Today

Today is a red-letter day for me. You know on the calendar when they put special days in red and the font is big and bold or circled? That’s today for me. When I leave my office this afternoon, it will be for the last time. I will be retired from my position as a Human Resources Administrator for the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Department of Education at the Kentucky School for the Deaf. Wow… I’ve never seen it all written out that way!

I’ve learned a few things through the years of my career…

Most people are kind and want to make a difference. My career in state government has been in hospital facilities, law offices and schools. The people in every place were most interested in helping others, not themselves.

My plans are not always God’s plans! I was studying to be a concert pianist when I needed a job in college. The financial aid director at Morehead State put me to work doing payroll for the rest of the work-study students and that ended up being my career!

Peanut shells make a terrible mess on the carpet! That same financial aid director was addicted to them, and at the end of every day his desk and the floor were littered with peanut shell “dust.”

People need. Every place I’ve worked, people have come to me for advice, encouragement, prayer… I’ve been a sounding board for a lot of people, and not just because it’s part and parcel to HR. I’ve been nicknamed “Doc” in at least two workplaces. Mostly people just want to know you care.

Doctors, Lawyers, and PhD’s may be able to do a lot of things but a timesheet ain’t one of ’em!!

No matter how hard I work, it’s never done. I can cross things off my list all day, but twice as many things will be added to it. So take things one at a time. I’m preaching to myself on this one because today’s list is endless and there is no “I’ll do it tomorrow” for me on this job.

American Sign Language. Just when I’m becoming fluent in the language, it’s time to leave. That irony hasn’t escaped me, or the deaf community. But I want to take this newfound skill and run with it in my art and in how I serve God going forward.

Never wear my “kiss me, I’m Irish” button at work on St. Patrick’s Day. Somebody will!

God provides. Through my career, God provided a paycheck, vacations, sick leave when I needed it, people who helped me and mentored me, promotions, raises, education, co-workers willing to take some of the load, leaders who let me run with it, and dear friends. Dear. Friends.

God is alive and well in the workplace if I am there, because he lives in me through his precious Holy Spirit!

So today will be tough mentally, physically, and emotionally for me. But I know God is with me and has already gone before me and prepared the way. I can’t wait to see how this next chapter in my life unfolds. The next three months are already full with Bible studies to do and to teach, a new grandchild coming, travel to Denmark, a Shakespearean acting class, a new opportunity for my painting, and so much more!!

So today, as I finish the work that I can and clean out my office, pack up my stuff, and turn in my badge and my keys, say goodbye and turn a new page in this book called my life, any and all prayers are appreciated!!!!! The Lord is faithful!

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You’ll Love It

The moment I wondered about has come… That moment when I sit staring at a blank screen thinking, “I can’t write about that song again!” That moment when I’m faced with choosing something else, because there are always songs running in my brain, or being true to my mission here, and trusting The Lord to give me the words. With my tongue in my cheek I’m wondering if God is trying to tell me something, because I’m hearing the harps eternal again. Again.

Different line, on a loop… “Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb! Sing Glory!” I love that my spirit sings praise to The Lord even while I’m sleeping. And I don’t mind that it’s the same song, because didn’t my own kids do that with me? “Read it again, mom!” The same story, over and over. Same thing with a song… Singing it over and over. And I love that the musician in me is listening, not just hearing. I’m listening to all the vocal parts and the way it’s all put together, even in my head.

Mostly, I love the fact that one day God will call me to himself, and I will truly hear the harps and the angel songs and add my voice to the myriads singing praise to the Lamb and to the King. When it’s time. In His time, not mine. Which reminds me of an old worship chorus we used to sing…

in His time, in His time
He makes all things beautiful
In His time
Lord please show me everyday
As your teaching me your way
That you’ll do just what you say
In your time

Not sure I got all the words right there, but He does make all things beautiful in His time. Not mine. A little like a child waiting for Christmas… Anxious, worried, nervous, fretful… And all the while mom or dad have it all planned and prepared and they know it’s going to be wonderful and you’ll love it!

The featured image is my great-niece, Julia (left) and my granddaughter, Molly (right) waiting for Christmas. It’s gonna be awesome!!!!

Walk Worthy

I am the product of an oxymoron. I was raised in suburbia by country people. My parents were born and raised in western Kentucky, but we were born and raised (mostly) in suburban Detroit. We heard that slow southern drawl at home, but the short, quick, sharp northern accent at school and in the neighborhood. Our Kentucky cousins teased us mercilessly about it when we visited once or twice a year. A country raising in the city meant we had a little independence… Playing with our friends up and down the street, not beholden to a clock, not stuck in the house.

