April 20, 2015

Writing Conference!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , at 3:01 pm by Tamara

Image credit: http://centrum.org/2014/08/creative-nonfiction-workshop-nov-6-9/I have to share a cool story: I’ve been wanting to go to a writers conference for years, and a few months ago I found out there’s a big Christian writers conference in Estes Park in May.  I instantly wanted to go; unfortunately it’s too expensive for me to be able to afford all three days of it, but I found out they offer a few partial scholarships and I thought maybe if I could get a scholarship I could go to one or two days of it.  I wanted to take my time to write as compelling an application as I could, but then morning sickness hit with a vengeance and I could barely get off the couch, let alone write an eloquent scholarship application.

A couple Friday nights ago something (or should I say Someone) made me think about the conference and I got on the website to see when the scholarship deadline was.  I was crushed to see that it was that day.  I told Adam I had missed the deadline, and he pointed out that it was still technically the day of the deadline, even if it was already 10pm.  I was exhausted and feeling miserable but I decided the worst that could happen was that I submitted a horrible application and they rejected it, so I started writing.  I had to tell why I wanted to attend the conference, my writing goals, current writing project, what I’m doing to meet my goals, why I need a scholarship, etc.  What I sent it was honestly pretty pitiful; nowhere near the compelling and eloquent application I had wanted to take my time to write.

I didn’t expect to hear anything for a while, but the very next morning I got an email from the conference organizer saying that she was so blessed by my application that she contacted the man who offers the scholarships to ask him if he would consider covering one more FULL scholarship for me, and he said yes!  She also said she wanted to arrange for me to meet with five agents to present my book, and recommended that I sign up for critiques with two authors.

I was completely stunned and told Adam, thinking there was no way I could leave him and the kids for three days, but he immediately insisted that this was too great an opportunity and I had to go.  My parents and in-laws said the same thing and graciously have offered to help with taking care of the kids and helping pay for my hotel for the conference.  So, it looks like I’ll be going!

The conference looks amazing: the theme is “Write His Answer” (Habakkuk 2:2); there’s a faculty of 56 authors, editors, and agents; workshops on everything from writing in deep point of view to how to handle spiritual takeaways in fiction without preaching to how to market your book; and one-on-one meetings with agents and publishers.  Estes Park is a beautiful mountain resort town; I wish Adam could come with me so we could enjoy it together!  I’ve only been away from Bear overnight once and have never been away overnight since Songbird was born, and while I feel a little heartsick thinking of being away from my family for three days, I also suspect it will breathe new life into me as a mommy!

I’m amazed that God is giving me this opportunity; not only because of the opportunity itself but because of the timing.  We’ve had some really discouraging closed doors lately.  I KNOW the truth that God proved his love for me once and for all on the cross (Romans 5:8), but I’ve struggled to hold onto that lately when so many circumstances seem to imply that he’s just forgotten about us.  The fact that God chose to bless me with an opportunity I’ve dreamed about for years at a time when I have felt discouraged and even angry with him is amazing proof of his gracious love for me, and how his love is not conditional on whether or not I am worthy of it.  What a message about the gracious, generous character of our God!

Secondly, it has reminded me that I can trust God and the members of his body to accomplish what he wants to accomplish.  One of the things that is so intimidating to me about the prospect of missions work is that we will need to raise financial support.  I worry that we will never be able to share our vision in a powerful enough way to compel people to be involved in our ministry.  The fact that total strangers are being so generous to me, even without the perfect, eloquent application that I wanted to write, reminded me that if God wants to take us to the mission field it won’t be through my efforts and clever words, but through his power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  It has reminded me that there are believers in the body who are eagerly listening for his voice and willing to joyfully and sacrificially participate in his work.  How encouraging!

The Israelites set up stones to remind them of what God had done for them (Joshua 4:19-24), and I have several stories of God’s provision that I’ve set in my heart as my “12 Stones”–things I can go back to it and be reminded that God loves me and will provide for me–and not just my needs, but often my heart’s desires, as well.  I’m adding this to the list!  (If you want to read other stories, click on the “12 Stones” tag in the sidebar.  Some of them are pretty funny.)

