My Easter Sunday Chat with God

(Originally posted on April 5, 2010 on my husband’s blogspot.)

I have been really blessed in my life. I have a great, loving family. I have a beautiful, talented wife. I have friends who are kind, funny, and caring. I have a job I love with a boss that gives me as many opportunities as she can. And I have perfect daughter who was designed specifically for me and Mindy. God has given me all of these things, yet sometimes I forget he is here.

Yesterday I dropped Mindy, Lily, and Pete off at church, and then started to drive around to find a parking spot. As I was scanning the streets for an open spot, my mind turned to money as it often does when I am alone. I was doing math. I have to pay our landlord $1,000 by Friday. I know I will get a check for $700 Friday morning, and I know Mindy has lessons lined up this week for general living expenses. But where am I going to get the extra $300? Well, I have a week to figure it out. My mind wonders….

“Maybe one of my clients will want to do some work this week”
“Maybe the IRS will find a mistake they made and send us additional refund money”
“Maybe Mindy will get 4 new students that all want to start this week”

I start to pray … again. I have been praying for financial blessings a lot this past year. I feel like they are unanswered prayers, because times are still tough. I have not yet come into a windfall of cash…yet every month we manage to get by. We are still here. We still eat everyday. We still have a roof over our heads. I just wish God would let me know that he is still here watching over me because at least once a week I feel completely defeated and helpless. My prayer always turns away from money. I always end up praying for hope…for some sort of comfort and knowledge that God is there for me.

I find my parking spot fairly easily, and head to church. I see Mindy by the elevator and walk over. I am feeling better. Our church has great people and just seeing everybody smiling with joyful attitudes took my mind away from the rent and financial burdens. Mindy says: “Matt (One of our pastors) wants to talk to you.” So I head through the crowd to find him.

I found Matt, and he says “Let’s go outside and talk”. I agree and follow him out. As we are standing there, he proceeds to tell me that in between the morning and afternoon services he was given an envelope by someone who said “I feel like someone needs this. Would you give it to someone who could use some help?” Matt then handed me the envelope and said: “I feel like you are the one that needs this.” I open the envelope, and the chills began to crawl all over my body. The envelope contained $300.00. Exactly. No More. No Less. This is the amount of money, to the penny, that someone felt the need to give. This was the amount, to the penny, that was missing from my rent check.

This gift was more than money. Yes, it is nice to have the extra cash, and yes it will help to cover the rent. But more importantly, it was the gift of God speaking directly to me. “Yes, I am watching over you. Yes, I know your struggles. Let me handle it for you…I know what I am doing”

I am going to remember that God gives people struggles for a reason. I am going to remember all of my blessings. I am going to continue on my path, reassured that I am doing the right thing with my life. And through this story, I hope that my readers realize that whether your day is good or bad….God IS there. And he is working on big things for you!

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

(Originally posted March 30, 2010 on blogspot.)

I am a New Yorker. As a citizen of the Big Apple, I have become accustomed to being asked for money. On the subway, on the corner, in the park- panhandlers are everywhere. Generally, people begging for money on the streets of New York are harmless- a slight nuisance. They ask, you ignore them, the end.

Yesterday, however, I had two encounters with panhandlers that were so aggressive that they went so far as to offend me, and quite honestly, frighten me a little.

Panhandler Number One was approaching people on the R traing into Manhattan from Queens. I was playing Sudoku- medium difficulty- and was making record time. It is usually easy to ignore someone while playing Sudoku on an iPhone. But it’s pretty tough to ignore someone who taps your knee and then puts his hand in your face. “No!” I said, making no effort to hide my disgust. I’m not usually rude to strangers, but seriously. Who did he think he was touching my knee and then asking for money? Don’t worry, I still set a new best time on my Suduko.

Panhandler Number Two came up to me at Starbucks, where I was sitting at a table, working on Ryan’s laptop. “Excuse me, can I just talk to you for a minute?” She then sat down in the booth next to me, trapping me, as I was sitting in the corner. She was crying. (or pretending to) “I’m just trying to get something to eat. Someone just took my luggage from Penn Station. I’m here for my mother’s funeral.” Wow. Talk about rotten luck, eh? Hungry, and your mother died, AND someone stole your luggage?

Under normal circumstances, I would humor an interaction like this, (much to the dismay of anyone who hangs out with me in the city…) and offer advice-suggest she go to the police and report the crime, etc. But my panhandler patience was all used up for the day. And anyway, the woman had managed to slide her hand over my iPhone which rested on the table.

“I am NOT in a position to help you,” I said, yanking my phone out of her hands to emphasize my “not.”

She started to object, then stopped when she saw the look in my eyes. She
moved to the next table, and got through her sob story another three or four times before getting kicked out of the store.

