Reflections Before Moving

Before you start, know this is LONG. I just needed to write it. I’ve been working on it for three days, and I don’t feel like rereading it for grammatical errors or misspellings. I’ve got a bad case of pregnancy brain, so I’m sure there are lots of mistakes, but I’m tired…so try and look past them for me…okay? 🙂

We move in three days. It seems so surreal. Especially considering that a little over two months ago, I thought we’d be living in Virginia for the rest of our lives.

I’m glad we get to go home. I’m glad this season is finally coming to an end. It was a rough one…possibly the hardest of our entire marriage. So many times over the past year, I wondered if it really was just a season. I prayed it was, but I honestly wasn’t sure.

It’s definitely something I’m thankful to be walking out of, but also something I’m thankful I walked through it in the first place. That sounds weird, but it’s true. This past year was a challenge, and I’ve grown in so many ways because of it.

When Benji and I got here, he was unemployed and we weren’t really sure what we were going to do. Although he wanted to work in a library, he applied any and everywhere that was hiring. He’s such a good man. After many interviews at schools, public libraries and retail locations, God blessed him with work in his field. We were so excited. The pay was awful – it was almost exactly HALF of what we had been living on in Memphis – but it provided insurance, which is what we really needed.  And it was a position with plenty of opportunity to move up into a higher paying position…or so we thought 🙂

When he landed the job, we knew I would need to work to make up the difference in our income. We talked about me getting a night or weekend job until Benji could get into a higher paying position. However, when he got the full details of his job, we realized that his schedule wouldn’t allow for me to have a “real” job. Not unless it was one that paid well enough for us to be able to afford daycare (about $700 per month here) and still make up the difference in his salary. After some thought, I decided to try babysitting instead so that I could make money while avoiding the expenses of daycare. I was blessed with a job almost immediately after beginning my search.

When August came, both of us started work. I guess this is when life got hard. Benji had to commute over the mountains to work and it made for some extra long days for the both of us. On most nights, he didn’t get home until right at, or after, Harper’s bedtime. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays were always the hardest (and loneliest) because I was alone with Harper for nearly 12 hours a day.

Our finances didn’t really allow for many date nights – I think we’ve had 3-4 in the year that we’ve lived here – so we weren’t able to get away and de-stress very often. I’m a firm believer in taking time out for yourself (and your marriage) on a regular basis – I just think you have to in order to have something left of yourself to give to others – and we couldn’t very often.

There were so many times when I just felt like I had nothing left to give to anyone, including Benji and Harper. Our finances hung over my head 24/7. We didn’t have money to do things to take my mind off of it, so I’d just sit and think about it CONSTANTLY. It was a nasty cycle and I’m sure I was very unpleasant to be around.

Sometime in the fall, the cycle broke…a little. On paper, we didn’t have enough money to pay all of our bills, and yet…we were. We were making it, and paying for everything and I didn’t really know how. I slowly began to realize that DUH! God was providing. I started to see a pattern of God meeting our needs. And I don’t mean we were getting random checks in the mail either (although we did a few times).  I mean, whenever something would unexpectedly pop up, God would provide extra work for us to pay for it. True story! I began to relax and let go. Not completely, of course, but one by one, my fingers withdrew from the control I was so desperately clinging to.

And that’s when the shit hit the fan. Am I allowed to say that here? It’s just so appropriate for the next sequence of events!

I’ll be quick:

November: We moved. Our car was broken into and my purse was stolen. We found my purse, and everything was still inside. Our deductible was too high to make filing a claim worth it for the window repair. We got a ridiculous quote to repair our window and knew we couldn’t afford it. Prayed and bam! God provided through a wonderfully generous friend of mine. The next day I found out I was pregnant, even though we hadn’t been trying. Holy shat nap! We were filled with lots of joy and holy craps…because obviously, we could not afford a baby at the time.

December: Benji gets a speeding ticket. Harper gets RSV and a double ear infection. I get a $100 ticket for not having our car inspected because well…we couldn’t afford the $800 worth of repairs required to pass the inspection, but I still needed a way to get to my babysitting job. Two days later, I have a miscarriage at 10 weeks pregnant. Almost immediately after my miscarriage, Harper comes down with pneumonia. I miss three weeks of babysitting because of it. We’re short on money because I’ve missed work and we’ve both gotten tickets. My precious friend Jenn asks us to housesit and dogsit for her while she goes out of town for two weeks. The money she gives us makes up what I lost from being unable to babysit.

January: Besides the emotional trauma of my miscarriage, it was a relatively easy month. I think God was allowing me a break because it was my birthday month 🙂

February: I unexpectedly lose my babysitting job without any notice. Unbeknownst to me, the parents had been looking for a replacement ever since I had missed the three weeks in December.  I understood, but felt very hurt and betrayed simply because they didn’t tell me until the day they let me go. It was Benji’s birthday and he came home to a crying mess of a wife. I ended up cashing out my savings account to make ends meet until something else lined up. And another God-sent miracle: a friend from back home who knew I had been fired sent us a $250 check in the mail. What a blessing! My grandfather also paid for a MAJOR car repair on our Matrix without us even asking him to.

