Faith Meets Type A

For the last 11 years, I worked for a group home company based in the Twin Cities. I started working there on a whim, I had NO idea what working with those who had disabilities would entail and I was NOT prepared for how much it was going to derail my life. In a good way of course.

At the time, I had no real direction in my life. I had gotten an assistant manager position at a local bank right out of high school, transferring to another bank for more money and solidifying that I am not cut out for the cut throat (sometimes shady) sales that certain banks require. I quit, took a PT job at Panera Brea and went to college- because what else does a 20 year old do? Searching for my next step, considering Nursing, I responded to a rip off flyer promising valuable resume experience.

It came time for Sam & I to get married, quit our jobs and move to NDSU to finish school together. I COULDN’T QUIT…. how do you quit a job you looked forward to going to even when you have to get up at 4am and commute 45minutes to work? You can’t. I shredded my notice, dropped out of school and just kept immersing myself in this new world that I loved. I wasn’t sure where I would go next or what life would look like the next season and that scared me, what I did know was, I was happy and learned more from the people I served than anyone else up to this point.

Eventually, I took the leap to become a supervisor. After some “meh” supervisors, Kate came into the house. She was kind, funny and made you feel valued/important. I knew that I wanted to be that for someone else. By the grace of God, I was accepted and was given a location to manage. I spent the next 9 years living in two different locations, raising a family and working at several other locations. I had the best staff, amazing co-workers and some great bosses. But most of all, I served some of the most amazing human beings on this earth. They taught me to love everyday, even Mondays. To take a moment to dance often and that nothing ever needs to be too serious.

The road to where I am now is far too long and complicated to put into words. However, it starts with a still small voice telling me its time to be home, moves on to me disobeying because it didn’t make sense to quit a job and loose both our housing and half of our income. I loved my job and didn’t want to leave. After a year of red flags and convicting moments, I knew it was time to jump. Um, Hi, I thrive on planning and don’t do the whole unknown thing… guess I have to plan on being in a season of unplanned.

  • We bought a house, huge testimony to God’s faithfulness #1
  •  I gave my notice, transitioning to PT staff. Until I quit on Aprils Fools Day.
  • The day I quit, Sam’s HR Manager came to him and asked if I could do daycare for her kiddo over the summer. The pay? Exactly what I was making PT! Huge testimony to God’s faithfulness #2
  • A few days after I was done doing daycare, Sam got a raise… bet you can’t get the difference… yep, almost exactly what I was making…. Huge testimony to God’s faithfulness #3

One of my best friends was telling me about host homes, those who have someone with various disabilities living with you. Similar to what I had been doing yet different. The sound of it was trilling, being able to continue my passion while being home with my kids. No staff calling in, No open shifts. Sam and I agreed we would revisit it when Jekobi turned one. The end of July, I attended orientation through my county for becoming a licensed Adult Foster Care Provider. The first week of August I applied for both my county and state license. I was told that it would take 2-4 months for AFC & 3-6 months for State. I had my state license in August and my AFC the end of September. Huge testimony to God’s faithfulness #4.

Now, once you are licensed you are able to start touring your house to others. This is the most lengthy process… especially when you have a gaggle of kids, a dog and guinea pigs. It can be MONTHS before you get a placement. This scared me. We put all our extra money into fixing up the room, licensing fees, background studies, furniture etc. and I obviously can’t bill a waiver for services provided if I wasn’t providing any. How would we survive? How would we be able to pay for wedding things coming up? How would be do Christmas? How would we pay the renewal fees for my license due in December?

In church one Sunday, our Pastor said something that convicted me. The exact words I don’t remember. However, I vividly remember the Lord elbowing me and saying “girl, I got this. Stop worrying. Haven’t I already proved this to you?!” UGH, ok you are right. Boys needed new clothes- a friend dropped of BAGS and BAGS of clothes that were just their size and “cool” (their words) {God’s faithfulness #5}. We got an unexpected check back from our escrow account when we needed money most- God’s faithfulness #6.

Not long after that “gentle” reminder, I was contacted by my licensor with a person looking for basically what we had to offer. Our situation, while not ideal for many, was exactly what she needed. She toured and decided to move in with us BEFORE I WAS EVEN FULLY LICENSED. Huge testimony of God’s faithfulness #7.

Today, in a little over an hour, I will do my first official admit to Olson Homes only 2 months after applying to get my license. I still struggle with worrying about the future, stress from the unknown and wanting to control ALL.THE.THINGS. However, I’ve found beauty in the journey of trust and have been shown that HIS plans are better than my own.

