Friday, September 30, 2005
At Oasis tonight, I had a wonderful time of fellowship with friends that grow more dear to me every time I see them.
Herbie is leaving for a mission's trip to Africa on Saturday, and I am praying that God will protect him and the rest of his team, use them mightily, and bring them home to us safely. We hugged, gave each other a friendly kiss on the cheek, and I told him to have a safe trip. I love him tremendously just as he is, but I know God is going to use this trip to refine him. I can't wait to see him when he returns!
There was also news tonight of the church forming a missions trip to Lousiana to assist those affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This news was very welcome, because I have been wanting desperately to help those people, but have felt utterly unable to do it. I very much want to go on this trip, and I know that if it is within God's will for me to do so, He will provide the financing.
Apparently, the church is going to pay for our food while we are there, but the majority of the financing for the trip has to come from the individuals going. I so much want to be a part of this, so we'll see what God has in store. The planning and logistics of the trip are only in their very early stages of development, so there are a lot of unanswered questions right now regarding the specifics.
I'll keep my faithful reader(s) updated as this progresses.
All in all, today feels remarkably more productive than my days have felt in a long while. I have a greater sense of direction and purpose, and my confidence that God is working in ways I cannot see is once again renewed.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I want so badly to be able to move out of this apartment, and really start living a life on my own. That had been my goal, before the excrement hit the fan at CMH, and I lost my income and the retirement funds I'd planned to tap into in order to make the move. Now, I am working at a job that pays roughly half of what I was making, and at this rate, it is unlikely I'll be able to move anytime soon. With as far behind as I am in bills, $7 an hour will only take me so far...
I am desperately wanting to see some justice in this. It is very difficult for me to know that those who have not only wronged me, but have wronged so many others, are still collecting their ample paychecks and benefits, and I am left to barely scrape by. I look at this, and think, "God, where are You??? You say You are a just God...where is the justice??? Why am I left to struggle, and those who have chosen wickedness over righteousness are thriving???? Why have You not made this right????" And, I feel angry.
And yet, I trust Him. The deepest parts of my soul know that He is working, He is in control, and He has a purpose in all of this. I do not understand a thing about what He is doing right now, and when I look at things as they are right now, I think in the words of Everychild..."It's just not fair!", and I want to stamp my foot and throw a temper tantrum, as though it could in any way sway God's activity.
He is showing me His faithfulness in small ways.
In church on Sunday, I took a couple of bills out of my purse to put in the offering. It was not enough to cover my tithe, but with what little money I have right now, I thought...it's enough...isn't it? God has really been dealing with me about honoring Him with my finances, and I felt the absolute conviction of God saying, "Give me the whole thing." I'm thinking...But God, you don't get it. This is ALL I have! I still have to put gas in the car, and have enough money to get me through til payday! How can I give You the whole thing?...And yet, He persisted, and I obeyed.
After church, I drove home, and stopped at the gas station on the way to get a coffee. I'd been up most of the night, and had to work that afternoon, and needed something to get by on, so, I stopped. When I returned to my car, it would not start. No matter how many times I tried, it simply was not going to start.
I began making phone calls...I was able to reach a very good friend, who assured me he would come get me if I needed him to, but he had no advice to offer me on how to get my car started. I then remembered that I had the phone number of another friend who also happened to be an auto mechanic. I called him, and he said he would be there in about twenty minutes.
He came out, fixed my car on the spot, and asked for nothing in return. He told me the car was acting like it was running out of gas, even though it had fuel, so I needed to put some gas in it just to be safe. I'm thinking...okay, I've got a little bit of money left, I can do that. I told him I could put a few dollars worth in, and I pulled over to the pump.
As I stopped the car, he pulled out his wallet, took out his credit card, and told me that today was my lucky day, because I was getting free gas. He proceeded to put $20 worth of fuel in my car.
