Multifaceted Me

Monday, June 23, 2014

All Things New Part 1

It's been far too long since I posted because there has been so much going on.  So much that I don't know where to I'll start with a promise.

At the end of 2012, my husband and I were beyond thrilled at the thought of owning our first home.  We figured out what we could afford and we went for it!  The amazement of walking in and out of vacant homes imagining where our furnishings would go, where our children might play, mapping out our commutes to work, it was exhilarating!

We picked out home that had everything we desired, a fireplace, a beautiful spacious kitchen, upstairs laundry (we'd had our share of running loads of laundry up to the kids' rooms) and a downstairs master bedroom.  They began the paperwork and we soon found our favorite home would not become our home.

I was devastated.  I tried to come up with reasons why I didn't really want the house.  It was in a hilly neighborhood and driving in the snow would be impossible.  It snows two maybe three days out of the year here.  It would require a move closer to the valley and I adored Bellingham.  It would require our daughter go to high school with kids that she hadn't been with in elementary and middle.  But no matter what I tried to tell myself, I was crushed.  I wanted that house.

Perhaps I had grown a bit in spiritual maturity because I wasn't angry with God, I was simply sad.  It hurt to know that for whatever reason my Father didn't see fit for me, for us, to have such an incredible, perfect-for-our-family residence.

This may be the point where you realize that inspirational writers don't share these types of stories without some alacazam miracle ensuing.  Was there no happy ending, where would be the inspiration after all?  I wish I had an open-the-floodgates of heaven miracle to share at this point in this story but I don't.

My husband and I picked up our broken pieces, our poor credit and what determination we had left to really learn about personal finance and credit.  We watched Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University sessions in horror.  We'd been duped!  Not only had we been duped, we had been left out in the open, plump, juicy and oblivious that we were even game.

You see we wanted what everyone else wants.  We wanted the American Dream.  We wanted love, life and the pursuit of happiness.  And we sometimes viewed God's yays and nays as approval and disapproval of us as His children.

My heart is to share with you the truth.  We had to work and work hard.  We had to say no when we wanted to say yes.  We had to pay things we didn't think we rightfully owed.  We had to figure it out.  There was no secret.  We had to retrain and get better jobs.  We had to regularly go over where we were in relation to our goals.  We had to believe God's timing.

There were times we threw our hands up and stopped caring.  And guess what?  It was only more dirt to shovel out from under.  One thing kept the ambers glowing in the almost smothered fire under us, was that society, the world, the enemy, had an expectation for us to fail.  For us to accept the scraps and be content.  But John 10:10 says that Christ came to give us life and life abundantly.

You see the Word tells us to choose this day life or death, good or evil and tells us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).  Choosing life doesn't mean choosing easy.  Choosing life can mean rolling up your sleeves and getting elbow deep in the work of doing the Word.  And the reward, as promised, is not from men who see our works in public, but from God who hears the meditations of our hearts.

There is a happy ending here.  But the happy ending isn't reduced to we finally purchased a home or that home in particular.  The happiest part of the ending is that God never left us.  Had we obtained a home in those circumstances we might have lost it already.  Had we not been forced to do the work of choosing life abundantly, we wouldn't have the knowledge to pass on to our three children.  This strengthened our marriage and our family.

In the moment of devastation, a song came on by Israel Houghton feat. James Fortune called "It's Not Over."  I had to pull my car into a parking space downtown and sob to those lyrics.  It was okay to release the pain and frustration to God but it wasn't okay to stop there.  There was a promise for me, and for you and that promise is Revelation 21:5 ~ Behold I make all things new.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn't a spiritual welfare system.  It is not a reward system for whoever goes to church the most.  What if, long ago, so long we couldn't truly fathom it, God set things in motion and that is the way things still are today.  We know with Christ came the Grace Administration but remember He did not come to overthrow the law but to fulfill it.

This is only part one of my personal All Things New experience.  There's so much more and if you're still reading God bless you!  God is always good.  His timing is perfect.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.  (Romans 11:29)

I encourage you that if you know in your knower that God IS who He says He is and that you ARE His child to meditate on the fact that He sent His only son for life and life abundantly.  What does that mean to you?  Surely it's more than a house or a job.  What is it?  Are you living it?  What stands in the way of you today and you living your abundant life?

