This was a year for settling in to a routine. Work and school and church and play. Work and school and church and play. Repeat as necessary.
Just before our tenth anniversary we had started going to a friend's church in Atlantic Station. Larry and Kathy had started up a church there called The Midtown Bridge Church and were meeting in FOX Sports Grill in the private event room. We had been friends with them since 2002 and felt led to work alongside them as they reached out to the city of Atlanta. Brian and I mostly helped with the preschool children - setting up and taking down the equipment and watching the children during service and coordinating the schedule of volunteers in this area. Not long after joining them, they had the opportunity to move the church down the street to the movie theater where they had a lot more room for growth. Larry likes to say that "the smell of popcorn is the new incense". So each week we drove into the city and had more fun at church than I think you're allowed to! It's definitely "a church that looks like the city".
Cameron was in 1st grade, Parker was in preschool and Anna and Landon were home with me. I was still working part-time at FBCW in childcare and things seemed to be picking up at Brian's office. He likes to say that it's "up and down on it's way up." Think "line graph" and you'll get the idea. Some months are up and some are down but always inching their way a little higher. (hopefully)
We had a few very rough months that year and without our friends Shana and Jay we would have had a very meager Christmas. One night they showed up on our doorstep with a dozen bags of groceries, a Christmas tree and a check to help us out with a few bills. Looking back, if we had used that money we spent on our 10th anniversary trip then perhaps we wouldn't have been struggling so much. But, of course, we couldn't have known that November and December were going to be such slow months for Brian's business. You just never quite know how much business you'll do from one month to the next. It's just part and parcel, I suppose. It was tough because Brian was kind of stressing out about it but wasn't sharing with me how bad it was. But one night he laid it all out for me and we took Dr. Phil's advice and played out the "What If" game all the way to the end. What if we can't pay this bill and that one? What if we have to shut the business down? What if he had to find work doing something else? What if the bank forecloses on our house? What if?
And, in the end, the result was that we would still be a family. And we hung on tight and business started inching it's way back up again.
That winter it snowed just the teensiest little bit and my dad came for a visit and Landon turned a year old.
And the boys played soccer in the spring and there was a tornado a mile from our house.
And my cousin had a beautiful baby girl and Cameron turned 7 years old and Anna turned 3 years old.
And my grandma in Michigan died and Brian and I went up for the funeral. We visited my family and we talked about how much we loved her spunk and her cooking. How much we admired her green thumb and her ability to fall asleep and snore louder than the T.V. blaring in the same room. And we talked about how much we missed watching her play Solitaire on her plastic covered ottoman while taking a break from her knitting or quilting.
And then, in the fall, Parker started Kindergarten and Anna and Landon were cuter than they likely ever will be again.
And I started this blog and we celebrated our 11th anniversary in Savannah
and we took my favorite family portrait.
and we took my favorite family portrait.
What did we learn during our eleventh year?:
- Encouragement is Easily Reciprocated - Larry and Kathy had held us up in prayer and had poured into our lives and we wanted to do the same for them. And then, when we thought we were going to be a blessing to them, we ended up being the ones blessed. We gave them a year of our physical help and in return we were given so much more.
- Accept Help and Be Grateful for Generous Friends - I don't think we had the option NOT to accept those groceries and gifts from the Howards. They would have made us take it by leaving everything in the driveway if we had refused! They had been convicted to be debt-free, which would free them up for the field, and because of this they were available to be generous to us. I've learned so much from them that it would take several posts to cover all those lessons.
- Go Ahead and Play Out the What Ifs - The What Ifs aren't good to dwell on but when things get really tough then go ahead and play it out to the end and find out what it is you'll be left with. You may find out that you're left with A LOT more than you thought.
- God Gives and He Takes Away - This is life. And He is good. All the time. No matter what.