The beginning. Again. Again.

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Spent some time reviewing my old posts and came across one titled “The Beginning. Again.” It was written during a time of great transition that entailed a cross-country move and then some. And it lasted for about 2 1/2 years until the organization I was working for ran out of money and downsized me. I’ve never been laid off for any reason and even though I had no control over the financial health (or lack thereof) of the organization, I took at as a personal failure. Because that’s what I do. It’s part of being a control fiend normal person with some minor control issues. You take responsibility for everyone and everything.

When I first lost my job, I thought this is great. I now have time to write. I will be a writer. And I convinced myself I would. I even convinced a good friend of mine that I would–so much so that he offered his office space for me to write in. It was set then. I would write.

Except that I didn’t account for all the feelings that would surface once I no longer had a place to report to every morning and a team to strategize with and, let’s face it, a salary that keeps the lights on and the macbook running. Feelings like was there ever a bigger loser on the face of the planet? Who will hire me at this age? And what will my family, friends, distant relatives, and Facebook friends think of me now that I am unemployed and probably unemployable. I guess they were questions more than feelings.

Whatever they were, they made it impossible to do the one thing I really wanted to do. Write. Because once my work world turned upside down the rest of my life soon followed and I found I could not get a single word on the page in that face-down state. For a few weeks I slept in and “looked for work” in the afternoons. By which I mean I stayed in my pajamas all day and browsed through pinterest images having to do with work-related things. Home office. Created a page for that. Life@work tag. Check. If I could not recreate my real life, I would at least assemble something presentable online.

But when my pinterest job search didn’t result in any prospects, I filed for unemployment. At least I would have some income. Rather than feeling relief, I realized that there was no denying it–I was a statistic. Officially unemployed. Jobless. And because I had to fill out a form every other week that asked if I had looked for actual work, I started looking. For real this time.

Which was not nearly as gratifying as pinning pretty images on a page.

And soon the emails started coming in. Oh, not the offers. Nope. The sorry but we have decided to go with another candidate emails. And of course I filled in the blanks–We have decided to go with another candidate because you are not qualified enough, not educated enough, not charming enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough. And some days you can’t even bother to put on real clothing.

And as if I didn’t have enough issues being unemployed, my spiritual life started withering. If no potential employer would care enough even to meet with me for an initial interview, what must God think of me. He must think I’m a total loser. I am the biggest disappointment in the history of God’s kingdom. Can you even think of one person in all of the Bible who was ever unemployed? The only scripture that comes to mind was the one that says if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat. Comforting.

You would pretty much think I hit rock bottom at that point. But no. I will not settle for some mediocre bottom. I had to plummet further.

At some point, shortly after my unemployment ran out, I began to panic. Not as in nervous about money. As in full-blown anxiety attacks that sent me to the hospital. The first time it happened, I had no idea what was going on. It was the middle of the night and I woke up feeling weird. Soon I felt really weird. Then I passed out and ended up lying in a back room of the ER for about 4 hours. Apparently nothing was wrong with me. Except that everything was wrong with me.

Overnight I went from unemployed loser to complete wreck. At any given moment my mind and body would conspire against me to produce a heart-pounding terror that made my thoughts go dark and my arms go numb. I could not pray during that time. I could only think I must be dying. Often the sensations would last for a couple hours. And when it got really bad, I would go back to the hospital. Oh–and did I mentioned my health insurance had run out by this time?

I spent about a year in that condition. I wish I could say that I have perspective now. That I can see how God used the whole experience for my good. Intellectually, I know that to be true–but only because He says its true. But the true truth is, it doesn’t feel true. It feels like He abandoned me. And I wish I could say that all things have been restored and I live in a bigger better house and drive a bigger better car. But I don’t. I live in a much smaller condo/apartment and I drive the same car, only now it has a lot more miles on it. Oh, and I owe like a gazillion dollars in medical bills.

The one thing I can say is that I wake up every day extremely grateful for my little place and for my still reliable car. I wake up grateful for my job and even though I don’t make a ton of money, I wake up grateful that I am able to keep the lights on. And I wake up grateful that my mind and body are not warring against me.

Maybe someday I’ll have a dramatic restoration story. But right now, I don’t and I don’t really care. I don’t care about having a bigger house or shinier car or more stuff. I care that somehow by the sheer grace of God (who I’m still a little bit mad at, but don’t say anything), I was able to begin. Again. And yet again.

And maybe someday I’ll start writing.

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Life’s a beach.

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Gorgeous day at the beach. The perfect place for walking, thinking, praying, breathing. Am starting to feel more settled, less of a stranger to my new surroundings. That’s a good thing. Work is challenging, but I am finally getting the hang of some things. Life is looking up. I am looking up. The best place for my eyes to be right now–and at all times–is on Him.

SMF

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Back to the land of the red rabbit. I seriously do not get this piece of art. What does a giant rabbit diving headfirst into the ground have to do with flying? Nothing good I tell you. Nothing good at all.

Change of plans.

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I never imagined I’d be back in this part of the country, but God’s ways are not always my ways. I’m sure I’ll see that as a good thing somewhere down the road. Right now, I’m adjusting to a new job, new city, new community, new life. Can’t say I’m lovin’ it…yet. But I will.

“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 hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Had a chance to visit the Bonhoeffer house in Berlin. Still so moved by the impact of his relatively short life. And how those who were imprisoned with him said that he possessed an unrelenting joy, even in the midst of abject horror. We don’t have to walk around as if the world is falling apart at the seams–even when it is–because we belong to a different world, a higher and better kingdom that is characterized by unspeakable joy.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Roasted pumpkin seeds.

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner included a quinoa dish baked in sugar pumpkins that sounded like a good idea but ended up being way more trouble than it was worth. Since it took forever to extricate the seeds from said pumpkins, I figured I shouldn’t let them go to waste. Hence…roasted pumpkin seeds.

1. Scoop out seeds and clean thoroughly.
2. Boil in lightly salted water for 10 minutes (apparently this is the secret to crunchy seeds).
3. Pat dry with a dish or paper towel (I omitted this step the first time and the seeds took forever to roast properly).

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4. Spread seeds on a baking sheet in a single layer (this can be tricky as they like to snuggle).

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5. Drizzle olive oil over the seeds and stir.
6. Sprinkle with salt.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 6-7 minutes. The seeds are done when lightly browned around the edges. Check them often so you don’t end up overcooking them. The kernel inside should still be green, not brown.

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8. Add salt to taste and enjoy.

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Fyi…pumpkin seeds are healthier than popcorn–they contain magnesium, zinc, copper, antioxidants, and Omega-3s.