I immediately felt a little embarrassed, not in front of my friend, but in front of God, remembering our conversation earlier that day. Remembering what a time I was having trusting that He would do as He promised He would, and provide for my needs...remembering that, after all this, I still have not learned that when we acknowlege Him in all our ways, He directs our paths.
I have not had any problems with my car since Sunday. I really do think that God stopped my car that day to gain my undivided attention, and show me clearly that it is never a risk to trust Him. He will provide.
And so, even amidst tremendous frustration, I am trusting that He is leading. Jesus lead on, I will follow.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Nothing in particular
I still find myself at that point of needing to remind myself that God has a purpose in everything. I do not necessarily believe that there is some grand scheme behind why my car is dying, but I do believe that sometimes the whole purpose of the things we face in life is simply to bring us into a deeper knowledge of Christ. That in itself is a grand enough purpose, and if God uses the things in our lives for something beyond that, it is a bonus.
I do think God certainly ordered the steps I've taken in the last few months, and it has lead me to this point. If I had not found a job so close to home, I would have still been driving nearly 40 minutes to get to work, which means my car would likely have broken down somewhere between here and there. I would have ended up without a job or a car to drive, and that would have made my situation that much worse. All in all, even in the middle of so much uncertainty, I see God's hand moving.
I think sometimes we have to surrender what we believe is our right to have all the answers. Our right to make sense of things. Our right to understand. Sometimes, I think God is asking us to just walk forward in the darkness, trusting that even though we have no idea where we are going, God sees the whole picture, and is only asking that we trust Him with the details. It is a hard thing, surrendering the control. Letting go of things that we believe we have every right to hold on to.
But, it is a sweet surrender. What started as a bitter battle for control, and the angry, reluctant realization that I have none, has become a place of freedom and relief for me. I realize I have no control over much of what is happening in my life right now, and really, that has taken tremendous weight off my shoulders. It is strangely calming to look at my life right now and think, "Wow, God, I'm glad this is YOUR problem. There is NOTHING I can do about it!"
I have spent the last several months fighting so hard to get to where I thought I should be, I didn't realize that I am exactly where God wants me.
It is like finding the difference between furiously treading water just to stay afloat, and relaxing on a raft as you float down a lazy river.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Will the fun ever stop???
However, for today, God has seen fit that I should endure just a little more discipline. And since His word tells us that He disciplines those He loves, I suppose I can count myself blessed.
My day was going well enough. I picked up my check from the last job I had, and was going in to town to buy some khaki pants for my new job, which I start tomorrow. I was happy with the thought of being able to put gas in my car, add minutes to my cell phone, and so forth. I was talking with a friend of mine as I pulled into Tom's Market, and we were having a good conversation. All in all, I was having a great day.
I found a parking spot, parked and shut off the car, and heard the most horrible sounds coming from somewhere under the hood on the passenger's side of the car.
"Oh my...Mark, can you hear that? I think my car is dying!"
"Yeah, I can hear that! What's going on?"
"I'm not sure, but I'm getting out of this car before it explodes or something."
I exit the vehicle, still talking to Mark, and walk around to the passenger's side, where I see fluid gushing out under the vehicle, and steam rolling out from under the hood.
"Oh no, this is bad. There are oceans of fluid coming out of my car."
"Oh no. Do you need to call someone? Where are you?"
As I was telling him where I was, a young man came over to the car, who was an off-duty police officer, as it turned out...Though, I might have guessed by his opening statement.
"Looks like you've got a little problem here."
Indeed I did.
Making a long story short, he told me that I shouldn't drive the car any further, and I needed to get it looked at and fixed before I drove it anymore. (He also told me how to get some help with writing my midterm paper for Intro to Criminal Justice...bonus!)
Mark came to rescue from the parking lot, and deposited me at the mall where I could get my errands done. As my Triple A card had expired, I called my dad, who used his to get my car towed back to my house.
