It’s the little things

With all the changes at work…and friends loosing their job…and with me still being in limbo…I find it’s the little things I miss.

Every morning coming up the stairs and being greeted by Dan’s smiling face. His office walls and cabinets displayed Angel’s memorabilia. Whether he’s was on the phone and offered a friendly wave…or he had time to say hello in his own inimitable style…it was a great way to start each day. I miss your smiling face Dan.

And Jun…we always found time to share about what God was doing in our lives. Usually on my way to lunch…or when heading home for the day…we’d chat. You radiate the love of God Jun. You have a gentle and loving spirit…and I thank you for the encouragement that you always gave and the wisdom that you shared from God’s word. Not only do you talk the talk…but you walk it, in love. Lord bless Jun…I thank God for bringing you into my life.

Of course there are the girls from Risk…Teri, Karen and Donna. You girls made every day fun…and holidays more special. You would think after dealing negative calls all day long it would wear on you…but not so with you. I thank you for your warmth, openness and sharing with everyone. I will miss seeing you everyday. And Karen if ever I get on live on QVC’s Saturday morning show…you can be certain that I will be giving you a Saturday morning shout out.

And then there was James…one who frequently worked late as he handled recruiting for South Africa. After everyone had gone home for the day…and the cleaning crew was still tidying up…you would pass by my desk…usually in your quest for some sweets. What I most enjoyed about you is your quirky sense of humor…and of course the geeky tech side of you.

I always enjoyed meeting Ken at copier. Whether it was talking what was happening with the business…or in his district…I enjoyed our chats. You and me and a few others were the ones that appreciated being able to get a boatload of work done after everyone had gone home for the day.

Working late usually meant that the phone calls were few and far between. That’s why the work time was productive. But on occasion a call would come in from a customer or a store…usually over a customer having problems writing a check. The phone would ring…and usually I’d pick up the line knowing full well that it would likely mean a disruption to my current project.

On the calls involving checks…there was always one person I could reach out for…Steve. What’s even more amazing is that Steve was in Chicago…two hours ahead of me. But most of the time…he was there. Always a wealth of knowledge…and he had access to just about everything…and either had the answers or could find the answers I needed. It was always accurate information…because Steve always strove for excellence in whatever he did. If the issue couldn’t be resolved then…I didn’t have to follow up repeatedly…because he would make sure he got an answer…or resolved the issue at hand. There are certain folks you can always count on in life…and Steve is one of them.

While each of us was working on our own spreadsheet or data…we’d take time to chat. Sometimes about business…sometimes catching up about family stuff. And Steve…to this day…that picture of the carp that you sent…was one of he ugliest things I’ve ever seen. Yuck! Perhaps 2006 will be the winning year for your beloved St. Louis Cardinals.

Another highlight of my day were the phone calls from Robert in transit. Sometimes to report about some absurd bumper sticker from some loony lib driving in front of him or to comment on latest about Ken and John were ranting and raving about. You have a little braggadocio in you Robert…okay, well maybe a lot. It particularly comes out when you have brag on your keen editing skills, always catching both big and small boo boos.

You are nothing short of cocky when you want to bet. It amazes me that folks still fall prey to your bets. When will they ever learn…that if you want to bet…they will likely loose. One of my favorite blog articles….was based on you, “To Post or Not to Post”.

Some of my favorite times…were text messaging you or e-mailing you a message set to arrive just as your plane arrived wishing you a safe landing. I’m sure glad you landed safe each time…I don’t think I’d want to be answering the Fed’s questions as to why I sent that message in the event you crashed and burned.

Louis…your middle initial should be I…I for instigator. You always have a joke to play on someone. You have a wee bit of the devil in you sir! I’ve known you for so long…that it was weird when I met your son again the other day. He’s all grown up…it was almost surreal. I think I remember when I first met you…and thanks to you…my love for loss prevention grew…until I was finally able to get a job that I would love. It seems very weird to not be working together after all these years.

And there were the many, many LPS’s over the years. I had the pleasure of watching them grow and develop in their careers and personal lives. Sometimes I felt like I was sole person beholding a treasure…because I would see what made each person special or unique. It was exciting to see each person advance in the career…as they were promoted or went on to better jobs with other companies. It was especially neat when someone would be faced with a challenge or obstacle…and step up to the plate rather than strike out or knuckle under.

In some respects while in the middle of all this daily stuff…there were many times that I knew that the people and times were very special. I feel like Mary…and pondered it in my heart…and each of you and many more will always hold a special place in my heart.

I thank God for having blessed me with so many people whom I grew to love and appreciate. To quote Lou Gehrig…I feel like the luckiest man (woman) alive. Thanks for being a special part of my life.

Committed to Truth…or Doubt and Unbelief?

Dear Francoise,

I’ve waited to post your comments, in part because I wanted to digest them before I respond to you. I feel it’s necessary to respond on the off chance that another likeminded atheist comes along and says, “Here, here Francoise…you have presented your case well.” I don’t want your doubt and unbelief to be the last word.

However…it seems like a rather odd time for me talking about faith and trying to refute an atheist. For during the last few months…I’ve been going through a heck of a lot. My faith has been very wobbly at times during this roller coaster ride. Yet…one thing I know for certain…is that there is a God, that he is good and that he is the God of the Bible. He revealed himself to sinful man through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ willing went to the cross to pay the price for my sins. He died that day on the cross…but Francoise…Sunday was coming. And that day…my Lord and Savior gave proof and evidence that he was who he said he was. God incarnate. That is why I’m confident that when I die…not only will my spirit continue to live…but I will be in heaven…because Jesus Christ paid the price for my admission so that I could be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God the Father.

So Francoise…what do you say we get this show on the road?

“I am even more amazed at how many Christians don’t bother to read their own Bible.”

Francoise…on this point I agree with you. To any Christian who attends a church in which you can walk in, not bring your Bible or not crack it open during your Sunday service…run. Find yourself a church and pastor that is firmly rooted and grounded in the word of God. It’s amazing…people don’t realize the treasure they are holding in their hands when they hold their Bible. The very word of God, revealed unto man.

You say that “Shirley Phelps Roper is not inconsistent with Biblical teachings. That she and her crowd base their view of God on the capricious, psychopathic entity of the Old Testament. That is one scary God!”

Just for the record…God is not capricious. God is not impulsive, inconsistent or unpredictable. In fact far from it…God is the one stable being and force in the universe. In Hebrews 13:8 it tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. In fact God is the only person or thing in the universe that is immutable. He does not change.

By psychopathic…I presume you are referring to the passages in which God instructs his people to slay all the inhabitants of the land they are about to enter. The Bible tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. We are incapable of fully understanding God’s ways. But in this instance…it doesn’t take a lot to see the reason behind God’s direction.

The Israelites were entering into a land in which the people had rejected God and were living in all manner of evil and wickedness. God’s chosen people were the Israelites and he wanted to keep them holy and pure. To not enter into the land with people who had outwardly rejected God and were living a very wicked life. God knew if his people entered the land as is…they would be lead astray and slowly start to drift away from God.

The Israelites were God’s chosen people to bring God’s revealed word to sinful man. He needed them to remain pure and set apart. It was also through the Jews that God would enter into to the world in his earthly incarnation.

Did God wipe out people? During the flood all but eight people were destroyed. God had created man without sin…but he had given him that freedom of choice and Adam and Eve chose to reject God and his commands. From there it went downhill. So God wiped out all but a handful of humanity. If things were that evil up to the time of the flood…can you imagine what sin checked would have looked like in our sinful world today?

Francoise…you say “that is one scary God.” And you are right. God is all powerful, all knowing and perfect. He is sinless…and he can not dwell with sin. It is a wise man that in his sin still fears God. However I fear that you say that in a mocking way…not in a way that sincerely and rightly fears a holy, righteous, just God to whom you will give an account.

You point out the scripture that “tells believers that they are to hate their families to prove how much they love him. How egocentric is that?”

Francoise God tells us in his word that we are to love one another. That people will know we are Christians by our love. Throughout the Bible…God command us to love him and love each other. With that command in mind…do you think that perhaps you are not fully grasping what Jesus is saying?

What he means dear friend, is that in comparison to how much you love God…your love for others, family and friends will seem like hatred. It also means that your priority above all must be God and obeying him.

Next you go into Jesus’ teaching about “turning the other cheek”. You question on how that applied to real life. “Do you allow some thug to beat you to a pulp? Do you teach your children to be punching bags?”

Dear one…no that’s not what teaching is about. What it’s getting at the heart of the matter is forgiveness. When you choose to forgive and overlook an offence you can restore or build a relationship. May there come a time that God asks you to literally turn the other cheek after being physically assaulted or beat up? Yes…and indeed Jesus did that on the way to the cross. Do you think that if Jesus did that he might on occasion ask us to do the same? Either a physical or emotional slap?

In fact…even as I write this…I find the Holy Spirit convicting me. You see….I took offense at a person’s comments and actions toward me. My first reaction was to verbally fight back. My second reaction was to walk away…and never talk to them again. Left to my own devises…I might do that. But with God’s word instructing me…and the Holy Spirit dwelling within me…I am reminded that’s not an option as a Christian. My call is to forgive. That may mean that tomorrow I will be hurt again by that same person. Yet I’m called upon to forgive. I’m not called upon to be responsible for what they do to me. That’s up to God to work in that person’s life and character.

Remember when Peter was bellyaching about forgiving. He thought he was being magnanimous in throwing out the idea of forgiving someone seven times. Jesus responded that no…instead we are to forgive 70 times 7. Not meaning on number 491 now you can be unforgiving. No…it means you continue to forgive.