While I will share about some material things from time to time, I hope you can hear the freedom in my heart, the peace and grace I'm so grateful for through the tangible examples I give.  God loves me and you right now today.  He's taking us from glory to glory if only we'll allow Him.

Purposefully Passionate,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Harm Than Good?

I've been meaning to update my last blog post for a while but time has not permitted.  Now that I have a minute, I'll get you up to speed.

No less than an hour after I submitted my last post, my daughter came into the room and bursted into tears.  She sobbed and sobbed and when I asked her why, she finally told me she felt like a loser.  She was out shopping with friends and according to her they were buying whatever they wanted-not an option for her.  Partly my fault because I only gave her the cash I had which was less than $50.  Anyway, she had been saving her own money for an iTunes card and ended up spending what I gave her as well as what she had to "fit in."  As she cried in my arms my heart broke.

We talked about money and priorities, friends and peer pressure and feeling out of place.  In conclusion, I told her to take that frustration out on the court-which she did.

She loves volleyball and is getting better at it everyday.  Part of me wanted to end all the pain and discomfort by pulling her out.  What good would it do her to feel like a "loser"?  For those who don't have teenagers, you can probably remember being one-they're dealing with enough.  Who needs that?  No sooner than I could debate it in my head, she got out on that court and had a wonderful tournament.

I'm still left with the question, is it worth it?  Part of me says of course!  It's an investment in her future!  It's an outlet for an older sibling!  Then part of me asks at what point is it more harm than good?

For the time being, we have decided to keep her in club volleyball.  She is learning important life lessons and growing as a player.  Next year we may sit club out.  She'll be in high school and playing high school volleyball.  Hopefully that level of competition will be challenging enough while she gets a handle on getting good grades which is more important anyway.  I may be returning to school myself to get my RN degree and if so will have clinicals every other weekend making the travel to tournaments impossible.  But for 10th grade, she will more than likely return to club.  I think the good outweighs the bad.

It's good to be exposed to things that are different than what we're used to.  When we're not, we become closed-minded.  We don't stretch ourselves or look for possibilities outside of our box.  I want my daughter to know that whatever she desires in life, work and love is possible.  And I don't want her dreams to be limited to this little town we currently reside in.  Club takes her out of this little town and she gets to interact with people from all over.  That to me is more important than the pain of not fitting in.  At least for now it is.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Because It's Not About Me

I am passionate about my family.  My husband and children bring me more joy than anything else I've experienced or attained.  My daughter plays volleyball.  She's pretty good.  She has a lot of potential and in an effort to expose her to more hardcore volleyball, we allowed her to play club this year.

If you're not familiar with club sports, they are basically private/elite teams that are supposed to be composed of the best and most competitive players.  Truth is, they are composed of the wealthiest players.  The kids whose parents can afford the best coaches, the travel and other many expenses that come with being on one of these teams.

We are far from wealthy.  We decided to make a sacrifice for our daughter for several reasons:  She loves the sport; there is a 7-year gap between her and her next sibling so we did it for social interaction with her peers, to afford her better college opportunities and for leverage with her grades.  She has to keep a certain GPA to play.

I am reading a book called Successful Women Think Differently by Valorie Burton.  She mentions that people are happiest around other people who make the same or less than they do.  Perhaps that is why this club volleyball thing is so miserable for me.

Right now, I'm in a hotel that I would only book for a very special occasion like an anniversary or something.  The people are too much for me.  I'm hiding in my room with my sons while my daughter is off with her friends.  Not only do I feel completely out of place but we can't afford all the shopping, dining and extracurriculars that come with these trips.  But it's not about me or how I feel.  It's about my kid.

She is all smiles.  She is with her friends and playing her sport and her mother and brothers are here cheering her on.  My parents kept us in sports and band.  They insisted we all (five of us kids) played a sport and played an instrument.  My childhood was perfect.  I have nothing but happy memories.  I never stopped to think about what my parents were going through.  They too were the only black parents.  They're from DC and Atlanta so I know for a fact they were out of place in Coupeville.  They only had each other just like Nick and me.  We cleave to the unspoken innate understanding.  What our kids know as normal is rather uncomfortable for us at times, but we're trying to give them a better life right?  Isn't every parent?  Wanting more for their kids than they had for themselves?

