Saturday, May 21, 2016

God is at work (Resistance is futile), Part 3

Last Saturday I had lunch with some friends and former longtime co-workers. One, wordsmith and singer-songwriter-guitarist Paul Shell, shared a demo CD of some of his original music. I listened to the first five songs on the drive home, and several songs touched me deeply, including "The Call." When I got home, I sent Paul a message telling him how impressed I was and adding that I would like him to sing "The Call" sometime at my church. He said he'd be happy to. 

I was thinking that, if this wasn't just a fleeting idea, it might happen in the summer, when the church choir takes a break and we rely on solos and small groups for special music. 

But God apparently had other thoughts on the matter, as a series of opportunities unfolded that I can only view as divine. 

For me, it actually started with renewed efforts to nurture friendships, including with former co-workers. Small steps had been leading to surprising and enriching connections, and last Saturday's lunch added a strand to that cord of friendship. 

Parts 1 and 2 of "Resistance is futile" also contributed to the foundation. And a church member's enthusiastic evangelistic effort to "fill the church" last Sunday also played a role. The results may have seemed lacking, but a spark was ignited that has not been extinguished. 

Wednesday at choir practice, the director said he would be gone Sunday and the choir would not be doing an anthem. I did something outside of my comfort zone, volunteering to stand at the pulpit and lead the congregational hymns in the director's absence. I often do solos at church and I love to sing the hymns. But I won't be surprised if leading the hymns while standing at the mic isn't as simple for me as one might think. (As an aside, I remember when I volunteered to be liturgist, thinking how cool that role looked. I can speak clearly and read, so why not?? It was not a good experience for me. I chalked it up as a reminder that members of the body of Christ have differing gifts. And that was not one of mine.)

On Wednesday, I also asked if the director had a solo or small group lined up in place of the choir's anthem. He said no. I feel there is a void in worship when there is no anthem or other "special music," but since I would be leading hymns, I was pretty sure no one would also want to hear me sing a solo. It occurred to me: What about Paul? I wondered if my friend would be able to sing on such short notice. I sent him a message, and he was willing and available. So I also contacted the choir director and pastor, and they agreed, too. 

So, Paul Shell will be singing at 11 a.m. Sunday at Goodrich United Methodist Church, 200 W Hayes, in Norman. Be there and be blessed. I know I will be. 

As another aside: I've also invited other friends (something I couldn't get myself to do for last week's "Fill the Church" effort),  and at least one plans to be there. Some could not come, and  others have not responded. Which means this story is continuing to unfold. 

The following Scriptures were presented with Jesus Calling for today, May 21. They seem to fit. 

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
(Romans 8:31–32)

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
(Micah 7:7)

And, from First 15:

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 15:4)

And then this one just came to mind:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Back to work, probably part 1

It was hard for me to ask for time off for the Key West vacation. I have missed a lot of work this year on medical leave.  

But I'm still entitled to vacation, and this looked like the best opportunity for me to travel with my husband this year. So I asked and it was approved.

I feel indebted. I feel grateful. 

Some people say I've earned the benefits from nearly 34 years of loyal service to my company, and that's probably true. 

But I know that's not how business -- and especially media companies -- work these days. 

So I don't take it for granted for a single minute that I am very fortunate to have my job and its benefits.
Yes, I work hard, but so do many other people. And I know that when anyone from our team is gone, others have to pick up the slack.

I need to be ready now for others to be gone -- and I need to encourage them to take their allotted time. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reflections on vacation

I started this and posted it May 8, to get the Sunday time stamp. But I knew it was a work in progress, and am not sure I will even know when it is finished. Maybe before the next Sunday time stamp!!

The things I wanted to write about were the Key West. Fla., vacation and the whirlwind transition back to some semblance of normal after my medical interruptions. There were also some thoughts about Mother's Day.  Now, it looks like it will mostly be about the trip. 

Packing for the Key West vacation was the worst ever for me. Although I had managed not to stay up all night before our early morning flight, trying to decide what to take, the result seemed to be that I had at least twice as many clothes, shoes and other items as I needed. 

I had thought Gene would insist I not take so much, and I was prepared to start taking things out of the luggage. But he did not, so I did not. 

