Monday, October 14, 2013

Wrestling with Life, How I Hit the Wall and Bounced Back

Sometimes, life becomes an inner psyche wrestling match. August and September were inner turmoil months for me. We finally hit some hard realities of our move, nothing bad but obstacles to be overcome. At the same time, I helped some good friends through some really tough things. A huge door was thrown open for me that left me with a extremely difficult decision. Nothing major in the scheme of things but enough to throw me for a loop internally. I basically spent two months in near constant prayer for myself and others. It was a short time of great growth personally.

August first came in with a bang, a conversation with a friend turned out to be the last before life changed for us both drastically. I would spend twelve days wondering what happened to that friend only to find out the friend was seriously injured and life had changed forever. This friend was a huge ministry for me in the past eight months and I was devastated. On top of that, several other friends were facing difficulties and I was heavily in prayer and help mode for them as well.

Then we found out some things with both Marty's health insurance and pay. It was tough, something we weren't expecting and really took us out. Marty also was involved in a rather bizarre incident with a car at school as well. We wondered why us? but knew God was in control of these things. It became a match of trust and worry. One second the ball was in the court of worry only for something to happen to make us trust.

 We also knew our schedules weren't working with our long term homeschooling arrangements. As a family, we were focused on getting through while making changes and plans for the future. E is still trying to find her way, new friends and re-starting life in Knoxville. Conner is in high school, work is getting harder, we are looking toward driving, college and the future.

August is a month where I normally struggle with my looming birthday of 9/11. So add all of this together and it was UGLY. Thankfully, I was already on a path of confiding in several close friends, they upped the ante and really picked me up, listened and started helping me through. These women are my rocks and I am so thankful for all of them. The listened to a very ugly me for 60 days.

It was during this time E challenged me to a two week Twitter break. It was a good idea, it helped me focus on all the things I needed to deal with and made a quiet time for me to reflect, refresh and renew.I love it when the 13 year old knows best. It was during this time, that a lot of things started to happen.

Two friends asked to take me to lunch for my birthday. We sat out by the water, talked about life and suddenly a door opened. They told me I would be a great fit at their national company, the job description was every single thing I needed at the moment. I had to think about it though, it would mean leaving my friends Lee and Flavia. I decided to apply, had a list of five things I needed in this job and went to prayer.

The doors started flying open for me. The day I got the job offer, every single thing was on the list and I knew, I had to accept the job. So I did and the battle began, it was the first time, I knew that I had to do something for myself and family over helping someone else out. I wanted to stay working for Lee and Flavia but knew that I couldn't. In the end, after struggling, I finally was able to tell them and have a peace, they will be blessed too. Something good will come out of it for all of us. We are lucky to be friends and be able to support each other. I can still go in and work in the store, helping out on holidays and weekends.

I am really excited about my new job, it is a huge opportunity and career path for me. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am so thankful for the opportunity to move to Knoxville, to spend time with Lee and Flavia helping grow their business, to be able to have made new friends that led to this job.

Oh, I thought you might like to know, I got this job in a roundabout way because of Twitter and New Kids. I was introduced to Abbie by Lori when I moved to Knoxville. Abbie introduced me to Melani and Sherri, who are all fellow New Kids fans, we bonded and love each others company. So there you have it, make fun of Twitter and New Kids all you want, it was beneficial in other ways!

I feel a huge peace, burden lifted and a return of my happy go lucky ways. I am so thankful to those who stood in the gap for me, lifted me up and kept me going. You all know who you are and how much you mean to me. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, you know that I will always return the favor.

Marty, you are my rock. You put up with so much wild and crazy from me. Thanks for listening, lifting me up and helping me through. I know that I wasn't easy to live with and you listened to the same things over and over again. So thankful for you.

Still would love prayers for the transition, praying for the little details that need prayed over. Excited to see where I am headed and excited to be able to be home with the kids again during the day. God is so good!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Friend Series: Happy Birthday Lee

When I was twelve years old, a boy got off the bus one day in junior high and caught my eye. ''Hey, he looks like Joe Mc Intyre from New Kids on the Block.'' I said to myself. ( I don't think Lee knows this story...) My quest begun to know who that boy was! I used to make our friend Carrie walk home from school the long way, so we could follow Liviu. I truly think, that sometimes you know when someone is important to your life.

