November 30, 2010

Holiday Lights

My son and I put up our holiday lights today. We hung big lights (c7 bulbs) along with icicles. It looks really nice. I have little multi-colored lights on my porch posts, and some colored lights on my bushes. I still need to do the windows and the cactus and palm -- but perhaps tomorrow as I am bushed tonight and I want to catch NCIS.

My cello lesson went really really well. I don't know what is going on, but I think I have finally passed a milestone or something. I can actually play the cello well. My teacher said it is impossible, and that she has never had an adult student stick with an instrument the way I have stuck to the cello. I love it -- I just love the cello, and I want to play it well. I was getting really depressed there for a while, and then boom, the logjam cleared and I started to improve. God is so very good to me.

I am back from taking my son to church (for Worship practice), and I am getting ready to tackle some school work. I need to write a short abstract for my final paper, and I still am not sure what I am going to write on. LOL! The good news is that I am so confident that I will do well, that I am not worried about it. God is so good to me.

I made dinner for my FIL tonight. I think he was surprized to come to my house, but my DH called and asked if we could eat together so he wouldn't have to fix something for his dad. I said OK, and made speghetti. It was good, and now Dad is watching "Hannity" on Fox, and I am blogging. I don't really care what my MIL has to say about it -- I am willing to help my FIL because he needs help (he is disabled). God knows what I am doing is right, and therefore, He is pleased with my attitude and action (of that I am certain).

Now -- I have to get going, but I am so tired. My eyes are not wanting to cooperate so I might have to go and close them for a short while. My son will be home from practice about 8:30 -- and I will have to go pick him up. It will be nice when he can drive himself (hmm....maybe before he turns 30? eh?)

Other than the little news I have to share, not much is going on. I am working on my papers this week, decorating my house, practicing cello, and generally, trying to relax. I got my letter from Phoenix College yesterday, and I was a bit depressed over it. I have since let that go, and realize now that the job wasn't it. God has a job in mind for me, and I have to wait for Him to provide it. I know He can, I know He will -- it is just in His time. God is good all the time.

Jobs Update

Well, I finally got a letter from Phoenix College telling me that I wasn't selected for the Alumni/Community Relations position. It only took one month for them to get back to me with notice that I was not selected. Overall, I spent about five months pursuing that position, and interviewed twice, the last with the college President. I guess it wasn't meant to be, which is so frustrating because the committee basically told me that I had the job (overwhelming me with compliments and kindness demonstrating how pleased they were with my interview). I just don't get it, really. If you are not going to select me as candidate, then just say some nice things and leave it at that -- instead they just went overboard with the affirmation and it threw me for a loop. Oh well, this job was for one year only, and the person who was selected will only have 4-5 months before they will have to look again. It was not God's will for me, so I will just keep on looking.

It is frustrating, though. I have applied so many times now that I just don't think I can do it anymore. I cannot just sit at home, that is for certain; but, what do I do? I have applied for jobs I don't want to get as well as for jobs I would love to have -- nothing seems to be working. I am simply not good at this job hunting business. I am trusting the Lord, but that doesn't seem to be producing any results at all. Yes, He did help me get a couple interviews, and I believe this was to get me comfortable with the interview process. I just don't know what to do next, I mean, how many more jobs must I apply to and then not be considered as qualified? I am tired, I am angry, and I am worn down. I don't want to do this anymore.

In fact, I am just tired with life, in general. The Lord tells me that my life is good right now, that it is not as bleak and hopeless as it appears. I know that from His Grand View, this is true; but from my view, well, it is pretty bleak and hopeless. How many more job applications must I submit, Lord, to only be rejected? I don't think I can do this anymore. I don't think I have it in me.

Of course, He knows best, and He knows how dissapointed I am to not have gotten hired at PC. Truthfully, I didn't even want that job -- but it was the only job I came close to getting, and that smacks me harder than all the jobs I longed for and never heard a word back on. It hurts when you get really close, and then have the door slammed shut ("not interested, not qualified, not chosen.") Ouch!

People who are employed don't understand how awful it is to be out of work for more than a year. They don't think it is that bad out there. In Phoenix, the average time of unemployment is 2 years. I will be going on that mark come 2011. I will be unemployed for over a year, considering that in 2009, I worked half-time only. I didn't work at all in 2010 (only Macy's), and even in 2008, my business was slowly shrinking to 3/4 time. This has been a slow and long and painful decline, and I am now in a situation where I cannot get hired by any firm. I am undesirable on the basis that I am over qualified or under qualified, over educated or under educated, or simply my skin color or ethnicity is the wrong type (yes AA is still in swing in many, many companies -- if I were Hispanic, I would get a job). I am white, European, and female -- an almost 50. I am an Albatross that no one wants hanging around their neck. Ugh!

Ok, I am depressing myself here, so I better stop it. I am depressed, that is for certain. I have hope in God, but I really don't have a lot of faith right now. I just don't know what to do. I am working my body to death at Macy's, and I am living off the blessing/gift the Lord provided to me from my financial aid package. I can live on this, but not if I were to move out or move away. No, to do either, I have to have a real job, a job that pays steady income. This leaves me smack-dab where I am, living in my home, struggling to make ends meet, and having no certainty about anything. I am still in limbo, and I hate it. I hate it.

Furthermore, I have been officially sanctioned by my husband's family, and I am to not have any contact with my MIL (from my SIL). I guess speaking the truth caused the family to pull in the ranks and circle the wagons. I was cast off, kicked out, and told that I had no part in the family at all. It has been hard on me, even though I am angry at their behavior and actions. It has been difficult to be nice, and to do the right thing. I don't want to be nice right now. I don't want to do the right thing. I want to scream at them and tell them how childish they are behaving, and how mean-spirited they are acting. I want to remind them that it is not Christ-like, and that I have done nothing wrong (except choose to place my needs above that of my MIL -- my offense -- not going to see her weekly while she has been ill at home). I had explained this to my MIL back in July. I had told her that once graduate school and work began for me, I would not be able to go to see her and help her during the week anymore. I said I would be happy to do what I could for her and my FIL, as I was able; but that my availability would be limited. I clearly explained this twice -- each time I sat with her for hours in the Emergency Room. I told her that I was not the person to be her care giver full-time (I never have been, and I never said I would -- this is what she has wanted from me for nearly 28 years, to be her personal assistant). I said no, and I was kicked out of the family. Of course, this is not how they see it. They see it this way: that I caused incredible shame on the family by saying I would divorce my husband for his infidelity. Moreover, I caused shame by not admitting that all of this was my fault -- all of it -- that I was to blame for my marriage failure and that I was to blame for all their heartache, pain and suffering. Generally, I have been the cog in their wheel for almost 30 years and they are glad to be rid of me.

Now, that may not all be true; but that is how it FEELS to me. It hurts to be told you are to not have contact with a family member. It hurts to be called names, and then told you are offensive. It hurts to be treated like this when all you have done is tried to be kind and nice. It is Persecution 101, and it is hard to handle. Then toss in the fact that my life is shredded apart, with only threads holding it together, and I have no way to provide for myself -- well -- you can see where I am right now. It sucks, and I don't like it. I am depressed, I am angry, and I am hurt. I want the pain to stop, and I want it all to end.

Yet, the Lord has not chosen to remove me from this trial. He has not ended my suffering nor has He provided a way out (directly). He has told me what to do, where to go; but He has not provided the source of income to get me there. There is no job waiting for me in Chicago. There is no job here in Phoenix. There is just more of the same crap, more of the same harsh, heavy, and horrible suffering. I am tired, and I want to go home. I want this to end, but I don't see any way out for me. I just see more of the same, more of the same old crap, and I don't think I can go through anymore crap. I need a way out now. I need to know there is hope.

Dear Lord,

I think I am at the end of my rope (finally). I know I have said that to you before, but I still trudged on. I really am at the end right now. I really feel as though I have had enough, and that I cannot take anymore. I need you to rescue me, to lift me out of this pit, and provide for me. I want to move away, to run away, to go anywhere else -- just to be free from this stress. Yet, I know that running away is not always the best choice. I believe it is your choice for me -- but how can I go without a job? How can I do anything without steady employment? How much longer must I wait for you to rescue me? How much longer must I wait? I ask in Jesus' Name for a way out, an open door, and point of rescue. Please, Lord, come and rescue me this day. In your Name I ask this, Amen. Thy will be done. Selah.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Another year has gone by, and it is hard to believe that there are only 30 days until Christmas! I cannot believe that this year is almost over. It has been a year of great blessing, and outpouring of God's Holy Spirit, and I have changed dramatically over these past several months. I wanted to wish everyone a blessed day, but also thought I would share some of my reasons to be thankful (or why I am thankful to God) today as well (always good to remind oneself of God's Marvelous Goodness).

As I look forward to the close of the year, I am reminded of how much my God loves me. I am reminded that He has befriended me, saved me, sanctified me, and making me ready for future glorification. I have been personally changed through the indwelling of His Precious Spirit, and I have come to know God as my first love, my friend, and my soul's companion. I am deeply devoted to Him, and I am endeavoring to do everything for His Name and His Glory. God has been so good to me, and I am blessed, truly blessed.

Although my life is not what I had hoped it would be on the outside (with my marriage, ongoing family struggles, being out of work, etc.); it is gloriously full and complete on the inside. I am at peace, and I have that inexpressible joy the Scriptures promise us. I am complete and whole, wholly devoted to God and to doing His Will above all else, and to seeking His Kingdom first (in all things). God is first mover in my life, and every cause thereafter is a direct result of His action. I do what He asks, what He says, and I am satisfied. I am joyous, I am hopeful, and I am content.

