12.01.2016

And....He's Off and Running!


Jas opened the doors of his own office 4 weeks ago.




I couldn't be more proud of him.





Leaving the house for his first day!

He let me take lots of pics...but finally drew the line: "I would like to be there before my employees!"


This is such a good fit for him.  Everything he has done educationally and professionally has equipped him to open this office and run his own business.  He really seems in his element.  






This post contains all the "before" pictures of his office.  

I say "before" because we have plans.  BIG plans.  Well, not really BIG, but they seem big to us.  We are going to paint all the walls.  We don't care for the colors that are there right now, and they actually aren't even "compliant" with the home office color scheme.  The tan color looks better on the screen than it does in real life...Nai Nai described it as "Baby Poopoo Squash."  And we want to do some redecorating: changing out some tables and seating and decorating the shelves in the open reception area and in the conference room. 



This is the view as you walk in the front door.

We have just (as of about an hour ago) sold this sofa.  It is nice and comfy enough, and not professional enough for an office.


I've already bought 2 parson chairs (that I LOVE!) and a table to go between them.  (I purchased all these things on a FB group of local moms.)  As soon as we deliver the sofa Monday, we will have room to move the chairs/table in to Jason's office.  I already have him a beautiful orchid to go on the table also.  It is REAL...because Jas totally has a green thumb (unlike his wife).

You can see along the right side of the above picture that there are three doors, leading into the three private offices.





Here is the first office:



This is the office for Jason's full-time employee.



And here is Jason's office:


I am *itching* to paint and decorate in here...but that takes money, so we are taking it slow.



And here is the third office:

yes, that is a gum ball machine...don't ask...we don't know.

It has two desks, back-to-back, and is unused for now.




Here is the main open reception area.  Isn't Jason's part-time employee beautiful??



The young lady who really works here part-time (four hours every afternoon) speaks Spanish...which is wonderful!




Looking back toward the front door:








These built-in shelves will one day (soon!) house beautiful things, instead of files (they have plenty of storage space in cabinets...this doesn't need to be on display):





And here is the conference room:




The view from the other end of the conference room:

These shelves will also one day (hopefully soon!) display beautiful things.



The first weekend after Jas started, we went to rearrange some furniture.  Thankfully, his two brothers  helped:






They were so helpful, and I am so glad they were there (otherwise I would have had to work harder!)....




...but plenty of "play" went on also!



Our kiddos sure do love their uncles....



...and the feeling is mutual!



 So glad we get to be by Jason's family again.




This is such an exciting time.  And at the same time...it. is. hard.  The learning curve.  The financial commitment involved.  The time commitment for all the studying and exams Jas has had to take (and he is taking another one tomorrow!).

There is always some attrition when there is an agent change, and this time is no different. And November and December are notorious for being the slowest months anyway (everyone is busy buying Christmas presents!).  On the bright side, the only place to go from here is up!

I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for Jas (and the rest of our family) in the future!

11.03.2016

Book Club...and then Rambling

(This post is all over the place...discombobulated.  And I am going to leave it just like that.  I started out talking about a book I am reading that is impacting me greatly...and then went off into left-field.  But I don't have time to make it flow good and nice and cohesively.  I just need to get stuff out.  I don't want to be fake and only post good/nice when there is plenty of not good/not nice.)



A few days before we left GA my sis-in-love Steph texted me and let me know I would henceforth be part of her Book Club.  

Being a girl who was desperately sad to be leaving the great community of girlfriends the Lord surrounded me with the past 14 years, this was music to my ears.  New potential friends?  Yes, please!

Tomorrow night is the first meeting I will attend.  

This is the book we are discussing:





Honestly, my socks weren't blown off when I read the title.  A book about motherhood?  I want some life-changing, deep, theological book - nonfiction or fiction, it doesn't matter.  But not something about motherhood.  (And my kiddos were aghast at the four-letter word in the subtitle :)  )

And honestly, my sockets weren't blown off when I read the first chapter a week and a half ago.  So I put the book down...until a couple days ago (because I am a procrastinator).  But I am also a rule-follower, so I was determined to slog through read the book before the meeting.

