Tag Archives: job

All Grace Abounding

27 Oct

IMG_20151013_151122On my way to the grocery store while Travis was in Colorado for eight days elk hunting, I realized that sadly, his being gone actually didn’t feel that much different than his being home (in terms of how much I do taking care of the house and girls). He’s been working so much that it feels somewhat odd when he’s not working; when weekends are spent doing non-work things, like hanging out, running errands, chipping away at projects; when I actually see my husband for more than an hour or two at a time.

His work schedule has been so crazy for the last I-can’t-even-remember-how-long that instead of waiting for Travis to go do fun stuff like the zoo, corn maze, and pumpkin patch, I’ve just started doing those things without him. I’ve stopped expecting him to get off work at a certain time. I’ve (mostly) stopped hoping he’ll spend time with us in the evening. I’m still disappointed when Travis mentions that he has to work for a few hours, especially on weekends, but overall, I’ve adjusted my expectations to be that Travis won’t be hanging out with us.

Do I think that that’s the ideal way to handle this situation? No. I believe strongly in the importance of a husband and father spending quality time with his wife and kids, so I will fight against Travis’ absence being a long-term normal thing. But let me tell you, adjusting my expectations in this way has been a heck of a lot easier – on both me and my marriage – than feeling constant disappointment and unrealized hopes. Doing fun things with my girls and staying busy helps me cope with the ache of a heart that craves more time with my husband.

Travis doesn’t like working this much. He would cut his hours back to a simple 40 in a heartbeat if he could. He’d take more vacation days if he could. He’d be thrilled to spend his evenings and weekends with me and the girls instead of clocking hours in his office (which we’ve nicknamed the Chateau D’if) if he could. “Things are crazy right now, but they should get better soon” has been the echoing refrain of this past year.

But I’m starting to think through the possibility of things not getting better soon, the possibility of this being the reality of our lives for the foreseeable future. (Because that is a very real possibility.) It would be easy to let this situation drift indeterminably while optimistically thinking it’s temporary and have it end up altering what we consider to be our “normal” – that we’d get used to doing things without daddy and it’d no longer feel strange for him to not be there. Indifference to his absence would replace our hope for things to change.

Often, it takes the possibility of a situation not being temporary to make us realize how challenging the circumstance actually is. It’s like, as long as the spark of hope remains that you’re almost to the other side of the trial, you can stay strong and keep trucking. But once you realize that “the other side” might be a long way away, that spark of hope dies and you give up.

It reminds me of Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. In 1952, she attempted to swim from Catalina Island to mainland California. She had been swimming 15 hours, was physically and emotionally exhausted, and ended up quitting only 800 meters (1/2 mile) from shore (which to any seasoned swimmer is practically nothing!). “All I could see was the fog. I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it,” she said the next day at a news conference. {source}

Like Florence, I often stop swimming because I can’t see the end. I’m stubborn and determined so I survive for a while by hunkering down and gritting my teeth through trials, willing myself to stay strong until it’s over. “Just get through this. It’ll get better.” But rarely do I make it to the finish line before my resolve gives out. The tipping point is almost always caused by something that, on its own, is small and inconsequential – but added to the heap of stress, fear and pain that has been brimming underneath the surface of my life, it’s the last straw. The dam breaks. A flood of pent-up emotions comes rushing out.

But just like the rainbow that appeared when the waters receded after the great flood of Noah’s time, each flood of my own emotions brings with it with the blessed awareness that once again, I’ve been trying to survive life on my own strength. As seeing the shoreline would’ve most likely given Florence the influx of strength and motivation she needed to persevere, so also seeing the big picture will also strengthen and motivate me.

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What is the big picture? Surely it is not that this trial of Travis’ working so much will come to an end sometime – because that is not certain. Rather, the big picture that gives me hope is that God is sufficient in all things. His sufficiency in being, and providing, everything I need is the way through this trial, and any trial for that matter. For those who work multiple jobs, make minimum wage and still scrape by, this stress of working is a constant reality. But we all find joy in trying circumstances the same way: by looking to God.

