Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Debate This.

                 I woke up this Morning, reaching for my phone, sure that it was just about time to wake up. Clicked on my phone; 2:50 am. 
                 Awesome. I still had about four and a half hours to sleep. First, I went to the bathroom- scaring my Husband who hadn't heard me mumble, "Going to the bathroom"- and was not expecting a dark silhouette to come towards him as he rolled over. (History tells us that if I don't attempt to warn Kyle that I'm leaving the bed for one reason or another, he will most likely jump, gasp, or yell at some point...scaring us both.) 
                I get back to bed and of course- I can't fall asleep. Instead, I get an unexplained stomach ache and lay in an odd, crumpled position trying to ensure that my kitty, Moneypenny, is comfortable under the covers and nestled into the crook of my arm. 
                Even worse though is my over active mind. If you have one- you get it. I'm always baffled that people can successfully shut off their minds. Willing themselves to just close their eyes and sleep. Amazing!
                 Instead though, I just reel the same thoughts over and over about all of the Political discussions I had read and heard about early in the day. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, "I should just write a blog post about this." Generally speaking, I try to stay out of Politics. Especially when social media is the platform. But I told myself that if school was cancelled today- I'd write the post.
                 So, here I am.

               This isn't so much about Politics and my opinions of them- but more- my thoughts on how people tend to communicate their thoughts and feelings. I think that a lot of people confuse passion and obligation with trampling anyone in their way, regardless of who they are and sometimes even what they're talking about, to make their opinions known or to win an argument.
                That's. Not. Cool.
                It's never been cool to hurt people's feelings to hammer home your point. It doesn't matter if someone may be more sensitive or emotional than you are, it doesn't matter that someone may have leanings towards a different Political party than you, it doesn't matter that what you're trying to get across may personally affect you or someone you know. Don't be a jerk about it. There's no need.
                I respect and admire people who can have a discussion about something over social media- and not come across as aggressive and belittling. 
                I don't like it when people start the name calling. I mean, do you really think that calling someone a bigot or an idiot or piece of crap is going to help them see your point? Absolutely not. It'll either make you look like a jerk, make the person you're talking to feel awful, or it'll just take away from your message. None of those things are good, in case you were unsure. 
               I've often seen people say things like, "Well, I don't care how they feel about what I say!" or "I really could care less that I've hurt their feelings." or "They deserve it for thinking that way!" I mean, the second you have that mindset- you've lost what you're even fighting for.  Again, not a good thing.
               I'm going to assume that if you're sharing a Political post (or opinion on someone else's post) on social media that you're well aware that people are going to react. There will be people that validate you by having the same opinion. There will be people who are vehemently opposing your view. There will be people who "laugh" at something that you think is important. If you can't handle opposition- don't share the post. If you can't communicate in a respectful way so that no-one feels attacked or misunderstood- don't share the post. 
              Most of you know that I'm pretty conservative in most avenues of my life- that's me and I'm totally fine with it. But I have a lot of acquaintances and even close friends who are much more liberal and we just do not agree on things. The relationships that are genuine are the ones where we don't necessarily agree on every issue out there but we respect each other by listening and communicating thoughtfully.

              I really don't understand why people don't think other people's feelings are important- just because they don't mirror their own opinions and values. I've personally been bullied over social media because of my personal convictions...and it sucks. It just does. It hurts. I cried. I felt misunderstood. And you know what? I'm really not in the business of making other people feel that way just to prove a point.

             Just like I think it's pretty ridiculous to call someone a homophobic bigot, I think it's equally ridiculous that people can go off on someone and then finish with, "I'll pray for you."

             Friends, you can't do that. Don't be that person. Yes! Pray for them. But don't shout that they're going to hell and belittle their opinions and mock their feelings- and then close it out with a "God bless you." It won't work. It won't help. It won't encourage them. It will hurt them, instead.

             I personally tend to share posts about animal neglect or abuse. It's something that I really care about and want to regularly keep others informed that animals need us too. Yes, there are a million other causes that are important and that you should stand behind, but this is the one that tugs at my heart strings. This being said- I can get pretty firy about it. And I'm sure there have been times when I unintentionally pointed a finger or generalized a group of people- and I'm sorry for that if something is coming to your mind. It's never, ever my intention to hurt other people. If I've hurt you and either never knew or never apologized- let me know. Send me a message. 

