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.”

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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:

October 21, 2010

And God Pushed Pause…On My Brain

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 10:24 pm by Tamara

It’s been an emotionally draining few weeks, with some high highs and low lows.  My family coming to visit was a huge high, but followed by a forlorn low when they left again and it hit me all over again how alone I sometimes feel here.  Another low  was when the dog I’ve had since I was a little girl drowned two weeks ago, followed by our horse getting sick and having to be put down.  Immediately after losing my doggie, my family arrived with the new puppy, which has been a high but a lot of work, and a reminder of the one we lost.  And all that was interspersed with a heavy end of the block homework/final load which, while not a high or low, was none the less quite exhausting.  Poor Adam has been working A LOT and we’ve been on opposite schedules—we really only see each other when he gets home after 10pm and we both crash, which adds to my forlorn feeling, as well as my concern that he’s going to just keel over one day with all this non-stop running.  And then there’s the minor detail of being four months pregnant, which I hear adds to that emotional and physical exhaustion thing (but who knows if that’s really true, right?)  All in all, to quote poor Bilbo Baggins “I’m beginning to feel it in my heart.  I feel…thin.  Sort of stretched, like…butter scraped over too much bread.  I need a holiday.  A very long holiday” (Fellowship of the Ring).

In the midst of all this, in one of my major papers I touched on the importance of self-care and self-assessment for counselors.  It’s not just a need for counselors—we all need to know our limits, know when we’re getting drained, and know when to step back and take care of ourselves.  Suddenly as I was writing about it, it seemed God’s marshmallow-covered 2×4 was aimed at my head with a “Hello, Tamara!  Are you listening to what you’re saying?”  I’ve been feeling (but ignoring) little warning bells going off in my head for a while, reminding me of another particular time in life when I did too much and got too overwhelmed, and my spiritual life suffered drastically, to the point that I was so spiritually and emotionally unhealthy I just about walked away from the faith entirely.  Uhg.  It’s a painful time to remember, and a place I’m very scared of going again.  I wondered if I should take a break from classes for a block (eight weeks).  But in spite of my fine words about self-care, taking a break just didn’t seem…wise.  Seemed lazy.  Seemed short-sighted.  Seemed weak.  Etc., etc.  And I didn’t feel like I should NEED a break.  I’ve been far more busy in the past and handled it fine, so why was I being a wus now?

But, still, I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, so I started praying that God would clearly show me what to do, and I checked on the deadline to register; no worries, I had another two weeks to decide.  So I just kept praying and thinking, and about decided that I was being overly dramatic.  A couple days ago I got online to look at what classes I might take, and my jaw about hit the floor.  I’d missed the registration date.  I don’t know how it happened, because I was SURE it was a week later.  I’d checked!  But, none the less, there it was in black and white, and there was no way for me to register.

It appears, then, that I got my “clear answer” about whether I need to take a break.  I’m still rather annoyed with myself, because I feel like it was irresponsibility, not a decision.  But on the other hand, I’m completely baffled, because I NEVER make mistakes like that.  And I’d checked on the date!  So, I’m choosing to think that for whatever reason, God put a pause button on my brain and my plans.  My pride is a little wounded, but I can either beat myself over the head or chose to surrender these next eight weeks to God.  In the end, I think I’m more likely to not take breaks when I should than to take too many.

So, deep breath, I’m about to embark on a few months of being a lazy failure—er, I mean, Sabbath rest.  Unfortunately life won’t be paused in all the other areas, but I’ll still have more time and emotional/mental energy, so now I’m trying to figure out what to do with them.  I probably need to go re-read The Rest of God, which I highly, HIGHLY recommend if you can sympathize with anything I’ve written here.  I used to teach workshops on boundaries and rest to the student leadership girls at the Bible school, and I think I need a refresher course on my own talks!

More than anything, I don’t want to waste this time, regardless of how I got here.  I want to drink deep of whatever refreshment and renewal God has planned.

April 2, 2010

Pebbles on the Track

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 10:54 pm by Tamara

There are some days when I really wish I could push a “Stop” button and have them end, like turning off a bad movie.  Presto!  Over.  Yesterday was one of those days.  It wasn’t a cataclysmic day, just a bunch of little failures and inadequacies.  One of my bosses, who tends to make me feel like I’m about to lose my job, was pushing me most of the night on why I haven’t been able to meet a certain sales goal lately, and by the time I was driving home I felt guilty, inadequate, discouraged, and defensive.  I have a tendency when I feel that way to re-live everything that happened, mentally beating myself for my failure and thinking of what I should have done, said, not done, or whatever.  I just wanted to stamp a huge red “FAIL” on myself, end the day, and wipe it off my memory bank.

I was trying to think about how Jesus sees me, and how completely insignificant my failures for the day were in His opinion.  I know when He looks at me He couldn’t care less if I failed to make a sales goal.  I could almost hear him scoffing, “You think THAT changes my opinion of you??”  Then suddenly, through the cloud of guilt, I remembered a conversation I’d had with a friend earlier.  It was an incredible conversation–I’ve been praying for openings to share the gospel with this person, and out of nowhere they said that they feel a spiritual void in their life.  And I have to admit, this was one person who I expected to be, at best, apathetic toward religion, and at worst hostile.  It blew me away–it was like God had plunked down a lighted billboard saying “Attention!  Fertile Ground Here!”