Jesus says:

“The thief [of this world] comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11)

Joy in God amidst earthly strife is possible – Jesus says it is. He tells us to trust Him, abide in His love for us, and focus on the end – He has already overcome the world. We cannot see the end ourselves; we are stuck swimming in the fog. But God sees the end. And it is by banking on His future promises and His current provision of grace and strength that we can persevere and not give up.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:8)

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to persevere in the face of trials. In 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, he writes, “We put no obstacles in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

In chapter 11, he continues, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (v. 24-28)

“For we do not want you to ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:8-9)

“But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12: 9-10

Paul welcomed his trials and hardships as opportunities for him to learn and live out dependence on Christ. As anyone who has been pushed past their capacity or strength knows, that’s often what it takes to break our attempts at self-sufficiency and get us down on our knees before God. In that spirit, I am trying to fight against my natural tendency to grit my teeth through this and instead, embrace this as another opportunity for learning how to live fully in a trying circumstance, trusting God to use it in our lives for our good and His glory.

So Travis and I have been discussing, “If this is our reality for the foreseeable future, what changes do we need to make to live well right now?” Not surprisingly, the changes we are trying to make address the issues that have caused the most problems between us:

1. Communicate in a helpful way.

When Travis has to work in the evening and I am disappointed, I have often expressed that disappointment as anger – because frankly, I’m mad he has to work. But not mad at him, just at the situation. However, he perceives my anger as being directed at him because he is, after all, the one who has to work. The helpful way to communicate my disappointment (according to the man himself) would be to say, “I understand you have to work, but I’m disappointed we can’t hang out.” Duly noted.

To Travis’ credit, he has done a pretty good job (after learning the hard way) of letting me know about his additional work demands a day or two in advance. It helps me to know what to expect. When I have time to process, I can respond better than I can when the situation is sprung upon me at the last minute.

2. Have family time free from the 3 P’s: phones, projects and the paper.

This one is mostly for me, because one of my love languages is quality time. Since we don’t have as much time together as a family as we want, we need to maximize the time we do have. And in my opinion, it just isn’t quality time when the whole family is doing their own thing. Our biggest distractions are our phones, the newspaper and “small, quick” house projects. So, from the time that Travis gets off work to the time that Annabelle goes to bed (which is usually 1-2 hours), those distractions are off-limits.

3. Prioritize date nights.

This is something we’ve (I’ve) been lax about because it’s my job to find a babysitter and I just haven’t put the time or effort into it. But now that Annabelle is 7 months old and can eat some solid food, we wouldn’t have to bring her along, so it would be a true date night! That would be awesome. I need to get my butt in gear and work on this. Our goal is one date night every month.

4. Be generous, but realistic.

There have been numerous good or fun things that we’ve had to say no to because they would have just stretched us too thin. It’s definitely a balancing act to know how much to serve and help out, or when to enjoy time with friends, and when you need to pull back and focus on your own family – but it’s a balance worth striving for. My natural tendency in hardship is to focus all my resources on myself and my family – because in my selfishness, my problems seem the biggest – but that kind of self-preservation usually just ends up magnifying the problem. It nurtures my soul to serve and love others, even when I’m experiencing a hard situation.

This also applies to my marriage. Hunting is an annual sore subject for us, just because it takes so much time – there’s packing, setting up stands, sighting in guns, target practice, traveling, then the actual hunting, and if they’re successful, meat butchering. The selfish part of me thinks that it’s just more time spent away from me and the girls for a “stupid hobby.” But the loving part of me knows that my husband loves hunting and since he spends the majority of his time providing for his family, he could use some time to relax and recharge doing something that je really enjoys (and almost his whole family hunts so it’s also time spent with them).

