Thursday, August 30, 2012

He is Constant....

What is the most consistent thing in your life? Or should I say, rather, Who?

Every Christ follower reading this should have responded with the sweet name of our Lord. Oh, but how often do we forget that? I know I do.

Did you know His Word is true? That His promises remain unbroken? That He yearns for you...yes, you.

Yea, I forget that from time to time as well. But, you see, one of the coolest things about God is that He always finds a way to remind just the right moment.

In one of my more recent blogs I talked about my struggle with surrender. That was never more prevalent than this week. Not only are things already tough financially, but there has been some mix ups with the debit cards for our bank accounts. I don't need to get into the nitty gritty but suffice it to say that yesterday when I checked our bank account, it wasn't pretty and I was not happy. We'd been charged overdraft fees AFTER I had deposited money to cover the overdraft. I went to get it straightened out but they only took away one fee (as a "courtesy"). When all was said and done, we were down to single digits in our account. I have NEVER had that happen and I was mortified...and felt defeated. I knew I was getting paid this week but I expected 3 days worth since the pay period was from Aug 1 to Aug 15 and I only worked the 13th-15th. I knew this would not be enough to cover bills.

I was in tears when I got back into my car after accomplishing next to nothing at the bank. And I know God tried to speak to me immediately through song...He does that a lot. But my spirit felt crushed and I didn't want to listen.

Today, I just poured myself into work. This year, it's the place I can forget about all the other stuff. I don't feel the weight and the burden when I'm there. Can I just tell you how nice that feels? But I'll get to that later. After the day was done I went to check my box and found my first paycheck. I was happy to have some money but at the same time was gearing myself up for figuring out what I would decide to pay and what I would leave alone this month (something I've also never had to do). But as He does over and over and over again, God reminded me Who He is. I had a FULL 2 weeks check! Unexpected? Yes! I was overjoyed and just thanked God over and over for showing me again, that I don't need to worry.

I can't begin to tell you how many times J and I have asked that question over the course of the last few months as God has provided in a myriad of ways. It seems like every time I turn around we're asking, "Why do we worry?"

And not only was it a full 2 weeks check, I calculated that I'll be bringing home a few hundred dollars more a month - enough to give us wiggle room. Ah, wiggle nice. Thank you, Lord! I think I could write a book on the ways He has provided in the 11th hour for us. It's incredible!

Now back to my job....I absolutely love it there. The atmosphere, the people, the kids...just about everything. The morale is 100 x's better. The majority of the faculty works together for the greater good of the kids. I love my 5th grade team and couldn't ask for better co-workers. They are incredible. And while not being able to have my own room right away due to permitting issues and whatnot has been challenging, I couldn't ask to team teach with a better partner. While I am ready for my own space and I'm sure she's ready to have me out of there, we mesh well. We're teaching the exact same thing so we get to split the work which is so nice. And I love 5th grade. I know it's still early in the year but I think it may be my favorite. They're old enough that they can work independently pretty well and can carry on a decent conversation and young enough that they are still sweet and still want to please. I absolutely adore them. Sure, I'm finding things that Polk County actually does a better job of than Hillsborough (gasp!) but at least I get paid more and at my school, we get comp time! Yes siree bob! I feel like I want to give more of myself now. I've been in survival mode nearly since I started this career but I think I'm going to get out of that mode this year. I find myself wanting to give more effort and time....mostly because my kids appreciate it. The Lord definitely placed this job here for me in this time....and I will never be able to thank Him enough.

In closing, here is the song I mentioned above that God tried to use to speak to came on the radio tonight too as another gentle reminder. It was as if He was saying to me..."Do you get it now?"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Busy Little Bee

Sweet Gabriel,
It has been too long since mommy blogged just about you! So I'm going to do it tonight. You are a little over 19 months old. You had your 18 month check up last Thursday (it was a little late b/c mommy procrastinates). You are in the 85th percentile for your weight which was 27.8 lbs I think. You've been 27 lbs for months because you eat and then you run, run, run!!! But you are in the 95th percentile for your height...which I don't remember what that was because I was focused on keeping you still but the doctor says you're going to be a big boy. 

