Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Milk Moment..

I knew that going into the teaching profession, I would not make a grand income, but I always knew that I would make enough to support myself.

I know, I know. Religion, politics, and money are taboo topics; and I'm guessing even worse when written down for anyone to see.

But we all know that I am often an over-sharer.

And I feel confident that what happened to me today must be heard; even if only by a few who read this blog post. It is a story that I must tell to bring glory to my God.


I moved to Tennessee with a teaching job lined up. I was pumped. Then I realized the difference in my income.

"But you live in Tennessee now. Cost of living is so much cheaper!" they say.

Reality: it is cheaper when you buy, not necessarily when you rent. Being single, and fully supporting myself, it is not easy to survive solely on a teacher's salary.

NOTE: If I wanted to drive 45 minutes, or more, each day to get to work, I could experience this so-called cheaper cost of living. But, with Nashville as one of the top growing cities in the nation, prices have gone up. Teacher's salaries have not.

I was able to live on my income, with the aid of my Savings that I had maintained pretty well when I lived in California, for only a few months. 

Then my Savings ran out.

I knew I needed a second job to supplement my income. So I became a server in January of last year. And I really enjoyed it. 

But, I could only take so many 80 hour work weeks. 

In late-August/early-September, I served a sweet, kind, bubbly, gal who got me into selling Rodan+Fields products. I was hopeful and excited, and had the potential for income that gave me the peace of mind I needed to leave serving, along with the extra much needed hours to devote to teaching a grade I had never taught in my career.

She is awesome at her job. Me? Not so much.

Come December, I was spending more on product than I was bringing in. So, I decided to stop "selling" Rodan+Fields products (let's face it, I'm quite possibly the worst saleswoman out there). But I still needed to supplement my income. 

{January 2015}

2015 did not started off easy for me. January, in particular, was a really difficult month for me. 

Socially, emotionally, physically: just fine. 

Financially: not fine. 

I went back to the restaurant I worked at, hoping they would allow me to work only 2 shifts a week (instead of the required 4). They couldn't make an exception, which I understood, so they pointed me to a different location that could.

Rejuvenated and encouraged, I arranged to meet with the manager on Friday, January 30th, at 3:30pm.

That day came. I waited for over an hour only to be told that there was a mix up, and they, too, required 4 shifts a week.

I left frustrated and angry, and thinking of other "2nd jobs" I could try to get. At this point, getting a second job was not a luxury; it was a necessity. 

Very few times in my life have I felt so upset and frustrated and helpless. I was in my 9th year of my career, for crying out loud! 

NOTE: I will be blogging about the details of this moment a bit down the line. 
That is not a post for today.

I entertained other careers, but at the end of the day, I am a teacher. And that is what I will continue to be.

I called my sister-in-law as I was driving to meet a girlfriend, and unloaded 30 days of frustration, fear, and anxiety. 

And she told me the most amazing thing that had happened to her.

When the kids were little, and my brother was working full-time while in Nursing School full-time, they were going through a difficult time financially. (Yes, I got her permission to include this tidbit before I hit "Publish.")

It was so hard, in fact, that they couldn't afford to buy milk. An item most people don't think twice about when standing in the check-out line at the grocery store. An item that, in that moment, symbolized the struggle they were having.

When she woke up the next day, there was a gallon of milk on their doorstep.

And the next day.

And the next.

For the entire week. 

They had too much milk, in fact, by the end of the week!

(I'm pretty sure I was weeping as she told me this amazing account of God's goodness.)

With this story, she encouraged me that no matter how hopeless, no matter the despair, no matter what I am going through, nothing is too difficult for God. Nothing is out of His reach. He cares about the big and the little things.

I was so encouraged! I felt that as broken as I was, I could only move up.

But, just when we think we can get no lower, it always seems we can. 
Am I right?

{Beginning of February}

I decided to get a jumpstart on filing my Taxes. I knew I would probably owe some, as I worked as a server for 9 months, and in that time paid no taxes on my tips. I felt confident that what I would be getting back from my teaching-taxes would cover most of it.

