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

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Exchange

Photo from bonders.org
Today we're having a gift exchange at my work.  There's a luncheon party during which the gift exchange will take place.  Of course we all wanted to give everyone gifts, but none of us have that much money, so we settle for each drawing a name and buying a gift for that person.  The season is filled with various exchanges of gifts.

Perhaps that is why these words of Futon J. Sheen captivated me when I read them this morning:

"Sanctity is not giving up the world. It is exchanging the world. It is a continuation of that sublime transaction of the incarnation in which Christ said to man: "You give me your humanity and I give you my divinity. You give me your time, I will give you my eternity.  You give me your bonds, I will give you my omnipotence.  You give me your slavery, I give you my freedom. You give me your death, I give you my life. You give me your nothingness, I give you my all."

Wonderful scriptures such as Titus 2:11-14, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and Romans 12:1-3 describe this exchange process.  My experience has been that it really is a process, not a one time thing. As I read Sheen's words, and meditate on these scriptures, it's more than I can understand.  God is so good and I am so grateful.

Oh Father, may I choose today to be mindful of You throughout the day.  May I constantly choose to exchange my ways for yours.  Help me understand how to embrace what you've done for me.  Help me be your person in my life, extending your love, comfort and assistance to those around me.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Singing praises - Advent day 17

Graphic from http://designers-original.blogspot.com
Advent is about Jesus.  John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Luke 1:5-25 is the account of how God told John the Baptist’s parents about him before he was born.  John the Baptist’s mother was named Elizabeth. What strikes me as I’m thinking about this passage this advent season is how Elizabeth felt.   In the end of verse 25 of this passage she says:

“In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Prior to this blessing from God, Elizabeth was barren and felt disgraced.  This has got me to  thinking about the times when I’ve felt that my life was barren.

Elizabeth was barren in a physical sense because she was without child.  I've been barren at times in my life in a spiritual sense. "Barren" means "to be rooted, sterile, dry, bereaved".  When a person is spiritually and emotionally barren she is sorrowful, depressed, cast down. She can also be distracted and have an ungrateful spirit.  This kind of state of being robs one of the spiritual liberty and joy which Jesus came to provide for His people.  A barren Christian is one who is in a rut, who is rooted in the wrong place.

Isaiah 54:1-6 is an incredible scripture in light of the fact that I can fall into a rut and become rooted in a spiritual barren place.  It beautifully describes God's redemption and provision.  It describes how God will do more for us than we ever imagined.  This passage also directs Israel, or me today as His follower, to sing praises to God.

This morning I got up extra early.  I wanted to make time for singing praises to God. I'm not really much of a morning person but after spending time in singing praises to God I found my spirit lifted and my heart changed to one of gratitude.

Oh Father, You're so worthy of praise.  May my attitude be one of appreciation for all you've done for me.  May words of thankfulness constantly be on my lips today.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Can I see God? - Advent day 14

Photo from sandraheskaking.com
Throughout the advent season there exists the four-fold juxtaposition of Jesus.  Jesus foretold of in the old
testament.  Jesus who was born to this earth as a human.  Jesus who will come again.  Jesus who is the king of my heart and life.

Throughout all four contexts there always runs the theme of the question.  The question of if we see Jesus.

Scriptures such as Psalm 80:1-20 depict Israel's plea to God to see them and restore them.  Historically we know that it was not God who left Israel, it was the nation who chose to turn their backs on Him.  I look in Matthew 13:55-57 and see how when Jesus walked among us, people in his own home town did not recognize Him as the awaited Messiah.  Even when Jesus was doing miracles, they wrote Him and His miraculous actions off.  In Matthew 17:1-13 I read about the transfiguration.  In the second half of the 11th verse through the 13th verse I read these words of Jesus:

“To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Jesus was talking about how God's prophet, and then God Himself, was with the people but they did not even see Him.

How often do I miss seeing God?  How often is He working but I miss it because I'm so involved in my own agenda?

May God's Holy Spirit in me sharpen my ability to see God and His work in the world around me.

Oh Father, thank You for Jesus.  Thank You that You came to this earth.  I'm sorry that we missed you then and that I miss you so often today.  Help me to stop missing you.  Change me from the inside out so that I can see you working around me.  Help me participate with You in the work You're doing around me daily in my world.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hope for God’s reign of justice and mercy - Advent day 11

Graphic from liferunners.org
Thinking about this advent season I re-read the wonderful praises of Mary after she had found out that she would be the mother of the Savior:

I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Luke 1:46-55 (MSG) 

These aren't exactly the typical words of an expectant mother.  These are the words of a very Jewish Mary who had grown up learning about the Savior who was to come to Israel.  These are the words of Mary the woman who lived as part of people who were under the rule of another nation.

