This time last year Chad and I were living with his parents and just beginning to get back into the swing of life in Albuquerque having just moved back from Nashville, Tennessee. We were starting at square one and weren’t exactly sure what that would look like. Chad continued with his jewelry business and I returned to my previous salon and began to rebuild my clientele there. We returned to our home church and ultimately, things looked pretty much the same as they did before we moved. Little did we know what a difference one year would make!
Let me start by saying that our move home was nothing short of a miracle. I remember several conversations Chad and I had in Nashville where I’d suggest going home and he would suggest not. I cried over it a handful of times and was trying to wrap my head around living in Nashville until the day I died when Chad said he was ready to go home. On this particular day, Chad was making us breakfast and I blurted out a speech I had prepared with all the reasons why Albuquerque was where we should be. Chad listened silently then when I was done simply said, “Ok. When should we go?” I was floored and ever since that day, he has been confident in our decision and credits Jesus for changing his heart and renewing his perspective of a city he otherwise viewed as hopeless and empty.
Over the past year, our love for Albuquerque has continued to grow and so have the opportunities to serve the people in it. For us, that starts with our church. City on a Hill turned Mars Hill turned North Church has been my home for 8ish years or so. Clearly it has a colorful history as is exemplified by so many name changes, but it is home none-the-less. Although it wasn’t his home church, Chad agreed that this was the place we should return to and we hit the ground running. He started playing on the worship team and we both joined our Media and Communications team. Beyond that, we began to regularly invest and be invested in by certain people within the church — a kind of community we had been somewhat lacking in Nashville.
Our investment in the church extended and I had some involvement with the New Mexico Dream Center for awhile. The Dream Center is a faith-based, volunteer driven, non-profit organization that finds and fills the needs in our community. (You can find out more about it by clicking here.) I was able to serve as NMDC’s volunteer coordinator for about 8 months and wholeheartedly believe in what they intend to do in Albuquerque. It’s only been a few weeks since I stepped down from my position there, one reason being that my best friend Brittany and I recently became the owners of a new local business; we opened a small hair shop called Towns!
After many years of dreaming and conversation, our vision for working together and having ownership in our craft finally came to life mid-May when we got the keys to our space. We’re located in Sawmill District, Albuquerque’s “new Nob Hill” and the up-and-coming part of town. To get a little taste of what we’re doing, make sure to check out our website and instagram, and, if you live in the city, swing by! We have lofty goals and even greater support from our family and friends, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us through Towns. Right now we’re planning an official grand opening for next weekend to bring people together to catch the vision we have for ourselves as a business, as well as the community around us.
Chad’s aspirations this year have also extended beyond his norm. While he continues in and excels with Chad Barela Jewelry, he too has a growing love for Albuquerque and hopes to shed a greater light on its positive attributes, or at least help create some. He likes to tell people this: “People go to certain cities for 3 reasons- opportunity, low crime, and good education. Albuquerque has none of those things.” (Best to just put it out there, right?) Chad is a go-getter and has always had the entrepreneurial mind, and he believes that both Towns and Chad Barela Jewelry have the potential to help create more opportunity here in the future. And beyond that, his ideas never end! This can be both a frustrating and exciting quality from my perspective! But really, he’s in his element when he’s scheming new business ventures, and somehow he lacks fear when it comes to pursuing them. On the horizon for him right now is a new working space for jewelry, but paired with a semi-collaborative work space for other artists or freelancers as well. In the future the hope is to pair the work area with a retail space, event venue, and gathering place for whoever cares to be a part of it. He, along with his business partner and our best friend, Aaron, (Brittany's husband), are in the beginning stages of planning this one, but we’re making progress and while I am much more prone to doubting, I’m praying for the ability to be just as supportive of him in this endeavor as he has been of me in mine. Stay tuned!
As for home life? Well, since September of last year we have been living at my mom’s house while she was living large by the beach in Ventura, California. At first with roommates, then without, Chad and I experienced living on our own for the first time in our marriage for four whole entire months! On June 1st, my mom and her husband Greg moved home to Albuquerque and we found ourselves with roommates once again! (Gracious ones, as they could have booted us out before they got here!) We’re in no huge rush to get out, but the home search is back on!
Lately, Chad and I have been learning about and challenging each other in intentionality. In our disciplines, in our time together, in our time not together, in our health, in our work, in our friendships. We fall short often as we try to exchange old habits for new, yet we are works in progress. And we are progressing. Jesus has continued to be kind to us this year through His provision and answered prayers. For one, I have asked the Lord for a mentor of sorts for Chad for so many years. An older, Godly man, (extra points if he’s married!) to invest in Chad and disciple him. Over the past year, God has provided that beyond what I asked or could have imagined. Secondly, Chad and I have both prayed for unity and healing amongst the members of our church and it’s leaders. (Remember how I mentioned that colorful history?) A few weeks ago, all the pastors of North met together with a mediator for a week-long intensive counseling session and came out on the other side one giant step closer to healing. The congregation was invited to attend a Service of Reconciliation a few weeks after that where our pastors shared and confessed and repented and forgave in front of each other and us in a beautiful picture of redemption. I am proud to be a part of North, my messy church.
Year Two. As a little girl, I used to love the feeling of getting a brand new notebook and freshly sharpened pencils and sitting down at my desk to write. I’d flip through the blank pages and wonder what words and experiences would fill them. I’m entering into Year Three and I have that same feeling now. If this last year caught me by surprise, I wonder what next year will hold!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being a part of our years.