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So Many Changes

08/13/2015

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Once upon a time, I wrote blog posts several times a week. I hardly missed a day. Not always deep thoughts but I’ve enjoyed this as a place to journal and keep records of our lives the past six years (even more if I count my previous blogs). I sometimes wonder if there’s any value in sharing all of this but then I get an email from a fellow foster mom looking for support, a potential adoptive parent thanking us for telling our story or a casual reader just checking in to say hello since this space has been so quiet. Two months ago I thought I was back to blogging and then the weeks quickly slipped by and I haven’t blogged much since then. I’m not sure how to restart without doing a general update post. Our family has gone through so much change in the past 6 months.

It started back at the end of winter as I was entering my third trimester. We were looking toward an unpaid maternity leave and what life would look like with two forever kids. An unexpected door opened as we prayed for provision. Jason auditioned for a new gig with a busier tour schedule that would translate to better income. He didn’t get it and we wondered why. It sounded like it was going to the perfect answer to our prayers. When he didn’t get the job, he started taking classes to get his real estate license. Then he got a call back; he got the gig after all. The timing was perfect for our finances. He entered a busy season of touring just a couple weeks before Isaiah was born and my unpaid time off work began. From his bunk in the tour bus he continued working hard on his online classes, studying and taking tests for his real estate license. It was a lot to juggle but once he’s got his mind on a goal there is no stopping him. He missed one weekend of shows—two concerts in Texas—for Isaiah’s birth and then he was back on the road two days after we got home from the hospital. His tour schedule was lighter in May, thankfully, because my recovery was much harder than I anticipated. But in June things picked up again. I started back to work full time, working mostly from home now—a huge answer to prayer! And also a new juggling challenge. Jason had 6 full days off/home in June and managed to fit his real estate licensing exam in there. He passed! He’s now a fully licensed real estate agent. His schedule for July was even fuller than June and it was taking it’s toll on all of us. Half way through the month he had a hard conversation with the band leader about needing to step away to focus on his growing family and his new real estate venture. He was willing to stick it out for a few weeks to help their transition but God made a way for him to be home within days of that conversation without putting anyone out or severing any relationships. He returned to his previous gig with a much lighter touring schedule and started full steam into his real estate business. And that’s just the big stuff. There were also soccer games, visits from out-of-town family, and so many doctors appointments for check ups, dentists, PT, OB, dermatology, radiology. Phew!

All the transitions have sent our finances on some roller coaster loopy-loops and been exhausting in other ways, too. But God is good. These changes are good and I can see His hand on us through every change. It has not been easy or painless but the blessings have outweighed the struggles:

We have two beautiful children. I was able to keep my full-time graphic design job of 8+ years and be home with my kids 6 days a week. Jason was able to add a realtor hat next to the professional musician one—both flexible jobs that allow him to spend a lot of time at home. I trust that life will feel less tiring soon, and in the meantime I have a newfound love of coffee.

The photo at the top, taken by our friend Beth Rose, basically sums up the past several months. But here are some other memorable moments, too:

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Cropping the Picture

09/19/2013

I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my sister-in-law the other day. She lovingly mentioned that based on my online presence it looks like I always have it all together. I do not. It’s not my intention to present a dishonest picture, rather, I just don’t imagine anyone wants to see pictures of the messy corners of my house where laundry is waiting to be put away and school papers have no home, or the hear stories about my two year old waking up every two hours the other night and me finally losing my cool at 2am and telling her she could scream and cry all night—which by the way is “bad behavior! very bad behavior!”—but I’m not coming back until morning…and I didn’t. So, see? I’m most definitely not perfect. I lose my temper. I have messes that need cleaned up. (Please don’t ask for a picture of the inside of my van.) I still struggle with worry and obsessive planning.

I read blogs, A LOT of blogs. I have enough mess in my own life that I don’t particularly like to read about other people’s messes. I prefer to be inspired by beautiful spaces, pictures of happy kids/family, stories about discovery, growth, appreciation, revelation, encouragement, truth, beauty of all kinds. That’s what I prefer to share, too.