Yet these are my words too.  I live in a world that is not under the captivity of another government, but that is tyrannized by sin.  Scriptures such as Isaiah 11:1-20 which foretell of Jesus the Savior, talk about both his first coming through the virgin birth as well as his second coming. Jesus' birth brings hope.  Hope for God's reign of justice and mercy.   

Because I'm a follower of Jesus, I need to be a part of His kingdom way of life; justice and mercy need to be guidelines in my daily life.

Megan McKenna, wrote a book Send My Roots Rain.  In it she defines justice and mercy.  I found her definitions thought provoking.  Here's what she says about justice:

"Justice, peace, and the poor are the strands of a single braid that
ties all together in the world and ties us in turn to God. The
definition of justice that I most often use is this: justice is love
expressed in terms of sheer human need: food, water, clothing,
shelter, medicine and health care, education, human rights and
freedom, hope for a future for one's children, freedom from fear and
violence, the dignity of work, and participation in society and
history. Our lives are made of justice. Our moral and ethical choices
are first of all about justice. Our relationships must be steeped in
justice, or terror and violence begin to reign on earth and
destruction inevitably follows."

Here are her thoughts about mercy:

“Mercy is the rain of God, the reign of God, the rein of God. Mercy
gives birth out of death. Mercy comforts and fills up with what is
lacking. Mercy heals. Mercy not only forgets but remembers, re-members
and puts back together better than originally. Mercy is best described
by poetry, by music, by psalm, prayer, story, and silence. Mercy is
the echo of the holy lingering, absent still among us. Mercy is God's
hope and prayer for us."

I'm reminded of these words from Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
(NIV)

 I'm challenged today to be on the look out for opportunities to participate in God's justice and to extend mercy.

Oh Father, I thank You for Jesus.  I recognize that I need You.  May your holy spirit in me rise up big and help me to see the world around me as you do.  May I experience ways today for you to extend justice and mercy through me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Avent Day 10

Graphic from http://sarablarson.blogspot.com
Advent is a time when I remember that Israel longed for the birth of the Messiah.  It’s a time when I ponder what it means for the Messiah to have come and to be real in my life.  Passages such as Isaiah 40:3-11 and Isaiah 61:1-7 provide beautiful pictures of this double truth.  Jesus was the awaited Messiah.  As I celebrate advent and remember His birth, He is my Messiah.

Portions of the Isaiah 61 passage, the 2nd half of the first verse through the first half of the third verse, in the Message paraphrase capture my attention today:

He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
GOD sent me to announce the year of his grace—
 a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,


I’ve accepted Jesus as my Messiah; my savior and my Lord.  This means
I’m to participate in His work in my world today.  Who are the broken
hearted around me?  Where do I come in contact with people who are
captives and prisoners?  Who does He want me to announce His grace and
bring comfort to?

Father, help me see this very day who these people are that you are
bringing into my life.  May I not miss any opportunities to be used by
you to bring healing, comfort, encouragement and hope to the people
with whom I am in contact today.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Day 5 - The unexpected Christ

Photo from http://www.thejoecatholic.org/
As I was reading an advent devotional these words struck a chord for me:

 “God certainly does awesome deeds that we could not expect.” 

I find this true repeatedly.

No time more so than in the birth of Christ. Luke 2:1-7 describes the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth. In the first chapter of Genesis I see Jesus present in creation. In Scriptures such as Jude 1:25, Revelation 4, and Revelation 5:6-14 I see God’s glory in Jesus.  These scriptures show that Jesus is the all powerful creator and worthy of worship.   Yet God chose to separate Himself and take on the form of a mere human.  He even chose to be a human of lowly origin.  

My husband John and I were just talking the other night about how the humbleness of Jesus’ birth is so different than how we think as humans.  Perhaps by sending Jesus in a lowly condition God is reminding us of our extreme need. Jesus came humbly because he stood in the place of people who had been brought low by sin. It may be that we need a reminder of our lowliness whenever God visits us so that we won’t be tempted to think that God's mercy reflects well on us. May I never think that I gratify God by my worship or good deeds May I never turn God's grace into grounds for boasting. Jesus the Savior in the manger reminds me that Jesus' birth was all about God's condescension, not my deserving.  

God continues to do things differently than I expect.  I want to be strong and good for His glory.  Instead I mess up all the time.  Then I see in Scriptures such as Matthew 5:2-3 and 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 that when I am at my weakest it is a good thing, because then I can give it all over to Him.  When I am weak and humbled I can let go and let Him do the work through me.

