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Now Ministering

Melody and I have been planning on having a joint blog for a long time now, dating back to when we were just dating. We had hoped that by being open about our relationship struggles, the complicated emotions surrounding dating, and our consistent time spent "solving the world's problems" might be valuable to people in our sphere of influence. It's sometimes awkward to transition a small talk conversation into deeper topics, even with close friends, and a blog is a great way to do that.

Dating took a ton of our time. We wanted to spend all our time together, but that meant neither of us was acting particularly efficiently, even when Melody and her roommates moved closer to my apartment. There was a lot of planning, and that planning ate time (plus, we didn't always make the best decisions about food and ended up at restaurants a lot, to our stomachs' delight and wallets' chagrin). Plus, the post-college funk is a real thing and hit us both hard and in different ways.

Then, when we got engaged, all that planning time doubled or tripled as we planned a big party for friends and family. My need to feel included meant I often slowed down simple decisions, and it took us far too long to figure out that we kept making decisions that we were both okay with, but neither of us were particularly excited about. In the end, while there are nearly uncountable ways we might have changed things, it was still good.

Then the great advice (Melody already quoted it) came to us from Kevin at church, saying that for the first year of marriage, we should "walk the perimeter." That was wonderful advice, and meant that for the most part, we avoided taking on anything major and new. So as much as we talked about wanting to have a blog or do a podcast, we gave ourselves permission to wait, to focus on adapting to marriage first and foremost. I can't honestly say we never had disagreements in that time, but I think things could have been a lot harder if we hadn't spent time waiting.

That said, we're now in a new season. Melody is taking a new role at work, and I'm leading the senior high at church (in addition to the research and teaching assistant roles as a statistics PhD student). We're also trying to figure out if and when a home makes sense, rather than our apartment where I've lived since 2013. We're also planning on getting a cat sometime soon. 2020 is shaping up to potentially be a huge year for us Austinotts (get it, because Austinite and Ott?).

I say all that to give a glimpse as to what we've wanted to talk about in the past (which I'm sure will come up again), and start on the road of being a bit more openly vulnerable. Obviously, a blog is not a place where you can really build community between author and reader, but I do hope we can open some doors of conversations back in non-virtual reality. I'm not expecting this to be widely read by strangers far and wide, but I am assuming that some of our friends and family might see it as lowering the activation energy needed to talk to us about the bigger things in life.

Before I wrap up my first of many posts here (that's the plan anyway), I did want to talk a bit about our youth group, which is my big change for 2020.

Melody and I have volunteered with the senior high youth group at our church (formerly led by our wedding officiant and friend, Matt) for over two years, and now I'm taking the reins. It's a bit intimidating, but overall, I'm excited to encourage and equip this group to be disciples who make disciples.

We already led a retreat at a retreat center, where our group served two large groups by serving meals and cleaning dishes. Oh man. So. Many. Dishes. If memory serves, there were 350+ people, and even serving most things family style led to over 1000 dishes for some meals. That was a grueling adventure, but has definitely led to some memories.

Anyway, think I'll leave it there for now.


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