More and more, I am learning that the balance I need in life is only achievable through the power of the Holy Spirit. As a mere human, I am only capable of swinging from one extreme to another. In this case, from staking my heart on my expectations and demanding my own way to leaving expectations behind in a wake of indifference and cold-heartedness. But with the Spirit’s power and presence, I can continue desiring more time with my husband without that hope smothering our marriage, and I can be content with the time we do have together without losing hope that that time will increase. That balance is possible only when I am staking my heart first and foremost on God. God alone is sufficient in all things.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency [or contentment] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The Move is On.

8 Oct

So, we are moving to Minnesota.

We’ve been planning to move back pretty much ever since we moved to Colorado. Don’t get me wrong – Colorado is an awesome state and we have loved living here. We have a great church, great friends, good jobs, nice house, and have done a lot of fun things here.

But… our family isn’t here.

And… there’s just something about Minnesota that makes us love it.

Sure, the summers are humid and full of bugs. The winters get down to temperatures I won’t even mention and snow sticks around until April. Many Most days are cloudy. But the truth is, as much as I like to complain about those features of Minnesota, they also endear me to the state. Minnesota is not for the faint of heart.

So why now? Well first, we were waiting to have kids. Check.

Then, we were waiting to talk to Travis’ boss about moving, since we were hoping that Travis would be able to keep his same job and just work from home in Minnesota. We got the green light a couple of weeks ago! 

I’ll have to quit my job but I’ll probably try to find something – whether a part-time ‘for fun’ job or volunteering opportunity – to get me out of the house and keep me sane. Since we’re really close to being debt-free (we’ll only have about $2K left in student loans by November), we don’t really *need* my paycheck. And finding a part-time job that pays me like my current job would be tough.

Anyway, so moving is no longer an IF but a WHEN. All that’s left is to sell our house. We met with a realtor last Friday and are planning to put our house on the market in January. We have some a lot of work to do to get our house ready to sell, but October is the Month of Hunting so nothing will get done then. We could probably finish everything by the end of November but not many people are looking at houses in December, so January it is.

To avoid having to coordinate selling and buying a house across 1,000 miles, we’re going to move into my parent’s lake cabin about an hour north of the Cities for a few months while we find a house. We’re looking at houses in the Brainerd area.

We’re definitely excited to move back, and get a new, bigger house where we plan to live for the next 20ish years, but it’s definitely bittersweet leaving Colorado. We’ll miss it!

Handpicked by Love

25 Apr

When work is maddening and I am angry at the world…

When I longingly look out on a gorgeous day from inside an office icebox…

When I rush yet again from one thing to the next, feeling frazzled and exhausted…

When I grumble that I have a job that I don’t feel passionate about…

This quote from Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Keep a Quiet Heart, helps me remember that God has lovingly handpicked the circumstances of my life:

“When there is a deep restlessness for which we find no explanation, it may be due to the greed of being – what our loving Father never meant us to be. Peace lies in the trusting acceptance of His design, His gifts, His appointment of place, position, capacity. It was thus that the Son of Man came to earth – embracing all that the Father will Him to be, usurping nothing – no work, not even a word – that the Father had not given Him.”

So often I cause the loss of my own peace by rejecting the life God has given me.

“This isn’t what I want” is the refrain that echos through my ungrateful heart.

A verse that I have been repeating to myself over and over is “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord.” It reminds me that joy does not come from getting my own way. It doesn’t come from my life looking exactly like I think it should. It doesn’t come from deciding my own destiny, forging my own will, or determining my own struggles.

Joy comes from accepting.

Accepting that I’m not in control. That not being in control is a good thing. That even though my current circumstances seem to plead the contrary, God only has good things planned for me. 

But I can’t accept these things if I don’t have faith. Faith is believing that God will do what He has promised. Which turns my mind to another verse:

“I call out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.”

Even on these days when it feels like life sucks, and I don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing, and I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, I cling to the truth that God is RIGHT NOW fulfilling His purpose for me. My life has meaning. I am here for a reason, even if I don’t know what it is. I only need to focus on delighting in the LORD and He will accomplish the rest.

