Saturday, January 29, 2011

Too tired to think, so I'll just say thanks

Psalmcat 51:1.29.11

I'm not where I'd like to be in adjusting to a schedule that has me working until midnight 4 out of 5 days each week, but I'm in a much better place mentally and physically than I expected to be at this point, at the end of the first month. The strongest feeling or sensation right now is sheer exhaustion of mind, body and spirit -- and so I won't be writing more than this summary.

I'm thankful for a relationship with and faith in a loving God who takes care of my every need, often through the words and actions of family members and friends, but also through the written and recorded words of people I'll never know. I'm increasingly able to find the inspiration or blessing in a moment and to let go of the frustration or negativity. Songs, Scriptures and sayings that to some people may seem trite come to hold dear meaning to me as I continue to experience their truths.

For me, the source of all things is God, and to Him belong all the glory, honor and praise. I continue to pray to live in a way that glorifies, honors and praises Him. I feel grateful and blessed to know that He answers that prayer because of His great love for me. Thank you, dear God.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Signs and wondering

In a conversation last Sunday, someone mentioned praying to God for a sign about a work-related situation. I said I guess I do that, although I more typically just pray for direction rather than for a specific sign. But after that conversation, I may have prayed for a sign. And as the work week evolved, I found myself wondering:

-- It seemed like Monday there was a good sign, with some positive information about how to handle a bad situation the previous Friday. Maybe this job is where I need to be.

-- Tuesday seemed to bring mixed signals, as I saw a discouraging pattern of at least one person not making it in to work each day. Because of other circumstances, I found myself wondering: Are they really sick, or just sick of it.

-- But Wednesday came the most powerful sign: Not only were there more layoffs (I understand that in this economy), but some issues about the choices that were made for the second time in less than a year still make no sense to me. The bottom line and powerful message: There is no security in my job. It doesn't matter how hard a person works, how positive they try to be or how good they do, that person might be let go and someone with less skills, a less positive attitude and less productivity still be there. I thought I learned that last time, but apparently it didn't sink in. Actually, I had hoped "they" would have learned. But that didn't seem to happen.

The good news for me is that, so far, I don't even have to wonder about whether I should just quit trying. My faith and understanding of my service to a Higher employer tells me to do my work, whatever it is, for the glory of God. He'll provide whether I'm on this job, unemployed or working somewhere else. Surprisingly, I really do believe that today. And today is all that matters, right?

One of my favorite devotional readings, from a 12-step program, was very timely on Thursday, as I faced a little reluctance on a day that included 2 tooth fillings and crown prep at the dentist and 10 hours at work. Do I really want to do this?
Excerpts from the reading:
"When a man's willing and eager, God joins in." Aeschylus
When a job or situation or personal problem seemed too hard, I used to say, "I can't do it." ... I have tapped a source of power greater than myself. All I need to start the action is willingness. ... What is the willingness formula? Prayer. When the miracle happens, I watch a defect evaporate, a task easily done, a problem solved. God does for me what I cannot do for myself.

I thank God for answering my prayer for willingness and offering Good Orderly Direction in times of chaos as well as times of smooth sailing!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Keeping the faith during stressful reality

Psalmcat 51:1.15.11

I was brutally reminded by my body on Monday at work that faith and positive thoughts don't always -- immediately -- overcome the physical effects of stress. But seeking God's will and trusting Him to provide whatever I need, including knowledge of His way and strength and wisdom to adhere to that path, is my only effective option. And I continue to be reminded that it works.

I was already thinking I would have to blog about this topic when a friend posted this on Facebook: "Not sleeping well...stress is slowly trying to kill me...hope you all have a great day!!!"
Others also posted about emotional, stressful and painful days. I think we all hate to post anything negative, but it does seem that sometimes it is the right thing to do, because it allows others to offer support. And that support helps. And at least as regarded myself and my friends this past week, posting also helped the person find a positive focus.

The morning after my worst day of the week, Scripture and devotional readings provided much guidance and assurance:

-- Lord God, according to Your Word, if I wholeheartedly commit whatever I do to You, my plans will succeed (Prov. 16:3). I acknowledge that the heart of committing any plan to You is seeking YOUR plan. Show me the right path, Father! (From my daily devotional by Beth Moore; timely words for me)

My Scriptures included Genesis 22 (God testing Abraham and finding him faithful); Psalm 6:6-10: The Lord has heard my cry for help ....; Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart .... ; and Matthew 8:18-34, including Jesus calming the storm.

After enduring that night of work Monday in which my body was in major stress pain and my mind almost as bad, Tuesday was much better. As I tried to think of what was different, I finally realized it was this simple: God is faithful. He keeps His promises. Some days will be better than others but God is always good and will see me through when I continue to seek Him and to live to His glory.

The rest of the week seemed to be going pretty well, but then Friday brought a lot more frustration and doubts about whether it really is worthwhile to keep trying to do what I think is the right thing. It was a day in which it seemed like no good effort would go unpunished. I hated that I felt so resentful and full of self-pity, but when that is how I feel, denial just compounds the problem. So I just kept praying for God to help me understand and to keep the faith, even when it seemed again like a pointless effort.

Today, I received some answers. Although I don't particularly like them in the short run, I know they bring positive results in the long run. And those positive results are already occurring. The study at my 12-step meeting was about turning our will and our lives over to the care of God and then taking a personal inventory to find out what within us is standing in the way of our usefulness to God and our fellows. The book spells it out clearly, and my experience also bears it out.