             I want people to understand that you can't hear tone on social media. I think often times, people tune out how they're hurting their cause or hurting other people by name calling and just spitting profanities like it's nothing. If I see that your post is creating drama by the way you're speaking to other commentors - I move on. And I won't be the only one that will pass by your post because it turns into a drama fest instead. If your heart is in what you're sharing and you actually care about it- be polite. Be respectful. Communicate thoughtfully. Because yes, that person that you knew in high school but haven't talked to in ten years? Their feelings and opinions matter. And yes, that person that you met one time in passing that somehow ended up on your friend's list? Their feelings and opinions matter.

             If you don't care what people think about what you share and if you don't care that they disagree with you- then why are you even sharing it? Why are you calling them names? Why are you bashing their views to make yours seem more valid? Didn't you post it because you wanted to inform people? To let them know what's going on and why it's important? And if by the end of that well-written conversation you don't agree? Move on, respectfully.
             Social media and politics don't have to be all bad. You definitely have a hand in that. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Apartment Living (and a few other random bits)

Yesterday it was blustery- Mom and I were on our way home from visiting my younger Sister and we counted 4 or 5 vehicles in the ditches along the way. Today though, it's as if no snow had come at all and the sun is shining through the windows. Thankful for that.

I have Charles Trenet radio going on Pandora- if you know me at all (or at least receive Snapchats from me!) you know that this is the station I listen to when I want to get things done. Cooking dinner, writing, cleaning. It's just kind of....whimsy and fun. And makes me feel like I'm actually somewhere in France, which, I can deal with. 

Quick life update- Kyle has started a new job. Yes, you did read that right. If I'm honest, I'm not sure this job is "the one" yet, either, but I'm hopeful. When you've done one job for 10+ years....figuring out what else suits you is HARD. The guy is a natural with interviews & he's a hard worker- so I know he'll find the right position. 
I'm still looking for work- I've applied for about 25 Nanny positions. I recently had learned that the site I have been using for years, now requires that either you or the Family pay for a subscription- otherwise you can't exchange emails. So....I wasted a bit of time. Thankfully, I've been receiving emails finally and things are looking up. I had thought I snagged an interesting opportunity for an interview this weekend, but in a quick 24 hour period it fell through. Bummer.
Aside from hunting for Nanny jobs (also, let me throw out there... some have inquired as to why I'm not looking for something outside of Nannying...which I'm open to! But I want to do something I'll at least like a little, you know? Again with the whole...this is what I've been doing for 10+ years thing.)- I think I may actually attempt writing that children's book I've been thinking about for the last several years. I don't really have a time frame for when I want it to be done, things are just too all over the place right now, but I do have some fun ideas rolling around. It will of course have to include some animals :) Would it really be a book by me if it didn't?! 

But onto the reason you're probably reading this blog post!

Our apartment.
It's a small space and so I only include a few before/after photos- but we're happy with the way things are coming together. It's seemed like a theme for us, but our spare room/guest room is always a work in progress. It's kind of an "everything" space. I would LOVE to find a small desk to put in there so that when I do write, whether working on the book, a blog post, or writing cards...I have a special space to do those things- instead of my current situation, plopping down on the couch.

I was super skeptical about moving back into an apartment. Especially an apartment building- our first apartment together was the bottom level of a remodeled home and we were the only tenants. Plus, we're 30 years old. Aren't we supposed to be soaking up home-ownership and creating a magazine worthy space whilst raising our 4 perfect children?

The answer to that question is- No. I've surprised myself at how much I've loved our little space. Admittedly, I would like more space in the kitchen for sure. But I'm digging the fact that we have SO much less maintenance. The home we had bought in CT was our desperate attempt at some freedom. Our landlord was bothersome and we wanted to adopt more pets and make our home OUR'S without having to consult with someone else first. But it was difficult and lacked a lot of what we had told ourselves we wanted in the beginning. (open floor plan, at least one garage, finished basement....none of which were included)

  We're not sure how long we'll be here- maybe till the end of the year? Maybe an additional 6 months to a year? Our dream is to build a home, but I have no idea how realistic that is. BUT. I'm trying to soak up this place. And this time in our lives. Decorating the space we have, minimally, and working on paying down youth-debt, I call it. 

      Overall, our apartment is cozy and clean, which is basically what my goal is for any space we live in. We love that we can leave our apartment sans car and go on a nice walk down pretty neighborhoods, over to the library, the movie theater, or downtown for a coffee and a little shopping. 
There will be a local business sharing our building in the next couple of weeks and that should be interesting. Additionally, management would like to add some restaurants, possibly a gym, or retail spaces to the lower level of our building. For now though, it's quiet with only 11 or so other apartments- which we kind of love. 

