Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Living with Jagged Edges

Last week I was feeling really cruddy and writing to my sister, Jane, made a huge difference. Well, I’m feeling cruddy again, so I’m taking the best action I know: writing again.

Many of you know that our family has been just hanging onto a jagged edge financially for a very long time—though I know others who have suffered longer. During this time, it’s been an ongoing battle to figure out what it means to endure faithfully, without whining. Sometimes that means screaming and letting out all the pent up frustration and anxiety. And it also means you have to stop screaming and move on. . . . But at least for the Pioneers there was a clear goal (right?). Will someone, please, tell me what my goal is and where I am going with all of this crazy financial and emotional adventure? (BTW, that’s a rhetorical question.)

. . . . Um, I think this is where I’m supposed to talk about how much I’m learning and triumphing over the challenges God has given me by seeking for His peace in my life. Well, I won’t. Tonight I’m just tired. I haven’t really conquered anything except that I survived. I did at least think about having more faith and charity in my heart. And that was a good thing. But today, for better or for worse, my focus was just hanging onto my jagged edge.

And for all of you out there just hanging on to your jagged edges, I’ll shed a tear or two (really, I did). Not in the way of recruiting others to my pity party, but so you know that you’re not alone if today, having faith meant just, as peacefully as possible, hanging on, jagged edge or not.

(So, am I feeling better now? . . . maybe . . . I’m too busy just hanging on to admit any such improvement. ;] )

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

. . . finally!

I had an epiphany today. The kids were singing Primary songs, and this song hit me in a new way today.

If the Savior Stood Beside Me

Words and music by Sally DeFord

1. If the Savior stood beside me,

would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments,
and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example?
Would I live more righteously
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me?

2. If the Savior stood beside me,
would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind
if He was never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel?
Would I speak more rev’rently
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me?

3. He is always near me,
though I do not see Him there,
And because He loves me dearly,
I am in His watchful care.
So I’ll be the kind of person
that I know I’d like to be
if I could see the Savior standing nigh,
watching over me.

Until today, whenever I thought of this song, I always perceived the effect of 'the Savior standing beside me' as something akin to driving past a police officer and slowing down or behaving better as a kid when the Bishop was around. After everything we've been through, however, I've started . . . 'thinking of' isn't the right phrase . . . It's more like 'feeling' how much love the Savior has for us. He's not easy to satisfy. I know that to be true, because He knows the blessings of us being diligent in our duty. BUT He is easy to please, and His eternal love is with us in everything we do.

And He is there for us in every struggle. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4) I don't believe that to be figurative. I believe it's literal--a thought that's almost too overwhelming to comprehend. And we make the world a better place when we choose to act with faith that, even though we can't see or even necessarily feel him, He is right there for us.

So somehow that finally got through to me today. And now my prayer is that I'll stay on course, remember this epiphany, and keep that faith.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Online Adjunct Teaching Assistant Application Essay

Create a scenario and describe your response to a nontraditional student seeking your support.

The students have been asked to write a personal essay in response to a recently assigned book. Before final submission, the Student has submitted a rough draft for my review. The essay is largely in a journaling format with some book summary and a few bold statements of opinion in response to content within the book.

Student Essay:
I really enjoyed reading Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris. It had some really great stuff in it about leadership and how the battle between good and evil plays out between individuals and within individuals. What a tough thing it would have been to experience the Shaod and to continue living but in the conditions that Elantris presented and separated from the world you knew before and those you love. But I’m not sure I would have faired any better in Sarene’s place who had to face a monarch destroying his country and the loss of any hope for a real marriage. Sanderson did a great job creating an amazing world in need of salvation and then using amazing characters to save it. If ever a book warranted a sequel, this one does.

