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Archive for the ‘..Life’ Category

Last night I clocked out of pharmacy for the last time. Surrounded by friends, we made our way to my car and loaded up treats and flowers, cards – even a beta fish in a fishbowl. : ) A small group of us lingered in the parking lot, just talking as the sunset painted the sky above us. I know I will still see these friends (who have been co-workers for so long), but it was still hard to get in my car and drive away.

Monday morning I start a new adventure. I’ll be working at the regional food bank here in town. The food bank is a distribution site (a warehouse, much like Costco). They collect food from grocery stores, food drives, local farms, and partnerships with various statewide organizations. That food is sorted & distributed – as it’s needed – to partner agencies (food pantries and hot meal sites) in the community. I’ll be working with these partner agencies.

So, this is the turn of the page. It’s an opportunity I believe was birthed in years of prayers, and I’m excited for the adventure… but the beginning of one chapter means the ending of the previous one. And that grieves my heart.

Oh life… you are bittersweet today!

…Below is the story of how I ended up taking a job that I wasn’t even looking for. Like a good tiramisu, this story is made up of layers..

LAYER ONE: SETTING THE STAGE

Last summer a friend of mine asked me if I’d help coordinate food for a local race. Sure, why not? We met up for coffee, talked through our bananas-and-bagels plan, and still had a good half cup left. So we started to catch up on life. I began telling her about an organization in Portland I was intrigued by, and my desire to someday do something more to help people in crisis situations.

“Have you ever thought about the [local] food bank? There’s a bunch of great people there, and they’re doing some amazing stuff.”

…uh, NOPE! Images of my elementary school 4-H days immediately came to mind: wiping down shelves of dented canned beans in a dingy room back in my home town. “No thanks, I don’t think that’d be a good fit for me…” She smiled and asked if it’d be okay if she sent my contact info over to her friend who worked there anyway. I said sure, why not? It’s fun to meet new people and learn about what’s happening in the community. Little did I know it had just begun…

Awhile later an email appeared in my inbox, a follow up from my friend’s contact at the food bank. We exchanged pleasantries and decided to meet up in the fall, after the craziness of summer had settled down. But fall came, and went. Small groups were kicking off at church, Josh and I were meeting new couples, and life was full. I completely forgot about the email buried in my inbox.

 

LAYER TWO: THE TOUR/INTERVIEW

Sometime in February the food bank popped back into my head. Perhaps it was in the introspection and goal setting that often accompanies a new year for me. Honestly, I don’t remember. But I Googled… and I was taken aback by the content and presentation I found on their website. I sent an email to my friend’s contact: could we meet, I’d like to learn more (if the offer was still available).

We found a time to meet up in mid-March. I showed up expecting to tour around briefly and explore volunteering there on my day off. Maybe 15 minutes? I stayed almost an hour. I met the Executive Director and Director of Operations both that day. Casual conversation meandered its way into a sort of informal interview… it just so happened that they were in the final stages of interviewing for a position very similar to what I did right after college (and had really, really enjoyed!). The more we talked the more it seemed that I would be a really good fit not only in the organization as a whole, but in this particular role. The timing was uncanny. They asked if I could come back the next morning with my resume and cover letter for a second interview. Sure… why not?

Again, the conversation was so easy, it didn’t even feel like an interview. Every once in awhile someone would make a comment like, “Oh yeah, I should probably ask you one of these [formal interview] questions.” I really liked them, and they really liked me, and less than two days after I heard about this job they offered it to me.

 

LAYER THREE: I’M A WIMP ABOUT CHANGE

…WHOA.

I’d looked for jobs like this in the past, but the doors I’d knocked on had remained closed. After years of prayers, tears, and dreams I’d sort of made my peace. I finally realized my value as a person is tied to my identity in Jesus, and not with the title on my name badge at work. I was good at what I did, I made good money doing it, I had plenty of free time (working part-time), and I really liked the people I worked with. Life wasn’t bad at all.

I wasn’t sure I was ready to change…

This food bank job was a great fit for the way I was wired and my gifting, it had a creative element, it helped people in crisis right here in my backyard, my work schedule would coincide with Josh’s and we’d have evenings off together. …But, nothing is perfect. The full-time nature of the job would mean much less free time to cook, clean, and meet up with friends. And the shift from the corporate world into the non-profit sphere meant an adjustment in pay.

I waffled.

