Friday, May 24, 2013

Well-acquainted with waiting

The events in Moore, OK this past week hit close to home. My aunt had just moved into a house in Moore, and it was essentially totaled by the devastating EF5 tornado. She was home alone watching television, and her show was not interrupted with a warning. Hit in the head by a few pieces of debris, she did experience a concussion, but praise God there was no internal bleeding.

Thankfully, my cousins live within a few miles of her, so she was able to find refuge in their home the night the tornado hit. My cousin's wife kept us all updated on my aunt's condition and ended the night saying that the biggest challenge they faced was waiting for dawn and waiting to see what was left of the house.


As I tried to wrap my mind around my aunt's new season of waiting (for a night and for many months ahead), my own seasons of waiting shifted in perspective. Yes, they are still meaningful and challenging for me, but when you see someone else's unique season of waiting, it can be comforting to know you're not alone.

My thoughts wandered to Jesus' seasons of waiting. He is well-acquainted with waiting. Growing up, He was waiting for the time to begin His ministry. He learned the trade of a carpenter and then began teaching in the Temple. But He had to wait until He received God's blessing to begin His ministry on earth. What anticipation must He have felt to pursue His calling?

Then, He was ultimately waiting to die. He knew what He was sent to earth to do (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, etc.). What agony must He have felt during that season of waiting? 

And now...even now He is waiting. God is waiting for the right time to move forward with His plan. How comforting is it to know that what He asks of me (to wait on Him), He endures Himself. God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, and yet He Himself waits for the right time.

He is there with me in my season(s) of waiting. And so I will wait with courage and faith that He is growing me into who I need to be through the waiting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The best kind of text

Have you ever received a prayer, specifically prayed for you, in writing? Isn't there something so moving about seeing that prayer and knowing the thought and faith behind it?

I recently received such a prayer via text from a sweet friend of mine. I had asked her earlier in the day for prayer, and she not only responded but allowed me to experience her prayer for me as she prayed it:

This dear friend and I regularly share me encouraging texts of verses and quotes. Of course, we fellowship face-to-face as well, but during a busy day at work or a late night on the weekends, sharing words that inspire and build up via text or social media can not only be experienced in the moment but in the next moment and a moment tomorrow and a moment down the road.

When people ask for prayer, do you demonstrate your faithfulness to pray? Do you call them so you can pray over the phone or pull them away from the crowd to pray together?

I know it can seem intimidating at times, but the Bible says the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Not the complicated or long or eloquent prayer. Not the drawn-out or super-holy or all-inclusive prayer. Not the well-planned or written-out or quotable prayer. 

"Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue." ~Adam Clarke

"The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him." ~William McGill

As I write, I know I am addressing myself more than anyone else. Sometimes, I find it easier to pray for someone else than to pray for myself. I often rely on the fact that God knows my thoughts before I do, and then I don't take the time to articulate them to Him. Isn't that a selfish view? I'm more focused on myself and my time than on investing in my relationship with Him. Prayer is more about changing me than it is about changing God. It takes a conscious effort - just like our relationships on earth require dedicated, quality time.

My friend's prayer not only encouraged me in my specific time of need, but it encourages me to see how she communicates with the Lord, and it inspires me to strike up that conversation where I left off...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Private (please don't read)

It's more and more rare to meet someone who says they are a private person.

Social media has opened wide the door of self-promotion, TMI, and WTMI (Way.Too.Much.Information). Do you ever have those Jim and Pam moments from The Office when you just wish there was a camera there to capture your "I-can't-believe-they-wrote-that" look?

Somehow, sitting at our computers, looking at lit screens and tapping on plastic keys empowers us to tell all. Some people are all too honest, while others "pen" the life they imagine. I don't think all of us realize the longevity of our digital footprint. It's like a tattoo: You can try to remove it, but there is just no way to make it all disappear.

I remember when I first signed up for FB in 2004, almost a decade ago (wow!). I was so cautious of putting anything on my page. I'm pretty sure I put my name (with a hesitant "click" to submit my last name) and stumbled my way through posting a profile picture. There was no way I would fill out all of those "About Me" questions for the world to see.