As we went to high school, from my many days of following Liviu home. I started going to Christian club with Carrie so I could hang out with her and Liviu. I am truly thankful that I made that choice, being the little Catholic girl I was, I went to enough CCD that I didnt feel the need to go to Christian club. I am so glad that I followed them both there, it became a time of seed planting in my life.

As the high school years waned on, Lee and I got stuck in ''special math'' with a football coach together. He loves to tell the story about how we stink at math because we were taught by a football coach! That is when we truly bonded as friends.

Our senior year was a great year. We had nearly every class together and spent much of our time together along with our friend Gaby. We were the three amigos and enjoyed joking around together. '' U R A Dork'' was our affectionate nickname for our group. We had fun laughing, crying and supporting each other through our senior year. We realized, we had a special bond as friends, we just knew that we were brought together by God to be friends.

Gaby, Lee and I homecoming 1994

Lee and Jules prom 1994

We all three went off to college together continuing our friendship on a third campus. Eventually we all went our separate ways. I last saw Lee at my wedding to Marty, it would be years until I talked to him again. We went on with life.

Senior Yearbook picture. ''Most likely to cry at the movies''

In 2001, I called Lee's parents house and his dad got me in contact with him. We chatted, he was in a tough place in life and this time I could be the one to lift him up. I remember having some tough talks with him and praying for him. He came to visit my family in Visalia, I remember him saying how much he wanted a family like ours.

Lee the prom king with our favorite teacher

He moved away to TN, changed his name to Lee, met Flavia,got married. I still laugh when I see pictures on Facebook that he has commented on in years past. He kept telling Marty and I, ''y'all should move to Tennessee'' to which we just shook our heads and laughed. ''Crazy Lee'' we would say.

We would see each others pictures, comment on them and that was it. Until Marty decided he wanted to move to Tennessee and I wrote Lee a note. By the end of that day, we were moving to TN, so I could work for Lee.

It has been fun being together again. For me the best part has been finally getting to meet his better half Flavia and darling daughter Nora. I have a new sister of the heart and niece whom I adore. Working together has taught us a lot about each other. We have learned some tough lessons from each other about each other and I truly know it has been God using us in each others lives. I like living nearby and having our families together.

 Best thing Lee ever did was marry Flavia!

Sometimes we have special friends come into our lives. Lee has been a friend that has always challenged me, we have learned a lot from being friends with each other. We have been through a lot of things together that most friendships wouldn't survive. We always overcome obstacles and remain friends. We have gone from being friends, to best friends to being like brother and sister. We've known each other longer than we've known our spouses and most other people.

I love little Nora!

Lee, you big dork. I am thankful for all you've done for me throughout the years. Thank you for being my friend through thick and thin. God brought us together, kept us together and will keep us together. So thankful you taught me to love him at a young age. We have survived so many things as friends and always will as we keep our eyes fixed on him. Most people don't get our unconventional friendship, I am just glad that we do. Thanks for all you've done for me this year. Happy birthday, wishing you a year of blessings and happiness. I love you Dork!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Friend Series: Buon Compleano Dave a.ka. Heidi

I know we all make fun of my love of Twitter but Twitter has brought me some of the very best friends in life.  Heidi and I met through our mutual love of cycling on Twitter. One night a group of us were talking about the AMGEN Tour of Ca and I invited her to come stay with my family for the next years race. We had known each other a few months at the time. I know that sounds crazy but when you know a kindred spirit, you just know.

The next year, Heidi and our friend Jen, came and took me up on my offer. It was great to have them come stay with my family. We laughed, met riders and had the best of times. In fact, she is the one who made my picture with Christoph Riblon happen!  Heidi and Jen became friends for life that week and we had an amazing time. I was so sad to see them both go.

Heidi and I get along very well, we both have the same outlook on life and people. She is a golden rule kind of person and a great listener. During my challenge of self awareness this year, she is one person I have chosen as a confidant. She really has stepped up to the role and been a great email sounding board for me. Very thankful that she has entrusted me with the very same role in return.

The best part about Heidi is she is just as wacky as me! I love her love of all things Italian, men, the language, the wine, she has immersed herself in Italian culture and it makes me smile. A few weeks ago, when I was on my Twitter break, it came to me. Heidi is our very own Dave!

Who is Dave you might ask?


