A Delightful Chance Meeting

Every now and then, in our travels, we cross path with people purely by chance in following a spontenous whim. My husband and I have been camping for the past few days at Shakamak State Park in Jasonville, Indiana, enjoying some peace and quiet on the weeknights of the Fall season when children are in school. This afternoon, my husband sponteneously took me to Boot City in the nearby city of Tere Haute to get me a pair of boots, because he said I needed a pair to go with my cowgirl hats. And as I often do on such a trip, being in the car and needing snacks to stay awake, I developed a craving for Asian snacks. So, we asked Google for the nearest Asian grocery store from our location, and that’s how we found Asian Market in Tere Haute and met Mrs. Ly (pronounced “Lee”).

Mr. and and Mrs. Ly have opened up this small Asian food market “to have something to keep busy” after raising 4 kids. On one weeknight every 2 weeks, after the store closes, she teaches a cooking class on the 2nd floor above the store. I had so much fun chatting with her, sharing about our families and comparing life as Asians in Los Angeles vs Tere Haute, I could have stayed there for hours. When it was time to leave, I had to get a few pictures with her. And along with the snacks, I also bought her cookbook and had her sign it. I can’t wait to add the dishes in her cookbook to my family meal repertoire, and on my next trip out this way, I think it will be fun to fit her cooking class into the itinerary.

So next time you have a craving on your travels, follow it. You just might meet someone as delightful as my Mrs. Ly.

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New Adventure Ahead

Time sure does fly!  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I wrote a post in this blog, and boy, do I have a lot to update my readers!

I last left you with the news of embarking on a new career in IT industry, sharing with you all the challenges of doing so at my age, and with no field experience in the business world for the past 25 years while I was raising my children and being self-employed.  Well, it has been an interesting road for the past year and a half.  It took me about 6 months of going through interviews only to be told that while my list of skills was impressive, I didn’t make the cut because I lacked recent experience, before landing my first job with a small  IT services company.  Yes, first, because it didn’t work out.  It turned out to be a very bad situation that I will save for possibly another blog.  I got fired after less than 3 months because I dared to push back and drew a boundary for how much abuse I would take.  I suppose having been independent for so long, I just didn’t have it in me to just lie down and let people walk all over me.  Anyhow, after crying a lot, I moved on.

I spent about 3 months just healing emotionally and nearly giving up on working in the IT industry, but with the support of my husband and a network of friends, I found the strength and determination to try again.  Through a lot of coincidences that I believe were orchestrated by God, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a part-time tech at DataSmith Technologies.  The position was for a postal meter repair tech, but I figured it’s not a bad place to start, so I answered the ad.  I got a call back in about 15 minutes, and after a phone interview of about 30 minutes, was hired on the spot.  Long story short, this turned out to be the perfect opportunity I’d been looking for.  I now have a terrific boss who recognizes the value of my experiences raising my kids, running a large household, and managing myself.  In a few weeks after I started working for DataSmith Technologies, I was given other tasks to do besides repairing postal meters, and in less than 3 months, was promoted to the position of Vice President of this small IT services company and given the freedom to learn and grow as much as I want to.  I’m treated more like a business partner than a mere employee.  I couldn’t have asked for a better boss or work environment.  Comparing the previous job and this job, it’s like hell vs heaven!

So there you have it, a summary of my one-and-a-half-year-long journey back into the business world after being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling for 25 years.  All I can say to anyone reading this is:  Never give up on your dreams.  If you’re looking for a job, I want to encourage you to always believe in yourself no matter how much the world rejects you and tells you that you’re not good enough.  Somewhere out there is the person or company who will value the very things about you that others cannot see or find objectionable.  Keep searching for that!


