Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cyclical reminders

Anniversaries. Cyclical reminders of joys and despair. They are real. That's all for now. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not so random after all

I thought this week's post was going to be quite random, but after I got started, that wasn't the case. 

One of the things on my mind is that I am not good at goodbyes. My own big farewell from my workplace of 34 years isn't supposed to happen until October. But Friday was the last day at work for two of my colleagues, including one who was not among those being laid off but decided to bail out anyway. What it brought to the forefront for me was how hard it has been for me to maintain friendships with people who are no longer in the circle of people I cross paths with on a regular basis. I've made some improvement, but as my own departure gets closer, I am acutely aware that relationships don't continue without effort. 

Facebook actually has helped me stay more connected with people -- because I don't have to remember everything about them. I can check their page for an update before we see each other. 

That leads to the bigger issue: I don't trust my memory. And so, as I prepare to wrap up a major chapter in my life, I have some anxiety that details even of key experiences and relationships will fade into a blur. Many already have. 

I have some hope that steps I am taking now and will continue after October may strengthen my memory, but is it possible to regain what seems lost? Instead of agonize about this, maybe I'll chose to be hopeful!!

(An interesting aside is that some of the aftermath of my co-worker's notice that he was leaving led me to see how close I was to not being laid off -- and realizing again how grateful I am for how things have transpired.)

This is the random part, excerpts from devotions in recent days. 

From Thursday:  

First 15's simplicity study today is about freedom in the spirit, and the Scripture was Romans 8, which is about the furthest from simple for me. I have learned a simple trick that helps some, however, which is to read it aloud. 

Friday:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. —2 CORINTHIANS 12:9

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. —PSALM 62:8 NKJV

Saturday: 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. —PSALM 40:2–3

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. —PSALM 42:5 NASB

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. —PSALM147:11




Sunday, July 10, 2016

Grateful, blessed, overwhelmed

Grateful, blessed, overwhelmed. 

"You are holy righteous and redeemed."

Lyrics and the melody from MercyMe's song "Greater" help keep me focused on Christ and the promises of Scripture as the onslaught of life -- from personal triumphs and trials to those of the world -- threatens to wear me out. 

"There'll be days I you lose the battle ... Grace says it doesn't matter ... Cause the cross already won the war ...."

Below are more of the lyrics.

"Greater"

Bring your tired
Bring your shame
Bring your guilt
Bring your pain
Don't you know that's not your name
You will always be much more to me.

Everyday I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I'm not right.
But that's alright

Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed
When others say I'll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
In the world.

Bring your doubts
Bring your fears
Bring your hurt
Bring your tears
There'll be no condemnation here
You are holy, righteous and redeemed.

Every time I fall
There'll be those who will call me
A mistake.
Well that's ok

Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed
When others say I'll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world.

There'll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn't matter
Cause the cross already won the war

I am learning to run freely
Understanding just how he sees me
And it makes me love him more and more.

Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed
When others say I'll never be enough.
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world.










Saturday, July 2, 2016

Nothing new here

It's been a while since I've admitted to doing this -- posting a placeholder. I may or may not come up with a real post later. There were more important things to do today. And now it's past bedtime. 
Good night. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Meddlesome reflections

I am a meddler. 
Sometimes I can't/won't keep my mouth shut. 

I still think it's just communication, but I'm aware others may see it differently. 

I will say I generally appreciate it, at least in the long run, when people tell me what they think or what they think they would do or even what they think I should do in a situation. Maybe that's not healthy on my part. But to me it seems like it can be a healthy part of dialogue and communication. 

What prompted this was awareness of the meddlesome aspects of a text I sent my niece the previous week. I quickly followed with a text expressing my concern to her that I had overstepped my proper place in commenting on a situation, and all was well. 

But then I found myself doing it again in another family situation. Writing the words above helped me to rein myself in. 

I do think intent and motivation can make the difference in whether something is meddling or just healthy communication or feedback. But it's not always easy to be clear on my own motives. I just have to stay very aware of these issues. And even if my motives are pure, it still can be received as meddling, and the recipient's perspective is equally valid as my intent. 

Of course, I've also learned from experience that, when I do overstep healthy boundaries, I can attempt to make amends. And God's grace most often allows my efforts to set things right to be accepted. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reflections on work

The On Wednesday -- a week after I learned I would be terminated from my employment by the end of October -- my Upper Room and First 15 devotionals both were about work/works. 

This came as I had growing awareness that I have everything to feel positive and grateful about, but I cannot deny the stress I feel. I had gotten to bed a little after 11, then woke a bit before 2 and could tell my mind was bouncing with thoughts and unlikely to let me sleep. My husband also woke, so we talked some.

Then and Tuesday evening in counseling, I tried to acknowledge and feel those other emotions: fear, sadness, uncertainly, stress, tiredness. 

I wanted to fix how I feel, but it occurred to me that fixing it wasn't  as important that moment as just to keep on keeping on. The next right step. So I got on the treadmill. I prayed and also talked more to my husband. Then I did my morning devotions, getting some positive affirmation to keep on keeping on. 