Miraculously, the food bank floated an alternate offer. Come work part-time for a couple of months and test it out. Come to staff meetings, dive into the job, visit the pantries, and ask questions; we’ll work around your current pharmacy schedule. The plan was a God-send. For a couple of months that’s exactly what I did.

 

LAYER FOUR: TIME TO LEAP

In late June the food bank re-offered the full-time job. After much prayer and consideration, I accepted! I gave plenty of notice to pharmacy and started to say my goodbyes. I will truly miss the people I’ve worked with here.

This is indeed a bittersweet time for me as I close one chapter in life and –with a leap of faith- begin another.

For years I have been passionate about helping people who are in crisis. From post-disaster relief work, to spending time with sexually trafficked women in India, or lending a shoulder to a suffering friend, I’ve loved encouraging people in need. The idea of working with a food bank had never crossed my mind before, but ironically there I will be helping people in crisis – those who don’t have enough to eat. God works in incredible ways, doesn’t he?!

The layers of this story, its perfect timing, and many graces just amaze me. God is SO GOOD! I feel like God has not only heard my prayers, but has answered them… and in a way that I could never take credit for the result on my own. I know some of you will wonder about the risk, about the money, about the… whatever. Know that I don’t have all the answers, but I have great peace and I know I am loved.

Let the new journey begin! : )

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This past week I’ve been pulling Christmas decorations out of those boxes… you know, the ones stored at the bottom of the closet (or up in the overhead storage racks in the garage). I’ve been unwrapping bubble wrap and tissue paper, opening tupperware, smaller boxes, and ziploc bags. Strands of untangled white lights now twinkle all over our tree, glittered keepsake ornaments gently reflect their light, and the scent of fresh evergreen fills the air with a pungent pleasantness. Ahhhh yes… it’s beginning to “look a lot like Christmas” here!

Relishing my day off, I spent much of yesterday afternoon cozied up on the couch just enjoying this Christmas aire. The fireplace gently flickering in the background, I let my body relax and my mind wander…

You see, lately there’s been a word – a concept – softly echoing in my mind and heart: “Emmanuel”. I’m sure you know it.. it’s mentioned in old hymns, Mathew’s gospel Nativity account, and even on select Christmas cards. Translated from Hebrew as “God with us”, it’s kind of become the theme of Christmas for me this year. God here as a man, with us: divinity blended with humanity. It’s surreal to think about…

The greatest king born in a simple barn. If you will, GOLD mixed with STRAW.

I sipped my coffee – swirled with cream & sprinkled with sugar – as I sort of stared at the olive wood nativity scene perched on the fireplace mantel. The figures were so neat and clean, smooth and polished. I thought about what the actual stable must of been like that famous night in Bethlehem. Was it cold, damp, breezy? Was the hay itchy, were there splinters? Was it smelly, crowded?

Jesus left the majesty of heaven to come and be with us… and yet the birth of Jesus feels – dare I say it – in a way… so ungodly. Doesn’t it?

Jesus could’ve been born in a royal palace, attendants assisting the birth, and wrapped in embroidered cloths. He could’ve slept soundly by a warm fire, and grown up surrounded by people with extensive education, influence, and comfort. But Jesus wasn’t born like a king. He was born in a stable.

Though his birth, life, death, and resurrection have been part of God’s plan through the ages, there SOMEHOW wasn’t room in a comfortable place for Jesus to be born that night… it seems weird, right? But God doesn’t make mistakes or lose track of details; he chose to come this way. And while there is much humility, and HUMANITY, in that stable… the ROYALTY also cannot be missed. Jesus was miraculously conceived by a virgin, his birth was announced by angels, predicted by prophets, and he was worshiped!

Royalty and simplicity. Divinity and humanity. GOLD and STRAW.

The bible says Jesus was fully God and fully man. In him, and only him, divinity and humanity impossibly blended together. I love how we can see that blend even in the account of his birth. God put skin on, was born in a stable, and lived among men… “God with us.”

“But after [Joseph] had considered [divorcing Mary], an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah]: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel‘ (which means ‘God with us’).” -Matthew 1:20-22, NIV, emphasis mine

Jesus was fully God. He had the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7; Luke 7:48-9), he accepted worship reserved for God (Matt. 8:2, 14:33; John 9:38, Acts 10:25-6), spoke of existing before Abraham (John 8:57-8), raised from the dead (Mark 16:6), raised others from the dead (John 11), performed many miracles, ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and spoke of judging the world and assigning the eternal destiny of all people (Matt. 25:31-46). Yet, he was born in a stable into the arms of an ordinary couple (Luke 2:22-4) who lived in an unimportant town (John 1:45-6). What a God we serve!

