Monday, October 25, 2010

Packin' Up, Movin' Out

Yep...we're moving back to Sonoma County!  If you've read my previous posts, you'll know what a difficult time Sam and I have had here in Southern CA.  I'm not planning to put all the details onto my blog for the world to see, but if you're interested in knowing specifics, I'll be glad to tell you personally.  Ultimately, we finally felt that last straw that broke the camel's back.  It came in the form of a leaky condo roof.  Yes...we came home Tuesday night after a particularly hard couple of days to find a soaked through roof.  We realized we did not want to purchase a place that would need so much extra work and money.  And that was it!

After a lot of prayer, we felt that moving back would be best for us at this time.  And since we've decided, things have progressed rather quickly!  Sam was already offered a job (before he even began searching!) and we already found a new place to live.  Praise God!  My friend told me that she'd prayed we would feel peace about the decision and confirmation that we did the right thing - and that's exactly what has happened.

We just keep getting more and more excited as we think more about it.  But that's not to say we won't miss people here!  My aunt and uncle live here, as well as my cousin and her husband.  My college roommate lives here with her family as well.  We've really enjoyed being around all of them, and if it hadn't been for them we wouldn't have even made it this long!  But even they have all been encouraging in our decision.  Something my Aunt Sharon said to me was especially encouraging.  She said it's hard to know what to do in these situations...do we wait through the hard times and learn, or does it come to a point when all the doors keep closing and we take it as a sign to move on?  We certainly feel that many doors have been shut tight for us down here.

Having said that, I do believe we were brought here for a reason.  Sam and I learned so much living here the past few months, and I am so grateful for the strong foundation it has been for our marriage.  I'm a big believer that God always has us right where we're supposed to be in any given situation, and for our first 90 days of marriage, that place was in the Antelope Valley.  I wouldn't give up these experiences for anything.  Though they were hard, they made us strong.

Well...time to start packing.  I'm a little overwhelmed by that - I just unpacked everything and decorated our home!  And our new place is much smaller than this one, so I get to go through everything and figure out what we really need.  Perhaps I need a lesson in simplifying and getting rid of our overabundance of material things???  Guess I'll always be learning. :)

P.S. I'd love prayers for a new job! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Friends!

Went to Calabasas last night to meet up with Marci & JulieAnn, two of my best friends from high school, and their respective husbands, Josh and Robert.  Calabasas is central for all three of us, since JulieAnn and Robert live in Santa Barbara and Marci and Josh live in Orange.  It was a good time of great food and frozen yogurt.  I love these girls!  And the boys, too. :)  We took some pictures, so I thought I'd include them.  Randomly we all showed up wearing blue and white, so we thought that was fun!
I can only take one serious picture before this starts.

Marci told me to be serious...

Our cute boys...notice which husband also doesn't do a normal smile for the picture. :)

Robert was against this picture.

Robert, JulieAnn, me, Sam, Marci, Josh.  Ridiculous matchers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

God's Funny

When I was nineteen, I started compiling a stack of notecards.  On each notecard were verses I'd written that I really wanted to memorize.  I like to go through them when I'm praying for people.  I've found that if I just sit and pray for even more than a couple minutes without something else to break it up, my mind wanders and I'm suddenly thinking about kittens when I had been praying for my friend's marriage.  Silly me.

So the notecards...I love them.  Different verses really meant a lot to me during different times in my life, and sometimes the same verse will be applied in a whole new way depending on what I'm going through.  Sort of like how you just think a song about breaking up has a nice melody until you break up with your boyfriend; then the lyrics immediately mean so much and you listen to it over and over and over.

This morning I was praying when I was very much not in a mood to pray.  These times, I've learned, are when I need to pray the most.  I was irritated because I didn't even get an interview for a job that I am completely qualified for (other than the fact that I speak our country's national language and nothing else - fail) and feeling discouraged, as though God doesn't see or has forgotten how ready I am to move on.  I had my notecards face down, sort of like a deck of cards when you're playing blackjack and you don't know what's coming but you hope it's something good.  So I was praying for myself (because yes, I'm selfish and pray for myself first) and feeling defeated in the whole job realm.  And what's the first card I turn over?  "He will not let you be defeated.  He who guards you never sleeps." (Psalm 121:3).  Oh.  Right.  Thanks for that.  Moving on...

