Abundant Living

In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I want to be more grateful

Sometimes when good comes your way you just have to hold onto it.

Lately I've been so very very tired. I went to the doctor about this once before and she ran labs and prescribed a medication for my thyroid that really helped.  When I changed jobs this last August I had to wait 30 days and then change insurance.  The short of the story is that I last took that medicine in November and it is now March and I am tired. I did labs a couple of weeks ago and have a follow up appointment with my new insurance NP this coming Thursday.  Hopefully I'll get the medicine and feel better again.

Anyway. So I'm tired.  And I work with my specific DON who is both the best and the worst.  She's charismatic, funny, brilliant, capable.  She lies, manipulates, procrastinates and is always trying to maneuver to get herself more money. She makes me tired.

Lately I'm struggling to drag myself out of bed in the morning to get to work.  I'm struggling to not have a bad attitude toward my work.  I'm forcing myself to look at all the good things and choose to put my focus there instead of on the bad things.

Recently I read the following oh so appropriate words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (ESV):

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

This is how I want to live my life!

I want to constantly think and verbalize words of gratitude rather than discontent.

Oh Father God, You've got to change me on the inside.  Because who I am is a person who wants things my way and who is too easily displeased. I recognize that Your ways are not my ways and that You use every circumstance and situation to my good. Help me remember that and live my life grateful. Thanks for all the good things in my life. Thank You that I have a job and I can make a difference.

In light of this I want to reflect on some good stuff that happened at my job just this past week:

  • The housekeeping supervisor, who is an ESL person, told me that she prays for me every day. She told me that she knows my job is hard.  She said that she thinks I'm just the right person for this job and that she's happy I'm her boss.
  • My boss understood and supported me when I requested that she not send a specific regional type person into my building any more.  I explained that she is too critical and mean to my people and that I'll discipline them if that's needed.  I need consultants who help, not who criticize. I'm grateful that I have a boss who really understands what I'm talking about.
  • Our rehab coordinator just told me that I'm the first administrator who she's worked with in this building that is so involved.  That felt so good to hear because I feel like such a failure sometimes.  I feel like I'm not involved enough. I feel like I end up spending way more time in my office than I want. I feel like I'm not changing things fast enough.  I'm not having the impact that I want to have. 
  • There's a long term patient who always asks for me.  She's kind of a drain because she just wants to hang out with me and I have so much to do.  But she's precious and I'm glad that maybe I can make life just a little bit better for her.
  • The new young man I hired as maintenance director.  He allows me to speak truth into his life.  He is trying to do a really good job and is working hard.
Good things from the past week in my personal life:
  • My youngest son.  He is such a godly young man that I'm amazed.  How did I get a son like this?! He calls me once a week and just shares what's going on in his life and asks what's up with me.  He works super hard in college and has all As while following a very difficult course of study (chemical engineering). He consistently is drawn to international students and forms friendships with them. Because his faith is such a part of his life, he's frequently discussing what he believes and how his faith affects his daily life, with his friends at school.  
  • My daughter in law Rachel emailed me this week.  She shared details about what's happening in her life.  I live for this type of sharing!
  • My husband.  He's constantly supportive.  He BBQs meat and makes salad so we can have healthy dinners.
Gosh, when I think on all of this, how can I be discouraged and frustrated.  I am so blessed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A steadfast heart

James 1:2-3 (ESV)

Photo from enyonamsdailydevotions
Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

I like reading these words better than living them.

Yesterday was one of those days when I feel like I walked in the door to my work place at work at 8AM and kept running until I finally managed to make it out the door again at 7PM.

I don't always arrive at the exact same time each morning.  It ranges sometime between 7:30AM-9AM, depending on what time I left from work the prior day and what is planned for that particular day. Yet somehow the managers seem to always know the moment I'm in the building because within 5 minutes of my arrival they begin trickling into my office with a multitude of problems.

By 2:30PM I was tired and hungry.  As I came into my office I looked longingly at the food tray the kitchen always leaves on my desk at 1PM.  It's the exact same tray that one of our patients would receive. I opened it up and grabbed a couple of bites before I recovered the dish and placed it up on top of bookcase beside my desk. I could finish it later. I had to go talk to that patient and family who were unhappy and had been asking to speak with the administrator.

