Wow! Is it already almost the end of the year?! I look back over 2013 and realize that the name of my blog, All Things New, has been a fitting name for how my life has been this past year. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve even written anything personal on here (you’ll see towards the end of this post that I’ve been a little busy the last 2 months) and I doubt that this will get read by many, so I’ll consider this a personal journal of events for me to remember.
January, February- Regular ol’ life at home. Mike was working as Food Service Director at camp in Kentucky. I did weekly homeschool co-op with the kids.
March– Our oldest son, Andrew, left for an 8-month deployment aboard the USS Kearsarge. This deployment was especially difficult because his first child was due to be born only 3 weeks after his departure.
April 4– Our grandson, Alonzo, was born! Kristal, my daughter-in-law, had moved to CA to be with her parents for support while Andrew was deployed. I am a Grandma! So hard for me to comprehend this fact when I have a 3-year-old of my own, but no complaints here. I think it’s awesome!
May– Mike and I spent the first week of May in California, meeting our grandson and sightseeing along the Pacific Coast. It was a trip I’ll never forget! Towards the end of the month, Mike begins another busy summer season, working 95+ hours/week.
June– Mike still working insane hours at camp. My sister, Rhonda, visits with her 3 children from Oregon. It was fun visiting with them! I wish we lived closer though. At the beginning of June, Tiffany (15) went on a 1-week mission trip to Haiti through our camp. This was her first mission experience and has confirmed her heart’s desire to do more missions work in the future.
July- Mike was going on another month of 90-100 hour workweeks. Not only was this physically and emotionally exhausting, there were a lot of other stresses involved with this position that it became clear that the Lord was turning our hearts back to TN where we could once again be the type of family the Lord would want us to be. The long work hours made it almost an impossibility to open our doors in hospitality to others which is something the Lord has convicted us of for many years.
August– Another school year began at home for me and the kids. This year the grades I am teaching are 10th, 8th, 6th, 4th and Kindergarten. This is my 14th year as homeschool mom and I can’t imagine life being lived any other way. Being able to be in relationship with my children throughout the day is worth so much to me! Unfortunately, I still felt like a single mom (or a Navy wife again) in many ways because of Mike’s schedule, rarely getting 2 days off per week.
September– There’s no easy or light way to describe September. The stresses of work were weighing heavy on my husband’s shoulders which, in turn, stressed me out because I know that my husband is the most stress-free guy on the planet. Even with the summer camp season over, he was still working 75 hours per week and oftentimes would be cooking for 200 or more campers by himself. I don’t want to go into all of the rest of the details so as not to bash, but basically, at this point, we were hoping that he would get a call back very soon from any of the number of jobs he had applied for. We were hoping to be able to move back to Tennessee to be closer to both sets of our parents. We also got word that our renters had bought a house and were moving out of our home in TN on Nov. 15. I found myself asking, “Are we meant to move back into our home?”
October– Talk about drama! October was filled with so much. Mike had a job interview in Knoxville on Oct. 8 to be the Food Service Director at a large church. At this point, he had let leadership at camp know that we were looking elsewhere. We were given a move-out date of November 1. This was slightly stressful as we did not know if Mike would be offered the position. Mike prayed that he would get this job because it “just felt right”, but he was told that a decision would not be made until the week of the 21st. Still, we had to pack and plan for a move, not knowing if we would have an income, come Nov. 1.
In the midst of all of this, we were preparing for our son’s homecoming on Nov. 7 from his 8-month deployment. I was excited for this special time when we would get to see Andrew, Kristal and Alonzo be united as a family for the first time!
One week after the interview in Knoxville, Mike was called for a different interview in Chattanooga to work at a hospital. He felt in his heart that this position was not for him because it was obvious that the job was high-stress, that people did not last in this position for long, and there was a lot of internal turmoil already taking place with the employees. Mike was offered this position within a few days of the interview, but he turned down the offer. Were we being foolish to turn down an offer of employment? It was hard knowing, but we had to step out in faith that the Lord would provide the job that Mike was meant to have and the one in Chattanooga was not it.
Oct. 28– This was only 3 days before we were scheduled to pick up our moving truck and still no word if Mike had gotten the job in Knoxville or if it was offered to the other party. We had to make plans to put our things in storage until Mike could get a job somewhere and our renters would be moved out. And I was also making hotel reservations for Nov. 5-9 when we would be in Norfolk, Virginia to welcome Andrew home. So much to think about!
Oct. 29– Mike was offered the job at the church in Knoxville with a start date of Nov. 14! The Lord was faithful in that his job at camp ended Nov. 1 and Mike was able to take his 2-week vacation pay, so we did not have to go any time without income.
Oct. 31- We go to pick up our moving truck amidst tornado warnings. While we were looking forward to being back in Tennessee, some of our kids were having a hard time with saying good-bye to some really good friends that they had made. I tried to reassure them that we’re not moving to the other side of the US, only 3.5 hours south; we can visit.
November 1- Moving day. The calm after the storm. Because our renters would not be moved out for another 2 weeks, we had to move our things into storage. We stayed with my parents until Nov. 5 and then we left for our trip to Virginia!
Nov. 7– Andrew’s ship, USS Kearsarge, is home! Lots of happy tears this day as my son is home and he gets to meet his own son for the first time. It was such an emotional experience to see the Kearsarge slowly pull into port with all hands on deck with thousands of family members cheering.
Nov. 11– We moved our things out of storage and into our own home in Loudon. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, we had done about 25 hours worth of driving- between our move from Kentucky to Tennessee, then a trip from Tennessee to Virginia and back- and the equivalent of 2 moves with 6 children. We realized upon moving into our old house that there were many repairs and updates that we were going to have to make before we were able to rent our house again. Our desire is to move to Knoxville so that Mike won’t have to be doing a 1.5 hour commute each day and so that we can be closer to church and various ministry opportunities within the city.
Nov. 17- I picked up 3 cousins to bring home over Thanksgiving week and on the way home, a deer ran in front of the van and I had no way of avoiding it. Our van was totaled, but thankfully, the 7 kids in the van and I were uninjured.
Nov. 27- A wonderful Thanksgiving celebration here at our house with 19 family members! Andrew and Kristal couldn’t make it up this time, but they will be here on Dec. 15 for Christmas!
December- I look back over all of these events this past year and can do nothing except praise the Lord for His goodness and His mercy for being with me, for loving me, for opening new doors for our family.
I am celebrating this Advent season with a new perspective about the birth of Jesus. Over the past few months, I was bitter and complained about the way things were working out. There were a lot of unknowns and inconveniences; I did not like that. I wanted things to be crystal clear, to make sense. Neither of those were the case. Then it hit me: Mary was due to give birth and had to leave her home and travel in such physical discomfort in order to be counted for a census- Talk about an inconvenience! I know, as a mother, she probably wanted to stay home and prepare a comfortable place for her newborn. The Bible gives no indication that Mary felt sorry for herself or groaned against the Lord. She was humble and content, waiting in expectancy for the birth of the Savior. This is how I want to live these next few weeks. Content. Intentionally quieting my spirit so that I can reflect on what the Lord has done for me, for all of humanity. Reflecting on His birth with awe, waiting for His coming return with expectation and excitement. Nothing else matters. He is enough!