Saturday, August 27, 2011


This week has been a trying week, but there is much to celebrate and for which to praise God. Obviously, the first few days of the week were very difficult, learning that Mom's cancer was growing in a new spot again. That day and night for her were awful, and when they tried to do her first radiation treatment, she was in extreme pain and it was pretty traumatic.  The nurse was very patient, however, and let Mom figure out a way to move into position that worked for her.  Thank God for that nurse!

But things improved after that.  They have upped her pain meds quite a bit, and that evening, the thing that never happens in hospitals happened: they let her sleep for 6 hours, uninterrupted! She felt wonderful Thursday, and, after her second radiation treatment, she was discharged! It was really a wonderful day. And, on my end, I managed to record four lectures in two days, so I have a month of lectures ready to go.  Yesterday I managed to get access to Blackboard and spent most of the afternoon/evening setting up my two classes.  I still don't have an email account, however, so that's problematic for multiple reasons.

Today, my husband and I went to a class for newcomers at our church.  It was a really interesting experience, and gives me a lot more confidence that this is the church home God is calling us to.  It was also a welcome time for us to be together.  Last night we had some things we had to talk through, and it was a bit stressful.  So it was nice to have worked through some of that and have time as a couple today.

So yeah... this week has been really hard but God is still good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

God is in control, even in these bad circumstances

This is no time for fear. This is a time for faith and determination.
Don't lose the vision here, carried away by the motion.
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart.
There is one thing that will always be true. It holds the world together.

God is in control. We believe that his children will not be forsaken.
God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken.
There is no power above or beside Him.
We know, oh, God is in control.

History marches on. There is a bottom line drawn across the ages.
Culture can make its plan, oh, but the line never changes.
No matter how the deception may fly,
there is one thing that has always been true. It will be true forever.

God is in control. We believe that his children will not be forsaken.
God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken.
There is no power above or beside Him.
We know, oh, God is in control.

He will never let you down. Why start to worry now? Why start to worry now?
He is still the Lord of all we see and He is still the loving Father watching over you and me!
Watching over you, watching over me, watching over everything.
Watching over you, watching over me, every little sparrow, every little king.

God is in control. We believe that his children will not be forsaken.
God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken.
There is no power above or behind Him. We know, oh, God is in control.
~"God is in Control," by Twila Paris

Amen. God is in control.

I need to remember this today, because we got discouraging news about my mom's medical condition. She had been doing so well this year, but then a few things started to happen that were unexpected.

First, she had a kidney stone. It went away easily, so that was good. But then her pain came back stronger. They said she had some infections and put her on antibiotics.  But the pain got worse and, over the weekend, they admitted her to the hospital for tests.

Today, they finally gave my parents the diagnoses:
1. Mom has a tumor pressing against her spinal column - the cord itself is undamaged, but it is dangerous and could, if not removed or shrunk, could lead to paralysis.
2. She also has a fracture in her T-9 vertebrae - it sounds like this is at the same place as the tumor.
3. This all indicates that her cancer meds are no longer effective, because they did not prevent the growth of this new tumor.

So the treatment is the following:
1. Steroids to reduce inflammation in her spine
2. Radiation treatment for the tumor
3. New cancer meds in the hopes that a different medicine will keep everything from growing again
4. New medicine to try to strengthen her bones and prevent more fractures.

So... yeah. I'm a bit shell-shocked.  I've been expecting this for two years. But it feels like all the air has been sucked out of me again.

But I have this hope - I know that God, the LORD God Almighty, my LORD Jesus Christ is in total control. After I got off the phone with my dad, I started singing praises. Because, ultimately, God is my only hope, and the rock of my salvation.  He alone is in control. He has all power and authority over all created things. He alone is God. And, while it might seem strange to praise God after getting horrible news, it felt right. I am totally helpless. I can't make the cancer go away. I can't reduce my mom's pain. I can't give my dad strength. All I can do is pray to my Father, the One who Sees Me. The great healer. The creator God who rules over all. He is in control, and I know His children will never be forsaken.

Praise God with me, and please pray for healing, strength, wisdom, and peace for my parents.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My problem with self-help philosophy

Being home, with cable tv, has been a bit of a strange experience for me these past two weeks.  I didn't have tv this past year, so now being home alone all day means I've rediscovering the (tiny fraction of) good and (large fraction of) bad. 

