Sunday, January 29, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

I am nearing 58. No spring chicken, I acknowledge.  Just today, my granddaughter Ruby, age 3, told her Daddy to be careful around me while he played on her  Scooter, because,  "Ommie is old".  Oh. My. Gravy. Yes, I am getting older, even if I don't consider myself to be officially old quite yet. 

So, the point is, I've been around awhile.  Long enough to know better, as the saying goes.  Question is, why do I still  go into tailspins over change and disruptions in life?  When is that wisdom thing going to finally kick in?

Late last year, rumors were swirling around that more changes were coming to my workplace. My full-time associate would be reduced to a schedule of three days a week.  My work load was bound to increase and I was already working excessive hours. Changes were being made in the way I'd be doing my job.  I was not happy and I made it known to anyone who would listen.  I threw a bit of a hissy fit, truth be known.

Anger turned to frustration and  then, frustration to acceptance.  I didn't like it, but I saw the changes were inevitable. I focused on how to make the best of it.  I helped find additional hours elsewhere for my co-worker. I made a decision to  resign from a mentoring position which had taken time away from my primary work responsibilities while not compensating me anything additional.  I vowed to work fewer hours and to trust God for the outcome.  I was determined to find some balance in my life, despite the changes at work.

Thirty days into the changes that had me in a tailspin. a  funny thing has happened. The entire month of January I have worked under 45 hours per week. That is a major big deal for this woman. I have been able to get to church on time every Friday night.  I've met my husband for dinner on a whim, more than once,  instead of begging off because I'm "too busy."  I've learned to be more efficient and more productive working on my own.  But most of all, I've been reminded, that the Lord is faithful. 

In retrospect, I see that all the changes I went into a tizzy over, were intended for my good. Mind you, I am well aquainted with Romans 8:28 which says, in a nut shell, that all things work together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes.  I have counted that verse among my favorites for, let's see-- decades?  How is it that someone who claims to love Him, to be called for His purposes and to believe He has my good in mind, can so easily lose sight of that and temporarily lose my oh so fragile mind when someone rocks my boat a little?

Oh me, of little faith. I am here to confess, it was indeed, "Much Ado About Nothing".  He knew exactly what He was doing. He used my employer, and my circumstances, my bad attitude and my weariness to get me exactly where he wanted me. He knew what it would take to get me out of what had become a comfort zone and into the zone He wanted me in. He knew. He always does.

Once I got over my little fit, I stepped back, adjusted my perspective  and walked forward in faith. I see now, that all the changes I whined about were intended for my best. I am now working less, working smarter and trusting Him for the results instead of my own extra efforts.  He has proven faithful and is blessing the work of my hands. I see now that it was false pride that caused me to put in too many hours and to think  that I  had to do things or they wouldn't be done right.  In my mind, I was doing something noble and praise worthy. I now see how wrong and misguided I was.

 It's not about me, how good I am or how hard I work.  It's certainly not about how many hours I put in.  I still work diligently and I give 100%, but I work less, because I finally get that  He has other things for me to do at home and at church and in my community.  Finally, I'm paying attention.  Finally,  I acknowledge that my successes are not about me and my talent or ability. It's all about Him and what He chooses to do in me and through me. My job is to be faithful.  The results are in His hands.  I'm counting on it.

More of Jesus. Less of Me.  Yes.


Monday, January 2, 2012

More or Less

More rest, less working late
More ministry, less wasted time

More time with husband, less time alone
More order, less chaos
More salad, less meat
More encouragement, less criticism
More assuming the best, less expecting the worst
More giving, less spending
More reading, less facebook
More handwritten notes, less email
More talking, less bickering
More leisure, less rushing
More saying no, less feeling overwhelmed
More moving, less sitting
More laughter, less irritation
More patience, less frustration
More trust, less doubt
More faith, less confusion
More moments, less days lost
More walks, less working lunches
More fruits, less sugar
More awareness, less auto-pilot
More contentment, less envy

More humility, less pride

More forgiveness, less holding onto hurts

More love, less indifference

More kindness, less hurtfulness

More joy, less sorrow

More health, less sickness

More gratitude, less heartache.

More sleep, less weariness

More peace, less anger.

More Jesus, less me.


2011 In the Rear View Mirror

The New Year arrived quietly in our home. We celebrated by picking up take-out at Pei Wei and then driving through Sleepy Hollow with our 3 year old granddaughter, Ruby, on-board. We wanted to enjoy one last look at the truly amazing display of this winter wonderland of Christmas lights. Enroute home, we made a stop at McDonalds for ice cream cones and still got home in time to read Madeline, not once, but, twice before bedtime prayers and sleep for Ruby before 9. We were all sleeping soundly long before the midnight hour struck, with no ill effects the next morning. Yes, we are growing older, and, I must say, it feels fine.
Between Ruby falling asleep and succumbing myself, I pulled out a binder filled with our family Christmas letters, going back two decades, and I methodically read through them all. Mike's dear Uncle Gene, aka, Brother John, wisely suggested to me years ago that I keep them all so that they would become a recorded history of our family life we could look back on and enjoy. He was so right.

What fun it was to relive the milestones, the births, the weddings, the growth of our kids, the vacations and the time spent with those we love...the transitions from job to job, the projects we've taken on and the fruit of that labor realized.

What I didn't expect, but, saw clearly, was a pattern that troubled me. Year after year, I shared how busy I was, how many hours I was putting in and how I wanted to cut back. What troubled me was that while my employer has changed and my job titles have changed and my responsibilities have changed, I still am working more and harder than I say I want to.

I'm not a brain surgeon, but, it doesn't take one to figure out the common denominator here is me. I guess I come by my work ethic honestly. My father was the most hardworking man I've ever known. He worked night and day to provide for us and rarely took a day off. Clearly, more than a little of that rubbed off on me--perhaps to a fault.

Over the last couple of months I've been reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, as well as a lot of other posts with a common theme, that of simplifying life and living intentionally. I want to sign on. I need to sign on. That said, I don't just want to say it, yet again. This year, I want to do something significant so that as I write my 2012 year end letter, I can truthfully and thankfully attest to meaningful changes that have improved our quality of life.

I know this means more than noting a list of resolutions in my journal. I realize this must be a process and that I have to be accountable. My prayer is that the Lord will help me to slow down, to work less and to live more wisely, using my time at work, at home and at leisure to honor Him and those He has entrusted me to live and walk with. My intent is to seriously back off in the areas where I've taken on responsibilities that aren't truly mine- to allow others to do their jobs, and to focus on my own. I will still do my job to the best of my ability and to trust Him for the outcomes vs believing no one can do it as well as I can. I am seeing this for what it was-false pride. It's not pretty.

So, it begins. Travel with me and call me to task. If you hear me say "I'm too busy", feel free to remind me who manages my schedule. And, if I say "no" to something you've asked of me, please know it didn't come easily. I may have to say "no" to some good things in order to say yes to what's most important.

What does this mean in a practical sense? It means I will be working closer to 40 hours a week than I have in years. It means I will honor my personal commitments, dinner with my husband, classes at the gym and getting to church on time Friday nights. It means that I will say "No" to some good things in order to say yes to the good things that He has called me to. In essence, I will be endeavoring to do what I have been telling others to do for years. This is me, hearing me, and hearing Him.

He's been whispering this to me for so long. He never shouts. And I'm finally quieting down enough to listen. It's going to be an adjustment. But, it's going to be right. I'm listening.