Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bra Shopping With My 5 Year Old: Unscripted!

You know those conversations that you have at times, most often with your children, and there is absolutely no way it could be scripted? Well, I had one of those moments today that was just way to funny and real not to share! This is no life changing post, but it should definitely make you smile and laugh!
I have been in desperate need to get a couple of new bras- or I guess My "Girls" were in desperate need of them. We had a little time, so headed to a department store that so happened to be having a huge sale and was jam packed. We headed over to the "Intimate Apparel" department, and OF COURSE- as soon as we get there Gianna has to go potty! Lupe ran her to the bathroom while Tenly stayed with me to help me with my not so fun task of finding the right bra. Okay, it's no secret that my "girls" are on the larger side, and I wear the unpopular size of a 34DD- VERY hard to find! Even harder to find nice, pretty, good 34DD's on a budget, so Tenly and I set out on the search. Funny enough, she was having the time of her life bringing me EVERY kind of bra imaginable, to which I kept repeating, "Yes, Tenly! That's beautiful, but we have to find one in Mommy's size!". Tenly would reply, "Okay, Mommy- I'll find it!".
As we came to the not so pretty "fuller" bra's- Tenly was NOT impressed- these were just not as pretty as the others she insisted! I just told her we'd keep searching until we found Mommy's size. Let me remind you, this store was PACKED! All of a sudden, I hear Tenly saying (loudly), "No, no, no,no, no, no,no....". She asked me, "Mommy, do you know why I keep saying NO?". "Why are you saying NO, Tenly?", I asked. Very frustrated and loud she replied, "Because Mommy, none of these BOOBIES fit you- you are just to big for all these BOOBIES and you must get beautiful BOOBIES not these!".
You could of heard a pin drop in that department before you heard bursts of giggles from every direction. To which, I repeated, "I'm so sorry" to about 15 people and tried to explain to Tenly, unsuccessfully, that these are bras for Mommy's boobies.
It was about 5 minutes later when I started hearing, "No,no,no,no,no..." again followed by another spurt of, "All of these boobies are not pretty: these are all NO's Mommy!".
A couple of ladies came up to me and thanked me for giving them their best laugh in a week, and were very appreciative to my 5 year olds unscripted view of Bra's and Boobies!
Needless to say, I did manage to find 2 bras that met Tenly's approval! Not as beautiful as the bright pink polka dot bra- but she did approve of the "Boobies" I picked out.................
(BTW, I had to type this very quickly- so I apologize for it being written rather sloppily!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not An Easy Decision, But The Right Decision

There is one thing that every one should do in their lifetime- especially when you live in Florida.....Disney World! Somehow, my girls seem to know they are closer to the big attraction- they talk about it, ask when we're going, dream and talk about what they'll do when they get there, wonder what characters they'll see and which of them will be there.
I've been to Disney many times considering I was born and raised in Florida- I never realized how big of a deal it was then as I do now. I understand how big of a deal it was now because I understand the astronomical $$$COST$$$ involved- especially when you consider my parents had four kids!
There is a lot to consider when it comes to children and Disney World. I remember going to Disney and watching parents wrestle with overtired/overhot/cranky/having no fun children- and of course all of that meant the parents were having an even more miserable time. So, although I could not wait for the day I'd introduce my kids to Disney, Micky, and Cinderella's Castle- I determined that I would not do it until my kids could enjoy it. If I am going to pay a ridiculous amount of money on Disney World- both of my girls were going to REMEMBER and LOVE every sticking moment- and so was I!
WELL, Lupe and I were talking a few months ago and decided maybe before Tenly started Kindergarten in August we should take them. Tenly is more than old enough, but Gia is 3 1/2- a little younger than my original plan. But, we embarked on making some plans and seeing what our options were. We decided to go ahead and do it, although only for a day- we're only about 2 1/2 hours away. It is quite expensive to go to Disney nowadays- although worth the cost for the experience for our girls. No doubt, we were having to watch every penny and scrimp and save- I mean at this point, every penny still has a name- but we wanted to try.
It started to weigh on my mind a lot- wondering if Disney was a good financial decision at this point.?.? Was it a smart decision to put the little extra into Disney when we had other places we could put it that would start putting us ahead? I mean, the tickets alone were going to be around $275., then we had 1-2 nights at a hotel which is between $100-200, gas would be around $150., then their was food which I would guesstimate to be $150-200 (doing it cheap). So, it adds up- QUICKLY!
A little wrench was thrown in our plans when I realized that Tenly's "Meet The Teacher" day would be during our trip- and that's a big deal, big enough that Lupe and I would not miss it. As we began to try to figure out another day that would work, I began to think of another aspect of the decision "to go or not to go". What would we be teaching our girls (The Big Picture)? Would they actually ever know the details behind us trying to make this happen- no, probably not. But, what if they did- or what if one day they were in a situation over doing something fun or acting more responsibly- what would we tell them to do? I'm very sure that we would tell our them to take the responsible road and find a less expensive way to treat themselves to a day of fun.
So, we are not going to Disney in August- luckily we did not tell our girls we were even planning it- we are taking the- less exciting- but ultimately more rewarding road. We are going to continue to get ahead, pay off some more debt, and put ourselves in a better position to hopefully give the girls an early Christmas present in November. I'd be lying if I didn't say, it makes my heart a bit sad not to surprise them in a week or so yelling, "We're going to Disney World"- but it also makes me happy and gives me peace that we are being more responsible in planning for our family and our girls futures. Not the easiest decision we've had to make, but I'm convinced it was the right one.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Growing...............

