August 31, 2012

Getting Ready to Move

This has been an awesome week for me! First off, I completed two rounds of interviews with CVS Caremark on Monday (grueling day -- hot outside, and a lot of behavioral questions inside). Secondly, I found out I officially graduated from Mercy College (whoo hoo!) Later, on Tuesday, I met my new manager at UOPX, and had a short 1-on-1 with him. He seems nice, but his style of management is a type that is not a good fit for my work habits. Yes, I know -- you cannot always pick your manager. This is so true, but I know at the outset that micromanagement is not my thing. I am capable of doing what needs doing, and I know how to manage my time well.

Wednesday, traditionally known as "hump day" or the middle of the week, proved to be my day. I received a call from CVS Caremark offering me the job (well, in fact both jobs I interviewed for on Monday). I had to make a decision on the group I wanted to join, but I was offered the position to begin on Monday, September 10th!

Thursday was tough -- just getting through the day -- doing the work at UOPX knowing that I would be leaving so soon. I mustered up my courage, did the job, and then checked out at 2:30 knowing that I had today off as well as Monday (Praise the Lord!)

Today, I am taking my son to the MDV to get his official license. Later, I have chamber reheresal. My day is going to be filled with going to the cleaners, doing laundry, and chilling out. I am stoked!

As I think about my week, this week in particular, I am reminded of the Graciousness of  God. I mean, I was pretty unpleasant last week, just bored, feeling desperate, and thinking that I was "stuck" in a dead-end job with no hope for rescue. Then the Mighty Hand of God swept me up, and carried me out of my despair, and placed me down in a new place, a fresh place, a place where I can hope to tarry for a long while. I am blessed, and He is so GOOD to me.

My prayer today is to rejoice in my position, and to maintain an even attitude so that regardless of my circumstances, I am neither depressed nor complaining (neither can be sustained), but rather conscious of God's Goodness, and His Faithfulness to me.

"Instead, be very glad--for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world." ~1 Peter 4:13 NLT

Yes, my goal is to be steady through these trials and to exhibit the Graciousness of Christ regardless of how long I am called to endure. I can do all things through the Blessed Risen and Exalted Christ, I know this is true. My flesh prefers to grumble and complain, while my spirit wants to proclaim His Name, and Rejoice in the Power of His Name. May it always be the latter, may it always be so!

Dear Adonai,

I thank you for this blessed opportunity to move to another company. I look forward to meeting new friends, to making new paths, and for moving in a new direction. I ask that your will be done in my life, and I agree with you on these changes. Make it your best for me -- I ask this now in the Majestic and Most Merciful Name of Jesus, the Risen and Exalted Christ -- Amen (so let it be)! Selah!!

August 28, 2012

It's Official!

Finally -- there is a degree conferred date on my transcript from Mercy College! Praise be to God, who is the Father of all things! How I thank Him this day, and praise Him for His wonderful Mercy and Grace!

I have been waiting for my conferral date since I graduated in May. I passed my comprehensive exam in June, and because I was late on the exam, my actual degree conferral was pushed out until the end of summer. I am a post-graduate student now, and I am so very blessed! God is so very good to me!!

On other news, I completed an intensive round of interviews yesterday at CVS Caremark. I met with two groups regarding a position as a Communications Analyst. The role is something I am interested in and would align well with my skills. The company has two positions open, one in each group (similar but different due to the focus of each group). I think I would be happy in either group, it is just a matter of whether they liked me more than the other candidates they interviewed. I believe they interviewed at least five other candidates, so I know I am in the running, but not certain if they liked me enough to pursue me for hiring. Oh well...

I am beat today, though, and I would really like to stay home. I took yesterday off because I am scheduled to work Saturday. I am planning on taking off Friday as well, so that I can take my son to the MVD to get his official license (another Praise to God for His Provision of driver's training and passing the exam!) I would like to stay home today, but feel the need to drive into work to see what is what. I received a text from one of my co-workers letting me know that we have a new manager now. I had speculated that this would be the person they were bringing up, even though there were other rumors afloat that the person would come up from another division. This man has been with the company for years, and I am sure he is a nice guy. His reputation is that he is a micro-manager, which is pretty much the normal for UOPX. I have had two laid-back, low-key managers and one micro-manager. I really don't want to stay under another. However, until something else comes to pass, so be it. I will do my best, be pleasant and keep my head down and do the work I need to do. Praise be to God for His Provision of other job opportunities.

So as I sit here, looking at the clock and thinking that I will not make it to work by 7 (it is 6:20 and I am not even dressed), I need to make a decision. Do I stay or do I go? What do I do next?

My mind is racing and it is full of a jumble of thoughts. I don't want to leave my team at UOPX, even if it is fragmented with 2/3rds going to other groups. I have had some really good laughs and I have enjoyed the camaraderie. I don't like change, well this kind, anyway. I handle change at work every day, but moving from company to company, starting over, learning new ropes, etc. -- this is the kind of change I really do not enjoy.

I am ready to go, though. I am ready for a new way of doing things, new tasks, and a new opportunity. I am ready to learn new things. I really don't like good-byes, but thank God, should this opportunity come to pass, I can work a short notice before moving on. God is so very good to me.

Lastly, and then it is time to move -- I am thinking more and more about my future and the plans the Lord has for me. The other day, the Lord said that He had made up His mind about the way I am to go. I know what this means -- I am always to go His way, of course -- but in this instance, I think it was more about the path I am to take (as in walking along). I am on a specific path right now, and like a trail in a forest, often there are offshoots that take you in different directions. Sometimes these paths go nowhere. They dead end. Other times, they take you by a more scenic route or they cut time off your journey. Most times they move you forward but bypass obstacles or are a smoother, easier trail to follow (not always, sometimes they are more difficult to traverse). We walk on a path towards our Heavenly destination. We all are on a path, and we are moving forward towards our end goal -- eternal salvation and Kingdom glory. We come to forks, and streams, and often we have to make a choice about which way to go, or how to go over/under some obstacle in our way. These choices determine where we end up in this life. Some choices are for good, some for worse. The choice often is not really what matters, it is more so the way the path leads us onward. We need to survey the scene and make a decision on which way to go simply so that we keep ourselves moving forward.

Life is an unexpected journey. We have to keep moving forward and we don't always know what lays ahead of us. However, God's Grace provides coverage to us, and enables us to walk on without any fear. So while I am apprehensive about leaving one job for another, I know that it is just a different path I will take to get me to my end -- to the place where My Lord waits for me. He is with me, of course. I am not alone, but I also know that the physical presence of the Lord is standing there at the entrance of Heaven waiting to usher me in. I look to that day, to run to Him, and to know I have made it safely into His Loving and Caring arms. For now, though, I must walk on. I press on, and I take a new path that will lead me down a different way. Perhaps it will be easier for me, perhaps it will grow me. Perhaps it will strengthen me, and give me new perspective in life. Mostly, I am hopeful that it will be easier for me, a little that is, so that I can rest more, and be more refreshed. If not, then I press on until the next fork comes my way, and then I will to take another path. I rest today knowing that no matter where I am or where I go, the Lord is with me. He covers me, He cares for me, and I am able to rest in His Merciful and Gracious care today.

Blessed is the Name of the Lord, my ROCK and my REFUGE. May His Holy NAME be Praised today and forever more. Amen (so be it!)

August 26, 2012

Letting Go of Me

Massive learning lesson today. I came to the understanding of what it means to allow Christ to live in me. I can't really explain it other than to say that sometime in the night, I had a conversation with the Lord. I asked Him if "this is" what it means when Christ is active and present in your life (fill in the 'is' with any word such as faith, trust, hope, peace, etc.) It dawned on me today, that I lack nothing because Christ RISEN AND EXALTED lives within me. Therefore, all that He is, comes to be a part of my life. It is no longer a matter for me to let Him be, but rather, it is about me surrendering myself to self-control, which allows HIM to bring all that He is to play within my life.

I guess it is probably best said this way. I struggle with TRUST, and for me, I constant find myself at odds with God when it comes to trusting Him. Yet, if Christ REIGNS and lives EXALTED within me (through the Power of the Holy Spirit), then Christ TRUSTS through me. I don't have to try to trust because, in truth, I cannot. My futile attempts at trust are based in my flesh. In the Spirit, however, there is Power, and there is the ability to trust God completely. I must let Christ TRUST for me, and then I am able to do whatever the Lord asks of me, or whatever is asked of me that requires trust. I hope that makes sense.

In a moment of enlightenment, I realized that there is nothing I lack, because Christ is my sufficiency. He is my all in all. Yes, I have always believed this was true, but I believed that it was up to me to make this happen. I believed that I had the power, the will, or even the discipline to make this happen. I failed, of course, all the time. I tried my hardest, my best, and yet I failed every single time I tried to trust or to believe something about God or about His will or way. I never considered that everything was there for me, the power, the ability, the perfectedness -- all there in the RISEN and EXALTED Christ.

