Friday, May 27, 2011

Standing on the Edge

Random Trivia:  I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and have seen it many times.  Each time I see it I feel like I understand a little more the depth of what Tolkien was communicating within each character.

As I stand on the precipice of starting my new job I picture in my mind a scene from the second movie, "The Two Towers" right before the battle at Helm's Deep.  Everyone is standing in position ready for battle and just waiting for the attacking army to come over the hill.  It is actually one of my favorite scenes, you can just feel the tension as they sit and wait to get the battle started.  My actual favorite part of that scene is when it starts to rain and the king looks up without changing expressions and then continues looking out toward the impending army.  No change in expression.  And then he says something like, "so it begins."

I am feeling a little like that right now.  Like I am just standing there staring out at nothing waiting for something to begin.  Waiting for my new job and new life to begin.  Of course the analogy breaks down a little in that I don't think my new job and life are like facing a battle sure to annihilate my kingdom and I don't see any rain coming down (at least not the figurative kind.)  Still there is a level of tension that sits on you while you wait for a major change to come down in your life.  And each day it gets closer the tension grows.

The questions build in your mind.  Will I like the job?  What will the people be like I work with?  Will they like me?  What will they think of me?  What will I think of them?  How will it feel to be out of my house so much?  How will Isabelle do?  Who will make dinner?  What will John do?  Can I still check facebook and my email from work?  Keep in touch with my life?  Will I be able to squeeze in some fun lunch dates with Isabelle when she is with Julia or my mom or will that end up being more disruptive than fun?  And after so many years of defining myself in my home how long will it take me to feel at home in my new roll?

And then there are the "what if" questions:  What if I hate it?  What if they don't like me?  What if Isabelle can't handle the transition?  What if she does better without me?!  What if Jake rebels without my constant supervision?  What if he does better without me?!  What if I loose myself?  What if it is just all a big mistake?

Then again:  What if it is great?  What if we all find the transition easy?  What if I do a wonderful job and enjoy it?  What if my family does great because I have worked to prepare them to be in the world?  What if the kids and John pick up the slack at home while I am gone?

So I stand on the edge waiting to jump into the unknown world of working.

Just thought I would share.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who Is Candace?

I must admit that I love Phineas and Ferb.  I don't know why.  Some kid shows are just fun.  One of my favorite lines from the show is from Candace.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show she is the older sister who is constantly trying to bust her brothers.  In this particular episode the boys actually decide to do nothing that day and so there is nothing to bust.

I love that line!  Who is Candace?  I say it all the time over here.  And somehow it seemed fitting to share at this juncture in my life.  And considering I was having an identity crisis working 2 days a week, after next week don't be surprised to see me walking the streets muttering, "Who is Melanie?"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Soothing Fears

On Mother's day after telling my family the plan for John to go back to school in the fall I casually say something to my brother like "hey are there any full time secretary openings at your work?"  It turns out they need a new receptionist so I sent him my resume the next day, Monday, had a phone interview on Tuesday, went in on Thursday, had a second interview on Tuesday and was offered a full time job last Thursday.  Less than 2 weeks after sending my brother my resume I am employed full time!  Talk about moving too fast.  Am I ready for this?  Is my family?  We just decided to send John to school full time 3 weeks ago!

At first I was excited.  I put a little check mark in the "get a full time job" box on the "things to do before John starts school in the fall" list.  I thought about what new clothes I will need and spent some time working up a preliminary plan for Isabelle this summer.  Then as John and I were talking that night it all hit me.  I am going back to work FULL TIME!  I started crying.

I am not afraid to leave my home.  I am not worried about how the laundry will get done or dinner will get made.  I will miss my spontaneous morning coffee times with girlfriends but I will adjust.  I cried for my daughter.  I will not be there for every need she has, to take her places and experience new things.  I will not be the one and only primary care giver in her life.  I will not be the only big influence in her life.  And when we are together we will both be tired.  I will miss that awesome time right after school when Jake was so willing to tell me everything he knew.  Will Isabelle tell me everything she knows before dinner instead or will she be too busy with something else?  Or will I?  Who will influence her?