I thank God for the following blessings this year:
  • I thank Him for His presence in my life, for without it, I would be utterly lost.
  • I thank Him for His love which knows no bounds, and for which I am indebted for my eternal destination.
  • I thank Him for His provision, and for His protection, for without either, I would be filled with despair and gripped by fear.
  • I thank Him for His willingness to forgive me time and time again, for without His forgiveness, I would have no daily communion, no meditation, and no relationship with Him.
  • I thank Him for the many blessings He has showered upon me. Of these, I am particularly thankful:

    1. *My graduate school -- my program at Mercy College -- and for His provision of financial aid so I could attend there without fear or worry of cost.
        *My job at Macy's -- part time and very difficult at times -- yet completely provisional in the money it does generate (food, gas, miscellaneous expenses).
        *My Uncle's willingness to support me this past year (a small but desparately needed and completely undeserved gift of His Grace).
        *My son's willingness to be flexible in the face of great adversity and sorrow.
        *My counselors and friends who have been my champion and helped me see God's Hand in everything.
        *My family (my parents for their support) who have helped in so many ways that I can truly not even begin to estimate.
        *My church family who have been friend to my son, provided counsel to me, and who have given Grace to us during this past year.
        *Lastly, my online community of friends who have supported me, encouraged me, and given me advice when needed.
        Therefore, as I prepare to spend this holiday with my own family, I am filled with awe in the One who has seen to all these blessings this year. Despite not finding full-time work, and having to depend on friends and family, God has continued to provide for me each week and month. Although, I still am living in uncertainty as to my eventual lifestyle (single), I am content to remain where I am until the Lord directs otherwise. And, even though I don't know what tomorrow will bring to me, I am confident of this: My God is Good and His Goodness Reigns every day and in every way throughout our Universe. God is Good all the time, and we are blessed because of His Infinite Goodness.

        November 22, 2010

        His Perfect Timing

        I sit here today, trying to figure out what is what. I mean, I am trying to understand the significance of the past couple of days. First of all, I about killed myself working a four day shift. Secondly, just when I thought I was at the lowest point financially, the Lord brings me a gift of a refund check from my college financial aid package. This check amounts to about five months of mortgage payments, so it is a significant amount. Thirdly, I am overwhelmed by God's graciousness, and the way in which He has helped me understand His plans for my life. And, lastly, I am pondering the future and thinking "how can I NOT trust you, Lord?"

        Sigh, yet I find myself not trusting Him again. I find myself questioning His Integrity, and His Will, and thinking that once again, God doesn't really have it all together, kwim? It is like, He really doesn't control everything, so I am back to thinking, "well, this might happen or this may come to pass." Yet, God has said "it will be done." He has said, "My will be done," and that means that in no uncertain terms, God's will will come to pass. There is no if, buts or what's -- it is simply, done.

        Why do I do this? And, why do I not believe even after He has done everything for me? It is my human flesh, yes, this I know. Still, I don't want it to be this way. I want to believe. I want to have faith. I want to be steadfast, and wait for Him.

        Dear Lord,

        Today, you have done so much for me. I finished my Group 3 article review, and completed all my assignments (for my one class). I have until tomorrow to finish up my reading and assignments for my second class. I have to work tonight, but I am there just three hours, so my feet and back should be OK. I am doing well, yet, I still don't believe. Help my unbelief, please! I ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

        November 20, 2010

        Oh, My Aching Back!

        I am suffering mightly today. I worked three days already, and now I have to pull myself together to work another 8-hour shift today. I normally can do two back-to-back shifts, but I cannot do three or more. The third day is the killer, and yesterday I worked 12:45-9:15 p.m. It is such a long shift, still only 8-hours, but it spans the entire day, and I think that is why it is so hard to do (everyone complains when they get it). Oh well, at the least I will get a full paycheck this week. God is so Good to me.

        On another God-is-so-Good note, I received a check in the mail yesterday from Mercy College. Apparently, I didn't use all my financial aid, so they are required by law to disburse the funds back to the student. It was a nice chunk of change, and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I called the college to verify it was correct (they said yes), and then they gave me the option of keeping it or sending it back and paying down on my loan. They said most students keep it, to help them live on while attending school. I can see this -- it does make sense -- so I decided it was a gift from God, and deposited in my savings account. I will have to use some of this money for bills, but about half will stay in savings and will enable me to move out now. I am praising God for his provision. Moreover, since I will only take two classes in the spring, I will get the exact same amount sometime after the first of the year. Of course, this is all part of my low-interest loan, and I will have to pay this money back along with my tuition; but now that I am only working PT, and have not found a FT job, this money is truly a God-send. God is so Good to me.

        In addition to plumping my savings up, this check also will ensure that my son has a nice Christmas. Not that gift giving is high on our list, as it never has been a priority; but we have always tried to get our son one gift each year (preferrably the item he really wanted). This year, it is an IPod, but praise be to God, he has been working and now has enough money to buy that on his own. He and I would like IPhone's and since DH has been pressuring us to get our own account, now I will have the money to buy the phones and switch carriers. I didn't want to do it until I had steady income to pay the bill. So even if we get the phones, we might not turn them on until I feel confident that I can manage the service charge on my own (we are on a family plan right now, and me and DS use hardly any minutes -- but a family plan with AT&T will cost more for us, so I want to be sure I can swing it before we get the phones).

        This money would also enable me to fly to a city, should a job ask me to interview. I was worried about how I might swing that one. I didn't think I would have the money to go overnight. I also thought about paying off my Capital One bill, which I think is a good idea. This would give me credit access again, should I need it. I have had a CO card for about8 years, and have never been able to use it. It has carried the same balance, almost $750 since we got it. I would like it paid off, and then have the ability to use it should I need it in a pinch. Plus once the bill is lower, I can feasibly pay the bill off each month. I would like that and hope that it will work for me.

        Lastly, with the second installment of my loan coming to me after the first or the year, this means that I can get a laptop computer. I have needed one for work/travel for a long while, but of course, it was not a critical need. I would like to have one so that I can be up to date on my skills. I have found that employers expect you to have a laptop and Blackberry (or in our case, a MacBook and IPhone). They want your schedule to be integrated with mail, etc. and I am an old dinosaur who has been unable to do that for years (due to financial reasons). I see this as a possibility now. God is so Good to me.

        However, putting purchases aside, the main use of this money will be to ensure that we don't lose our house. We have been late twice (still late this month), and now we can pay November, and know for certain that December and January will be paid on time. Whew! I am not adverse to walking away from my home, whether through moving out or simply selling it as is -- but I would rather sell it and be done with it, then to lose it to the lender. My credit is perilously close to the bottom line, and I am trying so hard to boost it up. Selling my house is the right thing to do, and since our lender wants out in May, this is something we have to plan on doing.

        God is forever good. He is always doing Good things for us, and He always makes it Good -- even when we think or feel or sense that it is not. The reason it is always Good is because He is Good. If you have God within, then you have His Goodness. If you experience God -- then you are recipient to that Goodness. The essence that is God, His Good attribute is always ON -- never off/on, never hot or cold. No, God is always Good. I love that fact, and I love the fact that even when I feel pinky, like today, I know that God is Good and He desires Good for me. I rest in that fact, I abide in His Good Spirit, and I am lifted up and blessed with His Good charity. God gives liberally, and He loves us with an enduring and everlasting love. I love Him, and He loves me. Together, we share in His Goodness (He is, and I receive -- what a blessed union).

        I love You Lord
        and I lift my voice
        To worship You
        O my soul, rejoice!

        Take joy, my King
        in what you hear
        May it be a sweet, sweet sound
        in Your ear.

        November 19, 2010

        Ready Response

        There are five fire trucks sitting at my street (3 at the corner, 2 up by my house). The house on the corner must have had some kind of fire, though I didn't see any flame or even smoke. The firemen went in with tanks and masks, so something fishy was up. They also got their hoses and ladders out, which may have meant there was an attic fire. Anyway, I was surprized to see so many trucks come to this emergency. It helps that we have the station down the street, but I don't think there are five trucks with our local station. One of the other departments must have been dispatched as well, just incase they were needed.

        I like to see the firemen come because they remind me of God's ready response to our needs. When we are in an emergency, we pray and God sends His response team into our lives to support us, rescue us, comfort us, and keep us safe. God's ready response team consists of His Holy Spirit (who is always with us), and His Mighty Angels who do His work on earth. It also consists of people like me and you, the body of Christ, who respond with comfort, meals, shelter or just personal touch (holding someone's hand or giving them a hug). God uses all His resources to help us in our moment of crisis. And, like our local fire department, He sends in extras -- just incase the situation warrants it. He never shortchanges us or leaves us with too little support. If anything, we choose to not take all His support, we choose to handle things on our own. God provides for us in these moments, but we often choose to walk our own way, handle it as we think best. In the end, most of us, turn back to Him and tell Him just how much weneed Him and just how much we cannot handle the situation without Him.

        I know I have done this same thing. I have said, "No thanks, Lord -- I got it covered," when in reality, I didn't have anything covered at all. He offered me greatness, His Great Hand, and I rejected it, choosing instead to suffer on in silence, to drudge through the muck on my own. When I got so weighed down, I cried out, and He was still there, tools and resources in Hand, at the ready to rescue me from the fine mess I was in. He didn't judge me, He didn't accuse me of not taking His offer the first time. No, not at all; instead, He just hugged me and said "OK, let's get started." God is good this way. He knows we need Him and He patiently waits for us to come around to His way of thinking. He stands at the ready until we finally turn and say "I cannot do it on my own anymore." He knows us so well, and He knows that only He can solve our problems, only He can make a difference in our lives, and only He can turn sorrow and tears into laughter and joy. Yes, Heknows what He can do for us, but only if we allow Him to do it in our lives. Why are we so stubborn? Why are we so bullheaded? Why do we turn away from Him when He offers us the way out of the trials and sorrows we experience? Why -- simply because our nature wants its own way, contrary to the will of God. Our nature chooses to send us away from God. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that draws us back -- but we must allow Him to do so, we must listen to His soft voice, and then we must respond to His call. In doing so, we will receive the peace we seek, the comfort we need, and the resources we require. God is a God of Everything -- nothing is left out, nothing is incomplete. He does everything perfectly the first time around, and with His own Perfect Hand.

        Dear Lord,

        May we trust you this day, and may we receive your Perfect Hand upon our lives. You want to help us, you want to save us, you want to rescue us from the mess we have made. May we respond to your Spirit's call today, and receive His blessedness into our lives so that we can find peace, rest securely in your provision, and experience joy in our everyday lives. To God be the Glory forever and ever, Amen.