Now, I am able to let go, and let Him REIGN. In doing so, I can say with the Apostle Paul that it is "not I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Yes, Christ lives, and I live too -- but surrendered fully to Him, and to His way. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthen's me (Phil. 4:13).

What Does This Mean For Me?

In short, this means that all that I believe God has called me to do is possible. It is not up to me to figure out how to do it. It is not up to me to plan or purpose a way to do it. No, it is up to God to provide that way, and then for Him to lead me through the path that will accomplish His way. I can REST in His Finished Work. I can rest in the completeness of His provision. I can live wholly and fully devoted to Him, and I can let go of the fleshly responses that demand their own way. I can submit to His way, and I can know that my life will be blessed. I am safe, I am secure, and I am well-provided for -- all in His Name and through the Power of that Name.

My Next Steps

As I consider this new way of thinking, of living 100% relying upon the Lord for His Finished Work -- I am able to think now about what God is asking me to do, and how I should do the work or the tasks associated with His plan for my life. I am able to say "Yes, Adonai -- I will follow you, and I will do what you ask of me" without the fear of failing or choosing the wrong way. No, there is no wrong way, because now it is not what I want to do, but what the Lord wants to do through me. In a simple way, it is "Lord, where do you want us to go today" rather than "Lord, where do you want me to go today?"

It has always been about me doing His will. I have asked Him hundreds of times to tell me what to do. His word to me was always 'to trust, to rest, to wait, etc." Now I see that when I am following after Him, I am never to do anything on my own. I don't work, I don't go here or there. I am to do nothing unless the Lord wants or wills it to be done. And, if that is so, then it is a matter of Him going before me, and me following along.

This leads me to question some of the roles I have considered lately. I am supposed to have a job interview tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. However, the HR person never sent me any confirmation of the interview -- no location, no contact name, phone or even email. I have no confirmation that I am to go and interview for a job. I also have no sure way of contacting the HR person. I don't even have a last name for her.

I had a job interview last week for a part-time teaching position. I turned it down because I didn't think I was ready to do that work. In hindsight, the reason I turned it down was because I was still looking to a company and a paycheck to provide for me. I was placing my need for a secure job on the altar of my heart -- looking for a job so that I could leave the one I have and move into something better.

I am here today, sitting now and thinking about what God wants to do rather than what I want to do. I don't really care what kind of work I do. God has something in mind for me, and He knows me best. I know what my flesh wants: to stay at home, to do some kind of work from home. My flesh always wants to make a lot of money so that I can buy a better car, put money into savings, build my retirement. My flesh wants the paycheck auto-deposited into my checking account every two weeks -- this is what my flesh wants.

What does God want? What kind of work does the Lord require of me? He answer has always been the same: to do His work only. I am to focus on His work. I am to be about His work. I am to do nothing else but His work.

So Lord, what work do you want us to do next? What job do you plan to bring to me?

August 25, 2012

Going to the River

To the river I am going bringing sins I cannot bear
Come and cleanse me, come forgive me Lord I need to meet you there

In these waters, healing mercy flows with freedom from despair
I am going, to that river Lord I need to meet you there

Precious Jesus, I am ready to surrender every care
Take my hand now, lead me closer Lord I need to meet you there

Come and join us, in the river Come find life beyond compare
He is calling, He is waiting Jesus longs to meet you there
He is calling, He is waiting Jesus longs to meet you there

Precious Jesus, I am ready to surrender every care
Take my hand now, lead me closer Lord I need to meet you there
Take my hand now, lead me closer Lord I need to meet you there

Copyright 2004. Brian Doerksen, "The River"

Transformational theology. I've been thinking a lot about this, though I didn't really know that there was an actual movement of thought associated with it. Over the past few years, I have wrestled with the intellectual ideas of God in the present space and time, and God who has been revealed historically through the Word and through human events. I have struggled with understanding how God exists throughout the dimensions and framework of our time and space, considering His Eternalness which was pre-existent.

In my own experience, I have come to meet with the personal Jesus Christ through the Power of the Holy Spirit. My life is bound-up in Christ, and I live each day following after Him, and according to the directives He gives to me. My life is a commissional one, therefore, predicated on an ever growing dependency upon the real and present life of Christ within me. How then does one come to explain this transformational presence within, while still using human forms of expression which often are lacking in the adequacy of explanation. I have failed to share with others my inner experiences, and as such, I find that I am forced to spend most of my time thinking and pondering (meditating) upon these ideas on my own.

Today, I did a little search on the Internet and was able to find out more about Transformation Theology, what it is, and what is seeks to do in the lives of believers and the church. I am unsure what the emphasis is, though I find that I share much with what the academic theologians seem to be suggesting. I know that I have experienced such transformation in my own life, and that my spiritual center has shifted from traditional Christianity to a more radical orthodoxy that sees the Risen and Exalted Christ present and living within His Church. It is more than the empowering work of the Holy Spirit (as Charismatics might view), but rather, it seems to be identified more closer with the concept of "the mystery" experienced by the Apostles. Somehow I came to know and understand the powerful presence of the Risen Christ, and that experience has transformed by willingness to follow after Him into a commissioned sense of "work."

I write often about God's command for me to "go." This commissioning is a big part of the early Church, and it appears that within God's parameters and His abiding presence in our lives, we too can be called or commissioned to go do certain work in His Name. I have viewed all of this as rather speculative at best. I believed what I felt was the Word of the Lord coming to me, but now with more greater scrutiny, realize that this is the active Christ at work.

Transformation Theologians or TT often will speak of distinctives between "thinking" and "doing." I recently read through James again, and was reminded of the fact that we are to be more than hearers of the Word. We are called to be doers of the Word. This means that we are to not just think about God and about His Word, but we are to be actively doing what God wants us to do. Christ is not passive. He is not sitting passively by in Heaven waiting for the end of days to come. No, He is actively working through the individual heart and minds of His Church, transforming those who are willing and agreeable to His Power. Yes, you can be renewed. Yes, you can be transformed. Not once at the time of conversion, not when you need a refreshing -- no, but every day, in every way through the abiding presence of the Risen and Exalted Christ in your life.

I have come to regard this experience, this daily transformation as "normal" and not as some supernatural expression that is surrounded by an act of worship. Rather, this "normal" is part and parcel with the abiding presence of Christ, and the Power of His Name as it is revealed in my life each day.

Today, I am ready to go because the active and very present Christ bids me to go. Today, I can accomplish set tasks because the active and very present Christ is ready to accomplish these tasks. It is not "I" who do them, it is "Christ in me" who does everything. It is not about "me," but rather it is about Him doing what He does, in His way, to accomplish His purpose and plan in and through my life.

I rest. I let go. I let Him be in my life this day.

August 23, 2012

What's Up, Pussycat?

Ok, showing my age right now (my mind is thinking Tom Jones -- what a hunny bunny he was -- well back when I was 10 anyway!)

Today has been incredibly stressful for me. First off, there is something afoot a work. It has been playing itself out for about a month now, coinciding with my former manager's departure, and the lack of a replacement forthcoming. There have been murmur rings of lay offs, of course, and there have been some involuntary departures this week (and last). Mostly, just a slow trickle -- with a cautionary word reminding everyone to "keep busy."

On Wednesday, the "move list" came out. My name was absent, as was my coworker (who sits behind me). There were about 30 moves listed, and while not everyone is getting shifted about, it was an obvious slight to have the two of us left off this list. We are sitting in "no man's land" along with three members who are moving to the other end of the building, and two members moving across to a new group, and two members staying put (near their group). There is me, my seat mate, and my other team member who sits down the lane (about 4 cubes up). The latter was on the list, and will be moving to "our team" about 4 aisles over. The word is "don't worry," but the fact that everyone has been placed except for the two of us is very, very disconcerting. Furthermore, one of my new team members is getting shifted for no apparent reason, and she took the bold step to ask our Director for input. The word came back "it is what it is." Moreover, when our names were mention to her, questioning the shifting that took place, and our being left off, without any real explanation or even a calming word -- left us feeling all the more anxious about our longevity with this company.

I asked my seat-mate his feelings on the matter. He has been with the company for two years, but was with the subsidiary for two years before. He has been in and out of it, and his feelings are that the tidings are not boding well for us. I agree, even though, I am assured by the Lord that everything will be OK. Yes, and whom shall I fear? No one. The Lord's WORD is truth (John 17:17b), and I am choosing to trust Him over any human speculation.

I will be OK should I get let go. I am happy that my team member (the third one) has a safe job. She is a single Mom and needs this job. I am well-educated, and I have lots of opportunities -- plus I happen to know ADONAI personally, so I am in good stead. Still, I don't want to go to work tomorrow and hear those words, "Sorry, but we have to let you go."

On the good side, I am ready to go. I have had two successful interviews this week. I passed a screening for a job as an Adjunct Faculty. However, the position started on Monday, and was only for 1 month. I didn't feel right about it, not yet, any way, so I let it pass.

