Category Archives: work

sometimes God gives you what you want to reveal that its not really what you want

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its interesting how God works at times… i find that He’s merciful in giving us what we ask for, though He knows that later we will look back and see what we’ve asked for is not really what we end up wanting.

for years i wanted a career in international business. it’s what i went to school for.  it’s what i know.  it’s what i wanted to know.  i’ve fought to be here… i’ve fought to see myself as a success.  i’ve gloried in the fact that others saw me as a success.  and today i resigned.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Over the past seven years I have seen women in my church live by that verse and “sacrifice” career and worldly success for something that God deems to be praiseworthy.  I mocked them.  I ridiculed their resolve.  I didn’t understand and I continued my pursuit towards success.  And in many aspects, God gave that to me.  Yet, I wanted more.  I wanted to be more of a success.  It wasn’t enough that I had a good job that paid well… i wanted more security, more pay, more benefits, more recognition.

and yet i continued to be surrounded by women who in some way, though i didn’t agree with their choices, i was beginning to respect.  i was seeing wisdom in what God designed as their roles.  Not that there’s no place for a woman outside of the home, but i began to see a benefit FOR them investing at home (which before I never really had cared to see).  And as I saw their lives, and compared that with God’s standard of success, my heart began to praise them as well.  I’m not sure this was a conscious choice or simply a result of seeing the power of God at work in them… women who you don’t know.  Women who aren’t known for success.  But women who in my eyes are more successful than Oprah or Katie Couric or Sarah Palin.  These women are Julie and Robin and Kelli and Corri and Judie and Erin and so many more I can’t name.  These women are my example.

They do their husbands good.  Their husbands trust in them.  Their children rise up and call them blessed.   They work hard and diligently and care for their families.  They are generous.  They laugh at the days to come.  They are my examples.   I want to be like them.

I don’t want to measure my success by worldly standards.  It might be weird that a 29 year old “successful” program planner at an international manufacturing plant would just up and quit with no big career goal.  But I have a big God and my goal is to serve Him.  And its gotten to the point where I can’t do that to the degree He’s called me to and stay here.  So, I go.

Ted and I feel a little blind right now.  We are not sure what’s coming. But we truly have a peace in following God through this and a hopeful anticipation of what is to come.  I look forward to continuing to learn how to care for him and how to follow him as he follows God.  I look forward to finding ways to earn extra income to serve and care for my family.  I look forward to finding ways to save money and provide with wisdom.

i’m excited.  God is up to something.  He has changed me and that means something.  this might seem strange to some, but i’m okay with that.

when treated unfairly…

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Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  1 Peter 2:18-23

I read this verse today just after finding out about something at work that is completely unfair.  It seems to me as if I’m being taken advantage of and am struggling with how to respond.  I know that my current job is where God has called me to be in this season, but there are days like today when I just struggle with that current placement for my life.  So, I guess the question is “how do I respond?”  Do I look at the injustice and demand my rights?  Do I stand up for what is “fair”?  Sometimes the answer to that might be yes.  I’m sure there are times when we need to stand up for something and fight against “the man.”  But God has made it clear to me that my response in this situation should be like that of Jesus in 1st Peter 2.  I am being treated unfairly.  God knows that.  I want to cry because it honestly just hurts.  Jesus understands that pain.

When He was treated unfairly, he did not respond in sin.  He trusted God.  In the middle of his suffering, he did not utter threats or retaliation.  He was quiet in the middle of that storm because He was at peace with God’s purpose and plan for his life.  According to Phil. 2, I am commanded to let the mind of Christ dwell in me.  I am supposed to follow that example.  I am supposed to trust God in the middle of storms too.  I have a coffee mug that says: “peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I think that’s the heart of this matter for me.  Am I calm in my heart? Am I trusting that God knows the unfair actions?  Am I trusting my own ability to vindicate that or am I trusting my sovereign God?

Its funny, I wrote a devotional post about that this morning…. about thanking God in ALL things because every situation reveals another opportunity for us to see God at work.  So, where is God at work in this injustice?