Since I registered so close to the deadline I’ve been SCRAMBLING to get everything ready; choosing excerpts of the book for critique, preparing my “one sheet” and book pitch for the agents, registering for my workshops and one-on-ones, and all the other little details.  The fact that I’m still dealing with pretty severe morning sickness (and even got to spend a day in the hospital last week) hasn’t made it very easy to get my rusty creative brain functioning again, but I’m doing my best.  I’m really praying that I’ll be feeling better by the conference so that I can get everything possible out of it!

If you’re curious about the book, to be honest I don’t feel like it’s anywhere near ready to be sold.  Mostly my goal for the conference is to just learn about how to improve my writing and get some feedback on my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.  The prospect of having my story critiqued by agents and published authors is, frankly, terrifying (!) but I’m going to swallow my insecurities and just try to learn from the experience.
Many of you have been so encouraging to me and my writing dreams in the past, and if you would pray for me related to this conference I would so appreciate it!  Pray that I can prepare well, that I’ll be healthy and have energy for the conference, that I’ll learn everything that God wants to teach me, make good connections, and for my husband and kids while I’m away for the first time!
Write His AnswerI know many of you are also writers, and if you’re interested in attending, here is a link to the conference.  Registration is still open and it would be so fun to have friends there!  :)  http://colorado.writehisanswer.com/

January 1, 2012

Farewell, 2011!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 12:18 am by Tamara

What an eventful year 2011 has been!  Here are some highlights and some of my favorite pictures.

January: Six months pregnant, we flew to Wisconsin to visit Adam’s family and celebrate a late Christmas.  They threw us a baby shower while we were there, and it was so fun to see so many friends and family!  Next we flew straight to Arizona for a Larson family reunion.  Thanks to weather we almost didn’t make it, but finally rolled in a day late.  Again, it was so fun to see family!  About this time, Adam decided to switch his major from Pastoral Counseling to Bible Exposition, and we started to wonder if we should move.

Somehow this was the only family picture I got in Wisconsin!

Some (not all!) of my extended family at our Christmas reunion

Cousins!

February: Back in South Carolina, we celebrated Adam’s 25th birthday when I took him on a surprise weekend away in North Carolina.  We spent a day hiking around the waterfalls in the mountains (being careful not to get TOO far away from the car since I was almost eight months pregnant!)  Then we visited the Biltmore Estates in Ashville and wandered around downtown Ashville a bit (before the pouring rain started).

Looking Glass Falls, North Carolina

The Biltmore Estates

March: Nesting kicked into full gear as we anticipated our baby’s due date.  I still worked at the bookstore, spending all day bending down to shelve books.  Some days I felt like just staying down on the floor once I got all the way down there!  My mom came a few weeks before the due date, and we treated ourselves to pedicures, planted the garden, and waited for baby!

Nine months pregnant!

April: Baby’s due date came and went, and while I was thankful he wasn’t born on April Fool’s Day, I was so ready to meet him!  Finally, on April 11 they induced me, and on April 12 Bear  was born!  There are no words to say what a wonderful gift we received that day.  He is worth all the misery of pregnancy and labor a million times over.  And, we decided he was just waiting until both Grandmas could be there, because (thanks to his late arrival) Grandma H. arrived a couple hours before he was born!

First Family Picture!

Coming home from the hospital

May: Grandma H. and Grandma L. went home, and we settled in to life with a newborn.  We got our first smiles from Bear and fell more in love with him every day!  Adam proved to be wonder dad, and would get up in the middle of the night to change Rean and bring him to me as I stumbled out of bed.  Sleep deprivation and all, we LOVED being parents!

Smiles and Giggles!

Ready for safari!

June: We flew to Colorado for my sister’s wedding.  Bear was eight weeks old, and while I was apprehensive about flying alone, he did amazing!  Adam flew out a few days later and we had a blast at the wedding and loved introducing Bear to his Grandpa L., aunts, uncles, and old friends.  Back in South Carolina, we celebrated my 27th birthday.

At the wedding

My favorite birthday gift

July/August: We had been questioning our future direction ever since Adam decided to change his major, and having Bear made us miss being near family even more.  After a lot of prayer we decided that, since Adam was no longer pursuing a degree that was specific to the school in South Carolina, he wanted to transfer to a seminary closer to family.  There aren’t any seminaries near Adam’s family, so we decided on one in Colorado and started preparing to move.  We made sure to take Bear to the ocean (my favorite part of South Carolina!) and he was pretty impressed with the sand and waves.