I had a screening call today for a position I feel is better suited to my skills, and I go on Monday for two interviews with Hiring Managers. I am hopeful that this is the next place for me (more on this later).

In all, I am in a very good place today. I am content to be where I am, and I am happy that the plans the Lord has for my life are coming to pass. I don't know what news tomorrow will bring, but I do know that ADONAI will be there with me, and HE is all I need.


I ask in your GOOD NAME that you provide the next job to me. I am open to doing any such work as you see fit to bring to me, and I am ready to leave UOPX for this opportunity. Provide what I need, and I will go. I ask this now in YOUR NAME, Amen. So be it, thy will be done! Selah (Pause and calmly think about that!)

August 20, 2012

News from the Home Front

Got word today that my nephew from Southern California is coming to Grand Canyon University! Hooray!! I am so happy for him. He is studying Sports Management, and GCU has an excellent program. He was stuck at home, unable to register for more than two courses at his local CC, so coming here to AZ and to GCU is going to enable him to continue to pursue his education. I am really looking forward to spending some quality time with him. He is a great young man, filled with so much potential. I am really, really excited to see him flourish as he develops into a mature and Godly man.

In other news, my son started his second to last semester at PVCC. I cannot believe that he is a sophomore and that he will be moving on to ASU in the fall of 2013 (to study Linguistics). He is such a fantastic kid -- I love him to pieces -- and I am so very proud of him.

I guess today has been a pretty rock solid day for me. It started out rather ho-hum, but ended up being potentially spectacular. I worked my way through my day, not much to report there, just numbers and progressing a couple students. I came home early so I could take my son to his evening class (he passed his driving test -- but I am not ready for him to take my car out at night). I checked my vmail and lo and behold, there was a message from the Dean of Academic Affairs at one of our local for-profit schools. She was calling to discuss my application for a teaching position (PTL!) I wasn't able to reach her, so I left her some vmail. Hopefully, I can give her a call tomorrow in the morning, and set up a phone interview. I am so very excited. This will be the first interest in my resume for a faculty position. I am trusting the Lord to provide for me -- and while this position is part-time -- it is a real classroom teaching post in my field (English). I am jazzed and I am so very hopeful.

Dear Lord, 

Thank you for bringing a sweet reminder of your Gracious Provision into my life today. I am excited about the opportunity to interview for a teaching position. I ask now that your will be done, and that you will bless me with good prospects for this position. I am trusting you to provide for me, and I know that you will do as you have promised. You are Faithful, and you are Trustworthy, Lord. I ask this now in the Power of Jesus' Name, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

August 18, 2012

Refining the Plans for the Future

Ok, now it is time to get cracking! I don't know where that phrase came from, but I know what it means. I am to get into gear, to get moving, to stop sitting around doing nothing, and to start being active again. I have made some active plans, and I have been working on producing some new results -- but the emphasis on my job at UOPX, my dissatisfaction with the tasks, and the lack of promotion have all played a role in my feelings of depression -- which have in turn stifled any desire to move. I have known for a while that I needed to go, to get myself going, and yet I haven't gone anywhere at all. I have remained where I was at, firmly entrenched, and unwilling to let go so I could be moved to a new place, a new position, and new door of opportunity.

I hate the fact that I am stuck, that I am sitting here now because I chose to sit down and not get up and get moving when the Lord told me to "go." Yes, I have done it again. I have sat down instead of walking on ahead. I have not done what I was asked to do, and as a result, I have suffered through unending and unyielding days of boredom and confusion. Drats! Oh, human flesh why have you failed me once again!! Don't answer -- I know the answer already and the point is mute. It is what it is, eh?

As I contemplate my day, I begin to think about all the places the Lord has told me to "go to" and the reasons why I haven't actually gone anywhere. Of these reasons, here are the top three:
  • FEAR
In thinking upon these reasons, I must conclude that I am:

1. Afraid of what is unknown. I am unwilling to go because I am afraid of losing what I currently possess, and not gaining what I hope to get in the future.

2. Failure hangs over me, with thoughts of doubt that remind me of the fact that I have failed to do what was asked before, so therefore I will fail to do what is asked in the future.

3. Misguidance whether by friend or foe has often clouded my judgment and made me choose options that were not in my best interest. Regardless of the intention (for good or bad), I have listened to the counsel of others, and rejected the counsel of the Lord. I have been confused because I have allowed others to persuade me to do things that sounded "good," but were not aligned with the Lord's expressed will for my life.

Combating these feelings is easy. You either listen to them or you reject them. I chose the former, and I am struggling with the consequences of that choice.

Ok, so let's combat these feelings now, so that we can get up and get moving forward again.

First, I am no longer afraid of what lays ahead of me. I don't have to hold on to what I have since what I have has been given to me by the Lord. His Word tells us that our Father knows our needs, and that He will provide food and clothing for us. He will take care of us, and He will provide for our daily needs.

Second, failure is just doubt. It is believing a lie that says you are not able to do what is asked of you because you lack X. However, with God's Grace, we know that all things are possible. We know that His Grace is sufficient for every need, every task, and every job given to us.

Lastly, listening to the counsel of others is a good thing so long as we do not take the word of human beings over the Word of the Lord. We must always seek Him first, seek His kingdom first, and then sort out the human offerings to see whether they line up or fall by the way side.

I know and understand my feelings well. I blog about them daily (almost), and I think intently upon my life regularly. I know myself. I know what I can and cannot do. Likewise the Lord says to me, "Carol, I know you. I know what you can and cannot do. Trust me." Yes, Lord, may I always trust you. May I look to you, and listen to your counsel. If I will follow you, you will lead me straightway to the job opportunity of your choosing. You will guide me along the path you have chosen for me, and it will go well with me. You know my past, my present and my future. You know me, and I trust you Lord!

Update September 10, 2012:

Today is a good day. I turned in my notice at UOPX, and Friday will be my last day as an Online Enrollment Advisor. I will start my new position as Communications Analyst for CVS/Caremark on Monday, September 17, 2012. God is so very Good to me.

Since I wrote this post, I have had to struggle through trusting the Lord for His Guidance on everything. I received notice of interest in a position with CVS/Caremark, completed a round of interviews, was offered employment -- all within two weeks near the end of August. The screenings and background checks, etc. prolonged the transition from one employer to another, and the WAITING was difficult and led to worry and doubt and anxiety over my future. During this time, I worried about being let go at my current job (recent changes to the culture), worried over money and how I would pay bills in the transition (can I really leave what I know for what I don't know?), and then worried about what would happen when I finally gave my notice (would I get let go immediately or could I work a notice and get a week's extra pay?).

Throughout the past couple weeks, the Lord has reminded me of His Faithfulness, and He has given me Assurance of His Will. I trusted Him, but I didn't rely on Him. I struggled, I was obsessed with worry, and I suffered pain and nausea over the stress caused by waiting, and the BIG UNKNOWN.

Today, once I gave my notice, it was as if the WEIGHT of the world lifted off of me, and I realized that everything has turned out exactly as God said it would turn out. My notice was graciously accepted, I will work out a notice (hence more pay), and I will transition smoothly from one job to the next. Everything is GOOD. God has provided everything I need to move from UOPX to CVS/Caremark. God is so very GOOD to me.

Lesson learned. Trust the Lord. Remain Faithful. Rest, and Know that He is God.

Last Post on Change

Yes, this is my last post on this topic. I have had some recent opportunities come up and now I am thinking that perhaps my life is about to CHANGE in a radical new way. I am not really sure what is going on, it is just that I feel like there is a storm brewing, and I had better get ready to take cover. I don't see the storm as a bad thing, really. I see it more along the lines of coming refreshment. It is like our desert storms here in Arizona. We suffer for a long hot summer, with unending blazing furnace like heat -- waiting, hoping and wishing for the refreshing Monsoon rain. When the rain comes, the storm clouds are on the horizon, and winds begin to blow, and then BOOM down comes the rain. Our heat dissipates, and while we do get an increase in humidity levels, generally speaking, the cooler temperatures bring sweet relief. It is a win-win for us. We wait the storm out, and then enjoy the break with more pleasant weather.

In my life, I see this same thing happening. I have been suffering through a difficult job for the past six to eight months. I have weathered the ups and downs of working at University of Phoenix, and while I have been thankful for the job, the daily tasks have taken their toll on me physically and mentally. Likewise, our unrelenting heat has zapped my strength, and made it difficult to want to do anything other than stay inside and wait until the oven shuts off (around October).

At work, I have been struggling to keep my head in the game. Despite all the managerial change, the emphasis on work, producing activity, has made me scratch my head and wonder if the strategy is even effective for creating positive outcomes. I go in each day, and I do what is assigned to me. Yes, thank God, I have had some really good success recently. My numbers are up -- almost to 15 potential students for September (4 enrolled, 6 pending, and then 4-5 in process). I am sitting pretty with September. I know, however, that the crash will come, and then I will crank through October-December with low numbers, more pressure to perform, and a continued sinking feeling as though I am wasting my time and my energy on a job that is going nowhere.

