we have arrived.

I have to share this with you.

I don’t know why. 
Perhaps it’s because I’m hoping you’ll say, “oh, dear, we’ve been through that too”. Or maybe it’s because you’ll say, “yep, that’s totally normal”. Or maybe it’s so you’ll understand why I’m highlighting my hair (with a $6.00 box of highlighter, no less) every other month to hide the gray.
I knew it was coming. 
I really did. But I guess I was hoping that we’d beat the system, or figured out some groundbreaking trick to parenting.

We have unofficially hit the “2’s”. I’m not going to call them the “terrible 2’s” because any age is a blessing. If he’s changing, it’s because he’s growing. And if he’s growing, that’s a blessing.

But, alas, PB has hit a new stage in his life, and we have entered a new stage in parenthood. Though just a few days shy of his 2nd birthday, PB thinks he’s ready to have his own bank account, develop unhealthy addictions, and operate heavy machinery all by himself. And by this, I’m referring to the fact that every store we go into, he finds several things he wants and says “buy dis mama” or “pay for dis mama”. I also made the unbelievably stupid decision to let him try a piece of chewing gum one day, and now he SCREAMS for it all of the time. Parent of the year award right here, y’all. And he has suddenly decided that he can do everything by himself. Cut his hair? No problem, he can do it. Drive my car right off a cliff with no help? Yep, he can do that, too.

And I’ll say this: the “2’s” hit without a warning. Let me tell you how it happened.

Ben has been preaching some on the side. He usually does once a month at our church, and sometimes at other churches. A couple of weeks ago, Ben’s old boss invited him to preach at his church. Ben had preached there before a while back, so he agreed to do it. The church is about 25 minutes from our house, and on the way there, PB fell asleep. He usually only naps one time a day, and it’s pretty much at the same time every day. If his nap schedule is off, he’s usually pretty grouchy. Oh well, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, right?

When we got to the church, we sat on the first row, close to the stage. We sang a few songs, and then Ben went up to the podium to give his sermon. PB had been okay up to this point. I had brought a pencil and some paper to draw on. Unfortunately, he got tired of drawing on the paper, and decided he’d rather draw in the songbooks. I gave him a ‘look’ and whispered ‘no’ to which PB kindly replied in his screaming voice ‘nooooooooo’. We argued back and forth as quietly as I could manage. He was screaming the whole time. I finally managed to wrangle the songbook out of his hand. I turned my head for .83727 seconds to put the book back in the pew, and he was gone….. straight up the aisle and onto the small stage where Ben was preaching. Oh my gosh.

As soon as he made it up on stage, he screamed “AMEN!” The congregation gave a nice little chuckle and Ben smiled at him and patted him on the back. I was slightly relieved as I made my way to the stage to grab him, thinking to myself ‘at least he didn’t cause that much of a scene’. Ahh….(s)he who laughs last.

As soon as I got to the stage and tried to pick him up, he ran from me. He took off to the other said of the stage laughing, and saying “no, mommy”. As calmly and church-like as I could, I walked to the other side of the stage and managed to catch the back of his shirt as he was tried to run from me again. As soon as he felt me catch him, he started screaming “NOOOOOO! MOMMA NOOOOO!” I tried to pick him up, and started kicking.

Now at this point, I’m wondering what on earth to do. Ben is still trying to preach to draw attention away from the situation, but it’s obvious that all eyes are on me and PB, fighting on the stage beside Ben. He’s screaming so loud that he completely drowns out Ben’s voice. I had a dress on, and I was trying not to expose my rear to the whole church. I started trying to drag him off stage by his arms, since he was kicking so much I couldn’t hold on to him. As soon as he felt me pulling him, he starts screaming “help, help, help, momma hurts you, help, helpppp!” Seriously. The kid is screaming “help, mama’s hurting me” on the front stage of a church while his dad is preaching.

I managed to drag him to the bottom of the stage, and I was able to grab him and hold him like a dead log under my arm. I made my way off the stage and walked back down the aisle with my head hung as low as it could possibly hang. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone in the pews, thinking if I couldn’t see them, then they couldn’t see me. Right? He screamed and kicked until I made it outside. I took him straight to the car and we sat until church dismissed.

