Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Million, Million Doors

Image found here
I enjoy listening to the music on the Christian radio station in my car. Once in a while, a particular song, or even a line in a song, speaks volumes to me.

One such song is entitled "With Every Act of Love" by Jason Gray. This is the part of the song that particularly resounded in my own heart.
"God put a million, million doors in the world
For his love to walk through
One of those doors is you."

The verses in the song describe two different scenarios where someone is hurting in some way, and someone else reaches out with God's love and brings hope..."as heaven touches earth".

As we move into the Advent season, we remember how God Himself walked into this world to bring His love to us. Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again so we could know God's love. He has placed us, His children, in this world to extend the love we have received to others. 

Yes, it is true.
God put a million, million doors in the world
For his love to walk through
One of those doors is you.
The question is this. Is the door of my heart open?  Is yours?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Where's Your ID?

A couple hours ago, Rachel and I got back home from Bakery BINGO, a school event sponsored by the PTO. I had left work at about 4 o'clock and gone to my parents' house to pick Rachel up. Once in the house, I realized I was still wearing my staff ID. We chatted awhile and then left for Bakery BINGO. Once again, I forgot to take off my lanyard. Consequently, I was probably the only person at the after-school event wearing their work ID.

School ID's are a new thing this year at Findlay High School. Some of the students are having a very hard time adjusting to remembering to wear their IDs every day. Unlike me, who sometimes forgets to take it off, many students leave theirs at home, or in their book bag, or out of sight in their pockets...which of course defeats the purpose of having the ID in the first place.

So, what is the purpose of the ID, anyway? It is a security measure to help differentiate who belongs in the school and who does not. The ID is intended to be the sign of a student, faculty, or staff member at the school.

Most of the faculty and staff have accepted this requirement. Many students are struggling. Some put on their ID when a teacher tells them they have to, and remove it as soon as the teacher isn't looking. They stash it in their pocket or their purse. Anyplace other than clearly visible as the rules state. I can almost guarantee that 99% of even the most compliant students take it off the instant they leave the building. The trouble is, when the ID is not worn regularly and properly, it is often lost or forgotten.

The ID of the Believer

What about the ID God wants His children to wear? What is it that He intends to be the identifying mark of a believer? The Apostle Paul writes:

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)

The fruit of the Spirit. THAT is the ID of the Christian. Do we wear our IDs all the time? Or only when we have to? 
  • Are we allowing God to grow patience in our hearts, or do we feel perfectly justified in letting patience fly out the window when someone cuts us off on the road?
  • Are our lives characterized by peace in the midst of difficult circumstances, or is peace nowhere to be found as soon as something goes wrong?
  • Are we consistently gentle with others? Not weak, mind you, but gentle. Or does gentleness get hidden away when it is not convenient?
  • Are we careful to display the fruit of the Spirit at church, and then stash it away when we get home to our families where fruit like patience, kindness, and peace is suddenly nowhere to be found.
I understand that we are all works in progress. No one has perfectly developed fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Growing fruit is the ID of the Christian. In some believers, the fruit is more mature than in others. But we all should have fruit at some stage of maturity growing in our lives. 

As long as we are listening to the Holy Spirit, His fruit will grow in us. When we ignore Him because it is not convenient to listen, the fruit withers away. Then, when we see that we need it...oops! isn't where we thought it was. 

Let's be sure to always wear our ID. Listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him grow His fruit in us.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Don't Like Parking Tickets, Either

Now what was I just saying in my last post? Something about how discipline is intended to work something good in our lives. Something about how it would be better to receive the discipline rather than try to throw blame on anyone or anything other than ourselves.

Well, I had to put my money where my mouth is this past Friday night. Rachel and I went to the final home football game of the season. We parked a block or two from the stadium and walked in. When we came back out, I found this little yellow envelope under my windshield wiper. 

At age 52, I received my very first parking ticket. (No, I don't consider this a desirable rite of passage.) I was ticketed for parking on the curb. "What?!?" I thought. "How could I have parked on the curb and not known it?"

I walked over to the passenger side to have a look. Sure enough, my back tire was about one inch onto the curb...which was only about one inch higher than the street at that point. I hadn't even felt the tire bump up onto the curb when I parked.