I had hoped that I would have opportunity to move into Academic Affairs. I had hoped that I could move into Marketing. No movement has been possible, and the likelihood that there will be more opportunity down the road is unknown. What is known is that my job is secure for the time being. I don't think I will get fired for not making 80-100 prospecting calls a day. I may get talked to, persuaded to get into the game or consider moving elsewhere; but, I don't think they will fire me or even lay me off (not with my numbers). So the end game is this: I can stay where I am, keep a secure job, and accept the fact that I am going to remain in my role as advisor OR I can step out in faith and move to another company, to a job that aligns more with my skills and abilities. I am considering the fact that there are no certainties when it comes to job growth. I accept this, and I am understanding that to move to another company may place me the same type of scenario -- a dead end job with little prospect for future growth.

Last week, I applied to CVS Caremark for a job in Communications. It was a long-shot for me, just another resume and application submitted with the thought of "well, perhaps someone will see my resume this time?" I received a call on Wednesday to schedule a pre-screening interview. Unfortunately, the recruiter has called again -- but we cannot connect to setup a time to speak on the phone. I am thinking she is either really new or not very good at setting follow up appointments. Still, the fact that she has called twice is encouraging to me. This position would be a good fit for my skills and it would align with my goals of working within marketing communications. Will I get to interview, even be screened for an interview -- that is hard to say at this point. I am remaining hopeful, knowing and trusting that God has this covered, and that if it is His Will, then it will work in my favor.

I guess the point of this post is to say to myself (and anyone else who is reading) that I have made up my mind regarding my future. I have made the decision to look elsewhere and to stop begrudging the fact that I do have a job. All I hear at work is "be thankful you have a job right now." Well, yes, I am thankful. However, doing a grind of a job where you are exhausted and stressed is not really going to generate thankfulness, know what I mean? I am stressed, and I am to the point where it has caused me to be depressed on a daily basis. I cannot do the Lord's work, I cannot do anything besides this job. This is not how I want to live my life, to be less than I can be, and to ineffective for the Lord. I believe that my time has come to leave UOPX for good, and I am ready to pursue any other job that will provide that opportunity to me, be it sales, marketing, IT or any flavor thereof.

Dear Lord,

I rest in your provision of a job for me. I am willing to accept any job that might suit our needs for the interim period. My goal is firmly fixed on Regent University and getting my PhD. I know the tasks I need to complete, and I know I need steady work (job/income) to provide for the necessities of my life. I am asking now for a job, just a job where I can earn a decent income, but not be so stressed that I cannot serve you in ministry, care for my family, and prepare for my doctoral studies. I ask now that you will provide this job to me. The sooner the better so that I can leave UOPX and start some new line of work. I ask this now in the Power of Jesus' Name. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

August 13, 2012

Day One

Today was a great day! My work stuff (UOPX) went well, even though I was bored most of the day. I kept busy with making some calls, and organizing my lead base. I had one so-so QC call, and then a student whom I had spoken with back in March called in to complete the online application. I got 2 hours talk time easily, and I felt much better leaving today with only 35 dials in the bucket.

I did speak with a friend of mine who has asked me to design his website. I am doing his site pro bono so that I can get back into gear and feel better about hanging out my shingle. I have a couple other jobs too, and I am finally feeling excited about the opportunity to start creating again.

I guess I finally got over my fear of failure. I guess I also realized that I really do know what I am doing, even if my skills are a bit rusty. All that knowledge is up in my noggin and it will come back to me with practice. I am really happy about this turn of events, and I am looking forward to starting my own business again.

I think I freaked out over my lack of understanding, and then I thought I needed the security of a paycheck. I tried to apply for some higher paying jobs, but nothing came of my time. I finally decided that I would not be happy any other place than right where God wants me to be, which is working from home. I am not trying to recreate my life from yesterday (in the past), no not at all. I am instead looking to the future and the promise of God to provide well for me. I am thinking that I am ready now, ready to do His work, and to accomplish His will. I don't want to be doing anything other than His work.

So today, I am once again stepping out in faith and taking the Lord at His Word to me. I am trusting Him for His promise of sufficiency and I am resting in the knowledge that with God all things are possible -- nothing is impossible for Him. I am believing in faith that this is what God wants me to do, and I am willing and agreeable to do this work now. I see that this is the only work I can do and enjoy, and that this work aligns with His will for my life. It is the kind of work I can do from home, and working from home aligns with His plans for my future. All in all, this is His Way, and I am embracing it today.

Dear Lord (Adonai),

Thank you for the opportunity to start this new business today. Thank you for your promise provision of client work. Thank you for all the tools and the money needed to purchase certain supplies. Thank you for the Grace to relearn how to do this work, and for the interest and desire to do it. Thank you, most of all, for your Power to be able to do this work well, and to be successful at it. I ask now in the Power of your NAME that you would bring me business, bring to me those individuals and companies who need my services. Build this business for your Name alone, and to bring you glory and honor. Teach me to walk with you humbly submitting to your will, and trusting you for your Grace to do everything that is asked of me. Increase my borders, Lord (Adonai), and enlarge my territory so that I can live prosperously and give generously to those who have need. I ask now Lord (Adonai) that you would do all this and more in Your Name, and for Your Praise, Honor, and Glory. Amen, So let it be. Selah!

August 12, 2012

Thinking About the Next Steps

It's been a really good Sunday. Even though I am struggling some with my monthly cycle, I am finally feeling better about things (in general). I have had the worst back ache this past week. Almost daily, my mid-back has ached, I mean really ached. It is part-and-parcel with what is happening internally, this I know, but still the pain was getting me down. I normally rely on Advil Liquid Gels which do the trick, however, lately they have not touched the pain. My Mom told me that I needed to switch to Tylenol (Dr's orders) because of what the research is showing as a result from taking too much Ibuprofen. I bought some two weeks ago, but didn't take any because in the past it never did much to diminish my headache/muscle ache pain. Today, though, I was fed up with the ache, and decided to give it a try. Thank goodness I did! My back ache went away, and I was pretty much pain free all day. My guess is that Ibuprofen is good for muscle strains, inflammation; but Tylenol is better for pain. In any case, I am feeling better, and for that, I am thankful.

Church this morning was great. This was our quarterly "Activate" Sunday, where our Children's Pastor brings the Sunday School message to the whole congregation. It was a good message, right on point with my inner struggles. I left feeling as though I had received a personal message from the Lord reminding me to be thankful for what I have today, and to not worry or fret about tomorrow's needs/wants. The whole message was on contentment, and in the end, the parting reminder was "You are OK now," meaning that while we may have had better times in the past, and while we do not know what tomorrow will bring -- today we are OK. God has provided what we need for today, and we are to give Him thanks for this provision.

Afterwards, my son and my DH (former/yet still) went to breakfast. I have been treating us to breakfast after church for the past couple weeks. It is one of the few times my DH can spend with our son, and I am able to do this (thank you, Jesus) so be it. We then went to Super Walmart so that he (DH) could do some shopping. I know that he is having a hard time, and that being carless has made it even harder on him. Later, my son and I came home, and both of us took long naps (I guess it is the heat -- 115 for the past week).

I woke up pretty refreshed, and feeling a little better physically. I didn't do much else, though now I am trying to catch up on some laundry (I need undies for work next week). It is funny how life goes, and how the choices we make, for good or ill, seem to define our very existence. I have spent the past couple months lamenting my work situation, complaining about my job, the tasks associated with that job and so on. My complaints weren't unfounded -- they were accurate -- nonetheless. It is just in light of today, I see how much I have focused on what I wanted and not on what I had.

This is why the message today resonated with me. I am content where I am, so be it. I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about the choices I made in the past, the choices that led to my breakup, and so forth. I have revisited those times in my mind, and have colored them as either worse or better than reality. In truth, they were what they were, but our mind likes to make things seem less than or more than what the truth tells us. I did this a lot, and even felt guilty over the decision I made to leave my husband. I have come a long way since that decision, and my life has not been all rosy and comfort. It has been good, and that is the crux of the matter. My life, for all it's warts and ugliness has been blessed by God, and His Grace and Provision have sustained me.

I may not be where I want to be yet, but at least I am not where I was. Joyce Meyer likes to say it this way, "I may not be where I need to be but I thank God I am not where I used to be." We can never go back, never go back to our past history. Like our story today in Church, the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, even after God had rescued them from the oppression of Pharaoh. They didn't like where they were (in the desert), and they couldn't seem to get a grasp on where they were going (to Canaan, the Promised Land). They were stuck in the middle of their journey, not where they were yet not where they were intended to be. They complained, they grumbled, and they were unhappy. God was with them, providing and protecting them, performing miracles in their lives, and still they were not content.

