Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year of Change

I was just planning to write "2010 - A Year in Review." But then I realized that this year has been all about change. Mostly good changes, but changes nonetheless. And I don't typically do well with change. I like stability and predictability in most things. So this year has been hard...but that is a good thing. I think that God has been moving me out of my nice, safe comfort zones and in doing so, has forced me to be more reliant on Him, and has caused me to grow more. The growing pains may hurt, but at least I can see some of the results as I look back.

The year started with a visit from my family to meet Jacob and Samantha's birthday party while they were here. I gained some insight that weekend. Throwing a birthday party when you have a 3 week old baby who wants to eat all the time is NOT a good idea. I decided that if we do have another baby, I will work to plan the babies birth for AFTER Jacob and Samantha's birthdays. And maybe things will work out according to that plan :) In spite of the fact that I was completely overwhelmed, we had a good time both for the weekend and the party. And my mom also helped out a lot.

Later in January, my grandparents came with Kathy and Benjamin to visit me. That was an AMAZING surprise and I was so happy to have them there.

In February, we saw the arrival of our newest niece, Amelia, and then my personal change was to go back to work toward the end of the month. It was hard to work on getting some type of morning schedule for Jacob, but it did finally work out for us. The worst part was leaving Samantha again. We were able to interact so much while I was on maternity leave, and I really missed that every day. The blessing was that she had a great babysitter, though, and that Mrs. Nancy saved a spot for Jacob to come to her home as well...even turning down twins to start in January because she would have only had one spot come February when Jacob started coming. So even though Samantha and I had to say goodbye to each other every morning, that was tempered for her by being able to stay with her baby brother and Mrs. Nancy.

Many, many changes happened at work during the spring, with different policies, longtime co-workers retiring, and new co-workers coming in. Have I mentioned that I don't like change? Yes, things were a bit stressful. But it did manage to work out.

In April, Brent was offered a new job. A management position, no less. We were ecstatic. And then the reality of preparing to move hit us. We were still excited about the new job...and me being able to become a stay at home mom, but man-oh-man was there a lot to do! Packing, painting, name it, it was on our list.

Brent started his new job in early May, and would have insurance starting July 1. The insurance at his old job ended April 30. So we added the kids to my insurance policy and decided that I would stay at work long enough to make sure that we had continuous coverage. (It definitely turned out to be a blessing that we did that, because in the middle of that time, Jacob had a major problem breathing one day. I took him to the doctor and he had to have TWO breathing treatments before the doctor felt it was OK for us to leave. Then she sent us home with FIVE prescriptions, two of which were steroids. That was a bit of a scary day. And thinking about paying for all of that without insurance is almost as scary as listening to my baby boy struggle to breathe.)

Anyway, Brent lived with his parents for 6 weeks, and the kids and I had to learn to live seeing Daddy only on the weekends while we stayed in Dallas. Samantha had a VERY tough time with that change. She adores her Daddy, and she wasn't verbal enough to be able to tell me that she was overwhelmed and missing Daddy, so she started having some MAJOR temper tantrums. She would get so worked up that she was literally hysterical and there was nothing I could do, but put her on her bed and make sure that she was safe, then walk away and let her scream and flail it all out. The first time that Brent saw one of these fits, when he was home one weekend, he thought there was seriously something wrong with her. Yes, it really was THAT bad.

That six weeks of working single momhood was enough to last me the rest of my life! And I had Brent back with us each weekend. I have absolutely no idea how actual single moms do that all on their own without completely losing their minds.

Finally, though, our time apart ended and we all moved into the apartment that Charles and Ginger have on their property. I am so grateful that they have this place and are allowing us to live here until we are able to buy another house. Even when I start going stir crazy from the lack of neighbors. Or when I am ready to pull my hair out because my children, who now share a room, keep each other awake either by playing with each other or by screaming and crying rather than sleeping. After all, no matter how crowded or cramped we may be, and no matter how lonely I may get at times, it would be MUCH worse if I still had to be in Dallas, alone with the kids, working and trying to keep the house ready for showing all the time.

Brent and his mom, and a couple of our friends worked very hard on getting our house ready to sell. And we listed it at the beginning of July. We have dropped the price twice. And it is still on the market. We pray very regularly for it to sell soon so that we can move from our transition and begin to put down more roots in our new home and neighborhood.

Speaking of transition, in anticipating our move, I was very concerned about Samantha and how she would handle leaving her babysitter, leaving the only home she had ever known and leaving our church family in Dallas. Her transition was relatively easy once she was again secure in the fact that Daddy will be with us all the time. But in my concern for how she would transition, I didn't really give much thought to what it would be like for me to adjust to all the changes.

I quit my job. (I had been working full time for 16 years, and before that, I worked part time while going to school.) I became a stay at home mom. I left DFW, where I had lived for nearly 10 years. I left all of my friends. I left my church where I had a place that I belonged and made a difference. I moved to the country outside a very small town. The only people I knew in this town are Brent's family (who I, very thankfully, love dearly!) To say the least, that is a lot to adjust to. And I hadn't even considered that I would have an adjustment other than having to drive an hour to go to Walmart. To say that I was surprised when I started having a tough time would be a huge understatement. I was completely blindsided. I am still adjusting to all these changes.

Just before we moved, I found out that I would have to have surgery to remove a mass from my abdomen. It turned out to be a benign tumor and the doctor was able to remove it all, but I will have to have regular checkups to see if it re-occurs.

Then, shortly after we moved, Benjamin came to stay with us for a couple of weeks, and we were so sad when it was time to take him back to his mom. I tried to get them to agree to let him live with us always, but they said that they missed each other too much. Huh! What about how much WE miss Benjamin now?! ;)

The kids and I went back to Dallas in August, for Hannah and Ava's birthday party. We stayed with the Armstrongs for the weekend and had a great time. It was strange, however, to be a visitor in a place that was home for so long...and that still felt more like home than our new home did.

But there are so many good things about our move. Brent's job is much better than his old one, and it was a significant advancement in position. We are able to raise our children away from the craziness and illusion of affluence that exist in Dallas. I am now able to stay home with our kids. We were able to move closer to ALL of our family members. We don't have to plan our trips to visit around when we will avoid the most traffic. We have been welcomed and loved at our new church home from the very beginning. And I am learning many lessons in and about trusting God, contentment, patience, seeking and finding peace, complacency, restraint and quite a few others.

Once again, as I look back over the year, I am grateful for what we have been given. And I am resolved to be much more intentional practicing gratitude. And I (almost) look forward to the changes that will come in 2011. I definitely am happy to see what the year has in store for our little family.

Happy New Year!