Playing Hookie

As a mother/wife/adult/employee/Christian, I’m often confused about the Christian principle of “being a servant” and “being self-less” and all that (which are true concepts in the Bible) and its seeming conflict with “taking care of yourself” and doing things that make YOU happy (and isn’t the Christian life supposed to be JOYful and abundant??!) – but because of all my responsibility, isn’t taking care of ME being selfISH?!?!  Of course, that doesn’t stop me from taking care of ME – but I often find I do it while feeling guilty.

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Some of that has to do with the family I married into.  Truly, my mother-in-law is the MOST self-LESS person I know.  I also wouldn’t trade places with her in a million years!  My husband says she enjoys “serving others” and doesn’t see it as a hardship or being put-upon as maybe I see it sometimes.  I see it as giving up everything I’d ever want to do just to please someone else.  I guess part of that is personality.  She is an extrovert – and the more people to interact with for her, the better.  I am polar opposite!

I have been at my new job now for two weeks … and today I called in sick!  I have no “sick days” accumulated and am not really sure what that means for me pay-wise – but I will deal with that later.  Since Tuesday, I really haven’t felt well; I haven’t coped well with all the demands on my schedule – things I need to be taking care during working hours that I can not take care of and have to fanagle during my 30 minute lunch period or get my son to deal with.  I’ve been headachy, and this morning I woke up with what I thought was going to be a migraine.  And so I made the call – I will probably go in to work in a little while (guilt, obligation, etc) … but at this moment, I am taking care of ME!

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I am sitting in my bed, in my jammies at 8:30 a.m. – when I should already be sitting at my desk at work.  I am drinking coffee and processing my thoughts here on my blog – like I enjoy doing … and I am trying to NOT feel guilty at all.  The ibuprofen is working, and I am feeling better.  I think part of that is just being here, home, quiet.

Once I get done on the computer, I plan to have a little talk with God about what in the world He wants for me.  Like my previous post, I wonder if I didn’t make a big mistake in taking this new job … I just felt like it was “meant to be” – but maybe God doesn’t really use coincidences to confirm His will??  How much leeway does He really give us – how much free will?  What IS His will?  and is His will in the details or is His will in the fact that we are living our lives according to Bible prinicples and then we get to fill in the pieces however we want?!  Again, confused.

I thought “His Will” was me taking this job.  They called me for an interview exactly on my day off … everything went so quickly and smoothly with the hiring.  Then again, I had a choice to make — I am the one who set these wheels in motion.  I didn’t NEED TO get a new job, I was just upset that my old one had been down-sized in the way it had been.  Is this MY fault?  A result – yet again – of my choices? Did I push it?  Should I have said “no” to their offer as soon as I knew the salary was way less than I wanted??  And yet, the “door” seemed open?!  But did I force it to crack open or was it pushed open wide?

I hate second guessing myself – and I realize I have to live with my choices (oh, how I know this!!!) … I wish it were easier.  But as my motto for the last few months has been:  “It is what it is.” Acceptance … and yet, I fight with releasing control and believing that I am supposed to do things I don’t want to do just because “they are right” because I don’t even know IF they are the RIGHT thing to do?

Well, dear readers, if you keep coming back to this blog, perhaps you can at least be thankful you are NOT me.  :)  EVERYTHING with me is a struggle, I swear.  I keep hoping that ONE DAY things will “settle down” … but apparently, the dream job is just pie-in-the-sky.  Not everyone gets to “do what they love” as the inspirational quotes will tell you.

I really am not a whiner – I just want to understand what is right and true and honorable. But I prefer not to fall apart along the way.

I remain optimistic however, that things WILL one day get better.  Right now, we are in so much transition again – my job, we are looking for a new church (NOT an easy task even though I thought NW Arkansas is still in the “Bible Belt”), always the financial crunch … but thankfully, everyone is healthy, and my kids are still safely at home with me still.  I just wish I could spend more time with them, especially while it is yet summer break.

But as the saying goes, “if wishes were fishes …” … which I never really understood quite well – because I am a beggar, and I’d much rather eat something besides fish.  :-/

I need a catchy closing statement to this blog post … but right now I really don’t have one.  Other than, I really DO believe that God is real – and in time, it will all work out. Just not today.

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How Our Van Teaches Me Life Lessons (just trust me on this one!)

Believe it or not, my van taught me a life lesson this week … That is a little “out there” – but that’s how my poor, over-thinking brain works.  If you read this post to the end, perhaps – and only perhaps – it will all make sense!

So,

I am not a very decisive person to begin with.  I don’t always have strong opinions … except when I do.  And even then, I still get wishy-washy.  Fast.

For example – home schooling?  I loved it!  I desperately wanted to do it – and I did!  For a year.  And I don’t regret it – but now that it is impossible, I am ok with that too.  Now my kids marching off to school is just fine, and in fact, a relief in our current situation.

Another example – ministry.  When my husband first mentioned giving up his Army career to work for a small Christian school, I was on board immediately.  I imaged the wonderful things we’d do and how God would bless it and what a great thing it would be.  And it was …. for a while.  And I don’t regret it – but it sure didn’t turn out at all like I expected.

