Unemployed – Day Two

I’ve written too many Day One entries whether on a blog or in a journal, full of enthusiasm and optimism for specialized goals I’ve conjured up for myself, only to find that on Day Two the spirit wanes and the resolve weakens. I remember writing about homeschooling the girls in Ghana on Day One.  Something along the lines of, “Look how organized I am!  Look how well-behaved my kids are!  Look how much we’re getting done!”  You can only imagine what Days Two – 500 looked like.

In order to avoid the Day Two denial stage, I’ve added an accountability option – to tell you about it.

So, to explain, despite the title, this is not Day Two of my being unemployed (I think we’re on Day 92. I’m not even technically unemployed.), nor is it Day Two of a job search in earnest.  Ah heck, why didn’t I just name this post, “Loreli – Day 14,023”?

Because. This is Day Two of a 40-day self-prescribed fast/quest to hear from God about where he is leading me, as far as my employment situation is concerned.   Right now I would technically call myself “underemployed.”  I wish to be fully employed, as in certain and disciplined about how I occupy my time each day, hopefully resulting in a pay cheque in my bank account. Although that is not my primary motivation; that’s my husband’s.

During these 40 days, I intend to spend a lot of time clearing out the detritus of my heart in order to hear God more clearly.  I feel like my head is fuzzy, full of stuff I want to do, can do, must do! Plans! Ideas! What ifs!  But there’s no clarity of vision.

I’ve been feeling a little lost since making the final decision to sell my business.  My reasons were valid – not burn-out, not loss of interest in the business, but an understanding that God was pulling me deeper into ministry.  I feel this call, it’s just undefined at the moment.  When something you feel so deeply is undefined, you get a little restless.  I believe that if you were to rev the engine in your car, plus your car had no wheels, it might feel something like this.

I find myself in this no man’s land of wanting to work, but not willing to compromise.  That’s a dangerous place.  I honestly worry that I might do something stupid in my eagerness to get a move on.  I’m already a ministry hog, leading women’s ministry, doing communications for our missions project, managing social media for a few different organizations, plus the assemblage of duties one acquires as a “Pastor’s Wife.” Plus, hello, I blog.  Besides this personal one, I write a weekly blog for our denomination, which gives me technical “employed” status.

Here’s the thing: if I am excited about what you’re doing and I can get involved, I most definitely will.  The dangerous part is that I overbook and overwork myself and miss out on what’s important: listening to God’s voice, spending time with my family, making meaningful connections, and Sabbath.

In her book, 7, Jen Hatmaker talks about fasting.  I agree with her findings.

According to scripture, fasting was commanded or initiated during one of six extreme circumstances:

  • Mourning
  • Inquiry
  • Repentance
  • Preparation
  • Crisis
  • Worship

I believe my circumstances fit into the category of Inquiry – which we Canadians spell enquiry, so I’ll make that small change – which involves me asking God a lot of “What about…?” questions.  More so, this is about Preparation. I believe God is preparing me for… something.  That’s all I’ve got for now.  But I know from experience that at the end of a period of uncertainty or crisis, we can usually  look back and say, “So that’s what this was all about!”

Fasting increases my reliance on and desire for God. My physical hunger alerts me to my spiritual hunger.

I just want to home in on what God has in the works.  I want to be a part of his plan, not the other way around.

Just so you don’t worry that this is a hunger strike,I will only be skipping supper.  I won’t eat after 2 p.m.  As provider for our family and cooker of our meals, my husband is so annoyed by this.  I did this for Lent and he felt like he was forced to fast too, from my company, because it was just him and the girls at the dinner table each night.  So I’ve made some changes, that I will still sit with the family and engage in conversation as we usually do – and it can’t be about my wishing I could eat.  I will have one day a week where I will eat supper (which will be Fridays).

I feel it has to be a supper thing because that’s where the hunger hits the hardest.  I want to eat the most then.  There’s the proviso that the family feels this is an imposition on them, I will change my fast to suit their needs.  Next option is giving up Diet Coke, so I’m really hoping this supper thing works out.

These 40 days are about hearing from God.

Just today, I had a few interesting nudges.  Check this out.

We should take the stigma out of being unemployed so that people won’t have to say they have a blog.
-Andy Borowitz

OK, I just found that incredibly funny in a nervous laughter kind of way, since I do tell people I blog when they ask me what I do, which they always ask.  And I always hope they don’t think I’m as delusional as I might actually be.

For real though. I struggle like most people with where I find my worth.  Blogging falls short.  So this was timely:

So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.
Jesus (Mark 9:35)

I don’t even hardly know what that means, but I want to. I think it’s a Best Kept Secret about fulfillment and purpose.

If you’re a fellow believer on this path that we travel, seeking God’s will, I would love you to walk with me.  I’d sure appreciate your prayers if you feel so inclined.  I intend to write about the experience.  Writing helps me process my thoughts.  Writing keeps me accountable. Writing will help me work through Days Two – 40.

