Tuesday, May 14, 2019

When God Steps In

Have you ever felt like you were in a rut but were just too complacent to get yourself out of it?

Me too.

I'm at a point where I'd love to quit my job and spend time creating my new business, but making that leap is just too much to contemplate when there are finances at stake. Especially when those finances are funding the new business classes!

My husband is in a similar rut at work, but his issue is health related. Work and be sick, or not work and...you get the idea.

We are both well-rutted people. Both of us working on starting a new life in our own at-home businesses, but just not enough oomph to get the ball rolling.

You pray to God for a solution. You pray for blessings. You pray for relief and healing. Sometimes He listens, and sometimes He does something super-duper scary.

God steps in.

I'll be honest here. I'm not always thrilled when God decides to step in. Most times it scares me witless- only because He tends to make me uncomfortable.

Very uncomfortable.

This time, things will be more uncomfortable than they've ever been. But sometimes you have to get to a certain degree of uncomfortable before you will move your butt from where it's sitting.

I have a job. It's part-time, but in a perfect time slot where I can still see my husband before we both go off to work, and I'm back home to see the kids, make dinner and do mom/wife stuff. I'm tired but satisfied that I've done what I'm supposed to be doing at the end of the day to keep food on the table and the house intact.

Until yesterday, when my customers and the pharmacy folk I work for were whispering about changes that will affect my job. These changes will determine if I can afford to work much longer with this company. Similar circumstances happened the first time I took this kind of job- one that had me laid-off and rehired by another company within an hour. Ugh.

As for my husband, he will have a lot of decisions to make concerning his job. I can't say for now, but his apple cart will definitely be shaken if not toppled altogether. 

So much for comfortable ruts.

God came in and just yanked the pillows from under our heads, shook the mattress and said: "Time to wake up and smell the glory, people!"

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

We were obviously taking much longer to get started than God intended. But you don't dare ignore that overly cheerful call of reprimand, because God might just do a lot more than shaking the mattress.

When God steps in, you better pay attention, Buster, or no blessings for you!

I'm still scared witless. The unknown is a scary thing. Is there a monster or a stuffed bunny under the bed? I won't know until I stick my head down there and look. God is with me- so why am I still scared?

Because I'm not the one calling the shots, and I know it.

But I can control what I do with my time, so my husband and I had a good heart-to-heart talk, and got down to business- literally. 

When not working we are working on our businesses- one bite at a time. Yes, there is a time for rest, but there isn't time for complacency- not when God has given us a wake-up call.

Has God ever stepped in when you got a little too comfortable? I'd love to hear your stories!






Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A New Start

Who knew life could change so drastically in a week?

Me. I knew it. In fact, we all know it. We just forget that we know that until it happens again.

The actual life change isn't as drastic in my physical world, but it's insanely drastic in my mental world. My brain was turned upside-down and thoroughly shaken by God.

I think He got tired of waiting for me. Or hearing me whine.

It started a little over a week ago. I've been salivating over this online business school for three years, even going so far as saving up for it last year, but due to vehicles needing repairs and other real-life wonderfulness, anything saved went merrily out the ding-dang window.

Then came March, the time to register for the classes. The classes were only buyable for the next ten days. By day eight I had given up hope and started an envelope fund to save for next year. I figured I could do it if I saved my tips from my part-time job- as long as I got an average of five bucks a day. Most days I could accomplish this, and on the days I couldn't, God made people generous the next day, so I was averaging more than five dollars a day by the end of the week. Saving for the classes was feasible, and it wouldn't put a dent in the household funds.

The school wanted either a lump sum or payments for the next four months; both were way too high. I contacted the proprietor of the online class (I've been speaking to her on and off for two years) and told her of my situation, and that I would still be an online lurker and Facebook page contributor until next year when I could take the classes, so please keep me on the email list and forum.

God and this wonderful lady had other ideas. She told me she would get back to me within a day.

When she sent me a link to a different payment plan, I was flabbergasted. She changed the payments to monthly ones for a year, and though in the end I would pay a little more, it seemed almost feasible.

My heart broke. the payments were still too much for our pitiful little account. My brain (and most likely God) swatted me upside the head. How much was I saving per week for this school? How much did it add up to by the end of the month?