He is at work in me… in teaching me humility (aka I don’t have to demand my rights).  He is empowering me to respond like Him and He is growing my faith in His plan for my life.  Does that feel good right now?  No.  But all I need to do is look back at the events of my life.  Every step, every valley, every storm shows the imprint of a faithful God’s hand upon my life.  So, I will trust Him in this too.  He is good.

  • “Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers, for they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (Ps. 37:1-6).
  • “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord: He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (Ps. 37:39-40).
  • “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Wait for the Lord, and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land” (v. 34).
  • “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things”

a look back

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thanks for your patience with me as i’ve been noticeably absent the last month or so.  i hate that my blog has taken a back seat so drastically, because if for no other reason, it is always encouraging for me to go back and look over what God has done in my life.  I was especially encouraged a few weeks ago to look back and see an overview of what God did in the past few years.

So, keeping up with the tradition, here is a brief overview of 2009…

The year started off on a very low note – with me working through some very difficult issues from my past and having to face some personal heartache that I would have much rather left buried.  Thanks to the help of Matt and Julie and many others from my church, I continued to learn what forgiveness looked like, but not without many tears.

That struggle began several months of discouragement and at times hopelessness.  Looking back now, I am so grateful for my friends who stuck with me, upheld me, and encouraged me each step of the way… and at times, did everything necessary to turn my gaze off myself and back to the hope found in the cross.

I learned through that time, that my safety and comfort must be found in Jesus alone.  That though others disappoint, and at times cause severe hurt and pain, that Jesus never fails.  I learned that like Eustace, in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that at times God strips away ourselves, but it is always done with a hand of love and mercy.

2009 also was a year in which I started to see my health improve.  This year brought for the first time in years the first consistent season of sleeping normally and the first period of weeks with no migraines.  I’m grateful to God for the help of the doctors and others, but ultimately, for His hand guiding my health and my life.

then began a season of questions… should i remain at my job? where should I live? should I pursue moving to another state?  if so, where?  i began pursuing a long-standing desire… to move to the Washington DC area… for months, I investigated, prayed and talked with people.  By late spring, I felt a peace about pursuing it and by mid summer I was convinced I was moving… as soon as God provided a job.  I spent 10 days in the DC area on a fact finding mission, found a place to live, spent hours driving in traffic and was excited about the pending change.  Then God closed the door.  It was clear to me that the door was closed tight and that I was not to pursue any further.  Yet it was also abundantly clear that this change was for my good and was given to me by a God who knows what is best for me.  So, my roots are in Greenville.  But my hope in God grew through that time, and though the “move” was unsuccessful, the lessons learned were well worth the months of questioning.

This fall brought changes once again to my life.  September 13th was my first date with Ted Riley, a man whom I have since grown to love.  We met in August via e-harmony and i am grateful for how God (not merely 29 dimensions of compatibility) brought the two of us together.  I could not imagine a better fit for me and look forward to seeing what God does with our relationship.

The past 4 months have been times of continuing improved health (despite the doctors telling me in August that they thought I could have pancreatic cancer) and new areas of learning to trust God.  Contentment looks different in this season (not “is there even possibly a good guy out there who would like me?” but “when will I get married / when will I have kids / when does the next “season” start?”) but the struggle remains the same… so I keep learning that no matter the circumstance, that my confidence and hope must be in the only One who remains unchanging.

In October, I began writing weekly online devotionals for Devotional Christian.  It has been an encouraging and challenging step for me… in learning to be more thoughful about what I write and growing in being more theologically informed.

I’ve seen reconciliation in relationships this year.  I’ve seen improvement in health.  I’ve seen new changes.  But through it all, I’ve learned more of the faithfulness of our God.  Through every change, He has remained true to me.  And through every time I haven’t remained true to Him, He lovingly corrects and draws me back.