I wish that title was speaking of me finely going beyond 5 foot tall....but it's not!
This weekend was VERY special in our house, my beautiful daughter, Tenly, turned 5 big years old on Saturday. I must mention our first conversation that morning. First, if you know Tenly- you must picture her talking to me with her eyes very wide and speaking 'matter-of-factly'. When Tenly woke up she came into our bedroom and of course we welcomed her with enthusiastic "Happy Birthday's". I jumped her up on my bed and started telling her, "You're 5 years old, Tenly! You're so BIG, such a big girl!". All of a sudden, it was like I could see this light bulb going on in her head, her eyes widened and she looked right at me as she pulled up the pant legs of her jammies, and kicked her feet up. She looked down at her legs, back up at me and said, "MomMom, look at my legs- they're HUGE- I AM such a BIG girl. I'm 5 now, look at how big I am!". Cuteness at its best!
Anyway, now that I'm done showing off my kid....I'll write about how much I've grown up! I am a self proclaimed neat freak. At times, it has even "paralyzed" me. But, this weekend- I saw a change! As I've said before- we live in a pretty small apartment. It's perfect for the 4 us- but when you add 4 more people- totaling 8 people in our 1,100 sq. ft. 2 bedroom apartment- it gets tight. For Tenly's party, my parents came in for a few days and brought my nephew and niece, Emry and Maya with them. Where do you put guests in a 2 bedroom apartment? Well, on the living room floor on air mattresses- where else? Which means luggage, shoes, and "stuff" in every nook and cranny! This type of situation tends to bring on quite a bit of anxiety for me, and makes me very bad company. The fact that I was working some too, made it better- I didn't have to see it, and harder- I couldn't straighten and clean at every opportunity.
But, I decided before they even got here- I wanted to have fun, and more importantly I wanted them to have fun. The only way to tackle an issue is to admit it's an issue. So, I made up mind to let it go- straighten what I could only when necessary. I also chose not to get an attitude or freak out over "stuff"- if me going and straightening/cleaning was going to make someone else uncomfortable- then I'd just have to wait it out. Well, I succeeded (at least I think I did, my family may have a different view, lol)- a couple times I found myself talking to me saying, "It's not a big deal, it's really not.."- it worked! The girls were watching shows in my bed a couple of mornings- and I even left my bed unmade- and I was okay!
The party was so wonderful, we had it at "The Little Gym" where I work- Tenly completely beamed all day! Tenly's parties have often been challenging while at the ministry- because it was not during a convenient time, it was during summer. That created a lot of unnecessary stress for Lupe and I- although we always pulled off a great time! This Birthday, was not only stress-free, but Tenly's first party with family there to celebrate with her. Her Poppy, Grammy, Uncle Bubbo (Johnnie), Aunt Debbie, Emry, and Maya were all there- I think that was a high light of her day. We have made many wonderful friends from our church since moving, and so many of them celebrated with us and made it a spectacular day!
So, this past weekend- Tenly and her MomMom grew together!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

(Part 2) My Horrible, Terrible, Awful, Bad, Disastorous, Unfortunate Choice!

