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Blogs I Follow

The Presidents Club

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The Surest Defense Against Evil

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The Triumph of Grace

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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Finishing the Race

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

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Where The Wind Blows

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Doing Great Things

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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The Power of Forgiveness

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Created for Relationships

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The Only Way I Know

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Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

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Our True Home Address

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‘Tis the Season . . . for L-O-V-E

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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Cherry Picking 101

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Love Sweet Love

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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Flying On Instinct

instinctsSo much of how we view our world today is often determined by our emotions or feelings which can change at the drop of a hat.” Instinct, on the other hand, does not run on emotions or feelings. Dictionary.com defines instinct as follows:

  • an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species;
  • a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency;
  • a natural aptitude or gift (e.g., an instinct for making money)
  • natural intuitive power

Instinct doesn’t run on logic or reason (nor does it operate on emotions or feelings). It’s innate. And instinct is not the same as intuition. It differs from intuition as described below (quote source here):

Although the words “intuition” and “instinct” appear identical to most people, these two do not refer to the same thing as there is a difference between them in their meanings. Intuition is our ability to know something without reasoning. It is when we feel as if we know what is about to happen or what to do without having any real facts. But, instinct is something different from intuition. It is an inborn tendency. Instinct is our natural reaction; it occurs without even thinking. It is more an ability, unlike intuition. This is the main difference between intuition and instinct. Through this article, let us examine the difference between intuition and instinct.

Intuition is “the ability to understand or know something without conscious reasoning.” It is similar to an insight that we have regarding a matter. For instance, have you felt as if something is not right, or that something bad is about to happen without having any concrete facts? This is due to our intuition. We do not have real facts or a rationale for our feeling, but we feel as if it is correct.

When intuition comes to play, we do not analyze the situation. We also do not weigh the pros and cons, we just know. For instance, before arriving at a decision, people approach it from different angles. They try to work out the best manner of doing something, verify the advantages and disadvantages. However, with intuition, one does not have sufficient information to rationalize his decision or thought. It is as if the individual can see beyond what is presented.

Instinct refers to “an inborn tendency.” It is a natural ability. Instinct is not something that we have learned, but it is a natural response. For instance, imagine you see a vehicle coming at high speed towards you. You would naturally jump out of the way. In such a situation, you hardly get sufficient time to think, but you respond automatically. This is because of our instinct.

Unlike intuition that is a thought, instinct is mostly a behavior or else an action. For instance, if a ball comes in your direction, you instinctively attempt to either catch it or else move away so that it will not hit you. You do not have time to think whether you should move away or catch the ball. Within seconds, you act on it. In psychology, we speak of two concepts of “flight or fight mode.” Flight is when the individual moves away from the situation; fight is when the individual faces the situation, or else in this case catches the ball. This occurs in a very short period.

As you can see, intuition is different from instinct. It is a thought and not an automatic response or action. (Quote source here at DifferenceBetween.com.)

Instinct takes place in the immediate “now.” As humans, we like to rationalize everything, but instincts can’t be rationalized. It is a natural reaction, an automatic response, and an inborn tendency.

With that in mind, the other day I ran across the book, Instinct: The Power to Release Your Inborn Drive” (2014), by Bishop T.D. Jakes,a charismatic leader, visionary, provocative thinker, and entrepreneur who serves as senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a global humanitarian organization and 30,000-member church located in Dallas, Texas” (quote source here). He is also a New York Times bestselling author of many books. An introduction to the book on Amazon.com states the following (quote source here):

Whether you call it following your heart, a gut feeling, a hunch or intuition, instinct–the inner knowledge bubbling up from a wellspring of wisdom within–can lead to a bigger, elephant-sized life.

Combining social, business and personal examples with biblical insights, in “Instinct” Bishop Jakes shows readers how to rediscover their natural aptitudes and reclaim the wisdom of their past experiences. Knowing when to close a deal, when to take a risk, and when to listen to their hearts will become possible when they’re in touch with the instincts that God gave them.

