Author Archives: cesperbeck

2017 Goals: Where Am I At?


I thought I had posted for November, but it turns out I just saved a nearly finished draft without publishing it. I’ve noticed a pattern there. A couple of times this month (that I can remember, at least) I’ve composed but not sent important texts and emails. I’m losing my short-term memory. I think a side effect of working in steno is losing your ability to remember things because your job is to literally hear everything and not listen to any of it. I’ve successfully learned how to switch off that part of my brain, but too bad I haven’t quite learned how to switch it back on again.

Next week is finals week for the hubs. And you know what? I should have known it wouldn’t come without major drama. Between marriage hurdles, school assignments and overnighters, long hours typing and editing, helping friends in need, parenting, caring for a sick dog, church events, upcoming holidays, making sure the bills stay paid and everyone eats three meals a day and has clean socks and underwear (and the list goes on) it just wouldn’t be a full grown-up experience unless something big loomed over us too, overshadowing the smaller daily struggles.

(Goodness, look at that list. No wonder I never feel like exercising.)

Suffice it to say we are in a situation that threatens to end or delay the hubby’s graduation… or put us another several thousand dollars in debt. Choose your poison, right? None of it is our responsibility or within our realm of control. We will know more what direction we’re heading in a few days. I trust the Lord and am using this confusing, discouraging time to seek Him, His kingdom, and righteousness, because I know He will meet the rest of our needs in the way He sees fit. And what an incredible blessing it’s been to draw near to Him, dependent and small.

Isaiah 55:8-9 has been running through my mind after our pastor reminded us of it last Sunday:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Mulling over, pondering, meditating on, chewing, tasting these verses has brought me great comfort. It’d be nice if things worked out in a way that, you know, makes sense and follows the formula and brings a predictable, secure result. But our God isn’t really in the practice of doing things that way, so who knows what interesting, amazing, bizarre events will happen next?

Contentment. Isaiah 55:8-9. I have not “become content” this year, but I’m crossing it off the list because the Lord is enough, and right now I am experiencing it. He’s the treasure to be found when trials come.

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. I spoke with a videographer the other day who urged me to take the plunge and start realtime reporting. We’ll see how things play out with the hubby’s tuition issue. I plan to keep this volume of work up until he finds a job, so if I test for the RPR, transition to realtime reporting, pay for some training, raise my rates, and invest a little bit more in my career next semester, it might be very helpful (if not essential) to our family’s well-being. If I can’t get pregnant until I can stop working, I may as well use that time to further my professional self.

Pay off credit cards and at least one car. This hurdle remains too high to climb over, especially at this time with hubby’s tuition thing. Dave Ramsey, I’m on board! Hopefully I can get the hubby on board too once this half-decade-long education fiasco is over with.

Make music. Guess what! It didn’t happen till the end of the year, but it happened! I picked up my ukulele not once but TWICE, tuned it, and strummed a few things on it. Because why not? I’m going crazy anyway, so I may as well throw in some pretty-ish noise. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” has been stuck in my head. Gosh, how I wish the Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt duo was available on iTunes.

Act on the home project urges.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I’ll be taking time off work at the end of the month so I can bake cookies and sing carols and laugh with loved ones… and try to think about what my goals for 2018 will be.


2017 Goals: Where Am I At?


Has September come and gone already? I have been THANKFULLY so busy with work that time is flying!

The hubby is back in school and is just keeping up with assignments. He signed up for a job event where we are hoping and praying maybe a good opportunity will present itself! Unfortunately, his grandfather passed away about two weeks ago and we attended his funeral today.  Between that and the Las Vegas shooting, death has been on my mind… or rather how thankful I am that because of Jesus I have hope for life after death, life that does not end and carries no pain or sorrow with it, life that is fully satisfying because it is spent with the only One who truly satisfies. So I’m squeezing my daughter a little tighter, kissing my hubby a little longer, and just trying not to get weighed down by the little things.

The Lord, as we hoped, has provided more than enough regular child care for us. We have a great new nanny and another nice family with kids our daughter can play with. It costs money, but I have so much work right now that it’ll pay for itself quickly. Our girl seems to be doing really well with all these people in her life instead of being stuck at home all day, so we are relieved. Steady child care is the backbone of our lives at the moment, so praise God for giving us what we needed to keep the bills paid!

