Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Who am I?-Part 2 (Back to school)



Yesterdaywe left our main character (me) married with a new dream, to be a “perfect housewife.” I had my five year plan mapped out. I would get a job, work for a few years, start a family, and become a stay at home mom. Eventually, once the kids were back in school, I would go back to work or something. I didn’t know what I would do after that, but I had years to figure it out. About a month after our wedding I found a job as a receptionist at a blueprint company in downtown Kansas City. I hated it. A good telephone voice can only get you so far, beyond that, I had zero administrative skills. I would relay a phone call to a print order, make sure the order got filled, create a bill, and send the driver to deliver it. It was stressful for me, and it took longer than it should to get the hang of it. After three months I was ready to search for a new job. That was when Chris got laid off from his first job post graduation. My plans of job hunting were put on hold to be the main bread winner. Using our savings, we made our ends meet each month, and three months later Chris found temporary work that lasted him for a year. It was a good thing he did, because in June 2010 I was let go from my job.
By this point in my life I had allowed my dreams of being a band director go out the window. Now my five year plan was getting pushed back even further. I was not in a very happy place, and I felt like my life had no purpose. I wasn’t a good receptionist, and my only major job skill was in fast food, and I refused to go make blizzards again. I worked the Christmas season at Target, but there wasn’t enough room for me to stay on full time afterward. I was beginning to miss music again, and was even entertaining thoughts of going back to school. It was then that I finally admitted to my past laziness, but after a little research I realized how much work it would take to go back. I decided it wasn’t an option, I wanted a family.

I resolved myself to the fact that I would be stuck going from job to job, doing things that didn’t make me truly happy. My lack of happiness led to over-eating and under-exercising, and my weight reached over 400lbs. It was a sad time for me and I was only twenty-three. While I was job hunting, my friend mentioned nannying. That Summer I was a nanny for a family with four kids. I loved it, but at the end of the summer, the kids went back to school, and I was again unemployed. The back to school thought came back, and yet again I suppressed it.

I have illustrated my life as somewhat dark and unhappy, but that isn’t completely accurate. Through joblessness and money woes, Chris and I were able to strengthen our marriage. We learned that nothing in our life is completely under our control, and together we needed to rely on God. We have great friends and family, and despite my jobless woes, life was good. After my summer job as a nanny ended, I started to come back to life. My weight was becoming a burden, and my wedding ring no longer fit. I had spent years losing 20 or 30lbs, realize how much more I have to lose and then balloon back to the weight I was and more. The amount of weight I had to lose was a daunting 200lbs. In November 2011, I started looking into the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. After my surgery, my I started my current nanny job taking care of three kids, and I love it. 

Jeremiah 29:11

You ever have something keep popping up? It could be a song that means something, or a word. For me it was Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) It had been popping up everywhere in 2012. It would be in a sermon, a book, or a tweet by Tim Tebow. Just when I thought it had gone away, it would be the verse of the day when I would watch Veggie Tales with the kids. While it is kind of nice to know that God has plans and knows them, it is also frustrating that he wasn’t sharing them with me. This verse kept popping up and it wasn’t till October that I finally began to understand why. I remember sitting in the living room at work while the kids played, and the back to school thoughts came creeping back. I threw my usual excuses at it. “It’ll take too long, I can’t afford it, Chris will never go for it.” This time, however, I was fighting them. It had taken almost no time for me to be convinced that I should do it. I texted Chris my thoughts and he responded with a “Go for it!” By the end of the month I had applied to UCM, been accepted, and signed up for 14 credit hours online for Spring 2013.

My first semester back I got a 4.0 and was on the dean’s list. It was a very good feeling to see my hard work come together with good results. In two weeks I start my Fall semester on campus. I will be commuting from Lees Summit everyday and once again become a member of the Marching Mules. I am excited, yet nervous, but failing is not an option, and hopefully by 2016 I will have a diploma hanging on my wall and a job as a band director.

Wrap it Up

Why did I decide to tell you a long drawn out story of the past seven years?
For one, I am excited about going back, and wanted to share that. Secondly, I went a majority of the past seven years feeling like I didn’t deserve a second chance. I blew it in school once, what’s to say I won’t do it again? There are lots of people like me who think that they are too fat or too dumb. They feel like they’ve used up all of their chances at being happy, and now they just need to suffer through. That isn’t the case. Jeremiah 29:11 serves as a constant reminder to me that God has plans for a great and hopeful future for me. If he can have these plans for me, why can’t I? I could work as a nanny or a babysitter for the rest of my life, and I would probably be happy. But in twenty years when I’m looking back at my life, I don’t want to regret not taking the chance to fulfill the dreams I’ve had since I was that crazy band geek in high school.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Who am I? -part 1


 18 year old me, full of hopes and dreams
Back in the day I was what some people may call a band geek. My level of geek went beyond just being a member of the school band; I was a drum major, a section leader, a soloist and district band participant. I hung out exclusively with other members of the band, and practiced about an hour a day. I was so immersed in "band" that I rarely thought of anything else. Yes, I know how lame that sounds, but it is no different than an art student drawing all day, or a computer person only wanting to work on computery stuff. By the end of my sophomore year of high school, I had decided that when I grew up I wanted to be a band director. I didn't consider anything else. My sights were set on CMSU (Now UCM), who was well known for their music education program. My senior year I applied to the university and was accepted. In August 2006 I loaded up my car and moved into the dorm. I was particularly excited that, because I was in the marching band, I got to move in a whole two days early. My friend Stephanie and I unpacked our room and reveled in what was to be the next chapter of our lives. 