Thank you Jesus for loving us, for loving me, so much that you willingly gave up the splendor of heaven for the squalor of a stable here with us.

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I recently re-read a book I absolutely loved. It’s the story of an American girl who moved across the world to love and care for orphans and strangers. What began as taking a year off before college unfolded into many years, more than a dozen adopted children, and the birth of a blossoming ministry. What started as a blog grew into a book that made the New York Times Best Seller list.

Katie’s story is inspirational, vulnerable in its honesty, and downright beautiful. God captured her heart, and she is following after him with incredible trust and abandon. She says in the intro pages, “I have absolutely no desire to write a book about myself. This is a
book about Christ” (p.xxi). And it is.

She left behind her family, friends, boyfriend whom she planned to marry, and all the comforts of a wealthy Nashville home, and moved to Uganda to teach a dozen kindergarten-aged children in an orphanage she’d visited during her senior year in high school. She ended up having not 12 children, but 138 the very first day! What a story of turning our plans over to God, following him, and being amazed at what happens. She compares her journey in Uganda to the childhood tale of The Velveteen Rabbit, which is about a stuffed animal that’s worn to rags but ultimately transformed into a real rabbit.

“The beautiful, dirty people who populated my life had loved all the polish and propriety right off me. I’d been hurt and scarred and banged around a bit in the past year, but God was using all those things to help me become real… I was coming to understand that what it means to be real is to love and be loved until there is nothing left. And when there’s nothing left, and we feel we’re all in pieces, God begins to make us whole. He makes us real. His love sets us free and transforms us.” (p.86)

It’s a transformation both of Katie and the community around her. She just lives and breathes Christ to the people God puts in her path. The organization – birthed out of a heart for the needs of the kids she came to know – was named Amazima (which means “truth” in the Luganda language, p. 84). Partnered with local women, Amazima is caring for people and sharing the truth of God’s love in Uganda. They are feeding nutritious meals to hundreds of kids, providing supplies and clothes so they can attend school, and attending to their basic medical needs. They are building relationships in the village where they live, the nearby city of Jinja, and out in a slum community called Masese. God is answering prayers and opening doors.

“They took me to the abandoned house down the road. In the back room were seven children on the dirt floor. They were completely filthy and starving. The oldest was eleven and the youngest was two years old…They all had severe ringworm, malaria, and scabies (my favorite), among other conditions.” (p.142)

“It is true, hundreds of people in this area [the village] call me Mommy. Even people whom I have not met before recognize me as the woman who cares for the children in this area and call me Mommy before even having made my acquaintance.” (p.178)

From removing burrowing insects (jiggers) from the feet of street kids, to bathing and rubbing ointment on children with scabies, bringing food to strangers and friends in the local hospital, or paying for them to be seen by a doctor. Health care is so different there. Emergency rooms don’t provide free medical care for people who can’t afford it; in some instances they simply aren’t treated.

“Since Agnes had no real caretaker, the nurse assumed her treatment would not be paid for. So the hospital simply didn’t treat her. This is not unusual in Uganda, where the hospital admission process is as easy as walking into a hospital and climbing into an empty bed. Those who can pay for medical attention receive it; those who can’t, simply lie in a bed.” (p.58)

It’s a heart-tugging peak into a corner of the world not often seen in contemporary America. I don’t know what emotions delving into Katie’s story may bring to the surface, but I felt it soften my heart again in the best way.

“We aren’t really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus does that. We are just called to love with abandon. We are called to enter into our neighbors’ sufferings and love them right there.” (p.214)

Don’t worry, this isn’t the story of a white girl with a “Savior” complex, this is a young woman who’s been captivated by the love and truth of Jesus and is pursuing him with her whole heart, mind, and body. Her story is worth reading.

“I’ve had people ask me why I think Africa is so impoverished, but these children are not poor. I, as a person who grew up wealthy, am. I put value in things. These children, having no things, put value in God.” (p.26)

She writes of the beauty of Uganda’s landscape and its people. At the time the book was written, she was in the process of adopting thirteen children – little ones and older ones, siblings and orphans, and a sweet little girl with some special needs. She does lots of cooking and laundry for a very full house, but most of all she does lots and lots of loving the people God’s put in her path. And lots of praying.

