If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

10-things-youd-love-to-say-at-work

Yesterday, our former director came in. He had officially resigned and needed to pack up his office. I heard his voice on the other side of the row of cubicles.

“Hey, how’s it going?” he tossed out at people as he and his girlfriend, aka reinforcements, passed by.

I didn’t go over and say hello. I didn’t wish him well in his new phase of life, which I guess is retirement, according to firsthand reports. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have it in me to spout pleasantries or make small talk. He threw me and several others of us under the bus in his quest to eschew blame for things that were clearly under his command.

I really thought about this. I prayed about it, sitting in my cube. Do I go over? What would I say? I’m not mad anymore, but what he did wasn’t okay. I couldn’t even, in my Christian “turn the other cheek” mode, justify a single word. Anything I said would come out as a lie to my ears. Or worse. Like…

“Hey, there. How are you? I fulfilled the records request from your attorney, the one where you asked for my calendar and emails. Thanks for believing the worst about me. Which was wrong, by the way.”

Hmm. Maybe I need to work on forgiveness a little more.

So, I did nothing. I heard our designated representative chat him up as he packed up boxes. I heard the rep ask questions. They laughed together. I thanked God for this rep, who is also a Christian. However, I should point out that Mr. Rep didn’t get tossed into the road like the rest of us. Also, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t go talk to him and say goodbye. In fact, he had to seek people out to get assistance – boxes, etc. I saw the back of old boss pass by in the hallway to the break area. I spotted him again as he left the building, girlfriend trotting behind him. It’s the end of an era. Old boss was a nice man, a good man. But when things didn’t go his way, he abandoned us and spun a conspiracy theory.

When it was all over, our IT guru handed me old boss’ company phone. I got the whole thing – box, cord, and mobile. I held it for a moment. I remembered how long it took for this iPhone to come in, and then how O.B. struggled to find a memorable number to attach to it.

“What do you think, Susan? Should I use 555-6050? Or maybe 555-7777?”

I smiled. I need to hold onto the good times, and let it go.

But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:15

 

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O Come

angels-and-sheep

I’m sitting here, drinking coffee and my blackberry smoothie. Ruby sits across from me, eating a cinnamon roll. This song rolls on:

It’s Advent Season now. Perfectly acceptable to blast the Christmas music. This particular version has no instruments, only voices. The haunting beauty of the melody has its roots in medieval times. Some think the stanzas date back to 800 A.D.

But we don’t need Jesus only during the Christmas season. He didn’t stay a baby forever, but grew up to be our Savior. We need Him every day, every hour. He still bids us to come to Him. In fact, God has been calling us back to Him since the Fall.

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink–even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk–it’s all free!” – Isaiah 55:1

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” –  Matthew 11:28

Once we receive Jesus and surrender to His cleansing and lordship, we’re in the Beloved. We have eternal life and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We’re in the everlasting arms of the Father. Then it’s our turn to say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. – Revelation 22:17

He’s still calling out. He still longs to be in fellowship with you. You have nothing to lose. It’s the perfect season to receive God’s greatest gift. Won’t you come to Him?

 

 

Thankful Friday

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful for…

Sunshine. It’s creeping through striated clouds. Strips of blue shine out, reminding us that the days will eventually turn beautiful again.

I got to put in a 3-mile run in the daylight and it didn’t rain. The fresh air and low temperatures helped me have one of the best runs in a long time.

It’s also a good hair day.

The kids and I don’t have work or school today. Which means Zac is still sleeping. Ruby has been busy, however.

rubys-heartgreen-haired-lady

Nobody has called to view the house. Which means we can enjoy another relaxing day with minimal chores.

The dishwasher churns in the kitchen, making sure we have clean forks and such. Rex snoozes on the windowsill. It’s wonderful to be home.

I’ve been so mired down in “God, I need you” types of prayers about things I simply can’t figure out that sometimes I lose sight of gratitude. Gratitude prepares the heart for happiness. So, dear readers, I’m thankful that you take the time to read what I write. I pray you come to know God’s goodness in a greater way during this Advent season.

 

Pre-Thankful

blues-clues-steve-dancing

Yesterday, we planned a day of much rejoicing. The new fuel system, long anticipated but never duplicated, would get installed. We could ditch the dot matrix printer and DOS-based operating system.

