What is devastating?

More thoughts on my blog entry from Monday.

I said I wasn’t feeling bad or scared, that this was terrible or devastating. That is true, but perhaps I can be clearer. Maybe I need to be clearer so I remember this later. When friends say this is terrible or devastating, they are probably thinking that in this economy I may not find another job quickly. We may lose our house and other trappings of our comfortable life. When I say this isn’t devastating or terrible, I don’t mean those things won’t happen. I am aware that we may indeed lose a lot of the things we have and experience some humiliation as we find ourselves trying to get out from under all of the things we have right now. I don’t think the next months will be easy.

But I mean that having all of that happen is not devastating unless we lose our faith in God and harden our hearts. In the last two days I have gotten busy with cleaning up some things at work and with getting other todos done and wasn’t immersed in the Bible and in the books that have encouraged me and made me excited about what I could do, and I have found that with that distance and some of the conversations I’ve had I have become a little frightened and depressed. I can’t do that, I need to be more careful about how I spend my time.

I also need to get back into practice for job hunting. I created a new email address to use for my resume and the outplacement service and then didn’t check it. Today I found an email from the outplacement service that was sitting there for a few days. I need to develop some new habits, I guess.

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Just an update

It has been an interesting few days. Friends and family at home and church now know about my job situation. I have gotten three types of responses, and I am overwhelmed by the amount of love and concern that everyone has shown me. There are the people who are shocked and angry and use words like “terrible” and “devastating” and in general feel that this is a huge setback and they make me feel I should be crying nonstop. Then there are people who have been through unemployment before. They are the ones with practical feedback and encouragement that I will get through this. I told Anthony that I started to wonder if I should feel worse about this given how so many people are reacting.

Then there are a few who either have read my blog or showed interest in finding out how I am feeling, instead of telling me how bad they feel. Those conversations touch on the excitement of what is ahead and the encouragement and strength needed to get through the tasks and waiting ahead of me/us. Those conversations have been fun and fruitful. As one friend said, I don’t need to feel worse because that would just mean I was worrying.

Anthony has joked that he thinks I should have consulted him before praying such a big prayer. He is wonderful about all of this, he’s even more excited than I am (he’s been unemployed more times than I have, too).

One opportunity at work didn’t come through, so this week I will begin seriously searching and praying nonstop for God’s guidance in the right direction. I realized Friday while I was waiting to see if that opportunity to stay would work out, that I would indeed stay if given the chance. I’m not sure if it is a desire to stay safe or prudent, but it may be that God has to close all of those doors on me. If that happens, I can’t be disappointed, because it just means He has plans for me elsewhere. I’ll cling to that, because while my blog posts are discussing the excitement, I have to admit there have been a few tears and feelings of anger and frustration too.

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One final thought for this post. Over the past few months as God has been convicting me and drawing my heart out and away from myself, I have thought about finding another career or other way to serve. I remember thinking that if something big was planned it would have to wait two years while I continued to work for my employer in return for my tuition. Well, that “roadblock” has been removed.

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What do you do when prayer is answered?

I have a dilemma and I’m going to share it with you. As you know, we went to the Ligonier National Conference and for 3 days we heard a stellar group of godly men preach in the holiness of God (and the faithfulness of John Calvin). One of the concepts that I picked up was something that fit in with some of the other reading I have been doing this year. That a love of God and desire for his will be our primary focus, our overriding concern, to desire to be made holy because God is holy. A recognition that I am not my own, I belong to my Savior and He can use me as He sees fit. For example, John Calvin was challenged to choose between pursuing his own interests or giving up his interests to honor and obey God’s call. Aspects of this obedience are self-denial and cross bearing. There were additional talks about needing to have a heartfelt sense of my need of God and a sense of humility and trust in God along with a confident hope.

This jonied with the movement in my heart already started by the book Not For Sale and my desire for a vocation and purposeful life. Maybe it was even earlier when I found this song in October. I fully believe that I can do good things while living where I am and doing what I do for a living. But, as many of us are, I am challenged to ask if I own my things or if they own me. If God called me to, would I be willing to give it all up and walk away from my respectable life?

So, we came home and on Monday I prayed to God and it went something like this. “Use me for Your glory – in any way You choose. Even if it means humiliation or struggle for me, I am willing to obey and do Your will.” I had some thoughts in mind while I prayed this. As we have watched the economy get worse and seen so many people affected we have realized that even what we have saved may not be enough. We have talked about what we would do if we could no longer afford the house. What it would mean to try to fulfill our legal obligations, but when we would make the hard choice to walk away from it if necessary. I’ve thought how it would feel to be different from our friends – trying to understand how so many in this country already feel as they have lost jobs and houses and all of the things that make us all like everyone else.