And on it goes:  my pharmacy technician certification!  Smart decision – I thought – leading to an easy job I’d like … and I did … sort of.  But in the end, it was just retail work, and I didn’t want to do it any more.

Commitment issues much?  Apparently so!!  The only thing I am truly adamant about these days is that I just want to stay home in my pajamas …

Thankfully, one of the few things I haven’t flaked out on is my marriage or parenting.  And that’s only because I think I married the most tolerant man on the planet.  That’s good and that’s bad.  People like me need someone to guide them with strong opinions – and my husband would rather see me be happy – if only temporarily – than try to direct the strong-willed person that I am.  He just sits back and watches me try to control everything, and then he picks me up when I crash into the next wall.

And guess what!!?  I’ve done it again:  I quit a perfectly good job because the owner of the business changed everything on me – and I didn’t like the changes.

But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  I’ve been doing medical billing for a regional hospital for a week and a day now – and I am really doubting I made the best choice.  I’m thinking I took this job rashly, despite the fact that it “seemed” to be perfect timing.  I took a pay cut (and didn’t realize how much until today when I got paid for 16 hours from my old job and 16 hours from my new job … there is no comparison!).   Granted I have a “foot in the door” to a huge organization … but am I really a career woman who wants to work my way up to being Vice President in charge of the Revenue Cycle?!  Ummmm…..no thanks!  My new boss (one step above me) just spent today in the ER because she was having an elevated heart rate that has been determined to just be “stress-related”.  That is NOT what I’m looking for.

SO, now what??!  How do I get into things like this??!!  Thankfully, God often helps get me out of my dilemmas as well.  I have been contacted about a job possibility with people from my old job – people who I liked, people who understood my commitment to my family first of all, and who know I want flexible work hours, and who are Christians and have Christian values. And we may be working out something in the next few weeks.  (and I won’t be making any rash decisions, believe me!).

I know that isn’t something I should be writing all over the internet – but I don’t know how else to process it.  I don’t really have friends here – and my husband just shakes his head as he TRIES to talk sense into me while still trying to not make me angry by telling me the logical answers that I don’t want to hear …

IN LESS INTENSE NEWS: 

We’ve had a major break-through this week with our poor, old Arkansas Chug-A-Bug van.  Not sure if anyone remembers my sad tale of the day the better-working of our 2 sliding doors ate my favorite winter coat??  Well, I shut the sliding door on my coat tail, and no matter how hard my husband or I tried, we COULD NOT get the piece of cloth out of the door mechanism … and for several months, no matter how I tried to pull, twist, and cut the fabric, the door was STUCK.  My kids got used to going in and out through the passenger side door, and we just pretended like we only had 1 sliding door.

This past Monday, Mimsy was messing around in the back of the van while sitting in there with Daniel, waiting on me to pick up Annie-Belle … and she pushed the sliding door button (the the broken door side), which is something I’ve done 13,243 times in an attempt to fix it, too … and door SLID OPEN, releasing the piece of my favorite coat:

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Since we’d even PRAYED for our sliding door to work again, Mimsy immediately said, “God healed our van!” …. and that is where I’ll leave that.  Maybe it was a long time result of all the pulling and twisting I’d done already … maybe it was just God’s favor??  But I chose to believe that God did us a favor and released that door.

It reminds me of my work dilemma now:  I’m twisting and pulling and forcing things to go my way – but they are just mucking up the mechanism.  One day, I’ll just release control … and suddenly, hopefully, GOD WILL OPEN THE DOOR WIDE!  And I’ll know it was Him – and not me and all my futile efforts that released it.

And then I’ll call it “The Parable of the Van Door”.

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The NOT-Bummer Summer Vacation

It seems like sometimes life is pretty mundane … and that’s okay because work is honorable even though not something to write about usually … and ordinary days are something to be thankful for because it sure beats being in the midst of a crisis!

Granted, our lives are seldom smooth-sailing – and there’s always something creeping up to remind me how very dependent I am on God’s provision and guidance …

But when something WONDERFUL happens, I want to remember to be ESPECIALLY THANKFUL.  And after the “Bummer Summer” of last year, this year we got to go away for over a week as a family!  Since we’ve lived in the Southern Midwest, we’ve always talked about going to Colorado because it is a somewhat accessible state by driving …. And FINALLY, we got to go!  And Colorado did not disappoint.

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If one is going to be at the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park (on the east-ish side of the Nat’l Park) seems to be THE place to go.  It was recommended to us, but when I booked our time-share resort last November, everything in Estes Park for a 2-bedroom unit was already taken!!  And guess what?!  That worked out very much in our favor after all.

