Tuesday, November 30, 2010

snow-shoveling ministry

I am still trying to figure out what to do with my time since my layoff one month ago tomorrow (Nov. 1st). Today I was planning on working out in my comfortable living room to a challenging DVD when I thought, I should go shovel the inch or so of snow on our driveway.

As I was getting ready, I was thinking about shoveling our newly widowed neighbor's driveway too. As I was scooping our snow, I began thinking about the additional widow in our cul-de-sac. Then thoughts of other single women came to mind: the divorced lady down the street, the divorced lady across the street, the probably-widowed elderly lady across the street and the lady whose husband has been in South Africa for over a year tending to his elderly dad. Every driveway I shoveled, I realized there were more I could help. The two single sisters across the way and the stay-at-home mom nearby with her husband already gone to work. There are a lot of single women living around me. I think they might be the modern day widows Jesus talked about in the New Testament.

It sure feels good to help others and I got a good workout doing it. After I came inside, 9 driveways had been shoveled because I let God use me this morning. Good thing it was only an inch of snow!

This is making good use of my time while unemployed. I pray that I will listen to God's promptings more. I know this leads to a better, more fulfilling life.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jaden is 6!

My little boy, Jaden, keeps getting bigger. He turned 6 years old on Tuesday, November 23. We had a big football party for him last Saturday where he celebrated with his closest friends. There was a lot of football played and a lot of wrestling that made the moms close their eyes. It is amazing how rough 4-6 year old boys play. No one got seriously hurt which seems like a miracle and that makes me very thankful. The boys played a few football games and ate some cake. My mom once again did an awesome job decorating the football field cake that Jaden requested with Teddy Grahams. Bryan helped me create a football field in our living and dining room after we moved the furniture into other rooms. We used green plastic tablecloth and lots of tape to secure and label the field. There was lots of play space and many footballs were kicked and thrown. I am sure this will be a memory in Jaden's head for many months to come. He got to kick and throw footballs in the house - this was quite the exception to the rule.

Jaden is incredibly physically talented. He loves all sports and constantly amazes me with his football knowledge and attention span for football. I will not be surprised if he is a sports star in high school. I pray that Jaden allows God to use his talents for good.

This year Jaden's actual birth-date reminded me of the year he was actually born (2004). He was born on a Tuesday and this year we got to celebrate on Tuesday. I went into labor Sunday night. Yes, I had a very long labor; about 36 hours of timed contractions (less than 10 minutes apart). I had just defended my master's thesis the previous week, on Thursday I think. On Monday morning I had to call into my work and tell them I was in labor and not coming into work. I spent most of Monday laboring at home. We went into the clinic mid-afternoon and I was 3-4 cm dilated. We chose to walk around instead of get admitted. We headed to Crystal City, VA to walk around the mall. This was awkward as I kept having contractions around strangers but the walking was helpful. We headed back into the hospital (near the clinic) Monday evening after I had progressed. I was admitted and got an epidural. I got to sleep about 2 hours after not sleeping the night before and Jaden was born around 9:30am on Tuesday. We left the hospital on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and there were many thanks going up to God. Then my parents flew out that evening to help us and meet their new grandson. That was a Thanksgiving to remember.

What a blessing Jaden has been in my life! In more ways that he will ever know! I need to share this more with him. I am truly blessed to have him as my son. He is an amazing kid and shares his energy and excitement for life with everyone around him. He is my contagious energetic son.

Friday, November 19, 2010

brace face



I am still figuring out what to fill my life with since being laid off but one thing that is sure to take up more time is having braces.

I have been seriously contemplating getting braces for about 3 years and finally went ahead and did it to take advantage of my orthodontic coverage that is expiring soon because of the layoff. I have an ectopic eruption of my upper right canine that is the main reason for the braces. I am very much looking forward to not experiencing the physical discomfort this tooth has caused me in the past.

I am sure to be in pain or at least uncomfortable for 18 to 24 months. I have not successfully been able to chew food since getting the braces put on Thursday afternoon. I am living on smoothies, milk shakes and mashed potatoes right now. I am sure to expand my menu into pudding, yogurt and oatmeal. Any other food suggestions are appreciated.

I was doing great for the first few hours after getting the braces. Last night and this morning were painful but Tylenol and Advil provided some relief. I am feeling less pain now and it is encouraging that it won't last forever. Maybe I will be able to chew something tomorrow but I am not counting on it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

laid off

I arrived at work on Monday with 50 or so cookies in tow. They were ready to be passed out as soon as I heard word of the first layoff. We all knew they were coming but were all wondering when would be the first one. There was a 10 minute conversation with friends and coworkers about our dread and concern for the day. I returned to my desk to go about work as usual when I got a call from my manager.

Me - "Hello."
Him - "Can you come to my office?"
Me - "Sure."

I walked into my manager's office knowing that this might be it. I watched for the cues. He closed the door. This was truly it. He had a piece of paper intentionally hanging 1/4 of the way out of a manila folder. I read it upside down. "Last day worked is Nov. 1, 2010"

He went on to nervously explain the procedure for the layoff. I remained calm and did my best to reassure him I will be fine and have already been looking for other work, space-related work, not weapons. I told him I knew that he had a very hard day ahead of him too. He told me that he was always pleased with my work and that he would be happy to provide a reference for me. I appreciated hearing that.

I went on to talk with friends, old acquaintances and new acquaintances throughout the morning while handing out cookies to anyone I saw. I know the cookies didn't fix anything but they were a nice conversation piece and a little sugar brings smiles to people's faces. In total, 77 of 495 employees were laid off, or about 15%, which was less than the 20% we were warned about 3 1/2 weeks earlier.

In the end, I am happy that I got laid off from designing weapons. The big picture disgusted me at times but also brought me to a better appreciation of our military. I enjoyed the daily work but was overwhelmed at times by the consequences of weapons. I feel good that I got laid off instead of someone else because my job was not necessary for my family to survive. I feel for and pray for those that got laid off that desperately need their income. That was the hardest part of the day...seeing others struggle.

Now I am figuring out what life looks like for me without a job outside the home. I have 2 kids that go to preschool/school 4 days a week. I love this mix for them and they need the school. Now what do I do with my time?

I did the stay-at-home gig for 4 years and it didn't workout so well for me. It left me depressed and sucked some major joy out of life. I am concerned about this happening again. Bryan is very encouraging and not rushing me to get a job again but to explore if I can enjoy not working for awhile. I am trying that for now.