Jacobs Journeys, May 2011

Posted: 27th May 2011 by Caryn in Posts by Caryn

Hello again, treasured friends. For a change I’m writing from the same continent as the last Jacobs Journeys update. Yep, still in Boston.

The Trent Version

  • Enjoyed time with UK friends who visited in March. Trent worked while I explored Boston with our friends like a genuine tourist. And then he joined us for the non-museum stuff.
  • Trip out of Boston to wintry Cape Cod with Chloe & Steve, plus a glorious day of skiing with them in New Hampshire
  • Trip to New York with Chris & Vicki. We were blown away by the energy of New York.
  • Trent handed in his resignation to Dynamyx as per his agreement with them, and his last day of work here will be 31 July. Business ideas for Australia are now brewing in his mind, nurtured further by discussions during a 4 day business visit from a Dynamyx work colleague here. Otherwise, work for Trent here in Boston has earned the label ‘Disappointing’ and remains about as exciting as carving soap.
  • I received my Employment Card allowing me to work here legally – yay! But have not been successful in finding a job – aaah. And so have found other things to try, like donating blood – thunk (that’s me fainting).
  • Had one of our best ever holidays doing a road trip along the Californian coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. From redwoods to Hollywood, every day was unique.
  • Between work and holiday Trent and I have explored Boston and it’s surrounds a bit more, including watching a battle reenactment in a quaint town, going cycling, and watching men’s lacrosse at Harvard stadium (lacrosse is similar to extreme lepidoptery, but nets catch a ball rather than swarms of carnivorous butterflies).

The Caryn version

Warning: This version gets very philosophical, because I have had PLENTY of time to think and reflect over the recent months. Since I’ve had feedback from some of you that you enjoy the detail, I’m giving you the detail. Plunge in with me if you care to.

This is the very philosophical part.

There seems to be an ebb and flow in the highs and lows of life. Although Trent and I aim to keep the highs to a maximum, they don’t always emerge from what glitters ahead of us. Conversely, sometimes the lows yield gems in the most ordinary spaces. Our American experience up to this point has been a bit like that. What glittered alluringly about being here has turned out to be far less than it promised, and it has sometimes been in the far more ordinary things that we have found moments to cherish.

In the work arena, which is what brought us to Boston in the first place, Trent and I have each faced disappointment.

For Trent, the disappointment was that the initial project on which he was placed with the view to him moving out and up as projects increased, has become the only project. And he’s going to remain the technical guy at grass roots level for the full duration. No client liaison, no management, no branching out. To deal with this he’s geared down into cruise control, changed his focus to a point a bit further in the distance, and readjusted his perspective to see a bigger picture. Despite this laid back exterior his entrepreneurial brain is holding an Ideas Fest as he considers business opportunities for our pending return to Australia. Cycling, gym and the time to nurture his emerging love of photography have been saving graces for him.

For me, the disappointment has been watching big ideas about using my OT skills in versatile ways shrink to smaller ideas like waitressing, and then vanish into negligible prospects of any form of employment. (I’ve had zero response to job applications of all kinds, except for one interview after which there was zero response.) The irony is that I obtained my $400 Employment Authorisation card this month. BUT being unemployed in my situation is not all bad. I am a firm believer in embracing what can be learned from any given circumstance with the help of my counsellor God who walks alongside me through everything.

This spiritual journey starts with questions and often ends with more questions, but can uncover pearls of wisdom along the way. I can’t remember a time when I have been stripped of the status that work brings as I am now. Nor can I remember a time when I have been so un-needed by the people around me. It’s left me in a space trying to find validation. It’s left just me and God, and He’s given me the question – "What if this was all it was ever going to be for you? Just Me. Could you come to a place of ease if I said "no" to all your ideals and desired outcomes?" Well I still don’t know if I can truthfully answer yes to that question, but while wrestling with it I was strongly impacted by a series of talks entitled "The Gift of God is God", and a book by Brother Lawrence (see references below) throwing out the challenge to ‘practice’ being in the presence of God as the ultimate in our journey with Him. Both teachers hailed the sweet, pervasive peace-despite-circumstances that stems from endlessly including God’s presence into the conversation of our day. Releasing my hold on Caryn-designed outcomes opens my life up to numerous God-designed possibilities.

