We all have a different Africa

First of all, must Spring Break really end? We just spent the most glorious week at the beach with our family of 4. Sam even claimed it to be our best vacation ever- topping Disney World and tying with our Disney Cruise. I don’t know about that, but I will say that it couldn’t have come at a better time. All of us needed the sun and sand with all our mind, heart and soul. I am beyond grateful for the ability our family has to take vacations and that not only can we get away, but that we have the financial resources to pay for the facility resources available to keep Gran while we are away. It is a blessing I don’t even lightly take for granted.

One thing God and I had several chats about this week as I let the waves of His Grace and Mercy just crash over me. I’d really rather be in Africa…… As Christians we often say I’ll follow God wherever He calls. And, then, we check in with God and say, You know I’ll follow wherever You lead, but pretty please just don’t take me too far out of my comfort zone. For those of us living in a very comfortable first world America, with very little persecution for our faith, we almost always associate God calling us to do the impossible to be something like serving as a missionary in a Third World country such as Africa, Haiti, the depths of Asia, or something like that. We often dismiss the fact that our Africa could be right here, smack dab in the middle of our perfect little world.

There was a point in our marriage that I was pretty sure our calling really would be to a Third World country. Jeff and I are both very mission minded, and “go” is a passion of ours. Given Jeff’s skill set, it would have made very good sense for God to call us to a disaster torn area. Specifically, in 2010, I think Jeff and I were just waiting for the Holy Phone to ring and God to tell us we were headed to help rebuild Haiti. With the skills we both had, it just seemed like a natural fit. And, even with two toddlers, I was almost eager to go. And, the phone never rang…. We didn’t even get the call for a temporary week long service project. I don’t know if I was sad that I felt like God didn’t think we were up for the mission challenge; or if I was mad that He didn’t save us from our own financial hell of a downturn in the housing market that had greatly impacted both of our careers. But, we stayed and continued to muddle through our normal life. Not to say God didn’t use us in that time, He certainly gave us both many opportunities to serve our community and local church.

All that to say, while I’m the first to admit I greatly enjoy my lavish lifestyle, flair for travel, and way too much stuff… a call to sell it all and hit the mission field probably wouldn’t have been a huge personal sacrifice for me. It just wouldn’t. Not that I’m begging God to test me on that this particular moment. I just think I could have done that with relatively little dependence on Him. It would have just been another item on my checklist. I would have planned and managed that calling to death and told God how and when we were going to do it. And, in all of my “self” I would have totally missed it. A calling to “Africa” is about total dependence on God. Letting Him do the planning, letting Him get the Glory. Understanding that there is absolutely no possible way that WE or I could take one step toward the call without utter dependence on Him. And, for that reason we all have a very different “Africa”. Your calling may truly be to move to a Third World country to serve the sick and hungry.

And, in case you haven’t figured out, my Africa is staring at me from the comfort of my own home. As a child I was terrified of old people. Visiting my Great-Grandmother in the nursing home made me physically ill. I wanted to go to Medical School at one point in life. I would have had TERRIBLE bed side manner. I would have been nice and sweet on the first visit; but when you didn’t do what I told you to do to make yourself better, or you starting whining about feeling bad- I would not have been kind. I also thought about being a teacher. Problem with that plan, I tell you once, you learn and we move on. Telling you multiple times- I ain’t got the patience for that. Hello, Misty, welcome to your Africa. You will serve Me in a way that throws you to your knees moment by moment. You will be so uncomfortable and know that without complete and utter dependence on Me, your Lord and your God you truly cannot face another tomorrow.

What does that look like to me? It is two years of caring for an old person. A diabetic that refuses to properly follow her diet, thus continues to feel bad. One that needs medication on a regular schedule, yet fights it. One that poops their pants and needs to be cleaned up. One that can’t remember what you said 30 seconds ago, so you repeat yourself over and over and over one thousand times. Someone that used to love and adore me, yet now cusses me and hates me and tells me what a terrible person I am. (Yes, I know this isn’t my Grandmother really saying these things.) I never really thought about caring for a dementia patient as being on mission. But, God continually shows me to take joy in these moments, because it is where He has called me to serve in the moment.  Believe me, most days I am begging God to call me to Africa to escape my world. Somedays, I say forget you God, I am running away to Africa to hide in a hut in a remote village so you can’t find me to call me to serve You. How long will God leave me in my proverbial Africa? I truly have no idea. I don’t know how much longer my family can continue to serve this way. But, for now, I pray that God gives me the strength to remain faithful to the call before me.

