Hey there, stranger. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Just like you, I’m sure, I’ve been really busy. Life is hectic and time goes so fast. It seems like just yesterday that our youngest daughter, Leah, was a baby in a pink nightgown. Now she is grown and on her own!
At night when I often wrestle with insomnia, I wonder where the years went and think about the happy memories and, yes, the regrets, too.
I am so thankful that Leah is physically close by Ray and me; she recently moved to our small, rural town. Let me try to catch you up with what’s been going on the last couple of years since she graduated from our homeschool, Shekinah Academy.
Our oldest daughter Heather unfortunately became a single mom of her two young girls, Annabelle and Violet, when her husband left her after 10 years. They divorced. I never wanted this for our children, as I was a single mother for almost 10 years with Heather. We struggled a lot financially and it is THE hardest job in the world!
After Leah graduated from our homeschool, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go to college or what exactly she wanted to do with her life. Leah is extremely shy and Ray and I were having trouble motivating her to get a job here in our town Butler, apply for college, or take any action steps. She was nervous about filling out job applications and she was especially scared of the job interview because she is so shy.
There are now many young adults who are struggling to “grow up” and some refuse to move out, even in their late 20’s or 30’s; it’s called failure to launch. Do any parents relate to this? In our daughter Leah’s case, I think it was primarily shyness, not knowing what she wanted to do with her life, and fear.
So our oldest daughter Heather invited Leah to move in with her about two years ago. If Leah got a job there in Heather’s city (Belton)–which had much more options for jobs since it’s a lot bigger—then she could contribute financially to Heather’s household, helping her out and it would enable Leah to take a step toward independent adulthood. After praying and thinking about it a couple of weeks, Leah decided to take the leap and move in with her sister and her nieces.
To her surprise, she got a job immediately at her second job interview! We were so proud of her.
But how many of us know that what seems like a great idea at the time can turn out–well, not so great? I asked my sister Maria if she thinks it was a mistake for Leah to move in with Heather? She said no, that it helped Leah to become more of an adult. I agree. Leah has matured a lot the last several years. Despite the stresses, this move did help Leah to become more independent and mature. And for awhile, it helped Heather, too!
Leah got a job soon after moving in with Heather as a cashier at a grocery store. She helped Heather out by babysitting Annabelle and Violet, getting them ready for school in the morning, picking them up in the afternoon (while Heather was at work), helping Heather make the grocery list and sometimes shopping, running errands, learning how to budget, paying bills, and much more.
It was a big learning curve for Leah, who had never been on her own and who had always depended on Ray and me for every decision. And it was a learning experience for me as well, learning how to let go and trust God with our little “eaglet” flying the nest.
Then Heather’s and Leah’s sister Eden, her husband Craig, and their toddler daughter Piper moved in with them to help Eden and her family out financially for a short time. You may have heard the expression “Three’s a crowd,” and when there’s more than three, it can get really crowded!
Initially they were happy to be living together as sisters, having fun, laughing, eating meals, and watching movies together. But over time, conflict arose, as it does in any relationship.
It all got to be too much in such close quarters. Heather became overwhelmed with stress from everyone depending financially and emotionally on her as the main breadwinner and sounding board. Leah became very stressed out from working and babysitting both her sisters’ kids. Eden was stressed out from working, having to depend on her sisters, not having a car at that time, and not having her own home. They were all way too stressed!
Eventually Heather decided that it’d be best for them all to move out for her own peace of mind. Craig and Eden found another place to live in Belton.
Leah moved in temporarily with friends in another city. She cut her hair very short and dyed it blonder, closer to the color that it was when she was a toddler. She got a pet hamster named Dumpling. Now she has two hamsters; her friends gave her theirs when they moved out of state!
When Craig & Eden found a rental home here in Butler, just down the street from us, then Leah moved in with them. Craig and Eden now have a new baby, Willow, who is growing fast. They are also trying to get custody of Craig’s son Kellian, from a previous relationship.
I’m so thankful that Leah and they are closer to us now! Every two weeks when Ray is paid, Leah and I go out to eat lunch (usually Mexican). This was something we did while she was living at home, and I wanted to continue the tradition.
Heather and Eden stay busy working and doing fun things with their kids and friends, but I see them when I can. I love our kids and grandkids so much! Family is precious!
Heather is still stressed out financially as a single mom (please pray for her and all our family!), but it really helped her emotionally to get back her own space again with her kids. She’s now dating a man named Andy, who has kids of his own. When they went to a sunflower field last fall, they took this great pic together.
Leah took more courageous steps of faith this year. She got a new job here in Butler at Casey’s, cashiering, stocking, and now learning to work in the kitchen to make pizzas and other food. She’s doing GREAT at her new job! As I went into her store recently, when her boss found out that I was her mom, he said, “I just wanted to let you know that Leah is a WONDERFUL person! She is hard working, she always has a smile on her face, and she almost never tells me no if I ask her to do something for work.”
This thrilled and blessed me so much, and when I told her Leah, she got a big smile on her face. Last year she bought another car. She’s now saving to get into her own rental place.
She got a piano keyboard and a mandolin, and is teaching herself how to play these instruments. She still takes violin lessons and plays beautifully! In fact, her instructor Emily encouraged her to start playing at weddings for side money!
This year Leah got the top of her ear lobe pierced. She got a fluffy, black and grey female kitten named Jax, who is adorable!
As I’ve shared, Leah is an amazing, self-taught artist. Leah took a HUGE step of faith with her art. She now has her own online art store. You can see her art and buy her beautiful, unique products at Society 6 here.
Be sure to check it out! You can also follow Leah on Instagram @ www.instagram.com/leahmerae, where she’s sharing her art that she’s creating from daily art prompts (both digital art as well as watercolors and acrylics).
Leah has signed up for online digital art college classes for later this summer. I’m so excited that she’s doing this, and hope she completes it!
Sometimes when Leah tries to do her art work, her kitten Jax and her sister Eden’s kittens Vader and Hoggle climb on her desk, lol. Here she’s trying to eat her breakfast muffin, with Jax perched on her shoulder and Eden’s yellow kitten Hoggle on her lap, wanting the muffin. Jax, Vader, and Hoggle are cousins. I may write a children’s book about these three cute kittens, and have asked Leah to illustrate it! She’s thinking about it! I hope she does.
This week Ray, Leah, and I went to the Kansas City zoo while Jax was being spayed at a clinic in KC. While we were there, a severe thunderstorm seemed to come out of nowhere and we got soaked!
We had to go to the lion exhibit shelter for protection against the downpour of rain and the close lightning. Then a tornado warning siren went off, and we had to run to a building where the staff was directing a crowd of people to go inside. Thank God it passed quickly and we were all okay. It was scary but exciting–an unforgettable memory. But we laughed and had fun! Here is a great, happy pic of Leah. She still looks beautiful soaking wet!
At the zoo, we saw a bird show, which we’d never done before (Ray’s idea). They are well-trained birds, and I was shocked that they flew all over the auditorium. They had an African cha-cha bird, parokeets, parrots, a hawk, and a white, snow-colored owl. Ray and Leah also pet stingrays in a pool, something they’d never done before. Leah enjoyed both of these. I was so happy to see HER laughing and happy!
Just as the birds stretched their wings to fly at the bird show at the zoo, our “eaglet” Leah is stretching her wings to fly this year, too. I miss her so much, but I’m so proud seeing her go to new heights of faith.by