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Archive for September, 2010

Salt

In movie theaters this summer was the latest movie starting Angelina Jolie.  Salt‘ was a contemporary espionage thriller about a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy and who becomes a federal fugitive.  I wondered why the movie was titled Salt.  Yes, I learned it was the character’s last name, but it made me think of the saying, “he is the salt of the earth” and similar statements as I tried to determine why the writers would name this movie character “salt.”  I was drawn to the Bible verse I remembered from childhood, “you are the salt of the earth…”  (Matt 5:13) And, I started to question what does that mean?  What does it mean to have the qualities of salt? 

 How do I, as a woman exhibit salt in my world?

 My prayer is that during this week in sharing my search for my “saltiness” we might find together new ways we can be women who exhibit the characteristics of salt, as

  • Salt flavors. 
  • Salt preserves food so it will last longer. 
  • Salt purifies; salt heals. 
  • Salt satisfies. 
  • Salt melts

In a daily life with the many roles woman are called to fulfill in our world, how can we be “salt” without becoming a “pillar of salt” as Lot’s wife did in Genesis 19:26? Throughout this week we will explore these properties of salt to learn more about being gracious and effective in our communication with others.  Please join us for the five Daily Devotionals that relate to this topic.

 We are called to be salt, but with the balance of love.  The world needs both saltiness and love if it is to see Christ as Lord and Savior.  Help me Father to be both—keep me in balance. Keep me salty so that I am usable in Your Hands.  Amen.

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Her eyes were filled with tears and she could barely speak. It was terrible to see my friend in that much pain. What was the tragedy? A lost loved one? An unexpected move across the country? No, something more common yet still devastating. Someone my friend cared for had taken advantage of their close relationship, wounding her with words that cut deep into her heart. She was bleeding emotionally and the only “wise advice” I could think of in the moment took me back to around third grade and was completely inappropriate to the depth of pain she was feeling.

Do you remember that spunky come-back from elementary school? “I am rubber you are glue, bounce off me and stick to you.” Or the old “sticks and stones” standby? You know, it didn’t work on the third grade playground and it still doesn’t work now. People can hurt us and little rhymes can not remove that pain!

Where should we go when people hurt us by their words or by their actions? How do we embrace taking the “high road” when we would really prefer to scorch them with our own hateful response? What can we do to place ourselves into a pathway of peace and personal emotional health after being wounded?

We will look at these real life questions in five Daily Devotionals . The Bible has wise advice to share on this topic and we would love for you to join the conversation!

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In general, women love to have conversations.  With our friends over coffee or over a romantic dinner with a loved one or in  the car with our kids, communication is important to most women.  We are pretty good at talking, but we can always improve!  Here are some hints we found for making great conversation:

1.  Focus on others, not just your own interests.

2.  Listen and respond in such a way that shows you are hearing. 

3.  Eye contact is important…don’t allow yourself to be distracted.

It is easy to recognize the wisdom in those hints, but what if we are talking about conversations with someone who you can’t see with your physical eyes or hear with your physical ears?  Like conversations with God.  Funny thing is, those hints still apply, we just have to use our spiritual eyes and ears.  Through five different Daily Devotionals we will explore some of the ways we communicate with God.  We hope you will enjoy!

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Last but certainly not least…this is our final interview for our Labor Day Celebration at Given the Time.  Next week we will return to our normal schedule with a blog on Sunday and Daily Devotionals Monday through Friday.  We hope you have enjoyed this series as much as we have!

What have you chosen as your current work?

I am a home maker, stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home wife, and home-schooling mom.

What led you to choose this multi-faceted career?

Okay, I have to chuckle because I think this career chose me.  Perhaps life events had to occur for God to get my attention and to put me on the track He had for me, moving from the one that I was sold-out to keep following.

After completing a bachelor’s and master’s degrees, passing a national exam, and completing a clinical program to become nationally certified as a speech-language pathologist, and receiving my elementary teaching certificate, I had professional goals that received the majority of my energy.  Once getting married, the energy into my career shifted, but remained high.  After leaving the private and medical sectors, I entered into the public school system as a speech-language pathologist.  Soon, I was on the track to complete a specialist degree in educational leadership.  The thrill of being successful in my career and viewed as a valuable asset to the school district was energizing.

After being married for 6 years with no children, we began different fertility interventions and even pursued adoption..  Finally, we were expecting after 7 years of marriage and twins no less!  Much to our surprise, God had a different course planned for this experience than our own plan.  The twins were born at 20 weeks, too little to survive.  This was a pivotal experience for us both.  We knew at that time that life with the Lord is a roller coaster so we had better take hold of the grip bar in front of us, hold on tightly, and embrace whatever He had for us.  It was either this or scream and cry the entire way, missing blessings and lessons during the “ride.”  It was at this time that I surrendered to whatever was before us.  Within a year we were expecting again and our daughter was born.

We still were holding on to bits of our plan which included my taking a leave of absence for up to the allowed three years and then returning to work part-time.  Family would care for our daughter and it would all be good—my career, my salary, family-based day care, a “happy” family.  But a phenomenon occurred—each passing moment with our daughter grew my desire to be with her all day, every day. God’s provisions, careful planning and sacrifices allowed this to happen.