Just for theory sake…let pretend that God is real and he is the God of the Bible. Would you say you have sinned according to what God has revealed and commanded in his Bible? Would you like to receive forgiveness for your sins if that’s the case? Would you want God to turn the other cheek and forgive you? I surly do…because I can’t go a day without sinning. Sinning against God and against man. I’m grateful that Jesus turned the other cheek and endured the punishment of the cross so I might be forgiven.

Next you raise some points that God is mistaken because Jesus referred to the mustard seed as the smallest of all seeds. Then you claim that God is woefully ignorant about the basics of astronomy. Francoise…just between you and me…you come off as awfully cocky and arrogant. You think you are superior to God in your wisdom and knowledge.

I don’t think it’s too much of stretch to see that Jesus was gearing his words to his audience. The mustard seed would have been commonly seen and perhaps the one of the smallest seeds they encountered. So when he compared the mustard seed and the amount growth that even the smallest seed could produce…it was something that they could relate to. On the issue of the “stars falling” perhaps that is God dumbing down it down to a human perspective. To human being living on the face of the earth…long before technological advances…it appeared that the stars we indeed falling.

Your protest and depiction of God over these issues is not that of ignorance…it’s that one who is nitpicking at everything because he does not want to acknowledge there is a God…much less the God of the Bible. If it’s true…that would mean that you would have to choose. Continue to live your live as you choose and reap the consequences…or choose to obey God and change.

Next you refer to the passage in which Jesus tells us that this generation would not pass away until his second coming. Francoise the exact meaning of this has had many Bible scholars interested in what exactly Jesus meant when he said this. It’s not as clear as you make it out or interpret it. Some have theorized that “this generation” may be referring to the generation that is alive when the sign of Jesus second coming are starting.

Lastly…you bring your argument back to Shirley Phelps-Roper. You raise the issue that Shirley was a victim of horrific abuse.

Child abuse and sexual abuse is something that no one should ever have to endure Francoise. However…that doesn’t excuse her hateful and ugly actions that and that that her clan are perpetrating upon the families of dead soldiers. Nor does it excuse the hateful, arrogant, and condemning words to sinners….when in fact Ms. Ropers is just another sinner.

I do believe that people should be warned about the consequences of living a sinful life. But I also know that I am a sinner too. That while my sin may be different…I’m just as sinful as another person. My sin is just as ugly to God…and not receiving the provision for my sin…will land me in hell along with the others whose sin I consider so much greater than my own.

Bottom line Francoise…just because Ms. Roper may have had a wretched childhood does not excuse her current actions. It may give insight into why she is such a sick and troubled soul. But it doesn’t excuse it. Many, many people have endured unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of a parent…but they grow up to be fine, decent, kind, caring people. So the one does not automatically lead or excuse the other.

If you are genuinely interested in the truth Francoise…if you truly want to know if the Bible is true or false…can I suggest that instead of reading the Bible to pick it apart you read it with an open mind and heart. Tell God that you don’t think he’s real and if he is, to reveal it to you in his written word the Bible.

Some of the best Biblical education I’ve received has been through Bible Study Fellowship. Why don’t you find a class in your area…they have classes all around the world. Commit to yourself that for nine months you will fully investigate the claims of Christ and of God as he has revealed in the Bible. This year…we’ll be studying the book of Romans…starting that first week after Labor Day in September.

Then…after studying the Bible for that time…and giving God a chance to reveal himself to you…if you want to remain in doubt and unbelief…you have your whole life ahead of you to do as you choose.

If what the Bible says is true….don’t you want to know that? Francoise…if you would like me to send you some CD’s in the book of Roman’s by my dear former Pastor, Chuck Obremski…it would be my privilege.

So what do you say Francoise? Are you more committed to the truth…or are you more committed to doubt and unbelief because you don’t want to be accountable to God or anyone else for that matter?

I hope and pray that you will make the right choice Francoise…as does God. But he is a gentleman and will give you that freedom to choose and believe him…or reject him.

Fellow Christians…I invite you to please read Francoise response to one of my articles on Shirley Phelps Roper. If you would like to respond to and can do so in a more effective manner…I would love to publish your comments. So please click on the comments or e-mail links below. Lord bless…Susan

Francoise said…I am an atheist (which means that I believe in one fewer god than you Christians do) and am constantly amazed at what religion does to people’s heads. I am even more amazed at how many Christians don’t bother to read their own Bible. As one who has read it, I can assure you that Shirley Phelps Roper is NOT inconsistent with Biblical teachings, particularly as she and her crowd base their view of “God” on the capricious, psychopathic entity of the Old Testament. Hoo-boy! That is one SCARY god!!!!

I am even more amazed at the teachings of Christ which most Christians conveniently ignore. Like the exhorting of believers to “hate” (Yes, he DOES use that word!) their families to prove how much they love him. How egocentric is that??!!

He taught you to turn the other cheek. Fine, except how does that apply in a real-life situation? Do you let some thug beat you to a pulp? Do you teach your children to allow themselves to be punching bags for any passing bully? I bet you don’t.

If Jesus is also “God”, as most Christians seem to believe, then why did he make basic mistakes in biology? He stated that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. It isn’t. As far as seeds go, it’s fairly large. He said that it grows into a tree, and that birds nest in it. Wrong on both counts. He also said that stars, at some point in the future, will fall from heaven. For a god, he seems woefully ignorant about basic astronomy. Stars do NOT fall!!!! He stated that his generation would not die off until his second coming. They’ve all been dead for 2,ooo years, and he still hasn’t arrived. Why should I, or anyone else for that matter, believe him? What sort of credibility does he have? Just wondering.

But to get back to Shirley. Before you’re tempted once more to judge and condemn her, I strongly suggest that you Google “Addicted to Hate”. Read her heart-rending story, and weep. Go down on your knees and thank your god that your life has (in all probability) been better than hers. Ask your god to forgive your hard hearts and judgmental thoughts. Ask yourselves how sane and pleasant YOU would have been had you grown up in the Phelps Psycho Compound. Shirley and her siblings grew up in a war zone, their days and nights filled with acute, relentless physical and emotional terror and pain. She was starved, beaten, threatened, compelled into forced marches and made to watch as her brothers and sisters were tortured and abused. She is a most unfortunate human being, and her actions in public are the expected consequences of the horrors she endured. Send out kind thoughts. Send her a bouquet of flowers, anonymously, via Interflora. If you meet her, spare her a kind word. If you can’t manage that, refrain from fighting with her. Shirley’s dad and the god of the Old Testament are pretty much the same in personality -vindictive, brutal and unjust. No wonder the poor woman is a screaming wreck! Lay off her, for pity’s sake, and concentrate on developing some sympathy for her appalling plight.

Sad Reflections

I think sometimes it may be easier…or at least safer…to feel anger rather than sadness.

Today…was a real down day…well actually the past couple of days were. I feel like so much of whom and what I love has been taken from me. In recent weeks…in particular…but more accurately over the past few years.

Today I found myself expressing anger and frustration over what feels like my inability to change a situation…or make a difference one way or the other. This morning it came out as anger…with tears close behind. But what was really going on in the background is that I’m profoundly sad over all that I feel like I’m loosing.

I know that time and perspective will change those feelings. I know in time…I will see God’s hand and purpose behind all that I’m going through. But right now…that perspective evades me.

Right now I feel sad. When it comes out as anger…I’m not a real pleasant person to be around. With anger…I at least feel like I deserve some of the stinky stuff that’s happening. After all…I’m being a stinkpot and don’t deserve anything good.

But after expressing my frustration…I was left with sadness. Right now that is the place I’m at. That’s okay for now. A year for now, no. But next week…that may be okay. Where’s the healthy balance. Not sure. But right now…I’ve lost a lot…and it’s okay to feel sad.

Perhaps when I feel like life is peachy keen…and I’m doing okay and in control…that is the real illusion. When in fact, if the truth be told…I have precious little control over anything in my life except how I react to it.

One of my favorite songs is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Hold on to Jesus for Life”. I love that song…and from when I first heard it, the song resonated with me. Right now I feel like I’m clinging on to hope…my faith and trust in Jesus.

I’m still sad. But I’d be willing to bet that there were a few days there where even Jesus felt sad. Remember…he wept at Lazarus tomb. Jesus even knew that he would be raising him from the dead.

So what would Jesus do? I think he give me some Kleenex to blow my nose after I cried and wipe away my tears. And I think he’d give me a big hug…and I could sure use that right about now.

Between you and me…sometimes I feel like a faith failure when I feel this way. But I think that’s okay…because while man may not understand…God does.

In looking at my website…I see that it’s been almost two months since I’ve posted an audio clip from Chuck Obremski’s “The Story is Told”.

In the past two months…things have been pure HE double toothpicks…I tell you. It started out with my mom Gayle falling and breaking her arm. A hospital stay and many doctor visits ensued. After that I went into all this turbulence with my job. Three job interviews over a course of three weeks…and I’m still waiting to hear if I’ll get the job I applied for. Not to mention…the sale of my old company being completed and the new company taking over. With that…lot’s of packing and cleaning and throwing away. On a sad note…way too many goodbyes to people whom I love and care about…Diane, Tom, Tonya, Steve and John…just to name a few.

Today was a hard day…one of those down days on this roller coaster I’ve been riding. So more than ever I need a dose of Chuck Obremski…and a good old corny joke. But don’t you be telling Chuck I said that. Corny or not…I just love these jokes.

Hope you enjoyed that. And if you would like to hear more from Chuck Obremski…please click on the link to Kindred Community Church. You can listen to sermons online…or e-mail the audio ministry for CD albums. They are faithful servants…and would love to get some great sermons in your hands. Lord bless…and I hope you have a great week.