“He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

Living in the moment, trusting, thanking.

21 Feb

As I started my “day off” yesterday with reading the Bible, I kept thinking of things that I wanted to accomplish. Clean the house, run 3 miles, have lunch with Travis, work on my book, write a blog post, get my bike set up, go through old books, spend time relaxing with a book, catch up on DVR-ed TV episodes, get files off old computer… With each new thought surged the threat of being overwhelmed. There are too many things to get done! But I wanted this day to be relaxing! 

My ability to turn a day off into a stressful situation really is a remarkable talent.

I was able to stifle those thoughts, though, because of something God has been teaching me over the past couple of months. You see, I used to live my whole life like that. I was paralyzed by all the things I wanted to accomplish, and overwhelmed by the things I hadn’t even started. Just like with running, negative thoughts were my companion then too.

I’m too tired to accomplish all of this.

If I do this, I won’t have time to do what I really want to do.

Why am I always the one who has to do this? 

I don’t have enough time to get everything done.

I can’t do what I really want because that’s wasting precious time.

But God has kindly called me back to the present, time and time again, saying, Don’t look at the whole week, the whole day or even the whole hour. Live in the moment and do what is right before you now.

So yesterday, I continued on with my Bible reading, then worked on my book for 45 minutes, went on my run, did strength training, had lunch with Travis, made 3 runs to my local bike shop, and then relaxed. I watched Desperate Housewives, blogged and caught up on quite a few posts in my Google Reader. Did I accomplish everything I had thought about at the beginning of the day? No. But I went through the day peaceful –  because I was trusting God, instead of my own agenda.

Doesn’t this sound very similar to the idea behind running long distances? Don’t focus on the whole distance at once, or how many miles you have left to go. Focus on the present moment. Put one foot in front of the other. Trust your training.

As I was driving to work this morning with a feeling of dread, I was telling God about why I wasn’t excited to go to work, and it dawned on me that my feeling of dread comes from a fear that I’m insufficient. That I’ll be given a task that I can’t handle. I’ve joked about most of my jobs, “A monkey could do it.” But this job? And the job that I had in 2010 that made me so stressed? Definitely not monkey jobs. My job is challenging. And that’s why I don’t like it.

Not that I don’t appreciate a good challenge (hey, I’m training for a full marathon, right?), but I’m terrified of failure. Again, negative thoughts abound.

I won’t have the energy to focus when I need to.

I don’t know how to make the project go better.

I won’t write what they’re looking for.

I don’t have the know-how to be a marketing professional.

When I realized that, and started connecting the dots between the negative thoughts I have while running, relaxing, working, and just being, I was in awe. How did I not know that negative, self-defeating thoughts were so much a part of my life? They’re everywhere!

This is something that still stuns me: I’m a pessimist. All my life, I had been confused by the question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” (What kind of question is that anyway?) I just assumed I was an optimist because that was the good thing to be. Everyone likes an optimist. Pessimists are annoying. But that’s me.

{see the irony?}

But God has been doing a work in my heart for the past couple of months, ever since I started reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. On Christmas morning, I stood in our church sanctuary, my soul drowning in ingratitude, only focused on how much I wished my life were different. I started reading Ann’s book after that service. In the second chapter, she laid my heart bare: “Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall — humanity’s discontent with all that God freely gives.”

After reading that, I saw ingratitude everywhere in my life. In fact, every single one of my struggles could be traced back to being ungrateful. When my schedule was busy, I focused on the one thing I didn’t have: rest. When I was reading blogs, I focused on my lack of readers and popularity. When I was running, I focused on my lack of speed. When I was hiking, I focused on my lack of breath. When I got Christmas gifts, I only focused on what I didn’t get. Instead of being thankful for a free schedule, I focused on not having a baby. I focused on not being busy when I was and on being busy when I wasn’t. I was never satisfied.