I have been this way too. I have been so unsettled by the fact that I cannot go back to where I used to be (at home, a wife and mother, so on), and I am not where I feel the Lord is leading me. I am in the middle, in the desert (literally) and at times it is very uncomfortable for me. God is here, He is providing and sustaining me. He gives to me blessing after blessing, but I still complain, I still grumble.

Today, I made up my mind to be happy in my lot in life. I have determined that it is better to be OK now, than to be miserable. I am content to be in this place, in this desert and barren valley. I am content to wait for tomorrow's blessing, and I am happy to be covered by His Grace and Mercy. I know God has good plans for my life, and He is working miracles in and through my days. He is doing this all for His Name and for His Glory, and I am receiving blessing in the experience. I may not have everything I want right now, but I have it very good. I am blessed. I am rich. I am OK.

Dear Lord (Adonai),

I praise your Name now and I thank you for what you have given to me. I am good. My life is good. Your blessing and mercy are always new, and every moment I am surrounded by your goodness. I trust you to complete your work, and to do what needs doing in and through my life. My your Name be praised today, and forever more. Amen, So let it be. Selah!

August 11, 2012

Ready to Start

Another week has passed by and I am OK. God is so very good to me.

Last week was probably one of the toughest I have had over the past six or seven months. I was oppressed, and I was feeling chastised by God. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I was miserable the entire week, and the more I tried to understand why I felt the way I did, the more confused and confounded I became. Thankfully, I made the decision to trust God, and in doing so, He graciously showed me the way out.

Friday was a much better day for me. Although nothing has changed externally, I feel changed internally. I am content to be where I am, and I am no longer feeling anxious or worried about the road ahead. I am confident that the plans the Lord has for my life are Good. I am also feeling certain that the path I am on is the path of the Lord's choosing. I may not understand what I am to do next, but I feel better about where I am at the moment. This is a very good thing, a very good thing.

Some things have changed at work, but again, nothing drastic. I am still in limbo, on a team without a manager. My Director has not said a word about who will take over our group, and the other manager who is filling in seems to be concerned only with timecards and temporary approvals for student progression. I was worried about having to be managed by this person.  She is a very nice lady, but I know her management style and my work style will clash. Moreover, I feel stressed whenever I think about her being my manager, and so for now, I am content to be manger-less for the next weeks.

What this means to me is simply that it is my responsibility to do my work each day. I have no one looking over me or making me do anything at all. I could slack off, as some have done when in similar situations, or I can keep on doing what the job requires. Now, it is certain that I don't like doing what the job requires, but for me, it is a mute point. As long as I remain in this job, then I have to do what is required of me. Pretty simple -- do the job you were hired to do.

I had an opportunity to interview for AT&T last week. I applied for a marketing position with one of their subsidiaries, and I actually got voicemail for a pre-screening interview. I called back to say that I would be available, and the next morning got an email saying "Thank you, but we've hired someone already." I was a little put off because I never got the chance to even speak with the HR person. Oh well, not meant to be, I guess.

This made me re-evaluate where I am right now, and where I need to be. I am working full-time, and while the job is not great, it is a job, and I am thankful for it. I don't know how much longer I will remain at this company, due to many factors, so for now I am content to just do the work. However, I know that I cannot remain there longterm because the job itself is not a good fit for me and I am not able to progress into a position that would suit my skills. Therefore, I have to wait this out until the Lord provides something else for me to do.

As I wait, I think about what I would like to do, and the opportunities that exist for me here in Phoenix (well, really anywhere). There are a lot of jobs, but there are a lot of people out of work. It is very competitive out there, and the candidates are being picked by hand. It is important to have an exact match to the qualifications an employer seeks or else you will not even be considered for a screening interview. This means that you can apply hundreds of times, and your resume will never been seen by the key person. It is frustrating, and it can be very depressing.

I think the depression is what gets to me most. When I feel that I am stuck, stuck where I am and where I think I should be seems closed off -- then I feel that crushing weight of helplessness. Depression is when you feel that you are helpless, that you have no way out, and the only thing you can do is sink down and sit until someone shows you another way. I have been depressed before, and unfortunately, I tend to suffer with mild depression. I have never gotten to the point where I needed medication, and thank the Lord, I have a great relationship with my Savior. My Savior's love is what sustains me, and His Word which promises me that there is always HOPE. Even when it seems so dark all around me, I remember that with God, there is only light. And, in that light is the blessed HOPE of a Loving and Gracious God. Yes, My God lives, and because He lives, I can live as well! God is so very good to me!

Now, I am faced with the next steps. I understand what has been, and I see what is before me. I am ready to start moving again, but this time with far greater humility and understanding. There is only one WAY, and it is His WAY. I no longer want my way, at any time -- I want His WAY always. I know that with Him, there will be good success, and a prosperous road. I know with Him, I will be safe and I will find good things to do, good work. I know that with Him, I don't have to be afraid of the unknown, because nothing is unknown to Him. Yes, God is Good all the time. God is so very good to me.

Now that I am at rest, I can start to think about what needs to be. I have some tasks to complete today and tomorrow, but for the most part, I am ready to go where He needs me to go. I am ready to walk His way, and to follow after Him. May God be praised today, I am ready.

August 5, 2012

Wrestling with God

Today's message by Pastor Tammy Jo Hallem was great. This was the last of our six-part series on the life of Jacob. This last message was a confirmation of sorts to me, who after struggling over the last weeks and months working in a job that literally wiped me out, has come to terms with my life, and the road ahead.

At work a couple weeks ago, our Vice President gave a message to the division entitled, "The Road Behind or the Road Ahead." It was a state of the division sort of presentation, a way for her to bring everyone up to date on what the status is for the company, the results and outcomes of the previous quarter, etc. You know, a "here is where we are, and here is where we should be" type of message. Afterwards, the managers asked all their staff to give a quick summary on what they thought the "nuts and bolts of the message" was and then to share that anonymously with upper management. I didn't do it, not so much because I didn't want to do it, but rather because I forgot that it was due (absentminded me!)

Well, I got feedback from some of my team members and they pretty much agreed with my feeling that the sentiment was "be happy you have a job, work harder, and hopefully things will get better." The point being that you can either work harder or find another job.

In light of the message today, I started to think about my views on working harder, and on what I have been struggling with (wrestling with) these past few months. I have blogged here before, but to recap briefly, I am on Manager #4 (still unnamed) in less than seven months. Moreover, besides the people being walked out the door, many managers and staff have left for other positions elsewhere. This being said, the environment at work is pallid at best. It is a daily grind, and it is getting harder and harder to maintain a good attitude. The prevailing wind is pressing down asking for more and more, but without any assurance of security. I already work hard, and after one year of really giving it my best, I have decided to resign (hopefully by the week's end).

Back to my point about today's sermon -- Tammy made a statement that stuck with me. She said that sometimes God allows certain struggles to come into our lives so that we surrender to God's control. In the case of Jacob, this was certainly true. Jacob suffered a life-long injury due to his wrestling with God (Gen. 32:22-26). He was changed by his face to face encounter with the Living God, and he never ever was the same. He became Israel after this point, and he took on the role of patriarch of the twelve tribes. A big promotion from the little guy who hid out in the garden, afraid of his older hunter brother. Yes, Jacob, the supplanter, the trickster, became one of the Great Patriarchs over the nation Israel.

I thought about my life, and especially my recent afflictions. I know that I have a hip/thigh injury, sustained during my time at Macy's, that simply will not heal. It is something I have prayed about, and I know that it is something I will have to live with as a reminder of my willfulness and stubbornness when it comes to doing things my own way. God has chosen not to remove this affliction from me, and I have had to learn how to live with it.  As a result, I am very sensitive to pain in that area, and I struggle with not making decisions that could adversely harm me. In short, I am afraid to make choices that might hurt me in the long run.

I have considered my job, my daily work, and in thinking about moving to another company, I have been unwilling to do what the Lord was asking me to do. Too many times now He has asked me if I was ready to move. I said yes, but then nothing happened. He told me to be prepared and I said OK, and then did nothing. I have sat here wrestling with God, crying out in pain, and suffering the mental anguish of a boring and dead-end job all because I was unwilling to go and follow where the Lord was leading me to go.

I made the decision today to go. He has said to me repeatedly, "Go," and yet, I stayed put. I didn't go. Now, granted, I wasn't really sure where I was to go, and I was confused about the going part. Yet, the Lord gave me the "go" and I didn't do anything with it. I stubbornly refused to go and allow the Lord to grow me up simply because I was afraid of making a mistake. Yes, the truth and the hard light is that I was afraid of going because of the past (that road behind) that was littered with mistakes and poor choices. The road ahead is filled with potholes, I am sure; but sitting still and not moving forward and hoping to go backwards will never get you to where the Lord wants you to be. Enough said on that point.

