The past year(s) have been challenging (but oh! so grace-filled). Since we moved here to Midlothian last summer I've just felt that we were in a season of transition.
I saw this painting at a yard sale yesterday and wistfully told The Lawyer that I really, really liked it. I didn't think he would approve such a purchase (because PracticalMe wouldn't!), but I'm so glad he did! This Winslow Homer painting, "Breezing Up," just captures something for me. It makes me think of my boys and their gracious, outdoorsy dad. I love the light on the water and yet the clouds overhead. Things have felt a bit stormy in our life and yet there has always been light on our way. These boys don't seem concerned at all (no life jackets! gasp!). What confidence we put in a father. No matter the waves or the clouds or the slant of the boat or the view on the horizon. . . this crew seems relaxed in the journey. I think they are enjoying their time with their dad.
So things have felt a bit tumultuous here with a move and many changes. I want to relax in the adventure, to put this kind of trust in my Dad, to recognize that I'm riding in light and it's good. I want to blog all the gifts I see and to see gifts all around me- but I start and stop, start and stop, and haven't even finished my list to 1000. We're in transition; I feel things changing. I'm not sure where the wind is taking us, but I believe it is breezing up.
|Breezing Up by Winslow Homer|
- We are renting a house (that I hope not to live in for too long!). It's quite small for our growing family. Three boys share one room. M has a crib mattress under L's bed that we pull out for naps and night. Our dining room table and chairs share space with our "office" desk/chair and our bookshelves, couch, and living room chair. Between meals we drop the ends of the dining table so that there is room to walk around it. I have at least three boxes of kitchen supplies that I utilize regularly from the garage because our kitchen doesn't hold all of our needed items. Hear that we are thankful, however! We have space enough and really enjoy our neighborhood trails and beautiful lake. We have incredible landlords who bring gifts for our children and attentively work on household maintenance. Mr. B is a grandfatherly figure to our children. This is just not where I want to be very long. I have a desire for our own space that I can clean and organize and keep simple and live in with our family. An old farmhouse perhaps? Or an open floorplan cabin? Something with trim and hardwood and lots of light and character...
- The Lawyer's job still perplexes us. Again, we are SO grateful. Many of our law-school friends are still trying to find suitable work or are simply working anywhere to pay their bills. We had the amazing surprise of a raise! And yet we wonder what toll eight more years of this work may have on our family.
- Along with the house and the job decisions, we still contemplate moving back to IL. There is just something uncomfortable to us about being so very far from family. We made the decision for me to move back with the children to live with my Grandpa. . . and then he passed away quickly. Without that apparent "need" for us to move, we continually weigh IL and VA in the balance.
- We leave the IL/VA decision IN the balance. . . because it doesn't really matter what we want to do so much. We don't have the ability to DO anything right now (as in: make a major cross-country move). First, The Lawyer doesn't have a job there and would have to take the IL bar. Secondly, The Lawyer and I have committed to doing all we can to eliminate our debt.
- We have a Dave Ramsey debt snowball going on. Everything "extra" from our house sale has gone to reduce debt. The great news: in the past year we have gone from eight debts to four. Praise the Lord! The hard news: those were (for the most part) the smallest debts. Three were not charging us interest and two of them we weren't even making monthly payments on. Rather than spend a lot of money moving our family across several states, we are choosing to live as frugally as possible and pay off as much as we can while we are here. ("Here" loosely means in this rental house, which we have renewed lease on for one more year.) This also means that I haven't added any "extras" for the kids in the way of lessons or sports or pool passes. I'm rethinking this now, wondering if scarcity thinking leads to lack more than lack of money leads to lack.
- When we left Lynchburg I sold or gave away nearly every baby item we owned and any furniture I thought we could live without. That has been good in this small house. We have talked a lot over the past year about our family. The Lawyer feels maxxed out (rightly so! He has special responsibility as a provider. We are soundly filling this home and we don't want to add expenses as we ruthlessly pay off our debt). I have had a hard time thinking that we would never add children to our family again. We've talked about adoption and foster care, being "done" and "leaving it to the Lord." This has been a challenging area for us and a source of tears and much prayer on my part.
- We've had questions about church and where we want to worship. Our family has visited several different churches, looking for a service that would be suitable for our entire family and one in which we saw people authentically living out and talking about the Gospel. We wanted to hear God's Word and wanted to sing unto the Lord. My ideals have been countered, however, with the convenience of choosing something closer to home and a place where we knew a few people. These are a few of the things that make our church appealing. We really like where we are. But if we knew we were going to live here for years to come, we might choose differently.
- The end of one school year is upon us and I'm already eagerly looking at materials and thinking about how to spend our summer "light" school time and what we want to tackle in the fall. More transition! There are some things that didn't work for us so well this year (children finishing all their work each day, me grading each day, leaving book time until afternoon...). We are celebrating many achievements, though! There is a new reader in our house and a much-improved reader. Boys have learned Latin and math, history and science (and a few other things along the way). And I have hopes for the fall.