Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Instinct and the Nanny Murders

I stumbled across the news of the nanny tragedy this past weekend and the sadness of it overwhelmed me.  So overwhelming that I found myself seeking out story after story about it.  I kept wanting to find any trace of "they saw it coming" or anything to help me think that this could have been prevented.  Not because I want the family to feel guilt for not seeing something coming -- that's the last thing I want for them.  But because selfishly, I need to know this couldn't ever happen to me or anyone I know.  There is something about shock tragedy that leaves me craving answers.  NEEDING answers.  It leaves me with an uneasy reminder that things happen we don't understand, will never understand, yet we have to find peace anyways. 

Through the massive amount of time I spent researching this sad story, I came across some different "expert" opinions.  One said that when hiring a nanny, parents should have them psychologically tested.  A week ago I would have laughed at this, but after reading the story, I found myself thinking, 'Amen Brother!' Yet, I know if I were hiring a nanny for Paisley, I would feel stupid, overprotective, or crazy for asking someone to be tested in this manner (I would be because she is a dog, but ignore that fact).  But why? Why should we feel dumb doing everything we can to protect the thing we love most?

When you are a teenager, you are your most precious possession.  But we got in the car with people we shouldn't have.  We went to parties with irresponsible friends.  We drank beverages handed to us by older guys.  All with the fear, that if we say "no" we will be outcasted, labeled uncool, never to recover from the humiliation.  This mindset followed us to college.  If I don't say I am okay with this, the sorority/frat won't have me, etc.  And then into our adulthood -- if I am an overprotective mom, no nanny will work for me.

Some of this is true.  They might think I am uncool, I might not get into the sorority, and I might get told "no" by a nanny -- but so what? At what cost are we sacrificing our instinct for our ego?

How many times do the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in a dark parking lot, yet embarrassed to go in and find a security guard, you walk to your car anyways? Often times nothing happens, and we get in our cars feeling relieved that we didn't sound the alarm for no reason.  However, it only takes one time.  Something could have been going on in that parking lot that we weren't aware of, it just didn't effect us this time.  Your body is uneasy and giving you an alert -- don't ignore it.

I don't think this story about the nanny should be ignored -- by anyone really -- especially those with children or who plan to have children someday.  It's a reminder that things are not always what they seem, and people will surprise you -- in good and bad ways.  Don't be afraid of hurting someone's feelings if you feel like a situation is shady.  Don't feel like you are rude if you call each and every reference a nanny provides to ask a million questions, put cameras in every corner, or pop home unexpectedly.  Do what it takes for you to find peace of mind with your decisions about who you hire.  After you have done your due diligence, you should feel comfortable with your choice.  And if you still don't, then look for another solution to your childcare dilemma.

Trust your instinct -- if something seems "off" it probably is.

Next Post: How to Trust Again

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh, hello freedom

It's a big day for me, y'all, because today is my
LAST DAY OF WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And no, I am not having a baby. 
Check back in 9 months.

JK.  Not having one then either.

There are not enough exclamation points to illustrate how I am feeling.  I can't think about it and not shriek -- Brian told me everything I said this morning was "inaudible".

Now before I get too ahead of myself, I should mention that today I start what I have affectionately nicknamed my maternity-leave-without-maternity.  I am taking a temporary leave of absence to re-prioritize, do some mission work, hang out with Bri, and remove myself from the constant travel. Come February, I will have some decisions to make, but in the meantime, I am basking in the glorious embrace of freedom.

I have been blessed to have my job -- on a pro/con list, there would be a million pros and only one con, stress.  It enabled us to travel when we wanted, get home whenever needed, learn a lot about frequent transition, and relocate with no issues to NY and AZ.  It allowed me to support us while Brian was a student and gave me confidence in a way that I didn't know I needed.  Before college, I always wanted to be a teacher, and in a lot of ways I still do.  But I had some fears of choosing that path immediately and what it would mean if I ever needed to support myself and a family on a single income.  Thus, I took the business road, and by process of elimination, concentrated on Supply Chain Mgmt.  I knew it was a long shot when I applied, but God had different plans and it is by His grace I got the job.

