Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I have a new blog!

Hello Friends!
I am now blogging on WordPress.com, which will likely be my main blog. Check out the link below!

https://balancedwellness.blog

I will occasionally still write personal reflections here with Blogger, but you will find tips for healthy living and wellness on my WordPress blog. 

Thanks so much, and see you soon!   :) 

Sara

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Misperceptions

 ~Always think positively in the midst of misperceptions~


     Being a divorced woman, I come into contact with people misinterpreting & misperceiving things that I say. After having lived the "single parent exhaustion" for over two years, I'm open and talk about my desire for a remarried future. Most people tell me to seek true rest in Christ, knowing that He is all I have, and that He will make all things better in His perfect timing (why can't they simply dream with me?). I know that people mean well, but they don't understand what that sounds like to a single parent who has already put their trust in Christ. Plus, it's not a spiritual issue. It's a physical (sharing "life load") and companionship issue that God cannot physically fill because He is a Spirit. The exhaustion in life is not a reflection of how much a single parent prays each day, nor how intently they seek God's direction in life. The single parent is physically drained day after day, without encouragement or support, and with absolutely no end in sight. Their prayers seem to float to an indifferent God who doesn't see fit to change the heaviness of the load, nor the situation. In fact, it's as if God twiddles His thumbs in amusement. Time and time again, the single parent continues to seek God, pouring their heart out, asking why nothing has changed in their favor and why they must experience such physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion year after year. Does this mean they aren't "resting" in Christ? Quite the contrary, the single parent throws themselves into the arms of Christ time and time again, desperately seeking a more balanced life. A more balanced load. The single parent is held and carried within a unique "rest", in the midst of being weary. If God had intended for all single parents to be alone forever, He never would have created Eve for Adam. If no one was intended to date or remarry until a measured time when they were "super close" to God, then all the individuals who remarried quickly (and with successful marriages) must have missed out on the memo and aren't close to God? Christians give the message that divorced individuals are in much greater need of drawing closer to God than the average person. Sadly, the Christian community gives an irrelevant vibe to singles. Also, thanks to feminism, many people think women need to remain single for an indefinite amount of time to prove they can live on their own, or to flaunt success. I don't agree with this mentality, and wonder why other singles aren't truthfully admitting exhaustion and tiredness. I know good and well that we all need each other, and that studies have proven people are happier within satisfying relationships and a supportive community. This doesn't necessarily mean everyone is meant to be married, but we sadly live in a very secluded, individualistic society where we seem to be in a competition. A competition for what? To hide how we need one another?
Misperception, feminism, and legalism have greatly irritated me, but I've learned to let them go and consider what God wants for my life, personally. I ask Him daily to make everything clear to me, and for strength to keep up with my crazy life.

A story unlike our modern day, yet similar in some aspects, is the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth and Naomi were two women in the Bible desperate for help, yet no one was willing to help them until Boaz came upon the scene [The Book of Ruth]. I'm sure you have read the story of Naomi and Ruth many times, yet failed to notice how it appeared they were overlooked by others in their community (since they didn't have husbands?). They both worked very hard and took care of one another, but it appears that no one thought to offer them help. I can only guess the rumors of the day, but likely Naomi wasn't admired for leaving her hometown years ago. Surely God had punished her terribly since He took her husband and two sons away, right? Perhaps she had worshipped other gods and *that's* why God punished her? I'm sure the community buzzed with numerous stories, questioning Naomi's integrity. Until you're a single parent yourself, you don't completely understand Naomi and Ruth's desperation for survival and community acceptance. God had seemingly ignored Naomi year after year after year. No doubt she learned to be content with their means of survival, working alongside her daughter in law. Both she and Ruth likely believed their endless daily routine would eventually end in a quiet, unannounced death. Imagine then, the overwhelming surprise and joy when Boaz stepped into their story. That's another thought in of itself! The fact that Boaz took a risk on a single woman who had been married before!!! The Bible only mentions one other man who gave an excuse as to why he couldn't marry Ruth. I imagine, however, there were many other non-related men who would have given many excuses of lack of time, needing to purchase other things, etc., etc.   :)

Obviously, Naomi and Ruth lived in a different time when single women lacked any type of security. What is attractive to me, however, is the lack of competition. They worked hard, and didn't seem to mind what others thought of them. Naomi even told the community to call her "Mara" (meaning bitter), and now that I'm a single mom, can't help but wonder if she had sarcasm in her voice while saying those words. Naomi was well aware that her life did not match those of the women around her; she did not feel accepted. She had previously told her daughters- in -law about God's goodness in her life, but chose to give the women in the community a different picture. Perhaps, Naomi knew they couldn't understand her story since they measured another's value by what they physically had? Just a thought of mine.   :) :) :)  Naomi obviously didn't let legalism get in the way of planning for Ruth's marriage proposal to a man she hardly knew. She must have known God wouldn't mind grafting a gentile outsider into His long-term plan. How did she know?

