I’m at a Crossroads

The rental market is challenging these days. I was faced with a recent ultimatum – pay $400 more in rent than my noisy, moldy (yes) apartment is worth, for month to month – since I don’t know where I want to be. Or, sign a year lease for around the same as what I was paying before. But if I did that, I’d be locked into a year lease in a place that I hate – that also isn’t being cared for by management – as it should.

I applied to live in a housing development that I was told there was minimal wait for. I contemplated my options, knew $200 more was way too much – so I made a judgment call that I thought was best – give notice on the apartment & move into this neighborhood with no wait. Bonuses to the other neighborhood included utilities included, no lawn upkeep, and easy commute.

The rental market in my area is awful. It has been since a hurricane in the fall of 2018. But with the real estate market being what it is, it’s even worse. More people here, are putting their homes on the market than ever before (at least in my memory). Rental prices have gone up, too. Competition for rentals is like it was after the hurricane blew through.

But here I am. Weeks away from moving and I am actually extremely low on the waiting list (which they don’t tell you until you apply). I’m so low it could be a year or more. Apparently, the advice given by a member of their staff was incorrect. So what do I do now? I saw a house today (I saw several), but I’m not sure it’s the one. Even though it was just listed, the management company has already said if I don’t apply today, I shouldn’t fill out the application without talking to them because it will likely be rented already.

This is quite the mess for me. And while this sounds like it’s just about housing, it’s not. It’s also about my faith. My faith has been so severely tested in the last few years. At every turn I’ve felt I’ve made good decisions that have led me to some situations that have caused extreme stress – at best. But I thought I was making very sound decisions – weighing things carefully and jumping in – under what I believed were correct motives – only to be utterly crushed. Or in the case of my home life – constant noise and drama (and calling cops and CPS on neighbors and living with mold that doesn’t get fixed properly) at home. Who wants to be stressed at work and then come home for more? I certainly don’t.

So here I am. A couple weeks shy of moving and I have no idea where I’m going. That’s certainly a problem. But maybe harder for me – am I ever going to find confidence in my decision making abilities again? As someone who has a faith that I believe should guide me and I pray and feel that I have been given wisdom to make a decision based on advice given to me about housing available to me, then it puts me in a terrible position, seems like something is off somewhere.

The truth is, I don’t want to stay in this area. But all attempts at applying for work out of the area have failed miserably. No matter what, I feel like I’m placed in positions where I’m forced to choose between options I don’t like. And then when I feel like I have more clarity, to make some decision, I end up worse off than before. What the hell is that about?

I’ve felt at such a crossroads for so long. I know what I want and hope for and yet it seems so far out of reach. I’m at a crossroads. But I’ve been here before. And my options stink. Because I can’t seem to get where I want to go.

How does one decide what to do in a situation like this? I’ll tell you what I know for sure, I long for change and the hopes and dreams fulfilled that come with moving on. But here I am. Stuck between equally crappy options that appear so far from what I hoped would be happening right now.

What would you do?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I know the last couple of years have been hard. A global pandemic, sometimes isolation from the people we care about, and so much instability in the world. It’s hard to see the good things, at times – especially when that’s what fills our Facebook “newsfeeds,” social media, and what we see on the news.

But the Good News is, there is hope. This has been a hard few years for me. I’ve lost a child I believed I would raise, I lost in love, and I faced a toxic situation that has now contributed to my health facing new challenges. But there is hope. There is always hope. No season lasts. No trial endures forever. The Good News for me is in the form of Emmanuel – God With Us – Jesus.

I don’t care much for religion and the ways in which we’ve perverted His message and the reason He came. But I do know with complete certainty that I’d be lost without Jesus. And so, that is where, in spite of all of the ugliness, where my hope lies.

I wish you & yours a beautiful holiday season. And I hope your day today is filled with peace, joy, and all the good things.

Just Around the Bend

robert frost, the best way out is always through, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

When I woke up from a nap yesterday evening, the world looked a little different. I’ve been closer and closer to that moment for a while now. I woke up this morning and that sense had settled in even deeper – though I’d had a weird {weird-bad, not weird-entertaining} dream that could have been unsettling. In the place of some of the hard stuff that I’ve walked through the last couple of years, is a quiet peace.