We stayed in a lovely little town on the west side of the National Park called Winter Park … and just beyond us were the small towns of Frasier, Grandby and Grand Lake.  And all of these areas were open for summer tourism but definitely NOT crowded.  Winter Park had access to some trails, and there were shops and a few restaurants (though we cooked and ate almost all our meals in our apartment), a McDonald’s and a Subway.  PERFECT for us!  :)

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We are home-bodies and not great outdoors people (or I should say not ADVENTUROUS outdoors people, as we do like being outside – especially in Colorado where the weather is amazing this time of year!!!) – our idea of being “outside” is a comfortable, leisurely walk with access to ice cream or cold drinks … and 4 out of 5 of us are NOT morning people.  We spent our mornings in Colorado kind of like this:

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A short distance from our time share place, there was a lovely little trail that led to a park where Daniel, Drew, and Annie shot basketball, and Mimsy had a nice playground nearby, and there was a convenient bench for me – with an amazing view to remind me of how amazing God’s creation really is!!  We walked to this park several times over the week.

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We arrived in Colorado last Saturday.  After resting on Sunday – and adjusting to the altitude (Mimsy got sick in the night, and I couldn’t get a deep breath – all our noses seemed dried out from the dry air), we were ready to do something on Monday.

We drove “down” to Denver and went to its aquarium.  It was not the best one I’ve ever been to – and I wouldn’t even recommend it to anyone because there are so many other options – but live and learn.  The exhibits were nice enough and we got to touch sting rays …

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but otherwise, we were through the entire thing in a little over an hour.  (not a great value for the money we paid to get in!!).

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(jellyfish exhibit … ^^)

The guys had tickets to a Colorado Rockies ballgame that evening, so the girls and I dropped them off at Coors Field – and we met up with my step-brother and his daughter who live in Aurora, right outside of Denver for dinner and catching up on the last 20 years since I had last seen them (obviously, they’d not ever met my kids).

Tuesday we rested up and just stayed local around Winter Park.

Wednesday, we went to the National Park ($20 entrance fee – wow! but totally worth it!)

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One thing I have to mention is how very, very thankful I am that our old van (the “Arkansas Chug-a-Bug”) was reliable and comfortable this entire trip!!  We’ve broken down and had enough car troubles in the last 5 years that this is something I do not take for granted!

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(^^ shout out to our old Chug-A-Bug that you can see here in this picture)

We had a picnic lunch at the trail head of the Timber Lake Trail – a 4.8 mile moderate hike to a lake – and then of course, 4.8 miles back.  The boys and Mimsy made it almost to the lake, but a mudslide diverted them back a little short of hiking the entire trail:  THIS GIRL did amazing despite a sudden rain shower that came up and some fairly steep climbs!!  (So I’m told … )

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Annie-Belle and I did not make it, unfortunately.  A combination of dehydration, taking off too quickly after eating lunch, and altitude made Annie a little woozy, so we slowed our pace and enjoyed the scenery.  We spent some time sitting under a giant coniferous tree, waiting out the rain showers that rose up … and in the end, Annie said she was glad she got to spend some time “just the two of us”.

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Thursday and Friday, we just explored the nearby towns and took it easy.

Saturday, sadly, we had to pack up and leave.  We met an old friend and some of her family, whom the Army stationed in Colorado Springs, on our way out of Denver for lunch – and it was wonderful to see familiar faces!  Then we headed into the flatter and far less impressive state of Kansas.   We stopped for the night in Dodge City.

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(we did not stay at this hotel however^^)

Sunday morning, after having “TV church” with Dr. David Jeremiah, we went into Dodge City and explored Boot Hill.

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It was actually more interesting that I had expected … and it was decorated nicely for the 4th of July holiday.

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And then we drove the almost 450 miles home to NW Arkansas.   It is wonderful to be home – although suddenly, it feels extremely HUMID here (compared to Colorado) …

My favorite picture from our trip expresses how I think we all felt about finally being FAR AWAY from Arkansas and enjoying some care-free down-time as a family:

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PURE JOY!

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Posted in summer, travel, vacation | 2 Comments

My Fathers

It is probably only if you know me really well (or paid attention to long ago blogs post, if you’ve been around a few years) that you know that the man who raised me actually adopted me.  My biological father is German, and he and my mother divorced when I was about 2 years old.  Those of you who have been in a “broken” home may understand that looking back, I can see how that affected me in various ways emotionally and spiritually, even though I was fortunate and there was no open animosity between my parents afterwards.  Neither ever spoke maliciously of the other to me … other than maybe to try to explain why they’d broken up.  And even in that, they were very careful.

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(^^ my biological father and me)

When I was a month away from turning 4 years old, my mom re-married an American soldier, and we moved across the ocean from Germany to the Northern Virginia area.   Later I grew up in my dad’s native East Tennessee, and still to this day consider Tennessee “home”.

When I was 7 years old, sometime around the birth of my half-brother, this man adopted me and gave me his last name.  It was probably the most gracious thing anyone has ever done for me.  I was able to grow up, nurtured by him, without many questions about my parentage unless we volunteered it.  Some times people would comment that I must have gotten my blue eyes from my dad … and we’d just grin at each other because the truth is BOTH my biological parents have brown eyes!!  Maybe God chose blue eyes for me just for this very reason?  They matched my adopted dad’s!!