One thing that's new - for me, at least - is this new Oprah network.  I see (well, hear, more often, since I tend to use the tv for background noise when I'm working) ads for it almost everywhere. As part of that, I have heard countless commercials for something - I'm not sure if it's a new show or what - that sounds basically like a platform for her "live your best life" philosophy. 

Every time I hear it, I have to fight the urge to answer back at the tv.  I have nothing against Oprah, and don't usually care one way or the other about what she does.  But whenever I hear elements of this self-help philosophy, I want to answer back, "No!!"

You see, this philosophy, this mode of thought that says that you have all that you need inside you to live an awesome life, that if we just look inside and be the better people that's deep inside, we can improve the world - it's incredibly deceptive.  It sounds great, right?  Who doesn't want to live better?  Who doesn't want to be a better person?  Who doesn't want to make the world better for their children and their families and friends?  There's nothing wrong with that!

But the central deception is this: this worldly philosophy tells you that YOU are the answer.  It's all about you, and your goodness. 
  • But scripture says that there is no one who is wholly good, no one who is perfect - "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)
It says that the best of things comes from inside you - that you can be the source of goodness on earth.
  • But scripture says that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)
  • Scripture also says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • Finally, Jesus said, "Why do you call me good?  No one is good - except God alone." (Mark 10:18)
This philosophy says that all you need is you, and you can change the world.
  • But Christ said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27)
  • Job cried out, "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are HIS."
  • Jeremiah said, "But God made the earth by his power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.  When He thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.  He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from His storehouses."
Why  do I want to cry out every time I hear this "you"-based philosophy, whether through Oprah or through any of a number of other very prominent people in our society?  Because they are missing the central need of each and every person - the need for God. 

Paul declared, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life?" (Romans 5:6-10)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a better world, for wanting to be a better person, for wanting to live the best life.  But the catch is that, apart from God, you can do nothing.  You are not the source of this change - He is.  You are not powerful enough to change the world, but HE is. You are not good, He is. 

And when you turn to Him, He gives in abundance. Don't believe me? Listen to what He says.
  • The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
  • The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
  • Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:4-6)
  • But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
  • Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Living a better life is a wonderful goal. But the way to achieve is not in our own power.  It's only by the power of God Almighty, Jesus the Christ, that we can affect change.

So the next time you hear anyone teaching that the power is within you, your response should be, "The only power that's in me is that of the Holy Spirit of the Living God!"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Truth and consequences

I just heard a story that made me pray that God would forgive us for our arrogance and stupidity. The story was that a number of "conservative evangelicals" have come out denying the historical Adam and Eve.  Their argument?  That "scientific evidence" makes it "unlikely" that the diversity of the genetic code could have begun from one single couple. 

So that I don't go on a huge rant, I'll skip right to the heart of the matter.  Who are you going to believe - God or man?

Who are you going to trust for truth and morality - the creator God who is wholly good, wholly just, wholly righteous, or humans, who kill, maim, destroy, steal, and hurt each other?

Whose wisdom will you trust - the LORD, who knows all things, created all things, and can "show you great and unsearchable things that you do not know," or that of man, which changes all the time, and which admits that we understand very little of this world. 

Ultimately, it comes down to this:  Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Either God is who He says He is, and His word is true, or he is an invention of crazy people who lived in the Middle East and needed something to explain their world. Choose one.

These church leaders will one day stand before the Lord God Almighty and answer for their choices.  So will the rest of us.  Choose either to believe God, fully and by faith, or choose to reject His word based on the incompete knowledge of mankind.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100th post

Wow, has this been an emotionally crazy few weeks.  There was all the stress & worry and sobbing about who I am, what God has for me, and how we're paying our bills this month.  Then there was a God-inspired revelation that my focus was dead wrong, and that I needed to change where I looked - and to whom I looked - if I wanted any sort of relief.  (And if my husband wanted relief from his emotional, sobbing wife.) 

Can I just say how phenomenally better I've been the last few days?  All the cares still exist, but I have had a peace that I can't understand these last few days.  It has been a 100% God-given peace, and He alone should get the glory.  Hallelujah, amen!