I must admit that my first thought was that this was a pretty silly ticket for a police officer to give. Much like the student who tries to blame their detention troubles on anyone other than himself or herself, I tried to do some mental gymnastics that would prove me right and the police officer unreasonable.

That stage lasted all of about fifteen seconds. You see, I really do believe what I wrote in the post last week. If I really do believe it, I must live by it. Whether the curb was one inch high or six inches high doesn't matter. It makes no difference whether my tire was a half inch onto the cub or five inches onto the cub. 

I was, in fact, wrong. I deserved the ticket. So I will drop that little yellow envelope in a ticket box somewhere on Main Street tomorrow, and I will be very thankful to be out only $10. I will also be sure to pay it within 120 hours. Otherwise, another consequence - a higher fine - will be applied.

I DON'T want to deserve that one.

And I will most certainly be more aware of curbs, especially in those areas where curbs are low. Once again, discipline achieves its intended goal.

At the time, discipline isn’t much fun.
It always feels like it’s going against the grain.
Later, of course, it pays off handsomely,
for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature
in their relationship with God.
(Hebrews 12:11 The Message)

Monday, October 13, 2014

But I Don't LIKE Detentions!

In my job as a high school secretary, many students come in and out of the office every day.

Sometimes they come for routine reasons - buying a parking pass, looking for a lost item, getting permission to do this or that. Some come just to say hello...and to get a pice of candy from then secretaries. Those are enjoyable interactions.

Other students come for reasons that are far from fun - like those who are in trouble for getting into a fight or swearing at a teacher. The principals deal with those situations, and I handle the paperwork.

Image found here.
I guess "Detention" actually was
a short-lived cartoon series some time ago.
Then there are those in-between situations in which a student is in trouble for a minor infraction. The secretaries themselves handle those. I had one of those situations today. Our school, for the first year, is requiring students and staff alike to wear ID badges at school. We have temporary sticker IDs if they forget the badge. When a student has forgotten his or her ID three times, I have to issue a detention.

A girl today had reached that point, and I called her to the office to give her a detention. Now this girl has received detentions before fore skipping classes...and has yet to serve even one of them. I told her that she really did need to serve the detention. Her response, "But I don't like detentions."

Hmmmm. Many thoughts flew through my head that I did not allow to fly out of my mouth. I kept a smile on my face and replied that no one LIKES to serve detentions. Of course not.

Basically, no one LIKES discipline of any kind. It's not supposed to be enjoyable.
  • No one LIKES to pay parking tickets...or speeding tickets.
  • No one LIKES to pay library fines.
  • No one LIKES to have their paycheck docked for being late to work.
  • And the list goes on...
All these things fall in the category of discipline designed to cause people to make good choices and be responsible, so they don't have to suffer the consequences of doing wrong. When the discipline is applied, a person, hopefully, thinks twice before once again speeding down the highway, parking illegally, being careless with due dates, or oversleeping.

My young friend today, realistically, will probably not serve this detention either, and a more severe discipline will await her in the future. For now, she seems to think that any discipline she is given is really the fault of the secretary or the principal. Rules don't apply to her, so neither does discipline.

She has not yet learned the lesson that discipline is actually meant for her good, and that it is something from which she can learn a valuable lesson. I hope one day soon, she will come to realize this truth.

But to be honest, am I any better? Are you?

Image found here
I remember years ago when I got a speeding ticket for going 45 in a 25 MPH zone. It was a four-lane, wide, straight road that didn't look like it should have been 45 MPH. In my heart of hearts, I tried to blame it on the situation, and the "unreasonable" speed limit. It was the fault of someone or something else. Not really my fault.

Of course, it WAS my fault. I broke the law, and I deserved the consequence. I paid the ticket, though, and you'd better believe I slowed down on that stretch of road in the future. The discipline did its intended work.

I think that we all tend to blame others rather than take responsibility for our actions. This holds true not only for traffic tickets and library fines, but also for the natural consequences that occur in our relationships when we neglect, misuse, or abuse those around us. Those natural consequences are another form of discipline God uses to bring us back where we need to be...if we let it do so.

Unfortunately, when relationships get messed up because we did or said something hurtful, our first instinct often is to push the blame onto the other person rather than take responsibility for our part of the problem.

