I was disappointed recently when I read that Star Wars: The Clone Wars
has been cancelled. It seems that LucasArt thought it was time to move on in other directions. I say it was a heck of a time. Who knew that "The Wrong Jedi" was the final episode? To me, it was a sad ending. Watching Ahsoka walk away from Anakin and the Jedi order after being acquited of a false accusation of murder and sabatoge on the temple - I knew I was watching another chink in Anakin's armor. No wonder he turned to the dark side, I thought. He did everything he could to help Ahsoka and in the end he did find the true murderer/sabateur, but it wasn't enough. Ahsoka felt she had to work it out on her own and she walked away from the only life she knew.
Now before you read on, answer this question without thinking about it: Did Ahsoka do the right thing by leaving the Jedi order?
Tick tock, tick tock.
Okay, if you said no, then I'd say you've never been through a life experience that forced you to become a new person.
If you said yes, then you know what it's like to have your life turned upside down by something unexpected. You also know those motivational sayings that change is like going from a catepillar to a butterfly are total crap. It's more like Wolverine having the adamantamum grafted to his bones. And when you're torn apart like that, you either heal up and become stronger, or you bleed to death.
It can be tough, because building a better life usually means working with changes that hurt like hell and require you to work harder than you ever thought possible to bring you to the Promised Land. I lived through it three years ago when my job was moved. Moving two licensure programs was more work than any of us bargained for. It took three years of legislative updated and changes and even more work at an administrative level. I dare say, I believe we're just now getting settled into the new changes as we wrap up our latest renewal cycle and implement the last of the changes. Yet as I help in training a new employee that started with us a few weeks ago, it strikes me how much I've changed in as many years. To say that I'm not the same person I was before would be an understatement. I didn't just move my job. I learned that the only way to better days was hard work and change, and I applied it to my personal life. And now one work move, two more adopted birds, and six books later - yea, I'm not the same person. Some think I've lost my fear of change, but the truth is that I traded it for a fear of stagnation. I realize now what a rut I had been in before and how detrimental it was to me. That rut was partly of my own making because I was afraid to stand up and pursue the change I need to. Now, I'm afraid to sit still for too long for fear of stalling out again.
It's funny. Yesterday, someone at my meetings asked me if I liked having the programs there as much as I liked it at the old department. I held back my reaction. I told them yes, it was working out great, and that's true. But I stopped short of saying the rest: that I could never go back to the old place and the old ways. I've changed too much. I've created a different life. I'm not the same person and I don't have any desire to go back to the old places or ways. In fact, all I really miss are a few friends and ham subs in the canteen on Fridays. And I had to laugh at myself. I'm still in contact with the friends and obviously, the subs I can live without. That old life is a memory of what brought me to where I am, but it's not a place I can live at. Not now. Not ever. Nor should I try.
I believe we all go through times when reality throws the Hammer of Thor through our life, and we're stuck with the choice of picking up the pieces and creating a better life, or letting the sharp edges of loss stab us until we bleed to death. But they are times when we have to come to grips with the hard truth that we can't go back, and even if we do it would never be the same. Sometimes we do like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and try to go back, only to realize we can't have the old life back and leave later. Sometimes we do like Ahsoka and walk away right then and there, realizing as she said, "I have to sort it out on my own." And sometimes, as in my case, there isn't a choice. It simply happens and you have to take it and wither on the vine, or start growing where you've been replanted.
I'm sorry we won't get to see how Ahsoka worked things out. My trial was different from hers, but I really wanted to see how she worked things out. But then again, maybe they left it open because it remains a story in progress. As I train a new colleague and face the reality of having a new supervisor this summer, I realize that I am a new creation. Now the task is how to make that new creation better, one day at a time.
That's all for today. Take care and have a great rest of the week.
I'd like to open this entry with a disclaimer: I have no objections to working outside the home. In fact, I believe I'd be bored and rather miserable as a stay-at-home. I have always felt that I need to contribute to the world at large, and I invested a great deal into getting a college degree so I could do just that. So to start, I don't mind working. The issue is balancing it with having a life. Because jobs take up an awful lot of your life, and you have to set boundaries with how much of your life you want to give to your work - much like everything else.