I kept praying, wondering how long Sam and I would have to go through this stupid time of growing (yes, if you've read my previous posts you'd know that I had a good attitude about it before and today I'm just feeling lousy).  And what verse do I turn over?  "Wait for God, wait with hope!  Hope now, hope always." (Psalm 131:3)  Dang it!  Okay fine, I'll keep waiting, even with hope!  I had told JulieAnn yesterday I was tired of getting my hopes up about new possibilities.  And now I'm told to wait?  With hope?

So then I start praying for my husband, my wonderful husband who I snapped at last night and who I am particularly stubborn with.  And guess what card I get?  Psalm141:3, which reads, "Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say."  Very funny, God.  We've already established I am the last person who can control her tongue.  That was affirmed when I got the "Most Mouthy" award from my coach freshman year of water polo.  And I'm supposed to be controlling my tongue in my marriage?  Even speaking somewhat respectfully to this man I'm now sharing life with?  Come on!  I learned all these lessons years ago when I first copied down these verses.  Surely I don't have to learn them again.

Ahh, but sadly yes, I do have to learn them again.  I seem to always be learning old lessons; lessons I've already had great epiphanies over, that I've already written in my journal about, saying things like, "Oh, I finally get it!  Now I know how to handle this!"  I wonder when any of them will finally stick.  I'm thinking when I finally am refined and changed and it's real and I apply it to my life, maybe that's when I'll get a new job.  So okay people, time to really focus and learn!  And laugh when God gently (or not so gently) reminds me of things He's been patiently trying to teach me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Workin' for a Living

I would like to discuss the subject of jobs today.  Jobs are on my mind specifically because I highly dislike mine.  Don't get me wrong - I'm extremely thankful to have a job in this economic climate, and I will work there as long as I need to in order to contribute to my family.  However, I still really don't like it.

It's not that the people are bad.  Actually, I like all of my coworkers except for one specific woman, who thinks she's really special because she's worked at Costco for four years.  Hi-five, lady.  You rock.  And you are ever so much smarter than the stupid new girl, so you totally deserve to treat her like crap.  The work itself is mostly fine, except that a monkey could do it.  If my goal in life was to find a job that required little to no intelligence, I have succeeded.  Hurray.

What I really hate is the hours.  I go to work sometime in the afternoon until around 10pm.  I used to think it would be great to have a job where I could have mornings off to get things done and run errands.  This was before I got married and realized I like making dinner for my husband and eating it with him.  I don't get to do that anymore.  Also, everyone I know works during the day.  Should I ever choose to call someone or visit them, I remember they're working and won't be available until I head off to my own job.  Insert sad face.  Also, I'm very much a morning person and not so much a night person.  Really after 8pm I'm worthless anyway, so my employers aren't getting much for their money either.

I know we all have to pay our dues.  I know sometimes we have to suffer through jobs we don't love.  The problem is that I'm one of those weird people who thinks life is too short to waste it on a job you hate.  Yes, I'm very much a dreamer.  I think if you're going to spend the majority of your time doing something, it might as well be something you enjoy, or at least something you can tolerate.  Poor Sam has tried to convince me that some people go through life just doing a job and they don't like it and it's just the way it is.  My dad used to try to tell me that, too.  "That's why it's called 'work'," he'd say.  Much as I'd love to adapt to this way of thinking, my mind refuses to cooperate.

There are just tooooo many cool jobs out there, people!  I know - I've had them!  Just for funsies, let's go through my list of employment.  Bear with me; this could take awhile.