These thoughts encourage me.  My life is normally busy; family, work, school, ministry.   The advent season then brings extra things.  Things which are a blessing but I’m starting to feel that overwhelming feeling – how can I do it all?  I’m starting to feel totally inadequate.  Meditating on who Jesus is and how He came to earth, and about how God does things in unexpected ways, helps put matters into perspective for me.  It makes me realize anew that it’s not about me.  It’s about God and His plan.  It’s about me just looking to Him for what He wants me to do.  Looking to Him for the strength to do those things.  Looking for Him to do His work through me.

Oh Father, You know I can’t do this on my own. Please teach me how to let You work through me.  Help me learn how to depend on You in every situation.  Thank You that You do great and mighty things and even choose to use lowly people like me.  May your will be done in my life today.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent Day 2 - Waiting on Christ

Photo from http://www.umcneb.org/blogs/detail/18
The theme of waiting is throughout the advent season.  Thoughts of how the nation of Israel awaited Jesus their Messiah.  We wait for Christmas, the day that symbolizes the birth of Jesus.  Psalm 27:10-14 encourages a lifestyle of waiting on God.  Especially verse 14:

Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord


Matthew 24: 36-42 speaks about waiting on Jesus' return to this earth.

One advent devotional that I read talked about how this waiting is not in a manner of seeking mindless
distractions to numb out as you do when you're waiting in a doctor's office.  Waiting on God is a kind of waiting that generates hope and renews strength. Waiting is not necessarily resignation from all activity; it
is submission to God's better idea. Waiting on God means that all of our life is brought under God's umbrella of authority and direction.

So I started thinking about what waiting on God really means for me in my life today.  I came up with two things:

1.  To not give up hope on those situations that seem like God's not gonna come through in the way I'd wanted.  The big area like this for me is my messed up family of origin.  I've written here before about my sister who is mentally ill.  As I was thinking on waiting I realized that I'd kind of given up on my family, figured this is just how it is. When I went through the Scriptures and prayers related to waiting earlier in the day I prayed for God to enlighten my heart as to what He wants from me with regard to waiting. Later in the day the thought came to me that I need to wait on Him with regard to my family of origin.  To continue praying for them and look to see what only He can do in this situation.

2. To wait on Him to make me right inside.  Just last night someone who I'm working with in ministry did something that hurt my feelings. It was just a little thing that I'm embarrassed to admit that I was hurt.  I ignored it and acted like I didn't even notice but then when I got home I found myself feeling angry and as  tried to figure out what was going on I realized that I felt hurt and disappointed by what this sister had done.  I don't know if I'll ever speak on it to the sister that inadvertently hurt my feelings, but I do know that I need to wait on God.  To give my feelings, expectations, and whole heart to Him.  To wait on Him for healing and direction.  Truth is that I don't want to be someone who gets her feelings hurt; truth is I'm human and our fragile feelings are part of the human condition.


Oh Father, may I learn how to wait on You.  Because You are my source.  You are my hope.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent day 1 - The Light of Christ

Photo from contest.thesca.org
At the beginning of this season of advent I want to go deeper into Christ.

This morning I'm thinking about those verses from John 1:1-4 about how Jesus came to be a light.  Our world is dark with the influence of sin and we need His light.  I also personally need His light. 

This morning the author of a first day of advent devotional that I read talked about how in our cities we can't see the light from the stars because there is too much competition with the city lights.  He challenged me to make sure I'm not too distracted by the glare of the computer, my blackberry, or the television to be able to see the light of Christ.

Father, may this season of advent be a time when I let my heart become more wholly yours.  Show me what things are distracting me from You.  Help me set those things aside so that I may see Your light more clearly. May seeing Your light help me also see other people as You do.  May I see the people who are in my life each day and not miss out on any opportunities that you bring my way to reach out and bless them.  Thank you for being my light.  Thank You that You, the great big God of the universe, want me to draw near to You.  I can never thank You enough.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An email that surprised me

Graphic from motomessage.com
I'm written before about the hardships I endured when I worked as an H.S.A. for 2 years at an Immigration Detainment center.  It ended badly and they acted like I'd done wrong - but I didn't do the things that they said I did.  It makes me sad when I think about it.

I pray and ask God to help me learn whatever I was supposed to learn and then focus on my life today.

None the less, I was blessed by receiving an email from the man who'd been warden for a bit over half of the time I'd worked at that job.  He'd left due to medical reasons.  Imagine how my heart felt when I read these words this morning:

"Tracy, I am cleaning up my contact list, but felt compelled to send you a note. I feel very bad about your experience at Adelanto. You are a wonderful person who was tasked with an impossible job. I appreciate the countless hours and effort you put into your work. You are an outstanding person and I appreciate you.  Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Thanks again, and don't let people who are serving their own selfish interests define who you are"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lacking Motivation

Photo from http://www.studentloannetwork.com
I can't seem to get motivated in the current finance class I'm taking.  I just have to push myself to work on the coursework and can barely seem to do that.  In general I find going to school + work + life difficult but in the other two classes I've taken so far I've found them so interesting that I can push myself to do the work.  But the truth is that finance is not really my thing.  I'm not particularly a lover of numbers.  The chapter on budgeting was the only one I really got into so far. 

