Looking Back and Moving Forward

We’ve made it another time around the sun, and I’m in that nostalgic state of looking back on 2016 with my feet moving ahead to 2017. How about a recap?


The beginning of 2016 brought many things. First, it provided a small respite from the craziness of the holidays. It meant a short rest for me as I prepared to give birth at the beginning of February. I remember not being in a terrible hurry since I’ve learned that carrying a baby in the belly does mean free hands and generally good sleep. January also marked the beginning of another hardship- a huge hike in our rent which crippled us throughout the remainder of the year. This sparked a search for more affordable housing which was simply not anywhere to be found around here. At the suggestion of some people who love us, we looked into purchasing a home through Habitat for Humanity.


This was a wonderful month! Our thoughts were redirected to the new life in our family, Theodore Bates. He stole our hearts and took our focus off of the hardship. We were even able to purchase a very used van after not having a family car for two full years.


March was a month of getting used to our new family dynamic with a [thankfully] easy baby. It was also spent in anticipation of my sister’s upcoming wedding. I got a bridesmaid’s dress. Layla turned 6, I turned 26. Justin took me to see We The Kings (our first concert!)


Emilee got married. I gave a speech. We went out of town for the first time as a family of 5.


Things got real again. Still searching for a housing solution. Application finally went through for Habitat. We didn’t feel that great, awesome, we-just-made-a-good-adult-decision feeling, but still we trudged ahead. Wallace had his first, and hopefully his only, surgery. He also started calling me “mom” which was huge. I also made some awesome garments.


I made a quilt and started weaving bags. It was a good month with an attitude of looking forward to whatever God had planned for us. We were accepted into Habitat’s program. I saved a baby Mockingbird. Wallace started talking more often and with more clarity.


July brought a host of weaving. I loved making all those bags! I lost my dear friend and adopted grandmother, Ms. Winnie.


More weaving. Quilt making. Started making/had a call out for quilt blocks to make comfort quilts for a family who lost their home to a fire. Volunteered more than 100 hours for Habitat.


Another 100 volunteer hours. Custom making. Teddy started crawling. Knitting. Waiting to hear any information about a home.


More volunteering. More waiting. I received the AMH M100 to play with from Janome. I felt ready for change.


This month brought with it even more waiting. More uncertainty and a feeling of not having any control. We began exploring more options. I began knitting a sweater for Layla. I made a ton of bags and a project for Janome. I hosted the Shift A Long. Layla made a quilt top with her favorite fabric. We had the best Thanksgiving I can remember.


The month that we were given some clarity after months and months of prayer. A door finally opened that felt right, and we were able to close the one that didn’t. We felt great excitement and anticipation. Teddy started walking. I finished the sweater. I made even more bags and a quilt. We ended the month with We The King’s 10th annual hometown show. It was the best night in my memory.

moving forward

This is the part of the post I’m excited about. We have spent the better part of two years floating along, waiting for the sign of “what’s right for us”. Being a cautious couple, we have stayed in our box of what we know, not wanting to risk hurting our family in any way. Unfortunately that has meant the the hardships have increased and we have slowly done without more and more. In late October we reached the point of Justin and I skipping meals to feed the kids. It was ugly and I cringe admitting that. But I am because that’s where we were, but that is not at all where we are going. We spent a few years feeling beat down and helpless as we both worked as hard as we possibly could all the while getting very little return and watching the cost of living increase dramatically. We did the whole Habitat thing because we believed it was the best option we had even though we never have felt at peace about it.

In November, Justin and I both felt the door really closing on that front. Things were not going according to plan and we knew that in February our lease will be up and we would have nowhere to go if we didn’t have a home to move into. So we dared to look to our future, to what we have always wanted. We began searching for jobs and housing in North Carolina and Tennessee (I’m from NC, his family is from TN). Its where we think of raising our children and growing old together. To our surprise, we found opportunity in TN far better than anything we have found here. Jobs there are plentiful and offer better benefits. Its exactly what we have been looking for! We do not want to be dependent on others, and certainly not some organization for where we live and what we do. We don’t want to navigate through life with a small pay cap and hands tied behind our backs with no hope of better opportunities. That’s not the American dream! It’s changed a lot over the years, but certainly there is opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness still out there.

So. One week from today, Justin is making the move to Tennessee to start his new job. I’ll stay behind with the kids and move up with them at the end of February. Its exciting and terrifying, sad and happy all at the same time. It feels awfully adventurous leaving behind all that we know and the people we love to start fresh with the hope of a better life. We do move forward knowing that is absolutely the right thing for us. In a matter of a month every detail has fallen into place perfectly as God has paved the way for us. That feeling of peace we have prayed for has encompassed every decision made in this regard, and we are just thrilled. I know its going to be especially difficult for the children and I when reality sets in and we are there, but we are looking toward the future, and together as a unit we are committed to our new life.

Layla is excited about having chickens (so am I!). The boys are too young to know anything is happening. I’m eager to move to a place that has seasons and beautiful, beautiful terrain. I’m most excited to tackle this with my husband and kids. It feels like moving out West! Conquering the unknown with a happy determination.

Anyway, I will be sure to keep you all posted. I plan to be here in this space as much as I can. I know this post was not especially crafty, but I wanted to keep you posted on our big plans. Thank you so much for your constant support over the years. I’m looking forward to all that the next one has in store!


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Welcome to Olivia Jane Handcrafted! I'm Meredith and this is my creative journal. Here you'll find loads of inspiration for a handmade wardrobe, home decor, bags, and quilts. I even have plenty of projects and tutorials to get you started or help you along the way.

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