If readers are ready to unlock the confines of where they are, and discover where they were meant to be, then “Instinct” is their key! (Quote source here.)

In the opening paragraphs in Chapter 1 titled, “Instinct Has a Rhythm,” Bishop Jakes states:

Our instincts are the treasure map for our soul’s satisfaction. Following our instincts can make the crucial distinction between what we are good at–our vocation or skill set–and what we are good for–the fulfillment of our purposeful potential. When you’re truly engaged with your life’s calling, whether in the boutique, the banquet hall, or the boardroom, you rely on something that cannot be taught.

I’ve convinced that our instincts can provide the combination we need to align our unique variables with our callings and release the treasure within us. When harnessed, refined, and heeded, our instincts can provide the key to unlocking our most productive, most satisfying, most joyful lives. . . .

Unfortunately, much of what I see today isn’t about fulfilling one’s true potential as much as it is about appearing to fulfill what other people expect. Too many people want the appearance of winning rather than the practices and hard work that create a true champion. They mistake the prize for the art of winning and will ultimately buy a trophy without ever running a race. They didn’t take the class; they bought the diploma. They aren’t successful; they just have the props. They aren’t driven to achieve something; they just bust their gut to appear busy to everyone around them.

The irony is what these people fail to realize. When you’re living by instinct, then you will naturally enhance everything and everyone around you. In other words, success will come naturally! When both your intellect and instincts are aligned, then producing the fruits of your labors brings satisfaction beyond measure.

Now, it will still require hard work and dedication on your part, but the internal satisfaction will fuel your desire to achieve even larger dreams. Based on the fact that we are all inherently creative people, if we are in touch with our instincts, then we will naturally increase our endeavors. When you don’t become fixated on winning the prize or appearing successful, and instead pursue your passions, then you will discover the fulfillment that comes from living by instinct. (Quote source: Chapter 1, pp. 1-3).

In Chapter 2 titled, “Basic Instincts,” Bishop Jakes writes:

On a basic level, we share many of the same instincts. We see instinct in action when a baby tries to suckle in order to receive nourishment, or a toddler recoils from a hot skillet. It’s the sense you have about the stranger lingering behind you on your walk home that causes you to run into a store and call a taxi. Similarly, no one has to teach you to dodge the oncoming bus careening toward you while you’re crossing the street.

We are wired to stay alive. Our bodies naturally seek out nourishment (food and water) and protection (such as shelter, clothing, and weapons) to survive. You’ve probably heard of the “fight or flight” response, which is an instinctive reaction to any perceived danger. Many scientists also believe that language is instinctive, or at least the desire to express our responses to both internal and external stimuli. Some researchers believe that we are instinctively spiritual beings as well, which, of course, I would confirm. . . .

On the other hand, our instincts are not necessarily accurate all the time. The hunch about someone else’s business deal wasn’t true. Your sense of timing for the big date wasn’t on target after all. The sense of dread about a client’s reaction to your work proved to have no basis in reality. . . .

So how do you become more aware of your unique, naturally developed instincts? And perhaps more important, how do you discern when to trust your instincts and when to rely on logic, fact, and objectivity?

Obviously, this is where our relationship with instinct gets tricky.

And that’s what this book is all about. (Quote source: Chapter 2, pp. 12-14).

Of course, you’ll have to get the book to find out more, but at this point I want go to Chapter 9, “Instincts Under Pressure,” where Bishop Jakes explains how instincts played a crucial role in his move from West Virginia to Texas on pp. 95-101:

give-it-a-try-whispered-the-heartWe’re used to basing our decisions on past experiences and then suddenly our instincts pull us toward something equally tantalizing and terrifying. We cannot deny our instinctive attraction, and yet we’re unsettled by its unfamiliarity. Nothing in our repertoire of achievements and abilities, nor our family, our training, our education, or our experiences has prepared us, and yet we are drawn instinctively toward something that excites us, touches us, energizes us, and leave us shaking in our boots.

