19 August 2014

The American Dream

We like the show The Office. Over summer break Daniel and I rewatched the whole series on Netflix. In one of the episodes Oscar (an accountant know it all) tells Michael (an incompetent manager starting his own company) that most new businesses don't make a profit for the first five years. When we watched it the first time I thought that was silly. I mean this is what being an American is all about. You make your own way, right? And it takes hard work but it still happens, right?
Well, we're smack dab in the middle of our first year of running this business and I don't see that five year statement as silly any more. It is incredibly difficult to drum up business. I'm not saying it will be impossible but you guys, it is definitely a very challenging uphill battle. 
We're trying to figure out a balance for me and Daniel to do our respective jobs. I've taken on the marketing for the business. I'm a fish out of water. I always thought I could do well at sales. It's feels entirely different to sell a product  versus a service. With a product people can see, feel, touch, taste or smell and know the quality immediately. With service, the product is a service with a whole lot of blue sky. That's not to say the blue sky is not legitimate, it's just hard to quantify. 
Daniel has worked all sorts of odd jobs to make a little money to pay bills. We sold our truck and mini van and bought an older model suburban. We cut out car payments and shaved down our auto insurance. We've almost completely cut out eating out and we're doing everything we can to keep our grocery bill lower. 
In all of this we have two choices. We can 1. Choose to let worry and anxiety take over. We can allow the fears to become obsessions. We can continually attempt to succeed under our own strength. Or 2. We can trust The Lord. 
We're choosing number two. Let me be clear, we have to choose this minute by minute some days. And by simply choosing to trust Him we are not automatically guarunteed success. We don't subscribe to the health and wealth gospel but we do believe we are here doing this for a reason. It is entirely possible that reason is for us to fail miserably and be incredibly humbled but I don't believe that to be true.  We must choose to trust but still get up everyday and push through the struggle, even if it is exhausting and uncertain. 
I don't believe in the "American Dream". If it were simply our right as Americans to just work hard and we'll get ahead and be total successes, everyone would be wildly rich and there would never be struggling people. What I do believe in is seeking wisdom and direction from our savior. I do believe in submitting to his will. I do believe that as believers we are never guarunteed comfort or abundance but we are guarunteed to not walk the path alone. And, frankly, knowing there is someone walking alongside is a huge comfort. 

*If you feel so inclined, would you pray for us? For boldness to seek out customers? For The Lord to make a path before us? For protection from the Enemy? For the 
Lord's  continued provision? 

15 August 2014

Back To School and Friday Gifts 2.0

Yesterday Phinn and Georgia went back to school.  They are now 3rd and 2nd graders.  The summer went so fast.  We were here and there and around.  We swam and played and worked on the house.  We played with friends and got very tired of each other.  We didn't read very much and didn't do any school type work.  We all watched far too much TV and ate gobs of freezy pops.  We sweated our faces off and learned some different coping techniques for living with no AC.  We sacrificed time with Daddy so he could work to make some money while the business is still so new.  We say Uncle David for the first time in three and a half years!  In short, we lived and survived.  

I'm excited about this school year.  I don't know what it holds for our bigs.  I'm hopeful we see Phinn continue to thrive and Georgia to find her legs.  I'm hopeful I can get to a place where I don't feel like a crazy woman all the time.  I'm hopeful the little girls and I can find a good routine.  I'm hopeful Daniel and I can continue working toward our goals.  It's been quite a year since we first moved here.  We've come very far but there is still much to accomplish.  Baby steps.  

And because they are just too cute, I had to share this picture of all my beautiful children.  

771.  Garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from friends.  
772.  A successful race.  
773.  Cool weather for our runners.  
774.  My man for doing whatever job I asked him to do.  
775.  My man getting up at 4:30AM to help me.  
776.  Knowing my kids were safe and having fun while my attention was devoted to coordinating the race.  
777.  Great volunteer helpers.  
778.  My island stainless steel countertop.  An unexpected and hugely welcome surprise.
779.  The other countertops ready to pick up.  
780.  Being so close to having a kitchen 85% finished.  
781.  A new to us Suburban. 
782.  No more car payments.
783.  Car insurance reduced by $1200/year.  
784.  Knowing the Lord will provide.  
785.  Getting to spend time helping a friend.  
786.  Being in a small school where I am able to bring concerns to the kids' teachers.
787.  Good classes for the kids with friends they already know.  
788.  Time, getting to know a new friend.
789.  Time in the park where we randomly meet up with another family with four kids that we enjoy spending time with. 
790.  Sleep.  

