Sunday, May 19, 2013

Prayer Request for my Readers (all 4 of you!)

I have no idea who still reads my blog, or if anyone does.  I may be typing to no one.  I don't mind so much usually because this space is as much about my need to write (it's therapy for me) as it is to hear from those who read it (although I do love knowing that someone reads & enjoys it.)  But just for today, if you read this post, can you please leave me a comment and let me know you'll join me in praying?  I'd love to see your comments HERE, rather than on Facebook or wherever you find the link.  But if you don't have a way to comment here on the site, email me or inbox me or whatever.

This may be a little lengthy, but please bear with me.

Last summer, I was looking for a job.  I needed something with more pay because our finances were stretched way past the limits.  My paycheck was so tiny and our bank account was overdrawn every single month.  The struggles were overwhelming.  I can't tell you how many times I went through the line at the grocery store with a shopping cart full of groceries only to have the debit card declined because we were too far overdrawn to cover that week's groceries.  It's sad when you check the bank account online before you leave the house to see just how overdrawn you are & sit there with a calculator, determining if you can afford to get groceries at all once they add in the overdraft fee.  We never missed a meal, but those sort of situations are so humiliating. 

So I started looking for a new job with better income.  I needed something that I could do during the hours that the kids were in school.  Ideally, that meant staying with the school system where I was working, but in a full time position. However, after applying for several openings, nothing worked out.  I was bummed that it meant looking outside the schools.  Education is really in my heart & soul, but I just couldn't find anything.

In August I started a new job at our friend's law office.  I was terrified of starting a whole new career, in a field where I basically had no interest and no experience.  But I was thrilled that I had finally reached a place where we could relax a little.  Our finances improved.  My hours were good.  Working for a friend with similar beliefs and background meant that we really had a lot of fun at work.  We talked and laughed a lot as I learned a new job.  It made all the "new" more comfortable.  Larry and I were so grateful for the chance to improve our circumstances through this job.

A few weeks after I started working there, my boss/friend found out that his mother was ill and he said something like "I am glad you're here for this season.  Maybe the whole reason you're here now is to help me through this tough time with mom being sick."  At the time I didn't think much of it.  I mean, I thought it was a nice sentiment, but I didn't give it a lot of thought.  His mom passed away just a few weeks later and the next couple months were really tough on him.  About the time he started feeling 'normal' again, he accepted a job elsewhere and let me know that my job would be ending soon.

For the next 7 weeks I feverishly applied for about 80 jobs.  (I'm not kidding.  It was really that many.)  No one seemed to want to hire me.  I cried and panicked and worried.  I was angry and sad and frustrated---all at one time.  Larry & I argued.  The stress in our home was palpable.  Neither of us had a clue how we'd pay the bills or what was to become of us.  I was applying for anything I could find.  Everything from a medical transporter---one who would deliver tissue, blood & urine samples to a lab--- to clerical jobs to restaurants to well, anything!  But somehow, with all those applications out there and all the million opportunities that I looked into, still nothing worked out.  I kept believing that God had the perfect job in store and I just had to wait.

In the end, the job I had left at the school (you know, the one with the small paycheck) opened back up.  I returned to it.  The same campus, the same desk, my same old computer.  It was the easy solution.  The paycheck was still small (actually, it was even smaller than before since I returned mid-year & the salary is figured differently) but I knew the job and the people and it was better than having NO job.  I promised the principal that I'd stay through the end of the school year.

And now that school year is coming to an end.  We only have 9 days left with the students.  Summer is right around the corner.

The fear is setting in again.  I am back to the drawing board, so to speak.  While I could choose to stay where I am (they aren't kicking me out at the end of the year), the reality is we still need more income and nothing is going to drastically change in this job's paycheck between now and August.  But if all else fails, I can return there.  I love the people I work with & enjoy the work.  I just wish I could add another digit to the number before the decimal on my paycheck.  There are jobs opening up for the Fall in the school system and I am praying God opens the doors for one of those jobs.  I have contacted the person in charge of each of the positions to let them know I'm interested, but now it's just a waiting game.  If nothing works out, I will be back to looking outside the schools and I really don't want to go there again.

Tonight I was thinking about all of this and asking God why.  Our 1 sided conversation sounded something like this:  "Why did you even have me take that other job in the Fall?  I didn't really fully learn the job before it was over.  It was kind of a big tease financially.  I got a bigger paycheck for a few months, but it didn't last long enough to make a dent in our bank account.  And leaving to take that job meant returning to the school mid-year with a smaller paycheck.  What was the point of all that?  Why did you give me that job just to take it away again and cause so much stress and heartache in our home?"

