Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Story-Part 1

Yesterday I attended the first week of a four week women's bible study series that our church is putting on during the lunch hour. I was thrilled because the last few they have done have been either in the mornings during work hours or on a night I couldn't attend. A lady shared her story and encouraged us to think about our story. Between that and a situation at work this week I felt compelled to share my story. Part 1.

I know I have talked quite a bit before about our business in Advocare, but I don't think I have ever talked much about my 8-5 life. This week I found myself in a situation where I was so thankful for the day in, day out life that God has called me to. This threw me into reflection mode of all that He has done in my life over these last few years.

I completed my Master's degree in 2010 with the intent to call Higher Education my forever career. I spent two years studying leadership theory, the life of a college student, and a little bit of counseling. I worked closely with students over that time as a Residence Director and felt equipped to take on the path ahead of me. I started my new position as an Academic Counselor two days after graduating. What I found in the next year was that maybe this was not where I was supposed to be. Zeb and I married in the Spring of 2011 and he took an internship an hour away in Tulsa that Fall. This was my opportunity to switch gears.

Knowing we would be leaving in August I had 2 whole months to really think about what I could pursue upon that move. I began prayerfully exploring my options. I thought about all that I had done over the last three years at OSU and what parts I loved most. The people. I loved interviewing, hiring, training, and supervising my staff. I loved fast pace environments. I loved regular change. From there I looked at the world outside of Higher Ed to determine where that lead me. Human Resources made the most sense. I did some research there and knew I wasn't really cut out for the legal side of HR, so I had to pursue the people side. Training or recruiting. This was a start.

Believe it or not HR is a VERY difficult field to get started in. Degrees for that are just now coming about. I searched Tulsa high and low for any opportunity. Time was running out and I ended up taking a 3 month assignment with the United Way on their campaign team. I happen to have a huge heart for non-profits so I thought this would be a great way to at least begin networking, learn more about Tulsa, and buy a little more time to find a job. Transition is hard when you are switching fields, but I knew God was calling me in this direction and believed, in His timing, something would work out.

"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

Fast forward to November and we find ourselves in the week before Thanksgiving, my last week with the United Way, and absolutely no signs of a job. Since my assignment with the United Way was payrolled through a staffing agency, I had access to my recruiter there to assist in possibly finding me another temporary placement. She knew what my long term goals were, but not much was coming up that aligned with that. For time and financial sake I took a three day assignment the week of Thanksgiving with a small engineering firm filling in for their Administrative Assistant that was out on vacation. My hope was dwindling as I realized that for the first time EVER in my life I would find myself unemployed.

Jeremiah 29:11

It was to my surprise when I received a phone call before the week was over from my staffing agency recruiter that they had received a position from a client seeking a recruitment coordinator. This client just happened to be one of the largest oil and gas firms in Tulsa and she was sure I would be a great fit! What?! The following Monday was not only my first Monday in many years that I didn't have a job to report to, but it was also phone interview day with the recruiter at Williams and the day that has literally changed my career path. THAT recruiter just happened to believe I was a great fit as well and by 5 pm the next day I had secured a "temporary" position with them and would start the following Monday, December 5th!

Jeremiah 29:11

It was a change. I showed up to work my first day at a high rise in downtown Tulsa. I would have to get escorted until I received my security badge and traveled daily up 20 floors on the elevator. My office was now a cubicle surrounded by many other professionals and people were VERY busy. Meetings started and ended on time, never late. Time was sensitive. Coming from higher education, where we typically lived on student time, it was a culture shock. I quickly learned my role and within one month of being hired as a coordinator I was being asked if I would like to move into a recruiter role. Shortly after, we were interviewing and hiring someone to take on my position while I transitioned into the dream job I would have never bet I would have landed that soon. I also should mention Zeb had received a full time job offer with his internship location. Tulsa would become home. 

Jeremiah 29:11

January flew by and we spent the first weekend in February moving into our new rental home across town. We had signed a year lease and I was more than thrilled. I loved that little house, our new location, and the life we were creating. You can imagine the shock I experienced when I came home on that first Monday to find Zeb with the letter that again, changed everything. Zeb had been laid off. After I finished crying for I'm sure what seemed like forever to Zeb, I picked up my chin and decided we had to move on. It's Gods plan, not ours. That night we packed up the laptop and headed to Panera to begin his job search. For me, I knew it meant leaving the job I loved so much behind, but this would be the first of many sacrifices that come with marriage and doing life with your best friend. Zeb's career field is highly specialized and the only way to move up or around is typically in the form of physically moving to a new location. That first night at Panera would become a nightly routine over the next few weeks. 

