Friday, January 29, 2010

Encouragement from the Meek: One of God's Favorite Ways to Speak

If you consistently read my blog , you would have already been aware at how challenging things at my new job have been. I've been working off the clock, trying to balance school work and the never ending tasks of putting this department together. This week I've been trying to articulate to my boss my needs, and the areas that I need help in. Every time I've tried to speak to her, I somehow cannot communicate them in the way that she responds and understands what I'm trying to say to her. Due to the fact that I pride myself in my communication skills, this is quite frustrating. I now have a better idea of how frustrating it must be for a deaf or hard of hearing person to try to communicate to somebody who doesn't know sign language.

Yesterday morning, my boss announced to me that we would not have a pastor for the scheduled church service at 10:00. So, I whipped together a devotion with my personal resources, and headed down to the chapel. I did the topic on fear, and having courage and trust in God in the midst of that fear. I felt like that was the topic that the Lord led me to in my "off the cuff" preparation for this event. I also knew that hearing myself speak about it out loud would be a great personal reminder, as I struggle to understand how I'm going to do the tasks that I set before me.

After a mini "sermon", some hymns ( sung acapella), and some scripture readings, I dismissed them. Just as I was about ready to leave the chapel, my resident Gladys approached me. She gently laid her hand on my shoulder, and looked me straight in the eye, and said " You can do anything, can't you?". That comment stopped me dead in my tracks as I realize how God was speaking to me in that moment, through a shy, sweet older woman. She then preceded to tell me that she could never talk in front of people, she has always been too shy. All I could respond with was "Gladys, I'm where I need to be".

Isn't that just like God? When you feel like all of your efforts are aren't really making a dent, when you aren't sure what your next steps are going to be; He brings His message through the meek... one of His favorite way's to speak.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Puzzle Pieces

Yesterday afternoon at work, the calendar read "cards" for the afternoon activity, to be held at 1:00. One of the frustrations of coming into a job where an activity calendar was already created for the month, was the fact that non-specific, "let's just fill the calendar" activities like "cards" would come up frequently. Thankfully, I had four ladies show up, and it just so happened that all four of them knew how to play 500! (For those of you who don't know the game "500", you need 4 players to play) I was just about ready to go back to my office to dive into the gazillion piles of work that needed to be completed, when a sweet resident named Gladys came to me, seeking something to do. I suggested we go to the activity room to see if we could find something to do.

There are two giant, round oak tables in the activity room, and on one of those tables there is an ongoing jigsaw puzzle that the residents put together on their own time. The current piece of work is an old style "Coca-Cola" scene, which is probably one of the most difficult puzzles I have ever seen! The scene is an old, wood bookshelf that is full of coke memorabilia with about 150 different coke signas on this shelf. It's an incredible picture, but the puzzle is all the same color scheme, and almost reminds me of one of those "Eye Spy" books; lots of tiny little details.

Gladys and I worked on the puzzle for about an hour and fifteen minutes, with our "claim to fame" being about 5 matching pieces per person. For most of the time, it felt like this puzzle was almost impossible to put together. Just when you thought you had a matching piece, it wasn't the right piece, and as you looked for one specific "obvious" piece, you could never find it!

Putting that puzzle together is exactly how my life feels right now. It feels like there are a ton of puzzle pieces just laying on an oak table, waiting to fall into place and connect to something. So many things in this job seem crucial, and there are only 24 hours in a day, which can't all be spent on this job. Balancing that with my schoolwork seems like an impossible task at times. And just the CONCEPT of balance.....ugh, I just plain suck at it. I'll put my heart and soul into something that I'm passionate about, but then things like my apartment and myself just get tossed out the back door.
I guess the peace that I have in all of this is knowing that God puts every piece of that puzzle together in His own timing. When we keep "looking" for that missing piece, it will be harder to find! We can't rush or hurry God's placement of things in our lives. And, in the end, it will be a beautiful masterpiece worth framing and hanging on the wall.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Appreciating Our Past

