Wednesday, April 11, 2018

new update, same joy

As I was thinking about what to write, I realized that these are pretty much all some variation of the same thing.  Now, on the other hand, the months I don’t write you could hear about the regular monotony of my life, which still is too busy to accommodate things like cooking or grocery shopping at regular intervals.  

So get ready some more stories about my job, day trips, further travels and the Lord’s faithfulness (not particularly in that order). Sorry, no pictures – just 1000 words.

Next week I’m going to Bulgaria.  Do you know anything about Bulgaria? I didn’t but now I know that it’s between Greece and Romania and there are at least 5 ways (according to YouTube) to say “hi,” two of them starting with the “zd” sound.  So I’ll be saying “bye” more than “hi” because for that I can say “ciao.”

So why Bulgaria, this country I can’t find on a map and am already prepared to say bye to? For years our church has supported this organization Mission Possible ( that serves in Eastern Europe.  They’re really cool.  Back in the day (when it was needed) they used to do a lot of Bible smuggling, then when communism fell they helped translate the Bible into modern Bulgarian and now their mission comes from Ephesians 4:12, equipping the local believers for God’s service.

The organization is pretty much ran by Eastern Europeans but a few times a year they’ll have small groups from other places come visit too.  In February the directors, Ivo & Mirjami, were visiting and invited me to go with a group from a church near Chicago.  I contacted the coordinator, prayed about it a few days, and now, here I am, staring at a suitcase that isn’t packing itself.   

Ten of us are going, I don’t know any of them but I’ll get to know them on the 18th at the Bulgarian airport (I don’t think it’s too big).  We’ll be spending a few days hosting a retreat at the MP retreat center in Dobromirka (I just put that in there because it sounds so Bulgarian).  I hear my role will be just chatting with people about what they’re learning and how it can play out in their daily lives, plus we may play Bunco.  I don’t speak Bulgarian but I’m pretty sure my charm breaks down language barriers (and there will be translators).  The rest of the time we’ll be visiting the Roma (gypsy) villages and doing kids activities and helping with the feeding program, and getting to see the MP Baby Box program for new moms.  We’ll be there until the 25th.  On the 25th we’re going to Rome for 2 days, I don’t know why but…when in Rome… eat gelato, visit old places, whatever.  Side note I have been studying Romans in BSF this year so that’s a cool tie in.  I fly home from there on the 27th.   And sometime after the 27th I’ll let you know how closely my expectations matched my experiences.

Now you may be thinking, “But Joy, can you take 2 weeks off of your job?”  And you’d be right to question that because currently I can’t even take 1 day off.  So…I QUIT!  Or at least I tried to L.   My job has never been a good fit for my skills, personality or, more recently, priorities, but God told me I needed to put my hope in Him and be happy about it.  But also, “Are you a slave?  Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it.” (1 Corinthians 7:21NLT).  This Bulgaria trip was a push, with a firm deadline, to get free my job so I let my boss know.  I was quite proud of my grown up decision, but all that started being challenged about an hour and a half later when my boss responded.  He wanted to let me know that he understands that this is the Bay Area and I’m looking for an exciting career path(not really), and I don’t have one (that’s true) but he thinks he can find something in the company that would be a better fit for me (I’m skeptical) and asked to have until the end of May to come up with a proposal.  I told him I’d wait it out, but no matter what I’m not staying with my current job.  He has some ideas and I’m continuing to pray that I won’t be tempted, on either side, to step out of God’s perfect will.  Unfortunately, since I didn’t quit, I’ve been spending all my time training a temp and delegating.  I did tell the bosses that by the time I get back they should have my replacement ready for me to start training.  This will be like the time I came back from a different trip and my desk was relocated. 

When I switched into my current position I really liked my boss (a different one, the one who always sang Joy to the World to me) and assumed he had my best interest in mind and would make decisions that were good for me, recently I realized he didn’t.  So I was angry and felt cheated and overwhelmed that my new boss also wasn’t going to be looking out for me, that I have to figure it out all on my own.  Then it hit me…God does have my best interest in mind and He’s ultimately in control.  He knew exactly what I needed these past three years and He knows exactly what I need going forward and will make sure I am provided for.  This may seem like some obvious trite Christianeese, but NO it hit me practically and applied to this situation in my life directly, like a lightning bolt.   I need to stay under His protection and not be concerned about whether or not my replacement is going to get paid substantially more than me, or all these other thoughts of discontentment.  He knows what I need and I’ll get it, no regrets.