Contentment. Right this moment, I am content. Except that box of cookies from Trader Joe’s is looking a little tempting right now…

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. No effort here. Actually working has kept me so occupied that I haven’t even been able to do anything else properly.

Pay off credit cards and at least one car. Well, the big paychecks are going to start rolling in, so hopefully we’ll be able to say we made progress by the end of the year. Whatever. At least our holidays might be comfortable this year.

Make music. I sang in the car today! And I also introduced our daughter to some vocal exercises that maybe we’ll work on together also in the car. Her ear needs a little training, and I could use some scale work myself. Easy way to get a little music in our lives.

Act on the home project urges. Phase 2 of the canvas is complete! I actually took time to be creative with some fall decor too, and I love how it turned out. I consider this goal met and look forward to more opportunities as the holidays roll around.

2017 Goals: Where Am I At?


Summer went out with a bang! August was hot, busy, and wild, but also slow and painful during the times our family came down with summer colds. It’s still hot, but the days are shortening. Fall is around the corner, I pray sooner rather than later.

The hubby was doing so well with his internship, and then it suddenly went belly-up on the very last day. So it’s looking like his career won’t be with that company, unfortunately, and we’re back to the drawing board concerning a job for him. Still don’t know where we’ll end up or what we’ll be doing a year from now. I trust the experience was not a waste and the Lord will provide what we need even though none of it makes sense. The hubby’s back in school — has been for a couple weeks now. It’s the beginning of his last year!

I didn’t get to work much in August because our daughter kept getting sick, just one virus after the other. Praise God that I could work at least on the hubby’s days off once a week, and each of those jobs turned out to be good ones that will make up for what I lost. These are hard days, y’all. Even if things turned around overnight and life was comfortable/”stable,” the future would still not be certain. So I guess it’s better to be in a place where we more readily depend on the Lord. We still have a lot to be thankful for about the last five years.

I don’t know if it’s me, the age, or something else, but parenting our four-year-old has been super tough. By mid morning every day I’m already drained. (I might also be drained because of a newly discovered thyroid problem, but there’s a lot of research yet to do.) There are no shortcuts with parenting when you love your child, and I know someday all of this will be just a memory. So I try not to idolize “me” time too much (blaming all my problems on the lack of it) or dwell on the negative and the constant inconveniences. As time goes on I find myself more and more frequently in a place where I am wholly inadequate for handling, let alone redeeming, another sinful soul. Thank goodness Jesus has done that already.

Last week we did a little out-of-state traveling to somewhere cool and green, and then the highlight of my year: backpacking! It had been ten whole years since my last trip, and I loved every hard minute. My pack needs to be lightened and I need to be in better shape for next time (Lord willing there’s a next time), but it was so much fun and so beautiful and peaceful and just what my soul needed. The trip was tightly bookended by major stressors, so I’ve taken off an entire week from work and socialization just to rest, catch up on transcripts, and nurse my sunburn and sore calves. I’m on fire, though, for next summer already, whether it’s slow comfort-camping or rugged backcountry hiking. It’s absolutely my niche; I don’t love any other hobby as much.

Contentment. Agh, it’s been such a struggle. Contentment as its own topic hasn’t really crossed my mind at all. I figure I just need to keep running after Jesus and I will find it. Now I’m starting to think about next year and what things I should work towards in 2018. There will be a lot more focus on the heart.

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. I am slowly incorporating more briefs while on jobs, but not sitting down at home and practicing intentionally. Ain’t nobody got time for that. RPR? The only really good reason left to take it is the licensing reciprocity it allows me in many other states… something I WILL need by next summer if the hubby finds a job in another non-Texas state. 

Pay off credit cards and at least one car. We were so close to paying off the big card, but we weren’t able to after all. We actually ended up adding some charges to other cards, which loads me down with guilt and frustration. But my paychecks this month were good, and I am pretty confident I can cover at least my own remaining balance right away. It was that pesky backpacking trip and (blissful) shopping at REI. At least we have almost everything we need now!

Make music. I didn’t make any music, but I did buy some! Found another rare song I like enough to spend money on and listen to over and over until I’m sick of it. 

Act on the home project urges. Still working on Phase 2 of the Beauty and the Beast canvas. Can’t wait till it’s finished! When I start Phase 3, I’ll have to make another trip to Hobby Lobby (what a chore!). Now that it’s September — the first month of FALL! — my creative juices are pumping and I need outlets, so that might be kind of dangerous.

