Camping Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Have you ever been between a rock and a hard place? You go one way and that doesn’t look so good. And the alternative doesn’t look so good either. Everyone is depending on you to pull off the right decision and keep things stable, but you just feel stuck. What do you do? I realized lately that when you’re feeling stuck you’ve just got to do something, because stuck is going absolutely nowhere!

Recently I made a hard decision that doesn’t make a lot of sense on paper. But I had to do something for my own emotional health, for the good of my family, and just so I could get some stuff done. Thankfully my employer (I’ve been there 8 years) agreed to it.

We are very much a two-income family and though we live quite frugally already, I decided to take a 20% pay cut in order to reduce my full-time work hours down to 32-hours (off on Fridays). By doing that, I was also able to hire someone to do some project management for 15 hours per week in order to take off of my plate some of the details and concepting for my marketing team. I oversee a communication arts team at a very large church, and we do all of the graphic design, marketing, website, advertising, etc. for the church and all of its ministries. There are a lot of projects all at once all of the time.

This decision to cut my wages does not make good sense on paper. Josiah’s biomedical expenses are not covered by insurance, and depending on this test or that, along with supplements, the price tag can be astonishing and volatile. His organic, gluten-free/dairy free food is ridiculously expensive. We just paid $530 for his eyeglasses, for goodness sake! But, at least for a window of time–about 6 months or so–I need to do something that doesn’t financially make sense in order to be the mom and wife that I need to be for my family right now. I need to do this so I can reduce my stress and have time to replenish me for this race we’re on with Josiah’s autism challenges. We have been faithful with our money and with our tithing to God, and I’m banking on the fact that he will honor this decision.

I thought I could be the same supervisor and employee at work who hit the floor ready to deal with all of the decisions, be creative, put out fires, talk with people, manage a million projects, bring home extra work to get the job done with excellence–and do all of it with a smile to boot. I can’t do all of that any more. By the end of this last summer, I was spent. I didn’t know how to, but I wanted to walk away from my job that I had loved and just figure something else out because I couldn’t see how I could live like this. Stress can douse joy and sound thinking, and can make it very unclear how to deal with things that really aren’t as major as they can appear. Everything becomes the “straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

I’ve been on a quest these past couple of months to get my priorities straight. I’ve asked myself, “At the end of my life, what will have mattered?” My relationship with God. My relationship with my family. My relationship with others. My health. That’s it, people. Not a paycheck. Not how hard I worked. Not how creative I could be. Not how hard I could produce for someone else.

Some sort of crisis usually brings people face to face with what is really important, and it’s not all of the empty promises of the so-called American dream. So, I’ve prayed and thought about all of this, and I’ve decided that I’m going to get comfortable camping between a different “rock and a hard place”…

God said, “Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by.” Exodus 33:22

I’m going to believe for God to meet all of our needs, and to direct and guide us. And, at the same time, I’m going to use my Fridays while Josiah is at his school getting therapy to pick and choose from whatever the needs are: run errands and grocery shop, prepare freezer meals for my family, read and pray, clean the house, have coffee with a friend, and just restore my soul. I’m on my second Friday and I’m already feeling the stresses ease.

P.S.: If anyone has good ideas for getting the most out of your budget, let me know. I want to do more with less, especially when it comes to food. I already was happy to find my husband some really nice used sweaters last Friday at Savers–all for about $5 each!

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6 Responses

  1. Definitely a tough decision. Good luck. I think you’ll be okay 🙂

  2. Awesome. I can only imagine how tough it was to make that decision, but it sounds like you did the right thing. I’m hoping and praying that you will begin to feel more layers of stress fall away.
    Thank you for that nugget of wisdom in Exodus 33. I want to be found in that “rock and hard place” as God is shown is all His glory!
    I don’t have any good tips to offer… I suppose you’ve already seen “GFCF On A Budget” on the TACA website?
    I wish I could meet you for coffee on one of your Friday’s off. Maybe one day…

  3. Very happy for you, T-bahm! I know it’s a scary decision, yet it seems like God is leading the way. Please let me be one of the Friday coffee mates!

  4. Good for you Tahni, you guys are going to make it just fine. You will discover all sorts of creative ways to make do! I know, without a doubt, it is all going to work out – and you are right to follow that need. A healthy, happy mama is a great gift to your family. On a side note – Oh my Goodness! Could that boy be any sweeter! That Halloween picture is making me swoon, what a doll baby!!
    Love you girl, think of you guys often!

  5. What an awesome decision! God leads you and you listened. You’ll find ways to make it work out. (And my best tip for saving money? Keep an ongoing list of those things you ‘need.’ Keep that list handy and be ready to shop during sales only. Not only do you re-evaluate what you want to buy, so you know if it’s a true need, or just a want, but you’ll save money. And shop clearance racks. Kohl’s is an awesome place to get good quality clothes for rock-bottom if you use clearance racks and Kohl’s coupons..if you have a Kohl’s charge, you get more discounts, but be sure to pay off the bill no matter what each month. Debt just adds to the stress, so only use any kind of credit to save money and pay monthly no matter what.) Good luck!

  6. ah, sweet young Cullen Family! I’ve wiped away most of the tears that went dripping during your video — HOW POWERFUL it is!!! — but there are more (tears) left sloshing around in my heart. As a mama to one little boy, my firstborn and only child, I appreciate the package of hopes and aspirations you held /hold for this little one and I share your sadness and prayers.

    You have my infinite admiration for the parenting job you’re doing; no mattter how far short you may feel you fall, I”m confident Josiah couldn’t find better parents ANYWHERE! God be with you, providing you strength and creativity, courage and frequent, steady refreshment.. All my love, Auntie Zan

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