Journey has finally changed!: ie. no longer homeless

Journey has finally changed!: ie. no longer homeless

Otherwise known as: I am no longer homeless:-)! I now have an apartment of my own. I spent New Years Eve in my own place, and I am so very grateful to God.  I do not miss that homeless shelter one bit…. and, yet, I don’t believe that I’m about to say this, but I am actually glad I went through it. I did get a romantic partner out of it, which I would have never expected…; I also got a dear young friend, who just had a little baby… so I am now an “Aunt” since I consider the mother to be the younger sister that I never had. And I have learned what I can tolerate when I have to. I also learned to trust in God even more than I thought I already did. I learned how important it is to get rest for my body (thanks to the lack of it at the shelter), and how desperately I need quiet and privacy (again, thanks to the lack of it at the shelter). I’ve learned to be careful to have a healthy diet. I may no longer end up being a “night owl”; I used to go to sleep at 1 or 2 in the morning, and then sleep through to 11 or 12… or 1. Now I wake up at 7-8 am, and go to sleep by 9… this after nearly a year of waking up at 5:30 am and having to leave the dorm by 6:30 am, and trying to go to sleep before 10 (lights out was at 11, but I tried to get to sleep before that). I may end up neater as a result of this: my new romance likes to be neat – I would pick a guy who likes to be neat <good-natured roll of eyes>… I personally tend to be a mess (just ask my family or close friends). Maybe my guy will get me to reform??… could be… And after living with  some women who were anything but neat, I’ve realized how unpleasant a mess can be.

A new part of my life journey: we’ll see if I can correct the mistakes I made in the previous parts of the journey. I’ll also see where the romance goes. I’ve gained confidence from being loved and finally having a man in my life as attracted to me as I am to him. It took me until I was 53 (the romance started on my 53rd birthday, as a matter of fact), but truly: better late than never!

I’m also planning on working on a doctorate in history. I haven’t forgotten that. I’m trying to pick up on the French (already had one European language with the German, need a second one). I’m still working on what area of European history that I want. Medieval, Renaissance, or 18th century? Don’t know yet. That’s something to work on. It will be English/British history: that much I know.

Dreams are wonderful things… and I am grateful to the Lord for the chance to dream these dreams in my own apartment.

The picture is of Konstanz, one of the towns in the previous part of my journey – not where I live now <grin>… I would love to get back to it while I’m doing the doctorate, though… or  before:-)

 

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and waiting, and waiting, and waiting….

and waiting, and waiting, and waiting….

Well, STILL on the waiting list. Was supposed to be in the apartment by now. One of the ways we comfort ourselves around here is to remind ourselves that God has lessons we can [continue to] learn at the shelter. I’m willing to learn, but I wish the class would finish up for the semester!! The Lord understands…  Another saying is that what doesn’t kill us, strengthens us: if this “exercise” (being homeless) is meant to STRENGTHEN me, just what is the Lord planning for me that needs that much extra strength?? Yikes!!  I’m not doubting the Lord here, and I’m not being disrespectful (and the Lord knows that, even if some my readers don’t know me enough to realize that): I’m just tired and frustrated, and sometimes quite angry. My Tourette’s medicine even stopped working for me, and that had to get adjusted…. not that there’s any STRESS HERE that could set off my tics <caution: dripping sarcasm>. The doctors have found medicines that work much better, though. I’m VERY grateful to the Lord for that (and grateful to the doctors too). My Dad used to say that if I’m angry with God, I might has well tell God: the Lord will know it anyway, and can easily handle it, and God wants me to get it out of my system. One of the reasons I was angry about still being here, after being told that I’m on the top of the waiting list, is that I desperately wanted to be out of the shelter before the worst of summer. We have to walk to get breakfast and lunch, and to wait at bus stops to get to libraries or stores (etc.). I can’t handle waiting out in the heat and humidity; my body can’t stand the heat.  It’s the number one reason why I left Florida: it’s not that it doesn’t get as hot as Florida (- it sure can), it’s just that the intense heat only lasts about 4 months at the most. In Florida, the summer basically lasts nine to 10 months: and that was the NORTHERN part of Florida. The other main reason I didn’t want to be in the shelter in the summer – esp. not in August. – is because it’s an emotional draining time for me (when I’m already physically drained by the heat and sun).  Four years ago at this time, especially during this part of August, Mom was entering the final phase of the pancreatic cancer. I wanted to be in an apartment by now, so that I’d have a place to rest and to have some privacy for grieving.  The grieving process is on-going. I miss her. Terribly. I won’t wish her back to suffer more (!!), but I miss her terribly. Mark, Paul, and I were blessed to have a loving mother who loved us for who we were, and who always wanted the best for us. Mom and we didn’t always agree on what “the best” looked like for each of us, but we knew she loved us each deeply.  I have met too many people at the shelter, and in the homeless community at large, who have NO idea what it’s like to have a loving mother who cares for them. In some ways, I am glad that I am here. There are people here, half my age, who can use a mothering (NOT Smothering) figure to care about them, and to let them know that there are people who treasure them as they are. So I guess the Lord does have lessons for me to learn: and have lessons in love that I can teach others. My parents may not have been perfect (no humans are), but they were they best parents that one could possibly have. It’s the fourth anniversary of being privileged to give back to Mom just some of the love that she gave to me.

