Living with Fran

“I can’t do this anymore. I never should have said yes to this,” I confess, refusing the tears that are building behind my eyes. I can’t look at him. I know he’s crying.

“You brought her here, Heather. You opened our doors. You said she could stay,” he replies, slightly stunned. What are we supposed to do?” Eric’s words hang in the air, suspended. I allow the silence to stay, searching for something sufficient.

“It’s a crisis She can’t live alone. But we don’t have the room, Eric. We kicked our son out of his space for her. Rachel doesn’t even have a room at all anymore because of this. Our child! We also don’t have time. Am I supposed to choose Alzheimer’s therapy and blood sugar monitoring over field trips and parent teacher conferences?” I’m on a roll. Or the money. Your mother is thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. In no way will our children’s college funds be paying off her horse betting. I brought her here, yes. I reacted, yes. She’s lived alone for too long. She is sick. So I went,” I explain. 

“And I’m thankful for that. Thank you. Do you think I haven’t thought of these things, though? She’s my mother, Heather. It’s been two weeks and you’re spent. I should have known you can’t do this.

What?! YOU couldn’t do this! Anyone would be done! Why don’t you quit your job and I’ll work full-time? You try taking care of her. She needs round-the-clock care and I’m a full time student with four kids. I need sleep. Showers. Sex.

I’m not denying you those things. You’re playing the martyr, as usual. Let’s try this again tomorrow.” He begins to climb into bed, but I’m reluctant. He doesn’t hear me. He doesn’t want to. It’s late. We’re both exhausted. Please, let’s just get some rest,” Eric implores, patting the empty place beside him in our bed. I shut down my heart and give in to my body, falling into my pillow. Just as the tension begins to lift and nonsensical images take form-

Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.

Her slippers.

Her slippers scuff along the tile in the kitchen. I nudge Eric, who responds with a snore, naturally. Rising from my bed, I tiptoe towards the hall. The rustling in the pantry masks the creak of my bedroom door. Peeking into the kitchen, I almost can’t believe my eyes. “Fran!” I shout, entering the room swiftly. “Fran, you can’t have that,” I begin, reaching for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch box she is manically digging in to. She snatches it backward, scowling at my attempt.

“I am hungry,” her thick Polynesian accent condescends,assuming it to be a satisfactory explanation. She’s shoving fistfuls of the sugary cereal into her mouth while batting my hands away. Exhaustion meets desperation and the tears begin streaming down my face. I double down, grabbing for the box with one hand and pulling the sweet squares from her hand with my other.

“You can’t have this, mom. Your blood sugar is too high. I’m so sorry. Let me get you something else-“

“I don’t want anything else, lady. I am hungry. I am grown woman and I. am. hungry. I’m going to starve.”

“No, Fran. I would never let that happen. I will make you something to eat. But you can’t have this.”

“Then I’m going home.”

“Oh yeah? How are you going to get there?” I quip, wiping away my tears.

“I’ll drive my car.”

“You don’t have a driver’s license anymore, Fran,” I explain.

“Then I’ll walk.”

“We are over 600 miles away from Virginia,” I reply, keeping my tone even. “Why don’t you have a seat and-“

“Then I will take bus,” she shouts. “Get out of my way!” Fran tries pushing past me and loses her balance. I drop the box, catching her arm. Cereal dances across the tile as she narrowly misses colliding with the countertops. Her eyes reveal she knows she’s gone too far. Avoiding shame, I gently help her to a chair at the breakfast table.

“Fran, I know this is all so confusing,” I begin.

“No, it’s not,” she interjects. “You ruined my family. You took my husband.” 

Breathe.

“Fran,” I begin again. “My name is Heather. I’m your daughter-in-law. I’m married to your son, Eric. You live with us now, in Florida.” Her brow furrows at this information. I reach into the pantry for the broom. “It’s the third time in 24 hours we’ve had this conversation. I’m so sorry. I’m sure you’re angry and confused.”

“I am hungry,” she offers.

“Yes. Right. Let me get you some cheese.”