That's when the statement that my friend/boss made last Fall came back to me.  In my mind, I could see him sitting behind his desk, saying what he did about my being there for the help him during his mom's illness and death.  Honestly, it's the first time that has crossed my mind at all since the day he said it.  Maybe his words back then were a bit prophetic and he didn't even know it.  Maybe God had me there for just that reason.  Maybe it was never meant to be permanent.  Maybe it was always just supposed to be for a season.  If that is the case, I am totally content and happy that it happened.  I would do it all over again to help a friend.

And maybe God removed me from that job (& took away the bigger paycheck) for the same reason that He's reduced our income again & again over the years -- to force us to rely on Him more fully.  Maybe my lot in life is to have less, to live leaning into Him day in & day out.  I've said before that I don't think Larry and I are capable of having even a little more than we NEED because as soon as things get easier financially we quit relying on God as much.  I find myself not praying as much and I'm not in the Word as much when I feel 'comfortable' in life.  While my flesh would love to have a bigger paycheck to make life smoother, my heart knows that it's just not a good idea for us.  And no matter how many times God shows me that, it's still really hard to say it out loud, to actually ask God NOT to give me any more than we NEED.  Good grief that's hard.

And so, as I look ahead to summer, I am anxious to see what God has in store for our family.  I am praying that He has prepared the perfect job for me within our school system.  One that would make our lives easier financially, but not to give me so much in a paycheck that I would start feeling too comfortable & quit remembering to seek Him for every single need, for every bill, for every pair of shoes that my kids so rapidly outgrow, for every bag of groceries, for every breath.  I pray that He's already working out the details of what lies ahead for us.  I pray that He is whispering in the ear of the Principal who should hire me and is beginning to work out the details for me to have a successful interview.  I pray that He will place me in a position where I can stay long-term.  I am ready to be done job-swapping!

I don't know what the future holds, but could you join me in praying for all the details to fall into place now?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Year of Dates: May

Today, Larry and I went on our May date for our Year of Dates.  This month it was a "Health Date".  (We switched this from a Saturday to a Sunday date, so the envelope has that part wrong.)

We have a great local walking and biking trail that winds its way through several miles of the prettiest part of town, through the woods and over several small streams.  We walked about 2 miles of this trail first.

After our walk, we were planning to go to Subway, but ended up detouring to a closer sandwich shop where we got pretty much the same thing we would've ordered at Subway.  So it was still (relatively) healthy.

When we left there, we took the long way home just because we could!  Quiet time to drive and talk is near the top of my 'favorite things to do with my sweetie' list!

And yes, I ate some carbs on our date.  And they were yummy!  I'll be back on the low-carb wagon tomorrow morning.  Mother's Day and a date give me permission to eat carbs!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week 1 of the Low-Carb Life

For years, when friends have talked about going low-carb to lose weight, I just laughed.  The idea of the Atkins diet, where you basically give up EVERY kind of carb, is way beyond what I can fathom ever doing!  After all, I like carbs and it doesn't make logical sense to me to give up all carbs.  Any diet that makes you cut out an entire food group doesn't sound healthy to me.  Your body needs some carbs to survive.  Plus, I always told myself that I can't do low-carb because most of the recipes and ideas for snacks you can find online include fake sweeteners. I have IBS & fake sweeteneres are one of my triggers, so I know that I just can't go there.

The thing is, all of those people who went low-carb lost weight.  And they kept it off because they had developed new eating habits by the time they dropped all the weight and so for them, going without (many) carbs just became a way of life.  Meanwhile, I kept thinking I could never do that.

But a couple of weeks ago, I decided, with great trepidation, to do it after all.  After all, nothing else I've done has worked.  I started reading and deciding how I would go about it before I ever 'announced' it to anyone.  I came to a few conclusions.

First of all, I really LOVE healthy foods.  I love veggies.  I love fruit.  I love chicken and fish and turkey and shrimp.  I love whole grains and yogurt and healthy cereals.  And I love to drink water!  But the problem is, I also LOVE soda and chips and sweets and pasta and rice and donuts and chocolate and flour tortillas.  So I had to figure out a way to make this work without feeling like I was depriving myself completely!  After all, a "diet" isn't smart.  If you're only changing your eating patterns short term, as soon as you go back to eating "normally", you're going to gain back all the weight.  So I knew that if I did this & it worked for me, I needed to find a way that I could do it that would work for me long-term.  After all, if I go to someone's house for dinner & they serve something heavy in carbs, I'm not going to be rude & say no!  And by golly, when my babies have a birthday, I'm going to have a piece of their cake without any guilt.  And once every couple of months, we go out to dinner and I plan to enjoy those meals.  So I just had to figure out what my diet would look like on a regular, daily basis in between those 'special events'.