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(me, my mom, my brother, and my dad^^)

Much through the influence of my dad, my family came to know the Lord because he had accepted Jesus as his Savior at a young age, but wandered far away from God during his 20 years in the military.   But God fulfilled His promise that if a child is trained up in the Lord, when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).  My dad led our family back to God and to church when I was 8 years old.

The story goes on … and like anyone’s autobiography, there were bumps along the way as we grew in the Lord together, as I went away and started making my own decisions, and now as I’ve established my own family.  We haven’t always agreed or seen things quite the same, but in the end, now, as my dad is about to celebrate his 80th birthday, I can honestly say he has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me.  Even now, in his own way, he takes care of my little family because he too went through a job loss and some of the same transitions we are dealing with yet.

My biological father lives mostly in Southeast Asia now.  When I was a child, I’d see him every summer because I’d go to Germany to stay with my grandparents there.  As an older teen, he showed me the Black Sea in Bulgaria, Amsterdam, and Paris!  Sadly, I have seen him maybe twice in the last 10 years … but even so, he still sends an occasional post card from Angkor Wat, Cambodia or Phuket, Thailand.  He also faithfully sends money for his grandchildren about twice a year.  In his own way, he’s cared for me from a distance.  I haven’t faulted him because I know he didn’t know how to be a father as his own died on the Russian Front in World War II when my father was about 7 years old.  Sadly, my father doesn’t know Jesus or believe in God … other than the lovely “fairy tales” that are the Bible.  I won’t give up praying for his soul even though he too is now 80 and seemingly hardened to the Gospel message.

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(my biological father – with me and Drew, his only grandson)

In my life, I have been blessed with two very different fathers … and I remember them fondly this Father’s Day.  I am also blessed with a gracious, loving Heavenly Father who has been with me consistently from my birth until now and will stay until I die and go to be with Him forever.   I sometimes feel like I missed out on being “Daddy’s Girl” here on earth – but I feel more and more that I have always been God’s girl, the apple of His eye … and that’s enough love to make up for all the gaps.

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Posted in Father's Day, Germany

Readjustments

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A friend gave me the above notebook almost 3 years ago when we moved away from Missouri.  It was very fitting then, and it seems to continue to be true!  Life continues to change, and we re-adjust.  Eventually, we get used to the “new” and … and then it seems, often, things change again, just as we were getting comfortable.

I remember when I started my “new” job back in October of 2014.  Has it been really that long ago?!  I was SO happy to have my VERY OWN office – one that had a DOOR!  Ha!  I got this job JUST IN TIME.  One more month of me not working, and I’m not even really sure what we would have done.

Since then, the calendars and schedules and pictures and lists on the bulletin board in my line of sight changed a few times, and this is what it has looked like these last few happy weeks in my little office:

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The calendars I keep remind me, however, that time keeps moving on … and “new” beginnings are coming in June.  I will only be in my safe, little office a very few hours a week then, if at all.  Goodbye, safe haven – my cozy little office in the back hallway … I have one last week left working here.

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My future holds many more hours in the pharmacy … and very few hours of office work.  It also holds a WHOLE DAY OFF on Wednesdays each week, as long as I don’t need to cover someone’s shift.  The downside is that I work until 7 p.m. two nights a week … but I get off at 3 p.m. on two other days a week.  I work less hours over all (yeah!), but I also get paid less (boo!).

Overall, I am THRILLED to be able to be home more, but we are a little nervous about our finances and the continued plan of debt reduction.  In the end, I am confident God is working on our behalf.  There are a few other options I am considering … I am praying about them.  I am not sure exactly what God has for me – but for now, I am working on my next new start … until God gives it a clear ending.

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Posted in budget, Pharmacy | 2 Comments

While I Wait

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Thank you, friends, for your prayers for our recent circumstances (well, MINE, mostly!!).

Currently, I am just waiting … I had a meeting with the pharmacy’s owner and the head pharmacist this morning.  Thankfully, I’ve had since last Wednesday to think, pray, write out my ideas and explanations (often in the middle of the night!).  I had a long conversation with my mom last night, and I know between my parents, family, and friends, I was covered in prayer!

I calmly (no crying!  no hyperventalating!) explained my ideas of cutting my hours and *not* working 3 evenings a week to the bosses even while I want to do my part and am willing to stay late once or twice a week, and I think they understood.  I know the head pharmacist did; he has always known my heart was at home and tried to work things out so I could be more flexible.  The boss/owner, I’m no so sure of … while she is a mom and understands, she also said she wanted schedules to be “fair” and is concerned that everyone “carry the load” together – although she also said she was glad I was actually asking for LESS hours instead of more.

My old boss stopped by my office this afternoon and shared some more insight with me to the direction of our company … and yes, my comfortable billing job is definitely being down-sized to a bare minimum.  :(

But in all this, I have been reminded that God is (I want to believe!) working behind the scenes.  He KNOWS our needs … and He KNOWS me.  And He loves me.

