Monday, April 23, 2012

Economic Hardships

I suppose it's not a huge secret that we're experiencing some economic hardships right now. Actually, it seems as if our entire marriage has been a huge economic hardship. Robbie says we have to pay our dues. Yes, I suppose we do.

So...I've been wracking my brain as to what I can possibly do to help our family out. I've been teaching flute lessons, but I haven't been as successful at that as I'd like. I've been working as a labor doula, and I am nearly ready to submit my paperwork for certification. But I am in a huge dry spell right now. No births on my calendar and no inquiries. I can't really say that I am not as successful as that as I'd like because I am way more successful than I thought I would be. However, now that I am here, I want more! Moooooooooooore!!!!! 

It's summer. Summer is always hard. Summer means that most of my students take off and travel the globe. (or just visit parents in other states) Two summers ago meant I had a baby. Last summer I started attending births. What do I have on my calendar for this summer? Nada.


Discouragement is weighing heavily on me right now.

I sent out a note to all of my local friends to let them know that I have a very free calendar for the next few months. I'm hoping they'll let me babysit or something so that I can earn some extra money for our family.

And because I am impatient, I applied for several jobs today. Online. I am not confident that online applications really work. I feel like it's their way of weeding out the people who are serious, i.e. those who are bold and actually call, or show up, or know someone who can hook them up, or whatever, from those who must not be serious because they're spending all day applying online and completing assessments, i.e. stay at home moms whose toddlers are taking a nap so they finally have a chance to sit down with the computer without grimy little hands pressing this key and that key...

I applied for a few evening/nights housekeeping jobs at two local hospitals. I also applied to be a receptionist and a labor & delivery floor secretary. Hey! I can dream right? Maybe they'll see the word "doula" on my resume and think, "Hey, I bet she can learn quickly and would enjoy this job."

I also applied for a summer teacher's aide job with the local school district. I don't even know what I think about my decision to do that, but I just need to try....something....I hope Heavenly Father at least sees I am willing to do what I need to do to help our family. Hopefully something will open up.

I will try to apply for some other stuff tomorrow. I'm not sure what else to apply for. I'm running out of ideas of somewhere to work that kind of works with me being a stay at home mom. 

And something else weird happened. I'm not really into celebrities or their business, but I wrote a post about Jessica Simpson's elective Cesarean decision that is getting passed around. I've never had that much traffic in one day. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sometimes life ain't no picnic

But that doesn't mean we can't have a picnic!

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I really wish I could say that life is all hunky dory and that I handle every challenge that comes my way with grace and ease. But I'd be lying if I said that. I actually don't handle challenges very well. Not even the littlest challenges. 

It's no secret that we are a family of modest means. We are trying to make this lifestyle of me being a stay at home mom and Robbie being the provider work. Robbie really has a testimony of this kind of family organization-where one parent works outside of the home to be the primary bread winner and the other parent works inside of the home as the caretaker of the home and primary caregiver of the children. He's determined to make this work, and I am thankful that I have a husband that works his behind off to make it work. I wasn't raised this way, so I am quick to feel like giving up. "We're just not the kind of family that gets to have that luxury," I say, lament, whine. I think about trying to get a job and then I think about daycare costs, and any job I could possibly get would only be used to pay for daycare. I feel trapped in this situation. I don't know what to do more than what I am already doing. 

Finances and money and this whole "creative budgeting" thing that one of my midwives taught me really get me down. I wish that the amount of money our family can pull in didn't make me feel like a worthless person. I wish I didn't feel so ashamed when I must ask people to do me favors. When I really need people to do me favors. I really truly, honestly need the help of those that have been kind enough to do so. I wish it didn't make me feel embarrassed and ashamed to need help. I wish that the gratitude I feel for those wonderful people in my life wasn't stained with those negative emotions. 

So, bright and early yesterday morning, I was saying my morning prayers, and the electricity went off. This was right after Robbie left for work and before Lily woke up. I immediately thought, "Uh oh. That partial payment that we made on the electric bill didn't buy us any time." Then I thought that maybe it would come back on after a few minutes, because it did the same thing last week. Only it came back on after a few minutes. Thirty minutes later, I realized it wasn't coming back on. Because I just wasn't in a really good frame of mind for calling people to tell them I suck at life and can't pay my bill, I just texted Robbie and he said he would handle it. Being stuck in the house all day with no electricity really sucks. My mind just started reeling with all the things that I wouldn't be able to do that day. No Backyardigans for Lily. No laundry. No cooking. No a/c. All the food in our refrigerator was going to spoil after awhile. I had been so very careful to buy exactly what we needed for two weeks until Robbie got paid again, and it was all going to spoil. Our food money was gone, so if it spoils, then what? I just couldn't force myself to do anything but sit on the couch and worry. I was immobilized with worry. I felt like crying, running away, jumping out of a window, something, anything to get out of the situation. I contemplated jumping in my car with Lily and going home to my mama. But that wouldn't fix anything, and I don't want to leave Robbie here to deal with "the suck" all by himself. 