As I approached the patient's room I observed two C.N.A.s in the room apparently engaged in a room change arguing about how to carry out the task. I tapped one of them of on the shoulder and motioned for her to follow me into the hall.  I explained in soft tones that they can not be arguing in patient areas, if the discussion needs to take place, it needs to happen somewhere else. As the young C.N.A. rolled her eyes in response, I was transported in my thoughts back to prior years when I dealt with my truculent teen son. The C.N.A. then walked back into the room and announced to her partner in none too quiet tones that they needed to take it outside because they couldn't talk in the patient room.  Instead they both stood a few feet from the patient's door and continued to argue in tones loud enough to still be heard inside.  I silently talked to myself as I walked into the room that I need to deal with them later, maybe do a training with CNAs again on professionalism, definitely talk with the staff developer. 

Inside the room I smile, introduce myself to two sons of our patient, and shake hands.  I turn to the patient who, fortunately, remembers me.  I tell the son who's obviously in charge that I heard he has concerns and inquire if he'd like to talk here or in my office.  He responds in my office; the patient stays while I troop off with the two sons. 

Once in my office the leader brother starts off on an excruciatingly detailed list of complaints while the other brother occasionally chimes in.  He talks at length and uses phrases such as "I don't know what kind of operation you're running here" and "train wreck".  He intersperses his speech with lots of information about his own job, the important work that he does, and the quality control measures in place there.  As he speaks, I jot down an occasional note on the pad in front of me.   When he finally pauses for a second I ask if I can repeat back what I think I hear him saying.  He looks surprised and pleased (he must have attended those same communication seminars that I did). I start to tell him the concerns I hear that he has regarding our facility and his mother's care, and he interrupts me. He continues to say the exact same complaints he's already stated, complete with more examples of the importance of quality at his workplace.  At one point, as he's complaining about how awful our food is, I steal a quick glance up at my tray and think how much I wish I could be eating the very same food he thinks is so terrible. We finally discuss if he wants his mother to be referred to anther facility or to continue at ours while we work on doing better.  He tells me that he is concerned that the other two facilities won't be any better. In my mind I'm thinking about how irritated I am that we've made some of the mistakes we've made, what I can do to fix it, and how some of what they are complaining about is not accurate or realistic.  He finally decides she should stay but hints that his mother needs me to talk with her and listen and instill her with confidence.  I graciously smile and say of course I will while. I'm simultaneously filled with a desire to console and encourage his mother while at the same time running through the list of all the other things I need to be getting done. 

He expects me to go directly to his mother's room and I tell him that I will meet him there but need to go look in her medical record and speak with the RN supervisor first.  He looks uncomfortable but has no real choice but to let me do that. When I tell the RN about his complaints that no notes have been taken or communicated to the physician regarding his mother's specific medical complaints, she pulls out the dedicated cell phone with which the nurses communicate with the physicians.  In the four days since the patient arrived on Monday, the nurse shows me three detailed complaints made by the patient that were texted to the physician.  One of these resulted in a new medication order.  I checked the medication administration record to be sure we had already started this order and were providing this medication.

I go into the patient room and talk with her.  I listen to her concerns.  I explain about the medication ordered in response to her concerns and try to explain that sometimes medications take longer than two days to provide all the intended effects. I assure her that I personally will make sure that we follow her detailed likes and dislikes regarding specific foods.  I explain that we can not provide food to order but have set meals with alternates.  I assure her that I will make sure that someone comes to her and notifies her regarding the alternate meal.  The sons and mother explain again that they want to speak to her physician and I tell them again that he will be in today but I do not know the time.  I text the physician and explain and he tells me that he will for sure see her today but that it won't be until later since he's got a lot going on at the hospital today.  I explain this to the sons.  They say they're afraid to leave to go get a meal because they don't want to miss the doctor. I explain that he most likely won't be there until after 8PM today due to the several urgent situations that he's dealing with at the hospital today.