Don’t Even Want to Go Down That Road

Two of my worst fears as I wait to find out about my job situation and step into a different role for the time being is being bored and overhearing the latest office gossip.

One of the advantages that I’ve had in my job over the years…is that I was in a separate area and I was the sole person that did the work. I didn’t have to get involved in office politics or worse yet hear the latest in the gossip/rumor mill. I just hate that!

And now…it’s already starting…and I don’t even want to go down that road. I don’t want to take one step across that line. It will benefit no one and will likely cause hurt and division.

So…I want to remember some things that have served me well in the past. One…praying for people with whom I work. In the past I’ve found…if there is someone I don’t like or that is difficult to work with…when I’m praying for them…God is able to help change the situation. Whether that’s changing me and my heart towards that person…or changing them…I don’t know. But I do know it works.

Secondly…the only thing I ever want to be overheard me saying about a co-worker…is good things. I don’t want to talk bad about them…especially to another co-worker. If I don’t have the guts to go directly to them and share my concerns…then it’s not worth bringing up. Do I always do that? No…but that has been my aim over the years and when I abide by that rule…it has served me well.

Lastly…it’s all about the work and the people. I love to work hard and do an excellent job. Focus and kick butt…and get the work done. Being bored…is one of my top nightmares. And the gossip politics thing…that severely undercuts your ability to do your work effectively and get along with people. Besides that…it’s just plain boring.

Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about people.

So more than ever…I’m praying I get this new job. Even so…come quickly! More than ever…I need to make sure I’m praying for my co-workers.

The week that was…

And what a week it was! I feel as though I’ve been everywhere on the map with my emotions and faith this week.

I started out the week strong. Strong in my faith, believing that God had given me his assurance that he was handling my problems…and I merely needed to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. He had impressed upon me 2 Chronicles 20:17. I had even personalized it and hung it on my bathroom mirror and at work.

“Susan, you will not have to fight this battle. Take up your position; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Susan. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you Susan.’”

Not that I would necessarily have the answer to my prayer…this week…but I had the assurance that it was in God’s hands, his battle…and that he would work it out in his perfect timing. Work all things together for good…for I do love the Lord.

I had the strong prayer support of my church family…so how could it go wrong?

Well…I’m not sure I even have the exact answer to that…even as I look back. I think it has something to do with that doubt factor creeping in. And perhaps a little dose of looking at my outward circumstances…instead of trusting that God was working on it…even though the outcome was not yet visible to me.

Then of course…how could I leave out feeling desperate…and being quite certain that if the circumstances were going to work out…I’d better take action. To seal doubt firmly in my mind…feeling lonely and forgotten…took doubt across the goal line. Score one for Satan…and I’m the looser. Really…what a nincompoop I am! Golly gosh gee wiz…will I ever learn this side of heaven? Never mind…please don’t answer that one.

Well any way…with my former co-workers all out of town going through orientation in their new jobs…I was more anxious than ever to have news as to whether I would get the job I recently interviewed for. But God still had me in his waiting room.

There’s nothing like feeling abandoned and let down to make you feel sorry for yourself. You ever been there? I think that day was Tuesday…and it was a really down day. But thankfully each day is a new day…and suddenly I felt like I had a peace once again about the whole situation.

Through this time of waiting…about two months now…I’ve been trying to interpret what God message is to me. Is he sending up red flags…and saying “Yo, Susan…don’t go down that path”? Or is it Satan trying to discourage me and defeat me so I wouldn’t want this job? Perhaps it God trying to help grow my faith…and help me to rely upon and trust him…and look to him alone to be my deliverer. Is it God putting me in difficult circumstances so I would have a more tender heart towards others who are hurting?

I don’t rightly know the answer to any of those questions. All I know is that right now…as that as Nancy told me, “Susan, you are in God’s waiting room.” He and he alone knows the reason and purpose behind the wait.

A trip to mid-week Bible study helped to steady my faith. As did a chat with Jun…a fellow Christian…who always brings me back to God’s word and his infinite power. When I got home Wednesday night…I received a call from someone to edit/proof their resume. Glad to be of assistance…to help someone else also facing difficult circumstances.

I felt like God had pulled back the veil…if only for brief moment on what he might be doing in this time. Now today…I have entirely different thoughts. (So is that a girl thing…or a wobbly faith thing or what?) But I still have that peace. My circumstances have not yet changed. I will likely not know the outcome of my job situation for a few more weeks. But I also know that God could change the situation tomorrow…he’s not working on my time or anyone else’s. But I do have peace.

The changes kept coming this week…with much beloved, long term co-workers moving on. In part…my heart is breaking. These are people whom I love and have worked with and known for a number of years now. I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that God will bring them through this, work in their lives and bring them right where he has planned. But I’m selfish…and don’t want to loose them. They are precious to me indeed.

In the mean time…I am starting in another position…for the time being. I am most grateful to have a job. But I look forward to the day…when I get to return to Loss Prevention. I think that only folks that have worked in that area…know exactly what I mean. I’ve been bitten by the LP bug. Whether it’s my current company…or an opportunity that arises elsewhere I look forward to that day.

In the mean time…I’m already encountering some difficulties as I change jobs. A visit to Debra’s website As I See It Now…gave me some insight in how I might approach a difficult situation in her piece called “Clarifying Just a Tad”. I’ve been down this path before…and I’ve learned that when I encounter difficult people…or people that are hurting…my best option is to pray for them. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “hurt people, hurt people”. I don’t always know how to react to them. Sometimes I feel angry or hurt or defensive in response to their actions or words. But I can’t afford to go down that road.

But Debra shared some insights that I want to carry away and use in my situation. One…I need to empty myself of me. A full vessel can not be filled. But when I empty myself…I make room for the Holy Spirit to enter in. He alone knows what this person needs…not me. I need to get out to of the way, pray for them…and trust God to work in their life and help them in their difficult and challenging circumstance.

All these changes are big…and widespread…and effecting many. God is definitely at work. But it will take time to see exactly what he’s doing.

I do hope to receive the crown of righteousness when I get to heaven. I also think…I might get the crown of waiting…or is that patience? But I’m quite certain…that I’ll have to wait to get it…but hopefully by then…I’m be a wee bit better at this waiting thing. After all…my flesh will have died.

If nothing else…this waiting time has helped me to clarify what I want and why…and that is a good thing. Remember the story about the woman who begged at Jesus feet to have her daughter delivered from demons. When Jesus initially said no, she remained quite persistent. How did Jesus respond? He responded by answering her request and healed her daughter. May I too have that persistent and trusting faith. Knowing, that not only is my God able…but assured that he will handle my difficulties.

So…at times strong…at times weak and wobbly…this girl still waits. Waits to see what the outcome of her job search will be. Now I pray that I will demonstrate a more solid faith during this time…and that I will look to the Lord alone to answer and solve my problems. He alone is my deliverer…in him will I trust.

Thank you Jesus for carrying me through this week.

Daniel…Man of Excellence, Rewarded by God

Below is a preview of my second devotional in the book of Daniel. Please click on the above link for this week’s full devotional and additional study notes taken from Chuck Obremski’s study Daniel…Courage Rewarded.

Daniel 1:8-16

When I take a closer look at Daniel and examine what exactly made Daniel a man of excellence…I find there are many areas in my own life that I need to examine more closely.

Daniel’s faith was his own…not an inherited faith…or a convenient faith. But a faith, born of studying and knowing God and his word. Daniel communicated with God though prayer and walked in obedience. He believed in God and had seen him at work in the lives of his people.

Daniel knew that at the end of the day…he would stand before God and give an account of his life and his choices. He chose to follow God and obey his word…even when it was inconvenient and risky.

Daniel was resolved and purposed in his heart to make the right choice, in part because he had been walking that godly and obedient path…all his life. His next step, his next choice…was in keeping with the one before. He continued on that same path of following and obeying God.

As a result of Daniel’s obedience to God and his word…he was able to be courageous. He was also winsome and attractive. He stood out…head and shoulders above the other boys taken captive.

God rewarded Daniel’s obedience. His desire to obey God by not defiling himself was granted. The officials showed favor upon Daniel and they recognized his excellence. As a result of his excellence and obedience…Daniel was not only a godly influence on others…but he was used by God as an ambassador to a pagan nation and king.

Courage Rewarded – by Chuck Obremski

Daniel 1:8-16
Notes taken from Chuck Obremski’s sermon FG1199 Courage Rewarded – Daniel 1:8-16

It’s easy in our world to become cynical and think that everyone is the same…case in point.

Two pilots are on an international 16 hour flight…and a conversation ensued. The captain was Jewish and the first officer was Chinese. There was silence and tension in the cockpit. After about 30 minutes the captain spoke and said, “You know, I don’t like Chinese.” The first officer replies, “Why is that?” The captain said “Well you bombed Pearl Harbor.” The first officer responded “No, no that was Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor. I’m Chinese.” The captain responded, “Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese…you’re all the same to me.”

About 30 minutes of silence ensued until the first officer said, “You know, I don’t like Jews.” The captain said, “Why is that?” The first officer said, “Because Jew sunk the Titanic.” The captain responded, “What are you talking about…it was an ice berg that sunk the Titanic…not Jews.” The first officer says, “Ice bergs, Goldberg, Rosenberg…you’re all the same to me.”

In the last lesson we met four men of courage…who refused to go with the flow or go the easy road. Their lives were an act of courage. Not all men are the same, some are different, some stand out from among the crowd.

The question is…are we a Daniel in of standing out and being courageous in a crowd and culture that is opposed to the things of God?

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia [a] and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. [
b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your [
c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Three things to help us better understand not only Daniel and his friends, but also this rare character trait of courage…that seems to be lacking in our culture today.

