Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Counting It Down & Packing It Up

Part of me is very confused over my sadness with my job loss.  I've been unsatisfied with my job in many ways over the past couple of years.  There have been big issues (not enough work to do) & little discomforts (the early shift, the many miles driving, the cold air conditioning running all.year.round, sharing a bathroom with six men), so one would think that I would more readily embrace this change.  And it wasn't a surprise.  There had been concerns that led to suspicions which led to rumors which finally lead to the actual announcement - the doors are closing.  In two days.  Wow.  And the unexpected sadness of losing my job has settled into my soul, right next to the lingering sadness from saying goodbye to Mom.  As I've been stripped of them both, I realize how much security & sense of who I was & what I was worth as a person came from that relationship with Mom & my job here at Cardinal Health.  I know that is not how the Lord wants me to define myself & it's not how He wants me to claim my security.  He should hold that place in my heart & life.  And only as He strips them away from me do I realize how He has been displaced.  Many lessons to be pondering as I pack it up & prepare to hang up my lab coat for the last two more days.

I've spent some time today packing up my office.  It's funny how many personal items have migrated into this work space.  There's artwork from nieces & of family & friends dear...reminders of who my God is...& little keepsake gifts given to be flipped through daily...
 And now my space feels so bare.  It's like this desk could belong to anybody - not just me.  *sigh*

In between the packing of my personal things & the packing of the impersonal things of the lab - syringes, paperwork, tools, & other odds & ends not necessary for our final two between all of this busy activity I have let my mind drift over promises I know that I need to cling to now.  Otherwise, next week when there is no job to go to I will just stay in bed & mourn.  Mourn this year full of challenges & difficulties.   Mourn my losses & pain.  I don't want to do that.  I want to learn to rejoice in my times of suffering.  I want to learn to offer the sacrifice of my praise.  I want to learn to lean hard into the One who cannot be moved.

If I don't learn these things, then what has all of this been endured for?

 The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; 
blessed be the name of the Lord.
Job 1:21b
 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25:4-5
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing 
 Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things 
and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 
 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own 
that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, 
the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, 
and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Philippians 3:8-10
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
     his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.
  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
     “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
  It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:22-26
 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
     till the storms of destruction pass by.
 I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
Psalm 57:1-2
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, 
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, 
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:14-16
 For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Little Happy...

In case you were worried that I sat at home all weekend crying into my socks about Mom's birthday, I'll give you a little rundown of how we handled the occasion as a family.

We ate (of course!).  Instead of the normal family dinner at Mom & Dad's house we went to Olive Garden.  Who doesn't feel better about life & the world in general when they have a belly full of noodles?
Beth & I were there, too.  We were just too busy snapping pics of everyone else to actually get in any pics ourselves.  It was a nice dinner with a sweet waitress & even sweeter fellowship.  Balm for our souls.

And Aunt Ruth shared an answer to prayer.  She has Lupus (like my Mom) but she has had it manifest itself in some different ways.  She almost lost her vision this past year due to sudden, severe dryness of the eyes.  She has been carefully treated & monitored by an excellent eye doctor.  She has progressed well & just this week she was told that she is nearly fully recovered & can now space her check-ups out to every six months rather than every two months.  God is good.

And as my Monday morning dawned today, my last Monday at my job, I was tempted to be very sad & more than a little angry that I have no choice in this situation.  But then I heard the raindrops falling on our roof & I couldn't help but rejoice in another answered prayer - almost an entire inch of rain fell this morning.  Hallelujah!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Momma

Today would have been Mom's 63rd birthday.  I would have called her & wished her a super happy day.  We would have all gathered for a dinner at their house with probably hamburgers on the grill & some cake with ice cream for dessert.  There would have presents, laughter, & lots of hugs.  This pic is from last year & I can just hear Mom giggle as she tore through the paper.  Maddie is standing by to help, of course.  It's so hard for me to believe that we are done celebrating her birthday.  But I will never be done celebrating her life.

Happy birthday, Momma...I'm holding my memories of your loveliness close in my heart. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Six Months...A Somber Milestone

Six months ago today I woke up to a nightmare.  And truthfully, some days, sometimes even most days, I feel like I'm still trapped in a nightmare.  Dad's frantic voice over the phone...the numb horror of realizing Mom was already gone with no last minute goodbye, no last hug, no last touch...when six hours earlier I had been talking with her on the phone.  It all happened so fast.  She was just gone.