So, if you're partial to an air mattress- come visit! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2018


       It's a chilly, overcast day here in Michigan with epic amounts of heavy rain threatening to overflow all of the little rivers and lakes in our area. Still, I have a few of our apartment windows cracked open so that I get a little breeze and that soothing "tapping" that only raindrops can provide.
       It's been nearly a year since my last post, I'm sure you aren't that surprised. These days, my posts are few and far between- posting only when I have something important to share. I had really wanted to write a post honoring our sweet kitty, Bubba, who had passed away last January. But I never felt like I had words that were sufficient enough- and so outside of mustering up enough to write the last post on our home selling- this space has been left untouched. Until now!
       I turned 30 this past Friday.
     Hi, I'm Amanda. And I'm 30 years old.
      When did I get to this point in my life?? I really do understand how everyone says that time flies. One minute, you're an awkward 16 year old kid trying to survive High School and the're 30 years old, trying to survive the battles of adulthood.
        When the clock struck Midnight and it was officially February 23rd- my heart fell into my stomach and I shed a couple of tears. Kyle put his arm around me and assured me that there was nothing to be sad about.
         Truth be told, my life is nothing like I had thought it would be at this point. I don't have a career in photography or journalism and I don't even have 1 of the 4 children I had imagined. I never thought that *I* would experience depression or travel the incredibly rough roads of anxiety.
         I've been struggling so much with my purpose. You probably wouldn't know it looking at me- but I just don't know where I fit in life at the moment. It's caused some tears, some self-pity, and some soul searching.
         I'm going to go ahead and say this, although it makes me cringe at what other's may think.
         I'm content.
         I'm content being unemployed and childless. I'm incredibly happy to be living in this adorable apartment with my Husband of nearly 9 years and our precious kitty, Moneypenny. I'm happy to be growing closer to the Lord and attending a supportive Church that's working hard to let God do big things.
         So let me make sure you understand- It would be nice bringing in some money. I would absolutely love any and all little ones, if I had any. But, I love it when my Husband comes home and can vent to me about his day. I can prepare a good meal for him. And I can create a cozy, happy environment for him to relax in. I'm doing my own thing- meeting up with friends I haven't seen in forever, coming up with new meal ideas, doing some writing, helping my Mom with a few cleaning jobs- and for now, I think this is where I'm supposed to be. I never know when God will throw in a plot-twist...but...I'm going with it.

         This has all been a bit jumbled- but I guess my point is. Life is different than I imagined it would be by my 30th birthday- but I'm okay with it. I still feel those pangs of..."Am I doing this life a thing well enough?" But, I'm happy. I have plans to do a few things from home, that will hopefully bring in some kind of income. I have other things I want to get involved with in the community. But, right now, I'm trying to grow where I'm planted. Which happens to be in my living room.

.....but enough about me.

         Kyle has started a job at a local business- his official title is Budget Specialist Team Lead. A little different than "Judicial Marshal". He's only just started and is trying to figure out if it's really something he'll enjoy doing- but I'm so incredibly proud of him.  We had an idea-  a plan - of what we thought would go down once we got here (Are you noticing a pattern here??)...and it didn't turn out that way at all.  We're hoping good things will come from this- our bills being paid for one!

         I know a lot of you would like more apartment photos- I'm working on it! I'm hoping to do another post in the next week or two- giving you a little peek inside our new abode. I've been enjoying making it our own. Our home in Connecticut never felt like "home"- it always felt temporary. We had two bedrooms that were only in use on occasion and never were decorated to our liking. Here, I'm being intentional. Moneypenny thinks she's the Queen of Sheba, going from living in a single bedroom to having an entire apartment to zoom around in. Kyle is enjoying no maintenance!

         That's all for now- letting you know that we're alive and well and learning how to embrace our new roles in life!

Friday, July 14, 2017

And then it happened.

2017 has been a real duzy so far. I'm serious when I say that every single month of this year has brought about something life-changing. It started in January with our sweet cat, Bubba, passing away and trickled all the way up until this month.

A year and some change ago now, I wrote a blog post explaining that Kyle and I were putting our house up on the market, sharing how we got to that point and what our tentative plan was. At that time, I truly felt that our home was going to sell quickly. How could it not? We were following our hearts and I believed that God would deliver immediately.

But that's not how it went down.

After over 70 showings, we only received two offers. The first came in May, right before our trip to Michigan, and it was way too low. The buyer wasn't willing to come up and we weren't willing to go lower. And that was that.

God had brought an incredible friend into my life this year. I was feeling content and comfortable here- and on the opposite side- Kyle was feeling some doubt. Wondering if we jumped the gun in listing our house and lowering the price a couple of taking the house off the market seemed like the best plan and the most probable, honestly.
We talked about it and prayed. And we came to the conclusion that if our house hadn't sold by the time our contract was up, early July, we would take the house off the market and reevaluate the coming Spring 2018 and try listing our home again.