Nebuchadnezzar had been passing through Jerusalem and he remembered the stories about Jerusalem and its great wealth. It’s important to remember though…that God gave the nation of Israel over to Nebuchadnezzar. The nation had been disobedient before God. God had warned them repeatedly through the prophets that they must repent from their sins and turn from it. The prophets warned that if they would repent then God would step in a discipline them.

As a father lovingly discipline his children…God disciplines us. God will use people around us to enact his judgment. As God’s people…as we get out of hand…or go in a wrong direction…he warns us about the sin in our life. He tells us “you’d better repent, or else I’m going to have to step in and discipline you”. Often times, God uses people around us to enact his judgment.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t realize it…but he was a vehicle of God’s discipline to God’s own people. Daniel and his friends were taken into captivity. Ashpenaz was told to take the royal family back to Babylon into captivity. His instructions were to bring back youths in whom there was no defect and that were good looking, intelligent, endowed with understanding. Discerning knowledge and had an ability to serve in the king’s court.

The game plan when they were brought back to Babylon was to brainwash them…to change them. First be changed mentally…be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans. It all starts with our mind. Learn a new language; learn a new way of thinking. Forget everything they had learned up to that point…it’s time to start fresh and forget it.

We see that today at work or school…that we are to start thinking in the new way. Everyone thinks theirs is the best way.

Also changed their social circle. They put them together with other people who were just like them. Chosen men that had been taken captive. Spend time with people who are just like you…spend time with those in the elite category. Change your social circle, remove some of the friends that you had. You’ll now have new friends. Changed their environment.

This brain washing technique is very similar to things today. First we want to change the way people think and then we change their environment. We’ve got the whole package…as long as we change the way they think. Religious beliefs are going to be changed. This is indicative of their name changes. The names they had assigned all had religious significance. They were in essence saying we are going to dilute you of everything you learned, change your social circle and the friends you are with. We are going to give you everything…physically, materially, and change what you believe. Your allegiance to your God and your love for your God will have to put aside or left behind in Jerusalem…if you are going to be successful in your new environment.

They faced a subtle temptation. Not persecuted or treated harshly…on the contrary. These prisoners were being cut in on a piece of the action. Cut in…made part of everything that was going on, to enjoy the best that this world has to offer. Offered a top notch education, the best food, the best wine, the best clothing, the best shelter.

They were appointed a daily ration from the king’s best food. Eating the same food as was prepared for the king. Not too rough. Subtle what’s going on here. At the end of the three years…they were then guaranteed job placement. A great package. The only thing they had to do was to make a few compromises along the way.

Very subtle…all you have to do is make a couple of corrections in the way you think, in the way you conduct yourself…and what in you believe…and all of this is yours. Go with the flow…don’t make any waves and you do what you are told to do…all of this could be yours. The sky is the limit on what we can do for you. All they had to do…was set aside whatever they knew to be right and their belief and love of their God. So how did these young men respond to such temptation and pressure to conform?

The convictions of Daniel and his friends. (vs. 6 – 18). The key phrase in this passage is Vs. 8…Daniel resolved to not defile himself. But Daniel purposed…made up his mind. These men were being offered the world…which seemed like a small price or compromise. I can have all of this the food, education, shelter, clothing, exclusive country club membership, guaranteed job placement…I can have it all of that and all I’ve got to do is compromise in this one little area.

That doesn’t seem like much to pay. After all…God would understand. He knows the predicament that we are in. He knows we’re in prison and have no options here. But what is remarkable here is that Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not cave in.

Think about it as a teenager how vulnerable must he have been. Think of the strength and courage of this young man. Today we have laws to protect vulnerable children. Daniel was a healthy, hungry teenager away from the protective environment…and exposed to all that the world had to offer. What about those kids today…away from home at college or starting a new job for the first time.

Would it be feast or faith? Daniel was 800 miles from home…and being offered the world on a silver platter. Would it be feast of faith? That was his choice.

When you left the protective environment of home for the first time…was it feast of faith? What did you choose, what have you chosen…what are you choosing daily? Daniel chose faith.

Things of courage that stand out.

Daniel’s courage decision was made in his heart. Purposed in his heart…he made up his mind. Daniel knew where to draw the line, he knew where to hunker down, hold fast, stand firm. He knew that if I take this little step across this line…then there is no stopping where it’s going to end up. He knew where to draw the line. Drew a line in the sand…and said…I won’t be bought. I’m going to do what’s right…I’m determined to do what’s right. Even though I’m far away from home…even thought the people whom I grew up with aren’t around anymore…and that doesn’t make a difference. I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong…and I’m going to do what’s right. This is the birthplace of courage…in our heart and mind. It starts with our thoughts and heart.

That’s why the brain washing technique started with what they thought. They wanted to change their mind about what is right or wrong.

1 Samuel 16:7
1 Kings 3:9
1 King 11:1-4

God warned Solomon. It happened…because his heart was no wholly devoted to God. There was that area in his life that he compromised.

King David prayed this…in Psalm 51:10 – Create me a clean heart.

Clean me up…take my heart and scrub it. Take my mind and scrub it. Get rid of all the thoughts that I have that are wrong before you. Get rid of everything that I entertain in my mind that isn’t pleasing to you…in any way, shape or form. Create in me a clean heart, oh God.

God knows we’re a mess. He knows we struggle with our thought life.

The Bible tells us we are to treasure God’s word in our heart…so that we don’t sin against God. That the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. Able to judge the thought and intentions of our hearts.

Track 17 – Why is the heart so important? Mark 7:14 –

That which proceeds out of the man…that is what defiles the man.

Jesus was warning them and us that our thought life always leads to action. Our actions always begin with our thoughts. Don’t you understand that when you sit around and think evil thoughts…that ultimately you’ll do evil deeds. You sit around thinking about fornication…that you want to have sex with your girlfriend or boyfriend outside of marriage. That’s all you’re thinking about…the more you think about it, the more you want to do it. The more you want to do it…all you’re lacking is an opportunity. And the more you think about it…then one day you will do it. It all starts in the mind with our thought life.

Don’t you see the same about slander. You start to think evil about someone. You start thinking about what you want to say about someone…and who you want to say it to. You can’t believe that this has happened or that has happened…and you can’t wait to find this person or that person…and then you’ll share it with them. It all starts in our mind and heart. What we’re lacking is an opportunity to share it with someone…that will listen to us…that will give us an ear.

Thefts…hey I want that. Coveting…we think in our mind…I want what they have. People devise plans elaborate schemes. It takes a lot time and effort and energy to rob a bank.

We have some of the most brilliant people in our country that go into fighting crime…and a lot of thinking going into committing crime. Sometimes… a lot thought that goes into it. Coveting, deceit, and sensuality, pleasing yourself in a sensual way…pleasing yourself, envy, slander, and pride.

Remember what Jesus said about adultery. If you lust for a woman in your heart…you’ve already committed adultery with her. Why? The more you think about committing an act of adultery…all you are lacking is the opportunity to do it.

The point Jesus wants us to understand that in pride and foolishness. Pride…we sit around and think that we are always right and never wrong. No matter what the evidence is…no matter what it is to the contrary…we sit around and we think, justify and rationalize our own positions in life. Jesus said that don’t you realize all your actions proceed from your thoughts. That’s why it critical…it is imperative that we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor 10:5

Daniel was a living, breathing walking example of this…as were his friends. These were men that took every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Daniel’s decision was made in his own heart…in his own mind…he was wholly devoted to God. The first time compromise was offered…he already understood what is. He saw the package. He realized how dangerous it was. But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself.

It wasn’t any longer the conviction of his parents…or his friends…or the environment that he grew up in that was so comfortable. It was time that he grew up.

As parents…we are told to train up our children in the way they should go. They should go God’s way. Love God with all their heart, mind and soul. Love their neighbor as themselves. Dedicated wholly to God…parents need to train up their children in the way they should go. Teach them, train them, discipline them when they step out of bounds and do what is wrong before God.

Children are then responsible and accountable to God for their own actions. A point in every child’s life where they must own their own convictions. That happens only after those convictions are tested.

Most parents…don’t want their kids to forge out their own faith. A scary thing…we want to protect them from themselves. There comes a point where we have to trust them…that we’ve done what’s right before them. There comes a point where we have to trust God that God wants them to grow in their love for the Lord…even more than we do. There comes a point where we have to let go…and let God take over. Hardest thing to do.

Daniel’s parents didn’t have to struggle with it…because he was taken from him. All they could do is pray and trust God that he would do the right thing in his new environment. Daniel passed the test. He was allowed to forge out his own convictions. He was allowed to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He was able to draw the line and be courageous.

That is more of a statement about the trustworthiness of God than Daniel parents. God says that if you train up a child in the way he shall go, when he is old he will not depart from it.

A testimony to the faithfulness of God. Did Daniel’s parents always do the right thing? They made their mistakes. They did their best…tried their hardest. Help him to see that they loved the Lord…and that he wanted the best for him. But they made mistakes. We can trust God in this whole process.

Daniel was courageous…his courage was based on his obedience. Obedience to the word of God. His determination was based on the word of God. Not on his mom and dad or other’s rules. He discerned the plot behind all this and that is what gave him determination.

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself…referring to God’s dietary restrictions. As Daniel grew in his home…he had been trained in the way he should go. Be obedient to God. This specific area of his life was the dietary restrictions. For the Jewish nation…great detail on what they could and could not eat…or drink. He couldn’t drink wine…or eat certain foods. Against God’s law. Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice foods or wines he drank.

There were certain things that Daniel knew he was not allowed to eat. He knew God’s law. He treasured them in his heart so he would not sin against God.

Some of us would say well maybe that’s not part of the dietary restrictions…let’s go through Leviticus 11 and see if we can find an out.

