It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in this chair, writing a post about it being the last morning in our home.
Here I am, again, six months later, and boxes line the walls, our suitcases are packed, and we’re getting ready to head out once more on an adventure to a new place.
These six months in Pensacola have been a precious time for our family. One that Bradley and I have affectionately called our Sabbatical. Not because it was a break from work for Bradley, or because it was unpaid. But, the essence of a sabbatical is a rest from typical routines in order to be renewed.
We knew that our time here would be brief, the main purpose being for him to do well in his schooling to prepare him for his next job assignment. And because of that we chose to limit our involvement in activities that we typically do: church ministry, relationships, hospitality, extra-curricular activities.
At first this was hard for me, and I felt guilty about not volunteering to play the piano at church, or attending ladies’ Bible study. And our home hasn’t been a place where people gather for small group or play dates.
But, we have been able to have a time for our family to grow and enjoy one another, and each of us has come away from this time changed and renewed in many ways.
The training Bradley has received here has been excellent, and he’s thoroughly enjoyed his classes, maintaining rank at the top of his class (I’m just a little bit proud of him!). I’ve watched my husband go through the shattering of career dreams, and he continues to persevere and do his best. The hours of class have been great for our family because he’s home by mid-afternoon, we can have dinner together every night, he can sleep in his own bed, and other than the occasional study session or evening ‘on call’, we’ve spent the last six months together. We feel blessed beyond measure for this.
Isabella started school, attending a Christian school in the area, and this has been great for her! She loves going to school–learning, having friends, playing at recess–and now that she has a good foundation we’ll be better prepared for homeschooling next semester. She’s started reading words and it won’t be long before she’s reading full books!
Mallory has been my sidekick in the mornings, helping out with the younger two, struggling to find her place without Isabella, and keeping me company in everything that we do each day. Both girls have been blessed with neighborhood friends to play with. Our backyard became the hangout every afternoon, sometimes up to 15 kids playing at a time. The girls have learned what it means to have playmates and it’s been fun to see them have compassion on their friends. They want their friends to know about Jesus, and we are so thankful to see this growth.
Mason has changed in many ways, making MUCH progress in every area of development. He is walking (almost running), going up and down the stairs, feeding himself with a fork/spoon, saying a few words, pointing to objects, and continues to grow and change each day. He knows no stranger and blows kisses to everyone he sees.
Jennavieve is our little ‘baboon’ as Isabella called her last night. She has given us many sleepless nights here, but she’s also our funny, high-spirited girl who climbs on everything, adores her big brother, and constantly keeps us on our toes.
Our kids bring us much joy, and this time of just our family has provided opportunities for us to enjoy and learn about each one.
For me this time has been one of great refreshment spiritually and mentally. The only commitment I have had has been to my family, and this has been extremely freeing. It has provided time for me to read, think, and write. I didn’t realize how much I needed this. Even though I feel physically tired from a lot of sleepless nights (thank you, Jennavieve and Mason), my soul feels rested and ready to ease back into ministry, friends, and even homeschooling (I never really thought that would be one of my roles!).
I’ve also enjoyed being able to exercise here. I set two goals with running: run 3 miles with relative ease, and complete a 6 mile run. I’m excited to say that I reached both of my goals! I can now run 3 miles without feeling like I’m going to pass out, and on Tuesday I clocked a 6 mile run, only stopping for a quick drink of water. I never thought I would enjoy running, but I do now. I like the quiet, the time alone, and the view on my runs here has been amazing. I’ll definitely miss my oceanside trail.
There are many unknowns for us in the coming weeks. We don’t know where we’ll be living, Bradley doesn’t know much about his job, the girls are sad about leaving friends and unsure about how God will provide new ones, and I find myself becoming a little fearful about all of the change.
But, as my Mom reminded me earlier this week, our emotions have a way of taking over if we’re not grounded in the Truth. When I’m fearful, I can allow my feelings to drive my thoughts and think about all of the unknowns getting worked up and losing joy. OR, I can choose to fix my mind on what is true and experience joy in the midst of the unknowns.
From today’s Advent reading in Habakkuk:
“…yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”
Yes, our future is unsure, but when my confidence is in a God who is sovereign, good, strong, and able to do more than I could imagine, He will make me sure-footed. And I can rejoice even in the midst of uncertainties and change.
This post is much longer than I had intended, but I’ll just consider it my ‘farewell to Florida’, and I guess our Christmas letter. As much as I had intended to send a card/letter, it’s not happening. I’ll be silent on the blog for awhile as we enjoy spending time with both sides of our families.
Merry Christmas! May you experience the joy of Jesus as you celebrate His life!