Mid-February through March was pretty much just filled with me trying to obtain employment. The miscarriage made me desperately long for home, so my search was mainly focused on Alabama. I had a couple of interviews, but they fell through. I was actually relieved when they did.  Although I wanted to go home badly, I didn’t feel peace about the route I was taking to get there. I didn’t know why there was a lack of peace, and at times it made me SO angry, but I finally came to the conclusion that God must not want us to move to Alabama and I gave up.

That was basically the end of the crazy period. At this point in time, we felt like we were staying in Virginia for a while, if not forever. I made peace with the idea and we stopped looking for employment in Alabama.

Sometime in mid-March, I was out in the backyard with Harper and I just had a moment with Jesus. I was truly happy. As I sat watching Harper play and laugh while sniffing flowers, I yearned for even more of that joy in my life. I found myself praying for God to provide us with more children, and to provide a way for us to financially support them. The miscarriage had left a longing in both mine and Benji’s hearts; however, we had decided we could not handle the emotional rollercoaster of trying to get pregnant again. We also recognized that we couldn’t handle it financially. “Trying” had been on the shelf, and hadn’t even been discussed when I found myself in the backyard praying for more children.

After my backyard Jesus-fest, I told Benji I wanted to start trying again. I remember telling my friend Theresa that I felt so stupid for wanting to try because I knew we couldn’t afford it, but I also knew in my heart that it was the right time. I thought Benji would slap me silly when I brought it up, but surprisingly, he was on board too. Looking back, I know it was the Lord and here’s why: I was ALREADY pregnant! That’s right, folks! There I was, praying my heart out for more children, and there was already life growing in my womb. Does anyone else think this is hilarious? I do!

Most of you are up to speed on the events that took place after all of this because I actually blogged about them. Benji got an interview for a professional position here, and we were about 110% sure that he was going to get it. And then he didn’t. We were baffled. He was one of only three candidates selected to interview for the position, and he was the ONLY internal candidate, meaning he was already in their system. He knew everyone at that particular branch. It seemed like the next logical step for him, and he’s an amazing librarian, so why wouldn’t he get it? I believe it was because there was another, even better job that he was supposed to have and it was back HOME 🙂

So…what exactly is the reason for this blog post? There are a few.

#1 I want to remember….both the good and the bad things from the past year. I tend not to share publicly when we’re going through a tough time. Of course, I share with close friends, but I try not to write about it here until I’m out of it because it’s very easy for me to get all “woe is me” in the midst of trouble, and while yes…that’s a very real part of me, it’s unpleasant to see and read about, in my opinion. So I just save it for my poor, poor husband and friends instead! Sorry guys! Now that I’m (thankfully) walking out of this season, I feel comfortable sharing about it here.

#2 God has done so much for us over the past year. I just want to publicly acknowledge and thank Him. We haven’t been rich, financially speaking, but he’s blessed us beyond measure with love and relationships. We were able to spend a whole year with Benji’s precious family, and I met a wonderful group of moms that supported and loved me through everything I went through up here. I developed two, very meaningful, life-long friendships while here, and I will always be grateful for that.

#3 And lastly: I wanted to share a “simple” lesson that hit me like a ton of bricks. Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  The lesson? God’s definition of good is different from my own sometimes. Simple and pretty obvious, right? Not for me, considering it took a year for me to truly “get” it.

In the past, when I’ve heard that verse, I’ve always pictured my definition of good: healthy pregnancies, healthy children, financial security, retirement, a nice house, nice neighborhood, etc. But God’s definition of good for my life could be me experiencing the opposite of every single one of those things. I don’t know, and all I can do is take him at his word, and trust him through a seemingly bad situation.

Today would have been my due date if I hadn’t lost the baby in December. Obviously, I will always mourn the baby we never got to meet, but for now, I’m trying to focus on the good of it all. There’s another life growing in my womb. And we are going home on Saturday. Instead of being 40+ weeks pregnant for the journey, I’ll only be 21. Moving so far away would’ve been nearly impossible at 40+ weeks pregnant…not to mention unsafe and stressful. Just thinking about being in that situation makes me tired.

So today, instead of focusing on the bad parts of the past year, I’m focusing on the good that came out of it. I’m saying prayers of thanks for everything God has blessed me with, and I’m thanking him for his definition of good, and for knowing better than me!

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2 thoughts on “Reflections Before Moving

  1. Katie says:

    Your honesty and reflection here is so refreshing. Thank you for sharing these intimate details with those who love you and your precious little family. Everything happened the way it was supposed to, and you are a better wife and a better mother for having been through this journey. Big hugs.

  2. Norma McKnight says:

    Hey Ashley,

    It’s Emrist’s mom. We continually pray for you three. You are such shining examples that our future lies in capable hands that trust God! Just wanted let you know I am sharing your miscarriage and subsequent posts with someone very dear to me that just miscarried. Know your transparency is now being used to comfort someone else traveling that road! God Bless & Roll Tide! Welcome back to Alabama

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