Having few better sounding options, I have delved in further and tried to live each day with the focus being on simply enjoying being a loved child held in the embrace of a loving Father. And I’ve started to listen oh so keenly! Starting from a point of assurance that I am loved just as I am, what I think I have heard my Father say is, "Write, my child, write." This message seems to have been repeated to me in various ways: sometimes through the comments of trusted friends and family, once in a dream, sometimes through reminders that pop into my mind when I forget and start pursuing other things, sometimes through Oprah saying "Do what you feel passionate about!" (Yes, God even uses daytime TV!) and sometimes when I wake up at 3am and it’s all I can think about. It’s a still small voice that provides neither a guarantee nor a visionary future result, but it’s accompanied by a gut feel that this is the way for now, and I should walk in it. Not for the outcome, but for the journey.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing emails and writing in my journal. I’m writing notes to strangers in shopping centres, and reflections on Facebook. I’m writing to terminally ill children, and persecuted Christians in prison. The writer’s workshop I registered for was cancelled, so instead I’ve gone to a writer’s lunch time session and I’m reading a writer’s blog. And I’m writing to you. (Thanks for reading.)

This part has some philosophy but is mostly news.

Disappointment has not been given permission to run rampant in the Jacobs’ household though. We still have endless blessings for which to be grateful. There have been some glittery highs that have proven true to form. Never in our lives had we seen glitter in a city like Times Square in New York! Led forthrightly on by our good friend Vicki from the UK, we had the privilege of exploring some remarkable places in this hotspot of the world. Trent and I wholeheartedly agree that New York must be the most zingy, energetic, fun-filled, dream-generating, sky’s-the-limit city in the world.

Another glittering beacon that did not disappoint was our trip to California. These were the highlights:

  • Cycling around our favourite place by far: charming San Francisco. It holds a mix of beauty and bohemia perched on an earthquake ridden landscape with the steepest (and crookedest) roads ever. 
  • Getting away from it all to a cabin in a redwood forest, conveniently placed along a majestic coast that is home to whales that made an appearance for us.
  • Driving through wine country, past Santa Barbara and Malibu opulence into celebrity-mad Los Angeles. In Los Angeles we made our TV debut giving public opinion for "The People’s Court" airing here in June. Following the guarantee that I would not have to talk on camera, the unwelcome microphone was thrust in front of my face, and my opinion on whether Americans have a hang-up with nudity was a saucer-eyed "Er….". I don’t think I’m going to make it to the big time. 
  • Noted very interesting contrasts between the superficial and the deep when we enjoyed a meaningful service at Anaheim Vineyard church (the original Vineyard church) one morning and ventured into Hollywood in the afternoon. Food for the soul in the one, and junk food for the soul in the other.
  • Discovered that celebrity spotting in Beverly Hills is a bit like a game drive. Scrutinised the pavements of Rodeo Drive (where one requires a $15000 credit clearance to be allowed in the shop, or one has to make an appointment to shop) but alas no game came out of hiding despite our tour guide calling out loudly for any famous people. Almost saw George Clooney but it turned out to be a friend turning into his Beverly Hills driveway. 
  • We added to the truly American experience by accessing our inner child(s) and bouncing around the attractions of Disneyland for Trent’s birthday.

A welcome break into all things foreign here, were two visits in March from good British friends. It was an excuse for us to explore Boston like true tourists and we enjoyed checking out Cape Cod with Chloe & Steve, watching the Blue Man Group with Chris & Vicki, traipsing the Freedom Trail (ok, Trent was at work for that one), and putting our downstairs cinema to the test. But perhaps the best high of it all was in the ordinary – the talking, sharing and laughing together – the simple joy of friendship.

We’ve also been grateful for growing friendships in the home group that we go to. It has been my delight to have two new friends to meet up with during the week for coffee and a chat. One is from the home group and the other friendship was forged because she is the one and only other South African at our church that everybody knows, so we were enthusiastically ushered toward one other for introduction.

Amidst the highs of travel opportunities and lows of work outcomes, Trent and I have been seeking out as many of the gems of New England as possible. Simple things like signing up for a library card led to the discovery of the magnificent building that the Boston Public Library is. We also got to enter the beautiful Trinity Church building this week where we heard famous author and pastor Rob Bell share his out-the-box insights. A trip out to the small town of Concord to view a battle reenactment made for a highly entertaining day that enlightened us further on American history (and those nasty Brits who tried to take over!). I had great fun meeting up with newfound friends to watch the Boston Marathon in April. AND, last but not least, I am slowly but surely getting used to the idea of cycling with cleats.

This part is pure reporting

With Trent having handed in his resignation and having confirmed his last working day in the US as 31 July, we are girding up our loins to be on the move again in August. Hopefully for the last time in a long time. We’re travelling back to Australia via South Africa to say hello to loved ones there again, and of course meet our newest nephew. Before that we’ve got trips planned to Washington DC and the coast of Maine. But more of that in the next Jacobs Journeys….

Much love to you all, and once again, we always enjoy hearing what’s going on in your lives, so keep us in the loop!


Caryn (and Trent)


– "The Gift of God is God" sermon series by Dave Shmelzer, pastor of Boston Vineyard church;http://www.bostonvineyard.org/first-visit/service/sermons

– "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence