2013 Christmas Card

I always feel a little bit like a goofball sending out a Christmas card as a single woman. I mean. I don’t have a husband with interesting stuff going on in his life. I don’t have kids. I don’t even have dogs of my own to take pictures of. So this is my Christmas card to you and a recap of 2013 (because I’m failing at my goal of blogging once a week throughout the rest of the year!).

MerryChristmasCard

2 Things About This Card:

1. I feel like it’s kind of blurry but I tried so hard to make it not. Oh well.
2. It’s incredibly difficult to put yourself, alone, on a card without feeling kind of like an idiot. Oh well. Laughing at myself.

Book updates (important things first!)

Ok, first of all, I have given myself some high expectations for this year, having read 80 books last year. But it’s been a ridiculously busy year and as of today, I’ve only read 34  (with maybe two more about to be finished). I’ve read a pretty decent amount of meh books, but here are my top three:

bookcollageGone Girl | Someday, Someday, Maybe | …And Ladies of the Club

Gone Girl was so crazy and mind-trippy and AWESOME. I also like Flynn’s book Sharp Objects; however, I avoided Dark Places because of some issues that weirded me out and I later found out it has elements of Satanic worship in it. Someday, Someday, Maybe is the debut novel of Lauren Graham (yes… my beloved Lorelai Gilmore) and I loved it so much. I can’t wait for her second book! I would recommend …And Ladies of the Club to anyone who enjoyed Gone with the Wind.

My sissy girl

I feel lucky enough to get to be an ongoing part of this wonderful little girl’s life. She is so funny and makes me laugh incessantly. The joy she brings to my life is unending. She finished third grade and started fourth this year. She excels in pretty much everything she does (two awards this year for writing/language arts!) and is doing so well at swimming. I love watching the person she is becoming – she unfolds a little more each day and she’s amazing. She is a compassionate little person who loves animals. Her tender heart moves me. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how I feel about her!

Work

I was blessed to receive a fantastic job in May at the church I attend. I had been working for a tax firm with a friend and knew my job was going to come to an end the day after my 30th birthday. I tried, in a sudden moment of panic, to take things into my control but God had other plans for me. I’ve been here almost eight months and I can’t believe how fulfilled I am at the end of every day. There are moments where I think, “Yeah, I got this. I’m a pro at this job!” and I get all caught up in my own strength and pride and God humbles me massively. He is so good and has been so good to me this year!

Dogs

Well, I couldn’t let this card go without mentioning my furry loves! In January, my family adopted a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy who was 12 weeks. She is currently just over a year – she is our wonderfully crazy Penny dog (known by a zillion nicknames, including Pennifer, Penny pup, Penny pooch, Pen-pen, and ding dong). Sadly, not long after we welcomed her into our family, the painful, heart-breaking decision was made to put Baytor down. She had a degenerative nerve disease that caused the quality of her life to drop rapidly, and she was suffering and in pain. It would have been selfish for us to hold onto her simply because we weren’t ready to let go. She will never leave our hearts – our So Big made a lasting impact on all four of us. I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend thirty minutes the night before lying with her on her bed, petting her and telling her how much she meant to me. I cried and I snuggled her for that last time. It was so special. She was put down on February 22 – and little did we know, on February 21, a tiny little rottie who would come into our lives was being born. That dog came to us six weeks later and she is now our 10-month rottie named Pepper. At first she reminded me so much of Baytor, and that was both comforting and sad. But now that’s she’s nearly full-grown, she is different different different! She is a fully, happy pup and I love that she rounds out the trio. Chole is still here. She still has no front teeth and thinks she’s the queen dog. She loves to snuggle (currently she is right against me as I type!). I love this wonky, wacky, weird pack of dogs.

doggie Collage

3 amigos (Penny, Baytor, Chloe) | Penny | Chloe | Pepper

That’s all she wrote! 2013 was a good, good year. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings me way!

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finding great

One year ago today was my last day working at Ventura College. It was a Thursday afternoon. Friday was supposed to be my last day, but I needed that day for me so I made the impromptu decision to call in sick.

