Sunday, March 18, 2012

When God Stretches You

I love being comfortable.  As soon as I come home from school and work, the first thing I do is change clothes.  I grab my favorite jeans, a long-sleeve t-shirt (even in summer - we keep our house cool, and I'm cold-natured), and my fuzzy socks.  I like routine.  I like to know what's going to happen next.  I don't want to shake things up.  Sometimes, though, God needs to stretch me and move me into something new.  He's stretching me right now, and I've got to say, it's not easy.

If you saw my post last week, you know that we lost our beloved 13 year old Yorkie on Monday - we had to put her to sleep due to her failing health.  It was a hard week, a week of grief for our family, but by Thursday, I was starting to do pretty well.  Then Friday came, and my boss called me to her office, where I learned that I'm facing a huge challenge at work - either take a significant pay cut, or find another job.  After more than four years at my current job, which I truly love, I left the office reeling.  My husband and I are talking, thinking, and praying about what to do and where to go next.  I'm a planner - but this was definitely not in my plans.

I know that God has a purpose in all of this.  I know He has a reason.  I know He has it under control.  I'll admit, I wish I could see the next step.  I wish I could see where this is all leading.  Tomorrow I'll start back to school as spring break ends, and I'll head into another grueling eight weeks to finish out this semester.  I'll also be pulling paperwork together to apply for a huge scholarship being offered by the company I'm an independent sales rep for, Miche.  I will definitely be trying to make a decision about my job situation and where to go from here.  I was already stressed - now it feels like even more has been put on my shoulders.  I'm not sure how this is all going to work out or even how I'm going to balance it all.  I can only trust God to work it out for me.

I'm also asking for your prayers.  I need God's wisdom and guidance.  I also need His strength and comfort when this all feels like too much.  Keep my family in your prayers as well - this adds a lot of stress for them as well.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nothing Ever Stays the Same...

We're grieving this week.  Today my husband will take our 13 year old teacup Yorkie to our vet and have her put to sleep.  We'll say our final goodbyes to our old friend.  She was my husband's dog for a year and a half before we got married.  She's been with us through four houses (five counting the one my husband lived in before we got married), one apartment, one church gym, five cities, two states, two kids, two hurricane evacuations, and one actual hurricane.  She had enough adventures in her life to write a book on.  (It would be a really great book too...)  We've also made the decision that for now, it's not the time for us to have another pet.  For me, this will mark the first time in 23 years that I have not had a dog.
Mitsy in her younger, healthier days (summer 2010 - age 11)

Life is all about change.  Children grow, families move, jobs change, people - and pets - come and go.  I'm not good with change.  Even good change brings stress.  A sad change like the one we're going through brings a lot of grief and adjustment. 

I will mourn for Mitsy, the only pet our boys have ever known, but I'm also mourning the end of an era for us - we've been married 11 1/2 years, and the babies that our dog saw us bring home are growing up.  Right now we're marking the end of Mitsy's life.  Soon we'll mark the end of homeschooling, as our boys will (hopefully) begin private school in the fall of 2013, just over a year away.  Then we'll mark their graduations, the boys going to college and moving all goes by too quickly. 

Nothing ever stays the now it's time to mourn, but it's also time to lift my head and embrace the next season that this life brings.  Nothing ever stays the same...but God brings new blessings, new opportunities, and new seasons of life.  If you would, say a prayer for my family this week as we adjust to this new season. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Me I'd Almost Forgotten

I spent Saturday morning with a tall, dark and handsome guy.  He's the kind of guy I dreamed about as a kid.  He's kind of a rebel.  He has an attitude sometimes.  We spent part of the morning arguing (he can be incredibly stubborn), but the rest of the day was awesome.  Spending time with him was a great way to destress.  I felt so much better when I left him (although I wish I could see him more) and headed home to my family.  I even have pictures...

Me and Scout, my favorite horse at the riding therapy program I volunteer with

I love horses.  I've been in love with them since I was a little girl and first realized what a horse was.  I started riding when I was 12, got my own horse when I was 14, and sold her when I was 21, after I married my husband.  Many of my best childhood memories are from those years with my horse, Dutchess.  I miss horseback riding (although I still go whenever I get a chance, its rare now), grooming, feeding, even the smell of horses.  (Horse people - you'll understand.  Everyone else - I know you think I'm crazy, but it's okay, it's normal to horse lovers.)

Saturday morning was incredible!  I love volunteering with my friend Katie at her riding therapy program.  It gives me a chance to be me - the real me, deep down, who almost got pushed aside when I grew up, got married, had kids, and started working.  Sometimes life comes along, and it pushes us away from our passions and dreams.  But I don't want to forget my passion.  I want to hang on to that dream.  One day, when I'm done with school and my kids get older and life settles down a little, I want to have horses again.  I want to live that part of my dreams again.

People know me as a lot of different things - wife, mom, Curves manager, student, future dental hygienist, Miche rep, and more.  But for a few hours Saturday, I was me.  Amanda, just Amanda, the horse-crazy kid who grew to still find some of her greatest joy with horses.  I left the barn at noon, dirty, tired, and delirously happy - dirty boots and all.  What a way to spend a weekend.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Staying Focused

     Feed your body often.  Eat five small meals a day.  Make sure you have healthy snacks between meals.  As a fitness coach and gym manager, I’ve taught these ideas for years.  It makes sense – you want to keep your blood sugar level and keep your body feeling its best all day.  One huge meal one time a day isn’t enough to keep you satisfied all day long.  But when it comes to our time with God, that’s exactly what many of us expect to do... can check out the rest of my post at Must Love God today!