Category: Family…

New Perspective…Part One.

So, something occurred to me in the past twenty-four hours that just might be an answer to a long-standing prayer of mine. Maybe. It’s at least getting me closer to understanding the “why” of my jobs, past and present. I have split this into two blog posts because it’s far too much for one post.

First, some background:

In 2001, I was ready to take on the world. I wanted to be the governor of California someday, with every intention of being my friend’s vice-president in 2028 (we even had a website!). High-profile aspiration is an understatement.

That’s how I saw myself: working in politics to change our country for the better, and everyone would know my name and how awesome I was. I wanted to feel important, to feel admired, to feel respected because of my capabilities, talents, and brilliance. In one word: pride.

Over the next few years I interned with Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C. (2003), I worked on (and ran) several campaigns, attended the 2005 Presidential Inauguration (and a ball) and was even on ABC for thirty-seconds. I attended campaign training at President Reagan’s ranch in Santa Barbara and was pictured in TIME Magazine with the rest of the training group. I was on my way…or so I thought.

Fast-forward to 2007: Two years past graduation and I was still living in Southern California (not my plan). I kept trying to get back to D.C. but doors just would not open. Instead, I was working for a financial company fixing tax returns all day long–completely low-profile–along with doing youth ministry at my church (nearly full-time for a while). I eventually became content (but not fully happy) in the tax job and even tried to move into management, to no avail. Even though my bosses said I was the perfect candidate for management, I continued to be passed over for promotions, and it didn’t make sense to any of us. But, it was a good job so I remained there.

In December 2007, I felt God urging me to pray for discomfort. My faith had grown stagnant and I was desperate for a change. He brought to my attention all of the accounts in the Bible of people who grew tremendously through trials and discomfort (and never through times of prosperity or easy living)…

…so I did it. I began praying for the next year that God would make me uncomfortable in order for me to become more like Jesus. God definitely delivered. 2008 was one of the toughest years of my life thus far, and I never DREAMED of what God would call me to do/lead me through. From the spiritual struggles to the physical (pneumonia), He used that year to the fullest to mold and shape me. I knew it would be a challenging year (I could probably write a book), but I never dreamed of the growth and transformation that would take place by surrendering to God’s plan and letting go of my own.

The biggest change was my move to Pennsylvania. I had been contemplating this for many years but kept trying to do things my way and nothing ever worked out. I visited PA in October 2007 and during that trip I realized that I didn’t want to live in Southern California anymore, at all. The realization even brought me to tears one day.

I began praying that God would allow me to move to PA, and I prayed for six months before I felt an answer from the Lord. He said that I could stay or go, and that He would use me wherever I was. That was a huge lesson in itself, realizing that sometimes God allows us to make decisions and that sometimes there is no “right” answer.

I moved to Harrisburg, PA on July 31, 2008 knowing only two people in the city, having no job, and having very little money. I chose Harrisburg because of it being the center of Pennsylvania politics. I worked through a temp agency for awhile until obtaining a job with a lobbying firm–which I thought was PERFECT! This was it–my door into the political arena!

Boy, was I wrong. Looking back, I firmly believe that God allowed me to have that position for a year to show me that He did NOT want me in politics. It was a terrible year–the job was a terrible fit and I was so miserable in that role. I saw a side of politics that I had never seen before and I was completely disillusioned. I was let go on 09/09/09 and the joy that I felt was indescribable! Most people aren’t happy after being fired (or, in my case, “forced to quit”), but I felt all the heaviness that had weighed on my heart disappear and I felt so free.

From there, I was unemployed for a year, and that year was an incredible gift to me. I watched as God provided faithfully for me and I was able to pay my rent until April 2010, when I moved in with Brennan’s aunt and uncle until our wedding. I was able to focus on church planting and mission trips, and I was so joy-filled through it all. I got engaged during this time, so this also allowed me to focus on wedding plans/marriage. God’s provision was constant, and though it was a humbling year, I learned to accept help from others and to not be proud.

