June 23, 2013

When You Don't Have a Boss, You Still Belong to Someone

The sermon at church today was actually entitled  "When Your Boss is a Jerk."  It was a great sermon, and I love learning how to have a biblical perspective on everything, including a jerky boss... but for the first time in almost ten years of marriage, Tom and I looked at each other and realized that neither of us really have a boss anymore.

On Monday, we found out that Tom has lost his job.

In my last post I mentioned that his school was cutting back, and we knew there was some risk that he would be laid off... but, I honestly did not think he would be.  Tom has worked (very hard) for nine years at the same job, regularly moving up the ladder and taking on more responsibility, often for no increase in pay.  He has always received excellent feedback on his evaluations, maintained great work relationships and was in the process of making plans for next year with one of his superiors.  So, we were feeling pretty secure.  Until Monday.

Because Tom works from home, we have slowly been hit with different realities about how this job loss will effect us.  Here are just some...

  • We lose our sole income.  While I have always tried to do a little something part-time, I do not work outside the home for a number of reasons.  The biggest being that I genuinely love being home with them, and we decided early on that if there was any possible way for us to live on one income so that I could be home with them full-time, we would do it.  Logistically, it makes sense for me to be home since I would have to make so much money in order to pay for childcare for five kids... and what's the point in making a ton of money, just to end up giving it to someone else for taking care of my kids when I can just take care of them (and love it) for free.  I don't really have any skills that are marketable enough to expect to earn money to cover childcare, let alone to earn more than that.  I would consider a temporary gig, if it were sayyyy... going on tour with inspirational speakers or something.  But even that, I would only consider it if I didn't have to try to guilt women into buying diet pills, because the last time I went to an inspirational conference-type-thing for women, all the speakers were pressuring women to buy these diet pills and I vowed never to attend something like that again.  But, I guess under the circumstances I might consider being a pill pushin' inspiration.... but only because it's short-term. 
  • We lose all the home-based work benefits.  Our home phone, Tom's cell phone, our internet, computer, printer, fax machine, a portion of our mortgage and utilities are all considered work expenses because he has worked from home.  We will have to return those things that we have been using for years, and searching for a new job without a phone, computer and/or internet is not exactly possible... so despite this being a time where we will certainly have to cut out all extra expenses, we actually have to start some paying new bills.  The good news is that I have my tippy-tappy (which is what I have named my computer) and I am a very good sharer.  I think that Tom is really excited about doing his job search on my laptop the size of a postage stamp.  Probably the most depressing moment when Tom got laid off is that they called him on his work cell, which is a Blackberry from the 1800's, and when he hung up, the "s" key fell off his phone and rolled down his leg.  At least he isn't sending a good phone back... if they want the very first cellular device ever created, then they can have it.
  • We have to find a new job.  I know this is obvious.  I'm still processing, okay.  Finding a new job is a really big undertaking, especially if we want to support a family of SEVEN.  This means we have to make connections, ya know, network.  We gotta be shakin' hands and chit-chattin' around.  This feels really savvy and grown up, and I don't know if Tom will ever be the kind of guy who "just wants to get his name out there" which I am perfectly fine with because guys like that usually annoy me.  But, right now, we gotta get his name out there.  So, for anyone with any connections... his name is Tom, and we'd really like to get that right out there as quickly as possible.
  • I have to be an extra good wife.  Don't get me wrong, I should always be a good wife... but when your man loses his job, there is this extra pressure to be super supportive and wonderful.  I don't even know what this "wonderful" is that they speak of, but according to many Google searches, I think I'm doing okay with "supporting my spouse during the ups and downs of unemployment."  I'm pretty sure there is a lot of patting involved, and I am very committed to patting as often as possible.  
  • We have to live out all the stuff I write about on here. (Insert dry heaving.)  We have had a rough year, and I have come from some rough stuff even before this year and I have been very open about my struggles on this blog.  So, it comes as no surprise to regular readers when I say that we love Jesus.  I have openly shared our belief in Jesus and I have even shared my UNBELIEF during some really dark moments. (Like, remember that time when London was in the hospital and I said that I would probably turn to street drugs if anything happened to her?  Ya know, low points like that.)  I try to be honest and real about my struggling through this life, while trying to cling to faith in a God who promises to know and see and care.  One thing I took from today's sermon was about resisting the temptation to find our identity in our work.  I realized that our identity, and our security, comes from our Father, so it is not about what job Tom gets, or even about what job I may end up doing for a while... it's not about what we DO that provides for us, but who we BELONG to.  The reality is that if I really believe that God is my father and my provider and I am his daughter... then I have a big, fat inheritance waiting for me.  And if I believed that to be true, then I wouldn't be so worried about what this life looks like right?  Right.  The truth is that I just don't know what faith actually looks like in this situation, but I am gonna Google that too, and I am going to fight really hard to live out all the stuff I write about on here.  

So there you have it.  We are beginning the adventures of unemployment.  I am hoping that this is a very brief journey and that something will come through for us quicker than we expect and that it is such a perfect fit for Tom and our family that it blows our minds.  In the meantime, please pray for us as we make all the necessary changes and sacrifices that need to be made, and that the kids will learn valuable lessons during this time.  (Annalee already suggested we make feedsack dresses and sell eggs like they did during the great depression.)  Please pray that it never comes to that, and also pray for Tom, that he never doubts his competence or his ability to provide for his family, that he would know how proud we are of him and how much we respect and appreciate all of the years he has worked so hard to provide for us.  Pray also for my inexplicable urge to smash my neighbors car windows with a shovel.  I suspect there is a little displaced anger happening in that situation, but I can't exactly say for sure.  Finally, please pray that you will hire Tom.  Thank you and God speed. 