I finally explain that I have a 4:30PM interview today and need to go talk with the kitchen so I leave.  The interviewee has been waiting a bit by the time I get to him.  I finally finish with him by 5:30 and am really looking forward to going home.  I stop by that patient's room to quickly confirm that her dinner was correct but she's sleeping so I leave.

The receptionist comes into my office as I'm gathering my things to leave and informs me that there is a man in  foyer who's been waiting to speak to me.  I slowly put my things away and trudge out to him.  His father is in the acute hospital and has been referred to our facility and another one.  He wants to visit both facilities prior to making up his mind where to direct the hospital to discharge his father.  He's requesting a tour of the facility.  Typically such tours are given by our admissions staff during business hours but they've gone home now.  So I give the tour and talk with him about his father.  We come back to my office and talk a bit more about his concerns and desires for his father.  I provide him with instructions on how to get to the other facility which is only 3 miles from our facility.

I call my husband to let him know that I'm done for the day and am coming home. I'm on my way out of the office again when the tour man calls me back and informs me that he wants our facility and the hospital wants to get his dad discharged tonight.  I call the admissions coordinatar who gets everything set up.

Finally I make it out the door!

It's a 40-minute drive home. As I'm driving home I start thinking and praying.  I'm asking God what he wants me to learn through these exhausting days.   I think about the verse in James that I've been meditating on lately.  When times are tough I need to be stead fast.

Oh God, create in me a steadfast heart. Help me to see the big picture and always be available to be used by you. Help me to care about the people you place in my life. Please give me the ability to draw on you when I'm exhausted. Help me truly love people.

Later that evening I was home and relaxing with my husband. At 8:40PM I got a text from the physician:

"I talked with the family. They are very happy now :)"

I text him back:

"You just became my hero -thank you"

He replied:

"I m here for you. Thank you so much. We are a team :).

I felt grateful.

2 Peter 2: 4-9 (MSG)

3-4 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

5-9 So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

Ephesians 1:15-20 (NLT)

 15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,] 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Starting Out

One way to help get each Holy Habit entrenched in my life:

1. Sharing
My time at work - Spend more time watching our SSD & AC at work.  Looking for ways I can help them grow professionally

2. Simplicity
Watch less TV - Currently, I am ashamed to admit this but, I spend about 3-4 hours of every day watching TV.  I will reduce that to 2 hours.

3. Increased physical activity
5 days a week do something physical for at least 30 minutes.  Even if it's just riding the exercise bike while watching TV.

4. Healthy Eating
Use online food diary at least 6 days a week to keep track of what I'm eating.

5. Bible Pondering
At least 3 times each week engage in personal study in 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

6. Gratefulness
Speak out about 1 thing -Each day find at least one thing at work that I'm grateful for and speak that out to someone. Each day find 1 thing I'm grateful for about John and tell him.

The big 6

I typically think of habits in terms of bad ones.

Maybe that's because I've got more than my share of bad habits.

Habits can be good though.  It's the good ones that I want to get more of entrenched into my life. I've heard the phrase holy habits used before.  I'm attracted to that phrase.  I've always been a sucker for aliteration. This year I'm feeling impressed to develop what I'll call holy habits in each of the following areas of my life:
  1. Sharing
  2. Simplicity
  3. Increased physical activity
  4. Healthy eating
  5. Bible Pondering
  6. Gratefulness

Sharing my life

Graphic from I was just thinking
I've long been snagged when I read the words from 1 Thessalonians 2:8 when Paul talks about not only sharing the gospel, but sharing His life.

Do I ever do that?  How do I do that?

From the time I first learned how to get up in front of a group to share my testimony , I've struggled with sharing personal things.  I was 16 years old at that time and remember working with an adult and a friend on how to present in front of groups about what God had done in our lives.  When I gave the two of them my first attempt, my friend candidly let me know that it was boring, that it could be anyone's testimony.  I'd neglected to share who I was.

I think this is still confusing.  It doesn't come naturally for me.

