Exit Stage Right

I turned in my letter of resignation today to my employer of sixteen years.  Come January 2nd, I will be unemployed.

I’m a remote medical transcriptionist, which means I  transcribe clinic notes at home for the Duke University Health System. With the steady ongoing implementation of the  EMR (electronic medical record) at Duke, my job is scheduled for the chopping block in seven short months. With that deadline looming, it’s been prime time for me to take stock, rethink my priorities.

I’ve been busy in the meantime — applying for all sorts of jobs, trying to make a smooth transition to whatever God has for me. But with the present state of the economy and several other factors (my AGE, for one!), no one is exactly beating down my door to hire me. I’ve been actively searching and applying to jobs, every day for six months, with very little to show for it. In this economy, I may not have what it takes to move on somewhere else and find work. Cue Discouragement.

I won’t go into the details, but lately the job itself has left me miserable. Depleted. Totally without peace. Cue Major Discouragement.

Most people would say, “Don’t be foolish, Jean. In this economy, you just need to stick with whatever job you have and be thankful for the paycheck.”  I would usually agree, one-hundred percent.

But I also know that God sometimes puts us in a miserable spot, with NO PEACE, and turns up the heat in order to get us TO MOVE. And to move in THE RIGHT DIRECTION. I am, by nature, a PLANNER. In my heart of hearts I wanted to have a place to jump TO, before quitting my present job.That was the PLAN. But I’m finding God’s plan is different, and I’m trying to be obedient. This is an exercise in faith.

God’s made me this miserable for a reason, to take me somewhere else! He now has my full attention. Our Lord promises us the Arbitrator of Peace, the Holy Spirit, to rule our hearts and point the way — my total lack of peace is God’s indicator to me that it’s time to move on.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

My new reality hasn’t sunk in. I’m gingerly feeling my way, trying to figure out where He wants me, and what it will take to GET THERE. Whether that means online classes, taking a break and concentrating on those things needing attention at home, or just writing more, I’m not sure.

For everyone out there who is unemployed, would you mind saying a prayer for them? A prayer for God’s peace to rule in their hearts. . . and for His wisdom to guide the way? I, for one, would certainly appreciate it . . .

Always lookin’ up,

 

 

 

Tales From the 2012 Toy Drive

Ridgecrest Baptist Church, my home church, held its fifth annual Christmas Toy Drive last night. I was allowed the privilege to talk and pray with some of the women who came to “shop” for their children.

You may have preconceived notions about the people we serve at the Toy Drive. To be honest, I’ve been there too in the past. But each year I’m more humbled and moved by the stories of the folks God brings to us.

One lady, whom I’ll call Lettie, shared how 2012 was a hard year for her and her two children. She’d lost her job, subsequently lost their home, and now were reduced to living with her sister. She also told me there was the very good possibility that her sister would soon be evicted, if the landlord found out there were extra people under her roof. Lettie said she was depressed, and understandably so. She told me she’d spent many hours crying about what seemed to be a helpless situation. After questioning her and discerning Lettie not to be a believer, I gladly shared the Good News. I told her how she would not have to live helpless and hopeless anymore, if she were a believer of Christ and Child of God. She didn’t have to just have head knowledge about Jesus; she could experience “heart knowledge” of Jesus! Lettie listened intently to what I had to say, then prayed to receive Christ as her Savior. She received a Bible from our church, and I gave her a tract about the decision for Christ she’d made. I encouraged her to make sure she joined a local Bible-believing church near her home and get her children involved in church life also. I assured her that things would not change magically overnight, but now she had God’s assurance that He would keep His promises to her and HE would make a difference in her life.

I also prayed with another woman, Tabitha, who shared her difficulties. A believer, Tabitha told me her husband was also a believer of Jesus. Right now, this little family is barely making it, “squeaking by” as she put it, on his income. BUT they had a roof over their head, enough to eat, one precious child already, and another on the way. She told me things were not as they hoped, but she was so grateful for the blessings of God upon her life. After I prayed with her, Tabitha prayed aloud too. She cried, thanking the Lord for her life, for her marriage, for her children, and most of all for knowing Him! I cried and rejoiced along with her. Lastly, she thanked God for a church that would care enough to put together something like the Toy Drive because it helped families out who needed help. When we finished, Tabitha hugged and hugged on me. My goodness, I’m sure I got the much bigger blessing out of meeting! Since Tabitha lives not too far from the church and has a car, she insisted on getting literature about the church and inquired about service times. I really hope to see her and hug this precious lady again!

One more story about a lady with whom I prayed, Maureen. Maureen is a believer also. Her story was similar in some ways to Lettie’s and Tabitha, as she is no stranger to hard times. Maureen is a grandmother who is trying to raise two of her grandchildren and in the meantime is battling serious sickness.  Maureen said she just wanted to pray with someone last night because “There’s power in prayer.” She shared how she ended up with custodial control of her grandchildren and had battled over a year with a serious illness. Even though I had just met her, I could see evidence of this war raging in her body. But she assured me she knew God was her Savior and was in control, and that He would get the glory!  I prayed with Maureen and she and I cried together. Again, she was thankful for the Toy Drive and for the everyday blessings God had given to her.

I hope you received a blessing through their stories. May God receive all the glory!

Lookin’ up,

 

 

 

Heart Surgery

I have two friends who’ve recently endured the highs and lows of major heart surgery.

Duke University Medical Center is home to some of the best cardiothoracic surgeons in the country.  No small challenge, this kind of heart surgery. Part of the procedure sometimes involves replacing of  heart valves with either mechanical or pig valves, and bypass surgery to graft in new vein sections from the patient’s leg.

My first friend and church family member, Bobby Temple, fought a long and hard fight after his heart surgery. God chose to heal him permanently and called him home to heaven.

My second friend and co-worker, Jan, is now in the fight of her life. She is slowly improving, day by day. But it is a struggle. A struggle to move from a hospital bed to a chair and watch a few minutes of TV. It is a struggle to walk the hallway, IV pole at her side, even once a day. It is a struggle to acknowledge visitors, to talk a few words of conversation to them, to stay in the moment. These acts require an extraordinary amount of cardio and pulmonary efficiency, which are extremely difficult for her right now.

As I visited with Jan yesterday and then dug into the Word, it struck me how similar this epic battle is to the spiritual heart surgery that must happen to each of us. We are all born with a sinful, marred “heart” that must be removed and replaced. Replaced by one of God’s making. A new heart that has the Will and the Desires of God beating through it.

God says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them.”  Ezekiel 35:26-27

Only God can thrust His hand into a man’s being, extract a stony heart, and insert a heart of flesh. The new heart of flesh He implants . . is pliable and squishy. . .  and it beats after God.

The new heart is polar opposite to the old. It no longer seeks its own. It does not exalt worthless idols. It does not sin without discretion.

It is a heart with the Holy Spirit of God instilled in it. . . cleansing it. . . strengthening it. . .  keeping its owner pointed toward the Only One Who Saves.

I am thankful for the heart surgery God did for me, for my circle of family and friends. Where would I surely be without Him?

ARE YOU THANKFUL TODAY FOR YOUR ” NEW HEART”?  STOP AND TELL HIM HOW GRATEFUL YOU ARE TODAY–

IF YOU’VE NOT HAD A ” NEW HEART REPLACEMENT” AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO START A CONVERSATION ABOUT IT?  COMMENT BELOW AND I’LL GET BACK TO YOU VERY SOON. . . GOD BLESS!

Lookin’ up,