So, where is your Africa? Do you need to sell it all and serve in a foreign land? Do you need to take in an orphan and love one of the least of these in your own home? Are you fighting a terrible disease so that God can get the glory in your fight, whether He get the glory in your earthly physical healing or your eternal healing in Him? Do you need to head up a community project to honor and serve the Lord in your neighborhood? I don’t know what God is calling you to do. What I am almost willing to bet, it isn’t what you have planned out and asked God to bless. It probably isn’t something you could easily do on your own. God is calling us to complete and total dependence on Him. Allowing Him to work through us to bring Glory to His name.

I Have Never Felt Less Than

I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers a little with this post. And, I really have no intentions of using this blog as my political jumping point. But, this blog is about my struggle as a wife, mother, and caregiver of my elderly grandmother. So, a good deal of how I feel on the issue below is a result of all those things. And, greatly an influence of Gran teaching me as I grew up. So, if you’re willing to venture with me onto a dicey topic and not send me any crazy negative, irrational feedback (because I just don’t have time for that right now) come along. One more disclaimer, I love Jesus a whole lot, but I tend to cuss a little. Especially when I am operating on very little sleep and I get real passionate about something…. So, you’ll probably need to be able to overlook that too in order to keep reading. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s carry on…..

I need eight hours of sleep, like really, really need it. My alarm goes off at 5:00am every day. I used to spring out of bed by 4:30 without an alarm, these days I need help. So, that being said I am usually in bed  by 9:00. Last night I was negotiating an offer on a hot property after 11:00pm. So, I wasn’t super chipper when my alarm went off. Jeff had to bring my coffee to bed, fix the kids lunch, and tell me to get my act together. I was beat. Well, when the national news came on at 7:00 and told me I wasn’t even supposed to be working today, I was PISSED. Why didn’t any of you fools tell me this yesterday? If I knew women had the day off work today, I wouldn’t have interrupted my sleep pattern with a freaking 5:00am alarm. What is this sisterhood we are marching for if we can’t help a sister get some Z’s?!?!?

Oh, that’s right, the rest of you were too busy getting shit done to realize you weren’t supposed to be working either…. International Women’s Day, lovely! I am super proud to be a woman and who doesn’t love to be celebrated. Awesome, it’s March 8th, wear red, tell a woman she’s awesome. But, wait a minute? We are supposed to Protest how we’re treated- unequal jobs and unequal pay because I have a vagina- by not showing up to our work? Maybe I didn’t learn negotiation techniques well, or I missed the point somewhere along the way. But, I thought the best way to show you that I was equal on the job was to show up, show out, do a killer job, and ask for the pay I want and deserve. It just seems like I am making your point for you if I protest by sitting home baking cookies and painting my nails. So, no I will not be participating in the Day Without Women march or protest or whatever the heck is going on today. I am going to go out in my awesome woman-ness and show a few men how to get shit done.

Oh, that’s right, I am a traditional Southern Baptist girl. I follow traditional rolls and it’s okay for me to think the way I think “Bless My Heart.” Ummm, no. Just to set the record straight in our roll playing situation. I bring home more bacon in my house than my husband does. He picks up the kids from school some days, takes them to school some days, fixes their breakfast every day they plan on eating, fixes their lunches some days, washes clothes, folds laundry. Whatever the heck needs to be done, because we are freaking partners. Was I a stay at home mom for a portion of their life? Yep, but only because that was my choice. So, if you average out our incomes over the life span, he’s probably made more money than me. But, only because that is how we decided to parent. Trust me, Jeff would love to be a stay at home dad. But, I wear a big enough size pair of pants to tell him “Hell to the No.”