Three months old

The ocean–one of my favorite places in the world

My favorite place, with my favorite boys!

September: We spent most of our “free time” working on projects around the house, getting it ready to sell.  I was still absolutely loving getting to be a stay at home mom with Bear, who got cuter every day!

Five months old, first solid food!

Date night

Time to say goodbye to our beloved little house.

October:  We said goodbye to our house and a few wonderful friends in South Carolina and hit the road.  We decided to visit Wisconsin “on the way” since Adam had a few weeks before he had to start his new job in Colorado and Bear still hadn’t met the H. side of the family.  We got to meet our new nieces and nephew who had been adopted from Colombia, South America in February.  We relished every moment spent with Adam’s family and our Wisconsin church family!

Six Months Old

Little Bear Meets Old Bear

Grandma and Grandpa H and the Grandkids

November: We arrived in Colorado!  For the first time since Bear was born we had family members close by to hug, cuddle, play with, babysit, and admire our sweet boy!

Playing piano with Grandma L

Thanksgiving Dinner, 2011

December: We celebrated Bear’s first Christmas, and the first time Adam has been in Colorado for Christmas with my family.  It was so fun to watch Christmas through the eyes of a baby, and to be near family!

Bear’s First Christmas

Christmas with a baby is so fun!

Cutest, sweetest little boy in the world. We are so blessed!

All in all, 2011 was a year full of new adventures and God’s care and faithfulness through it all.  I can’t wait to see what God has for us in 2012!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

December 31, 2011

The Blog Liveth! As do we: in our parents’ basement! (Wait. What?!?)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:31 am by Tamara

What’s with the siren song tempting me to start every blog post with “Well”?!?  (Or, worse still, an apology for taking so long to post.)  Both options are about as exciting as watching grass grow.  I stop my ears, siren song of well/sorry!!

Anyway.

We’ve been in Colorado almost two months now, and life is still pretty up in the air.  We haven’t signed a lease on an apartment yet, mostly because Adam’s job situation is still in progress.  He’s been working two jobs, but we’re really hoping he can get one better paying job (and actually have time to do little things like, you know, sleep and eat).  He had a preliminary interview with a school bus company and they told him he has to do another interview in January, but if he passes the background check, etc, he’ll get hired.  That’s very good news, since they pay significantly better than his current job and he would have regular hours (YAY!) instead of never knowing what his schedule will be from week to week.  The only downside is that the training doesn’t start until February, and we won’t know until it ends in March whether he can get full time hours right away or only part time.  But, even if he’s only hired part time he’d make almost as much as he’s making full time at his job now, so we’re really praying it will work out!

At any rate, we’ve decided it’s best to wait and see what happens before we sign a lease.  The cost of living here is pretty high; we could afford a decent one bedroom off what Adam is making now, but we’d really prefer two.  He also could end up driving a route on the other side of town from where we are now, so we need to know that before we can decide on a location.  Or there’s always a small chance he wouldn’t get the job at all, so we don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch.  So many unknowns!  So, for the time being I am forcing myself to be patient and wait on God’s provision until we’re confident we’re making a wise decision.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing.  On the one hand, I am SO thankful that my parents are graciously letting us stay with them.  There’s a stereotypical horror story about staying with your parents, but our experience couldn’t be farther from that stereotype.  They’ve been gracious and encouraging and helpful and non-meddlesome, and have done their best to give us as much privacy as possible in a house that really wasn’t designed for two families.  I’m also thankful for a chance to pay off our moving expenses and save for a deposit on our apartment so we don’t have to take it out of our savings.

On the other hand, I still really, really miss having a place of our own to call home.  No matter how gracious your hosts are, living out of a suitcase in a room without four complete walls gets stressful.  I also get a lot of fulfillment from creating a homey home environment, and it’s discouraging to not have a place where I can do all the wife and mother things I enjoy so much.  I LOVED being a stay at home mom after Bear was born, and I just ache to have space where I can create order and beauty and functionality in our own little world with our own little routine.  And last but not least, no matter what the circumstances, telling people that you’re living with your parents never makes you feel like you’re doing especially well in life, so it’s a bit of a blow to my pride….

