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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rock Solid

"For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)


About a year and a half ago when I had just started working as a contractor at Mannatech, I was asked to write a script for a new message of the month series that the company was launching. I didn't know a lot about the company yet, but I did a lot of online research and found as much printed copy as I could to get a feel for the place; at that point, I was fairly prepared to begin my assignment. But before I began actually writing, I took one more important step. I prayed.

Now, I don't believe God cares specifically about the success of the company where I work, but I do know He cares about me and that he wants me to come to him about everything and anything. So, I prayed, "Lord, this is an important project for me. Please just help me do my best and be my best." And He did. I was told that I "hit it out of the ballpark." After that, I went on to write the rest of the scripts for the year. And I follwed the same preparation process each time, successfully.

As 2009 ended, I had been interviewing different places for a full-time job. Mannatech had not yet offered me a position, but I began to hear rumors that it could happen. I found another company that I thought would be the perfect place for me. And while I began to do some freelance work for them, a job offer did not come. I prayed for this specific job, telling God that this was the one I wanted. But still, nothing happened. As I began to get deeper into a Bible study, I realized that I was going about this situation all wrong. So the next time I prayed it was to say, "God, I want to be where You want me to be. I know I'll be happy wherever that is."

And each time I prayed in that way, asking for what He wanted rather than what I wanted, things began to happen. So, when the job offer from Mannatech came, I knew I was in the right place. I love what I do, and the great thing is that I can still do the other work I enjoy on the side. He really did know what was best.

As my Jesus Calling book says, "Seek my face, and you will find fulfillment of your deepest longings." Another recent devotion in the book reminded me, "Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive. When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me.... I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it."

Now a full-time employee, I have seen several management changes and a whole new redirection in our company focus. My department plays a key role in creating new materials that will help bring a more cohesive and comprehensive message to the market. So, suddenly, we had a HUGE project that would have a big impact on the whole company, and, of course, we only had a short time to pull all the copy together to meet a printing deadline. Whew! Nothing like a little pressure.

For about a week, I worked through my lunches, worked late, took work home, and worked over the weekend. There was one other writer who helped on this project, but still, there was a lot of compiling, writing, editing, and rewriting going on. I was slightly overwhelmed, but I wasn't worried. Every time I began to work on this project, I prayed before I started. When I was done, I felt confident that I had produced quality work. But how would management feel?

Our Director of Marketing read through everything today (Tuesday) and when she came to talk to me, she said, "Nina, this copy is rock solid." Awesome! Of course, in my mind I couldn't help but think it was actually "Rock" solid. Because even though this wasn't a life or death situation, I can still say, "On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand" no matter what issue I'm dealing with, even if it's just doing my job to the best of my ability.

Are you Rock solid? Did you ever think that God just wants your attention, and if the only time you talk to Him is when you are having problems, He just might keep allowing problems to find you? Why not try this instead: "Come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:8)  It's His promise. Draw close to God every day, about everything - good or bad. He wants to hear from you.


The top photo of rocks is from my collection. I like to pick up interesting rocks and stones from different places Bart and/or I go. I think I just may look at them in a different light from now on, as a reminder of the solid Rock I stand on each day.

I replaced the second photo on Wednesday because when I got to work, I was given the "You Rock" rock from my department - it's part of an ongoing recognition program that started earlier this year. Each department has a rock that they pass around to different people within their department when they do something worthy of praise. I thought it was extra special that I earned it with this project. :)

For the lyrics to the song mentioned in my blog:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Silver Linings

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
(1 Thes. 5:16-18)


Recently, someone asked my husband if I was happy living in Texas instead of Florida, he answered, "I guess so; she's so even keeled, it's hard to tell." And he's right. I'm really not an overly emotional person. I'm pretty content with most things and it takes a lot to get me super excited or to really rile me up or make me cry. At least that's the way I am now.

But that wasn't always the case. If you were to ask my sisters and brother, I'm sure most of them will remember that I used to get upset very easily... either screaming in frustration (when they were arguing or fighting) or crying over silly, unimportant things. In fact, when I was in my 20s and going through some difficult situations that are really just a part of being a responsible adult, I often allowed myself to get agitated and tearful over minor issues.

Luckily, by the time I met Bart, I had outgrown a lot of my emotional ups and downs. I learned that things are not always as bad as they seem; that crying doesn't really fix anything (but sometimes you feel better after getting it out); that it's okay to reach out to others for help instead of trying to totally carry our burdens alone; and that "I am responsible for the day I create for myself."

