Sunday, July 3, 2016

Keeping Life in Balance


I have had some very busy weeks and months but great news to share!  This is a very long post, and if you don’t have time to read it all, please read the middle paragraphs titled Astounding Financial Provision and the last paragraphs titled Balance

My health:

Through a friend at church and my family doctor, I was led to an orthopedic shoulder specialist who took one look at my shoulder and confidently declared that six weeks of physical therapy would make all the difference.  One session with a therapist and six weeks of home therapy led to healing and finally relief of relentless pain! 


I also ended up getting two back injections, and this has helped immensely with the back problems I have been dealing with for over a year.  Continued follow up with the chiropractor has also helped.  I have a follow up appointment later this summer to determine if I need more injections, and then I will move onto physical therapy.  I like this doctor immensely as he is purposely only injecting small portions of my back at a time in order to truly isolate the problem.  He agrees with me that we don’t just want to mask the pain; we want to find the cause and fix it!  I am so grateful!

I do have an outpatient surgery scheduled in late August that will require about a week of recovery.  This is to correct some problems caused by my original cancer surgery, and it is important that I take care of it.  I have a friend coming in from out of town to help and many friends have already planned to bring me meals.  I am obviously not looking forward to yet another surgery, and I am not sure how the finances will work out either.  However, I am continuing to testify how good God has been to me in the past and how good I’m sure He will be in the future.

Heather’s health:

Heather’s dad and I took her to an appointment with a Riley Hospital pediatric specialist for her
fibromyalgia.  It was a long day, and at the end there was no silver bullet, no magic pill as Heather had hoped.  The doctor encouraged us and Heather for the fact that Heather is already doing the right things: eating right, managing her diabetes, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding screen time before bed.  The doctor recommended some inserts for her shoes, which has surprisingly really helped with her lower body fibromyalgia pain. 

Unfortunately, she does not sleep well, which is a fibromyalgia symptom.  The doctor wisely decided to not to add more medications to help with this but instead encouraged Heather to participate in low impact exercise on a regular basis.  This would in turn help her sleep better and give her a better frame of mind to deal with the fibromyalgia.  She was discouraged at this news, but she has already heard it before from our family doctor.  It’s hard to watch as a mom….sigh!

In the midst of this she decided that she did not want to continue with marching band in the fall, which I think is a wise decision.  The band community has loved our family like a church for so many years, and it is something we will always be a part of in some way or another.  I have mixed feelings as I have volunteered and have been a bus mom for several seasons, but I am also relieved.  My online MBA coursework has been more time consuming than expected, and I did wonder how I was going to manage during band season.

My work and schooling:

My MBA coursework began in January and will continue until the end of December 2017.  I currently have a 4.0 GPA, and the coursework is completely free through an Employee Scholar Program at my workplace!  Six weeks into my program, my company announced that it is moving our operations to Mexico over the course of the next two years.  The good news is that I am able to continue in my current MBA program, and I was offered a severance package to stay until no longer needed that includes six months’ salary, payment for any unused vacation, one month of job sourcing assistance and one month of health insurance….and four more years of school!

Recent announcements revealed that the first round of layoffs will be April 2017, and the second round will be June 2018.  My hope and prayer is that I make it to June 2018 as that is when Heather graduates from high school.  If I make it to that time line I would have more flexibility as to be able to move to pretty much anywhere God calls me.  If I am still with the company when I complete my current MBA, which I fully expect, I am going to pursue another masters’ degree and keep going with it and potentially even more after I am laid off.

My current MBA is in Public Health Administration, and it is my deepest desire to help others’ navigate the ever-changing healthcare and insurance climate.  I am also interested in potentially working with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship as a campus staff worker or even working on a college campus assisting differently-abled students or student dealing with health problems.  I am not completely sure how this is going to work out, but I know God does.

The morning of the announcement of my workplace shutdown, I was praying about all of this on the way to work.  I knew there was to be a major announcement at work, but I had no idea what it was and I wasn’t even worried.  I never dreamed the company would shut down our location.  Regardless, I was just talking with God, and He said to me a clear as could be: “You are right where you are supposed to be right now.  As for the future, I will let you know what you need to know when you need to know it!” 

So when the announcement came, while I was shocked and afraid, I was assured by God that all was well.  It took some time for all of us in our department to catch our breath and deal with the emotions, but fortunately most of us are now committed to doing the best job possible in the coming months to be able to hand off our responsibility to our Mexican counterparts.

