Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Is Winding Up Better Than It Began...

Sometime in mid-May of this year, I was driving the kids to the shoe store after a particularly bad day.  Every person in our family had had a lousy day, and the topper was when I saw my sweet Jesse walking down the hot sidewalk, barefoot, with big tears in his eyes.  He had just gotten off of the bus, and his feet were burning on that hot concrete.  With his voice shaking, and tears flowing, he said, "Someone stole my flip flops at splash day."  They were cool little shoes, and he'd only had them for maybe a week.  They'd had a big splash day celebration at school, and he'd taken off his shoes to go down the big inflatable waterslide.  When he'd gone back, the new shoes were gone.  I'd asked the ladies in the office and his teacher about the shoes, but they had just disappeared.  The older boys got home and both had had rotten days, as well.  At this point with Brian's job, it had been a daily struggle.  At that time, he'd seen the company fleet repossessed, constables come to the office to shut down the place due to non-payment of taxes, and--worst of all--we'd found out that the company had deducted insurance premiums from the employees' paychecks (yes, including ours), but had not paid the insurance company.  Somewhere in the mix, Brian had had to stay away from the office for a day because a former employee was threatening to come and shoot one of the owners. 

So, on this bright, sunny day in May, the children and I drove to the shoe store to get Jesse some more flip flops.  There was no laughter in the back seat and we were all miserable.  Jacob spoke up and said, "This has not been our year."  I kind of agreed, and unfortunately, the year wasn't even halfway over! 

Anyway, fast forward to this week, and Brian told me that our dear dentist, Dr. Kevin Seidler, called him to let us know that he had been praying for our family at Thanksgiving.  Brian shared with him that he had just gotten a new job and that it is a wonderful opportunity.  He thanked Dr. Seidler for his encouragement of us and for his prayers on our behalf.  Dr. Seidler paid us a very nice compliment and told Brian that we have a special family.  Just a short while later, Dr. Seidler called back.  He had a patient come in who happened to be a pastor.  Dr. Seidler shared with this man a little about our family and about how happy he was for us that after seven weeks of being unemployed, God had given Brian a job.  The man looked at Dr. Seidler and handed him a $100 bill to give to us.  We were so touched that a man who does not know us would be so generous and kind towards us. 

I was reflecting on this incident this morning as I was preparing to go to work, and I cannot fathom why God has been so kind to us.  I believe that even though 2010 did not seem like our year in May, it seems like God has done us an extraordinary kindness in bringing us through the challenges that we have faced.  Brian and I were just talking about how much our perspective has changed through the trials and through the blessings.  One hundred dollars would not have seemed like much two years ago. Today, it seems like a very generous gift--particularly because it came from someone unknown to us. 

We are both seeing the blessings that God is showering upon us--they are there in small things if you look for them:  Smiles and laughter from little children; the faithfulness of a good friend; the sun shining on our faces; long, heartfelt conversations; and so many more.  I've been so touched by so many things lately.  It takes almost nothing to bring tears to my eyes these days (both tears of joy and tears of sadness). 

Anyway, maybe 2010 will be our year after all.  I told Brian tonight that we may look back at this year and find out that it was one of our best because it was the year that God changed our perspectives.  I pray that I never, ever take little things for granted again.

Many blessings,


Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Might Be a Redneck If...

You spend quality time with your dad in the woods with guns, OR

You spend quality time with your big brother learning to aim and shoot, OR
You look at the world from the perspective of a deer blind, at least once in a while.

We rounded out our Thanksgiving holiday at my parents' place in Perrin, Tx. this past weekend.  They have about 30 acres that my dad inherited from his mother.  They live on a portion of what had once been his grandparents' home place.  They divided the land four ways between their four children, and my grandmother's portion became my dad's. 

In the not-too-distant future, this land will belong to someone else.  My parents will leave this place and move someplace with less upkeep.  The area has changed due to oil and gas drilling, and my parents just want to live someplace closer to town.  My dad's health is also necessitating the move.  They need to be closer to good doctors.  A few years ago, my dad had a pretty bad accident involving a tractor and had to be Care Flighted to Fort Worth.  Living in the country gets a lot more complicated as you get older.

There are times, like this weekend, when I think that I will really miss the open skies of the old land.  It saddens me that a place that my family has had ties to for over 75 years will belong to someone else.  My dad and I had a nice talk on the way back from shooting out in the woods.  I think that their move to a new place is the beginning of a new adventure for them, and for all of us.  Things change, and we oftentimes have to change with them. 

Speaking of new adventures, I have great news to report:  Brian was offered a job last week!  I didn't want to announce it on my blog until Brian started telling people himself.  He announced it at church this morning, so I figure I can now spread the word.  He begins working this week.  We look forward to this new opportunity, as he will be working for men he has known professionally for over 17 years.  And as for me, well, I turned in my last assignment for my first class this evening.  That means one class down, just four more to go!

I sense that things are looking up, even as challenges remain.  It really does seem that when one door closes, another one opens...

Many blessings,


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

How's your Thanksgiving been?  Ours has been pretty nice!  Brian's parents are here for the holiday, and we have been enjoying a nice visit with them. Brian and his dad smoked the turkey last night, and I have to say that it is the best turkey I've ever had.  I baked the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies yesterday, so my mother-in-law and I just had to make the sides today for our lunch.  Everything was delicious! 

