Monday, April 15, 2013

The Waiting

I decided I was not going to apply for any more internal jobs.
I decided I was going to focus on looking for jobs elsewhere in Indiana.
I applied. I researched. I updated my resume.

I made calls, and prayed, and talked to people.

I got nowhere.

I learned to sew.
I painted a coffee/game table.

I got nowhere.

On one trip home, during Christmas time, I was at my parents' church.  I was broken-hearted knowing that I would have to leave home to go home. Al walked up to the front of the church and spoke.

"There is someone here who feels like God is not listening to you. But, He is. He knows exactly what you are looking for, and He has not forgotten you."

I felt the spotlight shining on me. He was talking to me. Of course he was. In that moment I was reminded again that God had great plans for me. Too bad being human takes its toll.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Middle and the Story of a Craft Cabinet

I talked with my manager.
My job, as a manager would not allow me to work from home- not on a long term basis anyway. Where I work, however, there are opportunities for "virtual" roles. Perfect situation in my mind. I had been with my company 9 years, and I didn't quite like the idea of quitting.  Aside from that, once ten years of service have been reached, an additional week of vacation is added, and who doesn't like vacation? 

Cue the months and months of applying for roles, and being turned down, one after the other.

Does God not hear me? Or, maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I'm selfish, and God's plans are different from what I'm wanting.

Cue the pity party.

I was at home laying on my couch after receiving another rejection. I pulled up Pinterest (Oh, how I love thee), and saw a beautiful craft cabinet.  I prayed then. A selfish prayer, but a prayer, none the less. "God, please help me to find something similar to this. I know that it won't be exactly the same, but help me to find something similar."

That evening I set out with my friend Cindy (my thrifter friend extraordinaire) and we headed out to one of her favorite thrift locations. We walked around the store, and to the back where they had their large furniture pieces.  I could not have been there more than 10 minutes when I found it. It was the craft cabinet of my dreams. I was beyond ecstatic.  The thing was huge, and I was certain I was looking at hundreds of dollars.  It was actually marked only $60.  Cindy and I went to the front of the store, and talked with the clerk.  I was about coming out of my skin, when I confirmed the price was actually $60. She smiled, and nodded.

While I was fidgeting with excitement, Cindy had the presence of mind to ask, "Do you do sales on furniture?"

Once again the clerk smiled. "Okay." She said. "I'll give it to you for $20."

"Twenty dollars?"


The thing about this craft cabinet, it had been there for three weeks before I had ever had my disappointing day. It had been there, delivered, and waiting, all in anticipation of my bad day, of my prayer to God, of my shopping trip with Cindy. God had it ready for me. 

In that moment, that evening, everything negative faded away. My worry. My anxiety. My fretting was gone. If God could put a craft cabinet in a store weeks ahead of time, just for me, then surely He must have big plans for me.

"Stephanie, are you sure this is important to you?" I was asked as we stood trying to determine how the monstrosity was going to make it up three flights of stairs into my apartment.

In the Old Testament, in the Bible, it talks frequently of making altars and reminding yourself of the great things God has done. For me, that craft cabinet became exactly that. A reminder that God had great plans for me. 

Too bad that I am human, and the way God reveals Himself became over shadowed by the every day.

The Beginning

I would say it began with a craft cabinet, but the truth is it began months before that.

Months and months.

The truth of my "story," my non-Lifetime, non-bookselling story began hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Oh, you're story was written then too, but I'll allow you to tell yours when you are ready.

In March of 2012 life was hopping. My friend Elle and I had determined we were going to make 2012 the best year ever. Whew. That required work. We visited Chicago, celebrated Leap Year, made multiple road trips. We laughed until we ached, and ate until we ached. We ran and walked and talked. We took pictures.

I traveled to Seattle with my Melissa, and made new friends of old. I visited states and people. I saw my Rita and watched my favorite photographer in her prime.

My dad was not well. My brother was not well. Life was busy. In the middle of fun and excitement, there was worry, concern, peace.

The whole time, I longed to go home. 

I had moved to Illinois on May 4, 2003 to work at a church as a children's pastor.  I remember knowing that I would be moving there. I had made a hasty decision in 2002, that had landed me in an odd situation- a learning situation, a difficult situation. I was in the middle of that situation, November 2002, when I heard the words, "Lake Villa, IL." I remember where I was sitting when I was talking with my dad.

"Tell Bob I'll be there."

The moment after I said those words, I remember thinking, "hmm not sure how this will work out," but I just had the knowing that it would. It did.

There it was, nearly 9 years later, and I just wanted to go home.  

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Spot of Fried, and Hat of Hilarity

I always recall, with a smile on my face, the summer I was 27. It was actually my "golden" year. 27th on the 27th.  My birthday in January including favorites: friends and food (or food and friends).

Then the summer rolled around and we had the party barge.  My group of friends made our way to Kenosha's finest beach week after week on Sunday afternoons.  The drive there included roads that wound through cornfields; the radio was turned high with songs to sing to.  We'd arrive at the beach, and the air was hot, and the water, (usually freezing, but a few times) actually perfect! 

We would pile on our barge, and off into Lake Michigan we'd go.  Normally we didn't get too far. It was after all Lake Michigan, and the actual boat boats, were impressive (and I might have been terrified we would be run over--- can you get run over by a boat?) and we were on something a little larger than a blow up raft. 

From that summer on, trips to Kenosha always remind me of a few things, namely friends, music and a yellow blow up raft that surprisingly did quite well in Lake Michigan.

Before leaving my home of ten years, Kenosha was on the list of things to do. Of course I can always visit, but.... I messaged the one person that I knew would really really know. 

"What do you want before you go?"
"Kenosha. The beach. The lighthouses. Music."

My ride was a blue pickup. The music was perfect, and we drove on up to Kenosha singing (kinda singing- I had laryngitis) and looking at the perfect fields and the gorgeous sky.

We ate at The Spot, a perfectly Kenosha location, and had "homemade" root beer and orange drink and of course ate fried.

Then there was the beach. It was cold. Bitterly cold, but no worries as we bundled up in warm fuzzy German hats (I was forced to wear the black one) and trounced along the beach taking pictures, finding rocks and remembering.

I am not so far that Kenosha cannot be reached.  Now there are just a few more beaches between here and there.

Michael, you always bring the music.
This next time though, maybe I'll bring my own hat.

Always, Stefonos