Sharlee's Story

Have you ever had a tough decision to make? Have you ever second guessed your instincts? Have you prayed for answers, but then felt too afraid to trust them?

My decision to quit my job after JaiseAnn was born was not easy and happened a bit unexpectedly.

While there are a myriad of reasons as to why some of you my not relate to my decision to stay home with my daughter, I hope you can relate to my feelings in the process of making a tough decision. My worries, anxieties, fears, prayers, etc. 

Before JaiseAnn was born, we discussed the option of me staying home. We didn't feel it was possible, so we planned and hoped that I would be able to work part time. Honestly, I felt that was the "best of both worlds." I wanted to get up and dressed every morning, spend time doing something that brought in a steady income for my family and that I had worked hard to be able to do, and then come home and be a mom. I told Zach that I thought it would be best if I always worked part-time even if we could afford for me not to. 

And then she came. And my world changed in an instant. I belonged to her and she belonged to me. We were partners entering a brand new world together. I was readmitted to the hospital only a few days after she was born and it was a really scary time for me. She needed me so much during that time. I could not sleep because she wouldn't be without me. She wouldn't let anyone else hold her. I felt like she saved me in a time when I was so scared and unsure. She knew I needed her and she made sure I knew how much she needed me. 

There were a lot of things that lead up to me finally saying to Zach, "I can't go back to work. I just can't. It will rip me apart."

There were so many reasons not to quit, finances being at the top. Everyone kept telling me, you have to make sacrifices to stay home." "If you want it badly enough you can do it." Well, I also have to make student loan payments. I was worried about my career. I was enrolled in graduate school and had a career path in mind--do I just leave that behind? I worried about my physical appearance. Would I take care of myself? Would I be able to go to the gym? 

But I still didn't want to leave my little girl. So I prayed for guidance. I prayed for help. I prayed...and prayed...and prayed. I don't think I stopped praying for weeks.

Little by little ideas or thoughts just came to our minds. Zach thought he should look into the remaining balance of one of his student loans. We had enough to cover that balance in the bank. It would deplete a good chunk our savings, but it would save our monthly budget. We paid it off. 

"Have Zach put you on his benefits." was a thought that came to me one day. That way I would be free to choose a job that was more flexible, part-time, or work from home. I could even run a daycare. If Zach put us on his benefits, it would open a lot of doors for us. So he did. And I waited for that first paycheck while holding my breath. I was so worried it would be too small. 

The check came and it was enough. Zach had worked overtime so we didn't really even notice the change. "I'll keep working extra." He promised. 

After that, I started searching for online work and plotting and planning a daycare. The ideas were coming like crazy. I wrote cover letters like I was a force to be reckoned with. I wanted this so bad and I was definitely being assisted in my efforts. I could feel it as I jotted down activities for a day care. I could feel it as I wrote out resumes. I could feel it in my heart. 

It came time to make a choice. With very little promise of an income for me, but all of these options out in the open, we decided to pray about it me quitting my job. When we decided that I would go to work the next day and resign, I felt a wave of peace wash over me. It was the right choice. 

 After resigning, I spent days at home worrying about the things that had already been tucked away safely, not to be worried about again. I am the queen of bringing those things back, and so I did. Every walk we took. Every time I nursed JaiseAnn. I started second guessing and hoping for a more sure situation. 

Then my boss called. She offered me the job of all jobs. It was the job I had been going back to school for. Only it was part-time and mirrored Zach's schedule. JaiseAnn would never have to go to daycare. She would never be without one of her parents. I would get to continue working in a job that I loved, but still be home more than half time with my baby. It was the best of both worlds

Except after that phone call, I sat down with my daughter and my heart felt heavy. I suppose I should have known right then and there, but I fought it. I wanted that job. I loved that I had been offered that job. I entertained the idea of taking it for several days. Zach felt that we had already received our answer, and promised he would work an extra shift after talking it over with his boss, but he also said he'd support me no matter what. 

We went back and forth on it, because I wasn't sold.  Zach told me to write out a pros and cons list to see how it added up. There were so many "pros" to taking the job. A steady income, continuing my career, having an income through next summer, and time for JaiseAnn to play with her dad. As I moved to the "cons" section I wrote, "Have to leave JaiseAnn." I felt like Ross on the episode of Friends where he tries to chose between Rachel and Julie. His only con for Julie is that she's not Rachel. The only downside to this job opportunity was that I would have to leave my little girl. Sure it was only a few days, and most people would jump at that chance, but the thought still left my heart heavy.