Perseverance is something that many of us probably feel we’re well acquainted with. I have often been told that I’m strong. But being told that got old a long time ago. I don’t particularly care for being strong. I have a similar relationship with the word perseverance. Obviously, you don’t learn to persevere or persevere well, unless you face your fair share of challenging circumstances.

Life isn’t ever going to be free of challenges, conflict, or pain. It ebbs and flows, right? So while I can’t really call this an end, it certainly feels like rounding a corner to see the most beautiful sunrise or sunset you’ve ever seen. I live near-ish to the coast. We have high rise bridges that take you over the Intracoastal Waterway. As you reach the top, the Atlantic Ocean comes in sight. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, my heart always catches in my throat. That’s a little of how I feel right now.

Here’s the truth about God, healing, hope, and working your way through hard things or difficult circumstances – sometimes it’s the littlest things you need to admit, confess, forgive, fully feel, or maybe even say out loud – that help you round that corner. If I can encourage anyone who comes across this, to keep pressing forward, I wanted to share. Life is weird and wonderful and I know when stuff is a mess, it’s hard to imagine it being any other way.

The thing is, your moment of clarity, peace, forgiveness, or healing – is just around the bend. Keep moving forward.

Eucharisteo

Eucharisteo, one thousand gifts, ann voskamp, elaina avalos,

If I told you what last night and today have been like, it wouldn’t be useful. I’ve cried many tears today and I’ve prayed with words I don’t have. Here’s the truth I had to dig for – but found- this evening, on a day when nothing makes sense and I’m worn out. Eucharisteo. In Greek, this word means, to thank, give thanks, or to be made a matter of thankfulness.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus broke bread with His disciples and thanked God the Father for the bread – which would come to symbolize his own body – broken (Luke 22:19). The word used in the Greek was eucharisteo. As He moved steadily toward his purpose – painful though it would be, and though He knew one in the room would betray Him, He thanked God for the bread. There at the so called “Last Supper,” when He knew death and suffering awaited Him – He thanked God for the bread.

It has taken me a while today to wrap my brain around where my head needs to be right now. I already knew, deep in my heart, it was eucharisteo, though. I prefer to operate from a place of joy and gratitude. It’s the sweet spot where I feel most in tune with my purpose. But sometimes I lose sight and I get bogged down in the stuff that happens (or doesn’t happen) around me. It’s easier, most certainly, to see what is and is not happening around you.

Joy is a habit: wear it.

~ Ann Voskamp

The thing is, thinking on the negativity begets more negativity. I know this to be true. So…thinking on what is true, right, good, and pure and being grateful and thankful would do the opposite, no? In the moment, though we may be in the midst of or walking into difficult circumstances, this thankfulness is absolutely where our hearts need to focus.

I got out of the habit of naming “one thousand gifts” as a practice. I started doing that after reading Ann Voskamp‘s book by the same title. I’ve said I should get back to it – I even start. But it’s in fits and stops as the hard days settle in. Today, I was ready to give up – call it quits. Donesky. I was done. I want a different story. He isn’t budging. At least not yet. And in the despair of unchanged circumstances, I grasped on things that are fleeting, that steal time & joy and which will never lead to a peaceful mind or spirit.

What will? Eucharisteo. I pulled out my extra journal and forced myself to write down a few of the moments in recent days and weeks that have given me joy, caused me to take a deep breath at the beauty, or that I got a real kick out of. I’ll take it in my purse to work every day until it is habit again. I’ll keep it there as a reminder. I’ll write Eucharisteo on my monitor at work – which I stare at all day – if I have to.

We’ve long heard the phase, “You are what you eat.” I think we are what we think. So when it doesn’t make sense and I can’t see what lies ahead, I’m focusing on what’s good. I will thank Him for every little thing I see – that reminds me of His grace & beauty. I will see the grace in the million little things around me, that are His calling card – reminders of His goodness when the weight of the world settles in and answers are few and far between.

Eucharisteo.