Monday, March 20, 2017

Hope . . . is Paralyzing.

Bad news stops us for awhile,
but then we move on.
Hope, though, is paralyzing.

I heard this quote on a tv show today.

It struck me . . . deeply.

God's Word tells us to have hope.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12


Yet . . . 

are there times that we should let go of hope?

are there times that we should give up on hope?

are there times that we should "move on" from hope?


Is there a point that the Lord might allow us
(or even instruct us) to give up on hope?


What does this quote mean that,

"Hope . . . is paralyzing."?


Can we get so stuck in our hope,
that we freeze?

Can we get so immobilized by hope,
that we can't move forward with life?


How do we know when to "stay strong" and "have hope";
or when it is time to "give up" and "move one"?



Monday, March 13, 2017

God is in the Details

When the Lord prompted me last month to take a last minute trip to Oklahoma and Minnesota, it was AMAZING to watch Him work out ALL of the details!

I gave my two-week notice at my dental office job on January 23rd.  On the 24th, the dentist told me that I could just "finish out the week", rather than staying on for two more weeks.  Also on the 24th, I chatted with Cassie about possibly coming for a visit to Minnesota.  On the 25th, I chatted with Kayla about a possible visit to Oklahoma.  My mind was whirring with possibilities of trying to fit both trips into one trip (and my finger were flying over the keyboard as I perused flight schedules, etc.)

I looked at the employee calendar at the bookstore, and saw that a couple of employees had some big vacations coming up, which meant that I would be getting some extra hours . . . and also meant that I needed to take my trip quickly, in order to be back to cover the other vacations.  I also needed to schedule my vacation around the two Bible Journaling Classes that I had scheduled to teach in February, along with other responsibilities.

Texts and emails were flying around between me and Cassie and Kayla, and I was looking closely at my budget (since I had just quit my well-paying job).  By January 27th, I had booked a $300 round-trip direct flight to Oklahoma (with only 8 days notice, which usually means much steeper prices).  On the 28th, I got a call from my manager asking if I could drive to the Lynnwood bookstore on the 29th to give their manager a day off.  "Sure."  That unplanned day brought in about $200 with paid travel time and mileage on top of my hourly wage.  Thanks, Lord!

I was also intently scouring online reservations for car rental.  I was a bit surprised to find out that my car rental would cost as much as the plane flight.  Ugh.  But, it was a necessity. 

The Lord then prompted me to read the "small print" on each online car rental contract, before making a reservation.  The first good deal that I found, required an actual credit card upon pick-up of the rental . . . . rather than a debit card.  We have not had a credit card in 30 years.  Take that one off the list.  The next good deal only allowed the car to be taken to 5 surrounding states, and Minnesota is not a "surrounding state" from Oklahoma.  Seriously?  I had never heard of this car rental rule.  Whew!  Glad I read the small print!  Thanks, Lord!  

The next budget problem came because I did not want an inexpensive "economy car".  We were going to be driving 1,000 miles each way . . . in the middle of winter . . . through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota.  The chance of snow was high.  I really wanted to rent an all-wheel-drive.  But, those could be $400-$500 for the week.  Yikes!

Then, the Lord prompted me to check the AAA site.  I have never looked at car rentals or plane flights on the AAA site.  We have AAA for the Road Side Protection Plan (and we used to LOVE the TripTik maps back before smart phones and gps).  I jumped on the AAA site.  I found a small SUV . . . with all-wheel-drive . . . with unlimited mileage and no state restrictions . . . and it cost $300 for 10 days (which was only about $30 more than the economy cars that I had found).  Thanks, Lord!  

Then . . . I got asked to work on the 30th at the Everett bookstore (training a new manager), which brought in another unexpected $200 for the day.  Woo Hoo!  Thanks, Lord!

As we were planning specific dates to drive up to Minnesota, I thought that it might be good to split the 950-mile drive between two days on the way there, rather than driving straight through (especially since I would be travelling with two active young grandsons).  I picked the city we would stay in, and found an inexpensive S*per 8 hotel.  Then, when I went to enter my W*ndam Rewards number into the reservation, I was shocked to see that I had earned a Free Night.  I don't go to hotels very often, so had been earning my rewards slowly for quite a few years.  But, I had somehow earned the required 15,000 rewards points (whatever that means).  Well, if we are going to get a free night, I am certainly not going to waste it on a S*per 8.  :)   I found a very nice room at a downtown hotel/convention center, with a hot buffet breakfast.  And, it was all FREE!  Thanks, Lord!