And the past six months have crawled by.  I know that in time the Lord will help me deal with this grief.  I'm not angry anymore (at least not most of the time).  I can get out of bed, go to work, fix dinner, clean the house, fold laundry.  I can function most of the time.  Most of the time you could look at me & never know the sadness that I still carry around in my heart, trying to choke out my joy.  Sometimes it wins, but not always.  The Lord's grace is always with me & there have been so many faithful friends & family who have prayed.  I know it's so because I've been helped. 

Over & over today I've rehearsed the different things I'd say to Mom if I could.  It reminds me of when I was in college.  I would talk to Mom every Sunday night.  During the week I'd list all the different things I wanted to tell her about or ask her about.  I didn't want to forget anything because my mom was the type of mom that you could tell stuff to.  And Mom knew all of my stuff.  If I could talk to her today I'd say...
~I miss you.  Every day.  And I cry so much - I know you wouldn't really like that.  I need your 'stiff upper lip' lecture.
~I'm losing my job, Mom.  What am I supposed to do now?  I'm trying not to freak out but it's really hard.
~We're trying to get stuff together to do a craft fair.  I wish you could come visit us there...I always loved it when you showed up to my stuff.  Because you always did.
~I got my hair cut short!  I finally did it.  I know you wanted me to do it ages ago; I was just too chicken.  I wish you could see it.  And I've decided to embrace the gray; the dye has been kicked to the curb!  You'd be happy to see my silver streaks!
~Sometimes in church I stop singing so that I can listen for your voice.  Sometimes I swear I can hear you.  And it's the prettiest sound I've ever heard.
~I'm starting to despair of my housekeeping abilities.  How in the world did you keep our house so clean & uncluttered?!  I need your help.
~I didn't get any flowers planted in the front bed this year.  You weren't here to go to the Apple House with me to pick them out.  I got rid of the weeds but it's just this huge blank spot without you to help.
~Dad told me that I could have your purple leather purse.  I've been carrying it everywhere.  Every place I see purple I think of you & how it was your favorite color.  
~Your birthday is Saturday.  I think I will make a white cake from a box with butter cream frosting made with margarine - just like you liked it.  
~I love you.  So much.  You were the best momma a girl could have had.  I miss your quiet, confident faith & steady guidance.  You never spoke loudly or acted forcefully but you had tremendous impact.  I hope someday that I can be just a tiny bit of the wonderful that you were.  

August 2011
Mom's Birthday

Holiday World Family Vacay 2011
Showing off our Skee Ball winnings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Life Changing Announcement...

Lately I've been kind of hiding out.  I had some news to share but it was the kind of news that you can't broadcast to the general public (or even to your close blogging friends) without making sure that all parties involved were notified.
And no, I'm not pregnant.
And no, my marriage isn't in crisis, we aren't changing churches, selling our house, or anything like that.  

I'm losing my job.

The news wasn't wholly unexpected.  Our pharmacy has always been a small one.  We have always had less than 20 customers.  
Just a quick note for those of you who don't know me in the real world: I don't often talk about the details of my job but I am a Nuclear Pharmacy Technician for Cardinal Health.  For the next 10 days, that is.
Anyway, we're small, always have been.  But in the last year our business has shrunk even more.  So has the business in our field, overall.  I'm not sure what all the factors are that play into the loss of business & it would likely bore you if I tried to explain what I do know.  The bottom line is that I will be officially unemployed as of September 1st.  
It's a weird feeling.  I wish that I could say that I'm full of enthusiasm about all of the new opportunities I could pursue.  But honestly I kind of feel like the hits just keep coming & that this has been the worst year of my life.  That's just my dumb emotions talking & nobody wants to listen to their whining.  Instead I've been trying to think of the things about my job that I won't miss - the long solitary drives (sometimes in scary winter weather), the early morning shift, the long afternoons when I usually don't have much to do, cleaning the pharmacy & surveying for contamination (my least favorite job), billing, filing...
And I'm trying not to think about the things I'll miss - drawing up doses, running quality control tests on the drugs, processing white blood cell labeling tests, my funny all-male coworkers...
*sigh*  Change is painful but God knows I'd probably never leave this job unless He moved me.  I suppose He wants to move me.

