I Blog For Books

20 March 2009

This Day In History

In 1965, intimidation and discrimination were rampant in Alabama. More than half the city of Selma was prevented from registering to vote. More than 600 demonstrators marched to Montgomery to protest , and were brutally attacked on Sunday, March 7, 1965. A protest march was organized by the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His march did not have federal judicial approval, however, and he turned the marchers around rather than march without this approval.

When an Alabama federal judge ruled on March 18 that the march could go ahead, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisors were concerned for the safety of the demonstrators. The biggest obstacle in their way? Alabama governor George C. Wallace. Governor Wallace was reluctant to order the national guard to action and utilize state funds for the purpose of protection. He promised President Johnson (in phone calls recorded by the White House) that he would call out the troops to maintain order, then turned around and refused to do so, calling on Johnson to instead activate federal troops. On this day in history, 1965, President Johnson notified Governor Wallace that he would use federal authority to call up the Alabama National Guard. This clash between Johnson and Wallace was a major turning point in the civil rights movement. President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in August 1965.

When the civil rights movement was in the news, I was a year old. The changes in our country, even during the short span thus far of my lifetime, have been amazing. Many things have come to pass, both good and bad. From the civil rights movement of the 60s, to the election of President Obama in the fall of 2008, America has come almost full circle. As a nation, we have so much to be proud of, yet so much to continue to work toward.

It seems to me that there is a disturbing trend today, and there are those who would have us remove all mention of God. The statement made by former president Ronald Reagan is so true: "If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." There are those who would have the phrase "In God We Trust" removed from our money. Please do not be a part of the silent majority when it comes to God and country! You can search and find many statements, comments, and quotes from a variety of Americans about the importance of God. Read the words of Thomas Jefferson (1781): "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."

As a nation, as individuals, we must pray that God continue to shine His favor upon us. Without Him, we can do nothing. God, we thank you for the multitude of blessings that you have, and continue to, shower upon us. May we remember each day that you are God!

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." ~~Revelation 1:8 NIV

17 March 2009

La Fheile Padraig

As far as I know, I'm not Irish. Today is March 17, Saint Patrick's Day, and there will be celebrations round the world. What is the meaning behind this Irish celebration?

Saint Patrick's Day is an annual feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17. In Ireland, it is a national holiday: Northern Ireland celebrates a bank holiday, and the republic of Ireland calls it a public holiday. The Irish have celebrated this day for more than a thousand years. Here in America, we celebrate, but it is not an official holiday. Who is Saint Patrick and why is he celebrated?

March 17 is generally accepted as the date of Patrick's death. He was English born to wealthy parents, kidnapped at 16 and held in captivity in Ireland for 6 years. During his time of captivity, he found solace in his religion and became a devout Christian. Some years later, he returned to Ireland to spread Christianity. Although it is part of Irish folklore, the banishing of the snakes credited to Saint Patrick appears to be more a metaphor for the rise of Christianity and the decline in paganism. March 17, Saint Patrick's Day, is a Catholic religious feast day in Ireland: a day celebrated in memory of a saint by special services and rest from work. Today, Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated by Irish and non-Irish alike.

Whether it be Saint Patrick's Day, or simply Tuesday, each day is a gift to be celebrated. Every day that I wake up is a chance for a new beginning. Whether I wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage, or go about my normal routine, I do not need to lose site of the importance of this day. Remember the song from Sunday school? "This is the day ... this is the day ... this is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Today I give thanks for the many blessings that God has seen fit to bestow upon me. Look around, take stock, and give thanks of your own. Remember that He is good ... and He is God. Through Him all things are possible!! An Irish saying that I have heard through the years feels appropriate to close this devotion:

May you be in heaven one half hour before the devil knows you're dead.


Accepting Jesus as your savior guarantees that you'll be in heaven ... and it won't matter if the devil knows you're dead!

Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.~Psalm 96:2 NIV

Cause for Celebration

There are many things in our lives that we view as cause for celebration. One of the more universal celebrations is that of a wedding. What is a wedding? Defined, it is the legal joining of two people in the union of holy matrimony. Weddings can range from a couple in front of the justice of the peace to a multimillion dollar event publicized worldwide. Regardless of the extent of the ceremony, the end result is the same: two become one. (written 26 Feb 2009)

Today, I ordered my wedding dress. While this may not seem like a major event for some, those who know me well truly understand my aversion to shopping for myself ... even for my own wedding. There are time constraints, however, and since I'm not exactly a size 4 off the rack kinda female, I had to break down and find a dress so it could be ordered if necessary, delivered in a timely fashion, and altered if need be. With that goal in mind, I headed today to Jim Massey. No particular reason for starting there today, other than the fact that the personnel in the store were extremely nice the previous times I had dashed in there to briefly look at what they might have available.

Believe it or not, it only took about 4 or 5 dresses for me to find "the one." It is not a wedding gown, rather a bridesmaid dress, and is of such a style that I will be able to wear it again. I do not in any way want to lessen the importance of this dress or this day ... but the fact remains that this is not my first wedding, and at my age, I want something I can wear again! Wearing my wedding dress again will only serve as a reminder of what a wonderful day it was!!

I write on this topic simply because I feel as if I have been truly blessed with the man who will in 128 days become my husband. We have differing opinions on some things of course, but for the important things, we see eye-to-eye. The celebration of friends and family will take place on July 4th ... and we both find it quite appropriate that on the day that our great nation celebrates its independence, we will join our lives as one.

God, thank you for the blessing that you sent to me in Rob. May your hand continue to guide our lives, and direct us as you would have us go.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

Is It Safe?

When you consider things that are "safe," what comes to mind? As Americans, the safety that we felt within our borders was shattered on September 11, 2001, when multiple plane crashes into the twin towers, the pentagon and a midwestern field rocked not only the US, but the entire world. The reverberations from those crashes are still being felt today. The victims of terrorism are spread across the world, and there are those who have no place that they can call safe. (written 19 Nov 2008)

This morning has been a period of much anxiety for first semester nursing students at Wallace. Those of us enrolled in Pharmacology (NUR 104) were scheduled to take our drug comp at 0800. What is drug comp? It is a test that deals with mathematics and its application for the nurse in calculating medication doses. You have to know if a drug dose is safe before you can administer it to your patient. How do you know? You read the label. You calculate the dose ordered to see if it falls within the safe range as determined by the manufacturer. If it does, you can administer the dose. If it does not, you cannot give the drug as ordered.

In Western Civ, we are studying the early days of Christianity and its spread across the Roman empire. Living conditions, while advanced for their time, would be called primitive by most of us in the western world today. It is difficult to imagine taking days to travel from place to place, when we can fly practically around the world in a day or less today. The spread of Christianity and the subsequent building of churches gave rise to the term sanctuary. What is sanctuary? We may consider the main area of the church, often known as the sanctuary. Defined, however, sanctuary is a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest, or more simply, any place of refuge. Sanctuary = safe. When I was growing up, the church we attended was never locked. You could go in at any time and commune with Jesus, or in our case, play the piano and sing to our imaginary audience.

As a nurse, it will be my duty to provide safety for my patients. As a believer, my place of safety is provided for me. Jesus is my safety, He is my rock, my unmoving strength. How do you find this safe place? Simply ask Him into your heart and believe that He is Lord. There is only one way to Heaven ... the ultimate safe place. No riches, no good deeds, no perfect life will get you through the pearly gates, but believing in Jesus Christ and accepting Him as your savior.

Jesus, thank you for giving me the ultimate place of safety. Help me to be a guide for others who may need help to find you and their own safe place within you.

"But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety."~Deuteronomy 12:10NIV

Wear Your Hat

I will start this with a statement that many of you know already. I am an Alabama fan (ROLL TIDE!). No offense at all intended to those of you who do not think that crimson is a beautiful color as it applies to football, including my three 'Auburn' children. Thanks to Rob, I also am a huge Texas Longhorns fan. (Big 12, SEC = No conflict of interest). Should Alabama and Texas play one another, however, my football allegiance will have to be with my Crimson Tide. Many Southerners dearly love this time of year, because fall equals one of the things near and dear to their heart: FOOTBALL! I am not saying that football is a southern thing, it just seems that we are more enthusiastic about it than most. (written 17 Nov 2008)

What does this have to do with hats? Name one thing that comes to mind when you think of Alabama football. Yeah, that's it. The houndstooth plaid hat synonymous with legendary head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. There are arguments about whether the pattern is houndstooth or just plain plaid (all houndstooth is plaid, but all plaid is not houndstooth). Call the pattern whatever you like, it is the spirit of the hat that reverberates through the Alabama fan to the rhythm of the school's fight song. Why did "Bear" wear the hat?