“I want cereal,” she says, nodding to the pile I’ve swept up.

“Fran, you have diabetes. I know sometimes you forget, and that’s one of the reasons you’re here. Eric and I are going to get you healthy. You chose to come here, to come with me, about a month ago. I came and picked you up two weeks ago.We drove down together.

“Oh.” Her eyes cloud from the weight of it all. “I think I’ll go back to bed, then. She rises, steadying herself.

“Why don’t you eat something first? I know you’re hungry.” Her expression changes.

“I am hungry,” she smiles. “How did you know?”

“I just had a feeling.”

“You’re a nice girl. You should meet my son. I don’t like his wife very much,” she offers.

“I’d like that. Maybe tomorrow?” I hand her a cheese stick and she eyes my wedding band.

“Oh, but you’re married, too. That won’t work.”

“It’s okay. His mother doesn’t like me very much,” I explain, making my way back to my bedroom.

“I’m still hungry, lady,” Fran calls down the hall. Climbing back into bed, I poke my husband.

“Mom’s hungry,” I whisper. “It’s your turn.”

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Blessed Sanctification

I said I’d concoct some impressive prose for my “big return” to blogging. But ya know, sometimes you just gotta jump in. I’m sure that, along the way, I’ll slide in where I’ve been for several years, but I want to speak to what God is doing in my life right now. I don’t wanna wait. So. I’m back.

It’s noon on a Tuesday and we’ve already had two home visits today. These are hit or miss. Today, they were both misses. We can’t win them all, but we can find victory in each day. I’m learning to celebrate the good and tell the bad it can’t win.

Today there was denial and pride. Today I was shamed for being helpful, scorned for being honest, and scoffed at for asking questions. But tomorrow, I might be thanked. I might be hugged. I might be understood.

Or I might not.

In those hard moments, my desire to control wells up and threatens to escape. But I’m learning to downshift. Instead of giving way to being right, I’m digging in to serving. And it comes with stretch marks.

Today, when I was snubbed and disregarded, I wanted to run. I wanted to run out my front door, barefoot, down the street to the stop sign, and then dramatically halt as I decided whether to go left or right (Hey, you never know…my life could be like the Truman Show.). But because I might be committed for such an action, I had to run in my mind. But where?

Where do I run first?

Should I run to my husband? Sigh. No…not to Eric. This is a good place to run, but not the first place. By running to Eric, I could end up pelting him with anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, guilt, embarrassment, entitlement, and gosh knows what else. Further, I don’t want to heap on any responsibility, burden, shame, or anger. He’s adjusting to a new job while ever-so-carefully balancing the two most important women in his wife living under the same roof…which didn’t end so well last time. I will run to him, to be sure…but once he’s home, once he can sit, once he can hear in my voice that it really is all going to be okay.

I could run across the street. My mom is across the street (yes, literally), and she walked this road from 2016-2018. She may well have some great advice, but she’s also sure to have some not-so-great advice, not because she gives poor counsel, but because her mom is waaaaay different from my mother-in-law, it would be unfair to think she could have all the answers for me… and I don’t want to potentially put a divider between myself and Eric that way.

Then there’s Voxer. My best friends are just a click away. So do I run to Gail? No. Not to Gail. She has great counsel, she knows the backstory, she knows me better than most, and she walks closely with Jesus but it’s an outside party who really doesn’t know Eric that well and doesn’t know his mom at all. I’ll probably take all this to her once I’ve processed it, but not before. She’s been instrumental in me becoming less reactive, so it’d be pretty counter-productive.

What about Darci or Miranda? Both have their own experiences with me, Eric, and Fran and helpful/insightful perspectives, though they’re very different from eachother. But neither of them are me, and neither of them fully know who I want to be, where I want to be, and how I want to live. They have been the most patient, understanding, kind, and helpful of companions through this transition, but I fear I’d become slightly gossipy if I don’t set my heart right first.

So. Where do I run first?

I run to Jesus first. Every. Time.