  • Cleaning my uncle's house and the office building he owned, once a week (pretty swell job, just cleaned every Saturday while performing entire musicals for my mom, who cleaned with me.  Some favorites were Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Les Mis, and Bye Bye Birdie.)
  • Cleaning the lodges at Hume Lake (pretty much the same as above)
  • Lifeguard/swim instructor (SUPER fun!  Played with kids, laid out in the sun, hung out with all my awesome friends, didn't have to go inside once.  HIGHLY recommend this position to any 16-20 year-olds out there)
  • Student assistant, CSULB (got to do my homework when there wasn't work to do, worked with one of the coolest people ever, Kidada)
  • Lifetouch Portraits, JC Penney (loved taking pictures, hated how fast and non-creative it was)
  • Main St. Coffee Cup (got to deliver coffee to businesses on Main St. in Porterville, one of the cutest streets around - great times!)
  • Fashion Network (wasn't so good at putting together outfits, but basic retail clothing store, working with one of my best friends)
  • New York & Company (clothing store in the mall, HATED this job, mostly because I hate malls)
  • Rainbows Florist (delivered flowers to crazy expensive houses in Seal Beach, assembled bouquets - toooo stressful)
  • In-n-Out corporate office (temp job with my cousin.  Worked in the accounting dept. Good money and a free burger, fries, and drink every day!) 
  • Christmas Tree Lot - (HANDS DOWN BEST JOB EVER!!!! I sat at a cash register all day surrounded by Christmas trees and Christmas music.  Did nothing but hang out with my aunt, eat candy canes, knit 50 scarves, and drink hot cocoa allll day.  GREAT money, too!)
  • Forward Advantage, Inc. (pretty sweet job working for a medical software company, got to do some marketing as well)
  • Starbucks (flexible and loved all my coworkers.  Tons of free coffee and hung out with friends all day.  Only drawback was the hours and the fact it was open 365 days a year)
  • Bank of the Sierra (LOVED counting money! Sort of stressful handling so much cash, though)
  • Mt. Gilead (bomb people, free food, and in the middle of the redwoods in Sonoma County)

I think that's everything, though I'm probably forgetting something.  I also think the only person who can rival my list of the most random jobs would be Sam.  But most of these jobs had some great things about them.  Even though there were difficult things with each one, the pros outweighed the cons.  This is one of those jobs that I'm finding difficult to tolerate.  I've tried everything I can think of.  I try to be as positive as possible, have as much fun as possible with coworkers and customers, and try to focus on why I'm working - for Sam and our family.  But for some reason I'm having a hard time not dreading each day I go to work!

So help, people!  How do you all deal with jobs you can't stand?  What little sayings do you repeat over and over until you can make it?  I don't know how long I have to be at Costco, but I don't want it to be this miserable forever.  Help me make the best of it!

I do know what one of my dream jobs is (believe me, I've got at least twenty).  I would LOVE to be a freelance writer.  Sitting at coffee shops tapping away on my computer, creating my own schedule (or maybe following one set up by my editor).  That sounds like heaven to me.  Maybe someday...I can dream.  Insert smiley face.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh there you are, Peter

You know those things in life that it seems like we can't live without?  Things that just make us feel complete, like we are home, like we're doing what we were created to do.  For everyone I would assume there is at least one thing that feels like breathing to them; something that, if they've been missing it for too long, feels so refreshing once they return to it.  For me, there are at least seventeen of those, activities I must daily partake in or I will go crazy.  (Obviously we all now know why I'm crazy, because it's impossible to fit in that many activities in one day in addition to normal adult responsibilities like laundry and working and whatnot.)

Today it was a George Strait song.  I hadn't listened to music for awhile, and I put an old CD in my car and thought, yes, this is what I needed.  Truth is, if I go to long without music - listening to it, singing, playing my guitar, or creating it - I feel a bit hollow.  The same goes for reading and writing.  When I'm not doing it very often, I feel okay, and it's not completely obvious to me why I don't quite feel right.  But when I return to it and make it more of a priority, it all makes sense. I realize what's been missing and that I must always return to it.  And then I wonder why I let silly things get in the way, like facebook and television and non-essential, day-wasting activities.

Reading my Bible and praying is non-negotiable.  From the time I was about nineteen years old, I started making this a habit, and you better believe I feel it when I slack on this one.  (You all probably feel it too, you just don't know it.  If Kim is crabby, impatient, or pessimistic, maybe remind her to bust out the Bible or her stack of verses.)  Exercise is a big one, too.  I tweaked my knee about a month and a half ago and haven't been able to run since.  Poor Sam doesn't realize it, but he has no idea what a happy, nice wife he'll have once her stupid knee gets better.  (Or once I figure out I can do something else, like Pilates.)

As I was thinking about this, I wondered what activities everyone else would say they really need to be more at peace.  For some people it's cooking, for some it's gardening, for some it's taking pictures.  Often it isn't something that's completely necessary - it's more of a hobby, something we wish we could get paid to do, something that makes us lose track of time.  And, unfortunately, it's often something that gets pushed to the back burner when life gets in the way.  Can't paint that picture today, gotta pay the bills and do the dishes.