June 14, 2013

Moving Forward

Sometimes there is so much happening in my life at one time, that I give my blog the cold shoulder.  It's like hitting "ignore" when a long distance friend calls... not because you don't want to talk to her, but because you can't possibly talk to her until you have two solid hours to actually fill each other in on everything going on.

So, here we are, more than a month since my last post, and a lot has gone down.

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who offered prayers and condolences while Grandpa Anderson (or Papa as he is known by our kids) has suffered from pancreatic cancer, been in hospice and finally, went home to be with his own Papa in heaven.  We felt loved and supported by so many who prayed for our family and came to his funeral to celebrate his life alongside our family.  It has been a long few months watching Papa change into a shadow of himself, but up to the very end he made sure that all the kids had plenty of love, hugs, laughs and treats from Papa's candy bin.

Grandpa's diagnosis came shortly after we brought Jaylen home, so the whole family has been living this parallel life... going from appointment to appointment, test result to test result, and admittedly, from worry to worry.  It has been a very challenging season for all of us.

As far as Jaylen's health is concerned, I am so happy to report that he is doing wonderfully.  He is still considered developmentally delayed, but he is doing exponentially better than he was.  The unresolved issues that he seems to be facing are not at all detectable to an untrained eye.  His muscle tone is still more rigid than it should be, and the default position for his thumbs remains that they are typically indwelling, or sort of tucked in more than they should be.  Both of these things have improved considerably over the past couple of weeks, though, so I am rejoicing in each developmental step that he reaches.  He is rolling over, and holding his chest off the floor, and even seems very close to creeping and crawling soon.... I guess having rigid muscles isn't all bad.  (I've been working very hard to get a little rigidity to my tone, but that isn't working out as well.)

On the hearing front, Jaylen seems to be in the same place.  He is still not responding as a hearing child would, but not entirely as if he were profoundly deaf either.  After wanting a second opinion, and receiving mixed reviews about the results of his Audio Brainstem Response test, the audiologist has decided to repeat the test, hoping for more accuracy now that he is a little older.  That will be in July, the same week that he will have his brain MRI.  Hopefully the two results combined will give us a clear picture of his neurodevelopment as well as the status on his hearing.  In the meantime, the county is sending a physical therapist and a T.O.D. (teacher of the deaf) to the house once a week.  This will help equip us in learning sign language if we need to, as well as give us tools for teaching Jaylen how to communicate.

As if all this weren't enough to keep our minds perpetually occupied, we have also learned that Tom's job situation is a little shaky.  The school he works for has been forced to make a lot of cuts, and we are  waiting for the ax  trusting that the Lord will provide for all our needs and are  absolutely terrified  excited to see what He has in store for us.

The best news that I've got going for me is that Jaylen is doing much better, and he is seriously cuter than all the other babies on planet earth.  Because he is improving, my average of 3-4 appointments/week is now down to maybe 1 per week... which is much better.  Additionally, we finally received a Medicaid number for Jaylen, so the medical bills that are piling up (literally, not figuratively - they are in an actual pile) should all be retroactively paid.  The last time I felt this relieved was when I finally wiggled myself out of a dress that I had stuffed myself into and got stuck in at Marshall's.  Sweet, sweet relief.

In other news, I turned 32 which means I am two years into my mission of becoming fabulous in my 30's.  I have plenty of time left people, so don't panic.  I will be fabulous in the next 8 years.  And then I will buy bedroom furniture... obviously.  I re-read a post that I wrote exactly one year ago today... it was shocking how much has changed, and in some ways, how little.  I feel like I am in a constant state of two steps forward and one step back, and for a long time I settled for that because "Hey! That's progress."  But, I am learning to take those steps back a lot more seriously because they are usually steps caused by self-deception, or laziness, or excuses, or compromise or just plain sin.  I have new standards, where I no longer tolerate myself blatantly taking a step backwards, because life is one slippery slope and this girl just doesn't have enough traction under me where I can afford to excuse even the smallest amount of backsliding.

So there you have it... I haven't come too far in the past two years, but I still care, so that's something.  It's been a big year for our family, hard and good and heartbreaking and beautiful.  We have grown as a family, both in numbers and in faith, and we have learned an unbelievable amount about how God truly does provide.  This past year he has provided us with the strength to move through the first failed adoption, and then provide us with the perfect child for our family.  He has provided us with a group of new and developing friendships, and He has provided for us in so many ways through our friends and church family.  He has provided us with a strong family support who has helped us this past year in more ways that we could describe.

I think that His provision over the past year has proved that He is worth trusting, even during the uncertainty we are facing now with Tom's job.  I think He is worth trusting, and He is definitely worth honoring with as many struggling steps forward as I can possibly muster.  I don't care how small or pathetic they are, as long as I am always moving forward.  After the year we've had, I can't think of anything worse than letting myself go backwards, or God forbid, stop moving altogether.

 In Loving Memory...