Now I lovingly call Heidi ''Dave'' with a smile and laugh. It is fun to have great friends like Heidi, who my whole family loves and calls friend. She brings a lot of happy and joy to the kids and I via Twitter. It is people like her that make me love cycling more.

I used Google Translate, it is most definitely probably wrong but it's the thought that counts....right?

Grazie Heidi per essere un buon amico. Ho soprattutto vi ringrazio per avermi aiutato gli ultimi due mesi. Sono contento che siamo in grado di sostenersi a vicenda e sollevare un l'altro come sorelle del cuore fanno.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Guest Blog Single Mom Series: Heidi and Tekoah

This is a story that I love, it involves people I love dearly. I met Heidi when we were young twenty somethings going to the same church. She moved away and returned several years later, she never thought she would or wanted to be a mom. Then a blessing happened and she became a mom, she is an amazing mother whom I admire greatly. I even have used her as an example when someone I knew was making a decision on becoming a single mom. She has never once complained, instead she has been so thrilled to be a mom and loves her son. I have never seen such a miracle, it has been an amazing story to watch.

 She and her son Tekoah are dear friends to our family and she inspires me with the way she lives her life....she is just happy! We love Heidi and T-Man, and hope their story inspires you too.

How many kids do you have? How long have you been a single mom?

I have 1 son, who is almost 5. I have been a single mom since conception and have gone through the whole experience of motherhood on my own.

What is the hardest thing you face as a single mom?

The most difficult thing I would say is worrying about making the right decisions. Not having another parent to get an opinion and discuss options with make me second guess myself. Yet at the same time it is rewarding when everything works out.  Discipline has also been an issue. My fear is raising a “brat” so I find myself being too hard on him and expecting perfection, which is dumb because nobody (especially not me) is perfect and so can I expect a young child to be.

How do you make time for yourself?

BEDTIME. I stick to a schedule and have a set bedtime. That gives me a few hours in the evening to relax and do what I want (read/FB/TV/ do my nails/take a long shower, talk to friends without being interrupted 100 times) to just relax and not have to worry about ignoring him in order to do those things.

What do you feel people could work on in their reaction to you being a single mom?

Personally I have not had very many bad reactions when people find out I am a single mom. I am blessed with an awesome support system with my friends. In all honesty I have had very little negative reactions in regards to being a single mom other than a few comments about how a boy needs a dad. But in my opinion just having a “dad” does not make for a happy situation.  If that man cant be a good dad than not having one Is a better option.

Why do you think the world judge’s single mom’s instead of supporting them?

I think society makes it seem as though children are being raised by a single mothers end up being problematic.  I think this is a stereotype.  That these children tend to not have guidance for some reason.  I really felt this while watching the movie “Courageous”. At one point it made a comment about the statistics on boys without fathers. I know so many people who are productive members of society that were raised in broken homes and without fathers. I don’t know the accuracy of these statistics, but I believe that in those cases the mothers, single or not, were either uninvolved or detached or lacked parenting skills. Being raised by a single parent or not has not much to do with how they ended up. It is the social and class status of these environments, not amount of parents which resulted in their situation and choices they made in life.

If there is one thing you wanted people to be aware of what would it be? How can others be a better support system and encouragement?

Parenting is tough even with help.  Listening to a single moms call for help, even if its not directly asked for and being sensitive to needs. I for one am bad at flat out asking, I figure I can just do it and then stress myself out. Time is short and juggling so much takes a toll. I am blessed to have other single moms in my life to be able to discuss things with along with friend that have older children who guide me on the basic stages of children.  Listening and offering advice without judging is the best thing anyone can do.

What is your biggest discouragement in parenting solely? How do you encourage yourself to get through those times?

Discipline has been my main problem. I have a hard time following through sometimes. I am so busy trying to get things done, I will ask him to do something and he wont do it or will take forever and I end up doing it myself or telling him 10 times before it gets done. This is proving to be a big problem and a current issue. There just does not seem to be enough hours in the day for everything.

What is the best thing about being a single mom? Share the positives you have experienced.

Being a single parent is such a joy.  I get all the hugs, all the kisses and all the quality time.  I am blessed in the fact that I do not share custody so I never have to see him go away on the weekends or holiday. I get to do everything.  I feel so accomplished that I am able to provide all his needs myself. Its so rewarding to watch him grow and learn and know that I am the reason for that.

Conner,T-man and E
Conner and T-man

We miss Heidi and T-man