September 29, 2012

Job Update

As of yesterday, I finished my first two weeks at my new job as an Analyst for CVS Caremark. So far so good! I was a little unsettled to start, but now, think that it was more about nerves and being in a new situation. Also, having my stress level ramped up for over 15 months, I think I needed some time to decompress and relax. Moreover, part of me was hoping that this job was "IT!" [Yes, I am still looking for the "perfect job."] This is something that I have to stop doing because the Lord has clearly told me that the only perfect job is the one I do for Him. In short, my work/my ministry is my perfect job. No other earthly job will fill that spot, and no other career choice will meet my soul-needs, and satisfy my inner desire to be successful and prosperous in a Kingdom way. I know this, yet, part of me keeps hoping that the job I do will provide satisfaction to me.

I am not totally off the mark here because the Lord has provided a very good job to me. He has provided work that is practical and that fits my lifestyle. It is a good job, with good pay and benefits. It also is close to home, and offers opportunity for growth. Is it a perfect fit? No. It is good. I like it, and I like my team, and I can see myself being happy in the work once I am fully settled, fully decompressed, and fully ready to concentrate on His work again.

His work is pretty clear to me:
  • I am to finish applying to Regent University
  • I am to go there and study Communication
  • I am to work on learning French and German
  • I am to continue my cello studies
  • I am to continue to support my son as he matures to an adult
  • I am to help him with school so he can accomplish the plans the Lord has for him
  • I am to continue to love and support my parents (helping them as I am able to do so)
  • I am to focus on these things above all else, and trust that the job will provide enough for me to live comfortably and well
So really nothing has changed for me -- EXCEPT -- for the job. I left UOPX and some very good friends for a new job in a new location. I am in a better environment, and I have better opportunities in my new company. I am making more money, and I have a good flexible schedule. Plus I have a really cool office and I am in a very nice building (location as well as interior space -- good lighting, good vibes). Overall, God has provided a very good job to me. I am blessed, I am thankful, and I lift up a sacrifice of Praise to the One who rules over every area of my life! God is so very GOOD to me!

September 23, 2012

I Can Do This

I just finished reading "The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Mind to Think Like a Thin Person," by Dr. Judith Beck. WOW! What a transformational experience. I am now trying to implement her cognitive therapy suggestions to overcome negative thinking and behavioral habits. I know I can do this, I know I can do this!

My Weight Loss Journey

I have always been a thin person. In fact, growing up, I was considered painfully thin. I had boney shoulder blades, and twiggy arms and legs. I was so thin that when I turned sideways, I was like a pancake (no hips, no butt and no bosom). Of course, I was also a late bloomer, and I finally did blossom. I ended up with a rather hourglass figure, but even still, I was thin.

In high school, my height was about 5'5-5'6 inches, and I weighed between 106 (Freshman) and 118 (Senior). In college, I kept my weight to about 123, and it wasn't for 5-6 years before I settled on 132-135. When I was pregnant with my son, my starting weight was 145 and my ending weight was 164. I was 30 at the time. It took me about 8 weeks to lose the baby weight and get back into my size 6 jeans. Again, my shape changed post-baby and I was more hippy and bigger on top -- but I still stayed about the same weight for a long while.

In 1996, we left San Jose and moved to Phoenix. Between then and 2000 when my parents retired and moved here, my weight went up from 145 to 170. I didn't really realize it, and it wasn't until 2001 when I joined Weight Watchers with my Mom that I was confronted with the reality of my weight gain. I stuck with WW for the 10 weeks, and then continued to follow the program on my own for six months. By my one year anniversary with WW, I had lost a total of 35 pounds. I was wearing size 4 jeans and slacks, and my bra size dropped from a size 36DD to a size 34D.

I kept most of this weight off for 4-5 years, but started to overeat and eat for emotional reasons in 2006-2007. I gained slowly, just about 5-10 lbs per year. I covered myself up well, and in 2010, stepped on the scale and realized that I was back to 155.

In 2011, when I started working at UOPX, I was at 155. In the 15 months of working in this very stressful and food-filled environment (not to mention my life change, separation from my husband, moving out on my own, graduate school, etc.) I gained 12 lbs. I stepped on the scale back in April, and I was up to 167.

I partnered with a team member and we started a diet program (she counted calories, and I followed Atkins). I lost 6 lbs in two weeks on the program, and then gave in to temptation and cravings. My goal was to lose all the weight, to get back to 130-135 permanently. My initial target date was July 7 -- my nephew's wedding -- and I had hope to be down 10-15 lbs. I did make 160 at the wedding, which was a start. My clothes fit me a little better than they had two months earlier, but I was still far from my target weight of 135.

Since then I have tried to do WW again, and I also tried to do the Paleo diet. I haven't been able to stick to anything. My weight has been yo-yoing -- up to 164, and then down to 161.5. I cannot break past 160, and get moving down to where I need my weight to be.

I found Dr. Beck's book on Amazon, and I went and purchased a copy at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. I know myself well, and I know that I am an emotional eater. I know that I sabotage my thinking with fear based statements that make me feel as though I deserve to eat whatever I want to eat. I know that I am preoccupied with my weight too and that I fear the scale. I struggle with food choices, and with exercise. Moreover, I feel awful. I mean I am suffering with headaches, stomach issues, bloating, gas, and general fatigue. I know that I have no energy to do anything other than sleep and work.

I also have pain -- arthritis and back pain. I know that when I lost weight before, most of my physical pain went away. I felt better, had more energy, and I was not miserable all the time.

So today, I decided to stop the yo-yo, and to start taking control of my weight again. I did it before, and I can do it again. I know what triggers my negative thinking, and I know that I indulge in fear based reasoning which gives me permission to overeat.

Part of Dr. Beck's Program is to counteract negative thinking and behaviors with confident and empowering statements on why weight loss is important to you. One thing she asks her patients to accept is that getting healthy (eating well and living well) is a life-time process. You cannot lose the weight and then go back to eating the way you want. For permanent weight loss, you have to start thinking like a thin person. You have to say NO and mean it -- and say it for the right reasons. Those reasons are personal, and they are different for each person. For me, my desire to lose weight is summed up in the following response:

  1. I will feel better
  2. I will look better in my clothes
  3. I won't think about my weight all the time
  4. I will have more energy
  5. I will have a longer life
  6. My back won't hurt so much
  7. I will like the way I look in the mirror
  8. I will be able to exercise more
  9. I will be more confident
  10. I will be able to travel comfortably
Secondly, I know that I have to institute some behaviors that will help me remain in control and keep my eating under check. For me, these behaviors will support my desire to lose weight and will not indulge my cravings and desires.
  1. I will schedule my meals every day
  2. I will sit down when I eat
  3. I will eat slowly and chew every morsel carefully
  4. I will not give in to cravings and desires for food (understanding hunger signals)
  5. I will accept that I have NO CHOICE when it comes to weight loss (I either lose the weight or I remain as I am now -- miserable and self-condemned)
  6. I will choose to respond with "Oh well" whenever I have to say no to something I want
  7. I will exercise for 30 minutes each day
  8. I will hydrate myself well so my body is not confused about thirst and hunger
  9. I will credit myself for my good behaviors and attitudes
  10. I will remind myself of why I need to lose weight (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly)
Lastly, I know that every diet on the planet restricts calories, and that restricting calories is the best way to lose the weight. Mathematically speaking, I need to restrict my caloric intake my 500 calories per day  or 3500 calories per week to lose 1 pound per week. This means that I have to reduce my caloric intake by 3500 calories per week and keep this up for 30 weeks to lose 30 lbs. At my current weight, that means in 30 weeks or 7.5 months I will weigh in at 130-134.

