Saturday, August 27, 2005
It started out this morning, when I got a call from Kelly Services, offering me a wonderful job. The perfect job, actually. It is right here in town, so I wouldn't have to worry about the cost of gas. It paid well. It was only a three week job, so it didn't rule out moving within the next couple of months. And it was in the probate court, which would help me get a taste for the field of criminal justice, as well as gain experience to use in the probate court position I've applied for in GT County.
Of course, I told them I would take the job. I was so happy...it seemed like things were finally turning around. I could not have asked for a better opportunity.
However, I felt that I needed to tell them that my brother-in-law was currently on probation, and part of his probation order stated that he could not have contact with anyone in my family. The woman I spoke with thanked me for telling her, told me there was probably a way around it, and we were not going to let him rob me of this opportunity.
So, I went about my day. Shortly after I got off the phone with her, someone finally came to take my Jeep. It was fully expected, yet nonetheless painful. There was such finality to it, as I saw it being towed away, and realized what had just happened.
Awhile later, I got the call from Kelly Services I'd been waiting for. You know, the one where they tell me everything worked out fine and I can start my job as we'd discussed. Only, such would not be the case. They decided that, given the circumstances, it would not be wise to put me in that position...but they assured me they would keep looking for a job for me. I appreciated the assurance, though it did little to soothe me at the moment. They thanked me for my honesty, and told me that it really tells them a lot about a person when they are willing to be that honest. I wanted to tell them that I have an uncanny knack for being so honest about things that it costs me good jobs, but I thought I'd better not go there.
Darn ethics, anyway.
A few hours and a nap later, I went for a walk, and called Mister. I had not spoken to him in about a week, and I thought that perhaps speaking to him might bring some measure of...comfort?...giddyness?...euphoria?...to my day.
You know, some things are just better left alone.
He informed me that he had returned to school, which is roughly three hours away from here. I immediately thought...nice that he let me know he was leaving town.
We talked a bit about things, and I have to admit, despite the initial shock of realizing he wasn't in the area anymore, it was comforting to talk to him. He's a good one to talk to, just because of who he is. He has a confidence about him that is rather contagious, and one does get the feeling after speaking with him that, somehow, everything in this mixed up world is going to be okay.
Anyway, as the conversation went on, I asked him when he would be in the area again. And then it came...the sucker punch I'd been waiting for, but never actually thought would come. He told me that he didn't think he'd be in the area anytime in the forseeable future, because he had no real reason to come back this way.
As I listened to what he was saying, and felt the need to explain at least three times, it felt like something slow, sharp, and painful was piercing through me. In less than two weeks time, I'd gone from being someone he enjoyed spending time with and was wondering what kind of future he'd have with, to being lumped in with the many reasons that are not good enough to bring him back to this area for a visit.
Perhaps my generally crappy day had robbed me of my perspective, but his matter-of-fact declaration seemed incredibly insensitive. I am still baffled by the idea that someone could say something so cold, and just expect me to be okay with that.
I fully realize that Mister and I were never a couple, per se, but when we last talked, I was at least under the impression that we were both equally curious about where this relationship was heading, and each had every intention of keeping in touch with the other and watching the relationship grow. He told me again tonight that he would keep in touch, but I won't hold my breath for that, as he left the area without even telling me.
After Mister and I hung up, I asked God why in the world he brought Mister into my life at all. It all seemed very cruel...like a great cosmic tease. I still feel all shredded inside. This whole day seemed like a big joke, and as I continued my walk I had to wonder what on earth God was doing in all of this. I still am not sure.
A good friend reminded me tonight that sometimes the things that come into our lives are not always God's perfect plan, but they are things He permits. Perhaps this is where Mister comes into the picture.
All in all, though, I feel like today was laden with no, and I am waiting for God to open up to me a world of YES.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The blessing of friends
When I saw Herbie, he told me he was glad I was there, because I am important to him. Having gotten past all the weirdness of having a crush on him, I was so touched by that statement, and once again reminded of what a treasure I have in being able to count him among my friends.