On a little side note here, I have to say how it still amazes me sometimes that I get so much joy and fulfillment out of being a stay at home mom.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I was afraid I would chaff a little–miss “ministry” and “stimulating conversation” and “freedom” and all that jazz.  It’s not that I love those things any less than before or am any less passionate about them, but I think it’s that motherhood has been so much more wonderful and awe-inspiring and fulfilling than I ever dreamed possible.  There’s probably a whole other blog post in this topic, though, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Anyway.

I suppose I’m learning (or at least wrestling with) a lot: blessings, thankfulness, perspective, patience, humility, etc.  There was a picture that was all over Facebook this Christmas that put things in perspective:

I have to remind myself to mentally replace the right side of the picture with my “stresses” lately, whether that’s a picture of a home, new clothes, a computer that works better, or whatever.  It seems obvious, for example, that we “need” a two bedroom apartment, until I think of the thousands of families living in one room shacks or on the streets or running for their lives from war zones and genocide.  And I could make similar comparisons with all my issue right now.  I am definitely blessed.

So, all that to say, not much has changed, except (hopefully) some of my mindsets and attitudes.  I could probably get this tattooed on my forehead:  Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

November 14, 2011

Beautiful Things Out of Dust (A-la-carte life update)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:28 am by Tamara

For those of you wondering if we fell off the face of the earth, the answer is yes.  Thankfully, (after a stop in Wisconsin) we landed in Colorado.  Whoo hoo!  I’m pretty sure my stress level was supposed to decrease after the move was over, but that has not been the case.  I’m not sure if it’s really exploded or if it’s just cumulative stress of the past six months, but I’m kind of freaking out about life.

We haven’t found an apartment yet, mostly because we’re trying to figure out exactly what our income is going to be.  Adam’s looking for a second job, and possibly a different first job.  We’re also, believe it or not, considering the possibility of (gulp) taking the leap into full time ministry, which would (gulp) require raising support.  Anyway, I feel kind of suspended in the air with no place to land.  I’ve heard husbands freak out without a job; I think wives freak out without a home.

School wise, I’m taking a rather difficult philosophy course right now.  I’m pretty sure that times in life where one is emotionally and mentally depleted are NOT good times to take challenging, thought-provoking philosophy courses.   It is definitely adding to my stress level.

As for NaNoWriMo…sigh.  I’ve managed to keep at it so far, in spite of great adversity (the day it began was the day we started driving to Colorado, so I wrote the day’s word quota that night in a dark hotel room with a husband, two dogs, and a crying baby in the background, in spite of a dead computer, a broken desk chair, and a semi-truck rumbling outside the window.  That’s dedication).  Unfortunately, I feel like I’m drowning in life right now, and the stress is brutally draining the life blood out of my creativity.  I’m not sure if I’m going to make it this year or not.  We’ll see.

The upside of life right now is wonderful, adorable Bear.  He just turned seven months old.  I can’t believe it!  Where has the time gone?  He has been an absolute angel through all the chaos of the past month.  He had his first cold while we were visiting Wisconsin (so traumatizing!  He didn’t like it much, either), and just got his first tooth a week ago (my baby is growing up too fast!!)  I can’t believe how sweet he was during the trip in spite of a cold, cutting a tooth, meeting a ton of new people, and having his entire life turned upside down.  He’s really been amazing.  He’s getting much more comfortable and confident meeting new people and being in new situations.  We LOVED getting to see family and friends in Wisconsin on the way here, and finally introducing them to Little Bear.

So, all that to say…I don’t know.  Adam and Bear are my parachutes in life right now.  I feel like I’m just hanging onto them as we fall through the air to land…who knows where.  But, as long as they’re wherever we end up, I’m sure it will be okay.  God has always come through for us in the past; I think maybe all this stress and uncertainty is a chance to put into practice what we’ve learned about Him in the past when He’s come through in fast, glorious ways that far exceeded our expectations.  Things don’t seem to be falling into place very well right now, but the story’s not over, and God hasn’t changed.  I have two mantras lately.  1) “Stress is pressure incorrectly handled,” and 2) this song:

September 24, 2011

Our Home

Posted in Water Droplets, Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 8:00 am by Tamara

I felt a little weepy the other day when the realtor put the For Sale sign in front of our house.  It means we’ve officially said someone else can have our house if they want it.  (Wait, WHAT?!  No you can’t!  Go away!  MINE!!!)

