Job

Let me start by saying that I found this to be long and redundant. I am sorry and I will read it again in the future and wonder what I was thinking but for today, it just felt like it was going on and on. Maybe I am too cut and dry about stuff but I feel like it could have been a shorter book of the Bible. That being said, there was actually a lot going on in this book.

I know that Job was the most righteous. I know that what happened to him was just unimaginable. I understand that Job never blamed God for his misfortunes and tragedy, which made him all the more righteous. And probably burned Satan’s butt as a happy side note!

I get that Job’s wife and friends all tried to blame God or Job himself for what happened and Job never faltered from his undeniable faith in God. Over and over he seemed to be blaming himself for some sin that he doesn’t realize he commited. He curses his even being born, with the thought I am assuming that none of the people who worked for him would have lost their lives and his children would not have been born so they would not have died either.

Isn’t it funny how the default thought is to blame God? How many people have you talked to who said they stopped going to church because they lost their family member or their close friend died in an accident so they just can’t believe in a God who would make bad things happen. The thing is, believing in God is also believing that your life is not your own but instead is a book written by God that you get to live out. And just like in a good book, there has to be some conflict and tragedy to make it worth reading. I don’t know about you, but when I am reading through a hard part of a book I am truly hoping that everything is going to work out in the end.

I have tried to live my life the same way. When conflict arises (and I feel like I have had my share of conflict, although not all in the same day and time like Job!) I TRY to remember to thank God. When I am feeling like it is hopeless, I remember other times in my life when I felt that way and how God brought me through them. Usually stronger and more prepared for the next challenge!

I am not saying that I don’t have days when I feel weak. Just last Sunday I had a day where all I could do was hide under the covers and cry because life was just too much for me. But even through all of that, I knew that God had me. I don’t smile and walk blindly through my life but I do have a peace in my heart because I know that I am not walking through this world alone.

I am not even close to as righteous as Job. I am pretty sure if God and Satan were talking about which one of his children Satan should test, my name would not be in the conversation. As a matter of fact, I would not even be a “but what about…no, she did ‘fill in the blank’ so she won’t do” thought! But what I do have in common with Job is the inability to place blame on the Lord. When you have faith, you just KNOW that everything that happens is bringing you one step closer to being the person God has in mind for you to be. Isn’t that everyone’s goal, Christian or not, to be the best version of yourself?!

Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 21:21-22

Herman’s Head

Does anyone remember that show? A guy lived a normal life but we got to be a part of what his different brain parts thought and did in every day situations. It was cool how everything had to work together and how the different parts had to communicate and figure stuff out. Even on TV life is a team effort!

I have been having problems at work with just that. Some of us work together but there is always that one lone wolf who wants to go it alone. The thing is, though, this job (and most jobs!) are way more effective when everyone does what they are supposed to do and leaves the other stuff to the people who do that stuff. There is no I in team and all that.

I am getting so worked up and there is nothing I can do about it. I am pretty good at letting stuff I have no control over go but for whatever reason I can’t seem to do it. It is making my stomach hurt all the time and I feel awful. Something’s gotta give! So I figured I would occupy my head a little more so I have less time to stress out.

I am doing a bible plan to read the Bible as it actually happened for a year and I am going to start giving my commentary here. I learn something new everytime I read it and writing down my thoughts will be interesting to go back and read.

So, starting tomorrow I am on it. I am reading Job right now and I gotta say–stop whining already! I will get more into it tomorrow 🙂

Whining isn’t cool!

Hi there! Long time no see, Friends! I want to talk about doubt and being afraid. Lots of stuff is in my world right now and I have been praying like crazy. It has been rough but I know God has plans for me. It is hard to remember that it isn’t always flowers and roses! I have kind of glimpsed at a piece of my future story and it is good. I want to hope and it seems like it is going to happen but I have to be honest, I am afraid to hope. I feel like God has always been there for me but I have had to figure it out by myself for a little while before he swooped in and fixed it. I have not been faithful and let God handle things because I didn’t really trust that He could do it for me. You know, the guy who made the whole Earth and all the creatures in it. The guy who has written the story of me and everyone I have ever met. Yea, that guy. Ok, tell me why I am wrong!

I also find myself thinking that so much bad has happened to me that I DESERVE for something good to happen. Um, Amanda–you DESERVE nothing. Who are you–Jeramiah?! You deserve to know and feel that God has you in his arms. You DESERVE to know that what ever happens, good or bad, God has planned it and is using it to better my life and my existence. Other than that, you don’t DESERVE anything.