From my experiences and those of many others, instinct likes a challenge more than it likes comfort. Our instincts would rather lead us to face the unknown than let us shrink into the corner of our cage. When we’re committed to fulfilling our destiny, our instinct drives us away from complacency and toward contentment.

An inmate leaving prison must certainly feel this odd mixture of excitement and fear as he walks through the door of his cell one last time, through the gates of the prison grounds. What had become familiar to him, normal and routine, must now be left behind. He must start over. And as exhilarated as he may be by the restoration of his freedom, he also must make his way into a new jungle that has grown unrecognizable from when he knew it before. In fact, many parolees and former inmates become so stressed trying to reacclimate to the outside that they often end up returning to crime.

Did they commit a crime in hopes of returning to the confinement of a prison cell? Probably not consciously, but one wonders when looking at the recidivism rate. The literal, physical incarceration may even seem preferable to the fear of learning to live outside the prison walls.

Even if we have never faced physical confinement, most of us can relate. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new career, a new marriage, a new season of being single, a new business launch. When we start anything by following our instincts, we will likely be forced to leave our cage of comfort and complacency.

I faced this very dilemma when I made the decision to move my family and ministry from Charleston, West Virginia, where I’d grown up and lived all my life, to Dallas, Texas, which I probably knew better from television and movies than from my own experience. I’m still not exactly sure how it came about. I became interested in the Dallas area because I had heard that many people there attended church regularly (not always the case in urban areas) and were open to joining a new Christian community. I had also heard that property was relatively affordable for such a large urban area.

Ironically enough, I had actually told a friend of mine, another pastor, that he ought to move to Dallas and start a church there. But after some thoughtful and prayerful consideration, he ended up going another direction. And yet the thought of this place I had recommended to him haunted me. I began to wonder what Dallas was really like. While I had been through there a time or two, I knew very little about the people, the culture, the flavor and lifestyle of Texans. And yet I couldn’t quit thinking about moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It remained an alluring attraction, one I finally could not ignore.

When I went to Dallas and visited the prospective property for our new church, I asked the owner if I could have a few minutes alone in the building and he agreed. There in the echoing cavern of a structure so much larger than our entire church back in West Virginia, I asked God if this was where he wanted me. It didn’t take long before my awareness of his presence increased, and everything in me heard, “Yes.”

Even with this sense of God’s calling and blessing upon the move. I remained fearful. I have lived in West Virginia my entire life! I would not only be leaving my church to plant a new one, but I would be leaving one lifestyle and culture for another. The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area included over two million people at that time–about twenty times more than Charleston! And how would Texans take to an African-American outsider moving into their territory? If everything is bigger in Texas, would that include prejudice and hostility?

With growing trepidation, I agonized over this decision. I paced the cage that contained me and wondered if I dared set foot into the Texan jungle opening before me. If I stayed put, would I regret not exploring this opportunity, forever wondering, “What if . . .?” Or would I long for the comfortable security of my humble roots and regret my risk when inevitably confronted with adversity?

Moving away would include uprooting my wife and kids, and taking my mother with us after she had lived over six decades in the same area. We would be leaving the small-town warmth of our cocooned community and launching out on new wings. But would we fly? Or flutter momentarily before crashing to the ground?

It was a huge risk, but I had to take it. I had to leave my cage, but I had to take it. I had to leave my cage. Not only did I feel God’s prompting me to make the move, but something deep inside me knew it was where I belonged–even if I didn’t exactly know why. Needless to say, I have never regretted my decision to follow my instincts and move to Dallas. No, instead I discovered that my move was not just an open door to me but was, in fact, the intersection of the destiny of thousands if not millions of others whose lives would forever be changed, all predicated upon me releasing my fear and mustering the courage to be stretched beyond my comfort zone.

When we find ourselves at the crossroads between at least two different directions, we often panic. It feels like a no-win. After our instincts have been stirred by a vision, a glimpse, a divine whisper inside us, we cannot ignore the decision. Or, if we do, then that in itself becomes a decision we know we will soon regret. When our instincts magnetically urge us in a particular direction, my experience has been that we will regret not acting on that urge. Standing at the crossroads may feel like being caught in the crosshairs!