The story has it that it was a gift sent to him by the owner of the New York Jets to thank him for encouraging Joe Namath to sign with the then upstart American Football League's (AFL) New York Jets instead of the established National Football League's (NFL) St. Louis Cardinals. Rookie of the year in 1965, Namath led the Jets to a victory in 1969 over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. (Yes, that's three). As quarterback at Alabama, Joe Namath (under the direction of Coach Bryant) led the Crimson Tide to successive National Championships in 1964 and 1965.

Still not following my convoluted train of thought? Alabama fans wear houndstooth fedoras to show their allegiance to their team as well as a symbol of their respect for UA's beloved Bear. If you are a football (or any sport, for that matter) fan, you probably have at least one thing in your possession that signifies your loyalty to your team. What signifies your loyalty to Jesus?

I don't think it's the Bible you read and/or carry, nor the clothes you wear to church on Sunday. It's not the bracelet/pendant/hat you wear asking the question "WWJD?", nor is it the cross or crucifix hanging around your rearview mirror. My opinion? It is the person that you are, not the possessions you have. While we all have responsibilities, bosses to please, families to satisfy ... our ultimate judge is God. When the day comes that you stand before Him, what will He say? Wear your hat for Christ ... stand proud and unashamed.

Jesus, I thank you for the ability of expression. Help me to use it every day so that I glorify you.

"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you."~1 Chronicles 29:17-18NIV

Honoring Those Who Serve

The "official" end of World War I was marked June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles at the Palace of Versailles. The fighting ended, however, some seven months earlier when an armistice went into effect between Germany and the Allies on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in November 1919, citing "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" (written 11 Nov 2008)

I did not grow up in a military household; my daddy's enlistment in the Army ended before I was born. Patriotism and pride of country, however, were (and still are) very strong. I was raised to believe that you honor the flag by standing quietly, hand over your heart, and reciting the pledge. Way back when I was in elementary school, we recited the pledge every morning before starting our school day! Veterans and service members were never spoken of with any type of disrespect. Service to country was looked upon as something to be proud of! While neither my siblings nor myself served in the armed forces, we had seven uncles that did. Some served one or two hitches, four retired (three US Army, one US Navy). Today I am a proud Army mama -- my oldest daughter Victoria is currently serving in Baghdad, active duty United States Army.

Why celebrate today? The words in the 1926 resolution of the US Congress may make things a little clearer: "Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; ..." There is more, but this last part struck a chord. Reread the beginning of this paragraph. " ... it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer". Is that not still so? Not just today, but every day! Today, we pray to give thanks for those who have served to protect and defend our freedom ... for those still serving, at home or abroad ... and for those who died to defend us. What is the purpose of Veterans Day? A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

When you drive or walk down the streets today and see the American flag flying, thank a veteran ... those who are still serving, and those who have served. When you pin the flag to your lapel, fly the flag in your yard or at your place of employment: thank a veteran. For the freedoms some take for granted: thank a veteran.

For the more than 145000 American troops currently serving in Iraq, and the total US combined troop strength of more than 1.4 million, I offer my utmost gratitude. I never take for granted the freedoms I hold dear ... because you offer your life every single day. I have seen often on emails a quote that reads "only two forces have ever given their life for you ... Jesus Christ, and the American military." The military member died so that we may enjoy freedom, Jesus so that we may enjoy eternal life.

SPC Victoria Magoun ... thank you for your service and your devotion to duty ... I am humbled by your sacrifice and so very proud of your accomplishments! AD2 Robert Beadle ... thank you for the service you gave, the patriotism and pride you promote daily, and your constant love and support.

Jesus, thank you for giving your life for my unworthy one. Help me to give the best of myself each day, to honor you, and to live as you would have me do.

"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."~Jonah 2:9NIV

I Can Only Imagine

The song written by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard in 1999 exploded onto the secular music scene four years later. Originally released on their 2001 album "Almost There," this song describes Millard's view of what meeting Jesus might be like. Have you ever thought about that day? What it will be like to finally meet Jesus? (written 27 Oct 2008)

Think of much anticipated things that have happened in your lifetime. I'm not necessarily referring to Christmas or birthdays, but instead things that have been life-changing. We each have our own milestones, and our own ideas of what is life-changing. There have been quite a few life-changing events over my 44 years, and I don't think God is finished with me yet.

While pregnant with my first child, I could only imagine what it would be like to give birth and to actually parent a living being that was totally dependent on me! Imagination is one thing, experience is something else. They can be eerily similar, or vastly different. Childbirth was a little like and a whole lot different than I had imagined. Parenting? Let's just say that three births and 22 years later, I'm still learning. The years have been a little like and a whole lot different than I ever imagined.

When I decided to become a nurse, I imagined myself in nursing school (a little like and a whole lot different!). I can imagine a lot of things (I have a very vivid imagination), but I can't quite imagine what it will be like to spend eternity with Jesus. I know it is going to happen for me, and I also know that there are many, many others for whom it will not happen. On the flip side, I cannot imagine the way those who do not know Jesus will spend eternity. I am looking forward to seeing daddy, and grandmother and granddaddy, just to name a few. What do those who do not know Him have to look forward to? More importantly, what can I do to make sure that as many people as possible spend eternity with Jesus? Live, believe, and ask for His guidance. He can give me what I need to live as He would have me do. The power is within all of us, it requires Jesus to work.

If you don't know the song, "I Can Only Imagine", find it. Youtube has a video, there are probably many copies available for download, find the cd in a music store or online. I prefer the MercyMe version, but there are more available. It is worth a listen ... set your imagination on Jesus and let it go!

[Chorus]
Surrounded by Your glory,
what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah,
will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine



Jesus, thank you for the imagination with which I have been blessed. Let me draw from that imagination and from your love to be able to make it known what a joy you are in my life, and what a beautiful thing eternity will be spent with you.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."~Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

Thank You for Today

Every morning that I wake up, I should give thanks for my blessings. I don't. The first thing that goes through my mind is not "Lord, thank you for giving me one more day, one more chance," but usually something along the lines of "Oh lord, is it time to get up already?" (written 23 Oct 2008)

Walking down the hall heading to class this morning (my second class, not the first one that I overslept and missed), my eye was drawn to a sheet of white paper pinned to the bulletin board. No fancy graphics, just simple black print. Slowing down to skim its contents, I then came to a complete stop and turned to face the board as if to better comprehend what I had just read. A few simple lines seared into my brain, informing me that a classmate's mother had just two days ago lost everything in a house fire. The thoughts of "oh no, how horrible" were immediately followed by "Thank you Lord, for giving me the roof over my head." How often we take things for granted until they are no longer there!

This piece of information, and a brief conversation with my classmate, put my day in clear perspective. The stressors of this afternoon's test fade alongside the reality that life is truly a gift we are given. While we work hard (most of us, anyway) for what we have, we must never lose sight of the reality that it is only through God that all things are possible. Before I complain about what I do not (and may never) have, I must instead be thankful for what I have.

Tired of the car you drive, house you live in, clothes you wear, job you have? At least you have transportation, a roof over your head, clothes and a job. I am not saying in any way to "settle," because I believe that hard work and faith will take you far beyond what you might imagine. Contrary to the mindset of some in America today who believe that the government owes them food, money, healthcare and housing (that's a soapbox I do not need to climb on), re-read the preceding sentence. Did you see the words "hard work"? Don't think that I am slamming on someone who does not hold a job outside the home. The mother or father who stays at home and takes care of children? That's work. You may not receive a paycheck, and you may even be able to spend half the day at your most casual ... but only those who have never had an infant or small child would call a stay at home parent "nonworking." I refer instead to those who think it is their God-given right to receive something for nothing. Who pays for that? Regardless of what that monthly benefit may signify, someone is footing the bill. Have you taken the time to assess?

Track 6 of Cricket Lee's CD "Just Stand" is a song called "I Trust the Hands" (I hope the title is right, the CD is in the car!). The opening verse is a powerful statement, and one that I try to model.

Ask me how I'm doing
I'll tell you I'm living life abundantly
That doesn't mean that I'm
Living a life that's problem-free
Just means that I keep my eyes
Upon the prize
And when fear and doubt assail

I trust the hands that never fail
Even when I'm tested
I trust the hands
scarred by nails
To keep what I've invested
Hope doesn't disappoint, Love never fails
I trust the hands scarred by nails

Simple, but true. I trust, even when I may have questions. I trust, even when I am afraid. Because my Lord has never not been there. Even in those times that I may have not seen clearly, He has always been there for me. And yes, this is an instance when I can use the word always.

