Faith: Worth The Wait

So, remember that waiting game I told you about?

It’s over. 

And that’s why I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been too busy WORKING. Full-time. At a non-profit. 


When I first set up my social media profiles on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, I wrote a short “about me” that I repeated on all three sites. In it, I referred to myself as a wife, youth group leader, crafter, and writer. 

Later, I deleted “writer,” and substituted “blogger,” or “enjoys writing.” Calling myself a writer seemed too pretentious for the author of a small blog with big goals of being published and changing the world. 

And as of October 21st, I am a writer. And as my boss told me this afternoon;”See, you’re already making a difference!”

I still catch myself while I’m reading some of the neverending documents, style guides, books, and articles for my enculturation, staring at the logo, thinking, I can’t believe this is real. 

And when walking into the courtyard, lit by the sunrise, I actually work here.

Even when leaving those same doors, with the hum of traffic in the distance, I get to come back and do this again tomorrow. And next week. And the week after that. 

I’m amazed. And humbled. Encouraged. And blessed. 

Thank you, for your kind words of hope and encouragement over the last two years while I wrestled with God over my future. I finally feel right where I’m supposed to be. 

Although really, I was where I was supposed to be all along. Moving across the country to Arizona. Going to this church, which led to an important connection to this job. Waiting. Trying and failing at other things. Waiting longer. All that waiting has led to this. God’s hand was in all of it.

It was so worth it.

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FAITH: The Waiting Game

I dropped my purse and keys on my desk, kicked off my black flats, and settled onto the couch. I sighed happily and smiled. Something good is coming! By this fall, I’ll have at least a part-time job, if not TWO part-time jobs!

That was July. This is September. 

After starting out so full of promise, the story of my summer 2013 became one long waiting game.

In the spring, I applied for variety of jobs, and mailed a pitch for an article and a corresponding item to a craft magazine. I received rejections for most of my job applications, and eventually I gave up on the rest of them.

In June, I applied for and landed a summer internship position that, although unpaid for the summer, could turn into a part-time job. At the same time, a law firm contacted me about a part-time administrative assistant position I’d applied for months ago. I interviewed over the phone, then in person, and then I made it to the final round – interviewing with 11 people for a full 8 hour day. Intense, exhausting, and yet, tired as I was, I felt almost positive that this was going to work out. 

Finally, I’d not only have a job, but a job that would give me the opportunity to make a difference in the world, plus allow me to pursue my other passions on the side.
 And, combined with a the part-time job in social media from my internship, I could actually make a full-time income. 

Then it all fell apart. Due to some restructuring, they eliminated the position and wouldn’t be able to hire anyone for the job. But they contacted me August 1st because they had a full-time opportunity available. I spent that weekend with the youth group trip to California, and the roller coasters we rode at Knott’s Berry Farm couldn’t compare to the emotional roller coaster I was riding.

So on August 14th, I interviewed for the fourth time. The last time I heard from them was Labor Day weekend. Right around this time, it turned out that the business I was interning with couldn’t afford to hire me part-time in the fall. On Monday, my internship ended. And now, I’m just waiting. 

The warm, promising glow of summer has given way to gray clouds of disappointment and cold, cold rain.

At first, it looks like all a waste. What was the point? All those interviews, all that work, and I’m right where I started. 

Last week, I came across an old favorite passage of mine. I hadn’t read the whole passage since 2009, but one verse was set as my desktop background, a friend shared it during small group, and I read it again the next day in a Bible study book. I knew it wasn’t coincidence. Lamentations 3:19-33:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.

Although at times, it still seems like this summer was a waste, I know that God doesn’t willingly bring me affliction.
This waiting period is shaping and molding me. A few good things that have come out of this job process include:

  • I’m better at interviews! Not only have I had a lot of them over the summer, I’ve had a lunch interview and a panel interview for the first time
  • I’m confident that I can present myself professionally, and be a serious candidate at a company with very high standards
  • I had to overcome my fear of driving on the interstate, three times
  • I grew my design portfolio and experience by designing a website, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, and YouTube channel.
  • I learned more about social media scheduling, and how to increase interaction
  • I learned to deal with disappointments, even though I didn’t always handle them well at the time
  • Through all of it, I’ve developed more patience and perseverance
And remember that back in the spring, I sent an article to a craft magazine? I got to preview the spread yesterday! They accepted it, and I’m going to be PUBLISHED! I’ll share more details with you as it gets closer, but suffice it to say that “excited” is an understatement!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m doing during this waiting time. How am I using this time while I’m not working? How can I make the most of the time I have? 
Have you ever experienced a time period of waiting? Did you you make the most of it, or looking back now, what would you do differently? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!

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When I Don’t Feel Like Being Spiritual

My phone rang, and I knew it had to be my advisor. I’d emailed her twice, explaining that I was applying for residency at Arizona State University for the fall ’11 semester, and asking if there was anything else I could do to change from being an online ASU student to an on campus student.