Another friend is giving me a television, after I shared with him that my television and computer got fried in that fateful electrical storm back in June. Another friend has offered to look at my computer and see what he can do to fix it, since he has his own business fixing computers. Another friend told me he would talk to his mom, who is looking for a roommate, about letting me move in with her. He is going to explain my situation to her, and see what can be arranged regarding rent while I get back on my feet. She has a house right in town ("in town" meaning, in the town I would like to move to), and it would be such a huge blessing if that worked out. That alone would open so many doors for me.
There was a new girl there tonight, and she shared with me that she was in my situation about a year ago. She said it took her seven months to find work, and she can relate to how incredibly difficult it is. (Especially in this area, where what you know is secondary to who you know, and if you don't know the right people....) It was good to talk to someone who can understand what it is like to have to let go of everything you thought was yours.
She also gave me an idea for what path I am to pursue in the long run. I have been torn between social work and criminal justice, and she suggested perhaps becoming a social worker who works in the criminal justice system. She mentioned specifically working in some sort of transitional program for those who are just leaving jail or prison, and need assistance in finding jobs, housing, etc...Interesting idea, worth exploring.
I went out to lunch with a friend a couple of days ago, and among the many things we talked about, she shared with me a prayer that she had been praying for herself and her husband in the midst of their search for a house. After experiencing one disappointment after another, she began praying that God would protect them from pursuing fruitless paths. When she told me that, I thought...what a wonderfully awesome and practical prayer!! At the risk of sounding redundant, I was BLESSED by that simple prayer.
I have begun praying that prayer for myself, after several months of pursuing fruitless paths in my search for work. I am also praying that God would open doors according to His will, and close doors that are not in line with what He has for me right now. The doors He opens, no man can close, and the doors He closes, no man can open. There is one specific job I am hoping for right now, working for the county in the probate court. However, if it is not God's will, I'm praying that door would remain shut tight. No more fruitless paths for me.
I have been so incredibly blessed by having some very wonderful people in my life. Not just because of what they do for me, but because of who they are. My life is made richer just by knowing them.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Learning to fly...
This certainly is not how I anticipated that things would work out. I did not anticipate that, three months after the fact, I would still be unemployed after leaving CMH. I did not anticipate...any of this. I knew it was a possibility, but I thought...No, God will not let that happen. He will provide.
Last night, during my time with God, I read Exodus 19:4. God is speaking to the Israelites, and says, "You saw what I did in Egypt, carrying you on eagle's wings and bringing you to Myself..."
The Bible makes a lot of references to eagles, and the lessons we learn from them as they are taught to fly. I remember a few years ago, I heard a pastor make a reference to how eagles are taught to fly, in which she claimed that eagles learn to fly by riding on their mother's back, ascending to tremendous heights, then being dropped. Just before the eaglet is dashed against the jagged earth below, the mother eagle swoops down, catches her baby, and again takes her to those breathtaking heights...and drops her again. This is done repeatedly, until the eaglet finally learns that by spreading her wings, she will soar, and be spared a certain death.
Honestly, I am often skeptical of illustrations that pastors use in their sermons, as I sometimes think Christendom as a whole reaches a bit far to make its point. So, ever the inquisitor, I looked this up for myself. God obviously thought that eagles had something to teach us, particularly through their flight habits, and I wanted to know what the big deal was.
After a bit of Googling, I found some very interesting information, and it was confirmed on several websites about eagles, particularly bald eagles.
Apparently, the process of learning to fly begins long before the "fly or die" flight the eaglet takes with its mother.
The process begins with making the nest uncomfortable for the eaglet. The safe, soft warmth of the nest so carefully built by the parents is slowly deconstructed until little is left of the next except the most bare necessities, hardly comfortable. Throughout all of this, however, the eaglet is still being fed regularly by its parents. Its basic needs are still being met.
