Friday, December 10, 2010

Dream the Impossible Dream

The ad hoc Grade Appeal Committee rendered their decision and issued their report today. For several reasons, some I had not even mentioned directly in my appeal, the committee unanimously voted to change my grade for the course to the "B" I felt I deserved all along. They agreed the APA grading policy was punitive and even pointed out that the course syllabus itself had quite a few errors and pondered if those would also be considered "significant" and worth deducting if situations had been reversed. If not, they indicated there is some level of hypocrisy with that system of accountability. That's pretty much my favorite paragraph of the two page written opinion (other than the last sentence in the first paragraph that reinstates my original course grade before the final paper was taken into account).
Okay, enough celebrating...well, mostly. :)
It is too late to apply for admission to take spring courses, but rest assured I will be on track for the February 1st deadline so I can officially begin my master's degree next summer. YAY! I was nervous about the appeal and what my colleagues would think if I pursued each stage of the process, but they have been nothing but supportive. Furthermore, this decision was made with a blind situation wherein my name was withheld and I had not discussed my situation except with a few select friends among my colleagues, so they were really able to look at the paper and course grading situation very objectively. I do worry if there will be any challenges in the admissions process itself where Professor X is one of the two-member admissions committee or if future courses with him will be tainted by this experience. (Keep in mind I did really well in the other course with Professor X--an "A" and really did have a "B" in this course before the final proposal got such a low score for APA citations--only 10 points were deducted for the other issues.)
Yes, I'm a worrier. Why worry about tomorrow when today has enough troubles of its own, right?!? In fact, when the department chair brought me the envelope with the decision, I was in the middle of processing my student teachers for check-out after they had completed licensure paperwork. As I was putting it in my pocket, I said, "I'll wait to read this later since you know how badly I want to pursue my own higher education and create additional career opportunities which tends to make me overly emotional." She said, "Oh, I think you'll want to read this then" and had a large smile on her face. I definitely did my little "happy dance" at the table in the hallway and thanked her for her support through the appeals process.
For now, I embrace the impossible dream that has been proven possible with persistence, the power of positive friends/family encouraging me to explore and exhaust all options, and can't wait for the next steps. I've also been without sodas for so long now and still not had a migraine (shocking...even with the sodas, I still average 2-3 a month) that I am also greatly encouraged to dream that impossible dream too---kicking another addiction and furthering my quest for personal freedom in health, fitness, and life.
If I were still drinking, I'd drink a toast to me tonight - and one for my biggest fans too!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hurry Up...and Wait!

People spend much of their time rushing through life or waiting for life to happen. The holiday hustle and bustle is more of the same with people hurrying around and then waiting in ridiculously long lines. For me right now, the hurry up and wait is a little different though. I realized I never updated my "followers" (aka super supportive family and friends who follow these random blog posts of mine) on the education situation and wanted to rectify that inadequate reporting. I also wanted to share another hurry up and wait situation that I am facing right now.

First, the education situation. I did appeal the grade to the department chair. She supported my appeal but Professor X was unwilling to acknowledge his grading of the APA mistake(s--since he claims them as multiple and I dispute them as one mistake multiple times) or compromise on the overall evaluation of the paper. Since the department chair does not have authority to change another professor's grades, that option was exhausted. The final step was to appeal to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, who would form a committee to investigate and issue a final ruling/grade. I decided I owed it to myself for the hard work it took to earn the "B" and submit the paper that was not deserving a basically failing grade (D-) which reduced by "B" to a "C-" for the course. Therefore, I filed the appeal for the final step in the process. They are deliberating now and will issue their written decision by this Friday (last day of classes). I am cautiously optimistic, but will certainly comment on the final outcome since my future education and career are at stake.

Now, for the other matter that is definitely going to be "hurry up...and wait." I have been having problems with my right eyetooth (tooth 7 for you dental geeks) for at least a year. Problems would be defined as an ache that would come and go and a visible black fleck at the far left corner which I knew meant decay of some type. I ignored it because I have SEVERE dental anxiety and figured as long as it wasn't loose or crumbling apart, I had time to work up the courage and address the issue. (NOTE - that is NOT smart dental hygiene!) On Thanksgiving Saturday when my family was feasting, a sliver of the right side fell off while I was sampling some shrimp cocktail and the pain has been escalating ever since.

Last week, the pain was so bad I was forcing myself to take pills. Now you KNOW that means I was in pain because everybody knows I can't swallow pills and I really hate the inconvenience of crushing them up in applesauce to "enjoy" with the Ibuprofen or Aleve. Since they weren't really touching the pain, I took more than the recommended daily doses to the point I had left sided abdominal pain and thought, "Oh great, my liver and kidneys are shutting down from years of soda drinking and a few days of overdosing on OTC painkillers." (Did I mention I have not had a soda in over two weeks? It reminded me of a new car purchase...the minute/week it is paid off, the problems begin with maintenance and repair. LOL) It further scared me to realize urine output was no longer clear but rust-colored. (I apologize if that's TMI for you--I'm an EMT and lost some sensitivity to "gross" things of that sort.)

I called the dentist and scheduled an appointment for the earliest opportunity--which required several additional days of waiting. I was seen yesterday for my consultation and things are worse than I had feared. The root of my tooth is dead and there's not much of the tooth remaining post-Thanksgiving-break-off for them to attempt a root canal with crown procedure. My options were extraction of tooth #7 and a very self-conscious smile (gap) or extraction of the eyetooth and a very time consuming process ending eventually in an implant and a picture-perfect smile. *groan* I'm self conscious enough as it is...I don't need a permanent hole in my dental alignment to complicate things.

Soooooo, I chose option two. The road to an implant is definitely going to be ripe with "hurry up...and wait" moments since so much of the pacing is dependent on my own body's ability to heal and do what is required for a successful dental implant. The process began with an impression (can we say gag reflex?!) so I can be fitted for a partial periodontic aka "flipper." The next step is an intense antibiotic that the pharmacy only had available in liquid form and tastes like metallic trash. Let's just say I'd almost prefer a jar of applesauce laced with horse pills. The antibiotic is necessary because there is so much infection along the gum line where my body was attacking the dying root, which explains all the swelling and pressure along my right cheek/face that I thought was sinus pressure with the extreme climate change (70s one day to 40s just a few days later). Next Thursday afternoon comes the extraction and implant consultation with the oral surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth earlier this year.