But no.

The installation technician, Bob, explained to my co-worker, the head mechanic.

“See, we didn’t know the controls for the pedestal weren’t inside the pedestal. They’re mounted on the wall, inside the garage.”

Since that same tech had spent 3 days in the shop, looking at installations and checking out our system, I found all this hard to stomach. Cause nobody took the time to look inside said pedestal. They simply made an assumption.

“Oh, and you need an electrician to do the wiring first.”

The tech smiled a smug smile.

The head mechanic looked him in the eye and said, “This is on you guys. It’s not our responsibility to tell you how to do your job. Plus, I asked about an electrician and you never got back to me.”

Again, not communicated. It all became a communication problem. The problem with communication problems, I’ve found, is that usually someone suffers for them. In this case, it’s us. I managed to scrounge up an electrician on the fly, and a good one, based on the shop guys’ recommendation. But still.

“I’m really disappointed,” I said to the sales rep when I called him on the phone.

That needed communicating.

“Oh,” the rep said, flustered. “I can see how you’d feel that way. You’ve been waiting for months, and Bob’s availability hasn’t been good…”

Nope. Bob had lots of other work in far-flung places. He told me so. And actually, we’ve waited for more than a year in the process of researching, bidding, purchasing, etc.

“Well, Bob called me. He’s working to get you on the schedule,” the rep continued. He confirmed installation won’t occur until mid December, if then.

Awesome. Sigh.

You can see why I’m all too glad tomorrow is a holiday, and the next day is, too. I won’t solve this today, or even tomorrow. I have to believe God knew about all this, including Bob’s ignorance. His timing is perfect. So today, I choose to be thankful for it. I might even dance a little.

 

 

 

Living in Limbo

Not this. Although it looks fun.

I went outside this morning, hoping for light rain on my run. I got blessed. A watery half moon peered down as the trees dripped. No new precipitation. The leaves have fallen, so the streets and sidewalks held no slippery leaves. The streetlights glimmered on the wet pavement.

As I pounded up the hill, I considered all the things that we still have no decision on. The house hasn’t sold. We got a low-ball offer , asking us to pay closing costs as well, more than a week ago. When we countered with full price to account for the closing costs, they disappeared. Things at work still hover in the land of indecision. How will our department reorganize in the wake of staff changes and budget cuts? And the biggest question of all: Did I win the $320 million Powerball Jackpot?!

Probably not, since I never buy tickets.

Anyway.

I dislike limbo land. Immensely. I’m a yes or no person. I’m not a fan of indecisiveness. If I can’t decide on something, I usually default to no. So to me, waiting around feels like a negative answer. But my way of thinking isn’t God’s way of thinking.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Okay. So what do I do in the meantime, when the answer doesn’t come in a timely fashion and I start to feel foolish for even believing? Did I even hear right, Lord? Or was that some bad pizza?

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
 – Psalm 27:14

It’s never seemed courageous to me to wait for anything. My paradigm consists of practicing and working for things. But there’s a meekness to waiting, and a surrender. You’re not solving it yourself. You’re not chasing answers. David, who wrote Psalm 27, knew something about this as he waited to become king, and in the meantime, got hunted down by the existing King Saul. Several times, he had Saul in a vulnerable position and could have killed him. But he didn’t. He trusted God to bring it to pass.

So this season of waiting is not wasted. I’m learning patience. Not my strength, honestly. But I know Jesus walks with me, and I can keep doing what I know to do in the meantime.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

 

 

Hair Peace

hair-piece

Yesterday, we drove up to Seattle so I could take notes at the fall Microsoft PACs. My hair, always an independent entity, didn’t want to behave. I plotted a blowout. We found a place on the way at a mall, just inexpensive and quick. It was part of a chain.

We stepped to the counter and found we were at least a half hour early for my appointment. But they took us a few minutes later.

The stylist, a small Asian man by the name of Abraham, smiled at me.

“Do you mind if I cut your husband’s hair first?”

“Not at all,” I said.

I sat in a spare chair and watched the other customers and stylists. To the right of me, a mom got her hair highlighted while her little girl, a beauty with long dark curly hair, entertained herself. She sang songs and imagined and ate snacks. Her mom talked to her, and I could feel the love between them.