Okay…I know I can’t say that.  But that doesn’t meant I don’t want to.

So, I thought I’d post some pictures for posterity’s sake, and because our house makes me so happy.  Oh, and if you (or someone you know) wants to buy a home in Columbia, let me know.  I GUESS I’d let you buy it.  But only because I know if you’re reading this I like you, so you’ll provide a good home for our house.  So without further ado, the grand tour:

Our Happy Little Home

Our living room and front door. The blue/brown/green color scheme is so peaceful and soothing to me. It's a complete 180 from the Middle-Eastern-inspired gold and red apartment I had when I was single, and I've loved them both!

It's a travesty, but we've never used the fireplace. We didn't even think to use it when we moved in and the heater was broken and it was 40 degrees inside. Oh well--it sure is pretty to look at! I ADORE the paint color in this room. It's called Twilight: a gray-blue with purple undertones. Ah! Love!

Dining room. The chandellier in here makes me so happy--it replaced a hideous gold thing that I stared at in consternation and disapproval for a year and a half! (OH, and it is brushed nickle...it kind of looks gold in the picture. Ahk!) And I love the pretty table and chairs we got from wonderful friends!

Kitchen. Had we been here longer, I probably would have painted the cabinets white and put brushed nickle hardware on them. I love the pretty new floors and stainless appliances (the ones when we bought the house were a giant shudder of horror!)

The cheery breakfast nook!

Berean's room. The Poohbear decals go all the way around the room. His crib should be where that bed is, but it's still in our room, so....

Lots of sweet cuddles happen in that rocker. Warm fuzzies in my heart!

Hall bath. I love that shower curtain. Except that it shrunk. So if you buy it...don't put it in the dryer.

The office side of the office

The library/music room side of the office. We packed away two whole book shelves. Sniff. It's okay, little books! We'll be reunited again soon! The violin painting was Adam's grandma's. We miss her!! The piano music is open to a song called "Own Me." Get it? Subliminal messaging for potential home buyers?? Haha! Yeah...I doubt anyone will notice. ;)

Master bedroom. Someday I'm going to make a beautiful headboard. And stain the nightstands. And do a gorgeous ombre paint effect on our dressers. And....

Master bath. There's no way to get the pretty purple shower curtain in the picture, unfortunately. It has a huge tub, which would be spectacular if I wasn't completely freaked out by all the bacteria and parasites that I am sure lurk in tubs, resisting my futile attempts to disinfect them to death. (In other words, I only take showers. With flip flops on. This is another topic that seems to come up much more often in my blog posts than I think it should. Hm.) There is also a great walk-in closet with plenty of room to display my RED SHOES! Oh, how I love them.

The raised bed square-foot garden Adam built. Uh...this picture may have been from last year. Because this year I may have planted the garden and then totally abandoned it to the savage South Carolina heat. I have gardener guilt. Although those of you who know me know that it probably died a kinder death at the hands of the elements than it might have at the hand of my black thumb. One thing remains this year, though: my beloved rosemary!! It survived three freak snowstorms and is growing spectacularly, without me doing ANYTHING to help it. Sniff. I already loved rosemary, and love it so much more now for it's valiant effort!

Well, there you have it, a tour of our beloved house.  We have been SO blessed to live here.  We’ve learned a TON about handyman skills, been able to have dogs, been surrounded by an environment that makes me feel cosy and happy, and made so many memories.  It never could have happened without my incredible parents who have blessed us so generously.  We love you!

I’m so sad to leave, but also trusting that God has great things and wonderful memories waiting for us in Colorado.  And I know, ultimately, that Adam and Rean and time together are what will make our home, whether it’s a mansion or a cardboard box.  Before you know it I’ll be blogging about our new apartment!  Looking forward to it!

