Have you ever thought you had a really good plan for your future and worked towards that plan with everything you've got? Suddenly, something happens that makes you think, "Hmmm, maybe this ISN'T what we're supposed to be doing?" You start questioning everything around you and everything that you thought was sure in your life. Well, that's where I am right now.
Long ago, we made the decision to sell our house and move elsewhere - ANYWHERE but Illinois! Since we really had no idea where we wanted to live, we thought we'd put everything n storage and travel around the country for a year, spending real time in areas that we thought we'd like to live in. Then, in February, Rich went down to Biloxi, MS and spent a week working with Back Bay Mission. BBM is a charity run by the United Church of Christ (the denomination that I grew up in and Rich has been a part of since we got married). It's kind of a cross between a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, and Habitat for Humanity. For those of you who want more information, here's the link to their website http://thebackbaymission.org/
Rich loves volunteering and helping other people. Unfortunately, here in IL, they look at his disabilities and his past and say 'so sorry, we don't need you'. In Biloxi, they treated him like there was nothing wrong with him, like he was capable of doing anything. They taught him how to work in a soup kitchen, how to hang sheets of drywall, and many other things that made him feel useful and productive. He came home such a different person and begged me to move down there. So, like Ruth, I go where my husband goes.
We put the house up for sale. The realtor told us it would sell within a couple of months and we could be gone by June. We looked at apartments and storage units around Biloxi, home school coops and laws. I found that, while in IL I still needed my BA to teach, in MS, I am able to teach already in most schools. My dream of opening a learning center for kids like Mariah could very easily be achieved. So, we were excited and hopeful at starting a new life soon.
The last couple of months have been really hard. More and more goes wrong with the mobile home every day. The toilet in our bathroom had to be replaced, as well as, both shower heads and the hot water heater. The ants were INCREDIBLE this year! With all the rain we had, we didn't think we would ever get rid of them. Every time the realtors were scheduled to come through, about a million ants would appear. We found out the roof needs replacing, we need new carpet in the living room & Mariah's room. The expenses are really mounting up.
To make things more difficult for our move, Rich is getting more & more work. He now has 2 farms that he has to clear all the scrap out of. The first farmer has referred him to another place that will have almost endless work for him, clearing out scrap and old fuel tanks. For the first time, he will be making what I used to make working 60 hours a week downtown. We would finally be able to have me stay home full time with Mariah and not worry about expenses.
I've been praying for months that God show us a definite sign to lead us down the path He wants us to follow. BBM & Biloxi seemed to be it. Even more confusing, we have been trying to find the right church with a good Sunday School for Mariah for years. None of the churches that we've been to have been it. Last night appears to be God smacking us in the face and saying "STAY!"
Mariah started Vacation Bible School last night at a local church. It's not a church that we would normally attend. But I was blown away when I dropped her off! The back half of the church is set up for Sunday School. Right now, it is made to look like a medieval kingdom with a drawbridge and everything! Last night, with everyone getting registered and meeting their crews, it looked like the first day of school assembly! There was so much noise from all the kids! Mariah can't stand loud noises, they hurt her ears very badly. The director had called me earlier in the week to ask if there were any special accommodations needed for her and I told her I didn't think so. She realized Mariah was having a difficult time and took us upstairs. That's when I had a feeling that we were home.
The entire upstairs has been set up for special needs kids. There is a room called Safe Harbor, where the kids can go and anyone else is allowed in by invitation only. There are all kinds of sensory things in there for them - a tent to crawl in when they need quiet time; a large plastic ball that they can crawl inside; lights with colored beads that move to sound. There is a room for arts & crafts, an area for videos, a puppet theatre. The kids go up there and then THEY decide what area they want to work in that week. It was amazing! Mariah was overwhelmed at first and started to flail her arms and jump like she does. At first I started to calm her down like I normally do, but the director stopped me. She told me that most kids coming in there for the first time experience the same thing. They believe in letting the kids be themselves, even if it means a melt down. Wow, someone who really understands kids like Mariah! She explained that from then on, Mariah would be in that area with a group of Special Ed teachers. She would be assigned a helper who would take her down to the regular VBS. If Mariah chose to stay down there she could. If not, she could go back upstairs and participate in VBS there. We were told to come back in 2 1/2 hours and pick her up and enjoy our evening in the meantime.
Rich went back to pick Mariah up and Mariah was reluctant to leave. She wanted to spend the night! He told her she could go back every night this week. Tonight I'm going to take her and speak with the children's pastor about the church itself. Maybe this is God's plan. Maybe we're supposed to stay here and do something else. I don't know for sure, but I'm going to keep praying about it.