By the end of February we had discovered that there was an annual conference being held by the professional organization of Zeb's field in Wichita, KS at the end of March. We talked at length about him going and ultimately decided the investment could be worth it. Even with money running low, we felt it was worth the shot at networking and possibly obtaining a job. I got him some "academic" business cards made and sent him on his way with the best recruiter advice I could give. Meet everyone and tell everyone you meet you are looking for a job. Before I knew it, he was on his way back to Tulsa with a phone interview scheduled for the Lubbock airport the next day. I just happened to get that news from him as I was walking out of a meeting with my boss telling me that they would like to hire me on permanently as a recruiter. The world I desired and the world Zeb desired were colliding in a not so picture perfect way. A week from then we were in Lubbock accepting a job and looking at houses. Wow.

Within three weeks we were out of our little home we loved so much and headed to Lubbock to create a new life. We happened to be blessed with some of the best landlords in town, that not only forgave us for moving within three months of renting their home, but they gave us back our deposit in full and then some. After searching again for a new recruiter role in Lubbock, I ended up securing a position that was a perfect mixture of my background. I took a job at Texas Tech that would combine my higher education and recruitment background as an Assistant Director in their career services office. So, while I wouldn't be recruiting myself, I would be at the service of recruiters on a daily basis in the form of helping them find students to fill their openings. Close enough.

Truth be told the transition was hard. I was frustrated with this plan and I didn't like where we were at. The summer felt long. Before I knew it Fall was in full swing with students back on campus and recruitment season starting up. I was busy and found that we would be expecting a child in 9 months. That was shattered in November at the news of our miscarriage and I felt like I was at my lowest point yet. Needless to say 2012 was a year I wouldn't care to ever repeat. I couldn't wait for a fresh start in 2013.

I received an email in January from a recruiter about a position I had completely forgotten I had even applied to. Long story short a couple weeks, interviews, and prayers went by and I had officially accepted another recruiter position at the local hospital in Lubbock. It's been a year since that transition and I am beyond words when I look back at everything God has taken me through to get to where I am today.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at a local school about job openings with our organization. I met a young lady with a story of her own. I knew it took a lot of courage for her to share with me, but more than anything I knew I was being prompted to believe in her and stand up for her second chance. After weeks of praying for a girl, a stranger to me, I got to tell her today that we do get to hire her, that second chances do exist, and we serve not only a just God, but a merciful God. I got to do exactly what I believe I was called to do in 2011.

When I look at my story I see mercy written all over it. I see strangers believing in strangers. I see chances taken and courage to believe in a plan you can't see. When a recruiter took a chance on a girl with nothing other than a willingness to learn. When a landlord showed incredible love and mercy for a couple that were nothing but strangers. When a manager hired a guy not local and not experienced because of a prompting he felt from the Lord. When my husband re-assured me that their is a plan in it all even if it seems hopeless now. When another recruiter saw potential in my not so perfect resume. When another manager took a chance in offering me a job. When I followed the promptings of God's word. When all of these tiny little puzzle pieces come together, you have a day like today, where I got to be part of another person's story. I got to be part of that hope I have seen from God over and over.

You see, the most beautiful part of God's story with Jesus is redemption. It's the sacrifice He made to redeem us. It's the love He showed in hopes that we would demonstrate that love to others. It's the second chance at life that His death offers all of us. And I am completely humbled when I get the opportunity to work for God's glory. There are so many blessings for everyone involved when you are following God's plan as he has laid out for you. And I believe with all of my heart that God uses even the smallest of circumstances, the tiniest of people, the opportunities you never think will matter to influence lives in a huge way.

God wrecked my life in 2009 when I accepted his son as my Lord and Savior. Everyday is a climbing battle to become more like the person that he desires for me to be. There are ups and there are downs. There are days that my relationship with Him comes easy and days that my flesh makes it very difficult. There are times when I wonder how this could possibly be His plan and days when I am so thankful that it is. But above it all I never forget the words of Jeremiah 29:11 and the promise he made through Jesus. His plan is real. His plan is good. To Him be the glory.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Major Update in the Life of the Austin's

I don't even know where to start with this post. So much is running through my head with all that has happened in the last 6 weeks. First, I can't even believed how incredibly loved and blessed we have been. We have not been showered, we have been poured on with gifts for the arrival of Grady. It is truly a humbling feeling. I think I will let the pictures tell our story.