As I understand the process, I will wear the flipper in my mouth to camoflauge the gap that will be created when Dr. Wallace removes my tooth. I cannot eat or sleep with the partial flipper contraption in my mouth though, so insert self conscious behavior here...and here....and there....and pretty much anywhere in public if food is involved. Suddenly, I am so glad I am single and sleep alone! LOL The flipper will be my "friend" while the bone grows. This could occur quickly or slowly. Nothing can happen until the bone is in place along the gum line and strong enough to support an implant as confirmed by bone density testing and x-rays. (This took twelve months for someone who shares the gene pool with me, so I'm pretty much planning to become a house hermit when it comes to mealtime for the next year. Once the bone is prepared, they will screw in the implant with cap, and wait for my mouth/gum/teeth to heal and support the new house-guest. If there are no complications and once healing has been completed, they will apply a crown to the implant and make it a permanent addition to my family of teeth...except that by permanent the oral surgeon means 10-15 years.

This adventure will cost me $4-5,000 out of pocket ($500 for the flipper that gets thrown away once the implant is secure), lots of tears, anxiety, testing of my patience, new levels of being self conscious around others, and oh so much more. Here's the life lesson - even if your blood pressure tends to be 176/112 the minute you walk through the dentist's door when it was 132/80 at your house just ten minutes prior, do not ignore basic symptoms of something being wrong with your teeth. The good news is all of my others were inspected yesterday and are in great shape - no cavities, no decay. I guess in the big picture, one out of twenty-plus teeth isn't that bad, but for me, it's a crushing blow.

This is a sneaky way to lose weight though. No eating out for at least a year or in extremely rare instances. Eating lots of applesauce. Continue this newfound regimen of sufficient water intake daily. Sodas rot your teeth and kill your internal organs just like my Mama Jo said they would when she said that she was not going to donate one of her kidneys to me and that I'd better budget for dentures in my "old age." Apparently, the money I'm saving on sodas is going to spent on fixing the situation with this one little eyetooth.

Hurry up and wait indeed!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Thin Within

So there are days I look at pictures from yester-year and wonder where that skinny little miss went and if I'll ever see her again. Then I look at myself in the mirror while running on the elliptical (yes, I purposefully placed it in front of my bedroom's full length mirror for inspiration to keep going when all I want to do is stop) and think, "yep, she's in there somewhere!" I visualize the thin within!

I have been struggling with my weight since college. Apparently, the pressure of being around brilliant, wealthy, and beautiful people caused me to doubt myself and my ability to "fit in" at a perfectly average size. I stopped eating but when people started to think that was "odd" I would eat and then race to the bathroom to purge (aka vomit with sheer willpower alone, no finger down the throat necessary). Needless to say, friends tried to intervene and so I started eating again with fewer vomiting episodes. My nutritionist said I wasn't eating enough and my body thought it was starving which is why the weight increased instead of decreased during this time. My doctor said that my metabolism was set back decades and would take "awhile" to restore to normal...I'm pretty much still waiting for that return mind you. I have put off testing to see if there are thryoid issues now at play, but maybe I'll get that bloodwork done over the holiday break.

I've been making progress with my portion control, workouts, and increased water intake. In fact, it's been an entire week of no sodas whatsoever!!! Better yet--no migraines! All I have had this week is water (6-8 bottles every day), one gatorade over the course of two days, and a couple glasses of sweet tea last night at dinner. I couldn't eat due to pain from an eyetooth issue, and since my blood glucose was in the 40s I splurged on the liquid sugar intake. The scale is showing movement and I'm feeling healthier too.

I'm picturing the thin within and very much appreciate the advice and encouragement I've received thus far from my family and friends. I'm following the plan which has its consequences and rewards and hope your involvement will continue to provide the accountability I need to succeed.

Love and prayers,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail - and we all know I can't stand failure!!!

So part of my quest for freedom is physical--shed the unwanted pounds, improve my physical health and fitness overall, and succumb to slight vanity if my body cooperates with my mind. :)

As much as I plan though, I never really took the time to document what it is I want and how I plan to get there. Here's the rough outline (below) and more details will be hashed out based on who signs on to be my accountability partners. If I know you're expecting updates, I'll be more likely to follow through so I won't let you down (even though it's really myself that I'm failing if I don't do what I need to do). I welcome friendly suggestions on the plan and this part of my journey to freedom.

1. Lose 100 pounds by December 2012
2. Increase physical activity to improve overall health/fitness (walk/run another 5K in spring 2011, run a 5K in fall 2011, run/walk a 10K in spring 2012, run a 10K in fall 2012)
3. Drink sufficient amounts of water on a daily basis (8 bottles, starting with 2--this is gonna be a struggle)
4. Decrease quantity and eventually quit drinking soft drinks (subject to migraine control)

Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays (or 3 days working around other scheduled obligations if necessary)--1 hour of running/walking on elliptical or Main Street
Tuesdays & Saturdays (or 2 days each week)--1 hour of Zumba
Thursdays & Sundays--30 minutes of physical activity

Drink enough water (start with 2 bottles each day and increase by 1 bottle daily each month)
Continue monitoring portion sizes at all meals/snacks
Prepare for healthy snacks in mid-afternoon, late evening
Limit dining out at a Mexican restaurant to once per week and make smart choices
Go to bed at a reasonable hour so sleep might actually result (11 p.m.=target time, since 2 a.m. is current reality)

Measurements and Weight Check on 1st and 16th of each month
Implement consequences and rewards accordingly

No Facebook or internet if physical activity standards are not met (whole evening for each day I didn't exercise)
No TV if I made poor food choices (30 minutes lost for every infraction)
No Mexican food if water intake is not increased gradually over time

$1 for every workout (which will pay for/justify a pedicure every month)
Shopping spree (clothes, shoes, and/or accessories) for every 25 pounds lost

Again, your input will be appreciated. Your willingness to help me measure up (or down, in this instance) will also be appreciated.

Love and prayers,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Setting Standards or Restricting Reality?!

First of all, let me say this BLOG, BLOG, BLOG. Apparently, the last post wasn't nearly as dramatic as some of mine have been so my mother and youngest sister said it read more like "blah, blah, blah" except since it's a blog, they were being funny and saying "blog, blog, blog." Don't worry -- I'm not offended. It's good that not all of my posts are gut wrenching, tear-inducing, laughter-crazed musings. Variety is the spice of life and keeps things interesting (and hopefully, friends and family reading the latest situations and thoughts about my life).