But we knew when it was time to come home. My dad would step out onto the little front porch stoop and whistle. Once. Didn’t matter where we were in the neighborhood, we could hear that whistle and knew we better take off running for home. If we didn’t hear it? Well, that meant we were someplace we weren’t supposed be and that was trouble of its own.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 says we are encouraged and charged to “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” Our God gives us independence and free will to walk with him on this planet, serving those he places in our lives. God calls us to himself. No, it’s not my daddy’s whistle but, as believers, we know his voice. And if we can’t hear it? Maybe we’re someplace spiritually or emotionally where we aren’t supposed to be.

My dad held me accountable for my actions. He made me feel safe and secure. He still does. I haven’t heard him whistle for a long time, but we have great conversations. Who holds us accountable now? Who in our lives charges me, so that my walk and my speech reflect Jesus? I don’t think I’ll ever get too old to need that person, that friend, that mentor who can steer me back onto the path.

I’m hearing the eternal harps again this morning in my head. I posted recently about this song, Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal. Click here to read Heaven!

The featured image is the house where I grew up in Michigan, taken last year on a visit. My dad built that garage. A few exceptions… the tree was a sycamore, the car was a Pontiac station wagon, the front window was a picture, not a bay, and that’s the porch where dad would stand and whistle for us. Calling us home.

I’m With You

Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant sing a beautiful song that depicts the story of Naomi and Ruth called, I’m With You, and it’s been stuck in my head all night long. I accompanied a duet yesterday at our church on this song. It just speaks to my heart. One of the verses…

You do your best to build a higher wall
To keep love safe from any wrecking ball
When the dust has cleared we will
See the house that Love rebuilds
Guarding beauty that lives here still

If I allow myself, I can see the “house that love rebuilds guarding beauty” that has been there, inside me, all along! I’ve heard, read, studied the story of Ruth most of my life, and I love how this song tells me to depend on others in my tough times, and to BE that person for someone else walking through their own wilderness time. But this morning, I’m hearing it differently.

Maybe it’s because I heard it all night long, every time I woke up or turned over, but I feel as though the Holy Spirit is singing this song over me through these words…

You and me
Me and you
Where you go I’ll go too
I’m with you, I’m with you,.
‘Till your heart finds a home
I won’t let you feel alone,
I’m with you, I’m with you, with you.

No matter where I go today, this week, this month, this year, or in this life, the Holy Spirit goes with me. Loving, protecting, encouraging, admonishing, lifting me up, guiding me on the road of this life. And when I love other people, maybe they will understand a little bit more that God loves them too. One more line I love…

Who can say I’m left with nothing?
When I have all of you, all of you
In the way you’ve always loved me.
I remember, He does too

The Bible gives us real life applications, and this story has been typified for weddings. But I see it as a personal reminder that I am never alone. And it reminds me that how I love others matters!

Click here to listen to I’m With You.

Heaven

On this stormy Lord’s Day, I wake up to the sound of thunder, heavy rain, and the David Crowder Band singing O Praise Him in my aching head. Aching because of the storm and the pressure system, and because I slept later than normal so coffee is in order.

Turn your ear
To heaven and hear
The noise inside
The sound of angel’s awe
The sound of angel’s songs
And all this for a King
We could join and sing
All to Christ the King

And another verse…

Turn your gaze
To heaven and raise
A joyous noise
O the sound of salvation come
The sound of rescued ones
And all this for a King
Angels join to sing
All for Christ our King

How appropriate to hear praise on the Sabbath Day! And I love these lyrics. I love to sing about heaven and what it may be like. I love to imagine the sounds and sights of heaven. I’ve read John Piper’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent (now a movie.) Both made me so excited that heaven is my final destination.

The only way to truly know what heaven is like is by being there, and though I’m in no hurry to get there, unless The Lord chooses otherwise, I am ready to go. I know where my final destination is, and I can’t wait to see my precious Jesus face to face and hear those angel songs and the sound of salvation come and rescued ones. And I will join those songs and sing praises to my God and King for eternity.

Hallelujah!!! Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

Click here to listen to the David Crowder Band perform O Praise Him

Cloud Nine

I am what they call “short.” Not in stature by any stretch (I’m a tall woman) but “short” as in “short-timer.” One week from today will be my first official day as a retired person. All the months of working and planning for these last few days are finally drawing to a close, and it’s almost time to turn in my keys and my badge and move on to the “next big thing” in my life.