And I paid the price when we tried to pack all that excess plus some purchases for the return flight. 

Part of the excess weight for the return trip was due to a moment of weakness. 

I'm usually very good at "No, thank you." But a  conversational sales gal caught me in a moment of weakness. She set just the right trap to snare my vulnerability. I had just thought to myself that morning or the previous night that my eyes look tired. After I had selected a free soap sample, she mentioned the exact condition of my eyes that I had observed. And she said she had a product that would make a noticeable difference. 

I had time to spare, so I decided, why not? I doubted I would see results, but why not let her try?? 

And then I saw results. Hmmmm. Now what. To buy the products that did this would cost more than I've ever paid for skin care products. But she had given me a mini-facial. After quite a conversation and checking online, I bit the bullet and handed her my credit card.  ... 

I thought that would be the end of it. Silly me. That was just the hook!!!! She had more magic to show me -- and I could have the rest of the products for half price -- but double what I had just paid. It was much easier to say no on this one, but I felt much less confident about the original purchase. Had I been suckered? Time will tell. I haven't tried the products on my own since I've been home. Maybe that will be a future blog post. 

As I left the Soap Stories store and continued my way to the beach, I passed what was called The Millionaires Gallery. I window shopped some fantastic artwork of major recording artists and was tempted to go in but did not. That's probably good, because three nights later, Gene and I were walking along Duval Strret together and entered the gallery. And the saleswoman had a pitch that really did not want to end with no. But accompanied by Gene, I was able to resist. 

And if there is a patron saint for travelers, he or she had been with me earlier that day. At the gift shop at the end of the Ernest Hemingway House tour, I realized I did not have my bag -- or my cellphone that was in it. I mentally retraced my steps and realized  I had probably left it in the restroom. So I was headed there. But as I exited the gift shop, there was Gene with my bag. He had been sitting in a shady spot not far from the restrooms and store while I continued exploring the Hemingway grounds. And when a woman came out of the women's restroom holding a maroon bag with a large white aTm logo, asking if anyone was missing this, he quickly claimed it as mine. I am SO grateful. Lucky. Blessed? Grateful Gene did not have to deal with the hassle of me losing that stuff. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

God is at work (Resistance is futile), Part 2

may need to wait a week before I share most of what is on my mind. But I am grateful for continued evidence that God is at work and truly wants me to join him. The lesson this week has been that I don't get to know in advance what we are doing or what the result will be. I just get to pray, listen, obey and trust. 

This past week, it led to today's amazing worship opportunity as two people trusted God's nudge and stepped outside their comfort zones. 

But in another instance, it led to what seemed like rejection of an idea I thought was planted by God. Oh yes, another reminder that I don't need to worry about the results. I just need to do my part. 

And along the way, packing for a vacation -- something that usually keeps me up half the night, and  sometimes into the wee hours of morning -- is completed before 10 pm. And it's looking like a blog post will be done as well. 

So, sometimes, as I mentioned last week, responding to that nudge seems overwhelming, as one thing leads to another. But maybe I'm seeing that if I can continue responding -- prayerfully seeking, obeying and trusting -- I will truly find in God the peace and purpose I desperately long for. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

God is at work (Resistance is futile)

God is at work. 

He's inviting me to co-labor with Him. I feel myself trying to resist. 

I'm praying to respond in faith.

Little steps of progress/faith bring good feelings and inner satisfaction but also reminders of what holds me back. One thing always leads to another, and pretty quickly I feel overwhelmed. Then the doubt kicks in. Doubt that I can do -- even with His help -- what God seems to be calling me to do. And then I get caught up in trying to figure out how to do it all instead of just doing what's in front of me. Rather than trust God to equip me for what He calls me to do, I fret about whether I will be able to. Often, fear grips me, and I decide I can't do some of the things that seemed so right and divinely inspired to do.

As I responded to a friend who said "Resistance is futile. LOL!": Ultimately I know this is true, but it's amazing how stubbornly I keep trying to resist. If I could just channel that effort into faithful response. Haven't given up hope of that.

