Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Sometimes God is a Show-Off!
I am very aware that God is involved in every detail. And I am so thankful. I have come to expect Him to show up and show Himself faithful. But sometimes He kicks it up a notch, and I find myself looking heaven-ward and winking as I say, "Show-Off!"
Like I did this week.
I needed to finish the March calendar, but was having trouble connecting with a couple people. I needed to book two musical guests, and was beginning to lose hope. (Silly me!) So, as I went into work Tuesday morning I was praying, God, I know You know what I need. Please bring it together for me!
What I meant by those words was, God, can You let me get through to those people today?
'Course, HE knew better.
I am not kidding when I tell you I received a phone call that morning from a man who was asking me if he could come play for the residents sometime in March. The date he suggested was busy, so I offered another option. He had to check with another person to work it out, and said he'd call back. Hopefully within a day or two.
He called back about ten minutes later. The date worked!
That afternoon I received a phone call from the man who was supposed to be playing for us in five minutes, saying he wasn't going to make it.
A little quick thinking, and a lot of the grace of God, and we managed the afternoon just fine. Rootbeer floats, time for visiting, and some impromptu singing, and we all had a delightful time.
And that guy who couldn't make it? Rescheduled the next day for my remaining March date.
I won't go into all the reasons why this thing that didn't work out has been a display of God's sovereignty and attention to details. Just trust me when I say, our God is the most wonderful, perfect, faithful, gracious Show-Off I know!
And I'm so glad He gave me eyes to see His show this week at the Edge.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
So, I've told you about my heartache over Joshua not wanting songs at bedtime. Well, the other night - after Joshua didn't want me to sing to him, and I remembered he's getting older and this is to be expected - Matthew attempted to take me back in time. He asked me about a particular book I used to read to him, and begged me to go downstairs to see if we still had it. While I was pretty sure I'd gotten rid of it long ago, I went to look anyway. Secretly hoping I would find it on the bookshelf.
"It" is Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls, by Glen Keane. Adam Raccoon books are parables for kids, and they are absolutely delightful. If you still have young children at home, I highly recommend these books! (Actually, I'm thinking of re-building a collection for my future grandchildren.)
Sadly, I did not find Adam on the bookshelf. BUT I surprised us all by reciting the beginning of the story word-for-word. (What can I say? I read that book A LOT.)
Part of me wants to keep trying - to see if the whole story is still up there in my memory somewhere. So if Matthew tries to take me back in time again, I'll be able to "read" it to him.
Hey, it can't hurt to be prepared! *wink*
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Whoa! I just finished reading Ecclesiastes, and I'm afraid spending too much time in that book might force a person into a severe case of depression.
Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!
I mean, I sometimes have days when I feel that way, but the author of Ecclesiastes spent an awful lot of time pondering this stuff!
Even so, sprinkled in the pages here and there I found segments of hope. Like this one:
Then I realized it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him - for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
I enjoyed reflecting on those words. God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
I thought, I don't really care who gets whatever I leave behind. It doesn't matter if I accumulate wealth, or if I have nothing to my name. God has put me in a place and brought people into my life according to His perfect plan. I am HIS instrument, to be used for HIS kingdom purposes. I have the joy of knowing my Savior! And to be used by Him!
It occurred to me that God is, indeed, keeping me occupied with gladness of heart. And because of what HE has done, I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Ecclesiastes.
I see none of this as meaningless.
As long as I am surrendered to my God!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
So, the other night I was
lecturing talking to Matthew about cutting his meat into bite-sized pieces. He has a habit of stabbing his entire piece of meat with his fork and bringing the whole thing to his mouth. It drives me nuts.
I told him he needed to cut the meat into smaller pieces, and when he asked why, I informed him eating it 'his way' was rude.
He asked why, again.
And I was stumped.
Because I said so?
Because my mom said so?
Because Miss Manners said so?
I finally landed on, "Because...Well...Just because!"
What would you have said???
P.S. Thanks so much for your prayers and encouraging words regarding my special weekend with Elizabeth. We had a delightful time!
And, would you believe - we finished it off by going to the pet store so she could get a new rat???
Because...well...just because. (Or maybe because I'm a softy. *wink*)
Monday, February 21, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Doing my job is NOT the reason I'm here.
I have been at Edgewood for just over six months now. While I'm still learning, I feel more confident that I can manage my duties.
* I'm getting a handle on Pizza Nights and Birthday Parties.
* I've established a pretty good system for sign-up sheets.
* The calendar and newsletters are not as overwhelming anymore.
Yes, I believe I'm understanding my job better these days.
However, every day at Edgewood there are things which happen that were not on the schedule - not on my list of things 'to do'. Conversations with residents; opportunities to help someone find their keys, or check their mail; prayers to pray with co-workers and residents; even moments to laugh and give a hug. And I have come to realize it is those moments - those things which were not on the schedule - that are the reason I'm at Edgewood.
