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Archive for November, 2012

Thanksgiving rolls around again bringing with it the scent of pumpkin pie, the sound of family interacting, the feel of damp late fall days, the sight of autumn on the grass and snow on the hilltops, and the taste of turkey smothered in rich gravy.  Of all our holidays, this one stirs the five senses like no other.

Oh that it would stir our hearts into a frothy mound as high as the whipped cream we pile on our desserts.

We are such a people of plaintive nature, freely expressing our complaints about everything and anything.  I’m up to here, especially after the exposure of an elections year, with negativity. I want my heart to feast this Thanksgiving day, not my stomach.

I want to look around the room at my precious family and swell with the melted butter glory of God’s goodness. I am not alone and I am ever grateful. Many are and my heart breaks for them.

I will bask in the hugs and laughter and I will treasure the memories dripping with whip cream wars, lumpy gravy, rolls that forgot to rise, pumpkin pies missing a key ingredient (sugar) and Grandma Mae’s boiled turkey that ended her career as hostess for our family dinner.

I will remember with tears the Thanksgiving my mom passed away but will smile at the grace and strength she showed in the process.

Like salt and pepper on a green bean casserole I will be blessed by the changes in the past year evidenced around the table with taller children, more seasoned marriages, talk of a new driver’s license, a High School graduation, a new job and so much more my ears will be busier than my elbow lifting the fork.

I will thank God as I look around for taking a bunch of oddly shaped potatoes and helping them to soften into a fluffy mound of family, still bearing a few lumps but for the most part, all mingled together with mouth watering love.

I will be sad for the ones who can’t be here this year, happy for the ones who can, and nostalgic for the ones who never will be again.

I’m going to try to put a lid on any simmering political discussions. I’ll sprinkle sugar on sour grapes, turn down the stove before a conversation heats up and stuff a piece of pie in the mouth of sibling rivalry.

When it’s all over and I’m slumped in my rocker by the fire, I’ll pat my way too full heart and thank God for the millionth time for what I have, for what He has done and for what is yet to come.

 Psalm 34:1  I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

P.S. You may have noticed I’ve missed a couple of Monday posts. Between trying to write a 5,000 novel in November, writing the Christmas pageant script and surviving this very busy open enrollment period at work, I’m going to have to back off the blog a little.  So I’m going to once a week for the rest of the year. 

 

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I didn’t sleep well last night. Instead I tossed and turned and fretted over my employees. I am an HR Director and we are offering a great new benefit with a deadline for signing up. For the employees who missed the informational meeting, they don’t know that. So I worried about them. I came to work at 6:00 a.m. to make sure I met with all of my night shift staff.  I’ve been calling and tracking people down all day. I’m so afraid someone who really needs this benefit will miss out.

I also tossed and turned all night because of a little girl in our youth program at work with a very tragic story that was just revealed to us. I want to grab her and take her home and protect her for the rest of her life.

I will not sleep well tonight because I spent my lunch break listening to a precious friend who is in a really bad situation and needs out. However, her options are limited by her ability to financially do what she needs to do. She feels alone. She feels trapped. She feels discouraged and defeated. I want to load up her things and bring her home. I want to give her money. I want to take away all the pain.

I have a friend who is in pain all the time and I want to fix that. I have a friend who has a difficult situation at home along with health problems and I’d love to make that better. The list goes on and on.

I could go to a doctor about my inability to sleep, be diagnosed and put on medication. But that would cost me time and money. It seems a waste when I believe I know exactly what my condition is. I have an chronically enlarged heart.

I also know the carrier of this disease, the One who gave it to me. His name is Jesus and as I get to know Him better, my condition worsens.

I’m finding soft spots where I used to be hard and sensitive spots where I used to be tough. I can no longer shield myself from the germs of love and caring that make me so susceptible.  I find I’m compromised – unable to fend off an attack of overwhelming compassion.

When your heart is enlarged because of a physical condition, it’s not a good thing – it’s life threatening.  But when your heart is enlarged because of a spiritual condition – it’s life affirming.

