Five Minute Friday – Changes In the Last Year

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five MinuteFriday.  Even though I’m a day late, I wanted to take this week’s writing challenge.
Recently I was asked the question, “What has changed in your life over the past year?” 
I was hard pressed to come up with an answer.  At first glance it seemed as though nothing had really changed.  But upon closer examination, there were many things that had changed.
There has been the passing of many dear friends who died.  For those that were Christians, I feel a peace and look forward to the day in which I will once again be reunited with them.  For those who were unbelievers or those I don’t know if they received Christ, I think about them often and wonder where they are now?  Heaven or hell?  There is one friend in particular I wish I had been bolder earlier on and made clear the Gospel message of sin, repentance and salvation is found in no other name than Jesus Christ. 
One of the changes for good is at the beginning of the year I started keeping a daily journal.  I write in it at the beginning of my day before I start reading a Bible chapter and sometimes I add to it with scripture verses that really stand out that day.  Sometimes it’s short and I usually start out saying, “Good morning Lord”.  Other times…it’s pleading “Help me Lord!!!” and bringing my situation or the concerns of others before Him. 
Keeping a journal has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, but never, ever kept it up.  I’d start it but within a few days I stopped.  I’d stop because it wasn’t what I thought it should be, filled with eloquent prayers and words of wisdom. 
But then earlier this year I had the opportunity to hear Jennifer Barrick and herparents Andy and Linda speak.  They shared journal entries and prayers that Jen had written prior to their devastating car accident and after.  Hearing their story and being personally blessed by their faith recorded and preserved in Jen’s journals inspired me to continue my journal.
It’s exciting to write something that day, only to see the Lord work in that situation.  It’s heartening to know that our God sees and hears me and answers my prayers.  To know that He wants to have a personal ongoing relationship and He cares for me is what brings me back to that journal each day. 
If you would like to participate in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday Challengehead over to her website “Tales from a Gypsy Mama”.  Be sure to read some of the entries from other writers.  I can promise you that you will be blessed.

The Winds of Change

This week the infamous Santa Ana winds were blowing on Wednesday.  Whenever the winds blow hard the phrase “the winds of change” comes to mind and probably even more so this week because we anticipated that there might be changes coming down the pike at work.

With the economy continuing to tank and folks losing their jobs and remaining out of work for extended periods of time…I always have in the back of my mind the possibility that a work layoff could be in my future.  Each day, it makes me so grateful to have a job…and not take it for granted.  It reminds me that every good and perfect gift, employment and the ability to perform the work, is a gift from my heavenly Father above.  I’m also mindful to be thankful for today what God has given me and try to be faithful through His power and strength. 

While we anticipated the strong possibility of changes coming at work…we didn’t know exactly when, who or how many folks might be effected.  I was praying in the weeks and days leading up to this time and I’m so grateful that God gave me such a sense of peace regarding my work situation.  I had peace with the thought that I might be let go and I gratitude if I was permitted to keep my job.

Thankfully work has been very busy, so there wasn’t any time to waste being preoccupied with thoughts of “what if”.  Instead all of us were working hard to keep up.   

When praying about work, I found that my will was fully submitted to God’s will for the situation.  This time around I wasn’t dictating to God what I thought was the best outcome.  I had been through similar circumstances four years ago and handled it much differently.  But this time…I was absolutely at peace with whatever happened.  God had indeed given me the peace that passes all understanding.  My husband Chris was praying that by God’s mercy my job might be spared so that we would continue to be able to meet our financial obligations without undue stress.  However, I continued to pray for God’s will to be done.  It almost felt like if I prayed that my job would be spared, I was in essence praying for my co-workers to lose their jobs.  So instead, I prayed for God’s will to be done. 

I praise God for the peace that He gave me…absolutely trusting in His will and plan.  I was confident that God knows my future and my friends and co-workers future…and He has a good and perfect plan for each our lives that He is working out.  I may not always understand why God permits certain circumstances…but in heaven it will all be made clear.

