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Last Day Of Work // New Life Begins

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Remember that post earlier this month where I said I had handed in my resignation for later this spring? Yeah, well, it turns out "later this spring" came a whole lot sooner than I expected. Today was my last day at work. If everything goes according to plan (namely, if I get pregnant later this year or early next year) then today was quite possibly my last day of traditional 9-to-5 type work EVER. So weird.

I have a bunch of blog posts waiting to be finished and posted here, but before I get to any of that I really wanted to take time to document the lessons I've learned over the past three years as an administrative assistant in a retail customer service environment. I didn't grow up planning to work in an office, answering phones and transferring calls and responding to emails. Between elementary school and university, my various career aspirations included wanting to be a princess, a teacher, a writer, a marine biologist, a parapsychologist, a wedding planner, a lawyer, a social worker and an art curator - just to name a few! Secretarial, administrative work was never on my list and never something I aspired to ... yet it was definitely part of God's plan for me. 

Being an administrative assistant humbled me. I was offered a job before I moved to Vancouver but, once here, that quickly fell apart and I was left scrambling for new employment. When I was offered the job at the office I was relieved and grateful. It didn't take long, though, for that gratitude to be replaced with a prideful attitude. As someone with a university education, I felt that I was "above" being an administrative assistant. I felt embarrassed when new acquaintances asked me what I did for work and I had to confess that I was "just" an administrative assistant. My friends were pursuing careers in medicine, law, engineering, science, real estate, etc and I felt leap years behind. God used this experience to reveal my prideful heart and, together, we worked through my issues of insecurity and arrogance. It took time but eventually I got to a place where I was able to say, with confidence, that my career does not define me. This would never have happened if I had been handed a career that fed into my pridefulness. 

Working in Customer Service taught me a thing or two about serving other people. I spent my days tending to tasks assigned to me by my boss or working on behalf of clients to resolve an issue. As mentioned earlier, being a princess was the first job I ever wanted and, while I certainly matured over the years, I definitely carried that with me well into my twenties. Serving other people and putting other people's needs/desires before my own is not something that comes easily or naturally to me ... and there I was, working 9-to-5 doing just that. Funny how life works sometimes ...

My job reminded me daily of grace. Over the past three years, I dealt with people who were angry, frustrated and upset. Of course, not EVERY client was calling or writing to complain about something, but many were. I had people call me nasty names, hang up on me, even threaten me. I lost my cool once, hanging up on a man who was threatening me, but most of the time I was able to respond professionally and with kindness. I kept Bible verses on my desk and would read them while one the phone with a particularly difficult customer. I can't say I'm going to miss being verbally attacked by outraged clients, but I wouldn't trade that experience. It was really good practice in dishing out grace, and a great reminder that my strength comes from the Lord.

I'm really grateful for the lessons I've learned over the past 3 years, and the way God has been working in me. He definitely used my job to shape and mold me, and I'm sure He will use my experiences as a stay-at-home wife and (eventually) mother to further grow me into the disciple I am called to be. It will be so strange to wake up tomorrow and not have to rush out the door to work! I'm excited to see what's in store. Stay tuned! :)


Our First "Love Day" As Mr. & Mrs

Friday, February 15, 2013
Valentine's Day was a quiet, but cozy, one for us. Before I left for work that morning, I wrote 15 little post-it notes to Alan reminding him of how much I love him & what traits I admire most in him. I left them on our door as a surprise. When I got home, I was surprised with a gorgeous bouquet of a dozen pink roses. We cooked dinner together (chicken breast stuffed with crab .. mmmmm delicious) and shared a bottle of wine. We exchanged handmade Valentines.

This is gonna sound cheesy but in our house, Love Day is everyday. We love to surprise each other with little trinkets and gifts, and we express our affections for one another often. For us, Valentine's Day is really just an excuse to treat ourselves with a good meal. I'm sure once we have children and aren't able to go out on grown-up dates as often we'll appreciate Valentine's Day more ... but we'll never need a holiday to remember to be grateful for each other. 

I hope you had a wonderful day with the ones you love! 

Our Winter Retreat

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
It's safe to say that the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for us. We got home from Hawaii and grudgingly slipped back into "real life". We changed churches and became involved with a new community group (aka weekly Bible study/discussion group). We both got sick and felt under the weather for a good two weeks. Alan's work got crazy busy and he had to put in a lot of overtime. I quit my job. 

We're only a month and a half in and, already, 2013 has been a year of growth, change and transition. It's been exciting but it's also been a little exhausting. We both agreed that we needed a weekend away - just some time out of the city to focus on catching our breath & reconnecting with each other. A couples' retreat. 

We decided to keep it very low-key and ended up spending the weekend in Abbotsford, a nearby city an hour or so from Vancouver. We ate good food, had good conversation, read good books ... and, thankfully, the weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery as we strolled around the lake. It was glorious.

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind
- CS Lewis

and all of a sudden, life was a blank canvas.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I quit my job today.

Okay, so technically I gave notice of my resignation for later this spring. It's not like I stormed into the office, gave a good rant and stormed right out. But in resigning, I did take a bold, unexpected step toward a whole new life ... and honestly? It was just downright terrifying. 

