The Year in Review

December 24, 2015

As we approach our one year anniversary of moving to Kenosha, my heart is filled with thankfulness for God’s many kindnesses to us these last twelve months.

(our chalkboard table runner that we filled up with things we’re thankful for throughout the month of November)

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Last year at this time we were hurriedly packing, driving moving trucks, taking trains, organizing places to stay as we waited for our house to be ready. We beat a path back and forth from Kenosha to Detroit, even looping a trip to New Jersey in there. We spent Thanksgiving alone and planned to spend Christmas the same. It was a frenzied, hectic affair. Tense words were exchanged. Tears were shed. Apologies and reconciliations followed. Lot of good byes and many more hellos.

That first night we spent in our house as official residents was not a calm, peaceful one. We had driven most of the day through a snowstorm arriving just as the temperatures began the overnight plummet to the sub-zero range. We entered a dirty home with all of our boxed belongings piled high in the three seasons room where for a month they had become a sort of jungle gym for mice before giving into the deep freeze that settled all across the Midwest. Who knew dish soap could freeze? And vinegar too? I could not recall where I had packed even one thing. We had to bundle up in coats, hats and gloves for the quick scramble through over 80 boxes of stuff (I hated it all) to find bedding and towels and mattresses before we could even get ourselves to bed.

(See scary (dirty) entry way below with blurry, bundled kids)

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Jared and I slept on twin mattresses on the floor of our bedroom that night. We stared into each others’ stressed-out eyes and tried to encourage one another. Moving is stressful. We’ll get through it. We made all kinds of promises and resolutions to be kind to each other and nice to our children in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty about the future. We reminded ourselves that things always seem better in the morning. And that help was on the way. My parents (bless them!) entered the fray two days later, but for two days I furiously cleaned, emptied closets, took the kids to tour their new school, encouraged obsessive TV watching and exchanged irritable words with more than one of my children. They had some big feelings about this move. Big feelings to rival my own big feelings. And I felt like I didn’t have the emotional capacity to handle both!

My parents were troopers. They labored hard for three weeks with me–repairing walls, filling holes, painting, tearing down wallpaper, staining trim, replacing trim, cutting new trim, cleaning, scrubbing, plumbing, installing washers and dryers. etc. Jared began his new job during the days and spent his evenings replacing light fixtures and ceiling fans. I systematically began painting bedrooms, bathrooms, unpacking boxes and organizing closets. 

(note: professionally applied, 100 year guarantee to never ripple, discolor or come off your wall in any way. it was basically indestructible, and mom spent approximately 50 hours of labor getting it all down.)

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Meanwhile the kids started up at their new school. When they came home all smiles that first day, my heart just welled up with gratitude and relief that in this area and for this time, God laid out an easy path for us.

When we got to the point of actually being able to move furniture into the house, we made another unhappy discovery: some well-meaning person had unwrapped the furniture and misplaced the hardware for all of our beds as well as the table. More frantic searching ensued. We never did find the hardware for our table or for Haven’s bed. And it was months before we got to IKEA to replace what we needed for Haven’s room. Ahh, these are the little stresses of life that are a little derailing at the time but later become funny recollections passed around the family at holidays. I tried to keep that perspective in the moment, and I was able to laugh about much of it, but I simply could not find any humor in the small mouse infestation we were battling.

(it is what you think)

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It has been a year of learning from all sides. Jared with a brand new job–at times loving the new challenges but definitely missing the classroom and the research hours. (Have you heard he The Library of NT Studies recently published his book?) I’m not as visible at church as Jared, so my progress at getting to know people has been much slower. And that sometimes discourages me. Initially, I wasn’t sure where to turn for babysitters and doctors and school advice–even though we were warmly received here–meal trains and all. The kids too were battling loneliness. And ministry life is busier than we were used too. But though the calendar was full (and sometimes a little overwhelming) we still battled loneliness ourselves.

At the ten month mark though, Jared and I looked at each other again–surprised to see less frenzied eyes this time– and agreed that we feel like we’re making strides and beginning to settle. We’re grateful to God for a great year in spite of all the changes.

