Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Here There And Everywhere

The past three weeks have been here, there, and everywhere! From unpacking and settling in to our new Birmingham home, to spending a week in Chattanooga, and then a week in Nashville...I can honestly say that it feels good to be back at “home” here in Birmingham!! The summer started off in full swing with a move, baby showers for friends, weddings, and great quality time with family and good friends. This week it’s been such a blessing already to be here in Birmingham with Brandon and have some sense of “normalcy” by having the “Dr. Josh” chicken, steamed veggies in coconut oil, and sweet potatoes ready when B gets home from work!! With all the dishes, pots, and pans unpacked and the cook back in the kitchen - the eating out days and nights can now come to an end...phew!! 

At a wedding in Chattanooga
As great as it’s been to be back here in Birmingham, a few realities have set in this week. The main three (which we covet your prayers for) are as follows:
1. We would love for our Nashville home to sell in the month of July (It officially went on the market last week with a great agent so we are hopeful!) 

2. We would love for me to start a full-time job with benefits by mid to end of July (Appreciate any and all connections and leads! Message me if you’d like me to send you my resume!) 

3. B has a solid month and a half with his new job under his belt and is working hard to stay on top of the learning curve (It’s a big adjustment to have a career change!)
All that to say, the June 27 devotion of “Jesus Calling” was such an encouragement as it read: “The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you full for whatever awaits you on your journey.” -Psalm 143:8; Genesis 28:15
It’s amazing how refreshing God’s Word is when you are seeking something solid and stable!! At a time when there are a lot more uncertainties than certainties, it’s been neat to see how we crave God’s Word since we know it’s not going to matter what!!
At a wedding in Nashville

On Tuesday of this week I got to volunteer at The Heart of CAbi Foundation’s tornado relief event in Tuscaloosa - literally helping women who lost everything find new (free!) clothes. As I got to spend time with them as we picked out outfits, it was a real eye opener for me to hear that they are simply blessed to be alive! WOW! How true!! Part of Brandon’s North Alabama territory with his new job is Tuscaloosa - so we have now both seen the recent devastation from the tornadoes in April. Not to mention, the devastation right down the road in Birmingham and the different areas that hit so close to home in Chattanooga. Realizing that none of us can take one day for granted puts the three items above (sell house, need job, starting new job) into perspective. Yet as we are gut level honest with you in the marriage moment for this week - we are learning to trust God in a whole new way on our “faith walk”. 
Closing statement from the man of the house:  "Exciting times living in the uncertain.  It's in times like these that your faith grows.  The Scripture I keep playing over and over in my mind is, 'seek FIRST His Kingdom and His righteousness.' (Matthew 6:33)  Seek FIRST His Kingdom.  Seek FIRST His righteousness.  Seek FIRST His Kingdom and His righteousness....."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Feel Known

You may have heard me mention before that my husband’s love language is FOOD! One of the things that was most hard for Brandon when he first got to Birmingham in May and I was still in Nashville was the fact that he was eating out for each meal - including breakfast. Picking up banana bread from The Fresh Market or grabbing a biscuit from Chick-Fil-A was just not coming close to his morning usual of eggs and beans!! When people hear that he eats eggs and beans for breakfast each morning - they ask if that’s normal and they’ve just missed out on something or if that’s a “Brandon combo special”!! I will be the first to tell you that it’s definitely a “Brandon combo special”! It brought joy to my man’s face when we got the kitchen boxes unloaded in Birmingham and had the skillet for the eggs and the pan for the beans back in action. 

This past weekend we were in Chattanooga visiting the family. We even got to spend Sunday night since Brandon was going to be doing business in the area on Monday - so you know what that means - eggs and beans in Chattanooga on Monday morning!! When Mom and I went to the grocery store on Sunday night, we went around and collected all the usuals. Instead of just grabbing the eggs and beans, we also grabbed a few extra “toppings” so that B could make an omelet. We decided we would go ahead and chop up all the extra ingredients on Sunday night so that when B got up early on Monday morning, he would have all the prep work finished and could just go to town with preparing his breakfast (since the rest of us would still be sleeping!!)

When we walked in from the grocery store and put all the items out on the counter, B went on to say in a long drawn out heartfelt way, “I FEEL KNOWWWNNN!!!!” That phrase stuck with me as a perfect idea for this week’s blog. The marriage moment behind all this is that the little things go a long way. As I started off saying, my hubby’s love language is food! Knowing that and then going so far to say that we chopped up his breakfast toppings the night before so that they would be all ready for breakfast the next morning - was like winning the lottery for Brandon! (Well, maybe not SO much...but you get the picture!!) Thankful to know what makes him smile!! It’s a little way for me to show him just how crazy about him I really am!!