I won’t have any answers to the future of my job for a day or two yet as the “leadership team” is discussing … and they have much more to discuss than just me as one more person on our staff has also submitted 2 weeks’ notice yesterday.  The dynamics of our business are totally changing – the focus will be more on the pharmacy and much, much less on the home/durable medical equipment (which is what I did the billing for).

God isn’t nearly as shocked as I am about all the changes … and He is calm right now.  He knows the plans He has for me.

That said, I have already been entertaining some other options and looking at available jobs as well.

Soon, I may be changing my blog to THE FRUGAL HAUSFRAU as we will definitely be tightening our belts around here if my hours are indeed cut – but I will, God willing, be home a full day to help organize meals and things that will cut costs in the long run.  Stay tuned for “the rest of the story” …

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Here We Go AGAIN:

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We’ve been busy around here with the annual “end of the school year” events such as our school’s high school formal.  Annie invited a friend who attended her theater class to be her friend-date.  She is a home-schooler and was excited about the opportunity to get dressed up.  She’s a sweet friend and unfortunately, we don’t get to see her often enough.

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A friend from Missouri was able to come as well since she was visiting her grandmother in a town about an hour’s drive away.  What a happy reunion!  :)

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Drew was nominated to represent the Senior class during the formalities (I guess it is kind of like a homecoming ceremony?).   He was a little reluctant, but he was a good sport about the whole thing.

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Mimsy is enjoying her last days of Kindergarten.  Recently, they had pajama day:

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Next week she has a field trip on Monday … and then practicing lots for the big graduation ceremony!

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On Thursday I was able to attend the award ceremony at school.  Three of the Seniors received various scholarships to college.  We are so thankful that at this point, Drew has about 3/4 of his first year of college paid for already because of this!

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Drew also made the Honor Roll.  (And he recently got new glasses and is looking very “Clark Kent”-ish.)

He also was nominated for a Youth Excellence award from the local Kiwanis by his guidance counselor.  This award is given to one student from each local school who has overcome adversity.   Daniel and I were also able to attend the luncheon in their honor.  I felt a little unworthy as some of the student recipients overcame such things as leukemia, autism, the death of a parent, or their home burning down!  Drew was chosen because of our financial difficulty, which requires him to work 20+ hours a week to pay for many of his own expenses – like his car and soon, college.  Which for us isn’t a hardship, it just is what it is.  But I guess we have no clue about how many kids are able to just have these things provided to them by their family….and that’s ok too.  God has a different path for each of us.

Anyway, with a recap of our family’s story fresh on my mind (the guidance counselor had written an essay summarizing our family’s backward journey), I returned to work only to be called into a meeting with the owner of our business and the head pharmacist.  I went into it optimistically … I had just received my summer schedule a few weeks ago and was very content with my new schedule that would be allowing me to work 2 days in the pharmacy a week and then 3 very flexible days in my billing office, which might allow me to actually do fun things more often with my kids this summer, something I was extremely grateful for after the “Bummer Summer” last year.

Well, the meeting started out good enough – a report of the direction of the pharmacy under our new leadership … The man who hired me is transitioning out very soon.  And then the hammer:  there was going to be YET ANOTHER new schedule given out for summer.  EVERYONE was being asked to sacrifice and help while the company tightened its financial belt a little bit … and shifts were being shortened … and hours were being cut … and apparently, my billing job was being down-sized to 5 hour a week!   5 hours in which to what I do in 3 to 4 days a week …

AND EVERYONE was being asked to “close” (ie. work until 7 p.m.) two days a week at the pharmacy. Except that I was also being asked to work a 10 hour day in our new branch store and close there on Mondays, too …. in addition to closing at 7 p.m. every Thursday and Friday at the branch pharmacy.

Of course, this news all came with the reassurances that I was a valued and appreciated, even LOVED member of the “team” and that I wasn’t the only one being asked to adjust my schedule.  Changes just had to be made at this time.

Somehow I made it to the end of the meeting, sometimes stammering something about my kids and my time being worth more to me than money and how I’d been so happy with my initial summer schedule… and I don’t even know what else I said, but in the end, I agreed to consider the new schedule and get back with them.

And so, for the last 2 days, I’ve prayed a lot, cried more than I care to admit, and prayed some more.  I’m not really sure why God allows things like this to happen and my expectations to be dashed to pieces again over and over … and why He requires me to consider doing hard things.  I just trust He knows why and is working something out.  And I also know that I will definitely be talking to the owner again next week to let her know that I am not sure I can accommodate them.  I’ve also been looking on-line at other jobs … but I am not sure if I should “live with the devil I know or start over again with an unknown devil” (so to speak!).

And so, once again, we are faced with a financial dilemma.  Is it worth it to NOT be home at dinner time 3 evenings a week??  After working with my budget again tonight, I am not sure I have much choice.  My other idea is that I ask to work even more part-time than I already do and save my company even more money by not having to pay me!  And then by being home, I cook more and tighten up on our budget by saving us money in other ways ….