But when I said that prayer I didn’t really have a sense of how it might be answered, just that I wanted to be faithful enough to lean on God when He answers it. And hope I recognize when He does answer it, to know how to obey.

I bet you are wondering where this is all going, after all, I did say I had a dilemma. Yesterday I was told today that I am part of a resource action at my employer and my last day is April 27. I may find another job within the company before then in which case this is all just a bad dream and things continue on as they have been.

I have lots of friends looking in many directions for a position for me, and that is a good thing. I am so grateful that I have friends who want to help me and have some ability to help me. My main prayer is to know how to wait on God’s timing and not manufacture a solution on my own. If this is the answer to my prayer, it may mean we are in for a huge change and I don’t want to fight it just to protect my safe little world.

That leads to my dilemma – knowing what choices to make, what actions to take. Do I take any option to stay where I am? If I decide not to do that, if I decide not to take an opportunity that others go out of their way to create for me I only pray I have the right words to say it without burning bridges but while being obedient. I’m really hoping God keeps closing doors until only the right one is open. I expect it won’t be that easy or clear-cut. I will pray for God to realize and strengthen my motivation to be obedient and provide the right help for me to do that.

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Well, one door didn’t close. My employer paid quite a bit for my recent Executive MBA and in agreement I have to work for 2 more years. If I quit before then I owe my employer that money. I just confirmed that as a result of this resource action, I am NOT expected to pay back any of those expenses. If I had been, it would have been a sure sign to me to stick around at whatever job I can find here. It may be that this free ride and my package could make it a good time to walk away. Although the economy doesn’t encourage me to walk away, but worry over my daily bread is not supposed to be my motivation.

There are still a few layers of management that could say no. I don’t know what to pray for, so I’ll stick to asking God to keep me obedient to His will.

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Sworn to Silence (review)

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This was my Feb LT Early Reviewers win and it arrived in the mail on 3/13. The plot sounded interesting. I like murder mysteries and have recently been reading  about the Amish, so having them combined in one plot was promising.

As I first began the book, I was a little surprised by the language. I have read books before with cursing, so I’m not sure why this caught me. Either I got used to it or it was more appropriately used later in the book because I stopped really noticing.

The plot is straightforward – a serial killer is in action, and his methods are exactly like those of a series of murders 16 years ago. There is reason, however, to be pretty sure that the original serial killer died 16 years ago. The issue is that only 3 people know about that so everyone else assumes he’s back.

The writing is good and the story is interesting. The differences between the English and the Amish are recognized without being belabored. The police work is described well with just enough detail but never drags on. I enjoyed this reading and recommend it for anyone interested in police mysteries.

The book is due to be published in June, 2009.

Here is a good description of the Police Chief – ” A gun-toting, cursing, former Amish female chief of police.”

Here is a good description of how the main character, Police Chief Kate Burkholder, is feeling. “I feel a sense of responsibility to the people I’ve sworn to protect and serve. I hope I can honor my oath of office without dishonoring my family or destroying my own life in the process.”

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Reviews – That Went Well and Consequences of Sin

That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister by Terrell Harris Dougan

I started getting an RSS feed of new books added at the library. This was added in the large print area and I thought it sounded interesting. Over the next day or two the title just stayed with me, I LOVE this title and decided I really wanted to read the book. I am so glad I did. It is a nonfiction story about living with and trying to find the right way to take care of a mentally disabled sibling over a lifetime.

The whole story, the little stories that make up the whole, the coming of age and then aging stories were all well written and I enjoyed the book immensely. We meed Terrell and watch her growing up and learning who she wants to be. We also meet her younger sister Irene who is not right and never will be normal (but how many of us are really normal), but who is easy to love. It starts with a flying packaged chicken and keeps right on going. The story shows what family means, how thinks keep changing, and how little turns out like we plan. But you make it through and sometimes all you can say is “that went well.”

The other library book I had was Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I read a review or saw a comment on a thread on Library Thing about this one and decided to give it a try. I like mysteries and have enjoyed other early 20th century England stories, especially the Maisie Dobb’s books and I believe one of the reviews even compared them favorably. I found the story predictable, but it was still interesting. As with the Maisie Dobb’s books, this attempts to show the early suffragette struggle and how alternative lifestyles were not completely unheard of, even if not accepted. The writing is good. I was a little tired of all the swooning and fuzzy memories, but that is my fault. I remember the time I was rear-ended, not even a serious accident, and I was a bit fuzzy on details. So I imagine being hit on the head, shot at, or in a physical fight with a killer would lead to some shock-induced fuzz.

I also imagine the confict of having well-meaning society expectations, parental hopes, and individual dreams and hopes was a very trying thing when women didn’t do anything but marry well (measured by money more than anything else). All of that is captured in this book.

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What’s on my Nightstand for April?

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Yep, another month has rolled by.

What do I plan to read this coming month?