A note about the image I used.  There were a number of choices, but the Rose grabbed my attention:  it  reminded me of Mom. Mom’s middle name was Rose, and mine is too. She was named for her beloved father’s mother, who died just a few months before she was born. Her grandmother Rose Ruhl must have been incredible woman, because her daughter-in-law (Mom’s mom, and my beloved grandmother) adored her. My mom was given her mom’s name for her first name, and Rose for the middle name. When I was born, apparently, there was no question that my middle name was going to be Rose. To this day, I frequently request people to call me Donna Rose, and not just Donna.  If I had married and had had a daughter, that little one would have also had the middle name of Rose — or maybe I would have given it to her as her first name instead. I find the flower to be a very resilient flower & a beautiful one. The Lord knows that I have learned to let Him teach me to be resilient, and I’m told at the shelter that I have an inner (and <surprise to me> an outer) beauty that I don’t give myself credit for.  Mom, you would be having fits and more fits about me being in a homeless shelter, but I promise you that the Lord has a purpose in this and, despite my occasional anger and frustration, I am grateful for what the Lord is teaching me, and for how He is using me in this situation. The Lord is pulling me through this, and is strengthening me for more work.

 

Oooops, still here (at Camp Happy Homeless)…

Oooops, still here (at Camp Happy Homeless)…

Ooops — I’ve been forgetting to get to my blog! Sorry about that. I’ve been so busy reconnecting on Facebook, that I’ve forgotten about posting here… no excuse, but at least it’s an explanation. As you can see from the title, I am STILL at the homeless shelter. Sigh!! However:  I am in my last weeks here. I am on the waiting list for the apartments where I’ll be moving to, so it’s a matter of “WHEN” I’ll move and NOT “if” I’ll move. I thank the dear Lord for that. I got on the waiting list for the senior/disabled housing (I qualify under the disabled label) on the day before my birthday. I spent my birthday knowing that I will not be homeless for long.  Next week (July 7), I will have a phone interview with Social Security (with my case manager present – thank heavens!!) about my disability application; I am praying so hard that it gets accepted! I really hate having no income! I am really praying hard that – IF IT IS GOD’S WILL – I will be able to move to an apartment at Winston-Summit BEFORE July is over. As my Dad always said though: “We shall see, what we shall see”. (I finally realized the origin of that quote: Dad was quoting from Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill).  God may have other plans.  I wanted to be out of here by my birthday (early in June). That didn’t happen, but what DID happen was that I started dating a really great guy.  I feel blessed:-) Even in the homeless shelter, good things can happen:-) By the way: I am still working on learning (or re-learning) hymns. I continue to be nurtured by them. I now have about 5 pages of hymns in my pocketbook to pull out and read when I want to be refreshed and nurtured. That has been another good thing that has come out of homelessness:  pressing the “restart button” on using hymns to build up and refresh my faith.

