March in Review

“Do it with prayer.”

This was my focus this month, and whoa baby, did this month ever need prayer.

Our house search started. Before we found the house we made an offer on, I prayed with my husband that we would find the right one.  We only saw a handful of properties and the one I hated, my husband loved.  We went back and forth about it and I agreed – begrudgingly – to tour it again.  We spend an hour at the property, walking all over, inside and outside.  I didn’t like it because of the “line of sight” on some of the angles.  The house did not speak to me.

But this time it did.

Was it perfect?  No.  It lacks the large garden tub bathroom suite that was on our “must have” list – another thing we left off the last time we looked for houses.  It was built when I was in high school, so it’s been there awhile.  With some minor customization, it could really sing.  My husband made a good point: it was the perfect size for us and outside of the garden tub, it had everything we needed.  That’s what hit me.  Needed.  Our giant house was a want, not a need.  And with our mindset of minimalism, using what we have for the glory of the Gospel, consuming less and the promise of cheaper bills/taxes/upkeep/more travel: I agreed.  It’s also a mile away from my ocean and a kayaker’s paradise.

I had a panic attack, rather severely, as we negotiated the price and did the inspection: the inspection revealed nothing major.  And so we move forward.  I’m still a bit unsettled about this whole process, especially since we’re under contract on that house and ours hasn’t hit the market yet.  We can float the 2 mortgages for a few months….but nothing long term.  The market is red hot here, so I’m hoping for a quick sell.  More prayer there too.

My loved one who has struggled with alcoholism, fell off the wagon rather unceremoniously, as expected.  It was terrible, the words they threw at me while on a high.  I officially stopped trusting anything they said and threw my anger back at them.  That hit home.  Things have been strange between us ever since.  This person sought the advice and friendship of another Christian who has had a successful recovery and I hope that “sponsorship” holds water and keeps them on the straight and narrow.  It’s sickening to watch from my perspective, but hardships can build strength and character – the Lord can turn this tragedy into a praise.

Prayer for this person has been on my lips all month.

And for my wayward niece.  And the girl I’m sponsoring for confirmation.  The friend with the troubled marriage.  The friend who was on the receiving end of spiritual abuse.  My family.  A stick built structure.  And for someone who thinks drinking a liter of wine in under an hour is totally okay.

They haven’t been long prayers.  Or even all that consistent.  But it made me stop and remember: do it with prayer.

Writing Challenge Day 19: Five Fears You Have

As someone who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and has sought treatment with varying degrees of success, I won’t go into detail about them. I don’t want to dwell on them and thus throw my brain into overdrive. Without further ado, here they are:

1. Inadvertently hurting someone, whether it’s at work (I work in the medical field), a loved one, or a stranger

2. Depths of water/being pulled out to sea

3. Cockroaches

4. Being filmed

5. Making a bad decision that has a lasting impact

Change & What Follows

My new gig is nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced in my field before. It’s embarrassingly easy.

The first couple of weeks were nothing but solid stress. There was a large stone in my stomach, even while I wasn’t at work; that seems to be subsiding now. My two employees under me had the task to train me. One of them was so Type A it was nearly suffocating. The other was so Type B it was comical. I learned a lot from both of them, though. Luckily, I do not work with them on a regular basis; they only cover me when I am out.

I work alone in a glorified closet.

In between seeing a fraction of the patients I saw at my old job, there is a lot of free time. As a contract employee, I do not have to conform to the rest of my office mates. I exist for one job and I’m the only one in the building who can perform it. Everyone has been nice, but distant. I can’t figure out if it’s office dynamics, me being introverted, or if I’m disliked. I’ve been advised to keep a low profile as the office can be a bit of a shark tank. Nonetheless, I am left to my own devices.

At first, the free time seemed nonexistent, as I was trying to get my feet underneath me. Now I’ve settled in to a comfortable routine, with the things I was fretting over are now on autopilot. Or at least I think they are.

I’m taking this time to read news stories, watch my Twitter feed, write, and read. It’s an introvert’s dream. As soon as I get the funds, I’m purchasing a 20lb kettleball weight to work on my flabby arms. I started doing push-ups on the countertop and walking on a trail at lunch. I’m going to use this time to get myself in better shape and work on my writing. And I’m very excited about that!

In other exciting news, my husband and I got a buyer’s agent: we’re officially house hunting to downsize. I have a sense of peace about this. I’m only a little sad to lose my dream house. It’s so much to maintain, inside and out: as we get older, it will only become more of a burden.

And so everything is changing again. As the leaves are in the bud stage, with pollen everywhere, spring is here. And like the trees, I believe I am coming into season as well.

Bring on the summer.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)

Writing Challenge Day 17: A Quote You Try to Live By

“….yet not my will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:4

When I was going through one of the biggest challenges of my life, this phrase was constantly on my lips. I said it through the river of tears in the aftermath of the door slamming shut. I said it filled with untethered hope at the prospect everything would work out just fine.