It is easy to look at the high school girl who complains about "not liking detentions" and feel somewhat superior to her. The fact is that even though the discipline God uses with me takes a different form than detentions, I don't like discipline any more than she does.

After all, God's Word tells us this.
At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. (Hebrews 12:11a The Message)
That is not the end of the story, though. The same verse goes on to say this.
Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (Hebrews 12:11 The Message)
The question is this. Will I receive God's discipline - whatever form it takes - with a humble heart? Will I learn from it, grow from it, and be better for it? Or will I try to shift the blame somewhere else, refuse the lesson, and fail to grow.

The choice is mine. The choice is yours. So what will it be.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Something I Learned from a Bee Sting

Tuesday morning - Poor girl
Rachel has had a bit of an adventure this week. On Monday on the playground at school, a bee stung her on the side of the face near her eye. They took care of her at school, of course, and gave her a cold pack to put on the site of the sting. It didn't look too bad when she went to bed, although she did complain of her face feeling strange.

Something happened overnight, though. When she woke up, her right eye was swollen completely shut. I gave her a cool compress to put on her eye. I was so thankful that my parents are nearby. Mom took care of her while I went to work, and took her to the doctor. Benadryl and ice was the prescription.

Wednesday night - looking better.
At home later that night, I got online and read up on what could have been done for a bee sting. I learned a few things, both from the research and from the doctor.
  1. Her eye became so swollen because in that location, there is not much flesh to absorb the venom. A sting on the leg would not swell nearly as much.
  2. It is important to remove the stinger as quickly as possible, The longer the stinger remains in the victim's body, the more venom is released.
  3. Early treatment with antihistamines and ice can help prevent some of the swelling.
If you've read my blog very much, you know that I often look for parallels between everyday life and spiritual truth. I see a few parallels here between bee stings and attacks of the enemy..
  1. This photo, although taken some time ago,
     is more what her eye looks like now.
    I forgot to get a photo tonight.

    Satan will always attack us at our most vulnerable point. If he were to attack at a point of strength, the effect would be minimal. But an attack at a point of vulnerability can have a much more severe result. This is why beekeepers wear protective clothing. This is why we need our spiritual armor to protect our vulnerable spots.
  2. When we are "stung" by Satan and give in to temptation, it is important to quickly remove the "stinger". This is confession. When we quickly confess our wrong, the "stinger" of sin is removed. If we refuse to confess the wrong, the "stinger" remains, allowing the poison to spread and cause greater damage.
  3. Once the "stinger" is removed, we need to take active steps to right the wrong that was done. Restoration, restitution, refocusing. All these things and more act as spiritual "antihistamines". They may come into play to reduce the damage and return us to health.
I am happy to say that Rachel's eye is pretty much back to normal now. I am also thankful for the little lesson I learned from a bee sting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Praise in the Midst of Problems

I was just browsing through some of my old newsletters from my years in Indonesia. I was actually looking for one where I described the theft of my laptop...along with many other items...when Rachel and I visited Surabaya to get her first tourist visa. I haven't found that story yet, but I did run across this one.

As I read it, it made me think about how much practice we can get learning to praise God even in the midst of the problems and trials of life. Even when those trials keep pouring in one after the other, seemingly without end. In this true-life account, God taught me a few lessons about praise in the midst of problems. What did He use to tech the lesson? He used a couple temperamental cars.. Here is the story as it was told in May 2007.