Your smile and your laugh still make me melt. You say, "Hi!" when I walk in the door and usually bring me something like a ball or whatever you're playing with. You are definitely a daddy's boy though. If he's not in the room, all I hear is, "Dah-ee!" We just recently rearranged a bit and brought the kitchen table back into the dining room instead of the Florida room and put your toys in your room to play. We stopped using your changing table to change you because you are just too big. That was kinda sad for mommy. You're almost getting too long for your high chair so we may have to find a booster seat soon. 

You love bananas, or 'nanas as you call them and get one every morning if we have them. You also love oatmeal, eggs (especially daddy's), pancakes, and almost any breakfast food. You've been weird about chicken lately but you love pasta and meatballs and carrots and peas, applesauce, goldfish, cheerios, and anything else that anybody else anywhere near you is eating. You're doing fairly well feeding yourself as long as it's something thick....but even then, sometimes you get frustrated and just dig in with your hands. I probably should stop you from doing that but hey, I figure whatever works best for ya! You love love love your almond milk. We don't give you regular dairy milk because you seem to have congestion anytime we give it to you.

You are sleeping about 11-12 hours a night. You go to sleep usually between 7 & 8 depending on how you're acting and you wake up between 6 & 7. Then you usually take a nap around 9:30 and sleep for a couple of hours. You're a very good sleeper. You don't fight 'nigh nigh.' I give you your binky and your blankey (both of which you call your "memes") and you will usually go right to sleep at night. 

You love bath time! Now you follow me into the bathroom and wait for me to take your clothes and diaper off so you can get in. You like to play with your little toys but you especially like to splash and run your hands through the running water. 

Although you keep us super busy, I am loving this age. You have so much personality. Everywhere we go you want to tell people HI! You seem to have a 6th sense for knowing exactly who you can really trust, although sometimes I think that's just a cool kid thing. You play really well with other kids and you are attached to your cousin, Mileena. You two are hysterical together. She has taught you a lot of words but now you're at that age where you are mimicking everything. I think you have learned the word 'toot' tonight...that would be my fault. And while we're on the subject, when you do toot, you smile and then make the same sound with your mouth. Silly boy!

You have learned to sign please but when you say it, it sounds like "me." So when you ask for a "bite please" it really sounds like "bite me." That's okay...we're working on it. You also sign "thank you" even though it looks like you're blowing a kiss and you sign "more" and say "mo." You also tell us when your cup, or "bah bah" is empty by shaking it back and forth and going "ee ee." I am currently trying to teach you to fold your hands when we pray but we're not quite getting it. It's alright...I know it will come when it's modeled enough for you.

I have a lot I want to teach you and probably could if you could just sit and pay attention...but nope, you'd rather be running around doing your own thing. You are certainly Mr. Independent. That's okay. It'll come. You just be a kid! 

Mommy and daddy love you and although sometimes we miss the little tiny baby that needed us for everything, you bring us so much joy everyday. I hope you never forget how much we love you.

Before your 1st haircut but you have that face I can't resist. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The connotations of that word are endless. It can mean many different things to many different people. But to me? It's a necessary action for this time of my life right now.

I NEED to surrender. All. Everything.

Let me be real. For the first three years of our marriage, J and I didn't struggle financially. Were we wealthy by the world's standards? No. But we were comfortable. We had what we needed and then some. We never worried about bills being paid or having enough for groceries. In essence, we didn't live paycheck to paycheck.

In the last year and a half, though, that has changed. We were blessed to be able to buy a house and we knew going into it that we were going to have to be careful because we would be paying more and we were having a baby. Things still weren't that rough but in the last 6 months, they have been rougher than usual. I've worried. I've cried. I've gotten angry. You know what none of those things did for me?

None of them changed the current situation. And why should it? God clearly has a plan for us in all of this and I have to trust Him. Nay, not just trust, but really surrender it all - the questions, the worry, the tears, the anger, the what ifs, and the whys. Why not? Why not us? What makes us so special that we shouldn't go through these trials? Perhaps He's chosen us to go through this because something wonderful is going to come out of it. So maybe we're special because we're going through this.