Fifty-Three and Finally Free

Today is my birthday, and I’m now 53.  About a month ago, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  These are events that were once far out in the future in our minds, but they have now come to pass.  Naturally, we reflected back on our lives.  We talked about the dreams we had when we started our lives together, the obstacles that came our way to modify those dreams, the decisions we made regarding our family life, and the current state of things.  It was with reluctance that we decided I would have to go back to working for somebody else (as opposed to working for myself at home), in order for us to afford the short-term medical and dental expenses to fix my temporomandibular joint disorder and save up to be able to have the retirement we’d dreamed of.

So the past 2 weeks had been an eyeopener for me, as I put myself out there again on the block to be judged by prospective employers.  I wasn’t surprised by the world out there.  I already know what that’s like.  I was surprised by my reaction to it.

How can I put every experience in 25 years that’s not defined by a job title or salary range onto a piece of paper?  Let me tell you a summary of my last 25 years that no resume will ever be able to show you.  I have devoted the last 25 years of my life to the most important project and the biggest accomplishment of my lifetime.  I’ve raised 6 human beings from infancy into adulthood.  I’ve filled their hearts with love, given them confidence, shown them how to love others unconditionally, and encouraged them to be a light wherever they go.  To accomplish this goal, I’ve learned to do many things to either trim our budget, or make some supplemental income so that we can still have food on the table.  I’ve learned to sew, cook, cut hair, diagnose and fix computers, and extend the life of any broken things that can be fixed with household tools.  I’ve been able to make some money with some of these skills.  But if you measure my worth by how much I was earning in dollars for the past 25 years, I wouldn’t be worth very much at all, especially if you compare this to the potential earnings I could have had if I’d continued to work outside the home for somebody else.  But, for 25 years, despite the economic hardship, I remained dedicated to the goal of being home with my children.  And for 30 years, through thick and thin, I kept my commitment to the one man I love.

This strength in character and determination to succeed cannot be quantified on a resume, nor can it be reflected in any job application.  Back in the days, you could meet the person who’d be hiring you, and you’d have a chance to show them your character.  But today, your application goes to the HR department, and you’re judged by how well you can make yourself look good on paper.  No wonder we have such a high rate of people who are depressed in this country!

I noticed a difference between this time and the last time I was looking for a job 30 years go.  I’m not as affected by the rejection as I was before, and I’m not as desperate to settle either.  I know who I am and what I want now, and unlike before when I could be easily intimidated, today I am free.  Yes, I am free!  I’m free from being affected by other people saying “No” to what I want to accomplish.   Back then, 30 years ago, I listened to them when they said I was too young, did not have the experience, or was wrong gender, or wrong race, etc., to do what I wanted to do.  I’m hearing the same thing today, except it’s now “You’re too old” instead of “You’re too young”.   Well, I’ve learned that it is I who will have to live with my decisions, not anyone else.  It is I who will regret letting the naysayers stop me from doing what I want to do.  I care less now what others think of me than I did 30 years ago.

What do I want to do?  I want to expand my knowledge and experience about computer and networking, and start a new career in Information Technology.  Yes, at the age of 53.  I’ll be competing in the market with people who are 3 decades younger than me.  But I’d rather try and fail, than to not try because they say I’m too old.  I’d rather go to my grave having studied hard and not get all the certifications I wanted to get, than to back down because they doubt I can do it.  It’s going to be a hard climb to convince the companies that it’s a good investment of their resources to train me, but somewhere out there is a company who still values character over pieces of paper or youth, and will be willing to give me a chance.  I’ll just have to keep filling out applications and uploading resumes until I find that company.

Let me tell ya, it sure feels good to be free!

StLouis-09122014-8239

Not quite on top of the world, but close enough for someone with a fear of height!


Father’s Day: Past, Present, and Eternity

My husband Paul and our firstborn Gawain in 1986.

Paul and our firstborn son, Gawain, in 1986.

