As I left off blogging two years ago, life was a lot different than it is now. I had two children in diapers. I had three nappers. I had only a kindergartener and a second grader to teach. And we lived in the frozen tundra (err, on top of it, technically).
It seems strange, but it is true in our family that our seasons of life seem to ebb and flow around where Ryan works and in what kind of job and environment. It makes a big impact on our family. I think it makes a big difference in a lot of families. I personally believe that the demise of the strong family unit in our country is largely due to our corporate culture (but that is an entirely separate post).
Anyhow....back to two years ago...Ryan was working a crazy job in materials management. For about two years he worked in this position where all of the problems in that facility (which was large and made the company a lot of $$-which means more stress, by the way) were pretty much laid at his feet to fix, yesterday. Ryan is not an A-type, in your face guy. He was aging a year every month. He traveled away from home almost 25% of the time. He wore burdens heavier than any wife wants to see on their best friend. He was nearly being forced to become someone he was not.
We buckled down at home and I worked hard to be the soft landing place for him. I painted walls, updated and remodeled rooms, sewed girls' dresses and boys quilts all during the nights when Ryan was traveling (I don't sleep well solo so I fire up the productivity jets until I can't do anything but sleep). And Ryan tried daily to maintain all of his integrity and love at a work place that rarely valued those qualities.
Meanwhile, I began to struggle with the long Wisconsin winters. They were depressing for someone from sunny CA. When we had first moved to WI, five years prior, I had babies and they kept coming (and yes, we do know how it happens). With babies in the house I just put one foot in front of the other, tried to stay sane and didn't really notice or care what the weather was. I shoveled snow and learned to appreciate the beauty of the white landscape and then would go back inside to change a diaper and prepare baby meals.
But then the kids grew older. We wanted to bike ride more than three months out of the year and wanted to not freeze on a June evening walk. We desired to have a more active family lifestyle.
And really, buying vitamin D supplements??? Didn't God create the sun for such a purpose?
To add to our feelings of "get me out of here" was the sense of darkness all around us. Where we lived lacked life, joy, and spiritual enthusiasm everywhere. Liturgical, robot like 'religion' was common. Alcohol flowed like water. Smoking was not what a fire did, but 'what most people Dad worked with did'. Rough language was par for the grocery store.
This was not the place we wanted our kids to grow up and call home.
So we prayed. And we prayed.