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. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

"Amazing how God works"

Sometimes it makes the most sense to just record here what transpired on Facebook. The title is a comment from a friend that was part of the discussion. This started with my post Wednesday morning: 

I need this. Help me, Lord! I'm stuck in a rut and unsure what to do. Clinging to God and His words. 

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

Those were from Jesus Calling. This is from The Upper Room. I'm seeing a pattern. He's never failed me yet. 

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

1:8 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 
1:9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 
1:10 He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, 
1:11 as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

To which my friend offered a couple of comments:
 Praying for guidance, wisdom and discernment. God will show you His path.
And
God is rather demanding in drawing our reliance to him! :)

From First 15::
1. Take time to quiet yourself and receive God's presence. Meditate on this verse: 

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11 

2. Respond to his goodness by telling the Lord: 

"My heart says to you, Your face, Lord, do I seek." Psalm 27:8 

3. Make David's prayer yours today: 

"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple." Psalm 27:4


Psalm 27 
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet[b] I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire[c] in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek[d] my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”[e]
9     Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe[f] that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

My comment along the way: (Because nothing changes if nothing changes.)

My friend Barbara added this:

Thank you for these reminders of God's love and care. Psalms 62:8 --  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.

Thank you, both, Kimbra and Barbara. 
Ruts are about the worst; at
least that's how it seems sometimes. It's miserable to stay stuck but it takes a lot of patience and effort and faith to know how to move forward and then to do it. But of course, God through His Word has the answers.

Susan was also grateful, and Julie shared this:

Psalms 46:10 
It helped me through much. 💗

Ah, yes: 
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Someone also shared some things privately that I need to hold on to. 

So -- here is what I am to tell you, though I do not know why. Perhaps you will know. The topic was Abram's sojourn into Canaan. The point was that as God was preparing to fulfill blessings, all kinds of barriers are erected, including Sarai's barrenness, the land being already occupied, Abraham's too small armed force etc... So the question is asked over and over, What good is the promise of God? And the answer to those of us sitting in safe situations is -- "well it's God. Of course, therefore the promise is good! It's God." Easy to do when you are "safe" and "comfortable." Abram was neither. It's easy to accept the promise of God, except when God demands risk based on that promise. At times it seems impossible the promises will be fulfilled. Yet our faith is grown as we learn to trust God and seek his will through the seemingly impossible, at the worse times. Things really begin to go off track when we stray from this central point (As it did with Abraham) but get righted once we turn back to trust in God. It is God's way of growing our faith, which is naturally imperfect in its human form. The patterns in scripture are set up to show us who Good is and that needs will be met. How do we do the seemingly impossible? Through a belief that God will sustain His promises to us. Ok -- there you go. As I said, I don't know what is going on or why this, but I have passed this on to you. Will pray that all will be resolved and you will have Peace. 

My reply: Pretty clear to me. I need to pray aloud and with the person involved about the situation I am facing. Pray in faith and live my faith. Even if it seems futile in the short-term or things seem to be getting harder and less clear rather than easier and clearer. Thank you for sharing -- and for continued prayers.   

You're welcome. No choice really, though. I do as told, even if people think I am crazy wink emoticon. 

Now the question remains: will I? 

Another opportunity to be brave arose at work Friday, and so far I am holding back. 

Maybe I'll share it here, where I am braver than I am on Facebook. My friend Robb shared this on Facebook and it resonated with me. But so far I'm too much of a chicken to share it on Facebook. 

If you are incapable of living in a world that needs the lessons transgendered folks live for, then I'd ask that you appraise your values. My guiding criterion is such. Don't resent what you don't understand. It's an opportunity for fellowship in a brief world.

So, as I revise the closing on this, I see it could just as accurately be titled "God is at work (Resistance is futile), Part 4." But that will be for another day, more likely sooner than later. 









Saturday, May 28, 2016

Yes, I am blessed

Last Sunday's experiences of worship and friendship were every bit the blessing I had hoped and expected. I don't end up with that feeling every time I feel God is orchestrating things. I accept it as an amazing gift of peace and joy when it happens. 

It also confirms what I think but sometimes forget: Doing good or right things won't always lead to the desired result, but do the good or right thing anyway. Eventually, I will see where it fits into a blessing. 

Thank You, God. 

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.