Pastor Darren talked about how your life should have changed by being a follower of Jesus. He said that if your life didn’t change after you decided to follow Jesus then you didn’t really change. Well Duh! Except that it made perfect sense. It is one of those things that I should just KNOW, but like the warning on a cup of coffee that it is hot and will burn you if you spill it, it just isn’t as obvious.

I remember the moment I gave my life to Jesus for real. I had always been a Christian in name but not always in my heart. I had quit my full time job and put all my hope into the business I had started as a professional Pet Sitter. It was going well but then January came and so did all the bills. I needed to buy pet sitter’s insurance. I had to pay for my memberships to two different trade organizations. Not to mention everything else that goes along with starting a new business. It would all be okay, though–I had a decent tax refund and a big pet sitting job coming up so I would be all set. However I didn’t get that refund. And the big job canceled because someone was sick so I couldn’t in good faith even charge them the cancellation fee that I usually required. I borrowed money from everyone I know to pay for it all. I hustled to pick up jobs and I did everything I could think of. Except the one thing I should have done–prayed. After like 5 weeks of waiting for the check that never came, I finally broke down. I was crying in the shower because I didn’t want anyone to hear me (sign of weakness?!) and I told God that I get it finally. I told God that I give up and that I would give him control. I thanked Him for the opportunities I have been given. I felt drained and weak…but strangely peaceful. By giving up all my worries and fears, I was free to remember why I quit my full time job and why I was passionate about my new adventure. Even though the money wasn’t there I was still peaceful. It was weird. And a funny thing happened–the check I had been waiting for came the next day.

I had already “gotten it” with God but I still thank him every day. I definitely falter in my belief when things get really tough in my little world. (See above!) Ultimately, though, I will never forget how peaceful and confident I felt after that day in the shower. I guess I just have to remember to thank God and just know that He knows what the future holds. And keep praying!

Using God’s Hands to close a Door

I did it–I closed my business. God and I have gone back and forth about this one because I have wanted to do it since I lost my Beloved but God told me to wait. I started this business with Albert pushing me. Every time I wanted to quit he was the first one to tell me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t. I really lost my mojo after I found out he was sick and I slowly backed away. I changed over to cats only after he passed but even that was not enough of a change. I needed to close it as the official business because I am scared. I need to have faith to move a mountain and not have fears that the one who made me and made the world can’t handle something as little as my life without pet sitting to fall back on.

God gave me the animal shelter to take my mind off of it. He gave me the animal shelter to keep me from falling into a pit of despair and hopelessness because I feel alive when I am there. Mostly, though, he gave me the animal shelter to remind me that I am strong enough to figure it out and pay my own bills without anyone else. I know that God put me in the right place at the right time because He knew it would do all this for me. And I am grateful.

Here is where it gets tricky, though. God ALSO has reminded me how I need to be wise about it and not just quit Amanda’s Kitty Pals. I need to make sure I am financially secure before I completely walk away from the business because even though I am over it I need to be a grown up and have a plan. I didn’t want to do that but I did. Just to make sure I was true in my promise, He had me lose a pretty big account. I believe God was testing me to see if I would use that as an excuse to walk away from the business before I was ready. I am listening these days so I didn’t!

I still have accounts and I will continue to cat sit as an individual until I am fully stable but I am almost there. And I have a plan to get another job so I can actually save some money instead of just making enough to live. I am pretty sure God has his hands on that as well!

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

I don’t deserve this…or do I?

I have taken a new position at work. I was actually pretty insecure and nervous about it. Although it is what I really want to do, it is SCARY since I am officially in charge of the cat rooms now. I mean, the Director knew I can handle it. She knew it would be okay even if I didn’t…she is so smart that way!

Have I mentioned how much I thank God for my job? I applied for the job and had the gall to tell the person I was applying to that I could not work the hours they had posted. I must be honest, I was not actually expecting her to offer me the job. The job fell into my lap TOO EASY. I mean, God is not THAT good to me! I prayed for this job and it just appeared for me. Seriously. I had not even applied anywhere yet! So I made it harder for God to make it work for me. And blast it, HE WAS NOT DETERRED!

I gave her alternate hours that would work for me and somehow they worked for her, too. Voila–God wanted it to work for me and it did. I have gotten a few different raises and added jobs here and there since then. Seriously–I keep trying to think of ways that this job is not PERFECT for me but I just can’t do it.