September 22, 2011

Ignoring Conventional Wisdom on Having Kids=Best Decision We’ve Ever Made

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:57 pm by Tamara

Bear, Five Months Old

I’ve been thinking tonight about what an incredible proof Bear is that God knows what He’s talking about and wants good things for us.  When we decided to try to get pregnant, there were plenty of reasons people could have said we were nuts.  The common “wisdom” on starting a family is that you need to a) be finished with school, established in your career(s), and financially secure, and b) have done everything fun that you want to do, because kids are going to tie you down and could destroy your dreams.  We decided to say bah humbug to conventional wisdom, mostly because the Bible is so chock full of statements about how kids are a blessing and a joy.

For example: Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward!  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them!  Psalm 128:1-4  How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways…your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table.  Behold, for this is how the man who fears the LORD will be blessed!

If God, the one who created all the incredible things that make me happy (like chocolate, colors, the ocean, back rubs, my husband!) says something is a blessing, then I would like to experience it!  We also trusted that if God instructs us to raise godly children, He’ll give us the financial and emotional resources to do so.

Zooming Around on Daddy’s Shoulders

Tonight I was doing homework and my husband put Bear in his PJs and then was jogging around the living room with Bear on his shoulders.  The sight of our little baby in footy teddy bear pajamas, grinning from ear to ear as he clutched fistfuls of Adam’s hair and “drove” his daddy around the room was too adorable for words.  They stopped by the table where I was working and Bear gave me a squeal and a huge smile before they zoomed off again.  My heart just melted.  I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am with our little family.  My husband and Bear have brought me so much joy—infinitely more than I can ever imagine getting from the things we gave up to have him.

Certainly, it’s hard too.  And there’s no guarantee that parenting won’t involve heartbreak (in fact, it probably will at some point).  I have friends who have experienced terrible heartache, whether in raising their kids or in trying to have kids.  My heart bleeds for them, and I don’t understand the unfairness of it.  I don’t understand why good parents have children who rebel, or why evil people harm their children while wonderful couples have no children.  Amazingly, most of my friends who have experienced this have still told me that God has brought good things even out of their pain.  In fact, witnessing firsthand the pain of our friends who wanted kids and were struggling to have them really drove home to my husband and I that kids are a blessing we shouldn’t take lightly or make a low priority.

Melts My Heart!

When I look at Bear, there just aren’t words to describe how fiercely I love him, or how fulfilled and joyful he makes me.  And tonight it hit me again: God is right.  He is really, really, right.  He knows what He’s talking about.  Bear will always be a great reminder to trust God when I’m faced with things that God says but I don’t think make sense.  I SO wanted to have a baby, but it was still a leap of faith for us, one we made because we trusted (and still trust) that God knows what’s best for us, knows how to give us REAL blessings, and will take care of us.  God has provided for and blessed us more than I could ever have imagined, and He always will.   I am SO thankful, and so blessed!!

September 16, 2011

Go West, Young Family!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 10:15 pm by Tamara

I’ve put off writing this for three reasons: 1) I can’t think of a clever/exciting/funny way to say it, 2) It’s hard to hold a baby and type with one hand (as I’m doing now), and 3) I’m afraid as soon as I post it something will change.  But oh well.  So, guess what?  We’re moving to Colorado!!

I wrote here about some of the reasons we started thinking about moving, and we’ve decided we’re going to move.  It’s taking all my self-control not to add an “I think” or “Hopefully” after that pronouncement because there are so many details still up in the air.  And then there’s always this: Proverbs 16:9  “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  And then there’s the fact that I get a little weepy every time I think about leaving our beautiful home!  But that’s the downside.  The upside(s):

Grandparents, aunts, and uncles!  Rean’s spectacular adorableness just shouldn’t go un-admired.  There have been countless times I’ve ached to have them here for some new milestone or cute antic of his.  Also, can you say…”date night?”  Because I can, once I add “babysitting” to the end of it!  I am so excited Rean will get to know his extended family.  I only wish the Wisconsin side of the family would be there, too.  L

I’m also excited that some of my high school friends seem to also be migrating back to Colorado.  It will be so fun to get reacquainted with them!

I think the seminary will be just what Adam wants.  It sounds like the professors and academic record are just stellar, so I’m excited.

And in case that’s not enough upsides…did you notice what state I said?  COLORADO!  Rocky Mountains!  Need I really say more?