I believed whole-heartedly that if God wanted our house sold- it would sell.
And what would you know, two weeks before taking our house off the market- our second offer came in on the house.
Again, it was too we countered, pretty flippantly. We had no wiggle room financially and knew that our counter offer would most likely be declined and therefore, we didn't really discuss it further.

Late on the evening of June 17th- our realtor contacted us to let us know that the buyers accepted our counter.

Our counter was accepted. And on June 18th, Father's Day, we made it official on the contract.

Kyle was at work that evening and so sadly, we weren't able to have that moment. One where you hug and cry and just soak it up. Instead, anxiety ensued. Kyle called and started talking about how he felt we needed to stay past the closing to pay off debt. I felt like we needed to move immediately because God was clearly paving the way.
It was a difficult few days for us as we went through different emotions and figured out how to sort through everything that was to come.

One by one- each step came and each step was completed.

We held our breath has the inspector came to look at our home, built in the 1920's, for THREE hours. We had several things we were nervous about and several things we were sure the inspector would point out- specifically radon. Our radon mitigation system isn't functioning and although we never felt the need for it (nor did the previous owners)- the buyers could see that as non-negotiable and request that we have the system fixed....which could cost a lot of money that we simply don't have.

As it would turn out- they didn't test the radon levels and therefore, we didn't need to fix the system. And aside from 3-4 minor fixes...the inspector found no other issues.
We truly couldn't believe it- and knew God was working.

Next and final step was the appraisal. We were also worried about this step in the process because the buyer's are offering above asking price with closing credit. That could be a problem if the appraiser found our house to be worth much less in our current buyer's market.

We anxiously awaited news.... and today- we received it.

A text came through from our realtor and it read,  "Appraisal hit our number...great news there!"

I'll be honest and say that I cried. The final step before the actual closing! We had made it! There was relief, and nervousness, and excitement, and basically an overall feeling of....WOW. This is really happening.

So what now?

We talked a lot about our options. About our hopes and goals- and we came to the conclusion that we have different roles in reaching the same goal.

Basically, in early August, we'll pack up my belongings and our kitty, Moneypenny, and Kyle will drop us off in Michigan and fly back to Connecticut. He'll live with his parents for awhile, hitting his 9 year mark working as a Judicial Marshal and simultaneously paying off debt.
I will be living with my parents, scouting out apartments and getting myself and Moneypenny acclimated with as little change as possible. (Neither Mp or I handle change well. Fact.)
Kyle will join us in December, right before Christmastime....and stay!

If I'm real- I'm super sad and nervous about being apart from Kyle that long. Since we've been married, nearly 8 years now, we've only spent 1 night apart. ONE. And we like it that way.
But when we weighed all of our options- this one just made the most sense to us.

When Kyle comes in December, we'll line up his new job, whatever that will be, and try and find a nice apartment. We want to feel out different areas to see where we'd like to buy a new home and set down roots. Indiana is also a possibility.

Right now, we're starting to kick it into high gear as we make mountains of lists, book appointments for myself and Mp, debate storage, purchase plane tickets, and tie up loose ends.  We're not completely out of the woods until both parties have signed the closing papers, August 11th, but we're so close.

Through this whole process- I am so, so humbled by how God has revealed Himself. How He has shown that He would work it out in His time- and it would be perfect. I still can't get over how we were TWO WEEKS away from removing it from the market when the offer came in. Or how we didn't have to pay to fix the radon system. Or how we seemingly passed the appraisal with flying colors.
All of this was unexpected- which is silly because, well, we should expect God to deliver.

We would love your continued prayers and "good vibes" as we continue through this process and start the very hard part of saying goodbye to favorite people, places, and memories.

As I've said to many people recently- although this is something we want....there is so much we'll miss about living here, too. Such a bittersweet thing...but I look forward to the day where it simply becomes sweet and we can fully enjoy and embrace this new phase of life we're about to enter.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Making a Difference

(see links at bottom of post)

It's Saturday, August 20th at 2:07 PM. I have no idea when I will actually publish this post, but I want to write it while my feelings are raw and my thoughts are fresh.

Ever since I can remember, my heart for animals has been so large, I can barely contain it. I'm the girl who can spot a dog or cat a mile away in any direction. I'm the girl who cries when the animal in the movie doesn't make it. I'm the girl who rescued little rodents from my cat's jaws as a kid, and I'm the girl who screamed out the car window "STOP KICKING YOUR DOG" to some jerk, much to my Mom's horror.

It's just who I am. I don't try to hide it and I never apologize for it.
I never will.