Diets are the same regardless of whether you count points or carbs. In my case, I want to feel better, to be healthier, so I want to make sure that I am cutting calories and choosing good foods instead of processed foods. My goal is to not only lose the weight, but look and feel better because I am eating healthier than I am now.

I also know that I need to eat off of scheduled plans. When I did WW before, I was successful because I planned out my foods each day/week. I had certain foods listed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I ate the same foods, and the weight came off. Now, I wasn't working outside the home then, so I have to consider that I am in an office. However, since I want to watch my weekly lunch expenses, I plan to bring both breakfast and lunch to work. This will allow me to control my eating during the day. My daily schedule is as follows:
  1. Wake up at 5:00
  2. Feed cats, make coffee, unload dishwasher 5-5:15
  3. Pray, read Bible, get prepared for the day 5:15-6:00
  4. Shower and dress, 6:00-6:30
  5. Leave for work at 6:30
  6. Arrive at work 7:00
  7. Eat breakfast at 7:30
  8. Eat lunch at 11:30
  9. Leave work at 3:30
  10. Have small snack at 3:45
  11. Eat dinner at 5:00
  12. Put dishes in dishwasher, clean up at 6:00
  13. Relax 6-7
  14. Exercise 7-8
  15. Practice cello 8-9
  16. Check email and get ready for bed
  17. Bed at 11:00

My goal is to eat at set times each day. My secondary goal is to add 30-45 minutes of exercise to my day as well as make sure I have allotted time for cello practice. This is realistic for me. Once graduate school begins next May, my evening will change and I will have to spend 2 hours each night in study/reading/discussion time online. For now though, my goal is to lose the weight, keep it off permanently, and enjoy greater freedom and health.

September 22, 2012

Week One is Over

I survived my first week at CVS Caremark. I think I am really going to like my new job! God is so very GOOD to me. He has provided a nice team, and a good job that fits my skills and abilities. I feel confident that I am going to be able to stay at this job for a couple years (hopefully longer). I am starting to unwind and decompress from all the stress and pressure at UOPX, and I feel more relaxed about my week now.

It is amazing how great God is, and how He works out the details of our lives so well. He knows my needs, and He has provided everything to me that I need to be successful and prosperous in this new line of work. I also am content with my current situation, life and all that goes along with it. I feel really good about what I am doing, and the plans He has for me. I think by the end of week two, I will feel more relaxed and ready to take on the next big challenge -- doctoral studies at Regent! PTL! For I know He has provided this opportunity to me, and He is covering me with His Blessing and Favor (Grace!)

Other News

My son celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday. It is so hard to believe that he is almost grown! I am blessed to have such a wonderful son, and I love the fact that he is so gracious and kind. I know that God has great plans for his life, and I am so excited to see what the Lord will bring to him over the course of the next couple years.

September 17, 2012

My Lord is GREAT!

Today was my first day at my new job as an Analyst at CVS Caremark in Scottsdale. I have to say that I had a GREAT day, and while I am a bit overwhelmed with all the new information, I feel really good about my future with this company. I am so blessed, and so relieved, and I know that God is to receive all the Glory, all the Praise, and all the Honor! He is Worthy, and I give Him my all -- Amen, so be it.

My day started off with a smile -- I received two text messages (back to back) from my former team mates (a third came in later in the am). Both were wishing me well, and saying how much they miss me this morning (I miss them too!) It was so nice to get that little bit of encouragement because it helped cement my attitude for the entire day.

After check in, I had a three-hour orientation at the main office in Scottsdale. I got my badge, and a tour of the facility. Nice big building -- lots of cubbies. Around noon, I drove over to my assigned building. My new supervisor met me, and gave me a tour of the building. This building is nicer, IMO, than the other one, and it has less cubbies, and a more intimate feel. My new team decorated my desk with streamers and balloons and warmly welcomed me to the company. Later, I was taken to lunch by a team member and we had a nice conversation. Overall, I am so excited to be in this role, and to have this opportunity to work for this company.

I like my cube, and I even get a laptop (cool beans!) I am so jazzed about what is waiting for me once I get settled into my new role. I cannot wait to know this job well!

I got to leave early today -- oh yes -- and my normal work hours are 7-3:30 (PTL!) But wait, there is more -- I get to work from home one day a week. Ok, I think I died and went to heaven already. I went from working under incredible stress and time constraints (logging in/out to pee or get a drink) to ADULT work where I can come and go as I please, and to where I can be treated with respect and with the understanding that I am valued.

So today was a huge SUCCESS! Granted -- I am back to working 7-3:30, and that means I am up at 5:30 every am. The good side is that my commute is about 10-15 minutes, so really I don't have to leave until 6:30 every day. Then, on Friday's, I get to stay home (PTL!) and with my flex time this means that I can be here, do my work, and not have to worry about rushing home to get to chamber group.

Benefits are sweet, even though I have to wait 90 days for them, and generally speaking, I think the company culture is going to be a good fit for me. God has truly blessed me with a winning job, and a new and exciting future. I cannot think of what could be better than that combo. The Lord is GREAT and I Magnify His Name!

September 16, 2012

Embarking on a New Adventure

My last weekend before starting my new job has come to a close. I had hoped to accomplish more this weekend, but the time just seemed to get away from me. I guess I did do what was most important -- I rested a lot, and I also spent time with my family (enjoying the last days of summer). My son got to do some driving practice, and I ended up watching quite a bit of Netflix. All in all, it was a very good restful weekend.

I am a little nervous about tomorrow. I don't know what to expect, and while I am excited to be starting something new, there is that little bit of "unknown" that is causing me to worry and fret. I know I shouldn't do it, but this is "normal" for me. I am a worrier, and I fret over things I cannot control. I am getting a lot better, but I still allow nagging doubts to creep into my mind and cause me to wonder about all those "what ifs" in my life.

I am holding steady though and I feel very good about my new job. I know that God has a great plan for me, and that I can rest in His Sufficiency. I feel good about what is to be in this next year, and I am not concerned about financial matters (PTL!) If anything, I am more concerned about passing the GRE test -- I need to take this very soon -- and finishing my application to Regent University. All in God's timing, all in His time.

Today after church, my son and I had breakfast with my husband (my son's Dad). This is something we try and do each week, and it is a nice way to make sure that they (the two of them) stay connected with one another. It also helps to keep my DH informed about what his son is doing, is thinking, is planning, etc.

For example, two weeks ago, my son was set to apply to our local four year school (ASU) to study Linguistics. He told me that this was what he wanted to study, and that he was excited about graduating from the community college and transferring to finish his degree. I was on board with this decision, as was his Dad, having agree (the both of us), that it made sense for him to attend since it was in state and a good program.

Then in a conversation I had with my son, he shared with me that he didn't want to study German at ASU, but rather he wanted to study Norwegian instead. Now, this has been a passion of his for about six months, so this news wasn't shocking to me. However, in the US, there are approximately four-five schools that offer Scandinavian Studies, and only 2-3 have Norwegian as a language. One of these schools is our local denominational school, North Park University, in Chicago. It is private, and it is expensive; but they have this program including a semester study-abroad requirement.