Later at Oasis, I shared my story, and someone offered me a car to drive while I am waiting to get mine fixed. Another person offered me a ride home...quite a drive...and ended up not charging me any money for gas. Both were tremendous blessings.
I am not sure what God is doing here. Not at all. It seems that, as soon as my life has some sense of normalcy, something comes along to throw it off kilter again. Almost as though God does not want me to get too comfortable in anything right now.
I am thankful things happened as they did today...I was in a parking lot instead of at the side of the road, I was on the phone with a friend who was ready to help me, there happened to be someone in the parking lot who was willing to help me, and I had friends at Oasis who were and are willing to help me until the situation stabilizes. All in all, I am very blessed, even though my car...is not.
God is good.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Circumstantially, things are stabilizing. I have finally found a job that is close to home, so I won't be spending a fortune on fuel just to get to work. It is not a glamorous job by any means, but it is better than other jobs I've had in the last few months, and pays me a bit more than those jobs did, as well. All in all, not a bad deal. The money I'll save on fuel will help me get caught up on other things.
No, the culprit for my wild ride is the absolute uncertainty of what the heck it is I am supposed to be doing in the grander scheme of things.
When I left CMH, I still had the absolute certainty that I was supposed to be a social worker. More specifically, a social worker in a setting dealing with mentally ill adults.
Since May, however, roots of bitterness and indifference have had time to grow, and I am at a point where I am disgusted with the idea of working in the mental health system...Yet, it is something that won't let go of me.
I can't seem to shake it, this desire I have to work in the mental health field. Not as a nurse, not as a corrections officer (yes, corrections officers are default mental health workers. Look at the statistics on the mentally ill in correctional facilities.) ... Not as anything but a social worker. A very proactive social worker.
I think my experience with CMH left a bad taste in my mouth, in that it showed me that the expectations for mentally ill individuals are set VERY low, and this is considered perfectly acceptable in the mental health community. It is not acceptable to me, nor to many of the consumers I had contact with, and I get beyond frustrated when I think about working with a bureaucracy that encourages helplessness and codependency. I feel angry...Even enraged at times...That those who attempt the raise the bar are blackballed, and those who continually bludgeon people with their mental illness are the ones elevated to positions of power in the mental health system.
And yet...It will not let go of me. I cannot seem to shake the desire...The need...To get my hands dirty by working in such a totally screwed up system, if only to shake things up and be an advocate for the individuals who are suffering at the hands of a system purported to help them.
I think it is wanting everything all at once. I am not content with the idea of playing their game any longer. I want to be a mover and a shaker, and make monumental changes. Maybe my problem isn't a lack of direction. Maybe it is a lack of patience.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Since we last met...
Well, okay, things are improving...
Before I get into the improvements, I should share something that absolutely broke my heart...
I have been struggling with allergies for awhile, and the culprit has been my sweet little kitty, ShaSha. I have tried several remedies for the situation, but all of them are either too expensive without health insurance, or they absolutely knock me out and I cannot function after using them. I have been looking for a good home for ShaSha for several months now, and she was finally adopted by a new family on Labor Day.
I knew it was the right thing to do, both for my own health, and so ShaSha could be with a family that could care for her the way she needs to be cared for. (I couldn't hold her for too long, brush her, or pet her very much. And she's a little cuddler, and cuddling was all but completely out of the question...). They came and met her about a week before taking her, then came back on Labor Day to "finalize the adoption". Amidst heartwrenching "cries" from my poor little kitty, she was sent home with her new family, and I am now attempting to adjust to life without her.
Physically, I am feeling much better, but emotionally, it has been trying. I still find myself listening for her meows when I come home, or waiting for her to be milling around my feet while I am making dinner. When I go to bed, I still wait expectantly to feel her jump into bed with me, only to remember that she is not there. I know I did the right thing in finding a new home for her, but this adjustment time is much harder than I thought it would be. The place just feels empty without her here.
It is truly amazing, the impact a little ten pound animal can have on one's life, and the emptiness you feel when they are gone.
