Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Five months ago, we became Virginians again.  Or at least I did.  According to Cori's license plate, he never left.  

It had been seven years away for me and four for Cori.  I left Virginia within months of graduating, assuming I'd spend a year away and then return to 'normal' life.  Instead, I fell in love with the life I carved for myself in New Orleans, finding sweetness in growing up and being independent.  As much as I missed Virginia (namely: the change of seasons, my family & friends, and roads without potholes), I was supremely content with my life and sometimes wondered if I'd ever return to Virginia.  I loved the culture, the friend-family I had, and didn't contemplate moving even in those painful moments where the weight of teaching in the inner city sometimes seemed too much to bear.  Then, three years since I'd bid farewell to the Commonwealth, Cori came into the picture.  We met within days of his moving to New Orleans, he asked me out four months later, and then he proposed exactly one year after our first date.  

I realized early on in my dating relationship with Cori that if we got married, we'd likely end up back in Virginia... At some point.  But as Cori's graduation and our wedding approached and we were faced with the reality of likely leaving New Orleans for a job for Cori, we decided that 'some point' had not arrived quite yet.  Instead, we were married in June, and in the blink of an eye we'd moved to Tampa, where we learned about marriage, met Mickey Mouse and his crew, and made some very sweet friendships.  

But something about this move was different.  We truly enjoyed our time in Tampa, but I couldn't help but feel exhausted by the strain of living so far from so many friends and family.  As time progressed, it became obvious: we were ready to return to Virginia.  So when Cori decided to move towards his dream of becoming a Physician's Assistant, we pretty much exclusively looked at schools in Virginia.

We prayed, we made plans, we tried to hold them loosely, and we waited.  After Cori interviewed  with JMU in January, we spent the next few weeks holding our breath for their phone call with news of an acceptance or a rejection.  When I found a manila envelope from JMU in the mailbox after work one day, my stomach froze and I could hardly breathe as I called Cori and suggested he get himself home as soon as he could.  We danced and shrieked (okay, so maybe I was the only one who shrieked- my husband tends to respond to good news just a little bit more calmly than I do) and celebrated as he opened the envelope and we realized he was accepted.  This.  Was.  Happening.

So it was all these events that lead us to The Longest Day Ever, where we spent 19 hours driving our separate cars and transporting our belongings (including our cat, who survived the long trip in a drug-induced haze) as we returned to Virginia.  And for the first time in years, it wasn't a quick weekend trip for a wedding or a week for the holidays or even the month we spent finalizing wedding details.  It was for good.

And y’all- it’s been glorious.  There will be other opportunities for me to gush about our townhouse (hello, wood beam ceilings!) and my job (which I love in a way I've never loved a job before) and the community we are slowly but surely forming within our church (aletheia for the win!) and how difficult but worthwhile Cori’s first semester was (he spends every spare moment studying but it clearly is paying off because he got STRAIGHT As!).  And maybe I will write another post about how much we enjoy Harrisonburg and I could just go on and on and on about how wonderful it has been to be so much closer to friends and family.

Don’t get me wrong… there is a part of my heart that will forever live in New Orleans and Tampa.  It’s the most random things- an Instagram picture of an old co-worker taken in her classroom at my school in Florida, a Facebook picture of our neighbors’ growing boys, a cd from the worship team of my church in New Orleans that I used to listen to in my classroom while I prepared for the school day, someone mentioning that they’re taking a trip to NOLA- and I get hit with a wave of homesickness and realize that these places I lived will always, ALWAYS be a part of me, and as hard as it has been to fall in love with a place and then leave it, I will never regret the experiences I’ve had.

But despite it all- or maybe because of it- I could not be happier to be home.  Because in all honesty, I might have officially become a Virginian again at the DMV this past August, but my heart knows the truth- I never truly left.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I was supposed to get married right after I graduated college.

At least, that was the plan.  I was pretty confident I knew how it would all go down- meet someone my freshman year of college, start dating sophomore year, get engaged senior year, and get married not long after graduation.  There was probably a white picket fence thrown in there, too.

But as my senior year approached, I realized that plan wasn't very likely.  I mean, not to put God in a box, but it had been over a year since I'd even been on a date, so meeting someone and marrying them all within the next year seemed rather unlikely.  I wrestled with this for a bit, mourned the loss of that dream, and then a new dream started to grow in my heart.  As much of a homebody as I was, I started to dream about adventure.  As I watched friends plan their post-graduation lives around serious boyfriends or fiances, I started to wonder what I could do and where I could go after graduation.  I considered countless options, plead often with God for direction, and finally got an answer.  