So, my work environment has been somewhat subdued the last few days.  One of my friends at work just hugs me every time she sees me … Her quandary is more that she needs to work full-time too – and she has college age kids so she doesn’t have the dilemma that I do with my kids, who are waiting on me to get home each day so they can do something besides sit around this summer again.

So, please say a prayer for wisdom.  Of course, I am discussing it all with my husband, but he is also the most non-confrontational, slow-moving, not-rash-in-decision-making person you’ll ever meet.  He doesn’t like it that I won’t be home 3 evenings a week either … but he doesn’t think I should risk looking like I am not a “team player”.  So … pray for our marriage too!  ha!

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Posted in Annie-Belle, award, Drew, MiMi, Pharmacy, school, time management | 5 Comments

Time Passages …

I know it is so cliche’ … but TIME DOES FLY!  Babies become young adults in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes those baby and toddler years seem ENDLESS – the diapers, the long nights, the training, the teaching, the laughing, the wonder, the FUN!

And then, it’s over.  The kids grow up and they want to MOVE ON … and leave you … and do their own things …

And you know, I very well remember the month of my high school graduation – I COULD NOT WAIT to be done with school and move on and leave and do things on my own!!!!

May is going to be a nostalgic month for me – very emotional – and has already brought back so many memories for me.

My baby boy, who loved his Lambie, whose smile lit up a room, and whose eyes more or less TWINKLED with delight at everything …

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is now this young man:  he’s lost some of the twinkle due to the realities of life, disappointments in people, and responsibility of being in a family that can’t just give him everything he wants or needs … but he is still full of hope and has plans and is fun to talk to and can discuss anything from politics to God to personalities … and he has developed a sort of sarcastic humor that I get very well (but isn’t always appreciated by everybody, especially a certain teacher …).  I love that he is responsible and orderly and helps his Momma so much, even yet … He’s a great kid over all – not perfect – but from all we can tell, God has answered our prayers and he’s kept his heart pure and desires to do what is right.

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He will be graduating from high school on May 28th.  He has already sang in his last high school concert, and he is coming up on his last high school Field Day and last Honors assembly and then his last finals.  And then, he is done – finished with high school on May 18th – but the other grades go one week more, and then he doesn’t graduate until a Saturday after that.  And he is SO ready – Senioritis is REAL.

Just the other day Drew was graduating from Kindergarten (and Annie-Belle was very little – and Daniel and I were very young … and thinner!!)….

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And NOW our youngest girly wants to graduate from Kindergarten, too!

Mimsy will graduate on May 24th.  What a great year she has had!!

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She’s reading so well!  We were a little worried when our school switched its entire curriculum from what was familiar to us (ABeka) to something only familiar to us for older grades (Bob Jones).  It has been somewhat of a different approach to reading (now known as “literacy”!) and math … but the Bible stories and songs have been awesome – and Mims knows her phonics.  It works!  Her 2 teachers were a HUGE part of that as well, obviously.  Her main teacher is one of those Pinterest-worthy crafters who has done some really clever crafts and projects with the kids, and the other teacher has a degree in education which is paired with her compassionate heart – and it’s been a GREAT combination!

Our middle child has had a tough school year … despite this being her 3rd here in Arkansas.  I think our first year here we were full of high hopes and expectations, and then in our second year here, some of those expectations weren’t met – and hopes were dashed.  And this year has just been a struggle – academically (imagine your high school Biology teacher having his PhD in Microbiology and teaching you like he might a college class!!) and spiritually (our church’s youth group went through some changes and lost a beloved leader, but thankfully a friend’s youth leaders have taken Annie-Belle in to their ministry on Wednesday evenings) and emotionally (hormones, hormones, hormones!).

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But what I love about Annie-Belle is that despite her struggles with sadness and loneliness and anxiety is that she has TURNED TO God and COME TO her parents (mainly me) with her issues and talks to us openly and prays about situations.  While she doesn’t quite understand everything that is going on within herself and around her- and sometimes doesn’t like what we have to tell her (the reality of life and the truth of God’s Word that contradicts what the world tells teens) – she is open to listening to us and to godly teachers/counselors at school.  We have also recently turned to her wonderful pediatrician whom we have seen here the last 3 years and are getting some further help from her.  It is something that I may or may not share as time goes by … It is – of course – a very personal journey … but as I’ve been able to talk to a friend lately about teenagers these days – and teens who are trying to reconcile GOD with an enticing yet evil yet alluring yet dangerous world and its philosophies, who need support and godly counsel and good friends – even good adult friends (which seems to be more what Annie-Belle has right now than her-own-age friends).   Raising a child in this time period is not easy … I often pray for Jesus to just return and right all the wrongs (preferably before this coming presidential election!!).

I am so thankful for my momma-friends.  While most of my most-trusted friends don’t live near me, I know they are out there doing what I am doing:  their very dead-level best – with God’s help – to raise good, godly kids!  And many of my friends have raised some pretty wonderful adults at this point already (college kids and married adult children!) – and they are SUCH a huge encouragement to me that it CAN BE DONE!!  There are tears and prayers and worries and apologies along the way … but the end result of a great, life-long relationship with your kids is so worth it!