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Some of the most encouraging things Jesus never said in the gospels

To prepare for Easter, I have been reading through the gospels.

If you’re still with me and don’t feel judged by that statement, let me tell you that this was to be a daily commitment, and I’ve missed at least every other day.  I’m “behind” my original goal, but still ticking along, because THIS TIME I won’t let my failures make me a failure. (I’ve talked about spiritual temper tantrums before, one of the enemy’s ways to get us to abstain from Jesus’ goodness incited by our own feelings of fear or inadequacy.)  Even the bits and pieces are worthwhile.

I originally took on this challenge wanting to hear directly from Jesus, to know better his truth and understand his purposes.  That has indeed happened.   Unexpectedly, I’ve also been encouraged by the words and actions of others besides Jesus.

Granted, there are many in scripture who were written up for speaking with malice or doubt.  Jesus sighs a lot in the gospel of Mark at this unbelieving generation. I feel for him as he tries to show love and reveal truth but is accused at every turn.  How hard it must have been!

But when a few people “get it,” even when I catch a glimpse of someone trying to understand, I feel joyful on their behalf.  I can relate.  Doubt and skepticism come so easily.  There is a world of confusion around me if I take my eyes off Jesus even for a moment.  I struggle with my own unbelief, my own flaws, my own faithlessness.  So when I see others who can draw me to the Saviour amidst the confusion, I feel a camaraderie.  We’re on this journey together, even if they are 2,000 years older than me.

I have a heart cry like the man whose son was suffering from seizures.  As any parent would, he wants Jesus to heal his son, but perhaps worries that his own doubts might get in the way.  I see others who need healing and I want them to know freedom from their pain.  I too say,  “I believe, help thou my unbelief!” (Mar 9:24)

Or what about Blind Bartimaeus, sitting on the side of the road.  People who previously rebuked him tell him to, “Cheer up!  On your feet! He’s calling you.” (Mark 10:49)  If you challenge me in order to point me to Jesus, in order to remove the scales from my eyes, you are the best friend a girl could have.

Peter is the disciple I relate to the most.  He goofs up all the time: speaking when he shouldn’t, going ahead of Jesus, over-zealous and mouthy. I’ve made pronouncements and promises based on emotion, “Even if all fall away, I will not… I will never disown you!”  When fear invades, when reality stares me in the face, when I break my promises… I relate all too well to Peter’s pain. “And he broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:72)  While not everyone might find that encouraging, I have come to know brokenness as the first step in restoration.  It’s a dissolution of the lies we’ve been telling ourselves. I also know that God used Peter despite (or because of?) his failings to build his church. There is hope for everyone!

In Luke, Jesus talks to his disciples about forgiveness.  They get an inkling of how difficult – how supernatural! – it is to live a life of forgiveness.  Also, faith is a gift from God.  “Increase our faith!” they say to the Lord. (Luke 17: 5)

There is the criminal on the cross beside Jesus who says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)  This criminal’s prayer is answered immediately and directly. “Today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus replies.

And when all looks lost, when Jesus finally breathes his last, the centurion who stood watch says in THAT moment, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)   He was given faith that defied the circumstances.  Without knowing how it would end, without anticipating Jesus’ resurrection, how is it that the centurion recognized Jesus’ power through his death?

There are many other examples in the gospels of people wrestling with the truth of Jesus.   They have the beginnings of the church.  Like the teacher of the law who agreed with Jesus, “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  (Mark 12:32-33)  We receive Jesus’ most encouraging reply, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

It is one week till Easter.  I’ve still got a lot of gospel to go.  As I continue the journey, I’ll take the words of my fellow wayfarers as prayers of my own heart.

Lord, increase my faith, let me hear your call, help me recognize your power and follow you.

According to Sophia

Dear Sophia,

I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with you over the last few days because you have pneumonia. The only thing cool about having pneumonia is the look of shock people give you when you tell them.  However, the shock is minimal as this is a common diagnosis these days.  Those bugs are getting stronger… But forget about the bugs, you just need to get stronger.

You’ve been spending your days doing these three things: staring, drawing in your journal, and sleeping. You made the unfortunate, though honourable, commitment to give up TV for lent.  Now that you find yourself with an ideal excuse to zone out in front of the boob tube (I only said that because it would make you giggle), you remain faithful to your promise.  No TV till Easter.

I’ve even tried to find loopholes for you.”Would you like me to put in a video?  That doesn’t count does it?”

“Don’t tempt me, Mommy!”

And then you take the angel wings off, when all that staring and sleeping gets you down, and you wonder out loud if it would be OK if it you just looked up a show on the computer?  “No!” you stop yourself, “never mind.”

Obviously, you’re doing some thinking while staring because every once in a while you come out with a very deep thought like, “If Beyonce tells her boyfriend, ‘don’t you ever for a second get to thinkin’ you’re irreplaceable,’ she probably shouldn’t be with him.  You should probably only date someone you think is irreplaceable.”  That’s heart-melting contemplation right there.