What a God we serve.  I look forward to the challenges and blessings of 2010, confident that through every step, He will be by my side.

when the dots don’t connect…

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lately i seem to be back into a season where the dots just don’t seem to connect.  i’m weary.  physically i’m weak.  emotionally i’m tired.  spiritually i’m worn down and dry.  mentally i’m… well, i guess i’ve never been right in that area… :)

i have failed to cling to my hope in Christ.  i’ve failed to trust Him to provide.  i’ve questioned whether God really wants what’s best for me.  i’ve accused Him of forgetting me… or simply leading me on only to later disappoint.

i’m powerless to lift myself from the pit that i am in. 

and then i’m reminded of the gospel… Christ came to lift me from my own self-made destruction and misery.   He came to give me a rock of hope to cling to that will never fail… not in physical pain, loneliness, confusion, darkness… never.  He promised He would never leave me. 

that applies not only to the day He redeemed my soul 4 years ago but for today as well. in the middle of a migraine, He holds me.  In the middle of my questioning His goodness, He holds me secure in His arms of love.  In the middle of loneliness, He never leaves my side.  In my tired weariness, He reminds me that He is the God who watches over me and He never sleeps.  There is never a moment when He is not in control of every event of my life. 

I’m reminded of the hymn “Be Still my Soul.”  While visiting Covenant Life a few weeks ago, we sang this song… its been in my head ever since.  It is such a great example of “talking to yourself” instead of “listening to yourself.”

 I think my favorite line is “be still my soul your Jesus can repay from His own fulness all He takes away.”

In the past few years, its obvious with even a brief glance at my life that God has taken much.  He’s taken friends.  He’s taken people I looked to and respected.  He’s taken a sense of belonging and home.  He’s taken my health.  He’s taken much more. 

But I have the promise that He will never take His presence from me.   And knowing that, nothing else matters.  I’d rather Him take my health, security and comfort than to leave all those and take His presence.. 

That is the reason that my soul can be still.  That is the reason my weary soul can find hope.  I am just praying for grace that God will connect those dots…

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.   Trust in him at all times, O people;  pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5-8)

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt you better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to your Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all your words and ways,
So shall He view you with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

God’s grace in failure

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The past few weeks have been crushing for me. God has strategically been destroying me… who I am… what I value, etc. I’ve hated every moment of it. The trial started with a description of my sin revealed to me in a disgusting way and has left me shocked in a sense. I know I shouldn’t be shocked by my sin, but I was. I thought we had moved past it… I thought I had grown. I was shown a few weeks ago that the only thing that had grown was my self-dependence and pride.

Then came another shock… mercy. God used a friend of mine to show me what the Father’s mercy is like… in spite of my failure, in spite of my direct sin against that person, they showed me undeserved and lavish. And since that day, there has been not an ounce of resentment or guilt pressed upon me by this friend… rather they have accepted me 100% and have time and time again gone out of their way to remind me of their care and affection. Not because I deserve it, but rather, because it is true. Forgiveness because they love me, not because they have to forgive.

God has used that powerfully in my life. To see such mercy in repayment for my sin simply blows my mind. I don’t know what to do with such kindness other than in joy resolve to live in a way so as to not hurt them again. And so it is with God… as He has revealed and shocked me with my sin and complete inability to change, I am being met with mercy… mercy that overwhelms… mercy that knows me completely and loves me unfailingly. Mercy that picks me up out of my self-made messes and rescues me.

That truth was never so clear as it is right now…

On my vacation, I received a speeding ticket. When I was pulled over, I knew I was speeding yet was begging God to “let me off the hook” or show me “mercy.” He had something else in mind. The officer came back to my car with a ticket for reckless driving… apparently anything over 80 is considered reckless in the state of Virginia and I was clocked going 82 in a 70.

I was crushed. I am barely “making it” as a result of all my stupid financial decisions in the past (and sadly, present). God’s been working on my heart for a while now that I need His help to overcome this sin area in my life. But how can I ask God to help when I’m so aware that I’m in a mess of my own making? How can I cry out to Him for mercy when if I were only wiser or more cautious, I wouldn’t be in this boat?