Image found here
Have you ever had one of those days?  Well, I have.  It would more accurate to say that I have had one of those weeks…nearly two to be precise.  There is nothing overtly spiritual about things I want to share with you, but God has been using the mundane, frustrating events surrounding the problems of an old car to teach me a thing or two about praising Him in the midst of problems.  I hope you will indulge me as I share the story.
For starters, two weekends ago, my car would not start when I tried to leave for church both Sunday morning and evening (problem).  Kind neighbors push-started it (praise).  The same thing happened three times on Monday, the final time happening as I was on my way to take the car in for repairs (problem).  The service station sent someone out to help me on the side of the road and got the car running enough to make it to the station (praise).  Rachel, at age 19 months, was with me through all this, and she handled a couple hours of waiting with great patience and humor (PRAISE!!!) 
On Wednesday morning, I still had problems with the electrical system (problem). I took it in to a local service station.  They fixed the immediate problem and even dropped my car off at my house for me (praise).  It became obvious Thursday morning that something else was wrong, this time not with the electrical system (problem).  The service station went to work again and replaced a worn-out oil pump (praise). 
Sunday morning, the car started beautifully.  I headed into the city for church.  A police officer held up traffic on a main road to let me enter from a side road.  Unfortunately, a young man on a motorbike didn’t see the officer’s signal to stop.  He ran into my front bumper (Problem). Thankfully, neither my car nor his bike were damaged and no one was injured (Praise!)  Before church, I stopped at an ATM machine.  When I turned the key, the car wouldn’t start…again (Problem).  Thankfully, it was only a short distance to church, and taxis were plentiful (Praise). 
After the service, Rachel and I ate some lunch, and I got some help to try and push-start the car.  It was no use.  The car simply wouldn’t start (Problem).  One man called a company that provides emergency roadside assistance (Praise). Help came and the mechanic got the car going again (Praise).  I decided I ought to take the car to a service station yet again that specialized in my model of car.  Unfortunately, that place was all the way across town and I was running very low on gas (Problem).  I didn’t have the nerve to risk shutting off the engine to fill up the tank, so I just headed straight to the service station to drop off the car.  We made it without running out of gas (Praise)! We took a taxi back to where we were spending the night.  We were halfway there when I realized that the key for the house was still on the key ring I left with the car (Problem).  Thankfully, we were only halfway to the house instead of right at the gate (Praise). 
Monday afternoon, I was told that the needed repairs would take a few days.  I rented a car on Tuesday.  On Thursday, I ran some errands in the rental car and had already made a couple stops.  When I turned the key for what was supposed to be the final time that day…you guessed it…the rental car wouldn’t start.  Dead battery, of course…what else would it be? (PROBLEM).  I called the rental company, and they agreed to send someone out to help me (Praise).  I told them I would try to get the
Image found here
car push-started so I could at least get it home and wait there.  Thankfully, this all happened near the children’s home. Several of the older boys and a man on staff push-started the car (Praise).  It ran just until the end of the street when it died again (Problem).  Several men I didn’t even know pushed it around the corner and I parked at the side of the road.  One young man saw me walking tiredly back toward the children’s home…a long uphill walk.  He offered to give me a ride home on his motorbike (Praise). 
Finally, about noon on Friday, the mechanic from the city drove my newly repaired car to my town, got the rental running, and took it back to the city.  He even went to bat for me with the rental company and insisted that I only be charged for two days rental of the car, not three (PRAISE!).   
All-in-all, it has been an “educational” couple weeks…not so much in terms of “kingdom work”, but in terms of seeing God’s hand at work and learning to praise Him when the natural tendency would be to grumble and complain. Hmmmmm. You know, I guess that actually IS a part of kingdom work, after all.

In everything give thanks…  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Urgent vs. the Important

One of the things I have found most challenging about my new job as a high school secretary is the sheer busy-ness of the job. I admit that it is more challenging right now at the beginning of the year when I am new and several hundred students are purchasing parking passes so they can park on campus. This particular season will pass, only to be followed by other major projects, but the parking pass procession is particularly difficult.

image found here
You see, at various times of the day, I will have a couple dozen students lined up in front of my desk, all wanting to get their parking pass before security starts issuing parking fines. Plenty of urgent business.

Yet at the same time, I need to keep up with the more weighty issues of student discipline that the assistant principal for whom I work needs to deal with. She sends me emails to let me know what tasks I need to do next. Today, I missed noticing several of these important emails until too late. It is so easy to get focused on the urgent, and miss the important.

This focus on the urgent - the tyranny of the urgent as Charles E. Hummel puts it - tends to plague the best of us. We allow the things that are right in front of us to take our full attention. In the meantime, we allow more important things to slip past our attention simply because they don't clamor as loudly for our attention.

I can take steps to fix the problem of not seeing my boss's important emails until much later by setting an alert whenever a message from her comes into my mailbox. It is much more difficult to ensure that the "tyranny of the urgent" does not crowd out the truly important things in our lives.

What will I do to make sure THAT doesn't happen? What about you?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Has It Already Been a Year?

