Saturday, November 15, 2014

Help my unbelief


I have struggled these past few days with worry.  With feeling like so much is out of my control.  With feeling as though I am not doing enough... not qualified enough... not good enough...

While I am seeing the chapter in my life of full-time stay-at-home mom and grad student come to a close, I am trying to focus on the excitement.  Typically, I do this fairly well.  But not these past few days.

I'm feeling overwhelmed.  And in my head I know I shouldn't worry.  But my heart is troubled.  The what-ifs are moving in.

In times like these, I need to remember.

A few months back, I wrote a message to a dear friend, recounting the many ways that God has provided for my little family.  He has taken such amazing care of us...
and I find it fitting that I should review it for my own heart's sake.

August 5th, 2014
The Sprang Texas Saga:

We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that our move from North Carolina to Texas was a "God leading us" time in our lives. We felt a release from our church in NC and an uncontrollable giddiness at this new opportunity to be a part of something new and different.

There were a few factors that were still in limbo though... the biggest issue for us was our house. We put our house on the market in March and we moved the first weekend in May to Texas.... with it still on the market. Additionally, I had just graduated with my bachelors (after being in school and working part-time for the past 3 years of our marriage). So because we still had a mortgage and utilities in North Carolina and I had yet to find a job, we decided to find the cheapest, one-bedroom apartment we could, knowing it would be short-term. We crammed our 3-bedrooms worth of furniture and "stuff" into our tiny cave, as we called it. At least we had a walk-in closet! HA!

We were in Texas about a week after the move and then were headed to Florida for a few weeks to stay with Jonathan's folks, taking advantage of a little vacation time to recharge. During that week in Texas, I had a few interviews for music teaching positions lined up and felt really good about one interview in particular. As we were heading to the airport, I got a call from the principal of a school 5 minutes away from our apartment - I got the job!!! I was so excited and so thankful for God's provision! While I wouldn't start the job until August (and get my first check until September), something was on the horizon! It seemed almost that this job found me.

The house was STILL on the market...

August finally arrived and I went through all of the teacher orientations, decorated my classroom, met the other music teacher at the school (we hit it off IMMEDIATELY!), and began making preparations for the students to come. One week went by with the kiddos, and I was loving it! But I was also struggling with lesson planning. See, I did my student-teaching with a high school choir which was very different than an elementary classroom. Additionally, I had over 30 students in each class period for 45 minutes, sometimes 3 times a week. To spare calculation, that is a lot of kiddos for one person to handle and a lot of activities to keep them engaged. I had many, many behavior issues with students. Some were extreme. After the 2nd week, I became less excited and more overwhelmed. Was I doing this right? After the 3rd week, my confidence was really shaken and I was really struggling. As each week went by, I became more and more overwhelmed. I felt this was my calling but was feeling so completely overwhelmed and unqualified. I began having panic attacks, both at school and at home. After six weeks, I decided I needed to resign and give my 2 weeks. The next morning I had a panic attack so badly at school that the principal told me to go ahead and pack up my room as quickly as possible and be done. Interestingly, during these six week, I became friends with another teacher who struggled with teaching in this same way. We really connected and she told me about her husband and father-in-law that owned a small business selling commercial playground equipment. They were actually looking for someone to begin a full-time office position. I had my last day teaching on a Tuesday and started working for her family the following Monday. Wow. God's provision!! Again, it seemed that this job found me.

Our house was STILL on the market...

I worked for the playground company for about a year and they were the kindest, best folks to work for. My boss took the 4 of us employees out to lunch once a week and also didn't make us clock out during the lunch hour - so I worked 35 hours but was paid for 40. They were gold and I grew very close to them. I didn't earn nearly what I would've teaching but God was providing, we were happy, and I was healing. Things with Catalyst were really booming, too, and that was a huge source of relief!

18 months after we listed our house... IT SOLD!!!! We ended up taking an offer $15,000 less than our list price. Yuck. But we were free from double living expenses!! Around that same time, we were literally getting kicked out of our apartment... because it was going to be demolished. A huge tollway was coming through and landing right on top of us. Another long story short, they ended up paying us $8,000 to move out of our apartment! With a great realtor-friend's help, we found a home in Rowlett for a killer, steal-of-a-deal.

Around that same time, a friend of ours was a band director for Dallas ISD. He was telling me about an all-girls, public high school that was needing a choir director. This school was small and was a magnet school, only selecting motivated students with academic promise. Immediately, my heart started leaning towards this position. Long story short, after 3 interviews, I got the position and was stoked!! Again, it seemed that this job found me!

About 6 weeks into teaching I began to struggle again... my students were engaged and motivated. Lesson-planning was much more comfortable and was much easier for me since I'd had experience in this area during my student-teaching. But, still, I was struggling with depression. At this same time, Dallas ISD was having serious financial issues and was actually allowing teachers to voluntarily resign and receive a $1,000 "reward"! Eek! I began to question... should I do it? Maybe I'm just not cut out for this?! I was beginning to have panic episodes again. At the urging of Jonathan and some close friends, I began seeing a counselor. During that time in counseling, I worked through some issues... my fear of failure. My fear of not knowing how to succeed. I needed to stick with it, for my own sake. With the support of my husband, my counselor, close friends, and some little miracle pills (aka Zoloft), I persevered. These two years of teaching held some of the most wonderful moments in my working history. We were also free from our double living expenses and I was now earning more. So, in the two years I taught, we were able to mostly live off of Jonathan's paycheck and use mine to pay off my student loans, refinance our house, pay cash for a used mini-van (because we were having a baby soon!), and re-stock our emergency savings. Thank you, Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace! 

When I got pregnant we decided I would stay home with the baby. We were used to living off of one income for the most part and I could teach piano lessons to help supplement. We did everything "right"... But... after having Jacob we used nearly all of our savings for hospital bills. Bad idea. Live and learn - and get on a payment plan! Ever since then, we have never had much more than $1,000 of unaccounted for savings in the bank for any length of time. However, we have had NUMEROUS occasions when we were in need (i.e. car repairs, dental issues, washing machine stops working, etc.) and we have always had the means to take care of the situation. Not more than. But always enough.
There is a light on the horizon for us. We have had a very tight four years financially. Never before have we felt quite this strapped. I will be graduating in December and looking to re-enter the workforce. I will do my part to look for a job... but I have an uncanny feeling that a job will find me. That God's provision will continue for our family. While it has not been easy or fun, I am truly thankful for our story. Without these situations, we would not have experienced God in this way. And I count it as a blessing!

God, thank you, once again, for Your great faithfulness.  You see us.  You love us.  You take care of us.  Please lead and guide.  Please be clear and I will be obedient.  Please help me to rest.

LORD, I believe.  Help my unbelief.