Yet....I think I heard right and that God impressed on me to go back to school.  So I pray for God to help me become more disciplined.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A welcome interruption

I'm actually starting to look forward to that time when I first get home from work and ride the exercise bike.  This is not a spectacular or glamorous exercise bike, this is a $5 garage sale bike.  Such is my approach to life.

I'm on call 24/7 so I felt a bit displeased as I was peddling along and heard the thunk of a text.  Quickly glancing down while still peddling I saw that it was my son Daniel.  Since it wasn't work, I finished out the next ten minutes before reading it.

I could read the excitement in his words so I called him.  He was excited because God had used him!

Recently I'd mentioned how he's started leading a Bible study with his team mates at school. Since the 9 team mates said they wanted to come, it  hasn't really appeared to pan out.  The first week 3 people showed up.  The second meeting only one.  He'd questioned if he'd heard wrong - if he was supposed to start it after all.  I'd encouraged him that this occurrence is not unusual and that he just needs to make sure he's obedient and leave the results to God.

Today 7 people showed up.  One of the 7 was a girl  from his team who only came along because some other friends had came.  When they were examining a verse about grace she voiced how this was not at all how she understood Christianity.  She'd previously been involved with a very active "Christian" group on his campus that teaches grace + works = salvation.  They continued to  look at what the Bible says about the free gift of faith and salvation and discuss the topic.  Another girl in the group started talking about how she's always felt like she really couldn't be a Christian because she just can't get her stuff together; she was intrigued by this discussion. No one made any decision today, but they were looking at the Bible, faith, and God in a different way and asking relevant questions.

Later in the day Daniel bumped into the girl who had just happened along to the study today.  Daniel told me that he sensed that she wanted to talk but was hesitant so he stepped out in faith and went and talked with her.  She began to open up to him and share her burdened heart.  She was overwhelmed by the burden of this false teaching of all the things she had to do to be right with God that this group has been teaching her.  As Daniel shared more with her he could see that she wanted to believe but was not quite there yet.

But he was euphoric.  I know that feeling.  It doesn't matter how small it may seem to others.  To get to be used by the God of the universe to help others = total rush!

I'm smiling away as I'm typing because I'm so grateful to see my 19-year old son seeking God and being used by Him.  Tonight I'm praying for these team mates of Daniel's.  I continue to pray for Daniel.

I'm looking forward to seeing God use Daniel in future days.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thinking about how God works

This morning I'm thinking on how God is working in my son Dylan's life. A while back I shared about how Dylan and his girlfriend were having a baby. Lillian Eden White came into our lives this past February.  She's beautiful and wonderful.  She is growing and changing every day.  She truly is a gift from God.

But what I'm thinking on this morning is how grateful I am for the changes in Dylan. Dylan's a wonderful person but we went through a really tough time his last two years of high school and first year of college.  He got into smoking dope, partying, being self confident to the point of unrealistic about himself.  It was a  hurtful and sad time.  I kept wondering what happened to all the seeds I'd sown into his life of love, truth, and God's word.

But lately I've been seeing some results from those seeds.  Once he found out his girlfriend Kelsie was pregnant, he stepped up to the plate.  He asked her to marry him (OK, OK, I'll be honest here - it bugs me that they are still engaged, have a kid and live together but aren't married yet.  I have to remind myself that it's their lives, not mine).  He moved in with her and took responsibility.  He is working 35 hours during 5 evenings a week.  He goes to school full time 2 nights and online.  While his girlfriend works during the day he stays home with Lilly and makes them dinner each night.  He's doing well in school and working toward his BS in Business.  He remains crazy about Lilly and in love with Kelsie.  He manages all their bills and works diligently to be frugal with their money. When we talk on the phone he never complains.  He talks about how fun Lilly is, what he's learning in school, new things he's tried cooking, and ways he's found to be wise with his money. He's a good man.  I admire him. I'm grateful for what God is doing in his life.

There is not a doubt in my mind that God used the birth of Lillian Eden to bring Dylan to his senses and get him off the destructive path he was taking.

I continue to pray that God would draw Dylan back to Himself.  That God would bring both Kelsie and Dylan to Himself.  That He would cause Dylan's heart to open up and desire to read the Word.  That they would meet another young couple who truly love God who will reach out to them - that they would get into a local church.