My son told me that he didn't want to study German, and that all he wanted to study was Norwegian. I had an inkling that this was how he felt, but up until two weeks ago, he had not really come out and said that it was what he wanted to do. We talked it over, and I prayed about his desire. I am open to letting him go there to school -- knowing of course -- that the Lord has to provide scholarship/financial aid for it to be possible. I didn't want to diminish his enthusiasm, so I told him that we could "consider it" along with our state school.

Well, in the course of the past two weeks, things have just changed ever so slightly, and now it seems a very real possibility that this is the Lord's will for my son. Moreover, there seems a good possibility that I would move as well, and thus saving about 8k per year in housing costs. Nothing is set yet, but there seems to be some movement this way to cement this as the path for my son's schooling.

Back to today at lunch. My son told his Dad that this was what he wanted to do. My DH was not really on board, but then he is pretty practical about things. His first thought was "why?" His second was "what kind of job will you get?" It is funny because during our home school experience, my husband never was concerned about JOBs. He was always all over the learning for life experience, the study what you love approach, etc. Now though it is "will you get a job" and "why do you want to do that" type of thing.

After lunch, we went over to Walmart to do some shopping, and my son confessed to me that he couldn't really articulate why he wants to do this, but he did say that he "feels that God wants him to study this language." Oh YES! I have known this for some time, and whenever I ask the Lord about it, He reminds me to be patient, to wait, and to let things be. He told me that the time was coming -- soon -- when my son would know what the Lord wanted for His life, but until that time, I had to be silent and simply let things be. It seems that this was for my benefit, that this was so that I would know that God was working in my son, and that His timing was perfect in all things.

So here I sit, typing on my blog, and getting sleepy -- but I am rejoicing at God's provision and care. You see, I know the plans God has for my life. My son has not really understood what God wanted for his life -- though he has expressed some feeling in certain areas (like with music or language study). Everything seems to be lining up, to be set in motion for us to move to Chicago next year. I don't know exactly if this is what we will do or not. Perhaps my son will simply go on ahead and live in the dorms while I live here in Phoenix for a couple more years? Perhaps we will both go, thanks to a job promotion or a lateral move? Not sure, I just know that it is exciting to see God moving in my son's life at the same time that He is moving in mine. God is up to something SWEET and I cannot wait to see what actually unfolds.

September 15, 2012

Stepping Back to Ponder

Today is Saturday, and it is a lovely late summer day. I think it will still be hot and humid (96-98), but survivable for Phoenix. I am glad we are on the waning end of the summer. It has been very hot and humid, with some good storms to help offset the miserableness of the season. I am so ready to live somewhere else, and to have four distinct seasons. I miss Fall, and I miss Winter. Yes, I even miss the snow. I so much want to see the leaves change colors, and then drop to the ground. I so miss seeing the winter white of snowfall. I am ready to leave Phoenix for a different climate, and for a new start to my life.

I spent some time today reading through my blog. I went back to July 2011, and read about my job opportunity with UOPX. I forgot what day I had interviewed, and I forgot just how difficult my life was back then. In just one year's time, so much has changed for me, and my life has improved one hundredfold. I am a different person now, and I am able to comprehend moving my son and myself across the country, purchasing a new home, and settling in to a routine in another state or even another country.

I had thought about this before, before last year; but, I wasn't able to really let go, to let it be and let it come to pass. I wasn't ready mentally. I wasn't ready to see myself as a fully functional single woman, empowered by the Grace of God, to go and do whatever the Lord wanted for my life. I am now, however, and I am ready to ROAR!

As I step back to consider my life of one year ago, I see a woman stuck in a very difficult situation who tried every possible way to get herself free from the life she had made for herself. Yes, it was my life, and yes, I made a lot of mistakes. I was living with the consequences of choices I made as a young person, and later as a young adult. Not all of my life was bad, mind you -- I do have a blessing in my precious son, whom I cherish. Most of my life was bad, though, and not for lack of trying on my part. It was more like when you put on a pair of shoes, hoping they will be comfortable, and then finding out they rub you the wrong way. The shoes are not to blame. Rather it is the fit that is off. This is exactly how it was in my life. I realize now that my husband was not to blame for anything that happened to me. Yes, he was a partner to it, but it wasn't directly his fault. It was my fault for putting on a pair of shoes that hurt my feet, and not choosing to take them off as being a "bad fit."

I hope this makes sense, because while I am not absolving my DH of choices he made (just like I accept my choices), I realize that our marriage was a 'bad fit.' It was this way for both of us. We both were poor choices for each other, and we both struggled to make it work. He tried, the good Lord knows he did, and I tried too. We simply were not meant to be together, and we were not meant to spend our lives as one person in Christ.

I know now that I was created to be single. I was designed by my Creator to be a single person who was wholly devoted to God. I know it, and I accept it. I have never been so comfortable in myself, so happy in being alone, and so content in my place UNTIL the day I came face-to-face with my Creator as He called me to live this way. It is my perfect fitting pair of shoes. Singlehood FITS me, and I love it.

My husband is the same, though he desires companionship and I am sure a relationship with someone with whom he can be devoted. I certainly tried to be his companion, but I was never able to do it because I was designed to be a companion to the Lord. My greatest FRIEND is God. I mean He is my BFF. I love Him, I talk with Him, and I spend every single moment with Him. I am most happy, most content, and most intimate with One person only, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

In looking back, I see the pain of a relationship ending. I see the dissolution of a marriage, and the walking away of two people who were joined together by God and man. Yes, God joined us, but only after I made the decision to go through with my marriage. I made the decision to be faithful, and to remain loyal to the man I said "I do" to some 28 years ago.

My life since then has been liberated. Most of my friends do not understand how I can be married, but be single. Well, this is not the perfect situation, but it is what it is for now. I am not sure how the Lord plans to work things out, but for now, I remain where I am because this is where He has called me to be.

Reflecting on the last year, I see the following:

  • One year ago, I was living in my home on Hearn Road. It was in foreclosure, and I was trying desperately to save it. I was trying to remortgage it, and to pay off the debt that we owed to a private lender.
  • I had just started working at UOPX, and was thanking God for His Provision of a job, benefits, and a steady paycheck.
  • My son was in his second semester at our local CC
  • I was in my second year as a Graduate student at Mercy College
  • My husband, while working, was not able to move out of our home, so we shared it as a separated couple
  • My parents were pushing me to move out or to divorce
  • My husband's parents had relocated to Kansas City, and were not on speaking terms with either of us
Since that time, my life has changed around:
  • I lost our home to the private lender (in January).
  • I moved to a lovely rented townhome, right down the street from the CC
  • I worked at UOPX for 15 months, managing my own finances, and rebuilding my credit.
  • I am now moving to a new company, CVS/Caremark, which will provide a more advanced job, along with better pay and better benefits (more growth).
  • My son is in his Sophomore year, and will be graduating in May 2013 with his AA degree
  • I graduated in August with my Masters degree in English and I am now applied to a PhD program at Regent University (beginning May 2013)
  • My husband is living on his own, paying his own way, doing his own thing
  • We are separated, but we are friends. I pick him up for church, and we have breakfast as a family each Sunday.
  • My parents have let go of their insistence on divorce, and are now reconciled to my state of separation
  • My husband's parents are supportive of what has happened, and are in communication (both ways)
I see the plans the Lord has for me coming to pass. Much of what He and I have talked about over the past three or four years is happening. Not everything is as I thought it would be, but much of what I envisioned is actually possible now.
  • I am ready to start a doctoral program, having graduated with honors 
  • I am working for a large company that has offices all over the US -- and with whom I could potentially relocate
  • My son has decided on his major focus: Norwegian or Scandinavian Studies. He has chosen North Park University in Chicago, so it looks like we will move to Chicago next year.
After looking at so many schools, so many possible states for relocation, it looks like I will be finally going home. It is weird because lately I have heard myself saying "I want to go home, I want to go home." I often will hear myself say this even without thinking about it. The words just come out of my mouth. At first I thought it was my way of saying, "Lord, take me home to be with you" which made sense since last week was so stressful for me. Truthfully, while YES I want to be with the Lord, I can resolutely echo the Apostle Paul's words in 2 Cor. 5:8. I would prefer to be at home with the Lord, but I know that He has called me to specific work here in Earth, and I am ready and willing to stay and do what He has asked me to do.