I never wanted my job to be the core of my life. There are a lot of people out there that are defined by their work, and I've known all along that I don't want to be one of them. To me, I have a job to serve my life. It's how I channel my knowledge, experience and skills to the world, and in return it financially supports my life. That's it. It's not who I am. It's not my sole purpose in life. It's not the whole of my existence. It's one part of my life, one part of the whole that makes me.
The challenge is keeping it one part of life because work, much like everything else, wants to be the center. The fact that it's our financial foundation is a binding factor that makes work one of the "immovable objects" in our lives, and the trick is how to keep reshaping that object into something that helps rather than hurts. Our personal lives change over time and so do our jobs - even if you work in the same place throughout your career, I can guarentee that the job itself will change as time goes on. Duties come and go, and more is always added. I can attest to this by experience. I've been working in the same job for over thirteen years, but it most certainly IS NOT the job I was hired to do. It bears absolutely no resembelance to what it was the first day I walked in. It's even been reclassified twice to accomodate for the drastic changes over the years. Likewise, my personal life has drastically changed in those years as well. And the ongoing challenge is how to keep work in balance in your life with both are constantly changing forces.
It's tough, and it's something that constantly has to be managed. I've had to make a lot of adjustments in the past three years alone, as my job duties quadrupled at the same time that my in-laws moved to town and my writing started to get published more widely. In fact, I was under a therapist for a year to help me manage all of the changes sweeping through my life. It would have been nice if all of these things could have happened, say, over the space of five years - but it was more like five months. I made it, but I'm not afraid that I'm still on that curve of balancing my changed work situation and my changed life situation. That is, in fact, part of what spurred my resolution to work on the issue of balance. It was realizing that while the major adjustments are done (and have been for a while), some tweaking to the details needs to happen. In fact, tweaking is something that probably needs to be done, well, more frequently than I have.
I think the big thing for me right now is balancing my increased work duties with my writing. I could easily stay glued behind a computer all my waking hours between the job, then coming home to work on writing promotion and working on new projects to keep my writing in motion. While I love my writing, I realized it had elevated itself to "work" in my life, and I always said that when it was more labor than enjoyment, it was time to make some adjustments. I can't and won't work 100% of the time. I want free time with Rick and the birds, with family and friends, with occasional volunteer projects at church, or with hobbies or just being lazy, and I will have it. I need time off, and I believe that getting sick with that virus before the holidays was the wake up call that made me realize I spend too much time working and not enough time taking care of myself: spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally. I have a full life and that's fine, but I need to get it in order and make sure there's a place for everything - and especially a space for taking care of myself, which I neglected to an almost dangerous place a few weeks ago. I really downplayed that here and in my social media posts, but the truth is that I was a bigger wreck than I let on, and it downright scared me. I was ill and distressed to the point of being almost non-functional for about 36 hours. Not long, but long enough to get through. It was time to heal more than my body. My mind and soul needed healing too.
Thankfully, I had some time off for the holidays to take stock of how to do this, and the work-life issue was primary amongst my concerns. I can't change my job, but I can look for ways to get better organized and to get things done better and more efficiently. As for my writing, I looked into some publicity options that included writing more articles and short stories, which allows me to continue producing new work that gains publicity for my published books. It's channeling into doing more of what I love, which is creating new work. It takes the "work" out of the writing and puts it back in the place of being "fun." And that's what it's all about: being entertaining and fun for me and my readers.
I think we all get knocked off kilter every now and then, and it seems that the work-life balance is usually where it's most likely to happen. We just have to stop and take stock every now and then to make sure we're keeping work in it's proper place in our life, and not letting it morph or grow into a trap. Because when we feel trapped, that's when it's gotten too far out of balance. I'm happy to report that I do feel much better and I continue to heal from my illness of a few weeks ago. There are still some struggles, but I take it a day at a time and I believe I'm finding a better way to have my life with all the joy and fullness I'm meant to have.
That's all today. Take care. I hope you have a great week.
I was home sick with a sinus infection today and decided to watch the midday news. On it, they had a report on a state where sending children to school at age 5 is optional - they can do it, but aren't required to do it until the child is six years old. They touted this story as "does it give children an academic edge to wait a year?" but in reality, it was all parents saying "my child is too immature and I just think they need another year at home before starting school."