The call to go to New Orleans was the most direct, clear call I've ever felt.  In my life, I've wrestled over many decisions, big and small- should I go to JMU?  should I go home or stay out tonight? do I buy this shirt or save my money? - but the decision to go to New Orleans was simple.  My heart had been invested in Hurricane Katrina relief work since my December '05 trip to Mississippi, and when I received that voicemail from the human resources director of Crusade saying, "Hey Rebecca, give me a call back.  I think I know what God has for you next year," I knew something big was coming.  After receiving the details about the opportunity to intern with Crusade, coordinating relief work in New Orleans, I gave the 'spiritual' answer of, "Let me have 24 hours to pray about it," but in reality, I knew immediately that this was God's answer.  The only thing to pray about was a joyful overflowing that God had answered my prayers to use me and my unique giftings the following year.

So that was how the story of my post-college life began.  God said, "Not now," to my desire for a husband and instead granted me an adventure I'd never dreamed of.  He gave me the chance to become a capable adult, thousands of miles away from my family.  Beautiful girlfriends and late night talks.  The chance to heal from some wounds as I served a city that had some of its own healing to do.  Culture... jazz music playing on the streets, local art, amazing architecture, and the MOST incredible food in the entire world.  A one year internship turned into two, and by then I was hooked on New Orleans and decided to stick around for a while... which is a good thing, because as it turned out, the Lord did have marriage in my future- He just wanted to bring that husband to me outside of Virginia.

Almost exactly five years after moving to New Orleans, I left.  I left a changed woman- quite literally.  I had a new last name, a new confidence, and a new sense of style (thanks to some great girlfriends who refused to let me continue to buy clothes that were a size too big).  I spent two years in Tampa, and then, 7 years after leaving, returned to Virginia.

Virginia is good and wonderful and I will write soon about all that life is now that I'm back, but I am so very grateful for the journey I've been on in-between.  I'm glad that Jesus knew what I needed better than I did back when I was 18, and I'm thankful to be exactly where I am right now.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

a tribute to Tampa

It took me a long time to fall in love with Tampa.

In my defense, we had a rough start.  Leaving a city where you spent 5 life-changing years + moving somewhere where EVERYTHING (marriage, job, house, friends, church, restaurants, culture, etc) is different does not exactly = love at first sight.

But somewhere in between those first few tear-stained "I just want to go home to New Orleans!" months and that early morning almost 2 months ago where we put our final belongings in our cars and waved good-bye to our little yellow house, I started really feeling like Tampa was home.

It was so many things...

It was our neighbors. It was the chats we had standing in our yards when we just happened to be outside or coming home at the same time- sometimes just a 2 minute "hey, how are you?," and sometimes 30 minute conversations that turned into going inside, talking for hours, drinking wine, and laughing at the antics of their little boys.  It was the way they introduced us to the best local restaurants and the joys of Gasparilla.  It was watching my sweet husband build cardboard-box houses in our front yard with Jaxon and Jude, and cracking up as Jude, then 3, carried Willow all around our house, saying, "I'm strong!"

It was our little yellow house that we loved so dearly.  It was the way I would snuggle up with my new husband on our couch, thinking, this is marriage, this is my life, this is my home with my husband, the man I've been waiting my whole life for.  It was the nights spent eating red velvet cake on Cori's birthday and the meals I made as I learned to love cooking dinner for my family.  It was the starting our tradition of decorating our home for Christmas the weekend following Thanksgiving, putting up our Christmas tree and hanging lights.  It was the way our street was packed every Thursday night in our final 6 months in Tampa when we hosted a community group, filling our home with people who wanted to know about Jesus.  It was the way we would laugh at those community group dinners and then the way the girls would cry together later as we shared our hearts, challenging and praying for one another.  

It was my job, my co-workers, my preK kids.  It was the pride I felt as my 4 & 5 year olds sang "The Continents of the World," and I the laughter I couldn't help but give in to as I donned a purple wig while teaching my class about which primary colors make the different secondary colors.  It was the way I got to know my co-workers in snippets of conversation throughout the day, squeezing in deep friendships in between tending to skinned knees on the playground and art activities.  It was the bracelet my co-teacher gave me not long before we moved that said, 'Embrace the journey' and the reminder that this part of my journey will always have a piece of my heart.  

It was the weather, oh, the weather!  It was the way I loved 'Florida cold,' which meant that the lows in the winter were in the 40s, as opposed to the teens.  It was the way I could throw on leggings, boots, and a cardigan with a sundress and be set to go, even in January.  It was the way we were so close to so many beautiful Florida beaches. It was the vacations Florida made it so easy to have- weekend beach trips, snorkeling in the Keys, days in Disney World, a cruise. 

It was Sunday mornings, worshiping with our church family, feeling so surrounded and encouraged in friendship.  It was being challenged and stretched and grown while listening to our pastor preach and in debriefing with Cori afterwards.  It was running around after the adorable little children after church, because I swear, aletheia produces the absolute cutest babies I've ever seen.  It was lunches with Steph and Wes, some of our very favorite friends, and the ways we complemented each other so well as couple-friends. 

It was all that, and a million more that I won't list, mainly because my alarm goes off in 7 hours and I should probably go to bed sometime between now and then.  But, true to my blog name, I am thankful in every season (get it?!) and Cori and I are extraordinarily grateful for our time in Tampa.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

six for saturday.

