Thursday, March 19, 2015

Big Changes In Our Family

Sometimes life goes about following the same pattern year after year until one day someone stops and asks, "Is this it?  Is this what my life is going to be like for the rest of my life?"

I asked that question a year ago.  I asked that question a month ago.  "Is this it, God?  Am I going to homeschool my kids through high school, remain a stay at home mom, living in the same old house doing the same old things day after day after day after day??  God, there seriously has to be more to my life than this."

I wrestled.  Oh boy have I wrestled over the past year.  Two years.  Possibly three.  God told me to jump, and I jumped.  I expected grand things to happen immediately.  Nothing changed.  My life went on in the exact same fashion.  I started to feel itchy and angry and cheated.  "I TOLD You I would do anything, God!  Your job is to make something exciting happen!  And nothing has changed.  I'm still in the exact same spot doing the exact same things.  God, I want more."

Every time a song came on the Christian radio station that had lyrics like, You were made for so much more than this, or You were made to fly or anything that had to do with living an extraordinary life, I got mad and shut the song off.  Because clearly God did NOT create me to do anything more than to be a stay at home, homeschooling mom.  Fine.  I can be ordinary and boring.  I don't have to change the world or doing great things.  But I am done listening and believing those stupid songs because they are a lie.  Just dumb Christian propaganda that makes people feel like they are missing out on the great, Christian life.

Two months ago Hubby and I started seriously praying about sending David to school.  And possibly sending the girls.  We became official members of our church earlier this month which made tuition prices slightly more affordable.  I didn't tell Hubby this, but I prayed and prayed and then finally threw up my hands and said, "God, if you want us to send the kids to school, then the money will be there by March 8."  I picked that day because it was the day the school opened enrollment to new students.  On March 5, we decided we would just send David because we could comfortably afford to send him.  The girls we would wait on because their tuition would stretch us financially beyond what I was comfortable with.

March 8 someone asked me if we would send the girls to school if we had help to pay for their tuition.  I said yes.  They said they would help us.  On March 8.  My arbitrary deadline.

March 9, Hubby and I were laying in bed before going to sleep and I said, "I wonder why God wants the kids to goto school.  Obviously He worked it out so there must be a reason."

In early February Hubby told me that when he was praying for me during his prayer time, he felt God tell him to support me in what would make me happy.  I just laughed at Hubby and said, "I sure wish I knew what would make me happy."

March 6 God woke me up in the middle of the night and told me that the thing that would make me happy is to become a nurse.  I prayed about it, I thought a lot about it, I looked up nursing programs online.  And then a week later I asked Hubby to pray about it.  That I wasn't sure if it really was from the Lord or just my desire.  Hubby seemed to think I would do better at writing.  So I agreed to pray about that.  I told Hubby that I felt like I was at a crossroads: writing or nursing.  And I could only pick one.

Two days ago I set nursing aside and decided writing was the way to go because nursing will be hard and expensive and take time.  Yesterday I was reading a book, All The Places To Go: How Will You Know? (God has placed before you an open door.  What will you do?) by John Ortberg.  I didn't even make it through the first chapter.  I had to shut the book and take action.

"It took me years to realize God may have good reasons to leave choices up to us rather than sending us emails telling us what to do.  I had to struggle with the decision.  I think maybe that's part of why God works through open doors.  They help us struggle with our real dreams and motives.  I got no divine direction or supernatural indicators as far as I can tell.  But I chose [the riskier option] because the adventure of yes seemed more alive than the safety of no."

I knew immediately that I needed to pursue nursing.  If I didn't, the "what if's" would hound me for the rest of my life.  I needed to pull up my big girl panties and kick fear to the curb.

I set the book down and grabbed my laptop.  I looked up the nursing program I was most interested in and submitted an application to enroll in the school.  I requested my old college transcript be sent to the new school.  And it felt right.

This afternoon Hubby texted me and said: "I think you should follow the nursing path.  At least far enough to get a clear understanding of what the costs are, in time, in money and in peace of mind.  I heard from the Lord that you need to at least explore it and I need to support you in that.  To help you settle something that's weighing on your soul.  And if the more you learn the more you desire to do it, you should go for it."

I kind of laughed and thought it was a good thing Hubby agreed with me, because I'd already taken steps in that direction.

So I am pursuing becoming a nurse.  My secret, pie in the sky dream.  The thing I've wanted to do for years but set aside because I had little kids, and I homeschooled, and it's a lot of money and time and I might fail.  I watched my mom go to nursing school when I was in junior high/high school.  I know how hard it was for her to do the nurse thing and the mom thing.

About five years ago Hubby decided he wanted to goto law school.  He took the LSAT and was awarded a full ride scholarship to the local law school based on his score.  He was all set to go, had his start date for the program, and then felt like he had gone far enough down the path.  He withdrew from the school before even starting and we both agree the entire thing was more about Hubby needing to know he had other options if he ever wanted to change careers.

I don't know if I will actually follow this path through to the end, or if I will get a few blocks down the road and decide that is far enough.  I don't even know if I will pass Biology 201!  (Do they think I remember anything I learned to earn that Bachelor's degree???)   But I am going to pursue this path until God says, Stop!

