Blessings Part 1

It is amazing to me to think that the God that made the heavens, cares about the smallest detail of my life; but it’s true! I am so thankful that I can see His hand in my life. It has never been more obvious than in the past couple of years for me.

It started when Chris and I thought it would be a good idea for me to finish my college course prerequisites and try to go to nursing school. We had Alex, Abby, and Hannah at the time. Alex was in 1st grade and Abby and Hannah were in preschool. There were a total of 5 classes (including 2 semesters of Anatomy and Physiology) that I needed to finish before I applied to the nursing program at Blue Ridge Community College. The BRCC campus is about 35 minutes from where we live and I only had a small window of time in which to attend classes because the girls were only in school 4 days a week for the mornings. Getting to Weyers Cave (the BRCC campus) and taking a class wasn’t really an option, however, BRCC has a satellite teaching facility at Augusta Health which is only about 15 minutes from us. Totally doable. They don’t offer all of the classes there since it is such a small facility, but they did offer 4 of the 6 that I needed to take! The other 2 I was able to complete online. God was already pointing me in His direction, I just didn’t know it at the time.

When it came time to apply for the nursing program, all three big kids were in elementary school. Chris and I also felt like God had put it on our hearts to add to our family. The timing for this was kinda bad because I had no idea what the nursing program schedule was going to be like. I wasn’t even accepted yet, but we decided to try for baby #4 and trust in God’s plan. Turns out I had to take Clomid to become pregnant (the same medication I took to get Alex) and I was accepted into the nursing program. When the program started, we had just made the decision to go ahead and try Clomid since we had been trying for a few months and were not pregnant yet. It worked on the first try and within the first 6 weeks of school, I was pregnant. At this point, I knew how demanding the curriculum was and we were questioning the idea of me staying in school, but we forged ahead. As the fall semester turned into the spring semester, the schedule started to make itself known and God was so obviously behind it, all we could do was smile. I was due on May 12th, only a few days after our spring semester final exam on May 8th. We started classes for the summer session on May 22nd. My instructors were kind enough to allow me to take my exam a few days early and I’m so glad that I did! I took and passed my exam on Monday, May 5th. My parents had come down that day to stay the whole week in anticipation of our newest baby’s arrival. So on Tuesday, I got my house ready. Cleaned, did laundry, made sure my bag was packed and we were ready to roll. In the middle of the night, I had a dream that my water broke. This has happened with two of my other babies, so I wasn’t worried. I stood up to check for any leaking; none. So I went back to bed and brushed it off as just a dream. On Wednesday, my Mom and I went out to lunch, got pedicures, and had a wonderful, relaxing day together. On Wednesday night, I woke up again thinking that my water was broken. But again, no leaking. By the time I woke up Thursday morning, I knew that my water had broken. I filled the kids in on what was happening and got them, excitedly, off to school. Chris was already at work, so I called him to fill him in and told him I was going to confirm at the Dr, but to be ready because I was sure it was time. As with the other two babies that this happened with, I experienced no contractions. I went to the Dr and it was confirmed that my water had broken. Of course, they wanted me to go directly to the hospital, but I insisted on going home and getting my things. I also had two or three things to grab from the store. I called my parents and let them know, called Chris’s parents, and called Chris to tell him to come home. I got to the hospital around noon, if I remember right, and my Mom was already there. To make a long story short and get back on track, Isabella was born that night at 8:13PM, the same day that the rest of my class was taking their final exam. The timing gave me as much time at home with her as possible before going back to classes. God’s plan.

His hand was also in the lining up of child care for all 4 kids for the whole summer. Something I had never had to do before, but it all worked out perfectly. In fact, finding a babysitter for Isabella when the big kids went back to school worked out, too. A friend from our church gave me the name of her dear friend who watched a couple of kids in her home. She agreed to watch Isabella while I was in school. I made a lifelong friend and she poured her heart into our baby just like I did. I felt like Isabella had two Moms and it was wonderful. When she decided that she was going to pursue a more regular job, again, we found an amazing caregiver in the big girl’s ballet instructor. She stepped in and loved on our girl so beautifully. She wasn’t able to watch her for very long, but they formed a strong bond for the few months that she was able to help out. We then needed to find someone else. There is a wonderful family at our church with four young adult daughters. One of the girls had formed a bond with Fizzy and offered to help out. Their entire family has enveloped our girl as their own and it has been amazing. The outpouring of love that I have felt move through God’s body fills me every day. It is so humbling and warm.