Life changes – fast sometimes

Life changes – fast sometimes

Well, the position and housing didn’t work out, so I am temporarily dislocated. For reasons I won’t describe here (having to do with conflicts with the female half of this senior couple), I am now without employment – or housing. I still love Winston-Salem, and am still here, but I needed to find a new place to live. It’s turning out to be a blessing oddly enough. I’m finding out that I’m quite resilient. I have also found myself a case manager (yes, it CAN be done) to help me with the housing and disability processes; I was never able to navigate when I was trying to do it on my own. So all of this actually turns out to be a blessing. Luckily, this occurred in the winter and not in the summer; yes, you *did* read that correctly: “winter, not summer”. My body handles the cold *much* better than the heat. I’ve done more walking in one week (going from appointment to another) than I have for the previous 3 years. Good. I needed the exercise:-)! I know the bus system better too. I’m still finding that I trust God to provide; I knew that, but it’s nice to get confirmation…
I feel like I’m living a soap opera sometimes, but things will calm down and settle into a better pattern at some point. Meanwhile: I get to learn the joys of tapping into North Carolina’s housing (and other) resources… and other wondrous experiences. Life can *really* change quickly sometimes!!… and, yes, God DOES provide in all circumstances…

Moving on…

Moving on…

I wasn’t sure if I would get this blog written on time or not. The computer connection where I currently live was down almost all of last week, and I didn’t get to it over the weekend. I will be moving to a different home, and a different couple to care for, this coming Saturday (assuming all goes well), and there will be no internet connection there. That means a lot of visits to the local library for computer use, or trying to buy myself an internet connection  and – knowing my ability to procrastinate – that will probably mean that I will miss next month’s deadline… unless a miracle happens, and I hope a miracle does occur!

I am excited and happy for the change, but anxious to be past the actual moving process. I still stink at organizing moves (to be blunt); this is rather surprising, considering all the moves I have made since I left New Jersey (almost 15 years ago). Up until I was 40, I had only moved 3 times on my own: from Pennsylvania to New Jersey (when I was 25), then to Middlesex County in NJ, and then just south a few miles to Somerset County. I moved 4 or 5 times in the next decade (around St. Augustine area, to Orlando, and then back to St. Augustine). Since Mom died in September of 2011 (only three years), I have moved once a year (whether or not I need to – as the old joke about bathing goes).

I should have this process down pat, but do I ever learn? No, apparently not! Well, I’m down to a tenth of the furniture I used to have (most of it sold or donated), but I still haven’t learned to clear out my other belongings… especially paper work <sigh>. Oh, I got rid of *some* stuff I didn’t need, but not nearly enough. Well, I’m moving in with people who save [not quite to hoarding level] even more than I do, so this should be interesting:-) It will be odd being the *neat* one of the household (my family and close friends should get a good hearty laugh out of contemplating THAT possibility); God does have a sense of humor – I can assure you of that!

As fond as I got of my other couple, we realized that it just wouldn’t work out in the long run. I also missed being close to my home church; my church is in the northern part of Winston-Salem, and I currently live in the southern section. The southern section is all right, but it’s more crowded and I miss the nearly rural nature of the northern edge. The condo here is starting to get me claustrophobic, and the couple whom I am leaving (at least the male half) like to keep the temperature VERY warm: I don’t handle heat well – especially not indoors. Before I accepted this new offer, I made sure that I would be living in cooler conditions (73 degrees, as opposed to 77-80 degrees)! There are definitely advantages to being a live-in companion (flexible schedule, no rent, etc.), but one potential downside is adjusting to living in the home of someone else and living within their expectations. It’s do-able, but it can take some skill in negotiating. It’s actually good for me to acquire the discipline, so I’m willing to make any sacrifices necessary to make it work out – for the person or people whom I am helping, as well as for myself.

