Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's a God Thing!

She worked in the office of a manufacturing facility for 30 years and was laid off. One of several long timers simply let go. It was a completely devastating experience. She was unemployed for eight excrutiatingly long, unsettling months - especially for a single woman. She was happy to be employed again, and have health insurance, even though her annual salary was $10,000 less than her previous job. After little more than a year, budget cuts eliminated her position this last June.

Unemployed for a second round. How could it happen again? And so soon? How long would it take this time to obtain a job?

I'm writing about my sister, Tricia, and upon learning this unbelievable news, I prayed, "Lord, I believe you are not allowing her to go through this again without her receiving a better job and I believe it will not take as long this time." Gratefully, I can report she has been employed for a week now, with an annual salary increase of $10,000 from her last position. In addition, she will have a Christmas bonus! Financial benefits aside, Tricia is exhibiting enthusiasm for this job in a ranch office. She has some opportunities to be out of the office and, literally, out in the field. "I'm doing things I never expected I would do and I really like it" is what I have heard this week.

Our family is overjoyed that the Lord answered our prayers, and brought restoration of $10,000 in her annual salary. Truly, He "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." Ephesians 3:20 NIV

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Psalm 126:3-4

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Lemons of Life

How would you react if you called in a prescription refill at a pharmacy two days earlier and when you arrive it's not ready? Then you're told it will be available in a few minutes, but you spend your entire lunch hour waiting and it's still not ready. Maybe you have to spend several frustrating evenings on the phone to get a simple satellite TV problem fixed. Perhaps you have worked all day, then go to the grocery store in 105 degree heat, accompanied by high humidity, and when you arrive home you are missing a bag of your items. These inevitable, irritating happenings of life are the "lemons of life." The above list represents some of my recent "lemons."

Someone is always watching our reactions, particularly when we label ourselves as Christians. Obviously, if we are parents, our children pay close attention to our behavior. I did not exhibit a good reaction on the day it was 105 degrees and came home from the grocery store missing a bag. In short, I had quite a fit and lost my control. I still remember the look on my son's face as I furiously ranted about the inconvenience of the situation. On the way home from the store the second time, this verse came to my mind: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV. The realization came to me that I should be thankful I had a car to get to the store, had the money to purchase what we needed, and was able to walk in the store and get the items. As I reflected on these things, my control returned, I felt peaceful once again, and was able to come home a rational human being. Perhaps one reason the Lord tells us to give thanks in all circumstances is to center our minds when our reactions to events cause us to be off balance and/or out of control.

Sometimes,our "lemons of life" linger and are more conspicuous. I recall a few years ago having my hair colored the night before leaving for a family vacation and ending up with a hideous head of black, blond, brown, and red hair instead of brown and blond. (The stylist tried to fix it, but said that was all she could do without my hair breaking off!) After successfully ruining most of the vacation for everyone with my incessant complaining, my mother finally remarked: "Maybe you should be thankful you have hair. Why don't you think about the cancer patients who have lost their hair! It's just hair - it will grow!" Those statements not only humbled me, but also refocused my perspective. There is something to be thankful for in all situations!

We are instructed, in part, in 1 Peter 1:13 to be "self-controlled" and are to live by the Spirit according to Galatians 5:16. Patience and self-control are included in the list of fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. We can't be a good witness with flaring impatience and a lack of self-control. In addition, we should avoid constant complaining about our lingering "lemons," so we do not make life miserable for those around us. The "lemons of life" will always come, but if we can pause, relax, and find something, however small, to be thankful for we may keep ourselves and others from getting sour.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Colossians 3:12-13 NIV

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Nature Break - Western Caribbean

Photos from Cozumel, Mexico

coconut tree

Photos from Grand Cayman

The water is so clear and beautiful in Grand Cayman.

Photos from Montego Bay, Jamaica

an almond tree