Mission Accomplished

aster inside

This picture (above) will make sense in a minute. Read on.

This week, I got a new job. I’ve been trying to get my head around it for a few days. It’s with Thurston County, a few miles up the road. It’s the one I interviewed for. Overall, I applied for 15 jobs. I scored an interview for one job, and then got it. Due to the severance package I received, I never had to collect unemployment. People, this is not how life works for me, generally. I can only say God was in it. file

My new title is what the County calls a Senior Office Assistant. That title tells exactly nothing about the position. Am I senior? Not old enough yet, despite receiving random AARP mailings.  Anyway, Thurston County wants to build a new jail. This project is still in the germination stage. They need a project manager (already hired), and a project administrator (now me) to get it going. They’ll also need a project inspector. He/she will come on board during construction, I reckon.

I should mention this job is a three-year, full-time temporary position. I suppose it looks like it lacks a little job security. But I don’t mind. I’ve never been the person that planned to work the same place for 20 years. I get restless. Besides, a lot can change in 3 years. A lot changed in the nearly two and a half years I worked for the City. I started there as a file clerk, a two-year budget line-item position, and I got hired on permanently.

I want to point out that I got this job exactly 8 weeks after I quit at the City. Also, any jobs I was qualified for on indeed.com or flexjobs.com dried up. Why? Because, friends, God has a dramatic flair. Heard of the Israelites and the Red Sea crossing? Ever seen a sunset? A rainbow? The inside of a flower? I rest my case. Plus, Jesus knows how much I like things wrapped up with a bow, symmetry and symbolism and the like. He gave it to me. He is so good. In fact, I this song rang almost continually in my head, especially the chorus.

I have a few more days to goof off. It’s been a glorious summer. I start the new gig August 1, also an answer to prayer. I’ve learned so much about believing for the best, trusting that my skill and abilities count, and enjoying the moment. God’s goodness never changes. Hallelujah!

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  – James 1:17

 

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Born Gifted

gift-wrapped-box4lr

This past Saturday, we spent time skating around a rink. Ruby and her older cousin celebrated their birthdays together there. We had ice cream cake. We pushed our bodies around on 8 tiny wheels and fought to stay upright. It was fun.

While traipsing back and forth from the party area to the restroom, I noticed a little boy. He rollerbladed along sporting a white T-shirt that said “Born Gifted”. Immediately, all the entitlement issues the younger generation struggles with came to mind. My hackles rose, but on the inside so nobody could see them. You want special treatment, right?!

Then I had another thought.

Yeah, buddy. You are born gifted. But so am I. And so is she, and everyone else in this room. We’ve all got gifts. Each gift is different than the one the person next to you has. Yet we all have gifts. If there are gifts, there must be a giver. The giver is God. You have God-given gifts waiting to be opened.

I watched one of my nieces fly around the ancient rink, hair flying, a grin plastered on her face. She has great athletic ability. I watched my youngest nephew charm everyone he passed. My sister-in-law skates with great grace, seeming to float over the boards. Ruby sews dolls and cares for stray animals. Zac understands politics and argues his stance with great passion. Jonathon can teach anyone anything with kindness and humor, breaking it down into bite-sized chunks for people to digest.

We all have something. What gifts have you left unopened, their bright shiny paper beckoning to you from the table? It’s what we do with them and how we develop those gifts that counts. What are your gifts and what are you doing with them?

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  – James 1:17

 

 

Between the Lines

One of Zac’s favorite shows from long ago.

The other morning, I had a conversation with a little friend of mine.

We started talking about reading the Bible.  This child rolled her eyes.

“I already know Jesus died for me,” the omniscient child said.

I smiled at the dramatics. “Oh, sure. But that’s only the beginning.” And it is. Salvation is the jumping-off point for a life of surrender and great adventure with the Lord.

The babe wasn’t finished.

“There are so many words I don’t know. I’m like, ‘What’s that mean?'”

The Bible has a lot of words. Some nearly unpronounceable, like Mephibosheth. Some of their meanings still elude us,with words like holy, sanctified and justified. Mystery surrounds “washed in the blood”. I wondered which word – or words – gave pause. I should mention how much I love words. I settled in my chair, coffee in hand, ready for a great discussion on one of my favorite subjects.