With our growing family, we knew that we would one day like to have a larger home. We hoped to have a larger dining area and maybe two family rooms. We had no plans to put our house on the market, but in November of 2015, God gave Chris the word that we should sell our house. I felt like life had just settled down and I just wanted to breathe and enjoy Christmas. Chris reluctantly agreed and we put the house on the market in early January. It sold in 43 days. Here’s yet another spot in this story that God’s hand is made very obvious. One of the daughters from the family that was watching Fizzy, had passed along the listing of our house to a friend of hers. That friend and her family ended up purchasing our home!

By early March, when our home was under contract, we were able to really start looking for our next home. The search, however, was turning up nothing. With two weeks left before our closing date of April 27th, we still had nowhere to go. People would not rent to us because we have a Doberman Pinscher and it violates most insurance policies (pit bulls, rotties, dobes…). Not only that, but we wanted short term, preferable month to month, so we could keep looking for a home to buy. On Sunday, April 10, in the wee hours of the morning, God spoke to Chris and told him that a door would open for us in three days. We anxiously waited. On the morning of the 13th, I got a text from my dear friend, neighbor, and former pastor's wife. Her friend had the name of a family that has a guest house who might be willing to rent to us. That evening, I called and spoke with the home owner. I told her our situation and she graciously listened. At this point in our week, I wasn’t able to get back in touch with her until early the following week, so we left it at that. It gave her time to talk with her husband. I called her on Sunday afternoon and we set up a time for me to come meet them and talk about the possibilities.

Fizzy and I came over on Tuesday morning to meet Linda and Allen in person and discuss living in this house as an option for us. I explained our situation and they were so warm and welcoming! We toured the house to make sure it would work for us; with 7 bedrooms and 11 beds, it was more than perfect! Because they use this house as a guest house, it had already been reserved until April 27th, so we decided that we could move in that afternoon. A couple of days after our meeting, Allen called and told us that they would love to have us stay. We could pay a very reasonable rent that would include utilities. He asked if we knew when we would be leaving and understood that we really didn’t know. I told him that if he felt that our time here was dragging on too long, to please let us know so we can make other arrangements. The last thing we wanted to do was overstay our welcome. He was happy to hear that and to have open communication. I asked him if I could bring the family over to meet them and see the house and they were very happy with that. I called a few days later and did just that. The kids loved the house and Chris and I are just so thankful.

Fast forward to the morning of April 27th. We had been out of Fall Ridge since Tuesday and were staying at the Best Western (where my friend, Missy, is the manager and gave us the employee rate on our rooms!). Linda was just about finished with the cleaning and said we could come anytime. Chris and I had a few loose ends to tie up at the house and were able to do that, have a nice lunch, pick up the kids from school, and come to our new house. While we were busy getting settled in, Linda came over and delivered dinner and cookies! I could have cried. The kindness we have been shown has been a little overwhelming and that just about topped the cake for me. Not only that, but it was AWESOME! She called it Huntington’s chicken. It was macaroni and cheese, chicken, and bread crumbs – all homemade, of course. Everyone did great the first night! The kids all picked out separate bedrooms and had a good night’s sleep. Sadly, it was my weekend to work, but Nana had already planned on coming up and was able to come Friday and Saturday to help Chris with the kids in their new environment.

The very first weekend, we made friends with the kids next door. The mom’s name is Shelly, the kids are Sarah, 13, Elizabeth, 11 (only one week after Alex), and Mathew, 10. They are a very friendly family who are teaching my kids about farm life as they raise goats, chickens, ducks, and a garden. They dabble in homesteading so we have a lot to learn and they are happy to teach us. They also homeschool.

We also met and talked with the Beiler’s son, Larry, who lives here, helps with the farm, and is a local firefighter.

We have been filling our days playing outside, taking walks around the farm, trying to keep this amazing house tidy, and getting used to this new way of life. Because we don’t have TV or internet, the house is filled with sounds of birds, cars, cows, an occasional goat, tractors, and the breeze. We did bring a TV and a DVD player so we could watch an occasional movie. Last night (5/2) we decided that we would try to watch Big Hero 6 since Abby just got it for her birthday. As much as I love cuddling with the kids while we watch a movie, something about having it set up here seemed to put a wrinkle in the peacefulness of this place. It felt so very off and I’m so glad. I truly hope and pray that being here leads us to a life that is closer to God than we have ever been. With so much of our time being less distracted by entertainment that is being fed to us, we have time to focus on praying and learning as a family.

Chris and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon and discussed what we are looking for in a house. Do we want to be in a neighborhood so our kids have other kids to play with or do we want something like what we have now? I think we need to give it a little bit of time, but I’m thinking that staying here is going to help us narrow down what kind of home we want to truly create for our family.

Risen Ridge Ministry