But when you don't have much to speak of monetarily or in the way of a spectacular talent in a certain area (unless you call sobbing within seconds over a "Rescue" commercial a talent...)-how do you express yourself? How do you spread the love you have for a certain cause?

I've had ideas here and there, but they just weren't realistic.
Open an Etsy shop among the other thousands? No. I have no clue what I would offer that would be worth anyone's money.  Sponsor another dog? No. Last time, they rarely gave me any info on my pup.

I always feel like I come up short and in turn, feel guilty. If you have this undeniable passion for something and have no idea why or what you're meant to do with it- you get it. You understand how frustrating it can be and how you can feel like you're wasting time.

As the majority of you have seen, I joined KEEP Collective in July. I was terrified. I'm not a natural "sales" person. I was worried no-one would purchase from me, that maybe, I'd even lose friends. But there were 3 things that pushed me forward. 1) My Husband's encouragement. 2) A statement I read about trying new things until you find your niche by a process of elimination and 3) fully believing in what Keep Collective's message is (live happy!) and their products are gorgeous, to boot.

It turns out, I've done fairly well with Keep, so far. It's been a challenge some days, especially when you don't see any sales coming in, it can make you question and doubt everything. But, aside from the business itself- I've truly felt fortunate at how things have gone so much better than I expected.

With this new little job of mine- what else can I do with it?

Two years ago I first learned about a festival in Yulin,China- where dogs and cats are tortured to death, sometimes for two days. The locals believe that by torturing the animals- the meat will taste better and that they will ward off the Summer heat.

Deep breath.

When I first learned of it, I cried every single day that the festival was going on. I sobbed into my husband's arms. I felt such agony over what these animals, some even being stolen pets, endure. How confused and afraid they are.
I reached out to popular accounts on Instagram- begging that those with a "louder social voice" would spread the word. Informing and educating people. (None did.)
I shared snipbits on Facebook, trying to spread the word while shielding my friend's from the horrific photos that I had seen, all the while wondering if anyone saw it or cared, given the 2-3 "likes" I would receive.

This year, as Summer approached, I dreaded it. I knew the festival would be taking place. Another year of 10-15,000 dogs being killed inhumanely. Somehow, via Facebook of course, I came across this man named Marc Ching, who runs The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. They specialize in rescuing severely abused animals, rehabilitating them and finding them wonderful homes. He goes to China, in the midst of this festival, and sees unimaginable evil. Cambodia, rescuing pups from "torture rooms", Korea, Mongolia, The Philippines. He poses as someone in the market to purchase meat- and then records what he sees- he's been beaten the few times he's broke his cover because he couldn't take it anymore.

People often question why he films the torture? How could he?
His response is perfect. If you don't see it, you don't believe it.
Isn't that true?
I've often been asked by family and friends who have experienced me in my element- when I'm broken down and crying over an animal- "Why do you do this to yourself??"
Do you think I enjoy seeing animals hurting? No. I don't.
But, if I don't remind myself of what happens...I forget about it. I forget about what I've seen and what's going on...and I can't allow that to happen. Not if I'm true to having a part in rescuing these pups (and kitties too!). I'M not the one suffering. THEY are.

This man, this organization, they have the ability to do what I cannot. To say what I cannot, to see what I cannot.
But still, we are kindred spirits.

Right now, I'm doing well with KEEP Collective. So, I've decided to pair my job with my passion and share a message of hope. And make a difference in the lives of these animals who need you, and who need me.

I'm going to be donating an engraved KEEP bracelet to Marc Ching and the proceeds of certain purchases to their organization. I believe in what they do and support this Foundation 100%.
Something he had said on one of his posts this past July, resonated with me. He said, "I'm a believer that light overcomes darkness. And that is something that I believe in, too. I've engraved that message on a bar and wear it proudly.

I can't do much, but I will do what I can.

My hope is that of the 1,140 friends I have on facebook. A handful of you will stand behind me and support an amazing cause. Sharing this post with your friends and family- and spreading the word.

That would be such...and impactful thing. For me. For The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. And for all of those animals who are next in line to suffer.

We can make a difference.

*If your purchase includes a paw-print, bone, cat, dog key or engravable bar reading "Light Overcomes Darkness"- I will be donating 10% of what I make from your order at the end of each month to The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Am Able.

Today, as I was driving home from the store, I was blissfully enjoying a warm summer breeze blowing through the windows and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds blaring through the speakers.

I drove past someone standing outside their house, whom I immediately recognized as a woman who I've seen other times on the same route. She has a disability in her legs, that prevents her from walking normally. Despite the disability she's living with, she's always dressed in bright, cheerful colors and working on her garden, which is beautiful by the way.