Lord, thank you for the beautiful abundance of today. With your guidance and through you I can achieve my goals. Help me to not lose sight of the blessings of each day, and to bless as I have been so bountifully blessed.

"Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance."~Jude 1:2 NIV

Simply the Best

There are many qualifications that could be looked at to label something "best." There are even stores that call themselves "Best" (as in 'Best Buy'). What does it mean to be the best? Dictionary.com defines best as "of the highest quality, excellence, or standing." What is a "best" in your life? (written 22 Oct 2008)

Do you have a "best" friend? Your best friend may be of the same sex, or of the opposite sex. Your best friend may be the same age, of the same background, and someone you've known most (if not all) of your life. Or not. Does it truly matter? How we each define "best" has much to do with both the environment in which we were raised, and the standards to which we have determined to hold ourselves. My "best" may not be the same as my siblings, or may be eerily similar, whether or not we've ever discussed the matter.

When I think of personal "bests" in my life, the first thing that comes to mind is my three children. As most of you know, I have two daughters (my oldest and my youngest), and one son. Are they perfect children, or rather, perfect young adults and teens? No, they're not. But I consider them the best three things I have ever had a part in creating. I am not a perfect mother, I don't have all the answers. Although they may have doubted it at the time, I didn't expect perfection from them either. What were my expectations as a parent? Simply that they do the best that they were capable of. They are three separate and distinct individuals that have personalities that are markedly different, yet they share many of the same traits. Each child has his or her own personal "best."

As a parent, I know that there have been times when my children probably thought I'd lost my mind. They may still harbor that sneaking suspicion! We have not discussed it in great depth, but I am relatively certain from my wisdom as Nana that my oldest daughter is learning just how incredibly difficult and unbelievably rewarding it is to be a parent. You want the best of everything for your child, you will do whatever you have the ability to do to make sure that it is possible. What is the "best?"

I think one of the best gifts that I received as a child was the church and coming to know Jesus. As a parent, I failed in that respect. Because my children's father and myself held differing religious views, we opted to let our children choose ... without giving them a background in both. All three of my children have attended different religious services with friends, none of the three profess a belief. In this, I did not achieve a best.

My best today? Choosing to rededicate my life to Jesus. Choosing to let Him guide me in the path that I should take. Jesus, thank you for being my best. Help me to live every day so that others can see that in me.

"This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. "~Isaiah 48:17 NIV

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Several years ago, one of my favorite television shows was "This Old House." I enjoyed tuning in each week to see what Steve and Norm were reconstructing or creating. They selected historical homes, sometimes in not-so-obvious places, and worked with the homeowners to restore or create a thing of beauty. Norm was the master carpenter on the show, and also had his own show called "New Yankee Workshop." He was an outstanding craftsman, and turned out some of the most beautiful woodwork I have ever seen. He used this phrase often, and even wrote a book with the title: "Measure Twice, Cut Once." (written 17 Oct 2008)

You may be wondering what in the world New England craftsmanship has to do with a nursing student in southern Alabama. I'll be the first to tell you that I am by no stretch of the imagination a carpenter. The most "woodwork" I've probably done in my life involved helping my stepdad and sister erect our privacy fence when we moved to Colorado in 1981.

Norm (master carpenter) was a down-home guy who just 'folksed' his way through the creation of pieces of furniture that were almost works of art. He was a perfectionist, however. He frequently used the phrase "measure twice, cut once", stating that he had learned that from his father. Measuring once, inaccurately, and cutting your wood based on those inaccurate measurements can cause you to lose time, materials, money, and in some cases, even a job. Still wondering what that has to do with me?

I am trying to improve every area of my life. Much like an infant just learning how to walk, I am taking it in steps. Rather than opening my mouth and flying off the handle, I try very hard these days to think before I speak. In my career, I am making every effort to take forward steps, sometimes one at a time, building quality rather than rushing and leaving slipshod work in my wake.

It is impossible to unsay harsh words, nearly impossible (and sometimes impossible) to correct mistakes. We cannot, nor will we ever, be perfect. But we can do our best, apply our everything, and make every effort to put forth quality ... every time. In my chosen field, mistakes can be, and often are, deadly. It is a frightening thought that leaves a little bit of upheaval in the pit of my stomach to think that in the future, there will be times when a patient's life depends on the quality of care that I provide. How can I provide less than my very best?

Jesus, the further I progress, the more I realize that I cannot do this alone. I am provided with supportive family and friends, knowledgeable nurse-instructors and floor nurses, and an ingrained desire to do the best that I am capable of doing. Please continue to guide me and help me to grow into the nurse I am to be. Help me to always "measure twice, cut once".

"For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end."~Psalm 48:14 NIV

I Forgot to Pray

Remember yesterday's devotion? There is a statement in there about 2/3 of the way through that said "I NEVER take a test without praying for guidance ... " When I wrote it, I thought it was questionable and wondered about changing the wording by eliminating the use of the word NEVER, but compounded that mistake by leaving it in. One of the important test-taking skills we learned early on was to look for those absolute words (like NEVER) when eliminating incorrect answers. My second mistake? Not listening to that voice that said ... "you might want to change that." (written 16 Oct 2008)

Make no mistake. I am placing the blame for my dismal test performance this morning nowhere but squarely where it belongs ... on myself. I didn't properly prepare for this exam. I studied less than I should have, did not thoroughly read the chapters, and misread several of the questions. The end result? Failure. What happened? I know one thing ... I forgot to pray.

Do I believe that prayer can cause miracles? Of course I do. I believe that faith can work miracles. I also believe that it takes a lot of hard work as well. I don't know who coined the phrase that "the Lord helps those who help themselves" but I believe it. He is not going to give me something that I have not earned. If I work my hardest, pray for his guidance, listen and believe ... He will work with me to achieve what He has planned for me.

Prayer before a test will not make me pass if I did not prepare properly ... but failure to pray before a test can alter my frame of mind. Did I go into this test without the peace that usually accompanies a prayer? I did. I took a second test today as well ... and am anxiously awaiting the results of that exam. Did I pray before I took the test? I did. Do I believe I passed the exam? I do. Stay tuned ...

As far as this morning's performance, it lowered my average in the class, but I am still well above passing. Can I recover from this? I can. Will I? I WILL!!

Jesus, thank you for humbling me and making me remember that without you, I can do nothing.

"By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life."~Psalm 42:8 NIV

Preparation

As a first semester nursing student, it seems as if I am constantly studying or reviewing for a test of some type: either a skills check off or an exam. The vast amount of material that needs to be absorbed (and comprehended!) to move on to the next level seems almost overwhelming at times! What is the best way to prepare? (written 15 Oct 2008)

How I prepare has much to do with my personality and my ability to comprehend. The way I study might not work for the next student, and vice versa. At this point, preparation for me consists of reading the chapters, studying the powerpoints, reviewing class notes, and writing definitions. Another important factor in the preparation equation is the feedback that I receive from my study partners. Asking a question of a fellow student may elicit a train of thought that clarifies an uncertain point for you. This give and take works both ways. The importance of study groups is a recurring theme ... with one qualifier: It is VITAL that your study group be focused on learning!

Take this focus and apply it to your life. Are the most important people in your life aware of your goals and willing to help you achieve them? Are they your cheerleaders or are they naysayers? My boyfriend, my family, and close friends are all very supportive of my goal of graduating nursing school. This has been a tremendous help on those days when it all seems a bit overwhelming.

What has been the biggest help of all? Prayer. I ask for it, I offer it, I do it. If you want to simplify it even more, break it down to a college student's favorite things: it's cheap (try free!), it's easy, and IT WORKS! No matter how much I prepare for a test, no matter how certain I am that I know the material ... I NEVER take a test without praying for guidance, and for my classmates. I pray that the information that I've studied can come back out in the right form.

Speaking to preparation leads to one additional question. How are you preparing for the day that you meet Jesus? This is the most important test of all! No preparation in your life can compare to this, and you can 'study' your whole life and still not have the right answer ... if you deny your Lord. Eternity is a real long time ... are you prepared for it? Preparation for eternity is one of the simplest things you can do: ask, believe, receive. If you ask Jesus into your heart and life, believe that He is your savior, and receive Him into your heart ... that's the majority of your preparation!! How easy is that? Another college student favorite? IT'S FREE!! What comes after receiving Jesus? Sharing. Remember when you were a child and learned something new? You couldn't wait to tell (show) everyone what you knew! Treat Jesus that same way ... share Him with that same joy!

