On A Decade Above The Mason-Dixon

I believe today or tomorrow marks exactly 10 years that Shannon and I have lived in Indiana. We left our duplex on Cedarvalley Drive in Nashville in a U-Haul literally packed to the brim (seriously, we could get nothing more in either the white, two-door Chevy Cavalier or the mid-sized, sketchy U-Haul we had rented) on a Sunday or Monday morning (I'm really not sure which one it was now that I think about it long and hard). It was a big step of faith for both of us. For me, I was starting my career at The Herald (actually, truly, taking a pay cut from delivering pizzas at the Franklin, TN. Domino's Pizza) the Monday following Thanksgiving. For her, it was trusting me by moving her further away from her family than she had ever been (now 7 to 8 hours away instead of 3 1/2 or 4). Humanly, we literally only had each other to lean on (cue "Livin' On A Prayer"). In reality, God had something planned for us that we never saw coming.

Our plan was one year and then back to Dixie. Really, anywhere in the south as long as it was below the Mason-Dixon Line, we were cool with that. Year one brought 9/11, freezing the job market at already struggling newspapers so it was on to year two, which brought a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage and then another pregnancy and the birth of our first child, Isabella. Not wanting to lose health insurance kept us here for the two years after 9/11. Then, we figured I might as well get my 5 years in at The Herald to be fully vested in The Herald's retirement plan. In the meantime, we decided to buy a house — still thinking we could sell it pretty quick after my fifth year. Then came our second child, Gabrielle and her difficult first few weeks. Our church really rallied around us and helped us out in ways that only family can. That made it a little more difficult to just pull the plug and leave.

Then, at the beginning of this year, I left The Herald and went full-time as Pastor of Music and Communications at CCJ, realizing that God had put us here for a reason (I hope that doesn't sound egotistical, i truly believe that's why we're here). Along the way, we've experienced much in these last 10 years, both good and bad. For every high, there's been a low but for every low there's been a high. Below are a few reflections on our decade here in Hoosierland (I still don't know exactly WHAT a Hoosier is — I just know I've got two daughters that are now native Hoosiers).

— You really can feed two people for a week on $8 (walking to Holiday Foods in Huntingburg because we couldn't spare the gas to drive all the way to Wal-Mart in Jasper).
— Sitting in that duplex in Huntingburg on Saturdays praying together that God would send us back to Nashville because we were so poor and lonely that we couldn't go anywhere and didn't have anyone to do anything with anyway.
— My second job with the now long-defunct Dubois County Dragons baseball team and getting pulled over on the way home almost every night for having a license plate light out (cops trying to nab drunk drivers). Those two summers are tough to forget.
— The grace of God getting us through on less than $25,000 a year (and the generosity of some people every now and then at just the right time).
— The helplessness of that miscarriage.
— The pure, indescribable exhilaration of seeing my daughter Isabella in that first second of her life outside of the womb.
— Ditto Gabrielle (with some fear thrown in since she was several weeks early and was tiny and not very responsive).
— Giving up the ghost on my hair and shaving it all off for the first time (and my wife's reaction).
— All that I learned at The Herald about design and what a good photo is and isn't and why I shouldn't crop Dave Pierini's photos, ever again.
— How fortunate I was to land at the best small newspaper in the country. I mean that. It was very hard to leave and I still miss it (even though I was never going to make a lot of money in journalism and would probably always had to have had two jobs to support the family — that's really just the nature of the beast these days).
— Learning how to be a worship leader even though all I ever wanted to do was play the guitar. ;-)
— The support of my wife, even though I know this place will never be home to her, no matter how long we stay. I know it's been hard many times, but I appreciate her.
— Why do they not put milk in a bag up here?
— Snow, snow, snow! I've never seen 2 feet of snow before I moved here.
— My neighbors watching me mow the first time I mowed at our house (seriously). Grass nazis!
— Smallville has been on the air nearly the whole time we've lived here.
— The feeling that I was a part of something special and divine at CCJ.
— The warehouse version of CCJ. I think it will be very hard to top the experience of those 3-4 years. I know you can never go back again but I miss that fellowship we had back then as a church of 200 and everybody was on mission together (it seemed). It's important not to live in the past though. Greater things are still to come.
— That first twentyfour7 small group and the closeness we had.
— All the milestones at CCJ (first Sunday at the new building, Easter with 1,200 people, 99 Days, etc.)
— I still have culture shock in many ways. I still don't like that people here don't and won't sing but I trust that God is teaching me something in leading the people here. Music isn't a priority here to a good 99% of the population, I have to accept that and work with what God has given me.
— Learning how to fully trust that God will supply all my needs and being thankful for His faithfulness to me even when I'm unfaithful to Him.

So many memories in the last decade, it's hard to write them all. We'll be here until God moves us.


OneBigHappy said...

Wow. I can really relate. We have had a very similar journey in some ways. Though we're still near our home towns. Thanks for sharing.

salguod said...

Milk in a bag? Really? How does that work? :-/

I can relate to some of that. It was 14 years ago in August that we quit our jobs and talked our way out of a lease to move to Columbus to start a new church. We had no jobs set up, not place to stay (lived in my sister's basement for a month) and no insurance. We had an 18 month old daughter and found out the day of the move that Maria was pregnant. It was a bit dicey for a time, but God saw us through, providing health insurance and an apartment even though we had no jobs.

It's been quite a journey, thanks for sharing and prompting me to reflect on it again.

Daniel said...

A gallon of mile (in its plastic jug sacked with the other groceries ... that's what I meant. In Tennessee, milk was always bagged with the other groceries. Here, not so much.