Leaving work that Thursday was surreal. After all, I had left the campus every weekend for four years and returned the following week to do the same thing over and over again. Students, staff, websites. Emails, phone calls, trainings. For four years, my weeks looked the same. This day, this last day, felt both anticlimactic and breath-taking. It was a gorgeous, sunny evening, the kind of evening that bridges the gap between summer and fall. I walked the short distance from my office to my car, clicked my seat belt… and I was done. I thought I would cry as I am basically the most sentimental human being on the planet, but instead of tears filling my eyes, butterflies filled my stomach.

I was tired. So, so tired. I needed to rest. I had the giddy hope of something greater coming, some shift in my life that I couldn’t explain but could only feel deeply inside of my. The feeling was fleeting and when I tried to name or explain it, the words refused to come, but always, always the feeling came back.

I know that there are many who would say that I was being absurd for complaining about my job. If you ask anyone with a rational mind, they’d say that what I did was exceptionally stupid. Who leaves a job with a salary that was ridiculously huge for a single woman with no real responsibility? Who leaves a job with benefits that made others envious? Who leaves a job with a supportive boss and opportunities for creativity and growth? Who leaves a job with great coworkers, a job related to the very expensive masters degree he or she earned?

A 29-year-old woman bowing under the weight of job that was breaking her.

I know I left a lot of good behind, but my heart longed and ached for something better than just good. It longed for the great, and I knew, I just knew, that my job was the one thing that was holding me back from the great.

I know. I know how absurd that sounds. But I also knew that I was only ever going to be where I was if I never got brave enough to risk it all and walk away.

I didn’t walk. I ran.

It’s crazy how the doors to things opened the moment I left. As I drove off that campus, I didn’t feel dread. I left pumped. I felt like anything was possible, because literally for the first time since I started working there, anything was possible.

Something that I didn’t tell many people before I left the college was that for a while, I had felt the call to go into full-time vocational ministry. I didn’t really understand what that meant. All of those words alone made sense but together they were a jumble of something too big for me to decipher. And to be completely honest, I was baffled by the pull I felt because aside from serving in kid’s ministry and a few other small things at the church, I wasn’t involved in ministry, really.

The rest is history, as one might say. I found a ministry. In five days, I went from hesitant to volunteering and later helping to coordinate things. I job hopped. I moved around work so much that I quit telling people what I was doing because I didn’t want unsolicited criticism thinly disguised as advice. I felt lost. I was search for a firm place to land, to rest after those four exhausting years at the college. When I began working as a temp at a tax firm, I found a light-heartedness to my work that I missed the entire time I was at the college. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We were professional. We were respectful and we took our work seriously. But when it was just us, there were jokes and goofing and maybe some Russian accents. My days were filled with laughter and a joy in working that I’d never known in a professional, post-graduate field.

And then it ended. Two days after my 30th birthday, I was unemployed. I knew it was coming. After all, tax season has an end date that doesn’t change as the years move forward. It was then that I felt, for the first time, panic. I began applying for jobs in crazy numbers. Multiple copies of my resume and cover letters filled up folders on my computer. I applied for jobs in Portland, thinking I could move there because I have friends who are planting a church up there. I have never once felt like God was preparing me to plant a church, but I was desperate. I had money, but not endless buckets of it. I had time, empty hours reminding me that I was running out of cash. I had bills that didn’t understand I was unemployed.

The day after I applied for two jobs in Portland (and said a quick “If it’s Your will, God” prayer), I received a call for an interview for a job I had applied for months before. And the next day, completely unsolicited, I woke up to a call from the lead pastor of my church, asking if I’d be interested in the open administrative assistant job. Over the next five days, I was interviewed and I prayed. I was interviewed and I prayed. I was interviewed and I prayed, and I said yes.

Those few days are more surreal to me than leaving the Ventura College campus for the last time was. Because here it is, one year since I walked away from security, and here is is, four months since I said yes to full-time vocational ministry. I feel more secure than I ever have before. Saying no to something allowed me to say yes to something else: yes to the great I was longing for. In the world’s eyes, what I have is not greater. I left all of the great behind according to their standards. But I’m here to tell you this:

I’m resting on great.

God is good.

My heart is firm.

No regrets.

