I'm looking at my calendar this morning and amazed at the difference. The past two months have been packed with activity. Perhaps not such a bag thing in the middle of winter. Our lives have been consumed by basketball, it seems. It's a good thing that we enjoy the game so much. I think the younger kids may have a different opinion, though. Recently, I pulled up to a building that looked like a school (it was actually a church) and John began to cry, "No mom. No basketball." They've been troopers.
As I look ahead the days seem much clearer. I'm envisioning working in my flower beds, reading on the porch, going to the park after dinner, riding bikes with the kids with an occasional interruption from the calendar.
Though I've personally been busy balancing the lives of the nine of us, this has also been an important season of growth for me. Though I haven't been blogging along the way, I want to share these things as a matter of remembrance and reference as to what God has been teaching me.
1. Joining the ranks of so many hard working Americans, I've experienced firsthand the effects of the recession. The hospital where I work has had to take important measures to cut down on extra staffing and expenses. As a result, my hours have been cut at least by half. I'm still technically on the schedule, but getting called off an hour before work is the norm for me. This has resulted in a mini midlife crisis for me. Is God closing this chapter of my career? Should I wait it out or look elsewhere? Am I to take a different road altogether? Maybe it is time for me to stay home completely? (Believe it or not, I've found balancing work with older kids somewhat more difficult than when they were younger.) At this point I'm still asking questions and waiting for answers.
2. As a result, I'm back to working hard on our family finances making every. single. dollar. stretch. We've been here many times before, but not with these high prices and big, hungry kids. As in all things, God is faithful and we are so fortunate for all that we have. Whenever I am discouraged, the Lord meets me right where I am. It could be a new pair of shoes passed on to one of the kids, or a gift card given as a thank you, or a great sale and just the perfect coupon, or a free promotion at the kid's favorite restaurant. Those kinds of blessings are often overlooked when we are living more comfortably. The fact that I'm teaching Dave Ramsey's homeschool curriculum to the Junior High class this semester has been a timely encouragement as well.
3. Sean took me to San Antonio for my birthday in February. He had a conference and I completely enjoyed the time away where the weather was warm and I had time just to be. I got yet another glimpse into my husband's life. It was an international conference so his teacher friends from all over the world were there. It was a pleasure to be introduced. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting up with a long time friend from college, Diana. She and her husband are missionaries in Mexico. I hadn't seen them since they were married ten years ago. Don't you love it when you can just sit down and talk for hours like no time has ever passed since you last met. It was a precious time of sharing our hearts and lives. Precious.
4. While we were gone on our little trip, Hannah sustained a concussion during a basketball game. This is perhaps one of the hardest things I have experienced as a parent. I wasn't here. I couldn't have prevented it, I know that. But our girl was hurt and has suffered ever since. Her physical symptoms have lingered (nausea, sadness, dizziness, fatigue), but the mental symptoms have been the real setback. She is now undergoing testing which measures her brain's ability to comprehend and process information, remember and problem solve. Last week's test showed her to be at the low end of "below average" and at 2% in another area. It has been a very real reminder that life is fragile. With physical and mental rest this past week, we've already seen marked improvement in her behavior. She will be retested every two weeks until her scores reach acceptable levels. This unexpected trial has resulted in many conversations about the whys and the what ifs, yet all the while realizing God's protection in it all.
5. This fall I returned to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). This study has been a foundational part of my walk with Christ since our early marriage. However, once more babies joined our family and homeschooling came to the forefront, I stepped out in order to attend to these matters. This year I rejoined for the book of Isaiah and have been challenged and blessed on a whole different level. It's been a year of transition and growth for me. Without God's Word before me on a daily basis much would have been missed. What has Isaiah been teaching me? Listen. Watch. Follow. Trust.