Closing statement from the man of the house: "‘I Feel Known’ is a phrase that Whit and I both share. I get really excited when I hear her say those words cause I know I have loved her in a specific way that really lets her know that I truly know her on a deep level. One of those levels that can really be gotten to by listening and making an effort to put what the other person cares about into action.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Look Into Our New Nest

This past week has been full of organizing and settling in, thus our new nest certainly is feeling more and more like “home” everyday. When we were first moving from a three bedroom house to a two bedroom apartment, we were wondering how everything was going to fit. It’s been neat to see how each item has found its new spot. The first night that we were in our apartment, it was hot and we were on the third floor and really missing our one story home back in Nashville - and that’s when Brandon mentioned that he felt like the Lord was breaking us. He went on to say that this is something he had been praying for. He then challenged us to think of someone to pray for each time we climb the stairs to our third floor apartment and felt like complaining -- someone who may not have a home or just lost their home in one of the recent storms. That was such a cool challenge and it’s blessed me anytime I have felt a bit out of breath carrying groceries or something to the top floor. It’s amazing how much you grow when you take your eyes off yourself and onto the Lord and the people all around us. 
Moving from a home that we adored (...that still is for sale - so please continue to pray for the right buyer! As of this week, it’s officially listed with an agent now so we are hopeful that the buyer is right around the corner!!) to an apartment in a new city (that we really are liking a lot!), has been a great reminder that this world is not our home. Whether we are in a house or an apartment, this world is simply our “temporary home”. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reminds us, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

A dear friend asked me recently what one of the hardest things about this move has been and what one of the most exciting things has been and the long and the short of it was this: It was hard to leave the place we had grown to be so comfortable in (home, jobs, church, friends, routine) but it’s been exciting to know that the Lord has carved out this new adventure just for us. It’s a new day and a new time and this move has already brought Brandon and I so much closer together. It’s been neat to experience this new place, new city, new job, new apartment together - as husband and wife. We thank you so much for cheering us on and supporting us through each step. We’re constantly reminded that the Lord is with us wherever He go - whether it’s in Nashville, Birmingham, a home, or an apartment. That’s simply the outer “shell” and He is dwelling in our hearts and is our PEACE that nothing else in this world can bring us. John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled..."

Closing statement from the man of the house: "When Whit and I were talking about being ‘broken’ the other night, it reminded me of a time that I heard John Piper say to ask the Lord to do whatever it takes to bring you back to Him - for He is the only thing in this world that matters. Since our surroundings, routines and usual comforts look different now - we are reminded that the one thing that’s not going to change is the Lord by our side wherever we go.”
**We’ll leave you today with a few snapshots from a look into our new nest!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

This past Saturday marked the day that this Alabama boy took his Tennessee girl back to “Sweet Home Alabama”. There are so many things to say that it’s hard to know where to even start. I have learned a lot about myself through this whole move and part of what I have learned and am still learning is that when people ask how I am doing {or how is the move going} I love to fill people in on all the details - but am learning to just share bits and pieces or it will totally wear me out! With that being said...I will share a few of the highlights of the past 72(ish) hours.
Friday marked my last full-time day at Mercy Ministries. I am still working part-time through the Chattanooga Mercy Luncheon in July. B got into Nashville on Friday afternoon and surprised me at work - {happy} tears filled my eyes when I saw his handsome self standing in the doorway of my office. Not only was it so sweet to have him back in Nashville with me - but he brought me ice cream which was so precious!! Friday night we had a normal relaxing evening at home {take note: not even one box had been would have thought we were nesting in for a traditional Nashville weekend}. 

My sweet husband brought me ice cream on my last day!!
Saturday morning we got up about 6:15am: showered, B made eggs and beans {his standard breakfast}, spent time in the Word...asking the Lord to truly be our STRENGTH as we move everything from Nashville to Birmingham. {take note again: still not even one thing in the whole house had been packed up} For any of you that know me well, you know how much I have enjoyed the “Jesus Calling” devotional book by Sarah Young. The devo for June 4 was RIGHT ON. It gave me chills when I read the following: 
“Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me. You have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle. When the path before you is dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against those challenges. That calculation is certain to riddle you with anxiety. Without Me, you wouldn’t make it past the first hurdle! 