Father’s Day, a celebration I didn’t know about till I immigrated to the United States at the age of 13.  My first experience with Father’s Day was a very sad one, as I looked around at my friends who had fathers to celebrate with, and realized how that could never be for me.  I wrote about my father in another blog, so I’ll just summarize here that I did not have the privilege of growing up with a loving father.  In fact, I knew my father had no affection for me.  So each time Father’s Day rolled around, I dreaded the day.  Sure, as a young Christian girl, I knew in my head the concept of God the Father, but what was that really like?  Having known a father who could fly into a rage and beat me into pulp, an all powerful Father God was even more to be feared than my own earthly father!  In my childhood, there had been men who tried to be “father figures” to me, but I honestly couldn’t connect with them, always being tentative and fearful.  I was one messed up girl indeed.

It took a personal encounter with God, who, with the help of a dear friend, came to rescue me when I attempted suicide at the age of 21, for me to begin to know God’s fatherly love.  (I wrote more about that in another blog too.)  As a young woman, I looked for love in all the wrong places, and did so many things I was ashamed of, to the point that death seemed a good escape.  Coming back from that low point in my life, I really started to understand unconditional love.  I’m very thankful that God brought into my life this dear friend, who later became my husband.  Through my wonderful husband I have seen an example of selfless, unconditional love.  Watching my husband interact with our children over the years have healed the wounds in my heart, as I realized more and more, how very much God has always been there for me, but I couldn’t see it at the time.  And so, Father’s Day became a happy time as I celebrate God’s fatherly love, being thankful for the men who have shown me fatherly affection, and my husband’s love for our children.  I’m so thankful that our children have been spared the pain I had suffered.

As I look across the whole spectrum of time, stretching out to the eternity yet to come, I am now at peace.  The pain from childhood is gone, replaced with wholeness and serenity.  Knowing God as I do now, I have no doubt that in the end, all will be well.  I’ve long since forgiven my father for the abuse he inflicted upon me, for as I matured and healed, I could see that he too was an abused child, and truly “knew not what he’d done” to me.  I know first hand the things humans are capable of doing out of anger and pain.  As I have been forgiven and shown compassion by God, so I forgive and show compassion to others.  I look forward to seeing my father again someday, in the presence of our loving Father.  That would be the best Father’s Day ever!


My Favorite Part of the Easter Story

Today is Resurrection Day to those who believe in God and His power that brought Jesus back to life.  It’s been over a decade now since I’d participated in all the traditional Christian activities that occur every year during this time, that whole Passion Week beginning with Palm Sunday, recounting all of Jesus’ suffering as He was tortured by men, and ending with His triumphant resurrection on Easter morning.  In trying to figure out why going through the Passion Week activities just doesn’t have the same appeal to me anymore, I figured out that it’s because that isn’t my favorite part of the Easter Story, and there has always been something missing in all of that traditional way of celebrating the life we have in Jesus.  It almost felt somehow like the movie Groundhog Day, where we just repeat the same thing every year, going through the same remembrances, and then go back to life as before.

I’ll tell you what my favorite part of the Easter story is.  It’s the stuff that happens AFTER the resurrection.  You see, to me, the resurrection isn’t the end of the story, but the beginning of a whole new story, a very exciting one!

I often see stories on the Internet of men restoring buildings that have been abandoned, buildings in which many see no beauty or value.  I love seeing these stories where people can see beauty in things others can’t, and then lovingly, painstakingly, bring out that beauty for all to see.  Well, my favorite part of the resurrection story is of God doing that with His children, and how, because of the resurrection, He’s able to come live in them and restore them.  He sees beauty in ones whom others cannot see as valuable, or ones who don’t feel valuable themselves, then lovingly and patiently restores them back to their original glory, His glory in them, His image that was their original blueprint.