Like Naomi and Ruth, I am waiting for God to do something more than provide a means of survival. I am longing for more than the exhausting daily, monthly, yearly routine. This does not mean that I am not trusting or resting. It means that I'm weary, and hopeful for more to this story. Does it mean that I'm lacking joy? Not at all! I'm thankful for all God has done for me these past couple of years, acknowledging that His timing has been perfect in many areas including my schooling. I will soon enter my last year of school!! There is much to be thankful for.... but God is not finished yet, though I'm SO ready for Him to be.

*More on my schooling later ....




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A truly happy new year!!

Yay, for getting through a 15 credit hour semester this past fall!!!  :) :)
     Life was a challenge, and we finally got the hang of things around November when the semester was nearly finished. What matters most, is that it's behind us!!! I have thoroughly enjoyed Christmas/winter break with the kids, as this was the first one in two years without disruptions or chaos! Two Christmases ago was when my ex told both our families that he was gay and we were getting a divorce (I was in agreement having known he was gay for 16 of our 18 years, and having had worked through everything together ... but chaos within the extended family ensued).
One year ago was when my ex actually moved out of the house. He had lived in the basement after our divorce, for both of us to regain financial stability. Though I had anticipated his moving out, it was still uncomfortable celebrating Christmas last year.
   All of that to say .... I enjoyed soaking in everything Christmas THIS year! I took Ashlyn to see the Nutcracker, partly for her 13th birthday, and partly for Christmas. We had such a great time together!! I entered a drawing for a free ticket to the Christmas Symphony.... and I won!!!  I was SO excited to attend the Symphony for my first time ever (I didn't have the kids that weekend, and they had other plans). 
We also made a gingerbread house and baked cookies for neighbors. I think it may have been the first time in a couple years (?) since baking for neighbors, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

 At the Nutcracker! :)
My first Symphony!!!
                                                   My beautiful & fun daughter :)                     

      I was also starting over with Christmas decorations, due to the divorce. Thanks to after Christmas sales last year, and Hobby Lobby this year, my house once again looked like Christmas had arrived!!!   :)
     Christmas eve, we all attended Ashlyn's choir performance at the church where she and Antonin attend with their dad. What a nice evening! I am thankful we can all be on good terms with one another and remember the focus of life itself- Christ. Once we take our eyes off Christ, that is when chaos and strife develops.
     
     Now a new year is upon us- 2018!!! 
 I admit that I couldn't completely relax this winter break, because I was preparing to take my Praxis exam. The purpose of the Praxis is to become a certified educator within the state of Colorado.  I took my four hour exam yesterday without any breaks for food or water, because I'm such a slow test taker and needed the allotted time for each section. I passed all the sections well, except for math. :(   My scores in Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science, were well above the passing mark which surprised me! I was only a few points away from passing the math section.
     I will now find all my old math notebooks and review & practice everything I learned in college. I know that sounds funny and you're thinking "why didn't you do that in the first place?". Well, I had thought that practicing out of the Praxis book and the Praxis website would be sufficient. I see now, however, that the type of math questions can be anything other than practice tests. ;)  I am glad I can retake the math section only, instead of retaking all four subjects. Four hours of sitting in front of a computer screen is exhausting-especially without food or water!! That said, I wasn't really that hungry since I'm a nervous timed test taker. :)  

     One reason I didn't take the time to go through my old math notebooks pre-Praxis (among other "life happenings"), is because Caleb got his wisdom teeth removed this past Friday!! It had been recommended that his wisdom teeth come out last summer, but we waited for his dad's insurance to change for this new year. I'm glad we didn't wait any longer, because the oral surgeon discovered an infection in one area, and also removed a funky looking sore for a biopsy. We won't know the results of the biopsy until later this month. Caleb had a challenging weekend with the reintroduction of foods into his diet, but the great news is that he had little pain! He returned to school today, and I'm glad he is doing well!!

     Spring semester begins next week.Where did my winter break disappear to?! This semester, I will carry 12 credit hours and continue working my two part time jobs. I am becoming more excited that next year (2018-2019) is my student teaching year, and that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter!
     