It sounds like I just described the beginning of a story about a girl who goes off to college to pursue her dreams of a lustrous career and in the midst of it really finds herself. If you could throw a couple of musical numbers the mix, you would have a movie that was right up my alley. I can picture the main character sitting on the bed in her half unpacked dorm room, flashing back to everything that got her where she is, and feeling like she can conquer anything. When I think about it, a corny “coming-of-age” story isn’t a far cry from what I was feeling; and if people are truly honest with themselves, that feeling wasn’t much different for them either. 

Ideally, this story would be a happy one. The main character (me) would have a few bumps in the road, but eventually get the hang of it and go on to have a kick ass career. But, if my story truly was ideal, I wouldn’t be sitting at my computer seven years later writing it. That is not to say that I have hated the past seven years of my life. It is quite the contrary; I love my life, and can finally say that I love the events that led to it. It wasn’t, however, the way eighteen year old Jenni would have wanted things done. My college age years were spent repeating mistakes over and over, and not taking the blame for it. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago (three years after leaving college), that I finally let myself admit that I should take the blame. Eighteen year old me didn’t have to work in high school to maintain decent grades, so I didn’t have any idea how to work in college. I also had an adverse reaction to all of the freedom I had. I think all college kids have this reaction, but I, unlike the others, never figured out how to handle it. I went to classes sporadically, and when I was there, I didn’t have any idea what was going on. When I was put on academic probation my first semester, I blamed my professors for not helping me when I asked, or giving me a bad grade because they didn’t agree with what I wrote. I was messed up and self absorbed.

During my second semester in college, (February 2007) I met Chris; and even though I was allowing myself to spiral out of control, he tried his hardest to anchor me to the ground. That semester was a little bit better; I at least was able to get off of academic probation. It wasn’t enough to teach me a lesson though. My classes were still sporadic, and my fingers were still pointed elsewhere. For another year I continued spiraling, and during that time my obvious love of music faded. I resented the classes because I didn’t seem to understand as easily as my classmates. I resented practicing because I wasn’t “the best.” I was confused. In high school, I was so sure of myself and what I wanted to do; now I was simply a shell of that person, no longer having direction. I finally gave up, closed the door on my college career, and went to work at Dairy Queen full time.

As you can see, my “coming-of-age” story didn’t pan out like eighteen year old me wanted. I was now twenty and working fast food. It was the opposite of what I wanted my life to be. I at least had Chris, my anchor. For some reason he still loved me, despite my utter failure. He graduated college in May 2009 and together we moved to Independence, MO.  In October 2009 we were married. I was able to see hope again, and my life had some meaning. My dreams went from “I don’t know” to “perfect housewife.” Was this dream enough to sustain me? Stay tuned.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dusting off the Blog

My last post was in January. It is almost August. Yikes!
The view from our room in Galveston
Right now life is calm. Chris and I have had a great Summer. We went on our first vacation since our honeymoon, almost four years ago. We rented a car and drove to Galveston, TX and spent a week relaxing on the beach and being tourists.
Amy Lee Photo Rocks!!
Our friend Amy Lee took our first family photos since our wedding.
I celebrated my first 4.0 semester since I began college in 2006 (granted, I haven't been in school since 2008).
I've had pool days, relaxing days, shopping days, and plenty of days with Leah and Felicia.

Yes, its probably been one of the best Summers of my adult life, and now I am gearing up for what's next.

This Fall will be my first semester on campus since I was 20 years old. I'm excited to tell you all about it, and I will try to post more, and maybe follow through on some of my posting goals. We will see.

Hope you had a great Summer too!

Jen

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Year

Ladies and gentlemen, 2013 is gearing up, and some exciting things are on the horizon. Last year was the first year I've been semi successful in keeping a resolution. I didn't take a writing class, and I still can't continuously run a mile, but I did participate in and complete two different 5ks in 2012. I did find a job that I am proud of. And in spending more time growing in Christ, I re-realized my dream and took action (more on that later).

In 2012 I lost the weight of roughly one and a half baby hippos.
I participated in the Color Run in June, and then the Get Your Rear in Gear 5k in October.
I survived an all liquid diet for three weeks.
I successfully completed a quarter of a century a living.
I registered for classes, and start back to school soon.

I'm excited to see what this year brings. I can't wait to see the person I am next January.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: My Freedom

This week the country made a decision on the political future of our city, state, and country. I am very thankful to have the freedom to have my own opinion, to be able to voice it, and make a decision that I think is best.

I am also thankful for the men and women who defend our right to make this decision. They take time away from their friends and family to fight for the freedoms that we take for granted everyday.

Thank you to all of the Veterans on this day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 10: Church Community

When Chris and I moved to the city we started attending The Avenue Church in Independence. We found it through my cousin who was working there at the time. Immediately Chris and I loved it. It is a "come as you are" sort of church. You see people in there Sunday best, and you also see people in Chiefs jerseys and jeans. We also fell in love with the community of it. If I had a problem, there would be someone there to help.

I wouldn't trade my community at The Avenue for anything, and I am thankful for each and every person.

Day 9: Calming Drive

I forgot to make a post yesterday, so I'll make one today on yesterday's behalf.

I am thankful for an easy drive to work.
Living in the city can make a daily commute a stressful one. I'm very fortunate to have a commute that keeps me off of the highway. I take a winding road with beautiful trees and not a lot of traffic. I like to spend this time listening to KLove and taking some time to pray.