 

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Dear Husband

Dear Husband,

I see you.

I see you taking 3 work calls before 6am on a rainy Monday, forcing you to rush to work when all you want to do is linger in bed just a little bit longer. The baby who is growing up all too fast is cuddled up on our fluffy bed next to momma, I know it’s hard to leave. We wish you could linger too but every day you leave for work, feelings of pride fill me. I’m so proud of you.

I see you.

I see you feeling like less of a man because your income alone is not enough. Feeling like your family needs or deserves a lavish lifestyle. I need you to know that the kids & I are happy, we want for nothing. Our love for you goes beyond designer hand bags and jet skis. I promise you, hugs & memories feel just as good in Walmart’s clothing.

I see you.

I see you feeling as if you are failing everyone. Failing me, failing the kids, failing your boss, failing your staff, failing your friends, failing God. However, if given a chance, I know that everyone would assure you that you are enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH. You try hard to meet our needs and it shows, we see you. We appreciate you.

I see you.

I see you struggling to find a balance. You juggle many things at once, never feeling as if you give enough attention to any specific thing. Wanting to get house projects done but also wanting down time. Wanting to get caught up on work but also wanting to be home.  Our house will get there, there will always be work projects to do. Make sure you take time to play video games or shoot some hoops. Your wants and desires matter too!!

I see you.

I see you checking out this flabby mommy body as if it was the slim spring chicken bod you met in high school. While it drives me nuts most days, I secretly love the butt slaps and stupid comments you make. It reassures me that despite my less than ideal appearance, you still desire me. Through words & actions, you are teaching your boys how to build their wife up when they need it most. Our 4yr old frequently tells me how beautiful my eyelashes/shirt/hair/heart is , he learned that from you. You’ll never know how much all of this is needed to combat the nasty internal thoughts of my worth.

I see you.

I see you watching my Instagram stories so that you feel like you don’t miss out on so much. The fact that you have to watch your baby crawl for the first time, watch me take our kids bowling for the day or go on other adventures has to be hard. I hope that my stories of unending laundry, fights and the boys having light saber battles using their pee helps soften the blow. I’m sorry you miss out but at eternally grateful that you sacrifice so much so that I don’t have too.

I see you.

I see you come home exhausted after a long day. When you walk in on the phone, with a clip board or at 11pm, we know you had a hard day. I watch as you attempt to disconnect from work for a bit to spend some time with us. What you don’t see is the count down we have everyday to when daddy gets home. When you walk in the door and everyone yells “DADDY” , you should feel like a celebrity. We don’t count down because momma needs to tap out or the boys need you to fix something electronic wise, we count down because we can’t wait to be with YOU. You are loved and valued.

You are an amazing man. Who does an amazing job. I am proud of you. Please know this.

Love,

Your Favorite Wife

Teach Them While the Cost is Low…

Growing up, I did zero chores. My mom is Super Woman, clothed in a less sexy, more modest Kari Jobe vibe. Somehow she worked full time, did ALL the housework, ran us to our various activities, was always put together & made us each feel as if we were loved & important. A few times, she attempted to have us do chores, like clean the bathroom. However, I’m pretty sure it played out like this- 15 minutes of us whining that she dared ask us to help, drama filled stomps into the bathroom where we wiped a cloth across one surface with our eyes closed then immediately shouting we were done. Could you imagine if she asked me to do my own laundry? Surely, my head would have spun around 3 times as my eyes glowed red and growls poured out of my mouth.

I aspire to be my mom, I really do. However, sometimes you have to be real with yourself and realize that I am not Cinderella. The only things following me around as I clean are screaming & making a bigger mess in their wake. If anyone has the magic key to turn my Tasmanian Devils into cleaning Song Birds, hit me up! Part of that realization is being real that I do not possess that magnitude of multitasking. I try and try only to fall short each time. Something had to give.

Somewhere between being buried to my neck in kids toys & researching what inpatient clinics take Quitting Mom’s, we took a “love & logic” parenting class at our church. I’ll be honest in saying that we don’t full embrace everything they have to say, HOWEVER, some of what they teach has been transformational to our parenting style. The biggest one was, “Teach them now while the cost is low”. Show them how to do things, teach them about consequences , teach them about the power of words/hard work etc BEFORE the severity of the consequence increases. It’s much easier to teach them how to obey rules set before them NOW when the consequence is a grounding or no cupcake than them learning LATER when they find themselves jobless or incarcerated.