But I’m convinced that it is so much more productive, satisfying, and invigorating to have risked a new endeavor and failed than to play it safe and remain in the status quo. When a mother eagle senses instinctively that her eaglets are now ready to fly, she disrupts the nest with her beak, pushing them out with an eviction notice that seems so cruel. Her beak dislodges them from their nest and pushes them to the edge. Have you ever been pushed to the edge?

I saw eagles in the plain I visited soaring in the wind. It was amazing to me to realize that what seems so natural now was once a moment of great terror. When it was young that eagle was pushed to the edge. Its mother’s beak had no doubt dropped him off the edge of the cliff!

The results produce a striking beauty, but in the moment of crossing from nest to nature, the sight would make you call the animal rights commission and file a complaint of abuse! The mother obviously is not being cruel to her little birds. Instead she is pushing them into the uncomfortable place of discovery. She knows that the nest was only the crossroads through which they would grow and develop. If they sat in the temporary, it would be at the expense of the permanent.

Now, I’m told that the little birds become frightened half to death and initially start flipping their wings out of terror, flailing wildly to ward off what looks like inevitable death. But the flailing of their fear is the birthing of a discovery. Their instinct to fly is released with great peril and fear.

In the galing winds and impending danger, they find that the wings they never utilized in their previous comfortable nest find use in the fall and give birth to their flight. To ensure that they will not come back to the nest, she stirs the nest with her beak so that the prickly briars protrude and make it impossible for them to find comfort where they once rested.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been forced to find my wings by the discomfort of staying where I was. I’ve felt like an eaglet more than once, forced out many times by circumstances I couldn’t control. I’ve screamed inwardly a thousand reasons why the time was not right or I wasn’t prepared. If you are like me, you tell yourself, “But I don’t have the experience or the training or the education or the relationship or the resources necessary to take such a dangerous leap!”

All of which may be true. But there are times when we must disregard the data and distance our doubts if we are ever going to achieve greater velocity towards the goals that roar within us. We must follow the instinct to fly. (Quote Source: Chapter 9, pp. 95-101.)

take-the-first-stepThis may be one of the longest posts I’ve pieced together, but I hope it provides you with encouragement in your own circumstances no matter what they might be. Stagnating or vacillating in life is never a good option, and it only takes one small step to move forward, even if we can’t see the next step. These past eight years for me have been a very long lesson (still ongoing, too) in taking one step at a time and not ignoring those “instincts” when they are giving us direction. And just like the mother eagle forcing the eaglets out of the comfort zone of their nest . . .

We must follow . . .

The instinct . . .

To FLY . . . .

YouTube Video: “Born For This” by Mandisa:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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Made In America

the-obamas-and-the-trumps-at-trumps-inauguration-1-20-17With the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States yesterday, January 20, 2017, the election year of 2016 finally reached its culmination when President-elect Trump spoke these words at high noon and became President Trump:

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.” (Quote source here, YouTube video here.)

In an ironic twist of fate, I was unable to vote in this election year. I’ve only missed voting in two presidential elections in my lifetime and both were for the same reason. The first time it happened was during the 2004 election when I had moved from one city to another city in Florida and was unable to get my address changed within the 30-day registration requirement before the election, and in this election year, 2016, I was registered to vote in Florida but was visiting Houston at the time of the election, and my mail-in ballot was back languishing in my PO Box in Orlando leading up to Election Day.

It’s an odd feeling not to be able to vote–at least it is for me. And this was such a heated election cycle unlike any in recent history (and, unfortunately, it was the first election cycle many in the younger generation witnessed and could vote in as young adults since President Obama served for two four-year terms). I tend to think that the heat, anger, nastiness, and vitriol were greatly exacerbated by social media, much of which didn’t exist in it’s present form or was barely getting off the table and still in it’s infancy back during the election cycle when President Obama was elected president in 2008. Anything (good, bad and ugly) in today’s world is instantaneously broadcast throughout the entire world with a click of a button. And the level of mocking and disrespect found in our society today, too, is at an all time and unprecedented high.

