Monday, February 28, 2011

Routine challenges

A busy weekend away from home provides another reminder that I'm not adjusted to my new work schedule. Two days in a row of getting up early and having full days has left me TIRED!

And now it looks like my may be changing somewhat. All I know about my schedule this week is that I go in at 2 p.m. today instead of 4 p.m. I assume that means I work until 10 instead of midnight. But I don't know. And if I work the "early" schedule instead of the late this week, I don't know how that will affect my 10-hour days (usually 2 to midnight). Will I go in at noon? Or will I work until midnight anyway?

That probably makes no sense (and may also seem like a strange way to be managed -- for workers not to know their schedule by the start of the work week), but in some ways it fits right in with my own chaotic mind today. It's bouncing around from one thought to the next, and I can't even capture one thought long enough for a coherent blog post!

There are things I don't like about working until midnight, but there are things I do like about a routine. Not knowing seems hard for me. "One day at a time" keeps coming to mind. Those are words I've been encouraged to live by, but I don't do so well. This week may test that.

Above all, I'm trying to remind myself what I know works regardless of what is going on around me or what I know or don't know about my schedule or the expectations of others: Turn to God. Praise God. Obey God. Thank God. In so doing, I will remember that I am blessed and that I will be equipped for whatever the day brings. That equipment will include a heart overflowing with love, compassion, humility, faith and gratitude, among other things.

Dear God: I am just continuing to pray to know and DO your will, one moment at a time, in all things, to YOUR glory. Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fine lines and fine-tuning

There's no law that says I have to get 8 hours of pillow time every night, but it's been a great goal during these weeks of transition to working until midnight most weekdays. It has had benefits, even though I've still seemed tired. But maybe it's time to let go. I was awakened at 8:30 a.m. Saturday by a wonderful call from my brother. I so enjoyed catching up with him. But what will I do about just 6 1/2 hours sleep, I wondered. The obvious answer seemed to be a nap later.

That's not how it turned out though. After errands and a meeting starting at noon, I ended up watching or listening to a lot of basketball on TV, online and on the radio. I was able to do some other things while following the games, but napping wasn't among those things. I shut off the radio after the last of the three teams I was following won about 10:30 p.m., which would not have seemed that bad, except I had agreed to sing at early church the next day, which meant the alarm was set for 6. That still shouldn't be too much of a problem, I thought. Eight hours is the goal. It's not a rigid requirement.

Again, so much for my thoughts. It was a restless night. It didn't seem like I slept at all, so at one point I seriously considered sending an e-mail to the person in charge of the music and saying I would call in the morning to confirm that I wouldn't be in for early church. That really seemed like the reasonable thing to do. It didn't seem like I'd gotten any rest at all, so I thought I would be miserable when the alarm finally went off. But somehow, I awoke feeling fairly rested and refreshed. I figured my energy would suddenly crash, but I made it through a full day without it happening. In the meantime, I heard a great sermon, sang wonderful hymns with the congregation and a wonderful anthem with the choir (the same song I did as a solo at early church), and experienced an invigorating Sunday school discussion and later a Bible study, along with lots of fellowship. I also did the Sunday usuals: buying groceries, washing some clothes, riding my exercise bike and a lot of reading, a little housecleaning and calling my Mom, among other things. And no nap.

So, now it's Monday of a busy week in which I'd like to fit in some extra activities. I haven't figured out this sleep/schedule thing. Because I have to be alert up until midnight for work and after that for the 30-minute drive home, it seems imperative to me to make sure I get enough sleep. I don't want to feel too tired to drive home. But rigidity is starting to feel unrealistic. But without rigidity, I get little done other than eat, sleep and work.

So, it seems as if I'm walking along a fine line of what works and what doesn't work. I'm tempted to think it needs fine-tuning. But at the same time, it seems like maybe it's working just fine.

I have no resolution to this right now, but for some reason I think writing about it will bring me closer to an answer.

Things I do know and cling to:
-- God is in charge. Great is God's faithfulness.
-- God knows what I need and is providing it.
-- Seek, trust and obey God.
-- Thank God.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lessons in humilty (just do it anyway!)

-- I signed up for an 8-week Disciple Bible Study course at my church. It doesn't seem like I have time for the daily reading, and how do I know I'll be able to attend the group meeting each week? But this is one of those things that I sense God telling me: This one's yours. Don't fight it. Just do it. You'll see why, by and by!

-- A week ago, I braved potentially snowy roads on a Saturday to go from Norman to Oklahoma City for a 12-step meeting. No one else made it. I noted in my journal that it seemed like I'd traveled 25 miles for an hour of solitude. But the time turned out to be well-spent. I read and learned. And I felt a bond to people who have been there and done that before -- being the only person to show up at a meeting.

-- A week later (this past Saturday), I trekked to the city on a sunny day for a meeting. The room was full. More evidence that God knows just what I need when I need it.

-- An unhappy colleague who survived two rounds of layoffs has now officially resigned without a job securely lined up. For some reason, the person's decision was filled with lessons in humility for me. I guess what that involves is realizing I have no business judging others about anything. It's all I can do to mind my own business.

-- The Sunday school lesson included some discussion of why people don't seem to learn to follow God's good instructions for our lives. Among the reasons we gave was greed. But it occurred to me that, for me, the bigger issue truly is pride -- the thought that I somehow deserve better than what I'm getting. It's been going on with mankind since the start of Scripture! And realizing that also seemed to confirm the antidote: Submit myself humbly before God.