Jesus, thank you for the many blessings that you have given me and continue to bless me with. I pray for strength and wisdom, and the ability to continue to voice your praise. Help me be the vessel that assists others to you!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."~John 14:1-3 NIV

My Soul Sings

There are very few places where you can find silence. In the hurry-up world of today, it seems that noise is a constant factor in our lives. It may be something as simple as the hum of the air conditioner, or as complex as the New York Philharmonic in the midst of a performance. My life has been entwined with music for as long as I can remember. I am by no stretch of the imagination a performer, unless you count the numerous concerts I've given to the dishes or to the laundry. (written 13 Oct 2008)

What makes you want to sing? There are those blessed with the ability to bring tears to the eyes of a listener with the beauty of their voice ... Andrea Bocelli comes to mind, my oldest daughter is another. Many years ago in Sunday school, one of my teachers said "God said make a joyful noise ... He didn't say anything about being on key." I'm relatively certain that applies to me.

Making a joyful noise can take many different forms. I love to sing (note aforementioned lack of ability) and I love to listen to music. I love to sit and listen to a performance, whether it be a concert for many or a concert for me. Music is soothing to my soul. It can, however, be turbulent. It can be disturbing, it can be thought provoking, and in some cases even be violent. A quick perusal of the shelves in any music store can give you an almost overwhelming selection to choose from.

When I find music that I like, I tend to play it a lot. The current CD in my player has been there for a few weeks. Cricket Lee's new CD, "I Just Stand", is a source of inspiration to me. I have bounced back and forth between the tracks, and have found yet another favorite. I don't, unfortunately, have the CD case with me right now and cannot tell you who wrote it. Track 11, "I Believe", has become my new anthem.

This beautiful song is up-tempo, joyous, and no matter how many times I listen to it, makes me want to sing along ... every time. What makes you want to sing? Find your voice ... find your song. Praising Jesus pleases Him. Praising Jesus through song also serves as a testimony to others. Find your testimony today!

Just what the word of God has said
I believe
Every inspired page
that's read
oh I believe
Though the builder rejected the stone
This rock I will stand upon
I believe

in Gethsemane
I believe
in Calvary
I believe in the cross, in the blood, in the grave
I believe in the stone rolled away
I believe
in the risen King


Jesus, thank you for giving my soul the gift of song. Thank you for allowing me to express my joy through words and song. Give me the ability to share with others the beauty that you have given to me.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."~Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV

A Little Hard Work and A Lotta Faith

My years as a restaurant manager blessed me with the opportunity to meet and get to know many wonderful people. One person that I met several years ago has touched my life in ways she does not even realize. This amazing woman is truly a blessing, and I feel honored to know her. Cricket, keep singing!! (written 1 Oct 2008)

I will admit that when I first met Cricket Lee, I had no idea who she was. I had heard her name, and knew that she was a gospel singer from Dothan, but that was it. Several of my employees knew, and told me about her music. As I came to know both Cricket and Dennis, I realized just what a warm and wonderful couple they are. Cricket's music goes straight to my heart, opening it and flooding me with warmth, wonder, and a renewed hope and happiness.

I write this today because of a chance encounter. Why chance? Those who know me know that I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I do not think it was just by "chance" that I happened to run into Cricket and Dennis in WalMart a couple of weekends ago. We spoke briefly, and Cricket told me that she had a new CD out.

"Just Stand" is in the CD player of my car, where it's been since that afternoon when I got off work. I have flipped through the tracks, listened to the whole CD, returned to tracks that are already favorites, and have nearly memorized several songs that seem to be sung just for me and my life as it is right now. All I can say is WOW.

Once more, I have to admit my ignorance. I do not know Kenna West, but there are two songs on this CD that immediately jumped out and hit me. "It Takes Faith" and "I Trust the Hands." All I can say is listen, hear, and believe.

A small sampling of "It Takes Faith":

It takes both
a little hard work
and a lotta faith
You gotta have both
a little of what you do
mixed together with what you say
It's not just believing and receiving
everything from the Father's hand
It's getting up and going
at His command

That's right .... JUST DO IT (apologies to Nike).

Every day, one day at a time. Have faith, work hard, believe. You CAN do it. I believe in me ... and I believe in you, too. With that, we can both go far. Have a blessed and beautiful day!

"Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." ~Matthew 21:21 NIV

Perspective Check

You probably know by now how much I love words, and actually enjoy defining them. Today's title, 'Perspective Check' is no exception. What IS perspective and why write about it? My friends at Dictionary.com have several definitions listed, but the one that suits most today's topic is definition 6: "the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship." Still wondering where this is going? Let me see if I can clarify. (written 11 Aug 2008)

For the majority of us in the workplace, or simply as a part of society, we come into almost daily contact with many different people. I say different not as a negative term, but strictly in the sense that they may be at a place in their lives that was chosen to intersect ours for a specific reason at a specific time. Don't get bogged down in that convoluted explanation, just work from the premise that I believe everything happens for a reason and go from there. (I promise, it makes sense to me!)

As most of you know, I work two jobs. I mention this only because in both jobs, I come into contact with large numbers of people every time I work. Talk about an eye-opener! Changing the way I view others has made an incredible difference in the way I view the importance of what I do. Think not? Try this experiment, if you will. Having a bad day? Does the slightest thing seem to irritate you? STOP.

I don't by any means intend to say that what is stressing you is less than important. It is important. But have you put things into perspective? I will be the first to tell you that I do not always succeed, but I give it my best shot. Before I pass mental judgment, I try very hard to stop and process what else is going on. My criteria and yours are not always the same. What irritates me to no end may not affect you in the slightest. If you use that viewpoint when dealing with others, you will find an attitude shift. I've seen it at the bottom of emails that I've received recently, something like "Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some type of battle." How true is that statement?? We don't know what someone else is going through. If we were in their shoes, how would we handle it?

I seem to have more questions than answers today. Because I don't know, I have to turn my questions over to He who does. While there are those who think it simplistic, I say let them think so. For me it is easier to turn it over to God and let Him handle it. I ask Him for guidance frequently in the course of a day, or to those of you more technologically savvy than I: I have God on voice-speed dial! All it takes is "God .." and I feel an almost instantaneous peace. It is as if He reaches within and removes the stress, patting me on the back in the process as if to say, "It's ok, Denise, I've got it from here."

So from my perspective, I try to look through someone else's eyes. When I get in that mode of thinking woe is me, I TRY (note the operative word here is TRY) very hard to remember that while I may think things are bad ... there are those who have it so much worse. Experiment today. Apply a perspective check to your dealings with others ... and see how it affects you. I'd be willing to take a guess and say that you'll be made more aware, and in a good way!

God, I thank you for giving me the gifts that you have so generously bestowed. Help me to view things as you would see, and not to judge (intentionally or otherwise). With You all things are possible.

"How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands...They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need..."~Psalm 112:1,8,9 NLT

A Simple Request


For those of you who have given me your support and encouragement over the past year or so, I just want you to know that I greatly appreciate it! I know that the devotions have been lax lately, and I just wanted to let you know that they will be returning!!! (written 8 Aug 2008)

Today's request is just that: a request. Please keep my daughter, Nikki, in your thoughts and prayers. She departed Fort Drum NY on Tuesday headed to Baghdad (yes, Iraq) for tour #2. As most of you know, my mom and I will be keeping the baby (my granddaughter Samantha) while she is deployed. She is a little angel who looks so very much like her mommy as a baby that sometimes it is difficult to remember that mommy is an adult!

Please remember that Nikki, along with her father Jon and step mom Rebecca (who depart NY in Oct for their tour #2), as well as every other serviceman and servicewoman, is the reason we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that we sometimes take for granted. Keep all our men and women in your prayers, and thank them for all they do for us!!

Thanks again for everything ... and if you need me, regardless of time or reason, I am here

It's Been A Year

So much has happened in the past year ... and one year ago today, two events occurred that marked a dramatic change in my life: Creighton (my only son and middle child) graduated from high school, and my father lost his battle with cancer. (written 2 Jun 2008)

Graduation can be as much a nervously exciting day for parents as it can be for the graduates themselves. For the graduate, the ceremony is the official end of that portion of their education. For the parent, it marks yet another milestone in their child's life. High school graduation is that transition into adulthood, the end - for some - of having decisions made for them and moving into making their own decisions. Like many moms I know, I was teary-eyed. Yet another of my "babies" was finishing high school! The pride that fills you when you hear your child's name called is immense!

My pride was tempered only by the fact that my phone was on vibrate and I kept glancing at the screen dreading the phone call that I was all too afraid would be coming in. Nikki, Sami, and mama had come in from Germany on Wednesday for Creighton's graduation and a month's leave. Danielle, Jon, and Rebecca were down from New York for Creighton's graduation, so Danielle and I took off to Atlanta on Wednesday to pick up the travelers. Little did I know that the news coming from UAB would not be good, Cheryl was waiting for mama to get in so that I would not be alone with Danielle (and driving!) when she told me that Daddy's cancer was back with a vengeance and it was only a matter of time - probably days. We left the airport and drove straight from Atlanta to Birmingham. Danielle had gotten to spend a little bit of time with daddy when she was home on spring break, but Nikki hadn't seen him since well before Sami was born.