I think today that my words of home going had more to do with the fact that I have always looked to one place as my home. I have lived many places in my life, but Hazel Crest, IL, was probably the closest thing to home for me. It was the last time my entire family, brothers and all, were together. We lived there nearly 8 years, and while it wasn't perfect (by no means), so many memories are tied to my life there. I went through elementary, Jr. High, and part of High School there. My life in San Jose, while welcomed, was difficult and even though I came to know the Lord there, I never really fit in nor did I have friends there. It was a transitional place, a place where I lived with my parents, but where I felt isolated and so very alone.

No, Chicago is where my home was as a child, and it is where I long to go in my dreams. Is it nostalgic? Of course. I am not innocent here to think it will be wonderfully reminiscent of what once was, by no means. It is more that there is something about this place that beckons me to return, and while I have tried very hard to say "no" to that feeling, it never quite goes away.

I am stuck, I guess, forever in this place where I live -- in between here and there. I really want to be over there, but for now, I must remain. I am trusting the Lord to provide a way home, a path to follow, and to align every area of my life so that it fulfills His Will for me. I know He will do it -- He is so GOOD like that.

Today I do what I must, and I give praise to God for His Faithfulness and His Good Provision of Care for me and for my extended family.

September 14, 2012

Last Day at UOPX

The day has finally arrived -- I cannot believe that today is my last day working for the University of Phoenix! I am excited to be moving on, but sad to be leaving all the great friends I have met over the past fifteen months. God has been amazing to me, bringing me such wonderful coworkers, and giving me the opportunity to be cared for and now missed. WOW! I am blown away by His Gracious Generosity and Compassion towards me.

As I consider my last day, I think back to my first day some fifteen months ago. I started on July 25, 2011 with about 25 other new hire advisors. Those first three weeks were hilarious. We were told by our trainer that our class was special, that she had never had a bunch of new hires who were so fun to be around. We laughed, we mocked, and generally we acted like a bunch of high schoolers. Out of that class, only 23 moved on to actual placements within the company (two dropped for personal reasons).

Since that time, about half of my original group have left the company. Some early on, and some recently. I think there are about fifteen who still work at UOPX. I guess it is to be expected. This job is not for everyone, and lately, with all the pressure to produce and remain active, the stress has increased.

In my building, advisors are being let go daily, mostly for performance related issues, but some for failing to account for the time or misusing their time (changing time cards, not logging in/out, etc.) It seems extreme, but Arizona is an at-will state and that means that companies can fire you for any reason or no reason at all.

The chopping block has seen all levels, so not just advisors, but also managers. I was talking with a friend who said that before I started, so back in 2010, there were 900 advisors in our division (Northeast). 700 were let go in November 2010. From August 2011-September 2012, another 100 have either left or been terminated. At last count, I believe there are more like 200 actual advisors. I am not sure what the plan is (on management's part), but if they are downsizing due to the economy, they are going to end up with a shortage of advisors.

In my group, Healthcare, we have been told that they plan to keep 26 advisors. I think this is a lot right now, and if they reduced the core group down to 20, the group would be more productive. Perhaps they will do this, shift people around. In our group, most everyone is a solid producer, and most do follow the guidelines for availability, etc.

Well, I am very glad to be leaving today. Even though I was a top producer, I didn't like the pressure to be active. I also didn't like the micromanagement to enforce activity. I understand that my employer can make decisions based on what they feel is best for the company -- but this style of management doesn't work well for me.

So today will be my last day at this employer. I had such high hopes for working here. I wanted to remain in higher education, to move up into a manager/director position, to complete my doctorate here. I wanted so much to stay and be a part of this University -- but now I see that this was not the plan the Lord had for me. While I have made great friends, I have come to see the work here for what it is, and while I understand about sales/marketing and enrollment -- I realize that I am designed for different work.

My new job will be very different, and I am hopeful that it will provide additional opportunities for me to grow and develop into a manager/director. Perhaps it will, perhaps it won't. One thing is for sure -- I will be doing a different kind of work, and I will no longer have to count my dials and punch out every time I have to go pee!

September 8, 2012

Hooray for the Weekend!

Yes, my Saturday has just started, and I am already feeling anxious about having to go into work. Thankfully, I am going in at 11 and will only be there for four hours. The job is getting to be such a grind for me. I can do what needs to be done in about 4 hours, but M-F, I have to fill out 8 hours. It used to be that you could spread that 4 hours of work out, but now they want to see activity/productivity in every 1/2 block. This means that you have to be on the phone, active in conversation OR attempting to reach a student. So in short, that is 6.5 hours out of your day you need to be on the phone with students.

In some areas of the Northeast, this is very doable. In Business and Technology, for example, advisors are receiving 4-6 inbound calls per day, and factor in that each might take 20-30 minutes (rounding up to the 1/2 hour) that is 2-3 hours of "talk time" each day. Now with follow up calls and retention, etc. it is very easy to fill out 4-5 hours in talking to students. This leaves a little time to make prospecting calls.

However, in Healthcare, I am receiving 2-3 inbound calls per day. So at 30 minutes, that is 1-1.5 hours in "talk time." I have to fill out 6.5 and since my students do not require as much time on the phone, I am prospecting something like 5 hours a day just to remain "active." My database is limited, even though I have over 3000 leads in it. I don't have active leads, and most of my dials are to people who expressed interest over 3 years ago.

We used to have a mature leads group, but they were absorbed into the rest of the division. I am responsible for dialing at least 80 students per day. If I let the call go to the message, and then hang up (since they didn't pick up), that takes me 40 minutes in dialing (80 x 30 seconds = 240 seconds/60 seconds (minute) = 40). The math says that my normal productivity is rounding out to be 1 hour and 40 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. This is about where my stats say I am at each day.

The scrutinization is killing me. The constant numbers game to demonstrate activity is what has done me in. I can do my dials and service my students in 2.5 to 4 hours a day; but I have to justify my "existence" and that means dialing 80 to 100 more numbers than other people in my division.

I heard last week that the upper-ups want to see 80 dials or 4 hours of talk now. Well, if they settle for 80 dials, then they are itching to let people go for non-productive work. I am tired of leaving voicemails for students. If I leave a voicemail, and then replay it, I can get an extra 2 minutes to my 80 dials. So that means that instead of 40 minutes, I can stretch that time to about 1.5 hours. The issue for me is leaving the same message for the same person for the 8-9th time. I am sure the student hates it, and I hate having to do it.