On this same route, I passed a gorgeous old home that is occupied by a woman who attends our church. She's not there right now though- because this past week, one of her adult sons passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.

I felt tears welling in my eyes, an ache in my heart.
For these two women, one of whom I don't even know personally, and the trials that they're going through in life right now. Both physically and emotionally.

And in these same few moments- God tugged at my heart and challenged me with something simple.

Being without a job has been, honestly, really nice.
Throughout my last Nanny position, I felt like I was living in a constant state of chaos. Unpredictable schedules, never even aware of what day of the week it was.
That being said, I've definitely been in a subtle state of laziness lately. Eating a lot of things I shouldn't, binge watching tv shows, and feeling a pull to do something more significant, but not having the gumption.

I realized today, that it's time to change that.
We often hear "live each day as if it's your last"- but in that same way, we should utilize our abilities- because what if tomorrow- you're no longer able to use them?

I have it easy right now.
There are things that bother me, things I could do without in life- but I have no physical ailments at the moment and I have no emotional struggles, either. That, in and of itself, is such a gift.

I have the ability to be kind to everyone I meet, both strangers and friends alike.
I have the ability to go for walks- because my legs allow me to.
I have the ability to be a light in a broken, confused, fearful world.
I have the ability to choose healthy foods- and fuel my body.

I am able to do more.

....(And so are you!)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Being Honest & Leaping in Faith

There are several who knew we were planning to put our home on the market but I think a good amount had no clue, so I'm hoping this post offers a bit of clarity.

We never really agreed on how long we should stay in Connecticut, if I'm being honest. We both ultimately wanted the same things, but had different ideas of how to get there. 
We would go back and forth, stating our points, trying to make each other see why our "plan" was the best one- but in true fashion of who we both are, neither Kyle or I would budge

I wrote a post awhile back about learning to be content. 
I had a conversation with my Grandma that really changed my outlook on things. I began praying that God would make me content- even if I didn't understand- because I wanted to be happier. It took less than a week for me to begin feeling that peace. Trusting that God knew what He was doing (go figure!) and that I should just go with it.
I hate that it took so long to get to that point, I feel like I wasted a few years where I could have been thoroughly enjoying life to its fullest.

Thank goodness that you can choose your attitude towards certain things.

I started noticing subtle changes in Kyle's outlook on the future.
Originally, he told me that we had to be in Connecticut until he could retire. At the time, that was about 15 years.
Gradually, he told me that maybe we could make it happen in 10 years.
Then, over a year ago, he told me that maybe we could start thinking about some changes in 3-4 years.

I always have joked that Kyle does his best thinking on Saturdays. He works for a security company on the weekends and is often sitting at a desk with way too much time on his hands to reel over different ideas and come up with different plans. I would probably be incredibly rich right now if I was given a dollar for every time I received a call or text from Kyle on a Saturday that began with, "So here's my plan..." or "I've been doing some thinking...."

One Saturday evening in January, he called me.

"I've been doing something thinking...and I'm ready to move. Like, really move. Let's put our house on the market next week."

I was completely shocked and a bit unbelieving, frankly.
Every other conversation we'd ever had about moving, ended abruptly within a day or two of Kyle announcing that we could start planning. 
I would cry, pray and then move on.

So, I took his words with a grain of salt and calmly replied that we needed to work on the house some, prepare, plan, and definitely pray over it. All the while, I felt that within a day or two- he would change his mind again. 

Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months- and Kyle's mind never changed. He felt sure that it was time and that we could make it work. He was sick of the politics in Connecticut and ready to begin a slower pace of life in an environment that fit us a little better.

And here we are.

As of today, our home is officially on the market.

Our first home together. The place where we've learned what it's like to have huge bills looming, how to reattach a closet door, how to garden, and where we've had so many good times together.

It's odd for me, really.
I have wanted this for so long- but just when I get to the place of accepting it and finally learning to enjoy it here- it's time to go.

So what's our plan?

That's a good question, actually.

Being that both Kyle & I are planners, this is probably the hardest part of moving for us. 
We don't know what's going to happen next.

Once we sell the house, we'll be heading to the Midwest. Probably Michigan, where my parents are, but Indiana is also an option. 
We'll fly out for a week or so to go to job interviews and check out some rentals- and that will be that. We'll gather our things and go.

Ultimately, what it comes down to for us, is quality of life.
We enjoy a slower pace, general friendliness, and the concept of working to live, rather than living to work.

We have no idea if things will go smoothly and be great.
We have no idea if this is without the shadow of a doubt the best decision of our lives.
We'll learn that in time.