The way to walk through demanding days is to grip My hand tightly and stay in close communication with Me. Let your thoughts and spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless of the day’s problems, I can keep you in perfect Peace as you stay close to Me.” {James 1:2, Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 26:3}
Around 7:00am we started packing up the slipcovers on our sectional (that we treasure!!) and then B went with a friend to pick up the moving truck. Our sweet cousin arrived from Chattanooga to help us and then the Nashville friends started piling in. I put the girls to work on wrapping up our kitchen (dishes, platters, china, glasses, etc ... that all seems to multiply when you move) and the guys helped B load up the heavy items in the house. 

Packing "load one" of the truck in Nashville on Saturday morning
8am to 11am absolutely flew by...everyone was in the zone...we gave our friends full permission to do whatever it takes to pack up whatever items they can find and no need to even ask us if this or that is a good way to pack it. Our main goal was for everything in our Nashville home to get to our new Birmingham home!! Around 11am is when the marriage moment occured! :) B said, “Hey Whit - Come join me up here on the truck for a quick team meeting!” I went up there with him and that’s when he informed me that the moving truck (and my car) were almost completely full and that the new game plan would be for us to leave in 15 minutes to drive this to Birmingham, unload the items in Bham, and drive back to Nashville to get the rest of the items. {“oh my goodness gracious”, I thought} I said, “Babe, are you sure this is the best idea?” He said, “I am positive and I need you to trust me.” After we locked eyes and I gave him the “Alright babe, you got it!” response - he gathered a team meeting in the living room for all of our helpers. Basically that was to fill everyone in that we’d be leaving in 15 minutes, so let’s wrap up all that we can between now and then. 
Gas for the moving truck was not cheap!!
B was driving the moving truck and I was driving my Explorer and we hit the road. We got to Birmingham in the usual three hours...signed the papers, got the keys for our new apartment, did the final walkthrough, and ten of our friends and family met us at the apartment to unload. When I say it felt like angels descended on the apartment - I am not even joking. We called people on the way to Bham to let them know we were getting in much earlier than expected and we knew that would be a bit of a curve ball since we had originally mentioned we would probably need help in the early evening. Here it was around 3pm in the middle of a Saturday and I am not even kidding when I say that the entire moving truck was unloaded and all items were delivered {to the THIRD floor of the apartment in the 100 degree Alabama summer weather} in ONE hour!! It was unreal. We thanked everyone profusely for their help and then B and I got back in the moving truck and drove back to Nashville. {after a lunch stop at the Whole Foods!!} 
The amazing Birmingham Unload Team on Saturday afternoon
We arrived back in Nashville around 8pm and had some friends at the house ready to load up the second truck load. We kept the tunes blaring and everyone was sooo very helpful! Not only did our stuff seem to multiply at the end - but we even mustered up enough strength to windex the mirrors, vacuum the entire house, dust, and get everything in “move in” condition for the future buyers {we are still praying that the Lord would send the right buyers for our house - please join us in this prayer}. B and I left one of the guest room beds for us to sleep on {we will be giving this away to any takers as soon as we sell the house but thought it would be nice to have a place to stay in the house until then}. We showered up for the night {with water only!!}, went to sleep, and hit the road at 8am on Sunday. 

My soul sister, Julieann, showing up on Saturday night in Nashville to help!
After "load two" was packed and the entire house was clean - here we are taking a moment to enjoy sweet fellowship amongst the chocolate covered raisins and sesame our empty Nashville home!
We had precious friends ready to help us unload in Birmingham {the second load of the truck was somehow know how it all adds up there at the end!!} and by the point the second load was unloaded and up to our apartment...we were t-totally exhausted. It seemed that was when the adrenaline started to die down. B has been the best leader through this whole move - taking such great care of me each step of the way. He looked at me calmly and said, “Let’s go get a good lunch!” So we went to Chuy’s at the Summit. After lunch {just about the time I was are we even going to know where to start unpacking when we get back to the apartment} Brandon initiated a nap. He somehow found an inkling of carpet that was not covered in boxes and made us a pallet in the guest room. We slept like a rock for two hours {and about the time we were waking up and I didn’t know, again, where we would even start organizing} B initiated an ice cream run! Note the theme throughout the entire room: Get Whit ice cream!! Bahahaha!! 
After ice cream, we came back and started with where the whole move had begun on Saturday morning...the slipcovers of the sectional! We got the sectional dialed in and started organizing a few things here and there and then called it a day. We made sure to  call our “lifeline”, aka: Mama Sue, to make sure she knew she had a clear invitation to join me in Birmingham first thing Monday morning!! When she showed up, it felt like a new breeze had just blown through. From getting the shelf secured, to the bedrooms organized, to tackling the many boxes in the kitchen, to turning on lamps with the soft lighting here and there...this woman knows her stuff! Her calming presence has been just what the doctor ordered! I have realized that this is not just a “big deal” because we moved...but we have both left our Nashville jobs...B is on his fourth week in his new job {some of you have been asking what his new job is...medical sales!} and transitioned into a new city which also means new friends, new church, new grocery store {don’t even know where that is}, new chiropractor {need to take a moment soon to go for a visit there} and so forth!! The name of the game has been to take one thing at a time! 

