Abundant Living

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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Too much stuff

I'm learning about Sabbath right now.

Officially I'm doing this through a Bible study I'm helping to facilitate at church.  We're using Priscilla Shirer's book Breathe.  Unofficially it's me and God. Me learning how to listen and change.

This concept of margin has long been one that attracts me. 

I've always believed in having margin in my finances.  John and I are blessed to be together and have the same attitude that  nothing we want to own or buy is worth having debt.  We both always want to have some extra money set aside so that there is margin.  Then we have freedom.  The kind of work that I do is very difficult and people in my position often get let go.  Having that financial margin, savings + lack of debt, helps me not worry about if I do lose my job.  I know that God will take care of me but I also believe that He wants me to be wise.

I'm attracted to empty spaces and lack of clutter.  John has saved, inherited and made some wise investments over the years.  He's substantially helped 4 of his 5 living children buy  homes. Recently he purchased a small condo that is 4 miles away from the beach for us.  I adored it from the moment we walked in.  Part of my adoration of this condo was it's minimalism.  All the spaces are economical and small. When I first spent the night there we had barely any furniture.

But our house is a different matter.  I feel like it's too much.  We have too many things here.  This line by Shirer in her book caught my attention:

"Our tendency toward too-full lives often expresses itself most tangibly in our over-crowded closets, unmanageable table surfaces, and cluttered desks as we cram them full of far more than we need."

I want to stream line and de-clutter my life.  But I don't know where to start, or how to start.

Father, I know that You've been growing this desire in me for simplicity over the past few years.  Please teach me how to implement it in my life.  Show me exactly how to begin the process of simplifying my life.  Thank You.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Amidst the work craziness

This morning I was blessed by these words from Proverbs 27:9 (HCSB):

Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel.

Today has been a super challenging day at work.  At 6:30AM my cell phone rang with a phone call from work.  I've been running every since. Right now I decided to actually take a lunch break and use a moment to slow down and reflect.

Amidst all the challenges of the day I'm grateful that I am not alone.  God is always near me.  He's also given me some great people with whom I get to work.  I talked to my boss a few moments today about 2 pending lawsuits and horrible (and untrue)  newspaper articles about my facility. I'm grateful that she's my boss.  She's smart, she cares, and I feel like she understands me.  Our staff developer, director of rehab, dietary supervisor, medical records director and admissions director are awesome at their jobs. They are people with whom I can partner to fix things when it's needed.  The DON remains problematic, but she is smart and can be helpful sometimes.

Basically I'm just grateful to know that in the midst of all of this work craziness, I don't have to rely solely on my own counsel.  I've got God, His Word, my boss and these other people with whom I work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I didn't get exactly what I asked for, but I'm still grateful

Photo from http://purpleinkllc.com/
Recently I wrote about how I felt good about myself because I asked for a raise.

Yesterday my boss was talking to me about something and let me know that my raise had been approved.  She asked me to complete the paperwork , scan it, email it to HR and cc the owner so that he wouldn't forget that he had agreed to it when it came time to sign off on it.  I received 79% of what I asked.

I am grateful that I received a raise.

This owner is very difficult to get to give people raises.  I've worked all year long very hard to pull out those few raises regarding which I was successful. I get the feeling that my boss really dragged it out of him.  I think he's foolish to come so close to giving me what I asked and not giving me it.  He does not realize, or perhaps not care, the message he sends.

I'm someone who runs his business.  I frequently have to use my own money because he is too new in business, growing too fast, and doesn't have the cash easily available.  When there's emergency repairs, it's my credit card that gets used.  Currently I'm out of pocket about $600 and it always takes around a month to get that money back (if I put through the paperwork right away and send a couple of reminders).

I'm sure grateful for the Word I read this morning:

"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24 (HCSB) 

May I work enthusiastically today.  I am not doing a good job here for the owner, I'm doing it for God.

Oh Heavenly Father, may I work as unto You today.  May I notice the people who work for me.  May I be a voice of encouragement and support.  May I work together with my staff to make a positive difference in the lives of these patients.  Thank You for Your goodness dear God.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Learning to ask for what I want

I don't have any problem asking for what I want at work when it's related to employees or running the business. I work hard at communicating clearly and concisely on these issues.