Enough about work, Friday I’m going to New York.  I, I justified the trip because it will make the flight to Bulgaria shorter.  Also my sister, Julie, is coming with me, with none of her kids.  So we’ll do New York things, or sleep and drink coffee. If you’re in town we should hang out. 

Other trips this season include going down HWY 1 when my friend Heather came to visit and Yosemite when my friends from Albuquerque came. I’ve been really appreciating getting to spend time in Northern California; it’s really pretty and diverse.  And visitors are great.  But obviously I’m OK with leaving too, actually I just got my hotel confirmation for Hong Kong, I’m going there and Taiwan in July for 10 days.  See why the job is cramping my style. 

Maybe on one of these journeys I’ll see you, or you can visit me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Happy end of summer - and what a summer it's been

Usually these newsletters are just bursting out of me, but this time it seems a little more forced.  Then I thought it was too late to write Sunday night…because it was dark…but it gets dark at 7:45 so I can’t really schedule my life around daylight.  So I got to starting on Sunday but couldn’t finish because I got distracted by macramé (more on that later), then Monday I was almost finished but wanted to hold out for some exciting job news to share with you.

As far as my job goes, summer is really slow, which suits me just fine.  I see my boss about once a month and he’s got into the habit of starting the conversation (after singing joy to the world) by asking me when my next vacation is.  Usually I have something to say.

Trip 1a: At the end of May/beginning of June I went to Spain with my friend Carrie.  She had to go for work and I went as moral support, or something.  While she made appearances at her conference I walked the streets of Barcelona eating croissants and drinking café con leche.   Then she would come back and we’d eat other small portions foods and walk more.  It was really ideal.  We did not master the art of the selfie, but here is a picture this guy took of us in front of the Sagrada Familia with his dog. 

Trip 1b: After Barcelona I met Grant and Kandy in Ibiza.  Now if you have preconceptions of Ibiza, stop there…this is me...and Grant and Kandy. Grant’s aunt lives there and it’s very pretty.  Here I am with Kandy somewhere up high.

Trips 2&3: LA times 2.  The first time was to visit Esther and Dan and their unborn baby.   I went to help encourage Esther during her final trimester; I did this by eating and napping along with her.  The 2nd trip was for the summer conference and that’s always great.  I taught the 1st-3rd graders about the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.  If only I had a picture of the dorky hats I made them make.  They complimented the fanny packs of truth they made a previous lesson very well. 

Trip 4: Mascota, Mexico.  After Barcelona I was thinking I would never be able to low budget travel again…but then this Mascota opportunity came up and, if you’ve been reading these for the past ten years, you know I can’t say no to Mascota.   I was invited to go down to help with a Vacation Bible School.  When I was praying and talking to people about going my dad said something like, “well, you don’t seem to like kids very much, but they like you and you do a good job with them.”  Then I was thinking it would be very impractical to go because I had already taken a lot of time off work, but my boss said he was OK with me going because it would help him earn points toward heaven.  With such resounding support how could I not go!    It was great, as always.  And not just because of the churros and tacos and the walking.    It was also great seeing God provide in spite of our lack of planning and seeing how much the kids appreciated us being there and reconnecting with people.  Here’s a group picture with a family (of sisters with lots of kids)that invited us to their house one afternoon to thank us for the camp.

And another picture of a boy with some awesome sideburns wearing cowboy boots…just because.

Trip 5: After Mexico I was sure I wasn’t going anywhere else.  I told my coworkers I was committed to being around.  Then about one week later my uncle passed away and I went to Eugene, Oregon with stops in Grants Pass on the way up and down.  Not great circumstances but good to reflect on his life and fun being with the cousins that usually I only see like once a week.