“Like constipated. What does *that* mean?”

I kept coffee from squirting out my nose. Only barely.

“Uh, I don’t think that word’s in the Bible.” I outlined the meaning of constipation. The kid laughed, too. I said the main way I learn the meaning of words was, well, *is*,  to read. A lot. You can pick up a word’s intent by the context, or words surrounding a certain term.

Which made me wonder about how I come across in daily life. Can people tell I’m a Christian by reading between the lines – picking up the context – of my actions and words? Or do they get hung up on a bad word I said about someone or to someone? Am I eroding the meaning of following Christ by the context of my life, which provides a poor setting?

I hope not. I pray not. I hope people keep reading, and the goodness of the gospel becomes clearer day by day. Let the continual surrender bring God glory.

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? – James 3:9-11

 

Friday Flash

“Ruby, what are you doing?”

Our ten-year-old lounged on the couch, eating an orange. She’d spent the day home from school, lying on the couch, catching up on old shows. Allergies plugged her ears. She sneezed as if on cue and rubbed her eyes. The thermometer read normal but she felt lousy.

“I thought you wouldn’t be home until 8:00!” she squealed. She sat at attention.

Busted.

That was the plan. We’d asked her to take a shower and put herself to bed while we were at worship rehearsal. Zac, though conscientious with the -his-sister part, doesn’t do the “tuck in” ritual well. Ruby says so.

“You’re supposed to be in the shower now,” I said, with a dark mom glower on my face. The clock stood at 7:35 p.m.

“I forgot all about it,” Ruby squeaked.

Riiight. Parents, this is about the oldest excuse in the book, right next to “The dog ate my homework” and “The devil made me do it.”

Lately, Ruby’s had a hard time doing what’s asked of her with a good attitude. She grumps and pouts, slamming forks and knives and spoons on the table when asked to set it for dinner. Napkins go every which way. Looks like a bunch of squirrels played hockey there.

This morning was no different.

“What chore can I do?” Ruby asked. Our deal is you have to do a chore before you get to technology. This is after getting ready for the day, etc.

“You can take out the trash,” I said.

From the living room, I could hear her working. She lifted the bag out of the trash. She started to drag it to the back door.

“Don’t drag it,” Zac corrected. “You need to pick it up.”

“It’s too heavy,” she said. “I can’t lift it.”

“Like this,” I heard Zac say. He must have demonstrated how to carry the bag out the back door.

“I caaan’t!” Ruby whined. Somehow, she edged the bag into the trash.

I couldn’t stop laughing. So much drama. What’s next? Now she needs to put in a new bag. How will that go?

I heard her open the cabinet under the sink to pull out a new garbage bag.

“Seriously?” Ruby says. I can visualize red steam puffing out of her ears.

Jonathon’s cracking up with me now, safe in the living room.

See, the kitchen is under renovation. Jonathon will put new butcher block countertops in today. All the stuff that lived under the sink has temporarily relocated to the living room.

“In here, Ruby,” Jonathon called out to her.

Ruby stomped into the living room. I try not to look at her. She yanked straight up on the bag, pulling it free from his box. She walked back into the kitchen, gustily shaking the bag to get it to balloon out from sticking to itself.

Jonathon and I laughed. This early morning drama brought to you by your resident tween!

We will deal with Ruby’s attitude. But it’s so familiar, isn’t it? Those of us whose driver’s licenses prove adulthood status still struggle at times, exhibiting little tantrums over the small inconveniences of life. The too-long red light. The dirty socks in the middle of the floor – again. The empty coffee carafe no one bothered to refill at work. Will we lose our cool, or exercise self-control? Lord, help me remember to laugh and be part of the solution, not the problem.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. – James 1:2

 

 

 

 

Thinking Prayer

the thinker

(source)

I like to lump myself in the category of thinking people. I consider options. I can see several perspectives on an issue all at once. I don’t speak without weighing my words, most of the time. But sometimes, this works against me.

I don’t speak up when I should. I let intolerable situations go on too long. I sit, uncomfortable and squirmy, when I should speak up and say something. I want to spare the feelings of the other party/parties. Well. Maybe I’m not a fan of confrontation, either.

