Thursday, August 16, 2018

Celebrate Good Times...Pt 2

The last post was my birthday.  I mentioned how excited I was for this momentous occasion.

So this time I am going to tell you how I celebrated...

A couple of months before the big day, Hubby started to think about what he was going to do.  He knew I wanted a big celebration.  So many people mean so much to me, and I love a really good party! Naturally, I wanted everyone I knew to come and celebrate with me.  Good food, good music, games, fellowship, and cake!!!!!

First, let me say.  I love my dear Hubby immensely.  He is brilliant, handsome, handy and enriches my life just by being around.

HOWEVER...keeping secrets is not a task he is particularly good at.  Being stealthy in my house is already a challenge, because like it or not, want to or not, I have a tendency to find out surprises.

In an attempt to make my birthday celebration spectacular, he made a rookie mistake.  TOLD OUR DAUGHTER!!!!  HAHA

My hubby can keep some secrets.  He isn't a blabbermouth, but we tell each other everything, so it is hard for either of us to not spill the beans about a fun surprise.  My daughter on the other hand, well...she is less refined in the ninja skills of surprises.  She's pretty, but she gets too excited about the impending surprise that she spills the beans too early.

This is precisely what happened.  Hubby told the daughter, the daughter told me.  She didn't run right out and say it, but in a momentary lapse of judgment over something unrelated, she informed me of a party that was going to take place.

Hindsight, Hubby could have chosen to confide in many of our close friends for help, but he decided to hire within.

Well as soon as daughter told me, she knew she had revealed far too much and promptly pleaded with me not to tell Hubby.  Well, what was I to do....hmm...

I waited until after she went to bed.  I mentioned to Hubby the gig was up, but that I didn't want to know details, I just thought he should know there was a mole within the company.

He was actually relieved! He asked me to help with the menu, of which I obliged but that I refuse to have any further involvement.  At that time, we also agreed to not tell the daughter that Hubby knew.

It was quite fun to "feed" her information, knowing she would go back to base and discuss with her commander.  Hubby and I would then discuss what information she got and refine it.  She had NO IDEA that he knew I knew.

Of course, I had to help a little with more than food.  I had to give the guest list, or "leave my computer available for spying on" so that daughter could get access to info.  Hubby was going to spread the word by playing telephone, which I discouraged.  It needed to be an actual invite, online or otherwise.

I would go grocery shopping and bring home this or that for the party.  Hubby and I would wink at each other behind daughter's back.

I did keep it to that.  He worked on projects that I had no ideas on.  I didn't want to know who would come or who declined.

The party was at a different location, so we had to devise a good story for why Hubby left me on my birthday, then what excuse I would need to be at the location by a certain time.  Frankly, this would have been the best time to enlist a friend to aid in the surprise, but it was too late at this point.  So I made a list of things I would treat myself to that morning until I was supposed to be at the party.

The day before I made all the food.  Since only Hubby and Daughter knew that I knew, I had to make the menu look like Hubby did and not me.  (Our culinary skills are VASTLY different!).  I gave him the list of things he still needed to prep day of.

That morning of the party, he loaded the car and set off.  We had too much fun giggling over our little plan.  We still had yet to reveal to the daughter that I had told Hubby she spilled the beans.

I had planned to do lots of things but ended up spending most of the morning on the phone.  The longest was with my son.  We talked about the spider web of deceit going on in our house leading up to the party.

Finally, I was able to get ready and leave the house.  I wanted a new shirt, cash my birthday coffee reward, get a new pair of earrings then mosey on over to the party to be surprised.

I was a few minutes early so I had to text Hubby if it was ok to go.  When I got the thumbs up, I went to the house.

I saw a couple of friends walking up first. Once I parked the car and got out, I was SURPRISED!!!!

My son came running toward me! All the time we were on the phone he was driving to the party.  I didn't expect to see him since he lives 5 hours away.  I was shocked!!! He knew that there are a couple people in our house that can't keep secrets so they didn't even know he was coming!!!  That was such a wonderful surprise!

I made my way to the deck and there were friends and family waiting for me.  Even if I knew it was going to happen, my heart was overwhelmed to have so many precious people share this amazing occasion with me!

