Seriously, enough with the change already

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This year is supposed to be about looking what we have and improving on it. The foundation is set, we have what we have, and now I build.

But I am already wrong.

The “life building plans” just changed.

Last Friday my husband was told he has been put on an out of town job for as long as they need an extra man or until construction is complete. It is a large project and they’ve already been working on it for 2 months. This means he is gone every Monday-Thursday.

Every.Single.Week.Until.Who.Knows.When.

Then Tuesday he was told there would be at least one weekend involved. And it could be this coming weekend. As with all construction projects, it just depends on the stage of the project, when they can get in, and what other contractors are doing. We just don’t know.

So Wednesday morning I sat down with the girls on my bed and we had a chat of sorts.

I explained the situation. I told them it isn’t anybody’s fault, but it just is the way it is. That doesn’t mean it is better, it just is.

Through tears, they started asking questions.

  • When exactly is he going?
  • What weekends does he have to work?
  • How long is the project?
  • Does he have to go every week?

All I could say was I don’t know, dad doesn’t know, the company doesn’t know, because when dealing with construction anything can go wrong. Timetables can be tossed out within a moment’s notice and sometimes it has nothing to do with your work.

As I held them, I was reminded of the families who do this often. Of long haul truck drivers, traveling business men, and those in the military who leave for months with a tangible possibility of never returning.

And I felt slightly guilty living in my selfishness. My husband gets to come home every weekend for 3 days. My husband gets to make nightly phone calls. My husband isn’t putting his life on the line.

I made myself stop.

I know some families do this often, but this isn’t what we wanted for our family. He intentionally looked for work that would give us more family time, not less. It doesn’t seem fair.

I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, the job will end, he will be back home, but it doesn’t make this any easier. I’m tired of the change, tired of the unknown, tired of being flexible for anything that may be thrown away.

I want consistency. I want to know what is coming up.

But for now, I don’t get that.

Some days he’ll be here, some days he won’t. Some weeks he’ll be out of town, some weeks he won’t. And because he is the extra man and everything is dependent on how the project is going, we may not find out he is leaving until the day before he goes.

As Miss Crafty said, “This just sucks.”

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I try to stay optimistic and find the positives in any situation.

So to help me prepare for his absence, I’ve been looking. I had to dig deep and search hard this time but I came up with a short list:

  1. He will get 3 day weekends. So we get one extra day a week with him home unless it is one of those rare work weekends.
  2. He is doing so well at school that his teacher has given him a pass from attending class while he’s out of town. As long as his assignments are in on time and he’s doing well, he doesn’t have to do any additional make up work.
  3. We’ll use less diesel in the truck. I’ll take him to work Monday morning and pick him up Thursday nights. This is in essence only 2 days of commutes instead of 5 plus school.  It will save us $40-$50 per week.
  4. There’s gotta be something I can build in this situation. I don’t have it yet, but I’m holding on to the idea that a part of me is going to be stronger when I’m looking back from the other side.

That’s all I can come up with but at least it is something. So today, through my frustrations, I’m trying to hold onto those 4 things because in reality I want to curl up in bed and just pretend this isn’t happening.

It’s not fair.

I want to plan my life, or at least next week.

I want my husband home with me.

The girls need their dad.

This.Just.Sucks.

~Crystal

Side note: I will get over this, and I do understand how fortunate we are. But in the spirit of Living in Green Grass I’m choosing to share this side of me too–the side that shows nobody’s life is perfect or rosy. Sometimes things happen and it is what you chose to in that moment that helps determine whether you are content or not.

My Job Doesn’t Matter

mom job

geralt / Pixabay

 

When The Husband changed jobs, we had to make some huge cuts in our budget. We still came up a little short.

We have some money left over from our tax return but that is running out very quickly. We decided that we need some temporary assistance.

 

Last week I applied for food stamps for our family.

It was a very difficult thing to do. I know we need them but I’m not looking forward to the social judgement that comes along with the card.

I know there are those out there that are going to judge me for being a stay at home mom and putting my family on food stamps. I disagree and I never quite understood where the anger and hatred came from.

 

It didn’t take long until I found the root of the judgement.

My job raising my family and taking care of my children doesn’t count as work according to the Department of Health and Welfare.

My job being a learning coach to the girls during the school year as they attend a virtual charter school at home doesn’t count.

Instead, I was told I have to go to a work training program for five hours a week, apply, and try to find a ‘real job’.

I have 3 legal options at this point:

  1. Find childcare for the girls and attend the program, pretending I am interested in finding a job including putting in regular applications. I could play their game.
  2. Get pregnant. If my children were 6 and under I would qualify and my job as a stay at home parent would count.
  3. Apply, don’t work or attend training programs, get sanctioned within the program, and then be disqualified.