If you have not read my previous post,"My Horrible, Terrible, Awful, Bad, Disastrous, Unfortunate Choice!" (Part 1, July 13 post), you may want to read that one before reading this one.
My purse was stolen in Miami, and we now realized these people had not only my license- but they had our checking account number and were using it, and they also had my Social Security number.
The next morning, after we realized they had our checking account number, Lupe was advised to head directly to the bank. After much discussion, weighing all of our options, they totally froze the account so that only deposits- nothing else- could happen against that account (since we had direct deposits going in within a couple days). We opened another account and transferred everything into that. The Saturday morning following our direct deposits going into that account, Lupe headed to the bank to transfer the money out of that account and close it.....or so we thought. Upon Lupe arriving at the bank and sitting down with their manger, it came to our attention that some bank teller in Miami had cashed 2 checks totaling over $3000. against our account (even with every red flag possible on that account). In other words, our account was now almost -$4000., and our rent was due! I don't think it is even possible to describe the amount of stress and emotion that was on our soldiers.
The bank graciously took full responsibility- that although we appreciated- their gracious responsibility wasn't going to pay our rent, put gas in our car, pay our upcoming car payment, or buy our groceries (that were getting very low). I felt like a knife was thrust into my gut the morning I took an Eviction Notice off of our front door. It was going to take they 7+ days for the bank to get the money back in our account. We now knew we were dealing with professional thefts and identity thieves. I quickly put the appropriate protection on my identity also.
We had our window fixed the very next morning after my purse was stolen, this was before all of this other stuff happened. I don't know if we would have done that if we would of know what was about to happen in the next 24 hours- but really- doesn't matter!
Because we were now so far behind on every bill, and have had to beg for extensions on almost every bill- because they were now getting back piled against us- we had to reach out for help on every level. We had to borrow from family, and our church- which they were all so willing to jump in and extend themselves. Not to mention, we didn't have medical insurance yet (3 more weeks)- and I needed insulin ($150. a bottle). I got creative, I had a bottle of long acting insulin (which is only used in combination with short acting- which I did not have). So, I went on a very strict diet of no carbs at all for about 4 days, so I could survive on only that type of insulin until we could scrape together the money to buy some short acting insulin- and I did it! Not the ideal situation- but I did it- against every doctors advice. Insulin is one thing I literally cannot live without, and it made me very angry to have to buy insulin for myself over buying food to put in my house.
Our most humbling moment, (which I don't think we've shared with anyone) we had to work to accept as "humbling" instead of "embarrassing and humiliating". As we stared into our empty pantry and coordinating still empty bank account- we had to go to a food bank to get us over the hump. That's not the easiest place to be- and it definitely required us to suck in our pride and think of the bigger picture, our kids and our necessities.
This is also when I decided to go back to work, which meant I had no choice but to pay the money to go get my license- something I had to have to work. In the long run this was going to push us over the top- but it also meant we were going to have to shell out the $40. to replace my license.
Believe me, it was more than one time that I, and Lupe (who rarely gets really angry) wanted to find these people and straight up hurt them! Forget praying for them, I didn't even want to consider forgiving them. I was beyond mad- it was that they had stolen from me- they had stolen from my children, from their well being! They had put us in position that we, and no one else, should ever have to be in. Even now, it makes me emotional thinking about it.
It took us months to recover from that ONE, horrible, terrible, awful, bad, disastrous, unfortunate choice. I still regret it. Although, I have finally forgiven the people who did this- I still struggle with forgiving myself. I, ultimately, caused this. Not that it takes them off the hook, but if I wouldn't have made that choice, out of convenience, it never would of happened. But, me living in guilt isn't helping anyone or anything- especially not me!
Regardless, here we are, almost 5 months later. We are well- our rent is caught up and paid, our electricity is on, our pantry is well stocked, there are a few bills we are still getting current on- but we are getting there and we are all okay! Our medical insurance is up and going- and we are grateful! I don't think I need to go over all the lessons we learned- I think most are obvious. God is so faithful, and he carried us through one of our most difficult times and gave us peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Horrible, Terrible, Awful, BAD, Disasterous, Unfortuanate CHOICE!