I survived the last school year, but barely. When we moved to Arizona a year ago, I transferred to Arizona State University’s online program. It had it’s perks: we didn’t have to buy a second car right away, or pay out of state tuition, and I could do school in my pj’s, if I wanted. But after a semester, I felt like I couldn’t take any more. After being actively involved in campus ministry and campus life for two years, I felt almost completely isolated and cut off. It didn’t help that some of my teachers felt the need to burden us with heaps of busy-work, and some had no idea what they were teaching. Last semester, my classes had me in tears…every day. 

I resigned myself to another semester of online classes, with hopes of going on campus for my final semester of college. So when I found out that the deadline for applying for residency for the fall semester wasn’t until August 24th, I was over the moon with excitement that maybe, just maybe, I could go on campus for my entire senior year.

Hence, the frenzy of emailing advisors and pouring over stacks of residency paperwork. Then, my advisor called.

“I can switch you over to on campus right now, if you want!” She said. “But your tuition will look pretty ugly until your residency application is approved.”

“Well, can we see if the classes I need are open on-campus first?” I asked. She looked up my class numbers, and there just happened to be a handful of seats left open in every class!

“You’ll need to drop all of the online classes you’re registered for right now, and after I switch you to on-campus, we can register you for the on-campus classes….oh…that’s interesting,” her tone changed. “It seems that even the on-campus students are taking their classes online this semester. All those classes are being offered as what we call icourses…so that means you wouldn’t actually be on campus, even as an on-campus student.” 

All my built up hopes came tumbling down. The only reason to switch from being an online student to an on-campus student would be the lower price of in-state tuition versus paying per credit. But, we’d have to pay the out of state tuition price until our application was approved, if it was approved. It wasn’t worth that gamble when I’d still be taking classes at home. 

I had a good cry, but consoled myself with “well, there’s still next semester. At least there’s a chance that they’ll offer my classes on-campus next semester.” Then Brian got home.

As I folded clothes, he flopped on the bed. “Whatcha been doing babe?” I asked.

“Trying unsuccessfully to get your residency,” he said. “Unsuccessfully, because you’re not going to go on-campus next semester either.” 

I continued putting away the clothes in silence as he explained. Apparently, the paperwork that Brian’s parents have to fill out (yes, they have to fill out paperwork, that’s how crazy trying to get residency is!) stated that the information they provide needs to prove that Brian has been financially independent in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Well, Brian wasn’t financially independent until we got married in 2010. “So, for you to be approved as an Arizona resident, you have to be married to an Arizona resident, and one who has been financially independent for at least two years. There’s no way you’ll get approved.

I left the room for awhile. I didn’t feel like being spiritual about this. I felt like being angry. 

Angry at Brian for not understanding how important this was to me.
Angry at ASU for making it so difficult to classify as a resident.
And as it came out later, when Brian and I finally talked about it, angry at God.

Why did God make Brian get a job in Arizona? Why did He give Brian a job where he’s miserable 99% of the time? Why couldn’t He have given him the design engineering job that was close to Ames? I could have finished my last two years of college at Iowa State University. Why did He make us move far from our families and friends?  I thought I’d worked through all this and resolved to trust God about it a long time ago. I was wrong.

I know none of this was by accident. God could have given Brian that job in Iowa, I could have continued at Iowa State, we could have had a group of over half a dozen young married couples to spend time with.

Brian said “God has a plan,” and “He’s not concerned about our happiness, but our holiness,” which is all well and good, but when you’re feeling the pangs of disappointment and visualizing what life could have been like if God had had a different plan, pat answers fall flat.

I didn’t feel like being spiritual.

I was angry all Friday evening and Saturday morning. Then God had enough.

I was rehashing again how miserable I felt and how much I dreaded school starting, and a familiar song began to play on the radio. It was familiar, because I sang it for special music at church a few months ago.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if each promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win, we know
That pain reminds this hearts,
That this is not, this is not our home…..
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

The truth flooded my heart and mind.

  • The truth is, I don’t know that staying in Iowa would have been as wonderful as I imagine it to be. Living in Iowa and attending ISU would have had trials too.
  • The truth is, I would never have met some of the wonderful friends and mentors I have now if we hadn’t moved to Arizona.
  • The truth is, I might have never started blogging seriously if we hadn’t moved to Arizona, and I would have met all of you.
  • The truth is, if God hadn’t brought us to Arizona, we wouldn’t be leading or being blessed and challenged by the youth group.
  • The truth is, sometimes my greatest disappointments are blessings in disguise.

I’m still disappointed that I will miss out on half of my college experience. But, I know that I’m not missing out on the blessings God has planned for me this year, as I continue online.

It’s still hard to accept that God wants Brian to have this job. It’s still hard to be without friends our age and stage in life. But we have experienced God’s blessings.