There, I find the answers to not only who I am, but why I am here. I find that who I am to the Lord is unchanging. I cannot earn my value. I cannot lose his approval. I am His. What’s more, he has appointed this. All of this is for his greatest glory. He’s present in this midst; he’s here as I type. He delights in my recognition of his goodness for me. I am being sanctified and blessed. Blessed sanctification: though there is suffering, we are each being tremendously blessed through this process.

The Lord has planted desire, deep in my heart, over the last two years, for a radically different life than the one I was living, the one I always dreamed I would live. I want mountains in my backyard. I want homeschooled children. I want a husband who works from home. I want to write books. I want, with my every breath, to bring glory and honor and praise to the high King of Glory, working quietly with my hands, delighting in his good works. He put that desire in me because I allowed myself to delight in him first. He put that desire in me because it’s what he has for me; I just really needed some redirection to get there.

Blessed sanctification is not ignoring the pain. It’s not pushing through pain. It’s not trying to make the pain go away. Blessed sanctification is knowing there can be joy through the pain because the pain is temporary but blessings from the Lord are eternal. He has set my feet upon this path and I won’t be shaken.

What does it look like to run to Jesus first? When I’m in the heat of the moment and my face is flushed with shame and despair, I speak Truth to myself. It might sound strange, but I can hear the Lord singing these verses over me. I start off a verse in my mind, in my voice, and it evolves into this stunning bari-tenor warm, with unpredictable cadence and clarity. When I breathe long enough to call on these truths, he sings over me, and I feel peace. I feel a peace deep down that envelopes me in certainty:

Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:3-4

Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1st Thess. 4:11-12

We rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shames, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil. 4:11-13

 

What are the verses you call on in times of suffering?

The One Who Showed Him Mercy

Jesus spoke in parables often, because people were (cough, are) just too darn hard-headed (or empty-headed) to fathom the depth of truth and power in his teachings. Here is the full text (English Standard Version) of the Good Samaritan, from Luke 10 (I’ve added parentheses to help with context/understanding of the times):

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law (Ten Commandments)? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself (because that’s what we ALL do, we HAVE to justify ourselves), said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho (about 18 miles northeast), and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side (America, this is currently us). So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side (again, us). But a Samaritan (the antithesis of the Jewish man making the journey), as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him and whatever more you spend. I will repay you when I come back.(ie: no hospital bill)’ Which of these, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

The relations between Samaritans and Jews in this period were not much different from today’s Western world and the Muslim culture….

  1. There was constant tension, fear, and suspicion of one another.
  2. Constant political conflict over territory, beliefs, and power.
  3. Ethnic AND Religious differences.

I know full well (as I’ve been told several times by well-intentioned fellow Believers) that this is a parable, and not a literal situation. However, the consequences couldn’t be more real right now…these “neighbors” are suffering…strike that…our Neighbors are being violently killed, and we, as a country, have been walking by, turning up our nose. And as of yesterday, we are looking into the eyes of a child, covered in her family’s blood, desperately seeking shelter, and we are saying, “No,”.

I believe in the words of the prophets, “Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. Do not ill-treat or oppress foreigners…” (Jeremiah 22:3) and “Learn to do right. See that justice is done – help those who are oppressed…” (Isaiah 1:17)

I trust in all of these words from the Man himself, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink’ And the King will answer them, “Truly I saw you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

I fully maintain that the United States should uphold our invitation, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

Nowhere have I found a place where Jesus commanded that we protect ourselves first through throwing stones of judgement at others, ensuring the certain deaths of thousands. In fact, I find a Man who touched the woman that no one would go near, I see a Man who, through the power of his words and the strength of his compassion, saved those that his culture would rather kill. This Man desired us to have a child-like faith, a faith of humility and grace. For love of people and loss of possessions that we may humble ourselves and wash the feet of those who others despise.

Please check out worldrelief.org and preemptivelove.org to see how you can stand with the powerless. #wewillalwayswelcomerefugees

Nunnie

I’ve been overwhelmed by moving and unpacking and everything that comes along with it. I am grateful to be almost completely settled in. And rather than boring you with the details of appliance drama and cranky kids, I want to pick up my tribute series!