This reminded me of what happened at my church recently when we lost our pastor and associate pastor last spring. When we asked about forming a committee to find a new pastor, the Synod told us to wait a few months because "the congregation needs time to grieve, heal and deal with the loss of their pastors."
Really? Time to adjust and heal? Time to get ready? Folks, I'm going to be bluntly honest with you - I call bullcrap on that. I'd use the alternate phrase, but I strive to keep this blog PG-13 rated. But you get the point. I think this is all nonsense. And I will be glad to tell you why.
Reality rarely gives us time to ease into adjustments. Sure, sometimes we choose to make changes, but sometimes things happen with no warning and we're left with no choice but to accept it. There is no adjustment period. There is no "time out" for emotional healing. Reality takes an anvil to your life and you have no choice but to get up and start putting the pieces back together before it beats you further and turns those pieces into confetti that you can't do anything with. The illness often strikes without warning. Jobs change. People move on or worse
yet, die. Life can turn around with one phone call. I've seen it happen in the blink of an eye and can tell you from experience that we should take nothing for granted and look for the possibilities in every situation.
Do you know how much time I was given to "adjust and deal" with my job move two years ago? Absolutely none! It was welcome, now get to work. You have regulations to draft. You have things to integrate into the database. You have forms to reformat and 42 boxes of files to scan into our database and 2 websites to help our IT staff set up for your programs because you're the one that knows this stuff and we can't help you because we need YOU to help US get it integrated into our system and tell us what it is so we can tell you how it will be from now on. The move was about a third of the work. There was plenty of heavy lifting after that, so to speak, and they made it clear that they expected me to not only rise to that, but to everything else set before me. And you know what? I did it. Sure, there were times when I broke down and came home saying "I can't DO all of this!" But I went back the next day and with enough "next days" and more hard work than I ever thought I was capable of, it got done and continues to get done every day.
And you know, a funny thing happened. I found the courage to submit my writing to epublishers again and by golly, two books got accepted. What the hell, I thought. I moved two programs. Why can't I publish two books? Why can't I be an independent author? I've always wanted to be a writer and this is my chance to be one. And I did it. I keep writing because I learned to step out and be bold and proactive in pursuing my writing goals from being pulled up by my hair at my day job. Reality punched me in the gut in one area, and by rising to that challenge I found the courage to take on the challenge of pursuing a personal dream in another area. Life's funny like that if you learn how to accept your situation and take advantage of every opportunity you find, no matter how big or small.
My point here is not to say nah nah, look at me and how I made it work. I hesitate to say it "worked" even at this point. Rather, I see the situation as "I continue to work hard and grow" because I am still learning and growing. It's a lifelong process. I still learn at work, and I'm still working on new writing projects and to build an audience for my published work. It's still a lot of hard work on both fronts. My point is that reality doesn't hit the pause button to pat you on the back and say "there there, take some time to eat ice cream and watch reruns of Supernatural (or whatever show you like) until you feel strong enough to deal with this." Reality is a witch (another PG-13 term for what I really think it is). It just happens and it doesn't care what you like or feel about anything.
I was raised with the "if the Lord brings you to it, then He brings you through it" truth, but this is a truth that we have to learn. It's not something ingraned in our psyche. Fear and helplessness are ingraned in our psyche. We have to learn that faith that we can face it. We have to learn to find that strength within ourselves to rise to what life brings. We have to learn to do the hard work, and to face the pain and struggles with the courage of a lion even if we feel like jelly inside. We learn by standing up to it and working through it. And folks, that doesn't come from taking an ice-cream and Supernatural rerun festival break to sob and wipe our tears while complaining of the injustice of it all. Life isn't fair. We have to learn to stand in the face of that. We have to work with the situation and figure out how to pluck out the opportunities in this "not fair" situation to work it out for our good and put ourselves on a journey to something better in the end.
We can heal. We can adjust. But more often than not, we have to do it on our feet. We have to heal while we move forward becauser stagnation brings further consequences and suffering that are completely unnecessary and can be avoided by acceptance and hard work.
So no, I call bullcrap on the "wait until your ready" mentality. Reality doesn't care if you're ready. It just happens. We do ourselves a greater favor by standing up to it sooner rather than later.
That's all today. Take care.