Recently, I lost a big account in my pet sitting company. I was worried about money, although I do try to give it to God when I start to spiral about it! Anyway, The Director offered me another job. (The job I referenced above actually) It came with a big raise that will cover the money I lost. I am working a bunch more, but it is okay because I don’t feel like I am working! And honestly, I KNOW I am the perfect person for this job. Thank you God for that as well!

Anyway, the point of my post is to say that I have tried in every way to say that I will mess up this job but God is not ready for that to happen. Isn’t it funny how when He decides it is right for me it is right?!

Giving the pen back to God

Something happened today that changed the way I am thinking about my life. The mailman knows my name. I am sure you are thinking, “so what”, right? It IS a big deal though. It is another sign from my God to remind me that there are plenty of options out there for me. Let me explain.

There are a few men I have been spending time with lately. None of them are perfect for me. They each have something that make them special to me but it doesn’t outweigh the thing (or things) that make them utterly wrong for me.

I have this need to make them perfect though. This need for companionship and the comfort of having someone to love. I am SURE that one of them is going to fill my need. I talked to my former Pastor about it and said that there was something that just wasn’t right. His response was maybe it was the Holy Spirit talking to me. I have to be honest, I brushed him off on that comment. Although I heard it and keep hearing it whenever something doesn’t “fit”, I was willfully ignoring it.

Then today I ran into the mailman getting out of his truck. He was getting a package out of the back and I kind of waited to see if it was for me. I haven’t ordered anything lately but the excitement of getting a package is irresistible, you know?! When I saw that it was a box from Target I knew it wasn’t for me. The mailman saw my face and said Nope, not for you. I get it, getting that last package is a thrill. I told him I hadn’t even ordered anything lately but still. And he said, “I did deliver a parcel to number 3 yesterday, so there is that…” The thing is, I never told him what apartment I lived in. So he knew who I was!

At first I was happy that I have lived somewhere long enough that the mailman knows me. There are so many ways that Westbrook has become home for me, that this apartment is like my Bat Cave–my secret paradise where I can be myself and there is no one here to judge me. Having the mailman know who I am was just one more way that I am where I belong.

Except the longer I think about it, the more I think that there is a completely different meaning behind the mailman knowing me. I think it is a message from God, actually. It is a message to remind me that I am worth more than just settling for someone who isn’t my version of perfect. A message to remind me that I am memorable and that God’s perfect match for me may still be out there. A message to remind me that I am trying too hard to make things work in my favor…I am trying to make things work when they just aren’t right right now.

I am not saying that one of these men isn’t going to be “the one.” But (as usual) I need to stop trying to take the pen away from the author of my story and make the ending work MY way. If that is how it is meant to me, He will write that into existence. If not, He will write that as well. Either way, I have to have faith that God has a plan and my job is to just wait for him to tell me. Message received, Father!

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

WWJD and Happy Birthdays

Have you ever felt like God broke his promise and how do you keep Jesus in your life every day? Also, how do you keep Christ in Christmas? These are some questions that were brought up at my IF dinner for my woman’s ministry and I honestly have to say I didn’t really know how to answer them! I am going to try and think through them out loud here, leave me a comment and tell me your answers!

I guess when I was just learning about God and his promises “for real” (I had of course heard and read about Him before but not with an open heart and mind) I thought of all the times that I felt alone and abandoned by God. He promised to always be by my side. And when I didn’t feel his presence that is because he was carrying me then…isn’t that what the Footprints in the Sand poem says?! Looking back now I think that was true–there were a lot of ways that God got me through awful stuff even if I didn’t “see Him” in the middle of it all. But I definitely felt like God broke his promise to me at that time.

How do I keep Jesus in my every day life? This one was really thought provoking for me because He is there…I know He is…but how? The obvious answer is I pray. In my car on my way to work. When I open my eyes in the morning. When someone cuts me off in traffic and my first thought is ‘where are the cops when I need them’ and I instead pray that they get where ever it is that they are going in such a hurry. But how else?

When I make big, hard decisions I ask God to help me make the right choice. I don’t always think about WWJD (remember the bracelets from the 90’s–what would Jesus Do?) when I am deciding what to do with my day. Or when I try to figure out what to have for lunch. Or what to say to a friend who is hurting. It seems insignificant but THAT is when I need Jesus in my life. Maybe not when I can’t decide between Burger King or McDonalds (hahaha) but if I use Jesus (or the WWJD idea) to steer me when I am making ALL my decisions I will be making the right choices. I will be able to recognize when I get a feeling I should do something and it doesn’t align with what I would normally do that it is probably not the right choice! I won’t have that gut instinct if I am only going to God for the big stuff.