Today, my goal is to take 2 QC calls (transfer calls) and make about 40 dials. I figure if I do half the work I would on a full Saturday, then that is good enough. My boss and director may not like it, but since I am giving notice to them next week -- it is what it is. I am going to be available to help real/live students, and then use the rest of my time to leave drone calls. It is the nature of this business, and the nature of this work.

Thinking Ahead

I have my resignation letter typed out and I need to turn it in next week. I have been wanting to turn in my notice early, but I have been fearful of doing so because I could get let off without pay. If I wait to give notice, then I run the risk of ticking them off -- not that this matters because I am not coming back to them ever again. However, there is professional etiquette to consider and I don't want to be rude. I have asked the Lord what to do, and for now, my letter is dated 9/14.

My start date for my new job is set for 9/17. I am assuming that my background check is good as is my drug screen. My HR person has said I am good to go for that date, so I am taking that to me that this is true. I am pleased, and I am looking forward to working in a new job, with new people, and new tasks.

Lastly, as I consider my path and where I am today, I cannot help but see the hand of God upon my days at UOPX. I have completed 1 year and 3 months there, and while it was difficult and very tiring, I made it through. I have met some nice people, and I have learned some new skill (mostly conversation). I am happy to be free, and I am looking forward to what the next year brings to me. God has promised Good to me, and I am trusting in His Promise and in His Provision. I know that we are blessed, and we are covered with His Mercy and Grace. I see it, I can feel it, and I know it is so.

As I think about tomorrow and what will be in my life, I only see good things, good opportunities, and good outcomes. I don't see anything negative, difficult or painful. Yes, there may be negative, difficult and painful things ahead, but they are not of my choosing, not of my hand. Therefore, should I encounter these challenges, they will be there for a reason and that reason is to continually conform me to His Way. I know this, and I accept that fact that in life, there will be seasons of trial, times of challenge to strengthen and to harden off (as in plants -- to make them straight and able to withstand wind and elements). Likewise, I also know that in God's plans for my life, everything He brings to me is very Good. His GOOD far outweighs anything less, and I can rest knowing that my life is blessed by His Goodness, and that in that GOOD there is peace, is hope, and is prosperity. My God is GOOD!

September 7, 2012

Finding the Answer in the Midst of the Storm

Today has been rough, and I mean really rough. It started out OK, but once I got going, I found myself drenched in rain, and feeling so very out of sorts. The day went from good to not so good in one fell swoop, and I ended up confused and confounded about my present, and my future. I stuck it out, though, and through the rain, the answer came to me -- "be still and know that I am God." Yes, Psalm 46:10 rang through my head, and before I knew it, I came to the understanding that everything "IS" exactly as God intends it to be. Yes, I may be confused (slightly), and I may not know all the details; but, God does. He is in control of my days and knows the plans He has for me (Jer. 29:11). Not only does God know the plans He has for me, but He is working out the details of those plans so that everything in my life aligns with them. In short, God is working behind the scenes to orchestrate the details of my life so that everything, every item, aligns with His Marvelous Will.

My confusion lays in the fact that I am human flesh, and with flesh, my understanding is limited. I can only see and understand (perceive/know) what is tangible to me or within my frame of reference or scope of logic and reason. I am limited, I am finite in my wisdom. Therefore, there are times in my life when no matter how much I pray, I seek, and I ask for clarification -- the answer, the mystery, the knowledge will still not be "there" for me. It doesn't mean that it won't be there forever; more so it is that it is not there for me now. In time, and with more experience or time, the knowledge and understanding will merge together and I will 'get it.' I will know what God is doing, and I will see it in crystal clear fashion and full-on color. God is GOOD that way, and He doesn't always share what He is doing with us. Sometimes He clues us in, and sometimes He asks us to wait, to be patient, and to be still.

This is the lesson I learned today, that my confusion stemmed from a lack of knowledge, and so much so that my straining and striving to grasp "whatever was missing" was simply causing me to be confounded and anxious. It was only when I let go, and agreed with the Lord, saying "Ok, I give up on this bit of information," that the breakthrough came for me. I glimpsed into the future and saw a new possibility, a new opportunity where one didn't seem to exist. I got a feeling that everything was just as it was supposed to be -- in progress -- with no definitive end in sight just yet. I realized that this journey is just beginning, and while I might want to see the ending now, I simply will have to wait until we get there, until we make it to the end of all things. You cannot see what is not there yet, no matter how hard you try to envision and imagine it. You must wait for the end to come, and you must be patient and endure today, tomorrow and however many days are between the here and now and the then and end.

I get it. I understand. Now I am asked to wait for that end, and to be active in what needs doing today. I am to trust the Lord for today and tomorrow and know that whatever the outcome -- it will be just as the Lord determines it to be. Until that day, I will walk and I will do the work assigned to me. I will let the Lord provide for me, and for my son; and I will trust Him that whatever He determines for us will be best. This is the only way to be at rest and have joy and contentment. I know this, really I do. I have been foolish to try and grab at the future, hoping to hold onto whatever I saw hanging out there. The Lord has said "let go" and I have abided in His Word to me. I cannot hold onto tomorrow for it is not there yet. I cannot hold on to today for it is quickly fading away. I must be content to rest in the knowledge of God, and in His Wisdom. I must know that everything will be as He intends it to be, and that I do not have to worry about His ability to keep His promise to me. He is Good that way.

Dear Lord,

I let go of today knowing that it is but a fleeting moment in your Eternity. I refuse to grasp the future because it is not set, and will be determined by you as time passes. I cannot know for certain that it will be this way or that way, but I can rest in the knowledge that it will be aligned with your will and that it will please you and be for my best. I let go of what I don't know, and I embrace the truth that you know everything. I can rest and trust you for today and tomorrow. I can count on your Word, and I can know that your promises are true and will be fulfilled. You are God, and as God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37). I surrender to the truth, and I let go of the frustration and anxiety of what may be tomorrow. May all your plans come to pass in my life. I accept and agree to whatever changes you desire, and to the way in which I am to go. I commit my way to you and agree with you that it is best for me to do as you ask, to follow after you, and to seek your will in every area of my life. I commit my time and my ability to do your work, and to let you complete your work in me and through me. I ask now for the Power of Your Great Name so that everything you desire for me comes to pass. I rest in this completion knowing that your Sufficiency is enough, and that I am blessed and favored in every task and in every duty you plan and prepare for me. May God be Praised today and forever more, Amen (so let it be.) Selah (pause and calmly think about that!)

When it Rains, it Pours

It is funny how I asked for it to rain this morning, and it DID! Oh my goodness!! I took my son out to the MVD at 8:00 only to get stuck in a downpour and to find out that the camera at the office was down. I was soaked, and had wet fet -- but we trotted over to the other MVD office to try our luck in getting a license made. Unfortunately, after 1.5 hours waiting, we were told that my son's road test (through a local driving school) was not accepted and that he was randomly chosen to re-test. Not too much of an issue, except that it was pouring outside, and all road tests were cancelled.

Moreover, the random selection process has caused significant issues for my son. First off, we have one car -- mine. It is a small manual transmission, and he has been practicing driving it for a couple weeks. To take the road test, he has to bring his own car or a car. He cannot test in my car, and we don't have another vehicle available right now. Second, the road test at the MVD is stringent, and they are known for not passing drivers. So here is my son, almost 19, and stuck without his license. He has completed driving school classroom instruction, and four hours of road driving (with instructor) and about 10 hours of parent driving.