 

It stings and hurts in ways that are hard to explain.

I know why the rules are there. People abuse the system but more often than not, people are trying to follow the rules.

I asked them to leave me off the case and simply provide benefits for The Husband and my children. They can’t do that.

I have to be counted because I am the mother and a member of this household. I have to be punished for not following the program in order to get assistance for my children.

So I have the option to attend two different orientations for the work program. When I don’t appear for those, I will be reported to the government as being non-compliant. That non-compliance will result in me getting sanctioned. I will have a record with Health and Welfare that will follow me until I find a ‘real job’.

 

My family of 4 will be considered a family of 3.

I don’t matter.

My job isn’t good enough.

 

To those that say I should get a paying job and try to produce income for our family, it isn’t that simple.

We looked at our options and considered this. We would need to purchase and finance a second car. There would be lots of other expenses included with me working. If I could find a full time job paying at least $10 per hour, we might net an extra 250-300 per month.

To us, it isn’t worth the trade so instead I choose to sacrifice a little more. I will give up any extra and every penny I have to raise my children as best as I can.

 

geralt / Pixabay

 

I struggle with this. I’m not one to get into the mommy wars but there is something wrong here. My job raising my children is not considered as valuable in society. It would count if I went to work and put my children in regular school and daycare.

If my children were 6 or under, I would matter. Something magical happens at the age of 6. Suddenly full time motherhood becomes less important.

Because I don’t produce income or work at least 30 hours per week for pay, I’m not good enough in the government’s eyes.

 

Today is a One Word Wednesday.

Every year I pick one word based on My One Word by Mike Ashcroft. I highly recommend the book.

This year my word is Whatever.

I can let this get me down, and it did for a few days.

But I look around at my family and I know I’m of value.

I see the smiles on my children’s faces when we make cookies together in the morning.

I know the school year is starting soon and I’ll be around to see each of their light bulb moments.

I know I’m planting seeds and helping my daughters grow into women of God.

 

In no way am I saying working mothers don’t do all this. Being a stay at home mom is something I feel called to do, it is where I feel I belong.

So to the government I say whatever. We will figure out a way to make this work. I will find a way to feed my family.

You do not assign my value.

My value is found through my husband, my children, and my God.

 

~Crystal

 

Being thankful for the very simple things today: feet-7861

  • I’m thankful that even though things are tight, I am still able to stay at home with my children like I feel led to.
  • The Husband fully supports me in this choice and decision and is willing to sacrifice too.
  • For my window AC unit. It was over 90 yesterday. It was nice to come into a cool house after our weekly walk to the library.

Whatever is Honorable

Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions I pick one word to focus on for the year. I highly recommend the book, My One Word by Mike Ashcraft. It describes this idea and walks you through the process of picking your word. You don’t have to wait until January–you can start any time! This year my word is “whatever” and I have chosen Wednesdays to share my whatever journey.

 

I’m living Philippians 4:8-9 for the next few months. I am picking one quality to really focus on each week.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (ESV)

 

honorable

geralt / Pixabay

Last week I wrote about whatever is true. This week I’ve been thinking about whatever is honorable.

Honorable is worthy of honor and high respect. It is also characterized by principals of honor. So honest, fair, worthy of respect, and with integrity.

This is a hard one for me and has created an internal struggle. The battle is deep in my soul. I want to walk in honor, be fair and full of integrity. I know I struggle at times but I feel like most of the time I do okay.

The battle is because of the wounds put there by others. What happens when someone does something to you view is not honorable?

It stings, it sticks, it scars. You are alone.

When it affects the rest of my family it hurts more. When it is not something done to me, but to those I love it cuts deeper. I can’t protect them and I see the hurt and pain on their eyes.

So instead I tend to obsess. I think of the pain and the wrong doing. I focus on that and it distracts me from where I should be.

It is an easy cycle to get into…

wound

obsess

fight back

wound

obsess

fight back

loss

bitterness

anger

resentment

 

When Paul wrote Philippians he was a prisoner. It could have been easy for Paul to fall in a place of bitterness and instead he took time to encourage the church in Philippi.

I can imagine he was wounded in his soul. He probably had a case to lash out, but he didn’t. Instead he reminded the church of Philippi to focus on whatever is honorable.

Stop obsessing

Leave it behind

Move on

 

This has been a hard week for me. The Husband left his job of 11 1/2 years a little over a month ago. There are always reasons for leaving a job, and most involve some sort of disagreement or deferring opinions.

I’m trying to walk the road of honor and integrity. His former place of employment continues to do wonderful ministry. I do not want to hamper that.

