As I've mentioned previously on my blog, I've felt like God has said that the year 2017 would be, for me, a year of 1) rest and 2) common sense and that 3) I would be bored, in a good way. I've definitely seen that theme unfolding for me throughout the year. Since rest has been a difficult thing for me to achieve in the past (I used to be a workaholic), I found myself getting almost impatient with the "rest" part of God's equation for 2017. But I found Him gently but firmly insisting that 2017 was a one-shot deal; I wouldn't get any do-overs. He explained that 2017 needs to happen if 2018 is going to happen -- not in a "duh, chronological order" kind of way but in a "certain events must occur this year in order for next year to unfold correctly" kind of way.
For me, 2017 kind of felt like a vacation. At my previous job, things were very slow at my desk. When I talked to my boss about it, she kind of scoffed at me and told me to take an early lunch. So, I did. One time when I tried to help my coworker with her workload, she kind of got a talking-to from our boss, and I could tell that it had upset the equilibrium in the office mechanics, so I just enjoyed my free time like my boss had instructed me to do. (I ended up catching up on many hours of sermons on YouTube.) I was definitely bored, in a good way. From time to time, work would suddenly pour in and I would get really stressed out trying to get it all done, so I think it all balanced out in the end.
At home, one thing that God put on my heart was that He wanted me to have a five-minute iPhone quiet time every evening. As in, that's all He really wanted for my daily quiet time. So, I've been turning on some worship music on my phone and reading usually a Psalm or a Proverb or wherever God leads me, and it usually lasts about five minutes. He and I usually continue talking afterwards (while I'm getting ready for bed) like an old married couple, and we like it that way. Many times, I linger on my couch with my phone still on while I try to pour out my heart a little bit more or while I have some questions that need answering. God patiently listens, I usually cry, and He gently nudges me that it's time for bed. Lately He's continued talking to me either after I go to bed or in the mornings when I'm trying to wake up. It's really cool. And it's quite restful.
When you're on vacation, you usually end up either doing or trying things that you haven't done or tried before -- or that you maybe won't have a chance to do or try again. I think my two months of unemployment provided ample opportunity for that. I discovered the local public library, I sold a few items on eBay (which I don't have the supplies or the time to do while I'm working full-time), I found myself in a dire financial situation where I tried to trust God only for money (He came through, and I'd like to continue trusting Him that way for the rest of my life), and I discovered British comedy clips on YouTube (specifically my new favorite: The Catherine Tate Show).
Earlier this year, I went to a class at church where one of the pastors was a guest speaker. He shared something that he and his team heard God speak to them for 2017. From what I can remember, he said that 2017 would be the year of the clashing sword. Ideologies would clash this year, and we would need to let that happen. But there would also be opportunities opening up this year. We the church would need to pray for revival to happen in the process. I think this word was pretty accurate. News headlines this year screamed clashing swords: politics, Civil War monuments, etc.
And I think I experienced the clashing sword on my job as well. I felt like I should have had more work on my plate, but my boss disagreed; I felt like my boss should have managed me more directly, but she ended up managing me remotely on Facebook instead. I became unhappy at work this year (way back in March, I believe). When I prayed about looking for another job, God reminded me that 2017 is a year of common sense; if you don't like your job, it's common sense to look for another one. And He kept impressing on my heart that the way that I would leave my job needed to happen naturally. Long after the stuff hit the fan (because it was ultimately a Facebook post that forced me to leave), God told me, "I know what you're like on Facebook, so I used that." OK, then. Clash, clash.
Recently, He basically told me that 2017 would be a year of adjustments -- and that He didn't tell me sooner because I wouldn't have liked it. Heh, heh. He's right.
I've made all kinds of adjustments this year -- big and small. Due to a couple of circumstances, my finances kind of took a hit this past spring and never really caught up. So, I gradually relearned to live on a little bit less money, and I think that was preparation for the unemployment season that I was hit with a couple of months ago. I'm currently still quite broke, but I'm not hungry, and God has shown me ways that I can creatively stretch my dollar. (These are skills that I was forced to learn years ago, but it's been cool getting a refresher course.)
