Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday!

Today, this is the BEST Thankful Thursday is several months because of one major fact:

It is raining in central California!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is only a drizzle, but it is still precipitation! This is the most action our area has seen since October! Forecasters are only predicting about 0.25" of rain, but I know that God is a big, mighty God and can give our dry, parched land some needed relief. I will be praying continuously today for more and more rain and thanking God for the drizzle we saw this morning.

In other gratitude news, I am also thankful for:

Coffee with a friend before work. 

Long talks with my mom.

Pictures from "home" of all the beautiful snow.



A night to relax at home.

Being abundantly blessed.

Free lunch at work on Tuesdays.

Hearing Kara's voice and Jacob's baby sounds on the phone.

My adorable, funny Coastie.

And my amazing Monday night Bible Study gals, who rejoiced with me
for my miracle of health. 
They even sent me flowers! I am so blessed!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Veterans viewed as "selfish" by some Americans

I came across an interesting article today by TIME. 

There have been many debates, conversations, arguments, and social media attention lately to the latest budget deal in regards to military spending and veteran benefits. If you need to get caught up on the conversation, check out mainstream media such as CNN, TIME, and your local news broadcast stations.

The conversation has mostly circulated around veteran benefits in terms of a cap on the COLA (cost of living adjustment or allowance).  COLA essentially means that a service member will receive an adjustment to his or her base pay and/or BAH (base allowance for housing) based on the local economy and cost of living. For example, the Coastie and I live in the only county in California of which the Coast Guard does not apply a COLA, but we do receive an increase in our BAH. That means, the Coast Guard recognizes that since there is no supplied military housing and we have to find housing just like any other civilian, we receive a slightly higher BAH than others of our rank that live in supplied military housing. This is to off-set the higher cost of a civilian rental market. However, we do not receive any adjustment to the Coastie's base pay.

As always, you can find information about military pay here.

The conversation has also circulated about closing commissaries, aka military base grocery stores. These grocery stores are available to active duty and retired service members that have the privilege of shopping on base (not all veterans qualify for this privilege). The debate really escalated on the threat of capping the COLA for retired veterans' pensions. This only refers to those military members who have completed 20 years and are entitled to a pension.

These pensions are now under threat by Congress.  A 1% reduction in pension COLAs will cost veterans (including my Coastie!!!) tens of thousands of dollars in the future. This is money we will have EARNED but will NOT be paid! (Source)
The question raised in this article was: Are veterans selfish?

Here is my response:

Is anyone who has served 20 years to the same employer, who was hired with a contract including the terms that a pension would be available to him/her after a certain number of years of service, selfish?

Is my mother "selfish" for receiving her pension after 30 years serving our local state government?

Is my father-in-law "selfish" for patrolling our hometown as a police officer for 27 years and expecting a pension upon retirement?

No. None of these people would qualify as selfish. Yet, the debate continues on if veterans are selfish for demanding the U.S. government to uphold their end of the contract signed by each and every one of our service men and women. The Coastie phrased it this way: "If I had known that all these years of service with the hopes that I would have a pension at the end of it could be wiped out this easily, I probably wouldn't have continued to serve this long." Most service members do NOT stay in service for the 20 years that must be met in order to qualify for a pension. However, my Coastie decided long ago when he signed on the dotted line to live his life in service to his country that he would commit 20 or more years. He made this commitment for various reasons, but know that we are married and the economy is not friendly for new job-seekers, he is holding to this commitment.

I would urge you to think critically about these issues. I'd also like you to make it personal. Think of a grandparent, friend, school teacher, neighbor, church member, family member, or friend who has served or is currently serving in the Armed Forces. Think about the sacrifice of what they have given up, the sacrifices their families have made, or how blessed we all are that our country only takes volunteers into military service instead of mandating every male over the age of 18 to participate against his will.

Obviously, the Coastie and I have our own, albeit very biased, opinion on benefits regarding service members and veterans. I'm not here to push my agenda on anyone or to influence one way or another in regards to your idea of a balanced budget for our country. I'm simply hoping that the average voter will educate herself on these issues.

You can find more information from these resources:
National Military Family Association 
Stars and Stripes
Military Times

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thankful Thursday!

It's another warm, sunny day here in central coast California. Today, I feel empowered to be grateful and thankful to the extreme. I am so blessed. I am so lucky.

Today, I am thankful for:

Cozy mornings with the Coastie.

My sister and her courage.

A car to travel to and from work, home, church, errands, and friends.

A long chat with a new accountability partner.

My young adults' group at church.


The commissary only one hour away.

A stocked fridge and pantry.

The view out of my office window.

Clean water for drinking, bathing, and cooking.

Psalm 143:8

Sleepytime tea.

The Harry Potter book series that has kept me so entertained.

Planning for my big milestone birthday. I'm so blessed to be healthy and happy at 30!!!

What are you thankful for today?
Blessings are all around you. Be grateful today!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Interesting Read: "The 31 Slump"

I read an interesting op ed piece today at the website XOJane. The author chronicles her career-life from her early 20s to early 30s. As I read through the piece, I thought "Wow! It's like she was reading my mind! I didn't know other women my age felt like this!"