Our Heavenly Father is so incredibly patient with us, I know this because I still fought it. I wanted a deliberate answer right then and there.

The day I was supposed to call my boss, I was still teetering back and forth. Every time I decided out loud, I decided I wasn't taking the job, but in my head I still sort of wanted to and it was a struggle for me. Zach and I fought that day. We hadn't fought, really fought, in a long time. And this fight was a big one. One of our biggest. I spent that day angry and in tears. I was angry with my husband, but I was more angry with the situation. "If this job offer hadn't come up.." I began thinking and before I could even finish my thought, there was my answer. 
In our situation, this job wasn't a blessing. The offer had created contention in our home and stress that had not been there before. I wasn't supposed to take the job. So I called my boss and turned down the "offer of a lifetime."

"I need frozen yogurt!" I declared, and Zach, JaiseAnn, and I went and ate our yogurt while basking in the sunlight. We talked about how next summer, JaiseAnn could partake in my favorite treat with us and for the millionth time, talked about how wonderful our little girl is.

We tiptoed around each other, treading lightly, throughout the rest of the day.  That night, as I nursed JaiseAnn to sleep while rocking her just before we went to sleep, I felt a real wave of peace wash over me. I whispered to Zach, "I made the right choice."

Because here's the thing: I could list reasons to keep working or not all day long. I could hear valid arguments about it. I could make a million pros and cons lists with very good points for both sides. None of the options I have had at my disposal have been inherently bad. Which is why prayer seemed to be the only solution. Only He knows where I belong right now and why. 

Personally, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to leave my work behind and embrace this new job. For motherhood is truly the job of all jobs. I want to get to know the new person I've become.. I'm grateful that for now my answer is to be home with my little girl. There will always be time for work, but I won't get this time back. When she's grown, she's grown. I only get one chance to do this job and I want to (get to!) put my all into it right now.

Our finances aren't completely outlined on paper. I'm not sure what it will look like or how long it will last (honestly, I hope it lasts forever) but we've gotten our answer (more than once) and we're taking a leap of faith in following it.

Sharlee blogs here.


Presence and Joy

 Slow down and take care of the little ones and big ones with presence and joy. 
That is what they will remember! 
That is what they need.
(a quote from my mom)



I don't know why it's so hard for me to remember this, but a walk, no matter how short or long, clears my head more than anything else can.  By "clears my head" I mean washes away worries, doldrums, ruts, crabbies, just about everything.  No matter what the weather, it's always good to get out and breathe some fresh air, I think our bodies and minds need nature.  Now I sound like my mom! (Thanks mom for the best advice always!)

Yesterday I noticed how beautiful some of my favorite houses and their front doors looked and took some photos. I love the beginning of autumn in my little town-it feels old-fashioned and cozy and pretty. (Which has much to do with the weather.)

This house is always always perfect.

I have been inside this house for an open house years and years ago and it has tons of neat nooks and crannies and built-ins.

 You can't tell from this photo but the landscaping around this home is gorgeous.

This house is very simple-I think someone elderly lives here, I never see anyone out and it's not all "fussy", which makes me love it even more.

And how we roll:


Things I Want To Remember

I absolutely should be trying to take a little nap right now, while Janey is napping-she has been under the weather the last two nights and I feel like a fuzzy headed zombie, and a nap would do me good, but alas.

Abbey turned 18.  Look at my wonderful cake!  The foil I covered it with got stuck.  It all tastes the same anyways.

Here is a funny story about Abbey turning 18 I never will forget. She finally has an Iphone!  She had it all of two days, when she went out to eat with her friends for a birthday dinner at Olive Garden. 
And a waitress dropped an entire tray of plates on Abbey and her gifts and her Iphone happened to be sitting on top of her gifts and it was squished.  And I mean squished!  Not just shattered, it looked like a car ran over it.  Bent, dented, squished! After all those years of waiting. We had to laugh, it was just too crazy.  I also laughed because while she was relaying this information to Jeff on the phone I was just hearing one side, and not clearly.  I heard "insurance, not covered, did you get hurt?, how bad is it damaged" and my heart dropped, and then I asked Matt who heard more of the conversation, "What happened to Abbey?" and he said in his mumbly teenage boy way, what I thought was, "She broke her bone at the restaurant because someone dropped a tray on her."  I immediately went to- "She's in the ER, not the right one because insurance isn't covering it, CPR?"  (I also thought I heard something about CPR.  I don't know how but I did. Which made me think for a second she broke her bone and choked!)
So when I found out she broke her PHONE not her BONE, things all seemed a little funnier.
(And Olive Garden is replacing the darn thing, you better believe it!)