So I started reading again.  While I still am not done quite yet (but I do intend to finish!)...my socks are officially, totally blown off!  The second chapter drew me in, and hasn't let go.  I could have written most of this myself.

I have cried.

I have taken copious notes.

I have highlighted and screen-shot-ted (I have the kindle-edition).  

Yes, this book is about motherhood...but so. much. more.

It is hitting me right where it hurts.  Right where I am struggling.  Right where I always struggle.

Striving.  Working.  Spinning.  When will I ever learn?  I have struggled with these things for years.  I have written about this before.  

I know (pointing at my head) the great truths of our Christian faith.  I know all the Sunday school answers.  The problem is I often don't live them out...don't let them sink into my heart and actually change my feelings, my thinking...and therefore, my behaviors.  


I knew this move would be hard.  I knew that.  Of course it would be.  Duh.  Stripped of all the amazing friendships and support network we had built for 14 years.  That takes time to build.  Of course it does.  I knew to expect this...and I thought I was ready.  

But here we are.  Right smack dab in the middle of hard.  And I am whiny.  I am lonely.  I am ready for "hard" to be over.  This is enough, Lord.  Can't we be past this already?  

Part of the problem, I am realizing, is that I have relied on my friends...when I should have relied on God.  I have a bad day?  Call a friend.  Having trouble in school with a child?  Call a friend.  Anything big - good or bad - happen?  Call a friend.   Pour my heart out to a friend on the phone.  Over tea at my/her kitchen table.  At the playground during a homeschool group get-together.  

Friends and community is great - a gift from God!  But not when I use them to replace God.  

The change in our location and circumstances is revealing some work I need to do.  Work I need to allow God to do in me, I should say.  Stripped of my friends/community I am feeling so alone.  Needy.  Like the picture of a woman walking around holding out a cup, hoping someone - anyone - will fill it for her.  What is my worth?  Who am I?  Where is my value?  The people who know me, the people who like me and think I am great?  They are across the country.  Yes, I can still talk with them...some.  But it is hard (time difference, AND most of them are homeschooling many children, among other reasons)  And yes, we do have long-time friends here, and family, but they are busy too.  

And all of this, ultimately, is good.  I know that.  We are exactly where the Lord wants us to be.  The 8 of us - sticking closer together than ever before.  Figuring out this new normal for our family...together.  Seeking God's will for us in this season...together.  It is good.  And hard.  

So, I am working hard.  Trying to make everything normal.  And perfect.  Because perfect is how I like things.  And I want everything to look perfect to everyone around me, too.  


To wrap up (because rest-time is almost over!)....

The book has hit me hard.

I need to lean into Him.  Find my worth totally in Him.  Know how loved I am.



Some of my favorite excerpts:

   What if He's not at all surprised when we fail at our feeble attempts of perfection?  What is He is so madly in love with us that His feelings don't change based on our behaviors?
     And - wait for it - what it it's actually His love that changes us, not our attempts at trying harder?  What if, by realizing how incredibly loved we are, we actually started living like it?  

*****************************

Paul's prayer for you in Ephesians:

"May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is.
         May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."  
    Fullness of Life.  No more striving for worth.  No more straining for attention.  Completely and lavishly satisfied.  

     Experiencing the love of Christ?  This is where the power comes from.  This is where we will be made complete...full...free.  Free from the comparisons.  Free from our anger, our impatience and our selfishness.  Guilt and shame have no power to change us.  It is in being loved that we are changed.  


************************

     Goodness tied to performance of any kind is never sufficient.  Worth tied to performance is always fleeting.  Never good enough.   Worth found in the goodness and love of God can silence the voice of failure in an instant.
     You are not good because you are a good mom.
     You are not good because you do good things.
     You are good if you are a child of the King. 

************************

     You will miss experiencing God's goodness in your life because you will feel like you don't deserve it.
     Yes, you will keep trying to find it.  You will keep trying to earn it.  And you will keep tripping on your own efforts.
     Because you can't be good by trying harder.  You can't be good by performing better.
     Goodness comes from the grace of God.  Undeserved.  Unmerited.  And irreversible.  



**********************

(I don't know how to end this post...so, Amen!)