I'm a planner. I like things organized; life events on a schedule with a very clear itinerary. I like to know the when, where and how of every major decision far in advance so I can make choices accordingly. I like to stick to the plan. And this, this was NOT part of the 2013 plan. The plan was to work until I got pregnant, whenever that may be, and then go off on maternity leave and transition slowly into life as a stay-at-home-mommy.

Well, I'm not pregnant and there's no maternity leave in my near future. I'm not transitioning to a new position or a new work environment. I'm not leaving because my employer was mean (he wasn't) or because of unethical business practices (there weren't any) or because the salary sucked (it didn't). I'm not leaving because we're moving away to a new city. 

I'm leaving because of a stupid little sign I saw in Chapters that said -

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

Obviously, there's MUCH more to this story than just that one sign but I think the sign sums it up quite nicely. Maybe I'll share more on my reasons for leaving another time, but for now I want to reflect on some of the reasons that leaving was so hard despite my husband's encouragement and my knowing that it was the right step.

As someone who's been working full-time hours for the past ten years, an "independent woman" with her own income and the ability to take care of herself, the decision to quit and become financially dependent on my husband was scary. There are ladies out there who will argue that it's downright irresponsible and I get that. I wrestled with that too. For me, it became a matter of trust. Do I truly trust my husband? Do I trust that he has my best interests at heart? Do I truly trust God? Do I trust that the Lord will provide for us and bless us if we are obedient to Him and His plan? It took time and a lot of prayers, but eventually the answer to all those questions was a resounding "yes!". 

Then there was also the issue of loyalty to work through. My boss has been incredible to me and I've been so fortunate to have had this job - a job that, arguably, I didn't deserve and certainly wasn't qualified for. There was a part of me that felt that leaving was a form of betrayal. Again, it took time and prayer, but eventually I reached a place where I understood that you don't always have to do what other people want/expect of you to honor the blessings they've poured into your life. 

And last, but certainly not least, there was that fear of being judged. "What are people going to think of me when they hear that I've quit a perfectly good job for no apparent reason? Am I going to be labelled a lazy housewife who got married and within months started mooching off her husband? Are people going to lose respect for me? There are certain people who are just gonna have a field day with this ... are the rest of my friends going to be supportive?"

It was that last issue that held me back the longest. I am, admittedly, way too wrapped up in what other people think of me and my life. I have often made decisions based not on my own desires and aspirations but on the reactions I expected to receive from other people. I wouldn't say that I'm a "people pleaser" but I am definitely a "praise-and-compliment-seeker". I have a tendency to thrive from the approval and admiration of others and therefore make decisions I feel will garner the most public support.  At twenty-six, I've finally come to the conclusion that this is no way to live. 

So this afternoon I informed my boss that I will be leaving. It was a difficult, awkward conversation. But when it was over, I felt soooooooooooooo good. I am so excited to see what new projects and adventures are in store for me later this year - I have a few in mind but, really, I just want to give God space to work! And can I just say how freakin' proud I am of myself??!! It's so hard to step out in faith and take a risk, to deviate from the plan ... but sometimes, when you allow the plan to get messy, an even better one comes along. 

The biggest mistake you can ever make is being too afraid to make one. 

snapshots of our wedding, part two

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
As promised, here is part two of our wedding story with a special emphasis on my dress. I've heard stories of girls who spend months dress shopping but I went to one store, for about one hour, and bought the 4th dress I tried on. Easy peasy! 

My mom flew in from Montreal for the weekend and together, along with three of my bridesmaids, we ventured out to find "the dress". Several Vancouver friends had recommended a shop called Lisa's Bridal so I booked an early morning appointment. (Note to future brides: ALWAYS book an appointment. You will get better service because they'll have a consultant and a room set aside for you, and you get one-on-one attention). 

Going in, I had a very specific vision in mind of what kind of dress I wanted. I wanted a mermaid gown with lace and ruching around the bust area. I wanted white, and ONLY white - none of this ivory or cream business! I didn't want a princess gown and I definitely didn't want to go strapless. I conveyed all this to my consultant, who was an absolute gem to work with, and we headed into the shop where I immediately spied these beauties .... 

As soon as I saw those beautiful gowns, it was game over. My vision went out the window and I just wanted to try everything on! I tried on a mermaid gown first and it was an epic fail - mermaid style does NOT look good on ladies with Caribbean curves. Not including that hideous mermaid, I liked almost every gown I put on but definitely had two favorites. The first was a huge, puffy princess gown in a "blush white" color - meaning white/ivory with shades of pink. The second was a more traditional, A-line gown with the lace and ruching I wanted. It was a tough decision, but in the end I went with gown number two ... the traditional A-line. The first dress made me feel like a ballerina, but the second made me feel like a bride.

It had a lace-up back, a subtle floral pattern around the bodice and down the skirt, a long train and gorgeous ruching that made my waist look teeny tiny! Anything that makes my waist look good is a keeper. 

Because my dress had a lot going on with the lace, the beading, the floral pattern, etc  I decided to keep all other fashion details pretty simple. I chose a mantilla lace veil, sported baby blue TOMS with 1 Corinthians 13 on them and wore classic, pearl chandelier earrings. I felt beautiful and comfortable, which is exactly how a dream wedding dress should feel!

And there you have it, my "say yes to the dress" story! It was honestly the most enjoyable part of wedding planning for me and the least stressful. I'd love to hear about your wedding dress or, if you're not married yet, what kind of a gown you dream of!