We had a great time! Delicious food, great conversations, we even play with the games Hubby made.  He had Yardtzee there and Ladderball.  Both games were a big hit and we took them to other parties that same weekend.

We drank, ate and had cake by the bonfire till late at night.  I had such a great day.  I am so thankful for each person who took the time out to be there that day.  It meant so much to me.  Even those who wanted to be there, just to know that they thought of me was enough.  I was so overwhelmed with the amazing blessings of that day.  Every tiny detail.  Joy.

When my daughter got home, (she went on a weekend away with one of her "big sisters" and wasn't at the party), we told her all that took place.  The look on her face was enough.

Happy Birthday to me! A wonderful day! Now bring on the grey hair!

Thank you to everyone who made my celebration so memorable. Love you.

The rest of this month will be as busy as this summer has been with my baby brother getting married.  That will be fun! I will tell you about it when we get back from that weekend.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Celebrate Good Times....Pt. 1

Today is my 40th birthday! I am so excited for this day! 

Yes. You heard that correctly! I have been waiting for the day to turn 40!  

Age has never been something that I was overly bothered by when it came to getting older.  What would bother me is that my age did not accurately describe the road I had traveled.  I hated to considered young, a "baby." 

I have always felt older.  When I was a child, someone told me that I had an old soul.  I loved that.  It better reflected what my outer shell didn't.  My heart and soul bears battle scars and laugh lines that can't be defined by my age.

Age is never a good depicture of how old or young someone truly is, yet so often it is used as a qualifier.  Someone can be older and still so childish.  The flip side is true as well.  Many of those in my age group have young kids, newly married (less than 10 years), just starting careers, etc.  It was harder to be relevant to the season of life they were in because my season was farther along than they.  And because I was "young," I was looked over as someone who can mentor and walk alongside.  I have been there, and I have learned a few things.  Iron sharpens Iron.

I still love those friendships, but my closest relationships are shared with those older than I.  My kids are older, my marriage is older, and the season of life I am in is more relatable to those 10 years my senior.

Some of my precious friends worry over turning another age.  I embrace it.  I don't love that my body breaks down easier, yet it has for years.  My brother-in-law asked me if I feel old.  I just told him, "No.  I feel like I am finally catching up!"

I love being 40.  I am excited for the things that lay ahead.  Even more so of leaving behind the tangles of life that I was tired of caring around.  I will no longer let someone else define my worth.  I have gifts to share.  I have songs to sing.  I have something to bring to the table.  Even if I still have work to do, I don't see it as insurmountable. I found a new strength and today I am declaring freedom!

I could have chosen this before now, yet there seems to be an unspoken stigma that being young (under 40) you are not experienced enough in life.  It shouldn't be that way.  When someone would ask my age, the response was often- "You are so young, such a baby."  It didn't reveal to anyone that I had already lived a lifetime before most would finish college, and that I am only a few years away from having an empty nest.

It isn't that being 40 is the magic number, but more a defining point for me.  I am shaking off the chains I have been carrying.  There is still healing to take place, but we all do no matter the age.  I am done with putting so much stock into what people think of me. I simply just need to be all that God has created me to be.  And being older, it has become the accepted time to declare that. 

So, age doesn't define me. NOT anymore! I embrace it! Relish it! 

Today, I celebrate!!!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Speaking of New Beginnings......

So, for some time now I have been trying to figure out what I should do with myself aside from
working as wife and mother.  Remember me talking about my "mid-wife" crisis?!

Those who know me well, understand that I love sewing.  I have been commissioned to do several projects over the years, but it is only from the last few months that I have been encouraged to pursue that as my outlet professionally.

First, I need to give credit to where it is due.  I have known how to do simple things on a sewing machine since childhood.  My mom showed me how to do a straight stitch, how to chain-sew a quilt and instilled a fear of ever playing with the tension! She had a sewing machine when I was growing up that we like to fiddle with.  It had this really cool lever that when you pressed it down, a knob would pop up.  So popping it up and pushing back down was fun.  Yet- we didn't realize that was the tension gauge for the sewing machine and it messed things up.  Anyone who sews knows...tension is a big deal!