534. Going to school online may mean that I can spend more time writing and blogging than I would otherwise.

535. Going to school online gives me the flexibility with my schedule to allow for working at my church one day a week.

536. Going to school online last year taught me a lot about writing, design, websites, and communication.

537. Going to school online gives me the opportunity to practice perseverance, patience, and endurance.

538. Going to school online reminds me that God has a plan, and is working everything out for my eventual good.

539. Living in Arizona has forced us to make friends by reaching out to other people instead of waiting to be reached out to.

540. Living in Arizona has made us appreciate the friendships we do have more.

541. Living in Arizona has helped us learn to deal with rejection.

542. Living in Arizona has given us the opportunity to make some wonderful relationships with couples who are more experienced in life.

543. Living in Arizona has provided us with opportunities to grow and stretch our faith.

544. Living in Arizona is where God wants us to be.

545. So many kind comments on my last post and prayers for me and this college situation. I appreciated it so much. I’m so grateful for you!

How Encouragement Overcomes Insecurity

“I believe in you.”

Those words have power. 
Why? Because if we were all honest, we’d admit that we feel insecure about ourselves sometimes. We wish our hair was straighter or curlier, that our nose was smaller, or our bosoms bigger. We wish we were more extroverted, or that we stopped to think before speaking. We wish that we had more drive, or we wish we could slow down and relax once in awhile. We wish we were more talented, or that we just had someone else’s talents.

But knowing someone believes we are enough just as we are, or that we can accomplish our goal, is profoundly reassuring.

i believe in you  .explore
Photo by SarahWynne on Flikr

Recently, I was trying to remember why I’m not pursuing a degree in teaching. English and art were my twin passions, so in high school I planned to pass on my joy of writing and creating to others. Then I got scared, and I decided that I couldn’t speak in front of people and I wouldn’t be able to handle class discipline. So, I decided I’d major in journalism and minor in art. That way, I could still write, and art would be a side thing. But I didn’t major in journalism. I didn’t think I had the go-getter-type-A personality a journalist needed. A teacher encouraged me to re-consider teaching. So I did, thinking maybe I could handle a private school, where I was more likely to be able to teach both English and art. So I entered college with a major in … English literature. I couldn’t commit. I was afraid. 

After two years, I’m majoring in technical communication now. It’s basically writing and design for businesses, magazines, web, advertising, legal stuff, editing and publishing jobs, manuals, etc. I like this major because there are a lot of options. I dislike this major because…well, there are a lot of options! I just finished my junior year of college; it’s time to think about internships and resumes and finding jobs, and I still don’t know what I want to do. I’m afraid to commit to what I want to do, because I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes
I’m insecure. And its frustrating, because I wonder what might have been. If I got an English teaching degree, could I have taught English summer classes in China, or had English conversation lessons with the immigrants here in Arizona? If I had pursued journalism, could I have captured the plight of Haitians in the wreckage of the earthquake, or brought attention to the fate of trafficked women and children? Sometimes, I feel like a failure for being afraid of failure. 
In the midst of my self-deprecating pondering, I’ve been getting emails from Brian while he’s at work. He forwarded an article about blogging to me, along with a note: “You should post some of your old poems and stuff on your blog. You may need to see about copyright stuff though ’cause I think a lot of your stuff could be published if the right person reads it.” He’s brought up a lot of things I haven’t thought about much, like buying an URL, branding, and getting published. 
Then Monday after he got home from work, he brought one of his Inc. magazines over to my desk where I was working on schoolwork. 
“Look at the name of the editor of this magazine, and tell me whether it’s a guy or a girl.”
I was a little confused, thinking it was a trick question. “Jane Berenston…I’m going to go with the obvious answer here, and say woman.” 
“Yep. You know, Inc. is a very popular business magazine. Tons of people read it.” He took magazine back and stood, just looking down at me.

“Ok,” I said, confused. “So…what’s your point?”
“Never sell yourself short.”
Just the knowledge that Brian believes in me, even when I don’t, is enough to make me want to be the best writer or blogger or entrepreneur or magazine editor ever. It’s powerful. I’ll never forget it.
It’s not just Brian. It’s my English teachers who took the time to give me good feedback on my work, it’s the music teacher who told me, “Emily, for you, the sky’s the limit!” It’s the art teacher who encouraged me to bring projects I made at home to school to show her, even if it was a book of pictures made out of paper towels! It’s my in-laws, who encouraged me to make my own wedding invitations and programs, and put up with my meltdowns and hours of troubleshooting the printer. It’s an email or facebook message from my dad. It’s the thrill of raising awareness for Haiti by designing posters and handouts for a fundraiser. 
It’s the still, small voice that says, “I made you, just the way you are. And I delight in you.”

Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”

Psalm 147:11 “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” 

Just stop and think about that for a minute. Is your fear or insecurity holding you back? 

I don’t know yet what I will do after college. I do know that God has given me skills and passions, and I’m not going to let fear hold me back from discovering His plan for me.

Who do you know believes in you? What impact does that have on you? Pass it on today and let someone else know that you believe in them.

P.S. This month we are sharing our stories about the way encouragement has made a difference in our lives. Would you share your story with us?