I have made many choices that I am not proud of and have regrets of them. One of the things I learned at the Ministry out in Texas, is to see every situation- good or bad- as an opportunity to learn. I try really hard to implement that in my daily choices and circumstances. Some of my bad choices were huge and presented very tough life lessons, some have had minor repercussions but I still walked away learning something- even if it was small.
I have the perfect example from today! I had my hand "smacked" by the director of Tenly's school- Gianna fell asleep on the way to pick Tenly up- so I CHOSE to park near the door (not in a parking space) so I could run in quickly to get Tenly and not disturb Gia. Well, as I came out of the door- I see the director standing by my car- I instantly new I was in trouble! As she began to reprimand me, I attempted to explain (not excuse) my reasons for parking there- well, that just brought another reprimand as she informed me not only to not park there, but that I should not leave my sleeping daughter in the car regardless of how close and quick I was. I stood there sheepishly, saying "Yes, ma'am- you are right, it will never happen again!". As I got in the car, I continued to say, "Well, you could have said it nicely- I'm not a 2 year old...etc...etc..."! No matter how much her "delivery" of the reprimand irritated me- she was right! I kind of feel like I need to go buy her a card with chocolates and beg her to send me to parenting classes for being such a terrible mother- of course, none of that will happen. Anyway, bad choice and I did learn....not to make that woman mad...and a little more!
Anyway, the horrible choice I mentioned in my title was one we still feel the repercussions of. One of my oldest friends, Debra's, little girl was turning "1" and Gianna and I went to her Birthday Party in Miami after church one Sunday in March (Tenly had been disciplined that day and stayed home with Dad). Although, I am not familiar with Miami, I felt confident with my trusty GPS- that thing is like my BFF! The party was being held at a beautiful huge park on the water in a great area. As we arrived, I decided to park on the road right across from the park only feet away from us. I didn't want to carry everything in the park, so took only my phone, keys, camera, and the gift with us- which means I stuck my purse under the seat. I could sit here and reiterate how I tucked it all the way under the seat- it couldn't even be seen, and we were in a very populated area, it was in a 'good' area...but none of that matters considering our car window was busted out and my purse was stolen. The really sad part is, I kind of saw it happen- I saw a car parked beside my car (in the middle of the road) with the passenger door open, then a guy ran from in front of my car and jumped in the other car and it down a fast u-turn as it peeled out of there. It obviously caught my attention to the point I grabbed my keys and pressed the lock button to be sure it was locked- and it was- but I never thought I just watched a guy jump in the car with my purse! I was informed by the cops that the guys had probably been sitting there watching me from the time I arrived- that, honestly, totally freaks me out!
As Gianna and I said our good-byes and gathered our things together, we started towards the car- I instantly noticed that my dark tinted window wasn't there. Although I tried to consider that maybe I rolled the window down (which I never do), all I kept playing over in my head was that white car peeling away from mine- I knew exactly what happened.
Debra, Chloe, and Anthony- 1st Birthday!

I ran back, crashing the party with my bad news- I couldn't stop shaking. Debra's wonderful husband, Anthony, took control, called the cops, and checked on the car. I called Lupe (guess the cops should of been first), and he instantly got on the phone cancelling cards. We tried to get all the glass cleaned out of the car, Anthony put plastic up over the window and by 8pm (3 hours later) we finally left Miami (which we don't visit much anymore, lol). After I finally arrived home, fell into Lupe's arms and felt instantly relieved.
The next morning we felt drained but okay knowing we did everything we were suppose to do- called the credit card companies, and called the bank, alerted the drivers license office. That is, until Lupe tried to use his debit card and it was declined- he called the bank and was informed that someone tried to cash a huge check against our checking account- and they froze the account and flagged it again to be sure nothing could happen. They asked Lupe if I had a check or account # anywhere in my wallet- and THEN I remembered- my account # was written down on a Wachovia Card in my wallet- these people had it and were using it. It was then that I remembered that my SS# was also on an insurance card in my wallet- and we were warned that these people were acting like professionals and probably knew exactly what that number was.
I guess you could say, we were beginning to get nervous, concerned, and worried- and our prayer life increased over night. I wish I could say that was the worse of it....but it was only beginning! I'll finish the story on my next post- or else this is going to be WAY to long for one post!
What did I learn? NOT to leave my purse in my car- anywhere, anytime! Little did I know, that I was also about to learn get another lesson in trusting God , I was about to be VERY humbled, I was just beginning to get angry, and about to learn I had to let it go.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Just Want To Fix It