I called today to see how she was adjusting, and was told she is doing fairly well, though as you might expect, she is not altogether thrilled with the change of scenery. I pray for her, that God would communicate to her in her own language that she is safe, that she is going to be okay, and that she is loved. God communicated with the animals back in Noah's day, and they all ended up on a cruise. I'm sure God can communicate with ShaSha now, and she will bond with her new family as she did with me.
In other news, my new job is not terrible, but I am thankful that I will not be there for very long. It is an easy job, as far as what I actually have to do is concerned, but it is very difficult in that it is taking quite a toll on my back. After being hunched over a sewing machine for ten hours, my back feels like it is one big knot of muscle. I have been assured that this gets better after a couple of weeks, but truth be told, I am glad I will not be there long enough to find out.
After an entire summer of seeking employment there, the local resort has finally called me and offered me a job. I will be working in either reservations...which I really want...or housekeeping, which would be acceptable. This job is less than ten minutes from my house, so it will save me a fortune in fuel, not to mention the trouble of traveling on treacherous winter roads.
It is funny, the changes in mindset that occur over time. Four months ago, if you had asked me if I would ever want to work at this place, I would have told you quite plainly that I had no intention of ever working there. However, at this point, a job there would be an absolute blessing.
I think I have had the tendency over the last few months to want everything just right, right now, and I put too much pressure on myself. For example, with the CNA training I want to take...I want it done RIGHT NOW, but the better solution is probably to work at the resort through the winter, since it is nearby, and plan on taking the CNA training when it is offered in the spring. If I work locally through the winter, I could conceivably move by March of next year, since I will have money not only from employment, but from taxes and student loan leftovers. This is a more realistic solution than trying to make everything happen, all at once, right now.
It's okay to take my time.
My classes are going well. I am rather amused at the differences I see between myself and other students, who I am guessing are quite a bit younger than me. I am taking courses over the internet, so I can't be sure, but the tone and the approach of the other students seems...well...juvenile. I am not criticizing in the least, only observing, and thinking that I am glad I waited to start classes. It is just different, when you are older and there because you want to be, not because you are expected to be or you feel like you have to be.
All in all, things are okay. Slowly getting better.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I am overwhelmed with a feeling of total helplessness. So many people suffering, and I want so much to do something, but am utterly unable to do anything tangible to ease the burden a bit. I realize there is tremendous power in prayer, and yet sometimes, I find myself feeling that I want to do something "real". And yet...And yet...I know that we do not serve an idle God, and our prayers can propel unseen forces into action. So, I pray.
This disaster has caused me to step back and look at where my life is going. I've thought...And thought...And thought...About possibly pursuing something other than social work. Perhaps it is a case of once bitten, twice shy, but my experiences with CMH have really left me a bit jaded against the idea of social work. I want to go into a helping profession, but have considered for awhile that perhaps social work is not where I am supposed to be.
So, I've been talking to a couple of friends about their careers in nursing. This is something I hadn't seriously considered, but had thought about. I feel as though my life is at a place where I am going to end up taking a road I never imagined taking, as all familiar roads have lead me nowhere. Perhaps this is it. It remains to be seen, but I am keeping my eyes open for road signs.
I've spent much of the last week making peace with things that I cannot change....SERENITY NOW!
Post-Mister thoughtlife has been that of navigating through self-blaming, Mister-blaming and demonization, and simply accepting it at face value for what it is....somebody who just was not interested in me, however cruelly he may have expressed it.
I am starting yet another job next week, and trying ever so hard to have a good attitude about it. I am working at a plant that makes some sort of clothing, and I will be working in quality control. The job is half an hour away, and pays all of $6.50 an hour. The burden of necessity compels me to accept this job, though I am not sure the pay is worth what it will cost me in fuel. But, it is a paycheck, and better than nothing at all. I am still praying that God will open other doors.
I do not understand what He is doing. Not at all.
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