You see, I’m a go-getter kind of girl. I make things happen with my work ethic. As an academic and for the most part of life, this has served me well. But there are moments, years even, of complete and total failure that I cannot fix. Whether the situation is beyond my control, or there’s literary nothing can be done about it. I struggle hard in those moments. I only learned in the past few years how to fail. It still hurts, but I’ve come to accept it.

Those words of my Savior are such a comfort. Despite His status as God in flesh, He too struggled with the same thing: we knew what outcome we wanted, but we’re willing to forego that if God the Father wanted something different. And so my human condition remains.

May He get the glory in all things.

March: Do it with Prayer

I’m not much of a prayer warrior.  Truth is, I often get distracted by my own random thoughts or shiny objects.  It’s part of the reason I have embraced the contemplative prayer movement: extremely focused prayer for a short amount of time.  While looking through my list of objectives for 2017, “Do it with Prayer” fit well with March.

We have decided to sell our house.  It was at the tippy-top of our price range when we bought it in 2010, as the market had bottomed out.  We are comfortable here.  The house sits on a nearly an acre of woods and meets of all our needs.  Financially, we are doing just fine; heating and cooling this place takes a toll on those extreme weather days and I’m often freezing, but other than that, we’re not selling because it’s a burden.

We’re selling to downsize.  We want more money in the bank, less time with the upkeep, and cheaper utilities/taxes.  We have dabbled with the minimalist movement and our priorities are not what they were 7 years ago.  As life moves, we change.  And so because of this change, we’re moving.

Our current neighborhood can best be described as “variations on a theme.”  Our neighbors are nearly 90 and they just installed a chair lift, with the 2 staircases that lead to the living areas of our house.  My husband turns 50 in the next couple of years, and while he’s more active than a few twentysomethings we know, eventually, that will catch up with him.

We haven’t found a house to move into, although I found the perfect house a few blocks away – it’s significantly cheaper than our house, but still more than I was willing to pay.  But, it looks perfect from the real estate website.

And so, do it with prayer.

Praying for a house.  Not only a house, a home.  A home that I will more than likely die in or at least age significantly in.  We don’t want to move again.  The Lord will fulfill all my needs; I just need a smallish/cheapish house.  Where will that be?  And when?  And do we try to purchase it before we sell our mansion?

Also, I find myself still suffering from anxiety attacks at my new job.  The job has basically put me out to pasture in my profession: I do a fraction of what I went to college for and often find myself with loads of free time, which I plan to use for writing.  Nonetheless, I am freaking out about a temperature of a refrigerator.  I’m in charge of making sure the refrigerator stays at a certain temperature, and it was acting wonky the past couple of days.  I adjusted it, but I’m not there to monitor that adjustment.  If the temperature falls out of range, it could compromise the expensive contents of the refrigerator; contents that are essential to my job performance.

And so, do it with prayer.

Today I am praying for a new place to live that is far below our means.  I’m also praying for a refrigerator to maintain it’s temperature.  I gave my troubled niece a Bible for her birthday.  She started attending a church.  She has a scripture in her bio on Twitter.  I am praying for her salvation and for her to journey with the Lord.

So many heavy things.  So many trivial things.  C’est la vie.

Through this journey, I wonder how my prayer life will evolve through this lens.  Will we find a house?  Is my refrigerator happy?  Will my niece turn her life around with the love of the Lord?  Will my anxiety die down to a smoldering ash instead of this inferno in my chest?

And so, I do it with prayer.

 

February in Review

February’s theme was to engage with others.

I made an effort to meet up with friends on a weekly basis, and it became very difficult.  My stress level with my new job was off the charts; my trainer was an intense Type A and I needed the alone time to calm down and recalibrate.  I also had a long text conversation with my niece, which was awesome and unexpected.

I was appointed to a church leadership position that requires – you guessed it – engaging with others.  I wouldn’t have agreed to it if it weren’t for this month’s theme.  In fact, that was the only reason I agreed to it.  This should be interesting to see how this turns out.

And so…..onto the next!

February: Engage with others

As someone who has mastered the art of introvert and awkward, I tend to keep to myself.  At my current job, where I’ve been for nearly 5 years, I have no friends there.  There is no one I see or interact with outside of the constraints of my profession; I never attended social events after work because I don’t fit in there.  I’m completely okay with that.  My friendship circle is quite small, there are only a few people here who truly know where I’ve been, where I’m going, and how I feel about it.  Like most everyone else, I have trust issues.

It’s very easy for me to retreat into my shell to read, write, crochet, run, rock climb, or surf.  I love my own company and am very content to be alone.