My main goal is to serve Jesus my Lord in whatever tasks He assigns me in this life, so He’ll help me through the rough patches (or long stretches) in the road that leads to life eternal.  Odd thing, though: I remember being in my condo in NJ, wondering if I would get stuck in a rut for the rest of my life and hoping for some change… Well, as my dad used to say: be careful what you pray for, because God may just decide to let you have what you ask for! I could do with a nice quiet stretch in one place right about now. A couple of years in the same home might (or might not) be nice! In any case, I get to stay in my beloved town of Winston-Salem; this time three years I ago, I had settled on North Carolina as the state I wanted to live in and was just deciding that Winston-Salem might just be the town that I would move to (since I needed to move out of my rental in Florida anyway, I figured that I might as well choose the state that I had always loved and get out of the Florida heat). I am still grateful to God for allowing me to follow through with that particular wish, and grateful that He allows me to continue to live in this region (northern Piedmont of NC) that I have grown to love so much.

Well, I need to get moving (literally), so I leave my readers with a wish for you to receive God’s blessings in what ever way you are open to receiving them. I hope *very* much to get an October post written, but as my Dad used to say (quoting from Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, I just realized this year): “we shall see, what we shall see”…  Oh, by the way: Happy Fall! This is my favorite season of the year, and the one I missed most when I lived in Florida!!!

P.S. I never did get to the Outer Banks, as I had hoped for in my August posting – ah well! now I try for someplace closer (in the mountains); whenever it is financially feasible!

“Which way do I go? Which way do I go?”

“Which way do I go? Which way do I go?”

For those [of us] old enough to remember the classic Warner Bro. Bugs Bunny cartoons, the phrase “Which way did he go? Which way did he go?…” probably sounds really familiar. It was usually said by the less than brilliant hunters who would be trying to catch Bugs Bunny. That’s how I felt for much of this month: only it was my own location I was trying to hunt down. I should say: I knew where I was, but not where I might end up.

There were a few weeks where I thought that I’d end up back in Florida (in case I didn’t find a job/living place in NC). I was willing to consider Florida – if that was what God wanted, but fortunately the sacrifice was not necessary. My apologies to my dear friends in Florida, and those who love Florida, but I absolutely & passionately hate living in Florida. I managed to stay there for 10 years, but only because my mother loved it so much…and I lived in St. Augustine, which is on the coast and in the northern part of the state.  I took a great deal of time and effort to move OUT of Florida right after she died (three years ago next Wednesday), so I had no real desire to end up back down there – though I am deeply grateful to my older brother for extending the invitation so that I wouldn’t end up homeless.

I managed to get up to North Carolina, and have never regretted it. It hasn’t been easy financially (monumental understatement), but it has been worth it. It’s good for my emotions and my physical health (even the summer is much easier on my body – but then the summer only lasts three to four months here, not nine to ten months like it did in Florida). I can see hills (- real hills! – almost mountains! -) where I live in the northern part of the Piedmont region. Once I knew I wouldn’t be required by the Lord to go back down to Florida, I started to let myself dream of moving to England. I still haven’t given up on that dream, but it will have to wait for another couple of years… Maybe I can manage a doctoral program at one of the English, Scottish, or Welsh universities; as you can see, I haven’t given up on my dream of a doctorate in History either… but that too needs to wait: I’m aiming for my 55th to 60th birthday – I’m 52 now.

I could have called this post “Dreams of where I want to be”. Right now, though, I am very happy to still be in North Carolina. There are many places that I love in the United States (and Europe), but North Carolina’s northern Piedmont region seems to suit me best. Next Thursday, I’m going to be treating myself to a desperately needed visit to the Outer Banks to restore my soul and recharge my inner batteries. I started planning this trip two months ago, and am in shock that I am within a week of getting there – God willing, and no hurricanes swiping by the Outer Banks! I want to do some research on Ft. Raleigh while I’m there, and get over to Bodie Island Lighthouse while I’m there, but truly I just want to rest and enjoy one of my favorite spots in the world (and I’ve traveled fairly extensively – thanks to my parents and library conferences – so I don’t say that lightly).

So why was I hunting around for places to live? My current “employers” (I’m a live-in care-giver & companion) realized that while we were very fond of each other, we weren’t going to be right for each other for the long-term. We leave on very good terms, and each is grateful for the other, but it was time for a change. Originally I was told that I would need to find a new place by Nov., but recently I was told that I would not have been “kicked out” without them knowing that I had a new place to move to…. as I said: we leave on good terms.  I have found a new position – again it’s live-in, and it’s courtesy of dear friends of mine in my church. My current “bosses” have told me that if it doesn’t work out in my new place, that I can come back to them:-)  God has been exceptionally gracious in providing for me!!