Last year, on August 12th, Rachel and I boarded a plane in Bali, Indonesia, and began our long flight back to the United States. So much has been jam-packed into this last twelve months.

Time certainly flies, doesn't it?  Image found here.
Some of it has been difficult...
  • a long and bitterly cold winter
  • months of work that, although enjoyable, was unstable
  • re-adjusting to new dynamics of life back in the States
Some of it has been a blessing...
  • reconnecting with people who I rarely saw while living overseas
  • seeing Rachel bond with a larger family than just me
  • seeing her thrive at school
  • being blessed finally with a full-time job
I have learned much about trusting God when I don't see clearly what lies ahead. I am still and always learning that no matter how much I think I know, I can do nothing apart from Him.

I look forward to the adventure of this next year. What will God have in store?
Whatever lies in store, I can be certain of this one rock-solid truth.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
Phillipians 4:13

Friday, August 1, 2014

Learning Through Life's Loops

This picture of Cedar Point's Corkscrew is found here.
Tomorrow is a day I have been looking forward to for over a year. It has been at least ten years, I think, since I have visited Cedar Point, one of the very best amusement parks in the world. Seven members of my family are going. I am looking forward to spending time with them.

I am also very much looking forward to the roller coasters. Of all the roller coasters I have ever ridden in my life, I think there is only one I haven't liked. (I won't mention the name of that one here, though.) 

Cedar Point's Mantis - image found here
I thoroughly enjoy the excitement of being taken to the top of a hill and then plunged at high speed down the other side. You say goodbye to your stomach at the top of the hill, and it catches up to you at then platform at the end of the ride. Once you're strapped into the car and it starts to move, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Scary? Yes. 
Exhilarating? Definitely!

There are other rides at the amusement park.
  • Rides like the carousel. Tame. Predictable. Safe. 
  • Rides like the ferris wheel. True, you have to deal with being pretty high up, but still, much tamer than a rollercoaster.
  • Rides like the teacups. You sit in a large teacup and spin as fast or slowly as you choose. YOU are in control. 

Rides like these have their place. After all, it would be a bit hard on the stomach to be subjected to nearly non-stop flips and rolls of rollercoasters all day long. But without the rollercoasters, and amusement park wouldn't be all that interesting.

In life, there are many different things that happen.

  • Much of life, like the carousel, is made up of fairly ordinary and tame events. Mundane. Not all that exciting.
  • Then, there are the ferris wheel events. These events stretch you a bit, even as the riders of a ferris wheel are stretched to adjust to seeing the world from high in the air.
  • There are the teacup-like parts of life. The events that we try to control in some way or other. These adventures are ones that we choose. We get spun around a bit, but we still remain in control.
Cedar Point's Maverick . Image found here.
And then, there are the rollercoaster events. These events can be amazingly exciting in a good way, or they can be terribly painful. 
The journey of adoption.
The journey through illness or injury.
Raising a family.
Losing a job.
Once you are strapped into the car of journeys like these, you can't get off. You have to go through it. You are committed for the entire ride, whether you like it or not.

For the believer in Jesus, we can be assured that we face the ups and downs of these "rides" with the safety restraints in place. Jesus will not send us out to free fall when the train barrel rolls around a loop in the track.

Might we be terrified as our car gets ready to take a steep plunge? Sure.
Might we want to close our eyes as the train goes into a dark tunnel? Perhaps.
Is it possible that we might wonder if, spiritually speaking, our stomachs will ever catch up with us? Probably.
Will there be times when we find it hard to even breathe? Without a doubt.

One thing is for certain, though. After riding one of life's wild rollercoasters with Jesus at our side, we can step out of the car, look at Him and say, "Wow! That was amzing!"

You see, some lessons in life, we can never learn on a carousel. We can only learn it on a rollercoaster.

Has God taught you something on a "rollercoaster" in your life that you would never have learned on a "carousel"? Why not share it in a comment below?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's Not Just a Job

I started my new job this past Monday. The high school where I am working has about 2500 students. The freshman are in their own wing and, except for lunchtimes when they venture into the main part of the school to get to the cafeteria, they essentially have their own  school. 