It has challenged me daily and given me a constant knot in my stomach, but I have learned so much about so many things, including myself, that I will always take away gratitude.  I hope that during my leave, I remember the good days over the bad ones.  That I remember the travel benefits over the missed flights.  And that I remember the people I loved and not those I didn't. 

Hello, Freedom!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Go-Karts and an Army Man

On my short flight from Greensboro to Charlotte Monday, I sat beside a twenty-something guy flying to Ohio for work.  He used the word "sucks" over 25 times before we were in the air.  He had not one positive thing to say the entire time he talked -- work sucked, traveling sucked, hotels sucked, long hours sucked, traffic sucked, exit ramps sucked.  Everything seemed to suck and none of it sounded like it mattered.

I nodded politely until I had my chance to pretend to fall asleep. 
Until he woke me up from my fake sleep to tell me more.
It was all I could do not to tell him that he sucked.

Listening to him got me thinking about how miserable it is to hear someone complain all the time.  Which made me realize, I have been doing my fair share recently about AZ. 

But I woke up yesterday, decided to fight off any negative thoughts about this place, and start making it feel more like Fall.  When it's 95 degrees out, it's easy to forget that it's October, but I am doing my best to embrace my favorite time of year.

Brian made it even better when he came home early from work and said we were going to do something fun.

Batting cage! My first time.  The helmet made me feel brave.

Then I dominated go-kart racing.  Brian says he won, but clearly we see who was at the front of the line.

There he is...my sweet, handsome loser.

Or maybe I came in after and went into that lane...I don't know.

50 cents and five minutes later...

I took home the grand prize of an army man :)
Thanks to my skills at winning water gun racing against only myself.

It was a fun little evening.
They won't all be like that, so I can't complain even on non-arcade Tuesdays.
But just waking up and making the decision to enjoy it here changed my whole perspective on the day.

How do you stop yourself from complaining?


Monday, October 15, 2012

Highs and Lows

My maternal grandfather, Papaw, passed last Wednesday morning.  And while we rejoiced in God’s grace and know His timing is perfect, it was hard to say goodbye to someone you have known for so long, and who was such a big part of your life, childhood, and who you are. 

He died peacefully, surrounded by family, love, prayers, and tears as he passed from this life into the next. 
We buried him two days later -- after a beautiful celebration of his life and the strong man he was.

Walter J Johnson, Jr.

I find life most exhausting when it is full of highs and lows.  Highs make life wonderful, lows make you appreciate the highs.  But the combination is a little like Meth -- a mixture that leaves your body and mind confused.

The past 10 days have been full of both.
It was a high to celebrate an anniversary.
It was a low to hear the news about my grandfather's health.
It was a high to arrive in time to say goodbye to him.
It was a low to see how the pain had transformed his body.
It was a high to gather in his room with family for hours, sharing stories and memories.
It was a low each time his breathing would stop.
It was a high to know he had joined his beloved wife, my grandmother.
Yet a low to know that meant he had left us here.
It was a high to celebrate my cousin's upcoming wedding.
And a low to see her tears.

Celebrations/sadness, sadness/celebrations -- that was the last week.
And it's that way sometimes, because life goes on, even through the tears.  We are called to find joy in times of sorrow.  We are called to find peace when life doesn't feel peaceful.

Papaw died 18 years to the day that my paternal grandfather passed.
He died 28 years to the day that I was born.
I heard multiple words that day as mom would share it with people --
Some said it was eerie, some said it was sweet. 
I appreciated all of it. 
I've never cared much about my birthday, but to be honest, it was a little "eerie" to me.
What was the significance of it and what was I to make of it?

My parents insisted on having a cake that night.
Mom went fishing in the candle drawer and came out with three -- a red, blue, and pink one.
How perfect.
One for Papa T, one for Papaw, and one for me.

Far more important than any earthly birthday, October 10th is their true day of birth in heaven.   
What an honor to share it with them -- two of the greatest men I will ever have the privilege of knowing.