You see: my main criteria for where to live is where God can use me best. It’s not a “goody-goody; I’m so Holy” type of thing – or it’s certainly not what I intend; I honestly am not happy if I feel that I’m not able to serve God in what I am doing – I hate feeling useless in the world and society… and I had started to feel that way about three months ago. I get depressed when that happens… and I start feeling sorry for myself, which leads to an awful inertia. Once it gets to that, it gets very hard to climb back out of the depression and anxiety.

God has pulled me back out yet again. I have a new sense of being needed and a sense of purpose again. It may last three months; it may last six months; it may last a year… but how often it lasts is not as important as knowing that God always provides. Oh, I’m never going to be financially wealthy or even that well-off, but I do know that the Lord will provide what I most need – physically and emotionally and spiritually. He provides over and over and over, and pulls me out of the pits of despair and frustration whenever I begin to sink in.

This week three years ago, Mom was worrying herself sick over how I would survive once she was gone. I kept assuring her that God didn’t let me learn to trust Him just to “drop me” when I most needed His Help. Tuesday, of the last week that she lived, Mom had me take her out to the ocean one last time – she was even willing to use the cane that she despised, and go out with just her nightgown under her raincoat (and if you knew my mother, you would have never imagined that), so that she could be by the ocean one last time.  We got to one of her favorite spots to see the ocean, and sat there holding each other. She leaned her head on my shoulder in contentment. It started raining lightly, so we needed to go back to the car, but she had accomplished it. I was so glad for her. I had asked her a few months before – knowing how bad her hearing was – whether she could still hear the waves, and she smiled and said “yes”. It was one of the reasons she loved the sea so much. The next day, her mind began to go from the cancer reaching her brain. She died just two and 1/2 days later.

The ache and loneliness is still there, though not as intense as it was that week, but God gave me the joy of letting me let mom know how much she was loved – by all three of her children. Mom always worried that she wasn’t a “good [enough] mother”; but my brothers and I had made sure that we reminded her that all three of us loved her, and we all knew that she loved all three of us equally.  Nobody could have had a more loving and concerned mother, and Mark, Paul, and I all know it… and all love her with deep gratitude that we had her (and Dad, too!!). So, in memory of Mom – and because I have the same love of the sea (as do my brothers), I will find rest and comfort and strength as I listen to the waves when I’m on the Outer Banks…. and when I return, I will know that God still looks after me as He always had – as my parents taught me to know He will….

Lord, My King, I trust you in everything (to the tune of Greensleeves/What child is this?)

I wrote this hymn in the Lenten period following my mother’s death.  I gave it as a gift to my local church, which supported me in so many ways during that time of pain and anxiety. I hope to get this published by a music publisher; if I do, I want the proceeds to go to New Hope Methodist Church in Winston-Salem as a thank you.

Lord, My King, I trust You in everything.

Chorus: 

Lord, Lord, I follow you in sorrows deep or joys unknown;                                                                                                                    Lord, Lord, I trust in You throughout my life-long days.

Verse 1:

Oh Lord, my King, I trust in You, through valleys deep and fears untold;  I trust in You, Lord, despite all fears, and lean on You forever.

Chorus….

 

Verse 2:                                                                                                                                                                                                 My King, my Lord, You rescue you me from traps and snares laid out for me; Yet following you I cannot fail, no matter what be-fell me.

Chorus….          

 

Verse 3:

Oh, Lord, in all You give to me to use or bear, I seek to share.  To show your love to all around, and let them know Your peace.

Chorus….

 

Verse 4:      

Oh Lord, my God. You comfort me when struggles seem too strong to bear, and lift me up from valleys deep, to climb Your heights of joy.

Chorus….

 

Verse 5: [new]

Oh, Jesus Lord, you give me hope that in my life I’ll serve you true. You give me purpose and great joy and let me in Your presence.

 

Chorus:

Lord, Lord, I follow You in sorrows deep or joys unknown; Lord, Lord, I trust in you throughout my life-long joys.Image