I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for May, 2011

In the calm after the “storm” –

Just said farewell to the last portion of my extended family who had come out to Iowa for my second born child’s graduation celebration. It’s been an INSANE four weeks – administering finals at the college and turning in final grades, Senior High Spring show, all the end of the year concerts/award ceremonies/projects, graduation party to plan and shop for, and 13 family members dropping in for the graduation weekend. Eleven of those family members ranging in age from my parents in their 60’s to my three year old niece stayed in my home. Chaotic?! You bet! We still have left over bags of chips that didn’t get eaten at the grad party. Sorry, the cake is all gone! But I could hook you up with some veggies and dip or left over sloppy joes. And if you just love a deli meat sandwich, I have one whole tray left over untouched!!

My house is showing the wear and tear of the last four weeks. It’s not completely falling apart but my floors are crying out for a good, focused, cleaning. My kitchen surfaces could probably use a careful scrub down. Piles of “stuff” have accumulated that need going through, end tables need cleared off, the graduate needs to take care of her cards, etc. and mom is REALLY looking forward to a schedule that does not have to be planned with the precision of a military expedition!

Do you want to know a secret? There is a part of me that will be sad to pull the house back together. In all of the chaos of the last four weeks, in all of the craziness that goes with the end of the school, with all of the stress that comes during the final couple weeks of a show, I’ve learned things about myself and built cherished memories. Once I pull the house together, I admit that this busy but fun-filled period of life has come to an end. And if you’ve read the last couple of entries, you know that what awaits me on the other side of the clean up isn’t exactly fun.

So, if you don’t mind, I’ll let that stack of graduation cards sit on my counter just a bit longer. I’ll smile just one more time at all the graduation party invitations from my Seven Brides cast members still covering my refrigerator even though most of the parties have already happened. I’ll sit on my back deck with a glass of lemonade and reflect on the outing to McDonald’s that the women of the family – three generations in all – took and the conversations that we shared. I’ll relish the fact that my niece and nephews were thrilled to come to “Aunt Moj’s” house and hated to leave. I know that the work needs to be done and my house needs to recover. But I think it can handle just one more day while I bask in the warmth of the happy memories.

Next steps –

Filling out job applications, taking chances on jobs that you are not even sure you are qualified for, hearing rumors about possible openings, trying to verify said rumors . . . it’s exhausting!

I’ve had several people “remind” me of Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.” I say “remind” because I happen to have that verse memorized. But there is something about the context of that verse that I tend to forget because it is NOT comforting.

Jeremiah is talking to the nation of Israel which has been taken into exile. They are refusing to “settle in” because false prophets are more than willing to tell them what they want to hear – that God is going to take them home soon! Then Jeremiah shows up with God’s REAL message which is “Ya’ll better settle in and get used to life in Babylon because you are here to stay for the next 70 years. Have kids, marry them off, plant gardens, build homes . . . become a part of the community because I am not taking you home for awhile.”

Think about what probably happened in that 70 years. Loved ones died, children married into local families, children were born who had never known anything but Babylon . . . this wasn’t an easy message for the people of God to hear! And when the 70 years was up, what happened? They returned to the land God had promised them, yes, but they left behind those who had died and been buried in Babylon and there might have even been some of those children who were married off that decided Babylon was home. So when I think about the phrase, “I know the plans I have for you” in it’s original context, it’s not exactly comforting! And don’t worry – I’m fairly certain that the good-hearted people that feel it necessary to quote that verse to me do not mean to imply that my situation won’t change for 70 years!

There is another verse that I have memorized that I much prefer right now to find comfort in. Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Believe me, my thoughts and my heart have needed some quieting in recent days.

Situations like the one I now find myself in are a clear lesson that I DO NOT possess much patience. Summer is around the corner and the next school year will be here before I know it. There are some job issues I would like to have settled before then, people who need to be notified if I will not be available to help fulfill their needs, and in my limited, finite, understanding it would be helpful if I could give them plenty of advanced warning! But, as I said, my understanding is limited and finite and I’m desperately trying to trust that the same God who will lead me to “the next thing” will keep those people from being furious if I must give them a very late “no”. He can also sustain me through another life-draining year like the one I just had. Knowing what to expect would be nice. Then again, that wouldn’t require trust would it?

Warning – if you are one of those people who only reads blogs that are positive, filled with sunny statements and observations, this may not be a post for you. If you prefer not to hear others talk about dark times in their lives, moments when they truly know what it means to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” then you might just want to leave now.

Last weekend was horrid. I could candy coat it and say that it was “less than ideal” but I want to be completely transparent. It was awful!!! On Friday, I found out that I did not get a job that I had interviewed for. No big deal, right? Lots of people interview and don’t get the job offer. But this was my dream job. Not only was it working with high school students – yes, I actually ENJOY high school students – it was a choral directors job and my Bachelor’s degree was in choral music. On top of that, I would have been working as the assistant director in a program that is led by a friend of mine. He and I work together on the Spring musical at the High School and frankly enjoy working together. Are you beginning to see why this wasn’t just another job loss? Wait. There’s more.

