Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Season of Change

Well, here we go again!  It would seem that we are going to be having another season of change.  Joe and I have talked over our family's financial situation and come to the realization that we need to make changes.  They won't be easy, but are necessary.  Joe has been working a job for 2 years now at very low pay so that he can be home with the family more.  Well, it isn't working out anymore.  Prices are going up and the income isn't keeping up with the increases in the costs.  We have looked at it from every possible angle to find a different answer that would keep Joe home but there is only one option.....Joe is going back to truck driving.
Joe has 6 years of experience as a truck driver and loves the work.  It is the only professional training that he has for employment.  Over the past two years, he has enjoyed being home, but also has felt like a fish out of water.  In rural areas, there are not very many options for making a good income.  You have to commute to where the jobs are.  A common problem is that the fuel costs for commuting can be high enough to become yet another financial burden to the family.  You are left having to make tough decisions to take care of family needs.
We have done the truck driving jobs before and so we know what to expect.  My father and most of my uncles were truck drivers, as was Joe's Dad.  Joe and I used to team drive for a trucking company years ago until I was nearly 6 months pregnant with Abigail.  Then Joe went out on a truck without me for another 2 years.  We are both used to Joe being home each night.  The kids certainly are used to Daddy being home.  Abigail was 2 years old when he left truck driving and Micah has never experienced Daddy being gone for a long period.  This will make it a tough adjustment for the kids especially.
This time around, Joe is planning to work as a solo driver.  He won't be training new drivers as he did before.  Finding a co-driver to team up with is also a challenge.  Team driving is similar to a marriage.  You have 2 people living for an extended period of time in very close quarters.  If there is a personality conflict or you have a co-driver who is lazy about his driving, it can be just a stressful as an unhappy marriage.  It is difficult to find a co-driver that shares your work ethics and also has a personality that matches well with your own.
It will be hard at first for me to get used to Joe being gone again.  Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be canning up some meals for him to take along.  Then, once he is on the truck, I will continue to get meals stocked up in the pantry.  When I first did this a few years ago, we found that Joe's food bill for the month dropped to $150 per month with his taking home canned soups, stews, and other meals in the canning jars.  He would heat the food up in a small "lunchbox" cooker.  It is called a lunchbox cooker due to it looking exactly like a black lunch box with an electrical cord that plugs into the 12 volt (cigarette lighter) outlet in the truck.  Joe would buy small foil bread pans that fit inside the cooker to heat the food in.  The pans then became the dish he would eat out of.  Even with the cost of the foil pans, the overall cost was far less than Joe having to eat at the truck stops.  Not to mention the home canned was much healthier too!  On average, he took 48 pint jars of food with him each month.  He also had a gallon size plastic jar of homemade granola and plenty of dried fruit trail mixes.  For his first few days out, I always sent along some fresh baked cookies and some homemade flat bread.  He loved it!
It is going to be very different this time when Joe leaves out on a truck.  Not only will I have Abigail, but now there is Micah.  We have the blessing of having sold our sheep, so I won't have to worry about tending them & being attacked again like before.  The only animals that we currently have is our dog and a few chickens that were given to us to free range.  The chickens simply eat the bugs that they find while scratching the soil and roost in the trees near the house.  The only somewhat difficult part of Joe's being gone will be changing out the propane tanks & taking them to be filled.  One 26 gallon tank lasts about a month.  We are looking at the option of setting up 2 filled tanks with a regulator in between so that when one tank gets low, I can switch to the second tank without having to disconnect anything.  This should give me plenty of propane to last until Joe gets home again. We can't have home delivery as our tanks hold far less than what the 100 gallon delivery minimum.  This other method should work just fine.
The kids and I have been in a routine now that will continue to work well after Joe goes out on the truck.  I think the hardest part will be the loneliness that will be felt.  While I do know more people than I did when he drove before, it isn't the same as having him here.  One person referred to a trucker's wife as being a stay-at-home single parent that gets a paycheck twice a month.  I have to admit that in many ways it can feel like that.   One way that I helped to combat the loneliness was to have lots of pen pals.  Having those letters to read & to write to others were great.  When I felt lonely, I could go back and read them again.  Joe was always great about surprising me with postcards or other mail while he was gone.  Of course there is also his text messages & phone calls.  Another way that I found peace was to spend more time in the Bible and also listening to recorded sermons.  Whether the sermons came from the church we attended at that time or through another sermon tape ministry, they were a wonderful uplift to my heart.  One of my favorite resources for recorded sermons are the ones from Charity Ministries.  They are an Anabaptist (Mennonite) organization that provides the sermons for free.  You can either download an MP3 recording or you can order a free tape/CD to be mailed to you.
It will be interesting to see where the Lord leads us this time.  He never takes us to a place that is boring.  He does however always takes the road with us and never leaves us to flounder on our own.
May the Lord's blessings be with thee,
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