Welcome to November–the month of Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for, and I bet you do, too. I think the Apostle Paul, who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, said it best, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:1o-13 NASB). After the past two and a half years, I know exactly what he means, too.
While I’ve never had a lot of material possessions or money–for example I’ve never owned a house and I’ve always had to take out five-year car loans for most of the cars I’ve owned; and, I never made a lot of money at any job until the nice salary I received at the place where I lost my job in Houston–I’ve always had enough to pay my way (read that “bills”) through life with a lot of nice extras (Like books!!!! And music!!! And techy stuff!!! And artsy stuff!!!).
I’ve never been particularly materialistic although I do like nice things (don’t we all?) and I learned a very, very, very long time ago never to depend on credit cards to get me by when the money ran out. No… living on credit cards is like living in prison. Of course, there are some things one must use a credit card for–like purchasing airplane tickets or buying books on Amazon.com (a little humor as you know by now how much I love books) but I’ve always paid off the credit card in full as soon as the bill arrived. I can’t stand debt and I’ve tried the best I know how to stay out of it all of my adult life. In fact, I paid off my last car loan over two years ago and six months into this long period of unemployment and, boy, did I do a happy dance on that day (Oct. 23, 2009)!!! I was totally debt free even though I was unemployed, and I was one happy camper.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post how God has taken care of me financially all during this time of unemployment, and He’s also provided for my every need, including a place to live. As you know if you’ve read my previous posts, I lost all of my furniture and a whole lot of other possessions (including over 600 books) when I left Houston to return to Florida. I came back to Florida as a very good friend of mine offered her spare bedroom in her home to me while I continued to look for work. I was still in Houston at that time and I was looking into renting a room out of a home and putting my possessions in storage at the end of my apartment lease when this offer from my friend came up. Since I always loved living in Florida I decided to go back and that is how I ended up where I am now in a beautiful little town by the ocean not far from a very large metropolitan area.
I stayed in my friend’s home for three months until I was able to find this adorable little furnished seasonal rental (the upstairs of an old home)–completely furnished with bedroom, living room, and dining room furniture, bedding, towels, linens, kitchen utensils, microwave, toaster oven, vacuum and cleaning materials, and satellite TV. Talk about God providing me with exactly what I needed… Wow. And it has all kinds of personality–beautiful wood walls and floors, two ceiling fans, two window air conditioners, and the woman who manages it also decorates it according to whether the tenant is male or female. In my case, I’ve had pretty lace curtains over dark green shades on all of the windows, with floral sheets and bedding. And you should see the bathroom–the shower curtain, towels, and bathroom fixtures are all decorated in “Hollywood glamour” decor. And, I’ve had all of this for almost two years for half the price of my apartment rent in Houston. Unbelievable. Talk about something to be grateful for–I have thanked God more times that I can count for providing this beautiful little place for me.
This seasonal rental has been a little oasis as I continue to apply for jobs all over the United States. I never dreamed that I would be living here for this long, but I can say that it’s much better then just renting a room out of someone else’s home. Rented rooms in Houston ran $350-450/mo. This beautiful little seasonal rental is $450/mo. plus electricity and completely private (unlike living in someone else’s home). God’s faithfulness has abounded while I’ve struggled through this very long time of unemployment.
I’ve applied for 460 jobs now over the past 2 1/2 years, several of which were back in Houston. And, I’ve had the opportunity to interview (by phone) for several of those positions in Houston, but the last call from Houston was a year ago. Obviously, I didn’t get that job; however, on October 7, 2011, I applied for an Assistant Director of Academic Advising position at a stellar university in Houston, and I got the surprise of my life last week when the Associate Dean of Undergraduates called me to see if I was still interested in the position. Of course, I said YES!!!!!!!!! He told me that the search committee will be deciding within the next ten days on candidates they want to fly to Houston for interviews, and if I am one of the candidates selected I will be contacted. I’ve been living on Cloud Nine ever since that call.
I’ve lived in Florida since June 1992 and I’ve loved it here. I’ve lived in Fort Lauderdale and Miami and Orlando and Lakeland and now here in this town near Tampa. I’ve loved every single city I’ve lived in and they all have there own Florida brand of “uniqueness” and trademark. My first city, Fort Lauderdale, is, well, just a beautiful city and has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world–landscaped and architecturally breathtaking; Miami–the one word I think of to describe Miami is exotic–there’s a real sensual feel to it and I don’t mean that in a sexual sense. There is something in the atmosphere there that moved me to the core of my being. And Orlando (I lived there twice for a total of 8 1/2 years)–of course there are all of the major attractions like Disney, and it has a very beautiful downtown area–I especially loved walking around Lake Eola, and it’s bustling with activity. Moving to Lakeland was a bit of a challenge for me as I like big cities, but even Lakeland won my heart while I was there. When I first arrived for a job at a university that I thought I would work at until I retired, I envisioned myself retiring there. Of course, that didn’t happen–Houston did…. And when I came back from Houston I landed here in this beautiful little town near Tampa, a perfect resting place while looking for a job. This is the smallest town I’ve lived in but it is filled with friendly people and beautiful scenery (especially the beautiful river park I frequent regularly just a stone’s throw from my place). I’ve been hoping to find a job in this area for the past two years and stay here, but it has not materialized.
And now Houston called… a city that still woos me in my sleep to this very day. I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind since receiving that phone call from the Associate Dean last week. I don’t know if I will be one of the candidates selected to fly there for an interview, but I can tell you one thing–my bags are packed if it happens. I never got to know Houston the first time around as my stay was much too short and my circumstances were less than stellar. But I do believe in Second Chances.
I love Florida, and I loved Houston when I was there. Maybe Houston will give me a Second Chance. I’ll keep you posted.
Photo credits here