I'm not sure in what order everything happened after that. I think I situated Lily in her playpen with a bunch of toys, came in my room, curled up in a ball on my bed and moped for awhile. I know that accomplishes nothing, but sometimes I just need to mope and feel sad. I just need to go through it and get the moping out of my system. It sucks having the lights cut off, not really because the lights are cut off, although that in itself does kind of suck, but the feeling of "you suck at life" that washes over me when we're doing our best and it just doesn't work sometimes. 

And this isn't the first, or second, or even third, fourth or fifth time that I have been stuck at home and our lights have been cut off. Once that happens, we scramble to try to get the money together to pay the bill and get our lights turned back on. Sometimes we have to make a phone call to Mommy or Daddy or Father-in-law or someone to help us. Sometimes we shuffle things around and can come up with the money ourselves. Sometimes I have just gotten paid from flute lessons and need to make a bank run. I remember a couple of years ago, when I was newly pregnant with Lily and worried that I was experiencing a miscarriage, our lights got cut off. It was a scary moment in my life, and it was getting really hot in our apartment. I was home all by myself. Our lights had gotten cut off that morning, but I didn't know as I was at school that morning. When I got home, it was really hot in there. I called to pay the bill after shuffling some things around, and just waited. I didn't know how long it would take for them to turn the lights back on. I just went in my room, curled up on the bed, and moped and cried and prayed, "Heavenly Father, if I have to go through this (meaning the miscarriage), please at least let me have some light and some air." It was a really sad time for me. 

Thankfully, when the lights came back on, I breathed a sigh of relief. And the good news is that I wasn't experiencing a miscarriage, just some weird unexplained bleeding, and Lily was born safely, wonderfully and healthy seven months later. 

Since I am an overly emotional person, something like my lights getting turned off isn't a simple little problem that can be fixed really easily. My mind makes it into something bigger than it really is, because to me it is a bigger problem. My lights getting turned off isn't just the fact that I was late paying my bill, it's that this bill has to wait so we can pay that bill, or all the food that we have for the next two weeks is going to spoil and we have no money to get more. 

Since of course just merely calling and paying the bill once we got the money to pay for it isn't enough, I had to get my debit card declined. What? Yeah. So Robbie called the bank and they told him that there was some sort of security issue with the cards and the credit won't work. Debit will, but credit won't. And awesomely enough, our electric company doesn't have that option. So anyway, after awhile, I figured out how to pay the bill, and that got accomplished.

Now in the middle of all that, I went for a walk with Lily to the mailbox to see if we had received our new debit cards, since apparently they were mailed last week. Nothing of importance was in the mailbox, but Lily and I discovered it was gloriously beautiful outside. There was a wonderful breeze and the temperature was perfect. I decided when we were walking back that we would have a picnic. So we went inside, made some sandwiches that I cut up into quarters to make it fun, packed our little sock monkey Easter basket with goodies, grabbed a blanket, and headed back outside to have our picnic under a nice shade tree next to the pool. I loved it because the pool has a few fountains in it and I like the sound they make. It was wonderful to feel the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze against my skin. Sunshine really does wonders for my soul. I'm glad we were able to go outside. 

After we made it back to our apartment, we discovered that our electricity had been turned back on while we were outside enjoying the beautiful day. Yay! I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, and for some reason, I'm not really all that worried about having to live on next to nothing for the next week. At least not at the moment. 

There are a few reasons why I am sharing this less than flattering information about our family. First, I need to get this out of me. I can't keep this to myself. It makes me feel better to finally just reveal that I'm not the best at handling my challenges. I'm not happy and smiley all the time. I am hopelessly imperfect, and I just don't feel like putting on a happy face all the time. Second, I vented my frustrations on Twitter yesterday because I figured no one would really notice. But a few people did notice and seemed to appreciate that I dropped my facade and revealed that things get hard sometimes. I try to maintain this image that I am happy all the time, but that's just not true, or realistic. Maybe it is for some people, but I just can't do that. Sometimes I get mad, sad, discouraged and any other emotion besides happy. And I suppose I need to understand that just because I am feeling an emotion other than happy, it doesn't mean that I am a bad person, or that I lack faith, or fill in the blank with some other negative quality that I often accuse myself of having. Yesterday was just a crappy crappy day for the first half because ya know what? Sometimes people have crappy crappy days. Cuz like my title says, sometimes life ain't no picnic. And ya know what else? That's ok. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have ye received His image in your countenances?

First, I need to define what his image is in order to answer this. Mosiah 7:27 says that Christ would take upon Him the image of man, which is the same image after which man was created. So when it comes to my physical appearance, well, I suppose I look similar to Him. But do I look...Christlike? Do I portray the image of someone who is Christlike?

Alma 32:31 says, "every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness." I wanted to be a Christlike seed and grow and learn and be more like Him!