2017 Goals: Where Am I At?


It’s been a HOT summer. The over-100-degree days usually come in brief waves where I live, but it seems like it’s been the opposite — mostly over 100 with only brief waves of mid to high 90s.

It’s also been a busy summer, so it’s passing by quickly. I keep telling myself to make the most of it by enjoying cold sparkling drinks and making ice cream. We have the cold drinks down (still not addicted to iced coffee but it’s a struggle); the ice cream has yet to happen, the main reason being that I am avoiding dairy right now. Coconut milk ice cream is gross, and the other non-dairy options either seem like too much work or too weird and, well, also gross. My hormones have been wacky lately, though, so I might cave soon and just make my favorite ice cream, full-fat dairy and all: mint chocolate chip made only with fresh mint leaves (inspired by this ice cream genius). Something to savor between these tired days of work and parenting and life.

Speaking of which, I am very grateful for all the steady work I’ve had — or rather steady babysitting that allows me to work. The hubby started his paid internship at the end of June and has four weeks left. We are praying he is offered a job at the end. Praying for any good job opportunity, really. I am thankful that we had a Plan B, because it definitely became our Plan A for three years and counting, and we really could keep going this way if we had to. But we both hope it will change, at least for a little while so we can focus on growing and raising the family.

Either way, I know the Lord is watching our hearts, watching to see whether we trust Him and are satisfied in Him no matter the ebbs and flows of our lives, or if we keep grasping for the wind by pursuing earthly and selfish comforts.

Contentment. A friend of mine recently shared a blog post on parenting that knocked me to the ground. It had to do with idolatry more than contentment specifically, although I don’t believe the two are unrelated. Maybe I will link to it and write some thoughts later. My pride and my will to overcome evil with good have been challenged quite a bit — are being challenged as I type. 

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. I keep getting emails regarding RPR certification. Maybe it’s (still) time! Ugh! I am so not motivated!

Pay off credit cards and at least one car. Once the hubby’s next paycheck arrives, we will have paid off the biggest — and last — credit card! Unfortunately, we racked up a few hundred again on a card we recently paid off, but after that, we’ll have nothing on the credit cards, period. Hopefully never again for longer than a few days. Haven’t gotten around to the car, but minimum payments are better than nothing.

Make music. Nope, nothing again.

Act on the home project urges. I’ve completely forgotten about those cockroaches! Goes to show how thoroughly they disappeared. Wonderful! If only I could guarantee no spiders too. I’m happy to report, though, that I did do the thing and finally visit Hobby Lobby for the first time EVER… AND go home with supplies for a new project! My friends weren’t kidding about that store; it is straight-up dangerous. Almost as dangerous as creamy iced coffee. Anyway, I started sketching on some canvas for a painting I’m doing for my daughter’s room, the first in hopefully a series of canvases that we’ll decorate a wall with. Why did I wait this long for a creative release?

2017 Goals: Where Am I At?


Another busy month come and gone. When we’re not working, studying, or parenting, there’s something else going on that needs attention (such as hubby breaking his phone or a sudden cockroach infestation). Never a dull moment around here!

But at least we were able to sneak in a weekend of beach camping between my transcripts and his classes. The weather was perfect. I didn’t want to come home. Now I’m dying to go mountain camping for at least a full week. This early summer weather gives me the itch to be outdoors and play instead of work. And what an itch it is. One more year, I tell myself, until neither the hubs nor I will be in school for the first time since before we married. Our life is going to change, which excites us, but I hope part of that change is more freedom for outdoor adventures.

I’ll be keeping it quick today because I have a lot of work pending.

Contentment. I lost focus on contentment this month but learned some other things. Like the gospel. My understanding of the gospel is deepening. And we have a couple of LDS missionaries coming back to visit a second time tonight, which I hope will be a fruitful opportunity to share the real gospel with them.

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. I keep getting emails regarding RPR certification. Maybe it’s time!

Pay off credit cards and at least one car. Only one card left to pay off, and I think we can do it this month! 

Make music. Nope, nothing again.

Act on the home project urges. The cockroaches are just about gone thanks to boric acid. It will be nice to have my kitchen counters back. Hopefully I’ll have more opportunities to be creative this month.