Dear Student,
What amazing insights you have! Elantris is also recently one of my favorite reads. Writing is such a wonderful process of self discovery. It is very clear to me that you are well on your way to discovering your voice in response to Elantris. Here are a couple of thoughts that may help give you confidence and ability as you refine your response:
Look at what you have written and find the common thread to what you have written and what is in your heart about this book. Make this the heart of your essay. State it in the beginning and then use that thread to tie things up at the end. Is it leadership that you want to explore more? Or is it the internal battles you see happening? Tell us about your personal journey because of this book.
Show the reader with examples from the book what lead you to feel what you do. For example, tell us where you saw the leadership happening in the book and why it was great.
View yourself as an artist. Words are your medium, but they do not control the end result. Work and rework your essay until it communicates what your heart has to say. If your heart wants to speak about leadership, trust yourself enough to say it using the book to bring your thoughts to life.
I would love to share this journey with you. Please send me additional drafts if you feel a need for more feedback.
Verena Beckstrand

Through Christ the Lord

Even while we have been sensing that the Lord would soon part the Financial Red Sea before us, many of the avenues we had been pursuing in order to provide for our family have recently come to dead ends. During this time, Rob and I have continued to ponder, to pray, to listen, and to consider every option for providing for our family. Currently, Rob has passed the initial HR screening for a job with Pinal County in Florence (AZ, not Italy ;), which is about an hour commute from here. We are now waiting to find out if he'll get an interview there.

While waiting, I began considering the idea of ME looking for a job. NO FUN!!! Quite mind blowing and mind boggling to say the least. And heart wrenching too to think of leaving my children, particularly Merisa, in order to punch a time clock somewhere. Not to mention the whole scary process of 'selling myself' to potential employers by updating my resume and then hitting the pavement to find something, especially considering the present economy.

However, as I thought about looking for a job and then discussed it with various people, I gained some incredible insights. Immediately I gained a better appreciation for those mothers, of all walks of life, who face that choice with courage and willingly put their shoulders to the wheel, in all sorts of jobs, to provide the basic necessities for their families. I'm not entirely sure how God wants me to assist in the family finances, but for now I'm gratefully not sensing that I will need to leave the home for work. With that in mind I also considered how I might serve my community in the future, and I began to look for opportunities that would assist me in using my Gifts in order to serve others.

So, while searching for a job on the Craig's list, I found a great job opportunity as an Online Adjunct Teaching Assistant. (Which basically means assisting in online classes, specifically with writing.) It seems like such a great opportunity that, frankly, I'm wondering if it's even for real. I took a few days to write the required essay and then applied. I've posted the essay that I wrote on this blog. Mostly, I just thought of some of the papers that some of the ladies wrote in HAPE Group (I won't tell who!! ;), recreated their style, and then I commented on it. Weird, but fun. The resume I resurrected from a job that I had applied for in Colorado. It was amazing how well it suited this position. There was very little to update, for which I was very grateful. (How ELSE would I have remembered all the dates and info from the various jobs I had had before motherhood???)

We also had a great visit with our Bishop this last Sunday. I think I had somehow got it into my mind that help from the Church would expire like unemployment, or that because we have needed help for so long that somehow we weren't worthy of more help. Anticipating the appointment surely gave me insight into those that suffer with burdens of sin. I love how God uses His servants to show us how much He cares for us even when our best efforts fail to produce the results we seek. And I went to bed with my burdens lifted. They weren't gone, but they were undoubtedly lifted.

So we've had a lot of stress waiting to hear from Florence on the Pinal County job. Can I just ship Rob away for a few weeks so I don't have to wonder at every phone call or email he gets?????? Today I felt impressed to read Mosiah 16:15: "Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen." As I read it I had the distinct impression that Financial redemption also comes through the Savior. Wow, so comforting . . . I pay that this additional understanding will ease the financial panic attacks I get so regularly in the middle of the night. And hopefully it will bring me more awake peace in this time of waiting. Truth is freedom, but sometimes it just doesn't come until after the trial of our Faith.

We also got a call from our Relief Society President this week. Someone was giving away a queen size bed. Not new, but it's a pillow top and doesn't have the hump in the middle like our cheap mattress did. And we're enjoying it. Another blessing that should also help the night attacks. No, the assistance from others hasn't expired. =] And as much as we can, we are striving to be on the other end of the giving to help others feel salvation through Christ the Lord.