Celebration BBQ

There is something inspiring about having a day off of work. My husband who is a teacher is on Spring Break, so I asked for one day off so I could spend time with him and prepare for our Celebration BBQ. I am throwing him a BBQ because he got his California teaching credential and landed a job. If you know anything about California, there are long processes for everything you want to do and especially if you want to become a teacher. He completed a year and half certification program that included student teaching to earn his credential and ability to work in the public school system. Now, he has a 12 month process as a teacher to fully complete the requirements. Enough about the state- let’s talk about what this journey has been for us.

We got married on November 1st, 2014 at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California. The next day, we moved into our own 500 square foot apartment together as husband and wife. We didn’t take any time off of work- we just wanted to be married. So, that’s what we did! I don’t consider myself to be impulsive in the least, but once I’ve made my mind up to do something… I just want to do it. We got engaged on September 28th, 2014 and a little over a month later were married after a year and a half courtship. I knew I wanted to marry him and so we did just that! I’m pretty sure everyone thought we were pregnant because it was so hasty, but that was not the case. We were just ready to start our life together.

The following Monday we returned to our respective positions- I at my entry level Corporate mortgage job and he to his PE teacher/ teacher’s aide position at a private Christian school. I would like to note that we both had a four year degree, but started out at the very bottom in these industries barely making enough money to survive with the high California cost of living. We lived in a tiny apartment in a questionable area. It was very discouraging after working so hard in school with the promise of getting ahead in life to be at jobs that we could have gotten without our degrees, but it seems like this is the case for many educated folk in this day in age. Looking over our finances, we decided a change must occur. Sean wanted to be a teacher and we both knew deep down that this was his calling. He is great with children- he can captivate them in an instant with a game that just came to him that was so intricate. Not only can he do this with recreational activities, but with educational lessons. Having siblings that are ten years younger than him, he mastered the true art of captivating a child audience a long time ago. He had many after-school care jobs that really sharpened what qualities God had already built in him. He loves to share his knowledge with others and truly desires to help children and teens pursue their dreams. He is the epitome of an educator. So, we knew he absolutely had to pursue this. Not to mention, in the state of California, you can only work at private schools without a credential and you are paid next to nothing.

Sean enrolled in an accelerated program through our Alma Mater to get his teaching credential and Masters in Education. It was quoted as a 21 month program. We made the decision together, but we had no idea the amount of sacrifice that would come with this decision. He started in August of 2015- 9 months after we were married. He stopped working and was a full time student. I was carrying the weight of our finances with a measly position that included long days and an extremely hard working environment. By December, “the struggle was real”. We realized Sean would need to take on part time employment and what better way than to substitute. That ended up being the perfect fit for him- of course! He was offered a long term subbing position at a charter school that he loved working at. He was in his element- working with first graders! They are his favorite age group and I would say that he is their favorite teacher. I cannot tell you how proud I am of my husband for who he is. The excitement that he would express in re-telling his day in the classroom further solidified that he was on the right path.

Around March, I started a small network marketing business which blossomed overnight. I really enjoyed what I was doing and we really needed the funds. But with him working part time and going to school and me working full time and doing network marketing, there was not a lot of time for each other. Life has a way of continuing to throw curve balls at you at the times when you least need it. We were truly on our own, and were continuing to gain expenses. It did not help that is such a high cost of living in California. So, even though we had picked up extra jobs, we were still paycheck to paycheck. Then, the summer came and school was out. Sean worked at a summer camp a few days a week, but that was it. I was working 12 hour days pretty consistently due my full time job and my side business. The combination of financial struggle, long work hours, and less quality time with each other was really putting a strain on us. That was not the sacrifice I imagined when we made the decision for him to pursue this credential. But what is ever as we imagined?

