What Matters Most: Loving God & Living Simply…part one

It’s getting close to my birthday and there’s nothing like getting a year older to make me stop in my tracks and ponder life. There is no doubt in my mind I want to make changes. How will I go about it? What are my first steps? I ask myself questions:

  1. What matters most?
  2. What have I accomplished?
  3. What do I want to accomplish?
  4. What do I need to eliminate?
  5. What brings me joy?
  6. What needs changed?
  7. What needs to stay the same?
  8. What is God leading me to do?
  9. Are there people I need to distance myself from?
  10. What goals do I need to set right now?

Wow. That seems like a lot of questions. I’ll answer the first one first: What matters most? To love God and live simply. This is what is the most important to me and how I want to move forward with my life.

The next few weeks I will be answering these questions, and I will share my thoughts here. This is my way of taking steps to change my life and to recognize my priorities. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck, like my feet are trying to ice skate in mud. It just doesn’t work. And some things in my life don’t seem to be working, either.

OK, back to my answers of what matters most. This answer has two parts, so today I will address the first part. For me, loving God is where it all starts, where it all leads, and where it all ends. God comes first. Without him, I am nothing. So, how do I plan on loving God?

  • Through daily prayer. My conversations with God can be lengthy or short, complex or simple, tearful or happy. The important thing is to keep the relationship strong and active. I totally believe God understands my frustrations, anxieties, heartaches, sorrows, and joys and wants me to lay them all out to him. Part of the healing is in our communication.
  • With daily devotionals. One book of devotionals I’ve been reading is Jesus Calling. It’s written as though God is talking to me. I am his child, He loves me, and I am important. Most days it touches a part of my heart that needs healed. I will continue with this, and I will add in a variety of other readings from time to time.
  • By studying God’s Word. By not only reading the Bible, but actually studying thoughtfully what it says and gaining understanding, it draws me deeper into a relationship with him. I will read the Bible daily and continue my Wednesday night Bible Study at church.
  • Journaling. My journaling often turns into “Dear God” letters. What I cannot say with my tongue, I can usually write into words. It has been sporadic in the past, but I will strive to make this a daily practice now.
  • Worship. Oh boy…this is where things get really complex and uncomfortable. I haven’t been attending worship services for a multitude of reasons. My agoraphobic issues, for one. The rest I cannot disclose for risk of being fired from my job. Suffice to say things are uncomfortable. This week, I’m going to see if a pastor within another denomination would be willing to talk with me about my concerns and perhaps give me some guidance, or at the very least pray for me.

So there is step one. This step has been relatively easy, thus far, but I know there will be more challenges to come.

If you’d like to follow along with me on this journey toward a new life, subscribe.

Take care of you.

Trish

The Handshake

Just yesterday, I posted something on Facebook about acts of kindness, some examples of acts I thought were kind, like replacing an empty roll of toilet paper, changing a lightbulb for someone who cannot climb, and a few others.  I asked for the thoughts of folks on what they considered acts of kindness, but no one responded.

Today, while working at the church, I was shown an act of kindness that took me by surprise, and it warmed my heart.

A young man came into the church office and sat down.  It is not unusual for strangers to come into the church and I was studying him as he sat down across from me, on the opposite side of my desk.  Often, I have an immediate sense in someone’s presence whether I should be fearful or not.  I felt no fear of him.

During our conversation, he mentioned he liked our church, he really liked our Sanctuary.  I shared with him of the first time I walked into our Sanctuary and immediately a warm feeling came over me that I was home, and I invited him to visit us some Sunday.  He shared the name of the church he was presently attending, of which I was vaguely familiar with.  Then he thanked me for my time and as he was walking out the door, he said, “I will come back to visit some Sunday.”  Normally when someone tells me that, I think nothing of it.  But I believe he meant it.

Now, here’s the part that took me by surprise.  He must have gotten about half way to the front door when he turned around and came back to the office and asked, “What is your name?”  I told him it was Trish and he walked over to me with hand extended and said, “My name is _____, and I am glad to meet you.”

Wow.

This stranger took the time to ask my name and shake my hand.  I know it sounds like something so small, but it seemed so kind at the time.  It was a “moment” that made my day.  Someone took a moment out of their day to know my name.