What I know is this: God has always provided. In every way. Every day. Through everything.

This morning during worship we sang the song, Forever Reign by Hillsong. The chorus goes like this, "Oh, I'm running to Your arms. I'm running to Your arms. The riches of Your love will always be enough. Nothing compares to Your embrace. Light of the world forever reign." He spoke to me in the moments of that song. In spite of our situation, He has to be enough. It was as if He was asking me directly, "Daughter, I know your struggle. I know your situation. But I alone have to be enough for you. If all else fails, if all else fades away, I, your Savior, have to be enough. Am I?"

I realized in that moment that the worry I've had over our financial situation was essentially telling Him that He wasn't enough. I have to be content with not only what I already have but with WHOSE I am. I am a daughter of the Most High. Why would that not be enough? If everything turned to dust tomorrow, if our only working car broke down, if we lost our house, if my husband never got another job and had to go on disability, Christ alone - the riches of His love - would have to be enough.

How can I be sure that He would be enough? Surrender. Surrender all. Let go and let God...something I am still learning to do.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

End of a Chapter, Rest of Story Unknown

Disclaimer: Long detailed blog ahead. Proceed with caution.

My, has it been a long while since my last blog. Shame on me. I have been crazy busy though. And A LOT has happened since that last post. I wrote last about adjusting to life with my hubby at work again. And just as we were getting into a nice rhythm and getting used to things, life threw us another curve ball. The Tuesday after I got back from Alabama in early July, hubs woke up and could barely walk. He eventually called in to work after wrestling whether to go in and try anyway but it was clear there was no way he could do the job he had before him. So, we got him into a podiatrist that day and when she looked at his x-rays, she couldn't believe it. She told him she had never seen anyone his age with so much arthritis in his feet.

Now, allow me to build some back story...for those of you not acquainted with my husband. He has severely flat feet. We joke that his feet suction cup to the floor because they're so flat, although it's really not a joke. For the years that I've known him, he's struggled with his feet. At his old job, there were nights he would come home and literally have to crawl around because he could barely walk. But after a night of sleep, he'd wake up ready to go to work. But that Tuesday morning, it wasn't happening for him.

The doctor suggested 3 weeks off of work but he asked for the doctor's note to read light duty b/c he knew asking for 3 weeks when he was still in his probationary period was not a good plan. But as was ultimately God's divine plan, his supervisor told him he'd have to take 3 weeks b/c there was no light duty work and that the points (basically demerits) alone for missing so much would be enough for termination. Now his supervisor was extremely understanding and was mostly concerned for J's health and physical condition in the long term. So, we prayed and trusted that whatever happened, was God's plan.

The doc wanted an MRI for his left foot thinking he had a torn ligament & also gave him braces to wear. A couple days of wearing the braces, and he was feeling good. He called his supervisor up to tell him that he didn't think it was torn, he just needed better support & that if he could just put him on the gate until he had the money for better boots & support, he would love to come back to work.... but he needed a doctor's clearance to do that & she wasn't going to write one until the MRI.

Those few weeks turned out to be good though. His oldest sister and her family came from Texas and he got to spend some really good time with them that he wouldn't have gotten had he been working. Gabey and I had just spent a whole week without him and that gave us more time together but we were still feeling like the job was going to work out. His supervisor told him not to worry about the points, just to call him whenever he would hear something else.

The 2nd to last weekend in July, my mom officially moved from the house I grew up in and I went by myself that weekend to help out. Earlier in the week J had his MRI & Friday, while helping move things into the apartment, I called to find out his results. It wasn't a torn was worse. Apparently, the bones in his left foot are fusing together at the joints, a rare and genetic form of arthritis. The doctor herself said he was the first case she had actually personally seen. Fantastic. I was a wreck. Putting faith in God when you have no idea what is going to happen is tough. But I had to trust that God knows best & whatever his plan was...was perfect. They ordered custom orthotics for him & she released him back to work with a warning that his job was not ideal for his feet. He wasn't ready to give up yet so that Monday he went back & told his supervisor that he would know by the end of the day if he was going to make it or not. It looks better to resign from CSX for medical reasons than to be terminated & they assured him that it was much easier to get in again once he's worked there once.

