Driving up to our new LA home for the first time ....

Wow. I can’t believe it!

It’s really been four years since we packed up our little Honda Fit with all of our belongings and drove across the country, leaving our friends, family and familiarly behind…?

Read about our Two Year Update here –> Life the Last Two Years
It’s been getting harder and harder to remember all that has happened since we drove up to our new West Coast Home-on-the-Corner that Monday, October 6th, 2014 (photo above). Our Tennessee life feels like a dream that once was … ages ago.

The best way I can begin to process everything is to write a synopsis of major events and milestones.

Early 2014 — Cobalt and Joel launch a visual effects/virtual reality company, Studio229 (S229). My family and grandparents fly over from North Carolina and Texas, respectively, to attend my college graduation. Did I mention that I graduate college? YAS!

Summer 2014 — Cobalt and I spend a weekend with Joel and his wife Katherine (J&K) in the mountains of Tennessee to discuss the future of S229; Cobalt and I pray and seriously consider moving to Los Angeles to grow the company and go on an adventure.

October 2014 — Cobalt and I make the move to the westcoast! We live in a house with J&K and the business (photo above) and begin to integrate into a new church family. I also start my gardening/education job at EnrichLA.

Early 2015 — ~20 of our newly-found church friends move to Plano, Texas to plant a church (boohoo :() and coincidentally, my parents and sister move to Austin, Texas at the same time; we are challenged to meet new people again.

Late 2015 – my third nephew is born to my brother’s family on the East Coast! 

2016 – With struggling to support Cobalt on my minimum wage job, this year is a blur of bitterness as we wait for some steadiness of income. J&K expect their first child by the end of the year; in the summer, all of us move into our own apartments and the guys move their business into an office. I visit my brother’s family in Virginia during spring break. I also begin serving at the international student ministry at our church. Cobalt and I visit his family in Tennessee during Christmas.

Early 2017 – This year is also a blur and very challenging financially. It was a big year of homesickness, too, because we couldn’t afford to travel together see our families. I visit my Texas family on my own during spring break but we didn’t visit Cobalt’s family at all this year. I begin to feel a weight at my job of being overworked and underpaid regardless of the raises I’d received over the years.

October-December 2017 — The guys close their company for various reasons and J&K move to Oregon expecting their second child; several of our other close friends add children to their families at the same time, changing the dynamic of our “young married without kids” (otherwise known as DINKs – duel income no kids) small group. Our church, which has been growing steadily, adds a third service. We also begin to question the next chapter of our marriage without kids and seek biblical counsel to reorient our focus on what Christian marriage is and how we can grow together in life through the various challenges that have occurred and will occur. Cobalt, now unemployed, looks for work. My niece is born to my brother’s family and I visit them all (without Cobalt again) at Thanksgiving.

January 2018 — Cobalt starts a new job as a Director of VR/AR at a local software agency; he jumps head first into long hours commitments and working most weekends. We begin serving twice a month at third service at our church. Cobalt partners with another brother to lead our young and married small group.

May 2018 — Cobalt flies to Tennessee to be a best man in a college-friend’s wedding and stays two weeks to visit family and work remotely. I stay in LA because it’s nearly the end of the school year so I can’t take off work, especially if I am to begin a new job shortly (which I have been pursuing since February).

June 2018 — After four months of prayer and serious thinking, I pause my dream career of being a garden educator and urban farmer and start a new, higher paying and more mentally, emotional and physically stable job in a similar-ish field — healthcare.

June-September, 2018 – With my new job and Cobalt’s consistently crazy hours, this summer has flown by. It’s been exhausting to support Cobalt and still be content with living in LA (it’s just not my cup of tea). But we’re trying to take each day one day at a time. Cobalt has committed to another season co-leading our YMSG. I’m beginning to reflect on my former job through printing out 4x6s of garden photos to decorate my new office desk. :)

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Summing up the last four years.

“So now that you’ve told me that you’re from Tennessee and moved here recently-ish,” says the newly befriended stranger (or perhaps a friend we haven’t seen in a while), “how do you like Los Angeles?”

Cobalt seems fairly contented so his answer is usually concise so oftentimes I try to keep my mouth shut. But for those who care to listen, I say:

“Um, well, we’re getting used to it…It’s taken me longer than Cobalt to acclimate. Certainly if you’d asked me this question a year ago I would have given you a different answer, as I personally have not enjoyed living in LA until more recently. It’s been a huge culture shock. Not because of the diversity of ethnicities; that part is super awesome because there are many different stories to listen to and many cuisines to choose from; plus, and I am learning to set aside stereotypes and stigmas.

“Rather the city-culture has been difficult to get used to. City people are more individualistic, thinking of themselves more than others. They are stuck in their own world of work, commuting and weekend-fun. ‘Hospitable’ is not a word you would use to describe city-people, including native Los Angelenos. Most are too busy to open a door for you when you’re a foot behind them. To let you cut them in traffic. To smile at you as you walk past them on a neighborhood sidewalk or in a workplace hallway. To go above and beyond to make you comfortable and feel welcomed. To have an open door policy in their home.

This has been the biggest culture shock — comparing the friendliness of a big city with Southern hospitality.”

As I contemplate this answer through writing this blog post, I realize that my expectations are like comparing apples to oranges. It just doesn’t make sense to compare city life to suburban life. Of course they are different! That’s the beauty of them. (To some people at least.)

On that note, living in Los Angeles has taught me a lot about my own theology of hospitality:

When someone cuts me off in traffic, am I gracious in return, not letting it bother me; or do I give them a very evident scowl?

When two or more people are walking toward me on a sidewalk and nearly bump into me as they pass (inadvertently pushing me into the grass), do I judge them for being inconsiderate or greet them with a smile?

When the cashier at the grocery store barely says a thing to me, am I rude in return or do I give them encouragement for their hard work?

When the person walking a foot in front of me doesn’t turn their head to notice me and push the door open a little harder so I can grab it on the way in (or when I have to ask someone to grab the door for me), do I secretly damn them or do I go about my day trying to be kind to others no matter what?

These scenarios happen just about on a daily basis and it’s been a challenge of the will to purposefully be gracious to people and not be self-righteous (“they are so rude! how dare they! I would never be so rude!”). I’ve surely had days where I am “too busy” to show kindness. But more and more I’m having days where I am “too PO-ed” to show kindness. And that is not acceptable. As a human being or a Christian.

As we are learning at church, kindness and unconditional love for others is not based on what they’ve done to us or what we expect of them. It’s based on what Jesus has done to set us free from pleasing other people and pleasing ourselves. Because Jesus was the ultimate example of self-sacrifice, we can benefit from his example by laying our lives down for others, no matter what they have done or will do to us.

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Some photos of the last year:

IMG_20180528_161350USS Iowa, Memorial Day 2018
winkler-151Winkler Family Photoshoot, Thanksgiving 2017
IMG_2104Happy 30th Birthday to Cobalt, July 2018