First 15:
God calls us to a life of works because he loves us and has designed us for such a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The work he is calling you to is perfect for you because he is the one who formed you and knows you. Have faith in the love and perfect will of your heavenly Father. Choose to live a life of good works. And experience the joy of living every minute of your day with intentional and eternal purpose. 

From Upper Room:

“But why would you do that for them when they let you go for no reason?” I questioned.

“I am going to leave as a Christian,” she said. “I want my name to be associated with kindness and to show the love I always felt at my job.”

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul speaks of the “clothes” that followers of Christ are to wear: compassion, kindness, humility, forgiveness, love, with love being “above all.” Marie left her place of employment with kindness. She was wearing all the right “clothes” and showed us the power of forgiveness and of Christ’s love.

Colossians 3:12-17

3:12 As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 
3:13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 
3:14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 
3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 
3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 
3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Prepared, protected and provided for by God

This was how the day started, as posted on Facebook: 
God catches my attention in a way I can't ignore when the Upper Room and First 15 devotionals highlight the same Scripture on the same day: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

I also shared this commentary from First15.org:  "It's vital that you understand these characteristics are not something you strive toward in your own strength, but they are a natural result of being loved by God. You will never be able to be consistently faithful, gentle, or anything else good in your own strength. It takes the work of the Spirit to be marked by the Spirit. Engage with the Holy Spirit throughout your day. When you find yourself in a situation and are struggling to be a person full of the fruit of the Spirit, take a minute and ask for the Holy Spirit's help. Ask him to share with you his perspective and heart. He is with you in every moment and longs to help you live your life to the fullest. Enjoy his love today and live your life out of the abundance of God's presence available to you." 

Next was an email upon arrival at work before 10 a.m. about an important company meeting at 5. 
I went from that to a mammogram on a mobile lab through work. I did pretty good at staying focused during the day and not worrying about "the important meeting."

That was until I and many of my copy desk co-workers were told at 4 pm that we would be meeting at 4:30. I've been around long enough to know that could not be good. 

As I later explained on Facebook, sharing the link to a news report telling that The Oklahoman would be shutting down its presses and that it would be printed by the Tulsa World (although the article didn't include that the copy desk would be gutted and that work outsourced to Austin, Texas): OK, friends and family, you can read it from me first. So, yes, this includes me. Fortunately, God -- that orchestrator of "Resistance is futile (when) God  is at work" -- was preparing me and continues to provide. I have four months to make this transition and to try to help others along the way.

As I responded to various comments from friends, many of whom seemed more distressed that I did:

-- Truly, it's not a problem for me, and I'm grateful I get to prepare. The situation is much worse for several co-workers.

-- As I said above, it's truly not a problem for me, and I'm grateful I get to prepare. 34 years is probably enough at one place. The situation is much worse for several co-workers.

-- Change is hard, but I'm more open to it these days than I was at many points in my life. 

-- It will work out fine for me. It will be a lot more difficult for others -- and may also be kinda crazy for those who will still be there. At least I'm not out the door already. I'm so grateful for the four-month transition time.

-- Yes, my heart aches for journalism and dedicated professionals who just can't win in this environment. It's gonna be a tough few months. But I'm going to try to be a positive force in the transition.

-- I actually have prayed along the way to act in faith if this ever happened. I thank God for answering that prayer. I also thank Him for the transition time that hopefully will help others even more than it helps me.

-- In response to one of several friends who assured me there is life after The Oklahoman: I'm counting on it. I'm grateful I didn't have to leave today and will be able to transition out. I'm also grateful for my friends from the good old days!!!! I'm so glad we've kept in touch and will continue to.

In an attempt at summary, I cannot overstate how grateful I am that I was not sent packing the day I learned my job would be terminated. In my almost 34 years at The Oklahoman, I've escaped the cut of many a layoff, and I cannot think of any previous times where people got to hang around and actually let people show their respect and for everyone to share farewells. It truly was an answer to prayer. Something I found myself pondering as I got older -- and as I saw continued trends in journalism that demonstrated how expendable my job is viewed to be in the money-making scheme of things -- was whether I would be able to leave on my terms, or would I end up getting that "here this morning and out the door by the end of the day, never to return" treatment. Based on that 34 years' experience, I saw no way I could get laid off and also get to transition out. And even though I didn't pray directly for this, God knew my heart. And with God, all things are possible. I already knew this. And now it's powerfully reaffirmed.

Now, I also know God would have worked it for good had the news been different, and I was out of my job as of Wednesday. I consider it pure grace that that's not the way it happened.

 I overflow with gratitude, humility and a desire to give God the glory. I pray and trust that God is shaping me that I can respond that way even when things don't work out my way. And I pray to be mindful of how to lift up those who face more obstacles and hardship through all of this. I think those fruits of the spirit, and how God reveals them as I receive His love, are key.