With that knowledge, I would fiddle here and there, but never advanced passed what I had understood as a child.

Until I met A.  She was a home ec teacher and avid cook who, if you were going to be her friend, you simply had to learn.  She is a teacher forever and my limited know-how was encouragement enough to become her pupil.  

So teach me she did.  She showed me things that I had once feared and even pushed me to learn even more.  She challenged me in so many ways.  Our families clicked famously, so it was natural to doing everything together.  We became family.  

I learned how to do lots of things in the kitchen that were so valuable to know.  My skills as a mom, wife, and homemaker became more versatile and creative.  

Much of everything I do today both in my home and out of it is because of her.  When she moved away, it was so hard.  I can be frank and tell you that I grieved.  We stay connected, and we do the best we can to not let the distance be a barrier.  We send each other challenges to each other for a sewing project.  We make our creation then send it back to exchange another challenge.  

It is for this reason that my passion for creating has been lit.  She refused to let me stay stagnant and limited.  I love that.  And I still am so grateful that she was strategically placed in my life and I in hers.  Her whole family is forever part of ours, deeply loved and terribly missed.  Thank goodness we can text, Skype (once we figured it out, lol) and visit.  

Now that I have told you where my inspiration came from, I will tell you about my new adventure.

Hubby has started a new job, so I thought I could start one too.  After some careful, loving prodding from close family, I have decided to have my own business.  I am happy about this decision.  It will give me the time I need to be available for my family, but fill my days with tasks to do that I won't have time to feel guilty about downtime.  It will be completely custom creations.  Whatever you want to be done, we can figure out how to make that and in what color.  

Hubby is super supportive and even helped with my naming my venture.  Sew'n Joyed.  I have a facebook page, Instagram and will start a blog as well.  Still trying to figure out all the components for this journey, but I am excited about what it will be! I have already been working to fill orders and have a list of ones that are coming in.  

Whatever this works into, I am happy.  I know that I am still learning, but to have a direction has been amazing.  I am enjoying the process and watching where God leads...

Monday, June 11, 2018

A New Beginning

Today Hubby is going back to work.  The timing is perfect.  We have been as diligent as we can be, but it was getting to a place where major losses might start to happen.  

Even if we had come to that, I know in my depths that God has our back.  He is not surprised by the mess on our plates, and He has already decided what the result will be, so worrying doesn't add anything helpful to our lives.

This job Hubby is starting is such a compliment to him, and the mentors who have spoken into his life.  When word got out that he was looking for a job, he was contacted by an old colleague that thought Hubby would be a good asset to the company.

Hubby's face lit up to hear that years of hard work, studying, taking careful note of what mentors and co-workers said, had left an impression.  He has been so good about doing his best and I couldn't be more proud.

While no position in the company was open, this colleague was convinced that Hubby was needed.  We didn't expect anything to come of it. We simply reveled in the compliment.  

A couple weeks went by and we figured nothing came of it, which we were ok with.  Then Hubby got a call from his colleague that the team leader wants to have a phone interview with him.  NO promises, but it was a step in the right direction.  

After the phone interview, the team leader was really impressed. From what we were told he went straight to the CIO and informed them that their company needed my hubby and to find a way to make it happen.  So naturally the CIO called and wanted a chat, then there was a formal interview.  After it all, we still weren't holding out that there would be something.  

As I stated, there was nothing open at this company and budgets were tight.  My hubby's skill set must have been desperately needed enough to warrant an offer.  

Signed and delivered!!!  He is back at work.

We still have a transition with new pay cycles and our first check still a few weeks out, but God is good.  He is still just as faithful in this as he was when we were facing unemployment.  Am I still scared? You bet!  I have to keep my thoughts focused on what is at hand and tasks I am required to do today.  If I don't, I begin to fear that the job won't last, or something will happen, and we won't be in a place to take care of it.  NO amount of that worry is going to give me the upper hand in the situation.  It will only lead to sleepless nights, depression, stress and poor choices.  

So, day by day we are required to take the step of FAITH.  Complete confidence in our Provider that the path we are on is exactly where we are supposed to be.