I took last Friday off to take him for his license, and all the servers were down. I take a couple extra hours today to take him back again, and the camera is down -- no license photos today. We go to the other office, and because of the rain, there are no road tests -- and since he was selected randomly for a retake -- we have to come back again.

I give up, Lord! Either you do not want him to drive or you are telling us to wait. Why, Lord? Am I not listening or did I forget to ask your permission to take this step? I am confused, and I am upset (over spending the money), and I feel stuck between a rock and a hard spot.

Lastly, I called my new manager to let him know that I am not coming in today. I tried to send him email but it bounced. I found out that my split shift with a coworker is no longer allowed. I have to work tomorrow because I made the commitment to do so. However, now I am really concerned about the red flag I threw up for everyone to see. Oh my, what do I do?

I did get confirmation that I can start my new job on Monday, 9/17. I so want this over with, and I so do not want to go into work today. Lord, why is this happening to me?

I feel like everything is upside down, and that I am walking in the wrong direction, doing the wrong thing, and taking the wrong path. I am confused and I don't know what to do. Please Lord, help me to understand what is going on right now. I ask this in your name, and I pray now for help and clarification. Thank you, Lord!

Running the Numbers Game

It is a cloudy Friday here in Phoenix. I hear rumblings off in the distance, but no rain. Oh, how I wish it would rain! I am taking part of my morning off to get my son to the MDV. Hopefully, if we get over there at 8:30, we can be out by 9:30, and I can be down at UOPX by 10:00 a.m. Craziness just trying to get his license -- this will be our second trip to the MVD in two weeks.

As I sit here waiting to get dressed and ready, I am already feeling the panic of money worries. I have not given my notice to UOPX, but will do that soon. I got my paycheck today and it was $200 short. This was due to me taking a day off without pay during the last pay period. I have been so overworked and ill with stress that I have had to take days off just to get by. My pay has reflected that and while I was glad for the day off so I could rest, now I am worried about having enough to cover this month's needs.

I have already taken two days off this pay period -- one day last week and one day yesterday. I banked on vacation, but more than likely, my employer will deduct those hours from my final check. This means I will be short at the end of the month. I will be OK once I get paid by my new employer. I will be making more money every two weeks, and everything will be covered. However, until then, I am going to end this month with $50 in my checking account. I am stressed.

I look to the Lord, and to His Blessing and Provision. He has never failed me, and I know that He will not fail me now. He has provided for me, and I know that He will continue to do so throughout my time at UOPX and into my work at CVS Caremark. It is just a matter of me letting go of the money, and remembering that it is His Work and His Pay -- not mine! Praise be to God the Father who cares for us and provides for our every need! Yes, it is His Work and His Pay, not mine. I can rest knowing that the Father knows my needs, and that while my flesh is trembling over lack of income, the Father is not worried. He is not concerned. If He needed me to do extra work, He would provide that to me. If He needed me to take on a second job, He would provide that as well. Father God -- you are AWESOME GOD! I thank you for the comfort of knowing that there is nothing happening in my life that is outside of your control. Nothing is out of sorts nor is there anything to be concerned about this day.

What does this mean for me? I guess it comes down to this -- I can choose to worry over things I cannot control or I can let them go. I mean if God is handling my finances, then why am I worried about them? Is He not a good manager of money and resources? YES, HE IS! Is the Lord not able to provide for His children's keep? Of course He can, and He does! So then, why do I worry about money and finances?

The reason I worry over money and finances is that I have spent the past 30 years living in fear of "not having enough." I have lived without enough money, relying on others to pay the difference, and hating that feeling of not being able to provide for my family. I have literally agonized over spending $20 on food, and I have made myself sick over worry that I would be kicked to the street, homeless and unable to work, drive or live.

Has this really been the truth? Yes and no. I have lived on as little as $50 a month. I have lived without comfort, without food, and with limited resources. However, I have had a roof over my head, and I have had clothing to wear. In short, my needs, my basic needs have always been met. What I have not had was money to pay heat/cooling, water, garbage, cell phone, TV, etc. The extras we think are basic necessities. Yes, these have all be turned off, reset, and I have faced stiff charges to reconnect, restore. Moreover, my lack of faithfulness in paying for these services has diminished my credit worthiness, and has reduced my ability to get and keep credit.

The 'numbers game' has always come up short for me. Since 2010 and my employment at Macy's, the Lord has provided for me. I have not had a lot of income each month, but I have had money coming in. Little by little He has enabled me to establish services, to build credit, and to have those nice things I have always wanted. He has made it possible for me to live comfortably in my rented home, to have TV and to have a new computer. He has provided not only the basics but all those lovely extras I have longed for over the years.

Now I am worried about having to let these things go, and I worry again about being in the place where I am stuck and living "without enough." God has not said that this would be so, yet the thought looms in the back of my mind, and there is a "what if" thought that circles around reminding me of the tenuous nature of my life. I know where this thought resides, and I know who brings it to my memory. Of course, it is not true, well in part. Could I be placed back into that situation again in my life? Most certainly. However, would it be of my own doing or of the Lord's? The answer is this -- if I were to go back to those days one of two things would have to happen:  1) I would have to willfully walk away from the Lord's provision and guiding Will for my life; or 2) the Lord would have to choose for me to go there and then place me in that situation for a time (a test perhaps or some strengthening). I do not see either as plausible at this stage in my life. I am surrendered to the Lord's Will, and I am trusting Him to provide for me -- to accomplish His Will through me. So unless He chooses to move me there, back to that place for a time, there is nothing for me to worry about or stress over. God is so very GOOD to me!

Therefore, I am choosing this day to reflect upon the Goodness of God, and the completeness of His Provision for my life. He has called me to walk a certain way and to live my life solely devoted to Him. I am to do His Work, and He is to provide for my life. It is our deal, our bargain, our covenant agreement. I do the work, He pays for everything I need. He provides the job, the income, the house, the food, etc. I look to Him, I trust and rely upon Him, and I follow after Him. I do the physical work, I do the homework at graduate school; I do the daily tasks associated with my employer; I practice cello; I support my son; I pay the bills (physically sending the checks, balancing the checkbook); and I wait for His provision. I look up and I wait on Him. He provides for me, He cares for me, and I rest in His Sovereignty and His Power and His Authority over every area in my life. He is SOVEREIGN. He is GOOD. I can rest and trust and know that He is GOD.

September 6, 2012

Mercy College

My unofficial transcript arrived today! I am so excited!! I also received notice that my official transcript was mailed to Regent University on September 3rd. God is so very Good to me!!

Ready to Resign

I don't have official word yet on my lab test and employment background screening check. I had hoped that I would hear back yesterday, but no such luck. Work was a grind, so much so, that I am at the point of resigning just to take some time off and rest. I am exhausted, and I am feeling so unwell right now. I would like to stay at home for a couple of days, and just rest -- rest before I start my new job so that I could be 100% ready to take on new job duties.

This morning, I woke up at my usual 5:30. I laid back down for a quick 15 minutes and one-half hour later, I was still asleep. I dragged myself downstairs at 6:00 and made my coffee. I then gave my self one-half hour to sit in the chair and have my coffee (my treat on days when I can go in at 8). I promptly fell asleep again, and here it is 7:30 and I am not even dressed. I am anticipating what to do right now, and I have a dilemma of sorts.

