And what a blessing it's been! Our old house was small, poorly laid out, and (biggest problem) absolutely falling apart. We have long-term plans to buy a home, but that isn't realistically happening for at least a couple of years, and I was genuinely worried that the house we were living in just wasn't going to hold up that long. Honestly, I wasn't sure what the solution was going to be. We were trying to tweak our financial plan in a way that would allow us to buy sooner, but it just wasn't looking realistic. And with nine kids in residence full time, plus a dog and cat, finding a different rental to move to (especially that fit our budget) seemed impossible. So I finally threw up my hands, figuratively, and I said to God, "God, you know what my family needs. I'm trusting you to find a way to provide it." As we all know, God's plans have a way of being better than anything we could have come up with on our own, and very shortly after that, we learned our next-door neighbor was planning to move. A quick call to the landlords confirmed that we could take the place, and now here we are. Larger rooms, an extra bedroom, and sturdy floors! Thanks be to God! This place is literally the answer to a prayer.
Three weeks later, my six school kids said goodbye to classes for the summer, and I took advantage of having older kids at home to spend some time giving the old house as thorough a cleaning as its structural issues would allow. (And then spent a couple weeks getting the new house back to some semblance of order, because, well, it looked like ten kids had been in it largely unsupervised for a couple of days.) And now, it's locked up and waiting. Supposedly, they know someone who wants to fix it with an eye toward renting it and trading the cost of labor and materials for rent. I haven't seen him yet. Personally, we're in agreement that the best fix for that place would be to tear it down and start over, but we aren't carpenters, so we shall see.
There was also, just this past weekend, a day trip to Shiloh, TN with our teens and one of their friends, to visit the National Military Park there, which preserves the battlefields where the Civil War battles of Shiloh and Corinth were fought. It can't be properly appreciated in a single day, and we hope to return. So many men (many actually boys no older than those we brought with us) died there over those two days.
It's chilling to look at the battlefields and think about the horrors they've seen. It seems so at odds with the serene, peaceful environment of a place that was originally named for peace.
Our annulment process is moving along, if rather slowly, but I find it hard to complain too loudly about the slowness, because a lot of rescheduled appointments have been caused by unexpected deaths or other hardships among our parish family. Those things require our priest's attention more urgently, and play havoc with his already busy schedule, so we've been pushed back a few times. I'm not especially good at waiting, but I can manage compassion fairly well, so patience is a bit easier to find than it might otherwise be. Father alluded at our last meeting that we might be able to be married around this time next year, but if the process keeps getting delayed, I'm not holding my breath on that. I just keep trying to remind myself that God truly does know best.
I actually tried on The Dress the other day for the first time, and came to the surprising realization that aside from a few pounds for comfort, it pretty much fits. I guess wedding dress sizing has been changed to more accurately reflect real world sizes since I bought my last one in 2000. Thankfully, I have a friend who can take it in for me if too many of the baby pounds come off between now and whenever. Yes, I know. Perhaps it's a little presumptuous to have a dress already. But I am pretty confident, and it was hard to pass up the deal. It's modest enough, I actually really like it, it's a realistic size, and it was a fraction of the price I'd have paid if I'd ended up buying new at the last second. Having what seems like an unlimited amount of time for planning at least has the bright side of allowing me to keep an eye out for and take advantage of bargains. And who doesn't like a good bargain?