I am not a hardened New Yorker. I would be described by most people who know me well as extremely generous. And I most certainly know what it feels like to fall on hard times. And maybe that’s why it made me so angry. I don’t blame people for being financially needy. And I don’t blame them for being desperate. But what upsets me so much is the way they assume they need the money more than I do. Yes, I’m sitting at a Starbucks. Yes, I have an iPhone and a laptop and a Vera Bradley bag. But they have no idea what my situation is like. (They also don’t know that the bag was a gift, and the computer is borrowed…)

I have friends who made twelve thousand dollars last year and are in serious financial trouble. I have friends who made over a hundred thousand dollars last year and are in serious trouble. So for anyone who likes to make decisions about people’s ability to help- whether you’re a bleeding heart or a tea partier or a subway crazy- do me a favor. Save it.

On Baby Sock Bunnies and Other Very Important Tasks

(Originally posted March 17, 2010 on blogspot)

“The wise woman does what she knows.
If it’s fighting, she fights. If it’s sewing, she sews.” Jason Robert Brown

I started my day with news of another financial frustration. It was news I needed to know, but could do nothing to fix. It was just one more blow in an already frustrating time. So I think it’s pretty obvious how I’ve spent my time today.

Making a little stuffed bunny out of a pair of outgrown baby socks.

After all, Easter is in a few weeks. And Lily will need to have a bunny in her basket. And we have all these little socks. And I have to do something, or I’ll go crazy.

I have no means of making money right now. I’ve tried. And since we don’t have any money, I can’t really take Lily anywhere. And I can work on the house a little. And I have. But it will really only be damage control with Hurricane Lily. So that’s only going to bring me so much satisfaction.

But this afternoon, there is a stuffed bunny where there was once only a pair of socks. And for today, that’s enough.

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Get a Job (Sha-na-na-na)

(Originally posted March 10, 2010)

It’s 11:15 am, and I’m in my pajamas. I’m sipping my coffee and watching Martha Stewart. She packs each individual article of clothing in a zip-loc bag with a piece of tissue. Really, Martha? My daughter is napping- sort of- and I’m trying to decide what I’ll do today, other than play knock-down-the stack-of-blocks and what’s-in-the-purse.

Like many of you, I am thrilled with this life. I feel blessed to be a stay at home parent, (yes, parent- not just Mom. S’up, Tom?) and I’m able to laugh at how much my life has changed. The problem- like for many of you- is that we do not have enough money.

I repeat.

We. Do. Not. Have. Enough. Money.

When we decided to start the adoption process in May of 2008, we were doing pretty well. My husband had a stable well-paying job, and I was teaching at a local college. We were doing well enough, in fact, that when we got approved for adoption and were officially “waiting,” we decided I would stay home. Our wait wasn’t long- a few months later the gorgeous, outgoing, 12-day-old Lily came into our lives.

Then the bottom dropped out of the economy my husband lost his job I got a part time job then I lost that part time job then he got a new job and he takes on freelance clients but in 2009 we made fifty-eight thousand dollars less that’s right fifty-eight thousand dollars less than we made in 2008 and it’s just not enough.

So.

I know what you’re thinking.

Get a job.

That’s a great idea. I’ll get a job.

I started with that local college. The one where I used to work. Their enrollment is down, so even though I was only taking a maternity leave I was back to low woman on the totem pole, so there was no room for me.

Great. So I’ll find a new job. Are you hiring? Here are my requirements:

1. I need to make at least $30 an hour. Sounds high, right? OK let’s do the math. The other day someone offered me a job for $20 an hour. A generous offer, for sure. Babysitting is $10 an hour, and I have to pay the babysitter at least two hours longer than I actually work. (travel) It costs $4.50 round-trip on the subway, and my net is $15.50 for the day. To be away from my baby girl for six hours. So, my $30 an hour pay requirement stays.

2. I have been teaching music for ten years, I have two masters degrees, and I founded and now operate- with my best friend- an Off-off-Broadway theatre company that has skyrocketed to success in just eighteen months. It hurts my soul to be quiet when I think I have a good idea. If I think there’s room for improvement, I will tell you.

3. I have been so fully involved in teaching music theatre for ten years that I have no experience in any other field. At all.

4. Because of my theatre company, my church, and my love for my family and friends, I’ll have a lot of schedule conflicts.

Am I hired?

OK, you’ve stayed with me for this long, and I can only imagine it’s to see if I have a point. Unless you just genuinely enjoy self-indulgent whining. So here’s my point.

I am one highly-educated stay at home parent among millions. We’re doing the best we can with what we have. We can’t just get a job, and furthermore, we don’t really want to. We have long-term plans that involve continuing our careers (yes, Dad, I have a plan.) But for now, this is what we’re doing. Be patient with us?

Now if you’ll excuse me, Dragon Tales is on.

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