When our daughter was nearing the end of kindergarten, I was pregnant again.  Working outside the home was not a consideration even then, nor was changing the schooling choice for our daughter.  The unplanned happened again.  At a church picnic on the Latson Road property, a casual acquaintance shared that the Lord had put me on her heart and that she wanted to tell me that I would be good at home schooling.  No way!  Not me!  I’m all about public and/or private schooling and the sense of community that comes along with them.  Home schooling was in the newspapers, the radio, every where I turned.  Choosing to stay home was one thing, but adding home schooling moved me to territory I never expected to visit!

What do you like the most about your job?

I most like the opportunity to intentionally design my schedule and maximize the time I have with our girls while they live at home.  The time has gone by quickly as it is, but I have been blessed to have had the most time possible with them.  And, although I don’t offer monetary support to our family, I provide support and benefits that cannot be assigned a dollar value.  It is fulfilling and challenging to be my husband’s best friend, cheerleader, encourager, helping him do his best at work.  It has also been a privilege to partner with our girls as we do school at home.  Plus, schooling at home allows us to get the school work done with time to spend together in the afternoon and evenings, minus additional home work.  Within God’s framework I can attempt to be sensitive to His leading throughout the day to directly and often immediately meet the needs of my family and others. 

What challenges do you face in your work?

Oh, what to do next!  There never seems to be enough that I can give to play, cleaning, organizing, errands, ministry, schooling, being a wife, and, and, and!  Oh, to have balance.  I think of a level that has a bubble in the middle when it’s even, on kilter, balanced.  That’s another picture I have when I feel overwhelmed.  I check if my bubble is off.  Correcting it can seem nearly impossible, but adjustments–some hard, some easy—begin to bring the bubble back to center.  The “Proverbs 31 Woman” isn’t meant to put one in slavery, but to offer freedom to serve and minister to my family and others.

How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your career choice?

God never pulls the rug out from under my feet.  He is the solid ground that never shifts.  Whether it’s a phone call, a sweet word from the girls, a schooling victory, a song, or a Bible passage, I always get that hand up just in the nick of time.  Thankfully, His word fuels my tired spirit as I remember that I’m still “arriving.”

Where do you find inspiration when things get hard?
 Quiet time.  Bible time.  Prayer time.  Reflection time.  Those are the places I know which to run first, but usually I go there after calling a friend, my husband, or crying in the bathroom.  The point is to know where the refreshing source of energy resides and to make it there.  God loves to renew and restore no matter what the life circumstance may be so that He gets the glory in the end.

Is there a lesson you have learned or piece of advice you can pass on to other women?

I used to pray for my day by telling God all that I had on my plate for the day, asking Him to help me get it done.  Somewhere along the way I realized that I was asking Him for His approving nod to my plans, not coming to Him in humility for His superior direction.  Here’s the switch that lines it up better for me:   I am standing in the buffet line of festive celebration with an empty plate, waiting patiently for God to decide on the selections and the amounts of each.  He alone knows what’s best for my day that is really His any way.  There is always more than enough time in each to accomplish all that God deems best for the day.  May I have the wisdom to choose the one thing that pleases Him most (Luke 10:38-42)—serving Him whole-heartedly through serving family first, smoothing the way for them to be all that God has designed for their ultimate adventure with Christ!

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In the two weeks surrounding Labor Day, Given the Time has been posting personal stories rather than our usual Sunday blog and Daily Devotionals. This is number 9 out of the 10 interviews in this series and we know you will be encouraged!

I am a salon owner and stylist, and am very blessed to love what I do!  Since I was a little girl I always wanted to do hair. My Mom is/was a pretty woman who cared about her appearance and was always doing our hair and I was doing hers – she was not a stylist – but probably should have been.  I didn’t go to school for cosmetology until my youngest child was in school and an opportunity presented itself for me to go part-time and work part-time in my church, which I also enjoyed.  I have had many other jobs in my life but these were kind of a dream for me and God provided them through the support and encouragement of a loving husband,the circumstances of moving and closing other doors in my life.  I have been in the hair industry now for aobut 12 years and a business owner for about 6 years.

What do you love about cosmetology?

It is busy, fun, exciting, and exhausting, just like anything else we do in life!  I really enjoy getting to know my clients and their families and over time they become like extended family to me.  We laugh and sometimes cry together, I pray for them and they for me at times.  I enjoy helping them look the best they can so they can run whatever race they are in – in life- with confidence and grace.  I play christian music in my salon for a relaxing and refreshing atmosphere that everyone seems to enjoy whether they are people of faith or not.

What challenges do you face?

My challenges have come from my own over ambition and lack of boundaries at times when I thought I could do it all and do it all well. Then God gently or not so gently, brought me back to sanity with balance.  When to say no, when to get real and stop whining, when to ask for help, and when to just pray and wait.  You can probably tell which ones are not so gentle…..

I think to stay inspired in any career and especially mine, education really helps; there is always something new to learn and get excited about, so hair shows and classes are very important.  But more than that I think, every person is so different, a unique gift from God for me to get to sculpt into the image He sees on the inside and I see on the outside.  Of course my vision is limited by humaness, but thankfully His is not, and sometimes I get a glimpse…..