Cheryl and I were in almost constant contact over the next three days. We left UAB late Wednesday night so I could be back at SAMC for my surgery on Thursday morning. The plan was to leave again after graduation and head back to Birmingham, so a little adjustment to the packing and off we went. I had called Cheryl immediately after graduation and let her know that the ceremony was over and that we were heading north. We hadn't even made it to Montgomery when the call came in. I can still hear the quiet exhaustion in those two words ... "He's gone." Cheryl was blessed to be able to spend much of daddy's last months with him, and the constant travel combined with the normal everyday stress of being a parent and running a household had taken a toll on her.

Daddy had worried a little back in the spring about making it to Creighton's graduation. He was fretting over the fact that it would be the first grandchild's graduation that he would miss, and at that time, we were telling him that he'd be there! We had every belief that he would, he was just that strong. He had such pride in his children and grandchildren, and even in his great-grandchild that he hadn't yet seen.

Looking back, it seems hard to believe that it's been a year already. Creighton has finished his freshman year at Arizona State and is preparing now for his sophomore year at Auburn. Daddy is at peace, and still watching over his brood ... his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. We carry him in our hearts and minds always. I love and miss you daddy!

Lord, thank you for making me understand that sometimes joy is wrapped in pain. Thank you for giving me the strength to keep my faith, and the support that keeps me going. Thank you for showing me the importance of family, and the peace of forgiveness. Thank you for blessing me with 43 years of my daddy's love ... and thank you for relieving his pain. Thank you for the beauty that is my children and grandchild. Help me to share the vastness that is your love, one day at a time.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." ~Psalms 4:8 NIV

Farewell

The plaintive notes of "Go Rest High" echo in my mind, a reminder of the last time I heard Lynn sing them, nearly eight years ago in this same location. Sharp rifle cracks are startling as they cut the stillness of the late spring afternoon. The barest whisper of breeze rustles hair and pine needles as we stand solemnly in a semi-circle. The bugle mourns, tears fall. (written 15 May 2008)

Wednesday afternoon we lay Uncle Dudley to rest in Circle Hill cemetery. It seems only yesterday that we gathered around granddaddy's casket, paying our respects to the man whose quiet goodness shaped his branch of the Hall clan. It amazes me sometimes to realize that it has been nearly 27 years since we lay grandmother to rest. Grandmother and granddaddy are surely both glad and sad right now. Glad to welcome their son home, but sad that he had to leave his family behind.

His seven surviving siblings will each deal with his passing in their own way. His six surviving children, and their children, all have to come to terms with the loss. The grief process affects everyone differently. Watching the honor guard fold and present the flag, my mind drifted back to June 2007 and saw the flag being folded over daddy's casket. It has been nearly a year, and there are still times when the pain is just as fresh as it was when brand new. I wish I could take that pain from Aunt Carol, Sue, Brian, James, Donna, Woody, and Teddy.

How we deal with grief is very similar to the way that we deal with life, I think. I've come to the realization that facing it head on, even if at times unpleasant, is the best way. I hope that my cousins and aunt have an easier road to travel, knowing that Uncle Dudley is no longer suffering. They can take comfort in knowing that he is once more in the loving arms of his parents.

When we face death, there are many times when the question "Why?" will arise. Stop and remember that years ago, Jesus too asked "Why?" He gave His life so that we may live with Him in eternity, if we but accept and believe. I believe that the sting of death is tempered by the sweetness of knowing that we will be reunited some day. While daddy can't hold his great-granddaughter, I believe that he's watching Sami grow. Uncle Dudley won't be with his children and grandchildren in person, but he will live in their hearts forever.

Jesus, thank you for giving me the gift of eternal life. Touch the hearts of Aunt Carol, Sue, Brian, James, Donna, Woody, and Teddy in their grief. Help Aunt Fay, Uncle Lee, Mama, Uncle Robert, Aunt Mary, Aunt Barbara, and Sissy to deal with the loss of their sibling. One day at a time, one step at a time, lead us home.

Farewell, Uncle Dudley, you'll be missed.
Dudley James Hall: October 31, 1938 - May 11, 2008

"... because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." ~Luke 1:78-79 NIV

Growing Up, Letting Go

Remember when you were a kid and the thing you wanted the most in the world was to be "grown up?" Now that you're "grown up," are there not some days when you wish you were a kid again? Is there something bothering you that would have never crossed your mind as a kid? Try and put a little bit of "kid" in your day every day, and see how your outlook changes. (written 8 May 2008)

Before you get all technical and tell me that a young human is not a kid but a child, please understand that I am fully aware of that fact. And if that thought actually crossed your mind, maybe you need to be more of a "kid". I am by no means advocating the total forfeiture of responsibility nor the dissolution of adult behavior. We did not, after all, make it to this point in our lives by acting immaturely and irresponsibly (most of us, anyway).

I was blessed to have a childhood similar to that of Beaver Cleaver. No, my mom didn't clean house (or do anything else for that matter) wearing heels, pearls and a dress. It was not perfect, by any means, but I knew without a doubt that my siblings and I were loved and appreciated for the individuals we were. My parents were my biggest cheerleaders, each in their own way. The life lessons I learned from them have done much to shape the woman that I have become.

Losing daddy last year was a wake up call. While his passing cut a deep hole in me that will never be filled, I have learned even more about myself in the eleven months since. Losing someone close to you affects everyone in a different way. I chose to make a concentrated effort to focus on his life, and the blessings that I received from it. My daddy was not a perfect man, but he was a wonderful daddy. He was a source of strength that I knew I could depend on, no matter the time, no matter the reason.

What is one thing I remember most about daddy? His smile. He had this grin that just made you want to smile, even if you didn't feel like it. Why? Because he truly enjoyed life. He put a little bit of "kid" in life, taking time to stop and smell the roses along the way. He learned, and in return taught me, that you have to appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you don't. He taught me that what is important is the people you love, and that you have to let go of the past.

We have all been hurt in some way in our past. You may have pain now. While I cannot promise that all your pain will disappear, I can promise you this: let go of the hurt and you will see a difference. What someone did to hurt you cannot evaporate with a 'platitude', but your forgiveness eases your pain. Hurt shapes us, it does not have to be our source of strength. Learn from the pain, then let it go. Don't let it fester inside you and taint everything you see and feel. Are your feelings hurt? Guess what? You'll get over it. You can look at the positive, or you can focus on the negative. I know that since I started focusing on the positive that my life has changed for the better. I am going to dance to the music, sing too loud, and stomp in the mud puddles because I can ... and because acting like a kid sometimes doesn't make me any less of an adult.

Jesus, thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for showing me joy, and helping me to focus on the positive. Help me to be the positive role model to my children and to my grandchild that my daddy was for me. Help me to see the positive in every day, and to never lose sight of my blessings.

"Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." ~Matthew 19:14 NIV

Rekindling the Light

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light." ~Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer was born in Alsace in 1875, the son of a Lutheran pastor. He was a pastor, a principal in a theological seminary, published author, and university professor with a doctorate in philosophy. At age 30, he decided that was not enough. He felt he had been called to serve others by providing medical care to Africans. Seven years later, he and his wife established a hospital in Lambarene, Gabon. Dr. Schweitzer received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 (for the year 1952) at age 78. Why the history lesson? (written 24 Apr 2008)

Reading email this morning, I opened one from Mac Anderson (www.simpletruths.com) and worked my way back through a couple of messages I'd saved to reread. One of the emails had the quote referenced above, and it just struck me as something that needed to be said today. By using it as my opening quote, I felt it only fair to give a brief background on its author for those of you who, like myself, were only vaguely familiar with the name Albert Schweitzer. Now, on with the devotion.

Look back over your life up to this point. Chances are, a name or face comes to mind, someone who affected you in ways that you never thought possible. Was it your kindergarten teacher? A family member or friend? I could name several people that have affected me in a positive way, some so much so that even years later that "defining" moment is just as clear as the day it happened.

If you have accepted Christ as your personal savior, think about the person who may have helped guide you to the understanding to make that decision. There was never a push to accept Christ, nor to attend church, especially as a younger child. It was simply taken for granted that that's what happened on Sundays, and that you would come to the Lord in your own way and in your own time. My grandparents, Woodrow and Joyce Hall, were shining examples of Christianity. It was through their example that I chose to dedicate my life to Jesus more than 30 years ago. Were they perfect? Of course not, no human is. As a child, I certainly thought they were! They were the epitome of that southernism known as "good people."