“But God continued to show me that adoption is His heart, and it was becoming mine… Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.” (p.72)

“Here is the thing: I want big things from God. We want big things from God and then think it’s strange when He asks us to build an ark, or feed five thousand or march around a building for seven days with seven priests blowing trumpets made from rams’ horns.” (p.153)

Excerpts from the book Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis (2011, Howard Books).

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cheesecakeBirthdays are so much fun. Life’s busyness and to-do lists seem to pause for a minute, and we celebrate LIFE itself. Maybe with candles, balloons, flowers, or sprinkled cupcakes. Maybe with silly cards and martinis. Or maybe with karaoke, surprises, or long naps. Whatever the season, whatever the mood, I love the “pause”. …Life is such a gift!!

So this week, when the clock strikes midnight and I magically turn 31, I want to just pause and give thanks to God for the years he’s already given me. I think it’s a little crazy when folks lament their birthdays as if each year is just another scoop of dirt dug out of what will be their grave someday. With each year comes so many memories, and so much opportunity to grow into better and more loving people than the year before. Sure, I wear compression knee-highs at work to support my circulation when I stand all day, and I like the idea of a hotel more than a hostel on a vacation now. But it’s not the end of the world… 30 has been good! : )

As I look back and give thanks, I also want to look ahead with anticipation and expectation. I’m asking God to show me the next step… where he would have me be and what he would have me do this next year. I truly, deeply want to live a life – how many ever years – that demonstrates love and has eternal significance. Whether the outer beauty holds up or not, I want to be a lady who has an inward beauty that grows.

 

clock…thank you for taking a little time to pause along with me, to read this post. It’s my hope that life doesn’t just pass you by, but that you live this year – whatever number it is for you – with gratitude and intentionality. My husband’s beloved Grandma Bishop was a wonderful woman who lived more than NINETY years on this earth. In the last days of her life, the joy-filled woman remarked “boy does [90yrs] go fast!” …how crazy, and how true to think that the years can zip by so fast. Let’s make the most of our years!

 

…And for any of you out there in the 30-is-so-old camp… here are twenty highlights from my twenties. God is good in every season, and I wouldn’t trade the years away! (Though if you want to send me wrinkle cream, I will laugh heartily & still love you.) : )

  • MARRYING the love of my life!
  • FALLING IN LOVE with Josh… I love every bit of our story
  • CRUISING the gorgeous Caribbean
  • BUYING our first house
  • SEEING God provide Josh’s dream job
  • FINISHING graduate school – 3 wonderful years in seminary
  • BECOMING auntie to 4 beautiful nieces & 2 handsome nephews
  • WALKING in the steps of Jesus in Israel
  • PAYING OFF a brand new car (bought after years of crazy car trouble)
  • HEARING good results of brain MRI: negative for MS (praise God!!)
  • BEFRIENDING amazing girls in India who’d come out of prostitution
  • REJOICING that my dad’s cancer disappeared after surgery
  • MOVING to Miami for a year: foundation work, tropical life, poverty
  • JOINING relief efforts in New Orleans
  • CHANGING majors in undergrad – studying what I enjoyed
  • LIVING with a host family in Chile for a summer
  • DEEPENING my faith during six very memorable weeks in China
  • HEALING past wounds: growing in forgiveness, humility & grace
  • DABBLING with new recipes & flavors
  • EXPLORING the US with friends… road trips, hostels, yurts, hikes..

 

clock image available at https://www.etsy.com/listing/35599830/30-inch-french-gallery-wall-clock

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I love carols… it’s like a candlelit Christmas Eve service is wrapped into the music… steeped in hope, bursting with joy, the words paint a picture… each hymn a different piece of the incredible Christmas story…

…We three kings of Orient are… bearing gifts we traverse afar…

…field and fountain, moor and mountain… following yonder star…

“…Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked [King Herod], ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1b-2)

…O Star of wonder, star of night… Star with royal beauty bright…

…Westward leading, still proceeding… Guide us to thy perfect light…

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 9-11a) The biblical account doesn’t specify how many magi there were, or much about who they were, but I love what their gifts foreshadow about Jesus

…Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain… Gold I bring to crown him again…

…King forever, ceasing never… over us all to reign…

They brought GOLD… gold was used to pay tribute to a king, to decorate the homes of kings, and to adorn King Solomon’s temple. The gospel of Matthew, where the story of the magi is found, begins by tracing the genealogy of Jesus from the royal line of King David. The magi came looking for a king, and when they found him they “bowed down and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). Oh, that we would do the same!