The week I’m going to tell y’all about my Nunnie. Nunnie is my great grandmother. She will be 94 in September (though she doesn’t look a day over 70!), and loves so fiercely. This brave woman is a hero, you guys. She lives in a small little town called Athol, in Massachusetts. She, for the longest time, made rootbeer floats and sold magazines at the local drug store. She gives out free cones for the kids with good grades. I mean, it’s straight out of Pleasantville. This is the person who taught me to say my prayers. She taught me to love even when it’s hard. She taught me that God is the most important being, and my life should be one of service to him. She spoiled me rotten. She spanked me once…and then cried afterwards and said she would never do that again.

Mary Blanchard lost her husband after 67 years of marriage. 67, y’all. My Bapa (Leo Blanchard) was the gruffest of teddy bears. He would be so harsh and yet still so soft. She honored him and loved him. She cared for him in a way that so many women do not care for their men. She is a beautiful example of a Godly wife.

Nunnie keeps nothing for herself. Anything she has, even the smallest amount, she shares with those around her. he served as a Eucharistic minister for over 30 years t the same church in Athol. This sweet woman, who barely has a gray hair on her head, would drive to the hospital at 90 years of age and give communion to the sick that were staying there. She did this every week, with joy and compassion.

She told me today that she reads my “diary” (this blog). I am tickled to know that she keeps up with me this way. She told me that I need to relinquish my past and press forward with my family. She’s the good one, y’all.

So Nunnie, I know you’re reading this; and I want you to know that I am so very thankful for you. Thank you for loving and caring for me since I was an itty bitty baby. Thank you for taking me to the hospital when I was 4 and smashed my knee into a tree in my sledding accident. Thank you for letting Bapa teach me to fish, even though I hated how they felt. Thank you for teaching me to sing. Thank you for connecting me with so much of the Krol and Blanchard families. I only know my roots because of you. Thank you for teaching me how to shuffle cards and play Rummy. Thank you for sending me golumpke packed in dry ice when I was a starving college kid. Thank you for sending my children books and encouraging them to read. Thank you for supporting me in my dreams and endeavors. Thank you for showing me Jesus.

I love you with all my heart. I don’t tell you enough that so much of me is made of what I learned from you (couldn’t resist, musical theatre peeps. That was too easy).

Mary Blanchard, matriarch extraordinaire, moja droga ja cie kocham. Kocham ciebie calym sercem. ❤

Fishing!

Fishing!

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Gonna Stop the Show Now…Because I Wanna Leave on Top

7 days from now I’ll be driving up 95, soaking up podcasts and an unhealthy amount of P!nk music, sweet babies in the backseat. I would have bid farewell to Jacksonville, a city I had longed to return to for the better part of a decade. Hair pulled back, leggings on lock, no shame in my minivan game, I’ll be nestling in with my best friend and her family…a total reverse of three years ago. Stranger things have happened.

This year has been one of the hardest, sweetest, saddest, growing-est, loneliest years of my life. It’s been so full and so empty. So bright and so very dark. With 4 kiddos under 10, I rarely take the time to truly process things. There’s a few things that still haven’t been unpacked, but a couple of weeks ago I took the time to sit and meditate on what this last year has been. I wanted to do a top 10 list, because I’m always trying to exercise control by putting things in “boxes”. Not this time though. It’s just going to be what it is. Let’s roll.

I have been living a life that reflects the double mindedness of “doing good” so that God will show me His favor.  I constantly battle the idea that if I just try harder as a Christian, he will reward me with good things. I’ve failed to see that God ALWAYS shows me his favor, it’s just that it doesn’t always look like what I want it to look like. I know this is the human condition. There is such freedom in knowing that when I don’t do “good”, which is most of the time, his face will still shine upon me. He doesn’t love me conditionally. I know now that it is because so many of my experiences in love (familial and romantic) have been conditional, I expect nothing but conditional love from God. It’s really, really hard to accept unconditional love, y’all.