This past school year, I worked three part time jobs, adding in a fourth job when the high school musical began their auditions in March. Yes, the musical is technically a job since I get paid to do it. Granted, I LOVE doing it but I can call it a “job” when there is a paycheck attached! Of the three part time jobs that occupied the majority of my time, I didn’t enjoy two of them. I don’t mean they were rough or had bad days. I did not like going to those jobs. Ever. Not once. Get the idea? It’s nothing against the employers or the jobs themselves. Both of the jobs in question were working with Elementary age kids and I don’t enjoy that age group as much. Junior High on up to college age is my preferred age group so hopefully you can understand why spending focused amounts of time with with large groups of students in grades Kindergarten through sixth is not enjoyable for me. I know that this mindset makes me a villain in the hearts of some. But it’s my “divine design” – I just enjoy the teen age/twenty-something set far more.

As for the third part-time job, it was with college students (bonus) working as an adjunct professor. “Adjunt” is a fancy word for “Part-time”. Loved the age group. Hated the “adjunct” part of the job description. Ever worked at a job where you experienced a serious divide between the full-time staff and the part-time staff? If you have, then you get an idea of what my year was like. The full-timers were cordial. The adjuncts were appropriately invited to all of the departmental parties and such. But for someone like me who thrives on relationships, there wasn’t much of that. Okay, since I’m being honest, there wasn’t ANY of that!! Much of the time, I was getting last minute reminders to complete tasks that I had never been told I needed to complete so I’m scrambling to fit things into my semester . . . you get the idea. For an extra little complication, the college classes I teach are in the field of education or helping students with academic issues in the area of writing. (My Master’s is not in music). Are you beginning to get a picture of my 2010/2011 school year? Three part-time jobs, none of which brought me any significant sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, and one short-term part-time job doing what I love with the age group I enjoy. Do you understand now why the loss of the dream job was so devastating.

And the weekend got worse before it got better. On Friday night, just hours after finding out I wasn’t getting the job, I found out a friend had passed away. She had directed the production of The Wizard of Oz I was in last fall and we became fast friends. Apparently, this past weekend was my weekend to grieve. She was only 49.

I wish I could tell you that hubby was a tremendous source of support and counsel. Nope. Within minutes of finding out I wasn’t getting the job – and thus getting rid of the mental strain of trying to take care of all the details involved in three part-time jobs – he wanted to know what I was going to do now. What job options was I willing to consider? What was my plan of attack for the next school year? In other words, I got the distinct message that I was to get over my sense of loss, and move on. We ended up spending most of the weekend angry with one another because he thought I was wallowing and I thought he was being insensitive. Add more emotional strain to my weekend.

As I sit here and type this, it’s Tuesday. I’ve gotten NUMEROUS platitudes thrown at me, all the standard verses quoted at me, and numerous reminders to “just have faith.” It’s all true. Every single over-used phrase people have said to me is accurate. And I want to punch the next person that begins to quote Jeremiah 29:11 or Romans 8:28. I know those verses. I can quote them myself. And I know they are true. But right now they have a rather negative effect on me. I told someone that it’s like going up to a person who is at a funeral for a beloved family member or friend and saying “It’s time to slap on a smile and be excited about what God is going to do know that he’s taken your loved one away.” No one that I know would EVER be that insensitive. But since I lost a job, people feel quite comfortable telling me to just “get over it.”

I’ve received some very trite, platitude filled counsel. Quite a lot of it, actually. But there have been a few of gems. My sisters have been AMAZING through this. One of them shared with me something God laid on her heart while she was having a time of prayer for me and my situation. Her words didn’t give me answers or any clue of where to go next, but there was a glimmer of new perspective in what she said. My other sister has simply been there and agreed with me that it sucks! My dad has offered a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear should I need it and it’s come with none of the standard, over-used “church-speak” phrases. And, thankfully, hubby and I have FINALLY gotten to a place where we better understand where the other person was coming from and we’re trying to get through this situation together.

What I find fascinating is that no one has tried to talk me out of grieving the loss of my friend. Apparently, it’s okay to grieve when your heart breaks over the loss of a person. But when you are frightened and hurt by a job situation that leaves you emotionally and mentally destroyed at the end of the week, that’s not okay. Not all heartbreak is, apparently, spiritually acceptable to some of my brothers and sisters in the faith. Expressions of discouragement were met, not with compassion or empathy, but Bible verses and pithy sayings.

I wish I could end this post with some great story about how God has already miraculously dealt with my work situation (NOT looking forward to the life-sucking possibility of another year like this one) but that’s not the case. I’m still wondering where to go from here, still hurting, still facing the reality of a memorial service for my friend tomorrow – not much has changed. Like I said earlier, my sister’s words to me provided a glimpse of a new perspective and that’s where I’m concentrating all of my mental and emotional energy for now. Hoping that the fog lifts soon and I get some sense of where to go from here.

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