Grades 10-12 have over 600 students per grade level. That is a lot of kids. I am secretary to the principal who works with the 10th - 12th grade kids with last names starting with A-G. There is also a counselor on the A-G team. Then, there is the H-Q team…and of course, the R-Z team. By dividing the student body that way, rather than by grades, the kids stay with the same principal…and team…throughout their last three years of high school. A  good arrangement, I think.

Image found here
For part of today, I worked on putting stickers into each kid’s cumulative file. On the stickers was printed their grades for the 2013-14 school year. I started with the upcoming seniors today. I’ll get the upcoming sophomores and juniors tomorrow. 

As I place the sticker in each file, I glanced over the grade stickers from previous years and took note of what each student’s grades had been like over time as compared to the past year. It was a small thing, but this gave me a snapshot into their lives. With this little piece of the puzzle, I prayed for each student as I handled their file.

  • When I saw the straight-A student with the bright, smiling face, I prayed for God to bless her in her hard work and to let her know that her worth wasn’t just in her good grades, but she is precious to God.
  • Then I saw the boy who used to get really good grades, but they had really slipped for some reason two years ago. This past year, they came back up again. For that student, I prayed that he would persevere, and keep moving in the right direction.
  • Another student might be consistently in the middle of the road academically. For that student, I might pray that he or she would not settle for doing less that their best.
  • Then, there might be a student who, for whatever reason, had apparently given up. Grades used to be OK, but the bottom had dropped out this past year. My heart broke for students like that, and my prayer for them was that God would reach them…and that He would use me in some way to show that student that he or she is loved.
 So many student. So many situations. So many ways to pray.

Yes, it’s a secular job…but it is still a ministry. 

May God find me faithful.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home from Camp - Off to a New Job

In my last post, I wrote about Rachel going to camp for the first time. As I knew she would, she had a great time. Lots of good memories, new friends, and some good chapel times. I think of all the great memories I had from my own years at camp, and I can just picture how much fun she had. Rachel is definitely looking forward to camp again next year.

Image found here
As for me, tomorrow I will begin my new job as secretary for one of the vice-principals of our local high school. I am looking forward to this work so very much. It puts me back in the education setting, although not as a teacher. It also allows me to work with teens. This is an age group I came to love working with while I was in Indonesia.

In this new chapter of my life, I am reminded of an important verse. It is a good one to give direction and purpose to all I do.

So ... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, July 11, 2014

Off to Camp Next Week

Image found here
Next week is a big first for Rachel. She and two other girls from our church will be going away to church camp for the first time. We will drive down this Sunday morning and the girls will be picked up on Saturday morning.

I remember how very much I loved going to camp throughout my childhood, and I am excited for my little girl. She is going to have so much fun. This is a different camp than the one I attended as a child, but I am certain it will be great.

Rachel is excited about the games, and the swimming. Perhaps she has pictures in her mind of sitting around a campfire every night making S'mores. That, of course, won't be the case, but there will be more than enough good times to enjoy.

Most of all, I pray that this coming week will be a very special time where she grows deeper in her faith, and comes to love Jesus more and more. I pray that what she learns and experiences at camp will be life-changing in a marvelous, positive way.

I am so thankful for the people who dedicate so much time and energy so that little children can come closer to Jesus.

Let the little children come to me...
Matthew 19:14

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating Freedom

Yesterday was the first Fourth of July I have spent in the United States in twenty years. As for Rachel, this was her first one ever. She was so excited about the celebration.

Thursday night, I had gone shopping for food we needed for the picnic on Friday. As I headed to the store, I saw that cars were lining up and people were camping out at the edge of cornfields facing the fairgrounds. They were staking out places to see the fireworks.

After I was done shopping, I hurried back to my parents' house where Rachel was spending the day with her Grandma. I took her out to see the fireworks. We drove around looking for a good place to watch. I wasn't sure where, exactly, would be the best place. I turned down an alley beside a local school to cut over to the next street. As it turns out,the perfect parking place was right down that alley. The fairgrounds was perhaps two streets away. No trees blocked the view. I must say, we got the best view of fireworks that I have ever had in my life.

Mom was in on much of this excitement. She and wrote this and posted this photo on her Facebook page. I'll let her words speak for themselves.