Then, it seems that just as the eaglet is fairly comfortable enough with its surroundings and feeding arrangement, a crucial moment comes and...the eaglet is left alone in the nest. The parents stop bringing its food, despite its desperate cries to be fed. The parents often fly by the nest, in view of the eaglet, but their talons are empty and offer no relief to the hungry eaglet.
The eaglet, growing thinner, takes whatever scraps it can find through the remainder of the nest. As the days pass, the eaglet grows thinner, but becomes quicker in its movements, playfully approaching the edge of the nest, sometimes even being airborne for a moment or two if a gust of wind catches it just right.
At this point, the eagles will feed the eaglet now and then...perhaps just enough to leave him wanting more. There the eaglet stands at the edge of the nest, watching as his parent approaches, carrying in its talons a meal that the eaglet desperately needs. There stands the eaglet, flapping his wings, teetering on the edge of the nest, screaming for food. And what does mom or dad do? They pass, just out of reach.
Throughout all of this, the eaglet's down is being replaced with feathers. Down is soft and warm, but does little good for flying. The eaglet is hungry and thin, but is maturing, growing stronger and more swift.
And then, it happens...The eagle comes by, once again carrying food in its talons. The eaglet again stands there, screaming for food, perhaps nearly losing his balance as the food passes by so closely, yet out of reach...The eagle passes again, closer this time, a delicious meal dangling from his talons. The eaglet watches as the eagle rides the wind, and in a moment, the eaglet is airborne himself. For the first time in the eaglet's life, he is gliding, using his strength to reach toward the very thing he needs. The eagle drops the meal he'd been carrying, and the eaglet angles downward and makes a clumsy landing, and, for the first time in what felt like an eternity, he eats until he has had his fill.
Interstingly, 40% of eaglets do not survive their first flight. They do not grasp the concept that they must open their wings to fly, and instead succumb to fear and panic as what seems like certain doom approaches.
But for those who do learn...They begin with short flights, while their parents are still providing their food. Through trial and error, they learn the finer points of flight. The eaglet will learn how to hunt by watching its parents, and by the time the eaglet is ready to leave the nest, its days of clumsy flight are over....it has learned how to soar in the majestic ways we read about, or see pictures of, and it has become an expert hunter.
But none of this would have happened if it had not been made absolutely desperate for food. And perhaps that is how we as Christians are taught to fly...God takes everything we rely on, until we are left with nothing else to reach for except God Himself. All the things outside of Him that we look to for peace and comfort are removed, until God alone is our provider. And in order to soar on wings like eagles, we have to take that first step out of all that we know, feel the terror of the fall, and then...open the wings of faith, and glide on His promises.
In the last few months, I've had many things taken, and many things I've had to let go of. Things that I thought were mine, I quickly realized never really belonged to me at all, as God owns everything. In all the pain of things I understand, and things I cannot begin to explain, I see that God is teaching me to fly.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Okay, so maybe not...
After several hours of fretting and looking through the paper and concluding that I would probably end up slingin' tater tots at the high school cafeteria, I finally called a gentleman from the church, with whom I had discussed a job opportunity last week. (Yes, I know, a collective sigh of, "Stefanie...Stefanie...when will you learn?") . So, we talked, and I think I pretty much have a job with him...A job that actually offers substantial pay, a job where I will have a Christian as my boss, etc...
Oh my goodness, I cannot wait until I find the place where I am supposed to be, and can settle in to what I am supposed to be doing. This has been a fun ride, but I am ready for it to be over now.
In other news, I have registered for some online courses, and I am very excited about them. Since I am already going through enough difficult transitions in my life, I decided to take some courses I knew I would enjoy, and save some of the more "academic" stuff for later. I am taking Intro to Criminal Justice, and Intro to Cultural Anthropology. Fun electives...Yay!!!
As far as other things go, all is status quo, and life is good. Amen.
Monday, August 15, 2005
So there we were...