Do I still cry a little over what happened? sure.  The others that were casualties at the time Hubby was let go, are still looking.  My heart hurts for them.  It is still infuriating that the former employer is smudging good names, making poor business decisions and forcing more employees to receive the losing end of it all.

I still believe that in all this God's plan will prevail and those that were served injustice will be encouraged and cared for by HIS provision.  In perfect timing, HE will see to each of their needs as He sees to each of ours.

So here is to the new beginning and all that God has in store for this new chapter.  I will let you know how it goes...

Psalm 94:18-19 New International Version (NIV)

When I said, “My foot is slipping,
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It Comes in Waves...

When I said, “My foot is slipping,

    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy. (Ps. 94:18-19)

Ask me at any time how I am doing right now.  The answer you would get varies by the minute.  Sometimes I am fine, and really fine.  Sometimes I am angry.  Other times I am worried.  And on occasion I am good.

Why the emotional roller coaster?  About a month ago now, my husband was laid off.  It was a totally "out of left field" punch in the gut!  There has been no rhyme or reason for it.  It was undeserved and personal.  And it wasn't just my husband.  It was family members too!  

The first week was rough.  Really rough.  It was a lot of revengeful chatting, late nights filled with tears, having drinks with friends to commiserate, regretting the woulda/shoulda/coulda.  We were processing through grief, fear, anger, a lack of understanding or answers.

As each day moves forward, we do as well.  One foot in front of the other.  My husband right away started cleaning and updating the resume.  Filing for unemployment.  Fighting to get his personal belongings back, (which he was NOT given a chance to retrieve before being escorted from the building).  We started searching for things to sell.  Looking for odd jobs to make a little cash.  Cutting budget items. 

While I have complete faith God not only knew this was coming, AND has a plan to move us in a direction that brings Him more glory and our good...It DOES NOT stop me from sometimes letting the fear take hold. Especially over our financial picture.

Everyone knows that you should be prepared for events such as these financially. It is where we all are hit the most tangibly. We were working hard on that.  But we weren't quite there.

We had just bought a house early last fall.  We have a son in college, credit cards to pay and medical debt.  We were fiercely attacking the things that we needed to after major movements like that. We hadn't quite gotten recovered before WHAM! No more income coming in for who knows how long. All saving, paying down debt, everything came to a screeching halt until further notice.  

We know God provides all things! He is the Jehovah Jireh.  Our great Provider.  We have already seen it happen!  

The first example was a two weeks ago. My husband graduated with his Bachelor's Degree that weekend.  We had planned to have a nice dinner with a special group of people after the ceremony.  Our intention the whole time was to pay for dinner.  When Hubby got laid off, we weren't sure what would happen.  We chose not to say anything either way both out of embarrassment and uncertainty. We decided to let God sort it out, praying for his help. God granted us the desired of our heart to bless the people who have supported and loved on us.  Right before dinner, I was handed the means to ensure dinner was paid for from a completely unexpected source.  It covered what was needed without taking out of own limited resources, and gave us the privilege to bless our loved ones. It was humbling. It was tangible evidence that God was present with us in our circumstances. It meant so much to us.

To see the relief and joy on Hubby's face was good enough for me.  We know God cares about even the little things.  We know that it will be alright. 

Even with our confidence in Christ as our Provider, the emotions still rise and fall like the tidal waves. 

We have been down this road before.  In a much different place where our lives were already stretched too thin.  It was 7 years ago, albeit feels like a lifetime.  We were beyond broke, struggling in our marriage, on the brink of losing our home (which we did 2 years later), and being crushed by outside pressure and judgement from people we trusted.  

It was a really hard time, and there were some very dark places. We made it through, learning so much about God's provision and about each other too.  It stretched and pulled, now stronger for it.  


When Hubby called the morning of April 11th, I knew...we were heading back to the trenches.  We are in a different place along the journey, but fear took hold fast.  I didn't want to go back.  I didn't want to go through that again.  I had nightmares for a week.  I tiptoe around my house, to keep my distance, afraid of either being a basket-case, or being angry.  Hubby does too.  We are always on the brink of something, and often we take it out on each other.  we know we aren't to blame, it just happens.

