Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Farewell from Preston

From Preston: I am grateful to Krystal for writing several blog posts over the last few years to help us stay connected with folks and to preserve good memories.  I asked her to permit me to include a few of my thoughts in this last post, and she agreed :)

I really love a good story.  The best stories involve trials, heartaches, mystery, sacrifice, triumphs, and growth.  In church this past Sunday, we discussed the importance of interpreting life events in the context of your personal journey; a trial by itself can be a disheartening experience, but a trial that is understood as a necessary step in service of a larger mission can become a valued experience.  My family and I recently watched the final Hobbit movie, which stems from the book on which this blog title was based.  While no human will face the creatures and perils that Bilbo encounters, I appreciate how he remains a character with whom we can still identify despite the tremendous scale of his adventures.  Indeed, the most powerful moments of the story, in my opinion, occur when Bilbo remains true to his simple nature even when confronting overwhelming pressures.  The greatest treasure of the Lonely Mountain (the Arkenstone) and fear of execution does not cause Bilbo to lose his affinity for his beloved Bag End nor his desire to assist the dwarves in finding their "own Bag End."  Indeed, the story beautifully captures how Bilbo's ability to keep his home close at heart guides his choices, and shapes his own journey (and in his case, the history of Middle Earth :)  

What guides your choices and shapes your journey?  Krystal and I have learned quite a bit about our own values these past few years.  With great emotion, I remember moments in which I felt overcome with gratitude for those involved in this little journey of ours: I remember how members of our church provided us with an unexpected and timely financial gift as we prepared to move up North when all Krystal and I had was an intern's stipend; I think of the excitement that folks like my Grandfather and Krystal's parents showed to hear about living in the big city of Chicago; I think of my brothers and others coming all the way up North just to visit us and see our humble abode; I remember how my professor video chatted with me weekly just to help me complete my dissertation on time; I think of how our church in Chicago quickly adopted us as valued members of the family; I think of our friend taking a ridiculously long train ride from Virginia to Chicago to help us load the moving truck; I remember the incredibly powerful love and joy that the ladies from my department expressed when Krystal and I told them of her pregnancy; and I remember shedding tears with two friends as we lifted up a final prayer together before saying farewell.  

Our little journey affirms the wisdom of the ages that life is about relationships, relationships, relationships.  While there in Chicago, the new relationships we developed enriched our lives in immeasurable ways.  With gratitude and sadness, we closed that chapter.  Now that we are back again in Tennessee, we are now writing the introduction to a chapter that we hope will be filled with storylines involving relationships with friends, family, and child(ren)!  

Goodbye Chicago

It's been over six months since our last post. Now it feels too overwhelming to put in six months worth of fun facts into one blog. So, this will be a short post of some of the more interesting things that happened.

We were fortunate and blessed to have one more summer in Chicago. As brutal as winters can be in Chicago, summers can be so refreshing and enjoyable. The city wakes up again after the snow covered slumber.

Here are a few photos of the summer...

A little winter accident to car,
had Preston starting the summer by fixing the car! 
We took an little weekend trip to Wisconsin 
Wisconsin hiking trail...full day of hiking! 

For our anniversary we saw
Sound of Music at the Opera House downtown

Preston took advantage of the "free admission" day
to visit the field museum
The controversial TRUMP sign

We took the train out to the suburbs
to a small theater

A TV show (Chicago PD) was
filming on our street! 

My sister and mother came for a visit.
We saw "Mo Town" at the Chicago Theater. 

We got to be a part of two weddings this past summer. Both couples have been good friends to us, and one couple will always attribute their meeting to Preston. Yes, Preston was a match-maker! You'll have to ask him about it to get the story.

Us at Amy and Stephen's wedding reception
Beautiful bride, Amy! 

Fernando and Karla (in the center), with match makers Preston and Casey 

Preston had an opportunity to complete a four week military training in Texas this summer. Though it was NOT enjoyable being apart for that long, it was a great experience for him. He is now all switched over to the TN National Guard and recently had his first drill in Knoxville.

When Preston returned from Texas, we took a WEEK long vacation...that hasn't happened since our honeymoon seven years ago. We drove out to the western Dakotas to visit the National Parks there. We saw Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, the Washington Monument and the Crazy Horse Memorial! 

After visiting those places, we went to North Dakota where we visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There are two separate parts to this park, a North and a South part. If you go visit, it's good to take the extra time to visit the northern, less-visted part.  It is some of the most beautiful land we've ever seen. We spent most of our time in the northern section where we not only hiked a lot but we also saw many Buffalo (Bison). We actually had a VERY close encounter with one buffalo in particular....very scary for me...very funny for Preston. Long story short - on a hike, I walked right beside the buffalo without noticing him, until he snorted at me!! I am now certain that my "fight or flight" response is working properly (flight in this case).
We rented a convertible for our vacation! 

I helped make a tin plate....like cowboys ate out of
On the filming site of "Dances with Wolves" 
At the Badlands

The original entrance to the Wind Cave...yes, the young man
who discovered the cave was able to fit through this hole. 

Hiking around the monument

Preston enjoying Buffalo
Theodore Roosevelt National Park was BEAUTIFUL
Preston - enjoying more Buffalo

Visiting Crazy Horse monument 
Hiking at Custer State Park 
At a small petrified forrest

Aside from those adventures, we really had a wonderful time being together and beginning to accept some wonderful news that we discovered during our trip.  We are going to have a baby!  Our lives are about to enter into a very new season. We have been so fortunate to have a wonderful and fun marriage these last 7ish years, we are looking forward to the future of our marriage partnership as parents.

Once we got back from vacation, time disappeared. We very quickly got into 'moving mode.'  We were blessed in having the opportunity to purchase Derek and Amy's house. We were grateful that it all worked out so well. Our friend Casey and our friend Andy were two people who helped out a lot with the packing, loading and moving process.
Andy helped with the packing and moving! 
Us with our wonderful landlord, Mike! 

After saying our goodbyes to friends and our goodbyes to the lovely city of Chicago, we are now here in Tennessee.

Pastor Chris 
Newlyweds Amy and Steven Chu 
Preston's departmental picnic...and farewell 

We actually closed on the house a few weeks after moving into the house. A perk of buying the house from family! Now it's ours, the house, the land, the mortgage...all ours! Yay!

Closing on the house with Derek and Amy

Our first meal in our new home! 
Preston is settling into his work at Frontier Health. He works primarily in Mountain City, but also travels to Johnson City at least one day a week. I am fortunate to work at home right now with the Cardon Outreach - the company I worked for in Chicago. Other than working outside the home, we are also working inside the home, trying to get settled and situated and there are always little projects (or big ones) to be done on any new house one buys!

Oh, yes, we are having a baby...that is happening and it seems to be going well.  We just learned on Christmas Eve that the baby is a girl!  We would have been excited either way.  All doctor appointments have been good reports so far. I'm currently 23 weeks and feeling good...most of the time. 

Now that we are back in Tennessee, this will be our last post for this blog. As our family grows, it is possible that we will have a blog about our family...but who knows. For now, we have been there and we are now back again. 


Preston and Krystal (and baby girl visser)

For my last birthday in Chicago we went to Ed's...a very fun and rude place! 

Gender cake reveal with family! 

Very excited to find out it's a girl!