I've had a bunch of people checking in on me and I appreciate everyone's concern and love. I really am okay, as is our family. There's been a lot of transition going on that I will try to explain so bear with me if this post gets a little long.
I guess the best place to start is to share that my (Sarah's) parents shared with us that they had been praying about my dad leaving his job with Tastykake and venturing into something a little less physically strenuous for him and a with a little more ministry opportunity available for my mom and him. It was a bit of a shock at first because my parents don't do anything too spontaneous or adventerous. They are solid and reliable and for the most part I like them that way! :-) Without going into too much detail my parents felt led by the Lord to start pursuing a business where they can rent out cabins for people to come vacation in. Their dream is to eventually generate enough income that they can offer cabins to families in ministry who can't afford a vacation or to burnt out missionaries/leaders/couples who need to be refreshed and encouraged in their "walk".
It was easier to be supportive when my parents were considering moving out west to do this. If you know anything about me at all I've always had the dream of moving out west. But after visiting out there they felt very clearly that it was not the direction they were to go and they started looking south. They've found potential in Tennessee which, in itself, places them far away from me and not in an easy-to-get-to drive with small kids. They listed their house and it sold faster than expected. They weren't supposed to be moving until the end of this month but due to some twists with their buyers they moved the end of October. It's pushed every button I lack when it comes to adapting to change. They are (hopefully) here in a rental until our baby is born. My parents have always been close by and so this is not an easy change for me. I grew up with grandparents who did not live nearby and I know how it affects relationships whether you want it to or not. Since their business and Howard's work will keep us apart for long periods of time I struggle to remain hopeful that my children will still enjoy the closeness to my parents that they relish right now. Our time with them is very bittersweet right now to say the least.
Within a month of my parents dropping their bomb my brother and sister-in-law announced that they were listing their house with the hopes of moving out west by the end of next summer. (Did I mention that I don't take change well!) My little niece is close in age to Alexa and my dreams for them of growing up close and having each other disappeared out the window with that announcement. If my brother and sister-in-law end up moving west I am well aware that due to financial constraints on all of us it will be a long time before we see them again. And that's part of the struggle. With my parents one way, my brother another and us here family reunions are not likely. I support their dreams because we have our own too but it doesn't make the leaving and separating any easier. I didn't have any aunts, uncles or cousins close by growing up and I feel like I missed out on some really great relationships within my family as a result. My heart hurts over all this losing and despite so many words spoken with the best of intentions you can't understand unless you can walk in my shoes through the years.
While all of this was going on my husband went through a period of 4 weeks of working nights. Night work always puts a stress on our family because our time becomes very limited. Because of the job Howard was doing we saw him for about an hour each evening as he was getting ready to leave. He'd come home around breakfast time in the morning and crash until he had to leave for work again. After the six days a week of nights for four weeks was over he went right into an insane schedule of 60+ hour work weeks. He's gone for six days out of the week long before any of us get up for the day and often comes home as the kids are getting into bed or after they're already down for the night. Because I am functioning as a single parent and Howard is run down from his job our relationship also suffers. We have no energy to try to connect after a long day(s) so we share briefly about our days and Howard either nods off or heads to bed right away after eating his dinner. I guess because of all the other stress going on in our lives (and pregnancy hormones!) this year the job has just become so much more unbearable. I feel so run down and we've been battling colds on and off again since the end of August! Traditionally Howard's work finally levels off after Thanksgiving but I confess that I'm not holding my breath. I try to explain to people who envy his four months of layoff in the winter that I would gladly trade that for a consistent 40 hour work week with weekends off any day! The other eight months of the year are taxing on all of us.
Oh! Did I mention that while all this was going on my cat of 12 years started getting sicker and sicker. We've been through numerous vet visits and testing and got no answers just that our cat was a chronic puker. Things continued to escalate with him to the point that we were using baby gates to confine him to our kitchen and basement where we could clean up after him easier. A couple weeks ago Howard and I both noticed a very dramatic change in his weight and I weighed him only to discover that he had lost about 4lbs. in a six month period. For a cat that is freak-out type symptoms. I made the very difficult decision to have him put to sleep at that point. We didn't feel that Smokey was happy or healthy anymore. The vet sort of confirmed my suspicions that he more than likely was suffering from some sort of bone cancer that the tests we did wouldn't have picked up. So in all this mess I lost my companion when Howard works late or I'm an emotional mess. Anyone who knew him would tell you he wasn't a typical cat. He was loving to everybody and calm and very sensitive to me. While I have some relief over not having to deal with all his health issues I miss his comforting warmth in the evenings.
I almost done, promise! Since my parents are moving away and they led our house church it has also prompted us all to have to search for new church homes. Our house church has been a place of great spiritual growth and challenge for me and I am hungry to be with a body of believers who are just as hungry as I am. Sadly, the search has been pretty frustrating so far and options are pretty slim so I completely have to depend on the Lord's direction in this area.
The most amazing thing about this whole time is that I am well aware of the fact that I have not been carrying on in my own strength. There've been moments when I felt like my head was going to explode and I had the inexplicable sense that if I was doing everything in my own strenth I would have failed long ago. My faithful "Daddy" has been carrying me and caring for me. My walk with Him has been closer than ever and my hunger for Him is so unsatiable right now. I am reading all I can to encourage myself in the Lord and to keep my focus as trained on His faithfulness as I can. There's so much more I could say and many more little life details that have added to this crazy life we live but those are the main details of what I've been dealing with and where I am right now. We are okay and I'm trusting that the Lord will continue to carry us especially when life becomes more than I think I can bear...:-)