Friday, January 8, 2016

Beautifully boring January

I always settle on my New Years Resolutions/goals about a week late, and this year is no exception. For 2016, I'm doing things a little differently. Like everyone else, my yearly goals tend to get lost and forgotten by March. I think about them throughout the year, but it's not a constant thing like I'd prefer. So this year I'm taking my yearly themes (you healthier, read more, be better in general) and breaking them down into monthly goals. Let's call them baby goals. Since we just moved into our house on January 1st, my January baby goals will have some extra house themed projects. Yay!

January Goals
  • Get comfortable cooking fish at home
  • Read one theology book that I already have on my bookshelf but haven't read yet
  • Get curtains put up downstairs. Replace the incredibly ugly vertical blinds with cute curtains instead. 
  • Consistently hit our 9am-12pm school session during the week.
  • Exercise 3 days a week.
  • Get the kitchen and living room completely put together 
  • Dust at least once a week
So how did these things make my January list? Well. The fish thing might seem random, but we all know that fish is great for us to eat so it fits solidly under the "be more healthy" column. My family (except for Jon) actually likes fish, but the thought of cooking it was intimidating to me. No more. I cooked fish for lunch yesterday, and I'm going to try for once a week or so. The theology book and the dusting were both inspired by our move. I packed up all these great books that we have, but I've never read. And they were embarrassingly dusty. This month, I'm going to read God is the Gospel by John Piper. I know. I can't go wrong with Piper. =) Then I will dust all the other books so they never get in such a state again. School and exercise are the obvious ones. New year, new me. Or whatever. School slides throughout the year so January is a great time to reboot those plans I made in August.

And finally, the house. I plan on getting this house together room by room. From day one, we started with the kitchen and living area. Since this is the space we spend the most time in and people will see when they visit, it made sense to me to put it together first. Throughout the year, I'll work my way room by room until I get things completely put together.

Finally, isn't this a completely boring blog post? No job loss announcements, no life changing news at all. Just completely boring and forgetful information that no one really cares about but me. Isn't that wonderful? Seriously. Sometimes boring is beautiful.

Monday, December 14, 2015

From no home to two homes!

We were supposed to close on our beautiful house on Friday, but the closing got bumped to today because of paperwork. Actually, paperwork was the mundane excuse given. After looking at Timehop this morning, I knew exactly why things got bumped to today. First, if you don't know what Timehop is, I'm sorry that you miss out on such a fun experience every morning. Basically, it's a fun app that shows you all the things you've posted on social media on that day in previous years. It's like my very own "On this day in Mindy's history...".  That makes it sound important. It's usually more like this: 4 years ago Mindy was baking cookies and dealing with a crying/vomiting/screaming child. Fun times.

So why did Timehop have such importance to me today? Well, exactly one year ago today I shared a couple of posts on Facebook that perfectly bookend where I am today. The first post was about how our church's moving ministry came to our Cary, NC apartment and loaded it up for us. It was a HUGE blessing to our hearts and our muscles that day. My second post was about unloading everything we owned into my parents' then empty house and realizing that there was no way we were going to be able to stay there while we figured out where we would live. Yep. One year ago today, I was standing in the living room of my parents' house surrounded by my belongings packed in boxes and realizing that I didn't know where Jon would work, where we would live, or what we would do. I  might have cried. Then I called my friend who had offered to let us stay in their guest apartment until our lives were straightened out and ask if we could take her up on the offer. It was not an easy phone call to make. It was about as close to rock bottom as I've ever felt in my life up to now. I'll never forget walking into my friend's house that night. I've never wanted to NOT be at this house so badly as I did that evening. I believe I slumped in, slid into a chair at the dining room table, and had a glass of wine ever so gently placed in front of me.

And now exactly one year later God has orchestrated things into something completely different. I mean, I can't speak for God, but I feel safe saying that God knew what He was doing when He worked these two moments exactly a year apart. If you can't see the design in this situation, you're blind. On this night a year ago, I was dejected, kind of homeless, and very broken. Tonight, I am overjoyed, have two homes, and am very much whole again! How does that happen? How do I go from no kitchen to prepare our Christmas breakfast to having two?! And how does this all happen to come together so perfectly exactly one year apart? This is not coincidence, friends. This is God showing that He will do what He will do. He will give, and He will take away. He will remind us of His goodness. This morning when I woke up, my first thought was "THIS IS HOUSE DAY!" Then a few minutes later I checked Timehop and saw where I was exactly a year ago. If ever a situation brought closure, this was it. In this moment, I had closure. I had one of those moments where I could remember the beginning of this chapter and know that I'd reached the end of this particular part of our story.