Now then....back to reality! :)

I'm pretty sure we all know about setting standards. There are standards of learning in classrooms all across America, standards for health and occupational safety, standards for professionals in every field, etc., etc. We may not always know who is setting the standards, but we are usually pretty informed about what they are and how we should measure up to be successful in meeting those identified standards. I'm well aware that individuals set personal standards as well--live a certain way, act appropriately in accordance with pre-determined ideals, interact with others based on established criteria.

I have standards for myself, but have never really laid out standards for others that I may encounter in personal relationships. My mom was asking me at dinner tonight if I had ever made a list of what I'd want in a guy that I was dating....and the answer was no, not really. I mean, I have a sense of what kind of guys I like, but that's about it. So she then asked me to think of some characteristics that would be "deal breakers" in moving forward, using the knowledge from my past relationships to set (higher) standards. Of course, then Devinne said this was definitely going to become fodder for blog posts and I laughed and said "but of course."

After some interesting input from the two of them and some brainstorming by myself with explanations, I was able to develop a list of core standards for any future guy to be considered as a possible "Mr. Right." My intent is to know what I don't want so that I can avoid the pitfalls of familiar traps in ignoring deal breakers until too much time has elapsed and I'm already emotionally vested in the relationship. That being said, I'm going to document this list and keep it in my Bible for prayer. Yes, I'm that kind of girl who prays for my future husband who is at present, uncertain and perhaps even unknown. I don't want to restrict reality or put God in a box by saying the guy must meet all checklist requirements for romantic consideration. At the same time, there are standards that will help keep me from twisting reality to maintain the romance.

Lots of details can be included in each of the overarching ideas (standards) for Mister Right, but here are the basics:
1. Christian - must share my faith in God as the ruler of heaven and earth, worship Him in spirit and in truth, acknowledge Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, and be capable of serving as spiritual head of the household (yes, you can be the boss of me if God is the boss of you!)
2. Sense of Humor - must be capable of laughing at self and others in the situations that need such humorous doses of medicine for the soul, appreciate corny jokes and a laugh that almost always includes snorting (mine), entertain with a smile that melts my heart, sees the bright side of life even in the stormy trials and tribulations
3. Common Heritage - must be caucasian, able to appreciate or share European ethnicity from generations past, enjoy traditions that are comparable to my own, fellowship over international cuisine, and have more in common than not when it comes to race, ethnicity, customs, etc.
4. Work Ethic - must possess a strong work ethic, be willing to invest the time and energy necessary to accomplish the tasks required, make ends meet or not expect to sponge off of my finances, pull their own weight in household responsibilities (financial stability, practical chores), never show signs of apathy or laziness (different from enjoying a reprieve or vacation), have a sense of personal fulfillment from whatever professional endeavors are his chosen passion (enjoy going to work)
5. Family focused - must be respectful of me (demonstrated by his respect of other women in his life), embrace the idea of marriage and those vary sacred wedding vows, have or want children, appreciate the "fur babies" in my life and welcome pets (dogs definitely, cats optional, horses negotiable) as an extended part of the family, enjoy spending time with the family (immediate and extended), never belittle or demean me as the female in the family unit (which actually goes back to the respect thing)

Sooooooo, there you have it. The 5 non-negotiable standards I have set for the Mister Right who is even now being prepared by God just for me. I'm pretty sure each of these standards aligns with God's intentions for Christian marriage--husbands, fathers, partners in this thing called human life. Hopefully, I haven't restricted His reality for my future in creating a list of ideals. I won't be posting a classified ad based on these (and neither should Brianna who did sign me up for E-Harmony four or five years ago), but I will pray about them and keep them in mind when guys come my way, looking to make a romantic connection.

Love and prayers,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shoot for the Moon or Reach for the Stars

Do you ever wonder if you're on track in the life you're living? Is this what you're supposed to like, where you're supposed to be living, what you're supposed to be doing, when you're supposed to "dream big" or "be realistic," why your reality is the way it is, and how you're supposed to make changes? I'm sure it's natural to question (notice I covered WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW because I'm "good like that"...LOL) without the questions being a crisis in faith necessarily.

When I was teaching high school history (which sometimes feels like forever ago, and other times feels like just yesterday), one of the motivational posters I had displayed in my classroom said, "Shoot for the moon...even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." I was just outside with my fur babies (aka Logan and Lexie, the dogs that have adopted me) and noticed the chill in the air, the smell of burning leaves (which is intoxicating among other favorite scents) and the stars with crescent moon in the night sky. The thought occurred to me that I don't really remember or understand all the science about the moon or stars, but I can appreciate them for being there just the same. It's like a glimmer of light providing a glimmer of hope that there really is a universe beyond my comprehension with a God that rules and understands it all.

Then I started the mental playback of some recent conversations I had. Each of the individuals was encouraging me to "reach for the stars" or "shoot for the moon" and not to sell myself short with who I can be, where I can go, what I can do, why I generally thrive even in less than ideal circumstances, how I can succeed with future plans, and when the "master plan" will come to pass. Of course, I'm also thinking about the MASTER's plan too. How do you know when it's right and when you're just out of God's will? Does putting yourself out there with your plans mean you're shooting for the moon, reaching for the stars or falling out of orbit?

Pretty much everybody knows my life verse is Jeremiah 29:11-13, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not harm for you, plans to bring about good for your future." That doesn't mean I don't plan because, well, quite frankly, I'm good at planning. I've planned my education and career, as well as planned corporate and family/friend events, parties, weddings (even my own--which may have been a waste of time, but it was fun to think about details anyways), etc. I'm not where I thought I would be at age 32 (yes, I admitted it, so I hope you were sitting down when you read this blog entry Brianna and Mama Jo) when I was planning my future back in the days of high school and college. I'm not who I thought I would be some instances, I'm a better person and in others I'm far removed from the woman I want(ed) to be. Life is not how I imagined's more real than ideal. How the romanticized optimism has remained over the years is questionable/laughable.

The biggest question is WHY DO I WANT WHAT I DON'T HAVE instead of living more in the moment?!?! I am alive. I have a family that loves me, even if they don't understand me. I have friends who brighten my world with who they are and how they support and challenge me. I have two dogs who think I'm awesome enough that they haven't run away even when they escaped the house before I had the leashes connected to their collars. I have a roommate who is responsible enough to be on time with his share of the rent and utilities. I have an amazing career where I can make a difference, grow as a professional and person, interact with stellar educational leaders and work alongside very talented faculty/staff. I have a rewarding opportunity to serve my community thanks to my commitment to Victoria Fire & Rescue as a volunteer EMT-E. I have a family of faith that extends beyond brick and mortar of one particular church building and am blessed to worship and study God's Word at NCF or VUMC. I survived bulimia, two abusive relationships, and addiction to alcohol. I am stronger, braver, brighter, funnier, prettier, etc. than I give myself credit for ever. Why do I focus on the one thing missing in this picture of my "perfect world"? I have plenty of love in all of the above. I need to accept what is with more of God's grace and trust in His plans and timing for that special someone and the higher education goals too. I need to stay grounded in (and grateful for) reality, but shoot for the moon so I can land among the stars. The future really is as bright as the promises of God!!