But there is the wounded side of me too. That job blessed us in countless ways, from his flexible hours to the ministry aspect. Up until a few months ago, we dreamed of him working there until he retired. We are dealing with the loss of dreams and our future.

I try to stay positive. God has something different in store for my family. He will use us in other ways but this has been a struggle for me this week.

The immediate financial stress is starting to hit. His pay is lower and we are tight these next few years until he finishes his apprenticeship. We have enough to make it through, but it is only by the grace of the government and our tax return. If that and some other creative cost cutting measures don’t work I have to find a job. The impact of me working would change everything, from how we live to where the girls go to school.

I keep it in and try to stay out of the cycle that leads to pain. From the outside, it isn’t that bad. Our change is just that, change. In the long run I have visions and goals. We’ll be in a different place than I ever though we’d be but we’ll be okay. It will be better in some respects, worse in others. Just different.

The beauty of it is that God directed this change. We are praying and walking in Him. So whatever the outcome, we know that it is His will.

Move on

Leave it behind

Focus on whatever is Honorable….

I still pray for The Husband’s old job and the ministry it does. They do amazing things and I hope they continue to do so. It was just time for us to move on.

I don’t think that is a bad thing. There doesn’t have to be a right and wrong side. This Spring I read, “To Live is Christ” by Beth Moore. In it she discusses the split between Paul in Barnabas. She pointed out something I never thought about before.

Acts 15:39-40 says:

And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. (ESV)

 

Often we think of disagreements among Christians as bad. One must be wrong and not following God’s will. Here there is a prime example of quite the opposite.

Beth Moore says it so eloquently:

We might assume either Paul or Barnabas was not under the leadership of the Holy Spirit; because the Spirit could not possess two opinions. Or could He? I believe both men could have been under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit and yet still have differed. How? The Holy Spirit might have been saying yes to Barnabas and no to Paul. 

To Live is Christ, by Beth Moore. Found in Chapter 16

 

I am not comparing our change of jobs to Paul and Barnabas’s split in ministry. This was not that kind of situation. This has however given me comfort. It has given me a Biblical example where disagreements happen to the point of parting ways, and both sides can be of God.

In some ways, honorable is putting that part of our life behind. It is walking with intention and sharing the good times and there were so many good times. It is encouraging those who can be helped to check out the ministry.

Honorable is focusing on what God has in store for my family. It is realizing His new direction and thinking on that. It is planning for the future and being ready to go where God desires us.

 

The next time you have a disagreement with someone and you have come to an impasse remember to walk in honor and grace. It may be that both sides are right. If there comes a time when you need to go separate ways, stay focused on what is honorable instead of living in pain, obsession, bitterness, and grief.

 

~Crystal

Construction Season is Upon Us

Up in the North there is construction season and panic-something-broke-and-it-can’t-wait-to-be-fixed season. The second season is quite expensive as you’re paying for extra labor to dig through frozen ground and other unknowns. The ground has thawed, it is heating up outside and that means one thing.

Time for Construction Season!

If you drive more than a mile odds are you’ll see this bright orange sign:

Nemo / Pixabay

 

 

 

The joys of summer. Delayed traffic, torn up roads, extra dirt on your car, orange cones, detours….delayed traffic.

It isn’t easy to thank these people for fixing our pot holes and making our streets a little smoother–even if it is for just a few months. You can’t stop your car and walk up to them. That is impractical in so many ways and could interfere with their job.

Here are 3 things I have come up with to thank your construction workers:

 

Slow down

Yes, the law tells us to slow down. Construction zones are slower and come with a higher fine than a normal stretch of roads. How is this thanking them? Simply by respecting them enough to keep them safe. Imagine standing in the middle of the road for 8 hours having cars drive within feet of you at 40-50-60-70 mph. These people are braver than me. They may not remember you if you go the posted construction zone speed, but they will sure remember you if you don’t–and not in a good way.

 

Smile and Wave at Your Flagger

A simple smile and thank you wave makes a difference. They are used to people getting irritated because they’re holding the stop sign and making you late. Remember, they are keeping you safe and dealing with the heat. Thank them the next time you pass them.

 

Bring them COLD water:

I really want to do this some day. I haven’t quite figured out how to do it without holding up traffic or causing other issues on the job site. Ice melts by the end of the day and that flagger is standing still in 100+ degree heat. It isn’t the coolest job around. Meanwhile you’re sitting in your air conditioned car, listening to the radio and getting annoyed at the wait.

One of my ideas is to keep a bottle of water in the car and if I’m ever first in line roll down the window and hand it to my flagger. Another one is to grab a case of water and drive to a smaller site and hand it out.