When Ben made it to the car, I told him not to talk to me, and we sat in our own front seat silence, while PB talked and sang songs the whole way home, just like nothing had happened.

And so there it is. He’s been this way ever since….. Mr. Independent, Mr. Do-it-myself, Mr. Let-me-push-mom’s-buttons-to-see-what-I-can-get-away-with. And just like every single new stage we enter, I was not prepared for this. And I guess in some naive way, I was thinking we would avoid this part of kiddo-hood.

Ahhhh. I was wrong dear friends, I was wrong.

I can’t WAIT to see what the teen years are like!

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He does provide.

In exactly 17 days, I will celebrate the 1 year anniversary of quitting my ‘dream’ job to follow my heart. And by follow my heart, I mean living for an undetermined amount of time on a single paycheck, while paying for school, working for free (aka student teaching), and paying for daycare.

In case you missed it, I quit my self proclaimed ‘dream’ job around this time last year. I loved my job, but my heart was not in it. I wanted to teach, and I wanted to spend more time with my family. So I took a giant leap of faith last November and walked away from my very stable and comfortable job, only to face plenty of bills and unemployment.

So many people called me crazy, y’all. Seriously. I had nothing to do but rely on my faith in knowing that God had a bigger, better plan for me most days. And other days, I let the criticism get to me and I lost focus on what I was doing. Those 9 months were a total roller coaster of emotions. I cried and doubted myself a lot. I panicked as I watched my savings dwindle down, and I felt some pretty serious guilt for putting my family in the situation that I did.

But don’t you know, the God I serve is bigger and better than any doubt or guilt or financial burden I face.

I have to share this story with you because it really shows how God does provide. I am overwhelmed when I think about just how faithful He is.

As I was preparing to quit my job last year, I spent some time building up a small savings account to help provide for us while I was unemployed. With my paycheck, I typically paid for daycare for the month, bought groceries and toiletries, and paid for my gas. I wanted to continue to pay for those things as best I could, so that would enable Ben to continue saving and paying for other bills.

I had November and December of last year off before I started student teaching. I spent cautiously at Christmas last year, hoping to stretch my little savings account as far as I could. From January-May, I spent $440 a month on daycare. That was almost an easy $2,000 on childcare for the time I was student teaching. Seriously, so many days I came home in tears, thinking of what I was putting us through.

Groceries were the next big bill. I spent as little as I could, and cut as many corners as I could find. I did some couponing when I had the time, and relied on a frozen stockpile I had started accumulating before I quit my job. Even with this, I still spent an average of $300-400 a month on groceries. So, even figuring with $300 a month for food from November to July, that’s still around $2,700 for eats.

As summer approached, my little savings account was quickly becoming lifeless. I spent as cautiously as I could. I had NO income. And yet, God still managed to provide. Every time I looked at my bank account, I was certain I should have less money than what I had in there. I got summoned for jury duty, and got a $30 check for that. Then, I got to substitute teach a few days at the end of May, and got a $120 check for that during June. We planted another garden, and it grew beautifully over the summer. We managed to get a lot of great meals for free! I counted every penny and held on tight.

As the end of July was drawing near, I had no job, and no prospect for a job. I stopped looking at my bank account, and just prayed that God would take care of us. I was so, so discouraged.

The last week of July I managed to get an interview for the position I have now. I never thought it would work out, and I felt like the cards were stacked against me. And lo and behold, a few days later I got the call that I had gotten the job. It was an interim position, but it was for a year, and it was with full pay and benefits. Praise the Lord!

I started work in August, and worked 2 1/2 weeks before I got my first paycheck. It was on a Friday. I’ve never been more happy to get a piece of mail in all of my life. I pulled up my online bank account for the first time in over a month, and I immediately started crying. $32.14. Thirty-two dollars and fourteen cents. That was all I had left to my name before I had gotten that first paycheck. Months of unemployment. Months of paying for necessities and bills. Months of thinking that I should have already ran out of money. And months that He provided for us.

Isn’t that the way He works? He’s always there. Always. It may not be on our time, but it’s always right on time. 

Looking back on this past year, I’m overwhelmed. I’m blessed. And I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the unexpected lesson in faith, following your heart, and finances. And I’m here to say this: if God is leading you to it, He will lead you through it.