Boy, was I wrong.

I saw that number go from green (what I was getting back as a Refund from teaching) to red (what I owed TN from my tips), and realized that then I was completely broken. 

And broke.

I called my dad. There were a few items I didn't quite understand on the form, so he helped me figure them out. And then I really lost it.

The reason I was able to pay my debt, put some money in Savings, go on a not-that-expensive vacation over the summer, go home to California to see my family, was the very reason for my complete and utter despair at that moment.

Cam, my sweet roommate and life-twin, brought me tissues and tried to encourage me.

"God always provides! He always works it out!"

But I was not in a place to hear any of it.

I went to take a shower, and wallow in my self-pity. Never, not ever, in my life, had I been so low, so broken.

And then, as I stood under the hot water, at the end of my rope and completely undone, God gently reminded me,

"I am in control. And I will work it out."

Peace flooded over me. 
I resolved to apologize to Cam the next day.


Until now, only family and a few friends have known of this financial struggle that I have been going through.

I recently joined Childcare Solutions (Lovingly called the "Babysitters Club" by some. Nailed it.) to help supplement my income, as becoming a server isn't likely with my limited availability. 

I tithed and offered very little last year, as I had very little for so long. But another nudging that God has been weighing on my heart for quite some time now, is to trust Him and tithe a full 10%. 

I'll tithe when I have more.

Then I heard this insight from my pastor. 

"What you are with little, you will be even more with a lot. If you're a jerk with little money, you'll be an even bigger jerk with a lot of money. If you give when you have little money, you will give even more when you have a lot of money."

Got it, Lord.

When I get out of this financial rut, I want to be able to look back and see that I trusted God enough to give even when I had only a little.

So, I did.

And it was scary.

"Milk." This reminder would pop in my head every so often.

God is my provider. Jehovah-Jireh. 
Possibly the only Name of God I have remembered, no doubt because of the subtle rhyme.

Jehovah-Jireh. God my Providah. (You know exactly how I am saying that.)


We got yet another Snow Day today. (Oh, I am not complaining!)

I decided to get a head start on my upcoming bills, as I get paid tonight. This is an atypical month, as a few quite large bills fell right when rent is coming due.

You can guess what hit the fan. 

I would be negative in my account when these bills for this first half of the month cleared. Negative. Not even enough in my Savings to help me out.

Surprisingly, I still felt peace. And I prayed.

"God, please provide.

And then I went on my way to renew my registration, as I was already overdue and had no excuse to not do it today (Snow Day #8!).

On my way, I stopped to check the mail and drop off those few bills.

J. Crew magazine for Cam. Junk mail. Junk mail. Letter from a friend. (FUN!) Coupon magazine.

Aside from the letter, it was all pretty standard mail. I opened the letter, not knowing exactly what to expect, when a check fell out of it.

Written on the Memo line: "Whatever you need it for"

Tears fell from my eyes, while praise rose from my lips! 
I have heard of this happening to people, but I have never been one of them. 


Words could not give justice to the overwhelming humility and peace and love and security that flooded into my entire being, knowing and seeing that my God is completely in control.

I cried most of the way to the registration office. My eyes watered on the way back. My eyes still stung late in the afternoon from this miraculous, generous gift from a friend because "God's been challenging [them] to be more generous in the area of finances." God even gave them the amount, which was dollars away from the exact amount I would have been negative. (About 10% over what I was in need of.)

{Tomorrow. And the Next Day. And the Next.}

I am confident that I will remember this moment for my entire life. 

I am confident that God has brought me to the place I am at today so I can bring Him the glory He deserves.

I am confident that, though my flesh will fail, and doubt, and worry, my God is in control and my God will always provide.

And I pray that I, too, can be in a place where I can be used of Him to bless someone else in need.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Fall is one of my favorite times of year, but I'm realizing that it is probably the hardest time for me, too.

