Thursday, September 22, 2011

five years

It's been a long five years.

It's funny how the busy-ness of life makes it easy to forget things. Yesterday marked five years since my daddy died, and I honestly forgot all about it. Leading up to yesterday, I knew the day was approaching and I wondered how I would feel or what I would want to write or what I would do. But yesterday was so busy, the date just slipped my mind.

Every year, I anticipate September 21. It's a special day - a day of remembering, a day of gratitude, a day of looking back and looking forward. I look forward to it because in some weird way (which you probably won't understand until one of your parents passes away), remembering the day he died is a way to stay close to him. It sounds so silly to even write that out, but it's just the truth. Thinking about those last days means thinking about the last time I talked to my dad.

I am not going to go into the sappy details about my last conversation with him because that memory is one I cherish. I didn't know it was the last time I'd ever speak to him, which makes it all the more special. Jesus knew what I needed to say and do, and He made sure I got it all out before it was too late. :)

Five years ago, I was absolutely reliant on Jesus to get me through. Five years later, I still am. And that's just a very good place for me to be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You're Hired!

When I decided to substitute for this school year, I was really going on pure faith. I had no idea if I'd get any calls to sub, I just knew that was what I needed to do. Within 12 hours of putting my information into the sub system, BAM! Phone call. And I have had a job every day since (except today, which is working out nicely since we need to pack!).

Every time I get a job (whether from the sub system or prearranging with teachers I know), I get so excited! The first week or so, I was on Cloud 9. I was in pure disbelief that subbing was working out for me. After so many "no's," it was nice to hear a "yes," even if it wasn't exactly what I imagined I'd be doing this fall. Blake put it this way, "It's like you get hired every day!" That's exactly what it's like... and it feels good! :)

In addition to subbing, I tutor a first-grade girl every day. I pick her up from school and help her with her homework and teach her new skills for about an hour and a half. It's a great experience - even though you don't work one-on-one very often as a classroom teacher, working with her has given me LOTS of ideas for teaching! From ideas for centers to writing projects to vocabulary lessons to extending lessons... it's been great!! And she is so funny. Yesterday I asked her to use the word "often" in a sentence. She thought for a minute (it was obvious she didn't know what the word meant) and then said, "The kids were OFTEN today!!" I said, "Did you mean awful?" ;)

Life has been so hard since April 27, and it's still no walk in the park. But I think we're getting closer to where the Lord wants us to be and we are seeing how following His lead (even when it seems like the CRAZIEST thing!) is the best path. He'll make a way, and we are blessed for the opportunity to trust Him even more. Though outwardly it may not look like we are a huge "success," God is doing great things IN us and THROUGH us during this time. And hey, I asked God for a job and I can't deny that He provided TWO! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

home alone

No Blake, no mama, no Fred. Just me and the furry babies (and the ADT system!) for an entire evening and day. That hasn't happened in a L-O-N-G time! Mama and Fred are on their honeymoon and Blake is in Muscle Shoals for a wedding. I couldn't go to the wedding because of work, so I am stuck here at the house all by my lonesome.

Last night wasn't too bad. I was so exhausted from a 12-hour work day that I fell asleep around 9:30 on the couch while watching an episode of Chopped. Arnold kept me company, and we slept on the couch all night long. Blake won't be back until late tonight (and the parents are due home tomorrow evening), but I have a lot to do today. Upload items to sell on Amazon, upload items to sell on Craigslist, pack, laundry, dishes (because there's no one else here to do them!!!!), track down the half-gallon of milk I bought last night but somehow did not manage to bring home.

It's nice to have a quiet house and time to myself. Maybe I am weird, but I look forward to times when I can be alone. Don't get me wrong - I miss Blake and I can't wait for him to get back! But, it's nice to just be for a little while.

