Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Been 5 Years...

 Wow. Time flies. I can't believe 5 years ago today we pulled into this town. Not to visit, but to live. My grandpa & his wife we gracious enough to open their [mostly finished, kitchen furnished] basement to our family for the first 4 months of our Iowa life, as we were getting back on our feet and starting all over. And I mean all over! We left behind our family and friends, gave nearly all of our furniture away when we moved, had no job, and had to learn a whole new way of life.

If you knew me before the move, you know what a HUGE step that was for me to take. I never wanted to leave California. But, I was also the girl who never wanted kids, either. You can see just looking at my header how well that worked out ! Maybe I should really, really not want a million dollars. Hey, it's the same principal, right?? ;)
But I wouldn't trade those kids for anything. And I wouldn't trade our marriage, family and spiritual growth that we've had over the past 5 years for anything, either. Robert and I were basically stripped of everything, having to really learn what it was to cling to each other and to God.

 I had to learn that it really isn't impossible to go through a terribly hard pregnancy with 4 young kids alone, and when that changed to 5 young kids, it really wasn't impossible to take them all to the store, church, parks, etc. by myself. It also wasn't impossible to be sick and miserable while having to care for 5 young kids. At that time, Robert worked all night and slept all day, so it was very much the same as being a single mom of 5 kids. That was a very hard and trying time emotionally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Before, I would have called my mom (and while I would still call sometimes if it were even an option, I learned that I really could do it on my own, and my need wasn't for outside help, but rather God's strength to work through me to get me through the trips to the store and bouts of illness). I won't say that I would want to do that season all over again, but can say in retrospect, I'm grateful for lessons learned.

As I just typed that paragraph, I'm hit with the realization that these past 5 years, I've grown the most as a mom. I learned what truly being responsible for my kids was. They are my kids, and solely my responsibility - even when I was sicker than sick, had medical or dental appointments, I was responsible for them. I just toted them along with me, or laid on the couch with something over my head to try and feel better while staying in the same room with 5 little kids. Actually, 4 little kids and a baby! Yikes! But I think all those times also strengthened the kids, too. Making them who they are today. They aren't spoiled, they honestly love and care for each other, and play well (most of the time) together. 

Anyway, it was a long and hard lesson to learn, but now I'm able to reap the benefits of surviving. And not just surviving, but living through it all. I didn't hole up, isolating myself in the house having pity parties (though, pity parties did come around now & then). We got out to church, to the store, to parks, making friends and enjoying it. Most of the time. But in all honesty, there were those days... ;)
But now, I can leave the kids home for quick trips and appointments around town. And for not-so-local, longer periods of times, we've had a wonderful baby-sitter for the past couple years that the kids just love to pieces! But that's not to say Robert & I get out for dates much at all. We need to work on that one! Three or four dates a year doesn't quite cut it, I know. At least I'm aware of that, right? We do have movie date nights at home and go to small group together, so I think that counts some.

So if you're living through the earlier years of motherhood, I'll impart the encouragement that helped me:

"It does get easier."

It's mostly true, anyway. It definitely is easier not having toddlers, diapers, nap times, etc., but that doesn't mean the challenges and lessons are all finished. Nope. Now we're moving into real challenges. Hearts, minds, and emotions. Those challenges and lessons have always been here, but in much simpler forms. Now, they're becoming more challenging, and I find myself praying for MUCH more wisdom and help with my parenting. I'm beginning to think it might be a lot more difficult than changing diapers & chasing toddlers!

The past 5 years have brought us into a deeper faith and a closer walk with God. We've had blinders removed, and now fully know what we believe and why we believe it. Following Christ isn't a part of us, but rather all of us. I'm not talking religion, putting on a face, and showing up for church here. That's not what we're about. That's not what Jesus is about. It's a living, breathing relationship. He doesn't need our Sunday best, He died for our us at our Monday morning worst! He will meet our needs and wants us to cry out for help, but He also wants our praise and rejoicing and will rejoice with us! When we get past our human views of God and truly see Him as our loving Father and our best & most loyal friend, we see our life & circumstances in a whole new light. Even during the hard times when we think things aren't going right.

As we start out the 6th year of Iowa life, we have no clue what's in store for us. Robert just very recently started working for himself full-time, which is requiring a lot of faith on our part! I've taken my love of taking photos of my family to the next level of paid photography in the hopes that I can help out a little now, too. I'm thinking this will be an exciting chapter of our lives, and a lesson on trusting God to provide for us, not a job. Not that God wouldn't provide through a regular job, because He has for our whole marriage, but we take work for granted and honestly put the origin of our provision in the company worked for, when in reality, God is providing through the job. It will be the same principal with Robert working for himself, but I think we will be made more aware that it's not the work providing for us, but God giving us and using that work as His tool to provide for us.

So for now, we'll just be taking life one day at a time. Open, ready & [hopefully!] willing for whatever God brings our way.

To quote a line in an old Steven Curtis Chapman song:

"This is the great adventure..."

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