I worked for a temp agency as much as possible (talk about humbling), and in June 2010 I began working part-time for a consulting firm (huge blessing). In September 2010 I obtained a second part-time job (my current role) and was finally working full-time again. I learned more during that year of unemployment than I thought possible! It was a humbling and faith-filled year.

That brings me to today…I have been in my current role for two and a half years. I have never been recognized or thanked for my work by my supervisor. I do work that a high school student could do. I have never had a raise (and I don’t make much to begin with). I do not use my very expensive, hard-earned bachelor’s degree. I go most days completely unnoticed by my co-workers (and have NEVER been asked to join them for lunch when they go out). My gifts and talents go by the wayside as I watch the clock day by day, waiting for 3:00pm to arrive so that I can do things that actually matter. I feel completely unappreciated and overlooked. I have applied for and even interviewed for MANY jobs during this time period, but God has not opened any other doors. So I have remained here, despite how miserable I tend to be here.

Even my role as a relief houseparent at MHS is largely a “thankless” job (from the students themselves, not from the supervisors or the houseparents…students aren’t going to thank you for disciplining them, haha). Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE it, and it’s highly rewarding to help these students make decisions and learn lessons! My point is that they don’t care about the fact that I’m intelligent, a great musician/vocalist; they don’t really care that I am a good photographer, or that I was once in TIME Magazine. They just want to be fed (they are middle school boys, after all 🙂 ), entertained, and kept safe. Above all, they want to be loved.

So why has God been allowing me to go through these things? I think I’ve determined His reasons…

To be continued…

New Perspective…Part Two.

(See part one here…)

Yesterday, as I was talking with a dear friend about her potential job opportunities (very prestigious and impressive jobs for which she is perfectly suited), all of the above-mentioned things started to run through my head. As I listened to her speak, I realized that I, too, long to be admired for what I can do–for my God-given gifts and abilities, for what I worked so hard to accomplish in college/post-college. I long to be known as someone who “did something” with her life, whatever that even means. I, too, tend to put my value and self-worth in my career, in how people view me, and what I’ve done, which explains so much about why I have felt so miserable in recent jobs. That hasn’t changed since 2001.

But you know what has changed? In the past year, my desire to be a mother (a stay-at-home one, at that) has increased exponentially (considering that I never saw myself doing that, it wasn’t hard for it to increase drastically). I have come to realize that raising children to love Jesus and to be productive members of society is the greatest possible career that I could ever have. What a stark contrast to how I felt even one year ago.

And last night, it became very clear that God has used the circumstances of the past few years to prepare me for being a mom (No, this is not a pregnancy announcement 🙂 ). From what I hear, being a mother is often a “thankless” job as you continuously and often sacrificially serve your children. Someday, they might recognize the amazing job you did to prepare them for life and to take care of them, but humans are naturally born selfish. They aren’t going to say “thanks, mom, for changing my diaper so that I don’t get diaper rash” or “thanks, mom, for staying up all night with me when I was sick”…that’s just how it goes. They don’t care how accomplished you are and they certainly aren’t going to marvel over your talents. Being a mother is going to require humility, sacrifice, unconditional love, and lots of grace…and I know now that I am much better equipped for motherhood because of the circumstances of the past few years.

Much of the past twelve years makes so much sense now. I was in desperate need of humility, and God brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to be humble. I wish I had been a faster learner! Haha. Not that I’m completely humble–definitely not. But, given where I was in 2001, I have come a long way and my perspective has completely changed. I was so unaware of the grip that pride was holding on my life!

I now view the word “rewarding” completely differently. It no longer means being recognized and praised–it means offering recognition and praise expecting nothing in return, all for the benefit of others.

So, now I have something new to embrace, and something hard with which to grapple. God doesn’t want me to be “famous”–He wants me to make disciples, including my own future children.

I need to remind myself constantly that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of me, and it doesn’t matter if they notice how “awesome” I might happen to be…

What matters is that I live my life according to the Gospel, and that I share it with others at every opportunity.

What matters is that I find ways to use my God-given gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God, especially within my own household, without doing it selfishly or for recognition.