I remember when you were younger and you’d come up with the things you’d been thinking about, like “What happens when robots eat glass?”  Maybe not as sophisticated, but still deep thoughts for a young one.  Here’s the thing, I didn’t even KNOW robots ate glass!  You’re smart too!

Your name actually means Wisdom.  That was a pleasant surprise when we found out after you were born and named and registered with a Social Insurance Number.  I’m so glad we didn’t find out it meant “ill-fated,” like Desdemona, or “broken-hearted” like Dierdre. (I apologize to all Desdemonas and Dierdres.  Thankfully there’s always the “alternate meaning” option.)

When you were a toddler, I thought that maybe you were given this name because God knew it was what you needed to hear the most.  I was a little worried about your choices in years 2-6.  Those were the years that found you often in the waiting room of the urgent care clinic.  Not because you had pneumonia, but because you’d decided to run down a slide, jump off a high wall, race into traffic.  Oh Lord, this child is going to need Wisdom, I’d pray.

But as you started to develop your mind, I saw that you had it – and a good amount of it.  I also realized that we get the privilege of giving you that blessing every day, every time we speak your name.  Even your nickname, Fifi, also accidental and simply a product of who you are, means God increase.  So every time we call you by name or nickname we actually ask God to increase your wisdom.   My opinion on this is that it matters what we name our children, even if your father and I had no idea at the time.

But you’re not always full of profound thoughts.  You’re a ton of fun too.  Usually you’re the first one to engage in a playful activity.  You still love to jump and hop and dance.  Even though you’re a pre-teen, there’s still toddler in you.  This is why it is so hard to see you just lying there.  So I decided to help you become un-bored by asking your thoughts on a some things, just for the heckuvit.

Here’s what you said:

  • On Joseph Kony. I don’t really know his full story. But by the sounds of things, it seems like he should be executed.  If he makes other people kill other people, then he’s murdering.  But does that mean if he‘s executed the one who executed him is also murdering?
  • On Lucky Charms. They’re way too sugary, but that would never stop me from eating them.
  • On dating. Some people date too young, like that are my age and even younger!  It’s not like they’re going to get married or anything.  People do it just to seem like they’re cool, but they don’t seem like they’re cool at all.
  • On piano lessons. I feel that I shouldn’t quit, even though I get frustrated sometimes, because you guys pay a lot of money.  If I quit it would be a waste of money for all that time I’ve been doing piano lessons so far.  I do want to play piano, but sometimes I think I want to  quit just because I get frustrated.  That reason isn’t good enough.  When I hear Daddy playing it makes me want to play.
  • On her favourite colour, blue. It seems refreshing and happy.
  • On how not be bored when you can’t watch TV.  My favourite thing to do is colour and draw because it inspires me.  I get really excited about making art.  I don’t know how to explain it.
  • On what you want to be when you grow up. Fashion Designer, because it’s fun for me, like what I do in my fashion books. You get to use your imagination and it can be YOUR creation that someone is wearing.
  • On Mallory. I love her so bad.  Sometimes she bugs me, but it’s what a big sister does.
  • On Jesus. Everybody should know him and the love that he gives.
  • On being 11. I love it. I feel like I can still be an old kid and a young kid.
  • On being frustrated. I get frustrated when I’m overwhelmed with things I need to do and I feel I can’t finish any of it when I need to.  If I have a project, but also piano and homework and chores.  I get frustrated with myself. I feel like someone’s definitely going to be mad at me soon.
  • On what might frustrate others about herself. [long pause] Maybe if say something by accident that could offend somebody? Oh I know! If I get distracted when I need to do one of my jobs and they keep asking me and asking me to do my job.  That’s gotta be frustrating.

And now, Sophia, it’s the end of the day. You need to get your sleep after a long day of… sleep.  The antibiotics are kicking in and I’m looking forward to seeing that light come back in your eyes. We’ll see if we can come up with any un-boring things to do tomorrow.

Good night, Sweetie, and may God increase your Wisdom.

Love, Mommy


10 Random Things You Should Know About Sophia, According to Sophia

1. I like matching my jewellery with the shirt that I’m wearing every day, unless today. I’m sick.

2. I like being warm and cozy.

3. I hate the thought of taking a bath or shower, but once I get in I love it.

4. I love the muppets and I like to draw cartoons of them.

5. I don’t like to walk to school.  I have to wear my snow pants and trudge along, but they keep me warm.

6. I don’t like when our feather pillows, the feather sticks out and I put my face on it.

7. I don’t like it when at night, when we’re driving down a hill and a car is coming up and the lights blind me practically.

8. I like to sleep in, but I like to stay up late.

9. I love Hello Kitty.  I’m not sick of her yet.

10. I like doing my hair when it’s long.  Even though right now I can’t because it’s just plain short.