And I see all the threads of these struggles intertwining – my perfectionist tendencies, how easily I get overwhelmed, my negative thought patterns, my constant dissatisfaction, my judgment of myself and others, my fear of the future, my confusion about life. All these struggles are just different facets of one struggle: trusting God.

When I worry that I won’t be enough or that I’ll fail, I’m not trusting God to provide grace to me in my moment of need.

When I analyze my life and worry that I’m not living up to God’s expectations for me, I’m not trusting that He’s the One ordaining my circumstances. My days are in His book.

When I whine about my slow running pace or curvy body shape, I’m not trusting God’s loving providence of making me slow and curvy.

When I get overwhelmed by my to-do list and all the things I think I *should* be doing, I’m not trusting that God is intimately involved in my life, and working everything together for my good.

As I learned while reading Ann’s book, being thankful in all circumstances requires us to trust God – to open our hands to “all that God freely gives.” We don’t get to judge what we get, and determine whether or not it’s what we wanted or would have chosen. Instead, we get down on humble knees and receive everything that our loving, wise, faithful, good Lord ordains to give us. And then we trust that He will sustain us and give us strength to be faithful in everything He has allowed.

I have seen over the past 2 months that this actually works. Being thankful in all circumstances – actually being intentionally, mindfully thankful for specific things – produces joy, gratitude and contentment. I’m serious. Try it.

So today, I’m grateful that I have a job writing, and that God has promised to bless me in all that I do.

I rejoice that I have two legs that can run, and without pain! Who cares about speed?

I praise God for guiding me through each day, and for guiding my life as a whole, and for giving me these verses to savor:

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2)

“My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.” (Psalm 59:10)
 What are you thankful for today?

You know you work for a big corporation when…

24 Aug

As a person with a work history mostly at small non-profits, I have noticed that things in Corporate America look a little bit different.

You know you work for a big corporation when…

  1. You wander around for 5 minutes after work trying to remember where you parked your car that morning.
  2. You don’t work in a building; you work on a campus.
  3. Your office location is 6 digits/letters long, with designations for building, floor, wing and hallway.
  4. You don’t know what 99.995% of the people do who work there.
  5. There are thousands of people working at the same company you’ll never even see, much less meet.
  6. Your campus has its own coffee shop, cafeteria, fitness room and conference center.
  7. You have co-workers in 12 different countries.
  8. There’s a person for everything. (No odd jobs here!)
  9. The marketing department actually has (and uses!) a brand manual and AP style handbook.
  10. Rebranded assets include company cars, conference rooms and hallway signage.
  11. There are indoor walkways connecting each building.
  12. You have 7 different bosses (did you get the memo?).
  13. Your company has its own softball league, no outside participants needed.
  14. You need a security badge just to go to the bathroom.

Do you work for a big corporation? Any insights you’d like to share?

Blowing the whistle on Satan

17 May

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).

I thought a lot yesterday about my triathlon woes and concluded at the end of the day that my problem was, once again, pride – pure and simple ego. After reading some race recaps by triathletes who are faster than I am but call themselves slow (If they’re slow, what am I?), I felt like a joke. Why am I doing triathlons when I’m absolutely no good at them?

Then I thought about all the other ways I am tempted to feel insufficient and not good enough: body / weight, career, fashion, friends, vacations — the list goes on and on. Satan is always tempting me to seek validation through external things — which also happen to be things I don’t have a ton of control over or things that won’t last. The only reaction to seeking validation from those things is discouragement and despair (and eating lots of ice cream).

Once again, this morning God called me back to the truth — because of Christ, I am good enough. I am exactly the way God created me. The only thing wrong with me is sin.

God made me slow. God made me curvy. God made me quiet and introverted. God gave me the desire to pursue a joy-filled life instead of a high-powered career. God has worked in my heart to create a desire for simplicity, which stands in stark opposite to accumulating material possessions. This is the reality of my life.