Love and prayers,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Through it all, one thing has remained constant in my life--laughter is the best medicine. This is really good in my case because I can't swallow pills (mental block) and crushing them up in applesauce has really ruined apples for me. love to laugh! I laugh at myself. I laugh at people when they fall (and then ask if they're okay). I laugh at people who are trying to make me laugh. I laugh at people who are so ridiculous they don't even know it and the comedians in the crowd who always prompt laughter. There's the giggle, polite laugh, guffaw, the full-blown intense laughter with cute snorting and tears and yes, even passing out from not being able to breathe because I'm laughing so hard. :)

I met my parents, grandparents and niece for lunch today. I was talking to Sophia about her official birthday yesterday and teasing her about counting rather than saying her age (you say ONE, she says TWO). I winked at her and she winked back...with her whole face. It was soooo stinkin' cute, I laughed out loud and of course, snorted. What was really funny is she started laughing too...and SNORTED! Then when she realized she had copied me, she did it again and was clearly very tickled with herself. I was laughing on the inside because as much as her parents have tried to keep me out of her life (putting restrictions in place like I'm not allowed to hold her for example), they will definitely know Auntie 'issa taught her to snort with laughter because I'm the only one who does in my family. (yep, I'm pretty much rolling with laughter right now too knowing my niece loves my laugh enough to copy it---kids know the good ones!)

I attended our business meeting for Victoria Fire & Rescue tonight and had a couple of laughs there too. Then, some of the usual "crew" went to dinner and couldn't stop laughing at each other. The conversations were random and loud and it's probably a good thing there were only a few other restaurant patrons or we've have been kicked out for disturbing the peace! There are some "crazy" VFR people but we don't want to prove it in public. LOL

So all in all, today was a great day, filled with moments to laugh. The laughter does my soul good. Insert Bible verse here about God loving the person with a cheerful heart (terrible paraphrase and I'm trying to finish this post and go to bed at a "normal" hour, so I'm not going to go in the other room and get my Bible out to look it up exactly). Now I just had to laugh at myself because I literally said "insert here" kind of like I told my sister to "scroll up" when we were at the store shopping. (Technology overload maybe.)


I can't think of a song, but I highly recommend the sound clip of the laughing baby. I guarantee it will make you laugh (or at least smile) even on a bad day. Enjoy life and love thanks to laughter. :)

Love and prayers (and LOTS of lady-like, snorting laughter),

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brenda's Bottles

So the song "Bottoms Up" keeps coming on the radio and I turn the volume up (like whoa loud) and sing 3/5 of the words on the edited version, but it's got a great beat. Then I'm thinking to myself, "hmmmm, should you really be singing a song about drinking when you have issues with Brenda's Bottles?" *Brenda = my alter ego in the book I'm writing about experiences that have not been easy but shaped me into the woman I am today*

Don't get me wrong--I love alcoholic beverages (except beer--gag!) and in moderation, there's nothing wrong with them whatsoever. The problem is that I struggle with using those bottles of rum, vodka, wine coolers, wine, etc. to cope with stress, feelings of sadness, sense of loneliness and so forth. My coping mechanism prevents moderation. I can honestly report that I've only had two alcoholic drinks this year (one Smirnoff wine cooler on New Year's Eve and one cosmopolitan when I went with Brianna and Karen for a late birthday brunch). It concerns me that I can count the bottles. It tempts me that I still have the ABC store purchases on the kitchen counter, ready for an excuse to drink and yet, not wanting to use the alcohol as my "crutch" any longer.

I know people find it hard to believe that I never drank until I was 21 - but it's true. In fact, I was 21 for a week before I had any alcohol and then, I pretty much had it all in one night thanks to my dear friends who had stocked the bar before dinner. (Thanks Joe & Tony!) Social drinking was expected in my career as a paralegal. Pretty much every day ended with at least a drink or two, and sometimes more if we were working late, celebrating a win, strategy planning with clients, or getting paralegals together to complain about our lawyers. Needless to say, I built up a tolerance and earned the nickname "Ali the Alcoholic." I also believed I was drinking just because I could and not because I had a compulsion to pick up a bottle.

With the events of 2008 and early 2009, alcohol became a central part of my daily existence. Friends were coming over--great, pull out the alcohol and celebrate. Boyfriend belittled you or beat you--pull out the alcohol and stifle the emotional pain. Returning to the legal profession's high stress routine after years of actually being happy in a public school classroom--buy more alcohol and drink the night away. Sister and boyfriend hooking up behind your back and eventually having a baby together--that's what the alcohol is there for to ignore what's really going on in the stormy times. Sadly, my last call for alcohol was in hearing the doctor say I had miscarried in part due to the stress of recent relationship ending and in part due to increased drinking behavior. After that, I didn't drink for a long time.....months actually. I felt guilty, depressed and ashamed that my "social drinking" was not helping me heal and was actually doing physical harm as well.

I have an addictive personality. I admit it. I'm all in or I'm not in. I drink in good times and bad, but it's in the bad times that I'm trying to prevent a relapse into alcoholic dependency. These are good times with bad ones just around the edges of my reality. The bottles sit untouched on the counter. I swear some of the weight I lost right away when I started running was actually because I had stopped drinking on a regular (almost daily) basis. That alone keeps me in check to save the calories for celebrations few and far between and not look to the bottles for emotional outlet.

I still can't get the song out of my head though. I really feel like cranking it up, dancing around my living room, and putting a blue raspberry martini in the shaker. But I won't...I'll save the martinis for later when I'm sure I'm a social drinker and not addicted to Brenda's Bottles. I might have to "throw my hands up" and dance some though. LOL

Love and prayers,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Loving you has meant forgiving them

So there's this special someone who has stolen my heart even though I wasn't sure it would be possible given all the background story aka drama, nightmare, pain, anger, hurt, loss, despair, etc. When they look at me, I can't help it though--my heart melts and I find myself wishing things were different. Your smile, your laugh, your efforts to wink back at me are just beyond precious and adorable. You don't know who I am really but it's not your fault. You hold a special place in my heart even though others would not want us to have any connection whatsoever. You, my dear, are a sweet, innocent child of God and my niece, Sophia Grace.