Lupe was hired on full time at Garden Plaza around the end of January. Some of this brought much relief and also brought some unease. Lupe was heading into a very new position, with very different (and some similar) responsibilities and expectations. He was working less hours, but managing a lot more people, and instead of feeding 1000's of youth and children- he was feeding 100's of Seniors. Anyone who has worked with Seniors knows that they can be very rewarding people to work with, and they can also be the most difficult and trying people to work with. Seniors have a tendency to complain, are bitter, lonely, bored,cheap, and critical (to name a few). Some of them are not that way, but for some reason it's hard to let the 75% of non complainers outweigh the 25% of complainers (and why is that?). Now, Lupe is a very positive person- one of the qualities I admire about him- He likes to uplift people, make each person smile, and make a difference in every persons life he comes in contact with.
As Lupe began this new job at this Senior Living Community- these wonderful qualities in my husband began to be "challenged". It was difficult to walk into that dining room every meal shift and be called to table after table hearing complaint after complaint (again, it's hard to hear the many positives over the fewer but louder negatives). I'm not talking about things like, "the meat was a little tough tonight"- I am talking about degrading, "can't you do anything right?" and "I wouldn't feed any food from here to even my dogs", etc. That's not to mention the typical demands of learning a new job and  managing over 30 employees.
It was so difficult to watch Lupe come home every day, his face was drawn and he just looked tired- not physically tired (although he was) but emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually tired. He had even lost, at times, his admirable ability to let things slide of his back and to look at things positively. I wanted desperately to save him, fix it, and make it better- and at times made me want to go beat some of those old people in the head with their canes and walkers. How could people be so insensitive, so degrading, so self centered, and just act so ugly- and some of them ALL of the time! There were some very difficult things that Lupe dealt with out at the ministry- but this type of negativity was rare.
One night, I asked Lupe- Has it been worth it? Do you regret leaving Texas? Did we make a mistake? Is our "New Life" a big flop? He looked into my eyes, and the look in his eyes immediately reassured me that it was all worth it, then he assured me he would of done it all again.
The next morning, I started pulling out a bunch of scriptures to pray over Lupe in the morning and throughout the day. Lupe started really tackling things at his job differently, not to say things weren't difficult- but there was a difference. Lupe was seeking wisdom, not just in his job- but in everything concerning us and the challenges and opportunities we were facing.
I have always admired and respected my husband, but I was given a new respect and admiration for him. I remember reading in 1 Kings where Solomon asked God for wisdom instead of riches and fame. I believe in a positive confession and God blessing us- but I believe God blesses us out of our obedience and heart after him- not because we are entitled or demand it. As things started (and continue) to fall into place, I thought back to Lupe always having a heart after God, and not always choosing the easy/obvious thing- but choosing the "right" thing- that is what God honors.
Lupe has now been in this full time position about 6 months, and the favor and respect he has received from his coworkers and employees is nothing short of amazing. Lupe has, and continues to, earn the right to lead his employees and to speak into their lives. When they call in sick, I smile with pride as I listen to him pray with them before he hangs up and then calls back before days end to check on them. He never asks one of his employees to do anything he hasn't done or wouldn't do. Even just yesterday, he spent 3 hours of his day off to go help one of his chefs move- not because he had to but because he wanted to. Lupe (and I) did not leave the ministry when we left Texas, we've just entered another aspect of it.
This part of our walk, has helped me realize- once again- that I can't do it! I can't! When I try to fix it, I fail miserably and become frustrated and angry- because I wasn't created to fix it. Once I sat back and realized that I wasn't capable- and looked to God and allowed Him to take control- things started to fall into place. So, I learned here, to STOP trying.......................................

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We Didn't Plan For This!

Girls Walking on Lauderdale Beach
 Ft. Lauderdale, here we come! The day after Christmas, we packed up most of the stuff we had brought to my parents- and left Clearwater heading South to the Ft. Lauderdale area. We had high expectations.
We arrived at Garden Plaza, the place Lupe was working- and they had a lovely apartment on the 4th floor all set up and waiting for us. It was very spacious, with a full kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 2 balconies, and TONS of storage space that I wish I still had. Not to mention the computer room, pool, hot tub, workout room, and the dining rooms. It was beautiful, and Tenly and Gianna quickly made friends with all of the Senior Residents. They might as well have been celebrities the way they were recognized and loved on by every one of them.
In our Temporary Apartment
As pleasant as it was, we were really beginning to crave our own space, especially Lupe. It was difficult for him to be at the same place he worked at 24/7- he began finding every reason for us to run to the store, go to the park/library- anywhere but there!
We found our apartment and began all the steps needed to move in, I'm sure I do not need to emphasize how expensive it is- deposit, processing fee, electric on, water on, cable/Internet on- then we had that one more thing- getting all of our stuff here from Texas.
Taking Cookies to the Seniors
Someone had mentioned to us that it was pretty inexpensive to have a  moving company move the stuff for us since it was in storage. So, we began looking into that- at first it seemed PERFECT! Until....we realized we had been dealing with a "broker"- which, we learned, is not a good thing! Two days before our stuff was suppose to leave Texas our wonderful broker (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?), God Bless Them, sold our contract to another company- who suddenly doubled our price- that was NOT going to work for us! Our resources were beyond limited, and extra money is one thing we just didn't have- every penny  had a name. This is all happening while I'm in Clearwater, at my parents, getting the rest of our stuff (and in the ER with Tenly whose head was very swollen, and had a fever and sore throat). We chose to begin looking for another company, we found another company, who gave us a good price- it was still higher than the original price- but it was good. BUT, it was going to be a couple of weeks until we could get it all here and we were already moving in- so, we adapted- we had brought the girls beds, all of our clothes/shoes with us, and Lupe and I slept on a air mattress (UGH!). Lupe went to a couple yard sales and bought some plastic lawn chairs and tables so we could have something, besides the floor, to sit on.