Keeping Christ in Christmas was easier when the kids were little for sure. The ladies in my dinner last night all agreed that the ones without littles to impress about the importance of Jesus, it is really hard. One said that she just doesn’t even feel it this year. I have to agree with her.

When my kids were little, Jesus was a part. We sang Happy Birthday to the baby Jesus in the manger (the baby was placed in the manger the night before and up until the day we let Mary and Joseph wait like us!) before we opened any presents. I am ashamed to say that it didn’t really go any farther than that. We didn’t even read the Christmas story in the Bible. In my defense, though; I was a pew warmer and not really a Jesus follower so I thought I was keeping the reason for the season in the front of the kids’ minds.

Now, I put up a tree and I put up my nativity set. But not the cool one that had the empty manger so I could place the baby and the wise men there on Christmas eve. I couldn’t see the point of doing all that. Nope, I put up the one piece nativity set that I put up by Al’s bedside when he was bedridden. The one that doesn’t take up much space and has a light to represent the North star with 2 AAA batteries. After the dinner yesterday, I am going to put that one back in the Christmas decorations tote and take out the one with the empty manger. Singing happy birthday to baby Jesus in the morning is a tradition that I need to keep going, even if their are no impressionable minds to act for. Scratch that, I have an impressionable mind! And I will read the bible. If I read a chapter of Luke every day, I will finish the Book of Luke on Christmas eve. (I will have to double up to catch up this year but next year this will just be a part of Christmas) That will remind me of the reason for the season and get me out of the funk I am in this year. AND it will put Jesus in my life–win win!!!

 Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

My Retractable Key Chain

Happy Thanksgiving! This one is bittersweet for me. Although I miss my Beloved and everything I did today made me think of past years when he was well; it is also gloriously the last holiday I have to share alone for the first time. I will still be alone next year but it will be my new version of normal and not the “Poor Girl Who Lost Her Husband’s” Thanksgiving.

Yesterday marked a year that he has been gone. A day I had been dreading since he passed last year. A year that all I could see ahead of me was depression and sadness. A day marking the end of a year I was pretty sure I was not going to survive. But God has plans for me.

God knew I would survive and thrive during this year of uncomfortable pain. He gave me tools–like the realization that I had been checking the temperature of the room and adjusting myself to make everyone else comfortable. I didn’t even occur to me that someone else should be adjusting the room to meet MY needs.

When I was doubting my purpose he gave me a job that makes me feel empowered and strong. A job that reminded me of why I got into animal care in the first place when I was doubting if it is what I wanted to do. A job where I am surrounded by love and understanding, even when I am having one of my crazy episodes. A job with co-workers that remind me of what it feels like to be worthy and accepted for being me.

When I wanted to walk away from cat sitting, I prayed He would tell me what I should do. He reminded me that I needed to work hard and build up my behavior work before rushing into quitting. I have to be truthful, I tried to act like I didn’t hear Him on that one. I was really hoping He would tell me to go ahead and jump. Everything had been pretty good up until that point, nothing too uncomfortable or life changing. I really wanted to just move in a new direction without knowing what was next but God kept throwing thoughts in my head to make me doubt that move. I finally got it when I heard the Dave Ramsey quote, “Listen, children do what feels good, adults devise a plan and follow it…” OK, God. I devised a plan to keep cat sitting while focusing hard on getting behavior clients.

I have been listening to an audio book and one thing really sounded familiar, like it was a new thought; but one that I heard before. The author said when you are doing nothing because you are afraid, force yourself to do something. The act of doing something small will help remind you that you have the skills needed and help you move forward. I am paraphrasing but that was the jist. My therapist has told me basically the same thing in the past when I didn’t want to go to parties or out. She said to tell yourself you are going for a set amount of time and when the time is up you can decide if you want to continue or go home. Spoiler alert, I almost always end up staying! Once I get there I realize that no one thinks I am stupid, ugly, over-dressed, under-dressed, etc. The act of getting there is all I need to remind myself that none of the stuff Frank is screaming in my head is true. So in other words, this is a tool that God put in my toolbox a long time ago. When I was looking around for the “dropping-my-main-source-of-income-and-hoping-for-the-best” tool, I found that one instead.