I would say the first year of marriage was hard. We were learning how to live with each other and adjust to each person’s odd peculiarities, background, and deeply engrained martial expectations. Did I mention I am not from California? I am from the Deep South- Ponchatoula, Louisiana, located 45 minutes from New Orleans and 45 minutes from Baton Rouge. If I do say so myself, the perfect place to be if you are going to live in Louisiana. So, I grew up in a completely different culture from my husband! To say that, is truly an understatement(haha). Not only was I from Cajun-land, I also grew up in an extremely legalistic Christian setting. I knew Jesus, but I also knew all the “do’s and don’ts” and even though I didn’t agree with all of them anymore, they were deeply engrained in me. I brought to the table yummy Cajun food, Cajun dancing, tradition, hugs, warmth, and the idea that you should look nice in public. Someone once told me “there’s something a little extra about a Southern woman- most women look nice, but Southern women add that extra touch”. I say that not in an arrogant way, but with pride for my culture. We are “extra”- extra warm, extra kind, extra talkative and probably share too much about ourselves, and extra “hot” when we go to town. But at home, we can get down n’ dirty, cleaning all the nasty with our top buns and our not- been -washed -in -too -long pajama pants. I knew all there was to know about breeding cattle, could ride a four-wheeler, hook my own fish and catch it, and I could also put on my heels, do my hair up, and be a “trophy date”. My husband is from Susanville, California- so North it’s almost to Oregon. It’s a prison town full of beauty but with an air of sadness hanging over it (or that’s my take). Where he is from is pretty small- population of 17,000 and a third of the population are prisoners. Many are employed in the prisons. How do you describe Sean(haha)? He is good at everything he does. He is athletic, playing soccer most of his life even in college. He loves rock n’roll, disc golf, Warhammer, classical literature. He is truly wild at heart. I’ve tamed the “partying” out of him, but he will always be wild at heart. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. We were similar in our Christian foundation and general values, our stage in life, and different life circumstances we had experienced, but we literally have completely different personalities and interests. This was a struggle in the first year of marriage, but now we have grown to compliment each other. Sean is LOUD and loves the attention of a large group. He is a performer. He doesn’t care if it is negative or positive attention- he just loves and feeds on attention. He is the great debater- always playing the Devil’s advocate. He embraces conflict because in his mind, it breeds resolution and allows for the gaining of a new perspective. I am right on the line of extrovert and introvert- I’ve heard it’s called an ambivert. I gain energy in a group, but if I am with them too long; I need some alone time. I love my alone time, but if I am alone too long; I need social interaction. I am a little shy but confident. I don’t enjoy the attention of an entire group. We are opposite haha! So, in the first year of marriage, which I like to call “the two become one stage”, we had a lot going on.

Just to recap- we had just graduated from college, were truly on our own in an apartment all to ourselves, Sean joined an intense educational program, I worked all the time, and we were completely different and from completely different backgrounds…BUT God haha. God knew what He was doing. I believe this was the beginning of a lifelong refining process. Marriage and the obstacles you overcome in your relationship and as a couple have to be the most “molding” that I have ever experienced.

We are now in our 3rd year of marriage and Sean just got his teaching credential and landed a job. We have grown so much as a couple through this journey. We worked together and worked against each other, at times. We accomplished this together, and by this, I mean the 1,700 square foot home we now live in, the parenting of our first indoor pet, learning to live with and love each other’s strange ways, doing home projects together, hitting my career goals together ( if it wasn’t for his encouragement, I wouldn’t have made it this far), and most recently him earning his teaching credential and landing a job. We did it all together! Neither one of us can take the credit for our accomplishments solely; we did it together. It’s amazing how your hardest times can produce the most beautiful results. I look at what we have built and what God has built through this process and I am in awe.

I am throwing him a BBQ to celebrate his accomplishment, but it is a celebration of so much more! WE made it through what will probably be one of the hardest times in our lives. We made it through lack and struggle, cultural differences on every level, personality conflicts, over-expectations, long work days, long school days, bad fights, and all life has thrown at us. I truly believe we can make it through anything now. I know there will be more struggle and new stages of life to embrace that come with their own challenges, but this will always be the foundation that we can look back on and hold onto. What we have is not perfect by any means, but man, it is really something special. I am proud of US. Now, we can enjoy the fruit of our labor for the past few years. And we really are!

Let this serve as an all-over-the-place introduction to the then and now in our lives. I’ve decided to write from time to time about the joys of our current day lives and the lessons we learned to get us to this point. I would also like to note that I absolutely one hundred percent know that we have not “arrived”, but I believe these blog entries could serve as inspiration for some in their martial and life journeys. I am compelled to share with you.

Now, onto embracing today- grocery shopping, crafting, cleaning, yard work, and cooking- all with my hubby!

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