But when it comes to asking for myself, I'm uncomfortable.I don't feel good about myself when I do not stand up for myself.  I am not as effective if I don't take care of me.

August 15, 2015  marked my one year at this job.  August 14 was a Friday so I emailed my boss, and cc'd the owner, a self evaluation.  In my experience as an administrator for any company, my supervisors have never provided me with a job evaluation.  I don't know if it is because everyone is too busy, or that they may want to blame something on the administrator later if things go south and so they don't want anything good in writing.

For my self evaluation I listed what I believe have been my key contributions this year. Prior to that list, I pointed out that this list was accomplished by our team at this facility working together. Then I listed areas where we still need to improve.  I wrote a few short goals.  Lastly I wrote that I was petitioning for a 6% increase in pay and what, if this is granted, my new annual salary would be.

Even if I do not get the raise I'm asking for, or any other raise, I still feel good about myself.  I feel good about the work I've done and the things we've accomplished at this facility. I feel good that I clearly and succinctly asked for what I want. If the owner ignores me, or chooses not to give me a raise, I will continue to work hard as unto the Lord.   If I do not receive a raise, I will pray for God to bless me with another job where I will be respected and valued.  I would start keeping my eyes open and applying.

The day after that email my boss emailed me that she appreciates my work and is asking the owner to give me the raise.  I emailed her back how much that means to me.  I let her know that, whatever happens in terms of money, I want her to know that it means a lot to me to know that my work is valued. When I spoke with my boss this week about another matter, she brought up the raise and told me that she's hoping this next week to get the owner to give me the raise.

I really love my boss.  She's a sister in Christ, a wonderful person, and professionally brilliant. I feel that it's important however that the owner respect me.  He pays my DON more than anyone I've ever worked with closely and I know that he gave her a bonus for our incredible annual survey this year (even though I believe that I deserved as much credit for that survey as her). That bonus that he gave her is 5/6 of the amount I'm asking for as an increase.  I feel that if he does not give me the raise, it is an indication of his lack of respect for me as an administrator.

It's an interesting situation because it is not about comparing myself to the DON.  For me it is about asking for the respect that I know I deserve.  In order to be optimally successful in my position I need the respect and backing of my supervisor and the owner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

You get what you ask for

Every since I started this job a year ago, I daily  pray for wisdom.

Recently I received some very specific wisdom as to a way to do my job better.

I'd been thinking about how I spend too much time in my office and not enough time out on the unit. Although I walk through the building a few times each day, I feel like I'm not integrated enough with what's really going on. I have a lot of paper/computer work that needs to be completed.

Yesterday morning as I was waking up the thought came to me that I need to take my lap top and sit out at the nursing station and complete paperwork. I can't easily get internet connectivity at the nursing stations, but I can work on documents on the computer. Yesterday I spent about an hour and a half at station 3 and today I spent about an hour at station 2.  It's a good idea. I'm just sitting there doing my work, but the line staff are seeing me.  I'm overhearing things that are going on.  I find myself questioning why I didn't think of this before, but it just never occurred to me.

I'm grateful for the idea.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The silver lining

Photo from The Hollywood Republican
I have a love-hate relationship with my job.

I love many of the people with whom I work.  They genuinely care for the patients.  They're smart and go above and beyond.  They have that same dark humor that makes us all laugh at terrible things.  It is never boring because there's always some new drama going on with the patients or staff. I have lots of autonomy. I feel like I can make a difference. The drive to work is a stress free 40 minutes - none of the all too common congested freeway traffic common to southern California.

It's a bummer when family members are mean and unreasonable.  I hate it when my DON lies and manipulates. Or when she engages in behaviors that make me think about the fact that it's my license on the wall and it's me who will ultimately face the consequences. I hate that money is often such a stress because the owner doesn't reimburse petty cash quickly. We can't get credit accounts so we do much of our business on a cash basis. I frequently have to go into my pocket or use my credit card and then a month or two later I'll get paid back.

Lately I've been spending time reflecting on these verses:

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14-15a (NIV)

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

I pray that God would do for me what I can not do for myself.  That He would put a guard on my lips and let me a positive light that reflects His glory in my work place.  I remind myself to focus on those things that are good where I work.  I look for things at my work that I can specifically petition God regarding.  I want to see Him work and change things here.