New beginnings

All my life I have felt pressure to be responsible. I wasn’t raised in a responsible home by responsible people and it’s always felt like everyone expected me to be the one to change that, to break that cycle. So I did. I got good grades in high school. I went to college. I did grad school. And even as the economy was tanking, I was blessed with a great job only a few months after getting my BA, and the months in between graduation and the start of my job, I had plenty of odd jobs to help me out. But I am just exhausted and overwhelmed with life right now and work has become a burden. Please don’t hear me wrong: I am so thankful for a job like the one I have. The pay is amazing. The benefits are fantastic. I work with some great people and I love interacting with students.

But my heart.
My heart is aching.
My heart is hurting.

Luke 12:34 has been echoing through my head for the last few weeks: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What I treasure has changed so dramatically in the last couple of months. I used to want the money and the prestige. I wanted to be a Dean of Students. I wanted to accolades and the attention and I thrived in that environment for a while, but that “while” has come to an end. I hate the waste I see in education. I see us cut classes and I watch the classified staff we lose and yet we have a grant that allows us to spend money to buy 110 iPads but not use any of that money of people.

I spend my days getting mad at instructors who kill the ink on our color printer and who call me with silly questions. I lose my patience with students who don’t do things the way I want them done the first time. And my love of what drives my job, educational technology, is rapidly diminishing.

Throughout all of this, I’ve heard that still small voice asking me Krista, where is your treasure?

I’ve built my treasure in all of the things that are not worth it: in technology and job security and health benefits and a ripe paycheck every month. And if that is where my heart is, all I can possibly think about where that means my heart is not.

I don’t work in a bad place and educational technology is not evil. But it’s not for me. God is calling me, and has been for some time now, to something else. My excuse for not getting involved? “I can’t, I have to work.”

So two weeks ago I quit my job. Ahhh, take that, responsibility. Also, I am the suckiest secret keeper ever so I am so glad that’s a public thing now.

(Seriously, two different friends have told me in the last couple of months that they were pregnant but I couldn’t tell anyone. TORTURE.)

I’ve had some interviews but I don’t have anything lined up. Through some miscommunication at work, it appeared to some that I do, and I’m just going with that because it’s making my departure a little easier. I have, after all, worked here for four years and a lot of people were shocked when they found out. But it’s out there now. There are reminders everywhere that I’m leaving. My office is emptying out. Its walls are blank and I’m packing my stuff in boxes. Yesterday an email was sent out from the district HR about the available position. My farewell party was also confirmed yesterday. There’s no going back. I will leave a 3:00 pm on September 14th and won’t be an employee here anymore.  The hardest part of this whole process is saying see you later to the faculty and staff who have supported and loved me through these years.

Thank you, Jesus, that I leave here and go directly to a Woman of Faith conference in Anaheim. I’m going to need faith and You that night.

But I am otherwise totally calm and feel an amazing sense of peace. (Minus last night when I told my friend Megan about quitting. I pretty much worked myself into the most overdramatic frenzy ever in my life thinking she was going to yell at me and then murder me. Let me just state, for the record, that I don’t actually have friends that psycho. I have a brain that psycho.) If you know me, you know that I am not naturally a peaceful person. I am BIG and DRAMA and CRAY-CRAY. I like to make things seem so much worse than they are so when that “worse” thing never happens, the sense of relief I feel is gigantic. (Also, for proof of drama, please refer to the section on pregnancy secrets and torture.)

(Sick, huh? And this coming from the girl with a graduate degree in the counseling field!)

So yeah, I’m a tad bit on the panicky side in my typical, everyday life. In the past, I’ve always agonized over starting a new job even when everything is lined up perfectly. I worry it isn’t the right choice. I have no problem deciding things like that until after they’ve been decided and then I wonder if I made the right choice. This makes it clear to me that what I am feeling now, sadness at missing my coworkers but utter peace about this entire process, isn’t from me. It’s from Him. A verse a friend send me about 18 months ago has come to mind many, many times during these last few weeks:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6 – 7)

Yeah. His peace, not mine. ‘Cause I think it’s clear peace doesn’t come naturally to this girl.

Obviously I’m going to look for a new job. I’m not made of unlimited amounts of money. But I’ve worked out how I can live for a few months if I am careful. I am incredibly excited to be still and wait to see what God has in store for me and what opportunities He brings to me. For so long it’s been so easy to say “No, Lord, I am committed to something else and can’t serve you in the way you want.” I have every excuse to say “Yes!” now.

Yes, Lord. I say yes to You.