While I anticipated changes…I didn’t know the exact day they would hit.  Just in case I would be let go, I ordered my prescriptions while I still had a job and insurance coverage. 

This week that fateful day came…a little earlier than I expected.  It was a hard day as people whom I consider friends were laid off.  It didn’t seem to make any sense who was laid off because I knew the great work they did and the positive attitude they brought to work every day.  It was a hard and sad day. 

When the dust started to settle, I went to lunch and called Chris. I told him that it had been a very hard and ugly day, but that his prayers had been answered.  At the end of the day…I still had a job.

A number of folks talked about having “survivor’s guilt” and not understanding why good people were let go when others still had jobs.  I guess to some degree I felt that way.

I’m certain with the new responsibilities that I will have due to the recent layoffs, it will cause me to depend upon God even more.  There is no way that I could manage it on my own strength and might.

When I pray each day…there has been an ongoing list of people whom I’ve been praying for regarding their employment situation.  Now my prayer list has greatly expanded.  But I know my God is faithful.  He is merciful and pours out His loving kindness on each of us.  I pray that the God of all comfort will draw each of these people near and reveal Himself as Jehovah Jira the God who provides for all our needs.

Things won’t be the same at work and I’m already missing the people I worked with each day.  Oh Lord…cause me to depend upon You more, be filled with gratitude and faithful in prayer. 

5/22/07 At the End of the Day…Change is in the Wind

First I’d like to say thank you to Kim Beringer…my friend…and my encourager. What a wonderful thing to be known as…an encourager. Indeed she is that…and more. I’ve known Kim for a number of years now. When I reflect upon Kim what strikes me is that she is so very real in her faith and how she views life. Her faith runs deep…and it is a part of her. She doesn’t expect people or situations to be perfect…yet she always seeks to bring something to the table and make it better. Never will you hear a word gossip from her…but you will hear a tale of good that somebody’s done. She looks on the bright side of things…but doesn’t deny the hurt. She strikes a perfect pitch. Kim is my Yenta…and continues to encourage me in my desire to be married. Kim always shares a word of encouragement about my writing. I am most grateful to you dear one.

That day I was standing at the copier…about the last thing I expected was to see his face. After all he had left the company five years ago. I don’t remember him coming back to the building since then. Oh there was the occasional lunch and phone calls…but I never would have expected to seem him back here. In fact he and the family had just moved to North Carolina. Maybe that explains my surprise at seeing Terry Sullivan. But that doesn’t necessarily explain my tears.

I was shocked to seem him and felt like I was dreaming…even as I hugged him. He asked how I was…that’s when I started to tear up. I couldn’t hide it and I couldn’t explain it. Terry was passing through and just came in to say “hi”.

I think I was just overwhelmed with emotions…it made the losses of the past year seem all the more poignant. Terry asked how I was…and I said “I’m doing okay” and yet I cried.

Terry had been my boss for a number of years. Actually I remember him when he was but a young pup, up and coming…who went on to greatly prosper in his career. The thing I liked best about working with Terry…he’s a no nonsense kick butt…get things done kind of guy. Both for himself…and the team that he led. Terry was refreshing to work with…and he cared about people…and had a lot of courage. Seeing Terry…reminded me of how much I loved that which I had lost.

The past year has been a difficult one. Some ups and downs…an emotional roller coaster. Times when I let my faith fail me. It failed me when I got my eyes off Jesus and instead focused on me and my circumstances. But it was also a time to grow and ease into a place that I didn’t want to be planted. Even in the midst of that unplanned and undesired change…God brought people into my path…that made a difference for good. Without those people…I’m not sure how I would have made it through some very dark days. God used people to make a difference…a difference for good.

In short time we will be moving to a new location…the final step of being bought out will finally come to fruition. I will be leaving a building that I’ve been at for I don’t know how many years now…at least seven…maybe more.

