Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Story I've (kind of) Been Waiting to Tell

So, if you've read my blog in the last, oh, 6 months or so, then you know that I've been looking for a job. It has been a discouraging, fingernail biting time for me, but I am proud to announce: I have a job! I believe there is probably only .5% of people on the earth who have not heard this news, as I've made sure to let everyone I come into contact with know. :) I say that this is the story I've been waiting to tell, because I knew during the whole time that God was at work and I couldn't wait to share the story of how He worked things out. And I was right, He did have a plan He was working the whole time, but I have to confess, it was NOT the plan I thought it was.

Back in May, I started actively looking for a job once the dance recital was over. The dance recital was actually held in a town that is 20 minutes from us and when we were driving back from rehearsal I noticed that there was a place that was hiring.I made a mental note to apply there. Then, the next night I was working in the concession stand with a lady who does HR for the nursing home and asked if the had any openings for a social worker. She said they had just hired one Bummer. But then she told me about a position at the hospital and I went straight home that night and spent 25 hours some time working on the application for that job. A few days later I took a resume to the hospital and was told that they were pretty sure that I missed the deadline for that job, but they would fax it to another office just in case and keep my resume on file for the future. Again, I was bummed, but I left there and headed to the other place to apply for a family advocate position. When I got there I was sent upstairs to speak to a lady and when I told her I wanted to leave a resume for the family advocate position she said, "That's what I do." Awkward. We finally figured out that the company was hiring teachers for this location, but the family advocate position was in Panama City. She told me who to call about that position, but as we talked and I told her where I lived she mentioned that actually lived in Panama City and hoped to transfer to that location. I secretly hoped that was what would happen because I DID NOT want to have to drive to Panama City (we're in different time zones). But, after leaving a message for the lady I was told to call, I never heard anything.

Fast forward a few weeks and another job comes open at the hospital. It's not the one I really wanted, but I thought it would help me get my foot in the door. The day that I went to apply for that one, I felt so strongly that God told me to wait on the hospital. Well, wait is what I did. Soon I found out that I was actually in consideration for the first job I had applied for, the one I wanted so bad. I just knew, it had to be the one. I had a phone interview and felt so good about it. The lady I spoke with was so positive and really gave me a lot of hope. I waited for the next interview. And waited. At the end of August my grandmother was put in the hospital and not doing well at all. I went to Mississippi to be with her and my family and thought the whole time how grateful I was that I had not just started a job that I would be unable to take time off from. She passed away  and the day after we got home from her funeral, I found out I didn't get the hospital job. I won't lie. I was devastated. I really needed that job. For many reasons. The first being that I had convinced myself if I couldn't get that job (all of my professional experience is in healthcare), then I couldn't get any job.

I was still emotional and exhausted from losing my Mamaw, and I was tempted to use that as an excuse to  lay around and do nothing for a month, but I just couldn't. I do better when I'm busy. Monday, I let myself lay around and watch TV. Tuesday, I applied for another family advocate job. The listing didn't have the company name, so I didn't realize I was applying for that same job I had inquired about back in May. Wednesday, a ministry friend of ours came over to discuss some events and to have prayer with us. Before she left she said told me she would be praying about my job situation and she said, "I think you will hear about a job sooner than you think." I didn't know if that was just her being encouraging, but I sure hoped she was right! The next day I went to breakfast with some ladies and one of them works at the workforce center. I left with her and filled out more applications and she gave me a referral. I went that day to take it and my resume and Friday, I got a call for an interview! Monday of the next week I had my interview. I found out that the other family advocate I had spoken with was transferring and I would be taking her place. Wednesday was my birthday, and I got the best present when I heard from my friends I had listed as references and learned that they had been contacted! Friday, I got fingerprinted and a few days later I was offered the job!

