2018 began for us with a house full of boxes.
At the end of January, Josh and I packed our lives into a trailer and moved from Alliston, Ontario to the east end of Toronto. Well, perhaps I should say east of the east end of Toronto, as we are sandwiched pretty much halfway between Peterborough and Oshawa. For months we had been wrestling with the sense that the winds were changing for our family, and eventually felt a strong call to this region to be part of C4 Church.
Thanks to a very specific wanted ad I had posted on Kijiji (I still pat myself on the back for this) we were able to find a lakefront cottage at very reasonable rent. Furnished almost entirely with thrifted things, hand-me-downs and a few family heirlooms, our little cottage is a bit of an eclectic hodge podge. But it is bright, spacious and cozy and we love it. I have to say that life by the lake is amazing. We had the best summer ever, exploring beautiful Kawartha Lakes and beyond. I have never experienced sunsets like I did this past year!
If you’ve been tracking with us since our move, you’ll know that financial pressure has been a big challenge right from the get-go. Two weeks before our move, Josh lost his job very suddenly after the guy he was working for decided to sell the business and move on to other things. A couple weeks later, another job miraculously came through with our friends at Portage Creative in Orillia. This was a fantastic opportunity for Josh and he learned a lot. Unfortunately, one of the agency’s biggest clients eventually fell into money troubles and terminated their contract in September, meaning Portage couldn’t support Josh’s salary anymore.
With living expenses being higher in this area, we hadn’t been bringing in enough income to put anything much in savings. The need to find new work was imminent. Josh began submitting job applications and we also reached out on social media, which connected him with a few freelance contracts. Over the following weeks he continued to send applications, but nothing came through.
Between September and December we had several people reach out with financial gifts (you know who you are) which helped provide a buffer while Josh has continued to freelance. We even had friends show up at our house loaded with presents for the kids, having foregone Christmas presents for their own family this year just to bless us in our need. To say we’ve been humbled would be a vast understatement. It was extremely difficult to receive. A wise friend told me, “just say thank-you”. Just receive. Wow - what a lesson in grace.
Probably the most important thing I learned in 2018 was that leaning in to others during seasons of difficulty is a really important part of becoming a whole, healthy person. Looking back, I think this has been a lesson several years in the making and this past year really hit it home. We’re designed to need community - to the point that sometimes our community actually carries us when we can’t walk ourselves. From a faith perspective, dependence and need are at the heart of Christianity. If we didn’t need Jesus, he wouldn’t have come - but we did, and he did. Praise God. There’s so much grace.
This year opened up some amazing creative opportunities with C4’s worship and songwriting teams, and I’m so grateful for every person I’ve been able to watch and learn from. I was nervous joining such a large team, but they are all absolutely incredible, supportive people (not to mention phenomenal musicians) and it’s been such a healthy environment to grow in. My overall perspective on music and songwriting has widened, and I’m so excited for everything that’s ahead.
Something else I’ve learned this year is that songwriting can’t be taken too seriously - even “sacred” songs which can often feel like an extremely serious endeavor. The thing is...writing great songs isn’t really the ultimate goal at all. It’s always about the people your creative path will bring you into contact with, whether that’s in or out of the church. I’m not saying I don’t believe music is important; I’ve just realized it’s NOT AS important as the people that the songs take you to. As a creative person (and an Enneagram 3 wing 4, outward-focussed performer AND inward-focussed romantic - a difficult combo) I’ve often taken my art way too seriously. In reality it’s the way I live my life that matters most and that will stick with people far longer than a song ever could. All I have to do is just create what’s in my heart. Let it take me where it will. What a relief!
Through December, Josh’s workload gradually climbed to the point that we have enough income to cover our living expenses moving forward. There’s no guarantee his current contracts will renew or that more work will come in, but enough doors have opened that we’ve decided to call ourselves business owners for the next 2 or 3 months and see if this might be “the thing” for our next season. I wouldn’t say we’re totally out of the woods yet because everything still feels pretty wobbly and uncertain, but the situation is a LOT more stable than it was even just a month ago. Thank you Jesus!
On this first day of 2019, I think about all the people that are attached to our little family in some way, and wow - I feel overwhelmed by gratitude. 2018 began with boxes and 2019 begins with faith.
Let it rise, God.
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.