Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shifting Tide

Photo credit: Lynne Holder (c)2012

A couple days ago, I felt a familiar tug at the core of my being--what I know as an impending shift. It's an intuitive hit that comes in advance of something changing.

Much like the ocean, life is made up of ebb and flow. Leland and I have been in low tide, financially, for a couple years. At the same time, I have felt the ebbing tide of American society; a steady decline in the level of morality, civility, and the foundation upon which this country was founded.

In a short 2 days, I feel this shift--the tide, if you will--coming in. Life is flowing. Somehow, I believe this is our season to see answered prayers. As for the country, and humanity in general, I can't say the same thing.

Please hear me:

I have never been, and never will claim to be, perfect. Far from it, I am flawed, learning, and seeking to be a better me.

What I will own is the label, "Idealist," which fuels the other part of who I am at my core, "Dreamer." If you aren't one of these two, count yourself fortunate. Why? Because if you were, you would most likely be disappointed with how things are far from idealistic. The realist and the pragmatist laugh at you and your silly, immature self.

Guess what. You, Idealistic Dreamer, don't need the world. In reality, the world needs you, but the world does not see it.

The "global community" the internet full of ever growing social media outlets has created, is nothing more than a planet full of disconnected narcissists (guilty hand raised). What concerns people is largely limited to the speck that is self at the nucleus, and a small orbit of people around the center of this little, individual universe. We are all orbiting around each other, never really touching, never really knowing one another, but calling each other "friends."

I began blogging here in November, 2010. I think I will end blogging here, in March, 2013. I'm going old school--journal and pen. I prefer going old school relationally, too--actual face-to-face, authentic friendships. That is the definition of community, after all.

Touching. Bumping into others. Messy as it sounds, it is, after all, ideal.

It's all part of the shift, and this Dreamer's journey. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Try Putting This In QuickBooks

I finished the accounting for the attorney. Let's just say, it's humbling.

My husband and I have nothing of material value. Our home, furniture, car, and most of our clothes, are outdated. Even though we are grateful we are living indoors, have something to sit on, drive from point A to point B in, and keep us from public indecency, we care nothing for any of it.

If you own a lot of stuff, you're considered "rich." Actually, if we're real here, you don't own stuff, it owns you, if you think of all the effort that goes into paying for it, protecting it, maintaining it, and stressing over losing it. We have none of those worries.

I'll tell you what I do have--well, I have them, and I don't. I cherish them, but have to hold them loosely. And while there is no price you could place upon them, having them makes me staggeringly wealthy.

My family. Here is the lineup from first-born to last (but hardly, least):

Daughter, Jennifer, her husband, Jon Michael, and their daughter, Kate (aka Kate the Great).
Jennifer is, proudly, a stay-at-home Mom; the toughest job in the world. I know firsthand, she's doing a great job. Now that Kate is nearing 4 years old, Jen is moving back into the organizing business she enjoyed, pre-Kate. She is, no exaggeration, a multi-talented genius, and is wise for her years. She's crafty. Wait, I mean she's really good at crafts. Quick-witted, with a razor sharp sense of humor, I am no match for her. Her brother will take her on though.

A family event--Jon's first marathon

 Jon Michael is a civil engineer, extraordinaire. He knows everything there is to know about concrete. He is also the youngest partner in his firm. He runs marathons, and now, possibly triathlons. He's a wonderful father to Kate. He gets up at dark:30 am and gets home at dark:30 pm (except in summer). Another genius. A man of few words, in complete command of both sides of his brain, he's really got an eye for photography. He's a tall, handsome guy. He looks completely at home on a motorcycle. He can wire a house. I'm pretty sure that means he can fix anything.
Tinkerbell--never a more perfect fairy
Kate. What can I say? She is adorable, has always been off-the-charts tall, and says the most incredible things. For example, in the aftermath of a huge Christmas snowfall, she was out playing with her parents. While talking to her dad, she was videotaped trying unsuccessfully to make snowballs with the dry powdery stuff, and saying, "If you want to make a snowman you have to wet the snow." Another genius. She loves her friends and her dog (Hershey), has a most generous heart (thanks to her parents), and she loves to dance.

Daughter, Alison, and her husband, Chris, and their first child on the way, Claire Elizabeth.
Ali is an RN who works 12-hour shifts in a hospital PACU. From her first day on the planet she has been the most sweet, gentle spirit I've known. She loves Pottery Barn. And martinis (not while incubating cuteness). When she calls me, I answer the phone and hear, "Mutti!" (a hold-over from high school German class.) Like her mother, she's an idealist and she worries too much. A loyal friend, generous, other-centered. I love her easy laugh and upbeat outlook. You have to love her or there's something wrong with you.

Chris works at a business and financial data company. He is, at his core, an artist. He throws beautiful pottery and has created the most amazing pieces of art furniture (or is it furniture art?). He is quiet, easy-going, and laughs easily. Inside that quiet exterior is a thinker. He loves golf. He's athletic. He's cute. He can fix anything. And he's totally into being a father. Chris and Ali have a fur-kid, Sophie, who better dial down the bark if she wants to stay at home after Claire is born.

