A year ago today, we were freshly back in the US, full of hope and optimism, and the year that proceeded ended up being one of the more challenging of my life. Isn’t it funny that way? I distinctly remember thinking last January, “This is going shockingly well so far. We are working out and finding new cafes and meeting new people. This is going to be great!” Perhaps somewhere deep down, a part of me was yelling at myself to not think that…nothing is ever this easy! Nevertheless, I was hopeful and optimistic.
Then February hit, and a number of challenges came my way. I had some challenges with my teeth that resulted in multiple visits to the dentist and a trip to Tulsa with Otis as a solo parent. I came home to Eleanor in the midst of a vomiting bug, one that continued that night and into the morning, resulting in us taking a visit to the ER because of her dehydration. Mind you, my mouth was throbbing this whole time. Robbie started applying for jobs and didn’t hear back. We started trying churches and nothing seemed to fit. I was up multiple times a night with Otis who was only four months at the time, and I was confused about what I was meant to be doing with my life. Not to mention freezing cold temps and lots of snow. February kind of sucked.
I’m not going to recap each month because frankly that would miss the point. My point is that it wasn’t all perfect and it looked entirely different than either of us imagined our first year back would look like. We sort of found a church, felt like it wasn’t the right fit after a couple months, and then had to search again. Robbie applied for jobs, got a job, lost that job and had to apply again. I tried network marketing, stopped network marketing and then revisited it with a different mentality and goal. We lived with my parents for 10 months. In the first half of the year we got our finances in order, took the Financial Peace Course, set a budget and proceeded with that budget as Robbie started working. We met with a financial planner/broker friend, got pre-approved for a mortgage, looked at houses and put an offer on one…which we didn’t get. We didn’t get it but thank goodness because the next day Robbie was blindsided at work and lost his job. I dealt with anxiety regarding our transition and mothering and life. I had a few anxiety attacks – something completely new for me and not so fun. I met with a counselor in April and felt like there was no chemistry, mutual understanding or respect, and then waited several months until August to try again. When I tried again, it was incredible and one of the best decisions I have made. We met new people, reconnected with old friends and saw friends from Australia (such fortunate surprises!!!). We renovated a house with my family, moved into the house and now have a home. We found a church the second time around, settled in, found a small group and feel great about being here. Robbie applied for jobs a second time around, did many phone interviews and some in-person ones. He finally got an amazing offer…that started in January. Robbie got seasonal work as a UPS driver during Thanksgiving/Christmas, and reality really sunk in when he got back after 10pm every night his first week. We went on a few road trips. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery to remove a tumor. We experienced some holidays we haven’t for awhile, as well as the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere again. We watched football…and not at 8am on a Monday morning (Australia time). We went to family events, weddings, friends birthdays – things we haven’t been able to for nearly a decade. I ran a 5K! We have two cars now – a 2007 Toyota Camry and a 2008 Toyota Sienna. We are a Toyota family, and I am rocking the mini-van.
It’s funny because as I go back and read that last paragraph, it’s all just facts. It’s not really the emotions or mental challenges surrounding all of those things (that would take a book). In reading that paragraph, I feel as if I am writing about five years, not one. So much.
This is what I know, though, one year in.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be near family, to get to know them on a different and new level. I am thankful for Robbie, my partner for life, my support and champion, and the one that continued to laugh with me amidst it all. I am grateful for two beautiful and healthy children who have done SO well, all things considered. They have grown and matured, met new friends, gotten braver, learned new skills. It’s been a joy to be their mom. I am grateful that I no longer feel fragile. I feel strong. I don’t run towards hard things, but I am not afraid of them anymore. I am grateful for a wonderful counselor, a woman who has sat with me for months and heard me talk through all of this. A woman who is understanding and yet challenges me. I am grateful for counseling in general. I have learned so much about myself in these last five months. I have more clarity, and in a year of new and change and confusion, clarity is welcomed with open arms! Most importantly, I am grateful that the same God that started stirring our hearts for a change 2.5 years ago is still with us and covering us and loving us and providing for us.
I haven’t written in awhile, but it’s a new year. I am feeling less bogged down by the need to make this look perfect or sound perfect, and I am more convinced that vulnerability is what truly helps others. Vulnerability is so important. (Thanks Brene!) This year has many wonderful things to look forward to, and I hope to bring you along the journey more and more.
AND, I want to encourage you – if you are going through a transition, I get it. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. There are more unknowns than knowns, and you may not know when you’ll be “transitioned” as I liked to say. Take refuge in the fact that God is with you in the call, he’s with you in the transition, and he’s with you at the destination. You, my friend, are the one that is changing and growing and being challenged. He’s constant.