I am SO excited, because God just continues to amaze me! Yesterday, the beautiful people I work with took me to lunch and threw a retirement party for me. When I got back to my office, I returned a call that has the potential to point me in a whole new direction… The one I’ve been feeling led toward for a long time… The direction I’ve been excited about and praying and hoping for… PAINTING! It may not pan out, but I’ve been on cloud nine thinking about the possibilities.

I love how God waited until my last week of working my “real” job to show me to something else. He saw my struggle with picking a retirement date, with leaving these people, with making such big changes. He knows how I feel led to stick with August 1st, and it feels as though God wanted me know that I made the right choice, that He definitely has other plans for me. And no matter what those plans may be, I want to honor God in them and through them.

I’ve never been a dreamer… You know those people who dream big and make it happen. But I’m learning. I’m taking to heart God’s promise that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I want to serve The Lord in my retirement… Which, by the way, does not exist in the scriptures. If God is willing and has a place for me, I want to lead Bible studies, serve my local church, work with missions, continue leading worship with my music, writing, cooking, art… And so much more.

Satan would have it otherwise. His fiery darts are aimed right at my heart, right at my mind and my desires. Already I have tiny niggling thoughts worming their way into my joy. The song in my head this morning is one line… “I don’t want to mess this thing up.” I’m not even sure where it comes from! But I do know that God’s will won’t take me where his grace won’t follow.

So, as my daddy always says, “Devil take the hindmost.”

the featured image is my attempt at Franz Marc’s Blue Horses and is a work in progress.

Let. It. Be.

“I wake up to the sound of music” every morning of my life, and this morning I heard almost exactly that line as my clock went off and I reached to stop it. I’m hearing the Beatles classic, Let It Be, in my head. I’m sure none of them ever had a thought that their song would be a classic, let alone end up in my devotional blog.

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be

These are great lines, and this song is every 13 year-old, fledgling pianist’s favorite. I can’t count how many of my piano students through the years that have done this song, or at least tried.

This morning, though, I need these words to soak deep into my bones.

Let. It. Be.

Stop. Leave it alone.

I have five days left in this phase of my life as a human resources administrator, and I am in major stress mode. Overwhelmed with all there is left to do before next Friday, working extra hours trying to get it all done, running up the halls to the printer and back, skipping breaks and meals… All in an effort to leave everything in as good a condition as I possibly can. And is it just me, or has the workload doubled in the last month??

I have been at peace with my decision to retire, without question. God has been leading me and calling me to other things in the last several months. But my perfectionist and control-freak self can’t seem to understand that all I can do is all I can do. This morning, I hear the words to this song and know deep in my heart that God is saying, “let it be, child. Do what you can to the best of your ability and I will take care of the rest.”

And so, today, I shall try my best to let it be. To let go of the control I’m trying to keep over everything, to stop pretending that I can do everything on my own, and ask for help. And enjoy my last few days with people I love and appreciate. And pack.

Oh, the packing! Let it be! It will get done.

I’m Alive

“I’m on fire.” This one line is running in my head this morning, and I had to look it up to see where it came from. It’s a song by Peter Furler called I’m Alive. Here are the words to the chorus:

I’m alive
I’m on fire
And my spirit burns with desire
You set me alight
Bright-eyed
And with no way to hold it inside
I wanted to thank You
Thank You
Thank You

My kids all grew up going to church camp every summer at Aldersgate, a tiny Methodist camp outside Ravenna, Kentucky. All of them considered Aldersgate their second home at one point or another, and they all counseled or worked there in their teen years. They would come home with a bag full of filthy, muddy, damp clothes infested with crawly things and packed in clay from the famous “clay wall.” Cheesy bread and swimming still fresh in their minds, and the fire of the Holy Spirit still fresh in their hearts.

I lived for those summer weeks when the kids came home on fire for God! They would spend a week playing, singing, learning, praying, worshipping, absorbing all that God had to pour into their hearts and minds… And then come home still lit up with it, ready to share it, even when they counseled or worked! The fire of the Holy Spirit is contagious!!

If I’m on fire, if my spirit burns with desire, if God has set me alight with his love and grace and mercy, then there will be no way to hold it inside! Just like my kids every summer, and even since then. A couple of them still go back to visit every summer because they’re family now. Many of those camp kids have gone on to full-time ministry and mission work. I’m thankful that nearly 25 years ago, our pastor suggested that our oldest go with his son to Aldersgate for a week. Life changing for our whole family for generations.

Fire burns, consumes, cleanses, purifies, warms, spreads… And I don’t want to put it out!!