        November 18, 2010

        Some News

        Well, I survived Macy's One Day Sale Event yesterday. I worked from 7-11:30 p.m., and it was a zoo. We actually had customers in the store at 11:00 -- who'da thunk that one? I have to work tonight too, but normal closing hours, 6-9:15 p.m. Tomorrow, I work from 12:45-9:15 p.m., which is really a hideous shift, but oh well...money is money, and I need the money!

        I am sluggish today, slowly moving and getting about my day. I have my cello lesson at 2:15, and then work this evening. My son is working at church from 2-5 p.m., and then having dinner with my parents (I think). Oh, the plans do get complicated when we both work odd hours. But, thanking the Lord for His generous provision -- we are ever so greatful that His is God and that He is in control of the details of our lives. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

        I have gotten some job news, and at the least, I am better off knowing what will not be for us. I applied to Follett Corporation again. They are a higher education company based out of Illinois, and are located all over the USA and Canada. They manage college bookstores, so they have both the retail end and the corporate development end of the business. They always have lots of jobs posted, but I have never had any success getting through their screening process. I applied for three positions within Vanderbilt University, and then Volunteer State CC. These were 'training' positions which I thought would be a good way into this business. I was qualified, but I got emails back on all three, thanking me for my interest, but telling me they already had a better qualified candidate. I don't know if that is an internal hire or just someone local. Oh well, so Nashville is out.

        This leaves me with several unknowns, several jobs still in play:
        • I have decided that Target is not going to hire me -- I think for the same reason as Follett. They tend to promote from within, and their training programs want college grads or someone within their system.
        • The CC here in Phoenix has been a wall of silence. I have heard that it is nearly impossible to get hired within the MCCCD, and I think that after one year of trying (and 17 applications, and 2 interviews), I am going to look elsewhere. This means that I am still waiting to hear on Phoenix College, but now that we are close to a month from when I was told I would hear "definitively," I am thinking that this position is either filled, or that the college is not going to fill it due to budget concerns.
        • The position at the University of Chicago Press is the one I want more than anything. It is the one job I could see myself doing forever, and the one location where I would move in a heartbeat. This position is on the Hyde Park campus, and if you have ever been to the Museum's in Chicago, then you were right there -- the museums sit on the waterfront, the campus is just a couple blocks down the street. I have wanted to work here since I was a child, and often dreamed about it. I am qualified (as I have been for most of the jobs I applied for already), so this is up to the Lord. If the Lord chooses UCPress, then the Lord will make it be so. I can do nothing more than keep faith, remain true, and trust the Lord. It is His provision for my life, and I have done what He has asked of me, so I let the rest be. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

        Now, not wanting to be a "negative Nancy" here, but I honestly do not know of any other option for me. I have applied till I am 'blue in the face,' for both local and national work, and nothing has come to pass. I don't know where to go from here. I don't know how to get a job other than what I am doing, which is to allow the Holy Spirit of God to direct me and then obey Him (I edit my resume, I write a new cover letter, and I submit the application and materials). I cast my net aside the boat, and I wait for the Lord of Glory to deliver me a boat-load of fish (ok, just one big fish!) I stand up, I toss the net aside, and I trust that the God of Glory will fill my net with the fish of His choosing. I can do nothing else, nothing more. I can only rely on Him for His provision, and then wait (wait as in actively wait and not passively wait) for Him to do what He does best (to quote David from "Independence Day" -- "do your stuff, take em' down"). Yes, I am waiting for God to take down the walls that surround me (like Joshua and the walls of Jericho). Yes, there are these high walls, and they surround me. I need them broken down, I need them to be taken down, so I can walk on through. I can only do what God has called me to do, and that is to wait for Him to bring them down. I walk on, I march just like the Israelites did, and I wait for God to "do His stuff, to take em' down!"

        Only God can deliver me, only He can make my life into something. What I am today is a product of His handiwork. He fashioned me in my mother's womb, He raised me to new life when I was a young girl; and, He has consistently walked beside me every day, helping and guiding me and creating me into the person of His own choosing. Yes, God has been very Good to me, and His goodness exists, it permeates every aspect of my life, and it blesses me continually. His goodness flows from the mount, the very beginning of all things, and I stand in the flood, being washed and bathed in it. God is so very GOOD to me.

        Update: Noonish Today

        Well, I logged into the MCCCD system, and see that the posting for the position at Phoenix College shows that the candidate has been contacted. This is a change, though the posting doesn't show as hired or even second interview. The fact that they have contacted the candidate tells me that I have not been selected (Duh? I was not contacted by them, so be it.) I am not terribly disappointed, but see this as a sign from God. I had felt that the long time in between the second interview and this point wasn't boding well in my favor. It just seemed like there was too much time passing, and no update posted -- well, the writing was on the wall. Furthermore, the Lord and I discussed the issue with this job, the fact that there would be 6 months left and no certainty for the job being reposted. It seemed like a way to make some good income, but then I would be without work again. Moreover, given my situation at home, and the fact that I would need to move out and/or sell this house (in May/June), it wasn't a good thing to not have solid work under me. No, I see this as the Lord's hand, and that it means there is another job for me. I simply cast that net once again, and then wait for Him to deliver me the catch of my life -- the job of His choosing. Praise be to God, Always who Reigns, and Who Was, and Is, and Is to Come! Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

        November 17, 2010

        Walking Straight Up

        It is a cold and sunny (always sunny here in Phoenix) morning. I think the temperature is somewhere in the mid-40s. I haven't turned our furnace on yet, but will probably do so soon. I can usually wait until December, but the mornings are getting harder to take with the heavy cold air sitting on my face while I wake up. There is something about the cold, how it sinks down around you, that just makes you want to stay snuggled up under the covers. Once the furnace is on, then that chill is gone, and we are good to go. At least here in AZ, our mid-days get warm, so we can enjoy our day without fearing the cold.

        I am not a cold person, well actually, that is not correct. I am a cold person -- I am always cold. However, I like the cold better than the heat. You would think it would be the opposite since I tend to always get cold. Really, though, I am better suited to cold weather than hot. Here in AZ, our summers are so hot, and I find it difficult to moderate my temperature. I am freezing indoors with the air on, and then suffocating out of doors in the heat. I much prefer the cold, because at the least, I can bundle up. I can then strip layers if I get too warm. In the hot of AZ, you cannot strip down because nothing will actually defer the heat -- nothing at all.

        As I ponder my affinity for cold things, I am thinking more seriously about how I will tolerate a cold climate. I have been away from the cold for nearly 32 years. Yes, I have spent more years out of the frigid cold than in it. San Jose was cold though. It was a damp cold, and the winters were very wet and cold. Phoenix has very mild winters, but then you pay for that glory with the blazing heat of summer. I miss much of the more moderate climates, where you have cold and warm, a change of seasons and such. And weirdness aside, I actually do miss the snow. I loved the snow as a child, and I greatly miss walking in the snow. I know, I know -- shoveling the snow is a bear; yes this is true, but still there is something wonderful about snow.

        New thought...I have been back on the job hunt. I am still waiting patiently to hear back from Phoenix College, but until I do, I am being proactive and keeping my resume hot. I don't know if the delay with PC is normal. I'd like to think that it is, but then I am not really sure. I mean, it is going on four weeks now, and we are at the end of the month. I interviewed at the end of September, and then the end of October. Perhaps they will call me at the end of this month? Perhaps?

        Since I am just sitting here waiting, I have been submitting my resume to a number of other opportunities. I am still concentrating my efforts in three areas or special fields: retail, higher education, and IT. My preferred field is higher education, and I am not willing to set that aside yet. I can do retail, though it is my least preferred job now (and also the most difficult for me physically). IT is dicey simply becausse I have plenty of experience, but not always the exact kind the employer wants or I don't have CS education. It is a difficult field, even with all the years of my practical work experience.

        Yesterday, I applied to several more jobs. I am giving Follett a second go round. I did receive a response back on one job, and I am thankful for that email. Follett must use local HR departments, and I have found that some are more responsive than others. I applied to Nashville, TN for a job at Vanderbilt University. Not my first choice, but it would work. UT in Knoxville is where I would want to go, but Nashville seemed a good starting point.

        I also applied to Target Corporation again. Target has not contacted me at all, but I am still "under review" for a senior management position here in Phoenix. I am not sure if that is correct or if the database has just not been updated. This was an "executive in training" position which simply means a managerial program. I want to get into management, and I do have some supervisory experience. I cannot get a management position because I don't have RETAIL management experience. Therefore, I thought going through a training program would solve that problem. I applied to Fargo, ND -- yes, I know -- "are you crazy?" Actually, not. Fargo has a very good University in town, and it would work for us. I also thought that not a lot of people would be willing to go to Fargo, so that might be a draw for me.

        Last evening, after applying for some online teaching positions (some of the online schools will allow you to teach with a Bachelors, though most require a Masters), I found a job at the University of Chicago Press. Now, there is a company where I would love to work. Yes, indeed-y, I cannot think of a job I would like more than working for a major scholarly publishing company. The position was as a Manuscript Editor, and the discipline is Humanities (my field!) I spotted the first position, an Editor for their Science group, and that led me to the school website. That position was filled, so I searched and found this one. I am a perfect fit, if I do say so myself. The education required: a BA in English or related field (yep, got it); some Master's level work in English (yep, got that too); prior publishing experience (yep, got it); and technical editing experience (yep, got it). I have all the requirements and even the desired requirements. I have everything they are wanting for this position -- now if only they would contact me.

        It is in Hyde Park, which is in downtown Chicago. I am a bit hesitant working downtown, but I know so many people who have done it/do it, and it is no big deal. Most people who work in major cities in the Midwest or Northeast do this -- they commute in by train, so you just get used to it. The job itself is my dream job. The location is perfect. The only negative is that it is in IL, but I don't consider that a negative really. This is a major Press, and it would be a feather in my cap to work for them. I mean, this is a job I could do for my entire career and not get tired of it. This is something I want to do. The key is -- is this what the Lord wants me to do? I am almost afraid to ask for fear He will say, "It is a good job, Carol -- but not the one I want for you." Oh drats, Lord. He hasn't said that yet, and I haven't really asked Him directly. Ok, not true -- I have asked, and He has agreed with me that this job is perfect, and that it is within His will. Will it come to pass? That is an unknown, afterall the HR people all have free will, and they can say no to my resume just as quickly as they can say yes.