My tip savings added up to the payment she was asking for, minus one dollar. It would be tight, but I could actually take the classes now. All from tips. No impact on the account or family expenses. Tips were extra. Tips were free. Basically, I could take the classes for free, as long as the tips would hold up.

I called my husband to tell him my plan, and he encouraged me to go for it. I started classes last week and for the first time in a very long time, I happy-ugly cried. God restored the joy in my heart. I was on my way to being awesome, and I couldn't wait to start the classes!



I won't give details just yet, as my original business plans have already changed several times because of the awesome introductions to business. One thing I will tell you is I've learned a lot already, and by the time I'm through, I'll be doing something I love that will generate enough income to get us out of our barrel bottom. Maybe even enough to more than cover my husbands' salary so he can finally work in ministry full-time. I'd love to see him doing what God meant him to do!

Are you having trouble taking the leap into something you know God wants you to do? Does your heart falter when that final step needs to be made? Remember that God not only provides the courage to take that step but will also provide what you need to succeed! Not just in business, but in everything He sees within you. Now go out there, take that final yet beginning step, and be awesome!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Barrel Bottoms

I don't like barrel bottoms. Have you ever looked at the bottom of a barrel? It's dark and gloomy. It's not the best place to be in life, but absolutely the best place to be concerning God.

Why? Because the only way to see a way out is to look up.


Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Right now I'm at my own personal barrel bottom. I thought I hit it a few months back, but it seems this barrel has deeper levels.

How did I find those deeper levels?

I found a way to fix things where I didn't have to entirely depend on God to get me out of the barrel. So I went and 'fixed' what I thought I could repair, only to find out my wrench was really bubble gum and a band-aid. 

Even now my little mind schemes to find other ways of making life repairs; I hesitate to implement them because I know there are more barrel levels than a Mario Brothers game and I don't want to entrench myself deeper. And it seems every time I try to make things better, I find a new level of worse.

I know that isn't proper grammar, so put your red pens away Grammar Police. I'm making a point here.

Am I saying don't try at all? Nope. I'm saying keep on trying- just make God the main part of your efforts.

I've tried to solve everything through my own means. I'm tired, heart-worn, and frustrated. I don't care what Sinatra says- if I do it my way, it just isn't going to flourish. 

Why wouldn't I go to God in the first place? He has infinite resources and He's a lot more clever in using them than I could ever be. He has a way of sneaking in blessings before I know they're there, and the bounties of those blessings far outweigh anything I could ever do on my own. 

'Outweigh' as in I made myself a blessing like a grain of sand, and He's waiting with a blessing elephant. And a blessing whale. And a blessing universe. And here I sit with my sand grain blessing thinking I did something awesome all by myself.

Seems silly now, doesn't it?

God doesn't want us to sit in our own mess and pray for deliverance either. Don't get me wrong, prayer is great! I do it every day, several times a day. But He wants us to make an effort to clean up the messes we make as we're praying for help. Only then will He give us what we truly need- when we're ready for it, that is.

Honestly, I've sat in my messes waiting for God to do something without lifting a finger, and when I stopped waiting, I also stopped praying and depended on myself to get the job done. Neither works very well. I've proven that many times.

The lesson I learned from that was to do what we can in our own strength, all the while praying for more strength from Him and depending on Him to get us out of it in some wonderfully blessed way.

We're not always delivered from our barrel bottoms immediately. I don't always understand why during the struggle, but afterward, I can see He was using that time to make me grow as a believer. Hindsight is always 20/20, and we hardly ever see the long-term benefits when we're going through a hardship- that's a good thing to remember.

If you're facing your barrel bottom like me, I pray that you come out of it soon with an awesome perspective on life- and a greater love of God in your heart!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A New Chaos

Just when I thought life was chaotic enough, a chaos tornado comes and sweeps away all my semi-organized plans.

I had to drop most of my odd jobs and get a regular job for the first time since the kids were little.

Joy and Rapture.

I have a job. Actually, I have three. Wife, Mom, and Homemaker. That's not including the writing and artsy stuff. But budgets need to be fed, so I had to go out into the workforce.
Being out of the loop for nearly twenty years (not to mention the loss of physical stamina) limited my options. Yet I managed to find a job within the first two weeks of looking.

