Sunday, December 5, 2010


It is already December and I thought today about the stupid amount of things have happened to us since last Christmas season. We weren’t even engaged yet this time last year. Things are happening to us quickly in life and in Tampa, especially at work. We will hopefully have some certain updates by the end of the week which will be exciting to share.

Note: Said updates DO NOT include pregnancy.

We are content here, although we are learning that Tampa is not as appealing as we had originally hoped. I think there might be three local coffee shops? We also did drive past a used bookstore the other day, which we will hopefully get a chance to explore soon. Otherwise, I think we overestimated the cultural character of the city. We do love our townhouse, and if things ever get the heck out of these boxes we will post some pictures. Caleb (Kyle’s brother) is coming to visit this weekend and we are determined to have the house in order by the time he comes. Fingers crossed.

We have finally found a church! What a relief from the frustrations of searching for a community we were beginning to think may not exist.  Covenant Life Church is relevant, young and welcoming. In a solely romantic way, it reminds me of the early days of Ashley Young Life: the days before we had a guitar player or anyone could drive. The sincere and gritty passion of building a haven for the gospel in a dark and mislead place. Ironically, the two pastors relocated to Tampa from North Carolina. Oh, Carolina.
Stuart and Sarah and their family are moving to Austin at the end of the month, which will make our worlds a little emptier. They have so suddenly and mightily become a part of our life and it will feel strange without them here. Already I have nostalgia for nights of meat on the grill, beer in the fridge and lengthy late conversations on the back deck in the dark. In all candidness, we hope and expect to follow them to Texas before the end of a year. I try not to dwell on this to avoid the exhaustion of my sheer excitement. Austin.

The Lord is giving us peace and grace. I am so thankful for this life and for the beauty of the Truth. There is so much to learn and so much to do, and I am happy for the endlessness of His provision and the Goodness of His plan.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Psalm 46:10

I over and over forget that God doesn’t sleep, stop, or forget to pay attention. This is dumb of me. It’s foggy, but I can still reach out and touch what’s in front of me. In the spiritual murkiness, God is pulling and pressing and reshaping and sweating and strengthening. His character doesn’t change when I do, or when my home does, or when my life does. Even when our eyes are closed we’re standing on the battlefield. We right now are learning, being reminded, searching, and being pulled nearer to the God who made us and is pursuing us. God is getting His hands dirty on us, unafraid and unashamed to fight for us. He is relentless, and He will stop at nothing to have us. I’ve recently been exposed to some things that God is doing. He is fierce.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Updates

A few quick updates, all important, in probably all the wrong order:

Kyle and I signed a lease on Wednesday! We’re moving into our new South Tampa Townhome on Halloween weekend. We found a sweet two bedroom with hardwood floors and a giant kitchen with room for our epic dining room table. We’re sad to go but excited to have the Wii back, among other things.  Stuart and Sarah are gifting us a leather couch and a custom made coffee table they bought and couldn’t return when it didn’t fit the space. We continue to be both amazed and eternally grateful for their generosity and hospitality.

Kyle and I have spent a lot of money at J. Crew recently building our work clothes collections. I never thought I’d be a J. Crew girl, but if I can’t wear jeans or tees to work then I guess I can adopt a style that allows for messy hair and slouchiness.

I’m going to California next week on a business trip. Yes, a business trip... to California. I made an out-of-office reply on my work e-mail. I’m pretty much all grown up. It will be the first time I’m away from Kyle for more than a night since we’ve been married, which I was afraid of until I remembered our entire relationship was long distance and I ought to be able to handle it.

Speaking of traveling, Kyle and I fly out early tomorrow morning to Richmond. My grandma on my dad’s side passed away last night. It’s sad and welcome – she’s been sick for a long time and now it’s finally over. Good for her, I think. Life and death are both funny things. We don’t really deserve either one, or at least not since Christ made death the door to paradise. Welcome home, grandma. You’re now the way you were always supposed to be.

We get back from Richmond Monday night and I leave for California Tuesday morning and so next week will be a frenzy of airplanes and emotion and exhaustion and I’m sure next weekend will feel long overdue when it finally comes.

Love this craziness, and love you all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Stuart and Sarah's home is an open house. It is always full and bustling with people and energy and goodness. The Maderas are here especially often. Amy cleans during the week, and her two kids are here doing something most of the time, working around the house or babysitting. Nate is twenty and Nina is seventeen and all of them are wonderful. Today they were over and we made a slip n' slide. Me, Kyle, Nate, Sela and Asher had the best afternoon twelve dollars can buy. 