01 August 2014

Friday Gifts 2.0

756. Cooler days intermixed with hotter than hades days. 
757.  Seeing David! 
758.  Provision. 
759.  A quick sale of our van. 
760.  Time with my friend Jill. 
761.  An opportunity to help a very stressed out friend with packing. 
762.  Swimming with my tiny maniacs. 
763.  Tan skin. 
764.  Good we'll checks for three out of four kiddos. 
765.  That we don't have Ebola. 
766.  Two people interested in our truck. 
767.  A project, checked off the to-do list. 
768. One whole day, all to myself. 
769.  Sleeping in and getting out of bed at my leisure. 
770.  Watching/listening to movies while I paint. 

14 July 2014

One brick at a time

Life keeps on happening. It just does. I shared about the kitchen developments last week. And it's still awesome but the wave of happiness and joy stemming from that goodness doesn't carry very far. Life gets in the way. 
This, what we're doing, building a business and trying to establish community and making our home a functional and comfortable space continues to be the absolute most difficult time in our lives. There is stress over money (always), over chaos (always), over parenting struggles (sometimes), over marriage struggles (infrequently), over the will The Lord has for us. We work hard all the time just to survive. 
When we were sued Daniel and I felt much like Nehemiah. We had to simply keep building the wall. A friend of mine commented that this is where most everyone is. Everyone just keeps putting one foot in front of the other. Everyone has their very own hard things to tackle. I get it. I don't discount the struggles of others. Their struggles don't diminish ours any more than our struggles diminish theirs. Occasionally, I fall into the trap of thinking I have no right to lament our circumstances because, "it could be worse" or we've been "really blessed"  in so many ways. But really I don't believe our God calls us to a place if constant happiness. Joy can be found through Him in all things but there is a time for everything. Laments and groans in our spirits are powerful and faith changing. 
Just like I find myself thinking I have no right or purpose in slogging through this struggle, I find that attitudes in others, as well. Instead of encouraging one another we find ourselves in a pissing contest over who has it worse. Or worse still, we find ourselves called out for actions while we are simply trying to keep our heads above water. 
Most days, it's all I can do to stay afloat. The burdens we are carrying are so very heavy. And try as I might I don't know how to hand them over to Jesus and still continue working on them. 
We talked about Sampson in Sunday school yesterday. I was so encouraged by his story. He was a total screw up. He failed over and over again. Still the Lord used him. Still there was redemption in his story. He was still used. While I don't wish to remain in a state where I continually feel like I'm completely screwing everything up, I also know that even now The Lord can and is using me for His good. 
Recently I found that one of my safe places is no longer safe. Turns out, it may never have been. It's a devastating loss. One more in a series of expectations or hopes dashed. I have a couple of choices. 1. Allow the loss to further weigh in on the depression scale that is dangerously overloaded. 2. Get really angry that the hits just keep on coming and let my anger fuel forward movement until the flame dies. 3. Let it go and guard my heart more carefully.  In this place we are, I am, at this point, I just can't do anything but let it go. 
This life that we're living is full. It's full of hard stuff and great stuff and healthy stuff and unhealthy stuff. It's loaded with potential and hope and fear and skepticism. We're in a balance and it can go either way. My hope is that our balance tips to the good in a real and tangible way quickly but even if it doesn't, we'll just keep building the wall. 