Those were the main ones then sprinkled in were beach trips and hiking and brunches and being with lovely people. Every time I have an awkward or difficult interaction with coworkers I just am so grateful for the extreme flexibility I have, and hope God continues to show me how to use my time wisely.

But now I’m not traveling so I’ve taken up crafting…it’s practically the same.  I think I’m going to need to start wearing glasses because of cross-stitch, and my fingers are numb from macramé (plus the lack of sleep from finishing just a little more).  Then I saw this blog to make your own shirt without a pattern or really sizing, I was too cheap to buy fabric to try it out on so I bought this fabric for $1.50 at the thrift store, it’s not going to be pretty.  Last week I started Bible Study Fellowship again (Romans this year) and we were supposed to say something interesting about ourselves and I had nothing to say.  I was thinking about my old lady crafting habits, but since my group is mostly old ladies I didn’t think they would really think it was all that unique.

And for the job news I got a new trailer today! It still doesn't have a bathroom and has less privacy but I've been assured it will make me happier.  Aren't you glad I held off on sending this email until I had that news.

I hope you're doing well and learning lots and detesting what is evil and clinging to what is good (Romans 12:9)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fall, Winter and Finally Spring

It seems like I start the majority of these saying, “wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written.”  Maybe I should just resign to the fact that I’m only writing twice a year and a many are probably thinking that is quite sufficient.  But folks, if I write less than that it will be awkward, like Christmas cards where people try to think of the most epic thing that happened ALL year and come up with…well you know…like what they ate at one restaurant they went to.  Pretending that these are semi-regular updates takes off a lot of pressure.

Through the fall I was able to keep up my “work-from-home Fridays” schedule, and that allowed me to continue settling into my home, go to brunch a lot and even fit in a few trips.  In October I hit up NY, NJ and PA for what I classified as a “long weekend,” in November I spent a week in LA for my cousin’s wedding and other visits and December I went down to San Diego/Mexico.   I really like visiting people so if you’re someone I stayed with for free and without even bringing a hostess gift (my sister is so much better at that than I am), thanks, it was great, and cheap!

Other than visiting people, I also had the opportunity to go over the border and visit Door of Faith orphanage in Baja (  I had been once in college overnight with a roommate, but this time I got to go with a group to pass out Christmas stockings (that we helped purchase) to the 125 kids there. I’m sure it’s changed since I was in college, but really I think this time I just was impressed by different things.  It’s an awesome place with such a strong emphasis on creating a stable/family-like environment.  I mean so many times they said stuff like, “in a family, you learn how to cook, so here they learn how to cook,” or “in a family you don’t get cut off when you’re 18 so here we’re involved for life.” My 5-year old niece Stella summed it up nicely when she said, “I thought it was going to be sad, but it wasn’t…and they have their own dogs.”

Unrelated, during one of those trips my boss decided we should hire a temp to help me out.  This is funny right? because I was getting all my work done in less than 30 hours.  But really it was going to be someone who would sit in the trailer at the refinery so I wouldn’t have to walk through the mud and avoid the port-a-potty.  After exactly one recommendation and a very strange interview we hired someone with 0 computer skills to do a job that is 100% computer based. It was a very stressful two months, but then I got to fire her and got a lot of flack (and 3 months later it keeps trickling in).  But I have this boss who thinks I can do no wrong and he said if anyone has a problem working with me that’s their problem.  This is the same boss who wrote on my annual review that there is not one thing he could think of to tell me to improve on.  He’s like the overly supportive parent I never had. 

Anyways, now I don’t have anyone helping me and in January/February we had this huge project and my 30 hours doubled to 60 hours.  How do people do it? This whole working thing?  I mean look at this picture of my fridge (don’t be fooled that peanut butter is empty):

Fortunately it’s dying down and my boss said I can go back to my afternoons of meditation and iced tea soon.