     I'm anticipating this new year, named 2018. Wow! Where has the time gone?! Have I been sleeping? ;)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Making money at home- Penny Hoarder

Wow! Take a look at this list of ideas in making a few extra dollars in your free time!   :)
I have considered renting out a room downstairs, but the problem is that my kids are with me every other week.  lol! I am not certain how to work that out. ;)
 In between my lesson plans and homework assignments, I'll make a list of ideas that might potentially work for me! Click the link below to read the article.

https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/wfh/ways-to-make-money-at-home/

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Single Mom Finances

     I am well aware that everyone has finances to balance- not just single moms. However, "finance" has been a large issue that I've noted within single mom circles & discussions, along with my own personal experience. What causes the struggle for single parents?  Perhaps, like myself, their annual income suddenly decreased post- divorce by about $12,000 a year (comparing to pre-divorce, joint income). Yes- my income decreased that much, even with being paid monthly support from my ex-spouse. Not only do single parents "lose" their former way of life, but the change in finance triggers fear in many.
 A single parent may hesitate asking for advice from family or friends during these financial changes, because they feel terribly embarrassed by the numbers. Sharing with a stranger may be more comfortable.   :)   My personal suggestion for single moms (or for anyone), is to meet with a financial adviser, like an Edward Jones professional. Financial advisers do more than investing in IRA's... they help one to consider personal life goals and set a present-time, realistic budget.
As I'm typing this, I realize I haven't been able to stick with one "pre-determined" budget, due to expenses constantly changing each month. As long as there's money to cover the bills, that's what's important, right?  lol!

Balancing my own finances .... I received student grants so that I could enter my third year of college, but this semester I still owed over $800 even after grants were applied to my account. I had had surgery to remove a benign ovarian tumor one month before school started, and wondered how I would pay for both school and medical bills. Thankfully, my Edward Jones adviser had previously set up a Money Market account, called an emergency fund. I was able to pay my college tuition this semester, as well as a medical & credit card bill. I requested a 12 month payment plan for paying my hospital bill, and am attempting to factor that into my monthly expenses so I won't use up ALL my emergency fund. lol! Putting $100/month back into the emergency fund sounds like it'll take forever, but I believe I have a working plan. :)
July & August were enormous months for the kids' school & medical, besides my own (with joint custody, I pay the first 60% of the kids' medical things, and I share other kids' costs 50/50)... and then there was one medical bill of my own that surprised me. I have definitely discovered the great importance of having an emergency fund, and encourage everyone to build one!

How am I keeping track of everything? Well, you know good and well that spreadsheets and/or written-out budgets don't always work.  Basically, I added all my expenses into my bank account for automatic monthly withdraw. Anything can be edited, and I love that I can see all expenses at a glance. The only thing NOT automatically withdrawn from my bank, is my credit card bills. I keep track of my credit card purchases, and then stop charging when I come to a certain amount. I know this sounds much more simplistic than offering a spreadsheet solution.... but it's what works for me.  :)  There may come a day when I'll need to make the minimum payment on my credit cards, but I am trying very hard to remain debt free. We'll see how long this lasts?  :)

Like other single moms, my biggest worry is the months when the 1st of the month lands on a weekend or holiday.  Mortgage is due and automatically withdrawn from the bank the first of the month .... but .... the Government Family Support thing... (my ex is required to pay support through it and not pay me directly)... is often delayed because of weekends or holidays.  So, sometimes it's a challenge making sure the mortgage money is in my bank at the end of any given month. lol!! I have met single parents with MUCH worse stories, so I am counting my blessings!!

Oh, the struggles and joys of making my own financial decisions!!  I am SO extremely grateful for how God stretches & rearranges money, and have so far been successful.  Though I was careful with money prior to my divorce, I never considered myself to be a "number cruncher"/financial expert. I'm hopeful that sharing my experience is an encouragement for those in similar situations. You may not see yourself  as "good with money", and I agree that spreadsheet formula's aren't always the key.  ;)  For me, I needed the support of a financial adviser. Do what YOU need to be a success, and refuse to get under the mentally that you're somehow  "$1,200/yr less than". Sure, your income may have significantly decreased, but that doesn't reflect what's inside your heart.  You are very capable ... because you're God's beloved!   :)  And... best of all... He is an amazing provider. Simply count the ways ....

Monday, August 21, 2017

I'm back again :)

I have obviously neglected my blog over the summer, and without good reasons "why".   :)  
In June, I visited Indiana with the kids to help celebrate my dad's 80th birthday and say farewell to my sister and brother in law who relocated to Florida.
The rest of the summer...? I honestly don't know where it disappeared. 
I had outpatient surgery 4 weeks ago to remove what was thought at the time to be a simple ovarian cyst. My Dr had been monitoring it since January since I tend to be conservative medically and wanted to give plenty of time to "resolve".  It turned out that it was actually a benign ovarian tumor instead! I'm grateful I didn't wait to take care of it. Tumors (vs cysts) continue growing larger in spite of preventive health methods, and also create growing issues. My mom traveled by airplane (her first time in 51 years) in order to be with me before, during, and after surgery. I know that's what mother's do, but I still think she's quite awesome!! I appreciate all her time and effort!  :)
Summer break appears to have been the best time for surgery... considering I'll carry 15 credit hours this fall.
I'm thankful for a good recovery, and hopeful to increase my exercise endurance in time. 