Part of why is because I'm a classic introvert.  I have a friend where I used to live who is a classic extrovert.  She's always sharing on Facebook, twitter, and in person what's going on with her.  She's down to earth and fun and interested in you.  People are drawn to her. I'm not like that. 

I care deeply about people but struggle with appropriate ways to show that.  Sometimes I write notes from my heart to people who I'm in ministry with and that seems to bless them.  When I facilitate small Bible study groups I do share some of my personal life.  In those settings I think I'm seeing more of what Paul was writing about in this passage.  In these small groups we're invested in each other, we talk about the Word and our lives. 

Today as I was reading in I Thessalonians 2:5-8 I was challenged with the thought to do this more in my job.

I was the assistant administrator for 3 years for a man who was not a Christian.  That man was one of the greatest leaders I've ever known.  Of course he didn't share the gospel with me but he did model sharing himself.  He invested in me as no one ever has before or since.

I think the Holy Spirit is pricking my heart to do that at my current job.  I've been there four months now.
Father, please show me who you want me to work with and how.  The social service and admissions directors come to my mind right away, so teach me how to invest in them and empower them to become better.  But perhaps you can use me to help this director of nursing services to become better.  It would certainly have to be You through me because she's not at all open to my speaking truth into her life.  Maybe you even want me to impact that AR girl who's so smart and oh so difficult.  Oh Father, just use me.  Make me smarter than I am 'cuz I'll need to be.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The new year comes with challenges

Graphic from Snips & Spice
 Do you ever feel like your life is too much?   Like you're not up for it?

 Sometimes I do.

I'm in a season of my life right now where I'm dealing with some big challenges.

I keep reminding myself that God has me right where He knew, before all of time, that I would be.  I keep choosing to believe the truth that if He has allowed me to be in these situations, then He will equip me to be effective.  He'll use me to change situations, circumstances, and people - or He will change me.

Given this, a quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that I read a couple of weeks ago keeps reverberating in the back of my mind: "Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, I will try again tomorrow."

It is with this mindset that I came to my time with God this morning.  I'm currently working my way through the book of 1 Thessalonians.  As I read the 2nd verse in the second chapter it stood out to me this morning:

We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition (NIV).

Off the top of my head I couldn't remember what exactly had occurred to Paul when he was in Phillipi.  I had to re-read the account in Acts 16:16-40.   Then I had one of those oh yeah, now I remember moments.  This is the account when Paul and Silas were out preaching and a demon possessed slave woman kept following them around yelling. Paul found it difficult to preach with all that noise so he cast out the demons. Her owners were upset because her demons allowed her to tell fortunes and made them money.  So her owners stirred up opposition to Paul and Silas.  Paul and Silas ended up being stripped, beaten with rods, then put in the inner most cell of the prison with their feet in shackles.  This is the same account where later they were singing and praising God, an earthquake occurred, their chains were broken, and the cell doors opened.  They stayed and got all the other prisoners to stay as well.  The guard ended up taking them home and tending to their wounds.  The guard and his household came to faith through the whole experience.

What hit me this morning was that being beaten with rods and imprisoned in shackles must had been a wretched experience.  The kind of experience that can make one not want to risk that again.  Paul came into Thessalonica and was again opposed, but he went ahead preaching any way.  From these verses I  think that Paul experienced trepidation.  He wasn't some kind of super hero who didn't care if he was beaten or imprisoned; that fact caused normal human fear about going out there and preaching again. But he went out there any way.  He wanted to follow God's leading, and he looked to God for help. God empowered Him to rise above any fear and go ahead.

God can do that for me too. But how?

Romans 8:20-30 talks about the fact that we live in a world where sin has it's effect.  All of creation looks forward to a better future.  ( I think this better future referenced here is both the Millennium as well as the new heaven and new earth.) In the context of this discussion about how we are suffering now I come to the 27th & 28th verses:

 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

There's so much in these verses:
  • The Holy Spirit is searching our hearts
  • The Holy Spirit is interceding for us that we'd experience God's will
  • God will work in all situations to bring good to us 
 I'm not sure that I really understand about God searching my heart.  He already knows it. I appreciate Beth Moore's words regarding this: "God's testing of our hearts is to our benefit even when we dread what He'll find.  Our freedom comes with the head-on collision between the truth of Christ and God's truth about us. There beauty meets ugly, and authenticity is born."