Today is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

Yes, today is the day the Lord is calling me to surrender to my fear, to let go of my worries and doubts, and to trust Him to provide a new way for me. I am to walk out in boldness, and to not look  back. I am to follow after Him, to rely upon Him, and to wait for Him to provide all my needs. He has supplied all my needs through the riches and glory of Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). I am well, I am good, and my God has provided a new way for me this day.

May God be praised forever more through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Thinking Things Through

God is so very good to me. Yesterday, I came to the decision that while I want to be self-employed, I am not ready to give up some of the perks that come with working for a company. I also considered that perhaps I could work for another company for a time only, but during those months or even years, I could develop key skills that would enable me to be a consultant and eventually work on my own. I have time, really I do. I will be 50 this October, so I can invest a couple years of my time to developing my skills. I know that I want to stay at home, but I cannot go back to the day when I was a SAHM. Those days are behind me, and I don't have that luxury (of working part-time and having someone else do my sales work). I also know that working during the week is not the issue. I thought it was, but now I am thinking it is the kind of work I do, that causes the problems for me. Let me explain...

When I worked at Macy's, I had no issues going to work. Even when I was bored, and there were nights when the store was empty, I still went to work. Perhaps it was because I knew that Macy's was temporary work for me. I was working part-time only, and a family member was helping me cover my bills (with a small stipend each month).

I didn't like the work, and it was debilitating to me. I needed work that didn't involve standing all day, so looking at UOPX and the choice of a desk job suited me. However, while I sit all day, I am suffering nonetheless. In this job, I am bored with the actual work. At Macy's, I had to be busy, and that meant at times straightening racks that had already been straightened. There was always work to do, so it was only in the hour before closing that I watched the clocked.

At UOPX, all I do is watch the clock. I count the hours until lunch, and then I count the hours AND minutes until I get to clock out. I sit most of the day, either in mind-numbing activities like dialing numbers of people who inquired in 2000 -- and are no longer interested -- or waiting for that one call per day to come into me so I can assist a student. My attitude is the worst it has been, and I feel so tired all the time. I know that for me boredom is not having enough to engage my mind. I need to be busy, and whether that busy work is putting clothes away or doing some type of analysis, I need to keep my mind engaged.

I am not sure I am ready for a full-on sales job. I am willing to consider it though simply because I can earn a lot of money, and money is something I need. While I am not to focus on money, I do know that it is better to have more than less. God is good all the time, and He has Graciously provided for me, and will continue to provide for me. I know this, but now I am thinking whether I should work from home or work for someone else for a while longer.

"Oh, Lord -- what am I to do?"

I can tell you that yesterday, right after I voiced my feelings on design, I FELT better immediately. In fact, I had zero stress for the rest of the day. I woke up today without a headache (PTL!) and I have only a slight backache (hip pain really). So what gives? I have been trying and trying to figure out how to be a designer. I have asked the Lord for His help, and He has Graciously provided tools and training, etc. I have done what has been asked of me, with exception to recreating my design for my own site. I guess I am unsure what to make of my feelings, my emotions and my physical health.

I need to do some research into the matter.

Well, maybe. The truth be told, I know this: peace is the key to happiness -- both in person and in spirit. Peace comes from resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and it is the only way to be happy inside (mentally, emotionally, spiritually speaking). Physical ills are often caused by stress, and stress is caused when there is a lack of peace. If our Lord promised us His Peace, then why do we suffer with the feeling that there is no peace in our life?

"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 NLT

Joyce Meyer says that we should always seek peace when it comes to making decisions. Often, if we lack peace, we need to stop and consider moving forward with something. She says it is OK to turn around and go back to avoid costly mistakes. This is from her book, "21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness,"

Peace is our inheritance from Jesus, but we have to choose to
follow Him daily. Colossians 3:15 teaches us that peace is to be the
“umpire” in our lives, settling every issue that needs a decision. To
gain and maintain peace in our hearts, we may have to learn to say
no to a few things. 
For example, if we don’t feel peace about something, we should
never go ahead and do it. And if we don’t have peace while we are
doing something, then we shouldn’t expect to have peace after we
have done it. Many people marry others they didn’t have peace
about marrying, and then they wonder why they don’t have peace
in their marriages. Many people buy expensive items they didn’t
have peace about buying, then continue to lose their peace every
month when they have to make payments on them.

And then in closing, she says:

Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace from Christ
“rule (act as umpire continually)” in our hearts. The presence of
peace helps us decide and settle with finality all questions that arise
in our minds. If you let the Word have its home in your heart and
mind, it will give you insight and intelligence and wisdom (see v.
16). You won’t have to wonder, Should I or shouldn’t I?

(You can read the excerpt here,

Alright, so considering this verse, what can I learn from the Word today? I believe God's Word most certainly, and if I don't have peace about something, then I need to give heed to that feeling. Peace is a state of harmony, so it would mean to say that when you feel peace, you are in harmony with God's will. Conversely, it could be said that if there is no peace, then you are not in harmony with His will on that specific thing, item or way. Does that mean that the way is wrong? Or perhaps the choice is not meant to be at this time and place in your life?

I am still uncertain, and that is not a good thing either.

This is what I know. I have no peace at my present employer. I am trying very hard to do a good job, but the stress to perform is overwhelming to me. My attitude drains away from me as soon as I pull into the parking lot. I am not happy there, and while happiness is fleeting, and not a good indicator for our life choices, it is certainly a symptom of either peace or unrest. Therefore, I know this -- where I am now is not where I am supposed to be.

So, if I follow along with that line of thinking, then I need to consider options for going where I need to be. First of all, I must choose Matthew 6:33 -- seeking His Kingdom first always. Ok, done. I know what I am to do in regard to that path. I am to put the things that matter to Him first in my life. Job is not a high priority and neither is making a good income. The Lord will provide to me, so I don't have to worry about job security or provision.

What then do I need to worry about? Well, really nothing at all. If I am truly seeking the Lord in all things, putting His Kingdom first, then I should be at rest. The Lord says to me, "Trust me." I hear these words echo in and out of my brain -- it is a constant reminder to me to remain in a faithful and dependent relationship with Him. If I say I trust (believe) Him, then I must remain in that condition of active belief. I know this, I know my doctrine, and I know what it means to be faithful.

Why then do I struggle so much? Why then do I fret and fear about tomorrow? Why do I allow the stress of making dials, having student conversations, etc. rule over me and cause me to worry and be anxious?

My faith is misplaced if I think that a job could supplant the Word of the Lord. May it never be. It doesn't matter what I do for "work" so long as it is an honorable type of work. Does it have to be ministry focused? No. Does it have to suit me or sit well with me? No, not really (though a better suited position does make it easier to enjoy life). Do I need to make X dollars each month to be secure? No, again, not if I am relying on the Lord for His provision.

Ok, so in summary, this is where I stand. It doesn't matter what kind of work I do, so long as "I do it until to the Lord." (Col. 3:23)

What kind of work then is available to me? Pretty much any kind. A better question might be, "What kind of work is realistic for me to do?" Yes, this is probably more accurate. I mean, I could be a teacher, but can I get hired as a teacher without a credential (not likely) or teaching experience (so far, no). Therefore, becoming a teacher is a viable path, but one that may require a lot more work, time, and schooling. It might also not be worth the effort to accomplish those items > income, availability, security, placement > could all prove not a good ROI.

I can do what I know, which is web design. I know how to design web sites, but I have not been able to learn how to do that again. It has taken a lot of effort and energy for me to relearn this skill. Moreover, the climate seems dicey at best. I mean, people can make template sites for free or for low hosting cost, and they look really, really nice. Will someone pay me to do this work for them? I believe that the answer is Yes, but only if the Lord brings those people to me.

I can do administrative work, but the pay is very low (average $10-13 per hour). I need to make at least $20 per hour (what I earn now) to be able to live comfortably. Now, I don't mean to gripe about it, but the truth of the matter is that I really need to make somewhere between $25-30 per hour so that I can invest in 401K and plan for my retirement. As a single person, I have to make more money since I don't have the blessing of a husband to contribute to our long-term care.

I can do sales and marketing. I have never formally done this kind of work, but I have supported my husband in that line of work. I am very good at it, and it is the one position that allows me maximum income opportunities. Coupled with my knowledge of technology, I really should be able to work in this industry, in some capacity and earn a good income.

Alright, so now that I have identified possible targets, I guess I need to consider if I am willing to do a different kind of work, even for the short term. The answer to this question must be "Yes, I am willing." The Lord knows what I can and cannot do (He tells me this all the time), and therefore, He will not put me into a job that would overwhelm me or hurt me (Jer. 29:11).