(I wrote this midweek, and for some reason I didn't post it. Maybe I thought it wasn't finished. But I don't feel like writing today, so it looks pretty good! What did I say? Just do it!)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More of the same (and that's good!)

Psalmcat 51:2.12.11

This past week was filled with gifts of grace. Following a week in which I was so aware of how my best and most hope-filled plans seemed to get thrown off course, I experienced several days in which things that looked like negatives all ended up with positive results. And, of course, that's what also happened to those plans the previous week that seemed to be derailed.

Among the most recent examples:

-- Despite my best efforts not to care, I still struggle very much with wanting to be recognized for my diligent efforts as a copy editor in catching mistakes and keeping them out of the newspaper. But every month, no matter how many "catches" I enter in the newsroom contest (for January, it was more than 15, including misspelled or wrong names; wrong or missing dates; and factual errors) and no matter how good I think they are, someone else wins, usually for a single catch. I try not to let it bother me, but every month, my humanity gets in the way, and it does bother me. But this month, something unexpected happened. No, I didn't win for my "catches," but I won for a headline I wrote. It's ironic, because I don't consider headline writing one of my strengths at all. But when it comes to that monthly contest, I've probably been recognized more for my headlines than my editing. (Adding to the irony, I would not have been able to enter my winning headline, "Wave of expansions buoys Port of Catoosa," had another copy editor not caught that I originally wrote "bouyed.") I definitely heard God laughing in all of this and also trying to get me to learn a lesson in humility.

-- As each day passed since my crown prep work, and after returning to the dentist twice to have the temporary put back on, my doubts grew that the temporary would make it until my Feb. 21 appointment to have the permanent crown put on. So, in God's perfect timing, as I was somewhat dreadfully preparing to work into the night of impending snowfall on Tuesday and immediately after I had read that I didn't win for my catches and did win for a headline, the inside of my temporary crown crumbled!!!!!!! The other times, the whole thing came off, but this time, the inside crumbled into small pieces, and the outside stayed in place, although I could tell it was loose. Aaaagggghhhh!!!!!! I did not want to go back to the dentist, and since it was after 4 p.m., I decided I would wait until Wednesday to even call. As it turned out, the snow did come. I would have been able to make it to work for my four-hour shift on Wednesday, but instead I was able to get an appointment to take care of my tooth problem. And while there, I received totally unexpected good news: The permanent crown had come in early, so they were able to put it on!!!! After a tooth saga that had begun with crown prep work and 2 fillings on a snowy morning in mid-January, this was great news. So, the bad news of the temp crown crumbling turned into the good news of getting the permanent crown early. Maybe I'll be done with that for a while.

-- When snow and ice are in the forecast, it's hard for me not to fill with dread.
My place of employment stays open even when the weather is bad. When there's work to be done and I'm scheduled, I want to be there. But I live 25 miles from the office, so it's not always possible. So, I watch the forecasts and try to pack my car and an overnight bag appropriately and give it my best shot to get to work. The previous week, I was glad to be told to stay home on the worst day (even though I had to take personal leave time). This time, I could have made it to work, but I knew from the work plan of the previous day that enough people would be there to get the job done. Then, when the dentist's office was able to get me in, that made the decision to not go to work for my 4-hour shift even easier. (And since I didn't go to work, and my husband also was off because of the snow, we had an early Valentine's, going out to eat and then renting two DVD movies to watch.) So, two weeks in a row now, I've experienced silver linings among the snow and ice of winter weather. And because of my crazy schedule, I was able to miss just the four-hour shift each week, working the other 36 hours of my week the other four days.

Among the lessons learned (again?):
-- God knows exactly what each person, including me, needs, and He gives each person exactly what that person needs. But it's up to the person to accept what God gives. God doesn't force His gifts upon us. And sometimes the gifts are disguised.
-- God works all things for good.
-- God has a sense of humor. I might as well enjoy it and share it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Making God laugh

Psalmcat 51:2.5.11

I hope it's a sign of spiritual maturity and not immaturity or senility that I'm learning to laugh with God when He laughs at me after I make plans.

It seems I've found myself making plans several times since the start of this year, trying to become more organized and efficient. It even seems like I'm making my plans prayerfully, seeking God's greater good and not just my own selfish desires. But it also seems that every time, something unexpected has come along to shift my priorities from what I had planned. Layoffs (not me, fortunately, but they affected me), dental work, winter storms, even my parents' health to some extent have thrown me off my attempt to get "on track."

But the continuing refrain is that it is OK. God is great, I am blessed, and life is good. I laugh to myself as I write that, thinking of how cliche it sounds. And some days when I write those words in my journal or online, I have to check myself. Do I really believe that? Will I believe that if my health fails, I lose my job or my parents, or some tragedy befalls? Some day those things will occur, and I believe that the little detours God allows to get in my way are helping prepare me. I also know there were times in my life when these kinds of "little" detours immobilized me -- mentally, and sometimes even physically. It may seem cliche or trite, but the fact is, for me, since I've become more faithful in praying, reading the Bible, looking to God, looking for the good and being thankful in all things, my outlook has changed. I can find the good. I see the blessings. It didn't happen overnight. In fact, it has taken many, many years, and I'm pretty sure the journey is far from over. Some days are still a struggle. But hopelessness is gone, gone, gone.
What a joy!

It is a joy that, for today, when God seems to laugh at my plans, I can laugh, too, and be thankful. He is so good, and my heart rejoices.