What matters are the eternal things, not the temporal.

What matters is that my value and self-worth come from God alone and not from anything that I have done or will do.

Day Sixteen: I’m Thankful For…Grandparents.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

I realize that I already posted about being thankful for “family”…but I feel that my grandparents deserve their own post.

I am SO blessed to still have all four of my grandparents living and healthy. All of them were at our wedding, which was a lifelong prayer of mine. All of them still live in Northern California and are still happy and active. Each of them are special to me for different reasons. All four of them have such incredible wisdom and life experience to share!

I am also blessed to have known two of my great-grandparents very well…my great-grandma Vera was part of my daily life until I was 18. That woman was strong until the end. She was still raking her own leaves and mowing her own lawn at 88 years old. Oh how I miss her. She was so much fun to talk to and she always had the best stories to tell us. Our annual family reunions are gatherings of her family–she had 7 brothers and sisters. My great-grandpa Irvin passed away when I was 9. It is from him that I received my musical ability: that man could play any instrument with strings! They were married over 60 years, and they were two of the godliest, most talented and loving people I’ve ever known.

Grandparents are such a gift and I am SO thankful to know mine so well!

Day Twelve: I’m Thankful For…Technology.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

While technology can be both a blessing and a curse, it serves as a tremendous blessing to me as I live 3,000 miles away from most of my family. I am so thankful that I can communicate with them effortlessly through phone/text/e-mail/Facebook, etc. I especially love playing games like Words with Friends with them because that really makes the distance seem shorter. Through sharing photos and stories on Facebook, I feel like I don’t miss much by living 3,000 miles away.

I am thankful that God has given humans the mental ability to create things that are so amazing. I pray that I will always be wise in my use of technology and that I will never overuse it.

Day Three: I’m Thankful For…My Family.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

I have a unique and wonderful family…some I’ve known my whole life, some I’ve known for six years (my dad’s biological family), and some I’ve known for three years (Brennan’s family). I have been surrounded by love my entire life and I am so thankful for that.

The longer we serve as Relief Houseparents at the Milton Hershey School, the more thankful for my family and my childhood I become. Our boys long for the family stability from which I come, and it truly breaks my heart when they talk about not having (or not really knowing their) fathers. Many come from very broken homes…and these things have affected them deeply.

I am blessed to have a heritage of life-long marriages: my parents will celebrate 32 years on November 8th, my mom’s parents just celebrated 60 years, and my dad’s parents just celebrated 56 years. My great-grandparents were married over 60 years. We’ve been blessed to be a very tight-knit family. My mom’s side of the family just held their 51st annual family reunion this past summer. My family is loving, caring, compassionate, welcoming, and hilarious. 🙂

I’m very thankful for my parents and for the example they have provided for my brother and I. Their marriage has faced its trials as life has thrown them some interesting curves over the years…but, they chose to grow stronger together and to fight these trials together instead of allowing their marriage to fall apart. They chose to love each other through it all and their marriage is incredibly strong because of it. My parents are willing to do anything they can to help someone in need, and that is one of my favorite things about them.

I’m thankful that Brennan’s family has welcomed me with open arms and has made me feel welcome from day one. Since they live in the area, it’s really great to have family here since mine is so far away.

I’m so thankful that we have had the opportunity to meet my dad’s biological family and that through this experience we’ve learned so much about our genetics and our quirks. I’m so much like my dad, so meeting them has solved some mysteries for me as well (including where my green eyes came from). I’m thankful that they also (for the most part) opened their arms to us and have made us feel like we’ve always been part of the family.

Thank you, Lord, for your provision of family…

Much Needed Weekend Away…

Brennan and I had the opportunity to get away this weekend for a much needed break from our busy schedule. We had a Groupon to use for a bed and breakfast in New Holland, PA (about one hour from Hershey), so we made our reservations a few months ago and began to plan.

We started our adventure by going to the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA (using another Groupon that we’d had). It was fascinating, and I can definitely say that I’ve never seen so many time-keeping pieces in one place before!