Yesterday was the first 4th of July Rachel celebrated in the US. She was so excited. She knew where she wanted the games set out in the yard. She looked at the video I took last year and told me what food she wanted me to serve. The entire day was what she wanted. The weather was great and as Rachel said everything was perfect. However one thing really impressed me. When Chuck hung out the flag, Rachel ask if we could say the Pledge of Allegiance. Of course we did. But seeing her, an 8 year old little girl from Bali, standing straight and tall with her hand over her heart was an emotional time for me. It made me wonder how many things are taken for granted and if we will always have these freedoms.

May we not take these freedoms for granted.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Wait is Over

image found here
You know that job I interviewed for yesterday? 

Well they already gave it away.... some 51-year-old lady who came back to the States from Indonesia ten months ago.  Yes, I got the job! 

I will be a school secretary for the principal who works with the students whose last names start from A-G. They divide the student body up this way so that students have the same principal throughout their years at Findlay High School.

image found here
This is such an answer to prayer.  I can see God's hand all over this. It has been a challenging ten months since Rachel and I returned from Bali, but I have learned a lot. I have gained some new skills, met some amazing people, and done some interesting work. Now, I am ready to move on into the next chapter of my life.

This is a secular job, but in the life of a believer, everything is ministry. I trust that God will use me in this job to show His love to the students, parents and staff with whom I will work.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Job Interview Complete...and Now I Wait

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By way of a quick update on the job interview I had this morning, I feel like things went quite well. As it turns out, I was interviewing for two positions at the same time - one in the high school, and one at a local middle school.

I feel good about how the interview went. Most of the questions they asked were ones I had anticipated, so I had what I hope was a reasonable, intelligent answer. Several of the secretarial duties they described involved activities similar to things I did as a field coordinator in Bali. The fact that I have had recent first aid and CPR training seemed to be a plus.

I know they are interviewing quite a few candidates for these two positions. The start date would be July 22nd, so I should know within the next few weeks if I am hired or not. Obviously, the sooner, the better.

I appreciate all of you who prayed for me to have a good interview. God answered your prayers. Now, let's keep praying for God's will to be done as to the outcome. Also, please pray for peace as I wait for news.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Job Interview Coming Up

This will be just a short post tonight.

A little less than a year ago, Rachel and I returned to the USA from Indonesia. In these past 10 months, I have worked retail, worked as a substitute teacher in several local schools, and am currently finishing training to work as a substitute over the summer in a facility that provides care for adults with developmental disabilities.

I have enjoyed all these types of work, but am still waiting for God to open up work in a full-time position. This week is a big one for me. This Thursday morning, I have an interview for a secretarial position at the local high school. I believe I would fit well in this position. Even though I have never been an official, paid secretary, I have served as secretary in pretty much any organization in which I have served over the past twenty years.  Of course, I won't know this week if I get the job or not, but I truly hope and pray that I can present myself well, and that God will open the door for me if this is the job He has in mind for me.

For those of my readers who are praying people, I certainly would appreciate your prayers. Thursday morning, 9:30-10:00 EST. I'll let you know how things go.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Do I Really Want a Heart Like His?

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In my last post, I shared the lyrics of a song that really means a lot to me. The song is a prayer asking for God's heart, His eyes, His hands, and His feet. 

I wrote the post on Sunday. On Wednesday, I practiced the song with Rachel and her friend. Then on Thursday, the words of this song - especially the first verse - challenged me in a very practical way.

Give to me, Oh Lord
A heart that beats like Yours  
Full of compassion for the ones You love.

I'm training to be a substitute for staff who serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Sometimes this job is enjoyable. Other times, it is just downright difficult. Thursday was one of those difficult days. Due to privacy issues, I can't share details of how the day went. 

I will say, though, that I went home that night very tired. When I crawled into bed, a couple of the individuals who had been especially challenging that day kept coming to mind. Then, the words of the song came to mind. 

Give to me, Oh Lord
A heart that beats like Yours\
Full of compassion for the ones You love.

Were those words truly the prayer of my heart? Do I really want God's heart of compassion for the "difficult people" I sometimes have to work with? I can say that in this case...yes, I do. Not only do I want His heart. I need His heart in order to serve the people with whom I work.