I was also praying last week about John's future job situation.  Once it became clear I was going to get my work figured out I wanted his work figured out too.  My goal here is not to become the primary provider of our family.  If I am working he should be working.  Right!?  Yet as I was praying about it God really changed my heart.  He showed me how John's more flexible work schedule will allow Isabelle to still be with the family this summer.  To be there for her where I can't be.  John will still have to work and she will still need to be in some summer camps and other activities but she will not be tossed out into the world to fend for herself, she still have us as her home base and will not be alone.

So the big question is, can I trust my husband to take on my role?  I mean, yes I can, but will I?  Will I trust him and embrace this new arrangement in our family or will I fight against it and be frustrated?

One of my girlfriends sent me another quote by John D. Rockefeller, "If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success."  That is what we are doing.  We are striking out on a new path.  It is new in every area of our life.  Not just in John's work but in mine as well.  New for Isabelle, new for Jake.

Let's face it, at the core of my anxiety about going back to work and leaving Isabelle is FEAR.  I mean if I am honest I am afraid even when I am at home with Isabelle that I will fail her in some way.  That she will turn from God, that she will make poor choices.  But at least I am at home, in charge and under the delusion that I have some level of influence and control over her at this point. Then I remember God already gave me a scripture for fear in Don's cancer. Isaiah 43:1 "But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."

So I remind myself what I always try to remind myself when I am fearful while raising my children; God loves them more than I do.  And if God is leading us to strike out on a new path, which it seems very clear to us he is, then I have nothing to worry about.  He will provide for my children exactly what they need.  He will provide me with that special after school connection somewhere else.  He will grow and mature Isabelle, call her to Himself and soothe her fears as He is soothing mine.  None of us will be alone.
I am not sure that answers the question of whether or not I trust my husband to take over care of my family but I do trust God and so does John so I guess it will be OK.
I start next week!  I hope I can find a few minutes each week to keep up with my blog as well.  My priorities are family and then blog.  Sometimes I admit I reverse those.  Is that wrong?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Waiting in Hope

Yesterday I read a devotional by Philip Yancey in "Our Daily Bread" about Patience that I just had to share.  One part in particular stood out to me, "God, who is timeless, requires of us a mature faith that may involve delays that seem like trials.  Patience is one sign of that maturity, a quality that can develop only through the passing of time."   Good stuff.  We can only learn to be patient by being patient.

I am realizing we are definitely in a waiting season of life.  Right now we are waiting to see what happens with John's dad's cancer.  We are waiting to begin the transition of John becoming a full time student and me a full time employee.  Then we will be waiting for John to finish school.  We are waiting for our children to grow up.  And I suppose for the past several years we have been waiting for God to tell us how to get out of this financial instability.  This list could go on and on.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I do hope." Ps 130:5  This has me thinking about the word "hope".  I blogged about the word a couple years ago and the lessons I learned about what it meant for me going through infertility but I never put it together with my waiting.  As we are waiting we can believe that God is working for us, preparing us, has a plan for us.

So as we begin to transition into our new stage of life that can only be described as temporary, a place of waiting, I will have hope knowing that God has led us here and will lead us through.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My TV Sitcom Life

If my life was an old TV sitcom I think it would be "I Love Lucy".
I would be Lucy spend my days coming up with one hair-brained idea after another plunging forward despite questionable qualifications and warnings from other well meaning friends and relatives.
John might be Ricky some days coming home and shaking his head as he finds me frozen in the doorway with the electric screwdriver in one hand and a 2x4 in the other hoping he doesn't notice.  Other days John is more like Ethel getting dragged into a mess, standing there shoving chocolates into his mouth as fast as he can and wondering how he got there.  "I thought you said you knew how to get to Downtown Dayton's."  "I do, it is right next to the IDS, just drive toward it."  I have other Ethels in my life, "Hey Julia let's recover the chair in my basement. We don't need a pattern, we'll just eyeball it.  How hard can it be?"  And I am sure in future years Isabelle will be my willing little Ethel.  But John will always be my favorite.
Jake on the other hand Jake seems to be Fred.  He walks in at the end as we are standing in the mess oblivious of what is happening.  Other times he walks in a room, rolls his eyes and walks back out.  Occasionally he gets caught up in the wake of our insanity and enjoys every minute of it.

It is never a dull moment around here.  So stay tuned for many more exciting episodes.