It was nervewracking, thinking of meeting these people who'd heard enough about me that they actually wanted to meet me. I wasn't sure what to expect of them, nor what they were expecting of me. At one point, I told Mister that I would be right back, after I found somewhere to vomit. I did not actually do that, of course, but I did feel as though I could, if I wanted to. :)
His friends are very nice people. Good, solid, real people, and people who love the Lord. And VERY FUNNY! All of which made for a very enjoyable day. I hope to get to know these people better.
After they left, Mister and I had a chance to talk about things as we cleaned up the dishes from dinner. (He washed, I dried, which was perfect.)
We both agreed that we've been curious as to where this whole thing is going. We also both agreed that neither one of us is really in a position right now to begin any kind of a serious relationship, with him focused on starting school, and me focused on just getting my life back together. We laughed as we talked about all the, "So, what's going on with you two?" type questions we've been getting lately. It was also funny that we both consistently answered with, "I don't know". And we both agreed that there is no need to know anything right now, that it is enough that we've been able to spend time together, that we know we enjoy each other's company, we can take our time building our friendship and just seeing where this is going. There are some things that work much better if you just take them slowly, and we'll both know if it's meant to be more than what it is right now.
I am so wonderfully okay with this arrangement! :) It is so nice to have this time just to figure it all out, not feeling pressured into anything, or feeling as though I am with someone who needs me like he needs oxygen, and will die if I'm not there. I so appreciate the fact that he has his own life, his own goals, and his own way of doing things. No smothering me! YAY!
I do not know if I will see him again before he heads back to school. It depends on his work schedule and whatnot. We have agreed to keep in touch, to take our time with things, and just...BE. And, as Pat noted after one of my posts a couple months ago..."Being is good."
Yes it is.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Things and stuff...
Where would you like me start? Okay, I'll start with the new job.
I am working for Bluegreen Vacation Club, selling mini-vacations to the Petoskey/Boyne Falls area. I do this over the phone, which makes my job....TELEMARKETING. (At this point, were this an audio feed, I would probably have some music playing such as you would find in "Creature from the Black Lagoon"). Yes, telemarketing...the thing that makes your Saturday mornings complete, interrupts your dinner, and gets you out of bed far too early in the morning to answer the call that you think might be important...
So, how's the job going so far? It's really not that bad. I haven't encountered anyone yet who has been so irritated by my phone call that they have felt the need to swear at me, or make suggestions about things I may do with myself in order to make them feel better. For only being on the job two days, I've established some good leads, and would have even made a sale already, had the person I called believed in credit cards. Oy! Oh well...All in all, the job is not bad, it is a paycheck with potential for commissions, I enjoy the people I work with, and...did I mention that it's a paycheck?
This job is full time with benefits, which was the main attraction for me. I am, however, going to find another part time job to work for a little while, until I am caught up from nearly a whole summer of not being employed. It will be hard, but I'll get through it.
I have concluded that, all things considered, maybe it would not be wise to take on the additional stress of starting classes this semester. I really would like to, but I also have to be realistic about my situation, and the fact that I need to be earning a paycheck moreso than I need to be studying English Composition or American Sign Language right now. I am sad that I can't do the classes...well, sad about the ASL, anyway...but all of these things will come in time.
Tomorrow, he and I are getting together with some friends of his who, he assures me, are excited to meet me. We've been trying to plan this for a couple of weeks now, but with work schedules and such, it's been all but impossible. So, tomorrow is the day...
I am quite nervous about this, I must say. First of all, I've never had someone so "into me" that they've actually taken the time to plan something so I could meet their friends, much less friends who are excited to meet me. Secondly, I'm not sure what this means, if anything. As I said, this is uncharted territory for me.
I am glad, though, that he and I have both made it clear since the beginning that we don't want any guessing games. We both agreed early on that we hate dating, because it seems like one big game, and it's better to just lay it all out on the table so there is no room for misinterpretation. There just comes a point where playing the game isn't fun anymore, and you just get too old for that stuff. So, with that in mind, I'm sure he and I are going to talk at some point about what happens when he leaves for school, where do "we" go from there, etc...
He stopped in to see me at work a couple of days ago, which I thought was so very sweet. Again, something new.