It's a miracle of God's grace that I can look at you and not feel the pain of betrayal as fresh as if it was yesterday's news. I know you'll be the reason my sister and I will one day have restoration of our sisterly bond and friendship. Despite what your parents say/want, you will grow up knowing I love you and want to spoil you rotten just like I would if you were my own. One day, you will get to decide if you want to have anything to do with me or not. The choice in who you love is yours, just as it has been mine. Sweet Sophia, loving you has meant forgiving them. I enjoy watching you grow up from a distance--through posts on Facebook, text messages from other family members, and the occasional family dinner where I get to talk to you even though your mommy won't let me be a real hands-on aunt.

I'm excited that you're about to have your very first birthday party and sad that I won't get to be there to watch you open your presents with your new favorite word "see" on repeat as you point and show off all the new things you're bound to get. I can't wait to see all the pictures of your smiling face covered in cake and hear the stories of how you celebrated God's goodness despite the badness that occurred. I'm not even sure that's a word - badness, but it fits. You are a delight to me even if I can't really love on you like I want to little miss frog princess. Air kisses just aren't the same as stealing your sugar and playing peek-a-boo.

I look at you and realize in loving you, I have forgiven them really and truly...I still don't like what happened, but I can't hold myself in spiritual prison by not forgiving them. Your mommy is my sister after all and was my best friend before your daddy came between us. Your daddy and I were together for a season but nothing good came of it. In fact, quite the opposite--violence, abuse of every kind, criminal behavior, financial woes, miscarriage and a broken heart when I found out that despite everything I had been willing to subject myself to in staying with him, he had been cheating on me with my sister. He really is lost and I pray for him. I feel bad for your mommy because I know what it's like to feel trapped and out of control, no longer yourself, but not sure what to do to change the situation that you willingly allowed to happen. I pray for her too. Most of all, I pray for you, that you will grow up protected from the evil of this world and know that you are loved more than words can describe.

Just a few more days and you'll be a whole year old and I know it's another year closer to when my sweet niece can think for herself and decide if you want to spend time with Auntie 'issa. My heart is open and so my door will always be for you as well, Sophia Grace. Psalm 139

Love and prayers,


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My (Foolish) Heart's Desires

I want it all. Surely that's not asking too much, right? God is a big God and He gives us the desires of our heart. Granted, His ways are not our ways, and His plans are always good and true, whereas our hearts can be misguided by the flesh. But heart's desire is not to be a successful, independent, career woman who can be described as sweet, nice, compassionate, dedicated, faithful, loyal, funny, passionate, articulate, sarcastic, trust-worthy, inspiring, loving, etc. My heart's desire is not even to be thin again (although I would be a lot happier if I were and I'm trying to put in the time and effort to accomplish this long-range goal). All I really want is everything--the real deal, a connection with someone that goes beyond feelings or physical attraction, a love that knows no bounds and has no end. So how foolish am I, right? I mean, I can have this now and forever with Christ as the focus of my heart, time, energy, and spirit. Yet, I still have that sense of hope deferred - unfulfilled longing, an ever-present desire to meet that special someone who thinks I'm special where two hearts become one...because of the love they each have for Christ, which in turn, brings them closer together.

"I want you to want me. I need you to need me." These song lyrics are running through my head right now. Yes, I want marriage and kids (shocking for some of my childhood friends who thought I'd never want to settle down). I want God to provide a man who can be the head of my household, to love God and me, to serve God with me, etc. But God is saying He wants me to want Him. He needs me to need Him. Then, when I'm trusting (and alas, accepting) He will reveal the power of His love in other ways/relationships. It's a struggle to be satisfied with my single life. It's a struggle to accept the compliments of others if they try to say something beyond what I do. It's a struggle to stay encouraged. It's a struggle to discern what the Voice of Truth (hey, what would my blog posts be without at least one or more song references and Bible verses, right?!) is telling me about life, my future. It's a struggle to watch and wait and pray and hope and love.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and rise up like the eagles." (Isaiah somewhere, maybe....I should probably look this up) "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understandings." (Proverbs something or other) I'm such a fool for love and I'm working on being a fool for the love of Christ since it's all I've got and quite frankly all that's supposed to matter anyways. Maybe if I focus more on Christ, I won't notice the void in my life as much...not having that special someone to share life with day in and day out, good times and bad, sickness and health, and all the rest of the wedding vows too. Time to accept that reality and try to be okay with it even as my patience is tested, my faith is challenged, my heart is broken by the Master's hand.

One last thought - check out the poem "On God's Plan For Your Mate" - it's still my prayer and (foolish) heart's desire. Love ya, Alissa

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Forever a Fourth Day

Any Christian who has participated in a Walk to Emmaus or a Chrysalis Flight knows the concept of a "fourth day" faith. For those not familiar with the phrase, here is a brief explanation so that you can understand the rest of tonight's musings. The retreat weekend is 3 days (72 hours) set apart from the world to focus on your personal relationship with Christ. There are talks on faith, action, etc. There's music, fellowship, food, prayer, tears, etc. that are typical of church retreats. There are special moments and blessings galore. However, when all is said and done, it's only been 3 days. The real test of faith begins when you return home - the fourth day. Every Christian must live each day God has blessed them (me) with purpose so that this fourth day is honoring to God, and the next one, etc.

Life should forever be fourth days, where each new day is an opportunity to draw closer to God. I was reminded of the fourth day journey when I was invited to join some sinner saints (aka Christians!) at their welcome-home dinner tonight for a pilgrim who just attended an Emmaus Walk. They celebrated her new perspective on God's grace and unconditional love (agape) and dined together. It was nice to spend time with friends - new and old. It felt good to be in fellowship. Even sharing some of the struggles felt good because we were being genuine with one another and the sharing resulted in prayer support. We were also reminded to use our John 3:16 cards - pray for God's people to recognize His work on the cross...3 people, 1 time each day set aside, 6 days a week.

I'm now thinking (and praying) over who my 3 people should be on this card. I pray for others, but these will be three who specifically receive prayers...and knowing me, messages of encouragement based on my prayer time too. I already have one person because I want to pray for them. I already have one person because I don't want to pray for them and I know this is God's will that I pray for those who have persecuted me/caused me pain. I'm praying God lays one more person on my heart so that I can specifically pray for her/him. I'm also praying God uses this increased focus on prayer to do a work in my own heart/life.