11 July 2014

Friday Gifts 2.0

736.  Having to make sacrifices.
737.  Having a man who is willing to make the hard and not fun choices.
738.  God's provision.
739.  A sold van.
740.  Making moves to get back on a good financial track.
741.  A sold car (for my sister).
742.  The revelation of God's character and self in ways that are not always obvious.
743.  The revelation of God's character and self in ways that are totally obvious.
744.  Two 100+ degree days back to back.
745.  Four less than 90 degree days back to back to back to back.  Heaven.
746.  A better and cooler sleeping arrangement  for the family.
747.  Development of new friendships.
748.  Knowing the strength of old friendships even when harsh words are spoken.
749.  Run for you momma registrations picking up steam.
750.  Being in my element, using my talents.
751.  Summer days.
752.  A little time with just my little girls.
753.  A place for my bigs to go and be blessed by great friends and family.
754.  Catching up with old friends and getting to know their kiddos.
755.  Excitement growing about seeing David.  It's been more than three years.  

09 July 2014

Seven Months, almost to the day.

Hi everybody.  I'm back again.  We're just surviving over her so blogging has taken a back seat to all the trying to keep life going and such.  But, we have big news on the renovation front.  WE HAVE CABINETS IN THE KITCHEN!!!! Yes, that statement warrants all caps.  Last week, my mom and dad, sister and her girls came to Marion to help knock it out.  Daniel worked with all of them, minus the girls and me, sometimes, to get us to a point where we have storage and boy do we have storage.  We reckon we have about 3-4 times the storage in this kitchen than any of the other kitchens we've previously occupied.  Nice.  Here are some in progress shots for you.  We are by no means finished.  We still need countertops (stainless steel), finished electrical, a sink and our monster refrigerator wired in.  Then we can deal with cosmetics like paint and backsplash.  Oh, and at some point we need to drop the ceiling down to 10' and build walls for the laundry room and make a pantry.  Without further ado...

The room pre-insulation and new drywall.
The island, with a countertop that will eventually be covered with stainless steel.  
Insulation, drywall  in progress.  
Two of my favorite cabinets.  Glass front with glass shelves for all of my beautiful Fiestaware.  
"Finished" product.  

Seven months, almost to the day, after we moved in I have cabinets in my kitchen.  Having lived in a state of flux and chaos for such a period of time has a way of teaching lessons we may not have  wanted to learn.  Here are a few. 

1.  We use far more dishes than are necessary.  
2.  We have far more dishes than are necessary.  
3.  We are capable of living without some serious conveniences.  For instance, I thought not having a dishwasher would be the most awful thing ever.   Not true. 
4.  Living without some major conveniences make having them all the sweeter.  (See #3).  
5.  Sometimes paper plates are the best you can do.  
6.  A person can do anything that is unpleasant, if there is some sort of end in sight.  
7.  Kids are resilient little buggers who are also sneaky to figure out how to take advantage of open shelves, short tables and easy to open refrigeration.  
8.  Living in a construction zone for too long can make you fall off your nut.  True story.  
9.  Construction has more steps than you can ever imagine.  To get to this state in our kitchen we've torn down two walls (one 8' tall, the other 14' tall), rerouted existing electrical, run electrical for new circuits, demolished the existing cabinets and sink, moved a water heater, re-plumbed the sink, torn up linoleum, sanded the floor, stained the floor (two coats), polyurethaned the floor (two coats), insulated walls, framed walls, drywalled walls, expanded a door (with a new supporting  header), and moved countless items several times.    
10.  Living without definitely makes getting something sweeter than can be adequately expressed.    

27 June 2014

Friday Gifts 2.0

726.  Tiny new Wonder Woman panties tucked neatly on a drawer, waiting to be used after school starts in the fall. 
727.  Recognizing that the tricksy little Bea was either not actually ready to pottytrain like the signs suggested or she was entirely too distracted by a the siblings and saying enough.
728.  Putting off the dreaded task of PT for a couple more months. 
729.  Spending the whole day with my friend Robynn helping her pack up her house.
730. Supporting/encouraging and being supported/encouraged through my friendships. 
731.  Time with my sister and nieces. 732.   A functionin, awesome dishwasher!!!
733.  A countertop (albeit unfinished) for the island. 
734.  Vision taking shape. 
735.  Gaining momentum.