Now that I've had about 2 weeks to settle into my new life adventure, all of my collective "pondering" is coming to the surface in need of home.
I am totally blown away by God's faithfulness during this transition, and how everything has literally been falling into place. The first week was pretty difficult, and the first day was to say the least, overwhelming. But every day gets a little easier, and every day I start to grasp my vision for this job and these residents. You know you are in the right field when you have a consistent vision for your job, a vision that continues to transform with the more knowledge and life experience that you gain. One of my motto's that I share on a regular basis with my seniors is "You are never too old to learn something new. The day you stop learning, is the day that you die."For those of you who know me ( and those of you who know me by following my blog), you know that I've had a lot of different life experiences. What I haven't shared is that even though I have moments where I look back at the positive times in those life experiences, I have more often looked back in embarrassment at either how I was "at that time", things I said or did and wish that those people could "see me now",as if the me "now", is better then the me "back then".
One of the daily devotionals that I strive to read on a regular basis is "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie. The author takes the fundamental, crucial "12 Steps" of the AA literature, and puts them into practical daily meditations to continue to learn how to live an emotionally healthy life. Even though "AA" and "Alanon" is typically viewed as a resource only for those who are affected by the bondage of addiction ( and in my case, those who are affected by somebody else's addiction and destructive learned behaviors), the principles in this literature are principles that EVERYONE should practice and DO need. I'll have to blog more on that concept on a later date.
This mornings meditation really spoke to my spirit, almost a "break through", if you will. The title of the meditation is "Appreciating Our Past". I thought about just typing some key points, but decided that every single piece of the meditation was a key point. So here it is.
" It is easy to be negative about our past mistakes and unhappiness. But it is much more healing to look at ourselves and our past in the light of experience, acceptance and growth. Our past is a series of lessons that advance us to higher levels of living and loving.
The relationships we entered, stayed in, or ended taught us necessary lessons. Some of us have emerged from the most painful of experiences with strong insights about who we are and what we want.
Our mistakes? Necessary. Our frustrations, failures, and sometimes stumbling attempts at growth and progress? Necessary too. Each step of the way we learned. We went through exactly the experiences we needed to, to become who we are today. Each step of the way we progressed.
Is our past a mistake? No. The only mistake that we can make is mistaking that for the truth."
It wasn't until this morning after reading that meditation, that I finally got it. For whatever reason, I have conditioned myself to think that everything that I do or say, has to be perfect. I find this interesting, because I'm not a "perfectionist" with a lot of things. I have weak organizational skills, I wouldn't consider myself a "micro-manager" and not everything that I wear ALWAYS has to meet some kind of standard. But when it comes to my past life experiences...experiences that were rich with culture, relationships and opportunity, why do I become so embarrassed and ashamed for who I was? Why do I always feel as if I have to "get it" right away? Life is a series of lessons to be learned, but it is our choice as to whether or not we want to appreciate those lessons with all of their awkwardness, confusion, betrayal and tears.
Also, I want to note how all of us know those people who live in anxiety over their past. You know who I'm talking about! They are those people who never seem to be pleased, are easily worried; Those people that you just don't feel "at rest" around. They are always striving to "make it right", when in reality, it was never wrong. It just was.
When I get ready for work in the mornings, I like to listen to "Klove" radio on my computer. Today they were having callers call in with a specific word that they would ask God to guide them with, using their word of choice as a key word. Some people chose "run "("running the race") Others chose "friend", one lady chose "give". After writing this blog entry, I've decided that my word for the year is "embrace".
Embrace relationships, embrace new experiences, but most of all, embrace the past, and embrace who I am, at JUST this place in time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


It's after Christmas and it's past the first week of the new year, and any American who watches television knows that the media is pushing weight loss and healthy living in general to the max. I am SO sick of the magazine covers, TV promotions for diets, exercising equipment, exercise plans and personal conversations with friends revolving around this topic. Upon these strong feelings, I decided to think about why I feel the way that I do about this topic.

Nearly everybody on this planet knows what it means to be healthy, but very few actually take the steps to do everything that they can to be healthy, or to maintain their health. We focus so much on weight loss and wellness, that I think so many people don't ever pay attention to the root cause behind the realities of not taking care of ones self. There is a reason that we choose to do ( or don't do) the things that we do.

I am a true believer in the theory of thought that the human body needs to be treated holistically. Meaning that, the symptoms should not be healed, but the cause behind those symptoms are what we need to face, address and work to change. I have been going to a holistic chiropractor for quite a few years, and wouldn't ever consider going to a physician in a white coat who spends 10 minutes telling me that I need to take this antibiotic to treat a specific symptom. I believe that my chiropractor has the spiritual gift of healing, and it has been through that gift of healing that I have been introduced to the truth that our bodies are not just made of our muscles, tissue, skin, nerves, organs, etc. but that every part our physical existence is interrelated.

An additional thought that I had about this concept is the concept of hunger. A lot of fad diets promise that if you eat the foods that they tell you and at the right times, that you will "not ever be hungry". Just the other day I had a rather "blond" moment in which I turned the oven off, thinking that I had turned off the timer. Anyways, to make a long story short, it ended up taking about an hour to bake something that would have only taken about 10 minutes. My mom made some comment about how she wasn't hungry at 6, but now at 8:00 she definitely was. I responded by saying something to the effect of " Well, it's not like we couldn't stand to be a little hungry!" referring to the fact that it seems like we've been eating non-stop since Christmas.

Why can't our bodies handle being hungry? Why is it that when we feel the slightest hungry pang, we reach for something in the pantry or decide to have a meal? I'm not saying that hunger is bad, or that food is bad, but think about it. Why do we deem it so important? I am reminded of my life defining trip to Cambodia, and how the natives would ride their bikes or walk for a considerable distance, for one bag of rice. It was on that same trip when I realized that the blond "high lights" in the young children's hair wasn't a dye job, but was due to malnutrition. And on a "closer to home" note, local food shelves are struggling to be in stock, due to the high demand of hungry people who are without a job, and have nowhere to turn.

The devotional that I try to read every morning is a compilation of many books that the "Women of Faith" ministry team have written throughout the years. One of the devotionals that I read was talking about Jesus, and how when we come to Him we will never hunger nor thirst. In the the depths of our souls the pain, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, abandonment, fear, betrayal and confusion can only be filled and set free by our Jesus. The author of that devotional made the comment that "you can choose to eat chocolate to fill your need, or you can choose Jesus. It's your choice." It's a harsh statement, but isn't it true? I know that I have on more then one occasion, turned to chocolate to satisfy a craving that I thought was just that, a craving for chocolate. However, how many of us have actually turned to the Lord in prayer and in His word, to fulfill a "craving"? And why isn't this our first instinct?

As we are in the thick of "New Year's Resolutions", remember that resolutions of physical wellness are admirable, necessary and important. But I challenge you to take it a step further, allowing yourself to start ( or continue) on a journey of the depths of who the Lord has made you to be, and where you hunger the most. May the Lord fill your hunger for Him, and may you have the strength and the courage to accept the fact that He is enough to fulfill and complete your every need.