Dear Lord,

I think I understand what is going on. I have wanted to be self-employed, which is clearly part of your will for my life. However, I have not wanted to go back to web design. I have had a lot of opportunities to do this kind of work, but when I am offered them, I always turn them down. I don't see myself sitting behind a computer writing HTML code day in and day out. I see myself in a different way now, a new way. And, in that way, I want to try new things, to explore new opportunities for growth and development. I also want to move into positions that support your will, align with your plans for my life and future ministry. I need to be all about your Kingdom, and I need to be willing AND agreeable to doing any kind of work that will take me where you are leading. I let go today, Lord. I will rest in your Power, and Provision, and I will trust you for your Protection upon my life. You are able to bring me to the kind of job that will suit your needs, and provide well for me and my extended family. I will not be afraid to go in this direction, and I ask now for peace in my heart and mind, so that I can let this be, and let your Kingdom be first in my life. I ask all this now in the Powerful NAME of Jesus. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and think calmly about that!!)

August 4, 2012

Slow Down and Turn Around

Ok, so I took yesterday off without pay (half day) just so I could relax and feel better. I have been dealing with migraines for the past two weeks, and while I believe they are weather related, there is a part of me that thinks good ol' stress is really the culprit.

Today, I spent about half the morning suffering with a tension headache. I finally found some relief with a combination of a good breakfast and two extra-strength liquid Advil's (my lifesavers). It still took more than an hour for the pain to subside, but during that time, something happened to me that made me rethink my dreams last night (oh, did I mention I had some pretty weird dreams?) and the headaches/stress/fatigue of the past several weeks.

It really started this morning when I felt the Lord prompting me to login to the career boards for another look at jobs. I was set on returning to my business as a designer, even having ordered business cards, etc. I have struggled with being comfortable with going back into that business -- but I did do what I thought the Lord asked of me -- to prepare and design a website so I could open for clients. Some how today just seemed to slip by me, and before I knew it, I had applied to several sales type positions and never did get that redesign online.

Later, I went to Walmart to pick up a couple items for the weekend. I prayed throughout my drive there, and even while I was in the store. I asked the Lord for guidance to help me understand His will for me regarding the "job" or daily income-producing work He wants me to do. I was uncertain whether I made the best choice of my time, and whether applying for sales positions was the right move for me.

Truthfully, I detest sales. I happen to be really, really good at selling (thanks to 25 plus years of marriage to a salesperson).  My former DH tells me all the time that I could make a lot of money in sales because I am so good at it. I shrug it off, not wanting to even GO THERE with that kind of talk. Yet, today I applied to two major companies for B2B Sales work. Will I get hired? Who really knows, I just felt like it was worth my time to apply.

As I was driving home, I prayed again about this job and whether I was doing the right thing. I said these words (or set of words) and then I heard the Lord reply to me:

"Lord, I don't want to sit in front of a computer all day long and design websites again. I want to be free to come and go, and I want to do work that affords me great opportunity for income. I also want to be able to come home at night and rest -- watch TV. I want to spend my weekends enjoying my parents and my son, and I want to travel and enjoy life."

I realized as soon as the words came out of my mouth what the hold has been with me going back into my business. I don't want to do this kind of work. Yes, I was good at it. I survived twelve years, earning a decent living working from home while I home schooled my son. I am now almost 50 and my interests have changed. I want money, retirement plans and I want to start living. Yes, working from home can afford that to me, and I know the Lord would provide abundantly for me. But I would rather do something different.

Is this wrong of me? Is this just me not trusting the Lord for His provision of self-employment?

I don't know, I guess we will have to wait and see. All I know is that I feel better, less stressed, and ready to just rest and relax. I don't want to do a job that consumes me, but I also don't want to be bored. I need a different job, and I realized today that I had the power to choose a different job. I may not get hired, and it will be up to the Lord to provide, but I am willing to consider working in a different type of work so long as it aligns with His will and is acceptable to Him.

Dear Lord,

I am trusting you. I believe that you will make me a success -- whether I stay at home and do design work or sell something for a business or corporation. I am tired. I want to have more freedom and control over my future, and I want to do something and be paid better for doing it. I pray now that no matter what happens, I am willing and agreeable to your will. I am trusting you now, and I ask in the Power of Your NAME to provide some opportunity to me. I will work from home or I will work for some other company. I let go, I let it be, and I am choosing now to rest in your complete and utter care and provision of all my needs. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

August 3, 2012

More Progress

Oh WOW! I am so jazzed today. First of all, I have learned so much about my life, my prior decisions, and how those decisions/choices affected the outcome of my experience. Much of this I already knew, but it was sweet to be reminded of it, and to then think upon the point again. Time spent in reflection often enhances our perspective, and sometimes when we revisit specific events, we draw new meaning from them. In my case, this is exactly what happened to me. Let me explain.

About two weeks ago, I started to take a step of faith forward and I made the bold move to go back into the web business. I was frustrated with work, with changes, and with the lack of career progression, so I had been looking for other work, other jobs. I had some interviews, but each time, I would drive home scratching my head and wondering aloud: "What are you doing, Carol? Do you really want to swap your current job for another that is similar?" In truth, the answer came back to me with a resounding "thud!" No, I didn't want another job, in fact, I didn't want any job. I wanted to stay at home, and I wanted my old life back, the life where I worked from home, homeschooled, and lived in relative freedom from the "cage of 9-5." The truth of course was and is that my old life is gone now. I cannot go back to it, and I will never be able to live that way again. However, there was a kernel within that spoke to my heart, and I realized that what I really wanted was to be working in a job that suited my skills, adapted to my needs, and fulfilled the Lord's will for my life.

I asked the Lord for His input, and He told me that the only job that would work for me was for me to work from home again. I was hesitant to accept that simply because it means relying on the Lord instead of a company for my bi-weekly pay. I am no "nube" as my son would say it, so relying on the Lord has been something I have come to do. I am comfortable with our relationship. He provides, and I trust Him to provide. I am not perfect by any means, but I am learning to be still and wait on Him. Selah!

Well, back to two weeks ago. I bought business cards, and I set out to design a website for myself. I downloaded the free trials of Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and then I tried my best to create a site. It only took me two weeks, two horrible long and grueling weeks, until I realized that something wasn't working for me. I grinded out a simple CSS layout design, put it online and said, "Lord, is this OK?" Well, yes and no. I did what I could but even I knew it wasn't good enough.

The problem is/was two-fold. It has been three years since I was actively designing websites. I had a flourishing business at one time, but I wasn't content in it, never saw any real payment, and finally after being fed up/burnt out, I closed it down. I walked away, and I was determined to do something different.

I wanted to teach, and with my Masters coming to a close, I thought "surely the Lord will provide a teaching job for me?" No job in that arena ever materialized. I tried to find work in my field, working in design for someone else, and nothing came to pass there either. Then I got hired at UOPX, and I started to work in Higher Education. I thought, "this is it. The Lord will move me up in this company, and I will be able to stay here until I retire."

It has been one year of very hard work, and finally the door to any movement within this company has slammed shut. I can remain where I am at, kill myself with boredom, or I can move on.

I started looking for web design jobs back in February. I was afraid to leave UOPX, so I shuffled around and tried to find good work inside the company. No luck. I kept getting calls from recruiters asking me to work in design, and I weakly said "sure." But every interview just reinforced to me that I would only be happy if I was working on my own from home.

Back to today, and what happened next. After I did my stint at Target, put my new chair together, and got settled to do some "real work," the Lord showed me a design tool that I had not previously seen. I mean I had looked at oodles, downloaded a number, tried them out, and pronounced with no uncertain terms that I had had it, that I was no good, and that this business was a MISTAKE!

I was in a better frame of mind today, so I downloaded it and installed it on my Mac. It works like a charm, is simple and will enable me to design sites without all the visual-clutter of these other so-called HTML/WEB editors.

I still need to register my version of Photoshop, and I will do that tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes, I now have what I need to do this work. I have an editor I can use on the Mac, Photoshop, and a plethora of design ideas to get me back in the game. Moreover, I have my first job (well, not paid, but hey that is OK). I actually have several unpaid jobs, and I do intend to do them all so that I can build up my portfolio and get back to business again.

I am leaving the marketing to the Lord, and I know He will help me find business. Until then, I have some tasks to complete this weekend. I need to complete my own site, and then create a marketing flyer to send out to interested clients. I need to be prepared to step out on my own on Monday, and I am ready to receive business.

I am excited, and I am grateful. God is so very GOOD to me!

Making Progress

After updating my blog for the umpteenth time, I headed out to Target. I needed to get a dessert to take to Chamber today. I am sad because Betsy Morrow, one of our high school students, is leaving to go away to college. I have played in Chamber with Betsy for two years, and she is such a fine violinist. Although I am really happy for her -- hey -- she needs to go to school and find her passion and develop her love for God (which she is doing, happily!) -- I will still miss her every Friday afternoon. She is always so cheerful and happy -- a real joy to know.

So I went to Target, and I came home with a new desk chair. I bought the cheap one, only $20, and I am not sure if I like it. I am used to a nice chair at UOPX, but my old wooden chair was given my backside an ache, so we will see if this works out better. At the least, I am at a better height and also my feet are flat on the floor (a good thing for posture).

Well, that is all for now -- I need some lunch, and then will have to get to work (love it -- work!)