There was greater issue in Exodus 34. That if something was offered to a false God…then they were not permitted to eat it at all…it became unclean.

Think about Daniel’s position…he was offered the same food that the king was eating. He know it’s against the dietary restrictions of God’s law. He’s got a clear understanding that if it was food given to the king…it had been given as a sacrifice offered to the false god of this particular nation…so that they would be blessed. He knew there was no way he could eat the food or drink the wine. Now he’s got a problem.

But some of us are always looking for an out. But wait…maybe it wasn’t offered to an idol or false god. When in doubt…don’t! If you are not sure of something that is pleasing before God…then don’t do it. Dig into the word of God, study it…get godly counsel, pray about it. If you are still in doubt…don’t do it.

James 4:17

Daniel’s life was all about this…when he was in doubt…he didn’t do it. There was genuine cause to doubt here. His determination was based on the word of God. If all that we have to offer our children are our rules and regulations…that’s not going to get them through the next step. Because half the time they are going to think our rules and regulations are nonsense. Once out of that umbrella that we give them…they think…we don’t have to do it anymore.

What’s wrong with drinking, what wrong with drugs, what’s wrong with protected sex outside of marriage, what’s wrong with debt or materialism, or my friends? What’s wrong with homosexuality…I see it all around. What’s wrong with abortion, lying, cheating, and stealing? After all everything is now situational ethics. As long as something good comes out of it…it doesn’t matter how we get there, or what road we take. If there is not a clear understanding of God’s position on these subjects and areas of life…there will be a lot of pressure to conform and be politically correct.

Example…of Reggie White and his statements that homosexuality was sinful. He took a stand…a godly man…a visible spokesman…and the media distorted what he said. Tried to make him look like an idiot.

In the 20/20 interview…they gave him the opportunity to retract his statements…because there was a job at the end of it. Tone it down….and we’ll give you a job. But he knew the word of God.

He knew that homosexuality is no greater than any other sin. God ranks it with lying, cheating, stealing, murder, coveting, jealousy, envy, strife. It’s just another sin. No big sins or little sins with God…it’s all sin. As far as God goes…all sin is an abomination before God.

But we try to dice it all up and segregate it and say that fornication…sex outside of marriage…is not that bad as long as you love one another. We are trying to find ways to embrace that which God clearly says in his word are wrong. We will be under the same pressure that Daniel was under.

It’s not very politically correct or loving to say that something someone is doing is sinful before God. His point was this…is it more loving than to tell someone that what they are doing is sinful before God and face the certainty of judgment before God, or to step up and be heard in our culture that all of us need to repent before God because judgment is coming one day. What’s a more loving thing to do.

Analogy…your friend is sleeping in a burning house…but you in love don’t want to wake them up…despite the fire and their impending death if they don’t get out of the house.

Daniel was a young man of courage…who stepped up to the plate and said I am not going to defile myself. I’m not going to do what’s wrong before God. I don’t care what it’s going to cost me. I don’t care…because I know the word of God…and I can’t compromise. I know what it says…and I’m here to declare the truth.

Hey…who cares about being politically correct…let’s be right before God. Daniel knew the word of God and was determined to obey it in every situation…regardless of potential consequences. That is the kind of courage we need…in a culture that is so hell bent against God.

Daniel was determined to remain faithful…courage under fire. Romans 12:1-2 His mind was renewed…by the reading of the word.

Notice how Daniel does this…he isn’t rebellious…or have a bad attitude…or a get in your face style. Vs. 8.

He sought permission…he said I know what you are trying to accomplish. Is there another way we can do this? A way that would be pleasing to God…and pleasing to the integrity in his own heart. But he did it in a loving way.

We must approach people in authority in a respectful way. Yet…realize that you are not going to compromise.

And God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the officials.

In the book of Nehemiah it tells us that he prayed first before going to see the king…and we need to do the same. If you have a person of authority wanting you to compromise…then you need to pray for God to pave the way. The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hands of God…and God can direct it in whatever way he chooses. All that may be lacking is our prayer for God to soften their heart.

God granted Daniel compassion in the commander’s sight. The commander sympathized with Daniel…but he feared the king. But Daniel had a plan already. I know what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s see if this plan can accomplish the same goal.

Vs. 11…

God didn’t change of recognize the new names Daniel and his friends were given.

Eating the vegetables (grain) and drinking water would in no way violate God’s law. Daniel had a plan…and it was based on his dependence upon God. He knew that God would honor him if he did what was right before God.

Vs. 14…so he listened to them. Notice that Daniel’s friends were on board too. They got involved…and helped sell the program. At the end of ten days…of eating the grain and drinking water…they looked better. It was God’s rewarded their dedication. There was no way that this diet changed their life in 10 days.

They must have prayed during that ten day. But if they did not look better and were instructed to eat the king’s food…Daniel would have taken a stand. I’m sorry I still can not compromise…and you’re going to have to do whatever you are going to have to do. May God’s will be done.

But at the end of ten days…they looked better. So the overseer…continued to give them grain, vegetables and water.

Get more out of this passage than to say…I need to eat my vegetables and drink my water. The big picture…can you be a little more courageous? Am you be wholly devoted to God? Can you do what’s right before God? Can you draw a line in the sand and say…I’m not crossing that line. Because I know the word of God in my heart…and I’m not going to sin against God. His decision was made in his mind…his decision was made in his heart. His determination was based upon on his obedience to the word of God. Not to the rules of his parents. But there was a point in time where he too had to give his heart to the Lord. As does every child that grows up in a Christian home. Every individual person has to make that same decision. And then that person’s decision, their heart to wholly devoted to God…to be used by God. He trusted on the Lord.

No matter what the outcome…blessed be the name of the Lord. His dedication was rewarded in a tangible way.

At then end of the three years…they were presented before the king. Out of all of them…not one was found to be like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He found them ten times better. They were so far heads and above everyone else…it wasn’t even close.

When people see your life, do they see someone whose life is heads and shoulders taller than the rest of the culture in which we live? Ten times better than the norm? An employee ten times better than everyone else they’ve every seen? A student ten times better than as far as attitude and convictions and dedication to doing what’s right? Ten times better on the atheletic field? As far as their attitude or respect for authority, dedication and willingness to work hard…to be the best they can be…to excel in what they do? When they see your life do they see someone so far ahead of everyone else that they are dying to know why? That is the audience we get with people around us when we take a stand for the Lord. When we are dedicated to him…wholly devoted to him. When we know the word of God in our heart. When we know what compromise is…when we recognize it for what it is. A subtle temptation…a subtle package all dressed up nice and neat and ready to be handed to us on a silver platter and we say no. No…I’ll have none of that. Men and women who have dedication and determination to know the will of God even when they are away from home on a business trip or away at college…or when they are somewhere where no one knows who they are. They are still determined to do what’s right before God. Is that what they see in your life? God honors that. But what is really honoring in the life of Daniel is real simple…and it’s called courage. He rewards courage. God reward courageous people. Does it mean we will never be persecuted or made to look the fool? Absolutely not. If people have the opportunity…they will go out of their way to make you look like a fool.

What Reggie White did on national TV took a lot of courage…and it was right before God. The only thing that should matter to the people of God…is that when we stand before God one day he will say, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”.

Because one day Daniel wasn’t with these guys anymore. He wasn’t in the pressure to conform…he wasn’t in the Babylonian empire. He wasn’t there anymore. One day Daniel died…and he gave an account of his life before God. As will we too.

Do you long to hear those words? Then stop compromising and start being courageous.

You Knew

You know how God brings things into your life…at just the right time. Maybe it’s a conversation to encourage your spirit or to help build up your faith when it’s needed most.

For me…music has always been a powerful healing tool. Well tonight God brought me a song by Erin O’Donnell called, “You Knew”. This song perfectly suits what I’m currently going through.

Thank you God!

Erin O’Donnell
You Knew

Something’s tearing open in the atmosphere
A hurting that can never come undone
Someone who was here is now gone for good
And I am wondering how to carry on

But you are not surprised
You are not afraid of what I can’t get my head around
You were standing by and…


You knew what the future held
That now’s the time I have to face the thing I fear the most
And you knew that life would knock me down
But you would break my fall and get me to
the place where I could say
That although I can’t see what you do, you knew

The sky is black and time feels like it’s standing still
And I don’t think I want to see the world
All I have to lean on is what You have done
But sometimes that feels like another life

‘Cause you are not a man
That I might know your mind or how it is you’re changing me
It’s hard to understand that…

You knew what the future held
That now’s the time I have to face the thing I fear the most
And you knew that life would knock me down
But you would break my fall and get me to
the place where I could say
That although I can’t see what you do, you knew

This is not the end
You don’t leave a single thing undone
My comfort is in knowing you knew

Stand Firm…and See the Deliverance of the Lord

One of the things I’ve found most difficult, yeah even irritating, during this time of waiting is to see and feel as though some people have given up on me.

When I doubt and fear…am I giving up on God?

Do I on occasion have doubts and questions as to what God is doing…and why I have an extended delay in finding out about my desired job? You bet ya I do. But I can’t afford to remain in doubt and unbelief. And while it is my desire that my friends would stand with me in faith…when they fall away…I’m going to instead turn to the Lord.

God has been teaching me a whole heck of a lot during this time. Right now…I believe he’s teaching me to not fear…but to instead believe him, his word, and trust in his character and his love for me. That right now…I am to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.

Waiting has always been a challenge for me. I like to move forward, I like to act. I just hate waiting…especially when that wait entails or the answer is dependent upon the actions of another.

Right now…I don’t know if God will grant my prayer to be given this new job? I don’t know…all I know is that right now…my instructions are to wait.

