It’s been awhile since I’ve even thought about writing a blog post – any free time I’ve had in the past, oh, six months, has been quickly gobbled up by trying to really rest. It was only yesterday that for the first time in six months I’ve felt like I been able to come up for air.
So, here’s your much-belated update on the craziness that has been my life since June…
After my graduate courses ended in May, Whit and I packed up our lives and moved out of our rental house in Blacksburg, Virginia to become temporary nomads. Seattle was the first stop on our “Jackson Tour of the US,” in which we traveled to seven states (Washington, Colorado, Virginia, D.C., New York, Georgia, Illinois) and stayed in nine cities (Seattle, Fort Collins, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Blacksburg, Washington, New York City, St. Mary’s, Chicago) between the two of us. After the traveling madness, we hopped over the Atlantic to begin our new lives in Europe.
Throughout this time, however, I had to continue working on my master’s thesis, which sucked every last drop of mental energy out of my brain. Struggling to maintain focus without an office, clear direction, or any kind of deadline, I gave up control of everything else in my life, leaving Whit to make decisions about travel plans, purchases, and other preparation.
I said goodbye to the seemingly ENDLESS weight on my shoulders when I finally finished the paper and all other requirements at the end of October, but since it was an anticlimactic finish, it wasn’t until a week or two ago that I finally feel free from the burden and pressure of *GRAD SCHOOL* that’s been consuming my life for the past two and half years!
Then, even though I finished with my degree, the new burden set in… find a job, get a visa to live in France for longer than 90 days, and supplement Whit’s missionary income. Because of European visa requirements (Americans can visit any/all countries in Europe without a visa for a maximum of 90 days every 180-day period), I became nomadic again, living out of a (very lightly packed) suitcase for 6 weeks so I could be back in France to spend Christmas with my husband.
The intent was to apply like crazy to jobs, but that is MUCH easier said than done! Let’s give a few reasons that made it challenging for me:
1. Having been burdened by a job (writing the thesis) for 1.5 years where there are no solid deadlines, little communication and direction, and getting answers to questions is difficult to impossible, I then suddenly moved on to the next thing (job search) without a clear finish line or defined vacation/time off.
2. After living nomadically for 2 months, and then moving to a brand new foreign country (where a different language is spoken) for 2 months, I had to switch countries again and live nomadically again.
3. My body decided this would be a great time to expel all of the pent-up stress and anxiety through panic attacks, which had been completely under control for 3 years.
4. Working from someone else’s home is SO difficult for me. I work really well independently, but I have a high need to have my own space that is designated for me and quiet, clean, and organized in my own way. Not having this throws me off so much.
5. I didn’t have a car.
6. Anyone who has spent time job searching knows that applying for jobs is a full-time job. Researching resume, cover letter, interview, and networking tips, perfecting your resume and cover letter, researching the company and understanding the job description, and tailoring your application to the position are all very time-consuming.
7. Add to all of the above the holiday season, and more travel!
Now, I’m in France (with my husband again – yaaaaaaaaaay!!!), Christmas is over, travel has settled down, and I’m feeling less stressed by the burdens of life (the advent season has been so encouraging, drawing me back to the ultimate goal and reason for life – to be with Christ, love Him, and be loved by Him every day). Of course, my parents are still here visiting, I’m heading back to America in just a couple of weeks (that darn visa restriction), and because there always has to be some kind of added difficulty, I haven’t had cell data the whole time I’ve been back.
BUT, even though you’re probably SO STRESSED OUT just reading this, after finally grabbing a couple of days in my (albeit too tiny, still dirty, and filled with a bunch of junk that doesn’t belong to us) OWN APARTMENT to catch up on life, I feel SO MUCH BETTER. And like I mentioned, the only reason I haven’t totally gone nuts is from reminding myself each day that the only job that matters for the day is to trust Jesus and rest in Him. If I don’t have a job, or can’t live in the same country as my husband, and we don’t save any money – it’s okay! The hope of Christmas is that Jesus came to give us life. My life is not found in success or stability or any source of comfort or pride. All I need to boast in is the work that Christ did for me on the cross.
So, this season has been ONE MILLION BAJILLION times crazier and harder than we could have ever expected!! I LIKE change! I LOVE travel. I crave adventure! But this has all been way harder than we bargained for. Fortunately, I don’t have to have anything to show you for it. I can just say, well, it’s crazy and I’ve been very stressed and we’re just trying to get by day by day. I’m still hoping to get a job but don’t currently have any leads and we honestly have no idea in which way I’ll end up getting a long-term visa to stay here. I REALLY don’t want to go back to the US and be apart from Whit for six more weeks 😦 😦 . BUT my hope isn’t found in being awesome or admirable. I can just point you to Jesus and say, He’s the one that makes everything happen. He’s the one you should look to. So yeah, whatever’s causing you strife right now, give it all to Him. Take a deep breath. Jesus loves you. Find your hope in Him.
[Above: A picture of me inside the Chateau of Versailles, because I look cheery and you haven’t seen me in awhile, and this post is a little overwhelming!]