I still know all too well that things could change tomorrow. Any number of things could happen, but on this day, everything came together. In no way do I see this house as some kind of cosmic reward for something we did right. I don't see last fall as a cosmic punishment either. We make good choices. We step out on faith. The results are up to God, not us. It doesn't always tie up neatly with a bow. We forget that God's plan is not a formula for us to follow. Sometimes we do all the right things, and the results look all wrong. Last year looked all wrong for us. This year looks like a mega church billboard story of what happens when you do all the right things. But I can't take credit or blame for the results.

Anyway...all that to say that WE BOUGHT A HOUSE TODAY!!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Not so fast...maybe my world isn't imploding after all.

I hesitate to even say anything because I don't want to put anyone through the emotional whiplash that I felt last week. Still, things have changed. I know that many of you have been praying hard for us, and I want you to know that those prayers have not gone unanswered. First, regardless of how things have changed or will change again, I can't say how much your prayers, messages, phone calls, and meals carried me through. God really used some of you to encourage me through a very stressful week. Thanks for that! You don't know how much it meant for people to reach out to us. You really were the hands and feet of Jesus to us last week.

Second, imagine if you will, that you're almost a year past a season of unemployment and legitimate uncertainty about where you will live.  I mean, it's not like we were ever going to be homeless on the streets because we have a great support network of friends and family, but still. We didn't know what we were going to do or where we were going to go. That kind of situation leaves a mark on a person's soul that 11 months won't erase.

Last week we spent most of the week thinking that we were going to have start over somewhere else. Again. It was a tough week, but things have changed dramatically. Again. Basically, we have good reason to believe that we actually can stay here and that Jon will have a job after all! This turn of events was just as shocking as the original news about losing the position in the first place. Last week was basically like living a tennis match with your life serving as the ball. You get the honor of being a spectator. Not a player, not even a referee. Just a spectator.  I can't give any details, but we feel confidant that we can stay put. So now we're back to buying a house! Although we'd signed to terminate our contract, none of the paperwork had gone through. If all goes as planned, we'll buy a house at the end of this week or beginning of next week. That's so funny. "If all goes as planned." It's like I've learned NOTHING! =D

Finally, having gone through these kinds of situations where I look completely normal while my life is actually imploding on the inside, I'm going to offer some advice. Please. Please. If you know someone is going through a personal crisis, don't ignore it when you see them. Please don't act like everything is normal or avoid them. It might feel awkward for you to genuinely ask how I'm doing, but I promise it's more awkward for me to try to figure out if I should answer your generic greeting with a "Fine" because you don't want to deal with me or a "Well, you life is blowing up again, but other than that I'm good." I say the person going through the life implosion gets the pass, and it's the other person's responsibility to step up and acknowledge the person's pain and struggle. Send the text or the facebook message letting that hurting person know that you're there for them and praying. Keep their kids for a few hours or bring them coffee. Offer to meet them for lunch. It depends on what kind of relationship you have, but don't ignore their struggle. I can't express how much it meant to me to have people call, text, or message me and Jon.

And that's it. Last week was another reminder that the Lord is control of everything. He turns the world the way He will. I'm thankful to be able to participate in His plan.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's time for the Annual Job Loss December Update!

*Double sigh*
Okay. As you probably saw from my facebook post, Jon's job is being cut in a few months. If you missed that facebook announcement, SURPRISE! No, we did not see this coming. It's not often that I'm completely shocked, but this one solidly goes in the shocked category.  It wasn't a personal reflection on Jon. It was budget cuts. Thanks for that, Congress. You're awesome. I just LOVE how well you handle your shit. (Sorry mom. Sometimes certain words are the most appropriate. Also, if anyone wants to have an etymological discussion on why certain words are considered crass, it's actually very fascinating and goes back to the French and English wars years ago. But I digress.)

 So where does that leave us? Well, it's not as dire as it looks (That's what I keep telling myself). First, we still have a lot of time to find something else. We are very thankful to have so much notice. Second, although we have a lot of time to find a job, we have a personal time crunch that involves where we live. We were all set to close on what was to be our beautiful dream house next week. Today I officially started the ball rolling to terminate that particular dream. I'm not going to lie; that phone call hurt my heart.  I'd already painted that house 5 different colors, considered multiple types of countertops, and was trying to decide how big of a kitchen island I needed to build. Instead, I got the satisfaction of angrily deleting my Trulia and Pinterest apps from the main page of my phone. I didn't uninstall them to prove that I still have hope for a house to redo someday in the future. 