Just recently…when I was feeling weak willed and weak in my faith…I doubted that if I was offered this job, if I would accept it. But during this waiting time…God has clarified in my mind…that yes…I do want this job and why I want it.

Might God have a different path and plan and purpose for me that he has not yet revealed? Absolutely…but right now I know only what he is showing me…and that is to stand firm and wait. No matter what…he has a different path than what I have been on. But what that plan is…God will reveal in his time.

Satan is the only one who benefits when I have fear and doubt God. Only Satan benefits when I question if God is powerful enough to answer my prayers. Only Satan benefits when I doubt God’s love for me. Only Satan benefits if I wonder does God hear me…and is he there. Only Satan benefits…when I doubt if God cares for me.

And Satan is effectively able to use my doubts and fear as an instrument of destruction in my life and the lives of those who know me. Especially those who don’t yet know Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“Oh there you are little Christian girl…and so you have to wait a while longer for answered prayer…and now you are doubting your God. He must not care for you or love you. I thought you said God was all loving? So are you telling me that God does not love you?”

“Oh Christian girl…I thought that your God was all powerful and all knowing. It seems like you don’t believe that he can handle your little problems. I thought you said your God was omnipotent? Well I guess that’s not really true now, is it?”

“Hey there Christian girl…why are you looking so glum? I remember you telling me that God is all knowing…that he is omniscient. So are you telling me…as you tremble in doubt, fear and unbelief that God doesn’t know what’s going on with you?”

“Christian girl…are you feeling all alone and deserted? I thought you had said something about God being omnipresent? So are you telling me that he is everywhere except with you in your circumstances?”

“Hey Christian girl…you talk a good talk…but when push comes to shove…you seem to shove your faith right out the door. So next time you want to witness to me on just how powerful and loving you God is…stop because I don’t want to hear it. After all…I’ve seen first hand in the lives of God’s people that they don’t really believe all that they are saying.”

So just thinking about how my doubts and fears can be used by Satan…makes me fear and tremble. If my faith fails me…it may impact a lot more people than just me.

I hate giving up…I hate letting the enemy or evil win. Not this day…not this hour…and not with me. Instead I will choose to trust in God and his word. While my circumstances don’t currently bear witness to the deliverance of the Lord…I must stand, wait and trust that I will soon see that deliverance.

In the mean time…hopefully I can be an influence for good in the lives of others…that will also face difficult circumstances. When they see how despite silence and no quick answer I trusted in God…then perhaps they too will turn to God.

I serve a risen Savior Jesus Christ. He defeated death on that cross. He is fully God and fully man. He is all knowing, he is everywhere present, he is all powerful…and he is love and motivated by love.

That same Jesus is Lord over my life…and all my circumstances. And I will choose to trust him…and look to him to be my deliverer. I will stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. I will look into his Word to encourage my heart and soul. And when I have doubts…and fears…and when I am hurting and tears fall…I will look to the Lord to comfort me, build and encourage my spirit.

Tears and sadness aren’t the same as doubt…but instead mean I can turn to the Lord for comfort when I need it. He may choose to bring others into my path to be that instrument of comfort.

So I’m claiming this promise as my own…and I look forward to seeing the deliverance of the Lord in my life.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ ” – 2 Chronicles 20:17

I’ve Learned…

Through all the stress, uncertainty, silence, and what at times feels like pure living hell, I’ve learned a lot of things. I’ve learned about God, faith, trials, doubts, life, other people and me…just to name a few things.

I’ve learned about whom I want standing with me when it comes down to crunch time.

I’ve learned that there is a time to stand and let God fight your battles. And standing can be the hardest thing of all.

I’ve learned I don’t want to go through this without prayer and the prayer support of others.

I’ve learned I don’t know what to do or how to react to people who are emotionally unavailable.

I’ve learned that hurt can sometimes leave people so damaged that they won’t reach out anymore and stop trying.

I’ve learned that there are times when you finally recognize that people won’t change and won’t step up to the plate…and there is nothing you can say or do to make a difference…and it’s time to walk away.

I’ve learned that arrogance and lack or regard for people will never generate respect.

I’ve learned that first impressions are very important…and it’s hard to dig yourself out of that hole if you are not off to a good start.

I’ve learned the critical importance of having a good name and character…because not only will you stand before man, but will one day stand before God.

I’ve learned that your words don’t matter when they are not backed up with actions…that you need to walk the talk…and not just give it lip service.

I’ve learned just talking about what you are feeling and going through helps. Not dwelling on it without end…but letting it out so you can let it go.

I’ve learned that real men can handle few tears…even when it make them feel real uncomfortable and helpless.

I’ve learned that when you see a need…that it is important for you to do the right thing and help…even when not asked to do so. It’s a reflection of your character…and helps others to know they matter.

I’ve learned of the critical importance of respect…respect for leaders, others, and yourself.

I’ve learned that hard times and difficult times…make you appreciate that which is very precious. That you may not recognize it as such during ordinary days and times.

I’ve learned the importance of giving words encouragement and receiving them too.

I’ve learned I wished I could pick up the phone and call those who have gone before me to heaven. That I desire to hear their words of encouragement or advice on how to handle my tribulations…from Hugo, Neil and Chuck.

I’ve learned that you’d better say words of thanks and I love you today…because you don’t know if you’ll have that opportunity tomorrow.

I’ve learned that there is a right way to treat people…and it’s never right to do the wrong thing. Even if you have the best of intentions.

I’ve learned the importance and difference that feeling love and appreciated can make in your life. And you in turn…must pass that along to others.

I’ve learned that the bigger man is the one that overlooks an offence, mends fences and moves on.

I’ve learned that weak leaders surround themselves with people who won’t challenge them or disagree…because they either fear them or are riding the gravy train.

I’ve leaned that you will fail when you only surround yourself with yes men.

I’ve learned you can walk away with a boat load of money…but still be a failure.

I’ve learned that your failures can greatly and negatively impact others.

I’ve learned that a real man is able will choose not to profit when he fails. But a weak and little man will take the money and run.

I’ve learned that leaders frequently don’t have a good solid moral character that guides them in everyday life.

I’ve learned that if you have to slink away in the dark of night…that probably doesn’t speak too well of you.

I’ve learned that when you cease to have outside accountability and measurement of your success…you will fail.

I’ve learned that you may have a heart as big as all outdoors and promise the world…but when you fail to deliver…your words become vapid.

I’ve learned the importance of reaching out to others and refocus when you are having moments of doubt.

I’ve learned…I’d better be willing to get up when I fall…and try again, again and again.

I’ve learned…I’d better look to God and not man if I want my faith to remain strong.

I’ve learned…and I’m sure God has many more lessons in store…and I’d better have the ears to hear and a heart open and willing to listen.

One of the best things…

One of my favorite things…a benefit about this whole blogging thing is when you go to your favorite sites to see what’s new, explore and keep up to date with your blogger buds.

One of my favorite sites is Debra’s at As I See It Now. Debra is very open and transparent…she shares her life…the good, the bad and the ups and downs.

I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way…because I also treasure reading other peoples comments on Debra’s articles. In doing so…I discover more great sites. I guess good people…attract like minded folks.

Well…I have a couple of new discoveries today…that I will be adding to my favorites and linking to…Adrienne’s website Journeying…By Grace Alone and Dianne’s at Unfinished Work. I feel like I’ve found more kindred souls. I’m having fun as I explore their sites.

Welcome to hell…step right in!

I awoke to the news today,
That evil personified had met his maker.

Today Al Zarqawi,
Was welcomed to the gates of hell.

Al, please meet your torturers,
They will be with you for eternity.

Yes…the temperature it a little hot,
Fear not…it will get worse.

Oh, those screams you hear,
Your voice will soon be added to them.

Take a good look around,
This is the last you will ever see of another soul.

Al Zarqawi,
Is that you trembling?

Tell me,
Do you think Nick Berg trembled at your hand?

Starting to sink in now?
A little too late to realize you’ve got it all wrong.

Don’t be getting weak kneed on me now,
After all, this will just last…for eternity.

Fret not…there is still plenty of room,
For all your friends.

See that spot…specially prepared for Osama,
He’ll be joining us soon.

Mr. Al Zarqawi,
It will be my pleasure to serve you justice for eternity.

What’s the matter…don’t you want to enter in?
Boys, “Grab him”.

Make no mistake,
You will enter in, it’s not optional.

Words Left Unspoken…

Desperation I fear is my lot,
Tempted to utter words,
Best left unspoken.

You failed me…
Where were you…
Why didn’t you fight for me?

My heart and mind,
I don’t understand!

Trust evades me,
Truly I am.

My faith,
My hope,
Where are you now?

Broad shoulders,
Carry a load,
I fear I’m only adding to.

My mind knows the truth,
My eyes have seen daily,
My ears have heard your words.

How do I bridge the gap?
Bring heart and mind in sync?
My desire…trust, hope and faith.

Have you ever doubted someone…whose only aim is do the right thing and help you? And you know your doubts and wobbly faith…adds to their burdens and an already heavy load? Sometimes…I don’t know the answer…or how to make that leap of faith. But I attempt to disarm its hold over me…by speaking the truth. Right now…somehow I need to make the connection between my heart and my mind. My lack of trust…is a reflection solely on me.

I’m sorry!

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

As I returned from my recent trip to Rhode Island…the trip I affectionately refer to as “the trip from HE double toothpicks”…my trip had the perfect ending.

It was bad from beginning to end…with a brief interlude of four hours where things went seemingly well. Earlier I wrote a lengthy piece about this blessed trip…but I left off the bookend of my adventure.