On the flip side, I’ve been told I’m direct, a “black and white” type of person. I tell it like it is. I don’t hold back when I feel strongly about an issue. This is also true, for better or worse. I freely admit this creates a bit of a split personality at times. And gets me into trouble. Ahem.

Yet timing is everything here. I pray about what – if anything – to say. This doesn’t mean lengthy prayers full of pleas and platitudes. Often it’s “Lord, help!” So many in this life dwell in the valley of decision – stuck on what to do about marriages, schooling, parenting. My heart aches for them. I only want to make it better.

However, I’ve found that problems don’t belong to me to solve, more often than not. I want everyone to get along and be happy. Is that so much to ask? Of course, this implies that *I* have all the answers. Perhaps I should start my own “Save me, Susan!” hotline.

Insert sarcastic laugh here. Not happening. Nope. Nuh-uh.

I write this to say I want to help. I will pray about your situation, definitely. But I might not be able to give you the answers you seek. I only know one all-wise God. I’m not Him. I talk to him regularly. I know His ear is always turned toward us. Give Him a try.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. – James 1:5

 

 

 

 

Three-Day Joy

joy-297113

(source)

I just finished the year-long Bible reading plan with daily psalm. Well, I didn’t *just* finish it.  I ended on Christmas Day. Without warning, poof! All done. I read it on my iPad. Suddenly, the screen said, Good job! A picture of a full cup of coffee next to an open book popped up. What?! Nooo! I still have another full week left in 2015! What now?

I know. First world Christian problems. I took a day to think about it. Then, I found a short plan lasting only 3 days. It contains random scriptures about joy. Three the first day, four the second day. I’m supposed to memorize them.

Like this one…

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10

That’s a good one, actually. But this one…

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15

Eh. Okay.

Nothing wrong with these scriptures. Joy is an important component of the Christian life. It helps you stay afloat when all around you is sinking. However, what I’ve learned about joy came into play today, the last day of the mini-study:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Yes! Joy and thankfulness come as a package deal. Also this:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4

Joy has a purpose and a focus. We fix our eyes on what is good, noble, true, right, etc. (Philippians 4). Through turning to Jesus, we can keep gazing at those things and not the overwhelming circumstances. The great engine of the faith, endurance, is fueled by joy. Like the old story of the boy, cheerfully mucking out a stable full of poo. “There’s a pony in here somewhere!” he pants, all smiles.

And so there is, if we keep on. We don’t have to settle for short-term joy. We can have a lifetime supply.

 

 

Tuesday Trivets

trivetToday, I find myself grateful.

My mom moved up to Shelton just over a year ago.  Since then, she’s found a great church to be a part of, full of friendly, caring people.  She joined Anna’s Bay Chorale, along with my husband, and has been able to find her musical soulmates up here on the Olympic Peninsula. I’m proud of her.

Today, I took a short walk out in the fresh morning air.  My calf hurts less and less.  But I won’t push it. Through a Google search, I found a website that made the most sense to me.  Gonna follow his lead. I’ll be up and running in no time.

Rex, bless his heart, has taken to bringing me his fresh kills.

Rex's catch.

Rex’s catch.

Rex also captured an empty water bottle last night. It’s possible he might need medical intervention, since he moved away from killing members of the rodent family.  Perhaps Rex and the rodent kingdom reached some sort of detente.  Not sure why he’s taken to bringing me cylindrical objects, though, of late, but I try to be appreciative. The PVC pipe scraps bring him much joy. Maybe it’s some sort of geometry lesson.

Sometimes life is like that.  You don’t know what gifts will come your way.  Maybe you can’t even construe them as gifts at the time you receive them. They might even masquerade as challenges, complete with frustration and angst. It’s only later that you see their potential. Sometimes, it’s a gift to not get what you wanted right away. Waiting and surrender enter your everyday vocabulary. Then, when it happens, straight out of the blue, it’s like the heavens opened up and you find yourself soaring above the clouds.  Your onetime insurmountable obstacle gave you wings.

Hallelujah!

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. – James 1:17