Last Monday was day one.

I have given up soda, chips, pretty much all breads, sweets, cereal, pasta and rice.  For now, I'm only eating meats, fruits & veggies, beans/peas, eggs, nuts, yogurt & low-fat milk.  Oh, and lots & lots of water.

Day 1 was hard.  I was soooooooo hungry all day long.  I never felt full, so I snacked.  A lot.  I think I ate about a million almonds and 3 cups of yogurt that day just trying to make it from one meal to the next.

Day 2 was a little better.  I wasn't starving, but I had huge cravings all day long.  I would've killed for a Dr. Pepper that evening.

Day 3-5 gradually got better each day.  By day 4, the scale showed an almost 4 lb loss, but I think it was a fluke because on day 5, the scale went back to only showing a 2 1/2 lb loss without any change in anything.

Day 6 was ROUGH.  I baked some 'healthy' cookies.  All natural, no processed stuff, all good healthy carbs in them.  But I guess since it was the first taste of anything sweet I'd had all week, it threw me into binge mode & I ate umm, well, a lot of them.  And THEN Larry came home from working about 10:00 that night and had a whole pizza.  I stood over the box and ate several pieces before I shook my head & realized "whoa....what am I doing??!!" and got rid of the box so it wouldn't tempt me to keep eating.

Day 7 I got back on track, but man oh man, I felt the effects of all those carbs on Day 6!!  My stomach was a mess.  I felt awful.  What a STRONG powerful lesson about what too many carbs do to me!

Today was day 8, the end of the 1st week.  The scale is holding steady at 2-3 lbs lost.  Praying that number keeps going!

I'll report in next week & let you know how this coming week goes.

It's got to match!

So I'm a tad OCD.  But I prefer to think of my idiosyncrasies as fun little quirks.  So let's just call this whole post documentation of fun quirks, okay?  I like for my shampoo & conditioner to match.  You know, same brand and type of product.  I don't like to mix it up and use, for example, V05 coconut scented moisturizing shampoo with an Herbal Essences None of Your Frizzness conditioner.  I know it's stupid, but that's just how I am, so hush.  If I empty the conditioner before I'm done with the shampoo, I either have to go buy another bottle of conditioner to use until I finish out the shampoo or I abandon the bottle altogether.  (Don't worry, I give it to my husband or kids to use---I don't throw it away!  That's wasteful!)  So, knowing that about me, imagine my horror when I got into the shower this morning, already feeling a little rushed, and found this.

Apparently when I picked up one of these in the store, saw that it was conditioner and glanced at the shelf, I grabbed the matching bottle of 'shampoo'.  Only it was not shampoo.  It was another conditioner.  Do you see how the color of the 2 bottles is a little different?  I'm sure I didn't read the second bottle in the store...I just assumed it was shampoo since the color was a little different. 

I stood there with water running down my body, trying to decide what to do.  I couldn't double-condition.  I needed to wash my hair!  I decided that I had to do the only thing I could---just use the old half-empty bottle of shampoo I already had.  I figured I'd take one of these bottles of conditioner back to the store later and trade it for shampoo.

So I grabbed this bottle of shampoo, perched on the little ledge where my husband and son's bottles belong.  You know, next to the hairy bar of soap.  Boys are so gross.

I washed my hair, then replaced the shampoo and grabbed for a bottle of conditioner.  This one was turned upside down because the contents were so minimal, so I figured I'd just finish it off. 

But after it started bubbling, I realized that (dang!!) I'd used a 2nd bottle of shampoo--not conditioner!  Good grief.  I didn't double condition, but now I had double shampooed. With two different types and scents!  Eeeek!

I realized then that my husband and son don't condition their hair, so there were no partially empty bottles of conditioner to use.  So I resorted to the 2 purple bottles of lavendar-scented stuff that I started with.

When I got to work, someone told me that I smelled so good!  I just laughed because I couldn't tell them which shampoo or conditioner did the trick.  After all, I should smell like a honey-coconut-lavendar-peach/apricot smoothie about now.  (My bodywash is peach/apricot scented.)

If you get a whiff of a fruity mixture today in my neighborhood, it's probably me!