I had planned to take 1/2 day tomorrow because I am working a split shift on Saturday. I need to take my son over to the MVD again (last week they were closed), so my plan was to do that tomorrow am, then work 4 hours. Ok, best laid plans.

I am thinking that I might take time this morning, and then take some time tomorrow as well, and mix it up. I really need to resign, but part of me wants to wait for official acceptance by CVS Caremark. I was supposed to start on Monday, but without that clearance, I may not be able to start until next Monday (17th). My payday is tomorrow, and that will cover me for rent and most bills. My next payday would be the 21st, and that would cover me for rent for October. If I work next week, then I would have another full paycheck coming to me before I start my new job. The new job runs on the pay schedule so lets see if this works out:

9/4-9/14 - timecard would pay out on the 9/21
9/17-9/28 - timecard would pay out on 10/5

Leave UOPX on the 14th and begin CVS on 9/17.  This would work so that I would get a full paycheck from UOPX and then work three weeks and get a full paycheck on 10/5. Even if I only get a partial paycheck, I would be OK. My rent would be covered for October, and most of my bills that come early on in the first week.

Ok, that settles it. I need to tell Caremark that I will start on the 17th because it works better for me pay-period wise and also because I do need to give a notice to my employer. Good settled.

Now, what do I do with today and tomorrow and Saturday. I am OK with this because I have three students starting next week, and I have formed relationships with them. I can walk them to class, give my notice to my employer and then have time to say good-bye. I like it.

If I go into work late today, say around 9 a.m. then I could work until 3 p.m. (no lunch). Or I could take the whole day off today, use my vacation, and then work tomorrow from 6-10 a.m. and have my afternoon off. I like that idea, but it does mess things up for me. The more vacation I take, the less pay I get on the 21st. Hmmm....

Well, lets consider what I need to do today, and whether driving down to UOPX is worth it to me. I walked all my students to class, they are all doing well, and should be OK until tomorrow. I told all that I would touch base with them tomorrow. So I think I could take the whole day off, and just cruise today -- get some things done and rest. I like this idea. Tomorrow, with the MDV and all, I won't get much done. Ok, now I am thinking that I will do this -- take today as a personal day. Tomorrow, I will get my son up early so we can be at the DMV when it opens (at 8). I can then go into work and work until 3 or 3:30 -- leave in time for Chamber and take less time of my vacation (so less money comes out).

Today -- minus 8 hours
Tomorrow -- 10-3:00 plus 5 hours
Saturday -- plus 4 hours

This will work. I need to make up one hour this week, and this way will cover my split shift as well as give me opportunity to rest, get to the MVD and make up my missing hour. God is so very GOOD to me.

Other News

I need to create a resignation letter. I am still uncertain when to tell my employer I am leaving. In most normal situations, you give a two-week notice. At UOPX, if it is non-competitive, then you can normally work out a notice. I would be giving them 1 week, which is a little short, but so be it. It is better than just walking away from them. I will just say that my new employer needed me to start on the 17th and this was conditional on acceptance. So be it.

Whew! I feel so much better now. Not only do I "feel" better physically, but now I have a road map and plan. I don't have to worry about the screening test taking longer than usual, and I can know that my rent for October is covered. I was so worried about paying all my bills this month. Leaving jobs is stressful, and then trying to figure out money, when you are so dependent upon it, doubles the anxiety. Yes, I know that God is my provider -- but my flesh cries out and worries about bounced checks, etc. God is so very GOOD to me, and I know He has all this "covered!"

Checklist

Alright, I took care of my resignation letter. I have it typed and ready to be delivered to my new manager next week. I am still struggling with the two-week notice, but the Lord seems to be telling me not to worry over it, and so I am letting it be.

Now to plan out this day, and to rest and enjoy my day off. I am happy with my decision to stick out UOPX for one more week. I feel more comfortable with this plan, and it makes sense to me.

Some things I need to do:

  1. Take my pants to the dry cleaners
  2. Grocery shopping
  3. Wash my car
Just called Mom and she wants to take me to brunch. God is so very GOOD to me.

Sometimes it is amazing to see what God is doing in my life. Sometimes I marvel at His Mysterious way of planning and accomplishing tasks. Sometimes I sit here and just consider His WAY. I see how far off the mark I am, how much I miss out when I don't trust Him completely, and how much He controls all the details -- for my GOOD! Oh, if only I could trust Him this way, rely upon Him, and REST in faith! May it be so, Lord -- May it be so!

Dear Adonai,

I cry out to you today, and I give you praise. You have given me the direction to go, and you have planned my day and week. I thank you for your providential care and for the fact that I can know what to do, and when to do it. I am trusting you now to provide a clean exit from my current employer, and a fresh start with my new employer. I ask that you would cover me financially and enable me to transition smoothly, without any major interruption in my pay cycle. I also ask that you would provide a way for me to accomplish the remaining tasks so I can be accepted to Regent, and know that I have my education set and paid for (with loans, scholarships, etc.) I also ask that you would cover my time this week, and next, and give me the grace to exit the University on a very high note. You are GREAT and You are GRACIOUS toward me. I know you will do these things, and I ask them now in your GREAT NAME and in the Power of Your GREAT NAME. Amen, so let it be.

Update 9/7/12

Today is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. God is so very good to me. He has provided a way out for me, and He has shown me what to do. I trust in His Faithfulness and in His Promise. I look to His Hand for blessing and provision. I look up, and I wait for Him to show me what to do next. God is so very good to me this day.

September 3, 2012

Lack of Peace

Oh my, do I have a significant lack of peace right now. I am not sure what is going on, but I am really struggling to figure out why I feel the way I do. I know that I am nervous about this coming week, and that I am not looking forward to telling my new boss that I will be leaving on Friday. I am not sure what to expect, whether I will have to work out a notice or whether they will let me go as soon as I give my notice. It is the uncertainty that really bothers me most, but it is also the feeling that I am being oppressed, and for the reason why, I am baffled.

Oh Lord, why am I being oppressed today? I have felt this oppression the past couple days, and I am not sure what I have done (if anything) or if it is an outside influence that has caused this trouble. Help me now to understand what it is, and why I am being targeted this way today?

Give Thanks

I know that whenever I am oppressed, typically it is due to unconfessed sin on my part. On some occasions, it is an outside influence, a person or some other thing that has tied itself to me, and caused the oppression to take place. I know that if it is something I have done, then I have to confess my sins and make sure that I have humbled myself before the Lord. If it is the result of someone else or some thing, then I must stand with my shield of faith lifted up, and holding firmly to the mighty Sword of the Spirt. The WORD says that these two things will vanquish the enemy and will quench the fiery darts that have been aimed my way.

If I give thanks to the Lord, praise Him for His Goodness toward me, then the enemy flees. I am to give the Lord thanks always, and especially during times of trial and uncertainty. Therefore, I give the Lord thanks now for:

  • My new job at CVS Caremark
  • My last week of work at the University of Phoenix
  • More income, and the opportunity for greater career choices
  • A steady place of employment where I can learn a new job, develop new skills and abilities
  • Make more friends in my new workplace
  • Have a shorter commute to work each day
  • Gain more time off -- thanks to personal time
  • Work a flex shift with hours that fit my family needs
I am grateful for these things as well as the many other blessings the Lord has brought into my life this past week. I know that the plans the Lord has for me are very GOOD, and I know that my life is secure and safe, and that His FAVOR and BLESSING rest upon me. I am good, and I am favored. My hand will find success in all that I do, and through the Risen and Exalted Christ, I can do everything the Lord has asked me to do. It is in His Precious and Majestic Name that I pray now, Amen (so let it be). Selah!