I am surrounded by people I love and who love me back, last year this time I really felt like my one true friend was gone. My eyes are open to my world, I am no longer trying to stay in the place where Albert led me. Turns out that the tools God has been given me were keys. I am instead looking forward down the hallway and seeing all the new exciting doors for me to open that only I have the key for.

So even though this Thanksgiving was bittersweet, I am thankful for it. I am in a really good place for the first time in a long time and I wouldn’t be here if my life had stayed the same. Turns out being uncomfortable has an important place in my life!

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Be a Suzie Sunshine!

Do you have thoughts of gratitude or griping throughout the day? Day 17 talks about how easy it is for our minds to turn to complaining. Do you think when you walk up people think–Oh no, here comes Debbie Downer? Or maybe they think that when they are having a tough time they should talk to you because you are always so positive. I know I hope to be Susie Sunshine!

The reflect for Day 17 is to write down my top three complaints for today. After I have written them down, I should count to 10 and reevaluate and redirect. I need to surrender my rights to those complaints and ask the Lord to change my heart or the situation. Believe it or not, this is not easy for me. I guess I try not to be a complainer so I don’t notice stuff unless it is really bad!

I don’t think it is because I have already given it to God. It goes back to my original posts about how I have always taken care of myself. In a way, I am second guessing whether I have the right to complain about anything. Complaining doesn’t do any good, it just ruins the rest of the day so it is a waste of time and energy. Best to continue on and keep making things happen, right?

The point is a good one anyway. I think I am going to make it a habit to pay attention to when things that are worthy of complaint and redirect them to God instead of just making myself think they are not important enough to worry about it. It won’t be worry if I give it to God!

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and health to the body. Proverbs 16:26

Hiding my light under a basket

Hi there! I was not planning on writing today but something happened that is threatening to send me into a spin. Jesus tells a parable about not lighting a lamp to cover it or put it under the bed but put it on a table so it can shine it’s light everywhere. Although not exactly what he meant, I feel like telling my story out loud is like putting that lamp out where it’s light will touch everyone around me. If I don’t talk about the grief or the anxiety when it hits me, it is akin to putting that light under a basket where I will know it is there but it won’t be seen and won’t be able to help anyone see the way.

My cousin sent me a Facebook invite to the annual Thanksgiving family Football game. It brought back memories of all the years previous with my Beloved and how much he looked forward to this tradition. I remembered when he threw a snow ball into the megaphone my Aunt was using to cheer her team (not his team!) during the first game he had participated in and how I was mortified and certain that no one would ever want me to bring him anywhere after that. Of course, everyone loved him and maybe even more because he stood up for his team even when he probably didn’t even know the names of the people he was playing with yet! I remembered how every year when we got the invitation he would say he wasn’t playing this year, he was too sore after last year’s game, blah blah blah. And then we would go and he would play. I remember that he never told me if his team won or lost, just about all the fun things that happened or how different people did stuff on the field. I remembered that last year he was barely walking and the idea of bringing him to this state park with its dirt road and grassy fields was too much to even plan. Even when Al was just getting to know us, he was a part of the family when it came to playing football. After crying on the couch, I responded to her invite with an enthusiastic “Can’t wait!” (Fake it till you make it, right?!) And I can’t wait for real. Even though every part of me wants to spend this holiday alone in my pjs, I don’t think that is what I am meant to do. My sister in law always tells me “Life is for the living, go live!

My Pastor talked about forgiveness in the last sermon and how it is truly for the person who is holding the grudge. I realized while he spoke that I am holding a grudge against Al for leaving me here to go through all this alone. I know it isn’t realistic to be mad at someone for something they couldn’t control, and I am sure if he could have Al would be here. Still, I need to be angry at someone so why not be mad at someone who can’t fight back or defend themselves, right? I wrote Al’s name on a piece of paper and put it at the foot of the cross. Symbolic but also part of my memory now. Whenever I start to feel that anger bubbling up I recall writing his name down and giving it to God to take away the feelings of hurt. Maybe it is simplistic, but that truly helps me to stop and thank God for the experience.

I am trying my hardest to be a light in the darkness for those who will go through this experience. It isn’t always easy (actually, it is almost always NOT easy!) but God gave me the power of a voice while Al was sick and I don’t think it was a tool he wanted me to use then and discard after!

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehamiah 8:10