Seeing the struggles that daddy went through during the last months of his life was another inspiration to me, and one of the big factors in my decision to rededicate my life to Jesus last summer. He never complained, but was at peace. He was at peace with his family, with his future, and most importantly, with his Jesus. Take your inspiration and thrive! Your next step? BE someone's inspiration! It is in giving that we truly receive. Albert Schweitzer said "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

Jesus, thank you for deeming me worthy of service. Thank you for the unconditional love that you give to me. Teach me to serve by helping others. Make me the shining example that I was blessed to have so many years ago.

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."~1Peter 4:10 NIV

Once Upon A Time

A young woman contacts her doctor, concerned about the labor pains she is having. This is not her first child, so she knows what she is feeling ... she also knows that 27 weeks is too early in her pregnancy to be having serious signs of labor. The shot doesn't stop the labor, so she goes to the hospital. Against the odds, she delivers a healthy but very small baby girl just after midnight. Round-the-clock, an incubator is the tiny infant's home for the next 58 days. (written 21 Apr 2008)

If you look back at the circumstances of your birth, do you ever stop and wonder just how you got from that point (helpless infant) to where you are today (not a helpless infant)? From a premature infant to that southernism known as a "grown adult", many things have happened in the last 44 years to create the journey I am currently calling life. Why, you ask, do I consider it a journey? Simply because it is.

Let's take a road trip as an example. There are those of us who have to have every last bit of minutiae planned and organized to the nth degree before beginning anything, whether it be a phone call, a grocery shopping trip, or a road trip/vacation. Most of us, or rather, most of the people I know, are not quite so detailed. You know your starting point, you know your destination, you know approximately how long you are going to be gone (although this is not always the case), and you (hopefully) know what your funding options are. With a few exceptions, like reunions, planned shows or events, or even family events that might require specific attendance at specific times, your schedule is open. That is so freeing! How relaxing can vacation be if you feel like you are constantly "going?" Planning our upcoming trip to Texas this June, we have a few dates that are fairly firm, but the rest of the trip will be filled with doing whatever strikes our fancy, subject, of course, to budgetary constraints. This trip is something I'm definitely looking forward to!

What about your overall life journey? Since we are human, not machine, we experience a range of emotions. We've all (once again, I qualify that "all" by referring to 99% of the people I know) heard, seen, or done things in our lifetime that have made us look back with that 20/20 vision known as hindsight and wonder "what in the world was I thinking?" There have been many upheavals in my life over the past few years, and they have given me the clarity of vision to realize that while there are things in my past that might be less than stellar, I don't know that I would change any of them. Why? Every step I have taken on my journey of life has brought me to today. I've stumbled, walked backward, and even fallen. Each "error", and every positive step forward have combined to make ME. Every new thing I learn about myself, and my surroundings, deepens the person that I am.

Nearly 35 years ago, I dedicated my life to Christ during revival. Before you even think it, the answer is NO ... as in, NO, I have not been perfect all those years. I've had the stumbling years, the fallen years, even the backsliding years. Never did I lose sight of the fact that Christ is and always has been there for me. Renewing my faith last summer gave me a new outlook on life, and the continuation of its journey. I cannot do anything alone, and where I need to be is the place that Christ has set for me. I feel that I have reached the beginning of that place, and will continue to develop into the person that Christ intended me to be, even before that fateful day 44 years ago when He decided it was time for me to make my entrance into this world.

Jesus, thank you for the gift of life that was my birth. Thank you for the gift of eternal life that was my dedication to you. Thank you yet again for the reaffirmation of my place in heaven by never allowing me too far from you, even when my vision is cloudy and my path obscured. Help me to continue the journey in a way that would shine great glory on You, and give me the tools so that I may be a help to others who may stumble as they walk forward. And by the way, great thanks go also to mama today. Had Jesus not put His hand on her to bring me safely into this world some 44 years ago, well ... I wouldn't be writing this, now would I?

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world." ~John 16:21 NIV

15 March 2009

Flirting With Disaster

Before you think that this is a strange title, or even strange topic for a devotion, let me try to explain what lies behind it. As most of you know, I'm currently in school. This semester has shown me exactly how difficult it is to try and maintain a gpa, work two jobs, and have something at least in some way resembling a life - or at least something other than work-school-eat-sleep. Note the order ... maybe it has something to do with sleep deprivation ... maybe that's a topic for another devotion. Anyway, back to my story. (written 10 Apr 2008)

The first time I returned to school with the express purpose of earning a degree and not just to take a class here and there was 1998. At that point, I was living in New York, and my children were 12, 9, and 5. I adjusted my schedule as much as I could, especially that first year, to coincide with their school schedules. There were several late nights and early mornings (I distinctly remember typing the final draft of my English 101 paper at 6 a.m. the morning I had to turn it in), but no real struggle as far as studying goes. My gpa sat at a 4.0 until my final semester, when I decided that I needed to take Microeconomics. Needless to say, I ended up with a B in that class, tumbling the 4.0.

Fast forward 7 years: it's the fall of 2007 and I'm once more enrolled in school. Things are different now ... my children are 21, 18, and 14 when school starts this time. My 21 year old has a daughter of her own and lives halfway across the world in Germany. My 18 (almost 19) year old is starting his own college career at Arizona State University. My 14 (almost 15) year old is in New York with dad and stepmom. I arrange my work schedules to accommodate my classes, and dive in. I can do this ... no problem! There were some struggles, but I managed to finish last semester with three A's and one B (English 102). That in no way prepared me for this semester. Thinking to myself "I can handle this ... ", I loaded my schedule. Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology I, Ethics, and Algebra. This semester has been hard fought and a serious struggle. Microbiology, by no means an easy subject, has stuck in my brain far more than the Anatomy that I am constantly struggling with. I study, and am not retaining. I look, and am not seeing what I need to see. My final grade in A & P is looking more and more like a "C" ... and that is if I do well on the next lab test, lab final, and final exam. When I say do well ... I mean make an A. The higher my "A's" on the remaining tests, the higher my final "C" will be. The other classes? Right now, two B's and one A, and I believe I can maintain that. My pride is wounded, my ego hurt. I've never been a C student! It is hard to wrap my brain around that concept. To me, it feels like failure.

For some reason, the Molly Hatchet song "Flirtin With Disaster" came to my mind this morning after taking (and most likely flubbing) a lab quiz. Look at the opening lyrics:

Well I'm travelin' down the road,
I'm flirtin' with disaster.
I've got the pedal to the floor,
My life is running faster.


I can so relate to that! My grades make me feel like a failure. I have to stop and take stock of what is positive and going well. I have the ability ... can I bring it out once more?

I'm out of money,
out of hope,
it looks like self-destruction.
Well, how much more can we take

While it may feel like self-destruction ... it is not. I don't have a lot of money, and I am certainly not out of hope. How much more can I take? I can take whatever I have to, because God is with me and will not give me more than I can handle. There is always hope ... for God is always with me.

God, thank you for giving me the ability to come as far as I have. I know with your help and guidance, I will meet my goals. My grades may not always be where I think they should be, but there are times when I have to adjust the way I look at things and make sure that I am focused on you. Give me the strength to share you in everything that I do.

"You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. " ~Job 11:16-18 NIV

I Wish You Enough

I'll be the first to admit that there are times when I open my email and think "not another forward!!" As a general rule, I do try and read (or at least skim) most of them. Yesterday, I received an email from Dave with the title "I Wish You Enough." That in and of itself was intriguing enough to make me want to at least look at it. To avoid copying the whole email, especially if you've seen it before, let me summarize the story. (written 8 Apr 08)

A man is in the airport waiting on a flight when he hears and sees a farewell between a mother and daughter. After daughter's departure, mom seems sad and talks to him when he is seated nearby. His curiosity about a phrase they used generates a question, and the lady explains that "I wish you enough" was a family phrase. The poem that she used to explain made sense, and is listed below. It struck me so much so that I sent it forward, and made me think, hence this devotion. What the lady told the gentleman is as follows:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Think of these words, and how Jesus does these things for us. Does not the bright sunshine lift your spirits? After a rainstorm, do we not appreciate the sun? When we are happy, it builds us up and helps get us through times that have the potential to drag us down. Pain, while not necessarily welcomed (at least not by most), reminds us that we are human and can hurt, but also reminds us that this, too, shall pass. Getting a small reward can fulfill a need we thought only a large reward could fill. Every loss reminds us of just how precious life is, and how thankful we should be for what we have. When we say hello to Jesus and accept Him into our life as Lord and Savior, the "final good-bye" will be a gateway to going home for good.