Following two days in which obstacle and opposition came at me relentlessly…I was totally exhausted, drained and spent. It was all I could do to muster the strength to find my way to my car, load my luggage and head home.

With the car door still open, I prepared to turn on the ignition…I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a grandmother with her grandson in tow. It was not so much the sight of them caught my attention but instead the ugly words that spewed forth from her mouth.

She was stating loudly, not only her disagreement and opposition to my car’s bumper stickers…but also proclaimed, “Now that is SICK!” Not just once…but repeatedly and very loudly.

I have several bumper stickers on my car…any one of which she may have been voicing her opposition to. It could be either of my Bush bumper stickers left over from 2004. Or perhaps it was my Support the Troops bumper sticker.

But my money says it was the bumper sticker I had specially created. One that was intended to address those persons who are naïve…so much so that they think that persons who crash planes filled with human beings into buildings should be understood instead of defeated. People who think…that the terrorists made that horrific choice because they came from impoverished backgrounds. Persons who refused to call Al Zarkawi evil when he sawed off the head of a very living Nick Burg.

People who think the greater evil is war…and not Naziaism, Communism, Fascism or Totalitarianism…all of which left countless millions dead in their wake. Or better yet…they are in agreement with Al Gore who said that global warming poses the greatest threat these days.

So while this lady might believe that I am sick in thinking there comes a time when war is indeed an answer…I am no longer deluded by naiveté. I am not so naïve to deny true evil…and know that it must be defeated.

When I heard her words…I wanted to say, “Lady, after everything I’ve been through in the last two days…what you are saying means nothing.” But I was restrained and reminded myself that her ugly comments were more of a reflection on her, not me.

The sad thing was that her grandson was hearing her ugly words…and asked about what she was saying and why. What came to mind was the song from South Pacific “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught”.

Something about her attitude and words gave me the impression she wasn’t exactly walking a spirit of peace or tolerance.

As I drove away…I glanced at her car and saw her bumper sticker…a peace symbol.

Eight hours in Newark…or How God met me in Providence

To be more accurate…I should entitle this 8 ½ hours in Newark. There are many alternate titles that I could have entitled this piece:

  • You couldn’t make this up if you tried!
  • It just doesn’t get better than this…or is that worse?
  • The importance of keeping a sense of humor!
  • You’d just better laugh!
  • Peace in the midst of a day from HE double toothpicks!
  • Don’t try this without prayer!
  • Sometimes even a day hemmed in prayer unravels…but you won’t!

When you read this adventure…you’ll be saying, “Oh come on Susan…stop exaggerating.” But I tell you…it’s all true. Actually the adventure continues as I write this on my journey home.

If I was really smart…I would try to get some sleep, but for the moment sleep evades me. Why I don’t know. I’m operating on two hours sleep today…and four hours from the night before. I guess I give a big thumbs up to adrenaline.

But if I said that…I would be failing to give credit to God who sustained me in a day or two that felt as if all hell was coming against me. Yet…from the beginning and even all through it…I’ve had a peace. You’ve heard the phrase “peace that passes all understanding”. And indeed it does defy my imagination the peace that I’ve felt in the midst of these last two days.

It started yesterday morning…June 1st, when my alarm went off at 4:00 AM. I normally get up that early…so that is nothing new. But usually it’s done on more than four hours sleep.

Four hours only because I received a call on Wednesday morning that I had been hoping for…waiting for…that I was to come out to Woonsocket, Rhode Island for an interview. That last minute notice kind of threw my day off course from what I had originally planned.

Immediately, I knew I had to make a trip to the mall to go get something to wear. You see…my fashion advisor Dean was quite insistent that I go get a suit so that I would look professional and sharp. Not to say I dress like a slouch…but I wanted to look spiffy.

So I was off and running to the mall. A few shops later…I finally found something that not only looked professional…but in which I felt comfortable. With that task done…I returned to work to finish up some work that had a non negotiable deadline.

By time I got home, took care of packing and a few domestic chores…it was midnight. I was numb…I closed my eyes and was sound asleep until the alarm rang at 4 AM.

I slipped out of bed and onto my knees to utter a prayer. I’m not sure that it was even comprehensible to human ears. But thankfully God knows the human heart and the Holy Spirit was able to translate it for me.

Then I was off and running getting ready for my day. I walked out of my door…a few minutes behind schedule that day…but made good time and arrived at the check in counter about 6:15 AM.

Feeling grateful to be there early…I took that as a good sign. But I guess I learned on this trip…that may not be a good thing to do.

My hope that this trip would go smoothly was short lived…because when I got up to the ticket counter for my boarding pass…I was advised that my ticket had been cancelled. Since it was booked on my behalf…I was on the phone to try and find out what went awry. After a half hour on the phone…I was still uncertain if the airline or the travel agency had messed up. Either way…my ticket had been cancelled…and the clock was ticking. My plane was taking off in 45 minutes.

As the deadline was fast approaching…Julia from Continental called my name and said that my ticket was now booked. She quickly processed me…and I was off and running to the security checkpoint. This was the first time since 911 I was flying. I was more apprehensive over flying than about the job interview.

Since I was unfamiliar with this whole security process…I plead ignorance. I was processed quickly and without incident.

Soon we were given the okay to board the plane. Just as I was about to step on to the plane…they said that all carry on luggage would have to be put into the baggage compartment…the overhead bins were full. Gee wiz…that was not good news. I did the carry on baggage to ensure that I would have what I needed for my trip. I reluctantly surrendered my suitcase into the care to the airline personnel.

As I wound my way back to find my seat I discovered that aisle 25 was the last row in the plane. I was soon to discover just how uncomfortable it was. After that experience…I can say with certainty…I don’t want to be a sardine.

But at least my seat companions were pleasant folks. A nice older couple on their way to a 50th high school class reunion. The wife was very sweet and her hubby a bit of a curmudgeon. Five hours later…we arrived at the Newark airport…or to be more accurate…we arrived on the tarmac. Then we proceeded to wait and wait some more. As the minutes ticket by, my hopes of catching the connecting flight to Rhode Island faded.

I didn’t quite understand why we had to wait as jet after jet passed by to take off. After all…why did we have to wait? Couldn’t we just take turns? About 45 minutes later as a jet getting ready to take off was staring us in the face…we were then permitted to taxi to the terminal.

I breathed a sigh of relief and bolted from my seat in anticipation of the door being opened. I was going to give it my best shot to try and make that connecting flight. After all our delay was due to the weather…so it seemed reasonable that they too were delayed.

As fellow passengers and I waited…we were advised that the airport had just called a supervisor to bring the gate up to the plane so passengers could exit. They were short staffed and no help was available due to the weather conditions.

Patience is a virtue…and that day…God was working to develop the virtue of patience in me…and maybe working on that trust thing too.

Despite concerns about my luggage nagging my mind…I moved quickly to the gate of my connecting flight. Or so I thought. As I made the jaunt over to the next flight…I discovered just how bit the Newark Airport is. I normally a quick walker…but even this was a challenge. Especially with the thought that I’d better get moving if I had any chance of making my flight. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I better give up the hope of making that flight…since nary a passenger was to be seen at the Continental gate. As it turned out…the flight had been cancelled altogether.

Trying to keep positive…I thought “Well…I guess I’d better catch the next flight.” All the while the nagging thought was going through my head…what if thee are no more connecting flights going to Providence tonight. Especially in this weather.

After finding the right counter…I was assured that the next flight was scheduled to leave about 7:30 and I was grateful to be ticketed. Just between you and me…the gentleman helping me didn’t seem too happy in his job. Customers…and taking care of their concerns appeared to be a burden. I was tempted to suggest he make a career change…or perhaps….seek some medications to help with that mood thing. But being that this suggestion would likely not get me on the next flight…I restrained myself.

The time was now well after 6 PM and I decided it was advisable to eat since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. After finding something familiar…Sabarro’s Pizza…I sat down at the only available table across from a pilot who was talking on his cell phone. As I ate my pizza and salad…I tried not to listen to his conversation. He was talking finances with his wife…or ex-wife. It seemed odd that someone was having a very personal and private conversation in a very public place for anyone to overhear. But in other respects…it didn’t really matter because we were all going our own way…and would likely never see one another again.

Anyway….I my mind was preoccupied with thoughts about how this blessed trip would work out…and how I hoped to do well on my interview the next morning.

As I strolled through the airport…I got my exercise and worked off some of my nervous energy. As I passed a message board…I discovered that my connecting flight was delayed an hour. I also discovered that I had zero battery power on my cell phone.

One of the lessons I learned…hindsight being 20/20…is to turn of your cell phone when in flight…not just silence all calls. Instead…the phone just kept trying to find available signals during my flight…and drained that battery down to nothing.

Time for a quick stop at the electronics store at the airport to get a battery booster. Not to say I doubted the Continental’s ability to get me my luggage (okay well maybe I did)…but I thought it advisable to pick up an extra phone charger while I was at it. Sometimes I think I should have been born in Missouri since my motto is “Show me!” I’ll believe it when I see it.

One call I placed was to my boss to advise him that he might have to run interference for me. Apologize and explain that I would be showing up for my job interview in jeans, with no make-up and looking a lot less than spiffy.

As the clock ticked away…and the plane was delayed again…I made several more treks around the terminal. I decided it best if I just chilled out…laughed and was amazed at the peace I had. On one of those jaunts…I swung by Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream…only to find out that they had just closed. I was a bit disappointed since I looking forward to this treat for all the grief I was going through. On to plan B…in a day filled with disappointment and unplanned schedule changes.

As I moved on to McDonald’s…I encountered the smiling face of a gentleman in transit from North Carolina. As we exchanged pleasantries…I realized I would have missed this moment if I had been focused on the negative aspects of the adventure gone wrong.