Monday, September 12, 2011

From the Outside

From the outside looking in, our life since the tornado might give you whiplash. Here's an overview:

- search for teaching job looks iffy
- decide to move into a 1br/1ba apartment after wedding
- not sure how to pay for 1br/1ba apartment after wedding
- family offers to let us live in an old house and pay no rent
- tornado trashes the free house we are supposed to move into
- we are homeless
- I am jobless
- we decide not to try to fix the house
- a team from Boise offers to repair the hole in the roof
- we decide to try to fix the house
- we get married
- rehearsal is the Rehearsal from Hell and I start to regret even having a wedding
- wedding is good - goes by too quickly, but it was a happy day
- we go on an awesome honeymoon
- we avoid thinking about the house while on the honeymoon
- we don't think we can continue fixing the house
- people work on our house while we are on our honeymoon
- people work on our house the week after our honeymoon
- people give us donations to help make it through the summer
- I am still jobless
- friends and family come out to get the house "liveable"
- we move into the house
- I am still jobless
- I get a job teaching preschool
- I turn 26 and go through 2 weeks of a quarter-life crisis
- Blake starts PhD program and is immediately super-busy
- house is a major undertaking
- I have to quit my job at the preschool
- I start subbing
- house is stressing us out
- agree to have major projects at house finished by December
- heavy rains reveal over a dozen leak in the roof, three of which are MAJOR
- family decides not to put any more $$ into the house and we can't afford to replace the roof
- we decide we have to move
- we look for and find an apartment
- we move in with my mom so we can turn off the power at the house (and save ourselves $200)
- we schedule our move to our apartment on Sept. 24

If your head isn't spinning, I applaud you. It's been a crazy year so far, and I am hoping that we are heading in the direction of Peace. My heart has been through a season of extremes - extreme gratitude, extreme joy, extreme amazement, extreme disappointment, extreme confusion, extreme stress. Married life has honestly not been that fun so far because of all the stress. I mean, we get it - "welcome to the real world." (And let me say that I don't appreciate that comment! We get it - everyone deals with stress - but please remember we did not choose for this tornado to hit our house and twist our life into a confusing and chaotic mess!) We have done the best we could with what we've been given.

The decision (not even sure you would call it a decision, more of a necessity) to move has been the most peaceful decision we have made since April 27. There is so much relief - one of those "a giant weight has been lifted" kind of feelings. After we paid the security deposit, we were so happy. Being married has been so different since we signed those papers! We still have a lot to figure out and we are not "out of the woods," but we are at least moving in the right direction.

It's hard for me not to look back and wish we had done things differently. But I can't look back. We have to look forward, otherwise we'll get wrapped up in doubt and more confusion. To those of you who supported us or prayed for us or helped us work, we are eternally grateful. Though we may be moving out of the house, the generosity of our friends, family, and strangers was a tangible measure of God's grace that we cannot deny or regret. No one's work or money or prayers were in vain - every ounce of provision was a blessing to us in our greatest hour of need.

At this point, I don't know if the house was a blessing or a curse. In many ways, it was both. But despite the frustration of working so hard and going through so much just to have a place to live only to end up walking away less than a month after moving in - God is still faithful. As hard as the summer was, I am thankful for what we have been through. I am grateful for the experience, grateful for God's discipline, grateful for His grace and mercy, grateful for His provision, grateful for learning to Trust Him alone. I hope we never have to go through something like that again, but I'm thankful that He has led us through it and out of it.

Things are beginning to look up for us, even though life is still pretty uncertain (but isn't it always?). I have this sneaking suspicion that the rest of 2011 is going to get better from here on out. The past week and a half has been tough, but life has been lighter. It has been happier, calmer, more peaceful. And the Lord knows we need some peace. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

blog/life shuffle

I finally did it. I finally changed the header (and some other things) here on the old blog. I am sooooo not blog savvy like my friend Kathryn, but I try. This is the first header I've made where the picture actually looks like it belongs there! And I changed the title of my blog... it only makes sense because the URL to my blog includes "katiejanesays". Plus I found out through google that "Barefoot in the Kitchen" was already taken and apparently doing quite well!!

Then, I was clicking around my archives and found a link to an older blog that has entries dated back to 2006. LOST theories, big break-up, deciding to go back to school, living without my daddy... there were some good entries. And then, I remembered that I can still access my OLD, OLD blog which dates back to 2003. Good Lord was I a drama queen!!! Some of those posts are just absolutely embarrassing!!! But, everyone has been 17 once so I am sure you understand.

Aside from the shuffling the blog, Blake and I are also shuffling our living arrangements. For the next two weeks, we are staying at my mom's house until we can move into our new apartment on the 24th. When the rains from the most recent hurricane/tropical storm came through, we realized that there were over a dozen leaks in the roof, three of which are major. The whole house needs a brand new roof, and we can't afford one. So, we made the difficult decision to move and I've got to tell you - I've never felt better. I'll write more about the decision later... because it does include some guilt and some sadness. But, for now let's just say that I am PUMPED about moving somewhere where we can finally feel "at home"!

