#write31days – Day 22

imageThe odd thing about pride is that you don’t (well…I didn’t) realize how it’s like self-applied handcuffs and a blindfold, and then throwing yourself into a deep, dark pit.

However, that’s when you have a divine opportunity to see God right in front of you…waiting to help…if you ask.

I was truly in the “do or die” moment…the “do” was taking the biggest leap of faith I could possibly imagine and banking everything on the assurance that God specializes in cliff-catching.  The winds of change seemed like a category five hurricane…I would either crash into the stormy sea below and drown or God would catch me.

Spoiler Alert! He caught me! He showed up and taught me what it looked like for me to take the armor of God into the workplace…meeting me exactly where I was and leading the charge.  The workplace was my most challenging battlefield and I needed constant reminders surrounding me! Folks may have thought I’d skipped right over the edge of the cliff into the abyss…and honestly I had – I took the full on leap from what life was trying to steer on my own to what could be by allowing God to step in and lead.  Those constant reminders I mentioned???? Not an exaggeration….and yes…if you look closely, that is a Keurig in the background between the monitors…what can I say? This gal enjoys her coffee!image

 

I’m so thankful I have this photo because I never ever want to forget this time in my journey…it was pivotal to God taking me to a totally new level in my relationship with Him.  And once again, He patiently taught me what it was like NOT to seek approval from man.

Just you wait…2014 was equally as crazy, but now I was learning to use my crazy deflector shield… GOD!

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#write31days – Day 21

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A couple days ago I talked about when craziness collides… and that’s where I found myself at the end of the year.  Thankfully, my daughter was doing so much better.  Unfortunately, the stress and demands of work combined with my dad’s health had taken such a toll that even a few weeks away was pretty much too little too late and the collision of life felt like a total loss.

But it wasn’t a total loss….not even close.  Sure, it might have felt that way…but in times like these, this is when and where God’s Word assures us of our future – even when it seems like everything’s falling apart…

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

The great thing is that during this time, the troops rallied around me through prayer like you wouldn’t…. like I couldn’t believe!  Such an outpouring of love and support to encourage me forward…

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#write31days – Day 20

imageI’m not just losing track of time, I’m losing days!  Thankfully, I’m staying on track writing each day – posting? Well…that’s another story!

And I’m really thankful I’m wrapping up 2013! I’ve chosen to leave out the work related nitty-gritty details because I don’t want to focus on what I see as a downward spiral in corporate culture.  Almost everyone has a story or knows someone that has a story of how the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance in most businesses has failed miserably. And in challenging economic times, it seems compassion is a trait many companies talk about, yet few exhibit.

I will say though, in my 35+ years in the workforce, 2013 was the first time I truly did not feel supported to choose family first.  I’ve been through many challenging times and consider myself extremely blessed for the incredible managers I’ve worked under.  As difficult as the last three months were in 2013, I learned a lot about myself – in retrospect – of course!

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#write31days – Day 19

imageOne of my primary goals in writing for 31 consecutive days is transparency… so here I am… being transparent.  I REALLY did not want to write this evening… I did exactly what I wrote about in my last post… thinking too far ahead (or perhaps behind…) of the posts to come… and I didn’t want to go there.

Well, of course I wrote…reminding myself of baby steps…two sheets of paper at a time… the great thing is that I was able to recall some really hard decisions and have peace over them vs my usual “could I have done more” mental interrogations.

And yes, that’s where God and His gracious healing power comes into full view… because of those hard days and seemingly impossible decisions, I was learning to receive God’s glorious embrace and willingly take refuge in Him… if only for a short while… make no mistake though, He was teaching me how to lean into Him for the days too difficult to imagine.

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#write31days – Day 18

imageTonite I wrote a bit about the Walk to Emmaus – I can’t say enough great things about this experience! It is for EVERY believer, regardless of  where you are in your faith journey. If you’d like to read more about the Emmaus Community and retreats in your area, click here

…whoops! I did it this time…fell sound asleep last night!

Isn’t it interesting how our focus and perspective can be so narrow nothing gets in or so broad everything gets in and it all becomes a blur?  How do we find the right balance?  It’s delicate to say the least, but one thing I’ve discovered to be true time and again is that when I’m truly focused on God, as difficult as life may be, the pieces fall together.  The catch is becoming truly focused.  Far too often I find myself, well…for lack of a better description, trying to supervise God.  Dang…that never sounded as rough in my head, but typing those words? Ouch.  It’s true though…even if my intentions are good it’s far too easy to push Him out of the driver’s seat…what I call the 2yr old “I can do it myself” approach. And that’s exactly what you will see in the upcoming posts…when craziness collides…

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#write31days – Day 17

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Short ‘n sweet on the commentary tonite! As you’ve read, 2014 was far from uneventful, but I kept plugging along… determined to persevere… determined to meet expectations on all fronts… determined not to faulter…

Let me tell ya from experience… determination is only one piece of the puzzle.  Determination, or as I often claimed perseverance, will only get you so far if you’re trying to do things on your own…if you leave God on the sidelines instead of letting Him lead the way.  Most often you will find yourself worn thin, discouraged, & desolate. There’s a reason why Jesus said,

“Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.”  Matthew 11:28

We were not made to carry these burdens on our own – we so desperately need a savior!