Our Mexican counterparts are in and out of the office for training and meetings.  While at first it was a bit hard, God has given me a great love for them.  During a recent week, several of the women were working in a nearby office and as time went on, they looked more and more tired, stressed and culture-shocked.  Well, you know me, I can’t stand to see others suffer…so I gave them my personal business card and told them to contact me before when they are in town so I could have them over to my house for dinner. 

They are extremely fluent in English, but I was also concerned about how they would manage if one of them became ill or injured, so I offered my help to them in emergencies as well.  The love and response was overwhelming.  I had no idea it would mean so much to them, and it has become more and more evident to me that a new mission field is a mere office away from mine.

 Astounding financial provision:

As most of you know, I live pretty much from paycheck-to-paycheck, and I am okay with that.  I enjoy the challenge of stretching every dollar, although it is hard at times.  I obviously have a lot of medical bills, so I have to manage money very carefully.  All three of my kids are on their dad’s health insurance, and I am completely off the hook for any medical financial responsibility for Stephen and Amy.  I budget carefully for the amount I am required to provide for Heather.


In the past year, I have traveled to London (all expenses paid for by a dear college friend), participated in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship's triennial missions conference, Urbana '15 (paid for by InterVarsity to thank me for being a long-time donor…kind of embarrassing…and hotel paid for through donations) and I am getting my MBA for free.  Wow!  God’s economy is amazing!


Urbana 15
 
The timing of my pending layoff is absolutely incredible as well.  I have very little debt (car, medical and one credit card).  I don’t own a home with a mortgage (love renting my little townhouse), and I also will receive 48% of 22 years of my ex-husbands’ retirement.  I also do not have to pay for the kids’ college expenses at all as the divorce settlement put that responsibility on my ex-husband.




London Bridge
I am at the perfect opportunity to truly go where God calls.  My plan, depending on the all the variables, is to actively start looking for work when my masters’ degree is complete with the intention to start a new job shortly after the layoff.  At the wise advice of one of my friends, I am being patient but not complacent and am keeping my eye out for opportunities. 

Depending on the timing of the layoff and potential new employment, I am hoping to take a short bit of time off to travel a bit, perhaps to San Francisco to visit some friends, to New York to visit my nephew and back to London to see my dear friends there.  Before I pursue the travel, however, I am tentatively planning to give up my townhouse rental and put everything in storage.  I was planning to give up the townhouse when I no longer have Heather’s child support, which, interestingly enough, ends about the same time as my potential layoff and about the same time Heather would leave for college.  I would have needed to down-size anyway.  God has blessed me with so many friends with whom I could stay for short periods of time while all the details of what’s next come together.

Stephen and Amy:

Stephen graduated from Indiana University with dean’s list honors this past spring.  This fall he is headed to the University of Kentucky for a three-year graduate school program.  His final degree will be a masters’ in educational psychology, and it is his hope to work in a school district with at-risk students.  His Spanish ability is incredible as he has been immersed in Spanish-speaking cultures for several mission trips, so I think his future employability looks very promising.  Please pray for him as he needs to find housing, employment, a church and to manage all of the adjustment this type of endeavor involves.

Amy is starting her junior year at Purdue University this fall and just very successfully completed a wildlife study practicum in the Western Upper Peninsula the first part of the summer.  She is spending the rest of her summer working in the kitchen at our beloved Cedar Campus. 
Please keep her in your prayers as she had a rough year with her depression.  She is working with our family doctor to manage her medications, and it is our hope that she will take the initiative to get into regular counseling this fall.

All three kids will be at Cedar Campus with me this year, which is a rare treat.  They grow up and literally scatter to the winds, so I am grateful for this time with them.

Balance:

In order to handle all that is going on, including the increased transition work load and long hours at my job, I have to maintain a healthy balance of creative time, work time, relationships, financial responsibilities, commitment to spiritual growth and my own well-being.  This means getting enough sleep, taking time for my creative outlet, regular exercise and spiritual replenishment.  Some weeks I do this better than others, and when I don’t keep this balance I get really spiritually, emotionally and mentally out of whack.   

It is a rigorous commitment to this statement: Every day we have to remember not only who we are but Whose we are.  It’s a conscious decision to realize that stress is a choice.  It’s daily dying to self.  It’s Lordship and letting go of control of things God already has handled anyway.  It’s guarding the mindset of peace that Satan so desperately attacks.  It’s avoiding the mommy-martyr syndrome.  It’s treating myself with the respect I deserve. 

Will you pray for me on this journey?  I am so ever grateful for all of you!

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