The pressure to appear strong is exhausting.  I don't want to live under scrutiny again.  I am back in that place where I feel every penny spent earns judgment from others whether it is their business or not.  Every decision makes us question what direction we might be headed. 

This is NOT the worst thing that can happen, and I know that others deal with far heavier loads.  I do not make light of that.  Each of us are given only according to God's purpose.  Whatever that might be and regardless of being able to make sense of it.  He is working. Always. Intentionally.

He will provide the strength we need until the purpose and provision is complete.  We walk through the process in FAITH as we WAIT for God to show us where he is working.  I know HE IS! 

This post is raw, vulnerable, but honest.  These emotions come in waves.  But my foundation is secure.  I am still grateful each day for the littlest things.  I am watching for God to meet our need.  Would I love a winning lottery ticket that will cover the financial obligations on our plate right now? Sure! But luck is not something to count on.  

Only God knows what we need and I have to trust that He sees more than I can.  I have to WAIT for His timing.  My Jehovah Jireh will take care of us.  While we work to do our best, He will do the rest. The provisions may not come as I expect, or look like what I hoped for, but they will be infinitely better than I planned! That is something I can count on!

Psalms 91-94 has been a source of encouragement for me recently.  Read it and be encouraged too. 

Psalms 91-94 (Bible Gateway, NIV)  

Monday, March 5, 2018

Discovering Me...

It has been a very busy couple months of the year so far.  I blink and the time has whizzed by with hardly a notice! 

Much has happened during this time, giving me an opportunity for perspective.  I have been doing a lot of thinking about where I am now in my life, and where I want to go.  What defines me? Who am I really?  What is important?  What investment am I contributing to God's kingdom? 

My son reminded me (as if I could forget) that this year is a BIG one!  I turn 40 this year.  Most who know me, getting older doesn't bother me, it was being young.  Often, when people would ask how old I was, their response was that I was such a baby. So young.  It always felt like I didn't get credit for all that I have walked through in life.  Or maybe it reminded me of things I regret.  

Either way...

I hate that.  Many in my age group have young kids still.  My oldest is a Sophomore in college, and my youngest will graduate from high school in 4 years. Hubby and I are making plans for when we are "empty nesters."  I may not have much gray hair, but I have earned the battle scars from life to not be called a baby.  At least now, when people ask I can simply say I am in my 40's. Ha!

As my birthday approaches, I am finding that my outlook on what matters and what doesn't is changing.  There are places in my past that I have allowed to define me. I find myself thinking alot about words and actions of others, even as a child, and how I let that determine what my worth was.  What I could be in life.  The way God sees me was always filtered through those things.  I was never enough.  I have to earn being loved. Why?!  The only purpose that served was to allow my view to be clouded. It wasn't truth.  It was/is living in fear of failing and disappointing others. 

I had a friend say once that being in your 40s you finally stop caring so much about what people think.  We stop being ruled by their control and fear.  And I can say, that I think there is a lot of relief in that statement.  Truth even.  As much as I hated being "young," I am discovering now how freeing it is to finally put to bed the hold others have on me. I have known that was true for a long time, but grief can keep you from doing it. 

A precious conversation recently pulled this thought full circle for me. Even though this has been something that I have wrestled with so many times throughout my life, something profound stuck out.  Some of the reasons we hang on so tightly to what others think/say, is that without that pain, we don't know who we are.  It is scary. While the intellectual in us knows that we have to let go of what we can't change, the child in us is crying out and still hoping it will.  What kind of power do I want to let my past have over me?  I don't have to let it define who I am anymore.  I can chose to stop letting it have power over me.  

The tangible memories designed to remind of failure, of that past, they will no longer have power over me. There isn't any reason to keep them.  I will burn it.  No more chains.  Regrets, hurts, all of it.  I won't let it control me anymore.  I refuse.  IT'S TIME TO REBUILD!

It doesn't mean that it never happened.  It simply means that I will not let it be the filter for who I am.  Who am I in Christ. (2 Cor 5:16-17) God doesn't think of me as who my past says I am.  God doesn't feel the way my past does. (Isaiah 43) He will take the ashes from those places in my life and make it beautiful! Not because I deserve it, but because HE LOVES ME!  I am worth the gift He gave through the death of His Son. (Romans 5:8-10) I am worth pursuing a relationship with.  I am worth an adoption to His family, to be a part of His kingdom as His Daughter. (Romans8:16-17)  A place at the table.  