Maybe I’m just getting old but I’ve always believed that the Office of the President and the person occupying that position at any point in our history should be highly respected regardless of whether we voted for that person or not, or whether we agree with them or not. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. It is much more a societal issue then it is about any one man or woman occupying the Office of the President. If we disrespect the very leaders that “we the people” elected (regardless of whether or not our candidate or party won), it speaks volumes about our country to the rest of the world. And I’m not quite sure in the past decade why this general disrespect has grown into a favorite pastime of ours. Seems like we don’t respect much of anything or anyone except what we individually like or think about someone else. So how did we get to the point (and why did we get to the point) where president-bashing has become a national pastime?

presidential-sealI had, have and will continue to have enormous respect for President Obama during his eight years as President, even though I disagreed on some major decisions he made during his tenure. I’m a registered “Independent” with conservative leanings, and I didn’t vote for him either time because of his political leanings (well, he almost got my vote in the second election cycle), but the political process is the same every election cycle–somebody wins and somebody loses–and usually half of us don’t get who we were hoping would be elected. So what has made this election cycle so much more vitriol?

It’s not that President Obama didn’t have his naysayers and mockers as all presidents do have them; but in this election cycle when President Trump was elected in November, the loudest anti-Trump voices came up with the hashtag #NotMyPresident (we didn’t even have hashtags in the 2008 election cycle). Well, President Trump just became our 45th president and if we are living in America, he is our president. Why not give him a chance just like President Obama had his chance, and President Bush and President Clinton had their chance, as did all of the presidents going back to George Washington who have helped to make America great.

I have steered clear of politics most of my life (other than voting) because–as the old saying goes–“if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.” And I can’t stand the heat and hatred and negative garbage that comes out every election cycle. We are supposed to be civilized people, right? We talk about “tolerance” while being incredibly “intolerant” of others. What’s up with that, anyway? It still boils down to “my way or the highway” even when we supposedly are talking of “tolerance.”

I fear for a nation that has lost it’s respect for just about anybody or everybody they happen to disagree with, and it’s not just during presidential election cycles and being on the “receiving” end of the disdain by those whose candidate didn’t win. We witness it in every corner of our lives today–this general lack of respect for anything or anyone we don’t like or even know and certainly don’t care to get to know either, for whatever reason (and often we don’t even need a reason). You tell me how God can bless a nation that acts like that to each other.

This, of course, is not to say that there isn’t a lot of good going on in our society, too, but the divisiveness of this political election year and the increase in violent acts and rioting across our nation over the past several years speaks to a deep divide. While peaceful protesting in a Constitutionally protected act, the divisions are exacerbated by the media and on social media, too.

The Office of the President should be given the utmost respect regardless of who is occupying the position at any given point in history. When we lose our respect for our own president (whether we voted for that person or not), we’ve lost something that is very basic to the core of our nation. When everything is “up for grabs” and anything or anyone can be openly mocked and ridiculed and nobody cares, then don’t be surprised someday if we wake up to an America we no longer recognize or like or no longer have any choices in either; and we will have no one else to blame but ourselves.

If we want God to bless America again, it starts with us and how we treat others. . . .

God Bless America. . .

Before it’s too late. . .

And God Bless President Trump (and his administration), too . . . .

YouTube Video: “Made in America” by Toby Keith:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Looking For A Home

On April 21, 2009, my life changed in ways I never could have imagined. I found myself living in a city I had never lived in before in a state I had briefly lived in three and a half decades earlier; and due to my very short tenure in this city and state, I was without the benefit of a professional network in the area after losing a job I moved there for a scant seven months earlier (at the end of September 2008). I traveled 1000 miles for that job and paid my own moving expenses, too, but I thought it was worth it at the time I accepted the job.