Two men who raised my parents to be the remarkable people they are.
Two men who sacrificed a lot for their families and their country.
God’s timing is always perfect :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Friends,
If you have not seen it already, check out the best bride-to-bridesmaids email I have ever seen. 
And by best, I mean worst.

Dear Blog,
Just noticed all those tabs on you that I have never done anything with.

Dear NYC,
Thank you for welcoming us back the other weekend.  Thank you also for producing a man walking his cat on a leash in central park and then carrying in his satchel.


(I know what you're thinking and you're right, that's really Brian)

Dear Costco,
Iloveyouandwanttovisityoueveryday.  You are the best part about suburbia.

Dear Washer and Dryer,
I recant previous letter.  You are by far the best part about suburbia.

Dear Brian,
Thanks for a great anniversary! I know you are excited you get to celebrate me again in 5 days.
Hint Hint: diamond earrings.
JK, I really want a teapot.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Honeymoon Memories

Every October 4th, Brian and I watch our wedding video.  And every year I look forward to the private messages we recorded before the ceremony.
My favorite part is when Bri says, "I can't wait for the honeymoon."
So honest -- one of the things I love most about him.

Well, B, for me the honeymoon isn't over.  And I can honestly say, I wouldn't trade this plain old week of our marriage for the week we spent in paradise in 2008.

Because today...
I love you deeper.
Respect you greater.
And value your strength, beliefs, desires, and perseverance more than ever.
You make me more fun and keep me on my toes.
You don't accept mediocrity in any aspect of your life, and that makes me stronger, better, smarter, and more faithful.
You challenge me daily and I am a better person because of your encouragement and support.
I simply couldn't imagine life without you.

I love you more each and every day and it is an honor and a privilege to be your wife.

Happy 4th Anniversary.

A look back at the honeymoon...



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You Can't Change People...

We are already having issues with the company we rent our condo through.
Not to mention the fact it took 3 attempts to get it cleaned properly -- yes, I am a tough critic, but what can I say, I didn't want to put my dishes on the dead bug in the cabinet.
And now 4 weeks later, we are still trying to get a wall painted.
This wall looks like a mass murder took place.
I'm exaggerating a bit, because it isn't blood.
But if the paint were red, it would look that way.

And today I had to talk myself down from a ledge after a very rude response came back, weeks after multiple unreturned phone calls to the company.

My flaws and weaknesses are brought to my attention frequently.
But never more clearly than when I deal with difficult people.

I could feel Satan smiling and cheering for me as I read the email with rage and a series of expletives filled my head.
Not because it's paint. 
But because I get that way when I deal with customer service (you know, where the job is to serve the customer) and they aren't giving me what I want being nice.
This is a weakness.
Because anyone who saw my initial b**** reaction would certainly not think highly of me. 
They definitely would not have wanted to be my new friend (reference last week's post).
And I would have been a stumbling block in their path if this is how I respond as a christian.

This was on my mind a lot during the whole "support day" at Chic-Fil-A.
Did that day show love?
I would argue that the intent to support the restaurant's beliefs got lost in the shuffle of posts like, "Chic-Fil-A never tasted so good" and other comments that made me steer clear of the mob that day.

I think about this a lot.  Many times, too late.  After I have demonstrated bad behavior while sporting my cross necklace. 
Does this mean I should be fake and put on a front?
It means I should improve my actions.
More specifically, my REactions.
Because you cannot change people.  You can only change how you react to them.

All day long, I am challenged with this at work.  I struggle with how to respond -- to the angry client, unpleasant flight attendant, tired hotel clerk, etc.
The challenge follows me home -- to Brian, my family, my friends.
When all I really want to do is yell, it can be exhausting figuring out how to get my point across in a respectful manner.
And often times, all that comes across is my point with no respect. 
But if I start at the root, work on my thoughts, and change how I WANT to respond, my actual reaction will be a piece of cake.  And a much better piece at that :)

So let's stop condemning each other.
Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
Romans 14:13