I know I'm grateful that I've got the Holy Spirit interceding for me that I'll experience God's will. That God will work in all situations to my good.  I want to have an authentic faith that makes a difference.

One of my challenging situations is things going on in the life of my middle son.  I know that I'm praying and praying for this son.   I want to be sure to give this son unconditional love while not approving of all his choices.  I want to be wise in my interactions.  I'm constantly asking God if I should speak the truth boldly, or just quietly wait on Him to work. I'm glad to know that the Holy Spirit is interceding for me and my son.

The other source of challenging situations is problems at work.  There are problems with some of the leaders in the building. Systems are not in place and being followed. The nurses are either not properly trained or are not following their training,  and they have difficulty with logical independent decision making. The director of nursing has many incredibly good characteristics, and many terrible characteristics; she fights me as I'm trying to make positive changes.  Sometimes I struggle with feelings of not being good enough - I'm in charge of this building and have been here for four months and it's still a mess. Then I remember that I believe God gave me this job, so He must know that I can do it.  May He empower me as He did the apostle Paul.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

God's work?

As I was spending time with God this morning this portion of the scripture passage I was reading stood out to me:

30 Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God's work. 31 Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away. 32 In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. 1 Corinthians 7:30-32A (NLT)

I found myself moved to ask forgiveness for my attachment to the things of this world and for the Holy Spirit to convict me when I am getting too attached.  Then I found myself asking What's God's work for me in my life right now?

 I want to spend some time thinking on this today.  Some stuff I know are God's work for me:

* To continue to impact the lives of my sons (ages 20, 21, & 26). None of them live at home right now.  So I call & email them regularly.  I feel good about that part.  But I'm impressed to spend more time praying for them.  Oh Father, show me how to pray more for my sons.

* To be a helpful and encouraging wife to John. I'm convicted to be more positive and not let work and life stress impact me in such a way that I complain to him.  I have to be so positive at my job that sometimes I kind of take stuff out on him. Oh Father, empower me to have a steadfast heart for John.  Help me look for and see the ways I can be a help and encouragement to him.  Please put a guard on my lips Holy Spirit to keep me from being a negative, complainer toward him.  Help me come up with positive ways to approach problems in daily life.  Help me know when it's best to just let things go.

*To be a light for Christ at my job. Oh Father I thank You for my job.  I thank You for your favor on me and the ways I've been able to get things done. Help me be smarter than I am and learn all I need to learn.  Please help me pursue and achieve excellence and find even more ways to give the glory back to you. Oh Father, make me aware of the hearts of those around me.  Give me insight into ways each day I can encourage the people around me.  Show me practical ways I can extend your love at my work.  I need your great wisdom and I thank you for it. Christmas is coming and I feel impressed to write a special note on a Christmas card for each of my direct reports.  Oh Father give me the thoughts and words so that it may be meaningful to them and accomplish what You desire. 

*Women's Ministry at church. Do you still want me there Lord?  Please make it clear to me if You want me to do something different.  For now I  know I'm supposed to continue facilitating this specific Bible Study on Thursdays until we're finished.  Oh Father, may this study be Yours.  Please accomplish what You want thought it and help me not get in the way.  May I follow Your leading.  The results are Yours Lord.  

* The people at my last job. I don't feel finished there Lord.  I still feel connected to, and love them.  Show me how to stay in touch in Your way.  Thank you that Kimberly reaches out to me still.  Show me things I can do with her or how to minister to her.  She doesn't even believe You're real.  There are so many Believers in her life, wonderful people, she's attracted to You in them but just doesn't know it.  Oh Father use me there.  And Jonathan.  You had me invest in him professionally and he says he's yours but he seems so immature in Your ways Lord - is there anything you want from me there?  

*Is there something else I'm supposed to be involved with or doing that I am missing?
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