I can now add pharmaceuticals delivery driver to my jobs list. Basically, I deliver prescriptions to customers.

Egad, I'm a drug runner.

It doesn't pay much, but it pays, and I can still fit the hours into my life without too much interference. I wanted something part-time that would still allow me to spend time with my husband and son in the mornings, and still allow me time to cook dinner and spend time with my daughter in the evenings.

The pharmacies loved me, and I was soon the most popular drug-runner in my area.

Three weeks in, the pharmacist gave me a warning. The company I worked for would be dropped for another company.

Three weeks and my job was already in jeopardy.

Now what do I do?

The pharmacist gave me a contact number for their corporation since she told them that her branch didn't want to lose me. Apparently, all of the stores I worked for told their corporation the same thing.

I took the paper and called the corporation.

At first, I felt like I was betraying my boss, but then corporate said something that rubbed me the wrong way. My boss was supposed to have told me about the switch over a week ago. He never said a word.

I called the corporation. They confirmed that they were switching carriers and I left my name and number with the corporation, who said they would pass my information on to the new carrier.

That was Friday. By Monday, I called again to confirm that my information was passed on. It wasn't. I also found out that the new carrier was starting that day, so I got their information instead and contacted them immediately.

I still felt an inkling of betrayal on my part for calling, but I hadn't heard from my boss and the new carrier wanted me right away. I had less than ninety minutes to apply and get accepted for employment.

It was in the middle of this process that I finally got a call from my boss, telling me I was out of a job. He tried to offer me other work, but it was about jobs we'd already discussed that wouldn't be a good fit for me. Guilt alleviated. I declined the work he offered, yet I left the conversation with that particular bridge intact- just in case.

I was laid off, then hired within an hour. Crazy!

So here I am, doing the same job with different people- and different apps.

The new guys are nice and helpful, but the tech is driving me nuts. They're giving me only a few days to learn the software, and I'm getting stressed out over it. One app and one website on my phone at all times, and the app is taking me forever to learn. It slows down my deliveries because I have to add all this information on the job, and makes me deliver much later than I used to. 

I am never late.

Normally I'm home by four o'clock at the latest. That night I didn't get home until almost seven. 

The big boss spoke to me about the delivery times, and understood that I was on a learning curve...but I needed to master the app, and soon.



Geez, no pressure.

Honestly, I truly thought I was going to lose this job. If things were better financially, I would have gladly given up the position. But I was was in the proverbial rock and hard place, so I did the only thing I could do.

Pray.

Pray that the pain in my aching joints would go away. Pray that I get the jobs done on time. And I prayed to master that stupid techy app. My husband prayed with me the next morning about it too.

When my phone pinged for my new set of deliveries, I actually winced. Then I went to work.

I had a few issues, but I wound up mastering the app and getting my jobs done on time. Not as early as I wanted, but within the time frame they required. And the only reason things went so well is that I prayed. I still have no idea how I finally understood the tech, but I did and I'm grateful for it. 

Now I pray that I'll retain that mastery when I go to work today.

But I still want my old job back. I miss being an at-home wife and mother.

This is my new chaos. I went from scheduling appointments and childcare into scheduling homemaking around my new job. It isn't easy. I still feel a strong godly pull to stay home. 

But it's what this drug-running, homemaking wife and artistic writer mom has to do- at least for now.






Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Resist, Repent, Repeat!

How many times have we asked for an answer to prayer, got it, then completely disobeyed?

*raises both hands and right leg*

A few years ago, I asked for an Answer and He gave me one. Write books. Write all of them. Simple and direct, right? But did I heed God's will? 

Nope.

Instead, this past year was a wash. I did nothing. Nada. Nicht. Nothing. In fact, I barely wrote at all!

I did the exact opposite of what He wanted. If I'd done what He asked, I'd probably have two books out by now, and several in the works- maybe even a few puzzle and coloring books too.

If I had listened. 
But I didn't.

Maybe you've done the same thing. Oh, not quite as long as me perhaps, but something similar. And the guilt weighs on your heart like a sleeping walrus. A really well-fed and exhausted Alpha walrus.



