This January if we had a cup of coffee -sat down at a local coffee shop to have a heart to heart- it’d be a little different than previous years. For one, it would have coconut milk for creamer (whole 30 anyone??) or maybe I would make you Turkish tea or grind you some Ethiopian beans. 2015 was certainly one for the books (and I swear it will eventually be one for the blog too – I am struggling to get back into routines)
Seriously though, this year’s coffee talk would be different than the cup of coffee we had last January. Or the January before that. The past few years of Dave and I living in Washington DC have been so sweet, but 2011, 2012, 2013, & 2014? They had us asking all kinds of questions about the future. We showed up in the nation’s capital in 2011 as 22-year-old newlyweds planning to stay for 1-2 years…and five years of DC-living later? We have no plans to leave.
I started 2015 with a lot of confusion. I’d embarked on my freelance photography journey back in 2013 with plans of Dave joining me and eventually quitting his job in the medical field, but by January 2015 it still hadn’t happened. We weren’t sure if quitting his job meant finding another job or freelancing too, but we knew he was feeling ready to move on. However, no option ever felt ‘right’. I had also spent a lot of time dreaming about Dave and I leaving DC to travel and work on projects for a few months, but wasn’t sure how to make that leap.
Less than 48 hours after I wrote last year’s “coffee blog post” Dave received a call that threw a completely unexpected twist in our 2015 plans. The call was from Kate, founder and director of Bittersweet Creative. Dave and I had been freelancing photography and video projects for Bittersweet and contributing to their publication, Bittersweet Monthly, for a couple of years and had just come back from a 2015 planning retreat with their team. Kate was calling to see if Dave would be interested in coming onto the Bittersweet team full time – and we were honestly shocked by the phone call.
We all took some time (ie:months) to think, pray, and talk over the decision and throughout those weeks we really felt the Lord leading us toward Bittersweet and their vision. Dave accepted the position in May 2015, but the start date was not until September. A time gap that felt perfect for some extended traveling. Before meeting me, Dave had not travelled much as he was in the medical line and hence was required to be at his job 24/7 all around the year. While on the other hand, I had a dad who never liked staying at home and would always take us either on a golf tour, backpacking trip or just a really long RV trip. When we found the gap, not wasting much time we got to work over the next 8 weeks booking a few projects overseas to help with the costs of travel, notified our landlord, sold most of our furniture, packed up our remaining belongings for storage and bought one way tickets to Uganda.
The next six weeks were a blur of languages, hotels, and currencies but I think I will always look back at that time with Dave as one of the sweetest of my life. (We ended up traveling to Germany, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Turkey & Iceland) It felt like a loving gift from God as an unexpected fulfillment of a long-held dream and a confirmation that the Lord was still leading us to Washington, DC four years after he’d originally led us here. As incredible as our time traveling was, we both felt a peace about returning home when we boarded our last flight from Reykjavik to Washington.
We spent a few weeks after returning to the states visiting our families and enjoyed time lakeside and oceanside. Then, we began a chaotic eight weeks of couch surfing with (incredible) friends in the Washington, DC area as we settled back in and looked for a new place to live. We were amazed by the community who surrounded us and offered up their guest rooms and air mattresses while we settled. What an undeserved blessing. We (finally!!) moved into a new apartment in November which marked just about five months of living the nomad-life. I swear I will never take using dresser drawers rather than a suitcase for granted again. Our current apartment is on the opposite side of town and we ended up with a lower monthly rent than we were even hoping for (hallelujah – another unexpected blessing).
The resettlement process has been both wonderfully easy and also hard – highs and lows, if you will. The easy part was stepping back into the community that we love and the hard part was most definitely having our life in a constant state of chaos as we lived without an apartment. It’s also been a stretch financially – it’s amazing what four weeks of international vacationing will do to your savings account. But, we are settling into our new space and beginning to refurnish our apartment and rebuild the savings account – slowly but surely.
When I entered 2015 I was praying for harvest after what felt like 4 years of planting and growing. In so many ways 2015 was a harvest. As I look at 2016 I see it as a year to begin planting once again. We’ve spent the last few months tilling the land and preparing for planting, now we are ready to get down on our hands and knees and plant seeds. It’s time to expand our fields and grow some deep roots. I am not expecting easy, in fact, I feel like the Lord is just going to keep on teaching more and more about practicing contentment. I feel like the Lord has really stretched me this year and as a result he has beckoned me to grow, but I still have a whole lot to learn.
Hello, New Year, we are coming for you.