You can read the entire article here.

Essentially, I felt comforted that other women in my age bracket were wrestling with the same questions that keep me up at night.

What do I really want to do with my life?

How are others perceiving me in my current career choice?

What would happen if.... I changed careers? I didn't use my degree? I stayed at home? I earned more than my spouse? I went off the beaten path? I had kids? I didn't have kids?

I've had a few moments of brutal clarity and honesty with myself the past few months. After a traumatizing ordeal with my first job in social work in California, I've been able to lick my proverbial wounds through counseling and an "easy" job. The odd thing is that I'm mostly satisfied and content with my work and volunteer efforts and finally breathing again. Mostly. There is still a part of me that I'm still trying to steal myself to face:

Am I truly content where I am? Or am I still terrified of being judged by others and thereby motivated to change courses yet again to fit "their" perfect mold of a working 30 year old female with an education?

Am I terrified for history to repeat itself and to be so quickly verbally thrashed, shamed, judged, and demoralized by another superior?

Am I terrified of what others' are saying about me "back home?"

Am I terrified of what I may or may not regret in 30 years?

I'm not sure what the future holds. I do know that when I chose my career path at 25 years old, I had NO IDEA that I would be where I am today - living in a small, essentially rural middle-of-nowhere California town where nepotism is the ONLY way of life. It's crazy and unnatural to think that the choices I made in my early 20s from a severe depression and boredom should determine my next 60 years. Yes, I like helping people. I am kind, compassionate, and smart. But does that mean I'm locked in to one particular method of helping people for the rest of my life?

I'm in my 30 Year Slump, to borrow from the author's words. I'm open to the idea that this "slump" will become a milestone in shaping me for the next 5, 10, or 20 years. I'm open to change. I'm open to being brave. I'm open to releasing my fears of others' perception and opinion of me.

Now I just have to be open to taking that first step out of the slump.
Maybe next year.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday!

We are so thankful that it is 2014! What are you thankful for so far this year?

Today, I am so grateful for:

My new women's Bible study group. I already adore these ladies and I'm excited/apprehensive of the work God will do within me with our new study.

A good night's rest.

A wonderfully supportive, funny husband.

A birthday party to plan and THE most fabulous dress to wear!

Wonderful friends here in California and some amazing "girls' nights" I've recently had with them.

Warm, sunny weather.

Knowing I am healthy and whole.

The Unity daily devotional prayer book. It is so encouraging, positive, and uplifting!

Conversations with my sister as she begins an exciting new chapter in life.

Cards from two dear sweet friends and my mother while I was going through my health scare. I still have those cards!

My place of employment.

Be thankful today for all of your blessings!!!

It's a New Year. Is it happy?

Welcome back to The Coastie Life!

The Coastie and I have had some tumultuous months recently. Not as a couple. Oh no. Because of everything that has happened to us, we are more closely knit and secure than ever before. I'll do a quick recap for anyone who is just curious to know.

August 2013: We had to move out of our rental home. The property owner wanted to move in her daughter, so we got the boot. Talk about stress! The government wouldn't pay for this move, so we had to do it all on our own dime. Luckily, we found a cute (albeit smaller) home still in our sweet little town. We give all the credit to our dog, Buttercup, as she was the deciding factor with our new landlords. They said they liked her sweet personality out of all the dogs that they had met during the application process. Homes that allow dogs are extremely rare here, so we're lucky we made the cut!

September 2013: We experienced the joys and sorrow of parenthood in just one week. We will forever be changed by this month, but again, we are closer than ever. We truly believe that our angel is now watching us from Heaven.

October 2013: Pretty uneventful. Still recovering from September.

November 2013: The Coastie heads off to a 5 week school for federal law enforcement officer training. He did exceptionally well! I could not have been more proud of him. Plus, he got to go home to see his parents and a UT football game. We met in Tennessee for Thanksgiving and got to spend several wonderful stress-free days with our families. We definitely felt rejuvenated and loved when we left!

December 2013: I ended up in the emergency room with a health scare. Thankfully, cancer was ruled out right before Christmas, so we were able to relax and celebrate the holiday just the two of us. Even more than that, in January we found out the health issue had miraculously disappeared! My doctor could not explain it, but I know that God's healing hand was on me and allowed His Glory to be revealed in my body. Praise God!

So, here we are - 2014. What will this year bring? The Coastie and I have no idea. We are half excited, half terrified. We are so exhausted, tired, broken from the fall of 2013 that we enter 2014 with our hopes soaring, but our shoulders set to prepare the weight of whatever may come. This year, our goal and hope is just to BE. Yes, just to BE. We are being intentional to love each other, love each day, and enjoy the moment where we are, right now. We want to reclaim our joy in the Lord. We want to stop looking back, stop licking our wounds, and stop looking forward. We want to just BE.

It's a New Year. Is it happy? So far... yes!

The one thing we do know: our God is an awesome God and He will be with us every step of the way.

" '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.' " Jeremiah 29:11