First, we’re thankful for good health. Sure, we had the normal winter stomach bug battle and Jude faced off with strep throat. There were respiratory illnesses a plenty January through April, and most notably–a round of lice, but overall, our health has been quite good. I in particular have had a season of good health and restored energy.

(Haven: round one stomach bug. finally out after a night of vomiting)

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Essential Oil treatment for head lice

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Yep. Me too. That’s what you get for sharing hair brushes and snuggling. No one was exempt.

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We’re thankful for this house. Recently, I looked around and thought, everything is now in its place. I’ve painted nearly every room. I don’t see ugliness and dirt everywhere I look anymore. And I am no longer finding mice devastation (what won’t they chew through?) and defecation (ew) anywhere. Yes things are looking up! Having lived almost eight years in a 980 square foot ranch with the cliche postage stamp-sized lot, plus an additional three years in campus housing, moving into an old farmhouse sitting on 40 acres of farmland has been cathartic. We’ve got lots of breathing room and lots of roaming room–and on an idyllic setting. I can see horses and cows from my kitchen window. Chickens from the front. And in every direction I look I can see wide open fields of corn, cabbage, and alfalfa, along with trees, barns and sky. Our bird knowledge has soared (hee hee). We’ve spotted a bald eagle in the field across from our house, noted that a great blue heron makes his summer home at a nearby lake and even learned the names of several native species of smaller birds. We’re the proud owners of a John Deere tractor and we regularly don our mud boots to play outside. We’ve no plans yet to get a dog or purchase chickens, but the thought regularly occurs to me. And I’m slower to banish it each time…

We’re all also settling into some new treasured friendships. Recently, I was able to speak at our women’s annual Christmas luncheon. Doing so allowed me to meet more women and feel better connected with the dear women at church.

They boys’ school continues to be a source of blessing. We’ve made friends with a few neighbors and gotten to know some teachers. There are math and reading clubs to attend. Choir to sign up for. Spelling bees to participate in. AR reading goals to meet. Art classes to be held. Both boys are thriving in this environment, and Jared and I constantly rehearse our gratitude to God for maneuvering our lives in a way that lead us to Somers Elementary.

(spelling bee champs)

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Haven has yet to join the school ranks, but she should start Kindergarten in the Fall. I can hardly bear to think about her going off to school, so that’s all I’ll say. I’ve loved all the girl time we share while the boys are at school.

We’re at a good place in our family life. Because life can get quite busy, we’ve been more intentional about having quality family time together and establishing family traditions–game nights, hiking days, family softball, family field trip days, pizza night, breakfast dinner night, movie night. We love our little family routines that bond us together and make our home feel like a safe retreat from the outside world. I pray that God uses these traditions to help securely ground our kids as they find their way in a world that increasingly rejects our values.

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Souvenir shopping night in Florida

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School supply shopping

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One of many pizza nights at Infusinos

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hiking!

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breakfast at Mike’s Chicken and Donuts

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family field trip day at the apple maze

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(annual Compton family vacation in Clearwater Beach)

(our annual Thanksmas with the Rodman clan)

(and one tradition I could do without–gingerbread house building and decorating. this year was a disaster. )

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I’m thankful for twelve years of marriage. A couple weeks ago as we sat in the school gym watching Asher sing his heart out with the choir, and Haven melodramatically draped across our laps (sooo hot, sooo tired, and sooo thirsty) while Jude was busy counting things–lights, people, instruments, songs and imagining his “what ifs,” I whispered to Jared: “look at us.” This is not what I envisioned twelve years ago at the altar. I honestly don’t know what I envisioned. I am a in the moment, not so visionary, kind of gal.  But I love this. I’m thankful for this stage we are in–every bit of it. I love this place. I love my church. I’m learning to love these people who have opened wide their arms, homes and hearts to us. I love my house. I love country living. I love my kids’ school. I love this crazy family of mine–big feelings and all. What a year of blessing!

(celebrating 12 years at Old Madrid, eating Spanish tapas. yum!)

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(Asher’s school holiday concert)

2015 family pictures

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