This week has been one of mini celebrations. My husband's birthday is today, and we don't really have any money for me to splurge on a big gift. So I decided to do something every day of the week to make him feel special.  Monday, I baked some cinnamon streusel muffins he had wanted.  Tuesday, I slipped a little love letter in his briefcase for him to find while at work.  Yesterday, I went to the store (2, actually), and bought some breakfast foods he had been wanting and now can have thanks to our new toaster (my mom's present to him).  I had them presented on the counter, along with a magazine I knew he'd enjoy and a serious birthday card, so he was greeted by them when he walked in the door. Today, I slipped another card into the bag I prepared with his lunch (our leftovers), and am baking a cake for him. Tomorrow, once the work week is done, I'll take him out to dinner wherever he wants to go.

And then there's this. Today, on my husband's 31st birthday and the two-month-iversary of our wedding, I got a job! Wasn't really expecting anything to come of this, but a month or two ago a former coworker from my phd program wrote and asked if I'd be interested in possibly teaching a course online.  I said I'd be interested and submitted my cv and application, but didn't think anything would come of it.  Two days ago, that coworker called and asked if I'd be willing to have a phone interview. I said okay.  I had it today at noon, and by 1 p.m., they were offering me the job teaching two sections of Western Civ online. 

It's not a lot of money, and if my salary had to be enough to support our family, I'd have to turn it down. But since we always saw my salary as supplemental, to cover those last remaining bills, it's really ok for me at this point to earn only $3,000 per course.  I might have to go through this whole job thing in the spring or summer, but at least for right now, it is a complete answer to prayer.  It will be enough for us to survive financially, and I will have the flexibility to take care of my husband and our house the way I want to do, and I will probably have the opportunity to volunteer or get involved at church or with a ministry as well.

Talk about your emotional roller coasters! But praise be to God, and God alone, for He is my rock and my salvation!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SSMT 2011 updated

Well, it doesn't look like the job possibillity from yesterday is going to work out for me. Back to job search and applications.

In the meantime, I really am trying to keep my focus in the right place.  So to help with that, I'm going to see how many of the verses I'm trying to learn for the Living Proof Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2011 I can write out. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Numbers 23:19 - God is not a man, that He should lie. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?

Daniel 3:17-18 - If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us and will deliver us from your hand, o king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, o king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Isaiah 43:19 - See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up - do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Psalm 4:4 - In your anger, do not sin. When you sit on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.

John 10:27-29 - My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hands.  My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hands.

Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, that you may overflow with hope in the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 5:6-7 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 4:10 - Everyone should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering the grace of God in all its various forms.

John 15:5 - I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.  Apart from me, you can do nothing.

Psalm 30:11-12 - You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6 - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Micah 7:7 - But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord.  I wait for God my savior; my God will hear me.

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

Ezekiel 36:26 - I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will removed from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, all totaled, if I have a list of the references, I know 12 without any mistakes, forgot or messed up two phrases (the bold ones), and have not quite gotten down my latest verse from August 1st. 

I know that what matters is not that I get the phrases exactly right, but that they live in me.  Oh Lord, let these words change me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

So I got a call from the secretary at church today, offering the email of someone whose company is looking for employees to work from home.  I called the woman and spoke with her about the position.  It's essentially a scheduling position, serving as an at-home call center for a company that owns 8 auto body shops in the area.  The hours seemed a bit fuzzy, as did the pay. 

I was trying to answer her questions honestly, and then we came to the point where she asked about my prior experience.  I tried to explain as simply as I could about being in grad school, teaching, and why I am looking for jobs outside of academia.  She asked if this was the kind of job I was hoping to find.  I answered honestly - no, not really, but the realities of my field are such that it doesn't make sense to not be looking for other avenues so we can pay our bills each month.  Then she said, "The thing is, with your prior experience, I worry that you would start working and then not like it. It takes a lot of work to train someone..."

Am I crazy for feeling a bit insulted?  I don't know what she intended to say, but it felt to me like she was saying, "I don't know if you're worth my time and effort."  That left a truly sour taste in my mouth.  I tried to respond as nicely and professionally as I could, and then said I would appreciate the opportunity to talk about this with my husband before deciding whether to pursue it further.  She said that was fine.