* There are so many colors I want to see that I simply cannot see. It wasn’t until I knew they existed that I even desired to see them. The human eye contains 3 photoreceptors (red, yellow, blue) allowing us to see a myriad of colors. Y’all. The MANTIS SHRIMP, a sea roach, for all intents and purposes, has 16! What the heck? Trippy little buggers. I want to see what this little dude sees…and I didn’t even know it until two weeks ago. This gave me incredible perspective. The verse, “His ways are higher than ours” has been difficult for me…I’ve longed for that KNOWLEDGE. You guys….He gave shrimp 16 photoreceptors for a reason. I’ve only got 3. And that’s ok. So similarly, I need to be ok with my entire lot. This year has really allowed me to LET GO of comparison. This doesn’t mean I don’t covet now and again. However, I feel much more free now to be content with my 3 photoreceptors, among other things.

* Unsolicited advice is detrimental to relationships. I have had long been the queen of “good” advice. For YEARS I sang along with Alice: “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.” Ugh. YOU GUYS. I am sorry. This year I have seen a massive difference between listening to hear and listening to advise. OH SO DIFFERENT. To any of you (likely all of you) whom I have not truly listened to and merely given you the best course of action, I am sorry. I have several very good listeners in my life, who hear me, ask questions, and allow me to arrive where I need to be. It may be slightly guided, but it’s not a 3 point sermon on how I can be better or have a better life. No, that’s EXACTLY what I’ve been doing since I can remember, though! So I’ve started to think before I speak more often…yet more importantly, God has opened my ears in a new way. It is not my job to fix anybody! (<—-Revelatory, y’all. I know not everyone struggles with this, but I sure did.) I want to stop trying to fix and focus on LOVE.

* Bamboo rolls from Fuji Sushi have changed me for the better. There’s really nothing else to say there. Except – if you live in Jacksonville and haven’t had a bamboo roll from Fuji Sushi on Roosevelt, you need to change that. Ack! There I go, spouting advice. Sigh.

* This is my temporary home. I can’t even type that without singing the Carrie Underwood song that makes me ugly cry before the first freaking chorus. But it’s TRUE. Jacksonville has been far from what I wanted. But Richmond isn’t perfect, either. Both places are wonderful. Neither place is my home. “If I find within myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” -C. S. Lewis

So here come the Vollmans, Virginia. Can’t wait for this next chapter.

I leave you with this adorable picture of Jonah wearing glasses that go with one of Jordan’s MLPs. Because it’s hilarious.

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Gail

GASP!

It’s a post that isn’t titled after song lyrics from a musical. How DARE she?

Heh. I like to cause a raucous.

And so does my friend Gail.

You see, my friend Silvia has a friend Gigi who started writing these cool tributes to people she loved. Basically a (spoiler: morbid phrase!) living obituary. Why do we wait until people have left this earth to celebrate their achievements? Why do we wait until they are gone to publicly appreciate their awesomeness as humans? Well, Gigi decided, “no more. I shall celebrate the living.”. And Silvia thought, “yeah. That’s good. I’m in.” (And then she wrote a wonderful blog about our briend (boss and friend, get it? Our foss? Fross?) Joy…which totally motivated ME to do the same. There are so many people who love little old me so well…and I very rarely say, “thank you” or go out of my way to let them know how much I care. Silvia has committed to one a week for a year. Game on, I’m so in!

I started making a list of who I wanted to publicly appreciate…I got about 20 names in, looked over my list, and realized I already had the first person’s name staring at me. Here’s a quick overview as to why….

Think of someone you know who has done the following: 1. given birth 4 times in the last decade, give or take. 2. Decided to homeschool those sweet kiddos, despite the many challenges that presented themselves. 3. Had baby #4 less than a year ago. 4. Packed up her whole house and moved not once but TWICE in the last 12 months. 5. Did it all with an amazing attitude.