Luke 22:32 says, "But I have prayed for you Simon Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." I know 2008-2009 was failed faith and turning away from God and His ways/plans. Now that I am once again acting like the daughter of heaven that I am, I can reach out to others.

How beautiful is the Body of Christ. You know the song, but have you felt it lately? The sound of good news and the love of the King are ringing in my ears and resounding in my heart with a big "Amen." Be blessed my friends. I am - even when I feel shaken to my very core, unworthy, despised, broken, etc.

The Lord be with you as you journey through your next fourth day!

Love and prayers,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Disappointed I'm a "failure"

I'm hoping I can find some hope as I type this blog and give voice to my disappointment, but I apologize in advance if this entry is more depressing than inspirational/encouraging. I shared in an earlier blog message that I was working on some graduate classes with the intentions to complete a master's degree in educational leadership and then move into a career as a school administrator (principal). Unfortunately, I got an A in one class and a C in the other when grades finally posted from Professor X. In order to be admitted to the graduate program, I need As and Bs on the first two classes I take. Therefore, I was blocked from moving forward.

I decided to focus on the obstacles much like other things Satan throws at us (lustful thoughts, pride, anger, etc.) and address the issue head-on. Well, after much communication back and forth, I finally met with the professor and explained that because I received a "D" on my final project, my B in the class dropped to a C and I would no longer be able to move forward in the program. We reviewed the paper together. I pointed out that he took off 28 points because I made the same citation mistake every time I used in-text citations (28 times). He pointed out that I was a few pages short and seemed to be confused on some of the content (independent variables and data analysis in particular). I confessed that I was confused and asked what I could do to get the paper grade changed so my course grade was adequate for admission.

He threw me a lifeline and said that I could redo the research proposal and submit for an updated grade. He explained that in order to receive a different grade, I would need to do more than fix the citation mistakes - I would have to address the content issues and really impress him with my revised paper submission. I spent hours making those corrections, changes, additions, etc. and got the final paper back today. The comments on the rubric say that when the rewrite was allowed, it was with the understanding that nothing less than perfect would be accepted and that although I've made significant changes and improvements, it's not perfect and therefore, he would not be changing my grade (at all...not even a little bit). I am a teacher myself and have always encouraged students to do their best and provided the supports to get them there. Nobody is perfect though so revisions are allowed and improvements are recognized and rewarded. Not so in this situation. Because I am not perfect, I am a "failure" with this situation. Since a C precludes admission, it is just as damaging as an "F."

To add insult to injury, the deadline to appeal to the department chair and Dean has now passed me by and since I believed my changes were going to get a B because they were so significant and I did not know my grade outcome, I did not file one. Do I ask for an exception to the deadline when I preach to my own student teacher candidates that deadlines are there for a reason and exceptions should not be made unless you're dying on the side of the road and can't get here?! I work with these individuals too so I do not want them thinking less of me as a professional because of these education issues. Do I ask the department chair for permission to re-take the course (WITH SOMEONE ELSE, since two other professors now teach it for their students) and hope that graduate classes can be replaced with new course grades like allowed at the undergraduate level? I can't complete the program elsewhere since the transcript still follows me. If an appeal is granted, I would never be successful in this professor's other classes. It's a small program - I will have him again. Do I ask the professor if he's willing to budge a little bit since I did make progress and not be such a stickler for the impossible standard of perfection on take two (knowing that if I at least get a C on the paper, I will get a B in the course based on my previous test grades, which were As and Bs)? Do I risk further disappointment when he says NO because he can?


I know God has plans, but I really felt like continuing my own education in a field that I am currently working with plans to do the principal thing and benefit my community someday and come back to higher education as a professor once I have that experience was right. Now what?

"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life." Right now I'm struggling to find the goodness and mercy in this situation. I see it clearly in my salvation and relationships with others (thank you family and friends for telling me I am not a failure myself as a person). I will not fall into a pit of despair and depression over this because I'm not giving him that kind of power over my emotions, but I am really disappointed that my best is not good enough and that I would be considered a "failure" in any circumstances. It goes against my very nature. I've always said if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. I'm all in or nothing at all (right or wrong even).

Where do I go? back to my knees again!! Lord, give me Your wisdom for handling this situation or accepting that my plans are not Your plans. I've seen that in my romantic life already (at least, thus far) and fight those disappointments as it is. You will not give me more than I can handle, but please understand I am struggling with imperfection, disappointment, and failure. Help me not to fail You, Lord. That's what really matters anyways.

Thanks for your prayers,

P.S. A glimmer of hope maybe, but still kinda depressing after a re-read. I'm not going to bother with a re-write though....they don't seem to be paying off for me lately! ;-)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Holy Hunger

I'm sure I'm not the only one this has ever happened to, but man was I hungry when I stopped at Wal-Mart today after working late. I fully intended to run in, grab the dog food, orange juice and spring mix salad greens, but ended up wandering aimlessly down some of the other aisles, picking up a few things that I "needed." Truthfully, it will save me a trip next week, but still...I did purchase groceries that could have waited, just because I was hungry at the moment.

As I drove home, I was thinking about my current condition in life, and started singing one of my favorite worship songs (below). I want to be more like Christ - more like the old me - but also new and improved as God continues to work in my heart and life. I have that "holy hunger" where God alone can satisfy. Yes, I have been broken, but I have not been abandoned by God in shambles and despair. His touch has healing powers, mentally and spiritually for me specifically, and I've seen physical miracles too (aunt's healing from cancer).

Of course, the danger lies in being so hungry we fill up the cart on things that are not needed or good for us. The caution is to make sure I don't get distracted by thoughts spending time doing things that do not honor God. Longing to fill the God-shaped void in my heart requires things of God, thoughts of God, and time with God. There are no substitutes. Because of the feast with God, I can then taste the sweetness of His blessings in my career, relationships with others, service, etc. Soooo, I must take every thought captive (and there are some I'd be okay with you knowing, but less okay with Him knowing and yet, it doesn't really work that way). I need to invest time and energy in this relationship so I don't feel famished and hunger for things/people that are not of the Lord.

The path to freedom continues. Thanks for your prayers and love!


P.S. Okay, okay, I confess I bought a bag of funyons. I won't eat them all at once though. LOL :)

Hungry, I come to you
For I know You satisfy
I am empty, but I know
Your love does not run dry.

