33 weeks ago (according to Instagram), I wrote the following:
Little did I know, nor did I realize right away, that the words, “It’s good to be home,” would be attached to this place.
…And yet, here we are, answering with love to the question, “How do you like Winston-Salem?”
I am thankful for each corner of the world that holds our people, and I’m thankful to add this city to that ever-growing list.
Those words ring even more true 33 weeks later as Nate and I prepare to move back to Pennsylvania in three months. It’s strange how you can know you’re eventually going to leave a place, but it never actually feels real until you look around your empty apartment. Crazy to think we will be doing that very thing all over again soon.
I’m being totally honest when I say I could stay in Winston forever. But I know in my heart that that is not what we have been called to do at this point in our lives. The next part of our journey is in PA, and while we have no idea what the next year will have in store, we trust that God will faithfully provide and walk into every blessing and trial with us.
Something I’ve taken to heart over the last year and would pass on to anyone is this:
Whether you’re somewhere for one week, one year or one lifetime – love people and let them love you. So what if one day you know you’ll have to say goodbye? That doesn’t matter. Having friends who go out to dinner with you to keep you company because your husband’s out of town, or feed your cat when you have to travel hours to a funeral, or pray for you because your heart is heavy about life – those things matter.
Looking back on these seemingly small acts of love, I can see how they have impacted us immensely. They have helped shape us and grow us and teach us how to enter into the lives of other people with humility and open arms.
We are meant to turn outward, away from ourselves, toward people. So fight the urge to shut your door to the people standing outside of it, waiting to know you and love you. Fight your not-so-subtle addiction to that tiny little screen and embrace awkward small talk because someday those people you just introduced yourself to could become the people you turn to in times of need. Fight that obsession with safety and comfort and find real, genuine, practical ways to reach out to your city. It will not be easy, it won’t always be fun, and you will have to fight these things every day of your life – I sure do – but it is worth it.
As Nate and I prepare to embark on this next adventure, we will leave Winston with full hearts because we have experienced the embrace of the Father through his people. We are excited for new opportunities to meet people, love people and grow in ways we never expected. It’s amazing what God does over the span of a year.
And on that note, I’d love to share some of our favorite Winston-Salem things!
The first time I walked through Old Salem last spring, I felt like I had stepped into a fairytale. I have seen this charming part of town in all seasons (see above photos – winter, spring, summer, fall), and it never gets old.
I have so many sweet memories of Old Salem, but one sticks out: In the summer, we can walk or bike to Old Salem for the Cobblestone Farmers Market. It was there that I tried my first pastry from an amazing French bakery, which leads me to our next Winston fave…
Oh, Atelier. You are irreplaceable. Nate and I are forever grateful for your beautiful, delectable pastries. The pâtissier, Pablo, is a Winston-native and a classically trained chef who spent a year in France getting his Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. His hard work certainly paid off because everything we’ve tried at this place has exploded our taste buds in the best way.
In addition to Atelier, there are plenty of great coffee shops in Winston. When we moved here, I knew I would be working from home, so I was excited about the prospect of finding cool spots to work besides our apartment. Each one of these places has allowed me to be creative and productive while sipping on a yummy beverage, and for that, I am thankful.
Small Batch & City Beverage
Allow me to introduce you to the spot that keeps our pint glass collection growing and the other that keeps the bottom shelf of our refrigerator stocked.
Small Batch is definitely our most frequented bar for two reasons: the food is crazy good and they give away a pint glass of the month. On Thursdays, if you buy two pints of beer, you can take home a fancy schmancy Small Batch pint glass that depicts a different design every month. You can see in the first picture for May 2015, there’s a llama piñata filled with hops.
City Beverage is a craft beer & fine wine distributor that just happens to be one street away from our apartment complex. They have an amazing selection, and we have certainly taken advantage of it on more than a few occasions.
Winston has some seriously great restaurants, and I’m not just saying that. There are meals I’ve had around here that I will not soon forget. Among all of the greatness, though, I have to specifically acknowledge The Porch. If you ask just about anyone in town where to eat, their first answer will likely be this funky, colorful tex-mex spot.
I could go on and on about the food, but there is one thing on the menu Nate and I can’t get enough of: tots & queso. Plus, their margaritas and sangria (made with fresh seasonal fruit!!) are so good I can’t even think of a sufficient word to describe them. It’ll be a sad day when I’m craving The Porch and it’s 400+ miles away instead of one. (Srsly. ONE MILE from our apartment. #sigh)
The Great Outdoors
Let’s be real: the weather in North Carolina rocks. We’ve hiked up mountains with incredible views, camped with friends on a windy night that turned into a beautiful day, biked around town and lakes and parks, trekked through snow, hopped over to Tennessee to spend a weekend on the lake with friends, read books on grassy lawns under the sun… the list goes on. Living here has reminded me that getting outside can lift your spirits, strengthen your courage and make great memories.
I could keep going and going. Thankfully, we still have time to enjoy all of these wonderful Winston things before we head north, and I am so thankful we have been able to experience them together and with our dear friends. Wherever you live, it takes effort to step outside of your house and make your city feel like home. But, man, there is so much out there to enjoy.
Here’s to the next three months in Winston and all those to come, wherever we might be and whatever may happen – may we always rejoice in the freedom God has given to us through His son and love others because of it.