When I think of my past relationships, I have to say that there is not one among them in which I was healthy, or the man I was with was healthy. After my last relationship ended a couple of years ago, I decided that I just needed some time to heal, to get healthy, to get grounded in Christ, and let Him make me whole before I made room in my life for another person again. It has only been within this past year that I have even had an interest in dating again, and even then, my interest has been very limited.
I think that is what is making this whole thing even sweeter...I am enjoying having this time to spend with Mister, getting to know him, nurturing this budding relationship, but, my life and being does not depend on it. I know it is still much too early to know where this is going, and I am completely okay with that. I don't need all the answers right now, I've got my own life going on, and I don't feel the need or desire to cling to him in order to have purpose and value in my life. He has his own life to live as well, and does not need me to provide him with direction, purpose, or value. It is wonderful!
Yes, God is good, and He loves us very much. I am seeing it more every day, even when it is because of His love that I have to reap what I've sown, and life has to be difficult for awhile. Even in this, there is great love, and I am so thankful for it.
Friday, August 05, 2005
I found another job today. It does not pay that well, but it does come with a very nice benefit package, and the potential for advancement if I do well. It is a telemarketing job, but it is selling something I would likely buy myself if I had the money, so I am praying that God will enable me to do well in this. The hours are ideal, in that I will not have to compromise my class schedule or my observance of the Sabbath in order to accomodate this job. In fact, earlier today, I was doing some follow-up investigating on another application I had turned in, and the woman I was speaking to asked me if it was true I could not work at all on Sundays. I told her that was true, and she told me that she did not have a position for me then. I figured, that was fine, it only meant there was something else out there for me. And, half an hour later, I was hired at this other job.
I realize there may be situations in which it is all but impossible to avoid working on Sundays...but I also think that God is calling Christians to start taking ourselves seriously, and if we do so, He will bless that. He has told us to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest from our work, and I think that, for me personally, it is something I need to do. It's just a choice I've made, and it seems that God is honoring that choice.
God has brought me so many good things these last few days.
A few days ago, seemingly all at once, I realized it was time to just let things go regarding my former employer. I had spent time typing up an appeal of my unemployment denial...an appeal several pages long, listing all the many reasons why I felt I had no choice but to leave. I was not sure if I should appeal it, but I was preparing the appeal anyway.
Then, in a moment, I just felt that God was telling me to leave it be, and move on. The cliche "What would Jesus do?" flashed into my mind, and I recalled that, in the moment of life or death, Jesus was silent before His accusers. A friend...who I will write about momentarily...reminded me that Jesus was not always silent before His accusers, and at times challenged His accusers to essentially "put up or shut up"...But in the moment when it mattered the most, He was silent, and I believe with all my being that is what God is having me do right now...be silent in the matter. Go no further with it, make no more arguments, send no letters, and make no phone calls. Just let it be.
In the world's estimation, this would seem a cowardly or weak act. Believe me, I did consider this. It makes no sense not to fight for what seems to be rightfully yours. Yet, as I talked with my friend about this and other things last night, he made a comment that seemed to put it all together for me..."Sometimes it's best to just leave the past in the past."
Certainly, as far as things that happened at that job are concerned, they are best left in the past. But it goes beyond that. So many things about that job were associated with the Stefanie that was before Jesus took over and began making things new. One of the primary qualifications for the job is that you have to be a consumer of mental health services to be considered for the position. Therefore, throughout the entire length of my employment, I was at any given moment running the risk of being lumped in with those still struggling with their mental health issues, and would never be seen as being more than a conqueror in Christ. No...so many things about that job had me chained and bound to the Stefanie that was so oppressed with the enemy's darkness that it nearly robbed her of her life. And it is for this reason more than any other, I believe, that God is challenging me to simply let it be. Not even, "Let it be and let me deal with those who harmed you"...but simply, let it be.
And I have to say, I have found such freedom. My life is moving forward, I am learning what truly matters, and God has given me a love and appreciation for things that I never would have realized had I not gone through this valley.