Fiction:

  • Around the World in 80 Days for the 5M4B Classics Bookclub
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – church book club
  • Consequences of Sin – library book
  • Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (an advance readers’ edition, it’s coming out June 2009)

Nonfiction:

  • That Went Well  – library book, I just loved the title
  • Finally Alive by John Piper (almost finished)
  • Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers (almost finished)
  • Believing God by RC Sproul Jr (I read the first chapter, I like it)
  • The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns (Thomas Nelson Bloggers freebie)
  • Spiritual Disciplines – the audio book for March

Now, progress check on last month’s list and any extras that popped up.

  • Les Miserables – well, I finished the first volume and haven’t gotten back to it. I want to, but we traveled and this is not a book that travels well.
  • Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century – I did finish this one and found it very interesting.
  • honey, i don’t have a headache tonight by Sheila Wray Gregoire – haven’t gotten to this one yet.
  • Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers – I’ve almost finished this one – I am liking it a lot!
  • Your God is Too Small by J. B. Phillips – I haven’t gotten to this one yet

I did finish the Audio book – Not For Sale by David Batstone, this was a very convicting book. I am about 1/2 way through the March audiobook Spiritual Disciplines by Donald Whitney. There is a new one free every month at Christian Audio.

I also read a few others. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, Kiss by Ted Dekker, Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery, Get Outta My Face by Rick Horne, and Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.

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Book contest!

Not that I want competition, but it is nice to share good things, and this looks like a good thing. Head over to Presenting Lenore’s post on a publicist book giveaway and check it out. The books sound interesting! I know I liked Eon, and I suspect at least most of the others are good reads. I am adding to my too be read pile, even if I don’t win the pack.

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Spring Reading Thing 2009

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Time for the Spring Reading challenge from Callapider Days.

Here is my list that I’m planning on reading between now and the end of Spring!

  1. Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthorne
  2. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (an advance readers’ edition, it’s coming out June 2009)
  3. Get Outta My Face! by Rick Horne
  4. The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
  5. The Odyssey by Homer
  6. Spectacular Sins by John Piper
  7. How Long, O Lord by DA Carson
  8. Finally Alive by John Piper
  9. Emily Climbs by LM Montgomery
  10. To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper
  11. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  12. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
  13. finish Les Miserables (I’ve read 1 volume)
  14. the ChristianAudio April freebie
  15. the ChristianAudio May freebie
  16. the ChristianAudio June freebie
  17. Believing God by RC Sproul, Jr.
  18. George Muller bio by Pierson

I’ve read 23 plus several books of the Bible in Jan-Mar 20, so these 18 should be doable. The danger is I find other things to read and they push out the planned books.

And I am sure we’ll find more books at the Ligonier National Conference so the list will only grow.

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Where in the world is Laura?!

For the next 3 days I’ll be here and you can be too, at least virtually. Click the image to see how you can attend.

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We drove the truck, so we have plenty of room for all the books I’m bringing back. 😉

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Get Outta My Face! – review

I picked this up after reading the review on Tim Challies’ blog. My teenager isn’t angry, but he can be unmotivated. I ordered it from Monergism books while getting a Bible study for us to complete this Spring.

The premise is to help adults (parents, counselors) see teenagers and spend time seeing things from their perspective. He begins in the introduction presenting eight ways to see teenagers with a biblical lense. This includes treating them with respect and recognizing that they are sinners, as are we all. Also that there are “wise wants” within each of us, including angry teenagers. He uses this fact to bring hope to the situation. We can help them identify their wise wants, encourage those good things, and then help them find their own solutions to help take actions that will achieve those good things.

The author does a good job of reminding us that teenagers are old enough to take responsibility for their own actions and to be trusted with this growing maturity, but also points out that many things we see as obvious are not obvious to them. The section on helping them see that actions and consequences do connect was helpful for me. For example, not recognizing how actions can have results can lead to hopelessness, and feeling there is no control over anything.

He also stresses that the teenager does have choices, even though one of those choices is to continue the same behavior that has resulted in the bad results they have gotten so far. This is brought out well in a page talking about how change is hard (don’t we all know that) and it “can seem easier to them at times to just stay the way they are and pay the price. So you have to keep before these teens their own words about how the unpleasantness they are getting has been messing everything up.”

The main section talks about listening to identify the things they don’t want, then helping them clarify where they do have control and why they would want to make the effort to change. After that you help them find times they have taken good actions and had good consequences and using those experiences to craft solutions to current issues and then planning small steps to begin to make those changes.

He ends with a reminder that all of this is good and useful and biblical, but the main goal should be to point the teenager to Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The author uses the book of Proverbs to show the biblical wisdom in the approach and actions to help guide a young person to their own self-evaluation and actions. I look forward to reading this one again and using the information to change how I interact with teenagers.

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