February 23, 2010

Humble yourself

From Monday through Thursday last week, I was joined by two of my closest friends for a road trip three hours north to the Mendocino area of California. One came from Seattle, the other from Rochester, NY. Both were overjoyed to see sunshine.
I’ve posted a more detailed photo journal on FB, I have a more private story to tell here.

On the drive north, we discussed hopes and expectations for our time together. I admitted that I knew I needed to process my disappointment with God, but wasn’t sure what that might look like. When we got to the cabin, I was close to shutting down. I love my friends, but hadn’t realized how much I’ve withdrawn from people in the last couple months. A whole day with two other personalities was taxing my internal resources. They both asked if I was ok, and I explained that it wasn’t them at all, I was just peopled out. I made dinner and then retreated up to the loft to journal and then go to sleep.

The next day, I picked up a book I found in the cabin. (We stayed at a place called “The Lord’s Land”. A hippie commune from the 1970’s that’s now run by Youth with a Mission.) The author, Floyd McClung, has lived all over the world with his family, including raising his kids in the red light district of Amsterdam. With a title, “The Father Heart of God” (or something), I wasn’t expecting much that would help me. He had a chapter on dissappointment with God. I flipped there and started skimming through.

The short version is that the antidote to disappointment, when you want to shake your fist and ask “Why?!”, is humbling yourself. It’s taking time to sit in front of God and confess your brokeness and confusion. It’s time to check in with Him about what he wants to do in the midst of it all. Part of my fear about processing all this has been that I don’t have a model for how to handle the times when it feels like a set up only to be knocked down. My husband has withdrawn, my mother remained bitter and angry, my father just gets up and keeps going. None of those work for me.

Humble myself? Hmm...

We went out that day and hiked around. While sitting at the beach watching harbor seals, I silently asked the Lord what he wanted me to do. I heard a phrase in my head, “Ask them to minister to you.” Ugh. Really? Ugh. I don’t like being in the needy position (what if I’m let down or rejected?). I hate asking for help.

That night, I asked if they would. They were both happy to do so. One said, “That’s kind of cool, last night I sensed I was supposed to wash your feet.” Another internal thud. UGH. In many ways, I’m not worried about what people think about me. One place where I still feel embarrassed is my feet. I have a really bad toenail fungus that’s invaded all ten toenails. (Thanks, Mom, I got it from you!) In the summer, I paste on fake toenails, paint them and go on my merry way. In the winter, I don’t bother. During a foot washing, they would see my toes in all their glory.

Humble yourself. Even more.

Some guitar. Some singing. A beautiful solo (not by me!). Then they prayed for me. Some of what I remember them praying:

“I keep hearing the phrase ‘a yearning heart’. I think the Lord wants to restore that for you. Lord, please show her what to yearn for. How to hope. What to hope for.”

“Beauty, strength, endurance. They’ve become turned around in your head. Lord, I pray that you would restore those to OTRgirl as good things, not bad things you’re inflicting on her.”

After praying for a while, they washed my feet, dried them, and gave me a foot rub with lotion. I kept my eyes closed and thought about how blessed I am to have friends where I felt safe making the choice for humility.

Before this trip, every day was weighed down with a heavy, lethargic, goupy feeling. I just didn’t care, didn’t want to bother, didn’t want to invest in anyone or anything. Since we’ve returned, I can feel a shadow of that feeling fluttering around the outside of my mind, but it’s not living inside anymore.

Humble yourself and He will lift you up. Indeed.

February 11, 2010

Be careful what you toast for!

In my previous post I mentioned that we toasted, "To quitting our current jobs!" Don't worry, I haven't been laid off. Rather, a former coworker called today to ask if I'd be up for interviewing for a job up in SF. I'm definitely interested. For one thing, their pay scale starts at the salary I had before our economically driven pay cut. It goes up quite a bit, and based on my experience (and the fact that I have a perfectly good job to fall back on), I'd have no problem asking for the high end.

  • They let people work from home. Most people are in the office Tuesday through Thursday and home on Monday and Friday.
  • Less intense work environment, except for one woman.
  • I like being around the energy of a city. I miss that more than I thought I would.
  • I could take the train and bike ten relatively bike-friendly blocks to get there. (past Adobe)
  • That one woman would have a big impact on my life. She's a ball-buster mixed with "Devil wears Prada" non-directions. She used to work for my current company, so I know a little what I'm in for if I get an offer.
  • It's an hour commute each way. Which means we'd need a dog walker at least a few times a week.
  • I'm out of town most of next week (two buddies are joining me and we're heading north to a cabin in the redwoods). Sooo...I have to get my website updated in the next two days! Yikes. My skills are rustier than a pair of scissors left in the backyard all winter.
I was honest with my friend that we're trying to get pregnant. Wondered if she thought it would be lame to apply and then announce, "Woops!" She scorned my scruples, "So what?! You should still apply. Don't worry about it."

Even if nothing comes of it, it's a good reason to blast out a website in a few days. Right?

February 9, 2010

All's well...

[Thought we should expand on the Facebook announcement]

June of 2003, Jrex and I went out for a date night. He was finishing up a one-year stint of full-time cancer patient care. Working 6 days a week, on-call almost every other weekend during his “light months”, phone calls in the middle of the night, never home before 7 p.m. During dinner, his response to every ‘normal’ conversational question (“What do you think of the Baltimore mayor?” “What do you want to do for our upcoming vacation?” “What do you think about when your mind just starts to drift?”), was a tired, “I don’t know.”

In the middle of that burn out, he had to figure out what kind of research he might want to do for the upcoming year. He also had to approach various scientists at Hopkins to ask them if he could work for them. In the end, he decided on Nice Egomaniac’s lab. Jrex enthused to me, “Many of his post-docs get published in one of the big three journals. It’ll be longer than a two-year post-doc, but it should be a better launching pad toward whatever I do after that.”

We talked and prayed about it. I was persuaded by his enthusiasm and supportive of whatever he wanted to do.

His real interest was investigating the mechanisms in cells when there is repeated injury and repair (for example, every time you smoke, you injure the lining in your lung and your body has to try to rebuild). Are those sites more prone to cancer development? If so, why? (NOTE: that’s my understanding, I’m sure he could explain it much, much better) After investigating that, he wanted to jump into another lab in a collaboration and work on crystal structures (NO idea what that really means). Nice Egomaniac nodded and smiled to all those ideas, but just as Jrex was beginning to dive into all of it, Nice Ego asked if Jrex would take on a little six-month project. It shouldn’t be too hard.

It took two years to figure out that the data used by Jrex’s predecessor for his papers published in the BIG Journal was no good and non-reproduceable. Now, four years after that, he’s pulled a phoenix paper out of the ashes and it’s been accepted for publication. Obviously, we’re both vastly relieved, but...

He’s not THAT interested in what he just published, but now he has to make the best of it. It’s too late for him to investigate crystal structures. He’d wanted to combine biology and chemistry, since his real love is chemistry, but there’s little chance of that now. In the next year, he’ll be trying to pursue his original research interest in lung injury and repair. Of course, if he finds anything good, it’s doubtful that Nice Ego will let him take the data, cells, or mice with him. His upcoming challenges for 2010 are defining the questions he wants to try to answer through his research, applying for grants and applying for jobs.

Our bubbling rosé toast the night he got his acceptance from the journal? “To quitting our current jobs!”