It is during these unplanned moments I have beautiful opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And that's what drives me. Yes - the tasks need to get done, and I want to do my job to the glory of God. But I know my reason is to be Jesus to each person I encounter.
How about you? What's your job? What about your reason???
Thursday, February 17, 2011
So, I told you Monday that Elizabeth has a boyfriend. She's talking more and more about college, and her dreams about growing up. She's bigger than me, and beautiful, and when I look at her I know I cannot deny - my baby girl isn't a baby anymore.
She is becoming a young woman.
And rather than trying to deny it, we're going to celebrate it!
We have a special weekend ahead of us, and I am excited.
Friday night, Elizabeth and I are going to leave the men at home, and we're going out to have some fun. We'll start with dinner and a movie. Then we're going to a hotel - with a pool - to spend the night.
Saturday we're going to get our nails done. (I have never had a manicure before, and I can't wait! Er, I mean, I had no selfish motives here. Only thinking about my girl! *wink*) And then comes the real celebration.
We're having lunch with a group of women who are significant in Elizabeth's life. After we eat, each of the women is going to have a few minutes to speak to Elizabeth - to share a blessing, or words of encouragement - as we welcome her into the next phase of her life, that of a young woman.
My hope is this event will set the tone for the rest of Elizabeth's days. That she will grow in her understanding that she is a beloved child of God, surrounded by people who love her and who will encourage her in godliness.
(And I hope I can get through my sharing time without too many tears. *sniff*)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Anyone else working on taxes these days?
Brian and I spent time on ours last weekend. (Oh, yeah. We know how to plan an exciting weekend! *wink*) And as the number-crunching came to a close I found myself face-to-face with another example of God's perfect provision.
I had entered all the income and expense information for my speaking and book sales, and when I hit the final 'Done' button and Turbo Tax made its last calculations, the report was that I 'made' a couple hundred dollars in 2010.
Ever since I began speaking and writing I have always said - I'm not in this for money. I don't want to charge big fees. I want to share my story, and the things God is teaching me. That's what it's all about!
Yet every year at tax time - when I see in numbers how the previous year went - I am tempted to link my worth to a number. And when I consider an average income of less than $20 a month, I tend to rate that 'worth' on the lower end of worthiness.
This year, however, something different happened.
I had gathered all my papers and forms together, and was taking them downstairs to put them away in the office. As I knelt down on the floor to stow my folders I realized a beautiful thing. God provided perfectly for me the amount of money I needed to cover the expenses I accrued in 2010.
The number I just saw on Turbo Tax was not an evaluation of my worth. Rather, it was a testimony to God's faithfulness. His perfect provision.
It was another moment in which I felt God was telling me, Trust Me, Karen. I will provide for you just what you need. You can count on it.
And because I was already on my knees putting my folders away, I stayed there a little longer so I could pray and give thanks to God.
Because HE is good.
Because HE is faithful.
Because HE provides!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
If you have spent any amount of time with me (in person, or via a book) you probably know I am NOT a fan of the statement, "You're gonna miss these days!"
When my children were younger, and I was weary - of the clinging, or the crying, or the questions, or the (fill in the blank) - I was never encouraged by that statement. I was only convinced that memory loss is a sure part of aging. Because, clearly, the women who spoke those words to me didn't really remember what these days are like!
Well, I'm starting to understand what those women meant when they uttered that statement.
Sometimes I go into Joshua's room to say goodnight, and he has his radio on. Ever since he was a little baby, I have been singing to him at bedtime. But I can't sing 'over' the radio. So I ask Joshua (just like I have every night for the past thirteen years), "Do you want a song tonight?" as I move to turn off the radio.
And sometimes he says, "No. I just want to go to sleep." So I give him a kiss, say "Goodnight," and walk out of his room. *sniff* And I think, Gee. It used to be important to him that I sing. He used to not be able to go to sleep if I didn't sing. He used to ask for TWO songs! I used to matter. *sniff, sniff*
And for a moment I think, I'm starting to miss those days.
But then I have occasions when I see my friends with younger children, and they're dealing with irrational tantrums and crying fits. I see my friends trying to understand their child - who doesn't even understand himself - and I pray that God will grant them wisdom and grace for their son.
And I smile as I think to myself, No. I don't really miss those days. Just some of the moments!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Nothing is random.
I've mentioned the Resident of the Week thing I'm doing at Edgewood before - that I interview and feature one resident each week. Well, this past week God showed me that even my silly ideas and 'chance' habits can be used by Him.
I came into work one day and was sad to learn one of our residents had passed away during the night. Later that morning her daughters came to the Activity Room to return some books they'd found in her apartment. I told them I was sorry to hear of their mother's death, and mentioned how much I enjoyed getting to know her a few weeks earlier when she was Resident of the Week.