The email ended with the phrase, "And to all my friends, I wish you enough." I do not know where it generated from, or who to credit as author. If you think of these words, apply them to your life. To you, my friends, I offer this wish: Jesus IS enough, for He is everything, and so, I, too, "wish you enough."

Jesus, thank you for being my "enough," for being my sunshine and rain, my loss and gain. Help me to live each day so that others see the same in me and that I live for you.

"If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" ~John 14:7-9 NIV

Under Construction

We all know the colors, the signs, the sometimes sinking feeling ... you're headed to church/work/school/play and seemingly from nowhere appears the lovely orange and white cone or barricade that tells you a new route is on your agenda for today. If you are running late, the sinking feeling that accompanies that rapid flash of knowledge immediately starts the calculator in your brain working and making you wonder if you have enough time to make it. (written 7 Apr 08)

If you've done any traveling in Dothan lately that takes you in the vicinity of north Denton road (from the five point intersection at the Chevron up to LoLo's Mini Mart), you know that there is a major overhaul underway. The road destruction currently underway certainly makes life interesting for those residents whose addresses fall within that short span. I say destruction, because that is certainly what is happening at this point! The asphalt is no more, and the recent rains have made the journey more of a miry clay than a roadway. Upon completion, that section of Denton is supposed to be curbed, and I'm not sure what else is going on, I just know that it is sometimes interesting avoiding the heavy equipment in my little car!

Our lives can in many ways be compared to highway construction, or construction in general. Is that not, in effect, what we are doing? Each day that we wake up and join the human race, so to speak, we make decisions that affect not only us but those around us. The simplest of decisions, such as how to answer a question or what comment to make, can change the life of someone else without our ever even knowing.

There have been many stages in my life. My life now is changed, I feel for the better, because of an attitude shift. I'm sure that there is some proper psychological term for it (paradigm shift, maybe?) but attitude works for me. By changing my outlook, my life changed. When I looked at life as Eeyore does (oh, woe is me), it seemed that my life followed that track. It felt as if nothing could or would go right. I decided to base my attitude on the attitude that my granddaddy carried with him for his whole life ... or at least as much of his life as I remember ... he was always positive. He saw the good in any situation. Until he was in the last months of his life fighting the rapidly invading cancer, he always told you that he felt "good!" or wonderful!" I have adopted that. Why?

Long story short, we all have troubles and problems. Focusing and dwelling on those problems does not make you feel any better, and in many cases, can make you feel worse. Why adopt the woeful attitude of Eeyore? Every time I start to think about the things that I think are bad in my life, I stop and remind myself just exactly how much I have to be thankful for. Compare what you have with what you could be experiencing, and realize just how blessed you are. Do I have great wealth? No, but I have a job, and am increasing my education in order to give me the opportunity to earn more. Do I have a fancy car? No, but the car I have runs well, and gets me where I need to go. It is also economical ... and with today's gas prices, that is a major plus! I have a roof over my head, family and friends that love me just as I am, my health ... the list can go on and on. Why be negative? I have far more to be thankful for than I have to complain about. Taking a hard look at my life and realizing that I needed to do some construction work has been a blessing.

God, I thank you for being my project manager on this ongoing construction project. May I never forget that my guidance comes from you, and that you have the master blueprint. Help me to be a "guiding cone" for others who may need to consider some re-construction of their own, by being a source of strength and support.

"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." ~Jude 1:20-23 NIV

Finding Time

We all know the feeling - in this day and age it seems as if everything we are involved with operates in fast-forward mode. You hit the snooze button and get that extra 9 minutes to spend the rest of your day rushing from place to place. It seems as if everything is constantly go-go-go and when you finally stop, it feels as if you are falling apart piece by piece. How do you slow down the merry-go-round? (written 1 Apr 2008)

I freely admit that I am probably one of the worst to stay almost constantly in "go" mode. Why? I'm still trying to figure that one out. The current schedule of work and school is rigorous, but no more so than hundreds of thousands of people do every day. I am by no means alone! I tell myself that this is simply a means to an end ... I am doing what I am doing right now in order to achieve the long-term goals that I have set for myself. School is temporary. Work, unfortunately, is not - at least not so far as I can see. How, then, do I reconcile my schedule?

Making time for myself is something I decided I needed to do. Whether it be a few minutes reading a book that is not school related, or sitting down in front of the television to watch (or attempt to watch) a movie, I try every day to carve out a precious few minutes of time that I can call my own. Writing these devotions is a few minutes of my day that have been sorely neglected the past few weeks, but the words have not come to me as easily as they have in the past. Today, the inspiration is back, and so I write.

Each of us has our own methods of finding time. How we spend our "me" time varies from person to person. There is not necessarily one right or one wrong way to do so. Ask yourself this question - does what I am doing ultimately benefit someone other than myself? While looking out for the needs of others may not fit what you call fulfillment, I try to help in whatever small way that I can. I have received feedback from you telling me that these devotions fill a need, answer a question, lift a spirit. If I can do that for even one person, then I have accomplished something.

God, I thank you for the gift of words, and for the ability that you have given me to share feelings and thoughts in such a way that it may be of help to someone else. Please allow me to continue to spread the blessing that is you.

"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." ~Philemon 1:6 NIV

Holding A Charge

A few days ago, a Turning Point devotion broached the subject of being "charged up," and made reference to something that most of us can relate to these days - the battery power of our cell phones. Think about it. Ten years ago, maybe even five years ago - did you even own a cell phone? The older models were far more apt to lose battery power than the newer phones of today. What happens, however, when you fail to charge your cell's battery? (written 20 Mar 2008)

If your cell is anything like mine, it goes and goes ... then it stops. Very little warning, it stops working. Not just quits, but powers itself down! Can you relate to that? I can, in more ways than one. Much as my cell battery needs that power cable to maintain a top charge, my body needs the healing charge of sleep to keep running at a peak performance level. Sleep, however, is not the only thing a human body requires. We also require nourishment (fuel, if you will). This nourishment is not only physical, but I believe it must also be spiritual.

When I began writing devotions nearly a year ago, I experienced a sense of fulfillment that is almost indescribable unless, of course, you also write. There is something about being able to get the thoughts and feelings out, to put them down, that offers both relief and sustenance. There are times when the words are almost too personal. For those who know me well, those particular devotions raise questions on a more personal level.

Whatever method we choose to refuel, recharge, or replenish our bodies - let us not forget the most important one. Filling up with the Spirit, the love of Jesus, the word of God, is the best power source we can ever hope to tap into. Find your way, find His word, look to Jesus today. Ask Him to refuel you - it is a choice you will never regret!

Jesus, thank you for being my always on, never weakening, endless power supply. May I take the strength that you give me and share it as you would have me do.

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." ~Titus 3:4-7 NIV

How Great Thou Art

In 1886, a Swedish preacher named Carl Boberg wrote a poem titled "O Store Gud" (translation: How Great Thou Art). According to Wikipedia, Boberg's inspiration was a thunderstorm. Translated into English by missionary Stuart Hine, this song speaks of God's awesome power. (written 15 Mar 2008)

Depending on which version you listen to, the tune can be slow, or a bit up-tempo. One of my favorite performances of this song is actually by Elvis. Think about what the words are saying in verse one:

O Lord my God
when I in awesome wonder
consider all
the worlds thy hands have made
I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Think about that. Think of how small we are, and how powerful God is. To God, we are His. How someone of such immense power can love someone like me? It is at times beyond my comprehension. Searching out the lyrics, I realize that there are some I've never seen. I don't even think they are on the sheet music that I have. The final verse speaks of going home to be with God:

When Christ shall come
with shout of acclamation
and take me home
what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow
in humble adoration
and then proclaim
"My God, how great Thou art!"

The chorus ties it all together, and always brings to mind even the smallest of God's miracles:

Then sings my soul
my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul
my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

God IS great, and all powerful. He created us to be like Him, to do His work. How can we do less than what He asks of us? I can't really explain right now, except to say that my soul DOES sing of you, God. Thank you for the beautiful gifts you have given me. May I always and ever praise you!

"Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom." ~Psalm 145:3 NIV

Showers

Today's devotion actually began taking shape yesterday when I was standing in the shower. After school, I came home to change for work and decided that a nice HOT shower was just what I needed to make me feel better. Thank goodness for good water pressure! Standing underneath that exhilaratingly warm-to-hot spray, I could almost feel the tension melting away. (written 14 Mar 2008)

Are you a shower person or a bath person? One of my good friends is a bath person. Yes, he takes showers, but for him relaxation after a long day at work comes from a hot bath. I remember as a child, bath time was an evening ritual, and I remember wondering when I'd be "big enough" to take a shower! It seemed like a shower was part of growing up.