And that's where I will leave it for now. 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Circles of life

The weekend was rich. A highlight was celebrating two lives (great-niece Lissy Cheyanne and aunt Amma Belle)  who began their flesh-on-earth journeys April 11 -- but 94 years apart! And despite my surgical procedure, also on April 11, I was able to make the two-hour trip to Texas without physical distress. 

April long has been a month of emotional highs and lows. April 15 was precious sister-in-law Elaine's first birthday in heaven; she would be 55. The family celebrated -- but I also cried. 

The way this month goes, though, April 15 was also great-niece Ami's 11th birthday, and it was nice to be able to celebrate with her. 

Today, April 17, is the anniversary of what to me is still the saddest and most unfathomable thing for our family ever to experience: the sudden death of 5-month-old Ryan Michael. I think it was 18 years ago.  That will never, ever seem ok or make sense to me this side of heaven. But I know God knows the whole story and sees the big picture, and we don't have to understand things to know that God continues to be in control and loves and blesses us and works all things for good when we seek Him. 

Next weekend brings niece Jennifer's 28th birthday and 17-year-old niece Angela's prom -- celebratory reminders of how life goes on. 

Before that, Tuesday, April 19, is the 21st anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City, which I cannot deny had life-changing effects on me. Each anniversary brings renewed commitment to live fully. 

I'm not sure how to wrap this up. It's kinda like what someone I know says about saying grace. He said when he realizes he's gone as long as he wants to go, he quickly transitions to his concluding thought, some variation of asking God to "bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies, we beg Christ's sake. Amen."

I guess my blog version of that is just to ask God to bless these people, these moments, these memories and observations, and to help us all live to His glory.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Finding the good about a tiny red bug, noisy alerts and a TV that doesn't work

Seemingly moments after responding to some negative comments on Facebook by writing "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" -- and not long after my husband left to spend the night at home instead of with me in the hospital -- a couple of things happened that I really wanted to tell someone about, along with something that had happened earlier. 

My blog philosophy is I prefer not to post about an experience unless I can find something nice or uplifting to share. 

Does two out of three count? Or maybe I'll just post about the one that qualifies. 

After eating lunch, I noticed a tiny red bug crawling on the side of my tray/bed stand. Not sure what it was (and having already had Gene squash it), I typed into my iPhone search bar "tiny red bug in a hospital." And it came up with text about and pictures of bed bugs. 

Now, I don't have much experience with bed bugs, but that was not what I expected to see in response to my search. But I thought the picture looked pretty much like what I had seen -- and according to the Internet, immature ones can be that tiny and red. Alarmed, I started searching for others and was surprised but not really comforted not to find any.

While I was still puzzling over this and thinking I was itching more than ever (I had already taken Benadryl for itching I attributed to stress), Gene shared with me the result of HIS Internet search. The picture looked pretty much like what my Web search came up with. But the description was much different. And much more acceptable. 

Red spider mites!!  

I asked him what he searched for to find that, and he said "red mites." And one of the first things he noticed in the description was that they like roses. And guess who had gotten a fresh bouquet with roses a little earlier in the day? And guess where they had been sitting until just a short while before that tiny bug was observed and eradicated??  

What a relief!!

Another positive about that experience was to realize that I am being pretty vigilant about anything that could jeopardize my recovery. Before surgery, they asked if I have any history with any of those nasty infectious situations I'm not even going to name, that sometimes occur at hospitals.  I said no -- and I want to keep it that way!!

As for the TV and remote, I don't need to be watching tonight anyway. (I thought I would already be asleep at 9:30, but then I started writing.) Rangers baseball didn't come on until late, and I certainly don't need to get caught up in that tonight. And the IV bell has been silenced. Except for those two incidents, the nurses and aides have been very prompt, in addition to being gracious and good at their work. (And even in these cases, they were gracious. They've just taken longer to resolve than anyone would have liked.)

So, it's been a good day, in ways much more significant that what I've written about here (but these were more fun to write about).  I've prayed a lot along the way, and so have many others regarding the surgery and recovery. As usual, God has blessed me beyond anything I deserve. I am grateful beyond my ability to express for His mercy, love and grace. May I live to His glory.