See the yard chair in the corner, lol?

Our friends, Richard and Catherine, helps us coordinate this whole thing- we couldn't have done it without them and will be forever grateful! It took a couple of days longer to get everything because of all of the crazy ice and snow in Houston during that time- but finally the truck got there. Then we received the next phone call from Richard- apparently I had given the wrong measurements of our storage unit- and our price was about to be more than doubled again! We were getting close to desperate, so we just agreed to their price (which apparently was pretty good) and began scraping pennies together to make sure we would have the money when our things arrived.
We were ELATED when our stuff finally arrived, I fell in love with my bed all over again! I even managed to get this apartment completely unpacked and completely set up in less than a week- and it felt so good!!
That was a very trying few weeks for us. I remember driving back with my dad from Clearwater, in the middle of my crying because we were going a few more weeks without our stuff- my phone rang. It was my new friend, Mire, she's my little spunky dancing friend from Australia- in just  a few months she has also become a dear encouraging friend. We had only known each other a few weeks ten and she followed her prompting to call me. I cried and cried, and she loved me and reassured me of God's Faithfulness. Perfect Timing!
Gia's Bday- day after our things arrived!
We again, watched God's Faithfulness demonstrated, how much stuff we really don't need to get by, we also learned a lot about the moving business and never to use a broker, and much much more! As we are staring at another financial hurdle right now- we know, that we know, that we know- God IS Faithful and has NEVER forsaken us.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Unquestionably Perfectly Choreographed

Trusting God has never come easy to me- just being honest. I think it became most difficult after I was diagnosed with Diabetes. But, anyway- this whole new uncertainty surrounding us was bringing my prayer life and trust life to whole new level. I had to trust God, who else could I put my hope and trust into? I couldn't make all that needed to happen, Lupe couldn't, my parents couldn't, my children couldn't- God proved to be the only one to hold onto- and believe me, I was holding on for dear life!
After Lupe left for Ft. Lauderdale, I kept myself busy so I wouldn't think to much. I was praying for a second interview and for God's favor and direction.
I believe it was around 2ish in the afternoon by the time Lupe called after his interview, it had gone much longer than he anticipated. The job was for a Dining Director of a large Independent and Assisted Living Facility for Seniors. When Ventura called, it prompted their District Manager to do something because they were not pleased with the way the dining department was going and thought Ventura's phone call was a perfect opportunity to make some changes. The interview went well, actually it went VERY well! They pretty much hired Lupe within about 30 minutes. He was being hired at that point as a consultant to help steer the department in the right direction and implement some past due changes. If changes could not be made, they wanted to Lupe to consider to take the position permanently. They were starting him off with almost the same pay we left Texas with (except we had more expenses now, but STILL!) and asked him to start the following Monday (we had just arrived Wednesday!) and he pretty much made his own 40 hour week schedule. They ALSO said he (and the girls and I) could live in one of the facilities apartments until we found our house/apartment, and we could also have full use of the dining services, and amenities. When and if he was hired on permanently, we would have full benefits. I was almost speechless (which is a miracle in itself) as I listened to everything Lupe was telling me. So, we then talked about is this it, THE door? It was hard to imagine it wasn't, we had friends with pretty major degrees who had been looking for jobs for months- and Lupe had been "unemployed" less than a week. It was hard to imagine this could not be God opening a door for us. Although it was farther from my parents than we wanted to be, we were only 45 minutes from my brother and his family. Needless to say, Lupe (obviously) took the position.
Christmas Morning
We now had to decide when the girls and I would come over. We had just arrived at my parents, and the girls (and I) were so excited to be with my parents for awhile. To pack everything up already didn't seem right to any of us. We decided, the girls and I would stay with my parents until after Christmas since that's where we (siblings) all were planning to celebrate anyway. That would give us some time there before another big jump. That meant, Lupe would be away from the girls and I for about 3 weeks- Lupe and I had only ever been apart for about 2 days. This was necessary- but was NOT going to be easy. We truly like and enjoy being together- just us! We don't need to be surrounded by people all the time (some times, YES, just not all the time)- we genuinely love to be with each other- just the 4 us. We knew we could do this though.
Let me tell you- distance does make the heart grow fonder! I gained a much higher respect for single moms- although I did have help from my parents- it was all on me!! Not to mention how much the girls missed Lupe, they are both Daddy's Girls through and through.
When Lupe arrived Christmas Eve, I was like a little kid! I was beyond excited, my heart jumped! We had a wonderful Christmas and were excited- and still a bit scared- about our big new life that was just beginning.
What did I learn? I learned first and foremost about the Faithfulness of God! I was, and still am, amazed at how He so effortlessly, unquestionably choreographed everything. I learned I am resilient and can do even more than even I knew. I also had a realization about Uncertainty- the good thing about uncertainty is that there are options out there and options to be discovered- and options is not a dead end road. Strangely enough, that realization brought me comfort. Those few weeks made me realize how much I love and need my husband- and how comforting it is to have him close. Then, my parents, I realized how much I love and had missed them- we saw them on good occasion in Texas, but it was so great to have them just a few hours away.
This was a great way to start our new season, especially with all the 'opportunities' that lay around the corner. We could always look back and say, "This is stuff, but we have already seen God's timely Faithfulness first hand".