Combining that statement with watching our College Age Staff struggle to do “simple” life tasks, fueled a fire in us to focus our parenting style on preparing our kids for their futures all while filling them with self confidence, truth, love & respect. For heaven’s sake, my kids WILL NOT be 21 & unable to make grilled cheese (a real story). This may mean that I have to swallow my “control freak” mentality, this may mean that it takes 20 minutes to do a 5 minutes task & it may mean that I deal with far more tantrums, it WILL NOT be done the way I would like…. However, one day, I will look at my self sufficient, successful, confident, helpful husband, son’s and know it was worth it.

During a recent conversation, we were telling my youngest brother everything our boys know how to do in the homemaking department. Laundry, dishes,cooking, vacuuming, dusting, taking care of pets etc. He sat there, mouth wide open in shock. Not because he thought we were horrible parents ripping our kids childhood from them (at least I hope not) but because he was proud of his nephews for accomplishing what many 20’s are struggling to learn now. The next response, the most appropriate one of course, was to give them all a fist bump. Pride radiated from their little faces.

So what do my kiddos do on a daily/consistent basis?
1.Laundry
2.Help cook- they LOVE this. They beg to help.
3.Vaccum, dust & make beds
4.Care for dog & guinea pigs- including cleaning cage.
5.Sweep & Mop
6.Dishes- they know how to do these but I couldn’t handle HOW they did them anymore so I’ve taken that task back.
7. Clean up toys/Books

Here I am, Worst Mom of the Year 9 yrs in the running, offering you parenting advice. Advice that you can take or leave. However, I do hope you teach them enough so that they aren’t 22 and watching a YT video on how to cook scrambled eggs.

Baby, You’re Worth It

Judsenwarrior

Somewhere between bills, PILES of laundry and if you are mom of boys- cleaning pee off every surface of the bathroom, we are expected to produce independent, confident, respectful, kind, loving, hardworking adults into this world. Holy Buckets, that is a lot being asked from us sleep deprived momma’s.

Not too long ago, my oldest told me about a run in with someone at church. A situation that he had mulled over in his sweet many times before he brought it to me, I’m sure. During a small group like situation a peer told my baby that he is weird. Dang it, the first real encounter with hurtful words had fallen on us far earlier than I had hoped. It was in that moment that my fully unprepared, short fall filled , low self esteemed self had to say something that bandaged his broken heart while simultaneously building his self confidence.  The words that flowed out of my mouth shocked even me… “who determines your worth?” I asked. The intelligent nugget responded with the exact response I was looking for “God”. No single human is powerful enough to determine if you are in fact worthy or not.

I can’t be alone in the occasional internal cringes when your kiddo wears or does something that is “weird”. I want my kids to be accepted & loved , never experiencing heart break for being themselves. I also want them to be confident in themselves, never feeling like they are here to please man. While we are listing lofty, impossible goals…I also want a hobby farm and a million dollars without working …

As much as it often kills me , I keep my mouth shut about what they put on their bodies. Somedays, that means we are going to Target looking like “people of walmart”. Somedays that means that one of my kids wears the same orange shirt every single time we leave the house so it looks like he owns approximately one shirt. Why do I not just dress them & do their hair?? Because: 1) I want them to have a choice. I would DIE if someone told me what to wear everyday. [Scratch that, maybe I would love that. As long as it included my favorite pants, sent directly from Jesus- black leggings, I’d be game to have someone dress me cute… hum…] 2) I want them to be able to experience making decisions as often as possible. Teaching your kids to trouble shoot when the cost is low is ideal. Yes, its just choosing pants & a shirt. However, it really lays a foundation for the whole make good choices thing. Or, so I’ve been told. 3) I want them to feel as if they can express themselves via clothing/hair… even if that self-expression leads others to believe we are homeless with no access to running water. 4) I don’t want them to feel the need to impress others. I don’t want them to think their value is found in having perfect hair or wearing the perfect outfit. Good hair and cool clothes mean nothing if they don’t make you happy.

If you see me in public, all of us looking a hot mess. Don’t forgive me, I am not asking for forgiveness. Because that would imply that I would , at some point, ask you for permission. Instead, be encouraged that my Mikey Mouse, Army, Starwars Ninja Man is walking around with more self confidence that you or I could only dream of having.  Because, he is WORTH more than the most precious, highly sough after tangible thing in the world and so he can wear what he wants.