And then, things gradually relaxed. More and more people joined FB, posting more and more things. When I saw someone post a few pictures from an event, I decided that was a good idea. Pictures are harmless, right? We all know where that can get people in trouble now, especially with tagging. When I saw someone post answers to the "About Me" questions, I rationalized filling out the template for myself. These sections can be tasteful or not...

As the years went by, more and more personal things were posted: relationship statuses, feelings about other people or work or school, opinions about political and social and religious issues, etc. Then, people started posting very personal and detailed status updates including personal hygiene, arguments and bad feelings, and complaints about how they were being treated.

Instead of chiming in, I decided to back away and focus on a few things: photos, keeping in touch with friends, and sharing (hopefully) encouraging articles and quotes. This evening, I was introduced to a new-to-me author, Emily Freeman. Something about her "voice" resonates with me. Despite being a blogger who discusses her faith and personal life, she has a very respectable sense of privacy in her words. You see into her heart and yet don't feel as though she over-shares.

A recent post of hers inspired my post tonight. In her entry entitled when it's good to keep your art a secret, Emily touches on her journey of learning the balance between over-sharing and right-sharing.
Regarding keeping the details of an upcoming book under wraps for longer than usual, she says, 

"There is a sweetness for me in keeping quiet this time, in holding my art close to my chest for a while, in sitting with my words and ideas in silence month after month before I begin to talk about them, in carrying my questions with a few people before I ask them in front of many."

How much could we learn during the silence, during the quiet moments when we ponder our thoughts and feelings before, if ever, broadcasting them? It's so easy to think something or feel a certain way, pick up your phone, open an app, and tap out a few words that could have lasting consequences. What if, instead, we forced ourselves to wait at least an hour? How many guilty consciences, relationships, and heartaches would be saved?

So, I challenge you: Wait an hour.

 And if you need a distraction, here are a few things you could do in that hour of waiting:

1. Write a thank-you note.
2. Pray.
3. Plan your grocery list.
4. Call your mom.
5. Read a book or magazine.
6. Fix yourself a snack.
7. Go on a walk.
8. Organize your email.
9. Encourage someone.
10. Plan your next service opportunity.

You can get a lot done in an hour! Psalms 90:12

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I want to be a sponge

Seven months ago, I accepted a position at a company that, although it had been around for seven years or so, was really more of a start-up in terms of infrastructure. At the time, I was two years out of grad school and working on building my experience and moving forward in my career. The previous companies I worked for were large enough that I had the opportunity to observe experts in their respective fields but little personal opportunity to tackle out-of-the-box challenges and have any true influence on decision-making.

One of the main enticements for this new role was the opportunity to help build something - to be a part of a small team that would ultimately build out a department and support the whole organization from a human resources perspective.

Over the past seven months, I have done everything from making copies to implementing an HRIS system; proofreading offer letters to writing policies; filing paperwork to traveling to give open enrollment benefits presentations; counting employee time punches to developing marketing materials and working on executive compensation agreements. I have learned that you are never too experienced to "get in the weeds." It is so important to keep a pulse on the daily tasks that keep a department and a company running because only then can you make informed decisions about what needs to happen at a higher level.

I am fortunate to be on a team of well-versed experts in the field of human resources. I am by far the most junior on the team, so my goal is to be a sponge. My colleagues are former managers, directors, and VP's of other companies who have taken a step back from the large company opportunities, set aside egos and pensions, and dug their heels in to come together and create something great from the ground up. Recently, I traveled to Colorado with my EVP and a Director on my team, and I had the privilege of watching our EVP roll up his sleeves and sit down with a pile of new hire paperwork for hours to put it all in order. Nothing is too menial for him to work on, and this view of teamwork is so refreshing to me.

Each day has its new challenges. It seems there is always a fire to put out somewhere. The workload can be overwhelming, but I realize what an incredible opportunity this is to learn and grow.

So just remember: Each task you perform, no matter how small, is integral to your work, and your attitude makes all the difference!