And yet my God has been saying to me “I am a God of mercy… come. Come broken and ashamed and humbled and I will heal your wounds. Come not in your typical “I can fix this” arrogance, but rather come needy. Come desperate and watch Me work. Come trusting. Come expecting to receive mercy and grace in your time of need, for that is what I promise to you. Come in faith that My promises are true and that My love will never let you go! Come with empty hands and watch me fill them.”

So, I have come. Come and asked God to do the impossible… to fix what I have messed up. To heal what I have broken. To restore what I have crushed.

Last week my hours were cut at work… again. Is this God’s way of answering prayer? By making things worse?? Really?!?!?!?!? Yet in my frustration and questioning, I still heard simply “Come. Trust. Look. Believe. Know.” So, I have been praying and asking God to provide… not because I deserve it, not because I have earned it and not at all as a result of my works, but simply as my friend did… out of love and because of His faithful compassion.

Because I often have bad dreams, I leave music playing throughout the night… I find it helps me refocus my thoughts if I wake up scared (which I often do). I woke up several times last night… not from bad dreams, simply because… Every time I woke up there was a song playing on the radio that spoke specifically of God’s relentless faithfulness to the unfaithful or His love to the undeserving.

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was “it’s Monday… a new day and a new week… that means that God is promising new mercies and new help today too.” Now believe me when I say that this is NEVER my first thought in the morning. Its typically “is it morning already?” “why does my body hurt so bad?” or “geez, I overslept again!”

From there, God just began to overwhelm me with His kindness. The first way was through a conversation on facebook which served as a reminder of what He has saved me from, granted me freedom from and the hope He has given me through it all.

Not 10 minutes later, God again reminded me of His care. This time it was through a dear friend, who stopped by my apartment at 7am with a card. In the card was a check… blank. The card stated that God had impressed on them to pay for my ticket… to pay off the debt that I earned and owe. To pay it willingly, aware that it was my own fault which caused this debt.

I am overwhelmed. Speechless. There are no words to adequately describe this. It is humbling. But I am rejoicing. I am low. Yet elated. Gratefully forgiven. Yet humbly aware of my weakness. I’m beginning to understand what Paul meant when He described himself as sorrowful yet always rejoicing. What a dichotomy this life is.

How great and humbling it is to know this God, who is not limited or hindered by my sin. Who loves me with all my weakness and who simply says “Come. I love you just the way you are.”

what are you doing, God?

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ever have those times where you ask “What are you doing, God?”  I know His ways are higher than mine.  I know that He loves me and give and takes for my good.  I know what He’s given me, He also has the right to take away when He should choose.  And I know looking back that every time God has taken something from me its always been for my good, even though immensely painful and gut-wrenching at times.  I know that though things can be taken, that nothing can separate me from His love.  How I need that love to hold me close today.  How I long for my war-torn heart to rest there. 

God seems to be shifting me from one furnace to another.  And I am as unhappy with this appointment as I was with the last.  How I long for it to end.  Trials are a funny thing like that… you beg and beg for them to end and as soon as they do you realize that you’ve learned so much more than ever possible had you not gone through that trial.  So as incomprehensible as it seems to your feelings, you find yourself thanking God for what you just walked through.  And simultaneously you pray that you’d never have to go through it again.  In many ways, that’s where I’m at.  I’m grateful for the trials that God has carried me through because I know to a greater degree the depths of His love, care and compassion towards me.  But as I face yet again another trial, I approach it with the same dread and horror as I faced the last.  Horror because as God is calling me to pick up my cross and follow Him, I’m seeing the death, pain, suffering and heartache that accompanies that cross.  And nothing in me wants to go there. 

Yet somehow my loving Shepherd has promised to be with me each step of the way.  He has promised to complete what He has begun.  He has already cared for me time after time and He is faithful.  Because of that, through His strength to hold me, with His help, I will rest in His control over this.  I am choosing to look past the pain, to look past the cross to my Strong Deliverer, who defeated the power of death and the cross.  He will preserve me by His mercy.  He is my Rock in the middle of the storms.  God has promised to complete what He’s begun, therefore I can have hope that He will keep me safe and true in Him…even here, even in this, even though nothing in me wants this.

