So much great input! Thanks everyone - you are a great help! I have been a member at pattern review for 2 or 3 years but have never utilized their sewing machine reviews until this week. Boy have I spent a lot of time there reading. I think my eyes are crossed. haha
I checked out a local shop yesterday that sold Janomes. Nice older gentleman but had a difficult time convincing him that I needed something with a larger throat. He kept telling me all machines were the same. He was still trying to sell me a Magnolia which has a throat of just over 6" even as I was leaving. He is keeping his eye out for a used machine for me though. Checked out a shop across town today that sells Brother and Janome. When I told him my wishlist and budget he politely told me that he only sold high end machines and basically ignored me after that. Have one more shop to check out tomorrow. I know they sell Babylock but not sure if anything else. I don't mind a used machine at all and will be taking my time to find the machine that seems to fit me best.
I sincerely appreciate all the help and hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!