I feel like I'm going a bit crazy.  This might be a decent job - it would be a paycheck, at the very least.  Would I be a fool not to pursue it?  I'm not sure I'd get a lot of respect from this woman, who would be my boss, since she's already said out loud that she's not sure I'd be worth the great effort it would take on her part to train me.  I don't want to turn a good thing down. But I don't know what to do now.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How I learned to stop worrying Christ

Most anyone who is a child of God and a worrier has struggled with Matthew 6:25-34 -
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
My first, natural response has always been, "Yeah. Right. I'll just turn off my brain and stop worrying. Easy." (That would be sarcasm, my friends!)  It never made any sense to me.  There are a number of things that work against this for me.
1. I'm a woman.  Ask most any of us - we worry.  I'm wired to be a caretaker, and part of that is worrying, fretting at times over other people's safety, health, happiness, and future. 
2. I think way too much.  Especially when I have nothing else to do, I think.  And what do I think about? Often, I think about the future. Sometimes it's years in the future, sometimes it's only a few hours ahead. But I'm constantly thinking about it. And when there are situations that seem very tenuous, I think even more about them.  (And no, this is not logical. It's illogical to spend more time thinking about the things you can't control.  But tell that to my brain.)
As I've said in earlier posts, I have been ridiculously stressed about our finances and my unemployment.  I spent most of this past week crying into my husband's shoulder because I was so worried.  I prayed a lot and kept telling God, "I don't know what you want from me right now!  If I can't teach, what am I supposed to be doing?" Not worrying just didn't seem possible.  How can I turn off my brain?
And then I started doing a bible study that I had picked up at the Christian bookstore near my parents' home.  One of them is about managing moods as a woman, and the other is about living above stress & worry. Both things are things I struggle with quite a bit.  At one point, of course, the study on stress & worry pointed me to the above passage.  I even looked up and told my husband, "I don't want to read this passage. I know what it says, and I still can't seem to do it!"
And it's true - I do know what it says.  At least, I thought I did.  You see, I had made a very large mistake.  Almost every time I was struggling with worry, I stopped at the wrong spot. I stopped after it said, "So do not worry..." in verse 31.  And then I would proceed to berate myself for worrying, feel guilty about worrying, and pray to ask God to help me to not worry so much.  I would connect it to Philippians 4:6 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  And to 1 Peter 5:10, "Cast all your anxiety upon God, for He cares for you."
But, my friends, I was wrong.  God is not telling us to stop worrying, and that's the end of it.  He knows that we worry - He made us, after all.  The point is not to try your best to just stop worrying.  The point is that our focus is entirely misdirected.
The point is that when we worry, our thoughts are most definitely not on Christ.  When we worry, our thoughts are consumed with the circumstances, with our fears, with our inadequacy. 
I missed the point. Because I missed the key to not worrying - "BUT seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
You see, the key to not worrying about tomorrow isn't to "just stop worrying."  It's to shift your focus. Rather than worrying all day about our finances and my unemployment, I need to seek Him FIRST.  It doesn't mean that I still am not concerned.  It doesn't mean that I won't still spend hours each day pouring through job listings and sending in applications.  But it means that when I start to get truly anxious, when I start to question God and His trustworthiness, I need to stop and seek Him first. 
That is how I am going to try to stop worrying. And I will trust that He is faithful. I will remind myself of the verse that sparked a total revival in my life two years ago this month - "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." ~Psalm 37:4

Crazy brains and shopping

My husband and I do things very differently from each other.  And by "very differently," I of course mean about as opposite as humanly possible. 

I plan everything, in detail, before I do it. (Important things, at least.) His planning ability stop as soon as teaching is done for the day.

I need things organized, with places for everything so I can get everything cleaned up and easy to find. He goes by the rule, "Out of sight, out of mind," and so if it's put away, he won't remember it. So everything stays in piles.

I talk. A lot. Especially if I'm scared or worried or frustrated. He internalizes everything and rarely talks about something that might worry him or make him upset.

I ask about his day and want a story - what happened, how did you feel, what did you do?  He responds with the same handful of responses, usually three words or less, and while he likes when I tell him stories, feels no need to tell a story about a blah day.

He has ADD - and no, it's not just an excuse because he was a disruptive kid. In fact, he was an extremely well-behaved kid. His brain really does work very differently and it takes a ton of mental effort to stay focused the way he needs to for work.  I don't have ADD and the things that are hard for him are easy for my brain.