I'm grateful for what God's done, is doing, and will do in my son Dylan's life.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Delighted

Imagine my delight to read an email from my youngest son telling me about an experience he’d had with a sermon he’d heard at church.  The pastor had spoken about the importance of small groups.  Instead of feeling impressed to attend a small group, Daniel felt impressed to start one with his team mates.  He sent out an invite and had 9 team mates say they’d be interested.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gratified

I knew that the training accomplished what I'd been aiming for when one of the facility managers who I'll call outspoken girl came up to me following the meeting.  She asked me for extra copies of the training because she wanted to provide this same training to her staff.

To explain why this was so meaningful let me tell you a bit about outspoken girl.  I first met her during a facility manager meeting of the managers for the 13 homes which I supervise.  10 of the13 homes with which I work are the new homes to the company. These 10 homes came with a recent merger. Out of the 13 managers present in that initial encounter she was the one with the worst attitude. Her 'tude was written all over her face.  My boss Carl even asked her early on during this meeting what was up and she said she'd had to work the NOC shift the prior evening due to a staff call-off and her inability to find coverage.  Even this explanation did not explain her negativity.  Since that day outspoken girl has had some moments when she's definitely appeared less than happy about my performance.   She's been less than delighted about my failure to engage with her in negative discourse regarding her direct supervisor.  I've become rather fond of her because I've seen how much she loves and is committed to the individuals who reside in the home she manages.  She is competent at her job duties.  She just comes from a ghetto type background and is outspoken.

I've known for a long time that I get excited about things that don't seem to affect others the same way.  I think this training is just such an example.  I was blessed by the fact that they interacted and just about every point that I wanted brought out was said by one of the managers in the room.  The training was on a topic that could have felt like the voice of the teachers in Peanuts (you know the ones: blah, blah, blah).  It was about professionalism.

At the end of the training I'd had each manager take one of the attributes of a professional and share about a time when they've witnessed this attribute in another facility manager in the group.  This exercise turned out just as I'd hoped it would.  It turned out to be a time when the group realized that, although we each have areas where we need to grow, we work with some rather wonderful people.  The effects of each manager being built up could be felt in the room.

When it was over Carl said to me on a side note that he'd had doubts when I'd told him that I wanted to present some training on professionalism as part of the monthly managers meeting.  He hadn't thought it would end up successful but that he'd been really pleased with how it actually turned out.

My heart soared.  I adore getting to be a part of encouraging people.

A God time

I was driving Sheila and I to a Saturday matinee at a local community theater when I heard the words that blessed me so much. Sheila told me that in all the years she'd been in Bible study groups that she'd never experienced a group sharing time like we'd had the prior Thursday.  It was a time when women barred their hearts, secrets, and fears.  A time when they were met by others, right where they were at.  A time when all sense of "judgment" was suspending and an air of understanding pervaded.  It was a God time.

I'm so grateful.  I'm looking forward to what our God is going to continue to do during this group in the upcoming weeks.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

God blessing me in my work

Photo from aboverubies.net
I haven't written in so long because I've been doing so MUCH writing for a course in U.S. Health systems that I just finished.  But I wanted to take a chance to reflect on how God has blessed me in the area of work lately.

I've lamented at length here about my prior job's challenges and ultimate job loss.  But, since that time God's provided in some unexpected ways.

Prior to my last job I'd been out of work for awhile.  In an effort to obtain work I'd put my resume out there through a few venues as well as applied for more jobs than I could count.  During that time an executive director (ED) of a small human services company had contacted me. This ED's name was Carl and he and offered me a job that was the same occupation I'd had when I'd been pregnant with my youngest son (who was born in 1994).  Since I didn't have any offers coming my way I'd accepted.  I'd worked for them for 10 months prior to going to work for my last job.  My last job had only allowed me 1 1/2 weeks before I had to start.  Since I had not wanted to leave this company in a lurch I'd worked something out to work part time for them for a month after I started my last job.  By working nights and weekends for them I was able to get all the necessary paperwork accomplished, be available on call to staff , and not cause my boss any extra work while she was working to fill my position.  Every day that I worked there I was stunned by what a nice group of people they were.  This particular operation was owned by a larger company and I liked several things about the larger organization; mainly their commitment to the people they serve. But I'd felt like it was a step back since it was the same job I'd held many years ago and the pay was very low.

When I found myself out of work again recently I got back on the job application tread mill.  The economy must be a bit better now because I was receiving job offers.  But they were all for terrible paying jobs.  One day the thought came to me that if I were going to be paid poorly I'd rather work for that last job again because I really did like and miss them.  So I went on line and applied one morning and by that afternoon I was called in for an interview.  During the interview Carl told me that as far as he was concerned they had an opening for the same job type that I'd left and I could have it.  But he also told me about a potential job opening.  The larger company was in the process of merging his operation with another one.  The ED of that company was going to become a program manager who would be equal to my old boss.  Carl would be the ED over both businesses.  At that point both of these business would have became one operation.  The larger company was doing this because they'd received a rate cut that was retroactive and a terrible financial blow.  Merging these two businesses would allow them to only have the costs of one central office, merge some jobs, and delete a few positions.  These actions would save the company money.  Carl had told me that there was a strong chance that the other ED who would be becoming a program manager may leave.

