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The start of a brand new day.

My choice for this moment is to keep my mind on things above, or as the Bible puts it, set my heart on things above. God works in ways that I can’t even begin to understand. He’s working in me, around me, through me. I need to keep my eyes lifted upwards and not down on the pavement, as if brokenhearted or rejected. God’s plan is so much better formed than my own, and I can’t doubt the design.

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

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It’s hard not to have this question on the tips of your tongue when things go badly. You hit that job search brick wall and out comes that thought. Why me, God? How come that guy’s got a job and I don’t?

Or you suffer a loss in your family. Or you miss out on a promotion. Or you get fired from your job. Or your health fails you. Why, God?

I have no answers for this question, mainly because I’m usually the one asking the question. Deep down in me I know that God’s got it all under control, and His ways are much, much better than my ways. His plan for me is one to help and prosper me.

Asking the question offers some relief to the worrying soul because it reaches out to the God who loves us. The question makes contact with our creator. And thus, by asking the question, we can try our best to keep that relationship going. No relationship can ever survive without questionning, conversation and dialogue.

Some days you feel like you’ve hit the unemployment brick wall: you’ve done just about as much as you can and you’ve come up with nothing. Now what?

There’s that feeling of helplessness, that there’s really nothing out there in the world to do. Nothing seems to fit or match, and it just isn’t going the way you’ve ever imagined or planned it would go.

I’ve hit that point a few times. It’s a crushing, defeating, deflating feeling. You know how capable and talented you are, but that phone just isn’t ringing. It can be mentally draining, to say the least.

The only thing I know is that tomorrow is a new day. Lots can happen in a new day. New ideas can spring up, new contacts can be made, and each day has a potential.

Despite the pain, hurt, disappointment and worry, tomorrow is indeed a new day. I’m going to try to embrace it.

I don’t often have my eyes open, or antennae up, for signs. In fact, I’m downright skeptical about visible, audible, tangible signs from God–at least in my own life. When they happen to other people, in the plentiful stories I’ve read about miracles, spiritual signposts and divine interventions, I can only enjoy them from afar. Signs in other people’s lives are in the realm of possibility, a realm that I don’t necessarily inhabit.

I started memorizing verses a week and bit ago (read my other posts), and Jeremiah 29:11 was one of the first verses I memorized. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

As I previously wrote, I have never had much confidence in my ability to memorize things. I hated history classes because I had to memorize dates and names. Ignoring this blatant obstacle to my intentions, I just sat down each morning and memorized the verses (while I searched through the job ads). I had it firmly memorized for a few days.

On Saturday, I took my son out to look for some reasonably priced toys at a local second-hand shop. We love going there because you never know what you might find, and you’re almost guaranteed a major bargain. Upon entering the store and heading right to the toy section, we found a play kitchen that would be perfect for the kids, especially our toddler. Within a few minutes, we had paid for the item and headed back home.

For some reason, I decided to head back to the store a second time. I don’t often do this, returning to a store twice in one day. But I thought I would give the Halloween costumes another look.

As my son and I browsed the isles, I wandered over to the picture frames section, simply browsing the items for sale. I picked up a silver frame that had some words engraved deep into the frame. I read the first few words and I knew where the sentence would lead to: it was Jeremiah 29:11.

I don’t know if this is a sign or not, but my wife was very encouraged by this God-incidence. What’s more, the following day there were some baptisms during the church service, and I was able to witness two baptisms. The tradition is to bring a family member, close friend, to say some words to the baptismal candidate to mark the occasion. So the fiancée was called up, and one of her first words were from….Jeremiah 29:11.

Now I took it all in stride, but I’m beginning to think that God’s trying to reassure me of His plans for me. In moments when I feel that pang of panic–and it comes quite frequently–I can mentally return to these moments of reassurance. God’s in control, He knows and cares, and ultimately He’s got the plan that I can’t see.

Getting away from the gloomy task of looking and applying for work, I’ve been very keen on learning new things, reading and experimenting. I’ve decided to try as many different kinds of coffee beans available at the bulk food place, and I’ve been reading Cook’s Illustrated. For those who don’t know, Cook’s Illustrated is a wonderful magazine and online publication that offers beautifully crafted, written, and illustrated recipes for common dishes.

I happened to read a recipe for the “crispiest Roast Potatoes Ever,” and I became determined to experiment with the recipe. In my own experiment, I first used the average white potato that I bought in bulk from the discount supermarket, the kind that sells at a ridiculously cheap price for a 10kg bag. The results, using the skeleton of the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, were quite good: crisp skins, nice colouration.