Aha! You thought I was talking about myself! …Until you got to number 5. Because I’ve not had the greatest attitude. But ladies and gents, Mrs. Gail Emerson has accomplished that list and MORE over the last year.We basically lived the same life. And this sweet woman would check in on me periodically over the months, to see how I was adjusting, how she could pray for me, where my heart was at, how my kids were….WHAT?! I was always so baffled and blessed when an email crossed over from her.

Gail loves people with a capital “S” Spirit-led kind of love, y’all.

Let me tell you a story about how Gail entered my life.

It was Mother’s Day 2011. Many of you have read my blog post about my abortion in 2007 ( https://disorderlygrace.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/my-only-unborn-child/ ) . In 2011, Mother’s Day was still one of the hardest days of the year for me. I went to church that morning, and a tender-voiced, curly-haired woman approached the microphone and rained down peace for my soul. I didn’t read it as peace then. It sat uncomfortably for a long time because of my own sin. The day (in 2013! Two years later!) that I spoke to her about this memory, she continued to pour sweet peace and grace over me. The force is strong with this one, y’all. She has an air of intuition…it’s like she always is there right when you need a hug, a laugh, a cry…or all three at once.

Gail is an incredible mommy. It’s evident in how her kids love HER. They are all so different (and amazing, I might add!), and she loves them all so well. She shepherds their hearts in a patient, calm, compassionate way. I’ve never heard her voice raise higher than speaking tone (versus my semi-permanent just about speaking voice!). Grace. SO MUCH GRACE. She is a fierce and somehow also delicate embodiment of God’s grace.

Gail loves. Gail speaks truth. Gail sometimes quivers when the Father urges, but you guys…she OBEYS.

This is a woman who loves her man, who loves her sweet kiddos, and who has not lost herself in it. She craves LIFE. She seeks Jesus. She is someone I am blessed beyond words to call, “friend.” Gail, I am so thankful that I get to know you forever. ❤

Opened my eyes, taught me how to see; notice every tree…

“I chose, and my world was shaken-
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on” – The GREAT Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

A year ago, my family was offered an opportunity to pack up our lives and start from scratch in a new city, a new state, a new job, with seemingly endless opportunity for growth and success and financial “freedom”.

We prayed long and hard about the offer…most would have jumped on it like a hot potato, but for us, there were so many variables…namely my two step children who would remain in Virginia and the fact that I had spent the last 7 years trying to let go of moving back to my old stomping grounds. I was finally finding “contentment” (I thought) in where I was.

We weighed the variables and decided to move. After all, with fat paychecks we could buy plane tickets often to see Logan and Hannah. With fat paychecks we imagined we could do a lot of things. (Lesson #1: Fat paychecks aren’t guaranteed. Lesson #2: Hoping in a fat paycheck will never ever satisfy me.)

You guys, I spent months talking myself into making Jacksonville work. Ya know the old “square peg, round hole” thing? Yup. Living it! I spent September of 2014-February of 2015 trying to make it work. Trying to be happy. Trying to socialize my kids, find a church, encourage my husband while he worked under less than favorable circumstances. Nothing was fitting! We jumped churches, tried to manage rekindled friendships that, though local, still had many miles between them because Jacksonville is massive. I tried multiple means of earning additional income [childcare, selling stuff on craigslist, and then launching my awesome Etsy shop ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/cuppacharisma )] to some success, but not enough to pay our bills. Our “American Dream” had quickly turned into a nightmare. (Lesson #3: If you ask God to teach you contentment, be prepared to have your feathers rustled. Asking for contentment will result in opportunity to be content in less than favorable circumstances.)

But we kept on keeping on. We didn’t want to let go of this opportunity…we tried so hard to wait it out. But in March we felt released. In March we were able to say with confidence that even if everything came to fruition for this awesome company Eric was working for, that we didn’t have to be a part of it to wish it well and be honestly happy to see it succeed. We missed Logan and Hannah. We missed co-op. We missed Kingsway. And we literally could not continue to pay our bills in Jacksonville unless Eric got a new job.

