Friday, December 20, 2013

Knowing when (to have kids, that is)

Me with my 2-day-old baby nephew Gideon in July
Now that I have a job and E has a job (Oh, I didn't mention! E has a job. he's a pastor. at our home church that we love. Praise God!)

As I was saying, now that life is a little more settled—we know we're staying in the San Diego area for the long-term and we're in our fifth year of marriage—the inevitable questions are coming up about kids.

I don't just mean from other people (though I have been hearing it from my family and friends more often) but also between E and I. It's funny how the thought of children hardly enters your mind for years, until it does. And then it's oh, hmm, maybe we should think about it. And then,what are we waiting for again?

I guess we're at a point where I don't have good excuses for putting it off any more. I mean, I have excuses. I know we'll never be ready—emotionally, financially or otherwise. And we know we can never completely prepare for it. But if it happened now, we wouldn't have to move back in with our parents.

Last year I wrote about feeling left of out of the mama club. Not that I wanted to be in it, but that I was starting to be really cognizant of the great divide between mom and non-moms. I'm still not sure how brave I am to enter this world.

When I think about parenthood I think of a lot of never-agains (quiet dinners out, and movies, and Europe trips, and sleeping in). It's hard to remember that we'll still have many good years after children, and that the freedom eventually returns. And it's hard to realize that the good things that kids bring into the picture could (maybe?) make up for all the things we'll lose. (Because—what if NOT?!)

I have a lot of fears. But one of the biggest and maybe the silliest is that I know that being a mother is a relatively thankless and marginalized job. And my ego reeeeally likes attention.

I am looking forward to some aspects of motherhood—seeing the world for the first time through the eyes of a mini-me seems kind of exciting. And E was born to be a dad—I can hardly wait to see him with our children.

But I still feel pretty meh about the whole having-a-baby thing. Most of my mama friends got bit hard by the baby bug at some point. I'm beginning to think maybe I just won't. (For what it's worth, I'm told this feeling will change when a baby is actually on the way.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

job hunting [tips to get through the agony]

(Saga started here)

So, six months I started writing about figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Half a year later I'm finishing the thought!

When I decided to start looking for a new job, I was completely overwhelmed. Every job I've had since I was 15 was basically handed to me on a platter. I haven't faced rejection. Before last fall, I never thought about what the average human endures when job searching. I was stepping into the great, dark and scary unknown. And I was scared - scared to fail.

My fear of failure usually manifests itself in a half-hearted effort. In school, in work, in life - I protect myself by justifying "I could have gotten that A/job/promotion/acceptance letter, if I would have really given it my all." This always gives me an excuse from success.

It took a lot of tenacity to set those fears aside and really give my job search a worthwhile effort. What I learned was that job hunting was just as scary and a lot more work than I imagined.

Job Hunting. Where even the most qualified and competent people must stoop to a level that feels near groveling to become a salesman of their own skills and experience. It required humility, patience and a lot of hard work. This  post probably isn't relevant to all of my readers, but as someone who interacts with a lot of unprepared college students looking for jobs in a competitive marketplace, I wanted to share a few of my own tips in case it would encourage or help anyone else in a similar position.

1. Revise your resume. Or better yet, update it regularly - every time you accomplish something new or take on new responsibilities, quantify and communicate them. Ask for help from fresh pairs of eyes. I got feedback from no less than four people before I started sending my resume out.

2. Draft personalized cover letters. Use a set of four to six core competencies and interests to draft unique cover letters customized for each potential job. Spend some time researching and address you letter to the appropriate hiring manager. (side note: I always sent a cover letter, even when it wasn't requested.*)

3. Swallow your pride and your nerves, and network. About a month into my search I sent an email to someone whose career I admired but had only met one time. I asked her to meet with me to review my resume and offer advice about my prospective field. It was scary, but it was the most helpful step in my job search process because it took me out of your comfort zone and helped prepare me talk about my experience and goals for the future.

