Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blessings keep coming

Lately I've been thinking about how blessings seem to follow the really tough times if you persevere, and about choosing to look for, acknowledge, and enjoy the blessings –and boy are those thoughts still relevant!

Yesterday was a really bad awful terrible day.

I worked 13 long hours and it seemed like nothing could go right. I had an hour meeting with the warden and assistant warden that turned out to be what I think of as an ambush meeting. The warden had emailed me over the weekend when I’d emailed updates to him regarding various detainee specific events, that he wanted to meet with me. I assumed it would be regarding all these events and came to the meeting prepared with a print out about detainee specific events and system issues. However, as the meeting progressed, it became apparent the topic of the meeting was how-medical-keeps-messing-up-and-had-better-stop-it. At the very end of the meeting the warden asked, so do you have anything for us? By that time I was exhausted and spent . He also said he’d like to do this every Monday and Friday and include the Chief of Security in our meetings; you can bet I’ll be ready to speak to their issues next time.

Because I did know about the meeting I got to work early; around 5:30AM. Since it was early I did not eat prior to work. The day was hectic, just one thing after another, so I didn’t get a chance to take a lunch break or eat. By the time I went to leave at the end of the day I was so exhausted that I absolutely could not remember by ID number to put my key back into the key watcher. I had to embarrassedly call the assistant warden on his cell, explain the situation, and request direction – I was mortified! Fortunately he was really kind to me and, after telling me what I needed to do, he told me to go home and get some rest.

So this morning I got to work early again and I prayed the whole way there. Today was another tough day but I had a strategy. I’ve started my campaign to train and delegate. We hired on some more staff so now there are enough people to do the work and I can get some of this way too much work off of my shoulders.

Sometimes it’s the little things that really get to me. That’s how it was today; it was those few small bright rays of blessing that made it all worthwhile. The staff who must have noticed that I often miss out on lunch and saved me a plate and brought it to me. Those staff who came to me requesting training and duties that I could delegate to them. It was as if some of my staff were actually looking out for me – and I don’t take that for granted. I’m grateful.

What are some of the little blessings that have come your way lately?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Unexpected blessings from unexpected places

You many have caught on by now that I work in an immigration detention center. I'm the health services administrator.

This means that I work around a bunch of alpha male macho men all the time. Not any of my staff, because in medical we're just a bit different than the rest of the facility, but the rest of the building are pretty much that way.

Sometimes they drive me nuts.

My experience is that many immigration agents really do think they're all that. That male wardens really are, when you're blessed to get a good one like I have, great leaders but really intense. Sometimes I find the intensity draining.

Recently I was talking with my oldest son Devon on the phone. We were sharing about what's going in our lives. At one point I was talking about how frustrated I am with how these guys all treat me sometimes at work. He commented that "you know it's because you're so nice all the time and they can treat you that way". (Devon works in the macho world of the US Army.) To which I replied that I think nice is grossly under rated in our society. That nice people make the world better.

I've thought about it since then, and even through sometimes people may mistake my kindness for weakness, I still believe I'm who God made me to be and that the world needs kind people. People who actually care about how others feel.

But sometimes the Holy Spirit in me prompts me to stand up for myself.

Just such an incident occurred recently during a department director's meeting with the warden. There are about 15 people in this meeting, most of them men. The warden started saying stuff about "not to be disrespectful" and talking trash about my psychiatrist in medical. Specifically in terms of his management of this one specific detainee. Without thinking about it, I heard myself utter the words: "but you are being disrespectful sir". I then explained that that our psychiatrist, psychologist, NP who has a specialty in psych, and myself who ran secured psych facilities for 10 years all see the situation the same way and it's him who has the outlier opinion.

The room was silent for that second after I spoke. I felt uncomfortable.

Then the warden started laughing. Possibly because I'm always so nice and put up with so much stuff from these guys all the time and here I was, in a public venue, calling him out, and it was just so unusual that it struck him as funny. He was very tickled and laughed quite a bit and even made a comment to the effect that the two guys (himself and the head ICE man on site) were the only two who thought this detainee was crazy and that they were the two crazy men. Then the meeting continued.

Afterward, I caught the female administrative lieutenant who was in the meeting and asked if she thought I'd been disrespectful. She smiled hugely and said no, that she wanted to cheer for me.

A day later I received an email from the warden wishing me a happy Thanksgiving and these words:

I appreciate your hard work, integrity, and honesty. You have a difficult, lonely, and thankless job. We will keep making progress. I do hope you know I am joking about making diagnosis. I don't have a clue and I definitely respect and trust you"

Words can't express what a blessing this email was to me!

How about you, have you had any unexpected blessings lately?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The blessing always seems to come after

I don't know about you, but for me I've repeatedly noticed this pattern in life. The pattern is that I get discouraged and tired and life gets really hard, so hard that I've just about given up. After things have gotten so bad that I feel like I just can't keep going, and by His grace and power I keep on, it's then that I see the blessings flow one after another.

For the last couple of days I've been thinking about these words from James 5:10-11, I adore the way Peterson has paraphrased them in The Message:

"Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You've heard, of course, of Job's staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail."

Mentors are people who invest into your life. So I've decided I'm going to read anew the minor prophets so that their stories can affect my thoughts and perspectives. I also want to take some time to think on all the blessings that God's been bringing my way lately because sometimes I can get so busy looking at the tough stuff that I fail to enjoy all the good stuff that's right there.

How about you, have you noticed recently in your life that it's only after you've persevered that you've experienced His blessings?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Most excellent harmonies

Peterson, in The Message paraphrase, says Philippians 4:9 this way:

God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies

I want his most excellent harmonies in me and my life!

But I've had attitude problems lately. Attitude toward my boss on the GEO care side who gives me little to nothing in the way of instruction, training, or anything else I need, but garners up any good results to be attributed to himself. Of course he insures that any blame there may be to be had comes my way.

Yet I know in my head that I only need to run my race; to do that which God has set before me. I don't need to concern myself with what he does...yet I struggle in my emotions.

Hate to say it, but it doesn't end there. I've had attitude about my niece who came to live with us in August and who is basically failing in all her classes. Of course she was failing before she came to live with us too; but I'd thought we might be able to make a difference. We sure haven't yet. So I've let myself get out of sorts regarding this as well.

So it was with these struggles that I came to God today. Came and forced myself to praise Him (but have you ever noticed that once you make yourself start praising God; joy, reverence, and awe just take over?!) Chose to read aloud Philippians 4:4-9.

As I read the words there I felt impressed to spend some time this week looking at the topics listed in verse 8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

To spend time in prayer, meditation, the Word, and where ever else the Spirit takes me, on each of these topics. That these thoughts would be more prevalent in my heart and mind. That God will use these thoughts to bring His peace to me and make me an excellent harmony.
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