10.31.2016

The Two Littles...Being Little (And I Never Want to Forget)


Gabriel recently became aware that Christmas is not far away now (how can this be?!?), and he immediately began working on his Twelve Days of Christmas again (his most favorite-est Christmas song).  He is getting better!  (I talk about how he sang/pronounced this song last year when he was 3 right HERE)








And I want us to always remember the phase that A went through where she put "poo paste" on her "poopbrush":

10.27.2016

Running....and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

I have so much to post.  We have so much going on.

I feel like we hit the ground running 3.5 weeks ago...and we haven't stopped.  And we need to slow down.

During rest-time everyday I am reading, researching, making calls/sending texts to gather information.  We need a church family, a homeschool group, a house.  There are lessons that the children want to take.  Doctors to find.  Insurance(!) to decide on. (We are eligible for Jason's company's group insurance in a few days, but we have heard it is not the best, so we are gathering information to make a decision).

All of these decisions will come.  But I just want them to come now.  I want this all settled...so I can feel settled.  It doesn't work that way, though.  I just need to do the next thing, and be patient with the rest.  AND....rest in Him, that He will guide our every step, in His perfect timing.

And, OH, He has guided.  We have seen so many evidences of this along and along.  It is so encouraging!

And so many wonderful things have happened, little mercies...and BIG!  And I want to keep a good record.


So....

I'm starting here...with a field trip the children and I took Monday.

I got connected with a FB group for local homeschoolers, and saw that the Denver Museum of Science and Nature was having a FREE day on Monday.  We like Free!

I whipped out my phone's mapping app, figured out where to go and we headed out.  It was so neat heading through areas that I haven't been to/through in forever, and pointing things out to the kiddos. Walk down memory lane, for sure!



First, the two youngest were unusually cooperative with my picture-taking desires before we left for the field trip:


I couldn't love this picture any more!


I love the opportunities we now have!

Abigail was done cooperating with pictures.

The museum was three floors of amazing sights.

We were just talking about arthropods in science last week...so this was cool!



There were so many exhibits that let the kiddos get real hands-on:





Abigail wasn't real sure she wanted to get hands-on....

...but then she got over it!












And then we headed to a paleontology exhibit.  The employees were great here!  First, our kiddos got on their stegosaurus tails (the bigs didn't want to participate, go figure!):






Then they crawled after the guides to see what the stegosaurus ate, and how it defended itself:





Then the children dug to discover bones.....









...and then figured out which bones they had dug up, and where they went on which dinosaur:











The museum offered multiple comfy places where we could eat the picnic lunch we brought.  (The museum also offered strollers for free, which we used, but not as much as I would have liked because they kept wanting to get out and get hands-on!) (Seriously, the only money we spent all day was on gas...woohoo!)





Gabriel asked so sweetly to take some pictures himself, I had to oblige:
















G also asked me to video him...and I was happy to comply:








The fourth floor of the museum was an observation deck overlooking a beautiful park....

...and beautiful mountains!



We still having fully gotten used to the idea that we actually live here now!



10.18.2016

Kathy


Last night I got to connect with Kathy.  Yes, the Kathy who totally surprised me by flying to GA and then throwing me a surprise 40th birthday party!  

It's been almost four years since I've seen her...but it will never be that long between visits again!




Just a few months shy of 20 years ago, Jas came home from work and told me about a new co-worker that had just been hired, and was so nice. She and her husband were newlyweds like us, and were new to the city. We had them over to eat ASAP. This girl crawled into my heart and has been there ever since!  Kathy is so very good for me, and I still can't believe that we get to live in the same city again.   I see many more "dates" like last night in our future!

10.12.2016

The Move


On Thursday, September 29th, the 26-ft U-haul arrived in our driveway.  




Gabriel was *enthralled*.  He wanted his picture taken with it...



...and then he had a heyday taking pictures of the truck himself:


These are just three of the approximately 50 he took.




Jas, Robert, my dad and myself went back and forth talking all day Friday about whether all our stuff would fit in this van.  It was the biggest they offer...we hoped for the best.



Saturday morning, mom (Lao Lao) came and picked up the youngest three.  Papa stayed at the house to help us.  