Several years ago the city replaced all the water and sewer lines on our street. That meant we couldn’t even access our driveway some days. The Husband took them water one day as they were working on some smaller projects.

That simple thank-you brightened their day and spread a little comfort in an otherwise very hot situation.

 

As you’re going about your day, remember they are trying to do their job. Remember to smile and spread a little happiness.

~Crystal

Surprise! God was planning.

As humans, we plan and think we’ve got it all figured out. Sometimes our plans don’t work out, so we plan some more. We learn and we grow.

But at the end of the day, our plans don’t mean much if they aren’t in line with God’s planning.

Normally I only do one post a day, but I’m going against the norm today. We have had a week of surprises and I’m bursting to share them…

surprised!

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

God has been planning some amazing things for our life and His plans revealed themselves this week:

Surprise #1: The Husband got a job yesterday

Exactly one week ago was The Husband’s last day of work at his job of more than 11 1/2 years. At that time, he had a few applications out and one good job lead. That was it, no interviews in process, no true job prospects.

The Husband and I live on a lot of faith. We know that God will always take care of us. Sometimes it is scary stepping out there not knowing what is to come, but step we do, and often it results in surprises and blessings beyond our wildest dreams.

Surprise #2: It isn’t the job he applied for

Friday he had his first interview at a plumbing company. He is not a plumber, he applied and was interviewing for a different position within the company. Monday he got a call back saying they wanted to talk to him again, but were no longer hiring for that position. Instead they were now hiring a plumber’s apprentice and asked if The Husband would be interested.

He said yes.

Surprise #3: The Husband is going back to school

Tuesday he went in for his second interview. It was obvious they were highly interested in hiring The Husband. After his interview he came home. We were waiting for the phone to ring again. I figured we may not hear from them for a day while the owners discussed some details. Yesterday afternoon, he got a call and a job offer which he quickly accepted.

In our state, you have to be an apprentice for 4 years before becoming a licensed plumber. It is a long program, but designed to make sure you know the trade before going out and claiming to be a professional.

In addition, you attend 4 years of trade school. It is about 6 hours a week of classes plus homework. So for the next 4 years The Husband is going to be working 40 hours a week and attending school some evenings. Big changes for our family!

Surprise #4: The company is paying for it!

As part of this company’s apprenticeship program, they pay for it. It is all covered. Not only are they training The Husband, they are paying for his school. I’m blown away by this huge blessing.

Surprise #5: The Husband started today!

Yep, you read that right. Exactly 1 week after his last day of work, he began working again. In all he had 6 days off, counting the weekend. In this economy, that does not happen.

Surprise #6: A new career for The Husband

We never fathomed The Husband being a plumber. In fact, we had talked about it and dismissed it. The process is long, and there are some challenges along the way. An apprentice doesn’t make nearly as much as he was. We are taking a significant pay cut for the next few years and things are going to be tight.

His time at home will be less. Even after school his shift is different. He will be working a “normal job” instead of a 6-2. That means he won’t be around in the afternoons nearly as much. He will be on call at times still, but it will be on a rotation. He won’t be on call 24/7/365.

Not only was he out of work for a minimal amount of time, but he has been given so much.

A job, a debt free education, a career, a way to be the provider.

 

My One Word this year is “whatever” and this is a prime example of living whatever. If you had told me Monday morning that The Husband would be back to work by Wednesday as a plumber’s apprentice, I would laughed in your face.

God has been working and making plans for our life for a very long time. All this stress and planning, seeing each one fail and crumble one by one, leaving me shattered on the ground, broken and lost seems so trivial now. When will I learn to stop getting upset over the no’s and instead take each one as a step closer to God’s plan?

I feel beyond blessed today. I have many friends with husbands currently looking for work. Some of them have taken part time lower paying jobs just to have something, others haven’t found anything at all. They have struggled for months. To you I say, God has a plan and He is working on it right now, and when he’s ready to spring the surprise, it’ll be amazing!

I know the next few years are not going to be easy. Having to work and go to school is no easy feat for anyone, especially parents. I am going to have to pick up the slack and be there for the girls when they miss their dad. I’m going to have to figure out how to do some things around the house that he’s always taken care of so he can focus on work and school. I need to find more creative ways to save money and lessen the financial impact on our family.

I’m blown away by God’s blessings and what he has surprised our family with. I have found myself speechless several times today.

For that, all I can say is thank you for taking care of us God.

~Crystal

 

(as a footnote: I normally only post once a day but wanted to share this now instead of in a few days. I left the baggage post up because it is still appropriate. I need to deal with my suitcases and keep my baggage open. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to check it out here.)

 

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