 …Frankinsense to offer have I, incense owns a deity neigh…

…prayer and praising, all men raising… worship Him, God most high…

They brought FRANKINCENSE… priests used this incense in ceremonial offerings (Exodus 30:34). Precious in the ancient world, frankincense was harvested by slicing the bark of certain trees and allowing the resin to bleed out and harden in the sun. According to Herodotus, these trees were often home to snakes, so obtaining the sap could be dangerous. He wrote that people would light a fire by the tree in order to drive away the snakes with smoke. Jesus, our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14-15), defeated Satan on the cross. Indeed, the curse of the serpent in the Garden of Eden was fulfilled in Jesus, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

…Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume… breathes of life, of gathering gloom…

…sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying… sealed in the stone-cold tomb…

They brought MYRRH… this was used for embalming and perfumes since its strong fragrance masks odor. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea used a mixture of myrrh and aloes to prepare Jesus’ body for burial in the tomb (John 19:39-40). Myrrh was also believed to have medicinal properties, possibly providing pain relief. When Jesus was nailed on the cross, he was offered wine mixed with myrrh but he refused it (Mark 15:23). Jesus was to be the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

…Glorious now, behold him arise… King, and God, and sacrifice…

…alleluia, alleluia… earth to heav’n replies…

 

A couple of years ago, the church I was a part of went through a “Carols” series… it was a way of preparing for Christmas, of using a few traditional carols as the backdrop to bring the biblical story to life. This blog post is almost entirely from of the sermon “Bearing Gifts We Traverse Afar” from Dec 12, 2010 at Willamette Christian Church in West Linn, OR (by John Furman, I believe). Sorry, it doesn’t look like the podcast is online anymore – just in my journal. : )

Merry Christmas friends!!

 

 

 

Lyrics to “We Three Kings” from http://www.lyricsforchristmas.com/christmas-carols/we-three-kings/

 

 

 

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I LOVE WEDDINGS. Fresh flowers, beautiful dresses, decadent desserts, and HUGE smiles.ring bearer Even though receptions are often packed full of food and fun, the ceremonies are always my favorite.

WATCHING the beaming bride walk down the aisle, SEEING her father give his blessing as he gives her away, LISTENING as the minister shares thoughts and scriptures with the couple, FEELING the tender beauty that’s captured in the exchange of vows, CHEERING at the kiss, HEARING them being announced as husband and wife for the very first time.

Yes.

This summer I’ve had the unique privilege of watching my husband, Josh, OFFICIATE a couple of weddings, one of which was this past weekend. His message to the couple has been echoing in my mind and heart the past few days. It’s so good, I thought I’d share a snippet of it here with you…

..A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

wedding prayerThe couple chose a portion of Ecclesiastes to be read as part of their ceremony, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (4:9-12, NASB). They understood that a marriage built on Christ will last the storms of life and the whims of our human hearts. Thus, their marriage was a bond between three, not two: husband, wife, and God. Josh elaborated on this…

First, he shared HOW CULTURE TELLS US to approach relationships:

  • FIND the right person (do your makeup, dress cute, go out, flirt, party, post sexy selfies, be social, etc)
  • FALL in love (be swept away in the euphoria of love’s emotions)
  • set all your hopes and dreams on THEM (live happily ever after as they fulfill your every need & desire)

When you “fall out of love” with that person, they let you down somehow, or all your hopes and dreams are not met in them… just repeat. And then repeat. And repeat again.