Well, we bid our pastor farewell this morning. He's moving on to accept a higher position with the state synod, after serving as our leader for 11 years. Rick and I were service assistants for this morning's service, so we got to see the full range of emotion. Lots of well wishing, lots of good luck, lots of tears. Everybody's nervous as we wonder what the new dawn will bring, and what comes next.
Personally, I think that we as the congregation have the easier job. Although we are in a position where we have to find a new leader, we're still here. We have one another, the associate pastor, church council, committees, and the synod to help us. We have a huge support system to help us through this transition and frankly, I believe that the Lord already has our new pastor selected and that it will be what's best for us. Our challenge is not only to use discernment in our call, but in believing that we can be a blessing to a new leader as much as they can be a blessing to us. It's easy to lose perspective of that interaction between flock and leader, especially when you've had the same leader for a long time. And in time, we will adjust to the loss and move along, through the transition to a new day ahead.
Of course our pastor will too, but I know he has a more difficult road because I've been in the position of leaving a place behind. He's going to wake up tomorrow morning and face the reality that he's not coming back to his office a the church, but going to a new place that's unfamiliar. He has to be retrained, and to meet new people and adapt to a new environment. There is no familiarity where he's going or, if there is, not as much as he's had at our church. A job change is a substantial life change - in fact, I'd go so far as to say it changes your entire life. I know it did for me. Yes, his is the steeper road, but opportunity is always worth that journey. I believe that he too will move along through his own transition into a new day ahead. It may be a steeper learning curve, but it will probably happen over a shorter period of time. It will likely take us a year or more to call a new pastor, amd by that time he'll be well settled in his new job while we start the process of adjusting to new leadership.
Hmm. So in light of what it's going to take timewise, it may be that he's in the better position. We do still have one another, but perhaps it's a longer road ahead than he has.
I, like everyone else, will miss him. However, I also can't begrudge him for taking this opportunity. I'm glad it came his way and that he was wise enough to consider it and brave enough to accept the change and challenge. Change is how God moves us ahead, and it takes a lot of courage to stand up to that fear, admit that it's time to move on, and take the first steps into the unknown.
As our choir sang at the close of the service, I too hope he road rises up to meet him, and us as well. We all have a new adventure ahead, and we have to find the courage to face them. Transitions are never easy, but they're the only path to a better day. And I believe that, as this door closes, another one is preparing to open any minute now.
That's all today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I wish you a great start to the new week.
I’ve heard many interpretations of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds. This is the one about the farmer
that planted wheat, an enemy planted weeds amongst the wheat, and the farmer told the slaves to let them grow together and at harvest they’d gather both, separate the wheat from the weeds, and burn the weeds. Most center on evil being uprooted and dealt with in the end days, but about a year ago, our pastor gave this parable a new ring. He said another way to look at it would be to consider the annoyances and irritations that the devil puts in your life to divert you from your purpose in God. If you live by faith and try to walk in the will of the Lord, the devil is going to attack you. The attacks are the weeds that trip you up, annoy you, and cause you to stumble.
I think this is interesting. What’s more interesting is that it seems these weeds are variations on the same things, over and over again. For example, we all have annoying people in our lives, but have you noticed that the annoying people around you seem to share the exact same problem? I’m a magnet for jealous, petty people, and always have been. I remember Mom having to sit me down and explain what jealousy was when I
was 7 years old – that’s right, when I was a mere kid in grammar school – because a girl got mad at me because she thought my dress was prettier than hers. And so it has gone, right up until now, and probably will until the day I die. It seems there’s always at least one person trying to get up in my business, then getting mad because they feel I’m “not staying in my place.” One goes away, and two more just like them will come along. I even had an episode where the next petty person was firmly entrenching themselves BEFORE the last
one was gone for good.
It’s not just me. Rick (my husband) is a magnet for selfish, mean people. I have truly seen Satan in some of the people he’s had to deal with. There have even been cases where third parties told me “that person is mentally ill or demonically possessed. I’ve never seen such meanness in a single human being.” Oh, but Rick has, over and over.
I’ve seen it in others too. Mom is a magnet for insecure, needy people. I had a friend that could draw the most
arrogant people you’ve ever seen – oh, how much they thought of themselves! I had another friend that was a glue trap for users and abusers. She got stabbed in the back so many times that I thought she must have a massive knife collection, and that was just in the few years we worked together. Another friend is a jerk magnet. Igits just flock to her.
