How do you define your local context? Maybe it’s your city, your community, workplace, or neighborhood? Take a moment and think about it. And consider, what are the most pressing physical and spiritual needs in this space?

These were the questions from a recent IF Table meal. But they are also very timely — because Daniel and I bought a house! In less than two weeks, we will close on a brick home just south of TCU in a neighborhood called Bluebonnet Place. We actually live a few streets off the Bluebonnet Circle — a space I’m already day dreaming about for community potlucks and block parties.

We hope to stick around for a while, to love our neighbors well, and to invest in our community. Being so close to TCU, the neighborhood has a lot of students that move around year to year — but it has a lot of older families and and professionals. TCU faculty too. The circle we’ll live near is interesting. With a few restaurants sprinkled throughout, it has two iPhone repair stores and two cleaners — on the same circle! It also greatly separates the neighborhoods. South of the circle, you have train tracks and old wear houses. North of the circle, TCU.

 

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A few months ago, a good friend told me about IF:Table, an extension of IF:Gathering, a group of women who “exist to gather, equip & unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.” The premise is simple: 1 hours, 4 questions, 6 women (a model of Acts 2:46).

Acts 2:46 – Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…

The heart behind IF:Table so closely mirrors some of my greatest loves. It encourages women to gather around a table, eat a simple a good meal, share stories and life, discuss Jesus, and be present in each other’s life. Really present. Like, hey can I come over to get a cup of milk or watch your kiddos while you run to the grocery store? Yes, I’ll get the cookies (and wine) started.

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about what it looks like to live in community. And how to live with intension. I think it is something that so many women desperately search for. Do you know what I mean? The comfort of a good friend, the healing power of a good conversation, and often, the sobering realizations that come out of real, raw fellowship.

And what I’ve learned through IF:Table, by opening my home to a different mix of women every month (who know some by not all of those around the dinner table), is that creating a routine that forces new, deeper relationships (even when the day’s stresses make pajama/TV time so much more appealing) is amazing.

 

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About 5 seconds after Daniel proposed and I said yes, he said: “And, I promise we can get a dog.”

And it’s been a topic of conversation ever since. Because you see, I love dogs. I’m not a crazy dog lover. But yes, dog lover. Duke was my first best friend growing up — a black lab who was a fantastic soccer defender and overall goofball. And his sister, Princess (don’t ask), was one of the sweetest dogs you could ever imagine.

Before those two, before I was born, my mom and dad had three dogs — Rocky (German Shepherd), Bear (Chow Chow) and Chloe (a mutt). I remember running outside every morning with my long, tangled bed head hair to give Rocky a big fat hug. I cried so much when he died. And now we have Jake and Toby — both shelter dogs with cattle dog blood and silly dispositions.

But that’s just at my dad’s house. We’ve always had a house full of pets at my mom’s house too — a poodle, terriers, great dan/lab mix, german shepherd mix, and now, three silly Chihuahuas.

For me, dogs were always family, but Daniel had a different history.

His dogs were outdoor dogs. Dogs that ran around in the woods and came home with tails wagging for food, water, and a game of fetch. So, it was with great sacrifice and much communication, compromise, conversation, and love, that we now have our new puppy, Jack!

He’s already been an amazing conversation starter with neighbors and strangers. And he’s really forced Daniel and me to be servants to one another — thinking of the other first and communicating through the changes. Now, if Jack can do me a solid and stop barking at 2 am…

And this is how things went down.

A few weeks before the end of school, it dawned on me that summer would be the perfect time to get and train a puppy. Dan and I had been talking about getting dogs on and off for the past three years — mostly me begging and asking when we might be able to get one.

And then I started looking around Craigslist. A potential opportunity fell through, so I asked if we could go to the animal shelter, just so I could hold a puppy.

And this is who we saw…

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The past few weeks have flown by with an exciting pace! So much has happened — I became a deacon(ess) of communication, school ended, and we got a puppy — but I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just let my mind wander and spit it out online for you to read…

Daniel and I talked early on about our finances. He is a practicing lawyer here in Fort Worth and a graduate from UT Law, and of course, this comes with school loans and patience. However, we both really like to travel and explore new places, new restaurants, new people.

So, with a hobby-like passion, Dan has started learning about credit card points and benefits. In fact, he learned enough to take us on a spontaneous trip to Portland, OR over Labor Day weekend. Like literally, he called me up at school on Friday around 2:30p (during which my 13-year old girls squealed…“Oooo, It’s Daniel!”) and asked if I wanted to fly to Portland the next morning. Instead of going to see X-Men. Ummm, yes.

The trip was exciting and tiring. Beautiful and unexpected. We spent time walking around the Pearl District, checking out different specialty bars and eating our way through the city, one small plate at a time. We also drove through a flower nursery and winded our way up a dark green mountain, peppered with little yellow flowers, to spend an afternoon at the David Hill Vineyard. And we got to catch up with an old high school friend currently figuring out life in the quaint, artsy town.

The trip was a joy, and I was so happy to be whisked away. (By the way, Daniel got these tickets for $10 a piece, thanks to our credit card points. Ask him questions — he knows a lot and can hook you up!) It was also a slightly early anniversary trip for us — we celebrated our one year together this past Saturday, June 08. We’ve had a lot of changes and adjustments this year, but it’s been wonderful. A new career, a new puppy, grad school and then not. I’m so thankful for our families and our community of friends. And I’m so excited for what’s to come!

In case I’ve never said it before, thank you to everyone who’s invested in our lives — as a married couple, and as individuals. Your love means a lot, a lot to us.