What show is your life like?

Monday, May 9, 2011


It's never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise.~Nancy Thayer~
As is often quoted the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  I think in our home we have reached the end of our insanity.  For the past several years we have pretty much been sitting around doing the same thing and waiting for things to look up.  Waiting for the economy to improve, for clients to call.  Waiting for stability in our career and financial life.  On the one hand we have done many new things in an effort to achieve our goals but on the other hand we have been trying to do it within the same structure.

Life is always at some turning point.~Irwin Edman

For the past couple months we have been discussing how we can once again rearrange the pieces of our life in hopes of creating the stability we are in search of.  Many ideas, all with merit, have been bantered around.  All would affect the structure of our life as it sits today but it was unclear if any of them would really bring us what we really needed.

Readjusting is a painful process, but most of us need it at one time or another.~Arthur Christopher Benson~

Finally after much discussion and prayer it has become clear that no matter what path John's career takes it will require some education.  Early in our marriage John was in trade-school full time and I worked full time.  We lived in a little 1 bedroom apartment, shared 1 car, had no children, little expenses and no expectations for our lives.  We went from being broke and having nothing to being more broke and still having nothing, yet with a possible future.  Today we have a mortgage, 2 kids, 5 vehicles, many expenses and lots of expectations for our lives.  Yet in some ways we are in the same place, preparing to sacrifice for the possibility of a future we can no longer see on our current path.

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown

So with lots of unknowns and details still to be worked out we are looking forward to some very big changes at our house.  Because John opted for the diploma track rather than the associate degree track while in trade school (a decision we have only regretted about a million times in the past 17 years) he is basically starting from square one.  We briefly talked about him pursuing some additional training that would augment his trade schooling giving him more options within his current field but we feel strongly that it is time for us to leave the building industry all together.  And while he could possibly get some training to transfer his existing knowledge into another industry we are feeling a calling to something altogether different.

Change always comes bearing gifts. ~Price Pritchett

About 14 years ago on something of a whim John applied for a paid-on-call position with our local fire department.  The only little boy in the world who did not dream of being a fire fighter when he grew up fell in love with firefighting.  But what we learned is that in today's world fire fighters spend more time on medical calls than they do actually fighting a blaze.  So he was certified first responder initially and then went on to become an EMT.  With this training he has had opportunities to work as the medical person for various sporting events and actually gets excited when someone gets hurt.  He loves helping people and has loved the medical training he has gotten.  And why shouldn't he?  His sister is an RN and his parents are both EMT equivalents and taught at the local community college many of the emergency responders around the twin cities.  It is in his blood.

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~Confucius
So as of this moment the plan is for him to pursue a medical degree.  As we get to know the industry and get a feel for what John is most passionate about the specifics are sure to come into view but for now the intention is for him to become a Physician's Assistant.
We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance. ~Harrison Ford

At 40 years old this seems like a daunting task.  We did decide we were too old for him to become a doctor but feel like we can commit 6 years of our lives getting into position to work for another 20+ years.  As we talked about how hard it is going to be, full time school with likely both of us full time working, I looked back on our life this past year.  He was out plowing all night long only to head to whatever job he had that week with only a couple hours of sleep.  Isn't that hard?  And that schedule isn't getting us anywhere.  This can't be harder than that and it will be getting us somewhere.

Our only security is our ability to change. ~John Lilly

Anyone who knows us knows that we have lots of good ideas.  We get excited about them, talk a lot about them, do a little research on them and then move on to the next good idea.  We are a wealth of good ideas that never were. "Let's open a green hardware store!"  "We should raise Chickens in our backyard!"  But we also follow through on some of our ideas.  We did go to Africa, we did start a construction business and a plow business, we did adopt a child, we did buy rental property, we did send John to school the first time.  Those all started out as crazy, life changing ideas too.  So while I don't have all the details worked out quite yet on how this life changing idea will play out I am excited to see how God continues to lead us.

There's nothing permanent with us except God & His Love & the Family!--Nothing has to be permanent except the Lord!--Only He changes not. (Mal.3:6.)

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."  Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

It is Mother's day today so it seems like the thing to do would be to write about my mother.