What are some lessons you have learned through your career?

Things I have learned – I can’t do it all, don’t know it all, but His grace covers all!

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Welcome to Day 7 of Given the Time’s  interview series surrounding the weekend of Labor Day

God has given me a career in the teaching field.  While this was not my first choice in a career, it ended up being His.  My mother taught elementary for 34 years and I was passionate about not wanting to do what she did…I wanted to be my own person.  When I went off to college, I started out by majoring in Accounting.  It took me a year to figure out that was not what I wanted to do.  I switched to a Business Administration degree the next year and later decided to add on a Secondary Education endorsement “just in case.” 

After college, I got a job teaching adult education (this is where I met my husband.)  I knew it wasn’t going to pay the bills, so I looked for a job outside of teaching.  Human Resources called my name; I worked for several years as a Human Resource Director.  When we started our family, not only did I realize how tough it was to work 52 weeks a year, but I also realized how much I loved being with children.  It was then that I decided to go back to school to get my elementary endorsement.  Wow!  Talk about crazy!  Working full-time, being a mom of two (at the time) and going to school makes for a VERY tired girl!  With the stamina that only God can give, I finished and am now in my tenth year of teaching.

As with any job, I’m faced with ups and downs.  The first thing that makes me passionate about my job is the little faces that enter my classroom each day.  They’re smiling, energetic and ready to go.  I love their sense of humor while being eager to learn!  God has blessed me with support from parents over the years; teaching can be difficult if you don’t have this.  As I’m thinking about this idea of support, I’m also reminded of the support I get from my fellow teachers.  I have a wonderful group of teachers that keep me smiling and laughing (you need a lot of humor in the career!)  All of this doesn’t compare to the support I get from my own family, though.  They are understanding of the hours I keep and help out whenever possible.

Of course, with the positives also come the negatives…schedules, schedules, schedules.  Wow!  I’m not even sure where to go with this!  With four children of our own, plus working full time, schedules can be tricky and exhausting.  I find I rely on friends a lot more to help carpool or simply watch over them while I’m away.  This has been difficult over the years, as I’ve always been one to do things on my own.  I’d rather help than be helped.  One of the heartaches I have is when one of them asks me to be at their school holiday party and I have to tell them I need to be at my own.  I see their disappointed faces and it breaks my heart.  I’ll be honest, I’ve had a difficult time staying positive at times when I know my girlfriends are not working and are able to stay home with their children.  I’m not sure what I’d do all day long, though, since all of my children are in school.

Another challenge we face is family time.  It is so easy to get wrapped up with working and children’s schedules that it’s easy to lose sight of your relationship with your husband.  I haven’t always been the best in putting this relationship as a priority, but I’m learning how to slow down (just a bit) so I have extra energy to spend with my man!  I love my husband for being so supportive over the years and am in awe at God’s grace and mercy!

With all that is on my plate these days, I find it so comforting to just be able to talk with friends.  I have some of the best girlfriends in the world and I know I can call on them any time of the day/night and they’ll be there just to listen.  While they are truly a gift from God, I also find comfort in listening to worship songs.  He has such a unique way of speaking to me through the words of these songs.  I feel at peace and humble at the same time.

Advice for the working woman?  Do not let others allow you feel guilty if you choose to work outside the home.  God has placed people in certain areas to encourage others and build His kingdom.  I’d like to think He is using me in the teaching field to impact children’s lives in positive ways (and, even adults.)  I pray my attitude and spirit is one that shines His light … warming the hearts of students and adults.  Lean on God to help you through the tough times and rely on your girlfriends for support and love.  Realize and be accepting of His impact through you!

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Welcome to week two of our series celebrating Labor Day.  Todays interview highlights God’s faithfulness in a woman’s life as she works and lives for His glory.
What is your work?
I work in the fast food industry for a multi million dollar corporation.  I have worked there for 21 years; 18 months as a crew person, currently as a manager.
How did you choose this career?
The company I work for has been very flexible with my schedule throughout the years, with children going through school, extracurricular activities, family vacations, and church activities up to and including weeks of mission trips. Another  reason we chose this career 21 years ago was that we were looking for another way to help out in our family finances, wanting to have both our kids have a Christian education k-12 was very important.  Not gonna lie about it, it was also some time away from homemaker daily activities. (What was I thinking back then!)
What are some of your favorite things about your job and some of your challenges?
The favorite thing I like about my job is the diversity of employees and customers I have contact with every day.
The challenges are the same as my favorite things.
What role does God play in your life and in your career?
With my coworkers and customers I have come to know, I always try to be a good listener, a shoulder to cry on and also laugh with.  My coworkers know where I stand in my walk with the Lord. If they do or say something unacceptable I call them on it.  Always trying to be more Christlike, I let my coworkers know that I will mess up just like them and invite them to hold me accountable as I do them.
It’s a tough job at times, the challenges He gives me everyday.  This has been a 21 year mission trip as well as a career with young teenagers and mature adults…my kind of trip.

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