 

 

 

A Life Changing April Fools

I’ll be honest, epic April Fool’s jokes are NOT my gift. That doesn’t stop me from trying year after to year to get someone good. This year, however, my joke has quite a bit more weight to it than putting a rubber band around the sprayer on the sink.

My poor, hard working, helpless husband was at the end of my prank gone wrong.

It was a normal Monday, my eyelids heavier than wet sand, irritable kids coming off a weekend away, a TLC Hoarder style house & a husband at work up to his eyeballs in to-do’s. As my soccer mom duties crept up , the thought of putting on a bra and sitting in a Church Lobby for 3 hours while my kids took turns having Basketball Practice sounded about as fun as ripping my big toenail off.

Like the amazing wife that I am, I texted my previously mentioned busy husband saying “Tag, you are it. Basketball Prac at 4:45p”. OK, if your husband is like mine, his job isn’t going to allow this to happen. But again, I am an amazing wife that makes his life SO easy so I just thought a little guilt trip was the best thing for him. He responded that he had meetings and couldn’t. I, of course, handled that with such grace and understanding by sending the ol’ passive aggressive thumbs up.

The poor soul then proceeded to ask me if that was a “sarcastic” thumb… If he knew what was about to be unleashed on him, I am pretty sure he would have NEVER said that. I mean, after being together 14 years you would think he would have learned by now. But, lets cut him a some slack. He probably would have gotten the same verbal lashing even if he didn’t ask.

My internal feelings of the last 4 months came pouring out onto the screen & once again AMAZING me hit send. I went on about how I am expected to be Mom, Wife, Housekeeper, Teacher & an employee at a job that makes me miss all the fun & family time while he was essentially ONLY wearing the cloak of MAIN PROVIDER, Husband & Dad. Just wait, it gets better. I boldly followed that word vomit with “I am quitting my job.”

There is just so much to my story of leaving my Managerial role that provided half our income, our health insurance & our place of residence. Too much to type in an manner that 1) people would want to read & 2) that made any kind of sense.  But, the premise of my life over the last 1.5yrs was taking a step of faith. The Lord could NOT be more clear about His plans for me- sending people that I didn’t even know to say very specific things to me that made the whole situation undeniable. So, we lept. But, not fully. I KNEW I was supposed to leave my job fully, instead I stepped down in to a COC roll. BECAUSE HOW ARE WE GOING TO AFFORD LIFE? THERE IS NO WAY! As the months went on, it was painfully clear that I made the wrong decision to stay on.

After no response to the “I am quitting my job”, I had the bright idea to say “I just submitted my resignation. I am done at the end of April.” I was going to ride this April Fool’s joke as far as I could. If you know me, that won’t last long. Playing the game “BS” involved me taking a sip out of a cup everything I talked because I CAN’T LIE!

Basketball Practice ended, I got the troops home and in bed… I needed a way to make this seem real. I needed to pull off an epic prank for once. I was ready to scream “April Fools” at the top of my lungs while laughing in his face that I finally got him. I drove home my quitting prank by acting stressed that I wasn’t sure how we survive without my income. I joked about the things I’d have to do in order to help pay the bills. Even I convinced myself that I actually quit. I began to panic and tear up. Know what he did?? He hugged me, told me it would all be ok & that we would figure it out somehow.

HE HUGGED ME AND TOLD ME IT WOULD BE OK!?!?!?! Where is the “YOU DID WHAT?!” or the “WE CANT SURVIVE WITHOUT YOUR INCOME”… where is the big moment where I get to scream “APRIL FOOLS?”. I held him tight & shed a few real tears. What is happening? Is he calling my bluff? I kept silent and started researching ways I can make money at home without being at work.

This morning, he sent me a lead for someone to do in-home daycare for over the summer. I continued to play along, wondering how long this joke was going to go on. By afternoon, all I could think about was actually resigning. Actually following down a path I know is right but makes ZERO sense. A quick phone call to see test the waters yielded no further reaction from him. I couldn’t let him win, I couldn’t let him say “April Fools” first. I also couldn’t keep lying to him because I am an amazing wife and amazing wives don’t lie to their husbands. On that call, I divulged that I was lying but that now I really wanted to actually quit. Know what he did? He told me to do it.

Here it is 4/2/19 and I am 26 days from being unemployed. I have had some sort of steady income since I was 15. Do I know 100% what life will look like? Nope. Am I scared? You Betcha. Am I excited? Absolutely. Sad? More than you know, I’m attached to my people at work.

I’m ready to see where this life takes us, hopefully to one that doesn’t involve us loosing everything over an April Fools joke.