Then, he shared A DIFFERENT APPROACH to relationships. It looks like this…

  • BE the right person (as you walk with God, let him continue to shape your character, attitude, actions)
  • WALK in love (a conscious commitment to show love day after day, even when the good feelings aren’t there)
  • set all your hopes and dreams on GOD (release them from the burden of trying to meet all your desires, and leave that to God)

When life gets hard, as it inevitably does, repeat.  When that fight happens… be the right person (communicate clearly, with kindness and respect), wedding dahliaswalk in love (choose to seek unity in facing problems, seek/give forgiveness, refrain from rehashing & talking badly about them with friends), set your hopes on God (keep perspective, God knows what we need, hears ALL our prayers & loves us like crazy). When that break-up happens (in a dating relationship),  you haven’t “wasted your time”. Your future plans haven’t crumbled since your dreams weren’t riding on that person in the first place. When you wake up on a cloudy Monday morning and you’re not feeling the sizzling ecstasy of new love in your marriage, it’s not game over. Be the right person… focus on ways God is challenging you to grow right now, rather than zeroing in on their faults. Walk in love… decide to follow Christ’s example of loving them when they aren’t lovable, when they don’t deserve it. Set your hopes on God… release your spouse from the pressure of being everything you need all of the time, protect your heart from building resentment against them when they inevitably let down your impossible expectations. Embrace God’s incredible love, and ask for his strength… we need both!!

I remember sitting in the shade outside a Pete’s coffee shop with Josh when we were just dating… he drew me a picture on a brown paper napkin… a circle with three focal points, an arrow between each of the three (steps). It was the way he wanted to approach our relationship then, it’s the way we still want to approach our relationship now. : )

 

kisswedding cake 1

 

 

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With the turn of a calendar page, gobs of people are embracing the opportunity to start fresh. Whether on our own, or together with others, we resolve to change.

To lose weight. Get organized. Spend less, save more. Enjoy life to the fullest. Stay fit & healthy. Learn something exciting. Quit smoking. Help others in their dreams. Fall in love. Spend more time with family. (These were the most popular 2014 resolutions for Americans, according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology.) And those are good things to embrace!!

But this year I’m more captivated by the desire for a change of heart.

You see, my attitude seems to have some sort of chronic disease. Intermittent flare ups of anger, pride, and even greed sprinkle their poison on my mind and heart. It’s uncomfortable. It’s ugly. And it’s wrong.

..I work in a retail pharmacy environment, which will remain nameless, easily interacting with a couple hundred people on any given day. My job functions as part of a large team of people who ultimately fill and dispense medications to people of all ages and backgrounds. Rich or poor, healthy or ill, kind or belligerent… they all seem to make their way through our doors. Sometimes I think God created the perfect environment to grow and stretch my character in this place. Perhaps that is why He still has me there..

 

When I…

  • have to apologize for someone else’s mistake (a doctor that wasn’t faxed, an insurance claim that wasn’t sent, etc), I’m tempted to get frustrated.
  • get yelled at for that mistake, I’m tempted to get angry.
  • end up fixing that mistake, I’m tempted to get annoyed (or bitter, if it’s a continuing pattern)
  • ignore the fact that I make mistakes too, I’m tempted to get proud.
  • see coworkers move very slowly, take deceptively long breaks, play on their phones all day, or in general rely on me to work extra hard to pick up their slack, I’m tempted to get angry.
  • hear coworkers talk about how they’ll spend their seasonal bonus (something I don’t receive yet), I’m tempted to get envious.
  • hear coworkers talk about their good fortunes, I’m tempted to get jealous.
  • join others in the break area, I’m tempted to ignore their gossip rather than confront it.
  • think about my position, which is essentially an unskilled labor role, and the degrees I’ve acquired that aren’t being utilized… I’m tempted with pride, thinking this position is beneath me.

These temptations so easily sneak up, grab hold, and (if I’m not careful) then burrow their nastiness into my heart. The bible says out of the mouth, the heart speaks (Luke 6:45). Just as a cherry tree doesn’t grow string beans on its branches, so an infected heart doesn’t produce a person who is kind or loving. Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (4:23, NIV). Yikes!! Luckily, God is the ultimate master of heart transformation and daily health. I love the prayer of David in the Psalms:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (51:10-12)

God is so generous in his grace and love for us. He continues to renew us when we ask him — I’m so thankful for that!! God told the Israelites who’d been exiled for shedding blood, worshiping idols, and turning against him that he would bring them back into the promise land, make them clean, and bless them for the sake of his name. I love the picture of renewal and restoration that God uses in talking to them, this is the kind of renewal I want, too! : )

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

I really, genuinely enjoy and care about all the people I spend my days with, and I honestly believe that it’s no accident that I am where I am. Lord, please help me make the most of the time you have me in this place… Help me to love well and give grace in the present, and to trust you completely with the future. As I walk with you each day please take what’s so easily turned to stone and make it a heart that is soft and fleshy again. Amen!!

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New Years resolution statistics from here: http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

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