So I swallowed my pride and went back to work for them.  Everyone was wonderful.  I'd been gone two years and they welcomed me back.  I worked hard to catch up and remember how things were done or learn the new ways things were being done.  Due to the merger my boss, the program manager, was so busy that she didn't have time to spend training someone.  I kept assuring her that she didn't need to take time for me and generally tried to be an asset.  They seemed glad to have me on board.  The pay was still low but I reminded myself that low pay is better than no pay.  The pay was enough to just cover all my needs.  I chose to focus on all the things I enjoyed about the job each day and to speak words of gratitude.

The demoting-from-executive-director-to-program-manger person did quit the job.  As is company policy the program manager position was posted internally and two others besides me applied.  One of the people who applied is a man who has worked for the company for more than 10 years.  I'd gotten to know him a bit when I'd worked here previously.  I respect and love him as my brother in Christ.  I felt conflicted because in some ways, even though I have a considerably better resume, I felt that he deserved the job because he has been there so long.  So I prayed; not that I would get the job but that God's will would be done.  The day before the decision was to be announced I made the opportunity to talk to this brother in the Lord that was also applying for the same job as me.  I explained that I admire him and think he's good at his job.  I shared with him that I'd told my mom that I couldn't pray that I get the job because I think so well of him; that I was instead just praying for God's will in the situation.  He seemed surprised at my candor.  He then told me about how he'd just that morning removed his bid for the job because as he'd prayed about it, he had not had a peace.  He felt like God was not leading him to that job.

I got the job and with it came a 34% increase in pay.  It still only pays about half of what I made when I was a nursing home administrator but few jobs pay as well as that did for me, especially in this economy.  The pay more than meets my needs.  I'll be able to help my two sons who are in college even more than I have. I'm grateful.

I'm especially grateful because I actually look forward each day to going to work.  I used to be that way about my work.  But in my last job, and during that year at the one facility where I was a nursing home administrator last, I struggled.  I kept trying to speak out the things that were good about my job and to practice gratitude, but it was difficult. Both were terrible experiences in many ways.  But I did learn a lot in both situations.

But today I rejoice!  Not because there aren't any difficulties at this job - there are always difficulties.  But because I enjoy it.  Because my current boss Carl is supportive and positive.  Because my old boss who I liked so much is now my equal and we partner together.  I can sense her relief because my position makes hers a lot easier.  I want to do that for her because I think so well of her.   I also have the chance to mentor people who do the job that I used to do.  Training and mentoring are two of my most favorite job activities and I get to do a lot of both in this job.  I feel like I can use the gifts, skills, and experiences with which God has blessed me to be of help to others.

God has blessed me in totally unexpected ways in my work and I'm beyond grateful!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Even when

I'm currently reading The Promise by Father Jonathan Morris.

In his first chapter approaching the subject of suffering he makes the point that sometimes trials make us better people, that we grow through the experiences.  He then observes that other times it's impossible to find proportion between what we've gained and lost.  Morris then makes this statement:

"True faith believes in God's love even when God chooses not to intervene."

Isn't that the age old choice?  To trust God even when we don't have children, or don't get the job, or lose the job, or lose the spouse or child - when the situation doesn't turn out right.  When nothing we could learn through the experience could ever compensate for the pain and loss.

Sometimes life is like that.  Then what?

Photo from http://edgechurchaurora.com
I'm reminded of the words of James, the pillar of the early Christian church:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG)

That phrase "under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors" comes into bearing here.  I struggle with selfishness.  I almost always want things to be my way.

But I want to be a person who believes in God, who trusts Him.  Even when He chooses not to intervene.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Missing

Sometimes I miss it
not because meaning is hidden between the lines,
but because my head is in a different place
and I don't understand.
Seems like others caught what I missed.
Big things are happening,
all centered around the theme
of the meaning I missed.
I feel stupid
and I hate it.

Disconnected.

I can't feel anything
stronger than the gratitude that overwhelms me,
because even when I'm dumb
and disconnected,
You still want me.
You still draw me to you.
In You I have
hope amidst my darkness.

Connected.