Wow.  I have been completely MIA on this little blog the last few months.  I'm in the process of making a photo book for our second year of marriage (I did the same thing for our first) and was re-reading my blog posts about our cruise last summer to remind me of everything we did.  It reminded me how much I love having a little documentation of my life- because there's no way I would have remembered every detail about that trip if I hadn't blogged about it right after I got back!- and decided to get back into it.

I'm not going to try to catch up on every detail of our lives since I blogged last, but I'll hit some (random) highlights, in no particular order.

1. We got iphones!

Finally, finally, finally, Cori and I joined the rest of our generation and got rid of our flip phones.  We have loved the convenience of having internet access at all times and have spent more than one night, sitting on the couch next to each other, playing Words with Friends... with each other.

2. Our city group (Bible study) is awesome.

Months ago, at the start of our city group, we had mentioned that we would have different themes for dinner.  We meant themes like Italian, Mexican, etc... but my sweet hubby thought we meant party themes and said, "Like dinosaurs?!"  So for our last city group of the semester, we had a dinosaur theme.  Dino buddies chicken nuggets, bbq labeled land before time limbs, salsa labeled dinosaur guts, and more.  And yes, I did get dinosaur wall decals from the Dollar Tree.  And yes, they are still on our walls, a week and a half later.

Ridiculous dinner themes aside, this study has been SUCH a blessing to Cori and I.  We absolutely love the area of town we live in, but until this semester, most of our church and its ministry has been in another area.  We have love love loved watching God use aletheia to reach Seminole Heights, and it has been one of the biggest joys of our time here to open our home for this weekly gathering.

3. I. love. the. beach.


We spent Memorial Day weekend at Fort de Soto beach and then Siesta Keys, and this Thursday I went with a couple girlfriends to Clearwater.  So beautiful.  SO happy.

4. Year 2 is in the books!

On Tuesday, June 25, Cori and I celebrated two years of marriage.  Cori pursued me all day long, leaving me sweet messages on sticky notes, and after work we went to dinner.  We ate at Bern's, a famous steakhouse in Tampa, and let me just say- it was AMAZING, every bite! Year two with Cori has been even sweeter than the first, and I'm so blessed to have this amazing man as my husband!

5. We love our neighbors.
Sadly, I have no good pictures to post, but considering we've spent the last 2 Saturdays with them, it's fair to say that they are a HUGE blessing in our life here in Tampa.  Last weekend we went to a park with them- disc golf for Cori and Nick, playground and exploring the woods for me, Bird, and the boys- and today, after a failed attempt to go tubing (booo, rain!) we went to Mellow Mushroom and saw WWZ with them.  But one of the best things about having neighbors you like is that you don't even have to go anywhere- some of our best times with them have been standing in our yards or randomly popping over to their house.

6. We're coming home.

source: qadesigns.blogspot.com
And not just for the weekend.  I'm sure anyone who cares enough to read this blog already knows this, but it's definitely the biggest thing happening in our life now. After years of living away from Virginia, (4 for Cori, 7 for me) we're moving back.  Cori will be attending the Physician Assistant's program at JMU (goooo Dukes!), so as of this August, we'll be living in Harrisonburg.  We are so sad to leave (see 2, 3, and 5 above), but are so very ready to start living life closer to our families again.  Some of us (cough, cough, CORI) are crazy and are excited for the cold weather, but even I have to admit that it'll be beautiful to experience fall again- and fall in the Shenandoah Valley is absolutely stunning.  We welcome any prayers for this time of transition in our life, particularly as I continue to search for a job.

Phew.  I do believe I'm done for the night.  Time to head towards bed... here's to hoping I don't dream about zombies! ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

a few thoughts on 2012.

So, one of my sweet NOLA friends, Katie, reminded me that it's been a while since I've blogged.  It's been a chill weekend, so I decided it was time to do a little catch up.  My friend Jenny answered these questions on her blog, so even though I know it's been 2013 for several weeks now, I figured better late than never.

1. What are you most thankful for?
The typical answers are the most true- Jesus, my husband, family, and friends.

2. What were the highlights of 2012 for you?
Finally feeling like Tampa was home, celebrating a year of marriage (and going on a cruise!), a few trips to NOLA

3. What are you hoping for in 2013?
More time with family and friends, a closer relationship with the Lord, running at least one half marathon, and maybe figuring out what I want to be when I grow up :)

4. What were some of your favorites of 2012? (clothes, movies, songs, TV shows )
My recent obsessions have been my colored skinny jeans (blue, purple, and red!), and living in Florida, all of my sundresses get a ton of wear.  As far as movies go, we saw the Amazing Spiderman and the newest Batman movie this summer, both of which we really enjoyed.  Netflix has provided us with most of our television enjoyment and we devoured Parks and Rec last spring, and are currently IN LOVE with Friday Night Lights.

5. Who was God to you in 2012? 
I think the biggest thing I've learned this year is to be more thankful for all that God has given me- the big and the little.