        I am learning this lesson, you know, that even if something is the Lord's will, it doesn't necessarily mean it will happen. We like to say, "Lord willing," as if that means if God says "Yes" then it will be a Yes. The problem is that many times God has said "Yes" to me, and I didn't get the thing at all. I got a big fat NO from the person who controlled the position or thing. God may say "Yes" but that doesn't always mean it is a "done deal." Instead, it simply means "Yes, go ahead and think that way" or "Go ahead and apply." God is giving us His permission to walk a certain way, to go a certain way. It might come to pass, the thing I mean, or it might not; but, God is telling us it is OK to walk in that direction.

        This is what the writer of Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT means when he says:

        Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
        do not depend on your own understanding.
        Seek his will in all you do,
        and he will show you which path to take.


        If we trust in the Lord with all our heart (our mind), then He will show us which path to take. He will guide us in the direction of His choosing. It doesn't mean that He will give us the "thing" we ask (sometimes it does); but rather that He will tell us it is OK to walk down that path. This is what I have learned through my experience in trusting the Lord these last 10-12 months. Often, I the path I have taken has led me to certain things, certain opportunities. I believe that they are "yea and nay," meaning that they are either going to happen or they are not going to happen. I have been mightily dissapointed in this outcome, believing hard that something will come to pass, only to find that it didn't. I blamed God initially, then I blamed myself (I didn't believe ENOUGH, I wasn't good ENOUGH, and so on). Works and not Grace, you know. I still struggle with this "walking down the path" business. It seems so obvious at times, yet I get befuddled by it. In my view, God should just say "Go here, Carol," and then arrange everything for me so that I can go where He is pointing me to go. That would be SWEET. My God, GREAT AS HE IS, doesn't do that for me. No, rather, He tells me to go a particular place, and then leaves me dangling, waiting patiently, and sitting around looking for the bus to arrive. I sit at the stop, looking for the RED SEA TO PART, but it doesn't come, there is no bus to pick me up, no flash of lightening to say "IT IS DONE!" (in my best De Mille God-like voice). No, I sit there and wait, and nothing happens.

        I think I have finally figured out this God-thing. Yes, I know, "be careful, Carol." Yes, you are correct. Whenever I say that I have anything about God figured out, I am proved wrong, I see the error of my way. I just mean that I think I have this "Go" thing straight now. You see, when God tells us to Go someplace, it means literally and figuratively that we are to "go" or "think about going -- consider going -- ponder going." Often, we literally go there too, but sometimes (as in my case), it is all about the considering or pondering aspect of going. I am to think it over, consider the cost, check it out, see what is what; generally do the due diligence part of going wherever the Lord has directed. I have done this now for several years. I have pondered going to several places, and I have checked them all out. I haven't physically left Phoenix yet. I have mentally left Phoenix, I have mentally pictured living in another place. I have counted the cost (added it all up), and I am better equipped to know what it will take to live in such a place. But, I haven't physically moved anywhere.

        In keeping with the spirit of Proverbs, this is what I have done. I have trusted the Lord in His directive for me to Go to Northbrook, IL. For a time, I thought that meant the city of Northbrook. Now, I understand it is the "land of Northbrook" (like the land of Canaan). The 'land of' means the entire area of North Chicago. This incorporates a number of small suburbs that sit to the north of the city. Therefore, Evanston is just as good as Northbook. The same is true of Lincoln Park -- they are all in the "right" location for me. Some places are better suited, like Evanston is a bit less expensive than Lincoln Park -- so perhaps a better location financially. It is also on the subway line, a direct route into the city, so perhaps a better commute. The 'land of North Chicago' is where I am to go -- it may end up Northbrook itself, but more than likely it will be in the general vicinity of the northern shore.

        I have been stuck on how to get to North Chicago for a while now. I have applied to about 20 jobs in North Chicago, and I didn't get one nibble. You would think that this would scream at me "mistake, mistake -- you are going the wrong way;" but it didn't. No, I just assumed that like here in Phoenix, the job market in Chicago is just as dicey. It will be the 'right job at the right time' and until then, I have to keep casting my net, and trusting the Lord. The Lord will tell me where to cast out my net, where to toss it, and He will then yeild up the "right fish." I know this is true, so even if it takes a while, the Lord will enable me, provide for me, and prepare me to go where He has directed.

        So then, this is what I know today. I have considered the following places (where the Lord has shown me or told me to go):
        • New Hampshire (beginning of 2009)
        • Austin, Texas (2010, most recently)
        • North Chicago, IL (all of 2010)
        • Chattanooga, TN (most of 2009)
        • Fargo, ND (recently 2010)
        • Seattle, WA (recently 2010)
        • North Carolina (end of 2009)
        • Maryland (middle of 2009)

        I have considered these places. I have done the due diligence, checked them out, and thoroughly pondered what it would be like to live in these cities or states. Most of them, I decided were not "right" for me or my son. Most of them, were useful to help me even consider moving from Phoenix (so not potential destinations, but training locations to get me to consider leaving my family -- parents and such.) Some of these places though have stayed with me. Some of these places have not left me in a long time. Chicago is one of them. Partly this is because I know that the Lord has told me to settle some place near a major airport, and O'Hare is about as major as you can get. More so, I tend to have happy memories of my life in Chicago, so I am more willing to relocate there. I also "know it" a little bit. I am not adventurous and willing to go someplace unknown (I came to Phoenix after having visited just one or twice). I don't like to go to unknown places, and the Lord knows this about me. He has given me a lot of time to process moving, to actually envision myself moving. I needed this time. I needed to let go of a lot of things that were holding me back, and a lot of emotions that were keeping me from walking on in the Lord.

        Of course, I never expected to be in the position I am in now. I never expected to do this on my own as a divorced or separated woman. No, not at all. I never expected that I would be contemplating moving so far away now. I just didn't understand how the events of my life would prepare me for this move. I didn't understand how the sorrow and hurt would make me into a strong woman, a capable woman, a woman who could actually consider packing up her things and moving 1000 miles from home.

        All of this will depend on the Lord's provision of a job. Perhaps this position will open up for me, and perhaps it will be the reason I move to Chicago. Perhaps it is all in His grand plan. Lord willing, He will provide a good job for me. It is up to Him to provide it. It is up to me to walk on, to walk straight up, which simply means to walk aright or to walk right (as in not off-kilter). God has enabled me to walk upright, to be straight, to be ready to go where He sends me. Therefore, I can no longer sit at the bus stop and wait for the bus to come. No, I must stand up and walk on. I must walk down the path that He has said is good to walk down. This path is good to walk down, so I will walk on. The Lord may open this door, He may impress upon the HR folks that they should seriously consider my resume or He may just have me keep on walking down this road until another "more perfectly suited" position opens up. I cannot be dissapointed if this one doesn't open up, I can only know that I am walking on the right path, and I am doing what God has called me to do. He is responsible for all the rest, everything else. I am responsible to do as His Spirit leads, and to trust that He knows what is best. He really does have it all figured out. My understanding is flawed, and my understanding is limited and fixed. God is ETERNAL AND ALL-SEEING, ALL-KNOWING, AND ALL-PRESENT. He can see beyond this job to how it might work for me, or if I will cause issues or problems down the road. He will not take me to Chicago and maroon me there. No, He will not take me until He has it all organized and planned out. God is a God who never does anything shortsighted.

        Dear Lord,

        I am trusting you for this job opportunity. I know that you know everything about this job, and know what is needed to be considered for this job. I can do nothing but wait (trust in your provision). You are good to me, and you know exactly what I need to do to be prepared to do this, to move away from my family. I will wait (trust you), and I will be patient.

        For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

        I am trusting you, Lord, and I am believing your Word. In Jesus' Name, I will wait and be patient for your hand of deliverance, and for your mighty provision of a job and a hopeful future.

        November 14, 2010

        Ninevah

        I just woke up from a very short nap. I was reading my homework, Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and I was overcome with sleepiness. I barely made it to the next poem, "Kubla Khan," which happens to be amongst my favorite poems. I closed my eyes just for a moment, and wham, an hour passes by. I don't remember anything other than I woke up thinking I had better get going, and start my study questions (I have six each week). I took a few moments (on my way to the office) for a snack: some Lays and Diet Coke (hey, a girl needs some salt and diet to get her engine revved up -- especially for writing about Coleridge!)

        As I sat down at my computer, I briefly checked my emails. Then I went to Internet Explorer and punched in my blog. I am not sure why, just that I felt the Holy Spirit pointing me in that direction. I think it was in response to something I said to the Lord, and I think it was His answer to me. Anyway, here I am, and this is what I thought I would say (for what it is worth, LOL!)

        I have written a couple posts about Ninevah and Jonah, the OT Prophet. You are familiar with the story, that is for certain, as it is one of the children's stories that gets told every year in Sunday School. I have termed my rebellion and disobedience, NINEVAH, because that is pretty much what it represents to me. I have spent the majority of my life running from Ninevah, my Ninevah, the Ninevah God ordained for me to visit. I chose to go my own way, to run away from Him, and in doing so, I have made a sorry mess of things. I have made decisions that I thought were in my best interest when in reality they were the exact opposite. I have found myself stranded in places where the Lord never intended me to be, and I have sat here waiting for Him to rescue me, to pick me up, and to turn me around. The Lord chose, instead, to teach me and to instruct me so that instead of waiting for Him to rescue me, I simply picked myself up and turned myself around, and I walked back out of the mess I made, and back towards His Ninevah. Now, God did indeed rescue me, this is clearly certain. He saved me, and He gave me His Grace to sustain myself through some pretty awful and perilous times. He taught me how to be patient, and how to wait for His Spirit. He taught me how to listen for "His still small voice," so that I wouldn't miss His leading again. And most of all, He taught me to trust Him, to believe in Him, and to rely on Him for my every need. I haven't been happy in this foreign place, and I have been utterly convicted about being here -- after all -- it was my fault, it was by my hand, and of my doing that I found myself right in this place.