God so graciously directed me each step of the way in planning my trip.  He took care of every detail.  He directed me to some great deals, and then gave me extra days at work to pay for those great deals. And, he even gave us a FREE night at a fancy hotel!  What a treat!

Thank you, Lord . . . for caring about all of the details of my life!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What Will You Do Now?

Last July, I got a job at a Dentist Office.  They hired me to be the "future" full-time Office Manager, but wanted me to work part-time for "awhile" as a job-share receptionist.  I was actually kind of excited to start off as part-time, since I LOVED my part-time job at the Christian Bookstore.

I worked both part-time jobs for 6 months.  There were a lot of good things about each of the jobs.  However, working both jobs was TOUGH.  While I worked about 40 hours per week total, it was HARD to give my BEST to each job.

I am one that always wants to go "over and above" in any responsibility.  I want to not only do my best for what I am responsible for, but I want to do more and give more . . . always.  The most difficult thing about working two jobs was that I couldn't do "over and above" for either job.  While I did all that I was responsible to do, I never felt like I did "enough".  I did not have the time and energy to go in after hours to reorganize the Dental Office (something they wanted me to do, but it could not be done during regular work hours).  I did not have the time and energy to keep up with all of the back room organization at the bookstore, either.

After 6 months, it was clear that the "part-time job for awhile" was not going to become full time any time soon.  I had to make a choice.  I could not continue to do the minimum requirements of each job.  I prayed.  I prayed some more.

The Dental Office paid nearly TWICE what the bookstore paid.  Yet . . . the bookstore job was my HEART, my PASSION, my MINISTRY.  It was clear.  I needed to quit the job which paid more and had much more potential for becoming a long-term full-time career position.  

I sadly gave my notice at the Dental Office, but was EXCITED to notify my manager at the bookstore that I was now available for more hours (and would now have the time and energy to go "over and above").  He was shocked.  He was expecting me to give notice at the bookstore.

I gave a two week notice on Monday, January 23rd.  On the 24th, the dentist let me know that I could just "finish out the week", rather than working two more weeks.  (It was at that point that the Lord gave me the nudge to plan a trip to Oklahoma and Minnesota.)

On the 25th, the District Manager of the bookstore asked if I would be available to travel to Lynnwood and Everett to work at the bookstores there.  He wanted me to train the new manager and inventory control specialist in Everett, and he wanted me to cover some shifts for the manager in Lynnwood.  YES!  This was DEFINITELY one of many confirmations that the LORD gave for the decision.  I would have had to tell him "No" if I hadn't just quit my other job.

Another part of the bookstore job that had become such a PASSION and MINISTRY was to teach Bible Journaling Classes.  The other 240 stores in the chain were teaching one class every two months.  I had started teaching monthly classes last July, and by September had started teaching two classes per month.  The response from customers had been amazing.  The classes were going better than we had ever dreamed.

I had been discussing with the District Manager the need to train employees at the other stores about how to teach the classes.  He had even talked to me about doing a video training that he could share with his stores in OR, CA and MT.  This discussion had started in January, and my manager had said, "How will you have time for this?"  So, I was READY to move forward by February, after quitting my other job.

I took my quick trip to Oklahoma and Minnesota right after quitting my other job; and when I came home I was EXCITED to move forward with ALL that the bookstore job could entail!

Then . . .

on February 23rd, while working a shift at the Lynnwood bookstore, we all got the news that the Family Christian Store chain was closing its doors.  After 85 years in business, they had sold the business to a Liquidation Company.

We were . . .

Done.

Over.

Closing.



"What will you do now?"

This is the "Questions of the Week" . . . for me and for all of the employees.

My manager has been with the company for 28 years.  This is a BIG hit for him, and for others.



Several people have asked me,

"Can you get your job back at the Dentist Office?"

No.

I'm not interested.

The Lord told me very clearly, and confirmed in many ways, that I was supposed to quit that job.  And, He knew.  He knew that the bookstore would be closing.  Yet, He told me to quit . . . 3 weeks before we got the notice.

Here is the thing . . . 

If I had not obeyed the Lord when He told me to quit . . . if I had not followed his leading to quit . . . than, right now, my trust would be in my other job and not in Him.

The Lord is my Provider.  I put my trust in Him.  My job at the dentist office brought temporary provision, for which I am so very thankful.  But, the Lord is my Provider . . . today, tomorrow, and every day.