In all of this unease, I hope my daughter is making happy memories.  I know the boys are.  I have gotten so many compliments on their behavior.  I can remember people complimenting my mother on our behavior and I remember thinking. "We have no choice!  She beats us!"  I'm sure they're thinking the same.  But they're having fun, playing with their action figures, swimming in pool and cheering their sister on for long stretches in the gym.

Bishop Jakes once said that Passion + Pain = Purpose.  That's what this is all about - happy, well-rounded kids.  So I'm going to put on my happy face and leave this room.  I will smile and be pleasant, cheer and politely turn down invitations to do more than we can afford.  I won't let my daughter see my that outside of watching her grow as a middle hitter, I'm not enjoying this.  I will make the small talk, go through the motions and hug her and tell her how proud of her I am which is 100% truth as is the fact that I can't wait to get home to my husband.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Working Mama!

I'm a week late checking in but the first two weeks of work have been AMAZING!!  First of all, I love my job.  Great group of people, exactly the work I wanted to be doing and my chosen speciality.  That makes the days fast and fun.  I got my first paycheck since August 2010 when I was laid off and I wanted to burst into tears.  Things have been tight for so long and school was so much work but it is finally paying off.

Now for the family.  I must say, I have the greatest husband in the world.  He didn't come out of a box that way (we're 9 years into our relationship) but neither did I.  We have completely shaped each other and he has been perfect.  His off days are during the week and he drops the kids off, picks them up and all the other things I would be doing if I were home.  He has made it so much easier for me knowing the children have him.

Second, we have the greatest babysitter in the world.  She picks the boys up and feeds them, makes them play outside, takes them other places if we ask her to and most of all loves them.  They love her too.  She communicates with the teachers and relays things to us.  She is just a huge blessing to us.

All my fears have been relieved.  Okay, maybe not all of them.  I want to go on in school but before I can I have to take statistics.  I was really hoping there would be an evening class that I could do after work but out of three college campuses I could go to, not a single one offers the course at night.  So online it is.  That makes me nervous because it's math and math is not historically my best subject.  But with an hour-long lunch everyday and a husband who is great at math, I'm hoping I can get it done.

When it comes to the mister and the children, I'm learning that quality time can mean just as much as quantity of time.  I may not be here for every bump, bruise or game, but when I am here-I'm present.  They have my undivided attention.  It could be the guilt of being away rearing it's ugly head but I'd like to think it's because I no longer take my time with them for granted.  Not that I ever was but I always knew we'd have time later and could procrastinate.

In conclusion, I'm a very goal-driven person.  I want to achieve this and when I get there, next that and so on and so forth.  As my pastor preached this morning, "tomorrow isn't promised and yesterday is gone so today is the best you got."  I'm pretty good and learning from yesterday and striving for tomorrow but I'm going to try to pay more attention to today.  Right now, right here.  Being present wherever I am with whoever I'm with.  I think it will make me a better wife, mother and nurse.  Goals are good to have but shouldn't prevent us from enjoying what we have already attained.

Have a wonderful week and Happy Valentine's Day.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going Back to Work

I have so many mixed feelings on this subject!  While I am beyond thrilled to be starting at my dream job in less than a week, I a m petrified as to what that may mean for my family.  Even when I worked before, I worked from home-completely different dynamic that working outside the home.  Now for the first time since I had my now 6-year-old Matthew, I'll be going to work full-time.

First off, for those who aren't painfully aware, being a stay at home mom is exhausting work.  Right now, I am drafting next month's budget, preparing to do the mopping before the children get home from school and planning the afternoon/evening activities including sports practices, a trip to the library and dinner.  This time next week, I will be in scrubs in a cardiology office working away.   So who will be doing the rest?

People often say to me, "It must be great having and older child.  I'm sure she can help a lot."  The key word in that sentence to me is CHILD.  My oldest is a very pleasant and capable 13-year-old.  She does most of what she's asked with a smile and a "yes ma'am."  Me going to work doesn't mean she must cut her childhood short.   I have no idea how everything will get done but I'll keep you posted.

So then back to the dilemma.  I know what my problem is-my mother.  I'm not about to go on a rant about  something my mother didn't say or do leaving me lost in the world to find myself.  Actually it was quite the opposite.  My mother was so incredible, so available, so ahead-before we could ask for anything she had it ready.  It's taken me years of being a mom myself to realize that she wasn't setting the bar too high, she was just being herself.  Myself is different.