So I wait for You
So I wait for You
I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for

Broken, I run to You
For Your arms are open wide
I am weary, but I know
Your touch restores my life

So I wait for You
So I wait for You
I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, You're all this heart is living for

Songwriter: Kathryn Scott

Friday, September 24, 2010

My (not so secret) Love Affair

I have a confession to make. It's a pretty big deal actually. Are you ready for my not so secret truth to be revealed once and for all? I'm in love. Yep, and not just with the idea of being in love either, although that is certainly true too, being the hopeless romantic that I am. :)

When all hope is lost or when dreams are being realized
When I am at my worst or living life at my best
When I am alone or surrounded by others
When I sleep or when I rise
When I am busy or bored

There is someone who loves me throught it all - and IN SPITE of me in it all. This love knows no end, does not have strings attached, is not manipulative or abusive, and makes each day worth living. I've realized I'm never going to be complete without love and there's only one perfect love affair worth seeking daily anyways - Jesus Christ as the love of my life and Lord and Savior!! There is a God shaped void in my heart that looks something like....well, the CROSS. That's the plan of salvation at its simplest. Jesus died for me while I was a sinner. I can't earn that love. I can't lose that love. I can't ignore that love. I can't surpass that love. It's an amazing love affair.

So when you see some "mysterious" status messages about the "You" and "He" making me smile and have a reason for living, remember this not so secret love connection. Only when I am complete in Him, will I be able to really appreciate the love of any human man anyways. That's not gonna stop me from crushing' cuz I'm still the same hopeless romantic wanting what the heart wants....BUT, it does mean that I'm waiting for God to make that romantic connection. I'll just be in love with Him, seeking His will, sharing His love with others...and it will be enough. It's a God shaped void, so no B, C, G, J, or M that I've ever liked or like can fill those shoes anyways. It really wouldn't be fair of me to ask them to be a replacement for Jesus - too much pressure and setting them up for failure. The same is true for me - I can be a woman after God's own heart, but I can't save anyone - not from themselves and not from an eternity of hell if they do not make their own love connection with Jesus.

Thanks for your prayers (and love my dear friends),
Alissa :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Push it to the Limit(s)'s been a while since my last blog post. I've written at least one every day in my mind - usually on my 40 minute commute home from work - and yet, they haven't quite made it to print in this particular forum. That being said, a lot has been going on and there have been times where I feel overwhelmed, on the verge of a complete meltdown, etc. I probably should not be surprised when Satan catches me at a "high" and launches a new attack, and I know God never gives us more than we can handle. Mercy, but I wish He didn't think me capable of handling so much sometimes!! LOL

My quest for freedom has many facets: spiritually free of bondage, physically free of the unwanted pounds that do not reflect the real me I remember from childhood/early adult years, mentally released from baggage of past failings. A challenge has been to push myself to move forward when there are days I just want to give up and stop moving permanently. (These are the days I contemplate asking for help in the form of some "happy pill" but pride has kept me from asking, in much the same way pride keeps me from asking for any other help, even with my closest and dearest friends.)

So, I'm asking for that help, that accountability that I know is available. Help me push it to the limits and stay on track - spiritually, physically, and mentally/emotionally. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 and some of that strength is going to have YOUR flesh on it dear friends/family!

P.S. Today was a good day and I will rejoice in it. :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Out with the Old

So most people associate the phrase "out with the old" with the beginning of a new year or spring cleaning types of phases. For me, I am constantly trying to cast off the dirty garments so to speak from my past and move forward with my new life, clothed in Christ's righteousness. I struggle with trying to be a people pleaser (duh, right?!) and sometimes let the words of others dictate my own emotions, which usually results in tears and sorrow. When I stand up for myself, and demand that my emotional needs be met for the sake of self preservation, moving forward and avoiding connections to my past, I am called a b(@*h or labeled un-Christian. There are plenty of passages in the Bible about forgiveness and judgment, but it does not mean others get to trample on me--I'm a daughter of the King too, worthy of respect and a life free from the drama of the "negative Ned's and Nelly's".

In short, my quest for freedom must include forgiving myself and owning my past while not allowing others to use it against me or try to suggest that my present and future must suffer in some way because of the past. I have moved on and don't need those people or those reminders in my life. Respect me, respect that, or stay out of my path. My future is as bright as the promises of God and you might need sunglasses if you're bound and determined to stand in my way cuz the glow is just gonna get brighter as I build up my own emotional health again.

P.S. I might be making some difficult decisions to make sure the ties to the past are in fact severed permanently.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 is the mantra on repeat. HOPE - FUTURE - GOOD!!!

Thanks for prayers!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Take it to the Top

As I was driving home from work today (half day), I was thinking about the fact my meeting with Prof X still hasn't happened, which means I still can't get into the Educational Leadership program (although that may still be the outcome even after the meeting), and also remembering other times in my life where I felt like I had been knocked down into a deep pit. (Depressing driving apparently, right?! It is a longer commute than I would like, but I get to have think time, music time, etc.)

As these thoughts were rolling through my mind, I also remembered the inspirational story of the donkey (or some such animal) thrown into a deep pit by the other animals who didn't like the donkey or think it had any value to society. Forgive my poor recall of the fable, but hopefully my point will remain clear for those of you reading this blog as it was for me, even if the tale isn't exactly as it was told in the original form. Anyhoo (LOL)....the donkey spent time at the bottom of the pit, growing in isolation and fear of dying alone. The pleas for help and a hand up out of the pit went unanswered, but not unnoticed. The other animals decided it was time to shut the donkey up for good and end the complaining and misery, so they start shoveling dirt down on top of the donkey, intent to bury him alive. They dropped in loads of dirt, one shovel at a time, and yet were surprised when the donkey suddenly emerged at the top of what had once been this deep pit/prison.

The other animals were not sure what to make of this turn of events. They were certainly in disbelief, having expected the donkey to be dead and buried rather than alive and on top of the world again. When asked what happened, the donkey responded that for a time he had been stuck in the muck and mire and misery of being trapped at the bottom of the pit, hopeless and alone. No jumping or attempts to climb worked and nobody was offering assistance. However, with each new shovel full of dirt, the donkey shook itself off and took a step up. Every drop of dirt was shaken off to become part of the donkey's path to freedom. What the animals had meant for evil, the donkey used for good. The other animals celebrated this unexpected miracle and the donkey was welcomed back into the fold of the animal kingdom. (Happy ever after kind of fable if memory serves.)