How will you know if you have this condition?  Here are some symptoms:

  • Arms that ache to reach and comfort someone who’s hurting
  • Sudden bouts of crying out to God on behalf of another
  • Watery eyes, sympathy pains, and blistered knees from long periods of intercessory prayer
  • Love that leaks from every pore in your body
  • Empathy that makes your heart rate increase
  • Limited movement – you are unable to walk away

 

As bad as it sounds, it is a condition everyone should long for. There are so many benefits that come with Christianity and one of the greatest is being able to love with the heart of Jesus. It will hurt and it will cause you to lose a lot of sleep. But it will make you kinder, gentler, and believe it or not – it will lead to excellent spiritual health.

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting; And my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother. Psalm 35:13-14

 

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I’ve been giddy all week for this– Friday, two friends, one car, and about 8 solid hours all stirred together into a girl’s day out cocktail.  Can’t beat that.  And even though we’ve “been there, done that” more than a few times, it will be as fresh and fun filled as ever. I know that because it proves true every time the three of us find time to get away for a break-away from our every day.

My husband just shakes his head when I try to explain to him what it’s all about. He swears that two women together is half a woman and more than two is a disaster where common sense goes out the window and reason takes a nap . He’s probably right but who cares? Women have the ability to never run out of things to talk about, to laugh at things that would make a grown man question their sanity, to find silliness in absolutely nothing and to be completely oblivious, for a period of time, to the fact that the country is going to the dogs.

Even though it’s twelve hours away, I can tell you exactly  what is going to happen between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. today.

We will pile in the car at exactly 6:59 a.m. because we won’t want to waste one second of our time together.  We’ll hit the road, turn off the radio and turn on the conversation. You name the topic, we’ll cover it from the election, to husbands, to work, to church, to the weather, to grandkids, to what’s for dinner. We’ll jump around those topics faster than cold water on a hot skillet. And we’ll keep up – something most guys could never do.

We’ll stop thirty minutes down the road at Starbucks, order or favorite drink and be back on the road, picking up the conversation exactly where we left off. We’ll point out beauty along the way, laugh at things no one would find funny and talk some more.

When we get to Seattle we’ll make our way to our destination, remembering again all the times we’ve gotten lost on this same route. And, more than likely we’ll get lost again. But we won’t care. We’re not afraid to ask directions if we need to.

We’ll talk about how cute my friend’s doctor is on our way down the hallway to his office. We’ll pick an outdated magazine off his office rack and share with each other the pictures, advertisements or articles that catch our interest – knowing without a doubt they will also catch the interest of the other two.

After the appointment we’ll spend about fifteen serious moments discussing what the doctor said. And then we’ll move away from that topic and discuss where we want to stop for lunch and shopping. I’ll say I’m not hungry, they will roll their eyes and say “what else is new” and we’ll stop anyway.

Shopping will take four times as long as it normally should because we will keep finding adorable items to hold up to share with each other. We’ll critique every outfit on display, gasp at prices, touch and feel, unfold and refold, poke and prod and move on. And heaven help us if there’s a book store on the route. You’ll see us immediately navigate to the Christian romance section where we’ll admire covers, read jackets, point out new books by favorite authors, and probably have another espresso drink to enhance the experience.

Back in the car on the way home, we’ll pick up our conversation right where we left off again and chat, laugh, maybe even cry a little on the way home.

It will be a day that would drive my guy over the edge to complete, blubbering insanity. But it will refuel our very souls, healing the damage done by the rips and tears of everyday life.  Everyone will benefit – our families especially – because we’ll be kinder, sweeter, more upbeat and certainly more energetic in facing the stresses and strains of being a mom, wife, employee, friend, and every other role we play.

There’s something magic that happens when kindred spirits come together;  when women pour their hormones and their leftover little girl stuff into a few uninterrupted hours of just being together.  I can’t wait.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

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A work related experience this past week made me do something I never, ever do – cry. I am not a weepy person, I seldom get overly emotional in situations and I pride myself on being able to handle stress very well. But this particular incident, for some reason, took me right over the edge.

It involved a co-worker and a communication issue where I believed I’d thoroughly done my part but was caught up short when the co-worker adamantly insisted I had done nothing. I was blindsided. I felt like I had been made a fool of in front of my boss and to be honest, the co worker blatantly lied.

When in a situation like this, our first reaction is to fight back. I wanted to defend myself by listing out every action I’d taken over the past year in an effort to prove myself right. I desperately wanted to win this battle, but, so did she. It could have gone on for a long time with my poor boss the victim for having to sit through allof the she did, she said, I did and I thought stuff.