So working more also means I’m around my coworkers more.  When they used to ask me, “Joy, how can you handle working here?” and I would say, “four days a week, that’s how I can handle it.”  Moving to 6 days has really pressed me.  I thought it would help if I carved out a little more personal space in the trailer.  Maybe I could work better if I didn’t shuffle papers so much and heard a little less lunch-time chatter (a few weeks ago a real sentence began with “Well, the last time I got out of San Quentin…” )  The project manger was going to get right on moving another desk into the portion of the trailer that isn’t really used.  He seemed real gung-ho but then the enthusiasm died down so I followed up with him and he said there was mold.  That’s what bleach is for, right?  But then I saw it. 

We’re supposed to be getting a new trailer now (2 months after we discovered the mold).  I am way more excited about that prospect than I ever thought I would be.  I mean it’s still going to be in a refinery and have no plumbing.

But work is good, right?  It teaches me a lot about human nature.  I want to believe if I do kind things to my coworkers they will in turn do their jobs better; turn things in on-time, respond to emails, follow through, have manners, etc.  Similarly, I think if I’m the fun aunt and let my nieces and nephews sleep over and buy them ice cream we’ll have a nice pleasant time and they’ll sleep in past 5:45.  This is not how life works. And of course it doesn’t, I shouldn’t be surprised…I mean look at my life.  God gives me so many good things, all good things, yet my behavior doesn’t change.  What do I learn from this?  He continues being good to me, but He isn’t doing these good things to manipulate or coerce me into doing what He wants.  He just really, really loves me and wants me to be who He created me to be.  So also, as I serve, or give, or act Christ-like I can’t be motivated by the response of others.  I have to be motivated by love for Him and His love for me and continue with that motivation even when things aren’t going my way.   

So this was my big work-lesson the last few months.  But now I’m onto a new one:
Just last week God gave me 2 Timothy 2:4 “No one serving as a solider gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.”  So when my coworkers are talking about trips to San Quentin, or how drunk they got the night before or $1,000 tennis shoes and all these stories you would not even believe, I don’t need to concern myself.  That’s none of my business; my job is verse 8, to “keep my attention on Jesus.”  And somehow with my attention on Him he’ll show me how to respond when real life issues are coming up and I’m surrounded with people with zero capability of dealing with them.

So that was a lot about work but here’s a little reflection I wrote but don’t know how to transition into it, think if this was in newsletter format this would be a side-bar:

Sometimes I fail at adulting: like forgetting to pay rent, and, well you saw that picture of my fridge, and then I realize my hair isn't even clean enough to go to work in a refinery. I mean sure, I have bright moments too, like Joypardy 2.0. 

But where is the balance?  And a friend reminded me recently that were not adulting, it's not a game. We're actually adults. Who have to keep doing grown-up things, because we grew-up. But it's also nice when you're sick and your dad stops by to pick up your laundry for your mom to do.  Or when you’re sick again and just give up completely and stay at your parents so you don’t have face the empty fridge and they offer you bottomless cups of tea.

I have all these other stories to tell about what I eat when I have more than capers in the fridge and there was a whole fiasco with rain entering my house and my landlords building me a porch cover.  Or maybe you really wanted to know that I bought a cozy little heater that looks like a fireplace and my sister got me a Woodwick candle that crackles so I can pretend the fire is real.  And I’ve been doing BSF this year, studying the gospel of John, and it’s really great but a few weeks ago I ditched and went to dinner with my sister and that was really great too.   And suddenly in the midst of all my crazy February work I had three perfect weekends; I went to Santa Cruz with church and Texas for “work” and hosted my college roommates.  And those trips were only possible because one night when I was driving home God told me how to make a spreadsheet that I could use to delegate responsibility.  And then this weekend it’s SPRING weather and it’s not raining and I am a new person.  But this is already very long so I’ll fill you in in person next time, or you can share your stories with me.  I’ve decided in spite of the fact that people don’t always conform to my ideals I still really like being w

Sunday, August 21, 2016

End of summer update

Hi! I just realized I haven’t written since February and I’m sure you agree that it has been way too long.  More than once I thought I about it, but either was too lazy or realized it’s probably better if I don’t share everything (see, I do have a filter).