So, as I was driving home feeling like a worthless failure, it suddenly struck me like a blow: Satan wants me to forget all about that conversation.  He wants me wallowing in guilt and inadequacy, convinced of my failure when I just had a day that should put me on a fired-up spiritual high.  He is such a THIEF.  He desperately wants me to judge myself by a few temporal, worldly failures so I forget all about the spiritual marathon God is coaching me through.

I want to work hard at my job.  I want to glorify God by working with all my might like I’m working directly for Him.  But I do not want to define myself by whether I do well or poorly at it.  It’s not, after all, my real job.  God is placing spiritual hurdles before me every step of this marathon called life, and I know He and the angels cheer madly every time I clear one.  It’s a spiritual marathon, and there are some things that will only have an impact until I die (if that), and other things that will impact the rest of forever, for me and others.  That’s what He’s concentrating on, and what I want to concentrate on too.  All the other things are just little pebbles on the track.

January 18, 2010

Job Update

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , at 11:51 pm by Tamara

Well, I haven’t posted for a few days as I’ve tried to decide what I should say about work. It looks like my position at this store will be different than at the old store, basically because most of the things I was trained to do at the old store can only be done by a manager at this one. Previously I oversaw the cashiers and was responsible for the accounts as well as opening and closing the store. To give an example of what I’m responsible for at this store, I asked one of the managers one day if there was anything I could do, and he said, “Yes, fill the staplers.” Sigh.

A sadder note is that this store is pretty slow, so I’m the only cashier, which means that I’m all alone for my shifts. That’s pretty disappointing because it gives me no opportunity to build relationships or tell anyone about how wonderful my Jesus is!

But, the main thing I need to figure out is that when I met the scheduling manager I was told that I’ll lose the job if I don’t maintain 100% open availability, including Sundays. That’s…a problem. Going to church is non-negotiable for me. I think the store manager agreed to me not being available Sunday mornings when I was hired, so I should be able to work something out there. But, even besides that, I just can’t imagine not being able to commit to anything else except work. No Bible studies? No volunteering? No ministry?

It’s a big priority to me (and a constant struggle) to keep my schedule open enough that I’m available to God. I know that when I get too busy I miss opportunities He gives me to both impact others and be impacted myself. I don’ know if this is going to work out or if God is telling me He has something else for me. Please pray for wisdom! I’d love prayer for a good attitude and work ethic for me, too. There are some other things that have happened at work too, and I’ve been pretty discouraged.

Adam is still looking for a job as well, and the thought of us both being out of work is pretty daunting! Please pray that God will provide us with the right jobs in the right timing, and especially that we’d stay calm and trust Him. It’ll be okay!

August 2, 2009

Ah, Life. How Random You Are

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , at 11:08 pm by Tamara

My eyelid informed me over the weekend that it has decided to develop a tick. I asked it who it thought it was, to be making important decisions like this without my consent, but it shied away from answering that question. It seems to be a rather lazy eye, though, as it only twitches every few minutes. ‘No endurance, that eye,’ I scoffed. I can’t tell if it was offended or crushed by that remark, but it has been trembling in the corner of my face ever since.

I turned to Adam at one point to ask why one’s eye would develop a tick. His calm, level response was, “I think they’re caused by stress. They call it a ‘nervous tick’ you know.” He said this slowly and carefully, as though this development was the final seal on my diagnosis of insanity, and he needed to not make any sudden movements in case my hand or foot suddenly developed a tick too. I told him I didn’t think I was that stressed, or at least no more stressed than normal. I don’t remember him responding to that. He hasn’t said anything about committing me yet, but if I hear him talking quietly on his cell phone in a closet I’ll know he’s looking for the best deal he can find on room padding.

I don’t know what it means when the most profound thing that has happened in your life recently is the development of a nervous tick. Well, maybe not quite the most exciting thing: yesterday Adam and I went to Barnes and Noble to read, and when I reached up to dig a hand into my hair I felt something in it. I pulled it out with some difficulty (I kept losing hold of it), took one look at it, and flung it from me with a suppressed scream. It was a beetle. A BEETLE. In my HAIR! I did a mini convulsing dance like one of those crazy people on medical TV shows who hallucinate, and Adam valiantly squashed it with his flip flop. How in the world does a beetle start exploring your hair when you’re indoors? I don’t even want to think through those hypothetical situations. C’mon, Beetle—I haven’t moved into the asylum yet! Back off!

I feel like there should be some deep SOMETHING behind these two experiences, or under them, or squashed in the middle of them, but I haven’t found it yet. If you have any hypothesis, feel free to share them. If nothing else, they do seem to rather succinctly express the randomness of the past few months of my life. My eye seems to be tired of trying to find the hidden meaning, but at least it’s still happily ticking away.

June 23, 2009

Good Blog Post

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , at 9:52 pm by Tamara

I really enjoyed a blog post today by one of my favorite authors, Karen Hancock. I relate to the stressed, overwhelmed feeling she talks about that leads to panic and self-condemnation. It was a good reminder. http://karenhancock.blogspot.com/ The post is “His Plan, Not Mine. Again.” Good stuff!