September 2, 2012

Thinking More About Tomorrow

It's Sunday, and I am feeling really depressed. I have been weepy all morning. I was watching "Dogs 101" on Animal Planet, and I was balling my eyes out over sappy stories about dogs and their owners. What is wrong with me! I feel sad and I feel lost. I am not sure why, but I think it is because I am in transition today. I will be giving my notice to my employer this week, and then will begin a new job next Monday. Perhaps it is letting go of one constant in my life in favor of something new. I don't handle change well. I don't like upset. I don't like new things.

I am such a creature of habit. My son tells me this all the time. He will say, "WOW! Mom, I cannot believe you just did....X" whenever I do something out of the ordinary. Lately, I have been breaking the self-imposed rules and I have been making choices (small choices, yet still out of the norm for me). I have been stepping out, and looking at the world in a new way. I have been trying to reach into the future to grab hold of whatever the Lord has in mind for me there. My goal is as always -- to stay firmly fixed on the Lord's plan for my life, to do whatever He asks of me. I cannot help but feel as though I am not where I should be, that somehow I missed the turn or the curve in the road?

Oh, LORD, tell me where to go, and what to do this day? Please!

Today is September 2nd, and perhaps the reason for my upset is that there are two memorials this month. The first is my 28th wedding anniversary, and the second is my son's 19th birthday. I didn't feel this way last year or even the year before when my marriage really went ker-plunk. This year, however, I am sad, very sad.

It all started yesterday when I talked with my co-worker. She asked me if I planned to date "soon." I responded with "no." She asked why, and I said "Well, I am still married." She is Catholic, and while not practicing her faith, still abides by the rules of the church. My faith is likewise in the sense that I am solidly grounded in Biblical understanding about divorce and remarriage. I am married for life, that is the short of it. I am not divorced, and my husband is still alive. Therefore, I am to remain single until such a time that he passes or that we are reconciled. Do I hope for reconciliation? Honestly, yes. Is it realistic -- in truth -- no. However, my heart is loyal to the man I said "I do" to almost 28 years ago.

My coworker then said that I looked "lonely." I took her words personally, and they stung me. I am lonely, for certain, and I have talked to the Lord about it often. Yet, in my loneliness I am also very content and at peace with the changes in my life. I am very pleased with what I have now, and the very thought of going back to what I endured during my marriage, is something I do not want to even think about nor consider. Truthfully, I have a full bank account, bills paid on time, and money in savings. I have made a good life for myself, and I will be going to a better job in a week's time. This is a huge change from the life I lived with my husband.

In all our 28 years, I only recall the first two or three as being well-set. I mean, he was working, and I was working, and together we had enough income to pay the bills. We did fun things, things that young married couples do before they have children. We took lots of day trips, did fun outings, went to the baseball games, etc. Later on, after my husband decided to be self-employed, we suffered financially. We barely made a living, and although I worked, we never paid our bills nor had any extra to cover our needs. It was a life of poverty, and I hated the stress of living under such extremes -- especially when it was by choice.

Zoom forward some twenty years later, and while the blessing of having a child ruled our lives together, it was all that held us together. We did everything for our son, and he was our priority. Still lack of income made us dependent upon parents and friends. It was a horrible way to live, again totally by choice.

Now I am self-sufficient, and while I miss the days of being a SAHM, I don't miss the stress and fear of living without necessities. I am content to be where I am, although I miss the family and connections.

My husband is on his own as well, and has significant medical issues. If we were to remain together, my life would be that of providing for him as well as my son. I would have to work to keep him healthy, and I would bear the brunt of the financial responsibility. I would do what I did all those years -- work like a slave to support two people -- and grind myself into the ground through faithfulness and loyalty to someone who never was loyal or faithful to me.

Granted, this is not what it is supposed to be like -- marriage, I mean. Yet in my case, this is what it would be. I would do everything at home, go to work, and try to manage everything again. I cannot do it anymore. I cannot take on all that responsibility. My body is failing, and I can barely take care of myself and my son. I cannot take on his problems again.

Don't get me wrong, I still care for him. I want him to be well, but I want him to take control of his own life and make choices that will help him, and not continue to hurt him. I cannot go back into the "Mom" role. I must remain free to do what I believe God is calling me to do. I must focus on what the Lord is asking me to do, and leave all the rest in His capable hands.

God has called me to be single through this difficult time. I don't date. I don't attract men. I don't flirt. I work, I come home, and I go to church. I take care of my parents. I take care of my son. I go to school. I do cello studies. I pray for my friends on facebook, and I keep to myself. It is my life, albeit at times, lonely. I am content to live this life, and to let the Lord choose my path for me. I may be sad today, but it is just for today. I know that God will bring me blessing and favor, and that I can rest in the sufficiency of His care. He is so very Good to me.

September 1, 2012

My Last Saturday

Well, today was my last Saturday at the University of Phoenix. It went well, for the most part, and I did help three potential students with their education. I made my 90 crank dials (calls with no voicemail), just to demonstrate that I was "productive." I am glad that I don't have to do this again, even if I will have to work Tuesday-Friday next week.

My paperwork from CVS Caremark came in the post yesterday, and I made my drug screening appointment for 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday. I will sign and fax the papers back to them today, and then once the drug test is completed, should be able to give my notice. I am planning on a Wednesday announcement, and if all goes well, I will probably find that I am released the same day. If not, then I will work, T-F, and finish the week out.

My new boss has been coming on strong, reigning in the troops, and laying down the rails, so to speak. I heard that he has suggested that his team may have to work a set schedule, rather than flex. This means that many of the team will probably quit over being forced to work certain hours of the day. I know about half the team works a set shift to accomodate child-care, so basically they will be SOL unless they choose to conform to the standard set by this new person.

I also found out today that if a manager or director catches you watching CNN on your phone or computer, you will be immediately let go (walked out the building). They are unwilling to allow any non-productive hours in the day. I know, shouldn't be a big deal, but truthfully with the job that we do, a small amount of downtime is necessary. They want us to be plugged in and connected 7 out of 8 hours, and frankly, that is mind numbing.

I am so blessed to have a new job to go to, and to know that I don't have to wait this out. I can leave on Wednesday, forfeit two days pay and be OK. I also found out that I can take my 401K out for emergency use, but I will lose about $700 in penalties and taxes. I may open up an IRA account at my bank and just roll it over. I need the money, but I don't want to give up that extra earnings just to have the cash on hand.

Lastly, I am so relieved to know that I am going to this specific new team. I am happy with my choice, and I feel really contented about the work I will be doing. At first, I didn't want to give up the idea of being a project manager. I liked the "idea" of doing that kind of work. Now, though, I am really happy to be in member services and working in on boarding new employees. I think it is going to be a better fit for me, and be far less stressful in the long run.

God is so very GOOD to me. I am blessed and I am happy to know that He has provided such a good move for me. I cannot wait to leave my current job, and start this new and exciting opportunity with CVS Caremark.