May is going to be bittersweet – but it isn’t the end … for many chapters of our family’s life, it is just the beginning!

 

 

Posted in Annie-Belle, Christian Education, Drew, Family, MiMi, school | 2 Comments

A Confession:

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It’s supposedly a Scottish proverbs that says, “Open confession is good for the soul.”

Psalm 119:26 says, “I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.” in the King James … and as I’ve studied upon that, I have found out that this means something of the same as the above proverb.  Kind of like “I have told you what I have done … and You heard me and taught me Your law.”   To that, commentator Matthew Henry adds, “While the souls of the children of this world cleave to the earth as their portion, the children of light are greatly burdened, because of the remains of carnal affections in their hearts. It is unspeakable comfort to a gracious soul, to think with what tenderness all its complaints are received by a gracious God.”

I am so thankful I have a gracious God!!  I can complain and confess and converse with Him, and as a tender Father, He hears me and continues to mold and teach me.  He is very, very patient … especially with me.

Occasionally, I just ice the cake, go over the top, and do something just really, really dumb.  You’d think I’d learn … you’d think I’d never want to feel the way it feels to feel so badly … but I continue in my willy-nilly ways and do things without really thinking (ironically, this is a classic lecture I give my 15 year old daughter at least weekly – “Think before you act!!!!”  You wonder where she got her spontaneity and inclination to do things without really regarding the consequences?!?!).

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Here is my confession:

Today I spent most of my day with a crushing weight on my chest … I was almost literally sick … and I could feel my blood pressure coursing through my entire body.  Yeh, I was THAT stupid.  Or at least I perceived myself to be!

You see, a few days ago, we got one of those tempting offers in the mail.  Innocent enough – it was from some satellite tv company (Direct TV) about how many channels you could have FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY for a really ridiculously low price.  Of course, there are clauses and limitations and whatever … and normally, I just throw that stuff away.  BUT this year, I wanted to figure out a way for my husband to watch his beloved St Louis Cardinals on TV.  Last year, this time, before baseball season, we had this huge struggle with our cable company because they dropped Fox Sports Midwest, which is THE Cardinals channel, and exchanged it for Fox Sports Southwest (the Texas Rangers channel … I mean, SERIOUSLY …. NW Arkansas is STILL Cardinals Country!!!!!).    Because we didn’t want to pay for any upgrades to our cable (and actually because of this practically canceled all TV services!!), we tried other means, but in the end, my husband ended up listening to most Cardinals games the old fashioned way:  on the radio.

THIS YEAR, I wanted him to SEE his Cardinals.  I mean, the man works 50+ hours a week to keep us going, he DESERVES this, right?!?!?!  And this offer in the mail offered the MLB (Major League Baseball) channel as part of their super, wonderful package deal.  And there were other perks … and after NOT having real TV for over a year, I just kind of wanted to do this.  My husband, being the go-along-with-the-wife-to-keep-her-happy guy that he is said OK.

Little did we know what we were getting into!   After talking to the customer service rep, the financial aspect of it all WAS true and good (even better internet service to boot) … but I found out today that the (FREE!!) installation of this service involved not just mounting a satellite dish to the house but also adding wires outside and drilling 2 holes in the walls and through to the outside vinyl siding!!   Which I authorized …. and the tech started working … when I realized WE RENT THIS HOUSE!!  It DOES NOT belong to us!!!  And I’m letting someone drill holes into it!

With a big gulp, I texted my landlady (and she works during the days so wasn’t sure I should call her).  I asked if she’d consider letting us wire the house for Direct TV … and she sent back  some message about she didn’t get my full message and she was busy at work (she’s a nurse) and that was all she said.

Of course, by this time, the satellite dish is ON THE ROOF, and the tech guy is nail-gunning new wiring to the outside of the house!!  The scenarios that went through my head for the next 5+ hours of the installation ranged from calm (“It’s really no big deal … just some wiring, a few holes in the wall, a satellite dish on the roof …”) to SHEER PANIC (What if she says NO and that she DOES NOT want any kind of satellite services done to her home!?!??!!?!  How do I explain – and what do I say and HOW do I reverse the damages??!?!?) and even more sheer panic (the landlady’s parents live DOWN THE STREET, what if they drive by and see the installer’s truck in my driveway!!?!?  WHAT will I say??!?!?  I am SO busted!!).

I couldn’t eat …. I couldn’t even enjoy the fact that I practically had the day off work because I had to be present for the entire installation.  THE LONGEST 6 hours of my life.  I couldn’t enjoy the Netflix series I’m currently watching.  My stomach hurt … my brain hurt!  WHY WHY WHY … I was too embarrassed to tell my husband what I’d done when he called to check in.

So, the installation was finished.   New TV with lots of sports programs and even faster internet service.  It was a done deal.  No turning back.   And I had to go about my evening … but still, that dread was there –  what if, what if, what if.