Son, Justin, and his wife, Natasha. They have a fur-kid--Braxton, the cockapoo.
Justin is a Physician Assistant at a bariatric and general surgery practice. He works as many hours (maybe more) than his supervising physician and he loves what he does. He has brains AND common sense, has an incredible work ethic, and knows how to chill out with the best of them. I love his sense of humor. He can imitate any accent. He knows movie lines from childhood to adulthood and inserts them into conversations at just the right time. He loves golf. He's athletic. He's cute. And Chris can help him fix anything. Put Justin and Jen in a room together and enjoy the entertainment.

At Laurie & Ross's wedding

Natasha (or as we call her, Tasha), is a Nurse Practitioner in a coronary intensive care unit. She also has an incredible work ethic, working most days well beyond her scheduled 12-hour shift. Like her husband, she can work 7 days in a row (I'm tired thinking about it) and then relax into her days off. She makes it look easy, but I know it's extremely stressful work caring for such sick patients. She loves what she does. She has a huge heart for people. She's cute. Stand back when she gets out the pressure washer and the riding mower. She loves my son. She appreciates small deal for a mother-in-law. 'Nuff said.

Daughter, Laurie, and her husband, Ross. The Newlyweds! No fur-kids, or actual kids, yet. They were married on October 20th, in a beautiful ceremony on a beautiful horse farm in beautiful Northwest Virginia.
Laurie is a CPA and she loves tax. What? The way she puts it, "Different talents and passions for our unique contributions to the world." You can't argue with that. As with all the other people in this bunch, we have another genius. Sailing through school, college, and a Master's degree, she stuns me with her intelligence and the beautiful woman she has grown to be. An independent girl from the start, she is fearless. Also heard saying, "Mutti!" when answering her call. What's the downside? She's too darn far away for me. And tax season makes her MIA. That work ethic thing.

Ross is a hopeless romantic. I love that about him. Ross is Laurie's Starbuck's crush. They met when he was Assistant Manager of the store Laurie frequented on her way to work as Senior Accountant of an area church.  He is now Manager, but of a different Starbuck's. He works long hours...another one with a strong work ethic. He is incredibly sweet and gentle. He smiles a lot. He adores my daughter. I only met him 11 months ago, after they were engaged, and I hope to get to know him better. Ahem....move south.

And then, there's this guy I met in 2007. We were married 3 years later.
Snowy, happy wedding day, 2/13/10

Look at that. More love to add to the already overflowing cup. Leland loves big. He is my best friend. When we married and promised each other, "for better or worse, for richer or poorer," we had no idea how worse and poorer we were going to get. But the bottom line is, and I don't care how cliche is sounds, we have each other to hold onto. When we married, our purpose was to honor God, serve together, and trust him to enrich and prosper our lives. We're taking the circuitous route, but we're following God's lead, trusting he's with us always and loves us unconditionally. I won't lie--we hurt together. Better than by yourself.

Since taking stock of all things worldly--possessions and finances--I've realized how deep the hole is we presently find ourselves in, and from this perspective, I'm empty-handed. As a result, I found myself taking stock of what's left, and asking,

"What can't be taken away from me?"

The answer:
  1. These people. They are forever with me. Being Mom to my children is the one and only job I've had that has eternal value. And my connection to my husband will never die. We are kindred spirits.
  2. These promises: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.--Romans 8:38-39; And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. --Matthew 28:20
It's all a matter of perspective, which all this accounting has given me. A very tough, but necessary lesson.

I get it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The God Of Angel Armies

Here is the update on our financial state of affairs. It's simple. As much as it pains me to say this, we have done everything we can and it is now time to face our only alternative: Bankruptcy.

We have cut as much as we can cut from our living expenses, I accepted the offer from the only employer that would hire me, our photography bookings have increased, and still, it has not been enough to prevent this decision.

Bankruptcy has proven to be complicated, which we did not expect. We're torn between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and the legal advice has proven to be more confusing in the decision making process than helpful.

Yesterday saw an epic meltdown on my part. Weary, beaten, and beyond the ability to make an informed decision, I declared I had had enough. I regretted being born, I regretted my life, I apologized to my husband for the suffering in our marriage, and I had no hope for my (our) future. I knew I was doomed to the worst of all fates the world could bestow upon me--creditors, bankruptcy trustee, the courts, the IRS, my own heartless brother (trustee of my father's trust fund) who declared to me that my financial problems were none of his concern. I felt like Job in that moment: hopeless, at the end of myself, and questioning everything.

I fell asleep last night, after midnight, but something happened as I slept. I don't know what it was, or where I had been, but I woke this morning with one thing on my consciousness--a song. This one portion of the song and lyrics played in my head like an audio loop as I awoke:

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The song was familiar, but still, I had to Google those lyrics to learn where it came from. It was written by Chris Tomlin, and is titled, Whom Shall I Fear.

Here is the story behind the genesis of the song:

What I experienced last night, and as I awoke this morning, is a gift from the God of angel armies, telling me that nothing formed against me will stand.

He is faithful. Whom shall I fear? The God of angel armies is always by my side.