 

We checked into our lovely room at the Country Hearth Bed & Breakfast in New Holland that afternoon, and we were not disappointed! The owners are very friendly and knowledgable, and the 219 year old house is in great condition! We had a great dinner at Vinola’s Restaurant & Bar in Leola, PA at the recommendation of the B&B owners.

 

On Saturday, after a lovely breakfast and great conversations with our fellow travelers, we headed down to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. I had been told by my friend Shannon just how wonderful this place was, so when we realized how close we’d be to Longwood Gardens this weekend, we decided that we had to head down there. It was well worth the $18 admission! I was excited to get to use my camera after many months of it sitting idly in our room…and I took about 700 pictures. Granted, I only kept 161 out of those, but it was SO easy to find great photographic subjects! I am excited to go during other seasons to see the different trees and plants that will be blooming/changing!

    

Since we were so close to Delaware (a state we hadn’t been to together), we had picked up a Groupon for a pizza place earlier in the week, and we had a late lunch in Wilmington. We didn’t realize how large their “large pizza” was, and it was definitely enough for us to also eat dinner later. We took our time getting back, and spent the rest of the evening reading, playing Scrabble, enjoying the jacuzzi tub and talking.

This is the first Easter Sunday in my life (that I can remember) that I did not go to church. We had decided to not rush home to go to church, and we didn’t want to try to find a random church in the area to attend. Instead, we enjoyed our day and continued to relax and be refreshed.

We had a wonderful weekend, and I can see why it is so important for married couples to get away every once in awhile. It gave us time to let go of our “to do” lists, let go of chores that need to be done, and focus on what really matters: our relationship. We met almost three years ago and time has certainly flown by. I can only imagine what the next few decades will feel like!

I’m Going to Alaska!!

I’m really excited, if you couldn’t tell…I’m going to be in Alaska for 10 days in May, for my cousin’s graduation from high school. My aunt is planning on moving to California next summer, so I wanted to go while she still lived there, anyway…and I got an AMAZING deal on airfare, so I just couldn’t resist! Plus, my parents and grandparents (and probably more of my family) are going to be there, so that will be great family time as well…

blackstone_bay_-_alaska

I can’t wait to spend time taking pictures up there. I was there when I was 8 years old (17 years ago!), so it’s been awhile…and all I really remember was it being -2 one day…seeing a moose in my aunt’s backyard…going around to places like Kenai, Homer, etc…going to the zoo…but I don’t have vivid memories. Now that I’m older–and much more into photography–I can’t wait to go!

I also decided that I’m going to try to get a meeting with Governor Sarah Palin. She should be in Anchorage when I’m there (based upon the legislative schedule), so I figured it’s worth a shot! 🙂

I leave for California in nine days…so I’m very excited about that as well. But, right now, my trip to Alaska is definitely all I’m thinking about 🙂

Mother’s Day…

Last weekend, I flew home to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day–since it’s been years since I’ve been home on Mother’s Day! It was a great time at home, with family…I am so very blessed to have the family that I do–especially my parents.

Mom and Lesa

Family on Mother's Day

Grandma, Aunt Eva, Mom, Aunt Karen

“Daughter’s Tea” group from church

10 days until New Orleans!!

NorCal Weekend for Grandpa Fay’s 80th Birthday…

What a great (but quick) weekend! I flew home this weekend for my Grandpa’s 80th birthday party. About 75 people came, and it was an awesome celebration of his amazing life. I’m so blessed to have the family that I do! I posted a few pictures for now…more to come later…we had a family photo shoot with a pro photographer, so I’ll post those once we have them. 🙂

You can see my pictures on Facebook if you’d like… 🙂

Grandpa Fay’s 80th Birthday

Nathaniel, Grandpa Fay, Aunt Lori (we didn’t have 80 candles, so we lit one big one!) 🙂

Kristin and Lesa

Kristin and Lesa–the only two girl grandchildren (five boys, two girls) 🙂 –great picture except for the light on my face, LOL…

The boys…

Mark, Kenny, Michael, Kyle, Nathaniel–the boy grandchildren 🙂