The floor plan to our new apartment home!!
It’s been amazing how God has given us the strength every bit of this journey. I would not be telling the whole truth if I said it’s been a cake walk! There have been moments where I have felt more overwhelmed than others - but right at those moments - I get an encouraging text from a friend, a new helper friend appears at the door to help me organize my closet, my Mom fixes me lunch, B gives me a hug, or God shows me another truth in His Word: “...Take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 - When I remember that yes, it would be overwhelming to do this in my own strength - I just have to fix my gaze back on the One who has promised He’d be with me every step of the way. God led us here from the start and is with us every step of the way!! What a precious blessing to hold onto. {if you have read this entire blog post...YOU are a trooper! i know it’s a long one but i hope you feel a little more filled in than before on all that’s gone on since the last post! thank you for praying for us - we have felt your prayers! B and I have felt like more of a team through this than anything we’ve been through yet as a couple...what a praise that this move has pushed us closer to each other and the Lord!!}
Closing statement from the man of the house: "Not much more to say, as Whit has pretty well covered it. My wife has a gift of communication!! I will say this in jobs and moving are a humbling experience. They could be a potential strain on a marriage but we knew that going in and we declared that no matter what - we would be FOR each other!”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To Say The Least

There’s a lot going on in the life of the Nall’ say the least!! With wrapping up current jobs and starting new jobs...selling our house and finding a new place to live...there are not many dull moments these days! This past weekend we literally looked at fifteen different apartment complexes in Birmingham and signed a lease on Saturday afternoon right before closing time!! It was a fabulous way to start off the Memorial Day weekend! We hopped in the car and headed to Chattanooga to chill at the lake house for the rest of the weekend. It was a blessing to have some “calm” in the midst of the storm. It’s not a bad kind of storm - but it is the kind of storm where “downtime” is hard to come by. When you’re not getting fitted for suits and buying iPhones, you’re talking about what furniture in the three bedroom house to get rid of in order to fit into the new two bedroom apartment. 

It’s been amazing to see God’s fingerprints in each chapter of this transition. My jaw continues to drop at His very perfect timing!! For instance, this weekend as we looked high and low for the right apartment to call our new “home”...there were many that would be ready mid-June, end of June, and in July. Lo and behold, the unit that was our top choice is the one that is available for move in on Wednesday, June 1st!! Is God’s timing perfect or what??! To catch some of you up to speed, Brandon started his new job in Birmingham on Monday, May 16 and we are together on weekends. The first weekend we were together in Nashville, this past weekend we were in Birmingham and Chattanooga, and this weekend Brandon will be coming to Nashville for the big move. Our goal is to get everything from point A (Nashville) to point B (Birmingham) by the start of next week. For those of you that know me, I love order and for things to be in their place. I am seeing a pattern these days of learning to LET IT GO!! 

The marriage moment this weekend was when Brandon and I were able to take some time this weekend to check in with each other and see how we’re doing. When you have so many things going on, most of your time spent together is “business”. But this time together at the lake was great to just slow down and take a deep breath. Brandon pegged me by saying that we need to just take one day at a time and only focus on the task list at hand for that day. Whoooooo!! That was just what I needed to hear. It’s one of those statements that I know that I know - yet I somehow jump ahead of myself and sit here wondering how we’re going to wrap up all the dishes and make sure everything gets to Birmingham all in one piece. What I tend to forget is that God has given us an army of friends in both Nashville and Birmingham that stand ready to help us on each side of the move...praise the Lord!! What a blessing!! 

Will close this week with saying how much your prayers mean to us...especially during this transition! As we have said before, it’s certainly bittersweet to leave our dear friends that have become like family here in Nashville. Yet we can confidently follow the Lord to Birmingham and say that when the Lord leads you - we’ve got to go!! We are so excited to see what He has for us in this next season!!

Closing statement from the man of the house: "It’s game time all the time right now. Another thing that Whit and I talked about the other night is waking up each day with a clean slate for each other. God’s mercies for us are new every morning - and that’s how we should love each other as well. It was like a light bulb went off in Whit’s head when we talked this through. It’s true though - we’ve got to believe this and let the Lord be the center of TEAM NALL!”