Chasing Contentment

Thursday, July 27

Several years ago, my brother decided it was time for me to see the Kevin Smith movies, and he insisted I watch them all in order. He gave me all of the discs and then waited for my reactions. Mike and I watched them all and liked them all, agreeing on some and disagreeing on others.

Smith's movies have always been irreverent in ways and shocking in ways, but they're also funny and have the quirky ability to ask Christians to look at their own faith with critical eyes.

Here's an interview Smith did with NPR that talks about his faith. (Thanks to Brooklyn and Beyond for pointing me to the interview. I'm not listening to much news these days, so I missed the interview.)

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 27, 2006  ]

Wednesday, July 26

I'm reading "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey, and I was struck by this passage.

"...although the church of my childhood had taught me the proper way to behave, and a Bible college had given me more advanced knowledge, neither had cured the deep illness within. Though I had mastered the external behavior, inside the sickness and pain remained. For a time I cast aside the beliefs of my childhood, until God wonderfully revealed himself to me as a God of love and not hate, of freedom and not rules, of grace and not judgement.

To this day some of my friends who rebelled along with me remain alienated from God because of their deep distrust of the church. Amid all the distractions of subculture, somehow they missed the ultimate goal: knowing God. The church, says Robert Farrar Capon, 'has spent so much time inculating in us the fear of making mistakes that she has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our songs, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch.' I have now heard the strains of grace, and I grieve for my friends who have not."

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, July 26, 2006  ]

Tuesday, July 25

Well, I may have just had the shortest temp career in history. I worked in my assigned position for three days before getting a message saying my assignment had ended because 'they didn't have enough work' for me. Geez, if I'd known I needed to be a slacker instead of a hard worker, I could have done that. Ah, well. I'll sleep in tomorrow and then keep looking, I guess. Who knew?

In all of this, I have hurt the feelings of a friend, and I deeply regret that. I'm not at all sure what to do now. My prayer is that I find a way to ease that hurt.

It's been quite a day.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, July 25, 2006  ]

Sunday, July 23

Mama Mandy - July
July 22, 2006
Dear Mandy,
I'm late. I was late last month. It's a good thing that the timely arrival of your baby isn't somehow symbolically tied to the promptness of my monthly Mama Mandy emails.

We had a wonderful time with ya'll when you were here. I miss you already. But I'm just delighted that you held down as many meals as you did. It was us, you know... good karma. And it'll just get better from here. Before you know it, you'll be eating everything in sight and putting on that precious baby bump.

I know you're getting lots of baby advice from family and complete strangers. You're way ahead of where I was at this point... you are already good at ignoring unnecessary advice. That'll take you farther than you know. Now, of course, all of the advice from me should be heeded. :) Truth be told, you and Josh probably don't need a lot of advice... ya'll are going to be great parents.

I watched you with Griff and Eliza last week, and you both have all of this patience and love and tenderness to give. Your baby is going to be well loved, and in this world, that really is the most important thing, I think, that mamas and daddies can give their babies.

Love teaches our children that they are safe within our homes and families. Love then stretches to teach them they are safe outside of our small world. Love shows them to accept and embrace other people. Love will push them to try new things because they'll be assured of your support and acceptance. Your love will teach them to love. Loving leads to loving.

You are amazing.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, July 23, 2006  ]

Saturday, July 22

The challenges and sorrows and heartaches of this move are coming to me in stages, proof, I suppose, that God only gives us little bits at a time and that He equips us to deal with each of those little bits.

I'm able to find my way around reasonably well, if only to the spots I want to go, which is enough. I found a salon and had my hair cut this morning, and that always makes me feel good. I'm encouraged about Griff and Eliza's schools and about our ability - all of us - to make new friends.

But now I have to get a job. And that's a really difficult thing right now. It's frustrating and discouraging. I don't doubt for a moment that God will provide the perfect job for me - my prayer for months has been that He give me a job where He can use me to touch the people around me - but it's this waiting and working for it that is wearying.

Part of my discontent is from not being sure of what I'd like my job to be. I worked for 14 years in one setting doing one job and doing it well. There were a few aspects that I loved but several that I no longer want to pursue. But with that much experience with that field and not a lot of experience with any other, I'm feeling pigeonholed at 36.