Part of the art of photography is composition—deciding what to include in the photo frame and what to leave out. Sometimes it’s done after the fact by cropping the photo. I do a lot of exclusion with the camera…changing my angle to avoid capturing the messy countertop or pile of shoes by the door or whatever it is. I also use Photoshop to edit my photos. Here’s an example from Instagram on Tuesday. I cropped this picture of Ali painting in the driveway to block out part of the garage that’s not so pretty and also to cut out our neighbor’s house for privacy. I do the same with all of my writing and sharing in general.

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So there you have it. The truth is that my online presence is a cropped version of my real life. Part of it is for privacy (as I mentioned yesterday) and part of it is for art’s sake—to look past, around, or over the crap to capture the beauty. 


Blessing vs. Cursing

02/09/2012

This is a spiritual, philosophical, theological kind of blog post. Feel free to move along if that’s not your thing. Back in August of 2008 our pastor did a series on Blessing. (If you want to find the podcasts, look up Grace Church Nashville on iTunes.) The gist of it was this:

Blessing is speaking what you want to happen.

Cursing is speaking what you don’t want to happen.

People tend to think blessing=prayer but they’re not the same. If you look in a Bible, you’ll see that blessings are statements, proclamations and sound much like prophesy. It’s not asking God to do something. It’s saying what you expect to happen. Examples: “Have a great day today.” “May your house sell quickly.” “You are going to be successful!” “I am going to stay healthy this winter.” “She is a good sleeper and she will sleep well tonight.”

It’s similarly misunderstood that cursing is not the same thing as swearing or cussing. Speaking a curse is speaking what you do not want to happen. This is a tricky concept and it took me a while to grasp it. Examples: “Today is a headed for a train wreck.” “My house took a year to sell so prepare yourself for the worst.” “If you keep that up, you’re going to end up in jail just like your Uncle Bill.” “I hope I don’t catch his cold.” “We’re in for a rough night.”

You can see how each of these statements in the curses list counter the blessing examples. The difference is what is acknowledged, what is spoken into the atmosphere.

Jason and I hear parents curse their kids all the time, and we cringe. Sleep is a biggie. You won’t ever catch Jason or I saying, “Oh, that late, long nap might mess up her sleep.” Or, “She can’t nap in a noisy restaurant!” Or “She missed her morning nap—she’s going to be grumpy.” We don’t bother articulating those worries. Instead we just say and expect what we hope will happen.

Now is a good time to interject and say, I know that all kids are different. I know that Precious is super easy going and surely part of that is her nature. However, I firmly believe that blessing and cursing play a huge role. Here’s what we would say instead in those situations, blessings over our daughter: “She’s catching up on her sleep today.” Or, “I love that we can take her anywhere and she goes with the flow.” Or “Oh well, she’ll make up for that nap later.”

I’m sharing this because these fundamental truths have tremendously changed our lives. You don’t have to believe me but if you look around, I think you’ll see the evidence. It applies everywhere in my life: my relationship with Jason, my attitude towards myself, the words we speak over our home, our daughter, our future, our vehicles, our dog, our friends, our careers.

My job—that’s another big one for me. At one point, not long before I learned about blessing, my company went through a really tough time, laid off a bunch of people, had pay cuts, etc. I called our corporation a sinking ship. I spoke that curse over my employer. Once I realized it, I took it back. I decided that if I wanted to see my company succeed and my job continue to exist, I needed to speak blessings over it. So I started walking through the halls every morning and speaking blessings over my co-workers and my company. Things like, “We will do well this year. The Lord has provided for us and He will continue to do so. May so-and-so work hard today and stay focused. I bless my co-workers that they will have great ideas, creativity, efficiency and motivation. I say as company we will have integrity, we will have influence in our community…”

It may sound like wishful thinking, denial or some new-agey universalist idea. The truth is that it’s a Biblical principle and it works, whether or not you give God the credit. Even if you don’t believe me, just try it for a few days or weeks. I bet you’ll notice a difference. What do yo have to lose?


“Have fun!”

02/02/2012

I come from a long line of worriers through my mom’s side. When my mom was growing up, every time she’d leave the house her parents would call out one last warning, “Be careful!” The world is a scary, dangerous place. Because of the fear it instilled, my parents made a point to be different. When we’d leave for school in the morning, go out on a date, or take off with friends for a sleepover, instead of saying, “Be careful!” they’d smile and say, “Have fun!”