Sometimes people have the reputation of being Christlike and having lots of faith. They just embody it. They give off this special light that I would say is having the image of Christ in their countenances. Remember that General Conference talk "The Light in Their Eyes?"

If someone was meeting me for the first time, knowing nothing about me, would they see a light from my eyes? If asked to describe me, would they describe me using some of the same qualities Christ has? Do I look like a Christian? Do I look like someone who is truly working to be like Christ?

I don't think I have His image in my countenance. I used to, but I've lost it. I've gotten too bombarded with challenges. My faith has taken a beating. I've sinned. I am in the process of repenting, and it's a long, painful, scary, nerve-wracking journey back. In some cases I haven't sinned but made unwise choices. That's even more aggravating. At least when I sin, I feel like I deserve unpleasant consequences. When I don't sin, it's harder to understand.

I feel like my challenges and hardships are more visible in my countenance than the image of Christ. I'm not sure what I can do about that right now, but at this point, the purpose of this evaluation is to take an assessment of my current spiritual well-being. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to receive Him image in my countenance as I go along.

How about you? Have you received Him image in your countenance? What do you do to receive Him image in your countenance? How do you maintain that image even when life gets hard? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter Y'all!

One of my friends invited us to attend an Easter Egg Hunt at Discovery Green last week. It was Lily's and my first time to visit Discovery Green.

I think it was a little overwhelming for her to be around so many kids and needing to move so quickly to catch all the eggs. I was mostly worried that she would run off and get lost in the crowd. I tried to get her to smile but she was all seriousness.

At the end she started putting eggs in some of the other kids' baskets, and I thought that was really sweet. Always the generous little kid.

While we were waiting in line for the Easter Bunny, a woman actually did lose her kid. My heart just fell into my stomach. See? I'm not completely paranoid! It happens! They found him after what seemed like and hour but was really only about five or ten minutes.

After we took a smile-less picture with the Easter Bunny, we went with a few friends to play at the play ground. Lily discovered the splash pad while we were there and got soaked. I hope we can go back at some point and let her play in the splash pad with her swim suit on. We stayed and ate lunch and then went home. It was a fun day!

Easter morning I ended up playing the flute at the same Catholic Church in Houston that I played last year. I didn't understand a word of the mass, as it was in Vietnamese, but I enjoyed the music anyway. Here it is over 48 hours later and the music is still in my head. After the mass was over, I hurried to my church to enjoy Easter Sunday among my friends.

After we made it home and the sun started to set, I decided that I needed to have an Easter Sunday photo shoot with Lily. I'm no photographer, and all I have is my phone. We decided to just let her do her thing, snap about a thousand pictures, and then hope for the best. Who am I kidding? We tried posing her a little, but once I got a few posed pictures, we'd let her play around until we found a new place to pose her. It was a fun little photo shoot session/Easter egg hunt.

Robbie and I each took a picture that turned out to be two of my favorite pictures for this Easter. Mine is the next one, and Robbie's is the cute and adorable one at the end. Saving the best for last.

Happy Easter Y'all!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Having the image of God engraven upon your countenances

"Can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?" Alma 5:19

I am slowly but surely going through each of the questions in Alma Chapter 5 and searching my heart to find my answers to these questions. I have been writing my thoughts down in my Scripture Study Notebook, but I haven't had the opportunity to share everything on my blog yet. I do want to share all of my answers eventually. They're nothing amazing or profound or anything, but it's my blog, and I wanna share. So there!

This isn't the first time I have pondered the topic of "the image of God engraven" upon my countenance. I already have a much longer response written down, but I haven't been able to share it. Today my response was shorter, and then it seemed to change topics completely.

What I wrote:

"I surely hope that I have the image of God engraven upon my countenance when it is my time to meet Him. I'm not so sure with my gloomy and downtrodden and negative countenance anyone would actually see the image of God anywhere when looking at me now. Life is really hard, and I feel our burdens are really hard to carry. I feel really weighed down by them. I don't really understand the concept of giving it over to God. I'm sure He's already made them as light as they can be.

So as I am writing this, these words come to mind:

"'Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?'"

So it continues...

"'Count your many blessings; ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by."'

Sometimes I need a reminder to take a minute to ponder my blessings.

Sometimes I do take the time to ponder my blessings. I'm not always a Negative Nancy! Here are just a few examples in no particular order:

Lily's Birth

My friends who supported me during my breastfeeding journey

I know Heavenly Father loves me.


My friends who give a poo

My sweetie peetie husband

Angels among us

All those who have supported me on my doula journey

There are so many more!!! I have made list upon list upon list when I have needed to take the time to remind myself of my Heavenly Father's blessings for me. Every time I do this activity, I usually come up with over 100 blessings. No kidding!!!! I'll have to dig some of those old lists up and post them one day.

What are some of your blessings that you are thankful for? Do you ever feel that you sometimes need a reminder to count your blessings? Do you feel like the image of God is engraven upon your countenance?