Satan takes all of these good things and distorts them. Instead of thanking God that He has given me a joy in exercise and eating right, Satan condemns me for running 3 miles in 34 miles and eating a piece of cake. Instead of being grateful for the clothes and job I do have, Satan conveniently shines a spotlight on women who are more successful and better dressed, quietly suggesting that they’re happier than I am.

Well, I’m blowing the whistle on Satan. Everything he says to me (and you!) is a lie. I find happiness in being God’s chosen one, in knowing that Jesus has gone to prepare a place in heaven for me — not for the lithe, trendy girl down the hall. Jesus is waiting for me. He wants a loving, intimate relationship with me. I am loved by the Most High.

With that knowledge and hope as my foundation, I have decided that I can embrace being velocity-challenged (I decided that is the PC term for slow). I can serve as a role model for all of those other athletes – runners, bikers, swimmers, etc. – who participate in sports not because they’re good at them, but because they enjoy them. I personally have been encouraged by others who don’t have it all together, aren’t living the picture perfect life, or flaunting a taut body with the latest fashions, yet completely embrace and accept who they are. They remind me that being who God created me to be is what glorifies Him. Trying to be someone else is not only an attempt to glorify myself, it’s an insult to God – I’m saying that He messed up; His creation is defective.

I think that this is one of the hardest challenges that humans face – the temptation to define ourselves by things other than Christ. The temptations come in different forms for different people but they’re all from the same source (Satan) and they all have the same solution (Christ). In Christ, we find a lasting, eternal identity: sons and daughters of the Most High God. Isn’t that better than being fast anyway?

Food and work

3 May

On Sunday, I finally went grocery shopping. I am very happy to finally have good food again. I don’t think I will ever do that experiment again – especially with no fruit or vegetables. I just don’t think it’s worth it.

In other news, I had my first day at my new job yesterday. It went well. From what I can tell, I think it will be a good job but it’s always hard to know after just one day. I can say, though, that it’s really weird to see so many people working for the same company and not know each other. Even at my first job out of college when I worked for a corporation, our office was small enough that you pretty much knew who everyone was, even if you had never spoken to them. So a huge office (2,500 people) is weird for me.

A definite perk of working for such a big company, though, is that I get an officle – an office/cubicle. My officle has a sliding door and walls that go all the way up to the ceiling. There are windows at the top so light still gets in. I also have a flat-screen monitor and there is a cafeteria on campus. Pretty swank. The world of telecommunications is very confusing to me, though, so I have a lot to learn. But everyone I will be working with seems very nice and friendly and there are several other women my age so I’m excited to get to know them.

I do see already my tendency to want to be cool, fit in, and not known as a Jesus freak. I’m worried about the right balance between being social and being a good employee (since I’m a contractor and not a permanent employee, I think this is more pronounced.)  I don’t want to hide out in my officle but I also don’t want to be perceived as a slacker.

But honestly, right now I’m too tired, frustrated and overwhelmed to care much about that. My dog Charlie is driving me up the wall. Last night, she started whining and howling at 2:30, then 4:00, then again at 5:30. I seriously want to kick her in the head. I have had enough willpower to restrain myself this morning from doing that but I can’t be near her at all. I’m pretty sure the reason why she’s acting that way is because she hasn’t been able to go on walks, run around or play with Katy since getting spayed. She’s probably going slightly crazy. So hopefully it will get better after we get the All Clear next Wednesday from the vet. Otherwise, I will be the one going crazy!

My last week of freedom.

26 Apr

For some reason, when I accepted my new job, I thought I had 2 1/2 weeks until I started. It was actually only 1 1/2. So this is my last week of freedom. I’m definitely excited to start my new job – but also a little nervous just because it will be a new experience and challenge. And I have to admit that I’m sad my days of freedom are coming to an end.