Today, when we gave thanks before we sat down to eat, Brian thanked God for our family and for God's provision.  He has surely carried us through this year, and for that we are truly grateful. 

I certainly hope that your Thanksgiving has been full of love, joy, and rest.  I also hope that it will be more than an opportunity to catch some good sales...being thankful has been overshadowed by 'getting stuff'.  If you are one of the people serving in retail who is pressed into working at midnight or 3 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, my prayer is that people will be kind to you, and that you will have the strength you need to do your job.  If you are one of the people going out to shop for Christmas tomorrow, please be kind.  Remember that Christmas gifts are given to show people that you love them and appreciate them.  Gift-giving is never meant to come at the expense of another person's dignity.  That doesn't honor our Savior.

Many blessings,


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Since you've asked...

We've got a lot of kind friends.  We are so grateful for the words of encouragement and the prayers that so many of you have been offering for us.  I know that it is because of your concern for us that many of you have been asking if we are ok financially.  The short answer is yes.

Though I may have been keeping quiet about the demise of the company that Brian worked for over this past year, it may help to know that we really have been expecting this lay-off.  We have been economizing over the last year, because it became very necessary last November.  That was when he and several other people in the company took pay decreases.  Lay-offs began shortly after. The company was hemorrhaging, and it became clear that drastic steps would need to be taken to try and save the company.  At first, the owners told the employees that investors were coming in to put cash into the business.   Rather than attempt to make excuses as to why the company failed, all I can really say for sure is that Brian stuck in there as long as he did because they asked him to help finish up the work that the company had in queue.  He was assisting in shutting down the company's operations right up until he was told that the company could no longer cover payroll.  By that point, we had been living on less for a long time.

Another thing that helped a lot was going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University in January 2009.  We paid off a lot of debt last year.  I wish I could say that we were debt free, but I can't.  However, we were socking away money and were attempting to make sure that in the event that Brian did not have a job to go to when the company finally closed its doors, that we would be able to get by for a while.

My going back to work has helped.  I got my first paycheck from subbing this week (Yay!). Unemployment has helped.  It would have been nice if the company had honored the severance agreement and had paid Brian the wages it owed him during his tenure.  It would have been tremendous if the company had repaid Brian what he was owed.  Alas, that has not happened.  At any rate, we are utilizing our savings right now.

It's nice to know that we have friends who are concerned for us, and I genuinely appreciate it.  Some of you have mentioned Christmas.  Thank you.  Truly, we appreciate it.  Psalm 11:5 says that God provides food for those who fear Him, and we continue to be amazed at how God has sustained us.  I know that His Word promises that God will take care of us and I am continuing to trust in that.

Many blessings,


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sweet moments...

Brian and I were sitting here in the living room, talking about forgiveness.  I really appreciated Pastor Mark's sermon today from Ephesians 4.  The particular topic was exactly what I needed to hear.  I intend to get rid of bitterness.  I confess that I have been angry with some people that have hurt me recently, and I've decided that I am going to work towards forgiving them.  I just want to let all of it go.  I can't pretend to be happy to see these folks yet--I'm just being honest.  I can't pretend to be happy to see someone who I feel has been dishonest and deceitful, but I am going to work hard on forgiving them. 

At any rate, we were talking and Lily came in, freshly bathed and teeth brushed.  She asked for Daddy to read to her before she went to bed.  This is the sweet picture that I captured.  Now, I ask you--do I have any right to be bitter?  I have so much love in my life.  This picture reveals just one of the many things I have to be thankful for.  I don't want to waste any effort on being bitter.  I just want to soak up all the sweetness and light that life has to offer.  I hope that you do, too.

Many blessings,


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Goes Up...

Relative to how things were for my family say, two years ago, things have been a bit stressful lately.  I had thought that I was handling the stress pretty well.  It seems that I was wrong.  The day of Pam Leyerle's funeral, my blood pressure shot up.  It was something like 150/96.  I seriously thought that Brian was going to have to take me to the emergency room.  I decided to lay down for a while and see if it would go back down, and it did.  It was still a little high, though, even after resting.

Last week, while subbing at a middle school--which I enjoyed, by the way--I wasn't feeling quite right.  Though I was having a bit of congestion, I just felt odd.  I stopped off at CVS on the way home to check out my bp.  Guess what?  High again--150/94.  My blood pressure is usually in the neighborhood of normal, so I knew something wasn't right.  I have a family history of high blood pressure, so I called the doctor to set up an appointment.  He confirmed my suspicion, and said that yes, my blood pressure is high.  I started taking blood pressure medication yesterday.  Simple enough, right?

Not exactly.  I am one of those medicine sensitive people who can't take the regular dose of anything, so one pill knocked my blood pressure down into below normal. I've been battling lightheadedness and lethargy all day.  The doctor recommends half a pill, so I'll try that tomorrow. It's hard to say, because my blood pressure has been low to normal all day, despite not taking any medication today.  I'm watching my bp carefully, so we'll see.

Anyhoo...subbing the rest of the week. Tomorrow, I'll be a PPCD (Public Preschool for Children with Disabilities) teacher.  Thursday and Friday, I'll be a Special Ed. Aide.  I'm looking forward to it!

Many blessings,