For Tara:

Dear Tara and everyone,

If we left this part out at all, the house our cousin lives in is in a neighborhood that would beat up Landfall on the playground. This house is for sale around the corner: No joke.

Last week Kyle and I took a bicycle ride around our kingdom and photographed our favorites in your honor. We feel that it is a ridiculous thing that we live here. Please come visit soon. 

This one is ours. 

This one is my favorite.

The pool to the house above. Just trees growing in there.

We call this one the museum.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last weekend Kyle and I went on the leadership weekend to Southwind with leaders and staff from all over Florida. I talked to the AD in New Tampa on Thursday night and she invited us along, so Friday morning we fumbled around in the early morning looking for bags and sheets. A weekend later, we had new friends, phone numbers from people we weren’t related to, experience with a new dancing game that would make Erin Glasgow proud, a critical need for a shower and a new appreciation for daytime Florida humidity. I’m pretty sure everyone who met us asked why we would ever move away from North Carolina, and for the first time in several weeks, I got homesick. There are no mountains here, and no seasons. There is nowhere quite as familiar as Windy Gap or Wrightsville. I expected familiar faces at every meal, and didn’t find any, and that was hard. For the first time since we’ve been here I was surrounded by a large group, and for the first time I was lonely.

Last night I dreamt that we packed our bags and headed west. West, that is, to somewhere in Tennessee or Texas. In my dream, I wanted nothing more than to be back in Florida, in the sunshine, in this house, in my cubicle, with this piece of my new family. We spent most of the dream trying to hitch a flight back East.

By Sunday, there were a few familiar faces in the dining hall, and I had learned some names of people and churches and places we needed to go and things we needed to do, and I felt better. At some point over the weekend I realized that this feeling of not belonging was a lie, and that I am welcomed as a friend, a daughter, a wife… and that I am not alone.

I’m still sure that we’re in the right place for us and that coming here was always the plan. I think about Wilmington a lot. Wilmington, if you think of us, let us know. My phone has been mostly silent, and that’s okay, but I’d love to hear from you. I know my life isn’t the only one that God is doing things in, and I want know about the rest of them. I want to know about yours.

I love you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Office

Today at work, our co-worker Joel went outside to talk on the phone, and saw a praying mantis. It was his first time. For seriously ten minutes, our whole department filtered in and out of the office to go look at it. Jessica looked them up on Wikipedia. I even found my supervisor out in the parking lot, after tracking her down with a question about paperwork. They stood there, discussing how amazing it was, how they’d never seen one before, how it looks just like a stick….

Joel: Aren’t they poisonous?

Me: No. Not to humans… or anything else. They’re not friendly, though, to other insects, especially females to males. After they copulate, the female bites the males head off.


Without a word, all of them turned and went back inside. Mantis FTW.

I think everything in the office is funny only because it’s an office. And seriously funny: today, Nate the IT guy was eating a kiwi and got the juice in his lunchbox and I literally laughed out loud. I fill up my water bottle at the water cooler. I sat in the break room to eat my lunch. I’m getting file folders dropped onto my desk and being asked to load them into the system. It feels more like a comedy and less like my life, and I think that’s good for me, because I don’t think I’m capable of taking it seriously any other way. I don’t care about hot leads or negotiations, and if my job depended on my dedication to the business it would all be over, but the irony of my cubicle will sustain me indefinitely. Also: shopping for business clothes.

I like working near Kyle. I was (stupidly) afraid of working with him, afraid of wanting to compete and the consequences of an awkward rivalry. But we’re doing very different things and having him a few cubicles away makes work feel less lonely. We can appreciate the same weird things that happen and the same stupid things that people say. It’s good to share. I think I’m about to start learning a lot more about myself, about what I’m good at, what I’m afraid of, and why it’s all okay.

Those are all the coherent thoughts I have right now. Everything is still fresh and exciting and I can’t keep it all together. This life is ridiculous. Love you all.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I like Tampa. That’s what I’ve decided. I haven’t decided why. It’s a funny place, and it feels nice to be here. I wondered, as we drove off on Saturday, what it might be like, or if I’d ever start to feel the shock of leaving. I wondered if it might be suddenly traumatic, or if I might just slide seamlessly away. I felt a little bit like we stole away in the night... There was no final, loud celebration, or any crowds standing on the docks waving their handkerchiefs and wiping their eyes. We boarded the truck early in the morning and sailed away quietly.

