All I want is for the bus to please go faster.Moving: Six Months of Ups and Downs|The Holy Mess

The city bus grinds to the next step in downtown Buffalo. Air whooshes as the door opens.

A young woman hops on and begins to rummage through her wallet. “I know I have some money in one of these pockets,” she mumbles.




My teenage son’s knee bounces up and down anxiously next to mine.

“Ah ha!” the woman at the front of the bus victoriously waves the $20 bill.

I can’t hear the driver’s words, but the woman’s eyes grow wide in response. “No change?”

The woman calls out to the whole bus, “Does anyone have change for a $20?”

I hear my son sigh next to me as I reach for my wallet.

Today is his first day of high school, and we are late.

We sit on a city bus in the middle of downtown Buffalo, just a few stops away from his high school.

My boy looks incredibly handsome this morning. (I’m his mother, I know. But seriously, these pictures.)Josiah first day Canicius

After much research and prayer, my husband and I decided to send him to a Jesuit all-boys high school. The uniform is shirt and tie, black dress shoes, belt — everything a young man needs to look polished and professional.

So, he has spent these last days in a crash course of learning new things. How to tie a tie. How to iron a shirt.

Lessons from dad in how to tie a tie.

Lessons from dad in how to tie a tie.

How to read a city bus schedule.

At this point, I figure I have a couple of options. We can hop out a few stops early and run the few blocks up to the high school. With his backpack, trombone, and dress shoes, this might not be the smartest plan.

I can jump out the door and run to the back of the two-ton bus and start pushing. Given the mother-adrenaline I feel coursing through my veins at this moment, I weigh this option and it doesn’t seem all bad.

Or we can wait. He will be late for his first day of high school and count this as a learning experience.

Why is the right choice so often the hardest one?


Moving: Six Months of Ups and Downs


What does life look like now that we are 6 months into a big move?

We’re 6 months into one of the biggest changes our family has experienced. I won’t say moving from Colorado to New York is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, because raising kids with special needs has to be the toughest thing we’ve ever done.

This move will zoom into a close second place though. I’m sure our life will be divided into the WWLIC (When We Lived in Colorado) and the NTWLINY (Now That We Live in New York) eras.


We are past some of the initial shock, but we aren’t anywhere close to settled.

I hate to disappoint those who ask if we are feeling all settled in, but the answer is no.

I still feel like I just got here. I don’t feel quite as lost as I did during the first meandering days. I know where Walmart and Walgreens are. I can find the church and Tae Kwon Do school.

We are slowly finding dentists, doctors, and therapists, but gosh it’s so much work.

Please remember we have a team of professionals who come alongside and support us. Reassembly of these people is a full-time job, and not without its sadness. Some of these amazing people were not just people who worked with our children. They were our friends who come into our home and our lives and worked together with us for years. Now we have to share our ugly and embarrassing with strangers — again.


We are the new kids everywhere we go.

It really stinks being the new kid sometimes. Some groups are easier to break into than others, but when everyone else already knows each other, it’s not easy to get to know people. When it’s that way most places we go, the lonely feeling settles over us.

Being a pastor’s family, we are personable. We can be friendly, but it’s exhausting after while.

I’m outgoing, but even I come home and crash at the end of the day. (My introverted family members will need a silent retreat or something similar in a few months.)

Yet there are positives. There is a certain fascination with the new kids. People come to introduce themselves to us and ask about why we moved.

We are learning a new perspective. Things don’t have to be done just one way.

My kids will forever have compassion for the new person because we have walked in these shoes.


Zack’s first time riding the school bus.

Paul in 7th grade.

Look who got glasses! Paul in 7th grade.


We are living in a small space.

We’ve been carefully weighing our options regarding school districts, and along with that where to purchase a house. We are not rushing this decision.

Our apartment

Living Room/Our bedroom

What was going to be a couple months in a small apartment has turned into 6 or 8 months or we will see how many.Our apartment

Our apartmentThere are 5 of us living in a 650 square foot apartment.

I don’t need a big house, but some breathing room would be nice. Maybe Santa will bring me a washer and a dryer. Lugging our clothes to the laundromat has taught me valuable lessons.

Let’s just say I have no plans to buy a Tiny House. Like ever.


We miss the ones left behind.

We miss our daughters (who chose to stay in Colorado to finish school) beyond belief. Oh how I miss them! I’m just now getting to where I can talk about them without crying. Okay mostly. Well sometimes.

Kiersten in CO

Kiersten’s first day of her Senior year of high school in Colorado, with her best friend Charlie.

Bekah in Sous Chef Training

Bekah is finishing her second year of culinary school in Colorado.

Every mom knows her job is to prepare her kids to leave the nest. I wasn’t planning for two of my kids to stay and for me to leave.

We talk on the phone and text often, and we have designated Sunday nights as our nights to call and catch  up on the week.

My friend Terri and I have a Friday long-distance happy hour. We each grab a drink of choice and find a quiet place to Facetime. She hides in her home office and I hide in the apartment hallway.


We are called.

Despite the challenges, I’ve never questioned our decision to move here.

We know this is where we are meant to be, and there is a tremendous sense of peace that comes from going where God has called.

There is no shortage of ministry to be done at our church. We partner together with our members to dig deep and do this work. Nothing matters more.


We are loved.

We have been embraced.

On my birthday, we went to a community festival at a local park where Mike was leading an outdoor worship service. One member bought me a bowl of chowder. (Chowder is vegetable soup, by the way. It’s a big deal around here.) Another member bought me a bag of kettle corn. Yet another took Paul off to get pizza and a coke.

Such small measures, yet not small.


God is growing us.

Josiah’s first day of high school.

When the bus finally — finally — grinds to its achingly slow stop in front of the school, I grab Josiah’s trombone case.

“You run into the school, honey, and check in with the Dean’s office. I’ll follow behind and make sure your instrument gets where it needs to go.”

We clamber off the bus and head out. The school is so quiet. Everyone is already in class.

At the front of the building, Josiah turns around. My brave son. He is trying to hold his emotions in check.

“I’m not sure which door to go in,” he says, his blue eyes wide and his voice breaking under the strain.

Sara. I think to myself. You will NOT cry right now. You can cry all you want later on the bus ride home. Be strong for your kid.

One thousand memories flash through my mind in that instant. The day he fell and needed 6 stitches in his forehead. When he had asthma as a baby. Talking in his room at night. The way his eyes crinkle when he laughs.

I want nothing more than to sit down with him on the concrete and hold him tight, but moms of teenage boys don’t do that. We walk a new line.

I take a deep breath. Okay, kid. Let’s do this, you and me.

“Come on, we will figure this out. I will go with you.”

We open the massive castle doors.

“Let’s go find the Dean.”Canicius High School

Have you moved to a new city? What adjustments did you and your family make?Moving: Six Months of Ups and Downs|The Holy Mess