Come the end of August, our lives are going to be flipped upside down.  My kids will be going to school, and probably so will Mom.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Weight Loss Journey--In For The Long Haul--Being Honest

Head first body sledding--Lizzy is all in

Almost two years ago I started on a weight loss journey.  I bought a copy of Trim Healthy Mama and got right to work losing weight.  I dropped 45 lbs in six months and had never felt better.  But then life took over, motivation waned, unrelated health issues sucked the energy out of me, and I started coasting.  I still followed Trim Healthy Mama most of the time.  Just enough to maintain my weight but not enough to lose.  Until the past six months where I've started gaining back a few of the pounds I'd lost.  Until today where I've put back on ten of those hard earned pounds.

Of course I've told myself over the past year and a half that I needed to stick with the program 100%.  Of course I've berated myself about being undisciplined, unmotivated, lazy.  I've talked the program up to anyone who asked, I've helped others understand this way of eating and given lots of suggestions for where to buy the less common foods that make THM more enjoyable.  I've prayed and made small attempts to jump start my weight loss again.

But nothing has stuck.

I was praying about a few things this week--things in my life that I'd like to do, that I've dreamed of doing, but have never actually done.  Those dreams you have that are bigger than life and seem impossible but somehow you know you'll never be completely whole, completely you until you've pursued them.

Then I started reading a book, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.  And something clicked.  She said, "A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.  An underwhelmed soul is one who knows there is more God made her to do.  She longs to do that thing she wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about...Time marches on without ever seeing her thing come into being.  What if we dared to take time to write out that new height or new big goal for our lives?  The thing we want but never really plan for?  And write down the first steps for accomplishing that thing?  And actually schedule time to work on those first steps?"

And I started to think about all the things in my life that I want, all those things that my soul craves, all those resolutions I made a month ago, all those wishes and dreams that I shove aside and never act on, all those passions that God has placed in me that I have ignored.  This is where I have relegated losing weight over the past 18 months.  Something I wanted but wasn't willing to go all in for.

Today while waiting for the shower water to warm up, I looked in the mirror.  I saw all my lumpy bumpy-ness and was sad.  Sad that I quit.  Sad that I let life get in the way and suck away my motivation.  And I wanted that weight loss.  I wanted to stop farting around and doing a half-arsed job at reclaiming my health.  Because I am tired of dragging around this extra weight.  Tired of watching all my hard work just slip away one pound at a time.  Tired  of not finishing what I started.

Yes, I am still Lisa no matter what I weigh or how I look.  I am still beautiful no matter what the scale says.  But almost two years ago I started this journey with a goal--to get into my "healthy weight" range.  I started out with a BMI that put me in the obese range and I cheered when I crossed over into being merely overweight.  But I am not content, or done, until I finish this.  No more wishing and wanting and dreaming and hoping with no actual action.  As of right now I am all in.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

The B-Word

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with budgeting.
It's just cute.  And this blog post really needed
something cute to redeem it from the scary B-word.
Enter my cat sitting on my newly delivered Christmas presents.

No, not that one.  In our house we call the word "budget" the B-word.  As you can tell, we have a love-hate relationship with budgeting.  Mostly hate.  As in we hate it so we don't do it.  In my house I pay the bills, we always have enough money, so all is right with the world.  (I know some of you may have to take a moment to pick your jaws up off the floor at the idea of me being in charge of my family's finances rather than Hubby, but that's just how our family works because I hate the job only slightly less than Hubby)

I come from a family of "money" people.  Hubby likes to joke that it wouldn't be a family get together without a discussion about finances.  My whole family follows a budget and gets a weird glee out of investing money.  I, on the other hand, like to stick my fingers in my ears and sing LALALA at the top of my lungs whenever such conversations come up.  I like to save money.  But budgeting?  Yuck.

Until recently.  When I have felt very convicted in my prayer times to concern myself with money.  Not making money, but in being wise with the resources God has given us.  Despite not really being a big New Years Resolution kind of girl, I have decided to make 2015 the year that I put my family on a budget.  Without crying.  Or screaming.  Or hiding under my blankets and hoping it will all just go away.

So I unplugged my ears for just a few seconds over Christmas dinner in time to hear my sister and brother discussing what they use to track their budgets.  They both use a program called You Need A Budget (henceforth to be called YNAB).  I pretended disinterest--didn't want to shock them or anything.  But when I got home, I looked it up online and signed up for a free 34 day trial to see how I liked it.

I admit it was a little confusing at first, but I watched the intro videos to learn the program and set up a very un-exact budget.  How do you guess the amount you should budget for clothes when you have no earthly idea how much you spend on clothes for your family?  Or home repairs?  Or car repairs?  I have always just had a chunk of money automatically transferred to our savings account every paycheck which we use to cover future expenses and repairs.  So the money has always been there, just not with a name or in special budgetary categories.  And I don't keep track.

This style of money management is apparently called a Spending Plan.  We have a "budget" for the essentials, set aside enough money every month to cover annual bills (ie. car insurance) and unexpected expecteds (ie. car repairs, appliance repairs/replacements, medical bills), and whatever's left is either put into long term savings or used for wants.  (I will note that we have a health savings account and a retirement account, but those funds are taken out of Hubby's paychecks so we don't have to think about or budget for them).  So we aren't complete financial losers.  We are what I would affectionately call "middle of the road money managers."  Which has worked for almost 13 years without us ever running into a problem.  But we could do better.  So...

Ya, B-word.  Hmmm....

But I am determined to do this.  Because it's important.  Or so everyone else seems to think.  Yesterday I bought the real deal YNAB program.  I skipped right over the next 30 days of free demo and just bought the whole program, for better or worse.  Because it was on sale.  And I am hoping having that little icon on my phone with a handy dandy App will remind me to enter my purchases and keep our budget up to date.