Yes, a shower is indeed a cleansing act. For most of us, the act of baring ourselves to stand (or submerge) in water, is a daily routine. Compare your shower to being a child of Jesus. Much as you take a shower daily to prepare yourself (or cleanse yourself) for what lies ahead, so should you immerse yourself in God's word and His love. As believers, we are all washed in Jesus' blood. Submitting your life to God is like taking a shower of love. He cleanses your heart and soul, just as you cleanse your exterior with soap and water.

Jesus, in everything I do, shower me with your love, cleansing my heart and soul just as you send showers of rain to renew our earth. Help me to be like rain on parched earth for those who may be looking to find you. Give me the words to say to help guide them to the oasis of Jesus.

"Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants." ~Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

Comforting Arms

If you were to ask me for one thing that stands out vividly in my memories of childhood, I would have to say hugs. While that may sound strange to some, let me clarify by saying that I was raised in a very affectionate family. We are by no means perfect, nor do we all always like each other, but the love is never in question. Think back to your younger years. For me, daddy or mama, grandmother or granddaddy, could make just about anything feel better with a hug. A hug is arms wrapped around you enveloping you in a feeling of peace. (written 6 Mar 2008)

I hope that I was able to give that same feeling of security to my children, and in turn through my daughter to my granddaughter. No, mom doesn't always have all the answers, nor is she always right, but she will always be there for you! I am blessed to still have my mother. I hope God blesses me with her for many more years. The sense of loss and the gaping hole that daddy's passing left is still there, but I do not doubt that he is still keeping an eye on his babies!

In an earlier devotion, I told the story of my baptism at age 9. I can still remember Preacher Mac's strong arms holding me as he dunked me into that baptismal pool. As he assisted me in giving back to Jesus the life that Jesus first gave me, that strength was a tangible symbol of his willingness to assist others in finding their way home. There are many who do not believe that Jesus exists. I do, and am not ashamed to say so.

I find comfort in knowing that no matter how low I think I have fallen, his strong arms are there to reach down and lift me up, enfold me in his comforting love, and assist me onto my feet once more. Invite Jesus into your life, and feel that comfort for yourself. His arms are wide enough to hold us all, gentle enough to cradle a newborn, and strong enough to never let us fall too far. He is never out of reach.

Jesus, thank you for the strong arms that surround me with your love. Thank you for blessing me with those in my life who will envelop me in love. Remind me that sometimes the best gift of all is the silent gift of love.

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support."~Psalm 18:16-18 NIV

Direct My Footsteps

In some format or another, we have probably all seen, read, or maybe even own a copy of the poem "Footprints." Searching, I found that although many have claimed credit, and several are apparently well remunerated for it, there is no definitive answer as to who actually authored the poem. (written 5 Mar 2008)

Today, before writing, I went to BibleGateway.com and performed a search. From the verse listed, my thought process went on a tangent of its own, and I found the verse that caught my attention. From that verse, the title and the sidenote regarding "Footprints" were born. Don't you just feel better knowing the convoluted way these devotions come about? Seriously, most days I just sit down with a fragment of an idea, and the words just fall out. God does, indeed, work in mysterious ways.

What does "direct my footsteps" mean to you? In the Christian context, I prefer to think of it as giving control of my life (and the steps I take on my pathway through life) to Jesus. I am walking, but He in me guides my steps along the path. Does that make sense? Look at it from another direction. As a baby learning to walk, your parents or caregivers (or both) held your hand, walked beside you, attempted to keep fairly clear paths for you to navigate, and did not hesitate to praise your successes. Is not walking with Christ much the same? He holds our hands, walks beside us (or carries us), keeps our paths clear or gives us the tools to safely navigate hindrances and praises our success. Jesus is the best GPS available (and He is free for the asking!).

By giving control to Jesus, we open our pathway to a blessed walk. Please note that I did not say, nor do I believe, that it will necessarily be a trouble-free, nor obstacle-free, one. As you walk through life, remember that sometimes you have to stumble and fall to stand freely upright. Jesus is there, holding your hand and guiding your steps. Never hesitate to call upon him.

Jesus, thank you for guiding these sometimes hesitant steps. You truly are the light of my path, and the strength that makes those uphill climbs seem easier. Thank you for giving me the gift of your love. Give me the ability to share that, and to be a support for, others in their walk with you.

"Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me." ~Psalm 119:133 NIV

Ask for Help

I am relatively certain that I am not the only person who has ever had the thought "I know how to do this, I don't need help." I am also relatively certain that I am not alone when I realize just how much I do not, in fact, know. Something I heard many years ago has stuck with me, "The truly intelligent person realizes the vast scope of what they do not know," or the translated version "Smart people realize how dumb they are." (written 4 Mar 2008)

Those of us who have children, or know children, know the sometimes overwhelming feeling of being the "answer" person. Remember the joy of your child's first words? Do you also remember when they learned the word "why?" What about the point in time when it seemed as if "why?" was the only word they knew? Younger children do not always understand, but as they grow older they realize that sometimes adults do not have all the answers.

When you become comfortable with the fact that you don't have all the answers, you grow. The ability to call on someone for help is a part of personal growth. It's not necessary to have all the answers, but knowing where to find the answers is a big step forward! Asking for help can be difficult. It is in some ways a control issue, you have to recognize and admit that you cannot do it alone. There are many times in our lives when we struggle mightily, yet make no progress. Just as reading the directions can make it easier to put that piece of equipment together, asking for help can smooth a pathway previously riddled with potholes.

Remember that you always have "on-line" help, 24/7/365. Jesus stands waiting and ready to assist you, whatever your needs may be. Just because you are the "go-to" person for answers doesn't mean you don't have questions of your own. Don't struggle, let go and let God.!

God, thank you for being my answer. May I always remember to ask!


"Moses said to the LORD, 'O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.' The LORD said to him, 'Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'" ~Exodus 4:10-12 NIV

Passionate Attitude

A recent email from Mac Anderson (Simple Truths) advertised a new publication titled The Power of Attitude. He highlighted the chapter titled "Know Thyself." Think about a time in your life when you made a major change. We have almost all had them, some of us more than one. The most recent for me was a major job change, which was followed by a career change. Before you think the two are one and the same, let me disabuse you of THAT notion, and add something that Anderson speaks of in his work on attitude. (written 3 Mar 2008)

Job, career, it's all the same. No, it isn't. What IS a job? A job is a means to an end much of the time. It is a place you go and put in your time to receive your pay. For some, it's just a punch on the time clock, a place to "make your eight and hit the gate," never looking back or thinking forward when each day is done. A career takes it one step further. A career is something that you do with long-term goals in mind. Whereas a job may never cause you to think of things such as advancement or retirement, a career will do just that. You begin as you mean to go on, and look forward to the next step. Let's add something else into the mix: Passion. What IS your passion? What drives you? Is the work you do related to that passion? If not, why not?

If you love what you do, it shows in the effort that you put forth. I'm not thinking of a Pollyanna attitude on working, but a realistic day-to-day realization that what you do is important to you, and you feel like you have "done something" (translation: made a difference) at the end of the day. We all have job frustrations, or moments when we wonder just what in the world we are doing, but as I have heard so many times over the course of my life: when you love what you do, it's no longer work. As a restaurant manager, my daily goals were many, but could be boiled down to one very basic one: had I served my guests to the best of my ability by giving them the highest quality food in a reasonable amount of time while offering excellent service? If I had done that, then chances are that most of the other daily goals would have fallen into line accordingly. When that guest left dissatisfied, you could almost every time go back and make a checklist of places where the excellence in service did not come into play. Somewhere, somehow, some needs were not met, and I had not done my job.

Are you passionate about your work? Do you love what you do? If not, how are you going to change that? If you dislike your work, eventually it WILL show. By the time I left the restaurant industry, the only thing I liked about my job was my days off. If that is your attitude toward your job, you need to sit down and take a very hard look at what you are doing and why. Whether or not you realize it, that attitude will come across to those that you deal with frequently. The ones that notice it first may be the ones that you see infrequently! Before I changed careers, I did not want to go to work every day. I hated the thought of dealing with it. I loved the people that worked with me and for me, and loved the guests in our restaurant, but I did not love my job. My attitude reflected that dislike. Make the choice: are you in a job, or in a career? Is it your passion? I was forced into the change, and have never been happier in the workforce.

Jesus, thank you for giving me the opportunity for change, and allowing that change to permeate my entire life. Inviting you back into my life has made it complete. Thank you for being the attitude adjustment that I needed. Help me to show that in a positive way, every day.

"I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." ~Jeremiah 10:23 NIV