But the problem comes from this whole Christian lifestyle thing: we’re not meant to live solitary lives.  We are meant to live in community with others; this means interacting, helping, listening, just spending time with someone.  Jesus’s entire ministry was based on community.  Yes, He spent time alone, as He needed to do – but it wasn’t His main mission.  He was always talking to crowds, meeting people in homes, eating with people – both Jewish and sinners.  We need to be more like Jesus.  In this political climate of America (dare I say, the world?), we need to live out the mission of Jesus, not just preach to the choir in nice clothes on a Sunday, but really live it.

With my new job starting later this month, I have the opportunity to forge new relationships with my co-workers.  Will I shut down like I did at this previous job?  Or will I find a lifelong friend who shares my heart?

For me, it looks like this:

  • Spend time with friends minimum once per week.
  • Actually talk to people at church and not hide under my chair.
  • Do something nice for those around me, unexpectedly.
  • Be open to new friendships.

January in Review

My theme for January was, “Learn to move forward.”

I felt like I had been stuck: drowning in anxiety, floundering at a job that caused much anxiety, and doors kept slamming shut every time I sent out my resume.  The last job I applied for said I wasn’t qualified.  It didn’t even phase me.

What did moving forward look like?

Apply mercilessly for jobs.

Stop dwelling in the past.

Be confident, for the love of God and all things holy.

Go to where the spirit of God lead.

Do something different.

And so I did.

One night after a particularly bad day at work, I sat in my car and went to a job website with the only criteria being the town I live in.  And I scrolled.  And scrolled.  I happened upon a gig in my current field with a company I had never heard of.  Long story short, I start the new gig in 2 weeks (during the process I had about 4 mental breakdowns, but I am growing….).  So much for a career change, but perhaps this is a stepping stone to something new.

My confidence is better than it has been in awhile.  The anxiety comes in waves, but it’s not nearly as debilitating as it was even a few weeks ago.  I’m not even sure what changed, besides my outlook.

I took on our church’s Twitter account, my first technical communicator gig, pro bono.  I am learning as I go with that as well.

I’m excited where I am headed professionally and spiritually in 2017, even if I am scared out of my wits about it.

So here goes!

What next?

Today I attended my first military funeral.  The deceased was a pastor, who served in the Army back in the day, and this man married my husband and I.  I worked with his wife, and so I went to support her.

As they presented the flag and played Taps on a horn, I fought the tears.  I was in ROTC in college; I presented the Colors at a college football game after 9/11 and that heavy silence of the crowd gathered still stays with me.

A part of me wondered….what is becoming of my country?  We’ve just banned 134 million people, I’m sure more are to come.  Jesus said nothing about being safe (um, Judas).  Muslim, Christian, a “none” – as a pro-life advocate, I am pro-life no matter what race, country, or story you have.  Our president says Christians will get priority – but he just banned everyone form Syria – how does that work?  How is that even Christian?  Or American?  Since when did we start discriminating against religions?  We are the land of the free – with the freedom to worship the one true God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob or if we wish to worship trees, you have the freedom to do that.

I think our American culture becomes confused with the reality of the Gospel.

I’ve seen the refugee population up close, as I used to supper with these people.  They’re no different than me: wanting the best for their families and themselves.  These are not terrorists.  I also noticed how we haven’t banned anyone from Turkey or Saudi Arabia – obvious terrorist ties there – at least not yet.  Refugees coming to America is an arduous process that takes years.  Years!  These people are not simply tapped on the shoulder, given a visa, and relocate to the US in the matter of days.  Most come with less than I would take to backpack Europe.  When someone comes to America under refugee status, they cannot ever return home.  Not to visit family, not to move back, never.  It’s a huge deal.

While I don’t have the entire story, my great grandfather Johannes was a high ranking train official in the state of Brandenburg, Germany.  Family lore says he was forced to join the political party in the early 1920’s, which would eventually morph into the Nazi party.  He declined.  The government told him if he didn’t join, they’d take his son – my 9 year old grandfather – to force his hand.

He left for America.

He left a the keys to a mansion, elite status (my grandfather and his sister were raised by a nanny and had musicians serenade them at meals), and a bank account of $45,000 in 1925 to sail 3rd class for a better life in America.  His nephew died a Nazi soldier.  I’m a second generation American because of his bravery and foresight.  He died before Hitler took power.

In my introverted civil disobedience, I made Moroccan Chicken tonight.  I’m making couscous as well.  Our diversity makes us stronger, as the president of Canada said.  I wish it was true of their southern neighbor.  We as a country freaked out like this before WWII hit our shores, and the parallels I see with a nationalist Europe and our actions quite frankly scare me.

I don’t know what’s next and I’m frightened by the direction we’re going.

Thankfully, someone on Twitter reminded me with this:

FullSizeRender 4.jpg

May the Lord Jesus Christ reign in our lives, as portrayed in the Gospels, and not through the lens of our American lives.

On my way home from the funeral, I stopped for groceries to make dinner; a reminder that the living need to go on living.

I also stopped for a bottle of coconut rum.  Because….yeah.