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April Jeppson: My first weeks in Albert Lea and overcoming trials

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband received a promotion. This increase in title and pay meant that we had to move from Iowa City to Albert Lea. This would put us closer to our family and cut our drive time in half when we wanted to visit. I was seven months pregnant at the time, so we stayed until the birth of our daughter before we started the moving process.

April Jeppson

The day after Emmalynn was born, my husband was in a car accident coming home from the hospital to visit me. A semi-truck totaled Brian’s car but thankfully no one was hurt. When Emmalynn was a week old we came up to Albert Lea for two days to look at some houses. Our Realtor, Emelie, showed us 26 houses in two days. We were on a time crunch, and she totally came through. There were houses that only Brian saw because I had to stay in the car to nurse.

By the time Emma was 3 weeks old, movers were driving all our earthly possessions to a storage unit. Although we had found a home, there were still people living in it for a few more weeks so off to the hotel we went. We spent a total of four weeks living in various hotel rooms throughout this town. It was my husband, myself, our 2 1/2-year-old son and our month-old daughter sharing the standard two queen hotel room I’m sure you’ve all stayed in. 

I’ll paint you a picture. We are brand new residents of this town. My husband drives to work every day to his new job. He is driving our only vehicle since our other car was totaled just a few weeks prior. I am now essentially trapped in a hotel with two small children. One who wants to run around and play and the other who enjoys crying when all I really want to do is close my eyes and sleep for a moment. 

We made the most of it though. I bought a plastic bowling ball set and we’d bowl down the hotel hallways. When Brian would get home in the afternoon we’d all go swimming and out for dinner. If the weather was nice, I’d take the kids in the stroller and walk to Shopko. I dreamt about walking them to one of the local parks, but not knowing the public bathroom situation and being alone with two small kids in a town I wasn’t familiar with, the anxiety of it all crippled me into spending most days inside until my husband got home. 

So why am I sharing all this? 

Emma just had her 10th birthday this week. Every year on her birthday I think back to when we moved here. A flood of memories pour over me. Although I always try and find the joy in a situation, it was one of the hardest times of my life. I felt so alone and scared and overwhelmed, and we all cried — a lot. 

Those first few months were very isolating and painful. It was a year before we were able to get a second vehicle. Those days required me to grow in order to get through them. The level of compassion and empathy that I have for new moms, new people in town or anyone that feels alone — I don’t think I could have learned it any other way. 

“God uses trials to shape us into the type of people we have to be in order to fully enjoy the future opportunities He has prepared for us.” — Hank Smith

Thinking about all the people I’ve met and things I’ve done, and as I continue to see the opportunities he has in store for my family here in Albert Lea, I’d gladly live in that 200-square-foot room for a month again. Well maybe not gladly, but I’d do it all over again.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.