Let's start with our trip to Phoenix and the baby shower. We had such a good time hanging with my family. Baby shower day came and the two wonderful men in my life went golfing while we celebrated Grady. 
My dad surprised us with the airplane panels we REALLY wanted for Grady's room. The top photo is the $300 set you can happily buy at Pottery Barn. The bottom is my Dad's artwork! It honestly looks better to me and especially with the special touches he added. See below. 
I LOVE the Pistol Pete addition. Can you believe he free handed the whole thing? He also did the "G" for us which will hang on the other wall. 
My momma crafted this BEAUTIFUL diaper cake for my shower! She did one for my sister's shower a couple years ago too and I tried to convince her that I really think she has a talent. I mean these things go for like 80 bucks on etsy! She decided the head ache wasn't worth it. ;) I am glad she did it for me though! I loved it. 
Momma/grammi picture! After a long day of partying and golf. :)
My sister really did an AMAZING job with my shower. She put together these favors for each of the girls to take home with them. Cowboy Cookies were the perfect favor for a "lil buckaroo" baby shower. 
Howdy Grady! We can't wait to meet you! The perfect baby shower cake. 
And we can't forget sweet Killian! He is very excited about his cousin. I mean his face says it all! ;)
The Tuesday after we got home was our ultrasound appt! It was so exciting to see our sweet boy, even if we couldn't get the best pictures due to his position. We did establish that he was measuring ahead. Our due date is now moved up to March 27th. 
The following weekend was busy with the in-laws in town to help lay our new floor and then my Lubbock baby shower. It turned out to be the worst weekend to do either events since it snowed the most it's snowed all winter in Lubbock, but we still got it done and had a good time. We LOVE how much better it has made the living room look. 

Meet Jaimie and Denise. These are the two beautiful ladies that hosted my shower here in Lubbock. I met Jaimie while working at Tech and Denise in my run club. These two women have become very good friends of mine and I so appreciate them taking time to love on Grady!
I was happy to have Patty and Amber in town too! It's always nice to have a little family for events like this. Patty surprised me with the sweet onesie below! I can't wait to put Grady in that outfit!
Go Pokes!
I also happened to be blessed with some of the best co-workers and boss around. The following Monday they put on an office shower for me. My boss had cupcakes specially made for the event with little airplanes! 

Since then we have been spoiled twice more. The girls from my home group surprised me and the other pregger in our group with a dinner shower! Sweet diaper cakes and delicious real cake, followed by gifts and laughs! And the pictures below are from my final shower yesterday. As a recruiter, I have a specific group I work with on regular basis to help hire employees for all of the clinics associated with our hospital. They were so sweet to ask if they could hold a shower for me and again we were poured on with love and gifts. I'm telling you this kid is SO spoiled already and he doesn't even know it!
I am so in love with the blanket they had made for Grady. It is a beautiful baby quilt and has his name right in the middle. 
In between all of that we have been busy getting his nursery done, working, finding last minute things like the book above. I have started Grady's book collection and I could NOT resist when I stumbled upon this book. Each chapter has a little Cowboy story demonstrating how he should behave. I can't wait to read it to him! Zeb has been so good and patient with me. He has accomplished a lot around the house and in Grady's nursery along with working 6 days a week and keeping up with his MBA classes. I am one lucky gal. ;)

Here I am at 34-35 weeks! I feel like a boat, but everyone keeps reassuring me I don't look like one which is nice. I truly am ready for him to be here though. 

 34-35 Weeks

This week, baby is the size of a: Large canteloupe
Due date: March 27th or April 1st 
How far along: 34 weeks and 2 days if you follow the April 1st due date and 35 weeks today if we go with the newly updated due date of March 27th. Either way we are getting close!
Next appointment: February 25th. 
Gender: It's a BOY!!
Total weight gain/loss: roughly 36 pounds
Stretch marks: just a few on my hips, but so far none on my stomach!! So excited about that and hoping the stretching isn't hiding them. 
Swelling: I just started swelling this week. I'm not sure if it's mostly the warmer weather causing it, but it makes me feel fluffy! yuck!
Maternity clothes: nothing new. We are in the home stretch and just making things work as best I can. 
Belly button: completely smashed.  
Sleep: still hit or miss. I try and take note of what I did differently on the nights I sleep so well. The only consistent thing has been when I get cuddled just right on my body pillow. I also have to be sure not to drink too much water before bed. 
Food cravings/aversions: still nothing. I have felt a little sick after eating these days.  
Movement: he moves ALL the time. and I love it. 
Wedding ring: Still on, but the swelling is not looking promising. I usually take it off when I'm getting too warm
What I miss: my wine. I'm a total wino and can't wait to have a glass postpartum! 
What I'm loving: the final touches. I go in his room and just stare at the closet. and those little clothes. and dream about dressing him and rubbing lotion on his sweet body. I really am trying to embrace these moments because there are sweeter ones to come.      
What I'm looking forward to: Finishing off the nursery and putting our feet up before he gets here. Nursery pics soon to come!
Best moment this week: Putting his crib together last night. It makes it feel so much better in the nursery with all the furniture in it's place   
Milestones: getting through each day. ha ha this pregnancy deal is hard in the end! I know it will be so worth it though!