We started the search. Jobs here, jobs in Richmond, jobs in Fredericksburg, heck just JOBS at one point, regardless of location. Nothing was panning out. It seemed like every. single. door. was being shut. (Spoiler: they were!)

Fast forward to today: there is a job. A really, really, ridiculously wonderful job. In Richmond.
Eric leaves in two weeks. I may leave with him; I may stay behind for a few weeks while we close on our house, depending on how long all that really takes.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the last 10 months. I was a woman deeply frustrated with my circumstances. I had no consistency in relationships, my kids had no one but eachother, my husband was buried in 50+ hour work weeks with at least an hour of driving daily on top of it. We couldn’t nestle into a church, despite the fact that we attended two really amazing churches (Christ Church in Town and the Well)…nothing was feeling right. Nothing was right. God did an incredible work in my marriage. God did an incredible work in my relationship with my kids. God did an incredible work in my heart, in where I find m identity, in who holds my future.

God in his good grace allowed us the ability to be able to pack it all in and go back to Richmond. Had we had deep connections through homeschool groups, work, or church, it would have been a lot more difficult to accept a job BACK in RVA. I sat at church three weeks ago with a heavy heart. The teaching is so solid at the church we’re at here, y’all. The fellowship is real. People are full of Jesus and it was hard to sit there, knowing we were leaving. I can’t imagine what that would feel like if we had really nestled into our lifestyle here.

Have you ever heard the phrase in regard to parenting, “Hold your child with an open hand”? I feel like that is what God has done with us over this last year. He has allowed us to explore, to connect, to live lives in pursuit of Him…all the while keeping us in his hand that we might be easily drawn in according to his plan. I just cannot stress enough how cared for Eric and I feel over this last year. God has been incredibly specific in his care and provision for us. We are returning to Richmond overjoyed at what lies ahead, not just for us, but for what we leave behind. We leave behind a church that is growing and healthy and loving Jesus while loving on those around them. We leave behind my extended family; siblings who are both spreading wings and starting college, finishing college, and/or applying for Master’s programs across the country. We leave behind a company that makes some darn good chicken biscuits, is closed on Sundays, and is going to be the next big thing. Eric and I joked yesterday about how we will be at the front of the line if Maple Street ever comes to Richmond….donned in MSBC shirts, ready to get our 5 and dime on! We hope only the best for everything we leave behind and look forward to some real beautiful stuff back in Virginia – a step daughter about to launch into COLLEGE, a best friend who is having her first child, another best friend who is the happiest I’ve ever seen her, a job for Eric that’s been created for him and that he is so humbled to serve in, CHARACTERWORKS!!!!!!!, and so much more.

So Jacksonville, let’s connect these last couple weeks, ok? Let’s eat some food, spend lots of time at the beach, and drink absurd amounts of coffee. Let’s soak one another up – I’ll miss you.

For those of you who pray, please pray for our home in VA – we don’t have one yet, ha! We are in the process of trying to buy, and that’s hard to do from far away. I would like to spend as little time away from Eric as possible; right now it looks like it would be at least a week, maybe 3…unless we get some good news TODAY and can put an offer down on the house we love. So we covet your prayers, friends.

Also, if you’re in Richmond already, I’d like to let you know about an event that’s happening NEXT Friday, May 22…I HATE that I’m not going to be there in time to attend. Kingsway Community Church is hosting a fashion show and awareness event showcasing products by http://www.sutisana.com and http://www.elegantees.com . Both provide dignified employment for women survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution in Bolivia, Nepal and New York City. In addition, The Gray Haven Project, a Richmond based non-profit, will be speaking on how this issue is being addressed locally. This is going to be an incredible opportunity to make a difference, y’all…not to mention just plain FUN! Please, go for me. It’s a FREE event! Here’s the link for their event: https://www.facebook.com/events/632727780191117/

So, that’s us. Almost a year to the date after visiting Florida and considering the opportunity to move here, we are packing our bags and heading back north.

Move along, move along, like we know we should.