After two attempts with the ordinary white potato, I decided to try Cook’s Illustrated astounding conclusion: Yukon Golds. Actually, I tested three kinds of potatoes: whites, reds, and Yukon Golds. The Yukon Gold had the perfect, and I mean perfect, amount of crispness and creamy softness in the middle. I was so pleased with the results that I couldn’t stop trumpeting about them to my wife as we ate.

I suppose the reason I couldn’t believe it was because I don’t often find recipes that work, nor do I find recipes that explain the science behind the process. Cook’s Illustrated did (and continues to do) a wonderful job at making the testing phase of cooking understandable to the common cook, and I have never been more thrilled with my roast potatoes.

Yukon Gold roast potatoes are the absolute best potatoes to use!

Continuing on in my memorization of Bible verses for the unemployed, I decided to memorize 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” 

Waves of panic encroaching on your everyday life and thoughts? Bouts of hopelessness and feelings of helplessness?

The truth about it all is that God’s got it all under control, and that He demands of us to cast our care onto him. His yoke, as it were, is light. Our yoke, clearly experienced by the unemployed, is extremely heavy.

When we cast our cares upon him, no matter how often (it could be daily, by the hour, by the minute even!), we’re living the instructions set out by God. What benefit could anxiety have for the unemployed person? It does nothing to improve, benefit, or encourage. Instead, anxiety destroys and divides the spirit, taking the false claims as truth and reality. God has our lives firmly in his hands. If we forget that, we are forgetting the truth.

1 Peter 5:7 reminds me that God cares about me in ways that I can’t understand. By trusting him, and entrusting my worries and anxieties with him, I can then experience the fullness and freedom of a life found in God.

I find it immensely difficult at times to not worry, to not be anxious about my current situation. Unemployment is a rollercoaster I want to get off, but this time it’s not letting me off so easily.

Philippians 4:6 says to stop my worrying, and instead, replace it with prayer:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (NLT)

I’m hoping that by memorizing the words of life and truth, and by keeping it closer to my heart and on the tip of my tongue, I will be able to ride the rollercoaster with a little more comfort and peace.

If I’m honest about my life, I have to be thankful for everything that I have. Skills that go unnoticed, provisions that continue to pour into my life, love that surrounds and sustains me, talents and abilities that are unique to me. So to fight my worry, a change in heart to one of appreciation and thankfulness is key.

Hoping you’re encouraged by this quick post.

For some strange reason, I’ve managed to memorize key Bible verses that are reminders of God’s Truth, especially throughout my period of unemployment. In random moments of panic and anxiety, right through to times of intentional prayer, I have found the Bible verses memorized helps me to maintain focus.

Jeremiah 29:11 happens to be the third verse I’ve memorized since last week:

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Not knowing the plan is part of my frustration, but I am reminded that it’s also part of my solution. Being goal-oriented is often a good attribute to have, but when you’re unemployed, the goal is much more difficult to achieve. The verse reminds me that God’s in control, that He is sovereign, that He hasn’t forgotten about me, and that He has designed a plan for my life that is for my benefit (and not my harm).

Unemployment brings with it such immense uncertainty, and trusting that God’s plan for us will always be for our good, will bring us back in tune with His purpose for our life. I know all too well that this faith is not always present in my life, that in my state of mind, I can spinout and think that there is no hope, no meaning, no plan. Yet the better side of me knows that Truth always trumps my own emotions and feelings. If I have the verse in my head and heart, I can quickly get off that merry-go-round of emotions that tends to take me on the verge of emotional exhaustion.

One trick that I’ve found useful in memorizing the Bible verses is to begin by stating the citation, and then recite the complete verse. Then after completely reciting the verse, end it with the citation once more. For example, here’s what I would literally say:

“Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.”

I hope this post will be an encouragement to you, especially those who are in the same situation as me.

Being unemployed can often mean bouts of insomnia, either minor or severe in duration. With a baby who wakes up two to three times a night, I sometimes find it difficult to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.

Last night, after soothing my little one back to sleep, I tried reading on the sofa. The book was interesting to read, if a little eccentric and economical in prose, and I found myself with heavy eye lids after about a half hour. My mind, however, immediately went into unemployment mode. The thoughts, worries, anxieties, and self-doubt appeared.

I had plenty of ideas that flashed before my eyes, ideas that I probably will never act upon. The other thought that followed was why I found it so hard to act on ideas that made perfect business sense in my mind, but somehow there was too much fear in me to act. Hmmm….

For an interesting discussion on the psychology of being unemployed, this site might be useful. I found the blog discussion interesting.

http://www.javelin-marketing-commentary.com/2009/02/02/javelin-marketing-unemployed-then-dont-look-for-a-job/

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What I’m reading now

"Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel," by Laura Byrne Paquet (Fredericton:Goose Lane Editions, 2007) "The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping malls, and the Search for Home," by Pico Iyer (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000). "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008).

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