The deciding factor was that earlier this week Adam was offered a transfer with his job.  Thank you, Lord!  After two months of frustration that I won’t elaborate on because it still raises my hackles, he was finally able to talk to the right people, which quickly resulted in a glowing letter of recommendation for him, two phone interviews, and a “When can you start?”  We’re still working on the answer to that question, but we’re hoping within the next 1-2 months.

It definitely doesn’t seem real yet—I don’t think it will until we’re driving away.  Now we have to pray our house will sell, which is kind of a discouraging topic since a) The two years we’ve been here clearly fall short of the 5-10 years we thought we’d be here when it was bought and b) Have I mentioned I love our house??  But, God is providing so far (the provision of the house in the first place was rather miraculous), so I’m praying for another miracle.  I wouldn’t mind your prayers on that front, either!

I’ll try to keep updating as we get the details worked out…but for now: Colorado, here we come!

This will soon be my view when driving around town. Aaaaaahhh! So lovely!

August 31, 2011

Decision Making

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:45 pm by Tamara

Well, we’ve decided we want to move to Colorado!  (I wrote here about the reasons we were thinking about it, in case you missed it.)  Unfortunately, wanting to move and moving are two very different things.  We have been waiting for weeks for Adam’s job to tell him if he can transfer, and haven’t heard a thing.  Every time we ask they just say they’ll call person X, Y, or Z and see what’s going on.  I am getting really, REALLY frustrated.  He’s applied for some bus driving jobs, but they won’t consider his application until he has a Colorado driver’s license.  There are a lot of openings and he’s qualified for them, so we could just move and hope he gets hired, but that sends my warning lights screaming dire predictions about ending up broke and living in our parents’ basement for the next five years.  Yikes!  So yeah.

We were also having trouble for a while getting our questions answered by the school.  They weren’t answering calls or e-mails, which was weird and stressful.  Then there was a mix up when we were trying to contact the realtor…etc etc.   Pretty much as soon as we made the decision to move, everything ground to a halt.  It’s been quite the contrast to our move here, where the doors just flew open.  I confess it’s made me wonder AGAIN “Are we doing the right thing??”

At first I was praying “Lord, if this is your will, please open the doors.”  Which sounds good enough, but the more I think about it, I don’t know that it’s the best way to make decisions. Biblically speaking, easiness isn’t really the hallmark of God’s direction.  Paul said once that “a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8).  So apparently there can be a “wide door” and difficulties at the same time.  On the other hand, there’s Jonah who could easily have said “Oh look!  God provided a ship for Tarshish!  And He provided the money for me to buy my ticket!  It must be his will!”  And clearly that was the exact opposite of God’s command.

I’m not saying we aren’t praying for God to provide the things we need to follow Him.  But I am rethinking my “open doors” guidance thoughts.  I confess I’m discouraged, but realizing that facing some roadblocks or speed bumps shouldn’t make me give up or automatically decide we’re “out of God’s will.”  We’re still pressing forward, while at the same time carefully listening in case God wants to tell us to do something else.  All our reasons for going still seem wise and it doesn’t violate any moral command, so we’re going to keep trying.  I would really appreciate prayer for wisdom and, yes, that (unless He has some reason He doesn’t want us to go that He hasn’t told us yet) that God will provide the things we’ll need to make it work.

This seems appropriate to insert here:

June 23, 2011

Baby Dramatics

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 11:46 pm by Tamara

Look out! It's the bottom lip!

Rean is really a pretty easy-going baby.  He’s not much of a crier; we usually wake up to a polite “Uh, uh, uh!” rather than full-blown screams when he’s ready to eat.  Every once in a while, though, for some reason I can’t get to him quite as quickly as he thinks I should, and he’ll start to wail like he’s sure he’s going to starve at any second.  “Help!  Help!  Starving baby!  I can’t remember when it’s been so long since I’ve eaten!  Help!  WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE BABY?!?  Aaaaah!”

He’s so dramatic that I have to laugh a little, and I always think, “Aw, c’mon, Baby–when have I ever let you starve before?  You don’t have to worry–I’m not going to let you starve now, either!  I promise!  Why all the wailing?  I love you-you can trust me!”  I just have to chuckle when I do pick him up and he nurses frantically for a few minutes before falling into a blissfully satisfied milk-coma.  Sweet, silly baby!