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Excitement and Uncertainty

December 12! THE day!
Lupe's last "working" day would be December 10th.
Seemed like we spent days of weighing out our options- especially when we had limited resources, no job/home yet, and Christmas right around the corner.
Lupe had been sending out resumes and applications at every opportunity, but had not heard back on anything yet.
My parents had eagerly invited us to stay with them indefinitely without any hesitation- this brought huge relief!
We had been primarily looking at moving to the Lakeland, FL area- this is where I was living while Lupe and I dated and we both loved the area- and it was in a central location to a lot of family and friends. But, no doors had really opened as of yet- so we just continued to look and pray...look and pray...!
With limited resources and Christmas so close, we decided it would be a good idea to store our things in Texas and return to get them instead of shelling out so much money up front to get all of our things in storage in Florida (a decision we would late regret). We rented a trailer to bring the stuff we needed immediately with us to my parents and stored the rest of our things in Houston.
A few days before we left Texas, Lupe felt prompted to call a friend of ours, Ventura, from the church and inquire if he knew of any jobs available in his field (Independent and Assisted Living Facilities for Seniors). Ventura asked Lupe to send him his resume and give him a couple days to make some calls. He did call Lupe back and put him in touch with a friend in the field who had a facility in the Ft. Lauderdale area. By the end of the day, Lupe had an immediate interview lined up on Thursday Morning- the day after we arrived in Florida. (Funny part is, Lupe had fallen in love with Ft. Lauderdale when we were vacationing there that August- and was always "joking" about how often we could visit there.)
We would have the weekend to pull last minute stuff together, we were to be at church, Sunday December 12, so the Pastors and Leadership could pray over us and send us out from under that covering with their love and blessing. After church that afternoon, the girls and I were headed to the airport to pick up my dad and Lupe was headed to pick up the truck and trailer to begin packing our things.
Well, December 12 came and went. After our last service, we felt good. We felt the release we needed and wanted, not so much by the Pastors and Leadership- although that was great, but by God! We felt more than ever that we were following His leading and making the right decision for us and our family! The love, hugs, and encouragement that we were given by so many helped to give us even more peace. It was an emotional day- but very sweet.
After FINALLY getting back to the house, I became quite overwhelmed! I felt like I had done such a good job packing up- but there were still so many loose ends and last minute stuff that I really didn't expect. I wish I had pictures of all of the people that showed up and stayed with us late into the night and came back so early the next morning to help and just show us their love- it was so overwhelming. I remember for instance, Hania showed up that night and played with the girls while I ran around crazy- then came the next morning with our favorite breakfast and stayed until we pulled out of the driveway (all these memories are bringing me to tears even now). My friend, Catherine, took the day off of work at the last minute and helped until we had the truck unloaded in Houston- not because she had to, but because she wanted to.
My dad, the girls, and I followed Lupe, driving the truck, down that long road- I remember wishing Lupe was with me as we passed the entrance to the ministry grounds. I cried out of excitement, memories, leaving where our family began, fear, and anticipation.
It took us a couple of days to get to Florida. When we finally arrived- and we drove past the ocean on every side (which I had missed immensely)- we knew we were home (I joke with Lupe, that I believe he's really a Floridian at heart). We unpacked the trailer and car, and actually unpacked and had everything put away in our little bedroom at my parents before we went to bed. It was very hard to say goodbye to Lupe early the next morning as he left for his job interview- it was a 3 hour drive so he would come back the next morning. We had no idea what to expect , all we knew how to do was trust God.............................