What will I do?

I have no idea what the Lord's plan is . . . for me, for my manager, for the other employees.  Family Christian Stores had 3,000 employees in 240 stores.  The Lord has a plan for each and every one of us.

I am not looking for "just a job".  No.  I am praying that the Lord would lead me and guide me into another position where my HEART is, my PASSION is, and where I can openly minister for Him.

I am trusting Him to PROVIDE and to GUIDE each and every day.

I am also THANKING the Lord for guiding us to not change our lifestyle when I took the position at the Dental Office, but to put much of our expanded earnings into a savings acct.  Oh.So.Thankful that I heard and was faithful to His voice in this area.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

7 Weekends Away in 10 Weeks

Life continues to be CRAZY and HARD, 
but with a lot of FUN thrown in, too.


January 5 - 8th

I drove 800 miles round trip,
as I took Hosanna and a friend 
back to college after Christmas Break.

Then, I took a few days away by myself,
which was a very smart thing to do,
since I had absolutely no idea
what the next 2 months would bring.


January 13 - 16th

I drove 750 miles round trip to Oregon for an
Annual Scrapbooking Weekend
at the Christian Renewal Center.


January 21 - 22nd

I stayed home . . .
but spent the weekend PRAYING
about whether or not to quit one of my jobs.
(I gave my notice at the Dentist Office on Monday.)


January 27 - 28th

I stayed home, and found out that
My Mother Died.

I drove 160 miles round trip on Sunday,
to work at the bookstore in Lynnwood.
(I was giving their manager a day off.)

I drove another 160 miles round trip on Monday,
to work at the bookstore in Everett.
(I was training their manager and
Inventory Control Specialist.)

The day that I gave notice at the Dentist Office,
the Lord opened some new doors for me at the bookstore.


February 4 - 5th

I flew to Oklahoma City on Saturday,
and began my drive to Minnesota on Sunday.


February 11 - 12th

After a whirlwind 950 mile each way trip
to Brainerd, MN for a few days,
we were back in Oklahoma City for the wknd.

I flew home from Oklahoma on the 13th,
and had 3 days to catch my breath before the next trip.


February 17 - 20th

We drove almost 400 miles to Spokane on Friday.
We drove another 400 miles to Boise on Saturday.
We drove 400 miles back to Spokane on Sunday.
We drove almost 400 miles home on Monday.

What did we do on this whirlwind trip?

We visited Hosanna at college on Friday,
and then went to Idaho to visit Rachel on Saturday.

We headed back to Spokane on Sunday,
and visited Josh and Russell on Monday.


February 23rd 
(not a weekend)

I drove 160 miles round trip,
to work at the Lynnwood bookstore again.

I was REALLY excited about ALL 
that I was doing at the bookstores.

I KNEW that I had made the right decision,
to quit the job at the Dentist Office,
because my HEART and PASSION were
to be working at the bookstore.


February 25 - 26th

I was home for the weekend . . . 

but was processing some VERY hard news
about my job at the bookstore.

Jim was away for the weekend,
at a teacher conference.

I also met with my brother to discuss some
difficult issues surrounding my mother's death.


March 4 - 5th

Ahhhhh . . .

A weekend away . . .

. . .  where I "only"  have to drive 180 miles round trip.

. . .  where I don't have any responsibility.

. . .  where I haven't had any "new" bad news to process.

. . .  where I can go to bed early, and sleep in late.

I have desperately needed a weekend where I can
rest, relax, and catch my breath.

I am away for the weekend,
scrapbooking with friends.


I just calculated that I drove over 6000 miles
in the past two months, not including
all of my "every day, around town" driving.

(Jim did much of the driving on the Boise trip, but 
on all of the other trips I was the sole driver.)


Next weekend . . .

will be my 7th weekend away in 10 weeks.

Yes.

Next weekend is our church Women's Retreat.


The following weekend . . .

Jim gets to go away for another weekend,
to a Men's Retreat in Oregon.


And . . .
the following week. . .
High School Track Season begins.

We will then have weekend Track Meets
almost every other weekend for the next 2 months.

Yea!
I LOVE Track Season!
Sarah, Josiah, and Elijah are all on the
High School Track Team this year.



Life is . . . 

Busy

Hard

Good

Challenging

Blessed

Fun




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two Weeks of Over-the-Top CRAZY!