Now what? 

Resist. Stop doing what you're not supposed to do, and start doing what you are supposed to do. Stop dwelling on past blunders and focus on the future- and if that's too overwhelming, focus on today. Don't allow yourself distractions. Close the door. Put on ear muffs. Turn off the computer or phone. Walk away. If the temptation God-friendly and can be used as a reward, go for it. Just be aware that it's a reward, not the focus of your goal!

Ask God for the strength of mind, will, and body to resist going back into bad habits and temptations.

Repent. Alleviate the guilt you're feeling by talking with God. He's an easy-going fellah most of the time, and when we come to Him with a repentant heart, He's always willing to listen. Tell Him your frustrations and that you're sorry- but don't give excuses or say you'll never do it again. You both know better. Do that and any slip-up will only result in more guilt, not progress. Don't ask me how I know.

Give up the guilt to God. He can handle it!

Now focus on what God told you to do, and do it.

And if you slip up again?

Repeat. Start at Resist and keep going until you're back on track once more. It's much easier the second time (not to mention the tenth time..ugh), and you'll get better at staying on track until you're stellar at doing what God wants you to do.

Like writing books. (hint hint to self)

I've wallowed long enough. No more Jabbas or walruses for me- at least for now! Today I'm resisting and repenting. Then I'll be writing those books, and creating puzzles, and coloring pages...and anything else God wants because my heart won't have flipper-prints anymore.

I hope this inspires you to do the same.

Resist, Repent, Repeat. Onward and upward- fully focused!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Year of Jabba

Happy New Year!

I spent New Years' morning looking at all of the posts people made about what they did the previous year. Some had great family moments. Some lost loved ones. Others had accomplished major goals, and others a few minor ones.

So I took a trip down memory lane into my past year. 

Hoo boy.

At the beginning of last year, I was recovering from a hysterectomy. I kept overdoing it, sending my poor, sore self back on the recliner for another few weeks. A six-week recovery took more than twelve weeks. Three months of just lying there, doing nothing.

It was the Year of Jabba for me. Jabba as in Jabba the Hutt. That oversized, dictator slug in those Star Wars movies. I'd gained 70 pounds, lost most of the strength in my core muscles, and my mobility was about as good as the SlugFather. 



That wasn't the plan. I was going to write my heart out during my recovery but found that laptops don't work well when you're laying down. Seventy extra pounds made it hard to sit at my writing desk- the drawer handle at the top pressed against my still-healing scars. 
Eventually, I started to like binge-watching Netflix and being waited upon by my family. So...

I stopped writing. 
I stopped ministry.
I stopped blogging.
I stopped crafting.
I stopped living.

Even my muse (who never shuts up) went on vacation and didn't come back until a few weeks ago. Maybe it was depression. Maybe it was (and is) the pain I'm in from the weight gain and back spasms from core muscle loss. 

And now it's 2019. Time to put the Year of Jabba behind me.

I still hurt, but I'm working through it slowly so I can stand longer than a few minutes. I've managed to walk through Sam's Club instead of using the motorized carts (as long as I had a short shopping list). Though I'll be honest here, I like those little carts! It's so fun driving down the aisles announcing 'Watch the tram car please!' and see who gets out of the way without even looking. You know who you are, New Jersey shore people!

I've also started putting together my own version of a bullet journal. Mine is a small binder that I'm filling with my own printable journal sheets, and though I was hoping to have it finished by the new year, I almost have it completed.

And now, here I am blogging once more. I'm so sorry you had to wait so long for me to get my Schmidt together!

Things are still in flux around family life- we're currently looking at minimalist videos to see where we can cut costs, get rid of clutter, and just think a little differently concerning simpler living. Both kids should be out of the house within the next few years so we won't need as much stuff- or space. 

There's a lot to think about. And plan for.

I'm probably not going to get everything on my To-Do lists done but I do plan on conquering most of the things listed.

No, I'm not telling you what those things are. But you can celebrate with me when they happen!

Maybe I'll dub this year the Year of the Tortoise. Not just any regular old reptile, but the one that beat out the hare in the fairy tale. Slow and steady progress is still progress, and with God's help, I intend to win the race!