When I look back over the past year that I've worked here, I can see many positive changes that have been made. I may not get everything I want here, but I've sure got a lot of good things.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is it a sin to be fat?

Last Sunday the pastor was teaching out of Matthew 4:1-11.  This sermon was part of series of sermons he has been preaching on overcoming temptation.  In last Sunday's sermon he took a closer look at each of the areas in which Jesus was tempted. The pastor categorized these temptations as food, presumption, & pride.

When he spoke about food the pastor talked about the number 1 health problem in the U.S. being obesity.  He talked about how we look to food for comfort and all struggle with this temptation. He showed how Jesus spoke of His relationship to God and His Word being more important than food.  He showed his struggle by these 2 examples: 1-He adores McDonald's french fries and thinks no one makes fries as good as them.  He said he'd love to go buy french fries and have them with a vanilla shake; nothing could be better.  But he doesn't because that's not good for him. 2-He may go to a buffet and he likes all the food there and wants to eat all the food, but he can only eat a little, because it's not good for him to eat everything.

I felt very guilty during the sermon since I'm significantly overweight.

Since that sermon I've been thinking on what the pastor said and I have mixed feelings.  I have a bunch of thoughts and feelings regarding this topic.  I want to unpack these thoughts and feelings so I can really see them, and hopefully achieve some clarity on this issue:

* The Pastor's right and any time I eat more than my body actually needs it is a sin.  I must be fat because I sin.

* I feel less-than, not good enough, because I have this struggle.

* All sin is forgivable.  But what about if we keep sinning? How hard do I try to overcome this specific temptation? I have an incredibly demanding and emotionally exhausting job and am so tired at the end of the day.  I know I need exercise but typically don't.  Sometimes I just eat food that is easy and not necessarily the most healthy.  I eat more than I absolutely need due to taste gratification, comfort, and habit.

* We all sin.  Although in the Matthew 4 account Jesus had been fasting and Satan tempted him with food, many Bible teachers generalize it to any gratification of the flesh. Gratifications of the flesh include food, sex, pain relief with excessive medication, excessive spending on beautiful things - things that involve the senses.

* We all sin. We all have specific sins that are more tempting for us; sins with which we struggle to refrain from regularly. Our common culture as well as our church culture focuses on some and not other sins.

* One type of sin would be the excess issue.  There are things that are good and right in and of themselves, in the right context and quantity; but are unhealthy and sinful if engaged in to excess or in the wrong context.  Things in this category would be: food, sex, shopping, alcohol consumption, etc.

* Some of us struggle with some things that can be done in excess and don't have too much trouble with others.  If you don't struggle in a particular area, for example shopping/spending, it's easy to be critical of others who struggle in that area.

* I feel like food and weight are not really issues for our pastor so it's easy to focus on those sins.  I see him struggle with judgmental-ism, temper, and impatience.  If I'm 100% honest, a part of me feels like - so he's focusing on food but not those things.  Yet, the Word is the Word and Truth is Truth - it is there in God's Word and He's teaching it. The fact that I know he struggles with those things is partly because he's open about who he is (and partly because I'm observant about people).

* I feel frustrated, and maybe if I'm entirely honest with myself, angry. Angry that the sin I struggle with is impossible to hide.  My body shows my sin for all to see. Whereas some sins not everybody has to know the moment they meet you.

* I'm thinking how Psalm 139:13-16 depicts that God knew who he was creating when I was in my mother's womb.  That he had a specific design when He was forming me.  Because Scripture also teaches that God knows everything (Isaiah 46:9-10, Psalm 139:1-3, 1 John 3:20, Romans 11:33, Hebrews 4:13), I take it to then mean that God knew that I'd be predisposed to weight gain as well as unhealthy food use.

* The reason something is a sin is because it's not what God wants for us.  He loves us and only wants our best. Hebrews 12:1-3 talks about getting rid of sin in our lives so we can run the race God has for us.  I believe that each of us has a specific, unique, race or path that God has for us.  The Bible is saying to get rid of the sin so we can experience more success on our journey.

* The pastor's motives, thoughts, or possible inadequacy are not relevant.  My attitude toward God, my submission to Him above EVERYTHING else is.

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