To make the most of my last week being unemployed, I am getting together with a friend every single day. Yesterday, I went hiking in Golden Gate Canyon State Park with my friend Lauren (the wife of one of Travis’ work friends). Today, I am having coffee and potentially going on a walk (if the weather holds up) with a new friend from church named Holly. Tomorrow, I am going on a bike ride with another friend from church named Steph. Thursday, I am having my last Thursday morning coffee with Cathy (it’s the end of an era – we’ve been having coffee weekly since December!) Friday, I am going hiking at Red Rocks State Park with another friend from church, Renia, and her son and friend. So it will be a busy but fun-packed week!

A little update on the food situation: I had to cheat and go buy a few ingredients to make a dish for Easter dinner. BUT I picked a recipe for a wild rice casserole that I had the majority of ingredients for so I only had to buy chicken broth ($.99) and apricots ($1.50). I also made stuffing (which had been in my cupboard since Thanksgiving 2008) and had to buy celery ($.25) and an onion ($.75). (And yes, it turned out to be delicious!) With the sugar I bought for Travis’ morning coffee and my toothpaste with a $1 off coupon, I only spent $8 at the grocery store. I felt pretty good about my thriftiness.

Tomorrow night is care group and we eat dinner together beforehand potluck-style so I will have to buy a few more things for that (cheese and black beans). But overall, I’m making it work with the food we have. We had chicken alfredo with mushrooms last night. Last week, I made crusted chicken with tomato dill couscous. I also made udon noodles with carrots, raisins, red pepper and a peanut  butter soy sauce (delicious!) – it’s a Betty Crocker recipe. So we haven’t been eating crap. But we also haven’t been eating as much fresh produce as we normally would (as in, we aren’t eating any right now). I have frozen vegetables left and even those, I am using sparingly so that we can at least eat some vegetables one meal a day for the rest of the week.

My only fear at this point is that when we do get more grocery money, we’re going to be so low on everything (including condiments, spices, and staples) that the grocery bill will be abnormally high and we’ll start this vicious cycle all over again. But since I will have a job then and have a steady income, I might try to convince Travis to let me have a little more grocery money. I think I could make it work if I didn’t need to have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables all the time. But the truth is, I do. If I don’t get enough sleep and don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, I get sick almost immediately. Case in point: I got sick on Easter. I don’t believe it was a coincidence.

But I am not deterred! I am determined to make this work, at least for the rest of this month. 😉 And I definitely have new-found respect for those people who have even less money than this for groceries. It’s harder than I thought to eat healthy on a budget.

God’s Perfect Timing

7 Apr

I’ve been very anxious and overwhelmed this week, feeling like there is so much more that I want/need to be doing with my time than I am able. I just recently took on teaching ESL to a couple from our church for 2 hours, 2 days a week. It’s not a huge amount of time, but it does put a dent into two of the days I had with nothing going on. In addition to that, I am still editing curriculum for a nonprofit, writing a book, applying for jobs, doing house projects, reading voraciously, training for a triathlon, and managing my household by doing laundry, grocery shopping, dishes and cleaning. Who knew I could be so stressed out without a job? (I’m that good.)

I am seeing (yet again!) that my anxiety comes from me concerning myself with the big picture and How It Will All Work Out. And the reason I do that is because I am scared of failing. I am scared of letting things fall through the cracks, of appearing like I don’t have it all together and actually not having it together. I let all of these good things settle on my shoulders, until it feels like I am carrying around a 75-lb backpack everywhere I go. I also make all these good things into My Standard for the Christian Life and if I fall short by even one thing, I am racked with guilt and a I-completely-suck mentality.

It is so hard to live in dependence on God in the practical matters of life! It is hard to entrust God with the things you feel responsible for, the things you have on your plate, all the while knowing that for them to get done, you’re the one who actually has to do them. I mean, my dog is not going to send my resume in to potential employers. Travis is not going to train for the triathlon. The book is not going to write itself. I’m the one who has to do those things.