Now what’s the common denominator here? Simple – it’s that the weeds in each of these lives are the exact opposite of what they are. I’m a live and let live type. I don’t nose in peoples’ business or get jealous because I’m usually too busy with my own life.
Rick is the kindest, most helpful person around.
Mom is extremely independent.
The arrogance magnet is a humble person with a strong faith that all works out in the end.
The one stabbed in the back is one of the most giving people I’ve ever known.
The jerk magnet is a sincere, level headed woman.
You know, it reminds me of what Lex Luthor said to Clark Kent in the series finale of Smallville: “A man is defined by his enemies.” That might sound dramatic, but it’s also true. Look at the thorns you attract and I’ll bet you’ll see in inverse image of yourself.
Yes, those weeds are there and always will be. This is one of the many challenges we face in life on this rock called Earth. Some have said it’s the sandpaper that rubs off our rough edges. If so, then we are also the sandpaper that rubs off their rough edges. So scratch, scratch folks.
Just remember that you aren’t alone. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by nonsense designed to divert. We
all have those weeds. The secret is to learn what you can and stay on course. If you keep moving, they can’t stifle you. And after all, it’s hard to wrap weed roots around a moving target!
Two years ago, our Sunday School class did an in-depth study of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. One of the interesting concepts he presented is “The Law of Undulation,” which basically means that life is a series of peaks and valleys, and we are always in some phase of this ebb and flow.
It’s absolutely true. My life over the past eighteen months is a testament to it.
This Thursday will be exactly one year since my last day of work at my old department. I don’t know why this feels like a reason to celebrate. Perhaps because it seems to signal progress to me: that I’m in a better place than I was a year ago, and that I’ve managed to take the pieces of my life and put them together into something new and better than what I had before.
Last year, it seemed too much when my in-laws went from 100 miles away to right next door, and my job transferred me to a new department a few months later. There were times when I felt I had no peace anywhere. But I learned that the Lord never gives you more than you can handle, and with His help, I not only survived but have thrived in these new conditions.
I know my full strength in Him, and that nothing is impossible (sometimes people aren’t willing to allow Him to make all things possible – but let’s save that for another entry!). I know my purpose and myself better, and I’m not afraid of who I am; not even the little inconsistencies that sometimes puzzled me about myself. I am a whole human being and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I know that I not only have a right, but a duty to be my authentic self and that to be anything else is offensive to the Lord and what He created me to be. I know that anything worth having is a lot of work – more than I imagined possible – but the rewards are usually bigger than you imagined.
Most importantly, I learned that if God brings me to it, He’ll bring me through it. And because of that, I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t fear what might be, or what’s around the next corner. I have learned the true meaning of Romans 8:28; that “all things work together for good for those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose.” I am called by Him for a purpose. I know I may not understand many things, and I’m okay with that because I have seen His power move mountains in my life that I thought could never budge. They did, and I’m a better person because of increased faith because of it.
I’m not so arrogant as to believe that doubt will never come again. I made that mistake once, and boy did I get a double dose of humility. I know now that if you try to do what’s right, it’s really going to piss the devil off and he will attack you with all his might. But the Lord is on our side, so the devil can’t win. It won’t stop him from trying, so the challenge during times of trial and testing is to remember this: that Satan is already defeated and he cannot win in our life if we call on Christ to defend and protect us.
There are two morals to this entry. First, my secret to making it through such a chaotic transition was prayer. I learned the true meaning of “praying without ceasing.” Second, nothing last forever. So take heart. If you’re in a rut, don’t worry because something will eventually move and get you out. If life is chaos, don’t worry because it will eventually settle. If you’re down, don’t worry because you will rise. If you’re up, don’t get arrogant because you will come off that mountaintop eventually (so enjoy it while you can, but stay humble and give thanks always). The nature of the universe is change and the nature of life is undulation. Up and down, always in motion. Even when it looks like nothing’s happening, it is. Sometimes that motion is barely perceptible. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. But it’s always there.
Don’t ever ask “is it over yet?” because it won’t be until you die. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
That’s all today.