ReLent: Fighting

I waited for the service to start sitting at the end of my row, while people bustled around me, greeting each other, reserving their spot with their Bibles while they went to get donuts and coffee. 

I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I knew I couldn’t even muster a Sunday morning smile and “fine,” today. 

I closed my eyes and tried to clear my head of all the boiling emotions. Church was starting soon.

Why am I angry? 

The thought caught me off guard. I wasn’t angry… just frustrated. Bitter maybe. Ok, definitely a little angry. Fine. Pretty furious, if I was honest.

But why? 

I felt abandoned, because God had taken some people out of my life that I really wasn’t ok with letting go. 

I was overwhelmed and feeling way over my head at work. 

And I felt lost. So many things God was doing just didn’t make sense. 

I funneled all my anger into one question. I wanted to scream: 

God, where are you?

But I just sat there, in my pew. And fought. 

Why is this happening to me? Why have you allowed these things to happen to people I love? I just don’t understand what you’re doing. WHERE ARE YOU? 

I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like I’d really heard from God. Or the last time I knew I’d seen God at work. Or the last time I felt like He was actually working in me, and using me. 

Church would start soon. I had to cram my thoughts into the back of mind to deal with later. To distract myself, I pulled out my phone and started scrolling through emails. I opened my daily Lent devotional from SheReadsTruth, and read: 

And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

– Jonah 4:4

I stared at the screen, and let it sink in. 

Do you do well to be angry?

It hurt to say it, but I knew the answer. 


Of course no. Like Jonah, I’d witnessed God’s mercy. I deserved nothing, and received so much. 

Besides, what good did my anger do? What did it accomplish? It didn’t keep me from feeling alone, overwhelmed, and lost. It put a barrier between me and the only One who could help. 

I don’t remember the sermon. But I left feeling more hopeful than I had in a long time. I knew the timing of the email wasn’t an accident. 

On Monday, before I started on the daunting tasks for the day, I read: 

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

– Joshua 1:7-9  

Then the next day, a friend shared stories from their life with me that reminded me of two things:

  • I’m not alone.
  • And as trite as it sounds, God really does have a bigger picture at work.

When I took my seat the next Sunday, while none of the situations in my life had changed, everything else had. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t afraid. And I knew where God was. 

Of course, He’d never left.

Relent Part 1: Failing. ReLent = Starting Lent over, and the idea of giving up, which seems to be what these 40 days have been all about.

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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Exceedingly Abundantly

I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. An engineering job in the area of the valley we want to move to, a medium-sized, established, growing company,  doing design engineering as well as hands on work in the shop. Plus, such a variety of projects as to ensure boredom was impossible. It sounded tailor made for Brian.

The call to set up an interview time with this company came the morning after my sleepless night of wrestling with God. I didn’t know what to think. It seemed too good to be true, too perfectly timed to be possible.

After the second interview, with a third scheduled for the following Monday, I allowed myself to hope that this job was the one.

On Monday, when Brian called me 15 minutes after the interview was scheduled, my hand shook as I picked up the phone. “They offered me the job!” Brian announced. And I cried with relief and happiness.

The three months and three weeks of unemployment are over! Even after a week, I can still hardly believe it. Brian starts Monday!

Thank you, thank you, all of you who prayed for us! God answers prayer beyond our expectations!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Please Pray

On Friday, my sister called to tell me my aunt was diagnosed with brain cancer. Aunt Joy has four children, ages 15 and under. This isn’t the first time tragedy has touched their family; one of my cousins was born with a heart defect and died only a few days after he was born. My uncle Rod was in a severe car accident. But through all of that, they still praised God. This trial is no different.

Yesterday, she was scheduled to have a biopsy. Before we heard anything about that, Brian and I got a text from my father-in-law. He had taken my mother-in-law to the ER at 2:30 am. She was having extreme pain in her abdomen and could barely move her legs. After a CAT scan and x-rays, they couldn’t find anything. They sent her to Des Moines for an MRI and meeting with a neurologist.

My FIL didn’t respond to Brian’s or my phone calls or texts, but in the early afternoon, I got a phone call from my dad. He said that the biopsy determined that the tumor was not cancer, after all. However, it was a very aggressive type of tumor, that had tentacles reaching into the back of her brain. It was already being to reproduce. The doctors said that she would need radiation for the rest of her life….which might not be very long. They said that the best case scenario is five years, the worst, one and a half.

My dad was very calm. He is a chaplain in the national guard, and he has been the bearer of bad news many, many times. “A year will give us a few more holidays where we can all be together,” he said, and his voice caught a little.

My Aunt Joy

I called Brian and told him the news between sobs. “I’m coming home. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

We sat on the couch with our arms around each other for awhile. Part of me wondered, why Aunt Joy? Of all the people in the world, why someone so compassionate, so loving, so focused on serving God and reaching the lost? Why a family that has already suffered so much?

Brian said, “Because He knows they can handle it.” And he’s right. While many people would throw up their hands, curse God and die, God knows that this family will respond like Job:

20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

And even though Aunt Joy is young, she has touched so many lives. She hasn’t wasted her life or lived selfishly. Even if she is not with us for many more years, she will have accomplished more for God’s glory than many people who live to be eighty.

On the caring bridge page for my aunt, my uncle Rod said this:

“God can still do a miracle in and through Joy, and we will pray that way. We will also pray for HIS will for our family. We know that God is good. He is always good. We know that He is mighty, and we just know that He is going to do mighty things through this. We want to be very, very clear…we are giving God ALL of the glory and honor…we are still praising Him…we are still loving Him. What we want more than anything is to be used to bring HIM glory.”

It wasn’t until late afternoon that we got an update on Brian’s mom. She was going to spend the night at the hospital and have an MRI in the morning. My FIL was discouraged; her case had baffled four doctors already.

Us with Brian’s parents

Our senior pastor invited us over to his house last night, and shared some scripture and encouragement with us. He reminded us that God protects His children, and that no matter what the doctors say, nothing can harm them until God is finished using them on earth. They are held in His hands, sheltered under His wings. We read Psalms 91:

14″Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;   I will protect him, because he knows my name.15When he calls to me, I will answer him;   I will be with him in trouble;   I will rescue him and honor him.16With long life I will satisfy him   and show him my salvation.”

Today I still have tears, but I also have peace.

Our senior pastor gets free plane tickets from a pilot who goes to our church. He gave us a free plane ticket that he wasn’t going to use, since it expires in October, and called the pilot. “Captain Mike” was able to get us another free ticket, so that Brian and I can fly standby home to Iowa on Thursday.

Would you pray with us? Please pray for…

  • My cousins, Lydia, James, Ellie, and Anna, and my uncle, Rod. 
  • My dad and uncle Duke, Aunt Joy’s siblings.
  • My Nana and Papa, my grandparents. 
  • All of my extended family
  • Safe travel for Brian and me
  • That we will be a blessing to our family
  • Healing for Aunt Joy, if it is God’s will
  • Healing for my MIL, if it’s God’s will
  • Peace for both of them
  • Wisdom for the doctors
Could you say a prayer for them in the comments here? It would be such a blessing to me. Click on “links to this post” to leave a comment. 

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!