Trip to Seattle, 2011

In early September, my husband and I loaded up a rented RV with my very pregnant sister, her husband and their 3 dogs. We embarked on a fun road trip from Dallas, TX to Seattle, WA to move my sister and brother in law to their new home. Click on the pictures to see our trip.

My sister is due really soon with she and Greg's first baby, little Sophie Juel. Enjoy these pics, because from here on out, this blog might very well be all about the baby :-)

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The Summer of Suck

I'm 99% sure I called last summer the same thing...but I'm too beat down to go back and look at my blog.  That's how suckish this summer was.  Let's recap, shall we?

--I took a new job in October.  Yay for more money. 
--At the beginning of summer, the City of Dallas gives an across the board pay cut.  Hubby's pay cut takes up all of my new job pay raise...and then some.  Like, to the tune of $20,000.
--The same broke City of Dallas builds decorative suspension bridges from South Dallas to downtown Dallas.  I now glare menacingly at them as I drive past them and think "Oh, those paycut bridges are just lovely"
--Lindsay moves home for the summer.  I love her.  She loves me.  But when an "independent" kid moves back home with her parents, it ain't all sunshine and roses.  We made it.  No blood was shed.  God is good.
--My new job requires dealing with hostile people.  I'm the senior manager, so all complaints funnel through me.  I start to believe humanity is more stupid than I feared.
--I inherit a new cat.  Existing cats become distressed.  One manifests stress in puking on the ONLY rug in my house, daily (couldn't aim for the hardwoods...Heaven forbid)  Other cats manifests stress in peeing on my bed pillows
--After months of telling us "everything is fine", daughter's college Financial Aid department informs me "we lost all your paperwork.  Start over.  And hurry or she'll lose her schedule and her housing". 
--For 2 weeks in a row, I've worked 11 hour days
--Daughter starts new school.  Uniforms are required.  They tell me the wrong colors (WTF??)
--I return wrong colors, and my mom graciously buys right colors.  Half don't fit.  Sigh.
--Money gets ridonkulously tight as our house payment jumps a little too high for our liking and we are paying for college classes for summer
--DFW (Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex for those of you not living here) sees 64 straight days of over 100 degree temps
--It hasn't rained a drop since May
--My lawn dies.  Then my bushes die.  The flowers never had a chance
--My foundation begins to crack and my sidewalk leading to the front door sinks.  Now I'm waiting for visitors to catch their toes on the now-elevated porch and take a header into my front door
--People are SO cranky because of the heat (see above about hostile people I deal with at work)
--Hubs is told he's being transfered back to patrol.  He's been a recruiter/background investigative detective for 6 years
--City of Dallas says "Haha.  Just kidding.  Stay in recruiting" but then don't give him anything to do since the suspension bridge money keeps them from being able to hire new officers.  He can't stand not having work to do.
--Hubs is now stressed at work.  I start to take on his stress.  I'm supportive like that.
--My pregnant sister announces she and her husband are moving to Seattle :(
--I'm burning out on a particular ministry at church.  I want to drop out, but guilt prevents me.  Guilt is a fun emotion.
--Youngest daughter starts youth group and jr high.  I wonder where my baby went (see previous post)
--My faith feels weak...almost non-existent.  It's not like me.  Depression sets in.  Anger sets in.  I stop talking to God

It has been a bad summer


God knew all of this was coming.  He took the path before me.  He walked it beside me.  He even kept walking beside me when I spiraled to a dark place and stopped talking to Him.  He let me cry and yell at Him for feeling so distant.  He let me struggle.  I didn't see why at the time, but I see it more clearly now.  A sweet friend gave this to me when the struggling hit its peak--A demon blocked Daniel's prayer for 3 weeks until the angel, Michael, removed the demon so Daniel could speak to God.  The obstacle in the way of Daniel's prayer had to be removed before God could receive or answer.  You sometimes have to determine what the obstacle is before it can be removed.

In my heart, I knew I was the obstacle.  I never doubted that.  But not until a recent sermon from my sweet pastor, Rodney, did I realize the extent of my obstacle.  He preached to us on Luke 15--The Prodigal Son. Rodney just slayed me as he talked about the older son in the parable.  The older son who resented his brother being welcomed home.  The older son who had done all God asked of him and felt he should be rewarded.  Here's where it got ugly (I wrote it down, lest I forget)

Rodney "In my years of pastoring, I'll never forget this moment.  I sat across the desk from a woman who sought my counsel.  She was in tears and deep grief over her son who was running from God.  He made very bad choices that had huge consequences and his mother was so distraught.  She looked me in the eye and said 'Why did this happen?  I raised my son in church, taught him God's word and lived what I believed.  Why is God letting this happen to my son?' 

As clear as if He were sitting in Dane's chair beside me, God said to me "Why do you think I owe you?  You're angry and sad because you think I'm not allowing circumstances to keep you happy.  But why do you think I ow e you that?"  It was gut-wrenching and I just dissolved to tears.  Like the sobbing, ugly cry you don't ever want to do as you sit on the front row of your church.  But that's how bad I felt that I was saying to the God of the universe, "I'm so pissed that we're struggling for money, it's too hot and people are rude to me on a daily basis!
  Suddenly as if God were replaying this summer for me, it occurred to me that deep in my heart, I had decided that my bad times in life were when cancer came at us, and since that's long over now, then God "owes me" a smooth sailing life from here on out.  Wow.

I think this summer was so God could weed out the thoughts in my heart I wasn't allowing Him access to.  I think He needed me to see that the older son carried as much sin as the Prodigal Son because the older son felt God was indebted to him for his good works and attitude.  Wow.

I'm still reeling from the summer.  Things are slowly (but surely) mellowing out and I'm now capturing the dark thoughts to the glory of God.  It's still hot (like center of the sun hot people!!), people are still rude (but somehow if I smile at them anyway, they get sweet.  Go figure) and God has faithfully pulled us from the money pit.  And my heart?  Well... I'm talking to God again. And I am:  "pressed but not crushed, persecuted, not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed".  I'm remembering it "rains on the just and the unjust".  I'm recalling "It is because of His mercies we are not consumed.  And because His compassion never fails, it is new every morning--Great is His faithfulness"

Amen and amen.

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