Abraham cut Jonathon’s hair, mowing it with a razor. He pointed out cowlicks to Jonathon, who nodded. His head is full of them and one of the major reasons he keeps his hair clipped so short. I watched as Abraham thinned out the sides and evened up the back. Jonathon looked sharp when he finished. I sat next to the pot of coffee, enjoying the peace.

My turn. I sat in the chair and got draped with cape and towel. Abraham washed my hair.

“Your hair is curly. Do you want to make it curlier, or…?”

I told him I wanted it straight.

He nodded and said, “It looks really good natural. People are starting to pay $80 for perms again.”

He round brushed my hair, pulling and drying.

“Your hair has so much body. You have a ton of hair.”

Yes. I do.

I wasn’t sure I liked what he was doing. He pointed out how he was putting movement into it, how my hair fell a certain way. I mentioned the flat iron and put down the dryer and reached for it.

“You know what, Abraham? You do what you want to. You’re the boss, applesauce.”

“Oh, thank you, Susan!” Abraham half-hugged me, grinning.

And that’s how I ended up with a swingy 70s sort of bob. I like it. Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to duplicate it, but it’s fun.

Somehow, Jonathon and I found a little island of peace in the midst of all the political melee. I want to point out that not once did anyone bring up the presidential election, or riots, or Trump, or anything. There are still great folks in the world, serving with excellence, if we get out and take a look.

Trumped

donald-trump

Last night, Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States.

I never saw this coming. Not in a million years.

Zac turned on BBC news coverage of the 2016 election as he folded clothes.

“Mom,” he called from the family room. “Trump is winning.”

I saw early indicators of it when I checked in yesterday afternoon. But I never thought it would hold. I’ve lived in blue states all my life, albeit sometimes in deeply red pockets of rural areas. I figured the established party, with someone who’s been a politician already, would win handily. Experience counts, right, like when you interview for a job? I was wrong.

Watching the BBC broadcast proved fascinating. The main female announcer – Kitty? Kathy? – caught the gist of what was happening pretty quickly. She mentioned she spent some time in southern Virginia talking to a conservative radio talk show host, a shock jock. He said we were witnessing the rebellion against the “wussification of America”.

Over and over, the trend analysis pointed out that white working class men came out to the polls in droves. They never felt they had a voice before now, someone who understood their troubles. Trump has pledged to bring jobs back to America and they liked that. Evangelical Christians voted for Trump because of his stand on abortion. Women who wanted to stay home with their children and not be forced back to work found a champion in Trump.

The broadcasters had an interesting take.

“Trump did this with his own money, without GOP backing. He’s thumbed his nose at the establishment. Look at the upset. We’re witnessing history here.”

They talked about this election like watching your little brother in his first scrap on the playground, surprised and a little proud when he takes his opponent down.

Yes. As Jonathon and I sat watching the coverage, dumbfounded, I mulled it all over. No, I didn’t vote for Hillary, either. But I can’t get excited about a thug as president.

I had to run outside today in spite of the rain. It felt like the earth was crying. I thought about my Facebook feed that ranges from people protesting the electoral college system  to those thanking America, with pictures of unborn babies. How do we come back from such a divisive election season? How will we ever find middle ground, when we’ve discounted each others’ opinions and beat each other up for more than a year?

I dodged puddles, the streetlights hazy in the morning mist. I found myself considering the bullying tactics of Trump. Getting down to basics, how do we teach our children common decency in the face of someone who openly hates others who are different and incites fear of them? How do we tell young boys that it’s not okay to grope or assault girls? Never mind all the other allegations of swindling leveled against Mr Trump.

Because our president, our newly elected leader of the free world, has done all those things. You can say, “Oh, he doesn’t do that anymore.” Great. I need to see fruit. I need proof. I need him to take advice from the good people who surround him and get going on “making America great again”, whatever that means. My Christian friends say he is born again. Again, his behavior this entire campaign makes that a doubtful proposition.

This entire election process has driven me to my knees more times than I can count. I have prayed for Obama, for wisdom and strength. I will pray for Trump, too. Because only by God’s grace can America ever be great.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. – Proverbs 14:34