Up to that point when I lost my job almost eight years ago, I had been working in my career field for over twenty years. The new job I lost was not only a promotion for me with a much higher paycheck ($15,000/yr more than I was earning at the job I left when I accepted this new position), it was in an environment that fit right in with my bachelor’s degree in art and design–a love I had left behind years earlier when I pursued my master’s degree in higher education/student personnel services. It was the perfect job with the perfect combination using both of my degrees and my skills and experience of the past twenty years. I had visions of auditing several art classes including web design and publishing which I could do for free after I had been working there for six months (a benefit for employees found at most colleges and universities where they are employed). I honestly can’t tell you when I’ve been so excited about a new job. I accepted the position with much anticipation and excitement–I saw it as a new venture in life in a new physical environment (city and state) to explore.

However, much to my surprise, it didn’t work out for whatever reason. It was in a for-profit environment and all of my previous years working in higher education were at nonprofit colleges and universities (see article titled, Non-Profit vs. For-Profit Colleges: What You Need to Know,” published on the Back to College Blog at Franklin University at this link).

The biggest challenge from losing that job starting right off the bat was financial. I went from earning a salary of $52,000/yr–$1000/wk before taxes–to waiting almost a month for my $275/wk (before taxes) unemployment checks to start coming in. I had a small savings account and no other financial resources except the unemployment checks, and I still had five months left on my one-year lease where my apartment was located that I couldn’t break. The rent was $845/mo (the most rent by far that I had ever paid to rent an apartment and it wasn’t a fancy apartment, either), and that didn’t include electricity, cell phone, landline for internet access, water (that was also the first time I had to pay for water when renting an apartment, too), plus I still had a car payment of $200/mo that would finally be paid off in November 2009. That, of course, doesn’t include other expenses such as gas, food, clothing, etc., plus I held onto my health insurance through the Cobra insurance (at a cost to me of under $200/mo) offered through my employer for the 15 months I could keep it until it ran out in July 2010. If  you do the math (my monthly income on unemployment checks was $1100/mo), you can see I was stretched to the limit for that last five months in that apartment. I used to play a game with myself when I went grocery shopping at Walmart that I could not buy anything that was over $2.00 per item, and I only used the air conditioner in my apartment for a brief time in the morning and again before going to bed at night to keep the cost down (my electric bill went from $100/mo to $40/mo by doing that). I kept a box fan with a very long extension cord with me wherever I went in my apartment, and this was during the hottest months in Houston in the summertime.

Also, I cut off the landline and internet connection to my apartment to save another $60/mo, but I kept the cell phone as I had to have it to keep looking for work. And my cell phone company at the time offered a $10/mo internet connection at internet hotspots located in Starbucks and Border Bookstores at the time where I took my laptop and spent hours online applying for jobs. I had no internet connection in my apartment. And I started my job search the very next morning after I was fired the previous afternoon. I even dressed up as if I was going to work to go to the Starbucks to start my job search using their wifi.

I had a couple of close calls on getting a job in Houston while I was still living in my apartment in Houston during those final five months in my apartment; and I was flown to a small state university in Georgia to interview for a job that eventually got axed in their budget and no one was hired for it. At the end of those last five months in that apartment I knew I could no longer stay in Houston without a job as I couldn’t afford it and my unemployment checks were set to run out at the end of six months (I did end up getting the extensions offered at that time beyond the original six months).

During my last month in that apartment a friend offered me her spare bedroom in her home (her two adult children were out on their own by then) back in Florida and I knew I had to make a decision what to do about all of my household stuff–furniture, bookcases and over 1000 books, and a whole lot of other stuff, too, that I could not afford to move back to Florida. I spent $5,000 of my own money to move them to Houston the year before and now that I was unemployed the money simply was not there to move the stuff back to Florida (and I had no place to move it to anyway). So, I gave my furniture and a whole lot of other stuff to a ministry in Houston that helps people who are overcoming drug and alcohol addiction to use in their ministry. I was able to find a moving company that would move a small amount of my stuff to Florida for $600 (14 small boxes plus a hope chest that belonged to my mother, and a handcrafted small bookcase and small wall unit made by my maternal grandfather who died when I was a toddler). I was able to store it in my friend’s “Florida room” for the short time I stayed at her home (three months).