In light of the past two years... I sometimes believe my life story is one big joke. I have seen blessings mixed in, however, and don't take any of it for granted. I definitely understand the meaning of Jesus being "in the fire" with you. The "bad" or "unfortunate" never completely overwhelms nor consumes.

I'm entering my third year of college, and recently discovered that I will receive enough student aid to pay for this year's schooling. I am thankful for another year without student loans! [prior to my divorce, I was taking a couple of classes at a time and paying my way through. Now, I am a full time student, work part time, and a single mom].
 That said, I am not looking forward to this 15 credit semester and pray that God's "got this" and knows what He's doing. 
He knows I would rather be at home with my kids more often.
I certainly hope God's plans include more than my being in school for the rest of my life (education field- lol!). 




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

End of semester and beginning of summer!

I actually have this summer off! My semester ended two weeks ago, and am already questioning where time has went. Everything I had planned for this summer... is it getting done? oh my ..
Remember that Economics class that was killing me? Well ... the instructor resigned a week before finals and failed to leave a final exam for the Department of Economics to give us. Chaotic story shorter, everything was graded on the curve, and I handed in extra credit. I ended up with an A- in the class!!!
No, I don't know what was going on with the instructor's personal or professional life, but I'm so grateful the students were taken care of by the Chairman and Dean.  Another lesson regarding not worrying about anything. 

Even with the end of spring semester, I'm still lacking time, and find that exhaustion accompanies it. I don't understand how some people can hold certain expectations of me.... or of any other single mom in the world. They honestly don't comprehend the exhaustion and/or challenges of single parenthood. 
One expectation I've noted, is that I remain single for an indefinite amount of time until I have somehow reached a pinnacle of "maturity" for remarriage. How can others even know what's inside my heart and mind to know when I am ready for another relationship?! lol!! Wouldn't I know this before anyone else, since I know myself better than anyone could?  I have noticed that when someone loses a spouse through death, seeking another mate is much more encouraged and supported by outsiders and/or friends. However, when a person loses a spouse through divorce, the divorced person is assumed to need many years of counsel while remaining a single hermit, or face friends' silence or indifference on the topic of dating. In reality, someone who has processed an end of marriage and divorce over a span of 2-3 years (or more), may actually be more "emotionally mature" and ready for a new relationship than someone whose spouse just died six months ago. Oh- I also realize that some do not believe in remarriage after divorce, but I'm not referring to that and won't get into that discussion.  :) 
So ... people may wonder why single moms prefer hanging out with other single moms? The dating topic likely is a fraction of it.  lol!!
Anyone who has experienced single parenthood knows the exhaustion and challenges involved ... and the importance of "teaming up" with a future spouse (for the benefit of the children, by the way. This also totally goes against what most people think).

I enjoyed a quiet Mother's Day with my three special children!!
They really are a bright light in my life, and I'm grateful I had/have the opportunity to be their mom!


 Caleb now works at Dairy Queen and has his driver's license; Antonin has his driver's permit, continues to play trumpet in school band and participate in Track & Cross Country.
Ashlyn enjoys playing clarinet in band, and has done a WONDERFUL job adjusting to Middle School this past year!!!  I am immensely proud of ALL three kiddos for adjusting to going back and forth between two homes this semester. 

I got together with my mentor yesterday for coffee at Till's, and we thought these bicycle racks were pretty amazing!!!!    :)  :) 

 She's my mentor, but I think we're about the same age.  lol!!
What a treat getting together for coffee (latte for me)!!!

One summer project I'm hoping to get done quickly- possibly before our June trip to Indiana- is to repaint the deck. A thoughtful neighbor removed as much old paint as possible (with the boys' help), but paint is stubborn. Tomorrow, I will begin sanding .... and hopefully it will not take me all day since I'd like to begin painting. lol! Projects always end up taking twice as long, so we'll see how things go. This will likely be a Memorial Day project with the kids' help.  :)

And ... yes! I cannot forget to mention how impressed I am with doTERRA, and how much I love their essential oils!! I am implementing oils within my daily life, and have seen improvements in so many areas. For instance, even though the life of a single mom is one of exhaustion, being able to be "uplifted" by peppermint and wild orange fragrance clears the mind and helps one begin their day more positively. :)  I am honestly not as exhausted as I *could* be. My children are also benefiting, though they inform me that I'm addicted. lol!
My personal website in case you'd like to check it out:  http://mydoterra.com/sarajuneflower