When I last wrote I was debating whether I should switch departments at my job or stay with the same one.  I switched.  I think it’s good, I now know what I’m supposed to be doing, and most of the time I know how to do it.  Also I got a better office, with a window, and negotiated working from home on Fridays.  I also had fish for a little while, but I killed all 12 of them and switched to plants, people are less judgey when they die. Another perk of my job is my boss is only in town every other week and for some reason thinks I get off at 3. So when he’s around and sees me working until almost 4 most days he’s really impressed.  Plus I’m drama free (his words) and regularly bring him cookies or fruit.  The downside is that in the mornings I have to work in a refinery trailer.  It is really dirty (in every sense of the word) and doesn’t have a bathroom but I’ve been decorating; they really love me there.  

And, in case you were wondering, the sign hasn’t worked, but that might be a good thing because one of the guys did give up tobacco, sugar and drinking one week and was terrible to be around.  Actually quite a few of my coworkers have been terrible to be around lately, but nothing like workplace conflict to keep me humble. 

The spring/summer I went on a few trips and fortunately saw many of you.  One of the trips was to Chico with my college roommates (minus Katharine).  It was a little startling to realize it had been 10 years since we graduated but such a blessing to not only reflect on the Lord’s goodness while we lived together, but how He has continued to be faithful since then.  Here are 2 pictures from the weekend; the one with a very sad baby Tirzah was taken right before we left.  

Also this summer friends came to visit and I got to do all sorts of Bay Area exploring, it’s very pretty here and those work from home Fridays come in handy.

But guys, I made a local friend too (move over mom).  Here’s how it went down.  My friend Jenn was in town and we met up for lunch at a coffee shop. At this coffee shop I saw this girl reading her Bible so I strategically sat down next to her.  Then I pulled out a really classic conversation starter like, “Hi, I see you’re reading your Bible, we’re Christians too.”  I then pretty much told her I have no friends and asked her if she would be mine.  She was like, “oh yeah sure let’s exchange numbers and I’ll text you,” but never did.  Anyways, I’m not that easily deterred so I followed up with her and now we’re legit friends. But she stays up too late so I’ve learned I have to limit hanging out so it doesn’t conflict with my sleep schedule. Here’s a picture of me with her friends at the beach on 4th of July.

Since I moved back, almost two years ago, I’ve been living with my parents (and whoever has been living with them) and it’s been great.  But then my aunt’s neighbor was getting rid of these really awesome dishes and I became the proud owner of approximately 50 pieces of hand painted Mexican dishware; ashtray and cat shaped sugar bowl included.  They were boxed up and stuck in the attic with those wooden salt and pepper shakers I made a while back (remember).  Anyways, these dishes got me thinking that maybe it was time to move out.   Contrary to popular belief, my parents did not agree, but my dad and I also don’t see eye-to-eye on the dishes.  I mean it’s not that the dishes made me move out, but I think the Lord used them to get me to think about how I could be serving Him differently living on my own.   Long story short, at the beginning of August I moved to a 450 sq. foot attached in-law unit a whole 1.5 miles from my parents.  My coworker pointed out that it’s essentially the same size (and shape) as the trailer, but it’s not dirty and it has a bathroom so it’s much better. 

After completely switching out three couches (evidently visualization isn’t one of my strong-suits) I’m mostly settled in…as long as it stays warm; I’m not quite sure where I’m supposed to put coats.  So feel free to come visit.  But don’t come next weekend because, although the winning couch has a pull out bed, it’s already reserved.  But really you should come because I’m not used to this much alone time, right before I moved there were 6 extra people staying with us.  Overall it’s been great, I’ve been watching the Olympics, having people over, obsessing over Craigslist, eating the same things over and over and nesting.  And I’ve been learning a lot too, like don’t trust Ace Hardware’s color swatches of wood stain, and cantaloupe doesn’t freeze well, or, more specifically, it doesn’t defrost well.   And maybe I’ll learn a little of how to practice what Paul was living in Acts 28:30-31 “Then he stayed two whole years in his own rented house.  And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.”

Here's a picture of my current view, from my winning couch with the shelf my brother build me and I stained. 

Well, that about sums up the past 6 months, give or take a lot of lessons in Proverbs 19:21 “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”  But no one wants to read about potentially great things that didn’t happen.

What’s going on with you?