I got that from one of the Inner Peace Cards from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, which I try to pull out on a regular basis to help me think positively and realign my focus. The back of the card says, "The choice is up to you. It can either be a 'Good morning, God!' or a 'Good God - morning!'" [I'm including the Amazon link here because I have had these cards for years, but I use them over and over, and I still think they're great!] It's all about your attitude and looking for the silver lining in the clouds not just on days when things seem a little overcast, but every day.

Here are a couple examples of how this attitude of gratitude works for me:
1) I've been having some car trouble lately. It actually went on for several days because even after we thought it was fixed, I still kept having problems with my clutch. But instead of getting angry or frustrated or upset about the hassle and the money it was costing to get it taken care of, I was calm and patient and thankful. Why?

Because we have two vehicles and slightly different schedules, so Bart and I were able to work out a plan so we both made it to work despite the inconvenience. We also had Jena and Karl (Bart's sister and brother-in-law) who were wonderful about helping us out and willing to do even more if we needed it. And we had a charge card to pay for the repairs. (Of course we're trying hard not to use charge cards these days, but we were grateful to have one to use in an emergency. Not everyone has that option.)

2) Another example of mind over matter and being thankful in all circumstances has to do with my headaches. I've been getting migraines more frequently over the last year. They are painful and annoying, and sometimes I end up praying that they will go away. But, here's what I'm thankful for. Unlike some people, I can actually function through my migraines; I don't have to lie down in a dark room until it goes away (although taking migraine meds and sleeping it off helps). Also, I have a prescription that works for me and insurance that covers part of it. I don't like having to take the pills all the time, but I know when I take them, they work. And I am grateful that this is my biggest health issue because I know there are so many people who are dealing with much more painful or even life-threatening issues.

This daily devotional that I picked up recently, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young has some awesome words on this and many similar topics. They are great to read as if Jesus were talking directly to you. These are a couple of my favorites this month: "If you learn to trust Me - really trust me with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me." (from May 7th) and "Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me." (from May 10th)

So, these days, I don't let the issues of everyday life blind me to the good that can be found. The loving support system I have with Bart and both of our families, the friendships I have made over the years (even within the past two years here in Texas), and the faith that I continue to work on growing and strengthening all play large parts in helping me to see the silver linings more clearly each and every day.

Are you ready for tomorrow? It may be partly cloudy, but it's gonna be another bright, beautiful day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Beauty of Imperfection

"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
(2 Cor. 12:9)


What do you see when you look at this dandelion? For me, the first thing I noticed was that it was imperfect.

I had gone out to the backyard one day to take some nature photos (using my macro lens, which I LOVE). I saw a dandelion in the yard. (I just discovered that these are called parachute balls.) But it wasn't whole. I wanted a beautiful, perfectly round picture of one of these parachute balls to add to my collection of photos. So, I glanced around the yard, but there were no other dandelions to be seen, and so I had to settle for this one.

The reason I chose this photo for my first blog entry is because I think the whole experience of looking for and striving for perfection is a big part of who I am, even though I know I will never achieve it. As an editor, this kind of focus is very important to what I do and what is expected of me daily in my work. It has also affected the length of time it has taken me to write this first blog and the number of times I have reread it before posting.

As a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend ... I know I fall way short of perfection. I try to be considerate and helpful in the things that I do and the things that I say. And I think that my actions are often perceived as good and thoughtful. But I also recognize that sometimes my heart or the motivations behind my words and actions are not quite right. Sometimes I respond to others with irritation when they haven't done anything wrong. Or I react too quickly without thinking or praying about a situation. Or I spend too much time doing things that don't really matter and I forget to focus on what's really important, like spending time with my husband or adding a quiet time to my day.

Still, I believe that being aware of and recognizing my weaknesses has helped me to continue to reach up and reach out each day. Not toward perfection, but toward things like finding my purpose in life, developing more compassion for others, and feeling and acting or reacting with real love (selfless, not selfish), especially on days when others may seem "unlovable." I am definitely striving to be more than who I am right now. Not in a famous way, but in a real truth-seeking, life-living way.

Anyway, the bottom line is ... okay, here comes the surprise ... I am not nor will I ever be perfect. There ... I admitted it. But my eyes are being opened to the importance of everyday moments and how we react to them or how we change because of them. Noticing the beauty around us. Spending time really talking to someone you care about. Finding things to laugh about every day. These are the types of things I'd like to share in my blog as it develops and grows.

Speaking of growth ... I took advantage of another opportunity to photograph my dandelion parachute ball, and this time I got a little closer to the image I was looking for. Sometimes it just takes a little persistence and patience.


Here are links to a couple daily devotionals that I subscribe to that also dealt with the concept of perfection and spurred me to finally write this post: May 1-2, 2010 Devotionals 1, 2010