But for now, we feel like we're doing the right thing. We're going with our hearts and hoping for the best.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

There's More.

Around 4am this Morning, I awoke breathless, after having one of those dreams that felt just a little too real.
  The dream began with a tornado and ended with gun shots, amidst a church service.

 I laid awake for another hour or so, contemplating the dream- wondering why it had used some of my very realistic fears- it was one of those dreams that really made me contemplate....was there a deeper meaning in it all?

 One of the things I felt was this...reality check, ironically.
I tend to allow myself to be sheltered from the world around, because quite honestly, the things that are happening- aren't things I want to dwell on. I don't want to dwell on all of the massive amount of shootings- murders. The delusional terrorists who are taking innocent lives, bombs going off- new threats, daily.

I began to wonder....what could change all of those things? What could change the world in such a huge way that no-one had to live in a constant state of fear?

And the answer, which I've known all of the time, was this.

....changed hearts & transformed lives. 

This may be the point where some of you scoff, shake your head, roll your eyes and click out.  But, that's okay. Because while I had a moment mid-morning where I thought...."Is this point I'm trying to make as relevant as it was at 4am?-- I knew it was and it was something that needed to be said.
Not from some mega preacher on television, not from someone with thousands of followers on twitter or instagram.
But from me- a simple, normal kind of girl.

The thing is, if we're honest- truly honest with ourselves, I think the majority of people, even those who claim there is no God...have an idea of what they envision Christians to be. And most likely, those people who are genuine Believers- doing their best to live their lives for the Lord, have a similar idea.

Honest. Loving. Kind. Faithful. Hopeful. Filled with Grace. name a few attributes.
Can we all agree on those?

If the Lord was able to take hold of every single person's heart- can you imagine....can you EVEN IMAGINE- what our World would look like? It would be filled with people who each other. Who are all working towards one ultimate goal.

An eternal life in Heaven.

And getting there wouldn't include murdering innocent people. Bullying people. Being self-centered people, who think that as long as THEY are in charge of their happiness- nothing else matters.

Do you honestly believe that we're all That everything is really built around...YOLO? That there is nothing beyond the little time that we have on Earth?

I just can't fathom any of that.

The fact is, You (don't) Only Live Once.  There's more, people. There's more.

Believing in God doesn't mean that you're tied down. It doesn't mean that you  have to enjoy the brokenness of the world- all of the things that seem unfair amidst our free will-- it means that you have HOPE. It means that you have a genuine, true hunger to see lives transformed by the renewing of our hearts and minds.

Just take a couple of minutes to think about how wonderful the world could be...if we'd all stop being self centered, focused on our own happiness- and focused on living life on God's terms.

Grace. Hope. Renewal. Love.
Peace. Courage. Heaven.

Even those who don't claim to be Believers- tend to hope for their loved ones passing onto Heaven. And even those who scoff at Christians on the daily- tend to think that "sending prayers"- (to whom?)- will do the trick.

Deep down, we all have a sense that there's more.
And a lot of the time it comes down to some sort of fear that's stopping us.

Don't be afraid.

There's more for you than all of this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Happy Days

Drinking my tea and sitting in my favorite chair this Morning, I had one of those perfect moments. The kind where you find yourself literally closing your eyes, feeling the sun on your face, and smelling that crisp Autumn air- and for me, remembering something.

I had such a full, happy childhood. Growing up in a small town, we had Mennonite neighbors, open fields for a backyard, and a Church full of built-in playmates. Countless adventures were had and memories were made.

I remember walking golf courses and visiting the elderly with my Dad. Going to at least one of three local libraries and topping it off with TCBY, with my Mom. Running across a field and tromping through a creek to visit nearby friends, church services in the woods, playing hide and seek in our friend's cabin, climbing hay bales.

Today, specifically, I was remembering Ohio.
I can vividly remember things I felt while living there. The pure joy of asking for my sins to be forgiven at age 5, sitting in the middle of a huge corn field or running bare-foot through puddles while it rained...and just being, unconditionally happy.

As I've gotten older (way older...), I find myself still remembering those times. Those places, those people, those good moments. Because, I've had my fair share of "low moments"- the ones where you feel like you're carrying the world on your shoulders.

You may remember a post from a while ago- maybe two years ago now, where my Mom was talking about how she hoped I learn earlier in life who I am.

I bring this up because there have been several times, where I mention the past or note a memory and get a black lash of "Quit living in the past!" or "Things change, Amanda. Move on."
And so, I find myself recalling something and immediately pushing it aside, because it's not a good idea to "live in the past".