Every time this happens, though, I’m reminded how I do the exact. same. thing. to God.  Finances are at the moment, shall we say, tight.  In fact, I don’t remember a period in our marriage (or my adult life, actually!) when they haven’t been.  Every couple months I have a mini panic attack when I look at bills or think about upcoming expenses.  C-sections, for example, are not cheap!  And I start to uh-uh-uh hyperventilate a little, and if the pressure isn’t quickly relieved, my first tendency is to start wailing “Hello?  God?  God, heeeeeelp!  Are you paying attention??  We’re not going to make it!!  Aaaaaah!”  And I have a mental picture of God quirking an eyebrow at me with a little bemused smile at my dramatics and saying “Aw, c’mon, Tamara–when have I ever let you starve before?  You don’t have to worry–I’m not going to let you starve now, either!  I promise!  Why all the wailing?  I love you–you can trust me!”

May 22, 2010

A New Saga

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , at 10:37 pm by Tamara

It may be a little bit dramatic, but I can’t help thinking that tomorrow will begin a new saga of my life.  Hopefully, prayerfully, oh-PLEASE-fully, it will involve some “margin.”  Last Friday I officially finished/survived/collapsed at the finish line of my term of full-time work and full-time school at the same time.  I was able to get everything done, but it left me with NO margin.  No time to make new friends, be involved at church, cook meals, sleep, or deal with unforeseen issues (for example, I just about had a breakdown when Knightley needed to be taken to the vet last week, right in the middle of my big research project.)

One of the things that has been the most distressing to me is that I’ve felt like I haven’t been able to “be a wife.”  I don’t want to get into a big discussion of women’s roles here, and please don’t misinterpret me and think I subscribe to the “barefoot in the kitchen” model.  But, what I will say is that it was very distressing to me to head off to work leaving a half-folded tower of laundry, a floor carpeted in dog hair, and a note for Adam that there was canned soup in the cupboard (“Oh and could you please clean the toilet because you’re so wonderful?”), and then come home and immediately lock myself in the office with my textbooks (and my bowl of soup).  Adam, wonderful man that he is, very graciously picked up my slack, cleaning the house and even cooking.  But it still made me feel frustrated, stressed and unfulfilled.

I always knew I wanted to be a wife and mother (among other things) but I’ve actually been a little surprised by how fulfilling I find the “homemaking” tasks the feminist movement has made sound so negative.  I kind of thought other things would fulfill me and the homemaking stuff would just be work that had to get done.  But not only am I realizing how much satisfaction I get out of crafting our home, what has been more apparent of late is how UNfulfilled I feel when other life demands keep me from being able to actively create our home environment.  I can’t say I get big kicks and giggles vacuuming or cutting the fat off chicken breasts for dinner.  But, I love the total affect.  I love when the place we come home to at night, the place that envelops the most personal and cherished parts of our lives, can be described with words like restful, warm, nourishing, created, orderly, inviting, etc.

The shocking takeaway?  God knows what He’s talking about.  (Whoa!)  No matter what the world tells us, His instructions for roles are GOOD ideas.  Ideas that fulfill us and bring us peace.  And, here I have to give credit to my amazing mom, because I’ve spent my whole life watching her beautiful illustration of what this looks like.

So, after many talks with Adam, we decided it was time for me to cut back to part-time at work.  I should note that the reason we’re able to do this is because wonderful Adam is working two jobs right now to provide for us.  I feel a little scared and a little guilty: scared because this involves both a pay cut and an hours cut, and guilty because part of me is still saying, “You’re just too lazy to be able to handle it all.”  But, I’m holding on to two truths: first, God has been INCREDIBLY faithful to provide for us financially.  Adam’s second job was just dropped in his lap, for example.  And second, I believe God is happy with my desire to take care of Adam and our home, and if this is what He’s asking me to do, He’ll take care of burdens I can’t shoulder.

And last but not least, not only will this allow me to oversee my little home domain again, but it will also give me time to be involved in other things that fulfill me, like ministry and (dun dun dun!) THIS BLOG!!  So let the new saga begin, and may I protect it a little better from now on.

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