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#write31days – Day 16

imageHere I am…droopy eyed as usual….this is infusion week so often the fatigue is a bit more amplified than usual.  If I keep moving (fingers & thoughts!) I’ll be just fine.  I’m sure it would make a whole lot more sense to simply write earlier, but there’s something about the end of day for me that just works.

Today instead of writing about painful/challenging memories, I decided to write about those memories that are more sweet than bitter.  These stories aren’t meant to mock my dad’s mental state – quite the contrary… you’ve heard the saying “you’ve got to laugh to keep from crying” – well, there’s a lot of truth to that statement! And honestly, when I recall my dad’s last year, I’d much rather think of his innocent mischief than agitated outbursts he couldn’t possibly control.

One more thing… this afternoon I was thinking about all the home caregivers out there – the individuals that for a good part, have put their personal lives on the back burner to care for someone in need.  A significant sacrifice, that most days doesn’t  feel like a sacrifice at all.  But don’t kid yourself, everyone….I mean every single one needs help – they need a break – they MUST take time to refuel.  If they don’t? EVERYONE loses in the long run.  This was a lesson I didn’t want to learn – not because I didn’t need a break – because I feared falling apart so completely nothing of me would be left to move forward.  That’s where God really steps in…and that’s where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

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#write31days – Day 15

imageHere we are at the half way mark for October and I’m halfway through 2013… I’m still not sure why I went the more detailed route…maybe I just needed to work through the nitty-grittiness of it all?  Thankfully, my crash course in the elderly care was slowing down and the surprises didn’t necessarily throw me for a loop each time.  This was a really good thing because my job was beginning to get crazier than usual…I had a new boss that was totally different than any boss I’d  ever had in my 30+ work career…and that wasn’t what I’d call a good thing 😕. I also inherited a new group – the group was small, and when the supervisor resigned the company elected not to fill the vacancy and have the remaining staff report to me. What I didn’t realize is that this was the beginning of a time where my relationship with God would go to a completely new place.
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#write31days – Day 14

IMG_6413-0I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised how easily my eyelids start to get heavy after writing, but I do! Perhaps a little sugar will give me the boost I need…I have this thing for powdered donuts – I always have – tasty little messy morsels that should have a slogan similar to Lays potato chips – you can’t eat just one!

OK… Back to the task at hand…writing…once my dad started getting into a routine, things seemed to start smoothing out – while every visit was still a learning experience, the days of him begging me to take him home soon faded and he actually seemed to start enjoying himself! For a fairly small guy, I have no idea where he put all the food…as difficult as it was to get him to eat before the move, he actually started looking forward to meals and always had an appetite for dessert.

I have to tell ya, I quickly developed a deep appreciation for caregivers – I was so thankful my dad had the foresight to purchase a long-term care policy.  Assisted living facilities are costly and would otherwise drain savings in no time.  Even if I didn’t have a full-time job, I still can’t imagine taking on the responsibility of daily care.  It was far more than general oversight – it was very much like having an adult sized toddler that was regressing on a daily basis.

it was truly a blessing to have my dad nearby so that I could zip over to visit on my way to work or on my way home.  Some days…especially rough days, I could peek in on him – that little bit of reassurance he was ok did wonders for my spirits! Ever so slowly, the overwhelming emotions began to even out…just in time for the tide to turn…

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Practice – Practice – Practice

IMG_1063I started following along with Stepahnie Ackerman’s Documented Faith in late June.  I love the concept!  I know I’ve shared I for before, but here’s my take: it’s an effort to focus on God’s Word in manageable, bite-sized chunks…one word each month accompanied by weekly scripture relating to that word.  Simple, manageable, memorable.

So I’ve been practicing… practicing by writing consistently… something I haven’t been successful with in the past.  And writing in bite-size pieces versus the entire buffet of my life.  When I committed to #write31days, something I wasn’t aware of was that I limited myself to two handwritten pages per day…bite-sized pieces…manageable vulnerability.  Usually I make things more complicated, but it seems this decision is actually turning out well!

My focus is on God and how He is consistently working in my life, through me…to reveal Himself to me.  When I slow down to take one step at a time, the mountain isn’t so big, the task at hand isn’t so overwhelming and Matthew 6:32-34 takes on a deeper meaning.

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.