I do have a wonderful mother who I recently spent a great deal of time with in Florida and on the road.  Our relationship has been complicated over the years.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  But age, wisdom and maturity, along with a stubborn tenacity to make it work has brought us to a place where we have become comfortable friends.  She still drives me crazy sometimes and I am sure she would say the same of me but overall we enjoy each others company.  She was a wonderful mother growing up and has given me many gifts which I use in my own parenting.

But I am going to write about my mother-in-law today.  Because, I have a son and he has a girlfriend and over the last several months I have come to appreciate how hard it is going to be to be a mother-in-law.

A mother-in-law puts all her love and passion into raising a son, getting to know who he is, nurturing his strengths and helping him strengthen his weakness, guiding him through life, building his faith, being his counselor.  He gives his trust and desires her approval.  She loves him and desires to see him be loved by a woman who will continue the work she has begun.  A woman who will see her son for who he is not who she wants him to be and will strengthen him not tear him down.  Someone who will continue to help him become the man God intended. 

I have come to realize how hard it is going to be to trust that any woman will ever fill my shoes.  Which I suppose is why sometimes a mother-in-law can get a little crazy. At least this mom feels a little crazy as she watches her son date.

Yet while there have been a few minor irritations over the years, as in any family relationship, my mother-in-law has overall been wonderfully supportive of our relationship, of me stepping in and taking over her role in her son's life. I am realizing as I watch my son grow how hard it must have been to give her precious and vulnerable son to a young 19 year old girl and trust that she would give to him as much love, nurture and support as she knew he would give to her.  And I am appreciating the gift my mother-in-law has given to me in a wonderful loving husband and in being a second mother who extended her love to me and was an example and a counselor to me. I was still growing up when she welcomed me into the family.

So today I am thankful for both my mother and my mother-in-law who have loved me and nurtured me and made me into the woman I am today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Identity Crisis

Once upon a time I worked full time.  Then I had a baby.  I know that for a lot of women, at least according to all the books on being a stay at home mom I read, it is hard to transition from being a working woman to being a stay at home mom.  You go from feeling like you have a purpose and identity to feeling like your life doesn't have purpose and you don't have an identity.  At least that is what I read about.  I actually did not experience that.  I felt relieved to be able to stop telling people I was an "account clerk" at a large bank and I was under paid and under appreciated and not at all using my brain to its full potential. 

I was proud to announce to people that I was at home with my child.  I don't even try to dress it up.  In fact the more fancy your job the more mundane I tend to make my job.  I personally really like the good old fashioned "homemaker".  It is funny how many people respond to me as if I have apologized for what I do by telling me what an important and difficult job I have.  As if I didn't know it. 

I love my job.  I am not embarrassed by it.  When I tell a CEO that I am a homemaker I feel like I am announcing that we have the same job.  We both have challenging jobs with lots of responsibility and are not always appreciated by the people we are trying to help.  But I don't feel compelled to refer to myself as the "CEO of the Home."  I feel good about being at home and I feel like the fancy job titles women give themselves when they are at home is just an attempt to justify something I don't feel I need to justify.  I feel important at home and it doesn't matter to me if you agree or not.

Maybe if I had been a doctor or lawyer or teacher or some other notable profession I might have struggled more with giving it up but I wasn't and I wasn't sorry to loose my work identity and gain a more noble title.

Now I am back working.  It is part-time but none the less work.  And when people ask me "what do you do?" I find myself having an identity crisis.  What do I do?  Who am I?  I want to continue to be a homemaker, and yes I realize I still am, but part of me isn't anymore and to deny that would be a lie to myself as much as anyone else. 

If I thought my going back to work was temporary maybe I would feel different.  But I feel like my going back to work is long term.  How long I don't know but I do see myself working for many years into the future.  And big picture I am OK with that, I like the thought even.  But short term, I am having an identity crisis.

I guess it will be a process, just as everything else is, to transform my own thinking and be able to redefine in my own head who I am and what I do and be comfortable.  I always said that it was the working women who weren't happy working that were the ones that scoffed the most at my being home, the ones that were comfortable with their own decisions tended to be just as comfortable with mine.  So the sooner I get comfortable with my own place in my life the sooner others will be comfortable and then we can all move on with our lives because really what I do doesn't matter nearly as much as who I am.  And that I am comfortable with.