Somehow I’m excited to see God provide.  As He keeps taking and in my mind its getting even more difficult for Him to provide, I look to my Jehovah-Rophe with hopeful anticipation to meet my needs and comfort my sorrows.  I haven’t really known what to say lately because it seems there are no words to describe the unutterable ache in my soul.  Nothing seems sufficient other than crying to my Maker… the One who knows me and will never leave me alone.  So, in my loneliness, I look to the One who will never leave, abandon or forsake.  In my pain, I look to the One who suffered in my place.    In my despair, I look to the only One who was ever forsaken by God with gratitude that He will not leave me here.  And in my moments (or days) when I just want to complain, I remember how good He has been to me.  The God who restored my broken soul and gave me life, the God who gives me a reason for joy in my mourning, the God who drew me through His kindness and irresistable love… that God will not quit.  So I look to Him.

epic failure

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this week has just been one of “those weeks.”

you know the ones I mean, right?  the one where everything seems to be a mess.  and when it can’t get messier, it some how does?  yup. one of those.

 if i had to pick a theme for this week, it would be “epic failure.”  my mistakes this week for some reason have not seemed like “little” ones, rather “heroic” mistakes.  ha.  :) 

tuesday night I came home from work to make homemade spagetti sauce with tomatoes from the garden.  lo and behold, the tomatoes had simmered for too long and were hopelessly beyond hope.  after trying for 2 hours or so to doctor it up, we ended up dumping it out and saving the veggies to use with some new tomatoes. 

i cried. 

thanks Sarah, for once again, faithfully pointing me to the cross… pointing me to to the humor and hope found in that silly situation and for making me smile as you shared your story of the chocolate cake that catapulted off the counter.  :D

its been a good week at work, just long.  we are running out the production of a vehicle at the manufacturing plant where I work and I am in charge of all the planning details for the runout.  Needless to say, there’s lots to remember. lots of details to coordinate and lots of miscellaneous things that can fall through the cracks.  There was a major computer error today, and, I had no clue how to fix it.  I spent about 3 hours trying and thing just kept getting worse.  Praise God for a helpful IT support guy in Germany that was willing to stay at work late to fix the issue and reset the program!

Despite my feelings, despite my failures and despite my countless sins, my God has proven Himself faithful to me yet again through these past few days.  there seems to be nothing to cling to this week as I look around and see all my fruit in ruins on the ground, but the Master Gardener seems to still be lovingly (albeit painfully) tending the branches still.  He has surrounded me with people who have patiently loved me in spite of my sins, people who have loved me as necessary and corrected me as necessary.  Praise God for both, as they are both a valuable asset to our Christian walk (and praise God for friends He’s given me that are “friend” enough to do both!!)! 

He has given me department managers that despite my lack of experience in my new job, are thankful for me and make an effort to mention that (on almost a daily basis).  Wow.  I don’t want to forget the gift that is.  I’m very aware their thankfulness is not a result of my “great” ability to do my job (because I mess up daily) but rather is a gift from God – an instrument used by my Savior to encourage and bless me.  I’m thankful for my health.  I was able to go to the gym last night for the first time in a few weeks (just finished the body detox program that I was on for the last few weeks). 

I can see God working.  I know He will continue.  He is faithful.  He will not forsake.  I can trust in that.  When I look around and as a result of my “tree,” I see fruit that keeps falling off and lying on the ground in what seems to be a useless way, I can still thank my God for the fruit that He produces in my life.  That fruit, even the fruit that in my mind is not as “perfect” as it should be, can still bring glory to Him.  I long for my life to bring Him glory, whether that is a life of successes or a life of epic failures.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have a life of successes.  

But I long for the song we sang last Friday in care group to be the cry of my heart:  “shall I take from your hand the blessings, yet not welcome any pain?  shall I thank you for days of sunshine, yet grumble in days of rain?  you are good when I’m poor and needy.  you are true when I’m parched and dry.  You still reign in the deepest valley.  You’re still God in the darkest night.  Oh, let your will be done in me. In your love I will abide.  oh, I long for nothing else as long as you are glorified.”