When I didn't get the job at the hospital, I was so confused as to why I felt so strongly that I was supposed to wait on that job. I took that waiting thing seriously, I hadn't even applied for another job. But, then I realized that it was just a matter of timing and God moving the other lady so her position would be open. I didn't think I would be excited about another job, but I really am. I will be working with children, newborn to 3 years old and their families, making sure the children are cared for, receive proper medical care, and that all of their needs are met.  When I first started talking about going back to work, I said that I didn't think I could work with kids. In fact, several months ago, I didn't know if I was emotionally ready to do social work again at all. I am so thankful that over the months of job searching God has reminded me of the blessings and rewards that come with this type of work. And I'm thankful that He has taught me to be so dependent on Him, because I know I will need to be. And I'm thankful that He has truly sparked a passion in me living in  the community that we do to work with children and their parents in hopes of happier futures for them. And mostly, I am thankful that I serve a God who is the BEST author and gets the plot just perfect every time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Today, I am 32 years old. It's a fairly boring number, with no life changing significance to it. Except that it is another year, another opportunity for learning and growing and making memories. I often wondered growing up if I would ever reach an age where birthdays wouldn't be a big deal. When it wouldn't matter to me that I got the presents I wanted or had a big party. I think I am there. I am so blessed with loving family and friends who give me great gifts. And our sweet church family gave me a surprise party tonight. And those things were so fun. But the truth is that I truly feel so blessed that those things were just icing on the cake. I feel like this last year of my life brought with it a peace and an acceptance I hadn't known before. Peace with myself and who I'm becoming. Acceptance of hard things and extra appreciation for the good things.

Last night as Josh and I sat in the living room completely exhausted I told him I felt like I should be doing something memorable on my last night of being 31.  And then I decided my last meal as a 31 year old was memorable enough.

I made turkey meatloaf, corn on the cob and brussel sprouts. My meatloaf was so spicy we all had smoke coming out of ears, we kept squirting corn on the cob juice and the brussel sprouts....well, let's just say they didn't go over so well.......

In case you are wondering, yes, that is a bag just in case my child needed to spit out his food. Is that classy or what? Earlier in the night we had realized we were out of paper towels and napkins which was very bad since we were eating corn on the cob. Eli had grabbed a dishcloth to use (that's a big improvement, usually his shirt does just fine :), and during this exact moment that Eli was doing this Sarah says, "Will you hand me the napkin?" And for some reason that caused me to burst out in hysterical laughter.  Because here we were, eating food that caused my child to bring his own barf bag to the table and my daughter is asking for a dishcloth that at some point became a group napkin. And we just laughed. And ate brussel sprouts and spicy meatloaf. And made a memory. And I realized that somewhere along life's journey sharing a meal and some laughs with some of my favorite people is just about all I need to be  happy. Barf bags and all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Monkey Bars

Have you ever been discouraged? Feel it in your bones, see it in your face discouraged? I've been there. I've been there for several months now. Back in January or February of last year Josh and I decided I needed to go back to work full-time. For me to stay at home has always been an intentional, sacrificial choice. God has continually blessed us and provided for us, but with Kate starting school I knew that it only made sense for me to return to work. At the time I was still teaching dance and theater part-time and loved doing both. Those were more than jobs to me, they were an opportunity to revive a part of me that I had forgotten existed. I had grown attached to the kids God had placed in my life with each of those endeavors, and for months I dreaded having to tell them that I would not be returning after the year was up.

After dance and theater ended I began actively seeking full-time employment. I look back now and realize how incredibly arrogant I was as I expected to quickly find a job. I just expected that I would finish dance classes one week and start a new job the next. That did not happen. 

I didn't get the first job I interviewed for. I completed several lengthy, time consuming applications only to never even hear from anyone. I drove to offices and repeated applications I had already filled out online, hoping to get to talk to someone in real life. The one time I met a person in real life I found out she had the job I wanted and she was totally confused about why I was there. I started feeling desperate. Started wondering if I was even supposed to do social work anymore. Had I chosen the wrong major? Was I still cut out for social work? What was I cut out for? What is the meaning of life? Am I 17 again? No, too many wrinkles to be 17. :) As I worked through this life crisis, a friend told me about an opening at her company for a financial auditor. Feel free to laugh here. I did. For anyone who doesn't know, I don't do numbers. The only financially auditing I've done is when Josh and I looked at our finances and decided I should go back to work. :) Anyway, my friend convinced me that no experience was required, they would train me. I tried to psyche myself up. I filled out the extensive applications online that the company sent me. One was a psychological inventory. I thought for sure that would do me in, but they called for an interview. I went and met Bob. He was the HR hiring manager, but he really could have a successful counseling practice. We began the interview and soon I felt like I was in therapy. Several other people had to interview me and while we would wait for their arrival he would ask me, "Are you sure you would be happy here? All the work you've done is so interactive and here it would just be you and a computer screen."  The more we talked, the more I questioned what I was doing there. And not in a bad way. He never made me feel crazy for being there, he just seemed to recognize my personality, education and strengths and that I probably would not be happy there. By the end of the interview when he asked me what I would say if he offered me a job, I had to be honest and tell him I just didn't know. 

