While we were working on getting the house ready to be listed, Michael was offered the Civil Engineer position in Elgin. I was not sold on this idea. He had worked in the Civil field before, when we were engaged, and disliked it so much that that he left the field for another job in Texas. I was not going to move across the country again. That was not an option I was even willing to consider.
Michael felt strongly that he should accept this position in Elgin. It was a job. It offered some security to our precarious financial situation. He was willing to take just about anything, I think. I really appreciate this about my husband. That he is so concerned with our well-being, that he would take just about any work that he could get, even if it was something he knew he wouldn't really enjoy.
At the end of our many discussions, and a lot of sadness for me, he took the position, and started his new job on July 20th, the same day we received the offer on our house.
Throughout this process, I kept praying. I said countless Memorares and Rosaries. It was the only thing I had left, the only thing I could do for our future. The next day, July 21st, God spoke to me. I'm sure of it. We received a donation request from the Padre Pio Foundation. Big and bold on the front of the envelope, it said:
“Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
What a perfectly timed message. This became my mantra, in a way. Whenever I would start to feel anxious, I would remember the quote. Anytime anything came up with selling our house, or packing things up, or “how are we going to do XYZ”, I would stop myself. One thing at a time, Jess. It’s so hard not to worry though, especially when it feels like everything you once knew is gone like a dream after you wake up.
In early August, I decided to hop in the car and drive up to Northern Illinois to stay with Grandpa and Mimi (Michael's Dad and step-Mom). I use the term “decided” very loosely here. Really, I had a mini/major meltdown because the kids were being kids… and did not seem to understand that their pounding and jumping and banging was giving me a heart attack. (Because we’d just spent all that time and money fixing the house up, got an offer and now had to keep it *perfect*)
I called Michael, hysterical, and he told me to go to his Dad’s. He realized we needed some time away from the house and some serious time with him. Because of the crazy commute, he was only able to come home on the weekends. But, if we were at his Dad’s house, we could see him every night. I knew he was right. I needed to see him, and the kids needed to see him. So, up we went.
Since we were there, we decided to do some house hunting to help us get excited about the future. We began looking in St. Charles, Batavia and Geneva. Very beautiful communities, situated right along the Fox River. But, nothing struck us as home. Of the 15-20 houses we saw, they were all either too small, or over budget, most of them needed repairs, and all of them needed updating. It just was not doable for us.
So, we expanded our search the following weekend to South Elgin and Algonquin. And had basically the same results. There was one house I was so sure was the one. But, it was one of those houses that looks great in pictures, but in reality, needs so much work.
Every time we came back from looking (disappointed, I might add) his Dad would drop hints that we should look around where they lived. The cost of living was so much less there than in the city. Michael’s commute wouldn’t be terrible, an easy 60 miles on a three lane highway. After seeing so many houses within 30 miles of Elgin, we knew what we could get around there and we weren’t impressed. So, we agreed to talk to a realtor who was a member of Michael's Dad's church.
We met him at an open house he was hosting one Sunday. When we walked inside, I just started crying. It was the nicest place we'd seen in weeks. And, I felt my heart change in an instant. After talking with Michael some more, we decided to really look around that area. I saw quite a few houses that I really liked the following week.
I think part of my attraction was that the city kind of reminds me of my hometown, how I grew up. It isn't suburbia, but it isn't the country, either. That's what drew me to it. I finally felt peaceful about this move because I could see us living there. It would be hard, because we’d be even further from my family and our friends. But, there was peace.
And, Lord knows, that's what I was really searching for. That was the heart of all of my prayers. God, give me peace in wherever you lead us.