I don't have much hope at this point that we'll be able to remain in Charleston. Yet another relocation is looking more likely. We prayed and asked for others to pray that we would have clarity quickly on what we should do, and I can already see God answering that prayer for us. Each day we've seen evidence of God gently...actually no. It doesn't feel gentle, but purposeful. There. We've seen evidence of God purposefully pushing us in a certain direction. It will take time for our next steps to be clear, but I know the general direction we're moving in, and that's good enough for now.

I've had a few people ask me about Christmas. We are not cancelling Christmas. =)  First, last year's Christmas was sad enough and does not bear repeating. Second, who cancels Christmas?! Third, we'd already bought most of the kids' presents anyway when we were blissfully ignorant of what was coming. 

Finally, how are we doing? Well, Jon has been sick most of the week so he's felt especially awful. The kids have handled it better than expected if I'm honest. I might have promised an awesome vacation next year once everything is settled so that could have something to do with it.  I have been generally okay. I mean, yes. I've cried some. And I've had sudden outbursts of "COME ON! THIS IS HAPPENING AGAIN?!?!"  Oh, and I spent half of today in black, stretchy clothes which is so not me. Everyone else can live in their yoga pants, but I just can't. Still, in general, we're all okay. We know who is in control. We know that this will all work out somehow. Basically, I'm sitting back and waiting to see how this unfolds. There's not much more for us to do than what we've already done besides wait and pray.  So that's it. When I have more to share, I'll let everyone know!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I don't know about you, but time is flying for us. November is nearly half over already, and I'm still stuck in October.  So where are we now? We're in week 14 of school. We've got a contract on a beautiful house. Everyday I pull up the pictures and redecorate it in my head.  This is what Pinterest was made for, friends. I've imagined 5 different counter top options, light fixtures, paint color schemes, DIY kitchen islands with tile, copper, slate, or butcher block on top. I've pinned landscaping ideas including plans for an "easy diy weekend pergola". Jon is worried. I can't blame him for that.

Otherwise, we've continued on with our busy-ness. At least one kid has an activity on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday evening. Church is Sunday. Our homeschool group is Tuesday. I've kept everything under control well enough (understand that I have a lower standard of "well enough" that most), and kept that balance between too much spare time and simply too much. The only trouble is that the house buying has tipped me towards too much. Everything else is a rhythm, but buying a house is not a rhythm. It's all nothing, nothing, nothing, DO THIS THING RIGHT NOW, nothing, nothing, SIGN THIS PAPER ASAP, nothing, nothing, nothing, OH NO! WE MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM! Nope, nevermind. Everything is fine. More nothing, more SIGN NOW!!! 

The good thing with this process is two-fold. First and most obvious, I will end up with a beautiful house that I LOVE; a house that surprises me every time I look at its picture because it's so much more than I ever allowed myself to imagine for myself. Second, I've finally learned what my threshold is for commitments. A few years ago, I had too many. Then I went to almost nothing, and I've been slowly adding things one by one until the house pushed me the tiniest bit over the edge.

I don't know how other moms do so much. Actually, I do. That's why they're losing their minds. I've finally come to terms with the knowledge that I can do school, some cooking, some cleaning, tutoring, church, and chauffeur my kids to a limited number of activities. Everyone is asking for volunteers, but I just can't. I'm not the uninvolved mom. I'm the "No. I'm not going to be guilted into overloading myself" mom. I've reached my quota. If anyone needs more than baked goods from me at this point, the answer is no. It's very freeing actually. I'm not the slacker mom, but I will be the zen mom that is available for last minute coffee and phone calls. =)

And that's it. Things are very happy and calm here. I can't even believe I can say that, but I do. Be warned that the next few months are going to be full of DIY projects. =)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Houses and hurdles

We've been busy. What else can I say? It's been 2 months since I've written anything worth sharing. We've been busy. First and foremost, we've been doing school. We're on week 11. My planning notebook clearly shows the downward slide in the last few weeks which means it's about time we kick things back into high gear to get as much done as possible by Thanksgiving. School gets really spotty between Thanksgiving and New Years. Any homeschooler that denies this is lying to you.

We went to Maine. It was beautiful. Instead of  spending 6 days in hotels, we were able to stay with friends most of the time instead which was great. It's much better to spend time with friends than in an anonymous hotel room. It's a gift that I hope to be able to give to other people one day which brings me to our biggest news...