That interview led me to do some soul searching, and while I still wasn't sure what I was supposed to do, I knew that job wasn't it. A month or so before I interviewed for that job, I had applied online for a position at the hospital. I thought it was the perfect position for me. All of my experience is in healthcare and I decided that job was just created for me. I was discouraged to learn that 140 people applied for that job and even more discouraged when it was quickly gone from the website. Someone told me about another job at the hospital, and although it wasn't the one I originally wanted, I applied for it. During the course of applying for that job, I learned that my resume was actually still under review and that original job was still open. Hope. I had prayed and felt that God told me to wait on that job. So, I did. A month went by. I ended up teaching dance the whole month of June, which was a blessing. Another month came, and I was discouraged again. Again, I began questioning if I was really supposed to go back to work. Josh and I had a serious heart to heart. That night I got a phone call. It was a lady from the hospital and she wanted to do a phone interview! There are no words for how excited I was. We did the phone interview and I was even more excited about the job. She told me there would be a peer interview process and she would let me know in a couple of weeks if I made it to that part. 

Three weeks went by. But who was counting, right? :)  I finally e-mailed her to check in and let her know I was still interested. She let me know that she had been really busy, but that my resume had been forwarded to the peer interview process. I could breathe. She told me it would be another 2-3 weeks  before that could be arranged. I was fine with that as long as I had the hope that I still had a chance. 

Two or three weeks came and went and no word. I went to Mississippi for a week to be with my grandmother who was in the hospital and eventually passed away. I told myself that it was God's timing. That if I had already gotten a job it would have been too soon for me to take any time off and I would have missed that opportunity that I so needed, to be with her. The day after I got home, I checked the webpage, the one that had told me my resume was "Under Review" for five whole months. And that day it said, "Applicant Not Selected".

It may as well have said, "Your life is over", "You are a total failure", or "There is no hope for you". That was how I felt. I allowed myself a day of pajama wearing and moping and by that night, I was tired of myself. I hadn't seen a single job in the classifieds for me, but then a friend who has been on the job search journey with me told me about a website where I quickly found a job to apply for.  A few days later another friend invited me to breakfast and one of the girls there just happened to work at the workforce center and knew about the job I was applying for. She wrote a referral for me and that very day I took it and my resume to the office. The next day, I got a call for an interview! On Monday I will put on my skirt and high heels and walk up in that place like I know what I'm doing. Because I have hope.

My hope is not necessarily that I will get that job. I am so over trying to figure that out. My hope is that God is still in control and has a plan. He always has, He always will. I still haven't figured it out. His plan has not lined up with mine. My plan was that I would have started a job back in June, we would have taken a longer vacation, and be halfway to our goal for a down payment on a new vehicle. But, there have been other plans. There have been other things I've needed to be available for. I've needed some time to think and to stare at walls. There have been lessons I've needed to learn along the way. I've needed to learn that my value as a person is not dependent on the job title I hold. I've needed to learn that real friends care about you, not the position you hold. I've needed to remember some of my experiences and regain my confidence in myself. I've needed to remember that God is the ultimate provider. I've needed to remember how to trust Him again. 

Today it hit me that my job search has been a lot like climbing on the monkey bars. At times I feel like I'm dangling by one arm, about to fall and then before I know it, God has put another rung there for me to grab onto. Each time I have started to get discouraged, there has been a new opportunity to grab hold of. If nothing else, to give me hope to keep trying. Tomorrow, I might be interviewing for "The Job" or it might just be "a job" I don't get. Either way, it has given me hope to hold on.  I'll keep swingin'.....

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."

~Proverbs 13:12

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Good Saturday morning! I just wanted to pop in and brag for a minute. :) This morning marked a landmark day in our home. I made the perfect pancake! Eleven years of marriage and 3 kids later, I finally did it. You can't really appreciate this unless you understand how pitiful my pancake making skills have been in the past. Several years ago, two different people gifted me with "The Perfect Pancake Maker" (remember those?), and I STILL could not make the perfect pancake. I could barely make an edible one. I finally found a mix that you just add water to, and I had some success with it. But, now I have made pancakes from scratch AND successfully flipped them without leaving half the pancake on the spatula.