And most importantly, it wasn't the end of the world for her, she laughed about it, which is the correct reaction on the "how important is this in life" scale. 

I think maybe inside she was sort of feeling like it wasn't too funny, which I understand, but perspective is the key, and every mom of teenage girls always prays to sees the path to good perspective grow and mature as they progress through the teenage years.  

That's a fancy way of saying that we all panic when we see for example, our teen girls weeping over a hair out of place in 7th grade, that they slowly learn to steady themselves and see the world and it's obstacles with some clarity.  

College drop off day.  (Abbey had to work, Matt had soccer practice.)  If I thought high school goes fast, oh boy, college flies by.  He's a junior already!  He has the same room mate as last year, who happens to be an only child, and we parents think it's funny they get along so well.  

Isaac counting up his cash before he leaves.  (He delivered pizzas all summer and made some good tips and loved it.)


This will be one of my favorite pics.  They fought like banshees over the car this summer, but they are good friends too, I just have to remind them of that sometimes.  They look out for each other and did when they were little also.

This little girl, I don't know.  She is sweet and temperamental and brave and timid and demanding and easy and keeps me on her toes all day long (and into the evening also.)  But most of all she is a joy!

Matt, in a rare moment of free time.  I hardly see that kid!  Soccer and homework and weekend plans that have to be tampered down.  He is loving high school and loving his classes.

Sweet pea with the devilish grin.

We went and bought a fire pit last night and it took too long to put together, and then we were all too scared to look for wood because it was pitch black, so we burned marshmallows and popcorn using twigs and leaves and pine cones, and then I made everyone go to bed. 

And now I'm all caught up.


Things That Make Me Happy

It's September my favorite month of the year.  The air is crisp, the sun is brilliant, the temperature is cooler in the evening and just right during the day.  What's not to love?  (Besides fall allergies, but let's pretend that's not an issue.)

After this busy summer, I feel like I've caught my breath and can rearrange my head somewhat. It's amazing what a little recharge will do.  I feel like I had to take a step back and remember some things-the things that make my life feel full and my soul at peace.   Little and big things.

-The most important is practicing contentment. I crave that feeling and I really do feel like it's the key to happiness-because it goes right along with gratitude.  For the last six months, I have been spending money-picking out light fixtures, cabinet knobs, carpet, BLAH.  Dumb stuff.  It was necessary for me to do those things at the time, but heck, I want off that track, and now that we are finished here, and things are functional and basic, I'm jumping off!  Life is so much more important-so much more full-than STUFF.  And oh, does it feel good.  Function and organization and beautiful living spaces-I love them to the point where real life can shine through, beyond that it's all just feels like it robs me of precious time.  Sounds hokey but it's true to me.

And contentment doesn't just end with material goods.  It also means to me a settling in-finding contentment in small tasks, not large projects, or slow days, not "busy".  Busy never breeds contentment, it makes us miss the important stuff that life is made of.  Being content in just an ordinary day's work-that's the best.

-Staying far away from any/all media.  I haven't watched TV most of spring and all summer.  Or read the paper.  What is the latest news story?  I have no idea!  It's awesome.  I don't know how to explain it but it makes me feel so much better about humankind in general.  The news media operates on negativity, drama, fear and lies.  When around me I can see kindness, generosity, best interest, and love.  Sure evil too, I know it, but if I'm consumed by the negativity, I am not able to operate out of love, and the real story-that's never reported.  Does that make sense?  I'm sure it doesn't, but somehow I feel it's right.  Knowing the latest and greatest doesn't change things, it's action that changes things.  How often do we act on what we hear or do we just 'gossip' about it?  Real change happens with kindness and understanding, not fear and mistrust in human kind.

-Routine.  Getting work down before play, doing the same things every day, even when I don't want to.  Preparing dinner in the morning, staying on top of the laundry, making beds, running a vacuum or sweeping the floor, running as few errands as possible-being orderly-it orders my mind and allows me to be present for the important stuff.