I feel bittersweet about this. I will miss some of the folks that will remain with our old company. In some respects…I’ll just be glad to be done with it and have fresh start. The building holds so many memories…mostly good ones. But it’s kind of like having good memories of a wonderful marriage…only to have your spouse leave you. You are grateful for the good times…but thinking about them now only serves to bring you pain.

I had a job that I absolutely loved for so very long…and I’m grateful. I gave it my all…quality work…and continuing to improve was paramount with me. I wanted to continue to grow and better myself. I kept years and years of great records. Data that I had believed could be used to make the department and the company better.

But that all came to a screeching halt when we got word that the company had been sold. Instead now I was making back up discs of data…and sending away, throwing away pile, after pile, after pile…of my work. The work that I thought to be so very important…all of a sudden it was irrelevant. The time spent to make sure a report was accurate and picture perfect was now in trash bin. The work I had done…the goals I had came to naught.

I don’t think I realized it then…but after a year…I think I understand…it’s about the people. People who are loved by God and created in His image.

Don’t get me wrong. No matter what job I have…I’ll give I my all. I’ll work hard and give you my best. But at the end of the game…that work will one day just end up in a heap, in a pile of trash. What’s important…what matters is the people. If I get that wrong…if I’ve messed that up…then I’ve really blown it.

The job I had before I loved and was meaningful to me. I never, ever, wanted…to have “just a job”. But even now as I work…and reports that seem so critical and are needed yesterday…I’m cognizant…and at times overwhelmed…about how meaningless it is.

Recently I was talking with Beth at Bible Study Fellowship. Beth had just started a new job and was saying she liked it…that she found the work meaningful. She likes being able to do paperwork…it suited her and she felt like she was making a difference. I didn’t say anything…because I understand what that feels like. It’s nice when we have work that suits our skills, talents and abilities. But make no mistake…the work itself…at the end of the day will have no lasting value.

What’s it about? It’s about people. It’s about fulfilling God’s greatest commandment…to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength…and love my neighbor as myself. People are of eternal value precisely because they were created in the image of God. The means by which we interact with them may be through our work. That is the avenue that God may use…and if He throws in a job we like…so much the better. But it’s not necessarily the work in and of itself. Of course there are exceptions…perhaps in the medical profession or law enforcement…and of course the ministry. But what’s the focus? People!

As a Christian…I must be a good worker. Someone who does outstanding work…so that I may bring glory, honor and praise to my Savior Christ Jesus. It’s also a means by which I may be given credibility…and build relationships. So when that time comes to be able to witness to them with the Gospel message…so that the seed of the Word of God may fall on good soil. Or it may be building relationships…so when difficult times come…I can be there because we have a relationship already in place and they know I care.

It’s about the people. They may think they need this report or that report…but really it’s about building relationships with people. People…not companies…are of eternal value.

We continue to have more and more changes. Even as we plan our move and pack boxes…more people have announced they are retiring or are leaving the company. People that I have known for years and years. Before I would have felt much sadder at their parting…but this year I almost feel numb…and tell them “good for you”. I think it’s a self defense…that way when they leave…it hurts a little less.

Well I say all that only to add that I’ve put in a bid for job within the company. I think I might like it…but don’t know for sure. It seems like God is opening doors. But at the same time…I feel absolutely at peace even if I don’t get the job…which is a pleasant surprise. After last year…and feeling absolutely torn up when I failed to get the job I wanted…I feel at peace and am trusting God in this one. If I get it great…if I don’t that’s okay too.

I feel a change in the wind…and I pause and feel like I’m putting my face into the wind. I contemplate and wonder…what would it be like to go into the ministry? Into a job where I was doing work of eternal or lasting value? Would I find it more meaningful…knowing my work was impacting the kingdom of God?

I guess in some respects…all work can impact the kingdom of God. Either for good or bad. Will I choose to be mindful of the truly important things? Will my focus be on that which is of eternal value…the souls of men and the Word of God? It can be my focus right now…will it be?