Sarah witnessed it this morning and went shouting into the living room, "Mommy made the perfect pancake!" The beauty of your kids experiencing your failures with you is that they are as equally excited in your moments of achievement. :) 

The pancakes that I made were these, Blender Oatmeal Pancakes. No flour, y'all. I was so thrilled to discover this recipe as I cannot have white flour and I had sadly accepted the fact I would never eat pancakes again. And I love pancakes. Even my messy, half of them uncooked on the spatula kind. I had some reservations about these. It had to be too good to be true, right? WRONG! They really are good! My kids each ate 3 a piece this morning!  I actually  made these for the first time a few weeks ago and Sarah ate two and eagerly asked for another. Then, I started swelling with pride and naming off the things these pancakes were made with and when she heard "oatmeal" she suddenly couldn't stomach another. :)  I shared this with a friend who I had gotten the recipe from and she joked that at their house it's "don't ask, don't tell". That cracked me up. It is pretty funny how no matter how good something is, we balk if we find out it includes something like oats or greek yogurt. 

Speaking of greek yogurt, I used the substitution she suggests for the buttermilk. I used a cup of plain greek yogurt and 3/4 cups of water. I also used 2 Tbs. of honey instead of sugar and I cooked the pancakes in coconut oil. That is my newest favorite thing. I've started using it to replace butter when cooking sweet things like pancakes or muffins. I served the pancakes with real maple syrup, and OH.MY.GOODNESS, old pancake syrup will never work again. I was so thrilled to learn that maple syrup, while loaded with sugar, is actually much better for you than pancake syrup. Hallelujah! It's a bit pricey, but that ensures that pancake eating is a special treat around here, and that I don't serve them 3 meals a day. :)

When we have bananas around, I also love to make these, Banana Pancakes. Yum!! I have recently discovered 100 Days of Real Food and it has changed my life! She has so many great, easy recipes and lots of fun, healthy ideas for school lunches. 

What is your favorite weekend treat?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

At Mamaw's House

At Mamaw's house, we don't wear shoes, indoors or out.
Our feet, caked in dirt, feel every blade of grass and we become superhuman in our ability to walk on the rocks in the driveway.

At Mamaw's house, the days are long and we make the most of every last bit of sunshine.
We climb trees, we make cakes out of dirt, and we roll down the big ditch.

At Mamaw's house, we dream. I swing, and swing, and swing and watch the cars go by. We  lay on the ground and look at clouds shaped liked elephants and cars and angels.

At Mamaw's house, we eat. A lot. Potato salad, orange fluff, chicken n' dumplings, and banana pudding. Other people eat, too. A revolving door of non-stop visitors fills every inch of her house holding a styrofoam plate and a glass of the sweetest sweet tea you ever drank.

At Mamaw's house, we visit. Sometimes with people we love and look forward to seeing, sometimes with people we spend the rest of the night trying to figure out how we're related.

At Mamaw's house, we cut paper dolls out of the Sears Christmas catalog and play with baby dolls our Mama played with.

At Mamaw's house, we learn that we can get glad in the same pants we got mad.

At Mamaw's house, sometimes we're sneaky. I sneak into her bathroom to play in her make-up. We sneak in to try on Aunt Annabelle's wig while she sleeps.

At Mamaw's house, there is only one TV channel. Unless Papaw goes outside to move the antenna. We get up early on Saturday to watch cartoons.

At Mamaw's house, we walk miles to the candy store to get candy and a coke. Sometimes, if Mamaw is gone shopping, Papaw will take us there to get a hamburger for lunch.

At Mamaw's house, we sing "She's in Love With The Boy" to the cows in the pasture and we think they enjoy it.

At Mamaw's house, we go fishing at the pond and learn that sometimes you have to wait more than 3.5 seconds to get a bite. I try to like catfish for Papaw, but mostly I just like hushpuppies.

At Mamaw's house, we ride on the lawn mower until we run out of gas.

At Mamaw's house, I said my first cuss word. I was four. She never let me forget it. :)

At Mamaw's house, we hunt for Easter eggs, even if it's not Easter. And we sing, "Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail, hoppin' down the bunny trail...."

At Mamaw's house, we are kids. And we are loved.

In Loving Memory