Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Anxiety. And Fear. And Discontenment. And Faith.

Over the past month or so, I've been in a funk. And I haven't really talked about it or written about it because I'm kind of annoyed with myself that I've even been in the funk. It's embarrassing.

But that doesn't change the fact that I've been there, and I feel like if we can't be transparent about our struggles within this community of women, then we are all doing ourselves (and God) a giant disservice.

So. Last month was a small paycheck month for Justin. Smaller than it had been in two years or so. The communication wires were crossed between Justin and I, and I wasn't expecting it. He wasn't surprised.

Anyway, when I picked up Justin's paycheck on the last day of March, I was mad. Mad at God. I'm having a hard time even typing this out because on one hand I know it is just...ugly, but it's also true.

See, before Lizzy was born, we both independently felt distinctly led that I was supposed to stay at home. I had never felt such a strong calling to do something before, and so we took a leap of faith and did that, even though we knew it would be tough financially. And it hasn't always been easy, but God has faithfully provided for our needs (and sometimes even our wants) month by month by month.

There have been a ton of blessings in this, including the fact that Justin and I have gotten really good about our money, and now budget to the penny every month. We have plans and goals and dreams financially, even if we're getting to them at a snail's pace, which is markedly different than when we were both working and both spending like crazy and sometimes I wish I could reach back in time and shake some sense into myself. Anyway, there's been a lot of good things that have come from this, and most months I can recognize that.

But honestly, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes, this anger and bitterness rises up inside me, and I am SO irritated that every. single. thing. must be budgeted. It can get exhausting, the budgets and the lists and the shifting things around, and sometimes I just want to be able to buy a cute shirt at Target without thinking about where it will fit in to the budget, darn it--'cause some months there's a clothing budget and some months there's not. If there's a meal sign up passed around church, I just want to be able to sign up, regardless of whether there's money in the giving category that month or not. Sometimes, I get tired of saying "no" to everything, it seems.

And I'd been praying lately about whether it was time to apply for a part-time job for me, and had gotten the distinct answer of NO. I applied to a job anyway. I didn't get it. And I was angry again, because it was hard and I wanted to do things an easier way, and God said no, and sometimes (usually) that sucks. And I was tired, and irritated at God, and also irritated at myself for being irritated.  And I was very much in "whatever, God" mode.

In fact, Missy asked me to speak at the Mom's Group retreat this past weekend, and I just felt like I couldn't. I could not think of anything uplifting or helpful to say about God and what he had helped me overcome, because he hadn't. I felt like I was in it by myself holding notebook upon notebook of lists and budgets, and I just didn't want to do it anymore.

Whatever, God. 

I went to a Mom's Group retreat over the weekend, and on Saturday morning I asked God to give me a verse that would help me, and I randomly opened up my Bible to Hebrews 13:5-6, which says:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 

"Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you."

So we say with confidence,

"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

I mean, I don't know if God Himself ever pulls a Jesus Juke, but that sure felt like one. And I wish I could say that my heart was immediately changed and yada, yada, but it wasn't. It just ticked me off even more, honestly. And the irritation and bitterness, both at God and at myself just grew and grew.

Whatever, God.

Over the weekend at the retreat, I opened up about anxiety, which is something that I battle a lot. If you follow me on IG, you saw me reference it on Friday--for me, one of the things that happens when my anxiety gets bad is that I feel like everyone in my life is going to die, and if I'm there, diligently watching and "on call", I can protect them. And if I'm not, they're all going to die. By Saturday night at the retreat, my anxiety was out of control, because I didn't know what else to do, I opened up about it. In fact, we all opened up about our "stuff", in an authentic and vulnerable way that I have rarely experienced with other women. We talked, honestly. We prayed specifically, for each other.

And you know what I realized? For me, all of this was partially an issue of contentment and gratitude, but mostly an issue of anxiety and fear. Since the retreat, I've been doing a better job with the self-care that I know is crucial for me in keeping my anxiety at bay. It probably sounds a little crazy, but I have felt the prayers. And I am so grateful. That pit in my stomach is gone, and the weight I've been dragging behind me all the time seems to have vanished. And I was surprised to realize that so have the anger and bitterness. I didn't realize that they were all related, but they were.

Today, it is payday again. I don't know what to expect, and I don't know that it'll be any easier than it was last month. But I do know that my response this month, at least, will be one of confidence and not fear. Praise be to God.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Printable

Yesterday, I was making the newsletter for our Mom's Group, and I realized that there really wasn't anything important to, I went a little rogue, and made a printable to hand out for Easter.