It’s puzzling to me how people can accept men’s ability to restore a building, but refuse to see and accept God’s restoration power of people’s lives, restoring them from brokenness to the glory of His image that’s “ingrained” in them much like the beautiful patterns of the wood grain in an old neglected wooden cabin.  If man, in his finite abilities, can do so much to mere buildings, how much more can God who is limitless do in the hearts of people?  His work isn’t always visible, and perhaps that’s where the people have trouble seeing it, but He surely is working everyday in the hearts of many, mending the brokenness, healing the wounds, and restoring people to their original glory.  He works in the realm of hopes and dreams, of sorrow and joy, of torment and peace, of things invisible but surely felt. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is still around and raising many wounded souls back to life. And THAT, my friend, is the part of the Easter story I love to tell the most!


I Was On His Mind

He went to the cross thousands of years before I was born.   But on that day, Jesus saw into the future, and knew me.  He was thinking of me when He gave up His life to cure me of the disease of the mind and spirit that can only be cured through the transfusion of His Spirit into mine.  He ripped the curtain in the temple in two, so that there is no more barrier between me and Him.  I can now approach Him as freely as my own children can approach me.  I can now talk to Him as a child to a Father without any fear, feeling completely safe, accepted, and loved.  All this was made possible because He loved me far into the future.   He thought of me and knew that someday, I would be born.  And He waited.  Patiently he waited.   Through all the time that I was searching everywhere else for love and a place to belong, He waited.  He saw me through time, knew what it would cost for our relationship, and He willingly paid the price.   He gave up His life, enduring the worst that humanity, His own creation, threw at Him, so He and I can be connected spirit to spirit as we are today.  I am forever thankful that He had me on His mind when He was on that cross.

 

WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS I WAS ON HIS MIND
by: Ronny Hinson and Mike Payne

I’m not on an ego trip, I’m nothing on my own,
I make mistakes; I often slip; I’m just common flesh and bone.
But I’ll prove someday, just why I say that I’m of a special kind,
For when He was on the cross, I was on His mind.

The look of love was on His face, and thorns were on His head,
Blood was on His scarlet robe, it stained with crimson red.
Though His eyes were on the crowd that day, He looked ahead in time.
For when He was on that cross, you see, I was on His mind.

He knew me, yet He loved me,
He whose glory makes the heavens shine.
So unworthy of such mercy,
Yet when He was on the cross, I was on His mind,
When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.

 


The Secret Place

Halcomb GardenOver the years, and especially lately, people have commented how I don’t seem to have a button people can push, that I seem to take things in stride, don’t hold grudges and able to be friends with just about anyone.  Some have asked how I can do this.  The truthful answer is that I cannot do this alone.  I have friends for support.  But I think the deeper explanation is found in the secret place of my heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells.   This is my center of calm in the middle of a tornado, my anchor in the stormy sea.  This is where I come running to my Father as a scared and hurt little girl and go out again strong and able to handle things.

We all have this secret place.  Many go there and come out more closed and scared.  I want to tell you, that’s how my secret place used to be.  It was a lonely place, where I thought nobody could understand me or care enough about me.  I tried to handle things alone, to appear strong and together to the world.  But it didn’t work.  My whole world came crumbling down because I couldn’t hold it all together by myself.  In desperation I called out a name, the Name above all names, Jesus.  I admitted I was falling apart, that I was a failure, not worthy of His call.   He agreed with me.  Ha!  But then He said, “And I love you anyway.”   Came to find out, He’s always been there in this secret place.  I just never noticed, because I’d been taught that my heart was sinful and couldn’t be trusted, that I needed to be careful about voices there of the wrong spirits, so I shut out that still small voice of His, the very source of the strength and support I needed.  I have learned the truth since then, which is that I can trust what I hear in my heart, because that’s where He resides.

 

THE SECRET PLACE  (c) 1996  Sophie Doell

In my heart there is a place where none can harm me;

It’s a place that’s only known to You and me;

In this place, I find the strength to face each new Day;

For in this place is where Your Spirit came to stay.

In this secret place there is peace;

In this secret place there’s always hope;

In this secret place my fears and worries turn to confidence;

And I find joy in Your unfailing love.