        Yes, 'it takes two to tango' as that funny saying goes, but still I ran away from God, and away from the message of His Gospel, and right into this place. I turned my heart away, and I turned my head and I walked from His Blessed Grace into a place where I found no friends, no home, and no real love. I lived in this place, making the best of things for so long, and then one day something happened: the door sprung open, the chain-latch released, and I found myself standing outside the door. I found myself standing there, free and able to move about. I was finally able to walk and walk and walk. So I walked on, and I walked on, and I walked some more. I met someone wonderful along the way, someone who helped me. I met another wonderful person who gave me good advice. I met some more people who surrounded me with their love, and gave me support and encouragement. I felt my spirit lift, and my thoughts began to refocus. I found my voice again, I found out I could say "no thank you," and not fear retribution. I found that through all my years of suffering, through all the ordeal, and through all the sorrow -- I was a strong, a vital, and a very independent woman.

        I also learned that my independence could no longer separate me from God. That maneuver is what got me into trouble in the first place, so this time, with a contrite heart and a broken spirit, I bent my knee and submitted my heart to His Authority. I gave everything over to Him as Lord and King, and I received Hope, Grace, Mercy, and Joy -- everlasting Joy and Peace -- in return. I found my purpose and the reason why God called me to Ninevah in the first place. I reconnected with my mission, and I came to be excited about it. I came to see it with new eyes, with a new sense of resolve -- I can do this now, I can go here, Lord. "Yes, my Child," the voice came, "Yes, you can."

        My Ninevah is far away from where I live now, and it is a place where I will go when the time is right. I am not to go now; no, not at all, I am to be "ready" to go. I can do this too, Lord. I can be ready to go. "Yes, my Child, that is my plan for you."

        As I look over all these years, I see such sorrow, such pain, such heartache. Yet, today, I stand (or sit here as I am sitting now) and can say that I have inexpressible joy in my heart, and such a deep sense of contentment in my soul. I am loved. I am whole. I am happy (in the Lord), and I am completely in love with the One who loved me first. I am Good because God has said so. I am Good because He is Good and He only creates Good things. I love His Goodness, and I love the way His Goodness flows from His throne of Grace. I can go to Him and receive His Goodness. I can sit and listen to the birds and experience that same Goodness. I can look at the sunset or the ocean waves and know for certain the my God is Good. Everything is Good because God is Good.

        My Ninevah is over there, on the horizon. It is a literal place for me, a place where I will serve the Lord in missions some day. Until then, I am to be busy getting myself prepared to go. I have a lot to do, a major to-do list, just as God gave to Noah. Thankfully, I don't have to build an Ark, but I am building a life that is pleasing to God, a life that will sustain me through the coming Flood. I am being made ready and fit for Glory. I am being made ready and fit to be apart of the great Harvest of mankind. I am being made ready, and my to-do list needs doing. I am ready to start working on my list, checking things off, and whittling it down until there is just one item left; and that one item will say:

        GO TO NINEVAH, DEAR ONE. YOU ARE READY, SO GO!

        More Thoughts on the Matter

        Church was great, and I feel good too. DS is still there, setting up for an event tonight. I am eating Tacos, and reading emails. DH's mother called, and she is in need of some help, so he is going to go over there shortly. I have loads of school work today (two papers to write) and then have to get DS to his music teacher's home at 2 pm for a workshop.

        We still don't know if my husband's parents will go to Turlock, CA (the Covenant Church has an assisted living facility there) or not. They have wanted to go, but have been prevented due to cost. Now that they are in more need, they are talking about it again. Last I heard, they were waiting for confirmation on whether they could go, and then if so, they would move either this month or next. Given my MIL's health and my FIL's debilitated condition, I am not sure whether assisted living is even going to work for them. Perhaps they need something more full-time, like nursing care. I am sure my MIL would not want to go to nursing care -- but -- if she cannot care for them at all, then I think that is the next step. It is very hard to discuss the situation, and it is even harder to try and make any sense of what is going on. This turn of events has been coming since June, and it seems to be crashing down faster each week. I know this happens with a lot of parents; one falls or gets ill, and then within months they are either dead or confined to a nursing home. It seems like it only takes one little thing, and then WHAM! it is over.

        My parents are in a similar situation, though right now both are fairly healthly. My mother's BP is going up, and she is uncertain as to the cause. Tomorrow should offer some insight and a diagnosis, hopefully. My Dad's condition is tentative at best. Though he is well, he is physically disabled, and becoming more so each day. My Mom has to care for him or will do so, and her health is vitally important. My Dad cannot physically care for my Mother, so Mom has to stay well. Oh the trials of old age -- I am not looking forward to it at all (for myself, I mean).

        As I ponder these changes, this leaves me wondering what God has in store for me. I sat in church thinking about my situation, and thinking about how I got to be where I am today. The past is the past, and I am done reliving it -- I have learned from it, and taken wisdom so that I don't make the same mistakes twice. However, I cannot completely be free from the past simply for the reason that it is part of my collective history. I have memories, I have feelings, and I have thoughts -- all about past events. So no matter how much I try to not think about these things, I know I will. What I can do, is not allow the past to dominate my thoughts, and color my responses or direct my actions. I can use the past for information, but I must trust the present and future to the One who knows it best. My future hope is in Jesus Christ, and it is in His Name that I place my faith. He knows me best, He knows what is to be, and He knows where He wants to take me. I am resting in Him alone.

        I spent some time this morning thinking about yesterday, my thoughts and my feelings, and then working out the details of my life -- trying to piece them all together. It helped greatly, and I feel more confident. I think Satan tries to get us to focus on the pieces instead of the BIG PICTURE God is creating. In doing so, we lose our perspective and we start to see the individual pieces as being out of place or not fitting in. It is only when we step back and look at the tapestry of our life, even with parts missing, can we see where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. This is what I did, and I now can see my life in better detail. I still don't have all the answers, and I still am uncertain what will be, but I feel so much more comfortable with the process. And, as our Pastor preached on the subject -- God is all about the process of our life. God loves us and has plans for us, and these plans unfold through the process of events we experience. This is how we come to be sanctified, and how we mature in Christ. The process then is very important to Him. We like the events in our life, the big items, the touch stones we can hold. God cares about those too, but it is the process, the nitty gritty of the grind where we learn to experience God and share in His suffering and His peace.

        This then is what I know today:
        • God has a plan for my life.
        • God knows what is best for me today and tomorrow (and on into the future).
        • God's will is paramount to everything I do, so that is my focus -- on doing His will.
        • Nothing matters but His will, and therefore, everything revolves around it.
        • The littles in life, those nasty pesky things will be done -- but it is the BIGGIES of God's will that are our life's focus and endeavor.
        • I know that if I focus on God's will, then it will be done.
        • Moreover, I know that when I focus on His will, then I find satisfaction, contentment, purpose, acceptance, and joy. I am home in the middle of God's will.

        For me, this works out this way. Right now, my goals are to find a full-time job. I believe that this job will come from Phoenix College. I have to be patient and wait this out -- knowing that they are notorious for taking a very long time to do anything. This delay is, therefore, normal.

        Secondly, I am to focus on my MA courses and my graduation date of May 2012. This is my D-Day, the day I will move from the first level of graduate study to the second. I am set now on my path, having carefully evaluated and screened all options. I am to study Medieval/Renassiance Studies as part of my PhD in English. Of the Universities offering that discipline, only two are doable: ASU (here in AZ) and UT in Knoxville, TN. Either will work, so as for now, I am saying I will study this discipline, and leave which school to the Lord. He has to provide a research fellowship for me, so it is best left in His capable hands.

        Thirdly, I am committed to teaching college. I have waffled on working in a corporate setting, but these jobs simply are not coming to pass. I will wait out the community college, and once I have my MA, begin teaching English. Then once I have my PhD, I will seek full-time faculty work at a teaching university. This is God's business, so I will be content to keep the plan, and let Him determine the details.

        Lastly, I know that my end goal is to get to Chicago, IL. This is the only place the Lord has consistently told me I am to go -- not now -- but for ministry. I know this, and I have accepted this, so now I am simply letting it go. God knows how to get me there, and He knows what will be, so I will trust Him to provide whatever opportunity is needed for me to get there.

        And, as far as my son goes and his college plan -- he is content to stay here and go to the community college for a couple semesters. He would like to transfer or go to UT most of all, but he would also go to Columbia College in Chicago too. I think either school would be good, so for now, our focus is on starting general ed classes, and then letting God open doors that would provide scholarship or other financial assistance at one of these schools. If all else, he can finish at either Southwestern College (our local Baptist school) or ASU or UA. The latter two have his program, and are reasonably priced. He can do it, I know he can, and with God's leading -- he will go to the school of the Lord's choosing.

        To sum up then, this is my decision:

        • Wait on Phoenix College. Until then, work the schedule given to me by Macy's.
        • Move to a townhouse near our present home (after January). I went over and looked at it, and it is nice. The rent is good. The place will remain vacant -- it has been vacant for a year because it is on the corner and not the best location within the park. This works for us -- only one neighbor so my son can still play his guitars and piano.
        • Work until God opens the door to UT. This means finishing my MA, and applying sometime in December 2011. Lord willing, I will get some scholarship or fellowship to offset cost, and a teaching position so I can live.
        • DS goes to the CC until I graduate, so that is 2 semesters (30 units of general ed). He then transfers in to UT as a sophmore and finishes his BA a little before I do. If he wants a MA, he can do that and we move to Chicago after our graduation.

        In the meantime, we work, we study, and we continue to trust the Lord. We basically do the work, we put our faith into action, so to speak. We know the plans the Lord has, and we do what He has provided for us to do. When the time comes, we move. We will be prepared, we will be ready, and everything will be set for us. We don't sit around undecided and uncertain of His will; no, not at all. Instead, we take confidence in Him, in His plans, and in His will, and we walk on. We press on, we do the "due diligence" and we accomplish the tasks He has assigned to us. It is all done in a very orderly fashion, with God as King and Authority, and with us as His loyal servants. It is very orderly because God is a God of Order and not chaos.

        This is what I have needed to hear, what I have wanted to know; but although God was saying it I didn't get it, I didn't understand Him. Now I do, and it makes total sense. I get it. I understand, and I am on board with His plans and provision. God is so Good to me.