And there's been a little job shuffle too. Without going into too much detail, I had to quit the pre-school job (sad, sad). I probably shouldn't have taken the job to begin with, but that is a different story. Anyway, now I'm subbing in the County Schools and it's awesome! I have had a job every day! I am also still able to continue tutoring every afternoon, so I also have that money coming in. Looks like we're going to make it after all. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mama's Getting Married

It's funny to think that my mom is getting married in two days. Not many people can say that they've had the pleasure of watching their mama date, fall in love, get engaged, get married, go on a honeymoon, and live life as a newlywed. And I bet even fewer get to say they got to go through being a newlywed along with their mamas. I get to do that. :)

We went to lunch after church on September 13, 2009. It was a typical mother-daughter lunch: I was blabbing about teaching, she paid for Panera. ;) I gabbed and gabbed about school, and then out of nowhere, she dropped a bomb on me - "Well... I went on a date last night." I immediately fussed at her for not telling me this sooner!!! She told me his name was Fred, and that they had a good time. I could tell she was smitten. And then something strange happened - suddenly, I felt this surge of worry and concern for her heart. I was happy for her and wanted her to enjoy spending time with someone, but I didn't want to see her heart get broken.

Thankfully, her heart didn't get broken. Fred turned out to be AWESOME and I love him!! He fit right in to our little family and has changed my mom's life for the better. I love seeing them together and I love knowing that she is taken care of. And being able to give your mom wedding advice is pretty hysterical. :)

So, on their 2nd dating anniversary (Monday night), mom and Fred will tie the knot. Mom will be Mary Kathryn Kirby and Fred will officially be my Dad #2. I don't really like the term "step-dad" so I need to come up with something better. How about... my step-Fred? Or just My Fred. I do love him so.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

God of Jacob

There's this song on the radio (Christian radio, that is) that has been driving me crazy. It's called "Blessings" by Laura Story. Now, if you know me at all, you know I am a music snob. I generally hate anything new. As in... I've had the same music on my iPod for nearly two years and I'm quite content with it. I like new music by my old favorite artists. It just takes a lot for me to REALLY appreciate anything completely new. I don't know why - it's just really hard to compete with ten years' worth of John Mayer and Hillsong!! But, I've been listening to the radio a lot because my phone and iPod share a charger and the phone usually wins.

Back to the song. The first time I heard it, I was immediately drawn back to the three and a half years I spent working at Gospel Supply and the beginning of my hatred for all things CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). Sorry, anytime you are forced to listen to 4Him or RelientK or Nicole Nordeman for any extended length of time, the redundancy of the lyrics and sappy-ness starts to wear on your nerves. Then I wondered why I was even listening to the Christian radio station....

Then the lyrics to the song appeared on Pinterest. GREAT. Now people are going to fall in love with this song and I can't stand it.

And then I heard it again. And again. And again. And I finally let the words sink in a little.

The reason I hated the song so much was because it was True.

What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand lonely nights
are what it takes to know you're near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?

Wednesday night, I wept during our monthly Encounter Night. I cried out of anger, out of confusion, out of surrender, out of gratitude. In the middle of the night, I woke up and wept some more. My sweet husband rubbed my back and reminded me of the story of Jacob and the man. Jacob was heading back to his homeland and to his brother, Esau, as God had commanded. Jacob was frightened - afraid that Esau would attack him for all he had done. Jacob prayed to God for Esau to receive the gifts he was sending and to welcome him home. Jacob was following God's command, though afraid, and trusting Him through it all.

And then he comes upon a man. Jacob is all alone, and he and the man begin to wrestle. They wrestle all night. Finally, morning begins to break and the man says, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let go until you bless me." The man gave Jacob a new name: Israel, because he had struggled with God and with humans and have overcome. (Taken from Genesis 32:22-27.)

I'm heading in the direction God has called me, and I am not letting go. So my healing may come through wrestling, through tears, through restless nights, through snot and puffy red eyes. However it comes, I am not letting go until the God of Jacob blesses me.

And, as one of our pastors recently challenged me - "Name one person in the Bible who God used mightily who didn't go through what you are going through." Uhhh... how about "impossible." I guess that settles it. If you want God to use you mightily, you have to let him use every last bit of you.