LeeAnn asked me months and months ago (and then again this weekend) what I would do if money weren't an issue. I wrote about my ideal job earlier this year, and I think my answer is probably still the same. I'd love to bead my way through my workdays. But I've checked the bead shops in town & they're not hiring.

Lisa at Favorite Sister's Thoughts had a post about being invited to your destiny that spoke to me today. I know that I just need to wait for God's invitation, but I admit to being worried about the financial side of things despite the fact that God has worked everything out for this move thus far. It's this human frailty where I want to be certain things will work out... as I write that, it's embarassing to me. I've told Mike over and over in regards to this move, "if you knew everything up front, it wouldn't be faith." And where is my faith? I say I'm sure God will provide, but I'm worried.

And so, I need to take a different perspective on this job search. I need to plug through this temp position that I have and be grateful for any money coming in (meager though it may be) and continue to be open to my invitation from God.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, July 22, 2006  ]

Thursday, July 20

We had a fabulous time with Mandy and Josh this week. They arrived at just the right time to remind my homesick heart that we still have dear friends and that we are still loved. The time with them encouraged me that the friendships we hold dear from our previous life will remain even if they have to change because of the distance. And that is a refreshing and revitalizing knowledge.

(My friend, LeeAnn, has been my friend since before I could drive a car, but we haven't lived in the same state in more than a decade. The emails and calls I receive from her have reminded me that some things in my life have stayed the same, thankfully, since the move.)

Josh kept us busy this week. We spent Sunday at Cypress Gardens where Griff, Josh and I rode our first roller coaster together. The first lap was no fun at all, but I loved the second and third. The boys didn't agree with me. Griff and I rode some crazy ride that terrified my little man and nearly made me as sick as Mandy. And despite the searing heat, Griff was a sport and rode the kiddie rides with Eliza.

The ski show was fabulous, and Griff had a ball... I think we all did. The ski show and the hokey shows were all the our little mama-to-be Mandy could do. She was quite the trooper in the heat. I was very impressed.

We took a day off and ran around our new hometown, visited a water park with the kids and the boys went to a movie while I went to a job interview. Mandy kindly stayed with Eliza.

The next day, we were off to Tampa to visit the zoo and the aquarium. It was hot again, but we got to see the baby elephant (Josh loves elephants) and the manatees. We all - Eliza included - got to touch the stingrays and starfish.
And when Josh finally wore us out, we all stayed home and watched old cartoons on Boomerang and played poker. The comfort level with them in our home is something ... God-given. I am grateful to God for them. I am grateful to them for being who they are.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 20, 2006  ]

Friday, July 14

The week with Hayden here has been good, and we're picking Mandy and Josh up at the airport tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see them both!

[  posted by Chel on Friday, July 14, 2006  ]

Wednesday, July 12

Despite the difficulties associated with this move and despite the emotional toll it's taken on me in various ways, I have never doubted that this move was right for us. Nothing at all has happened the way I expected, but everything has worked out better than I'd hoped. God has orchestrated this, I have no doubt.

We enrolled Eliza in daycare this morning, and while it is vastly different from her previous daycare, it is also probably exactly what she needs right now. It's very homey, cozy and warm. We weren't there for long this morning, but by the time we left, Eliza was already playing with another child and having a good time. And that's what we needed for her.

Like most everything else about this move, it happened quickly. Yesterday morning, I was worried about childcare. Today, I have it arranged for both kids.

And I got a second interview! Again, I don't know that this is what God has for me, but I'm pleased with the opportunity thus far. The daycare situation reminded me today that I don't need to worry with this. I just need to trust that God has me in His hands. And I do.

So, we had this great day... and now the third season of "Project Runway" is on. Add a Diet Coke and one of those hidden mama Milano cookies & my day will be perfectly complete.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, July 12, 2006  ]

Tuesday, July 11

What with the packing and the extra week at Mandy's and the two weeks here, it's been more than a month since I did any beading. Two nights ago, I got out my beads and made a necklace for a friend, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy the process. Now, I still have to figure out the best place to settle all of my supplies and beads in the new house and all of that, but it's nice to get back to something familiar.

I am continually surprised that God's given me the ability to do something creative like this. I'm just always delighted when a piece turns out well!