Maybe you all have your lives together and are great at making priorities and doing the things that are important to you.  Or maybe you don't have any of those hobbies.  If you don't, I highly suggest you find something.  And if you do have something like that but have been ignoring those urges or have been putting it off until a day when you have more time, I am encouraging you to do it today.  You'll suddenly realize what you've been missing and you'll be so glad you took the time to create or learn.  And maybe we'll all be just a little bit happier with ourselves and each other.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Growing Pains

I remember a season in my life that was really wonderful.  I was dating my first love, I had a fun, easy job where it felt like I just hung out with my friends all day, and I had my own cat, an awesome little guy named Harrison (who was indeed named after Harrison Ford).  Harry was the type of cat that even cat-haters loved.  He was very mellow and hilarious to watch.  He was my first pet that was my own, not a family pet.  And I vividly remember the night he got hit by a car,  I remember my dad saying, "You've had a very good summer.  This must be really hard."  And he was right, you see, because when everything in your life is going very well and is rather easy, even what seems like a light rain feels like a torrential downpour, complete with winds and hail.  My poor Harry being hit and killed by a car was the first in what seemed to be a season of storms, full of lots of pain and hurt.

The funny thing is, once the storms subsided, I realized how much I had grown.  I liked myself so much more than when everything was easy and comfortable.  My character grew, I matured, and the little bumps in life didn't send me into a downward spiral anymore.  That time in my life, almost exactly two years ago, I can say that I was very joyful.  Things weren't perfect, but I could see why God brought me through such difficult situations, and I could be grateful for everything I had experienced that had brought me to such a content, trusting place.

I feel like the past year and a half of my life was another "easy, comfortable, fun" season.  We'll call those the summers of my life.  I lived in northern California where the attitude is much more relaxed.  I had an amazing boyfriend/fiance who I felt completely blessed to have in my life, and who introduced me to a huge number of friends.  We always had interesting things to do and wonderful people to do them with.  I lived with a friend who I've known since I was quite young, who understood me and who made me laugh constantly.  My commute to my job took me through beautiful vineyards and some of the most gorgeous places I've ever seen.  My job was fairly simple, I got to pray every morning with my coworkers, and my boss cared more about me and how I was doing than about the job in general.  I really had it good.  I am very thankful to have experienced this "summer season" of my life.  And yet I don't feel like I grew much at all.

Currently, my life is in very much a "fall" season, where change is abundant.  My husband and I moved to southern California, which is so much less the type of atmosphere where we feel we belong.  We went from a huge group of friends to just a couple of friends, which was very hard for a social couple.  We left our flexible, pleasant jobs for ones that are a lot more strict and unforgiving.  I had to stop going to school, since I was enrolled in classes up north and have not been able to enroll here yet.  It has been very, very hard; much more difficult than either of us imagined.

And yet, we're learning so much.  I refused to cooperate for awhile, but now that I've been here for a couple months, I've started allowing God to use these challenges to shape me and mature me once again into the type of woman he wants me to be.  Already it has been incredibly amazing to see how much Sam has grown, and I admire him everyday for his willingness to use this time in life to learn.  It would definitely be the easy way out for us to move back up north (and I've tried to convince him to do it multiple times, believe me), but I'd much rather be gritting our teeth and growing than sailing through, remaining somewhat stagnant.  I haven't always had this attitude, but I've been greatly inspired by my husband, who has been incredible in his desire to honor his commitments and God, and to learn whatever lessons we need to be learning.  I even feel guilty now for the times I've told him we should just move back, because I realized that God is working in him in really amazing ways down here.  My desire for us to just be happy might sometimes get in the way of necessary pain that will promote growth.

A lot of people don't understand our decision to move, and our decision to stick it out for the time being.  We'd love to move back up north and might do so one day.  But I can say without hesitation that these challenges have strengthened our marriage more than I thought possible, and have given me renewed love and respect for this man I'm blessed to share life with.  We never would have been stretched so much if we'd stayed in our comfort zone, and we feel that these challenges are preparing us better for whatever lies ahead.  I can actually say that I'm thankful we moved and I'm thankful for the job that I hate and the friends that I miss because these things are making me a stronger person, and helping me see the good things in life so much more clearly.  I wouldn't appreciate the summer nearly as much if I didn't have to go through the winter.

Don't get me wrong - I'm very much looking forward to the day when we love our jobs and we have lots of friends and feel more comfortable where we are.  But for once I'm trying to stick it out and make the best of something, rather than giving up and taking the easy, more fun way.  I have to remind myself daily that this is a time of refining, and I'm thankful to be doing it with a husband who understands that and encourages me to be a better version of myself.
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