As far as future plans go, I'm just not sure.  I was blessed to receive a severance package so there is a little less urgency about finding another job.  I have made myself many checklists of projects that need to be completed.  I'm going to spring clean our house, Dad's house, & both of our cars.  I'm going to make a couple of lunch dates with friends.  I'm going to have my friend Missy visit for a few days (all the way from Vienna - yeehaw!).  
One of the most exciting plans I have for September will be to help Mike get ready for our first festival.  We will be setting up a booth at a nearby fall festival to sell some Christmas ornaments & other varied crafts.  Stay tuned for more details of Young Archer Woodcrafts.  I can't wait to share some pics of what we're making & all the details of where you can see our products!  It's been a long time coming & the free time that I'm going to have is giving us the extra push we need to get things underway.

I'm grateful that I don't walk the path of this life alone.  The Lord has already given me some good promises from His word about how He leads His children.  I know He is faithful.  I hope that I can be faithful to Him & not worry & fret during this time of change.  I'm also grateful He's given me Mike.  His patience & calm spirit have been such a help during my freak outs.  Yeah, those happen.  I'm quite given to freak outs - anybody else?  If you think of it, keep us in your prayers, bloggy friends.  We appreciate it more than you know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

'Zag, Pharm Girl Style

All of my life I've been a fan of food.  There's no surprise in that statement, is there?!  

Anyway, I like food.  And pasta is food & lasagna is pasta & so that means I'm a fan of lasagna (affectionately referred to as 'zag).

Still with me?

As I've gotten older & become much less grossed out by things like vegetables, I've taken the meat out of my 'zag & replaced it with veggies.  Our go to recipe for 'zag includes ricotta, mozzarella, mushrooms, & spinach.  Usually I have frozen spinach but I've discovered that if you get fresh mushrooms & fresh spinach, saute them up with a little olive oil & butter - oh my!  You'll never get a bag of frozen spinach ever again!

This past Saturday at the farmer's market I saw several stands with some lovely little eggplant (eggplants?).  The only time I have successfully cooked with eggplant I made a huge dish of vegetable moussaka.  It was fabulous but took approximately 23 1/2 hours to make.  Slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.  It was scrumptious but very involved & definitely not weeknight cooking.  But that eggplant just looked so pretty there at the market & I was itching to buy one but just not sure what to do with it other than admire it for being so purple & pretty.  So I asked one of the vendors & she told me that she likes to use eggplant for lasagna rolls.  Hmmm...sounds good to me!  She explained that if you buy a small eggplant, slice it quite thinly, & roast it with a little bit of olive oil before 'zagging it up, that it isn't necessary to salt it & do that whole mess when you have to draw out the bitter stuff.  I was convinced that I could do it so I grabbed a pretty little purple guy & last night I got to 'zag making.

The 'zag on the left is the roasted eggplant 'zag;
the 'zag on the right is our usual standby.
I set out to make two smaller 'zags because Mike is usually somewhat culinar-ily adventurous, but I wasn't getting the whole eggplant-is-cool-let's-give-it-a-try vibe from him when I announced the dinner plans.  It was a good thing I made both, because he didn't try even one little bite.  Chicken.  Shame on him.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you a real recipe-recipe.  I'll just give you a synopsis, in case you want to give the eggplant in your farmer's market a little try!

Slice the eggplant thinly & arrange on a baking sheet.  Coat lightly with olive oil.  Put it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes a side.  Make sure it's getting quite tender.  In the meantime, cook enough 'zag noodles to make a bottom layer & a top layer in your baking dish.  Also, gather your ricotta, mozzarella, mushrooms, sauce (we use Ragu Super Chunky Mushroom) & some Italian seasoning is a good idea, too.  When your eggplant is ready, just layer your 'zag in the pan.  I put some sauce on the bottom, the noodles, then a mishmash of eggplant, the cheese, the 'shrooms, the seasoning, & the sauce.  Then put on your top layer of noodles & this is when I pour on a ton of sauce.  I don't know why; I just do it that way.  And then I top it with a lot of mozzarella.  You can never go wrong with lots of mozzarella.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes (depending on how toasty you like your top cheese to get).

Ta Da!  Roasted Eggplant 'Zag, Pharm Girl Style!

If you try it & like it, let me know!  If you try it & hate it, you don't have to tell me *grin*  And if you have any suggestions for how to use eggplant, definitely let me know!