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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Monthly Archives: November 2009

Short and sweet. Short, because I’m already almost done writing. Sweet because Amber and I baked three pies today. Today is the first time that I have been away from home for Thanksgiving. The Priests invited me to come to Orlando and spend it with them, and it was wonderful. So, while I would have loved to have been with my family in South Carolina (and I was jealous about the menu there), it was wonderful to spend time with these new additions to my family, and we had surf and turf. I am so blessed to be torn between two loving families.

The pies were apple (a big hit), chocolate chip (almost too rich to eat), and a chocolate bourbon pecan (good, not great.)

Looking forward to posting more soon about the job search process – or, what I am beginning to think of as self marketing.

Does anyone remember the 311 song called Amber? It was one of my favorites for a really long time. And that has nothing to do with what I’m going to write about, but her name is Amber, so I guess that’s something.

After proofing my last post (which was way too long), I realized that any discussion about what’s going on in my life doesn’t make much sense without my fiancee, Amber. And for more than obvious reasons, she has changed everything. When I started dating her the summer before last, I had an inclination to change my plans pretty early on. Alan, Dan and I were getting ready to move up to New York together last summer, and I would say we were pretty much set to do that when I first took Amber out. Almost immediately, I knew that being with her was very important to me. Now, it took me a while to admit that to myself, and I spent a while going ahead with the plans I had made before she became a part of my life. Soon thereafter, it became clear that she was the most important thing to me.

I found myself in this awkward place where there were three big areas of my life that I could not reconcile. The first was my place at Christ Community Church. The second was my desire to move to New York and pursue a career in the music industry. The third was Amber. Once I realized that I couldn’t have them all (at least not at the same time), I began to understand what it means to wait on God. It’s easy for us to get used to having what we want when we want it, and I am really good at getting what I want. But this time, my desires were incompatible with each other. Charlie Staples, one of the elders at my church, asked me once in a meeting to think about what was important to me. That was really hard to do. It is times like those when keeping a journal really comes in handy. I went back to an entry I had made on a plane to NYC (I think Alan and I were going there for vacation). I wrote a lot during that flight, but after going back and looking I noticed a theme: “I don’t want to do this alone.” I read back a little further to one of the early weekends in our relationship when Amber came to see me in Gainesville. I had written it there, too. Thinking about what was really important to me got a little easier when I could do a sort of content analysis of my thoughts over the past 6 months. Amber is important to me. She is unlike any woman I have met before. Once I made that mental shift and I began prioritizing our relationship, everything else fell in to place. It didn’t hurt that one of the first questions she asked after I proposed was “When are we moving to New York?”

Waiting is not a bad thing, after all. I don’t think I would relive those months of having no idea what to do, but every thought leading in to this major move for us shimmers with the excitement of not doing it alone. My God gives me hope for the future, but my fiancee gives me joy in it.

So, what is important to you? Thank you for reading.

but I need to go.

Yesterday, I spent several sleepy hours in the early morning getting ready to lead worship at CCC. I’ve worked here for nearly three years, but each and every Sunday still feels different. Something about the air, its temperature and light, makes each one unique. It was a good day. I found myself able to rely on several talented and gracious people, which is always refreshing. As I stood on the platform during the service, just heading in to the final song, Carter leaned over and said, “Don’t forget the extra verse.” Of course I was going to forget it; it wasn’t in my music because I hadn’t gone back and made the change the night before. I didn’t forget it, though, because he was looking out for me and for the group. This might seem like a trivial thing, but what Carter did represents something that has evolved over the course of my time at this church. I am surrounded by reliable, thoughtful people who care deeply about what we do together and even more deeply for each other and for me. When I started leading music in 2007, I was just coming off of a stint of worship leading at RUF at the University of Florida, so I still had lots of musician contacts in town, and they were all eager to play with me. When you have almost instant chemistry with people, there is no real motivation to pay close attention to details. If I made a mistake, we would just roll over it. As a result, our worship’s quality did not improve at the rate that it could have (or should have.) While the church was getting stronger and bolder as a group of singers, I was stagnating. Not that I’m proud of it, but it’s just the way it was. Now that most of those people are gone, ample rude awakenings and evidences of my abilities’ limits have coerced me into a better attitude. Looking over years of growth, both for me and for the congregation at CCC, I see that God strengthens us through each other over time. If you have never experienced what it’s like to be a part of a community that truly loves one another, then you need to be looking for one. That is where you are meant to be.

It is good to be deliberate, and for all of the Sunday mornings that have gone well as a result (and for those that have gone bad), I am more thankful for the relationships that it has helped me form with the people who surround me. I am thankful for each late night or early rehearsal, for Jen and Ed hosting a party for us and for Jen’s art, for Rebecca’s delicious muffins, for Carter’s unflinching commitment and friendship, for Brittany’s passion for worship, for Christian and Harmony’s dedication to the success of our worship, for Sam’s nasty djembe skills (are you sure you’re not part African?), for Melissa’s flexibility and patience with my ridiculous expectations, for Sarah and Rob’s love and generosity. This list could really get a lot longer…

And for those who have moved on from Gainesville (Alan, Dan, Sarah, Pierre, Josh, Jason and many others). You are my link to the world outside of all this. When people ask me how I can leave CCC behind, especially at this time, I usually don’t have a good answer. Quite honestly, it is really hard to pull away from a place that means so much to you. Still today, I don’t quite know how to answer that question. I have a conviction that doesn’t come with words – something more than emotion but often less than thoughts that I can articulate. What I find myself saying more times than anything else is this: I don’t want to leave, but I need to go. This might sound trite, but it is the honest truth. My heart breaks at the thought of putting so much distance between myself and so many good things, but it jumps at the chance to see something amazing happen in New York. So, let those people who have already done what I am about to do be a sort of testimony for me, and let’s talk more about this once I have moved up there. If any of you are reading, I would cherish your comments.

P.S. Next, some thoughts on how my fiancee Amber has changed everything.

I have had this blog for a while, although there’s never been a period in time when I felt compelled to write (at least not anything people should be interested in reading). When I think of a blog, I imagine a few categories defined by the people writing them. The first and probably most prolific group fills its blog roll with topical commentary (politics, money, entertainment, etc). The second group is more introspective. They dig deep inside and share things with us that we would probably never know by talking to them, even if they were a close friend. Reading blogs like these can help me explain what is going on inside my own head, sort of like listening to a great song. The last group of bloggers interests me the most, and it is the one I am now interested in joining. This group draws on experience, whether past or ongoing, that is compelling enough to be written about and to be read. I have a story to tell, and it is for you:

For my friends and family; for anyone who has thought about packing up and moving to the city; for anyone with a great job who thinks it is crazy to give it up in this economy; for anyone who wonders what it is like to be engaged, or to be engaged long distance; for anyone interested in working in the music industry but you don’t quite know how; for anyone who wonders (or remembers) what it’s like to leave a place full of people you love; for those who don’t believe God is real; for those who can’t understand how faith can change a person.

Read my story as it unfolds and interact with it. Ask me questions; I want to share this with you. Now, I don’t presume that my story is unique, and I won’t promise that anything profound or deeply meaningful will come out of my words, but I will bring what I have to this blog and let you decide what to take from it.

Thank you for reading.