While I was unemployed this year and praying for a job, I felt like God told me that I would need to tighten up my work ethic at my next job. After about a week of working at my new temp job, I understand what He means. It's a quota-based job where I'm required to review a certain number of documents per day. Historically, quotas and I haven't gotten along. But I know myself, I know what to expect, and I know how to speed myself up. (It involves checking Facebook less frequently throughout the day, saving any chitchat for lunchtime/breaks, and listening to music on my phone's playlists that I had already put together to help me stay in the zone while I'm working.)
Throughout this year, one thing that I felt like God was telling me about my life was that the "land" needed to rest. For instance, I'm a songwriter. I didn't write any new songs this year because I felt like He kept telling me, "Nothing new in the field." So, I didn't plant any new songs. I didn't really start any new projects in my "field." Nothing that was really new happened to me this year: I became suddenly unemployed (which I've lived through before), I lost my cat (which I've experienced before), I got a temp job (which I've done many times before), and I volunteered at church (which I think I've been doing for most of my life). Nothing new, and no complaints.
MeepMeep and I have both been making adjustments this year. She moved into a home that was ready to receive a female cat, but I've tweaked a few things here and there to adjust to her habits (since her personality and preferences are different than Choochie's were). As you can see in this photo, I moved an old folded-up comforter (that Macho and Choochie used to sleep on) to a corner of my living room because I noticed that MeepMeep likes to sleep there. I covered the comforter with some old sweatshirts that already had MeepMeep's scent on them, and now she likes to sleep there either during the day while I'm gone or late at night while I'm getting ready for bed. (Or maybe she just likes to guard my CDs and VHS tapes.)
I'm also happy to report that she stopped rolling around in her litterbox. I think she stopped several days after her arrival -- possibly after she realized that she had plenty of carpet to roll around on instead. (Thank heavens. Her coat is much softer and better when it doesn't feel like or smell like Fresh Step.)
I've taken a great deal of delight in watching MeepMeep respond to her environment in ways that Choochie did not (even thought I thought she would). For instance, after I moved here, I bought an ottoman for my feet that I assumed that Choochie would adopt as her napping spot. She never did, but MeepMeep has. I've seen her using it as a scratching post more often than as a bed, and I've walked into the room to see that it's been overturned (with an embarrassed look on MeepMeep's face). But it's still a very fun thing to see.
Aww. And she's finally adopted Choochie's old napping spot on the couch.
"Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses." (Psalm 25:12)
I have a feeling that I'm going to be pretty busy in 2018. One thing that I've noticed after experiencing rest is that I'm ready to hit the ground running as soon as I'm done resting. Sunday is usually a productive day for me at home because after a Saturday of doing nothing on purpose, I'm ready to get going.
I'm currently working full-time, but I'm also trying to line up some freelance work on the side. I'm currently volunteering at church, but I'm also open to volunteering some more. Just being open and exploring my options -- nothing is set in stone right now.
Here's what I know for sure: No matter what I end up doing, no matter how I spend my time, no matter how busy I get, I'm committed to resting one day a week. This is one of the Ten Commandments, yes, but it's something that frankly we Christians aren't always good at doing. At least, if you grew up in a Baptist church, you might not be good at resting because Baptist churches usually keep you pretty busy during your Sabbath. (During the latter half of 2009, I was exhausted and burned out from working two jobs -- so exhausted that all I really did for New Year's Eve was blog about how tired I was.)
So, 2017 has been a year of adjustments for me. I remember after I got new glasses this year, and they didn't fit right, God told me, "There's no shame in getting an adjustment." My glasses fit just fine now (after the adjustment). God also showed me recently that when you make an adjustment, that change will usually last for the long haul.
I think I'll be very content to live my life the way I've been living it for the long haul.
The other evening, during my iPhone quiet time, I was marching around my living room and noticed a couple of major adjustments that God had made in my life. I lost my job in Southlake, but God provided me with another job in Southlake. I lost my cat, but God provided me with another cat. So, my life is different in many ways... but it's also the same in many ways. God restored some things. So, I stopped marching around my living room and prostrated myself in tears while I thanked Him.
Of course, 2017 isn't over yet. I just thought I'd jot down my thoughts about this very unique year while I had the chance. After all, I won't get a do-over.