January 4, 2011

Rules of Engagement

My son is playing a Zombies game (his own mod, hosted on some gaming server).  He modified the Zombies game within Call of Duty, and now has a strong following of players.  He told me today that he has anywhere from 8 to 20 people playing his game online throughout the day.  He is very responsible towards it, making updates as people find bugs, etc.  Pretty impressive for a 17 year old home school kid.

Tomorrow is his student orientation at the community college.  He is very excited, and so ready to begin school.  He was a little bummed when he found out that his high school youth group winter retreat is on the same Saturday that he is scheduled to take the ACT test.  He lamented that this will be the only retreat he has missed since 7th grade.  I reminded him that "since he is in college" (his favorite line to me -- in respone to anything I say that asks him to be more responsible) he has to accept the fact that he cannot do what he wants anymore.  College comes first, and his courses take precendent.  He was supposed to take the ACT last fall, but there was no way I could schedule it (recital conflicted as did some other planned events).  This was far enough in advance that I had hoped nothing would conflict.  Oh well.

He is being recruited by Southwestern College (in Phoenix) and North Park University in IL.  He would like to attend either school, but both require an ACT or SAT score along with an essay application.  We started the process last fall, before he found out that he was awarded a President's Scholarship to our local community college.  This scholarship gives him four-five semesters (depending on his degree choice) free tuition, and some extra to cover books.  Our CC is about five minutes from our home, and has a very strong reputation as being a good school.  It really is a blessing for him to go there, since he is not sure now what he wants to study.  He has changed his mind several times before, and now is considering either Audio Engineering or some form of Digital Media/Arts (focusing on music).  He also would like to study Music Ministry, but isn't sure if he is to go that route just yet.  The CC will give him time to explore his options, and truthfully, he was not ready to go away to school (and live in the dorms).  This is a good stepping stone for him, and it allows me the opportunity to help him with his schedule, manage study hours, etc.  Once he is out of the house, then it will all fall on him, and I think in 1-2 years, he will be ready to tackle living on his own.  For now, he is still a young man who needs to be at home.  Well, I think so (and I think he does as well) anyhoo.

As I contemplate all these changes, being a single Mom and having a college student, I am confronted with the reality of the entire situation.  Last night at work, I met a very nice older woman (probably my age or a little older) who was caring for her elderly mother.  She had brought her into the Petites department to find slippers.  She was returning a pair, fearing that her mother would trip in them.  I sat with her for a while as they tried on several pairs (the slippers are right near my register), and we had a nice chat.  Her mother didn't speak English, so we were able to converse freely.  She told me that her mom was 83 and in good health, but she was not able to live alone since her father passed away.  Her mom lived with her now, and that it was a challenge to care for her.  She obviously loved her mom, and she told me so, but said how hard it was to work full-time and come home to her mom.  I wasn't sure if she was married or not, but she was clearly tired, probably coming to Macy's after work.  I shared my own concerns, though thankfully, my parents are able to remain in their home for now.  I am ready to take both my parents into my home, and know that I will need to do this at some point in the very near future.  My father will want to stay in their home until he can no longer care for it, and he hopes to be there a good five years more.  However, his health is failing, and with his Post-Polio, he is getting weaker each day.  My mom is in good spirits and in good health, but financial concerns, and this downed turned housing market make it difficult for them to consider anything but living with a family member.  I am closest to them, both physically and emotionally, so I am prepared to care for them this way.

The thought of caring for them is not an issue nor is the financial concern that comes with it.  I know that the Lord has this factored into my life and that He will care for us all.  I didn't really consider the emotional toll of having parents living in until I met this woman at Macy's.  Clearly she was happy to have her mom with her, but the strain of caring for her and being a responsible adult was taking it's toll.  I understand this now, and it is something that I think about -- distantly.  It is never an easy decision to take on the care of a parent or other loved one. The compromise is personal satisfaction and privacy as well as generally being on your own.  You are no longer alone nor are you completely independent.  It is a trade-off, but one that I believe honors the Lord greatly.

As I sit here and type this post, I am reminded of the great blessing of the Lord upon my life.  I spent the majority of the day thinking about all that God has done for me in the past year, and making some preparations for this new year.  I have school to consider (my own and my son's) as well as the potential for work.  I am convinced now that the job of the Lord's choosing is just around the corner, and that I will hear something very soon (as to it's availability and/or potential interview).  God has everything in order, and I am ready to receive His blessing into my life.  I have my ducks in a row, having spent this first week getting my financials squared away (a new plan to continue to repair my credit, to establish credit worthiness, and to build savings), ordering materials for school (books), and purchasing some resources (a laptop for my son -- to be ordered on Friday).  I have also paid bills, and will continue to pay them myself.  I am self-supporting now, and the Lord has seen fit to provide for me through a range of providers (and not just a single job).  I am working PT, for how long, I do not know, but I am working and making enough money to cover smaller expenses.  I have my graduate plan in order (now having confirmed with my advisor and Department Director), and I am all set with my car (insurance and maintenance).  God is so Good, and He has provided abundant blessing upon my life.

New focus for 2011 includes becoming active in ministry at my church.  I have spent the past 30 years working and serving in Children's ministry, but now the Lord is directing my focus towards missions, and that is where I am to serve.  I know that my gifting aligns with community development, leadership development, and cultural awareness (these are my three fold focus for my life as well as ministry).  God is moving me towards His Kingdom work, and over the course of the next couple years, I am to be involved in ministry that directly supports His desire for my life.  It is a nice change, and I am excited to be Holy Spirit directed versus Carol-directed (which just means listening to Him rather than me trying to do what I thought He wanted, and always coming up short).  My focus includes my graduate study, and it will also be supported by my actual work (job), so I will be moving forward with a commitment that is single-mindedly focused on His Work.  This pleases me greatly as I am a directed person.  I like things to be ordered, and I tend to be a neat-freak about control (now firmly surrendered to His control).  I like my pictures to hang straight, I like the items on the shelf to be neatly arranged, and so on.  I need certain things to be a certain way, and I am now understanding of the fact that this is how I am wired.  It is not a bad thing nor a good thing, it is just how I see the world around me.  I like to straighten things up, and since God is all about making us STRAIGHT UP, I guess then I am following in His footsteps.

The evening is drawing to a close, and I am thinking about dinner.  I had thought about a dinner for the three of us, but my DH returned home with a steak for him and our son.  I was conveniently left out, as often I am.  It rubs me slightly, but not the way it used to do so.  I understand now, and I am content to remain single in every area of my life.  Even though we share the same home, and have for 26 (will be 27 this fall) years, our life is no longer intertwined.  I am not sure why God has kept us together, but He has done so, and this is the way it is.  It is not to be permanent or to be a restorative situation.  It is for a time only, and then the Lord will do whatever He is determined to do.  Until then, I wait patiently.  I try to be kind and caring, compassionate with understanding, and let the Lord do what He wills.  I have been blessed, and will continue to be blessed as long as I remain faithfully obedient to Him.  Until He moves me, I will stay where I am.  Until He opens that door to the new job, I will continue to work at Macy's.  Until He does what He wills, I will rely upon the blessing of His friendship and His faithful companionship.  God is so very Good to me.

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