I felt as if I was about to drop with exhaustion and decided to go to my gate and rest…and wait. During my wait…the airport had experienced a power outage…due to weather related conditions…and now the departure time was pushed back to 10:30 PM. Yeah, right….want to bet? You know the saying…if I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.

But thankfully…I don’t operate on luck. My hope is in God…not luck as this seemingly endless day and night would reveal.

At least my wait time was productive…and I continued to write the second installment of my devotional on the book of Daniel.

As I was writing away… some gentlemen nearby were talking golf. From the looks of their packages and conversation…it appeared that they had just returned from a golfing trip to Scotland. My ears perked up when they started talking about CVS and Tom Ryan. I could not contain myself and inquired if they worked for CVS. But they said not…they lived in Rhode Island.

Anxious to get this show on the road when our connecting flight finally arrived…I tried to assure the Continental personnel that we passengers wouldn’t care too much if the plane didn’t look pristine. After all…we just wanted to catch our flight to our destination.

But she was not persuaded and we were finally allowed to board our plane after 11:30 PM. I say board the plane and not take off…because after we boarded our plane…we waited and waited. And just for the heck of it…we waited some more. I don’t even remember how many planes were ahead of us in taking off….20 or 30.

But during this time…God provided. He sent my seat mate Chris…who turned out to be a real treat and delight. Chris is very friendly and a people person…who likes to chat. After a day of anonymous interaction with folks…this was a pleasant surprise.

Chris was ever so easy to talk to…kind of an open book. He’s 33 years old…good old Irish Catholic who reminded me of my Boston boys…Terry, Steve and Joe. There is just something about those Boston boys that is really quite disarming, attractive and irresistible. Did I ever tell you I like those Irish Boston boys?

By his own admission…Chris acknowledged that he wiled away his wait time at a bar. He had a jolly good time…and had consumed a few drinks. At times…Chris’ language was that of a salty sea dog…but not over the top. But he was not the first Boston boy to utter a few of those choice four letter words in my presence.

Chris is a safety manager for a construction firm…and we exchanged some general job information about safety and loss prevention. (Jim…I picked up a good safety reminder for you to share with associates to remind them on the importance of good safety practices.)

So while the wait was not part of my plans…it was on God’s agenda. Chris helped make what could have easily been an unpleasant experience, not only bearable…but fun.

Not even sure what time we finally got in the air. But I got to the car rental place in Providence at 2:30 AM. Amazingly enough…my baggage arrived on my flight and was waiting for me. Not sure I would have given you any money on that bet.

After getting the car keys from Avis…the day of complications and hindrances continued much to my dismay and frustration. As I searched for the assigned car…no car was found in the designated space…nor any car with said license plate nearby. So back to Avis I went and a gentleman was able to help me locate the car.

Thankful to finally have my car…I pulled out my Mapquest instructions as I prepared to head to the hotel for much needed rest.

Now mind you…I drive an ordinary car in real life. The rental…came with all the bells and whistles. There are times I feel like I’m blonde for a reason. After fiddling with all the buttons and knobs…I was still unable to move the driver’s seat forward. Exhausted, tired and numb…I got creative and stuffed my sweatshirt behind my back to enable me to touch the gas and brake.

With that…I was on the road. As I pulled out of the garage I was immediately met with rain and patches of fog. Since I had just reviewed the instructions on how to get to the hotel…I felt confident that I would get there with ease. I was soon to learn…that wasn’t the case.

For those of you who are rookies to Rhode Island…you will quickly learn that their highways and roadways frequently have two names. For example…Douglas Pike is also known as RI-7 N or Exit 8B. For a California girl…this was more than a little confusing…and that might explain why I got so hopelessly lost that three times I had to stop and ask for directions. (Note to city planners…just go with one name for your streets and highways.)

Each time I stopped to ask for directions…God graciously brought folks into my path that were able to point me in the right direction. For that I am most grateful. For those of you laughing at my mishaps right about now…knock it off….that means you Robert, Louis, Joe and Doug!

Actually after the entire day gone wrong…this was the worst, most lonely and scary part of my trip. Here I was in a strange place. It was pitch dark…raining and foggy. I didn’t know east from west or north from south. The highways had at least two names…and it was after three o’clock in the morning. In other words…not at lot of folks around or options on getting help. I did make a phone call…but the person was likely sound asleep and ended hanging up on me. I almost called one of my Boston boys who frequently stays up late…but couldn’t make myself dial the phone to ask for help.

After my third stop to ask for directions…I was finally close to the hotel. They told me to make a left…and at the first light…turn right. Thankfully the hotel was just down the street. I was never so glad to see a hotel in all my life. Actually I passed it up the first time…but was able to make a U-turn and pulled in and parked.

Dragging myself into the lobby, I had to awaken the clerk who appeared to be dozing off. With key in hand…I opened my door and the reality of rest was just a few steps away. I barely took off my make up before I fell into bed. Actually I had the presence of mind to set the alarm and get my clothes ready for the next day. With the basics taken care of…I fell into bed…and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Before I knew it…the alarm went off…and it was six AM. I slipped out of bed and onto my knees to whisper a brief prayer of thanks for God’s hand of protection and deliverance for the day before. And to prepare me for my upcoming interview.

As the water poured over me…I started to feel human again…albeit in need of some caffeine. Yet I needed to check out and make sure I was at my destination, plenty ahead of time. With my disastrous driving experience the night before…I thought it only prudent that leave early. With soda in hand…and simplified instructions from the hotel…I was on my way to the office for my much anticipated interview.

My interview lasted about four hours and I met with five different people. The time passed in a flash…and I felt like it went well…but time will tell. I was advised it will be a few more weeks before a decision is made.

Discouraged at the prospect of more waiting…I contemplated why God had brought this trial into my life. What was he trying to teach me…in what area is he trying to help me grow? I don’t know.

Sylvia in a recent e-mail said that God is trying to teach me patience. I guess in part he is doing that…but I also wonder if he has other things he is working out that is part of his bigger plan for me. I don’t know. I guess it’s one of those things…I’ll see more clearly in hindsight.

But I do know that I gave this interview my all. I gave it my best shot in very adverse circumstances. I was amazed at the good attitude and peace I had in the midst of continued trial and testing. Which can solely be attributed to God’s presence and help in my time of trouble.

During this time of testing has God been working on my heart? Working to make me trust him? In trial and tribulation turn to him…even if I don’t understand it? Not to rush ahead of him…or try and manipulate circumstances and get in his way?

I walked away from the interview knowing that I gave it my all…and I gave it my best. Now the rest is not in my hands.

With simplified instructions in hand…I headed to the airport. Perhaps it was instructions…or the day light hours…or the fact I had driven the roadways the night before…but it was much easier finding my way to the airport. I did have to circle the airport a couple of times to be in the correct lane to return my rented car. But at least now…I was on my way back home. Thank God!

Wanting to make sure there were no snags I took care of getting my boarding pass first. Then I headed over to security. Being that I’m about as far away from the description of a terrorist as you can find…I thought it amusing that I was selected for a “full screening”. Actually the lady was very pleasant and friendly. She made what could be an uncomfortable and stressful thing…easy. She put me at ease right away by giving me clear and specific instructions on what she would be doing. She was a definite people person and freely shared about herself. Which I guess kind of makes things a little easier as this person riffles through your personal belongings.

Once I was through the screening process…I headed over to the restroom and slipped into my jeans so I would be comfortable for my ride home.

I had just enough time to grab a half a sandwich…my first meal of the day and make a call to my boss. Soon it was time to board the plane. This time…I was flying United…and what a difference. While it was a small plane…it was comfortable…and I didn’t feel like a sardine this time around.

A pleasant gentleman was my seatmate. Across the aisle was a lady traveling with her puppy dog…the cutest West Highland Terrier only three months old. Not a whimper or a whine from that litter feller. The time passed quickly…and before long we arrived at O’Hare. It took a while before we pulled up to the terminal…making the trek to my connecting flight a challenge.

O’Hare is a huge airport. You may be in one section of the airport and your connection in an entirely different area. The way to get there…a shuttle across the tarmac…I barely made the shuttle…and ran to make sure I was on that connecting flight home.

Another United flight…and I felt like I died and went to heaven. I had an aisle seat…and a row all to myself. As I found my row…a kindly gentleman offered to help stow my baggage in the bin above me. Truly an answer to prayer.

Exhausted…but still sleep evaded me. So…I took pen to paper to finish recording this journey.

In some respects I feel as if I had the gates of hell flung against me in the last two days. And I’m still standing…but not on my own power. It is through God’s strengthening hand, power and protection that I am here.

My immediate future remains uncertain. At times I feel as if I can wait patiently…and other times…I feel most desperate for an answer. But mostly…I’m okay.

I’m okay because God met me in Orange County when I needed his help to get this trip on the road. I’m okay because God met me and walked with me during the seemingly endless hours I spend at the Newark Airport. I’m okay because God met me in Providence. He provided for my need by delivering my luggage. And he was with me during a long, dark, lonely night…bringing people into my paths that extended kindness and mercy to me when I needed it most. I’m okay…because God showed me kindness at the end of my journal…by providing a man to help me when I was beyond exhaustion. I’m okay…because I will soon be home.

Like Dorothy…I say, “There’s no place like home.” If only I could have clicked my ruby slippers when I need them most.

And I’m okay…because while I may not know my immediate future…I know this is not my final destination. One day…I will go to my real home, which even now Jesus is preparing for me.

Tired, drained, exhausted and spent…but grateful and thankful to God.

Kindred Prayer Warriors…than you for your payers. God did answer them in abundance and preserved me in my hours of need and victoriously brought me through. I am most grateful and humbled at your support.