What do I do now?  That is the best part.  This year is a BIG one, but not just because I am turning 40.  I have a chance to discover.  What do I want to be when I grow up?  What purpose has God given me to invest in His kingdom?  I can wrestle now with a better view of eternity.  To fuss over what truly matters for the sake of Christ, and what doesn't for the sake of preference.  

It isn't because I am turning 40 (which I am excited about!!!), I suddenly believe.  It is something better.  I think God's time was just that He allowed enough to happen for me to finally want to put it all down.  It will not be wasted, and He has purpose in the battle scars.  But the grip it has had in my life is finally loose.  I can allow tears sometimes, but I don't have to stay there.  It isn't what I am.  For me, maybe turning 40 is just a marker for when I can look back.  It will be the defining moment...

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don't think you've lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” 

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Momentary Trouble...

Clearly I had something else that needed to be done today than what I had planned.  Wonder why I think that? 

My car.  Dead again. Yep.  Once again, my car is not usable.  The frequency this keeps happening is... well WAY TOO OFTEN!  

We have had this car for almost 8 years.  For the first half of that time, we didn't have any issues with it.  Then it started...

First, the seatbacks fell off.  Ok, no biggie.  We got the clips to put them back on. The just came off again.  We tried something else.  Nope! They just won't stay on.

The radiator needed replacing. Then the alternator, some wiring rats chewed up, timing belt, the starter, then replaced the engine, the windshield, the radiator AGAIN, the alternator, recall on the airbags-fixed; the list is long.  That isn't including the normal wear and tear, regular maintenance, etc.  

We have patched, repaired, patched and repaired this car diligently, with the best we can do.  But yet, here we are...dead again.  It is likely just the battery this time, but still not what I wanted to deal with today. 

I can deal with many different struggles.  I have learned hard lessons, that I know I will have to go through again.  But this one trivial situation, to some..well...

What gets me every time?!...EVERY TIME! car trouble.

I don't understand.  We take care of our cars.  We do our best. Yet it seems that there is some bad luck we can't shake when it comes to cars.  My hubby and I have had more cars that anyone should, with only one person I can think of as the exception.

There is no grand epiphany about why we continually get tested on our car situation.  I wish there was.  

Do I believe God is in this? Yep.  Of course I do.  He knew that I would get up in a grouchy mood this morning, get my things together to head to my water aerobics class.  He knew I had plans today to spend with a friend who always makes me smile (so it would have been good for my grouchy mood too).  BUT, He also knew that I would get into my car, turn the key and not even a click, blip or flicker signaling life in my car.  That means grounded at home.

I do believe that God has a reason for allowing this to happen AGAIN...I have NO IDEA what that might be. So how can I respond to this?

There is a verse that comes to mind right now, that I hope will be a big encouragement to me today, but to you too...

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT)

17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I want to encourage you.  Whatever you are going through this morning, this day, this week, this year...Hold tight to the truth that the struggle won't be wasted. He will see us through he big stuff that weighs us down to the little annoyances we deal with daily, even silly car troubles.  This promise gives hope in the situation we face today. Our struggle refines us, deepens our faith, and gives us courage to press on.  That doesn't happen instantly, but when you look back, you will see.  His fingerprints will be all over! He is working!!!

Am I frustrated?  Yes. Am I worried? A little. Do I want to get rid of this car and get a new one? Probably.  But will all this solve my problem? Likely not.

I need to fix my gaze on things that can't be seen.  Not on my circumstance.  Maybe someone reading this needed to hear this.  I hope so.  Iron sharpens iron. God is bigger than any circumstance I face.  I need to respond with the courage and hope I have in Christ, even through the emotions.    I look forward to the glory our struggles are producing! When we finally won't have to play tug of war with this world.  Until that day, I need to hold fast to truth! God is in this.  I will get up and try again.

Today was a small struggle.  But tomorrow might be bigger.  Either way, it will be alright.  God has my back. to see about charging my battery...