Shortly after I arrived at my friend’s home in Florida, my friend’s niece lost her job and she ended up moving into my friend’s home two months after I arrived. I was still conducting a full time job search and found temporary work that lasted from right before Thanksgiving 2009 through to New Year’s Day 2010, and due to the tight squeeze in my friend’s house with her unemployed niece moving in, I started looking in the area for temporary housing until I found a permanent job and could move wherever I found the job. I immediately found (through the Yellow Pages) a real estate company offering a furnished efficiency apartment as a “seasonal rental” for $450/mo plus electric only a few miles from my friend’s home, and I moved in at the end of December 2009. There was even a place under the stairwell for all of my stuff that I stored in my friend’s Florida room.

The seasonal rental was completely furnished with circa 1970’s furnishings, and it was the upstairs of a grand old house in the downtown area of the town where my friend lived. Built in 1938, it was “one of a kind” in that neighborhood and I fell in love with that old house. When I originally moved in I told the woman manager (her office was on the first floor of the house) that I would most likely only be there a few months at the most until I found a permanent job and moved on (I was applying for jobs in my field all over the United States). Two years later we both had a good laugh when I was still living there and still looking for a job, and the house was sold at that time to an investment company in early 2012. The new company came in and changed the rent to $500/mo utilities included, and I continued to apply for jobs and traveled around as far as Atlanta, New Orleans, and even back to Houston looking for work. A year later the investment company put the house on the market, and by the end of December 2013 a new owner purchased the house.

At this point I should mention that during this time I was able to collect unemployment checks for a total of 99 weeks, ending the last week of May 2011. At that point when they ended, I had no income at all. I still had some savings but it was gone after a few months, and at that point I was old enough to tap into a part of my very small retirement account without a penalty in order to have money to live on when my savings was gone. I lived on that money for three years and two months with no other income until I turned 62 and was able to start collecting Social Security in July 2014 as my only source of income (it is a little over $1000/mo).

Back to my apartment in that grand old house–in January 2014 I was told by the new owner that the rent would be going up to $600/mo. with utilities included. It really tightened an already tight budget and I was frustrated after all this time of not being able to find work of any kind, and not just in my career field. The new owners had other plans for that old house (they lived in that town) and in March 2014 another friend of mine offered me her spare bedroom in a major city in Florida where I used to live and work, so I put my stuff in a storage unit in the town where I was living at that time, and I stayed in my friend’s spare bedroom for almost six months. During that time I discovered just how incredibly hard it is to find an apartment on only a Social Security income, and while I found several ads on Craigslist for furnished apartments, I got no responses to my inquiries.

At that point (the end of September 2014), I decided to go back to Houston (I loved the city despite the dismal job experience) and I stayed at weekly rate hotels, which are not cheap by any means compared to an apartment while continuing my search for affordable housing. The rents I paid while I was there were between $275/wk and $325/wk including hotel taxes, and I was running through what I had left of my retirement money plus my Social Security checks at a fast pace to pay for the hotels plus normal living expenses. I stayed in Houston looking for affordable low income housing for just over three months, and in all of my attempts at visiting apartment complexes and answering many ads on Craigslist, nothing opened up for me. So I ended up going back to the city where I was staying in Florida as I had lived there the longest in all of my years of living in Florida, but my friend had given her spare bedroom to another woman at that point, so I ended up going back and living in hotels there at between $285/wk up to $350/wk including taxes. And I was still running through my remaining retirement money at a fast clip along with the Social Security check, and I could see myself being flat broke before the end of 2015, and I couldn’t afford the rent on hotel rooms on only my Social Security income.

At that point I contact my elderly dad to see if I could come home and stay in his house while I continued to look for affordable housing (he lives in the Midwest). Long story short, he decided to start sending me money to help with the hotel rent so I would not go broke, and he has been doing that since April 2015.