They told me their mother had mentioned the Resident of the Week interview to them, and asked me more about it. So I showed them what I do - the write-up and picture I post on my bulletin board - and they asked if they could have a copy of their mother's interview to display at the funeral home.
It delighted my heart to share these items for B's memory, and I was glad to get them for her daughters. Only, I wasn't sure how easy it would be to retrieve. Because I don't necessarily save the write-ups. I have a few files on my disk and randomly type over them each week. But, wouldn't you know it - when I looked for B's story, I found it! Guess there was a reason I didn't 'randomly' type over hers.
When I gave B's story and picture to her daughters, I took a chance and told them of God's goodness in preserving the write-up. Found out they are believers, and they shared with me their confidence in B's salvation. We prayed together, and gave God glory.
Later that day I 'happened' to be talking with the aid who had found B that morning, and told her about my interaction with B's daughters. The aid then shared a beautiful story with me - which I was able to pass on to the daughters the next day. Because it 'happened' to be my Saturday to work, so I saw B's daughters as they were cleaning her apartment.
I marvel at all the 'random' occurrences which have surrounded B's transition to heaven, and I cannot help but praise and thank God for His attention to the details - and His involvement in every one of them.
Now, more than ever, I am convinced, Nothing is random.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Got this in an email recently. I've seen it before and you probably have, too. But every time I read it, God encourages my heart. May HE speak to yours today!
The next time you feel like GOD can't use YOU, just remember...
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer...
AND Lazarus was dead!
No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren't the message, you are just the messenger.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
This verse from Psalm 27 is the one which I am currently memorizing, and on which I am meditating for the next week. And last week, as I began to learn these words, I was impressed by God's perfect timing.
I always try to understand how a particular verse intersects with my life - to make it personal. But as I considered the words of Psalm 27:3 I thought, Really. When is the last time an army has besieged me? When have I been cut off from the things I need? Almost as quickly as that thought came into my head, it was as if God whispered the answer to me. Dear one, remember last Thursday?
And I did.
Thursdays are my day off at Edgewood, and I always look forward to spending time ALONE - no one asking me to do anything for them; no one needing me, wanting me, or having any pull on me. (I love, love, LOVE people. Love to be an instrument of God's grace to them. However, I have learned that I NEED time alone - as much as I need air to breathe.) But the previous Thursday Matthew had stayed home from school with a sore throat. He was needy all day. So I didn't get that day 'off' I'd been anticipating. And it put me in a tailspin. Yes, LORD, I guess I was feeling besieged that day.
Though an army besiege you, you will not fear. Remember these words, darling.
It didn't take long for me to understand what was going on. I got the call from school - Thursday was to be another snow day for the kids. On my day 'off', the whole army was going to be home! So all day last Wednesday I was repeating those words to myself, asking God to be my Strength.
And He was.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
...but I'm pretty sure about this:
I believe I have learned something about the son Solomon was addressing when he wrote Proverbs.
In my read-thru-the-Bible-in-a-year journey, I am currently in the book of Proverbs. And each day as I read Solomon's pleas that his son would listen to instruction, seek wisdom, flee from immorality, and on and on - I find myself praying earnestly that my children would heed this advice, as well. I want to sit down with them and read Proverbs until I see they 'get it'.
I hear such passion as I read Solomon's words. The proverbs don't come just from common sense. He's speaking from his heart. Sounds like someone who has 'been there' and wants his son to benefit from what he, himself, has learned. As in, Son, I'm begging you. Listen to me. Learn from me. Seek wisdom! It is for your good, not simply to spoil your fun.
And because of the emphatic nature of Solomon's words, I have come to this conclusion about his son: Solomon's son must have been a teenager when these words were penned.
Friday, February 04, 2011
'Wonderful' can be simple.
Last week we had a Hawaiian Luau at Edgewood. It's a yearly event to which the residents look forward, but it was a new thing for me.
And I was responsible for the whole thing.
For other events I have come across very detailed plans which outlined exactly what I needed to do. And that was comfortable for me. I like following formulas.
But, try as I might, I couldn't find anything to help me with the luau. My manager gave me a couple suggestions, but I really felt like I was on my own for this one. And I didn't want to disappoint the residents.
I looked for ideas online, and found things that seemed either too juvenile or way too elaborate. After talking it over with another co-worker (and coming to terms with my budget!) I decided our luau was going to be simple, and I hoped that would be OK.
Last year someone bought a bunch of leis, which we put on each person as they came into the dining room - as we said, "Aloha!" Then everyone found a seat and we served refreshments while they visited with one another.
Many people had dressed up in Hawaiian shirts, or at least wore bright colors. And I had bought lots of flowers and some pretty plates and cups at the Dollar Store, so the dining room looked festive. But it was really very simple.
And everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Then came the big moment. (Which I had been 'playing up' as I made announcements regarding the luau. *grin*) My co-worker and I did our own rendition of the Hukilau. Twice. And, oh, did the residents love that! (Another co-worker captured us on her phone, but there is NO WAY I'm going to post it here for
you to laugh at your viewing pleasure. *wink*)
After our little hula dance, people stayed a visited for a short while and then the party was over. Simple as that.
But as they left, one person after another told me how much they enjoyed the luau.
"This was wonderful!"
"Thank you. I had a great time!"
And I wondered, Why was I concerned that this thing wouldn't be fancy enough for them? Why was I afraid they wouldn't like it?
(Ever had thoughts like those, yourself?)
Because as I said, "Aloha!" to the departing guests, it was clear to me that everyone had fun. And I became convinced, 'Wonderful' can be simple.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Last week Matthew came home from school with information about a mentoring/tutoring program. Twice a week, for one hour each afternoon, students from the high school will be coming over to spend time with the younger kids - helping with homework, and just spending time with them.
Matthew's teacher had recommended this program as something which would be good for him. And as I read about the opportunity, I agreed. School is a struggle for Matthew and the thought of a 'cool' teenager coming along side of him to help seemed great to me. (I remember looking up to the older kids in school!)
But Matthew seemed hesitant. A little embarrassed, I guess.
So I told him it's OK to need help. And when you need help, it's a really good idea to get it!
Such wisdom, yes?
But I began to have a problem with it.
As in, I realized how much I need help, and how resistant I can be to accepting it.
While I was encouraging Matthew in his participation in this tutoring thing, I began feeling bad about myself. If I was good enough, Matthew wouldn't need a tutor. And suddenly I thought this program was a reflection of me being 'not good enough'.
In another realm, we're in the process of trying to get a grip on my good day/bad day cycle. On my good days, I can hardly understand why there's a problem. But on my bad days, I cannot deny the fact that I need help. Even so, there is a part of me that wants to figure out and overcome the problem by myself. In my own strength. (Seeing that statement in writing helps me recognize it's foolishness.)
So, there it is. Out in the open. I.need.help. I can't do it on my own.
And that's OK.
But, where does my help come from?
Though it may come in the form of a teenager, or a doctor, or a good friend, I know my help comes from God, alone. And it is in HIM that I will trust.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
***Note: You need to read this with a tongue-in-cheek tone.***
Do you know anyone (usually of the more 'senior' persuasion) who thinks the only REAL Word of God comes in the King James Version of the Bible?
I have met those folks on more than one occasion, and have tended to shrug off their comments. Essentially, I have just considered them 'set in their ways', and have actually felt a little sorry for them - 'cuz I think the KJV is so hard to understand. But secretly, I have been thankful that I am not as set in my ways as those folks.
I know the Word of God is the Word of God whether it's filled with 'thou' and 'shalt' OR 'you' and 'shall'.
'Course I preferred my NIV, but I wasn't about to hold it higher than any other version.
And then something weird happened.
I was using Biblegateway to print off Psalm 139 to do a study with the residents at Edgewood. And right away I noticed something was wrong.
In verse one, "O" was missing and "LORD" was in the wrong place. And the same thing happened in verse four. A couple words were different in verse 5, and "O" was missing from verse 17, as well.
After a little investigating, I discovered what happened. In 2010 - as I was memorizing Psalm 139 - someone else was creating a new copyright of the New International Version of the Bible. While they didn't REALLY change anything, some things are different (as cited above), and now I fear I may be starting to fall into the 'set in my ways' camp. Whenever I read the 2010 version and I notice a difference, I think, Wait a minute. This isn't right!
OK, I know that isn't true, but the only Bible I've had since I became a believer 21 years ago is the NIV, copyright 1984. That's the version I've been memorizing, and now someone is changing it on me. Not nice.
I thought I might be able to get over it, but I just checked on something.
Second Corinthians 5:17 is my life verse and it goes like this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I have had that verse hidden in my heart for over 20 years. Yes - it is SET there.
But in the NIV, copyright 2010, MY verse reads, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!
You can't go changing the wording of MY verse.
No further questions necessary. The NIV, copyright 1984 is the only version for me!
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
I received this message in an email recently. The subject line said, This is you.
STRONG PERSONSeriously. I almost started laughing when I read that description of...Me???
A strong person knows how to keep their life in order. Even with tears in their eyes, they still manage to say "I'm ok" with a smile. Even when they're tired of being a strong person, they keep putting one foot in front of the other.
This was one of those emails you're supposed to forward on to a hundred people within the next 30 seconds so you can find out how many friends you have. I know it wasn't written specifically for me. But I still couldn't get over how far off it was in describing me.
Then I came across this verse - which I think is so much more accurate.
Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.
Me? A 'strong person'?
Nah. I don't think so.
I am poor and needy.
The LORD is my Strength!