4. Look often. You don't necessarily need to spend hours a day, but you should look for at least 30 minutes every few days for new posting. I looked on Craigslist, LinkedIn, Indeed, industry job boards and on the website of companies in my region. The job I found was not on any of the big job boards I spent most of my time looking on. It was only posted on the company site (because of a limited budget).

5. Read as much as you can. Devour articles on networking, resume-writing, interviewing, and marketing your skills. My previous job title was totally unrelated to my new job, but I was able to market relevant skills after realizing how to translate them directly to the new job requirements. I also, in my previous position, sought out opportunities to gain experience in my prospective field, by taking initiative in those areas (I workedhis was photography, editing, html coding and writing).

(5b. If at all possible, look before you get desperate. I was in a place where I was very ready to find a new position yesterday. It made me discouraged when the right job -or any job- wasn't coming up right away. You have a huge advantage when you're happy where you are, but always available to consider other options.)

*this is probably the single most important thing I did, and also the most agonizing and time-consuming.

Even though I realize now some of these tips are obvious, I learned them only after a lot of time and tears. For a while, I was in a cycle that looked like this: once a week I would find the perfect job, realize that I didn't meet three of the seven requirements, deliberate over how to make my not-completely-relevant experience match the qualifications listed, and try to be a balance of warm, witty and professional in all of my cover letters. Then after agonizing for hours I would send the documents, triple-check the content and spend hours refreshing, refreshing, refreshing for a positive reply. It was exhausting and discouraging.

What I ultimately learned is that you have to be just as good at selling yourself as you are good at the job you're trying to get.

My little story has a happy ending. I interviewed for a position that didn't quite fit the parameters for my perfect job. It was part-time and temporary, but it was down the street and in my industry (education). And when I got to meet the team I'd be working with, I was sold. At the time it felt risky, but it turned out that the job turned in a full-time position and was made permanent within six months. (I realize this isn't always the case and I wouldn't usually encourage accepting a job that doesn't meet minimum requirements) but I'm so glad I took this leap of faith.

So what am I doing? I'm managing the social media on a web communications team (along with doing some writing) for a local university. It's challenging, fulfilling and creative - all the things I was looking for. Eight months into and I'm still excited to go to work every morning. :-) The creative drain is apparently taking its toll on my blog writing...maybe I'll be back here regularly someday!

p.s. thank you for your kinds words after the death of my grandfather. Grief, like it tends to do, comes in waves. I appreciate all your prayers and thoughts.

Monday, August 19, 2013


My beloved grandpa Howard died last Saturday.

There are a lot of things to write about when it comes to death. The helplessness of watching a loved one in pain. The gruesome process of dying. (It's ugly and not at all beautiful, like Walt Whitman tried to make us believe.) The fact that few care when a grandparent dies (because he's older, and he's lived, and all of us have experienced the death of a grandparent already so get over it.)

I feel the loss of my grandfather as deeply as I would my sister. I will miss him terribly.

I looked up to grandpa more than anyone else I have ever known. But as I looked up to him - he encouraged me to look further up, to Jesus. There was no one who had spent five minutes with grandpa who didn't hear about his Christian faith. I know there are probably quite a few people reading this blog who don't believe in God at all, and this post might make you feel uncomfortable. But I can't talk about my grandpa without talking about the God who made him the man he was.

His faith in a all-powerful and loving Creator and Redeemer made him a joyful, selfless and grateful human being. He had been forgiven much and he loved much, and he showed that love to some of the most rejected and downtrodden people in this world. On a weekly basis he visited with prisoners, terminally ill, the fatherless, the widow, the lonely, the rejected, the mentally disabled. No one was a stranger to him. He brought his many friends to our family gatherings and welcomed them to his home. He showed genuine love to his wife of 58 years even when his marriage had disappointments, and he didn't feel like being loving. Sacrificial love defined his life.