I started off this weekend with an emotionally draining Friday, but a wonderful dinner with my best girlfriend, Hannah.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling refreshed and excited, and had a really great day. A good night of sleep was what I needed. I was productive around the house, I went to Tae Bo, I adventure-walked around my favorite place in Nashville (Radnor Lake) with a girlfriend, I celebrated a friend's 30th Birthday at one of the {for lack of a better word} coolest places I've been to in Nashville (The Sutler), and made a few new friends.

{I love meeting new people, especially when they become friends!}

Saturday I was back in the game.

And then I woke up this morning, irritatingly early, with an empty, hollow feeling inside. I wish I could say this is a rarity, but the truth is that this is becoming a more-common-than-not occurrence for me lately. I went to church, and though there were hundreds of people around me, I still felt completely alone.

{Fellow social butterflies, you know there are few things worse than feeling alone in a crowd.}

Last year I dealt with seasonal depression pretty severely for the first time in my life around this time of year, and started taking Vitamin D daily.

This year, I am still taking Vitamin D daily, so I'm thinking that a big part of what I was experiencing then, and experiencing now on a less intense level, but still experiencing nonetheless, is a deep homesickness.

It is hard for me year-round to be without my family, but the Fall is especially hard. The holidays, the cooler weather (well, not really in California, but we pretended and took every opportunity we could to wear boots and a scarf), the time that is allotted for family. All of it. It is all much better when spent with family. At least for me - my family is marvelous.

Around this time two years ago I decided I was going to move across the country to a place I knew no one, had never been, and would have an "adventure of a lifetime!" I never really thought of what it would be like during the extended hard times. In fact, I really didn't think much about the hard times, because who thinks about those when you're getting ready for something exciting?!

By nature, I'm an optimistic, bubbly, happy, often-too-open gal, and homesickness is taking its toll.

So, tonight I decided to bake cookies. Baking is something I used to love to do more than most things, and it is something that I have stopped doing in the past couple of years. Partly because I moved in with roommates a couple years ago and had packed up my kitchen stuff; partly because I didn't have time; partly because I was gaining a lot of weight from eating all that I was baking.

As silly as it sounds, standing in the baking aisle at the grocery store today was refreshing, and rejuvenating.

I decided I would make plain, simple, chocolate chip cookies. I have only made them to perfection one time in my life...until tonight.

The familiar routine of measuring the flour, baking soda, and salt; beating the sugar, brown sugar, and melted butter together; adding the eggs in one at a time; folding in the chips; was exactly what I needed.

I needed something that felt like home while I was missing home so much.

And the fact that my cookies turned out perfectly was a nice added bonus!

While thinking about this blog throughout the day, I couldn't escape this reoccurring thought: I will have two gloomy posts in the span of a couple of days. What are people going to think? 

But then I thought: I'm probably not the only one who is feeling like this. 

So, alas, here I am, once again living {maybe too} candidly, sitting at my cute, clean dining room table with Cam's painted pumpkins as the centerpiece, my pumpkin candle burning, typing away on my computer. Another routine that feels like home.

While I have to wait for 16 more days until I am actually home, spending much needed time with my family, I am feeling a little better tonight. And eager to get home.

I am eager to bake and talk about anything and everything with my mom and my sisterinlaw in preparation for our Thanksgiving feast, all while laughing way too loudly and drinking Bailey's in our coffee.

I'm eager to ride in my dad's new truck, get caught up on how his work and his old-man-hockey (yeah, he's a stud) are going for him. And to hear his laugh when he gets really tickled over something.

I'm eager to hear about how my brother's work is going (he's an ICU Nurse), and to hear how he is probably already outshining me as a teacher. And I'm okay with that.

I'm eager to play with my niece and nephews, and listen to all they want to tell me, and look at all they want to show me, and just be there with them as their Auntie who loves them more than anything.

I'm eager to spend this much needed time with my family.

One of the hardest things I've realized about my adventures is that they often lead me somewhere alone. But, I've also realized through being alone what is most important, and appreciate those things in a deeper way than I ever have before.