Resentment and self-pity may seem justified, but they provide no positive results. But what can I do about them? The book affirmed what I know: I cannot wish them away. But I can ask God to remove them. And He will. I know that, but sometimes I forget. Or maybe sometimes I don't want to let go right away. It helped me to think of how God really has taken these negative feelings away in the past and how freeing that has been to my mind and spirit.

The book also reminded me that God does provide what I need. He sees the big picture. I can trust that God knew I didn't need some recognition I thought I deserved yesterday. And I can also see that God knew I needed to head home after 11 hours of work even though there was more to be done; He helped me see and trust that others who hadn't been there as long could finish it. And then He guided me safely home.

As I was driving home from work after 1 o'clock this morning, my thought was that I do have faith in God and that I'm grateful for that. I was thinking that I have come to trust God completely, although sometimes I forget that, too. I was thinking that it's not a matter of trust, but a matter of not knowing for sure what God wants me to do. But even in my tiredness in that 30-minute drive home, it also occurred to me that perhaps the reason I can't discern for sure what God wants me to do is because I don't trust Him completely. Perhaps my fear and rebellion and self-will keep me in denial. But that's a topic for another day.

For now, I'm just grateful that even though some circumstances continue to be less than ideal, God meets my every need, often through the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues. And as that happens, I continue to respond by doing what I can to share and help others.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas in January

It's the second weekend of January, and I'm still celebrating Christmas. I guess that's what happens when you try to find the silver lining in whatever life brings.

Yesterday I watched the DVD of the Texas Rangers landmark season as the American League champions. It was a Christmas present that had to be shipped late. It was fun to watch and to appreciate my nephew for getting it for me. Today, another shipment of presents came, including a fascinating coffee-table book with writings and photographs of art masterpieces inspired by the Bible. And then there's my iPhone, which I guess I effectively traded in the camera to get! (I was going to get the iPhone anyway, but now that I have it, the camera can wait, or so it seems.)

Tomorrow, I'm singing a Christmas song at church. I debated all week whether it would be OK to do so late, and I've decided, with some encouragement from family and friends, that it is OK. I didn't have a chance to sing special music during December. And the message of what happens at Christmas isn't just for Christmas. As I've practiced, I've enjoyed being reminded that "love came down ... chains (are) broken ... songs of hope (ring) through the skies ... A Father calls through a gift of life ...."

Continued celebrations of Christmas seem fitting in a week of days in which I've tried to find blessed gifts in new and sometimes trying circumstances.

My body and mind and home life still aren't crazy about my new work schedule, but they're all glad I have a job and that, so far, I've been able to keep a good attitude and get started on developing a good routine. Right now, though, it also seems like work when I'm home, because I have to keep a pretty tight schedule if I want to get anything done at all. I still have no sense of passage of time between when I get up and when I go to work. I'm more accustomed to work (or church) being the first order of business each day. It's strange to have time to do so many other things first ... and tempting to not be ready when all of a sudden it's time to actually go to work. Meanwhile, my husband and I have made the most of maximizing some of our time together. That's been good. I think we both realize we had taken for granted the great schedules and work flexibility we'd had these past 28 or so years.

Being scheduled to allow me to attend choir practice on Wednesdays is every bit the gift I thought it would be. Choir members were glad to see me, and I was more appreciative to be there than perhaps I had been before. Again, it's amazing how easy it is to take things for granted. It's also interesting to me that, as important as The Seeking Hour at 7 a.m. Wednesdays had seemed to me, I'm not really upset to give that up. I do hope to continue to include aspects of that prayer discipline in my week if not my daily routine.

Friday, I visited a friend in the hospital. I'm not sure I would have done that with the old work schedule. I think my visits with my dad during his recovery from lung surgery last fall also impressed upon me the importance of such visits. Even though my friend could not speak or clearly acknowledge he knew who I was, I felt much hope and continue to pray it's just a matter of time before a breakthrough leads to a strong surge of recovery.

Yesterday and today, the sun shone brightly. That's always a gift in January, even when potentially nasty weather more typical of the season is in the immediate forecast. I'm grateful for every sunny day -- and grateful for insulated outerwear, warm clothes, heaters, a car that runs, etc., on the days when the weather isn't so bright.

Today is a gift. Life is a gift. Gratitude is a gift. Love is a gift. Blessed by all of these and more each moment from God, how can I not feel the joy of Christmas all these days later? Thank You, God. And I'm reminded that the way to most fully experience these gifts is to share them. I pray to do so, to God's glory.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ready for action!

It's 2011, and I'm ready for action. Or, at least I'm ready to offer some good action verbs:

Live. Love. Laugh. Learn.
Pray. Praise. Play. Persevere.
Rest. Rejuvenate. Read. Rejoice. Remember. Realize.
Give. Grow.
Exercise. Excise (excess). Enlighten. Enjoy.
Abide. Abstain. Appreciate. Adore. Accept.
Care. Cooperate. Celebrate. Cook. Clean. Create.
Beautify. Be. Bless.
Dance. Delight. Dine. Decide.
Forgive. Free. Face. Feel.
Help. Hug. Hope.
Illuminate. Illustrate. Inspire.
Jump. Juggle. Justify, Judge (fairly).
Keep. Kindle.
Move. Make.
Open. Optimize.
Qualify. Quantify. Question.
Share. Sing. Sigh. Simply.
Touch. Tell. Think. Travel.
Unite. Unify. Understand.
Write. Work.

I toyed with putting this in alphabetical order, but the missing letters would stand out more, and the ones that came to mind first wouldn't be at the top. This is in no particular order, but there is something about the order that I do like. The words inspire me. May I embrace them and live to God's glory.