We're in the process of buying a house! Just writing that sentence was hard. This is a decision that has brought me great joy and anxiety in the last few weeks. I had joy when I was thinking about the prospect of buying a house. Now that I have to actually do house buying things, I'm surprisingly anxious about the entire process. The what-if questions are killing me. What if Jon has to be transferred soon, and I have to turn around and sell the house? What if we can't find the right house? What if we're settling in a life that isn't the life we really want to have? I can't say that I feel like I'm ready to settle here. It's much more of a choice. We are choosing to settle here. I know we're tired of moving. I know that this is where Jon has a job. I know the kids are sooo over the moving, and I'm pretty sure they'll seek emancipation if we try to relocate again. So...we are buying a house. 

If I'm going to buy a house, it's going to to be to the glory of God or there's no point. I want a house that we can host people in. I want all the people that have invited us into their homes to be able to stay in our home for a change. I want to be the person that has an extra room for people that need a resting place when life gets a little bumpier than they expected. That's all. A house big enough for us and others. =) Nothing huge, nothing ostentatious. I don't need granite counters although I would not be disappointed if they happened to be in our future house. I am hopeful that God will provide the exact house we need at the appropriate time.

I think the house search has dredged up some fears from last year, namely, that our lives will blow up again like it did last fall. Nobody knows when their life is going to blow up. That's kind of the point. You're going along being you and doing all the things you usually do when BAM! Your husband loses his job. Or someone dies. Or hurtful secrets come to light. Cancer. Whatever it is, we all know there's a metaphorical bomb buried in the road just waiting to blow up our lives in some way. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some comfort in the thought that if something huge came along, we could easily pick up and run away from the disaster.  Buying a house means I'm choosing to be attached to something else in my life. After being very selective in my attachments over the last few years, this is the hardest hurdle for me to jump.

But...I'm jumping it. We're buying a house. Probably. Unless something else happens. But almost definitely. As you can see, I've developed a bit of a commitment phobia. I'm praying about that. =)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Starting yet another school year.

The last month has been...weird. After nearly 2 weeks of some serious fatigue and even weirder breathing issues that had me in bed most of the time, the doctor has brilliantly (ahem, sarcasm alert) decided that I need to take a few extra vitamins and use an inhaler for a few weeks. Yes, vitamins. My problem is not really vitamins, but whatever. The random fatigue thing is gone to once again hit me another day.  Unfortunately, those were supposed to be my two weeks of obsessive housecleaning, menu planning, and freezer cooking to get me fully prepared to start our 2015/2016 school year. Sigh. I had such beautiful plans.

For my non-homeschooling friends, this is how the school year starts every year. No, not with weird health symptoms that come and go, but with something that wrecks my sparkly, shiny dreams of getting ALL of our schoolwork done, the house cleaned, and healthy, home cooked meals every day. It's not a realistic dream. It's just not. Still, every year I hope that THIS will be the year that it all gets done well and on the same day most of the time. Realistically, there will be exactly one day this year where the stars align into the perfect day. It's good that my dream get smashed early before I have time to actually start to believe this particular one is possible for me. =)

So where does that leave us now? Well, we've finished two weeks of school (only 34 more to go!). Tommy has started his Challenge B class with Classical Conversations. He's started algebra *gulp*. Algebra along with formal logic, Latin, and the other normal 8th grade subjects. Charlotte started 4th grade on Homeschool Lite until her CC group starts on Tuesday. Matthew is 5. I'll probably teach him to read this year. In general, school takes a lot more time than it used to, and I'm a little resentful of that. I miss the days of packing up and going to the park in the morning with our friends for "Physical Education".  I'm sure that will happen occasionally, but Algebra and frequent last minute park days simply aren't compatible.

We've eaten out more in the last few weeks. We've had more pasta with jarred sauce for dinner than I'd care to admit. Laundry? Honestly, it's been a few weeks since I've done that. Jon and the kids have taken that completely over for which I am very appreciative. If you see me in a t-shirt though, it's because Jon doesn't do my laundry quite as often as I'd like it done. I'm not complaining because, like I said, I haven't really done laundry in about a month. 

And that's it I suppose.  We've officially started another school year. I take homeschooling one year at a time. If it ever really doesn't work for us anymore or Jon decides he can't do anymore laundry, I suppose  we'll stop and do something else. Like finally hire the personal staff I've always wanted. ;)