When Mika and Tara and I got together before the move, Tara mentioned (more than once) that neither of them have a piece named after them on my jewelry website. So I've finished Mika's, and I'm planning to have Tara's done this week. And I'm already thinking about the descriptions I'll write for each of them.

One of the greatest blessings God has given me through the years is the continuing relationships with good friends.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, July 11, 2006  ]

Sunday, July 9

I've been a little wigged out about not having a job, and I don't like the feeling of being completely dependent upon Mike. I've always considered myself fairly independent, and this not being employed, not being able to find anything but the Target and the grocery store, this is hard.

And so Thursday night late, I got online with one of the online job search things, and I applied to two jobs on a whim. Friday, I got calls from both of them, and I interview for both jobs tomorrow. It's a little crazy.

I'm not sure I'm qualified for one job, and in all honesty, I'm not sure I want it. But it's been really good for my ego to be called for both jobs. I needed that. And I'm trying to go into both interviews with an open mind. I want to be where God can use me the most, regardless of where that is or what it is doing.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, July 09, 2006  ]

Friday, July 7

Griff sent an email - typed it himself - to his best friend, Will, this afternoon. It was music to a sad, tired, homesick, unemployed mother's ears...

Hey Will whats happen?Life here is GREAT.Just wanted to say high.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, July 07, 2006  ]

Thursday, July 6

Happy Birthday to my friend, Kate.

Kate is kind and funny and beautiful and generous. She is also an amazing artist. Before we left, she gave me a wonderful going-away gift. She sketched my portrait.

I've always had 'issues' ... insecurities ... with my body issues for as long as I can remember, and for me to be willing to pose for Kate was a big step for me. But because we are friends - having been prayer partners for a few years around the time Eliza was born - I trusted her to do the sketch well. I knew that even if I was unhappy with the body represented, I would be happy with the sketch because it came from a friend.

As it turns out, the sketch is beautiful. And I love everything about it. And that reminds me every time I see it that I am beautiful, if only because Mike thinks so, if only because God loves me... if only because I am loved by friends and family... if only because I love people like Kate.

Happy Birthday.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, July 06, 2006  ]

Monday, July 3

The weekend with Chuck and Stacy and the kids was just what we all needed. Stacy and I took Eliza and Hannah to see Care Bears Live, and we all had a good time. Eliza lasted through most of it before she got restless... she really made it much longer than I'd expected.

Of course, I may have to stop going to children's productions since this one made me cry, too. The little girl character opened the show by talking about how her best friend moved and she was missed. Thankfully, the Care Bears came out soon after and I stopped crying before anyone but Stacy noticed.

Then, we all spent the evening at Stacy's parents' house (again, we have been so blessed to have been taken in by such dear family and extended family). The kids all got to play in the pool - Eliza loved paddling around in the hippo - and the big kids got to be pulled on the raft behing the boat... even some of us really big kids.

And we all had a blast. The little boys rode first, and then Stacy's dad offered to take the two of us. I talked her into it, and I haven't laughed that much in ... I don't know how long. It was fabulous.
Mike and I got to ride together, and of course both of us ended up in the lake. It was not my most graceful moment trying to get back up on that darned raft while everyone watched, but still, I had a ball. It was so important for us to have some fun together.

Now, today, I've been sad. We always did the 4th with Mandy and Josh, and I will miss them tomorrow. We're going back to spend the day with Chuck and Stacy and the kids, and I know it will be fun, but I will still miss Mandy and Josh.

A former co-worker of mine died suddenly on Saturday, and her funeral was this morning. And I am saddened by her loss and by the distance that prevented me from being at the service.

I have to keep reminding myself that this transition is going to take time for all of us. Just like I take it easy on Griff and understand that he needs extra hugs and just like I am softer to Eliza because I know she's still unsettled, I need to give myself that extra little bit of time, too.

I really am confident that this is the place God has for us and that we're going to work out so well here. It's just that for the moment... it's an up and down existence.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, July 03, 2006  ]

Saturday, July 1

We're heading to Chuck and Stacy's this morning (I really should be getting ready now!) to get Griff and to spend the weekend with them. Today, all of the boys are going to see the shuttle launch from the Cape, and the girls are going to see Care Bears Live.

Then, we'll see fireworks tonight. It'll be good for us to have some fun. It's been a hard week for all of us (well, except for Griff) so a little fun will do us good.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, July 01, 2006  ]