        God Does Give Encouragement

        Last night, I was depressed. I was really depressed. I spent the day taking care of Ike, my 8 month old cat. He had been neutered in the am (and is doing just fine, BTW). After dinner, I sat alone in the living room, and was filled with such self-doubt. I cannot express just how awful I felt. It was as if there was nothing I could do to shake myself out of this deep dark funk. My son came into the room around 8 and stayed with me. He was concerned, I think, and he took notice that I was very depressed. I am not usually that depressed, and when I have been that way in the past, I have tried really hard to cover it up (for my son's sake). You know, slap on a happy face and try and look like everything is OK. Nothing worked last night, so I sunk into despair and then started to fall asleep (which is what I do normally). He came in and started talking to me and gave me such encouragement. It is hard to believe that God would use my 17yo to encourage me -- but He did. This was not the first time, either. Once before my son gave me sound advice, the advice normally given by an adult or very mature believer. Once before God used my son to come to my rescue and give me words that would soften and soothe my heart. God is so Good to me.

        This morning I took my son over to church (just got back) so he could do setup for our morning services. I told him how much his words helped me, and what I had determined to be the underlying issue for me. You see, in the night, the Lord spoke conviction into my mind. I don't know how He does that, but He does it with me. It is like I have this conversation with the Lord. I hear His voice, and I ask Him something or He says something. Anyway, we have this little conversation somewhere in between being fully asleep and fully awake. It is in this quasi-weird dream state that the Lord speaks with me. He just says something and I get it. I understand whatever it is that I have done, and then I confess, I repent or I admit I was wrong (sometimes it is just admitting that I wanted my way and not His). I know it sounds very "oracle-like" but it is not that way. I wake up later and remember what I received as testimony, and then I meditate on it, ask the Lord more about it, and finally feel like I get the point of the message. I get it.

        This is what happened to me last night, and this morning I am blogging about it. I will try and make sense here, and perhaps it will help me to grasp the deeper significance of what the Lord is doing in my life (the Lord knows I need all the help I can get, so maybe this will do it for me -- to write it out, kwim?) Anyway, my conversation with my son last night prompted this bit of new understanding from the Lord, and these two things are tied together, so I will explain.

        First off, the Lord has given me directive to GO several places. I am like Jonah in that regard. The Lord told Jonah to go to Ninevah and he didn't go. He got swallowed by a whale, and then after thinking it over for three days, decided he would go where the Lord directed. The Lord has given me directive to go several places over the last few years. My problem is that I think the Lord should only send us one place and not many, especially when you actually don't go at all. This is what I mean:

        • the Lord has told me to go to Northbrook, IL. I know this, I know it in my heart and soul. I cannot go there because I don't have the means to go there now.
        • the Lord has told me to go to Austin, Texas. This is another place we have discussed several times. There is a good graduate school there, and potential work. I have not gone because I don't have confirmation on a job (even though I have applied to several).
        • the Lord has told me to go to Knoxville, Tennessee. Again, same as above. This is a place with a good school, but no real work.
        I have discussed these places with the Lord, looked them over well on the Internet, acquainted myself with maps and where things are located. I have looked at rental homes and purchased homes, schools, shops, etc. I feel like I could go to any of these places and fit right in. I would be like a local who knows the ins and outs of the town.

        Then there is Phoenix, where I live now, and the job I am waiting to hear back on (Phoenix College). What about this job? What about my parents, who are aging and need assistance?

        I waffle and weave back and forth, thinking these places over, thinking that there can only be one right place to go. But...I cannot go yet. I cannot move. I am just left thinking about them, and the time seems to be slipping by (with my son's impending college only nine months away). Why am I not moving? Why am I not going where the Lord tells me to go?

        In my dream-like Word from the Lord, the reason was two fold: one, I am not going where He has said to go; and two, I am not trusting Him. Ok, I get the first part -- I am not going anywhere. I get that one, I cry about that one, I pray about that one -- you'd think the Lord would be so tired of hearing me whine about it (I am). The second part, well, I am sure I don't trust Him enough. That is always going to be true, and that is something I work on daily.

        I asked the Lord for help today, for help in understanding what I am doing or not doing in relation to His Word to me. This is what came back: you are not going where I send you, and you are not trusting me to send you there (my paraphrase). Yes, this is truth. I cannot go when I am not prepared to go; and I don't believe that the Lord will send me at all.

        You see, the issue is this: I get the first part, that is just common sense. I need materials to go anywhere else -- a car, a house, a job, etc. That is really a no-brainer for anyone. The second part is the bigger issue for me. I believe God can send me any of these places, and I believe He is able to prepare and provide for me. I simply don't believe that He will do it. It is a matter of His will, and whether or not He is willing to send me. It is a works-type situation, in that I believe I am not worthy to go, that I am not good enough to go, and that really He won't want me to go once He sees how awful I am.

        Grace, Dear Sister...remember Grace. Yes, this is the crux of everything. I cannot go without God's Grace, and I cannot believe in God without that same Grace working through me. It is a matter of Grace, it is a matter of believing and trusting and relying on the Lord for who He Is and not who I am. He doesn't need me, but He wants me. He doesn't have to do anything at all, but He wants to do it. He doesn't rely on my abilities, but He uses them. It is all about Him and about accomplishing His will for my life. I am all about me and what I can and cannot do. God says, "Go where I send you, and leave the rest to me." I say, "Lord, I cannot go because I don't have the tools, the requirements, the things I need to go." The Lord didn't tell me to go and get these things. He didn't say, "Go find these things and then get on your way;" no, rather He said, "Go." God is responsible for the going part, for the providing part, and for the entire moving process. I simply am to believe that He is telling me to go, and trusting that He will provide the necessities for me to go. It is a matter of faith, active faith that says "I believe you can and you will because you are God." Il fineto. The end. There is nothing more. God is God and He can do what He says He can do. No, God is God and He will do what He says He will do. Yes, this is truth. This is the truth, and this is the message of encouragement my son shared with me. "Believe what God tells you, Mom." Yes, DJ, I will believe what God is telling me to do. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

        November 13, 2010

        Interesting Stuff

        I just checked on Ike, and he is doing just fine. He found a dark, quiet spot under the bed, and is resting comfortably. I laid down on the floor, and he came over and laid next to me. He is the sweetest cat, and he loves to be petted. He just laid there while I stroked his head, and told him that he would feel better tomorrow. I am thankful that this is over. He has been neutered properly (my fears stem from Gus' poor job which left him injured and never quite right). Ike is OK, and he will be OK in a couple days. I am relieved, and I am happy that this will be the last cat I will have to have altered.

        The rest of my day has been so-so. I have pretty much sat on the sofa and watched TV all day. I don't know, I guess I just didn't feel like doing much of anything. I have school work to complete, quite a bit, but I am tired and out of sorts. I am struggling to understand what is going on right now, and I am trying very hard to keep everything in order.

        My Mom told me that she had an "episode" yesterday. This usually means a "spell" of some sort. That's the old fashioned way of saying that something happened yesterday, and she wasn't at all well. She had gone to have her hair done, and her stylist commented that she looked very pale. She then proceeded to almost faint, and today, she said she just feels "off." We checked her blood pressure and it was higher than normal. She is on medication, but she tends to have high BP when she gets under stress. She is stressed of course. I have dropped hints that I might have to move away, and I think this in combination with my Dad's poor health has added extra pressure on her. She is worried about their finances (so is my Dad), and they are in a tentative position right now. I simply think my announcement that I would have to move away was too much for her. I am not sure -- it might have simply been her heart or other unrelated health condition. Nevertheless, I feel guilty about it, and I am now wondering if I am at fault.

        God has been distant. I hate to admit it, but I have not had a real clear reading on anything in a very long while. I mean I feel like I am in this fog, and that what was once clear, is now just a muddled mess. I don't know how this happened, and I don't know what I did -- but I did it, of that I am sure. I did something, and here I sit in this awful place, not knowing what to do, and not wanting to do anything for fear I will mess things up all the more.

        The funny thing is this: I really feel as though I haven't done anything at all. I mean -- nothing, nada, zip. I feel like the past twelve months have been a period of standing still. I haven't made one move towards independence at all. I have a PT job (as of July), and I do have my car. I have made progress with college for my son, and I am doing Ok in my courses. However, I still live in my home, with my husband, and I complain every day about the environment. I want this to be over, but I don't do anything to make that happen. I am sitting here waiting for him -- AGAIN! This is what I did earlier in the year, I sat and waited for him to leave. He didn't. He has not made one move towards leaving, yet he clearly is not interested in any marital relationship with me. I think he wants a roommate who will pay half the bills. He asks me all the time about my money situation, like "when will you get paid?" That is it -- that is our relationship, purely fraternal, and then not even very familial.

        I have asked the Lord again and again what is happening, why this is so, and what I need to do. His reply is always to trust Him, which I do -- but nothing ever changes. I went back through my blog tonight and re-read some older posts. I think I have stop moving forward, and stopped doing everything again. I think I am just waiting around for something or someone to rescue me. Why do I do this all the time? Why do I just wait to be rescued?

        Dear Lord,

        No one is coming to save me, not from this life, not from these circumstances. I guess it is up to me to make the change, up to me to do something about it. I don't know what to do. You have shown me jobs, you have shown me houses, you have told me what to do -- but I was waiting for you to alter time, move things around, and make such and such happen. I don't get what I am to do now. Am I to wait for you to do this, to rescue me or am I to walk out and boldly start fighting this battle? Tell me please Lord so I can do what you ask. In Jesus' Name, help me this day. Amen.

        November 12, 2010

        Options

        So it's now 10:11 p.m. and I am doing OK. I was pretty depressed earlier, but I had a better afternoon and now things seems more positive. I had a good afternoon, ending with a good chamber session (hooray!) and pizza dinner with my parents. It was a nice evening, and then home here for coffee and Star Trek (the new movie on EPIXHD). I am now back at the computer, checking email, and thinking about tomorrow. I have to take Ike to the Nip and Snip Clinic at Petco tomorrow. It is that time, and while I don't like my kitties to suffer any pain, this is one of those things that just has to be done.