Life has been an absolute WHIRLWIND the past two weeks.  

I have had to walk through each and every day 
putting my trust in the Lord and walking in His ways.

GOOD things!

HARD things!

BIG choices!

MAJOR decisions!

CONFUSING things!

More HARD things!

The Lord has been absolutely FAITHFUL
to lead and to guide each step of the way.

I quit one of my two jobs.
(not the one everyone would 
have expected me to quit)

The Lord prompted me to plan a mid-winter trip
to Oklahoma and to Minnesota
with only a week's notice,
and then worked out every.single.detail
in amazing ways.

Then . . . my mom died.

It's a long, hard, confusing story . . .
no one had told me she was in the hospital . . .
no one contacted me to tell me she was dying.

My mom wrote a good-bye email . . . but never sent it.
I will never know why she chose not to send it.

I found out that people I have never
heard of had planned her funeral,
without inviting her family.

So, while others were honoring her life . . .
I was on a plane to Oklahoma.

God knew the days and the timing.
He had completely orchestrated this trip.

He knew my mom was going to die.
He knew that no one had told me.

I put my trust in Him and Him alone.

I flew to Oklahoma.
(to visit 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-love, and 4 grandsons)

I drove to Minnesota with 1 daughter-in-love and 2 grandsons.
(to visit 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-love, and 3 more grandsons)


Everyone told me that I was CRAZY to drive to MN in the winter.

But . . . funniest thing . . . the day that I left,
an absolutely CRAZY snowstorm hit Western Wa.

I LOVE "Snow Days" with my family.
Jim and the boys will have their
4th "Snow Day" tomorrow . . .
no work, no school, no plans . . .
just another day to PLAY.

I wish I was there . . .
but am glad I am here . . .

The Lord knew.
The Lord orchestrated this trip.

I keep trusting Him.
I keep walking each day with Him.


More details to come . . .

of the BIG job decision . . .

of the LOSS of my mom . . .

of God's absolute FAVOR in orchestrating this trip . . .

of BIG things that I am learning . . .

of BIG things that God is doing  . . .


Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to walk
in faith with my Lord through all of the transitions.

I am TRUSTING in HIM.


Monday, January 23, 2017

A Trip to Paraguay

After almost 20 years of sending my children
out on mission trips to faraway lands . . .

the Lord opened the doors for me 
to go on TWO mission trips in 2016.

Last May, I went to Guatemala with a group
of employees from the Family Christian Store.

Then, in October, I had the opportunity to spend
10 days in Paraguay with 8 ladies from my church.

We worked with a ministry that provides micro-loans
for groups of women to build their own businesses.

This is one of their weekly financial meetings with their loan officer.


We taught sewing classes to give them ideas and skills for their businesses.


 We taught cooking classes, too.


We went shopping at the market one afternoon.


We took a side trip to Brazil to visit the Iguazu Falls,
which are one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


They were truly AMAZING!


We spent our last day working with a ministry that works with 
the poorest-of-the-poor in Asuncion, Paraguay.




It was an AMAZING trip . . .
working with WONDERFUL ministries . . .
worshiping with and praying for the Paraguayans.


I LOVE to visit other cultures . . .
to learn about how the Lord is working around the world . . .
and to be a part of what He is doing.


I am so VERY thankful for the opportunities 
that the Lord gave me in 2016 to work for Him,
and look forward to the plans that He
has for me in 2017.  

Hopefully . . .
that will be another mission trip or two.






Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Fight to the Finish

Oh how I LOVE to watch my kids run!

It was REALLY fun to have both Josiah and Elijah
on the high school x-country team this year.

Elijah is on the right, with Josiah just steps behind him as they near the finish line of their first meet.


Elijah and Josiah were running side by side at the
start of their first home meet.


After awhile, they were spread out a bit,
with Josiah in the lead.


Elijah was not far behind, though.


On the sprint to the finish line,
Josiah does not know that Elijah is gaining on him.


Elijah catches up . . .


and passes big brother in the last seconds of the race.


At some of the large meets,
the boys ran in different heats.



Some races, Josiah beat Elijah.
Other races, Elijah beat Josiah.

Both boys had such GREAT attitudes.

They really supported each other,
no matter who won the last race.

They had the BEST team that our high school has ever had,
and hope to be even better next year 
(as they only lost a couple of Seniors).

We are already looking forward to next year's x-country season . . .
but first we will enjoy track season this spring.