This is true for God's people too. What others or Satan mean for evil, God can use for good. We may find ourselves at the bottom of a pit, surrounded by darkness, alone and trapped by fear or self-pity. Yet, each instance of dirt being dumped down on our heads can be used to "step up" as we shake ourselves off, maintain our focus, and patiently wait until there is enough dirt to fill in the hole without burying us alive. I certainly feel like I've had a season trapped at the bottom of a pit and still struggle with some feelings that I can't climb out alone. The reality is I'm never alone as a child of God and He will show me the way to freedom. If God is for us, who can be against us?! The climb out of the pit...the journey for freedom...starts with a change on the inside. The donkey believed he could use the dirt thrown down to bury him to climb up and out of the pit. I need to believe that who/what has thrown me into a pit and covered me with dirt can be used for a change of heart and mind - that I would find inner strength to be about God's business and the changes I want for myself too.

Romans 8:28 says, "and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." The other verses that have been referenced in idea are Romans 8:31 and Genesis 50:20.

Thanks for reading and praying! :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trading My Sorrows

So it's been an interesting 24+ hours. As I sit here reflecting, I am reminded of the song by DELIRIOUS and also SONIC FLOOD (I think) called "Trading My Sorrows."

(Excerpt only) "I am pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure, and His joy is going to be my strength. Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning. I'm trading my sorrows. I'm trading my shame. I'm trading them all for the joy of the Lord!" (End selected lyrics)

I have one sister who thinks I'm bi-polar and another who thinks I've never recovered emotionally from the relationship results of 2008-09. I don't think I need a medical diagnosis but could probably benefit from "happy pills" to even out the mood swings (and with any luck and God's blessing, bring an end to some, if not all, of my migraines which have increased in the last two years). That being said, I admit to having strong feelings. I'm a passionate person - all or nothing, do it right or don't bother at all, give it 100%, and go full steam ahead. This makes for some rather strong reactions to certain situations.

I want to be understood for who I am, just as I am. Sometimes I don't know who I am though. I know some of who I am, what I want, who I want to be with, etc. but don't always get what/who I want. (The current three official followers of my blog can certainly attest to this truth! LOL) I confess I doubt myself and had a friend tell me I am the most insecure confident person they know. The circumstances seem to determine which is true (insecurity or confidence). I love this song because it reminds me that there's always hope (tie in to previous post). God does not want to leave us where we are. He takes us as we are and brings us to new heights and depths in relationship with Him.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18 (New International Version) says: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: "I believed; therefore, I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal."

This set of Bible verses really does remind me to trade in my sorrows and keep my eyes on the prize of eternity. The quest for freedom (from myself, my sins, my past, my doubts, my human flesh, etc.) continues! Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Advance Planning - RSVP Required?

I am now (and always have been) a planner. I like to plan well in advance and make sure things happen according to plan. Friends and family have always commended me for my innate ability to plan big and small events and carry out the plans. I enjoy planning and seeing the project through to fruition. Advance planning makes me happy since I can list tasks and check them off as they are accomplished.

On the flip side, I find it a challenge to be spontaneous and have mild anxiety about surprises...even simple ones like surprise birthday parties or gifts that I did not preview. Case in point - my sister has planned a birthday brunch for me and I really don't want to go...not because I don't think it will be a fun time or good food, but because all I know is what time to be at her apartment. Too many questions are unanswered - what to wear, what kind of restaurant, who will be there, etc. It bothers me and I'm trying to be gracious and flexible in accepting this birthday gift...especially since she has rescheduled on me three times previously. My idea of being spontaneous is running an EMS call when the tones drop on my radio at some point during the 6pm to 6am squad duty night I am assigned as a volunteer. LOL

There have been quite a few instances where my plans did not go according to plan. I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a young child and that changed when I did not get accepted to law school immediately after graduation from the University of Richmond. I revised the plan to include working as a paralegal for a few years before trying the admission process again. By then, I felt God was leading me in a different direction and prayer warriors joined me in seeking God's will for my life/career. I was called to be an educator and spent four years as a high school history teacher in my hometown. I loved the challenges and rewards of my time as a classroom teacher but moved into higher education last year. I now work for a local university as the person responsible for admitting students to the various teacher preparation programs, coordinating placements for the various internships required in the programs, providing orientation and training sessions for faculty and students, and assisting teacher candidates with licensure paperwork and requirements upon successful completion of the teacher preparation program. I love the experiences this position provides and the people I work with (and for) are second to none!

That being said, I am still very much interested in my own personal education plans and potential career goals with those additional degrees (masters' and doctorate). I started on an Educational Leadership track and have encountered some obstacles to progressing as originally planned. There are some options to getting things back on track but there are also new options I had not previously considered. I could get a masters' degree in a related area of education, get my doctorate and be teaching at the college/university level. I could get a masters' degree in a related area of education, then get a second masters' degree in Ed Leadership and pursue doctoral and/or career as assistant principal/principal. I could try to seek admission to another institution's graduate program at greater personal cost and without guarantee of admission. This of course is just one example of my thoughts. Then there's also the personal questions - will I find "Mr. Right" and get married and live happily ever after? Will I have children? Will I lose the rest of the weight I have been working to shed for personal health/fitness? So much is unknown at this point and it scares me. Too much is beyond my control. Did I mention I struggle with patience and surrender?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 has always been an encouragement to me through the ups and downs and twists and turns in my advance planning efforts. God has plans for me. He knows them inside and out and they are good for me and for His purpose. The real struggle is in surrendering to His will and accepting His plans without knowing them in full. It's like being issued an invitation to this wonderful event and needing to RSVP without knowing when, where, who, what, why or how. I guess the RSVP is in being open regardless and I find this challenging...almost immobilizing. Does it make me less genuine in my faith to have these doubts, fears, and reservations?

I may not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future. I'm going to have to work to trust Him without reservation or in spite of my doubts and fears. He is my only hope for plans that are good and will prosper after all. Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement and support!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Random Organization

I have recently decided that the random organization (things are there, just not where I would normally want them to be, aka in their right spot) needed to end at home and work. I've created files, cleaned out drawers, moved furniture, unpacked boxes, and yes, even thrown stuff away and donated some to others. It's a process, and it's not complete, but I had a sense of accomplishment in getting those things taken care of, and now I'm not bothered by the clutter/piles/boxes since most has been addressed. I feel like God is teaching me about being random or mediocre in life and in my relationship with Him too. This example of organization shows how much better results can be if I put the time and energy into getting it done right. I know I haven't been totally committed to God the way I once was and it doesn't feel "right."

Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

I'm going to be more diligent in setting my focus on Him, not just the whims that come and go. Only when I give Him my whole heart will I be complete. My head knows this - I just need to put my faith in action.