        I've been sitting in the living room, watching Star Trek, and trying not too hard to think about my situation. I realize that I am in a tough spot right now, and that I don't have a lot of options open to me. My Mom told me tonight that she read or heard reported that the worst city for jobs is Phoenix, and that we have the most foreclosures in the nation. Argh! Just the info I didn't need to hear -- not now! If anything, it served to confirm the truth to me -- right now Phoenix is not the best place to live without a job.

        As I think about my options, this is what I know today:
        • I have applied to over 50 jobs, most located in Phoenix but about 10 located in other states.
        • I have had three interviews total; 2 went no where, 1 got me hired at Macy's, and 1 went to second interview level.
        • I have one PT job only, and that is with Macy's. I cannot live on FT Macy's so I can only take what I can as far as hours and make the most of this job. It is temporary at best.
        • Phoenix College has not offered any job to me, even though the President said the decision would be made the following week (Nov 1). Yes, it is only Nov. 12, so it has not been that long a delay, but long enough to make me start to wonder what is going on with this job.
        • I have applied to a number of companies locally, from retail to IT, and everything in between. Right now, I have retail work and have come close to an admin position in higher education. I have not gotten anywhere with IT, which seems a closed door to me.

        I am concentrating my job search on the following cities only: Phoenix (of course), Austin (TX), Chicago (IL), and Knoxville (TN). My choices reflect potential graduate schools that offer programs in my field, English Literature. This would include ASU (here in Tempe), the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Regent University (online hybrid). I have also looked at jobs in North Carolina where my brother recently moved.

        The companies I have concentrated on are Apple Computer, Follett Corporation, and local community colleges (and Universities). I have applied at other companies, high tech and others, but they generated no response at all. Of these top companies, these are the positions I have applied for so far:

        • Technical Writer
        • Technical Support (various)
        • Retail (various)
        • Admin (various)

        My skills are in IT, Admin, and now retail -- I feel like I am well-represented, but yet, I have made no headway. This makes me wonder if I am looking in the wrong place, looking for the wrong kind of job, or simply looking for a job that is not what the Lord has in mind for me.

        My preference is to work in any job that will provide enough income for me. This can be in any field, so long as I am able to support myself. I will make it through graduate school because the Lord has determined this path for me. It is up to Him to provide the school and the education (and fees) so I am not even concerned about how I will get my PhD. More to the point, my greatest concern is over the job itself. How do I go from being employed PT to FT, and where do I go to find any job that will provide enough money for me and my son to live on?

        God knows my needs, and He has everything under control. I am confident that there is a job for me -- I just wonder if I am looking in the right place? Perhaps I am looking for the obvious and not the unusual, which seems to be God's preference. Often he overlooks the obvious choice, the easy choice, in favor of doing something only He can do. Perhaps this is what He is doing in my life, bringing a job that only He can bring to me? I hope so. I hope this is the case. Please Lord let this be the case!

        I Cannot Go On

        Today has been incredibly difficult. First off, I am struggling just to keep my head above water, and I am feeling overwhelmed by my circumstances. I don't know why, all of a sudden, this has happened, but I am as undone as I possibly can be. I mean, throughout the past year, God has held me steady, keeping me from being swept out to sea; and yet, today I feel as though I am lost and set adrift admist the turmoil of turbulent waters. What have I done? What can I do? Where do I go from here?

        Our house is in perilous condition. We have been late on our payments too many times this year, and are once again, sitting here without the money to pay the mortgage. Our lender is a person, and he is generally disagreeable and unpleasant. I have had several emails from him and even though I have tried to be nice, he simply refuses to do the same. He always accuses me of not taking responsibility and of not being on top of things -- like I am stupid or something. I have had this run in with his wife as well -- but that was when my DH was in the neurological hospital after having a major stroke. I was undone then, and she arrived at my house with her thug of a son to threaten me into paying them. I cried, as I should have, because I didn't know if my husband was going to live that day. Since then both her and her husband have fired that shot at me -- that somehow I am a stupid woman who doesn't know what is going on. I don't like it, I don't like being blamed for things that are not my fault, and I don't like the tone they take with me.

        So here we are in the same boat again, with them harrassing me (and not my DH) and I am angry at the situation. I have no money to pay them, so they are intimiating me because they think they can get away with it. They cannot beat my husband because he just ignores them. I am kind and I am thoughtful, so they attack me. I hate it. I am done with them, with this house, and with all the crap that goes along with this life. I want a new life, I have been praying for one, and yet, here I sit without any hope, without any way out, and without any money that can solve this crisis.

        Why Lord? Why do you refuse to help me? Why must I sit here again, taking all this crap on me, and having to put up with accusations that are not even close to true? Why must I suffer like this? I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't hurt anyone. I haven't walked away from my commitment to my marriage. Yet, I am getting screwed left and right, and there is nothing I can do but stand here and take it. It is not fair, Lord. It is not fair.

        Dear Lord,

        I know the answer. You don't have to answer me because I know exactly what is happening. I am suffering unjustly for wrongs committed by other people. I am being crucified, just as you were, so that I conform to your suffering. This is your will for your people, your children. I don't like it, being helpless, but there is nothing I can do about it. I can only take it, as you did, and trust in the One who is able to handle everything on my behalf. I will do my best Lord, knowing always that your Grace is sufficient. Please Lord -- help me? Please come and rescue me today and make a way out for me. In Jesus' Name I ask this -- Amen.

        November 11, 2010

        Waiting and More Waiting

        Today is Veteran's Day, the day we honor those who have served our country in various wars and other conflicts. We honor our all our service men and women, even those who have not been in combat, though we tend to recognize the disabled veteran or the aging one more than those who work ceaselessly in mundane but critically necessary jobs (like contracting or fulfillment or in mess halls, etc.) I am grateful to those who have served on my behalf, and I am grateful that my son (Lord willing) will not be called up to go into the Military. I don't have an issue with the Military at all, but I am glad that he is still leaning towards music and wants to pursue ministry. PTL!

        As I sit here today and blog, my thoughts run the gamut. I am tired and feeling poorly (a stomach bug), and I have to work today (thinking positively as much as I can). I got paid -- hooray! I normally get my check on Friday, but it was deposited today and that means it will clear by tomorrow. I am very low on funds this month, and having this extra cash today is a God-send. I cannot spend it yet, but I will need to get some things in the next few days.

        My kitty, Ike, is going on Saturday for his neutering, and that will run me about $90. I have that money set aside, so I will have to get it out of the bank tomorrow a.m. I hate to do it (the surgery and all), but after my last experience with Gus, who was not neutered properly, I want Ike to be taken care of ASAP.

        I spent the majority of last night in a fitful dream sleep, experiencing a really awful dream, and then waking up intermittantly to consciousness and thinking, "Oh, why is this so?" I would fall back to sleep, only to restart the same dream, and repeat the process. I don't know why I do that, why I am able to stop and start dreams like that; but I wish I wouldn't, I wish I would just fall back and let it go. It doesn't happen all the time, just enough to make me really grumpy in the morning.

        My major dream was about betrayal from family members, and my secondary dream was about losing one of my cats (and then recovering her). The one dream took place near the ocean, so in Californa, and the second dream was at my old house in San Jose (a familar dream spot). The first dream was a family event, a gathering with my husband's family (his parents and his sister's family). Neither live in CA anymore, and when they did, the children were elementary school age. In my dream they were present age, with his Dad being disabled, and my nieces and nephew college and high school age, respectively. I was with my DH, but not as a happily married couple, but as we are now. Therefore, I was at this event under protest, not really wanting to attend, but feeling as though I must.

        The event itself was some sort of memorial or celebration, because we were all dressed up. I showed up dressed wrong (after a long day at work), and had to change. I then got ready and we walked along the ocean to a small set of shops. We carried a photograph on a stand, like the kind you see at memorial celebrations (with the deceased's photo on it). We set it around a fountain or monument or some sort of large pedastal in the middle of a large parking lot. There were other things there, as I recall, so it seemed fitting to put it there. Then we walked over to these shops to go to dinner. I assumed we were going to a fancy place, hence our dressing up. But my MIL and SIL and I went into this sort of deli place, and they ordered food to eat. They didn't say anything to me, like we are eating here or taking food out for everyone else. They just started eating and I was sitting there clueless. I finally asked what was what and they said that "yes they were eating now." I walked out to get my DH and son to leave. I was angry because I had been made to come to this major event, a dress up affair, only to find that it was nothing at all. There was nothing special happening. It was all pretense and nothing more. I got in my car and drove away. Later, we stopped to eat at a steak place, and then I presume, we made it home.

        My second dream found me in my old house in San Jose. This time it was the same layout, and practically the same outside, but the inside looked bare and empty. There were beds in the rooms, but nothing on the walls. The spare room window was open, and the screen had been bent and pushed out. I knew my cat had gotten out so I ran out of doors calling to him (Ike). I called and called and called and finally Jasmine, my little black cat (long passed) ran to greet me like she always did (tail high, purring and rubbing against me). I picked her up, caressed her, and took her inside. I woke up, and that was it.

        I am not a good one to interpret dreams, and most of the time, their meaning is very obvious (like I was scared or trying to control something -- you know with a tornado bearing down on me -- easy to deduce). This dream, well the first, is fairly easy to understand. This has been the pattern of my relationship with my husband's family. It is always a matter of being required to attend a event, only to find that it is not an event at all. The name implies it as such, but the actual details end up being a moment of forced relationship. The feeling of being cast out or left out of things has always been there, and rarely have I ever been asked or allowed to participate in them. This makes sense because if I were asked my input, I would spot right off the lunacy of the plans, the idiocy of what was being asked, or at the least I would say "no." So I am never asked, just summoned and expected to attend. I guess with my relationship in this fragile place, I am no longer feeling as though I have to attend, and when I do choose to go, I find that nothing has changed at all. Everything is exactly as it has always been. And, in my new found sense of things, I see it for what it is now: a reason to force relationship with people you neither like nor care to spend any time with. Blunt, I know, but true. There is no depth of feeling, no sense of love or even like, no nothing. There is just "be there or else" and then there is a set period (several hours) of enduring unpleasantness. This has been the case for almost 28 years, never changing, never ending, never anything else. I am tired of the pretense and I am tired of going to these family events just to say "Oh, good, now we don't have to go again for another X weeks."