By 2 o'clock that afternoon, he was done. He could barely stand & although he was frustrated, he knew that God was in this no matter what. So he resigned & was told what position to watch for on the website b/c if it showed up, he should apply.

So here we were again.'s the thing: without this CSX job, he would have never gone to a specialist & we would not have found out about his feet...something we really wanted clarity on for a while. We also would not have noticed this soon how Gabey's left foot pronates in a lot just like his daddy so hopefully we can catch this early and can start preventative measures so he doesn't end up in the same boat. And, right after he resigned, our reliable and trusty Honda started to make a really terrible noise when we cranked it up. Bad enough that my mechanically inclined husband refused to drive it anywhere. Is that any coincidence that the car he drove to work would poop out the day after he resigned? Not to mention the other vehicle, the dreaded Ford, hadn't been a reliable source of transportation for quite some time.

He spent 3 days 2 weeks ago working on his sister's car in Zephyrhills and then was able to work on the Ford. He replaced the water reservoir that had a crack in it & we thought that might be it but upon driving to Ocala that Friday it acted up again. I was supposed to stay with Gabey at mom's for the week and help her get settled and get ready for the moving sale but it was apparent that first day that I would be of no help with my adorable and loving but rambunctious son so daddy took him home & told me to stay & help my mom. So that I did. He was supposed to come up the following Thursday but told me Wednesday night that he wasn't driving the had acted up all day & he was convinced it was the alternator. Great! The extra money we had was being saved for his orthotics. I lost it again. Why did it seem like everything was happening all at once? I was trying to keep it together but it was growing increasingly difficult. Mom let me borrow her car and I drove to pick them up. She also told me that she was giving us money from the moving sale to pay for the alternator. While I was grateful, my independent streak wanted to refuse. I hate taking money from people, even if it is my wonderful mother.

We ended up doing really well with the sale and she gave us the money. We were able to fix the Ford, thereby making it the reliable vehicle...go figure. We still thought we were in for a rough month. J had looked at his paycheck wrong & thought he got paid just enough to pay for the orthotics but when I looked at, that amount was in the checking...he had the other HALF in savings. He forgot he had them split his check up so now we have this extra money to last us until I get paid again. In all of this, God has shown Himself as He usually does and Matthew 6 always comes back to me: Why Worry?

And I have learned how to shop cheap. I've started shopping at Aldi for basics and am saving more than I did with couponing and I'm shopping at Winn Dixie for specialty items that get me fuel perks so we can save at the pump. I also had to buy clothes for work...we have to wear uniform style which yes, kinda stinks, but at that same time is fine because now I don't have to worry about what to wear. So I bought four pairs of pants from Goodwill for $19 and I bought 3 polos from Salvation Army for $6. I'm thinking I'll just stick with those places from now on for anything. Who needs brand new when you can pay a fraction of the price on clothes that, for the most part, are gently worn? I mean, I bought 4 pairs of pants and paid what I would normally pay for one pair and bought 3 shirts for LESS than what I might pay for one. Saving money? Yes, please.

So, some chapters have closed on our lives: the house I grew up in, working at Sleepy Hill, J's job at CSX for now (short chapter, but sometimes that's how they are). And although mom moving out of our house has brought a ton of emotions with it, it's a good thing. And I'm getting some cool stuff out of it: my great grandmother's sewing machine (need to learn to sew now), the gazelle machine (elliptical style), an antique children's desk, some antique style classic books (Wuthering Heights, Gone With the Wind), among other things. The chapters of our lives as we knew them are closing and new ones are opening. I know the rest of the story will hold new and wonderful things, even if it is unknown for now.

"I know not what the future holds, but I know WHO holds the future."
That's good enough for me.

In all of this, this song right here has been our always reminds us what HE said & plays on the radio at the exact moment that we start to question....