I’ve always made a point of doing the same. People often tell me, “Be careful!” when I’m leaving… my boss, friends, Jason’s boss as Precious and I were leaving for the Tampa airport last week. And I answer back, “Ok… Have fun!” Because, really, we’re always careful, smart, calculated, paying attention, right? But what really helps to counter the anxiety that starts creeping up before a big adventure is a reminder to have fun.

So, wherever you’re going: Have fun!


Winds of Change

10/10/2011

There is so much whirring around in my head but I can’t seem to organize any of it into a well packaged blog post.

There is everything and there is nothing.

Sorting through it is overwhelming.

I take a deep breath and keep going. Everyday.

One day at a time.

Looking too far ahead makes the butterflies in my tummy start flapping.

Reflecting on the past sometimes stirs up more pain than joy.

So I try my best to keep my head and my heart in today.

To be present.

To savor every moment I have with the people I love.

Last spring I wrote a post called On The Precipice as we were about to take the plunge into foster parenting. Right now, I feel like our toes are up to the edge of four different cliffs. It’s exciting times for our little family. And it’s a lot to take in. Jason’s mind is as full of spinning thoughts as mine…but it seems like when he’s pondering one thing, my brain is consumed with another. We’re doing our best to encourage and support each other. In some ways it feels like we’ve been disconnected lately with all that’s flooding in around us (or maybe just preoccupied) but at the same time, our foundation is as strong as ever and we’ve been holding each other up through each day. I’m so thankful to have my best friend right by my side.

It’s a strange season we’re in… or maybe it’s the change of seasons we’re feeling right now. Funny how the natural sometimes lines up with the spiritual. Driving to work through the park near our house one day last week, a shower of orange and yellow leaves rained down on my car as I drove under the trees. The beauty of it brought tears to my eyes. I love how God made the process of leavings dying into such a beautiful show.

(Image found through Google from here.)


A Picture of Our Lives Right Now

06/15/2011

I may have over-promised by calling this a funny story. We’ll see… if nothing else it’s a long story.

Last week when I met with our home study writer for my individual interview, we realized that Tuesday was our only option for the next/last appointment. I opened Jason’s calendar to June 14th and said, “Oh, that’s our anniversary.” Ms. Lady insisted we couldn’t have our appointment then. “But it’ll only take an hour, right?” I suggested. I mean, we’re not real fancy anniversary celebrators anyway. We go out for dinner. Sometimes exchange a small gift or a card. Well, she was not having it. No way was she going to interrupt our anniversary evening. It’s an off-deadline (less intense) week at my work so we settled on Tuesday morning and I’d work from home the rest of the day.

Jason and I have a tradition of getting either fondue ($$$), usually at the Melting Pot, or sushi ($), usually at RuSan’s, on our anniversary. It’s a ($) year so we made tentative plans to go out to a movie with our Living Social coupon (2 tix for $9!) and get dinner at RuSan’s, our favorite sushi place. Perfect, easy date night.

Then, on Monday I got a call from our electrician asking it was OK if she came Tuesday evening. I hesitated for a few seconds, then said, yes. Why? Because 2 weeks ago, while Jason was installing a new track lighting system in our kitchen, we had an electrical explosion. (See picture above.) The result was some burned 50-year-old+ wiring and no lights in 2/3 of our house. (The problem was likely some brittle old wires had been arching and eventually touched.)

(Our temporary bathroom light)

It took a week and a half for our schedules to line up so the electrician could even get out to our house to diagnose the problem. (Rightfully so, people who don’t have power to essential appliances like A/C or refridgerators get priority.) So when she asked if she could come Tuesday night, you better believe I didn’t mention to her that it was our anniversary.

(Running power to my cloffice)

Change of plans. Since I was working from home yesterday, after our 20-minute home study appointment Jason and I exchanged gifts (he got me a handmade-with-local-stone necklace and earrings from his recent trip to Alaska) and I gave him this “card.” Then, we dropped off my car to get the brakes fixed. After work, we went out for a geriatric dinner (translation: it was 4:30 pm) at RuSan’s so we could be back in time to meet the electrician at 6:30pm. And guess what? She got caught up longer than expected at her previous job and wasn’t able to make it out last night. Sigh.

(My pretty present from Jason)

Jason asked me if this was all ok. My response: This is a perfect picture of our lives right now. And a memorable (though not bad) 8th anniversary for sure!