The wilderness

>> Saturday, October 8, 2005

The ten years between 1988 and 1998, I have come to term as my "wilderness" years. These were the years where I slowly began to give up on life's offering me anything but the ordinary. My marriage wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either. Life became the same old drudgery day in and day out.

1988 was a good year. After three years of struggle and riding the emotional roller coaster with infertility treatments, our daughter, Lauren was conceived in January and born in late September. She was the bright spot, and for a few months it seemed that perhaps our marriage was going to improve because of the advent of this little person in our lives. Our relationship, however, didn't improve. We turned our attentions entirely on our child and lavished all of the attention that should have otherwise been lavished upon our marriage, upon her. Before long another child arrived--Heather, in July of 1990 and yet another, Nathan, in February of 1992. I poured myself into my children and I neglected myself. I gained weight. My music faded to the point that it was almost non-existent. In those years, my husband and I attempted to get our marriage on track--we saw a marriage counselor, but when things really started to focus on the lack of intimacy in our relationship, he bailed out. When Nathan was about six weeks old, I nearly left my husband. It was shortly after our 10th wedding anniversary and I told him that if things didn't improve dramatically, that I would take our three children and move back to Oklahoma, (We were living in St. Petersburg, Florida by this time). This sent him into a panic and in typical fashion for him, he met with the challenge by running away from it. His answer to everything was to relocate. By this point I was too tired and too bogged down in my maternal responsibilities to fight him. He obtained a pastorate in another mission area, this time in Montana. We moved our young family from sunny, hot Florida to the frigid plains of Montana in the fall of 1992.

Our first 18 months in Montana were difficult and tumultuous. We moved there in the year that Montana experienced the coldest winter on record in nearly 40 years. Temperatures dipped to thirty-five degrees below zero and my little Florida-born babies didn't take to it well. Lauren, who was all ready plagued with allergies and chronic ear infections, stayed sick the entire winter, and Nathan wasn't much better. I wasn't well either. It seemed that every flu bug that came through, I caught it. I spent more time nursing sick children and being sick myself to do much of anything else. To make matters worse, we experienced conflict with our new congregation right from the start. Conflicts escalated so quickly that by Christmas of 1993, my husband was forced to resign his pastorate and accept a new position in Billings, which was about 100 miles west of where we were. Billings was a small city, about 100,000, but the largest city in a 600 mile radius. To the north were plains and then Canada. To the south was Wyoming and the beautiful Beartooth Mountain range (part of the Rockies). To the west was Boseman, and more mountains, Big Sky, and several other ski resorts. Billings was a lovely city, full of culture, wooded parks, and tree-lined streets.

Billings was a very musical city and it was here that I found opportunities to recapture some of my music. I taught piano and voice lessons and I had so many students that I had a waiting list. I also played in a semi-professional bell choir called Bellissimo!, which I loved. I began to make friends and to gain a reputation as an excellent musician and teacher. We had a lovely old home on a beautiful, historic street. It had an expansive yard with several trees and a lush crab apple tree right in the center of the front yard. I worked hard painting and re-papering the master bedroom, kitchen, both bathrooms, and dinning room/living areas of our house and it turned out to be one of the loveliest homes we had ever lived in.

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