Denner Family Update

As I write this, Phil is working through his second week of school….Hurray!! I can’t believe that we are here. After more than a year and a half of prep, 7 prerequisite classes, and a move half way across the country, Phil has finally begun nursing school! But I guess we need a quick recap of the last seven months, after all we’ve been in Illinois since the end of May.

Shortly after we arrived, Phil’s family left for Missouri (in case you are new here, we moved from PA out to Illinois to live with Phil’s family while he is in nursing school). This wasn’t the original plan, but with COVID-19, a work opportunity came up for Phil’s dad and so they moved there, temporarily. Phil was able to transfer to a Davita (the dialysis clinic where he worked since spring of 2019) location here in Illinois, while continuing to work on his prerequisite classes. I was SO blessed to not have to start working right away, which gave me so much quality time with Isa. I cherish all those extra snuggles, book readings, and walks with her.

This summer also gave me the opportunity to do more cooking and cleaning. This might not sound like a benefit to a lot of people haha, but for me it was. Obviously, the more exciting of the two is cooking. For most of our marriage, I had been working at least two jobs and was not home very much. Phil also worked a lot of hours, but since his day normally started a 4am, he was home earlier and so he ended up doing a lot of the cooking and cleaning. I did not do a ton of cooking growing up and when I lived by myself, I ate/cooked very simply. I really enjoyed trying new recipes and getting more comfortable with cooking (which is still a work in progress).

At the end of August, I started a job working with a homeschool curriculum company. I make phone calls to check in on families and see how I can be praying for them. I sometimes answer questions (or transfer to a consultant if I don’t know the answer), or am a sounding board for what people are going through. It has been a more emotional job than I originally expected (which I will share more at another time), but I feel beyond blessed to be a part of this ministry. On the side, I also work as a consultant for Usborne books, which is basically a homeschool mom’s dream (wonderful educational books for free or super discounted). Both of these jobs have allowed me to work from home and be SUPER flexible.

After my sister-in-love, Danielle, got married the rest of the family moved home from Missouri in October. The youngest four Denner kids are still living at home and are homeschooled. During the day my wonderful mother-in-law and the girls (the youngest 3) help take care of Isabel while I work out in the office. Not only am I able to pick the hours that I work, but I have also been able to continue breastfeeding, can put her down for some of her naps, work on her laundry throughout the day (cloth diapers make for quite a few extra loads), and take the day off if she is sick or really just needs some extra time with me. Now that she is getting older, she also has been able to come out to the office and play for a little, while I am making phone calls.

Isabel is almost 10 months old now; I cannot believe how the time has flown. She has quite the personality and entertains everybody around her. She makes the funniest faces and likes to talk and laugh nonstop. Isabel is quite laid back in most ways, unless you are trying to dress her or when she is eating (she growls the whole time and is very impatient). For the most part she sleeps through the night and is a good napper. We have definitely been spoiled with an easy child. Just in the last two weeks she learned to climb the stairs (she climbed the entire flight, the very first time), she speed crawls, and likes to walk along the furniture. She loves to dance, clap her hands, and is starting to communicate, with us, a lot. Every day she seems less and less like a baby, and I try to treasure every moment.

We have been living in the main house with Phil’s family, in one of his sister’s rooms (she is in the guestroom, as it is smaller). Originally, the plan was for us to be living in the Villa (a detached, 3 car garage that they are working to turn into an office and little apartment) on their property, but with the pandemic and being gone for so long, the project was put on pause for a while. At this point, the majority of things are done; it’s mostly just the bathroom that needs to be completed. People always cringe or ask how awful it is, when we mention that we are living inside with everyone. Honestly, it has not been bad. For the most part I have actually enjoyed it; it has been an adjustment, of course, and has had its share of stress and disagreements. But just because something isn’t super easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I think we have all been learning and growing closer through the process.

The holiday season was a really enjoyable. Holiday events and traditions are extra fun in big families. Things like cutting down our own Christmas tree, Christmas cookie baking, and watching old Christmas movies like ‘White Christmas’. We were so blessed to get to see most of Phil’s siblings. In December Phil, also surprised me with a birthday trip to Florida and one last ‘fling’ before buckling down and starting school (I’ll share more details in another blog post).  Phil finished up with the last of the prerequisite classes right before we left for Florida. We enjoyed having more free time with Phil over the last month.

Now, until May of 2022, Phil will not be working, but in school fulltime. Currently, most of his classes are online which saves 2 hours of commute a day. This has allowed more study time, more time with Isa and other things around the house. This won’t always be the case while he is in school, so I am so thankful for the time we have now. I have been so spoiled to have so much help from Phil’s family so far and I look forward to the next 16 months, as I spend more time with our family, Isa continues to grow and learn, and Phil begins to work towards developing his career as a nurse.

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Trista Photography

My Word for 2021

In some ways, I am still processing through the past year. I think a lot of people probably have been.  I know that some people are miraculously hoping for 2021 to ‘get back to normal’ or be so much better than 2020. Yes, God can do miracles, but he doesn’t always choose to work that way. And no matter what, the things that happened over the past year won’t just disappear. So now we are left wondering what the future holds for us, for our country, and for the world.

As I look towards the future in 2021, I have been praying about what God has for me this year & as in the last few previous years, I asked him to give me a word for 2021. It didn’t take too much time before I knew; Contentment. I couldn’t help but smile-big picture speaking, it seems a bit ironic. In my experience, God often seems to work that way.  In the last few years, I have grown a lot in the area of contentment, but I still have so far to go.  At first the idea of contentment being my theme for my relationship with God and my life seemed a bit daunting. But as I continued to pray and process through last year and what I’ve been learning and where God is leading me, I know that it is just what I need.

On a personal level, I already know a lot of what this year holds for us. The last few years have contained a lot of changes and excitement; getting married, a few moves, career changes, and having our first baby of course. But this year will be more predictable.  We will be in Illinois with Phil’s family, Phil will be in school, and I will be working my job. I have lots of dreams and ideas for the future and sometimes it is easy for me to be so focused on the future that I am not really embracing the present; this also opens the door to comparison  when I see others who currently where I want to be.  I think this is normal for so many of us.

This year provides a HUGE opportunity for me to learn to be content with the predictable; where God has us RIGHT now.  The idea of contentment is overarching-of trusting God more fully, of being present in the moment, of finding the beauty in the everyday and of not missing the opportunity to impact others where God has me.  However, on a more ‘big picture’ level, there is a lot of uncertainty, upheaval, and distress going on around us. It is so easy to start to question God and get really worked up about what is happening in the world. God is also giving me an opportunity here- “Do you trust me? Will you choose to be content in me?  Will you choose contentment, knowing that my ways are higher than yours? And I know what I am doing?”

Looking forward, I am excited for what God has for me in 2021. Where are you at? Maybe you are still struggling to process through 2020, maybe this upcoming year seems bleak or hopeless to you. What is God calling you to this year? Has he given you a word/theme for the year? The world around us may seem out of control and your life may feel that way too, but God is in control. And He has so much MORE for us than we are often able to see.