        Awful, isn't it? It should not be this way in Christian families. It shouldn't be this way in the church of God, yet it is. I know, it is because we are all flawed human flesh, and we are all carrying around baggage that should have been left at the waystation a long time ago. I cannot be responsible for others who refuse to stop lugging their things around with them. Yet, I have to deal with the trappings of the old man (and old woman) all the time. It is part and parcel with living in the body of Christ. There will always be new believers who carrying around their luggage, when they were told to leave it at the station of the Cross. You understand this, and you know that they need time to process Christ's directives. But, when the people you meet are old folks, people who have been to the Cross so many years ago, who have heard the directives loud and clear, and who refuse to leave these things behind -- well, then you lose your patience with them. You try and act understanding, but after a while (after a long time in some cases) you don't want to deal with their luggage anymore. You just want to chuck it over the fence and tell them to leave it alone. Leave it, don't go pick it up anymore. Let it be. I admit that I lose my patience especially when the luggage is personal to me, especially when it hurts me and causes me to stumble. The Word tells us that we are not to behave or act in any way that causes another brother or sister to stumble. It is our job, therefore, to leave behind the luggage that is causing friends and family to stumble. When we continue to lug it around, it piles up all around us, and then not only weighs us down, but gets in the way of those around us. It is time to leave the luggage behind, to let it go, and to walk on as Christ asks us to -- with nothing more than our cloak in hand, and a staff to lean on. We are to take nothing with us, nothing at all -- for our sufficiency is in Christ alone, and we need nothing from this present world to lean on. We have everything for His Grace is sufficient for our needs, our time, and any situation.

        As I ponder this dream, I must ask myself if I am carrying any luggage with me? Even the smallest purse is forbidden -- nothing is to go with us, nothing at all. What luggage am I attempting to carry on through, what items have I not left at the waystation of the Cross?

        Transitioning to the second dream here for a moment. I return to this home because, I think, it is the last place where I actually felt like I was in a home. This was the house where my family came to visit, where my son was born, and where I truly lived. I loved my home, though it had some pretty awful aspects to it (dark and coldness at times). It had a lovely backyard, and I had a great garden there. This was my home for six years before we moved here to Phoenix. I have never felt that I have lived in a home since then. Though we have lived in several homes since coming here in 1996, and even own this last one, none of these homes are "home" to me.

        I miss my home in San Jose. I miss my parents home, and I miss my brother's home. So much has changed since coming to Phoenix. My parents have retired here, and live close by, but this home is not home either. The home in San Jose was home, and it always will be. My brother has left his wife and son to move to North Carolina for a job. He is very happy there, though he is struggling with leaving his family. I have lived in Phoenix for 14 years, and they have been the worst years of my life. They have been filled with intense struggle, incredible sorrow, and constant strife. I am tired of living here in Phoenix, and I want to move someplace else. But, my parents are here, and they are aging, and they need us to help them. I want to go home. I want to go back to where I lived, where my sweet Jasmine greeted me at the front door nearly every day I came home from work or school. I want to spend time with my best friend, Martha; my friend, whom I have not seen in at least 10 years (we talk and email, but not in person). I miss our time together, I miss doing lunch with her, and I miss just having a good friend. I have some friends here, but no one like her. She understood me, she gets me, and I miss her.

        My cats have all passed now; the last passed in May (Zachary at age 20). Now, I have Winston and Ike (Gus left us and never came home again). I love them dearly, but they are not the cats of my younger years, my cats whom I sought and loved so desparately (and who loved me in return). No, I miss my home, and I want to go there. I want to return to my home, to live in peace again, and to have what I once had -- love, acceptance, joy, peace, and happiness.

        I know you can never go home again (Thomas Wolfe from "Look homeward, Angel"); but this is what I want to do. I long for my home, for the time when everything seemed OK, when I thought my life was good, and was going somewhere (financially, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) I long for my home, to return there and find the happiness I lost somewhere along the way. Where did I lose it, how did I get to where I am today? How did I come so far from where I was, and how did I come to believe that moving here to Phoenix would bring me joy? It never has, no it never has. I has only left me bitter, angry, and without happiness. This place has become my Golgatha, the place of bitter tears wept over the death of a relationship, once hoped to be strong and resolute. It has turned into mourning, and I need my tears now to be turned into joy. How do I do that? How do I turn my tears into happiness?

        I know that the only way is through the Cross of Jesus Christ, and I want so much for this to happen now. I cannot stand it any longer, not one moment longer do I want to continue on in this bitter place. Oh, Lord, help me turn my tears of sorrow into tears of joy!

        November 10, 2010

        Moving On After a Difficult Period

        I recently wrote a mid-term paper on the "work of mourning" as it related to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I referenced an article written by Prof. Elizabeth Edwards of the University of New Hampshire as my seconary source. Her article was about death and the desire for mourning in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. I found her work interesting, and I thought it related well to the subject matter.

        In my own life, I was able to see parallels to her theory on the work of mourning. She bases her thesis on Sigmund Freud's belief in the Ego (if you ever took Psychology 101, then you remember his work on "the id, the ego, and the superego" or the three states of mind). Freud suggested that mourning is a necessary part of the recovery process of the ego, and that without this "work," the ego would remain forever locked in despair and grief. It is an interesting idea, and in theory does seem to hold water. I have found that grief is a process, and that once that process is completed, the mind (or ego as Freud called it) is free to celebrate life and be balanced once again. This work, therefore, is essential to being balanced, and is necessary to recovery the mind from the deepest of sorrow, specifically death or some prolonged form of abandonment.

        In my case, I feel as though I have come through the five stages of grief (as suggested by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross):
        • Denial
        • Anger
        • Bargaining
        • Depression
        • Acceptance

        Kubler-Ross first suggested that there were five distinct phases associated with grief in her 1969 book entitled, On Death and Dying. Her initial work was with those diagnosed with terminal illness, but later she enlarged her diagnosis to include any major traumatic event.

        Divorce, is often likened to the death of a loved one, though there is no finality. Divorce produces similar feelings and very often the divorcee goes through these same five stages. This is especially true for the spouse who did not initiate the divorce process.

        Separation in marriage is the same as abandonment, and in this case, the parties suffer through a different type of grief process. Since there is no finality (like in divorce), the feelings of depression can linger on. In many ways, separation is more like the terminally ill person, who facing the enivitable prospect of dying, has to continue to live on until the point when death is imminent. The person who finds themselves separated, but not divorced, lingers on through this prolonged period of agony, not knowing when or if death (the death of the marriage) will come. They face the certainty of it, but they are not given any real time data to suggest an ending. Therefore, they simply must suffer through this process, waiting and waiting, until there is some sign, some movement or some choice made that will bring in closure (and divorce). It is an incredibly challenging process, and it requires a great deal of patience as well as faith to sustain through it. It is like watching a loved one die. You are standing by and simply watching them die -- knowing that there is nothing you can do to prevent their death from occurring.

        This is what I have been through the past year and half. I have stood by and watched the death of my marriage, feeling helpless to do anything about it. My spouse chose not to do anything at all, and I was left to proceed through these stages of grief on my own. Psychologists say that both parties grieve, but I have not seen this from my spouse. Instead, I have seen the contrary. I have seen him move on, choose behaviors and actions that are representative of a person who is "over it". I know this is not true, of course. I know that he has simply chosen to suppress his emotions and pretend that our marriage was nothing to him. Truly, if he had any feelings at all for me or our son or our family unit, there would have been some sorrow in his leaving us. Yet, there was no sorrow at all, nothing to demonstrate that our relationship was valued or worthwhile to him. He simply walked away, and chose to not acknowledge us at all.

        Our grief took all these forms, and both my son and I sought help through counseling to deal with our emotions. Both of us are on the path to healing, and both of us are trying very hard to remain in good terms with my husband/his father. If anything, both of us are fully functioning, ego intact, and we are both using our rational and logical mind to move on. We have mourned the loss of relationship, and we are now ready to begin the recovery process.

        Freud suggested that recovery of the ego would bring about a celebratory response which would then allow the ego to be balanced (the state of mind represented by the ego). It is difficult to consider celebrating something so awful as divorce. One can celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed, and one can go on celebrating their life for years afterwards. In divorce, there is no real celebration, except for the person who initiated the process. They seem to celebrate in the beginning, but in truth, it is those left behind who celebrate long after.

        The process of grieving like the work of mourning brings about complete recovery. It is the only process that truly shapes our lives and enables us to continue on with a whole and complete mindset. Without this process, without this work, the mind is stuck in the id (or the childlike impulsive and passion driven state that often is responsible for divorce or the acts that lead up to divorce). I am content to know that I have processed these events well, and I give thanks to God alone for His work in "recovering my ego." God has done this for me, and He has done this for my son. He has made sure that we are OK, that we are strong and resilient, and that we can move on. It is not to say that God wanted us divorced or that somehow God initiated this process -- no, not at all. God never condones divorce, but He has permitted it in certain cases. And when one spouse is left behind, the primary instigation of divorce is simple abandonment. One spouse has chosen to abandon the other. This is exactly what happened in my life, though my spouse is still here, he has left this relationship and walked away. I am standing here alone, living with my son all the while my spouse is making plans for his new life.

        It is a strange and awful process, something I do not wish on anyone; however, if this happens, I can at the least, offer my deepest emphathy to them. I know what it feels like to be abandoned, to be cast off, and to be sent out from the home. I know the deep hurt, the sense of loss and despair, and I understand the emotional turmoil that results when trying to understand "why" such a thing has happened. I also have walked through the fire, been stranded in the wilderness of sorrow and the great unknown, and I have experienced the 'valley of the shadow of death'. I have been to the mountaintop, and I have been to the pit. I have seen all sides of it, and I know the incredible pain that comes from this kind of experience. Perhaps some day I can use my words to comfort another, perhaps some day I can offer them some word of advice, some word of cheer or some word of hope. There is a reason why this has happened to me, and there is a reason why I have survived. God has seen to it, and this experience will be used to bring Glory to His Name. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.