And I am finding restoration for my soul...gifts from God, reminding me that I am His, and He has not forgotten me.
Perhaps one of the greatest of those gifts has been the most unexpected of them all, and that is Mister (name changed to protect the innocent). He is the guy I went out with on my birthday, and we've spent some time together since.
He joined me for Oasis last night, and I was able to introduce him to my friends there. I felt a certain sense of pride in being able to say he was there with me, and a school-girl giddyness at the same time.
After Oasis, he and I went out for coffee (for me) and hot chocolate (for him), and we spent two hours talking and laughing and just enjoying each other's company. (And I could not help but notice how beautiful his eyes are, and how the light played on his dark skin, and that I love his smile... *sigh*). As we were leaving, I told him that I've really been enjoying spending time with him, and he told me that he'd been enjoying spending time with me, too. He said it's all been a very nice surprise.
I have to keep telling myself...I will not get too excited too soon!!!!!! (Herbie, with whom I've been on quite platonic terms for a month or so now, warned me to be careful of that.) But it's so hard to do!! I just love every minute I spend with him! I hardly slept last night, I just felt all happy and warm and wonderful inside.
(Relationship Definition: Friends...in case you were wondering)
I do think the very best gifts are the ones you never, ever saw coming.
Monday, August 01, 2005
I was reading my last post, and was amazed at my own silliness. I think I was indeed very overspent at the time of that posting, as I was quite enthralled with a young man who does not even speak English, with whom I do not even desire any kind of a relationship. Even moreso, since discovering that what little he did tell me about himself is not even true. Go figure. At any rate, it is funny to me, how I can sometimes get so caught up in emotions that are so unbelievably silly. Perhaps it was just a moment's reprieve from the stressors I've been dealing with. I'm not sure. However, I knew things had gone a bit far when he came up to me today and asked me for directions to my house. I, of course, did not give him directions, and made a point of avoiding him the rest of the day. I was very grateful that today was the last day of cherry processing. (though I feel like a bit of a jerk, if I have done anything to make him think he and I were in any way an "item".)
I celebrated my 30th birthday last Saturday, in a most wonderfully unexpected way.
A couple of weeks ago, a guy started working at the plant. He seemed very nice. I suspected he was a Christian, but we never really talked about it. We sat together at lunch, along with several others at our table, and just passed the time with joking and the small talk people make...Nothing extraordinary.
At any rate, he asked me what I was doing for my birthday, and I told him I was going to go see a movie. It occurred to me that he might like to come along, so I invited him. It wasn't a date, just two people going to see a movie, so I would have something to do on my birthday.
Later, he came up to me and asked me if I wanted to get something to eat before the movie. I said sure, we could do that. At this point, I am thinking that it's still just two people going out together. Not a date.
So, we went out, and it turned into a date, I guess. lol He paid for everything, which I guess makes it a date. We had a WONDERFUL time. There were no moments of awkward silence that so often happens on those first dates. We spent a lot of time talking about our faith, scripture, our church experiences, where we think God is leading the modern church, etc...We also spent a lot of time talking about silliness and nonsense, which in my mind makes for an evening of very well-rounded conversation.
We saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (my pick), and we both found it incredibly funny.
At the end of the evening, he thanked me for a wonderful night, and I thanked him for giving me a wonderful 30th birthday. We agreed that we wanted to see each other again before he goes back to school in a couple of weeks, and I am VERY MUCH looking forward to our next "date"(?).
At work today, he confessed to me that, up until we were eating dinner, he wasn't even sure if it was a date. And then, I told him I wanted to get some candy at the movies, but not to worry, because I'd brought my own money for that...and that sealed it. It is very funny, really. Who knows...maybe in the future, as we are sharing our story about our first date, we will be able to give everyone a good laugh about just how it came to be a date at all.
Anyway, I really had a great time. And he told me again today what a wonderful time he had, and that he'd been telling other people how great it was.
I have never, ever felt so at ease with someone. And it all came about somewhat accidentally. Or just incidentally. Happenstance.
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