Closed mouths don't get fed in my house.  If you're hungry you better make some noise because I'm always doing a million things and half the time don't feed myself let alone anyone else.  I'm not a neat freak like my mom was when we were little.  I have nowhere near a place for everything and everything's in a place but who knows what that place will be.  I say my problem is my mother because she is my example for what a mother is.  She was university educated but stayed home because she felt that was where she needed to be until we were out of school.

When I'd hear my peers talk about their childhoods and speak of daycare and having a key to their own homes, I'd feel this twinge of pity.  It's taken some time but I'm beginning to see that they are my peers. Today, we're in the same place.  Our early years may have been totally different but today we have much in common.  Will it make that much difference in the way my kids turn out if I work?

This question was posed in a debate in a psychology class I took a couple years ago.  One thing that stuck out to me was the statement, "What's good for mom is good for the kids."  It's not the 80s anymore.  One income doesn't cut it a lot of the time.  My husband up until very recently was working three jobs and seven days a week.  My stress was off the charts.  Just the thought of having income again removes so much of that stress.  I have wanted to be a nurse since I was in middle school.  My favorite speciality is cardiology and by the grace of God, I've got a cardiology clinic nursing job.  I know this is good for me.  I hope it will also prove good for my family.

I'll be back after my first week to let you know how it went!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Pinterest, YouTube, facebook and Real Life

I look at pretty things.  I watch tutorials.  I love hair and am embarking on the journey of locs for myself.  I pin pictures of all things Devyn.  But in real life, I'm plain.  Why is my internet self so colorful, brilliant and artististic while I am so....normal?

I get up in the morning, fumble until I find my glasses which I never put in the same place, make coffee or tea and proceed to cook breakfast in a robe that resembles a Snuggie with a house dress underneath and slippers.  I wonder what the virtual me would be doing?  Soaking in a tub three stories in the air watching the sunrise....holding her breath underwater and popping up with a huge gasp for air and laughing out loud at herself....  her life and my life are nothing alike.

Nor are they mutually exclusive.  It's me that chooses what's pinworthy.  It's me that takes such intricate hair tutorials and does the rushed version on myself.  It's really me who admires my own home, while not as creative as what I fantasize about online-it's still art.

For instance there is a pile of pistachio shells next to me right now.  Why?  Because I have a bowl of pistachios on the table and when I shell them I'm not thinking.  They become this growing pile of evidence that as type A as I can be-I'm also carefree.  There's a boy on my couch watching Cats & Dogs and even though it's a school morning and quite early, I don't mind.  I enjoy Kitty Galore singing, "I'm coming up!  So you better get this party started!"  This is my life.  It's not perfectly tucked and polished.  But it's still beautiful.

In fact, it's a beauty that cannot be replicated.  It can't be copied and slightly altered to tailor another's style or personality.  There can only be one me.  I'm not a picture or a song or a video.   I could never be summed up in a word or catchy phrase.  So why then when I browse the internet do I find myself feeling these twinges of jealousy-my hair will never look like that...I could never afford to decorate that way...-feelings of 'if only....'

More often than I'd like, I close my laptop with an idea that as much as I try to run with, she gets in the way.  The real me.  The one with children who interrupt her train of thought.  And instead of having the discipline to stay on task, she welcomes their questions, needs, curiosities and even interrupts herself to parent, take phone calls and other silly things like use the bathroom.  No one online is going to the bathroom.

This morning and this year I want to celebrate my real life.  All the things that make me, me.  The present contributions to the parts of who I am.  Sure, I have wants, goals and dreams-but if we stay focused on the future, the what ifs and if onlys-we may miss  or worse despise the present.  This morning I'm deciding that I don't want to be her.  I like her.  I admire things about her.  I enjoy browsing her albums, statuses, pictures and videos-but she is missing something so precious and intangible that it can't be captured in any of the aforementioned-breath.  You can't take a picture of it.  You can't describe it.  You can't teach someone how to do-it-yourself.  We all have it.  In different rhythms and depths and tastes depending on what we're doing.  Doing.  Living.  Breathing.

Celebrate your reality.