Monday, December 31, 2012

thanks, 2012



I'm a planner. A list-maker. I love making goals and thinking long and hard about what I hope a new year will contain. But, it doesn't sit quite right with me to move on to a new year without fully digesting the last.

This time last year we were living in Houston, stressed and constantly on our knees about Sam's job.  It was a place that was hard to be, and not a place he wanted to stay.  We spent the first few months of the year in desperate prayer.  I look back on those times and remember so many tears, prayers, and moments holding onto hope.  We knew we needed a way out, but we didn't see the way.  

Summer came, and he began interviewing. Early June he accepted a job with State Farm--in Austin. We began to think of switching cities to be closer to our families after a lot of shut doors in Houston.  It was a dream, but we didn't think it would be a reality.  One interview and a job offer later, our whole world was changing.

It was during this time that Sam's grandma became very ill.  We watched as her desire for Heaven outgrew her desire for Earth. She spent the end of her days making us smile, with grace and love in every breath.  The timing of her passing with us moving to Austin was a difficult one. Sam lost his last biological grandparent as Grandmother passed, but the joy of marriage gives him 4 more.

The hardest months of the year were the summer. We had devised intricate plans for me to remain in Houston, at the job I loved while Sam worked in Austin until I could find a job and move together. We each had places to stay, and plans for how long this all would continue.  In what seemed like a miracle, I got a job, and we would be moving together.  We rushed and packed, found an apartment, and said our goodbyes. 

The most lasting part of that crazy summer is the way all doors would open for the move.  It was undeniably God. We found an apartment in a SINGLE DAY and had family look at it for us. My dad came down for the move. Our lease in Houston ended in exactly the month we needed to move, so we wouldn't be paying double rent.  We had previously given notice to our Houston apartment because we had planned to relocate within Houston.  So many details, and God's hand had prepared them all.  In the quiet moments, when doubt set in, this miraculous story of our move was the hope to which I hung. 

July came, and we began to get settled in our new city as we started our jobs. The job I started at The University of Texas turned instantly into a sour spot, and within two weeks we knew I needed a new place. 12-14 hour workdays, underpaid, and constant yelling made it a place that wasn't sustainable for our family. 

The days turned dark and we wondered what we had done to our family.  We missed our home, our friends, and the life we had in Houston.  Since it was just us in a big city--we only had each other. Those first years of our marriage we marked with so much sweetness.  In those 7 weeks until I found a new job, we clung to the knowledge that throughout the summer, it wasn't us that orchestrated Sam's job and our move, but God.  It was Him who brought us here, and we had to be faithful to stay.

The 7 toughest weeks of our marriage ended with a phone call and a job offer.  I was going to be leaving my job at the University, and headed to the State Lab.  Tears of joy and relief flooded both of our eyes, and we began to celebrate.  For us, I don't think we really accepted Austin as our home until I switched jobs.  It was survival mode before that.

Fall came, and we saw God's plan like we weren't seeing it before. Sam excelled and loved his new job, and I was finding my way at my new place.  Don't get me wrong, since leaving the Stehlin Foundation in Houston, I struggled.  I had found such a home in the work and people in Houston, and leaving it felt like leaving a bit of me there.Now?  That's the best part. It's still a place I've left my heart, and when we return, it feels like a homecoming.

But with fall came really making Austin our home.  Sam grew up here, but now we were making a home for us in this city.  We ventured out, found our places, and we're working on finding a small group and church.  We've been here six months now, and we're easing into our rituals.

2012 was an experience like no other. When we started it 12 months ago, I didn't see a move, so many job changes, and a new city in our future. This year--with the changes, stress, and challenges, brought us to places we never expected.  It was a year I don't want to repeat, but it brought and taught us so much. So here, on the last day of 2012, I just want to say thanks. Thanks for the memories, the challenges, and all we learned.

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Love,
Lauren