I am away alone at an AirBnB for a much needed time of retreat, silence, prayer, and writing. The previous months have been filled with a great deal of stress and joys, and our holiday season was extremely busy with its own ups and downs. I also will not be able to get away for an extended time due to work responsibilities. As a result, I have responded to God's compelling call for retreat.
Stephen and Jenna were married in July, and prior to the wedding Heather and I headed to Cedar Campus for a short vacation. Amy was working on Cedar Campus' summer crew so we were able to get her home for the wedding. Taking Heather's senior pictures was a highlight of our vacation, but she only tolerated a few pictures as she was anxious to spend as much time as possible on her favorite activity...sailing!
While on crew, Amy earned her lifeguarding
certification and spent many, many hours
getting boats ready for the summer. She even did some sewing repairs on the sail of one of Heather's favorite boats, determined to get it out of storage and in the water for Heather. Amy is completing her wildlife/biology degree at Purdue University in the spring and hopes to find wildlife preservation work. She has been dating a wonderful young man who is a pre-pharmacy/biology major from California. He also graduates from Purdue in the spring, and he hopes to return to California for pharmacy school. It will be exciting to see how their future unfolds.
Heather's health has immensely improved after some misdiagnoses, several ER visits, a cyst on her back, and fibromyalgia issues. The cyst will have to be surgically removed during her upcoming spring break, but we anticipate no issues.
Cedar Campus crew this summer. She has also applied to the University of Illinois.
Stephen's and Jenna's wedding was a Christ-centered, joyful family event. They love breakfast food so they decided to have an untraditional reception (which was so much their style) with quiche, fruit, and yogurt parfaits with coffee cake for the wedding cake. After their Costa Rica honeymoon, the returned to Lexington, Kentucky where Jenna is a 6th grade science teacher in a Christian school and where Stephen is completing his graduate work at the University of Kentucky. In the spring, he will begin applying for a year of internship in his psychology work with school-aged children and teens.
On December 17, I graduated with my MBA in Healthcare Administration with a 3.92 GPA! The work to the end was exhausting, particularly since I have been working so much. It is a great relief to be done, and I am sincerely proud of my work. It is my hope that as I approach my layoff date of June 30, that I will be able to find a job as a patient advocate/navigator. Prayers are needed for God's timing and help in finding the right location. I am willing to move; however, I may need to remain in Indiana if Heather attends Purdue University so she can benefit from in-state tuition.
I continue to be in good health except for a few minor issues. I thank God every day for my ostomy as it has radically changed my health and my life for the better. I had no idea how sick I was until I wasn't sick anymore! I have been able to go camping, bike riding, walking, and hiking!
I do however, need great prayers regarding my job. This summer and fall I began working 60-hour weeks, including Saturdays, as well as traveling to Mexico once a month to train my replacement. Even if I fly into Fort Wayne at 8 p.m. on a Friday night, I am still expected to put 8 hours in at the office on Saturday. I want to make it clear that I have no problem with my employer moving to Mexico and with training my replacement. God is bigger than all that, and I have been able to share Jesus with my counterpart whom I am training. It is the staggering expectations that I am floundering under as the transition has not gone as quickly or as smoothly as planned, which has led to an enormous, impossible workload.
I eventually crashed under the stress of work, school, and lack of sleep. So much so that my HR manager and department lead recognized that I was not myself, which resulted in almost two weeks off work. Two contracted employees quit while I was out, and there were many rumours floating about. Thankfully, it all turned out to be nothing, and I learned that I desperately needed that break. I am grateful that the company saw my value and wanted to help me. What is sad is the fact that it took until someone broke for them to realize they are breaking people.
While I was off I met with my counselor and psychiatrist, got plenty of rest, exercised, spent time with friends, and finished my schoolwork. I won't lie...there were some very tough days when I was absolutely devastated by the anxiety about work. It took me over a week to not wake up in the morning having nightmares about work and my heart pounding out of my chest.
Upon my return, some of my responsibilities had been moved to other co-workers, and they are understandably resentful...they continue to work 10 hour days and take work home. I am under doctor's orders to only work 9 hours a day with a 1/2 hour lunch and 8 hours on Saturday. I know that seems like a lot, but it is far better than 60+ hours. I am getting paid overtime, and I am trying to save as much as possible. I get as much done as I can every day, and at 4:30 p.m. I simply leave. My counselor has gently reminded me that even if my peers work 60+ hours a week, I clearly cannot.
My layoff date moved from this past fall to this coming spring to next June. I should be grateful as the added time will help me see Heather through her high school graduation, and it allowed me to complete my degree just in time to be more marketable post-layoff. Thankfully, I will receive a severance package and some other benefits to help with continuing my health insurance for a time after the layoff.
So great prayer is needed to sustain me in the coming months at work and as I make the transition to other work and to becoming an empty nester. Please pray for Stephen, Jenna, Amy, and Heather as well. Stephen's internship most likely will require a move and Jenna finding a new teaching job. Amy needs prayer transitioning from college to work, and Heather needs prayer as she prepares for college. We are all at a crossroads, which scares them at times and excites me. I can't wait to see how God works it all out in His amazing timing.
All of the kids were very supportive with Dave's recent wedding to his partner, Brian. I decided a long time ago that it takes far less energy to live in grace and forgiveness than in bitterness and hate. We still celebrate family events together, although this year was tough...not tough due to their marriage but tough as most of the adulting fell on me.
At the last moment due to a nasty flu bug in their household and due to their unexpected work obligations, I ended up having Heather an extra two weeks, buying all the presents, wrapping them with the girls' help, and hosting Christmas (with a clogged kitchen sink that required the Christmas meal mess be hand washed in the bathroom tub!) To top it off, I photographed their small wedding, which turned out to be a little harder that I expected...but I made it through...only to have my car hit in the church parking lot. It was for sure a comedy of errors, and by the time it was all over, I was done adulting...which why today is a pajama day in a cozy loft apartment with everything provided that I could possibly need and even things I did not know I would need.