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. 

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.