A question remains. What about the other people around me? Around you? We all know people who are "difficult" in some way or another. Am I willing to ask for God's heart of compassion toward them? Are you willing to pray for a heart like His?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Give Me a Heart Like Yours

When I lived in Bali, Indonesia and worked with a terrific group of teenagers from the children's home, I had a favorite song. It was a prayer that I truly hoped would become the longing of the hearts of each of the teens in the group...and my heart as well.

I am back in Ohio now, and my church in having a 40-day prayer focus. This Indonesian song came to mind, and I searched the web to see if it had perhaps actually been translated from English. When I could not locate any song with English lyrics that went with the same tune, I decided to translate the song myself. Rachel and a friend of hers will sing it in church, probably sometime next month.

I'd like to share the words with you.

Give to me, Oh Lord
A heart that beats like Yours
Full of compassion for the ones You love.

Give to me, Oh Lord
Eyes that see like Yours
Open to see the harvest all around.

Give to me hands like Yours
Strong for the task You set before me.
Give to me feet like Yours 
Ready to walk the path You show me.

Give me, Lord
Give me, Lord
Give me a heart like Yours.

I don't know about you, but I think this would be a good prayer for all of us.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chuckling at the Speed Bumps of Life

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When we lived in Indonesia, one of the "delights" of driving was the presence of polisi tidur -- sleeping policeman. No, I'm not talking about human policeman asleep on the job. I am talking about the speed bumps that existed in plenty to control the speed of traffic in residential areas.

Don't get me wrong. These polisi tidur are needed. Without them, cars and motorbikes would have zoomed through areas where small children played in the streets. Those who fail to heed these "sleeping policemen" might very well find their motorbike airborne or the transmission on their car getting the worst of the experience.

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Some of these speed bumps are not too bad. They do the job without doing any damage. Others, though, resemble ten inch diameter pipes buried in a shallow furrow in the street and barely coated with cement. These are the ones that every driver hates.

Not everybody minds the polisi tidur, though. When my daughter was about two years old, she absolutely loved those bumps. We had to cross probably ten or so of these whenever we drove to a certain friend's house. I would slow the car down to a crawl when I approached each speed bump, but no matter how slowly I crossed them, it always resulted in a good-sized bounce. With each bump, Rachel giggled, chortled and chuckled in the back seat. "Again, Mommy! Again!" (As if I had a choice in the matter.)

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God gives us speed bumps in our lives from time to time. Sometimes, we are set on our own plans. We want to race ahead with our own plans. If we do, we may very well end up in trouble. God's speed bumps slow us down and keep us (and sometimes others) safe.

We may not like them. We may view them as inconvenient obstacles.  OR...we can view them as gifts from the hand of our Father. When we see one ahead, slow down. Cross safely. And just maybe, in some strange way, you can be like Rachel and get a chuckle as you experience the bump.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Be Careful What You Let In

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Last night, I was attempting to figure out how to do something in Microsoft Word that I didn't yet know how to do.  In the process, I found an online tutorial to help me. Unfortunately, my computer lacked a particular file that would allow me to fully use the tutorial.

I attempted to download the file. I failed to notice that I also gave permission for the computer to download a number of other programs -- malware that wreaked havoc on my system. 

I spent hours tonight undoing the damage. I deleted the programs that I had inadvertently downloaded last night. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and HitmanPro went to work to seek out and destroy all the little files that those unwanted programs had spread through the system.

Thankfully, I seem to have succeeded. I hope I have succeeded.

Here's the thing. I was careless with my computer, and I allowed things in that didn't belong. I wasn't vigilant, and I ended up with a mess.

How like life. How easy it is to get so involved with our plans and goals that we allow things in that shouldn't be there. Perhaps we focus so closely on a particular goal that we compromise. We do or say things that we know we shouldn't.

In the process, we create messes in our own lives, in our relationships with others, and in our relationship with God. How delighted our Enemy is when we fall for these tactics.

Thankfully, God has provided a way to get us back up and running. When we confess whatever it was that got us into the mess to begin with, we "delete" those files. Then God's "Malwarebytes" and "HitmanPro" goes to work as the Holy Spirit leads us through the process of forgiveness and restoration. By the time He is finished, our hearts are right with Him again, and there is hope of restoration of relationships with others.

What is our job after that? Be more vigilant next time, and don't let the malware in.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 
1 Peter 5:8

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