I haven't paused to catch my breath in about a year. The sprint we've been on has been like no other adventure we've encountered so far. No other. No amount of children or anything so far has been like this last year. It wasn't horrible. I don't mean to make it sound like that. In fact, in some ways, it was incredibly beautiful. Difficulty breeds perseverance, darkness gives birth to hope, and uncertainty to trust in our Savior.
I still remember our first night in Colorado. We pulled up just as the sun was setting around 9 pm. It was beautiful everywhere. We found our apartment and my children immediately ran for the playground to stretch their legs after hours of driving. Yet before they reached the swings, they saw the grass. Grass. We hadn't seen grass in months after living in the desert. Without any prompting from me, they plunged into its softness, rolling around belly laughing. The night was warm and crisp. We had made it. A new state again. All new surroundings, new people, new systems, new school for Steve and the kids, new pressures and new beginnings.
The grass was a good omen.
After getting our keys and such, we settled the kids and the children climbed into their sleeping bags to calm down for the night. I went to explore the kitchen-my domain, and quickly discovered there wasn't a dishwasher. No dishwasher. As that realization began to wash over me, I felt it might sweep me away...but I quickly dismissed it and focused on where I would put things. It was the first sign though that things may be more difficult than my optimistic self might think.
I moved from the kitchen into the family room. The apartment was furnished so, there was a kitchen table and chairs. There was a spot for the tv. There was a couch. And yet there was not room for it all. While Steve was upstairs showering after a long day of driving, I imagined in my head how we could place the furniture to have both a "family room" and a place to eat dinner. It seemed literally impossible.
But where there is a will, there is a way....
I went back through the kitchen just a few feet away. Would I be able to fit the "third" of my kitchen that I had brought? It would be tight. Where would a pantry go? My mind began to swirl. Instead of worrying, I decided to retrieve some things we needed from our car. Feeling triumphant that I found what we needed, I bounded back to our little abode determined to continue organizing things in my mind.
However, my optimism soon faded when I found the door locked. I was locked out. I pounded on the door. How could it be locked? I had checked the handle as I left to be sure it was open. But it was a new door, I was in a new place, it was late now, and my assumption that our new door acted like our last door had proven unwise. Much to my surprise, it was locked, it was the only way in, and my husband couldn't hear me upstairs because he was showering.
So I plopped down outside the door, listened to the crickets, took in the sweet night air and welcomed Colorado.
I knew I would love it. From the second Steve got connected with Margaret (his advisor) I knew I would LOVE Colorado. I didn't know how hard it would be to accomplish what we needed to do there. But I knew that I would be head over heels in love with Colorado. I always say that Fort Collins had me at hello. And that is true.
We spent some of the HARDEST months of our lives so far, there. But the hardest are always the sweetest too, right?
Pretty quickly, after that night, we plunged into the depths. Into the depths of darkness. It was a journey we didn't expect. It was long. It was a grind. It was immense.
But God was long suffering, He was a daily companion and He was bigger.
As things come to me, I will chronicle that time. It's the story of Colorado. Our story. It's one of incredible heart, fight and victory. God's victory. Only He could've done what He did. And all through the darkness, He weaved such intense light into our lives through friends, our church community, LOVE from neighbors and our kids' incredible school.
I am proud of that time. It was a time of weakness for us. But God was strong. It was a time of intense focus and God was the source. I am proud of my husband and the incredible spirit he showed in overcoming times of defeat and pushing on to victory. And I know, it took an amazing amount of courage to keep pushing, to keep fighting and to slay the dragons he slayed. When God says His strength is perfect, He means it.
I haven't even opened this blog in months because I had no self reflection in me. None. It was one of the first times in my life that I simply trudged on. I laughed when I saw that the last post was of us vacationing in Breckenridge, CO just a few weeks before we moved to Colorado from Albuquerque. You see, I have not chronicled this last year on paper. There was no time. I had no time to process anything. And you know what, that too was an experience. I didn't pine for yesterday or long for the future. I just lived and took it all in...all the hard and all the beautiful. There was LOTS of both. I loved the people God put in my path and held on for the ride He had us on. I simply lived in the moment.
But now it's time to tell the story. I don't know how consistent I will be. But I will tell it.
Into the depths...the story of our beloved Colorado. And the time we took our amazing five children to grad school for a PhD in Mathematics. A time when every ounce of strength and courage we had within was expended to run through the tape.
The sweetest and most difficult of times. Full of memories, laughter and wonderful, life changing friends.
I am Nikki Dauphin, wife to Steve since July 2002, and mom to four boys and one little girl. Currently my husband is pursuing his PhD in mathematics, so as you can imagine, with five kids in tow, there are many adventures to behold! I'm learning how to raise a brood of boys and one precious princess, be a homemaker, how to be a lovely wife to my handsome and dashing husband and how to love those around me. Stop and stay awhile. Family stories, recipes, musings on life and lessons I'm learning are all a part of this blog. I love the life I've been given and thank God for His many blessings.
Steve-My amazing, fix-it, brilliant, math-loving, puzzle-solving husband is a Math PhD student pursuing his graduate degree through Colorado State University. He is also a Year Round Graduate Intern for Sandia National Labs researching and working on projects related to national security and preparing for his dissertation. We met at Cal Poly, SLO and were married in 2002. Seriously, he's my best friend.
Isaac-Laughter. My precious firstborn. Blue-eyed, blondie, logical, lefty. Particular, orderly, courageous, funny, and intelligent. Sees the world in patterns, numbers, colors and shapes. My first son. My joy.
Caleb-Brave. My mischevious secondborn. Brown-haired, coal-eyed, soldier. Needs explanations about how the world works. "Mathy", inquisitive, architectural and mechanical. Silly, passionate, tough, long-suffering and smart. My second son. My love.
Joshua-Saved by the Lord. My irreplaceable thirdborn. Bubbly, gregarious, social and playful. Loves to be surrounded by his family. Cuddly, kissable, chubby and charming. Life of the party, full of joy, overflowing with humor and laughter. My third son. My light.
Elliana-The Lord Has Heard. My long-awaited daughter. Petite, dark-eyed, beauty. Strong, coordinated, cheeky and spunky. Sharp as a tack and a flitting socialite. Loved by every member of her family. My fourth born. My only daughter. My treasure.
Nathan-God Has Given. My fourth son. Yet, it never gets old. My youngest little gift. Gentle, strong, sweet, angelic. Blonde and light-eyed. Littlest of them all but full of life and love. My fifth born. My littlest man. God's given. My gift.
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