But I’ve discovered that it all comes down to timing. These things have to get done…but when? My answer to that question is usually something like, “Right now. Yesterday. Two weeks ago. Don’t even get me started.” It’s the illusion that I’m constantly behind or that there’s not enough time to do everything that is stressing me out. It’s not the amount of things to do, but the apparent lack of time.

That’s where God comes in. Since He is outside time, He knows what to do with it. I like to imagine God sitting at a table with all of my goals, tasks and chores spread before Him. As He looks over the things on the table, He grabs one and hands it to me. “Do this one now,” He says calmly. When I interject about another thing on the table and how it’s going to get done and when, He doesn’t answer my question but rather reaffirms His initial instruction. He knows what needs to get done and when; I have to trust His choice and instruction.

I have to believe that if a day flies by and it feels like I have not accomplished even a quarter of the things I wanted to, or if I truly feel like reading a book instead of writing one, or if something unexpected happens like the car breaking down, or the Rec being closed, or me getting sick, these things do not throw God for a loop and derail His plan. His plan is not g0-go-go without rest stops or potty breaks. He is a loving God who cares more about my spiritual state and relationship with Him than He does about what I accomplish in a particular day, though I continually run to Things I Got Done to prove my worth and validate my existence.

Ultimately, I have to believe that God’s timing is perfect and He is working in my life in mundane, everyday ways that sometimes I don’t even notice (though I want to notice them more often!). God’s ways are so much higher than my ways that He is coordinating even the slightest, smallest details in my life to accord with His plan.

“For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27)

“The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8)

“This God–His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true.” (Psalm 18:30a)

Never underestimate the power of sleep

8 Mar

For a couple of years now, I have had this notion that I must have less energy than the average person. Everyone else seems to go, go, go while I consistently have the feeling of needing a nap. I figured I just needed more downtime, more time to recover from the demands of life.

Well, since not having a job has allowed me to get at least 9 glorious hours of sleep a night (but I still get up before Travis, ha!), I have discovered that it’s not that I have less energy than most people, it’s just that I need more sleep.

My body really needs a good 9 hours a night to feel actually rested. If I get even just 8.5 hours, I feel ready for a nap all day long. This past Sunday, after going to an early afternoon barbeque at the house of one of Travis’ co-workers, I had planned on grocery shopping and working out. But I had absolutely no motivation to do either when we got home because I felt…so…tired. Why? Because I had gotten a measly 8 hours of sleep on Saturday night. So I took an hour long nap and felt refreshed enough to do what I had planned.

All of this has taught me that I cannot underestimate the power of sleep. I am a person who needs plenty of sleep to function at the top of my game. And if my body really wants 9 hours, it’s no wonder than on 7 or 8 hours, I constantly feel tired.

I’m guessing that the majority of Americans feel this way – hence the explosion of energy drinks, caffeine-laced nutrition bars, and espresso concoctions. The smartest answer to the phenomenon of being tired would be to just get more sleep. But that seems to be the last thing anyone wants. Our society is constantly moving. I just read in a book that back in 1960s, “those who predicted the future advantages of technology and innovation felt the biggest challenge to the future would be boredom. They believed that time-saving technologies would increase productivity, and they informed a Senate committee that in 1985 people would work approximately twenty-two hours a week, twenty-seven weeks a year, and would retire at age thirty-eight.” I bet those people would have slept 10 hours a night too…

The thing about technology is that we have let it control us, instead of us controlling it. Take, for example, how hard it is to turn the TV off at night and go to bed. After the show you planned on watching ends, you grab the remote and are ready to turn the TV off until wait – that looks interesting. Pretty soon you find yourself sucked into watching a show that seems entertaining, but when you finally do shut it off 2 hours later, you realize that you just wasted 2 good hours of your life. And you could have spent those 2 hours sleeping.

Even though my days of freedom could be at an end (had another interview today), I am determined to not let my 9 hours of sleep per night fall by the wayside. I have discovered the secret to having energy and I’m not going to let Conan, Parks and Recreation, or the Chicago Code steal it from me!