You bring purpose
even to those who aren't the best and brightest,
people like me.
Photo from http://www.ivanshaw.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Word Power

Photo from http://tdavidbeck.blogspot.com
A friend and I are facilitating a Bible study at our church.  As part of the group, each week we spend some time in prayer.  I've tried to include various types of prayer: silent, thanksgiving, popcorn.  This week I felt impressed to introduce praying the scriptures to the group.

As I spent time preparing, God encouraged me with these words  from the Bible:

Proverbs 18:21: 

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (NIV)

Isaiah 55:10-12
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (NASV)


I want to speak life over the people for whom I'm praying.  I want to pray with power and know that I'm praying God's will.  Periodically in the past I've prayed specific scriptures that I've felt led to pray over my husbands, sons, or others.  Today as I prepared  I felt impressed to do this more.

I picked some common prayer situations and scriptures to get the group started:

Unbelievers to come to faith
John 6:44 - that God would draw him to Himself
2 Corinthians 4:4 - that Satan would be prevented from blinding him to truth
Deuteronomy 4:29 - that he would seek after God
John 5:24 - that he would Believe

Wisdom regarding specific challenges before a fellow Believer 
Proverbs 3:13-14 - that God would bless her with wisdom and help her to gain understanding 
Ephesians1:17-18 - a prayer for wisdom and revelation 
Colossians 1:9 - for wisdom and understanding by the Spirit 
James3:17 - for heavenly wisdom

Strength and stamina for specific situations before a fellow Believer 
Ephesians 3:16-17 - for strengthening in his inner being 
Philippians 4:13  - to remember and experience that he can do all things through Christ's strength 
Colossians 2:7 - that he would be rooted, grounded, and strengthened in faith 
2Thessalonians 2:16-17 - for God's strengthening

That a fellow Believer would experience godly self esteem
Ephesians 2:10 - that she would recognize in the deepest part of her heart that she is God’s masterpiece 
Psalm139:14 - that she would recognize in the deepest part of her heart that she is fearfully and wonderfully made 
Matthew22:37-39 -that God’s Holy Spirit inside of her would empower her to love God, himself, and others

That a fellow Believer would experience fruitfulness  
John 15:8 - that God would bless him and that he would bear much fruit and bring glory to God 
James1:25 -that he would look intently into God’s Word and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, practice what he reads and experience God’s blessing on his life 
Jeremiah17:7-8 - that God would root him in Himself and nourish & refresh him and cause him to bear fruit 
1 Corinthians 1:4-7 - that he would use the gifts God's given him to bear fruit

I'm interested to see what God's going to do in our prayer time tomorrow night and in the coming days.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mind boggeling

Picture from http://fineartamerica.com
Tomorrow is the day we celebrate the fact that our Lord is risen.

Gratitude is not a big enough word to express what I feel.

Here are some scriptures and a quote. I'm thinking on these today and thought you might appreciate them too:


Luke 17:20-21:
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (NIV)

Ezekiel 11:19-20:
19 I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; I will remove the hearts of stone from their bodies and I will give them tender hearts, 20 so that they may follow my statutes and observe my regulations and carry them out. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God.(NET)

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31-32 “That’s right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master.” God’s Decree.
33-34 “This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree. (MSG)

Psalm 40:7-8
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.” (NKJV)

Hebrews 10:3-10     

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. So when he came into the world, he said,
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.
Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said,Here I am: I have come—it is written of me in the scroll of the book—to do your will, O God.’”
When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.(NET)

"The basic and most fundamental problem of the spiritual life is this acceptance of our hidden and dark self, with which we tend to identify all the evil that is in us. We must learn by discernment to separate the evil growth of our actions from the good ground of the soul. And we must prepare that ground so that a new life can grow up from it within us, beyond our knowledge and beyond our conscious control. The sacred attitude is, then, one of reverence, awe and silence before the mystery that begins to take place within us when we become aware of our innermost self. In silence, hope, expectation, and unknowing, the [we] abandon [ourselves] to the divine will: not as an arbitrary and magic power whose decrees must be spelled out from cryptic ciphers, but as to the stream of reality and life itself. The sacred attitude is, then, one of deep and fundamental respect for the real in whatever new form it may present itself."
Thomas Merton. The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation.
William H. Shannon, editor (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003): 55.


I constantly feel like it's beyond my grasp to understand.  

God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the commander of the hosts of the armies of heaven, the Holy One,  chose to make it so that I could come into relationship with Him.  Chose to separate Himself and His son so that His son Jesus could die on my behalf. Chose to allow a part of Himself, His Holy Spirit, to come live inside me and create anew my spirit. 

Mind boggeling.

I do not really understand.  But I'm gateful.

What about you?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Values driven leadership

Graphic from http://blog.7geese.com
My first class toward my MA in Health Administration  is on Leadership.