So, to start off this Thanksgiving season right, I am thankful for these tough times. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to experience them, and also have the opportunity to go home and get filled back up.

I hope you all are able to reflect on all that you are thankful for, whether big or small, and truly appreciate this season, even in the difficult times.

Until next time, y'all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Neglected Adventures

Though I worked a lot, I still managed to squeeze quite a few adventures in! But, I never had time to post about them, so this post is dedicated to those adventures that were never properly recognized. I hope you enjoy my time-travel over the last year!

Fall Adventures
October to November 2013

Pumpkin Patch, Pumpkin Festival, and Pumpkin Carving with Cam

Painting Pumpkins = the start of a wonderful tradition!

 Radnor Lake Walks with Cam

Meeting Bobby Bones (my fave radio DJ!) the night before Thanksgiving at a Trivia Night

First Predators Game!

Winter Escapades
December 2013 to March 2014

 John Mayer Concert with Traci 

Singles Benefit
She was excited we mask-twinned, too!

Another Preds Game!

Exploring around our State Capitol

These California gals first snow!

My main mitches came for a visit!

Sunday Brunchin'

Sips n' Stokes 

Spring Flings
April to May 2014

Radnor Lake in the Spring

Riding the Red Bikes around Nashville

Arrington Vineyards with Cam

Parks and popsicles!

The Kentucky Derby!!!

OKC Road Trip!

Summer Shenanigans
June to August 2014

Harpeth River Canoe Day Trip

We led the pack. Literally. They let the current take them...and there wasn't a current.

It was such a beautiful day! Even when those clouds joined us with a lot of rain.

This was one of my favorite things I've done in Tennessee!

Cummins Falls with the ladies!


Broadway with Cam!

4th of July in Downtown Nashville!

We made flower crowns!

Pretty standard car ride SnapChats with Cam.
(Can't figure out how to rotate it.)

Boat Day!

Harry Potter World!
Day 1: Travel

Day 2: Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade
Who wouldn't sing along with this song?!

Yes, I bought butterbeer. And a backpack. And a wand.

Lunch at the Leaky Cauldron.

Platform 9 3/4

Butterbeer and Hogwarts

I could drink this everyday. Every. Day.

Leaky Cauldron!

Day 3: Cocoa Beach, Florida!

 Take me back!

Day 4: Back to Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade!
It was so hot. So incredibly hot.

I really couldn't get enough.

Day 5: Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Shooting a BB gun like a natural.

So Southern.

Nailed it.

Oklahoma City for my G'Pa's 75th Birthday Par-Tee!

Fall Adventures!
September to October 2014

Percy Warner Adventure-Walking with Cam

 Any normal human's response after all those stairs.

 Timer-Cam problems.

Nashville Zoo with Cam!

This kang' was pregnant...or had the joey in her pouch. Not sure. Either way, she was not impressed by me.

That sheep! (Lamb? Singular of sheep?)

Tennessee State Fair with Amie!
Not pictured: fried Oreos and fried Red Velvet Funnel Cake!

Cutest little sugar glider.

But really. So cute!

Costco Adventures with Cam...because c'mon, Costco IS an adventure! 

Yes, I went back for seconds. (I asked!)

I bought that coat...and wore it around Costco the entire time we were sampling.
Not ready for winter even though I've got the coat.

Night Walk around Centennial Park

One Night with Blythe in Nashville!

This video was taken the first night I didn't have to work a shift at the restaurant. I was a little excited.

Canning Salsa with Brie!

Pretending I know what I'm doing.

Walking around Shelby Bottoms with a fellow CA gal!

Our first professional football game! Titan up!

That's my Amie!

Gentry Farms in Franklin

Leaves I found around Radnor Lake.

Pumpkin Painting Party! A new tradition for Cam and I!

Maria and Adam's 80s Birthday Bash

The start of a Southern cooking blog with Brie!

Well, if you've made it this far, I am impressed! This post has been one of my favorites thus far, as it has allowed me to take a look back at this year and all that I have done! How blessed am I!?

Until next time, y'all!