give thanks – day 27

I had a late night, an early morning, a day of class, then work. I was exhausted and possibly even a bit grumpy.

Then I arrived at work to find a beautiful poinsettia arrangement at my cube. I opened the note and it read: “Hang in there. Love, Mom and Dad.”

Nothing profound. Nothing life changing. Not the secret to the lottery numbers for tonight. However, those little words and that little thought brought so much joy and encouragement to my day.

I’m so thankful for people in my life who encourage me. However big or small the gesture, it is so appreciated.

I enjoy receiving encouragement. I’m sure others do too. Note to self: pass it on.

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give thanks – day 23 & 24

Procrastination is both a blessing and a curse. I have the ability to be completely oblivious to things that are due while still managing to crank out great quality work. This weekend. Not so much…

I have managed to get myself into quite a hole as the next week approaches. As my semester winds down, the list of assignments due piles up. I spent the entire weekend locked in my apartment in my sweatpants trying to survive.

I feel like someone has tied cinder blocks to my feet and thrown me in the Atlantic. I haven’t been able to come up for air yet (this post is yet another method of procrastination). The only reason I haven’t cleaned my room yet is because this is THAT serious. I know you do it, the only time your room gets cleaned is when you should be studying. I had to skip that step (maybe the magnitude of the situation is now sinking in).

However, in the midst of the craziness I am reminded of how wonderful this opportunity is. I am stressed to the max, but that’s my own fault. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to pursue my Master’s. Most people don’t get that opportunity. And though I am working full time and doing school full time, I am SO grateful that I won’t have any loans coming out of this endeavor. To be able to start my career (whatever that may be) with no debt holding me back is something to praise the Lord for. I’m thankful that my parents helped me through undergrad and have guided me on how to wisely pursue my Master’s as to avoid debt.

I’m also extremely tahnkful for the opportunity to study under brilliant, godly professors with a wealth of knowledge and experience for me to learn from. Thankful that their teachings don’t stay in the classroom, but they flow over into my life. Thankful that they realize that sometimes 70% is 100% of all I’ve got to give, and they express such understanding. What a blessing! What a treat to have such an incredible school and faculty!

So thankful for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Thankful for their ministry to me, the community, and the nations. They are Colossians 1:28-29 teachers –

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

rainy days remind me of this

December 1, 2009

Today, I began my career as a marketing consultant.  Who in the world would hire a fresh out of college, camp counselor at heart, children’s minister on the side marketing consultant? . . . my uncle.  That’s the beauty and curse of living in your exceptionally small hometown.  You can find a job doing nearly anything because you are undeniably related to someone in town.  However, the curse is that you spend the years after your job experience questioning if it was legit because employers keep saying that you lack “experience.”  Hey, just because I worked for my grandpa, my uncle, my mom, and my twice removed cousin that was a product of my dad’s brother’s . . . ugh . . .second marriage? . . . does not mean my work was any less difficult or appreciated.  Okay, maybe it was not as appreciated because it was expected.  Maybe it was surprisingly appreciated because my relative had never seen me do anything but spill drinks at family functions and tell the same stories sixteen times.  Based on those outstanding skills, they figured I was destined to be a bartender!  A career in a land where spilling drinks is accepted, and the guy at the end of the bar on his sixth beer wouldn’t care if I told him the world were ending—as long as the mugs keep sliding down the counter.

Oh relatives, they always have such big dreams for you.  What they don’t know is . . . oops . . . I digress.

My office is quite unusual, but I find it fascinating.  Goodbye small cubicle.  Hello hospital administration boardroom!  Instead of a small table in the corner with one horribly uncomfortable chair, I have several ginormous (no, it’s not a real word) cherry tables that form an enormous “U” with at least twenty surrounding chairs (that are the Lay-Z-Boys of office furniture).  No complaining here of a window-less cubicle.  The entire east wall is composed of windows!  As wonderful as it is, it is also an ADD kid’s worst nightmare.  So many people to watch, so little time.

That leads me to the entire reason I wanted to scribble this little note.  The weather today was terrible.  Most of the day it was “raining sideways,” as one of my favorite Starbucks baristas always said.  I would find myself looking out the windows when I heard the rain’s intensity increase to see if my Escape left the harbor while I wasn’t looking.  I could almost hear the cruise ship horn in my head as she signaled her farewell.  “I loved you, and you didn’t even wash me! I want you to want to wash me!”  What a female comment.

While checking on my car, I also managed to catch glimpses of pitiful individuals braving the elements while trying to enter the hospital.  It seemed rather ironic to me.  A man running through a winter storm to get a flu shot, or to see his sickly beloved who could keel over due to whatever he just caught running from the car.  Either way, it was both hilarious and stressful to watch.  I found myself secretly wishing the younger individuals would take a spill (not a bad one, just one that would stir a hearty giggle for both of us).  On the other hand, I was extremely anxious when the older individuals and senior citizens decided to dash for the door.  Part of me was thinking, “Didn’t you see the Mythbusters episode where you’re better off to walk than run in the rain?!”  The other part of me was questioning this man’s decision making ability.  “You probably have at least one artificial joint in your body!  There’s a huge puddle!  Oh, don’t die.  Jesus, help him.  Where’s your umbrella?”

From my perspective, his running on slick asphalt in the rain at the ripe old age of 72 ½ was not a wise decision.  Was he aware of it?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe he was and just didn’t care.  My thoughts watching him run across the parking lot were, “You idiot.  That’s not a wise decision.  Why weren’t you prepared?  This could end badly.  That’s not how I would have done it.  I bet someone told you to carry an umbrella, and you just didn’t listen.  Stubborn much?  Oh, please don’t get hurt.  This outcome could have been so different.”

I wondered how many times I do things that don’t make sense to those around me.  Answer:  OFTEN.  The answer wasn’t necessarily what bothered me.  I am positive there are times when my decisions and actions leave those around me clueless, and I am okay with that.

Instead, my thoughts honed in to those of my Heavenly Father.  How many times does He look at my decisions and actions and think those thoughts?  I am sure it is quite frequently.  He tells me in His Word to make wise decisions (Ephesians 5:15-16), but I often fail.  He gives me tools and discernment to prepare myself for obstacles, situations, and opportunities, but I forget my umbrella (Ephesians 6:13-19).  He sees my discouragement with one path and urgency to take another that is not mine.  He knows I understand His Sovereignty, but also that I have a difficult time trusting in it.  The Spirit cries out for mercy and grace when I find myself in situations that leave me weak and confused (Romans 8:26).  He wished I hadn’t gotten myself in those situations to begin with.

I saw much of myself in the old man today.  He isn’t the only one following his own agenda or making poor decisions.  I, too, tend to run in the rain.  My Father watches and expresses concern, similar to my actions in the boardroom.  Unlike me, He always speaks loud enough so I hear His concerns.  However, sometimes I put up a wall of glass to drown out those warnings, because it is easier to do my own thing when I am ignoring the input of the Divine.  That whole “free will” thing keeps my Father from shattering the glass and keeping me on His path.  Instead, He painfully watches from the Boardroom and says over and over again, “This outcome could have been so different.”

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea . . .” – Isaiah 48:17 – 18