Maybe too often we don’t do kind things because we think it’s going to take a lot of effort, or cost too much money, or take too much time.  With just a few seconds, a few words, and a handshake, a positive difference was made to my day.  I’m still smiling inside.

Take a moment to be kind to someone.

Blessings
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I Love My Job!

Who woulda thunk it?  I can honestly say at age 56 that I love my job.  But I had to serve my time in life to get to this point.

At age 17, my goal in life was to get a job, any job, to support myself while I went to college to become a journalist.  My parents refused to support me.  They wanted me to go to the same college my brother did and become something safe, like a secretary, nurse, or medical assistant.  I considered the medical assistant and even visited the college, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I also discovered I did not like the sight of other people’s blood.  And I sure wasn’t willing to kill a bunny rabbit in the laboratory.

operatorAt age 18, I got a job with C&P Telephone Company as a telephone operator.  I also got married.  Our plan, I thought, was for me to work a couple years, then quit and go to college.  It didn’t happen.  The phone company paid well for office work, was union wages, and great benefits.  There was no way my husband was going to support me while I went to college.  I had to work.

So work I did.  Odd hours, holidays, weekends.  I started out on the old cord boards in 1978.  I didn’t mind parts of the job, but I hated the way people treated me.  The phone let anonymous people rip me apart verbally for no reason.  Just saying “hello” got the obscenities started.  After all, I worked for the phone company, I must be a bad person.

I was young, so the crazy hours weren’t really horrible.  Back then I could handle only six hours between shifts.  There’s no way I could do that now.  Now, I would prefer that there be a couple days in between work days.

Much happened with telephone technology over the next thirty years.  Operators needed to keep up with the changes in training and equipment.  Computers took center stage and kept advancing.  I spent some years as a Trainer, some as a Service Assistant, some as Management Replacement, and some as a Telemarketer with AT&T.  I wasn’t very good at that one, but I was a good operator.  And I hated it.  By this time I had several years under my belt and I needed to think about preparing for retirement, a pension, and health insurance, all the things mature adults have to think about.  Doggone it.

So I put in my time and finally had my thirty years of service in.  When they offered me a financial incentive to leave, I thanked them very much and did not let the door hit me in the butt as I high tailed it out of there.  My blood pressure was high, I was depressed and miserable.  I was only 48, which is kind of early for retirement, but my health was an issue and my sanity was going to become an issue.   It was time.

I enjoyed not working for about six months.  It was really nice.  But then there was an opening for a volunteer in the church office to do the monthly newsletter, and I took it.  And then there was a volunteer opening one day a week in the church office as secretary, and I took it.  Then another day was open for a volunteer to prepare the weekly Sunday Bulletin for worship services, and I took it.  Before I knew it, I was volunteering four days a week at the church, four hours a day.  I loved it, but I was also thinking about the future and retirement, and knew I needed a job that paid some money.  I had to keep in mind my social security and whether or not it would even be available when I reached my 60’s.  There was much to consider when I was my only source of income and the only person I could rely on for my future.

In 2010, about two years after I had retired, a new pastor came to our church who was interested in hiring a secretary to work all five days instead of relying on volunteers.  I was blessed to be hired as the new Office Manager.

It’s never boring working at my church.  There are always people in and out, problems to be solved, things happening, and work to be done.  I could not begin to tell you all the things I do.  There’s everything from paying the church’s bills to preparing and publishing the church newsletter and bulletins, ordering supplies for the church and committees, to tracking membership and attendance, and numerous small things that pop up.  There are some days the phone doesn’t stop ringing, and some it doesn’t ring once.  Some days there are several people in and out of the office, and some days none.  Recently, one day within an hour I had five people come into the office starting with, “Will you do me a favor…?”  I enjoy them all.  I love working by myself most of the time, but I also love the fellowship of the church family.

When a young person is starting out, I always tell them to follow their heart in ernestinewhat they do, to not ever let anyone deter them from their passion.  If they have a dream, find a way.  I hold fast to that.  I will never know how my life would have turned out had I followed my first passion, but that’s OK with me now.  I took a long detour, but I have a job now I love, it makes me smile, and I get to do some writing now and then.  I think God has me where he wants me, for now.