Friday, July 1, 2011

Unrealistic High Expectations

I just had a wonderful, much needed visit with a great friend. Kim and I met back in January of this year at a Bible Study from our church, we clicked instantly- it's honestly hard to believe we've only been friends for 6 months. We are very similar people, but are still different enough to challenge, strengthen, and "sharpen" each other. This afternoon, we sat pool side chatting while our girls (Kim also has 2 girls) swam- it turned out that we both desperately needed this time today.
We both have some things going on that brought us to a discussion on High Expectations. As we talked , I knew what I wanted to write about today. We were not discussing the expectations others put on us- but the unreasonable HIGH expectations we put on ourselves. From being a parent, a Christian, a wife/husband, an employee/boss, or even friend- we tend to put unreasonable expectations on ourselves- or at least I do (and Kim does).
I mean, yes- many people tend to put unreasonable expectations on us also- but so often we measure ourselves against some crazy picture that WE have painted. It could be an article we read, a conference attended, a book, others peoples perspective or way of doing something- It all gets lumped together in this picture of perfection that we never will achieve. Honestly, the only person who says that it's the "perfect" picture is ourselves. 
My perfect picture would be this: My size 3/4 self, would wake up on time everyday to a house that is constantly maintained/organized/clean- but yet still fun. Before making my happy/content/well rested family a perfect homemade, from scratch, breakfast- I did my 45 minute devotional and 45 prayer time, showered, completely ready and beautified with straight hair. I drop my happy children off at school, arrive to work with an encouraging word for everyone all day- even when I am treated badly. When my husband calls stressed- I am ready with an answer, scripture, and encouraging word that will launch him through the rest of the day and the same will happen for my children when they challenge me- and I would never lose my patience. Pick up my children with lots of love and arrive home and pop my perfect- from scratch- dinner in the oven as a greet my husband at the door with a smile and kiss. Accomplish my whole "to do" list plus some- playing with my children to their contentment- putting them to bed after their bath with a smile. Ending my day with a devotional and prayer time.
Mind you- I've never had a day like that and I've never seen that perfect picture except in my head (or on Leave It To Beaver). So, WHY would I even think I would ever be able to accomplish this? Because I've seen or heard other people talk about the wonderful parts of their lives- and I try to think up what their magic formula may be.
I believe in order to be "spiritually sound/mature" I MUST spend a minimum of 1 1/2 hours in God's presence every day- and how dare I not do that! I have to remind myself that God doesn't want just a small chunk out of my day- He wants relationship- and that comes from moments- big, small, long, short, happy, or sad, morning, night, or afternoon, 5 minutes or 5 hours. I tend to put this "all or nothing" expectation on myself which only creates stress, and frustration.
I do the same thing with my home and schedules some times- do it right or not at all- that always ends eventually with me having an emotional, explosive breakdown- it all comes from unrealistic high expectations that only I put on myself. I'm also coming to realize that these things trickle down to those around me- and they feel the effects of how I treat myself and expect to much from me. I'm coming to realize that for my family, they don't want any of that stuff I just mentioned, the most precious thing I can give them is my time and attention- those things aren't always so easy, but for the most part- it's effortless.
God, My Family, and My Friends do not walk around with a measuring stick- I do- and I need to put it down and focus on the things that really matter. I've gotten better about much of it, and worse about others. But, while talking with Kim today- and helping her recognize her crazy measuring stick, I found some  places where my "crazy stick" is still going into overtime. I love that I'm recognizing it- which gives me the power to tackle it head on. So, here I go trying to be reasonable...and determined to succeed at it..........