FINALLY, at 8:30 p.m. tonight I got the text from my landlady … and the final verdict:  SHE IS OK with having Direct TV wired for the house … In fact, she’d like us to just leave everything to include the satellite dish when we move out as it will be an “asset” to renting the house out again.  I have not felt this relieved in a very, very, very long time!!!!! 

And my husband fell asleep tonight on the couch with a pre-season baseball game on the TV.

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My reminder for the day —- and for many days ahead — is the wonderful feeling of a BURDEN LIFTED.  Today could have gone so much worse, and I could have faced some embarrassing consequences. Thankfully, I didn’t have to … BUT I was reminded not just of the wonderful feeling of release of a burden but also to “think before I act.”  And perhaps, the next time my daughter does something spontaneous that turns into a disaster, I will be much more tender and gracious towards her!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Cars

My parents-in-law came to visit this past weekend … It isn’t an unusual event, and normally, they bring their motor home so their visits aren’t an imposition on our already crowded little 3 bedroom house.  But this time, they said they weren’t bringing the motor home, and as they drove into our driveway in their brand new 2016 sparkling red Cadillac SUV, I realized why.  My father-in-law wanted to take his latest acquisition on a road trip … and who could blame him.  It is a fancy, powerful vehicle – a lot of fun for a former state trooper who is used to fast vehicles and precision handling.

The funny thing is this … Many years ago, I loved brand new cars – how they smelled and how they looked and all the fancy things they did.  Even as a young adult, I used to take pictures of BMWs and Porsches and Mercedes when I visited Germany.  I knew their names and their model numbers … which isn’t really something anyone knew about me because – let’s face it – it isn’t the “godly, young lady” thing to like or want.  That is more for the men – the guns, the cars, the gadgets and gizmos.

I have been privileged to own 2 brand new cars … modest Saturns, made in Tennessee, built in the mid 1990s and early 2000s.  They weren’t the fanciest – but they were fancy enough for me – and I, not my husband, was the driving (no pun intended!) force of getting both those cars.  Thankfully, both of those vehicles served us very well, and I traded the first one for the second … and now, most recently, after 13 years of hard driving and adventures, we laid the second one to rest with a worn-out transmission.

I write this because I am amazed at where I am now … Another sign of my lack of interest in this material world.  While I do not begrudge my father-in-law his newest toy, I lack any interest in it.  Sure, I had a ride, and it smelled new and it had so many features of convenience that I never knew possible!  Bluetooth and self-closing trunk and push starter and heated seats and mirrors that adjust themselves …. But here’s the thing:

If you asked me if I wanted a new vehicle, I’d tell you YES, OH YES!!  How I long for a nicer vehicle … but you know which one I want?  Not the 2016 Cadillac SUV with a fancy paint job and seats that adjust themselves according to who is driving.  I want one that can accommodate my kids and their friends and their stuff – and safely get me to work, to school, to church, to run all my errands – with well-treaded tires and a motor that won’t stall out and a battery that won’t die.  Stow-and-go seating would be a bonus and dual climate control is something I’d love … but most of all, I just want a vehicle that I don’t have to worry about my kids eating their French fries in or climbing into with muddy shoes because we’ve been playing at the park … and I can stuff a bicycle into it and not worry about scuffing its fancy leather seats.  That’s my dream vehicle!

The car I’m proudest of right now already sits in my driveway anyway … It is a little 2006 Honda Civic that is licensed in my son’s name because he paid for ¾ of it by working at his part-time job.  THAT is a car to admire – It has a cute little sun roof that Miriam thinks is just the best thing ever …and just for fun, there’s a spoiler on the back … just for looks, just what a teen boy might think is “cool”.  The perfect little car for a 17 year old boy – to get him to work, to take his sisters to school, and in the fall, to his college classes.  It has some issues even yet as it was rebuilt after being bought at auction, so even though it rumbles a little louder than a fancy Cadillac, that sound is as beautiful as any humming engine on the road today.

I begrudge no one a brand new car … I’d be a hypocrite if I did because I’ve had 2 myself … but it is funny how God changes your perspective when He brings you low … when He shows you enough is enough – that having needs provided each day is something to be incredibly grateful for – that material possessions are nice (believe me, I want MORE!!!) but they are worth nothing in comparison to your life, your health, your family, your closest of friends, and best of all, eternal life!

Recently, I’ve just been so “world weary” in this political season, now because of yet another tragic world event in Belgium.  The Germans have a word that describes what I feel:  Weltschmerz = world pain.   This world contains so much evil – and yet, thankfully, we do not fear because we know WHO has the ultimate control.  But still, to be an observer of the pain, the insanity, to see our Christian values so – well – devalued … it hurts.  To just be living the daily grind – for what?  To get a new car??  To live in a fancy house??  Is that all there is?

Thankfully, in Christ, there is SO MUCH MORE.  More purpose.  That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the luxuries of this world, as we work hard and frugally to obtain them … but there is more – so much more – ETERNITY.  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 2 Comments