My grandpa was a man of prayer who woke up before 5am every single day to pray for all those that God had given to him for ministry. His family members, his church family, co-workers, and the countless people he would meet on the highways and biways. I can remember that even as a little girl sleeping over at my grandparents, I would sneak downstairs in the early morning hours to see my grandpa poring over the bible, and praying. He told me every time he saw me. "You are loved and you are prayed for - every single day".

He never had money, nice clothes or nice things, but he gladly gave to everyone who asked because he set his priority on more lasting things.

The reason my grandpa could be the extraordinary man that he was - a man who was well-loved and well-respected, who showed up with a smile to help, who gave what little he had away, who told everyone he met "you are a blessing" (and meant it!) - was because of the extraordinary God who loved him first.

So, in this time of grief, I am sad only for us who will miss him. Because he is in his heavenly home, rejoicing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Instagram dump: The Netherlands and Belgium

We're back! And we had an awesome trip. I feel like every time E and I vacation together we get better at traveling in general and traveling with each other. There are so many stressers during out-of-country vacations that things can sometimes get tense and very un-vacationlike, but this trip went really smoothly and was so fun.

I"m going to do a series of posts on what we did and saw, but in the meantime, here's a little instagram recap from the trip (more than half of these photos are E's! he's much more talented than I) :-)

2013-05-08 12.19.57   Good morning from our houseboat in Haarlem :-)  Real olie bollen has no raisins!
The good ship Berezina, aka, home!   Coffee, Delft style  cutest travel partner/husband
Amsterdam canal scenes  Keukenhoff bridge  stroopwafels for breakfast
a flower in the field  The Rijksmuseum  Loving our day in Delft #oranjeboven
Whaddup, Bruges    Schuine Bak (aka the leaning chuch tower in Delft)   The bell tower.
heavenly pastures in Damme   We took in miles of flowers (and tourists) today at Keukenhoff gardens.   great beer from our favorite (secret) pub in Bruges      It will be sad to say goodbye  tomorrow to this view from our home of five days.   First Belgian beer in Belgium   Amsterdam was good to us today. #travel #holland #sunset

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We're off to The Netherlands and Belgium!

Last July E and I decided to start researching where to use my hard-earned airline miles for another big trip to Europe. We had to book nine months in advance in order to get seats on reward flights, so we went for it!

But then nine months went by really, really fast. April seemed SO far away that we suddenly panicked last month and got to planning. Traveling to Europe is a lot of work! But now we're off tomorrow to The Netherlands and Belgium, with a long weekend trip to see our dear friends in Milan, Italy on the way. My youngest sister and her husband are meeting us in Amsterdam halfway through the trip and we can't wait to see them and show them around Europe on their first trip out of the country.

Bruges, Belgium

I've been so down after our house robbery, but the past three days have been packed with good news after good news and now we're leaving on this trip! (and with our good friends are house-sitting, so I'm much less anxious to the leave the house.)

We would love to hear any suggestions on restaurants or sites off-the-beaten-path in the Netherlands or Belgium (Bruges and Brussels) if you have them.
 (And we just found out we'll be in Amsterdam on Queen's Day!)

Monday, April 8, 2013


The ironic thing was, E and I have always had this silly habit. Every time we walk into our house, especially if it's dark outside, we slowly unlock and crack open the door and call out "Robber? Are you there?" You know, to give the thief a chance to get away. The goofy little warning to the nonexistent thief makes me laugh away the nerves when arriving home alone.

Little did I know that joke would cease to be funny any more.

I would feel better if a window had been broken, but we still aren't sure where the thief came into our house, just that it was is in the middle of the day. And on April Fool's Day, no less. They made off with pricey, but [eventually] replaceable gadgets. Also, every single piece of my jewelry - except the wedding ring on my finger.

I can't really describe what I'm feeling. A lot of people have said being robbed must have felt violating. And yes, we feel violated, but it's not the most prevalent emotion.