Will my daughter feel like I have slighted her and I wasn’t strong enough of a woman because I didn’t protest today? No, I am pretty sure she’ll never even think about it. Why, because I never even thought about it. I was not only the first woman in my family with a college degree, I was the first person in my family with a college degree. When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a brain surgeon; when I was in third grade I wanted to be a teacher; when I was in fifth grade I wanted to be a lawyer; when I was 9th grade I wanted to be a pediatrician; when I graduated high school I wanted to be a math teacher; when I was in college I just wanted to freaking graduate because I didn’t really want to grow up and do any of those things. But, never once did I think that because I was a female I wouldn’t be able to do any of those things, or that I wouldn’t be paid fairly to do them. I just knew that whatever I wanted to do, I was going to have to work for it. I had to go to school, I had to make good grades, and I had to go to my job. I didn’t decide not to be a doctor because I was a girl and wasn’t good at math and science- no I love math and science and I was really good at it. I decided not to be a doctor when I shadowed one at the hospital at they talked about 24-36 shifts during residency and I realized I would probably kill someone if I had to go without sleep that much. Again, I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to put in the effort it was going to take to get me there.

I graduated college and went to work in retail management. I was paid exactly what I asked to be paid. I went to work, I showed up, I did a great job. I was offered a pretty serious promotion within just a couple months of working to be the Regional Human Resources Director. I actually ended up turning it down because of some corporate restructuring coming down the pike and I didn’t want to have to move. Again, not because I wasn’t qualified for them job- I just didn’t want to make the sacrifice.

In another job I found out a boy was making more money than me, and I knew I was better at the job than he was. I was ticked. I went to my boss to pitch a fit. You know what he said, “I’m paying both of you exactly what you asked for.” He wasn’t making more money because he had a penis, he was making more money because he asked for it. So, what happened, I got my crap together and argued for a raise- and I got it.

I currently have a career in residential real estate. For many years this was a male dominated industry. I haven’t ran the statistics lately, because honestly what everyone else is making has no impact on how much money I am making, so I don’t care. But, just knowing what I know- I’d say females dominate this market. We make more money, we own and manage more brokerages, and hold a greater market share than men. In general, our pay for services is equal. All commissions are negotiable in TN, and some of us negotiate for different amounts. But, all in all, we get paid the same rate to do the same job. And, guess what, if you suck at your job, your clients will tell everyone they know and you won’t get much more business.

Another fun fact. My husband and I also own a construction company. Want to talk about a male dominated industry? Want to know something else? We also have women that work for us. I asked Jeff to make sure I wasn’t lying, but our ladies make just as much, if not more than the boys.What? Why? Because, we don’t care what is in your britches. We care about your experience, your qualifications, and the quality of work you do. And, we will pay you based on that no matter if you are white, green, red, brown, girl, boy, or elephant. You show up to work and do an awesome job, we’ll probably even throw you a little bone along the way.

So, as I shared on Facebook this morning. I am not protesting my vagina today.

It would have been awesome if someone had told me before I set my alarm last night that I was supposed to protest and not work today. However, rather than acknowledge that there is a difference between people of different sexes, races, or nationalities in the American work force, I’m going to protest such propaganda by showing my kids what it takes to be the top in whatever industry you choose. Get your ass out of bed, even when you don’t feel like it, even when someone has offended you, and show them what you’re made of. It never occurred to me that any job was off limits, what occurred to me was that different jobs required different skills and different work ethic. I chose the one I wanted and I work my butt off to be as successful as I want to be and make the money I want to make. A Day Without Women is ludicrous, as it took a woman to get each and every one of us here. And, just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I have to prove that my value is any different than the men working beside me today.

I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be raising my daughter (and son for that matter) in a society where women can work and achieve. Where women can be the CEO, and demand equal or better pay. But, I won’t be making my protest from my couch. I am going to show my kids that you’ve got to show up for this life. You don’t get more by doing less. And, if you want to do less, and sit on your couch, fine- go for it. But, don’t bitch that you aren’t making as much money as me or feel less than me because I am out working for it. Go be you and be proud! No one can make your feel inferior without your consent (I think Eleanor Rosevelt said that first).