We are learning how to deal with these differences one moment at a time. Funny enough, one of the areas that was a potential minefield of tension for our different brains was... grocery shopping. 

You see, he has always gone grocery shopping by randomly going to the grocery store, wandering through aisles and picking out things that look good, and maybe (if he was lucky) having food for two or three main meals.  Then, if he wanted something different later in the week, he'd go back.  And back again.  It wasn't unusual to go to the store 3-4 times a week.  And never with a plan. After spending a few months in total with his parents, I've seen that they are exactly the same way.  It wasn't unusual for his dad to stop at the grocery store every few days on his way home from work so we could cook dinner. 

I, on the other hand, hate going grocery shopping like that.  I want a plan.  And not just a list of food that I'd like, but an actual plan of what I could have to eat for the week.  I sit down and try to plan out the week's dinners, make sure I have ideas for lunches (since I have never been a fan of traditional lunch foods), and enough sustenance for breakfasts as well.  Once I have a plan for meals, I then write out my list of ingredients.  And, ideally, I won't deviate from my list if at all possible. 

So the past two weeks, we've tried to compromise.  I do the meal planning - last week, I jotted down ideas on the back of an envelope in the grocery store parking lot so we could buy food after church and come home for or weekly Sunday brunch.  This week, since we had all we needed for the brunch - eggs, bacon, hash browns - I got to make a list at home and then we went.  It makes my brain happy, and my husband is still able to add some extras into the cart that weren't on the list.  Today, I think I spied some ice cream and cookies and salad dressing. 

We're working out little by little how to be a good team.  So far, all things considered, I think we're doing fairly well.  And just because I want to document what I'm cooking, here are our meals from last week and what I've got planned for this week:

Last Week
1. Slow-cooker pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches
2. Slow-cooker chicken tacos with fiesta lime seasoning
3. Slow-cooker chicken, Santa Fe-style veggies, salsa, and rice
4. Leftovers
5. Pizza
6. Take-out on a night I had a horrendous migraine and my husband had to be at work from 7 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
*And I honestly can't remember what we had on Sunday!

This Week
1. Chicken & veggies stir-fry - either with teriyaki or sweet & sour sauce, cooked in our new wok
2. Mashed potato & sausage bake - a recipe I found in a cook book my grandmother just sent me
3. BBQ pork sandwiches - quickly becoming a favorite, cooked with country-style ribs in my slow cooker
4. Jambalaya
5. Homemade burgers on our grill with sweet potato fries
6. Tacos

And one night will by my husband's 31st birthday celebration.  I need to plan some baking to treat him all week, but I want it to be a surprise.  I'll probably bake a cake, but I might also make some cookies or chocolate muffins or something.

That's all for now.  Happy Sunday!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doing nothing

So what do you when you have nothing to do?

I am struggling. My husband is now back to work full time, since he and the other teachers have meetings this week and start teaching next Monday.  That means I'm at home, alone, from about 6:30 a.m. until whenever he can get home at the end of the day - which typically will be at least 5 p.m. And I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing.

I spend hours every day pouring through job listings and applying to anything that I think I could do. And so far, I've had one in-person interview, one phone interview, missed one in-person interview for a part-time job due to illness, and have been told by at least 4 other places that they can't see how I could fit what they need.  In general, I'm told that I am over-educated and under-experienced.  My only jobs for the last 10 years have all been in teaching at the college level one way or another. And no one will even give me a shot.  I got a call today asking me to come in for an interview for some financial group, but when I looked them up afterward, I wasn't reassured by the info I found and probably will cancel the interview.  It's a gut feeling, but I don't want to ignore it when it doesn't feel right.

But I don't know where this leaves me.  What am I supposed to be doing? I have worked so ridiculously hard for the past 12 years in college and grad school, I have developed public speaking, written communication, typing, computer software, organizational, and instructional skills. And no one will even give me a second look. Jobs that I know I could do with ease, because I've done them before one way or another, won't give me a chance because I have too much of the wrong education and not enough specific experience for them to care. 

