There's no doubt about it. 2011 has been a year of changes for me.
The biggest and best of those was getting married :)!
I am not the sort who likes a lot of changes. I like stability in life. A steady job, a place to live, a reliable car, etc... 2011 has challenged all of those for me...
In February, my boss in QLD retired, sold his farm, and I was made redundant. I had worked for him for almost 6 years, and he had always made a definite effort to have work for me (To the point that he planted extra crops when the regular work wasn't enough). And it wasn't often that I was forced to have time off work. It had been a good job.
But 2010 brought someone into my life that made a few changes necessary, so when my work finished, I moved interstate to be nearer to her (by then she was my girlfriend, and I was already fairly certain I wanted to ask her to be my wife). So I moved, 860kms later I arrived at Cherith's sister's house, where I had been offered a place to stay until I had work and could afford a rental or whatever else I could arrange... But for three months, work in that area eluded me. I was told later that jobs are in very high demand around there, because the area is effectively overpopulated, as three universities bring a lot of people to the area.
In the meantime, Cherith was still studying primary teaching. But things weren't going very well. She had some fairly worrying health symptoms. Headaches that seem to come out of nowhere, severe, sudden, and seemingly unexplainable. They seemed to be worst after she had attended classes, but they weren't limited to that. It made studying nigh impossible. But Cherith was determined to continue. She pushed on, but it got worse. One day, two minutes after walking into a classroom that had been cleaned only half an hour earlier, she was hit by severe headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It couldn't continue. Cherith talked to one of her lecturers about it. She told Cherith that she was displaying all the symptoms of MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. She asked Cherith where she was living, and after describing the place, her lecturer shook her head and said it was no wonder Cherith was having problems (the house was almost right next to the main freeway between Sydney and Brisbane, and on the corner of the main road through the town as well.) The pollution had been so bad, I had been wiping an oily residue off my windscreen every few days, the toxic fumes in the area so potent, they would settle on the car fairly quickly.
It seemed Cherith couldn't continue, and when she realised she had 2 days to make a decision due to academic cut off dates for classes, she decided to put her studies on hold and work on her health and our impending wedding. Meanwhile, I was still unemployed. Then I heard of a potential job in the country, close to where Cherith's parents live... I decided to go and see. We had been planning to visit her parents, and on the way we stopped at this place and I asked the owner of the farm if he had any work... His answer was that he didn't right then, but might have in a few weeks. Two days later he rang and asked me to come to work the next day. And so I did. Then started the busy season on this olive farm, and I had work 6 days a week, and later on even 10 or 12 hours a day. I started saving for the wedding in earnest, feeling like I had a lot of time to make up.
I'm not going to recite everything that happened. Some of those things I have written already, ad would bore you all to tears by writing it all again. But, God had looked after us, and we enjoyed an amazing honeymoon in the fantastic green hills of country NSW.
After the wedding, we had to find a place of our own to live. I asked my boss if he had any ideas, and he arranged with a friend of his for us to have a house of our own to live... It is lovely quiet country. Our nearest neighbors are not in sight, and we can't hear cars driving along the road we live on. Cherith's health has definitely been picking up since we have been living in the country. The fresh clean air has been very good for her, and being able to get out of doors more often has helped too I'm sure. Oh, her problems aren't over, because she is still very sensitive to chemicals, and most likely always will be. Some air fresheners will have her holding her head in pain, and paint fumes are unbearable for her. But we manage so much better since moving away from the F3 freeway in Cooranbong, and the toxic air that would leave partly burnt petrol residue on my car windscreen.
But life in the country has it's challenges. Losing my car to the extreme weather conditions (flooding), was definitely hard to deal with, but thankfully it was insured, so not I just have to save up for the $1200 claim excess... Having a lot of time off work because of the flooding also didn't help, at a time when we had seemingly a mountain of bills to pay off. But we aren't starving...
And it takes a lot to get used to the isolation and loneliness that can be overwhelming at times. It is 45 minutes drive to town. Some days when I am at work she struggles with the isolated feeling of the place. When I am at home however, we both revel in the fact that we have our own place, that the neighbors are not close enough to bother us, that we have enough space for a nice garden, and that we have unlimited water to use for the garden. Life is good, and not just when everything is perfect.
I wouldn't want to start 2012 any other way, than simply being thankful for where we are and what we have. There are lots of things we need, but simply can't afford at the moment (like a lawn mower and brush cutter), but God has provided so many things already, it'd be ridiculous to think He won't keep doing so. And so I am thankful for everything He has done for us the past year. It has been an amazing year. But 2012 is going to be better yet.... After all, in 2012 we are going to start the year off married, living in a home of our own, enjoying each other and the blessings God keeps giving us. Life really is great...