I think what I'm still feeling, is something more like sad disbelief. Every morning I go back to my little bedroom nook by the window where all of my jewelry used to hang and I cannot believe that every last chain, bead, earring, watch is just...gone. I cannot believe someone could take all of those prized possessions (with no resale value!). The beloved things I had spent 10 years collecting - from a 16th birthday gift to my great-grandmother's heirlooms, and my expensive pieces like my mom's gold watch, my pearl necklace, and the earrings and bracelet I wore on my wedding day.

All I could think was: take my camera (they did), take the ps3 (they did), take the laptop (they did) but whhhyyy did you have to take my precious THINGS?

So while I'm still having a pity party, and finding out how emotionally attached I am to forever21 necklaces, I keep reading these verses to remind myself of the important, eternal things.

p.s. I'm grateful to Holley for sharing their house burglary experience and tips so I can feel a little more safe and prepared in the future. We can't replace any of the stolen items because we can't get renter's insurance - our house is apparently in a wildfire hazard zone.:-/

Monday, March 11, 2013

a few months' perspective

The weird thing for me about transitions and difficult phases in life is that it's really hard to talk or write about them while I'm in the midst of them. Unless it's that stream-of-consciousness, I'm-not-sure-where-this-is-going babble...and there is a place for that, but for me it's not usually on the internet, or even on paper. I can't stand to write when I don't know what I want to say. (which is probably why I'll never be a brilliant author). I don't know that I have good perspective even now, but the itch to write returned, so I did.

I guess I should back up a few months.
This past summer and fall were really great for E and I. I (we) felt blessed and really thankful that we were both employed, staying in San Diego area for the foreseeable future, and having more time together after a long four years of E in school. We had a little extra income and could start paying down loans and enjoying a dinner out every few weeks without feeling guilty. We got more involved at church and spent more time with friends.

But then winter crept in, and we started feeling like maybe something should be happening. E had a good, but temporary/low-skill job while he waits for a pastoral call and I was getting restless and discouraged in my own job. We wrestled back and forth with what our next step should be and I started to get pretty down. After a few months we decided that we shouldn't put our life on hold indefinitely just because E might get a call to a church soon across the country or across the world. We needed to live in the present. So if he gets a call - great! We'll evaluate it when it comes, and if necessary, pick up and move. But if it takes one year, or five - we don't want to be living a lifestyle of waiting and settling for less, because 'just in case'.

I was ready to progress in my career, so I started the (nerve-wracking, exhausting, discouraging, frustrating) endeavor of job hunting in a field that I haven't directly worked in, and have good, but limited experience in - web communications and social media. I'll save that saga for the next post.

Almost five years post-college, I feel like I'm just starting to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. And I'm starting to realize why people say that they love their thirties...because they're actually starting to figure out what they want in life. (I want to be thirty and past this stage!) But I'm thankful for God's Word telling me WHO I am - a redeemed and beloved child of God - even as I struggle through the mess of growing up and getting older.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

for old times' sake

I have few words to wax eloquent about the year gone by or the year to come. I had great intentions this month to spend time in reflection through WEverb12, and failed at that too.

But I wanted to get back here just to write. Just to remember what it feels like to sit down and record what I am thinking at a moment in time.

We just got home from 10 days back in Chicago with my family. We're emotionally and physically exhausted, but SO thankful for the opportunity to have been able to spend so much time with our nearest [furthest] and dearest. A few highlights were going to my sister's ultrasound and seeing my little 2 inch long niecephew kicking and rolling around, looking through old slides with my grandparents getting to glimpse into their life when they were my age, and taking my youngest sister out to celebrate her 21st birthday.

my grandparents circa 1957

I'm so thankful for our visit there, and so thankful to come home.  Calling California 'home' has been a long transition, but every time I leave, coming back feels more settled and more right.

In a dozen ways 2012 was an unexciting year for us. But it a thousand little ways, it was a blessed year and it was a gift. I don't know what 2013 holds - maybe the same things, maybe drastic changes - but it's enough for me to know that I don't have to know. Our plans are in His hands.

Happy New Year!

Latte Love All rights reserved © 2008-2011 | I am a HowJoyful Design by Joy Kelley