So what does that leave for me? I can't even get entry-level jobs that I'm pretty sure I've seen teenagers doing, even though I could probably be working as their manager with ease. Unfortunately, I have a very hard time applying for retail or restaurant positions - the ones that require no experience - because I have so many problems with my body that I honestly don't think I could work a job that required me to be on my feet, standing, walking, or lifting, for 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

And so I'm at home. It's close to 110 degrees outside, so being outside isn't much fun. I stay in the house. I run some errands, cook, clean, do laundry... and worry about the fact that in three weeks we won't have enough money to cover our mortgage and all the other bills. And I feel like a failure. A failure at work, a failure at helping our family. 

It would be a very different matter if we were raising a child and we chose for me to stay home and be primarily the nurturer (assuming we could ever afford to live on only one salary, that is).  But this isn't my choice. I don't want to be out of work. I have lost count of how many jobs I have applied for since we got back from our honeymoon. And I have nothing to show for it. I'm lost. What am I supposed to be doing if I can't find work, can't help pay the bills, and can't do much of anything else?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Down day

There are perhaps very few things you can be doing that help to crush your self-esteem more than looking for work. I've been out of work for 2 months, and despite applying to something like 80 jobs in that time (during which I also got married!), I've had almost no interest.  I had two in-person interviews, one phone interview, and one potential interview that I missed because I got very sick and couldn't get there. Oh, and I had a job offer today that is extremely sketchy and my gut tells me it's not legit or it's a front for something illegal, so I'm not pursuing that, of course. 

I told my husband today that it makes me feel like I've wasted the past twelve years.  I worked my butt off in college, had a 4.0 (in two majors), and was valedictorian of my graduating class.  I worked 70 hrs a week, at times through the night, for two years to get my Master's degree.  I worked until I literally made myself too sick to go on in my doctoral program for 5 years.  I worked anywhere from 30-60 hrs a week this past academic year teaching in a position that was technically only a 20-hr-per-week job. I have forsaken relationships, outside activities, and a life in general for over 8 years.  [And yes, I understand that without all of that, I never would have met or married my husband. I'm grateful. I know I learned a lot, about life, God, and myself. It wasn't wasted in that sense.] 

But what do I have to show for it? My bills far outweigh the money I have left in the bank.  We barely had enough money to pay the mortgage today - if I hadn't found the leftover euros from when I left Spain early to take care of my mom, we would have had to scramble to transfer what little money I have into his account.  I went to a job fair and almost everyone told me that they had nothing that would fit my skills and education - I would have been better off with an associates degree from community college.  I'm begging for jobs that don't require 4-year degrees, because almost everything requires minimum experience levels, and only if I can convince them that I have the skills despite never working in their field can I qualify.  I'm over-educated, under-experienced, and honestly could have been farther along if I had simply gotten an industry job right out of college. 

It doesn't help that the unemployment rate here is above the national average, and the reality is we probably are closer to 12-13% unemployed in the region.  There are literally thousands begging for the same few jobs, and so it's getting increasingly hard to convince anyone to give me a chance when there are dozens or hundreds of candidates that have the exact qualifications they're looking for. I spent over an hour working on an application today that, in all likelihood, won't amount to anything.  I'm applying to things that I never wanted to do, and still don't want to do, because I'm so worried that we won't be able to pay our bills by the end of the month.  I've thought of going back to school to learn new skills for a different field, but that costs money that we just don't have.  I can't afford to spend even $10,000 (a very small number in terms of tuition costs) on more training and schooling right now.

So where does that leave me?  I'm exhausted mentally and physically from trying to find new ways to explain that my years teaching and as a graduate student have given me more than enough experience to be your administrative assistant or receptionist.  I'm sick of trying to figure out if my body could handle working retail or food services - even though I know I can't handle standing for 6-8 hours a day.  I'm exhausted from constantly being told that I just don't have the experience necessary.

I'm trying to trust that God will provide. I'm not doing very well on that front. I'm trying to believe that something will eventually "come along," before we have to sell a car or I have to stop sponsoring my Compassion child in Mexico.  If you would have told me 10 years ago that I wouldn't finish the Ph.D., that there would be nothing in my field that I qualify for because the competition would be so intense that no one has to give me a second look, and that I'd be begging for jobs that recent high school graduates could qualify for, I don't know what choice I'd make in terms of my career.  I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to be doing.  And, for a planner like me, that's quite scary.

And yes, I know that God will take care of us. Today is just a seriously down day for me.