I actually look forward to the times when I'm engaged in the course, reading & writing assignments, and the course project.  It's thought provoking.  The professor is encouraging and inspirational.  I've been blessed to do well on the first 3 of 4 units.   The premise for the course is  leadership that is driven by the leader's values. 

I've decided to spend some time choosing my core values.  Then I want to spend time in subsequent posts thinking on each of them from a Biblical perspective. 

The most difficult thing for me is  narrowing down the list.   Some of the companies I've worked for in the past have had core values and mission statements.  These companies never had more than 4 core values.  I couldn't get my list down to less than 9.  These are the value that I want to make sure underlie my decision making and impact how I lead:

Surrender
Surrendering my entire life to God and letting Him be in the driver's seat.

Simplicity
Letting my words be few and ensuring that everything I say is true.

Congruence
Making sure that my words and actions match.

Mercy
Consistently choosing to extend compassion and forgiveness.

Generosity
Keeping my hands wide open and having a lifestyle of giving.

Service
Doing what needs to be done to help others.

Humility
Considering myself who God says I am; no more or less.

Diligence
Working to accomplish what needs to be done.

Vision
Keeping in sight what God wants me to do.

What about you, what are your core values?


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Talk about a good book

I'm not much of a football fan.  I've only gotten into football at all because two of my three sons played in high school.  I checked this book out of the library because I've been checking out books on leadership and this particular book was on CD.  I adore listening to books on CD while I cook, clean, or engage in other mindless duties.

The book is Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy.  I was repeatedly inspired by a few things about Dungy's story:

He didn't hear God's voice in loud, spectacular ways.  Repeatedly throughout the book Dungy talks about how he had a decision to make and he prayed.  He repeatedly says that he didn't have a lightening bolt or a voice from heaven but he did what he thought was God's will.  I can so relate to that.

He experienced deep tragedy and stuck with God.  I appreciate how he didn't have simple answers as to why his son killed himself, he just chose to trust God through it all.  He hurt, he grieved, he was confused.  He chose to walk with God to the best of his ability through it all.

Repeatedly he had life experiences where things didn't work out.  Experiences of losing jobs or not getting positions he'd been led to expect.  Like most people, I can relate to that.  I was inspired by Dungy's emphasis on how God used those situations to move him to where God wanted him to be.

His emphasis on family and work-life balance.  It was refreshing to read a book by someone who wasn't obsessed with work success to the point of leaving behind his family.  I've seen too much of that.  It was great to hear examples of a devoted, hard worker who also valued his family.                                                                                                                                  

He was mentored and mentored others.  My heart has long burned with the passion of wanting to make a difference in the lives of people.  I read books related to leadership because I desire to be an effective leader in my family, work and ministry.   I was encouraged as I listened to the way God brought people into Dungy's life to mentor him, and the ways God used him to mentor others.  I pray for open eyes to see God's leading me in these ways.

His take on success.   I think Dungy says this best himself: "God’s definition of success is really one of significance–the significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others. This significance doesn’t show up in the win-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels. It’s found in the hearts and lives of those we’ve come across who are in some way better because of the way we lived.” (p.144)                             

He has such a firm, sweet, and simple faith in God.  Throughout the book I'm captivated by the story of his life because he loves the same God as I.  My heart rejoices and I'm always delighted to get to listen to, or read about, someone who loves the Lord and people.

I'm glad that I was able to listen to this book on CD.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Enlightened eyes

Photo from http://www.colindye.com

This morning I felt impressed to do something different during my morning time with God so I read this God tube devotional. 

 The focus of the devotional was on the story from Luke 24:13 - 35.  That's the one where 3 days after Jesus' crucifixion 2 of His followers are walking along the road to Emmaus bummed.  Not many days prior they'd fallen in love with Jesus, knew He was a prophet and had even started believing He was the Messiah.  But then he was crucified and some of the women had gone to His tomb that very morning and said His body was not there.   As these two sad men were walking along Jesus had appeared to them, but they did not recognize Him.  Jesus explained the scriptures about the Messiah's need to suffer these things.  The two invited Him into their home (I'm always blown away with that culture - inviting strangers into your house?!)  They were having dinner together and when He broke bread they recognized Him.  As soon as they recognized Him, He vanished.  As they discussed the whole event together they spoke about how their hearts burned within them when He was explaining the scriptures to them. 

The author of the devotional made the point that "Their eyes were dim, but if they had only paid attention, their hearts would have shown them the truth. Sometimes, our blind eyes need to listen to our fire-lit heart".  The devotional author then points to Ephesians 1:15-23:

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  (NIV)

I've adored this passage in Ephesians for a long time.  Felt especially connected to pray this passage over my oldest son for the past few years.  Today I looked at it for me.  Today I prayed that the eyes of my heart would be enlightened.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin