some thoughts

If you like this blog for the pictures, than you may want to skip this one.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where God has been leading me (and is continuing to lead), and what that all means.

He brought me to Hope Town, where I was in a job that I didn’t feel qualified for, yet he equipped me to do so much and grow in a way I could never imagined.

He gave me a love and passion for photography that served as a wonderful creative outlet for me there.

He led us to North Carolina, and I really thought he was leading me to start my own photography business.  So much so, that I registered a name (Daylight Photography) and became an LLC.

And then, all of a sudden, he throws me a curve ball:¬† he puts me in a job where I am doing exactly what I am trained/gifted/created to do… lead others in the musical aspect of worship, and be a part of community.

What???

“So Mary, where’s the struggle here?¬† You love your job, right?”

Right.

“You’re doing what you wanted to be doing, right?”

Right.

And here’s where my inner 5-year-old kicks in, stomping her foot on the ground.

“But it wasn’t my PLAN!!”

Don’t worry, I will continue to take pictures, and I’ll still be doing some weddings.¬† Next fall my cousin is getting married, and I am SUPER pumped for their Mexico destination wedding!

But this process is going to be much different than MY PLAN.

And that’s a good thing.

Because God’s plans usually turn out way better than mine…¬† one time he “messed up” my plans and I ended up meeting my husband.

I just don’t know what this is going to look like.¬† The full-time business that was in my mind is not going to be a reality.

But ohmygosh, I love my job.

And perhaps God is trying to pry open my fingers of my future, help me let go of this ‘control’ that I think that I have, and embrace the unknown.

Because the unknown, well, that’s a beautiful thing.

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Durham Hugs and Duds

I know it’s been SUPER long since my last Hugs and Duds post, but never better time than the present! ¬†This is my first one from the “Land of Plenty,” as Mike likes to call the states. ¬†So here goes…

HUGS go to:

Access to copyrighted websites!! ¬†Such as abc.com, nbc.com, and pandora. ¬†Outside the U.S., somehow most websites with copyrighted material has this impenetrable protection– I couldn’t believe they didn’t work in Hope Town! ¬†(I kept wanting to call someone and tell them I was an American citizen, and that it really was ok for me to view the latest episode of 30 Rock.) ¬†I’ve been going through withdrawal not being able to watch a missed episode of The Office or Grey’s Anatomy over the past 2 years… and online music streaming is pure genius. ¬†(There’s lots more sites out there that do what Pandora does, but I am in love. ¬†I will be loyal.)

Stieg Larsson’s Trilogy – I’m shocked to be writing this, because I usually turn my nose¬†at SUPER popular books (don’t ask me why–Mike must have turned me into a book snob!), but after recommendations from both my mother and mom-in-law, I cracked open The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. ¬†I’m on the third one now, but these “Girl Who” books are taking over my spare time!! ¬†If you’ve yet to read these books, I’ll just tell you– they’re the type that you’re sad when they’re over. ¬†(Or simply angry that you don’t have the next book!!) ¬†Who knows what on earth I will read after these.

Local Breweries — I am all about moderation here, but I do admire the vast amounts of locally brewed beer here in North Carolina. ¬†Never had I dreamed there would be this many varieties… and then there’s the seasonal ones… There’s a place in the Triangle area called Tyler’s Taproom that hosts a “pint night” where they feature a new local beer, and give out a pint glass for keeps! ¬†We have yet to attend pint night, but it’s definitely on the list.

_________________________________________________

aaaaand… the DUDS.

Missing Hope Town. Especially my kids. ¬†This one is pretty much self-explanatory…

That is all for the duds. ¬†It’s a big one, but gosh we have a lot to be thankful for, too.

…like the fact that my Mama comes tomorrow… ūüôā ¬†Happy almost weekend, everyone. ¬†(it’s only 2 days away!)

photos…finally!

Check out our living room!

Thanks to some awesome folks in the church, we have FURNITURE in our living room… hooray!

Here is my office… complete with fancy nameplate:

To tag on an unrelated thing, Mike and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary August 8. ¬†We were moving that week, so we didn’t actually get to eat our cake until a few days later in Missouri, but it was SO yummy!! ¬†Gotta love that funfetti!

things are looking up

…not that they were down, but after our crazy first week, it is so nice to have a house alllllmost put together. ¬†Christ Church has really blown us away with their generosity in helping us acquire some furniture, and now our empty living room has become a (hopefully) welcoming place you want to be. ¬†We are still working on putting on the finishing touches, hanging pictures, etc, but I will try and get some photos of the place as it is now! ¬†My job is WONDERFUL, and I will take some pics of the office to show you all, too!

Mike had his first day, and it was great!  He started with Hebrew, and already has homework (although who is surprised at this?).  Following that he had Church History, which apparently is an intense class, but he seems to be excited about it.  I am already enjoying him coming home and talking about classРI have a feeling I will get to learn from his education a little bit!

Sorry if we’ve been remiss in calling/emailing some folks. ¬†It is taking longer than I had anticipated to get my feet on the ground, and we are only just now starting to fall into a routine. ¬†Thank you all for being understanding and for your patience!

a quick walk-through

so our apartment is FAR from being done, or even fully furnished… but here are a few photos I’ve taken (with the point and shoot, don’t hate) this week.

the truck:

our apartment

Here’s wes and finn drinking water together… how cute

Wesley helping mike put together the bookshelves:

and this is the staff at Christ UMC, my new church/workplace!

They have ALL been AMAZING to me, so welcoming and helpful.  My first day leading worship was Sunday, at the 8:30am and 5:30pm services.  It was a little intense to meet the band and then lead them/play together immediately, but they were wonderful, worshipful services.  They have asked me to be full-time (yay!!) so I will also take on their Young Adult ministries and help with a few other things here and there.  I am excited for what more is in store for me at Christ Church!

Speaking of young adults… a group from the church went to a Durham Bulls game last night! ¬†It was great!

There is a bull there that breathes smoke and its eyes light up when they score a home run or win the game!

I will definitely keep y’all posted on how things come along here. ¬†Mike had his first day of orientation today at Duke, so he may have some stories for his blog soon, too!

the move

This week has been a whirlwind of sorts, but YES, we are in North Carolina!

(Actually, I’m on a staff retreat in South Carolina¬†for my new job, but I’ll get there.¬† Hold on.)

A week ago today, Mike and I left the Bahamas with Wesley on a very small plane.¬† Wes was SO good on the flight!¬† We got to West Palm with no problems.¬† Mike’s mom met us, and we even got to have dinner with Don and Carrie before her knee surgery the next day!¬† We spent the night in the Best Western that folks from Hope Town have deemed the “Abaco Inn,” since so many Abaconians stay there.

The next day, we fly to Kansas City and arrive around dinnertime.¬† My brother and his whole family picked us up and we had a great time at dinner, and ended up spending the night at their house.¬† Friday morning, super early, we drive to my parents’ house in Boonville to organize and move all our stuff to the garage for pre-loading (my dad is such a great mover/planner!).¬† Saturday, with the help of my brother and a neighbor and his friends, we got the truck loaded up to the brim in less than 2 hours!¬† Also, our awesome friend Dane flew in from Durham to drive us east.

We drove on Sunday morning as far as Nashville, where we got to see my friend Amanda from high school and meet her PRECIOUS daughter, Penelope!¬† Monday, we finished the trip to Durham and spent the night with Dane and Natalie, since our move-in date wasn’t until Tuesday.¬† I went to bed that night thinking about how wonderful the trip had been, and how I should write in my journal about all these changes.

Ok, here’s where the story gets a little more interesting.

Tuesday morning, Natalie was taking her dog Finnegan for a walk and saw that the back of our Penske truck was unlocked and wide open.¬† She comes and tells us this, and we instantly called the police.¬† We run out there and find that none of our stuff was stolen– crazy, right?!¬† As I’m walking back to her apartment, the complex calls me and tells me that our carpets have not yet been cleaned, but they’re probably coming this morning, but we can’t move in yet.¬† I’m thinking, this is not how I planned this morning, but it’s going to be ok.

THEN about 2 hours later, we get a call about our electricity account not being set up.¬† You know, the one that I sent 2 faxes for the week before from the BAHAMAS despite power outages and everything else.¬† Yup– apparently we needed to re-fax.¬† This is important, as we don’t get the keys to our apartment until we have an energy account.¬† Later, we need to re-re-fax since the notary’s stamp couldn’t be seen.¬† By the end of the day, Mike and I are in our car, hunting for the payment center office to get this thing all straightened out.¬† We spend two hours fruitlessly driving in search of this place, and are encouraged by Dane to just come back to their place.

“SURPRISE!!”¬† We walk in the door, surrounded by our friends who live in the area, and I am blown away.¬† At this point, I was pretty much ready to give up.¬† Thankfully, the day turned completely around!¬† I got to talk to some people who I haven’t seen in a long time, and felt so welcomed and loved.¬† Apparently, Dane and Natalie had arranged for this surprise party long before we knew this would be such a tough day.¬† Who knew that we would need it then more than ever?

The good news is, Mike fixed up our energy plan and got the keys to our apartment today.¬† Several people from the church helped and¬†unloaded our truck in less than an hour, and sound like they’re doing great.¬† Meanwhile, I left at 8:00 this morning to come on my first staff retreat with the folks at Christ UMC, where I now work!¬† It’s a little bit crazy to jump in straightaway like this, but I am so thankful for the position and this community.¬† Everyone has been so kind and encouraging, and I am still in a bit of a daze.

I have moments where the Hope Town youth will come into my mind, or I’ll long for my coffee house coffee, and I will think “how did I end up back in the states?”¬† But the timing is right, and it’s ok to miss friends.¬† After all, no one can stay away from Hope Town for long!

 

Mike + Ashley… married!

Remember these guys?

Well, they got HITCHED this weekend!¬† What a JOY to be a part of Mike and Ashley’s wedding on August 7!¬† I absolutely love the way they looked at each other all day, and found myself especially emotional at the mention of their BEAUTIFUL daughter.¬† I had so much fun being with them this week. What an amazing way to end our time in Hope Town!

If you’re here for the slideshow, scroll on down.¬† But first, let me fill you in on some of the highlights of their big day.

Ashley could not stop smiling… I wonder if she was excited or something?

The ceremony itself was so perfect.  During the pouring of the unity sand, they even had sand for Gabriella, their gorgeous daughter.  Not many dry eyes in that place, folks.

I could not get over the sweetness in the way that they looked at each other.¬† Look at Mike’s face in this next photo– is that not love, or what?

Ashley’s colors were beautiful– such a fresh pink, and a blue to match the ocean.¬† Buds and Blooms created beautiful arrangements of hydrangeas for the ladies.

Their rings are pretty awesome.¬† Ashley came into the day with some photo shot ideas of her own, and this was one of them.¬† Love it!¬† Don’t you just adore the way she’s looking at Mike?

Their reception was love-filled, fun-filled, and altogether awesome!

Ok, ok, here’s the slideshow!¬† ūüôā

Also, if you would like to see the full proofs online, and/or order nice prints, you can go to their online gallery.