But, I guess my point is.
It's OK to live in the good moments (in the past or not). Be aware the bad moments will happen- but it's okay, nonetheless, to remember times that were happy, or simpler or...just good.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to channel that little girl, living in Ohio or Michigan, and use her to remind myself of who I am.
And it helps, so much.
Because each phase of your life will be new and will require some adjustment, but I think when things get confusing or you just feel overwhelmed- find those good moments and just remember that that child, teen, adult...whoever..was you, too. You still have some of those characteristics or personality traits going on that you can pull from when you need to.

I've learned to accept that I love those moments of nostalgia- and that there is nothing wrong with bringing a little of the old you into the new you.

....This blog post may very well have made little to no sense to you. It's funny how you re-read something you've written and think, "Hm! Not sure that's what I was going for...."-- But! It's what came out and there must be a reason for that. :)

Bye, friends.
Have a good week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Just A Little Update.

I've been really overthinking a post lately, feeling this invisible pressure to put something amazing in words for people to carefully consider. And then today it hit me. How about just update everyone on life as of late? Not that it's terribly interesting by any means- but I've felt like I've written so many individual emails lately with practically the same information- so why not just put it in one place?

After my post about being content, a lot of little tests came my way and it would be a lie to say that I've passed every one of them with flying colors. And as of late, I just feel completely overwhelmed with life.

I'm not the type of person who enjoys being busy. I don't like to have plans after work and having full weekends and being put out of my comfort zone.

For example, over the last few weeks there have been vet appointments. I really despise taking the cats, specifically 007, to the vet alone. Especially when it's a new office. I tend to think of every possible outcome (usually the worst ones, let's be honest here...)- and let's just say, every. occurred during 007's appointment.
Poop, vomit, aggressive staff, a stressed cat, a last minute messy bath, and hyperthyroidism results.
(Moneypenny was an angel and was complimented endlessly on how sweet and soft she is. That's my girl!)

On that note, having my favorite pet losing weight rapidly before my eyes, constantly crying to be fed, and vomiting sometimes the epitome of heartbreak for me. Most of you know my heart for animals- but for my boy, it's the biggest. We always describe him as a "comfort cat"- he could definitely go into a any facility and snuggle with patients and residents, making them instantly happier. Thinking of losing him any sooner than never, is just the worst. So these recent vet appointments have been awful for me to handle alone, because Kyle works opposite hours than what the veterinary offices are open.
Lots of nights of sobbing myself to sleep have happened.
Although, I *am* doing a little better in this area.
I'm trying.

Most of you know that my employers will be moving to Toronto this coming September. They've graciously offered me unemployment, should I need it, and that was completely kind and unexpected. In the beginning, I wasn't worried at all and maybe even slightly excited for a new adventure. But as the days pass and September approaches, I can feel my blood pressure rising as I wait...and wait...and wait to hear back from jobs that I've applied to.
I've had one interview so far, and it was anything but wonderful. Although I was disappointed that I didn't connect with the family, I was more proud of myself for feeling confident that there is something better out there for me.
I think I'm a fairly desirable option, with 7 years experience that includes 3 different families and 5 newborns. But, as I sit here, I've emailed probably 20 families and have only heard back from 1 or 2.
It really does a number on ya.
Makes you question and doubt.
K keeps confirming that he wants me to find the perfect position, one that I'll really enjoy, and if it takes 6 months- that's just fine!
Secretly, I'd like a few week break in-between one job ending and another beginning- but I definitely don't want to be sitting around for 6 months, either.

Besides finding a new position, I'm feeling lots of mixed emotions. These kids, I've been a 3rd parent to. I've seen some firsts, watched them learn to take a bottle, roll over, walk and talk. I've spent uncountable hours helping them use a toilet, cuddling them while they're sick, watching them climb all over a playground proudly, attend new schools, and let's be real....handed out a ridiculous amount of timeouts.
But at the same time, while I know I'll cry like a baby and miss sweet moments, I'm feeling...ready for something new. Hopeful of a bright future with a new family.

While these problems and work changes, barely skim the surface of my stress levels lately- I am starting to feel majorly excited for upcoming trips this September.

We found some awesomely priced plane tickets to Chicago, one of my favorite cities, and we'll be able to spend 2 days there for a quick Anniversary getaway. I cannot wait to try foods, sit in cute coffee shops, meander around Navy Pier, and soak in the nighttime city lights with my Babe.

Later in September, we'll be taking a week long trip to Nebraska to visit some very close friends of our's. We're absolutely thrilled. There will be lots of eating, laughing, good conversations, and just very much needed "away" time.

I think this is basically it, everyone.
My exciting life update.