I promised I would be back, and I am a woman of my word. Except when centipedes are involved. Then you're on your own, bub. As I write this, however, I am sitting at my new desk area (!) in our "new" house (!) in Yakima, Washington, without a centipede in sight. And so, WE MADE IT!! WE REALLY MADE IT! I am still in a state of shock that we actually did it. I am still in a state of shock that we took five small children on a plane (granted, it was only 4.5 hours) and managed to survive. Many people have asked me how the flight went. I'll tell you how it went. Other than Lucy screaming for the last 3 hours of the flight, Kate screaming during the descent, Daniel getting up to pee no less than TEN TIMES, Lucas falling asleep and peeing on his seat cushion, and David requesting snacks every 20 minutes, it went great! The way I see it: Nobody threw up. That automatically qualifies as being a good flight. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. I need to tell you about December. I need to write about Kenosha in a way I've never really written before, except that one time I entered a Real Simple writing contest about "Life Lessons" and "What's The Hardest Lesson You've Ever Had to Learn???". (sadly, I lost the essay when our old computer crashed. It was pretty darn good, too.)
And so, December.
It started out great! I went to a Christmas tea, we put our house on the market, we had showings almost immediately...things were going SWELL. And then, about halfway into the second week of December...
I got the flu on Thursday. The REAL flu.
I got mastitis on Friday.
I got laryngitis on Saturday.
I coughed almost non-stop for the rest of the month.
I struggled with complications from the flu for the rest of the month. Bronchitis, etc.
I struggled immensely to just wake up and get out of bed. I had never been more exhausted in my entire life, not even with newborn babies or 5 pregnancies. My boys would have to wake me up every day, and I would hear the girls crying for me. It was horrible. Really, really horrible. And during this entire time of illness, life went on. The house was still being showed. Preparations were still being made. People came over and brought meals and were so very good to us, and somehow, by the grace of God, we made it through. I also decided to stop being a stubborn cuss (yes, I just called myself a stubborn cuss) and go to the DOCTOR, of all things. And guess what else I had during December? Mono! Oh, yes indeedy. That would explain the immense exhaustion. Oh, my dear friends...never take your health for granted. I am far from original in my declaration, but never, EVER take your health for granted.
Talk about the outer limits of sanity!
Anyway, I started feeling better just in the nick of time, because before we knew it, the movers had arrived and were packing up our lives (I almost died three times when they moved my piano. Three times!!), and life in our sweet little house of 8 years was over. I was so very thankful to have had the chance to walk through the house slowly when they were done and practically see the past 8 years replay before my eyes. This house, this house with the beautiful woodwork that literally took my breath away when we first stepped foot into it, this house with the hardwood floors that put joy into my heart when the sun's rays fell just so over them, this house where I stirred up batch after batch of granola on those old, speckled countertops, this house where we started our precious family and brought 5 babies home to love, snuggle, and raise, this house where friends and family gathered to visit, eat, be loud, laugh, discuss books, scrapbook, and make the finest of memories, this house where I learned how to be a mom and a wife, and this house where we grew so much together and we loved and we cried and we fought and we learned and we forgave again, and again, and again. What. a. home. it has been for us. And I am in awe of God and His grace, and I will always be able to look back on my time in Kenosha as the most pivotal moment in my relationship with God. I feel as though I have come to know a completely different God than my perception of Him from my youth, and this is a good thing.
When we were house hunting 8 years ago, I told Steve over and over again that I would never live in Kenosha. (yeah, about that...be very careful and NEVER SAY NEVER!!) I had just finished my degree at a university in Kenosha, I had two incredibly intense relationships that ended very painfully and with much drama during my time at college, and God brought Steve into my life at a time when I least expected it. I was sick of Kenosha and beyond ready to leave the past behind and get the heck out of Kenosha before we put down any more roots. I wanted to start somewhere fresh! New! Where nobody would know me!! Where I wouldn't be plagued by memories everywhere I went! Forget this town, man. I've got places to go. But, quite obviously, God had other plans. We ended up buying the house in Kenosha mainly because 1) we loved it. 2) it was a much better choice for Steve's commute to work. We took the plunge.
The housing market bubble burst with an incredibly swift and wicked vengeance, and when that bubble burst, man; it blew up in our faces. Gone were the hopes that we could pack up and sell in five years and MAKE A KILLING. Ha. Ha. *painful laugh* And so, I had a choice. We always have a choice. I could either:
1) Curl up like a baby and cry for years on end, OR:
2) Try to get to know Kenosha in a way that would be new to me.
Well, I can't stand it when people mope around and act powerless to change themselves. So I embarked on Operation "Bloom Where You Are Planted". When I had finished teaching piano for the day, I would explore. Try to find little places/hidden treasures I had not known about before. I would end almost every expedition with some time spend by the lake. And I fell madly in love with the lake and tried to run by the lake as often as possible. I don't know about you, dear friends, but when I am by the water, I feel God's magnificence and an incredible closeness to Him. (I plan on retiring on a small island by Seattle. Hi Steve!) Before I knew it, I was enjoying my life in Kenosha because I chose to see the good things. God blessed me with the most incredible circle of friends, and we shared our lives together. And that, my friends, is a heck of a lot better than curling up like a baby and crying for years on end.
Why am I sharing this incredibly personal journey with you? I want to encourage whoever might be out there that it is more than possible to find your life right where you are. I want to encourage you to not lose hope, or give up. That "The only place in life worth seeing is the place of seeing God" (Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts. Read it. Be changed.) Because when you view life through His lens, well, things really aren't so bad.
And now I sit here, with everyone asleep above me, dirty dishes in the sink, and I think that I'm awfully glad that we are slowly leaving the Outer Limits of Sanity. If you know me, you've shared in the journey. Let life in Washington commence! The adventures will continue!