It's nothing fancy, but a good reminder for me nonetheless as we go into this weekend--it's a busy time for a lot of families. I know we've got service tonight, Justin's band is recording all day tomorrow, and then service that night, someone texted me that they have a trombone for Justin (which was news to me, but apparently he is playing the trombone for Easter Sunday?), there's outfits to wash and arrange, and Easter baskets to fill (whoops), and bread to make for Easter dinner for about three dozen people (or bagels? or rolls? ). There's a mountain of laundry on my couch, and workouts to do, and bathrooms that haven't been cleaned in I'm not sure how long. Anyway, the point is that it's sort of like Christmas time for me-- I can easily get flustered and busy and overwhelmed and forget the joy in it all.

So, I popped this printable in a frame, leaned it up against the wall on our buffet, where I'll see it 100 times a day as I walk through the tornado of a house. And I think about the Easter morning call and response of "He is risen!" followed by "He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!". And I think about the time of Lent where in the Lutheran church the alleluias are missing from the songs and the service, and I didn't realize the I missed them, but I do.

He is risen

If you want, click on the image, and that will take you over to Flickr, where you can download the original size. It's 8.5 x11, but worked just fine in a matted 8x10 frame for me. Enjoy your Thursday!

Monday, April 14, 2014

This weekend.

This weekend....

-We ate a lot of really GOOD food. The highlights were an *amazing* meal at a local brewery, complete with some hibiscus ginger beer. As a general rule, I'm not a big beer drinker, but Caldera has some really unique and interesting beers, and I can't wait to go back sometime and do some tasting. I mean, toasted coconut porter? Yeah, I'll try that!

-We had a lot of sweet, silly, and fun moments with our little family. It felt so low stress, which was a welcome blessing.

-We spent a good amount of time working out, and also a good amount of time outdoors, both of which were so welcome!


-I spent some time evaluating. One of the things that I love about photography is that there is *always* so much to learn. This past year, I've spent a lot of time trying to learn more about Photoshop, both in terms of photography and graphic design (which is why you occasionally see Monday printables around here). There's so much to learn, and THEN there's also the trick of learning and discovering what I actually like and want to implement for myself. HDR? Not so much. Different blanket fade techniques? Yes, please.

Anyway, yesterday I decided to re-open a photo that I took of my niece Lyla back in 2012, and edit it the way that I would if I had taken it today. It's fun to look at the differences, what I've learned, what I'd do differently, now. There's a subtle difference, but I'm happy with it. I'm sure that in two more years, I'd have a few more tweaks to make, and that's what I love about photography. Learning, growing, stretching, always.

-I applied for a job. It would be working from home, doing something that I absolutely love. Basically, my dream job. There were around 100 applicants, so it feels like a long shot, but one that I had to take :)

How was your weekend?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Photography as Yoga Pants

A blog friend, Sara @ Running from the Law has been hosting an *awesome* series called Photography for Moms, and today I'm over there posting about getting out of auto and into Av mode.

Sara and I have been following each other's blogs for quite some time, and she and I are both big fans of Av mode when we're just hanging out at home taking photos of our kids. On today's post, Sara said "[AV Mode is] quick and easy and comfortable, like a really expensive pair of yoga pants - fancier than normal, but still not full-on getting dressed and perfect to wear around the house."

YES. I totally agree.

If you have a dslr camera, but are shooting in auto (the green box) most of the time, and haven't been ending up with the kind of photos you were hoping for when you purchased a dslr, please go read this post.

On the other hand, if you're trying to shoot in manual 100% of the time and are so frustrated that you're just not picking up your camera at all...please go read this post!

'Cause I'm a firm believer that there's a time and a place for yoga pants and Av mode alike!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Beauty in the Mundane- Volume 3

We had an unexpected evening at home last night with some unexpected sunshine, and it could not have been more amazing. Recently, some friends have given us some old outdoor play things that their kids had outgrown--a slide, and then some swings--which are amazing placeholders until we eventually buy or make what we'd like to have long term. The girls got to play with them for the first time yesterday, and had a BLAST. I'm so glad that I grabbed my camera before we headed out to play after dinner--there's beauty and a story in these little moments, you know?

D-3 D-7 D-8 D-11 D-9 D-14 D-19 D-20 D-21 D-24 D-26 D-31 D-28 D-36 D-37 D-38 D-39 D-43 D-49 D-56 D-51
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