Due to the dismal housing search all during this time in both that city and the town where my stuff is in storage since the end of March 2014 when I left my last apartment (and sans the time I spent in Houston looking for affordable housing in the fall of 2014), I have been forced to continue living in hotels I can’t afford on my own (and only able to live in with my dad’s financial help). This past summer I decided I was getting nowhere fast so I left Florida again to take a break from the dismal housing search and I returned to Houston, and that is where I am currently staying. At least the hotels as cheaper here and the hotel taxes drop off after 30 days which is a significant savings. In Florida the hotel taxes don’t drop off until after six months. I am currently paying $245/wk for my hotel room, and at least this room has a kitchenette (the hotels in Florida where I stayed did not have a kitchenette, they only had a microwave and a small dorm-like refrigerator with no freezer area).

That is a brief (well, maybe not so brief) rundown on my life situation since I lost that job in Houston in April 2009. I never dreamed that I would not find a job fairly quickly after I lost that job as I had worked in my field for over 20 years, and I always got excellent evaluations from my former bosses and employers. I spent an enormous amount of time looking for work for the first several years after I lost that job, and I stopped counting the applications I submitted when the number got to 500 in 2011. I have no idea how many jobs I have applied for at this point in time as I stopped counting. I do keep a record of every job I have applied for and they are all listed in a 41-page typed, single-spaced document. I stopped looking for work actively at the end of December 2014 as one is limited as to how much money one can earn if they collect Social Security at the age of 62 (which I started getting in July 2014). Nobody was calling me at that point anyway, and it had been two years prior to that time that I received my last phone call from a university who was interested in me.

However, I never expect the housing search to be so dismal when I left my last apartment at the end of March 2014, nor did I ever expect to spend almost two and a half years of my time living in hotels that are much more expensive than an apartment. However, every apartment complex I’ve been to I have been told that I don’t earn enough income on my Social Security to rent from them. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. My dad offered to keep sending me money to help with the rent on an apartment, but I have found no apartment complex yet who will consider his financial contribution as “official income” so they won’t use it in the calculations for how much I need to be making to rent an apartment from them, and my Social Security income is not enough. Even when I tell them what I pay to stay in hotels (far more than the rent they are asking), it doesn’t move them one inch in my direction.

Today I was emailing a friend and I mentioned that maybe I should write a blog post in search of housing and see if anyone who reads my blog post might be able to help me find affordable housing somewhere in the USA. I can’t keep living in hotels I can’t afford on my own and without my dad’s financial help, and until I lost that job in Houston almost eight years ago, I was always self-supporting for my entire adult life. However, I can’t be self-supporting on an Social Security income of a little over $1000/mo.

ask-seek-knockSo, I am writing this post to see of anyone in my reading audience has any suggestions for me. I’d rather you not state them in the “comment” section at the bottom of this blog post as I don’t want to publish the responses on the blog post. Instead, I have an email address that I created for use with this blog site and you can send me an email with any information or advice you may have. I’m asking for legitimate answers and not “comic relief” or nonsense or joking type answers. So with that in mind, please feel free to email me at (you can copy and paste it into your email):

sarasmusingsblog@gmail.com

If you feel more comfortable leaving a comment in the comment section, it won’t get published automatically. I can read it and take the information off of it and delete the comment.

My Linkedin.com profile is available in the upper right hand corner of this page (click on the “in” icon), and you can also access my Linkedin.com profile at this link. It will provide you with my professional work history and background, and give you more information than you will find on my A Little About Me page on this blog site.

Jesus stated these words in Matthew 7:7-12 (NLT):

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

So, I’ll end this post with these words (and follow them here with a “Thank You” to anyone who can help in even the smallest of ways):

I’m asking. . .

I’m seeking. . .

And I’m knocking. . . .

YouTube Video: “Home” (from the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” 2010) by David Byrne and Brian Eno:

Photo #1 credit here
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Photo #3 credit here

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