To all my family and friends that typically get a card from me the day after Thanksgiving, I apologize. My life has changed drastically this year and the Lord is teaching me to be more flexible, which doesn’t always allow for “the norm”. I am working four jobs (more on that in a second), have a self-employed husband, a dog that destroys everything and no one could love but me, plus five kids in school, equaling 5x the homework, and some of them have been in various extra-curricular activities. To top it off, as the one who used to always be taking pictures and scrapbooking, I have no family photo of late, and printing and postage didn’t make the budget cuts. For this girl that LOVES to send mail, I’m coping ok.
In January, I joined a small group online. We were all supposed to pick a word that we were going to focus on, in our spiritual life, throughout the year. I picked resilient. I can’t exactly tell you why I picked that word, but it was the one that kept coming to mind. My thought: Resilient - getting stretched often but able to bounce back.
The Lord has stretched me this year. Sometimes to the point I thought I was going to break and not bounce back, but He has been faithful. Why do I always doubt?
In April, I made the agonizing decision to leave my real estate job for various reasons. It killed me. I liked the job, I love real estate, and I knew our financial well-being depended on that income. I also knew the Lord was pushing me to make a change. My children and my husband needed me. At that time, the church was looking for someone to cover a maternity leave for one of the secretaries. I was requested and decided to cover that leave. The new mom then decided to stay home with her bundle of joy, so I am still working at the church 2.5 days a week. I also clean a rather large house one day a week, which provides grocery money weekly. In July, I joined Rodan + Fields and I love having my own business and selling skin care products I really believe in. And, recently, I signed on with another real estate team. I literally had a different agent or team or office or title company or lender call me every week since I quit. I missed real estate, so Jason and I prayed that if the right agent came along, that I would recognize it as a good thing and feel a peace about going back into a time-consuming business. So far, it has been a good fit for me!
Working four jobs is a juggling act and exhausting, but we believe in CCS for our children right now, and me working like this is the only way to to make that happen.
Jason has been consistently busy in carpentry all year. He’s had ups and downs that he has every year with self-employment (I can’t believe it has been 11 years), but it seems like more ‘downs’ this year with different clients, even tho work has been steady. The Lord has kept us close together, thankfully, and on our knees in prayer. Jason was able to coach the 4th/5th grade soccer boys in the Spring, which was a lot of fun for Daegan and Capps. He also had his high school small group in the Spring, but the youth program changed and he doesn’t have one this Fall. He has busy evenings picking up the extra-curricular activity kids (soccer, play practice, robotics, etc.), session meetings, plus a small group of other dads, and, of course, Tuesday game night. :)
I’ve made the comment a few times, and posted things on Facebook, I miss the simpler days of when we had five kids, ages 6 and under. They were physically exhausting days, but simpler. The needs of children were easier to meet and there were no sports, no homework, no social drama, and no drastic hormones. Plus, toddlers are so adorable, right?! Older kids are emotionally exhausting and cause a lot of gray hairs, but I absolutely love the interaction with them and love watching them grow into young adults.
Mollee is now a freshman in high school. She turned 15 on Halloween and we will attempt to get her a learner’s permit as soon as I find the time to take her. She does not love school, but she does well in her classes. She loves art and music and can typically be found drawing in a sketchpad with earbuds blaring.
Tavis is in 8th grade and after we learned he needed medicine to help him concentrate (probably has since kindergarten), he has had a lot less stress in school. He is still the child that keeps me up at night with frustration, but he is also the child that has a hug and kiss for his mother every time he sees her (even in front of friends) and is still the child that has someone laughing and shooting milk out of their nose during dinner each week. He is anxiously awaiting his soccer season to start, and, as an 8th grader, because of numbers at CCS, he will be playing on the high school JV team.
Daegan has recovered from his rough Fall 2014, when he missed three months of school after a severe migraine. His dizziness is rare now and his latest scan was clear, so he will continue to heal until the dizziness is completely gone. He is in all Honors classes and attends a Robotics club twice a week after school (which we just found out has made it to Regionals after a competition last weekend). He also ran a hilarious and energetic campaign for Middle School Student Council, which thrilled him to be able to give speeches and now to be a leader in chapel. No stage fright and all Honors classes may indicate he is not my son?
Capps is our 5th grader who is, and probably always will be, quirky. A quirky that I love! He continues to get a little more set in his ways, which is funny to watch in a family of seven where flexibility is key. It has probably been hardest on him to have Mommy working outside the home. He is looking forward to playing soccer in the Spring and there also is a possibility he will be able to join the Robotics club next semester. He enjoys school, which is refreshing, and he seems to be a loyal friend to those around him, also refreshing. After a few weeks of school, we were excitedly surprised that the school wanted to bump him from 6th grade math to 7th grade math. It has challenged him more, which he isn’t used to, but it has definitely been a good experience for him.
Mac, the baby of the family that has academically struggled, but never lacked confidence, thankfully, has a 3rd grade teacher that is pushing him and not letting him get away with his lazy old ways. He has his own sense of style (which I totally appreciate), he is hilarious, goofy, and tries to charm his way out of, or into, everything. It took a little time, but he is working hard at school. He isn’t the reader his brothers are, but he loves Calvin and Hobbes and is typically annoying his sister by making explosion noises with whatever is in his hand.
So, resilient has proven to be a word of the year for all the Browns. We’ve seen much sadness this year with the loss of friends. We’ve learned as a family, through many tears, how to lean on each other in life. We’ve endured a family dynamic change with Mommy working outside the home. We’ve had big budget cuts this year, but we’ve seen the Lord provide in strange ways. We’ve had sickness, but nothing like 2014. We’ve made new friends. And we’ve seen all the kids being pushed into new realms of school work, and managed well.
I hate being stretched out of my comfort zone, which is why I picked resilient for my word. As I’ve studied with this word in mind all year, one definition I love; “able to recover quickly from difficult conditions”. I like this because I know my recovery strength comes from the Lord. The other definition I do not necessarily like; “able to spring back into shape after stretching”. I don’t want to just spring back, I want to spring back, changed, closer to God, from all I’ve learned.
Not sure if my bible study will continue into 2016. If it does, not sure if we pick a new word? I may carefully pick something that doesn’t set me up for so much pain and learning. :)
I am thankful for 2015, but I am happy to see it go. I am thankful that through much change, we’ve protected our family time and shared some growing pains together. May we ring in the new year, eager to lean on Christ during stretching. Eager to be resilient.