And then at 9 a.m sharp, about 15 men friends showed up to help.  Our pastor (who also came to help) took it upon himself to be in charge of arranging this crew.  Friends new and old.  Community group members.  This was such a huge blessing. 

Here is some of the moving crew

We didn't really need that many helpers.  But it sure was nice.  Two or three guys (always Jas) were up inside the van, with others keeping a steady stream of boxes and furniture out to them.  The ones in the van were fitting things together like Tetris.  It was amazing how much they were able to fit in there!  It took less than two hours to get this part done.

And yet...it still didn't all fit.  So while all the guys headed home (they had done all they could do), Jas and Robert headed to rent a smaller U-haul trailer to haul behind the big moving van.

And then it was night before we actually headed out on the road.  8:46 p.m., to be precise.


Jas drove the moving van hauling the trailer:



Robert drove Jason's truck:

This truck is 15 years old now....we bought it in CO and moved it to GA with us 14 years ago!


And I carried the most precious cargo with me in the Silver Bullet:






It didn't take long at all for the kiddos to conk out.




We drove for several hours and then parked in a Kroger's parking lot and slept for about 5 hours.  Or not slept, as the case may be.


But at 7 a.m. we were raring to go again:




We stopped about every 2-3 hours for a gas/potty break.  (That 26-ft van guzzled gas, of course.)



We made sure to have fun along the way.






One thing we did NOT do on the gas/potty breaks?  Buy food.  We did buy drinks (water/100% fruit juice)...but never even needed to buy any food!  We just kept snacking on the food that we brought along.  It worked out BEAUTIFULLY.  Even better than I imagined!

We ate healthy.  We ate much more economically.  And I cannot even imagine the time we saved by not stopping to go in and eat somewhere at every mealtime.




And then at about 9 p.m. or so on Sunday evening, we pulled into a Hampton Inn in St. Louis (Hamptons are our fave place to stay) to spend the night.  Got adjoining rooms...and all fell into bed so tired.  This was the best night's sleep I'd had in *weeks*!  


When I climbed out of the shower in the morning, I discovered Jas was gone from our hotel room.  He'd received a call that our moving van was about to be towed...so he raced outside to move it.  He joked that this was quite a "wake-up call" and he didn't need any coffee to get him going this morning!


Moving van safe again...we had a great time at the free breakfast buffet:  eggs, bacon, fruit (I'm pretty sure we ate our weight in bacon).  And the kind employee in charge of the buffet packed us a couple bags of apples "to go" when she discovered our cross country adventure.


And we headed back out on the road at 8:30 a.m....all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed:




Approximately 10 minutes later, in the middle of St. Louis I-70 morning rush-hour traffic, the trailer came off the hitch of the moving van.  The only thing securing it to the van was the emergency chains (there for just that purpose)..the trailer was dancing ALL OVER THE PLACE!!  Watching all this a few vehicles behind Jas was about the scariest thing I've ever witnessed!

Praise the Lord, Jas was able to get over four lanes (everyone was trying to give him plenty of space...lol!) and get safely off on the right shoulder.  Robert and I did too and parked behind him.  When Robert reached Jas, the first thing he did was give his big brother a big 'ol hug.  It still brings tears to my eyes.

How no one was hurt/killed during all this I have no idea.  No...I do.   It was the Lord.  Period.


The guys then spent the next hour fixing the connection so that we could get back on the road.  Jas is way smart and Robert works with cars, otherwise we would have had to rent a replacement trailer and unpack and repack the whole shebang.


And...we are so glad Jas got the insurance on our rentals, because there was damage!  
Yes, that is rush-hour traffic, going about 70mph, whizzing by, a few feet away.




The rest of the day was very anticlimactic after our way-too-interesting Monday morning...and for that we are very thankful!


So at about 11 p.m. (mountain-time) Monday night, we finally pulled into Nai Nai's driveway.   52 hours after we pulled out of our GA driveway.

We hugged Nai Nai...and then fell into beds and slept good.

And when I got up the next morning, I walked outside to make sure we were really here, and it wasn't just a dream.

We are home!






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