It’s strange to be at the beginning of something. I’ve done this before; packed my life away and headed south to live a totally unfamiliar life. Wilmington was once brand new, and then familiar, and then I adored it, and at some point it became my home. I’m aware that this process is about to reoccur. I don’t feel afraid. I feel like I want to drive around all the roads on Tampa and meet all the people and find the best coffee shop. There’s a store we pass on our way to work called “All About Puppies”. The outdoor pool is open until Halloween. There are two Urban Outfitters and an Ikea. The Starbucks in the neighborhood we’re looking into is open 24 hours. The African Safari themed Busch Gardens is ten minutes away. We have a 24 pack of Cheerwine stocked in the refrigerator in the garage. It won’t be home overnight, but it is a good new world.

We’re living with some of Kyle’s family, and so we’ve acquired a large house, a dog, and four kids under six. Tuesday morning the three oldest crawled into bed with us with their favorite books at a too-early hour. They hug us goodnight. We’ve helped make dinner. It feels like real family… I haven’t had that for awhile. I’m grateful for how welcomed we are. I think living with a whole established family could be tricky, but they make it seem normal. I also think that their four-little-kid-life is a glorious nuthouse, so we probably fit right in. “Of course there’s a married couple living in the guest room.”

Kyle and I both work in cubicles. It’s hysterical and awesome. We’ve been really occupied since we started training Wednesday. If you want our job descriptions, probably you could talk to Kyle about his. I’m still trying to figure mine out. It’s good to have something to do, something to think about, and somewhere to focus all of my excited energy. Everyone is quirky. Everyone is friendly.

Kyle and I are having a lot of fun together. We drive around a lot. We’ve been shopping. We’ve played Roller Coaster Tycoon. We’ve ridden our bikes around the neighborhood. We’ve braved Ikea (I still see it when I close my eyes.) We’ve talked to some of you, but not all of you. We’re sorry about that.

We love all of you. 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


"And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."

-Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

If you only have a minute, here is the short story: this week, we were both offered jobs in Tampa, Florida. Kyle turned in his two week notice today and we have to be down there to start work on Monday, September 5. Although we’re sad to be leaving so soon after we’ve settled, we’re really excited, thankful, and frankly, amazed at God’s provision.

Here is the longer, more incredible story: Kyle’s cousin Stuart is the Chief Technology Officer of a software company in Tampa that processes workers comp claims. Apparently they get things done, because the company is growing at 40% per year. Stuart was in town midweek on an emergency business trip to Carolina Beach (of all places) and took us out to dinner Wednesday night and caught up on our lives. We spent several hours at Brasserie, gave him a quick tour of our new home, and took him back to CB, where he got back to work. Thursday afternoon, Kyle got a call from Stuart, asking him to meet him immediately for lunch, and to bring a notebook. His proposal was, in a nutshell, that Kyle and I gather our things and come down, live with him in his new home with his wife and four kids, and go to work full time in the call service center at his company. Kyle’s work pace, he said, was sure to leave everyone else in the dust, and he’d be sure to be managing some people within a year. He also offered to pay out our lease in Wilmington so we’d be free to come. What?

The decision didn’t take us very long. We’ve both been frustrated by the job search in Wilmington in the past few months. Nothing permanent seemed to be settling and I was feeling discouraged that there wasn’t work for me to do. I threw a few (or more) tantrums and tried to believe in the places that were being prepared for us that seemed so far off. Now the door is wide open for us to go, and we’re going for it.

We’re really excited to be striking off. I’m thankful for finally some chaos in my life (if you know me well, that makes sense to you) and for something brand new. We feel a little bit shaken up, both by the suddenness of the opportunity and the incredible generosity of our families to help us get there. I can’t believe the extravagance of the Lord in this provision. He’s so Good.

That said, I want to tell you that everything over the past few days has become really sentimental (“is this the last time I’ll have Flaming Amy’s?”) Knowing that I’ll be far from all of you, my favorite people, breaks my heart a little bit. We’re going somewhere new, and so we’re leaving behind something familiar. We couldn’t overstate how much we love all of you or how much you mean to us. You’re our family.

I’m not good at good-byes. I don’t like them very much. I know I’ll see you all again, because of course we’ll come visit, and I know we’ll be in touch, and I know this is only the first time we’ll be striking out for something new.

We would love to see all of you before we go. Ideally, we would spend hours personally with each of you and soak in all the “last” moments. Realistically, though, we have two weeks to get our life in boxes and into a truck, and our free time is about to plummet. Please, please, please, stop by in the next two weeks. (For some of you, that will mean stopping by to see our place for the first time! Hah…) I’m sending along Kyle’s work schedule for this coming week– please come by anytime when he’s not at work. We will perhaps treat you to a can of Coke, and probably some tears.

Thanks for being a part of our lives so far. Thank you for loving us. Pray for us. Come see us before we go. You are all wonderful.