Powerful Testimony

Oh, how Good God is today!

I just finished getting dressed, and ready to make my "to-do" list for the day, when the Lord said, "Let's set up a testimony today." I said OK, of course, but thought "what kind of testimony do you want, Lord?" Then I remember last Sunday's message on Jacob, and the previous messages where Jacob set up a pillar of stones at Bethel. Last Sunday, the story from Genesis recounted the testimony established between Jacob and Laban -- a sort of -- hands off "you stay away from me, and I will stay away from you" kind of business. I was thinking "stones" being setup, but here I am back on my blog, so perhaps I am to write something down??

I sat down at the computer, checked my email, and there popped a message from an old homeschooling friend. My friend was writing to ask my advice about her 11th grade daughter's curriculum for this year.  We were homeschooling buddies, long distance friends (me in Az, and she in IL), and we corresponded daily during the summer prep time before the new year would begin. Then throughout the year, we commiserated with one another on our failed choices, our kids who didn't do what they were supposed to do, and so on. She was a great source of support during my marriage crisis, and she propped me up whenever I felt so very low.

Today, she thanked me for my years of help to her children, and all the advice I had given to her in support of her homeschooling efforts. Her email came at the exact moment when the Lord was asking me to post a testimony to His Name. So here I am, posting this short little testimony to the faithfulness of God.

God provided friends to me during those rocky and turbulent years. He provided seasoned homeschoolers who guided me, advised me, and supported me when no one else would do so. He gave me a curriculum to use, Ambleside Online, so that I didn't have to spend hardly any money on books and materials. He gave me an advisory board who provided intensive instruction in how to get started, and then laid out weekly plans so that all I had to do was create a weekly schedule and 'do' the work. I learned so much from my AO support group, and in turn, I offered my own experience and testimony to others just coming up behind me. I still get emails from people thanking me for my curriculum, for my lesson plans and charts, and for my advice on parenting their children.

Throughout my six years as a homeschooling parent, I never felt more in control and in power than when I was creating curriculum for my son's next year. Sure I fretted over it, and sometimes I agonized the decision. But I always felt that we did something good, and my son grew and progressed, and developed into a Godly young man. I faced so much criticism during those years, mostly from my parents and extended family who didn't think I was doing "best" by my son. They believed I coddled him, and kept him from experiencing the "real world." They never understood his needs or the fact that in my life, homeschooling was God's plan for me and for my son. I never wavered in my belief that this was my calling -- a secondary calling to teach my child at home. I quiver now when I say the words because God had called me to be a teacher back when I was first in college. I knew it, and I wanted to do it. But my parents said no, and I ended up taking a very different path. In hindsight, I see that I actually did teach -- just not in a large classroom -- but nonetheless I taught school.

Moreover, in the past thirty years, I have taught children through Sunday school programs, AWANA and camp. I have been actively involved in Children's Ministry for years -- again -- teaching children and parents how to love God and raise Godly children. My life has been full of teaching, and here I sit now pondering that very realization. God gave me everything He desired to give me -- a life filled with teaching (not a career, but a life), and a way to work at home so I could teach my son.

I give testimony to God today because He delivered to me the kind of life He desired me to have. Yes, I didn't do what He was asking me to do originally, and even though I disobeyed His call, when I was faithful to return to it, the Lord blessed me and gave me "another way" to accomplish His will for my life.

God is GOOD that way. He never gives up on us. He never quits trying to get us to let go, to let Him have His way in our lives. When we live fully surrendered, we receive the blessings He has in mind for us. He brings His LIFE into ours and we are blown away by His Graciousness. He gives to us every GOOD and PERFECT gift -- all because we allow Him to have His way in us.

Dear Father,

I am surrendered to you now, and I see that you gave to me everything you promised me. I messed up, I took the wrong path, and I suffered the consequences of that choice. You gave me in your Gracious Compassion your gift regardless of my choice. I was blessed with a life filled with teaching children, a love for children and a heart for ministering to parents of children. You blessed me with a child of my own, and the opportunity to teach him at home. You gave me opportunity to impact the lives of parents and to encourage them in their efforts to raise Godly children. I have lived a life blessed, full and overflowing with your Gracious Mercy and Love. I praise you now, and I thank you for all you have done in my life. I am ready now to take the next step in my life, to move forward into the life you have prepared for me today. It is different than the past forty years, and with this testimony, I mark the passage of that time. The past is behind, and the future lays ahead. May your will be done in every area of my life, and may I experience your Gracious Compassion as you guide me through the next forty years of my ministry and service to you and your HOLY NAME.

I confess this now, and write this testimony to give you Praise and Honor and Glory. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah (pause, and calmly think about it!)

Step Two: The Job

So with things set in their proper order, I am ready to define the next step -- the job or tasks I need to do to provide for my daily well-being. I know that I must never confuse His Work with the job I do each day to provide for my family. The Lord provides the work, and I do it -- this I know and accept. However, I have in the past spent so much time focusing on the job, that I have not focused on His work. This has caused a lot of health issues for me, and it has caused many delays in successfully moving forward in my life. I am done with the headaches, the back strain, and the feeling of being stuck in cement. To move forward, I must press on, and to press on, I must focus on the tasks that the Lord has assigned to me. My focus needs to be narrow, and I need to commit to doing what He asks of me each day. I am ready, Lord -- send me!

What to do to provide steady income for my life?

This has been the major focus of my life over the past ten to twenty years. Having worked from home in a part-time capacity, I struggled with working and being a stay at home Mom. I loved being a Mom, and it was all I wanted to do. I loved raising my child, making and keeping a home, and spending all my time doing family things. This was my life, and while I felt out of it when compared to friends who had chosen work/career over their families (or tried to do both), I reminded myself that my "work" was to be a Mom. I believed that I was called to be a Mom. It was the job God gave to me the day I found out I was pregnant with my child. I knew then that I could only do one job, and that job was to raise my son.

I cried, and I fretted for years over the fact that I wasn't able to do another calling in my life. When I was 16, I received the call to work in missions, to live my life wholly devoted to God, and to spend my days in pursuit of Him. I knew it, I knew it, and yet, I chose to follow a different path. It was not God's intention for me to be married. I have always known this, and in my heart, it grieved me that I didn't obey the Lord when He called me to live a life of single-hood. The Lord had specific plans for my life back then, and those plans, now coming to pass were to teach, and then later in life to travel abroad and minister to the people in Berlin, Paris, and northern Italy (Bologne). I was to go on to graduate school after finishing my Bachelor's, but instead I had a child. Now, all this was part of God's plan -- and I don't really like to think otherwise because the child I received is the greatest gift, next to my Savior!

I knew then I had made the wrong choice, followed the wrong path, etc. God in His Grace gave me a child, and at that time, gave me the call to be a Mom. Letting go of the other call was the hardest thing I had to do, but His Holy Spirit kept telling me to let it go, to let this be, and I did. I became a Mom, and experienced such great joy in my life. In fact, the only joy I had was in being a Mom. My marriage was not good, my married life was difficult and often painful. I found great joy in raising my son, and to this day, I thank God for his life. He has blessed me beyond blessing with the gift of a son.

Now years later, I am single of sorts. I am raising my child still, but I am also reconnected to that original call on my life. I am doing what God intended me to do in the first place, and I am blessed. I have picked up that call, and at this very late stage in my life, I am slowly accomplishing the various tasks associated with His will for my life.

The point of struggle for me has been what to do for work. I know that I was meant to teach, however, I have tried to return to that work several times, and clearly that path is blocked. I am not meant to teach now -- this was the job the Lord had chosen for me when I was 21, and not 50. Therefore, what job can I do now?

I have spent the past fifteen years as a creative designer. I like this term because it does represent me more accurately than to say web designer. Yes, I did design for the web, but I did so much more than that during those years. I have tried to return to this work, but my heart was not in it. I knew five years ago that the Lord wanted me to remain in this work. He and I spoke about it at length, but I wasn't at a place of faith where I could trust that He would provide for me. I didn't know Him well enough back then, well enough to see that with God all things are possible (Luke 1:37). Now, I know Him well. I trust Him, and my faith is strong. I know what I can and cannot do, and I know that He can do whatever He determines is best -- so long as I allow Him to do it.

Twice now I have made the decision to go back into this line of work. Twice my path has been blessed. Twice I hiccuped and changed my mind, and twice I was plunged down into miserableness. They say that the third time is the charm, so I am ready now to do this work -- third time, third time will be the last.

The Plans for my JOB are simple. I will do this kind of work again, from home. I am relying on the Lord for His provision of clients, and for good projects. I cannot do it on my own, but I can do anything so long as God is in it. I am waiting for Him to provide clients, and until then I am obeying His command to "be prepared."

Step Three: Doing the Work

As God blesses me, I will continue to grow and prosper in this work. I know the plans I have for you says the Lord...

"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." Jer. 29:11 NLT