So, I gave up and walked away feeling like dirt on the bottom of a shoe.  I, who never ever cry in public, had to shut my office door and whip out the Kleenex.  In fact, the whole situation hit me so hard I thought I was going to have to leave for the rest of the day. For me, that is  extremely unusual  but I was really shaken.

 With due respect, I have to say my boss showed concern and checked back with me to make sure I was okay.  I wasn’t, but I was better.  And the reason I was better was this – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is tucked under the plastic cover of my desk. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” The verse ends with Paul stating “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When I’m walking tall I’m not thinking about Jesus. When I’m bent over fighting tears I’m crying out His name. Do you ever wonder if God get’s lonely for the sound of your voice so He decides to let a little crisis in to remind you that’s He’s waiting?

He pulled me out of the pit I was in and bolstered me to make it through the rest of the day. Was it a huge, devastating storm I went through? No. It was more of a heavy shower that forced me to practice some recovery methods. Now, I’m a little better at handling rain because I’ve practiced again. When the big storm hits, I’ll be up for it.

Am I rejoicing in that confrontation with the co-worker?  Absolutely not. But am I rejoicing in a Savior who never fails to bail me out? You bet I am.  I’m remembering again that I have a God big enough to supply all my needs (Phil 4:19), a God who fights to prove my innocence (Psalm 37:5), a God who will give me perfect peace in chaotic times (Isaiah 26:3) and a God who enables me to face any giant (or co-worker) out there (Phip 4:13).

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”  Romans 10:11

 

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Am I crazy or what?  I don’t need Daylight Savings Time.  I need Sanity Savings Time. For those of you who may not be aware, November is National Novel Writing Month. It comes with it a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 31 days.  You can participate with hundreds of other writers at NaNoWriMo online where you enter your daily word count, get lots of encouragement and follow others who are doing the same thing.

My decision to accept the challenge came just like everything else I say yes to – jump in there impulsively and wonder why later. Now that I’ve begun, I’m analyzing whether this is even possible. I have to admit I skimmed over the 50,000 word part when I first read about NaNoWriMo. But now my brain has led me to the point of realizing the expectation is 1,613 words a day.

Actually I can’t figure on a whole day in which to accomplish the 1,613 words. At least eight hours of my day are spent at work, not writing.  At least one hour of my day is spent in bible study and scripture reading, not writing. Another two or three hours of my day are spent in activities with family, church, and friends, not writing. Then there’s housework, cooking, driving, sleeping, showering, dressing, talking on the phone, eating, etc, etc. – not writing.

But, here’s the amazing part of this post – after two days I have actually written 4,527 words! That’s well over the average daily count and it’s a miracle.  When did I do it?  I have no idea.  I squeezed a few minutes from my lunch break.  I put down my fiction novel for the time being. I wrote while watching a movie with my husband. I wrote during some really early morning hours. I’m pretty pumped after two days.

How do we ever accomplish the things we pack onto our ridiculous schedules? By sheer determination, organization and teeth gritting tenacity, that’s how.

I’m watching my children do the impossible balancing of schedules with kids in school and extracurricular activities. I see things happening at church because already busy people commit and get busier. It is true that the more people have on their plate the more they seem to accomplish.  They are the people who can’t seem to say no and always seem to squeeze it in. They get much done but they sacrifice much at the same time.

There is a balance – I just haven’t quite found it yet. There are so many things I want to do and I’m not getting any younger. On the other hand, my body doesn’t always cooperate with my ambition. It keeps demanding rest and nourishment.

My brain is still running at full speed it seems because the ideas keep flowing. On the other hand it doesn’t always retain the stuff it needs to for as long as it should. A lot of my creativity can be found laying in the wake of where I have been. I had a great idea but by the time I get to the place where I can write it down it’s gone.

I’m not averse to slowing down a little. On the other hand, the minute I slow down I fall asleep. I hate that.

All this rambling is just to ask this question – can I do it? Can I write 50,000 words in 31 days? Probably. Will I have to sacrifice something else to get it done? Probably. Am I ready to reprioritize my whole life and cut back on activities? Probably not. Am I going to wear myself out periodically? Most definitely.

But my great goal is to have this on my epitath after I die:   With God’s help, she finally got everything done.

Lord, you establish peace for us;
    all that we have accomplished you have done for us.  Isaiah 26:12

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